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Danielle Adams

Topher Grace is enjoying a varied career

TV and film actor tries his hand at theatre

Topher Grace has decided to take on the theatre after success with TV and film.

Most well-known for his role as the witty Eric Foreman in the Fox sitcom That ‘70s Show, Topher Grace has enjoyed the variety of roles he’s taken on. “I love it all,” said Grace in a recent interview. “I love playing good guys. I love playing bad guys. I love theatre. I love film. I love watching TV. I want a passport to everywhere. I don’t want to be exclusive to one thing. That is a huge problem for my agents because I think I would make more money if I focused on one specific type of character or genre… but especially while I’m young and single I really want to explore everything.”

He is currently playing the lead in the off Broadway play Lonely, I’m Not, now playing at Second Stage Theatre. Topher Grace plays Porter, a guy who’s recently divorced, lost his job and had a nervous breakdown. Things take a turn for the better when he falls in love with a blind businesswoman played by Olivia Thirlby. The play was written by Paul Weitz.

Although this is the first professional play Topher Grace has been in, he was actually discovered in a boarding school production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The parents of a classmate, Bonnie and Terry Turner, ended up creating That ‘70s Show. “I promise you, I was not that good in the musical,” he said. “I still don’t know what the producers saw in me.”

Another contributing factor to his success onstage may be his experience filming in front of a live audience for seven seasons of That ‘70s Show. “It’s great to get back in front of an audience and hear that reaction or more importantly what they don’t react to. There’s nothing louder than 300 people not laughing,” said the 33-year-old actor.

Other recent projects of Topher Grace include the Indie film The Giant Mechanical Man, where he plays a deluded motivational speaker. The film also stars Jenna Fischer of The Office and was directed by Fischer’s husband Lee Kirk. His next film, The Wedding is slated to be released in January and also stars Amanda Seyfried, Robert DeNiro, Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams, Diane Keaton and Susan Sarandon.

Utah Jazz make NBA playoffs

100-88 win over Phoenix Suns

The Utah Jazz are going to the playoffs. Tuesday’s 100-88 win over Phoenix secured the team the Western Conference’s last playoff spot.

Paul Millsap’s game-high 26 points and 15 rebounds certainly helped secure the Utah Jazz a spot. Also notable was Al Jefferson, who returned to the game after getting two stitches over his left eye. The player scored eight straight points late in the fourth quarter to secure Utah’s win over the Phoenix Suns.

“It’s good to make people eat their words,” Jefferson said of those who doubted that Utah Jazz would make playoffs. “That’s what we did. Now it’s time to go and shock the world.”

Many thought the team was too young and inexperienced to get a spot at the conference. The team is led by career non-stars and NBA castaways with a coach who has coached only 92 games total in his career.

The young team includes seven of 14 players ages 26 or younger, including four whom are 21 or younger.

The victory halted Utah’s seven-game losing streak to the Suns, dating back to March 2010 and also marks the 25th playoff appearance in Utah Jazz history.

“Seven long years, seven long years since I’ve been in the playoffs,” Jefferson said. “It’s a great opportunity. A lot of people counted us out. It’s a great group of guys and everyone on our team deserves it.”

“It’s a tremendous achievement for a group of guys that laid it out there every night,” Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “Whatever happened, good or bad, they stayed together. That’s the most rewarding thing — to see them rewarded for all the hard work they put in.”

Heart Attack Grill strikes again

Woman found unconscious at restaurant

A Heart Attack Grill customer was wheeled out of the restaurant on a stretcher – the second one this year. A man reportedly had a heart attack while downing a “triple bypass” burger at the same restaurant in February.

Saturday night a woman who was dining on a “double bypass” burger, drinking a margarita and smoking a cigarette at the Heart Attack Grill collapsed. “She was eating, drinking, smoking, laughing, dancing, having fun,” owner Jon Basso said of the restaurant-goer. “But when you treat your body like that day in and day out, eventually your body is going to give out.”

The Heart Attack Grill is all about overindulgence, and advertises its product as “a burger to die for.” Basso calls himself “Dr. Jon,” a “board certified burgerologist,” and walks about the restaurant donning a white lab coat and stethoscope. Waitresses are dressed like nurses and wheel food out on wheelchairs

Customers are referred to as patients, orders as prescriptions. A tongue-in-cheek sign on the door says “cash only because you might die before the check clears.”  People who weigh over 350 pounds eat for free.

“We attract an avant-garde clientele — thrill seekers, risk takers,” Basso told the L.A. Times, adding that his restaurant is “bad for you but fun.”

In addition to a selection of bypass burgers (the “quadruple bypass” can top 10,000 calories), Heart Attack Grill offers “flatliner” fries cooked in pure lard and butterfat milkshakes made with pure cream.

A sign at the establishment reads “Caution: This establishment is bad for your health.”

“Unlike cigarettes, I have had warnings labels since Day One when we opened in 2005 telling people how bad our food is for you. I think that skirts any liability we might have,” said Basso.

The company’s nearly 600-pound spokesman died when he was just 29-years-old last year.

Hand sanitizer causing hospitalization among teens

Teenagers are drinking the instant cleanser to get drunk

Hand sanitizer appears to be the latest dangerous trend among teenagers looking for a cheap thrill.

Over the past few months, six teenagers have shown up in Los Angeles area emergency rooms with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizers contain 62 percent ethyl alcohol to kill germs and can be made into 120-proof liquid. One 8-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer with 63 percent alcohol content is equivalent to about five shots of hard liquor.

“All it takes is just a few swallows, and you have a drunk teenager,” Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times. “There is no question that it is dangerous.”

“It is kind of scary that they go to that extent to get a shot of essentially hard liquor,” said Rangan.

This is not the first over-the-counter product that kids have used for a quick high. Teens have done the same with mouthwash, cough syrup and even vanilla extract, doctors said.

Although there’s only been a few cases reported in Los Angeles, health experts are concerned that this might become a growing trend. Hand sanitizer is easily accessible, and anyone can find distillation instructions on the Internet.

In fact, at least two homeless people in Albuquerque, NM died after drinking a mix of distilled hand sanitizer and mouthwash, reported KASA-TV.

Health effects from the drink reportedly include diarrhea, memory loss and even blindness and irreversible organ damage. Health experts recommend parents buy the foam version of hand sanitizer since it’s harder to extract the alcohol, and teens may be less inclined to drink it.

Mad cow disease discovered in California animal

Food supply declared safe

The first U.S. case of mad cow disease since 2006 was found this week in a dairy cow in California.

This particular cow had been collected by a renderer, and mad cow disease was discovered in random testing. The cow’s carcass was at a Baker Commodities Inc. rendering facility in Hanford, Calif., according to company Executive Vice President Dennis Luckey. The company renders animal byproducts and had randomly selected the animal for testing last Wednesday, he said.

“We are in the business of removing dead animals from dairies in the Central Valley,” he told CNN. “As part of that program, we participate in the BSE surveillance program.”

The sample was sent to the University of California at Davis for initial testing, which came back inconclusive. It was then sent to the Department of Agriculture’s laboratory in Ames, Calif., where it tested positive, the agency said.

The carcass was in quarantine Tuesday night. “We’re waiting now for USDA to tell us how to dispose of it,” Luckey said.

The mad cow disease discovery has prompted at least one major South Korean retailer to suspend sale of American beef; however, public health officials said risk of disease for Americans is extremely low because the affected dairy cow was not part of human food chain and was not exposed to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) through animal feed.

Sarah Klein, food safety attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said there is no need for consumers to take precautions. “A case of a single cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy is not a reason for significant concern on the part of consumers, and there is no reason to believe the beef or milk supply is unsafe.”

Only three previous cases of mad cow disease have been found in cattle in the United States, and no cases of the human version of the disease have been linked to American beef.

In humans, symptoms of the disease include psychiatric and behavioral changes, movement deficits, memory disturbances and cognitive impairments.

Deion Sanders cited for assault

Estranged wife arrested for domestic violence

Deion Sanders, former Dallas Cowboys star, was cited for misdemeanor simple assault on Tuesday after an altercation with his estranged wife, Pilar.

Pilar was arrested on Monday for misdemeanor family violence. Further investigation of the domestic violence claims led to a charge also being field against Deion Sanders, said police in Prosper, TX where the couple lives.

The charge of misdemeanor simple assault, which did not result in an arrest for Deion Sanders, covers any act considered aggressive and carries a fine of up to $500, Prosper police spokesman Celso Martinez told Associated Press. He declined to say what the specific allegations against Deion Sanders were.

On Monday, Deion Sanders tweeted “Pray for me and my kids now! They just witnessed their mother and a friend jump me in my room. She’s going to jail n I’m pressing charges!” He also posted a picture of himself and his sons filling out police reports. The photos were later removed from the site and replaced with a post about joy the next day. “Joy came this morning and we opened the door and let Joy in.”

Pilar was charged with misdemeanor assault and held overnight in the Collin County Jail with bond set at $264. She was released Tuesday with orders to stay away from her home for 60 days and was barred from threatening or harassing her husband.

“I understand that I have very little chance at beating a Hall of Fame, two-sport man that everyone seems to love and adore,” Pilar said to reporters outside the jail after her release. “I’m a full-time mom, 100 percent for my children. And I just haven’t been given a fair shake.”

Deion Sanders filed for divorce from Pilar in December after 13 years of marriage. They have continued to live together in their home in the Dallas suburb of Prosper with their three children. Deion Sander’s attorney Rick Robertson said the couple has been living in separate areas of the 10-bedroom, 29,000-square-foot home.

The couple’s tumultuous relationship has been widely publicized. Pilar has accused Deion Sanders of cheating on her with entertainment producer Tracey Edmonds.

Pilar has filed a $200 million defamation lawsuit against her husband and his daughter from a previous marriage, Deiondra, for calling her a “gold diggin’ h*e” on Twitter. She is also suing Deion Sanders’ aunt, Laura Jones, alleging the aunt assaulted her in their home while Sanders watched.

Katy Perry looking for love?

Singer spotted smooching British guitarist at Coachella

Katy Perry has found herself another British hottie. The singer was reportedly snuggling up with Florence + the Machine guitarist Robert Ackroyd at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival both weekends.

Photos have surfaced showing Katy Perry holding hands with and hugging the guitarist, and of Ackroyd bending her back for a kiss.

Ackroyd tweeted his happiness on April 17. “Best Coachella ever. Scratch that, best weekend ever.  Dre, Snoop, Pac, Nate, Fiddy & KP.” He might not want to get too used to her company though.

Just last month Katy Perry was rumored to be dating French model Baptiste Giabiconi. Giabiconi’s rep told the New York Post, “It’s new, they’re feeling it out, but they’re spending a lot of time together.”

The pop superstar immediately tried to deflect the relationship rumors, posting on Twitter “Just ate a ton of garlic, heard it’s an immune booster #hopeitwerks #mandeflecter #singleandsatisfied.”

Looks like she’s not trying to settle down anytime soon.

Katy Perry was married to British comedian Russell Brand for 18 months before he filed for divorce last December citing irreconcilable differences.” The divorce will be finalized in July.

Brand hasn’t appeared terribly heartbroken over the split either. He was rumored to be dating artist Oriela Medellin soon after filing for divorce, and is currently dating model Nikolett Barabas.

“He’s amazing, so funny; he’s beautiful,” Nikolett tolde & Style. “I like being with him; he’s amazing, so amazing. He’s a good person.”

Lindsay Lohan returns to acting

Star to play Elizabeth Taylor in Lifetime movie

Lindsay Lohan is making her return to the (small) screen. Her last leading role was in 2009’s Labor Pains.

The 25-year-old Lindsay Lohan will portray the late Elizabeth Taylor in the Lifetime Original Movie, Liz and Dick. The movie is based on the up-and-down romance between Taylor and actor Richard Burton.

Taylor and Burton’s love affair was known as “the marriage of the century.” The couple met on the set of Cleopatra in 1963 where Taylor was playing the leading lady and Burton Mark Antony. They immediately fell in love and left their spouses to marry each other, only to divorce ten years later. They remarried in October 1975 and divorced yet again in August 1976.

Lindsay Lohan is excited to take on the role of Elizabeth Taylor. “I have always admired and had enormous respect for Elizabeth Taylor,” She said in a statement to Us Weekly. “She was not only an incredible actress but an amazing woman as well. I am very honored to have been asked to play this role.”

After nearly five years of legal troubles Lindsay Lohan is finally off probation and appears to be making a comeback. The actress appeared on the January/February cover of Playboy magazine, hosted Saturday Night Live in March, and is slated to appear on Glee next month.

“We are thrilled Lindsay will portray beloved Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor,” Lifetime executive vice president of programming Rob Sharenow said. “She is one of the rare actresses who possesses the talent, beauty and intrigue to capture the spirit of such a provocative icon.”

Fresh gift ideas for Mothers Day 2012

Do something unique for your mom this year

Mothers Day 2012 falls on Sunday, May 13. Rather than give her the same old card and flowers, why not do something truly special for your mom to let her know how much you care.

A traditional way to celebrate Mothers Day is to take your mom out to brunch. This year, consider making brunch yourself, rather than going out to a crowded restaurant. Taking the time to prepare a meal for the number one woman in your life shows that you really care. Make her favorite dishes – or try something new and fun. She’ll definitely appreciate the effort. Also, make sure she doesn’t do the dishes afterwards!

If your mom is a wine lover, spend the day with her at a local winery. If you prefer to celebrate at home, buy some wine ahead of time and prepare a wine tasting at your house. Serve the wine with some artisan cheese and crackers, grapes, salami and chocolate to create a true wine tasting experience.

Is your mom the outdoorsy type? Plan a hike with the entire family on Mothers Day. Pack a picnic lunch with your mom’s favorite snacks and spend the day relaxing in the great outdoors with your loved ones.

For the tea-loving mom, an afternoon tea party would be a fun way to celebrate Mothers Day. Begin with a few pots of your mom’s favorite teas, served with cold milk, sugar cubes, lemon slices and honey. Set out a variety of sweet and savory snacks, such as finger sandwiches, smoked salmon, fruit, scones and shortbread.

Whatever you choose to do this Mothers Day, make sure you tell your mom thanks for all she’s done for you, and make this one a Mothers Day she’ll remember for years to come.

Levon Helm remembered fondly

Singer revered by many

Levon Helm, drummer/singer of the Band, died of throat cancer last Thursday at age 71.

The drummer backed up rockabilly star Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan before becoming a star in his own right with the Band, and later as a solo artist. The Band was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys in 2008. Levon Helm’s solo career granted him three Grammys in the past ten years.

Levon Helm was revered by many, and will be greatly missed.

“He was my bosom buddy friend to the end, one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation. This is just so sad to talk about. I still can remember the first day I met him and the last day I saw him. We go back pretty far and had been through some trials together. I’m going to miss him, as I’m sure a whole lot of others will too,” posted Bob Dylan on his website.

Robbie Robertson, guitarist from the Band visited Levon Helm at the hospital a few days before his death, reported Rolling Stone. “Levon is one of the most extraordinary talented people I’ve ever known and very much like an older brother to me.  I am so grateful I got to see him one last time and will miss him and love him forever,” said Robertson in a statement.

“Levon was so sweet, so full of light. … I’m heartbroken he has moved on to ‘find a place where he can lay his head.’ But I hope he found it,” said Rosanne Cash, who performed The Weight with Helm at an American Music Association event last year.

Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, who played with Helm occasionally, said in a statement Thursday that “Levon was an influence and an inspiration to all of us. It was an honor and a privilege to have known him. We will miss him.”