<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - TV, movies, music and celebrity news]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/entertainment/entertainment-news http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com en-us Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:55:04 -0400 Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:55:04 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Meyers: Happy Birthday to Our Viewers]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:02:25 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Meyers+Birthdays.png Seth Meyers wishes happy birthday to "Late Night" viewers, and sprinkles in a few messages for his neighbor Dennis. ]]> <![CDATA[Fred Talks: New Footwear Line ]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 07:54:59 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Fred+Footwear.png In another edition of "Fred Talks," Fred Armisen reveals another new project that he has just launched to Seth Meyers. Warning: Shoes from Michael's Jackets will only cover the tops of your feet.]]> <![CDATA[Giant Turkey Leg Jerry Takes Some Questions]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 07:38:13 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Meyers+Turkey+leg.png Seth Meyers asked the new "Late Night" intern, Jerry Turkey Leg, to take questions from the audience. ]]> <![CDATA[Late at Night on NBC]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 09:39:14 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP24762024125.jpg

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Fallon: "Water War" with Jake Gyllenhaal]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 07:24:57 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/Fallon+Jake+2.jpg

Jimmy Fallon and Jake Gyllenhaal faced off against each other in the card game “War” where the loser faces wet consequences.

The “Nightcrawler” star and “Tonight Show” host squared off with five glasses of water and a deck of cards. The classic card game “War” was raised to the next level, and promised a very wet ending.

The new rules state that every lost hand means a glass of water to the face. The first person to empty all five glasses not only wins, but they get to use the water cannon to finish off their opponent.

“Lot’s of ways to get wet, but only one way to win,” said Fallon.

The first round sent the two contestants to “war” when they both drew matching cards. The stakes were raised and the glass of water was replaced by a full pitcher.

“What we are going to do is one card flip, two card flip, three card flip, and the third one is the one that counts,” Fallon explained.

After loosing the “war” round, Gyllenhaal insisted that the game “is fixed,” before going on to win the next two rounds.

“I’m pissing on your head, Jimmy,” Gyllenhaal screamed after a victory, made awkward by the fact that had just declared how strangely warm the water was.

“That is not what one says to another person,” Fallon responded.

The guys got creative with the water dumps, winding up fully drenched halfway through the game. Watch the video above to find out who won.

Photo Credit: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank]]>
<![CDATA[Fallon: Paul Reubens Announces New Pee-Wee Movie]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:31:10 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Paul+Reuben+1.jpg Jimmy Fallon talks to Paul Reubens about doing a dating game-show as Pee-wee Herman, and reveals details about the new Pee Wee movie.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for "The Tonight Sh]]>
<![CDATA[Movie Theaters Ban Wearing Google Glass]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:45:35 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP505972381366.jpg

Wearing your Google Glass or other wearable tech is now officially banned in movie theaters.

If you don't put your devices away, you could risk being asked to leave the movie, or even having the police called on you, two industry groups said Wednesday.

The new ban is part of an effort by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) to crack down on movie piracy.

The new update to the groups' "anti-theft policy" followed a joint meeting of MPAA and NATO theatrical anti-piracy teams at ShowEast, the annual industry convention and trade show.

"As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters," the groups said in a joint statement, "we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Suge Knight Charged in Camera Theft]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 05:46:09 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/suge-knight-katt-williams-split.jpg

Rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight and comedian Micah "Katt" Williams were arrested Wednesday for stealing a paparazzo's camera outside a Beverly Hills studio last month, authorities said.

Knight and Williams are charged with one count each of robbery. 

The two men are suspected of stealing the camera of independent celebrity photographer Leslie Redden on Sept. 5 outside a studio in Beverly Hills.

Police say Knight "orchestrated" the robbery in an alley off North Canon Drive.

"It was a strong arm robbery where a camera was forcefully removed from the photographer by Katt Williams. The victim in the matter did sustain injury in this case," Beverly Hills Police Lt. Lincoln Hoshino said.

Williams was arrested Wednesday morning after he arrived at an Inglewood court for arraignment in a separate assault case.

Knight, who was staying at a property off the Las Vegas Strip, was taken into custody on Wednesday by a task force of local police and the FBI, according to a statement from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Las Vegas authorities made the arrest after they were advised by Beverly Hills police that a felony warrant for robbery had been issued for Knight.

He was booked at the Clark County Detention Center on warrants for being fugitive and driving on a suspended license, Las Vegas police said.

"Mr. Knight was unaware that there was any warrant," said Richard Schonfeld, Knight's attorney. "We will be addressing the circumstances in court."

If convicted, Knight, who has a prior conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, faces up to 30 years to life in state prison. Williams faces up to seven years in custody.

"Mr. Knight is kind of a magnet for trouble over time. Assault with a deadly weapon in his past, he’s a fugitive from justice, driving on a suspended license," NBC4 legal analyst Royal Oakes said. "As a result, if convicted of stealing a camera, he could go to prison for 30 years."

Oakes believes Knight and Williams' defense teams may also have a case.

“I would say this is a horrible misunderstanding. These paparazzo folks can be abusive and you can’t blame him for lashing out and trying to take the camera," Oakes said.

Knight, the former head of Death Row Records, was most recently made the news in August when he was one of three people wounded during an early morning shooting at a West Hollywood nightclub.

Williams is free on $75,000 bail. Knight is in Las Vegas awaiting extradition and considered a fugitive for crossing state lines. His bail is set at $1 million.  

Photo Credit: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chris Rock’s "Saturday Night Live" Return]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:49:21 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/NUP_166178_0001.JPG

The closest Chris Rock came to a breakout character during his early 1990s tenure on "Saturday Night Live" was Nat X, fiery host of a show that looked a lot like David Letterman’s program, albeit much shorter. "This is the only 15-minute show on TV," Nat X noted. "Why? Because The Man would never give a brother like me a whole half-hour!"

Rock, whose time is in great demand these days, from Broadway to Hollywood, returns to "SNL" this week for a 90-minute victory lap with just his second hosting stint since leaving the show more than two decades ago.

The comedian, who last hosted the late night staple in 1996, is among the few superstar "SNL" alums whose success isn’t closely tied to the show. That seems to be an emerging theme, intended or otherwise, during this landmark 40th season. Sarah Silverman’s opening monologue on the Oct. 4 installment poked fun at her blink-and-you-missed-her run on the show 20 years ago. The most recent host, Jim Carrey, famously auditioned for "SNL" three decades ago, but didn’t get far enough to put on his manic act for producer Lorne Michaels. 

Still, Rock carries the "SNL" DNA like few other performers. His strongest stand-up influences range from the show’s first host (George Carlin) to its biggest star (Eddie Murphy). Even if Rock didn't standout as a sketch player on "SNL," his experience helped prepare him for his subsequent great eponymous HBO program. He left "SNL," one of the toughest rooms in show biz, to become a performer who moves easily from movies to theater ("The M----F----- With the Hat") while transcending standup as one of our great comedic storytellers ("What does Daddy get for all his work? The big piece of chicken. That’s all Daddy gets," he told us in 1999’s "Bigger & Blacker").

Rock is sharing his "SNL" spotlight with Prince, who reportedly will play an 8-minute set mid-show as he promotes his two latest albums, "Art Official Age" and "PlectrumElectrum." Meanwhile, Rock is plugging his new movie, "Top Five," about a comedian who tries to become a serious actor while dealing with his Reality TV star fiancée.

Perhaps the title of the film, which opens Dec. 5, is an inside joke dating back to Nat X' Top 5 list segment: "Why five? Because 10 would make The Man nervous!" There are many more than five or even 10 reasons to watch Rock’s return to "SNL," including his promo reel for Saturday’s show featuring Bobby Moynihan. Check it out above.


Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multimedia NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC
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<![CDATA[Celeb Baby Boom: Jessica Paré]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 09:14:17 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP148473375241.jpg See which celebrities are gearing up for parenthood in 2014.

Photo Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Daniel Radcliffe Raps on "Tonight"]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 09:34:13 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/458008502.jpg

It looks like acting isn't Daniel Radcliffe's only talent.

The "Harry Potter" star now promoting the movie "Horns" showed off his rapping skills on Tuesday's episode of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

Radcliffe explained that he enjoys reciting lyrics by artists Eminem and British rapper Plan B.

“I’ve always had an obsession with memorizing complicated, lyrically intricate and fast songs,” Radcliffe said. "It’s a disease.”

The 25-year-old then took the stage and showed off his impressive rap skills by performing the tongue-twisting track “Alphabet Aerobics” by rap duo Blackalicious.

Watch Radcliffe perform in the video above. 

Photo Credit: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank]]>
<![CDATA[Amy Poehler Missed Weekend Update to Give Birth]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 07:33:48 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/Amy+Poehler2.JPG Seth Meyers' first solo "Weekend Update" anchor duties were due to Amy Poehler going into labor the morning of the show.

Photo Credit: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank]]>
<![CDATA[Ellen: Gyllenhaal Talks "Nightcrawler" Weight Loss]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:43:52 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-10-29+at+3.18.50+PM.png Jake Gyllenhaal explained to Ellen DeGeneres why he lost weight for his role in the movie "Nightcrawler."]]> <![CDATA[Ellen: Gyllenhaal Gets Scared]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:47:47 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-10-29+at+3.17.46+PM.png Ellen DeGeneres scares Jake Gyllenhaal with a doll that nearly knocks him out of his seat.]]> <![CDATA[Meyers: George R.R. Martin Knights Seth]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 07:12:06 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/George+R.R.+Martin+Knights1.JPG George R.R. Martin reveals that he has Knighted a couple of fans in the past, so Seth Meyers requests to be Knighted. His title: Sir Seth, Knight of the Pizza.

Photo Credit: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank]]>
<![CDATA[George R.R. Martin Plays "Game of Thrones" Trivia]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 07:02:47 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Meyers+Trivia.png Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler challenges George R.R. Martin to a "Game of Thrones" Trivia, where he must guess who said which famous "Game of Thrones" quote?]]> <![CDATA[Meyers: Amy Poehler's SNL Memories]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 06:54:38 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/Amy+Poehler2.JPG Amy Poehler recounts a few backstage memories from her days on SNL, including Will Forte naked in his office and yelling out "I love you Kutch!" to Ashton Kutcher.

Photo Credit: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank]]>
<![CDATA[Mike Tyson Beats Mike Tyson in "Punch Out!"]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 06:39:20 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Tyson+Fallon+2.jpg On the "Tonight Show" Tuesday, Jimmy Fallon challenged the real Mike Tyson to beat a digital Mike Tyson in a game of "Punch-Out!" Watch and see which Tyson wins.

Photo Credit: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank]]>
<![CDATA[Daniel Radcliffe Raps "Alphabet Aerobics"]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 06:30:15 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/Radcliffe+Fallon.JPG Jimmy Fallon challenged hip-hop lover Daniel Radcliffe to rap Blackalicious' tongue-twisting "Alphabet Aerobics" on the "The Tonight Show" Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Maher Commencement Controversy]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:46:47 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/bill+maher+mets.jpg

Bill Maher may not the most popular comedian in Berkeley right now.

The polarizing polemicist did what he did best on Oct. 3: sound off, memorably, on an issue of religion, and now Maher's comments about Islam have spurred a petition to remove him as a keynote speaker at December's commencement ceremonies, according to reports.

During an Oct. 3 broadcast, author Sam Harris called Islam "the mother lode of bad ideas," and Maher did not appear to disagree, chiming in that "liberal principles" are "lacking" in the Muslim world.

That's since landed Maher in hot water – which he’s not unaccustomed to – with the university's Islamic community and beyond, who want him dropped from the Dec. 20 graduation exercise.

A Change.org petition calling Maher a "blatant bigot and racist" had 3,000 signatures as of Tuesday evening.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Joan Rivers' Family Hires Prominent Law Firm]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 18:41:59 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/tlmd_joan_rivers_hospitalizada.jpg

Joan Rivers' family has hired a prominent New York City personal injury and medical malpractice law firm to investigate the comic legend's death last month, the firm said Tuesday.

The law firm of Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz confirmed that it had been retained. That firm represented Amadou Diallo, the unarmed man shot 19 times and killed by four New York City police officers in 1999.

"In order to fully determine all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Joan Rivers, we confirm that our firm has been engaged by Melissa Rivers and her family," it said in a brief statement.

Managing partners Ben Rubinowitz and Jeffrey Bloom will represent the Rivers family, Rubinowitz told NBC 4 New York.

Bloom is described on the firm's website as having "a reputation as one of the top medical malpractice and personal injury attorneys in New York," while Rubinowitz's biography on the site describes multimillion-dollar verdicts he has won for clients in wrongful death and medical malpractice cases.

The medical examiner's office found earlier this month that Rivers, 81, died Sept. 4 of complications from low blood oxygen during a routine medical procedure to assess voice changes and reflux she underwent at a New York clinic.

The medical examiner said Rivers suffered brain damage when her oxygen supply was cut off and classified the legendary comedian's death as a "therapeutic complication," meaning it resulted from a "predictable complication of medical therapy" -- or a known risk of the procedure.

Those findings came nearly two months after Rivers went into hypoxic arrest, which is when the brain lacks oxygen, while undergoing the procedure at Yorkville Endoscopy on 93rd Street Aug. 28. She was taken to the hospital, where she was put on life support. She died Sept. 4.

An after-hours message left for Yorkville Endoscopy on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

According to the medical examiner, Rivers was undergoing a largyngoscopy -- a medical procedure used to obtain a view of the vocal folds and the glottis -- and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, which uses a flexible tube with a light to see the lining of the upper GI tract, while being evaluated for voice changes and gastroesophageal reflux disease, when she went into hypoxic arrest.

Rivers was being sedated by the drug propofol during the procedure. A plastic surgeon not connected to the Rivers case said hypoxia is a potential side effect of the drug. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Neil Patrick Harris to Host New NBC Variety Show]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:00:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP740881849686%281%29.jpg

Neil Patrick Harris will host a new hourlong variety show for NBC, the network announced Monday.

The "How I Met Your Mother" star, Broadway regular and host of next year's Academy Awards will emcee the new series based on the British hit "Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway." NBC has ordered 10 episodes of the show which currently does not have a title or air date.

The series will include "comedy sketches, musical numbers, mini game shows, hidden camera pranks on celebrities and appearances by A-list stars" and will be recorded in front of a live audience, according to a statement.

"As I watched the show, I couldn't stop smiling," Harris said of the British program, which is hosted by British comedy duo Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. "Now that I've seen many seasons, my face hurts. It's a game-changer. Nothing like this has been done before, and its unique structure fits right into my random skill set. I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and have some fun!"

"All of us here at NBC have been dying to work with Neil, as we’ve watched him brilliantly host the Tonys and Emmys," Paul Telegdy, NBC Entertainment president for alternative and late-night programming, said in the statement. "This series will suit his extraordinary talents perfectly."

"Saturday Night Takeaway" has been airing in Britain since 2002.

<![CDATA["The Voice" Season 7 Greatest Moments]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:54:55 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/NUP_164385_6398.JPG "The Voice" season 7 rocks out with Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton

Photo Credit: Trae Patton/NBC]]>
<![CDATA[McGregor Got Stranded Driving Cross-Country]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:02:06 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/457960836.jpg Jimmy Fallon chats with Ewan McGregor about his Broadway debut play, "The Real Thing," and the time he got stranded while trying to cross America in a sports car.

Photo Credit: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank]]>
<![CDATA[Fallon: Charades With McGregor, Barkley]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:52:32 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/Charades+2.jpg Jimmy Fallon and Charles Barkley face-off against Ewan McGregor and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy in a game of charades on “The Tonight Show” Monday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for "The Tonight Sh]]>
<![CDATA[Meyers Venn Diagrams: Elections, Ebola]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:53:00 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Meyers+Venn+Diagram.png In his ongoing segment "Venn Diagrams," Seth Meyers takes two seemingly different groups and reveals what they have in common. ]]> <![CDATA[Meyers: Fred Armisen Talks Waterslide Food Truck]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:56:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Fred+Food+Truck.png Fred Armisen tells Seth Meyer's that he recently started a food truck shaped like a waterslide, where food shoots down the slide instead of water. Unfortunately, customers have a hard time reading the menu located at the top of the four-story structure. ]]> <![CDATA[Meyers: New Yorkers React to Ebola ]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:52:53 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Meyers+Ebola+New+York.png Seth Meyers interviews some anxious New Yorkers about the first confirmed ebola case in NYC.]]> <![CDATA[Seth Meyers Dishes on Tim Gunn Run-in]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:50:08 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/488838335.jpg Seth Meyers ran into Tim Gunn at the airport in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and was amazed by how kind the “Project Runway” star was to approaching fans.

Photo Credit: WireImage]]>
<![CDATA[Star-Spangled Blunder: Lewis Is Latest National Anthem Casualty]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:28:19 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP767478505523.jpg

Being asked to sing the National Anthem is a great honor to many performers – but sometimes, nerves can get the best of just about anyone.

Staind lead singer Aaron Lewis took the field to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the World Series game Sunday night, but unfortunately flubbed some of the lyrics, in a performance for which he later apologized.

This must have been some form of karma for Lewis, who in 2011 had criticized Christina Aguilera and Cindy Lauper for their mistakes while performing the song.

Lewis later apologized on his website and chalked the butchered lyrics up to nerves. "All I can say is I'm sorry and ask for the nation's forgiveness. My nerves got the best of me, and I am completely torn up about what happened," he wrote. "America is the greatest country in the world.

"'The Star-Spangled Banner' means so much to so many, including myself," he continued. "I hope everyone can understand the intensity of the situation and my true intent of this performance. I hope that the nation, Major League Baseball and the many fans of our national pastime can forgive me."

It’s not just celebrities who have struggled with the anthem. A poll that found two-thirds of Americans didn’t know the words of the song sparked a two-year “National Anthem Project” in 2005 to raise awareness.

Here is a list of others who have also infamously bungled “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Christina Aguilera, Super Bowl, 2011

Cyndi Lauper, U.S. Open, 2011

Keri Hilson, Lakers vs. Hawks, 2010

Michael Bolton, Boston's Fenway Park, 2003

Carl Lewis, NBA finals, 1993

Jesse McCartney, NASCAR event, 2009

Eli Young Band, Chiefs vs. Broncos, 2010

Luke Bryan, All-Star game, 2012

Alexis Normand, Hockey game in Saskatchewan, 2013

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Boo! Haunted Houses Fight for Frights as Tastes Change]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:48:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/INDIANS1.jpg

Zombies just don't cut it anymore.

Haunted house owners across the U.S. are pouncing on the latest trends in fear as they compete to stay atop an industry centered around a few weeks each year. Some of the country’s top fright sites are returning to classic scare tactics and revving up the shock factor as they compete for shrieks, thrills and a piece of the $1 billion in annual revenue the Haunted House Association says is generated by some 3,500 haunted houses, hayrides and mazes.

This year’s popular motifs include classic horror with a tinge of the supernatural, a theme that’s echoed by the fall release of a freak show-themed season of the popular television series "American Horror Stories.” Dr. Margee Kerr, a sociologist who studies trends in fear, says people are sentimental these days and are into old-fashioned 1930s and ‘40s horror.

“It’s kind of a nostalgic throwback to pre-Internet ages,” Kerr said. “It’s bringing back the vintage, antique feel to haunted houses.”

Still, a throwback to fears of years past alone won’t always cut it. Some haunted house operators are trying everything from 4-D special effects to shocks tailored to each visitor’s fears to keep customers screaming and coming back.

“It’s getting progressively harder to shock kids today,” said Ross Karpelman, co-founder of the House of Shock in New Orleans. “You can find things on YouTube that are really happening in the world and ten times more frightening.”

Turning fears into reality

Some look to science for help divining the latest scary features.

Kerr puts her sociology expertise to work for ScareHouse, a haunt in Pittsburgh. She pores over customer surveys from years past, looks over trends over time and even does her own physiological before-and-after studies, using EEG brain scans, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh.

“I’m looking at what neuroscientists and psychologists know about fear and using that to create an enjoyable experience,” Kerr said.

Zombies became big around 2009, a year before the wildly successful television show “The Walking Dead” premiered. They eventually peaked in 2011, and are now on the way out. Before that it was vampires. And now it’s that nostalgic look back at the old fashioned and legendary.

“One of the biggest themes I’ve seen this year is this sort of hearkening back to old times,” said Rebekah McKendry, the director of marketing at Fangoria Entertainment.

You can see the trend at Nightmare NYC, where this year’s theme is a look at the myths, legends and folklores of New York City.

When you enter Nightmare you’re immediately transported back to a time when Manhattan was called Manhatta and inhabited by the Lenape Indians. The old inhabitants chant amid fog and twisting vines.

According to Nightmare founder Tim Haskell's vision, the natives cursed the new inhabitants, thus unleashing all sorts of horrors on the city that are featured throughout the house: sewer alligators, subway dwellers, Typhoid Mary, the headless horseman, gargoyles, the rat king, Cropsey the child killer and the seedy criminal labyrinth of ‘70s New York City.

Nightmare has changed its theme every year, and like ScareHouse, asks for its customers input. Haskell says they did a take on vampires around the time “The Vampire Chronicles” and “Twilight” came out in 2009.

Of course, tuning into people’s fears and creating forms of entertainment that speak to those fears is not a new idea.

“The general trend across different societies has been to turn real life fears into monsters,” Kerr said. “Then we can fight and defeat them and bring some sense of control over things that are outside of our control.”

The roots of haunted houses

The art of the scare has ancient roots.

From the beginning, Greeks, Romans and other ancient civilizations created Gods to speak to their fears of an unforgiving world, according to Kerr. To bring these fears to life, they put on plays, spawning theatrical techniques still used in today’s haunts, like fog, fake blood and trapdoors.

As civilizations grew and people migrated, a fear of the elements transitioned into a fear of other people in the form of ghosts, demons and witches. Christians in the Middle Ages traveled from town to town, putting on plays and pageants to scare locals away from sin.

By the 1800s, industry was booming, and with it the fear of a rapidly unrecognizable world, one fueled by electricity and other mystifying inventions. This sparked a renewed interest in ghosts, spirits and the supernatural. People paid to watch magic shows, get their fortunes told and enter houses supposedly haunted by spirits.

The rise of the modern haunted house

The early 1900s saw the beginnings of the haunted attractions we know today, said McKendry, the Fangoria marketing director. At the notorious Theatre du Grand Guignol in Paris, audiences were shocked by gruesome plays. In 1915, Orton & Spooner concocted what may be the first, true haunt: a dimly lit funhouse, where floors shook and demonic screams roared from phonographs.

From there, the dark arts accelerated. All across the U.S., freak shows and carnivals drew crowds on autumn nights, capitalizing on the terrifying and bizarre. Dark rides carried passengers into a world inhabited by dangling bats and animatronic skeletons.

“I grew up in Brooklyn and I went to a bunch of cheesy ones at Coney Island,” said John Harlacher, a director at Nightmare Haunted House in New York City. “You sit in a little car and they just whip you around, and things pop up at you. It’s like, Ahhh!”

But it was Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion in Los Angeles, which opened in 1969, that raised the bar, influencing haunted attractions for years to come, McKendry said. The house used special effects, old and new, to create rooms alive with moving skeletons, witches and ghosts. 

“The Haunted Mansion really did pave the way for the modern, linear haunted house that we know and love today,” Kerr said.

Haunted houses become mainstream

In the 1970s, when haunts were usually at theme parks, a national charity organization based in St. Louis called the Jaycees began encouraging its younger members to raise money by turning vacant houses and lots into haunted attractions.

“Even today the owners of these huge haunted houses will tell you they first started in the ‘70s, creating ones for the Jaycees in their backyards,” McKendry said.

This do-it-yourself approach was popular in the 1970s and ‘80s, before the bigger outfits came along and regulations took hold of the industry in the ‘90s.


Steve Kopelman, a haunted house expert and a pioneer in the industry for over 30 years, says fears over trick-or-treating in the '80s made haunted houses even more popular.

“You had these stories about razor blades in apples and poisoned candy,” he said. “People were looking for another outlet to celebrate the holiday.”

Retailers helped fuel the haunted house craze too.

“They were looking to bridge the gap from back-to-school to Christmas, and they latched onto Halloween,” Kopelman said.

Haunts must evolve to survive

The increasing popularity of haunted houses made it possible for like-minded people to get together and put on a show.

Ross Karpelman and his friends started the House of Shock in New Orleans in his backyard. In a city known for its celebrations, House of Shock was more of a giant party between friends than a business when it first kicked off back in 1993.

From the beginning, the house embraced taboos -- devil worshipping, the occult and voodoo -- even as others in the industry warned that running such a controversial haunt wasn’t a viable business model.

“When we first started, it was sort of a ‘the devil has moved into your neighborhood’ type of thing,” said Karpelman.

The attraction still features satanic monsters, freak shows, live metal bands, an Ozzfest MC who lobs insults at the crowd, and people suspended from the ceiling by hooks pierced in their backs.

But 21 years later Karpelman's brand of “in-your-face, intense occult horror” just doesn’t scare people anymore, he said.

With sales down he and the other owners are deciding whether to revamp the house or shut it down all together.

Not just a house, an entire Saturday evening

It’s a different story over in Las Vegas, where hauntrepreneur Jason Egan runs the eclectic haunt Fright Dome.  

Like House of Shock, Fright Dome had humble beginnings. Egan starting putting on haunted houses when he was a teenager and eventually moved to Vegas, where he started a haunt in an old ballroom while working as a parking valet for MGM Grand casino.

Fright Dome, which opened in the Circus Circus casino in 2003, now packs six haunted houses, four "scare" zones and multiple other attractions and live shows into 250,000 "scare feet."

“I feel that ours is successful because there’s so much to do each night, it’s like a full night of terror,” he said.

Egan hands out surveys most nights to see what sorts of haunted houses people want to see.

That’s led to partnerships with major horror movies like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," which has a house at Fright Dome this year for the 40th anniversary of the classic slasher film. Other features include a "Killer Clown 4-D" haunted house described online as a "twisted play land" and the multisensory "Hyper Charged Zone," which boasts "interactive performers, hatching beats, visual laser displays and special effects that will spark your energy."

Egan said his business “keeps growing and growing,” with a Fright Dome location in Hong Kong and another opening in Boston next year.


Real houses for a real world

Over at Blackout in New York City, founders Josh Randall and Kristjan Thor are taking on a different approach: they’ve created a house that’s a blank canvas of sorts, one where each visitor’s individual fears are brought to life, not the other way around.

The pair have used their knowledge of theater to create a minimalist house that takes a psychological toll on visitors. Their latest approach is to cast people inside groups of visitors in a bid to pit those visitors against one another inside the house.

That route has allowed visitors to "create something of their own, which is inevitably going to be much worse than anything we could create for them,” Randall said.

The two opened a new Blackout location in Los Angeles this year.

The future of haunted houses

Kopelman, the veteran haunted house expert, believes houses will become more and more tailored to the fears of individual guests as the years go on.

He had patrons wear RFID tags a few years ago so that actors could follow them by name. It didn’t work out so well.

“The tech just wasn’t there yet, but I’m still convinced that the more personalized an experience gets, the more scary it will be,” he said.

He envisions a future where patrons are immediately singled out and targeted by a haunt’s actors. This means houses must have a heavy online and social media presence and really tap into consumers' personal frights.

Like other companies outside of the Halloween industry, haunted house owners will be interested in gathering as much information on patrons as they can: their names, their histories, and of course, their fears.

Good actors are what make a haunted house, but investing in technologies and additional entertainment is what keeps customers coming back, he said.

Photo Credit: Michael Blase via Lower East Photo
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<![CDATA[Robin Williams' Son Pitches to Billy Crystal]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 15:27:51 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/457911144.jpg

In a tribute to late actor and San Francisco Giants fan Robin Williams, his children, Zak, Zelda, and Cody Williams, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 5 of the World Series at AT&T Park.

Williams's longtime friend, Billy Crystal, caught the first pitch. Crystal also introduced a pregame video tribute to Williams on the video board.

Here's a statement from Williams' children.

"We are honored to be here in support of the tribute to our father, someone who loved his hometown and especially the Giants. For all of us, it is a tremendous delight and a little surreal to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of a World Series game for our team to our dad’s best friend. We could not think of a better way to celebrate his memory. Let’s go Giants!”

Williams committed suidice in August, investigators said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>