The Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder is set to officially open an animal sanctuary in his native Louisiana almost four years after announcing the initiative. The avid animal right activist has been working on the project through his Ian Somerhalder Foundation since 2010, but he has faced several roadblocks, including securing a plot of the land and raising enough funds to run the sanctuary properly.
But Somerhalder and his foundation partners have finally reached their goal and are ready to open the place, which will offer refuge to abused, unwanted or neglected animals and pair them with young victims of bullying.
A statement from Somerhalder to JustJared.com reads: "We have received incredible support from our ISF family towards this project... What we found was, as much as we were tirelessly saving our funds for the last 3 1/2 years to purchase the sanctuary land, it wasn’t going to be enough.
"But that wasn’t going to stop us. Walls are excellent to hit sometimes because they force you to find a way to lace up some rock climbing shoes and work your way over them.
"This is why I have committed to personally guarantee any required loan on the property and to donate the funds required for the mortgage payments to a million dollars so we can facilitate the purchase of the land and the project can move forward. This land, this delicate bayou ecosystem, is imperative to protect and we are dedicated to doing so."
While Somerhalder did not reveal exactly how much he and his backers have raised so far, their initial goal to build the sanctuary was set at $5 million (GBP2.9million).
Brad Pitt is giving fans the chance to join him at his second annual Make It Right gala in New Orleans, Louisiana next month (May14) by making a $10 (£6.25) donation to his housing charity. The Hollywood star has teamed up with popular discount website Groupon.com to help boost donations to the Make It Right cause, which has been providing environmentally-friendly homes to those affected by Hurricane Katrina since 2007.
Pitt will host a benefit in New Orleans on 17 May (14), with Bruno Mars and Kings of Leon serving as headliners, and he is offering up a prize package for one lucky winner and a guest to attend the gala as VIPs and receive a meet and greet with the actor himself. Their travel and accommodation needs will also be taken care of.
Groupon bosses have also agreed to hand over a $100,000 (£62,500) cheque to the Make It Right foundation.
Pitt isn't the first superstar to come up with such a prize - his pal George Clooney raised $1.2 million (£750,000) for his satellite project in Sudan in January (14) after inviting fans to purchase $10 raffle tickets to win a date with the Hollywood hunk.
Spielberg voluntarily handed over Rockwell's Russian Schoolroom in 2007 after it landed on a most wanted list.
A judge in Las Vegas ruled earlier this month (Apr10) that the painting, which Spielberg paid $200,000 (£125,000) for, could be returned to the owner - after investigators declared it was a legitimate purchase.
Rockwell's 1967 painting was stolen from a Missouri gallery in 1973, but ownership had been resolved by the time the piece was auctioned in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1988.
New York art dealer Judy Goffman Cutler bought the item and then sold it to Spielberg in 1989.
Jack Solomon, the owner of the Russian Schoolroom at the time of the 1973 theft, sued Spielberg in 2007 for ownership and Cutler stepped in and replaced the painting with another Rockwell piece to protect the filmmaker from legal problems.
She took over as the defendant, and the new ruling means the painting is now rightfully hers again.
It is not known if the piece will be returned to Spielberg, who "never should have had to give it up," according to Cutler's lawyer Gene Brockland.
For the time being, the painting will be displayed at the National Museum of American Illustration in Newport, Rhode Island, which Cutler co-founded, according to the Los Angeles Times.