Monday Sep 22, 2014

Review: Hudson lacks personal style on 3rd album

Jennifer Hudson, "JHUD" (RCA) Jennifer Hudson's new album, "JHUD," would fly off the shelves if every copy included a tiny stage, complete with miniature Jennifer Hudson singing live. Her voice — that powerful instrument capable of toppling pillars, and...
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TV

Review: Hudson lacks personal style on 3rd album
Monday Sep 22, 2014
Review: Hudson lacks personal style on 3rd album

Jennifer Hudson, "JHUD" (RCA) Jennifer Hudson's new album, "JHUD," would fly off the shelves if every copy included a tiny stage, complete with miniature Jennifer Hudson singing live. Her voice — that powerful instrument capable of toppling pillars, and sending wigs into a tailspin — is what enraptured "American Idol" audiences back in 2004, and the rest of the world in 2006 with "Dreamgirls," which won Hudson an Oscar. But three albums into Hudson's music career, the Grammy-winning star still sounds like she's singing other people's music. That is to say, while "JHUD" is solid collection of tracks, Hudson seems to be conforming to fit a sound and persona not her own. "Daddy do, do or die, tatt my name so I know you're mine," she sings on opening track "Dangerous" — a far cry from the "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" of yore. That soulfulness takes a backseat to the tough-chick-in-love persona that drives "JHUD," rippling through the sassy "Walk It Out," featuring Timbaland, and "He Ain't Goin' Nowhere," with Iggy Azalea. The songs are fun, admittedly, but they beg the question, "Jennifer, is that really you?" Other tracks are more believable, and more enjoyable, too. There's the disco-tinged "It's Your World," featuring R. Kelly, and Hudson's interpretation of "I Still Love You" from British house DJ Switch. Her vocals float effortlessly from honeyed to heavy on "Bring Back the Music," and she sets off goose bumps in a stirring tribute to her late mother on "Moan," which closes the 10-track set. Still, there's no getting around the disappointment of an OK, but not amazing album from Hudson. Here's hoping that her next set is as unique and powerful as she is. ___ Follow Melanie J. Sims at twitter.com/MelanieJoySims Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Ellen DeGeneres a hit on social media with fashion week pic: Starcount
Monday Sep 22, 2014
Ellen DeGeneres a hit on social media with fashion week pic: Starcount

US comedian Ellen DeGeneres is on Starcount's global social media chart for the second week in a row, thanks to a Photoshopped picture that became the most-liked Instagram post of New York Fashion Week.On September 5 DeGeneres posted a doctored photo of what looked like her walking in a Betsey Johnson runway show accompanied by the caption "I love New York Fashion Week. #NYFW." The image was liked by 217,000 people and got a second round of buzz this past week when web analytics firm Curalate named it the most popular Instagram image of NYFW.The talk show host was talked about 2.2 million times on Facebook over the course of the week, thanks to the photo plus a slew of buzz-making segments on her daytime program, including a clip of a sing-along of "Let it Go" from "Frozen" with Kristen Wiig, a dance-off featuring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad, and an interview with Kaley Cuoco of "The Big Bang Theory."Starcount's global social media chart for September 15-21:1. PewDiePie2. Ariana Grande3. Katy Perry4. Justin Bieber5. Ellen DeGeneres6. Taylor Swift7. Nicki Minaj8. HolySoyGerman9. Enrique Iglesias10. ShakiraStarcount.com, the social media leaderboard, tracks data across 12 global social networks to provide an aggregated measure of social media popularity for stars and brands. Its Fan Chart application is available on Android and iOS. For more on Starcount's data go to www.starcount.com/pages/score. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Teaser: Bob Odenkirk is a sweet talker in 'Better Call Saul'
Monday Sep 22, 2014
Teaser: Bob Odenkirk is a sweet talker in 'Better Call Saul'

With months to go before the premiere of the new "Breaking Bad" spin-off in February, AMC has released another scene from the adventures of Walter White's lawyer.In this short video (10 seconds), the lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk is clearly pleading a case in court, and he seems to think he's pretty convincing. "I bet if we were in church right now, I'd get a big Amen," he says, to a quiet courtroom, before adding, "You with me, ladies and gentlemen?" This is the third teaser for "Better Call Saul" released by AMC, which has already ordered two seasons of the new series. The network is counting on the popularity of "Breaking Bad," which was once again honored at the Emmy Awards this year, to give the new spin-off a strong start. "Better Call Saul" focuses on Jimmy McGill, the crooked lawyer who will later change his name to Saul Goodman and defend Walter White. Described as a prequel to the hit AMC drama, the new spin-off will not take place exclusively during the 1980s as was previously thought. In an interview with the New York Daily News in July, producer Peter Gould revealed that the series will actually have "a flexible timeline" and will take place "before 'Breaking Bad,' during 'Breaking Bad,' and after 'Breaking Bad.'" Developed by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, the first season of "Better Call Saul" will include 10 episodes. Watch the teaser: youtu.be/ztcWJmmRt_4 Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Shonda Rhimes lays claim to Thursday nights on ABC
Monday Sep 22, 2014
Shonda Rhimes lays claim to Thursday nights on ABC

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Let's just go ahead and make it official. "Thursday" should be renamed "Shonday." At least it should on ABC, which has handed its entire Thursday prime-time schedule to drama doyenne Shonda Rhimes. Starting this week at 8 p.m. EDT, it's "Grey's Anatomy," with Rhimes the showrunner for this medical melodrama's 11th season. At 9 p.m., "Scandal" begins its fourth year with Rhimes also serving as showrunner. Then, closing out Shonday at 10 p.m., "How To Get Away With Murder" premieres with Viola Davis as a rife-with-mystery criminal lawyer who apparently will do anything to spring her clients and who, as a law professor, trains her students to do the same. Unlike the other two series, created by Rhimes, "Murder" was masterminded by Pete Nowalk, whose producing credits include "Grey's" and "Scandal." On this wicked new addition to the ShondaLand portfolio, Rhimes will serve "only" as executive producer: "I'm like the grandmother," she joked. "I hold the baby, then I give it back." This baby has a clear family resemblance: "Murder" crackles with rat-a-tat dialogue, larger-than-life characters, outrageously tangled narratives, and a rainbow coalition of a cast led, as with "Scandal," by an African-American actress. "It's a show I never would have thought of in a million years," Rhimes said. "But I feel like it fits exactly in the ShondaLand brand." Fittingly, the "Murder" heroine is driven, charismatic and diabolical, even more so, arguably, than "Scandal" cleanup queen Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington). "I really wanted to create a character who's always 10 steps ahead of us," said Nowalk in a separate interview. "If I know what a character's going to do before they do it, what's so interesting about that? And if they're always likable and good in what they do, I don't find that relatable." "We operate not from our morals," said Davis, savoring the mindset of the character she plays. "We're driven by need, no matter how messy it gets." Though a veteran actress whose film credits include "Traffic," ''Antwone Fisher," ''Doubt" and "The Help," Davis is a newcomer to ShondaLand. But she was quick to size it up as "like a family," headed up by a matriarch "with courage, imagination and ability." The "ShondaLand" handle began as "kind of a joke," said Rhimes. Then, for the company it now identifies, it took hold as shorthand for a shared mission statement. "We all know what we're talking about in terms of the work and the attitude, and that term sums up our goal." A storyteller from childhood, the Chicago-born Rhimes had written the script for the 1999 HBO film "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," followed by the Britney Spears hit, "Crossroads," and the 2004 sequel to "The Princess Diaries." But it was "Grey's Anatomy," a 2005 midseason replacement, that put Rhimes and ShondaLand on the map. Today, at age 44, Rhimes reigns as a hitmaker unmatched in TV history, just days from not only ruling a full night of ABC real estate, but also stewarding two broadcast-network dramas with black women as protagonists. "Why did it take somebody black to talk about being black?" Rhimes said, marveling that TV has stubbornly resisted mirroring the world she and most people live in, a world she has tried to reflect through her matter-of-fact inclusiveness of race as well as gender, age and sexuality. "There is no token system," she said. "We're gonna cast the best actor for the part. And then our cast makes it feel real and true — they elevate everything." But ultimately everything issues from Rhimes. All roads in ShondaLand lead to her, which begs an obvious question: How does she do it all, turning out this quantity of product while preserving a consistency of vision and voice? "There's a feeling of flying by the seat of our pants," she said. "And it seems sometimes like we're telling something crazy. But it doesn't feel crazy to us. There's a plan to what we're trying to tell, with larger themes that I feel strongly about: lives of women, race in America, politics. I don't want to say I'm on a soap box, but there are moments when you can rant a little bit, and that's kind of fun. "Mostly, we're enjoying ourselves. We all love what we're doing," she said, then registered the fact she hadn't quite explained herself. "I guess the answer is, I don't know." One last question was easier to answer: How does it feel to be a big-time TV mogul? "It feels great," she beamed. "It's an amazing vote of confidence from the network. It's an exciting moment." But before she let herself get too carried away, she cited a Michael Jordan quote. It's the one where he summed up his job as just playing basketball. "I just make the shows," said Rhimes. _____ EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore _____ Online: http://abc.go.com Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Colin Farrell to lead the investigation in 'True Detective'
Monday Sep 22, 2014
Colin Farrell to lead the investigation in 'True Detective'

After months of rumors, the Irish actor finally confirmed his involvement in the second season of HBO's crime series. Colin Farrell will share the billing with three other actors whose names have yet to be revealed.In an interview with The Sunday World, Colin Farrell confirmed his participation in season two before sharing a few details on the project: "I know it will be eight episodes and take around four or five months to shoot. I know very little about it, but we're shooting in the environs of Los Angeles which is great. It means I get to stay at home and see the kids." The actor recently seen in "Winter's Tale" did not divulge the details of his role, although rumors suggest he will follow Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as one of the show's new protagonists. According to hints from the show's creator Nic Pizzolatto, there will be three detectives -- two men and one woman -- tasked with investigating a murder with suspected ties to a major transportation deal. Taylor Kitsch, Elisabeth Moss and more recently Rachel McAdams are among those rumored to be in line for these additional lead roles. Vince Vaughn is thought to be attached in a fourth major role -- that of a businessman possibly connected to the crime. Rumors on the production also indicate that filmmaker Justin Lin ("Fast and Furious" 4, 5 and 6) has been asked to direct the first two episodes and possibly more. The first season was helmed by Cary Fukunaga, who claimed the Emmy for Outstanding Directing. The second season of "True Detective" is due to air in July 2015. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Movies

Yves Saint Laurent film is French pick for Oscar bid
Monday Sep 22, 2014
Yves Saint Laurent film is French pick for Oscar bid

A biopic exploring the darker side of the late French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent is to represent France as a possible contender in the Best Foreign Language Film category at next year's Oscars."Saint Laurent", directed by Bertrand Bonello, will be France's nomination for the category, the country's National Cinema Centre said Monday. Bonello's film shows the designer, who pioneered tuxedos for women and ready-to-wear, cruising for sex and taking cocaine and pills. Concentrating on a few episodes between 1967 and 1976, it vividly conjures up the hedonistic pre-AIDS days of the early 1970s, with gay sex parties and drinking and drug-taking in nightclubs -- where Saint Laurent's muses Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise are on hand. A team from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will watch all the selected films from each continent before announcing a shortlist of nine films in December. That will be whittled down to just five in January 2015. The Oscars ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on February 22, 2015, with nominations announced on January 15. France last won in the Best Foreign Language Film category in 1993 for the film "Indochine" starring Catherine Deneuve. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Review: Easy Rawlins eyes Hearst-like case
Monday Sep 22, 2014
Review: Easy Rawlins eyes Hearst-like case

"Rose Gold" (Doubleday), by Walter Mosley Walter Mosley evokes the curious turns of the Patty Hearst kidnapping saga and the fractured culture of that era in "Rose Gold," his latest Easy Rawlins crime thriller. Rawlins, a black private investigator based in Los Angeles, follows leads from poor, simmering L.A. streets to secluded beachside mansions and laid-back hippie encampments. His search recalls a time when a California heiress like Hearst could be abducted by a band of oddball militants calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. The heiress whom Rawlins is hired to find is the "Rose Gold" of the title — Rosemary Goldsmith is her name — the daughter of a wealthy, secretive armaments magnate. The SLA-type cell that holds her is Scorched Earth, whom authorities view as a crime-prone revolutionary band created by a black former boxer. There are many page-turning twists in Rawlins' hunt for the poor little rich girl, and more than one mystery to be solved by the much-in-demand private detective. "Rose Gold," the 13th entry in the Easy Rawlins series, is the second book finding him back in action after his apparent death in 2007's "Blonde Faith," which ended with him driving a car off a Pacific cliff. Fans of Mosley's private investigator were grateful Rawlins survived, and for good reason: Mosley's writing gifts go well beyond the gumshoe genre. With Rawlins, he weaves in a tense racial element throughout, and raises the level of his achievement. This reader was late looking into the Easy Rawlins novels — the first, "Devil in a Blue Dress," came out to rave reviews in 1990 — but it's clear why they stirred such excitement. As AP reviewer Bruce DeSilva put it last year: "Taken together, they are nothing less than a history of race relations in post-World War II Los Angeles." In "Rose Gold," Rawlins may bump into police corruption, and, like other private eyes, his life is not without fine broads and bad apples. But Mosley's characters invariably fill out a spectrum of skin shades and display a wide variety of human scruples. Sorting them out is not always easy. In "Rose Gold," Rawlins is stopped by verbally abusive white policemen, ordered out of his car, patted down and nearly arrested. His "crime" is that he had a young white woman named Coco beside him. The police finally leave, and she asks: "How can you live with people treating you like that?" Rawlins replies: "You know, Coco, some questions just don't have answers." ___ Online: http://www.waltermosley.com/ Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

James Franco and Seth Rogen head to North Korea in 'The Interview'
Monday Sep 22, 2014
James Franco and Seth Rogen head to North Korea in 'The Interview'

Sony has released a new red-band trailer for "The Interview," the latest movie from writer and director duo Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen."The Interview" stars James Franco as Dave Skylark, a TV talk show host, and Seth Rogen as his producer Aaron Rapoport. Tired of the tabloid-style celebrity news that makes their show so popular, they decide to accept the North Korean government's invitation to interview Kim Jong-Un, who is a fan of the show. The CIA decides to take advantage of this unique opportunity and asks the two entertainers to assassinate the dictator. Like Goldberg and Rogen's last feature, "This Is the End," also headlined by Rogen and Franco, and like the recent Goldberg-produced comedy "Neighbors," "The Interview" will be full of raunchy humor, as indicated by the trailers released so far. Sony recently decided to modify several elements in the film following objections from Pyongyang. Certain North Korean officials even described the feature as an act of terrorism, filing an official complaint with the UN in an attempt to ban its release. The studio digitally removed certain offending details and cut out an entire scene in which Kim Jong-Un's face was seen melting in slow motion. "The Interview" opens in US theaters on Christmas Day (December 25). Watch the red-band trailer (intended for mature audiences): youtu.be/kP8O-MOqmcw Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'The Lion King' earns record box office
Sunday Sep 21, 2014
'The Lion King' earns record box office

NEW YORK (AP) — Here's something the folks at Disney can take real pride in: "The Lion King" is the top ticket of all time. With a worldwide gross of over $6.2 billion, "The Lion King" stage musical has now achieved the most successful box office total of any work in any media in entertainment history, The Associated Press has learned. The show quietly took over top spot from the $6 billion-earning "The Phantom of the Opera" late this summer, according to representatives from both shows. "Phantom" producers Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Group congratulated "The Lion King" in a statement, calling their rival show "The Pride of Broadway." The total makes "The Lion King" more valuable than any single Harry Potter film, the blockbuster "Titanic," or any of the "Star Wars" movies. By way of comparison, the highest-grossing film in history is "Avatar," with nearly $2.8 billion worldwide. "It's difficult not to become emotional at this realization of the show's impact," said Thomas Schumacher, president and producer at Disney Theatrical Productions. He recalled the long road the musical has taken from its beginning in four downtown rehearsal rooms in May 1997. "Our goal then was to tell the story purely and theatrically so that audiences could feel it in their heart," he added. "And, to this day, that is the audience experience whether they see the show in Madrid; Appleton, Wisconsin; South Africa; Tokyo or Broadway. Of that, we are deeply proud." The figure only calculates box office receipts from the various worldwide stage productions, not sales of posters or CDs and other merchandise, revenue from the film, which grossed $423 million domestically, including its rereleased in 3D, or syndication and licensing fees. Currently, there are 10 productions of "The Lion King," including those in New York, London, in Hamburg, Germany, and on tour across North America. There's no need to cry for "The Phantom of the Opera." It's still the longest-running show in Broadway history and 140 million worldwide have seen it. There are currently eight productions with new ones planned for Moscow, Hong Kong and Istanbul. "The Lion King," which features music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice and the vision of director Julie Taymor, was an adaption of an animated film when it hit the stage but has in many ways overshadowed the film. It tells the story of a young lion cub's coming of age and uses puppetry and dance in ways that haven't been replicated. It was the highest grossing Broadway show last year and is the highest-grossing production so far this year, despite rival shows in five bigger theaters and musicals like "The Book of Mormon" often charging hundreds of dollars more per ticket. Part of its longevity is due to its movie tie-in, simple-to-understand story, family friendly themes and the fact that it's a spectacle not dependent on big-name stars. Twenty-two global productions have been seen by more than 75 million people. "The Lion King" chased down the overall box office crown despite "Phantom" having a big head start: Disney's show began on Broadway in 1997, while "Phantom" debuted onstage in 1986 in London. "It's the distance runner, it's the marathon runner. It's taken 17 years of legitimacy to get there," said David Schrader, executive vice president and managing director at Disney Theatrical Group. What makes the achievement all the more remarkable is that Disney executives haven't gouged every last cent from the public. In fact, they've purposely left money on the table. Last week, for example, the average ticket price at "The Lion King" was $128, while "The Book of Mormon" was $50 more. And while top premium tickets for "The Book of Mormon" was $477 and $300 for "Wicked," the highest price at "The Lion King" was $197.50, illustrating a conscious attempt to keep even the best seats in the house under $200. "We're never going to be the top price. We're never going to have the highest VIP price. We're never going to have the highest orchestra price," said Schrader "We're not in this for tomorrow afternoon. We're in it for however many years we've got. We're trying to be moderate." The other half of the equation — attendance — is also strong. It has increased four of the last five years on Broadway, the London production has seen a 6 percent increase in attendance over the last five years, and the latest North American tour has seen an 11 percent increase over the same period. Both "Phantom" and "The Lion King" have benefited from the emergence of premium — or dynamic — pricing, although the Disney musical has obviously enjoyed more seasons using the tactic. It involves increasing or decreasing prices for certain seats depending on demand and started with the 2001 musical "The Producers," which set a precedent with $480 tickets. At the mother ship in New York, Schrader said the Broadway audience is made up of four key groups in roughly equal proportions: Manhattan residents, commuters from the New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, domestic tourists and foreign tourists. "There's no way you get to 17 years without somehow holding all four," he said. Clever advertising — like using digital screens to show crisp images of brightly costumed characters at Pennsylvania Station and the city's airports — and a scrupulous attempt to maintain its high quality onstage mean "The Lion King" hasn't devolved in to a kids' show or a joke. It still attracts a well-heeled crowd, routinely breaks $1 million a week at the 1,700-seat Minskoff Theatre and Disney has been loath to ever discount its tickets. "If anything, the lack of change is what's remarkable," Schrader said. "Everything erodes, everything comes apart. So the fact that it hasn't is curious." Schrader spends much of his days poring over audience data, figuring out demand patterns based on historical trends, school holidays and even weather forecasts. He knows that 6 percent of a Broadway audience is from the Philadelphia metro area. He knows that daylight savings time will "inevitably" mess up schedules. He'll add a ninth performance during a holiday week but balances that with a need to not overtax the cast. "I love puzzles," he says with a smile. But of "The Lion King's remarkable longevity and continued potency, Schrader is modest about how much effect he has. "I wish we could take credit, but it's the audience and it's the word-of-mouth that's driving it." ___ Online: http://www.lionking.com ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'The Maze Runner' weaves way to top of box office
Sunday Sep 21, 2014
'The Maze Runner' weaves way to top of box office

Science-fiction action film "The Maze Runner" weaved its way to the top of the North American box office this weekend, earning $32.5 million on its debut, industry estimates showed Sunday. The Fox production, based on James Dashner's best-selling 2007 young adult novel of the same name, is the latest studio offering depicting teenagers struggling for survival in a dystopian future society. Like the blockbuster "Hunger Games" films, "The Maze Runner", which stars Dylan O'Brien as a teenager trying to escape from a complex labyrinth, is part of a trilogy. The Hollywood Reporter reported on Sunday that a 2015 date for a second film in the series had already been set following the movie's successful opening weekend. In second place was another new release, the Liam Neeson crime drama "A Walk Among the Tombstones," which took in $13.1 million according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations. The movie, based on US crime writer Lawrence Block's book of the same name, features "Taken" star Neeson as a former New York detective who is hired by a drug dealer to track down his wife's murderer. Another debut movie adapted from a book was in third, the comedy-drama "This Is Where I Leave You," with $11.9 million. The film, based on Jonathan Tropper's 2009 book and starring an ensemble cast including Jason Bateman and Tina Fey, tells the story of four siblings who reunite at their childhood home after the death of their father. In fourth place was "No Good Deed," the thriller starring Idris Elba about a devoted wife and mother of two who innocently helps out a charming but dangerous escaped convict with devastating consequences. The film, which has been hit with a slew of negative reviews, earned $10.2 million in its second week on release. Falling to fifth was "Dolphin Tale 2," a family-friendly sequel starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, with $9 million. In sixth was the summer season's most successful blockbuster, "Guardians of the Galaxy", which added another $5.2 million to its eight-week haul, which now stands at $313.7 million in North America. Screwball comedy "Let's Be Cops" was seventh with $2.7 million, just ahead of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," which added $2.65 million from Friday to Sunday to its total earnings, for $185 million. In ninth place was "The Drop," which tells the story of a bartender played by Tom Hardy who unwittingly finds himself at the center of a robbery gone wrong. The film, which also features late "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini in his final movie role, pulled in $2 million on its second weekend in theaters. Rounding out the top 10 was teen melodrama "If I Stay" with $1.8 million. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Events

Chris Brown ready to stop getting in his own way
Monday Sep 22, 2014
Chris Brown ready to stop getting in his own way

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Chris Brown celebrated his 25th birthday in jail last May by making his own "spread cake": chocolate, peanut butter, bread and milk. "Mix it up in a little cereal bowl and let it sit for a little while. It comes out and you've got a nice little cake," Brown said, laughing. "A couple of the homies taught me how to do it." Accustomed to the high life since he became an R&B star at 16, Brown was brought low by his three months in lockup. He emerged last June determined not to slide back into his old ways. Jail had changed things. "I've always reneged on a lot of my situations. But I think that's a part of growing up and learning. For me, now I have a better sense of what's important — being that I was incarcerated, being that I've had the bad stuff happen to me," he said in an interview. "You can't continuously mess up. You're not going to get that many chances. I'm not saying by my peers, but I'm just saying by God in general. For me and my spirit, I just want to be able to have some peace, be able to chill and do what I love — because I was blessed with this opportunity and this talent, so I don't want to waste it." Brown — a brilliant dancer and talented singer who is among the most electrifying young performers — presents himself as a maturing artist who recognizes past mistakes. He's in court-ordered twice-a-week therapy. He trimmed his entourage from 30 people to single digits. He ended simmering feuds, including one with rapper-singer Drake. His sixth album, "X," released last week, includes plenty of sex- and party-focused songs, yes, but also reflective and heartfelt lyrics that acknowledge and take responsibility for his struggles. Sitting in his publicist's office a day after his album was released, Brown smiled easily and seemed eager to show that he had turned a corner — but acknowledged he still has room to grow. "Sometimes you've got to touch the stove to see that it's hot. And I'm one of those guys that does that all of the time," he said. "Sometimes I might be my own worst enemy. I'm not always going to make the right decision." He was quick to criticize the series of angry outbursts that culminated in an incident in Washington, D.C., last October when he punched a man who tried to get into a picture Brown was taking with two women. That led eventually to a jail sentence for violation of his probation, instituted after he was convicted of the infamous 2009 pre-Grammy Awards attack on then-girlfriend Rihanna. "At first I went mentally into being aggressive, and being totally like unapproachable with situations because I didn't feel comfortable with myself living my life, as far as whatever mistakes I made, because I was constantly being judged," he said. Now, Brown said he recognizes, "I'm an entertainer. And I influence a lot of people, young and older. ... Before, I was out of hand. So I think now it's time to grow up." Gail Mitchell, senior correspondent covering hip-hop and R&B at Billboard magazine, said the Grammy winner has a reputation as a "studio rat," recording and collaborating constantly with his peers. She interviewed Brown for a cover story after he got out of jail. "I think he needed a wake-up call and maybe that's what it was, maybe that's what it took," she said. "I don't think there's any shame in that." Brown said he feels a kinship with Justin Bieber, 20, another pop star whose once-immaculate image has been sullied by repeated public bad behavior. "Growing up in the public eye, being younger with all of the success — girls, money, everything — it can get to your head real fast. ... I was arrogant, cocky, thought I was invincible at one point," Brown said. "We don't get the benefit of growing up behind the camera. We don't get the benefit of making our mistakes and nobody hears about it." The question now is whether Brown can avoid further mistakes. Someone shot and injured Death Row Records founder Suge Knight at a Brown-hosted party last month. Does trouble simply follow Brown, no matter what? "It's 50-50. You could say that trouble follows me. And you could also say I create my own trouble," he said. He mostly sticks to throwing house parties lately but, "I'm not in control of going to a club and it getting shot up." Brown has been able to climb pop charts despite legal trouble: "Loyal" peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 while Brown was jailed. The rude, flippant song was the fourth single from "X'' to be released. Brown said he was surprised at its success. "It's my version of TLC's 'No Scrubs,'" he said. "It just goes to show that sometimes when you put out a super big record with substance, that's not the key all the time. Sometimes you want to just put a record out there that might be disrespectful, just have fun." Brown's album was released at a time of increased public discussion about domestic violence following TMZ's release of video showing NFL star Ray Rice punching out his then-fiancee in an elevator. The singer said he accepts that he'll be linked with the issue for the foreseeable future. "There could be a million other celebrities who were in the same situation, but because of the high-profile case and whatever it is, they're going to always automatically associate myself with it," he said. "When the media associates me, it's to do a bigger message. It's to show the world and raise awareness for it and definitely show that it's not OK." ___ Online: http://www.chrisbrownworld.com ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson at www.twitter.com/ryanwrd Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Teaser: Bob Odenkirk is a sweet talker in 'Better Call Saul'
Monday Sep 22, 2014
Teaser: Bob Odenkirk is a sweet talker in 'Better Call Saul'

With months to go before the premiere of the new "Breaking Bad" spin-off in February, AMC has released another scene from the adventures of Walter White's lawyer.In this short video (10 seconds), the lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk is clearly pleading a case in court, and he seems to think he's pretty convincing. "I bet if we were in church right now, I'd get a big Amen," he says, to a quiet courtroom, before adding, "You with me, ladies and gentlemen?" This is the third teaser for "Better Call Saul" released by AMC, which has already ordered two seasons of the new series. The network is counting on the popularity of "Breaking Bad," which was once again honored at the Emmy Awards this year, to give the new spin-off a strong start. "Better Call Saul" focuses on Jimmy McGill, the crooked lawyer who will later change his name to Saul Goodman and defend Walter White. Described as a prequel to the hit AMC drama, the new spin-off will not take place exclusively during the 1980s as was previously thought. In an interview with the New York Daily News in July, producer Peter Gould revealed that the series will actually have "a flexible timeline" and will take place "before 'Breaking Bad,' during 'Breaking Bad,' and after 'Breaking Bad.'" Developed by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, the first season of "Better Call Saul" will include 10 episodes. Watch the teaser: youtu.be/ztcWJmmRt_4 Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Lenny Kravitz back with new album at 50
Sunday Sep 21, 2014
Lenny Kravitz back with new album at 50

At 50, Lenny Kravitz is an American in Paris.Now, after turns designing shoes and acting in "The Hunger Games", he's returned to music with a new album he says just poured out of him during shooting of the box office smash. Best known for the 1991 single "It Ain't Over 'til It's Over", Kravitz says inspiration struck on set as he played Cinna, the stylist to Jennifer Lawrence's heroine. "I wasn't even planning on making an album. I was just working on the film. In the night, just all this music...," he told AFP in an interview in Paris. Kravitz, who played Cinna in two of the trilogy's films, describes the album, entitled "Strut", as "grit and glamour, all together" plus "a lot of sensuality". He appears on the cover in a black and white photograph, displaying a large tattoo on his bare chest and dressed in a dinner jacket and dark glasses. He says the music itself is about love and relationships. "All the different dynamics that you would have from lust to sex to heartbreak to desperation to devotion to misunderstood love," he said. Kravitz has been living in Paris on and off for nine years and his last video was set in the city. "I think it's a pretty sexy city, aesthetically it's gorgeous... the architecture, the design... it's very inspiring..." he said. After nearly a decade, Kravitz is very much at home in France; in 2011 was awarded France's highest cultural honour -- the Order of Arts and Letters. "I don't feel foreign anymore. Now when I come, I just feel like I'm going home, because I am!" But he says he still cherishes the "feeling I get being not from here". - 'Never felt better' - Writing his tenth album, which is due to be released on Tuesday, the songs came very naturally. "Every time I make an album, it's always different. This album just happened like this!" he said. "I won't call it easy but the flow was very good. Everything just came into my head. I didn't even have to think about it.... I just let it come out." The last song on the album is a cover, something Kravitz says he rarely does. But an unexpected blast of the 1965 hit single by The Miracles, "Ooo Baby Baby", left him marvelling. "One morning early I was having my make up done for 'Hunger Games' and the make-up artist was listening to a Motown station and it came on. "I hadn't heard it for a long time (and) it sounded so beautiful," he said. Although Kravitz has sold over 40 million albums he says he's still hungry to make music. "I don't know if I have anything to prove, I just want to express myself. I wanna grow as a musician, to be a better performer. "It's not about the charts or the money, it's about the experience," he said. And on reaching his half-century, he is philosophical. "The number doesn't really mean anything. I feel great. I've never felt better than I do now... physically, mentally and spiritually," he said. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Doug E Fresh highlights BET Hip-Hop awards
Sunday Sep 21, 2014
Doug E Fresh highlights BET Hip-Hop awards

ATLANTA (AP) — With a picture of his mother on a large screen behind him, Doug E Fresh struggled to complete his sentence. The rapper dubbed "The Human Beat Box" choked up and shed tears as he received the "I Am Hip-Hop Award" at the ninth BET Hip-Hop Awards on Saturday. Fresh eventually told the crowd that his mother, who had Alzheimer's disease, died five months ago. "I have to acknowledge her," Fresh said at the taped award show at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center. "I want to thank this woman and hip-hop. If it wasn't for hip-hop, I don't know where I would be." He also thanked those who helped him throughout his career, from Slick Rick to his group the Get Fresh Crew. The show airs Oct. 14. Fresh became known for imitating drums and creating special effects using his mouth and a microphone. After his speech, Fresh performed one of his hits, "La Di Da Di" with the show's host, Snoop Dogg. "He's the definition of moving the crowd," Ludcaris said during a video that paid homage to Fresh. DJ Mustard won Producer of the Year, and Future's song "Move That Dope" took home Best Club Banger award. The most applause came after a recorded freestyle featuring Kanye West, Common, Big Sean and Pusha T. Many of the other awards will be announced at a later date. Rapper Drake received the most nominations with eight. Jay Z, Pharrell and Future each scored six nominations. The parents of Mike Brown, an unarmed young black man who was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, stood on stage with Common after he finished his songs with Jay Electronica. There was moment of silence and the crowd raised both their hands in remembrance of Brown. Snoop Dogg showed charisma throughout the night and performed skits featuring Nia Long. He also brought back his YouTube network called GGN (Double G News), interviewing rapper French Montana and Mimi Faust of Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta. Singer Brandy performed "I Wanna Be Down" with guest appearances from Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Yo-Yo. Rapper T.I. took the stage with Young Thug, performing "About the Money." ___ Online: http://www.bet.com/shows/hip-hop-awards.html ___ Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. at http://www.twitter.com/mrlandrum31 Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Japan's controversial Miike to get Rome film award
Saturday Sep 20, 2014
Japan's controversial Miike to get Rome film award

Japanese director Takashi Miike, whose violent and often controversial films boast a huge cult following, will be awarded the 2014 Maverick Director Award at the Rome film festival, organisers said Saturday.His nearly 100 films include "Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai", which premiered in competition at Cannes in 2011, and "Straw Shield", which was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the celebrated French film festival in 2013. The Rome film festival said Miike had "reconsidered the boundaries that divide 'populist' practices, genre and auteur visions in some of the most beloved and controversial films in recent years," adding that the Japanese was "considered by Quentin Tarantino to be 'one of the greatest living directors'." Miike's 2001 Manga-inspired film "Ichi the Killer" in particular sparked controversy for its depiction of bloodlust and violence against women, with organisers at the Toronto film festival famously providing sick bags for the audience when the movie was screened. Miike has also made films for children, from "Zebraman" to "The Great Yokai War", as well as teen dramas and period pieces. Artistic director Marco Muller, former head of the Venice film festival, said the 54-year-old had been chosen for the award "for the recurring power of his creative imagination and the courage of his ideas." "Every one of his films is a breakneck race through a uncannily poetic and surprisingly political imagination. Miike has tried his hand at every genre: when he has chosen to shatter them it has always been to recompose them better in unpredictable mixes," he said. "Always catching us unprepared... Miike is arguably the least compliant of all the contemporary maverick directors," he added. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.