Khamis, 1 Mei 2014

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Man convicted over orangutan, tiger skulls in Australia

Posted: 01 May 2014 08:46 PM PDT

SYDNEY, May 2, 2014 (AFP) - A man was Friday convicted on 24 charges of possessing illegal wildlife products, including orangutan and tiger skulls, following the biggest seizure of such items in Australian history.

John Kolettas, 44, pleaded guilty after police raided his Sydney home last year and found 78 illegal products made from 24 threatened species.

They included 11 orangutan skulls and 25 other skulls of monkeys, lynx, bears and a tiger. Other items included teeth and skins from orangutans, lynx, otters, and a feather headdress made from a bird of paradise.

Kolettas was jailed for a year, fined Aus$4,000 (US$3,700) and ordered to do 384 hours of community service for the possession of specimens listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

"Wildlife trafficking is a cruel and often barbaric trade that has become more widespread and lucrative and is now valued at billions of dollars worldwide," said the department of environment.

"The community - particularly collectors, travellers and online shoppers - should be aware of what they are buying, what it is made of, and where it is from.

"Without realising it they may be contributing to the decline of threatened species, simply by purchasing what initially looks like a bargain."

Australia is one of 178 nations that are signatories to CITES, with the importation of endangered species, or parts of them, illegal without a permit.

What's in a name? Dummy candidates confuse Indian voters

Posted: 01 May 2014 08:38 PM PDT

NEW DELHI, May 2, 2014 (AFP) - Indian politician Chandulal Sahu, standing for the second time for a seat in parliament, was irritated but not surprised when he saw he was running against seven competitors who share his name.

Popular Bollywood actor Hema Malini, contesting in the holy city of Mathura, is up against two other Hema Malinis while veteran politician Amarinder Singh faces a similarly confusing challenge in northern Punjab.

Even Narendra Modi, the election frontrunner for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), briefly faced a threat from a namesake in his constituency in the western state of Gujarat.

Far from a coincidence, these "dummy" candidates are an age-old trick in Indian politics designed to fool voters who might mistakenly select the wrong person once inside the polling booth.

The tactic might have reached its high-water mark in Sahu's constituency in central Chhattisgarh state, which voted last Thursday during India's huge multi-phased general elections.

"What can one do? It's a conspiracy by my rivals. But such gimmicks won't work," Sahu told AFP. "Voters in my area are aware and I am confident they will vote for the right Sahu."

Political parties often scout for namesakes and then fund their election expenses in order to pit them against rivals in constituencies where a few hundred votes could swing the result.

The unknown candidate is given his or her party symbol, which is usually designed to look like the one used by the more famous rival.

A new anti-corruption party that shot to fame last year during state elections in New Delhi has seen one of its star campaigners shadow boxing against his namesake.

Ashutosh, a former TV anchor who uses one name, is a leader of the rookie Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party whose symbol is a broom.

The unknown Ashutosh uses a carrot which when shown in black and white on the electronic voting machines looks deceptively similar to the AAP logo.

"Voters are bound to get confused because of two Ashustoshes," an Aam Aadmi Party spokeswoman told AFP.

Not illegal

Although it's not illegal, of late the Election Commission has been trying to keep a tab on these dubious contestants.

Delhi's additional chief electoral officer Neeraj Bharati said the onus lay with the real candidates to expose the fakes.

"We put up a list of all contesting candidates next to their symbols outside every polling booth for awareness," he said.

"But it really boils down to the real candidates. They must do good propaganda and expose the proxy candidate," he added.

Vinod Kapri, editor-in-chief of News Express TV network which recently exposed how dummies were set up, explained why it was worth investing time and money in the underhand tactics.

"Even if the dummy manages to eat a little bit into the share of his namesake, the job is done as the victory margins are often narrow," he explained. "If you give him big money, he will do anything for you."

The elections, the world's biggest, end on May 16 when results will be published.

The BJP is widely expected to sweep to power, ending a decade of rule by the left-leaning Congress party, with Modi tipped to become prime minister.

Modi faced a challenge in his Gujarat constituency of Vadodara from another Narendra Modi who is a member of the Congress party. The unknown candidate pulled out fearing reprisals.

Images suggest N. Korea testing ICBM engine

Posted: 01 May 2014 08:28 PM PDT

SEOUL, May 2, 2014 (AFP) - New satellite imagery indicates North Korea has been testing the engine for an inter-continental ballistic missile, a US think-tank said Friday, amid concerns the North is also preparing a nuclear test.

The US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said images of the North's main rocket launch site suggested one "and maybe more" tests of what is probably the first stage of a KN-08 road-mobile ICBM.

With this latest activity, three KN-08 rocket engine test series have been identified for the first and possibly second stages dating back to mid-2013, the institute said on its closely followed website, 38 North.

"As this effort progresses, the next technically logical step in the missile's development would be a flight test of the entire system," it said.

North Korea successfully put a satellite into orbit in December 2012 on a rocket - the Unha 3 - that Pyongyang said was designed for purely scientific missions.

The international community said the launch was a disguised ballistic missile test and the UN Security Council tightened existing sanctions as a result.

The Unha-3 stood 30 metres high, and the 38 North post said the satellite images showed the gantry at the Sohae launch site was being modified to take larger rockets of up to 50 metres in height.

"Construction may not be completed until early summer, effectively preventing a launch from the facility in the meantime," it said.

The signs of engine testing come amid concerns that the North is on the verge of carrying out a fourth nuclear test in the face of stern international opposition.

Separate satellite imagery of the North's main Punggye-ri nuclear test site has shown stepped-up activity consistent with preparations for a test.

Missile delivery has often been cited as the main weakness of the North's nuclear weapons programme which, after three tests, is believed to be close to mastering the key technology of warhead miniaturisation.

The successful 2012 satellite launch caused serious concern, but experts stressed that it lacked the re-entry technology needed to bring an ICBM down onto a target.

Models of the road-mobile KN-08 missile have been given pride of place in North Korean military parades in 2012 and in July last year.

But several experts ridiculed the models, with at least one respected aerospace engineer labelling them technically preposterous and a "big hoax".

If there is disagreement over how close the North might be to a reliable, working ICBM, there is no doubt that developing one is a national priority.

And a successful test of such a missile would take the nuclear threat posed by the North to an entirely new level.


The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Hamm-er time: There's much in store for Jon Hamm

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The Mad Men star is ready to embrace new challenges after the series ends.

Mad Men star Jon Hamm is going to be out of a regular job when the acclaimed TV drama comes to an end at the end of Season Seven – and he is fine with that.

"All good things come to an end," the 43-year-old actor says in a telephone interview. "Other shows sort of fade away or peter out, but the good shows end.

"And you know, I don't want to be on a show that overstays its welcome."

Already, interest in the much talked-about show appears to be waning. When it was broadcast recently in the United States, the show's seventh and final season had the lowest ratings for a season premiere since Season Two's 2008 opener.

The buzz surrounding the show appears to have diminished somewhat, in the light of fierce competition from several other top-notch TV dramas such as Homeland and Breaking Bad, which ended its run last year.

In any case, Hamm is convinced that his show will not be ending on a poor note. How good programmes end, he says, is just as crucial as how they began.

"I feel like we've laid the proper groundwork and prepared the show to end, and that's part of every storytelling experience – it's the beginning, middle and the end, and this is just as important as those other two.

"Our show is ending at the right time. I mean, we've watched Breaking Bad, True Detective and 30 Rock – we've watched those shows that for one reason or another had endings put on them.

"I think they've all been successful in their final act, and I hope ours is as well."

While Mad Men, which follows the life of Hamm's sexy and charismatic but also chauvinistic advertising executive character Don Draper, has never been a ratings magnet, it has attracted accolades.

Since its debut in 2007, the 1960s-era show has won four Emmys for Best Drama Series four years in a row (from 2008 to 2011) and two Golden Globes in the same category in 2008 and 2009.

In its final season – which has been split into two parts, with the second half airing next year – Draper is at his lowest point yet: angry and unemployed, and far from the sleek, super-cool cat that he once was in the advertising world.

"It was a big deal for Don to be fired and I think that's a bit of a wake-up call," says the actor. "But I think the one pattern that we've established with Draper is that he tends to rise to challenges ... That's a bit of a hint as to what we can expect in the final episodes."

As calm as Hamm sounds in this interview, he confesses that when the time comes to film the final episode, he will "be a mess, honestly".

"This show has taken up a decade of my life and it's been a great decade. I've met a lot of people whom I think will be friends for the rest of my life. I've had a lot of amazing experiences and I've gotten to go to awards shows and experience these things you never think will happen when you start being an actor.

"It's been an emotional roller-coaster ride, so when it's time to get off, I'm going to be like, I don't want to get off, man."

Earnestly, he adds: "I'm going to be an absolute disaster. There will be tears, there will probably be fistfights and hair-pulling and every expression of emotion that you can imagine. It will be Biblical in its emotion."

Jon Hamm (right) with the president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA Stephen Cannon at the recent New York International Auto Show in New York City. Could Hamm be considering a future as an auto show model? You buy a car from him, wouldn't you? – EPA

That said, he is prepared to face the future without the regular pay cheque of a TV series and without certainty that he would land a role as critically beloved as Draper.

"I'm aware that I'm going to be unemployed very soon. I don't know what the future holds – it's a brave new world out there," says Hamm. "But I don't feel pressure to have to surpass Mad Men. I don't feel like acting is a competition in that way. I mean, as actors, we are kind of beholden to the scripts that we get.

"Hopefully, I'll be fortunate enough to work with a writer, film-maker or TV creator who is as creative and talented as Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. I owe 100% of my success and career to that guy and I recognise all of that."

Hamm is not kidding when he says he "owes" his career to Weiner. Mad Men launched Hamm into stardom and earned him critical acclaim, giving him a Golden Globe award for Best Actor (Drama) in 2008, and nominations in the same category at the Emmys for every year that the show has been broadcast so far.

Since then, he has also played memorable parts on 30 Rock and comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, as well as the hit movie Bridesmaids (2011) as Kristen Wiig's cocky sex partner.

Mad Men also turned him into a heart-throb – something he finds fascinating. "If you could see me right now in my sweat pants and how my dog is staring at me and wondering when she's going to be fed, you'll know how silly I find the sex symbol thing," says Hamm, whose partner for the last 17 years is 44-year-old actress-director Jennifer Westfelt (Friends With Kids, 2012).

"I don't know anyone who approaches that title or status with anything but a bemused kind of curiosity." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Mad Men airs every Tuesday at 11pm on FX HD (Astro Ch 726).

Top Gear Korea: A thrilling ride for Kim Jin-pyo

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Top Gear Korea host Kim Jin-pyo loves hearing female guests scream.

South Korean rapper-turned-TV host Kim Jin-pyo, 36, loves the thrill of racing in fast cars on motoring show Top Gear Korea.

What also gets him excited is hearing the screams of female guests such as sexy South Korean actress Clara and K-pop girl group Nine Muses.

"I am happy to be with female guests. I get more excited when they scream. To be honest, Clara and Nine Muses weren't very good at driving but their presence was big enough to honour our programme," he says in an e-mail interview.

But he is no sexist decrying bad women drivers. "There are male drivers who drive more poorly than average women," he says.

In fact, in his five seasons of hosting Top Gear Korea, he is most impressed by the driving skills of actress Kim Ok-bin.

"Kim Ok-bin recorded quite a fast lap-time among female guests. She had confidence while driving and this was a feature I couldn't find in other guests."

Kim Jin-pyo, Danny Ahn of K-pop supergroup G.O.D. and singer-actor Alex are the hosts on the fifth season of the South Korean version of popular British motoring programme Top Gear.

The trio are also joined by celebrity guests, including hip-hop artiste Tiger JK and comedians Kim Won-hyo and Kim Ji-min, who take the wheel on the show.

Each week, viewers are kept on the edge of their seats with electrifying car stunts and races.

Kim Jin-pyo, a daredevil who hosted all past four seasons, is back for more action despite having experienced many heartstopping moments.

One particularly dramatic race on Season Four even made it to international news outlets such as CNN, BBC and Time magazine: a gripping race between a Corvette and a low-flying helicopter ended with the chopper crashing to the ground.

Kim, who was driving the Corvette, says: "When I saw the helicopter crash, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Thank God that no one was hurt and the footage could be aired.

"I felt God really helped us at that moment because at the spot where the helicopter crashed, there were about 50 crew members, but debris fell only where there was no one. It was too amazing to be just a coincidence."

While Kim, who started racing in 2006, acknowledges the dangers of the sport, he says he is still in love with the adrenaline-pumping activity. His favourite car is the Porsche 997 GT3.

The former member of South Korean duo Panic and rapper group Novasonic says: "I have been in many accidents but none of as dangerous as the accidents I got into while shooting Top Gear. However, if you stick to the safety rules, it will keep you safe from many threatening accidents."

Kim, who is married to actress Yoon Joo-ryun and is the father of a seven-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter, adds: "The beauty of racing can't be explained in words. You've got to experience it.

"To some people, it's just a mere competition against others, but it is a battle with myself. When you win against yourself, you can stand proudly on the podium. You get to experience the ecstasy and sense of accomplishment." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Top Gear Korea Season Five airs every Sunday at 10pm on Kix HD (Astro Ch 729).


The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

North Korea seen testing engine for intercontinental ballistic missile

Posted: 01 May 2014 09:25 PM PDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has recently conducted engine tests for an intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States, a U.S. think tank said on Friday.

North Korea conducted at least one engine test for the KN-08 missile in late March or early April, the think tank 38 North said, marking the latest in a series of tests for a missile believed to have a range of more than 10,000 km (6,000 miles).

Following the engine tests, the next stage for North Korea would be a test launch of the missile, according to 38 North, which is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University's U.S.-Korea Institute.

"As this effort progresses, the next technically logical step in the missile's development would be a flight test of the entire system," 38 North said in its report.

Commercial satellite imagery indicates movement and removal of missile stages and fuel tanks as well as changes in the flame trench that point to North Korea having conducted one or more tests in the two-week period from March 22, the report said.

South Korea's defence ministry declined to confirm the specifics of the report citing intelligence policy but said a long-range missile launch by the North could not be ruled out.

"It's not easy to conduct a long-range rocket launch right after a engine test but they may have had other things prepared," ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.

North Korea is believed to be developing on a nuclear weapon and the technology to miniaturise a warhead to mount it on a long-range missile.

In December 2012 it launched a long-range rocket that successfully put an object into space orbit and in February last year conducted a third nuclear test.

The report on the engine testing comes a week after the think tank reported heightened activities at the North's nuclear test site at Punggye-ri, indicating it was ready to conduct a fourth nuclear test. [ID:nL3N0NF0MD]

A South Korean government official said preparations for a nuclear test at Punggye-ri appeared to be complete, including the sealing of tunnels dug into mountain range, and all that remained was for the North's leader Kim Jong Un to order it.

Since 2006, the United Nations has imposed sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and missile tests, but the North has pushed ahead with further tests, even disregarding warnings from its sole major ally, China.

On Friday, the North's official media carried a report that showed Kim Jong Un had replaced his top military aide, naming confidant Hwang Pyong So as the new army political chief.

Hwang replaced Choe Ryong Hae, who was rumored to be in bad health. Choe is the son of a revolutionary fighter who worked with state founder Kim Il Sung.

Hwang was previously deputy director of the ruling Workers' Party's powerful Organizational Guidance Department.

The post of the director of the Korean People's Army's General Political Department is seen as the highest position in the North's 1.2-million strong army.

Analysts doubted whether the appointment would significantly impact Kim's grip on power. But, some said it may reflect the discomfort of a young leader, with no military experience, at having Choe in such a prominent post.

(Corrects to give full name of army's new political chief in 13th paragraph)

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Pro-Russian rebels in Slaviansk say Ukraine tries to retake town

Posted: 01 May 2014 09:25 PM PDT

SLAVIANSK Ukraine (Reuters) - Pro-Russian separatists in Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine said on Friday Ukrainian forces had launched a "large-scale operation" to retake the town and one military helicopter had been shot down.

A Reuters photographer said he saw a military helicopter open fire on the outskirts of the town and a reporter heard gunfire.

In Kiev, an aide to Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said he could not comment.

"Until it's over, no one will say anything," he said.

Armed groups seeking union with Russia have seized a number of government buildings in towns in eastern Ukraine.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Paul Tait)

After bombing in west, China angered by U.S. criticism in terror report

Posted: 01 May 2014 08:25 PM PDT

URUMQI China (Reuters) - China's foreign ministry has reacted angrily to U.S. criticism of the level of cooperation from Beijing on fighting terrorism, after an apparent suicide bombing in the country's far west pointed to a possible escalation of unrest there.

The Chinese government has blamed religious extremists for carrying out a bomb and knife attack at a train station in Urumqi, regional capital of Xinjiang, on Wednesday evening that killed one bystander and wounded 79.

Security was heavy on Friday in Urumqi, scene of deadly riots five years ago between Muslim Uighurs and ethnic Han Chinese in which almost 200 were killed.

The train station was bustling, with hundreds of migrant workers arriving from around China for seasonal work. Many sat on their bags in the station plaza waiting for trains to other parts of the region.

Units of armed police carrying assault rifles and sharpened black metal poles with hand grips marched in file around the station grounds. Black police vans and armoured troop transports were parked in front of the station's entrance.

Resource-rich and strategically located Xinjiang, on the borders of central Asia, has for years been beset by violence blamed by the Chinese government on Islamist militants and separatists, but suicide attacks have been extremely rare.

"China falls victim of terrorism, and always firmly opposes terrorism in any form and terrorist acts conducted or backed by any person under any name," the foreign ministry said in a statement late on Thursday.

Beijing is unhappy at the U.S. State Department's 2013 country reports on terrorism, published last month, which said China's cooperation on fighting terrorism "remained marginal" and that the Chinese provided scarce evidence to prove terrorist involvement in incidents in Xinjiang.

"On the issue of fighting terrorism, to make irresponsible remarks towards other countries and adopting double standards will not help international cooperation on counter-terrorism," The foreign ministry said.

Xinjiang's regional government said on its official news website on Thursday that the Urumqi attack had been carried out by two men who had "long been influenced by extremist religious thought and participated in extremist religious activities".

Both were killed in the blast, it said. It identified one of them as Sedirdin Sawut, a 39-year-old man from Xayar county in Xinjiang's Aksu region. The man is a member of the Muslim Uighur minority, judging by his name.

There have been suicide bombings before in China, mostly by people with personal grievances, but it has generally not been a tactic employed by Uighurs.

In October, a car ploughed into tourists on the edge of Beijing's Tiananmen Square, killing the car's three occupants and two bystanders, in what the government believed was a suicide attack by people from Xinjiang.


Exiles and many rights groups say the real cause of the unrest in Xinjiang is China's heavy-handed policies, including curbs on Islam and the culture and language of the Uighur people.

Urumqi is heavily populated by Han Chinese, who have flooded there seeking business opportunities. Uighurs have complained that they have been frozen out of the job market. Many were reluctant to talk to reporters.

"I just don't believe it was a Uighur who did this," one 35-year-old Uighur man selling dried fruit about 100 metres from the blast site told Reuters on Thursday. "These public spaces aren't safe for anyone, Uighur or Han."

Accounts of Wednesday's attack have come mostly from China's heavily censored state media. Independent reporting in Xinjiang is extremely difficult due to the tight security and wariness many Uighurs have at talking to foreign reporters.

The Xinhua news agency cited police as saying "knife-wielding mobs" slashed at people at an exit of the station and set off explosives.

The bombing, the first in Urumqi in 17 years, was possibly timed to coincide with a visit to the region with a large Muslim minority by President Xi Jinping. State media did not say whether Xi was anywhere near Urumqi at the time.

The government called the attackers "terrorists", a term it uses to describe Islamist militants and separatists in Xinjiang who have waged a sometimes violent campaign for an independent East Turkestan state.

In Washington, the State Department also said all signs pointed to the attack being the work of terrorists.

"Based on the information we have seen, including what has been reported by the Chinese media, this appears to be an act of terrorism that targets random members of the public," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a daily briefing.

Thursday's foreign ministry statement said China has always sought to combat terrorism in accordance with law while paying attention to "eliminating both the symptoms and root causes of terrorism", adding that China opposed "linking terrorism to specific ethnic groups or religions".

The station bombing was the largest militant attack in Urumqi since the government blamed Uighurs for stabbing hundreds of Han Chinese with needles in 2009. No one was killed in that incident.

Unrest in Xinjiang has caused the deaths of more than 100 people in the past year, prompting a tougher stance against the Turkic-language speaking Uighurs, many of whom resent government controls on their culture and religion.

In March, 29 people were stabbed to death in the southwestern city of Kunming, far from Xinjiang and on the borders of Southeast Asia. The government blamed that attack on Xinjiang extremists.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Alex Richardson)


The Star eCentral: Movie Reviews

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Emma Stone embraces her spunky character Gwen Stacy

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 07:00 PM PDT

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 heroine Emma Stone on the element of surprise.

If there was one thing actress Emma Stone absolutely detests, it would be weight training. The affable actress was nursing a sore throat when she spoke to Star2 in Singapore recently. "I don't have a lot of physical strength so the idea of lifting weights makes me want to strangle somebody. It just makes me so crazy," said Stone, 25.

To prepare for her role as Gwen Stacy in the first installment of The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Stone went through a gruelling weight training routine. She explained her loathing for it: "I didn't respond well to it because I absolutely hate having to do for the sake of it."

However, her green eyes lit up when she talked about her routine for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. "That's what is great about this new movie – I got to do dance training which was really cool. It was a blast to be able to elongate your body and swing in amazing ways."

Stone returns in the movie as Gwen Stacy, a high school valedictorian who gets caught up in Spider-Man's world as his love interest. When Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) is not busy chasing Russian mobsters through New York or fighting off Oscorp's latest mutation, he is by Gwen's side as Peter Parker.

However, being Spider-Man will eventually take a toll on the couple's relationship.

"Gwen has an understanding that Peter needs to be Spider-Man and he needs to be a hero. While Mary Jane Watson is in love with Spider-Man first and Peter after that, Gwen falls in love with Peter first."

The brainy beauty is also far from being just another damsel in distress. In the previous installment, Spider-Man defeated his opponent with Gwen's help. For The Amazing Spider-Man 2, don't expect Gwen to stand by as just another face in the crowd.

"Yes, I'm very excited about that. She definitely finds a way to infiltrate in what he is doing, to help," she said with a laugh.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also stars Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro and Paul Giamatti as Rhino. Stone relished the opportunity to work with some of the most critically-acclaimed actors in Hollywood.

Pure heroine: Emma Stone says her character Gwen Stacy falls in love with Peter Parker as himself, instead of Spider-Man.

"It's a dream to be able to work with people who are also teaching you. You have to rise meet to the occasion to grow and learn. I always thought that getting to all this movies is like a masterclass. You can't get this experience in drama school or scene study class. It's a whole other experience."

Stone also said co-star Garfield is "an amazing Spider-Man". "He's so prepared and he knows so much about the character. It's embedded in him to do what Spider-Man can do. So it's really cool."

Though most would associate Mary Jane as Spider-Man's heroine, Gwen is one of the most important characters in the comic book universe. Her fate in the comic books had an incredible impact on Spider-Man's life. She talked about why she wants the film to honour the comic book storyline, particularly issue #121.

"I think it's incredibly important. It's hugely impactful in Peter's life and what happens with him as a hero. It's a devastating and really iconic moment in comic book history. I want to do that for the lovers of the Spider-Man comics."

She added: "Before I auditioned for Gwen, I googled her and it was pretty much the first thing you see. I was just like 'oh God, that's crazy!'. I can only imagine what it was like for people reading the story when issue #121 first came out. It must have been the most shocking thing."

Still, Stone hopes audience will be able to watch the movie and experience the same feeling of shock that comic readers had back when the original story debuted in 1973.

"I'm very protective of people understanding that it's not necessarily what is going to occur in the movie. I want the element of surprise to remain intact."

Related story and videos:

Along comes Spider-Man ... his girl and the director

Watch: Jamie Foxx explains how Electro got his voice 

Watch: Andrew Garfield and Marc Webb team up for The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Ganging up for 'The Other Woman'

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton sail through The Other Woman by acting drunk.

IF there is one thing the female buddy movie The Other Woman has plenty of, it is drunk acting. In it, the trio of women – played by Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton – on several occasions, are happily intoxicated.

But ask them about the technique of acting drunk and fingers point to 42-year-old Mann.

As Kate, the spouse of love cheat Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jamie Lannister in Game Of Thrones), she gives it the full treatment.

After she finds out about his philandering, a self-pitying Kate puts on her old wedding dress and squirts whipped cream directly into her mouth. She has had a few, naturally.

"Just allow yourself total freedom and get totally loose," she says, whipping her head around.

Diaz, 41, who plays the successful, no-nonsense lawyer Carly in the film, offers another idea: copy what babies do. She says: "Maybe you just act like a baby. They always look drunk."

Mann and Upton, her companions at the press conference in Sydney, Australia, voice their enthusiastic support for the idea. There is obvious chemistry between the three women.

Here on the interview couch, a few moments are spent in high-spirited chatter and the comparing of shoes before they turn their attention to the questions.

In the film, after Kate (Mann) discovers that husband Mark has been seeing the unsuspecting Carly (Diaz), the pair decide to join forces to seek revenge, but not before recruiting third member Amber (Upton).

Together, they find ways to make sure that justice is served on the handsome but despicable Mark.

The mood in the room turns serious for a moment when the subject of chick flicks come up. The Other Woman is anything but, say the trio. For one thing, the male lead, on whom the women wreak havoc, is anything but desirable.

Diaz says they made Mark as "ratty as we could, we made him the worst possible depiction of the liar, cheater, pathological individual."

The net effect, she jokes, is that men can watch the film and "feel good about themselves. They will say, 'I am not even close to being as bad as that guy' and their girlfriends can be like, 'Oh, honey, you're so great'."

Mann adds that for the male audience, there are "cars and poop jokes" as well as a scene in which Diaz is hit in the face with the genitalia of a large male dog.

"And dog balls. Whatever interests you," quips Mann, who is best known for her parts in comedies written or produced by husband Judd Apatow.

She has been seen in Apatow productions This Is 40 (2012), Funny People (2009) and The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005).

That moment with the dog is among the many bits of physical comedy in which the women – especially Diaz and Mann – flail, fall and act silly. Much of it is spontaneous, they say.

In one scene, the pair, attempting a ninja-like home break-in to spy on Mark, attempt to scale a wall, with Mann doing the climbing while being held up by Diaz.

Diaz says with a laugh: "She just climbs on me and I hold on for dear life. I just don't want to fall over."

Diaz got her break in the Jim Carrey comedy The Mask (1994) and gained widespread recognition for her performance in the Farrelly brothers comedy There's Something About Mary (1998). She is also known for her dramatic roles, winning critical acclaim for turns in Being John Malkovich (1999) and Vanilla Sky (2001).

Mann, looking at Diaz, adds: "She was shaking. There's a picture of me running at her to jump on her and she was just like 'ugh'. Bracing. But I knew I was safe, that she wouldn't drop me."

Upton, too, got physical, giving Mann a piggy-back ride in one scene.

Upton, who at 21 is the youngest of the three, is also the least experienced in acting. Her break into feature films came through her work first as a fashion model (a career that also gave Diaz her start) and subsequently, as one of Sports Illustrated magazine's most popular swimsuit models.

This is her third and most substantial role. She has appeared in smaller parts in Tower Heist (2011) and The Three Stooges (2012).

All three roles have depended to a large extent on her statuesque proportions as much as her acting. She is not worried about being typecast, however.

She says: "I've only been in the spotlight for three years. In time, I will show people that I have more to offer. I'm taking the opportunities and I am grateful for them."

The three actresses may have ganged up onscreen to extract their pound of flesh from love cheat Mark, but in real life, they are aware that the best revenge on a bad lover is simply leaving.

Says Upton: "Cameron and I agree that the best revenge is just to walk away and not waste another second of your life with someone who is emotionally damaging. It's the best revenge because he doesn't get a chance to explain himself.

"You can imagine him just rotting away at the heart," she adds dramatically, a remark that has the other two women in stitches.

Mann, in admiration, repeats it: "Imagine him rotting away at the heart. Damn." — The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

The Other Woman opens in cinemas nationwide today (May 1).


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Danone to buy New Zealand dairy factories

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:27 PM PDT

PARIS: French dairy giant Danone on Thursday said it would buy milk powder factories in New Zealand to make up for supplies lost when it ended its supply contract with Fonterra last year.

Its local subsidiary Nutricia will buy Gardians drying plant and Sutton Group's blending and packing plant in Auckland, allowing it to maintain and possibly increase its exports to China.

Danone's net profit slumped 15% in 2013 after a food safety warning by key supplier Fonterra last year forced the group to launch a massive recall in Asia.

"This transaction will provide Nutricia with a large milk drying capacity, along with a long-term fresh milk supply access," the company said in a statement.

"It will also add an infant formula blending and packing facility to Nutricia's existing operations platform."

The purchase its subject to regulatory approval and is expected to complete in the next few months, Danone added. – AFP

Plus agrees to restructure toll rates, says Fadillah

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:24 PM PDT

KUCHING: Projek Lebuh Raya Utara-Selatan (PLUS), which owns the country's most lucrative highway concession, has agreed to restructure toll rates, says Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof. 

He said the restructuring would involve amendments to the existing concession agreement in order to make it more favourable to the public. 

"PLUS has agreed to restructure toll rates and this means amending the existing agreement taking into account the peoples' interest," he told reporters on Friday.

PLUS, which operates several highways including the 772 km North-South Expressway, was taken private in 2012 by a joint venture between government-linked companies, the Employees Provident Fund and UEM Group Bhd.

Fadillah said toll hikes were automatic every three or five years under the present concession but, under the restructuring, PLUS has to explain the rationale and basis for any future hike. 

"The government will study and determine if a request for toll hike is justified based on PLUS' entire cost structure," he added. - Bernama

US auto sales extend rebound from winter slump

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:06 PM PDT

WASHINGTON: Automakers on Thursday reported generally higher US sales in April from a year ago, extending the spring thaw from the deep freeze in January and February amid brutal winter weather.

A total of 1.39 million cars and trucks were sold in the US in April, a gain of 8.1% from a year ago and accelerating from March's 5.7% annual pace, industry specialist AutoData said.

But sales slowed slightly month-over-month. The April annual sales rate was 16.0 million vehicles, down from 16.4 million in March, according to AutoData.

Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at, a car-shopping website, said despite a trend toward fuel-efficient vehicles in recent years, car shoppers still showed keen interest in trucks and sport utility vehicles.

"SUVs, in particular, are not only selling well, but they are selling at a quicker pace than cars, pickups, or vans. SUVs are selling, on average, 20 days faster than other cars and trucks," the analyst said.

General Motors, the largest US automaker, said total sales rose 7% in April from a year ago, to 254,076 vehicles.

Kurt McNeil, GM's US vice president of sales operations, was upbeat about demand.

"The economy continues to strengthen," he said. "Retail demand was steady in April, and truck sales and transaction prices were especially strong."

Chrysler Group, the US unit of Italy's Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, clocked in a 14% jump year-over-year with 178,652 vehicles sold, its best April performance since 2007. For GM and Chrysler, sales gains were higher than estimates of 4.7% and 12.3%, respectively, from analysts at Edmunds. com, a car-shopping website.

But Ford Motor Company, the number-two US automaker, reported sales fell 1% from a year ago, to 141,950 vehicles. analysts had forecast a 4.6% increase.

Ford's sales numbers came the same day the company named chief operating officer Mark Fields to replace Alan Mulally as chief executive on July 1.

Japanese rival Toyota, the world's top automaker, said US sales increased 9% to 199,660 vehicles.

"Sales momentum from March rolled into April pushing the industry to its best back-to-back monthly sales pace since fall of 2007," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.

Fellow Japanese automaker Nissan said US sales shot up 18.5% to an April record of 94,764 vehicles.

Honda's sales fell 2.9% from last year's record in April to 96,704 vehicles.

"Even though our April sales were off slightly, it was still one of the 10 best sales months in American Honda history," said Dick Colliver, the company's executive vice president of sales.

"The market is very competitive, but there are still plenty of people out shopping for cars and trucks."

South Korean firm Hyundai Motor said its US unit sales rose 4.4% to 66,107 cars and trucks.

Volkswagen's US sales skidded sharply lower. The German company posted a 10.4% drop from a year ago, to 30,831 units. – AFP


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Award-winning British star Bob Hoskins dies at 71

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 07:45 PM PDT

The character actor was known for his roles in gangster movies like The Long Good Friday, and was the star in the popular film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

British actor Bob Hoskins, known for his roles in films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, has died at the age of 71 following a bout of pneumonia, his family said.

The gruff Londoner, who rose to fame in British gangster films in the 1980s and went on to have a long career as a Hollywood character actor, died in hospital on Tuesday night, they said in a statement.

Hoskins, who was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for his role in Mona Lisa in 1986, retired from acting in 2012 after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Bob Hoskins in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Hoskins as Mr Smee in Hook.

"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Bob," said a statement from his wife Linda and the couple's two children Rosa and Jack, and Hoskins' two children from his first marriage, Alex and Sarah.

"Bob died peacefully at hospital last night surrounded by family, following a bout of pneumonia," said the statement issued by acting agent Clair Dobbs. "We ask that you respect our privacy during this time and thank you for your messages of love and support."

Hoskins left school at the age of 15 and claimed he only got his break in acting by accident, after being mistakenly called for a theatre audition. He began as a television actor and broke through into film with his portrayal of a doomed London gangster in The Long Good Friday in 1980, which won him a Bafta nomination.

One of his best known roles was as the detective trying to work out Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the eponymous cartoon hero, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1989.

More recent success came with a Golden Globe nomination for Mrs Henderson Presents with Judi Dench, while his last role was one of the seven dwarves in the film Snow White And The Huntsman. — AFP Relaxnews

Original Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia in new 'Star Wars'

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 08:20 PM PDT

The actors may be 37 years older, but Star Wars fans will be more than happy to welcome them back.

The original Star Wars movie blasted its way onto screens a long time ago, in a cinema galaxy seemingly far, far away – but Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia will be back soon.

Disney has just announced the cast of the film entering production under the name Star Wars: Episode VII, after months of frenzied speculation among the sci-fi saga's passionate fans.

Harrison Ford may no longer quite have space smuggler Han Solo's roguish good looks, and co-star Mark Hamill will fill out Luke Skywalker's flowing Jedi knight robes a little more thoroughly than once he did.

But fans of the saga – many of them bitterly disappointed by a series of prequels to the three-decade-old original trilogy – will welcome their return and that of Carrie Fisher's bold Princess Leia.

Star Wars Episode VII writer, director and producer J.J Abrams (top centre, right) at the cast read-through of Star Wars: Episode VII at Pinewood Studios in England with (clockwise, from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm president and producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and writer Lawrence Kasdan. – David James/

Disney, the new owner of pioneering director George Lucas' record-breaking franchise, has recruited blockbuster director J.J. Abrams to bring these fan favourites back to the screen.

His trio of stars may have aged, but he will have access to a much more powerful array of computerised special effects than Lucas had when he launched the series in 1977.

And the original cast, including Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker as androids C3PO and R2-D2 and Peter Mayhew as the alien "Wookie" warrior Chewbacca, will be joined by new, mainly younger talent.

John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson and Hollywood veteran Max von Sydow join the team, and some appeared in a photo released to mark the start of script readings.

Actors joining the original cast for Star Wars: Episode VII include (clockwise from top left) Andy Serkis, Adam Driver, Max von Sydow, Domhnall Gleeson and John Boyega. – AFP

"It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again," Abrams said.

"We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud," he promised.

Abrams is a respected mainstream director who has already won plaudits for reviving a beloved space opera franchise, taking the captain's chair on the successful 2009 Star Trek re-boot. But Star Wars is, if anything, an even bigger challenge.

The two previous trilogies were released between 1977-2005 and inspired spin-off books, comics, toys, videogames and cartoons – earning US$4.4bil (RM14.08bil).

But, while the stories still have a massive popular audience, many purists were disappointed by the prequel trilogy, which they felt failed to capture the mythic feel of the originals. — AFP Relaxnews

C3PO and R2-D2, originally played by Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker, will also be in the new film. But of course.   

Ding-dong: Will Sandra Bullock be selling Tupperware?

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 05:35 PM PDT

Actress may be calling at your door as sales exec in new drama.

Sandra Bullock is circling a movie on the history of Tupperware, the plastic containers, and the revolutionary marketing scheme behind their success, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Help director Tate Taylor has been tapped to helm the feature.

Brownie Wise. - Photo WIKIPEDIA

The history of Tupperware began in the US during the 1940s, just as refrigerators started making their way into American homes. Invented by the chemist Earl Tupper, the flexible, unbreakable and airtight containers encountered only modest success at first. But things quickly turned around when Tupper received a call from Brownie Wise.

A door-to-door sales representative for a home goods retailer, Wise developed a particularly effective sales strategy for Tupperware, relying on a network of saleswomen and the organisation of "Tupperware Parties". Tupper soon hired Wise and made her a vice president at the company, sealing her reputation as one of the first female power-executives in the US. In 1954, she became the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week. Wise died in 1992 at age 72.

There is no official indication yet on whether Bullock is attached to the project. For the time being, the actress has merely expressed interest in the role.

Following on the success of his previous film The Help, Tate Taylor will present Get On Up this September. The biopic will explore James Brown's journey from extreme poverty to legendary fame. – AFP Relaxnews


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MH370: We should have been briefed of preliminary report, say families of missing crew

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:39 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Family members of the crew aboard MH370 felt that the authorities should have briefed them on the preliminary report on the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight before it was made public. 

Nurlaila Ngah, the wife of steward Wan Swaid Wan Ismail, 42, said she did not expect anything shocking in the report.

"As family members, we feel that we should have been briefed on it," she said at the Labour Day celebrations organised by MTUC here, which also saw the participation of the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) on Thursday. 

Nurlaila, 40, a former MAS stewardess, also called on the airline to be more sensible towards the family members. 

"When the incident first broke, MAS' human resource department deposited my husband's salary straight into his bank account. That prevented me from accessing the money. 

"I struggled to pay bills and support the family with the help of friends and relatives before MAS eventually issued cheques to us," said the mother of three children. 

Wan Swaid was among the 12-member Malaysian crew in Flight MH370, which went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8. 

Intan Maizura Othman, the wife of another steward, Mohd Hazrin Mohamed Hasnan, 34, said the airline had yet to discuss financial settlement with them. 

"Other than issuing my husband's pay cheque and a one-off interim payment in the beginning, MAS has yet to approach any of us with regard to a long-term solution," she said. 

Intan Maizura, 34, also a MAS stewardess who is due to give birth to her second child soon, hopes that MAS will make a quick decision on the settlement. 

"I have a four-year-old daughter as well as my unborn child to take care of in the meantime," she said, adding that 56 days after the incident, MAS had not kept them abreast of things. 

Nufam president Ismail Nasaruddin said MAS should stop "marginalising" its workers by ignoring the welfare and well-being of their families. 

"The current MAS cabin crew members want some assurance of their safety and welfare," he said.

Anti-GST rally: Suhakam lauds cops, organisers and participants for peaceful demo

Posted: 01 May 2014 07:17 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has commended the peaceful conduct of the anti-GST rally in Kuala Lumpur.

The positive outcome resulted from good cooperation among rally organisers, participants and the authorities, said Suhakam in a statement on Thursday.

It lauded the police and the organisers for their positive engagement through a series of dialogues prior to the rally. 

"This resulted to the mutual agreement of both parties on several key aspects relating to the rally, particularly the police's agreement for the organisers to use the road near Dataran Merdeka despite the square itself being closed for upgrading work," said Suhakam.

The Commission was pleased that no Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) was deployed during the rally, and that major roads and public transport stations were not closed.

"The police, with the assistance of the organisers' marshals, had also successfully facilitated the traffic control and crowd movement throughout the rally so as to ensure that participants could move from all points without much hassle," it said.

Suhakam also noted the positive improvement in the professionalism of the police and other enforcement authorities in handling public rallies as demonstrated through the KL112 and anti-price hike rallies as well as Thursday's rally.


‘Treasure’ believed from Malacca Sultanate era found on Pulau Nangka

Posted: 01 May 2014 06:32 AM PDT

MALACCA: Two pieces of medals, believed to be from the era of the Malacca Sultanate, were found during a hunt for a multi-billion ringgit treasure on Pulau Nangka near here. 

The 'treasure' was discovered at 11.30pm on Wednesday by Smart Partnership International (M) Sdn.  

Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said the medals would be sent for analysis, including to the National Heritage Department, to determine its authenticity.

He said this to reporters after opening the The Green apartment project at Kota Laksamana here on Thursday.

The project, costing RM331mil is scheduled for completion in 2017.

Smart Partnership International had been given a four-month contract, beginning January to search for the treasure on Pulau Nangka, an uninhabited island of about 20 hectares in size and located four kilometres from Pulau Besar, Jasin. 

The contract ended Wednesday. 

However, Idris said, the company was allowed to continue with the exploration work pending the outcome of the analysis on the medals. 

"If the medals are genuine, we will allow the company to continue the exploration. Otherwise, we will order them to stop and leave the site.

"I also want to make it clear that our contract with the company does not involved funds, only an understanding to jointly search for the historical artifacts," he added. - Bernama


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Simon Cowell's RM33mil 'X Factor' musical croaks after 6 weeks at West End

Posted: 01 May 2014 06:15 AM PDT

X Factor guru Simon Cowell has become the latest big name in show business to suffer an expensive pratfall in London's West End with the announcement that the musical I Can't Sing! he co-produced will close after a six-week run.

The demise of the musical parody of the TV talent contest, which reportedly cost 6mil pounds (RM33mil) to produce, comes hard on the heels of the closures of new musicals by long-time West End and Broadway hotshots Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It also follows the expensive 2012 fiasco of a musical based on the Spice Girls pop band.

The closure of I Can't Sing! – which featured a talking dog and portrayed Cowell as a megalomaniac, played by Nigel Harman – was announced on the show's website and was also tweeted to its followers.

"Stage Entertainment and Syco Entertainment, the producers of I Can't Sing! at the London Palladium, have announced the closure of the production on Saturday 10th May 2014," the statement on the website said. "The show received a series of rave reviews and standing ovations from thousands of theatre-goers following its opening earlier this year."

Despite reviews praising the show's irreverence, it struggled to fill one of the West End's largest theatres, and on some nights a hoarding outside advertised the availability of choice seats for only 20 pounds just before curtain time.

"The West End can be an unpredictable place as the closure of a number of high-profile productions recently has shown," said Rebecca Quigley, the CEO of Stage Entertainment. "I Can't Sing! has had audiences on their feet night after night, four and five star reviews from the critics and an amazing company and creative team, but it seems that isn't always enough."

Nigel Harman as Simon Cowell seen on stage in I Can't Sing!, the X Factor musical. Below is the ensemble performing a number called Please Simon, from the musical. 

According to the Daily Mail, Simon Cowell's company Syco lost £4mil on the doomed musical. The article also reported that it's been an especially bad time for the company as its new ventures, The X Factor USA, and a cooking reality show Food Glorious Food, had been receiving negative reactions from the public. But it probably won't dent his £347mil personal fortune.

The West End and the London stage in general have been celebrating a successful period for ticket sales. Last year was a record for revenues and attendances, with more than 14 million theatre-goers and gross sales of over £585mil, according to the Society of London Theatre.

Despite the healthy numbers, there have been some major casualties. Lloyd Webber's Stephen Ward, based on the 1960s Profumo sex scandal, closed after a run of less than four months. Meanwhile, lyricist Tim Rice's From Here to Eternity, based on the James Jones novel about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, closed the same day as Lloyd Webber's show after a six-month run. – Reuters

Picasso's masterpiece 'Guernica' gets a special dance performance

Posted: 01 May 2014 12:40 AM PDT

Pablo Picasso's anti-war masterpiece Guernica, one of modern art's most iconic paintings, served as a backdrop to a dance performance for the first time in its 77-year history.

About 80 people sat on the floor or stood as Josue Ullate, a bare chested dancer in black tights, jumped and leapt in front of the large black-and-white canvas at Madrid's Reina Sofia Museum on Sunday, April 27.

The 20-year-old performed Quiebro, a piece lasting about five minutes and inspired by a song written by late flamenco singer Enrique Morente that mixes modern ballet with traditional Spanish dance, two times, as part of International Dance Day celebrations. Watch it in the user-uploaded video below. 

It took organisers over a year of talks to get permission of Ullate to perform in front of the painting, which used images of distorted figures – human and animal – to represent the horrors of war.

The Reina Sofia Museum initially turned down the request but eventually relented after Picasso's family gave their support to the project, daily newspaper El Pais reported.

"I think it is an amazing idea, very good. They should do it all the time. This was special, it is Guernica. Marvellous," said Miguel Angel Colilla, a 44-year-old painter, after one of the performances.

Ullate performed the piece – created by his father Victor Ullate, a renowned Spanish ballet dancer and choreographer – on a specially created sprung dance floor installed in the gallery where the painting hangs.

Tickets to the one-time event which was held after the museum closed to the public were distributed for free on a first-come-first-served basis over the Internet.

"It was stupendous. Aesthetically, the setting is perfect," said Bartolome Garrido, a 44-year-old lawyer who attended with his wife and their two young children.

The Reina Sofia museum, a vast former hospital, displays Guernica – which measures 3.5m by 7.8m – in a purpose-built gallery on its own.

Picasso created Guernica as a commission for Spain's Republican government to represent the country at the 1937 World Fair in Paris, as Spain writhed in a bloody civil war started by future dictator General Francisco Franco.

The painting was transferred to Madrid in 1981 from New York's Museum of Modern Art, where it had been deposited on a long-term loan by Picasso until democracy was restored in Spain.

For fear of attack, it was initially housed behind bullet-proof glass and under armed guard at the Prado Museum in Madrid before it was eventually transferred to the nearby Reina Sofia Museum when it opened in 1992.

The painting took its name from Guernica, the ancestral capital of northern Spain's Basque country, which was bombed on April 26, 1937, a spring market day, by German and Italian air forces supporting Franco in a civil war that set the stage for World War II. – AFP Relaxnews

Grease musical is the word on TV

Posted: 30 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Grease, the Broadway musical and hit film, will be made into a live television production, US broadcaster Fox said on Monday (April 28), in the latest network television attempt to woo viewers with live performances.

The musical about a high school romance between a good girl and a bad boy at Rydell High will be a three-hour production that will air next year. Actors have not been announced, but Fox said it would feature a "young ensemble cast". Fox, the broadcast unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc follows the lead of NBC, which attracted 19 million viewers to watch its live performance of The Sound Of Music last year, which starred country music singer Carrie Underwood.

The musicals are part of networks' strategies to entice audiences to watch events live instead of recording them for later viewing on digital video recorders, which are less valuable to advertisers.

Comcast Corp-owned NBC will air a live performance of Peter Pan in December in the hopes of replicating the success of The Sound Of Music. Grease debuted on stage in 1971 and was adapted into a film by distributor Paramount Pictures starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (pic) in 1978. It currently ranks as the highest-grossing musical film in the United States with US$188mil (RM613mil) in ticket sales. – Reuters


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