Monday Sep 1, 2014

Carrie Underwood announces pregnancy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country star Carrie Underwood and NHL player Mike Fisher chose the Labor Day holiday to announce they are expecting their first child. Underwood and Fisher posted the announcement on their social media accounts on Monday. Underwood's publicist...
Read More

TV

Carrie Underwood announces pregnancy
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Carrie Underwood announces pregnancy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country star Carrie Underwood and NHL player Mike Fisher chose the Labor Day holiday to announce they are expecting their first child. Underwood and Fisher posted the announcement on their social media accounts on Monday. Underwood's publicist confirmed the couple will be expecting their first child in the spring. The 31-year-old Underwood shot to fame after winning "American Idol." She has won six Grammys and sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. She was the first woman to twice win the Academy of Country Music's entertainer of the year award. She will be co-hosting the upcoming Country Music Association Awards with Brad Paisley this November. Fisher, a 34-year-old center for the Nashville Predators, is recovering from a ruptured left Achilles tendon and is expected to miss the start of the season. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Speaking to the masses: Samsung focuses on affordability for new wireless speakers
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Speaking to the masses: Samsung focuses on affordability for new wireless speakers

Samsung is the latest company to offer a range of affordable wireless speakers in the hopes of cashing in on the growing popularity of music streaming services.The new wedge-shaped units, called the M3 series, will connect to a home's wi-fi network in order to pump out tunes in every room, either from a digital music library or directly from Amazon's Cloud Player, Pandora, Spotify or Rhapsody. And, of course, they can be controlled via a smartphone app. And although Samsung is at pains to describe the new device as both "affordably priced" and "easy" to use, it won't be revealing any specifics about the M3 until its official IFA Press Conference on September 4. All it has confirmed is that users will be able to stream different tracks from Spotify to different speakers in different rooms as well as being able to send the same tune to every speaker. Consumer interest in and demand for wireless speakers is growing at a pretty serious rate. According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), one in 10 US consumers already owns a multi-room wireless audio solution that streams music around the home via wi-fi and 16 percent of homes already use at least one Bluetooth speaker that connects to a smartphone, tablet or PC for playing music remotely. Part of the reason for their growing popularity is that music collections have moved from physical copies played on a stereo system to a host of digital files stored on PCs, handsets and in the cloud. However, according to Futuresource Consulting, premium music streaming services, from the aforementioned Spotify to Beats Music, are also having an impact. In the US and Europe, consumers are expected to spend $3 billion in subscriptions to premium music streaming services, which in turn is leading serious music fans to look for equally 21st century ways of enjoying their favorite songs. "Wireless audio hardware is in the driving seat, with devices like wireless speakers key to the development of streaming music subscription services, providing an additional layer to the user experience beyond a personal listening experience via headphones or a standard docking station," says David Sidebottom, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. Futuresource claims that the wireless speaker market is growing by some 181 percent annually, a trend which is clearest to see when looking at companies joining the Wireless Speaker and Audio Association, the trade group set up to promote best practice and promote technology standards. Its ranks have swollen from 15 to 30 member companies since January. And as membership has grown, so has the focus on mid-range and entry-level systems. Until 2013 wireless speaker systems were very much a premium product type and a market ruled by Sonos. However, in recent months, Sonos has launched an affordable -- i.e., sub $200 -- range of speakers and Bose, Denon and Samsung have entered the market at the premium end. With the M3, it looks as if Samsung is now looking to build up its market share. However, it will have competition. LG will be officially unveiling its own affordable wireless speaker system, LG Music Flow, at IFA too. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Drama and secrets in 'Downton Abbey' season 5
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Drama and secrets in 'Downton Abbey' season 5

ITV has unveiled the first trailer for its period drama's next season, which premieres September 21 in the UK.The fifth season of "Downton Abbey" is poised to be an eventful one for the protagonists of the popular series. In its new video, the British network hints at romance -- as Lady Mary grows closer to Lord Gillingham and the footman Jimmy Kent pursues his forbidden love affairs -- as well as drama, as Lord Grantham fears that his grandson is about to be stolen from the family. There is also a shot that hints that a terrible fire may break out at the estate. The new season, written once again by the show's creator Julian Fellowes, is set in 1924 and finds the family coping with reforms carried out by the first Labour government. "Downton Abbey" has added a number of new cast members for the coming episodes. Anna Chancellor, Sue Johnston, Richard E. Grant, Rade Šerbedžija and Emma Lowndes join the show's stars Maggie Smith, Tom Cullen, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter and Elizabeth McGovern. Watch the new trailer: http://youtu.be/4FZdk7LHQ0o Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Nicki Minaj tops, Iggy Azalea climbs global social media chart: Starcount
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Nicki Minaj tops, Iggy Azalea climbs global social media chart: Starcount

After taking a spot on last week's social media chart by Starcount, Micki Minaj climbs to the top spot for the week of Augut 25-31, riding the wave of the popularity of her new "Anaconda" video and her success at last week's MTV VMAs. Australian artist Iggy Azalea is a new addition to the chart, thanks to her own VMA buzz.As Nicki Minaj's video for "Anaconda" continues to get views -- she pulled in 70 million YouTube views over the past week -- the rapper is also grabbing headlines after her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards alongside Jessie J and Ariana Grande, which included a "wardrobe malfunction" that may have been a planned stunt. Minaj got nearly 300,000 Facebook likes and was talked about by 830,000 on the site, while on Instagram she earned 365,365 new followers. Another highlight of August 24th's VMAs ceremony was Iggy Azalea's performance of her new single "Black Widow" with Rita Ora. The recording artist is enjoying a surge in sales thanks to the performance and is also seeing her star rise on social media. She was talked about by 2.25 million people on Facebook over the course of the week, also earning 300,000 likes on the site and pulling in more than 100,000 new Twitter followers. Starcount's global social media chart for August 25-31:1. Nicki Minaj2. PewDiePie3. Ariana Grande4. Katy Perry5. Taylor Swift6. Shakira7. Iggy Azalea8. Beyoncé9. Enrique Iglesias10. Justin BieberStarcount.com, the social media leaderboard, tracks data across 12 global social networks to provide an aggregated measure of social media popularity for stars and brands. Its Fan Chart application is available on Android and iOS. For more on Starcount's data go to www.starcount.com/pages/score. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

David Muir takes over at ABC's 'World News'
Monday Sep 1, 2014
David Muir takes over at ABC's 'World News'

NEW YORK (AP) — Among the stories David Muir will introduce during his first week as ABC's "World News" anchor is one he reported about a generation of Syrian refugees missing out on an education. Besides detailing a hidden aspect of the civil war, the story serves a dual purpose: to signal viewers — and his bosses — that Muir wants to get out of the office for work as much as he can. "A huge part of this for me was a promise that I was not going to be tethered to the anchor desk," said Muir, who officially replaces Diane Sawyer Monday night. Muir, 40, joins NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams and Scott Pelley of the "CBS Evening News" at one of the three jobs generally considered the pinnacle of American broadcast news. Muir is also a generation younger than the 55-year-old Williams and Pelley, 57. Already a familiar face as "World News" weekend anchor and Sawyer's sub on weeknights, Muir has groomed himself for the job since he was a child. As a latchkey child of divorced parents growing up near Syracuse, N.Y., Muir took comfort from the news "family" that appeared on his television each evening. He watched ABC's Peter Jennings, trying to guess who would be named "person of the week." At age 12, he wrote to Syracuse anchorman Ron Curtis for advice on how to get in the business and had an internship at WTVH-TV by the next summer. Muir became so familiar that the newsroom had a spot on the wall to mark how much he'd grown each year. When he was still at nearby Ithaca College, WTVH hired Muir to anchor the weekend news. After five years at WTVH, he moved on to Boston and, in 2003, came to ABC News. Hurricane Katrina was one of the first places his work attracted attention. "All of the elements of being a news anchor he does superbly," said David Westin, the ABC News president who hired Muir. He shows versatility in reporting, interviewing and working in the studio, he said. Network anchors traveling to stories used to be more commonplace, and when Westin appointed Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas to replace Jennings a decade ago, it was on the theory that at least one would be on the road regularly. It has become less frequent, in part due to costs. Muir considers the reporting an important part of his identity and, he believes, what viewers expect of him. "The evening news is evolving rapidly, and I think we have to be extraordinarily nimble," he said. The dinnertime newscasts have been shadowed by predictions of their demise for about as long as Muir has been working. But each has seen its viewership increase over the past year. Muir, who frequently tweets during commercial breaks, said the programs' abilities to sum up the day's most important stories is valuable at a time people are bombarded with information. Andrew Tyndall, a consultant who monitors the content of evening newscasts, said "World News" tends to be faster-paced with a higher story count when Muir is anchor. Muir resists the notion that he packs the broadcast with more material, but said he wants to keep some things short so more important stories have room to breathe. Muir will start "World News" with a new executive producer, Almin Karamehmedovic, who he said shares "a thirst to travel the world." It's difficult to judge at the start where a new anchor will take a broadcast. Westin likened it to a president appointing a new Supreme Court justice — the person may not turn out as liberal or conservative as was initially thought. Tyndall's name is mud at ABC because of a report last winter criticizing the "Disneyfication" of "World News," specifically a greater emphasis on consumer and entertainment news at the expense of global concerns. "When I see reports like that or words like that, I think of the moment when I'm standing in Tahrir Square with a producer and photographer and Mubarak's men come charging in on their horses with their whips," Muir said. "Or when we were in Mogadishu and were fired upon by forces linked to Al Qaida." He added, "I'd be very hard-pressed to tell them that what we're doing out there is 'soft.'" Muir's role will be slightly different than that of his predecessor; ABC said. George Stephanopoulos will be the network's main anchor on breaking news reports. Muir said that's fine, and it ties in to his desire not to always be deskbound. He recently unearthed the letter that the Syracuse anchorman sent back to the advice-seeking 12-year-old, which today sounds prescient. "Competition in television news is keen," Curtis wrote. "There's always room for the right person. It could be you." ____ David Bauder can be reached at dbauder@ap.org or on Twitter@dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Movies

Doll from 'The Conjuring' coming to toy stores
Tuesday Sep 2, 2014
Doll from 'The Conjuring' coming to toy stores

In a Facebook post spotted by IGN, Mezco Toys announced it will soon market a version of Annabelle, the terrifying doll introduced in the horror movie and set to return in the sequel.Released in 2013, "The Conjuring" focused on the Warrens, a husband-and-wife paranormal detective team, and their attempt to help a family terrorized by a demon. The prequel "Annabelle," which is due in theaters on October 3, focuses on the origin story of the eponymous doll. Naturally the toy, which Mezco Toys will launch in late 2014, isn't the sort of rosy-cheeked baby doll that might make you nostalgic for playing house. It's more likely to make you want to sleep with the lights on, or else lock the doll in a closet. For anyone considering buying the doll for their kids, the trailer for "Annabelle" might help make up your mind: youtu.be/AA2pFq9pFTA The toy company, which also markets "Batman" and "Breaking Bad" dolls, has also shown its ability to create more frightening models, including its "Chucky" and "Living Dead" dolls. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Wesley Snipes to return in 'Blade 4'
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Wesley Snipes to return in 'Blade 4'

New York Daily News reports that the actor, who is currently in theaters in "The Expendables 3," could reprise his role as the famous vampire hunter.Despite the critical and commercial flop of "Blade Trinity," the last movie in the franchise to date, and despite weak box office earnings for the third "Expendables" movie, in which the actor joined Sylvester Stallone's team of musclemen, New Line Cinema is still willing to bet on Wesley Snipes. Released from prison in April 2013 after serving two and a half years for tax evasion, the actor is "looking good," according to the New York Daily News's sources, and is set to make $3 million plus a share of profits as the star of "Blade 4." Created in 1998, the "Blade" franchise centers on a "dhampir," or a human with vampire genes, who devotes his life to fighting the blood-sucking creatures. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Frances McDormand feted in Venice as HBO series premieres
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Frances McDormand feted in Venice as HBO series premieres

The Venice film festival feted the career of Frances McDormand Monday, the Oscar winning actress of "Fargo" fame, ahead of the premier of a new HBO mini-series she called the culmination of her life's work.McDormand, who is married to director Joel Coen and has starred in several Coen brothers films including "Fargo" and "Burn After Reading", was presented with the Visionary Talent Award for a career that began on Broadway in 1984. The 57-year-old American told journalists ahead of the ceremony that she felt developing, producing and acting in the four-part mini-series "Olive Kitteridge" was "the culmination of everything that I have attempted to do." McDormand plays a witty, acerbic maths teacher in a New England town in a story that spans 25 years, based on a Pulitzer prize-winning collection of short stories by Elizabeth Strout, and directed by Lisa Cholodenko. "It was a holy bitch to adapt," writer Jane Anderson said. "I was utterly terrified. We worked on it for three to four years and originally HBO wanted a television series, but we persuade them to make it a mini-series so we could better develop Olive's character," she added. McDormand, who won Best Actress for her role as a pregnant local police chief in the 1996 dark thriller "Fargo", said she was "gratified to be at a film festival with 'Olive Kitteridge'. Television had "allowed all of us to reinvent on our own terms what we want our professional lives to be," she said. "For a female elder, action roles in films are limited, but television opens up new possibilities." - The Wild West - Director Cholodenko described it as "a golden age, changing every minute." "Every season there are more and more channels -- Sundance, Netflix, Amazon -- moving into production, it's kind of the Wild West. You can be as adventurous or subversive as you want to be." Themes of love, friendship and death in "Olive" are pinned together by humour-rich scenes around the kitchen table in the house Kitteridge shares with her husband Henry (Richard Jenkins) and teenage son Christopher. "I've made an entire career of supporting male protagonists in films. What I love about Kitteridge is she's a peripheral character in the short stories but accumulatively you realise the strength of her character," McDormand said. "I think 90 minutes is not enough to tell a female story. I think four hours is enough, six hours is better, 10 hours, two years... Our stories are circular, complex and need more than 90 minutes," she added. McDormand said she started taking out options on material to develop when her son was 13 years old, "and I knew that in five years he would be leaving home and I would need something that would distract me from crying all day." "I've since become addicted to long-term projects and love producing," she said, explaining that her skills came from years of housekeeping. "I'm as good a housewife as I am an actor. I have relocated our family around the world, I've given dinner parties, redecorated houses, I'm very good at ironing: all of these skills equate to producing film very closely," she joked. "It's almost like I've been rehearsing for this all my career." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Inquiries begin into nude celebrity photo leaks
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Inquiries begin into nude celebrity photo leaks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The FBI said Monday it was addressing allegations that online accounts of several celebrities, including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, had been hacked, leading to the posting of their nude photographs online. The agency did not say what actions it was taking to investigate who was responsible for posting naked photos of Lawrence and other stars. Apple said Monday it was looking into whether its online photo-sharing service had been hacked to obtain the intimate images. Lawrence, a three-time Oscar nominee who won for her role in "Silver Linings Playbook," contacted authorities after the images began appearing Sunday. Naked images purporting to be of other female stars were also posted, although the authenticity of many couldn't be confirmed. The source of the leak was unclear. "This is a flagrant violation of privacy," Lawrence's publicist Liz Mahoney wrote in a statement. "The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence." The FBI said it was "aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter." "Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time," spokeswoman Laura Eimiller wrote in a statement. Apple Inc. spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the company was investigating whether any iCloud accounts had been tampered with, but she did not give any further details. "We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report," she said. Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead also confirmed that nude photos of her were posted online. "To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves," Winstead posted on Twitter. Winstead, who starred in "Final Destination 3" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," wrote that she thought the images had been destroyed. "Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this," Winstead wrote. The FBI has investigated previous leaks of nude celebrity images, including leaks involving Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera and footage of television sports reporter Erin Andrews in a Tennessee hotel room. Those cases resulted in convictions. How widespread the hacking of celebrities photos was is not immediately clear. Some of the images were quickly denounced as fakes. Some cybersecurity experts speculated that hackers may have obtained a cache of private celebrity images by exploiting weaknesses in an online image-storing platform. "It is important for celebrities and the general public to remember that images and data no longer just reside on the device that captured it," security researcher Ken Westin wrote in a blog post Monday. "Once images and other data are uploaded to the cloud, it becomes much more difficult to control who has access to it, even if we think it is private." Private information and images of celebrities are frequent targets for hackers. Last year, a site posted credit reports, Social Security numbers and other financial info on celebrities, including Jay Z and his wife Beyonce, Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher and many others. Johansson, Kunis and Aguilera were hacked by a Florida man, Christopher Chaney, who used publicly available information to hack into the email accounts of more than 50 people in the entertainment industry. "I have been truly humiliated and embarrassed," Johansson said in a tearful videotaped statement played in court at Chaney's sentencing in December 2012. "That feeling of security can never be given back and there is no compensation that can restore the feeling one has from such a large invasion of privacy," Aguilera wrote in a statement before Chaney's sentencing. ___ Associated Press writers Raphael Satter in London and Mae Anderson in New York contributed to this report. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Toronto prepares for ten days of movie madness
Sunday Aug 31, 2014
Toronto prepares for ten days of movie madness

Schwarzenegger movie "Maggie" might have ducked out of the star premieres, getting its distribution deal sorted before Toronto's 10-day marathon of movie madness begins, but there's still plenty to keep an eye on at the Canadian event with a huge number of films -- 392 from 79 countries -- and an incredible diversity on offer.Canada's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) runs September 4-14, opening with David Dobkin's "The Judge," which has Robert Downey Jr. as the city lawyer returning home to defend his father, town judge Robert Duvall, against a murder charge. At the other end of the fest is closing night film and period drama "A Little Chaos" from Alan Rickman, with the director himself as French king Louis XIV and Kate Winslet as a gardener commissioned to create a new fountain for the regent's Versailles palace. Throughout the festival's run, a track of gala presentations and special screenings welcomes high-profile directors and stars with both mainstream and highbrow appeal: Zhang Yimou drama "Coming Home," Ning Hao's comedy "Breakup Buddies," two Al Pacino films in "Manglehorn" and "The Humbling," Hayden Christensen crime thriller "American Heist," and the exploration of family ties in Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer movie "Black and White" number among them. This year's TIFF also sees a clutch of historical biopics visit its screens: "The Imitation Game" has Benedict Cumberbatch as codebreaker extraordinaire Alan Turing, while Eddie Redmayne of "Les Miserables" becomes quantum physicist Stephen Hawking for "The Theory of Everything," and Tobey Maguire stars as chess enigma Bobby Fischer in "Pawn Sacrifice." September 5 has been nominated Bill Murray Day, with free public screenings of the actor's "Stripes," "Groundhog Day" and "Ghostbusters" in the lead-up to new film premiere "St. Vincent." Several critical darlings from Cannes 2014 also cross the pond, with North American showings for Special Jury Prize winner and Quebec-set "Mommy," painter's portrait "Mr. Turner" with Cannes Best Actor, Timothy Spall, and Un Certain Regard Jury Prize winner "Force Majeure." Other tracks embrace more obtuse fare with contributions from a globe's worth of auteurs in the Masters program, from Jean-Luc Godard and Michael Winterbotton to Hong Sang-soo, Abderrahmane Sissako and this year's Palme d'Or winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan. By contrast, the Wavelengths program focuses in on art and experiment, with material from the reknowned Ken Jacobs, Marseille-set French-Taiwanese production "Journey to the West," a crossbreed of literary influences from the world's oldest living filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira in "The Old Man of Belem," and even Viggo Mortensen's turn as an adventurous 19th-century explorer in "Jauja." Two other schedules are set up to sate fans of international movie-making: the self-explanatory World Cinema program, and TIFF's track for up-and-coming directors. That second bill, Discovery, pulls in a diversity of exciting projects that include the unbelivable true story "Unlucky Plaza" from Ken Kwek of Singapore; the daring "Stories of Our Lives" from an anonymous Kenyan collective; Sao Paulo's "Obra," which juxtaposes architectural structure with hidden family histories; and irreverent high school comedy "Guidance," which swaps the musical pull of "School of Rock" for inappropriate life advice. And that's not even yet touching upon several new additions to this year's edition of the Festival; two streets are transformed into public displays of cinematic and artistic wonder, while the Canadian short film track is joined by an international sibling which boasts two of the event's three shortest works as well as Disney Pixar animation "Lava." Official website: tiff.netYouTube channel: youtube.com/tiff Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Events

Carrie Underwood announces pregnancy
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Carrie Underwood announces pregnancy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country star Carrie Underwood and NHL player Mike Fisher chose the Labor Day holiday to announce they are expecting their first child. Underwood and Fisher posted the announcement on their social media accounts on Monday. Underwood's publicist confirmed the couple will be expecting their first child in the spring. The 31-year-old Underwood shot to fame after winning "American Idol." She has won six Grammys and sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. She was the first woman to twice win the Academy of Country Music's entertainer of the year award. She will be co-hosting the upcoming Country Music Association Awards with Brad Paisley this November. Fisher, a 34-year-old center for the Nashville Predators, is recovering from a ruptured left Achilles tendon and is expected to miss the start of the season. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Frances McDormand feted in Venice as HBO series premieres
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Frances McDormand feted in Venice as HBO series premieres

The Venice film festival feted the career of Frances McDormand Monday, the Oscar winning actress of "Fargo" fame, ahead of the premier of a new HBO mini-series she called the culmination of her life's work.McDormand, who is married to director Joel Coen and has starred in several Coen brothers films including "Fargo" and "Burn After Reading", was presented with the Visionary Talent Award for a career that began on Broadway in 1984. The 57-year-old American told journalists ahead of the ceremony that she felt developing, producing and acting in the four-part mini-series "Olive Kitteridge" was "the culmination of everything that I have attempted to do." McDormand plays a witty, acerbic maths teacher in a New England town in a story that spans 25 years, based on a Pulitzer prize-winning collection of short stories by Elizabeth Strout, and directed by Lisa Cholodenko. "It was a holy bitch to adapt," writer Jane Anderson said. "I was utterly terrified. We worked on it for three to four years and originally HBO wanted a television series, but we persuade them to make it a mini-series so we could better develop Olive's character," she added. McDormand, who won Best Actress for her role as a pregnant local police chief in the 1996 dark thriller "Fargo", said she was "gratified to be at a film festival with 'Olive Kitteridge'. Television had "allowed all of us to reinvent on our own terms what we want our professional lives to be," she said. "For a female elder, action roles in films are limited, but television opens up new possibilities." - The Wild West - Director Cholodenko described it as "a golden age, changing every minute." "Every season there are more and more channels -- Sundance, Netflix, Amazon -- moving into production, it's kind of the Wild West. You can be as adventurous or subversive as you want to be." Themes of love, friendship and death in "Olive" are pinned together by humour-rich scenes around the kitchen table in the house Kitteridge shares with her husband Henry (Richard Jenkins) and teenage son Christopher. "I've made an entire career of supporting male protagonists in films. What I love about Kitteridge is she's a peripheral character in the short stories but accumulatively you realise the strength of her character," McDormand said. "I think 90 minutes is not enough to tell a female story. I think four hours is enough, six hours is better, 10 hours, two years... Our stories are circular, complex and need more than 90 minutes," she added. McDormand said she started taking out options on material to develop when her son was 13 years old, "and I knew that in five years he would be leaving home and I would need something that would distract me from crying all day." "I've since become addicted to long-term projects and love producing," she said, explaining that her skills came from years of housekeeping. "I'm as good a housewife as I am an actor. I have relocated our family around the world, I've given dinner parties, redecorated houses, I'm very good at ironing: all of these skills equate to producing film very closely," she joked. "It's almost like I've been rehearsing for this all my career." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Nicki Minaj tops, Iggy Azalea climbs global social media chart: Starcount
Monday Sep 1, 2014
Nicki Minaj tops, Iggy Azalea climbs global social media chart: Starcount

After taking a spot on last week's social media chart by Starcount, Micki Minaj climbs to the top spot for the week of Augut 25-31, riding the wave of the popularity of her new "Anaconda" video and her success at last week's MTV VMAs. Australian artist Iggy Azalea is a new addition to the chart, thanks to her own VMA buzz.As Nicki Minaj's video for "Anaconda" continues to get views -- she pulled in 70 million YouTube views over the past week -- the rapper is also grabbing headlines after her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards alongside Jessie J and Ariana Grande, which included a "wardrobe malfunction" that may have been a planned stunt. Minaj got nearly 300,000 Facebook likes and was talked about by 830,000 on the site, while on Instagram she earned 365,365 new followers. Another highlight of August 24th's VMAs ceremony was Iggy Azalea's performance of her new single "Black Widow" with Rita Ora. The recording artist is enjoying a surge in sales thanks to the performance and is also seeing her star rise on social media. She was talked about by 2.25 million people on Facebook over the course of the week, also earning 300,000 likes on the site and pulling in more than 100,000 new Twitter followers. Starcount's global social media chart for August 25-31:1. Nicki Minaj2. PewDiePie3. Ariana Grande4. Katy Perry5. Taylor Swift6. Shakira7. Iggy Azalea8. Beyoncé9. Enrique Iglesias10. Justin BieberStarcount.com, the social media leaderboard, tracks data across 12 global social networks to provide an aggregated measure of social media popularity for stars and brands. Its Fan Chart application is available on Android and iOS. For more on Starcount's data go to www.starcount.com/pages/score. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

VENICE WATCH: McDormand hails female stories
Monday Sep 1, 2014
VENICE WATCH: McDormand hails female stories

VENICE, Italy (AP) — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press: FRANCES MCDORMAND HAILS WOMEN'S STORIES Frances McDormand says her latest project, "Olive Kitteridge," is unusual — its central character is a woman over 40. The Academy Award-winning actress is in Venice with the four-part HBO miniseries, in which she plays an acerbic schoolteacher in a small Maine town full of troubled souls. "It's kind of a subversive act to tell a story of a woman past a certain age, to develop a four-hour movie based on a marriage and a story of two people past middle age," McDormand told The Associated Press. The 57-year-old, who won an Oscar for "Fargo," received a career prize from the Italian festival on Monday before a red-carpet screening of the show. Based on Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "Olive Kitteridge" is directed by Lisa Cholodenko, whose big-screen features include "Laurel Canyon" and "The Kids Are All Right." It's due to air on HBO in November, but McDormand said the creators thought of it more as a four-hour movie than a TV show. She said the length was necessary to give the story room to breathe. "Ninety minutes isn't enough for a female story," she said. "You can skim the surface in 90 minutes, but you can't really get to the heart of anything. "Long-format television is a better way to tell a female story." —By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless SKARSGARD PRAISES 'FUN' VON TRIER Lars von Trier has been called many things — brilliant, tasteless, provocative. Fun-loving guy is generally not one of them. But frequent collaborator Stellan Skarsgard says he agrees "to everything he asks me to do," because working with von Trier is so much fun. "It might not always be pleasant watching his films, but that's different," Skarsgard said at a Venice news conference for von Trier's five-and-a-half-hour porn-and-storytelling epic "Nymphomaniac." Skarsgard said he agreed the moment von Trier called him and said "Stellan, my next film will be a porno film and I would like you to play the male lead." "Who could resist an invitation like that?" Von Trier was banished from the Cannes Film Festival three years ago for saying he could sympathize "a little bit" with Hitler. Afterward, the director said he would no longer speak in public, and didn't attend Monday's news conference. Instead, Skarsgard phoned him with journalists' questions and then relayed the answers. Producer Louise Vesth announced that von Trier's next project will be an English-language TV series entitled "The House That Jack Built." "Nymphomaniac" — whose director's cut is screening in Venice — stars Charlotte Gainsbourg as a sexually insatiable woman with a taste for S&M who tells her eventful life story to Skarsgard's quiet intellectual. Skarsgard said making it had been educational. "I know a little more about female sexuality, but it's still a mystery," Skarsgard said. "On the other hand, my own sexuality is also a mystery." —By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT TOUCHES 'VILLA TOUMA' "Villa Touma" is a movie about a home, caught up in a dispute about its homeland. Arab-Israeli director Suha Arraf submitted her drama about three Palestinian sisters living in their ancestral house in Ramallah to the Venice Film Festival as a Palestinian entry. That sparked demands for her to return the Israeli public money that went in to the movie. Arraf believes she is caught up in mounting hostility to Arabs in Israel, heightened by the recent Gaza conflict. "I think if my film came before the war, maybe they would talk about why it's Palestinian and not Israeli, but not a storm like this," the director said during an interview in Venice. "I think Gaza has made people totally crazy. We've suffered, as Palestinians inside Israel, a lot in the last two months." She said Arabs had been harassed on the street and some Israelis had boycotted Arab-owned shops and restaurants. "What's happening to me, Suha, as a director is part of what is happening to all the Palestinians inside Israel in the last two months," she said. —By Zara Eldridge Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'Firewatch' woos with debut trailer
Monday Sep 1, 2014
'Firewatch' woos with debut trailer

The first footage from 2015 game "Firewatch" offers exploration, danger and a narrative hook.Delivered as part of a panel talk at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, the debut trailer for "Firewatch" whets appetites for next year's PC, Mac and Linux game. Alumni from award-winning studios Telltale Games ("The Walking Dead"), Double Fine ("The Cave"), Klei Entertainment ("Mark of the Ninja") and 2K Marin ("BioShock 2") are among those working on the forest exploration title. Another member of the team provided the soundtrack for housebound mystery "Gone Home," one of whose supporting characters was involved in forest conservation, just as with the "Firewatch" protagonist. Players inhabit the world of Henry, a fire lookout based in the wilds of Wyoming, and one whose ambiguous relationship with his radio supervisor Delilah shapes the experience of the game's first trailer. Capable though he may be, Henry's not a gung-ho hero, throwing caution to the wind. "I don't think we're safe. This job's not safe," he appeals. "Do people die out here?" "Just stay in your tower, OK?" advises Delilah. "Stay in there ... and watch." But if the trailer is anything to go by, Henry's not the type to stay put. Firewatch - PAX 2014 Reveal Trailer: youtu.be/d02lhvvVSy8Official website: firewatchgame.com Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.