Veteran actor Brian Blessed is urging the U.K. government to step up its efforts to fulfil a pledge to ban the use of live animals in travelling circuses. Officials in Britain announced in 2012 that they would introduce legislation outlawing the controversial tradition following an investigation and high-profile campaign by members of Animal Defenders International.
However, the bill has not been actioned as it is still grinding through the parliamentary process, and long-term campaigner Blessed is urging lawmakers to speed up.
The Flash Gordon star says, "I am deeply opposed to the use of wild animals in circuses and have been working with Animal Defenders International to oppose such acts for many years. Despite repeated promises from the Government, we are still waiting for the law to pass and the animals are continuing to suffer. Please end this circus madness."
Other stars supporting the campaign include Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Roger Moore, Ricky Gervais, and Brian May.
DJ/producer Diplo has apologised after coming under fire for using a graphic to promote a new project without permission, and sending rude messages to the artist on Twitter.com. On Wednesday (11Feb15), the dance music star took to instant photo and video messaging app Snapchat to tease fans with a trailer for the remix of Jack U's Take U There featuring Missy Elliott.
He featured an animated image of a house in motion, but Brooklyn-based cartoonist Rebecca Mock claims that Diplo used her piece without her permission.
She took to Twitter.com to call the producer out, and wrote, "@diplo has shared one of my .gifs as background art for his music w/out asking me. my work isn't your clip art dude. don't sample my gif."
However, instead of immediately crediting Mock, the beatmaker rudely responded to her and one of her defenders, and wrote back, "i credited her what u want me to do ? Eat her out and massage her boobs at the same time as well".
He later deleted the tweet and credited Mock on the same video cross-posted on his Instagram.com account.
After engaging in a war of words with Mock's defenders, including Portishead's Geoff Barrow on the microblogging site, Diplo later sent an apology to Mock in a lengthy post on Twitter.
It reads, "@rebeccamock sorry if i hurt your feelings, or trivialize your art... so maybe I was posting music I'm working on.. i used a gif... found out later that u made said gif... and then u said it was hard to reach me on twitter.
"But out of respect for you (you were polite enough in your correspondence) i saved the snapchat to my phone and posted it on instagram but this time i said the gif was made by you and added your name.. something i never seen done on any spontaneous vine/instagram or snapchat posts...
"Do i have time for every piece of art in my studio to be credited on every medium of social media.. actually i don't.. maybe i need an intern."
He continued, "I'm sorry i have trollish tendencies on the internet and i like to fight with people.. if your friends and "supporters" hadn't attacked me we could have probably shared some correspondence maybe even worked on something together ... but when people attack me i tend to s**t on each and every one of them because thats just what i do.. I'm sorry thats my nature...
"i wasn't selling it (the image) or making a profit over it.. i put it up on my instagram because that's all i could do to make people aware that it was yours.. if you would like me to delete it i will. Was i an a**hole? yes.. probably."
Actor Gary Sinise has blasted former U.S. politician Howard Dean for branding cinema-goers who want to attend screenings of American Sniper "very angry". The Forrest Gump star, who has been honoured on a number of occasions for his long term support of military veterans, was incensed by an interview Dean gave last week (ends25Jan15) about Bradley Cooper's new war movie, which tells the tale of U.S. Navy SEAL crack shot Chris Kyle.
The politician told U.S. TV host Bill Maher, "There's a lot of anger in this country, and the people who go see this movie are people who are very angry."
Sinise took issue with Dean's remarks and posted a lengthy message on his Whosay.com account, writing, "To Howard Dean, I saw American Sniper and would not consider myself to be an angry person. You certainly have a right to make stupid blanket statements, suggesting that all people who see this film are angry, but how is that helpful sir?
"Chris Kyle's story deserved to be told. It tells a story of the stress that multiple deployments have on one military family, a family representative of thousands of military families. It helps to communicate the toll that the war on terror has taken on our defenders. Defenders and families who need our support. I will admit that perhaps somewhere among the masses of people who are going to see the film there may be a few that might have some anger or have been angry at some point in their lives, but, with all due respect, what the hell are you talking about?"
American Sniper has proved controversial since its U.S. release earlier this month (Jan15), with a number of celebrities including Seth Rogen and Michael Moore coming under fire for their opinions about the movie.
Emmy Award-winning TV writer Ernest Kinoy has died at the age of 89. The New York native passed away in Townshend, Vermont on Monday (10Nov14) after suffering complications from pneumonia.
Kinoy began his career in the late 1940s and worked on shows including Dr. Kildare, Studio One, Route 66, Goodyear Playhouse, The Untouchables and Naked City.
He was nominated for his writing at the Primetime Emmy Awards on five occasions, picking up nods for Roots: The Next Generations and TV movie Skokie. He won twice, taking home gold in 1964 for his Blacklist episode of The Defenders and again in 1977 for his work on historic mini-series Roots.
Kinoy also served as the president of the Writers Guild of America East from 1969 to 1971.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
In the wake of The Fault in Our Stars' ride to the top of the box office on a wave of tears, there's been a great deal of debate about YA novels and their film adaptations. While the genre has many defenders, both young and old, some critics believe that anyone out of their teen years should abandon YA novels in favor of more mature, intellectually stimulating, and therefore more rewarding books. Still, as anyone who went to see the hit tearjerker can attest, moviegoers of all ages turned out for The Fault in Our Stars, since everyone, no matter how young or how old, loves a good cry. Just like everyone who enjoys a fun, exciting action movie went to see the first two installments of The Hunger Games, which broke box office records. And both adults and children filled out theaters to watch Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort fight a corrupt government in Divergent.
The films seems to be enjoyed by a wide, varied audience, so why should the books that they're based on be restricted to only middle schoolers? They're just as dark, just as complex, and just as entertaining, if not more so, than their big screen counterparts. Yes, these books and films are being targeted at a younger audience, but that doesn't mean that you have to be a certain age to find meaning and depth in these stories. Luckily, the trend of YA franchise adaptations doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon, with four major blockbusters due out before the rest of the year. That's not to mention the countless novels that have either been optioned by studios or are currently in the middle of casting and filming. All of these stories have plenty to keep an all-ages audience entertained, so we broke down the biggest YA releases of the year in order to make a case for why you should take a chance on them, both at the box office and at the book store.
The Fault in Our Stars What It’s About: When cancer-stricken Hazel Grace Lancaster is forced by her mother to attend a support group for other survivors, she meets the charming Augustus Waters, and after bodning over their favorite book and their illness, the two embark on a slightly twisted teenage love story. Who’s In It: Shailene Woodley as Hazel, Ansel Elgort as Gus, Nat Wolff as Isaac, Laura Dern as Hazel’s mom and Willam Dafoe as Peter Van Houten. Why It’s Worth Reading (at Any Age): Though sometimes the pretension of the main characters can rub people the wrong way, it’s a genuinely touching love story that feels realistic, rather than simply being a series of rom com clichés. Hazel and Gus’ relationship really is all about the small moments, and they’ll win you over and warm your heart… before they shatter it into a million pieces. Our Thoughts on the Film: Since The Fault in Our Stars did so well at the box office, we’re hoping it can help usher in a new generation of realistic, down-to-earth teen movies. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good fantasy adventure or dystopian future as much as the next person, but normal teenagers, without powers and without an oppressive government to overthrow can be just as moving and compelling.
The Giver Opens: August 15 What It’s About: Jonas lives in a futuristic utopian society that makes everyone equal through “Sameness,” which also eradicates emotions and color from their lives. However, when he starts his job as the Receiver of Memories, he gets a glimpse at the way the world used to be – messy, emotional, colorful, tragic and hopeful – and starts to question the world that he has always called home. Unfortunately, questioning is the one thing the government doesn’t want people to do. Who’s In It: Brenton Thwaites as Jonas, Jeff Bridges as The Giver, Meryl Streep as Chief Elder, and Taylor Swift as Rosemary. Why It’s Worth Reading (at Any Age): It encourages people to question their surroundings, to search for more, to not be content with accepting the status quo just because that’s the way things are, which is an important message not just for children, but for adults as well. The Giver also argues that even though life can be difficult and heartbreaking, we wouldn’t truly be living without experiencing those things. Plus, the ending still gets people of all ages riled up more than a decade later, which means it must be worth checking out. Our Hopes/Worries for the Movie: We’re pretty wary about this one, from what we’ve seen in the trailers. It looks like they’ve finally caught onto the fact that the lack of color is important to fans, but we’re still worried that the film has had some unnecessary action added to it in order to make it fit in better with the current slew of dystopian teen movies. Still, it has Streep and Bridges in the cast, so it’s got be good, right?
If I Stay Opens: August 22 What It’s About: After a car accident puts her in a coma, Mia has an out-of-body experience where she can hear and see everything that’s going on around her. After learning about the death of her family, she must decide whether to go with them, or stay in a world full of tragedy. Who’s In It: Chloe Grace Moretz as Mia and Jamie Blackley as Adam. Why It’s Worth Reading (at Any Age): Everyone loves a good, cathartic cry, and this is just the book to cause one. But it’s also a story about the choices we make and how they affect our lives, as well as one about persevering through heartache and loss. Our Hopes/Fears for the Movie: The trailer seems to focus more on Mia’s romance with Adam than on her love for music and her relationship with the family, both of which are just as crucial to the story. While their relationship is a major part of what makes If I Stay so great, we don’t want it to dwarf all of the other great aspects of Mia’s story.
20th Century Fox Film
The Maze Runner Opens: September 19What It’s About: Thomas wakes up in a place called The Glade with no memory of anything other than his name. As he tries to recall his past life, he learns about the society of boys that has been established there, and about the Maze that might be their only hope of escape. Nobody has ever survived a night in the Maze, but Thomas thinks that nighttime might be their only opportunity out, as more and more kids start dying. And then, one day, a girl arrives at The Glade, claiming to know Thomas… Who’s In It: Dylan O’Brien as Thomas, Kaya Scodelario as Theresa, Will Poulter as Gally and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt. Why It’s Worth Reading (At Any Age): If you’re looking for a fun, exciting adventure with a slowly unravelling mystery at its center, The Maze Runner is the book for you. It’s a quick read, but an enjoyable one, and all of the characters at The Glade are funny, frustrating and compelling. Our Hopes/Fears For the Movie: The film will succeed or fail on its version of the Maze and the Grievers that inhabit it, as both are such a key part of the story. They’ll need to be genuinely terrifying in order for the story to have any weight, but the Grievers are a tricky creature to adapt. However, we’re looking forward to a different take on the dystopian genre, and The Maze Runner should make for a fun fall popcorn movie.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Opens: November 21 What It’s About: After defeating the Quarter Quell, Katniss Everdeen becomes the eluctant face of the revolution to overthrow the Capitol and free the citizens of Panem. Who’s In It: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore. Why It’s Worth Reading (at Any Age): Though it’s the least popular installment in the Hunger Games trilogy, it still has everything you loved from the first books: action, excitmement, high emotional stakes, a strong heroine, and compelling, flawed characters. Our Hopes/Fears for the Film: Mostly, we’re just concerned with how and where the film will be split in two, as choosing that point of separation is always difficult. We’re also hoping that a third (and fourth) record-breaking opening will finally convince studios to make more female-fronted action films. Clearly, there’s an audience for them.
Insurgent Opens: March 20, 2015 What It’s About: Tris and Four must continue to fight against a powerful alliance that will tear the city apart, and could lead most of the population to their deaths. Who’s In It: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Kate Winslet, and Octavia Spencer. Why It’s Worth Reading (at Any Age): Because you read or watched the first installment in the Divergent series and you’re dying to know what happens next. Our Hopes/ Fears for the Film: Look, Hollywood, it’s a second successful female-led blockbuster franchise. Is that enough to help change your mind?
British movie stars Sir Roger Moore and Imelda Staunton are joining forces to urge Queen Elizabeth II to push for a ban on wild animals in circuses. The U.K. government has previously vowed to introduce a new law to regulate the practice but campaigners allege officials are dragging their feet and delaying the process.
Now former James Bond star Moore and Maleficent actress Staunton have penned a joint letter to the British monarch urging Her Majesty to include a commitment to the ban in her upcoming speech to Parliament next month (Jun14), which would put added pressure on politicians to introduce the proposed law.
In the letter, sent as part of Animal Defenders International's Stop Circus Suffering campaign, the actors state, "The travelling circus environment can never adequately meet the complex needs of wild animals. Circus animals are forced to endure constant travel and cramped, temporary accommodation, and often spend prolonged periods either tethered or in confinement... We cannot allow this cruelty and deprivation to continue.
"We are asking you, Your Majesty, to ensure that the ban is swiftly passed ahead of the general Election in 2015 by including it in your speech at the State Opening of Parliament. By affirming the Government's commitment to a ban we can condemn this archaic form of entertainment to history, just as 27 countries around the world have already done."
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
With X-Men: Days of Future Past currently at the top of the box office and DC steadily teasing more and more about their upcoming superhero showdown, Marvel decided to keep itself in the news by throwing a new name into the ring: Charlie Cox. The Boardwalk Empire star is set to play Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil in the upcoming Netflix miniseries. Daredevil is the first of four heroes who will be receiving the small-screen treatment, with Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist set to follow. Fans of the character have high expectations for the series, as the last time the Scarlet Swashbuckler appeared on-screen, he was played by Ben Affleck in the disastrous 2003 movie.
No matter what Cox does with the character, he will inevitably be compared to Affleck, whose performance has become something of a punchline amongst comic book fans. While there are a lot of things wrong with the Daredevil movie — terrible lighting, awkward editing, a script full of plot holes, a soundtrack full of Evanescence — nothing seems to inspire the kind of ire that Affleck's take on Matt Murdock has. A decade later, both Affleck and the film have their defenders, but whether you believe that Daredevil is an underrated classic or best forgotten completely, Cox has some big shows to fill, and a lot of wrongs to make right. Wrongs like:
Playing a Blind Character AppropriatelyMatt Murdock's blindness is an integral part of the character, and while the Daredevil movie did give it the import that it deserves, all of the torment, pain and difficulty that Matt dealt with as part of his life-changing injury were forgotten the second that Affleck took off his glasses, thanks to Affleck's blank, cross-eyed stare. Maybe it was the contacts, maybe it was the way he awkwardly held eye contact with whomever he was sharing the scene with, but either way, it was simultaneously hilarious and uncomfortable. We've got to believe Cox will do a better job, if only because it's impossible to do worse than Affleck.
Being Too Brooding Like most superheroes, Daredevil has a lot to be upset about: he was blinded as a child, his father was murdered, his girlfriend might be trying to kill him, and there's some weird Catholic guilt stuff he's dealing with. But unlike Batman, Daredevil is able to see the brighter side of things, and balances out his brooding side with some wise-cracks and charm. Affleck played up the dark, serious moments to the detriment of his charisma, resulting in a boring, overly-somber superhero. Cox, however, knows how to play up the charm, winning over both Claire Danes and Robert De Niro in Stardust — and that takes a lot of personality.
Not Brooding Enough Yes, you read that correctly. Affleck's turn as Daredevil somehow managed to be too cocky and too serious in equal measure, instead of finding the right balance of the two. When he wasn't skulking about sadly, Affleck was swanning about with an obnoxious smirk on his face, trading terribly-written quips with the supporting cast. Cox's biggest challenge will be finding a way to get across the character's joking nature as well as giving the right amount of gravitas to his angstier moments, or he, like Affleck, will somehow manage to upset both sides of the fandom.
Lacking Inner TurmoilOne of the biggest things that Matt struggles with is the idea of doing the right thing. He's an earnest, well-meaning guy, who only took up his vigilante hobbies in order to ensure that good people got the justice they deserve. While the script for Daredevil referenced that inner struggle, it was never really evident in Affleck's performance that it was something the character was really wrestling with. Cox has played his fair share of complicated characters, so he should be better equipped to hint at some of the conflicted feelings that Matt has about what he's doing. Or, you know, any feelings at all.
That Awkward Murdering-People Thing Like Superman before him, Daredevil has issues with brutally killing people just because they're bad guys. It has to do with all that Catholic guilt we mentioned earlier. However, in the first few minutes of the film, Affleck's throwing people in the path of a moving train, while Daredevil believes that violence is a last resort. While Cox has proven himself to be menacing and murderous, he's going to need to tone that down a bit in order to really bring Matt Murdock to life. Less strangling, more courtroom jargon.
Pulling Off Ridiculous Costumes With the exception of George Clooney's Batman, no hero has a more universally reviled costume than Affleck's Daredevil. Both too baggy and too tight and made of obnoxiously shiny read leather, it truly is the kind of costume only a blind person would design, and Affleck never looked comfortable in it. If you're forced to wear a ridiculous costume, you might as well commit to it, like Cox did with all of the ruffs and feathered hair he had to sport in Stardust. Embrace the absurdity, and it will embrace you right back.
And if all else fails, both Cox and Daredevil fans can take comfort in the fact that the fight scenes will be better choreographed than this:
Peggy Carter, the plucky heroine of Marvel's short film Agent Carter, is getting her own series. Talk of a possible Agent Carter TV show has been rumbling around ever since the character's live-action debut in Captain America: The First Avenger and her subsequent solo adventure, but things were made official today with ABC picking up the property for a series order. The past couple of days have been huge for superheroes on television - this week alone saw pickups for Gotham, The Flash, and Agent Carter by different networks - so to help you decide which comic book crusader to catch on the small screen next year, we've outlined all of the upcoming superhero television series currently hurtling their way to your television sets.
Agent CarterPremiere Date: There's no official word, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, the series will likely be used as a "bridge" during the second season hiatus of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. That would put the premiere date around Spring/Summer 2015.What It's About: Based on the Agent Carter one shot, the series will focus on Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) as she begins her legendary career as a spy and works to form the intelligence agency, S.H.I.E.L.D.Will it Be Good? The original one shot was an incredibly fun romp, and the upcoming series already has an impressive cast forming (Atwell is confirmed to star, and Dominic Cooper will possibly reprise his role as Howard Stark). Agent Carter will also likely be able to side step the pitfalls of its sister program, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., since it doesn't have to align as slavishly to the continuity of Marvel's cinematic output. Plus, the show will be run by Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas, who have proven themselves capable of delivering fun, episodic television from their work on the wonderful, yet sadly short-lived Reaper. We do have some doubts, given ABC's handling of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but Agent Carter looks to be in good shape.
The FlashPremiere Date: Fall 2014What It's About: A spin-off of the CW's wildly sucessful Arrow, The Flash will focus on Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), a costumed crimefighter who gains super-speed after being caught in a chemical explosion at S.T.A.R. labs.Will It Be Good? The CW has proven themselves to be quite adept at creating compelling superhero TV. After some early missteps, Arrow has blossomed into a fun, rollicking hour of television with the right mix of action and melodrama. Given that it's a spin-off, the series already has an established universe to take plots, the scarlet speedster should be in capable hands.
GothamPremiere Date: Fall 2014What It's About: Gotham will serve as an origin story for the entire Batman universe. The series will center on a young Det. Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) during his first couple of years on the Gotham police force, while also exploring the humble beginnings of several classic Batman characters, including Penguin, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, the Riddler and of course, a young Bruce Wayne.Will It Be Good? Creating a series centered on Batman's city sans Batman is decidedly risky, but there's a lot to like in what we've seen of the series so far. Gotham's first trailer is decidedly moody and the actual depiction of Gotham City - a dark and sprawling metropolis with a ton of secrets hidden in every alleyway - looks just about right, but all the child versions of Batman's iconic rogues gallery does give us pause. It might also suffer from the same problems that have plagued Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's rocky first season, namely being set in a comic book universe without all the cool comic book characters. If the series can weave a compelling and original narrative with the Batman mythos, then we won't miss the caped crusader all that much.
The Netflix Series: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The DefendersPremiere Dates: Sometime in 2015, beginning with Daredevil.What It's About: Netflix is strengthening its original programming output with four original series based on Marvel comics properties. They'll focus on Daredevil, a blind crimefighter with heightened senses; Jessica Jones, a super-powered private investigator; Luke Cage, a super-powered and near-invulnerable hero for hire and Iron Fist, a martial artist endowed with mystical abilities. Finally, all four heroes will come together in The Defenders, an epic mini-series event.Will It Be Good? Much of Netflix's original programming thus far has been pretty great, so it would seem that the streaming service is dedicated to delivering quality material. Also, writer Drew Goddard will serve as showrunner on Daredevil. Goddard has quite an impressive resume, with writing credits on Cloverfield, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias, Angel, and World War Z, not to mention his work directing Cabin in the Woods. Things are looking good for Marvel and Netflix.
Sean Penn jetted into Ireland on Friday (07Mar14) to hand a humanitarian award to a campaigner fighting for women's rights in Pakistan. The Milk actor travelled to Dublin to attend the 2014 Front Line Defenders Award ceremony, where a number of brave philanthropists were in contention for the revered prize.
Feminist campaigner Noorzia Afridi was named the winner for her work with women in rural areas of Pakistan, and Penn, a longtime charity worker and human rights advocate, was on hand to present her with the award.
He said, "I have often been struck by the quiet dignity and courage of ordinary people in desperate circumstances, the people who rise up from the dust from yet another disaster.
"What infuriates us most is when the very people who try to defend the rights of those in ravaged communities themselves become targets."
Afridi set up her group, SAWERA, after her sister Farida was shot dead by Islamic militants on her way to work in 2012.
Pussy Riot stars Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina have hit back at reports suggesting they have quit the Russian protest group, insisting: "We have not left." The pair, who were released from a two-year prison sentence in December (13), had reportedly split from the punk collective to concentrate on their campaign to improve jail conditions in Russia.
An anonymous letter was posted on Pussy Riot's official Livejournal website last week (ends09Feb14) accusing the pair of getting "carried away with the problems in Russian prisons" and abandoning the "aspirations and ideals of our group".
The message added, "The mixing of the rebel feminist punk image with the image of institutionalised defenders of prisoners' rights, is harmful for us as (a) collective, as well as it is harmful for the new role that Nadia and Masha (Alekhina) have taken on."
However, the two women have now hit back, insisting they "never left" Pussy Riot and suggesting the online letter was not written by an official member of the protest group.
Tolokonnikova says, "I don't know who they are, these people who claim to be from Pussy Riot and write on social networks. We never left Pussy Riot."
Alekhina tells The New York Times, "(We are) still in contact with... the people we performed with."
The pair, along with third Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich, were jailed for two years each in 2012 for performing a protest song against President Vladimir Putin at a church in Moscow. Samutsevich was freed in October, 2012 when her sentence was commuted.