Stars including Lily Allen, Alan Cumming and Sophia Bush have thrown their support behind British actor Stephen Fry as he campaigns to have the upcoming Winter Olympics moved from Russia over gay rights issues. Fry has written an open letter to Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urging them to move the 2014 games in Sochi or risk a boycott.
The actor is adamant the country's treatment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community should not go unnoticed, and a number of other stars have thrown their support behind the campaign.
British singer Allen has shared a link to a petition against the Russian Olympics with fans on her Twitter.com page, writing, "Do you want an anti-gay Olympics? Tell the IOC to stop Russia's LGBT crackdown," while singer/songwriter Sia Furler followed suit, adding, "Please please please take 20 seconds to sign this petition condemning Russia's anti-gay laws. Queers are awesome."
Scottish actor Cumming shared a link to Fry's letter and urged fans to pass it on, writing, "Read this by Stephen Fry and RT (re-tweet) it to everyone you can. People need to know what is happening in Russia."
Actresses Bush and Mia Farrow have also spoken out in a series of posts on Twitter, while Star Trek legend George Takei insisted Olympic bosses should consider moving the Games to Vancouver in Canada.
In a post on his blog, he writes, "There have been urgent calls for boycotts of the Olympics and of Russian exports like vodka. These are understandable... But a boycott of the games would punish athletes who have trained for years to participate... There is a petition gathering strength demanding the Olympics be relocated to Vancouver, which played host in 2010. All of the facilities are still in good condition, so this would likely be the easiest of possible alternatives... Please take a few moments to sign the petition... With enough support, maybe the IOC and the sponsors will realise that this is a disaster in the making, and the best course is to move immediately and decisively to relocate the Winter Games of 2014."
It is currently illegal to promote homosexuality in Russia, and Foreign Ministry's rights envoy Konstantin Dolgov says of the growing international furore, "The criticism of our law banning homosexual propaganda... is absolutely invalid and groundless. It is an attempt to accuse us of violating international obligations that do not exist."
Director Lee Daniels set his sights sky-high when casting new movie The Butler as he wanted U.S. President Barack Obama in a starring role. The historical drama tells the story of real life White House butler Eugene Allen, re-named Cecil Gaines in the movie, who served under eight consecutive U.S. Presidents including Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.
The film boasts an impressive cast list including Forest Whitaker as Gaines, Alan Rickman as Reagan and John Cusack as Nixon, and Daniels reveals he wanted to cast Obama as himself.
He tells website Thegrio.com, "(I wanted) Obama.... (But) I was too afraid to ask him. (Even if I had) I think that he was in the middle of something called the election. It would have been weird if I had somebody playing Obama. I couldn't have anybody playing Obama but Obama."
The role of Obama eventually went to Orlando Eric Street.
Actress Amber Tamblyn has signed on to play Charlie Sheen's lesbian daughter in the new season of hit TV comedy Two And A Half Men. The former House star will replace Angus T. Jones as a regular on the show.
Jon Cryer's Alan Harper will discover her character, Jenny, is his long-lost niece - the illegitimate daughter of his late brother, who moved to Los Angeles to become an actress.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Tamblyn's character will appear in at least five upcoming episodes of the TV show, with an option to become an official series regular.
British model/actress Gabriella Wilde is engaged to marry her rocker boyfriend, according to a U.K. report. The 24-year-old blonde, who will next be seen onscreen in upcoming horror remake Carrie, has accepted a proposal from her longterm partner Alan Pownall, according to Britain's Daily Mail.
Wilde has been dating Pownall, lead singer of rising rock group Pale, for four years.
Jay-Z debuted his arty Picasso Baby promo on TV in America on Friday night (02Aug13). The 10-minute clip featured the rapper performing at the Pace Gallery in New York City surrounded by famous friends including moviemakers Jim Jarmusch and Judd Apatow, actors Alan Cumming, Adam Driver, Taraji P. Henson and Rosie Perez, and members of the Big Apple's art scene, including performance artist Marina Abramovic, who was personally thanked in the end credits of the Mark Romanek-directed video.
Jay-Z will debut his new video for the song Picasso Baby in a TV special on U.S. cable channel HBO on Friday (02Aug13). Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film was shot at a New York art gallery, where the superstar rapped the track over and over again for six hours in front of members of the public and celebrity fans including director Judd Apatow and actor Alan Cumming. The special will air immediately after the hip-hop mogul appears on the network's political talk show Real Time with Bill Maher.
Steve Coogan headed to the English city of Norwich on Wednesday (24Jul13) to premiere his new movie Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa in the region where the comedy is set. The funnyman has brought his beloved creation out of retirement for the new film and he agreed to host the world premiere in Norwich following a campaign from locals, who wanted the screening to be held in the city's rundown Anglia Square instead of London's glittering Leicester Square.
Coogan was greeted by crowds of cheering fans on the red carpet outside the budget Hollywood cinema before boarding a helicopter back to London for the film's swanky premiere in the U.K. capital later in the evening.
Speaking in character as Partridge before his trip to Norwich, Coogan joked that he asked the midwives of St Mary's Hospital in London to "put gentle but respectful pressure" on Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge to give birth before the premiere to avoid overshadowing his big day.
The royal baby was born on Monday (22Jul13). Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa hits cinemas in the U.K. on 7 August (13).
Britain's leading comedy stars including Rowan Atkinson, Simon Pegg and Stephen Fry have paid tribute to British funnyman Mel Smith following his death on Friday (19Jul13). The 60-year-old comedian passed away at his home in north-west London after suffering a heart attack, according to his agent Michael Foster.
The news has sent a shockwave through the U.K. comedy scene and a number of Smith's friends and co-stars have expressed their grief in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Smith's longtime collaborator Griff Rhys Jones, who worked with him on Alas Smith and Jones and Not the Nine O'Clock News, says in a statement, "I still can't believe this has happened. To everybody who ever met him, Mel was a force for life. He had a relish for it that seemed utterly inexhaustible. He inspired love and utter loyalty and he gave it in return. I will look back on the days working with him as some of the funniest times that I have ever spent."
Mr. Bean star Atkinson also worked with the late funnyman on Not the Nine O'Clock News, and Smith directed his 1997 movie Bean.
He says in a statement, "Mel Smith - a lovely man of whom I saw too little in his later years. I loved the sketches that we did together on Not the Nine O'Clock News. He was the cast member with whom I felt the most natural performing empathy. He had a wonderfully generous and sympathetic presence both on and off screen... I never thought he was given enough credit for this success. I feel truly sad at his parting."
Stephen Fry adds, "Terrible news about my old friend Mel Smith, dead from a heart attack. Mel lived a full life but was kind, funny and wonderful to know."
Simon Pegg hails Smith as his inspiration, adding in a post on Twitter.com, "Sad to hear about Mel Smith. His influence on contemporary British comedy both as a performer and producer is impossible to calculate."
Pegg's longtime collaborator Nick Frost also mourned Smith's loss in a post on Twitter.com, while tributes have come in from Hollywood actor Jamie Bell, who called his death a great loss to British comedy, along with Richard E. Grant, James Corden, Matt Lucas, director Duncan Jones, and Peter Serafinowicz.
Smith was one of the leading lights of British comedy throughout the 1980s and he also teamed with Griff Rhys Jones to found TalkBack Productions, a TV company which produced popular comedies including Smack the Pony, Da Ali G Show and I'm Alan Partridge.
He also worked as a writer and director, helming movies including Bean and 2001's High Heels and Low Lifes.
His movie appearances as an actor included roles in The Princess Bride and National Lampoon's European Vacation.
Singer Robin Thicke has turned his new song Ain't No Hat 4 That into a family affair by co-writing the tune with his actor dad Alan Thicke and inviting his young son to perform over the intro. The upbeat track from his forthcoming album Blurred Lines features Julian, his three year old with wife Paula Patton, repeating the song's title, as well as lyrics from former Growing Pains star Alan, who previously worked as a TV theme song composer, penning themes for U.S. sitcoms The Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes.
The collaboration debuted on music website Rap-Up.com on Wednesday (17Jul13).
Veteran British actress Brenda Blethyn has revealed the real reason she wed after an engagement lasting 35 years - it makes the paperwork less complicated when she or her husband dies. The Oscar-nominated star, 67, spent decades in a relationship with art director Michael Mayhew before they finally decided to tie the knot at a lowkey ceremony in London in 2010.
She later insisted the decision to wed after so long was sparked because "it just seemed the time was right", but now she has admitted it is too "awkward" to sort out an unmarried couple's financial affairs when one of them passes away.
The Secrets & Lies star tells the August issue of Reader's Digest, "You get to a certain age and some of your friends start popping off and you think, 'Well wouldn't it be awkward, legally, if I went or you went and we'd never married?' So, really, we didn't marry for romantic reasons and yet it did turn out romantic in the end because I discovered that I love being Michael's 'lawful wedded wife'. I love the sense of belonging."
Blethyn was previously wed to Alan Blethyn in 1964, but their marriage ended in 1973.