Michelle Obama’s Final Interview as FLOTUS Will Be With Oprah

In her final interview as First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama will sit down with none other than Oprah Winfrey to reflect on her eight years spent in the White House with her family. The interview will be conducted in the Obamas’ private residence within 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The special taping will be called First Lady Michelle Obama Says Farewell to the White House — An Oprah Winfrey Special – and, yes, we’re crying as we write this. The interview will be produced in partnership by CBS and OWN, and will first air on CBS December 19 at 8 PM EST, and again on OWN December 21st at 9 PM EST.

Speculation over what the Obamas’ post-presidency lifestyle will entail has included rumors of multi-million dollar book deals for both Barach and Michelle, with  Raphael Sagalyn, of the ICM/Sagalyn Literary Agency, telling The New York Times “I think Michelle Obama has the opportunity to sell the most valuable first lady memoir in history.”

Obama ranked 13th on this year’s Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful Women, above Winfrey’s ranking of 20th.

Spanx Founder Sara Blakely is the World’s Youngest Female Billionaire

Here’s some Friday motivation for you: See that photo to the left? That’s the smile of a very, very rich woman. Sara Blakely is the latest addition to Forbes magazine’s annual Billionaire’s List, complete with a record-breaking title. At 41-years-old, the Spanx creator has been named the youngest self-made female billionaire female. 

As the story goes, Blakely left her 9 to 5 with just $5,000 to her name when she dreamed up the popular shapewear concept at just 27 years old. After a few years of notable success, her career skyrocketed when Queen Oprah featured Blakely on her show and including Spanx in her popular "Favorite Things" episode. 

Will Lanai In Hawaii Be Home To A Real ‘Hunger Games’?

When you think of Hawaii, the last island that would most likely come to mind is Lanai. Well, to be honest, it’s a toss-up between Lanai and Molokai, both of which are sister islands to the more popular Maui. Molokai is known for its coconut grove—and that’s about it. The biggest tourist attraction is riding a mule down to Kalaupapa National Historical Park, and this is not an attempt to be ironic. But, unlike Lanai, Molokai is more or less self-sustaining, and it’s still a popular destination for off-the-radar junkies, not to mention there’s a jackpot of royal Hawaiian history that locals love. Molokai is not going to change, but Lanai can go down in history as the island that completely transformed in a matter of years.

Lanai is the sixth largest Hawaiian island, which means it’s one of the smallest. There are only 3,000 locals here, most of whom know each other. When I visited, locals had warned me pre-arrival to stay no more than one night, adamant there’s not much to do there. And they were right. The best highlight attraction was Garden of the Gods, an area of million-year-old rock formations and boulders along a cliff where, in the distance, you can see some of the other islands. Around dusk, the sun hits the soil and rocks in such a way that it presents a cool hybrid of colors.

Over on the other side of the island, Shark’s Bay (or Shark’s Cove) is another natural phenomenon that should be the set of a movie (and it was, if you ever saw the last reincarnation of The Tempest with Helen Mirren). The biggest thrill of this natural landscape is the myth that goes with it. According to legend, a Hawaiian princess had a jealous boyfriend who would lock her in a cave while he was away. One fatal day, she drowned during an abnormal high tide. Grieved, he buried her in the natural rock formation as a tribute in what is now known as Sweetheart Rock, and apparently her remains are still there today.

Hawaii

And there you have it: that’s Lanai in a (coco)nutshell. So why do visitors come to this 140-square mile island with only 30 miles of paved roads, lack of traffic lights and corporations, and no nightlife or surf spots?

The most obvious answer is the two Four Seasons properties—The Lodge at Koele and Manela Bay—that truly offer that "destination resort" experience. I stayed at the Four Seasons Lanai at Manela Bay, a 236-room property that—in 2007—took over that hotel where Bill Gates got married in 1992. Here, there’s lush tropical gardens within the resort, a terrific Nobu restaurant that has insane views of the bay, and a stretch of sandy white beach that never gets crowded. I spent some time sitting at the Four Seasons al fresco bar and chatting up the ex-pat bartender who couldn’t give me more than two reasons one should visit the island.

"Why are you here?" I asked him. He pointed out the isolation, the fact no one could find you, and perhaps strongly suggested (or, maybe, in my wild interpretation) he was running from the law. Unlikely, but Lanai is the type of place you have to create all sorts of crazy stories in your head in order to have a little fun.

And, to a degree, the bartender is right. Lanai is the type of place one would go to simply feel removed from the rest of the world. The properties are a proper getaway for celebrities who truly want to trek off the beaten path (there’s no paparazzi in Lanai). It’s so off the radar that there were rumors Tom Cruise was considering buying an estate when he visited the island for vacation earlier this year. Oh, you didn’t hear? It’s because nothing really leaves the island.

Hawaii

The biggest headlining news that actually went international was that the island was bought by billionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison. Lanai has always been privately owned, and as the “owner” of the island, Larry is the head honcho. Locals see him as a mayor, so to speak. Since he came on board late last year, he’s created new jobs, fixed up some messy buildings, and added benches to Dole Square Park. He also wants to make the island self-sufficient by turning to organic farming. For $500 million dollars (the price tag of the island), Larry calls the shots. It’s like a fantasy video game – only real.

So, what exactly is in store for Lanai, the island that time forgot or, more appropriately, the island no one will remember if Larry doesn’t completely give it a major overhaul? How far can he take his ownership? At press time, Lanai had the lowest unemployment rate among the islands, and there was a two-percent decline in visitors. It’s a terrific island to visit but there could be massive changes as Lanai is practically within Larry’s fate. Depending on his motives and vision, here’s a number of things that could be the potential outcome of Lanai (all completely theorized while on the island, natch), which could change it forever.

Lanai Could Become Home to a Real Hunger Games. Back in the day (thousands of years ago), Lanai was actually a prison island. Women from Maui were dropped off here and had to fend for themselves. If history repeats itself, Lanai could be in trouble (or, we could see a great deal of entertainment). Currently, hunting is legal in Lanai, and spear diving/fishing is a popular activity amongst locals. An actual Hunger Games scenario is not unlikely if Larry neglects the locals and fails to give proper (and more) jobs.

Oprah Could Take Over Lanai. Last year, Oprah made a surprise, quiet visit to the island, shacking up at Four Seasons Lodge at Koele and visiting some of the island highlights. She was also in a bunch of meetings. Could she possibly be the new caretaker of the island should Larry call it quits? Can we expect her to dole out chunks of land the way she gives out cars to audience members?

Lanai Becomes Four Seasons Island. Four Seasons really is the main reason visitors come to the island for, and they currently manage two of the three hotels on the island. The other, Lanai Hotel, is a small, historic hotel in town, and the first hotel on the island, but doesn’t have as much game as FS. What will happen if visitors continue to flock to Four Seasons, and Lanai Hotel gets no love? It means Four Seasons may take over the third property and do what Disneyland did for Orlando. Hey, this is actually not a bad thing. Cocktails on the island, however, will average $16. BYOB.

Lanai Could Become the Next Oahu. This is very unlikely but what if Larry passes his island over to his two children in their thirties, one of whom is David Ellison, an easy-on-the-eyes, American film producer and CEO of Skydance Productions (he produced Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol)? Their imaginations could go wild and, seeing the lack of "party" on the island, they would arrange booze cruises, Coachella-type festivals, and even some pop-up hotels where they fly in world renowned DJs like Calvin Harris to perform beachside. Again, not a bad thing.

Lanai Remains As… Lanai. Perhaps the most plausible (and yet, unmoving) outcome is that Lanai doesn’t change at all. A few more locals get more jobs, Four Seasons continues to brim at occupancy, and the island continues to keep its "Aloha" spirit with the little it offers. Organic farming is implemented and, well, that’s about as much that happens. At least it will give visitors a little more room for imagination.

Hawaii

[Related: BlackBook Honolulu Guide; More by Jimmy Im; Follow Jimmy on Twitter]

Trolling the Oscars: Why None of These Movies Deserve to Win Best Picture

Welcome to the internet, where all of my opinions are right. You know what’s so great about being able to log into a CMS account and self-publish my thoughts and ideas? No matter how I actually feel, everything I write online comes across as completely sincere and competent, even when the things I write are neither of those things! It’s a brave new world we’re living in, when tweets can be art and art can be criticized by any person with an idea for a clever hashtag. Naturally, it’s time to harness this power by showing you exactly why none of the nine nominees for Best Picture deserve to win a goddamn thing. Let’s go!

Amour

Oh, come on. You didn’t see Amour. You know how I know this? Because I didn’t see Amour. I didn’t see this movie because I could just call my grandparents and ask them to speak to me in French for two hours. At least the phone call would be free! And hey, maybe I’d get twenty bucks out of it or somewhere, whereas Amour would cost me at least thirteen dollars and bring with it a lot of emotional anxiety. Anyway, this movie should not win, but I kind of wish it would if only so I can quickly take screenshots of midwestern teenagers tweeting about how they don’t know what Amour is. That’s how blogging works!

Argo

Ugh, Argo. Argofuckyourself, indeed, Argo! The major point about Argo was that Ben Affleck can direct a movie, which comes as a surprise to literally no one because he has already directed two movies that people liked a lot. The other reason Argo was made was so Ben Affleck could take off his shirt in another movie. Oh, and you know another thing that sucked about Argo? The fact that none of the women in Argo were allowed to speak to each other on camera. Sorry, Clea Duvall; you get to be in a Big Motion Picture, but you may only open your mouth when in the presence of Victor Garber. And don’t you dare make eye contact with Ben Affleck! 

Beasts of the Southern Wild

I do love a movie with a precocious child as much as the next guy, but how awkward do you feel about the fact that some white people from New York City went down to New Orleans to make a movie about magical negroes? I’m surprised there weren’t any animated bears and foxes floating along the river, or that those giant titular beasts didn’t burst into "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." 

Django Unchained

This one is simple: Django Unchained should not win Best Picture because it is not Jackie Brown and Jackie Brown is the only Quentin Tarantino movie that deserves to win Best Picture. 

Les Misérables

A friend of mine described this movie with the following: "It was like in acting classes when one person started crying and then everyone else in class cried harder and louder and uglier." This is one of the few movies in which everyone was dead at the end and I thought, "You know what? I’m OK with this." That is until the ghost of Anne Hathaway showed up again with that chopped-off hair and sad dress, which made me depressed. I really hate that it’s a known fact that your apperance when you die is what you’ll look like in Heaven. Really sucks for people who get run over by trucks, huh? 

Life of Pi

Spoiler alert: Pi is the tiger, and the tiger is Pi, and the eggman is Paul, I think, and maybe we ought to remake Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band but with 3D CGI, but I’m getting distracted. Life of Pi is a cartoon movie for adults who are still making their way through Oprah’s Book Club.

Lincoln

Oh, I’m sorry, is this category called Best Way to Nap? Lincoln was terrible. Remember how fun TV miniseries used to be? They were long, yes, but they were campy as hell, had a lot of awkward sex not normally seen during primetime, and were stuffed with lots of recognizable people who were not really famous but still possessed a certain level celebrity that you’d still be excited if you saw them on the street. Lincoln was just a really expensive TV-miniseries, but without the sex. Or the fun. And with overwritten dialogue by Tony Kushner. I got a screener of Lincoln, and it’s best uses so far have been as a coaster and as a substitute for Ambien.

Silver Linings Playbook

I can’t for the life of me figure out why people love this movie so much. Is it because we’re so desperate to see Ben Stiller act in a dramatic performance that we could substitute in Bradley Cooper and just go with it? Is it because it’s nice to see Julia Stiles back in action? Is it because of Jacki Weaver saying "crabby snacks and homemades?" Is it because of Dancing With the Stars? Is it because As Good as It Gets was too subtle and we needed a subpar version of that to really hone in the idea of what mental illness is? Or is it because everyone is crazy? If everyone is crazy, no one is crazy. 

Zero Dark Thirty

JUST KIDDING! While you were all being emotionally waterboarded by the rest of what Hollywood had to offer, you guys completely missed the fact that this was the best movie of the year. Jessica Chastain! She could act circles around everyone else on this planet, and she wouldn’t be exhausted because she’s, like, a healthy vegan. And you know she’s on track for world domination. GET IT TOGETHER, PEOPLE. it doesn’t even matter if this loses to, say, Argo, because Kathryn Bigelow will have her revenge on all of you. Especially you, Ben Affleck. 

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

Lance Armstrong’s Lies To Hit The Big Screen

The Lance Armstrong doping scandal has "Lifetime Original Movie" written all over it. But Lost producer J.J. Abrams doesn’t think so: he has secured the movie rights to a book about Armstrong’s fall from grace.

New York Times sports journalist Julie Macur’s book Cycle Of Lies: The Fall Of Lance Armstrong won’t be published until June 2013. But Paramount Pictures and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot have already secured the film rights to the book. No one else has been attached to the biopic yet, Huffington Post reports

Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and a bronze medal he won in 2000 Olympics. This week, Oprah Winfrey aired the first part of a two-part  interview in which Armstrong admitted to using performancing enhancing drugs and also to "blood doping," or blood transfusions.

Speculation is now circulating that he lied to Oprah, downplaying how frequently he had used the drugs. NO ONE LIES TO OPRAH AND GETS AWAY WITH IT, LANCE.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Lance Armstrong Looked Up “Cheat” in the Dictionary

I’m pissed, y’all. It’s bad enough I have to hear about bike lanes and bike etiquette and whatever will New York do about the bikes, WON’T SOMEONE SAVE US FROM BIKES WHILE ALSO SAVING THOSE WHO CHOOSE, AS IS THEIR INALIENABLE RIGHT, TO RIDE THEM. But now I have to hear more about a doping scandal that makes even Major League Baseball look interesting.

It’s cool, though, guys. Lance confessed to everything bad he did. What did he do? Something about having better blood, it sounds like. So how is that cheating? Everyone in the Tour de France has blood, I thought. Not Lance’s fault if you couldn’t afford premium blood, people. That’s just the way the spokes turn.

And, like some college freshman who has to make a statement before the honor committee because he plagiarized a Slate.com article, Lance was sure to look up the term ‘cheat’ in the dictionary for a loophole. In his interview with Oprah, he tells the world what he found there: “the definition was to gain an advantage on a rival. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.” Okay? Case closed. Learn how to read, everyone else."
 

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Easy, If Breezy, Chicago: A Brief Guide For New Yorkers

Say the words "Windy City" and by free association, we all think: Oprah, Obama, deep-dish pizza, Da’ Bears, and "brrrrr."  But there’s so much more!Dazzling architecture, outstanding city views, cordial Chicagoans, quirky neighborhoods and sunny, 60-degree mid-November weather––those are just some of the highlights of my recent 48-hour family trip into town. By "family," I mean me, a thirtysomething free spirit, and my parents (just imagine the crazy side of The Fockers). Could Chi-town handle us?

Upon arrival into O’Hare, we jumped on the easy-to-navigate, not to mention uber-clean CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) and transformed quickly from savvy New Yorkers to dopey tourists, as we tried to understand the no-change metro machine policy. Luckily a CTA employee was helpful and midwesternly, and got us through the turnstyle gracefully.

We landed at our hotel, the JW Marriott––the baller of all Marriott’s––in the bustling, business-oriented Financial District. Located in a renovated historic national bank building, the shiny, marble hotel lobby and lounge was a nice, warm welcome.At nearly 500 square feet, our airy room offered everything we needed: two beds draped with fluffy duvets, a spa bathroom clad in Italian marble with a stand-alone tub, and supersized terry cloth robes.

Service was top-notch. For example, after some slight confusion over our room temperature (I’ll take full credit for that one), the front desk immediately had an engineer at our door. We called down a few other times for more bathroom products and additional pillows; everything was "no problem." The concierge helped us with maps and routes constantly––we wouldn’t have made it far without him.

At night, we’d sit with our laptops or novels in front of a cozy gas fireplace in a quiet corner of the lobby. How charming for a hotel we assumed was strictly a corporate hang. Good people watching too––wedding parties, football fans, first dates. Refreshing (and free!) orange cleansing water in the lobby kept us hydrated and happy.

But let’s discuss beyond the hotel. 

The first place we went was Magnificent Mile; about a 15-minute walk away, which initially, alarmingly, sort of felt like Times Square. Streets were crowded, tourists were crammed together. I worried we’d entered a bit of a migraine. That is, until we stumbled upon the iconic Wrigley Building. Powerful, stop-in-your-tracks, absolutely stunning!

Lunch was at the famous Giordano’s Pizza. While we wanted to try Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza, they only offered deep-dish crusts stuffed to the nines. This concept, us pizza purists found unappetizing, so we chose a basic thin crust pie. It was decent, but we’ve had better, like Grimaldi’s in Dumbo. Just a small strike, Chicago. (By the way, what’s a New Yorker doing in Chicago if not to say our pizza is better?!)

We were then off to Wicker Park, an edgy neighborhood dotted with vintage stores, cute coffee houses and loads of shopping options. The locals were a mix of real-deal artists, grungy hipsters and Lululemonized stroller moms. One trendy term that could be applied? Très Brooklyn. We felt right at home.

We hopped the subway after a few hours, and then took a bus to Hyde Park to see the Obama’s house. This was really exciting, especially to be there right after the election! We tried to bribe the secret service at the edge of his street for more personal scoop, but no luck. Alas, we were perfectly content just checking out the nice-but-modest digs.

Meanwhile, Chicago and the Chicagoans were really growing on us! Locals kept helping with directions and advice, and everyone was just so nice and patient. Every so often, we’d catch a glimmer of glamour on the regal streets. My mother alluded to Champs-Elysées more than once.  

We stopped at the Willis Tower SkyDeck—in the former Sears building—and rode up to the 103rd floor. I pushed my fear of heights aside as much as I could, and I’m glad I did. The view was breath-taking as we could see about 40 miles of city landscape, plus Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Don’t think my dad didn’t try to also re-enact the scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that was filmed here.

For dinner, we shared plates at the celebrated Sable Kitchen & Bar, a gastro-lounge in the center of the River North neighborhood adjacent to Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar. Spearheaded by Top Chef alum Heather Terhune, her seasonal dishes were out of this world. The menu was well balanced, as there was something for all of us, which, with a vegetarian mother and a meat-n-potatoes father, doesn’t happen often.

We started with the Butter Lettuce & Apple Salad with radicchio, grapes, smoked cashews & almonds and sherry-apple cider vinaigrette. Easily, the best salad of our lives. Our other favorite dishes were the brick oven flatbread with rosemary, brie, and house-made ricotta, butternut-squash apple soup, mini wild mushroom veggie burgers with red onion jam, and short rib sliders. This would definitely, no question, be our new family go-to spot if it were in New York. The food was fresh, flavorful and mouth-watering. Service was exceptional as the food came out perfectly timed to give our stomachs a brief rest. The dining room felt both calming and luminous. The staff was professional, warm and had serious culinary swagger. If you go to Chicago, you’d be crazy not to run here!  

We also had a lovely breakfast at Hoyt’s Chicago, inside Hotel 71, near Millennium Park. A sweet spot, with a nice street view. I very much appreciated that Hoyt’s is also part of my illy coffee cult.

At the end of our stay, we didn’t want to leave. Chicago embraced us New Yorkers in a way we never expected. I’m happy to say, it’s a city I’m now totally in-sync with and can’t wait to touch down here again.

Oprah: “No Judgment” For Rihanna Reuniting With Chris Brown

Oprah Winfrey is one smart cookie, so she probably knows that people who stay in abusive relationships are not helped by criticism and judgment. I would like to think this is why Oprah spoke with Extra yesterday and said "so be it," as she has "no judgment" if Rihanna and Chris Brown get back together. Which is no longer an "if," really, as the pair has been photographed making out.

Oprah spoke to Extra about her Oprah’s Next Chapter conversation with the pop star, in which Rihanna said she still loves Brown and is devoted to helping him get batter, whatever that means. "The main thing for me is he’s at peace," RiRi said. "I’m not at peace if he’s not happy or he’s still lonely."

If Oprah was thinking Classic abused woman thing to say!, she kept it to herself, both then and now. She said to Extra yesterday:

You know what I loved about that interview is that she came with a big, wide open heart. She was in the space of forgiveness. And that she learned a lesson, that she was repeating with Chris Brown exactly what she needed to learn from her father. [Rihanna’s father was physically abusive to her mother during the singer’s childhood] … "I think that if she is prepared to deal with that and is prepared to help him help himself then so be it. I have no judgment about it. That’s why I can sit there and have such a great time with her because I do all my interviews with no judgment whatsoever. If that’s how you choose to lead your life, that’s really okay.

Of course it behooves Oprah to have "no judgment" as an interviewer, both to her subjects who she doesn’t want to alienate and to the public. I get that. But I beg to disagree with her that it’s "really okay" that a woman who was viciously beaten is back with her abuser. And it isn’t "really okay" that Rihanna wants to "help him help himself," given what we know about Psychology 101: people won’t change unless they want to change. Rihanna is going to do what Rihanna wants to do, including handholding a man-child with anger management issues. But there was an opportunity for Oprah, in this interview, to say something about how the cycle of violence affects women who’ve been abused.

Oprah should know better — and I think does know better. Shame on her for not speaking up more forcefully, even if it means missing an exclusive down the road.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.

Linkage: Obama Slow Jams With Jimmy Fallon, Oprah Gets Generous

Last night on Late Night, the very good-natured "Prezzie of the United Steezie" Barack Obama slow-jammed the news with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots. [D+T]

After a four year investigation, feds have busted the CEO of and numerous rappers from Mac Dre’s Thizz Entertainment for distributing Ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, marijuana and codeine cough syrup across the East Bay and the country. [MercuryNews]

According to the New York Times, YouTube’s 100 or so "original" television channels are sort of like real television, but more boring. [NYT]

"I wish I could greenlight everything," said Oprah, before sating her generosity by buying a homelessman soup at Scarpetta in Beverly Hills. [PageSix]

Das Racist’s West Coast representative, Victor Vazquez aka Kool A.D., has dropped a new tape, 51, that is complete with Bay-centric guest features from Young L and Main Attrakionz, as well as Mike Finito and of course Himanshu Suri. [TheFader]

Courtney Love has already scared one off, and now it looks like her new lawyers too have had enough. According to a declaration submitted to Los Angeles Superior Court by her attorney at Pryor Cashman, Love has been (typically!) late on payments and unresponsive when it comes to showing up to meetings and answering phone calls. "We can not effectively represent her," they say. [THR]

According to the producer of Liz and Dick, Lindsay Lohan is the "most insured actress that ever walked on a soundstage" and that, although she has a history of high-risk behavior, she is a "great risk to run." Assuming he gets his movie, he’s probably right. [E!]