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I loved visiting Dolly Parton’s home town in Tennessee! Here are 10 Reasons Pigeon Forge is Really Something to Squawk About!

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tina fey, paul rudd and paul weitz on “admission”

Anyone who has been through the college admissions process knows how harrowing it can be. But what’s it like when you’re the one making the decision rather than waiting for it? In Admission, which opens Friday, March 22, Tiny Fey’s character gets a rare opportunity to experience the stress on both sides of the application.

Portia, an unmarried Princeton admissions officer, reconnects with John (Paul Rudd), an old classmate who now teaches at an alternative high school. He introduces her to a student who just may be the son she gave up for adoption years ago, and informs her that he is applying to Princeton.

I had such a good time at the press junket for Admission, where my fellow bloggers and I got to meet stars Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, and director Paul Weitz. As a fan of everyone involved – plus the book itself – I looked forward to hearing what words of wisdom they would impart about parenting and the college admissions process. Here are some snippets from our press conference:

[Read more…]

Why the Oscars Left Me Feeling Like a Grouch

Watching the Oscars has always been one of my favorite TV nights of the year. Until last night.

I was just going to chalk up my disgust over last night’s show to my raging hormones and decreasing tolerance for mean-spirited humor, but then The Onion sent out a jaw-dropping Tweet calling 9-year-old nominee Quvenzhane Wallis the “c” word (you can read it here but I’m not posting it on our site).

The Onion, which is usually very clever and on-target, totally crossed the line there and, although it’s absolutely inexcusable and they’ve since apologized, it’s easy to see how the writer could have considered it “humor,” given the sexist, misogynistic tone of the night. [Read more…]

omg, i’ve got bieber fever!

Frampton sign

It’s Blog Hop time again! This month it’s all about celebrity crushes, past and present, so I’m re-posting my piece inspired by my experience at the screening of the Justin Bieber movie. Don’t be embarrassed to share your own crush in the Comments below! I’d love to know who graced the walls of your teenage bedroom! [Read more…]

my personal photos from the movie set of “safe haven”

Safe Haven posterEven writers know that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I thought I’d share my photos from my Safe Haven movie set visit last summer in Southport, North Carolina, with you. Note: writers also know that captions are helpful – or we rationalize they are – so here’s my album to get you excited about the release of the movie on  February 14. You can read about my walk with author Nicholas Sparks here and my interview with him here. [Read more…]

nicholas sparks on bringing “safe haven” to the big screen

Safe HavenLast summer, I was invited to visit the set of Safe Haven, the movie based on Nicholas Sparks’ bestselling novel. I flew to beautiful Southport, North Carolina, where I got to meet the author along with stars Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. It was such a fun experience, and I’ll be telling you more about it before the movie opens around the country on Valentine’s Day.

I really enjoyed talking to the prolific Nicholas Sparks, who has written 16 novels, all of which have been New York Times bestsellers. His first book, The Notebook, is especially beloved and defines a genre which has become Sparks’ signature.  Safe Haven is the eighth of his books to be turned into a movie, and here’s what he had to say about it: [Read more…]

Katy Perry, Neil Young and Teenage Dreams

Neil YoungI love Neil Young.

In fact, I’m such a huge fan that I went straight from the airport on Monday to the screening of Jonathan Demme’s new documentary, Neil Young Journeys. After all, the man basically provided the soundtrack for my formative years.

“Tell Me Why” is the first song I learned to play on the guitar, and I listened to “After the Gold Rush” on the 1970s version of “repeat,” which meant getting up and manually putting the needle in the right groove over and over and over again. I remember spending the summer of ’72 listening to Harvest endlessly while sleeping over at my camp friend’s house (oh, Sue Agnoff, if this was Facebook, I would be tagging you here). I can’t hear any of those songs now without being brought back to my 13-year-old self again. [Read more…]

Carly Patterson and Shannon Miller on Gymnastics, the Olympics and American Girls

I spent the weekend at the Olympic gymnastic trials in San Jose, where I got a chance to talk to legendary gymnasts Carly Patterson and Shannon Miller. Patterson is the 2004 Olympic All-Around Champion and Miller is the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history. Here’s what they had to say about the past, present and future of the sport.

Lois Alter Mark: How does it feel to be back at the Olympic trials?

Shannon Miller Women's GymnasticsShannon Miller: It brings back that feeling in the pit of my stomach right before the Olympic trials, which is just nerve-wracking and stressful. But it’s also a feeling of excitement and fun. I know those athletes are feeling excited that it’s finally here. Tonight they’ll know whether they’re on the team, and just to have that knowledge when you go to bed is such a relief. [Read more…]

"Bully" — The Controversy and the Bottom Line

Bully by Lee HirschThe powerful new documentary, Bully, by award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, continues to be surrounded by controversy. First, the profanity spewed by some of the bullies in the film caused the MPAA to give it an R rating, taking away its accessibility to the kids who really need to see it (a decision which has since been overturned and the rating changed to a more accurate PG-13). Most recently, the movie has been accused of oversimplifying and distorting the problem. [Read more…]

Sara Blakely of Spanx Just Joined the Forbes World Billionaires List!

Congratulations to Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, for becoming the youngest self-made woman to join the Forbes World Billionaires list this year.

I feel a special kinship to Sara whose appearance on The Oprah Show so inspired me as my partners and I were developing StyleSubstanceSoul.com. Because of this, we were chosen to accompany Oprah on the trip of a lifetime to Australia as “Ultimate Viewers.” You can read the whole amazing story here.

Using her life savings of $5000 to start her company, Sara literally changed the shape of women’s fashion. Fourteen years later, she joins Oprah – to whom she donated $1 million for her Leadership Academy for Girls in Africa – in the elite group of women making ten figures (figures probably ensconced in Spanx!). She has also taken on her own philanthropic causes, supporting a variety of charities and organizations which empower women through her Sara Blakely Foundation.

I applaud Sara, who continues to be an inspiration to me. I hope to have as great an impact on women as she has, and I hope to one day join her on this list. (Hey, putting it out into the universe is what got me to Australia with Oprah!)

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.com.

Whatever Happened to …

So much has been happening in the news lately, I thought I should revisit some of our recent articles to see what’s changed since I first posted them.

Octavia Spencer at the 2012 Academy AwardsOur 2012 Academy Awards Predictions!

And the winners were …

Best Picture: The Artist

Best Actor: Jean Dujardin

Best Actress: Meryl Streep

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer

And the StyleSubstanceSoul contest resulted in – drum roll, please – a tie between Amy and me! Best Actor and Actress were big upsets – well, at least to me – but they were all excellent performances and we congratulate all the winners. As far as my family predictions, my nephew won with 16 correct picks. Yay, Sam – bragging rights are all yours!


The Red Carpet Goes Green Thanks to Colin Firth’s Wife, Livia

Well, Livia promised a surprise A-lister would be going green last night, and it turned out to be Best Actress Meryl Streep herself. She looked stunning and proved, without a doubt, that being eco-stylish is good karma. Check out Livia’s Vogue blog for more photos and a peek behind the scenes.


An Open Letter to Republican Women

This article was picked up by the Huffington Post, and made its way through Facebook groups like One Million Pissed Off Women, Organizing Against the War on Women and the Republican War on Women.

Unfortunately, not a whole lot has changed on these issues so if you’re concerned about protecting women’s rights – which you should be – join these groups, keep informed and get involved.


It’s Time to Re-Think Pink

This article was also picked up by the Huffington Post, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure continues to be the subject of much debate. The Facebook group, De-fund the Komen Foundation, provides a number of alternatives if you’re looking for organizations supporting breast cancer research.


Chris Brown and the Importance of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Since the Grammy Awards welcomed back Chris Brown – who is still on probation for beating Rihanna – with open arms, Rihanna has apparently welcomed him back, too, collaborating with him at least musically once again.

Brown, apparently remorseless, Tweeted a profanity-laced message to his “haters,” and here’s a thoughtful, must-read piece about the message all of this sends to our children by Elin Stebbins Waldal, author of Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and its Effect on a Woman’s Life. Please read it.


Speak Out: A Poem About Domestic Violence by Miriam Mendoza, Age 11

The man who killed Miriam’s 19-year-old cousin last year has finally been caught. We hope this will help Miriam and her family as they try to heal from this tragedy.


Talking About Disaster Preparedness

Last week, Anderson Cooper devoted an entire show to the topic, so you may want to go back to this article and make sure you have everything you need — just in case.


Five Lessons to Learn From Adele

Rumor had it that Adele was taking five years off from recording so she could just hang out with her boyfriend and relax. Luckily, her break was more like five days, and she’s heading back to the studio soon. Now that’s good news!

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.com.