- - Monday, February 27, 2012

Billy Crystal-led Oscar telecast sees 4 percent ratings bump

Ratings for the Academy Awards are up 4 percent over last year in a preliminary Nielsen measurement.

The ratings company said Monday that the Oscars had a 25.5 rating and 38 share in the show’s overnight count of the nation’s 56 largest media markets, according to the Associated Press. Nielsen’s estimate of how many people watched the telecast nationally was expected out later Monday.

Although best picture winner “The Artist” wasn’t a big box-office draw, the Oscars may have been helped by the return of host Billy Crystal.

Each rating point represents 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The 38 share means that 38 percent of TVs being watched during the telecast were tuned to the Oscars.

Singer Levine finds ‘Voice’ beyond his band, Maroon 5

From moving like Mick Jagger to dating Russian model Anne Vyalitsyna, Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine hasn’t had problems attracting women in recent years.

In an Associated Press interview, the 32-year-old said that even though he was a “nerdy” musician in high school, he still always had luck with the ladies.

“I loved hanging out with girls. … It was never an issue, how about that? And, of course, it’s been magnified times a thousand with this whole [fame] thing that’s happened, so it’s kind of crazy,” he said, laughing.

Besides his music career, Mr. Levine has found success as one of the celebrity coaches on NBC’s singing competition show “The Voice” alongside Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green.

One of Mr. Levine’s contestants, Javier Colon, won the show’s first season, but not everyone thought it was a good idea for Mr. Levine to join the program.

“A musician’s life is constantly filled with people saying, ‘Why are you doing this?’ ” he said. “I’m a fan of people saying that because it must mean I’m doing something right. I’ve never been a fan of the cookie-cutter way of life. I liked that this was spiking something new into what I do.”

Despite Mr. Levine’s success so far on the show, he said he doesn’t really have a strategy when it comes to staying ahead of the other judges.

“I don’t really strategize as much as I want the right people to sing the right songs the right way and to have the right moment to hopefully increase their chances of moving forward because that’s my job on the show,” he said. “I’m there to help people be fully realized and have people see the best versions of who they are.”

Latina chefs providing TV’s new face in cooking

A decade after Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez helped Latin music explode into the mainstream, Latina chefs are doing the same for food.

From Food Network’s Marcela Valladolid and Evette Rios on ABC’s “The Chew” to uber-restaurateur Michelle Bernstein and cookbook author Lourdes Castro, these senoritas are proving to be the new face in cooking - especially on television.

The stereotype of Latina mothers living in the kitchen makes sense to these chefs.

“We all grew up around mom in the kitchen, that’s just how it was,” said Ms. Bernstein, who is of Latin and Jewish descent and runs Sra. Martinez and Michy’s restaurants in Miami. “And maybe that just better represents what Latin food is, coming from the momma.”

“It speaks to Latinas,” said Lisa Navarrete, a spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization based in the District. “You have a lot of talented women, very personable, very telegenic, who are also great cooks.”

Like music, food is a gateway to people learning about another culture, she said. And in this case, one that is expanding. Hispanics are the fastest growing population in the country, accounting for 50 million people, or 1 in 6 Americans.

Also fueling the rise of Latina chefs is the fact that Latin cuisine is no longer considered “exotic” or difficult to cook. More people today are comfortable cooking at home with ingredients such as jalapenos and cilantro, or marinating meats with Cuban mojo or chimichurri.

“Latin cooking is probably becoming more mainstream than it has been in the past,” said Ms. Castro, who was born in Miami to Cuban parents. “And women in particular are being focused on more since people want to know what to do with these ingredients.”

That’s because women traditionally cook the family meals in the Latin community, she said.

Ms. Rios is of Puerto Rican descent. She’s a self-taught cook who defines “perfectly Latina” as a woman who can do more than cook: She shows you how to make a cocktail or a dessert, as well.

“I feel like it’s a very Latin thing,” she said. “Women in general do this, but I feel Latin women are just much more involved in everything.”

Police investigating death of ‘Amazing Race’ producer

Police in Uganda say they are poised to arrest a South African woman who survived after ingesting the contaminated cocaine that killed a U.S. freelance television producer for the show “Amazing Race.”

Police spokesman Asuman Mugyenyi said Monday that Kathryn Fuller, who is still in the hospital, is being treated as a witness and suspect.

Producer Jeff Rice was found dead Feb. 18 on the balcony of the hotel room he shared with Ms. Fuller. She was found unconscious on the floor near Rice. A forensic investigation found that Rice died of a drug overdose.

The case has alerted Ugandan officials to the possibility that Uganda is becoming a “consumption destination,” a location where adventurers and addicts can consume illicit drugs with little risk of police detection.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.

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