Thursday Aug 28, 2014

Tony Soprano didn't die, show's creator reveals

Famed mob boss Tony Soprano did not die at the end of the iconic TV show's last season, its creator revealed Wednesday.The infamous final scene, which fades to black on Soprano eating with his wife and son in a New Jersey diner, triggered a storm when it ran in 2007. Some initially thought...
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TV

Tony Soprano didn't die, show's creator reveals
Thursday Aug 28, 2014
Tony Soprano didn't die, show's creator reveals

Famed mob boss Tony Soprano did not die at the end of the iconic TV show's last season, its creator revealed Wednesday.The infamous final scene, which fades to black on Soprano eating with his wife and son in a New Jersey diner, triggered a storm when it ran in 2007. Some initially thought their televisions had gone wrong. Critics said it wasn't fair to leave viewers in the lurch after six seasons, after preceding scenes showed mysterious characters milling around, and Soprano's daughter rushing to join him in the diner. What really happened -- well, in unwritten fictional terms at least -- remained a mystery. Until now. Series creator David Chase finally revealed all -- or a key fact anyway -- in an interview with online blogging site Vox.com. Asked repeatedly what happened to Soprano, chase at first became furious, asking his interviewer: "Why are we talking about this?" But he then finally gave a straight answer to the question of whether Tony Soprano was dead. "No," he said simply, according to Vox. "No, he isn't." The revelation leaves open the possibility that the series could be revived on screen. This seems highly unlikely, not least because James Gandolfini, the actor who played Soprano, died in June last year, aged 51. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Chris Soules is ABC's new 'Bachelor'
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
Chris Soules is ABC's new 'Bachelor'

NEW YORK (AP) — ABC has chosen its next "Bachelor." Chris Soules, who came in third last season on "The Bachelorette," will look for love among 25 women vying for his heart. His selection was announced Wednesday on "Good Morning America." The 32-year-old Iowa farmer said he was "humbled, flattered and grateful" to be selected. "My focus is gonna be to make the girls that are on the show as comfortable as possible," he said. "The Bachelor" features a single guy who goes on a series of dates to choose a potential bride. The last go-round with former pro soccer player Juan Pablo Galavis wasn't as popular as the network had hoped, and this time, ABC seemed to want to involve the fans in its decision for the upcoming season. For weeks, executive producer Mike Fleiss teased viewers on Twitter about who would become the next "Bachelor." One of the names in the running was race car driver Arie Luyendyk Jr., the runner-up on Emily Maynard's season of "The Bachelorette." Luyendyk was vocal about wanting the shot at televised love, often tweeting about it and pitching himself on various blogs. When he wasn't chosen, he wrote on Twitter, "I'm not the Bachelor, have fun on the farm people," essentially spoiling the announcement on "GMA." The new season is expected to begin production next month and will begin airing in January. ___ Online: http://abc.go.com/shows/the-bachelor Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'Cops' crew member killed in Omaha police shooting
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
'Cops' crew member killed in Omaha police shooting

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Police officers who opened fire while disrupting a robbery at a fast-food restaurant in Omaha killed a crew member with the TV show "Cops" as well as the suspect, who was armed with a pellet gun that they thought was a real handgun, authorities said Wednesday. The suspect fired from the pellet gun before officers returned fire, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said at a news conference. He said witnesses and officers thought the robbery suspect's Airsoft handgun looked and sounded real, but discovered later that it fires only plastic pellets. The suspect, whom police identified as 32-year-old Cortez Washington, was struck by the officers' gunfire, but fled outside of the restaurant before collapsing. Officers continued firing on the suspect as he exited the restaurant, and that was when the "Cops" crew member, 38-year-old Bryce Dion, was also struck, said Schamaderer. Dion was wearing a bulletproof vest, but a single bullet that hit his arm "slipped into a gap in the vest" and went into his chest, Schmaderer said. "My concern with my officers is that they are taking this very hard," Schmaderer said. "Bryce was their friend." Schmaderer said video captured by the cameraman who was with Dion shows the chaotic situation in the restaurant. Police released still shots from the video showing a hooded and masked person pointing what looks like a gun at police. Schmaderer said police would not release the full video, but that it will be part of the grand jury investigation into the shooting. Schmaderer said Washington had a lengthy criminal record, including an accessory to robbery conviction from Missouri for which he was on parole. He moved to Nebraska in September 2013, and his parole was due to expire in June 2017. Schmaderer said the incident began when one of the officers, on his way to another reported robbery, called to request backup for the robbery at the Wendy's. The "Cops" crew members were with two officers who responded to that request. When police entered the restaurant and confronted the suspect, Dion, who was the sound operator, got separated from the cameraman, Schmaderer said. "Cops" is a reality TV show that depicts law enforcement officers in action. According to its website, the show has been filmed in at least 140 U.S. cities and three foreign countries. Executives with Langley Productions said this was the first time one of their crew members has been fatally shot while filming. The show started on Fox in 1989 and is now shown on the Spike network. In 2010, a TV crew for the A&E reality show "The First 48" recorded a Detroit police raid in which a 7-year-old girl was accidentally killed by an officer. That incident highlighted concerns about whether TV cameras influence police behavior, perhaps encouraging showboating. Schmaderer on Wednesday bristled at a reporter's question about whether his officers overreacted knowing that cameras were recording them, calling the suggestion "absolutely ridiculous." He said the video of Tuesday's shooting shows the officers reacted properly. Schmaderer said he accepted the invitation from "Cops" to film in Omaha in the name of transparency. But he also expressed regret at the outcome. "Personally, I will live with this forever," Schmaderer said. "If I'd have known that this would happen, of course, I wouldn't have done it." Key executives for Langley Productions, President John Langely and Executive Producer Morgan Langley, attended the police news conference in Omaha and agreed that police there had acted professionally. John Langley said the crew had been filming all summer in Omaha and had only one week left when the deadly shooting happened. "Bryce has been with us for seven years," said Morgan Langley, who hired Dion. "This is very hard for us." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

William Greaves, TV host and filmmaker, dead at 87
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
William Greaves, TV host and filmmaker, dead at 87

NEW YORK (AP) — William Greaves, the Emmy-award winning co-host and executive producer of a groundbreaking television news program and a prolific filmmaker whose subjects ranged from Muhammad Ali to the Harlem Renaissance to the black middle class, has died at age 87. Greaves died Monday at his Manhattan home after a prolonged illness, according to his granddaughter, Liani Greaves. A minister's son born in New York City, Greaves had a diverse background that included drawing, acting, dance and engineering. He leaves behind a vast film archive of black art and culture. Greaves made hundreds of movies, and in the 1960s, he served as co-host and executive producer of "Black Journal," among the first TV news programs designed for a black audience. "Black Journal" won an Emmy in 1970 for excellence in public affairs. He studied engineering at City College of New York, but dropped out to pursue a career in the performing arts. He joined the American Negro Theatre, where fellow members included Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier, and was briefly part of The Actors Studio, with Marlon Brando among his peers. Greaves appeared in "Lost in the Stars," "Lost Boundaries" and other movies, but he became frustrated with the roles offered black performers, especially after being asked to play a porter in a Broadway revival of "Twentieth Century." He moved to Canada and immersed himself in documentary-making as part of the National Film Board of Canada. The rise of the civil rights movement opened up chances for work in the United States, and in the early '60s, he returned and formed William Greaves Productions. His notable documentaries included "Still a Brother: Inside the Black Middle Class" and "From These Roots," about the Harlem Renaissance. In 1966, at the request of the United States Information Agency, he traveled to Senegal and filmed the First World Festival of Negro Arts, which featured Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes, among others. He also made the experimental "Symbiopyschotaxiplasm: Take One," what he called a "cosmic comedy" about a director (Greaves) facing a rebellion from his cast and crew. A cult favorite admired by Steven Soderbergh, "Symbiopyschotaxiplasm" was filmed in the late 1960s, but wasn't released until 2005. One of Greaves' most widely seen productions was "Ali, the Fighter," a documentary about the 1971 championship fight between Ali and Joe Frazier, a 15-round bout won by Frazier. In a 1991 interview with The Associated Press, Greaves recalled that his biggest challenge was getting the boxers to forget he was there. "When Ali finally caught up with the film, he was amazed," Greaves said. "He said, 'How did you get that?' 'You shot this?' He was involved with his own life, and he didn't know what we were doing." In 1968, Greaves was selected to co-host "Black Journal," a news magazine developed by National Educational Television that premiered two months after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The show was a mix of spot news, investigative reporting and satire billed as being by, for and about blacks, with segments including a Harvard University commencement speech by King's widow, Coretta Scott King, and a feature about the black horse jockey Ronnie Tanner. But many of the initial productions were controlled by whites. Several black staffers walked out, with demands that included a black executive producer. Greaves was given the job. He left in 1970 to continue making movies, and "Black Journal" eventually became "Tony Brown's Journal." In 1959, Greaves married Louise Archambault, who collaborated on many of his films. They had three children. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Celebrities join public TV anti-dropout effort
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
Celebrities join public TV anti-dropout effort

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tony Bennett and Edward James Olmos are among the celebrities joining a public media effort to boost school graduation rates. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and TV station WNET New York announced details Wednesday of next month's American Graduate Day 2014. The daylong broadcast will include interviews and performances celebrating the work of those nationwide helping youth to succeed at school and work. Also set to participate are Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Colin Powell and actress Allison Williams and her family, including anchorman dad Brian Williams. Author Wes Moore will host the third American Graduate Day, airing Sept. 27 on public stations (check local listings) and available online. The program's part of an initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to address the U.S. dropout crisis. ___ Online: http://americangraduate.org/american-graduate-day-2014 Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Movies

Batman or Birdman? Venice fest opens with superhero film
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
Batman or Birdman? Venice fest opens with superhero film

The Venice film festival opened with a bang on Wednesday with a brilliant superhero dark comedy that delves into the cinema and theatre worlds to explore the drug that is fame.The first flick to compete at the world's oldest film festival, Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance", stars Michael Keaton of "Beetlejuice" and "Batman" fame. In one of 20 films vying for the coveted Golden Lion award, Keaton plays a washed-up actor who was once famous for playing the "Birdman" superhero but is now struggling to stage a Broadway play in a bid to regain his former glory. For all his attempts to create a worthy on-stage performance, he finds it increasingly difficult to leave the "Birdman" character behind, hearing his rich, gravelly tones in his head, calling for a return to the big screen. The line between fiction and reality blurs as Keaton's character Riggan struggles to keep his superpowers under control and allows his self-pity and arrogance to distract him from serious family and girlfriend problems. Unlike his Don Quixote-style character here, Keaton said he was not haunted by his "Batman" films -- but that everyone is by their own personal "Birdman". "I love the idea of Birdman following you around. You all got a Birdman in your life, it's your negative ego, so you either make peace with him or kick his arse or make him sit in the back seat, but you have to drive a car," he said. The film pokes fun at both actors and critics, such as the tweed-wearing interviewer who references philosopher Roland Barthes, or one of the actresses who asks her co-star "Why don't I have any self respect?", to which the reply is: "Because you're an actress, honey." - 'Spicy Mexican chili' - Crowd-pleaser Gonzalez Inarritu, best known for his films "21 Grams" and "Babel", brought on board other superhero veterans for the movie, including Emma Stone from "The Amazing Spiderman" and Edward Norton, star of "The Incredible Hulk". "After so many films, dramatic films that in a way has a lot of enfrijoladas, enchiladas, and spicy mexican chilli, I wanted a little dessert!" Gonzalez Inarritu told a press conference on Venice's Lido island. "I wanted to go away from my comfort zone and jump into something that I really wanted... to laugh on set!" he said, while admitting that one of the biggest challenges was shooting the action in a series of long takes. "No one had the opportunity to hide, transform or manipulate. There was a huge amount of rehearsal. Everything that seems seamless and natural on screen, we were really all in panic," he said. Stone said the experience was so intense it gave her an eye twitch, but she loved every minute, while Norton -- who plays a provocative rival to Keaton -- said everyone on set "was working for the same thing -- to hear Gonzalez Inarritu scream 'yes!'" "After 10 hours, when you finally get it, it was sort of like a party at the end of every day!" he said. New York City plays an important part in the film as does the soundtrack, an unusual juxtaposition of classical music and the cacophony of drums -- an original approach that may see the film win favours with French jury president Alexandre Desplat, the first film composer in Venice to hold the role. The in-competition lineup features Iranian director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad's drama "Tales" and French comedy "La Rancon de la Gloire" by Xavier Beauvois on Thursday. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Ex-007 Brosnan back as spy in new action thriller
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
Ex-007 Brosnan back as spy in new action thriller

Former 007 star Pierce Brosnan returns to the world of guns and spies in "The November Man," an action thriller that pits his character against his former CIA bosses, with explosive effect.The Irish actor, who has never hidden his desire to have played James Bond for a little longer, said he is still up to the action game despite his 61 years -- although he had to work hard to get in shape. "I like my beer, I like my wine," said the man who took on the role of Britain's most famous fictional spy in four Bond movies. "I have to keep up. Tennis, work out, work out, play tennis... I have had so many trainers." Shot in Belgrade, his latest movie -- out Wednesday in the United States -- includes all the classic action flick elements -- car chases, traitors and beautiful women waiting to be saved (ex-Bond girl Olga Kurylenko). "The November Man," which was co-produced by Brosnan and based on a series of novels by Bill Granger, tells the adventures of Peter Devereaux, a former CIA hitman brought out of retirement for one last mission. His task: to extract a female spy, who just happens to be the mother of his daughter, from Moscow because she has evidence of sex crimes committed by a Russian presidential candidate. Devereaux's former spy trainee, David Mason (Luke Bracey) is tasked in parallel with killing the former lover. Devereaux is devastated and vows vengeance against his former protege. As the story threatens to blow up in the CIA's face, Mason is given the mission of killing his former mentor, whom he still respects and admires. - 'Like being an ambassador' - Brosnan admits that playing a hard-living spy again after 12 years was tough. "There is a certain mileage on the bones, the heart and the soul," he told a small group of reporters. "You have to work just as hard (in terms of training), but you don't have to try so hard" in terms of credibility, given his 007 fame, he added. The imposing actor, who has deep blue eyes and still a star-power smile despite his years on the celebrity circuit, said training was tough. "I have to do work. Nothing comes from nothing," he said, joking that he was "sick" of trainers, although he also had to train some of them in how to drink Guinness. Said to have vowed to become an actor after seeing Sean Connery in "Goldfinger," Brosnan talks easily and openly about his time as Her Majesty's most famous spy. "It is like being an ambassador to a small country. You have to hold it lightly, wear it with pride, surrender to it and not be trapped by any ego or fear," he said. "If you give any resistance or any negative energy it will eat you up. You have to celebrate it, enjoy it, you saved the world four times!" Ukrainian-French actress Kurylenko, who hit the big time with 2008 Bond movie "Quantum of Solace" starring Brosnan's successor Daniel Craig, calls the Irish actor "lovely" and "charming." "He doesn't intimidate you, he's very approachable," she added. - Technology challenges - Director Roger Donaldson, who had already worked with Brosnan on 1997's "Dante's Peak," added: "He's a smart, intelligent guy (who has) made the best of his fame." This included "not letting his fame destroy him like maybe Robin Williams did," he said, referring to the comedy icon's recent death by apparent suicide. One of the challenges in making "The November Man" was to adapt the books to include modern technology, including cell phones, hacking and drones, the filmmaker added. "The world of spying these days probably looks like Edward Snowden stories, people just intercepting phone calls and keeping track of each other," he said, referring to the US intelligence leaker. "But blackmailing people, getting compromising pictures of them or getting them in compromising situations I'm sure is alive and well." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Hanks, Howard signed for 'Inferno' production
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
Hanks, Howard signed for 'Inferno' production

The third film based on Dan Brown's Robert Langdon series, "Inferno," is to start filming in Italy come April 2015, with Tom Hanks and Ron Howard both on board.Ron Howard returns to direct, and Hanks is back as Robert Langdon, with much of the book's narrative taking place in Florence and Venice. The old projected release date for "Inferno," December 2015, now appears highly unlikely, Howard having been involved with March 2015 maritime adaptation "In The Heart of the Sea," and Hanks with another film of literary origins, "A Hologram for the King," expected toward the end of 2015. Assisting Howard as a fellow producer is business partner Brian Grazer ("A Beautiful Mind," "Get on Up"), reports Deadline. Its predecessors cleared over $1bn at the box office, with "The Da Vinci Code" released in May 2006 ($758m worldwide) and "Angels & Demons" following in 2009 ($485m). Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Stars flock to Venice as world's oldest film fest begins
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
Stars flock to Venice as world's oldest film fest begins

The Venice film festival kicks off Wednesday with the arrival of stars by water taxi for an art house dominated line-up rich with tales of war, poetry and the mafia.Taking the stage first at the world's oldest film festival will be Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance", starring Michael Keaton of "Beetlejuice" and "Batman" fame. In the first of 20 flicks vying for the coveted Golden Lion award, Keaton plays a washed-up actor once famous for playing a superhero, who is now struggling to put on a broadway play in a bid to regain his former glory. Crowd-pleaser Inarritu, best known for his films "21 Grams" and "Babel", pampers fans by bringing on board other superhero veterans for the movie, including Emma Stone from "The Amazing Spiderman" and Edward Norton, star of the 2008 "The Incredible Hulk". Other hotly-awaited world premieres include "Good Kill" by New Zealand's Andrew Niccol, starring Ethan Hawke as a drone operator in Afghanistan, and David Gordon Green's "Manglehorn" with Al Pacino as an ex-con turned locksmith with a broken heart. French film composer Alexandre Desplat -- whose dozens of works include the scores for "The King's Speech" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" -- will head up the main jury at the festival, which runs until September 6. Desplat was among the cinema luminaries quaffing prosecco at the festival's opening party on a roof terrace near Saint Mark's Square in the floating city Tuesday, kicking off a fortnight of glamorous beach galas and red-carpet ceremonies. Festival director Alberto Barbera brushed off criticisms that this year's edition was light on Hollywood stars, saying the aim of the organisers had been to create space for high-quality, innovative flicks which risk falling through the cracks. "I have nothing against glamour, but it cannot be the only component in a festival. The idea is to explore cinema today in all its complexities," he said. The festival is bringing a new generation of artists to the Lido this year with its first edition of a gap-financing market -- which matches young producers in need of funds with investors and distributors -- as well as Final Cut, which showcases finished films from Africa and the Middle East to buyers. While still in its infancy, the Venice market -- now in its third year -- recorded a 25 percent increase in the number of producers and agents attending last year, with a particularly strong showing from China, according to Barbera. There is buzz from critics already over the only first feature competing for the Lion, the Turkish "Sivas", by Kaan Mujdeci, about a young boy who befriends a dog he saves from a fight in a bid to protect himself from a violent society. American Ramin Bahrani looks at the fallout of the economic crisis with his drama "99 Homes" about a father trying to recover his house after an eviction, while Russia's Andrei Konchalovsky dwells on loneliness in "The Postman's White Nights". The only documentary in competition is "The Look of Silence", Joshua Oppenheimer's follow-up to his acclaimed 2012 "The Act of Killing", which this time sees Indonesian genocide survivors confront the killers of their brother. Out of competition slots have gone to US director Peter Bogdanovich's "She's Funny That Way", a comedy starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, as well as American Lisa Cholodenko's four-part HBO series "Olive Kitteridge", starring Bill Murray, and pulp master Joe Dante's horror comedy "Burying the Ex". Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'Walking Dead' star to hunt a ghost with Nicolas Cage
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
'Walking Dead' star to hunt a ghost with Nicolas Cage

Sarah Wayne Callies has joined the cast of "Pay the Ghost," a thriller due to enter production next month.At age 37, the actress is in the limelight more than ever before. After breaking through in her role as Sara Tancredi on "Prison Break" and later playing Lori Grimes on "The Walking Dead," Sarah Wayne Callies is now in theaters in the natural disaster movie "Into the Storm." In "Pay the Ghost," the actress will play the ex-wife of the protagonist played by Nicolas Cage. The former husband and wife reteam to rescue their son, who has been missing for a year, when they come to believe he is being held captive by a vengeful ghost known to kidnap children at Halloween. Adapted from a short story by Tim Lebbon, the supernatural thriller will be directed by Uli Edel ("The Baader Meinhof Complex") from a screenplay by Dan Kay. The project is slated to begin lensing next month in Toronto. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Events

Argentine duo world tango champions, male pair close behind
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
Argentine duo world tango champions, male pair close behind

An Argentine couple danced their way to first place in the stage competition at the 12th annual World Tango Championship, where a same-sex pair also took home a top prize for the first time.Manuela Rossi and Juan Malizia Gatti came in first place before a crowd of 7,000 spectators who gathered Tuesday at Buenos Aires' Luna Park stadium in the heart of the city's La Boca tango district. The pair, also a couple in real life, had been awarded second place in the two previous years. Landing in fourth, however, were twin brothers from the nearby city of Lanus, whose victory marked the first world championship award for a same-sex pair. The world of tango experienced a shake-up last year, when same-sex couples were allowed to compete in the championships for the first time. Although such pairs are now seen as out of the ordinary in the milongas, or dance halls, where tango is celebrated, historians say that women were initially prohibited from participating in a dance that was considered prostitute-like in Argentina, where it was invented. A total of 19 finalists from Argentina, Colombia, Russia and Greece competed against each other in the stage tango category, which is more flashy and acrobatic than traditional ballroom tango. The top five spots went to Argentine pairs. On Monday, Argentine Sebastian Acosta and Uruguayan Lorena Gonzalez took home the top prize for the more traditional ballroom portion of the competition. UNESCO added tango to its world heritage list of intangible treasures in 2009, and 600,000 people attended this year's competition and side events, according to organizers. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Batman or Birdman? Venice fest opens with superhero film
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
Batman or Birdman? Venice fest opens with superhero film

The Venice film festival opened with a bang on Wednesday with a brilliant superhero dark comedy that delves into the cinema and theatre worlds to explore the drug that is fame.The first flick to compete at the world's oldest film festival, Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance", stars Michael Keaton of "Beetlejuice" and "Batman" fame. In one of 20 films vying for the coveted Golden Lion award, Keaton plays a washed-up actor who was once famous for playing the "Birdman" superhero but is now struggling to stage a Broadway play in a bid to regain his former glory. For all his attempts to create a worthy on-stage performance, he finds it increasingly difficult to leave the "Birdman" character behind, hearing his rich, gravelly tones in his head, calling for a return to the big screen. The line between fiction and reality blurs as Keaton's character Riggan struggles to keep his superpowers under control and allows his self-pity and arrogance to distract him from serious family and girlfriend problems. Unlike his Don Quixote-style character here, Keaton said he was not haunted by his "Batman" films -- but that everyone is by their own personal "Birdman". "I love the idea of Birdman following you around. You all got a Birdman in your life, it's your negative ego, so you either make peace with him or kick his arse or make him sit in the back seat, but you have to drive a car," he said. The film pokes fun at both actors and critics, such as the tweed-wearing interviewer who references philosopher Roland Barthes, or one of the actresses who asks her co-star "Why don't I have any self respect?", to which the reply is: "Because you're an actress, honey." - 'Spicy Mexican chili' - Crowd-pleaser Gonzalez Inarritu, best known for his films "21 Grams" and "Babel", brought on board other superhero veterans for the movie, including Emma Stone from "The Amazing Spiderman" and Edward Norton, star of "The Incredible Hulk". "After so many films, dramatic films that in a way has a lot of enfrijoladas, enchiladas, and spicy mexican chilli, I wanted a little dessert!" Gonzalez Inarritu told a press conference on Venice's Lido island. "I wanted to go away from my comfort zone and jump into something that I really wanted... to laugh on set!" he said, while admitting that one of the biggest challenges was shooting the action in a series of long takes. "No one had the opportunity to hide, transform or manipulate. There was a huge amount of rehearsal. Everything that seems seamless and natural on screen, we were really all in panic," he said. Stone said the experience was so intense it gave her an eye twitch, but she loved every minute, while Norton -- who plays a provocative rival to Keaton -- said everyone on set "was working for the same thing -- to hear Gonzalez Inarritu scream 'yes!'" "After 10 hours, when you finally get it, it was sort of like a party at the end of every day!" he said. New York City plays an important part in the film as does the soundtrack, an unusual juxtaposition of classical music and the cacophony of drums -- an original approach that may see the film win favours with French jury president Alexandre Desplat, the first film composer in Venice to hold the role. The in-competition lineup features Iranian director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad's drama "Tales" and French comedy "La Rancon de la Gloire" by Xavier Beauvois on Thursday. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

William Greaves, TV host and filmmaker, dead at 87
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
William Greaves, TV host and filmmaker, dead at 87

NEW YORK (AP) — William Greaves, the Emmy-award winning co-host and executive producer of a groundbreaking television news program and a prolific filmmaker whose subjects ranged from Muhammad Ali to the Harlem Renaissance to the black middle class, has died at age 87. Greaves died Monday at his Manhattan home after a prolonged illness, according to his granddaughter, Liani Greaves. A minister's son born in New York City, Greaves had a diverse background that included drawing, acting, dance and engineering. He leaves behind a vast film archive of black art and culture. Greaves made hundreds of movies, and in the 1960s, he served as co-host and executive producer of "Black Journal," among the first TV news programs designed for a black audience. "Black Journal" won an Emmy in 1970 for excellence in public affairs. He studied engineering at City College of New York, but dropped out to pursue a career in the performing arts. He joined the American Negro Theatre, where fellow members included Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier, and was briefly part of The Actors Studio, with Marlon Brando among his peers. Greaves appeared in "Lost in the Stars," "Lost Boundaries" and other movies, but he became frustrated with the roles offered black performers, especially after being asked to play a porter in a Broadway revival of "Twentieth Century." He moved to Canada and immersed himself in documentary-making as part of the National Film Board of Canada. The rise of the civil rights movement opened up chances for work in the United States, and in the early '60s, he returned and formed William Greaves Productions. His notable documentaries included "Still a Brother: Inside the Black Middle Class" and "From These Roots," about the Harlem Renaissance. In 1966, at the request of the United States Information Agency, he traveled to Senegal and filmed the First World Festival of Negro Arts, which featured Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes, among others. He also made the experimental "Symbiopyschotaxiplasm: Take One," what he called a "cosmic comedy" about a director (Greaves) facing a rebellion from his cast and crew. A cult favorite admired by Steven Soderbergh, "Symbiopyschotaxiplasm" was filmed in the late 1960s, but wasn't released until 2005. One of Greaves' most widely seen productions was "Ali, the Fighter," a documentary about the 1971 championship fight between Ali and Joe Frazier, a 15-round bout won by Frazier. In a 1991 interview with The Associated Press, Greaves recalled that his biggest challenge was getting the boxers to forget he was there. "When Ali finally caught up with the film, he was amazed," Greaves said. "He said, 'How did you get that?' 'You shot this?' He was involved with his own life, and he didn't know what we were doing." In 1968, Greaves was selected to co-host "Black Journal," a news magazine developed by National Educational Television that premiered two months after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The show was a mix of spot news, investigative reporting and satire billed as being by, for and about blacks, with segments including a Harvard University commencement speech by King's widow, Coretta Scott King, and a feature about the black horse jockey Ronnie Tanner. But many of the initial productions were controlled by whites. Several black staffers walked out, with demands that included a black executive producer. Greaves was given the job. He left in 1970 to continue making movies, and "Black Journal" eventually became "Tony Brown's Journal." In 1959, Greaves married Louise Archambault, who collaborated on many of his films. They had three children. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Source: BET suspends producer after Blue Ivy joke
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
Source: BET suspends producer after Blue Ivy joke

NEW YORK (AP) — BET has suspended a producer after a joke about Beyonce and Jay Z's daughter that aired Monday on the network's music video countdown show, "106 & Park." A source at BET, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to discuss the matter publicly, said the producer was suspended after a remark about 2-year-old Blue Ivy's hair. On Monday's show during a segment about Blue Ivy's hypothetical thoughts during Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, guest host Karrueche Tran said: "I really did wake up like this, because my parents never comb my hair." Blue Ivy joined her mother onstage at the VMAs. Stephen Hill, BET's president of music programming and specials, publicly apologized on Twitter. "Last night on 106 & Park there was a stupid, unthoughtful joke made about a young child," Hill tweeted. Hill also said the network privately apologized to Beyonce and Jay Z. BET didn't return an email seeking comment Wednesday. Tran, who has dated singer Chris Brown, tweeted Tuesday that she did not write the joke. She wrote: "Now y'all know I LOVE me some Beyonce and Blue Ivy!" Hill also tweeted that it was not Tran's fault. "We also apologize to her for putting her in that position," he wrote. ___ Follow Mesfin Fekadu at twitter.com/MusicMesfin MusicMesfin Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Keaton hailed in Venice Film Fest opener 'Birdman'
Wednesday Aug 27, 2014
Keaton hailed in Venice Film Fest opener 'Birdman'

VENICE, Italy (AP) — Well before the turn of the millennium, Michael Keaton was the first 21st-century superhero. Keaton's role as Batman in two Tim Burton-directed blockbusters a quarter of a century ago made him a global star, and helped spawn a Hollywood obsession with comic-book franchises that has put a generation of leading men into spandex. Whether that was good for the movies, or the stars, is at the heart of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)," which opened the 71st Venice Film Festival on Wednesday. The soul-searching supernatural comedy-drama stars Keaton as Riggan Thomson, an over-the-hill actor, once famous as avian superhero Birdman, struggling to regain his self-worth by mounting a heavyweight Broadway play. So how much Michael Keaton is there in Thomson? "That's the giant elephant in the room," the actor conceded in a Venice press conference. But, he added, he'd recently been to Africa and was very fond of elephants. Keaton, 62, insisted he's happy with his place in movie history, but said the credit for reshaping superhero movies should go to Burton. "It's been copied, sliced up, what Tim did — more than cocaine from a cartel," Keaton said. "He changed a lot and I was part of that, and proudly so." The movie gets much of its verve from the major parallels between the careers of Keaton and his character. Thomson worries that he is stuck in the 90s — "I'm an answer to a Trivial Pursuit question," he laments — and has had to watch younger actors such as Robert Downey Jr. and Michael Fassbender take his place. Inarritu, whose earlier films include "Babel" and "21 Grams," said he cast Keaton in part because he was one of the "few people in the world (who) has authority to talk about that" experience. "Birdman" is one of 20 films competing for the Golden Lion top prize at the festival, which runs to Sept. 6. Whether or not it wins, many critics predicted it would be a hit — and re-energize Keaton's career. Variety labeled Keaton's performance "the comeback of the century," while Britain's Daily Telegraph called the movie "grand, spectacular, star-powered cinema." It is a genuinely unusual film that mixes backstage comedy, philosophical musing and explosive special effects. Keaton's character is torn between his desire to make high art — with a stage play based on a story by Raymond Carver — and an instinct to tell art to take a hike and focus on fame. His baser instincts are voiced by his Birdman alter-ego, who seems to live inside his head, and at times follows him around. "I wanted the humor to come from his solemn ambitions to succeed, despite this reality that is proving to him that he will never do it," Inarritu said. "Which is basically the story of every human being, every one of us, every day." Keaton said his character is "wonderfully pathetic and at the same time noble," and his foibles are matched by those of the other characters. Edward Norton plays an actor who is talented and obnoxious in equal measure, Emma Stone is Thomson's disillusioned daughter and Amy Ryan his ex-wife. Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough and Zach Galifianakis play members of the troupe trying to put on the play. "Birdman'''s cinematographer is Emmanuel Lubezki, who won an Academy Award for "Gravity," but it's style is light years from that high-tech space thriller. Shot in long takes full of movement and zingy dialogue, the film sometimes feels like it could be by Robert Altman or even Woody Allen, though Inarritu's surrealist sensibility adds spice. Keaton said he was frequently "petrified." Stone — no stranger to superheroes from "The Amazing Spider-Man" films — fared even worse: "I developed an eye twitch." "I was terrified," she said. "And when it ended all I wanted to do was go back and do it again." ___ Follow Jill Lawless at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.