Thursday May 5, 2016

Celebrities jam Havana streets for Chanel's Cuban takeover

HAVANA (AP) — The afternoon sun was still baking central Havana when Mabel Fernandez and her 14-year daughter took their spot facing the Prado, a grand colonial boulevard hung with lights and loudspeakers for a fashion show by French luxury label Chanel. "This is...
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TV

Celebrities jam Havana streets for Chanel's Cuban takeover
Thursday May 5, 2016
Celebrities jam Havana streets for Chanel's Cuban takeover

HAVANA (AP) — The afternoon sun was still baking central Havana when Mabel Fernandez and her 14-year daughter took their spot facing the Prado, a grand colonial boulevard hung with lights and loudspeakers for a fashion show by French luxury label Chanel. "This is something that we've never seen in Cuba," Fernandez said, delighted to be exposing her fashion-crazy daughter to a world of supermodels and Hollywood actors that the girl had only seen in TV and movies. But as evening fell on Tuesday, hundreds of state security officers swarmed the area, pushing Fernandez and other Havana residents behind police lines blocks away. "We couldn't see anything," Fernandez lamented Wednesday morning. "It wasn't right. My daughter was dying to see it." With the people of the city held at a distance, actors Tilda Swinton and Vin Diesel, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and Cuban music stars Gente de Zona and Omara Portuondo watched top models sashay down the Prado in casual summer clothes seemingly inspired by the art deco elegance of pre-revolutionary Cuba. Afterward, attendees were taxied in antique American cars to Havana's Cathedral Plaza, an 18th-century Baroque gem transformed into a beach-themed party backdrop by the erection of a giant tiki-style lounge over its colonial cobblestones. Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld, 82, arrived in a blue-and-cream 1957 Ford Fairlane, picking his way gingerly toward the VIP section of the tiki hut as his gold-sequined jacket glinted in the lights of the dance floor. Models gyrated to a brief private concert by French-Cuban duo Ibeyi as waitresses handed out hors d'oeuvres and cocktails to the gathered crowd. It was a startling sight in a country officially dedicated to social equality and the rejection of material wealth — the temporary privatization of two of the capital's most iconic sites by an international corporation dedicated to selling exclusivity and luxury. The show was the most extreme manifestation to date of the hot new status Cuba has assumed in the international art and cultural scene since the December 2014 declaration of detente with the United States. President Barack Obama visited in March, the Rolling Stones performed in Havana the same week, the first U.S. cruise in nearly four decades docked Monday and the latest installment of the multibillion-dollar "Fast and Furious" action movie franchise is filming here now. Chanel welcomed the chance to show its creations in an unusual spot. "To explore new horizons is a way to fire imaginations and renew the vision of our brand while sharing the culture and heritage of the locations chosen for our fashion shows," the label said. Many Cubans say they are delighted their country is opening itself to the world, offering ordinary people a firsthand look at celebrities and extravagant productions. But for others, the conversion of Cuba into a stage set and playground for some of the world's wealthiest people fuels disenchantment with what they call Cuba's failure to deliver on promises of sustainable socialist equality. Among those disappointed was Reinaldo Fonseca, a local model, who stood outside the show Tuesday night with a group of friends similarly trying to make their careers in fashion. "It's a shame they don't let us pass," he said. ___ Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Michael Weissenstein from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

TV series focusing on drug lord 'El Chapo' in development
Wednesday May 4, 2016
TV series focusing on drug lord 'El Chapo' in development

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The History Channel says it's developing a drama series focusing on the drug lord known as "El Chapo." The series will explore global drug wars through Joaquin Guzman's story, the channel said. The drama's title is "Cartel," preceded by a hashtag. A pilot script was ordered from writer-producer Chris Brancato, whose credits include Netflix's "Narcos," the History Channel said Tuesday. Last year, Guzman had broken out of prison and was on the run when he had a secret meeting with Mexican actress Kate del Castillo and Sean Penn. Penn wrote about it for Rolling Stone magazine. Accounts have varied as to whether Guzman wanted to discuss a film based on his life or was intent on meeting del Castillo. Mexican officials said the unlikely meeting helped lead to Guzman's capture in January. Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Learn to sing with Christina Aguilera
Tuesday May 3, 2016
Learn to sing with Christina Aguilera

Grammy-winning artist Christina Aguilera is offering an online master classThe classes, which will focus on breathing technique, stretching vocal range and phrasing, have been put together by MasterClass, the platform set up by David Rogier and Aaron Rasmussen with a simple aim, to give anyone anywhere with an internet connection "access to genius".  "This class is for all the artists out there trying to find their voice. I'm proud to share through MasterClass my love of music and all of the vocal techniques I've learned throughout the years," said Christina Aguilera. The singer joins a virtual faculty of teachers that already includes Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Serena Williams and James Patterson. Enrolment is open to anyone via the platform's website and classes are charged at $90 each.  Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

New trailer sheds more light on ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'
Tuesday May 3, 2016
New trailer sheds more light on ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'

The follow up to 2014's Michael Bay-produced "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" promises fans of the original comics more to get excited aboutWhen the new film lands at US cinemas on June 3 the turtles will face off against a veritable army of enemies including Baxter Stockman, Bebop, Rocksteady and Krang. To up the ante further, Shredder, their most famous foe, defeated at the end of the last movie, has also managed to escape police custody.  As well as an increased cast of villains, the new film will see the introduction of Casey Jones, the hockey mask-wearing vigilante. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

David Attenborough at 90: still an eager student of nature
Monday May 2, 2016
David Attenborough at 90: still an eager student of nature

LOS ANGELES (AP) — David Attenborough, who turns 90 on Sunday, isn't resting on his laurels or any other element of the natural world he's explored so fully. The man behind acclaimed documentaries including "Life on Earth" and "The Life of Birds" is giving insects their TV close-up in Smithsonian Channel's three-part "Micro Monsters with David Attenborough," premiering at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday and airing through May 18. He will reprise his role as narrator for "Planet Earth II," the BBC's recently announced sequel to the awe-inspiring 2006 project. And he brushes aside any notion that his curiosity or drive might flag after more than 100 films and series (as producer, writer or presenter, and at times all three) and some 25 books. The sheer joy of continuing to work and learn keeps him "wanting to get up in the morning and have a go at it," he said in an email. "It would be terrible if you knew it all, and nobody ever will." The British-born Attenborough, who plans to spend his birthday with family and friends, weighed in recently with The Associated Press on his six-decade legacy, the Earth's future and the importance of getting to know bugs. AP: What do people fail to understand about insects? Attenborough: Knowledge is the great thing, superstition is the enemy. (It's) superstition that all spiders bite, or are poisonous ... so the more you know about these things, the better you are. If you know that a millipede is actually a vegetarian and it only has tiny little mouth parts and it can't possibly bite you, then you are going to allow a millipede to crawl over your hand with no concern whatever. On the other hand, if you also know that a centipede which has fewer legs and moves rather faster and is actually inclined to be a hunter and it has a very poisonous bite, then you don't handle a centipede. AP: To what do you attribute your enduring curiosity and energy? Attenborough: I've never met a child who's not interested in natural history. Just the simplest thing, a 5-year-old turning over a stone and seeing a slug and (saying) 'What a treasure!' (and) 'Well, how does it live, what are those things on the front?' Kids love it! Kids understand the natural world is fascinating. So the question is (how does) anyone lose the interest in nature? AP: What are the most critical problems facing the natural world today? Attenborough: The rise in global temperature due to climate change is a very, very serious worry indeed. Children around the world today are going to inherit a very different world from the one I inherited — one which is much more crowded and one which has more severe problems than anybody could have supposed, certainly when I was a child. ... I believe that if we find ways of generating and storing power from renewable resources, we will make the problem with oil and coal and other carbon fuels disappear because, economically, we will wish to use these other methods. And if we do that, a huge step will have been taken toward solving the problems of the Earth. AP: As you turn 90, what do you count among your top achievements? Attenborough: Television has become the visual medium which has really dealt with natural history in an unparalleled way, and the coverage of natural history by television is one of television's feathers in its cap. ... I went into television and particularly natural history because it was fun. ... I reckon that I'm very fortunate in that I can look back and say, 'Yes, it was worthwhile doing.' We get letters from everywhere, from Russia, from China, from Hungary, from all kinds of people who say that they were moved and saw the value of natural history because of television. ___ Online: http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/ ___ Lynn Elber is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/lynn-elber and she can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Lynn Elber from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Movies

John Boyega goes from 'Star Wars' to London's Old Vic stage
Wednesday May 4, 2016
John Boyega goes from 'Star Wars' to London's Old Vic stage

LONDON (AP) — John Boyega is going from space battles in "Star Wars" to earthbound struggles onstage at London's Old Vic Theatre. The theater says the 24-year-old actor will get his first West End starring role in "Woyzeck," the story of a soldier who commits an act of brutal violence. The new version of Georg Buchner's 19th-century drama is written by Jack Thorne, the playwright behind "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." Boyega, who played Finn in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," is currently filming the eighth instalment in the sci-fi saga. The play, which opens in February 2017, was announced Wednesday as part of the Old Vic's 2016-2017 season. The lineup also includes a production of Shakespeare's "King Lear" starring Glenda Jackson and a 20th-anniversary revival of Yasmina Reza's global hit "Art." Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Jack Huston and Emilia Clarke set to star in Phillip Noyce's 'Above Suspicion'
Wednesday May 4, 2016
Jack Huston and Emilia Clarke set to star in Phillip Noyce's 'Above Suspicion'

Jack Huston and "Game of Thrones" actress Emilia Clarke have been confirmed to star in the Philip Noyce thriller "Above Suspicion" reports Deadline.The film will be based on the book by New York Times columnist Joe Sharkey, which tells the true story of a newly-married FBI agent who after been assigned to an Appalachian mountain town in Kentucky starts an affair with an local woman. She becomes his star informant and sees him as her means of escape from her impoverished life in the small mining town. However the story ends in disaster, leading to her murder and the first ever conviction of an FBI agent for murder. Production is due to start later this month. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Developer of proposed Lucas museum looking outside Chicago
Tuesday May 3, 2016
Developer of proposed Lucas museum looking outside Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) — The wife of "Star Wars" creator George Lucas said Tuesday that opposition to a Chicago lakefront museum by a parks advocacy group has prompted a search outside the city for a site. Friends of the Parks sued last year to stop plans to build the art museum near Soldier Field on a site that is now a parking lot. The nonprofit group says the plans violated laws restricting development along Lake Michigan. And in a statement Tuesday, the parks group indicated it would be opposed to an alternate site nearby. Lucas' wife, financial executive Mellody Hobson, expressed frustration at the organization's opposition, saying she and Lucas worked for two years to finalize "what would be the largest philanthropic gift to an American city in the 21st century." "We are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago," Hobson said in a statement. "If the museum is forced to leave, it will be because of the Friends of the Parks and that is no victory for anyone. ... In refusing to accept the extraordinary public benefits of the museum, the Friends of the Parks has proven itself to be no friend of Chicago." The latest proposal the parks group opposes calls for demolition of part of the McCormick Place convention complex, which is also by the lake, and replacing it with the museum. Hobson said that plan would create 12 additional acres of parkland. The plan requires the borrowing of nearly $1.2 billion to replace the demolished structure, extending five taxes beyond their expiration date and state approval. The museum itself would be paid for by Lucas at a cost of $743 million. "We don't think it's appropriate to exchange building on lakefront land for other things — even if it's park land. It's inappropriate to build on public trust land," said Friends of the Parks executive director Juanita Irizarry. "Mr. Lucas may leave. That is ultimately his decision. But there are many other viable sites. Chicagoans should not be held hostage to one man's desires," she said. "The public trust must be protected and we will continue to fight for our lakefront to remain open, free and clear." The city of Chicago and the Chicago Park District on Monday requested a suspension of the legal fight over the museum as they worked on an alternative site plan, and Friends of the Parks agreed. The city withdrew that request Tuesday. "Friends of the Parks has taken inconsistent and incoherent positions, making it impossible to work with them," Shannon Breymaier, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said in a statement. Irizarry said the group would either amend its existing lawsuit to target the McCormick site or file a new suit, attempting to apply the same public trust and lakefront-protection principles it holds regarding the parking lot site. Lucas chose Chicago over San Francisco for the museum after saying the California city was "doodling around," while Chicago officials aggressively pursued the project. Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Is Michael Fassbender ‘Entering Hades'?
Tuesday May 3, 2016
Is Michael Fassbender ‘Entering Hades'?

Versatile Oscar-nominated actor, Michael Fassbender is in talks to play real-life serial killer, Jack UnterwegerThe film, "Entering Hades" is based on John Leake's book about Unterweger, an Austrian journalist who led a secret double life - when he wasn't investigating crimes, he was committing them. He murdered 11 people before being caught. According to Variety, the script is undergoing rewrites with Alexander Dinelaris ("Birdman") and while a production team is in place, no director has yet been named. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Is Kiersey Clemons joining the ‘Flatliners' cast?
Tuesday May 3, 2016
Is Kiersey Clemons joining the ‘Flatliners' cast?

Sony is remaking its 1990 thriller Flatliners for a Millennial audience and like the original movie, it is putting together a strong ensemble cast.Ellen Page has been involved with the project since October and in recent weeks Diego Luna and Nina Dobrev have been linked too. On Tuesday, according to Variety, the cast swelled to four with the addition of Kiersey Clemons. The new take on the story of medical students ‘flatlining' in order to have near-death experiences, will be directed by Niesl Arden Oplev and production is expected to begin in July. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Events

Actor Danny Glover to get award at Adirondack historic site
Thursday May 5, 2016
Actor Danny Glover to get award at Adirondack historic site

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Actor Danny Glover will receive a human rights award at a historic site in the Adirondacks honoring abolitionist John Brown. The first Spirit of John Brown Freedom Awards will be presented Saturday at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site near Lake Placid. Organizers said Glover is expected to attend. Other recipients are Albany civil rights leader Alice Green and the late Brother Yusuf Abdul-Wasi Burgess, a youth advocate. Glover is a long-time political activist for humanitarian causes. He's known for leading roles in the "Lethal Weapon" films, "The Color Purple" and "Angels in the Outfield" as well as many other movies and television shows. John Brown was hanged in 1859 for trying to start an armed slave revolt with a raid on a U.S. arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. He's buried outside Lake Placid. Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Book Review: 'Redemption Road' by John Hart
Wednesday May 4, 2016
Book Review: 'Redemption Road' by John Hart

"Redemption Road" (St. Martins/Dunne), by John Hart John Hart's first four novels earned two Edgar Allan Poe Awards and one nomination, as well as a myriad of other awards. Five years have gone by since his fourth novel, 2011's "The Iron House," was published, but "Redemption Road" proves the wait was worth it. While Hart's previous mysteries were atmospheric tales enhanced by aspects of the Southern novel, "Redemption Road" is fueled by more of a thriller plot with acute attention to its well-sculpted characters. As the title implies, Hart's novel is about redemption, but also about trust and betrayal, and those emotional roads that most of us never want to travel. Deeply troubled North Carolina police detective Elizabeth Black prowls the streets of her hometown, wondering if she will be charged with murder. While rescuing kidnapped teenager Channing Shore, Elizabeth killed the two men who were sexually assaulting the teen in a desolate house. The case became a political hand grenade. Channing, who is from a wealthy family, and Elizabeth are both white; the two assailants — caught in the act of assaulting the teen — are both black. Elizabeth shot them 18 times. Did she use excessive force? Meanwhile, former police officer Adrian Wall's first day of parole ends with him being wounded by Gideon Strange, the teenage son of the woman he served 13 years in prison for murdering. Elizabeth never believed Adrian was guilty, remaining connected to him because of an incident when she was a teen. Through the years, Elizabeth and her parents had treated Gideon like a family member. The local polices target Adrian when another woman is murdered following his release. Hart ties the two plot threads in a gripping, believable story that doesn't rest until the last sentence. "Redemption Road" spins on emotionally complicated relationships and realistic conspiracies that affect each character's life and choices. "A stupid crime and a simple misdirection, prison and pointless death, ripples on some foreign shore," Elizabeth contemplates. The daughter of a preacher with whom she's estranged, the forceful Elizabeth harbors dark secrets of her own that go beyond what happened in that abandoned house's basement. "Redemption Road" contains a more ambitious plot than Hart's previous novels, and he weaves this seemingly far-flung story with aplomb. ___ Online: http://www.johnhartfiction.com/ Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Oline H. Cogdill from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Cyndi Lauper adds country record to her multifaceted career
Wednesday May 4, 2016
Cyndi Lauper adds country record to her multifaceted career

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Pop singer, songwriter and Broadway musical composer Cyndi Lauper added a little country twang to her signature Queens accent. Her country and western covers album "Detour," which is out on Friday, brings another unexpected twist to a career that has included music, theater, television, movies, wrestling and activism. A musical chameleon, she's won two Grammys, an Emmy and a Tony , but despite all the success, she said she's not as savvy at the art of business. "Much to the chagrin of my family, I have not been the greatest businesswoman," Lauper said during an interview in Nashville, Tennessee. "I was always art for art's sake. But you have to think of it like a business. It's art and commerce and somewhere in between you find the mix." Her meandering path took her from Broadway where she wrote music for "Kinky Boots ," which won six Tony Awards, to Music City where the pink-haired 62-year-old singer recorded her latest album with guest vocals from Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris. Together with producer Tony Brown, she worked with some of the city's best session musicians to craft a live sound that wasn't polished to perfection. "I kept telling them, 'It has to be dirty.' Think sex," Lauper said. "So it was a country western theme, but there was always a stripper walking across the floor with a boa. Like a blues thing." The songs are from different era of country music, as far back as the '40s, when country was heavily influenced by early rock n' roll and blues, or as Lauper said her record label head Seymour Stein put it, "before Elvis kicked the door down." She covers songs made famous by Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Wanda Jackson, George Jones, Dolly Parton and Marty Robbins. To Lauper, the songs reminded her of being a kid in Queens watching cowboy shows on TV and listening to her aunt Gracie's transistor radio. The female stars of country music were like pop stars to a young Lauper. "Loretta Lynn, you saw her on TV and you knew she wore a cowboy hat," Lauper said. "But she was a television star to us. As I got older, she sang 'The Pill' and I was like, 'Wow, she's a feminist, too.'" Gill, who sang the duet "You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly" with Lauper, said they gave a new twist to the classic originally sung by Lynn and Conway Twitty. "It has this whole talking back and forth at the end of the record with the two of us and it sounds like her being from the Bronx and me being Joe Pesci," Gill said. "It's hysterical." Early on in her career, she was in a rockabilly band, so it wasn't a stretch for her to include a song like "Funnel of Love," to which she added a few well-placed high pitched yips. But other songs proved a bit harder for the "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" singer to record. "When I first did 'Walking After Midnight,' I sang it so darn low. I was like, 'I can't sing! What is wrong with me?'" she said. "But I realized that it had to be in my key. And don't go trying to reinvent the wheel." She'll be performing the country songs, as well as her classic pop hits, on a tour that starts Monday at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. "And I have an idea of how I am going to put a little country in all of some of the songs I will be singing," Lauper said. "You know, why not? What the heck. You live once." __ Online: Cyndi Lauper website: http://cyndilauper.com __ Follow Kristin M. Hall at twitter.com/kmhall Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Kristin M. Hall from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Films play special role in remembering Holocaust
Wednesday May 4, 2016
Films play special role in remembering Holocaust

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum has kicked off its annual remembrance ceremonies with a special screening of the Oscar-winning film "Son of Saul," acknowledging the unique role movies play in maintaining the memory of the Holocaust. The Hungarian film, which tells the story of a Jewish Nazi death camp inmate who obsessively seeks a proper burial for a boy he believes to be his son, also mirrors Yad Vashem's central theme this year — the struggle to maintain the human spirit amid inhumanity. Israel will come to a standstill on Thursday as sirens wail for two minutes. In the annual ritual, pedestrians typically stop in their tracks, while cars and busses pull over and people step out to stand and bow their heads. Solemn events are held, melancholic music and interviews with survivors fill the airwaves, and TV stations show documentaries about the genocide. Yad Vashem is the focal point of the annual memorial day, as the nation's leaders gather there for the central ceremony. The public is encouraged to fill out pages of testimonies about the victims, contribute to the campaign to collect Holocaust-era items and visit the vast complex. Yad Vashem is home to the world's largest collection of documents, publications and databases on the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews. But despite this "mountain of information," movies — particularly high-profile ones — are far more effective in reaching the general public, said Robert Rozett, director of the Yad Vashem libraries, which house an archive of 157,000 titles. "There is no question that films are the most prolific way to impart information or awareness of consciousness of the Holocaust," he said. "They are just seen by so many more people than those who will ever pick up a book or article." He said the hope was that by seeing a powerful film, viewers will be inspired to seek out more information. To that end, Yad Vashem has established its online film database with information on more than 10,000 Holocaust-related films. The most famous are Academy Award winners such as "Schindler's List," ''The Pianist," ''Life is Beautiful," ''The Counterfeiters" and "Sophie's Choice" — films that have arguably molded much of the public perception of the Holocaust, in which the German Nazis and their collaborators wiped out a third of world Jewry. Liat Ben-Haviv, who heads Yad Vashem's visual center, said "Son of Saul" could join that list. This year's Academy Award winner for best foreign language film also won the Golden Globe and the Grand Prix at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The buzz has led to it being distributed in nearly 60 countries, many of which have had little exposure to such raw depiction of the Nazi death camps. The movie has earned praise for its use of long tracking shots to follow the film's protagonist as he navigates the horrors of the Auschwitz death camp and struggles to find meaning amid the desperation, mayhem and brutality. "The film tells the story of spiritual survival," said Ben-Haviv, "and that perfectly fits this year's theme." It also shines a light on one of the most difficult and sensitive legacies of the Nazi death machine — the forcing of Jewish prisoners to take part in the extermination of their own people. The film's protagonist, Saul Auslander, is a member of the Sonderkommando unit responsible for burning the bodies of those gassed to death and then disposing of their ashes. The group lived separately from other Jewish prisoners and enjoyed some level of preferential treatment, leading some other inmates to consider them traitors. But they too were ultimately rounded up and killed by the Nazis. "These were not volunteers, they were forcefully and deceitfully recruited and each one was also condemned to death. That any of them survived is a miracle," said Gideon Greif, chief historian of the Shem Olam institute and an expert on the Sonderkommando, whose book on the topic was cited by director László Nemes as one of his inspirations. In an era of dwindling survivors, with less than 200,000 remaining in Israel and a similar number worldwide, Greif said he knew of only two left from the notorious production line of death, which included stripping bodies of valuables, shoving them into ovens and then dumping their ashes in the river. "It's the peak of German brutality. It was incredibly sophisticated and sadistic," Greif said. "This is absolutely the worst job a human being has ever had to do." ____ Follow Aron Heller on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aronhellerap Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Aron Heller from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Broadway musical 'Hamilton' does what it always does _ stuns
Tuesday May 3, 2016
Broadway musical 'Hamilton' does what it always does _ stuns

NEW YORK (AP) — The Tony Awards are being nicknamed this year the "Hamil-Tonys" in recognition that "Hamilton" is the show to beat. That was proven again Tuesday. Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop-flavored biography about the first U.S. treasury secretary earned 16 Tony Award nominations, breaking the 15-nominations record held jointly by "The Producers" and "Billy Elliot the Musical." "Hamilton" earned nods in all 13 categories it was eligible. "I feel really grateful that they kind of spread the wealth," Miranda told The Associated Press. "Theater requires collaboration and I'm lucky to be working with some of the best people in their respective fields alive right now." The awards will be handed out June 12, with James Corden playing host from the Beacon Theatre. "Hamilton" will be hoping to break another record: The musical with the most Tonys is "The Producers" with 12. At that ceremony, "Hamilton " will compete for Broadway's biggest crown — best new musical — with "Bright Star," ''School of Rock," ''Shuffle Along" and "Waitress." The other top nominees Tuesday were "Shuffle Along," a show that explores a groundbreaking 95-year-old musical starring, written and directed by African-Americans, which got 10 nominations, and the revival of "She Loves Me," which earned eight. "Hamilton" earned seven acting nominations — Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo, Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson and Renee Elise Goldsberry. It also earned nominations for best musical, scenic design, costumes, lighting design, direction, choreography, orchestrations, best book and best original score. The musical has already won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, a Grammy, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History and a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. The loudest screams in Miranda's house Tuesday morning were for the announcement of Jackson, who plays George Washington. Jackson was one of the first people to audition for the show in New York in 2002. "To see him get recognized got a particularly loud scream from my parents and my wife and I," Miranda said, laughing. Goldsberry earned her first Tony nomination after appearing in four previous Broadway shows and said she will go to the theater Tuesday night holding aloft the banner of "Hamilton." "The 16 of us represent every single person that worked on this show and we're really grateful to get to do that," she said. But first, the mother of two will celebrate with a nap. "I'm going to nap with the happiest smile on my face." There were a few surprises Tuesday, including Jennifer Hudson being overlooked in "The Color Purple" and only a costume design nomination for "Tuck Everlasting," a well-received musical based on the 1975 book by Natalie Babbitt. Also, the hit show "On Your Feet!," which follows the lives of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, earned just a choreography nod. And "American Psycho," an adaptation of the novel by Bret Easton Ellis about a materialistic serial killer, only captured nominations for scenic design and lighting. Its actors and songs by Duncan Sheik were snubbed. "Waitress ," a musical with songs by singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles that is adapted from a 2007 film about a waitress trapped in a small-town diner and a loveless marriage, earned four nominations. "I'm so grateful to have found my way back toward the theater community. I grew up doing theater. It's how I learned to listen to music," said Bareilles, who got a nod for music and lyrics. "This experience of working on 'Waitress' has so changed my life in personal ways and professional ways." "School of Rock ," the adaptation by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes of the Jack Black-led movie about a wannabe rocker who enlists fifth-graders to form a rock group, earned four nominations, including best musical, book, original score and best leading man in Alex Brightman. "It's a funny season this one, isn't it," said Lloyd Webber from London. "As you know, it's the 'Hamil-Tonys.' We've gotten everything we could have hoped for — and that's all we'll get. But it's lovely in this season of all seasons to get score and musical and book. We're terribly pleased." "Bright Star ," a complex love story set against the American South by comedy god Steve Martin and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Edie Brickell, earned five nominations and few were more pleased than Martin, who earned his first Tony nod. "This is very, very exciting to me. It's almost, like your emotions betray you, you don't allow yourself to know how excited you are but then when it happens, the body just takes over and you think, 'Gee, I must have really been nervous about this!' So I am so pleased," he said. The best play category is composed of Danai Gurira's "Eclipsed," Floria Zeller's "The Father," Stephen Karam's "The Humans" and Mike Bartlett's "King Charles III." Liesl Tommy, making her Broadway debut as a director, won a nomination for helming "Eclipsed ," which takes place in a Liberian rebel camp where women are held as sexual captives. Calling from a taxi on her way to her next theater assignment downtown, Tommy said her phone blew up with calls from well-wishers. The most important one she had was with her brother and parents in South Africa. "It was a very emotional phone call because it's not anything I thought, when I emigrated to this country, would ever, ever happen," she said. "There was a lot of feelings of vindication that all of that hard work and sacrifices could lead to something like this." Late Tuesday, the first casualty of the nomination process was revealed: "Disaster!" — a spoof of 1970s disaster movies — will close on Sunday after getting only one nomination. Zachary Levi , former star of NBC's "Chuck" making his second Broadway appearance, earned a leading man nomination for "She Loves Me." The one-time theater geek who was lured away by TV said it was surreal to be embraced by Broadway. "This makes me feel like Ariel in 'The Little Mermaid' — a part of their world," said Levi. "I'm gobsmacked. I never use that word but I'm gobsmacked." "Shuffle Along ," which late last week was declared a new musical, earned nominations for best musical, best book, scenic design, lighting and costumes, direction by George C. Wolfe, choreography by Savion Glover, orchestrations, and acting turns by Adrienne Warren and Brandon Victor Dixon. (Audra McDonald, who was eligible as a lead actress in a musical, wasn't nominated and so won't be able to chase her seventh Tony.) Dixon said he was surprised some of his co-stars — including Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Joshua Henry and McDonald — didn't get nods. "I was pretty shocked," he said. "But I'm honored to represent them and we're going to go into this Tony season and we're going to take a number of those awards." He added: "I'm happy to stand toe-to-toe with 'Hamilton.'" The revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night ," starring Jessica Lange and Gabriel Byrne, earned seven nominations, including a first for Lange for her third Broadway role. She played the same part — the drug-addled mother Mary — in London 16 years ago. "This is really a thrill," she said. "It's one of those parts, if you were insane enough and had the stamina, you could continue to play for the rest of your life and never come to the end of it." The Roundabout Theatre Company earned 27 nominations for its revivals of "She Loves Me," ''Thérèse Raquin," ''Noises Off" and "Long Day's Journey Into Night," as well as "The Humans." The Almeida Theatre company in London got seven with its "American Psycho" and "King Charles III." In a twist, Miranda will face off in the best leading actor category with Odom, who plays Aaron Burr, a part he wrote. The two shared a dressing room when the play was off-Broadway and are close friends. "I wouldn't have it any other way. I look in Lin's eyes every single night and I see the truth and the vulnerability that he comes to the stage with. And so I am obviously thrilled to be included, but it wouldn't have made sense to me any other way," Odom said. Soo, nominated for best leading actress in a musical for "Hamilton," will face off against Laura Benanti, a previous Tony winner, who was enjoying her first-time nomination in a leading actress category. They face competition from Carmen Cusack in "Bright Star," Cynthia Erivo in "The Color Purple" and Jessie Mueller in "Waitress." "I think that there is room for so many different types of shows on Broadway and that's what I'm loving about this particular Broadway season," said Benanti. "You can go to a show and be educated. You can go to a show and be entertained. Our particular show feels like putting on the most comfortable pajamas you've ever owned." Visionary director Ivo van Hove , who had two Arthur Miller revivals this season of "The Crucible" and "A View from the Bridge," got a nod only for "A View from the Bridge," although both plays got nominated for best revivals. Some Hollywood stars didn't do so well on Tuesday, with Clive Owen, Al Pacino, Bruce Willis, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan and George Takei all missing out on nods. But Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels got ones for the revival of "Blackbird," David Harrower's unsettling play that centers on an older man, a much younger woman and what happens when they meet 15 years after their brief relationship has ended. Daniels compared his and Williams' work to the film "The Defiant Ones" starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier, who appeared onscreen chained together. "That's what it feels like because there's such a yin and a yang, act-react to it. I told her in February, 'Half my performance is in you,'" he said. "So I was thrilled for her as I was for me." ___ Associated Press National Writer Jocelyn Noveck in New York contributed to this report. ___ Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Mark Kennedy from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.