Monday Jul 28, 2014

Trailer: 'Walking Dead' in for harrowing fifth season

At Comic-Con, AMC unveiled the first official trailer for the fifth season of its zombie series, in addition to announcing its premiere date.On October 12, Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors will pick up where they left off in the fight against zombie hordes and the struggle for power and...
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TV

Trailer: 'Walking Dead' in for harrowing fifth season
Monday Jul 28, 2014
Trailer: 'Walking Dead' in for harrowing fifth season

At Comic-Con, AMC unveiled the first official trailer for the fifth season of its zombie series, in addition to announcing its premiere date.On October 12, Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors will pick up where they left off in the fight against zombie hordes and the struggle for power and resources. Their new adventures promise to be more complicated and violent than ever before, judging by the footage unveiled by AMC in San Diego. Fans will find the protagonist played by Andrew Lincoln exactly where they left him at the end of season four, trapped at Terminus, the place that once seemed to be a safe haven but quickly became its own kind of hell on earth. Introduced in 2010, "The Walking Dead" achieved new record ratings last season. Titled "A," the season four finale drew an audience of 15.7 million, making it the third most watched episode in the history of the now cult series. The show's all-time record is still held by the fourth season premiere, which was watched by 16.1 million fans. On the whole, season four was watched by an average 13.3 million viewers per episode, marking a 24 percent increase from the previous year. The fifth season, consisting of 16 episodes, will premiere October 12 on AMC. Watch the trailer: http://foxinternationalchannels.com/shows/the-walking-dead Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Comic-Con: new 'Game of Thrones' cast members revealed
Monday Jul 28, 2014
Comic-Con: new 'Game of Thrones' cast members revealed

At Comic-Con this weekend, HBO created quite a stir by revealing the list of actors who will join the cast for season five.Nine new characters will be introduced in this fifth season, as indicated by author George R. R. Martin and by the show's producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Several of the new faces will inhabit the Kingdom of Dorne, one of the new settings set to debut in season five. Alexander Siddig ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") plays Doran Martell, the current ruler of Dorne and older brother of the late Oberyn. Toby Sebastian will play his son Trystan Martell, who is engaged to be married to Myrcella Baratheon, played by Nell Tiger Free. DeObia Oparei, seen in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," will play Areo Hotah, the captain of Doran Martell's palace guards. Three of Oberyn Martell's eight illegitimate daughters will also appear in the upcoming season: Nymeria, Tyene and Obara Sand will be played by Jessica Henwick, Rosabell Laurenti Sellers and Kiwi actress Keisha Castle-Hughes respectively. Enzo Cilenti ("Kick-Ass 2") will play Yezza, a slave trader from the Free Cities who amassed a fortune before Daenerys Targaryen outlawed the profession. Jonathan Pryce, the star of the 1985 movie "Brazil" who was seen more recently playing Governer Swann in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, will play High Sparrow, who comes to King's Landing to help the poor. Expected to home in on characters that remained in the background in previous episodes, such as Stannis Baratheon, the fifth season will be the first made without the participation of George R. R. Martin. The author of the "Song of Ice and Fire" book series, who has written one episode per season until now, announced that he will leave the series behind in order to focus on his next books. Slated to begin lensing in August, the fifth season of "Game of Thrones" will premiere next spring on HBO, likely on March 29 or April 5. Watch the video introducing the new cast members: youtu.be/WH2ri8RhSnw Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Footballer James Rodriguez tops global social media chart: Starcount
Monday Jul 28, 2014
Footballer James Rodriguez tops global social media chart: Starcount

Soccer star James Rodriguez, who took home the Golden Boot at the World Cup, is once again the talk of social media after being recruited by Real Madrid.The Colombian midfielder scored a total of six goals and was responsible for two assists throughout the World Cup, earning the Golden Boot as the tournament's highest scorer. Previously unknown to many soccer fans around the world, he was a fixture on social media during his star turn at the World Cup.Last week it was announced that Rodriguez had been signed to Real Madrid, and media sources picking up on a report from Spanish newspaper Sport reported that the team had sold 345,000 James Rodriguez shirts in the 48 hours after he signed to the team.The buzz continued over onto social media. On Facebook, the athlete was talked about by nearly 7.2 million people, and he got 1.96 million likes over the course of the week. Among his posts were an announcement of the signing and photos of him wearing his new jersey. Starcount's global social media chart for July 21-27:1. James Rodriguez2. PewDiePie3. Shakira4. Katy Perry5. Neymar Jr6. Pitbull7. Enrique Iglesias8. Ariana Grande9. Selena Gomez10. Cristiano RonaldoStarcount.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 starcount.com/pages/score. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Take off your clothes to make it in TV
Monday Jul 28, 2014
Take off your clothes to make it in TV

NEW YORK (AP) — A contestant on a new VH1 dating show didn't beckon a woman to walk in front of him out of politeness. He wanted to check her out from behind and didn't need to use his imagination. The "Dating Naked" series is the latest example of reality television's newest trend: Nudity is hot, no longer confined to late-night premium cable. Leading the way is Discovery's "Naked and Afraid," on which a man and woman who don't know each other fend for themselves in the wilderness for three weeks without a stitch between them. That program's success since its June 2013 premiere begat VH1's "Dating Naked" and TLC's real estate show "Buying Naked," with more in the planning stages. What's the appeal? Well, what do you think? In a world of endless choices, titillation lures. So does a catchy title, and the word "naked" jumps off the program guide. Brent Montgomery, who produces the nonfiction hit "Pawn Stars," which airs on the History channel, said many early fans were drawn in by that title even though the show had nothing to do with the image left in your head. He's now doing the spinoff, "Pawnography." To truly succeed, however, a show needs more going for it to keep viewers once the novelty of watching naked bodies with blurred body parts wears off. "The secret sauce of our show is not the fact that they're naked," said Denise Contis, West Coast head of production and development at Discovery. "I think it's the storytelling, the cast and a survival experience that's authentic." Memorable characters make successful shows, "and it takes a big character to take off their clothes in front of a reality TV camera," Montgomery said. Standards are the same at each show: male and female genitalia are blurred out, along with female breasts. Backsides are fair game. A graphic artist takes about a week to cleanse each episode of "Naked and Afraid." A strategically placed flowerpot or sofa obscures the nude home shoppers in "Buying Naked." Discovery wasn't searching for a "naked" show when developing "Naked and Afraid," Contis said. It wanted a new twist in the survival genre and, ultimately, the most elemental shelter is clothing. Yet, let's face it: One hook is the question of whether a romance develops between two naked strangers left alone in the woods (except for the producers and camera crew, of course). It hasn't happened yet. The opposite is more likely: In one upcoming episode the two survivalists detest each other so much they agreed to separate until they were picked up at the end. Romance is the point of "Dating Naked." Susan Levison, head of programming at VH1, gave the series a green light her first day on the job last September and hurried to beat competitors to the air. Fox has its own naked dating show in the works but put it on hold during a management change. "The idea of using nudity as a metaphor for allowing yourself to be truly exposed and truly yourself in the search for love felt really fresh and exciting," Levison said. While the nudity arguably serves a thematic purpose on "Dating Naked" and "Naked and Afraid," it's hard to see "Buying Naked" as anything other than a typical real estate show on which prospective owners leave their clothes at home. TLC says the Florida-based show exposes the habits of a nearby nudist colony. The "Dating Naked" debut earlier this month featured a woman in her 30s stung when her chosen man was distracted by a younger, gorgeous temptress, an intriguing story for VH1's female-dominated audience. The older woman's name, Wee Wee, trended on Twitter, and the episode's audience of 826,000 easily beat the network's average of 335,000 viewers in the time slot. With more than 4 million viewers, "Naked and Afraid" was Discovery's most-watched series premiere ever. That explains why plenty of other "naked" pitches are being heard in network boardrooms. "You'll probably see four or five work and a dozen that don't work," Montgomery said. The Parents Television Council is dismayed that each of the "naked" shows is judged by its network as being suitable for children. But Tim Winter, president of the lobbying group, which backs family-friendly programming, predicted the trend will be short-lived. Despite the ratings, the shows likely make many advertisers squeamish. "It's just so lazy," he said. "This is how you have to resort to making a buck? Is this really what your entertainment brand stands for?" ___ David Bauder can be reached at dbauder@ap.org or on Twitter @dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder. ___ Online: http://www.vh1.com/shows/dating-naked/ http://www.history.com/ http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Kevin Bacon brings his 'Six Degrees' to Comic-Con
Sunday Jul 27, 2014
Kevin Bacon brings his 'Six Degrees' to Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Kevin Bacon's "Six Degrees" world got even bigger Sunday at Comic-Con. During a Sunday panel for his Fox show "The Following," a fan brought up the pop culture game known as "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," whose premise is anyone in Hollywood can be linked to the actor. She wondered if by talking to him she could then be a part of his universe. Bacon said that technically you need to be in a movie with him to be connected in the "Six Degrees" world. The actor then stood up and took a video of the crowd in the San Diego Convention Center's 6,500-seat Hall H. He also got laughs when a young girl told him she loved him in the 2011 movie "Crazy Stupid Love." "Thank you for loving me for such a long time, I guarantee you that I have socks that are older than you, but time is relative," Bacon said. In "The Following," Bacon plays an FBI agent who hunts down killers. He spent the first two seasons tracking a psychotic murderer, played by James Purefoy, who manipulated others to follow his lead. Show creator Kevin Williamson said at the panel that he was looking at season 3 as a reset. To do that, the show needed "a bigger, badder, more complicated villain," show runner Jennifer Johnson teased. "It will take a few episodes before you start to understand what that means. We're going to throw the title of the show on its head." The audience also got to see an alternate ending of the season 2 finale, where Purefoy's character is shot. In the version that aired, he was arrested. ___ Online: www.fox.com/the-following Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Movies

Trailer: 'Walking Dead' in for harrowing fifth season
Monday Jul 28, 2014
Trailer: 'Walking Dead' in for harrowing fifth season

At Comic-Con, AMC unveiled the first official trailer for the fifth season of its zombie series, in addition to announcing its premiere date.On October 12, Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors will pick up where they left off in the fight against zombie hordes and the struggle for power and resources. Their new adventures promise to be more complicated and violent than ever before, judging by the footage unveiled by AMC in San Diego. Fans will find the protagonist played by Andrew Lincoln exactly where they left him at the end of season four, trapped at Terminus, the place that once seemed to be a safe haven but quickly became its own kind of hell on earth. Introduced in 2010, "The Walking Dead" achieved new record ratings last season. Titled "A," the season four finale drew an audience of 15.7 million, making it the third most watched episode in the history of the now cult series. The show's all-time record is still held by the fourth season premiere, which was watched by 16.1 million fans. On the whole, season four was watched by an average 13.3 million viewers per episode, marking a 24 percent increase from the previous year. The fifth season, consisting of 16 episodes, will premiere October 12 on AMC. Watch the trailer: http://foxinternationalchannels.com/shows/the-walking-dead Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Marvel announces 'Guardians of the Galaxy' sequel
Monday Jul 28, 2014
Marvel announces 'Guardians of the Galaxy' sequel

The first movie is not even out in theaters yet, but Marvel has already announced that the second episode will arrive in 2017.Although it may seem somewhat precipitous, Marvel's announcement at Comic-Con of a "Guardians of the Galaxy" sequel is based on the largely positive response from the press to the movie's first screenings. All signs points to a sure box office success, although we won't find out until the movie begins hitting theaters later this week.  In the first episode, Starlord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Groot (Vin Diesel), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Drax (Dave Bautista) attempt to thwart the evil Ronan's plans to destroy the galaxy. For the sequel, rumors already indicate a possible meeting between the Guardians and the Avengers, an idea supported by pre-existing crossover between the two movies. In "Guardians of the Galaxy," the protagonists bump into Thanos, a character who will also cause problems for the heroes in "The Avengers: Age of Ultron," which is due to hit theaters on May 1, 2015. Another rumor suggests that the next "Avengers" movie will end with the Hulk being sent into space with none other than Thanos. Will he be found by the Guardians? We won't find out for sure until July 28, 2017, the release date announced by Marvel for the first sequel. In the meantime, "Guardians of the Galaxy" is due for release in the US on August 1. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

A double-header of biopics for Chadwick Boseman
Monday Jul 28, 2014
A double-header of biopics for Chadwick Boseman

NEW YORK (AP) — A year after playing Jackie Robinson in "42," Chadwick Boseman was back in biopic spring training. To become James Brown for the film "Get on Up," Boseman needed to rely on an entirely different skill set. But the preparation necessary to transform into a tireless performer like Brown — "the hardest working man in show business," after all — was oddly reminiscent of working out on the baseball diamond. "I was like, 'This is deja vu,'" says Boseman. "I'm waking up in the morning and lacing them up. Doesn't matter whether it's cleats or if it's leather shoes." For the second time, Boseman has stepped into some very big ones. A largely unknown actor previously, the 32-year-old Boseman has emerged with back-to-back biopics of 20th century titans: one the revolutionary breaker of baseball's color line, the other the Godfather of Soul. Both were unstoppable forces that blazed across civil rights-era America. One could steal home; the other could do the Mashed Potato. Tackling one such historical figure is daring; two is audacious. It wasn't Boseman's idea. "There's no way in the world," Boseman says was his initial reaction to playing Brown, still sounding genuinely resistant to the idea. Not only was playing such a complicated, iconic personality like Brown a fearsome challenge, it also could potentially typecast Boseman in a biopic bubble. "I felt like if I keep doing this biopic thing, then all I'm going to get is biopics," says Boseman. "I was already getting all biopic scripts." But director Tate Taylor ("The Help") pressed. He brought Boseman in to read a scene in the movie of Brown at 63 and was immediately won over by the fresh-faced Boseman's ability to transform into the legend late in life. "I thought: This is the guy. Please let him be able to learn how to dance," said Taylor. But it took weeks of coaxing: "Chad's point of view was, 'Nobody should do this. It's just not even possible.'" "Get on Up," produced by Brian Grazer, had gone through other iterations. At one time, Spike Lee was to direct. Later, Mick Jagger, who frequently crossed paths with Brown and took much inspiration from him, came aboard as a producer. (Jagger is also producing an upcoming documentary about Brown, directed by Alex Gibney.) The film, which opens in theaters Friday, skips across Brown's expansive life, from the Georgia poverty of his hard upbringing to his more cartoonish and violent later years. (James died in 2006.) "Get on Up," written by the brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, attempts to synthesize all of James' many dimensions: tyrannical bandleader, musical visionary, funk preacher, domestic abuser. Brown's vocals are used during performances in the movie, but the part required Boseman to play Brown across time and pompadours. He had to find the voice, the moves, the posture and the persona, and hope somewhere in there was the man, too. "It was all daunting, to be honest with you," sighs Boseman. With so much research and dance training to fit into two months before shooting began, Boseman had to make a quick study. "They gave me the whole catalog of music and I just sat and listened to every song," he says. "I started with the music because it was so visceral." Whereas most biopics travel a familiar path, Brown's life resists a typical arc. One memorable early scene shows James, at his label's request, accepting top billing over his early band, the Flames. "There is a certain amount of cutthroat-ness to him," says Boseman. "But it's like what Little Richard says in the movie: When you see the moment, you have to seize it." It took some time for Boseman's moment to come. He first got into theater, acting and writing plays, as an undergrad at Howard University. Boseman had roles on little-seen TV shows like ABC Family's "Lincoln Heights" and NBC's "Persons Unknown," but before "42" he had only acted in one film (2008's football drama "The Express"). Boseman still attracted notice in Hollywood, often just missing out on big parts. "2011 was a rough year," he says. "I was up for everything that was happening that year, really good roles. None of them came through for me. I would get down to the end and then it would go to someone else." Now Boseman is seen as a rising star. "The cream eventually rises to the top," says Taylor. The actor recently shot a supporting role in the big-budget fantasy adventure "Gods of Egypt" and has been rumored as a possibility to play Marvel's Black Panther. One thing he says he won't be doing anytime soon again: a biopic. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'Batman V Superman': Wonder Woman revealed
Monday Jul 28, 2014
'Batman V Superman': Wonder Woman revealed

Director Zack Snyder unveiled the first photo of the female superhero as portrayed by Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the upcoming movie "Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice." A few images from the teaser screened at San Diego's Comic-Con have also made their way to the web.The buzz is building around Zack Snyder's next superhero epic, despite the long wait until its US release on May 6, 2016. On the heels of a somber close-up of Ben Affleck wearing the Batman mask, the "Batman V Superman" director tweeted the first image of Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Dressed in black, the fierce superhero poses in front of a volcanic landscape holding not a whip but a small sword. A small group of fans lucky enough to be on site in San Diego at Comic-Con even got to see the first footage from this upcoming sequel to "Man of Steel." A few copies of the video were briefly leaked on the internet, showing Batman with glowing eyes sending out the Bat Signal across the rainy night sky, followed by Superman with glowing red eyes standing in its shadow, all to the cheers of a very enthusiastic crowd. See the photo of Wonder Woman: https://twitter.com/ZackSnyder/status/493085967490637824 Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Worldwide box office: 'Apes' outshine 'Hercules' and 'Lucy'
Monday Jul 28, 2014
Worldwide box office: 'Apes' outshine 'Hercules' and 'Lucy'

The second prequel to the cult sci-fi movie, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" remains in first place at the worldwide box office at the end of its third week in theaters. The blockbuster is followed by "Hercules" and "Lucy" in the ranking for the weekend of July 27, according to Rentrak.During its opening weekend in 26 territories, the historical fantasy movie starring Dwayne Johnson grossed $57.7 million. Luc Besson's new action movie with Scarlett Johansson, only in US theaters for the time being, earned $44 million. "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and "Continent" round out the top five with revenues of $42.1 million and $33 million respectively. "Lucy" even managed to claim the top spot at the US box office ahead of "Hercules" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." The film, directed by Luc Besson and produced by Europacorp, is due for release in additional territories over the coming days. In terms of total revenues, "Transformers: Age of Extinction" now claims $966.3 million, meaning that it could easily reach the $1 billion threshold before next weekend. Michael Bay's latest action movie has already far surpassed the hit movies "Maleficent" ($715 million) and "How to Train Your Dragon 2" ($425.8 million). "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," meanwhile, boasts total revenues of $355.8 million after its third week in theaters. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Events

'Crazy Eyes' actress Uzo Aduba is crazy about fans
Saturday Jul 26, 2014
'Crazy Eyes' actress Uzo Aduba is crazy about fans

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Orange Is the New Black" actress Uzo Aduba is flooded with marriage proposals these days. "People on the street, people on Twitter ask, 'Can I be your prison wife?' I'm like you know, 'Name the day and the time,'" Aduba joked. Aduba plays Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren on the Netflix Inc. original series about a women's prison. She's nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series along with her "Orange" co-stars Laverne Cox and Natasha Lyonne. Fan reaction also includes questions about her character's unique hairstyle and her most memorable quotes. "'Chocolate and vanilla swirl,' always. Throwing pie, dandelions, that they're not crazy, they're unique," she said. "For it to be received the way it has been, it's humbling." For Aduba, the role is much more than Suzanne's quirky hairdo and scene-stealing one-liners. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, the Nigerian-American actress said she's thrilled to be involved in a show that is pushing boundaries and shattering stereotypes. AP: Is the discussion about the lack of diversity in Hollywood overblown? Aduba: I don't think it's overblown if I'm speaking candidly. I think the attraction is the freshness of it, the uniqueness of it. I think that's what the thirst is for, something else and different and new with regards to diversity, with regards to gender, with regards to orientation representation, with regards to the number of each of those things on a singular show. I think all of those things brought together is what is exciting and thrilling for people to see on the show. AP: The series has a number of celebrity fans, including your friend Lupita Nyong'o. How did you meet? Aduba: We met some years ago in this play 'Eclipsed' (written by) another friend of ours Danai Gurira, who's on 'The Walking Dead.' ... We did (the play) together and she's just so phenomenally talented and just so beautiful from her heart to her work as well. Just like phenomenal. AP: Nyong'o has had an extraordinary year, including her Oscar win. Aduba: It makes me proud. It just makes me happy. It makes me want to beam because I root (for her), and if I could have pom-poms, like you know what I mean, I would carry them. ... You feel like this is a person whose head and spirit is of the right place. ... And you stepping into this (success), it's like yes, that's exactly how it should be. AP: There's a stereotype about women in Hollywood not getting along. Has that been your experience? Aduba: There is a myth out in the world that women can't work together. And I don't know if it's a chicken or an egg thing or what, but ... it's not true. ... I think it's an idea that is put out there maybe to divide and conquer. ... It's something that I just have to write off as being a lie. If you bring good people together, regardless of their gender ... they're going to collaborate and support each other and that's going to happen. And that's what I feel like I'm a part of on 'Orange.' AP: What was it like to receive an Emmy nomination? Aduba: The word is bananas or crazy (pause) eyes. ... I just love to act. I like to make good work. And I like to tell good stories, and I'm just thankful, humbled and grateful that people are enjoying it as much as we enjoyed making it, you know? AP: Do you have an Emmy dress picked out? Aduba: I have no idea yet. I dream in color and I have visions of feelings and energies that I would love to feel. AP: How would you like to feel on Emmy night? Aduba: Beautiful and full. Those two things: beautiful and full. _____ Follow Nicole Evatt at http://twitter.com/NicoleEvatt Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'Up the Down Staircase' writer Kaufman dies at 103
Friday Jul 25, 2014
'Up the Down Staircase' writer Kaufman dies at 103

NEW YORK (AP) — Bel Kaufman, the witty and spirited fiction writer, educator and storyteller whose million-selling "Up the Down Staircase" captured the insanity and the humor, the pathos and the poetry of the American high school, died Friday at age 103. Kaufman, the granddaughter of Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem and a vital link to Yiddish culture, died at her Manhattan home after a brief illness, said her daughter, Thea Goldstine. Kaufman was a middle-age teacher and single mother in the mid-1960s when her autobiographical novel was welcomed as a kind of civilian companion to Joseph Heller's "Catch-22," a send-up of the most maddening bureaucracy. Like "Catch-22," even the title of Kaufman's book became a tell-all label, shorthand for all the senseless rules students and educators could never quite follow. "Up the Down Staircase," a scrapbook of letters, notes and memos, follows a few months in the life of the idealistic young Sylvia Barrett, the new teacher at Calvin Coolidge High School. She is a kind soul staggering under a blizzard of administrative nonsense and student impudence. When she's not being reprimanded for her kids' failure to memorize the school's alma mater song, she faces a crowded but endearing class of misfits and other characters, from rebel Joe Ferone to the brown-nosing Harry A. Kagan. When the book was released in 1965, The New York Times' Beverly Grunwald praised Kaufman's "refreshing way of stating the facts, of breaking down statistics into recognizable teenagers, of making you smile, be contrite and infuriated all at once." Kaufman became a heroine for teachers and students worldwide. "Up the Down Staircase" has sold more than 6 million copies and has been translated into 16 languages. It was made into a film of the same name, starring Sandy Dennis, and it helped start a trend of candid education books. Kaufman was delighted to learn that teachers in one of her former schools were warned not to let her see any memos, for fear they would end up in a book. Decades later, another New York teacher-turned-celebrity, Frank McCourt, would praise "Up the Down Staircase" as one of the few honest looks at the public school system. "She got all the craziness of the paperwork and the administrators and supervisors," McCourt, author of the memoirs "Angela's Ashes" and "Teacher Man," said in 2005. She was born Bella Kaufman in Berlin and raised in Odessa, her first language Russian. Her family fled in 1923 to escape the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, and she arrived in the U.S., at age 11, speaking no English. She was forced to begin her American schooling in the first grade, her classmates years younger. The kindness of her teacher inspired her to become an educator, too. Language was a temporary handicap. She caught up quickly, graduated magna cum laude from Hunter College in 1934 and received a master's degree in English from Columbia University two years later. Around the same time, she married Sidney Goldstine, with whom she had two children. Literature was in her blood, not just from her grandfather, but from her mother, Lyalya Kaufman, a popular and prolific writer. After leaving Columbia, Bella Kaufman wrote short fiction, including "La Tigresse," published in Esquire with a small but lasting revision: Kaufman shortened her first name to Bel because the magazine only accepted work by men. During the 1950s and into the '60s, she taught in high schools and community colleges, never suspecting the good fortune of the second half of her life. The turn began in 1962 when her brief essay "From a Teacher's Wastebasket" was published in the Saturday Review of Literature. She received $200 and was soon contacted by an editor at Prentice Hall, Gladys Justin Carr, who told her that her article might make a nice start for a novel. Kaufman resisted. Carr offered an advance. Kaufman spent it. "So I had to write the book," she recalled. The novel took nine months and was finished during the "lowest point" of her life. She had left her husband, her kids were grown and her mother was ailing. She was alone and lonely in a two-room apartment and some pages had to be retyped, she said, because of the teardrops on the manuscript. After "Staircase," she wrote a second novel, "Love, Etc.," and was a popular lecturer and speaker, talking about schools, the arts and her famous grandfather, including in the 2011 documentary "Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness." She received numerous honorary awards, enjoyed tango dancing well into her 90s, and, in 2010, was invited by Hunter College to teach a course in Jewish humor. Her own life was a good punchline. "In schools where I used to patrol the toilets," she once said, "I am today required reading." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Bazinga! 'Big Bang Theory' writers hit Comic-Con
Friday Jul 25, 2014
Bazinga! 'Big Bang Theory' writers hit Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Past "Big Bang" Comic-Con panels have paid off for fans that score tickets. One viewer was awarded a trip to space. And there was a surprise appearance by Johnny Galecki, who hid in the audience in costume until he asked a question. For the second year in a row, the writers and executive producers represented the long-running CBS comedy. Stars Jim Parsons, Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar are without contracts for season 8. (Last week, CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour that she was confident it would be worked out.) Friday's session kicked off with a performance by folk duo Garfunkel and Oates, who sang a fresh take on a song from the series that Helberg's character performed on the show. They changed the lyrics to include, "We couldn't have imagined we'd get to sing this song for 'The Big Bang Theory' fans at Comic-Con." A mock trailer was shown for "Serial Ape-ist 2, Monkey See, Monkey Kill," a low-budget horror film mentioned on the show that was to star Wil Wheaton and Cuoco's Penny. (Wheaton plays himself in a recurring role on the comedy.) After the trailer, Wheaton surprised the audience by walking onstage and joining the panel. The writers dodged any real spoiler-like questions (such as whether characters Sheldon and Amy will ever be intimate), but here are some highlights: —Penny and Leonard's (Cuoco and Galecki) wedding won't happen anytime soon. "They are engaged but the wedding is sometime off in the future. They're not in a rush," said show runner Steve Molaro, who also said there are "no plans for any babies at any point." — Penny will continue to not have a last name. "At this point we've come so far it's a bit of a superstition for us. Wait until we have to wrestle if and when (she and Leonard) get married, how they get around that point," said Molaro. —The comic-book store that burned down in the seventh season will return. "There will be a comic-book store in the future," Molaro said. "The show will not go on without a comic-book store." —That darn elevator in the apartment building won't get fixed. It remains a functional element for the writers. "What the stairwell gave us was a place to have walk-and-talk conversations that was organic," said co-creator Bill Prady. ___ Online: http://www.cbs.com/BigBang Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

2014 Venice Film Festival: Iñárritu, Ferrara and Beauvois in competition
Thursday Jul 24, 2014
2014 Venice Film Festival: Iñárritu, Ferrara and Beauvois in competition

Set to take place from August 26 to September 7 with French composer Alexandre Desplat as president of the jury, the next edition of the Biennale di Venezia will include screenings of 55 international films.Alejandro González Iñárritu will have the opening honors with the world premiere of his film "Birdman." The comedy, which stars Michael Keaton as a washed-up superhero movie actor attempting a comeback, will also be in competition. The Mexican director, whose film "21 Grams" was featured in the official selection in 2003, will compete to follow in the footsteps of the Italian filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi, who won the Golden Lion last year for his documentary "Sacro GRA." US directors are well represented in the festival's selection. Among other US titles premiering in the main competition are David Gordon Green's "Manglehorn," headlined by Al Pacino and Holly Hunter, and Andrew Niccol's "Good Kill" with Ethan Hawke and January Jones. Ramin Bahrani's "99 Homes," a drama about the US housing bubble, is also among the highlights of the competition, along with Abel Ferrara's "Pasolini," a biopic with Willem Dafoe in the title role. French directors Benôit Jacquot ("Farewell, My Queen") and Xavier Beauvois ("Of Gods and Men") will also compete with their latest films, "Trois Cœurs" and "La Rançon de la Gloire," respectively. The out of competition program will include screenings of James Franco's "The Sound and the Fury," the director's cut of Lars Von Trier's "Nymphomaniac Volume II," and Peter Bogdanovich's "She's Funny That Way," a comedy with Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots and Jennifer Aniston. Alexandre Desplat will preside over the jury for this 71st edition of the festival. Known for scoring such iconic films as "The Queen," "The King's Speech" and more recently "The Grand Budapest Hotel," the French composer has earned six Oscar nominations and won a Golden Globe, three César awards, two European Film Awards and a BAFTA. He will be the first film composer to serve as president of the competition panel at the Venice Film Festival. The complete program of the 71st Venice International Film Festival: In competition: Birdman - Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (opening film)The Cut - Fatih AkinA Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence - Roy Andersson99 Homes - Ramin BahraniTales - Rakhshān Bani E'TemadLa Rançon De La Gloire - Xavier BeauvoisHungry Hearts - Saverio CostanzoLe Dernier Coup De Marteau - Alix DelaportePasolini - Abel FerraraManglehorn - David Gordon Green3 Hearts - Benôit JacquotThe Postman's White Nights - Andrei KonchalovskyIl Giovane Favoloso - Mario MartoneSivas - Kaan MujdeciAnime Nere - Francesco MunziGood Kill - Andrew NiccolLoin Des Hommes - David OelhoffenThe Look Of Silence - Joshua OppenheimerFires On The Plain - Shinya TsukamotoRed Amnesia - Xiaoshuai Wang Out of competitionWords With Gods - Guillermo Arriaga, Emir Kusturica, Amos Gitai, Mira Nair, Warwick Thornton, Hector Babenco, Bahman Ghobai, Hideo Nakata, Alex de la IglesiaShe's Funny That Way - Peter BogdanovichDearest - Peter Ho-sun ChanOlive Kitteridge - Lisa CholodenkpBurying The Ex - Joe DantePerez - Edoardo De AngelisLa Zuppa Del Demonio - Davide FerrarioThe Sound And The Fury - James FrancoTsili - Amos GitaiLa Trattativa - Sabina GuzzantiThe Golden Era - Ann Hui (closing film)Make-Up - Im KwontaekThe Humbling - Barry LevinsonThe Old Man Of Belem - Manoel de OliveiraItaly In A Day - Gabriele SalvatoresIn The Basement - Ulrich SeidlThe Boxtrolls - Anthony Stacchi, Annable GrahamNymphomaniac Volume II (long version) Director's Cut - Lars Von Trier HorizonsTheeb - Naji Abu NowarLine Of Credit - Salome AlexiSenza Nessuna Pieta - Michele AlhaiqueCymbeline - Michael AlmereydaNear Death Experience - Benoît Delépine, Gustave KervernLa Vita Oscena - Renato De MariaRéalité - Quentin DupieuxI Spy/ I Spy - Veronika Franz, Severin FialaHill Of Freedom - Hong SangsooBypass - Duane HopkinsThe President - Mohsen Makhmalbaf (opening film)Your Right Mind - Ami Canaan MannBelluscone, Una Storia Siciliana - Franco MarescoNabat - Elchin MusaogluHeaven Knows What - Josh Safdie, Ben SafdieThese Are The Rules - Ognjen SvilivivCourt - Chaitanya Tamhane Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'Frozen' casts its spell over VOD and DVD market
Thursday Jul 24, 2014
'Frozen' casts its spell over VOD and DVD market

After dominating the global box office for weeks, Disney's seasonal animated film now tops the list of the best-selling DVD and VOD titles for the first half of 2014, according to Rentrak.Released in November 2013 and awarded the Oscar for best animated feature last March, "Frozen" recently became the fifth highest-grossing film of all time thanks to its revenues with over 1.2 billion at the worldwide box office. And this success isn't limited to theaters: the feature has also become the top-selling film DVD and VOD title for the period from January to June 2014. "Frozen" was just ahead of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," the second movie in the popular franchise, and "The Wolf of Wall Street," which earned Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar nomination for best actor. Martin Scorsese's latest movie wasn't the only one to benefit from Oscar buzz. Rentrak's ranking of the top selling DVD and VOD titles also includes "12 Years a Slave," which claimed the award for best picture, as well as "American Hustle," "Captain Phillips" and "Gravity," all of which were nominated in some of the most elite Oscar categories. The sequels to the blockbusters "Thor" and "The Hobbit" round out the ranking, along with Johnny Knoxville's comedy "Bad Grandpa." Top 10 best-selling DVD and VOD titles from January to June 2014: 1. "Frozen" (Disney) 2. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (Lionsgate) 3. "The Wolf of Wall Street" (Paramount) 4. "Captain Phillips" (Sony) 5. "Gravity" (2013) (Warner) 6. "12 Years a Slave" (Fox) 7. "American Hustle" (Sony) 8. "Thor: The Dark World" (Disney) 9. "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (Warner) 10. "Bad Grandpa" (Paramount) Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.