Ahad, 9 Jun 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Woman who threw eggs at Simon Cowell won't be charged

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 08:33 PM PDT

LONDON (Reuters) - A woman who threw eggs at international talent show guru Simon Cowell during the finals of the popular television contest Britain's Got Talent will not face charges, show organisers said on Sunday.

Cowell was one of four judges watching two brothers singing during the live televised performance on Saturday night when a viola player ran from the back of the stage and threw several eggs at him before being removed by security staff.

Cowell removed his jacket and the show continued.

The woman was later named as Natalie Holt, 30, a member of the brothers' backing group, who had competed in the same talent show last year with her string ensemble Raven Quartet, without much success.

"As a result of her misguided actions, the police were called. However, we have decided to take no further action at this stage," said a spokeswoman for the show.

In the statement, released by the show's organisers, Holt apologised to the brothers, Richard and Adam, for overshadowing their performance, saying she realised that "it was a silly thing to do".

But she was less contrite in comments to the Telegraph website, saying: "I basically took a stand against people miming on television and against Simon and his dreadful influence on the music industry."

Cowell is the mastermind behind global TV franchises such as The X Factor and Got Talent that are often accused of creating overnight stars without real talent, and of fuelling a culture of celebrity.

Cowell has become a household name in his native Britain through appearing as the acerbic judge on several of his shows.

The seventh series of Britain's Got Talent was won by a Hungarian shadow dancing group called Attraction, who took home 250,000 pounds and will perform for Queen Elizabeth.

The final was watched by an average of 11.1 million people, on a par with last year's final.

Fast and fabulous

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 02:34 AM PDT

Jaime Dempsey explores Malaysia on a motorcycle and wants you to come along for the ride.

Always game to try new things, Jaime Dempsey decided to send in an audition tape to host a new series on the History Channel called Ride N' Seek.

It helped that the 37-year-old American has been riding motorbikes for 17 years, and was very keen to explore Malaysia on a two-wheeler. What is amazing about her story is that she heard about the job from a friend of a friend who lives in Malaysia.

She shares: "I have some friends who live out here, from when I went to school in the UK. We stayed in touch, and through word of mouth 'it' found me. It was a total fluke ... It was just destiny."

In person, Dempsey is a pretty blonde who laughs easily and is very chatty, especially about her experiences with bikes and travelling around Malaysia.

Wearing a sleeveless T-shirt (to show off the two colourful tattoos on her arms) and jeans, she looks comfortable being the centre of attention even though this is her first gig as a TV host.

According to Dempsey, her regular job is as an assistant designer (swimwear) for a company in California, where she lives, which brings her in close contact with the surfer and snowboarder community – "People who look like me. So I fit in there."

The Illinois-born Dempsey was taught by her then-boyfriend how to ride a bike. As she got more confident, she wanted to ride the bike herself and took a motorcycle course to learn how to be safe on the road.

She loves being on a bike compared to being in a car as all her senses are engaged and it allows her "to zip through traffic, especially in LA, which is a major plus. Once I get behind the car, I'm like ugh, it's so slow."

Over the years, she has owned bikes like a 1972 Yamaha XS650, Harley Iron 883 and a Ducati Monster 695. For Ride N' Seek, she wanted to bring "a little piece of home" with her, so she decided to ride a Harley, which got her a lot of thumbs up whenever she stopped at a traffic light in Malaysia.

Starting her journey in Johor, Ride N' Seek sees her travelling to a new state (Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan, Penang, Perak, Selangor and Malacca) in every episode.

At these locations, she does different activities like driving a Formula One car, riding an ostrich, feeding a 130-year-old crocodile, waking up in a houseboat on Lake Kenyir, and jumping into water and letting hundreds of fishes nibble on her.

During the three months of filming, she fell in love with Malaysian food.

"You would think that I would have lost some weight from all that sweating because the heat here is intense. But I ate so much food – I love the spicy assam laksa in Penang, so good! And I had cendol just about every place I went and drank about three teh ais a day," she concludes with a laugh.

> Ride N' Seek premieres tonight at 10pm on the History Channel (Astro Ch 555 and Ch 575).

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In the hot seat

In the hot seat

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 04:48 PM PDT

Ride N' Seek host Jaime Dempsey answers five burning questions.

How do you deal with helmet hair?

Helmet hair is a huge problem (laughs). I had my hair down for the first episode, but every time I took the helmet off, I would just be drenched in sweat. So I had it up for the rest of the time.

But normally, I keep, like, a brush or comb on me and a hair band around my wrist. That's what I do.

Can you ride pillion?

No, not a fan. I used to love it; that's what got me riding motorcycles. But now that I've got my own (bike), I am never riding in the back again. Never.

How many tattoos do you have?

I don't know. Too many to count (laughs). I started 17 years ago and they all have different meanings.

It's all part of the biker culture. Once you start, you can't stop.

Do you have a favourite stretch for riding?

Where I live there is a road called the Pacific Coast Highway. It stretches along the entire coast of California and there are a lot of different places to stop along the way.

So me and a bunch of other bikers – all guys, of course, because I can't find any girls to ride with – go up the coast, stop and watch the surfers, then just ride through the canyon. California has pretty nice places for riding.

Did you pass the motorcycle course the first time you took it?

I passed with flying colours.

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Fast and fabulous

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The Star Online: World Updates

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Explosions, gunfire heard around Kabul international airport

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 07:32 PM PDT

KABUL (Reuters) - Insurgents launched a pre-dawn attack on Afghanistan's main international airport in the capital, Kabul, on Monday, police said, with explosions and gunfire heard coming from an area that also houses major foreign military bases.

Afghan police arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul June 10, 2013. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Afghan police arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul June 10, 2013. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

There were no immediate reports of casualties and there was also no early claim of responsibility for the attack.

Attacks on the heavily guarded airport, used by civilians and the military, are relatively rare and would represent an ambitious target for insurgents, with recent assaults staged against less well-protected targets.

The airport, by comparison, is home to a major operational base for NATO-led forces that have been fighting Taliban and other insurgents for 12 years and is bristling with soldiers and police, guard towers and several lines of security checkpoints.

Police said the attack appeared to be centred on the military side of the airport, to the west of the civilian terminal.

"Gunmen have entered a house under construction in the west of Kabul airport and are fighting with security forces," Kabul police spokesman Hashmatullah Stanekzai said.

"Their target is Kabul airport and all roads to it are sealed," he said.

A spokesman for the Afghan Air Force, which is also based at the facility, also said the airport was the target of the attack. There are also a number of logistics bases in the area.

The attack began at about 4.30 a.m. (2400 GMT). Embassies in the diplomatic zone in the centre of Kabul were quickly locked down and emergency alarms were heard ringing loudly from the British embassy.

Reuters witnesses reported hearing explosions at the airport, with reports of rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire. Blasts still being heard an hour after the attack was launched.

Concerns are mounting over how the 352,000-strong Afghan security forces will cope with an intensifying insurgency once most foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The airport attack came soon after assaults on the International Organisation for Migration in Kabul and against the International Committee of the Red Cross in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

Four people were killed and three wounded in those attacks.

In April 2011, a rogue Afghan air force officer shot and killed eight U.S. servicemen and a civilian contractor in the worst attack at the airport since the war began.

(Additional reporting by Dylan Welch and Omar Sobhani; Writing by Dylan Welch; Editing by Paul Tait)

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Ex-CIA man says exposed U.S. spy scheme to protect world

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 06:43 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An ex-CIA employee working as a contractor at the U.S. National Security Agency revealed on Sunday it was he who leaked details of a top secret U.S. surveillance program, acting out of conscience to protect "basic liberties for people around the world."

U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is pictured during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong June 9, 2013. The 29-year-old contractor at the NSA revealed top secret U.S. surveillance programmes to alert the public of what is being done in their name, the Guardian newspaper reported on Sunday. Snowden, a former CIA technical assistant who was working at the super-secret NSA as an employee of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, is ensconced in a hotel in Hong Kong after leaving the United States with secret documents. REUTERS/Ewen MacAskill/The Guardian/Handout

U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is pictured during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong June 9, 2013. The 29-year-old contractor at the NSA revealed top secret U.S. surveillance programmes to alert the public of what is being done in their name, the Guardian newspaper reported on Sunday. Snowden, a former CIA technical assistant who was working at the super-secret NSA as an employee of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, is ensconced in a hotel in Hong Kong after leaving the United States with secret documents. REUTERS/Ewen MacAskill/The Guardian/Handout

Holed up in a hotel room in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden, 29, said he had thought long and hard before publicizing details of an NSA program code-named PRISM, saying he had done so because he felt the United States was building an unaccountable and secret espionage machine that spied on every American.

Snowden, a former technical assistant at the CIA, said he had been working at the super-secret NSA as an employee of contractor Booz Allen. He said he decided to leak information after becoming disenchanted with President Barack Obama, whom he said had continued the policies of predecessor George W. Bush.

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things ... I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under," he told the Guardian, which published a video interview with him on its website.

Both the Guardian and the Washington Post published revelations last week that U.S. security services had monitored data about phone calls from Verizon and Internet data from large companies such as Google and Facebook.

The news came just before - and grabbed much attention from - a U.S.-China summit at the weekend at which Obama confronted Chinese President Xi Jinping over allegations of cyber theft, which the Washington Post reported included data from nearly 40 U.S. military weapons programs.

In naming Snowden on Sunday, the newspapers said he had sought to be identified.

"The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything," Snowden said in explaining his actions.

"With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards," he said.


The Guardian said Snowden had been working at the NSA for four years as a contractor for outside companies.

Three weeks ago, he copied the secret documents at the NSA office in Hawaii and told his supervisor he needed "a couple of weeks" off for treatment for epilepsy, the paper said. On May 20 he flew to Hong Kong.

The CIA and the White House declined to comment, while a spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence would not comment directly about Snowden himself but said the intelligence community was reviewing damage done by the recent leaks.

"Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law," said the spokesman, Shawn Turner.

The NSA has requested a criminal probe into the leaked information. On Sunday, the U.S. Justice Department said it was in the initial stages of a criminal investigation following the leaks.

Booz Allen, a U.S. management and technology consultancy, said reports of the leaked information were "shocking and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation" of company policy.

It said Snowden had been employed by the company for less than three months and that it would cooperate with any investigations.

A spokesman for Dell Inc declined to comment on reports that Snowden had been employed at that company. In 2009, Dell acquired Perot Systems, a U.S. government contractor that did work for U.S. intelligence agencies.

Snowden's decision to reveal his identity and whereabouts lifts the lid on one of the biggest security leaks in U.S. history and escalates a story that has placed a bright light on Obama's extensive use of secret surveillance.

The exposure of the secret programs has triggered widespread debate within the United States and abroad about the vast reach of the NSA, which has expanded its surveillance dramatically in since the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York in 2001.

U.S. officials say the agency operates within the law. Some members of Congress have indicated support for the NSA activities, while others pushed for tougher oversight and possible changes to the law authorizing the surveillance.


Snowden's decision to go public could expose him to the wrath of the U.S. authorities. The Guardian compared him to Bradley Manning, an American soldier now on trial for aiding the enemy after passing classified military and State Department files to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

One legal expert was puzzled as to why Snowden fled to Hong Kong, because it has an extradition treaty with the United States while mainland China does not.

In routine criminal cases, unlike this one, Hong Kong had shown a willingness in recent years to extradite people to face charges in the United States, he said.

In the video, Snowden said that "Hong Kong has a strong tradition of free speech."

Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, but still enjoys some autonomy in business and governmental functions.

Douglas McNabb, a Houston lawyer who specializes in extradition, said it would not be difficult for the United States to provide justification for its request. "This guy came out and said, 'I did it,'" he said. "His best defense would probably be that this is a political case instead of a criminal one."

The treaty would allow Hong Kong to hold Snowden for 60 days while Washington prepares a formal extradition request, but prohibits extradition for political cases.

Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department attorney who represents whistleblowers, told Reuters that Snowden had become "one of the most significant leakers ... in U.S. history."

She said she hoped his case could become "a watershed moment that could change the war on whistleblowers and the broader war on information."

Snowden, who said he had left his girlfriend in Hawaii without telling her where he was going, said he knew the risk he was taking, but thought the publicity his revelations had garnered in the past few days had made it worth it.

"My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with," he said. "I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I am not going to be able to communicate with them. They (the authorities) will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night."

He spoke of his willingness to give up a comfortable life in Hawaii, where he earned about $200,000 a year: "I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."

In the video interview, the bespectacled, lightly bearded Snowden looked relaxed. He said he was ultimately hoping that Iceland, which values internet freedom, might grant him asylum.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Osborn and Peter Graff in London; David Morgan, John Shiffman, David Ingram and Andrea Shalal-Esa in Washington; Jim Finkle in Boston; Editing by Peter Graff, Christopher Wilson and David Brunnstrom)

Related Stories:
In Hong Kong, ex-CIA man may not escape U.S. reach

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

Turkey's Erdogan warns patience with protests will run out

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 06:01 PM PDT

ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warned protesters who have taken to the streets across Turkey demanding his resignation that his patience has its limits and compared the unrest with an army attempt six years ago to curb his power.

Anti-government protesters wave flags during a protest at Kizilay Square in central Ankara, June 9, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Anti-government protesters wave flags during a protest at Kizilay Square in central Ankara, June 9, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Riot police used teargas and water cannon to disperse anti-government protesters from a square in the capital, Ankara, just a few kilometres from where Erdogan spoke.

He held six rallies on Sunday, a measure of tensions after a week of the biggest demonstrations and worst rioting of his decade in power. Thousands waved red Turkish flags and shouted Allahu Akbar (God Is Greatest) as he accused protesters of attacking women wearing headscarves and desecrating mosques by taking beer bottles into them.

"I believe in Erdogan and his path. We will not let some looters hijack our country and our flag," said a housewife who gave her name as Zeynep, waving a national flag with Erdogan's picture emblazoned on it.

In the commercial centre Istanbul, tens of thousands flooded the central Taksim Square, where protests began nine days ago when police used teargas and water cannon against a peaceful demonstration over plans to build on a park there. Many see Turkey's secular order threatened by Erdogan.

Protesters, many camped out in tents, now control a large area around the square, with approach roads barricaded by masonry, paving stones and steel rods. Police have withdrawn completely from the area, water cannon kept hundreds of metres away by the side of the Bosphorus waterway.

Western countries have held up Erdogan's Turkey as an example of an Islamic democracy that could be emulated elsewhere in the Middle East. Violent police action, however, has drawn criticism from the West and Erdogan has increasingly accused foreign forces of trying to aggravate the troubles.

He also rounded on speculators, foreign and domestic, in the country's capital markets, vowing to "choke" those who he said were growing rich off "the sweat of the people", and urging Turks to put their money in state not private banks.

"Those who attempt to sink the bourse, you will collapse ... If we catch your speculation, we will choke you. No matter who you are, we will choke you," he said.

Turkey's financial markets were turbulent last week and investors are preparing for more volatility this week.

Early on Friday, the lira hit its weakest point against its euro/dollar basket since October 2011, while Istanbul's main share index lost around 15 percent over the week. The yield of Turkey's two-year benchmark sovereign bond hit a six-month high on Thursday.


Three people have been killed and around 5,000 injured in the troubles rocking a country faced with war across its southern border with Syria.

"We were patient, we will be patient, but there is an end to patience, and those who play politics by hiding behind the protesters should first learn what politics means," Erdogan said, in one of his most strongly worded speeches since the troubles began.

Erdogan did not specify who he thought was 'hiding behind the protesters'; but one of his proudest achievements has been in combating a conservative secularist establishment, especially an army that had toppled four governments in four decades.

Erdogan, who critics say has become authoritarian after three election victories in a row, compared the troubles with a confrontation with the army that became known as the "e-Coup".

"Today, we are exactly where we were on April 27, 2007."

On that date, the army issued a memorandum on its website denouncing plans to have Abdullah Gul, co-founder with Erdogan of the AK Party, appointed as president. The move would give AKP broad control over the state apparatus and the generals suggested they could act to stop it in defence of secularism.

Erdogan's government had been expected, like others before it, to bow to the will of the military. But it faced down the army, chided it publicly for its intervention and went ahead with Gul's appointment.

It was a definitive moment in relations with the military, many of whose top generals have since been jailed after investigation of alleged coup plots against Erdogan.

The Ergenekon plot had hinged on stirring widespread protests throughout Turkey and public disorder, followed then by bombings and assassinations that would clear the way for an army takeover to restore order.

Erdogan clearly feels there are potentially powerful forces still ranged against him.

Underscoring the drama of the moment, Erdogan, who denies Islamist ambitions for Turkey, made reference to two of his political models - former prime minister Adnan Menderes, hanged after a 1960 coup, and Turgut Ozal, a reforming president who some believe was poisoned to death.

"My beloved brothers, we're walking towards a better Turkey. Don't allow those who attempt to plant divisive seeds to do so," Erdogan said at another speech in the southern city of Adana on Sunday, from atop of a bus emblazoned with his picture and the AK Party's slogan, "Big Country, Big Power".

(Editing by Nick Tattersall and Andrew Heavens)

Related Stories:
Turkey's Erdogan vows to 'choke' financial speculators

Copyright © 2013 Reuters

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The Star Online: Business

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Public Invest maintains "Outperform" on DRB-Hicom, TP RM3.53

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 07:23 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Public Invest Research is maintaining its "Outperform" rating on DRB-Hicom Bhd with a target price of RM3.53 as it favours DRB for its cross-selling and the positive outlook on its automotive division.

We believe its current share price is attractive and not fully reflecting the underlying value of vast assets within the group,' it said.

It said DRB's property division is expected to increase its contribution to the group and see considerable operational and marketing synergies between Bank Muamalat and Pos Malaysia in its services sector.

"The extensive reach of Pos Malaysia, with more than 700 post offices and 300 pos mini will enable Bank Muamalat to grow its Islamic banking services to many parts of Malaysia, in particular the rural areas which are normally underserved," it said.

However DRB risks turning around Proton but it expects the firm to partner with global players such as Honda or Volkswagen to revive Proton.

It added weaker economy and lower disposable income would also dampen car demand and the disposal of assets at a lower price would affect its valuation.

"Foreign shareholdings of DRB increased to 20.9% as at financial year 2013 from 15.2% in 2011. As such, any sell-down by foreign investors may weigh on its share price," it said.

Public Invest said it projects DRB's financial year 2014 core earnings to RM370mil.

"As for its services segment, its loss of income from the disposal of Hicom Power, which contributed RM57.4mil in finaicial year 2012, will weigh down its earnings, but it will be partly offset by improved earnings from Bank Muamalat," it said.


KLCI rallies in early trade, PetDag, HLFG up

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 07:03 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's blue chips surged in early trade on Monday, kicking off the new week on a strong note in line with firmer key regional markets, underpinned by gains in Petronas Dagangan and HLFG.

At 9.50am, the FBM KLCI was up 13.11 points to 1,788.70. Turnover was 387.77 million shares valued at RM257.39mil. There were 463 gainers, 71 losers and 183 counters unchanged.

Hwang DBS Vickers Research (HDBSVR) said that driven by optimistic economic growth outlook, major equity indices on Wall Street jumped between 1.3% and 1.4% last Friday.

It said sentiment was boosted by expectations that the US Federal Reserve might not taper down the quantitative easing program anytime soon. "This may set the stage for Asian bourses to make a technical rebound following last week's heavy losses.

"Back home, the benchmark FBM KLCI - which was the only stock bellwether out of the 11 regional exchanges tracked by us to post a weekly gain - could rise towards the immediate resistance threshold of 1,785," it said.

Among the KLCI stocks, Petronas Dagangan rose 48 sen to RM26.40 and HLFG gained 32 sen to RM15.32 while KL Kepong 26 sen to RM21.70 and Petronas Gas 22 sen to RM21.42 and BAT 20 sen to RM64.

Goldsta fell the most, down 11 sen to RM1.45 in thin trade while MY EG, which had rallied in recent days, shed seven sen to RM1.52. United Plantations fell six sen to RM27.74 and Top Glove five sen to RM6.53.


RHB maintains "Neutral" on Maxis, fair value RM7.15

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 06:48 PM PDT

Monday June 10, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Research is maintaining its "Neutral" call on Maxis Bhd with an unchanged fair value of RM7.15 despite rumours of Ananda exiting Maxis.

RHB said it expects Maxis earnings growth to "remain tepid as margins may still be at risk if device subsidies escalate or cost discipline is not maintained".

It added there was a speculation that Ananda Krishnan may sell his 29% stake in Maxis for RM35bil or RM16 per share, which is double the current market value, however RHB maintains neutral as it involves the holding company Maxis Communications Bhd (MCB).

We found it difficult to see any party who has the financial capability to acquire Ananda's stake or the willingness to pay more than double what Maxis is currently trading at.

"Note that MCB also has mobile operations in India and Indonesia, which partly explains the high valuations. Besides that, Ananda may not need the cash given that he had sold Tanjong Energy Holdings to 1Malaysia Development Bhd for RM5bil last year," it said.

RHB noted without a chief executive officer and an internal reorganization due to departure of several top management staff, RHB expects no changes to Maxis strategic plans even if a new party buys over Ananda's stake.


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The Star Online: Sports

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Vettel wins maiden Canadian Grand Prix

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 04:20 PM PDT

MONTREAL: Sebastian Vettel claimed the 29th victory of his record-breaking career on Sunday when he triumphed for Red Bull at the Canadian Grand Prix for the first time to boost his lead in this year's drivers world championship.

Starting from his third consecutive pole position at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the defending triple world champion came home in unchallenged fashion at the end of a serene showing of dominant driving from the front.

It was the 25-year-old German's third win this season and he delivered it in a time of one hour, 32 minutes and 9.143 seconds. He finished a luxurious 14.408 seconds clear of second-placed Fernando Alonso of Ferrari who fought from sixth on the grid to finish on the podium.

"Yes, we've won Canada, the car was amazing," Vettel said over the team radio.

A clearly delighted Vettel added, after brief boos from Ferrari fans during the podium interviews: "It wasn't that bad - not for us anyway... The sun came out as well so it doesn't get any better.

"We had good races here before but it didn't come together to win, then I lost it in the last lap two years ago which was my fault but I made up for that today."

Lewis Hamilton was third for Mercedes after racing at the front and leading for three laps. It was his third podium finish of the year in seven races with his new team.

Australian Mark Webber came fourth in the second Red Bull ahead of Monaco winner Nico Rosberg in the second Mercedes, Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso - who came home a best-ever sixth - and Briton Paul Di Resta of Force India.

Felipe Massa finished eighth in the second Ferrari, after starting from 16th on the grid, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus and Adrian Sutil in the second Force India.

Raikkonen's result meant he equalled German legend seven-time champion Michael Schumacher's record of 24 consecutive points finishes.

Vettel's win lifted him to 132 points at the top of this year's championship. Alonso is second on 96 and Raikkonen third with 88. Hamilton has 77 in fourth. While Vettel and Red Bull celebrated there was disappointment for Williams.

The British outfit had high hopes of picking up their first points of the season from Valterri Bottas who had qualified in third but were out of luck again when the Finnish rookie trailed in 17th.

McLaren's long run of 64 races in the points came to an end with Mexican Sergio Perez finishing 11th ahead of team-mate Jenson Button.

When the lights went out, Vettel made a perfect clean start. He was clearly relishing the changed conditions after poor weather in qualifying and built up his ultimately race-winning lead in the opening laps.

Behind the leaders, there was plenty of action with Sutil spinning and recovering before being hit by Pastor Maldonado's Williams.

And on lap 36 Webber suffered a setback when Giedo Van Der Garde, in his Caterham, closed 'the door' on him at the hairpin and they collided, Webber losing a section of front wing. The Dutchman was promptly given a stop-and-go penalty.

The battle for second meanwhile was tight, with Alonso, desperate not to give Vettel any gifts in the championship, finally passing Hamilton at the second attempt -following a thrilling failed effort at the hairpin - on lap 63, making best use of the second DRS zone.

Hamilton fought back and the pair touched on the following lap when the Englishman made his move, but Alonso, who had started sixth, secured and defended second in familar fashion. - AFP

Zhengming the only Chinese qualifier yet to beat Chong Wei

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 03:48 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Out of China's four men singles qualifiers for the World Championships in Guangzhou in August, only Wang Zhengming has yet to taste a win over Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei.

However, the 23-year-old has a chance to end his five-year winless run, at the Indonesian Open starting on Wednesday where he has been drawn to meet top seed Chong Wei in the opening round.

A win for Zhengming will surely give China a psychological edge ahead of the world meet.

And the knowledge that all their players had beaten Chong Wei, who is currently their main enemy at the world meet – will surely add a smirk to the face of their national chief coach Li Yongbo.

China's other World Championships-bound players are Chen Long, Du Pengyu and Lin Dan, who despite being ranked 68th in the world, has been given a wild card entry.

Both Chen Long and Du Pengyu are also competing in the Indonesian Open, which is a Premier Super Series event.

Four-time world champion Lin Dan, however, had withdrawn as he wanted to focus on the world meet.

National singles coach Tey Seu Bock said that Chong Wei would treat his opening round match against Zhengming with great caution although the Malaysian has an impressive 7-0 record over his opponent.

Zhengming had come far since his first defeat to Chong Wei at the 2009 Macau Open. In fact, in their recent meeting at the All-England in March, Zhengming gave Chong Wei a run for his money before going down 17-21, 19-21 in the second round.

"I am sure it is Zhengming's mission to upset Chong Wei before the world meet. He will get a lot of support from his team to do so," said Seu Bock.

"I can picture a determined and highly motivated Zhengming on court. Chong Wei cannot take him lightly at all."

Although anticipating a tough match, Seu Bock is quite confident that Chong Wei would pull through.

"Chong Wei is in good condition and is using this tournament as the final "warm-up" before the world meet. This is the last platform for him to gauge all his opponents – especially from China – before the trip to Guangzhou."

BAM: It’s a toss up between HK or Guangzhou

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 05:31 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: It could be Hong Kong or Guangzhou.

The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM)'s exco meeting to be chaired by Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh tomorrow will approve one of these places as the venue for national shuttlers' 10-day centralised training stint ahead of the World Championships in Guangzhou, China from Aug 5-11.

The other matter expected to be finalised during the exco meeting is the date for BAM's general election in July.

Nadzmi is not seeking re-election and BAM's council will have to elect a new leader to helm the association and currently, two of their deputies – Datuk Al-Amin Majid and Tengku Kamil Ismail Tengku Idris Shah – are in the running.

The poor performances of Malaysian players at last month's Sudirman Cup is also expected to be a point of discussion – with the focus mainly on national top men doubles pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong.

Lack of discipline among the shuttlers at the national training centre is also expected to be addressed.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Veteran actress Latifah Omar dies

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 08:47 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Veteran actress Latifah Omar, 74, died of colon ailment at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre (UKMMC), here Sunday.

Her eldest son, Afendi Rahmat, 55, said Latifah had undergone treatment for the ailment at a medical centre in Kampung Baru before being taken to UKMMC to undergo surgery.

"Doctors said her colon was swollen and blocked and had to be operated. The surgery today was to stabilise her but she died at 6.19pm," he told Bernama when met at Masjid Al-Khairiah AU3 here, Sunday night.

Afendi said Latifah's last message was that her body be brought to the mosque for prayers. Burial is expected at AU4 Muslim cemetery at 11am Monday.

Latifah, who leave four children and eight grandchildren, had been ill for some time and was often visited by fellow artistes.

Meanwhile, her cousin, Zalimah Nordin, 64, said Latifah had asked that close relatives living in AU3 area to take care of her. Latifah was one of the earliest Malay movie leading ladies and was often cast beside screen hero Nordin Ahmad. Her death came five days after the death of veteran comedian S. Shamsuddin who died of pneumonia and old age in Singapore.

Latifah starred in classic films such as Panggilan Pulau, Bawang Putih Bawang Merah, Laila Majnun, Putus Sudah Kasih Sayang, Gurindam Jiwa, Hang Jebat and Hati Batu.

She also acted with stars such as P. Ramlee (Tan Sri), Normadiah, Yusof Latif, Saleh Kamil, S. Shamsudin, Siti Tanjung Perak, Omar Rojik, S.Kadarisman and Ibrahim Pendek. - Bernama

Selangor Umno supports no contest for president, dep president psots

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 08:20 AM PDT

TANJUNG KARANG: The Selangor Umno liaison committee supports the proposal for the president and deputy president posts to not be contested at the party election end of this year.

Its deputy chairman, Datuk Seri Noh Omar, said the leadership of president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, should not be challenged because it could weaken the party struggle.

"Although the number of parliamentary seats won by Barisan Nasional (BN) in the 13th general election was less that in the 2008 general election, the number of seats won by Umno increased from 79 to 88.

"Therefore, Selangor Umno will support the prime minister and the deputy prime minister as Umno president and deputy president to continue to lead the party in the 14th general election," he told reporters after a thanksgiving function here Sunday.

Meanwhile, Noh, who is Tanjung Karang Member of Parliament, said he personally felt that the proposal to turn BN into a single party was not appropriate.

In a related development, the Kelantan Umno Youth also support the no contest for the party president and deputy president posts.

Speaking to reporters in Kota Baru Sunday, Kelantan Umno Youth chief Anuar Safian said Najib and Muhyiddin's position as Umno president and deputy president, respectively, should be maintained to strengthen and attract Malay support for the party.

He also suggested that the movement's number one post, currently held by Khairy Jamaluddin, should not be contested also.

The reason being that Khairy had been appointed Youth and Sports Minister and should be given a chance to continue with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's transformation agenda, he added. - Bernama

RMN rescues 7 men from stranded boat

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 08:16 AM PDT

SANDAKAN: The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) rescued seven men after their boat became stranded in waters near the Kinabatangan river here on Saturday.

The Commanding Officer of KD Sri Tiga Lt. Commander Mohd Edie Mohd Khalil said Sunday that in the 2.40pm incident, the boat was heading to Lahad Datu from Sandakan when its main engine broke down.

"Upon receiving an emergency call from them, in about two hours, RMN KD Sri Tiga reached the scene and the crew rescued the seven men including the boat's skipper," he said here.

He said the victims, all Malaysian citizens, were in good condition.

Mohd Edie said the boat then was towed to the navy base in Sandakan.

One of the victims, Abdul Suhaidi Abdul Wahab, 47, when met here, said they became anxious after the boat engine failed to restart, more in bad weather and rough sea conditions.

"We immediately contacted the RMN for help and thankfully they came immediately to provide assistance," he said. - Bernama

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Thanks for the memories

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 01:40 AM PDT

There's a grab bag variety of non-fiction books nominated for this year's Popular-The Star's Readers Choice Awards, ranging from fun and whimsical to serious and thoughtful.

FROM musings about an idyllic childhood to nostalgic thoughts about a beloved Malaysian personality who passed too soon – if you're a fan of non-fiction books, you will have plenty to choose from in this year's Popular-The Star Readers' Choice Awards nominees.

First started in 2008, the Popular-The Star Readers' Choice Awards aim to put the spotlight on the local literary scene, as well as reward readers for participating in the vote to decide the top three authors in the two categories, fiction and non-fiction. The winning authors will each be awarded cash, trophies and certificates of recognition, while readers who vote will stand a chance to win a RM50 Popular book voucher, one year free Popular card membership, and a book hamper worth RM100.

The nominees in each category are the 10 bestselling books in Popular and Harris bookstores nationwide last year. You have until June 23, 2013, to send in your votes for your top three favourite titles in both categories (that's six titles all together).

To vote, you can 1) Fill in the form available at all Popular and Harris bookstores nationwide (you can send in as many forms as you like); 2) you can vote online through popular.com.my, bookfestmalaysia.com or facebook.com/BookFestMalaysia (be the 1,000th person to vote online and you have another chance to win a RM100 book hamper); 3) vote through SMS – read the instructions at the top of the form on the left carefully (don't forget the slogan, or you will be disqualified!).

All nominated books are available at a 20% discount at all Popular and Harris outlets until Sept 1, 2013. To help you make up your mind about which books you might want to buy, here's a brief introduction to the non-fiction nominees:

Dare To Be A Champion: Datuk Lee Chong Wei, who has stayed on top of the badminton male singles' ranking since August 2008, gives a personal account of his road to success, shares his thoughts on some devastating career moments, and talks about his hopes for Malaysian badminton.

Datuk Lee Chong Wei is a silver medallist in badminton at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games. Prime Minister Datuk Najib Tun Razak hailed the most successful Malaysian Olympian in history as the "hero of the nation".

When I Was A Kid: These stories in cartoon format are a reflection of Cheeming Boey's childhood in Johor Baru and how he chose the less popular path to end up becoming an artist/animator in America.

Cheeming Boey's book was inspired by the daily stories he tells at his blog, iamboey.com, which became very popular when his art on Styrofoam cups took off. In his day job, he served as a lead animator in games like Diablo II and III developed by Blizzard Entertainment.

Syed Mokhtar Albukhary: A Biography: Little is known about the private life and background of one of the most recognisable tycoons in Malaysia. While some businessmen take pleasure in seeing their name in print, Albukhary Foundation founder Syed Mokhtar Albukhary has always preferred to keep a low profile. But now, in this book, he is finally sharing details of his family life and how he became the success that he is.

Kuala Lumpur-based Premilla Mohanlall has been writing and editing articles and books since the 1980s. She runs pVm Commuications, a company that specialises in publishing, advertising and public relations.

Telling It Straight: Over the years as a columnist for The Star, Marina Mahathir, the outspoken daughter of former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, asked questions that needed to be asked and has never been afraid of dismissing tired old ways and challenging the status quo. The columns have been collected in this book that, indeed, does exactly what its title says.

Marina Mahathir was among the country's first HIV/AIDS activitists and was for many years the president of the Malaysian AIDS Council; she is currently active as a socio-political blogger and also writes a bi-weekly column called Musings in The Star.

Pedalling Around The Peninsula: Follow the journey of outdoor enthusiast Sandra Loh and friend Mak Shiau Meng as they travel the breadth and length of Peninsular Malaysia on bicycles in 2009. The pair braved exhausting uphill roads, unforgiving weather, reckless lorry drivers, and the occasional straying cow. The journey ended after they cycled over 2,600km in 37 days.

Sandra Loh claims she's the first Malaysian women to cycle around Peninsular Malaysia. With her newly-discovered love for writing, she hopes to inspire readers with her stories and encourage them to follow their dreams.

Kaleidoscope: The Memoirs Of P.g. Lim: This autobiography details the life of a remarkable woman who played a prominent role in Malaysia's early legal and diplomatic history. The late P.G. Lim – she died on May 7 aged 96 – was a personal friend and confidante to all of independent Malaysia's prime ministers.

Tan Sri P.G. Lim was one of the first Malaysian women ever to study in Cambridge. She led a remarkable and eventful life in the heart of Malaysian affairs as, from an early age, she immersed herself in politics, legal issues and was a constant representative of her community and country.

'Yasmin, How You Know?': This book is a compilation of Yasmin Ahmad's wisdom, wit, grin-inducing whimsy, and life-altering advice. The stories were contributed by those close to Yasmin. But the true author is Yasmin herself, a woman whose generosity and love surpassed race, religion and even death itself.

Film director, writer and scriptwriter Yasmin Ahmad died suddenly in 2009 aged 51. Her films like Sepet, Gubra and Talentime as well as her television commercials are well-known for their humour, heart and love that overcomes cross-cultural barriers.

Ampun Tuanku: A Brief Guide To Constitutional Government: In this book, Zaid Ibrahim analyses the unique nature of the Malaysian monarchic system and provides an in-depth history and context to its being.

Zaid Ibrahim is also the author of In Good Faith (2007) and Saya Pun Melayu (2009). He is a prominent lawyer and was formerly a minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of legal affairs and judicial reforms.

Thinking Through Malaysia: Culture And Identity In The 21st Century: Based on original research, the authors provide 12 stimulating chapters of insights into key developments and new perspectives on little-known aspects of Malaysian culture and society.

Julian C.H. Lee is a Global Studies lecturer at RMIT University, Australia. He is also the editor of The Malaysian Way Of Life in 2010 and his articles have appeared in numerous journals. Julian Hopkin's interest in anthropology and sociology was spurred by his multicultural experiences.

Mydin: The Untold Story: Uncover the story behind the rise of Mydin, the world's leading distributor of halal goods and services that currently operates more than 100 outlets nationwide.

Dr Hajah Siti Hawa Mohd is a trainer, speaker and author. As a lecturer, she wrote "Strategi Belajar Lulus Peperiksaan" and co-authored "Pengantar Psikologi", a publication by Oxford for university students. She has also written a number of articles for magazines about women and family.

n The Popular-The Star Readers' Choice Awards 2013 are a precursor to BookFest@Malaysia 2013, which will be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from Aug 3 to 11. Admission is with purchase of the BookFest catalogue (RM2.50 each), which will be available at all Popular and Harris bookstores closer to the event's opening date. Entry is free for students aged 18 and below, and senior citizens aged 60 and above. For more information, visit bookfestmalaysia.com.

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For your consideration

For your consideration

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 01:43 AM PDT

HERE'S the complete list of Popular-The Star Readers' Choice Awards nominees of 2013


1.       The Garden Of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

2.       A Noble Nyonya by Esther Low

3.       King Of The Sea by Dina Zaman

4.       Natasha: She's Coming Back To Kill by Arthur Julian Wu

5.       Love & Struggle: Beyond The Rubber Estates by Dave Anthony

6.       Shadows Beneath The Fronds by Paul Callan

7.       Tiger Isle: A Government Of Thieves by E.S. Shankar

8.       Brickfields & Beyond: Stories From The Past by Balan Moses

9.       Shadow Play by Barbara Ismail

10.       UTube: Inspector Mislan & The UTube Serial Rapes by Rozlan Mohd Noor


1.       Dare To Be A Champion by Lee Chong Wei

2.       When I Was A Kid by Chee Ming Boey

3.       Syed Mokhtar Albukhary: A Biography by Premilla Mohanlall

4.       Telling It Straight by Marina Mahathir

5.       Pedalling Around The Peninsula by Sandra Loh

6.       Kaleidoscope: The Memoirs Of P.G. Lim by P.G. Lim

7.       'Yasmin, How You Know?' by various authors

8.       Ampun Tuanku: A Brief Guide To Constitutional Government by Zaid Ibrahim

9.       Thinking Through Malaysia: Culture And Identity In The 21st Century edited by Julian Hopkins & Julian C.H. Lee

10.       Mydin: The Untold Story by Dr Siti Hawa Mohd

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Thanks for the memories

Medium flame

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 04:20 PM PDT

The latest Robert Langdon novel sticks closely to the tried and true Dan Brown formula.

Author: Dan Brown
Publisher: Bantam Press, 462 pages

READERS might remember that I wrote an article about Dan Brown's Inferno (Will it set us aflame?, Reads, May 12) just a couple of days before it was released, offering my thoughts on what the latest Robert Langdon novel might contain.

Well, after reading said book, I am glad, for my reputation as a bibliophile, that there were more hits than misses in my guesses.

So, let's go through the checklist.

Firstly, is there lots of symbolism?

Of course, there is! Symbols are again a central element of the plot, allowing for Harvard University professor of religious symbology Langdon to do what he does best: unravelling mysteries through clues hidden in symbols and artwork.

There are however, fewer explanations of the unexpected origins of commonplace words or items; possibly because Brown has run out of such interesting trivia to share with us.

There is a secret society of a sort, but not the historical conspiracy-theorist type we have come to expect from a Langdon novel.

This time, the "secret society" is actually a corporation called The Consortium – claimed by Brown to be real, albeit with a different name, with offices in seven countries – which provides covert services that allow its clients "the opportunity to pursue their ambitions and desires without consequen-ces". The Consortium neither judges nor ever breaks its promises to its clients. Even after death, which causes most of the trouble in the story.

Despite the move back to a European setting – most of the action takes place in Florence, Italy – there is no religious or ancient earth-shattering secret driving the plot.

The involvement of Renaissance artwork and symbols in the story is more due to the main villain's obsession with the epic poem The Divine Comedy and its author, Italian poet Dante Aligheiri. ("Inferno" is also the name of the first part of The Divine Comedy.)

The main motivation driving the villain is something much more modern and relevant to mankind: overpopulation and Mother Earth's increasing inability to sustain all us demanding, resource-grabbing humans. Perhaps Brown has run out of secret religious "revelations" to explore; and perhaps the similarly mankind-centric plot from his previous novel, The Lost Symbol, is the start of a trend towards more humanistic themes?

How about the characters then?

There was a male figure that made a dramatic appearance in the book's prologue, as in Brown's other books, but he was not a mentor-type figure to Langdon in any way. He does, however, disappear for the rest of the novel, although his presence haunts the plot.

The intelligent and attractive female sidekick this time is one Dr Sienna Brooks – and believe me, Brown makes sure the reader doesn't forget how attractive she is by frequently, and redundantly, mentioning her physical attributes. And intelligence? This woman is off the charts, with an IQ of 208 measured at the age of seven! Much as I appreciate strong and able female characters, Brown does seem to be indulging himself a little too much with his creation of Dr Brooks.

The main villain is indeed weird and fanatical, but definitely not approaching the heights of albino monk Silas from The Da Vinci Code, Angels And Demons' Hassassin, or even Mal'akh from The Lost Symbol.

And how about the usual twist of a character that changes sides? Yup, check that one off the list too.

As in Brown's previous novels, the action is fast-paced and fairly absorbing. Thankfully, the plot doesn't get too disrupted by unnecessarily lengthy descriptions of this or that symbol or practice, as was the case in The Lost Symbol.

Brown also opts for a non-linear chronology of events, introducing the reader right into the middle of events at the start of the book. He does this by causing Langdon to lose his short-term memory, resulting in him not knowing how or why he is in Florence.

Using this device, Brown is able to then develop the story in a logical, linear manner, allowing readers to follow the symbologist as he discovers – or rediscovers as it may be – clues to why someone seems out to kill him, and what the mysterious object in his jacket is.

Overall, an entertaining thriller, with a rather thought-provoking theme and interesting choice of ending. This is definitely a recommended book for casual readers.

In comparison with the other Langdon novels, though, I would rate it after The Da Vinci Code and Angels And Demons, and before The Lost Symbol.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Decades of Depp

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 08:13 PM PDT

Happy 50th birthday to the dashing Johnny Depp! We take an in-Deppth look at his journey through the decades, with key moments from his life and award-winning career.

1963 - 1972

Born John Christopher Depp II in Owensboro, Kentucky on June 9, 1963, the indrawn child was the youngest of Betty Sue Palmer's and John Christopher Depp's four offspring.

Depp has described himself as a "weird child", perhaps partly due to the stress of coping with an ever-changing environment. After all, his father's job as a civil engineer would see them changing addresses over 20 times - taxing even for adaptable Geminis - before the seven-year-old could call Florida home.

1973 - 1982

Adolescence hit Depp hard. By his dozenth year, Depp had self-harmed, lit his fair share of cigarettes, and experimented with drugs.

To add rock n' roll in the equation, his mother's gift of an electric guitar would ignite the 12-year-old's lifelong love affair with music.

However, that wasn't the only thing that went up in flames. In an attempt to imitate Gene Simmons' fiery stage theatrics, Depp is said to have accidentally set his own face on fire on July 15, 1975 after some tomfoolery with a gasoline-soaked t-shirt! Luckily, it didn't cause too much damage, and he blamed the injuries on a misadventure with fireworks.

Less fortunate was his parents' divorce just three years later. Depp had the unenviable task of collecting weekly child-support money from his father, and the uncomfortable experience would eventually lead to a rift between the two.

A school drop-out at 16, the bad boy pursued his dreams of rock stardom through The Kids, a garage rock outfit which enjoyed some amount of success before disbanding in 1985.

1983 - 1992

At the still-tender age of 20, Depp walked down the aisle with 25-year-old Lori Anne Allison on December 24, 1983.

Their union ended in 1985, but Lori would introduce Depp to a former lover of hers in a meeting that proved life-changing for Depp.

The ex in question was Nicholas Cage, who spotted a true National Treasure in Depp and introduced him to a Hollywood agent. A few film extra roles later, Depp landed his first major role in the 1984 horror classic Nightmare on Elm Street.

By this time, Depp was taking acting seriously enough to improve his art through formal lessons.

But it was Depp's portrayal of Officer Tom Hanson in the iconic television series 21 Jump Street from 1987 to 1990 that truly catapulted him to teen idol status.

However, this was an image he resented and strove to shrug off, a feat he eventually pulled off with some much-lauded roles.

They include the comedic musical Cry-Baby (1990) and perhaps most memorably, as the pale protagonist in Edward Scissorhands (1990), where he would meet longtime collaborator Tim Burton.

An overexposed love affair with his co-star Winona Ryder in the latter also resulted in his (modified) Wino Forever tattoo today.

1993 - 2002

With highly praised performances as the eccentric Sam in romantic comedy Benny & Joon (1993) and the long-suffering, small-town lead in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Depp's career was on the rise even as his personal life took a downturn.

Perhaps Depp found some solace in The Viper Room, where he relived his younger, guitar-playing days through P, his new band featuring names such as Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even Adam Durtz from Counting Crows played bartender for a while.

But on the Halloween of 1993, Depp's club was tainted by the death of young actor River Phoenix, who collapsed from a drug-induced cardiac arrest on its sidewalk after a wild night out. However, the nightspot remained popular.

A highly public and passionate pairing with supermodel Kate Moss also made them familiar faces in the tabloids, and Depp's infamous hotel-room-trashing in New York took place during the course of their relationship. The couple would later call it quits in 1998.

Happier unions to happen in this period was Johnny reuniting with Burton for a biopic on infamous B-movie director Ed Wood in 1994, and again in 1999 as kooky Ichabod Crane in the lush Sleepy Hollow.

And who can forget his swoon-worthy turn as guitar-playing gypsy Roux in the charming Chocolat (2000) and sympathetic portrayal of notorious cocaine dealer George Jung in Blow (2001)?

In the 1998 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Depp also played Raoul Duke, a character rooted in incidents experienced by famed journalist Hunter S. Thompson, which birthed a deep friendship between the two until Thompson's suicide in 2005.

His longest relationship to date also began in 1999, when he met French actress Vanessa Paradis while filming The Ninth Gate. They would have two children together - Lily Rose-Melody Depp in May 1999 and John "Jack" Christopher Depp III in April 2002 - before parting ways in 2012.

2003 - 2013

As Depp entered his forties, his career surged to even greater heights.

From 2004 to 2011, Depp would play one of his most memorable personas, swaggering Captain Jack Sparrow, for the duration of the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean series to date.

In The Curse of the Black Pearl, the charming character also netted him a Screen Actors Guild award in 2003 for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. Those eager for more of Sparrow will have to wait for the fifth chapter in the series, slated for release in July 2015.

Other star turns include portrayals of Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie in the critically acclaimed Finding Neverland (2004), eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka in the Roald Dahl classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and charismatic bank robber John Dillinger in Public Enemies (2009).

His take on a vengeful barber in 2007's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street also showcased the actor's serious vocal chops, and Depp's performance bagged him the 2008 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

After his split from Paradis last year, Depp has since moved on with actress Amber Heard - who was his co-star in the The Rum Diary (2011) - though there's no telling if their pairing will be as tempestuous as his former love affairs.

What's certain is that with his charisma and true chameleon quality, Depp will grace the silver screen in one convincing skin after another for many more years to come.

Jackie Chan seals prints at famed Hollywood theater

Posted: 08 Jun 2013 05:31 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan became the first Chinese actor Thursday to have his hands and feet cast in wet cement at Hollywood's famed Chinese Theatre, alongside generations of Tinseltown icons.

He was joined by American actor Chris Tucker, his co-star from the "Rush Hour" movies, in the ceremony in the courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theatre, as hundreds of fans screamed from across Hollywood Boulevard.

Chan, who has starred in over 100 films and directed 20, recalled first coming to the then Grauman's Chinese Theatre - it changed its name this year for sponsor Chinese company TCL - two decades ago, invited by film action hero Sylvester Stallone.

"Twenty years, ago, 1993 ... I was not on the red carpet, (I was) on the side, and I saw there are so many stars doing interviews. I had nothing to do. I was standing there looking around to see the handprints.

"I thought to myself, when will I have my own things? During all those years my dream (grew)," he said, before thanking his co-stars, TCL, and - to cheers from the crowd - "the fans around the world, you make my dream come true."

The honor is considered even more exclusive than that of being given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the stretch of sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard lined with star-shaped plaques to entertainment greats.

Chinese tourist Haoyahh Wei, looking on, said: "He always makes the greatest movies in the world, and always has creative ideas to put in his new movies .. always has something fun to give to his fans.

"We all love him. He is a very kind person, he always helps others," he added.

LA resident Ivette DeLatorres added: "He's one of the very few actors that actually does his own stunts. I mean he's willing to get on set, break his leg, get a cast on and the very next day show up on set and keep on going.

"That's amazing," she added.

Tucker recalled when he did the first "Rush Hour" film with Chan in 1998. "We traveled around the world... from Asia to Australia to Europe and immediately he helped me get known internationally.

"It was just an honor to be in a movie with him. That was a comedian's dream. He's been a mentor, a big brother. He's the best guy in the whole wide world," he added.

Chan was born in Hong Kong and began his international movie career in the early 1970s, going on to fame with hits including "Dragons Forever" (1988), "The Legend of Drunk Master (1994) and "Little Big Soldier" (2010).

The 59-year-old - who stuck his face into the Tinseltown cement, as well as his hands and besocked feet - also worked as a stunt coordinator for martial arts legend Bruce Lee.

The courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theatre is paved with the hand- and foot prints of decades of Hollywood greats, from Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis to Jane Fonda and Brad Pitt.

Chan said that, in addition to being the first Chinese actor honored, he was actually the first to have his handprints done twice.

"Twelve years ago I did the handprint, but somebody stole it," he said.

"Then that's the second time. I really want to thank you." - AFP

Pretty fly for a new guy

Posted: 09 Jun 2013 06:48 AM PDT

Playing the iconic role of Superman is no easy task. Henry Cavill takes it all in his stride.

WITH the trademark red cape, red boots and an "S" on his chest, this superhero is unmistakably Superman. However, Man Of Steel has introduced substantial tweaks to the classic Superman look as we know it. For starters, gone are the "red briefs" Superman of days past donned on the outside of his suit. The new version has evolved to a more robust-looking textured suit, a deeper shade of blue and a modernised glyph.

Conceptualising the suit began with the costume designers and illustrators drawing dozens of versions, with the red briefs "getting smaller and smaller, until one day they were just no longer there", according to the film's production notes.

In an interview at Warner Bros in Burbank, California, Henry Cavill, who plays the well-loved character in Man Of Steel, describes putting on the suit as "very special, a real experience".

"There was an energy the suit gave off that made it special," he says.

"The suit is incredibly regal as it is, but there is something else about it that you can't quite explain. I think it is the love for the character and the thought that goes into the hands of each person who puts the suit together, that makes it something truly special. Certainly for me, it became much more than just putting on a costume. When I put the suit on in the morning, it really does help transport me to the character."

He candidly shares that the suit could be "sometimes physically uncomfortable" and "the lack of a fly on it didn't help".

But one thing that Cavill doesn't need on the suit, however, is built-in muscles, because he already has them.

Trainer Mark Twight was quoted as saying in the production notes: "Henry said that he wanted to look the same outside the suit as he did when he was wearing it. He didn't even need body makeup for those scenes where he had his shirt off because he had done the work and he wanted that work to show." The audience is certainly treated to a fair bit of that hard work in Man Of Steel, most notably in the scenes with a dishevelled-looking Clark Kent wandering around in the frigid cold without his shirt.

To develop the physique the role required, Cavill engaged in months of training. This physical transformation was the biggest challenge in taking on Superman, he says.

"It took five months to get to a certain state, and then another two to get to the shirtless state. It was a lot of hard work," says the British-born actor, who confides that he was a chubby kid who was once taunted in school for his heavy-set frame.

"To that kid who called me 'Fat Cavill', it was probably hilarious, but it meant a lot to me. It taught me an awful lot about the importance of words, and to think before I speak because it can actually matter a lot to someone," he muses.

The actor describes the transition from his younger self to his present day physique as "a great journey".

"It has given me a real insight, and I'm glad I didn't look like how I looked in Man Of Steel for my entire life because it has given me a respect for the amount of work it may take to transform a body."

Fans are creating quite a fanfare over 30-year-old Cavill, and it is not difficult to see why. As strikingly attractive off screen as he is on screen, Cavill also comes across as eloquent and charismatic in person.

But on being seen as the next sex symbol, Cavill is adamant that he will "never accept that".

"If it happens, I think it is going to be odd, certainly. I don't think people should see me as a sex symbol, I'm really just Henry. And all I'm doing is telling a story," he says.

Mummy's boy

Not unlike his Clark Kent persona, Cavill says he maintains a close relationship with his mother and calls her "the most awesome mum on the planet". "I adore her. She is an amazing woman who gave nothing but love to us.

"It is tough with five boys at home, but my mum's a tough cookie. I think you will see it with all my brothers, that we are all really positive people because we were given that love constantly as kids, even though my mum may have just wanted to throw us across the room sometimes!" relates the fourth of five boys.

When asked which superhero he would like to be, assuming he has not yet played Superman, Cavill picks Batman, because "he is a cool character and is a superhero with no superpowers".

However, he says that if he had to choose one of Superman's superpowers to bestow upon himself in the real world, he wants the ability to fly.

"It would make things so much easier. No waiting in line in security, no sitting on a plane for 11 hours, and if your loved ones need you, you are there!" he says.

While the origins of Superman can be traced to an alien world – though it is a story that Clark Kent does not know of until later in life – Cavill points out that the one thing that both Clark Kent's adoptive parents on Earth and his biological parents from House of El, on Krypton (where he is known as Kal-El), have in common is their steadfast resolve in "doing the right thing".

"His entire upbringing is based upon this family which teaches him to make the right decisions when he can. He is clearly House of El genetically, that is why he has his powers. But he has no real induction to House of El until late in life," explains Cavill.

"When he finally gets introduced to House of El, his true heritage if you will, it is more about leading from the front, be who you are, proudly, and do the right thing with it. So, the one thing that runs through these two families is to do the right thing, and it is interesting that one just says lead from the back, and another says lead from the front."

Taking on such an iconic character is no easy work, and Cavill knows it. There are just so many people to please, an uphill task because the character of Clark Kent/Superman is one that many hold close and dear.

"Honestly, I tried to ignore the pressure because I thought that would get in the way of doing the job efficiently and accurately. But having thought about it, many people have grown up with Superman in different ways, and they have different connections with the character. He belongs to them in their heads and in their hearts," he reflects.

Cavill has big shoes to fill, and he is fully aware that it is likely impossible to please everyone.

But he has done all he can, and has given it his all.

"The biggest pressure was trying to get everything right – to look like the character, to feel like the character, and to get across the soul of the character, to all those who do hold him in their hearts. And will do, hopefully, forevermore," he concludes.

Man Of Steel flies into cinemas nationwide on June 13. Look out for Amy Adams' take on playing Lois Lane in Star2 on the same day.

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