Rocker Damon Albarn and duo Royal Blood have emerged as the favourites for this year's (14) coveted Mercury Prize in Britain. The former Blur frontman's debut solo project, Everybody Robots, and Royal Blood's self-titled release are the joint favourites to land the best British and Irish album of the year title, according to official bookmakers at William Hill.
However, rival firm Ladbrokes have given FKA Twigs' LP1 and poet Kate Tempest's Everybody Down the edge on its odds list.
The newly-announced shortlist also features Bombay Bicycle Club (So Long, See You Tomorrow), Anna Calvi (One Breath), GoGo Penguin (v2.0), East India Youth (Total Strife Forever), Jungle (Jungle), Polar Bear (In Each and Every One), Young Fathers (Dead) and Nick Mulvey (First Mind).
The 12 acts will compete for a $34,000 (£20,000) prize, which will be announced in London on 29 October (14).
Albarn's nomination is his first since he withdrew his band Gorillaz's self-titled debut from contention in 2001, when he compared the honour to "carrying an albatross around your neck for all eternity".
Singer/songwriter James Blake took home the 2013 Mercury Prize for his album Overgrown.
U2's shock new album will not scoop a single Grammy Award next year (15) because its official release date misses the honours deadline by two weeks.
The Irish rockers thrilled fans on Tuesday (09Sep14) when they announced a new record, Songs of Innocence, would be given away free to anyone who uses Apple's iTunes music downloading service. It means up to half a billion music lovers around the world can get access to the new record, but it will not hit stores until 14 October (14) - ruling out a Grammys nod.
The deadline for entrants to the 2015 Grammy Awards passes on 30 September (14), two weeks before Songs of Innocence is available in shops.
A Grammys spokesman tells Billboard, "The album must be commercially available in order for it to be eligible, and the official release date determines its eligibility in a particular awards year. In this case, the album is commercially available on October 14, 2014, so it will be eligible for consideration for the 58th Grammy Awards (in 2016)."
Michael Keaton, Timothy Spall and Eddie Redmayne have emerged as early favourites for the coveted Best Actor prize at next year's (15) Oscars. As movie critics sharpen their pencils to vote for the year's top film performances, it seems the 2015 Best Actor race will be one of the most fiercely fought.
Spall has been the top man since he won gold at Cannes for his lead role in biopic Mr. Turner, but now the Los Angeles Times has earmarked Keaton for the trophy, thanks to his role in Birdman, and The Hollywood Reporter is confident Redmayne's turn as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything will make him an Oscars season favourite.
The Hollywood Reporter recently honoured Redmayne and his co-stars Felicity Jones and James Marsh with a Breakthrough in Film award at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada and editors called the My Week With Marilyn star's performance "landmark".
Meanwhile, America's top critics have given Keaton the edge in the first serious odds list on awards season go-to website GoldDerby.com.
The former Batman is a 13/5 favourite, ahead of Steve Carell in Foxcatcher and Redmayne, while Spall and fellow Brit Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) also make the early top five.
GoldDerby's critics have given Amy Adams (Big Eyes) the Best Actress edge over fellow former Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon (Wild) and Jessica Chastain (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby), while the Best Picture race is wide open.
The early top picks are Boyhood, Birdman, Angelina Jolie's upcoming biopic Unbroken, Foxcatcher, Gone Girl, Interstellar and Brad Pitt's Fury.
Ice skater/actress Lynn-Holly Johnson is still struggling to recover from a near-fatal stroke she suffered in 2010. The For Your Eyes Only star has spent the past four years working to improve her condition following a stroke likely caused by three blood clots that travelled to her brain through a small hole in her heart.
Johnson's husband, Kelly Givens, tells People magazine, "She was like a (toy) Etch A Sketch that someone shook and suddenly just went blank. She had a look of fear in her eyes."
Johnson had to spend the next 10 days in a hospital and when she returned home she struggled to regain her basic cognitive functions.
She says, "I was crying every day, always on edge."
Now, the actress estimates she is "80 per cent back," but admits she still battles small issues like losing her train of thought at least once a day.
However, the ordeal has inspired her to become an advocate and help others in her position by urging those who have a family history of patent foramen ovales (hole in the heart) to undergo risk tests.
Rapper Pras Michel put a new twist on the charity ice bucket challenge by performing the stunt in North Korea. The former Fugees star jetted to the controversial country last week (ends31Aug14) and he took the chance to douse himself in cold water in the name of a good cause during a visit to the city of Pyongyang, where many Western influences are banned.
Pictures show the musician being drenched with water buckets at the edge of a river, and he tells the Associated Press, "I thought I'd put a little twist to it. When we go to places, my crew, we stick out. You can tell instantly these guys aren't from this neck of the woods. But the people have been good to us."
He went on to nominate his former Fugees co-star Lauryn Hill and British royal Prince Harry for the stunt, which raises money and awareness for the ALS Association.
During his trip to the country, Michel also claimed to be the first American to tweet from North Korea, writing in a post on his Twitter.com page, "First #American to tweet from #NorthKorea very interesting place... (sic)"
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes has conquered the global box office chart thanks to a $47 million (GBP27.6 million) opening in China. The haul helped the film edge out Guardians of the Galaxy and Lucy, while the sequel has now passed the $600 million (GBP375 million) mark internationally.
Here are this week's highlights from VH1, Celebuzz, Flavorwire, and Hollywood.com.
Some words of wisdom from George TakeiSince the Star Trek legend, social media mainstay, and LGBT rights activist is the subject of a new documentary, To Be Takei, Flavorwire felt it appropriate timing to round up a healthy sum of Mr. Sulu's inspiring quotes about tolerance, love, and forward thinking.
The day the shark was jumpedEven the best television series hit a dropoff point somewhere down the line. VH1 gathers together a handful of classic TV dramas and comedies, aiming to pinpoint exactly when each of them began to lose its edge. Hey, if it happened to Tony Soprano, it could happen to anybody.
Olivia Wilde puts a different twist on the Ice Bucket ChallengeNowhere in the Ice Bucket Challenge bylaws does it say that you must douse yourself with freezing cold water... the former House star opted for another liquid, as you can see in this Celebuzz post.
These movies cost how much?Showbiz is an expensive industry, but this list of the most expensive movies ever made is positively baffling.
Actress Dame Helen Mirren was reluctant to accept her prestigious title from Queen Elizabeth II as she felt it was betraying her anti-establishment credentials. The Gosford Park star was awarded a damehood in 2003 for services to the performing arts and admits that although flattered to be chosen, she was "wary" of receiving the honour.
She feared it would go against the tradition of actors avoiding close ties with establishment bodies, but she eventually agreed to accept it in memory of her father and ancestors.
Dame Helen tells British magazine Notebook, "I was kind of ambivalent about it because I've always seen myself as slightly on the outside or the edge of things. And in Britain, a damehood is very much being welcomed by the establishment... so I was a bit wary. To me, actors shouldn't be too establishment. Our job is to be sort of anti-establishment.
"But on the other hand... I just know how incredibly proud my father and Russian ancestors would have been. So, I took it for that reason and I did feel embarrassingly proud about it."
Actor Jason Statham's life flashed before him as he found himself trapped in a military vehicle at the bottom of the Black Sea after losing control of the truck on the set of his new action movie The Expendables 3. The former Olympic diver told the Today show he almost drowned when the brakes failed and he ran over a jetty while test driving the vehicle in Bulgaria, and now he has expanded on the story, revealing he felt sure he would die.
Statham tells late night host Jimmy Fallon, "It wasn't a close shave... This was serious.
"I'm in the truck... and I slam on the brakes and nothing happens... Next thing you know I've hit two cameramen (and) they literally thought I'd killed them and a split second later I'm going nine feet over the edge of this concrete jetty and I'm going down towards the Black Sea. I'm thinking, 'I've gotta get out of this'.
"I'm trying to prise myself from behind the wheel to get out the window. The windows are down. The truck hits the water and the water just slams me back and we're just sinking fast, straight to the bottom.
"I'm 60 feet at the bottom of the Black Sea, stuck in the mud, thinking, 'Hang on a minute... This is how it ends!'"
The tough guy's survival instinct "kicked in" and he lived to tell the tale of his near-death experience.
He explains, "You pull yourself out the window, start grabbing at the wall and try to get the surface... (but) they don't call it the Black Sea for nothing. It was a total nightmare.
"At that point, you really do understand who your friends are - I'm looking around... and I say, 'Where's Sly (Sylvester Stallone)?' and he's still on the side of the dock with his iPhone going, 'Jason, you need a towel?'"
"I had to smoke a bong... and they have these weird herbal cigarettes, so the stuff that they put (in there)... makes me so sick. Just being in the room... That scene, I almost fainted and I had to stop it... It's something about the smell that sends me over the edge." Actress Liv Tyler spent weeks recovering after faking a real high on the set of a recent film.