5 Celebrities Whose Side Projects Are Pure Yikes

Hey, you know how celebs are each really good at one thing? And they could just stick with it if they wanted? Ho ho, but they won't, you see. Because they see beyond their trade a whole world of other money they can get, or of other ... fringe benefits. Occasionally, it's something nice enough like Paul Newman giving the world lemonade, but a lot of the time, it's a celeb offering up a giant serving of shit fondue.

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5
Hannibal Buress Is A Crappy Landlord

Hannibal Buress seems like a nice kind of guy, based on his stand-up routines about liking apple juice and his occasionally having to point out, "Why are you booing me? I'm right!" So if you hear him in a podcast saying, "I got this building in Chicago, and there were tenants in it, and so I wanted to put the units on Airbnb, and so I asked all the tenants to leave" ... well, you'd hope he's joking. If he really did kick tenants out to flip apartments into Airbnb units, that would be pretty shitty, right? That landlord strategy screws renters over in every way and ends up ruining whole cities.

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But no, he's talking about something that really happened. And so, you might assume he's doing the other kind of joking -- he's telling a true story, and he wants you to laugh at his actions. Haha, aren't I an asshole? he seems to say, so maybe he did something greedy, but at least he's self-aware about it? Nope. When Hannibal tells this tale about what he did to his Chicago building in 2016, he makes himself out to be as kind as possible. He let the tenants stay the final two months for free, you see, and when one of them asked for an additional couple of weeks ... uh, Hannibal didn't give him those, but he did give him a couple extra days, generously.

He wanted to stay till May, but I cut him some slack and let him stay till Tuesday.
RISE/Wiki Commons "He wanted to stay till May, but I cut him some slack and let him stay till Tuesday."

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This tenant had a signed lease for another seven months, so staying another two weeks shouldn't have come down to the landlord's whim, but anyway, Hannibal next explains that when the new deadline came, the tenant hadn't left the apartment ready for remodeling at all. Okay, we say, so THIS is the story's punchline. The tenant painted on the walls in semen and filled balloons with pee and left a duffel of dead cats, and that's the joke here. Wrong again. The tenant had simply ... not moved out all his things. Because he hadn't found a place for them yet. GREATLY inconveniencing Hannibal.

Well, actually not at all personally inconveniencing Hannibal, who'd hired other people to see to the place, and who only knew about all this from photos they sent him. But it was enough to get him really mad. The tenant wrote an apology, and, "I just wrote back, 'Fuck you,'" Hannibal says, earning laughs from his listeners for the first time. "And then I ended up going back and forth, roasting my former tenant. He's a dirtbag, a real dirtbag."

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Right, what a dirtbag, getting tossed out of his home and also losing his belongings because he had no time to move them. You roast that jerk, Hannibal! Comedians usually aren't supposed to punch down, but that rule clearly doesn't apply here because being a landlord is serious business.

4
DJ Steve Aoki's Pizza Place Is In A Location That Pretends To Be 17+ Different Businesses

Steve Aoki is a DJ who has also started his own line of pizza. That's it, you can stop reading right now and move on. Even if there were nothing else to say about this particular venture, the jury has enough to issue a guilty verdict. DJ'ing is cool, pizza's the one food we can all agree on, but any attempt to link the two can only be cynical cross-promo madness. We eat pizza because it tastes good not because the chef has worked with LMFAO. How are you going to advertise pepperoni pizza using the sexy world of live dance music? Photos of a nude model caressing an untouched pie in bed?

Oh.pizzaoki/Instagram Oh.

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So, when we heard Aoki was making pizza with "lit herb infused dough," we didn't get super excited or rush out to try it. We left that to other people, who ordered from the delivery-only location at 444 N La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles. And those other people, scrolling through their delivery app, noticed that Aoki's wasn't the only pizza place said to be at 444 N La Cienega Boulevard. There was also a place called "Thick & Tasty." And another called "Gabriella's New York City Pizza." And "Froman's Chicago Deep Dish Pizza," which sounds an awful lot like a sly Ferris Bueller reference meaning, "Haha, we are frauds."

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Let's offer the most charitable explanation for what's going on here. If restaurants are delivery-only, they don't need to carve out a whole lot of space for tables and stuff, so it makes sense for multiple restaurants to share a location, make the whole thing kitchens, and scale up. Cool, cool. But then people thought to give the place a visit, and they reported seeing just two guys working there alone, surrounded by boxes with different labels. Phone, and they won't know which restaurant to identify themselves as. Sometimes, you'll order from one restaurant, and they'll send you the pizza in the wrong box.

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Why would one place pretend to be a dozen different restaurants? Aoki's people say this system lets them sell a bunch of different kinds of pizzas under different menus. But since one restaurant could do that just fine, and since reviews on these pizzas are less than stellar, here's the conspiracy theory: They keep coming up with new names so when one gets a bad rep, they can just drop it and replace it with another. Which has to be an odds with Aoki's personal goal here, since he's all about branding.

Though, I could have called it 'A-OK Pizza.' Real missed opportunity there.
Collision Conf/Wiki Commons "Though, I could have called it 'A-OK Pizza.' Real missed opportunity there."

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But also: Hey, did you know Steve Aoki's dad founded Benihana? Maybe this is all just a sad Act 2 detour in the Aoki biopic, about a son pressured into following in his restauranteur father's footsteps, when he's really born to flip records, not pizzas.

3
James Franco's Creepy Student Movies

James Franco learned acting at an acting school, which we suppose is the best place for that. He went on to teach at this same acting school, and then he opened an acting school of his own, called Studio 4. The appeal of this specific school, of course, was that it was run by James Franco, but also that enrolling gave you a chance to be picked to act in James Franco's personal film projects. So, in hopes of appearing in a Franco project, you'd pay $2,000 for each of several acting classes, and perhaps $750 for a special sex scene class that we're not making up.

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To be clear, this stuff so far is not the misconduct Franco's accused of. We'll get to the misconduct in a moment. But you don't need any kind of further allegations to think there's something off about students having to pay Franco for the chance to maybe one day work for him. In terms of how you hard you get screwed, this is even worse than being an intern. In fact, we don't know whether it's a good or bad thing that most students who enrolled in the hopes of working for Franco never ended up getting to do so. Those who did, they ended up in films that never got significant releases, and they mostly seemed to be young women hired to get nude to play prostitutes or join in orgies.

We have no footage of his films, so here's Franco in porn drama <i>The Deuce</i>.
HBO We have no footage of his films, so here's Franco in porn drama The Deuce.

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Which brings us to the allegations. So, paying to get naked for James Franco isn't very fun. But getting coerced into doing so is worse, and that what some of his students said happened. Plus, if some of these shoots involved no script and the footage was never released anywhere, it sounds like these sessions of women exposing their breasts and wearing animal skulls while dancing around James Franco weren't so much film projects as recordings for James Franco's private sexual adventure library.

Then come the allegations which send lawyers flipping past "misconduct" and fearfully checking for the precise legal definition of assault. During sex scenes, participants are supposed to wear plastic guarding to keep their genitals from touching anything, but Franco's students said he removed theirs and plowed on anyway.

We have no footage of his films, so here's Franco as Hugh Hefner in <i>Lovelace</i>.
Nu Image We have no footage of his films, so here's Franco as Hugh Hefner in Lovelace.

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Franco is starting to sound exactly like the director who forced unprofessional sex scenes on an actress in The Disaster Artist, a director played by James Franco. Which his lawyers, when denying the allegations, would surely use to argue that the women are just making the whole thing up, but hey, wasn't Franco also preying on students in Palo Alto, which was based on his own book? And in Spring Breakers, and weren't these his three best roles? We'd almost say this pattern means something, but then again, he also starred in three different movies where his goal was to find the true identity of Spider-Man.

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2
Jeremy Renner's Jeep Ads Inexplicably Celebrate The Concerts Of Jeremy Renner

We are not here today to mock Jeremy Renner's voice. Some people may like it. There's no accounting for taste. What we do find ourselves unable to resist mocking, however, is his constant attempts to get people to follow his music career using every method other than simply putting the music out there, which he presumably already tried to no effect. We've mocked him for this before, and then again, and yet again, but how could we miss telling you about the time Jeremy Renner thought his music was capable of synergy with the American auto industry?

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When celebs endorse something, the message is usually a pretty straightforward "you like this celeb, and here they are using this product." When the time came for Jeremy Renner to endorse Jeep, he unfortunately took it a step further and used it to cross-promote his own music. Therefore, the ads feature many people thrilled to listen to Jeremy Renner's music, which is fantasy beyond anything advertising has hitherto dared create.

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In this first ad, Jeremy Renner is in a diner, and he gets an arriving couple to switch rides with him -- his tour bus for their jeep. As a result, they never get a chance to actually enter the restaurant and eat their meal. In the end, they all arrive at the same place (a Jeremy Renner concert). But first, in the jeep, he tunes the radio to listen to his own music, which is vain, and he takes the vehicle off-road and drives through a river, which is inconsiderate. Also, he gets out and kicks at some sand, so maybe he never liked driving the jeep after all.

The next ad could be even weirder. Jeremy Renner is in a tux at a party, then he ditches it and gets into a Jeep -- but since it's valet parking and he seems to stealth his way past the valets and doesn't collect the keys, maybe he's stealing the Jeep. Once again, he tunes the sound system to play his own music. He arrives at the same concert as in the other ad. This creates a serious time paradox if we're trying to figure out which method he used to get there.

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If we isolate this ad from the greater Renner Cinematic Jeepiverse, we can ignore the questionable chronology and just allow the theme to shine. We see Jeremy Renner abandon his formal engagement for something impromptu. But hold on, dammit -- the place he's going to was the event he was already booked to play. Jeremy, you didn't loosen your tie because you wanted the freedom of Jeep travel, you liar. You just had to leave because you had an appointment. Though, you did book another party for earlier the same night because even Jeremy Renner can't attach that much importance to a Jeremy Renner concert.

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1
Sean Penn's Shitty Forays Into Journalism

If you hear that someone is a journalist, and as proof of their chops, they say they scored interviews with such hard-to-reach figures as Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro, you might be pretty impressed. But "landing an interview" shouldn't be considered the same honor when you yourself are a famous celebrity, and the interview subject really just wants to meet you. And when the subject has a bunch of crimes on their record, their willingness you talk to you might be nothing to take pride in. Maybe they picked you over anyone else because you aren't a real newsperson, so they fear your questions the least.

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We're not talking hypotheticals here. We're talking about Sean Penn, who did interview Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro and then had his greatest journalistic triumph when he spoke to El Chapo for Rolling Stone. Penn arranged the interview by accompanying an actress who visited El Chapo to discuss maybe making a movie about him. El Chapo, in case you've forgotten, is the Mexican drug lord who personally claimed to have murdered over 2,000 people, while government estimates of his victims (via his cartel) run closer to 34,000.

Penn gave the drug lord full rights to approve or disapprove the final copy of the interview. That's not unheard of when you want to, say, make sure you're quoting an expert accurately, but that's not exactly a courtesy you should afford such a high-profile criminal. The interview in fact ended up being a straight PR piece for El Chapo because even when it described his atrocities, it did so just as he wanted it to. Analysts who read over the piece concluded that, hey, this totally is journalism. Celebrity journalism. This is a celeb profile, one that happens to be written by a fellow celeb, about a guy who really shouldn't get to dictate his own puff piece.

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It wasn't altogether something to be proud of -- not according to the journalists who'd have preferred an interview holding El Chapo accountable for, say, all the journalists he'd murdered. And yet the interview did lead to him being held accountable because the meeting actually led to El Chapo's capture. Oh, not intentionally on Sean Penn's part. But authorities used Penn's cell phone communications to track El Chapo down. So, journalist Penn failed to indict his subject via journalism, and he also inadvertently betrayed him in just the way a journalist shouldn't. Good job, Sean, you're a double failure.

Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for other stuff no one should see.


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