Saturday May 30, 2015

Jury convicts TV actor Diamond of misdemeanors in stabbing

PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. (AP) — TV actor Dustin Diamond was convicted Friday of two misdemeanors stemming from a barroom fight, but a Wisconsin jury cleared the former "Saved by the Bell" actor of the most serious felony charge. The jury's verdict came just hours after the...
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TV

Jury convicts TV actor Diamond of misdemeanors in stabbing
Saturday May 30, 2015
Jury convicts TV actor Diamond of misdemeanors in stabbing

PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. (AP) — TV actor Dustin Diamond was convicted Friday of two misdemeanors stemming from a barroom fight, but a Wisconsin jury cleared the former "Saved by the Bell" actor of the most serious felony charge. The jury's verdict came just hours after the 38-year-old actor testified that he never intended to stab anyone in the fight last Christmas Day. He had pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of recklessly endangering public safety, plus two misdemeanors — carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct. The first misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of nine months in prison, the second a maximum of 90 days in prison. Diamond didn't display emotion at the jury's decision Friday night. He told reporters he couldn't comment as he left the courtroom after a 13-hour day of testimony and jury deliberations. Diamond, who played the character Screech on the popular 1990s show, said some people had wanted to shake his hand and pose for photos at the bar, but that others were badgering him and his girlfriend, Amanda Schutz. He said he was trying to scare bar patrons in Port Washington after his girlfriend was punched in the face. "I felt like we were being set up for antagonistic purposes," he said. Witnesses testified that Schutz pushed one woman at the bar and grabbed another woman's hand, initiating the incident. Schutz also faces a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. Diamond said he tried to help Schutz and took out his pocketknife to deter the group from hurting her more. The man who was stabbed, 25-year-old Casey Smet, testified Thursday that he didn't know he had been stabbed until he had left the bar and was talking to police. After maintaining a serious facade during most of the trial, Diamond grinned Friday when a defense attorney asked if he liked being compared to the character Screech. Diamond said he, like his character, enjoyed nerdy things. And Diamond said he liked being identified in public as the goofy television character. "That means they love you," Diamond said. "That means you're doing your job." Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol argued Friday that Diamond lied about what happened and that the actor had scripted his testimony. Gerol showed body-camera footage of Diamond's testimony to a Port Washington police officer the night of the fight. In the video Diamond first said he might have struck Smet with a pen. In a video of testimony later that night, Diamond said he had a knife at the bar, but hadn't used it to stab anyone. No apparent "Saved by the Bell" fans sat in the galleries during the three-day trial. But another apparent fan, Diamond's defense attorney Thomas Alberti, wrote "Good Luck to Dustin & Amanda" on his car window Wednesday ahead of the trial. Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy scolded Alberti and told him to remove it because it was "inappropriate." The jury also convicted Schutz with disorderly conduct Friday night. Schutz faces a maximum of 90 days in prison. A sentencing date for Diamond and Schutz has not been announced. Port Washington is 25 miles north of Milwaukee. ___ Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bydanaferguson. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Dana Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Unscripted TV stripped bare by scripted drama 'UnREAL'
Friday May 29, 2015
Unscripted TV stripped bare by scripted drama 'UnREAL'

NEW YORK (AP) — "UnREAL" might be TV's most fully realized reality series. Why shouldn't it be? It's scripted, then performed by professional actors. Premiering Monday at 10 p.m. EDT on Lifetime, "UnREAL" arrives with what just might be perfect timing. The reality genre is cooling off (yet still embarrassing itself) as reality-based networks scramble to shore up their schedules with scripted dramas and comedies — the kind of fare that makes no false claims of authenticity and whose version of the truth is seen by all as invention. "UnREAL" dwells in the off-camera netherworld of a dating competition show called "Everlasting," where a handsome bachelor must choose among a bevy of hot, hopeful women each bucking for a fairytale wedding. (Sound familiar?) The week-to-week production process is anything but romantic. On the contrary, it's a callous game of bullying and illusion whose sole objective is outrageous narratives. That process of seduction is led by executive producer Quinn King (played by Constance Zimmer, "House of Cards"), a single-minded puppetmaster whose chief henchman is Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby, "Girls"), a young producer whose task is to cajole, badger and play on the weaknesses of the show's participants to get the footage Quinn demands. "Rachel gets the best sound bites and she has killer instincts for drama," says Quinn as she plays on Rachel's many weaknesses to keep her in line. Although "UnREAL" pushes certain moments to dramatic extremes, everything you see is based on reality-show reality, says co-creator Marti Noxon (who also created Bravo's fictional-yet-all-too-true hit "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce" and wrote for WB's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). "We thought uncovering the behind-the-scenes machinations would make great stories," she says, "and we wanted to comment on the kind of bully culture of a lot of reality television." "UnREAL," therefore, is not a spoof of reality TV. Rather, it's a straight-ahead workplace comedy-drama populated with flawed, three-dimensional characters. There are no villains here, just people — under-the-gun producers and on-the-make contestants — who in the worst way want to score in the sordid world of make-believe they call "reality." "Contestants come in and think they can beat the game, but it's truly an unbeatable game," says Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (director-writer of the SXSW-winning film "Sequin Raze," a black comedy about a reality dating show), who created and produces "UnREAL" with Noxon. "You're ritually manipulated and charmed and edited beyond your control. Viewers think the contestants knew what they had signed up for. But they couldn't have. There's no way." The game is fixed and the matchmaking premise is only a pretext. On "UnREAL," the hunky "suitor" is seeking, no, not a soul mate, but TV-sparked publicity to lure investors for his new hotel project. And in an unguarded moment, one of the contestants confides her real goal: "I just want people to know my name, so when I open my hair shop there'll be a line around the block." Participants sign on expecting a payoff for pretending to be themselves. What they don't understand (until too late): They are pawns in the "Everlasting" chess game, with Quinn, in her video-paneled master control, pronouncing which contestant is the designated villainess, which is the hot one, which ones are boring and should be bounced. "Viewers want to believe in fairy tales, and those reality shows tap into that want," says Shapiro. "Our show dismantles that want." "I think our show will entice viewers to watch reality in a different way," says Noxon, "but I don't think they're going to stop. There's a suspension of disbelief by many viewers." Both women have done quite a lot of thinking about the implications of a dating-competition show — and, despite identifying as "card-carrying feminists," they readily own up to having been seduced by its charms. "Watching one of those shows, at first I was laughing at the artifice and pretense," says Noxon. "Then I got attached. And as it got toward the end I was feeling, 'Oh, my God, I wish I could have someone like that.' And he was a bonehead! It was amazing how caught up in it I got. And only later, I thought, 'What was THAT all about?'" The dizziness of reality TV imposed itself on the production of "UnREAL." Shot in Vancouver, the series took over a sprawling estate (just as "The Bachelor" does), where confusion between real and un-real regularly reigned. "We had background extras playing crew members, and real crew members," says Shapiro. "We had fake craft service and real craft service. Fake outhouses and real outhouses." "You didn't know when you were stepping into fiction or something that was really happening," adds Noxon. Where, indeed, is the great divide? That's where "UnREAL" comes alive. It's a series that exposes the real drama in people who, with nothing better to sell, try selling some unreal version of themselves as the real thing. _____ 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.mylifetime.com Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Frazier Moore from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Bob Saget joins returning cast for ‘Full House sitcom reboot
Friday May 29, 2015
Bob Saget joins returning cast for ‘Full House sitcom reboot

Netflix's plans for a "Fuller House," a modern-day relaunching of the late 80s US sitcom are starting to fill out.Saget becomes the sixth original cast member to come on board and joins Cameron Candace-Burr, Andrea Barber, Jodi Sweetin and Lori Loughlin, all of whom have agreed to reprise the roles they last played in 1995 when the original show came to an end. What's more, John Stamos, who will return in the role of Uncle Jesse, is also on board as a producer and co-writer. The plot of the original show revolved around Saget's character, Danny Tanner who with the help of his friend and his brother in law attempted to raise his three children following their mother's death. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Marco Rubio grabs some Vegas pizazz for campaign
Thursday May 28, 2015
Marco Rubio grabs some Vegas pizazz for campaign

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tourists and shoppers idled outside the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop on Thursday, while the setting of the reality show "Pawn Stars" hosted an even odder spectacle: the 2016 Republican presidential campaign. Inside, Rick Harrison, the bullet-headed star of the History Channel show, led Florida Sen, Marco Rubio to a small scrum of reporters and television cameras crammed into the back of the shop, where the Picassos and Chagalls hang. "This is a great guy right here," Harrison said of Rubio. "I'm good at reading people — you've seen my show — and this guy honestly cares about people." Campaigning in Las Vegas can verge on the surreal, and Rubio's quick swing through town to celebrate his 44th birthday met that criteria. In the pawn shop — sandwiched between two bail bond outlets on a gritty stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard — Rubio admired a Super Bowl ring as he ambled through the narrow space, past gold records, Elvis posters and display cases full of knives and fancy jewelry. Rubio tied the success of "Pawn Stars" into his campaign theme. "In almost any other country in the world, this story would have been impossible — both mine and his," Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants who once worked in a Las Vegas casino, said as he stood with Harrison. Hours later, Rubio celebrated his birthday at a private party at Harrison's five-bedroom, 4,600-square-foot home in a comfortable neighborhood at the northwestern edge of Las Vegas' sprawl. Attendees were asked to donate at least $1,000 to Rubio's campaign. Because this is a presidential campaign, there was partisan counterprogramming. Democrats tried to get in on the pop-culture game by circulating online memes claiming Rubio is trying to "pawn off" old Republican ideas. Three high school students stood outside Rubio's fundraiser, hoping to talk to the candidate, who has been targeted by immigration activists for his changing stances on the issue. But when Rubio emerged from an SUV, all the teenagers did was shout, "Happy Birthday, Marco Rubio!" He waved back. Rubio spent six years of his childhood in Las Vegas, and Nevada is both a pivotal early-voting state in the competitive GOP primary and a critical swing state in the general election. The Florida senator has a more sober schedule Friday: a tech start-up round-table in Las Vegas followed by a meeting with conservative activists in Reno. Rubio said he'd be spending plenty of time in Nevada in the coming months, and was open about the main reason he was there Thursday. "We're going to do what we've been doing, and we'll probably do for the next year — raise money," Rubio told reporters at the pawn shop. "All these people you work for charge us money to run commercials." Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Nicholas Riccardi from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Michael King, innovative syndicator of 'Oprah,' dies at 67
Thursday May 28, 2015
Michael King, innovative syndicator of 'Oprah,' dies at 67

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael King, an innovative TV syndicator who helped make stars of Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil McGraw and Rachael Ray, has died. A family member confirmed King died Wednesday in Los Angeles of complications from pneumonia. He was 67. With his brother Roger, Michael King inherited King World Productions in 1972 from their father, Charles King, who had founded the company eight years earlier to syndicate classic "Our Gang" theatrical comedy shorts. Under the brothers' management, King World rose to be the industry's leading distributor of first-run syndicated programming, bringing such shows to TV as "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Dr. Phil." "Anyone that knew Michael knows what a passion he brought to everything he touched. He and Roger certainly had a profound impact on my life personally and professionally," McGraw said in a statement. The King-syndicated "Wheel of Fortune" paired host Pat Sajak and letter turner Vanna White. It has remained a hit for decades, as has the syndicated "Jeopardy!" that King World re-introduced, having obtained the rights to both game shows. King World also launched the long-running syndicated news magazine "Inside Edition." In 2000, King World was acquired by CBS. Roger King died in 2007 at age 63. Michael King is survived by his wife Jena, two sons and two daughters. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Frazier Moore from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Movies

Livia Firth's new fast fashion documentary will make you think twice about your wardrobe choices
Friday May 29, 2015
Livia Firth's new fast fashion documentary will make you think twice about your wardrobe choices

A hard-hitting documentary about the moral and environmental ethics of the fashion industry is set for global release today.Following a screening at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month, "The True Cost" is making its worldwide debut online. The movie examines the impact that cut-price clothing and fast fashion are having on our world, and features interviews with sustainably minded designers including Stella McCartney. The film is directed by Andrew Morgan and co-produced by Livia Firth, known for launching the "Green Carpet Challenge" which sees her commission designers to create sustainably-sourced gowns for red carpet events. The project was inspired by the fatal Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh which saw 1,129 workers lose their lives. The project aims to encourage wider audiences to be more mindful of where their clothes come from and how their fashion choices can affect other people. "It's not a guilt trip," says Morgan in a promotional clip for the film, elaborating: "It's really an invitation to say ‘Hey, there's something really important in the world that you've not considered.'" In another clip he states: "Fashion is this beautiful, important part of our world, but for too long now we have failed to face the growing cost to both human beings as well as the health of the planet that we call home."The True Cost is just the latest in a string of high-profile fashion initiatives focused on promoting sustainability within the industry. April saw the second edition of "Fashion Revolution Day", a social media campaign asking fashion fans to explore the origins of their clothing via the hashtag "#whomademyclothes." Social media users photographed their clothing labels in the hope of opening up the dialogue with fashion brands regarding the supply chain. Elsewhere in the industry there seems to be an increasing awareness of the moral responsibility that comes with being stylish. Footwear brand TOMs, long applauded for its one-for-one business model which sees the brand donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased, has expanded significantly over the past few years, adding a bag range to its collection this spring. The True Cost is available for pre-order from truecostmovie.com. Screenings will take place throughout June in China, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

WWE superstar Sheamus tipped for villainous role in ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2'
Friday May 29, 2015
WWE superstar Sheamus tipped for villainous role in ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2'

Evidence is mounting that pro wrestler Sheamus is going to be playing ‘Rocksteady' one half of a henchman double act under the command of central villain Shredder.The WWE wrestler has been spotted on set alongside Gary Anthony Williams, who is already cast as ‘Bebop' the other half of the henchman double act and that has got tongues wagging. But now the buzz among fans has stepped up a gear thanks to Sheamus tweeting a picture of himself, in leathers alongside both Williams and Brian Tee, the actor cast as Shredder in the upcoming sequel, scheduled for release in June 2016.  Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Could Bumblebee be getting his own Transformers movie?
Friday May 29, 2015
Could Bumblebee be getting his own Transformers movie?

Plans are afoot to expand the multi-billion-dollar film franchise as much as possible and that could mean giving individual characters spin-off movies as well as prequels and further sequels.According to several publications including The Playlist, Hasbro in particular is very keen for that first spin-off to be centred around Bumblebee, the yellow Chevrolet Camaro or, for those that haven't seen the movies but remember playing with the toys, the yellow Volkswagen Beetle.  Paramount, the studio behind the four Michael Bay Transformers films to date has no made secret of its desire to keep making Transformers films and is in the process of building up a huge writing team. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Banksy exhibition to hit Amsterdam
Friday May 29, 2015
Banksy exhibition to hit Amsterdam

An upcoming exhibition in Amsterdam will present more than 10 original pieces by the celebrated Banksy, who turned the streets of London upside down with a style of vandalism so clever it could only be considered art.Amesterdam's LionelGallery is organizing the event, called "Keep it Real," from June 20 through July 20, that's expected to draw collectors from all over the world. The display will be centered around the painting "Forgive Us Our Trespassing," which measures 122 by 244 centimeters and was featured in Banksy's DVD "Exit Through the Gift Shop." Following an exhibition of the artist's work at Sotheby's London 6 months ago, Banksy's fame has soared in the art world. http://lionelgallery.com/en/banksy-exhibition-photos/?utm_source=pb&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=banksy Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

For its 40, 'Jaws' returns to US theaters
Friday May 29, 2015
For its 40, 'Jaws' returns to US theaters

Forty years later, the movie that still makes us afraid to swim in a backyard pool is returning to a theater near you.Starting June 21, you can catch the fish -- er, flick -- at nearly 500 theaters in the US, presented by Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Universal Pictures, reports Variety. Steven Spielberg's 1975 adaptation of the book by Peter Benchley was a smashing success. Get your tickets starting Friday, May 29: http://www.fathomevents.com/event/jaws-second-showing Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Events

Who? Townshend, Springsteen, Daltrey jam at NYC event
Friday May 29, 2015
Who? Townshend, Springsteen, Daltrey jam at NYC event

NEW YORK (AP) — Bruce Springsteen called Pete Townshend "the greatest rhythm guitarist of all-time," told a story about attending his first Who concert as a pimply-faced teenager and joined Townshend and surprise guest Roger Daltrey onstage for a rocking set. The rock icons attended the MusiCares MAP Fund benefit Thursday night in New York City, where Townshend and longtime Who manager Bill Curbishley were honored for their charitable efforts. Springsteen, Daltrey and Townshend joined forces for "My Generation" at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square. They closed the event with "Won't Get Fooled Again," and were joined by Billy Idol and Willie Nile, who both hit the stage for solo sets earlier in the night. "It's gonna be good. It's gonna be bad, but good-bad," Townshend said before the finale. Springsteen presented Townshend with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his commitment to the MusiCares MAP Fund, which provides members of the music community access to addiction recovery treatment regardless of their financial situation. The Boss said The Who was the first rock concert he saw in the late '60s when the English band first toured America. "All I knew was for some reason this music and the demolishing of these perfectly fine instruments filled me with incredible joy," Springsteen said. Springsteen said he was so inspired he imitated The Who's set as a 16-year-old in the band The Castiles when he performed in for a school dance. "I went out and I bought a smoke bomb and I bought a strobe light and I brought them to the gig. ... At the end of the night, I lit the smoke bomb in the Catholic school basement, I turned on the strobe light and I climbed on top of my Danelectro amplifier holding a vase of flowers I'd stolen from one of the upstairs classrooms," he said. "As the nuns looked on with horror, I reached up and smashed them onto the dance floor." Springsteen earned a rousing applause from the crowd, but he also got serious in his near eight-minute speech. "Pete, I'm here to say, 'Congratulations, well deserved.' And thanks, not just for 'Who's Next' or 'Who Are You,' but for who I am," he said. Townshend, who turned 70 this month, told the crowd about smoking weed as an art student, tripping on LSD and turning to alcohol after using drugs. "I was doing like three bottles of brandy a day ... and I think I don't look too bad for someone that drank cognac for 15 years," he said to laughs from the audience. "But the secret for me to be able to do this tour with The Who, this 50th anniversary tour, and still kind of put on a reasonable show ... has been (because of) the 30 years I've been clean," he added to loud cheers. The night was a mix of laughable moments from the rock stars to high volume performances. Joan Jett rocked out in her signature black ensemble and Nile was energetic on the guitar. Daltrey was excited onstage and enticed the crowd with his signature windmill effect with the microphone. Idol matched his energy: He danced, waved his tongue and stuck half of his microphone down his pants while he clapped as the band began playing "Who Are You," which earned Idol a standing ovation. Elton John, Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Roger Waters and Joe Walsh appeared in videos and offered kind words to Townshend and Curbishley. And Daltrey, 71, surprised the crowd when he jumped onstage after Curbishley accepted the From the Heart Award. "It's not easy to find an honest manager in this business," Daltrey said to laughs, "especially in our period. Some of the artists will tell you." Curbishley said he was grateful that The Who has performed at benefit events like "12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief" and "The Concert for New York City" in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. "I'm a firm, firm believer in second chances, and third chances for that matter. ...I had a bit of a rocky start in my early life, and then I had a second chance. Music gave me that second chance," he said. Thursday's event marked the 11th annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert. The organization distributed $26,000 in aid in 1992, but raised more than $3.7 million last year. A 1962 guitar that Townshend bought from Daltrey was auctioned for $41,000; both performers autographed it. ___ Online: http://www.grammy.org/musicares/recovery ___ This story has been corrected to show that MAP Fund distributed $3.7 million last year, not $37 million, in penultimate paragraph. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Mesfin Fekadu from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Gordon-Levitt has high hopes for impact of 'Snowden'
Friday May 29, 2015
Gordon-Levitt has high hopes for impact of 'Snowden'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joseph Gordon-Levitt has big expectations for the impact of "Snowden." The 34-year-old actor wrapped filming earlier this month on the Oliver Stone thriller about former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, whose 2013 leaks to the media revealed the government's bulk collection of American calling records. Congress is set for an unusual weekend session to debate the records collection and two other surveillance laws. "The laws are all in flux. ... I'm really curious what's going to happen. And I love the idea that we made the movie when we did so that it can participate in that conversation," Gordon-Levitt said in an interview Thursday. He noted a May 7 federal appeals court ruling that the NSA's actions were illegal. "Hopefully, there will probably be a Supreme Court case about it at some point soon. And while the Supreme Court judges aren't supposed to really listen to popular opinion, they do," Gordon-Levitt said. Gordon-Levitt plays Snowden in Stone's film, which is based on two books about the leaks and also features Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto and Melissa Leo. "Snowden" is set for release in December. "I think it's really important for us to all talk about it and to talk about different sides," Gordon-Levitt said. "You don't really get much in the American media that explores why he did what he did, why the government could potentially be doing something wrong." Snowden, who is living in Russia, was also the subject of Laura Poitras' HBO documentary "Citizenfour," which won an Academy Award in February. Gordon-Levitt declined to say whether he'd been in contact with Snowden. The actor made his remarks while promoting his crowd-sourced variety show "HitRecord on TV," which launches its second season June 12. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ryanwrd Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Ryan Pearson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Steve Martin reflects on his career as he receives AFI honor
Thursday May 28, 2015
Steve Martin reflects on his career as he receives AFI honor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the early 1980s, when Steve Martin was a fledgling movie star, he recalls attending the American Film Institute's celebration of Frank Capra and how Hollywood glitterati swirled around the Oscar-winning filmmaker. Martin himself will be at the center of the celebration next week, surrounded by friends and colleagues from a 48-year career in entertainment. Mel Brooks will present Martin with AFI's 43rd Life Achievement Award at a private ceremony in Hollywood on June 4. "It's such a prestigious group that they've given this award to, and I can't help but think, 'What am I doing there?'" Martin said in a recent interview. "But, still, they gave it to me, so I'm accepting it with full pride." The ultimate multi-hyphenate, Martin says he never had a career plan — which seems to have worked out well for the 69-year-old screenwriter, actor, comedian, producer, playwright, novelist and musician. "I always felt I was lucky to be where I was," he said. One of his earliest gigs was as a writer for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," which led to other TV-writing jobs. In 1979, he co-wrote and starred in the film "The Jerk," followed by "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" and "The Man with Two Brains" a few years later. And when he couldn't find a writer to work on his idea for an updated "Cyrano de Bergerac," he decided to try it himself. The 1987 movie "Roxanne" was the result. "So that worked out, and it turned me into a screenwriter, a solo screenwriter," he said. "There are so many little accidents along the way that happen." Sir Howard Stringer, chair of the AFI Board of Trustees, called Martin "a multi-layered creative force bound by neither convention nor caution" and "a national treasure whose work has stuck with us like an arrow in the head." Martin first gained fame as a standup, not to mention his breakout appearances on "Saturday Night Live" in the '70s. But he came to prefer film as a comedic venue. "I really like the idea, when I first started doing it, of getting a comedy down and it doesn't have to be repeated every night," he said. "It's on film. You can get it right, hopefully, and you never have to worry about it again." Writing films inspired him to write dramas and prose. A play he wrote "in my spare time" will open at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre next year. Martin also adapted his novella, "Shopgirl," into the 2005 film of the same name. Writing and performing music has reignited his pleasure in appearing live in front of an audience. The banjo player said there's "a lot of comedy" in the concerts he plays with the bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers, "and it's really been fun." He also recently performed a pair of standup shows with pal Martin Short. Martin recently began work on Ang Lee's latest film, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," and hopes to one day work with Wes Anderson. Meanwhile, he wrote a musical with Edie Brickell, and the two are planning to release an album. Martin will also be curating a traveling art exhibit of works by Canadian painter Lawren Harris. But for now, he's reflecting on the anecdotes he plans to share at the AFI celebration, which will air later as a special on TNT. "It feels like I've been through a lot in a lot of different careers, and we're kind of looking back," he said. Just like he did for his honorary Oscar in 2013, Martin said he's practicing his acceptance speech by reading it aloud to his dog, Wally. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy . Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Sandy Cohen from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Review: Jim Parsons can't save mindless 'An Act of God'
Thursday May 28, 2015
Review: Jim Parsons can't save mindless 'An Act of God'

NEW YORK (AP) — Latecomers, be warned: Miss the start of the new show at the Studio 54 theater this summer and you will be heckled by no less than God Almighty. "How ya doin'? I am the Lord thy God, King of the Universe, but I'll wait. You good?" the Divine — played by Jim Parsons — says to sheepish stragglers from the stage. Unfortunately, it's one of the few moments in an "An Act of God" that is genuinely funny. Summer on Broadway is when the weakest of authors somehow find a home. This year, it's apparently God. The play, with one strange song at the end, is a chance for the Almighty to set the record straight — like that he doesn't hate gays and he can't help anyone sing better — and update his 10 Commandments. "The reason masturbation is a sin is not that it's intrinsically evil. It's that every time you do it, I have to watch," God says at one point. At another: "Do you remember the Irish potato famine? It killed over a million people in the 19th century. Do you know why I sent that? I wasn't mad at the Irish. I was mad at the potatoes." It was written by David Javerbaum, the former head writer and executive producer of "The Daily Show" and a producer of "The Late Late Show with James Corden." He's also the power behind the Twitter handle @TheTweetofGod. Javerbaum is obviously pretty good at droll, bite-sized humor. No so much with a 90-minute play. This one seems more like a lounge act cooked up by someone who thinks his Facebook updates are totally hilarious. Javerbaum has based his play on his book "The Last Testament: A Memoir by God." No one tried to stop him. Where is God when you need Him? Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory" star, is game playing a sort of overworked divine bystander with anger management issues, forever exasperated at humans and their endless stupidity. He's aided by two angels played by Christopher Fitzgerald and Tim Kazurinsky. The whole thing is directed by Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, who has apparently taken his summer vacation early. The usual tired selection of celebs that get roasted on late night TV get goofed-on here, including Shia LaBeouf, Kanye West, Sarah Palin, Adam Sandler and Bruce Jenner ("The first Kardashian woman I can actually tolerate," God says.) One bright spot is Fitzgerald as the Angel Gabriel, who peppers God with questions about heavenly inconsistencies and the nature of evil. Their tension is really the only thing that keeps this lame thing even slightly going. It truly needs divine intervention. ___ Online: http://anactofgod.com Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Mark Kennedy from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Bonhams to host Robbie Williams charity auction
Thursday May 28, 2015
Bonhams to host Robbie Williams charity auction

British solo singer and erstwhile Take That member Robbie Williams is offering 150 personal items for sale with all proceeds going to the Donna Louise Children's Hospice.The auction, appropriately called "Doing it for the Kids," will take place on July 15 in Knightsbridge, London and lots up for grabs include a set of handwritten lyrics to "Let Me Entertain You" and an MTV Video Music Award from the singer's Take That days. Of the sale, Williams said: "It's a privilege for me to be a patron of The Donna Louise Children's Hospice, it makes a real difference to these children whose lives have been tragically limited. The sale gives a great opportunity for bidders to know their money will go to such a fantastic charity, whilst also taking home some of my most prized possessions that have been personal markers of my career so far." Viewing of the lots commences on Saturday, July 11 and the auction itself will be streamed live via the Bonhams website.  Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.