Selasa, 3 Januari 2012

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

MTV to deliver 12-hour 'Jersey Shore' marathon

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 07:12 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Start warming up your fists now, ''Jersey Shore'' fans, because they're going to be doing a lot of pumping on Thursday.

Prior to the premiere of the fifth season of its runaway well-tanned hit reality series on Jan. 5, MTV will air an all-day ''Jersey Shore'' marathon, starting at 9:30 a.m. Given that ''Jersey Shore'' doesn't make its bow until 10 p.m., that's a whole lot of GTL for viewers to immerse themselves in like so much fake-bake and hair gel.

In addition to episodes from previous seasons, the marathon will include sneak peeks of Season Five - which sees Snooki and the gang returning to Seaside Heights, N.J., after their diplomatic sojourn to Florence, Italy - throughout the day. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., the ''Jersey Shore'' crew will host a series of ''wraps,'' reminiscing about their favorite moments while hanging out at the Beachcomber Bar & Grill. (Fans of reality TV carnage will recall the Beachcomber as the site of Snooki's beatdown by rage-addled schoolteacher Brad Ferro.)

As for what to expect from the Season Five premiere, MTV promises (or is that threatens?), ''a drama storm brews due to their unresolved issues left over from their time overseas. Mike threatens to destroy Snooki's newly rekindled relationship with her boyfriend Jionni and the roommates worry about Vinny as he starts to withdraw.''

And speaking of combative situations, at 12:05 a.m., MTV will air a sneak preview of its documentary series ''Caged,'' which follows the knock-down drag-out lives of amateur mixed-martial arts fighters. ''Caged'' will premiere on Jan. 9 at 10 p.m.

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Cybill Shepherd placed on Lifetime's 'Client List'

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 05:45 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former ''Moonlighting'' star Cybill Shepherd has signed on as a regular for Lifetime's upcoming series ''The Client List,'' TheWrap has confirmed. Shepherd will reprise her role as the mother of the main character, who'll be portrayed by Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Based on the 2010 Lifetime movie of the same name, which also starred Hewitt, ''The Client List'' will follow a Texas housewife named Riley who, after being abandoned by her husband, takes a job at a day spa and discovers that her new workplace offers illicit services along with massages to its clients. Hewitt is also executive-producing the series, which has been greenlit for 10 episodes, via her Fedora Films production company.

Shepherd, who in recent years has had recurring and guest-starring roles on a number of series, including ''The L Word'' and ''Eastwick,'' last had a starring role in the small screen with her sitcom ''Cybill,'' which went off the air in 1998.

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The Chicago Code: City of crime

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 01:21 AM PST

The Chicago Code goes beyond solving cases.

IF there is one thing that Shawn Ryan can do brilliantly, it is to turn a cliche inside out and give it a totally fresh take. He is, after all, the brain behind The Shield, a cop show in which the protagonist is a police officer who walks a very murky line in upholding the law.

Now, Ryan does it again with another cop show, The Chicago Code, reworking that standard formula while stepping away from The Shield's blueprint. Ryan chooses to make his three main characters here as dedicated police offcers – one of them is even a by-the-book sort.

Far from being lost in the crowd, the audiences discover good people working in this profession are the opposite of a dime a dozen. Hence, "the character" that is really put under the microscope is the city Chicago. A town that's historically rich for its tales of corruption – flourishing organised crime, crooked cops earning more on the side than from their salaries, ugly racial unrests and not-so-honest politicians. At the same time, it's also a city that knows how to punch back.

In The Chicago Code, every turn of events that happens in Chicago is controlled by the corrupted and ambitious Alderman Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo channeling creepy with sharp three-piece suits, practised smiles and mock concern).

Gibbons may be the second most powerful man in Chicago after the mayor, but it's public knowledge that he is actually the most powerful man in Chicago, what with his connection with government departments and, erm, the Irish mob. In short, he is not a man to be taken lightly.

Wanting to have a puppet in the police force, Gibbons appoints Superintendent Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals). But he soon comes to regret his decision when this woman of mixed marriage – who grew up watching more than her fair share of what the town can do to common people – decides to make city corruption her priority, which directly means an investigation on Gibbons.

Naturally, Gibbons undermines Colvin, forcing her to look into the matter unofficially with the help of her former partner, detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke) and his partner Caleb Evers (Matt Lauria).

What The Chicago Code proves is that a cop show doesn't solely have to rely on solving cases but it could be an intriguing and intricate game of cat-and-mouse when the villain is someone who hides in plain sight and yet can get away, literally, with murder.

The series pulsates with urgency, from the great opening credit accompanied by a song performed by Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan to the clever dialogue, all set against the backdrop of Chicago.

That same energy reverberates with the actors, especially Clarke. The Aussie actor plays Wysocki like a man possessed when he is on a case – there is no slowing him down.

Credit also goes to Beals for pulling off the superintendent role convincingly although – it must be said – her character is not explored fully other than as a someone with admirable work ethics. Even with so much seriousness and multi-layered storylines embedded within the show, The Chicago Code has plenty of unexpectedly funny moments courtesy of Wysocki – be it because of his complicated personal life or his interaction with his partner while riding in the car (sometimes during high-speed chases).

If there is a flaw in the series, it lies with the subplot involving two supporting characters – partners Vonda Wysocki (Wysocki's niece played by Devin Kelley) and her partner Isaac Joiner (Todd Williams). Actually, there is no obvious purpose or reason for these two characters to even be in the series other than to suck the energy out of a scene.

With only a minor hitch in an otherwise absorbing series, it is very frustrating to discover The Chicago Code did not survive past 13 episodes of its first season. At least the series does give some sort of closure even if it's a pity it ended so soon.

The Chicago Code airs on Fox Crime HD ( at 11pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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The Star Online: Business

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Market takes off with a good start

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 06:39 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI was up 3.99 points or 0.26% to 1,517.53 at 10 a.m. today with gainers leading the losers.

There were 347 counters up, 185 down and 272 remained unchanged.

Among the top three gainers were KLK that added 64 sen to RM23.64, BKawan that added 48 sen to RM17.98 and BAT increased 38 sen to RM49.82.

For the heavyweights, Sime Darby lost 3 sen to RM9.09, Digi was up 9 sen to RM3.90 and Tenaga gained 5 sen to RM6.

HwangDBS said the Wall Street was off to a strong start in the New Year when key U.S. equity indices jumped between 1.5% and 1.7% last night.

"Apparently, investors' confidence was boosted by expectations that the global manufacturing sector would show promising growth this year and the positive external vibes could give a lift to our Malaysian bourse today," it said in a marker preview report today.

Hwang said the benchmark FBM KLCI would probably recover all the losses suffered yesterday to rise towards the immediate resistance level of 1,530 ahead.

It said stocks that might see action today include CI Holdings, after a local daily, quoting sources, reported that the company was looking to acquire a new business soon; Bonia, following its acquisition of a German leather goods maker for RM13mil ; and Tricubes, which has just been awarded a Government contract worth RM6mil.

Regionally, Nikkei 225 was up 105.21 points to 8,560.56, the Hang Seng Index lost 42.52 points to 18,834.89, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 10.55 points to 2,209.96, Taiwan Taiex Index added 25.93 points to 7,079.31, Kospi Index gained 0.63 points to 1,876.04 and the FTSE Straits Times Index added 18.01 points to 2,706.37.

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Reinsurance expenses to rise within predicted 1012 pct range

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 05:24 PM PST

SYDNEY, Jan 4 (Reuters) Insurance Australia Group , the country's top car and home insurer, said its reinsurance expenses for 2012 should rise within an expected 1012 percent range as AsiaPacific insurers emerge from a disaster filled 2011.

IAG, which dominates the Australian market along with QBE Insurance and Suncorp, has seen record claims from floods and storms in Australia and earthquakes in New Zealand forcing it to raise reinsurance cover to up to A$4.7 billion ($4.88 billion) from A$4.1 billion a year ago.

The insurer forecast in a statement total reinsurance expenses of A$700 million to A$720 million for the 2012 financial year. That compared with A$620 million for the previous year.

"In challenging market conditions, we are pleased to have concluded a programme which provides us with increased coverage and the additional security of some multiyear protection," Chief Executive Mike Wilkins said in the statement.

Australian insurers were among the worst hit in 2011, a year which saw global disaster losses of more than $100 billion, and look set to struggle to keep a lid on reinsurance costs.

Insurers have sought to contain a blowout by spreading the risk and arguing to reinsurers that while 2011 was a recordbreaking disaster year, the floods and earthquakes were probably oneoffs.

Under the programme, IAG would be covered for losses up to A$4.2 billion and it retains the first A$250 million of each loss.

It also encompasses an upper layer cover from $4.2 billion to $4.7 billion, providing earthquake loss protection in respect of Australia and New Zealand for a period of three years at agreed prices, IAG said.

IAG shares were up 0.7 percent in morning trade, against a broader market trading up 2 percent.

($1 = 0.9634 Australian dollars)

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Elpida shares surge on report of possible Toshiba merger

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 05:21 PM PST

TOKYO, Jan 4 (Reuters) Shares of Elpida Memory rose more than 7 percent in early trade on Wednesday after the Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes said the troubled chipmaker may merge with Toshiba.

The report is the latest in a series about possible survival plans for Japan's last remaining player in the dynamic randomaccess memory (DRAM) market, as it battles tumbling prices and loss of market share to South Korea's betterfunded giants.

Japan's Asahi newspaper said last month Elpida was considering asking to delay paying back 30 billion yen ($391 million) in public funds after its earnings were hit by the European debt crisis.

A separate report said Elpida would start tieup talks with Taiwan's Nanya Technology Corp with a view to a possible merger.

Toshiba shares fell 1 percent in early trade.

An Elpida spokesman said he was aware of the DigiTimes report, but declined to comment.

No one at Toshiba was immediately available for comment.

($1 = 76.7500 Japanese yen) - Reuters

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The Star Online: Sports

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Cricket: Ponting scores first test century in two years

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 07:11 PM PST

SYDNEY (Reuters): Australia's Ricky Ponting scored his first test century in two years on Wednesday, reaching the milestone just after lunch on the second day of the second test against India.

The 37-year-old, the third most prolific test run scorer of all time, had made 97 going into the break and was forced to wait nervously for three overs after the resumption of play.

In the end, the vital run came off a single which could easily have seen him run out with the gritty Tasmanian ending up sprawled in the dirt of the Sydney Cricket Ground.

After he realised that Zaheer Khan's throw had missed the stumps, he picked himself up, brushed the mud off his shirt and raised both arms to accept a standing ovation from the crowd.

It was his 40th test century and the first since he scored 209 against Pakistan in January 2010 on his home test track at Hobart.

The century ended a tough two years for Ponting, who relinquished the Australia captaincy last March and faced repeated calls for an end to be brought to his test career.

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Cricket: Clarke and Ponting ease Australia past India tally

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 06:18 PM PST

SYDNEY (Reuters): Michael Clarke grabbed a century and Ricky Ponting was closing on one of his own after the pair eased Australia past India's first innings tally of 191 and reached 236 for three at lunch on the second day of the second test on Wednesday.

Skipper Clarke (103) and his predecessor Ponting (97) had come together on 37-3 and resumed in the morning on 116 before extending what could turn out to be a match-winning partnership to 199 at the break.

Needing victory to even up the four-match series after a 122-run defeat in the opener in Melbourne last week, India's bowlers had been hoping for some early wickets but instead laboured in the morning heat at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Clarke clipped the ball off his pads for three runs to bring up his 22nd test fifty on the second ball of the morning and continued to play with composure as he moved towards his third century in his last six tests.

Clearly charged with emotion, the 30-year-old reached his 18th test century, and the first of the series from either side, in the last over of the morning by slapping a Zaheer Khan delivery through the covers.

Ponting, who last scored a test century against Pakistan in Hobart in January 2010, matched his protege almost run for run throughout the session and a square cut for four gave him his 61st half century on the long form of the game.

The 37-year-old was left waiting for the chance to reach his 40th test century, however, as he was unable to get on strike after Clarke had passed the milestone.

It was the first period of long dominance for the bat in a series where bowlers have had the upper hand.

Indian quick Khan, who removed Australia's top three batsmen cheaply on Tuesday, managed just four overs at the start of the day and another three late in session without success.

The tourists have never won a series in Australia.

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Rampant Federer crushes Davydenko, Nadal toils in Doha

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 05:06 PM PST

DOHA (Reuters): Roger Federer staked his claim as one of the favourites for the Australian Open title later this month by romping into the second round of the Qatar Open, while rival Rafa Nadal survived a scare in windswept Doha on Tuesday.

Federer, hoping to win a record 17th grand slam in Melbourne later this month, thumped Russian Nikolay Davydenko 6-2 6-2 in less than hour on a blustery evening.

Top seed Nadal, in contrast, battled back from a break down in the deciding set against Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber to triumph 6-3 6-7 6-3 in two and a half hours. Third seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was also wayward in a 7-6 6-7 6-1 win over Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri. Federer said he was glad to get some night-time match practice.

"It was a combination of me playing really well and Nikolay not finding his range like we're used to seeing in the past," Federer told reporters. "This is obviously an important step to get used to the conditions."

The 30-year-old Swiss has failed to win a grand slam title since lifting the 2010 Australian Open trophy but his appetite for tennis remains undimmed.

"If you don't have that (motivation), you will have many losses due to a lack of interest," said Federer.

"Your mindset has to be right and there's a lot of sacrifice during the year and throughout your career, but you get the returns and you just have to remind yourself how lucky you are."

His longtime rival Nadal, who lost the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals as well as the world number one spot to Novak Djokovic in 2011, said he was pleased with his performance in Doha as he recovers from a shoulder injury and switches to a new racket.

"The only moments I didn't play well were the beginning of the second and after the tiebreak. For the rest, I think I played a very solid match," Nadal said.

"My shoulder is fine. I felt something at the beginning of practice, but later, after three, four minutes, when I got warmed up, I feel the shoulder with perfect condition. The shoulder needs days like today to get the power."

Nadal was in imperious form early on, sealing the first set by ending a furious exchange at the net with a simple volley winner.

The German appeared to be heading for his eighth successive defeat to Nadal but stunned the 10-times grand slam winner by racing into a 3-0 lead in the second set.

At 4-2 up, Kohlschreiber netted a backhand to give Nadal a break back. The relentless power of Nadal's shots left Kohlschreiber scrambling but he clung on to take the set into a tiebreak, which the German won 7-2.

Kohlschreiber broke in the first game of the final set, hammering a forehand winner down the line, but that stirred Nadal from his slumber and the Spaniard broke back immediately before surging into a 4-1 lead that he never looked like relinquishing.

Tsonga traded tiebreaks with the bulky Jaziri in the opening two sets of an error-riddled match. The Frenchman then broke early in the final set and eased home as his Tunisian opponent tired.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Jay Chou in KL next week

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 03:11 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou will be in the country to promote his latest action flick – The Viral Factor – next week.

Chou, who stars as special police agent Jon in the Chinese New Year blockbuster filmed mainly in Malaysia, will be accompanied by acclaimed Hong Kong director Dante Lam.

Fans can catch them at 7.30pm on Jan 15 at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur in Jalan Bukit Bintang before they grace the movie gala premiere at the mall's GSC cineplex.

The film, which initially carried the working title Against War, also stars Nicholas Tse.

The Viral Factor is a compelling story of two estranged brothers – Jon and crime lord Yang, played by Tse – who set aside their personal differences to rescue Yang's kidnapped daughter.

Their mission takes them through Jordan, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.

The film, made on a US$17mil (RM54mil) budget, also stars Andy On, Liu Kai Chi and Bai Bing.

For information on the movie's promotional activities, visit and

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Stories and statuses

Posted: 02 Jan 2012 11:42 PM PST

Your Relationship Status on Facebook makes a great impact.

SINGLE. Married. In a relationship. Engaged. Divorced. It's complicated.

It may just be one simple line on your Facebook profile, but it cannot be denied that a relationship status can be one of the most revealing pieces of information one can display.

Director Khairil M. Bahar's latest film, Relationship Status, is an exploration of the impact of these statuses, and social networking in general, on the lives and relationships of modern-day Malaysians.

"Going through the different relationship statuses available on Facebook, I found myself curious as to who would advertise themselves as 'divorced' or 'widowed'," Khairil said. "What would be one's motivation to share something that only a few years ago you'd keep to yourself unless asked?

"And I found it curious that for those in the early days of a relationship, the question of when you change your status to 'single' to 'in a relationship' has taken importance when, in all honesty, why does it matter?"

Relationship Status offers seven interconnected stories, all centred around one of the various relationship statuses in Facebook. The stories feature people from all ages and walks of life, with some stories humorous, and others touching.

In Single, for example, two people try to get their friend out of a depressive funk by signing him up for Facebook. In Widowed, a grieving woman has to deal with her late husband's still-active Facebook page, and in Engaged, a man finds his engagement to the girl he loves opposed by his sister.

Relationship Status is Khairil's second feature-length film. His debut feature length film Ciplak, which was made on a shoestring budget of RM10,000, won the Anugerah Skrin Award for Best Alternative Film in 2006. His previous work includes Dark City for Astro Ria, Ampang Medikal for Ntv7 and the second season of Ghost for 8TV.

According to Khairil, he was inspired to write Relationship Status after working on the collaborative theatre production Lost And Found, staged at the Actor's Studio Lot 10, Kuala Lumpur, last year.

The idea for the Relationship Status, he said, was originally seven short films written by seven different people. This method, however, just made things "six times longer", and he ended up writing the film in its entirety.

"Some of the stories in Relationship Status are based on true stories," Khairil said. "Some were entirely made up, but after passing the script around, I met people who experienced what the characters in the script had gone through."

The film is written and directed by Khairil, and produced by Bahir Yeusuff. It features an all-star cast of local film and theatre stars, including Gavin Yap, Davina Goh, Tony Eusoff, Daphne Iking, Baki Zainal, Ruzana Ibrahim, Alfred Loh, Shuba Jay, Benji Lim, Amanda Ang, Susan Lankester, Adeline Ong, Will Quah and Pete Teo. Relationship Status is multi-lingual, and features dialogue in Malay, English and Hokkien.

Khairil said that writing the scenes involving Hokkien were a bit of a challenge as he does not speak the dialect.

"I couldn't put too much flourish in the dialect. I'd give parts of the script I wrote to the actors, and they'd read it and go, 'You can't say this in Hokkien. There's no word for this in Hokkien. You really wouldn't say it! No one would ever have this conversation!'"

Khairil said, however, that the scenes in Hokkien were among his favourites in the film.

"I just think Hokkien is a very cool dialect," Khairil said, adding that one didn't see enough of it on the big screen. "It has a very nice ring to it, which I like; especially when people are arguing. It sounds awesome!"

According to Khairil, the appeal of Relationship Status was that modern audiences would find it easy to relate to.

"Anyone who has been alive in the past 20 years will be able to relate to something in this movie." Khairil said. "Social networking has only been around for about 10 years, and I think the reason it has made such an impact is because for humans, we already know a form of social etiquette has been set. With the Internet, however, it's a whole new ball game."

The cast members of Relationship Status agree with Khairil's sentiments.

"The film will make people rethink how they use social networking," Adeline Ong said. "Malaysians are one of the highest users of Facebook in the world. Everyone will be able to reflect on their own lives after watching Relationship Status."

Benji Lim said: "As much as Facebook may be the main 'hook' of the film, the gist of the story still falls back on very universal themes. Such as people falling in love, falling out of love, trying to move on, and so forth."

"It is rare to find such a really good, well-made, local English language film," Davina Goh added. "The movie has a very good cast as well."

Khairil added that he hoped to showcase Relationship Status in international film festivals after its Malaysian premiere.

"Some people tell me I should do it the other way round," Khairil said. "Showcase it overseas first, let it maybe win a few awards, and then bring it back here. But it's very important to me that it comes out here first. This is a Malaysian film, and I want Malaysians to be the first to see it."

Relationship Status will be shown in selected TGV cinemas on Thursday.

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'Iron Lady' enjoys strong bow in limited release

Posted: 02 Jan 2012 09:00 PM PST

LOS ANGELES ( - ''The Iron Lady'' proved her mettle this weekend.

The Weinstein Company's biopic of Britain's former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, opened to a remarkable $280,409 at four theaters - a per-screen average of $70,102.

That's the third-highest specialty opening of the year, after ''Midnight in Paris,'' ''The Tree of Life'' and ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.''

The PG-13 movie, starring Meryl Streep, will expand to more theaters Jan. 13.

''We couldn't be happier with the results,'' Erik Lomis, the Weinstein Company's distribution chief, told TheWrap on Monday. ''Obviously it's the number one screen average by a mile for the weekend.''

Also opening over the weekend were Focus Features' ''Pariah'' and Sony Pictures Classics' ''A Separation,'' an Iranian drama that was written, directed and produced by Asghar Farhad.

''Separation,'' already nominated for a Golden Globe, is a strong contender for the Academy Award for foreign language picture. The PG-13 movie enjoyed a solid opening weekend, taking in $79,481 at three locations - a per-location average of $26,494.

The R-rated ''Pariah,'' written and directed by Dee Rees, grossed $65,093 over the four-day weekend. The movie, which screened at four locations, had a per-location average of $16,273. ''Pariah'' is a coming-of-age tale about Alike, a 17-year-old African-American lesbian who lives with her parents and younger sister in Brooklyn.

Two other noteworthy items among indie films: Steve McQueen's NC-17 ''Shame,'' from Fox Searchlight, is expected to pass $2 million today. The movie grossed $266,000 over the past four days - a per-location average of $4,800.

The movie, starring Michael Fassbender, is playing in 55 theaters in its fifth week of release.

Another Fox Searchlight movie, Alexander Payne's ''The Descendants,'' crossed the $40 million mark over the weekend and returned to the top 10 at the domestic box office. The R-rated movie starring George Clooney is in its seventh week of release and is playing at 758 locations. It grossed $3.4 million over the weekend - a per-location average of $4,485.

''This is a terrific weekend for the film, which is up 30 percent over last week's four-day average,'' Sheila DeLoach, Fox Searchlight's executive VP of distribution, said in a statement. ''It's the only film that opened prior to Thanksgiving and is playing in less than 1,000 theatres in the Top 10. It indicates the movie has crossed over to the general audience.''

Among other holdovers, FilmDistrict's ''In the Land of Blood and Honey,'' a love story set in the Bosnian War, dropped from three to two locations in its second week. The movie, which marks Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, grossed $12,539 - $6,270 per location. It now has grossed $52,202.

Also in its second week is Wim Wenders' well-received ''Pina,'' a 3D documentary about the dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. The movie, showing at three locations in New York, took $93,000 - a per-location average of $31,000.

In its 11 days in release, ''Pina'' has grossed a solid $316,000.

In its third week, Roman Polanski's ''Carnage'' expanded from seven locations to 12, and grossed $124,151 - a per-location average of $10,347. The R-rated Sony Pictures Classics film has taken in a total of $379,605.

In its fourth week of release, Focus Features' ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' expanded by two locations, to 57, and grossed $1,428,726. That works out to $25,065 per location.

The R-rated thriller, set in England during the Cold War, has a total gross of $4,298,998.

In their sixth week in release, the Weinstein Company's ''The Artist'' and ''My Week With Marilyn'' held strong.

''The Artist,'' a PG-13 rated silent, black-and-white film that has heavy Oscar buzz, grossed $1,664,500 at 167 locations. That's a per-location average of $9,967 for the movie, which has taken in a total of $5.4 million.

Lomis said the company plans to expand the number of locations showing ''The Artist'' on Jan. 20.

''It's doing fantastic,'' he said. ''I think 'The Artist' is going to play and play and play and play.''

His company's other release, ''My Week With Marilyn,'' which is is generating Oscar talk for star Michelle Williams, took $1,173,933 at its 630 locations over the weekend. That works out to a per-location average of $1,863.

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The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Malaysian student killed in car crash in New Jersey

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 07:08 AM PST

Published: Tuesday January 3, 2012 MYT 11:04:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday January 3, 2012 MYT 11:08:05 PM

NEW JERSEY (United States): Police say a college student from Malaysia was killed and four others were injured in a car crash in New Jersey.

The Republic said the student, who was killed in Monday's accident on Interstate 78, attended Ohio State University. Authorities have not released his name.

A second student was in critical condition and three others were listed in stable condition. All five are between 19 and 21 years.

The crash happened around 4pm Monday (local time) when a Chevrolet Equinox veered off the road and crashed into trees and a light pole. Police blamed driver fatigue.

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Police probe "offer" to slash traffic fines

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 06:02 AM PST

Published: Tuesday January 3, 2012 MYT 9:27:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday January 3, 2012 MYT 10:02:05 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Ignore phone calls claiming to be Federal police officers offering to slash traffic summons fines.

Bukit Aman said it received about 50 complaints daily from people who said they received calls asking whether they wanted to have their fines reduced.

The lower payments could be paid into the bank account number of the callers.

Bukit Aman assistant director of management (Public Relations) ACP Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf said recipients of the calls should obtain particulars of the callers, such as name, rank and position.

"Such a verification process can prevent fraud purportedly from the Bukit Aman police headquarters," he said.

The calls were made from 03-22662222, 03-22663444 and several other telephone numbers of the Bukit Aman police headquarters.

ACP Ramli said police had checked on the calls made from their telecommunications system and Telekom Malaysia Berhad but found that none of the calls had been made from the stated telephone numbers. BERNAMA

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Police say have video to deny claims of force used at UPSI protest

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 04:28 AM PST

IPOH: Police have a video recording to show that no force was used to disperse the crowd at the student protest at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) in Tanjung Malim on Sunday.

Perak police Chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan said several blogs and portals had questioned the police's action against the students.

"That night we know we are dealing with students, so there was no point in bringing weapons or to use force.

"If there are statements by the students that they were injured by the police, they were false accusations.

"What we know is that the injuries were sustained when they crashed into a clinic, purportedly to get medicine," he said.

In the Dec 31 incident, 17 university students, including a woman, was detained for participating in an unlawful gathering.

Student activist groups were reported in several blogs as saying they have video evidence to back claims of excessive force by police when breaking up the protest.

They urged Bukit Aman to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.

Mohd Shukri said police have almost completed the investigation into the incident.

"The police have recorded statements from several students, as well as policemen involved in dispersing the crowd," he told reporters.

Earlier, Mohd Shukri witnessed the handing over of duties to the new Batu Gajah police Chief ACP Shaharon Anuar Abdul Latif, who takes over from Supt Ahmad Nordin Jaafar, who is retiring. BERNAMA

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

More room for local authors

Posted: 02 Jan 2012 11:40 PM PST

A Malaysian company is turning locally-published books into e-books, increasing avenues for writers to reach an audience.

THANKS to e-books, the publishing world has radically changed. According to a report by British newspaper The Guardian in August 2011, the sales of hardback fiction have fallen by over 10% in 2011 and e-books now account for 13.6% of the fiction market in the United States. According to British-based Juniper Research, e-books are expected to generate US$9.7bil (RM30bil) worldwide in 2016, more than three times the US$3.2bil (RM10bil) it is expected to generate in 2011.

The rise of the e-book has resulted in changes in the way publishers publish, sell and distribute their books. Malaysian publishers, however, have largely been protected from these seismic changes and many have stuck to the traditional way of publishing. This may be due to Malaysians' slow embrace of e-books and the lack of availability of e-book readers such as's Kindle, the Sony Reader or Barnes and Noble's Nook, which are not available here. E-book readers that are made in Asia, such as from China and South Korea, are sold in Malaysia, but these are only sold in very selected stores.

However, the introduction of tablets, such as the trendy and popular iPad, which is widely available around Malaysia, may change things.

"There are 400,000 tablet users in Malaysia. People who have these do not have content to read, they can mostly get games only," says Zafirah Ahmad at a recent interview in Kuala Lumpur.

Aware of this huge untapped market, Zafirah and a group of like-minded people decided to dip their toes into the e-book waters by creating a digital portal where publishers and users can sell and buy books. Called e-Sentral, the portal ( currently offers e-books from local publishers such as Fixi, Pelangi, PTS Publications, KarnaDya and Singapore's Guide Gecko.

Zafirah is a book lover who became frustrated when she could not purchase e-books from e-bookstores such as Apple's iBookstore or Amazon due to geographical copyright restrictions.

"Because of this limitation, I decided: why not we have something that is localised in our market and also with local content?" she says.

The company starting working on the portal in 2009 but only started selling e-books four months ago.

The response to e-Sentral has been encouraging, says Zafirah, with many customers returning.

For now, the portal has about 400 e-books. Although there are some English e-books, most are in Bahasa Malaysia.

"Local books sell more than English ones – and that includes local and foreign English books," says e-Sentral consultant Faiz Al-Shahab.

The e-books are currently available for iPads and iPhones, and are priced 50% to 60% lower than their "tree book" versions as there are no printing or distribution costs, says Faiz.

At the moment the e-books on e-Sentral are available only to Malaysians and Singaporeans, though they plan to launch in Indonesia soon.

E-Sentral has also created its own Digital Rights Management (DRM) to ensure that the copyright of the books is protected.

Initially, the company wanted to buy a DRM system from the West, but found it too expensive. Rather than pay for it, they decided to create one – and that turned out to be a good decision because, "Now there's interest from the Middle East to purchase our system," says Faiz.

Change is challenging

Currently, overseas English publishers such as Random House would not want to contribute to portals such as e-Sentral, says Faiz.

"They sell the rights for specific territories so they do not want portals like ours to get their content and some people can cheat and buy the product in Malaysian currency which is usually cheaper than the US dollar and the Euro. Also, they have a really bad image of Asia and in particular of South-East Asia, thinking it to be infested with piracy," he says.

This assertion is untrue as most pirated e-books or e-books that have had their DRMs removed are distributed from American websites, says Faiz.

And another reason publishers should embrace e-books is the fact that they currently have trouble moving their physical stock, points out Faiz.

"If the whole world is turning digital, then where are they going to sell their stocks? So Asia and even countries such as South Africa are becoming 'dumping grounds' for English books to be sold. This is basically the talk we heard when we were at the Frankfurt Bookfair (the world's biggest bookfair)," he says.

Although Faiz believes that not all books can be digitised, e-books is just the "natural way forward" because of practical reasons and real limitations. "For one, pulp paper has become more expensive, just like other natural resources," he says.

Zafirah adds other advantages: books can be distributed faster and to a bigger audience, and they can even reach different and larger markets.

It has been challenging, however, to convince local publishers to turn digital.

"Some of the publishers (in Malaysia) just refuse to go digital, though the number of publishers who are participating is increasing," says Zafirah, adding that "we help digitise books and also train publishers to digitise their works."

Helping authors publish

E-Sentral isn't just a bookstore. It is also a publishing portal that helps authors sell their e-books. It also acts as a content aggregator by helping authors sell their e-books at international online bookstores such as iBooks and

Authors can open up an account at e-Sentral to publish their e-books, eliminating the need to set up a portal of their own or to engage the services of an IT professional.

E-Sentral also offers to teach people how to digitise their novels and attach the DRM. Authors pocket 60% of the book price while the rest goes to e-Sentral. If authors request e-Sentral to digitise their books and create the cover, they will get 50% of the sales proceeds.

In the traditional publishing system, books are vetted by editors, selected for publishing, and then sold to bookstores. E-books have the ability to demolish the need for books to be physically present in bookstores. Authors can now bypass the publisher and publish their e-books, reaping the lions' share of the profits and are also able to reach an international audience.

Western companies are already taking advantage of this. There's Kindle Direct Publishing, which has made authors millionaires.

"People are thinking: Why should we go to publishers when we do it ourselves and become millionaires?" says Zafirah.

"A lot of publishers have to digest that and think about this new way of doing things. This is the reality. When society decides to change they will just switch, they won't wait," says Faiz.

Changing literature

E-books and devices such as the iPad are also changing the way people read. Faiz highlights how Apple "killed off albums" and created a music revolution with the iPod.

For a while, music labels fought against the change, but they soon adapted.

Thanks to the iPod, listeners can now buy the songs they want rather than the entire album. In the future, readers will be able to do the same.

"For example, rather than pay for an entire magazine only to read 50% of it, you can pay for the article you want to read instead," he says.

Overseas retailers such as and offer short stories for sale. That way, instead of buying an entire collection of stories, readers can buy the stories they want for as low as US$0.40 (RM1.20).

The digital revolution can even transform the way books are written.

"For thousands of years, people read content in a linear fashion," Faiz says. To get to the next event in the story, one has to turn the page.

However, due to modern technologies, we can now read in a non-linear fashion. For example, while reading the digital book, the author may include a link to a separate story that expands the original story further.

"The author has the option to create subplots, flashbacks and backgrounds. Readers can choose to read 'the story behind the story'," Faiz points out.

When the company exhibited at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October last year, they attracted a lot of attention because they were the only ones championing the non-linear, interactive publishing model concept to the world.

The potential is huge, says Faiz. Not only will there be more income streams for the author, literature could be changed forever. After all, "Who says we have to read the story page by page?"

For more information, go to, e-mail, call 03-8051 6390 or go to the company's Facebook page at

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The Star Online: Metro: Central

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Top seeded Choo Teck goes all out to defeat challenger

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 03:42 AM PST

TOP seeded Ng Choo Teck ended the gallant run of a younger challenger Mohamad Aiman Mohd Nor to emerge as the championship pool's winner of the SportExcel Asia-Pacific boys' Under-20 match play at the Rahman Putra Golf Club in Sungai Buloh recently.

Going into the main draw as the third-ranked contender, Aiman from Seri Selangor Golf Club had to slog to stay in the contention starting from the last 16.

Aiman subdued clubmate Amir Nazrin Jailani with a slim 1-0 victory followed by another identical 1-0 score that went down to wire at the 18th hole over Joshua Gibbons of Rahman Putra in the quarter-finals.

In the semi-finals, Aiman needed two holes of sudden-death playoff before fending off the stronger resistance coming from Palm Resort Golf and Country Club's Alvin Hiew.

Alvin created an upset by eliminating second seeded Tan Wei Chean from Tropicana Golf and Country Club with a 1-0 margin in the quarter-finals.

Competition co-ordinator Teng Mui Ngee said the competitors went through a hectic final day because the typical afternoon rain disrupted the last eight fixtures on the penultimate day of the three-day meet.

"Several of them had to compete up to a maximum of four holes before they moved on to the semi-finals and finals on the last day of competition. It was very taxing on them but they did not ease back in giving their opponents a tough time on the greens," he added.

In the championship encounter, it was not a stroll in the park for Choo Teck on his home course before he secured the hard-earned victorious outing.

Aiman was ahead with a slim one- hole lead when they took a brief breather due to the rain at the half-way mark after nine holes in the final.

However, the zero-handicapper Choo Teck showed his composure on the home stretch and clawed back to overcome Aiman at the decisive 18th hole for a narrow 1-0.

Last year, Choo Teck captured his maiden match play victory when he edged Aravindakumar Sinniah of Angkatan Tentera by the similar 1-0 margin at the SportExcel national match play championship.

Meanwhile, it was a more engaging final with Muhammad Afzal Mohd Zubir of Tentera Udara defeating Amir Nazrin Jailani in an exciting two-hole sudden-death playoff.



- Final: Ng Choo Teck (Rahman Putra) bt Mohammad Aiman Mohd Nor (Seri Selangor) 1-0

- Third-Fourth: Park Jong Min (Pro Tour Eagles) bt Alvin Hiew (Palm Resort) 7-6

- Ranking: 5. Joshua Gibbons (Rahman Putra) 75; 6. Tan Wei Chean (Tropicana) 78; 7. Danial Mohd Sidek (MSN Terengganu) 87; 8. Sazanur Iman Salenin (KGPA) 90


- Final: Muhammad Afzal Mohd Zubir (Tentera Udara) bt Amir Nazrin Jailani (Seri Selangor) 2-0 (sudden-death)

- Third-Fourth: Park Chang Uk (Darul Ehsan) bt Aaron Cheong (Rahman Putra) 4-3

- Ranking: 5. Danil Asyraf Suhaimee (KGNS) 81; 6. Aravindakumar Sinniah (Monterez) 82 (ocb); 7. Mohamed Izzad Ibrahim (Impian) 82; 8. Danial Durisic (Rahman Putra) 85


- Final: Sim You Jin (Rahman Putra) bt Lucas Yee (Clearwater) 4-2

- Third-Fourth: Kim Myong Kon (Darul Ehsan) bt Eddy Ng Zhen Hou (Rahman Putra) 1-0 (sudden-death)

- Ranking: 5. Izzat Mirza Iwan Harman (Monterez) 85; 6. Khavish Varman Varadan (Monterez) 86; 7. Muhamad Shafiq Musa (KGPA) 89 (ocb); 8. Mior Asyraf Haziq Zulkefli (Monterez) 89

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Car maker to have its own fashion festival

Posted: 03 Jan 2012 03:42 AM PST

IT was cars, caviar and couture when luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz hosted a glittering finale of its Customer Dining Event for 2011 in celebration of 125 years of automotive excellence and innovation. It also announced its international collaboration with Stylo International as presenter of its "World Fashion Series".

Stylo, launched in 2008 to celebrate the 10th Malaysian Petronas Formula 1 Grand Prix, has been presented by Mercedes-Benz since its inception.

It formed Stylo Worldwide UK Ltd following the introduction of its World Fashion Series last year and moved its international base from Singapore to London.

It has since created Stylolympics, its fashion platform for the upcoming 2012 London Olympics, whose debut enjoyed much success during the London Fashion Week season in September last year.

Stylo joined forces with Mercedes-Benz India in Mumbai to present its second instalment of the series when India hosted its first-ever Formula 1 race in October.

Under the World Fashion Series, Stylo will create a platform for young Malaysian fashion talents to be showcased in international fashion capitals.

Twenty-year-old fashion student Lorenzo Peh, Mercedes-Benz Stylo Emerging Designer of 2011, was the main highlight of the London and Mumbai initiatives.

Also included in the initiative will be the search for new faces via the Mercedes-Benz Stylo Model of the Year programme, which will kick off this month and on the final evening of the upcoming Stylo Fashion Grand Prix scheduled for March 2012.

The competition, open to both male and female Malaysians, will see the winners taking to the international runways where Stylo will be hosted.

The winners will also be named the Face of Mercedes-Benz for that year.

In January 2012 Stylo will become an official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival. It will join the ranks of its other high-powered international fashion week contemporaries of the world under the Mercedes-Benz banner.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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Aretha Franklin joins list of stars getting engaged

Posted: 02 Jan 2012 08:50 PM PST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters): "Queen of Soul" singer Aretha Franklin has become the latest celebrity to announce an engagement over the holidays, joining a list including "Aerosmith" frontman Steven Tyler and basketball superstar LeBron James.

Franklin, 69, and her friend William 'Willie' Wilkerson hope to marry later this year on a sandy Miami beach with a private party to celebrate afterward aboard a yacht, a spokeswoman for Franklin confirmed on Monday.

"We're looking at June or July for our date, and no I'm not pregnant, LOL!," Franklin said in a statement.

Franklin, 69, was sidelined by a mysterious ailment at about this time last year, but overcame her health scare in January and shed 85 pounds on the road to better health. The legendary singer of 1960s hits like "Chain of Fools" and "Baby I Love You" sang at her own 69th birthday party in March.

Tyler, 63, rocked longtime girlfriend Erin Brady, 38, with a proposal, too, his representative confirmed to celebrity media, but no details were given.

In recent days ahead of New Year's Eve, the two have been photographed in Hawaii with Brady showing off a new diamond engagement ring wrapped around her finger. Tyler and Brady have been together since 2006. It will be his third marriage.

James and his longtime girlfriend Savannah Brinson also became engaged over the New Year holiday weekend.

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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New building for international school in Labuan

Posted: 02 Jan 2012 04:00 PM PST

LABUAN: The Labuan International School (LIS) here will add a modern school building by the middle of 2012 to house an auditorium for performing arts and state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure facilities, said Mohd Rizlan Mokhtar, director of corporate services for the Labuan Financial Services Authority (Labuan FSA).

Funds for the expansion came from the government under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, he said here recently.

Mohd Rizlan said LIS was gradually being transformed into an innovative educational centre to would be on par with other international schools in the region as a critical element in improving the island's development infrastructure to support the Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (IBFC) and the thriving oil and gas sector.

LIS, located near the Labuan Financial Park, has achieved new standards as its students are encouraged to think creatively and reason critically.

Labuan FSA, a statutory body under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance through Bank Negara, manages the school through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pristine Era Sdn Bhd (PESB).

Mohd Rizlan said LIS had made significant progress over the years and Labuan FSA was committed to its growth through a smart partnership with Cempaka Holdings Sdn Bhd, an operator of international schools.

He said the increased enrolment at LIS was an encouraging indication of the progress made by the school.

LIS, which was established in 1996, currently has more than 200 students studying at various levels in its Manjaria Kindergarten for students between four and six years old, Sekolah Sri Labuan private school offering Malaysian KBSR curriculum, and international school offering primary-level international curriculum.

Mohd Rizlan said the involvement of Labuan FSA in managing and funding the LIS since 1999 was testament to the Government's commitment to providing quality education in Labuan.

To support its aspiration to shine as a premier international school, LIS upgraded its facilities to include air-conditioned classrooms, a resource centre equipped with computers, a swimming pool, a playground and full security during schooling hours.

Mohd Rizlan said the philosophy adopted by LIS focuses on an all-round education centred on the concept of mind, body and soul and this means that LIS not only aims for academic excellence among its students but also in co-curricular activities such as swimming, music, scouting, computer club and outdoor activities such as camping, kayaking and snorkelling. – Bernama

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SK Yong Peng to have a new two-storey building with new classrooms

Posted: 02 Jan 2012 04:45 PM PST

YONG PENG: The year got off to a bright start for SK Yong Peng as it received a Christmas and New Year gift from the Education Ministry on Jan 1 in the form of RM680,000 that will be used to replace its old classrooms with new ones.

Leng Eng King, chairman of the school's board of governors, said the school planned to demolish a 55-year-old single-storey building with four classrooms and build a new two-storey building.

The new building will have classrooms, a canteen and a staff room.

"We are really grateful for the gift. It will help to improve the learning environment for students," Leng said during an interview.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong announced the news during a visit to celebrate Christmas and New Year here on Jan 1. Wee is also the MP for Ayer Hitam.

The school is expected to receive the allocation in 60 days, said Wee.

Leng said the school had received a total of RM1.2mil in allocations, including the latest RM680,000, from the ministry to build a hall and classrooms as well as for repair work.

Headmistress Lim Bee Hoon said the school has about 300 students utilising 12 classrooms.

"It would be ideal if we had three more classrooms," she said, adding that the school would have a total of 15 classrooms once the construction of the new building is completed.

Lim added that the school would have a new canteen and the teachers would have a proper office when the building is up.

During his visit, Wee also announced allocations of RM20,000 for Yong Peng's Christian community as well as RM30,000 for the Presbyterian Church here.

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Lighting lanterns to celebrate New Year

Posted: 02 Jan 2012 04:46 PM PST

BATU PAHAT: Hundreds of people of all races thronged the Kian Nam Shee Chinese Temple for a lantern lighting festival to usher in the New Year.

The event organised by the temple's committee featured cultural dances, children singing, lion dance and performance by Malay artistes.

Batu Pahat MP Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi, who was the guest of honour, also presented wheelchairs, spectacles and hampers to the needy as well as lucky draw gifts.

Devotees and visitors were served with buffet dinner.

Temple committee secretary Tan Chee Min said the event was held to welcome the New Year and to celebrate the temple's 59th anniversary.

The temple committee was formed in 1952 by local Chinese community leaders before it received a piece of 0.4ha land to build the temple, he said.

Tan said the temple was rebuilt in 1997 with help from prominent businessman Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew.

The project took 25 months and cost RM1mil, he added.

"This place has become a tourist attraction since then. Many tourists visit our temple during weekends and public holidays. It is also a popular place for wedding photos as well as a location for filming," he said during his speech.

At the event, Mohd Puad also announced a RM30,000 allocation for the temple for repainting and upgrading works.

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