Writer Salman Rushdie has joined more than 200 leading authors in condemning Russia's controversial stance on gay rights. The Satanic Verses author accused Russian authorities of imposing a "chokehold" on free speech by banning the 'promotion' of homosexuality.
More than 200 other writers, including Nobel laureates Gunter Grass, Orhan Pamuk, Wole Soyinka, and Elfriede Jelinek, have signed an open letter to President Vladimir Putin ahead of the Winter Olympics, which are due to launch in Sochi, Russia this week (ends09Feb14).
It states, "As writers and artists, we cannot stand quietly by as we watch our fellow writers and journalists pressed into silence or risking prosecution and often drastic punishment for the mere act of communicating their thoughts.
"A healthy democracy must hear the independent voices of all its citizens; the global community needs to hear, and be enriched by, the diversity of Russian opinion. We therefore urge the Russian authorities to repeal these laws that strangle free speech."
Rushdie tells British newspaper The Guardian, "The chokehold that the Russian Federation has placed on freedom of expression is deeply worrying and needs to be addressed in order to bring about a healthy democracy in Russia."
The Doors fans heading to Paris, France to mark what would have been Jim Morrison's 70th birthday on Sunday (08Dec13) will be treated to a reading performance from the tragic singer's actor pal Richard Bohringer. The French star will read from Morrison's poetry on the eve of the big day, during which fans are expected to gather at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
The weekend festivities will also include a performance by another Morrison acquaintance, Phil Trainer, and a gallery showing of Gunter Zint's 1968 Doors European Tour photos and Robbie Freeman's UCLA photos of Morrison.
Tribute band Strange Doors will conclude the birthday celebration with a gig at the Alhambra in Paris on 8 December.
Time flies. It seems like it was just 1983. We were in our first term with Ronald Reagan as President. More often than not, I was standing in line at Tower Records to get a new cassette that had been released so I could play it on my tape player. It was a time when I was really getting into music and MTV was playing often at my home television. Now it's 30 years later and I have a home, a wife, a child and a mortgage. I still listen to a lot of this music though. Here's five of the best from that year:
To use some computer terms, this was Madonna Version 1.0. Now she's on Version 20.0, she's changed her image that often. People forget just what an influential force she was then. If you walked the streets of New York in 1983, you would have thought she had cloned herself about a million times over - nearly EVERY girl was imitating her style, particularly from her "Borderline" video. Forget the Rachel-hair style in the '90s, everyone was wearing the Madonna. Thank goodness people in the '90s didn't wear cone-shaped bras.
I wrote more at length about this one, but I still think it merits a place on here. Earlier Genesis fans may decry the more poppy sound (sorry, guys, that happened more around Duke). The first song, "Mama," was SUCH a dark one, with Phil Collins singing, screaming and maniacally laughing about a prostitute. Everybody remembers "That's All" and both parts of the "Home By The Sea" suite. This is where Genesis became HUGE, because they also embraced MTV. Collins , never afraid to do anything silly in front of the camera, used both his voice and charisma in videos of those first two songs as well as a not-so-p.c. video for "Illegal Alien."
The Police: Synchronicity
When I first played this album and heard "Sychronicity I"'s frantic keyboard opening and then Stewart Copeland's frenzied drumming, I knew I was going to love this album. It's one that I can listen to in its entirety today. Yes, I still like "Mother" and "Miss Grandenko," the singing and songwriting efforts of guitarist Andy Summers and Copeland. While "Every Breath You Take" is the song that everyone remembers, I'd have to say "Synchronicity II", with its video set in an apocalyptic wasteland, is my own favorite. It's a pity that Sting, Copeland and Summers really almost actively hated each other after touring with this album and subsequently split: I remember thinking around 1984 or '85: Whaddya mean there's not going to be another Police album?
Def Leppard: Pyromania
Yes, you just heard that opening twang of "Photograph" when you read this, didn't you? Another band that rode the wave on MTV's widespread reach with their cool if not somewhat cheesy video (in one song, Joe Elliot is carrying a sword even bigger than he is) Elliot's raspy voice is what sold it for many fans. While not as much of a total masterpiece like their follow-up, Hysteria, Pyromania had memorable songs like "Foolin"' and "Rock of Ages" And remember...Gunter Glieben Glauchen Globen.
Talking Heads: Speaking In Tongues
This was David Byrne in the big white suit, shimmying and swaying to songs like "Burning Down The House" and continuing the band's penchant for making REALLY weird videos. The first time I saw the end of "Burning Down The House," where the projection of Byrne's face rolls down the street, it weirded me out. Then I got past that and realized what a great album it was. Songs like "Making Flippy Floppy" and "Slippery People" kept me hooked. When coupled with the Stop Making Sense concert movie that was made the following year and it's just fantastic. It's a pity that they broke up eight short years later.
It was hard to constrain myself to five here - I could probably choose 50 of them if I had the time or space. There were plenty of bands that I left out, like Metallica and Eurythmics, just to name a couple. It was that good of a year. Your list may be different, so let us know below!
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
The silkscreen print was commissioned by Gunter Sachs in 1974 - five years after he divorced the French beauty - and is expected to be the star lot in an upcoming auction of the German playboy's paintings.
Nearly 300 works will hit the auction block, including photos taken by Sachs and paintings by Roy Lichtenstein, Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte.
Experts predict the collection, which is being sold by Sachs' widow Mirja Larsson, will pull in more than $32 million (£20 million) in total.
Sotheby's director Cheyenne Westphal says, "This remarkable collection... truly captures the essence of Gunter Sachs' life in the 1960s and 1970s and reveals his little-known side as one of the most visionary and influential collectors of the 20th century. (It is) among the most desirable single owner collections ever to come to market."
The sale, to be held in London on 22 and 23 May (12), comes a year after Sachs shot himself dead, leaving behind a suicide note stating he didn't want to live with "hopeless illness A" - widely believed to be Alzheimer's disease.
The 78-year-old German filmmaker and photographer was found dead at his chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland last weekend (07May11). Reports suggest Sachs, who had been battling a mystery illness, shot himself.
Bardot, who wed Sachs in 1966 after a whirlwind three-week romance, admits his passing has come as a big shock.
She tells Germany's Bunte magazine the news "literally destroyed" her, adding, "I cannot understand what he did. Nobody expected it."
But the actress-turned-animal rights activist, who remained close to Sachs following their 1969 divorce, will always look back on their time together with fondness.
She says, "That was a wonderful period of my life. After we split up he never stopped proving how generous and friendly he was.
"I think Gunter had a special tenderness for me because I never asked him for anything. When we were together I paid my way."
Sachs, a playboy during his youth, famously wooed Bardot after commissioning a helicopter to fly over her home in Saint-Tropez and shower it with hundreds of red roses.
The German filmmaker and photographer took his own life on Saturday (07May11) at his chalet in Gstaad, his son Rolf has confirmed. Reports suggest he shot himself.
Sachs, the grandson of automobile mogul Wilhelm von Opel, was a trained mathematician and economist but found fame in the 1960s after turning his attention to making documentaries.
A famed playboy during his youth, Sachs fell in love with French actress Bardot after meeting her in 1966 and famously commissioned a helicopter to fly over her home in Saint-Tropez and shower it with hundreds of red roses.
They wed weeks later in Las Vegas; the marriage ended in divorce in 1969.
Bardot, who has since dedicated her life to fighting for animal rights, remained close to her third husband after their break-up and was informed of Sachs' death this weekend (07-08May11).
A representative for Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals tells the AFP, "We called Gunter Sachs' private secretary who confirmed the suicide to us, but we have no details on the circumstances."
A source adds, "(Bardot) has been informed and is devastated. She had kept close ties with Gunter Sachs, who was a guest when we celebrated 20 years of the foundation."
Bardot was Sachs' second wife. He went on to wed Mirja Larsson within months of his split from the French icon.
Seal thrilled fans at his New York City concert on Thursday by confirming that he and wife Heidi Klum are expecting another child.
Gossip blogs began buzzing with speculation this week that the German supermodel is pregnant for the fourth time.
And the singer was no longer able to contain his delight over the prospect of becoming a father again, announcing the happy news to fans while on-stage at Radio City Music Hall.
He told the audience: "(The) topic of debate outside our hotel is, 'Is Heidi having another baby?'
"Heidi and I are having another baby! I mean, Heidi is doing all the work."
And mom-to-be Klum joined in on the celebration by cheering on her husband from the sixth row, where she sat with her kids Leni, Henry Gunter and Johan Riley.
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