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December 4th, 2012
10:44 AM ET

Pat Houston releases tribute of images and essays to singer Whitney Houston: "Whitney: Tribute to an Icon"

It’s been nearly 10 months since the tragic passing of legendary songstress Whitney Houston. But she lives on in her iconic songs and images. Her sister-in-law and longtime manager, Pat Houston released a book in tribute to her just last week."Whitney: Tribute to an Icon" features 130 images of Whitney, some never seen before from the past 25 years of her life, taken by top photographers and curated by renowned photographer Randee St. Nicholas. Pat, who also wrote essays and the afterword for the book, joins Soledad O’Brien live from Atlanta this morning with more.

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Filed under: Book • Celebrity • Entertainment • Whitney Houston
November 27th, 2012
11:14 AM ET

'Pretty Little Liars' star Lucy Hale on the hit show and her upcoming country music album

Actress Lucy Hale stars in ABC Family’s hit series, “Pretty Little Liars”, a teen drama where she and three other young girls attempt to solve mysteries. "Pretty Little Liars" just wrapped its third season, which will premiere in early January of next year.

Hale is also currently putting the final touches on her first country music album with Hollywood Records, due out in early 2013.

Hale talks with Soledad O'Brien about the TV show and her upcoming album on Starting Point today. She also discusses her involvement with  Duracell's Power Holiday Smiles program, which benefits Toys for Tots.

November 26th, 2012
12:06 PM ET

'A Christmas Story' actor Billingsley helps bring classic movie to life on stage in new musical

It's not Christmas without marathon viewings of the 1983 holiday cult film favorite, "A Christmas Story" set in Indiana in the '40s. It tells the story of 9-year-old Ralphie and his obsessive wish to get a Red Rider Carbine action air rifle for Christmas with a compass. Only trouble is his parents won't let him because like Santa says, "it will shoot your eye out."

The child actor who portrayed Ralphie in the film, Peter Billingsley, is now all grown up, acting as a producer for the new Broadway stage adaptation of the movie. Billingsley talks to John Berman on "Starting Point" to talk about his memories shooting the movie, the movie's endurance as a sentimental favorite and how he hopes to translate the story to a new audience on stage.

Filed under: Entertainment
November 26th, 2012
11:46 AM ET

The Zen of Bennett: Legendary singer Tony Bennett opens up to Soledad O'Brien on his life, career, love

After 60 years in the music industry, singer Tony Bennett is still dominating the business. He’s a triple threat right now, currently promoting the release of a new documentary out on DVD “Zen of Bennett”, a new memoir entitled “Life is a Gift: The Zen Of Bennett,” and an album of duets featuring Latino singers called “Viva Duets.”

Soledad O’Brien visits the legendary musician in his art studio in New York City to talk about his life and his career.

November 15th, 2012
12:31 PM ET

'Twilight' star Elizabeth Reaser: ‘It’s surprisingly hard to play a vampire and feel believable’

The fifth and final installment of the "Twilight" saga, "Breaking Dawn - Part 2," is expected to be another box office hit.

The first four films, based on the best selling "Twilight" books by Stephenie Meyer, grossed more than 2.5 billion dollars worldwide.

“Breaking Dawn - Part 2" tells the story of the vampire clan gathered together for a final battle to preserve their coven and protect its newest and youngest member.

This morning actress Elizabeth Reaser, who plays Esme Cullen, the matriarch of the vampire family joins Starting Point to discuss the final installment of the “Twilight” movie franchise, set to open this Friday.

Reaser, who has starred as Esme Cullen in all five of the “Twilight” films, admits that the success the vampire saga has seen is rare.

“This is a huge franchise,” says Reaser. “No one had any idea when we were making the first one. It was a tiny little independent movie we were shooting in Portland. No one cared and then one day… one night of this movie sort of changed everyone’s sort of way of moving through the world. It just became so huge"

Although “Twilight” fans across the world have described their experience with the vampire films as life changing, Reaser says for her, the lucrative films “didn’t change that much.”

Reaser adds, “I don’t wear sweatpants out as much as I would like. I would prefer to be in sweatpants most of the time.”

On the topic of what drew her to the role of Esme Cullen, Reaser says it was, “the idea of vampires that are trying to act normal, that are trying to be human.”

The Julliard School of the Arts graduate adds, “It’s surprisingly hard to play a vampire and feel believable. I mean you want to be able to at least believe yourself.”

Filed under: Entertainment
November 15th, 2012
11:38 AM ET

Singer, songwriter, and actress Jordin Sparks on the late Whitney Houston and their film ‘Sparkle'

From starring in “Sparkle” to designing her third fragrance “Ambition,” singer, songwriter, and actress Jordin Sparks has had a big year. Sparks joins Starting Point this morning to discuss her experience starring alongside the late Whitney Houston in “Sparkle” and her next plans for her career.

“It's one of those things that it's so amazing that I got to do it and at the same time seeing Whitney - every single time I see her. She was so incredible,” the singer says of the late Houston.

While filming the final scene of “Sparkle,” Sparks was particularly moved by the late Houston.

“We were filming the scene when I was in the pretty red dress. After we were finished, she had come to watch everything. She just wanted to be there to support us and to support, you know, it kind of coming to a close,” Sparks explains. “She was sitting there and she says come here. Come to the side of the stage. I come over and she takes my face in her hands and goes, 'you're everything that we wanted for this part. You're perfect.'”

Sparks adds that she hopes to do “all sorts of things” in her career, including films that may not include singing parts.

“Since ‘Sparkle’ I've gotten a couple of other scripts and it's been a very vast array of roles. There was a comedy, a drama and then there was like this amazing action script as well. There have been a couple of different things,” the former American Idol star says.


Filed under: Entertainment • Whitney Houston
November 12th, 2012
11:29 AM ET

Gloria Reuben on taking role as civil war heroine Elizabeth Keckley in 'Lincoln': It was a 'no-brainer'

The new Steven Spielberg movie "Lincoln," starring Academy Award-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis, opens a limited run this weekend and is already getting Oscar buzz.

The movie tells the story of the final four months of President Abraham Lincoln's presidency, when he worked to end the Civil War. By then, it had already left 600,000 Americans dead and he had passed the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

One of the characters in the films is Elizabeth Keckley, the former slave who was Mary Todd Lincoln's dresser and confidant, is played by actress Gloria Reuben. Reuben visits Soledad and the "Starting Point" team this morning to talk about the role, working with Day-Lewis and

Filed under: American History • Entertainment
October 25th, 2012
12:53 PM ET

Actor James Van Der Beek works to 'destroy his ego' on 'Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23'

James Van Der Beek did not want to wait for his life to be over to leave the creek. Forever associated with playing the lead character of Dawson Leery on “Dawson’s Creek” for six seasons from 1998 to 2003, Van Der Beek had struggled to separate his career solely from the WB character that launched him to stardom. Instead, he’s embraced it by spoofing it in videos for Funny or Die, a series of “Vandermemes”. He's also playing a fictionalized version of himself in the new ABC sitcom, “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23.” Van Der Beek comes to “Starting Point” (a little bit late, but we didn't hold it against him) to discuss the success of his new show and the old one.  

Van Der Beek, who says the theme song for “Dawson’s Creek” has been haunting him for 20 years, says “it’s most liberating” to play a comedic version of himself in his new show.

“Everyone, especially actors, can afford to take themselves a little less seriously from time to time,” Van Der Beek says. “So it’s really therapeutic to just try kind destroy the ego a little bit every single day.”

“I’ve had an interesting relationship with that whole phenomenon,” Van Der Beek says. “I mean ‘Dawson’s Creek’ was something that happened to me when I was 20.” Six years after joining a little known network, “I had...thing kind of following me,” he says of the show. “Now at 35, it’s fun to appreciate just the fact that anybody appreciates anything that I did ten years ago.”

Ten years later, his new show is getting rave reviews. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had on any job,” Van Der Beek says. “We work pretty short hours and the writing is just really consistently funny.”

The edgy comedy “centers around the two girls, Krysten Ritter and Dreama Walker, and I’m, for all intents and purposes, the wacky best friend who lives down the street.”

September 19th, 2012
10:27 AM ET

Wyclef Jean talks Fugees breakup, Lauryn Hill affair

Musician Wyclef Jean is one of the most well-known faces of support for Haiti. He was born in the country and then moved to the United States as a child, where he later formed the successful band, the Fugees.

After the devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, Jean returned to help and and launched a campaign to run for president of the country.

Jean chronicles these experiences and his superstar success in a new memoir "Purpose: An Immigrant's Story."

He sits down with the Starting Point team this morning to discuss the details in the book and to explain what motivated him to write the memoir.

Regarding allegations that he's what causes the breakup of the Fugees, Jean says, "I can't take my 20s back. I would never take the 20s back. And the people that are blaming me for the breakup, if you all have this score that you all love so much. This score wouldn't have happened without the love triangle of everything that you you're hearing. So inside of the mystery of the score there's always a passionate undertone in it."

Filed under: Book • Entertainment • Music
September 18th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

Rapper T.I. discusses reality series, new book 'Trouble and Triumph'

Between his music, television and writing careers, rapper T.I. Harris is doing it all these days.

His popular reality show "T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle" recently launched its second season on VH1, and he can also be seen in the TV series "Boss" playing a former gang member who has his eyes on a political career.

T.I.'s latest book, "Trouble and Triumph: A Novel of Power and Beauty," is out in stores today.

On Starting Point this morning, T.I. discusses the inspiration for his new book and the various facets of his career.

When asked what advice he would give kids aspiring to creative careers, he says, "My philosophy has always been to prepare yourself for hard work, because there's no amount of success that's going to come without hard work and sacrifice."

Filed under: Book • Entertainment
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