The Seekers singer Judith Durham has taken aim at a leading Australian tax consultancy for using a performing elephant in a TV advertisement. The Georgy Girl hitmaker was horrified to discover bosses of H&R Block had commissioned a commercial featuring a Thai elephant specially painted to blend in with a background wall.
Durham has now written to the company's managing director Brodie Dixon urging him to pull the ad, insisting many of the beasts used for filming are ill-treated.
In the note, sent via People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Australian star writes, "I am dismayed to learn from my friends at PETA Australia that a new H&R Block commercial includes a scene with an elephant. I feel certain that it was a lack of understanding that led to this ill-conceived decision, and I hope that after learning more about how elephants suffer when used as non-consenting 'actors', you'll pull the ad without delay... Whatever reassurances you may have been given, no reputable sanctuary would hire out elephants as trained performers.
"Since the commercial was filmed in Bangkok, you may be shocked to learn that Thailand is the world's largest promoter of elephant camps in which the barbaric Phaajaan ritual is used to break baby elephants' spirits... In these facilities, still-nursing baby elephants are dragged from their mothers, bound with ropes and steel cables and immobilised in wooden cages. They are beaten mercilessly for days while deprived of food, water and sleep...
"I hope you are as appalled by this information as we all should be and act upon it by immediately pulling H&R Block's new advertisement."
John Lennon's killer Mark David Chapman is awaiting a decision over whether he will finally be freed from prison after his eighth parole case this week (beg18Aug14). Chapman was sentenced to 20-years-to-life behind bars for gunning down the Beatles legend outside his New York City home in December, 1980.
He has been eligible for parole since 2000 but has seen seven previous applications turned down due to the gravity of his offence and the ongoing public outrage over the murder.
His parole application went back before the New York state's review board this week (beg18Aug14), but Lennon's widow Yoko Ono has already written a letter to the officials laying out her objections and urging them to keep Chapman locked up.
The killer, 59, will find out his fate in the coming days, according to the New York Daily News. If he is denied parole, he will have to wait another two years for his next review.
Troubled actress Lindsay Lohan jetted back to New York last week (ends17Aug14) in a bid to complete her community service ahead of her stage run in London, according to a U.K. report. The Mean Girls actress was sentenced to 90 days in rehab and 30 days of community service for reckless driving and providing false information to a police officer stemming from a car accident in 2012.
During her reality TV show, which aired earlier this year (14), Lohan was seen undertaking her court-ordered duties at a school in New York and last week (ends17Aug14), she headed back to the Big Apple from her current London base and is now racing to complete the sessions ahead of her stage debut in Speed-The-Plow.
A source tells Britain's The Sun newspaper, "Lindsay had to fly back to New York to complete some of her community service hours. She was advised to get it out of the way before appearing in her West End play Speed-The-Plow... rehearsals start next week in London."
The play is due to open at the Playhouse Theatre on 24 September (14) and run until late November (14).
Tony Bennett is planning to spend the rest of his life working with Lady Gaga, revealing he's already at work on the follow-up to the odd couple's new jazz standards album Cheek to Cheek. The two singers became friends when Gaga first joined the legendary crooner for his Grammy Award-winning Duets II album in 2011 and now the pair is releasing a record full of its collaborations, titled Cheek to Cheek.
And Bennett hopes to be working with the Poker Face hitmaker for many more years to come.
He tells Billboard.com, "We'll be touring together for quite a while. She's kind of exhausted from playing for 45,000 people a night. She said, 'Let's just play for three to six weeks in Las Vegas'.
"She has the idea of just performing at Radio City for possibly two weeks with her. It's amazing how she's planning out how we should perform together, and it won't be those 45,000-seat places because I work in acoustical halls all the time, or outdoor theatres sometimes.
"I'm not interested in playing to 45,000 people a night, so she's finding places where we could work for three or four days, or three or four weeks, in one place at a time. That's how she wants to work with me."
The pair's new album will be out next month (Sep14) and a TV special, titled Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek To Cheek LIVE!, will debut in the U.S. on 24 October (14).
And then Bennett hopes to star work on a new album - a reworking of Cole Porter's 1936 song cycle Red, Hot & Blue.
He adds, "I received the music for that. When I told Lady Gaga, I said, 'If this (Cheek To Cheek) goes well, we could do a follow-up with Cole Porter, Red, Hot & Blue. She said, 'Why wait? Let's do it right away'. So we're gonna do two albums in a row with her. We'll have to try and do that as soon as possible, just as a follow-up for a second album."
X-Men: Days Of Future Past director Bryan Singer made good on a bet with his assistant after agreeing to get a tattoo if the film crossed the $700 million (GBP422 million) mark at the global box office. The latest X-Men movie opened in cinemas in May (14) to overwhelming success, raking in $110 million (GBP69 million) in the U.S. in its debut weekend alone.
When the superhero film passed the $500 million (GBP301.5 million) benchmark, Singer's assistant inked the official round X-Men symbol on his calf, and challenged his boss to do the same if and when the film passed $700 million.
Singer shared a photo of the new tattoo on Instagram.com last month (Jul14), and wrote, "My assistant kept his end of the bet. Tattoo at 500mil. Sucka (sic)! Yet now we are passed 700 it's (screenwriter Simon) Kinberg and my turn."
And on Wednesday (20Aug14), Singer made good on his wager, posting a photo of himself getting inked at Los Angeles' Shamrock Social Club tattoo parlour.
Offering moral support, Sir Patrick Stewart, who plays Professor X in the franchise, was on hand during the session to observe as the tattoo artist got to work on Singer's calf.
The director added the caption, "Getting my X-Tattoo with @sirpatstew witnessing midnight," while Stewart tweeted, "I'm great support staff."
The success of the film is a real tonic for Singer, who pulled out of promoting the movie after he was accused of sexually assaulting a teenager. The case has since been dismissed.
The celebrity backlash against the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has begun with Pamela Anderson urging the stars tipping freezing water over their heads to research the charity they are helping. Some of the world's biggest names, including Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Ben Affleck, Taylor Swift and Britney Spears have doused themselves with icy water and posted the footage on social media as part of the new charity phenomenon, aimed at raising money and awareness for the ALS Association, which is attempting to find a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease.
But Anderson won't be joining them until the organisation stops funding animal testing.
In a message on Facebook.com, she writes, "I can't bring myself to do your Ice bucket challenge. I enjoy a good dare - It's always good to bring awareness - in fun, creative ways. I don't want to take away from that...
"I thought Instead I'd challenge ALS to stop Animal testing...Trying to cure human diseases by relying on outdated and ineffective animal experiments isn't only cruel - it's a grave disservice to people who desperately need cures."
She continues, "Please, help scientists make real progress toward treating and curing human diseases by visiting HumaneSeal.org to find and support charities that never harm animals and which pour their time and resources into advanced, promising, human-relevant cures."
Meanwhile, Pink's husband Carey Hart has also taken aim at the stars tipping water over themselves and then not donating to the cause.
In a message on Instagram.com, he writes, "I went the contribution route. I figure ALS would rather have my money than see me wet..."
On Twitter.com, he adds, "It's extremely creepy and annoying how obsessed people are w/ (with) this ice bucket challenge. The purpose is 2 raise money for an awful disease."
Rapper Ice T has also taken to Twitter.com in recent days in an attempt to shame the stars who appear to be using the Ice Bucket Challenge to promote themselves and not the charity.
And stars like actor Zachary Quinto are refusing to take the challenge because it sends the wrong message about the ongoing drought in California.
He says, "In light of the staggering drought in California and the desperate need for clean drinking water in developing countries I opt for donating directly to project ALS in lieu of an ice bucket challenge."
Singer Ellie Goulding has taken the charity ice bucket challenge to a whole new level by daring British royal Prince Harry to take part.
The Lights hitmaker has a connection to the heir after singing at his brother Prince William's wedding to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, and she hopes to convince him to join celebrities all over the world who have taken the plunge for the ALS Association.
Goulding reveals her manager turned down the challenge following her nomination, so she has called out Prince Harry to take his place. In a post on Twitter.com, she writes, "So my manager isn't going to do the ice challenge (but donate) so I renominate Prince Harry. Who told me with enough peer pressure..."
The challenge is raising money to battle ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and motor neurone disease. Harry has a personal connection to the cause as his aunt, Anne, Princess Royal, is a patron of Britain's Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Stars including Gwyneth Paltrow, Lindsay Lohan, Tom Cruise, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga have all doused themselves in ice water over the last few days to raise money for the charity.
Getty Images/Jason LaVeris
"It's Saturday Night Live!" will forever be the four words we associate with Don Pardo, announcer for the NBC variety show for nearly 40 years, who passed away Monday night at the age of 96 (via CBS News). Since 1975 — with only a single season-long hiatus in the early '80s — Pardo's inimitable timber introduced us to SNL’s stars, featured players, musical guests, and episode hosts, earning a permanent residence in the pop culture realm’s collective auditory cortex. But there’s more to the man than his weekly exclamations from the announcing booth at Studio 8-H. Pardo’s 75-year-long career took him to a multitude of interesting corners that we so often overlook:
Let the Games BeginA staff fixture at NBC, Pardo announced the original iterations of many of its game shows, including The Price Is Right (from 1956 to ’63) and Jeopardy! (from ’64 to ’75), as well as later programs Three on a Match, Winning Streak, and Jackpot! between ’71 and ’75.
Happy Turkey Day!For many years, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade presented its army of inflatable cartoon characters with the gravitas of Pardo’s smooth baritone. Pardo announced the annual event for NBC straight up through 1999.
NBC via Getty Images
And That’s the NewsPardo boasted a longstanding career as a news broadcaster, both on radio and television; he started out as a World War II reporter for NBC Radio. On the date of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Pardo announced the tragedy to NBC’s television audience, becoming one of the first parties to report on the death of the 35th president.
He Also Had a Musical SidePardo proved his tastes in music to be rather esoteric when he teamed with the likes of Frank Zappa and Weird Al Yankovic for performances and recordings. Pardo first collaborated with Zappa in 1976 on a rendition of “I’m the Slime,” and then again joined forces with the innovative rock artist for his live album Zappa in New York in ’78.
Five years later, Pardo would pay homage to his game show era by contributing vocally to Weird Al’s “I Lost on Jeopardy” as well as appearing in the music video.
Of Course, He Had His Woody CredAn honorary New Yorker, Pardo managed to work his way into the filmography of Woody Allen, appearing in the 1987 comedy Radio Days as a host of the Name That Tune parody “Guess That Tune.” His acting career beyond the Allen picture includes Honeymoon in Vegas and the John Ritter comedy Stay Tuned.
And He Could Take a JokePardo was a hard worker until the very end — flying back and forth between his home in Arizona and New York City every week to announce episodes of SNL — but was hardly a man who took himself too seriously. This is evident by his self-parodying appearances on The Simpsons and SNL vet Tina Fey’s 30 Rock.
Naturally, we will always remember Pardo best for his work on Saturday Night Live, but there is clearly a lot more to celebrate about the man, his indomitable career, and his unmistakable voice.
Rockers The Scorpions are proving hard to kill - four years after launching a three-year farewell tour, the German group is planning to release its 20th studio album to mark the band's 50th anniversary. Guitarist Rudolph Schenker reveals many of the tracks on what will be the follow-up to 2012's Comeblack will be blasts from the past.
He says, "I think we have a total of 15 songs from the 70s and 80s that we want to release."
Bandmate Matthias Jabs tells ClassicRock, "We found tracks mainly from the Blackout and Love At First Sting days, which people consider our most creative and best time. They sound good but were never finished. They don't have lyrics or vocals, so we have to do everything new; but it sounds quite good so far."
The bandmates extended plans for their farewell tour because, as frontman Klaus Meine has explained, they had "too much fun" on the road to call it quits.
Rocker Morrissey insists he can prove he was dropped by executives at his label, Capitol-Harvest Records, days after the company's top man assured fans the singer/songwriter was still on the roster. Steve Barnett dismissed Morrissey's claims last week (ends15Aug14), but the former The Smiths frontman has returned to fansite True to You to post another statement about the alleged split.
He writes, "Both Morrissey and Morrissey's lawyer are in possession of email correspondence from Steve Barnett (head of Capitol-Harvest Records), and also from Steve Barnett's personal assistant, both of whom confirm that Capitol-Harvest have ended their relationship with Morrissey. No recording Agreement with Capitol-Harvest was ever signed by Morrissey, and Morrissey retains full ownership of (new album) World Peace is None Of Your Business.
"Contrary to the assured Billboard report, Capitol-Harvest have very clearly stated that they would have no interest in licensing a second album by Morrissey. (Law firm) Russells (London), who represent Morrissey, are presently concluding Morrissey's relationship with Harvest Records. Once again, Morrissey is in search of a new label."
The spat between artist and label began earlier this month (Aug14) when Morrissey took aim at company bosses for refusing to finance a new video.