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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Speed Racer 2

The Speed Racer movie has been in and out of development since 1992 - Johnny Depp was cast as ‘Speed’ back in 1995, actors attached to the role of ‘Racer X’ have included Henry Rollins and Vince Vaughn. J.J. Abrams once wrote a draft of the screenplay. Alfonso Cuarón (Children Of Men) was attached to direct. Keanu Reeves reportedly turned down the lead role… But if a franchise does materialise don’t expect any such delays before the next installment.

Of course the Wachowskis themselves never do press, preferring to remain mysterious and possibly gender changed, so it’s left to those around them to speak on their behalf -

Joel Silver says the Wachowskis are producing/writing Ninja Assassin next, to be directed by James McTeigue (V For Vendetta). It starts shooting in mid May. But after that… “They have a great story idea for Speed Racer 2”, enthuses Silver. “You always want to create a franchise if you can… We’re having a good time. I love working with them and it’s a great joy to have them in my life. They’re smart and funny and they love the kind of movies I love and they know how to make them like no one else. I look at Speed Racer and can’t believe we created it. I can’t believe it exists.”

The cast are just as ready to jump back in. “When we were all leaving”, says Christina Ricci “We were like ‘write the sequel!’ ‘We want to come back’. And the Wachowskis were like ‘I know. I know. We’re going to. Don’t worry’.“ Ricci wants to see Trixie more heavily involved in the action sequences next time round.

So it all depends now on Speed Racer’s financial performance. The original is said to have cost $100m, not including marketing. That may be a tough finish line to cross…

Sources: Collider, MSN

Pirate Movie

The dramatic story of the hijacking and rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips and his crew aboard the Maersk Alabama reportedly will be headed to the big screen.

Columbia Pictures reportedly acquired the rights to Phillips' life story, including his in-the-works book telling of his experience and his remarkable rescue.

"We were drawn to this remarkable story of heroism and courage as events were unfolding off the coast of Africa," Columbia executive Doug Belgrad told Variety Magazine.

Actor Kevin Spacey along with Scott Rudin, Michael DeLuca and Dana Brunetti are teaming up to produce the film. Brunetti is a former Coast Guard member who reportedly discussed with Phillips how the movie would be handled.

Phillips and his crew were attacked on April 8 off the coast of Somali by a band of pirates.

The crew was able to regain control of the ship, and all but Phillips escaped when the captain agreed to be held by the pirates in return for the release of rest.

The U.S. Navy responded to the scene, but the standoff dragged on until April 12, when Navy SEAL snipers shot and killed three of the four pirates, who were holding Phillips at gunpoint.


Are they just putting on a Act for the Show ?

These days, Jon & Kate Plus 8 adds up to one big pop culture controversy — entwined with at least 10 varying story lines, depending on whom you ask:
Kate Gosselin is a selfless and sympathetic mother struggling to raise eight children ages 8 and under. Kate Gosselin is self-centered, shrewish diva who is driving her husband away. Jon Gosselin is a devoted dad helplessly under the French-manicured thumb of his controlling wife. Jon Gosselin is a rarely-do-well who would rather salvage his white sports car than his now-crumbling marriage.

The couple signed on to the show in 2007 to create a charming record of their family's very unusual life. Or the couple signed on for a lifetime of hair plugs and highlights. The children, sextuplets and twins, are having a blast hamming it up for the cameras — and banking college tuition in the process. Or the children are miserable under the microscope and are being exploited for their parents' benefit.

Some contend the Gosselins are justified in slamming the increased scrutiny (the celebrity magazine covers, the stalking paparazzi). Others say they're hypocrites for inviting the nation into their house and then turning squeamish.

And then, most cynically of all, there's the thinking that they're faking the drama for the sake of ratings — and relevancy.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: California Los Angeles Britney Spears Beverly Hills University of Minnesota Santa Barbara Kevin Federline Aberdeen Chester Public Broadcasting Service America Jon & Kate Plus 8 Harvey Levin Marnie
Good for cover stories, too

The competing plotlines are what make the story compelling, says Larry Hackett, managing editor of People, which recently put Kate Gosselin on the cover (it sold "very, very well," among the best of the year so far, he says).

"There is a way into this story for everybody," Hackett says. "The authenticity of the story, however painful, is what's ringing through to people, and that's why they're paying attention," whether out of a sense of sympathy or schadenfreude.

The Gosselins' realness is both part of their appeal and their Achilles' heel, marriage and family experts say. The couple are not Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, whose reality show, Chaotic, felt about as genuine as a Spears first marriage. But they're not the Osbournes, either, who as professional — vs. accidental — celebrities were relatively well-prepared to have their personal problems become part of the public discourse.

When America gawks at the Gosselins, they're gawking at a real family that has begun to unravel, and psychologists and social scientists fear the consequences. In 1973, when PBS aired what's generally considered the first reality show, An American Family, about the Louds of Santa Barbara, Calif., "the whole country watched them fell apart," says William Doherty, a professor in the college of education and human development at the University of Minnesota. "We forgot that cultural lesson — this kind of putting a family under a microscope often destroys what we're looking at."

His advice? "Do what they can to try to save their marriage" by getting the third parties — viewers, producers, celebrity journalists — out of the picture.

If they can. Though she wouldn't discuss the Gosselins' contractual relationship with TLC, or their salary (reported to be five digits per episode), TLC president and general manager Eileen O'Neill says the family is "committed" to the series.

But as they continue with the show, their marriage is at risk, Doherty says. "Family therapists like to talk about triangulation: When a couple is having problems, each likes to bring in a third party to help take sides. Here, the whole nation is getting triangled, which is never good."

Says Geoffry White, a Los Angeles psychologist who has consulted on a couple of dozen reality shows: "There is also a lot of conforming pressure on Jon and Kate to give the audience what they believe the audience wants. That's not good for the kids."

'Implications are frightening'

"The implications for shows like Jon & Kate are frightening, and there is no university ethics committee providing oversight," White says. "They're amateurs in a professional activity. That's my big concern."

Still, some experts say the couple were doomed for discord from the start, cameras or not. "The dynamic between them has been pretty destructive for a long time," says Jenn Berman, a marriage, family and child therapist in Beverly Hills who has worked on reality TV shows as an expert. Kate Gosselin's overly critical treatment of her husband (she once scolded him for breathing too loudly), his passive-aggressive behavior toward her (epitomized by his photographed outings with a woman nearly a decade younger) — "they have a pretty bad cycle that just seems to be getting worse."

Whether the Gosselins' woes end in divorce or reconciliation, Berman predicts that people will continue to watch.

Others say that, depending on what direction the story takes, the future of Jon & Kate the show could look as bleak as the future of Jon and Kate the couple. "Conflict equals ratings," says Harvey Levin, managing editor of gossip site TMZ.com and host and executive producer of TMZ the show.

So if the Gosselins go their separate ways, "then you're watching a struggling (single) mother, and that isn't that interesting. There's a crescendo right now in their little life symphony, and the trick is, what do you do to keep that crescendo vibrant?"

If the couple do split, longtime watcher Ron Brabson of Chester, Pa., expects the show to be canceled. Continuing on as a fractured family would be like "when Sonny and Cher got divorced but did the show anyway" and America yawned. "People are going to get tired if every episode is just showing (Jon Gosselin) coming in from the garage," where he's reportedly living.

'Enough sadness in real life'

Some fans already are turned off. Last week's Season 5 premiere was Carolyn Blanchard's last glimpse of Jon & Kate. "I see enough sadness in real life. Why do I have to see it on TV?" says Blanchard, 49, who works in a library and lives in Aberdeen, S.D.

Amanda Sheptak isn't sure she'll continue following the friction. On the premiere, "you could tell (Kate Gosselin) was in over her head," says Sheptak, 33, a trust administrator at a bank, of Forest City, Pa. "Isn't it ironic? (During the sextuplets' 5th birthday party) Kate commented on how she thinks it's weird that you pick your favorite characters for piñatas and then beat them to a pulp, yet she puts her kids on display to the world and can't understand why everyone is swinging at them."

Still, some feel for the family's private-cum-public plight. "The Gosselins are growing as a family just like everyone else does. They're encountering problems just like everyone else does," says Marnie Schultz, 28, a software engineer from Sherrill, N.Y.

"Being married is hard enough," says Ryan Kees, 33, an operations manager from Laytonsville, Md. "Much less doing it in front of the world."

from usa today

Pregnant ? Jennifer Hudson

Grammy-winning singer and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson can add mom-to-be to her resume after a weekend baby shower in her honor was held in downtown Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Felicia Fields, a longtime friend of the Hudson, confirmed to the paper that the event happened on Saturday.

"It was a baby shower, a quiet gathering of friends and mostly family," Fields, also a singer and actress, said of a gathering in a relative's home. "They're really trying to keep it kind of quiet."

She added: "It was a nice time that we had."

When asked if Hudson received blue or pink gifts, Fields said, "They don't know [the gender]. More yellow."

Another paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, reports Hudson is seven months along.

A rep for Hudson had no comment.

Hudson, 27, who is engaged to Harvard-educated-lawyer-turned-wrestler David Otunga, has also kept mum about her upcoming wedding date.

from People mag

Susan Boyle goes into a clinic'

Britain's Got Talent's star Susan Boyle has been admitted to a private London clinic, it is being reported.

The Sun said the Scottish singer has been admitted to the Priory clinic with exhaustion a day after she was runner-up in ITV1 talent show final.

Police were called to a London hotel on Sunday at 1800 BST to doctors assessing a woman under the Mental Health Act, Scotland Yard confirmed.

That woman was taken voluntarily by ambulance to a clinic, they said.

At the request of doctors, police accompanied the ambulance.

The Priory Clinic said: "We can neither confirm nor deny the reports."

Dance group Diversity beat the West Lothian singer to be named the winner of the talent show on Saturday night in a final watched by an audience of 18 million.

On Sunday, it emerged Boyle was taking time off on the advice of a doctor.

Television company talkbackThames released a statement offering her "ongoing support".

The singer became an international singing sensation after first performing "I Dreamed A Dream" in the contest, a song she reprised for the final.

Her performances have attracted millions of hits on video-sharing websites and led to an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show.

from BBC

Leno's "Tonight Show" farewell

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Americans are used to change -- we get a brand-new administration in Washington, D.C., every four years or so. But it happens a lot less often on NBC's venerable, 55-year-old "Tonight Show," and the last time there was a handover of power, let's just say it didn't go as smoothly as everyone might have liked. Network brass weren't going to let that happen this time. Jay Leno's final "Tonight Show" week was a carefully orchestrated blend of favorite guests and classic bits. All he had to do on the final show was shake hands with his successor, Conan O'Brien, tie up a few knots, and go home. (At least until September, when Jay takes over the 10 p.m. slot at the Peacock.)

from the washington post

Disney's Up trailer

Up' with $68.2 million debut

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The animated action comedy "Up" took flight with a $68.2 million opening weekend, maintaining a perfect box-office track record for Pixar Animation, whose 10 films all have been commercial and critical hits.

"Up" had the third-best opening for a film from Disney-owned Pixar, just behind the $70 million debuts for "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles." Last summer's Disney-Pixar release, "WALL-E," debuted with $63.1 million.

Like its Pixar predecessors, which include the "Toy Story" movies," "Finding Nemo" and "Ratatouille," "Up" earned glowing reviews from critics.

"Usually things that are very popular with audiences don't necessarily go over that well with critics. These things do both, and pretty much consistently every time," said Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "The Disney-Pixar collaboration is probably the closest thing to box-office perfection out there."

"Up" took over the No. 1 spot from 20th Century Fox's "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," which slipped to second-place with $25.5 million. The "Museum" sequel raised its 10-day total to $105.3 million.

The weekend's other new wide release, Universal Pictures' horror tale "Drag Me to Hell," opened at No. 3 with $16.6 million. It was a relatively modest return for director Sam Raimi, whose three "Spider-Man" movies had blockbuster opening weekends.

Paramount Pictures' "Star Trek" steered a strong course, coming in at No. 5 with $12.8 million and passing the computer-animated "Monsters vs. Aliens" as the year's top-grossing movie so far.

"Star Trek" raised its domestic total to $209.5 million, becoming the first 2009 release to cross the $200 million mark.

"Up" features the voice of Ed Asner in the adventures of a lonely widower who ties helium balloons to his house and flies to a South American adventure with a 9-year-old stowaway.

"An elderly gentleman and a young boy traveling off to South America; it's not your typical animated story and not necessarily the easiest story to convey," said Mark Zoradi, president of Disney's motion-picture group. "That's why I give a lot of credit to the marketing team for taking a movie that wasn't easy to convey to the public and opening it to the highest levels of animation that we've ever done for an original story."

Factoring in higher admission prices, earlier Pixar movies such as "Toy Story 2" and "Monsters, Inc." sold more tickets than "Up" over their first weekends.

"Up" drew both family crowds and adults without children, and the film's 3-D release accounted for 51 percent of the total gross, according to Disney.

Hollywood finished the month with record revenues of $1.02 billion, coming in slightly ahead of the previous high in May 2007, according to Hollywood.com.

Momentum for the year continued to slow from the record pace set in the first four months of 2009. While May revenues came in 4.7 percent above those of May 2008, Hollywood has not yet had a sky-high opening on the order of last year's action hits "Iron Man" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which both topped $300 million domestically.

Overall weekend revenues were at $167 million, virtually even with the same period last year.

Total revenues for 2009 rose to $4.1 billion, up 13.7 percent. Movie attendance was about 11 percent ahead of last year's.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Up," $68.2 million.

2. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," $25.5 million.

3. "Drag Me to Hell," $16.6 million.

4. "Terminator Salvation," $16.1 million.

5. "Star Trek," $12.8 million.

6. "Angels & Demons," $11.2 million.

7. "Dance Flick," $4.9 million.

8. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," $3.9 million.

9. "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," $1.9 million.

10. "Obsessed," $665,000.

by the associated press

Heath Ledger wins for best villain

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The late Heath Ledger was awarded the best villain trophy at the MTV Movie Awards for his twisted turn as the Joker in "The Dark Knight." The honor was announced by MTV News correspondent Sway on the red carpet during an episode of the reality series "The Hills" before the Sunday ceremony was scheduled to begin.

Teenage vampire saga "Twilight" and game show drama "Slumdog Millionaire" are both up for six awards, including best movie and best kiss, at the Sunday award show honoring the best in film from the past year as voted on by viewers. Other best movie contenders are "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man" and "High School Musical 3: Senior Year."

Up for best kiss at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, Calif., are the lip-locks of Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy in "Wanted"; Freida Pinto and Dev Patel in "Slumdog Millionaire"; James Franco and Sean Penn in "Milk"; Paul Rudd and Thomas Lennon in "I Love You, Man"; and Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron in "High School Musical 3."

The ceremony will be hosted by Andy Samberg and feature musical performances from Kings of Leon and Eminem. The MTV Generation Award, the ceremony's highest honor, will be presented to Ben Stiller. Two new categories are set to debut at this year's show: best song from a movie and best WTF moment, which honors the most jaw-dropping movie moment of the year.

Other golden popcorn trophies will be awarded in such categories as best villain, best comedic performance and best fight. In addition to handing out awards for movies from the past year, MTV is promising to debut new footage from upcoming films "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," "New Moon" and "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" during the ceremony.

Presenters scheduled to hand out golden popcorn trophies Sunday include Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Denzel Washington, Cameron Diaz, Ryan Reynolds, Sandra Bullock, Sienna Miller, Channing Tatum, Bradley Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Danny McBride, Will Ferrell, Leighton Meester, Jonah Hill and Lil Wayne.

by the associated press

Octuplets mom get TV show

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Southern California woman who gave birth to the world's longest-surviving set of octuplets has signed a deal to star in a reality television series, her lawyer said Sunday.

Nadya Suleman, who gave birth to the six boys and two girls in January and also has six other children, agreed to be filmed for a proposed television show by 3Ball Productions, attorney Jeff Czech said.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Amsterdam-based Eyeworks International, hasn't yet sold the show to any American television network, he said.

The show will be modeled after a successful Eyeworks TV series in Denmark that documents the lives of four children from the day they were born until they become adults.

"They came up with this idea, presented to her and she liked it because she'll get to use a camera and do some of the filming herself," Czech told The Associated Press.

He said film crews will not follow Suleman and her children 24 hours a day, but will document certain milestones such as birthdays and special events.

"It'll be less intrusive than a reality TV type of program," Czech said.

A call to 3Ball wasn't immediately returned Sunday. The Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based company is the creator such reality TV shows as "The Biggest Loser," "For Love Or Money" and "Beauty & The Geek."

by the associated press

Kimora Lee Simmons having baby boy

NEW YORK (AP) — It's a boy for former fashion model Kimora Lee Simmons and actor Djimon (JAI'-mon) Hounsou (Hahn-SOO').

Simmons announced the birth Saturday on her Twitter feed. A representative for Simmons says both she and her newborn son are doing great. No further details were immediately available.

The 34-year-old Simmons has two daughters with 51-year-old hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, whom she divorced in 2008 after seven years of marriage.

Kimora Lee Simmons is CEO of Phat Fashions, a clothing design company that her ex-husband founded. She has also been the focus of a reality television show and has been a judge on "America's Next Top Model."

Benin-born actor Hounsou has been nominated for two Academy Awards, including for his role in "Blood Diamond."

by the associated press

Raimi turns to the Dark Side

CANNES, France (AP) — When it came to watching horror movies as a kid, Sam Raimi was a scaredy cat.

Raimi, who staked his reputation on the low-budget terror tale "The Evil Dead" and its two follow-ups, has taken a break from his blockbuster "Spider-Man" franchise to return to his horror roots with "Drag Me to Hell." He never liked fright flicks growing up, though.

In an interview at the Cannes Film Festival, where "Drag Me to Hell" played ahead of its theatrical release Friday, Raimi recalled seeing the 1972 thriller "The Others," about a good boy with an evil, undead twin.

"I started screaming in the theater, and my mother realized she had made a mistake to take me there," Raimi said. "I was ruining the theater for everybody. I was the worst horror movie audience, because I would be so vocal and too scared."

In college, though, Raimi, acting pal Bruce Campbell and producing partner Rob Tapert decided horror was the way to break into the business, since scary movies were the only low-budget films generally shown in theaters in the late 1970s.

Tapert, a producer on "Drag Me to Hell," took Raimi to see John Carpenter's "Halloween," then asked if he could make a horror movie as good as that.

"I said, `Uh, no, I definitely can't make a movie that good.' I had no idea how good these things were," Raimi said. "I didn't know that was the exceptionally good picture for horror. But then I kept watching drive-in movies to learn how they were put together, and I realized, I can make a movie as good as some of these, actually."

"The Evil Dead," starring Campbell among a group of friends who unleash an ancient force that zombifies them on a trip to the woods, was shot on a tiny $380,000 budget.

Its mix of gore, terror and laughs helped make it a cult classic. Raimi has maintained a similar blend of thrills and humor in such movies as "Darkman," "A Simple Plan" and "The Quick and the Dead."

The same is true of "Drag Me to Hell," starring Alison Lohman as a bank loan officer damned by a gypsy curse. During a close-quarters fight with the old crone who condemns her, Lohman's character suddenly finds herself being gummed on the chin by the hag, whose dentures have been knocked out.

"Sam has such a great imagination," Lohman said. "What he comes up with is just, it's very witty, but at the same time it's just off the wall. You come to work, and you have to be suckled by this woman's mouth on my chin. It's just so weird."

Raimi and his collaborators initially could not land a U.S. distributor to release "The Evil Dead." Success only came after they brought the movie to the sales market at the Cannes festival, where deals with French and British distributors led to a U.S. release.

For his return to Cannes, Raimi was part of the official program; "Drag Me to Hell" had a glitzy red-carpet premiere at the Palais, the festival headquarters. Raimi said he worried his little horror tale might besmirch the reputation of the world's most prestigious film fest.

"I just assumed they had a much fancier, higher caliber of pictures here. I'm a little disappointed," Raimi joked. "I just didn't know what kind of crowd there would be, if they would be slightly resentful that the committee that chose these pictures chose something like this to bring to the Palais, but apparently, their standards have lowered. No, I never saw such a great audience. A great audience that wanted to love cinema. So my fears were misplaced."

by the associated press

Actress Lori Petty arrested for suspicion of DUI

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police in Los Angeles say "Point Break" actress Lori Petty has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after she struck and injured a skateboarder.

Police spokesman Bruce Borihanh (BORE'-ee-hahn) says the 45-year-old Petty was arrested Saturday night in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles. He says the unidentified skateboarder was treated for injuries at the scene.

Petty was booked into jail early Sunday and released after posting $100,000 bail.

A call to her manager was not immediately returned.

Petty was the star of the 1995 movie "Tank Girl" and has also appeared in "Point Break" and "A League of Their Own."

by the associated press

Brad Pitt has fun with Actor Mel Gibson About DUI Arrest

Move over, George Clooney.

Looks like Brad Pitt has found a new celeb to heckle: Mel Gibson.

The actor poked fun at Gibson's 2006 DUI arrest at Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards Saturday in L.A.

See what Brad Pitt and other stars looked like before they were famous

Just before the show began, Pitt entered the room and sat in a booth off to the side of the stage with Fight Club costar Ed Norton and the film's director David Fincher.

Gibson opened the show riding in on a horse and wearing a Viking helmet. He then introduced Fight Club, which was inducted into the Guy Hall of Fame.

"Thanks, sugar t---!" Pitt told Gibson as he accepted the honor. (When he was arrested for DUI, Gibson reportedly called a female police officer "sugar t---.")

Did you know these stars (including Brad Pitt) had secret stripper pasts?

Pitt, Norton and Fincher then read all of the bad reviews of Fight Club and cheered at each criticism.

After plugging his upcoming movie, the intentionally misspelled Inglourious Basterds, Pitt told the crowd, "Thank you for the greatest moment of my [expletive] life!" He stayed on stage for a few more seconds, pumping his fists above his head and egging on the audience to scream.

Check out Brad Pitt and other celebs who have had "bromances"

Before leaving, Pitt posed for photos backstage with Gibson and actress Halle Berry. He then darted out a side door where his car was waiting.

from US mag

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Boyle finishes 2nd in reality show

LONDON (AP) — She gave a final curtsey, a shimmy of her hips, and walked off stage, leaving the winners to perform an encore. But it's unlikely that finishing second on "Britain's Got Talent" Saturday night to a dance troupe called "Diversity" will be the end of Susan Boyle's showbiz dream.

The 48-year-old church volunteer became an Internet phenomenon after she auditioned for the television talent show, her show-stopping voice combining with her frumpy appearance to make her a must-see on YouTube.

For the finals, she returned to the song that made her famous, "I Dreamed a Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables." She wore a glamorous but modest sparkly floor-length dress, and her once-grey frizzy hair was a soft brown halo.

She appeared more polished and animated than in previous performances, but seemed uncomfortable during banter with the judges after her song. Judge Simon Cowell said Boyle had a rough brush with fame, but that she was "a nice, shy person who wants a break."

The week leading up to Saturday's performance had been a tumultuous one for Boyle. She lost her cool during a confrontation with two reporters, and the police intervened. Another contest judge said Boyle had contemplated pulling out of the program to soothe her frazzled nerves.

"A lot of people said you shouldn't even be in this competition, that you weren't equipped to deal with it," Cowell said. "I totally disagree with that.

"You had the guts to come back here and face your critics and you beat them."

Asked about her career plans after the show, Boyle told broadcaster ITV that she hoped to get an album out, and will "just play it by ear."

Millions tuned in to the live program and voted by telephone afterward.

Boyle's hometown of Blackburn, Scotland — a working-class village about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Edinburgh — rallied round her, stringing up signs declaring their support. Her defeat was greeted with shouts of "no" and gasps of disbelief at the Happy Valley Hotel, where neighbors and friends had gathered to watch the program.

"She lost because people didn't bother voting for her because they thought she was going to win it," lamented 21-year-old Gordon Mackenzie. "I didn't vote for her because I thought everyone else would."

Boyle was up against a host of everyman acts determined to find stardom on reality television, including a 12-year-old whose voice was compared to Michael Jackson's, an 11-year-old body-popping dancer, and a grandfather-grandaughter singing duo.

Winning group "Diversity" are a 10-person dance troupe who range in age from 12 to 25-years-old. Their act won praise throughout the competition, but they weren't seen as front-runners. Their victory earned them 100,000 pounds ($159,000), and the right to perform for Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Show in December.

It was Boyle who had always been expected to win, and British bookmaker William Hill offered 10-11 odds on her victory Saturday. The betting service had briefly lowered its odds when the reports of erratic behavior seemed to show "there might be a chink in her armor," according to spokesman Rupert Adams. But he said William Hill "got absolutely hammered" with bets and quickly went back to predicting a Boyle victory.

Boyle's entree into the limelight has been viewed millions of times, the fifth-most watched clip in history on YouTube. And it was a moment that has become reality show history.

She introduced herself on camera as someone who lived alone with her cat, Pebbles — neighbors and relatives were taking turns looking after the feline while Boyle was in London for the show — and who had never been kissed.

Those details combined with her matronly appearance sent the audience into titters when she walked on stage.

But then she began to sing. And as Boyle hit a high note at the end of her song's first line, Cowell's eyebrows rose along with her voice.

by the associated press

Travolta still struggling with son's passing

LOS ANGELES - One of John Travolta's co-stars says the actor is still "struggling" to cope with the loss of his son, six months after the teen's death.

Denzel Washington, who stars with Travolta in the upcoming remake of "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3," spoke with Travolta earlier this month and says, "needless to say, he's struggling."

Washington says "more than talking to him," he "listened to him for about two or three hours."

He says "it's going to take time" and asks "what can you say? Just be there as a friend because he's such a sweet, sweet person."

The chronically ill Jett Travolta died in January after he suffered a seizure at a family vacation home in the Bahamas.

by the associated press

'Slumdog' star spared in new demolition

MUMBAI, India (AP) — City authorities demolished the homes around the recently rebuilt shack of "Slumdog Millionaire" child star Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail but left his standing Saturday.

A bulldozer and about 30 men leveled about 18 shanties in the section of the Garib Nagar — "city of the poor" — slum where Azhar, 10, and his family live. They left another dozen partially standing.

Azhar's was untouched.

The city tore down the same homes, including Azhar's, 16 days ago. The next week, authorities leveled the nearby lane where "Slumdog" co-star Rubina Ali lived.

By Saturday, most residents in Garib Nagar had finished rebuilding their makeshift shacks, often by taking out high-interest loans from local moneylenders.

Azhar's father, Mohammed Ismail, said their home was spared because authorities knew about his son's role in the Oscar-winning movie.

"Azhar has got an award. They respect that. I appreciate it. When they first demolished our house, they didn't know," Ismail said as he sat in the shack, recently tacked together from sheets of cheap metal, torn tarpaulins and blankets.

The state's top official on Friday granted government apartments to both Azhar and Rubina, paid for with funds from the local chapter of the ruling Congress party. "Slumdog" filmmakers have also promised them homes. The families are now trying to figure out if they'll be able to keep both.

Azhar said he'd like two apartments — one for himself and one for his parents — but also wants all his neighbors to get houses too.

"Before giving me a home, they should give it to my friends," he said.

Eight-year-old Mahejbin Qureshi stood near a pile of broken boards and bent nails, all that remained of her home after a bulldozer shoved it into the fetid river that runs through Garib Nagar.

"They broke my home," she said, tears streaming down her face as she held her baby brother in her arms.

U.D. Mistry, an official with the city's Bombay Municipal Corporation, said the huts were destroyed because they were illegal. He said Azhar's was spared because his family can prove they lived in Garib Nagar before 1995, which gives them some property rights.

Mistry said the city has no plans to provide homes to any other residents.

"There is no policy to relocate them because these huts are illegal," he said.

But neighbors say they too have proof of residence before 1995.

"I have a ration card. My name is on the electoral rolls. I have electricity bills," said a distraught Sayeda Abdulrahman Shaikh, a 30-year-old mother of five. "I showed them, but they destroyed my house anyway."

Like many of the children of Garib Nagar, her son Salman, 12, was an extra in "Slumdog Millionaire."

"We worked with Azhar. If they are getting houses, why not me?" Salman asked, sweating in the hot sun. "We are being ignored."

by the associated press

Phil Spector sentenced, might spend life in prison

LOS ANGELES (AP) — There was no soundtrack for the final scene of pop maestro Phil Spector's criminal case.

Spector, 69, said nothing as he was sentenced Friday to 19 years to life in prison for the second-degree murder of Lana Clarkson, a one-time B-movie actress who was shot through the mouth in Spector's castle-like mansion six years ago.

Now Spector, the difficult genius whose "Wall of Sound" production technique turned pop songs into mini-symphonies in the 1960s, may spend the rest of his life in prison.

Spector, who would not be eligible for parole until he is 88, showed no emotion before being led away to prison.

Spector's lawyers spent two trials and millions of dollars arguing that Clarkson killed herself while battling depression. They vowed to appeal.

His family seemed as divided as the jurors who had deadlocked at his first trial.

"This is a sad day for everybody involved," said Spector's 28-year-old wife, Rachelle. "The Clarkson family has lost a daughter and a sister. I've lost my husband, my best friend. I feel that a grave injustice has been done and from this day forward I'm going to dedicate myself to proving my husband's innocence."

"I'm torn about this," said Spector's son, Louis. "I'm losing my father who is going to spend his life in jail. At the same time, justice is served."

Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler sentenced Spector to the mandatory 15 years to life in prison, added a four-year enhancement for personal use of a gun and imposed more than $26,000 in restitution fees.

Spector's attorney, Doron Weinberg, asked that his client quickly be transferred from Los Angeles County jail to a state prison.

Weinberg said Spector had surgery this week for precancerous polyps on his vocal cords and correctional authorities are prepared to deal with his multiple medical issues.

"The faster he can get to his ultimate destination, he can get organized and start to live the rest of his life," Weinberg said. "He will be a very high-profile inmate and there's a question of how others will treat him."

In his heyday in the early and mid-1960s, Spector produced dozens of hits, including The Ronette's "Be My Baby," The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" and The Righteous Brothers' classic, "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin.'" Spector also worked on the Beatles album "Let It Be" and John Lennon's album, "Imagine."

His "Wall of Sound" used orchestrations and sometimes dozens of microphones to producer a dense, echoing sound that influenced everyone from The Beach Boys to Bruce Springsteen.

But Spector also had a troubled reputation. In the 1970s, he got probation for possessing and brandishing a gun. Singer Leonard Cohen once said the producer held a gun to his chest.

Clarkson, 40, didn't know Spector's musical legacy when she met him only hours before she died at his Alhambra "castle" in February 2003. The star of Roger Corman's 1985 cult film classic "Barbarian Queen" was working as a hostess at the House of Blues nightclub on the Sunset Strip, where she had to be told by a manager that Spector was an important man.

She was later found at his mansion in suburban Alhambra, slumped in a chair in a foyer. A gun had been fired in her mouth.

Spector's chauffeur, the key witness, said he heard a gunshot, then saw Spector emerge holding a gun and heard him say: "I think I killed somebody."

Spector had two trials with essentially the same evidence. The first ended in a jury deadlock and the second with his conviction for second-degree murder.

Much of the case hinged on the testimony of five women from Spector's past who said he threatened them with guns when they tried to leave his presence.

The forewoman of the jury that convicted Spector was at the sentencing Friday.

"It's still sort of heavy on the heart," Irma Soto-Lopez said. "I feel sorry for both families."

Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson had no sympathy for Spector.

"He's getting exactly what he deserved," Jackson said.

by the associated press

Jolie hospitalized

NEW YORK (AP) — A spokesman for Columbia Pictures says Angelina Jolie is back on the set of her latest movie after a brief trip to the hospital for a minor bump to the head.

Jolie sustained the injury Friday while filming an action sequence on Long Island in New York, where her upcoming thriller "Salt" is being shot.

Studio Spokesman Steve Elzer says the actress was taken to a local hospital, examined and released as a precautionary measure.

Elzer says she was back on the set Friday and production has resumed.

by the associated press

Friday, May 29, 2009

Levi Johnston says his relations with Bristol Palin are improving

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Levi Johnston says his relations with Bristol Palin and her family are improving.

The 19-year-old Johnston tells GQ magazine in a story posted on its Web site Thursday that the Palins aren't "lying when they say that things are better."

Johnston fathered a child with Bristol, the 18-year-old daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate. But since the couple broke off their engagement, he has complained in national interviews that the Palins were limiting his access to his son Tripp, born Dec. 27.

Johnston also claims in the GQ article that Sarah Palin's husband, Todd Palin, offered to buy Bristol a new car if she broke off the relationship.

An e-mail sent to a Palin family spokeswoman was not returned Thursday.

by the associated press

Ozzy Osbourne sues in NYC

Ozzy Osbourne sues in NYC over Black Sabbath name
1 hour ago

NEW YORK (AP) — Ozzy Osbourne has accused former Black Sabbath band mate Tony Iommi (eye-OH'-mee) in a New York City court of taking over the heavy metal titans' name and costing him royalties from merchandise sales.

Osbourne sued the guitarist earlier this week and issued a statement Friday imploring him to "do the right thing."

Osbourne filed suit Tuesday in a federal court in New York. The suit says Iommi falsely claimed to have sole rights to Black Sabbath's trademark in recent negotiations with a company that sells the band's merchandise.

Lawyers who have represented Iommi haven't responded to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment. But Iommi noted in a separate lawsuit against the merchandise firm that he's been the only constant member in the 40-year history of the band, known for such hits as "Iron Man."

by the associated press

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Leno gets set to leave

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — It took a radio disc jockey to remind Jay Leno where he'll stand in "Tonight Show" history when he walks off the stage for the last time Friday.

Leno was at the wheel of one of his famous vintage cars when he heard the DJ conduct a pop quiz: Who's the second-longest-running host of "Tonight," after Johnny Carson?

"The guy on the radio actually got it before I did," Leno said Thursday, smiling. "It just sort of made me laugh. I went, `Oh, that's pretty good.'"

Maybe even better than good?

"I come from `pretty good,'" replied Leno, unfailingly modest in interviews. "If somebody wants to say even better, that's great."

He will have posted an impressive 17 years as "Tonight" host, but well short of Carson's three decades that ended with his retirement in May 1992. Leno debuted as "Tonight" host a few days later.

He leaves the show atop the late-night ratings, his run abbreviated by NBC's decision five years ago to create a succession plan that gives "Tonight" to Conan O'Brien.

On the eve of his final two shows, Leno strikes an unsentimental tone. But he knows what he's leaving behind as he moves to a new, untested 10 p.m. EDT daily prime-time show for NBC this fall.

"Will I miss it? Yes, terribly. It's the most wonderful job ever in show business," he said of "Tonight," which started in 1954 with Steve Allen as host.

Unlike the solitary road life of a typical standup comedian, telling jokes to an audience of maybe 100 or so, Leno said, he had the chance to make millions of viewers laugh — and then go home each night to his wife.

In a conference room at NBC's studio, a bulletin board typically filled with lists of guests and comedy bits for upcoming shows is nearly bare, down to the final two shows. "Prince," read one red card for Thursday, when the pop star was set to guest.

Prince's baby-blue Bentley was parked in the studio lot, near the backstage entrance and next to one of Leno's prized vehicles, an eye-catching red pickup truck.

In the lunch room, the staff raids boxes of snack cakes, topped by a sign indicating they were compliments of Lyle Lovett, a guest earlier this week.

Starting Monday, at a newly built studio at nearby Universal City, O'Brien will be the man in charge of "Tonight."

Leno declined to give advice to O'Brien, whom he called "a terrific guy" and a friend.

"He'll bring his sensibility" to the show, Leno said.

Over the years, the two have called to commiserate privately after a "dreadful" guest visited "Tonight" or O'Brien's "Late Night," Leno said.

"Hopefully, we'll continue to do that," he said. After all, the two are enjoying an amicable transition.

"That's what's great about these American democracy things. We can peacefully hand over talk shows without looting and rioting," Leno joked.

This summer, he'll continue doing his standup appearances that filled his weekends during his "Tonight" reign. More importantly, he'll get ready for the new show that, he acknowledges, will face stiff competition in prime-time.

"It'll be really tricky. But we'll just do the best we can," Leno said.

NBC is owned by General Electric Co.

by the associated press

Susan Boyle loses ?

LONDON (AP) — A spokeswoman for Susan Boyle said Thursday that the Britain's Got Talent finalist lost her cool after being harassed by journalists at a London hotel. The spokeswoman said the golden-voiced and fluffy-haired singer, who became an overnight sensation after appearing on the show, was left distressed after being taunted by two reporters at the Wembley Plaza Hotel on Wednesday.

"Two journalists were harassing her and pushed her (Boyle) over the edge. She was left slightly distressed and the journalists were removed from the building by police," the spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity because she represents all of the contestants on the show.

The spokeswoman gave no further details of how Boyle was harassed or what she said.

One of the show's judges, Piers Morgan, said Boyle was under a great deal of pressure.

"You could see the nerves almost crippling her on the semifinal show, and I just think it's time that everyone slightly backed off," he said in an interview on the LBC 97.3 radio station Thursday.

The spokeswoman was responding to questions about a Sun newspaper report Thursday.

The newspaper said she swore using four-letter words after two strangers set out to aggravate her and that police came up to ask her if there was a problem. It reported that Boyle stormed out of the hotel and spoke to police in the parking lot. It printed a photograph of her talking to a police officer.

The Scottish singer, who suffered learning difficulties as a child and was bullied by other children, is the overwhelming favorite in Saturday's Britain's Got Talent finals. The show is expected to draw millions of viewers in Britain, where it will be broadcast live.

by the associated press

Rihanna will come to Chris Brown hearing

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rihanna is among the witnesses whom prosecutors plan to call during a hearing in Chris Brown's assault case, an attorney said Thursday.

Donald Etra, Rihanna's lawyer, told reporters that prosecutors have told him the Barbados-born singer will receive a subpoena to testify at a preliminary hearing June 22. The hearing will focus on whether there is enough evidence to continue the case against Brown.

Etra said Rihanna will comply with the order. It would mark her first appearance in court since felony assault and criminal threats charges were filed against Brown in March.

If she is called to testify, the 21-year-old singer would be subject to cross-examination by Brown's attorney, Mark Geragos.

Other potential witnesses have not been named, but will likely include police investigators.

Brown was arrested in February on suspicion of hitting and choking Rihanna in a rented car hours before the couple were scheduled to appear at the Grammys.

Etra wouldn't address their relationship now, but said Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, was following the case closely.

A judge on Thursday rejected a motion by Geragos to receive police and investigative records related to the case and the apparent leak of a photo of a beaten and bruised Rihanna.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg told Geragos the motion was premature and he could file it again after the preliminary hearing.

Brown wasn't in court Thursday, but he's required to attend the preliminary hearing. The 20-year-old R&B singer faces possible sentences that range from probation to nearly five years in prison if convicted.

Geragos argued that he should have access to the records to properly cross-examine police witnesses during the preliminary hearing. He also said intense public interest in the case should require the records' release.

Schnegg said Brown's fame wasn't an issue she was going to consider. She also called Geragos' motion "a fishing expedition."

She also said the records, which Geragos wants to use to search for police bias or misconduct, don't have anything to do with Brown's arrest. She said officers responded to a 911 call and the "Run It!" singer was arrested well before the photo of Rihanna's battered face was posted by celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.

by the associated press

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Robert Pattinson New Moon Star without his Shirt

We may not get photos of Rob and Kristen's real-life makeout seshes, but this reunion kiss while filming New Moon in Italy leaves little to the imagination. Like, get a life, folks who still think nothing's going on in private Robstenville.

Robsten was intensely filming some of the final scenes for their flick, and, well, they must be really good Method actors or something 'cause Kristen is supposedly still with her boyfriend, Michael, right?

Reports say he's over there in Italia, so that must mean Kristen and M are really together! Uh, we told you Angarano wasn't going to be yesterday's dumpee news without a fight…

Interesting to note, too, that Kristen's IMDb page is reporting that her current boyfriend is none other than...costar Robert Pattinson! So how legit is that? Did her talent team change it? Does that mean Robsten is official? We've reached out to Stewart's rep to see what the deal is there and have yet to hear back.

But in the meantime, enjoy the hotness that is Robert Pattinson shirtless, jamming his tongue down Kristen's throat. We hear from New Moon experts that Robsten's expertly getting the vampire-blood thirstiness back on, yum-yum for the anticipatory tum!

The hand pulling up the shirt is quite the nice addendum, as well. Doubt that was in the script. Not exactly in the PG age range, now is it?

from E.com

NBC makes history

NEW YORK (AP) — NBC set a low-water mark of historic proportions for TV viewership last week.

The network averaged 4.4 million prime-time viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

While it's not the smallest ever recorded by ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox, it's the smallest to come in a week outside of the summer doldrums of June, July, August or early September.

Only once before has NBC been lower, during August 2007, Nielsen said. The company's precise records go back to the advent of "people meters" in 1987, but given how dominant broadcast networks were before then, it's likely NBC hasn't had such a small audience since the early days of television.

The traditional TV season ended last Wednesday, meaning three days last week fell during the May ratings sweeps.

The first three days last week were dominated by the season conclusions of TV's two most popular series, Fox's "American Idol" and ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." NBC did the television equivalent of waving a white flag, airing shows like "Deal or No Deal" and "Most Outrageous Moments."

More specifically dedicated summer programming hasn't started yet, so it was an in-between week for the network.

Still, it's a sign of how hard NBC must work to get out of its rut. None of its prime-time programs last week reached even 7 million viewers. NBC's most popular prime-time show was "Law & Order: SVU," ranked No. 25 for the week. By contrast, Brian Williams' "Nightly News" averaged more than 7 million.

"American Idol" reached 28.8 million viewers for its crowning moment last week — down from past season-enders but still enough to make the contest TV's most popular show by a comfortable margin.

That enabled Fox to win the weekly prime-time ratings, averaging 10.2 million viewers (5.9 rating, 11 share). CBS had 8.9 million viewers (5.7, 10), ABC 7.3 million (4.7, 8), NBC 4.4 million (3.0, 5), the CW 1.4 million (1.0, 2), My Network TV 1.3 million (0.9, 2) and ION Television 540,000 (0.4, 1)

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision had 3.4 million viewers (1.8, 3), Telemundo 1.2 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura 780,000 (0.4, 1) and Azteca 290,000 (0.2, 0).

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.3 million viewers (4.9, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 6.9 million (4.6, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.6 million viewers (3.9, 8).

A ratings point represents 1,145,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.5 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of May 18-24, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "American Idol," (Wednesday), Fox, 28.84, "American Idol" (Tuesday), Fox, 23.82 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results" (ABC), 20.31 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 19.17 million; "The Mentalist," CBS, 16.82 million; "NCIS," CBS, 16.51 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 16.18 million; "CSI: Miami," CBS, 14.2 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 13.99 million; "Rules of Engagement," CBS, 12.87 million.

ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by General Electric Co. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.

by the associated press

Relapse’ Eminem

Eminem, above, has been absent from the pop scene for almost five years, but the strong sales last week for his comeback album, “Relapse” (Interscope), prove that he is still a star. “Relapse” is Eminem’s fifth consecutive release to open at No.

1 on the Billboard chart, with 608,000 copies sold. That is also the best opening-week sales of any album this year, beating the 484,000 that U2 racked up for “No Line on the Horizon” in March. Last week’s top seller, Green Day’s “21st Century Breakdown” (Reprise), dropped to No. 2 in its second week out, with 166,000 in sales.

New releases take up the next three spots on the Top 10: Kenny Chesney’s “Greatest Hits II” (BNA) reached No. 3 with 89,000 in sales; Dane Cook’s comedy album “Isolated Incident” (Comedy Central) was No. 4 with 61,000; and Busta Rhymes’s new “Back on My B.S.” (Universal Motown) was No. 5 with 59,000.

Broadway grosses higher in '08-'09 season

NEW YORK (AP) — Even during a recession, Broadway managed to hold its own.

Grosses for plays and musicals during the 2008-2009 season were a bit higher than the previous year. That set a new record, although attendance slipped during the 52-week period.

The Broadway League, an industry trade association, says the season's 43 shows grossed about $943.3 million, compared to $937.5 the year before. It was the highest number of new productions since 50 opened during the 1982-1983 season.

Attendance was 12.15 million, compared to 12.27 million during the 2007-2008 season.

The League's figures were approximate after factoring in estimated grosses for the now-closed "Young Frankenstein." The Mel Brooks musical, which folded in January after a year's run, did not release its weekly grosses.

by the associated press

James Bond and Wolverine on Broadway

NEW YORK (AP) — Together again for the first time — Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig — on stage.

Nothing has been officially confirmed but two of Hollywood's reigning hunks may be paired next fall on Broadway in "A Steady Rain," a two-character drama by Keith Huff.

The New York Post reported Wednesday the actors were set to star in the play about two Chicago policemen, friends since childhood, whose lives take divergent paths after an unnerving incident.

"A Steady Rain" was a big hit in Chicago in September 2007 at a small theater and transferred the following year to another venue for a commercial run.

The Chicago Tribune called the play an "exceptionally rich, gritty and emotional drama ... it will get you right where you live," while the Chicago Sun-Times cheered its "action-packed storytelling."

Huff, who has a master's from the University of Iowa's Playwright's Workshop, has extensive regional theater credits. "A Steady Rain" would be his Broadway debut. A telephone call to his agent, John Buzzetti, seeking confirmation of the production, was not returned.

"A Steady Rain" would also be the New York stage debut for Craig, who skyrocketed to film stardom as the latest cinematic James Bond. Jackman, the movies' Wolverine from all the "X-Men" movies, proved to be a major Broadway box-office draw five years ago, playing entertainer Peter Allen in the musical "The Boy from Oz."

The Post said "A Steady Rain" would be produced by Barbara Broccoli, whose father was Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, who began the enormously lucrative James Bond film franchise.

In a video posted in January on YouTube, Huff talked about casting "A Steady Rain" with famous actors. The playwright told Chicago-based writer Mark Bazer: "I think it would be kind of cool to see Daniel Craig do it. My wife would be happy."

by the associated press

Jay Leno near Current Call

Jay Leno nears the end of his 'Tonight Show' road
By FRAZIER MOORE – 15 hours ago

NEW YORK (AP) — An appraisal of a veteran talk-show host and comedian should have lots to say about his funniness.

Let's just credit Jay Leno with persistence.

On Friday, Leno surrenders his job as host of NBC's "Tonight Show" after 17 years. It's a job he won against stiff competition. Then, early in his run, it's a job he defended against NBC bosses who were having second thoughts.

Since the mid-1990s, he has won the late-night ratings war. With a smile on his face and never a complaint, he has worked tirelessly. (No one could believe it when he took a couple of sick days recently, his first while at "Tonight.")

And even now, with Conan O'Brien set to take over Monday (thanks to NBC's transition plan that made Leno a late-night lame duck five years ago), he isn't really leaving. He's moving up. Next fall, "The Jay Leno Show" will premiere on NBC weeknights at 10 p.m. Eastern.

At age 59, Leno is graduating from late night to what used to be perceived as TV's big time. NBC has made him lord of nearly one-fourth of its crumbling prime-time manor.

But as his "Tonight Show" tenure comes to an end, what is his mark on that hallowed institution?

Uhhhhh, what to say, what to say?

It's so much easier to speak about the three hosts who preceded him.

Steve Allen (1954-57) gets credit for no less than inventing late night, down to the desk and couch. Allen was bespectacled and brainy, with a mischievous wit that would be felt in late-night long after he was gone.

Jack Paar (1957-62) was impishly well-spoken, boundlessly inquisitive and urbane in unpredictable ways — he could blow his top or shed sentimental tears, and still seem suave.

Johnny Carson (the king of Late Night, whose reign began in 1962) put America to bed for 30 years. The things he joked about in his monologue; the guests he welcomed to his couch — he was a major cultural arbiter, a unifying force. America slept better after watching him.

Since May 25, 1992, Jay Leno has sat at the desk.

Make no mistake, he has been a sturdy placeholder. Big chin, unfailingly likable. The sort of regular guy with whom his audience identifies.

And with whom his guests feel peace of mind, knowing Jay will handle them with care.

Jay handles everyone with care — most of all, his 5 million viewers.

Consider how he cares for them in every monologue. He delivers each joke as if for slow learners, with its punch line underlined, reiterated, explained. His policy is clear: No Viewer Left Behind.

Without fail, Leno's show fills an hour and kills an hour. It never challenges its viewers by daring to do more. It's stable and dependable, with nothing left to chance or the viewer's imagination. No danger of a comedy breakthrough here.

Small wonder David Letterman, not Leno, has always been the spiritual successor to Johnny Carson. As Leno's rival over on CBS, Letterman hosts "Late Show" with the mastery befitting a post-Carson "Tonight."

He will continue to do so, just as he has for nearly 16 years. No torch is being passed while Dave's on duty. At NBC, what's happening is musical chairs.

As of next week, "Tonight" will star Conan, while Jay gets ready for prime time.

"We can hope that Jay expands his audience from 11:30," said NBC boss Ben Silverman recently, citing prime time's larger pool of available viewers. "But we'd be happy even at the same rate."

A late-night talk show sprawled across prime time: It's a bold plan. Also a fascinating exercise in lowered expectations, with Leno the right man to give it a shot. After all, for 17 years in late night he has vigorously played a game of lowered expectations, and met them.

That could sum up his "Tonight Show" legacy

by the associated press

Chris Brown sued by photographer for bodyguard fight

LOS ANGELES (AP) — On the day Chris Brown took to YouTube to say he's "not a monster," a photographer sued the R&B singer, saying Brown's bodyguards beat him as he tried to take pictures at a gym.

Robert Rosen sued Brown and LA Fitness International, claiming he was assaulted by a bodyguard after snapping pictures in a gym in Universal City. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for multiple claims, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

The suit states Rosen snapped photos of Brown and friends on the basketball court at the LA Fitness on May 13, roughly a month after the singer's arrest for allegedly assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna. Brown has pleaded not guilty in that case, which is scheduled for a hearing Thursday.

Rosen's lawsuit states he fell down a flight of stairs after being chased by Brown's bodyguards, who assaulted him. It does not allege violence by Brown.

Rosen also claims he was blocked from leaving the gym by a gym employee. A phone recording at LA Fitness' headquarters said the company was closed on Wednesday evening and did not allow a message to be left.

"This is a specious and frivolous lawsuit by one of the paparazzi seeking publicity and a payday," Brown's attorney, Mark Geragos, said in a statement. "He's done this before and lost. We will vigorously defend against this."

The filing does not state Rosen's employer, but a paparazzo with the same name filed a similar lawsuit against Pierce Brosnan in 2007. That suit was later dismissed. Rosen's attorney did not return a phone call Wednesday afternoon.

The lawsuit was filed on the same day Brown, 20, defended himself in a video posted on YouTube.

Brown is shown leaning in and speaking directly into the camera, which appears to be positioned in front of a bowling lane. He talks about his new album called "Graffiti," and a single expected this summer.

Then he says: "Everybody that's haters, they just been haters. All my real fans, I love you. I ain't a monster."

Brown, who's been charged with felony assault and making criminal threats against Rihanna on the night of the Grammy Awards in February, did not mention his former girlfriend.

It's not immediately clear when or where the video was shot. A publicist for Brown didn't immediately respond to a requests for comment Wednesday about the video.

by the associated press

Heath Ledger's final performance

CANNES, France (AP) — Heath Ledger's final performance has been presented at the Cannes Film Festival.

Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" stars Ledger as a slick-tongued man who falls in with a mysterious troupe offering a portal to fantasy worlds.

Ledger died after completing the real-world portions of the film. Gilliam finished the film with Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell taking Ledger's role in three trips to make-believe realities.

The movie closes with the dedication: "A film from Heath Ledger and friends."

by the associated press

Did AT&T fix American Idol

A flap over a few phones in Arkansas has forced American Idol to defend the validity of its voting procedures.
After reports surfaced that AT&T employees taught Kris Allen fans how to cast multiple votes by "power-texting" on demo phones, Fox and the show's producers issued a statement Wednesday reaffirming Allen's victory.

"The results of this competition are fair, accurate and verified," the statement read. "Kris Allen is, without a doubt, the American Idol. We have an independent third-party monitoring procedure in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process. In no way did any individuals unfairly influence the outcome of the competition."

Allen, 23, of Conway, Ark., the competition's underdog, beat out Adam Lambert, 27, of San Diego, who had been heavily favored to win Season 8.

At issue was a story from The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette describing how AT&T representatives brought about 80 phones to two viewing parties in Allen's hometown and Little Rock and showed fans how to cast 10 or more votes at a time via text-messaging.

In its own statement Tuesday, AT&T said a few local employees were invited to parties organized by the community and "provided texting tutorials to those who were interested."

"Going forward, we will make sure our employees understand our sponsorship celebrates the competition, not individual contestants. That said, it's quite a leap to suggest that a few individuals could have impacted the final results."

Idol, which releases limited information about its voting totals, has been dogged with questions about the process for years. The show encourages multiple votes by phone and texting but also runs a disclaimer saying block votes placed via "technical enhancements" can be thrown out. It's unclear whether power-texting would fall into that category or whether such votes would be counted.

Last year, host Ryan Seacrest said 12 million votes separated winner David Cook and second-place finisher David Archuleta. Though Seacrest announced that voting reached almost 100 million for this year's finale, he didn't reveal how those votes were split.

The lack of specifics has fueled rampant speculation and frustration among the show's die-hard fans.

"I don't think Kris won by two viewing parties," says Sue Brody, 46, an Adam Lambert supporter from Boston. "Now, if there were hundreds of viewing parties through the whole state, then there definitely is a problem."

AT&T and Idol could embrace the controversy as a way to keep viewers engaged in the show beyond the finale, says strategist Richard Levick.

"Say, 'OK, here's the vote differential; here's how many phones we gave away,' " says the CEO of Levick Strategic Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based public-relations firm. "If you've got a large disparity between the two, the issue clearly goes away. It's a mouse in a thunderstorm. But if it is a closer election, it's an exceptional marketing opportunity if handled properly."

from usa today

New Tomb Raider Movie

It was announced earlier this year that a Tomb Raider reboot was in the works. The rumor of Megan Fox replacing Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft was denied straight away by her spokesperson, but according to producer Dan Lin (who produced Terminator Salvation) they are still going to go for a younger Lara, so Jolie is definitely not coming back to reprise the role for a third time.

In an interview at the premiere of Terminator Salvation, Lin talked about various different movies he’s involved with, one of which was the Tomb Raider reboot. When asked about what we can expect from the movie, he replied that it won’t be of the same feel as the previous incarnation:

“…It’s a great origin story that we’re going to tell… more character orientated, more realistic than the past Lara Croft movies… It is an origin story, so it is a younger Lara Croft… It’s not full-on action, like Terminator, it’s character-driven action… For me, the Lara Croft movies and games have gone a little too action orientated… I want it to have action but with character.”

For the full video interview with Lin you can head over to About.com

I’m actually not totally against the idea of a Tomb Raider reboot, simply because they didn’t do all that they could have done with the existing one, and adding a third chapter to the current continuitywouldn’t do much good at this point.

However, I’m not in favor of what Lin is describing they’re doing with this reboot. I can’t see how he can complain that the previous movies (and particularly the games), are too action orientated: For one, the whole point of a video game is fun, entertaining action for you to control, and I think the movie version should keep to that spirit.

There are enough “realistic” and “dark” origin stories out there already without a newfound Tomb Raider series coming along and just doing the same thing again (it certainly didn’t work with Wolverine). There are certainly elements from the games, such as Lara’s history with her father, that can be drawn upon to be part of the new Tomb Raider movies. But it shouldn’t be the thing that the movie concentrates on - can they really bring anything new to the “realistic origin story” table?

As far as the possibility of Megan Fox being the new Lara Croft goes, although it was publicly denied by her spokesperson, it doesn’t necessarily mean she won’t ever be cast in the role. The denial was issued almost 6 months ago, but fast-forward to the present day and Miss Fox’s mind might have changed. I’m not sure about her acting ability (with the origin story angle, acting chops are a bit more important than they were for the previous movies), but what do you do when the story calls for a younger actress, and therefore excludes Angelina Jolie? Well, you get someone who rivals Jolie in the looks department, that’s what.

What is your opinion on the realistic origin story they are going to have in the Tomb Raider reboot? Should they just keep it action orientated, as the games are?


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

T.I. begins federal prison

FORREST CITY, Ark. (AP) — T.I. entered an Arkansas federal prison Tuesday to begin a year and a day sentence on a weapon charge.

The rapper made a concertlike entrance to the Forrest City low-security prison — showing up late inside of a black conversion van with tinted windows.

T.I. (real name: Clifford J. Harris Jr.) was to report at noon, but the deadline passed as guards outside blocked reporters and onlookers from coming near the facility on a rural state highway.

It was not immediately clear if T.I.'s late arrival would affect his plea deal with prosecutors.

Federal prison spokeswoman Linda Thomas said the Atlanta rapper would be known inside by guards as federal prison inmate No. 59458019.

Traci Billingsley, another prison spokeswoman, said the prison had no special protections prepared for the rapper. The low-security prison has double-bunked cells and a large fenced exercise yard, where inmates in white jumpsuits could be seen Tuesday morning.

"We treat all our offenders in the same manner," Billingsley said.

T.I., 28, was arrested after trying to buy unregistered machine guns and silencers from undercover federal agents in 2007. That came after the rapper's best friend was killed following a party in Cincinnati in 2006. The rapper has said the bullets that killed his friend were meant for him.

The self-proclaimed "King of the South," T.I. had faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge in his three-count indictment. However, he reached a plea deal with prosecutors after spending time on house arrest before his sentencing and speaking before community groups and high schools about the dangers of drugs, violence and guns.

Fans gathered down the road from the prison Tuesday and screamed "we love you, T.I!" when the black van pulled at the prison. Afterward, they shouted at TV cameras that "T.I. is the greatest!"

"We're still riding with the king!" yelled Porshe Tiswell, 22, of Forrest City.

Fan Eugene Smith, 24, of Forrest City defended T.I., saying the rapper feared for his life when he purchased the machine guns and silencers from federal agents.

"Somebody set him up, they snitched on him, so it's a whole different thing," Smith said. "We got to live a life, you know what I'm saying. We're out in the street life."

Upon his release, T.I. will be on probation for three years. He also must pay a $100,000 fine as part of his sentence.

His sixth album, "Paper Trail," has sold about 2 million copies and the rapper earned a Grammy for the song "Swagga Like Us" that he performed with Jay-Z. T.I. wrote the lyrics for the album while awaiting trial.

He performed Sunday in Atlanta and told the crowd he'd "see y'all in 366 days."

by the associated press

'Terminator Salvation': The shocking ending we do not see

Two weeks before Terminator Salvation hit theaters, the film's director, McG, sat in his L.A. production office for an interview with EW. He was talking about the swirl of rumors and gossip surrounding the film -- about how bloggers had posted all kinds of far-fetched speculation during production and how it drove him nuts.

And then, out of nowhere, McG smiles and says, "Here's something I've never talked about before...".

Now, before we go any further, there's some backstory about the movie's plot you'll need to know if you haven't already seen it. Terminator Salvation is set in the year 2018 -- after the apocalyptic Judgment Day, which was prophesied in the earlier films. There are three main characters in the story: John Connor (Christian Bale), the son of Sarah Connor who will lead the resistance against the evil Skynet; Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), the young resistance fighter who will grow up and eventually travel back in time (as seen in the 1984 original when Reese was played by Michael Biehn) to impregnate Sarah Connor with the young savior, John Connor; and Marcus Wright, a mysterious dude who's half human, half machine programmed by Skynet (the fact that he's unaware of this makes for some of the most poignant scenes in the film).

Okay, now back to McG's big, juicy secret. A secret, by the way, that Bale will back up as you read on.

"There was talk on the Internet about an alternate ending where Connor dies and they take Connor's likeness and put it on top of Marcus Wright's machine body. So that it's actually a machine that's leading the resistance! And the Internet caught wind of that and people went, 'That's bulls---! We don't want that!'"

McG grins. "Well, that's not really what the ending was."

Actually, the bloggers were on the right track. Except, McG adds, the original ending actually went even further.

"Connor dies, okay? He's dead," McG continues. "And Marcus offers his physical body, so Connor's exterior is put on top of his machine body. It looks like Connor, but it's really Marcus underneath. And all of the characters we care about (Kyle Reese, Connor's wife Kate, etc.) are brought into the room to see him and they think it's Connor. And Connor gets up and then there's a small flicker of red in his eyes and he shoots Kate, he shoots Kyle, he shoots everybody in the room. Fade to black. End of movie. Skynet wins. F--- you!"

F--- you, indeed.

We tell the director that this would be the darkest, bleakest summer blockbuster ending of all time. He agrees.

"It's the most nihilistic thing of all time. And Christian went f---ing crazy, of course. He was insistent that it be done that way! He wanted the bad guys to win! Can you imagine the oxygen going out of the theater?! What just happened! It would piss you off! But maybe two years from now, you'd think it was ballsy. But in the end, it just felt like too much of a bummer."

He pauses, thinking about the alternate ending that wasn't. "Maybe we blew it."

McG says the studio had signed off on this original dark-as-night ending. But something about it didn't smell right to him in the end. How could a movie with a reported budget of $200 million and a possible future of sequels possibly end that way?

EW sits down with Bale the next day and tells the star how McG let the cat out of the bag. Bale laughs. "There's not much McG can keep in, is there?"

Was he really, as McG says, gung-ho to shoot that everyone-dies ending?

"I'm not the director," says Bale. "There came to be a different option that almost everyone, except myself, felt was the better way to go. I took a bit of convincing, but you know, at the end of the day, you need a director to make that call."

But doesn't he think that his Salvation would have been a depressing bummer, not to mention suicide at the box office?

"Done the way I saw it? No. But am I disappointed with this one? No."

from entertainment weekly

'Buffy' back on big screen

Today's news that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" could be coming back to the big screen without TV head honcho Joss Whedon at the helm has already set off a firestorm of criticism. After all, it was Whedon who created the iconic characters for the original 1992 movie. While that film earned a mere 48 at Metacritic and a meager 33 at Rotten Tomatoes, five years later the screenwriter adapted it into the critically acclaimed TV series of the same name.

However, as per the Hollywood Reporter, "Roy Lee and Doug Davison of Vertigo Entertainment are working with original movie director Fran Rubel Kuzui and her husband, Kaz Kuzui, on what is being labeled a remake or relaunch, but not a sequel or prequel. While Whedon is the person most associated with 'Buffy,' Kuzui and her Kuzui Enterprises have held onto the rights since the beginning, when she discovered the 'Buffy' script from then-unknown Whedon." And, as the Reporter notes, "Kuzui later teamed with Gail Berman, then president of Sandollar Television, bringing back Whedon to make the TV series, which was produced by Fox TV and launched on the WB in 1997. Kuzui and Sandollar received executive producer credits on 'Buffy' and its spinoff, 'Angel.' "

In 2003, the Television Critics Assn. honored "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" with the prestigious Heritage Award as it signed off after seven seasons. During its long run on the WB and then UPN, the critics constantly chided the Emmy Awards for snubbing the show.

Out of 14 Emmy nods, "Buffy" won only two – for music and makeup in 1998. And it contended only once for a noncreative award when Joss Whedon earned a 2000 nod for writing (he lost to Aaron Sorkin and Rick Cleveland for an episode of "The West Wing.") When the show ended, the TV academy tried to make up with the cast and crew by throwing them a tribute, but star Sarah Michelle Gellar did not attend.

Since then, Whedon has created a comic book series "Buffy the Vampire Season Eight" that has sated the desire of fans to know what happened to the beloved characters. What will this devoted following make of a movie that does not include any of their favorites?

from goldderby.latimes.com

Adam Lambert likes the idea to be Queen's front-man

NEW YORK (AP) — Will he, will he rock you? Adam Lambert won't rule out a stint as the new frontman of Queen, but don't let that fool you into thinking the "American Idol" runner-up will make his living on the classic rock station. The legendary band has expressed interest in employing his formidable vocal skills, and Lambert is a big fan of the group once fronted by the late Freddie Mercury.

But the 27-year-old California native said Tuesday that he'd feel torn about joining the band.

"That's a tough question because, honestly, how do you say no to being in Queen?" said Lambert, sporting his trademark dark nail polish and blue-streaked hair. "I mean, that's unbelievable. But at the same time, I do have my own thing to do right now, and that's my goal. So if I could, I would try to do both. That's the honest question. I would try to do both. I would love to perform with them anytime they wanted me to but I also have my record to do. So, we'll see."

Lambert, a former theater actor, has ambitious plans for his post-"Idol" debut album.

"My record will be kind of a rock-pop-electronic-dance thing," he said. "I don't know how to describe it. I think it's gonna take on a life of its own, as far as genre goes."

The album is in the very early stages and Lambert aims to co-write much of the material.

On "Idol," Lambert was the resident glam rocker, staging elaborate, over-the-top performances and daring to don goth-inspired outfits (with guyliner) on an otherwise family-style show.

"There's a way to take the glam rock of the '70s and the classic rock of the '70s and kind of modernize it. ... I want it to be produced in a very very current, almost futuristic, way. So we're going to come up with something really fresh," he said.

The musical mix will include "sexy, dance-y, vibe-y" numbers and more emotional songs that "appeal to people that are going through a hard time or don't believe in themselves," he said.

"I want to communicate the liberation that is being comfortable in your own skin and that is being your own person," said Lambert, who has largely kept his personal life under wraps. "And the spirit of being different, and how strong that can make you feel."

Any dream collaborators?

"Madonna would be amazing," he gushes. "I'd love to work with Madonna — I think she's a genius. She has great ideas. Lady GaGa is brilliant. She's got her finger on the pulse. She's the hot thing right now. Katy Perry's amazing, absolutely amazing."

by associated press