Lady Gaga has joined calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia over the country's stance on gay rights. The Poker Face hitmaker is a vocal advocate of equality and has previously blasted officials in the former Soviet Union over a ban on 'promoting' homosexuality.
Now she has joined other stars, including singer Lily Allen and writer/funnyman Stephen Fry, in calling for a global boycott of the showpiece sporting event.
She tells British talk show host Alan Carr, "To be honest, I don't think that we should be going to the Olympics at all, I don't know if my opinion is not highly regarded, in terms of the amazing champions and people that are rehearsing and training for the event.
"I mean I would never take anything away from their hard work, I just think it is absolutely wrong for so many countries to send money and economy in the way of a country that doesn't support gays... But it's not just that they don't support the gay community, they pepper spray and beat them in Russia.
"I went to Russia for the Born This Way Ball (tour), and I was really excited to be there, because I felt it was an important place to bring the message of the album, but it made me very sad to see the pain that some of the gay kids are in in Russia, and for the world to send their finest for the Olympics... it just feels so wrong and sad."
Gaga also reveals that during a previous trip to the country she unsuccessfully tried to get arrested with an onstage protest, adding, "You know what, I don't think I'm even allowed in anymore because I screamed 'I'm gay, arrest me' on stage last time I was there... I never really understand with activists when they get upset when they get arrested, I'm like 'Isn't that the point, that you get arrested?' Because you have to contest the law, and they didn't arrest me when I was there so I couldn't contest the law."
Actor Damian Lewis, singer Cheryl Cole, and pop act Jls took to the trading floor in London on Tuesday (03Nov13) to raise money for charity. The stars showed off their stockbroking skills buying and selling shares at investment firm ICAP, which donated Tuesday's entire revenue to good causes as part of the company's 21st annual global Charity Day.
Other celebrities who helped raise cash included The Saturdays, Peter Andre, TV presenter Holly Willoughby, and model Cara Delevingne's sister, Poppy.
Even royalty got in on the act - Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall also took to the phones to rally up business.
The proceeds will help 16 different charities, including Alzheimer's Research UK, the JLS Foundation, Mind and WaterAid.
Last year (12), stars including Goldie Hawn, Alan Rickman and Sean Bean helped raise $16.5 million (£11 million) on ICAP's Charity Day.
Singer/actress Natalie Imbruglia is set to make her U.K. stage debut in a revival of Things We Do For Love next year (14). The Torn hitmaker will play Nikki Wickstead, a character who finds herself in the middle of a love triangle, in the production of the Alan Ayckbourn play, which will run at the Theatre Royal in Bath, England from 16 to 26 April (14), before embarking on a U.K. tour.
Imbruglia first hit the small screen in Australian soap opera Neighbours in 1992 and made her film debut in the 2003 comedy Johnny English, opposite Rowan Atkinson.
She took up drama classes earlier this year (13) to improve her acting talents.
More than 100 artists including Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley, Kid Rock, Megadeth and Brad Paisley took to the stage in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday night (22Nov13) to honour late country legend George Jones. The date at the city's Bridgestone Arena had originally been booked by Jones to host his final show before retirement, but the gig was transformed into a memorial concert following his death in April (13) at the age of 81.
The cream of country music turned out to honour Jones at the event, billed as Playin' Possum: The Final No Show, which was opened by Big & Rich, who sang 1965 hit Love Bug while riding lawn mowers on stage. The duo's act was a reference to the late singer's infamous drunken ride to a liquor store on a lawn mower after his wife took away his car keys.
The sold-out show featured 112 artists over four hours, including George Strait, Martina McBride, Eric Church, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Atkins, Montgomery Gentry, Thompson Square, Vince Gill and duets by married stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, and Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
Jamey Johnson also paired with heavy metal band Megadeth to play 1998 single Wild Irish Rose, with Dave Mustaine saying of the band's inclusion in the line-up, "Heavy metal is all about rebellion, and George was definitely a rebel."
The show was closed by Alan Jackson, who performed Jones' hit He Stopped Loving Her Today and branded him "the greatest country singer that ever was".
Country veteran Reba McEntire had been due to take part in the event, but had to withdraw due to illness, and she posted an apology to Jones' widow, Nancy, on her Twitter.com page, writing, "Lost my voice tonight at the George Jones tribute. So sorry Nancy. Sure wanted to be a part of country music history."
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Robin Thicke has ruled out the prospect of performing with Miley Cyrus again, insisting their raunchy routine at the MTV Video Music Awards ceremony was a one-off. Cyrus made headlines in August (13) when she hit the stage in latex underwear to perform a saucy 'twerking' routine with Thicke to his hit track Blurred Lines, and footage of the raunchy stage show became an Internet sensation.
Both stars are expected to appear at the upcoming MTV Europe Music Awards in the Netherlands on Sunday (10Nov13), but Thicke has now confirmed there will be no repeat performance with Cyrus.
He made the revelation in an interview with U.K. talk show host Alan Carr, who asked whether fans could hope for another racy duet and Thicke replied, "Oh no, no no no... No no, definitely no, definitely not."
The singer also revealed that although the VMAs performance was planned, he had no idea Cyrus would don such a raunchy outfit, adding, "You know the only difference was she didn't wear that outfit in rehearsals, so it never seemed as bad, it seemed more playful. And to us, there was no sexuality between us, it was all silliness and fun, it was like throwing a party at your house and being silly."
Married country stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert reigned supreme at the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Tennessee on Wednesday night (06Nov13) after picking up Male and Female Vocalist of the Year awards. Shelton also took home Album of the Year for Based on a True Story.
Florida Georgia Line were another winning duo - they claimed Vocal Duo of the Year and Single of the Year for their crossover hit, Cruise.
'King of Country' George Strait was honoured with the biggest prize of the night, Entertainer of the Year, marking his third win in the category, but his first since 1990.
He remembered his late father, who died in June (13), in his acceptance speech, saying, "My dad's been having some pretty good conversations up there."
Country music sweetheart Taylor Swift became only the second artist ever to be presented with the Pinnacle Award, and she was left speechless when Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, George Strait and Keith Urban all took the stage to salute her. Swift opened for each of the acts earlier in her career.
The Love Story singer eventually said, "They told me this was going to happen, but I didn't know it was going to be all this. My parents aren't just crying, they're bawling at this point."
She then honoured the country artists who have helped her throughout her career, stating George Strait, "taught me to play the songs your fans want to hear" and McGraw and Hill, "have a style that is a pinnacle I will never reach."
The evening was also filled with a plethora of performances, including sets from Luke Bryan, who opened the show, Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, Tim McGraw, and co-hosts Carrie Underwood and Paisley.
In addition, some of country's biggest names teamed up for special collaborations - Lambert joined Urban; Swift hit the stage with Alison Krauss and Vince Gill, Hunter Hayes and Jason Mraz teamed up and and the Zac Brown Band performed with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl.
Alan Jackson and George Strait also came together for a tribute to the late George Jones, while Kenny Rogers was feted for his tremendous career by Jennifer Nettles, Darius Rucker and Rascal Flatts.
The full list of winners at the 2013 Country Music Association Awards is:
Entertainer of the Year: George Strait
Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert
Male Vocalist of the Year: Blake Shelton
Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town
Vocal Duo of the Year: Florida Georgia Line
Album of the Year: Based on a True Story by Blake Shelton
Single of the Year: Cruise by Florida Georgia Line
Song of the Year: I Drive Your Truck by Lee Brice
Musical Event of the Year: Highway Don't Care by Tim McGraw feat. Taylor Swift and Keith Urban
Music Video of the Year: Highway Don't Care by Tim McGraw feat. Taylor Swift and Keith Urban
New Artist of the Year: Kacey Musgraves
Musician of the Year: Mac McAnally
Pinnacle Award: Taylor Swift
Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award: Kenny Rogers
Miranda Lambert's duet with Keith Urban at the Country Music Association Awards in Tennessee on Wednesday night (06Nov13) will be a full circle moment for the singer - she once supported the Australian star at the beginning of her career in 2005. The two singers will team up to perform We Were Us at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, and Lambert admits the set will be extra special for her - because it wasn't too long ago Urban helped her break into showbusiness.
She says, "I learned a lot from him (Urban). Watching him and sort of coming in not knowing what to do, coming straight out of the clubs and going, 'OK, that's what a concert is supposed to look like'."
And she's thrilled to become Urban's first ever duet partner, adding, "I actually didn't realise this was his first duet ever so I'm pretty honoured, actually."
Lambert and Urban will make up one of many collaborations at the CMAs - Foo Fighters star Dave Grohl will rock with the Zac Brown Band, George Strait and Alan Jackson will perform a tribute to the late George Jones, and Taylor Swift will perform alongside Vince Gill and Alison Krauss.
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will co-host the ceremony for the sixth time.
Pop star Britney Spears showed off her saucy side on U.K. TV on Friday (18Oct13) as she strutted around a studio wielding a whip in a raunchy comedy skit. The singer appeared on talk show Alan Carr: Chatty Man to promote her new single Work B**ch!, and delighted the audience by agreeing to reprise the whip-brandishing character she plays in the track's sexy music video.
Carr told Spears his lazy staff members needed scolding, and she giggled and played along with the joke as he handed her a whip and led her backstage.
The funnyman told her, "The b**ches who work on Chatty Man, they've been slacking off, they don't give a s**t anymore. They need a kick up the a**e!"
Carr guided Spears around the studio and made her playfully whip his writers, make-up artist and even his own boyfriend and grandmother.
Spears later revealed she had private whip lessons before shooting her latest video, adding, "We had a whip instructor come in and actually show me how to use it and to bring it around the back of my head. If you do it the wrong way, you can actually hurt yourself and cut yourself with it. It's really powerful, they're really strong."
Pop superstar Britney Spears saved her millions by taking a shopping trip to a London budget store. The Toxic hitmaker, who is a big fan of discount stores, made a quick visit to a branch of cut-price shop Poundland to buy matches earlier this week (begs14Oct13).
In an interview with U.K. chat show host Alan Carr, Spears says, "I went (to Poundland) today and got matches, they're actually this little, they're like the tiniest matches you've ever seen in your life."
The star also insists she was able to hide her identity by wearing a disguise, adding, "Usually I have glasses on and no one recognises me, I just go in and I'm really into what I'm doing, I get into it and it's really fun."
On Tuesday (15Oct13), the singer turned her back on luxury transport by taking a ride in a double-decker bus for a press conference.
Spears is in London to promote her upcoming album Britney Jean and her two-year Las Vegas residency, which is due to start in December (13).