Document 163883

Tuesday, January 1, 2013
FDR ‘most formidable character’ Bill Murray’s played
By John Horn
Los Angeles Times/ MCT
Actors are used to pressure,
but the task before Bill Murray in
“Hyde Park on Hudson” was more
than a little stressful.
Director Roger Michell said that
if the “Ghostbusters” and “Groundhog Day” veteran didn’t want to
star as Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
he wouldn’t make the movie at
all, and Murray knew he would
be playing someone so famous, as
the actor put it, that “he’s on the
Although the film has received
mixed reviews, the 62-year-old
Murray has attracted some critical attention for his performance
as FDR, including a Golden Globe
nomination for lead actor in a
comedy or musical, a category that
includes Hugh Jackman from “Les
Miserables” and Bradley Cooper
for “Silver Linings Playbook.”
“Hyde Park” isn’t the only
Murray movie receiving award
consideration. Wes Anderson’s
comedy “Moonrise Kingdom,” in
which Murray plays the father of
a runaway girl, is a contender for
the original screenplay Academy
Award and a dark horse for the
best picture Oscar shortlist.
Set on the eve of World War II,
“Hyde Park on Hudson” focuses on
the 32nd president’s many romantic entanglements, most prominently his love affair with distant
cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley
(Laura Linney), just as King George
VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) are coming to
visit the president at his New York
vacation compound.
As written by playwright Richard
Nelson, the movie largely steers
clear of global or even national politics. Instead, “Hyde Park” is chiefly
concerned with FDR’s juggling of so
many women, including his wife,
Eleanor (Olivia Williams). In one
of the film’s most striking scenes,
the president’s sexual relationship
with Daisy commences with some
unusual philandering in the front of
the president’s convertible.
In a late summer conversation at
the Telluride Film Festival, Murray
said he was attracted to the movie
because it offered an unsentimental look at an unusual couple who,
though not lonely, were clearly
needy. “It’s not necessarily romantic,” the actor said. “But it is intimate. These are two people who
need each other.”
The movie is informed in large
part by Suckley’s diaries and correspondence with FDR, which
Murray read along with a number
of biographies. “Her stuff is on a
completely different level,” Murray said. “He is saying stuff to her
that he doesn’t share with anyone
else. This is someone he trusted.
She was intelligent. She was not a
dowdy, hopeless woman.”
Murray called FDR “the most
formidable character” he’d ever
played and spent months researching the president’s life and listened
to recordings of Roosevelt to approximate FDR’s voice.
Michell said he wanted only
Murray because audiences grant
him the slack that the role necessitates. “He has a charismatic charm
as an actor that lets you forgive
his character’s mischief,” the filmmaker said.
His younger sister’s contracting
polio as an infant helped guide the
stoicism found in Murray’s performance. Her treatments in the
1950s included immersion in scalding water, and Murray recalled
hearing her screams. “That shaped
the state I was in while I worked
because I realized she didn’t complain about anything.”
Although he’s not working as
frequently as some of his peers,
Murray could return next awards
season with another two contenders under his belt: He has George
Clooney’s “The Monuments Men”
and Anderson’s next film, “The
Grand Budapest Hotel,” both due Laura Linney stars as Daisy, left, and Bill Murray stars as FDR in Roger Michell’s
out next year.
historical tale “Hyde Park On Hudson,” a Focus Features release.
‘The Hobbit’ stays atop box office for third week
A block of art
A sculptor looks at his work as he carves a block of ice into a cricket in front of a crowd at the Machines de l’Ile, an artistic
venue in Nantes, western France, on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected
Journey” continues to rule them
all at the box office, staying on
top for a third-straight week and
capping a record-setting US$10.8
billion year in moviegoing.
The Warner Bros. fantasy epic
from director Peter Jackson,
based on the beloved J.R.R. Tolkien novel, made nearly US$33
million this weekend, according to
Sunday studio estimates, despite
serious competition from some
much-anticipated newcomers. It’s
now made a whopping US$686.7
million worldwide and US$222.7
million domestically alone.
Two big holiday movies — and
potential Academy Awards contenders — also had strong openings. Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti Western-blaxploitation mashup “Django Unchained” came in
second place for the weekend with
US$30.7 million. The Weinstein
Co. revenge comedy, starring
Jamie Foxx as a slave in the Civil
War South and Christoph Waltz as
the bounty hunter who frees him
and then makes him his partner,
has earned US$64 million since its
Christmas Day opening.
And in third place with US$28
million was the sweeping, allsinging “Les Miserables,” based
on the international musical
sensation and the Victor Hugo
novel of strife and uprising in 19th
century France. The Universal
Pictures film, with a cast of A-list
actors singing live on camera led
by Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe has made
US$67.5 million domestically and
US$116.2 worldwide since debuting on Christmas.
Additionally, the smash-hit
James Bond adventure “Skyfall”
has now made US$1 billion internationally to become the most
successful film yet in the 50-year
franchise, Sony Pictures announced Sunday. The film stars
Daniel Craig for the third time as
the iconic British superspy.
“This is a great final weekend
of the year,” said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office
tracker “How
perfect to end this year on such a
strong note with the top five films
performing incredibly well.”
The week’s other new wide
release, the Billy Crystal-Bette
Midler comedy “Parental Guid-
ance” from 20th Century Fox,
made US$14.8 million over the
weekend for fourth place and
US$29.6 million total since opening on Christmas.
Dergarabedian described the
holding power of “The Hobbit” in
its third week as “just amazing.”
Jackson shot the film, the first of
three prequels to his massively
successful “Lord of the Rings”
series, in 48 frames per second —
double the normal frame rate —
for a crisper, more detailed image.
It’s also available in the usual 24
frames per second and both 2-D
and 3-D projections.
“I think people are catching up
with the movie. Maybe they’re
seeing it in multiple formats,” he
said. “I think it’s just a big epic
that feels like a great way to end
the moviegoing year. There’s momentum there with this movie.”
“Django Unchained” is just as
much of an epic in its own stylishly
violent way that’s quintessentially
Tarantino. Erik Lomis, The Weinstein Co.’s president of theatrical
distribution, said the opening exceeded the studio’s expectations.
“We’re thrilled with it, clearly.
We knew it was extremely com-
petitive at Christmas, particularly
when you look at the start ‘Les
Miz’ got. We were sort of resigned
to being behind them. The fact that
we were able to overtake them
over the weekend was just great,”
Lomis said. “Taking nothing away
from their number, it’s a tribute to
the playability of ‘Django.’”
“Les Miserables” went into its
opening weekend with nearly
US$40 million in North American
grosses, including US$18.2 on
Christmas Day. That’s the secondbest opening ever on the holiday
following “Sherlock Holmes,”
which made US$24.9 million on
Christmas 2009. Tom Hooper, in
a follow-up to his Oscar-winner
“The King’s Speech,” directs an
enormous, ambitious take on the
beloved musical which has earned
a CinemaScore of “A” from audiences and “A-plus” from women.
Nikki Rocco, Universal’s head
of distribution, said the debut for
“Les Miserables” also beat the
studio’s expectations.
“That US$18.2 million Christmas Day opening — people were
shocked ... This is a musical!” she
said. “Once people see it, they talk
about how fabulous it is.”
Kanye West tells fans at concert that he,
Kim Kardashian are expecting first child ‘African Grammys’ hit by series of hitches
By Mesfin Fekadu
A kid for Kimye: Kanye West
and Kim Kardashian are expecting their first child.
The rapper announced at a
concert Sunday night that his
girlfriend is pregnant. He told the
crowd of more than 5,000 at Revel Resort’s Ovation Hall in song
form: “Now you having my baby.”
The crowd roared.
Most of the Kardashian clan
tweeted about the news, including
Kim’s sisters and mother. Kourtney Kardashian wrote: “Another
angel to welcome to our family.
Overwhelmed with excitement!”
West also told concertgoers to
congratulate his “baby mom” and
that this was the “most amazing
Representatives for West and
Kardashian didn’t immediately
respond to emails about the pregnancy.
The rapper and reality TV star
went public in March.
Kardashian married NBA
player Kris Humphries in August
2011 and their divorce is not finalized.
West’s Sunday night show was
his third consecutive performance
at Revel. He took the stage for
nearly two hours, performing hits
like “Good Life,” “Jesus Walks”
and “Clique” in an all-white ensemble with two band mates.
Passion and idealism of arts council in
Pakistan strike a finely pitched harmony
By Taimoor Farouk
LAHORE, Pakistan
Dawn/ Asia News Network Of all the musical instruments
being taught at Alhamra Arts
Council in Lahore, the guitar is by
far the most popular. On a typical
evening at the iconic performing
arts venue, dozens of young aspiring musicians can be seen strumming their guitars.
“Routine practice,” one would
think. But what distinguishes
them from others is a combination
of raw passion and idealism: all of
them want to make it big; and that
too, in the shortest time possible.
For 18-year-old Taimoor Hassan, making it big means to become a rock star.
“Initially it was Atif Aslam, but
recently I’ve been inspired by
Ranbir Kapoor,” he says.
Taimoor is referring to the
2011 Bollywood film “Rockstar”
in which Ranbir plays Jordan — a
college student who dreams of becoming a rock star but is laughed
at by his friends. Of course, after
a series of ups and downs, Jordan
succeeds and gains a cult following in the process.
While in real life there is no
musical romantic drama at play
but by no means does that imply
Taimoor is not serious about making his dream come true. In fact,
at 18, he’s already said goodbye
to PAF Public School in Sargodha
and moved to Lahore to follow his
“I do have an opportunity to
learn from an acclaimed qawwal,
but guitar is what I really want to
play,” he says.
If Taimoor’s struggle to become
a musician is inspiring, meet another 20-year-old, Armughan Sarwar who has come from Sialkot
to join the guitar class. “I’m not
interested in studying any further
since I’ve already decided that
music is what I want to pursue ...
its tough but I know I can do it.”
Armughan’s story began years
Of all the instruments taught at Alhamra Arts Council, guitar is the most popular.
ago when along with three close
friends of his, he decided to form
a band and create patriotic songs.
Since none of them knew how to
play an instrument at the time,
they decided to divide responsibilities. Armughan is learning to
play the guitar here in Lahore and
whenever he goes back to Sialkot,
he teaches it to his future band
member who will be playing the
lead guitar. Similarly, the third
and fourth members of the band
are learning to play the drums
and keyboard.
“I don’t have support from my
family and I don’t expect them to
provide me any either,” says Armughan, who is currently looking
for a night job so he can practice
during the day.
“A guitar is the trendiest out of
all the instruments and I love how
it draws attention,” he adds.
What really draws attention,
however, is the similar fashion
sense of these aspiring guitarists.
The flashy bracelets, skull caps,
torn jeans and sunglasses worn
by them, seem to have come out
of one huge box from the sets of
“Rockstar.” Everything is so similar that at first glance one cannot
help but discredit the individualities of these musicians.
“But there is more to it than
meets the eye,” says their instruc-
tor Sajjad Tafu, an accomplished
eastern classical guitarist hailing
from the Muzang Gharana of Lahore.
“Currently the class consists of
30 students and all of them are so
talented and committed that I do
whatever I can to help them,” he
Tafu mentions that many of
his former students have become
professional guitarists while others are teaching music at various
colleges and universities.
A former student of his, Safeer
Jaffery, is already in the limelight.
The 20-year-old singer/songwriter
has performed at colleges around
Lahore and has his own house
band. Jaffery plans to collaborate
with Ahmed Jahanzaib and Sanam Marvi in the near future.
“Like any other art form, learning to play the guitar properly requires patience and practice and
its not as easy as some of these
kids think,” Tafu adds.
Tafu is right. The dreams of
these youngsters may not be the
most realistic, but the commitment and passion displayed by
them in learning the art of music
has no bounds. Above all, they
represent a generation that progressives such as Sir Syed Ahmed
Khan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and
others had envisioned.
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, AFP
A music awards show dubbed
the “African Grammys” was hit
by an embarrassing series of
hitches culminating in the absence Sunday of star Chris Brown
and an apology by the organizer.
The show had been delayed
from Saturday to enable rapper
Brown to attend, with organizer
Ernest Adjovi initially blaming
the delay on Brown missing his
flight but later saying heavy rains
and other logistical hiccups were
behind the postponement.
Brown finally arrived with
singer Rihanna in the Ivory Coast
city of Abidjan on Sunday, when
he was due to perform at the
glitzy Kora Awards that recognize musical achievements from
around the continent.
But while the Koras were going on at a luxury hotel, the U.S.
singer was a few minutes away
in the national stadium performing at a much-delayed concert for
“Peace in Africa.”
Benin businessman Adjovi
later apologized for the numerous
“dysfunctions” that had occurred
during the three-hour ceremony.
R&B star Brown landed overnight in Abidjan, the Ivorian eco-
Dancers perform during the Kora Awards ceremony in Abidjan, on Sunday, Dec. 30,
2012. The show was hit by an embarrassing series of hitches.
nomic capital. Rihanna, who hails
from Barbados, was by his side,
wearing dark glasses.
The pair have a tumultuous
history, and celebrity watchers
obsessed about whether they are
an item again after Brown admitted assaulting Rihanna in a case
dating back several years.
Brown was sentenced to five
years probation, a yearlong domestic violence program and 180
days of community labor after
pleading guilty to assaulting Rihanna on the eve of the Grammy
Awards in Los Angeles in 2009.
Ivorian quartet Magic System
won the Kora award for best African group of the year while best
artiste from the continent was DJ
Arafat, another Ivorian.
Chidinma from Nigeria enchanted the ceremony and won
the award for best musician from
west Africa, while Algerian rai
singer Cheb Khaled was best
north African artiste, and French
rap group Sexion d’Assaut took
the award for the “African diaspora” in Europe.
Chris Brown, whom fans call
“Breezy,” won the U.S. equivalent.
“Mama” Patience Dabany, former first lady of Gabon and mother of current head of state Ali
Bongo, was proclaimed “woman
of the year.”
Past Kora ceremonies have
been attended by South African
anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela and the late “King of Pop”
Michael Jackson.
For Ivory Coast, which is still
recovering from four months of
postelection violence that ended
in April 2011 after claiming some
3,000 lives, the event signals a
return to normality.
But the awards have drawn
fire over the price of admission,
with tickets costing 1 million CFA
francs (US$2,000) for a seat in
the luxury hotel for the ceremony.
Such a sum is far from the
reach of people in this poor west
African country, the world’s top
cocoa producer.
Painter shows his class in Tibetan village
By Huang Zhiling
China Daily/Asia News Network
A group of women and children
gather in a remote village square
in Shiqu county, Sichuan’s Garze
Tibetan autonomous prefecture.
The children all have books in
their hands, which arouses the
attention of artist Wang Qijun.
The 58-year-old professor of
the Beijing-based China Central
Academy of Fine Arts follows the
kids into a temple as they sit in
front of a Buddha statue, attended
by a lama in a red robe.
Preoccupied with their studies
the students ignore him as the
sunlight streams in through a window and inspires Wang to paint
“Tibetan Class in the Village.”
The painting is one of many
Wang has done in the wake of his
trip to the Tibetan-inhabited ar-
eas of Sichuan in December 2011.
Together with Tian Haipeng,
vice president of the CCAFA,
Wang led a delegation of painters
from the academy for a weeklong
trip to the area, where they visited Tibetan villages and talked to
local art students.
Situated on the plateau 3,000
to 4,000 meters above sea level,
Sichuan’s Tibetan areas used to
be poor but have improved economically in recent years, which
is reflected in Wang’s oil paintings.
Walking on a country road in
Ma’nai village, Jinchuan, Wang
sees a young mother carrying her
child and walking under the sun.
“The intense sunlight turned
the mother and child into glowing colors and I felt the warmth
of maternal love and did the oil
painting Heart Filled with Love.”
This was not Wang’s first visit
to Tibetan-inhabited areas: “I
visited as a painter for the first
time in 1985. That year, I went
through Gansu and Qinghai provinces to enter Tibet.”
Roads were inaccessible and
the long-distance bus could travel
only about 200 km in a single
“When we were near Qinghai
Lake, 3,300 meters above sea
level, the bus broke down. The
Tibetan driver spent more than
five hours repairing it. As I could
not speak Tibetan, I had to wait
patiently and we had no water to
drink,” Wang recalls.
When he visited a farming area
in southern Tibet in 1997, Wang
could readily appreciate all the
changes taking place.
“Many Tibetan children attended schools in big cities like Beijing
and Shanghai. The state paid for
their education. When I talked
with their parents, the children
could speak fluent Mandarin and
interpret for us,” he says.
He saw further improvements
in living standards during his visit
in December 2011. Herdsmen had
fixed up their residences and they
all had TV sets and cellphones,
Wang says.
He says that when he visited
a Ganbao Tibetan village square
in Lixian county, Sichuan’s Aba
Tibetan and Qiang autonomous
prefecture, locals were celebrating the Tibetan New Year.
“When I chatted with an old Tibetan woman, her son called from
outside their hometown.
“I instantly felt what a happy
life meant. It became the inspiration for the oil painting ‘Message
of Spring.’”
US beauty queen shocked by US$5 mil. defamation ruling
million for defamation.
A Pennsylvania beauty queen Former Miss Pennsylvania USA
who resigned after alleging that Sheena Monnin tells the Pittsburgh
the Miss USA pageant had been Tribune-Review that the “most
fixed says she is stunned by an logical course” would be to contest
arbitrator’s ruling that she must the ruling, but she’s considering
pay the pageant organization US$5 her options.
Arbitrator Theodore Katz says
Monnin’s allegations that finalists had been selected in advance
were false, harmful and malicious
and cost the pageant a US$5 million fee from a potential 2013
Monnin points to a Miss USA
contract clause giving top pageant officials the power to pick
the top five finalists and the winner, but a company official calls
that a catch-all that’s never been