Sunday Mar 9, 2014
Two years after launching its Infinite line of digital comics, Marvel Entertainment said it intends to expand the line's offerings with its first all-ages titles as it moves to attract younger readers familiar with characters like Spider-Man from animated television shows. Announced Sunday at the annual South by Southwest event in Austin, Texas, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso and Kristin Vincent, the vice president of its digital products, called the new "Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man" digital title the publisher's first for kids in the Infinite format. "We're trying to reach the next generation of comics fans," Vincent said. "These stories resonate with kids." By taking tales from the television series of the same name, the publisher hopes the digital comics will find an audience in kids who are more used to reading on a tablet than traditional paper. "The story telling just lends itself naturally to a tablet . images replace the other images," she said, adding that while it's not animation, the pages and story are bright, vivid and redolent of what kids see on television. With the Infinite format — a digital-only medium that features stories and art native to digital readers — Alonso believes kids will get their first hands-on experience with comics in a way more akin to what they've experienced with TV. "It will excite them and it's in a format they understand," he said of the title, which is due out later this year and will eventually be available in more than 10 languages around the globe. The stories feature writers known to readers of traditional comics, including Eugene Son, Matt Kindt, Cullen Bunn and Tim Seeley, along with artists Luciano Vecchio and Soutchey Leimetry and storyboards by J.L. Mast and Geoffrey Beaulieu. Like the ongoing TV series on Disney XD, the Infinite series will focus on Peter Parker and his adventures as Spider-Man. It will also feature other teenage heroes, too, including Iron Fist, Power Man, White Tiger and Nova, Alonso said. "This is going to be the first time that our Infinite Comics format will feature Spider-Man and the team of young heroes. It's .. a very diverse, multi-ethnic cast with very different power sets," he said. "All of them are going to appeal to very different types of kids." ___ Moore reported from Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mattmooreap ___ Online: http://www.marvel.com Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The newest Utah polygamous family featured in a reality TV show says sharing their story with a wide audience has been liberating. Brady Williams and his five wives were a bit apprehensive ahead of the airing of a pilot episode in September, but they said this week an interview with The Associated Press that it felt liberating to be open about who they are and what they believe. "It really is like coming out of the closet," said Brady Williams, 43. "It's very liberating." His wives feel the same way, including his second, Robyn Williams, 40, who said: "I feel more free to just be who I am and not be so afraid." The first of nine episodes of the show, "My Five Wives," airs Sunday on TLC. It chronicles the life of Brady Williams, his five wives and their 24 children who live in a small rural community outside of Salt Lake City dominated by a branch of the fundamentalist Mormon church. The family once belonged to the group, known as the Apostolic United Brethren, but withdrew during the mid-2000s after re-evaluating their core beliefs. Now, they practice polygamy not because they think they must to get to heaven, and avoid hell, but because they prefer the lifestyle. Their show begins airing in a social and political climate that has softened significantly toward plural families in recent years. A federal judge in Utah struck down key parts of the state's polygamy laws in December, marking a victory for the Williams and hundreds of other polygamous families in the state. The ruling decriminalizes polygamy, making only bigamy — holding marriage licenses with multiple partners —illegal. The family that brought that lawsuit against the state of Utah, Kody Brown and his four wives from TLC's "Sister Wives," is credited with helping create greater acceptance for plural families. Their show, which debuted in 2010 with footage of the family at their house in northern Utah, was ground-breaking in demonstrating to viewers across the country that not all polygamists are child predators like Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of a polygamous sect on the Utah -Arizona border. The Williams family members said they don't expect viewers to be surprised by much, other than maybe how similar they are to non-polygamous families. It's normal times five, the family jokes. Viewers will see tears, joy and quarrels, they said. TLC is banking on viewers being fascinated by the unique dynamics of a plural family: regular family sit-down meetings among the adults where Brady Williams follows an agenda written on a notepad; side-by-side multiplexes where they live; and nightly family dinners where the children line up like kids in a school cafeteria to get their food. Then there's the always-intriguing dynamic among the wives who share a husband. In the first episode, Brady Williams suggests the women work out their issues directly with one another rather than always coming to him, only to see it lead to hurt feelings and shouting. Among the topics discussed by the family during the season is a possible move out of Utah, maybe even to Washington state. The Browns of "Sister Wives" fled Utah for Las Vegas after their show aired under the threat of prosecution from a county official. The Williams aren't terribly worried about that happening to them, as long as the recent court ruling stands. But they say they don't feel welcomed in the tight-knit community where almost everyone but them belongs to the church. "There haven't been any overt acts of disapproval," Brady Williams said. But he added: "We want to be able to feel comfortable in our own skin." Aaron Bronson, a principal at the school in the community and member of the Apostolic United Brethren, said he doesn't begrudge the Williams family for doing the show. He said the production crews have been respectful, and he's heard no complaints from the Williams family's neighbors. "If they want to go public with what they believe, it's their choice," Bronson said. "It's not something I would choose to do with my family. It's a rocky road." ___ Follow Brady McCombs at https://twitter.com/BradyMcCombs Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The British actress has joined the cast of "The Royals," the first original scripted series from celebrity and entertainment network E!.A new cable network is entering the fray, posing yet another challenge to major networks. For its first original scripted series, E! is developing "The Royals," the latest idea from "One Tree Hill" creator Mark Schwahn. The drama will follow a fictitious British royal family, imagining what goes on behind closed doors in the most watched family on the planet. Elizabeth Hurley will play Queen Helena, who is willing to do anything to defend the crown and her clan, who is constantly under scrutiny. Recently seen in "Gossip Girl," the actress will co-star with Vincent Regan ("Snow White and the Huntsman"), Haley Lu Richardson ("Ravenswood"), William Moseley ("The Chronicles of Narmia") and Tom Austen ("Jo," "The Borgias"). E! has yet to announce a premiere date for "The Royals." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Sheila MacRae, a veteran stage, film and TV performer best known for playing Alice Kramden in the 1960s re-creation of "The Honeymooners," has died. She was 92. The actress died Thursday at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, N.J., MacRae's granddaughter, Allison Mullavey, told The Associated Press on Friday. "She had a great life, my mom, she really did. She was quite a broad," said her daughter, actress Heather MacRae. "Fascinating, almost like an Autie Mame character." Shirley Jones, in a statement released by MacRae's family, called Sheila MacRae "a great lady" with extraordinary talent who "helped me to be a better mother." MacRae, who suffered from dementia but was otherwise in good health, had been hospitalized for a minor surgical procedure. Her death came suddenly Thursday night, apparently the result of old age, said Heather MacRae. "She lived a good life and a long life," Mullavey said. "We'll miss her." A singer, dancer and actress, MacRae was married to "Oklahoma!" and "Carousel" star Gordon MacRae for 26 years, and they appeared together in 1964 on "The Ed Sullivan Show" when the Beatles were featured. She had put her career on hold while she devoted herself to MacRae and their four children, Heather MacRae said. After helping her husband with his nightclub act, she decided to join him and her career took off, her daughter said. The couple appeared together in musicals including "Guys and Dolls," with Sheila MacRae taking her performance as Miss Adelaide to Broadway in 1965. The couple divorced in 1967. In the 1950s version of "The Honeymooners," Audrey Meadows starred with Jackie Gleason as lovebirds and sparring partners Ralph and Alice Kramden. Sheila MacRae replaced Meadows as Alice in a later version from 1966-70 on "The Jackie Gleason Show." MacRae was the last survivor from the '60s edition of the Gleason show. Jane Kean, who played Trixie Norton, died last fall. "My mother referred to herself as the last Mrs. Kramden," Heather MacRae said. After her divorce from Gordon MacRae, she was married to Ronald Wayne, who produced Gleason's show, her daughter said. They later divorced. Sheila MacRae played the role of Madelyn Richmond on the soap opera "General Hospital" and was host of "The Sheila MacRae Show." A native of London, England, Sheila MacRae emigrated to America with her parents during World War II. Survivors include children Heather and William "Gar" MacRae, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Daughter Meredith died in 2000 and son Robert in 2010, Heather MacRae said. Funeral services for her mother were pending, she said. ___ AP Television Writer Lynn Elber in Los Angeles and Associated Press national writer Hillel Italie in New York contributed to this report. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The producer of early Grammy and National Football League telecasts has died. Ted Bergmann's wife, Beverly, says the veteran producer died Sunday following surgery in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 93. Bergmann started his television career at NBC in 1947. He went on to work in advertising, where he matched companies such as Coca-Cola and Colgate with entertainment properties. The group behind the Grammy Awards sought Bergmann's help in 1962 to bring the ceremony to TV. He then produced the music awards show for seven years. Bergmann served as president of the DuMont Television Network and televised early NFL games and live boxing. Other TV credits include "The Arthur Godfrey Show," ''Love Thy Neighbor" and "Three's Company." Besides his wife, Bergmann is survived by six children, two stepsons, 14 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
NEW YORK (AP) — The shirtless warriors of the "300" sequel "Rise of an Empire" ravaged the post-Oscars box-office weekend with a domestic debut of $45.1 million but an even bigger international haul of $87.8 million. Seven years after the original "300" became an unlikely, ultra-stylish, blood-soaked sensation, Warner Bros.' 3-D follow-up showed considerable might at the box office. While "300: Rise of an Empire" didn't come close the North American debut of Zack Snyder's 2007 original ($70.9 million and without the benefit of 3-D ticket prices), it performed like a blockbuster overseas. "Rise of an Empire," which with flexed torsos and R-rated bloodshed further chronicles the ancient battles of the Greeks and Persians, led a busy box-office weekend that also saw an Academy Awards bump for "12 Years a Slave" and one of the highest per-screen averages ever for Wes Anderson's European caper "The Grand Budapest Hotel." Though "300: Rise of an Empire" is excessively macho, Eva Green — the film's fiercest presence — may have drawn females for what was always going to be a male-centric release. Whereas the female audience for the first "300" was only 29 percent, it was 38 percent for "Rise of an Empire." "Talk about female empowerment," said Jeff Goldstein, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., said of the "Casino Royale" actress. Noting the popularity of 3-D and IMAX screenings for the movie, Goldstein credited the visual panache of producer Snyder (Noam Murro took over directing), who drew directly from Frank Miller's graphic novels: "He brings a lot to the screen that mesmerizes you." Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak, said the "300" franchise "translates to virtually every culture. Every country can appreciate the visuals of these movies." The week's other new wide release, 20th Century Fox's animated "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," opened in second with $32.5 million. Though the performance was better than some expected, it's a relatively low total for a film that cost about $140 million to make. The film is based on the cartoon about a time-traveling boy and his brilliant dog from "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." Some of the family film market was likely taken by Warner Bros.' hit "The Lego Movie," which added $11 million in its fifth weekend. The Liam Neeson thriller "Non-Stop" slid to third place with $15.4 million in the Universal release's second weekend after topping the box office last week. In limited release, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" made an astounding average of $200,000 on four screens in New York and Los Angeles. Fox Searchlight will expand the film by 65 to 75 theaters next week. The specialty studio also celebrated the best picture Oscar win for "12 Years a Slave" with a notable bump of $2.2 million, even though it was released on DVD and video-on-demand Tuesday. That was up 123 percent on the prior weekend for the film, which first opened in November. "12 Years a Slave" drew even more international interest, where it made $9.1 million as moviegoers flocked to see the Academy Award winner. ___ Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. 1. "300: Rise of an Empire," $45.1 million ($87.8 million international). 2. "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," $32.5 million ($21 million international). 3. "Non-Stop," $15.4 million ($12 million international). 4. "The Lego Movie," $11 million ($9.9 million international). 5. "Son of God," $10 million. 6. "The Monuments Men," $3.1 million ($3.7 million international). 7. "3 Days to Kill," $3.1 million. 8. "Frozen," $3 million ($3.6 million international). 9. "12 Years a Slave," $2.2 million ($9.1 million international). 10. "Ride Along," $2 million ($1.8 million international). ___ Estimated weekend ticket sales Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada) for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak: 1. "300: Rise of an Empire," $87.8 million. 2. "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," $21 million. 3. "Non-Stop," $12 million. 4. "The Lego Movie," $9.9 million. 5. "12 Years a Slave," $9.1 million. 6. "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," $8 million. 7. "Supercondriaque," $7.5 million. 8. "The Grand Budapest Hotel," $6.2 million. 9. "Pompeii," $6.1 million. 10. "Monuments Men," $3.7 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/jake_coyle Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A life-sized animatronic Abe Lincoln is among the historical figures and tableau scenes from a Gettysburg wax museum set to hit the auction block just months after the town celebrated the 150th anniversary of his "Gettysburg Address." The American Civil War Wax Museum has occupied a prime spot near the center of the battlefield for more than half a century. But it recently underwent an extensive renovation and wants to take a new approach to history. As part of those changes, it is preparing to unload dozens of its historical figures — most made of vinyl, not wax — in what the auctioneer calls a once-in-a-lifetime sale. The March 15 auction will also feature diorama contents, tapestries, furniture and books. The items include soldiers, a Southern plantation scene and the Lincoln-Douglas debates' stop in 1858 at Knox College. Also for sale is an enormous reproduction of Gilbert Stuart's 1796 portrait of George Washington, which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. When the wax museum reopens later this year as the Gettysburg Heritage Center, its focus will have shifted to the experience of town residents before, during and after the July 1863 battle between the Confederates under Gen. Robert E. Lee and the federal troops commanded by Gen. George Gordon Meade. "The Park Service does a fabulous job of telling the story about the battle," said Tammy Myers, who runs the facility for FutureStake Inc. "We don't all need to be telling the same story." The company estimates 9 million people have walked through the wax museum since it opened in 1962, shortly before the centennial of the battle. While much of what those visitors saw will be auctioned off, the plan is to preserve the scene from Pickett's Charge depicted inside the theater but revamp the presentation that accompanies it. Myers said there are also plans to repurpose a few of the life-sized figures for a new exhibit on the Underground Railroad. The business changed hands about seven months ago and closed down two months ago for the construction project, which gutted most of the building's interior. The new attraction will have more interactive activities for children, including short videos about 19th-century life in Gettysburg, a thriving transportation hub with three weekly newspapers and gas streetlights. Among the many businesses that serve the Gettysburg tourism trade, some have been taking a look at their operations these days, now that the 150th anniversary of the battle and Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" has passed, said Carl Whitehill with Destination Gettysburg. The wax museum has been a mainstay of the central Pennsylvania town's tourist trek for decades, Whitehill said. "It's a place that our visitors have become quite familiar with," Whitehill said. "It was certainly due for change. It's quite an anchor there, on one of our busiest streets." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The actress is in line to join the cast of "American Ultra," according to The Hollywood Reporter.Currently in theaters in Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac," Uma Thurman is in talks to join this action comedy authored by Max Landis, the screenwriter behind "Chronicle" (2012) and son to veteran director John Landis. The 43-year-old actress is expected to play the head of a secret government program to infiltrate sleeper warriors into the population. Jesse Eisenberg will play a young pothead who suddenly finds himself personally involved in this government plot. Kristen Stewart will play his girlfriend. "Projet X" director Nima Nourizadeh will helm "American Ultra." Shooting is scheduled to begin on April 14. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
A majestic hotel in Budapest that shares an uncanny resemblance to the fictional hotel at the centerpiece of Wes Anderson’s film "The Grand Budapest Hotel" has created a special package that explores the property’s cinematic history.The Corinthia Hotel Budapest is capitalizing on its name and the fact that its majestic, Neoclassical facade is loosely reminiscent of the fictional hotel, to offer guests a "Behind the Scenes" package that explores the property’s own cinematic history. Though the hotel boasts no official links to the movie, in 1915 the property transformed its royal ballroom into the Royal Apollo Cinema, seating more than a thousand spectators. It was there that French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere, the earliest filmmakers in history, screened their first movie in Europe, outside Paris. The Behind the Scenes package includes a guided tour of the hotel’s grand ballroom, a movie screening at the Arena Plaza cinema, walking tour of the city’s most famous movie set locations, and a cruise on the Danube. Other luxury hotels that have played supporting roles in movies include the Grandhotel Pupp, in the 2006 movie “The Last Holiday” with Queen Latifah, and the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa hotel in Dubai, from which Tom Cruise dangled 1,700 feet above ground for the 2011 movie “Mission Impossible -- Ghost Protocol.” The three-night Behind the Scenes package starts at €842 ($1,150 USD) for two and is available from April 4 to December 25, 2014. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
A homeless man wins the lottery, a news anchor quits on national television and celebrities float on hoverboards. Details of these and other most popular YouTube videos on Friday, March 7 can be found below.YouTube's top five Most Popular videos worldwide, as recorded on Friday, March 7 at 4pm GMT: 1) RT Anchor Quits On Air4.9 million total viewsPublished: March 5 American news anchor Liz Wahl resigns live on air from Russian state-owned TV network Russia Today, claiming that the station had ‘whitewashed' the events in Ukraine.http://youtu.be/55izx6rbCqg2) Most Shocking Second a Day10.9 million viewsPublished: March 5 A young girl's life is tragically turned upside down by war in the space of one year in this ad by UK charity Save The Children.http://youtu.be/RBQ-IoHfimQ3) Homeless Lottery Winner9.6 million viewsPublished: March 4 Magician prankster MagicofRahat gives homeless man Eric $1,000 by making him believe he has won the lottery in this touching clip.http://youtu.be/4Lki_IeM6bQ4) Belief10.3 million total viewsPublished: March 3 Celebrities including musician Moby and "Back to the Future 2" actor Christopher Lloyd demonstrate HUVrTech floating hoverboards in this clip. Real or fake? FunnyOrDie.com/m/8on0 has the answers -- and a raffle to win the prototype itself.http://youtu.be/A4vE_vpkr905) Transformers: Age of Extinction Teaser Trailer10.5 million total viewsPublished: March 4 Mark Wahlberg stars in the official trailer for the upcoming installment of the science-fiction franchise "Transformers."http://youtu.be/ubGpDoyJvmI Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
NEW YORK (AP) — Oscar winner "12 Years a Slave" will face off with blockbusters like "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" at the MTV Movie Awards. The network announced Thursday the nominees for its 24th annual Movie Awards. The other movie of the year nominees are "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "American Hustle." Most of the best male and female nominees reassemble recent Oscar contenders including Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong'o and Leonardo DiCaprio. The awards' best kiss category will have a clear favorite: Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence's smooch in "American Hustle." For best shirtless performance, Jennifer Aniston from "We're the Millers" will vie with DiCaprio in "The Wolf of Wall Street." Conan O'Brien will host the show live April 13 from Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Conan O'Brien will be serving up buckets of golden popcorn. O'Brien announced Tuesday on his TBS talk show "Conan" that he's hosting this year's MTV Movie Awards. The annual movie celebration that honors winners with popcorn-shaped trophies is scheduled for April 13 at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. "After eight years of intense negotiations, I am honored to announce I am hosting MTV's second most prestigious awards show," the comedian joked in a statement. It marks the first time O'Brien has hosted the MTV Movie Awards. He previously hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards in 2002 and 2006. Past hosts of the MTV Movie Awards have included Jimmy Fallon, Aziz Ansari, Russell Brand, Rebel Wilson and Sarah Silverman. ___ Online: http://www.movieawards.mtv.com Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Diversity was perhaps the biggest winner at the 86th annual Academy Awards. For the first time, a film directed by a black filmmaker — Steve McQueen of "12 Years a Slave" — won best picture and a Latino — Alfonso Cuaron of "Gravity" — took home best director in a ceremony presided over by a lesbian host and overseen by the academy's first black president. And only two of the top six awards went to Americans. McQueen's grimly historical drama "12 Years a Slave" took best picture, leading the usually sedate filmmaker to jump up and down in celebration after his acceptance speech. The British director dedicated his award to "all of the people who endured slavery and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today." Cuaron's lost-in-space thriller "Gravity" led the Oscars with seven awards, including cinematography, editing, score, visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing. Some in his native Mexico have been critical that since the attention came for a Hollywood release and not a Mexican-themed film, his win didn't have the same kind of importance. "I'm Mexican so I hope some Mexicans were rooting for me," he told reporters backstage. The entire Oscar ceremony had the feel of a make-over for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — an institution that has sometimes seemed stuck in the past. After a Los Angeles Times report revealed the academy was overwhelming older white men, new president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has pushed for a more varied membership. The movie industry that the Oscars reflect has also been reluctant to tell a wider range of stories. "Dallas Buyers Club," the best picture-nominated drama about AIDS in 1980s Texas, took two decades to get made after countless executives balked at financing such a tale. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, the two Americans in the top six awards, took best actor and best supporting actor titles for their roles in the film as a heterosexual rodeo rat (McConaughey) and a transgender drug addict (Leto) united by HIV. "Thirty-six million people who have lost the battle to AIDS and to those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you," said Leto in his acceptance speech. Cate Blanchett, the Australian best-actress winner for her bitter, ruined socialite in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," used her acceptance speech to trumpet the need to make films with female leads — films like her own and like "Gravity," starring Sandra Bullock. A study by analyst Kevin B. Lee found that last year's lead actors averaged 100 minutes on screen, but lead actresses averaged only 49 minutes. "To the audiences who went to see the film and perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women at the center, are niche experiences, they are not," said Blanchett. "Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money." "12 Years a Slave" also won awards in the writing and acting categories. John Ridley picked up the trophy for best adapted screenplay, which was based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup. The screenwriter is only the second black writer (Geoffrey Fletcher won for "Precious" in 2009) to win in the category. Backstage, the "12 Years" team mentioned their efforts to include Solomon Northup's memoir as part of high school study. The National School Boards Association announced in February that the book is now mandatory reading. "It's important that we understand our history so we can understand who we were and who we are now and most importantly who we're going to be," said Brad Pitt, who produced "12 Years." ''We hope that this film remains a gentle reminder that we're all equal. We all want the same: Dignity and opportunity." Lupita Nyong'o was a first-time Oscar winner for her supporting role as field slave Patsey in "12 Years." ''I'm a little dazed," said Nyong'o backstage. "I can't believe this is real life." Nyong'o is the sixth black actress to win in the supporting actress category — and the first major Oscar win for Kenya (the president of Kenya congratulated her in a tweet) — following Hattie McDaniel ("Gone with the Wind"), Whoopi Goldberg ("Ghost"), Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls"), Mo'Nique ("Precious") and Octavia Spencer ("The Help"). Foreign language film nominees included "The Missing Picture," the first-ever Oscar-nominated film from Cambodia. "The Act of Killing," a dark look into the mass killings of communists and ethnic Chinese in Indonesia in the 1960s, was nominated for best documentary feature. In her second time hosting, openly gay Ellen DeGeneres sought to make celebrities more like plain folk. She passed out slices of pizza to the front rows at the Dolby Theatre, then passed the hat to pay for it. She also tweeted a "selfie" with such stars as Meryl Streep, Julie Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Pitt and Nyong'o. The shot "made history," DeGeneres told the audience later. It's since been retweeted more than 2 million times. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jessica Herndon on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/SomeKind Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Perhaps atoning for past sins, Hollywood named the brutal, unshrinking historical drama "12 Years a Slave" best picture at the 86th annual Academy Awards. Steve McQueen's slavery odyssey, based on Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir, has been hailed as a landmark corrective to the movie industry's virtual blindness to slavery, instead creating whiter tales like 1940 best-picture winner "Gone With the Wind." ''12 Years a Slave" is the first best-picture winner directed by a black filmmaker. "Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live," said McQueen, who dedicated the honor to those, past and present, who have endured slavery. "This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup." The normally reserved McQueen promptly bounced up and down on stage, later matter-of-factly explaining his joy physically took over: "So, Van Halen. Jump." A year after celebrating Ben Affleck's "Argo" over Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opted for stark realism over more the plainly entertaining candidates: the 3-D space marvel "Gravity" and the starry 1970s caper "American Hustle." Those two films came in as the leading nominee getters. David O. Russell's "American Hustle" went home empty-handed, but "Gravity" triumphed as the night's top award-winner. Cleaning up in technical categories like cinematography and visual effects, it earned seven Oscars including best director for Alfonso Cuaron. The Mexican filmmaker is the category's first Latino winner. "It was a transformative experience," said Cuaron, who spent some five years making the film and developing its visual effects. "For a lot of people, that transformation was wisdom. For me, it was the color of my hair." To his star Sandra Bullock, the sole person on screen for much of the lost-in-space drama, he said: "Sandra, you are 'Gravity.'" But history belonged to "12 Years a Slave," a modestly budgeted drama produced by Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B, that has made $50 million worldwide — a far cry from the more than $700 million "Gravity" has hauled in. Ellen DeGeneres, in a nimble second stint as host that seemed designed as an antidote to the crude humor of Seth MacFarlane last year, summarized the academy's options in her opening monologue: "Possibility number one: '12 Years a Slave' wins best picture. Possibility number two: You're all racists." DeGeneres presided over a smooth if safe ceremony, punctuated by politics, pizza and photo-bombing. Freely circulating in the crowd, she had pizza delivered, appealing to Harvey Weinstein to pitch in, and gathered stars to snap a selfie she hoped would be a record-setter on Twitter. (It was: Long before midnight, the photo had been retweeted more than 2 million times and momentarily crashed Twitter.) One participant, Meryl Streep, giddily exclaimed: "I've never tweeted before!" But in celebrating a movie year roundly considered an exceptionally deep one, the Oscars fittingly spread the awards around. The starved stars of the Texas AIDS drama "Dallas Buyers Club" were feted: Matthew McConaughey for best actor and Jared Leto for best supporting actor. McConaughey's award capped a startling career turnaround, a conscious redirection by the actor to tack away from the romantic comedies he regularly starred in, and move toward more challenging films. "It sort of feels like a culmination," he said backstage. Leto passed around his Oscar to members of the press backstage, urging them to "fondle" it. The long-haired actor, who has devoted himself in recent years to his rock band 30 Seconds to Mars, gravely vowed: "I will revel tonight." Cate Blanchett took best actress for her fallen socialite in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," her second Oscar. Accepting the award, she challenged Hollywood not to think of films starring women as "niche experiences": "The world is round, people!" she declared to hearty applause. Draped in Nairobi blue, Lupita Nyong'o — the Cinderella of the awards season — won best supporting actress for her indelible impression as the tortured slave Patsey. It's the feature film debut for the 31-year-old actress. "It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's, and so I want to salute the spirit of Patsy for her guidance," said Nyong'o. She also thanked director Steve McQueen: "I'm certain that the dead are standing about you and they are watching and they are grateful, and so am I." John Ridley won best adapted screenplay for "12 Years a Slave," shifting praise to Northup: "Those are his words. That is his life." Spike Jonze took best original screenplay for his futuristic romance "Her," the category Russell had the best chance of winning. Though the ceremony lacked a big opening number, it had a steady musical beat to it. To a standing ovation, Bono and U2 played an acoustic version of "Ordinary Love," from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." Pharrell Williams had Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio dancing in the aisles with "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2." Pink was cheered for her rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," part of a 75th anniversary tribute to "The Wizard of Oz." And Bette Midler sang — what else? — "Wind Beneath My Wing" for the in memoriam segment — an especially heartfelt one, considering the deaths of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harold Ramis, James Gandolfini and others. Best documentary went to the crowd-pleasing backup singer ode "20 Feet From Stardom." One of its stars, Darlene Love, accepted the award singing the gospel tune "His Eye Is on the Sparrow": "I sing because I'm happy/ I sing because I'm free." Disney's global hit "Frozen" won best animated film, marking — somewhat remarkably — the studio's first win in the 14 years of the best animated feature category. (Pixar, which Disney owns, has regularly dominated.) The film's hit single, "Let It Go," won best original song. "We're all just trying to make films that touch people," said co-director Chris Buck backstage. "Once in a while, you get lucky." Though the Oscar ceremony is usually a glitzy bubble separate from real-world happenings, international events were immediately referenced. In his acceptance speech, Leto addressed people in Ukraine and Venezuela. "We are here and as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we're thinking of you," said Leto. Russian state-owned broadcaster Channel One Russia said it would not broadcast the Oscars live because of the necessity for news coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. It will instead transmit the Oscars early Tuesday morning, local time. Venezuelan protesters, via social media, urged Oscar winners to bring attention to their plight. Anti-government protests have roiled the country in recent weeks. Italy's "The Great Beauty" won the Oscar for best foreign language film. In accepting the award for his rumination on life and Rome's decadence, director Paolo Sorrentino thanked his heroes, including Federico Fellini, Martin Scorsese and soccer star Diego Maradona. In her opening, DeGeneres gently mocked Hollywood's insularity, referring to the headlines that have swamped the Los Angeles area lately with a slightly less serious news event. "It has been raining," said DeGeneres. "We're fine. Thank you for your prayers." ABC, which aired the ceremony, hoped the drama of a razor-thin best-picture race would be enough to entice viewers. The show last year drew an audience of 40.3 million, up from 39.3 million the year before when the silent-film ode "The Artist" won best picture. There was a sense of deja vu Sunday. As she hit the red carpet, "American Hustle" star Jennifer Lawrence briefly collapsed in a heap of laughter, just as she tripped ascending the stairs last year to accept best actress for "Silver Linings Playbook." "If you win tonight," said DeGeneres, "I think we should bring you the Oscar." No delivery was needed, as the night belonged to "12 Years a Slave." ____ Associated Press writers Anthony McCartney, Lynn Elber, Ryan Nakashima, Andrew Dalton, Nekesa Mumbi Moody and E.J.Tamara contributed to this report. ____ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. 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The 86th Academy Awards show kicked off Sunday, as Hollywood's finest gathered after one of the fiercest Oscars races in years, with no clear frontrunner for the coveted best picture prize.Harrowing historical drama "12 Years a Slave," 3D space thriller "Gravity" and 1970s crime caper "American Hustle" are hotly tipped to take the top prizes at the Oscars, the climax of Tinseltown's annual awards season. Host Ellen DeGeneres opened with a monologue making fun of the storms which hit California on the eve of the Oscars, threatening to rain on the pre-show red carpet parade. "It's been a tough couple of days for us here. It has been raining," she said, addressing the global audience. "We're fine. Thank you for your prayers," she dead-panned. She then made fun of Jennifer Lawrence, who famously fell while walking up to the stage last year to collect her best actress Oscar -- and stumbled again as she arrived for Sunday's show. "If you win tonight, I think we should bring you the Oscar," DeGeneres said. While the best picture winner is difficult to forecast, other categories could be easier to predict. Jared Leto fulfilled expectations by taking the first prize of the night, the best supporting actor Oscar for his heart-wrenching portrayal of a transgender woman suffering from AIDS in "Dallas Buyers Club." Cate Blanchett is favorite for best actress for her turn in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," while Matthew McConaughey is widely fancied for best actor for his role as homophobic HIV-positive AIDS activist Ron Woodroof in "Dallas Buyers Club." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.