An actress who has appeared in TV hits The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries has been sentenced to 18 years behind bars for sending ricin-laced letters to U.S. President Barack Obama and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Shannon Rogers Richardson pleaded guilty to the crime in December (13), six months after she was arrested for sending three 'poisoned' notes to Obama, Bloomberg and his colleague Mark Glaze, threatening harm if they continued to push for tougher gun control laws.
The highly-toxic substance, which can cause death, caused minor injuries to one mail clerk, but the letters never made it to her intended targets.
The 36 year old, also known as Shannon Guess Richardson, appeared in a federal court in Texarkana, Texas on Wednesday (16Jul14), when she used the opportunity to apologise to her victims, stating, "I never intended to hurt anyone."
Richardson was ordered to spend the next 18 years in a federal prison. Once completed, she must also spend five years on supervised release and pay $367,000 (£215,882) in restitution.
She had initially blamed her estranged husband Nathaniel Richardson for sending the letters. He filed for divorce last year (Jun13).
Singer Aretha Franklin has received an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard University. The Respect hitmaker was feted with a Doctor of Arts degree alongside former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday (29May14) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
She also sang the U.S. National Anthem at the ceremony. This isn't the first honorary degree from an Ivy League school for Franklin - in 2012, she received a Doctor of Music from Princeton University in New Jersey.
Jazz legend Miles Davis has landed a street honour in New York. Shirley Zafirau, Davis' former neighbour, launched a campaign to have a block named Miles Davis Way five years ago after noticing many other musicians, including Duke Ellington, Chico O'Farrill and John Hicks had been feted with the honour.
She says, "I wondered, 'Why isn't Miles recognised in the same way on this block?' He interacted with the community on the street. He really liked being here." On Tuesday (27May14), former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill renaming the street, according to the New York Times.
Vince Wilburn, Jr., Davis' nephew, says, "It's a great honour for my uncle. The family is very excited about it." Davis died in 1991 from the combined effects of a stroke, pneumonia and respiratory failure.
Legendary salsa star Cheo Feliciano has died in a car crash at the age of 78. A vehicle driven by Feliciano, real name Jose Luis Feliciano Vega, collided with a post in the Puerto Rican city of Cupey in the early hours of Thursday morning (17Apr14), according to a spokesperson for the country's police.
Feliciano began his career as a percussionist in a number of high-profile salsa bands, including Tito Rodriguez's orchestra, before becoming the singer for the Joe Cuba sextet. He later joined Fania Records' Fania All-Stars.
The musician became a determined anti-drug campaigner after beating an addiction to heroin at the end of the 1960s, and he volunteered to help with the rehabilitation of other salsa stars who had were battling drugs.
In 2008, New York's then-mayor Michael Bloomberg declared 20 June Cheo Feliciano day in honour of his 50-year career in the music industry, and he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Latin Grammy the same year.
Feliciano was inducted into Puerto Rico's Music Hall of Fame in 2013, months after announcing he had been diagnosed with an unspecified form of cancer. It is not known how far the illness had progressed when Feliciano died.
Actors Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Adrian Grenier have helped to raise $900,000 (£562,500) for ocean conservation foundation Oceana. The CSI: Crime Scene Investigation star and his wife Steenburgen joined former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday (08Apr14) for the Four Seasons Oceana fundraising gala honouring the politician in the Big Apple.
Speaking to the crowd, Danson said, "More than ever the oceans are a source of income and food for people around the world. So when ocean life is threatened, human life is threatened, and we can't let that happen."
Steenburgen also stepped into the spotlight at the event to serenade the audience alongside pianist Kim Oler, according to the New York Daily News.
She joked before the performance, "Alas, I have no songs about fish."
Samuel L. Jackson, Dennis Leary and Kate Bosworth saluted their movie star pal Kevin Spacey on Wednesday night (09Apr14) at a special gala hosted by officials at New York's Museum of the Moving Image. Kim Cattrall, Tony Bennett, Penn Badgley, Chazz Palminteri and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were also among the guests who turned out to honour the two-time Oscar winner as he was presented with a career achievement award.
A number of his film co-stars took the stage to reminisce about their experiences of working with Spacey in between clips of films such as Margin Call, American Beauty, Glengarry Glen Ross, L.A. Confidential and Beyond The Sea.
Leary recalled how the actor's famous mimicry skills would keep them entertained in between takes on 1994's The Ref, and he couldn't help but take a swipe at his old friend as he closed his speech, quipping, "Kevin, I love you like a brother and I'm so happy that you've reached the age now that they're giving you glass awards, and I hope some day soon we can work together again."
Spacey's The Negotiator and A Time To Kill co-star Jackson praised the 54 year old for making acting "exciting", adding, "He makes it fun. He reminds us why we wanted to do it in the first place... He lights up the screen alongside any of the greats, because he is just that."
Meanwhile, tribute notes from U2 rocker Bono and former U.S. President Bill Clinton were also read out to the crowd.
Speaking to WENN before the gala kicked off, Spacey admitted that following in the footsteps of previous honourees such as Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Steven Spielberg meant a lot to him having trained and perfected his craft in the Big Apple.
He said, "It's humbling, when I look at the list of people who have gotten this award in the past... But I love this city, I love New York, I love film and it's a big deal."
But the night wasn't without drama - museum co-chairman Herbert S. Schlosser, 88, fainted downstairs at the Manhattan event before the dinner even got underway and had to be taken to hospital by paramedics.
Paramount via Everett Collection
With so many different awards organizations announcing their nominations one after the other, it's difficult to remember how heavily to weigh each one's picks when filling out your Oscar pool sheet. Generally speaking, the BAFTAs are a fairly safe guide when it comes to the Best Picture category. Since 2008, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has accurately predicted the Academy's top winners, with (even more impressively) only two discrepancies in Best Picture nominations throughout those five years (both in 2012, interestingly enough). Looking at this latest batch of BAFTA's chief nominees — which includes...
American Hustle,Captain Phillips,Gravity,Philomena,and 12 Years a Slave
— we're not especially surprised by any of the films included in as much as we are a bit displaced over the absence of one of this past year's biggest titles: The Wolf of Wall Street. By now, everyone with his ear close to the conversation is predicting that Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave is a lock for the Best Picture Oscar, but the consideration rarely comes without honorable mention of Martin Scorsese's Wolf. Still, the satirical picture is far from awards fodder. Called far too "extreme" for the Academy's liking, the 3-hour tour de force of mortifying hedonism would be a far cry from an Oscar even without the competition of 12 Years. Instead, as suggested by BAFTA's list of Best Picture nods, organizations are leaning towards the safer, sweeter, more palatable, less controversial, and effectively less good spiritual counterpart to Wolf of Wall Street: American Hustle.
Hustle is a fine movie all its own — it's fun, dynamic, well-acted, and does indeed feel "lived in." But it falls shy of the artistic reach represented by fellow con man epic Wolf, to which comparisons are inevitable (you can hear a terrific discussion on the matter on the latest episode of Fighting in the War Room). While we'd be hard pressed to deny David O. Russell's funny, campy, emotionally charged picture its due recognition of quality, the choice to nominate it for Best Picture over Wolf of Wall Street seems like a statement of fear: "We don't want to nominate that large, messy, outrageous picture that's got everybody all in a huff," mutters a nervous BAFTA. "But what about the one with the hair? That's sorta like Wolf of Wall Street, but cleaner. Jolly good!"
The choice is a scary one, if only that it suggests the possibility that BAFTA has veered away from Wolf of Wall Street due to the volatility associated with the movie rather than due to the quality therein. By this token, would a few more Armond Whites have robbed 12 Years a Slave of its nomination? How about a few more Neil deGrasse Tysons stealing the nod from Gravity?
Hopefully, the Academy will not emulate this aversion to Scorsese's movie — one that more than deserves mention, and would even take home a few trophies in a just system. Peruse the rest of BAFTA's nominations below (which also, obscenely, omit Her in the Original Screenplay category) and share your thoughts on the matter.
BEST FILM12 YEARS A SLAVE Anthony Katagas, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueenAMERICAN HUSTLE Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, Jonathan GordonCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De LucaGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, David HeymanPHILOMENA Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward
DIRECTOR12 YEARS A SLAVE Steve McQueenAMERICAN HUSTLE David O. RussellCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Paul GreengrassGRAVITY Alfonso CuarónTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Martin Scorsese
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAYAMERICAN HUSTLE Eric Warren Singer, David O. RussellBLUE JASMINE Woody AllenGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás CuarónINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Joel Coen, Ethan CoenNEBRASKA Bob Nelson
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY12 YEARS A SLAVE John RidleyBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Richard LaGraveneseCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Billy RayPHILOMENA Steve Coogan, Jeff PopeTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Terence Winter
LEADING ACTORBRUCE DERN NebraskaCHIWETEL EJIOFOR 12 Years a SlaveCHRISTIAN BALE American HustleLEONARDO DICAPRIO The Wolf of Wall StreetTOM HANKS Captain Phillips
LEADING ACTRESSAMY ADAMS American HustleCATE BLANCHETT Blue JasmineEMMA THOMPSON Saving Mr. BanksJUDI DENCH PhilomenaSANDRA BULLOCK Gravity
SUPPORTING ACTORBARKHAD ABDI Captain PhillipsBRADLEY COOPER American HustleDANIEL BRÜHL RushMATT DAMON Behind the CandelabraMICHAEL FASSBENDER 12 Years a Slave
SUPPORTING ACTRESSJENNIFER LAWRENCE American HustleJULIA ROBERTS August: Osage CountyLUPITA NYONG’O 12 Years a SlaveOPRAH WINFREY The ButlerSALLY HAWKINS Blue Jasmine
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILMGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman, Jonás CuarónMANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM Justin Chadwick, Anant Singh, David M. Thompson, William NicholsonPHILOMENA Stephen Frears, Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward, Jeff PopeRUSH Ron Howard, Andrew Eaton, Peter MorganSAVING MR. BANKS John Lee Hancock, Alison Owen, Ian Collie, Philip Steuer, Kelly Marcel, Sue SmithTHE SELFISH GIANT: Clio Barnard, Tracy O’Riordan
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCERCOLIN CARBERRY (Writer), GLENN PATTERSON (Writer) Good VibrationsKELLY MARCEL (Writer) Saving Mr. BanksKIERAN EVANS (Director/Writer) Kelly + VictorPAUL WRIGHT (Director/Writer), POLLY STOKES (Producer) For Those in PerilSCOTT GRAHAM (Director/Writer) Shell
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGETHE ACT OF KILLING Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge SørensenBLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR Abdellatif Kechiche, Brahim Chioua, Vincent MaravalTHE GREAT BEAUTY Paolo Sorrentino, Nicola Giuliano, Francesca CimaMETRO MANILA Sean Ellis, Mathilde CharpentierWADJDA Haifaa Al-Mansour, Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul
DOCUMENTARYTHE ACT OF KILLING Joshua OppenheimerTHE ARMSTRONG LIE Alex GibneyBLACKFISH Gabriela CowperthwaiteTIM’S VERMEER Teller, Penn Jillette, Farley ZieglerWE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS Alex GibneyANIMATED FILMDESPICABLE ME 2 Chris Renaud, Pierre CoffinFROZEN Chris Buck, Jennifer LeeMONSTERS UNIVERSITY Dan Scanlon
ORIGINAL MUSIC12 YEARS A SLAVE Hans ZimmerTHE BOOK THIEF John WilliamsCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Henry JackmanGRAVITY Steven PriceSAVING MR. BANKS Thomas Newman
CINEMATOGRAPHY12 YEARS A SLAVE Sean BobbittCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Barry AckroydGRAVITY Emmanuel LubezkiINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Bruno DelbonnelNEBRASKA Phedon Papamichael
EDITING12 YEARS A SLAVE Joe WalkerCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Christopher RouseGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, Mark SangerRUSH Dan Hanley, Mike HillTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Thelma Schoonmaker
PRODUCTION DESIGN12 YEARS A SLAVE Adam Stockhausen, Alice BakerAMERICAN HUSTLE Judy Becker, Heather LoefflerBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Howard CummingsGRAVITY Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne WoodlardTHE GREAT GATSBY Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn
COSTUME DESIGNAMERICAN HUSTLE Michael WilkinsonBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Ellen MirojnickTHE GREAT GATSBY Catherine MartinTHE INVISIBLE WOMAN Michael O’ConnorSAVING MR. BANKS Daniel Orlandi
MAKE UP & HAIRAMERICAN HUSTLE Evelyne Noraz, Lori McCoy-BellBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Kate Biscoe, Marie LarkinTHE BUTLER Debra Denson, Beverly Jo Pryor, Candace NealTHE GREAT GATSBY Maurizio Silvi, Kerry WarnTHE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater
SOUNDALL IS LOST Richard Hymns, Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor, Micah Bloomberg, Gillian ArthurCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro, Oliver TarneyGRAVITY Glenn Freemantle, Skip Lievsay, Christopher Benstead, Niv Adiri, Chris MunroINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Peter F. Kurland, Skip Lievsay, Greg OrloffRUSH Danny Hambrook, Martin Steyer, Stefan Korte, Markus Stemler, Frank Kruse
SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTSGRAVITY Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould, Nikki PennyTHE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric ReynoldsIRON MAN 3 Bryan Grill, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Dan SudickPACIFIC RIM Hal Hickel, John Knoll, Lindy De Quattro, Nigel SumnerSTAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton, Patrick Tubach, Roger Guyett
BRITISH SHORT ANIMATIONEVERYTHING I CAN SEE FROM HERE Bjorn-Erik Aschim, Friederike Nicolaus, Sam TaylorI AM TOM MOODY Ainslie HendersonSLEEPING WITH THE FISHES James Walker, Sarah Woolner, Yousif Al-Khalifa
BRITISH SHORT FILMISLAND QUEEN Ben Mallaby, Nat LuurtsemaKEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES Megan Rubens, Michael Pearce, Selina LimORBIT EVER AFTER Chee-Lan Chan, Jamie Stone, Len RowlesROOM 8 James W. Griffiths, Sophie VennerSEA VIEW Anna Duffield, Jane Linfoot
Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna and Barry Gibb showed off their comedic chops this weekend (21Dec13) by joining Justin Timberlake and funnyman Jimmy Fallon for a Christmas edition of U.S. sketch show Saturday Night Live. Timberlake and Fallon kicked off Saturday's live gig by performing a medley of songs dressed as a tube of wrapping paper and a gift bag respectively, as they parodied tracks such as Ludacris' Roll Out (My Business), Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know and It's Tricky by Run-D.M.C.
Fallon then delivered the opening monologue by showing off impressions of David Bowie, Bob Dylan and McCartney as he acted out his dream collaboration, blaming heavy New York traffic for preventing the rockers from appearing in person.
However, as he began to mimic the former Beatle, McCartney himself stepped out onstage, much to the crowd's delight, and quipped, "I was (stuck in traffic) but then I took a Citi Bike (public bike-sharing system). Am I too late to sing a song?"
The unlikely duo then launched into a rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas as fake snow fell all around them.
McCartney's unexpected appearance was just the first of many surprises - Madonna joined in a discussion about politics during spoof segment The Barry Gibb Talk Show, with Fallon sporting '70s attire, a fake wig and fake facial hair to portray the only surviving Bee Gees star.
The Emotions hitmaker appeared to be in on the joke as he joined Timberlake and Fallon, who were both rocking vintage hair styles and suits, to close out the skit.
Even outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made time for a cameo during SNL's Weekend Update to discuss his plans after stepping down from the post early next year (14).
Saturday Night Live will return to U.S. TV screens for a new episode on 18 January (14) when rapper/actor Drake will serve as guest host.
An actress who has appeared in The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries has pleaded guilty to sending ricin-laced letters to U.S. President Barack Obama and outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Shannon Rogers Richardson was arrested in June (13) amid allegations she sent three 'poisoned' notes to Obama, Bloomberg and his colleague Mark Glaze, threatening harm if they continued to push for tougher gun control laws.
The actress, who also goes by Shannon Guess Richardson, originally tried to pin the blame on her estranged husband, Nathaniel Richardson, who filed for divorce in June (13), but she has now taken responsibility for the crimes.
Richardson entered the guilty plea on Tuesday (10Dec13) in Texarkana, Texas.
Former Lcd Soundsystem star James Murphy is hoping to revolutionise the sound of New York City's subways by creating individual soundtracks for each station for the benefit of weary commuters. The rocker is hoping to share some of his musical talents with the millions of residents who use one of the world's busiest transit systems each week.
In an interview with U.S. radio programme Sound Opinion, Murphy reveals he is keen to create distinct soundtracks for more than 400 underground stations in the New York City area, so commuters and tourists alike will be able to associate each place with a specific sound.
He explains, "I've been fighting for 14 years to get all the subway turnstiles to make music. I want to make every station in New York have a different set of dominant keys, so that people who grow up will later on in life hear a piece of music and say, 'Oh, that’s like Union Square.' It's such a brutal city. I think one little gift of kindness would be nice."
Murphy previously approached outgoing New York mayor Michael Bloomberg with the idea, but got nowhere. He is now hoping newly-inaugurated city leader Bill de Blasio will help him realise his symphonic subway dream.