Friday Mar 27, 2015

Top iPhone apps: 'Mr Jump'

A new exemplar of straightforward but rock-hard iOS apps arises in "Mr Jump," which becomes a chart-topper in the USA, Germany, France and Canada. More details on this and other top free iPhone applications by country for the week, by number of downloads and recorded on March 26, 2015, can be...
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TV

Top iPhone apps: 'Mr Jump'
Friday Mar 27, 2015
Top iPhone apps: 'Mr Jump'

A new exemplar of straightforward but rock-hard iOS apps arises in "Mr Jump," which becomes a chart-topper in the USA, Germany, France and Canada. More details on this and other top free iPhone applications by country for the week, by number of downloads and recorded on March 26, 2015, can be found below.USAMr Jump (Games)The latest successful one-button game, following in the footsteps of "ZigZag," "Crossy Road" and "Flappy Bird," with the aim of getting Mr Jump through a simply stylized series of challenging levels. A $0.99 In-App Purchase provides a key, $1.99 removes ads.itunes.apple.com/us/app/id955157084 UKWhatsApp Messenger (Social Networking)Multimedia messaging via wifi or carrier data connection, instant integration with existing phone contacts lists, group chats, and recently updated with support for variable font sizes and fast access to recent camera roll photos.itunes.apple.com/gb/app/id310633997 AustraliaNetflix (Entertainment)The Netflix app, which went live in Australia on March 24, provides access to TV shows and movies hosted by the streaming service for active subscribers.itunes.apple.com/au/app/id363590051 ChinaFotoplace (Photo and Video)Photo-editing tool that moves users closer to film stills than other filter apps might do, with various aspect ratios and subtitling options.itunes.apple.com/cn/app/id877174386 GermanyMr Jump (Games)itunes.apple.com/de/app/id955157084 FranceMr Jump (Games)itunes.apple.com/fr/app/id955157084 South KoreaDark Echo (Games)Using minimalistic shapes to represent soundwaves, "Dark Echo" presents players with 80 levels to successfully navigate in a different approach to the survival horror genre. Usually paid, but free as part of an App of the Week promotion.itunes.apple.com/sk/app/id951177560 CanadaMr Jump (Games)itunes.apple.com/ca/app/id955157084 BrazilWhatsApp Messenger (Social Networking)itunes.apple.com/br/app/id310633997 Indiahotstar (Entertainment)Offering full episodes of TV shows sourced from Fox's STAR India network of channels, as well as Bollywood blockbusters and select US-produced shows as well.itunes.apple.com/in/app/id934459219 Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Obama talks drug war with 'The Wire' creator David Simon
Friday Mar 27, 2015
Obama talks drug war with 'The Wire' creator David Simon

WASHINGTON (AP) — Talk of overhauling the criminal justice system is serious business — but before diving into the subject, President Barack Obama had something else he wanted to say. Obama told David Simon, creator of the acclaimed HBO series "The Wire," that he was a huge fan of the program about life in drug-plagued Baltimore. Obama and Simon sat down this week at the White House for a 12-minute discussion about the need to reduce the incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders and steps to make cities safer. A video of their conversation was played at Thursday's Bipartisan Criminal Justice Summit in Washington. Obama said "The Wire" wasn't just one of the greatest TV shows ever. He called it one of the greatest "pieces of art" in the last couple of decades. The president said people looking for solutions to the drug war need to "humanize what so often, on the local news, is just a bunch of shadowy characters and tell their stories." "That's where the work you've done has been so important," Obama told Simon. Obama once again paid tribute to his favorite "Wire" character: Omar Little, a stick-up man who targets drug dealers. ___ Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWY79JCfhjw&feature=youtu.be Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

With 'Downton Abbey's coming demise, here are 5 past deaths
Thursday Mar 26, 2015
With 'Downton Abbey's coming demise, here are 5 past deaths

NEW YORK (AP) — While announcing on Thursday that next season's "Downton Abbey" will be its last, executive producer Gareth Neame declined to say who among the Crawley clan and staff will survive until the series' final fade-out. But just as with real life, there are no guarantees, which the first five "Downton" seasons vividly displays. Here are five of our favorite (or should we say mourned?) casualties: — Kemal Pamuk (played by Theo James). A dashing Turkish diplomat visiting Downton Abbey in Season 1, he seduces winsome Lady Mary, then rudely dies in her bed, which leads to a comic yet successful effort to avert scandal and secure Mary's reputation. — Lady Sybil (played by Jessica Brown Findlay). The Crowleys' youngest daughter, beautiful and headstrong, dies in childbirth in Season 3, leaving the family and staff bereaved and shattering her husband, Tom Branson. — Matthew Crawley (played by Dan Stevens). Lady Mary's husband and the love of her life, he is killed in a car crash in Season 3 only hours after the birth of his son. — Michael Gregson (played by Charles Edwards). An editor and publisher for The Sketch, a London magazine, he falls in love with the perennially lovelorn Lady Edith. But a risky scheme to shed his long-institutionalized wife and marry Edith leads to his demise, confirmed in Season 5, leaving Edith loveless yet again. — Isis (played by Ellie, then Abbie). The family's yellow Labrador retriever, she arrives on the scene in Season 2 (replacing Pharoah, the initial "Downton" pooch, whose doggie derriere continues to grace the series' opening titles posthumously). Sadly, Isis likewise meets her maker in Season 5, succumbing to cancer. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Frazier Moore from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

How will Fox update 'The X-Files' in its miniseries revival?
Thursday Mar 26, 2015
How will Fox update 'The X-Files' in its miniseries revival?

The cult 1990s series will return to the small screen with six new episodes, which are set to enter production this summer. But how will writers and producers update "The X-Files," a highly influential show that defined an era?For Fox, there's a lot at stake in this "X-Files" revival, which already has the internet abuzz with speculation. Will the network seek to acquaint a new generation of viewers with its quintessential cult series? Or will it cater instead to first-generation fans, perhaps by shedding light on a few long-unresolved mysteries? Either way, the six episodes are certain to be action-packed. But, in light of the changes in the TV landscape since 2002, what type of storyline can we expect? A trailblazer in its day, Chris Carter's drama will require some adapting to today's world, with its overload of information and misinformation. Conspiracy theories are everywhere "The X-Files" debuted on the small screen in 1993 with the tagline "The truth is out there." Government cover-ups and lies featured throughout the episodes, driving the investigations of Fox Mulder, whose little sister was abducted by the aliens that had been colonizing Earth for several decades. Today, thanks to the internet, theories of government and global conspiracies are more widespread than ever, and David Duchovny's character may not seem like such an outsider anymore. Particularly in the wake of revelations on the NSA's data collection practices, distrust of the US government is no longer synonymous with kooky paranoia. Reinventing the premise While "The X-Files" wasn't the first series to depict paranormal phenomena and alien invasions, its premise was nonetheless rather unusual in the 1990s, when the majority of serious dramas focused on doctors, cops or lawyers. In 2015, however, supernatural and fantasy themes have all but taken over small screen drama, as evidenced by the popularity of shows like "The Walking Dead" and "Game of Thrones." "The X-Files" also broke the mold with its narrative structure, which included multiple ongoing sub-plots and questions left unanswered over several episodes, or even several seasons. This element has also become a staple of contemporary drama fare, as viewers of "Lost" and "Fringe" can attest. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

'Downton Abbey' to end after its upcoming 6th season
Thursday Mar 26, 2015
'Downton Abbey' to end after its upcoming 6th season

NEW YORK (AP) — A grand manor will close its doors to millions of weekly guests after "Downton Abbey" concludes next year. Producers of the popular British period drama on Thursday confirmed it will end after its sixth season, scheduled to air in the United States in early 2016. The series, which airs earlier in the U.K., will have its finale on Christmas Day 2015. "Our feeling is that it's good to quit while you're ahead," executive producer Gareth Neame said. "We feel the show is in incredibly strong shape, the scripts that we're working on for the upcoming season are fantastic and the show is so popular globally. But the danger with this sort of thing is to let it go on forever." He said the decision to wrap was made by him and Julian Fellowes, who created the series and has written every episode, in conjunction with the cast. He said there are no plans in place for a rumored "Downton Abbey" feature film or a series spinoff. The acclaimed, beloved and awards-showered drama has tracked the fates of the aristocratic Crawley clan and its servants amid the social upheavals of pre-World War I Britain into the 1920s, as the characters of upper and lower classes cope with their rapidly changing world. Stars include Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith. The series premiered on the U.K.'s ITV network in 2010 and on PBS' "Masterpiece" anthology in early 2011, inspired in part by the 2001 Robert Altman film "Gosford Park" (written by Fellowes) and presented as a variation on the British classic "Upstairs, Downstairs." "When we set out to do this in the first place," Neame said, "we thought we would have a good success in the U.K. and that very traditional outlets for British content globally would be there." But almost instantly "Downton Abbey" took on a life of its own. "We did not know we would be in 250 territories worldwide," Neame said. "We didn't know we would be one of the biggest shows on American television." In the U.K., it became the highest-rated drama of the past decade, with an average of 11 million viewers over its five seasons. Season 5, which concluded in the U.S. this month, drew an average audience of 12.9 million viewers. "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton called the series "a gift from the television gods." She said it coincided with the 2009 rebranding of "Masterpiece," which, among many changes, led to dropping "Theatre" from its title. "And along came 'Sherlock' and 'Downton' in the same season and transformed us in many ways: drawing a giant audience, a new audience; helping pull in an underwriter; solidify our position with stations and donors to the station," Eaton said. "Then we created the Masterpiece Trust. So, a complete game-changer." "Downton" also benefited from the shift in how TV is consumed, including binge viewing, and the growth of social media, which turned watching telecasts into group experiences, she said. She was optimistic about life after "Downton." She noted that "Poldark" and "Indian Summers," in the "Downton" mode of extended British series, are coming to "Masterpiece." "'Indian Summers' is even sexier than 'Downton,'" she said. "And 'Poldark' has a death and a birth and money and all the things you would expect." And, for one more turn, there's "Downton Abbey." Production of the upcoming 13-hour season is well underway, Neame said, but he kept mum on any details apart from saying the current characters would be back and be given satisfying resolutions. "We very much have an eye to where the characters will end up," he said. "What will become of poor Edith? Will Anna and Bates ever get a break? People want to know these things!" While Neame acknowledged the temptation to carry on such a breakout success indefinitely, the series, he said, "has always been viewed by everyone involved as a bespoke, well-crafted piece of popular television." The decision to call it quits was reached through a process of conversations. But having now made the decision official, Neame said, meant "a very emotional day for all of the people involved in the show." ___ Television Writer Lynn Elber contributed to this report. ___ EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Frazier Moore from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Movies

Schwarzenegger's back for high-octane 'Terminator: Genisys'
Thursday Mar 26, 2015
Schwarzenegger's back for high-octane 'Terminator: Genisys'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — As promised, the Terminator and the man who originated the steely machine — Arnold Schwarzenegger — are back this summer for another go in "Terminator: Genisys," and Paramount Pictures, eager for a blockbuster, has already fired up a machine of its own — the publicity kind. With four films, over $1 billion in box office receipts, and a jumbled time-travel mythology, "Terminator: Genisys" is taking the elements of James Cameron's 1984 original and twisting them a bit to create an entirely new timeline. Getting a jump on a summer that's chock full of franchise fare, including continuations of "The Avengers" and "Jurassic Park," Paramount has undertaken an early publicity campaign, including the recent showcasing of a few minutes of action-packed footage from "Terminator: Genisys." Then, Schwarzenegger and other key cast members attended a press event earlier this week on the Paramount lot — all to help generate early buzz for what the studio hopes will be a bona fide blockbuster. Paramount is on a major push to restore its once robust production prowess. Although its franchises, including "Transformers" and "Mission: Impossible," have been successful, the studio has lagged behind its Hollywood counterparts in recent years. Seated on a massive couch next to his three new co-stars, Schwarzenegger seemed glad to be back. "I watched all the movies again to really get up to speed with the character," he said. The film opens in a familiar spot — 2029, when the war against the all-powerful artificial intelligence system Skynet is raging. Resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) once again sends soldier Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to save his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), from being killed by a Terminator. But this time, things are different. Sarah has her own protector: An aged Terminator who has raised her since childhood. "We're really harking back to James Cameron's original characters that were in one and two and we're taking it from there," said Emilia Clarke. The footage — basically a trailer on steroids — takes what fans have already seen in the first trailer, which debuted in December, and gives everything a bit more context, like what happens when Kyle pops up in 1984 and why that school bus starts cartwheeling on the Golden Gate Bridge, in addition to one massive secret. The project on the whole is an intensely hush-hush endeavor, but director Alan Taylor ("Thor: The Dark World") has said many times that, at its heart, the film is about man's relationship to technology in the modern age. In 2015, that idea has evolved from when James Cameron first introduced us to the T-800 31 years ago. "In '84, this was total science fiction — when machines take over. And now, we're there," said Schwarzenegger. "That's the wild thing about it. When we did this movie, it was kind of almost reality, unlike in 1984 where we thought, 'oh well wouldn't this be a funny world.' Things have changed." Jason Clarke jumped in to agree. "Good science fiction is relatable. It mirrors what we're going through and Cameron set up wonderful, iconic metaphors and characters for us to play with," he said. "Judgment Day still exists. It just might not be nuclear." While there are many Terminator die-hards out there waiting, as Courtney says, "to criticize this thing," when it finally hits theaters on July 1, he believes they'll be pleasantly surprised. "The beauty of what we've done is not only stayed loyal to the original source material but opened it up to a whole new generation," said Courtney. "I think we'll succeed in bringing them in." Paramount and franchise partner Skydance Productions plan two more "Terminator" films in the next few years. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Lindsey Bahr from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

'Fifty Shades' director Taylor-Johnson bows out of franchise
Thursday Mar 26, 2015
'Fifty Shades' director Taylor-Johnson bows out of franchise

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sam Taylor-Johnson will not be returning to direct the sequels to "Fifty Shades of Grey," she announced Wednesday night. "Directing 'Fifty Shades of Grey' has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful," she said in a statement to industry site Deadline in which she thanked Universal Pictures. Taylor-Johnson's $40 million adaptation of author E L James' erotic novel has grossed a staggering $558 million worldwide in just six weeks in theaters, but even before the film debuted, rumors circulated that she would not likely be the person ushering "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed" to the big screen. Stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are expected to return for both sequels, which have yet to be officially announced. While it is nothing new for directors to exit franchises after the first film — "Twilight," ''The Hunger Games," and "Divergent" all made directing changes between their first and second installments — Taylor-Johnson and James' fraught on-set relationship was widely reported. Earlier this year, James, also a producer on the film, alluded to their conflicts, telling The Associated Press that she "had to fight for a lot of things really hard," which included a disagreement over the last line of the film. Still, in her statement, Taylor-Johnson made sure to note the "close and lasting relationships" she formed with the cast, producers, crew and "most especially, with Dakota and Jamie." She added: "I wish nothing but success to whosoever takes on the exciting challenges of films two and three." A representative for Universal Pictures had no comment. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Fully animated Smurfs reboot announced
Thursday Mar 26, 2015
Fully animated Smurfs reboot announced

The new movie is scheduled to hit cinema screens on March 31, 2017 and promises to be closer to the original Peyo comic books than Sony's previous two attempts.Sony's 2011 "The Smurfs" and its 2013 sequel "The Smurfs 2" mixed animation with live action and, in the case of the latter, Katy Perry, but according to director Kelly Asbury this hybrid approach is being dumped in favor of traditional animation for the next installment, as is any connection with the films that have preceded it. As Asbury explained in his blog: "Since this new film has no connection to the previous live action hybrids, we have a whole new world to create and it is critical to me and my crew that we deliver a movie that will enchant families and fans worldwide for years to come." The third Sony-produced Smurfs installment had been scheduled to land in 2016 but thanks to the new date Asbury promises the extra time will give him and his team the chance to deliver "the best movie possible without compromising -- I could not be more happy!" Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Ben Mendelsohn tipped for 'Star Wars' spin-off role
Thursday Mar 26, 2015
Ben Mendelsohn tipped for 'Star Wars' spin-off role

The Australian actor who has carved out a niche as the go-to guy for psychopathic, unhinged, malevolent and yet likeable characters in everything from "Killing Me Softly" to "The Dark Knight Rises," has been linked to a major role in "Star Wars: Rogue One," according to The Wrap.The film, one of a number of spin-offs planned since Disney secured the rights to the George Lucas sci-fi franchise, stars UK actress Felicity Jones ("The Theory of Everything") and will be directed by Gareth Edwards (who most recently helmed the 2014 "Godzilla" reboot). Filming is yet to commence but the movie is expected to land in cinemas in December 2016. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Macau hosts glittering Asian Film Awards
Wednesday Mar 25, 2015
Macau hosts glittering Asian Film Awards

Chinese cinema's leading lights dominated the winners' podium at the star-studded Asian Film Awards on Wednesday, with local stars scooping three of the four top prizes in the glitzy gambling hub of Macau."The Golden Era", a biopic of an acclaimed Chinese writer directed by Hong Kong's Ann Hui, earned her the Best Director award, while the Best Movie gong went to "Blind Massage" from controversial director Lou Ye, a story based on the little-known industry in China that featured blind amateur actors. Continuing China's run of luck, the prize for Best Actor went to rising local star Liao Fan, who bagged the award for his role in cop thriller "Black Coal, Thin Ice". Liao, who made his fame by winning the top acting award at the Berlin International Festival last year, said he was delighted to have won. "I used my instincts to act. I will keep trying new roles," he told reporters at the backstage after receiving the award. Hui, whose movie also had the most nominations with five, said she was "very happy" with the director's award. She jokingly said she wanted to "donate" half of the trophy to the movie's crew for their key role in making it a success. The awards, organised by the Hong Kong International Film Festival and now in their ninth year, were held at Macau's luxurious Venetian resort, and are aimed at celebrating the region's finest cinematic talents. In a surprise win, South Korea's Bae Doona took the Best Actress award for her portrayal of a police officer struggling in her male-dominated workplace after moving to a remote seaside town in "A Girl At My Door". She beat out Chinese favourites Gong Li, Zhao Wei and Tang Wei for the award, telling journalists: "I didn't expect this... I am very happy," and adding she hoped to act in movies "beyond boundaries". Satirical movie "Gone with the Bullets" set in 1920s Shanghai won the most gongs, including Best Visual Effects, Best Production Designer, and Best Costume Design. Im Kwon-taek, the 78-year-old veteran director of "Painted Fire", was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for his transformational role in Korean cinema, while the Best Newcomer award went to Zhang Huiwen, who played the daughter of a man sent to a labour camp during the Cultural Revolution in "Coming Home". This year's awards were handed to a diverse list of countries, including Indonesia's "The Raid 2: Berandal", which saw Gareth Evans winning the Best Editor award, and India, where Mikey McCleary won Best Composer for "Margarita, With A Straw". Earlier, fans packed a hall of a resort normally full of gamblers, screaming as their screen idols strutted the red carpet. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Events

Review: Rockettes shine in messy spring homage to New York
Friday Mar 27, 2015
Review: Rockettes shine in messy spring homage to New York

NEW YORK (AP) — The "New York Spring Spectacular" has arrived and it's one show this season that definitely lives up to its name — spec-ta-cu-lar. There are more than 40 Rockettes, 500 gallons of water falling as rain, live dogs, digital projections, a drone kite, 3-D images — funny cardboard glasses provided — aerial dancing, a film montage, a 26-foot tall animatronic puppet of the Statue of Liberty, a full-size taxi, a huge orchestra and bracelets for everyone in the audience that change color in coordination with the action onstage. Wait, was that a Minion from the "Despicable Me" movies chasing the Easter Bunny? Yes, stop interrupting. There's also taped celebrity appearances, T-shirt guns, LED jackets, relentless commercial tie-ins, confetti from the roof, music that ranges from Kander and Ebb to Beyonce, a dead wife resurrected, a show-stopping quiz show in the aisles, and a few Tony Award-winners. Whew. The show, which opened Thursday at the 6,000-seat Radio City Music Hall, is more than a workout for the dancers — it's a nonstop, messy, cool, goofy, sloppy wet kiss to New York (and Chase bank, a sponsor, hard to miss). It follows the story of a powerful businesswoman Jenna (Tony-winner Laura Benanti, wonderfully evil) who buys a small tour company and intends to take it virtual, putting the sweet tour guide (a sad sack Lenny Wolpe) out of a job. "I'm not bossy. I'm the boss," she trills. For reasons not entirely clear, God sends down an angel-in-training (Derek Hough of "Dancing With the Stars") to try to change Jenna's mind and earn his wings. They fall in love as they tour iconic New York spots like Central Park, Times Square and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which come alive. She learns that human contact is better than a virtual life and is taught this in a show that is as close to a video game as physically possible. Playwright Joshua Harmon, who wrote the crackling "Bad Jews," apparently thought up this latest story after watching the films "An Affair to Remember," ''Night at the Museum," ''It's a Wonderful Life," ''Trading Places" and "City of Angels." There are utterly sublime moments — the Rockettes have a strong opening number choreographed by Mia Michaels and then appear later in boots and umbrellas joining Hough and Jared Grimes to tap dance in real rain puddles for an awesome "Singin' in the Rain." And kudos for including a celebration of New York's immigrant roots, a weirdly brave move these days. The show is best when director and choreographer Warren Carlyle, a Tony-winner, lets Benanti be her funny best and when the Rocketts are let out. There's a nicely done homage to Fashion Week and a glorious moment when all the Rockettes line up behind Jenna as she waltzes with Hough. New York sports stars and celebrities from Tina Fey to Michael Strahan have videotaped little clips but the results are often canned and strained. (There's 100 percent too much Donald Trump, for example, and do we really need Isaac Mizrahi telling us how great New York is?) In fact, the whole taped-celeb thing goes a little haywire when Whoopi Goldberg, the voice of God, then inexplicably becomes the voice of the Statue of Liberty. (What? Are there any divinity scholars in the house?) The 90-minute show ends on a high when the Rockettes in canes and top hats dance to "Easter Parade" and "Welcome to New York" and then Benanti joins them for their astonishing, pneumatic high kicks across the massive stage. But, wait, that's not the end. Typically overstuffed, the show goes on with one more number featuring the Easter Bunny, a Minion — again, what's it doing here? — and some massive eggs. Anything for the spec-ta-cu-lar. ___ Online: http://www.newyorkspringspectacular.com Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Mark Kennedy from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

'Downton Abbey' to end after its upcoming 6th season
Thursday Mar 26, 2015
'Downton Abbey' to end after its upcoming 6th season

NEW YORK (AP) — A grand manor will close its doors to millions of weekly guests after "Downton Abbey" concludes next year. Producers of the popular British period drama on Thursday confirmed it will end after its sixth season, scheduled to air in the United States in early 2016. The series, which airs earlier in the U.K., will have its finale on Christmas Day 2015. "Our feeling is that it's good to quit while you're ahead," executive producer Gareth Neame said. "We feel the show is in incredibly strong shape, the scripts that we're working on for the upcoming season are fantastic and the show is so popular globally. But the danger with this sort of thing is to let it go on forever." He said the decision to wrap was made by him and Julian Fellowes, who created the series and has written every episode, in conjunction with the cast. He said there are no plans in place for a rumored "Downton Abbey" feature film or a series spinoff. The acclaimed, beloved and awards-showered drama has tracked the fates of the aristocratic Crawley clan and its servants amid the social upheavals of pre-World War I Britain into the 1920s, as the characters of upper and lower classes cope with their rapidly changing world. Stars include Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith. The series premiered on the U.K.'s ITV network in 2010 and on PBS' "Masterpiece" anthology in early 2011, inspired in part by the 2001 Robert Altman film "Gosford Park" (written by Fellowes) and presented as a variation on the British classic "Upstairs, Downstairs." "When we set out to do this in the first place," Neame said, "we thought we would have a good success in the U.K. and that very traditional outlets for British content globally would be there." But almost instantly "Downton Abbey" took on a life of its own. "We did not know we would be in 250 territories worldwide," Neame said. "We didn't know we would be one of the biggest shows on American television." In the U.K., it became the highest-rated drama of the past decade, with an average of 11 million viewers over its five seasons. Season 5, which concluded in the U.S. this month, drew an average audience of 12.9 million viewers. "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton called the series "a gift from the television gods." She said it coincided with the 2009 rebranding of "Masterpiece," which, among many changes, led to dropping "Theatre" from its title. "And along came 'Sherlock' and 'Downton' in the same season and transformed us in many ways: drawing a giant audience, a new audience; helping pull in an underwriter; solidify our position with stations and donors to the station," Eaton said. "Then we created the Masterpiece Trust. So, a complete game-changer." "Downton" also benefited from the shift in how TV is consumed, including binge viewing, and the growth of social media, which turned watching telecasts into group experiences, she said. She was optimistic about life after "Downton." She noted that "Poldark" and "Indian Summers," in the "Downton" mode of extended British series, are coming to "Masterpiece." "'Indian Summers' is even sexier than 'Downton,'" she said. "And 'Poldark' has a death and a birth and money and all the things you would expect." And, for one more turn, there's "Downton Abbey." Production of the upcoming 13-hour season is well underway, Neame said, but he kept mum on any details apart from saying the current characters would be back and be given satisfying resolutions. "We very much have an eye to where the characters will end up," he said. "What will become of poor Edith? Will Anna and Bates ever get a break? People want to know these things!" While Neame acknowledged the temptation to carry on such a breakout success indefinitely, the series, he said, "has always been viewed by everyone involved as a bespoke, well-crafted piece of popular television." The decision to call it quits was reached through a process of conversations. But having now made the decision official, Neame said, meant "a very emotional day for all of the people involved in the show." ___ Television Writer Lynn Elber contributed to this report. ___ EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Frazier Moore from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Jason Alexander to replace Larry David in 'Fish in the Dark'
Thursday Mar 26, 2015
Jason Alexander to replace Larry David in 'Fish in the Dark'

NEW YORK (AP) — Larry David will hand over his starring role on Broadway to an old "Seinfeld" pal — Jason Alexander. Producers said Thursday that Alexander, who played George Costanza on the hit show, will replace David as Norman Drexel in "Fish in the Dark" beginning June 9. David wrote the comedy, which is running at the Cort Theatre. Alexander is a Tony Award winner for "Jerome Robbins' Broadway" and was last on the Great White Way in 1990's "Accomplice." He was lured away from the stage by David's "Seinfeld." "Fish in the Dark" is about the gathering of the Drexel family in present-day California as they prepare to bid farewell to their dying patriarch. Old rivalries and still-simmering angers are reignited, which echo through the next few days. ___ Online: http://fishinthedark.com Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Mark Kennedy from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

R&B singer The Weeknd, in sultry mood, performs during SXSW
Thursday Mar 26, 2015
R&B singer The Weeknd, in sultry mood, performs during SXSW

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Weeknd was in a sultry mood at the South by Southwest festival. The R&B singer performed Thursday on the second night of the "YouTube at SXSW" event at the Coppertank Events Center. His set was smoky — at times it was hard to clearly see his face — as he sang tunes that ranged from sensual to energetic. "Can I ask you something, Austin, Texas? I want to ask you a question, SXSW. Can I get sexy for you, SXSW?" he asked the feverish crowd of a few hundred. The Weeknd performed his recent Top 10 hits, "Earned It" from the "50 Shades of Grey" soundtrack and "Love Me Harder," his mid-tempo duet with Ariana Grande. The Grammy-nominated performer, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, also sang "Crew Love," ''Belong to the World" and his remix of Beyonce's "Drunk In Love." The War on Drugs headlined YouTube's concert on Wednesday. Other performers during the three-day event included iLoveMakonnen, Future Islands, and Marina and the Diamonds. Snoop Dogg will headline the third night on Friday. "YouTube at SXSW" is a pre-party for Monday's YouTube Music Awards. YouTube painted the front of the Coppertank Events Center red to emulate its logo. ___ Online: http://sxsw.com Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Mesfin Fekadu from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Macau hosts glittering Asian Film Awards
Wednesday Mar 25, 2015
Macau hosts glittering Asian Film Awards

Chinese cinema's leading lights dominated the winners' podium at the star-studded Asian Film Awards on Wednesday, with local stars scooping three of the four top prizes in the glitzy gambling hub of Macau."The Golden Era", a biopic of an acclaimed Chinese writer directed by Hong Kong's Ann Hui, earned her the Best Director award, while the Best Movie gong went to "Blind Massage" from controversial director Lou Ye, a story based on the little-known industry in China that featured blind amateur actors. Continuing China's run of luck, the prize for Best Actor went to rising local star Liao Fan, who bagged the award for his role in cop thriller "Black Coal, Thin Ice". Liao, who made his fame by winning the top acting award at the Berlin International Festival last year, said he was delighted to have won. "I used my instincts to act. I will keep trying new roles," he told reporters at the backstage after receiving the award. Hui, whose movie also had the most nominations with five, said she was "very happy" with the director's award. She jokingly said she wanted to "donate" half of the trophy to the movie's crew for their key role in making it a success. The awards, organised by the Hong Kong International Film Festival and now in their ninth year, were held at Macau's luxurious Venetian resort, and are aimed at celebrating the region's finest cinematic talents. In a surprise win, South Korea's Bae Doona took the Best Actress award for her portrayal of a police officer struggling in her male-dominated workplace after moving to a remote seaside town in "A Girl At My Door". She beat out Chinese favourites Gong Li, Zhao Wei and Tang Wei for the award, telling journalists: "I didn't expect this... I am very happy," and adding she hoped to act in movies "beyond boundaries". Satirical movie "Gone with the Bullets" set in 1920s Shanghai won the most gongs, including Best Visual Effects, Best Production Designer, and Best Costume Design. Im Kwon-taek, the 78-year-old veteran director of "Painted Fire", was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for his transformational role in Korean cinema, while the Best Newcomer award went to Zhang Huiwen, who played the daughter of a man sent to a labour camp during the Cultural Revolution in "Coming Home". This year's awards were handed to a diverse list of countries, including Indonesia's "The Raid 2: Berandal", which saw Gareth Evans winning the Best Editor award, and India, where Mikey McCleary won Best Composer for "Margarita, With A Straw". Earlier, fans packed a hall of a resort normally full of gamblers, screaming as their screen idols strutted the red carpet. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.