Saturday Sep 13, 2014

Will Ferrell to play video games for charity

US funny man Will Ferrell will spend October 26 playing video games live online, with the aim of raising a bumper contribution for two kids' charities.Will Ferrell's Super Mega Blast Max Charity Gaming Extravaganza is set for a two-hour stint, broadcast from the offices of Amazon's latest...
Read More

TV

Will Ferrell to play video games for charity
Saturday Sep 13, 2014
Will Ferrell to play video games for charity

US funny man Will Ferrell will spend October 26 playing video games live online, with the aim of raising a bumper contribution for two kids' charities.Will Ferrell's Super Mega Blast Max Charity Gaming Extravaganza is set for a two-hour stint, broadcast from the offices of Amazon's latest acquisition, Twitch.TV in San Francisco. A fundraising drive is being held via Indiegogo.com, with tiered donations able to net various and variously ridiculous Will Ferrell branded merchandise. Those that donate $50 or more will be rewarded with a 4.5oz tube of dual-action sunscreen designed to prevent sunburn -- whether sustained outdoors or in front of a monitor or TV. Apparel options start opening up at $75, with t-shirts and hoodies made available, while those more generous still can receive signed cowbells and Xbox controllers. Should the total exceed $375,000, then one donator will be chosen via raffle to join Ferrell in SF for his gaming mini-marathon. "Word of my video gaming prowess actually broke the internet, and now some of the best gamers in the world want a piece of me," he said in a jokey pitch video. "I know the popular perception of gamers is that we are all extremely motivated, highly philanthropic and impossibly good looking. Let's not alter people's perceptions of us." Partnering with Ferrell for the event are Twitch, Amazon and Xbox One. Its beneficiaries will be Cancer for College, which provides college scholarships to cancer survivors, and DonateGames, whose work includes the provision of video games to children in hospital. The idea might sound odd, but as Ferrell explains, "games are also used as a form of therapy and help patients significantly during their treatment." "I want more people need to know how video games can help and how benevolent the gaming community is." Pitch video: youtu.be/9Lw-2ZGvyLwWebsite: willferrellhatescancer.com / indiegogo.com/projects/will-ferrell-s-supermegablastmax-gamer-challengeDonateGames on Twitch TV: twitch.tv/donategames Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'The Simpsons' toast 25 years with songs and stars
Saturday Sep 13, 2014
'The Simpsons' toast 25 years with songs and stars

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bart and Lisa Simpson, Chief Wiggum and son Ralph, bartender Moe and Apu from Kwik-E-Mart came to the Hollywood Bowl to celebrate 25 years of "The Simpsons." Those characters are performed by three actors — Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria — who hosted the world premiere of "The Simpsons Take the Bowl" at the legendary concert venue Friday. The program featured music, stars and reminiscences from TV's longest-running scripted show. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which featured several members wearing tall, blue Marge Simpson wigs, performed as classic clips from the show's past 25 seasons played on big screens above them. The 26th season of "The Simpsons" begins Sept. 28. "Oh yeah, 'The Simpsons' will go on, long after the human race is gone," sang "Weird" Al Yankovic, who performed "a little ditty about Homer and Marge" to the tune of John Mellencamp's "Jack and Diane." Other guests appearing during the two-hour program included show creator Matt Groening, former "Simpsons" writer Conan O'Brien, comedian Jon Lovitz, pro skateboarder Tony Hawk and Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer. Zimmer, wearing a jacket covered with Bart faces, performed the music he composed for the Oscar-nominated short film "The Longest Daycare," which shows how Maggie saves a butterfly from a classroom bully. At least 60 members of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles filled the stage for a soaring rendition of "Spider Pig," the song Homer dedicated to his special pet pig in "The Simpsons Movie." Then chorus members stripped off their robes to reveal sequined vests as they sang the Mr. Burns' song about wearing puppy fur, "See My Vest," which culminated with a Rockettes-style kick line. Azaria embodied several of the "Simpsons" characters he brings to life with his voice, including Moe and Apu, Disco Stu, Professor Frink and Duff Man. While portraying the beer-boasting Duff Man, a group of women dressed as Duff cheerleaders came onstage and fired T-shirt cannons into the crowd. Lovitz offered a tribute to the late Phil Hartman, a "Simpsons" regular who voiced various characters on the show until his death in 1998. The entire Hollywood Bowl was Simpson-ified for the program, which continues on Saturday and Sunday night. Plastic doughnuts dangled above concertgoers' heads and life-sized cardboard cutouts of show characters were scattered throughout the venue. New "Simpsons" animations were created just for the concert, including a peek at the Simpson family arriving at the Hollywood Bowl and Homer trying to resist pushing the "fireworks" button. Another bit showed Maggie launching the fireworks, and with that, pyrotechnics exploded above the famous Bowl shell. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy . ___ Online: http://www.thesimpsons.com/ Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'Hello Kitty' plane to fly Taipei-Paris route from late October
Saturday Sep 13, 2014
'Hello Kitty' plane to fly Taipei-Paris route from late October

The Taiwanese airline Eva Air, which has operated Hello Kitty flights between Taipei and Los Angeles since September 2013, will launch the same offer to and from Paris from October 29. From the plane's exterior to its seats, not to mention the flight attendants' uniforms, every detail of this special service is related to the famous Sanrio character.The Taiwanese carrier partnered with the Japanese owners of the Hello Kitty licence to create what is likely the world's most adorable airplane. Since September 2013, Eva Air has flown three Hello Kitty flights per week between Taipei and Los Angeles. To give more fans a chance to try out the experience, and to celebrate the cute charater's 40th birthday, the airline will begin operating its Hello Kitty plane between Paris and Taipei this fall. Before boarding, passengers can admire a family of Sanrio characters on the plane's exterior. On the inside, the headrests and pillows are adorned with the face of the bow-wearing icon. Flight attendants wear pink aprons with the same cute whiskers. The meal trays have also been customized to match the theme, even in business class. In the lavatories, the soaps and lotions are also branded Hello Kitty. Of course, the character's most devout fans will have the chance to take home a few goodies. From October 29, three Hello Kitty flights per week will be offered between Taipei and Paris. Reservations are already open at evakitty.evaair.com. Prices start at €802. Eva Air and Sanrio also operate other Hello Kitty flights within Asia. A total of five planes have been decked out to delight fans of the character. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Mark Wahlberg to bring 'Shooter' to the small screen
Saturday Sep 13, 2014
Mark Wahlberg to bring 'Shooter' to the small screen

According to Deadline, the actor who starred in the 2007 film will produce a new spin-off series for TNT.Directed by Antoine Fuqua, "Shooter" was adapted from Stephen Hunter's novel "Point of Impact" and starred Mark Wahlberg as Bob Lee Swagger, a former Marines sniper who is talked into picking up his rifle once again. When the character learns he has been framed for murder, he must use all his skills to clear his name. TNT has ordered a pilot for a potential series based on the action movie. The pilot is scripted by John Hlavin ("Underworld: Awakening," "The Shield") and produced by Wahlberg. This is the latest film-to-TV adaptation project in a series from Paramount TV, which recently sold a "Minority Report" sequel pilot to FOX and is developing a "Shutter Island" prequel series. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

YouTube most popular: Mike Tyson, Samsung Mobile and Hugh Jackman
Saturday Sep 13, 2014
YouTube most popular: Mike Tyson, Samsung Mobile and Hugh Jackman

Mike Tyson gets annoyed on live TV, Samsung Mobile points out the problems with live streaming and Hugh Jackman learns to play "pool bowl". YouTube's top five Most Popular videos as recorded on Friday, September 12 at 1:30pm GMT:[ORIGINAL] Mike Tyson Goes Crazy on Live Canadian News (contains strong language)Total views: 3.6 millionFirst published: September 10Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson reacts strongly to a question by Canadian reporter Nathan Downer on live TV.http://youtu.be/FDdSVYmp714 It Doesn't Take a Genius - The Live Stream #NoteTheDifference Total views: 2.1 millionFirst published: September 10This humorous clip by Samsung Mobile sees one tech guy impersonating a slow live stream.http://youtu.be/vA8xPyBAs_o Pool Bowling with Hugh Jackman Total views: 419,559First published: September 10Movie star Hugh Jackman and Jimmy Fallon get into "pool bowling", a game which sees them bowling on a giant pool table. http://youtu.be/k7ZbMsHgIqs Ellen's Anaconda Video! Total views: 6.2 millionFirst published: September 9Much-loved talk show host Ellen Degeneres joins in the fun on Nicki Minaj's controversial "Anaconda" video.http://youtu.be/cqp0km5VRj4 Lie Witness News - New York Fashion Week 2014 Total views: 288,360First published: September 11"Jimmy Kimmel Live" takes to the streets to show up wannabe fashionistas making it up as they go along in a special edition of "Lie witness news".http://youtu.be/QZSbK_SMkf0 Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Movies

'No Good Deed' tops N. American box office
Sunday Sep 14, 2014
'No Good Deed' tops N. American box office

Thriller "No Good Deed" leapt straight in at the top of the North American box office this weekend, pulling in $24.5 million on its debut, industry estimates showed Sunday.The movie tells the story of a devoted wife and mother of two who innocently helps out a charming but dangerous escaped convict -- with devastating consequences. Second at the weekend, with $16.6 million, was another new release -- the more sedate "Dolphin Tale 2," a family-friendly sequel starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd. The two new entrants relegated science-fiction blockbuster "Guardians of the Galaxy" into third spot, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations. The Marvel comics adaptation added another $8 million at the weekend to its seven-week haul for a total $305.9 million. Fourth was "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," which added $4.8 million from Friday to Sunday to its total earnings for $181 million. Next up was comedy "Let's Be Cops" with $4.3 million. In sixth place was a new entry, drama "The Drop," which tells the story of a man who unwittingly finds himself at the center of a robbery gone wrong. It pulled in $4.2 million on its first weekend in theaters. Seventh was teen melodrama "If I Stay" with $4.1 million. Eighth was "The November Man" with $2.75 million. The thriller stars former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan as an ex-CIA agent lured out of retirement for one last dangerous mission. In ninth spot was "The Giver," based on Lois Lowry's 1993 novel, starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Brenton Thwaites, which took $2.6 million. And rounding out the top 10, with $2.5 million, was "The Hundred-Foot Journey," a romantic comedy with Helen Mirren and Om Puri as culture-clashing restaurateurs. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'No Good Deed' defeats 'Guardians' at theaters
Sunday Sep 14, 2014
'No Good Deed' defeats 'Guardians' at theaters

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It took a murderous Idris Elba and a pair of dolphin buddies to defeat "Guardians of the Galaxy" at movie theaters. The Sony thriller "No Good Deed," which stars Elba as an escaped convict and Taraji P. Henson as the innocent he terrorizes, opened on top of the box office with $24.5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. And Sony wasn't surprised. "It's a movie that we really loved and felt that it was going to win," said Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer. "You have to give it to the cast in Idris and Taraji. Their chemistry together is fantastic." The film nearly doubled its reported budget in its first week of release, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. "It's the first brand new, post-summer release to really catch on," he said. The Warner Bros.' feel-good film "Dolphin Tale 2" debuted in second place with $16.5 million. The family-friendly story stars Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd reprising their roles from the 2011 original. "Guardians" slipped to third place with $8 million in ticket sales. The Marvel space adventure, which held the No. 1 spot for four weeks, is the top-grossing film of the year domestically, collecting more than $300 million in North America and $600 million worldwide. Paramount's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" finished fourth with $4.8 million, followed by the Fox comedy "Let's Be Cops," which collected $4.3 million. Fox Searchlight's crime drama "The Drop," which stars Tom Hardy and the late James Gandolfini, opened in sixth place with $4.2 million — an impressive showing given it only played in 809 theaters. ___ Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday. 1. "No Good Deed," $24.5 million. 2. "Dolphin Tale 2," $16.5 million ($1.3 million international). 3. "Guardians of the Galaxy," $8 million ($9.3 million international). 4. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," $4.8 million ($10.5 million international). 5. "Let's Be Cops," $4.3 million ($2.5 million international). 6. "The Drop," $4.2 million. 7. "If I Stay," $4 million ($3.2 million international). 8. "The November Man," $2.7 million. 9. "The Giver," $2.6 million ($3 million international). 10. "The Hundred-Foot Journey," $2.4 million. ___ Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak: 1. "Lucy," $25 million. 2. "Into the Storm," $14.2 million. 3. (tie) "The Expendables 3," $11.5 million. 4. (tie) "Sex Tape," $11.5 million. 5. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," $10.5 million. 6. "Divergent," $10 million. 7. "Hercules," $9.6 million. 8. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," $9.5 million. 9. "Guardians of the Galaxy," $9.3 million. 10. "Rurouni Kenshin," $8.5 million. 11. "The Maze Runner," $8.3 million. ___ Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy . Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Japanese actress Shirley Yamaguchi dies at 94
Sunday Sep 14, 2014
Japanese actress Shirley Yamaguchi dies at 94

Japanese actress and singer Yoshiko "Shirley" Yamaguchi, who was nearly executed in China at the end of World War II, has died at the age of 94 after a life as dramatic as any of her films.Yamaguchi, who was born to Japanese parents in pre-war Manchuria, where her father worked for the railway, entertained Chinese and Japanese audiences posing as a Chinese under her assumed identity Li Xianglan. The actress, who formally went by the surname of her late husband and diplomat Hiroshi Otaka, succumbed to heart failure at her home in Tokyo on September 7, her family said Sunday. "She always stayed home in recent years because of her old age but led a normal life," a family member told AFP by telephone. "She watched various DVDs including movies and documentaries from other countries like China and the United States." Yamaguchi was long regarded as Chinese after making her debut in the 1938 movie "Honeymoon Express" by Manchuria Film Productions. Some of her movies at this time were seen as pro-Japanese propaganda, including "China Nights (1940)", in which she starred with Japanese heartthrob Kazuo Hasegawa, and she later expressed regret over them. Arrested after the war as a collaborator, she narrowly avoided execution for treason by revealing her Japanese identity to the Chinese court. Her hit songs included "Fragrance of the Night" and "Suzhou Serenade", which was banned in mainland China after the war. Following her deportation from China in 1946, she relaunched her career in Japan under her birth name, Yoshiko Yamaguchi, and went on to star in Akira Kurosawa's "Scandal" and other films. She also played a leading role in US movies and musicals in the 1950s as Shirley Yamaguchi, including Samuel Fuller's "A House of Bamboo" (1955). She married Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi in 1951 but their marriage lasted just four years. Yamaguchi later tied the knot with Japanese diplomat Hiroshi Otaka in 1958 and retired from show business. Her husband died in 2001. In 1969, she returned to the limelight as hostess for a popular afternoon television show and covered the final phase of the Vietnam War and Middle East conflicts. From 1974 to 1992, she served as a member of the upper house of parliament for the ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party. She was active in promoting relations with China and other Asian countries. One of her concerns was the issue of Japanese "comfort women" military brothels. In her 1987 autobiography, Yamaguchi wrote she was shellshocked when she watched "China Nights" to prepare the book. "Why did I have to appear in such a movie and perform as 'Chinese actress Ri Koran (Li Xianglan)? I felt miserable realising this at this advanced age and I had sleepless nights for months." However, according to some Japanese bloggers, the movie was not widely taken as a pure propaganda film but was appreciated by many people in both Japan and China. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'Whiplash' wins top prize at Deauville film fest
Saturday Sep 13, 2014
'Whiplash' wins top prize at Deauville film fest

France's Deauville Film Festival on Saturday awarded its grand prize to director Damien Chazelle's "Whiplash" which had also taken top honours at the Sundance festival earlier this year. Among the 14 films in competition, "Whiplash" was a hit with the public and received the audience prize for favourite film as well. The drama tells the story of a young drummer at a Manhattan conservatory trying to become the best of his generation under the direction of a hard-nosed teacher. Chazelle himself had been a drummer in his youth and said he had a difficult time learning the instrument. He said he wanted to convey the emotions he had felt by making each concert in the film seem as if it were a matter of life or death. The jury grand prize went to French-Canadian director Philippe Falardeau's "The Good Lie", starring actress Reese Witherspoon, which tells the story of four orphans who survive an attack on their village in South Sudan and 10 years later emigrate to the United States. A highlight of the 40th edition of the festival -- which celebrates American movies -- was the biopic of funk music star James Brown, "Get on Up", by director Tate Taylor with Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger as one of the producers. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Will Ferrell to play video games for charity
Saturday Sep 13, 2014
Will Ferrell to play video games for charity

US funny man Will Ferrell will spend October 26 playing video games live online, with the aim of raising a bumper contribution for two kids' charities.Will Ferrell's Super Mega Blast Max Charity Gaming Extravaganza is set for a two-hour stint, broadcast from the offices of Amazon's latest acquisition, Twitch.TV in San Francisco. A fundraising drive is being held via Indiegogo.com, with tiered donations able to net various and variously ridiculous Will Ferrell branded merchandise. Those that donate $50 or more will be rewarded with a 4.5oz tube of dual-action sunscreen designed to prevent sunburn -- whether sustained outdoors or in front of a monitor or TV. Apparel options start opening up at $75, with t-shirts and hoodies made available, while those more generous still can receive signed cowbells and Xbox controllers. Should the total exceed $375,000, then one donator will be chosen via raffle to join Ferrell in SF for his gaming mini-marathon. "Word of my video gaming prowess actually broke the internet, and now some of the best gamers in the world want a piece of me," he said in a jokey pitch video. "I know the popular perception of gamers is that we are all extremely motivated, highly philanthropic and impossibly good looking. Let's not alter people's perceptions of us." Partnering with Ferrell for the event are Twitch, Amazon and Xbox One. Its beneficiaries will be Cancer for College, which provides college scholarships to cancer survivors, and DonateGames, whose work includes the provision of video games to children in hospital. The idea might sound odd, but as Ferrell explains, "games are also used as a form of therapy and help patients significantly during their treatment." "I want more people need to know how video games can help and how benevolent the gaming community is." Pitch video: youtu.be/9Lw-2ZGvyLwWebsite: willferrellhatescancer.com / indiegogo.com/projects/will-ferrell-s-supermegablastmax-gamer-challengeDonateGames on Twitch TV: twitch.tv/donategames Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Events

An emotional Beyonce, Jay Z end tour in Paris
Saturday Sep 13, 2014
An emotional Beyonce, Jay Z end tour in Paris

PARIS (AP) — An emotional Beyonce was in tears as she and husband Jay Z wrapped up their "On the Run" stadium tour Saturday night in Paris, where the duo said they got engaged years ago. The performers told the audience at Stade de France that Paris was also where their 2-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, was conceived. "We love Paris. It's special to us because we got engaged here and this is where baby Blue was conceived," the rap star said. Beyonce and Jay Z were married in 2008. Nicki Minaj joined Beyonce onstage for their collaboration, "Flawless," which excited the crowd of nearly 80,000. Beyonce and Jay Z off kicked the three-hour show with "'03 Bonnie & Clyde." They also performed the hits "Crazy In Love," ''Single Ladies," ''Big Pimpin," ''Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and "Drunk In Love." "I'm your biggest fan. I love you," a teary eyed Beyonce, 33, said looking to Jay Z, 44. He replied: "Greatest entertainer in the world. I love her. She's my wife." The Saturday night concert mirrored the sentiments from last month's MTV Video Music Awards, where a teary Beyonce was joined onstage by Jay Z and Blue Ivy, amid the numerous rumors surrounding their marriage. The Paris show was being filmed for an HBO special to air in September. The duo also performed Friday in Paris. Beyonce and Jay Z kicked off the "On the Run" tour in June. ___ Online: http://www.beyonce.com/ ___ Follow Bianca Roach at twitter.com/B__Roach Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'Whiplash' wins top prize at Deauville film fest
Saturday Sep 13, 2014
'Whiplash' wins top prize at Deauville film fest

France's Deauville Film Festival on Saturday awarded its grand prize to director Damien Chazelle's "Whiplash" which had also taken top honours at the Sundance festival earlier this year. Among the 14 films in competition, "Whiplash" was a hit with the public and received the audience prize for favourite film as well. The drama tells the story of a young drummer at a Manhattan conservatory trying to become the best of his generation under the direction of a hard-nosed teacher. Chazelle himself had been a drummer in his youth and said he had a difficult time learning the instrument. He said he wanted to convey the emotions he had felt by making each concert in the film seem as if it were a matter of life or death. The jury grand prize went to French-Canadian director Philippe Falardeau's "The Good Lie", starring actress Reese Witherspoon, which tells the story of four orphans who survive an attack on their village in South Sudan and 10 years later emigrate to the United States. A highlight of the 40th edition of the festival -- which celebrates American movies -- was the biopic of funk music star James Brown, "Get on Up", by director Tate Taylor with Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger as one of the producers. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Francophone writers in the Americas: a rare breed
Saturday Sep 13, 2014
Francophone writers in the Americas: a rare breed

While North America has produced a wealth of prize-winning English-language writers, the continent's Francophone writers have largely worked in obscurity.Often mistakenly linked to Canada's Quebec province, this rich modern literary tradition -- alive in French-speaking enclaves from Louisiana to New Brunswick to Manitoba -- nevertheless has a spirit all its own. These Francophone authors are the special focus of Festival America, a biennial literary event held outside Paris that celebrates writers from North America and is running through Sunday. They use both standard French and local dialects to tell the story of their minority communities, which number about one million people in North America outside Quebec. The writers rely on a handful of boutique publishers in Canada and Louisiana to bring these original voices to light. Every year, dozens of new titles are published. "It's true that we're far away, with a small pool of local readers," says Canadian writer Roger Léveillé, who lives more than 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) from Montreal in Manitoba province. For Léveillé, success for an author in a niche community is measured "by critical acclaim rather than book sales". By that scale, the nearly 70-year-old writer -- who publishes as J.R. Léveillé -- is greatly accomplished. He has written 30 books, essays and collections of poetry over the past 40 years, and continues to win literary awards, as he did in 2011 for the English translation of his best known work "Le Soleil du lac qui se couche" ("The Setting Lake Sun"). - Prizes in Paris - France Daigle is also a star of the genre, for her captivating 2011 novel "Pour sûr" (For Sure), which showcases chiac, an Acadian dialect spoken in southeast New Brunswick that mixes old and modern French, with bits of English thrown in. A thought-provoking read about minority cultures and their linguistic obsession, "Pour sûr" has earned Daigle five awards, including the prestigious Governor General of Canada Award. "There's a lot going on here," exclaims Monika Boehringer, who teaches Acadian literature to English speakers at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. "There's a new generation of writers that is active, that publishes and renews itself!" Boehringer points to young Georgette LeBlanc from Pointe-à-l'Eglise in Nova Scotia, whose poems "Alma", "Amédé" and "Prudent" breathe new life into long forgotten figures in history. Louisiana poet Kirby Jambon also recently earned a prize from the Académie Française, the pre-eminent French body on matter pertaining to the French language, for his collection "Petites communions." "A Cajun poet, it's incredible!" enthuses Béatrice Germaine, a French consular official for cultural matters in New Orleans. "French in Louisiana skipped a generation" after it was banned in public schools for more than 50 years up to 1968, explains Germaine, who has lived in the southern US city for nearly two decades. Today, the language has been reborn in Louisiana due to the opening of French immersion schools at the end of the 1980s, which fueled new works by a handful of writers, she says. "Everyone is singing the praises of bilingualisme," says David Cheramie, a poet living in Lafayette, Louisiana, who had to relearn the language of his ancestors before producing two poetry collections "Lettre à mère" and "Julie Choufleur." Cheramie is now working on a novel. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Hillary Clinton among speakers at Angelou memorial
Friday Sep 12, 2014
Hillary Clinton among speakers at Angelou memorial

NEW YORK (AP) — It was New York's turn to say goodbye to Maya Angelou. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison were among those sharing memories of the late author and Renaissance woman artist Friday at The Riverside Church in Manhattan, a few blocks west of a Harlem town house that Angelou owned in recent years. From a stage brightened by beds of white roses, it was a chance for friends and family members to pay tribute before hundreds of attendees and for the city itself to claim at least part of her legacy. Angelou, who died May 28 at age 86, had lived off and on in New York in the 1950s and '60s and visited often even after she moved to North Carolina, her primary residence over the latter half of her life. As a New Yorker, she appeared in numerous stage productions, was a member of the Harlem Writers Guild and directed the New York office of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. New York was the "center of her universe," said Howard Dodson Jr., director emeritus of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, to which Angelou donated her papers. From the city, she "radiated out to the world" and the world responded in kind. The program was organized by the Schomburg Center, The Riverside Church and Angelou's longtime publisher, Random House. In June, Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, was a featured speaker at a memorial held at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where Angelou taught for 30 years. Hillary Clinton recalled on Friday that Angelou had encouraged her husband to run for president back in the early 1990s. She made no reference to a possible campaign for herself in 2016, but noted that Angelou had been supportive of her run in 2008, when then-Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York was defeated in the Democratic primary by Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton said she first learned of Angelou through her celebrated memoir, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," which came out in 1970. She read the book over and over and gave it to her mother, who, like Angelou, had been sent off as a little girl to live with her grandmother. She described Angelou's life as so vast that anyone could relate to it. "You're Italian? Maya spoke Italian. You're a dancer? So was she. You're from San Francisco? She conducted a street car there," Clinton said. "She knew everyone, lived everywhere, read everything and felt it all." Morrison, a friend of Angelou's for more than 40 years, said that her private generosity was even "more noteworthy" than her public achievements. She noted her respect for the "server and served," the humble and the elite. She remembered her laugh, her smile, the holding of hands, with "no words, no winks, no nods." And she was grateful for Angelou's "soothing voice, on the telephone, at the exact moment when you needed it most." "Maya Angelou was the first non-family member to call me out of the blue when my son (Slade) died (in 2010)," said Morrison, who last fall presented Angelou an honorary National Book Award. "We had a short, poignant conversation. I was surprised, and I was thrilled, and I was calmed by that call." The event also featured Angelou's grandson, Colin Ashanti Johnson; her Random House editor, Robert Loomis; a gospel quartet, the Brown Sisters; and a recording of Angelou's voice during Valerie Simpson's spirited performance of "I'm Every Woman," which Simpson helped write. The poet Nikki Giovanni began her brief recitation by asking "What makes a life extraordinary?" Laughing when scared Singing when lonely Loving when abandoned Yet Never turning away from the future Never ceasing to be better Never shying away from the difficult, the dangerous , the delicate chores of living that make a life extraordinary that makes, for all of us, a Maya. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'The Sound of Music' to tour without 'varnish'
Friday Sep 12, 2014
'The Sound of Music' to tour without 'varnish'

NEW YORK (AP) — Tony Award-winning director Jack O'Brien is working on a touring version of "The Sound of Music" starting next year, but he promises he won't be "trotting out your mother's version." O'Brien, who has helmed such winning Broadway productions as "The Coast of Utopia" and "Hairspray," said he'll try to strip the show back to its essence, dropping a lot of the "whiskers on kittens and warm woolen mittens" stuff. The tour will launch in September 2015 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles and producers said it will travel around North America for multiple seasons, playing multi-week and weeklong engagements. The cast has yet to be announced. O'Brien said he was inspired to do it during a recent visit to Russia where he saw a post-modern production of "The Sound of Music" in Russian. It left him in tears. "I was immensely affected by it and I'm not that kind of guy," he said. "I thought to myself, 'Jesus, we should take some varnish off this piece and kind of look at it again.'" The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical debuted on Broadway in 1959 starring Mary Martin, and the 1965 film starring Julie Andrews won the best picture Academy Award. It has the timeless tunes "My Favorite Things," ''Do-Re-Mi," ''Sixteen Going on Seventeen," ''The Sound of Music" and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." O'Brien saw Martin's version in college but was largely unmoved, even though the show is based on real events and portrays real people. "It was lovely but it was very kitschy. Even when you look at the costumes, they're so adorable they make your teeth ache," he said. A live version broadcast on NBC late last year starring Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer, Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti and Christian Borle showed the continuing love for the show, drawing more than 18 million viewers. The reason, he said, is clear: "It's built like a Buick," said O'Brien. Though still in the planning process, O'Brien hinted at some of his ideas, including making sure there's real chemistry between Maria and Captain Georg von Trapp, making some of the scenes that have just a few actors more intimate, and adding a little realism by making the children's choreography initially look like a non-professional did it. "There's a real play here. These roles are actable and the situation is very understandable," he said. "I thought, 'Put me in, coach. I'd like to have a whack at that before it's too late." ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.