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DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend got a hair weave, and it looks a hot mess.

Seriously, the hair is a terrible texture that looks fake, and the look is completely unrealistic. The hair goes halfway down her back. Last month, she was sporting a closely cropped natural.

It might be fine if she acted like it’s a wig, but she is pretending like the look is normal, like the hair just grew straight out of her head.

I’m not sure how I should react to her. The weave is so obvious. If she just admitted she was having fun and playing with hair, it might be easier to accept. Right now, it just seems like a bad idea.

Can I say something to her?

Bad Hair

DEAR BAD HAIR: What difference does it really make if she is having a bad hair moment? Unless it is affecting her livelihood in some way, just let her be.

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If she asks you what you think of her hair, whatever state it may be in, that’s when you can ask her about her hair concept, why she’s changing so dramatically from moment to moment and where she’s headed next. You can also tell her the truth — from your perspective. If you don’t like it, tactfully say why.

But remember that it’s her hair, and she has the right to do whatever she wants with it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend recently told me that she has a girlfriend. A few months ago, she was dating a guy. I don’t really care, but it is confusing for me to keep up with her romantic life, and she really wants me to.

I told her that I don’t care who she dates as long as she is happy. What I’m having a problem with is getting her to believe that I am telling the truth.

I think she doesn’t believe me because her family is really judgmental. They got mad when they learned that she was dating a girl from our school, and they were equally elated back when she started dating a guy. Never mind that the girl was much nicer to her than the guy. It was only because he was male that they decided to be nice to him.

How can I support my friend and stand up for her when even her family is judging her based on her private choices?

Being an Ally

DEAR BEING AN ALLY: Be a good listener to your friend. Ask her what she’s thinking and feeling and what she wants for her life right now.

What is being touted as a common characteristic of this current generation is that many people are fluid. WebMD defines sexual fluidity based on three aspects of sexuality: sexual orientation, or the pattern of your sexual attraction and preference; sexual identity, or the way you define yourself with respect to your orientation; and sexual behavior, or the sexual activity that you take part in.

Wherever your friend stands with her sexual identity, she has a right to it. It may be difficult for her parents to keep up and to understand based on their own value systems and the way that they grew up. Remind your friend that the process of blossoming into herself may require growing pains on her parents’ part. Perhaps she can muster up some compassion for them during her journey.

A helpful article about supporting teens who are questioning their sexual identity is

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Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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Author William Doyle on New Book Spotlighting Sen. Orrin Hatchs Standout Nonpartisan Legislation

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Tooning Out The News Showrunner RJ Fried Dishes on What to Expect This Season and Why Animated Anchors are the Best People to Deliver Bad News

The cartoon anchors of Stephen Colbert’s hit satire Tooning Out the News will be back on air, parodying top news stories on Thursday, October 5.

The series, which features a cast of hilarious cartoon hosts, has landed interviews some of the biggest names in media and politics since it debuted March 2020. Daily episodes of Tooning Out the News mimic typical cable news shows, featuring the day’s top headlines at the top of the show and later a guest segment where the cartoon anchors can delve deeper into issues with a comedic spin.

RJ Fried, Tooning Out’s showrunner and executive producer — who also voices lead anchor James Smartwood — recognizes that the magic of the series lies in its animation, which he considers their “special tool.”

Delivering the news in a cartoon world has allowed the series’ anchors to confront their guests on difficult topics, holding them accountable with little worry about the health of their own access or careers.

“Much like South Park or Sacha Baron Cohen’s characters, we can tackle these issues in a way that is still palatable to the audience,” Fried told Mediaite in a recent interview. “There’s sometimes something about a human face that makes something a little too visceral. We feel like we just have a great tool here to tackle the way our politics are right now, which is pretty intense.”

I spoke with Fried about the major changes ahead of Season 3, such as the inclusion of real-life contributors, the departure of Chris Licht to CNN, which interviews he’s looking forward to, midterm election plans, and what he wants viewers to take away from the show.

Tooning Out the News is moving from Paramount+ to Comedy Central and will air after The Daily Show. Can you talk a bit about that switch-up? How do you think your show will be impacted by moving to cable?

We have such reverence for that timeslot, we’re so excited too. It’s one thing we kind of always knew — that the audience for these types of shows is watching late-night on Comedy Central.

So, we are so grateful to [Paramount executives] Chris McCarthy, Grant Gish, and his team for embracing that and putting us there. It’s a huge honor and it’s also not lost on the us that it’s the real estate that The Colbert Report used to occupy. And also, linear television is topical and so it feels like the right place for this show to be.

The series animators recently voted to join the Animation Guild. What are your thoughts on that vote to unionize?

It’s exciting. I spoke with the EPs last night and we’re union people. I’m in the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, so is Stephen Colbert.

Our series fights for people’s and workers’ rights. In that spirit, it was something we did want to support, and so we released that statement last night.

We see up close how hard those animation workers work. They’re incredible, they’re talented, and yes, of course, we stand in solidarity with them.

You’ve lost a pretty big name over at CBS with Chris Licht going to CNN. He was an executive producer of Tooning Out as well as of the Late Show. Did you face any challenges or changes that came with Licht’s departure?

I’m just excited to be able to rib our old friend Chris Licht.

Obviously, there are a lot of changes happening at CNN. He is a great friend of ours and we admire him deeply. That said, we cannot pull our punches and that includes CNN.

So, Chris, we love you, but don’t think you’re off the hook.

Do you anticipate any interviews from this season going viral, like the Rick Wilson interview from Season 1?

We’ll see what happens, but all I will say is that our show takes great pride in being nonpartisan and honestly trying to do the news better than the news.

Part of that effort is to make sure that we are holding the powerful to account. If we see something, we want to say something, and we have an extremely talented research team here. They’re journalists, first and foremost. They know how to file FOIAs. They know how to look through fundraising reports.

You can’t make fun of the news unless you try to do it better, and so that’s something that I’m sure we will continue to do this season. We have some fun things planned.

I don’t want to scare any guests away — we have some amazing guests coming on the show. We will have Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in the first episode, Senator Cory Booker is going to be in the second episode, and then down the line, there is Congresswoman Cori Bush, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and Bob Woodward. We just also booked Van Jones, George R.R. Martin, and Huma Abedin as well, so it’s going to be an awesome season.

In addition to new guests, you’re including a roster of actual living contributors this season, such as Major Garrett and Margaret Hoover. What was the thought process behind that?

This is the first season of Tooning Out the News in which we have real-life, breathing contributors. It’s something that the cable news networks do and we have always wanted to do, and we are so thrilled to have them.

The thought process is, typically in the first block of cable news, they have their regular contributors to go to and they have a rapport with them and the audience is familiar with them. That’s something we wanted to replicate, so we picked four people who are just excellent and can cover every single story. And they have a sense of humor.

We love the idea of them developing rapport with the animated characters. That is a huge thrill for us. Last season we had a report with Weijia Jiang from the White House lawn. It just looked incredible and we need more of that.

What are your plans for midterm election coverage?

We’re going to have our special election coverage, and there are certain things we can anticipate, but that show is going to be written in the three hours before we record it.

We get our main hosts together, just like cable news does. We’ll tape at 11 p.m. to have an animated show out the door the next day. There’s nothing like it on TV — turning around this much animation this quickly. We really want the audience to feel that immediacy. We’re writing this stuff right up until we record and it’s being animated right up until delivery. It’s a super exciting show to produce.

I worked at MSNBC for a couple of years and got to see it up close and people on our staff used to work for cable news. Something is lost, and the audience can feel it, if it is overly planned. It just doesn’t feel like the news and the comedy gets lost. Yes, we’ll have election coverage. What’s going to be on that show? I’m not sure. I won’t know until the night before, which I think is exciting and the best way to produce this kind of show.

What do you want your viewers to take away from this season?

One thing we have taken pride in and will continue to take pride in this season is just having a show with a lot of courage. Just the way the news is right now, I do think there is an opening for a show like that. And I’m just really proud of our writers and our performers who continue to bring really great, edgy, and also in a weird way, hopeful comedy out there.

I will say the one thing about this show that is so exciting in a moment like this is that our news landscape is just dark. It just really is, and there’s a lot of contention and there are a lot of serious problems.

We feel like we have such a special tool here at our disposal with these animated characters. Much like South Park or Sacha Baron Cohen’s characters, we can tackle these issues in a way that is still palatable to the audience. There’s sometimes something about a human face that makes something a little too visceral.

A lot of our issues, they’re the symptom of larger problems in our system, and those are just always going to be there. Just because Donald Trump is not in office doesn’t mean that there are no problems anymore. There are huge problems that allow a leader like that to thrive, and that’s on both sides of the aisle.

We have a hard rule in our writers’ room: we’re not making jokes about Trump’s hair. That’s not the problem. The real problem is these underlying structural issues within our institutions. And that’s something we’ll absolutely try to always bring to the surface.

Any other big changes this season?

I should note that there is a big redesign of Big News this season. Big News is coming back with a different look, and it may or may not have some similarities to CNN programming. Smartwood’s got glasses this season. That’s a big change.

This season will also have a podcast that will be available wherever you get your podcast on the night of the show. It’s going to make sure that people who missed the show can get everything they missed, but it will have its own spin on it as well.

Watch the trailer for the new season of Tooning Out the News above, via Comedy Central.

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