Saturday Sep 20, 2014

Polly Bergen, versatile actress, singer dies at 84

NEW YORK (AP) — Emmy-winning actress and singer Polly Bergen, who in a long career played the terrorized wife in the original "Cape Fear" and the first woman president in "Kisses for My President," died Saturday, according to her publicist. She was 84. Bergen died at her...
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TV

Polly Bergen, versatile actress, singer dies at 84
Saturday Sep 20, 2014
Polly Bergen, versatile actress, singer dies at 84

NEW YORK (AP) — Emmy-winning actress and singer Polly Bergen, who in a long career played the terrorized wife in the original "Cape Fear" and the first woman president in "Kisses for My President," died Saturday, according to her publicist. She was 84. Bergen died at her home in Southbury, Connecticut, from natural causes, said publicist Judy Katz, surrounded by family and close friends. A brunette beauty with a warm, sultry singing voice, Bergen was a household name from her 20s onward. She made albums and played leading roles in films, stage musicals and TV dramas. She also hosted her own variety series, was a popular game show panelist, and founded a thriving beauty products company that bore her name. In recent years, she played Felicity Huffman's mother on "Desperate Housewives" and the past mistress of Tony Soprano's late father on "The Sopranos." Bergen won an Emmy in 1958 portraying the tragic singer Helen Morgan on the famed anthology series "Playhouse 90." She was nominated for another Emmy in 1989 for best supporting actress in a miniseries or special for "War and Remembrance." Talking to women in a business group in 1968, she said her definition of success was "when you feel what you've done fulfills yourself, makes you happy and makes people around you happy." Bergen was 20 and already an established singer when she starred with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in her first movie, "At War With the Army." She joined them in two more comedies, "That's My Boy" and "The Stooge." In 1953, she made her Broadway debut with Harry Belafonte in the revue "John Murray Anderson's Almanac." In 1957-58 she starred on the musical-variety "The Polly Bergen Show" on NBC, closing every broadcast with her theme song, "The Party's Over." Also during the 1950s, she became a regular on the popular game show "To Tell the Truth." Bergen published the first of her three advice books, "The Polly Bergen Book of Beauty, Fashion and Charm" in 1962. That led to her own cosmetics company, which earned her millions. Bergen became a regular in TV movies and miniseries, most importantly in the 1983 epic "The Winds of War" and the 1988 sequel, "War and Remembrance." She appeared as the troubled wife of high-ranking Navy officer Pug Henry, played by Robert Mitchum. Mitchum also had the key role in the landmark 1962 suspense film, "Cape Fear," as the sadistic ex-convict who terrorizes a lawyer (Gregory Peck) and his wife (Bergen) and daughter because he blames Peck for sending him to prison. The film was remade in 1991 by Martin Scorsese. In 1964's "Kisses for My President," Bergen was cast as the first female U.S. president, with Fred MacMurray as First Gentleman. (In the end, the president quits when she gets pregnant.) When Geena Davis portrayed a first woman president in the 2005 TV drama "Commander in Chief," Bergen was cast as her mother. Among her other films was "Move Over, Darling" (1963) with Doris Day and James Garner, Susan Seidelman's 1987 "Making Mr. Right," and John Waters' 1990 "Cry-Baby," with Johnny Depp. A fierce ambition prevailed throughout Bergen's entertainment career and in her business life. She walked out of early contracts with Paramount and MGM because she thought her film roles were inadequate. As the president of the Polly Bergen Co., founded in 1966, she arrived at her office at 9 a.m. and worked a full day. "It was very difficult at the beginning," she said in 2001, "because everybody considered me just another bubble-headed actress." She sold the company in 1973 to Faberge, staying on for a couple of years afterward to run it as a Faberge subsidiary. Bergen employed the same zeal in reviving her performing career after a series of personal setbacks of the 1990s. She played successful dates at cabarets in New York and Beverly Hills. When she was refused an audition for the 2001 Broadway revival of "Follies," she contacted composer Stephen Sondheim. He auditioned her and gave her the role of a faded star who sings of her ups and downs in show business. The show-stopping song, "I'm Still Here," was reminiscent of Bergen's own saga. She was nominated for a Tony award for her role. In 2002 she played a secondary role in the revival of "Cabaret" and the following year she was back on Broadway with the comedy "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks." Nellie Paulina Burgin was born in 1930 in Knoxville, Tennessee, into a family that at times relied on welfare to survive. They family eventually moved to California, and Polly, as she was called, began her career singing on radio in her teens. "I was fanatically ambitious," she recalled in 2001. "All I ever wanted to be was a star. I didn't want to be a singer. I didn't want to be an actress. I wanted to be a star." But over the years, Bergen's personal life was not as smooth as her career. Her four-year marriage to actor Jerome Courtland ended in an acrimonious divorce in 1955. Her second marriage to super-agent and producer Freddie Fields. The couple divorced in 1975 after 18 years. In 1982 she married entrepreneur Jeff Endervelt. She co-signed his loans and gave him millions to invest from her beauty company profits. She said in a 2001 New York Times interview: "He would come home and say, 'Honey, sign this.' I wouldn't even look at it. Because you trust your husband." The stock market crash of the 1980s wiped out the investments. She divorced him in 1991, and she said he left her with so many debts she had to sell her New York apartment and other belongings to avoid bankruptcy. She also battled emphysema and other ailments in the late 1990s, a result of 50 years of smoking. She is survived by her children Peter Fields, Kathy Lander and Pamela Fields and three grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, her family is asking that donations be made to Planned Parenthood, said her publicist, Katz. ___ Biographical material in this story was written by The Associated Press' late Hollywood correspondent Bob Thomas. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'King Arthur': Astrid Bergès-Frisbey cast as Guinevere
Saturday Sep 20, 2014
'King Arthur': Astrid Bergès-Frisbey cast as Guinevere

Previously seen in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and soon to appear in "I Origins," the French actress has joined the cast of Guy Ritchie's movie based on the Arthurian legend.The 28-year-old actress will play King Arthur's wife Guinevere, whose story arc will almost certainly include an extramarital affair with Sir Lancelot. Astrid Bergès-Frisbey will share the screen with Charlie Hunnam ("Sons of Anarchy") in the title role and Idris Elba as the knight Sir Bedivere. Release dates have not been announced for "Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur." In the meantime, the French actress will be seen in Mike Cahill's "I Origins," a sci-fi drama in which a molecular biologist (Michael Pitt) falls in love with a young woman (Bergès-Frisbey) before she dies. On the verge of making an extraordinary scientific discovery, the character travels to India to confirm his theory.   Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

YouTube most popular: Lip Sync Battle, J-Lo and Derek Jeter
Saturday Sep 20, 2014
YouTube most popular: Lip Sync Battle, J-Lo and Derek Jeter

Blake Shelton takes on Gwen Stefani in a lip syncing battle, J-Lo sizzles in her latest music video and Derek Jeter strolls around the Bronx.YouTube's top five Most Popular videos as recorded on Friday, September 19 at 3:30pm GMT:Lip Sync Battle with Gwen Stefani and Blake SheltonFirst published: September 17Total views: 3.1 millionJimmy Fallon, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani go head to head in an epic lip syncing battle featuring music from Ellie Goulding and Carly Rae Simon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY9cUsTtPKA&feature=youtu.be Jennifer Lopez - Booty ft. Iggy AzaleaFirst published: September 18Total views: 2.3 millionJ-Lo shimmies in her racy video for her latest track "Booty" featuring Iggy Azalea.http://youtu.be/nxtIRArhVD4Gatorade | Made in New York ft. Derek Jeter First published: September 18Total views: 2.2 millionYankee baseballer Derek Jeter strolls through New York's Bronx neighborhood before bowing out of the game. http://youtu.be/xfgS1lvqX8I Wheel of Fortune's Third Million Dollar Winner! First published: September 17Total views: 388,229One lucky contestant becomes the third-ever million dollar winner on TV show "Wheel of Fortune".http://youtu.be/zDSETMZ4YEM Kmart Not a Christmas Commercial First published: September 12Total views: 3.4 millionCunning Kmart slyly sidesteps the fact that it is clearly far too early for Christmas commercials with its tongue-in-cheek ad "Not a Christmas Commercial".http://youtu.be/lNRcg5NRaXs Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Review: 'Maze Runner' doesn't find its own path
Friday Sep 19, 2014
Review: 'Maze Runner' doesn't find its own path

If you see one film about walled-in males this fall, it should be the savage and powerful British prison drama "Starred Up," a superlatively acted father-son story played out behind bars and starring up-and-coming Jack O'Connell. Not many are likely to make that choice, though, as "The Maze Runner," based on the James Dashner 2009 fantasy novel, will surely multiply the business of "Starred Up" many times over with a far more tame film barely distinct from the hordes of young-adult sci-fi adaptations sprinting through movie theaters. Has a cottage industry ever sprung up as fast as the YA land rush brought on by "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games"? I'd like to use a mortal instrument to put an ender to this game. Please, giver me a break. But to be fair, there isn't anything inherently wrong with "The Maze Runner," directed by special effects-veteran Wes Ball. It's just that it does so little to find its own path separate from its dystopia brethren. All of the recent young-adult formulas are adhered to here: the teenage rebellion against tradition, the coming-of-age metaphors, the heavy sequel-baiting. Dylan O'Brien, best known as one of the stars of MTV's "Teen Wolf," stars as Thomas, a newbie to a strange prison called "The Glade" — a pastoral park surrounded by a monolith concrete maze. The movie, with a neat lack of exposition, starts with Thomas being elevated into this world and dropped there without any memory of life outside or his identity. He's quickly indoctrinated to the ways and order of the Glade, where several dozen other boys have also been plunked down like lab rats for the last three years. Under the leadership of the calm Alby (Ami Ameen) and the more questionable rigidity of Gally (Will Poulter), they make exploratory runs into the maze each day before the gate closes at sundown. "The Maze Runner" succeeds most in its "Lord of the Flies"-like collection of teenagers. (Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Blake Cooper are among the distinct faces in the crowd.) When a lone girl (Kaya Scodelario) is surprisingly elevated into the Glade, they, like proper adolescents, blink with astonishment: "It's a girl." There's a pleasantly low-fi, bare-bones kind of storytelling here, at least before the movie's mysteries are boringly explained — another apocalypse to parse. Thomas, curious and daring, quickly upends the routines of the Glade and manages to discover more about the concrete labyrinth, which is patrolled by weird, giant, half-robot scorpions dubbed "Grievers." (That the only monsters "The Maze Runner" can summon are "weird, giant, half-robot scorpions" is surely a hint to its lack of imagination.) The maze, too, is a letdown. Given that it's the central conceit of the film, one expects more than domino rows of big cinderblocks. Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance, who so memorably stalked the snowy hedge maze of "The Shining," wouldn't bat an eye at these drab corridors. "The Maze Runner" a 20th Century Fox release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images." Running time: 112 minutes. Two stars out of four. ___ MPAA rating definition for PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Fish Moon and Penguin meet Jim Gordon in 'Gotham'
Friday Sep 19, 2014
Fish Moon and Penguin meet Jim Gordon in 'Gotham'

A few days before the premiere of the highly anticipated Batman spin-off series, FOX has revealed a new clip from the pilot episode. The scene focuses on two of the main villains of "Gotham."A prequel to the adventures of Batman, the drama will include scenes with the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). But its primary focus is the early career of Commissioner James Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie ("The O.C.") and his partner Harvey Bullock, played by Donald Logue. In the new video, Jim Gordon has a brush with the Dark Knight's future opponent, Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and with the leader of Gotham's villains, Fish Moon, a character created for the series and played by Jada Pinkett Smith. Written and produced by Bruno Heller, the creator of "Rome" and "The Mentalist," the series will also include appearances by Catwoman (Carmen Bicondova), E.Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), Poison Ivy (Clare Foley), Bruce Wayne's faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) and Gordon's fiancee Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). "Gotham" premieres on September 22. Watch the teaser: http://youtu.be/z-tH4VVGDSs Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Movies

'Maze Runner' races past 'Tombstones' with $32.5 M
Sunday Sep 21, 2014
'Maze Runner' races past 'Tombstones' with $32.5 M

NEW YORK (AP) — The young-adult thriller "The Maze Runner" raced to the box-office top spot with $32.5 million, sprinting past Liam Neeson's "A Walk Among the Tombstones." According to studio estimates Sunday, Fox' "Maze Runner" easily outpaced the $13.1 million debut of Neeson's latest action film for Universal Studios. "The Maze Runner," adapted from James Dashner's series of science-fiction YA novels, is being launched as a new franchise, with a sequel already in the works. The Warner Bros. dramedy "This Is Where I Leave You" came in third with $11.9 million. The Shawn Levy-directed film failed to be a big draw despite an A-list ensemble cast including Tina Fey, Jason Bateman and Jane Fonda. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Lenny Kravitz back with new album at 50
Sunday Sep 21, 2014
Lenny Kravitz back with new album at 50

At 50, Lenny Kravitz is an American in Paris.Now, after turns designing shoes and acting in "The Hunger Games", he's returned to music with a new album he says just poured out of him during shooting of the box office smash. Best known for the 1991 single "It Ain't Over 'til It's Over", Kravitz says inspiration struck on set as he played Cinna, the stylist to Jennifer Lawrence's heroine. "I wasn't even planning on making an album. I was just working on the film. In the night, just all this music...," he told AFP in an interview in Paris. Kravitz, who played Cinna in two of the trilogy's films, describes the album, entitled "Strut", as "grit and glamour, all together" plus "a lot of sensuality". He appears on the cover in a black and white photograph, displaying a large tattoo on his bare chest and dressed in a dinner jacket and dark glasses. He says the music itself is about love and relationships. "All the different dynamics that you would have from lust to sex to heartbreak to desperation to devotion to misunderstood love," he said. Kravitz has been living in Paris on and off for nine years and his last video was set in the city. "I think it's a pretty sexy city, aesthetically it's gorgeous... the architecture, the design... it's very inspiring..." he said. After nearly a decade, Kravitz is very much at home in France; in 2011 was awarded France's highest cultural honour -- the Order of Arts and Letters. "I don't feel foreign anymore. Now when I come, I just feel like I'm going home, because I am!" But he says he still cherishes the "feeling I get being not from here". - 'Never felt better' - Writing his tenth album, which is due to be released on Tuesday, the songs came very naturally. "Every time I make an album, it's always different. This album just happened like this!" he said. "I won't call it easy but the flow was very good. Everything just came into my head. I didn't even have to think about it.... I just let it come out." The last song on the album is a cover, something Kravitz says he rarely does. But an unexpected blast of the 1965 hit single by The Miracles, "Ooo Baby Baby", left him marvelling. "One morning early I was having my make up done for 'Hunger Games' and the make-up artist was listening to a Motown station and it came on. "I hadn't heard it for a long time (and) it sounded so beautiful," he said. Although Kravitz has sold over 40 million albums he says he's still hungry to make music. "I don't know if I have anything to prove, I just want to express myself. I wanna grow as a musician, to be a better performer. "It's not about the charts or the money, it's about the experience," he said. And on reaching his half-century, he is philosophical. "The number doesn't really mean anything. I feel great. I've never felt better than I do now... physically, mentally and spiritually," he said. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Japan's controversial Miike to get Rome film award
Saturday Sep 20, 2014
Japan's controversial Miike to get Rome film award

Japanese director Takashi Miike, whose violent and often controversial films boast a huge cult following, will be awarded the 2014 Maverick Director Award at the Rome film festival, organisers said Saturday.His nearly 100 films include "Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai", which premiered in competition at Cannes in 2011, and "Straw Shield", which was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the celebrated French film festival in 2013. The Rome film festival said Miike had "reconsidered the boundaries that divide 'populist' practices, genre and auteur visions in some of the most beloved and controversial films in recent years," adding that the Japanese was "considered by Quentin Tarantino to be 'one of the greatest living directors'." Miike's 2001 Manga-inspired film "Ichi the Killer" in particular sparked controversy for its depiction of bloodlust and violence against women, with organisers at the Toronto film festival famously providing sick bags for the audience when the movie was screened. Miike has also made films for children, from "Zebraman" to "The Great Yokai War", as well as teen dramas and period pieces. Artistic director Marco Muller, former head of the Venice film festival, said the 54-year-old had been chosen for the award "for the recurring power of his creative imagination and the courage of his ideas." "Every one of his films is a breakneck race through a uncannily poetic and surprisingly political imagination. Miike has tried his hand at every genre: when he has chosen to shatter them it has always been to recompose them better in unpredictable mixes," he said. "Always catching us unprepared... Miike is arguably the least compliant of all the contemporary maverick directors," he added. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'King Arthur': Astrid Bergès-Frisbey cast as Guinevere
Saturday Sep 20, 2014
'King Arthur': Astrid Bergès-Frisbey cast as Guinevere

Previously seen in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and soon to appear in "I Origins," the French actress has joined the cast of Guy Ritchie's movie based on the Arthurian legend.The 28-year-old actress will play King Arthur's wife Guinevere, whose story arc will almost certainly include an extramarital affair with Sir Lancelot. Astrid Bergès-Frisbey will share the screen with Charlie Hunnam ("Sons of Anarchy") in the title role and Idris Elba as the knight Sir Bedivere. Release dates have not been announced for "Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur." In the meantime, the French actress will be seen in Mike Cahill's "I Origins," a sci-fi drama in which a molecular biologist (Michael Pitt) falls in love with a young woman (Bergès-Frisbey) before she dies. On the verge of making an extraordinary scientific discovery, the character travels to India to confirm his theory.   Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Review: 'Maze Runner' doesn't find its own path
Friday Sep 19, 2014
Review: 'Maze Runner' doesn't find its own path

If you see one film about walled-in males this fall, it should be the savage and powerful British prison drama "Starred Up," a superlatively acted father-son story played out behind bars and starring up-and-coming Jack O'Connell. Not many are likely to make that choice, though, as "The Maze Runner," based on the James Dashner 2009 fantasy novel, will surely multiply the business of "Starred Up" many times over with a far more tame film barely distinct from the hordes of young-adult sci-fi adaptations sprinting through movie theaters. Has a cottage industry ever sprung up as fast as the YA land rush brought on by "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games"? I'd like to use a mortal instrument to put an ender to this game. Please, giver me a break. But to be fair, there isn't anything inherently wrong with "The Maze Runner," directed by special effects-veteran Wes Ball. It's just that it does so little to find its own path separate from its dystopia brethren. All of the recent young-adult formulas are adhered to here: the teenage rebellion against tradition, the coming-of-age metaphors, the heavy sequel-baiting. Dylan O'Brien, best known as one of the stars of MTV's "Teen Wolf," stars as Thomas, a newbie to a strange prison called "The Glade" — a pastoral park surrounded by a monolith concrete maze. The movie, with a neat lack of exposition, starts with Thomas being elevated into this world and dropped there without any memory of life outside or his identity. He's quickly indoctrinated to the ways and order of the Glade, where several dozen other boys have also been plunked down like lab rats for the last three years. Under the leadership of the calm Alby (Ami Ameen) and the more questionable rigidity of Gally (Will Poulter), they make exploratory runs into the maze each day before the gate closes at sundown. "The Maze Runner" succeeds most in its "Lord of the Flies"-like collection of teenagers. (Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Blake Cooper are among the distinct faces in the crowd.) When a lone girl (Kaya Scodelario) is surprisingly elevated into the Glade, they, like proper adolescents, blink with astonishment: "It's a girl." There's a pleasantly low-fi, bare-bones kind of storytelling here, at least before the movie's mysteries are boringly explained — another apocalypse to parse. Thomas, curious and daring, quickly upends the routines of the Glade and manages to discover more about the concrete labyrinth, which is patrolled by weird, giant, half-robot scorpions dubbed "Grievers." (That the only monsters "The Maze Runner" can summon are "weird, giant, half-robot scorpions" is surely a hint to its lack of imagination.) The maze, too, is a letdown. Given that it's the central conceit of the film, one expects more than domino rows of big cinderblocks. Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance, who so memorably stalked the snowy hedge maze of "The Shining," wouldn't bat an eye at these drab corridors. "The Maze Runner" a 20th Century Fox release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images." Running time: 112 minutes. Two stars out of four. ___ MPAA rating definition for PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

Lenny Kravitz back with new album at 50
Sunday Sep 21, 2014
Lenny Kravitz back with new album at 50

At 50, Lenny Kravitz is an American in Paris.Now, after turns designing shoes and acting in "The Hunger Games", he's returned to music with a new album he says just poured out of him during shooting of the box office smash. Best known for the 1991 single "It Ain't Over 'til It's Over", Kravitz says inspiration struck on set as he played Cinna, the stylist to Jennifer Lawrence's heroine. "I wasn't even planning on making an album. I was just working on the film. In the night, just all this music...," he told AFP in an interview in Paris. Kravitz, who played Cinna in two of the trilogy's films, describes the album, entitled "Strut", as "grit and glamour, all together" plus "a lot of sensuality". He appears on the cover in a black and white photograph, displaying a large tattoo on his bare chest and dressed in a dinner jacket and dark glasses. He says the music itself is about love and relationships. "All the different dynamics that you would have from lust to sex to heartbreak to desperation to devotion to misunderstood love," he said. Kravitz has been living in Paris on and off for nine years and his last video was set in the city. "I think it's a pretty sexy city, aesthetically it's gorgeous... the architecture, the design... it's very inspiring..." he said. After nearly a decade, Kravitz is very much at home in France; in 2011 was awarded France's highest cultural honour -- the Order of Arts and Letters. "I don't feel foreign anymore. Now when I come, I just feel like I'm going home, because I am!" But he says he still cherishes the "feeling I get being not from here". - 'Never felt better' - Writing his tenth album, which is due to be released on Tuesday, the songs came very naturally. "Every time I make an album, it's always different. This album just happened like this!" he said. "I won't call it easy but the flow was very good. Everything just came into my head. I didn't even have to think about it.... I just let it come out." The last song on the album is a cover, something Kravitz says he rarely does. But an unexpected blast of the 1965 hit single by The Miracles, "Ooo Baby Baby", left him marvelling. "One morning early I was having my make up done for 'Hunger Games' and the make-up artist was listening to a Motown station and it came on. "I hadn't heard it for a long time (and) it sounded so beautiful," he said. Although Kravitz has sold over 40 million albums he says he's still hungry to make music. "I don't know if I have anything to prove, I just want to express myself. I wanna grow as a musician, to be a better performer. "It's not about the charts or the money, it's about the experience," he said. And on reaching his half-century, he is philosophical. "The number doesn't really mean anything. I feel great. I've never felt better than I do now... physically, mentally and spiritually," he said. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Doug E Fresh highlights BET Hip-Hop awards
Sunday Sep 21, 2014
Doug E Fresh highlights BET Hip-Hop awards

ATLANTA (AP) — With a picture of his mother on a large screen behind him, Doug E Fresh struggled to complete his sentence. The rapper dubbed "The Human Beat Box" choked up and shed tears as he received the "I Am Hip-Hop Award" at the ninth BET Hip-Hop Awards on Saturday. Fresh eventually told the crowd that his mother, who had Alzheimer's disease, died five months ago. "I have to acknowledge her," Fresh said at the taped award show at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center. "I want to thank this woman and hip-hop. If it wasn't for hip-hop, I don't know where I would be." He also thanked those who helped him throughout his career, from Slick Rick to his group the Get Fresh Crew. The show airs Oct. 14. Fresh became known for imitating drums and creating special effects using his mouth and a microphone. After his speech, Fresh performed one of his hits, "La Di Da Di" with the show's host, Snoop Dogg. "He's the definition of moving the crowd," Ludcaris said during a video that paid homage to Fresh. DJ Mustard won Producer of the Year, and Future's song "Move That Dope" took home Best Club Banger award. The most applause came after a recorded freestyle featuring Kanye West, Common, Big Sean and Pusha T. Many of the other awards will be announced at a later date. Rapper Drake received the most nominations with eight. Jay Z, Pharrell and Future each scored six nominations. The parents of Mike Brown, an unarmed young black man who was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, stood on stage with Common after he finished his songs with Jay Electronica. There was moment of silence and the crowd raised both their hands in remembrance of Brown. Snoop Dogg showed charisma throughout the night and performed skits featuring Nia Long. He also brought back his YouTube network called GGN (Double G News), interviewing rapper French Montana and Mimi Faust of Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta. Singer Brandy performed "I Wanna Be Down" with guest appearances from Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Yo-Yo. Rapper T.I. took the stage with Young Thug, performing "About the Money." ___ Online: http://www.bet.com/shows/hip-hop-awards.html ___ Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. at http://www.twitter.com/mrlandrum31 Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Polly Bergen, versatile actress, singer dies at 84
Saturday Sep 20, 2014
Polly Bergen, versatile actress, singer dies at 84

NEW YORK (AP) — Emmy-winning actress and singer Polly Bergen, who in a long career played the terrorized wife in the original "Cape Fear" and the first woman president in "Kisses for My President," died Saturday, according to her publicist. She was 84. Bergen died at her home in Southbury, Connecticut, from natural causes, said publicist Judy Katz, surrounded by family and close friends. A brunette beauty with a warm, sultry singing voice, Bergen was a household name from her 20s onward. She made albums and played leading roles in films, stage musicals and TV dramas. She also hosted her own variety series, was a popular game show panelist, and founded a thriving beauty products company that bore her name. In recent years, she played Felicity Huffman's mother on "Desperate Housewives" and the past mistress of Tony Soprano's late father on "The Sopranos." Bergen won an Emmy in 1958 portraying the tragic singer Helen Morgan on the famed anthology series "Playhouse 90." She was nominated for another Emmy in 1989 for best supporting actress in a miniseries or special for "War and Remembrance." Talking to women in a business group in 1968, she said her definition of success was "when you feel what you've done fulfills yourself, makes you happy and makes people around you happy." Bergen was 20 and already an established singer when she starred with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in her first movie, "At War With the Army." She joined them in two more comedies, "That's My Boy" and "The Stooge." In 1953, she made her Broadway debut with Harry Belafonte in the revue "John Murray Anderson's Almanac." In 1957-58 she starred on the musical-variety "The Polly Bergen Show" on NBC, closing every broadcast with her theme song, "The Party's Over." Also during the 1950s, she became a regular on the popular game show "To Tell the Truth." Bergen published the first of her three advice books, "The Polly Bergen Book of Beauty, Fashion and Charm" in 1962. That led to her own cosmetics company, which earned her millions. Bergen became a regular in TV movies and miniseries, most importantly in the 1983 epic "The Winds of War" and the 1988 sequel, "War and Remembrance." She appeared as the troubled wife of high-ranking Navy officer Pug Henry, played by Robert Mitchum. Mitchum also had the key role in the landmark 1962 suspense film, "Cape Fear," as the sadistic ex-convict who terrorizes a lawyer (Gregory Peck) and his wife (Bergen) and daughter because he blames Peck for sending him to prison. The film was remade in 1991 by Martin Scorsese. In 1964's "Kisses for My President," Bergen was cast as the first female U.S. president, with Fred MacMurray as First Gentleman. (In the end, the president quits when she gets pregnant.) When Geena Davis portrayed a first woman president in the 2005 TV drama "Commander in Chief," Bergen was cast as her mother. Among her other films was "Move Over, Darling" (1963) with Doris Day and James Garner, Susan Seidelman's 1987 "Making Mr. Right," and John Waters' 1990 "Cry-Baby," with Johnny Depp. A fierce ambition prevailed throughout Bergen's entertainment career and in her business life. She walked out of early contracts with Paramount and MGM because she thought her film roles were inadequate. As the president of the Polly Bergen Co., founded in 1966, she arrived at her office at 9 a.m. and worked a full day. "It was very difficult at the beginning," she said in 2001, "because everybody considered me just another bubble-headed actress." She sold the company in 1973 to Faberge, staying on for a couple of years afterward to run it as a Faberge subsidiary. Bergen employed the same zeal in reviving her performing career after a series of personal setbacks of the 1990s. She played successful dates at cabarets in New York and Beverly Hills. When she was refused an audition for the 2001 Broadway revival of "Follies," she contacted composer Stephen Sondheim. He auditioned her and gave her the role of a faded star who sings of her ups and downs in show business. The show-stopping song, "I'm Still Here," was reminiscent of Bergen's own saga. She was nominated for a Tony award for her role. In 2002 she played a secondary role in the revival of "Cabaret" and the following year she was back on Broadway with the comedy "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks." Nellie Paulina Burgin was born in 1930 in Knoxville, Tennessee, into a family that at times relied on welfare to survive. They family eventually moved to California, and Polly, as she was called, began her career singing on radio in her teens. "I was fanatically ambitious," she recalled in 2001. "All I ever wanted to be was a star. I didn't want to be a singer. I didn't want to be an actress. I wanted to be a star." But over the years, Bergen's personal life was not as smooth as her career. Her four-year marriage to actor Jerome Courtland ended in an acrimonious divorce in 1955. Her second marriage to super-agent and producer Freddie Fields. The couple divorced in 1975 after 18 years. In 1982 she married entrepreneur Jeff Endervelt. She co-signed his loans and gave him millions to invest from her beauty company profits. She said in a 2001 New York Times interview: "He would come home and say, 'Honey, sign this.' I wouldn't even look at it. Because you trust your husband." The stock market crash of the 1980s wiped out the investments. She divorced him in 1991, and she said he left her with so many debts she had to sell her New York apartment and other belongings to avoid bankruptcy. She also battled emphysema and other ailments in the late 1990s, a result of 50 years of smoking. She is survived by her children Peter Fields, Kathy Lander and Pamela Fields and three grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, her family is asking that donations be made to Planned Parenthood, said her publicist, Katz. ___ Biographical material in this story was written by The Associated Press' late Hollywood correspondent Bob Thomas. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Japan's controversial Miike to get Rome film award
Saturday Sep 20, 2014
Japan's controversial Miike to get Rome film award

Japanese director Takashi Miike, whose violent and often controversial films boast a huge cult following, will be awarded the 2014 Maverick Director Award at the Rome film festival, organisers said Saturday.His nearly 100 films include "Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai", which premiered in competition at Cannes in 2011, and "Straw Shield", which was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the celebrated French film festival in 2013. The Rome film festival said Miike had "reconsidered the boundaries that divide 'populist' practices, genre and auteur visions in some of the most beloved and controversial films in recent years," adding that the Japanese was "considered by Quentin Tarantino to be 'one of the greatest living directors'." Miike's 2001 Manga-inspired film "Ichi the Killer" in particular sparked controversy for its depiction of bloodlust and violence against women, with organisers at the Toronto film festival famously providing sick bags for the audience when the movie was screened. Miike has also made films for children, from "Zebraman" to "The Great Yokai War", as well as teen dramas and period pieces. Artistic director Marco Muller, former head of the Venice film festival, said the 54-year-old had been chosen for the award "for the recurring power of his creative imagination and the courage of his ideas." "Every one of his films is a breakneck race through a uncannily poetic and surprisingly political imagination. Miike has tried his hand at every genre: when he has chosen to shatter them it has always been to recompose them better in unpredictable mixes," he said. "Always catching us unprepared... Miike is arguably the least compliant of all the contemporary maverick directors," he added. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Ruby Dee memorialized in NYC with song and dance
Saturday Sep 20, 2014
Ruby Dee memorialized in NYC with song and dance

NEW YORK (AP) — Actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee was memorialized Saturday in poetry, dance and song at a packed Harlem cathedral where Alicia Keys sang her song "Superwoman," Wynton Marsalis performed a stirring trumpet solo, and well-wishes were sent from Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and the White House. The three-hour celebration of Lee's life was held at the cavernous Riverside Church in New York on Saturday. Dee died June 11 at age 91 and was called everything from a "small but mighty lady," to a "street-fighter" to the "voice of our humanity." Her beloved husband Ossie Davis, whom she married in 1948, died in 2005. The Rev. James A. Forbes Jr. in his remarks said Davis had likely been waiting for her outside the pearly gates since then. The ceremony was both sad and funny, celebrating someone who was both "mommy" and an icon who faced down apartheid in South Africa. "This was an absolute celebration," said actor Courtney B. Vance afterward. He also attended a memorial for Davis at the same church: "She and Ossie — they did it. They broke the mold. It's for us to now follow them." Dee's grandkids painted a private portrait of a woman who never slept in, who loved apple cider vinegar, who rarely threw out old food and who loved gardening and a glass of red wine — with an ice cube. They said she believed in hard work, never took a day off, and even would require they submit to an interview before they were granted a part-time job helping her out in the summers. Her son, Guy Davis, sang his sweet song "Love Looks Good on You." Dee's long career earned her an Emmy, a Grammy, two Screen Actors Guild awards, the NAACP Image Award, Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Art and the National Civil Rights Museum's Lifetime Achievement Award. She earned an Oscar nomination at age 83 for best supporting actress for her role in the 2007 film "American Gangster." Former New York City mayor David Dinkins read a letter from Barack and Michelle Obama that praised her for an "extraordinary life" and for "throwing open the doors of opportunity." The couple noted that they saw Dee act in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" on their first date. Eight actresses — Tyne Daly, Kim Fields, S. Epatha Merkerson, Phylicia Rashad, Elizabeth Van Dyke, Pauletta Washington, Susan Taylor and Lynn Whitfield — read sections of Dee's poetry and prose. Peter Yarrow, of the band Peter, Paul and Mary and who had joined Dee on the 1963 March on Washington, sang a medley of "This Little Light of Mine" and "Down by the Riverside" with his daughter, Bethany Yarrow. Poet Sonia Sanchez delivered a feisty piece that blended word and song, and a tribute was danced by four women to a recording of Dee reading her poem "I Am Somebody." Actresses Angela Bassett and Audra McDonald had to pull out at the last minute. Dee made her Broadway debut in the original production of "South Pacific" and in 1965 became the first black woman to play lead roles at the American Shakespeare Festival. She won an Obie Award for the title role in Athol Fugard's "Boesman and Lena" and a Drama Desk Award for her role in "Wedding Band." On television, Dee was a leading cast member on the soap operas "Guiding Light" and "Peyton Place," a rare sight for a black actress in the 1950s and 60s. Actor Glynn Turman, who played Dee's son in both "A Raisin in the Sun" on Broadway and again on TV's "Peyton Place," gave a soulful speech in which he recounted the times she always helped him when their paths crossed. "I feel honored to have known Ruby Dee but I feel so very blessed that she knew me," he said. Belafonte submitted a video eulogy in which he praised Dee's humanity and sense of justice, and hoped that Dee and Davis would be reunited in the hereafter. Poitier sent a letter to be read that called Dee "an artist, the likes of which I have never seen. As a matter of fact, because of Ruby Dee, I always tried to stretch myself beyond my capacities and reach for my own untapped expressions of the work." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.