Sunday Nov 23, 2014

Bruno Mars Sang Backup While Mystikal Rapped On 'SNL'

Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson turned the "Saturday Night Live" stage into the funkiest dance club in New York City last night during the performance of their new hit, "Uptown Funk." But for Mars and Ronson's second song, a very unexpected guest joined the duo. For "Feel Right," Mars took the backseat...
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TV

Bruno Mars Sang Backup While Mystikal Rapped On 'SNL'
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
Bruno Mars Sang Backup While Mystikal Rapped On 'SNL'

Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson turned the "Saturday Night Live" stage into the funkiest dance club in New York City last night during the performance of their new hit, "Uptown Funk." But for Mars and Ronson's second song, a very unexpected guest joined the duo. For "Feel Right," Mars took the backseat and joined his backup singers while rapper Mystikal took over. For those who remember, Mystikal is the rapper best known for the early '00s songs "Shake Ya Ass" (or the edited version, "Shake It Fast"), "Danger" and "Bouncin' Back." Mystikal is back and used his aggressive rap-yelling to bring a lively James Brown-esque vibe to the "SNL" stage for "Feel Right." Watch the full clip above as Mystikal raps and Mars twirls and sings in the background, trying to pretend he's still not the star of the show. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/23/bruno-mars-mystikal-snl_n_6207202.html

Cameron Diaz Answers Weird Questions In 'SNL' Monologue
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
Cameron Diaz Answers Weird Questions In 'SNL' Monologue

Cameron Diaz hosted this weekend's episode of "Saturday Night Live" in promotion for the upcoming remake of "Annie." Diaz kicked off the show with a sub-three-minute monologue that felt like it had been cooked up an hour before she hit the stage. After talking about lighting up the "big turkey" in Rockefeller Center, Diaz fielded several silly questions from the "SNL" cast, like "I think you're hot," "Was filming 'The Other Woman' so much fun?" and "Is Shrek just as grumpy in real life?" After answering all of them seriously, sex with Tony Danza came about and that was Diaz's cue to wrap it up. Watch the clip above. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/23/cameron-diaz-snl-monologue_n_6207270.html

Podcast murder mystery 'Serial' hooks fans worldwide
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
Podcast murder mystery 'Serial' hooks fans worldwide

For 15 years, nobody outside Maryland cared much about the murder of a South Korean-born high school teen, supposedly at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, the son of Pakistani immigrants.Now, it seems, everyone does. The perplexing tale of Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed is at the heart of "Serial," an hour-long weekly podcast that's become an unlikely global Internet phenomenon. Fans speak of being "addicted" and "obsessed" with the program.Those who caught the bug early can't wait for Thursdays, when fresh instalments drop. Latecomers binge on past episodes. It's been downloaded more than five million times from Apple's iTunes store, where it's a Top 10 hit in the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, India, South Africa and Germany. - Who's telling the truth - It can also be heard on the show's www.serialpodcast.org website. Between episodes, online chatter rages on social media. Reddit hosts an exhaustive "Serial" discussion board. Bloggers speculate who's telling the truth -- and who might not be. "Serial" is a spin-off from "This American Life," a long-running and hip US public radio series that's famous for quirky topics and laid-back story-telling style. Its runaway success -- as a podcast, no less -- has taken its creators by surprise. "We kind of expected to be in the sleepier realms of the podcast world," senior producer Julie Snyder told AFP on Tuesday in a telephone interview from New York. We were hoping for good numbers. But we were not at all expecting so many people listening and writing about the show and having a lot of interest about the show," she said. "And it's international. We didn't plan for that at all." Serial" comes across as part investigative journalism, part police procedural, part soap opera, with a nod to the 19th century serialized novels of Charles Dickens and Emile Zola. Hae and Adnan -- everyone in "Serial" is called by their first name by narrator and journalist Sarah Koenig -- are high school sweethearts who keep their love a secret from their conservative immigrant families. In the opening episodes, both come across as bright all-American teenagers -- popular, getting good grades, holding down part-time jobs, looking forward to prom night. But when romance turns to break-up, Adnan, overcome by anger, strangles Hae and, with a pal, buries her in a shallow grave, where a passerby finds her three weeks later. At least, that's the version that prosecutors gave jurors at a six-week trial that ended with Adnan getting a life sentence in a Maryland penitentiary, where he remains at the age of 32. Koenig revisits the case in forensic detail -- interviewing witnesses who sometimes contradict themselves, pursuing neglected leads, chatting regularly by phone with the imprisoned Adnan, who maintains he is innocent. - Looking for a fix - One "Serial" fan is Emily Best, an indie film crowdfunding consultant, who binged-listened to the first seven episodes while driving non-stop across the entire state of Kansas. When Thursday came around with episode eight, she told AFP by email, "we were up early in the morning like junkies looking for a fix." In California, teacher Michael Godsey revealed this week that he is using "Serial" in lieu of Shakespeare in his high school English class this semester. "In fact, it's been more fun, more engaging, and more conducive to learning ... than anything written by Shakespeare, Joyce, or anybody else," he wrote on his blog. "By far." Unclear is whether "Serial" might turn up fresh material that would compel judicial authorities to reopen the case -- and Snyder said that's not the point of the show, either. "We've said from the beginning that we don't know where it's going to end," she added, ahead of Thursday's release of episode nine. "Serial" is likely to run for about 12 episodes overall, but the producer cautioned: "We don't know for sure, because we are still doing the reporting." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Afghanistan's first fun park brings joy amid war
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
Afghanistan's first fun park brings joy amid war

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Excitement builds in the queue forming behind the barbed-wire security fence outside Afghanistan's first amusement park as children in bright clothes clutch their parents' hands and hop from foot to foot in anticipation of the pleasures waiting behind the high concrete blast walls. For the thousands of families who have visited Kabul's City Park since it opened during a national religious holiday weekend in October, it is a rare escape from lives blighted by war, death and misery. Squealing children hardly know where to look as they race through the gates. Inside, they find large friendly characters that look almost, but not quite, like Minnie Mouse and Tom the cat from Tom and Jerry — all dancing together and dispensing hugs. Traditional fairground rides — including a Ferris wheel and bumper cars — attract the older kids, while a carousel, face painting and games keep younger children happy. "It's very nice, everything is very beautiful, the carousel horse ride is nice," said 6-year-old Sadaf through a gap-toothed grin as she had her face decorated like a mouse. Set at the foot of the snow-capped Hindu Kush mountains, next to the filthy Kabul River and near a zoo famous only for its abused, one-eyed lion, City Park is one of few places residents of the Afghan capital can take their children for a relaxing day out. The city of almost 6 million people is a virtual fortress. Major buildings are protected by concrete and barbed wire, roads are choked with traffic as former thoroughfares are blocked to prevent suicide bombers reaching potential targets like the Presidential Palace. Gun-toting security forces guard almost every street corner. Afghanistan has been at war for more than 30 years, and while U.S. and NATO combat troops prepare to leave next month, the Taliban insurgency shows no sign of abating. Few families in Kabul have been untouched by the violence, said Almas Qaseemi, the park's deputy general manager. "The park is a place for entertainment, and there is not much of that in Afghanistan." "We have a great feeling when we see our people forget their sorrows for a few minutes and smile when they come here," Qaseemi said. Thousands come every day, he said, peaking on the weekly Friday holiday at close to 10,000. The park is set on 10 hectares (24 acres) of land owned by the Kabul Municipal Government and leased for five years to a private company called Mufkora — which means "concept" in English. Rahela Kohistani, the municipality's cultural director, said that $1.5 million has been invested in the park with the municipal authority taking 26 percent of profits and the rest going to Mufkora. "So far we are happy, and it seems that people are happy, too," she said. For Ishfaq Ahmad Adeb, 20, who spends his days at City Park as Tom the cat, and 18-year-old Omid who plays Minnie Mouse, the children's joy rubs off. "When the children see me in this outfit, they really believe that Minnie Mouse has come to Kabul," said Omid. "They laugh and try to shake hands with me, they really enjoy it." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Bill Cosby Says He Won't Answer To 'Innuendos'
Saturday Nov 22, 2014
Bill Cosby Says He Won't Answer To 'Innuendos'

Before Bill Cosby took the stage at a sold-out theater in Melbourne, Florida on Friday night, he broke his silence on the recent sexual assault allegations. While speaking with Florida Today, the 77-year-old comedian addressed the claims and revealed his reason for silence. "I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn't have to answer to innuendos," Cosby told the publication. "People should fact check. People shouldn't have to go through that and shouldn't answer to innuendos." In addition to the Florida Today interview, Cosby's lawyer, Marty Singer, released a statement to ABC News on Friday about his client: "This situation is an unprecedented example of the media’s breakneck rush to run stories without any corroboration or adherence to traditional journalistic standards. Over and over again, we have refuted these new unsubstantiated stories with documentary evidence, only to have a new uncorroborated story crop up out of the woodwork. When will it end?" Cosby has previously refused to answer questions regarding allegations that he sexually assaulted several women. In an interview with NPR's Scott Simon broadcast on Nov. 15, Cosby shook his head and remained silent when asked to respond to the claims. Cosby also refused to respond to the AP's Brett Zongker regarding the allegations, saying, "No, no, we don't answer that." He later requested, still on the record, that the AP interview be "scuttled." For more from Cosby, head to Florida Today. Singer's full statement is available at ABC. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/22/bill-cosby-innuendos_n_6204248.html

Movies

From Arnie to Zsa Zsa: the immigrant road to Hollywood
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
From Arnie to Zsa Zsa: the immigrant road to Hollywood

Arnold Schwarzenegger famously made it big in Hollywood from humble -- and foreign -- beginnings. But he was hardly the first newcomer to strike gold in Tinseltown.From Charlie Chaplin's 1917 film "The Immigrant" to 1990's hit "Green Card" and 2011's "A Better Life," the story of Tinseltown has long been a tale of immigrants, whose lives are reflected back on screen. Be it Jews arriving from -- or often fleeing -- eastern Europe, the Italians and Irish bringing their distinctive styles, or British actors landing plum roles in the latest blockbusters, the path is well trodden. "Beyond the Jewish emigres, (the entertainment business) has benefited from all of America's great immigrant tribes," Tom Nunan, a film producer who teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles told AFP. These included "the black Irish humor, the Italian operas, the dance traditions of South America and Spain .. All influenced first Broadway, then our film and TV traditions," he told AFP. The list of foreign actors drawn by Hollywood's bright lights is like a Who's Who of Golden Age showbiz: Audrey Hepburn (British/Dutch), Cary Grant (English), Sophia Loren (Italian) or Zsa Zsa Gabor (Hungarian). The link between immigrants and Hollywood goes all the way back to Tinseltown's founding in the early years of the 20th century. As waves of newcomers arrived, the early silent movies were the perfect entertainment for masses who didn't speak the language, and had just enough spare change for the cheap seats. The original Hollywood moguls were all Jews from central or eastern Europe. Universal was founded by Germany's Carl Laemmle; Hungarians Adolph Zukor and William Fox started Paramount and Fox Film Corporation; Russian Louis B Mayer launched Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, while the Warner Brothers hailed from Poland. - Fleeing from Nazis - Their arrival and achievements in their adopted land are detailed in "An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood" by Neal Gubler, a standard textbook on the subject. "As immigrants themselves, they had a peculiar sensitivity to the dreams and aspirations of other immigrants and working class families ... groups that made up a significant portion of the early moviegoing audience," Gubler writes. Later the steady trickle of Jewish writers, producers and others turned into a flood as Hitler's Nazi regime took hold, forcing an exodus of actors and filmmakers including Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder and Marlene Dietrich. Hollywood's Jewish roots have led to the old anti-Semitic chestnut that Tinseltown is entirely controlled by Jews -- a variant of which erupts into the news every so often, typically involving a drunken outburst from an actor. "You would hear complaints about Hollywood, and sometimes it was just 'it's too violent, it's too sexy'," said Robert Thompson, media professor at Syracuse University in New York state. "But often it was disguised ways of simply being anti-Semitic," he told AFP. Two areas of the world which have been under-represented in Hollywood are Africa and Asia, along with the story of African Americans within the United States. Eddie Murphy famously made a speech about the lack of black Oscar winners at the 1988 Academy Awards, pointing out that there had only been three in the past six decades. There have been breakthroughs: in 2002 Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won best actor and actress, in 2012 "The Help" secured a win for Octavia Spencer, while this year black British director Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" won Best Picture and an Oscar for Kenyan-born star Lupita Nyong'o. On the Asian front, Thompson said: "In the more modern era, over the past half century or so we've had various immigration waves from Asian countries. - Globalization - "That immigration wave has not been reflected very much in mainstream culture, which I always found kind of surprising," he added. Everything is relative, of course -- Ang Lee, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan have made careers. And one thing is for sure: Hollywood is increasingly targeting Asia, and specifically China, as a huge market for its products. Of course, a key influence on Hollywood in the last 20 years has been globalization, the force which has impacted every other facet of public and economic life in the late 20th and early 21st century. Both actors and directors in Hollywood can now just as easily be from overseas. The director pattern was confirmed at this year's Oscars, where Mexico's Alfonso Cuaron ("Gravity") became the fourth non-US filmmaker in a row to win Best Director, after Ang Lee (Taiwan, "Life of Pi"), Michel Hazanavicius (France, "The Artist") and Tom Hooper (Britain, "The King's Speech.") "It is a trend," said Thompson. "Part of it has to do with the fact that big budget movies are made here. And when you rise to a certain place ... Hollywood is one of the places that you go... if you want to make it truly big." Thus all those British and Irish stars making their names in Tinseltown including: Daniel Day-Lewis, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, and Colin Farrell. Other Europeans have joined them: French stars Jean Dujardin in "The Artist" and "The Wolf of Wall Street", Omar Sy of "X-Men" fame, and Austria's Christoph Waltz, a favorite of Quentin Tarantino. Arnie, the Austrian muscleman turned A-list actor, made it so big here that he became governor of California -- a rags-to-riches story that, some might say, could only have been dreamt up in Hollywood. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

New world record for Corto Maltese comic book art
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
New world record for Corto Maltese comic book art

A watercolour of the graphic novel hero Corto Maltese has sold at auction for a record 391,800 euros ($485,500), just months after a Tintin strip set a new world high for a comic of 2.65 million euros. The artwork for a 1979 French edition of Corto Maltese in Africa -- "Corto Maltese - Les Ethiopiques" -- went for more than twice the original estimate, the French auction house Artcurial said Sunday. Maltese, a sophisticated sailor adventurer whose stories are set in the early decades of the 20th century, was the creation of the Venetian comic book writer Hugo Pratt. Like his most famous character, Pratt (1927-1995) -- a cousin of the Frankenstein actor Boris Karloff -- was a restless cosmopolitan who divided his time between France, Britain, Argentina and Italy, and spent a large part of his youth in Ethiopia, where the adventure takes place. Some 400 lots of comic art were sold at the auction in Paris on Saturday, Artcurial said, with the highest price fetched by a Tintin strip from "The Castafiore Emerald", signed by its creator Herge, going for 404,500 euros. The Herge original that set a new work record in May was a two-page spread of 34 small drawings of Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy in some of their most famous scrapes. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'Mockingjay, Part 1' opens with $123 million
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
'Mockingjay, Part 1' opens with $123 million

NEW YORK (AP) — "Mockingjay, Part 1" didn't catch fire like the previous installments of "The Hunger Games," but it still had the biggest opening of the year with $123 million at the weekend box office, according to studio estimates Sunday. Lionsgate's "Mockingjay" opened well below the $158 million debut of last year's "Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and the $153 million opening of the 2012 original. But even with a $30-million-plus slide in the franchise, "Mockingjay" far surpassed the previous top weekend of the year: the $100 million debut of "Transformers: Age of Extinction." The result made for some unusual ironies. The biggest opening of the year (and by a wide margin) was seen by some as a disappointment. After initial box office receipts of "Mockingjay" rolled in Friday suggested a weekend take below expectations, Lions Gate Entertainment's stock dipped 5 percent. But the decision to split the final book in Suzanne Collins' dystopian trilogy into two films was clearly lucrative for Lionsgate. "Mockingjay" did even better overseas, where it made $152 million over the weekend, accounting altogether for a $275 million global opening. "It's the biggest opening of the year, so it really illustrates the strength of the franchise," said David Spitz, head of distribution for Lionsgate, noting the North American opening was the 15th best ever. Spitz declined to answer questions about Wall Street's reaction to the opening, or what the effect may have been of splitting the third book in two. "It speaks for itself," Spitz said of the result. Dividing the book pushed much of the big drama of "Mockingjay" to the second film, scheduled for release in November 2015. On the same November weekend in 2010, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" — which similarly split the series' last book into two — opened almost identically with $125 million. A year later, the second "Deathly Hallows" film debuted bigger than all previous "Harry Potter" films with $169 million. "A little perspective is in order here," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box office tracker Rentrak. He called the "Mockingjay" results "still an astonishing feat." "I'm not worried about this franchise," Dergarabedian said. The release calendar made way for "Mockingjay," as no other new wide releases hit theaters. In its third week of release, the Disney animated adventure "Big Hero 6" moved into second place with $20.1 million. Christopher Nolan's space epic "Interstellar" came in third with $15.1 million, also in its third week. Last week's top film, the long-in-coming sequel "Dumb and Dumber To," slid considerably. The Universal comedy dropped to fourth place with $13.8 million. Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday. 1. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1," $123 million ($152 million international). 2. "Big Hero 6," $20.1 million ($7 million international). 3. "Interstellar," $15.1 million ($70 million international). 4. "Dumb and Dumber To," $13.8 million ($6.5 million international). 5. "Gone Girl," $2.8 million ($2.4 million international). 6. "Beyond the Lights," $2.6 million. 7. "St. Vincent," $2.4 million. 8. "Fury," $1.9 million ($12.4 million international). 9. "Birdman," $1.9 million. 10. "The Theory of Everything," $1.5 million. ___ Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak: 1. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1," $152 million. 2. "Interstellar," $70 million. 3. "Fury," $12.4 million. 4. "Rise of the Legend," $11.9 million. 5. "Penguins of Madagascar," $8.7 million. 6. "Big Hero 6," $7 million. 7. "Dumb and Dumber To," $6.5 million. 8. "The Imitation Game," $3.3 million. 9. "Gone Girl," $2.4 million. 10. "Don't Go Breaking My Heart 2," $2.3 million. ___ Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle at http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP . Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cameron Diaz Answers Weird Questions In 'SNL' Monologue
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
Cameron Diaz Answers Weird Questions In 'SNL' Monologue

Cameron Diaz hosted this weekend's episode of "Saturday Night Live" in promotion for the upcoming remake of "Annie." Diaz kicked off the show with a sub-three-minute monologue that felt like it had been cooked up an hour before she hit the stage. After talking about lighting up the "big turkey" in Rockefeller Center, Diaz fielded several silly questions from the "SNL" cast, like "I think you're hot," "Was filming 'The Other Woman' so much fun?" and "Is Shrek just as grumpy in real life?" After answering all of them seriously, sex with Tony Danza came about and that was Diaz's cue to wrap it up. Watch the clip above. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/23/cameron-diaz-snl-monologue_n_6207270.html

Woody Harrelson Didn't Know Liam & Chris Hemsworth Were Brothers
Saturday Nov 22, 2014
Woody Harrelson Didn't Know Liam & Chris Hemsworth Were Brothers

Everyone knows who Chris Hemsworth is. Not only does the actor play Thor, but he was just named People's Sexiest Man Alive. Woody Harrelson, however, didn't realize that his "Hunger Games" co-star Liam Hemsworth was the "Thor" star's brother. In an interview for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" from last year that's been making the rounds again, Harrelson has the major realization that the Hemsworth brothers are related. As Liam is talking to the interviewer, whose first name is also Chris, about his brother's upcoming film, you can see a look of astonishment cross Harrelson's face. “Jesus, I never got that he was your brother,” Harrelson says to Hemsworth. “Until just now. I honestly never put that together." Harrelson may have helped solved one of TV's greatest murder mysteries earlier this year in "True Detective," but when it comes to last names, things go right over his head. Watch the interview above and fast forward to 3:52 to witness Harrleson's discovery. H/T MTV. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/22/woody-harrelson-hemsworth_n_6204944.html

Events

From Arnie to Zsa Zsa: the immigrant road to Hollywood
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
From Arnie to Zsa Zsa: the immigrant road to Hollywood

Arnold Schwarzenegger famously made it big in Hollywood from humble -- and foreign -- beginnings. But he was hardly the first newcomer to strike gold in Tinseltown.From Charlie Chaplin's 1917 film "The Immigrant" to 1990's hit "Green Card" and 2011's "A Better Life," the story of Tinseltown has long been a tale of immigrants, whose lives are reflected back on screen. Be it Jews arriving from -- or often fleeing -- eastern Europe, the Italians and Irish bringing their distinctive styles, or British actors landing plum roles in the latest blockbusters, the path is well trodden. "Beyond the Jewish emigres, (the entertainment business) has benefited from all of America's great immigrant tribes," Tom Nunan, a film producer who teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles told AFP. These included "the black Irish humor, the Italian operas, the dance traditions of South America and Spain .. All influenced first Broadway, then our film and TV traditions," he told AFP. The list of foreign actors drawn by Hollywood's bright lights is like a Who's Who of Golden Age showbiz: Audrey Hepburn (British/Dutch), Cary Grant (English), Sophia Loren (Italian) or Zsa Zsa Gabor (Hungarian). The link between immigrants and Hollywood goes all the way back to Tinseltown's founding in the early years of the 20th century. As waves of newcomers arrived, the early silent movies were the perfect entertainment for masses who didn't speak the language, and had just enough spare change for the cheap seats. The original Hollywood moguls were all Jews from central or eastern Europe. Universal was founded by Germany's Carl Laemmle; Hungarians Adolph Zukor and William Fox started Paramount and Fox Film Corporation; Russian Louis B Mayer launched Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, while the Warner Brothers hailed from Poland. - Fleeing from Nazis - Their arrival and achievements in their adopted land are detailed in "An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood" by Neal Gubler, a standard textbook on the subject. "As immigrants themselves, they had a peculiar sensitivity to the dreams and aspirations of other immigrants and working class families ... groups that made up a significant portion of the early moviegoing audience," Gubler writes. Later the steady trickle of Jewish writers, producers and others turned into a flood as Hitler's Nazi regime took hold, forcing an exodus of actors and filmmakers including Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder and Marlene Dietrich. Hollywood's Jewish roots have led to the old anti-Semitic chestnut that Tinseltown is entirely controlled by Jews -- a variant of which erupts into the news every so often, typically involving a drunken outburst from an actor. "You would hear complaints about Hollywood, and sometimes it was just 'it's too violent, it's too sexy'," said Robert Thompson, media professor at Syracuse University in New York state. "But often it was disguised ways of simply being anti-Semitic," he told AFP. Two areas of the world which have been under-represented in Hollywood are Africa and Asia, along with the story of African Americans within the United States. Eddie Murphy famously made a speech about the lack of black Oscar winners at the 1988 Academy Awards, pointing out that there had only been three in the past six decades. There have been breakthroughs: in 2002 Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won best actor and actress, in 2012 "The Help" secured a win for Octavia Spencer, while this year black British director Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" won Best Picture and an Oscar for Kenyan-born star Lupita Nyong'o. On the Asian front, Thompson said: "In the more modern era, over the past half century or so we've had various immigration waves from Asian countries. - Globalization - "That immigration wave has not been reflected very much in mainstream culture, which I always found kind of surprising," he added. Everything is relative, of course -- Ang Lee, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan have made careers. And one thing is for sure: Hollywood is increasingly targeting Asia, and specifically China, as a huge market for its products. Of course, a key influence on Hollywood in the last 20 years has been globalization, the force which has impacted every other facet of public and economic life in the late 20th and early 21st century. Both actors and directors in Hollywood can now just as easily be from overseas. The director pattern was confirmed at this year's Oscars, where Mexico's Alfonso Cuaron ("Gravity") became the fourth non-US filmmaker in a row to win Best Director, after Ang Lee (Taiwan, "Life of Pi"), Michel Hazanavicius (France, "The Artist") and Tom Hooper (Britain, "The King's Speech.") "It is a trend," said Thompson. "Part of it has to do with the fact that big budget movies are made here. And when you rise to a certain place ... Hollywood is one of the places that you go... if you want to make it truly big." Thus all those British and Irish stars making their names in Tinseltown including: Daniel Day-Lewis, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, and Colin Farrell. Other Europeans have joined them: French stars Jean Dujardin in "The Artist" and "The Wolf of Wall Street", Omar Sy of "X-Men" fame, and Austria's Christoph Waltz, a favorite of Quentin Tarantino. Arnie, the Austrian muscleman turned A-list actor, made it so big here that he became governor of California -- a rags-to-riches story that, some might say, could only have been dreamt up in Hollywood. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Iggy Azalea, Taylor Swift set for 2014 AMAs
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
Iggy Azalea, Taylor Swift set for 2014 AMAs

Is this the American Music Awards or the Australian Music Awards? Iggy Azalea, who was born Down Under, is the lead nominee at Sunday's show. She will compete for top awards such as artist, new artist and single of the year for her smash hit, "Fancy." The 24-year-old will also perform — she will take the stage with Jennifer Lopez for "Booty" — when the show airs live from Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. Another Australian act, the boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, will battle Azalea for new artist of the year, capping out a successful year with a sold-out tour and top-selling debut album. Pitbull will host the 42nd annual AMAs, airing on ABC, and he will also perform. The night will feature a slew of A-Listers onstage: Taylor Swift, who will open the show, Garth Brooks, Fergie, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Imagine Dragons, Lil Wayne, Lorde, Nicki Minaj, One Direction and Sam Smith. Azalea will battle heavyweights for artist of the year. Beyonce, Luke Bryan, One Direction and Katy Perry are her competitors. Perry, Pharrell and John Legend are also up for multiple awards. Their hits "Dark Horse," ''Happy" and "All of Me" will compete with "Fancy" and MAGIC's "Rude" for single of the year. All of the songs reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Azalea, Perry and Lorde are nominated for favorite female artist — pop/rock, while Legend, Pharrell and Smith are nominated for favorite male artist — pop/rock. Legend and Pharrell are also up for favorite male artist — soul/R&B, along with Chris Brown. Bryan, who was named entertainer of the year at the Country Music Association Awards this month, is up against Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean for favorite male artist — country. Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Kacey Musgraves are nominated for favorite female artist — country. Swift, whose "1989" sold more than 1 million units in its debut week, will receive the first-ever Dick Clark Award for Excellence. "All About That Bass" singer Meghan Trainor, who will be a presenter, will battle Azalea, Smith, 5 Seconds of Summer and Bastille for new artist of the year. Other presenters include Drake, Jamie Foxx, Khloe Kardashian, Jenny McCarthy and T.I. The soundtrack for "Frozen," the year's top-selling album, is nominated for top soundtrack and will compete with "The Fault In Our Stars" and "Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix, Vol. 1," which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. ___ Online: http://www.theamas.com/ ___ Follow Mesfin Fekadu at twitter.com/MusicMesfin Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Director Lou Ye's 'Blind Massage' sweeps Chinese 'Oscars'
Saturday Nov 22, 2014
Director Lou Ye's 'Blind Massage' sweeps Chinese 'Oscars'

Chinese director Lou Ye's drama starring blind amateur actors as massage therapists scooped top honours at the Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan on Saturday, touted as the Chinese-language "Oscars"."Blind Massage," a portrayal of the romance and dreams of visually impaired massage therapists, was the biggest winner, with six gongs out of seven nominations. It scooped awards including the coveted best feature film, best adapted screenplay and best new performer for Zhang Lei, herself a visually impaired masseuse. "It took a long time to shoot the film. I want to thank everyone for their contributions and I want to thank the blind actors who are not here," Lou said after receiving the best film award at a glitzy ceremony in Taipei's Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Lou was previously best known for his politically charged love story "Summer Palace", which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival without government approval in 2006 and led to him receiving a five-year ban on film-making in China. Veteran Chinese actor Chen Jianbin walked away with most personal awards, setting a record at the Golden Horse awards for winning both best leading actor and best new director for playing a farmer in his directorial debut "A Fool". He also bagged best supporting actor for his role as a homesick soldier in Taiwanese director Doze Niu's military drama "Paradise in Service". "I want to thank the Golden Horse jury for giving me this encouragement ... I will continue to shoot more and better works with this encouragement," he said. Taiwan's Chen Shiang-chyi beat the critics' favourites -- Chinese stars Gong Li and Zhao Wei -- to claim the best leading actress title for her role as a lonely middle-aged woman struggling with family and work problems in "Exit". "I want to thank the director for choosing me to play this role or I won't be standing here today... I love Taiwanese films and as a member of Taiwan's film (industry) I am happy to win the 51st Golden Horse best leading actress award." Another surprise winner was Hong Kong's Ann Hui for directing "The Golden Era," which is based on the real-life story of a famed Chinese female writer in the early 20th century. "I didn't expect to win ... I don't know what to say," Hui admitted her surprise after receiving her third best director statuette. She last won the award in 2011 for the family drama "A Simple Life". However, Chinese director Diao Yinan's cop thriller "Black Coal, Thin Ice," which led the pack with eight nominations and was a favourite for best film, took only the best art direction award. Taiwan's hit baseball movie "Kano", which had six nominations including best film and best actor for Japan's Masatoshi Nagase, walked away empty-handed. China is traditionally a strong contender at the awards, but has faced increasing competition from Taiwan and Hong Kong in recent years. This year mainland films and actors dominated the nominations in major categories and fared well. Nearly 40 films were nominated for the 51st edition of the Golden Horse Film Awards, which are styled on the US Academy Awards but are decided by a jury along the lines of the Cannes film festival. Chinese American actress and director Joan Chen chaired the jury this year. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Winners at the 51st Golden Horse film awards
Saturday Nov 22, 2014
Winners at the 51st Golden Horse film awards

List of winners at the 51st Golden Horse film awards in Taiwan: Best Feature Film: "Blind Massage" Best Director: Ann Hui, "The Golden Era" Best Leading Actor: Chen Jianbin, "A Fool" Best Leading Actress: Chen Shiang-chyi, "Exit" Best Supporting Actor: Chen Jianbin, "Paradise in Service" Best Supporting Actress: Wan Qian, "Paradise in Service" Best New Director: Chen Jianbin, "A Fool" Best New Performer: Zhang Lei, "Blind Massage" Best Original Screenplay: "Meeting Dr. Sun" Best Screenplay Adaptation: "Blind Massage" Best Cinematography: "Blind Massage" Best Visual Effects: "The Midnight After" Best Art Direction: "Black Coal, Thin Ice" Best Makeup/Costume Design: "Brotherhood of Blades" Best Action Choreography: "As the Light Goes Out" Best Film Editing: "Blind Massage" Best Original Film Score: "Coming Home" Best Original Film Song: The Road We Pass, "The Continent" Best Sound Effects: "Blind Massage" Best Documentary: "Cotton" Best Short Film: "The Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping" Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year: Jimmy Huang Lifetime Achievement Award: Tian Feng Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

YouTube goes online for second Music Awards
Friday Nov 21, 2014
YouTube goes online for second Music Awards

The YouTube Music Awards are undergoing an overhaul for their second edition next year, scrapping a star-studded gala and instead looking at videos' online buzz.The blockbuster video-sharing site in November 2013 debuted the YouTube Music Awards, with a livestreamed show from New York that appeared aimed at creating a next-generation, new-media successor to the MTV Video Music Awards. The YouTube inaugural awards have had more than 54 million views but received a mixed reception among social media users. One common criticism was that the awards lacked a unique YouTube flavor, with rap superstar Eminem -- no stranger to accolades -- chosen as Artist of the Year. YouTube, which is owned by Google, said Wednesday that instead of a physical-world show, which in 2013 was hosted by director Spike Jonze, it would transform the site for one day in March 2015 to present the awards. "For one special day, music will be the headline act on YouTube," the company's official blog said. "We'll take this moment to celebrate the biggest and emerging artists through new and unique music video collaborations with top directors and creators," it said. While eager to reach out to music lovers, YouTube will scrap the inaugural awards' methodology of counting votes from fans. Instead, the YouTube Music Awards will use metrics that already exist on the video-sharing site to determine popularity, a company official said. The second awards ceremony will aim to be forward-looking by identifying videos that are expected to generate buzz in the coming year, rather than honoring past performances, the official said. The decision to hold a second round of the YouTube Music Awards comes as the company promotes a new subscription service. The company last week introduced YouTube Music Key, which will allow subscribers to listen to music without advertisements and without an Internet connection. Through YouTube Music Key, Google is seeking a greater slice of the online music business and to compete more forcefully with the likes of Spotify's streaming service, Apple's iTunes and Pandora Internet Radio. YouTube promised to debut a number of videos by prominent artists in the coming months ahead of the awards. Unlike many prizes, the YouTube Music Awards have been international in scope. At the inaugural edition, the South Korean pop group Girls' Generation, which has a wide following in Asia, beat out Western superstars to win Video of the Year for "I Got a Boy." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.