Thursday Jul 30, 2015

Latest adaptation of 'Little Women' to give classic The CW treatment

Nineteenth century classic "Little Women" is being revisited once again as The CW looks to adapt Louisa May Alcott's novel.Following the four March sisters from youth to adulthood, "Little Women" allowed readers to enter the girls' worlds, experience the different challenges that faced them,...
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TV

Latest adaptation of 'Little Women' to give classic The CW treatment
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Latest adaptation of 'Little Women' to give classic The CW treatment

Nineteenth century classic "Little Women" is being revisited once again as The CW looks to adapt Louisa May Alcott's novel.Following the four March sisters from youth to adulthood, "Little Women" allowed readers to enter the girls' worlds, experience the different challenges that faced them, and did so without requiring each girl to pursue conventional romance. Main character Jo, in particular, has to answer questions about conformity and satisfaction in her choice of marriage partner, while the other sisters ask readers to consider their aims domestically, socially, and in terms of career success. The latest adaptation is being written by one of Hollywood's hot names, who has a number of high-profile scripts already finalized. American screenwriter Alexis Jolly has worked on Amazon Studios' Siberian romance "Tiger, Tiger;" penned one of 2013's most liked unproduced screenplays in Black List entry "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood;" and has wrestling drama "Dark Match" on the hob at the FX channel, as Deadline reports. Also involved in the production is "NCIS" actor Michael Weatherly, best known for playing Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo on the long-running Paramount and CBS television series; it's his production company Solar Drive Productions, which is itself over at CBS, that accommodates the "Little Women" series. The CW's take on Alcott's well-read classic joins a long line of previous adaptations, which have included some star names over the years. 1933 feature film "Little Women" won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, with nominations for Best Picture and Best Director; the film was a huge hit featuring Katharine Hepburn as Jo. Then, a 1949 "Little Women" had a 17-year-old Elizabeth Taylor as the youngest March sister, the artistically inclined Amy, with Janet Leigh (later of "Psycho") as Meg and Rat Pack member Peter Lawford as neighboring boy Laurie. 1994 saw the arrival of "Little Women" which brought together Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Susan Sarandon, Gabriel Byrne and Christian Bale, gathering three Oscar nominations in the process. Most recently, YouTube channel Pemberley Digital, acclaimed for its adaptations of Jane Austen novels "Emma" and "Pride & Prejudice," released a 50-episode video series "The March Family Letters" that ran until this past June. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

'Exorcism: Live!' to air on TV in October
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
'Exorcism: Live!' to air on TV in October

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Destination America is upping its scare factor for Halloween by scheduling what it describes as a live exorcism to air Oct. 30. "Exorcism: Live!" was announced Thursday at a news conference in Beverly Hills, California. The event will be held at the St. Louis-area house where teen Roland Doe underwent the ritual in 1949. It became the inspiration for 1973's "The Exorcist" movie. The paranormal investigators featured on Destination America's series "GHOST ASYLUM" will appear on the show with psychic medium Chip Coffey. Cameras will roll as they explore the home to find whatever is believed to have haunted it for years. ___ Online: http://www.destinationamerica.com/ Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Walters to revisit big news stories including Lennon murder
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Walters to revisit big news stories including Lennon murder

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Barbara Walters is taking a walk down memory lane with a TV series revisiting big news stories she covered in her career. The Investigation Discovery channel said Thursday that "Barbara Walters Presents American Scandals" will debut Nov. 2. The hour-long episodes focus on events ranging from political misbehavior to crime, and will include previous interviews conducted by Walters along with new material, the channel told a TV critics meeting. The TV newswoman will look back at televangelist Jim Bakker's sex scandal, the murder of celebrity diet doctor Herman Tarnower, the Menendez family killings and a switched-at-birth mystery. Walters conducts a rare interview with the wife of Mark David Chapman about his killing of John Lennon, the channel said. Further episodes are planned, Investigation Discovery said. In a statement, Walters said the years-old scandals remain enormously interesting and continue to affect the lives of people who were involved. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Valerie Harper hospitalized after falling ill before musical
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Valerie Harper hospitalized after falling ill before musical

OGUNQUIT, Maine (AP) — Officials at a Maine playhouse say Valerie Harper has been hospitalized after falling ill before a performance. Officials at the Ogunquit (oh-GUHNG'-kwit) Playhouse say the 75-year-old actress, who has battled cancer, was taken to a hospital Wednesday before the evening performance of "Nice Work If You Can Get It." A statement Thursday says she's "resting comfortably and will remain in the hospital for observation for the time being." Bradford Kenney, executive artistic director, says playhouse officials and audiences are encouraged to hear that she's feeling better. Harper has been performing in the production as Millicent Winter, along with Sally Struthers as Duchess Estonia Dulworth. Harper has had a number of roles on Broadway, the big screen and TV. She's well known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Grevin's first Asian museum waxes lyrical over K-pop
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Grevin's first Asian museum waxes lyrical over K-pop

Psy, Paris Hilton and Queen Elizabeth II all made it, but South Korean President Park Geun-Hye turned down her chance of immortality in the first Asian outpost of France's famous waxwork museum, Musee Grevin, that opened in Seoul Thursday.The new museum's focus is firmly on the world of entertainment and, in particular, stars of the "Hallyu" or "Korean Wave" of pop songs and TV melodramas that have become the country's most potent cultural export. As a result, waxworks of global icons like Michael Jackson and Madonna rub shoulders with the likes of actress Choi Ji-Woo -- star of one of the original Hallyu dramas "Winter Sonata" who enjoys a major fan following in Japan. The overseas popularity of Korean celebrities like Choi and "Gangnam Style" singer Psy was a major factor in the choice of Seoul for Grevin's first Asian museum. "South Korea has become a major regional trend-setter and Seoul is increasingly a flagship Asian destination," said Dominique Marcel, CEO of Grevin's parent company, Compagnie des Alpes. "Being here, we can attract not only Koreans, but also Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese visitors," Marcel said. And there is the added bonus that Grevin's main competitor, Madam Tussauds, which has wax museums in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo, is not present in South Korea. The timing of the Seoul opening is slightly unfortunate given the dramatic plunge in tourist arrivals to South Korea because of a recent outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that claimed 36 lives. But there is a promotional silver lining with Seoul tourism officials desperate to push any new project or venue that might help bring the foreign visitors back. The Seoul museum is being run with a South Korean partner, Mast Entertainment, which was largely responsible for choosing which celebrities and historical figures to include in the initial waxwork lineup. "Our real goal was to get those people who represent the Korean popular culture that is so dominant in Asia," said Mast CEO Kim Yong-Kwan. According to Kim, some of the chosen Korean celebrities -- backed by their agents -- took a "very pro-active" role in how their wax likenesses were presented. "One actress brought about four or five dresses and wanted to change them over and over and over again," he said. While the US and Chinese presidents, Barack Obama and Xi Jinping, are both represented, there is a noticeable absence of any South Korean political figures -- with the exception of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. "That was quite a tricky issue," Kim acknowledged. "We wanted to stay away from local politics, because it's sensitive and we wanted personalities everybody would be happy with," he added. Nevertheless, President Park's office was approached about the possibility of a spot for the country's first female head of state. "We never got a response," Kim said. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Movies

Lupita Nyong'o to make NYC stage debut in September
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Lupita Nyong'o to make NYC stage debut in September

NEW YORK (AP) — Lupita Nyong'o, the Oscar-winner for her role in Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave" will make her New York stage debut in September. The Public Theater said Thursday that Nyong'o (loo-PEE'-tuh nee-YAHNG'-goh) will star in "Eclipsed," a story of survival and resilience set in post-colonial Africa. It was written by Danai Gurira — who also is stars in "The Walking Dead" — and will be directed by Liesl Tommy. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Nyongo's stage credits include playing Perdita in "The Winter's Tale" and Sonya in "Uncle Vanya" both at Yale Repertory Theater. The Mexican-born Kenyan will next appear in the anticipated "Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens" and will voice a character in Jon Favreau's take on Disney's "The Jungle Book." 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.

Official trailer for ‘Room’ movie released
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Official trailer for ‘Room’ movie released

A glimpse of the upcoming drama "Room," based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, has been released to YouTube.Starring Brie Larson, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Sean Bridgers and Jacob Tremblay, the flick has been selected for the Special Presentations division of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The film is expected to release in the US on November 6, 2015. To watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C6fZ-fwDws   Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Patrick Osborne tapped to direct ‘Battling Boy’
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Patrick Osborne tapped to direct ‘Battling Boy’

Paramount has called upon Oscar-winning Patrick Osborne to direct the upcoming film based on author Paul Pope's novel "Battling Boy."Producers Jeremy Kleiner and Sarah Esberg hail from Brad Pitt's company Plan B Entertainment, Variety reports. Osborne, whose credits include "Big Hero 6," took the prize for best animated short film for his work on the six-minute Disney clip "Feast." "Battling Boy" tells the story of a 12-year-old supernatural hero who is called upon to banish demons from the land. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Jake Gyllenhaal eyes Boston Marathon movie ‘Stronger’
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Jake Gyllenhaal eyes Boston Marathon movie ‘Stronger’

US actor Jake Gyllenhaal is reportedly in early talks to star in a movie about the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombing.The Lionsgate film portrays the struggle of survivor Jeff Bauman who lost both legs in the attack, Variety reports. David Gordon Green has signed on as director of the movie. John Pollono has adapted the script from the book "Stronger" by Bauman and Brett Witter. Bauman was cheering for his girlfriend at the finish line when the tragedy struck.   Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Stallone puts 'Rocky,' 'Rambo' memorabilia up for auction
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Stallone puts 'Rocky,' 'Rambo' memorabilia up for auction

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sylvester Stallone is parting with memorabilia from the "Rocky" and "Rambo" movies, but he's keeping the two characters alive onscreen. The 69-year-old entertainer announced Thursday that he'll put hundreds of props and costumes from his 40-year career up for auction in October, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting military charities. Some of the items Stallone has agreed to sell include Rambo's Army jacket and Rocky's gloves, robe and boxing trunks. Stallone isn't saying goodbye to the characters. Instead, he's set to become Rocky Balboa again onscreen in "Creed" this fall and is working on another "Rambo" installment. Stallone said today's fascination with cinematic superheroes leaves little room for the "lone wolf" or "man against the odds" characters he likes to play. "That's kind of why I'm still around, because I embrace that and it's become kind of a rarity and there's not many of us left," he said in a recent interview. "Will that come around again? I don't think so. Not in its purest form... So I embrace it and that's why I want to continue to do it until my body explodes." First up is "Creed," by writer-director Ryan Coogler. Stallone is Rocky, but this time he's coach to a young star boxer played by Michael B. Jordan. "By no means is this a 'Rocky 7,'" Stallone said. "This is a journey for Michael B. Jordan, who is brilliant in the movie, and Ryan Coogler, (for whom) this is a very personal film." When Coogler first approached Stallone about the film, he declined, saying he felt Rocky had "run his course." After making "Fruitvale Station," the filmmaker returned to discuss the role again. "I've never seen someone who was so persistent," Stallone said. He ought to know, after holding out to play the titular character in his breakthrough script, "Rocky," back in 1976. Stallone earned Oscar nominations for his screenplay and lead performance, and the film won the best picture prize. At work now on a screenplay for a new "Rambo" film, Stallone admitted, "It really is not fun." He still thinks the character is compelling — "Where Rocky is the height of optimism, this guy is the height of pessimism," he said — but finds writing more challenging than any other artistic discipline. "I'm torn because the last one was so satisfying and hit all the buttons," he said. "The idea is: How do you top that? Or do you try to top that?" Then there's the issue of a potential adversary. "Rambo has shot just about everybody. There's no one left," Stallone said. "We're down to Eskimos. And penguins." While fans are waiting for the new films, they can bid on pieces of Rocky's and Rambo's past when Heritage Auctions moderates the Stallone sale on Oct. 14 and 15. Other items available include Rambo's knife and Rocky's Harley-Davidson motorcycle. "I saw the John Wayne auction and I thought it would have been so much more effective if John Wayne had still been alive so he could explain to his fans what some of his pieces meant to him," Stallone said. "I'm not that young, but still aware enough to appreciate the people that will appreciate owning (these items)." He plans to use some of the auction proceeds to demonstrate his appreciation to those who have inspired his most popular characters by supporting military charities. "I think my image and what I've played throughout my career has been very American and very military-oriented and also police-oriented," Stallone said. "It basically is something that has bolstered my career so I thought I'd like to pay back the real people that have supplied the inspiration for the characters I've played." ___ 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.

Events

Nyong'o to make NY stage debut in Liberia play
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Nyong'o to make NY stage debut in Liberia play

Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong'o will make her New York stage debut later this year, starring in a play set amid the horrors of the Liberian civil war.The Public Theater in Manhattan said the production of "Eclipsed" would run from September 29 to November 8. Nyong'o, 32, will play "The Girl" in what the theater called "a powerful story of survival and resilience" about women finding and testing their own strength in a hostile world. The award-winning play sees captive wives of a rebel officer band together to form a fragile community, until their lives are upset by the arrival of a new girl. It is written by Zimbabwean-American actress Danai Gurira, best known for her role on hit television series "The Walking Dead." Public Theater's artistic director, Oskar Eustis, said it was a "brilliant play, ripped from the headlines, that looks at the terrible conflicts in post-colonial Africa." Nyong'o was born in Mexico, brought up in Kenya and educated at the Yale School of Drama. She shot to international fame by winning an Oscar in 2014 for her role in "Twelve Years a Slave." Liberia, Africa's oldest republic and formed by freed American slaves, was devastated by two civil wars which killed around 25,000 people between 1989 and 2003. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Jon Stewart signing off 'Daily Show' fake newscast for real
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Jon Stewart signing off 'Daily Show' fake newscast for real

NEW YORK (AP) — After more than 16 years and nearly 2,600 telecasts, Jon Stewart can feel proud of his scads of Emmys and his pair of Peabody Awards, his cultural gravitas (he hung with the Prez, both on and off the air!), even his reprobate status at Fox News. Who could blame him for wanting to depart "The Daily Show" on this high note? Besides, maybe it had gotten too easy. By June, when Donald Trump jumped into the presidential race, a giddy Stewart framed this jest-alluring candidacy as Trump's going-away gift to him, "putting me in some sort of comedy hospice where all I'm getting is straight morphine." Or maybe it had gotten too hard. When he took over "The Daily Show" in January 1999, Stewart's simple mission was to host a program that would lampoon "real" newscasts and newsmakers they enabled. "I like keeping up with the news," he told The Associated Press at the time, "even though I think it's gotten so out of control. But that's what I like about 'The Daily Show': It's like checks and balances." But in an interview a few months ago, Stewart put a bit more dismally the task of finding the funny in the news. "I think of us as turd miners," he said. "I put on my helmet, I go and mine turds. Hopefully I don't get turd lung disease." ___ A famous definition of news: "What those in power don't want you to know." Meanwhile, the illuminative mockery of Stewart's "fake news" might be defined as "What those in power don't want you to think." Always questioning authority — whether politicians, corporate titans, media barons or, of course, puffed-up journalists — Stewart did what satirists have done for centuries: He seized on the absurdity embedded in accepted truth. But as "The Daily Show" aped the bombast and blizzard of graphics employed, without irony, by "legitimate" newscasts, Stewart never copped to grandiose claims for what he was up to. "Our meeting every morning is an explicit discussion of what's going on in the world," he declared in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press. "But then the rest of the day is spent trying to hide that under layers of fart jokes." While Stewart is undeniably left-leaning, his show, he said, "doesn't honor the distinction between left wing and right wing, or liberal and conservative, or in some respects between Democrat and Republican. "We only honor the distinction between real and absurdly fake," he said, then grinned. "And WE are absurdly fake." "The Daily Show" under Stewart thus made a credible argument that, for both journalism and public affairs, bogus is the new real, leaving fact and fantasy interchangeable. "The Daily Show" prevailed as a bit of daylight in between, a privileged space that granted Stewart almost limitless freedom to make fun of things, even as he exercised due diligence in making sense of them in the process. ___ Some (even Stewart) would say "The Daily Show" is a half-hour of silliness meant to call out politicians and other power brokers with no higher purpose than amusing its audience. Still, he was sharply attuned to America's many wrong turns, how its leadership and media routinely let the country down. In 2010, he and fellow Comedy Central fake-news host Stephen Colbert even organized a rollicking "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" that drew tens of thousands to Washington's National Mall. Americans, said Stewart in one of the telecast's more serious moments, do "impossible things every day that are only made possible through the little, reasonable compromises we all make." But reasonable compromises are what elected officials are loath to make in the present day; what news media dismiss in favor of spotlighting the more watchable bad behavior and conflict. Americans do work together to get things done, insisted Stewart. "The only place we don't is here," he said, pointing behind him at the Capitol, "or on cable TV." ___ There has been little sign of sanity restored. "Wouldn't it be nice if people who jumped to conclusions and peddled a false, divisive, anger-stoking narrative had to apologize for misleading America?" mused Stewart last March in reference to a certain cable-news network. On Aug. 6, Stewart, now 52, will step aside, making way for Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old stand-up comic from South Africa, to manage this nightly reality check as the nation dives headlong into the 2016 presidential election cycle. Maybe Stewart has concluded things are crazier than ever. And, after all, how much crazy can one man comb through night after night, searching for laughs, and retain his own sanity? In June, as he reflected on the mass shootings in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, there were no laughs to be had. "I honestly have nothing, other than sadness," he said before sadly predicting that, even now, after yet another American atrocity, "we still won't do jack----" to join together for a solution. Are things crazier than ever? Or maybe do we recognize the crazy more? Are we more painfully aware? If that's the case, his fans can thank Stewart for his abiding and soon-to-be-missed role in bringing us the crazy with insight, clarity and, of course, loads of laughs. Whatever he's been mining for his more than 16 years, he made the most of it. _____ EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore _____ Online: http://www.cc.com Copyright (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.

Brady lawsuit transferred from Minnesota to New York court
Thursday Jul 30, 2015
Brady lawsuit transferred from Minnesota to New York court

NEW YORK (AP) — Tom Brady's lawsuit against the NFL in which he wants his four-game suspension overturned will be heard in New York instead of Minnesota. Brady and the players' union filed their suit Wednesday in Minnesota. But the NFL already had filed papers Tuesday in New York, moments after announcing that Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension for Brady's involvement in the use of underinflated footballs in the AFC championship game. U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle, based in Minnesota, ordered the transfer. The judge wrote that he "sees little reason for this action to have been commenced in Minnesota at all." He noted that Brady plays in Massachusetts, the union is headquartered in Washington and the NFL in New York, Kyle added that "the arbitration proceedings took place in New York and the award was issued in New York." Jeffrey Kessler, the lead attorney for Brady and the union, wasn't concerned about this game of musical witness chairs. "The court decided the case should be heard in New York because the NFL filed first there," he told The Associated Press in an email Thursday. "We are happy in any federal court, which unlike the arbitration before Goodell provides a neutral forum, and will now seek our injunction in the New York court." In a footnote, Kyle said the court "strongly suspects the union filed in Minnesota because it has obtained favorable rulings from this court in the past on behalf of its members." Kessler had said the lawsuit should be heard in Minnesota because it was related to a case involving Adrian Peterson's suspension last season. Kyle countered that the union made "only a fleeting attempt" to link the Brady case to Peterson's. Kyle reasoned that the union's argument would mean, for example, any court that had heard a racial discrimination case against a large corporation would then hear every other racial discrimination case against that company. "Venue simply cannot be predicated on such a thin reed," he said. The union asked the court to throw out the suspension before Sept. 4. That would keep Brady from missing any practices before the Patriots' Sept. 10 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady is allowed to participate in all training camp and preseason activities. The lawsuit argues that the NFL made up its rules as it went along and misapplied the ones that were already on the books. Kessler called it "offensive" that the league accused Brady of destroying his cellphone to obstruct the inquiry by investigator Ted Wells, a claim Goodell made in upholding the suspension Tuesday. Judge Richard M. Berman, who has been assigned to the case, told all sides to "tone down their rhetoric." "The earth is already sufficiently scorched, in the Court's view," Berman wrote. ___ AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen and Associated Press writer Amy Forliti contributed to this story. ___ AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Barry Wilner from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

With 5th album, Luke Bryan could reach even greater heights
Wednesday Jul 29, 2015
With 5th album, Luke Bryan could reach even greater heights

NEW YORK (AP) — Luke Bryan is easily the reigning prince of country music: He's scored 10 No. 1 hits on Billboard's Hot Country songs chart; he's one of a few contemporary acts to sell out stadiums; and he's achieved back-to-back multiplatinum albums. But Bryan, who has been on the music scene for a decade, has yet to earn a Grammy Award — or even a nomination. "I guess a few years ago I kind of was thinking I'd get a Grammy nomination or two and didn't," said Bryan, who had one of the top albums of both 2013 and 2014 with "Crash My Party." "Yeah, you get a little frustrated by that," he added. "I think the Grammys, sometimes accepting a guy like me is a little outside their deal." Things could change with the release of his fifth album, "Kill the Lights," on Aug. 7. "My focus is doing what I can musically for my fans first and foremost. ... Grammys stuff would be added, amazing stuff," he said. "I've won quite a few AMAs (American Music Awards), and it's so fun being out there and being recognized among all music as a country artist — that stuff's very flattering. And if the Grammys stuff ever happens, I'd be flattered by it." Bryan, who turns 40 next year, has connected with young country fans thanks to his party anthems and songs about drinking and living life freely. Recent winners for Grammys for country music include acts that have hit mainstream and topped the pop charts, from Carrie Underwood to Taylor Swift to Lady Antebellum, or traditional acts in the vein of Glen Campbell. Others have been slow to give Bryan credit: He finally won his first Country Music Association Award less than a year ago when he was named entertainer of the year, the show's top prize. "I don't feel pressure much anymore. ... Up until this point in my career, obviously there's been quite a bit of pressure, but it's fun to be in a situation where that stuff starts chilling out and you can just relax," said the married father of two boys. "My thing is I spent a lot of years trying to outdo each album ... and I feel like this album has outdone 'Crash My Party,' so now it's just about me enjoying it." On "Kill the Lights," Bryan is stretching outside his comfort zone. He said recording the song "Razor Blade" was challenging. "It's kind of a darker song for me — somewhere I haven't really been artistically. The main thing was me learning how to kind of capture that really, really kind of darker side of the song," he said by phone during a break from his Kick the Dust Up Tour. "It's new territory for me. ... I had to step out of the vocal booth a couple times and get my head in the right space." The album features the radio-ready "Home Alone Tonight," a duet with Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town; the slow-burner "Strip It Down"; "Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day," an ode to Southern living; and "Kick the Dust Up," the upbeat first single that's currently No. 1 on the country charts. Jeff Stevens, who has produced all of Bryan's albums, worked on "Kill the Lights" with his son, Jody, to give the country star some new flavor. Stevens said Bryan co-wrote more songs this time around, which "lends a different tone for the record." "He's had an emotional year while we were making this record, lots of things going on around him including — not only family stuff — but the fact that his career keeps growing," he said. "So there's a lot of changes going on in his life and this album reflects that." Bryan, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, said he's mostly grown from being a live performer to perfectly crafting songs in the studio. And overall in life, he's content. "I've matured on so many levels," Bryan said. "I'm happier now than I've ever been because ... I'm just in a completely Zen moment now." ___ Online: http://www.lukebryan.com/ 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.

Kristen Stewart, Idris Elba in Venice Film Festival lineup
Wednesday Jul 29, 2015
Kristen Stewart, Idris Elba in Venice Film Festival lineup

LONDON (AP) — This year's Venice Film Festival will include Kristen Stewart in a sci-fi romance, Idris Elba at war and a thriller starring Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson, as well as potentially awards-worthy performances from Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp and Jake Gyllenhaal. Organizers announced a 21-strong competition lineup Wednesday for the festival, which takes over the Italian maritime city's Lido island for 11 days in September. It includes Drake Doremus' futuristic "Equals," with Stewart and Nicholas Hoult; Luca Guadagnino's "A Bigger Splash," with Swinton, Johnson and Ralph Fiennes; and Cary Fukunaga's African child-soldier story "Beasts of No Nation," starring Elba. Competition for the top Golden Lion prize also includes Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's animated feature "Anomalisa"; musician Laurie Anderson's "Heart of a Dog"; and "The Danish Girl," from "The King's Speech" director Tom Hooper, which stars 2014 Oscar-winner Redmayne as a transgender woman in the 1920s. Also among the contenders: "Rabin, The Last Day," Amos Gitai's depiction of the 1995 assassination of Israeli leader Yitzakh Rabin; South African director Oliver Hermanus' crime drama "The Endless River"; Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski's "11 Minutes," which follows several characters over the titular timeframe; and Argentine director Pablo Trapero's family crime drama "The Clan." There are also new films from Canada's Atom Egoyan ("Remember," a Nazi-hunting thriller starring Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau), Russia's Aleksandr Sokurov (the Paris-set "Francofonia") and Italy's Marco Bellocchio (vampire-themed "Blood of My Blood"). Out-of-competition entries — which are not in the running for festival prizes but could be Academy Awards contenders — include Scott Cooper's "Black Mass," starring Depp as Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, and Thomas McCarthy's "Spotlight," which features Michael Keaton as the editor of a Boston Globe team investigating clerical sex abuse. Martin Scorsese will bring "The Audition," a short starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, while documentaries include Amy Berg's Janis Joplin biopic "Janis." The 72nd Venice festival opens Sept. 2 with the world premiere of Baltasar Kormakur's mountain drama "Everest," starring Gyllenhaal and Robin Wright. It runs to Sept. 12, when a jury led by Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron will award the Golden Lion for best film and other prizes. Venice vies as an awards-season springboard with the overlapping Toronto Film Festival, which this year runs Sept. 10-20. Several titles, including "Black Mass" and "The Danish Girl," play at both events. Online: http://www.labiennale.org/en/cinema/ Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Jill Lawless from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.