Thursday Jul 31, 2014

Russell Simmons, LL Cool J visit youth at NYC jail

NEW YORK (AP) — A group of young people at a jail complex got some words of encouragement on Thursday from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and actor LL Cool J. The two visited Rikers Island to mark the launch of a national anti-violence program from Simmons' RushCard, a...
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TV

Russell Simmons, LL Cool J visit youth at NYC jail
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
Russell Simmons, LL Cool J visit youth at NYC jail

NEW YORK (AP) — A group of young people at a jail complex got some words of encouragement on Thursday from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and actor LL Cool J. The two visited Rikers Island to mark the launch of a national anti-violence program from Simmons' RushCard, a prepaid debit card. RushCard's Keep the Peace initiative is giving grants to neighborhood organizations. One of those is LIFE Camp, a Queens organization that works with young people, including those at Rikers, to reduce violence. Cool J told the audience that his rough upbringing could have had him where they are if things had worked out differently, and he encouraged them to believe in themselves. "You can absolutely without a doubt do anything you put your mind to," he said. Simmons told them to focus on what's inside them. "It's your spirit you've got to work on," he said. Deputy Warden Clement Glenn said partnering with programs like LIFE Camp is among the ways the Department of Correction tries to get young people to change their behavior. We're "trying to encourage them not to come back into the system, hoping they will integrate into society and become contributing members of their community," he said. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Harper’s Bazaar gets three covers for September issue
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
Harper’s Bazaar gets three covers for September issue

Lady Gaga, Penelope Cruz and Linda Evengelista are the three cover girls chosen by the US edition of Harper's Bazaar for the magazine's hefty September issue.For its next issue, Harper's Bazaar pulled out all the stops and put together three covers, each graced by a different modern icon: a musician, an actress and a model.However, these three covers are just the tip of the iceberg: the portraits of Lady Gaga, Penelope Cruz and Linda Evengelista are part of a larger project headed up by Carine Roitfeld: a portfolio of photos of 19 famous women. Taken between March and May of this year, the photos will be presented in the September issues of the magazine's 30 editions worldwide. Roitfeld, the editor-in-chief of CR Fashion Book and formerly of Vogue Paris, is the global fashion director at Harper's Bazaar, a position that allows her to head up projects for the magazine's multiple editions around the world. "This is a portfolio I've been dreaming of wanting to do even over my 30 years in the business," Roitfeld told WWD. "You need a magazine that has big shoulders for such a project."Shot by Sebastian Faena, with Stephen Gan as creative director, the series features images of Gigi Hadid, Carolyn Murphy, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Penelope Cruz, Lady Gaga, Linda Evangelista, Laetitia Casta, Isabeli Fontana, Lara Stone, Monica Bellucci, Iman, Stacy Martin, Lauren Hutton, Brooke Shields, Joan Smalls, Stephanie Seymour, Eva Herzigova and Mariacarla Boscono. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Jamie Foxx could enter the ring to play Mike Tyson
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
Jamie Foxx could enter the ring to play Mike Tyson

The actor is attached to headline a feature on the boxer's life, Variety reports.After earning an Oscar for his performance as Ray Charles in the 2004 movie "Ray," Jamie Foxx seems to be headed for another epic biopic. According to Variety, the actor is attached to star in a new movie on Mike Tyson and has even talked over the possibility with the famous ear biter himself. The screenplay is currently being developed by Terence Winter, who has credits on "The Sopranos" and "Boardwalk Empire" and penned the script for "The Wolf of Wall Street." Given Winter's participation and the rich and controversial subject matter of Tyson's personal and professional life, the project is bound to be a quality one. Mike Tyson has played himself on the silver screen several times, namely in movies in the "Rocky" and "The Hangover" franchises. He also performed in a one-man show that was filmed by Spike Lee and aired on HBO. Michael Jai White played the boxer in HBO's TV movie "Tyson" in 1995, but the new project would be the first full-length feature on Tyson's life. There is no word yet on the movie's production schedule or title. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Trailer: war breaks out in 'Sleepy Hollow'
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
Trailer: war breaks out in 'Sleepy Hollow'

FOX has unveiled the trailer for its fantasy drama's second season, which premieres on September 22."Sleepy Hollow," which transposes Washington Irving's famous story to a contemporary setting, was renewed last fall after only three episodes had aired. A resurrected Ichabod Crane partners with Sleepy Hollow's sheriff to unravel the mystery surrounding the apparently cursed town. Played by Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, the two protagonists have their work cut out for them in the second season, in which they will attempt to battle the horsemen of the apocalypse and find Katrina (Katia Winter), who has once again fallen into enemy hands. Jenny Mills (Lyndie Greenwood) and Henry Parrish (John Noble) will return as regular characters on the coming season. Timothy Busfield, Matt Barr, Sakina Jaffrey and Neil Jackson will also be seen in recurring roles. The 18 new episodes of "Sleepy Hollow" will air on FOX from September 22. Watch the trailer: youtu.be/Jyl95obG0ac Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Samsung launches world's first flexible TV
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
Samsung launches world's first flexible TV

If you want an ultra-high-definition TV but can't decide on a flat or curved screen, the Samsung UN78S9B might be just the thing.And that's because its 78-inch screen goes from flat to concave curve, on command. Demonstrated for the first time at the 2014 International CES in January, the TV has gone from prototype party piece to actual product and will be going on sale in the company's native South Korea on August 1. The logic goes that curved-display TV screens, especially ones that boast four times the resolution of High Definition, offer a more immersive, cinematic experience -- so great for watching movies and for gaming. However, some things, like using smart TV apps or checking the weather or watching the news might be better on a flat screen. The past several weeks have been very busy for Samsung's TV business. At the end of June it launched three new ranges of flat UHDTVs, including its first sub-$1000 model -- the 40-inch HU6950, then followed that up with the frankly gigantic 105-inch curved screen UN105S9 UHD TV with its equally colossal $120,000 price tag. And while the new bendable TV is the first to market, it won't be the last. Samsung's closet direct rival LG has been equally busy launching new TVs. Earlier this week it launched its own 105-inch curved screen UHDTV and just like Samsung, demonstrated a flat screen TV that converts to a curved screen on command at CES this year. There is currently no word as to how much Samsung's bendable television will cost, or when it will be offered for sale beyond South Korea. However, there is little doubt that momentum is beginning to build in the 4K UHD TV market and that consumers are getting ready to take a chance on what is still, technically speaking, an emerging technology. The latest consumer confidence report from the Consumer Electronics Association (published on July 22) shows that in the US, optimism, and therefore desire to spend big on tech devices, is back at levels not seen since 2012 and that companies that make UHDTVs could be beneficiaries of this newly rediscovered optimism. UHD TVs are not expected to become mainstream consumer devices until the end of the decade, however shipment data and polls reveal that adoption rate is growing and at a faster rate than uptake of HDTV sets when the technology was new and exciting. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Movies

'Guardians' blasts Marvel in a different direction
Friday Aug 1, 2014
'Guardians' blasts Marvel in a different direction

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — Despite its flawless superhero pedigree, there's always been apprehension about "Guardians of the Galaxy." Since the president of Marvel Studios first teased the possibility of making a movie based on the comic book about a team of intergalactic do-gooders, the proposition has been called risky — by critics, by fans and by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige himself. That never mattered to writer-director James Gunn, the horror maven best known for 2006's "Slither." "I could care less whether people think it's risky," Gunn said matter-of-factly earlier this month while reclining in a cushy black chair in a screening room on the Disney lot. It's the same intimate theater where Gunn recently finished work on digitizing and colorizing "Guardians," which is set for release Friday. While the ensemble cosmic romp bears similarities to the superhero mash-up "The Avengers," which earned more than $1.5 billion worldwide, "Guardians" features more obscure characters from the Marvel mythos and — other than a prologue chronicling the moment Chris Pratt's young Peter Quill is plucked from Earth — is set entirely in space. There's no mention of Captain America, no wink from Tony Stark, no baton passed by Thor. "In a lot of ways, it's not a superhero movie," said Gunn. "It's a space adventure. We're not just doing the Marvel thing again. It's different. We're expanding the Marvel universe. We're not replicating the Marvel universe in space. We're going about it in a different way." Gunn paused and reclined back further in his chair. "Yeah, it's probably risky." Unlike 2012's "Avengers," which relied on five decades of superhero history and five films to build up its team, Gunn was tasked with not only adapting a comic series that's only a few years old but also establishing comradery among a band of interstellar rebels that includes a lippy raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper and a burly alien portrayed by wrestler Dave Bautista. "It's a challenge because nobody really knows who we are, and the cool thing about that is we're starting from scratch," said Bautista, who plays Drax the Destroyer. "We can make it whatever we want it to be. The possibilities are endless when you're talking about outer space and all these different civilizations. It can go as far as your imagination can go." The movie's only connections to Marvel's greater cinematic universe are a more detailed look at the all-powerful Infinity Stones, as well as appearances by Thanos, the ginormous alien baddie glimpsed at the end of "Avengers." Gunn had to fight for the brief inclusion of the latter, who was originally envisioned as the film's main villain in a draft by co-writer Nicole Perlman. "I wanted Thanos in the movie," said Gunn. "I wanted to be attached to 'The Avengers.' Admittedly, Thanos was a giant pain in the (expletive) because I had to talk with ("Avengers" writer-director) Joss Whedon and those guys. That was the one part where there were a lot of discussions. At a certain point, I think everyone just gave up, and we just did what we wanted." In spite of the risk involved with launching "Guardians," there's apparently also a good deal of faith. Marvel announced at Comic-Con in San Diego last week that a follow-up, which will be written and directed by Gunn, has already been set for 2017, following planned sequels to "Avengers" and "Captain America." Gunn knows which direction he's headed in. "I'm so glad to have the first one done because I can't wait to do more and not to have to set up as much stuff as I had to set up," said the director. "I have so many things in my head. I really could just live in this universe. Who knows what I'll feel like in a few years, but I know Chris and I have said that we're both happy just doing this right now." ___ Online: http://marvel.com/guardians ___ AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Domhnall Gleeson joins DiCaprio in 'The Revenant'
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
Domhnall Gleeson joins DiCaprio in 'The Revenant'

The actor who played Bill Weasley in the "Harry Potter" movies has joined the cast of "The Revenant," the forthcoming film from director Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu ("Babel," "21 Grams").The western follows the soldier Hugh Glass in his quest for revenge on the friends who left him for dead after he was attacked by a bear on the banks of the Missouri River. "The Revenant" boasts a star-studded cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, fresh off of his critically acclaimed performance in "The Wolf of Wall Street." Also featured are Tom Hardy, who will appear in the title role of "Mad Max: Fury Road" from next May, and Will Poulter, who will return to theaters this September in "The Maze Runner." Domhnall Gleeson will join the cast once he has wrapped up on the set of the forthcoming "Star Wars." Details on his role in "Episode 7" remain top secret. Since his "Harry Potter" days, the actor has starred in "About Time" and "Anna Karenina" and will soon be seen in Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken," due in US theaters in on December 25. "The Revenant" is due for release on January 8, 2016. In the meantime, Iñarritu's latest film "Birdman," starring Michael Keaton and Emma Stone, hits US theaters on October 17. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Jamie Foxx could enter the ring to play Mike Tyson
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
Jamie Foxx could enter the ring to play Mike Tyson

The actor is attached to headline a feature on the boxer's life, Variety reports.After earning an Oscar for his performance as Ray Charles in the 2004 movie "Ray," Jamie Foxx seems to be headed for another epic biopic. According to Variety, the actor is attached to star in a new movie on Mike Tyson and has even talked over the possibility with the famous ear biter himself. The screenplay is currently being developed by Terence Winter, who has credits on "The Sopranos" and "Boardwalk Empire" and penned the script for "The Wolf of Wall Street." Given Winter's participation and the rich and controversial subject matter of Tyson's personal and professional life, the project is bound to be a quality one. Mike Tyson has played himself on the silver screen several times, namely in movies in the "Rocky" and "The Hangover" franchises. He also performed in a one-man show that was filmed by Spike Lee and aired on HBO. Michael Jai White played the boxer in HBO's TV movie "Tyson" in 1995, but the new project would be the first full-length feature on Tyson's life. There is no word yet on the movie's production schedule or title. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'Godfather of Makeup' Dick Smith dead at 92
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
'Godfather of Makeup' Dick Smith dead at 92

NEW YORK (AP) — Dick Smith, the Oscar-winning "Godfather of Makeup" who amused, fascinated and terrified moviegoers by devising unforgettable transformations for Marlon Brando in "The Godfather" and Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" among many others, has died. He was 92. Smith, the first makeup artist to win an Academy Award for lifetime achievement, died Wednesday night in California of natural causes. His death was confirmed to The Associated Press by the president of the Make-up Artists and Hairstylists Guild, Sue Cabral-Ebert, who declined to give further details. "Our lives have been blessed by our father's steadfast love and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kind words in remembrance of him," Smith's sons, David and Douglas Smith, said in a statement. Widely regarded as the master in his field, Smith helped pioneer such now-standard materials as liquid foam latex and make special effects more realistic and spectacular. He was also known and loved for his generosity, whether exchanging letters about his craft with a teenage J.J. Abrams or mentoring future Oscar-winner special effects artist Rick Baker, who in 2011 presented Smith his honorary statuette. "He took makeup to a whole new level; it's unbelievable what this man has done," Baker, whose own credits include "Men in Black" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, said at the ceremony. "His work inspired a whole generation of up and coming artists." With Smith on hand, the middle-aged Brando was transformed into the jowly patriarch Vito Corleone, the teenage Blair into a scarred and wild-eyed demon, and William Hurt into a mass of protoplasm for "Altered States." Smith and Paul LeBlanc shared an Oscar in 1985 for their work on "Amadeus," for which Smith spent hours each day turning 44-year-old F. Murray Abraham into an elderly man as Mozart's rival Antonio Salieri. "Dick Smith is the best makeup man in the world," Abraham, himself an Oscar winner for "Amadeus," later said. "Once I looked into a mirror, at my face, I felt like it was completely convincing." Smith also fashioned a mohawk out of a plastic cap and chopped up hair for Robert De Niro in "Taxi Driver" and created breasts out of foam rubber for Katherine Ross in "The Stepford Wives." Through foam latex and a newly flexible kind of false eyelashes, Smith managed to capture extreme old age in "Little Big Man," which starred Dustin Hoffman, in his mid-30s at the time, as a centenarian claiming he had survived the Battle of Little Big Horn. "Even when the characters were fantastically weird, I always tried to make them believable," Smith told the Washington Post in 2007. "Actors have to feel like they are the person they are portraying." Before breaking through in Hollywood, he was among the first great makeup artists for television. Smith headed NBC's makeup division from 1945 to 1959, using soldered wire to create a panther mask for a then-unknown Eva Marie Saint and slushed-in latex to enhance the nose of Jose Ferrer for "Cyrano de Bergerac." In the 1960s, his experience turning Jonathan Frid into a 100-plus-year-old vampire for the series "Dark Shadows" helped prepare him for "Little Big Man." His other notable aging projects included Walter Matthau for "The Sunshine Boys" and Hal Holbrook for the 1967 TV special "Mark Twain Tonight!" for which Smith won a Primetime Emmy. Holbrook and Matthau were among those who participated in a 1991 TV documentary about Smith. A native of Larchmont, N.Y., Smith described himself as an introvert with little interest in special effects until spotting an instructional manual while attending Yale University. He became so obsessed that he made himself up as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, scaring his classmates. He later turned up at a screening of "Frankenstein" as the title character. After school and serving in the Army, he acted on his father's advice and took a chance on television. One of his early assignments was applying makeup to Democratic Party leaders at the 1948 national convention. Out of all the praise he received, Smith liked to cite a compliment paid by Laurence Olivier, whom Smith worked on for a 1959 TV production of "The Moon and Sixpence." Olivier's character was based on the painter Gauguin, who died of leprosy. Smith never forgot Olivier's response after he completed making up the actor. "'Dick, it (the makeup) does the acting for me,'" Olivier told him. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Samsung launches world's first flexible TV
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
Samsung launches world's first flexible TV

If you want an ultra-high-definition TV but can't decide on a flat or curved screen, the Samsung UN78S9B might be just the thing.And that's because its 78-inch screen goes from flat to concave curve, on command. Demonstrated for the first time at the 2014 International CES in January, the TV has gone from prototype party piece to actual product and will be going on sale in the company's native South Korea on August 1. The logic goes that curved-display TV screens, especially ones that boast four times the resolution of High Definition, offer a more immersive, cinematic experience -- so great for watching movies and for gaming. However, some things, like using smart TV apps or checking the weather or watching the news might be better on a flat screen. The past several weeks have been very busy for Samsung's TV business. At the end of June it launched three new ranges of flat UHDTVs, including its first sub-$1000 model -- the 40-inch HU6950, then followed that up with the frankly gigantic 105-inch curved screen UN105S9 UHD TV with its equally colossal $120,000 price tag. And while the new bendable TV is the first to market, it won't be the last. Samsung's closet direct rival LG has been equally busy launching new TVs. Earlier this week it launched its own 105-inch curved screen UHDTV and just like Samsung, demonstrated a flat screen TV that converts to a curved screen on command at CES this year. There is currently no word as to how much Samsung's bendable television will cost, or when it will be offered for sale beyond South Korea. However, there is little doubt that momentum is beginning to build in the 4K UHD TV market and that consumers are getting ready to take a chance on what is still, technically speaking, an emerging technology. The latest consumer confidence report from the Consumer Electronics Association (published on July 22) shows that in the US, optimism, and therefore desire to spend big on tech devices, is back at levels not seen since 2012 and that companies that make UHDTVs could be beneficiaries of this newly rediscovered optimism. UHD TVs are not expected to become mainstream consumer devices until the end of the decade, however shipment data and polls reveal that adoption rate is growing and at a faster rate than uptake of HDTV sets when the technology was new and exciting. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Events

'Godfather of Makeup' Dick Smith dead at 92
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
'Godfather of Makeup' Dick Smith dead at 92

NEW YORK (AP) — Dick Smith, the Oscar-winning "Godfather of Makeup" who amused, fascinated and terrified moviegoers by devising unforgettable transformations for Marlon Brando in "The Godfather" and Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" among many others, has died. He was 92. Smith, the first makeup artist to win an Academy Award for lifetime achievement, died Wednesday night in California of natural causes. His death was confirmed to The Associated Press by the president of the Make-up Artists and Hairstylists Guild, Sue Cabral-Ebert, who declined to give further details. "Our lives have been blessed by our father's steadfast love and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kind words in remembrance of him," Smith's sons, David and Douglas Smith, said in a statement. Widely regarded as the master in his field, Smith helped pioneer such now-standard materials as liquid foam latex and make special effects more realistic and spectacular. He was also known and loved for his generosity, whether exchanging letters about his craft with a teenage J.J. Abrams or mentoring future Oscar-winner special effects artist Rick Baker, who in 2011 presented Smith his honorary statuette. "He took makeup to a whole new level; it's unbelievable what this man has done," Baker, whose own credits include "Men in Black" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, said at the ceremony. "His work inspired a whole generation of up and coming artists." With Smith on hand, the middle-aged Brando was transformed into the jowly patriarch Vito Corleone, the teenage Blair into a scarred and wild-eyed demon, and William Hurt into a mass of protoplasm for "Altered States." Smith and Paul LeBlanc shared an Oscar in 1985 for their work on "Amadeus," for which Smith spent hours each day turning 44-year-old F. Murray Abraham into an elderly man as Mozart's rival Antonio Salieri. "Dick Smith is the best makeup man in the world," Abraham, himself an Oscar winner for "Amadeus," later said. "Once I looked into a mirror, at my face, I felt like it was completely convincing." Smith also fashioned a mohawk out of a plastic cap and chopped up hair for Robert De Niro in "Taxi Driver" and created breasts out of foam rubber for Katherine Ross in "The Stepford Wives." Through foam latex and a newly flexible kind of false eyelashes, Smith managed to capture extreme old age in "Little Big Man," which starred Dustin Hoffman, in his mid-30s at the time, as a centenarian claiming he had survived the Battle of Little Big Horn. "Even when the characters were fantastically weird, I always tried to make them believable," Smith told the Washington Post in 2007. "Actors have to feel like they are the person they are portraying." Before breaking through in Hollywood, he was among the first great makeup artists for television. Smith headed NBC's makeup division from 1945 to 1959, using soldered wire to create a panther mask for a then-unknown Eva Marie Saint and slushed-in latex to enhance the nose of Jose Ferrer for "Cyrano de Bergerac." In the 1960s, his experience turning Jonathan Frid into a 100-plus-year-old vampire for the series "Dark Shadows" helped prepare him for "Little Big Man." His other notable aging projects included Walter Matthau for "The Sunshine Boys" and Hal Holbrook for the 1967 TV special "Mark Twain Tonight!" for which Smith won a Primetime Emmy. Holbrook and Matthau were among those who participated in a 1991 TV documentary about Smith. A native of Larchmont, N.Y., Smith described himself as an introvert with little interest in special effects until spotting an instructional manual while attending Yale University. He became so obsessed that he made himself up as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, scaring his classmates. He later turned up at a screening of "Frankenstein" as the title character. After school and serving in the Army, he acted on his father's advice and took a chance on television. One of his early assignments was applying makeup to Democratic Party leaders at the 1948 national convention. Out of all the praise he received, Smith liked to cite a compliment paid by Laurence Olivier, whom Smith worked on for a 1959 TV production of "The Moon and Sixpence." Olivier's character was based on the painter Gauguin, who died of leprosy. Smith never forgot Olivier's response after he completed making up the actor. "'Dick, it (the makeup) does the acting for me,'" Olivier told him. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Usher 'overwhelmed' by supporters of foundation
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
Usher 'overwhelmed' by supporters of foundation

ATLANTA (AP) — Rhythm and blues singer Usher said he was overwhelmed with gratitude by the amount of supporters at his New Look Foundation's 15th anniversary luncheon. Legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, director Kenny Leon and producer Jermaine Dupri were among more than 450 attendees at foundation's President's Circle Awards luncheon Thursday in downtown Atlanta. An auction was held during the ceremony, raising more than $98,000 for the youth development organization founded by the Grammy-winning singer. Rapper Ludacris hosted the event. He joked about being a better dancer than Usher and spoke about his admiration of the singer's charitable endeavors. Josh Kaufman, Season 6 winner of NBC's "The Voice," also performed his single "Am I Wrong" during the two-hour ceremony. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Veteran TV impresario Robert Halmi Sr. dies at 90
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
Veteran TV impresario Robert Halmi Sr. dies at 90

NEW YORK (AP) — Prolific TV producer Robert Halmi, Sr., has died. Halmi died Wednesday in his New York City home at 90, said spokesman Russ Patrick. The Hungarian-born Halmi found success as a magazine photographer after arriving in America in 1951, shooting pictures for such publications as Life and Sports Illustrated. But in a mid-career switch in the mid-1960s, he turned to moving pictures. During the next half-century he produced more than 200 programs and miniseries for television. His specialty was family friendly entertainment, with TV projects including "The Josephine Baker Story," the Bette Midler-starring "Gypsy," ''Merlin," ''Dinotopia" and "The Lion in Winter" with Glenn Close. Other projects included TV versions of "The Odyssey," ''Alice in Wonderland," ''Gulliver's Travels," starring Ted Danson, and "In Cold Blood," with Anthony Edwards and Eric Roberts. Often teaming on his films with his son, Robert Halmi Jr., he claimed every project was a passion project, including the 1994 miniseries version of "Scarlett," Alexandra Ripley's sequel to "Gone With the Wind," which he defended as not a rip-off of the world's most beloved movie, but "an eight-hour study in American history." Still active well into the new millennium, he produced the TV miniseries "Neverland" in 2011, and a year later a new version of "Treasure Island," starring Donald Sutherland and Elijah Wood. "Today's producers are just money people who have X number of dollars, and with them they buy people, mostly on the phone," Halmi told The Associated Press in 1993. "I'm somebody with pretty good taste who goes one step further. With the creative process, everything has to be nurtured. I know on every project, every day, where it stands dollars-and-cents-wise, but I also know did someone have a cold." His projects were honored with 136 Emmy Awards. A Peabody Award citation hailed him as "perhaps the last of the great network television impresarios." Halmi recently had begun filming "Olympus," a mythological series for the Syfy channel. "There are two English words which I never could understand or cope with ever since I came to this country," he told the AP. "One is 'security.' The other is 'retirement.'" Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'Destiny' attracts 4.6 million gamers in beta test
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
'Destiny' attracts 4.6 million gamers in beta test

On July 30, Activision and Bungie announced the beta test results for their new sci-fi shooter game."Halo" had better watch out. A total of 4,638,937 unique players tried out "Destiny" in its beta version, allowing the game to set a new record for a next-generation console title. The two companies organized the beta test from July 17 to 27 to collect feedback from players and better prepare for the game's official launch on September 9.  Preorder customers were able to try out all of the main activities featured in "Destiny," which won three prizes at the 2013 Gamescom Awards.  "We were totally blown away by the number of people who played the beta," said Pete Parsons, chief operating officer at Bungie. "We surpassed even our own goals and the feedback was invaluable. We cannot thank the community enough, the response was humbling and in the weeks ahead we'll be working hard to ensure that Destiny lives up to the expectations at launch." Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, "Destiny" places the player in the role of one of the Guardians, the warriors responsible for preserving what's left of human civilization. In addition to fighting off aliens at home, the Guardians may be led to travel to Mars or Venus to reclaim what was stolen from humanity during the Golden Age. Sci-fi multiplayer shooter enthusiasts can find out more when the game launches on September 9. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

What problem? Ariana Grande is new princess of pop
Thursday Jul 31, 2014
What problem? Ariana Grande is new princess of pop

NEW YORK (AP) — Ariana Grande is the new princess of pop, topping the charts with her addictive single "Problem," impressing critics with her thick, gliding vocal range and maintaining an image that her young Nickelodeon fans can vibe with, signature ponytail and all. The 21-year-old is having the best time of her life. But it's also the worst. Her grandfather, with whom she had a very close relationship, died last week. "I personally felt like I've been not as appreciative as I could be of the music success I wanted all my life because I've been distracted by my grandfather and his health and this being such a dark time," she said in an interview. Grande said she hasn't had much time to "sit back and realize and just enjoy" her musical breakthrough, and what's coming next may not allow any time for it. Her sophomore album, "My Everything," arrives Aug. 25 at midnight, moments after the MTV Video Music Awards, where Grande is nominated for three moonmen. She released a new single, "Bang Bang," this week with Nicki Minaj and Jessie J, which quickly topped the iTunes charts. The Iggy Azalea-assisted "Problem," which has sold 2.6 million tracks so far, is spending its 13th consecutive week in the Top 10 and another single, "Break Free," is a rising radio hit. "What's so attractive about Ariana is, No. 1 she's an extraordinary talent, No. 2 she's an exceptional actress, and the third part of it — which makes her a triple threat — is she has this wildly successful fan base on the Internet unlike anything we've seen in some time," said Monte Lipman, the CEO and chairman of Republic Records who signed Grande when she was 17. MTV reprised its "Total Request Live" for a day for Grande. Amy Doyle, the network's executive vice president of music and talent programming strategy, said MTV sat down with Grande's team to plan ways to help launch her new album. "If 'TRL' was around today, Ariana would be a fixture in the same way Britney (Spears) was when Britney was of the moment," said Doyle, who said the network had been thinking of ways to bring back "TRL," but hadn't come up with the right idea until they thought of Grande. "She was absolutely the perfect artist to do that because her fans are active and she's very social." The triumph in music comes a year after Grande released her debut, "Yours Truly," which featured the multiplatinum Top 10 hit "The Way" and drew comparisons to Mariah Carey. At about the same time, Nickelodeon premiered "Sam & Cat," which at times was the network's most popular series. The network announced this month the show wouldn't have a second season. Grande said she's learning to find herself outside of her TV character. "I have a lot of mixed emotions about it because it's easier putting yourself out there as somebody else than it is to put your actual self out there," she said. "It took me a long time to embrace that and to become comfortable enough in my own skin and let down that sort of Cat Valentine shield." Grande's fans from the show have carried over to her music career, a transition other entertainers have struggled with. When "The Way" was released last year, it sold an impressive 219,000 units in its first week. "Problem" sold a whopping 438,000 tracks in its debut week in May. Grande is changing her image, but not drastically: She's traded her puffy, princess-style dresses for miniskirts paired with knee-high boots. And Grande says she's ready for the celebrity spotlight. "I feel like I'm doing all the right things in my personal life to maintain a healthy space to make sure I am ready for all of this and ready for the attention that comes with this because, you know, I'm mostly focused on music, but I understand that there's a lot that comes with being a part of this industry," she said. Grande's new album will also help her land an audience outside of young kids, thanks to its eclectic collaborators: The Weeknd, Childish Gambino, A$AP Ferg and Big Sean make appearances; EDM darlings David Guetta and Zedd work on tracks; and hitmakers like Max Martin, Benny Blanco, Ryan Tedder and Rodney Jerkins are also part of the lineup. There's even a ballad written by One Direction's Harry Styles. "It's interesting because when you hear it, it makes sense," said Grande, who picked the collaborators. She added: "If I don't want to do it, it won't be done." ___ Online: http://www.arianagrande.com/ Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.