Friday, March 30, 2012

First in Five Years:

Lisa Marie Presley's New Album
Storm and Grace

On May 15, Lisa Marie Presley will release Storm and Grace - her first album in five years and her Universal Republic/XIX Recordings debut. Presley is managed by Simon Fuller, CEO and Founder of XIX Entertainment. The album was produced by 12-time GRAMMY® winner T Bone Burnett and recorded at The Village in Los Angeles. See below for track listing.

Storm and Grace is a marked departure from the hard-edged sound of Presley's earlier albums - 2003's RIAA Gold-certified To Whom It May Concern and 2005's Now What, both of which debuted in the Top 10 of The Billboard 200. The organic instrumentation of Storm and Grace reflects her Southern roots, from the ominous, swampy vibe of lead single "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" and "Sticks And Stones" to "Soften The Blows" and the achingly beautifultitle track, which evoke the ease of an impromptu back porch jam session.

Presley's smoldering alto is hypnotic in the rootsy opener "Over Me" as she reflects on being replaced in a lover's affections. While Storm and Grace offers an unflinching examination of life and love - beginning with her own shortcomings on "Un-Break" - there is a tender, consoling thread that runs throughout, pointing towards peace and reconciliation. "Weary" may concern a relationship that didn't work out, but it is suffused with a genuine warmth, as Presley sings: "I will always love you/you can move on, dear."
"Just over two years ago, I went to England to attempt to write another record after finding myself in a considerably disheartened and uninspired state creatively. Over an eight-month period, I wrote 30 songs. I was fortunate to be able to write with some incredible artists and singers such as Richard Hawley (from Pulp), Ed Harcourt, Sacha Skarbek and Fran Healy (from Travis), to name a few," recalls Lisa Marie Presley. "Nothing was planned or contrived in any way and out of it came a very organic record that was always inside of me and that I am incredibly proud of. It was a dream come true and such an honor when T Bone liked the songs and produced and played on the record."

"When songs from Lisa Marie Presley showed up at my door, I was curious. I wondered what the daughter of an American revolutionary music artist had to say. What I heard was honest, raw, unaffected and soulful. I thought her father would be proud of her. The more I listened to the songs, the deeper an artist I found her to be. Listening beyond the media static, Lisa Marie Presley is a Southern American folk music artist of great value," says T Bone Burnett.

"Her rich, smoky vocals evoke Sheryl Crow and occasionally bear traces of Courtney Love's ragged disaffection," said Entertainment Weekly of Presley's debut album, To Whom It May Concern, while the Los Angeles Times called the lead single, "Lights Out," "one of the most hauntingly personal songs" of the year. praised Now What as "genuine...due largely to her willingness to lay herself bare in her music and lyrics." While it may differ sonically, Storm and Grace is equally revealing. The track listing is as follows:

Track Listing - Storm and Grace

1. Over Me
2. You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
3. Weary
4. Close To The Edge
5. So Long
6. Un-Break
7. Soften The Blows
8. Storm Of Nails
9. How Do You Fly This Plane?
10. Sticks And Stones
11. Storm and Grace                         

Lisa Marie Presley and her fourth husband Michael Lockwood welcomed twin girls, Findley and Harper, who arrived 2:46 pm Tuesday,  October 7, 2011, via C-section. The twins are first for  47-year-old Michael Lockwood, her fourth husband, whom she married in Japan in 2006 and the fourth for Lisa Marie who has two children from her first marriage to musician Danny Keough, 19-year-old Danielle Riley and 15-year-old Benjamin Storm.
Lisa Marie Presley and her first husband, Danny Keough, who was best man at her wedding to her current, and fourth husband, Michael Lockwood. Keough lives in a guest house on Presley's property and home-schooled their two children.

Presley and her current husband, Michael Lockwood (her guitarist and music producer), were married in Japan in 2006,  and live in England.

Presley's second marriage was to the late Michael Jackson; they were married  20 days after her divorce from Keough was final.

When she was pregnant with her twins by Michael Lockwood,  Presley struck this pose.

Her third marriage, to Nicholas Cage, was short-lived. She called off her engagement to musician John Oszajca after meeting Cage at Johnny Ramone's 52nd birthday party. Presly and Cage married 10 August 2002 on the Big Island of Hawaii, only 10 days after Cage proposed. Cage filed for divorce 108 days later.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dickens' Unfinished Novel by the BBC:
The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Masterpiece Classic “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” This psychological tale of a provincial choirmaster’s obsession with an engaged (to another) 17-year-old and the lengths to which he will go to attain her.

It is scheduled to air on local PBS stations on 15 April 2012 from 9 to 11 p.m.. Check listings.

Charles Dickens's unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood was given an ending by Gwyneth Hughes. Dickens died half-way through the novel.

The BBC version stars Matthew Rhys, Ron Cook, Rory Kinnear, Alun Armstrong (who's done many a Dickens' adaptation and who we best remember from "American Friends"), Freddy Fox and Tamzin Merchant.
Armstrong, Merchant

The Guardian UK reports "The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the BBC2 adaptation of Charles Dickens's last – and unfinished – novel, was watched by more than 3 million viewers when it aired in the UK in January of this year.

The first installment of the drama, which stars Matthew Rhys, Tamzin Merchant and Freddie Fox, averaged 3.1 million viewers, a 12.7% share, between 9pm and 10pm on Tuesday, including 237,000 viewers who watched on the BBC HD channel."

Three B&W images from the 1935 Universal Pictures version.
The novel was first adapted by Universal Pictures in 1935 and starred Claude Rains, Douglass Montgomery and Heather Angel. David Manners played the eponymous Edwin Drood.

It eventually became a popular musical in the 1980s.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"The Big Bang" star Kaley Cuoco, who recently called off her engagement, attended the 20th Anniversary Alzheimer's Association "A Night at Sardi's" Fundraiser on 21 March 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. She wore a yellow sleeveless tulle dress with a tiered pleated skirt and a bow at the waist from Tadashi Shoji's Spring 2012 collection. Her coordinating ankle-strap shiny bronze platform pumps were by Brian Atwood. She carried a a blush suede sunflower evening bag from Atelier Swarovski by Konstantin Kakanias.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Face Time

by Lindsey Wagner
NY Correspondent

(New York) Let’s face it. We live fast-paced lifestyles.  Whether you’re stuck in the office all day, playing super mom or jet setting across the world to Europe, your skin takes a toll.

“We do more, so we expect more in our daily lifestyle and I expect more out of my skincare,” said Mally Steves Chakola, founder of M. STEVES.

Mally actually found the key ingredient, Rose Hip Seed Oil or RHSO, for M. STEVES by accident. While shopping at her local health food store, she grabbed RHSO instead of pure rose oil, one of her favorite childhood scents. Realizing her mistake at home, she decided to use the product anyway, mixing it with various creams and moisturizers.

After just two weeks of using RHSO, Mally discovered something amazing. The scar on her leg, a result of a horrible car accident years earlier, had almost completely disappeared.

Rose Hip Seed Oil is a natural, power-packed oil filled with natural linolenic, linoleic and oleic acids (Omegas 3, 6 and 9), Vitamin E and potent antioxidants and anti-inflamatories. Often called, “youth in a bottle,” RHSO helps improve the appearance of wrinkles, scars and sun damage.

Wanting to create a skincare line that fit into any modern woman’s lifestyle and now armed with the powerful ingredient, RHSO, Mally set out to create a skincare line that would deliver exactly what a modern woman wanted: products that do it all.

M. STEVES is a line of five multi-use, multi-benefit products. The first, which can be added to any product or used solo, is the RHSO Power-Packed Ultra Nourishing Boost ($48). You can add a few drops to any of the M. STEVES products (or your own for that matter).

 Mally also brings us the RHSO Power-Packed Purifying Cleanser ($28) that removes makeup, dirt and oil, without leaving your skin feeling dry and flaky. We recommend using it with your Clarisonic at home.

Other products include the RHSO Power-Packed Multi-Benefit Moisturizer ($38) and the RHSO Power-Packed Anti-Aging Serum ($46).

Finally, our favorite, the RHSO Power-Packed Reviving Exfoliator ($36), is a product that might upset your facialist. This all-in-one exfoliator offers the benefits of microdermabrasion, a peel and a deep-cleansing mask. It’s literally a facial in a jar.

“I created skincare for the modern woman because I am a modern woman. I am a sister, daughter, friend, partner and businesswoman. I’m a lawyer. I’m a yogi. I’m a thousand things,” she said.

With bikini season around the corner, you’ll also be happy to know that M. STEVES can be used anywhere on the body. The entire M. STEVES line has no synthetic fragrances, dyes, sulfates or parabens.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Hunger Games' star Jennifer Lawrence arrived at JFK airport in New York, hounded by the inevitable press, and wearing Stuart Weitzman TKO lace-up ankle boots. The boots originally retailed for $525, but can now be found discounted online.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Nat Geo on the Bones of Turkana

The Leakey family is legendary, most renowned for discovering one of the world’s most significant fossils – the Turkana Boy skeleton.

Richard Leakey—a paleontologist and provocateur, as well as statesman and conservationist—is an extremely interesting and engaging character.

“BONES OF TURKANA,” a new National Geographic Special (premieres Wednesday, May 16 at 10pm ET on PBS – check local listings), captures the last 40 years of his life and work in Africa, alongside his paleontologist wife (Meave) and scientist/pilot daughter (Louise), searching in that most formative of all landscapes for the traits that make us human.

Featuring music by Paul Simon and the Kenya Boys Choir, the film chronicles the dramatic discoveries and ongoing research at Africa’s Lake Turkana by the current generation of Leakeys and other researchers. (FYI, of note: this spring also marks the 25th anniversary of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album.)

Richard is the third generation of Leakey family to live and work in Africa. In addition to launching and nurturing the careers of famed female field researchers Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, Richard’s parents, the pioneering anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey, made discoveries that helped affirm Africa was the cradle of mankind.

Richard Leakey speaks frankly about his life and work, and the plane crash in which he lost his legs, which may have been an assassination attempt. All three passionate and compelling individuals are available for interviews surrounding this captivating film.

Turkana Boy, the designation given to fossil KNM-WT (Kenya National Museum-West Turkana), is a nearly complete skeleton of a 12-year-old hominid boy who died 1.6 million years ago. The skeleton was discovered in 1984 by a team led by Richard Leakey near Lake Turkana in Kenya. The only bones missing were those of the hands and feet.

The shape of the pelvis indicates that it was a male. Based on dental eruption and lack of any epiphyseal union of the skull, the age can be determined to be about 12 years old.

The shape of the pelvis indicates that it was a male. Based on dental eruption and lack of any epiphyseal union of the skull, the age can be determined to be about 12 years old.

The skeleton was about 5 1/2 ft. tall; though he might have been 150 pounds and 6 ft. tall had he lived to adulthood.

The cranial capacity of Turkana Boy was about 880 ml, although if he would have lived to adulthood it would have been about 910 ml.

Turkana Boy lived at the halfway point between ape primates and human primates.

Turkana Boy is classified as either Homo erectus or Homo ergaster.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


As we've often said, we're all about the Retail Therapy. We're advocates and supporters.

But, we're also thrifty. Literally. Each week, we venture to our favorite local stops, the two westside National Council of Jewish Women Thrift Stores. We stop at Goodwill and Out of the Closet, and the occasional "independent" charity shop.

 We're far from indiscriminate buyers and are carefully to choose things that have true value, which we define as
1. something we can need or definitely can use
2. something we really like
3. something that is in new to near-new condition and
4. something that is genuinely a good deal for the price.

Since items are almost always one-of-a-kind when one is thrifting, it's a good idea to actually carry the item you might want around with you. Place it in a cart or basket. Before you check out, go through each item with great care. Remember, that items are there for a reason. You always hope they are there for the "one person's trash is another's treasure" aspect, but you should expect something might be wrong with the item -- it doesn't work, it's not practical, or it's damaged in some way.

Be sure you run your fingers around the edges of anything glass, ceramic, porcelain or china. Make sure that there are no nicks, chips or cracks.

For clothing items, make sure that there are no holes or rips. Check that all buttons are in place and that zippers work. We prefer items that have clearly been washed. Of course, we're going to wash the item again anyway, if we do decide to purchase it, but in terms of handling (and possibly trying on), we prefer it be as sanitary (and allergy-free) as possible.

That said -- and this is just our particular quirk -- we stay away from "Dry Clean Only" items. If the item is something spectacular (in actuality and deal) or if it is something we can easily hand wash, we may consider the purchase.

There are occasions when you can find new items, although they are often, as expected, the kinds of items purchased on a whim, gifts never returned, items that have long sat in drawers or closets.

Know your stuff: Checking labels will have little meaning to you unless you're familiar with brands. Sure, there are the obvious -- Marc Jacobs, Michael KorsFor example, Kimchi & Blue is a line popular at Urban Outfitters. Odille and Lux are lines often seen at Anthropologie. BP stands for Brass Plum, the junior line at Nordstrom. Look for quality (but perhaps lesser known) designers. We like Liefsdottir, Cynthia Steffe, Vince, Velvet by Spencer Graham, Ella Moss, Michael Stars, French Connection.

In terms of denim jeans, you may look for 7 For All Mankind or Citizens of Humanity, or even J Brand. But solidly well made lines can also be found: Hudson, Paige, Joe's Jeans, Christopher Blue, JAG, Mother, Rock n' Republic, William Rast, NYDJ. Check areas of frequent wear -- seat and crotch, bottom of hems.

Speaking of bottoms, the bottom line is that thrifters can never be in a rush. Quick scans may work for the very discerning eye, but most of us should be prepared to spend a good deal of time having a thorough "look-see."

You may come away with a significant "get," and that's a retail therapy buzz that can't be beat.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Angelina Jolie in Sama Eyewear

Angelina Jolie stepped out in New Orleans with three of her six children, Pax, Shiloh and Zahara. Jolie wore The Gossip sunshades by Sama Eyewear, made with zyl, a Japanese plastic and pure titanium temples. The Gossip Frames in black ink, new for Spring/Summer 2012 are available at Destination Sama and llori boutiques nationwide. Sama Eyewear was founded in 1998 by designer Shelia Vance. The line is a favorite of Jolie and her partner, Brad Pitt.  A portion of the company's proceeds is donated to Vance's non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of, and recovery from, drug abuse amongst young adults, The Sam Vance Foundation (named for Vance's late son, who died from an addiction to heroin).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Classic TV Shows Honored

TV Land announced today that the casts of “Laverne & Shirley” (Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, Michael McKean and David L. Lander) and “One Day At A Time” (Valerie Bertinelli, Bonnie Franklin, Mackenzie Phillips, Glenn Scarpelli and Pat Harrington Jr.) as well as “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” will be honored at the “TV Land Awards” 10th Anniversary celebration. The show honors classic television, film and music icons, will be held at the Lexington Avenue Armory at Gramercy Park on Saturday, April 14th and air on Sunday, April 29th at 9pm ET/PT. More honorees will be announced in coming weeks. They join previously announced honoree Aretha Franklin (Music Icon Award) and second-time host Kelly Ripa for the special decade ceremony.

“Laverne & Shirley” is the recipient of this year’s Fan Favorite Award. This is the first time the cast of “Laverne & Shirley” will be reunited on television in nearly a decade. “Laverne & Shirley” aired on ABC for eight seasons from 1976-1983 and was a spinoff of the Garry Marshall hit “Happy Days.” Penny Marshall as Laverne De Fazio and Cindy Williams as Shirley Feeney played best friends and roommates working in a Milwaukee brewery. Their neighbors were Leonard “Lenny” Kosnowski (Michael McKean) and Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman (David L. Lander), Laverne and Shirley learn to navigate their lives as two single young women in 1950s Milwaukee – and later in the series, 1960s Los Angeles.

“One Day At A Time” is being presented with the Innovator Award, which is given to a television series that carved out new territory, tackled important issues of its day and helped re-defined its genre. The series, which was a hybrid drama/comedy, addressed such taboo topics as pre-marital sex, suicide, sexual harassment and more, breaking barriers and paving the way for future shows to tackle these issues as well. Developed and written in part by TV visionary Norman Lear, “One Day At A Time” aired on CBS for nine seasons from 1975-1984. Starring Bonnie Franklin, Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips as Ann Romano, Barbara Cooper and Julie Cooper, the series revolved around a family headed by a single mother (Franklin) that relocates to Indianapolis, where their new apartment building super, Dwayne Schneider (Pat Harrington Jr.), befriends them. Also taking part in the cast reunion is Glenn Scarpelli, who joined the series in 1980 as the son of Ann’s boyfriend, Nick.

The 22-time Emmy® Award-winning children’s series, "Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” ran on CBS for five seasons from 1986-1991 and has been a staple in pop culture for over 25 years. The title character is portrayed by actor and comedy icon, Paul Reubens, who created what is widely considered one of the most innovative and ground-breaking children's programs in television history. Reubens' wonderfully diverse and colorful playhouse filled with puppets, genies, robots, cowboys and pterodactyls sparked countless imaginations and brought joy and laughter to children and adults alike. The show has been named one of “Top 25 Cult Shows Ever” by TV Guide Magazine, and Pee-wee is more popular than ever with a hit Broadway show, HBO Special, and enormous social media following with millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook. Fittingly, “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” will receive the Pop Culture Award at the “TV Land Awards” 10th Anniversary ceremony.

The "TV Land Awards" pays tribute to classic and contemporary luminaries of television, music and movies. The 90-minute telecast will feature exhilarating musical performances and will reunite some of the most iconic celebrity TV casts.

Previous honorees include Regis Philbin, Michael J. Fox, John Travolta, Bill Cosby, Mike Myers, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Garry Marshall, the cast of "Glee," "Desperate Housewives" and the hilarious sitcoms "Cheers," “The Cosby Show,” “Family Ties,” “The Facts of Life,” "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Bosom Buddies," "Welcome Back, Kotter," "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "M*A*S*H*." Past presenters include Academy Award©-winner Halle Berry, Barbara Walters, Justin Timberlake, Ray Romano, Steve Carell, Billy Crystal, Sharon Stone, Robin Williams and Academy Award©-nominee Robert Downey, Jr., to name a few. Past musical performers include Liza Minnelli, Stevie Wonder, Blondie, Diana Ross, Willie Nelson and Lionel Richie.

Michael Levitt ("Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List," "Billboard Music Awards," "Scream Awards") is executive producer; Five-time Emmy Award©-winning Glenn Weiss is director (“Primetime Emmy Awards,” “BET Awards,” “The Tony Awards”); Greg Sills serves as supervising producer ("VH1 Rock Honors," "The Teen Choice Awards," "Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards"); Gary Tellalian is producer and TV Land's Larry W. Jones and Casey Patterson are executive producers. Tim Bruno is executive in charge of production for TV Land.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Actress Emma Roberts was spotted leaving a nail salon and grabbing a bite, wearing Bec & Bridge’s Pierre Striped Jumper sweater with maroon and pink stripes.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Carrie Underwood’s video for single ‘Good Girl’ features the country starlet wearing an ice blue crystal encrusted Georges Chakra Couture dress from his Spring/Summer 2011 collection. For more information about Georges Chakra

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mad Men's January Jones attended the Paleyfest 2012 event honoring "Mad Men," wearing Jenny Packham. The blonde starlet selected a sky blue long sleeved shift dress with silver stud embellishment from the British designer's Fall/Winter 2012 Catwalk collection.

Jones with her "Mad Men" co-star, Jon Hamm.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Titanic 100 Years Later:
Mystery Solved

As the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking approaches, a team of scientists, engineers, archaeologists and imaging experts have joined forces to answer one of the most haunting questions surrounding the legendary disaster: Just how did the “unsinkable” ship break apart and plunge into the icy waters of the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912?  TITANIC AT 100: MYSTERY SOLVED premieres Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 8-10pm ET/PT and will document this most recent mission, unveil astonishing pieces of never-before-seen wreckage and present the expedition’s unexpected findings as well as definitive answers.

In 2010, HISTORY joined the world’s top underwater experts in this most recent expedition to the wreck site, one that completed the most thorough and exhaustive study of the wreck ever made. The undertaking, which included the leadership participation of RMS Titanic, Inc., the salvor in possession of the wreck site, yielded unprecedented new discoveries and the first comprehensive map of Titanic’s watery grave – the entire fifteen square-mile patch of ocean floor where Titanic came to rest – helping to solve the century-old puzzle of what went wrong and to determine who or what was responsible.

TITANIC AT 100: MYSTERY SOLVED tells the exclusive story of this expedition.  In addition to the mapping of the entire site, the special will also reveal for the first time the complete picture of the breakup and sinking by use of a virtual hangar.  Applying the techniques of a space shuttle or aircraft accident investigation (map the site and reassemble the pieces in a hangar), the team of experts will create a virtual holographic reconstruction of the wreck site in a hangar.  No other anniversary show has the exclusive story of this unique expedition and its startling revelations.

In the twenty-five years since the wreck was located, no one had ever explored and mapped the entire site – no one had all the keys to understanding what could have truly happened on that fateful night -- nearly half the area remained unseen and unknown, and significant portions of the ship, which could reveal how it broke, were missing.  Now, after 100 years, every inch of the entire site is finally known, and every piece of the ship documented exactly where it landed on the ocean floor a century ago.

In TITANIC AT 100: MYSTERY SOLVED viewers see newly discovered pieces of the ship for the first time, follow the expedition’s new finds, and will come to learn the definitive story of how the ship broke apart. The event special will answer the biggest questions about Titanic: did she have a fatal flaw, and if so, who or what was responsible?  By the end of TITANIC AT 100: MYSTERY SOLVED viewers will finally know the whole story. It is time to know what happened. And time to lay the Titanic to rest.

The first to visit Titanic in five years, the 2010 expedition, led by RMS Titanic, Inc. the wreck’s legal custodian and curator brought together a number of prominent underwater organizations that had never partnered before. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Advanced Imaging & Visualization Laboratory, a world leader in underwater imaging, developed special 3-D and 2-D cameras for the mission that delivered high-quality footage of extreme clarity. The Waitt Institute for Discovery, meanwhile, supplied self-controlled robots known as AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles), capable of independently surveying the site with high-resolution side-scan sonar. These devices worked in tandem with an ROV (remote operated vehicle) provided by Phoenix International, a marine services contractor.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University also contributed to the expedition. Engineer Parks Stephenson, marine artist Ken Marschall, accident investigator Jim Chiles and Titanic expert Bill Sauder served as consultants on behalf of HISTORY.
The AUVs traveled the entire search area and returned with high-resolution views that were aggregated into a sonar map. The second step of the process involved sending out an ROV fitted with cameras to debris-rich sites pinpointed by the AUVs. AUVs and ROV had never before been used simultaneously on a deep ocean site.  “The sonar map is the baseline for the entire analysis,” Parks Stephenson said. “It basically shows us the truth of where all of the debris landed, and then we used that as a guide to go through all of the raw footage. This gave us eyeball resolution on all those pieces, including pieces we’ve never seen before.” David Gallo, director of special projects at Woods Hole, described the footage captured by the ROV: “The images are staggering. There you are on the bottom of the ocean, transported to the sea floor. It’s mindboggling; even veterans who have been to Titanic numerous times are slack-jawed.”

The team believes its cutting-edge approach represents a paradigm shift in underwater archaeology. “Speaking as an archeologist, I think it’s extremely exciting,” said James Delgado, director of maritime heritage for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “This technology and these AUVs are as much a game changer for this kind of work on the bottom as going from a landline to a Blackberry.” Chris Davino, president of RMS Titanic, Inc. said it filled a longstanding void in research on the illustrious wreck. “So much of what we’re doing really hasn’t been done before,” he noted. “The map itself, obviously, is a first-time-ever product. People have been clamoring for this on Titanic for literally decades.”

The expedition’s participants generated a map that was not only more complete but also more precise than earlier attempts. “Over the course of time, there have been dozens of expeditions to Titanic, but notwithstanding all of the expertise and all of the technological advances, no one has even tried to accomplish creating a comprehensive site survey map of this wreck site,” said Chris Davino. “Previous expeditions have gone down in manned submersibles or photo sleds to cover an area of the wreck site,” Stephenson explained. “They would only cover a portion of the wreck site since they could only stay down for so long.” When experts fused together these disparate slices back on the surface, key information was lost—including the exact locations of artifacts and fragments.

In addition to offering a detailed look at critical elements of the wreckage—including the dual surfaces of the hull’s double bottom, a focus of a 2006 HISTORY special on Titanic—the mapping  revealed new and telling pieces experts knew little or nothing about. For instance, a pile of unidentified rubble, which Parks Stephenson and other HISTORY analysts dubbed the “deckhouse debris,” turned out to encompass the base of Titanic’s third funnel and surrounding decks. “This gave us our first indication of how the ship actually broke apart,” Stephenson said of the piece, which he’d glimpsed in outtakes from the 2006 special. “It’s important not only to identify what things were but also to establish a context for them.”

By taking into account the locations of the deckhouse debris, the double bottom and newly discovered pieces on the sonar map, investigators recreate the ship’s final moments—in particular its deterioration and descent to the sea floor—in TITANIC AT 100: MYSTERY SOLVED, “You really begin to understand how violently the ship tore itself apart when it went down and landed all over this enormous footprint on the bottom of the ocean,” said David Alberg, sanctuary superintendent for NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.

Filmmaker Rushmore DeNooyer, a producer of the HISTORY special, likened the undertaking to a forensic analysis of a crime or disaster scene—only in this case, 100 years after the tragedy took place. “If the National Transportation Safety Board looks at an airliner that crashes or if NASA looks at the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, they look at where the pieces are and how they are arranged and oriented on the ground,” he said. “That’s basically like the map.”

Any accident investigation needs a map of the site, showing all the wreckage.  Why?  Because the layout of the wreck site, the relationship of all the pieces, holds clues as to what happened.  Like blood spatters at a murder scene, how the pieces of Titanic are lying on the bottom -- their positions in relationship to each other -- can tell the story of how the ship’s structure failed, leading to her disintegration.

In one of the most amazing moments, computer simulations will enact the sinking in reverse, bring pieces of Titanic’s wreckage back to the surface and reassemble the ship in the virtual hangar. The aim is to determine how and why the ship’s structure failed when it split apart, as well as where exactly the break occurred. “Because of the comprehensive mapping from the 2010 expedition, we were able for the first time to reconstruct that broken middle area of the ship,” said Stephenson.

Whereas other anniversary programs tout best-guess theories and land-based speculation, TITANIC AT 100: MYSTERY SOLVED presents new findings based on real-world hard evidence gathered on-site to deconstruct the disaster and show exactly how the ship broke apart.  From this analysis, we’ll find out who or what was at fault and who or what has been blamed unfairly.  This will be the definitive story of the tragic sinking of Titanic.

TITANIC AT 100: MYSTERY SOLVED is produced by Lone Wolf Documentary Group for HISTORY. Executive Producers Kirk Wolfinger, RMS Titanic, Inc., and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Executive Producer for HISTORY Carl H. Lindahl; Co-executive Producer Peacock Productions/NBC News

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Amish: Out of Order
Follows Trials of Ex-Amish 

It’s a Whole New Ex-Amish World With Girls, Beer, Cage Fighting and Cars,
But Family Rejection, Car Crashes, No Credit and Little Education Dampen Dreams

Amish: Out of Order Premieres Tuesday, April 17, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

It takes a lot to leave the only life you’ve ever known—for one you’ve been told will lead you straight to hell. And with little possibility of normal contact with your family ever again, turning your back on the Amish order is an immense undertaking, a choice that’s not made without tremendous consideration.

In National Geographic Channel’s new 10-part series Amish: Out of Order, premiering Tuesday, April 17, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, from the producers of Amish in the City and The Devil’s Playground, follow the trials and tribulations of individuals who have made the decision to leave the Amish community behind. We’re led into their lives by Mose Gingerich, a modest celebrity “ex” and de facto mayor of the community who mentors his fellow “exes” of all ages and is committed to improving their future. He says he has “pursued my vision or dream of exploring the world to the fullest,” including appearing on Amish in the City, conducting TV and radio interviews, writing a book and having a family.

The Amish believe in a simple, plain life, with almost no modern conveniences. Most Amish will not appear on camera. It’s a lifestyle that has remained largely unchanged since the 18th century. While the people featured on Amish: Out of Order might be absolutely sure of what they left behind—and why—they most likely have no idea what awaits them in our unfamiliar “English” world. And for this unprecedented series, the individuals who are featured are risking being permanently shunned, but are determined to tell their stories.

Go to the homes of some of the largest ex-Amish communities in the U.S. Being surrounded by like-minded people from very similar backgrounds makes it easier for men and women of all ages to transition from their Amish lives to the outside world. They are met with acceptance and understanding even as they are often shunned and ostracized from the homes and communities in which they grew up.

Ex-Amish teen Jonas, like many Americans his age, is thrilled to get his driver’s license, but a terrible car wreck causes him, and those around him, to rethink their life choices. Esther is trying to become the first ex-Amish actress and is dating an “English” guy. Chris has started cage fighting and has his first amateur fight in front of an audience coming up. And in a rare dichotomy, we’ll meet Michaela, a non-Amish teenager whose heart is set on joining the Amish.

By discovering and sharing what it takes for the ex-Amish to survive and assimilate into our society on a day-to-day basis, and learning more about specific Amish rituals and traditions—from barn building to funerals—viewers gain a perspective on Amish life and identity that’s never been offered until now.

Premiere episodes include:

Amish: Out of Order: Amish 101
Tuesday, April 17, at 10 p.m. ET/PT
In the series opener we’re introduced to the Columbia, Mo., ex-Amish community. Chris Y. and his older brother Reuben—both ex-Amish—go to pick up their Amish friend Michael, who wants to leave the sect too, but he’s a no-show. The brothers learn that for some, leaving the Amish isn’t as easy as it was for them. A number of other ex-Amish with hopes, dreams, passions and inclinations that weren’t satisfied within the confines of their Amish upbringing and culture are introduced—including Chris L., a roofer and cage fighter; and Mose Gingerich, the de facto mayor of the ex-Amish community who’s helped other ex-Amish adapt to the “real world” for more than nine years.

Amish: Out of Order: Culture Clash
Tuesday, April 24, at 10 p.m. ET/PT
It becomes apparent that Amish culture depends on—and is defined by—the particular way they dress, groom and interact with their land. Mose Gingerich, who is usually the one to help ex-Amish transition to the “English” life, has a crisis of faith as Michaela, a non-Amish teenager whose heart is set on joining the Amish, challenges his views. Michaela has a troubled family history and so is drawn to Amish simplicity and strong devotion to family and community—but it might not be so easy. We also meet Cephas, a young ex-Amish man with a strong Amish work ethic—but a decidedly un-Amish love of progress and a desire to be successful. He dreams of owning land—the cornerstone of Amish culture—but without a high school education or even a credit record, it’s not as easy as he thought it would be when he left.

Amish: Out of Order: Can't Go Home Again
Tuesday, May 1, at 10 p.m. ET/PT
Ex-Amish teen Jonas has attained the dream that he shares with millions of American teenagers—a driver’s license. But his newfound freedom is cut short when a terrible car crash lands him in the hospital, fighting for his life. The Amish see cars as a threat to their traditional way of life, promoting vanity, individuality and a fast-paced life—and driving one is seen as a complete disregard for the Amish way of life. Jonas’ accident devastates the ex-Amish community and in particular his adopted English parents, Peggy and Hoss. What makes things worse is the fact that Jonas’ Amish father tells him that if he had died while not part of the Amish community, he would have spent an eternity in hell.

Amish: Out of Order is produced by Stick Figure Productions for the National Geographic Channel (NGC).  For Stick Figure Productions, executive producers are Steven Cantor, Terry Clark and Daniel Laikind.  For NGC, executive producer is Richard Wells, executive vice president of programming is Michael Cascio.

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