Wednesday Jan 28, 2015

'Ghostbusters' cast set with McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon, Jones

NEW YORK (AP) — The "Ghostbusters" reboot has set its all-female leads with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and a pair of "Saturday Night Live" performers. Director Paul Feig announced his stars by posting their pictures on Twitter on Tuesday. Joining McCarthy and Wiig...
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TV

'Ghostbusters' cast set with McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon, Jones
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
'Ghostbusters' cast set with McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon, Jones

NEW YORK (AP) — The "Ghostbusters" reboot has set its all-female leads with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and a pair of "Saturday Night Live" performers. Director Paul Feig announced his stars by posting their pictures on Twitter on Tuesday. Joining McCarthy and Wiig are Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Feig tweeted that Sony Pictures will release the film in July 2016. Production is expected to begin later this year. The new "Ghostbusters" updates the original 1984 film and the 1989 sequel. Wiig and McCarthy both starred in "Bridesmaids," which Feig directed. He has since worked with McCarthy on all of his films, including their upcoming action comedy "Spy." McKinnon joined "SNL" in 2012. Jones first came to the show as a writer and transitioned into a featured player last fall. Copyright (2015) 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.

Elton John to produce new musical series for HBO
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
Elton John to produce new musical series for HBO

"Virtuoso," a period drama created by Alan Ball ("True Blood," "Six Feet Under") and co-produced by Elton John, has received a pilot order from the American cable network.Set in 18th-century Vienna, "Virtuoso" will follow a group of musical prodigies who have traveled from all over Europe to study under professor and composer Antonio Salieri at the Academy of Musical Excellence. In the title role as Salieri is Alan Ball's partner and regular collaborator Peter Macdissi, who has appeared in episodes of "Six Feet Under" and "True Blood" and is also a co-producer on Ball's latest project, "Banshee." He will be joined by French actor François Civil ("Rosemary's Baby") as the Spanish flutist and guitarist Isidoro, Australian actor Lindsay Farris ("The Code") as the Austrian piano prodigy Heinrich and British actor Nico Mirallegro as Franz, a self-taught violinist who is also from Austria. Alex Lawther ("The Imitation Game") will play Battista, a castrato from Florence, while Iva Babic will play Leonid, a gifted Russian cellist. HBO has ordered the pilot episode, which will be shot this spring in Budapest. Ball and Macdissi are producing the series alongside Elton John and his husband David Furnish. The recording artist's involvement calls to mind another musical series in development at HBO: the 1970s rock drama produced by Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Netflix teases 'Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp'
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
Netflix teases 'Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp'

In a teaser for the upcoming miniseries, Netflix confirms the title and the star-studded cast, which includes Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and Christopher Meloni.David Wain's 2001 comedy feature "Wet Hot American Summer," set on the last day of a summer camp in 1981, is being revived as a limited series. Despite being a box office flop, the movie has gained a cult following over the past 14 years, so there is plenty of buzz surrounding Netflix's revival, which will take the form of a 10-episode prequel. In addition to revealing the title, the new teaser video officially confirms the return of the original cast members. Impressively, Netflix and Wain managed to round up all 15 of the original leading cast members, even those who have become major Hollywood stars in the intervening years. Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Meloni and Molly Shannon are among those who will reprise their roles as Camp Firewood counselors. They will be joined by Josh Charles, who played the lawyer Will Gardner on "The Good Wife," and by John Slattery, known for his role as Roger Sterling on "Mad Men." Watch the cast confirmation teaser for "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp": youtu.be/j12pk-IE3D0 Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Russian spies center stage in 'The Americans'
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
Russian spies center stage in 'The Americans'

The Cold War is officially over, so the concept of husband-and-wife KGB operatives killing, lying and spying in Washington -- under the nose of their FBI agent neighbor -- may seem a bit far-fetched.But the arrest this week of a suspected Russian agent posing as a New York banker lends new relevance to "The Americans," the critically acclaimed thriller returning to US television screens on Wednesday. Evgeny Buryakov, 39, was captured following more than two years of FBI surveillance as he allegedly fed economic intelligence to Moscow and sought to recruit US residents as sources. One of the central questions in "The Americans" -- which is set in the 1980s -- is whether the FBI will ever cotton onto Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. "It's obviously got a relevance today in that it parallels things that we hear in the news," said Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. "It has all the action and intrigue of being a spy series, but at the same time, it's a series about a marriage, about a family." Russell, who is dating her co-star Rhys, said the tense, slow-building FX show is really all about the characters. "Even in the context of this spy show, it's really just a look at a marriage," Russell says. Season three opens in 1982 -- the year that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev died as the Cold War appeared to be heating up. The series focuses on the KGB's insistence that Elizabeth and Philip start grooming their 14-year-old daughter Paige to spy for Moscow and the arguments which that order provokes between the couple. The relationship between the two -- whose marriage was arranged at the start for the KGB's purposes -- is constantly tested by the demands of their job and the love affairs they maintain with a tangled web of informants. To make matters worse, the family lives in the Washington suburbs next door to FBI Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), whose own liaison with a KGB double-agent unravelled at the end of last season. - Russians mad about stereotypes - War in Syria and the crisis in Ukraine have recently plunged US-Russian ties back to the froideur of the Cold War, but Russia has for decades offered fertile ground to American television writers. Next month, NBC is to premiere "Allegiance," adapted from an Israeli series, about a CIA analyst poised to discover that his parents and sister were part of a Soviet sleeper cell. Moscow has long been the go-to enemy in American popular culture, and Russians complain they are too frequently stereotyped as untrustworthy alcoholics involved in nefarious politics. "Everything that contradicts these stereotypes is excluded from conversation," said Dmitri Glinski, president of the Russian-speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx. "I do think that stereotyping, reinforced by the policies of the present Russian government and the state of US-Russian relations, hurts the Russian immigrant community in a very major way -- and worst of all those who do not conform to stereotypes." But critics say the Cold War backdrop to "The Americans" is indispensable even if, at its core, it is a show about family. "The super structure of the Cold War told through Russian spies on American soil is genius," said Tom Nunan of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. "It goes to two fundamental things about suburbia that I think really elevates the show to a completely different level, which is 'do I really know who my neighbor is' and more importantly, 'do I really know who my spouse is.'" While the show is a critical hit, twice winning the American Film Institute award for TV program of the year, its estimated weekly viewership of one to two million falls far short of the numbers registered by top network shows. "Patience is a real virtue when it comes to watching 'The Americans,' a show that seems to move fast but is in fact excruciatingly deliberate," wrote a Washington Post reviewer. "Some dissatisfied readers have told me they find the show too cold to the touch and bereft of any hope." But fans sometimes find themselves rooting for the anti-heroes -- a concept firmly entrenched in the US television landscape since HBO introduced the world to Tony Soprano in the late 1990s. "Most of us feel we have enormous character defects and seeing them played out through these crazy concepts and crazy roles is reassuring in some way," said Nunan. "If you see Superman conquering everyone, how relatable is that?" Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Nick Jonas joins horror anthology 'Scream Queens'
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
Nick Jonas joins horror anthology 'Scream Queens'

The actor and singer is cast in Ryan Murphy's horror comedy, which is one of the rare new shows already ordered for this fall.Fox and Ryan Murphy are expanding the cast of "Scream Queens," their new horror comedy anthology, the first season of which is set on a college campus rocked by a series of murders. Nick Jonas has boarded the series, joining an impressive roster of stars including Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Joe Manganiello, Abigail Breslin, Keke Palmer and Ariana Grande. Like "American Horror Story," aired on FX, "Scream Queens" will have an anthology format, meaning that a new plot and setting will be introduced at the start of each season. To be shot this spring, the first episodes are due to air on Fox this fall. Nick Jonas, one of the three Jonas Brothers of the eponymous boy band, is no stranger to the small screen. Since starring with his brothers on the Disney Channel series "Jonas L.A.," the young actor has appeared in supporting roles on "Mr. Sunshine" (with Matthew Perry), "Smash" and "Hawaii Five-O." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Movies

Liam Hemsworth approached for a major role in 'Independence Day 2'
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
Liam Hemsworth approached for a major role in 'Independence Day 2'

The actor seen in "The Hunger Games" is eyed for a leading role in the sequel to Roland Emmerich's 1996 film, which starred Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum, TheWrap reports.Confirmed in late November by Roland Emmerich, who will return to the director's chair, the sequel to "Independence Day" has begun assembling its cast. If TheWrap's report proves accurate and Liam Hemsworth accepts the offer, he will be the third actor to join the project. Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman, who played the programmer David Levinson and the US President in the original blockbuster, respectively, have already agreed to reprise their roles. Will Smith, on the other hand, will not return for the sequel. A few weeks ago, rumors suggested that Michael B. Jordan, who plays Torch in the new "Fantastic Four" reboot, was also being courted for a role. Roland Emmerich will helm "Independence Day 2" from a script by James Vanderbilt, which is currently being re-written by screenwriter Carter Blanchards. The sequel is due for release in 2016. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

'Ghostbusters' cast set with McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon, Jones
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
'Ghostbusters' cast set with McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon, Jones

NEW YORK (AP) — The "Ghostbusters" reboot has set its all-female leads with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and a pair of "Saturday Night Live" performers. Director Paul Feig announced his stars by posting their pictures on Twitter on Tuesday. Joining McCarthy and Wiig are Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Feig tweeted that Sony Pictures will release the film in July 2016. Production is expected to begin later this year. The new "Ghostbusters" updates the original 1984 film and the 1989 sequel. Wiig and McCarthy both starred in "Bridesmaids," which Feig directed. He has since worked with McCarthy on all of his films, including their upcoming action comedy "Spy." McKinnon joined "SNL" in 2012. Jones first came to the show as a writer and transitioned into a featured player last fall. Copyright (2015) 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.

For Sundance hits, theatrical still rules over VOD
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
For Sundance hits, theatrical still rules over VOD

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — After the $40 million digital release of "The Interview," video-on-demand may seem like all the rage. Particularly for independent films, VOD is seen by some as a better pathway to moviegoers than trying to lure them to theaters. But many of the breakout hits at this year's Sundance Film Festival are still opting for a traditional theatrical rollout, even if filmmakers, stars and distributors see the tides changing down the line. For many distributors, the classic theatrical window simply still works. Magnolia Pictures President Eamonn Bowles is looking at a possible summertime theatrical release for Sean Baker's "Tangerine," the iPhone-shot film starring newcomers Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez that follows a transgender prostitute and her friend over one Christmas Eve in Los Angeles. Day-and-date, in which a film is released simultaneously in theaters and on video-on-demand, doesn't make sense for "Tangerine," Bowles said. "If there's a film with a big star or a large amount of awareness or a genre that's familiar to people, those can be better day-and-date or VOD candidates. But for a film like this, where there are really no stars in it? You have to establish its credentials prior to going on VOD," he said. Bowles hopes a theatrical rollout will help "get the reviews and the features and people gushing about it to establish its credibility first." Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, is also planning a traditional rollout for Sundance acquisitions "The Diary of a Teenage Girl," the '70s coming-of-age story with Kristin Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard and newcomer Bel Powley, and "Grandma," starring Lily Tomlin, but for different reasons. "For the movies we're pursuing, the VOD model doesn't really work," said Barker. "Can you imagine if we'd done day-and-date with 'Whiplash' as opposed to staying on the screen for five months? Staying on the screen for five months is what gives it that word-of-mouth that gets it the best picture nomination." The raised profile that comes with an Oscar nomination can also mean increased ticket sales and revenue streams down the line. "When the Academy Award nominations were announced, our box office gross was $6.7 million," said Barker of "Whiplash," which premiered at Sundance in 2014. "Since they were announced, the box office has boomed. This week alone, we're going to do $1.2 million or more in the box office and that is going to happen every week until and through the Oscars ... that would not be achievable if we did the VOD model," he said. Although Barker said Sony Pictures Classics has yet to have a film that is day-and-date, "we will eventually have one. It just doesn't seem to fit with the movies we've either acquired or made." Jeff Deutchman, vice president of acquisitions for Alchemy, believes there isn't a one-size-fits-all distribution model. "We think that you have to see a movie and figure out what the best release strategy is," he said. Alchemy acquired "Strangerland," starring Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving for a day-and-date release later this year. "It's a beautiful film that is going to be polarizing in a good way," Deutchman said. In other words, some people will want the theatrical experience for "Strangerland," and some will want to watch it in their living room. He thinks that although most filmmakers likely want a theatrical release, they're also amenable to hearing all options, thanks in part to "blockbuster success stories" like "The Interview," ''Snowpiercer" and "Veronica Mars." "Equally encouraging are some of the smaller success stories that have come out this year, with movies like 'The Babadook' and 'Elsa & Fred,' smaller films that both overperformed theatrically and on VOD," Deutchman said. The actors in Sundance films tended to think more about the consumer experience. "I am all about VOD. I'm a new mom. I don't leave my apartment," said Cobie Smulders, who has roles in both "Results," a rom-com about personal trainers (also a Magnolia acquisition), and "Unexpected." She did acknowledge, though, that nothing compares to collectively experiencing a film in a theater. "I think eventually everything will be released simultaneously on VOD and in theaters at the same time. I think we're headed in that direction. We're already there with a lot of films," added Brooklyn Decker, who has a bit part in "Results." Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler says filmmakers should be looking for alternative ways to release their movies. "The Internet is becoming more and more legitimized. A premiere with Vimeo or going straight to Netflix can have real meaning. I think those are very positive things," Strickler said. ___ Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Lindsey Bahr from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Netflix teases 'Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp'
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
Netflix teases 'Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp'

In a teaser for the upcoming miniseries, Netflix confirms the title and the star-studded cast, which includes Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and Christopher Meloni.David Wain's 2001 comedy feature "Wet Hot American Summer," set on the last day of a summer camp in 1981, is being revived as a limited series. Despite being a box office flop, the movie has gained a cult following over the past 14 years, so there is plenty of buzz surrounding Netflix's revival, which will take the form of a 10-episode prequel. In addition to revealing the title, the new teaser video officially confirms the return of the original cast members. Impressively, Netflix and Wain managed to round up all 15 of the original leading cast members, even those who have become major Hollywood stars in the intervening years. Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Meloni and Molly Shannon are among those who will reprise their roles as Camp Firewood counselors. They will be joined by Josh Charles, who played the lawyer Will Gardner on "The Good Wife," and by John Slattery, known for his role as Roger Sterling on "Mad Men." Watch the cast confirmation teaser for "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp": youtu.be/j12pk-IE3D0 Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Placido Domingo revives Woody Allen Puccini opera
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
Placido Domingo revives Woody Allen Puccini opera

Placido Domingo will star in a return to Los Angeles of Woody Allen's first opera production, Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi," the opera house said Tuesday.Allen first staged "Gianni Schicchi" at the Los Angeles Opera in 2008, adapting Puccini's work based on a side character in Dante's "Inferno" and transplanting the story to a more modern era with allusions to Italian cinema and a fast-paced comic style reminiscent of the director's films. The British baritone Thomas Allen -- no relation to the director -- performed in the title role in 2008. Domingo will star in the latest staging of "Gianni Schicchi" at the Los Angeles Opera, which opens as the season debut on September 12. The Spanish tenor, one of the world's most identifiable opera singers, is also performing in a production of Allen's "Gianni Schicchi" starting on June 30 at Madrid's Teatro Real. The announcement came as the Los Angeles Opera unveiled its 2015-16 season, which marks the 30th anniversary of the company in its current version. Domingo, who is the general director of the Los Angeles Opera, said in a statement that the company "crafted a season full of audience favorites" to mark the anniversary. Other highlights of the season include a March 2016 concert of arias and duets between Domingo and another opera superstar, Renee Fleming. The Los Angeles Opera will also present "Moby-Dick," an opera by US composer Jake Heggie that premiered in 2010 and is based on Herman Melville's classic novel. Woody Allen touched again on his love of Italian opera in his 2012 film "To Rome With Love." At age 79, Allen remains prolific and is planning to direct his own television show that will premiere in 2016 in a deal with online retail giant Amazon. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Events

For Sundance hits, theatrical still rules over VOD
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
For Sundance hits, theatrical still rules over VOD

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — After the $40 million digital release of "The Interview," video-on-demand may seem like all the rage. Particularly for independent films, VOD is seen by some as a better pathway to moviegoers than trying to lure them to theaters. But many of the breakout hits at this year's Sundance Film Festival are still opting for a traditional theatrical rollout, even if filmmakers, stars and distributors see the tides changing down the line. For many distributors, the classic theatrical window simply still works. Magnolia Pictures President Eamonn Bowles is looking at a possible summertime theatrical release for Sean Baker's "Tangerine," the iPhone-shot film starring newcomers Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez that follows a transgender prostitute and her friend over one Christmas Eve in Los Angeles. Day-and-date, in which a film is released simultaneously in theaters and on video-on-demand, doesn't make sense for "Tangerine," Bowles said. "If there's a film with a big star or a large amount of awareness or a genre that's familiar to people, those can be better day-and-date or VOD candidates. But for a film like this, where there are really no stars in it? You have to establish its credentials prior to going on VOD," he said. Bowles hopes a theatrical rollout will help "get the reviews and the features and people gushing about it to establish its credibility first." Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, is also planning a traditional rollout for Sundance acquisitions "The Diary of a Teenage Girl," the '70s coming-of-age story with Kristin Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard and newcomer Bel Powley, and "Grandma," starring Lily Tomlin, but for different reasons. "For the movies we're pursuing, the VOD model doesn't really work," said Barker. "Can you imagine if we'd done day-and-date with 'Whiplash' as opposed to staying on the screen for five months? Staying on the screen for five months is what gives it that word-of-mouth that gets it the best picture nomination." The raised profile that comes with an Oscar nomination can also mean increased ticket sales and revenue streams down the line. "When the Academy Award nominations were announced, our box office gross was $6.7 million," said Barker of "Whiplash," which premiered at Sundance in 2014. "Since they were announced, the box office has boomed. This week alone, we're going to do $1.2 million or more in the box office and that is going to happen every week until and through the Oscars ... that would not be achievable if we did the VOD model," he said. Although Barker said Sony Pictures Classics has yet to have a film that is day-and-date, "we will eventually have one. It just doesn't seem to fit with the movies we've either acquired or made." Jeff Deutchman, vice president of acquisitions for Alchemy, believes there isn't a one-size-fits-all distribution model. "We think that you have to see a movie and figure out what the best release strategy is," he said. Alchemy acquired "Strangerland," starring Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving for a day-and-date release later this year. "It's a beautiful film that is going to be polarizing in a good way," Deutchman said. In other words, some people will want the theatrical experience for "Strangerland," and some will want to watch it in their living room. He thinks that although most filmmakers likely want a theatrical release, they're also amenable to hearing all options, thanks in part to "blockbuster success stories" like "The Interview," ''Snowpiercer" and "Veronica Mars." "Equally encouraging are some of the smaller success stories that have come out this year, with movies like 'The Babadook' and 'Elsa & Fred,' smaller films that both overperformed theatrically and on VOD," Deutchman said. The actors in Sundance films tended to think more about the consumer experience. "I am all about VOD. I'm a new mom. I don't leave my apartment," said Cobie Smulders, who has roles in both "Results," a rom-com about personal trainers (also a Magnolia acquisition), and "Unexpected." She did acknowledge, though, that nothing compares to collectively experiencing a film in a theater. "I think eventually everything will be released simultaneously on VOD and in theaters at the same time. I think we're headed in that direction. We're already there with a lot of films," added Brooklyn Decker, who has a bit part in "Results." Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler says filmmakers should be looking for alternative ways to release their movies. "The Internet is becoming more and more legitimized. A premiere with Vimeo or going straight to Netflix can have real meaning. I think those are very positive things," Strickler said. ___ Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Lindsey Bahr from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Absolut Art Award shortlist announced
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
Absolut Art Award shortlist announced

Upmarket vodka brand Absolut has announced the finalists for its 2015 Absolut Art Award.A shortlist of five artists and five art writers has been selected by the award's jury across two separate categories, ‘Art Work' and ‘Art Writing'. Each finalists will suggest a "dream project", with the winners given the means to realize the work. The artists shortlisted include USA-based Trisha Donnelly, Franco-American Camille Henrot, Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, South Korean Minouk Lim and Frances Stark from the USA. The art writers shortlisted are Julia Bryan-Wilson, Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer and Helen Molesworth from the USA, Mark Godfrey from the UK and Dieter Roelstraete from Belgium. The biennial award was launched in 2009 to mark 30 years of creative collaborations between artists and Absolut. Both winners will receive a cash prize of €20,000, complemented by a budget of €100,000 for the artist to produce and exhibit a new project and €25,000 for the writer to be used towards the research and production of a new art publication. In 2013 the prize for ‘Art Work' was awarded to Renata Lucas and to Coco Fusco in the 'Art Writing' category. Lucas´s winning project featured a series of site-specific architectural interventions and installations located throughout the Pier Mauá area of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Coco Fusco will launch her winning project in collaboration with Tate Publishing in October 2015 during Frieze London. Previous Absolut Art Award winners have included Anri Sala (2011), Rirkrit Tiravanija (2010) and Keren Cytter (2009). The winning artist and writer will be announced on May 8. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Russian spies center stage in 'The Americans'
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
Russian spies center stage in 'The Americans'

The Cold War is officially over, so the concept of husband-and-wife KGB operatives killing, lying and spying in Washington -- under the nose of their FBI agent neighbor -- may seem a bit far-fetched.But the arrest this week of a suspected Russian agent posing as a New York banker lends new relevance to "The Americans," the critically acclaimed thriller returning to US television screens on Wednesday. Evgeny Buryakov, 39, was captured following more than two years of FBI surveillance as he allegedly fed economic intelligence to Moscow and sought to recruit US residents as sources. One of the central questions in "The Americans" -- which is set in the 1980s -- is whether the FBI will ever cotton onto Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. "It's obviously got a relevance today in that it parallels things that we hear in the news," said Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. "It has all the action and intrigue of being a spy series, but at the same time, it's a series about a marriage, about a family." Russell, who is dating her co-star Rhys, said the tense, slow-building FX show is really all about the characters. "Even in the context of this spy show, it's really just a look at a marriage," Russell says. Season three opens in 1982 -- the year that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev died as the Cold War appeared to be heating up. The series focuses on the KGB's insistence that Elizabeth and Philip start grooming their 14-year-old daughter Paige to spy for Moscow and the arguments which that order provokes between the couple. The relationship between the two -- whose marriage was arranged at the start for the KGB's purposes -- is constantly tested by the demands of their job and the love affairs they maintain with a tangled web of informants. To make matters worse, the family lives in the Washington suburbs next door to FBI Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), whose own liaison with a KGB double-agent unravelled at the end of last season. - Russians mad about stereotypes - War in Syria and the crisis in Ukraine have recently plunged US-Russian ties back to the froideur of the Cold War, but Russia has for decades offered fertile ground to American television writers. Next month, NBC is to premiere "Allegiance," adapted from an Israeli series, about a CIA analyst poised to discover that his parents and sister were part of a Soviet sleeper cell. Moscow has long been the go-to enemy in American popular culture, and Russians complain they are too frequently stereotyped as untrustworthy alcoholics involved in nefarious politics. "Everything that contradicts these stereotypes is excluded from conversation," said Dmitri Glinski, president of the Russian-speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx. "I do think that stereotyping, reinforced by the policies of the present Russian government and the state of US-Russian relations, hurts the Russian immigrant community in a very major way -- and worst of all those who do not conform to stereotypes." But critics say the Cold War backdrop to "The Americans" is indispensable even if, at its core, it is a show about family. "The super structure of the Cold War told through Russian spies on American soil is genius," said Tom Nunan of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. "It goes to two fundamental things about suburbia that I think really elevates the show to a completely different level, which is 'do I really know who my neighbor is' and more importantly, 'do I really know who my spouse is.'" While the show is a critical hit, twice winning the American Film Institute award for TV program of the year, its estimated weekly viewership of one to two million falls far short of the numbers registered by top network shows. "Patience is a real virtue when it comes to watching 'The Americans,' a show that seems to move fast but is in fact excruciatingly deliberate," wrote a Washington Post reviewer. "Some dissatisfied readers have told me they find the show too cold to the touch and bereft of any hope." But fans sometimes find themselves rooting for the anti-heroes -- a concept firmly entrenched in the US television landscape since HBO introduced the world to Tony Soprano in the late 1990s. "Most of us feel we have enormous character defects and seeing them played out through these crazy concepts and crazy roles is reassuring in some way," said Nunan. "If you see Superman conquering everyone, how relatable is that?" Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Theater legend Joel Grey reveals that he is gay
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
Theater legend Joel Grey reveals that he is gay

NEW YORK (AP) — Joel Grey has publicly announced at age 82 that he is gay. The Oscar- and Tony-winning actor tells People magazine, "I don't like labels, but if you have to put a label on it, I'm a gay man." Grey was married to actress Jo Wilder for 24 years and they have two children together: actress Jennifer Grey and son James, a chef. He says, "It took time to embrace that other part of who I always was." Grey's show-stopping performance as the devilish master of ceremonies in "Cabaret" won him an Academy Award and a Tony. After "Cabaret," Grey went on to star on Broadway in "George M!," the title role in "Goodtime Charley," Amos Hart in the revival of "Chicago," and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in "Wicked." Copyright (2015) 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.

"H is for Hawk" memoir scoops Britain's Costa Prize
Wednesday Jan 28, 2015
"H is for Hawk" memoir scoops Britain's Costa Prize

An academic's memoir of training a hawk while grieving the death of her father won Britain's prestigious Costa Book Award on Tuesday.It is the second leading award given to Helen Macdonald's "H is for Hawk", after the book became the first ever memoir to win the non-fiction Samuel Johnson Prize in November. Macdonald, 44, a Cambridge University historian and illustrator, said it was an "extraordinary privilege" to have been shortlisted and thanked readers who had shared their stories of grief. "It's made me very, very moved," Macdonald said. Appropriately, she had written the book in a Costa cafe, the brand that sponsors the award, the author noted. "I'm sure that when I go in again next week for a cup of tea they might even buy me a slice of cake," she joked. Formerly called the Whitbread award, the Costa Book Award was established in 1971 to celebrate British and Irish writing and £30,000 is awarded to the winner ($46,000, 40,000 euros). The bookmakers' favourite to win had been Ali Smith's "How to be Both", but "H is for Hawk" was an obvious winner, said novelist Robert Harris, who chaired the judging panel. "Several people felt very passionately that it haunted them and they would never forget it," Harris said. "Everyone agreed it was brilliantly written, wonderful kind of muscular prose really, precise scalpel-like prose and staring at grief with the unblinking eye of a hawk." In the memoir, the death of Macdonald's father reignites an obsession with birds of prey held since childhood. She buys her goshawk Mabel on a quay in Scotland for £800 (1,000 euros), and takes her home to Cambridge where her freezer is stocked with hawk food. Macdonald unplugs the phone and begins a year in seclusion as she trains the wild creature using traditional falconry methods while dealing with her grief. The story is interwoven with a biography of troubled novelist TH White, who decades earlier gave an account of his struggles to train a hawk in the 1951 book "The Goshawk". Last year's prize went to "The Shock of the Fall", a debut by Nathan Filer drawing on his experience as a mental health nurse. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.