Actress Melissa Leo's true grit leads to Oscar

As the supremely competent Detective Kay Howard on "Homicide: Life on the Street," Ms. Leo famously refused to make herself look glamorous. She told Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air" that she didn't use makeup on the show because her male colleagues didn't.

When she was unceremoniously dumped from "Homicide" at the end of its fifth season, Ms. Leo said collateral damage from her then-messy personal life and the flinty realness of her Kay Howard character marked her as damaged goods on a show belatedly striving for higher ratings.

Unable to find a steady network gig after "Homicide," Ms. Leo entered what she described to Ms. Gross as a career dry spell. She reprised her role as Kay Howard in "Homicide: The Movie" in 2000, but by then she had set her eye on the big screen, where the perception of being a "gritty gal" didn't work against her.

Ms. Leo had a series of small roles in small movies, the most memorable in "21 Grams" (2003) until her star turn as an impoverished trailer park mom turned illegal alien smuggler in "Frozen River" (2008).

Ms. Leo got her first taste of major industry respect that year when she was nominated for more than a dozen awards, including the Oscar for best actress in "Frozen River."

"Homicide" creator David Simon took a second look at the actress NBC fired in 1997 and hired her to play ACLU lawyer Toni Bernette in HBO's post-Katrina drama, "Treme."

When Ms. Leo signed on to play Alice Ward, the mother of boxers Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (Christopher Bale), she became the spark that ignited "The Fighter" whenever she was on screen. Despite being only a decade older than Mr. Wahlberg, Ms. Leo learned enough from observing the real Alice Ward to make her role as his mother work.

On Sunday, Ms. Leo capped an extraordinary year by winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "The Fighter."

Having cleaned up more than half the regional critics' honors already, she was, justifiably, the front-runner. Still, hearing her name called on Hollywood's most prestigious night was not the kind of industry respect Ms. Leo was used to.

A self-promotional Oscar campaign in which she took out trade ads had landed her in hot water a few weeks ago. There was some talk that an industry backlash might deny her the coveted award.

Perhaps Ms. Leo was more relieved that the pessimists were wrong about her chances than she was surprised at her win when she uttered the first televised f-bomb in the history of the Oscars during her acceptance speech.

The censors caught it in time, but the happy outburst landed her a spot in Oscars infamy alongside the streaker who interrupted David Niven's speech during the 1974 broadcast.

Calculated or not, Ms. Leo's exuberance provided an otherwise dull show with one of its few genuinely interesting moments.

My affection for Ms. Leo began when I visited the set of "Homicide" in 1996. I interviewed the entire cast, but my time with the actress was particularly memorable.

Unlike the character she played, Ms. Leo had a wicked sense of humor. She was also far more attractive and articulate in person than her laconic character on TV.

Hours after our interview, our paths crossed again on the sound stage. That's when she insisted on taking me to where the cast and crew hung out for lunch. She escorted me around the set like an old friend instead of a nosy fan pretending to be a journalist.

When Colin Firth, 50, won his own Oscar for best actor Sunday, he quipped, "I have a feeling my career just peaked."

Ms. Leo, also 50, probably isn't giving much thought to the "curse" said to befall actresses trying to find meaty roles after they land an Oscar. She has been fortunate enough to never have been a pretty ingenue waiting for the phone to ring, so her hustling will never end.

Instead of peaking, Melissa Leo is just getting started.

Credit : Pittsburgh Post Gazette


Eminem 'most popular living person on Facebook'

Eminem has dethroned Lady Gaga as the most popular living person on Facebook.
The rapper has almost 29 million 'likes', according to
Meanwhile, Gaga, who briefly held the title after unseating U.S. President Barack Obama, is less than a million behind him.

Only the late Michael Jackson has more Facebook followers - with just over 29 million, reports the Daily Star. bosses note that Eminem's Facebook fanbase is greater than the population of Luxembourg.

Rihanna, Ciara get into cyber catfight on Twitter

Rihanna and Ciara battled it out on Twitter on Friday night.
The two pop divas-and former flames of Chris Brown-got into a war of words after Ciara took a hit at the Barbados beauty on E!'s Fashion Police, reports the New York Daily News.
"I ran into her recently at a party. She wasn't the nicest," the 25-year-old recounted of Rihanna to Joan Rivers.
"It's crazy because I've always loved and respected what she's done in fashion... It wasn't the most pleasant run-in."
Rihanna apparently got wind of Ciara's remarks and tweeted, "My bad Ci, did I forget to tip you?," later adding "U gangsta huh?"

Ciara fought back on Twitter, posting "Trust me Rihanna you don't want to see me on or off the stage," to which the Disurbia singer replied "Good luck with booking that stage u speak of."

Before things got uglier, Rihanna called a truce. "Ciara baby, I love you girl!" she Tweeted. "You hurt my feelings real bad on TV! I'm heartbroken! That's why I retaliated this way! So sorry! Let's make up."

Ciara accepted the offer.
"Rhi, u know its always been love since day 1! Doing shows and everything," she wrote. "You threw me off in that party! Apology accepted. Let's chat in person."

Hollywood comes to Bollywood

Three new Hollywood films are set to be shot in India shortly as producers explore the Indian market with the help of an Indian American talent manager in Hollywood.

"The process of selecting India as a location has been easy," says Jai Khanna, a manager at Brillstein Entertainment Partners (BEP), a top Hollywood talent management film and television production company.

"The key is finding the right partners, those with the right sensibility, in order to navigate the landscape and politics of India, as well as appeal to an American crew and cast," Khanna, who heads BEP's new efforts to explore the Indian market, told IANS in an interview.

"Hope Lost", the first of three films targeted for India production, is aimed for a summer shoot in Mumbai. Based on the hit comic book series by Jeff Albert, it's an action-thriller about the duality battle between good vs evil, with themes of the Ramayana.

To be produced by Marlon Parry, the film will be directed by Rajeev Virani.

The second, "River of Gods", based on a novel by Ian McDonald that won the British Science Fiction Award in 2004, imagines a futuristic India, inhabited by ancient traditions as well as artificial intelligence, robots and nanotechnology.

To be produced by Anthony Dorment and Susan Cherian, it is aimed for a fall shoot.

Also to be shot at the same time is "Last Bachelor", an international romantic comedy, in Rajasthan and Goa. The film will be produced by Lux Entertainment in Britain.

"India has been viewed as an exotic location for actors, and not immediately thought of as a film location. If we can marry the two experiences, of exploring the wonders of India, and working in a professional manner, we hope for more productions to enter India," Khanna says.

Stars gather as 'King's Speech' eyes Oscars crown

HOLLYWOOD: British royal drama "The King's Speech" got another boost on the eve of what supporters hope will be its Oscars coronation Sunday, as stars gather for the climax of Tinsel Town's annual awards season.

The movie, nominated for 12 Academy Awards including best picture and best actor for Colin Firth, won best foreign film at the Spirit independent movie awards, barely 24 hours before the main Hollywood show.

Ballet thriller "Black Swan," nominated for five Oscars, won best film at the Spirits as well as best actress for Natalie Portman -- who is frontrunner in that category on Sunday.

With less than 24 hours to go before the annual awards mega-bash, stars were fine-tuning their acceptance speeches -- fingers crossed -- and preparing to don their gowns and tuxedos for the Oscars red carpet.

While "The King's Speech" is the frontrunner, no one is taking anything for granted as rivals including Facebook movie "The Social Network," classic Western remake "True Grit" and boxing movie "The Fighter" vie for Oscars glory.

That said, Firth is considered all but certain to be named best actor for his portrayal of Britain's King George VI, helped by Australian voice coach Lionel Logue -- played by Geoffrey Rush -- to overcome his crippling stammer.

David Fincher could well be named best director for "The Social Network," which tells the story of how Mark Zuckerberg created the game-changing website from a controversial start while a Harvard student, some critics say.

"The Social Network" started the awards season as favorite, taking four Golden Globes in January. But the British royal film has since swept up a series of prizes, in the US as well as at Britain's BAFTAs.

On Sunday the 10-strong shortlist for best film also includes hi-tech thriller "Inception," "127 Hours" -- about a hiker forced to amputate his own arm -- and "Toy Story 3," widely tipped as best animated feature.

Others hoping for a touch of Oscars gold include Britain's elusive graffiti artist Banksy, whose film "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is nominated for best documentary Oscar. The movie won the Spirit awards prize Saturday.

The best foreign film contest is between Mexico's "Biutiful" -- whose star Javier Bardem is also up for best actor -- "Dogtooth" from Greece, Denmark's "In a Better World," "Incendies" from Canada and Algeria's "Outside the Law."

Actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway will host the Oscars show, while organizers this week released more details of who will present awards, the latest including Helen Mirren, Bardem, Mila Kunis and Amy Adams.

The Oscars weekend also provides an excuse for endless festivities, ranging from Elton John's traditional bash in west Hollywood to one reportedly co-hosted by Madonna and Demi Moore.

Once the big show is over, the real fun starts: Oscars after parties -- and after parties -- go on well into Monday, as Hollywood recovers from its annual awards season binge.

Before that, though, some of the Hollywood's finest were preparing to cringe Saturday night when the traditional Golden Raspberry Awards -- or Razzies -- were to be revealed.

Stars including Jennifer Aniston, Ashton Kutcher, Robert Pattinson, Miley Cyrus and Barbra Streisand are on the shortlist for the Razzies, billed as "saluting the worst that Hollywood has to offer each year."(AFP)


2011 Academy Awards " The Winners "

With another year's ceremony having come and gone, the 2011 Academy Awards announced the big winners during a glitzy ceremony at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday night (February 27).

Taking home the top prize of Best Picture at the Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted event was "The King's Speech," which ended up winning a total of four Oscar trophies.

As for the actor/actress categories, the Academy bestowed Best Actress honors upon Natalie Portman for her work in "Black Swan" while Colin Firth landed Best Actor accolades for his role in "The King's Speech".

The complete list of 2011 Academy Awards winners is as follows:

Best Picture
"Black Swan," Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
"The Fighter" David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
"Inception," Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
"The Kids Are All Right," Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
WINNER: "The King's Speech," Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
"127 Hours," Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
"The Social Network," Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán, Producers
"Toy Story 3" Darla K. Anderson, Producer
"True Grit" Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
"Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem in "Biutiful"
Jeff Bridges in "True Grit"
Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"
WINNER: Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"
James Franco in "127 Hours"

Actor in a Supporting Role
WINNER: Christian Bale in "The Fighter"
John Hawkes in "Winter's Bone"
Jeremy Renner in "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo in "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech"

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone"
WINNER: Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams in "Blue Valentine"

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams in "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech"
WINNER: Melissa Leo in "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit"
Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom"

Animated Feature Film
"How to Train Your Dragon" Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
"The Illusionist" Sylvain Chomet
WINNER: "Toy Story 3" Lee Unkrich

Art Direction
WINNER: "Alice in Wonderland"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1"
"The King's Speech"
"True Grit"

"Black Swan," Matthew Libatique
WINNER: "Inception," Wally Pfister
"The King's Speech," Danny Cohen
"The Social Network," Jeff Cronenweth
"True Grit," Roger Deakins

Costume Design
WINNER: "Alice in Wonderland," Colleen Atwood
"I Am Love," Antonella Cannarozzi
"The King's Speech," Jenny Beavan
"The Tempest," Sandy Powell
"True Grit" Mary Zophres

"Black Swan," Darren Aronofsky
"The Fighter," David O. Russell
WINNER: "The King's Speech," Tom Hooper
"The Social Network," David Fincher
"True Grit," Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Documentary (Feature)
"Exit through the Gift Shop," Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
"Gasland," Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
WINNER: "Inside Job," Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Restrepo," Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
"Waste Land," Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Documentary (Short Subject)
"Killing in the Name"
"Poster Girl"
WINNER: "Strangers No More"
"Sun Come Up"
"The Warriors of Qiugang"

Film Editing
"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"The King's Speech"
"127 Hours"
WINNER: "The Social Network"

Foreign Language Film
"Biutiful," Mexico
"Dogtooth," Greece
WINNER: "In a Better World," Denmark
"Incendies," Canada
"Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)," Algeria

"Barney's Version," Adrien Morot
"The Way Back," Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
WINNER: "The Wolfman," Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Music (Original Score)
"How to Train Your Dragon," John Powell
"Inception," Hans Zimmer
"The King's Speech," Alexandre Desplat
"127 Hours," A.R. Rahman
WINNER: "The Social Network," Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)
"Coming Home" from "Country Strong," Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
"I See the Light" from "Tangled," Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
"If I Rise" from "127 Hours," Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
WINNER: "We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3," Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Short Film (Animated)
"Day & Night," Teddy Newton
"The Gruffalo," Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
"Let's Pollute," Geefwee Boedoe
WINNER: "The Lost Thing," Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
"Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)" Bastien Dubois

Short Film (Live Action)
"The Confession," Tanel Toom
"The Crush," Michael Creagh
WINNER: "God of Love," Luke Matheny
"Na Wewe," Ivan Goldschmidt
"Wish 143," Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sound Editing
WINNER: "Inception," Richard King
"Toy Story 3," Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
"Tron: Legacy," Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
"True Grit," Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
"Unstoppable," Mark P. Stoeckinger

Sound Mixing
WINNER: "Inception," Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
"The King's Speech," Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
"Salt," Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
"The Social Network," Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
"True Grit," Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Visual Effects
"Alice in Wonderland," Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1," Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
"Hereafter," Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
WINNER: "Inception," Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
"Iron Man 2," Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
"127 Hours," Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
WINNER: "The Social Network," Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
"Toy Story 3," Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
"True Grit," Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"Winter's Bone," Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Writing (Original Screenplay)
"Another Year," Written by Mike Leigh
"The Fighter," Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
"Inception," Written by Christopher Nolan
"The Kids Are All Right," Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
WINNER: "The King's Speech," Screenplay by David Seidler

My baby kicked at Oscars

Natalie Portman has revealed that her baby was kicking enthusiastically while she was at the Oscars ceremony at Los Angeles' Kodak Theatre last night.

The actress, who won the coveted 'Best Actress' award for her performance as psychotic ballerina Nina Sayers in Black Swan, explained that her baby seemed to be enjoying the performances during the show.

When asked how her baby had reacted to her win after she had collected her statuette, she replied: "I couldn't tell you. I don't really remember anything that happened just now. But the baby was definitely kicking a lot during the song portion of the show. Little dancer."

However, despite her win, the 29-year-old insisted that she would not be calling her baby Oscar if it's a boy: "I think that's probably, definitely, out of the question."

Portman explained that she now plans to relax in bed before the arrival of her firstborn.

She added: "The next dream I have in terms of the very short-term future is staying in bed, not having to do my make-up or hair, and keeping my sweats on, relaxing. For my child, to be happy and healthy is what every parent could only wish for.

"One of the most exciting things about being pregnant is that I'm accepting the complete unknown. It's a complete mystery and miracle."


Drive Angry

Shaven-headed men in tattoos and ugly goatees. Pretty girls who punch guys out. Hash-slinging diners and trashy neon honky-tonk bars. A jet-black 1969 Dodge Charger. A cherry-red 1970 Chevelle SS 454. (Wow, just writing that made me feel like I know something about cars.) Nicolas Cage in thatchy frosted-blonde Owen Wilson-as-biker hair. (Another Nic Cage hair joke? I bring it up only because there's nothing else to the character.) A devil-worshipping apocalyptic fundamentalist cult, led by a rapist in Jim Jones glasses, who murdered Cage's daughter and now wants to use his baby granddaughter for a blood sacrifice. A plot that's not so much off and running as off the rails and galumphing. 3-D that, except for a few bullets coming at the audience, doesn't exist.

After all the bad Nicolas Cage movies I've sat through, I got lured into seeing Drive Angry because the trailer made it look like it might have a certain shameless, demolition-happy American Mad Max excitement. It tries to, but it's simply not... well done. The car chases are rote and sparse, the gunplay is the usual lock-and-load fetishistic onslaught with heavy-metal trimmings, and even the film's one ''original'' twist is just a desperate attempt to link it up to Ghost Rider, the only lousy Nicolas Cage action film that is actually spawning a sequel. Cage has gotten too old for this stuff, yet one of the reasons people mock him for it is that, after dozens and dozens of paycheck thrillers, he still never looks a hundred percent comfortable in a movie like Drive Angry. His voice is too naturally expressive to lend credence to a somber howler like, ''Hell already is walking the earth.'' Cage has forged his own hell, and it's called: the movies he's addicted to making, even when they trash his brand.

Shweta reveals her latest flame

Bigg Boss 4 winner Shweta Tiwari, finds an emotional anchor in Abhinav Kohli, the new guy in her life.

After her Bigg Boss 4 win, actress Shweta Tiwari opens up about the new love of her life, Abhinav Kohli, in People magazine’s March 11 issue. The two met on the sets of Jaane Kya Baat Hui in November 2008 and became close friends before getting into a relationship. Due to her past (her volatile marriage to actor Raja Choudhury) the actress was reluctant to let love into her life again, but Abhinav’s selflessness won her over.

Extracts from the interview...

Abhinav stood by me when he was just a friend, and had no obligation to my daughter or me. I thought, what more did I want? A famous or rich guy wouldn’t necessarily respect me.

He was always so sweet to me as well as my daughter Palak. She started loving him and developed some good habits in his company. She started reading good books, watching the right TV channels her speech and behaviour changed because he was teaching her the right things.

We took a year-and-a-half to get to know each other. He doesn’t drink, is with my family all the time, he doesn’t have too many female friends, so he is the complete opposite of what I had before. He is too nice to be true.

I have seen a partner who was never happy with my success. Here, I have a person who is happier than me when I achieve something. He was more thrilled than I was when I won Bigg Boss.

The three months that I was in the Bigg Boss house I knew my family was safe because of Abhinav and if not for him, I wouldn’t have dared to take the show up.

And I was proved right when Raja created those problems while I was away. Professionally and personally, I’m really happy just because of Abhinav.”

Hollywood illusionists sweep season of stupidity under Oscars red carpet

As the year's best films are honoured, Hollywood is ready to launch another season of recycled drivel. But there are signs that intelligent, low-budget moves can succeed at the box office

The men from the American Turf and Carpet company were busy putting the final touches to their crowning achievement. Frantically cutting and taping their way along the middle of what in normal times is Hollywood Boulevard, they covered their creation with plastic sheeting as they went, as much to protect it from the feet of tourists as from the elements.

"What's going on?" asked a startled Chris Miller, visiting for the week from northern Colorado. On being told this particularly shabby stretch of Hollywood was being transformed for its starring role hosting the Oscars, and that beneath the plastic sheeting lay the hallowed red carpet, he squirmed in mock excitement. "I can feel the power," he exclaimed.

Around him caterers hustled by, bearing platters of food to be offered to nominees after the event at the annual Governor's Ball, hosted this year not by one of their own, governor Arnold Schwarzenegger having departed, but by the decidedly budget-conscious Jerry Brown. Japanese TV crews choreographed elaborate news presentations, corralling some of the sidewalk performers stationed outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre as extras: Elvis seemed too busy to help, and Jacko wouldn't stop whooping, but Toy Story's Woody played along.

Beneath them all, the red carpet squeaked and crackled under its plastic cover, waiting for the moment when it would be revealed in all its pristine glory, ready to help the delicately inflated egos of the world of movies float past adoring crowds before entering the Kodak theatre, which, despite the best efforts of some of the most talented special effects people in Hollywood, cannot disguise the fact that it is a shopping mall attached to a hotel.

But illusion and artifice are the charm and business of Hollywood, its pompous glitz fulfilling our most base fears and aspirations. And this year the illusionists are pulling off their trick once again, congratulating themselves on an undeniably fine crop of intelligent, thought-provoking, handsomely crafted films while preparing to unleash the customary torrent of drivel on audiences deluded into believing that a pair of plastic glasses will make a dud look like a classic.

This year's season of stupidity really kicks into gear in the US in May as successive weekends bring audiences Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Hangover 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Green Lantern, Cars 2 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. By early July any remaining sentient filmgoers will possibly never want to go to the movies again. And we won't have even got to The Smurfs, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World or Final Destination 5.

Proof that all this trickery and chicanery works came last week courtesy of the suits at the Motion Picture Association of America, who announced that global box office takings hit a record high of $31.8bn in 2010. The fact that the number of tickets sold in the US declined by 5% was glossed over by the news that revenues had stayed the same, thanks to the growth of 3D. That's the way the money goes: fewer tickets at higher prices. The situation has not escaped the attention of the critics, who have been mustering their fury and sorrow to unleash a series of attacks on the state of things. The lengthiest diatribe comes in the current US issue of GQ magazine, where film writer Mark Harris rails against the branding of Hollywood studio movies, a trend that prizes brand recognition and marketing over originality.

Yet for decades the studio system has been about the business of entertainment, a subdivision of the leisure industry, rather than the art of film-making. Sometimes there has been a happy, if freak, collision of the two, but generally they are distinct sectors of an occasionally intersecting universe. This year, with the solid, some would say spectacular, showing of the Oscar best picture nominees, many involved in making the sorts of films that critics fear are lost express the hope that the industry has turned a corner.

"I like to think it's turning around," says Gary Gilbert, a producer on The Kids Are All Right, one of this year's best picture nominees. "I think the major studios' priorities are the huge, tentpole films, and they have the attitude that instead of financing the production of independent movies they would prefer to see the finished article at a festival and have the opportunity to buy it."

The Kids Are All Right, Lisa Cholodenko's lesbian-family-artificial-insemination-reunion drama, is the sort of film that on paper sounds as though it should command the smallest of niche audiences. But it has grossed $29.5m at the US box office after being bought by Focus Features for $4.8m. Not bad for a $4m production budget.

Even getting that budget together was a struggle, says Gilbert: "It was excruciating. It didn't all come together until one or two days before principal photography started. It was very, very shaky ground."

The performance of Cholodenko's film has been repeated, and in some cases surpassed, by the other best film nominees. Most notable is The King's Speech, which, with the help of Harvey Weinstein, has turned its $15m production budget into a global box office take of $237.5m. For perspective, that figure puts The King's Speech at number 340 on the all-time worldwide box-office chart, two places above Saturday Night Fever. Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, made for $13m, has taken $204m worldwide, while The Fighter, with a budget of $25m, has grossed $105.6m. These are indeed heady times in the world of independent film.

For Alix Madigan, a producer of Winter's Bone, another low-budget best picture nominee, which has seen its $2m budget recoup $8m worldwide, this year's crop of films – particularly their financial success – could provoke the studios to re-examine their role.

"These films have paved the road for a greater allowance for adult fare and a branching away from branded entertainment," she says. "It's an exciting time and hopefully the studios will take note of that and steer their development slates more towards the sort of films that have done well this year."

Part of that resurgence was seen at this year's Sundance festival, the Robert Redford-led indie film gathering held each year in the snow of Park City, Utah, which eased the birth of Reservoir Dogs and The Blair Witch Project. After a few years in the doldrums, Sundance 2011 saw a return to, if not the glory years, then a vibrant marketplace. "Films with few stars and complicated stories were being sold for big advances," says Madigan. "That was a very heartening thing, to see because we didn't see it last year."

She cautions, however, that the independent sector has been here before. "The one big hope I have," she says, "is that this is not some big bubble and we all revert to the dark years of independent film."

For GQ's Harris and other critics, one of the Hollywood studio films that took the industry down a path from which it has never recovered was Top Gun, that seemingly inoffensive piece of pap that ushered in the era of the concept movie in 1986, the film genre that boasted a plot that could be summarised in 12 words. The people who grew up on Top Gun, asserts Harris, now run the movie business and their principal interest in a movie is its bottom line, not its aesthetic. "Man, I loved Top Gun," says film distributor Tom Quinn. "What's wrong with Top Gun? But I also loved Black Swan. I can't wait to go on the Black Swan rollercoaster. I can't wait to see what happens a couple of years from now. Will everyone take up dancing? Will suicide rates among young ballerinas go up?"

Quinn is a senior vice-president of Magnolia Pictures, which distributes foreign, documentary and American independent films in the US. You'd expect him to be in a state of anxiety over his business, but he isn't. On the contrary, like many in the US independent sector he is optimistic that new audiences are being drawn to intelligent film-making and that they are finding ways of seeing the films.

"People bemoan the industry, but it hasn't changed," he says. "What is growing is a much younger audience that is more familiar with many more ways to view films." He gives an example: Black Death, a British independent horror movie about the plague starring Sean Bean. It hasn't been released in cinemas in the US yet, but Quinn has put it out on VOD – video on demand streamed over the internet. "We launched it four weeks prior to its theatrical release at the same price as the theatre ticket," he says. "It's taken $1m in less than 10 days."

For Quinn and his company, the business model is that of sport. "If you're a sports fan who follows the local team, you watch them online, you follow them on your phone, you listen to radio commentary in the car. Why can't entertainment be consumed in the same way? There are now 65m homes with VOD. We could never replicate that on 35mm prints. It's changed the economics of our business, and made it feel like a business that can work."

Credit :

Veena Malik is back, and this time, her dance number is possibly longer than her previous appearances on Bigg Boss.

Veena Malik is back in yet another Indian cricket-based reality TV show, ‘Bigg Toss’, and this time, her dance number is possibly longer than her previous appearances on Bigg Boss.

According to the video description, 12 contestants will be pitted against each other to “cash in on the World Cup fever” with the centre of attraction being “television hotties, Veena Malik and Bollywood item girl Rakhi Sawant.”

With such star power and a few more dance numbers, this show is likely to be yet another major hit. We can definitely expect thousands of eager, perhaps mortified Pakistanis to be scouring through YouTube for more clips of Malik as the show progresses.
Video rating: two thumbs way up for clubbing cricket, reality TV and starlets together.

Credit : The Express Tribune Pakistan

Four Oscars For "The King's Speech"

Hollywood - The royal drama "The King's Speech" took three top prizes of the Academy Awards, including best actor Colin Firth.

The film took the Best Film and the coveted best director and the Firth gong for his portrayal of stuttering with King George VI, the coach for help in time of war Australian ballot rally Britain.
He also won the Best Original Screenplay, giving the film four Oscars in common - the same as Hi-tech thriller "original" and one more than this, the film "Social Networking", which was tipped as a winner best film possible.

Screenwriter David Seidler used his speech to the joke to thank the Queen Elizabeth II, in particular, as stutterers everywhere.

"I want to thank Her Majesty the Queen does not put me in the Tower of London" for placement of swear words in the mouth of George VI. "And I accept it on behalf of all stutterers worldwide .
"We have a voice we heard," said Seidler, who himself suffered from stuttering, echoing the sidelines of the film.

"Social Networking", which was nominated in eight categories, an Oscar, ended up going home with only three, and none among the most important: editing, original score and adapted screenplay for writer Aaron Sorkin .

Sorkin later gave Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, whose image in the film is not too flattering. "I think it was a very good sport about it.

"I do not know if each of us wants the film, based on when we were 19," he said.
"Initial" Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio as a mercenary who goes through the dreams of people around, won four Oscars: film, visual effects, sound editing and sound mixing.

Natalie Portman won best actress for her role in the ballet disquieting thriller "Black Swan".
boxing movie "The Fighter" took two gongs - Best Supporting Actor for Christian Bale, and best supporting actress Melissa Leo, who were both favorites to win.

"King's Speech", directed by Tom Hooper told an incredible story about how he came to do a film with his Australian mother, who was in the room.

"My mother in 2007 was invited by friends in Australia - he is Australian - London fringe in reading unproduced play, an unexpected piece titled " King's Speech, "said 38-year-old Briton.

He explained: "She was never asked to play a reading of his life before she almost did not go because it did not sound exactly promising, but thank you God, it ..

"She called me and said afterwards, Tom, I think I found your next movie. So, tonight, I will honor and moral of the story, listen to your mother. "

In other awards, "Toy Story 3," the third installment of the franchise family, featuring Woody, Buzz Light year and cooperation. Best Animated Film Oscar as expected.

And the award for best foreign film went to "a better world" by director Susanne Bier's Danish star, who defeated the films from Algeria, Canada, Greece and Mexico.

"Oscar" is the culmination of the film award season industry several billion dollars and was preceded by months or a crazy campaign for the coveted golden statuettes.

Firth, who had seen Shu-in for best actor, was one of the usual speech of acceptance of self-mockery, with the opening: "I feel that my career has peaked.

"I'm afraid I must warn you that I feel the excitement, somewhere in the upper abdominal muscles, threatening to join the dance, he said.

These impulses, "as happy as they can be for me ... it would be extremely problematic if they do it at my feet before going behind the scenes," he added, laughing.

He won a Jeff Bridges - who beat Firth for the Oscar for best actor last year - in "True Grit", Jesse Eisenberg in "Social Networking", James Franco in "127 hours" and the heart beat Spanish Javier Bardem in 'Biutiful'.
Portman rivals for Best Actress Annette Bening is a veteran of "Kids Are All Right", Australian Nicole Kidman for "Rabbit Hole", Jennifer Lawrence in "Bones winter" and Michelle Williams in "Blue Valentine".

Sridevi 'makes Hindi film comeback'

Sridevi is rumoured to be making a return to Indian cinema.
The Lamhe actress is said to be playing a lead role in a project produced by R Balki and directed by Gauri Shinde.

A source for Mumbai Mirror commented: "Balki and Gauri have worked very hard on this subject for the past few months and are now ready to roll. [Sridevi] loved Balki and Gauri's film offer. She requested all her friends and relatives to keep it under wraps."

The Mr India star is also reported to have started fitness training in preparation for the role: "Sridevi is very excited about her comeback. She has hit the gym and is regularly going to a nutritionist to get into shape," the source added.

Filming on the as-yet-untitled project will commence in April.


A few surprises - including bad words - at the Oscars

The host was the youngest ever. The winning screenwriter was the oldest ever. The ceremony was hipper than usual - and a bit more vulgar.

The 2011 Academy Awards came with a few surprises in the early going, which started by honouring the boxing drama The Fighter for its supporting performances.

Christian Bale, whose portrayal of a crack addict almost overwhelmed the boxing movie, was named best supporting actor, and Melissa Leo - whose self-promoting ads caused consternation in Hollywood - overcame the controversy to win the Oscar as best supporting actress.

Leo won for her excoriating portrait of the mother and manager of "Irish" Micky Ward, the real-life junior welterweight who overcame the odds (and his family) to win a title.

The actress had taken out ads in trade publications featuring glamour photos of herself, superimposed over the word "Consider." While the campaign did not hurt her chances, she ignited a second controversy during her speech when she said, "When I watched Kate (Winslet) two years ago, it looked so f---ing easy."

Bale said he wasn't going to drop the "f-bomb," but the slip of the tongue promoted co-host Anne Hathaway - at 27, the youngest host of the show in history - to say, "It's the young and hip Oscars."

Young and hip was a big part of the 2011 Oscar story. It was set up as a battle of Old vs. New Hollywood, with the veterans being given the edge. Old Hollywood was represented by The King's Speech, a piece of royal history with established star Colin Firth - an overwhelming favourite for the best actor award - as King George VI, the stammering ruler of England at the start of the Second World War, who has his stutter corrected by an eccentric speech therapist played by supporting actor nominee Geoffrey Rush.

The champion of the New Hollywood was The Social Network, a more modern sort of biopic. It tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg (played by best actor nominee Jesse Eisenberg, 27, part of the new generation of stars) who founded Facebook. That was a different kind of watershed event, one that may turn out to be no less earth-shaking than the war.

Aaron Sorkin won the award for adapted screenplay for his smart, fast-moving original screenplay for The Social Network. He paid tribute to legendary screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, who won the Oscar "for another movie with Network in the title;" that is, Network (he also won for Hospital and Marty). The movie also won the award for best original score.

David Seidler, who wrote The King's Speech, won the Oscar for best original screenplay. "My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer," said Seidler, 73. He noted that he is the oldest person to ever win the award, which he accepted "for all the stutterers throughout the world."

With its front-running 12 nominations, and already winner of prizes given by the influential Directors Guild, Producers Guild and Actors Guild, The King's Speech led the pack.

Old vs. New also came up in another of the most hotly contested categories, best actress. Natalie Portman, 29 - playing a ballerina whose persona is slowly shattered when she has to find her dark side to dance Swan Lake - was the favourite almost from the time her film, Black Swan, had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. But there was some late momentum for Annette Bening, 52, for her role as a workaholic doctor in The Kids Are All Right. Bening has been nominated three times before without a victory, and this might have been her last chance.

The Danish film In a Better World - a story about friendship between two families - won the Oscar for best foreign-language film, beating the Canadian entry Incendies, Denis Villeneuve's shattering film about a Montreal woman who returns to the Middle East to learn secrets about her family.

The Australian film The Lost Thing won the award for animated short film, beating the favoured Pixar entry Day & Night. Nevertheless, Pixar bounced back by winning the award for best animated feature for Toy Story 3.

Two Canadian animators - Dean DeBlois, co-director of How to Train Your Dragon, and Paul Dutton, animation director of The Illusionist - had also been nominated for that animated feature award.

In addition, Montreal effects artist Adrien Morot was nominated for the Oscar for best makeup for his work on the Canadian film Barney's Version, which went to The Wolfman, and Craig Berkey was nominated for the sound design of True Grit, an award that went to Inception.

Alice in Wonderland won the first award, for art direction, and Wally Pfister - director Christopher Nolan's favourite cinematographer - won the award for Inception, upsetting the favoured Roger Deakins from True Grit, who has now been nominated nine times without a win. The sci-fi epic also won the awards for sound mixing and editing. The Inception winners all gave special thanks to Nolan, who was snubbed in the best director category, even though the movie itself was nominated for best picture.

Credit : The Gazette,Montreal


Shah Rukh Khan ‘wants Lady Gaga for RA.ONE’

Shah Rukh Khan is reportedly keen on working with Lady Gaga in his upcoming sci-fi fantasy film Ra.One.

According to Mid Day, the 45-year-old Bollywood superstar has asked Akon to persuade the 'Born This Way' singer to do a music video for the film.

A source told the newspaper: "If she agrees to do Ra.One it would be a huge asset for the film. Akon has already bounced the idea to GaGa's management and her team. While she's touring right now, there's a possibility that Shah Rukh might have a meeting with her in coming weeks."

The source added: "While Anubhav Sinha and Khan are trying hard to get Akon to convince Gaga, they are also sending Shakira feelers for the same."

Akon has already recorded a song called ‘Chamak Challo’ for the movie, which is slated for release in October.

Balan, Kapur to become engaged?

Vidya Balan may reportedly get engaged to Siddharth Roy Kapur.

According to The Times of India, the actress is rumoured to be in a relationship with the head of UTV Motion Pictures, with the pair said to be close to deciding to wed.

A top industry source told the newspaper: “Vid and Sid are close. And in the past weeks they have been spotted spending quality time with each other on two occasions.”

The critically-acclaimed actress recently worked in Siddharth’s No One Killed Jessica. The film corporation executive is not comfortable talking about his friendship with the actress as he is allegedly waiting for his divorce to come through.

However, Balan’s secretary commented: "Vidya has to first know Siddharth well enough to marry him. One doesn't necessarily marry people one is friendly to or has dinners with."

Balan will next be seen in The Dirty Picture.

Tanu Weds Manu

Why should you watch "Tanu Weds Manu"? For R. Madhavan who will win you heart as a sweet lovable NRI doctor Manu who has the misfortune of falling in love with a Kanpur-girl Tanu (Kangana Ranaut) who not only rejects him as a suitor but also uses him to elope with her ruffian boyfriend.

Hiding his heartbreak and disappointment behind a smile, Madhavan fits into the role of a goody goody NRI like a glove. He is hopelessly in love with Tanuja who doesn't miss a single opportunity to hurt him. Rules, they say, are meant to be broken and that's what Tanu's agenda in life is - to break all rules that a middle-class family swears by.

Well, an NRI coming home to find a suitable bride for him is very common in Indian society and director Anand Rai's comedy opens with the same. He tries to be as close to reality as possible - from the backdrop, to clothes, to character artists - all bring out the element of a middle-class setup perfectly.

With a marriage in the background providing a perfect place for Tanu's second chance meeting with Manu, the movie traces the relationship between the girl and the NRI. Surely, perfect material for sentimental romances with 'comedy ka tadka'.

But there is something missing to make it a perfect romantic comedy. First, the script is punctured, then their is no chemistry between Madhavan and Kangana and if that was not enough, the narrative doesn't flow at the desired pace - it's slower than it should be.

Though the director picked up an interesting subject, he has not succeeded in executing his story effectively on screen - there are not enough laughs in the film. Whatever funny scenes are there, credit goes to the chemistry between Madhavan and Deepak Dobriyal who plays his friend Pappi.

Kangana's dialogue delivery puts you off and she lacks the spunk and spark to play the free bird that she is in the movie. In fact, Swara Bhaskar, who plays her friend Payal, holds the fort as the Bihari girl who is marrying a sardarji (Eijaz Khan) who also happens to be Manu's best friend.

Payal is impressed with Manu and even tries to drill some sense into Tanu's head but Tanu, a rebel, doesn't want to admit her feelings for the man who is picked by her parents.

Critics won't appreciate the plot but Madhavan fans would find enough material to enjoy the film.

Music plays an important role in a wedding-based romantic comedy and the director could have got it right if he had opted for fast-paced peppy numbers.

In the performance department, full marks go to Madhavan, Deepak and Swara. The supporting cast of K.K. Raina, Rajendra Gupta and Navni Parihar don't have much to do, but whatever role they have, they carry it well. Jimmy Shergill as Kangana's ruffian boyfriend is wasted, so is Ravi Kishen as his sidekick.

If you are looking for a great romantic comedy, this is not the one, but watch it for Madhavan and his chemistry with Deepak.

I am stylish and glamorous

Lady GaGa has revealed that being "glamorous" and "stylish" has nothing to do with her wealth.

The singer insisted that wearing flesh-coloured spikes on her forehead and platform shoes is ''just another day at the office".

Speaking in an interview with Gayle King, while wearing spikes on her face and shoulders, huge platform shoes and a leather dress, she said: "I live a glamorous, stylish life. It's nothing to do with money or anything. It's just the way I choose to live.

"I just woke up in my New York apartment and just wanted to be myself today, so I wore my vintage mute glare catsuit and these are my favourite shoes right now.

"They're creepers and they're made into platforms. I'm very excited about that. It's just another day at the office."

The 24-year-old then claimed that the spikes on her face were natural: "They've been there this whole time but I waited until I'd put 'Born This Way' out for you to see them."

GaGa also said that she doesn't care what people think of her.
She added: "I always like to say people take me too seriously and not seriously enough at the same time.

"I think there's an incredible amount of scrutiny on young women and I think there's a tremendous amount of analysis that goes into everything, but I just don't care what people think of me to be perfectly blunt."


Of Gods and Men

Gravely serene and suffused with tenderness, Of Gods and Men takes the simple, profound stand that how a person of faith lives matters more than the circumstances of his death. I stick with the male pronoun here because this superb, award-laden French drama — a surprising omission among this year's Foreign Language Film Oscar nominees — is so essentially about how men behave in the name of religious conviction.

The movie is loosely based on real events: In 1996, seven French Catholic monks in an Algerian monastery were kidnapped by Islamic terrorists and then disappeared, the circumstances of their murder unsolved. Prior to the abduction, the monks in Of Gods and Men know they're in danger — even though they have lived in friendly harmony with their Muslim neighbors for years. For the group decision of whether to leave Algeria or stay, every man must first decide for himself, and the movie grants each the dignity of individual struggle. (The understated cast is led by The Matrix Reloaded's Lambert Wilson as the elected head monk and Michael Lonsdale from Munich as the monastery's aging doctor.) But it is their shared strength as a band of brothers humble before their Christian God — and indeed before the God of Islam — that may stir viewers to an awe that transcends skeptical opinions about religion or politics. That devotion is never so movingly expressed as when the men join in the beautifully plain chant that fills the soundtrack. Tchaikovsky trend alert: Secular music makes one emotionally climactic appearance when, having absorbed the consequences of their choice to stay in North Africa, the men share wine and listen to voluptuous music on an old tape deck. Their selection: Swan Lake's grand theme, a button pusher in Black Swan.

Lara Bingle 'signs deal with photo agency'

Aussie bikini model Lara Bingle has reportedly signed a deal with a photo agency.
She is said to have struck a deal with photo agency Big Pictures for a cut of profits made from her own photos.

It is understood rival agencies are seething over the deal, which are generally commonplace in the US.
The move means Bingle can create and control the pictures released for sale to magazines and newspapers.
Bingle was snapped yesterday looking perfect after a long-haul flight from London.
The photo had a price tag of 250 dollars and it is thought Bingle would receive about 50 per cent of profits in a deal.

News of an alliance came as a surprise to Bingle's manager, Titus Day, who denied the pin-up had struck an agreement with self-proclaimed "Mr Paparazzi" Darren Lyons.

"We haven't done any deals with anyone," the Daily Telegraph quoted Day as saying.
But the millionaire Big Pictures agency owner has been seen lunching with Bingle on several occasions in recent weeks, and the former cricket WAG was seen at Sydney airport recently giving one Big Pictures photographer directions to her location.

Best film Cesar award goes to Des Hommes et des Dieux

PARIS - Director Xavier Beauvois on Friday won best film award for his "Des Hommes et des Dieux" in France's version of the Oscars, the Cesars, and said the movie about monks kidnapped and murdered in Algeria shed some "intelligence" on the 1996 event.

Accepting the award Beauvois described the film as a "message of equality, liberty, fraternity" - referring to the French creed - and called for "brotherliness" toward French Muslims.

The best director award went to Roman Polanski for "The Ghost Writer" while Eric Elmosnino was best actor in "Gainsbourg (vie heroique)" and Sara Forestier picked up the best actress prize for her part in "Le nom des gens."

OSCAR packs his bags

U.S. film industry cashes in abroad

LOS ANGELES — The awards season for films, which reaches its tearful climax with the Oscars on Sunday, has long been only loosely related to the film business. Hollywood is dedicated to the art of funnelling teenagers past popcorn stands, not art itself. But this year’s awards are less relevant than ever. The true worth of a film is no longer decided by the crowd that assembles in the Kodak Theatre — or, indeed, by any American. It is decided by youngsters in countries such as Russia, China and Brazil.

Hollywood has always been an international business, but it is becoming dramatically more so. In the past decade, total box-office spending has risen by about one-third in North America while more than doubling elsewhere. Thanks to Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and Inception, Warner Bros. made $2.93 billion outside North America last year, smashing the studio's previous record of $2.24 billion. Falling DVD sales in America, by far the world's biggest home-entertainment market, mean Hollywood is even more dependent on foreign sales.

The rising foreign tide has lifted films that were virtually written off in America, such as Prince of Persia and The Chronicles of Narnia: the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Despite starring the popular Jack Black, Gulliver's Travels had a disappointing run in North America, taking $42 million at the box office so far. But strong turnout in Russia and South Korea helped it reach almost $150 million in sales elsewhere. As a result, it should turn a profit, says John Davis, the film's producer.

The growth of the international box office is partly a result of the dollar's weakness. It was also helped by Avatar, an eco-fantasy that made a startling $2 billion outside North America. But three things are particularly important: a cinema boom in the emerging world, a concerted effort by the major studios to make films that might play well outside America and a global marketing push to make sure they do.

Russia, with its shrinking teenage population, is an unlikely spot for a box-office boom. Yet cinema-building is proceeding apace, and supply has created demand. Last year, 160 million movie tickets were sold in Russia ---- the first time in recent years that sales have exceeded the country's population. Ticket prices have risen, in part because the new cinemas are superior, with digital projectors that can show 3D films.

The big Hollywood studios are muscling domestic film-makers aside. In 2007, American films made almost twice as much at the Russian box office as domestic films -- 8.3 billion rubles ($325 million) compared with 4.5 billion rubles. Last year, the imported stuff made some 16.4 billion rubles: more than five times as much as the home-grown product, estimates Movie Research, a Moscow outfit. Earlier this month, Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister, said the government would spend less money supporting Russian film-makers and more on expanding the number of screens.

Growth is much quicker in China, where box-office receipts reached $1.5 billion last year. China's regulator has claimed that cinema screens are going up at a rate of three per day; some are IMAX screens that command higher ticket prices. The government allows only 20 non-Chinese films into the market each year, virtually guaranteeing big audiences for those that make the cut. Moviegoers and censors alike warm to family films and movies that seem to reflect China's central place in the world. Thus, expect long lines for Kung Fu Panda 2 this summer.

Unfortunately, Hollywood has learned (as have many other industries) that great sales in China do not always translate into great profits. In America, distributors tend to receive 50 to 55 per cent of box-office receipts, with the rest going to the cinemas. Elsewhere, the average take is 40 to 45 per cent. In China, where Hollywood must use a domestic distributor, the proportion is roughly 15 per cent. American films may be yanked in favour of domestic ones (Avatar had to make way for Confucius last year). The World Trade Organization has ordered China to reform, but few moguls expect it to.

Growing fears of piracy have led studios to release films almost simultaneously in many countries; increasingly, the premiere takes place outside America. That changes the marketing game, says Michael Lynton, head of Sony Pictures. Studios used to rely on rumours of American success seeping out of the country, priming audiences elsewhere to see a film. Now they must conduct co-ordinated global campaigns. These are more expensive and tougher on the talent. Stars are corralled for two-week marketing blitzes that may take them to 10 countries -- "like a political campaign," says Lynton. Actors who are willing to do this (such as the indefatigable Black) may find themselves working more regularly.

Big noisy spectacle travels best. Jason Statham, the close-cropped star of many a mindlessly violent film, is a particular Russian favorite. Films based on well-known literature (including cartoon books) and myths may also fare well. Films that trade on contemporary American cultural references are about as popular abroad as an oil slick on a NASCAR track. Comedy travels badly, too: Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler provoke guffaws at home but incomprehension abroad. As the market swings away from America, funny films are less likely to find financing or broad distribution anywhere. "You won't see us doing a lot of comedies," says Brad Grey, head of Paramount Pictures.

The growing internationalization of the film business suits the biggest outfits, and not just because they can afford explosions. The major studios' power lies not so much in their ability to make good films -- plenty of smaller operations can do that -- but in their ability to wring every possible drop of revenue from a film. With their superior global marketing machines and their ability to anticipate foreign tastes, they are increasingly dominating the market. For everyone else, there is a chance to win a gold statue.

Credit :  Winnipeg Free Press

Chopra dropped after film flop?

Priyanka Chopra is reportedly no longer the front-runner for a new project after the disappointing box-office performance of 7 Khoon Maaf.

The actress was said to be the favourite for director Vishal Bhardwaj's planned adaptation of the best-selling Indian novel 2 States, Mumbai Mirror reports.

However, a source told the paper: "It is now a toss-up mainly between Kareena Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, the latter having a slight edge. It might even be... Deepika Padukone or Asin, but it certainly won't be Priyanka."

Bhardwaj directed Chopra in her hit Kaminey which also starred her then-boyfriend Shahid Kapoor.

Playboy covergirl makes Bollywood debut with 'Aazaan'

Playboy covergirl Candice Boucher will make her Bollywood debut as a sand artist in director Prashant Chadha's "Aazaan".

Acclaimed sand artist Alexandra Konofalskaya was flown down from Belarus to train Candice for her role.

"I never imagined myself in a Bollywood film but now I'm looking forward to its premiere. I love your country and I want to see a lot of India," she said in a press statement.

"Aazaan" is an international espionage film about an informant who has to go undercover beyond enemy lines to save the nation from destruction by biological warfare.

"While scripting the film, I felt that Candice would make the perfect mystery miss. Given that she's a Playboy covergirl, the instant connect is, 'She must be hot.' She is but there's also a certain vulnerability that makes her more appealing," said Chadha, who made his directorial debut with Himesh Reshammiyaa starrer "Aap Ka Surroor".

Onir's 'I AM' ready for April release

Director Onir's "I AM", co-produced by over 400 people from 35 cities across the world, is now ready to hit the screens April 22.

"I AM" is a tale of four stories woven together that take audiences through issues and dilemmas that bruise modern Indian society.

The film unfolds many a tale of individuals struggling to find their identity, and uphold their dignity in a world that is callous, cold and unsympathetic.

The film bagged NETPAC Award for the Best in Asian Cinema at the International Film Festival of Kerala and many more honours.

The ensemble cast includes Juhi Chawla, Rahul Bose, Nandita Das, Sanjay Suri, Purab Kohli, Arjun Mathur, Abhimanyu Singh and Manisha Koirala. The film also marks the acting debut of directors Anurag Kashyap and Anurag Basu.

"The industry is looking forward to the release of 'I AM' since it's a movie with a soul. We can expect stellar performances for the cast and it's got its heart in the right place," said a source.

"I AM" is being distributed by PVR across India

It's difficult to play a legend's role: Neha Dhupia

Neha Dhupia, who plays Eva Braun in "Dear Friend Hitler", says that it is difficult to play legends on screen.

"Playing the role of Hitler's companion Eva Brown was very challenging. She was a legend in a way and I feel it is diffifcult to play legandary characters on screen," said the 30-year-old at presentation on the City Of Dreams Macau resort adjacent to Hong Kong. She has been appointed the official celebrity guide of the project.

"It has been a task for me, but I took it very sportingly as I belive in extending and exploring my horizons. I am a firm believer of pushing one's envelope and experincing the unkown," she added.

The film is Amrapali Media Vision's first production and is directed by Rakesh Ranjan Kumar. The film also stars Nalin Singh and Raghuveer Yadav.

Source: Indo-Asian News Service


Salman Khan jumps from 10,000 feet up for soft drink ad

Bollywood's "Dabangg" actor Salman Khan will be seen doing a daredevil stunt in PepsiCo's new Mountain Dew ad - he jumps from 10,000 feet in a "wingsuit" from which a parachute springs open.

"Everyone is afraid of something or the other at some point of his or her life. But if you try to run away from fear, you'd be tired and eventually fear will win. So the best way to overcome fear is to face it, run through it because 'Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai'," Salman said in a statement.

Salman was initially not so sure about the stunt but he eventually did it. Wingsuit flying is a new sport of flying through the air in a special jumpsuit and pulling the parachute's ripcord as one apporaches the ground.

He is said to be the first celebrity brand ambassador roped in by Mountain Dew.

Alpana Titus, category marketing director (flavoured carbonated drinks), PepsiCo India Beverages, says the new campaign is quite big in terms of quality and budget.

"Salman has jumped from a mountain which was 10,000 feet high. He did have jitters initially but was confident it would work out well and he would be able to overcome his fears in turn," she said.

When asked why Salman was chosen out of all the known faces, Titus said: "Salman was our first choice because he embodies our (Mountain Dew's) tagline 'Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai' accurately and he also has a nationwide fan following. People in not only the metros but also the remote areas follow him."

The 45-second TV commercial will air from Friday and a 60-second commercial will be shown in theatres.


Abhi-Ash to attend Oscars?

Bollywood's star couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, who are currently in Los Angeles for a holiday, will be attending the 83rd Annual Academy Awards Sunday, according to megastar Amitabh Bachchan.

"Ya, Abhishek and Aishwarya have been invited by the Academy to attend the Oscars on Sunday … so … (sic)," Amitabh posted on his blog

Amitabh spilled the duo's plans while sharing how American actor Warren Beatty met Abhishek at an LA store for fittings.

"Oh! And incidentally they were getting fitted at a clothes store, for the Oscars Award ceremony for Sunday - Warren and Abhishek!," added Amitabh.

Abhishek, who had been busy with the shooting of Players in New Zealand, is in LA for a break with his wife Aishwarya. The couple will also be meeting once Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker, who is also expected to attend the prestigious ceremony.

These apart, music composer AR Rahman, who has been nominated for two categories at the Oscar this year, will be attending the event too.

Rahman, who won two Oscars for his work in the 2009 movie Slumdog Millionaire, is vying for the golden statuette for the original score of Danny Boyle's 127 Hours as well as original song If I Rise from the same movie, this year. Rahman will also be performing the song at the ceremony.

Meanwhile, the Bollywood fraternity is pinning hopes that the Mozart of Madras brings back the trophies this year too.

India-born British film editor Tariq Anwar is also in the Oscar race with a nomination for his work in the hugely popular historical drama The King's Speech.

Source: Hindustan Times


Bollywood stars are self-obsessed

Kangana Ranaut has accused fellow Bollywood stars of being self-obsessed.
The actress's next big film will be the ensemble action movie Game, also starring Abhishek Bachchan and Jimmy Shergill.

In an interview with the Times of India, she said: "I could never develop friends in this industry. I don't like filmi life.
"Most people are self-obsessed here and can't have a good conversation."
She also denied that she had been asked to leave after gatecrashing a party organised by Salman Khan.

Priyanka Chopra meets Lady GaGa in NY

Priyanka Chopra has praised Lady GaGa following a backstage meeting at the singer's Madison Square Garden concert.

According to Hindustan Times, the former Miss World has announced that she is a fan of the controversial performer.
Chopra told Desi Hits : "I like her tracks 'Poker Face', 'Bad Romance' and 'Drag Queen', so it was great to see her perform."
The Dostana actress also commented on the way the musician reached out to her followers.

"I loved the way she connected with her fans, people really connected with her and her message 'Be proud of who you are'. It's a great message," said the 28-year-old.
On her last visit to the UK, Chopra posted on Twitter that she had attended a Tinie Tempah gig.

Lara Dutta cheers hubby Mahesh Bhupathi at Dubai tennis match

Newlywed Bollywood actress Lara Dutta was seen cheering her husband Mahesh Bhupathi during a tennis match in Dubai.

Bhupathi, 36, was paired with fellow Indian tennis player Leander Paes, 37, against the Djokovic brothers, Novak and Marko, at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Gulf News reported.

Dutta, 32, who has just returned from her wedding reception in Goa, dressed casually in a light, summery, floral top with her hair tied back in a short ponytail.

The couple got engaged in September last year and were married at a civil ceremony in Bandra on February 12.


Oops, Rakhi does it again!

Rakhi Sawant has stirred the hornet’s nest again. Not long after she was in the dock for allegedly driving a young man to suicide after she called him impotent, the starlet, 32, has been accused of molesting a Delhi-based guru, Swami Arvind, giving him a panic attack that landed him in hospital. The two were part of a reality show on India TV — Bigg Toss — loosely based on Bigg Boss, which makes contestants stay together in a villa in Noida.

“I have left the show because Rakhi, whom I treated like my daughter, sat on my lap and made me do a close dance with her. I kept on saying, ‘for God’s sake, leave me, I am not here to do these cheap and obscene acts’, but she did not listen and humiliated me in front of so many viewers. I was shocked to see a woman molesting a man like this,” says the 48-year-old. The Shraddha channel show host was admitted to the Geeta Gupta Nursing Home in Shahdara last week after he suffered an angina attack and his blood pressure shot up.
Sawant, however, denies the allegations. “By accusing me of molesting him, he is only gaining mileage in my name. Rakhi Sawant ke saath naam juda toh popular ho jayega (If you get linked with me, you will get popular),” she says, adding, “He was not fit for the show. Main us dhongi-paakhandi baba ka asli chehra saamne laayi hun (I have ripped the mask off that fraudulent priest). Why did he not raise the issue while he was in the house?”
Some are sure that it’s just another publicity gimmick. “It’s a new show and it’s Rakhi Sawant, so it’s obviously all a tamasha,” says Nitesh Singh, 21, a viewer of the show. “Rakhi Sawant can go to any extent to gain attention. But if the priest is indeed in hospital, this is just not on,” says Bobby Darling, former Bigg Boss contestant.

Source:  Hindustan Times

Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2011: Live Action

There are no handy publicity campaigns to introduce you to the five live-action shorts and five animated shorts nominated for Oscars, but I can help. Here's what's in the running — and which are my favorites. Then it's your turn to take a look — in theaters, on demand, or on iTunes — and pick your own. (As for Oscar odds, you're asking the wrong bookie.)

In a generally unexciting live-action field, Na Wewe, by Belgian filmmaker Ivan Goldschmidt, gets my vote, since it's the only entry with any storytelling ambition or curiosity about real people in the big world. Set in Burundi in 1994, when civil war raged between Hutus and Tutsis, it's an admirably compact story about identity that's both tense and darkly funny. (The title means ''you too” in Kirundi.) Among the other, more navel-gazing entries is God of Love, a self-consciously cool-looking, Brooklyn-y, New Wave-y hipster love story by Student Academy Award winner Luke Matheny, who also stars as a lovelorn nightclub crooner. The Crush, by Michael Creagh, about an Irish schoolboy who's sweet on his pretty lady teacher, insists on its own dramatic arc with little credibility to back it. Tanel Toom's The Confession tells a wee tale of boys, first confession, and the early onset of Catholic guilt. Wish 143, by Ian Barnes, mixes humor, pathos, and a virginal teenage cancer patient who wishes he weren't. A virgin, that is. Live-action shorts

Maintaining long hair is a real problem

Superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who has donned a new look in the sequel of his film "Don", says it is a real problem to maintain long hair and wonders how girls manage them so easily.

"It's a real problem maintaining such strings of hairs attached. I haven't shaved for so many days. I have huge respect for women, but really want to ask them how they maintain their long hair," Shah Rukh told the media at the launch of a documentary his production house made on the 1960s epic film "Mughal E Azam" at the JW Marriot Hotel Thursday night.

Shah Rukh said he was waiting for the shooting of director Farhan Akhtar's "Don 2" to wrap up so that he could get rid of the wig.

"I wake up in the morning and have to set it. I can't take a proper bath. They had to be washed with care. I am really, really looking forward to the shooting of 'Don 2' to wrap up," he said.

"My daughter tells me 'Papa I want to take you for a bath'. It's a huge problem. No sooner than the shooting of 'Don 2' finishes, I will take out this wig," the actor joked.


‘Faiz in Beirut’ published

The Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) has published a special book on Faiz Ahmed Faiz, which is written by Tasleem Elahi Zulfi.

The book, ‘Faiz Ahmed Faiz in Beirut’, focuses on Faizís activities and routine during his stay in Beirut as an expatriate. The book brings new aspects of the poetís life in light for the first time.

Giving a briefing on the release of the book, Fakhar Zaman, Chairman PAL, said that the book had been published in the light of President Asif Ali Zardari’s special instructions regarding the celebration of 2011 year as Faiz Ahmed Faiz year.

The academy has organized a series of nationwide seminars on Faiz. The first programme of the series was held at PALís main office in Islamabad. However, all four provincial offices of PAL also organized such events.

Fakhar said that Tasleem Elahi had brought into light four years of Faizís life about which not much was known.

Tasleem had written down his memories about the meetings with Faiz when the poet was in Beirut. However, special issues of quarterly ‘Adbiyat’ and an introductory book on Faizís life and work, under the series of ‘Makers of Pakistani Literatureî, had also been published by the PAL, he said. The academy, however, had plans to publish more books on Faiz during the coming months of the year, he added.

The academy would also hold an international conference on Faiz this year, for which primary arrangements had already been made, he said and added that the book by Tasleem was a significant addition to PALís publications and would be a good source of reference for scholars, researcher and general readers.

Source: The News Pakistan

M.F. Husain revives 'Mughal E Azam' through paintings

Well known painter M.F. Husain has paid his personal tribute to K. Asif's epic film "Mughal-E-Azam" by recreating the movie's fabulous scenes in a series of exquisite paintings.

"I love India. I loved the film and really wanted to show the grandeur and the power the film shows," Hussain said in a 22-minute documentary on K. Asif's timeless classic.

Superstar Shah Rukh Khan presented the documentary made by his production house, Red Chillies Entertainment, at JW Marriot hotel Thursday night.

The documentary shows how the film was transformed from black and white to colour and preserved for future generations.

The documentary was an initiative by K. Asif's son, Akbar Asif, to keep the cinematic treasure alive. Along with Sharoopji Mistry, he had released the coloured version of the epic film in 2006.

Shah Rukh said: "There are lots of such classics in the archive. But being stacked for a long time, the prints and negatives of those timeless films are decaying."

"My motive of making this documentary is that lets all come together and spend some money to revive or preserve these films."

Veteran actor Dilip Kumar, who played the role of Salim in the film, is the only actor alive among the whole cast and he would be shown the documentary, said Shah Rukh.

"I have to go and show him the documentary. He would love to see it," he said.


Travel NOC: Artistes vow to move Supreme Court

Lahore:Artistes, singers and writers have announced they will move the Supreme Court if the government decides to go ahead with a proposal requiring them to obtain a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) for visiting India.
This was stated at a joint press conference at Lahore Press Club on Friday in response to Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s recent statement before the National Assembly that artistes, government employees, journalists and students on scholarships would be required to obtain an NOC from the government before visiting India or any other country.

Ajoka theatre head Madeeha Gahuar said Malik’s announcement brought back memories of the Zia era. She said the move violated the fundamental rights of citizens. “We are discussing the issue with senior lawyers of the Supreme Court,” she said. “Now we will have to get an NOC even if we want to go on a peace building mission.”

Actor and director Salman Shahid asked why politicians weren’t ever asked for an NOC since they always seemed to escape the country after being declared absconders in corruption cases. He said the decision made no sense and should be withdrawn immediately.

Former Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) director general Naeem Tahir said the government hadn’t learned anything from the episode of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s arrest at New Delhi airport. He said he was disappointed to see a Pakistan Peoples Party-led government deciding to impose such restrictions.
Singer Ali Noor said while no concerts were being held in the country many signers had planned trips to India. The announcement, he said, would prove a fatal blow for the music industry.

Source:  The Express Tribune


Around six countries in 70 days - for Bollywood spy thriller

Shooting in exotic foreign locales is not new for Bollywood, but here comes a spy thriller that is spread over as many as six countries and also shoots with the local cast and crew to get the flavour right at each location.

Director Prashant Chadha's "Azaan" is being shot in Poland, the Czech Republic, Morocco, Germany, Thailand and India in a 70-day schedule. He is planning to wrap up shooting in foreign locales by March-end.

"The technical crew, except for the cameraman, is hired from the city we are shooting. The process of shooting was not that tedious because we spent a lot of time in pre-production. Shooting in five-six countries is not an easy job but because our preparation is so strong that we are able to wrap our shooting in stipulated time and in a given budget," Chadha told IANS in a telephonic conversation from Hong Kong.

To accomplish his plans, the director didn't mind shooting in the freezing cold of Poland and the seething heat of Morocco one after the other.

"Poland was zero degree Centigrade and after 20 days we were at Morocco where the temperature was 30 degrees C. We had to do it because it's our job and we have to take the pain for it," said the director whose Himesh Reshammiya-Hansika Motwani-starrer "Aap Kaa Surror" came out in 2007.

If his "Aap Kaa Surroor" was a musical romance, Chadha is charting a completely new terrain with "Azaan". It took him more than three years to start this project.

"I travelled one year after 'Aap Kaa Surroor'. When I took this project, I took a year to write the script and while writing the script I was doing the recce for the film. Pre-production was happening pretty much simultaneously," he said.

Though the prime cast of the film has Indian actors Sachiin Joshi, Aarya Babbar, Dilip Tahil, Sachin Khedekar and Aly Khan, Chadha also roped in locals from each region he shoots in to add international flavour to his film.

"We did casting from each country we shot in. That makes the plot more authentic. It would have looked very off if we would have used Indians in those regions because there is almost no Indian in a place like Poland. Casting local people from Morocco or Germany adds flavour to these kinds of films," he said.

"Azaan" is the story of an informant who has to go undercover beyond enemy lines and help find enough information to be able to save his brother and the nation from destruction through biological warfare.

"It's about a conspiracy that's been hatched in another country. The conspiracy is unveiled through the eyes of Azaan Khan. This takes him to these five countries," said Chadha. "It's a very human story of one guy who travels in search of his brother."

The director has also roped in Candice Boucher, international model and Playboy cover girl, because he found her fit to play a Moroccon girl.

"Candice Boucher stays in New York and is playing a Moroccon girl. Actually, I know Candice for over four years," he said.

The director is planning to release "Azaan" in June end.


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