Saturday Mar 8, 2014
The British actress has joined the cast of "The Royals," the first original scripted series from celebrity and entertainment network E!.A new cable network is entering the fray, posing yet another challenge to major networks. For its first original scripted series, E! is developing "The Royals," the latest idea from "One Tree Hill" creator Mark Schwahn. The drama will follow a fictitious British royal family, imagining what goes on behind closed doors in the most watched family on the planet. Elizabeth Hurley will play Queen Helena, who is willing to do anything to defend the crown and her clan, who is constantly under scrutiny. Recently seen in "Gossip Girl," the actress will co-star with Vincent Regan ("Snow White and the Huntsman"), Haley Lu Richardson ("Ravenswood"), William Moseley ("The Chronicles of Narmia") and Tom Austen ("Jo," "The Borgias"). E! has yet to announce a premiere date for "The Royals." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Sheila MacRae, a veteran stage, film and TV performer best known for playing Alice Kramden in the 1960s re-creation of "The Honeymooners," has died. She was 92. The actress died Thursday at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, N.J., MacRae's granddaughter, Allison Mullavey, told The Associated Press on Friday. "She had a great life, my mom, she really did. She was quite a broad," said her daughter, actress Heather MacRae. "Fascinating, almost like an Autie Mame character." Shirley Jones, in a statement released by MacRae's family, called Sheila MacRae "a great lady" with extraordinary talent who "helped me to be a better mother." MacRae, who suffered from dementia but was otherwise in good health, had been hospitalized for a minor surgical procedure. Her death came suddenly Thursday night, apparently the result of old age, said Heather MacRae. "She lived a good life and a long life," Mullavey said. "We'll miss her." A singer, dancer and actress, MacRae was married to "Oklahoma!" and "Carousel" star Gordon MacRae for 26 years, and they appeared together in 1964 on "The Ed Sullivan Show" when the Beatles were featured. She had put her career on hold while she devoted herself to MacRae and their four children, Heather MacRae said. After helping her husband with his nightclub act, she decided to join him and her career took off, her daughter said. The couple appeared together in musicals including "Guys and Dolls," with Sheila MacRae taking her performance as Miss Adelaide to Broadway in 1965. The couple divorced in 1967. In the 1950s version of "The Honeymooners," Audrey Meadows starred with Jackie Gleason as lovebirds and sparring partners Ralph and Alice Kramden. Sheila MacRae replaced Meadows as Alice in a later version from 1966-70 on "The Jackie Gleason Show." MacRae was the last survivor from the '60s edition of the Gleason show. Jane Kean, who played Trixie Norton, died last fall. "My mother referred to herself as the last Mrs. Kramden," Heather MacRae said. After her divorce from Gordon MacRae, she was married to Ronald Wayne, who produced Gleason's show, her daughter said. They later divorced. Sheila MacRae played the role of Madelyn Richmond on the soap opera "General Hospital" and was host of "The Sheila MacRae Show." A native of London, England, Sheila MacRae emigrated to America with her parents during World War II. Survivors include children Heather and William "Gar" MacRae, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Daughter Meredith died in 2000 and son Robert in 2010, Heather MacRae said. Funeral services for her mother were pending, she said. ___ AP Television Writer Lynn Elber in Los Angeles and Associated Press national writer Hillel Italie in New York contributed to this report. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The producer of early Grammy and National Football League telecasts has died. Ted Bergmann's wife, Beverly, says the veteran producer died Sunday following surgery in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 93. Bergmann started his television career at NBC in 1947. He went on to work in advertising, where he matched companies such as Coca-Cola and Colgate with entertainment properties. The group behind the Grammy Awards sought Bergmann's help in 1962 to bring the ceremony to TV. He then produced the music awards show for seven years. Bergmann served as president of the DuMont Television Network and televised early NFL games and live boxing. Other TV credits include "The Arthur Godfrey Show," ''Love Thy Neighbor" and "Three's Company." Besides his wife, Bergmann is survived by six children, two stepsons, 14 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
From navigation systems to hands-free smartphone kits and reversing cameras, high-tech options are playing a bigger role in US drivers' decision-making process when choosing a new car.The research, by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), found that 42 percent of US consumers are planning on buying some form of in-vehicle technology device over the next 12 months and that for 59 percent of respondents that have bought a new car over the past year, the in-car tech on offer was an important factor for making the purchase. The CEA also notes that ownership of most categories of in-vehicle tech has been growing over the past six years. As well as being offered as cost or no-cost options directly by automakers, everything from in-dash sound systems and remote vehicle starters are available from a host of aftermarket companies. However, despite growing popularity and growing competition only 54 percent of consumers said that they are satisfied with the technologies in their primary vehicles. Highlighting the importance of smartphones and staying connected, 47 percent of respondents are interested in using in-car versions of mobile device apps that are designed for safer and easier use while driving. When asked, two in five consumers said they intend to purchase an in-vehicle technology device such as car alarms or remote vehicle starters to fitted sound systems. Plus, following on from their preference for smartphone apps, devices that facilitate mobile use in the vehicle, such as devices to connect smartphones and MP3 players to the vehicle, hands-free kits and smartphone mounting systems. The study, which polled the opinions of 997 US residents of driving age, is published in the same week that Apple officially unveiled its CarPlay system for bringing iPhone features to the car dashboard. According to forecasted figures from ABI Research, demand for systems that give drivers car-safe smartphone functionality and app access is growing at such a rate that by 2018, half of all new cars sold globally will come with Apple's new system on board. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron was looking for an anti-"Gravity" follow up to his blockbuster space film, and he found it with a rare excursion into television. Cuaron and sci-fi auteur J.J. Abrams ("Lost," the "Star Trek" movies) are executive producers of "Believe," a drama about a child whose supernatural powers put her and the world at risk. The premise came to him while he waited during "the endless process of special effects" on "Gravity," Cuaron said at a media event. "Well, first of all, I wanted to do something in which people were not floating," Cuaron said, drawing laughs. "I wanted to do something more grounded, and we wanted to do it with real people, real locations," he continued. "And I wanted to do something really exciting, but, at the same time, something that would be highly emotional." He recounted sharing the idea with Abrams and his reaction: "Wow." The pair met more than two decades ago and, Abrams said, "I've wanted to work with him desperately ever since. I was a huge fan of every movie that he made, and each one made me more and more desperate to try and figure this out." When Cuaron contacted him with the idea for "Believe," Abrams said, it created the opportunity for him and his company, Bad Robert Productions. Johnny Sequoyah stars as Bo, a 10-year-old who appears to have won the special-gifts lottery at birth: She can levitate, has the power of telekinesis, can control nature and see the future. But she can't control or understand her powers and is at risk from those who would use them to conquer Earth. Delroy Lindo co-stars as Bo's protector, with Jack McLaughlin as a wrongfully imprisoned death row inmate enlisted in the effort. The cast also includes Jamie Chung and Kyle MacLachlan. A preview airs at 10 p.m. EDT Monday, with the show debuting in its 9 p.m. EDT Sunday slot March 16. Cuaron has dabbled lightly in TV in years past, but big-screen projects like "Gravity," ''Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Children of Men" have been his focus. He shepherded "Gravity" with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney to a leading seven Oscar trophies March 2. Among them was the best director award for Cuaron, with the Mexican filmmaker becoming the category's first Latino winner. Oscar dazzle and box office grosses aside — "Gravity" pulled in more than $500 million internationally in 2013 — cast members said it was Cuaron himself who drew them to "Believe." He directed the series' pilot. "The things that Alfonso said creatively were very exciting to me," said Lindo. "So from my standpoint it was not necessarily a no-brainer, but it was certainly very exciting, the prospect of working with him on this project." ___ Online: http://www.nbc.com Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The actress is in line to join the cast of "American Ultra," according to The Hollywood Reporter.Currently in theaters in Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac," Uma Thurman is in talks to join this action comedy authored by Max Landis, the screenwriter behind "Chronicle" (2012) and son to veteran director John Landis. The 43-year-old actress is expected to play the head of a secret government program to infiltrate sleeper warriors into the population. Jesse Eisenberg will play a young pothead who suddenly finds himself personally involved in this government plot. Kristen Stewart will play his girlfriend. "Projet X" director Nima Nourizadeh will helm "American Ultra." Shooting is scheduled to begin on April 14. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
A majestic hotel in Budapest that shares an uncanny resemblance to the fictional hotel at the centerpiece of Wes Anderson’s film "The Grand Budapest Hotel" has created a special package that explores the property’s cinematic history.The Corinthia Hotel Budapest is capitalizing on its name and the fact that its majestic, Neoclassical facade is loosely reminiscent of the fictional hotel, to offer guests a "Behind the Scenes" package that explores the property’s own cinematic history. Though the hotel boasts no official links to the movie, in 1915 the property transformed its royal ballroom into the Royal Apollo Cinema, seating more than a thousand spectators. It was there that French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere, the earliest filmmakers in history, screened their first movie in Europe, outside Paris. The Behind the Scenes package includes a guided tour of the hotel’s grand ballroom, a movie screening at the Arena Plaza cinema, walking tour of the city’s most famous movie set locations, and a cruise on the Danube. Other luxury hotels that have played supporting roles in movies include the Grandhotel Pupp, in the 2006 movie “The Last Holiday” with Queen Latifah, and the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa hotel in Dubai, from which Tom Cruise dangled 1,700 feet above ground for the 2011 movie “Mission Impossible -- Ghost Protocol.” The three-night Behind the Scenes package starts at €842 ($1,150 USD) for two and is available from April 4 to December 25, 2014. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
A homeless man wins the lottery, a news anchor quits on national television and celebrities float on hoverboards. Details of these and other most popular YouTube videos on Friday, March 7 can be found below.YouTube's top five Most Popular videos worldwide, as recorded on Friday, March 7 at 4pm GMT: 1) RT Anchor Quits On Air4.9 million total viewsPublished: March 5 American news anchor Liz Wahl resigns live on air from Russian state-owned TV network Russia Today, claiming that the station had ‘whitewashed' the events in Ukraine.http://youtu.be/55izx6rbCqg2) Most Shocking Second a Day10.9 million viewsPublished: March 5 A young girl's life is tragically turned upside down by war in the space of one year in this ad by UK charity Save The Children.http://youtu.be/RBQ-IoHfimQ3) Homeless Lottery Winner9.6 million viewsPublished: March 4 Magician prankster MagicofRahat gives homeless man Eric $1,000 by making him believe he has won the lottery in this touching clip.http://youtu.be/4Lki_IeM6bQ4) Belief10.3 million total viewsPublished: March 3 Celebrities including musician Moby and "Back to the Future 2" actor Christopher Lloyd demonstrate HUVrTech floating hoverboards in this clip. Real or fake? FunnyOrDie.com/m/8on0 has the answers -- and a raffle to win the prototype itself.http://youtu.be/A4vE_vpkr905) Transformers: Age of Extinction Teaser Trailer10.5 million total viewsPublished: March 4 Mark Wahlberg stars in the official trailer for the upcoming installment of the science-fiction franchise "Transformers."http://youtu.be/ubGpDoyJvmI Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
Renée Zellwegger is moving towards "The Whole Truth" with Daniel Craig for what's thought to be a "courtroom thriller."Much of the project still remains under wraps, but The Hollywood Reporter has Craig in the role of a district attorney, with Courtney Hunt directing from a Nicholas Kazan script. Hunt is best-known for Academy Award nominee and Independent Spirit Award winner "Frozen River" while Kazan has "Mathilda," "Bicentennial Man" and 1990 legal thriller "Reversal of Fortune" to his name. There's not yet a shooting date announced for the new project, though Daniel Craig is busy with another "James Bond" production this autumn, due in cinemas late 2015, notes Variety. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
Dimension Films has uploaded the first trailer for the highly anticipated sequel to "Sin City," from Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller.Just under 1min30s, the trailer for "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" reprises the film noir esthetic seen in the first "Sin City," released in 2005, and reunites audiences with some of the same characters, including Marv and Nancy, played by Mickey Rourke and Jessica Alba. There are also a few newcomers to the franchise, including Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ray Liotta, Josh Brolin and Eva Green. The French actress is in the title role as the vicious Ava Lord. Inspired by the comics of Frank Miller, "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" will arrive in US theaters August 22. Watch the trailer for "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For": youtu.be/RIFqHn_Ul0M Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
NEW YORK (AP) — Oscar winner "12 Years a Slave" will face off with blockbusters like "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" at the MTV Movie Awards. The network announced Thursday the nominees for its 24th annual Movie Awards. The other movie of the year nominees are "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "American Hustle." Most of the best male and female nominees reassemble recent Oscar contenders including Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong'o and Leonardo DiCaprio. The awards' best kiss category will have a clear favorite: Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence's smooch in "American Hustle." For best shirtless performance, Jennifer Aniston from "We're the Millers" will vie with DiCaprio in "The Wolf of Wall Street." Conan O'Brien will host the show live April 13 from Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Conan O'Brien will be serving up buckets of golden popcorn. O'Brien announced Tuesday on his TBS talk show "Conan" that he's hosting this year's MTV Movie Awards. The annual movie celebration that honors winners with popcorn-shaped trophies is scheduled for April 13 at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. "After eight years of intense negotiations, I am honored to announce I am hosting MTV's second most prestigious awards show," the comedian joked in a statement. It marks the first time O'Brien has hosted the MTV Movie Awards. He previously hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards in 2002 and 2006. Past hosts of the MTV Movie Awards have included Jimmy Fallon, Aziz Ansari, Russell Brand, Rebel Wilson and Sarah Silverman. ___ Online: http://www.movieawards.mtv.com Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Diversity was perhaps the biggest winner at the 86th annual Academy Awards. For the first time, a film directed by a black filmmaker — Steve McQueen of "12 Years a Slave" — won best picture and a Latino — Alfonso Cuaron of "Gravity" — took home best director in a ceremony presided over by a lesbian host and overseen by the academy's first black president. And only two of the top six awards went to Americans. McQueen's grimly historical drama "12 Years a Slave" took best picture, leading the usually sedate filmmaker to jump up and down in celebration after his acceptance speech. The British director dedicated his award to "all of the people who endured slavery and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today." Cuaron's lost-in-space thriller "Gravity" led the Oscars with seven awards, including cinematography, editing, score, visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing. Some in his native Mexico have been critical that since the attention came for a Hollywood release and not a Mexican-themed film, his win didn't have the same kind of importance. "I'm Mexican so I hope some Mexicans were rooting for me," he told reporters backstage. The entire Oscar ceremony had the feel of a make-over for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — an institution that has sometimes seemed stuck in the past. After a Los Angeles Times report revealed the academy was overwhelming older white men, new president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has pushed for a more varied membership. The movie industry that the Oscars reflect has also been reluctant to tell a wider range of stories. "Dallas Buyers Club," the best picture-nominated drama about AIDS in 1980s Texas, took two decades to get made after countless executives balked at financing such a tale. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, the two Americans in the top six awards, took best actor and best supporting actor titles for their roles in the film as a heterosexual rodeo rat (McConaughey) and a transgender drug addict (Leto) united by HIV. "Thirty-six million people who have lost the battle to AIDS and to those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you," said Leto in his acceptance speech. Cate Blanchett, the Australian best-actress winner for her bitter, ruined socialite in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," used her acceptance speech to trumpet the need to make films with female leads — films like her own and like "Gravity," starring Sandra Bullock. A study by analyst Kevin B. Lee found that last year's lead actors averaged 100 minutes on screen, but lead actresses averaged only 49 minutes. "To the audiences who went to see the film and perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women at the center, are niche experiences, they are not," said Blanchett. "Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money." "12 Years a Slave" also won awards in the writing and acting categories. John Ridley picked up the trophy for best adapted screenplay, which was based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup. The screenwriter is only the second black writer (Geoffrey Fletcher won for "Precious" in 2009) to win in the category. Backstage, the "12 Years" team mentioned their efforts to include Solomon Northup's memoir as part of high school study. The National School Boards Association announced in February that the book is now mandatory reading. "It's important that we understand our history so we can understand who we were and who we are now and most importantly who we're going to be," said Brad Pitt, who produced "12 Years." ''We hope that this film remains a gentle reminder that we're all equal. We all want the same: Dignity and opportunity." Lupita Nyong'o was a first-time Oscar winner for her supporting role as field slave Patsey in "12 Years." ''I'm a little dazed," said Nyong'o backstage. "I can't believe this is real life." Nyong'o is the sixth black actress to win in the supporting actress category — and the first major Oscar win for Kenya (the president of Kenya congratulated her in a tweet) — following Hattie McDaniel ("Gone with the Wind"), Whoopi Goldberg ("Ghost"), Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls"), Mo'Nique ("Precious") and Octavia Spencer ("The Help"). Foreign language film nominees included "The Missing Picture," the first-ever Oscar-nominated film from Cambodia. "The Act of Killing," a dark look into the mass killings of communists and ethnic Chinese in Indonesia in the 1960s, was nominated for best documentary feature. In her second time hosting, openly gay Ellen DeGeneres sought to make celebrities more like plain folk. She passed out slices of pizza to the front rows at the Dolby Theatre, then passed the hat to pay for it. She also tweeted a "selfie" with such stars as Meryl Streep, Julie Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Pitt and Nyong'o. The shot "made history," DeGeneres told the audience later. It's since been retweeted more than 2 million times. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jessica Herndon on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/SomeKind Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Perhaps atoning for past sins, Hollywood named the brutal, unshrinking historical drama "12 Years a Slave" best picture at the 86th annual Academy Awards. Steve McQueen's slavery odyssey, based on Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir, has been hailed as a landmark corrective to the movie industry's virtual blindness to slavery, instead creating whiter tales like 1940 best-picture winner "Gone With the Wind." ''12 Years a Slave" is the first best-picture winner directed by a black filmmaker. "Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live," said McQueen, who dedicated the honor to those, past and present, who have endured slavery. "This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup." The normally reserved McQueen promptly bounced up and down on stage, later matter-of-factly explaining his joy physically took over: "So, Van Halen. Jump." A year after celebrating Ben Affleck's "Argo" over Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opted for stark realism over more the plainly entertaining candidates: the 3-D space marvel "Gravity" and the starry 1970s caper "American Hustle." Those two films came in as the leading nominee getters. David O. Russell's "American Hustle" went home empty-handed, but "Gravity" triumphed as the night's top award-winner. Cleaning up in technical categories like cinematography and visual effects, it earned seven Oscars including best director for Alfonso Cuaron. The Mexican filmmaker is the category's first Latino winner. "It was a transformative experience," said Cuaron, who spent some five years making the film and developing its visual effects. "For a lot of people, that transformation was wisdom. For me, it was the color of my hair." To his star Sandra Bullock, the sole person on screen for much of the lost-in-space drama, he said: "Sandra, you are 'Gravity.'" But history belonged to "12 Years a Slave," a modestly budgeted drama produced by Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B, that has made $50 million worldwide — a far cry from the more than $700 million "Gravity" has hauled in. Ellen DeGeneres, in a nimble second stint as host that seemed designed as an antidote to the crude humor of Seth MacFarlane last year, summarized the academy's options in her opening monologue: "Possibility number one: '12 Years a Slave' wins best picture. Possibility number two: You're all racists." DeGeneres presided over a smooth if safe ceremony, punctuated by politics, pizza and photo-bombing. Freely circulating in the crowd, she had pizza delivered, appealing to Harvey Weinstein to pitch in, and gathered stars to snap a selfie she hoped would be a record-setter on Twitter. (It was: Long before midnight, the photo had been retweeted more than 2 million times and momentarily crashed Twitter.) One participant, Meryl Streep, giddily exclaimed: "I've never tweeted before!" But in celebrating a movie year roundly considered an exceptionally deep one, the Oscars fittingly spread the awards around. The starved stars of the Texas AIDS drama "Dallas Buyers Club" were feted: Matthew McConaughey for best actor and Jared Leto for best supporting actor. McConaughey's award capped a startling career turnaround, a conscious redirection by the actor to tack away from the romantic comedies he regularly starred in, and move toward more challenging films. "It sort of feels like a culmination," he said backstage. Leto passed around his Oscar to members of the press backstage, urging them to "fondle" it. The long-haired actor, who has devoted himself in recent years to his rock band 30 Seconds to Mars, gravely vowed: "I will revel tonight." Cate Blanchett took best actress for her fallen socialite in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," her second Oscar. Accepting the award, she challenged Hollywood not to think of films starring women as "niche experiences": "The world is round, people!" she declared to hearty applause. Draped in Nairobi blue, Lupita Nyong'o — the Cinderella of the awards season — won best supporting actress for her indelible impression as the tortured slave Patsey. It's the feature film debut for the 31-year-old actress. "It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's, and so I want to salute the spirit of Patsy for her guidance," said Nyong'o. She also thanked director Steve McQueen: "I'm certain that the dead are standing about you and they are watching and they are grateful, and so am I." John Ridley won best adapted screenplay for "12 Years a Slave," shifting praise to Northup: "Those are his words. That is his life." Spike Jonze took best original screenplay for his futuristic romance "Her," the category Russell had the best chance of winning. Though the ceremony lacked a big opening number, it had a steady musical beat to it. To a standing ovation, Bono and U2 played an acoustic version of "Ordinary Love," from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." Pharrell Williams had Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio dancing in the aisles with "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2." Pink was cheered for her rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," part of a 75th anniversary tribute to "The Wizard of Oz." And Bette Midler sang — what else? — "Wind Beneath My Wing" for the in memoriam segment — an especially heartfelt one, considering the deaths of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harold Ramis, James Gandolfini and others. Best documentary went to the crowd-pleasing backup singer ode "20 Feet From Stardom." One of its stars, Darlene Love, accepted the award singing the gospel tune "His Eye Is on the Sparrow": "I sing because I'm happy/ I sing because I'm free." Disney's global hit "Frozen" won best animated film, marking — somewhat remarkably — the studio's first win in the 14 years of the best animated feature category. (Pixar, which Disney owns, has regularly dominated.) The film's hit single, "Let It Go," won best original song. "We're all just trying to make films that touch people," said co-director Chris Buck backstage. "Once in a while, you get lucky." Though the Oscar ceremony is usually a glitzy bubble separate from real-world happenings, international events were immediately referenced. In his acceptance speech, Leto addressed people in Ukraine and Venezuela. "We are here and as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we're thinking of you," said Leto. Russian state-owned broadcaster Channel One Russia said it would not broadcast the Oscars live because of the necessity for news coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. It will instead transmit the Oscars early Tuesday morning, local time. Venezuelan protesters, via social media, urged Oscar winners to bring attention to their plight. Anti-government protests have roiled the country in recent weeks. Italy's "The Great Beauty" won the Oscar for best foreign language film. In accepting the award for his rumination on life and Rome's decadence, director Paolo Sorrentino thanked his heroes, including Federico Fellini, Martin Scorsese and soccer star Diego Maradona. In her opening, DeGeneres gently mocked Hollywood's insularity, referring to the headlines that have swamped the Los Angeles area lately with a slightly less serious news event. "It has been raining," said DeGeneres. "We're fine. Thank you for your prayers." ABC, which aired the ceremony, hoped the drama of a razor-thin best-picture race would be enough to entice viewers. The show last year drew an audience of 40.3 million, up from 39.3 million the year before when the silent-film ode "The Artist" won best picture. There was a sense of deja vu Sunday. As she hit the red carpet, "American Hustle" star Jennifer Lawrence briefly collapsed in a heap of laughter, just as she tripped ascending the stairs last year to accept best actress for "Silver Linings Playbook." "If you win tonight," said DeGeneres, "I think we should bring you the Oscar." No delivery was needed, as the night belonged to "12 Years a Slave." ____ Associated Press writers Anthony McCartney, Lynn Elber, Ryan Nakashima, Andrew Dalton, Nekesa Mumbi Moody and E.J.Tamara contributed to this report. ____ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — "12 Years a Slave" rolled at the Spirit Awards, winning five awards including best feature at the annual independent film celebration. On the eve of the Academy Awards, the slavery tale won awards for director Steve McQueen, actress Lupita Nyong'o, screenwriter John Ridley and cinematographer Sean Bobbitt. In a more laid-back, beachside ceremony in Santa Monica, just west of Los Angeles, "12 Years a Slave" was applauded as the clear favorite of the indie circuit. The Spirit Awards could end up being — more than ever before — a dress rehearsal to Sunday's Academy Awards. "12 Years a Slave" is considered, albeit extremely narrowly, the favorite for best picture over the space spectacle "Gravity" and the 1970s con-artist "American Hustle." (Neither film was eligible at the Spirits, which honor films made for $20 million or less.) The acting winners, too, may line up. All of the Oscar favorites won Saturday at the Spirits, including best actor for Matthew McConaughey in "Dallas Buyers Club" and Cate Blanchett in "Blue Jasmine." McConaughey's co-star, Jared Leto, won best male supporting performance. Leto gave what might be the acceptance speech to end all acceptance speeches, rattling off an absurd list of thank yous to not just those with "Dallas Buyers Club," but Hermann Hesse, Wayne Gretzky, home-made burritos, "the seven billion people on the planet" and many more. The actor-rocker added, with emphasis, "all the women I've been with and all the women who think they've been with me." For many, the Spirit Awards conclude months of award-season events, and they provide a chance to exhale before the Oscars. McConaughey, Blanchett, Leto and Nyong'o have racked up a slew of awards, often triumphing over the same colleagues. "What am I going to say that I haven't already said?" Blanchett remarked in her acceptance speech. On her way into the luncheon, the actress also repeated her view of the renewed scandal surrounding "Blue Jasmine" director Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow's claims he sexually assaulted her as a child: "It's a family issue, and I hope they can resolve it as a family." This award, one of many for Nyong'o, stood out for the now 31-year-old actress: "Not a bad way to celebrate my birthday," she said. Nyong'o dedicated the award to her mother, Dorothy, who was in the audience, for years of driving her to auditions. "Your love has driven me this far," she said. Presented by Film Independent (a group of filmmakers, industry professionals and movie buffs) and hosted Saturday by Patton Oswalt, the Spirits are first and foremost a show to fete indie film and cast a spotlight on the little films that have to scrape money together to get made. McQueen, with "12 Years a Slave" producer Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie looking on, reflected on how the naturalistic films of John Cassavetes "changed my life." He dedicated his directing award to Cassavetes and Solomon Northup, the man whose memoir "12 Years a Slave" is based on. In accepting the award for best first feature, "Fruitvale Station" director Ryan Coogler provided the afternoon's most emotional moment. His film is about Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old black man shot while handcuffed by police. Coogler implored the audience to remember the "thousands of other Oscar Grants" and wondered why so many victims of such gun violence "always look like me." The crowd gave him a standing ovation. Several beloved fixtures of independent film were also remembered. The deaths of James Gandolfini, Philip Seymour Hoffman and critic Roger Ebert over the last year were singled out. Gandolfini's wife, Deborah Lin, and one of their two children attended the ceremony. (The actor was nominated for best supporting male performance.) The Spirits' Robert Altman Award, an honor for best ensemble and director, was given to Jeff Nichols' coming-of-age tale "Mud." The John Cassavetes Award, which honors films made for less than $500,000, went to the unlikely friendship drama "This Is Martin Bonner," which director Chad Hartigan said was made for just $42,000. Gasps of admiration were heard throughout the beachside tent. Other winners included "20 Feet From Stardom" for best documentary, "Blue Is the Warmest Color" for best international film, Bob Nelson of "Nebraska" for best first screenplay, and "Short Term 12" for best editing. The show was to be broadcast on the IFC cable channel later Saturday night. The spirit of thrifty striving pervaded. McConaughey (also a co-star in "Mud") called indie work, "a feeder road" compared to the Autobahn of big-budget moviemaking. But he said he relished the freedom, even though it means "less zeroes on the paycheck." In his monologue, however, Oswalt put a less optimistic spin on it. He said that in the course of his opening remarks, "The Lego Movie" had made more money than all of the Spirit Award nominees combined. ___ Associated Press' Jessica Herndon and Nicole Evatt contributed to this report ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.