Monday Sep 1, 2014

Drama and secrets in 'Downton Abbey' season 5

ITV has unveiled the first trailer for its period drama's next season, which premieres September 21 in the UK.The fifth season of "Downton Abbey" is poised to be an eventful one for the protagonists of the popular series. In its new video, the British network hints at romance -- as Lady Mary...
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TV

Drama and secrets in 'Downton Abbey' season 5
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Drama and secrets in 'Downton Abbey' season 5

ITV has unveiled the first trailer for its period drama's next season, which premieres September 21 in the UK.The fifth season of "Downton Abbey" is poised to be an eventful one for the protagonists of the popular series. In its new video, the British network hints at romance -- as Lady Mary grows closer to Lord Gillingham and the footman Jimmy Kent pursues his forbidden love affairs -- as well as drama, as Lord Grantham fears that his grandson is about to be stolen from the family. There is also a shot that hints that a terrible fire may break out at the estate. The new season, written once again by the show's creator Julian Fellowes, is set in 1924 and finds the family coping with reforms carried out by the first Labour government. "Downton Abbey" has added a number of new cast members for the coming episodes. Anna Chancellor, Sue Johnston, Richard E. Grant, Rade Šerbedžija and Emma Lowndes join the show's stars Maggie Smith, Tom Cullen, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter and Elizabeth McGovern. Watch the new trailer: http://youtu.be/4FZdk7LHQ0o Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Nicki Minaj tops, Iggy Azalea climbs global social media chart: Starcount
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Nicki Minaj tops, Iggy Azalea climbs global social media chart: Starcount

After taking a spot on last week's social media chart by Starcount, Micki Minaj climbs to the top spot for the week of Augut 25-31, riding the wave of the popularity of her new "Anaconda" video and her success at last week's MTV VMAs. Australian artist Iggy Azalea is a new addition to the chart, thanks to her own VMA buzz.As Nicki Minaj's video for "Anaconda" continues to get views -- she pulled in 70 million YouTube views over the past week -- the rapper is also grabbing headlines after her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards alongside Jessie J and Ariana Grande, which included a "wardrobe malfunction" that may have been a planned stunt. Minaj got nearly 300,000 Facebook likes and was talked about by 830,000 on the site, while on Instagram she earned 365,365 new followers. Another highlight of August 24th's VMAs ceremony was Iggy Azalea's performance of her new single "Black Widow" with Rita Ora. The recording artist is enjoying a surge in sales thanks to the performance and is also seeing her star rise on social media. She was talked about by 2.25 million people on Facebook over the course of the week, also earning 300,000 likes on the site and pulling in more than 100,000 new Twitter followers. Starcount's global social media chart for August 25-31:1. Nicki Minaj2. PewDiePie3. Ariana Grande4. Katy Perry5. Taylor Swift6. Shakira7. Iggy Azalea8. Beyoncé9. Enrique Iglesias10. Justin BieberStarcount.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.

David Muir takes over at ABC's 'World News'
Monday Sep 1, 2014
David Muir takes over at ABC's 'World News'

NEW YORK (AP) — Among the stories David Muir will introduce during his first week as ABC's "World News" anchor is one he reported about a generation of Syrian refugees missing out on an education. Besides detailing a hidden aspect of the civil war, the story serves a dual purpose: to signal viewers — and his bosses — that Muir wants to get out of the office for work as much as he can. "A huge part of this for me was a promise that I was not going to be tethered to the anchor desk," said Muir, who officially replaces Diane Sawyer Monday night. Muir, 40, joins NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams and Scott Pelley of the "CBS Evening News" at one of the three jobs generally considered the pinnacle of American broadcast news. Muir is also a generation younger than the 55-year-old Williams and Pelley, 57. Already a familiar face as "World News" weekend anchor and Sawyer's sub on weeknights, Muir has groomed himself for the job since he was a child. As a latchkey child of divorced parents growing up near Syracuse, N.Y., Muir took comfort from the news "family" that appeared on his television each evening. He watched ABC's Peter Jennings, trying to guess who would be named "person of the week." At age 12, he wrote to Syracuse anchorman Ron Curtis for advice on how to get in the business and had an internship at WTVH-TV by the next summer. Muir became so familiar that the newsroom had a spot on the wall to mark how much he'd grown each year. When he was still at nearby Ithaca College, WTVH hired Muir to anchor the weekend news. After five years at WTVH, he moved on to Boston and, in 2003, came to ABC News. Hurricane Katrina was one of the first places his work attracted attention. "All of the elements of being a news anchor he does superbly," said David Westin, the ABC News president who hired Muir. He shows versatility in reporting, interviewing and working in the studio, he said. Network anchors traveling to stories used to be more commonplace, and when Westin appointed Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas to replace Jennings a decade ago, it was on the theory that at least one would be on the road regularly. It has become less frequent, in part due to costs. Muir considers the reporting an important part of his identity and, he believes, what viewers expect of him. "The evening news is evolving rapidly, and I think we have to be extraordinarily nimble," he said. The dinnertime newscasts have been shadowed by predictions of their demise for about as long as Muir has been working. But each has seen its viewership increase over the past year. Muir, who frequently tweets during commercial breaks, said the programs' abilities to sum up the day's most important stories is valuable at a time people are bombarded with information. Andrew Tyndall, a consultant who monitors the content of evening newscasts, said "World News" tends to be faster-paced with a higher story count when Muir is anchor. Muir resists the notion that he packs the broadcast with more material, but said he wants to keep some things short so more important stories have room to breathe. Muir will start "World News" with a new executive producer, Almin Karamehmedovic, who he said shares "a thirst to travel the world." It's difficult to judge at the start where a new anchor will take a broadcast. Westin likened it to a president appointing a new Supreme Court justice — the person may not turn out as liberal or conservative as was initially thought. Tyndall's name is mud at ABC because of a report last winter criticizing the "Disneyfication" of "World News," specifically a greater emphasis on consumer and entertainment news at the expense of global concerns. "When I see reports like that or words like that, I think of the moment when I'm standing in Tahrir Square with a producer and photographer and Mubarak's men come charging in on their horses with their whips," Muir said. "Or when we were in Mogadishu and were fired upon by forces linked to Al Qaida." He added, "I'd be very hard-pressed to tell them that what we're doing out there is 'soft.'" Muir's role will be slightly different than that of his predecessor; ABC said. George Stephanopoulos will be the network's main anchor on breaking news reports. Muir said that's fine, and it ties in to his desire not to always be deskbound. He recently unearthed the letter that the Syracuse anchorman sent back to the advice-seeking 12-year-old, which today sounds prescient. "Competition in television news is keen," Curtis wrote. "There's always room for the right person. It could be you." ____ 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. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Book deal done for Hollywood insider Nikki Finke
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
Book deal done for Hollywood insider Nikki Finke

The elusive Nikki Finke, founder of Hollywood news site Deadline, will have her book edited by the president of publishing house Simon & Schuster."Whenever we publish," Jonathan Karp told the New York Times, "the book will be an event." That comment can be set against the backdrop of Finke's achievements -- founding Deadline in 2006, selling it in a deal worth up to $15m in 2009 -- as well as this week's earlier emergence of an anti-Finke website, NikkiStink.com, that published candid photos, video, quotes and abrasive character statements in a brief but vitriolic campaign against the Hollywood news mogul. Finke left Deadline in 2013 after its owner, Penske Media Corporation, purchased competing outlet Variety, and she began posting to NikkiFinke.com in June 2014. That stopped on August 11, leading to speculation about what lay behind the silence -- ongoing negotiations with her previous employer, it was said. Evidently, there had been other things going on behind the scenes, and Anne Thompson of IndieWire called it on August 25 when she predicted a possible return. "The millionaire blogger could come back, if she so desires," she said, "and write online about topics other than Hollywood, if she or anyone else were interested. Or write for magazines (she has met with Graydon Carter [of Vanity Fair]). Or finish her book." That was before Finke dropped hints about a relocation via her recently revitalized Twitter account, @nikkifinke. "Esteemed @jackshafer thinks I should 'pack up my act and bring it to DC'. Others saying the same thing. Should I?" she tweeted on August 28; it's a city she knows well, having covered hard news there earlier in her career. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Comedian Tracy Morgan still struggling after crash
Friday Aug 29, 2014
Comedian Tracy Morgan still struggling after crash

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — An attorney for Tracy Morgan says the former "Saturday Night Live" actor is having a tough time recovering from a June accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that left a fellow comedian dead. Attorney Benedict Morelli tells The Star-Ledger newspaper (http://bit.ly/1sR1Kbk ) that Morgan relies on a wheelchair and it may be months before he can fully walk again. Morelli says Morgan appears to be making progress, but it will be a month before he is assessed "cognitively." Morgan broke his leg, nose and several ribs in a six-car accident involving his limo bus, and comedian James McNair was killed. The bus was struck by a Wal-Mart truck. The truck driver has pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide and assault by auto. Morgan accused Wal-Mart of negligence in a federal lawsuit. ___ Information from: The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger, http://www.nj.com Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Movies

Toronto prepares for ten days of movie madness
Sunday Aug 31, 2014
Toronto prepares for ten days of movie madness

Schwarzenegger movie "Maggie" might have ducked out of the star premieres, getting its distribution deal sorted before Toronto's 10-day marathon of movie madness begins, but there's still plenty to keep an eye on at the Canadian event with a huge number of films -- 392 from 79 countries -- and an incredible diversity on offer.Canada's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) runs September 4-14, opening with David Dobkin's "The Judge," which has Robert Downey Jr. as the city lawyer returning home to defend his father, town judge Robert Duvall, against a murder charge. At the other end of the fest is closing night film and period drama "A Little Chaos" from Alan Rickman, with the director himself as French king Louis XIV and Kate Winslet as a gardener commissioned to create a new fountain for the regent's Versailles palace. Throughout the festival's run, a track of gala presentations and special screenings welcomes high-profile directors and stars with both mainstream and highbrow appeal: Zhang Yimou drama "Coming Home," Ning Hao's comedy "Breakup Buddies," two Al Pacino films in "Manglehorn" and "The Humbling," Hayden Christensen crime thriller "American Heist," and the exploration of family ties in Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer movie "Black and White" number among them. This year's TIFF also sees a clutch of historical biopics visit its screens: "The Imitation Game" has Benedict Cumberbatch as codebreaker extraordinaire Alan Turing, while Eddie Redmayne of "Les Miserables" becomes quantum physicist Stephen Hawking for "The Theory of Everything," and Tobey Maguire stars as chess enigma Bobby Fischer in "Pawn Sacrifice." September 5 has been nominated Bill Murray Day, with free public screenings of the actor's "Stripes," "Groundhog Day" and "Ghostbusters" in the lead-up to new film premiere "St. Vincent." Several critical darlings from Cannes 2014 also cross the pond, with North American showings for Special Jury Prize winner and Quebec-set "Mommy," painter's portrait "Mr. Turner" with Cannes Best Actor, Timothy Spall, and Un Certain Regard Jury Prize winner "Force Majeure." Other tracks embrace more obtuse fare with contributions from a globe's worth of auteurs in the Masters program, from Jean-Luc Godard and Michael Winterbotton to Hong Sang-soo, Abderrahmane Sissako and this year's Palme d'Or winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan. By contrast, the Wavelengths program focuses in on art and experiment, with material from the reknowned Ken Jacobs, Marseille-set French-Taiwanese production "Journey to the West," a crossbreed of literary influences from the world's oldest living filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira in "The Old Man of Belem," and even Viggo Mortensen's turn as an adventurous 19th-century explorer in "Jauja." Two other schedules are set up to sate fans of international movie-making: the self-explanatory World Cinema program, and TIFF's track for up-and-coming directors. That second bill, Discovery, pulls in a diversity of exciting projects that include the unbelivable true story "Unlucky Plaza" from Ken Kwek of Singapore; the daring "Stories of Our Lives" from an anonymous Kenyan collective; Sao Paulo's "Obra," which juxtaposes architectural structure with hidden family histories; and irreverent high school comedy "Guidance," which swaps the musical pull of "School of Rock" for inappropriate life advice. And that's not even yet touching upon several new additions to this year's edition of the Festival; two streets are transformed into public displays of cinematic and artistic wonder, while the Canadian short film track is joined by an international sibling which boasts two of the event's three shortest works as well as Disney Pixar animation "Lava." Official website: tiff.netYouTube channel: youtube.com/tiff Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Urban Decay's 'Pulp Fiction' makeup collection out this week
Sunday Aug 31, 2014
Urban Decay's 'Pulp Fiction' makeup collection out this week

Urban Decay's collection inspired by the gritty aesthetic of Quentin Tarantino's iconic movie is out September 1.Twenty years ago, "Pulp Fiction" arrived in theaters, leaving its mark on an entire generation of moviegoers. To pay homage to the cult film, Urban Decay decided to do what it does best: cosmetics. In time for fall, the brand is launching makeup products inspired by Mrs. Mia Wallace, the character played by Uma Thurman in the film.The collection, which initially consisted only of a nail polish and a lipstick named for the wig-clad character, was expanded to include a palette of five eyeshadows (including three brand new shades), a lip pencil and a glitter eyeliner. While the theme may be quirky, the quality of the products remains top notch. The 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil, for example, contains jojoba oil and vitamin E for soft, smooth lips. The glitter eyeliner contains peach, cucumber and carrot extracts -- a powerful nourishing cocktail for the skin -- and the Nail Color polish is made without DBP, toluene or formaldehyde. In a nod to one of the film's most iconic scenes, the Bible verse quoted by Jules from the Book of Ezekiel is printed on the back of the eyeshadow palette. The Urban Decay x Pulp Fiction collection goes on sale in September. Prices range from $15 for the Mrs. Mia Wallace Nail Color to $34 for the Pulp Fiction Palette.  Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Pittsburgh-based reality show 'The Chair' to debut
Sunday Aug 31, 2014
Pittsburgh-based reality show 'The Chair' to debut

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Viewers of a new reality show will soon find out what happens when two fledgling directors are given $850,000 to direct their own movies from the same script. "The Chair" debuts Sept. 6 on the cable network Starz and documents the making of both movies. The show will be followed shortly after by the theatrical and digital releases of the two movies at the center of the docuseries. The 10-week series will air in one-hour installments each Saturday through mid-November. It's the brainchild of Chris Moore, who produced "American Pie" and "Good Will Hunting." Both movies in the docuseries are based on a script by Dan Schoffer called "How Soon is Now." They're coming-of-age stories about friends who return home to western Pennsylvania during their first Thanksgiving break in college. Shane Dawson's adaptation, "Not Cool," is a broader comedy similar in tone to "Superbad" and other teen films, he said. Dawson, a 26-year-old Los Angeles filmmaker known for his YouTube shorts, stars in his version. The other version, "Hollidaysburg," is a more "thoughtful, introspective and grounded" approach, said Anne Martemucci, a 32-year-old screenwriter and actress who makes films with her husband. Her movie is named for a small town near State College, where Martemucci spent the first 20 years of her life. "It was really important for me to make a teen movie that was based on my experiences," Martemucci said. "It was just too good that I got to make a coming-of-age movie in the place where I came of age." Setting the movies in and around Pittsburgh wasn't just a matter of artistic license. The project was based there because a key partner on the project is Pittsburgh-bred producer Zachary Quinto. Quinto and partner Corey Moosa's production company, "Before the Door," have networked with the western Pennsylvania's burgeoning film industry, including movie incubator Steeltown Entertainment and Point Park University. More than 100 Point Park students and alumni worked on the series or one of the two movies or served as paid interns. "You really can't recreate that any more than you can recreate a play in the classroom," said Ronald Lindblom, the vice president and artistic director of Point Park's Conservatory of Performing Arts. "They spent several weeks, hands-on, in a day-to-day operation." The final two episodes will include audience reaction to the two movies, as well as behind-the-scenes information about the movies' release and marketing. While Moore expects the show will serve as a promo for the movies, and vice versa, he also expects some moviegoers will see both films without realizing they're part of this grand experiment. "They'll be like, 'Is that allowed? Are you allowed to release two movies with the same plot?'" Moore said. Viewers can vote on which film they like better by completing an online survey. The winning director will get $250,000, but both say the experience and exposure were invaluable. "My whole goal was just to get my first movie made — whether it was terrible or whether it was amazing," Dawson said. "Luckily, the movie's great." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

5 takeaways from a punch-less summer box office
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
5 takeaways from a punch-less summer box office

NEW YORK (AP) — The movie of the summer might have been Marvel's irreverent hit "Guardians of the Galaxy," the top domestic film at the box office. Or it could have been Michael Bay's sequel-reboot hybrid "Transformers: Age of Extinction," the lone movie to even approach $1 billion globally. But really, the movie of the summer was "Star Wars: Episode VII." Even though it's not due in theaters for more than a year, no other film captured the popcorn-hunger of moviegoers quite like J.J. Abrams' resurrection of George Lucas' space opera. As the blockbuster-to-come went into production over the summer, every bit of casting news was eagerly consumed; every hint of its plot was carefully parsed. Nothing can stop it, not even the broken leg of an aged Hans Solo (Harrison Ford), at the mercy of a mechanical door on his trusty Millennium Falcon, no less. The rabid interest for "Star Wars" is good news for Hollywood's 2015. No so much for its 2014. When the season sputters to a close on Monday, the summer box office — regardless of whatever is added to the coffers by weekend front-runner "Guardians" — will be about 15 percent down from last year's summer, making it Hollywood's worst summer in at least seven years. Why did this summer fail to ignite at the box office? Here are five take-aways: — THE MOVIES SIMPLY WEREN'T GOOD ENOUGH: "Maybe we had a lot of titles that looked good on paper," says Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., whose Adam Sandler comedy "Blended" and largely acclaimed Tom Cruise action flick "Edge of Tomorrow" found lukewarm receptions. "The audience didn't go for it. We have to do better." Many in Hollywood will often remind that the movies, after all, are ultimately a content-driven business. The self-mocking "Guardians," starring Chris Pratt, and the operatic apocalyptic tale "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" won the most cheers from moviegoers and critics alike. But many of the summer's top releases, like the Melissa McCarthy road trip "Tammy" and the flopping neo-noir sequel "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," simply weren't up to snuff. One likely best picture-nominee did emerge over the summer, though: Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," a unique coming-of-age film made over 12 years. — SEQUELS DIDN'T POP: Make no mistake about it: Sequels still rule the summer. Of the top 10 films at the box office, how many do you think were original? Zero. The most popular original movie — not a sequel, reboot or adaptation of a well-known property — was the Seth Rogen comedy "Neighbors," in 11th place. But many sequels also showed growing audience fatigue. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" performed worse than all four previous "Spider-Man" movies. DreamWorks' "How to Train Your Dragon 2," also didn't rally the box office like it was expected to, and Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables 3" signaled the end of an already elderly franchise. Sequels are expected to stomp through the summer, but this year none surpassed $250 million domestically. — THE CENTER IS SHIFTING: Two of the top movies of the year ("Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "The LEGO Movie") were released in spring, usually the homely sidekick to summer's dashing hero. And the summer's biggest hit, "Guardians of the Galaxy," wasn't released until the dog days of August. "The studios are starting to realize: Let's take advantage of the soft spots in the calendar," says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. Not only that, they're also increasingly focusing overseas. "Transformers" was launched not in North America but in China, where it was also partially shot. And it was rewarded for it: The film made more money in China than in North America. Even the summer's cult hit, the futuristic allegory "Snowpiercer," was a distinctly international production made in South Korea and largely seen not in theaters but on video-on-demand. — FEWER MOVIES: The summer was missing a few of its expected tentpoles that by themselves could have moved the needle on the overall box office. Following Paul Walker's death, "Fast & Furious 7" was postponed until next year. Pixar didn't have its usual summer entry. But overall, the studios are largely pulling back on their output, concentrating resources on fewer but bigger films. This has meant slightly less competition in the summer and more carefully guarded profit margins. The summer may have been down at the movies, but the studios had fewer high-profile bombs than they did last year, a record-setting but volatile summer. (Remember "Lone Ranger"?) Instead, the studios downshifted for more dependable results. Budgets may look fine in Hollywood, but they don't look as good for theater owners. — GET 'EM NEXT YEAR: "It'll happen next year," says Universal distribution head Nikki Rocco. "The business is cyclical." The hope is that the constant ebb and flow of the movie business will next year tilt back toward buffo box office. The year boasts arguably the two most lucrative franchises in movies: "Star Wars" and "Avengers." When "Avengers: Age of Ultron" kicks off on May 1, nothing less than record-breaking will be expected. The first "Avengers" film in 2012 was the highest grossing summer movie ever. It won't be until December that "Episode VII" hits theaters, but nothing proves more than "Star Wars" — a series in which the last three films are almost universally derided — that franchise fervor springs eternal. ___ 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.

VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams

VENICE, Italy (AP) — VENICE, Italy — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press: ___ LEVINSON PAYS TRIBUTE TO ROBIN WILLIAMS Filmmaker Barry Levinson, who directed Robin Williams in one of his best-loved roles, says the late comedian was an extraordinary performer. Levinson — in Venice to screen film fest entry "The Humbling" — directed "Good Morning, Vietnam." Williams gained dramatic credibility, and an Academy Award nomination, with his performance as a fast-talking army radio DJ during the Vietnam War in the 1987 movie. "He was brilliant and sensitive in ways that were extraordinary," Levinson said of Williams, who committed suicide Aug. 11 at the age of 63. At a Venice news conference, the director recalled how Williams had improvised scenes with Vietnamese performers on the set of the movie. "And his interest in the people was so fascinating that he was able to pull out their behavior and how they thought and functioned, which really brought a life to 'Good Morning Vietnam' up and above what the story details were," Levinson said. "He had an enormous passion for people, a great sense of humanity and he was an extraordinary human being." —By Adam Egan ___ LENA DUNHAM GIVES DO-IT-YOURSELF ADVICE VENICE, Italy — Lena Dunham has some advice for young women hoping to get a foot in the showbiz door: Do it yourself. The creator and star of hit sitcom "Girls" says technology has created new possibilities for creative expression. "The biggest question that I get from young women is 'How do I get into the position that you are in?'" said Dunham, who got her start posting short films on YouTube. "Making a movie doesn't have to be something that you do on location with actors. It can be something that exists in your everyday life. So that whenever I talk to young women I encourage them to take that road and make their own work and not to wait for permission to have their stories get told." Dunham, who got an Emmy nomination this year for her role on "Girls," was speaking at a Venice Film Festival event on Saturday sponsored by Miu Miu Women's Tales, a series of short films by directors including Zoe Cassavetes and Miranda July. Organizers noted that July's film had been viewed online 670,000 times since being posted. "That's more than saw the most recent Britney Spears video," Dunham said. Dunham and "Girls" producer Jenni Konner also shared some trade secrets — including their exacting method for creating scripts for the HBO show. Konner said it involved "a lot of Shonda Rhimes viewing ... and then take a nap, and then maybe watch one more 'Scandal.' And then we'll stay up all night writing." —By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless ___ QUICKQUOTE: Andrew Garfield "This (beard) is just for me, because I never thought in my life that I would go through puberty and it happened. ... I'm just riding it out. I'm going to see where it goes, so yeah, it could last a while. It's not for a role, particularly, it's just a point of pride on my face." — The "99 Homes" actor, asked whether his luxuriant facial hair had been grown for a role. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

Nicki Minaj tops, Iggy Azalea climbs global social media chart: Starcount
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Nicki Minaj tops, Iggy Azalea climbs global social media chart: Starcount

After taking a spot on last week's social media chart by Starcount, Micki Minaj climbs to the top spot for the week of Augut 25-31, riding the wave of the popularity of her new "Anaconda" video and her success at last week's MTV VMAs. Australian artist Iggy Azalea is a new addition to the chart, thanks to her own VMA buzz.As Nicki Minaj's video for "Anaconda" continues to get views -- she pulled in 70 million YouTube views over the past week -- the rapper is also grabbing headlines after her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards alongside Jessie J and Ariana Grande, which included a "wardrobe malfunction" that may have been a planned stunt. Minaj got nearly 300,000 Facebook likes and was talked about by 830,000 on the site, while on Instagram she earned 365,365 new followers. Another highlight of August 24th's VMAs ceremony was Iggy Azalea's performance of her new single "Black Widow" with Rita Ora. The recording artist is enjoying a surge in sales thanks to the performance and is also seeing her star rise on social media. She was talked about by 2.25 million people on Facebook over the course of the week, also earning 300,000 likes on the site and pulling in more than 100,000 new Twitter followers. Starcount's global social media chart for August 25-31:1. Nicki Minaj2. PewDiePie3. Ariana Grande4. Katy Perry5. Taylor Swift6. Shakira7. Iggy Azalea8. Beyoncé9. Enrique Iglesias10. Justin BieberStarcount.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.

'Firewatch' woos with debut trailer
Monday Sep 1, 2014
'Firewatch' woos with debut trailer

The first footage from 2015 game "Firewatch" offers exploration, danger and a narrative hook.Delivered as part of a panel talk at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, the debut trailer for "Firewatch" whets appetites for next year's PC, Mac and Linux game. Alumni from award-winning studios Telltale Games ("The Walking Dead"), Double Fine ("The Cave"), Klei Entertainment ("Mark of the Ninja") and 2K Marin ("BioShock 2") are among those working on the forest exploration title. Another member of the team provided the soundtrack for housebound mystery "Gone Home," one of whose supporting characters was involved in forest conservation, just as with the "Firewatch" protagonist. Players inhabit the world of Henry, a fire lookout based in the wilds of Wyoming, and one whose ambiguous relationship with his radio supervisor Delilah shapes the experience of the game's first trailer. Capable though he may be, Henry's not a gung-ho hero, throwing caution to the wind. "I don't think we're safe. This job's not safe," he appeals. "Do people die out here?" "Just stay in your tower, OK?" advises Delilah. "Stay in there ... and watch." But if the trailer is anything to go by, Henry's not the type to stay put. Firewatch - PAX 2014 Reveal Trailer: youtu.be/d02lhvvVSy8Official website: firewatchgame.com Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Israel's 'The Farewell Party' finds humor in death
Sunday Aug 31, 2014
Israel's 'The Farewell Party' finds humor in death

VENICE, Italy (AP) — With dozens of films jostling for attention at the Venice Film Festival, it takes originality to make an impact. Two Israeli filmmakers have done it by refusing to accept that death is no laughing matter. "The Farewell Party" centers on a group of Jerusalem retirement-home residents who create a euthanasia machine to put a dying friend out of his misery — and then face a moral dilemma when others come seeking the same service. The movie treats assisted suicide — illegal in Israel and many other countries — with large doses of comedy, an idea some may find off-putting. But directors Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit insist that the movie's unusual tone, with shoots of laughter and absurdity illuminating the darkness, simply reflects real life. Maymon said the seed of the film was the death of his ex-boyfriend's elderly grandmother. "We felt like death released her from pain and suffering — but then the paramedics came into the house and tried to resuscitate her for half an hour," the director said during an interview in Venice. "They were fighting for her life like she was 16 years old. It was so absurd, and from this absurd moment the idea came. "There was a funny moment when her son told the paramedics: 'If you wake her up, you are taking her with you.'" The directors know not everyone will find that funny. Granit said some people had been scandalized by the idea for their film. "They told us, 'How can you laugh about such a thing?'" she said. "But we really believed in this movie, what it says. It's very important for us to raise these questions." And, she said, "We love to take risks." Maymon and Granit have a record of tackling tough social issues with humor in their three previous shorts and one feature, "Mortgage," about a couple battling to save their home at any cost. The script for "The Farewell Party" won the "best pitch" award at the Berlin Film Festival, but finding a producer proved tricky in Germany, where many oppose assisted suicide because of its association with Nazi euthanasia programs. Even when the money was in place, casting also had its glitches. The protagonists in "The Farewell Party" are played by well-known Israeli actors, including veteran comedian Ze'ev Revah as Yehezkel, the amateur inventor of the mercy-killing machine. Maymon said Revah consulted his rabbi before agreeing to take the part. Some other actors didn't show up for auditions. "It was very hard for them to deal with this subject because they are old and they felt that it's too close for them," he said. Israel's film industry is vibrant for a country its size, but the Israeli-Palestinian conflict sometimes shadows its productions on the international stage. Another Israeli-funded film at the festival, "Villa Touma," is at the center of a political spat after Israeli Arab director Suha Arraf submitted it as a Palestinian entry, sparking calls in Israel for the director to give the Israeli money back. Israeli scripts have been the basis of several Hollywood hits, however, including the television series "Homeland." Maymon's last feature, the sumo-wrestling comedy "A Matter of Size," is being remade in Hollywood, and it's easy to imagine "The Farewell Party" getting the same treatment. The international audience in Venice reacted warmly; the Hollywood Reporter called in a charming film that approached its subject "with wisdom, sensitivity and a welcome strain of humor." It also offers plum roles for older actors. The main cast members do everything from pratfalls to poignant exchanges and even have a nude scene. And, the directors say, the film's themes are universal. "It talks about friendship and about love and about separation from someone you love," Granit said. "Our story tells an international story that anyone can relate to." ___ Follow Jill Lawless at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams

VENICE, Italy (AP) — VENICE, Italy — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press: ___ LEVINSON PAYS TRIBUTE TO ROBIN WILLIAMS Filmmaker Barry Levinson, who directed Robin Williams in one of his best-loved roles, says the late comedian was an extraordinary performer. Levinson — in Venice to screen film fest entry "The Humbling" — directed "Good Morning, Vietnam." Williams gained dramatic credibility, and an Academy Award nomination, with his performance as a fast-talking army radio DJ during the Vietnam War in the 1987 movie. "He was brilliant and sensitive in ways that were extraordinary," Levinson said of Williams, who committed suicide Aug. 11 at the age of 63. At a Venice news conference, the director recalled how Williams had improvised scenes with Vietnamese performers on the set of the movie. "And his interest in the people was so fascinating that he was able to pull out their behavior and how they thought and functioned, which really brought a life to 'Good Morning Vietnam' up and above what the story details were," Levinson said. "He had an enormous passion for people, a great sense of humanity and he was an extraordinary human being." —By Adam Egan ___ LENA DUNHAM GIVES DO-IT-YOURSELF ADVICE VENICE, Italy — Lena Dunham has some advice for young women hoping to get a foot in the showbiz door: Do it yourself. The creator and star of hit sitcom "Girls" says technology has created new possibilities for creative expression. "The biggest question that I get from young women is 'How do I get into the position that you are in?'" said Dunham, who got her start posting short films on YouTube. "Making a movie doesn't have to be something that you do on location with actors. It can be something that exists in your everyday life. So that whenever I talk to young women I encourage them to take that road and make their own work and not to wait for permission to have their stories get told." Dunham, who got an Emmy nomination this year for her role on "Girls," was speaking at a Venice Film Festival event on Saturday sponsored by Miu Miu Women's Tales, a series of short films by directors including Zoe Cassavetes and Miranda July. Organizers noted that July's film had been viewed online 670,000 times since being posted. "That's more than saw the most recent Britney Spears video," Dunham said. Dunham and "Girls" producer Jenni Konner also shared some trade secrets — including their exacting method for creating scripts for the HBO show. Konner said it involved "a lot of Shonda Rhimes viewing ... and then take a nap, and then maybe watch one more 'Scandal.' And then we'll stay up all night writing." —By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless ___ QUICKQUOTE: Andrew Garfield "This (beard) is just for me, because I never thought in my life that I would go through puberty and it happened. ... I'm just riding it out. I'm going to see where it goes, so yeah, it could last a while. It's not for a role, particularly, it's just a point of pride on my face." — The "99 Homes" actor, asked whether his luxuriant facial hair had been grown for a role. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

After injury, Kings of Leon ready for stage
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
After injury, Kings of Leon ready for stage

NEW YORK (AP) — A brotherly reunion is coming to the City of Brotherly Love: Family band Kings of Leon will play its first show Sunday in Philadelphia since drummer Nathan Followill injured his ribs. The group will headline the second night of the "Budweiser Made In America" festival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Kanye West and Steve Aoki will perform on the first night of the two-day festival over Labor Day weekend. Kings of Leon lead singer Caleb Followill said in an interview Friday that his younger brother is "doing good" since he broke his ribs after the band's tour bus driver was forced to stop short when a pedestrian crossed the street in front of the vehicle. "He has this protective gear that he's wearing that's there to help him," Caleb said. "(On Thursday), we went in (to rehearsal) and we kind of loosened up a little bit, played five or six songs. (On Friday), we went in and played more, but by the end of it he was definitely tired." The band includes youngest brother Jared Followill, who plays bass, and cousin Matthew Followill, who plays guitar. They cancelled two weeks of shows after the Aug. 9 incident and were set to mark a comeback on Thursday, but decided to postpone more shows. "Hopefully he continues to heal," Caleb said. "We're going to throw a long set at him this weekend so he better bring his A-game, otherwise you're going to have a three-piece up there with no drums." Following the Jay Z-curated festival, the Grammy-winning band will play 16 shows before their U.S. tour wraps Oct. 5 in Irvine, California. They've surprised each of the audiences on the current tour by playing an older song they hadn't performed live in years, or a cover. They sang Robyn's cult hit "Dancing On My Own" at Lollapalooza this summer. Caleb laughs when asked if the group would perform a Jay Z song Sunday: "That would be a first for us." "I was online looking up all the artists that have come from Philadelphia," he said of potential covers. "There's quite a well of talent that has come out of that city." Sunday's line-up in Philadelphia will also include Pharrell, Tiesto and Girl Talk. The festival, in its third year, will also play in Los Angeles over the weekend for the first time. Imagine Dragons will headline Saturday, and West will switch coasts to play Sunday. Kings of Leon had its musical breakthrough in 2009 when the rock song "Use Somebody" crossed over to the pop charts and won three Grammy Awards, including record of the year. They released their sixth album, "Mechanical Bull," last year, and Caleb said he's been itching to write new songs. "I am very excited for the future," he said. "I think we'll really go in there and write some songs we're proud of, but at the same time, I'm ready to get back on the radio, so I want to write some hits." ___ Online: http://tour.kingsofleon.com/ http://a.madeinamericafest.com/landing/ ___ Follow Mesfin Fekadu on twitter.com/MusicMesfin Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.