Jennifer Hudson Shocks Chelsea Handler; Meg Ryan Starts Her Comeback

It's not always enough to know what's "trending." It kind of helps to know why. Welcome to the Social Climber, where we provide a quick primer on the people, places and things that are being feverishly searched and shared online -- and try to make sense of it all.

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Jennifer Hudson 'I've Never Had a Drink in My Life'
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PHOTO: Jennifer Hudson attends 2013 MTV Video Music Awards
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Turns out not all Oscar winners celebrate with champagne. This week, actress and singer Jennifer Hudson admitted to late-night host Chelsea Handler she's never had a single alcoholic drink.

As Handler asked her, "What are you waiting for?"

Sure, avoiding alcohol and other intoxicating substances might be better for your health. But what if you're an actress playing a drug addict? Kind of a tough one, right?

In fact, Hudson told Handler she had been nervous about taking on her latest role as a heroin addicted mother in the new film, "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete." She researched it by meeting with women in rehab before shooting to learn more about addiction.

"I've never done anything, so that was hard to play this role. I've never had a drink in my life. I'm sober," Hudson said. "I'm like, 'OK, this is new to me.' Normally, as an actor, you have things to pull from. I was like, 'I don't know what it's like to feel any of that."

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The Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon to Reopen During Shutdown
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PHOTO: Tourists take photos of the Statue of Liberty on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013.
Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

Hey, not even the government can keep a good woman down -- especially when she's 305 feet tall and a New Yorker. And green.

The Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon have been sealed off from visitors during the federal government shutdown, leaving tourists to gape at the sites from afar.

But now, kids with field trips on the calendar can rejoice.

Lady Liberty and the Grand Canyon will be reopening with state money. There may not be a federal government, but once again there will be tourists taking selfies on Liberty Island.

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Meg Ryan Hopes to Charm New Generation on TV
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PHOTO: Meg Ryan attends Taormina FilmFest in Italy
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America's sweetheart is stepping back into the limelight.

A week after a People magazine story highlighted Meg Ryan's quiet life in New York, the 51-year-old actress announced she will return to the limelight as star of a new television series.

Ryan said she'll play a New York editor and single mom who returns to the workforce to work for her former intern during a sitcom on another network.

So far there's no word if her "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless In Seattle" co-star Tom Hanks could make a guest appearance, maybe with a nice bouquet of pencils.

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Julian Assange Calls Benedict Cumberbatch 'Hired Gun'
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PHOTO: Benedict Cumberbatch
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That notorious white-haired Australian, Julian Assange, is grabbing headlines again.

Turns out the Wikileaks founder penned a letter to actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Assange in the new film, "The Fifth Estate" -- and he wasn't happy.

But Cumberbatch said Assange's letter, recently published on Wikileaks, just made him want to play the role even more.

Take that!

Assange wrote Cumberbatch during the film's pre-production after the actor reached out to him. He praised Cumberbatch's acting talent but slammed his participation in the film.

"You will be used, as a hired gun, to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it," wrote Assange. "To create a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth."

Cumberbatch said on Reddit that Assange's letter "galvanized" him to figure out why he was doing the movie.

"I'm proud to be involved in tackling such a contentious character and script," wrote Cumberbatch. "There is only personal truth in my opinion, and the film should provoke debate and not consensus."

"The Fifth Estate" is out in select cities now. No word on whether a copy has been made available to Assange, still holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London.

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