Saturday Dec 20, 2014

Protesters in contempt of court for anti-whaling campaign

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers were found in contempt of court Friday for continuing their relentless campaign to disrupt the annual whale hunt off the waters of Antarctica. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of...
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TV

Protesters in contempt of court for anti-whaling campaign
Saturday Dec 20, 2014
Protesters in contempt of court for anti-whaling campaign

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers were found in contempt of court Friday for continuing their relentless campaign to disrupt the annual whale hunt off the waters of Antarctica. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a commissioner to determine how much Paul Watson and members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society he founded owe Japanese whalers for lawyer fees, damage to their ships and for violating the court order to stop their dangerous protests. The Japanese whalers are demanding $2 million in addition to their attorney fees and damage and cost to their ships for warding off the protests. The environmentalists' exploits have been documented on the long-running Animal Planet reality TV series "Whale Wars." Calls and emails to the Sea Shepherd U.S. office and its lawyer were not returned Friday. In 2012, the court ordered Sea Shepherd to stay at least 500 feet from Japanese whalers and to halt dangerous activities like attempting to ram the whalers and throwing smoke bombs and bottles of acid at their ships. The crews of Sea Shepherd ships also drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders, launch flares with hooks, and point high-powered lasers at the whalers to annoy crew members. The Japanese whalers filed a lawsuit in Seattle in 2011 seeking a court order halting the Sea Shepherd's campaign. The 9th Circuit in December 2012 ordered the Sea Shepherd's to stop harassing the Japanese fleet and for the group's four ships to stay at least 500 feet from the whalers. Watson then transferred all of Sea Shepherd's U.S. assets to foreign entities controlled by the group. Sea Shepherd has organizations in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Watson also stepped down from the board of directors of Sea Shepherd organizations in the U.S. and Australia. Sea Shepherd Australia took over management of "operation zero tolerance," the group's annual harassment campaign of the whalers in the Southern Ocean. Watson also resigned as captain of the Sea Shepherd's flagship the "Steve Irwin," but remained aboard as an "observer." In February 2013, the 9th Circuit appointed a commissioner to investigate whether Watson the Sea Shepherd should be held in contempt. The commissioner concluded on Jan. 31 that the Sea Shepherd wasn't in violation of the court order because the harassment campaign was being managed outside the United States. The same month, the group's "Steve Irwin" vessel with Watson aboard collided with a Japanese whaler. On Friday, a three-judge panel rejected the commissioner's findings. The 9th Circuit ruled that the transfer of assets and control of the Sea Shepherd to Australia and other countries didn't change its 2012 order to the group to cease its dangerous activities. Contrary to the commissioner's conclusions, the 9th Circuit said Watson and the Sea Shepherd's U.S. affiliate could be found liable for aiding and abetting the organization's foreign offices to violate the court's injunction. "Sea Shepherd U.S. is liable because it intentionally furnished cash payments, and a vessel and equipment worth millions of dollars, to individuals and entities it knew would likely violate the injunction," Judge Milan Smith wrote for the unanimous panel. The court ordered the case sent back to the commissioner to determine how much the whalers are owed. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

YouTube most popular: Mysterious Floating Orb, Minecraft and too much sitting down
Friday Dec 19, 2014
YouTube most popular: Mysterious Floating Orb, Minecraft and too much sitting down

A mysterious floating orb, a tour around the updated world of Minecraft for Xbox and a tutorial on the health risks of sitting down too much. Here are YouTube's top five Most Popular entertainment and lifestyle videos as recorded on Friday, December 19 at 4:00pm GMT.The Mysterious Floating Orb First published: December 17Total views: 2.7 millionHow is this mysterious orb floating in mid-air? Oh, wait...youtu.be/Ib2Vl7JEjfc Minecraft Xbox - Title Update 19 - A Lovely Surprise First published: December 18Total views: 840,180This special video on the Xbox 360 edition of Minecraft shows off a cool new surprise that has been added in to the new tutorial world.youtu.be/xuXjFPCAgII Are You Sitting Too Much? First published: December 18Total views: 421,967Modern life requires us to do a lot of sitting. But what effect is it having on your health? This video explains it all. youtu.be/uiKg6JfS658 Jenny Slate Sings "Landslide" As Marcel The Shell - CONAN on TBS First published: December 18Total views: 628,331Fans of "Marcel the Shell" will love this clip of the official voice, Jenny Slate, singing "Landslide" in the style of the animated character on Conan O'Brien's show. youtu.be/_jmAOoIW7YM Amazon Prime Now - One Hour DeliveryFirst published: December 18Total views: 184,871Amazon Prime has unveiled its one-hour delivery service in selected areas of Manhattan. Check it out here. youtu.be/ODLp4ZGQwzk Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Sponsors pay big bucks to join college bowl games
Friday Dec 19, 2014
Sponsors pay big bucks to join college bowl games

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Ready! Set! Hut, hut: This holiday season's blitz of college football bowl games will feature a reshuffled roster of corporate sponsors spending millions to thrust their names in front of fans watching on TV and in the stands. The bowls haven't disclosed their asking prices, but sports marketing experts contacted by The Associated Press estimated the annual cost for the top-tier games ranges from $25 million to more than $30 million. That's up from $16 million to $20 million previously. The substantial price increase probably prompted sponsors to reassess the value of the bowl affiliations, says Kevin Adler, chief engagement officer for sports marketing specialist Engage Marketing in Chicago. Twelve of the 33 bowls returning from last year have sold their naming rights to new sponsors, including several that defected from one game to another. Five other bowls are making their debuts during this holiday season, and three of them — the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl and the Ford Motor Quick Lane Bowl — are kicking off with corporate affiliations. This year's list of new sponsors include: — Century-old tire maker Goodyear, which bought the naming rights to the Cotton Bowl in a promotional expansion beyond its well-traveled blimp. — Duck Commander, a Louisiana company sponsoring the Independence Bowl in its home state to introduce itself to people who don't watch the "Duck Dynasty" reality-TV series. — BitPay, a 3-year-old startup that is using the St. Petersburg Bowl in Florida to enlighten a broader audience about bitcoin, a digital currency that so far has appealed mostly to computer geeks, speculators and crooks trying to conceal their financial footprints. "We are hoping the audience watching the game at home, in sports bars, airports and hotels is going to be Googling to find out more about bitcoin," says Stephanie Wargo, BitPay's vice president of marketing. More than 100 merchants in a "Fan Zone" located near the St. Petersburg Bowl also will be accepting bitcoins from customers leading up to the Dec. 26 game. BitPay, a bitcoin processing company, made a three-year commitment to take over the St. Petersburg Bowl naming rights from Beef O'Brady's, which ended a five-year affiliation with the game. Evolving sponsors have become part of the college bowl tradition since the games began auctioning off their naming rights several decades ago to help cover their rising costs. The Holiday Bowl in San Diego has gone through seven sponsors since its 1978 inception (National University, a San Diego college, is returning for its second consecutive season as the game's main sponsor). While some college football fans still lament the commercialization of the sport, bowl directors say the games couldn't go on without the naming rights fees to supplement the revenue from ticket sales and TV broadcasting rights. "It's critical, you can't survive without a sponsor," says Gary Cavalli, executive director of the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, California. After selling its naming rights to two different corporate sponsors during the first 11 years of its existence in San Francisco, Cavalli's bowl played last year without a business backer — and lost more than $100,000 despite cost-cutting efforts. The bowl is in better shape after Foster Farms decided that attaching its name to a college bowl would be a good way to sell more chicken wings and other frozen food as the Livingston, California, company expands eastward. "We know that Americans love football, and we know Americans love to eat chicken while they are watching football, so it's a perfect fit from that perspective," says Bryan Reese, Foster Farms' senior vice president of sales, marketing and research and development. Only four of the 38 bowl games scheduled to be played from Saturday through Jan. 4 weren't able to sell their naming rights. Two of those, the Hawaii Bowl and the Birmingham Bowl, lost their sponsors from last year. The two others, the Boca Raton Bowl and Miami Beach Bowl, are being played for the first time this year. This year's revised line-up of bowl names stems in part from college football's new system for determining a national champion. Four teams are now selected to compete in playoffs that begin with a semifinal round in two bowl games played on New Year's Day. The semifinals will be played at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl this season, then rotate among the Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl. The added drama of a playoff for the national championship prompted ESPN to pay more for the broadcasting rights to the games, resulting in an increase in the price for the naming rights. Tostito's said it ended its 18-year relationship with the Fiesta Bowl after deciding it wanted "to steer its marketing and growth strategies differently." Without elaborating, Discover Financial traced its decision to stop sponsoring the Orange Bowl to the new playoff system. Fiesta sold its naming rights to TV maker Vizio, which had previously backed the Rose Bowl, while the Orange Bowl lured Capital One away from the Citrus Bowl. Northwestern Mutual replaced Vizio at the Rose Bowl and Goodyear rolled into the Cotton Bowl after AT&T backed out from its naming rights deal. With few exceptions, the bowls played before New Year's typically sell their naming rights for $500,000 to $1 million annually. "The cost is not exorbitant, so you get a pretty good bang for the buck," says Jim Andrews, a senior vice president the sponsorship and consulting firm, IEG. "You don't get blockbuster (TV) audiences, but those who do watch are pretty committed." Nevertheless, the money spent on bowl naming rights can turn out to be a waste if the buyer doesn't have a concrete marketing plan. "The first time someone in a company says, 'Hey, we should sponsor a bowl game,' there should be someone in the room who asks why," Engage Marketing's Adler says. "If no one pauses to answer the why question, those deals won't be long-term." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Sarah Silverman to headline an HBO comedy pilot
Friday Dec 19, 2014
Sarah Silverman to headline an HBO comedy pilot

The comedian known for her satirical stand-up will produce and star in a pilot in development at HBO.Penned by British screenwriter Lucy Prebble, who created "Secret Diary of a Call Girl," the untitled comedy will feature Sarah Silverman as a pathologically honest woman going through a mid-life crisis. Silverman has appeared on HBO before on the series "People in New Jersey," which the network canceled in 2013. If this new pilot leads to a series, it will give the actress her first starring small screen role after "The Sarah Silverman Program," which ended in 2010. She is still a familiar face on TV, however, thanks to appearances on "Louie," "Maron," "Masters of Sex" and "Bob's Burgers" among others. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Lennon & Maisy working on picture book
Friday Dec 19, 2014
Lennon & Maisy working on picture book

NEW YORK (AP) — Lennon & Maisy, the Canadian-born music and acting team, will soon be Lennon & Maisy the co-authors. HarperCollins Publishers announced Friday that the young Stella sisters, stars of the TV series "Nashville," are working on the picture book "In the Waves." Based on their song of the same name, "In the Waves" tells of boogie boards and homemade lemonade and a few unexpected adventures. The illustrations will be by Steve Bjorkman. The book is scheduled to come out April 28. Hit songs by Lennon & Maisy include "Ho Hey" and "A Life That's Good." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Movies

'Star Wars' video gives a glimpse behind the scenes
Friday Dec 19, 2014
'Star Wars' video gives a glimpse behind the scenes

A video thanking fans for donating to a UNICEF program provides a look behind the scenes of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."The fundraising drive led to donations of over $4.26m, with new "Star Wars" owner Disney pitching in with a further $1m for UNICEF's Innovation Labs and Programs initiative. Though the video is stuffed full of scaffolding, set lighting and mysterious backlot constructions, there are appearances from Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, as well as strains of the film's orchestrated soundtrack. Principal shooting on Episode VII of the "Star Wars" saga concluded early on in November 2014, in advance of a December 2015 cinematic release. Abrams' previous two videos for the Force for Change appeal brought with them shots of a battered jet fighter and part of what appeared to be set dressing for a sandy tent city, complete with a humanoid, turkey-like alien. Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) are returning from the original trilogy, alongside Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker, while John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley and Max von Sydow are among the inductees as the mantle passes to a new cohort of leading actors and actresses. Video: "Thank you from the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens!" - youtu.be/48dGX8zmK4I Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Oscar nominee Wallis shines in 'Annie' remake
Friday Dec 19, 2014
Oscar nominee Wallis shines in 'Annie' remake

Oscar-nominated child star Quvenzhane Wallis brings her trademark zest to a new big-screen version of the classic Broadway musical "Annie," retold for the social media era.The film -- incidentally among the Sony productions leaked online by hackers -- tells the story of the young heroine who, while striving to find her real parents to save her from her cruel carer Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), wins the heart of cellphone tycoon Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx). The remake, directed by Will Gluck and set in present-day New York rather than the Great Depression of the 1930s, is due out this week in the United States and 10 other territories, and much of the rest of the world next week. The characters and upbeat message are the same as in the musical, which was first made into a movie in 1982. But 11-year-old African-American Wallis and the rest of the cast bring a new perspective to the story. "The characters, certainly the story, and the message is still the same, the optimism is still the same," Diaz told AFP. "The cast is so diverse, that allows more children in the world to relate to it, to see themselves reflected back from the screen," she added. "I think we got to play totally new characters in a world that kids can relate to and they understand... there is social media they can relate to," she said. Diaz sang for the first time in a movie -- an experience about which she was apprehensive. But in the end, she said: "I loved that I got the opportunity to take on something that was really a very scary thing for me." - Talented Wallis - The musical's songs have also been updated with the pop-style production of veteran rapper Jay-Z and musician-actor Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett, among others. Diaz and Foxx said it was a pleasure working with Wallis, who was nominated for an Oscar for her startlingly mature performance in 2012's "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Wallis's "Annie" role has already secured her a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a musical or comedy. "She is very talented. You forget she is only 11 years old," said Foxx, who said he based his own character on impresario, rapper and producer Sean "P Diddy" Combs. "To watch her bloom and grow into this character, it was fun," he said. As well as using social media intelligently -- for example in a climactic scene which uses cellphone photos -- the movie also broaches the dangers which such media bring with them. "Miss Hannigan represents the epidemic that is happening in our society today where people, especially young kids, are putting their self-worth on how many likes they get or how many followers they have on social media," said Diaz. - Helping to heal - The actors also hope the film will help calm things down after unrest triggered by a series of killings of African Americans by white police officers in the US, notably in New York and Ferguson, Missouri. "Hopefully it is just part of the overall healing," said Foxx. The release of "Annie" also comes amid the hacking crisis surrounding Sony Pictures. The film was one of a handful of Sony productions leaked online by cyber-attackers who are protesting the release of a film about a fictional CIA assassination attempt on North Korea's Kim Jong-Un. "It is a great thing to be able to go and see a movie in a theater, specially this kind of movie, in a theater on a big screen," Diaz said. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

New York Fashion Week booted out of Lincoln Center
Thursday Dec 18, 2014
New York Fashion Week booted out of Lincoln Center

NEW YORK (AP) — C'est la vie, fashionistas. The city of New York and Lincoln Center are evicting the invitation-only, twice-yearly Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in a court spat over destroyed trees and displaced park benches. A judge Friday approved a pretrial settlement in a complaint brought by community groups. They objected to the onslaught of the fashion industry at Damrosch Park, a 2.4-acre stretch on the Upper West Side that is adjacent to and managed by Lincoln Center. The groups argued the insular nature of the fashion shows that draw top designers and hundreds of buyers, editors and journalists violate laws governing public use of the land. Each February and September, the stiletto-heeled hordes cram the Lincoln Center complex for eight days of runway shows and presentations held in a large temporary tent. "We're going to get flowers and benches and there's going to be a park again," said Olive Freud, president of the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, one of the groups that filed the complaint in May 2013. "We're all very happy here." The upcoming February Fashion Week will be held at Lincoln Center as scheduled but must find new digs after that. Andrew Serrano, a spokesman for IMG Fashion, which owns and produces Fashion Week, confirmed the settlement Thursday. The settlement does not include any admission of wrongdoing or cover other private events held on the land, including the Big Apple Circus, a ticket event that is open to the public. Fashion Week for years had been held in Bryant Park. In search of more space, it moved to the Lincoln Center area in 2010. Freud said Damrosch had been public park since 1969. "We objected to the whole idea of demolishing a park and of throwing the public out and of making this a place for raising money," she said. "Private people aren't supposed to be making money on it." Many designers had tired of the Lincoln Center location's box-like spaces and hurried turnaround between shows, choosing edgier, more atmospheric spaces in downtown Manhattan and even Brooklyn that allow greater creativity in how shows are presented. Of more than 300 shows, less than 100 were held at Lincoln Center in recent years, with more leaving each time Fashion Week rolled around. Serrano said IMG had already been actively looking for a new Fashion Week home to give "designers and partners the best possible environment to share their creative visions." Susan Scafidi, a founder and academic director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, said the legal doctrine cited in the case is based on a principle about as old as fashion itself. "The lawsuit rested on the public trust doctrine, a legal principle dating back to Roman times that requires the state to protect certain areas of land against privatization and to preserve public access," she said. "Even though Lincoln Center manages Damrosch Park on behalf of the city, it's still public land. New York Fashion Week is all about who's 'in' and who's 'out' — and when it comes to the tents, the general public is definitely 'out.'" ___ Follow Leanne Italie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/litalie Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'Archiculture' film makes its online debut
Thursday Dec 18, 2014
'Archiculture' film makes its online debut

"Archiculture," a documentary highlighting the various debates on the impact of architecture on our society, has finally made its world premiere online.The film, which examines the current and future state of studio-based design education, follows a group of young design students through their final semester at Pratt Institute in New York City. The students' interactions and reactions help illustrate the challenges of being a young aspiring designer in today's world. It also features interviews with industry experts such as Pritzker Prize winner Shigeru Ban, musician and artist David Byrne and architect Thom Mayne, creating a crucial dialog around the key issues and the strengths and perils of architectural education. Throughout the film, which was released to the public this week via YouTube, we see the friendships, culture and habits that result from peer-to-peer learning. From the dedicated all-nighters to the ubiquitous coffee-runs, these students spend day and night together struggling through the same set of questions and problems in their shared studio environment. Addressing the recent trend for training "star" architects, the film asks how we should go about training the next generation of designers. To watch "Archiculture", see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62r3UPrOS9k Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Musical of 'School of Rock' heading to Broadway
Thursday Dec 18, 2014
Musical of 'School of Rock' heading to Broadway

NEW YORK (AP) — Rockers, rejoice: The Broadway musical "Rock of Ages" may be going, but get ready for "The School of Rock." Producers said Thursday that a musical version of the 2003 film starring Jack Black will start in early November, with an opening set for Dec. 6. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Glenn Slater will write new music to be added to some songs featured in the movie. The story — about a rocker who poses as a substitute teacher at a tony prep school — will be adapted by Julian Fellowes, who created "Downton Abbey," as well as writing the stage musical of "Mary Poppins" and the film "Gosford Park," and be directed by Laurence Connor, who co-directed the latest "Les Miserables" on Broadway and "Miss Saigon" in London. JoAnn M. Hunter will handle choreography. Casting will begin in January in cities across the country, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The show will take over the massive Winter Garden, which recently housed "Rocky," another musical based on a film that underperformed. The stage version of "The School of Rock" will stay close to the plot of the film, in which a wannabe rocker enlists his fifth-graders to form a rock group and conquer the Battle of the Bands. The film featured songs by The Doors, Cream, The Black Keys and Led Zeppelin. Slater co-created Disney's 2010 hit film "Tangled" and supplied lyrics for "Sister Act" on Broadway. Lloyd Webber is the producer-composer behind such massive hits as "Cats," ''Jesus Christ Superstar" and "The Phantom of the Opera." ___ Online: http://www.SchoolOfRockTheMusical.com Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

9 films advance in Oscars shortlist for best foreign film
Friday Dec 19, 2014
9 films advance in Oscars shortlist for best foreign film

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The list of contenders for best foreign film got a bit smaller Friday as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced the nine features that will advance to the next round of voting. Included are Ruben Ostlund's patriarchy-skewering avalanche film "Force Majeure" from Sweden, Andrey Zvyagintsev's "Leviathan," about a property dispute in a small Russian costal town, and Pawel Pawlikowski's Polish drama "Ida," about a young woman with dreams of being a nun who discovers some dark secrets in her family's past. All recently received Golden Globe nominations, too. Damian Szifron's black ensemble comedy "Wild Tales," from Argentina, also made the shortlist, as did Estonia's "Tangerines," the Golden Globe-nominated film about a man caring for a wounded soldier. Other films on the shortlist include Abderrahmane Sissako's "Timbuktu," the first Mauritanian film ever submitted, Georgia's "Corn Island," the Netherlands' "Accused," and Venezuela's "The Liberator." Missing from the list were a few high profile films, such as the drama "Two Days, One Night," from the Dardennes brothers. Star Marion Cotillard has been singled out for her performance as a young mother in a desperate situation in a number of recent critics' awards. Eighty three countries submitted films for consideration. Xavier Dolan's critically beloved coming-of-age drama "Mommy" also failed to make the cut. Of the 83 countries who submitted entries, six were chosen by a committee of several hundred Academy members based in Los Angeles who were tasked with screening the original submissions. Three additional features were then added by the Academy's Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee. The five final nominees will be selected from this group of films and announced, along with the other Academy Award nominees, live on Jan. 15. Winners will be presented at the 87th Academy Awards on Feb. 22. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The AP's top 10 movies of the year
Friday Dec 19, 2014
The AP's top 10 movies of the year

The top 10 films of 2014, according to AP Film Writer Jake Coyle: 1. "Ida" — Where did this perfect little gem come from? Its director, Pawel Pawlikowski, wasn't previously a major name in international cinema. Yet at a time when most filmmakers can't keep their movies under two hours, Pawlikowksi plunges into Polish history and back again in less than 90 minutes. Yes, an austere, black-and-white Polish film doesn't sound like the most appetizing stuff. But it's a hauntingly beautiful film, and thanks to the tremendous Agata Kulesza, there's humor here, too. 2. "Boyhood" — One of the most memorable parts of film in 2014 was seeing the movies play with time, capturing it in elapse ("Boyhood"), bending its particles ("Interstellar") and wryly gazing at its courses across centuries (Jim Jarmusch's excellent "Only Lovers Left Alive"). Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-the-making "Boyhood" is a landmark, for sure. But for a much-lauded masterpiece, it's incredibly humble, warm and humanistic. 3. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" — Wes Anderson's heroes are, like him, devotees of brilliant escapes: the beachside oasis of "Moonrise Kingdom," the play land of Rushmore Academy, the pre-war elegance of this film's Eastern European resort. Dreams are inevitably punctured by outside forces, and a new, compromised life must be found — some melancholy combination of fantasy and reality. Usually, Bill Murray's there somewhere. 4. "Mr. Turner" and "Birdman" — In a year rich with colorful portraits of artists (the obsessive, rigorous drummer of "Whiplash," the arrogant, oblivious author of "Listen Up Philip") these two most stood out: "Birdman" for its blisteringly kinetic flow and the raging ego of Michael Keaton's actor; and the masterful "Mr. Turner" for its total lack of pretention and Timothy Spall's gruff, grunting painter. 5. "Interstellar" — Admittedly, I'm a sucker when it comes to stories about dads and daughters. Many critics poked holes in the imperfectly stitched cosmic fabric of Christopher Nolan's space epic, but I found the time-traveling epic — science fiction build on science fact — grandly moving. So I'm a sentimentalist who digs space. Sue me. 6. "Inherent Vice" — Obviously, I'm also an easy mark for a glorious mess. Paul Thomas Anderson's adaption of Thomas Pynchon is probably a noble failure in an impossible task. But there's no movie I'm keener to return to, to again feel its electric songs and its scruffy sadness. 7. "The Immigrant" — A number of films in 2014 weren't shy about their Big American Themes. Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" was the most mesmerizing; JC Chandor's "A Most Violent Year" the most atmospheric; and Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper" the tautest. But James Gray's period Ellis Island tale was the most majestic. The film's powerful last shot is an absolute knock out. 8. "Under the Skin" — Equal parts beautiful and terrifying in its alien mystery, Jonathan Glazer's extraterrestrial shocker (with Scarlett Johansson as the other-worldly being that touches down in, of all places, Glasgow) made for a searing cinematic experience of sound and imagery. 9. "Leviathan" — There's a stout Russian muscularity to Andrey Zvyagintsev's bleak, Job-like tale of corruption in a coastal Russian town. A framed portrait of Vladimir Putin above the police chief looms large. 10. "Starred Up" — Four walls, a father and a son, plus a whole lot of violent rage. The ingredients of this British prison drama are simple, but its force is ferocious. In one of the more remarkable father-son dramas you'll see (a young punk gets locked up in the same facility as his dad), Jack O'Connell (the star of Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken") dramatically arrives. But the movie's also a reminder that there's no more riveting actor in movies than Ben Mendelsohn, who plays the father. Also just as good: "Two Days, One Night," ''The Babadook," ''Selma," ''Ernest & Celestine," ''Locke," ''Citizenfour," ''Stranger By the Lake," ''Dear White People," ''Timbuktu," ''The Trip to Italy" and "Neighbors." ___ The top 10 films of 2014, according to AP National Writer Jocelyn Noveck: 1. "Boyhood" — This movie just pulsates with the feeling that it's something utterly unique — something rare and exciting. It's not just that director Richard Linklater managed to shoot it over 12 years, creating an astonishingly fluid view of a boy's life; It's how the film makes us FEEL. By the end, we know Mason (the sensitive Ellar Coltrane) so well, it feels wrong to leave him. Shouldn't he be coming home with us? 2. "Birdman" — Absolutely bracing in its verve and inventiveness, Alejandro G. Inarritu's meditation on fame, relevance and self-worth is a marvel. Michael Keaton is raw and vulnerable as an aging actor trying to exorcise his superhero past; Edward Norton is superb as a charismatic jerk. The cherry on top: Emmanuel Lubezki's stunningly seamless camera work. 3. "Selma" — Talk about a movie that comes just when the country needs it. A beautifully restrained performance by David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. anchors this stirring account of events surrounding the famous march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery. Director Ava DuVernay is equally adept at depicting intimate moments — like a testy Oval Office exchange between LBJ and George Wallace — as she is conveying the sweep of a historic movement. 4. "Ida" — Pawel Pawlikowski's film is pure, austere, and powerful — exactly how one might describe its young star, Agata Trzebuchowska, who plays an orphaned novice about to take her vows when she learns she has an aunt, her only living relative. Ida's subsequent journey, in which she explores Poland's dark wartime past to discover both who she is and who she wants to be, is mesmerizing. 5. "Mr. Turner" — Timothy Spall studied painting, drawing, even Greek and Roman architecture — all to play the great landscape painter J.M.W. Turner. And it shows: The wonderfully gruff Spall doesn't seem to act in this movie as much as inhabit it, messily and fully. Mike Leigh's gorgeously detailed biopic doesn't fall into typical formula — and the visuals do Turner proud. 6. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" — Wes Anderson, we surrender — to your whimsy and singular imagination. This movie is a visual delight; it's also a madcap caper and, a layer deeper, a more serious look at a dying way of life in Europe. Mostly, it's a perfect vehicle for Ralph Fiennes, as a wonderfully pompous concierge, to display his lesser-known comic skills. 7. "Whiplash" — None of us would ever want to be in a classroom with the abusively demanding jazz instructor played by J.K. Simmons — it's hard enough to be in the movie theater. But boy, Simmons grabs the role by the throat, thrillingly. Miles Teller is excellent, too, as the driven student who accepts this abuse, all to be a jazz drummer. 8. "The Theory of Everything," ''The Imitation Game" — Both are biopics that feel somewhat formulaic, but both feature lead performances that must be seen. Eddie Redmayne is remarkably effective as Stephen Hawking, eventually using only his eyes and a crooked smile to express what's inside a blazing mind. Benedict Cumberbatch's nervous energy is perfect for the role of Alan Turing, the mathematician who cracked the Germans' Enigma code. 9. "Foxcatcher" — Grim and unrelenting but expertly rendered, this real-life tale of the Olympic wrestling Schultz brothers and benefactor John DuPont is worth seeing both for the shocking story and the acting. Steve Carell makes a striking physical transformation, but it's his reedy voice that'll really creep you out. Mark Ruffalo, the more nurturing brother, and Channing Tatum, the more troubled, are just as compelling. 10. "Still Alice," ''Get on Up" — Two more films to mention because of stellar central performances: As an early-onset Alzheimer's patient, Julianne Moore is sensitive, warm, heartbreaking — and deserves all the awards buzz she's getting. In "Get On Up," Chadwick Boseman is truly galvanizing as James Brown — and deserves way more buzz than HE'S getting. Honorable mentions: "Only Lovers Left Alive," ''Locke," ''Interstellar," ''American Sniper," ''Into the Woods." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Studio head, producer apologize for Jolie, Obama remarks
Thursday Dec 18, 2014
Studio head, producer apologize for Jolie, Obama remarks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin apologized Thursday for calling Angelina Jolie a "spoiled brat" and making racially offensive jokes about President Obama's presumed taste in movies. The comments were made in a series of leaked email exchanges between Rudin and Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal, who also apologized Thursday. It was yet another embarrassment in the ongoing Sony hacking scandal, in which highly sensitive material is being leaked almost daily. "Private emails between friends and colleagues written in haste and without much thought or sensitivity, even when the content of them is meant to be in jest, can result in offense where none was intended," Rudin said in a statement to industry site Deadline after the Obama remarks surfaced. "I made a series of remarks that were meant only to be funny, but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive — and not funny at all. To anybody I've offended, I'm profoundly and deeply sorry, and I regret and apologize for any injury they might have caused." In a statement released soon after by Sony, Pascal called her comments "insensitive and inappropriate" and "not an accurate reflection of who I am." She said that although the emails were "stolen," she accepts "full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended." In a tweet later Thursday, "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes said the comments were "racist," not merely "racially insensitive." This latest shocker in the Sony scandal erupted Tuesday, when the website Gawker posted email exchanges stolen from the studio's computer systems. The leaks gave the public a rare, unfiltered glimpse into the blunt, often crude way Hollywood does business. The emails drawing most of the attention this week were primarily between Rudin, producer of the Academy Award-winning "No Country for Old Men," and Pascal, who has held the position since 2006. The two have a decades-old friendship, thanks, in part, to a longstanding deal with the studio, where they've worked jointly on projects like "The Social Network." When juxtaposed with the saccharine graciousness of Hollywood's awards season, the emails reveal a much darker and, to some, surprising side of the industry. "She's a camp event and a celebrity and that's all," wrote Rudin of Jolie in one exchange about a potential "Cleopatra" project. In another, as reported by Buzzfeed, Rudin and Pascal also riffed about what she should talk to President Obama about at an upcoming fundraiser. "Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?" Pascal asked, referring to Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." They continued the email chain joking about which films the President might enjoy, referencing "Lee Daniels' The Butler," ''Think Like a Man" and "Ride Along" — all films with primarily African American casts. "I bet he likes Kevin Hart," wrote Rudin. In a separate email exchange obtained by Gawker, Sony CEO Michael Lyton also called Hart a "whore" for asking to get compensated for promotional tweets. "I look at myself as a brand and because of that, I will never allow myself to be (taken) advantage of," Hart responded on Instagram. Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement that the apologies were not enough, comparing Pascal to disgraced NBA owner Donald Sterling and demanding that she meet with black leaders immediately. Beyond the scintillating behind-the-scenes peek at the film business, Hollywood is somewhat divided on how to feel to about the unflattering exposure and what it means for Sony. Many are concerned about the ethics of diving into the leaked assets, which have included films, executive salaries, and the Social Security numbers of nearly everyone who has received a paycheck from Sony. "You can't hold people responsible on how they conduct (emailing) in private or between colleagues, unless they're doing something illegal," comedian Ricky Gervais told the AP. "It almost seems like it's a story line from a film," said "Foxcatcher" star Steve Carell. "But the truth is stranger than fiction, I guess." Representatives for Jolie did not immediately respond to the AP's request for comment, nor did the White House communications office. ___ AP Entertainment Writers Sandy Cohen and Derrik Lang contributed to this report. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP Explains: Stephen Colbert vs. "Stephen Colbert"
Thursday Dec 18, 2014
AP Explains: Stephen Colbert vs. "Stephen Colbert"

Stephen Colbert leaves Comedy Central's satirical political talk show "The Colbert Report" after nine years Thursday night. He will become host of the "Late Show" on CBS, replacing David Letterman in May. So ends the "Stephen Colbert" character he created: the outlandishly tongue-in-cheek conservative host who leapt from late-night TV to become a political and pop culture phenomenon. Many of his "Colbert Nation" fans are left trying to imagine life without his incessant lampooning of the Washington establishment and TV pundits. Here's a brief explanation of Stephen Colbert and the alter ego he is retiring: A SATIRICAL SPIN-OFF: The actor and comedian first created his Colbert character in 1997 as a correspondent for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." The persona, described by the real Colbert as "self-important, poorly informed, well-intentioned but an idiot," got his own show in 2005. Largely inspired by conservative Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News pundit, the satirical, fact-challenged "Stephen Colbert" preached the opposite of what the real-life Colbert meant to say, a long-running joke that never ran its course. The underlying theme was a forceful poke at bombastic nationalism as discontent over the Iraq War was surging. "The Colbert Report" won four Emmys and two Peabody awards. COLBERT FOR PRESIDENT?! In the first episode, Colbert coined the term "truthiness," defining it as "truth that comes from the gut, not books." The American Dialect Society and Merriam-Webster named "truthiness" the word of the year. As Colbert's character gained popularity, he escaped the confines of cable TV. He famously skewered President George W. Bush at the White House Correspondents' dinner in 2006, mocking his handling of Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. He attempted to run for president in 2008, testified before a congressional committee on immigration reform and raised real money in an award-winning parody of loosened political fundraising laws with his Super Political Action Committee, "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow." A study published this year by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found Colbert had more success explaining complex fundraising rules than traditional media. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Stephen Colbert retires his 'Report' and the host he played
Thursday Dec 18, 2014
Stephen Colbert retires his 'Report' and the host he played

NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen Colbert is dead. Stephen Colbert is immortal? Long live Stephen Colbert! Nine years of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" came to an end Thursday night along with its mythical presiding pundit, as the real-life Stephen Colbert bade the audience farewell. He was last seen gliding through the clouds in the backseat of Santa's sleigh beside Alex Trebek (don't ask). Before that, after offing the Grim Reaper and declaring himself immortal (don't ask), he led a glorious singalong in the studio with a room of luminaries ranging from "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, Andy Cohen and Big Bird to George Lucas, Arianna Huffington and Henry Kissinger. With Randy Newman at the piano, the gathered sang the poignant pop standard whose lyrics go, "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when. But I know we'll meet again, some sunny day." Actually, Colbert fans know they'll be meeting him again in a few months, this time playing himself as the new host of CBS' "Late Show" taking over for David Letterman, who exits next May. But none of that mattered during Thursday's bittersweet finale. At the top of the show, Colbert greeted his followers and set straight any newcomers: "If this is your first time tuning into 'The Colbert Report,' I have some terrible news. ..." He announced as "a little happy news" for Colbert Nation that a raffle for his flashy anchor desk and his adjoining fireplace set had raised $313,420 for charity. In discussing his legacy — something this delightfully self-absorbed host was always happy to do — Colbert fired back against the "thinkerati" who, he charged, were questioning his impact. "But I'm not here to brag about how I changed the world," he went on. "I did something much harder: I 'samed' the world. Does that sound stupid? Well, they said I sounded stupid back in 2005. So THAT'S the same!" "The Colbert Report" (both t's were always silent) premiered in October 2005 as a spoof of the show hosted by Fox News Channel personality Bill O'Reilly. But the Colbert character developed into a shrewdly satirical observer, preaching the opposite of what real-life Stephen Colbert meant to put across. For this nightly display of Opposite Day, Colbert won a devoted audience of so-called "heroes," plus critical acclaim and two Peabody Awards, which noted that "what started as a parody of punditry is now its own political platform." An actor, comedian and improv virtuoso, Colbert had created his Stephen Colbert alter ego in 1997 as a "senior correspondent" for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." Then he graduated to a show of his own, where he not only exposed the failings and fumblings of government, society and the media, but he also got directly involved in these issues. He formed a Super PAC, "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow," which solicited donations as a demonstration of how money distorts the electoral process. In 2007, he announced he would be running for president — but only in his native state, South Carolina, whose Democratic Party voted to keep his name off the ballot. With Stewart, he in 2010 staged a "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" as a live TV extravaganza that drew tens of thousands to Washington's National Mall. Quite a legacy. Was it enough? "If all we achieved over the last nine years was to come into your home each night and help you make a difficult day a little bit better," said Colbert, for a moment almost getting sentimental — "man, what a waste!" As usual, he was preaching the opposite of truth. _____ EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore _____ Online: http://www.cc.com Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.