Jumaat, 9 November 2012

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Sing it on

Posted: 10 Nov 2012 12:02 AM PST

This entertaining feel-good flick might just turn out to be this year's Bridesmaids.

This movie is so hilarious, entertaining and hugely enjoyable that I feel like an ingrate for wishing that it was a better film.

Adapted from Mickey Rapkin's 2008 book Pitch Perfect: The Quest For Collegiate A Cappella Glory, the movie seems like it was tailor-made to suit this current age of Step Up, Glee, and reality-based talent shows on TV like American Idol and The Voice.

If you've already forgotten the Bring It On franchise (which was about cheerleading), you might still get a feeling of deja vu while watching Pitch Perfect, as the plot faithfully follows the teenage-underdogs-go-for-glory template almost to a T.

Then again, though the ingredients are the same, it's how you cook a dish that makes the difference, and that rings true for this film – there is a strong tinge of freshness to the proceedings despite the overfamiliarity of its "ingredients".

Director Jason Moore, a television veteran (Dawson's Creek) and director of Broadway's Avenue Q, does a decent job on his feature film debut, although he is still very much a by-the-numbers guy. He plays it safe throughout the film, even during the musical bits – which I think is a missed opportunity – resulting in the film having a wee bit of a television feel to it visually.

The real star of the film is the laugh-out-loud script by Kay Cannon, a writer for the sitcoms 30 Rock and New Girl, that is filled with shamelessly funny punchlines and jokes. Forget irony, forget satire and definitely forget subtlety – this is one script that just wants to tickle you silly, and succeeds quite admirably.

It tells the story of Beca (Anna Kendrick from Up In The Air and What To Expect When You're Expecting), a freshman at Barden University who is forced by her father to give university a go when all she wants to do is be a DJ in Los Angeles.

Barden University happens to be the home of two rival a cappella groups – the all-female Bellas and the all-male reigning national champions, the Treblemakers.

An unfortunate gross incident in the previous year's national finals meant that the Bellas, formerly known for having beautiful members with pitch-perfect vocals, are now social pariahs. Not even "freaks" are willing to join their group this year.

Beca is inevitably recruited by Chloe (Brittany Snow) after hearing her sing David Guetta and Sia's Titanium in the shower. Alongside uptight group leader Aubrey (Anna Camp), the rest of the Bellas is made up of hilarious caricatures and stereotypes like Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson in what is surely her star-making performance), quiet Asian girl Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) and token black lesbian Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean).

While the plot may be predictable – you just know that the Bellas will triumph in the end, after some bumps on the road of course – what truly lifts this movie to sure-fire crowd-pleaser status are the sparklingly spiky performances by the always appealing Kendrick as well as Wilson's movie-stealing (it's just not enough to describe it as a "scene-stealing turn") antics and, in a trick borrowed from Best In Show, the colourful and hugely inappropriate live commentary by John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks).

Then of course, there's the undoubted pleasure of listening to the a cappella rendition of songs we already love or are, at least, familiar with.

From music by Bruno Mars to Salt 'N Pepa to Simple Minds, the songs are given not only the a cappella treatment, but also mashed up at certain points in the movie.

If you're familiar with the TV show The Sing-Off, then you might be slightly disappointed that there's nothing in this movie as inspiring as some of the renditions belted out by the group Pentatonix (or even Afro Blue, later on) from the programme, but the laughs and the singing in Pitch Perfect will still give you glee.

Bridesmaids for the teenage or college set? I don't see why not.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Pentagon releases Benghazi timeline, defends response

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 07:39 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pentagon leaders knew of the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi an hour after it began, but were unable to mobilize reinforcements based in Europe in time to prevent the death of the U.S. ambassador, according to a timeline released on Friday.

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States September 11, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States September 11, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

Senior defence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, rejected criticism accusing the Pentagon of failing to move quickly to send reinforcements to relieve the consulate or using armed aerial drones to fire on the attackers.

"The Department of Defense acted quickly after learning of the incidents unfolding in Benghazi," said one official, adding that Marines, special forces and other military assets had either been employed or put in motion during the attack.

"Unfortunately, no alternative or additional aircraft options were available within a timeline to be effective," the official added.

The Obama administration's response to the attack became a highly charged political issue in the last weeks of the presidential campaign. The CIA, which had a base near the consulate, and the State Department have released timelines on the incident.

According to the Pentagon's timeline, the military's Africa Command, based in Europe, ordered an unmanned, unarmed surveillance drone diverted to the city in eastern Libya just 17 minutes after the attack on the consulate began about 9:42 p.m. local time (3:42 p.m. EDT), the first military action in response to the incident. It took the drone more than an hour to arrive at the scene.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's office was notified of the attack 50 minutes after it began, and Panetta learned of it shortly thereafter as he and the military's top general headed to a previously scheduled meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House.

Obama, Panetta and Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed potential responses to the unfolding events in Benghazi during their meeting, which began 78 minutes after the start of the Libya attack, according to the timeline.


Panetta and Dempsey then returned to the Pentagon and began a two-hour series of meetings with General Carter Ham, head of Africa Command, and other senior military leaders from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT (12 a.m. to 2 a.m. Libya time) to organize responses to the attack.

But as they arrived at the Pentagon, the surviving personnel from the consulate in Benghazi were being evacuated by a CIA team that arrived from a nearby base, about two hours after the start of the attack. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was missing.

Stevens' body was found at a local hospital. He apparently died of asphyxiation in the smoke-filled diplomatic compound after it was set ablaze by the attackers. Stevens and three other U.S. personnel died in the attack on the consulate and a nearby CIA annex.

"When initial reports came in, we knew the ambassador could not be reached," a senior defense official told reporters. "We were looking at the possibility of a potential hostage-rescue scenario, for instance. So we didn't know if this was going to be an hours-long event or a days-long even or longer."

During the meetings, the group formulated a response to the attack and gave verbal orders to prepare to deploy two teams of Marine anti-terrorism troops, used for providing security, and two special forces units, one based in Europe and the other in the United States.

One Marine Corps Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, or FAST team, was designated for the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli and the other for the consulate in Benghazi. The special forces units were ordered to prepare to go to a staging base in Europe.

As the Pentagon meetings got under way, a six-man security team from the embassy in Tripoli, which included two Defense Department personnel, left for Benghazi, landing at the airport at 1:30 a.m Libya time (7:30 p.m. EDT).

A CIA timeline released last week said that team was held up at the airport trying to organize transportation and locate the missing U.S. ambassador.

The team from Tripoli got to the CIA base in Benghazi, at about 5:15 a.m. Libya time (11:15 p.m. EDT), arriving at the start of a mortar attack by militants that killed two U.S. security officers.

An hour after that, a Libyan military unit arrived at the CIA base and helped evacuate all U.S. personnel and the bodies of Stevens and the other slain Americans.

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

CIA Director Petraeus resigns, admits extra-marital affair

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 07:06 PM PST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - CIA Director David Petraeus resigned as head of the leading U.S. spy agency on Friday, saying he had engaged in an extramarital affair and acknowledging he "showed extremely poor judgment."

U.S. General David Petraeus gestures during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Capitol Hill in Washington in this June 23, 2011, file photo. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/Files

U.S. General David Petraeus gestures during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Capitol Hill in Washington in this June 23, 2011, file photo. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/Files

In a letter to the CIA workforce, Petraeus, 60, said he met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday and asked "to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position."

"After being married for 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair," he wrote. "Such behaviour is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours."

Obama, who was re-elected to a second term on Tuesday, said in a statement he had accepted Petraeus' resignation, praising him for his work at the Central Intelligence Agency and for leading U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The woman with whom the former CIA director had the affair is Paula Broadwell, according to a person familiar with the matter. She is an author who wrote a biography of Petraeus titled "All In."

Attempts to reach Broadwell were unsuccessful. There was no answer at the door of her house in the affluent Charlotte, North Carolina, neighbourhood of Dilworth.

Much about the sudden and dramatic turn of events remained unknown Friday evening, including how long the affair had gone on and what prompted Petraeus to resign now, just days after the 2012 presidential election.

There were indications, however, that the affair was first uncovered a few months ago during an investigation by the FBI. A U.S. national security source said the FBI had stumbled across evidence of Petraeus' affair during an apparently unrelated investigation of news leaks.

Petraeus' revelation of the affair appeared to end the public career of a widely admired warrior-scholar who played a key role in the Iraq war, led the U.S. Central Command and commanded U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Petraeus' name had circulated speculatively as a possible Republican presidential nominee before Obama tapped him as CIA chief. Before taking the CIA post, he retired as an Army general after nearly four decades of military service.

Petraeus led the CIA for only 14 months. His sudden departure threatened to usher in a period of instability at the spy agency, which is grappling with a levelling off in its budget after a decade of steady increases.

The agency is also fending off questions about its performance before and after the attack that led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya.

U.S. officials insisted the CIA's handling of the Benghazi incident had nothing to do with Petraeus' decision to resign.


Petraeus recently travelled to Libya and the Middle East, and had been scheduled to testify about the Benghazi events next week behind closed doors to the House and Senate intelligence committees. Now, he will not give that testimony.

There is no indication Petraeus broke any agency rule in connection with his admitted affair, sources familiar with the matter said. The CIA has no broad rule banning officials from engaging in extramarital affairs though, if discovered, liaisons by CIA personnel with suspected foreign agents would pose security problems for a U.S. agent.

In his statement, Obama said "I am completely confident that the CIA will continue to thrive and carry out its essential mission."

Obama, who accepted Petraeus' resignation in a phone call with him on Friday afternoon, said Michael Morell, the agency's long-time deputy director, would serve as acting CIA chief.

Morell is a leading candidate to be Petraeus' permanent successor, sources said. He earned Obama's trust when he frequently briefed the president during planning for the operation to take down Osama bin Laden, a senior administration official said.

"He's respected, a straight shooter, and has great relationships with the White House and Capitol Hill. Not to mention over 30 years of agency experience," said a former CIA official, who called Morell "the odds-on favourite."

Other possible candidates being discussed on Capitol Hill include John Brennan, Obama's chief counter-terrorism adviser; Obama's national security adviser Thomas Donilon; and former congresswoman Jane Harman, who chaired the House intelligence committee.

Petraeus' resignation also adds a new vacancy on Obama's national security team. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she will leave after Obama's first term, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is widely expected to leave as well.

Petraeus' wife, Holly, has been an advocate for U.S. veterans and head of the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Last month, Petraeus and his wife appeared together at a reception at the Canadian Embassy in Washington to celebrate the premiere of the Ben Affleck film "Argo," which chronicles a successful operation in which the CIA and Canadian diplomats smuggled a group of U.S. officials out of Tehran during the 1979-81 U.S. Embassy hostage crisis.

At the Pentagon, people who worked closely with Petraeus expressed shock at the revelations and at his resignation.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement: "I wish President Obama had not accepted this resignation, but I understand and respect the decision."

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Phil Stewart in Washington and Rick Rothhacker in Charlotte; Writing by Warren Strobel; Editing by Jackie Frank, Jim Loney and Todd Eastham)

Related Stories:
Petraeus, star on battlefield, felled at CIA by affair

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Argentines showed guns to keep ship from being moved in Ghana

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 06:53 PM PST

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The crew aboard an Argentine military training vessel displayed their weapons to keep port authorities in Ghana from forcibly boarding the ship this week to move it to another berth, the Argentine Defense Ministry said on Friday.

The ARA Libertad tall sailing ship was detained in Ghana's eastern port of Tema on October 2 on a court order obtained by NML Capital Ltd, which claims Argentina owes it $300 million (188 million pounds) on bonds in default since 2002.

About 300 crew members were evacuated from the ship last month and fewer than 50 sailors remain on the vessel to keep up essential maintenance.

When Ghanaian authorities tried to board the ship on Wednesday to ease port congestion by moving it to another berth, the Argentines dissuaded them by putting their guns on display.

The Argentine Defense Ministry said in a statement that port officials first cut off water and power supplies to the ship while mooring personnel and two tug boats approached the vessel. The ship's captain, under orders from Buenos Aires, retracted the landing stage to keep the officials from boarding.

The Ghanaian port authorities responded by placing a crane near the ship as a means to get on board, the ministry said.

"Faced with these circumstances, that the Ghanaian port authority intended to board the ship and forcibly move it without a firm judicial order backing that, the order was given that the crew exhibit their regular arms on deck with the purpose of dissuading any attempt to board," the ministry said.

An Argentine daily newspaper reported that the stand-off was more aggressive.

"I was there and they took out rifles and aimed them at us," Jacob Kwabla Adorkor, a Ghanaian port official, told La Nacion, confirming an article published by Ghanaian newspaper The Chronicle, which said the showdown lasted about four hours.

Argentina's government said Defense Minister Arturo Puricelli communicated with his Ghanaian counterpart to seek his immediate intervention to stop actions that the ministry described as a "clear violation of our sovereignty and an act of hostility."

The port officials eventually desisted.


The Argentine Defense Ministry initially filed a motion contesting the ship's detention, claiming sovereign immunity for the military vessel, but a court in Ghana's capital, Accra, upheld the seizure as legal. Argentina has appealed the ruling.

Argentine officials call NML Capital a "vulture fund" because it buys distressed or defaulted debt and then sues in international courts to get paid in full.

Creditors like NML have won several billion dollars in court-awarded damages in the United States, but they have largely been unable to collect because most Argentine assets are protected by sovereign immunity laws.

These creditors are called "holdouts" because they rejected Argentina's 2005 and 2010 debt swaps, through which the country restructured about 93 percent of the roughly $100 billion in debt instruments it defaulted on a decade ago.

President Cristina Fernandez said recently that Argentina will not pay "one dollar to the vulture funds."

Foreign Minister Hector Timerman launched a diplomatic offensive in New York last month, urging top United Nations officials to pressure Ghana to release the ship.

(Reporting by Guido Nejamkis; Additional reporting and writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by David Brunnstrom and Philip Barbara)

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Baseball: Major League side bids US$25mil for Korea's Ryu

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 07:09 PM PST

SEOUL: Hanwha Eagles on Saturday announced they had accepted a bid worth more than $25 million from an unidentified Major League team for South Korea's top left-handed starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin.

"We've decided to accept the highest posting fee worth $25,737,737.33," the Eagles said on its official website.

"We believe this figure is acceptable for the rights to the top ace in South Korea," it said. The winning team will now have 30 days to negotiate a contract with Ryu through agent Scott Boras.

Given the contract is worked out, the Eagles will then receive the posting fee.

Ryu's posting fee is reportedly the third largest ever, following Japanese pitchers Yu Darvish's worth $51.7 million and Daisuke Matsuzaka's worth $51.1 million.

"I've made a step forward for a dream come true," Ryu was quoted as saying on the Eagles website.

"I will make every effort in order to ensure that my challenge will serve as a source of energy for the Korean people, especially for children."

Ryu, 25, is not a hard-thrower with a fastball of between the high 80-mph and the low-90 mph (128-144 kph) but he has a good command and an excellent changeup. - AFP

You ain't seen nothing yet, say Lotus and Kimi

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 06:07 PM PST

LONDON: Kimi Raikkonen has put his money where his mouth is by paying for 500 t-shirts emblazoned with his "leave me alone" radio message, broadcast during last Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

They are being printed and prepared as gifts from the Finnish driver to his Lotus team and to mark his first victory since returning from self-imposed F1 exile this season.

They also signal that he is back in the winners' circle and has every intention of staying in the limelight for as long as he can - and certainly returning as a race winner.

The Finn returned this year after a two-season absence and held off two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari at Yas Marina last Sunday to claim his 19th Formula One win.

Raikkonen's blunt radio messages to his team - including an instruction to "leave me alone" when informed of the gap to Alonso - became a sensation among fans after Abu Dhabi.

The Lotus driver said he was simply trying to stay focused.

"Apparently there were a few of our radio messages broadcast on TV and I think in those moments you could hear how much I just wanted to keep my head down, do my job and win the race. All I needed to know was the gap to the guy behind me.

"I think you can probably find other messages from me in the car if you search YouTube; even from my short time in NASCAR."

Raikkonen was confirmed at Lotus for the 2013 season just ahead of Abu Dhabi and the 2007 world champion believes his win showed he has made the right decision.

"It's a pretty good way to show that everyone's made the right choice," said Raikkonen.

"We've shown all season how good we can be, and in Abu Dhabi we showed we can win.

"There is more to come, I promise."

Raikkonen had finished on the podium six times this year before winning in Abu Dhabi and he thinks Lotus's persistence was the key to that elusive victory.

"We didn't give up," he said.

"We continued with the exhaust developments we made during practice in Korea and India and the pace was promising all weekend in Abu Dhabi."

He added that he has no intention to change his style or approach to racing.

"I've never cared really what people think - if I don't finish the next race, then they'll think that I'm as bad as that race. I'll just do my thing, and if I'm happy with what I'm doing and it's the best it can be for the team, then that's that.

"So it doesn't really bother me if people are thinking differently of me now, than what they did three hours before the race."

His Lotus team chief Eric Boullier said he always had confidence in the Finn.

"This was maybe a surprise for anyone on the outside of the team that doubted him, but for everyone on the inside it was not," said Boullier.

"Kimi has certainly made his mark and shown that he's back in Formula One and back at his best form.

Having him back getting podiums and a win is great for him, great for the team and great for the fans.

"Moreover 'Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing' (radio message) has already become a Formula 1 classic!" Boullier, who joined the team back in 2010, admitted that his first victory as a team boss was very emotional.

"I received over four hundred messages at the track after the chequered flag! It was a pleasant surprise to see that a few of them were coming from our rival teams saying how happy they were for us.

"It was nice to hear that people in the paddock thought we deserved the victory.

"Also, standing on the podium as team principal of the winning constructor was something really special. It was a very emotional moment. I hope we get used to it very soon." - AFP

Cricket: Monkey business halts England's tour match

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 05:52 PM PST

AHMEDABAD, India: England's tour match against Haryana was halted briefly in Ahmedabad on Friday after a group of monkeys appeared on the field, leaving the tourists amused.

The monkeys walked across the field when the post-tea session was in progress on the 'B' field of the Motera stadium complex, where the first Test starts in the main ground on November 15.

England seamer Tim Bresnan, who hails from Yorkshire, said the unexpected invasion did not bother him.

"No, we get them down at my local cricket club all the time," he joked.

Bresnan took two wickets as Haryana, replying to England's first innings total of 521, cruised to 172-4 by stumps on the second day of the four-day game.

Bizarre interruptions in cricket are not an uncommon feature. Bees, pigs, snakes, and even hedgehogs have been known to stop play in various centres around the world.

England are hoping to win their first Test series in India since 1985 when the four matches are played in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and Nagpur. - AFP

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Business

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The wonderful world of Les’ Copaque

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 05:06 PM PST

LES' Copaque Production Sdn Bhd sees itself as becoming a "mini Disney".

The studio that produces the wildly popular Upin & Ipin animated series has begun its diversification into other areas such as product licensing and merchandising, restaurant chain and musical theatre. And of course, it also wants to develop a theme park.

Interestingly, all this started out as a kind of hobby and not by design. As the company's creative director Ainon Ariff says, "Kami buat suka-suka. Sekarang kena kerja pula!" (We did it for fun. Now it has become work!)

Ainon shares an office with her husband, managing director Burhanuddin Md Radzi, at the company's headquarters in Shah Alam.

Burhanuddin was formerly head of engineering services company Dayang Enterprise. When his partners decided to list it in 2004, he opted to sell off his shares. "I didn't want to run a listed company," he explains.

With a lot of cash in hand, he was spending a lot of time at the golf course. "My wife told me I could not go on like this. We then contemplated what to do with the money and she proposed producing a film," Burhanuddin tells StarBizWeek.

Was it an animated film? "No, no," Ainon replies. "Kita manalah minat kartun! (We weren't cartoon fans!) We didn't know anything about cartoons."

They just wanted to produce dramas for fun. But then fate intervened their daughter introduced them to her three friends who were fresh graduates from Multimedia University. The youths were keen also to produce a 3D animated film.

After seeing their work, Burhanuddin agreed to put in the capital. He and Ainon set up Les' Copaque at the end of 2005 (Les' Copaque came from the local slang "last kopek", which means "final chance".)

Eight months after operations started, the three youths along with other newly-recruited staff created a 12-minute clip "a kind of trailer" for the animated movie Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula (Gang: The Adventure Begins). This achievement convinced Burhanuddin that the movie project was feasible.

"Initially they wanted to do all sorts of genres. But after doing research among others, we followed MDeC (the Multimedia Development Corp) to Cannes - we found that Asia was hungry for animation that is tailored to our culture and that would benefit the children," says Burhanuddin.

"At that time, Malaysian children were living with cartoons like Mickey Mouse and Tom & Jerry and Japanese anime (animation) which was violent. My wife proposed to create animation with a kampung setting that promoted local culture and local values.

"The boys didn't quite agree; they wanted to do a superhero series. I told them that a superhero has no connection with the local audience and it would be more difficult to continuously generate ideas for it compared with a story with everyday setting like Upin & Ipin."

(A few years later, the Multimedia University graduates left Les' Copaque to set up their own company, Animonsta Studios. They created a superhero-based animated series called BoBoiBoy.)

The five-year-old twins Upin and Ipin were not intended to be the stars of Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula. In the original script, they had only minor roles.

However, Les' Copaque decided to introduce the two cute-looking kids early on to the potential audience in order to test the market.

It led to a series of six five-minute Upin & Ipin episodes on TV9 during the Ramadan month of 2007.

"I was thinking of catching the Malay market. We thought the best way to attract them was through Islamic content, so we focused on the subject of fasting for the first time," he says.

The content fit nicely with TV9, which in the previous year had been relaunched to target "Malays with traditional values" via programmes such as the country's first religious reality show, Akademi al-Quran.

Ainon says she and Burhanuddin wrote all the scripts although their names did not appear in the credits as writers.

Upin & Ipin became a hit. "A lot of people commented about it online. That boosted our confidence and we recruited more production staff," says Burhanuddin.

The next year TV9 asked them to do more episodes, and Les' Copaque churned out 12 more episodes on fasting.

Later Upin & Ipin's Islamic content was toned down in order to sell the series overseas.

Burhanuddin says that by end-2008, the animated movie was finished and the company had a staff of 40 then.

"We decided to do a proper' production of Upin & Ipin by changing the format to seven-minute episodes so the TV stations could choose to run them as a half-hour programme comprising three episodes. To go international, we couldn't go too Islamic as it would narrow the market. So we don't portray it as Islamic content but as content that promotes good moral values," Burhanuddin says.

Disney Channel Asia started showing the new Upin & Ipin episodes. Though initially reluctant, it eventually acquired the Ramadan series as well.

The overwhelming success of the Upin & Ipin series led Les' Copaque to give its titular characters a much bigger role in the animated movie Geng, hence delaying its completion by six months.

Breaking the curse

Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula entered the local cinema circuit in early 2009. Up to then, all locally-produced animated movies had flopped at the box office.

Malaysia's first animated movie Silat Legenda (1998) as well as two more animated features Putih (2001) and Budak Lapok (2007) netted less than half a million ringgit each, according to the Finas website.

Geng, which was financed partly with a RM1mil grant from the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, reportedly cost some RM4mil to produce. It became as much a hit as the TV series, raking in more than RM6mil.

Not only did it break the curse on local animated films, it became the highest grossing local movie of the year, animated or not.

The DVDs of Geng saw strong sales despite being priced at RM34.90 compared to the usual RM19.90 for local DVDs. The 70,000 copies released were sold out before Hari Raya that year.

After the movie was shown in Malaysia, Indonesia began showing the TV series and later Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula.

The TV series, which Burhanuddin is proud to say remained in Bahasa Malaysia (with Bahasa Indonesia subtitles), became a big hit. The movie, however, did not collect much revenue due to the strained relationship between Malaysia and Indonesia at the time and the limited screens available.

Today, Les' Copaque produces 42 episodes of Upin & Ipin every year. How popular are the characters? Well, last year the bald-headed twins were ranked 5th among fictional characters on Facebook worldwide, just under Mr Bean,

Malaysia's animation pioneer and guru Hassan Muthalib says Upin & Ipin was well animated and the voicing and direction were very good.

"It struck the imagination. These were the first characters to be recognised in South-East Asia; I was told that in Indonesia, kids were shaving their heads bald! And it was the first local film to be dubbed in Hindi and screened in India. It was also a hit in Singapore," he says.

However, Hassan feels Upin & Ipin doesn't use the animation medium well.

"I saw the episodes that came out during Ramadan. Looking at popular culture, it's a great way to voice out messages about culture and religion, but if you close your eyes and listen to the dialogue, you will know everything that's going on in the film. So it's like listening to a radio drama.

"That's not film. In theory, a film is about delivering something visually. When you can't do that, only then you have the dialogue," he says.

"So on the positive side, Upin & Ipin has hit the market; but now they have to go to another level fulfill the conditions of the animation medium where a lot of things are visually experienced."

Burhanuddin's view on that is that Les' Copaque aims to produce something that is enjoyable to watch and has values to develop children's minds. "Producing a masterpiece that only the creative people understand will not be able to generate enough income to sustain production cost," he says.

Chris Jaques, CEO (Asia) of advertising group M&C Saatchi, took note of Upin & Ipin's success and wrote a commentary early this year titled What Upin & Ipin Can Teach Every Business in Malaysia. He wrote that Facebook is the star of Malaysia's social media, and Upin & Ipin was Malaysia's most popular Facebook page.

"Not only do these guys (Upin & Ipin) have the most popular page in Malaysia, their page is no less than four times more popular than the second most popular Facebook page. In fact, Upin & Ipin have more likes than the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th most popular pages combined, with an almost incredible 5.4 million likes! It's around 20% of Malaysia's entire population and 32% of the country's Internet population," he wrote.

Burhanuddin says animation houses in Malaysia face difficulty in thriving because revenue from selling animation shows to TV stations could not cover production cost.

A half-hour show in the country would be paid RM40,000 to RM45,000, he says. It would cost the company RM1mil to RM1.4mil to produce 13 episodes a year, but it would only be paid just over half a million ringgit.

"There is a big gap to cover. A lot of animation companies cover it by taking grants from the Government," he says.

Overseas TV stations pay even less than RTM. "The average price of a syndicated programme is US$200-US$2,000 (RM600-RM6,000). So even with a premium price, you'll only get RM78,000 per country. So you need to penetrate a lot of countries, which is very tough," he says.

Burhanuddin doesn't quite agree with MDeC's push for local animation companies to target Europe and America by having a "global image."

"Don't waste your time. The first thing you must do is create products that can be sold in Malaysia. It is important to be a hit in your own country," he says.

He opines that if a TV station approaches you, you will be paid a better rate than if you go to them. "It's not important how many countries show Upin & Ipin; it's how much are we getting for it," he says.

He points out that Les' Copaque did not approach Disney but the other way around. Now Upin & Ipin is shown on Disney Channel Asia as a first-tier show like Mr Bean.

Burhanuddin says at present, a South African TV representative has shown interest to market Upin & Ipin in the African continent. A free-to-air TV station in the Philippines has also approached him recently. "We don't go out pushing our product; we wait," he says.

As revenue from TV stations alone is not sufficient to sustain its operations, Les' Copaque has found other sources of income, such as through sponsorship whereby a company pays to have its product featured in the Upin & Ipin series.

"Telekom Malaysia was our first sponsor back in 2009. The brand was featured in the story," he says. Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula, meanwhile, had Tourism Malaysia as a RM100,000 sponsor (one of the characters wears a Tourism Malaysia cap).

"We normally give three episodes of product placement although the characters won't mention the brand," he says.

Burhanuddin says sponsors, who have to fork out RM1mil and above, also get to sell their products at its annual Upin & Ipin Carnival, which attracts more than 100,000 people, and they can use the Upin & Ipin mascots at their own events.

Les' Copaque started its merchandising business at end-2007, starting with T-shirts to launch the movie Geng. Today it has nearly 300 products.

"Our merchandise are sold in about 200 Petronas Mesra outlets and selected Esso stations. We target to have them in 300 outlets by year-end," he says.

Les' Copaque just could not expand fast enough to cover all of Petronas' outlets. "We would have to service every two weeks from Johor to Sungai Petani. You need logistics support, warehouses and marketing people," he says.

It uses two or three factories in China to produce products such as plush toys and plastic products.

Burhanuddin notes that KFC bought 400,000 Upin & Ipin figurines but they were all finished halfway through the promotion period this year.

Les' Copaque has also tied up with Carrefour whereby the latter could use Upin & Ipin in promotions while Les' Copaque gets a dedicated space at Carrefour to sell its merchandise.

Last year Burhanuddin started a food and beverage company. It also launched a new intellectual property - Pada Zaman Dahulu, a show revolving around animals in a jungle.

This year it produced a Upin & Ipin musical at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur, that ran for three weeks from April 14. KPJ Healthcare was the main sponsor. The DVD of that stage musical is now being sold at KFC restaurants, with the contract calling for sale of 200,000 units up to January 2013.

The Les' Copaque group is also diversifying into the fast-food business. It launched its Kedai Makan Upin & Ipin in Mydin Mall, Ipoh last month, which serves Malay food. It has since added outlets in Bangi and Taman Melati in the Klang Valley.

"We hope to have 20 outlets by next year," Burhanuddin says, adding that it would open more outlets at Mydin Malls nationwide. So far, it has only used its internal funds rather than franchising out.

Burhanuddin and Ainon are now eyeing perhaps the company's biggest venture yet: a theme park.

Burhanuddin says the cost will likely be about RM700mil and he is hoping to secure 150 acres near the airport in Sepang. The park will also incorporate elements from Les' Copaque's other animated series, Pada Zaman Dahulu and its latest, Puteri.

"There are investors who have shown interest, and we hope GLCs (government-linked companies) will come in. We hope we can start work by the end of the year," he says.

Burhanuddin has spent RM400,000 out of his own pocket for the feasibility study. Despite the perception that Les' Copaque has enjoyed much government support, he says the only funding it has received from the Government was the RM1mil for Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula.

He says Les' Copaque could grow even bigger with more government support.

For example, it doesn't have enough staff now to do outsourcing work. "We have 150 employees. To do outsourcing, I would need a staff of 400," he says.

Les' Copaque's turnover from TV production is expected to remain about RM12mil this year, as it doesn't actively market its series; but merchandising revenue is growing rapidly. "This year we expect to hit RM7mil, up from RM2mil last year," he says.

So, when is the next movie starring Upin and Ipin coming out? The target date has been delayed before, and the concept, initially said to be a space adventure, has reportedly been changed to a historical setting (Laksamana Upin & Ipin).

Ainon says the script, which has been revised over and over, hasn't been finalised. "Potential sponsors for the film dah beratur (have formed a line) but until we get a very solid script, we won't embark on it," she says.

She adds that production will normally take at least two years, "so expect it to be out by 2015."

However, the duo want to keep the theme a secret at present.

He expects the next movie to cost RM8mil (including marketing) and to generate RM20mil in revenue.

"We are the only local animation studio that has proven it can spin off into other businesses. And we manage the business ourselves. We're sort of like a mini Disney," he says.

Disney profit meets expectations

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 03:59 PM PST

LOS ANGELES: Media giant Walt Disney Co posted higher quarterly profit, lifted by an increase in visitors to its theme parks and revenue gains at sports juggernaut ESPN.

The company that recently announced a blockbuster deal to buy Star Wars producer Lucasfilm reported diluted earnings per share of 68 US cents. That matched expectations from Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Net income for the quarter that ended in September rose 14% to US$1.2bil.

Looking ahead, Disney faces challenges that will pressure results for its fiscal first quarter from October to December, chief financial officer Jay Rasulo told analysts on a conference call. Among them, sports rights' costs would increase by US$170mil while home-video sales would decline by US$150mil in light of tough comparisons to Cars 2 a year earlier, he said.

Those issues would not hurt full-year earnings for fiscal 2013, Rasulo said. "I'm confident we will have solid earnings growth for the rest of the year," he said.

Chief executive officer Bob Iger said that Disney was entering a "transition year" after making investments in projects such as the "Cars Land" expansion at Disneyland Resort in California and a new cruise ship that launched this year.

Results for the just-ended quarter were driven by the media networks unit that houses ESPN, the Disney Channels and ABC. The division posted operating income of US$1.6bil, a 7% gain from a year earlier.

ESPN brought in higher rates from cable operators and reduced its marketing costs although advertising income fell, Disney said.

Morningstar analyst Michael Corty said Disney produced "another solid quarter" particularly with its cable networks business, though he noted that revenue was below what some analysts expected. Overall revenue rose 3% in the quarter to US$10.8bil. - Reuters

China inflation cools, leaving scope for policy easing

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 03:59 PM PST

Saturday November 10, 2012

BEIJING: China's annual consumer inflation eased to its slowest pace in nearly three years in October, official data showed, giving policymakers scope to further loosen monetary policy if needed to support growth in the world's second biggest economy.

The consumer price index rose 1.7% from a year ago, slower than the 1.9% posted in September. Economists polled by Reuters had expected inflation to hold steady.

The headline consumer price index reading was the lowest since January 2010.

"The CPI I think came in a little bit lower than we expected and the market expected, and further confirms that inflation is not a main concern for the government for now," said Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist at Nomura in Hong Kong. - Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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Total Recall: Arnie’s memoirs

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 06:16 AM PST

Arnold Schwarzenegger's autobiography is an easy, eye-opening read but comes across as calculated and more than a little evasive.

Total Recall
Author: Arnold Schwarzenegger (with Peter Petrie)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster, 646 pages

THIS being a book about the life of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the physical proportions of Total Recall do live up to its subject's stature.

At 646 pages and the size of a hardback, this autobiography is hefty for a paperback; holding it up while reading will give your forearms a good burn. (Imagine the Governator himself egging you on in his unmistakable accent: "Come ahn, wad are you wading for? Turn another page, girlie man!")

Er, right.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilding champion, movie star, Governor of California. If that isn't enough, you also have family man, entrepreneur, real estate tycoon, presidential fitness czar, co-initiator of global environment reforms (as he sees his green legacy).

Total Recall is hyped as "the greatest immigrant success story of our time" and it's no idle boast, though the book frequently comes off as a brag-fest.

There are also many very public things about Arnold's unusual tale that we know of, yet know very little about, that rate just passing mentions within these pages.

Among them, the book's "big revelation" that he had an affair with Red Sonja co-star Brigitte Nielsen (it rates a mere four paragraphs) and, of course, the scandal of fathering a child with housekeeper Mildred Baena that led to his separation from Maria Shriver. Don't expect too much dirt or any detailed lowdown on the scandals.

This celebrity memoir is definitely meant to impress the reader and gloss over the tricky bits, so it's not that kind of tell-all.

The movie fan in me would hardly begrudge him this approach. After all, he has featured in some of the most memorable sci-fi/fantasy/action epics of the 1980s and 1990s, such as Conan The Barbarian, The Terminator, T2: Judgment Day, Total Recall and Predator (he's due to come back as King Conan soon).

Suffice to say that this book is a compelling read, at least for its first two-thirds. It gives the reader a detailed but not overlong reminiscence of his childhood and early forays into bodybuilding.

The easygoing narrative style draws you in as Arnold's competitive streak kicks in and he is compelled to steamroll over his opponents at any cost to be the best there is.

From his record-setting victories in just about every major competition in the business, Total Recall segues neatly into the star's entertainment career, which was a natural progression from his sporting successes.

The way Arnold puts it, what set him apart from other famous athletes who ventured into movies was his overriding desire, from a very young age, to be the top in whatever field he chose.

And so it was that he overcame a most inauspicious beginning – the reportedly-quite-awful Hercules In New York, which never saw a theatrical release – to eventually land the lead role in Conan The Barbarian.

And there was no stopping him from there; by the time T2 rolled around, he really had fulfilled his next ambition: to become one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

The star's relationship with Maria Shriver, from their amusingly awkward early meetings through to their courtship, marriage, the showbiz and political years, and eventual separation, strongly underpins most of the book from the point she enters his life.

Arnold doesn't hold back in acknowledging the role she played as both his biggest supporter and critic, describing her as a partner whose ambitions matched his own.

When it inevitably comes around to the scandal that split them apart, he does not hesitate to declare that he messed up (though he uses a more colourful phrase) and admits that keeping secrets is a large part of his psychological makeup.

Other strong influences on his life are given due credit, from his mother (who carried her sons over a mountain to hospital when they were ill) to bodybuilding impresario Joe Weider who saw the potential in this driven youngster, to his parents-in-law, to various political mentors, both in the United States and back home in his native Austria.

A parade of bodybuilding, showbiz and political personalities troops past the reader because, face it, this guy has really done the rounds.

Among the funniest encounters is his first meeting with prolific movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, who would later put him in the role of Conan. It illustrates the bluntness that would both open and close many doors for Arnold even in his political career.

The first thing he says upon meeting this powerful producer is, "Why does a little guy like you need such a big desk?" And when De Laurentiis declares that Arnold can't be Flash Gordon because he has an accent, he retorts: "What do you mean I have an accent? What about you?" Needless to say, it was a very brief meeting.

Where Total Recall lost me somewhat was in the gubernatorial phase of his life. While the tale of his decision to run for Governor of California and his victory in a circus-like recall election (where the voters force new polls, owing to some dissatisfaction with the incumbent) make entertaining reading, the years in office seem glossed over with emphasis on only the positive elements.

Even the disastrous developments are quickly bundled out of the way, so that we can get on to a rushed discussion of The Secret (the infamous admission of his liaison with housekeeper) before Arnold ends the book with some "principles" he wants to pass along to the reader.

All in, Total Recall comes across as a carefully calculated vehicle to keep the Schwarzenegger brand as likeable as can be given the ... shadow of his indiscretions. But judge not, as another book says.

As for this book, it offers enough of a glimpse into the three worlds of Arnold (bodybuilding, movies, politics) to fascinate even those quite familiar with his career.

"What if this is a dream?" asks Douglas Quaid, Arnold's character in the 1990 flick from which this memoir takes its title. A dream come true, indeed.

Telling It Straight - Marina Mahathir's Musings in a book

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 06:14 AM PST

TWO new books are being launched tomorrow that take a look at the social and political fabric that makes up this always interesting and quirky country.

Telling It Straight is a compilation of articles that appeared in The Star's two-decade-old Musings column by popular and outspoken commentator on local social and political affairs, Marina Mahathir. With a Foreword by political scientist and historian Dr Farish A. Noor, this collection – which encompasses articles published between 2003 and 2012 – contains the best of Marina's takes on the issues, ideas and institutions of the day as well as two articles that were previously unpublished.

The 90 columns are presented thematically, some with specially written introductions to provide context, and cover a wide range of topics, from human trafficking, the underclass and flashmobs to Islamic law enforcement, corruption and plain idiocy.

While Telling It Straight offers the long view with observations covering almost a decade, Floating On A Malayan Breeze – which is also being launched tomorrow – presents a perspective formed in one intensive year of travel around the country. Author Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh approached his examination from the point of view of a Singaporean – because sometimes, you need someone on the fringe to see things for what they really are.

Vadaketh believes that Malaysia and Singapore are essentially the same country and people, separated by politics. Since the split in 1963, these two countries have developed along different paths. To what extent is the divergence? And what similarities remain?

Seeking answers to these questions, the author and his best friend – also a Singaporean – took a month off to cycle around Peninsular Malaysia and connect with the people, all on a meagre daily budget of RM10 each!

Both books will be launched tomorrow at the Borders bookstore at The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur, with the authors making appearances for Q&A and meet-the-public sessions, when they will also sign copies of their books.

Vadaketh will be there at 11am while Marina will appear at 4pm.

Marina will also be appearing on Sunday at 2pm at Borders, The Curve, Mutiara Damansara, Selangor; and on Nov 17 at 3pm at Borders Express, Bangsar Village II, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

A Borders Rewards Card will be given free with every copy of Telling It Straight purchased on the day of the event at respective stores; the BRC entitles holders to discounts, special promotions and rewards from Borders.

The Cat's Table: Of freedom and love

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 06:13 AM PST

The Cat's Table
Author: Michael Ondaatje
Publisher: Vintage Books, 265 pages

THE Cat's Table is an unusual tale about 11-year-old Michael who is aboard a ship heading to England. I must admit it took me a bit of time to fall in love with the characters, as Ondaatje takes his time to develop and craft them to his liking, and consequently to the liking of his readers.

Ondaatje gives us a glimpse of the somewhat mysterious and sometimes comical encounters that occur amidst the seemingly mundane happenings onboard.

The title refers to where Michael is seated during meal times. It is here that he befriends a few of the other passengers while passing the time listening to their cheerful banter and zany yet thoughtful conversations.

Readers would be captivated by how much they can actually relate to Michael and his adventures, especially if you have an adventurous streak too.

Soon it is evident that although Michael is knowledgeable for his age, he is still innocent beyond measure and this adds to his appeal. As we read, we notice his childishness versus his maturity; smartness versus ignorance; and the boy's poignant yet seemingly bizarre nature.

How easily Michael and his friends slip into a routine and find meaning to their existence, mainly by living off the stories of the interesting people on board – from a prisoner to the millionaire Hector de Silva, and the Captain himself – probably the most satisfying part of the story is when the boys encounter the Captain in his cabin.

We find out later that the book is a reflection of Michael's life as it charts his journey from youth to adulthood.

Ondaatje subtly works romance into Michael's life without too much detail, letting the readers imagine the depth of his feelings.

His writing is amazing in that he captures adeptly the workings of the mind of an 11-year-old as cleverly as he does that of a man in his 30s.

Many unexplained things from before become clearer as the book nears its ending and although Ondaatje does not answer all our questions in full, he gives us an inkling of what happened. It is here, too, that the characters become more real and vivid as they reach the fullness of their existence while still retaining that certain innocence they had when they first embarked on the Oronsay.

Overall, the book is a pleasure to read even if we are left to wonder what Ondaatje's underlying message is. Is it about friendship, the uncertainty of life or the mystery of growing up? Suffice to say that Ondaatje's themes are in line with contemporary thinking on freedom and love.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Woman finds out she’s really a man

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 03:34 PM PST

A TEACHER was stunned to find out that she was genetically a man after living as a woman for 25 years, Nanyang Siang Pau reported.

The woman, known only as Zhang from China's Hubei province, was reported to be very attractive with many men wanting to date her.

Recently, she went to the hospital to check why she never had her period as she planned to get married and have babies.

She was told that she was a hermaphrodite with sexual organs of both sexes.

An ultrasound showed that Zhang had a vagina but no womb.

It also found two shadows in her abdomen that were believed to be testicles.

Doctors further confirmed that Zhang was a man according to chromosomes; and performed a surgery to remove her testicles as she chose to live as a woman.

Zhang can have sexual relations but can never get pregnant.

> Major Chinese dailies reported that Cantopop star Aaron Kwok proposed to his Chinese model girlfriend Lynn Xiong during a holiday in Maldives.

The couple was there to celebrate the heavenly king's 47th birthday, which fell on Oct 26.

Kwok and Lynn spent eight days at the Banyan Tree Madivaru Resort which costs at least RM6,000 a night.

The reports said the couple of six years spent most of their time at the villa.

Lynn's friend said the 32-year-old model was shocked but so touched by the surprise proposal.

> The dailies also reported that Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Chai Xi planned to join the Malaysia My Second Home programme and move here after his retirement.

"This place is a vast and sparsely populated area with no disasters and is rich in natural resources. The Malaysians are very lucky," he said.

Bank of China chief executive officer Zhen Jingbo totally agreed with the diplomat's view and said he would follow in Cai's footsteps, as he too considered Malaysia a good place to retire.

Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with a >, it denotes a separate news item.

Stop waiting for handouts, youths told

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 03:34 PM PST

THERE are many opportunities available for Indians, which they must make full use of so they can live a comfortable life, reported Makkal Osai.

Perak police chief ACP Datuk Sukri Dahlan said this after attending the Deepavali Cultural Fest organised by MIC Ipoh Barat division last Sunday.

He called upon the youth to strive to become successful through their hard work instead of getting involved with the wrong company, which would ruin their future.

He added that Indian youths must take the first step towards becoming successful instead of waiting for handouts.

ACP Sukri urged the people to help the police in reducing the number of crimes by providing information leading to the arrest of criminals.

> A lorry driver who helped police to move a lorry that fatally knocked down a motorcyclist was beaten to death by relatives of the accident victim who thought that he had caused the accident, reported Malaysia Nanban.

The helper was identified as K. Rajesh, 35, from Lalgudi in Trichy district, south of Chennai. It was reported that the original lorry driver S. Martin, 40, from Komakudi, had fled the scene after Moorthy, 60, from Kuppavazhi died on the spot.

Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with a >, it denotes a separate news item.

Conned of RM2.4mil

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 03:33 PM PST

HAVING just a Standard Six education did not stop a 40-year-old man from figuring out how to rake in millions of ringgit illegally.

Harian Metro reported that the man managed to convince a businessman to part with RM2.4mil by promising lottery numbers that were guaranteed to win the top prize.

Quoting a source, the daily said the conman was contacted by his unsuspecting victim, who was intrigued after reading a flyer advertising the former's alleged abilities.

The suspect initially asked for the victim's personal details, and later told the victim to deposit an unknown sum of money into an account with the promise of a winning lottery number.

"After the victim deposited the money, he was not given the winning lottery number as promised. However, the man managed to convince the victim to make nine more transactions involving a total of RM2.4mil into different accounts," said the source.

The source added that the victim realised he was cheated several months later and lodged a police report.

Officers from Bukit Aman's commercial crime department eventually arrested the suspect in Alor Setar last Saturday.

> Sinar Harian reported that a 72-year-old taxi driver was injured on his right leg after he was attacked by a stray dog in Kuala Langat.

The paper reported that Jaafar Judin, 72, was suddenly attacked as he was walking back to his taxi after performing subuh prayers at the As Sharif mosque in Telok Datok.

The dog only let go after other people came to help.

Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with a >, it denotes a separate news item.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Trailer Park

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 01:59 AM PST

Lincoln – It seems appropriate that Steven Spielberg's latest film, which is about Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, is released in that country a week after the presidential election.

Meanwhile, Lincoln is only getting released in Malaysia on Feb 21, 2013, a time when actor Daniel Day-Lewis will surely be named Best Actor at the Oscars. Yes, one can come to this conclusion just by watching the almost-three-minute trailer.

Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's bestseller Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius Of Abraham Lincoln, the film focuses on the final four months of Lincoln's life as he fights for the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (abolishing slavery) and to end the Civil War.

Spielberg creates every piece of that historical moment with the right look and by recruiting an impressive cast that includes Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones (the wig on Jones looks weird, though), Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Strathairn.

Movies coming soon

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 01:58 AM PST

Pitch Perfect – An all-female a cappella group competes in a college singing competition. The twist is not that the girls must take on an all-male a cappella group, but that they must find a way to put their differences aside and work together if they want to win. Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp and Brittany Snow lead the cast (pic).

Red Lights – Buried director, Rodrigo Cort├ęs, explores a different kind of scary – the unexplained phenomena of paranormal activities. In this case, a world-renowned psychic who confounds the psychologist Margaret Matheson and her assistant. Starring Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy and Elizabeth Olsen.

War Of The Worlds: Goliath – You know that HG Wells story The War Of The Worlds? Well, this Malaysian-made animated feature looks at what happened 15 years after that fateful day.

Ecuador film

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 01:58 AM PST

Los Canallas (Riff Raff) – Don't miss this film from Ecuador that won the Bronze Best First Feature Award at the 2009 Montreal World Film Festival.

It will be screened tonight at 8pm at the Indicine Box, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre in conjuction with the 11th Latin American Film Festival.

Written and directed by Ana Cristina Franco, it explores the desires and indiscretions of young people.

This film is only for those aged 18 and above. For more information, visit latinfilmfest.org.my

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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