Beyonce opens up on feminism, fame and marriage

— In honor of the one-year anniversary of her groundbreaking self-titled work, Beyonce has taken us by surprise yet again.

The superstar singer gets personal in a nearly 12-minute short film titled “Yours and Mine,” which was released Friday without warning, much in the same way she unleashed her album “Beyonce” in December 2013.

The result is a visually arresting piece that also includes nuggets of insight from Bey, who speaks on a range of topics from feminism to fame to marriage.

Here’s what we learned:

‘Humanist’ rather than ‘feminist’

One of the biggest hits from “Beyonce” is the track “*Flawless,” which uses a snippet from a 2013 TEDx talk given by writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “We Should All Be Feminists.”

Though Beyonce’s always been a proponent of female empowerment, even going back to her Destiny’s Child days, she admits in her short film that she was initially skittish around the word “feminist.”

“I’ve always considered myself a feminist, although I was always afraid of that word because people put so much on it,” Beyonce says. “When honestly, it’s very simple. It’s just a person that believes in equality for men and women. Men and women balance each other out, and we have to get to a point where we are comfortable with appreciating each other.”

When it comes to men and the cultural pressures they face, “I have a lot of empathy,” Beyonce continues. “I have the same empathy for women and the pressures we go through. … I consider myself a humanist.”

‘The property of the public’

No one is immune to the price of fame, and that includes Beyonce. With global stardom, “you become the property of the public,” she laments. “There’s nothing real about it.”

To be honest, “I sometimes wish that I could just be anonymous and walk down a street like everyone else,” she adds. “Before I was famous, I was the girl on the hill with the guitar. I was the girl that just wanted a beautiful view of the beach. And now that I’m famous, it’s really, really difficult to do very simple things. I think it’s the hardest thing to give up.”

‘Never make excuses’

That said, Beyonce is never one to play the victim.

“My mother always taught me to be strong,” she says. “Never make excuses; never expect anyone else to provide for me things that I know I can provide for myself. I have dreams, and I feel like I have a power to actually make those dreams become a reality.”

‘We’re supposed to depend on each other’

There are those who think they’ll “lose something when they get married, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” Beyonce, who’s been married to Jay Z for six years, reflects. “There’s nothing more exciting about having a witness to your life.”

And beyond that, she sees something powerful in partnership.

“You know, everybody’s not good at everything. It’s OK to depend on someone; it’s actually what we’re supposed to do,” she says. “We’re supposed to depend on each other, and when you find the person that you trust and you love and that you feel that is going to respect you and take all of the s* that you have and turn it around and bring out the best in you, it feeds you. It is the most powerful thing you can ever feel in your life. … One thing that’s for sure: The love that I have for music, for my husband, for my child, is something that will last far beyond my life.”

Raven-Symone: I’m not gay, and I’m not African-American

— Actress Raven-Symone knows exactly who she is, and that person can’t be defined with the usual labels.

That’s what the former “Cosby Show” star told Oprah Winfrey on OWN on Sunday night, as she explained why she doesn’t like to be labeled as gay or African-American.

The actress confirmed that she’s in “an amazing, happy relationship” with her partner, who is a woman, but added that she doesn’t “need a categorizing statement for it.”

“I don’t want to be labeled gay,” Raven-Symone said. “I want to be labeled a human who loves humans.”

The former Disney star’s sexuality has been in headlines since she tweeted in August 2013 that she was happy for the legalization of gay marriage, as it meant that she could “finally get married!”

But that wasn’t exactly a statement on her love life, Raven-Symone told Winfrey. “That was my way of saying I’m proud of the country. … My mother and people in my family have taught me to keep my personal life to myself as much as possible. I try my best to hold the fence where I can. But I am proud to be who I am and what I am.”

Raven-Symone recalled realizing her sexuality “when I was like 12; I was looking at everything,” she said with a laugh. But she added that she “doesn’t need language” to explain whom she likes — or, for that matter, her race.

“I’m tired of being labeled,” Raven-Symone told Winfrey. “I’m an American; I’m not an African-American. I’m an American.”

Her statement caught even Winfrey off-guard, as the media mogul took a moment to process the actress’ comment while jokingly warning her, “don’t set Twitter on fire!”

Raven-Symone defended her stance, explaining that she doesn’t “know where my roots go to; I don’t know how far back they go. I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from. But I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American, and that’s a colorless person, because we’re all people. I have lots of things running through my veins.”

Winfrey, telling Raven-Symone that she was in for “a lot of flak for saying you’re not African-American,” gave her another opportunity to be precise about her perspective.

“I don’t label myself. What I really mean by that is I’m an American,” the actres continued. “I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian. I connect with Asian. I connect with black. … I connect with each culture. … Aren’t we all (a melting pot)? Isn’t that what America’s supposed to be?”

‘How to Get Away with Murder’: Did you watch?

Gather ’round, students: “How to Get Away with Murder’s” Viola Davis is teaching a lesson in how to win a TV show.

The Oscar nominee stars in ABC’s much-anticipated new drama from the house of Shonda Rhimes, and it debuted Thursday to critical applause and solid ratings.

The third show in ABC’s new Thursday night block devoted to Rhimes’ programming — “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder” air one after another, beginning at 8 p.m. — “Murder” was the strongest of them all in terms of number of viewers.

“Grey’s” was watched by 9.8 million at 8 p.m. and had a 3.0 rating in the adult demographic, while “Scandal” returned to its 9 p.m. time slot with 11.9 million watching and a strong 3.8 rating in the key demo.

“How to Get Away with Murder,” meanwhile, debuted to an audience of 14 million and had a 3.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

“Murder,” which is executive produced by Rhimes and created by “Grey’s Anatomy” writer/producer Peter Nowalk, sees Davis play Annalise Keating, a smooth criminal defense attorney and professor who’s as alluring as she is mysterious.

Keating shares the screen with a crew of eager law students working to win her approval. As their prof, she offers them a chance to intern with her firm if they perform well on an assignment.

But the group of students we meet in “How to Get Away with Murder” wind up facing a much bigger test when there’s a dead body involved.

After catching the pilot episode, most critics agree that the students may be an integral part of the story — which, despite not being created by Rhimes, certainly has her trademarks — but it’s Davis viewers will come back for.

“While the show has certain Rhimes’ accents — a strong female lead, a large and diverse ensemble, a willingness to pile on complications — it is very different from any of the series she has written,” says the Los Angeles Times. “Annalise wears neither a white hat nor her heart on her sleeve … (and) seems more than capable of being both Sherlock and Moriarty. Backward, in heels.”

For HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall, the pilot runs into trouble when it focuses too much time on the students and their deadly mystery.

“The characters involved are so much less compelling than Annalise that it feels like a magic trick gone awry — sleight of hand that keeps pulling your attention from the one person who makes the show work,” Sepinwall writes. “Viola Davis is a star, and it’s long overdue that she got to frontline a show like this. It’d be a shame if that show winds up underusing her because it didn’t trust that she’d be enough through the sheer brute force of her personality.”

The A.V. Club, which was also frustrated by a lack of Davis screen time, believes that the series has promise.

” ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ faces some of the same issues many Shondaland properties have faced: a weakness for melodramatic plotting that sacrifices emotional complexity for clichés and mere complication,” the review says. “But it has excellent bones, grounded in an outstanding pedigree and Rhimes’ demonstrated ability to keep an audience hooked from scandal to scandal. It’s not perfect, but it’s never boring.”

After Thursday’s premiere, viewers seemed to agree, with many tweeting that they’ve found their new favorite show.

Denzel Washington: The essential roles

Everyone has their Denzel Washington moment.

It might have happened while watching his first Oscar-winning role in 1989’s “Glory.” Or maybe it was sparked during 1992’s “Malcolm X” biopic.

It might’ve even taken you as long as 2001’s “Training Day.”

But whenever it happened, even the most casual moviegoer can point to the movie — and sometimes, the specific scene — that made them realize Washington is a singularly gifted actor.

Now nearing 60, Washington is still impressing at the box office, as his new action movie, “The Equalizer,” is predicted to open at No. 1.

Washington has been acting onscreen for close to 40 years and has filled almost every role possible, from icon and soldier to ladies’ man and villain.

In “The Equalizer,” he slips back into the shoes of the avenger, playing a seemingly mild-mannered book lover who’s also more than willing to execute bad guys when a young prostitute he has befriended (Chloe Grace Moretz) gets hurt.

The movie itself has gotten mixed reviews, but critics agree that it’s Washington that makes the running time worth it.

“Washington keeps you watching this sleazy stuff — let’s stipulate to that before anything else,” said The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern. For The New York Times, Washington’s “craft and discipline endow even exploitative nonsense like this with a center of gravity.”

“The Equalizer” may not inspire another Denzel moment for fans, but one thing’s clear: the gift still stands.

Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams debut on ‘The Voice’

Welcome to “The Voice’s” swiveling chairs, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams.

Season seven of NBC’s vocal competition kicked off Monday night, with Stefani and Williams as two of the series’ newest judges. Mainstays Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, the anchors of “The Voice” as other stars like Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green, Usher and Shakira have cycled through the judges’ panel, made sure to make them feel right at home during the premiere.

In the words of Williams, “This is going to be fun.”

In case you’ve forgotten how “The Voice” works, four judges go through rounds of blind auditions to build up teams of singers, whom the judges will then put through their paces until America crowns one of the contestants “The Voice.”

Stefani can rely on her prowess as a multitalented entertainer — she’s been a success as both part of a group and a solo artist, not to mention her fashion and beauty brands — to woo vocal contenders over to her side.

Her strategy worked well Monday, with Stefani able to grab Taylor John Williams, whose rendition of “Heartless” caught both her and Levine’s attention, and “Problem” singer Bryana Salaz for her team.

Pharrell Williams has his experience as a powerhouse producer on his side and pulled two of the night’s best performers, Luke Wade and Elyjuh Rene, into his group.

Shelton and Levine were not to be outdone.

Levine landed young talent Clara Hong and Transportation Security Administration employee Damien, whose “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” got all four judges to spin around in their chairs.

Shelton, meanwhile, brought previous contestant Allison Bray into his fold, along with crooner James David Carter, whose “Nobody Knows” had all the judges angling to work with him.

All in all, you could say Stefani’s and Williams’ first foray on “The Voice” was “Hella Good.”


™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Solange Knowles speaks about her elevator fight

— Solange Knowles still isn’t saying what prompted her elevator confrontation with her brother-in-law, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, but she will tell you one thing:

She’s at peace about it.

The 28-year-old singer and younger sister of Forbes’ world power Beyonce talks about the altercation in the August issue of Lucky magazine. Without going into detail about the brouhaha, which was caught on elevator surveillance video and dropped a bomb on Beyonce’s otherwise composed and inaccessible public persona, Solange says that she’s not dwelling on the past.

“What’s important is that my family and I are all good,” the younger Knowles says. “What we had to say collectively was in the statement that we put out, and we all feel at peace with that.”

The now-infamous standoff occurred after the Met Gala on May 5, when Solange, Beyonce and Jay Z were seen leaving New York City’s Standard Hotel. As security footage released by TMZ showed, Solange Knowles appeared to attack her brother-in-law, taking several swings at him and kicking, while her sister stood calmly next to her.

The speculation surrounding the private moment could fill a book (or three), and in response, the Knowles-Carter family addressed the rumors with a statement declaring their unity.

“(T)he most important thing is that our family has worked through it,” the statement said of the “unfortunate incident.”

“Jay and Solange each assume their share of responsibility for what has occurred. They both acknowledge their role in this private matter that has played out in the public. They both have apologized to each other and we have moved forward … At the end of the day, families have problems and we’re no different.”

In the aftermath of the video, much of the gossip zeroed in on Knowles’ relationship with her sister, as the curious public watched closely for signs of either sibling discord or solidarity.

Yet according to Knowles, she and her sister have held tight to the values that were instilled in them as kids, to love and protect one another through anything.

“We’ve always held each other down no matter what,” Knowles tells Lucky magazine. “That’s something I’m drilling into (my son) Julez now.”


™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Robin Thicke has no idea what he’s doing

— Robin Thicke’s new album “Paula” is inspired by his estranged wife Paula Patton, but he hasn’t seen the woman herself in months.

That’s what the singer told New York radio station Hot 97 on Tuesday, assuring the station’s morning show co-hosts that his breakup isn’t just PR.

“I try to keep most of that private, but I haven’t seen her for four months,” Thicke said. “I still had so much I wanted to apologize for and things I wanted to take responsibility for, that’s pretty much what the album’s about. … The album is exactly what happens when you lose the love of your life and you’re trying to figure it out in your head: ‘How am I going to move on, get through it all?’ “

The 37-year-old singer is the first to admit that he’s unsure if he’s going about that in the right way.

“I actually have no idea what I’m doing,” he told “Good Morning America” Tuesday. “I’m just kind of flying by the seat of my pants on this one. I just wanted to make something artistic out of a very difficult period.”

Thicke and his actress wife have known each other and dated since they were teens, eventually tying the knot in 2005. Yet in February, the couple announced that they’d mutually decided to separate and co-parent their 4-year-old son, Julian Fuego.

It seems Thicke has been obsessed ever since with wooing 38-year-old Patton, making public apologies, writing songs like “Get Her Back,” and filming an uncomfortably intimate music video that has become the gold standard of over-sharing.

Some said the breakup was due to Thicke’s rumored infidelity, and while the singer didn’t divulge details on Tuesday, he did confess to being dishonest.

“I’m a man. I messed up, and I had to lie for awhile,” Thicke told Hot 97. “And then I stopped lying. And that was actually good for me, because I was tired of lying. So this whole album is me revealing everything.”

But is Paula Patton listening? Doesn’t sound like it.

“She hasn’t heard (‘Paula’),” Thicke said of his estranged wife. “She’s only heard a few songs, and I don’t think she wants to hear it right now. I can’t speak for her, but space is an important part of any healing process.”


™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Beyonce: Forbes’ most powerful celebrity

Beyonce isn’t just one of the world’s most influential people. She’s also the world’s most powerful celebrity, according to Forbes magazine.

The publication has released its annual Celebrity 100 list and has named Queen Bey to the top spot.

When you consider the year she’s had, there’s little reason to wonder why. After giving what many viewed as a virtually flawless performance at the 2013 Super Bowl Halftime Show, Beyonce hasn’t paused, embarking on a grand global tour while also readying the release of her self-titled visual album, “Beyonce.”

When that disc arrived to fans’ pleasant surprise in December 2013, the singer notched her fifth No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and sparked a platinum hit with the lead single, “Drunk in Love.” (Monica Lewinsky referenced the record when talking about her past with former President Bill Clinton.)

And yet, as Forbes notes, Beyonce’s empire isn’t limited to the music business. While she’s setting out on joint tours with her husband — they’re currently crossing the country with their “On the Run” trek — Beyonce’s also managing her clothing company, line of perfumes, and collaborations with brands like Pepsi and H&M.

All told, Forbes estimates that Beyonce earned roughly $115 million between June 2013 and June 2014. By comparison, her husband made an estimated $60 million, enough to put him in sixth place behind Oprah Winfrey (No. 4 at $82 million) and Ellen DeGeneres (No. 5, at $70 million).

So who’s the person standing directly in Beyonce’s shadow? That would be basketball star LeBron James, who arrived at No. 2 on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list, having made an estimated $72 million as of June 2014.


™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Taye Diggs opens up on Idina Menzel split

— Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel had a relationship that fans fell in love with.

So when the actor pair announced in December that they were separating after 10 years of marriage, Diggs was fully prepared for the public’s shocked reaction.

“I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I thought, ‘Oh, man, people are going to trip out (if we split),’ ” the 43-year-old actor told Redbook magazine.

“Maybe they thought it was cute that we met in ‘Rent.’ There weren’t a lot of couples like us in the theater community — and I know there aren’t a lot of performers as talented as she is … and then you have the whole mixed (race) thing. It was easy for people to root for us.”

Neither Diggs nor Menzel have specified what led to their breakup, although Menzel was frank about the challenges of marriage when speaking with People magazine in April 2013.

“We work at it,” the “Frozen” star said at the time. “I’m not going to glamorize it or glorify it — we go through tough times like everybody else, but we love each other very much.”

The couple welcomed a son, Walker, in 2009, and since their separation have focused on balancing their co-parenting with their busy careers.

“Right now, we’re still trying to figure out a lot of stuff,” said Diggs, who stars in the new TNT series “Murder in the First.” “We’re on different coasts and our son is getting older.”


™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Kim K., Kanye take Vogue: How you reacted

— What Kanye West wants, he gets.

After all, he wanted Kim Kardashian for years, and is now set to marry her in May. (They already welcomed their first child together, North, last June.)

So should we be surprised that the rapper, who’s previously campaigned for his bride-to-be to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine, can place a checkmark next to that goal?

It’s true. Kardashian and West are appearing on the April issue of Vogue magazine. And this, soon after West proclaimed on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show that it was preposterous it had not yet happened.

“There’s no way Kim Kardashian shouldn’t be on the cover of Vogue,” West told Seacrest back in October. “She’s like the most intriguing woman right now. … and collectively, we’re the most influential in clothing.”

“No one is looking at what Obama is wearing. Michelle Obama can’t Instagram a (bathing suit) pic like what my girl Instagrammed the other day.”

The cover is vaguely reminiscent of Kardashian’s other high-profile appearance on the front of People magazine in 2011, when she posed with her then-fiancé, basketball player Kris Humphries. Except this time, she’s traded in the contemporary clothing for sumptuous luxury wares.

Calling Kardashian and West #theworldsmosttalkedaboutcouple, Vogue is promising a firsthand look inside the pair’s “fashionable life and surreal times,” including a glimpse of how they interact as parents. The pair’s daughter, North, appears with them in a behind-the-scenes video of the Vogue photo shoot.

The unveiling of the issue, which arrives on newsstands March 31 and digitally March 24, was met with a mix of reactions, from stunned to supportive to upset.

“Somewhere, Victoria Beckham is flipping a table,” joked one observer. “Vogue negotiates with terrorists,” quipped another.

Vogue isn’t a stranger to controversy — earlier this year it was criticized by some for its treatment of “Girls” star Lena Dunham — but the vitriol directed toward Vogue editor Anna Wintour regarding the April issue has been visceral.

“If someone could start a petition to have Anna Wintour fired over this, society would appreciate it,” said @RunBritRun. “Anna Wintour RETIRE NOW. You’re mentally unstable,” chimed in @Jenovia.

“I just wonder what went through Anna Wintour’s mind. Has she gone mad?” asked another onlooker.

Given the timing of the issue, a handful wondered if Vogue was pulling some sort of elaborate (not to mention expensive) April Fool’s Day prank.

Fans of the couple were just as breathless as Kardashian tweeted she was when they spotted the pair’s glossy cover shot.

“If you’re actually mad at Kim and Kanye’s Vogue cover,” tweeted @Kia_Mak, “go outside, start walking and don’t stop until you reach the horizon.”

Added @PatrickSandberg, “Kim and Kanye refuse to accept the limitations people try to put on them and it’s inspiring. They win.”

Mostly, though, it looks some are just confused by the #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple hashtag Vogue is trying to promote.

“Wait,” said @NikiBlasina. “That doesn’t look like Jay-Z and Beyonce.”


™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.