Wednesday Jul 23, 2014

Consumers ready to spend big on high-tech products: report

According to the latest Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) data, confidence in the economy is at its highest in the US since 2012. And this optimism is expected to translate into a similar confidence in the latest big ticket and emerging tech gadgets."Consumer confidence is improving...
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TV

Consumers ready to spend big on high-tech products: report
Wednesday Jul 23, 2014
Consumers ready to spend big on high-tech products: report

According to the latest Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) data, confidence in the economy is at its highest in the US since 2012. And this optimism is expected to translate into a similar confidence in the latest big ticket and emerging tech gadgets."Consumer confidence is improving steadily following a weak first quarter," said Shawn DuBravac, CEA's chief economist and senior director of research. "The improved sentiment is helping establish a solid foundation for stronger tech spending -- especially with the growth of emerging technologies like wearables and Ultra HDTV -- to materialize in the back half of 2014." The data in question is drawn from the CEA Index of Consumer Technology Expectations (ICTE), which measures consumer expectations about technology spending. Over the past month it has increased by 4.1 points to 95.3 -- the highest level since the 2012 holiday season. And as this jump in confidence is arriving as ultra-high definition TV sets finally start to drop in price to the sub-$1000 mark and as the first Google and possibly Apple powered smartwatches hit the shelves, it looks like they are going to be the main beneficiaries of this improved optimism and willingness to spend. The CEA also expects total revenues for the US consumer electronics industry to grow 2 percent over the course of 2014 and to hit a record high of $211.3 billion. And although UHD TVs and smartwatches and other wearables, plus 3D printers and connected devices like thermostats will make up an estimated 5 percent of this total, the market will be driven by continuing demand for smartphones and tablets, which will account for 35.1 percent of all revenues over the coming year. Other devices and categories that the CEA sees driving the market in 2014 include high-end headphones and Bluetooth speakers -- headphone sales are expected to pass 75.9 million units by the end of the year -- and a renewed interest in gaming consoles thanks to the PS4 and Xbox One. "There has never been a more exciting time for the technology consumer," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. "Across the consumer electronics industry, companies are packing more innovative features than ever into products that have quickly become indispensable -- even as the industry continues to introduce breakthrough innovations that are capturing the hearts, minds and imaginations of consumers across the nation. Emerging tech categories including wearable devices, Ultra HD TV and 3D printers are generating tremendous consumer excitement and cementing their place as the next generation of ‘must have' products." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Lucy Lawless joins 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'
Wednesday Jul 23, 2014
Lucy Lawless joins 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

According to TV Guide, the former "Xena: Warrior Princess" star will appear in the second season of ABC and Marvel's superhero series. No details on her role have been announced for the time being, however.More info on Lucy Lawless's involvement in the series could be revealed at Comic-Con, which opens July 24 in San Diego. Known for her role as Xena the Warrior Princess on the eponymous TV series, which aired from 1995 to 2001, the Kiwi actress more recently played the journalist Anna Biers on "Battlestar Galactica" from 2005 to 2009 and Lucretia on "Spartacus" from 2010 to 2012.  Created by "The Avengers" director Joss Whedon and launched last September, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was met with encouraging ratings in its first season. Set in the Marvel universe, the superhero drama follows the investigations of an elite governmental agency frequently mentioned in the comics. The second season premieres September 23 on ABC. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'Downton Abbey' back on Jan. 4 for season 5
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014
'Downton Abbey' back on Jan. 4 for season 5

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — "Downton Abbey" will be back for its fifth season on Jan. 4, but the return date for another hit PBS series, "Sherlock," is up in the air, PBS chief executive Paula Kerger said Tuesday. "We will have to wait to know when it's finished and available," Kerger said of the mystery starring Benedict Cumberbatch. "Whenever it comes, we'll put it in a wonderful place." PBS is making its shows available for flexible viewing, using both digital platforms and creative scheduling on public TV stations, she said. All episodes of Ken Burns' "The Roosevelts," for instance, will be available for streaming the day after the first episode airs on Sept. 14. Don't expect the same treatment for stately manor soap opera "Downton Abbey." "'Downton Abbey' will have some surprises in it. I think you know what's going to happen to the Roosevelts," Kerger said. Other PBS announcements from Kerger: — "Walt Disney," a four-hour, two-night film about the life and legacy of the entertainment groundbreaker, will air in fall 2015 as part of the "American Experience" series. — Kristin Chenoweth will serve as host of PBS' fall arts festival featuring theater and music on Friday nights starting Sept. 29. Productions include "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," ''The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess," Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga performing on "Great Performances," and the special "Kristen Chenoweth: Coming Home." — Drama series "Call the Midwife" will return for a fourth season on March 29. — "The Brain with Dr. David Eagleman," described as a "visually spectacular journey" into the human brain, will air as part of the "Think Wednesday" lineup of science and nature programming in 2015. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

No romance for 'Downton Abbey' in-laws, say actors
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014
No romance for 'Downton Abbey' in-laws, say actors

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Michelle Dockery and Allen Leech of "Downton Abbey" say Cupid's arrow is not headed for their characters. While talking to a TV Critics' panel Tuesday, the actors said they find it "very funny" some fans are hoping for a romantic pairing for in-laws Lady Mary Crawley and Tom Branson. Both characters are widowed and have become confidantes in their grief. "Their friendship has really grown," said Dockery, who reminded that at one point her aristocratic TV alter ego couldn't fathom the idea of having a chauffeur marrying her sister. In season five of the British drama, premiering Jan. 5 on PBS, that bond will strengthen as they work to preserve their country estate. "They're after the same thing for 'Downton.' Sustainability," said Leech. "You definitely get the idea they get together on a united front with the idea of making sure 'Downton' is going to be around." It's not all business though, says Dockery, who admits they're also "both looking for love." "But not with each other," quipped Leech. ____ Online: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/ Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Another author boosted by 'Colbert Bump'
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014
Another author boosted by 'Colbert Bump'

NEW YORK (AP) — The "Colbert Bump" is becoming contagious. Edan Lepucki, whose novel "California" became a best-seller thanks to a plug from Stephen Colbert, has in turn helped another book catch on. During an interview on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" that aired Monday night, Lepucki recommended Stephan Eirik Clark's "Sweetness #9." By Tuesday morning, the novel was in the top 300 on Barnes & Noble.com and in the top five for Powell's Books, an independent store based in Portland, Oregon, that has been a leading seller of Lepucki's book. Both "California" and "Sweetness #9" are part of Colbert's campaign to help works published by Hachette Book Group USA, which is in tense contract negotiations with Amazon.com. The online retailer is not accepting pre-orders for "Sweetness," an August release, and other Hachette books. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Movies

Witherspoon, Gandolfini top Toronto film fest line-up
Wednesday Jul 23, 2014
Witherspoon, Gandolfini top Toronto film fest line-up

The upcoming Toronto film festival will showcase a "big year" for Reese Witherspoon, James Gandolfini's final movie and Oscar-bait performances from several major Hollywood stars, organizers said Tuesday.More than 300 feature films will be screened at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival, which runs from September 4 to 14. The event has traditionally been key for Oscar-conscious studios and distributors, attracting hundreds of filmmakers and actors to the red carpet in Canada's largest city. Last year, Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" won the audience prize for best picture, before going on to win three Oscars including the coveted statuette for best picture. In presenting this year's line-up, festival boss Cameron Bailey told a press conference in Toronto that fans of Witherspoon should be ready for a "big year" from the Oscar winner. The 38-year-old Witherspoon has been one of Hollywood's highest-paid and most bankable box office draws since her breakout starring turn in the 2001 comedy "Legally Blonde." But she failed to gain credibility as a serious actress until her 2006 Oscar win for her turn as singer June Carter Cash -- the wife of superstar Johnny Cash -- in James Mangold's biopic "Walk the Line." In September, Toronto audiences will have an opportunity to see her again in two new films: "The Good Lie" about an American woman who takes in a Sudanese refugee, and "Wild," the film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's best-selling memoir. "Wild" is directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, whose previous feature, "Dallas Buyers Club" began its journey to Oscar success in Toronto last year. James Gandolfini makes a posthumous return to movie screens in the gangland tale "The Drop," shot just before his death in June 2013. His penultimate film "Enough Said," a romantic comedy co-starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, was warmly received in Toronto last year. - Hollywood stars, tough themes - This year, festival films will explore grief and depression, strangers colliding, America's racial divide, and marital strife. Many filmmakers found inspiration in true events, splashing the lives of Beach Boys singer-songwriter Brian Wilson (played by Paul Dano), chess champion Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire), theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and World War II code-breaking hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) on the silver screen. The opening film has yet to be confirmed, but organizers said Alan Rickman's historical drama "A Little Chaos" -- starring Kate Winslet as a landscaper invited to design one of the fountains at Versailles -- will close the festival. For the first time, North America's largest film festival will showcase only world premieres over the first four days, including from directors Noah Baumbach, Susanne Bier, François Ozon, Lone Scherfig and Chris Rock. The new policy was put in place as competition between film festivals around the world to land more premieres heats up, explained festival co-director Piers Handling. The Venice film festival and the Telluride film festival in the US state of Colorado both start at the end of August and overlap with the Toronto event. "There's a lot more focus on film festivals and a lot more prominence," Handling said, adding: "It doesn't affect the selection of the films at all -- it only affects the scheduling." Also this year, Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr. will appear as father and son in the court drama "The Judge." Shawn Levies's "This is Where I Leave You" -- starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Jane Fonda -- follows four siblings who reunite after their father's death. Denzel Washington returns in the movie adaptation of the 1980s television series "The Equalizer." And Rock directs and stars in "Top Five" about a comedian proving his acting chops. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Review: Allen casts a limp spell in 'Magic'
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014
Review: Allen casts a limp spell in 'Magic'

Woody Allen's late period has been defined by a quality you wouldn't have expected from the man who produced the inspired chaos of "Bananas" or the Fellini-esque carnival of "Stardust Memories": tidiness. For years now, Allen's films have been light farces ("Midnight in Paris," ''Vicky Cristina Barcelona") or neatly structured parables ("Match Point," ''Blue Jasmine"). They breeze in innocuously in the summer, promising pleasant entertainment and not much more. "Like drinking lemonade" is how Allen has described his escapist aims for his movies. His "Magic in the Moonlight," a romantic comedy bathed in the sunset glow of the French Riviera and starring two of the more effervescent faces in movies — Colin Firth and Emma Stone — is, no doubt, sweetly sugary — if ultimately flat — stuff. The film begins in 1928 Berlin with the chaotic backstage life of a haughty, grouchy Chinese illusionist, Wei Ling Soo, played by the magician Stanley Crawford (Firth). It's a promising start: Here is Firth, in regal, oriental garb and long mustache, disparaging autographs as "for mental defectives." More of this, and "Magic in the Moonlight" could have been a very funny movie. But Wei Ling Soo doesn't again perform, and instead the rest of the film feels oddly missing the jokes it seems built to convey. Crawford — a self-described "rational man" who believes in his art, not in actual magic — sets off to the South of France to unmask a medium, Sophie Baker (Stone), gaining renown for her prescient "mental impressions." They meet at the sumptuous Cote d'Azur home of the Catledge family, whose rich bachelor Brice (Hamish Linklater) swoons unapologetically for Sophie. A dance of distrust begins between the cocksure Crawford and the lithe, charming Sophie across a vivid, widescreen backdrop of cars, clothes and coastline. Crawford, whose fiancee hasn't joined him on the trip, is both supremely confident in his realistic worldview (Nietzsche, he says, resolved "the God problem rather convincingly") and abundantly unhappy. Audiences will surely see where the film is going as it sets up a quite rigidly explored dichotomy between blithe believing and scientific certainty. It's an argument for illusion in our lives, no matter how fraudulent; for love, no matter how illogical. "Magic in the Moonlight" is a disbeliever's earnest plea to believe. These are, of course, ideas Allen has long explored, and "Magic in the Moonlight" often feels like the kind of tidy New Yorker humor story the filmmaker might pen. Even with bright performances and lively chemistry between Stone and Firth, the movie is stale with the fixed rhythm of the written word, not alive to its images, despite the rich setting. (A quick aside: Is it possible to not have good on-screen chemistry with Stone? From Ryan Gosling to Spider-Man, she bewitches everyone.) Allen is in complete control of the film, both its comic pacing and its philosophical quandary. But perhaps that's the problem: Like Crawford, "Magic in the Moonlight" needs to be less in control of itself. The film doesn't believe in magic enough. "Magic in the Moonlight," a Sony Pictures Classics release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for "a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout." Running time: 100 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four. ___ MPAA definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Toronto Film Festival unveils lineup
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014
Toronto Film Festival unveils lineup

NEW YORK (AP) — The Toronto International Film Festival unveiled a star-heavy lineup amid increased festival jockeying for the most plum premieres of Hollywood's fall season. Toronto's slate for Sept. 4-14, announced in a press conference Tuesday, features anticipated performances from Denzel Washington, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as films from directors including Chris Rock, Noah Baumbach and Jon Stewart, making his debut behind the camera. But much of the drama to this fall festival season is about the competition for that most sought-after label: "world premiere." Toronto, now in its 39th year, has long been a sprawling annual event that helps set much of the agenda for Hollywood's award season. It's where recent best-picture winners like "12 Years a Slave" and "Argo" were effectively introduced, although both of those films sneak-peaked first at the smaller Telluride Film Festival days earlier. As a result, Toronto earlier announced a new mandate that only true world premieres will play during the festival's first four days, during its most desirable first weekend. "There needed to be clarity," said festival director Piers Handling on Tuesday. This year's Toronto still boasts an incredible breadth of selection. Handling expects as many as 300 features at the festival, for which more films will later be added to the 59 galas and special presentations announced Tuesday. Among the highlights are: "The Equalizer," a crime film that reteams Washington with "Training Day" director Antoine Fuqua; Mike Binder's "Black and White," a custody battle drama with Kevin Costner; "The Judge," starring Downey as a big city lawyer; Jason Reitman's Los Angeles crime journalism drama "Nightcrawler," with Jake Gyllenhaal; and "The Imitation Game," with Cumberbatch as World War II code-breaker Alan Turing. While festival programmers have yet to name an opening night film, Alan Rickman's "A Little Chaos," starring Kate Winslet as a Palace of Versailles landscaper, will close the festival. The festival will also feature the directorial debut of "Daily Show" host Stewart, "Rosewater," a drama about the imprisonment of Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari. Other notables include two films for Witherspoon (the addiction recovery drama "Wild" and the Sudanese Lost Boys drama "The Good Lie"), two for Al Pacino ("Manglehorn" and "The Humbling"), as well as films starring Jennifer Aniston ("Cake") and Jessica Chastain ("Miss Julie"). Rock will premiere his "Top Five," about a comic-turned-movie star. Baubach will present his "While We're Young," with Ben Stiller. Handling said Toronto's new premiere policy will only impact scheduling, not selection. Several of the biggest movies this fall have already gone to other festivals. Opening at the New York Film Festival will be Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" and David Fincher's "Gone Girl." The Venice Film Festival will kick off with the premiere of Alejandro Inarritu's "Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance," starring Michael Keaton. Two of the top films at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" and Mike Leigh's "Mr. Turner" will also make a stop in Toronto. ___ Online: Toronto International Film Festival http://tiff.net/ Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Freida Pinto speaks at girls' rights summit in UK
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014
Freida Pinto speaks at girls' rights summit in UK

LONDON (AP) — Actress Freida Pinto of "Slumdog Millionaire" fame has joined forces with girls' rights campaigners in calling for an end to the practice of female genital mutilation. The Indian actress, an ambassador for an international children's development organization, called Tuesday for more progress to abolish the practice as she addressed Britain's inaugural "Girl Summit." UNICEF, the United Nations' children agency, said some progress has been made on ending female genital mutilation, most commonly practiced in Africa and the Middle East. It is still highly prevalent in Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Somalia. The agency and Britain's government hope that the summit will help galvanize action to end the practice within a generation. Britain's government announced new measures to tackle the problems in the U.K., including prosecution for parents if they fail to prevent their daughters from being subjected to the practice. The one-day event also focused on child marriages, which UNICEF says affects 700 million women alive today, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Also to address the summit was Malala Yousafzai, the teenager who was shot by the Taliban and recovered to become a global campaigner for education and women's rights. "Traditions are not sent from heaven, they are not sent from God," she said. "It is we who make cultures and we have the right to change it and we should change it." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Working late in life, directors refuse to say cut
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014
Working late in life, directors refuse to say cut

Visiting a retired Frank Capra at his Sierra Nevada hideaway, Clint Eastwood was baffled. "I always thought: 'He could be making a film right now. He's as lucid as could be. Here's the great Frank Capra not doing it,'" Eastwood recalled of the famed director, who died in 1991 at 94, three decades after his last film. "I always thought, 'I wonder why that is?'" Eastwood, who at 84 just released the musical "Jersey Boys" and wrapped shooting on the Navy SEAL drama "American Sniper," isn't the only filmmaker blowing past conventional retirement age. This Friday, Woody Allen, 78, will, like clockwork, release his latest, the French Riviera romantic comedy "Magic in the Moonlight." He's also already on to the next one, shooting in Rhode Island this summer. In June came "Venus in Fur," from 80-year-old Roman Polanski. And in May, 83-year-old Jean-Luc Godard, the perpetual enfant terrible, premiered his 3-D "Goodbye to Language" at the Cannes Film Festival. Both European iconoclasts remain as mischievous in old age as Allen and Eastwood have been steadfast. Polanski's film is a gloriously comic, self-referential gender play. Godard's film — in which his dog played a starring role — was more experimental than most 25-year-old's would dare. It was greeted in Cannes by an audience member's cry: "Godard forever!" At a time when literary giants like Philip Roth, 81, and Alice Munro, 83, have quit their craft, many of cinema's auteurs have stubbornly persisted, while at the same time churning out frequently acclaimed, often vibrant films in a youth-driven industry. "In Hollywood there is that kind of hackneyed, commercial thinking where they think, 'Oh, this guy is over the hill, this guy can't direct that kind of picture,'" says Allen. "But the truth of the matter is that in my lifetime, there have been many directors like John Ford, John Huston, Billy Wilder who were wonderful as they got older and they made sometimes better pictures than they made when they were younger." Certainly, film history is littered with directors who worked well past retirement age. Akira Kurosawa, Sidney Lumet and Robert Altman all worked into their 80s, producing some fine films: Altman's "Gosford Park," Kurosawa's "Dreams," Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." Huston, at 81, died months after the release of "The Dead," his Oscar-nominated adaptation of the James Joyce story. The French film director Alain Resnais was active right up to his passing, at 91, in March. Such longevity would only be possible for widely admired filmmakers who still have the drive to tell a story and the industry weight to attract financing. Because of tight-fisted studios, it's arguably harder today to get a movie made than ever before, adding to what's already a hugely taxing profession. Martin Scorsese, 71, sounded slightly dejected by this part of contemporary moviemaking when releasing "The Wolf of Wall Street," an explicit romp of a movie few would associate with a director in his 70s. But it also took years to get a green light. "The problem is, it's too much," Scorsese said last year. "It's almost becoming that I want to do so much, and when you get to this vantage point, there's not much time left." Around the same time, Scorsese guessed he had about two movies left in him. Ridley Scott, 76, has mirrored Scorsese in prolificacy. Along with the Moses tale "Exodus: Gods and Kings" due out later this year, he has a dozen projects in development as a producer and plans for a "Blade Runner" sequel. But few have kept their edge like Scorsese. Late-period films are generally more placid things. Often, even a good film for a master filmmaker late in life is merely a footnote to their younger, more urgent work. Such a fear has previously prompted Quentin Tarantino, 51, to declare that he'll never become "an old-man filmmaker." He has instead suggested he will quit moviemaking around 60 so as to not dilute his filmography with weaker rehashes. But such catalog care is of little concern for others, who continually filter their lives through a camera lens. Between the two of them, Eastwood and Allen have combined to make a staggering 20 films since turning 70. What compels them to make a film year after year? The answer, Allen said in an earlier interview, is pure distraction from sitting at home pondering, "Gee, life is meaningless. We're all going to die." "I get to get up in the morning and go into work and there's Penelope Cruz, these beautiful women and scintillating guys — Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg," said Allen. "So I'm distracted for the day with trivial problems." If for Allen filmmaking is a way to order his day-to-day life, for Eastwood, it's a means for staying young. Age, he says, is "a mental outlook." Maintaining interest — in moviemaking or anything else — is his secret to life. One striking commonality between the likes of Allen, Eastwood and even Godard is that none are abundantly precious about their films. None, for example, are likely to go past take two or spend five years laboring over a project. Whatever keeps them going, one director has them all handily beat. The Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira is 105. Earlier this year, he shot his latest, a short about Portuguese history. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

'The Last of Us 2' a definite possibility
Wednesday Jul 23, 2014
'The Last of Us 2' a definite possibility

A sequel to 2013's PlayStation hit "The Last of Us" is certainly in the cards, says a rep for award-winning studio Naughty Dog.The game was originally released for PlayStation 3 in June 2013, just a few months before its successor was released, and a PlayStation 4 edition is now due the week of July 29. With a week to go until the PS4 version emerges, Naughty Dog was never going to rule out the possibility of a sequel at this point, as community strategist Arne Meyer outlined the studio's process. "All of our games are self-contained stories so they don't have to continue if we don't want them to or if there's no reason for them to continue," Meyer told VideoGamer.com. "It really comes down to is there something interesting in this universe we've created that we want to continue to explore? Is it something that we can get the entire team passionate about? Is it something we can get the creative directors excited about and then we could continue it?" "We're just starting to explore ideas of what more could there be in this universe and starting that decision process," though "that doesn't mean the end result is guaranteed," he cautioned. At the same time, the game is making its way to theater as a free (but limited-space) live read at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, California. "The Last of Us: One Night Live" is to take place on July 28, with the principal cast reunited to recreate select scenes from the game's script. That's to be livestreamed on YouTube, Twitch.TV and the PlayStation Network. And speaking of creative directors, it would appear that a "Last of Us 2" may be a while off, as lead pairing Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley have been attached to confirmed PlayStation 4 title "Uncharted 4: A Thief's End," continuing the adventures of smart-talking treasure-hunting swashbuckler Nathan Drake in 2015. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Nathan Lane: Straight actors can play gay roles
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014
Nathan Lane: Straight actors can play gay roles

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Gay actors shouldn't have a monopoly on gay roles, award-winning stage and screen actor Nathan Lane said. Lane, who is gay and has played both straight and gay characters, was asked the question at a TV critics' meeting Tuesday. He was there to discuss PBS' presentation of the Broadway play "The Nance," in which he stars. "We just had 'The Normal Heart' (with) Mark Ruffalo, fantastic job. I think who's right for the part and most talented" should be hired, Lane said. Ruffalo, who is straight, starred as a gay man in the AIDS drama for HBO. "That way only madness lies. ... I wouldn't have played Nathan Detroit or Max Bialystock" if casting followed such rigid rules, Lane said. He won a Tony Award for his Broadway portrayal of larcenous producer Bialystock in "The Producers" and was a nominee as gambler Detroit in "Guys and Dolls." Lane is an Emmy nominee this year for his guest role as wedding planner Pepper Saltzman in ABC's sitcom "Modern Family." Hollywood has been criticized for casting white actors as ethnic characters and, as gay characters have become an increasing part of movies and TV, giving such roles to straight actors. "Will & Grace" came under fire for casting straight actor Eric McCormack as a gay man. "The Nance," which earned Lane another Tony bid this year, is about a gay burlesque performer in 1930s New York. It airs Oct. 10 on PBS' "Live From Lincoln Center" as part of the series 40th anniversary season. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Toronto Film Festival unveils lineup
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014
Toronto Film Festival unveils lineup

NEW YORK (AP) — The Toronto International Film Festival unveiled a star-heavy lineup amid increased festival jockeying for the most plum premieres of Hollywood's fall season. Toronto's slate for Sept. 4-14, announced in a press conference Tuesday, features anticipated performances from Denzel Washington, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as films from directors including Chris Rock, Noah Baumbach and Jon Stewart, making his debut behind the camera. But much of the drama to this fall festival season is about the competition for that most sought-after label: "world premiere." Toronto, now in its 39th year, has long been a sprawling annual event that helps set much of the agenda for Hollywood's award season. It's where recent best-picture winners like "12 Years a Slave" and "Argo" were effectively introduced, although both of those films sneak-peaked first at the smaller Telluride Film Festival days earlier. As a result, Toronto earlier announced a new mandate that only true world premieres will play during the festival's first four days, during its most desirable first weekend. "There needed to be clarity," said festival director Piers Handling on Tuesday. This year's Toronto still boasts an incredible breadth of selection. Handling expects as many as 300 features at the festival, for which more films will later be added to the 59 galas and special presentations announced Tuesday. Among the highlights are: "The Equalizer," a crime film that reteams Washington with "Training Day" director Antoine Fuqua; Mike Binder's "Black and White," a custody battle drama with Kevin Costner; "The Judge," starring Downey as a big city lawyer; Jason Reitman's Los Angeles crime journalism drama "Nightcrawler," with Jake Gyllenhaal; and "The Imitation Game," with Cumberbatch as World War II code-breaker Alan Turing. While festival programmers have yet to name an opening night film, Alan Rickman's "A Little Chaos," starring Kate Winslet as a Palace of Versailles landscaper, will close the festival. The festival will also feature the directorial debut of "Daily Show" host Stewart, "Rosewater," a drama about the imprisonment of Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari. Other notables include two films for Witherspoon (the addiction recovery drama "Wild" and the Sudanese Lost Boys drama "The Good Lie"), two for Al Pacino ("Manglehorn" and "The Humbling"), as well as films starring Jennifer Aniston ("Cake") and Jessica Chastain ("Miss Julie"). Rock will premiere his "Top Five," about a comic-turned-movie star. Baubach will present his "While We're Young," with Ben Stiller. Handling said Toronto's new premiere policy will only impact scheduling, not selection. Several of the biggest movies this fall have already gone to other festivals. Opening at the New York Film Festival will be Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" and David Fincher's "Gone Girl." The Venice Film Festival will kick off with the premiere of Alejandro Inarritu's "Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance," starring Michael Keaton. Two of the top films at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" and Mike Leigh's "Mr. Turner" will also make a stop in Toronto. ___ Online: Toronto International Film Festival http://tiff.net/ Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Milan launches fashion film festival
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014
Milan launches fashion film festival

Recognized in recent years as a genre and an art form all its own, the fashion film will soon be in the spotlight in Milan. This September, at the start of fashion week, the city will host the very first Fashion Film Festival Milano.Already known the world over for its fashion week, Milan hopes to build on its reputation to launch a new forum for celebrating fashion films. Founded and directed by Constanza Cavalli Etro, with support from the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, the festival is the first of its kind in Italy and will offer exposure and recognition for emerging talent. Scheduled to take place over two days at the start of fashion week (September 14-15), the festival will include two sections: an exhibition and a competition. The exhibition will take a look back at the best fashion films made by established names and leading brands, while the competition will showcase a selection of emerging directors and their short films relating to fashion. Prizes will then be awarded in the categories of best fashion film, best Italian fashion film, best emerging brand/designer, best director, best styling, best art direction, best editing and best music. For up-and-coming directors interested in an opportunity to present their work, the competition is open to the public and submissions may be made via the festival's website:www.fffmilano.com/submission. Paris also hosts a fashion film festival, A Shaded View on Fashion Film (ASVOFF), which has also gone on tour to cities like New York and Tokyo. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Carrie returns with a dangerous mission in 'Homeland'
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014
Carrie returns with a dangerous mission in 'Homeland'

Showtime has just released new footage from the fourth season of its political drama, which returns in October.After the teaser unveiled last week, the new trailer reveals additional details on the fourth season of "Homeland," showing Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) in a series of dangerous situations. The lead actress is surrounded by several new cast members, including Raza Jaffrey ("Smash"), Michael O'Keefe ("Roseanne"), Suraj Sharma ("Life of Pi") and Corey Stoll ("House of Cards"). And Mandy Patinkin, F. Murray Abraham and Rupert Friend have returned to their roles as Saul Berenson, Dar Adal and Peter Quinn respectively. After tying up multiple ends in an intense third season centered on Brody (Damian Lewis), the series is headed for something of a reboot with its fourth run. The action takes place in Istanbul, where Carrie is now in charge of one of the most dangerous CIA stations in the Middle East. Airing since 2011, "Homeland" won over the public and critics alike and claimed several awards in 2012 and 2013, including the Golden Globes for Best Drama and Best Actress as well as the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in Drama Series both years. Critics found the third season less convincing, and the series was not even shortlisted for the 71st Golden Globes in January nor for the 66th Emmy Awards, which will take place on August 25. Audiences were more enthusiastic, however, and the season three finale was the most-watched episode in the show's history, with 2.4 million viewers. Season four premieres October 5 on Showtime. Watch the trailer: http://youtu.be/-A6vKiOM0Ws Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.