Sunday Mar 1, 2015

Lady Gaga, Vince Vaughn take charity polar plunge in Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) — Lady Gaga and Vince Vaughn plunged into the icy waters of Chicago's Lake Michigan at a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Special Olympics Chicago President Casey Hogan said Sunday that Lady Gaga made the plunge with more than 4,500 other participants....
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TV

Lady Gaga, Vince Vaughn take charity polar plunge in Chicago
Sunday Mar 1, 2015
Lady Gaga, Vince Vaughn take charity polar plunge in Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) — Lady Gaga and Vince Vaughn plunged into the icy waters of Chicago's Lake Michigan at a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Special Olympics Chicago President Casey Hogan said Sunday that Lady Gaga made the plunge with more than 4,500 other participants. Hogan says the singer's appearance was "a very nice surprise." Lady Gaga recently announced her engagement to "Chicago Fire" actor Taylor Kinney. Photos show her and a bare-chested Kinney going into the water together. Vaughn also made the plunge. The native of the Chicago suburb Lake Forest was dressed in a Chicago Blackhawks jersey and jeans. The actor went in up to his knees, then eased himself down backward in the water. Last year, comedian Jimmy Fallon jumped in wearing a suit and tie, and helped raise more than $1 million. The air temperature was a frigid 20 degrees at the time of the plunge, according to the National Weather Service. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Finland's disabled rockers earn Eurovision semi-final spot
Sunday Mar 1, 2015
Finland's disabled rockers earn Eurovision semi-final spot

Middle-aged rock band PKN has won the spot to represent Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest after TV viewers strongly backed the rockers with learning disabilities.Their entry song -- a rowdy tirade against the numbing nature of daily chores that clocks only 87 seconds -- earned just 10 percent of the jury vote but soared to 37 percent once viewers had their say, comfortably beating tastemaker favourites Satin Circus, Finnish public broadcaster Yle said. After winning the Finnish qualifiers on Saturday night, the band now heads for the semi-finals in Austria. "We'll do it the same way in Vienna. One shouldn't fix something that's not broken," the band told Yle. PKN, short for Pertti Kurikka's Nameday after its frontman, formed in 2009 during an artistic workshop for people with disabilities and have since toured Europe and the United States. The rockers with an attitude caught international attention with a 2012 documentary that followed the band with learning disabilities on tour. "Every person with a disability ought to be braver," vocalist Kari Aalto told Yle on Saturday. "He or she should themselves say what they want and do not want. Those who work with us ought to know that if we say something, it's what we want," he added. In 2006, Finnish heavy metal band Lordi became the first hard-rock contestants to win the Eurovision. Last year's Eurovision final was won by "bearded lady" Conchita Wurst, an Austrian diva with a lush black beard and never-ending eyelashes. Vienna will now host the Eurovision semi-finals on May 19 and 21 before the final on May 23. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

TV shows turn Croatia into hot spot for South Koreans
Saturday Feb 28, 2015
TV shows turn Croatia into hot spot for South Koreans

Koreans finding love and adventure travelling through Croatia in reality TV shows have put the Balkan nation on the map, making it a popular tourist destination for the Asian market.It all started back in 2012 with the filming of the South Korean show "Romantic", featuring Koreans in their 20s and 30s visiting Croatia's highlights, from the capital Zagreb to the stunning Plitvice lakes national park and onto UNESCO World Heritage site Dubrovnik on the Adriatic coast. It became a perfect TV advertisement to visit Croatia. "Eventually the romantic search of a group of young Koreans for love in several Croatian destinations became a great commercial for our tourism," the head of the national tourist board Ratomir Ivicic told AFP. South Korean TV then produced another travel-reality show called "Noonas Over Flowers" -- noonas meaning older sisters -- that had several well-known Korean actresses backpacking their way through Croatia. "It had a huge impact on the popularity of Croatia and improving the knowledge of our country," said Ivicic of the shows that aired in 2013-14. Last year more than 252,000 South Koreans visited Croatia, around five times more than in 2012. "'Noonas Over Flowers' firmly put Croatia on the map for South Korean travellers," said Cho Il-Sang, spokesman for the country's top travel agency Hana Tour. The whole eastern Europe region had been off bounds for most South Korean travellers due to a lack direct flights and short holidays. "But the TV show changed all that.... Croatia is emerging as one of the most promising travel destinations for South Koreans who visit Europe," Cho added. Tourism accounts for about 15 percent of Croatia's gross domestic product (GDP), around seven billion euros ($8 billion) annually. For the first nine months of 2014, official figures show tourism brought in 6.7 billion euros or 2.5 percent more than the same period a year earlier. In 2014 Croatia welcomed more than 12 million visitors, triple the number of its 4.2 million inhabitants. Although tourists come mainly from Europe, Croatia has turned its attention also to Asian markets. Late last year Tourism Minister Dario Lorenzin visited China, Japan and South Korea to promote the industry. Most Koreans stay for 12 days visiting also neighbouring countries -- Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic or Slovenia. Park do-Hyeong heard about Croatia for the first time when he watched "Romantic" and became interested in the far-away country. "People are kind, one really feels safe and it is not expensive," said the 29-year-old on a recent visit to Zagreb. - 'Swamped with emails' - Korean tourists have also spurred some new services in Croatia and more business ties between Zagreb and Seoul. In mid-2014 Kim Seoung-Hoon opened a hostel for Koreans in the Croatian capital, the first one in the Balkans region. In the entrance to his Love Croatia hostel in downtown Zagreb there's a giant map on the wall with pinned destinations -- all places featured in the reality shows. Guests in the 27-room facility are Korean only. "This is a family-style hostel where people feel close, comfortable, and last but not least, can eat a Korean meal," the 30-year-old owner from Seoul told AFP. The idea to start the business came when he watched the popular Korean TV shows. "I realised it was a really beautiful country," Kim told AFP. He also has ambitions to expand his Korean-only hostels to Split and Dubrovnik, where he opened a Korean restaurant last year. Other businesses saw the opportunities stemming from product placement in television shows. Croatia's Zagrebacka Pivovara brewery, which has about 45 percent of the market, signed a deal in October with South Korea's CKB to export a popular beer sipped by the stars of "Noonas Over Flowers". "We were swamped with emails from South Koreans interested in the Ozujsko beer," export manager Marko Turicic told AFP. So why the fascination with this particular Balkan country? Croatia was chosen for the TV shows because it was a destination not widely known in Korea and a place with "beautiful landscapes and cultural heritage", according to producer Na Young-suk -- the perfect backdrop for his "Noonas Over Flowers" actresses. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Bryan Cranston becomes a producer of 'Finding Neverland'
Saturday Feb 28, 2015
Bryan Cranston becomes a producer of 'Finding Neverland'

NEW YORK (AP) — The upcoming Broadway musical "Finding Neverland" has found a new producer to join its ranks — Bryan Cranston. Lead producer Harvey Weinstein said Friday that the Tony Award-winning former "Breaking Bad" star had signed up after being enchanted by an early workshop. The show, directed by Diane Paulus, explores the Peter Pan book's back story and stars Matthew Morrison of "Glee" and former "Frasier" star Kelsey Grammer. Performances begin March 15 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Morrison will play J.M. Barrie, the "Peter Pan" author, and Grammer will play his producer. The musical is adapted from the 2004 whimsical film of the same name about a widow whose four young sons inspired Barrie to write the children's classic. The show has a book by British playwright James Graham, whose "This House" premiered at the National Theatre in 2012, and music and lyrics by Gary Barlow of the pop band Take That, and songwriter and producer Eliot Kennedy. Cranston last year made his Broadway debut playing President Lyndon B. Johnson in "All the Way" and won the Tony for best leading man in a play. In a statement, Weinstein said: "We were so thrilled that he wanted to come on board as an investor — having him as an ally and offering his overall support of this production means the world. He has given Diane and me such smart, constructive creative advice." ___ Online: http://findingneverlandthemusical.com Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Mark Kennedy from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Leonard Nimoy and Mr Spock, in their own words
Friday Feb 27, 2015
Leonard Nimoy and Mr Spock, in their own words

Few characters in American television left more of a mark that Mr Spock from "Star Trek", but actor Leonard Nimoy himself had many remarkable thoughts to share as well. Here is a selection of Nimoy's best quotes, from both his "Star Trek" character and his own rich and varied life, following his death Friday at the age of 83. -- "Without followers, evil cannot spread." (Spock) -- "My folks came to the US as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien." (Nimoy) -- "Computers make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them." (Spock) -- "Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end."(Nimoy) -- "I have never understood the female capacity to avoid a direct answer to any question." (Spock) -- "Spock is definitely one of my best friends. When I put on those ears, it's not like just another day. When I become Spock, that day becomes something special." (Nimoy) -- "Change is the essential process of all existence." (Spock) -- "I have been, and always shall be, your friend." (Spock, to Captain Kirk) -- "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory." (Nimoy, in his last Twitter post) -- "Live long and prosper." (Spock) Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Movies

'Focus' snatches US box office gold
Sunday Mar 1, 2015
'Focus' snatches US box office gold

Sexy con-artist flick "Focus" stole the top spot at North American box offices this weekend, vaulting over hit bondage film "Fifty Shades of Grey," industry estimates showed Sunday.The fast-paced and glittering dark comedy full of deceptions stars Will Smith as crook Nicky who takes on protege Jess, played by Margot Robbie. "Focus" got $19.1 million in sales, handily winning first place, according to industry tracker Exhibitor Relations. Holding steady at the second spot was British spy film "Kingsman: The Secret Service," starring Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Firth. The comedy took in $11.8 million, just enough to hold off animated film "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," that held onto third place with an $11.2 million haul projected. Erotic bondage tale "Fifty Shades of Grey" slipped out of its long-running spot on top of the box office ending a run that saw a record February opening. The film starring Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele brought in $10.9 million in its third week for the fourth spot. Horror film "The Lazarus Effect," about medical students who discover a way to bring people back to life, earned $10.6 million in its debut weekend to come in fifth. Kevin Costner sport drama "McFarland, USA," about a student cross-country team from immigrant families took in $7.8 million in its second week for the sixth spot. Controversial war-drama "American Sniper" was projected had $7.7 million in box office sales for the seventh spot. The Iraq war film directed by Clint Eastwood set box office records and has pulled in $331.1 million so far. The film's portrayal of late Navy Seal Chris Kyle stirred up debate over its depictions of Arabs and Muslims. "The Duff," a teen comedy about high school cliques featuring Mae Whitman, slipped three spots to land in eighth with $7.2 million. Critically-acclaimed drama "Still Alice," starring Julianne Moore as a linguistics professor diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, took in $2.7 million to land in ninth. "Hot Tub Time Machine 2," about a magical hot tub that sends its users into the future, sold the tenth most tickets, bringing in $2.4 million. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Will Smith's 'Focus' tops box office with $19.1 million
Sunday Mar 1, 2015
Will Smith's 'Focus' tops box office with $19.1 million

NEW YORK (AP) — Will Smith's con-man caper "Focus" disrobed "Fifty Shades of Grey" at the box office, but the film's modest $19.1 million opening still left questions about the drawing power of the once unstoppable star. According to studio estimates Sunday, Warner Bros.' "Focus" easily topped all competitors on a weekend with little competition at North American multiplexes. In second place was the Colin Firth spy thriller "Kingsman: The Secret Service," which made $11.8 million in its third week of release. After two weeks atop the box office, "Fifty Shades of Grey" continued its steep slide, landing in fourth with an estimated $10.9 million for Universal Pictures. "Fifty Shades," which has made $486.2 million globally, fell just behind Paramount's "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," which earned $11.2 million in its fourth week. The weekend's only other new wide release, Relativity's horror film "The Lazarus Effect," opened in fifth place with $10.6 million. But the weekend was largely seen, fairly or not, as a referendum on Smith's star power. "Focus," written and directed by the "Crazy, Stupid, Love" duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, is Smith's first film since 2013's "After Earth," the sci-fi flop in which he co-starred with his son, Jaden. Smith has been frank about the sting of that film's box-office performance. "I can't allow the box-office success, or lack thereof, to determine my self-image," he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. But "Focus," made for about $50 million and co-starring Margot Robbie of "The Wolf of Wall Street," was never intended to be a summer-sized blockbuster. It had been predicted to make around $21 million. "This is a mid-budgeted film with a result that matches," said Jeff Goldstein, head of distribution for Warner Bros., who added that winter storms accounted for a drop of $1-2 million. "There's no question we got hammered because of inclement weather in the South and the Midwest." The R-rated "Focus," overwhelmingly appealed to adults, with 88 percent of its audience older than 25 — not a good sign for Smith's appeal to a new generation of moviegoers who weren't around for his triumphs in "Independence Day." Nevertheless, there aren't many stars who could do better with a drama in late February. And "Focus" should play well internationally, where Smith's popularity remains strong. "This still goes on his balance sheet as a number one debut," said Paul Degarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office data firm Rentrak. "He can still draw an audience, particularly with a film that's R-rated and not aimed at the young crowd." Some of last Sunday's Oscar winners saw slight bumps at the box office. Best-picture winner "Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" added some 800 screens to bring in $2 million over the weekend, pushing its total past $40 million. "Still Alice," for which Julianne Moore won best actress, added 553 screens and earned $2.7 million. It's now made $12 million for Sony Pictures Classics. "American Sniper," far and away the biggest box-office hit of the best-picture nominees, was also easily the top post-Oscars draw. It added another $7.7 million, to bring its cumulative domestic gross to $331.1 million. Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday. 1. "Focus," $19.1 million ($12.2 million international). 2. "Kingsman: The Secret Service," $11.8 million ($25.8 million international). 3. "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," $11.2 million ($14.2 million international). 4. "Fifty Shades of Grey," $10.9 million ($36 million international). 5. "The Lazarus Effect," $10.6 million. 6. "McFarland, USA," $7.8 million. 7. "American Sniper," $7.7 million ($19.5 million international). 8. "The DUFF," $7.2 million. 9. "Still Alice," $2.7 million. 10. "Hot Tub Time Machine 2," $2.4 million. ___ Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak: 1. "Fifty Shades of Grey," $36 million. 2. "Kingsman: The Secret Service," $25.8 million 3. "From Vegas to Macau II," $22 million. 4. "Big Hero 6," $21.6 million. 5. "American Sniper," $19.5 million. 6. "Wolf Totem," $17 million. 7. "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," $14.2 million. 8. "Dragon Blade," $12.5 million. 9. "Focus," $12.2 million. 10. "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," $9.4 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 on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Jake Coyle from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Could Robin Hood become Hollywood's next superhero?
Sunday Mar 1, 2015
Could Robin Hood become Hollywood's next superhero?

Three films on the famous archer from Nottingham are currently in development at US studios. The latest project to date will be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio through his Appian Way outfit and written by Joby Harold, who is currently working with Guy Ritchie on an adaptation of the Arthurian legend.Robin Hood and his Merry Men are preparing to take the silver screen by storm. The thief who steals from the rich and gives to the poor will be at the center of three features, all with the potential to become brand new Hollywood franchises. Always on the lookout for potential blockbusters, Disney is of course in on the action. With "Nottingham & Hood," the studio hopes to repeat the success of its "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise with an adventure comedy for both children and adults. Sony's "Hood" is slated to be more realistic and action-heavy, with a focus on the archer's band of Merry Men including Little John, Friar Tuck and Will Scarlett. Meanwhile, Appian Way's "Robin Hood: Origins" is penned by Joby Harold, the screenwriter behind Guy Ritchie's "Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur" with Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law, which will hit theaters in summer 2016. All of these projects are still in the early development stage; no actors have been announced to play Robin Hood, and no directors are attached. However, all three have the potential to draw major Hollywood stars, especially given the enduring popularity of the character and his story. The man from Sherwood Forest remains the quintessential folk hero: a big-hearted rascal who sides with an oppressed people, putting himself on the wrong side of the law in the process. In the wake of the dystopian adventure movie craze, the next-generation Robin Hood could even be positioned as a variation on a Katniss Everdeen or a Tris Pryor -- an individual who stands up for the disadvantaged in the face of tyranny. But Robin of Loxley already has a long on-screen legacy behind him. In 1973, Disney presented its animated adaptation featuring a cast of woodland creatures. In 1991, Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman co-starred in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." The most recent adaptation, released in 2010, is Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood," starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. The recent craze isn't just limited to Hollywood. Across the Atlantic, French actor Max Boublil will play the character in "Robin des Bois: La VĂ©ritable Histoire" ("Robin Hood: The True Story"), a quirky comedy in which the archer is actually a scoundrel who steals from poor people, women and the elderly. Directed by Anthony Marciano, the feature arrives in French theaters on April 15.  Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

World's biggest private Harry Potter collection on display
Saturday Feb 28, 2015
World's biggest private Harry Potter collection on display

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A young Mexican's fascination with Harry Potter has grown into the world's biggest private collection of toys, books, clothes and other items related to author J.K. Rowling's fantasy hero. Now, other fans have a chance to see it all. The collection belonging to real estate lawyer Menahem Asher Silva Vargas has been certified by Guinness Awards as the largest anywhere. And it is on display at the Mexican Museum of Antique Toys in Mexico City. Silva Vargas started collecting Harry Potter items 15 years ago, when he was 12. He started with toys, then branched out to all sorts of things, from scarves to soda cans from Japan and Chinese language editions of Rowling's books. He has 3,097 items in all. The exhibit formally opens Saturday. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Leonard Nimoy and Mr Spock, in their own words
Friday Feb 27, 2015
Leonard Nimoy and Mr Spock, in their own words

Few characters in American television left more of a mark that Mr Spock from "Star Trek", but actor Leonard Nimoy himself had many remarkable thoughts to share as well. Here is a selection of Nimoy's best quotes, from both his "Star Trek" character and his own rich and varied life, following his death Friday at the age of 83. -- "Without followers, evil cannot spread." (Spock) -- "My folks came to the US as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien." (Nimoy) -- "Computers make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them." (Spock) -- "Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end."(Nimoy) -- "I have never understood the female capacity to avoid a direct answer to any question." (Spock) -- "Spock is definitely one of my best friends. When I put on those ears, it's not like just another day. When I become Spock, that day becomes something special." (Nimoy) -- "Change is the essential process of all existence." (Spock) -- "I have been, and always shall be, your friend." (Spock, to Captain Kirk) -- "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory." (Nimoy, in his last Twitter post) -- "Live long and prosper." (Spock) Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Events

Slum girl to silver screen: Uganda's chess prodigy
Monday Mar 2, 2015
Slum girl to silver screen: Uganda's chess prodigy

Phiona Mutesi happened upon chess as a famished nine-year-old foraging for food in the sprawling and impoverished slums of the Ugandan capital."I was very hungry," said Mutesi, aged about 18. Now a chess champion who competes internationally, her tale of triumph over adversity is being turned into a Hollywood epic with Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o tipped to play her mother. "My dad had died, and after the age of three we started struggling to get food to eat, my mum was not working," Mutesi told AFP. They lived on one meal a day. She was forced to drop out of school aged six when her mother could not pay the fees. "You can't just wake up and say 'today': you have to plan first." One day, Mutesi discovered a chess program held in a church in the Katwe slum districts in Kampala. Potential players were enticed with a free cup of porridge, and Mutesi began organising her days around this. "It was so interesting," she recalled of her introduction to pawns, rooks, bishops, knights and kings in 2005. "But I didn't go there for chess, I went just to get a meal." As she returned week after week, something unexpected happened that would transform Mutesi's life. - 'Incredible impact' - The young girl developed a talent for chess, which was only introduced in Uganda in the 1970s by foreign doctors and was still seen as a game played by the rich. And her talent turned into a passion. "I like chess because it involves planning," said Mutesi. "If you don't plan, you will end up with your life so bad." The film, entitled "Queen of Katwe", is based on a book of the same name about Mutesi by American writer Tim Crothers. It is to be shot in Uganda and South Africa, directed by Mira Nair. Filming will reportedly begin in late March. Coach and mentor Robert Katende, of the Sports Outreach Ministry, remembers Mutesi wearing "dirty torn clothes" when he met her a decade ago. "She was really desperate for survival," said Katende, who is building a chess academy to accommodate 150 students outside Kampala. Two years into the game, Mutesi became Uganda's national women's junior champion, defending her title the next year. "Phiona Mutesi has flourished," Vianney Luggya, president of the Uganda Chess Federation, told AFP. "She made history in the schools' competition by becoming the first girl to compete in the boys' category. It was certainly surprising." By the time she participated in her first international competition, Africa's International Children's Chess Tournament in South Sudan in 2009, Mutesi still had not read a book. - 'Believe in yourself' - "It was really wonderful because it was my first time abroad," she said. "It was my first time to sleep in a hotel. We came back with a trophy." Since then Mutesi has competed in chess Olympiads in Russia's Siberia, in Turkey -- after which she was given the Woman Candidate Master ranking by FIDE, the World Chess Federation -- and in Norway last year. The teenager, who has two more years of high school left, hopes to go to the next Olympiad in 2016 in Azerbaijan. Overseas, Mutesi has also played against her hero, Russian former world champion and Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, and inspired school students in the US to start a tournament in her name. Back home, her fame has had "an incredible impact", said Luggya. "The number of lady players participating in national chess championships has doubled," he said, adding that each of the 26 schools set to compete in Uganda's annual championships in April will have girls and boys teams. Uganda's female players have also been spurred on by the success of Ivy Amoko, who became east Africa's first FIDE Master last year. A recent week-long chess clinic, involving Mutesi, attracted more than 200 participants, most of them female, from Kampala slums and surrounding communities. British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo -- nominated for a Gold Globe Award for his portrayal of Martin Luther King in the 2014 drama "Selma" -- is also set to star in "Queen of Katwe". Luggya hopes the film will "open doors" for all players in Uganda, saying: "I think Ugandans realise that it is a brain game that can enhance their potential in all other aspects of life." Though the country now has east Africa's only International Master, Elijah Emojong, and the region's biggest number of titled players, Uganda still struggles with kit and trainers -- normally volunteers -- plus sponsorship for overseas titles. Mutesi is aware this may hold her back ultimately. But while her goal is to rise to Grandmaster, she also hopes to become a paediatrician and open a home for children, especially girls facing the same predicament she overcame. "Girls are always under-looked, even in chess," said Mutesi. "But I don't think there's any reason why a girl cannot beat a boy. It comes from believing in yourself." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Turkey's literary giant Yasar Kemal dead age 92
Saturday Feb 28, 2015
Turkey's literary giant Yasar Kemal dead age 92

Yasar Kemal, one of Turkey's most prominent writers and a nominee for the Nobel Literature award, has died aged 92, state media said Saturday. Kemal died in an Istanbul hospital where he was being treated for pulmonary complications and cardiac arrhythmia since January 14, the official Anatolia news agency said. His doctor told Turkish media that Kemal's health had rapidly deteriorated in the past week and that he died after complications including multiple organ failure. Kamal burst onto the world literary scene with his very first novel in 1955, "Mehmed the Hawk", which was translated into some 40 languages, earning him rapid international fame. Born in 1923 of Kurdish descent in Osmaniye in southern Turkey, he won numerous literary and human rights awards, including France's highest honour the Legion d'Honneur and was nominated for the Nobel Literature Prize, an award many Turks believe he should have won. Kemal, of Kurdish descent, faced several trials in Turkey over his writings and his political activism, particularly his denunciation of brutal government crackdowns against the Kurds. He served time in prison. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had offered his condolences to Kemal's family and that he was "deeply saddened" to hear of the death of the author. "The sadness in our hearts is immense. Both Turkey and humanity have lost a great soul," Culture Minister Omer Celik wrote on Twitter. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

One of Turkey's best-known novelists, Yasar Kemal, dies
Saturday Feb 28, 2015
One of Turkey's best-known novelists, Yasar Kemal, dies

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Yasar Kemal, one of Turkey's best-known novelists whose focus on social injustices brought him into conflict with authority, died in Istanbul on Saturday. He was 91. Kemal, best known for his first novel, "Ince Memed" or "Memed, My Hawk," also turned his pen to promoting Marxism during his early years and defending the rights of minorities in Turkey, including the Kurdish minority of which he was part. Kemal died at Istanbul's Capa Hospital where he was admitted on Jan. 14 and being treated in its intensive care unit for multiple organ failure, Dr. Mehmet Akif Karan said. "Memed," published in 1955, was based on the troubled feudal relations in Turkey's southern, agrarian regions where Kemal grew up. Reflecting the author's leftist views, the book's young peasant-turned-brigand hero takes a stand against injustices suffered by villagers at the hands of powerful landlords. The character of Memed was drawn in part from Kemal's memory of his mother's brother, an outlaw named Mayro — "the best-known outlaw in the eastern Anatolia, Iran and Caucasus areas." "Mayro was killed when he was only 25," Kemal said in an interview with French author Alain Bosquet. "I have heard many lullabies and a lot of national poetry that depict the bravery and heroism of Mayro. Mayro's adventurous life was quite an inspiration to me when I was a child, and his footprints can clearly be seen in most of my novels."  "Memed" was first published in installments in Cumhuriyet newspaper in 1953 and 1954 where Kemal was a journalist. The book won Turkey's Varlik literary prize in 1956 and it was widely translated, as were most of the more than 35 other books he wrote. On its strength, the struggling first novelist found his name circulated as a possible candidate for the Nobel literature prize. "It was one of the coldest Istanbul winters ever. I had no money to put wood in the stove," Kemal said in a speech in 2003 at Bilkent University, recalling the time he wrote the novel. "Yet, I just pretended that the fire was going strong; I covered myself in a ripped blanket, and typed away on an old typewriter that was missing many keys. That's how I wrote the 'Ince Memed,' and this novel is the best memory I kept from that house I could not pay the rent to."  Kemal's ability to delve into human nature and bring out the universal traits in his characters made his novels accessible to all sections of society. "Memed" and eight other novels were made into films. "My adventures are aimed at exploring the mystery of the human," he said at an award ceremony at the presidential palace in 2008. In an interview with The Associated Press in 1996, Kemal recalled hearing his father sing Kurdish songs on a hilltop overlooking their village in the southern province of Adana. These were sagas of Kurdish heroism — of wars, lost sons and migrations in past centuries; of nostalgia for lands left behind. However, Kemal didn't promote his Kurdish background and few people knew he was a Kurd. "I'm a Turkish writer — of Kurdish origin," he said. But he did speak out during clashes between autonomy-seeking Kurdish guerrillas and Turkish troops in mid 1990s. Kemal was tried in 1995 under anti-terror laws but acquitted for an article he wrote for the German magazine Der Spiegel, accusing the Turkish army of destroying Kurdish villages. He saw his acquittal as one step in a longer struggle. "One person's acquittal does not mean freedom of expression has arrived. You can't have spring with only one flower," Kemal said at the time. "We still have to work very hard to achieve democracy in Turkey. I will continue to write these things until there are no trials against expression." In the same year, he received a 20-month suspended sentence for another article for "inciting hatred and promoting racism." "I couldn't sleep at nights for a year," Kemal said. "I had pangs of conscience. 'You are a writer. You have to speak up,' I kept telling myself."   Although Kemal wasn't the first writer to be sentenced for writings about the Kurdish issue, his views attracted wider attention. Nobel laureate and playwright Arthur Miller sent a letter of support to Kemal and called his sentence "a painful absurdity." Kemal angrily rejected charges from Turkish ultranationalists that he was a traitor and shouldn't write in Turkish. "My life has been dedicated to the Turkish language, Turkish culture," he said. "I don't want a separate Kurdish state, nobody does. All that the Kurds want is their universal human rights — the right to preserve their language, culture, identity." Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reacted to Kemal's death by praising the writer's ability to "maintain his dissident attitude and express the truth without holding back at times when speaking the truth was hard." Kemal Sadik Gokceli was born in 1923 — he believed it was sometime in October — in a small village in Adana. He grew up hearing the Kurdish language at home and Turkish outside. Kemal was blinded in his right eye as a child when a knife slipped out of a butcher's hand. When he was 5, the boy witnessed his father being murdered by his adopted son, jealous of the father's love for his natural son. Kemal re-imagined his father in the autobiographical novel "Yagmurcuk Kusu" ("Rain Bird"), granting his father a much longer life. As a teenager, Kemal dropped out of secondary school and worked as a farm hand, a substitute teacher, a library clerk, a tractor driver and other jobs before moving to Istanbul, where he wrote for Cumhuriyet, taking the pseudonym Yasar Kemal. He joined the Turkish Labor Party in 1962 and founded the weekly Marxist magazine, Ant, in 1967. His "A Guide to Marxism" published in Ant led to his prosecution on charges of promoting communism but his 18-month prison sentence was later suspended. Kemal's poems were first published in local newspapers. His first book, "Agitlar" or "Ballads," published in 1943, was a compilation of folklore he collected during his travels. Kemal won numerous international awards including the Legion d'honneur from the French government. "I don't write about issues, I don't write for an audience, I don't even write for myself. I just write," Kemal said in an interview with the Guardian in 2008. "Yes, there is rebellion in my novels, but it's rebellion against mortality. As long as man goes from one darkness to another, he will create myths for himself. The only difference between me and others is that I write mine down." In 1952, Kemal married Thilda Serrero, who translated some of his works into English and died in 2001. Kemal is survived by their son, Rasit Gokceli, and his second wife, Ayse Semiha Baban, a lecturer at Istanbul's Bilgi University. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Suzan Fraser from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Dress that 'greatly resembles' stolen Nyong'o gown recovered
Saturday Feb 28, 2015
Dress that 'greatly resembles' stolen Nyong'o gown recovered

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A white dress that strongly resembles the custom gown taken from Lupita Nyong'o's hotel room earlier this week turned up Friday under a bathroom sink in the same hotel, a Los Angeles County Sheriff's official said. The dress found at a West Hollywood hotel "greatly resembles" the pearl-adorned Calvin Klein Collection by Francisco Costa dress the actress wore to Sunday's Academy Awards, sheriff's spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said. Detectives were trying to verify whether the recovered dress is the same one Nyong'o wore, she said. One of the actress' representatives reported the dress was stolen from her room at the London Hotel late Wednesday. Authorities placed its value at $150,000, although experts say it could have fetched more on the black market. The recovery of the dress was first reported by TMZ.com, which said that a person claiming to have taken the gown gave the celebrity website information about where to find the dress. Detectives found it in a black garment bag stashed underneath the bathroom counter. Nyong'o won an Oscar in 2014 for her role in "Twelve Years a Slave" and was a presenter at Sunday's ceremony. Her publicists declined comment Friday evening. The 31-year-old actress has become a darling of Hollywood's red carpets in the past two years, with commenters and fans praising her fashion choices. She accessorized the dress with Chopard diamond earrings and diamond rings. "There are a lot of collectors out there who are very private and have private collections of stolen merchandise," said style expert and fashion commentator Mary Alice Stephenson. "Some of these dresses have global fame as big as any Van Gogh." ___ Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Tami Abdollah from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Dress that 'greatly resembles' stolen Nyong'o gown found
Saturday Feb 28, 2015
Dress that 'greatly resembles' stolen Nyong'o gown found

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A white dress that strongly resembles the custom gown taken from Lupita Nyong'o's hotel room earlier this week turned up Friday under a bathroom sink in the same hotel, a Los Angeles County Sheriff's official said. The dress found at a West Hollywood hotel "greatly resembles" the pearl-adorned Calvin Klein Collection by Francisco Costa dress the actress wore to Sunday's Academy Awards, sheriff's spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said. Detectives were trying to verify whether the recovered dress is the same one Nyong'o wore, she said. One of the actress' representatives reported the dress was stolen from her room at the London Hotel late Wednesday. Authorities placed its value at $150,000, although experts say it could have fetched more on the black market. Women's Wear Daily reported that the dress was made of 6,000 crystal pearls on silk lame and that its value was undetermined. In a statement to Women's Wear Daily, Costa said everyone at Calvin Klein was thrilled to learn that the dress may have been found. "Once it's returned to us, we will be able to have the dress restored and archived, as it now represents an important moment for the brand," Costa said in his statement. The recovery of the dress was first reported by TMZ.com, which said that a person claiming to have taken the gown gave the celebrity website information about where to find the dress. Detectives found it in a black garment bag stashed underneath the bathroom counter. Nyong'o won an Oscar in 2014 for her role in "Twelve Years a Slave" and was a presenter at Sunday's ceremony. "I'm happy that it has been potentially recovered," Nyong'o said in the statement to Women's Wear Daily. "It's a timeless and priceless piece of art." The 31-year-old actress has become a darling of Hollywood's red carpets in the past two years, with commenters and fans praising her fashion choices. She accessorized the dress with Chopard diamond earrings and diamond rings. "There are a lot of collectors out there who are very private and have private collections of stolen merchandise," said style expert and fashion commentator Mary Alice Stephenson. "Some of these dresses have global fame as big as any Van Gogh." ___ Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Tami Abdollah from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.