Re: "are" or "is" for countable nouns in specific phrases
In each one of those examples, "There are" is correct. You will hear "There's a lot of ..." in spoken English because we're lazy when we speak and the contraction "There's" comes much more readily than "There're" or "There are", but it is grammatically incorrect. If you're going to use "many", "lots of" or "a lot of" with a countable noun, then you need to use "There are".
Originally Posted by Pierce111
With uncountable nouns, use "There is" (There is a lot of water, there is a lot of sand, there is lots of gas). You will note that you can't use "many" with uncountable nouns. "Lots of" sounds clunky but we do use it. I would stick with "There is + a lot of" for uncountable nouns.
Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.