The Arts on the arts and entertainment

By Amy Shaunette and Peter Valelly

America’s Next Top Model,” sociopolitical vehicleThis season, “America’s Next Top Model” featured an unusual competitor. 21-year-old Heather Kuzmich, who made it to the top five before elimination last week, has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism that causes intense social awkwardness, difficulty focusing on more than one thing and a lack of general social skills.and apparently, ridiculously good looks. Heather, a gangly brunette with piercing brown eyes and long, flowing hair, struggled to fit in with her fellow wannabe models while amazing judges weekly with flawless photos. Now, she’s using her reality TV fame to raise awareness of Asperger’s, as told to the New York Times, which recently ran an article about Heather in its Health section. Previously, host Tyra Banks made it clear that cycle nine of ANTM would be smoking-free, kicking the season off with a photo shoot in which the models were costumed as the horrors of smoking-yellow teeth, brittle hair, coarse skin. But now, ANTM is championing mental disorders (they have to, since Tyra’s gone batty). We suppose it’s only fitting for the producers to have a social conscience about something, what with all the eating disorder promotion and all. Props to Heather, the first science-fiction reading, dragon-worshipping autistic model.

George Bush, friends to all homosexuals..or just the famous ones?

Jenna Bush, hottie first daughter, went on “Ellen” and phoned the White House to say hello to Daddy and Mommy Bush. Ellen DeGeneres chirped, “Hi, President Bush, how are you?,” the President said hello, and the crowd cheered. What? What kind of audience goes on “Ellen” for a day of talk show fun with America’s favorite lesbian; then cheers wildly for President Bush?

R.I.P. Pimp C

On Tuesday, December 4th, Texas rapper-producer Pimp C was found dead of natural causes in a hotel room in Los Angeles at age 33. Born Chad Butler, he was known for his production prowess and had a brief solo career, but his primary claim to fame was as half of the Port Arthur, Texas duo UGK (short for Underground Kingz). While UGK were never as much in the limelight as when they were featured on Jay-Z’s classic 2000 single “Big Pimpin’,” they were legends widely regarded as one of the finest rap groups ever to emerge from the Dirty South, often touted as that region’s greatest currently active hip-hop outfit. The group, which also featured the fantastic rapper Bun-B, released their fifth superb studio album this year, the double-disc “Underground Kingz.” While the group’s 1996 classic “Ridin’ Dirty” is generally revered as their definitive statement, the new album was easily one of the year’s greatest hip-hop records, its only competition being Prodigy’s glorious comeback record “Return of the Mac.” The album, all soulful hooks and muscularly rhythmic Southern-style beats, was a triumphant comeback for a group who had faced rough times in recent years. Their previous album, 2001’s “Dirty Money,” had been thoroughly delayed by record label politics, and Pimp C himself spent three years in prison starting in 2002. In addition to providing many of the most memorable beats for his group and others over the years, Pimp C was also one of the most thoughtful rappers in the business, as any interview with him will attest. He will be missed.