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Oprah reveals the real reason she resigned from WeightWatchers

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Oprah reveals the real reason she resigned from WeightWatchers

Oprah Winfrey has revealed why she left her nearly 10-year post as a WeightWatchers board member last month.

Her resignation was motivated by her work on an upcoming TV special on the rise of prescription weight-loss drugs, she said during a Thursday appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

“An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution” airs Monday on ABC and streams the next day on Hulu. During the broadcast, filmed in front of a live studio audience, the 70-year-old media mogul will sit down with medical experts and patients to discuss prescription weight-loss drugs, including Ozempic, Mounjaro and Wegovy.

“I decided that because this special was really important to me and I wanted to be able to talk about whatever I want to talk about, and WeightWatchers is now in the business of being a weight health company that also administers drug medications for weight, I did not want to have the appearance of any conflict of interest,” Winfrey told Kimmel.

Winfrey added that she donated her company shares to the National Museum of African American History and Culture “so nobody can say, ‘Oh, she’s doing that special, she’s making money.’”

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In December, Winfrey disclosed to People that she had been using an unspecified weight-loss drug in tandem with lifestyle changes to maintain a healthy weight.

“The fact that there’s a medically approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier, in my lifetime, feels like relief, like redemption, like a gift,” she said in the cover story. “I now use it as I feel I need it, as a tool to manage not yo-yoing.”

Up until then, Winfrey said she’d been tied to the idea that maintaining a healthy weight was a matter of sheer willpower.

She told Kimmel on Thursday that following double knee surgery in 2021, she promised God she would get in shape if he helped her walk again. She ate well, gritting her teeth as she slowly worked her way up from a few daily steps to a two-hour mile, she said.

“I felt like I had to do it my way, and had to prove that I could do it on my own even though I was hearing all along people talking about the medications,” she told the talk show host.

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Throughout her decades-long career, Winfrey said, “I’ve been in the storm of losing the weight, gaining it back, losing the weight, gaining it back. And what I realized when I listened to what the doctor said, that you are always going to put it back on, and it’s like holding your breath under water and trying not to rise. You are always going to rise.”

In addition to the science behind obesity, the special will address the granular details of prescription weight-loss medications: who they’re intended for, their short-term and long-term side effects and why nobody wants to talk about them.

“It is a very personal topic for me and for the hundreds of millions of people impacted around the globe who have for years struggled with weight and obesity,” Winfrey said in a statement about the prime-time event. “This special will bring together medical experts, leaders in the space and people in the day-to-day struggle to talk about health equity and obesity with the intention to ultimately release the shame, judgment and stigma surrounding weight.”

“For the first time in history, new drugs could prove to be the game changer to stem the tide of people living with obesity, an epidemic which has grown exponentially since the 1970s, costing $173 billion per year in medical costs in the United States alone,” the network said in the statement.

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Movie Reviews

Civil War Isn’t the Movie You Think It Is

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Civil War Isn’t the Movie You Think It Is

Kirsten Dunst and Cailee Spaeny in Civil War.
Photo: Murray Close /A24

Americans sure do love to see their institutions destroyed onscreen. I remember back when it was sorta-kinda news that audiences applauded and cheered as aliens blew up the White House in Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day (1996). Since then, it’s been standard operating practice for blockbusters, particularly the disaster-y ones, to incinerate or otherwise defile a monument or an iconic government building. (We took a brief recess after 9/11 — “too soon,” etc. — but went right back to it once the cultural all-clear sounded.) Maybe because our institutions were deemed so secure and unchanging for so long, the idea that they might be ravaged by aliens, meteors, zombies, or Dylan McDermott became a naughty fantasy we were eager to see played out onscreen, over and over and over again. A variation on this kind of chaos has become all too real over the past few years, with more than 40 percent of the country in a 2022 poll saying they think a civil war is likely within the next decade. I’m not entirely convinced that the constant barrage of apocalyptic destruction on our screens is unrelated. We’ve been spectators to the fantasy for so long that we’ve come to imagine we’re participants in it.

Here’s another truth about repeatedly indulging in our fantasies: We become desensitized to them. What makes Alex Garland’s Civil War so diabolically clever is the way that it both revels in and abhors our fascination with the idea of America as a battlefield. No real monuments get done blowed up real good in this one. The spectacle this time is coyer but somehow all-consuming. What’s being incinerated in Civil War is the American idea itself.

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The film is set in what appears to be the present, but in this version of the present a combination of strongman tactics and secessionist movements have fractured the United States into multiple armed, politically unspecified factions. The president (Nick Offerman), we’re told, has refused to give up power and is now serving his third term; he’s dissolved the FBI, bombed American cities, and made a point of killing journalists on sight, or so we’re told. California and Texas have joined forces and become something called the Western Front. There’s also the so-called Florida Alliance. Smoke rises from the cities; the highways are filled with walls of wrecked cars; suicide bombers dive into crowds lined up for water rations; death squads, snipers, and mass graves dot the countryside.

How we got here, or what these people are fighting over, is mostly meaningless to Kirsten Dunst’s Lee and Wagner Moura’s Joel, two war journalists making the treacherous drive from New York City to Washington, D.C., for an exclusive, probably dangerous interview with the beleaguered president. Tagging along for the ride in their van are Jessie, played by Cailee Spaeny, a young, inexperienced photographer who aspires to a career like Lee’s, and Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson), an aging reporter who wants to go to the front lines in Charlottesville. Lee is vexed by both their presences. Jessie’s too young, and Sammy’s too old. The blood-soaked highways of the divided states of America are no place for either of them.

The journalists covering this war gather in hotel bars, get drunk, and loudly yuk it up with the jacked-up bonhomie we might recognize from movies set in foreign lands like The Killing Fields, Under Fire, and Salvador. They’re mostly numb to the horrors they’re chronicling. After the young Jessie is scarred by an early run-in with a man who threatens to shoot two unarmed, tortured, barely alive captives, Lee tells her that it’s not their job to ask questions or get involved: “We take pictures so others can ask these questions.”

One of the reasons Lee is such a legend in her field is because she has grown a protective shell around herself. She wants to get the picture. That’s it. She’s protective of Jessie but only to the extent that the girl will slow them down or upend their plans. “Would you photograph that moment, if I got shot?” Jessie asks. “What do you think?” Lee responds, as if the answer is obviously yes. But we also understand that Lee bears the psychological scars of what she’s seen. At night, alone in her bath at a hotel, she covers her eyes and revisits the horrors she’s photographed all over the world. “I thought I was sending a message home: Don’t do this,” she says of her earlier work. “But here we are.” Garland can be clunky and obvious with his dialogue, but Dunst can also make just about any line sound true. Her face tells one story, her words tell another; together, they bring this conflicted woman to life.

The film embodies Lee’s traumatized numbness to a degree. Garland knows how to build suspense, and he depicts astonishing violence with the requisite horror, but he also moves his film along in playfully provocative ways. After one ghastly sequence in which guerrillas shoot a weeping soldier, the director cuts to a montage set to De La Soul’s “Say No Go,” a song about a horrific subject that adds a peppy beat to the grisly images onscreen. (I was reminded of the way Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket cut to the Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” right after a similar firefight.)

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Even the film’s episodic quality — it’s really just a ghastly travelogue through the war-torn Eastern Seaboard, with our protagonists confronted at each stop with some upsetting new incident — feels like a provocation. Part of shutting yourself off to such horrors involves being able to move past them, and Civil War, like its characters, glides past each monstrous vignette with unbothered brio. This can make the film feel weirdly weightless at times. Its characters are observers and nomads. If anything, they feel less invested in what they’re witnessing as the movie goes on.

Civil War’s lack of a political point of view, as well as its refusal to really identify the positions of its warring parties, has come in for some understandable criticism. But does any sane person really want a version of this film that attempts to spell out these people’s politics or, even worse, takes sides in its fictional conflict? (That sounds like it would be the worst movie ever made.) Garland does include flashes of real news footage from a variety of recent American disturbances, but he’s clearly done more research into media depictions of other countries’ war zones.

This is maybe his best idea, and why the film’s lack of political context feels more pointed than spineless: The conceit here is to depict Americans acting the way we’ve seen people act in other international conflicts, be it Vietnam or Lebanon or the former Yugoslavia or Iraq or Gaza or … well, the list goes on. In that sense, Civil War winds up becoming a movie about itself. Beyond the plausibility of war in the United States or the tragedy of such an eventuality, it’s about the way we refuse to let images from wars like this get to us. It’s more a call for reflection, an attempt to put us in the shoes of others, than a warning — not an It Can Happen Here movie, but a Here’s What It’s Like movie. It doesn’t want to make us feel so much as it wants us to ask why we don’t feel anything.

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TikTok (Taylor's version): Singer's music returns despite platform's dispute with label UMG

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TikTok (Taylor's version): Singer's music returns despite platform's dispute with label UMG

Swifties on TikTok can rejoice — for now.

It seems scores of songs from Taylor Swift’s catalog returned to the platform this week, just months after the singer’s label Universal Music Group threatened to pull its artists’ music over a licensing disagreement. The Times confirmed that hits from the Grammy winner’s “Midnights, “1989 (Taylor’s Version), “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Folklore” albums are among the snippets featured on her official TikTok page.

In a January open letter, UMG voiced several concerns about its licensing deal with TikTok, including the company’s proposed royalty rate for artists, TikTok’s content moderation and protections for musicians regarding AI-generated music.

“Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music,” UMG said in its letter.

TikTok countered the UMG letter, calling the label “self-serving” and alleging its actions were “not in the best interests of artists, songwriters and fans.”

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Neither representatives for UMG nor Swift immediately responded to The Times’ request for comment on Friday.

Word of Swift’s return to TikTok quickly spread on social media Thursday, as fans celebrated with .gifs, all-caps tweets and more on X (formerly Twitter).

“TAYLOR SWIFT SONGS ARE BACK ON TIKTOK??????,” one user tweeted Thursday.

While some Twitter users rejoiced in Swift’s TikTok comeback, others expressed concern over the other UMG artists whose catalogs remain off the app. Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo and Ariana Grande are among the UMG artists whose music easily went viral on TikTok — but their music is no longer on their profiles.

“The music is currently unavailable,” reads a notice on both Eilish and Rodrigo’s pages. On Grande’s page, only a minute-long snippet of her duet on Lizzo’s “Good as Hell” remains.

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Swift’s return to TikTok comes just before she releases her forthcoming album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” next week. At February’s 66th Grammy Awards, where she took home the coveted prize for album of the year, Swift announced that new music was underway.

“I want to say thank you to the fans by telling you a secret that I’ve been keeping from you for the last two years,” she said. “Which is that my brand new album comes out April 19.”

Since her reveal, Swift has doled out more information about “The Tortured Poets Department,” including her track list, featured artists and the album art.

Times staff writer Wendy Lee contributed to this report.

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DeAr Movie Review: A messy relationship drama that lacks depth in writing

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DeAr Movie Review: A messy relationship drama that lacks depth in writing

As an adult, all of the childhood punishments become instant life goals. Everything from eating healthy, to heading to bed early, becomes an activity we work hard to incorporate into our daily lives. GV Prakash’s Arjun is one such adult who safeguards his eight-hour sleep like a baby and he is a light sleeper who wakes up even when a pin drops. Aishwarya Rajesh’s Deepika is the exact opposite. They get married, move in together, and all hell breaks loose.

When the trailer of DeAr revealed that the film is about how chronic snoring creates a rift between newlyweds, there were instant comparisons with Manikandan’s Good Night, which was released last year. The difference here is that it is the wife who snores. Despite a brilliant premise in hand where multiple issues could be addressed, the film completely wastes this opportunity. Instead, we are given a film that lacks focus and holds onto too many emotions rather than exploring the central theme.

Cast: GV Prakash, Aishwarya Rajesh, Kaali Venkat, Thalaivasal Vijay, Ilavarasu, Rohini, Nandhini

Director: Anand Ravichandran

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