Thursday Feb 11, 2016

South African bookshop a treasure trove of eclectic history

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The only clue to a literary treasure trove tucked away in downtown Johannesburg is a fading sign, but behind this door is a fantastic maze containing an estimated 2 million books and prints. The Collectors Treasury, a three-story bookshop owned by...
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TV

South African bookshop a treasure trove of eclectic history
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
South African bookshop a treasure trove of eclectic history

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The only clue to a literary treasure trove tucked away in downtown Johannesburg is a fading sign, but behind this door is a fantastic maze containing an estimated 2 million books and prints. The Collectors Treasury, a three-story bookshop owned by brothers Jonathan and Geoff Klass, is dedicated to preserving history and contains everything from VHS tapes of classic TV to porcelain trinkets, but above all books are prized. "It is the symbol of the history of the human race," says Geoff Klass. The collection is vast and eclectic with yellowing news clippings, posters and first editions of John Updike, Alice Walker and H.G. Wells along with Enid Blyton's beloved children's series "Noddy." It's also getting more traffic as downtown Johannesburg is rejuvenated. The bookstore is now on the hipster trail of the trendy Maboneng district with its art galleries and rooftop markets. Visitors thread single file between overflowing shelves and stacks of books. Biographies of Leon Trotsky and Humphrey Bogart sit alongside the story of Wham, the 80s British pop group that launched George Michael's career. Another room holds fraying antique books, some dating from the 16th century. There are heaps of non-fiction books, ranging from angling journals to contemporary Russian art. "It's a landscape of books rather than shelves of books," said Los Angeles set designer David Chow, who learned about the shop online and set aside a whole day of his trip to explore it. The Klass brothers have embraced the Internet as a portal to new customers, but remain devotees of the printed page. Their collection also features a copy of the manuscript of George Orwell's "1984," scribbled, corrected and typed over as the author crafted the classic. "What would have happened if he had been writing it on a word processor?" asks Geoff Klass. ___ Follow Lynsey Chutel on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lynseychutel. Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by LYNSEY CHUTEL from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Final line-up for 'Top Gear' confirmed
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
Final line-up for 'Top Gear' confirmed

Chris Evans has confirmed on Twitter the full and final line-up of "Top Gear" presenters.In addition to former "Friends" star Matt LeBlanc, who was confirmed as a co-presenter earlier this month, Evans will be joined on the motoring show by German racing driver Sabine Schmitz, ex-Formula 1 team boss Eddie Jordan, motoring journalist Chris Harris, and Rory Reid, who won a place on the show after auditions were opened to the public to find the next "Top Gear" presenter. Anonymous character The Stig will complete the line-up. BBC Two's "Top Gear" is due to return to screens in May 2016, after the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Woman admits stealing from comedian Joe Piscopo
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
Woman admits stealing from comedian Joe Piscopo

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey woman has admitted stealing money from former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Joe Piscopo. Under terms of a plea agreement, 40-year-old Jennifer LaRocca of Hackettstown pleaded guilty to theft. LaRocca admitted her husband was hired to pay Piscopo's bills and she unlawfully wrote checks for her own expenses using the funds between 2010 and 2014. LaRocca has agreed to pay nearly $171,000 in restitution. Morris County prosecutors will recommend she be sentenced in April to probation on the condition she makes the payments. 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.

7 innocents spend time in jail for new TV show
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
7 innocents spend time in jail for new TV show

NEW YORK (AP) — Seven innocent civilians agreed to spend two months in an Indiana jail and have their experiences filmed for an A&E Network series, "60 Days In," that will air starting next month. Backgrounds of the fake inmates, whose jail time ended in December, were kept from both corrections officers and real inmates at the Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Even though one of the participants dropped out after being punched by an inmate, the show's producer and Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel said Wednesday that the stunt was worth the risk. "We wanted to create a show that really shows what it is like to do time, from a perspective that hadn't been seen before," said Gregory Henry, executive producer for the Lucky 8 TV production company. The 12-episode series begins 9 p.m. EST Thursday, March 10, with two back-to-back episodes, then moves to 10 p.m. EST starting March 17. The civilians all had their reasons for participating. One woman was a social worker hoping to put an end to gang violence, one was an ex-Marine who thought the experience would help him become a DEA agent, one was a teacher who wanted to tell students where bad choices can lead them, and one young man wanted to get a sense of what his jailed brother was going through. Hundreds of cameras followed them. Inmates and guards were told producers were filming a series about the experiences of first-time prisoners, leaving out the detail that they weren't real prisoners. "The whole program was kind of hidden in plain sight," Henry said. Participants received counseling and training in advance and were watched constantly. They had a safe phrase — "I really miss the coffee" — and a visual cue of putting a towel on their heads that signaled to producers that they wanted to be removed from a potentially dangerous situation. "I've never been able to see the moment when the slammer door shuts and someone is standing alone in a pod realizing what they had gotten themselves into," Henry said. "It was very real for everybody." Noel, who took office last year, said he was trying to clean up a 500-inmate jail where drugs seemed more available than they were on the streets. He considered bringing undercover police officers into the facility to provide intelligence of what was really going on but couldn't get anyone to commit to a stay beyond two or three days. The fake inmates helped provide a mother lode of information that Noel and his colleagues said they're still sifting through, like how contraband weapons were made. Shortly after they got in, new inmates were told by longtime inmates that they wouldn't be permitted to use the bathroom safely unless they paid some sort of bribe. "We learned stuff that the most experienced corrections officer we had never knew was going on," Noel said. To him, that made the program worth the risk of the bad publicity that could have resulted if something went terribly wrong for one of the inmate impersonators. "Normal people that have never gotten in trouble before are going to be blown away by what goes on in a jail," he said. "I hope it is a real deterrent for them." Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by David Bauder from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Eagles to pay tribute to Glenn Frey at Grammys
Wednesday Feb 10, 2016
Eagles to pay tribute to Glenn Frey at Grammys

Surviving members of classic rock group The Eagles will honor late bandmate Glenn Frey with a performance at next week's Grammys, organizers said Wednesday.The band members will team up with the folk rocker Jackson Browne -- the co-writer of Eagles hit "Take It Easy" -- during the award show on Monday. Announcing the appearance, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said that Frey's death left "a huge loss for the entire creative community." "For more than 45 years, the Eagles have played a significant role in shaping our musical landscape," he said in a statement. The Eagles who will perform include drummer-vocalist Don Henley, who went on to a successful solo career and has won eight Grammys, with a nomination for a ninth award on Monday. The Eagles, who pioneered the laid-back, country-tinged West Coast rock of the 1970s, are one of the most successful bands of rock history, with hits including "Hotel California." The band's 1975 greatest hits collection is the second-best selling album in US history after Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and the band had been playing together until last year. Frey died on January 18 at age 67 from a mix of illnesses including pneumonia. He was one of a number of major artists who have died in recent weeks. The Grammys will also feature tributes to rock legend David Bowie and "King of the Blues" B.B. King. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Movies

As 'Force Awakens' winds down, 'Avatar' remains supreme
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
As 'Force Awakens' winds down, 'Avatar' remains supreme

NEW YORK (AP) — Two months after opening to unprecedented fanfare, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is finally winding down in theaters, leaving behind arsenals of plastic lightsabers and a trail of box-office records. "The Force Awakens" is still playing in more than 2,000 theaters in North America and remains ranked in the top-five at the box office as it enters its ninth week of release. But the lion's share of its theatrical revenue has been pocketed, and one thing is abundantly clear: it's not going to touch "Avatar." Regardless of further receipts, "The Force Awakens" (currently with $2.008 billion worldwide) will slot in at No. 2 all-time on the global box office list, if you don't account for inflation or rereleases. That's slightly ahead of James Cameron's "Titanic" ($1.84 billion before a later 3-D release pushed it to $2.18 billion) but light years behind "Avatar" ($2.79 billion). "The Force Awakens" was by any measure a massive hit: a full-blown if prepackaged cultural phenomenon that drove moviegoers en masse to theaters in a way that some thought was no longer possible in an increasingly multi-screen media world. It has already made the Walt Disney Co. heaps of cash and it has set the franchise up to reap oodles more in merchandising, theme park attractions and sequels. But even the most colossal hit of the decade — one with all the firepower of arguably the movies' biggest franchise — was no match for Cameron's 2009 3-D sensation. Though some forecast "The Force Awakens" to rival "Avatar" and possibly become the first $3 billion movie, that mark has never seemed more out of reach. "'Avatar' is sitting on top of that global mountain, looking down and saying, 'Just try to catch me,'" said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. "That's a record that's going to stand for a long time. And we know it now more than ever." Though "The Force Awakens" set a record in North America ($906.7 million and counting), it was less of a phenomenon in some overseas territories. Most notably in China, where "Star Wars" doesn't have the same history with moviegoers. Had "The Force Awakens" performed at the same rate internationally as it did in the U.S., it would have toppled "Avatar." Currency devaluation in some countries between 2009 and 2106 also help account for the distance between "The Force Awakens" and "Avatar," perhaps as much as hundreds of millions. It's just one more example of how box office rankings don't take into account countless variables (inflation, ticket prices, media competition) that affect every release. Adjust for inflation and the record domestic haul of "The Force Awakens," is dwarfed by 1939's "Gone With the Wind," which made approximately $1.7 billion in North America in inflation-adjusted dollars. Each era has its own mega blockbusters. "We're taking a little more time just to appreciate the run and the response without paying too much attention to ranking and ratings," said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney. "There's still business to be had in this run and possibly if we decide to do a reissue of this film now or ahead of Episode VIII, or whatever it might be." Regardless, the $4 billion investment Disney made when it purchased LucasFilm is already looking like a bargain, and the mammoth success of "The Force Awakens" in movie theaters is only part of it. Analysts expect merchandizing revenues from "Star Wars" to bring in some $5 billion for Disney in 2015 and 2016. "Star Wars" is also driving more visitors to Disney's theme parks. Ground will soon be broken on a 14-acre "Star Wars" area in Disneyland. Most importantly, director J.J. Abrams reinvigorated the franchise with a crowd-pleasing, critically praised reboot that pulled in new fans and put in motion a profit-creating system of galactic proportions. "It started with a fantastic film that absolutely delivered," said Hollis. "For what it meant not just off of some big opening weekends but for the playability over the last couple of months and really for what it means in setting up the franchise for the future, everyone couldn't be any happier." Propelled by "Star Wars," Disney reported a record $2.88 billion in quarterly revenue on Tuesday, a 32 percent jump from the same period a year earlier. The ripple effect of "The Force Awakens" has only just begun. Anthony DiClemente, an analyst for Nomura, was among those who once forecast a possible $3 billion in ticket sales. But he says the result for "The Force Awakens," even if it fell short of the most bullish predictions, exceeded Disney's internal expectations. "The thing about Disney is they have a content monetization engine where they can monetize one piece of content more effectively than any other company," says DiClemente, citing the company's television networks and parks. "It is something that ripples throughout the company." In the end, "Star Wars" may be passing "Avatar" in other ways. Disney recently moved the release date for "Star Wars: Episode VIII" to December 2017, right up against a date 20th Century Fox had staked out for Cameron's long-awaited, repeatedly delayed "Avatar 2." The "Avatar" sequel has since been removed from Fox's schedule. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Jake Coyle from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Clooney opens Berlin film fest with spotlight on refugees
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
Clooney opens Berlin film fest with spotlight on refugees

George Clooney opened the Berlin film festival Thursday with Europe's refugee influx in the spotlight, saying he would meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel about lending star power to help with the crisis.The 11-day Berlinale, one of the top three cinema showcases in Europe along with Cannes and Venice, kicked off with a screening of "Hail, Caesar!", Joel and Ethan Coen's send-up of Tinseltown's 1950s golden age. Clooney came to the German capital with his wife Amal, a Lebanese-born human rights lawyer, and co-stars Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton and Josh Brolin. He told reporters he would meet Merkel and, separately, a group of asylum seekers Friday "to talk about and ask what messages and what things we can do... to help". Although the Berlinale is spotlighting around a dozen films focused on refugees, Clooney admitted it would take time before Hollywood would turn its attention to such stories. "The unfortunate thing about the film community is we react to situations much more than we lead the way. News stories have to continue to happen and then scripts are written and it takes a couple years before people are actually making films about it," he told reporters. "It's also very difficult to just make a subject film. You have to have a reason -- a character and a reason to make it." - Why make movies - When asked a critical question about Hollywood escapism after a press screening of "Hail, Caesar!", a light-hearted romp, Joel Coen said filmmakers were under no obligation to deal with the most pressing issues of their time. "To point the finger and say, you should be telling this particular story -- it's a misunderstanding about how movies get written and made. Are those stories important? Yes. Does it make sense to sort of say, 'you're a public figure, you tell stories, why aren't you telling that story?' is a funny question, frankly." However he noted that he and Ethan Coen as presidents of the Cannes film festival jury last year awarded the top prize to the French movie "Dheepan", which offered an unflinching look at the plight of three Sri Lankan refugees in a violent Paris suburb. "I think it had a lot to contribute to that discussion," he said. Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep is serving as president of the Berlin prize jury, leading a panel including British actor Clive Owen. They will award the Golden Bear top prize to one of 18 contenders from around the world on February 20. Owen said they would aim to "champion somebody who we think will benefit hugely from (the award) and could make a huge difference and further their career and give them the opportunity to make more good important films," he said. Last year top honours went to Iranian dissident filmmaker Jafar Panahi for "Taxi", which he had to make in secret. - Tickets for asylum seekers - As Europe endures the largest refugee influx since World War II, with 1.1 million asylum seekers arriving in Germany last year, the theme of migration will dominate the festival. Italian documentary director Gianfranco Rosi, who won at Venice three years ago, will enter the competition with "Fire at Sea" about Lampedusa, a Mediterranean island on the front line of the crisis. And off screen, hundreds of tickets have been set aside for asylum seekers at the festival accompanied by volunteers and cinema-goers are being encouraged to donate money to refugee causes. Among the world premieres generating buzz ahead of the start is a new adaptation of the international bestseller "Alone in Berlin", Hans Fallada's 1947 novel based on a true story. The Nazi-era thriller sees Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson play a German couple who risk their lives to mount a resistance campaign against Hitler after losing their only son in the war. Big crowds are also expected for "Genius", the feature debut by British theatre director Michael Grandage starring Colin Firth as literary editor Max Perkins, who published some of the 20th century's greatest American writers. Jude Law plays Thomas Wolfe, Nicole Kidman his lover and muse Aline Bernstein, with Dominic West portraying Ernest Hemingway and Guy Pearce as F. Scott Fitzgerald. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

'Hidden Figures:' Taraji P. Henson follows Golden Globe with NASA biopic
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
'Hidden Figures:' Taraji P. Henson follows Golden Globe with NASA biopic

Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson is being linked with a lead role in an upcoming film adaptation of "Hidden Figures," the story of a team of NASA mathematicians who proved essential to the Space Race.Few may have known her name until recently, but NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson was an integral part of the US's space agency's 20th century endeavors, from its first manned space flight, to the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the Apollo 13 rescue mission. The ex-schoolteacher's story is to be told in September 2016 biography "Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race," and pre-production on a movie adaptation is already well underway; "Empire" lead Taraji P. Henson is now confirmed in the lead role. Henson's acting career has seen her feature in musical drama "Hustle & Flow," Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett film "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Steve Carell and Tina Fey romcom "Date Night," the Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith reboot of "The Karate Kid," and Chris Rock's "Top Five." Most recently, she re-united with "Hustle & Flow" co-star Terence Howard, playing opposite him in TV series "Empire," clinching an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe award for her performances as record label co-founder Cookie Lyon. After she was linked with "Hidden Figures" in July 2015, Henson has now been confirmed for the film's leading role as Katherine Johnson. Three more main roles still await announcements. Margot Lee Shetterly's forthcoming book profiles the impact of not only Johnson but also a half dozen fellow African-American NASA colleagues including leading lights Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Kathryn Peddrew, Sue Wilder and Eunice Smith. To that end, three other actresses had been named in relation to the project back in 2015, and may yet find themselves among its cast: Viola Davis (Emmy Award, "How to Get Away with Murder"), Octavia Spencer (Academy Award, "The Help") and Oprah Winfrey (SAG nominee, "The Butler") were said to have been in the mix at the time. Ted Melfi, who found favor with 2014's Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts comedy "St. Vincent," is to direct; "Hidden Figures" is currently set for release January 13, 2017. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

AP PHOTOS: Preparing for the glittering BAFTA awards
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
AP PHOTOS: Preparing for the glittering BAFTA awards

LONDON (AP) — The red carpet for the BAFTA Film Awards doesn't roll out until the weekend but behind the scenes preparations are well underway for the annual star-studded event in London. The seating arrangements for the Royal Opera House were set up on Thursday, ready for nominees like Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, who have all confirmed they will attend the ceremony. The trophies, always a crucial ingredient of a top awards show, have already been cast. "The Big Short," ''Bridge of Spies," ''Carol," ''The Revenant" and "Spotlight" will all compete for the golden mask for Best Film on Sunday. Among the winners already announced — Angels Costumes will collect the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award; and Sidney Poitier will be honored with the BAFTA Fellowship. 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.

Official trailer released for Ewan McGregor's new film 'Our Kind of Traitor'
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
Official trailer released for Ewan McGregor's new film 'Our Kind of Traitor'

The official trailer for Ewan McGregor's new film, the spy thriller "Our Kind of Traitor" has been released.Based on John le Carré's best-selling spy novel, McGregor stars alongside Naomie Harris as a couple who become unwittingly caught up in a dangerous spy game between the Russian mafia and British government. The film will also star Stellan Skarsgard as the Russian money launderer who tries to recruit their help, and Damian Lewis as a ruthless MI6 agent. The movie will hit UK theaters May 6. You can view the new trailer now on YouTube: https://youtu.be/N5k4FBGtbMs Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Events

Clooney opens Berlin film fest with spotlight on refugees
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
Clooney opens Berlin film fest with spotlight on refugees

George Clooney opened the Berlin film festival Thursday with Europe's refugee influx in the spotlight, saying he would meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel about lending star power to help with the crisis.The 11-day Berlinale, one of the top three cinema showcases in Europe along with Cannes and Venice, kicked off with a screening of "Hail, Caesar!", Joel and Ethan Coen's send-up of Tinseltown's 1950s golden age. Clooney came to the German capital with his wife Amal, a Lebanese-born human rights lawyer, and co-stars Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton and Josh Brolin. He told reporters he would meet Merkel and, separately, a group of asylum seekers Friday "to talk about and ask what messages and what things we can do... to help". Although the Berlinale is spotlighting around a dozen films focused on refugees, Clooney admitted it would take time before Hollywood would turn its attention to such stories. "The unfortunate thing about the film community is we react to situations much more than we lead the way. News stories have to continue to happen and then scripts are written and it takes a couple years before people are actually making films about it," he told reporters. "It's also very difficult to just make a subject film. You have to have a reason -- a character and a reason to make it." - Why make movies - When asked a critical question about Hollywood escapism after a press screening of "Hail, Caesar!", a light-hearted romp, Joel Coen said filmmakers were under no obligation to deal with the most pressing issues of their time. "To point the finger and say, you should be telling this particular story -- it's a misunderstanding about how movies get written and made. Are those stories important? Yes. Does it make sense to sort of say, 'you're a public figure, you tell stories, why aren't you telling that story?' is a funny question, frankly." However he noted that he and Ethan Coen as presidents of the Cannes film festival jury last year awarded the top prize to the French movie "Dheepan", which offered an unflinching look at the plight of three Sri Lankan refugees in a violent Paris suburb. "I think it had a lot to contribute to that discussion," he said. Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep is serving as president of the Berlin prize jury, leading a panel including British actor Clive Owen. They will award the Golden Bear top prize to one of 18 contenders from around the world on February 20. Owen said they would aim to "champion somebody who we think will benefit hugely from (the award) and could make a huge difference and further their career and give them the opportunity to make more good important films," he said. Last year top honours went to Iranian dissident filmmaker Jafar Panahi for "Taxi", which he had to make in secret. - Tickets for asylum seekers - As Europe endures the largest refugee influx since World War II, with 1.1 million asylum seekers arriving in Germany last year, the theme of migration will dominate the festival. Italian documentary director Gianfranco Rosi, who won at Venice three years ago, will enter the competition with "Fire at Sea" about Lampedusa, a Mediterranean island on the front line of the crisis. And off screen, hundreds of tickets have been set aside for asylum seekers at the festival accompanied by volunteers and cinema-goers are being encouraged to donate money to refugee causes. Among the world premieres generating buzz ahead of the start is a new adaptation of the international bestseller "Alone in Berlin", Hans Fallada's 1947 novel based on a true story. The Nazi-era thriller sees Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson play a German couple who risk their lives to mount a resistance campaign against Hitler after losing their only son in the war. Big crowds are also expected for "Genius", the feature debut by British theatre director Michael Grandage starring Colin Firth as literary editor Max Perkins, who published some of the 20th century's greatest American writers. Jude Law plays Thomas Wolfe, Nicole Kidman his lover and muse Aline Bernstein, with Dominic West portraying Ernest Hemingway and Guy Pearce as F. Scott Fitzgerald. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Country music returns to Grammys after years away
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
Country music returns to Grammys after years away

NEW YORK (AP) — Country music has not had an album or song nominated in the top three categories at the Grammys since 2011 when Lady Antebellum won big, but the genre is back strong, thanks to Chris Stapleton's overall success and Little Big Town's megahit, "Girl Crush." Stapleton, a hit songwriter and former leader of The SteelDrivers, is nominated for album of the year for his debut, "Traveller," while "Girl Crush" earned songwriters Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna nominations for song of the year. The last time a country album was nominated for album of the year was Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" at the 2011 Grammys (we don't count Taylor Swift's pop-flavored "Red" as country). That year also was the last time a country track earned nominations for song or record of the year, which Lady A took home for their crossover hit, "Need You Now" (Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me" was nominated for song of the year that year too). Charles Kelley of Lady A says the 2011 Grammys "was probably the greatest night of my musical career. It felt like a big win for the genre that night." Kelley, who is nominated for his first Grammy apart from his Lady A bandmates this year, said country music is returning to the top categories because Little Big Town and Stapleton made unique and unpredictable songs. "They made the boldest records; they're not down-the-middle records at all, and I think the Grammys always tend to recognize when someone has painted outside the lines a little bit," he said. Sam Hunt also is representing country music with a nomination for best new artist, a category that typically includes at least one country act. Part of the reason country music has not earned top Grammy nominations may be because country songs don't chart high enough on the pop- and rap-dominated Billboard Hot 100 chart. Grammy voters who are not paying attention solely to country music may not be as familiar with the genre's songs and albums because it's not in the mainstream as much as rap and rock. Carrie Underwood's "Inside Your Heaven" was the last country song to hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 2005; before that it was Lonestar in 2000 with "Amazed." Though "Need You Now" and Swift's "You Belong With Me" both peaked at No. 2, country songs often chart in the bottom half of the Top 40 pop charts and Top 10 hits are a rarity. "Girl Crush," as big as it was, peaked at No. 18 on the Hot 100. "It did not perform in the pop radio world anywhere near what we thought it would," said Mike Dungan, the chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group Nashville, the home to Little Big Town, Stapleton and Hunt. But country acts have a comfortable home with country radio, and can reach double platinum status without crossing over to pop, which is not the case for rap, rock and R&B acts. "Back when country was really present on pop radio — let's take this as far back as the '80s — these records were really worked to all the formats at the same time ," Dungan said. But today, "country radio ... (doesn't) like it when artists crossover. They look at those artists as if they are opportunists who are looking at country as a maybe a stepping stone to a bigger, broader world," he said. "And so those of us who have been on this side of the business, the labels, the artists, their managers, have been very cautious about when you pull that trigger to cross over." Because music fans today listen to a wide range of genres, once "Girl Crush" was sent to pop radio, it had already been heard by some of that audience: "It was already kind of burned out," Dungan said. At Monday's Grammys, Little Big Town's "Pain Killer" is nominated for best country album, while "Girl Crush" is also up for best country song and country duo/group performance. "For some reason this song spoke to people ... I don't know if it was controversial, I don't know what it was," said Rose, who co-wrote "Girl Crush" and also co-wrote Swift's "You Belong With Me," which was nominated for song and record of the year at the 2010 Grammys. "'You Belong With Me' crossed over ... so that makes sense to me. This does not make sense. ...It turned into a song, and not just country, and it's just a universal song that people, even if they don't know country (music), they know the song." Stapleton's nominations include best country song, solo performance and album for "Traveller." His album became a No. 1 smash after his show-stopping performance with Justin Timberlake at the CMA Awards, along with three-for-three wins. His competition for album of the year includes No. 1 efforts from Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Alabama Shakes and The Weeknd. Though Lady A, Stapleton and Little Big Town have had crossover success, that doesn't always equate to Grammy love. Florida Georgia Line, who had a Top 5 pop hit with its "Cruise" remix with rapper Nelly in 2013, didn't earn a single nomination; Luke Bryan, despite selling millions of albums and tickets at stadiums, has never earned a Grammy nomination. Both acts fit in the category of the sometimes frowned-upon "bro-country" genre. "I can make a presumption that the Grammys kind of viewed that music as a bit pedestrian and banal and not art worthy," said John Marks, Spotify's global head of country music, where the genre is the third most active behind pop and hip-hop. Marks added that the Grammys tend to lean to songs that are "more lyric and art-driven, and largely commercially-driven." "And that hasn't happened in a little while, and the opportunity has presented itself with Chris Stapleton and Little Big Town." ____ Online: http://www.grammy.com/ Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Mesfin Fekadu from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

'Hidden Figures:' Taraji P. Henson follows Golden Globe with NASA biopic
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
'Hidden Figures:' Taraji P. Henson follows Golden Globe with NASA biopic

Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson is being linked with a lead role in an upcoming film adaptation of "Hidden Figures," the story of a team of NASA mathematicians who proved essential to the Space Race.Few may have known her name until recently, but NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson was an integral part of the US's space agency's 20th century endeavors, from its first manned space flight, to the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the Apollo 13 rescue mission. The ex-schoolteacher's story is to be told in September 2016 biography "Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race," and pre-production on a movie adaptation is already well underway; "Empire" lead Taraji P. Henson is now confirmed in the lead role. Henson's acting career has seen her feature in musical drama "Hustle & Flow," Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett film "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Steve Carell and Tina Fey romcom "Date Night," the Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith reboot of "The Karate Kid," and Chris Rock's "Top Five." Most recently, she re-united with "Hustle & Flow" co-star Terence Howard, playing opposite him in TV series "Empire," clinching an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe award for her performances as record label co-founder Cookie Lyon. After she was linked with "Hidden Figures" in July 2015, Henson has now been confirmed for the film's leading role as Katherine Johnson. Three more main roles still await announcements. Margot Lee Shetterly's forthcoming book profiles the impact of not only Johnson but also a half dozen fellow African-American NASA colleagues including leading lights Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Kathryn Peddrew, Sue Wilder and Eunice Smith. To that end, three other actresses had been named in relation to the project back in 2015, and may yet find themselves among its cast: Viola Davis (Emmy Award, "How to Get Away with Murder"), Octavia Spencer (Academy Award, "The Help") and Oprah Winfrey (SAG nominee, "The Butler") were said to have been in the mix at the time. Ted Melfi, who found favor with 2014's Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts comedy "St. Vincent," is to direct; "Hidden Figures" is currently set for release January 13, 2017. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2016. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

AP PHOTOS: Preparing for the glittering BAFTA awards
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
AP PHOTOS: Preparing for the glittering BAFTA awards

LONDON (AP) — The red carpet for the BAFTA Film Awards doesn't roll out until the weekend but behind the scenes preparations are well underway for the annual star-studded event in London. The seating arrangements for the Royal Opera House were set up on Thursday, ready for nominees like Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, who have all confirmed they will attend the ceremony. The trophies, always a crucial ingredient of a top awards show, have already been cast. "The Big Short," ''Bridge of Spies," ''Carol," ''The Revenant" and "Spotlight" will all compete for the golden mask for Best Film on Sunday. Among the winners already announced — Angels Costumes will collect the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award; and Sidney Poitier will be honored with the BAFTA Fellowship. 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.

Berlin Film Festival jury questioned over diversity
Thursday Feb 11, 2016
Berlin Film Festival jury questioned over diversity

BERLIN (AP) — The Berlin International Film Festival became embroiled Thursday in the debate about diversity in the movie industry, with jury president Meryl Streep dismissing questions about the all-white panel by telling reporters that "we're all Africans, really." Streep, who heads a festival film jury for the first time, said she was committed to equality and inclusion "of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions." The seven-member jury also includes German actor Lars Eidinger, British film critic Nick James, French photographer Brigitte Lacombe, British actor Clive Owen, Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher and Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska. "This jury is evidence that at least women are included and in fact dominate this jury, and that's an unusual situation in bodies of people who make decisions," Streep said. "So I think the Berlinale is ahead of the game." The question of diversity was raised three times during the jury's opening news conference. It follows the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' announcement last month that it was changing its membership rules following uproar over the all-white nominee list for this year's acting Oscars. Streep — who has won three Oscars and been nominated for the award a further 16 times in her career — said she was proud to head the jury that will choose the winners of the Golden Bear and various Silver Bear awards at the Berlinale, the first of the year's major European movie festivals. "I have absolutely no idea how to run a jury. But I've been the boss of other enterprises, my family and various other things. So I'm going to learn by doing," she said. Asked by an Egyptian reporter whether she understood films from the Arab world and North Africa, Streep said while she didn't know much about the region, "I've played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures." "There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all, we're all from Africa originally," she said. "You know, we're all," she added, pausing, "Berliners, we're all Africans, really." The festival opens Thursday with the Coen brothers' comedy "Hail, Caesar!" starring George Clooney and Josh Brolin. Eighteen movies are in contention for the Golden Bear prize at the festival, which is in its 66th edition this year and runs Feb. 11-21. Festival director Dieter Kosslick says many movies at this year's event address "the search for happiness" and "migration in the world in very varying forms." Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Frank Jordans from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.