Isnin, 4 Mac 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Heidi Klum new judge on 'America's Got Talent'

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 08:17 PM PST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Supermodel and television host Heidi Klum said on Monday that she will be a new judge on the popular summer TV talent show America's Got Talent.

Klum will be the fourth judge on the talent show created by British entertainment mogul Simon Cowell. She joins comedian Howie Mandel, radio "shock jock" Howard Stern and former Spice Girl Mel B on the show hosted by Nick Cannon.

"Excited 2 join @HowardStern @howiemandel @OfficialMelB & @NickCannon on @nbcagt as new judge! Will be so fun," Klum tweeted.

Broadcaster NBC said Klum, 39, adds a discerning taste to the jury panel.

"As we look to develop an act that will get the world's attention, we and the contestants will benefit from Heidi's international sensibility and understanding of what works in today's global entertainment industry," NBC president of alternative programming, Paul Telegdy, said in a statement.

NBC said last month that Mel B would replace Sharon Osbourne, who quit the show after her son Jack was dropped from another reality show by the network.

German-born Klum was due to join the other judges for the nationwide auditions set to start on Monday in New Orleans. The show is open to singers, dancer, magicians and other performers with a top prize of US$1 million.

NBC is betting that Klum and Mel B will boost falling audiences for the summer show, which experienced record low numbers during the finale in September with less than 11 million viewers.

Klum is also the host on Bravo's fashion-design competition Project Runway as well as model competition Germany's Next Top Model in her native country.

Bravo is a division of NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast Corp


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Chavez's breathing problems worsen, has severe new infection

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 08:53 PM PST

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's breathing problems have worsened and he is suffering from a "severe" new respiratory infection as he struggles to recover from cancer surgery, the government said in a sombre medical update on Monday.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez smiles in between his daughters, Rosa Virginia (R) and Maria while recovering from cancer surgery in Havana in this photograph released by the Ministry of Information on February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Ministry of Information/Handout

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez smiles in between his daughters, Rosa Virginia (R) and Maria while recovering from cancer surgery in Havana in this photograph released by the Ministry of Information on February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Ministry of Information/Handout

The 58-year-old socialist leader has not been seen in public nor heard from in almost three months since undergoing the operation in Cuba. It was his fourth surgery since the disease was detected in mid-2011.

"Today there is a worsening of his respiratory function, related to his depressed immune system. There is now a new, severe infection," Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said, reading the latest brief statement on Chavez's condition.

Chavez made a surprise pre-dawn homecoming two weeks ago with none of the fanfare and celebration that had accompanied previous returns from treatment in Havana. The government said he is now fighting for his life at a Caracas military hospital. Armed guards are providing heavy security outside.

"The president has been receiving high-impact chemotherapy, along with other complementary treatments ... his general condition continues to be very delicate," Villegas said.

Chavez suffered multiple complications after the December 11 surgery, including unexpected bleeding and an earlier severe respiratory infection that officials said had been controlled.

The government said he had trouble speaking because he was breathing through a tracheal tube, but that he was giving orders to ministers by writing them down.

"The commander-president remains clinging to Christ and to life, conscious of the difficulties that he is facing, and complying strictly with the program designed by his medical team," Villegas said.

Chavez had undergone several gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, which at times left him bald and bloated. He twice wrongly declared himself cured.

The only sight of the former soldier since his latest operation were four photos published by the government while he was still in Havana, showing him lying in a hospital bed.

Following an emotional Mass at the military hospital on Friday, Vice President Nicolas Maduro - Chavez's preferred successor if he is unable to carry on as president - said the president had decided for himself several days earlier that he would return to Venezuela from Cuba.

Chavez was going to begin a "tougher and more intense" phase of his treatment, Maduro said, and he wanted to be in Caracas.


Maduro said that included chemotherapy - prompting some in the opposition to question whether chemotherapy can be successfully given to patients in such a delicate state.

The government is furious at rumours in recent days that Chavez might have died, blaming them on an opposition plot by "far-right fascists" to destabilize the OPEC nation, which boasts the world's biggest oil reserves.

"We call on all our people to stay alert, untouched by the psychological war deployed by foreign laboratories with the corrupt Venezuelan right, seeking to generate violence as a pretext for a foreign intervention," Villegas said.

"At this time, unity and discipline are the bases to guarantee political stability," he said, adding that the government was accompanying Chavez's children and other relatives in "this battle full of love and spirituality."

Opposition leaders have accused Maduro of repeatedly lying about the president's real condition. Several dozen anti-government student protesters have chained themselves up in public to demand proof that Chavez is alive and in Venezuela.

"I can't even imagine the party they're going to have tomorrow with this news," pro-Chavez commentator Mario Silva said on state TV on Monday night. "But we all have to keep faith."

Should the Venezuelan leader step down or die, an election would be held within 30 days and would probably pit Maduro against opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in a presidential election in October.

The stakes are also high for the rest of Latin America. Chavez has been the most vocal critic of Washington in the region and has funded hefty aid programs for leftist governments from Bolivia to Cuba.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Velez; Editing by Kieran Murray and Christopher Wilson)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

U.S., China teach tentative deal on North Korea sanctions

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 08:01 PM PST

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States and China have struck a tentative deal on a draft U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution that would punish North Korea for its third nuclear test last month, U.N. diplomats said on Monday.

A North Korean flag on a tower flutters in the wind at a North Korean village near the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in this picture taken just south of the border, in Paju, north of Seoul, February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

A North Korean flag on a tower flutters in the wind at a North Korean village near the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in this picture taken just south of the border, in Paju, north of Seoul, February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

Separately, the U.N. press office announced that Russia, which holds the presidency of the 15-nation Security Council this month, will convene closed-door consultations on North Korea at 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) in New York on Tuesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the U.N. diplomats said they hoped to receive the draft resolution at Tuesday's council session. They added that they hope the council will vote on the resolution by the end of this week.

"I hope to see a draft tomorrow perhaps, but you know it's up to the Americans," a diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The details of the draft were not immediately available.

Council diplomats have said that they would like to strengthen the provisions in previous sanctions resolutions adopted after North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests, above all those related to the inspection and seizure of shipments of banned items and toughening financial restrictions.

The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned North Korea's third nuclear test on February 12 and vowed to take action against Pyongyang for an act that all major world powers, including traditional ally China, denounced.

Pyongyang said at the time that the test was an act of self-defence against "U.S. hostility" and threatened stronger steps if necessary.

In January the Security Council passed a resolution expanding U.N. sanctions against North Korea due to its December rocket launch and warned Pyongyang against further launches or nuclear tests. North Korea responded by threatening a new atomic detonation, which it then carried out the following month.

North Korea's previous nuclear tests had prompted the Security Council to impose sanctions that include a ban on the import of nuclear and missile technology, an arms embargo and a ban on luxury goods imports.

There are 17 North Korean entities, including banks and trading companies, on the U.N. blacklist, and nine individuals - all linked to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. U.N. diplomats say many more entities and individuals could be subject to international asset freezes and travel bans.

Beijing has supported all previous sanctions resolutions against Pyongyang but only after working hard to dilute proposed measures in negotiations on the texts. It has been concerned that tougher sanctions could further weaken the North's economy and prompt refugees to flood into China.

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Canada's Ouellet suggests others may be better for pope

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 07:03 PM PST

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, one of the leading candidates to succeed Pope Benedict, suggested in an interview with Canada's national broadcaster that other candidates for pope might do a better job.

"I have to be ready even if I think that probably others could do it better," Ouellet, 68, one of a handful of cardinals seen as papal material, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp in an interview published late on Sunday.

Ouellet, who now works in the Vatican, served as archbishop of Canada's French speaking province of Quebec from 2002 to 2010, a fractious time where uncompromising positions from the Vatican often ran counter to the widespread secularism in Quebec.

Pope Benedict subsequently named him to the influential position as prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, which recommends the appointment of bishops to the pope.

In a separate interview with the French-language CBC, Ouellet recognized that his name does come up as a possible replacement for Benedict, who stepped down on March 1.

"I can't not think about the possibility. Reasonably, when I go into the conclave of cardinals, I have to say to myself, 'What if, what if...' It makes me reflect, it makes me pray, it makes me somewhat afraid. I am very conscious of the weight of the task," he said.

"So you have to be ready for any outcome, but I think a certain number of people have more chance of being elected than me."

Ouellet said he recognized that the church and the next pope needed to take advantage of social media. Benedict started tweeting in December, as @pontifex. Ouellet said he has been busy, but knows he needs to start tweeting.

Ouellet, who once said becoming pope "would be a nightmare", faced controversy in Quebec in 2010, months before being brought over to the Vatican, when he restated the Church's position that abortion is wrong even in the case of rape.

That remark drew condemnation from Quebec politicians, and one newspaper columnist wrote that he hoped the clergyman would die a long and painful death.

As he left Quebec, he said "the message of truth is not always welcome," but he also asked forgiveness for any harm he may have brought to people.

A Canadian journalist who interviewed Ouellet several times described him as a cross between John Paul II and Benedict, more reserved than the former but more photogenic than the latter. But even his friends say he is not charismatic.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Janet Guttsman; and Peter Galloway)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters


The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Chen Long and Taufik pose the biggest challenge to Chong Wei

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 04:54 PM PST

INDONESIA'S Taufik Hidayat and Chen Long of China are the old and new stars of world's badminton but they have one thing in common – they have never tasted success in the All-England championships.

And the duo are seen as threats to world No. 1 and two-time All-England winner Lee Chong Wei in the men's singles event when the world's oldest badminton tournament starts at the National Indoor Arena here tomorrow.

Although Taufik's form has taken a dip over the years, Malaysia's national singles coach Tey Seu Bock is not ready to write off the talented Indonesian for one good reason.

The All-England is the only notable silverware that is missing from Taufik's staggering collection of titles. He has won all the major titles – the Olympics, World Championships and Asian Games.

Taufik, who turns 32 in August, became an instant star when he reached the final of the All-England in 1999 at the age of 18. He made it to the final again in 2000. But on both occasions, victory was beyond him.

Seu Bock said that although Taufik's movement on court had slowed down, one should never question his steely determination especially this being his last All-England.

"All of us know that the All-England means a lot to him. This could be his best last chance to prove himself here. His attacking skills are still impressive. It's a folly to rule Taufik out from the title contention - not in the All-England," added Seu Bock.

On reigning German Open champion Chen Long, Seu Bock said the lanky Chinese would pose the biggest threat to Chong Wei.

In their recent meeting at the Hong Kong Open, Chen Long defeated Chong Wei in convincing fashion.

"Chen Long is young. His confidence is also boosted by his German Open triumph. Chen Long's movement is much faster and that is the key advantage for him against Chong Wei," added Seu Bock.

Taufik is in the same half of the draw with top seed Chong Wei. If the Indonesia can rise above himself against players like Sho Sasaki of Japan, Du Pengyu and Gao Huan of China and Hu Yun of Hong Kong, he may meet 30-year-old Chong Wei in the semi-finals.

The 24-year-old Chen Long is in the lower half with a host of talented players – fourth seed Sony Dwi Kuncoro, former world champion Chen Jin of China and Kenichi Tago of Japan. But Chen Long is tipped as the favourite to reach the final.

Go-karter finishes second in WSK Euro Series race in Italy

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 04:51 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's teenage karting sensation Muizzuddin Musyaffa Abdul Gafar finished second in the opening round of the prestigious WSK Euro Series to record his first-ever podium in Italy.

The 11-year-old Muizzuddin, who competes in the 60 Mini category and battling against older karters, put up a strong performance over the weekend. He took third place in the qualifying and heats before cruising to another third in the pre-final race on Sunday.

That allowed Muizzuddin, who represents Gamoto Racing, to start the final race from the second row. He immediately gained a place behind his team-mate Eliseo Martinez in the opening lap.

But with just two laps to go, as a consequence of an illegal contact, Muizzuddin was forced to drop to sixth. He eventually finished fourth.

Race stewards later penalised Indian Kush Maini and Italian Lorenzo Colombo, who finished second and third respectively, and promoted Muizzuddin to second.

The 10-lap race was won by Martinez with Leonardo Marseglia of Comer Top Kart finishing third.

"I am very happy. It was a very difficult race. There were a lot of good karters from Europe competing and a few Asian riders like Maini and me.

"I have to push the kart very hard and I am delighted to finish second.

"I had the Jalur Gemilang with me on the podium … It was a proud moment for me, holding the flag on the podium," said Muizzuddin, who lives in Sicily with his mother, in a telephone interview.

"I hope this is the start of better things this season … Next, we go to Lonata for the International Trofeo Andrea Margutti.

"This is a very classic event … it's like Monaco for F1," said Muizzuddin, who also competes in the CSAI Italian Go-Kart Championship, WSK Masters Series and Italian ROK Championship.

The next round of the WSK Euro Series will be held at Zuerra in Spain from March 20-24.

Maiden European Tour win for Van der Walt

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 03:17 PM PST

PRETORIA (South Africa): Dawie van der Walt won his first European Tour tournament on Sunday by finishing two shots ahead of fellow South African Darren Fichardt in the Tshwane Open.

Van der Walt fired a five-under final round 67 for a total of 267 over the Ernie Els-designed Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate while Fichardt closed with a 69 on the 7,124m layout.

A two-metre, 110kg giant, western Cape-born Van der Walt was one shot ahead of four-time European Tour winner Fichardt at the turn and extended it with a birdie at the par-five 15th on a hot, overcast afternoon.

Both title challengers parred the last three holes and Van der Walt collected a US$310,690 cheque and a three-year exemption from qualifying for European Tour events.

The 30-year-old winner of the inaugural Tshwane Open was a model of consistency over the four days of a tournament hit by delays on Friday and Saturday when thunderstorms rolled over the course south west of here.

He had only one bogey over his 72 holes - at the par-four 10th during the closing round - and a solid tee-to-green game set up an unexpected success in a 156-field that included three former Major title-holders.

"I hit the ball really well this week and probably missed only six or seven greens in regulation," said the slightly nervous champion after receiving his cheque and trophy.

"My tee-to-green game was good, my putting solid, and to bogey only one hole throughout the tournament on such a long and challenging course was really awesome.

"Among the turning points was dropping a birdie putt at 12 - I was desperate for another birdie to get to five-under and once the ball went into the hole I felt I was in control.

"My goal was to shoot 10-under for the weekend and my focus was reaching five-under for the round today. I am really happy that I played well and won because you can play well and not win."

Van der Walt said the victory lifted a major concern off his shoulders as he was beginning to wonder if he had the ability to win a tournament at the highest level.

"You start doubting yourself and, at 30, you start to wonder if you are good enough. This victory proves that I am. Golf is a game where you do not get a lot of chances to win and to do it is fantastic."

The often hot putter of Fichardt cooled during the final round and he never looked like overtaking Van der Walt during the closing holes while co-overnight leader Charl Coetzee of South Africa closed with a par 72.

Chilean Mark Tullo, the other member of the quartet topping the leaderboard after the third round, crumbled to a 77 after needing 42 strokes to cover the back nine.

Former British Open champion Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland closed with a 69 and there was a 75 from 2012 Ryder Cup-winning captain and twice US Masters title-holder Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain. — AFP


The Star Online: Business

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IRM Group slides to low of 7.5 sen ahead of suspension

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 06:04 PM PST

Published: Tuesday March 5, 2013 MYT 10:04:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of IRM Group Bhd fell to a low of 7.5 sen on Tuesday ahead of an impending suspension on Friday for failing to submit its fourth quarter report for the financial period ended Dec 31, 2012.

At 9.48am, it was down two sen to nine sen. There were 8.55 million shares done at prices ranging from 7.5 sen to 9.5 sen.

The KLCI was up 4.54 points to 1,640.52. Turnover was 180.36 million shares done valued at RM163.87mil. There were 179 gainers, 100 losers and 154 counters unchanged.

On Tuesday, IRM Group announced it had failed to submit its fourth quarter report for the financial period ended Dec 31, 2012.

Bursa Malaysia Securities said IRM Group failed to submit the results for public release within the stipulated timeframe pursuant to Paragraph 9.22(1) of Bursa Securities' Main Market Listing Requirements.

It added if a listed issuer fails to issue the outstanding financial statements within five market days after the expiry of the relevant timeframes, it would suspend the trading in the securities.

"The suspension shall be effected on the next market day after the suspension deadline," it said, adding trading in the company's shares would be suspended from 9am on Friday until further notice.


Blue chips advance, Maybank, UMW up

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 05:42 PM PST

Published: Tuesday March 5, 2013 MYT 9:43:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Shares of Maybank and UMW helped drive the FBM KLCI higher in early trade on Tuesday, in line with key regional markets as investors hoped more stimulus measures would be taken by central banks to boost their economies.

At 9.24am, the KLCI was up 4.21 points to 1,640.19. Turnover was 91.67 million shares valued at RM81.48mil. There were 133 gainers, 62 losers and 107 counters unchanged.

Maybank and UMW rose six sen each to RM9.11 and RM12.82. HDBS added 12 sen to RM3.93 on a report that foreign banks are eyeing the stake.

BAT was the top gainer, rising 40 sen to RM59.90, Allianz-PA 14 sen to RM7.55 and Allianz 10 sen to RM7.60. Naim gained 12 sen to RM3.93 and SEGi six sen to RM1.67.

IRM Group fell two sen to nine sen with 7.48 million shares done.

NCB LOST nine sen to RM4.41, Jaya Tiasa eight sen to RM1.82 and MAHB seven sen lower at RM5.35.


IJM sells 35.6% of Tamil Nadu highway concessionaire for RM60.1m

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 05:27 PM PST

Published: Tuesday March 5, 2013 MYT 9:28:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: IJM Corporation Bhd is selling a 35.6% stake in Trichy Tollway Private Ltd (TTPL) - the concessionaire for a highway expansion project in Tamil Nadu, India -- for RM60.1mil.

It said on Tuesday its unit IJM Trichy (Mauritius) Ltd's sale of the stake, comprising of 59.30 million shares in Trichy Tollway to Macquarie SBI Infrastructure Investments Pte Limited, would reduce its interest to 13.26%.

"The gain from the disposal is approximately RM52mil, after taking into consideration the fair value of IJM Trichy's remaining interest in TTPL.

TTPL is the concessionaire to undertake the expansion of the current two-lane section near Ulunderpet to near Padalur into four-lanes on a build-operate-transfer basis.



The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Squaring off for the ‘mother of all battles’

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 03:01 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: The 13th general election will be a closely fought affair due to the number of new voters and no one is sure who they will vote for, said The Star executive editor Datuk Wong Sai Wan.

"In the last GE, 10.9 million people were registered as voters. As of December last year, 13.34 million people had registered," said Wong, who described the elections as the mother of all battles.

He cited the 2008 GE popular vote difference as an indication of how close the contest will be.

In 2008, Barisan Nasional received only 285,947 more votes than the Opposition.

The number of new voters who have registered will definitely influence the contest, he said, adding that the people could keep track of election news and issues through The Star Online's TV channel, is airing GE13: The Showdown, hosted by Anne Edwards.

The programme, featuring interviews with politicians and prominent figures, kicks off today with The Star executive director and group chief editor Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai and Wong discussing voting trends, urban and rural voter sentiments as well as possible scenarios and election outcomes.

For more information, visit

Mohan: Batu Kawan is sure to be Barisan’s

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 02:56 PM PST

THE Batu Kawan Barisan Nasional coordinator is confident that the coalition will wrest back the parliamentary seat from the Opposition, Malaysia Nanban reported.

A. Mohan felt that the people would not fall for the Opposition's empty promises in the coming general election, citing Kampung Buah Pala as an example.

He said that the affected people who supported Pakatan were compensated with houses. "Those who opposed it got nothing," he said.

Mohan said the Barisan, as a caring party, had ensured that those whom Pakatan ignored were given houses in Seberang Prai.

He said this after attending a gathering by Seberang Perai Indian Community Association in Prai on Saturday.

> Tamil Nesan reported that a 70-year-old in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, who was bed-ridden for six months due to a prolonged ailment, miraculously got up and started to walk after hearing news that his 55-year-old sister, whom he had lost trace of for almost 26 years, was alive and living in Tamil Nadu.

K. Dharmarajan said that the news was a "tonic" to him as he had almost given up hope of ever meeting his sister.

"Hearing the news, I found the will to start walking again," he said.

His sister, Thevathy Ruckmani Devi, has been living in a refugee camp at Thirumanagalam for years with her husband and children after escaping from Sri Lanka during the civil war.

The brother and sister are hoping to meet in Sri Lanka after formalities regarding Thevathy's trip to the country had been completed.

Men dig up corpses for the lonely dead to wed

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 02:56 PM PST

FOUR men stole 10 corpses of women to sell to those wanting to conduct "afterworld marriages" for their dead family members in Shanxi, China, Sin Chew Daily reported.

The men, mostly in their 60s, had dug the graves and stole the bodies within the last four months, it reported.

They had sold the 10 bodies for about RM120,000 to families who wanted their unmarried family members not to feel lonely as they would have "wives" to accompany them in their afterlife.

They cleaned the bodies and dyed their hair to make them look younger as the buyers preferred women who died young.

The men were caught and jailed, it reported.

The China media reported that young female bodies could be sold for between RM20,000 and RM40,000 each in Shanxi as some rural villagers still conducted "afterworld marriages".

> A set of identical triplets married on the same day in Beijing, reported Kwong Wah Yit Poh.

The brothers, who are 25 years old, decided to hold a wedding ceremony together on March 2, inviting about 700 friends and relatives.

The brides said they could identify their husbands even though many people think the brothers look exactly the same.


The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Nicholas Hoult joins the 'It' list

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 01:55 AM PST

HOLLYWOOD (USA Today/MCT) -- Most American moviegoers first laid eyes on Nicholas Hoult as Marcus, the gawky 12-year-old London lad who latches onto Hugh Grant's shallow cad of a father figure in the 2002 comedy About A Boy.

Ears are probably still ringing from his "social-suicide" school-recital rendition of Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly With His Song.

What a difference a decade or so makes.

Just like the centerpiece beanstalk in Hoult's Jack The Giant Slayer, a male-driven addition to Hollywood's ongoing fascination with live-action fairy tales, the cherub-lipped 23-year-old actor with the distinctive Mr. Spock brows has sprouted into quite a striking specimen.

Model handsome and hovering near 6-foot-3, he has matured into a rare commodity: a soulful man of action who appeals to ga-ga girls and geeky guys alike.

Jack was supposed to come out last summer, but was pushed to this year to better accommodate the massive task of fine-tuning its special effects. The delay proved surprisingly fortuitous, allowing Hoult to blossom into a full-fledged celebrity.

The reason? The paparazzi descended once he began dating Jennifer Lawrence, the freshly crowned best-actress Oscar winner from Silver Linings Playbook and his fellow blue-hued mutant in 2011's X-Men: First Class. That is, until they broke up in January.

Yet Hoult soon found a consolation prize after topping the box office with his first movie lead as a love-struck zombie who falls for a living human in the romantic horror comedy Warm Bodies.

A sign of his rising profile: He has been the target of a fake Twitter account. In retaliation, he started his own — @NicholasHoult — a month ago and already has 80,000-plus followers.

As a result, "We've got a movie star now," says Bryan Singer, the director of Jack The Giant Slayer, who worked with the actor as the producer and co-writer of the X-Men prequel.

Hoult first crossed over into more adult roles as Colin Firth's angora-sweater-swathed object of desire in 2009's A Single Man and by playing a sexually voracious teen on the racy U.K. TV series Skins.

Still, Jack is a giant step into the realm of being a headliner. "Unlike the Hemsworth brothers, Chris and Liam, or Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult has a different quality," says Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst.

"He has a physical presence, but doesn't come off as hulking. He has a look that allows him to be a lead in a comedy, romance or an action movie, and isn't limited to being the big hero."

Hoult had competition for the role of Jack, including Anna Karenina's high-society rogue Aaron Taylor-Johnson. But as a fan of his work on Skins, Singer knew Hoult was the best choice: "Not only is he really talented and charismatic, but he can also be vulnerable. He has some Hugh Grant-isms about him, some 'aw shucks-isms' that are endearing."

Never more so than when Jack dons ye olde adorable hoodie before scrambling up the famous stalk to rescue a princess from monstrous behemoths in the sky.

He also impressed his elder co-stars. Says Stanley Tucci, who plays villainous royal adviser Roderick: "He is so pretty, tall and slender, and very nice. A hard worker and a professional."

But as an interview subject, Hoult seems to be channeling his stiff zombie-esque persona more than a robust storybook warrior when speaking on the phone. He is polite. He is pleasant. He only balks when urged to confirm that he is currently single and fancy-free.

His answer? A moment of silence.

There is no mistaking him for a raconteur, but at least he makes an attempt. Asked whether bringing a fairy-tale icon to life was fun, Hoult replies, "No matter what role you are playing, you try to have fun. The best stuff happens when you can relax on set."

Do people often say they can't believe he was the dorky kid in About A Boy? "I still have that. When I visit friends and they have kids now, I think, 'Wait a minute? How much time has passed.' I really enjoyed doing it. At that point, acting was more of a hobby, a fun outside-of-school activity."

What would be his dream role? "Bond. I'd really like to play Bond. I need a few more miles on the clock, though."

He also requires more free space on his calendar before he comes close to fitting in a swing at 007 any time soon.

Next year, Hoult will be seen as Nux the driver in Mad Max: Fury Road opposite Hardy and Charlize Theron; he'll reprise his role as Beast in a Singer-directed X-Men: Days Of Future Past; and he'll appear opposite Michael Shannon and Elle Fanning in the futuristic thriller Young Ones.

However, all work and no play makes Jack — and Nicholas — a dull boy, and Singer suggests there is more to Hoult than meets than ear. "He has a dry, dark, funny side. Every day he came on set with a new routine on how to turn a scene into an X-rated version of Jack The Giant Slayer."

Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays the actor's empowered-princess love interest Isabelle, got a taste of that prankish side when Hoult and Singer pulled a fast one on her while filming on location at Norwich Cathedral in England.

"There were suits of armor lined up and they put a prop guy hiding behind one," she says. "I had to run down the corridor past the armor. Everyone had their iPhones at the ready to record it. I was supposed to yell, 'Jack!' And the prop guy jumps out and grabs me. I had never been so terrified."

Still, Tomlinson forgave her co-star enough to give their lone smooch her best effort. After all, "There are much worse people to kiss than Nicholas Hoult."

Indian actors are making their presence felt in Hollywood

Posted: 03 Mar 2013 08:54 PM PST

MANY of us are familiar with actors from Bollywood, Kollywood as well as Tollywood studios.

Names like Shah Rukh Khan, Kamal Hassan, Rajnikanth and Chiranjeevi have entertained Asian audiences for many years and are now household names in the region.

However, despite their celebrity here in Asia (or maybe because of it) few have made the jump to the other 'wood' – the original Hollywood.

Back in the 80s there always seemed to be the token Asian actor on the cast of many popular television series. Dustin Nguyen sent many teen hearts a-flutter with his tough guy image on 21 Jump Street, Steve Park tickled our funnybones in comedy series In Living Color, while Rosalind Chao took audiences to where no one had gone before in the Star Trek series, treading a path first established by George Takei's Sulu.

These actors would usually be of Oriental descent, but Indian actors did not feature much. One notable performance was that of Amrish Puri who memorably played a demonic priest in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

However, there appears to be a new generation of actors of Indian descent who have forged their own path in Hollywood.

In 2008, the movie Slumdog Millionaire helped establish the likes of Freida Pinto, Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan in Hollywood.

People of Indian descent from England, United States and Canada are also making a name for themselves. Actors like Navi Rawat, Naveen Andrews, Kal Penn and Parminder Nagra have gained fans thanks to their appearences in multiple TV series and movies.

Here's a list of actors/actress of full or partial Indian descent who are gracing our screens.

Sir Ben Kingsley

Who can forget his portrayal of Gandhi in 1982? Krishan Pandit Bhanji, better known as Ben Kingsley, is a respected actor and has won many awards, from Bafta to the Oscars. Born to an Indian father and British mother in England, he changed his name to help further his career. He made his debut in Fear Is The Key, but his big break came in 1982 when he acted in Gandhi. Other than Gandhi, other famous movies that he has acted is Schindler's List, AI: Artificial Intelligence, Hugo and Prince of Persia. Still, Love Guru, The Wackness and War Inc were panned by critics and he has the dubious distinction of being nominated three times for the Worst Supporting Actor for the 2008 Golden Raspberry Award. Now 69, he is still very active in Hollywood and in 2013, we will see the evergreen actor in Iron Man 3 and Ender's Game.

Kal Penn

Suresh Kalpen Modi aka Kal Penn is known for his roles as Dr Lawrence Kutner on the television program House and Kumar Patel in the Harold and Kumar comedy films. Known for his witty jokes and jovial character, Kal Penn is more than a comedian and actor. His film debut came in 1998 in Express: Aisle to Glory and he's since appeared in American Desi, Dude, Where's the Party?, Superman Returns, Epic Movie, The Namesake and of course the Harold and Kumar series. Penn says that he derived his acting name as a lark: "As a joke to prove friends wrong, I put 'Kal Penn' on my resume and photos." According to Penn, his audition callbacks rose by 50 percent. He prefers his birth name and uses "Kal Penn" only for professional purposes. Penn was also an advocate for Barack Obama's presidential campaign and a member of Obama's National Arts Policy Committee. In early 2009, Penn accepted the position of Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement in the Obama administration. He also was in the popular series How I Met Your Mother, striking a blow for rotund Indian men when dating Cobie Smulders on the show.

Naveen Andrews

Naveen William Sidney Andrews is a British actor best known for portraying Kip in the film The English Patient and Sayid Jarrah on the American television series Lost. The 44-year-old was at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Ewan McGregor and David Thewlis. He got his break in Hanif Kureshi's film, London Kills Me (1991). In 2006, he was voted one of People magazine's World's Most Beautiful People. He also starred in Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996), Mighty Joe Young (1998) and Bride and Prejudice (2004). This year, he is expected to essay the role of Dr Hasnat Khan in one of the most anticipated feature films of 2013, Diana.

Irrfan Khan

Jaipur-born Irrfan Khan's English-language mainstream work includes roles in movies like Slumdog Millionaire, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Life of Pi, as well as HBO series In Treatment. Khan has won three Filmfare Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and an Independent Spirit Award nomination. He is also the recipient of 2011 Padma Shri award, the fourth-highest civilian award in India. He will always be remembered for his role in Slumdog Millionaire. Director Danny Boyle said of his portrayal of a cop ... "he has an instinctive way of finding the "moral centre" of any character, so that in Slumdog, we believe the policeman might actually conclude that Jamal is innocent".

Freida Pinto

Before Slumdog Millionaire, Pinto anchored the international travel show, Full Circle, on Zee International Asia Pacific from 2006 till 2008. In Slumdog, she playing the role of Latika. Pinto was nominated for "Best Actress in a Supporting Role" at the 2009 BAFTA Awards. In 2009, she was featured in People magazine's "Most Beautiful People List", and "List of World's Best Dressed Women". Pinto co-starred in Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, opposite James Franco. She also scored in Immortals, playing the oracle priestess Phaedra.

Parminder Nagra

Parminder Nagra rose to international prominence in 2002 after starring in Bend It Like Beckham. Following the movie's success, she starred as Dr Neela Rasgotra in the American medical drama series ER for six years until its end in 2009. Bend It Like Beckham was Nagra's breakthrough film, and she took the role very seriously – training up to nine hours daily just to hone her football skills. Nagra received critical acclaim for her performance in that movie and was awarded the Fifa Presidential Award in 2002. Other winners include Sir Alex Ferguson and Franz Beckenbauer, so it's not an award to be scoffed at.

Archie Panjabi

Archie Panjabi is known to many from her portrayal of Kalinda Sharma in The Good Wife – a role which won her an Emmy Award. The 40-year-old has experience in both film and television, from early appearances in the 1999 comedy film East is East to the BBC television series Life on Mars. Her first Hollywood role was in the Oscar-winning The Constant Gardener in 2005, but one of her highest-profile roles was in the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, which also featured Parminder Nagra. In 2007, Panjabi appeared with Angelina Jolie in the movie adaptation of A Mighty Heart, where she played a journalist.

Kunal Nayyar

Kunal Nayyar's success is indicative of how widely-accepted Indian accents are these days. Those who have watched The Big Bang Theory and Ice Age: Continental Drift would be familiar with the roles he played, Rajesh Koothrappali and Gupta the Bengali Badger respectively. A University of Portland graduate, Nayyar started off acting in commercials and London musicals. After roles in plays such as Huck & Holden and co-writing Cotton Candy, made a guest appearance in the long-running series, NCIS. His agent then got wind of a role for a scientist in an upcoming CBS pilot and encouraged him to audition. This led to his casting in the The Big Bang Theory and the rest is history!

Sendhil Ramamurthy

Sendhil Ramamurthy was born in Chicago to Indian migrants. He started his career in theatre with roles in A Servant of Two Masters, Indian Ink and East Is East. His break in movies came when he appeared in Love & Debate, and continued with roles in Orient Express, Blind Dating, and It's a Wonderful Afterlife. He has made appearances on several hit TV shows including Grey's Anatomy, CSI: Miami. His biggest role to date has been his portrayal of Mohinder Suresh on Heroes. Although the character was originally written for a 55-year-old, his screen test was so convincing that the part was re-written for him. The 29-year-old actor is currently acting in TV series Beauty and the Beast.

Vik Sahay

Vikram Sahay is a Canadian actor who featured in the TV series, Chuck, where he played Lester Patel, a geek with some serious issues. Sahay was born in Ottawa, Canada to Indian parents and studied Theatre Performance at Montreal's Concordia University. He even has Indian classical dance training, a talent he showcased together with his brother Sidharth Sahay on 1986's You Can't Do That On Television. He might just be the second funniest Canadian of Indian descent after Russell Peters!

Navi Rawat

Navlata Rawat is famed for her roles in TV series The OC and Numb3rs. Now 39, Rawat was born in Malibu, California, to an Indian father and a German mother. She had a guest role as Melanie in the first season of 24 and her work in film includes the sci-fi Thoughtcrimes(2003), the Project Greenlight film Feast (2005), and the independent romantic comedy Loveless in Los Angeles (2006).

Adhir Kalyan

Russel Dunbar (David Spade) and Timir 'Timmy' Patel (Adhir Kalyan) share a chemistry in Rules of Engagement that is lauded by many critics. The South African born actor has acted in comedy movies such as Paul Blart: The Mall Cop, Up in the Air and No Strings Attached. His love for theatre was evident since young as he performed a number of productions in South Africa, including theatrical adaptations of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol.

Behind the lens

M.Night Shyamalan

Manoj Shyamalan or better known as M. Night Shyamalan, is lauded screenwriter, film director, and producer known for making movies with contemporary supernatural plots including The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), Signs (2002), The Village (2004), Lady in the Water (2006), The Happening (2008) and The Last Airbender (2010). Shyamalan made his first film as a student – the semi-autobiographical drama Praying with Anger. Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense, was a commercial success and nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

Naren Shanker

Naren Shankar is a writer, producer and director of several television series. As a writer, Shankar has contributed with works for Farscape, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Night Visions, The Outer Limits,The Chronicle, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, seaQuest 2032, Grimm and Star Trek: Voyager. As a producer Shankar has worked with UC: Undercover and Farscape. He also contributed to Doom. He is currently the executive producer and writer of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Jay Chandrasekhar

Jayanth Jambulingam "Jay" Chandrasekhar is best known for directing and starring in Broken Lizard's films Super Troopers, Club Dread, and Beerfest and also directed The Dukes of Hazzard. He was also a guest director for some TV Series notably Chuck and Psych. Chandrasekhar guest-starred alongside his cousin Sendhil Ramamurthy in a 2009 episode of Psych which he also directed. His next movie is Yogi Bear 2 which he is directing and co-writing.

An enhanced version of this story is available on the tablet app The Star's Editor Choice March 4 edition.


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Lack of maintenance in Brickfields sparks concern

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 04:57 AM PST

RESIDENTS living at Jalan Thambi Abdullah 1 in Brickfields are concerned over the lack of maintenance by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) in the area and want action to be taken to resolve various issues.

Speaking on behalf of the residents, retired civil servant A.W. Sevajee said he had written two letters to DBKL on Nov 22 last year and on Feb 25, but to no avail.

"The main issues here include a large pothole at the junction of Jalan Thambi Abdullah 1, overgrown bran­ches blocking signboards and clogged pavement drainage inlets, among others," said the 66-year-old, adding that the yellow marker on a hump along the road also needed fresh paint.

"The large pothole is a problem for motorists as we have no choice but to land in it if another vehicle passes in the opposite direction. At the end of the day, we have to incur additional expenses as we have to change our tyres" he said.

Sevajee said as Jalan Thambi Abdullah 1 was a narrow road, another concern were the vehicles parked on the yellow line.

"I am a senior citizen and so are some of the residents here. Therefore, it can be difficult for us to drive and reverse our vehicles when cars are parked along the road shoulder.

"I understand that parking is a big concern in Brickfields but we need some kind of enforcement to stop people from parking on the yellow line," said Sevajee, who hoped that once the Pines Bazaar project was completed, people would not have to park along the road anymore.

He said he hoped DBKL would look into the matter immediately and take the necessary action.

New fund to revive management of ageing buildings in Old Klang Road

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 04:55 AM PST

THE old flats in Taman Seri Sentosa off Old Klang Road, Kuala Lumpur, will get a new lease of life soon when a new fund is set up to rejuvenate dead and non-active Joint Management Bodies (JMB) and Joint Management Committees (JMC) in the township's flats.

Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik said the fund, once approved, would see the management of old flats in not just Seri Sentosa but also other townships in the city being revived.

"Take the flats here (Taman Seri Sentosa), for instance. They are all in a bad state after the developer handed them over to the residents. The building is falling into disrepair.

"What we plan to do is help get the JMB and JMC in order again," he said, adding that the concept was still being discussed in Cabinet.

The minister also addressed issues pertaining to missing drain covers, rubbish collection and other infrastructure problems in the township.

Nong Chik said the Government was doing everything it could to make living conditions better for Seri Sentosa residents.

"I have been working here for the past 25 years and there are still many things that need to be done," he said.

He added that the Lembah Pantai task force had set up a Pusat 1Malay­sia office in the township to help improve the living conditions of the residents.

Task force co-ordinator for the area, Chua Hock Kuan, said they had been helping the residents resolve all kinds of problems.

"The majority of the residents here are above 60 and many do not know who to ask for help to resolve problems such as clogged drains or missing manhole covers.

"We help them direct these problems to Kuala Lumpur City Hall," said Chua.


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Josh Groban keeps rocking the boat

Posted: 04 Mar 2013 12:07 AM PST

LOS ANGELES (Los Angeles Times/MCT) -- Last month Josh Groban's All That Echoes knocked Justin Bieber's new album out of the top spot on the Billboard 200, and that's not the crooner's only incursion into territory normally reserved for pop stars.

The crossover artist's latest release features material by Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Webb, while a deluxe edition adds Groban's take on the Dave Matthews Band's frat-house staple Satellite. The album's producer? Rob Cavallo of Green Day and Adam Lambert fame.

"Rob told me, 'Make your wheelhouse bigger. You have more in you than you think you do,'" Groban, 31, said recently over coffee in West Hollywood.

Bookishly stylish in a wool cardigan and slim-fit jeans, the singer -- an L.A. native who ascended the music industry's ranks in the early 2000s with a series of records long on sweeping semi-operatic fare -- measured his thoughts as he spoke, though he also kept an eye on a big-screen television showing an NFL playoff game.

"He really kind of mentally slapped me around and said, 'Look, we'll know when it's too far.'"

Groban's outreach to pop and rock reflects a larger trend in the classical-crossover scene that encompasses platinum-selling artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman and Charlotte Church: Where these singers once strove to make classical repertoire safe for pop audiences, they now seem more interested in remaking pop as the stuff of everyday sophistication.

On Bocelli's Passione -- which bowed at No.2 on the album chart after its release in January -- the blind Italian tenor familiar from seemingly countless PBS specials shares lush duets with Jennifer Lopez and Nelly Furtado and applies a coat of Mediterranean lacquer to Neil Diamond's September Morn.

The Tenors, from Canada, used their recent Lead With Your Heart to mingle Nessun Dorma with Elton John's Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.

The Croatian duo 2Cellos performs songs by Rihanna, Muse and the Police on its new In2ition, which features guest vocals from singers including John and the electro-pop starlet Sky Ferreira.

And on an album due in the U.S. in April, Brightman is set to take on a tune by the Icelandic art-rock band Sigur Ros.

The classical-crossover genre "has definitely grown," said David Foster, the producer and songwriter (and current Verve Music Group chairman) who helped develop the style with his work on Bocelli's and Groban's early records.

A longtime music-industry fixture responsible for huge hits in the early and mid-'90s by singers such as Whitney Houston and Celine Dion, Foster said he turned to more traditional material after Britney Spears and 'N Sync ushered in the teen-pop sound in the late '90s.

"Being 50 years old at the time, I was left behind," Foster said with a laugh. "But by then I'd learned some important advice, which is to retreat and attack in another direction." The impetus was commercial, he admitted: "I wanted to keep selling CDs." But success secured more artistic freedom.

"If there's one thing I've done since that turn in my own career, it's that I've tried not to set any rules in this genre." It's an openness that Foster said attracts a star like Lopez to a project like Passione, which he produced.

"I said to her manager, 'From where I sit, this doesn't alienate one person in her fan base,'" Foster recalled. "'It can only get her new fans.'"

Groban, scheduled to headline the Hollywood Bowl's 4 July Fireworks Spectacular, isn't immune to such concerns about his audience.

Three years after having the No.1-selling album of 2007, the holiday disc Noel, Groban initiated his move toward pop with Illuminations. Co-written under the supervision of rock/hip-hop producer Rick Rubin, the album was satisfying creatively, says Groban, but it didn't sell nearly as well as its predecessors. It was an experience that left the singer feeling "a little gun-shy" about further experimentation.

"The music-business side of me for a minute was like, I read the Amazon reviews of Illuminations," Groban said. "What do the fans want to hear?"

Whatever the answer, he decided against a return to his initial style. Indeed, with its electric guitar and muscular rock drumming, All That Echoes, feels in some ways bolder -- less classical, more crossover -- than the quieter Illuminations.

Groban delivers sharp melodic hooks with arena-ready gusto in Brave and False Alarms, which he co-wrote. And he closes the album with a stirring rendition of Wonder's I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) that climaxes with R&B vocal runs better suited to the church than to the cathedral.

"This is an evolution record for Josh," said Cavallo, who also heads Groban's label, Warner Bros. Records. "He's classical, but he's also rock; he's traditional but also modern. I think we're just starting to see what he's all about."

Groban said that push toward self-definition needn't equate to a journey out of the pop-classical scene. Referring to acts such as the Tenors and Bocelli -- the latter of whom Groban famously stood in for during a 1999 Grammy Awards rehearsal -- the singer insisted, "I'm proud to be (associated) with artists of that caliber."

But like many of those peers, he sees room within the genre for change. At this point, he said, "the formula bores the hell out of me."


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