Actor Jon Hamm has spoken of his anguish after seeing violent protests break out in his home state of Missouri, and he has urged the local community to "pull together". The Mad Men star hails from St. Louis, close to the town of Ferguson which has been the scene of escalating violence since the controversial police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown on 9 August (14).
Local officials have attempted to crack down on the protests by bringing in National Guard troops and enforcing curfews, but they have prompted criticism for using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.
Hamm admits he has been shocked by the disturbing images which have emerged from Ferguson, and he hopes the volatile situation can be resolved soon.
He tells People.com, "I used to ride my bike to Ferguson. I know people from Ferguson... (It has been) rough to watch... It's a bad situation all around. There's no positive spin to it. When all the facts come out, and hopefully all the light is shone on all sides of it, hopefully justice will be carried out. But it's hard. It's really hard. That's my neighbourhood, and I know there's a lot more good people in those neighborhoods than there are bad people.
"St. Louis has had a rough couple of decades now. It'd be nice to turn it around a little bit. People in St. Louis, in my experience, are great people. If anybody can do it, we can, and I hope everybody pulls together for the sake of the community. 'Cause, you know, that's all you've got at the end of the day."
Singer Michael Mcdonald has paid tribute to an African-American teenager killed by a police officer in his native Missouri by releasing a statement about the tragedy. Michael Brown was shot dead by a local police officer investigating a robbery on 9 August (14). The tragedy has sparked a series of heated protests between locals, police and U.S. Marshals in Ferguson, and the former Doobie Brothers singer is saddened to see what is occurring in his hometown.
A statement from McDonald reads: "As someone who spent his first 18 yrs (years) in the St. Louis area, (14 of them in Ferguson...), I pray for the family of Michael Brown and the entire community that is originally my home town to which I still feel a strong connection.
"I pray this tragic event and the still greater issue that it heralds will be faced and dealt with in an honest and responsible manner by the residents of Ferguson and the people in its leadership positions..."
He continues, "However on a larger landscape, mustn't we ask ourselves why we're hearing more and more about the incidents of young black males being gunned down by law enforcement not just in my home town of Ferguson... but all over this country.
"What I think needs to be honestly examined by the larger national community, is the difference between what constitutes a valid reason for use of deadly force when a young white male is the suspected perpetrator of a crime and what those standards seem to be when the suspect is African American. How many tragic losses of this nature must we endure before we're called to conscience on this issue."
Fellow Missouri native Nelly has also spoken out about the ongoing crisis in Ferguson. The rapper also took part in a peace rally earlier this week (beg18Aug14).
British rocker Billy Bragg staged an impromptu concert in St. Louis, Missouri on Tuesday (19Aug14) amid escalating violence in nearby Ferguson. Tensions have been high in the area following the death of teenager Michael Brown, who was gunned down as he attempted to surrender to police investigating a robbery incident on 9 August (14). The incident has prompted violent clashes with protesters and local law enforcement officers, and a number of celebrities have offered up their thoughts on the issues facing the city.
But folk singer and political activist Bragg and touring partner Joe Purdy decided to actually go there to see them for themselves during their current American tour, and decided to take a detour to stage a spontaneous benefit concert.
Bragg tells Rolling Stone, "A number of people said to me on Twitter, 'If you’re going to go to St. Louis, are you going to go to Ferguson?' But we didn't want to just go there and walk through Ferguson and be tourists. We wanted to do something for the community."
Through local connections, Bragg was put in touch with Steven Fitzpatrick Smith, the owner of local St. Louis pub the Royale, who has been attending the protests. Smith not only offered up his venue for the gig, but also asked fans attending to collect food, funds, and medical and school school supplies for a food pantry at a Ferguson church.
During the gig, Bragg performed some of his own tracks such as I Keep Faith, and also covered tunes pointed towards the unrest happening nearby, singing protest songs like Woody Guthrie's Hangknot, Slipknot and George Perkins' Cryin' in the Streets, while Purdy joined him for Bob Dylan's The Times They Are a-Changin'.
Bragg called on the 200 fans at the gig to take action and change the way the troubled city is perceived, stating, "The true enemy of all of us who want to make the world a better place is not capitalism or conservatism, it's cynicism. You have the opportunity to show the world that St. Louis is not a cynical place."
Bragg and Purdy's activism began early on Tuesday, when they met with railroad workers on strike and picketing teachers in Illinois, and they also performed for inmates at the Iowa State Penitentiary.
Actress Keke Palmer and rapper J. Cole have visited protesters in Ferguson, Missouri to show their support over a shooting controversy.
The city near St. Louis has been torn apart by unrest over the past week (begs09Aug14), as groups of campaigners have taken to the streets to express their outrage over the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, who was shot by a local police officer.
Heavily armed riot police descended on the city centre and used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up the demonstration, and while the news has sparked outrage among many celebrities, who have taken to Twitter to voice their disgust, both Palmer and J. Cole decided to witness what the tense atmosphere is like first hand.
The 21-year-old actress had already been urging for unity and nonviolence during the protests on her various social media sites, but was spotted in Ferguson on Sunday (17Aug14). Citizens snapped photos of Palmer as she visited the protesters, and shared them on the microblogging site, with one user writing, "@KekePalmer thank you for showing love to my community," and another adding, ""Thank you for standing with the people of Ferguson."
Palmer also made an appearance at the Greater Grace Church in St. Louis, where she spoke at the podium. Meanwhile, rapper J. Cole, who recently released a tribute song, Be Free, in honour of Brown, was also in Ferguson on Sunday, first stopping by the scene of the crime where the teenager was shot.
Cole spoke to the activists about the unrest, and also stopped by a nearby gas station, where Brown was suspected of stealing a box of cigars. Fans and protesters shared photos and videos of Cole at the scene on social media.
Rapper J.cole has paid tribute to a black teenager killed by a police officer in Missouri by releasing a new song dedicated to him. Darren Wilson shot unarmed Michael Brown, who was suspected of stealing a box of cigars from a suburban St. Louis store, on 9 August (14), and the incident has sparked a series of tense protests between African-Americans and civil rights leaders and officials in the state.
As Governor Jay Nixon, President Barack Obama and Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson join forces in a bid to end days of violence, hip-hop star Cole has released Be Free to voice his frustrations with the deaths of African-American men in the U.S.
In a post on his website, Dreamvillain.com, he writes, "That coulda (sic) been me, easily. It could have been my best friend. I'm tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men. I don't give a f**k if it's by police or peers. This s**t is not normal. I made a song. This is how we feel."
Cole is not the only celebrity to speak out about the incident in Missouri - John Legend, Kerry Washington and Mark Ruffalo have voiced concerns over the treatment of protesters by police following the shooting.
Legend took to Twitter.com to voice his opinion, writing, "I believe these cops are intentionally trying to inflame the situation. They want an excuse. Recall the local cop telling those 'animals' to 'bring it' on (news channel) CNN... He wants a fight.
"Calling us 'animals' has been the language to justify slavery... Dehumanization and racism go together."
Meanwhile, R&B star Frank Ocean took to Tumblr.com to comment on an image of Governor Nixon standing in front of a black woman as he addressed the slaying of Brown and wrote, "You see that black woman standing up there? I wonder if she was called to stand behind the governor because she’s black. I wonder if i’m supposed to think Missouri’s gov’t is pro-black because of her being stood up there with those other black men being all black and everything. I wonder if she was off the clock while she stood up there... then i wonder if she was getting paid for her time off like the guy who shot Michael 8 times."
Actor Robert Pattinson was left in awe of his sister Lizzy when she recently tried out for The X Factor in the U.K.
The Twilight star's elder sibling showed off her own skills during an audition for the upcoming season of the hit talent show, and even passed the first round in front of judges Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Melanie Brown and Louis Walsh.
Pattinson couldn't be more proud of his sister, gushing to The Huffington Post, "I'm like, so ridiculously proud of her. I would never have the balls to do that, ever, in a million years. I can't believe she's done it. So, it's amazing."
In addition to loaning her voice to a number of dance tracks in the early 2000s, Lizzy also contributed background vocals to the Twilight scores. The 11th season of The X Factor in the U.K. kicks off later this month (Aug14).
The Weinstein Company
Sundance is long gone, Cannes sailed away months ago, and both Tribeca and the Los Angeles Film Festivals have cleared away until next year. But when one major film festival ends, another starts putting its lineup together, and this time, it's Canada's time to shine. The Toronto International Film Festival, which will run from September 4 until the 14, has unveiled the list of titles they'll be premiering this year, and it's packed with under-the-radar indies, highly anticipated returns from accliamed directors, and of course, several likely awards contenders. But with nearly 60 films all making their debut in Toronto this fall, it can be hard to pick out the good from the bad and the exciting from the ones you've probably seen before. In an attempt to simplify the decision-making process for you, we've highlighted some of the most exciting films to hit north of the border this fall.
The Imitation Game Who’s Involved: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kiera Knightley, Matthew Goode and Charles Dance star What It’s About: The British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing, who helped the Allies win WWII by cracking German codes, and was then prosecuted by the government for being homosexual. Thoughts: Finally, a cast good enough to convince you that math is interesting for two hours.
The Last Five Years Who’s Involved: Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan What It’s About: A musical that tells the story of a married couple’s five-year relationship – his perspective runs from the day they met to when it all fell apart, and hers from the end back to the beginning. Thoughts: The perfect example as to why you should pay attention when your theater nerd friend tries plays you cast recordings.
Foxcatcher Who’s Involved: Bennett Miller directs; Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo starWhat It’s About: Based on a true story, it follows two championship wrestler brothers and the tragic consequences that they face after getting involved with an eccentric millionaire coach. Thoughts: We really are going to have to come up with the Tatum equivalent of “McConaissance” sometime soon.
A Little ChaosWho’s Involved: Alan Rickman directs; Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci and Rickman star What It’s About: A landscape gardener finds herself struggling with the politics of Louis XIV’s court and her own demons after she’s hired to work at the Garden of Versailles. Thoughts: You had us at “Rickman.”
The Riot Club Who’s Involved: Lone Scherfig directs; Sam Claflin, Max Irons, Natalie Dormer and Jessica Brown-Findlay star What It’s About: A privileged young man is inducted into the “Riot’s Club,” an exclusive, wild group of young men full of debauchery and bad behavior, during his first year at Oxford. Thoughts: Look! It’s that guy from that thing! And that girl, from that other thing! I like them. They should be in more things.
Before We Go Who’s Involved: Chris Evans directs; Evans and Alice Eve star What It’s About: Two strangers bond over the course of one night in Manhattan, and the conflicts in their lives allow them to explore more about each other and themselves. Thoughts: Captain America is directing movies now!
Warner Bros. Pictures
This Is Where I Leave You Who’s Involved: Shawn Levy directs; Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Connie Britton and Jane Fonda star What It’s About: Four adult siblings return to their childhood home after their father dies. Dysfunction and hijinks ensue. Thoughts: Does Driver say “outer space” in this? Can we re-write the script so that he does?
Men, Women and Children Who’s Involved: Jason Reitman directs; Jennifer Garner, Adam Sandler and Judy Greer star What It’s About: A group of parents and children navigate the way the Internet has changed their relationships and lives. Thoughts: Well, it’s got be better than Labor Day, right?
Miss Julie Who’s Involved: Liv Ullman directs; Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell star What It’s About: Set over the course of one night in the 1880s, an aristocratic woman and her father’s valet struggle for power. Thoughts: Should we also be thinking about the “Farrellissance?”
Nightcrawler Who’s Involved: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, and Bill Paxton star What It’s About: An ambitious journalist becomes involved with the world of LA nighttime journalism, and the line between spectator and perpetrator becomes blurred. Thoughts: Oh, so this isn’t an X-Men solo film? That’s slightly disappointing.
Rosewater Who’s Involved: Jon Stewart directs; Gael Garcia Bernal stars What It’s About: The true story of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who appeared on The Daily Show before being imprisoned for five months by the Iranian government. Thoughts: This is the movie that gave us Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and for that we shall always be grateful.
The Theory of Everything Who’s Involved: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Emily Watson, and David Thewlis star What It’s About: The life and relationship of world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane Wilde from their first meeting at Cambridge through Hawking’s diagnosis through their numerous accomplishments. Thoughts: Oscar Season 2014: Alan Turing vs. Stephen Hawking in The Battle of the British Genius Biopics.
Whiplash Who’s Involved: Damien Chazelle directs; Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons star What It’s About: An ambitious jazz drummer who enrolls at a prestigious music conservatory, but must endure the brutal, intense tutelage of a brilliant, drill sergeant-like teacher in order to achieve greatness. Thoughts: Look, we’ll stop talking about this one once it finally comes out, and not a moment sooner, okay?
The former father-in-law of disgraced American football star O.J. Simpson has died at the age of 90. Louis Brown, Jr. was the father of Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, who the former sports star was cleared of murdering in 1995.
British pop star Melanie Brown has been unveiled as a new judge on British TV talent show The X Factor. The news was confirmed by a representative from Simon Cowell's company Syco in a Twitter.com post on Wednesday (11Jun14), in which it was announced the former Spice Girls star will join Cowell, long-standing judge Louis Walsh, and singer Cheryl Cole for the 2014 series.
Brown - known as Mel B during her pop star heyday - previously appeared as a guest judge on the show in 2012 and has served on The X Factor Australia and America's Got Talent, which are both run by Cowell's company.
The singer says, "I've always thought honesty is the best policy when being a judge and that's what I'm going to bring more of this year. Whether it's spotting an incredible singer, giving someone a reality check or debating with Simon over who's got it wrong. Now I can't wait to get started and find some amazing talent."
Cowell adds, "I am thrilled that Mel B has agreed to be a judge on The X Factor this year. I thought she was fantastic as a guest judge a couple of years ago. She is feisty, opinionated and, I believe, will be a great mentor."
Auditions for the new series are set to begin on Monday (16Jun14).
Plenty of actors have lent their voices to prime time animated series like The Simpsons or movies like The Croods and Toy Story. But it’s hard to imagine Saturday Morning Cartoons with huge stars. A lot of people are shocked to find out that the original voice of Shredder on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star James Avery, or to recall which Star Wars veteran was behind The Joker. Perhaps you weren't aware of the big names behind some of these childhood favorites...
Captain Planet and the Planeteers
A group of teenagers use magic rings to harness the elements and to summon Captain Planet, an environmental superhero. Each episode, they battle villains trying to pollute the environment. Whoopi Goldberg voices Gaia, the spirit of the Earth and their boss. What a lot of children at the time didn’t realize is the show’s villains are all played by major celebrities. Meg Ryan is Dr. Blight, a disfigured doctor who works with a sarcastic British computer. Jeff Goldblum plays Verminous Skumm, a mutated rat creature with a fondness for toxic waste. Sting even appears on the show as the creatively named Zarm. Other villains are played by Hollywood veterans Martin Sheen, James Coburn, Malcolm McDowell, and Ed Asner. Major celebs also stop by for guest appearances including Danny Glover, Louis Gossett Jr., and even Elizabeth Taylor.
This Disney cartoon creates a mythology where stone gargoyles come to life when the sun sets. It also has a bizarre Star Trek connection. Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis play series villains David Xanatos and Demona. There are also performance by other The Next Generation stars Michael Dorn, Brett Spiner, LeVar Burton, and Colm Meany. The captains of Deep Space Nine, Avery Brooks, and Voyager, Kate Mulgrew, appear on the cartoon. Nichelle Nichols even makes an appearance.
Batman: The Animated Series
Batman is probably the most star-studded cartoon in television history. The series features appearances by stars from the 1970s to today. 1970s icons like Adrienne Barbeau, Michael York, and Marilu Henner pop by the series. Bewitched actress Elizabeth McGovern plays her last role ever on the cartoon. Mark Hamill, a.k.a. Luke Skywalker, finds a career resurgence playing The Joker. Night Court’s Richard Moll, The Beastmaster Marc Singer, and Melissa Gilbert all bring 1980s nostalgia playing major characters. Bruce Wayne’s various love interests include Heather Locklear, comedian Julie Brown, and Supergirl Helen Slater. There are also appearances by future celebrities like Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss and Megan Mullally.
Similarly, this Man of Steel cartoon has a ton of television actors lending their voices. Superman is voiced by Wings star Tim Daly and Lois Lane is Desperate Housewives star Dana Delany. Sitcom stars Peri Gilpin, Brad Garett, and Joely Fisher all appear on the show.