Sunday, January 21, 2007

Citigroup to Acquire ABN AMRO Mortgage Group

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Citigroup announced today that it will acquire ABN AMRO Mortgage Group (AAMG), a national originator and servicer of prime residential mortgage loans. Citigroup will purchase approximately $9 billion in net assets and ABN AMRO Mortgage Groups approximately $224 billion mortgage servicing portfolio. ABN AMRO Mortgage Groups primary originations business is via wholesale lending under the InterFirst brand. ABN AMRO Mortgage Group is a subsidiary of LaSalle Bank Corporation and ABN AMRO Bank N.V. and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Carl Levinson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Citigroups Consumer Lending Group, said, "The acquisition of ABN AMRO Mortgage Group demonstrates our commitment to grow our consumer lending business in the U.S. As a best-in-class provider and servicer of residential mortgages, we will be able to provide ABN AMRO Mortgage Groups customers with an expanded suite of products while increasing our distribution channels in new and existing markets.

The acquisition of ABN AMRO Mortgage Group will add approximately 1.5 million servicing customers to CitiMortgage, Inc.s portfolio as well as 2,500 wholesale brokers to its wholesale lending business. When combined with CitiMortgages strong market presence, the combined company will move from number five to number four in mortgage loan servicing and strengthen CitiMortgages number three market position in originations, based on third quarter 2006 numbers.

"This compelling transaction will enable us to serve more customers better and will allow us to deliver greater efficiencies through combined product, service and leading-edge technology platforms," said Bill Beckmann, President of CitiMortgage. "ABN AMRO Mortgage Group has a leading wholesale originations franchise, a strong and active broker network and an excellent loan servicing business, which will complement our continued growth in all channels -- Retail, Correspondent and Wholesale. We look forward to delivering a wide array of outstanding products and services to brokers, allowing them to significantly expand their offerings to customers."

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2007 and is subject to customary regulatory filings and approvals.

Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, CitiMortgage, Inc. specializes in the nationwide lending of residential home mortgages through Retail, Wholesale, and Correspondent loan origination channels.

Citigroup, the leading global financial services company, has some 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 100 countries, providing consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, and wealth management. Major brand names under Citigroup's trademark red umbrella include Citibank, CitiFinancial, Primerica, Smith Barney and Banamex. Additional information may be found at

Certain statements in this document are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. These statements are based on managements current expectations and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Actual results may differ materially from those included in these statements due to a variety of factors. More information about these factors is contained in Citigroups filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Celebrating Celebrity Baby Birthdays - Zahara Jolie-Pitt

Happy Birthday Zahara! You are now 2 years old!
Name: Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt
Birthday: January 8th, 2005
Famous for:
Being the first daughter of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Jolie and Pitt traveled to Ethiopia in July 2005 and returned with Zahara.
Zahara was welcomed by older brother, Maddox, 5 1/2, from Cambodia and then they all welcomed Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt last May in Namibia.
Famous relatives:
Angelina is a celebrity baby herself, being the daughter of actors Marcheline Bertrand and Jon Voight. Her brother James Haven is also an actor. On Pitt's side of the family, his brother Doug, has also acted

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Top 5 Crazy Angelina Jolie Moments

Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the crazy world of scandalous behavior. While she may have taken on the new role of adoptive mother and ultra humanitarian, she wasn't always so demure.She may be a charity loving mother of three now, but Angelina has definitely been known to come up with a few crazy ideas of her own. Read on to find out all the juicy details of her wacky behavior.
1) Gothic WritingAngelina met costar Jonny Lee Miller on the set of the movie Hackers. They were married in 1996 and at the ceremony, she had his name scrawled in blood on her white shirt.2) Brotherly LoveIn 2000, Angelina won an Oscar for her role in Girl Interrupted. In her speech, she declared "I am so in love with my brother right now!" She followed that statement by exchanging a long kiss on the mouth with that very same brother.3) Vials of BloodWhen she met Billy Bob Thornton on the set of Pushing Tin, Angelina was smitten. They had a quick wedding in Vegas where both the bride and groom wore jeans. Soon after, they were seen wearing vials of each other's blood around their necks.4) Thai BlessingsIn 2004, after numerous visits to countries including Thailand, Angelina became inspired by some artwork. That artwork appeared in the form of a huge tattoo on her back depicting a tiger. The foot long piece of work reportedly carries a Thai blessing of wealth and power.5) The Sky's the LimitApparently commercial air travel just doesn't hold enough excitement for Angelina. She decided to go full throttle into taking flying lessons and became a licensed pilot. She now flies in her Cirrus SR22 with her beau Brad Pitt, who has started taking flying lessons of his own.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Longoria's Hairstyle Tops Celebrity List

A U.S. survey commissioned by Sally Beauty found that most people said "Desperate Housewives" celebrity star Eva Longoria had the year's best celebrity hairstyle.

A release from the beauty supplies company said that its 2006 Sally Beauty Best Tressed Survey of 1,107 people found Longoria beat out singer Beyonce Knowles for the top female spot on its best hairstyle list.

On the male side, celebrity George Clooney edged out fellow film star and celebrity Matthew McConaughey for the best hairstyle honor.

Meanwhile on the opposite end of the style spectrum, Hole lead singer Courtney Love and real estate mogul and "The Apprentice" host Donald Trump were each recognized for their unstylish locks in 2006.

Film stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's adopted son, Maddox Jolie-Pitt, received the most votes for his stylish children's hairstyles.

Another unusual category winner was shaved action film celebrity star Vin Diesel, whose lack of hair earned him its 2006 sexiest bald celebrity honor.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Nick Lachey Brings Girlfriend to Tears

Celebrity Pop star Nick Lachey had his celebrity girlfriend Vanessa Minnillo in tears as the romantic celebrity couple celebrated the New Year in New York on Sunday night (31DEC06) and Monday morning (01JAN07).Lachey whispered something into his MTV presenter lover's ear as she prepared for the Times Square countdown, leaving her sobbing happily.But Minnillo is playing down reports her tears of joy came after her boyfriend proposed. She says, "Everyone that is important in my life is here. I literally choked up."Reports the couple celebity are planning a 2007 wedding circulated towards the end of 2006.Lachey's ex-wife celebrity Jessica Simpson also saw in 2007 in New York - she was spotted partying with reported boyfriend John Mayer at Christina Aguilera's New Year's Eve party at the Hudson Hotel.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Goody tipped for Celebrity Big Brother

Former 'Big Brother' star and a celebrity Jade Goody has been tipped to make a return to the house as a contestant on the next series of 'Celebrity Big Brother'.
According to The Sun, the 25-year-old reality television star has signed up to appear in the show, which begins tomorrow.
The report suggests that Goody will enter the house a few days after the other contestants, bringing members of her family into the house with her.
Goody came to public attention during her time as a housemate on the third series of 'Big Brother', where she became renowned for her gaffes and silly remarks.
A spokesperson for 'Big Brother' refused to confirm the reports, saying: "As always, there has been speculation ahead of the show, which we will neither confirm nor deny. Viewers will have to tune in on Wednesday."

Monday, January 1, 2007

Focusing on celebrities, real and not

Photographer Annie Leibovitz has contributed so many indelible images to American popular culture in the last four decades it's hard to know exactly where to begin cataloguing them: A naked, extremely pregnant celebrity Demi Moore; celebrity Whoopi Goldberg erupting from a shock-white bath of milk; celebrity Mick Jagger literally soaring into the spotlight onstage; then Keith Richards a celebrity collapsed into a heroin-laced heap somewhere backstage.

These are pictures a lot of us can see with our eyes closed. What we don't recognize, perhaps, is what the images reveal about our own fantasies about celebrities. Or how the media allows ordinary people to project their own dreams and fears onto the glamorous faces that tend to decorate magazine covers.

This idea looms just beneath the surface of celebrity "Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens," the fascinating documentary that airs on KOPB (10) at 9 p.m. Wednesday night. It also fuels much of the action in "Dirt," albeit in more awkward, less-satisfying ways. Ultimately, FX's new drama stumbles over its own mixed emotions: For all of its disdain for celebrity media, it can't help kneeling before the same shiny altar it purports to disdain.

Set in modern Hollywood, "Dirt" stars Courteney Cox ("Friends") as Lucy Spiller, the powerful editor of two celebrity-obsessed magazines. The respectable title is Now, a People-like chronicle of beauty and success. But the real action takes place between the covers of Dirt, which trolls the down-low for seamy tales of celebrity sex, drugs and death.

Both feared and loathed by Hollywood's reigning glamour class, Lucy is powerful, attractive and intensely lonely. Her one friend is ace photographer Don Konkey (Ian Hart), a freakishly effective paparazzo whose schizophrenia is only sort of under control. The magazine's other inhabitants, from rapacious owner Gibson Horne (Timothy Bottoms) to cheesy publisher Brent Barrow (Jeffrey Nordling) to the quivering writers and editors, serve mostly to goad Lucy's fears and tantrums.

Still, the real recipients of Lucy's wrath are the young celebrities who flit into the business end of the cameras and gossip mills. And though the celebs live in fear/hatred of the scandal sheets, they also depend on them to stoke the fascination that keeps their careers afloat.

"I'm an actor. That's all I wanted to do," one faltering thespian named McLaren Holt (Josh Stewart) tells Lucy.

"No, you're famous," she retorts. "There's a difference."

Actually, "Dirt" can't seem to make up its mind about Holt, who is described as a kind of Sean Penn type, all stubble, cigarette and creative intensity but who never once displays even a glimmer of artistic sensibility. And though there's something compelling (and, I bet, realistic) about how Holt's betrayal of a secret leads immediately to an upbeat story about him, which leads instantly to a juicy new role, the eventual reversals play like a prime-time soap opera.

Cox, who could have done anything after her performance in "Friends," obviously treasures the opportunity to play things darkly for a change: cussing and snarling and engaging in cable-ready sex scenes, not all of them with a partner. But she never looks less than fantastic -- in stark contrast to the real-life celebrity magazine editors I've worked with. For all the stars, real and imaginary, attached to "Dirt," it's never hard to figure out which one has the most juice: Courteney Cox's name is right above the show's title.

Annie Leibovitz photographed celebrity Cox, along with the rest of the "Friends" cast, of course. But as "Life Through a Lens" reminds us, the elaborately staged portraits of A-list celebrities she took for Vanity Fair and Vogue in the 1980s and '90s were actually a departure from the stark, intimate pictures that made her reputation at Rolling Stone in the late '60s and '70s. Inspired by the action photography of Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Leibovitz's pictures of celebrity John Lennon (including the portraits shot just hours before his death), Bruce Springsteen and virtually every other important musician of the era, set a new standard for portraiture.

Unfortunately, achieving intimacy with her subjects often meant sharing their more dangerous habits. And though Leibovitz eventually shook off an affinity for cocaine and other drugs, her growing fame and influence allowed her to take on some of celebrity's other less-appealing attributes, including a reputation for imperiousness and an ever-expanding grandiosity.

But as the film (directed by her younger sister, Barbara Leibovitz) establishes, the photographer's romance with writer Susan Sontag gave her a new intellectual grounding. Photographs shot by Leibovitz while accompanying Sontag to Sarajevo in the early '90s describe a crushingly raw vision of the toll of war. And even these pale in contrast to the portraits Leibovitz took of both Sontag and her father while both were in the process of dying.

There's nothing glamorous about those images. But what they share with Leibovitz's best celebrity portraits comes in the subjects' eyes, skin and sinew. It's the essence of a real life, frozen in an instant.