Saturday, August 23, 2008

The most astonishing thing about "Death Race," a crash-bang action movie otherwise wholly free of astonishment, or even much passing interest, is the presence in its cast of Joan Allen. And apart from the fact that she's actually in this damn thing — togged out in exactly the sort of dark, tailored suits she wears in the "Bourne" movies — she is also called upon to utter the most baffling line in any recent film. I'm sure you can make it out through the scrim of dashes: "OK, co------ers, f--- with me, and we'll see who sh--s on the sidewalk." This from an actress who's been nominated for three Academy Awards.

If I tell you that "Death Race" was directed by genial schlock purveyor Paul W.S. Anderson, the man who cluttered the world with "AVP: Alien vs. Predator" and "Resident Evil," that may be all you need to know about this dismal flick. But let's press on anyway.

The movie is set in a hell-hole prison — it looks like a vast abandoned foundry — that houses (what else?) "the worst of the worst": murderers, rapists, personal-injury lawyers, what have you. And Allen's character, Hennessey, is the warden of this place — or as one lowlife puts it, watching her walking to work right through all the scumbags, "the baddest ass in the yard." She also presides over an event called Death Race, a sort of armored NASCAR tourney in which the fearsome autos are equipped with all manner of cannons, flamethrowers, even napalm, and driven by guys with handles like Machine Gun Joe (Tyrese Gibson, looking very 50 Cent) and the Grimm Reaper (Robert LaSardo).

Death Race is beamed out worldwide on the Internet; it's wildly popular, and Hennessey gets hot watching the site hits click up into the multimillions. There's a problem, though: Her reigning champion, a mysterious subhuman called Frankenstein, grievously banged-up in the last Death Race, has secretly died of his injuries. Fortunately, since Frankenstein always wore a scary metal mask and never spoke, he can easily be replaced — and Hennessey has just the man for that purpose: a real-world racing star named Jensen Ames (Jason Statham), who was framed for the murder of his wife and now resides in Hennessey's nightmarish lockup. Ames is persuaded to get behind the mask and is paired with a hot female "navigator" (don't ask) named Case (Natalie Martinez). Before you can say "cue mayhem," the Death Race is back underway.

Statham, the English Vin Diesel, does most of his acting with his brow muscles, which may over-qualify him for this picture. He glowers and broods, beats and gets beaten, while all around him tank-like hot rods go screaming through the bullet-filled air and buying the farm in billowing fireballs. Once upon a time, car chases were a highlight of any serious action movie (come back, George Miller!); here they are its entire substance, which will make "Death Race" a source of fascination mainly for those who've never seen one.

The movie is notionally based on that '70s grindhouse classic, "Death Race 2000," which starred David Carradine and the pre-"Rocky" Sylvester Stallone. But that film had elements of satire and gobbets of humor amid the carnage. "Death Race," with its leeched color, is grim and laughless, and Anderson pushes his stuttery cameras so close-in to the action that it's often a strain to discern what exactly is going on. Or, if it need be said, to care.

Check out everything we've got on "Death Race."

For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.

Don't miss Kurt Loder's reviews of "The House Bunny," "The Rocker" and "Hamlet 2," also new in theaters this week.

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Rapper Da Brat was sentenced to three years behind bars, seven years of probation and 200 hours of community service Friday morning (August 22) for striking a woman in the face with a rum bottle. The October 2007 incident at an Atlanta-area nightclub left the victim's face permanently scarred.

According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gail Flake handed down the punishment, while about six members of the rapper's family quietly wept inside the courtroom. Da Brat (born Shawntae Harris) told her relatives "I love y'all" as she was led out of the courtroom by sheriff's deputies. "We love you too," they replied.

Harris had pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault, a charge stemming from a serious physical altercation that happened last Halloween during a party at Jermaine Dupri's Studio 72 nightclub just outside Atlanta. According to reports, Da Brat got into a heated confrontation with one of the club's waitresses and was accused of striking the woman in the face with a bottle of rum, causing numerous cuts on her face.

The waitress was taken to a hospital for treatment. Police said the Halloween attack wasn't the first time Da Brat and the victim were involved in a physical altercation.

This is also not Da Brat's first brush with the law. In 2000 she faced charges that she beat a woman with a gun during a dispute over VIP seating in a Buckhead, Georgia, nightclub. The victim in that incident received six stitches for a head wound. That case did not make it to trial, however. Instead, in 2001 the rapper agreed to perform 80 hours of community service, serve a year's probation and pay a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to misdemeanor reckless conduct.

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In over 70 years of shared comic history they've existed mostly as reluctant friends, memorably coming to blows on several occasions. The bottom line is that Superman doesn't really like Batman at all, so it's worth wondering how he'd feel now that he's been saved by him.

Flush with the success of "The Dark Knight," Warner Bros. has announced an ambitious slate of upcoming movies based on its DC Comics properties to be released within the next three years — notably a third Batman movie and a Superman reboot, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Announcement of the reboot — a complete reimagining along the lines of this year's "The Incredible Hulk" — comes two years after director Bryan Singer failed to capture public imagination with a conflicted take on the Big Blue Boy Scout, and nearly two months after the gritty, nihilistic "The Dark Knight" opened to record-breaking numbers.

So how will Warner Bros. turn Superman around? By making him even darker, Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov told the newspaper.

" 'Superman' didn't quite work as a film in the way that we wanted it to," Robinov said of Singer's movie, which made just $215 million domestically. "It didn't position the character the way he needed to be positioned," he continued. "Had 'Superman' worked in 2006, we would have had a movie for Christmas of this year or 2009, but now the plan is just to reintroduce Superman. We're going to try to go dark to the extent that the character allows it."

In addition to a "Batman 3" and a new "Superman," Warner Bros. also plans to release two other comic book movies (not including "Watchmen") by 2012. Among the likely candidates for the big-screen treatment are the Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and, of course, the Green Arrow, whose film, "Super Max" takes place in a high-security prison for meta-humans.

Like rival Marvel Studios — who this year released the mega-successful "Iron Man" as well as "The Incredible Hulk" — Warner Bros. plans to release standalone films for all of its heroes with the ultimate goal of creating a super team-up, Robinov told the Journal. "The Avengers," a superhero consortium of Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Ant-Man and Thor, will get a release in 2011.

DC's analogue, "Justice League of America," which had been slated to open next year, will instead wait until after the next four films.

For breaking news and previews of the latest comic book movies — updated around the clock — visit SplashPage.MTV.

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He's on fire in the streets. Kids and adults alike are wearing bootleg T-shirts emblazoned with his face and phrases. Approximately 95 percent of the hip-hop community is singing his praises. And yet his appeal is just as strong in other parts of the country and the world: His remarks resonate from Chicago to Compton, from Brooklyn's Marcy projects to Marseille, France.

In a scenario that would have been nearly impossible to imagine four years ago, we're talking about the Democratic candidate for president of the United States.

"He's gonna win," LL Cool J told MTV News matter of factly, as if the outcome of this fall's presidential election were already a foregone conclusion. "We need to support Barack Obama and his quest for the Oval Office."

"What [Obama] represents is, we as a people are a part of the American Dream," Jay-Z — who displayed a giant photo of Obama onstage during his recent Heart of the City Tour with Mary J. Blige — told Vibe recently. "The message is for a kid from in Marcy projects right now to say, 'Maybe I can be the president.' "

"I think Barack can help cure the country," Nas, who recently released a song called "Black President," told MTV News earlier this year. "Not just [for] us blacks, but also with all Americans. I think there's so much our president can do. [Obama] seems like a human being — I say that because a lot of presidents don't seem like human beings, they seem like straight-up businessmen who care about nothing but the business."

LL Cool J, Jay and Nas are just three members of what may be Obama's most vocal group of cheerleaders: the hip-hop community. Outkast's Big Boi recently released a video for his song "Sumthin's Gotta Give" that depicts himself, Mary J. Blige and John Legend working in an Obama campaign office. Kanye West recently teamed up with Jay — who calls himself "the 'hood's Barack" on his "A Billi" freestyle — for an Obama-boosting track called "Jockin' Jay-Z."

Rappers from T.I. to Common to Young Jeezy to first-time voter Soulja Boy Tell'em have spoken out for him. We've heard a myriad of pro-Barack songs, we've seen the release of Obama-themed mixtapes, and Ludacris — one of the few major rappers who has met Obama — recently did a mixtape freestyle about the candidate that probably had more impact than he'd intended (more on that in a minute).

For once, there's something that virtually everyone in rap agrees on. Yes, there is excitement about the possibility of seeing the first African-American take the Oval Office, but their collective co-signs are about much more than race. Many feel he's the best man to lead the country through the deep challenges we face.

"We're a small part of it, but we're showing our support to show that we are aware of what's going on and where it's going," said Young Jeezy, whose forthcoming LP features a duet with Nas called "My President." (Check out a clip of the song right here.) "We really want change. We really need it. It's not the same no more.

"I'm not endorsing the dude because he's black," he continued. "Listen to what he's saying: He's saying what I wanna hear, just like my favorite rapper. If [an MC] is saying what I wanna hear, I'mma go buy his album. If [a candidate] is saying what I wanna hear, I'mma go vote for him. I can vote, by the way. Watch me, I'm going to register to vote."

Yet hip-hop's embrace is a mixed blessing — politically, anyway — for the candidate, as the media firestorm over Ludacris' mixtape freestyle about Obama showed dramatically. Luda's lyrical jabs at Hillary Clinton, John McCain and George Bush were vilified by some media outlets, leading Obama's camp to issue a statement saying Luda "should be ashamed" of his words. (Ludacris had no comment on the situation when contacted by MTV News.)

The controversy put a long-simmering question into bold relief: Can hip-hop support Obama without hurting his campaign?

Cleaner-cut entertainers such as Oprah Winfrey and Usher have not only publicly expressed their support for Obama, but have appeared by his side to shake hands, take photos and/or address large crowds. Yet edgier artists, especially most current rappers, haven't been seen anywhere near him. (Ironically, presumptive Republican candidate John McCain appeared onstage next to Jeezy on national television and shook his hand).

In fact, the most prominent acknowledgement of hip-hop's involvement in the Obama campaign came via the statement Obama's press rep sent out in answer to the Ludacris episode — although he has given some carefully measured props to Jay-Z and Kanye West, saying he likes their music, and of course made a subtle Jay-Z reference about treating haters' comments like "dirt off your shoulder" in a speech during the primaries.

"I think the first thing [the hip-hop community has to] do is let the man become president," Ice Cube opined. "They gotta work in other ways to get him in the White House. It's not really about doing a song right now. He has to separate himself from that stuff; he's in a political race. Everybody should kick back for a minute, see what happens in November. If he becomes president, he wouldn't have to separate himself as much from some of these statements. Because Obama can't come as hard-core as Ludacris as far as his message right now — he can't do that. Us rappers might have to hold our tongues for a few months."

"[Rappers] need to be quiet, super quiet on Barack," Scarface agreed. "All it takes is for a mutha----er getting out there being real [ghetto] and people will be like, 'We don't wanna f--- with Obama'; they'll wanna smash on him because of what somebody else said. [Someone] speaks for himself and its Barack's fault? What did Luda say — that's Barack's fault? Is it Barack's fault what I'm saying? I don't wanna be the reason he don't get [the presidency]!"

Indeed, Craig Werner, a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison who teaches courses on black music and hip-hop culture, said a potential pitfall for Obama is the often "horribly distorted" depiction of hip-hop in the mainstream media. "The most problematic hip-hop gets 90 percent of the coverage in the non-music press," Werner said. "Hip-hop is associated in so many people's minds with crime, drugs and misogyny, so Obama's faced with a constellation of problematic images. The question is: How do you send a message that doesn't wind up demonizing somebody?"

Chamillionaire took a slightly softer stance on the situation. "It's cool to make a couple comments, but be careful about what you say because they're gonna try to pin it towards him," he said. "We know it's so much tension around politics right now, they're trying to take him down. Maybe everybody needs to chill out a little bit. I'm not sure how much Barack mixtapes are helping him. I don't think no person is doing a mixtape [addressing] Barack's [political] views.

"As far as the Ludacris situation," he continued, "I don't think Luda or anybody ever thought it would be that big. I heard the freestyle the minute it came out and, in his defense, that's what people do on the mixtape circuit: I've put out multiple mixtapes where I might not [actually] feel a certain way about somebody but I'll say a punch line to give them that shock value. It's nothing new to the mixtape circuit. I don't think he really wants McCain in a wheelchair [the lyric reads: 'McCain don't belong in any chair unless he's paralyzed'], it's just a freestyle thing. It was crazy they took it that big."

For its part, the Obama camp says it embraces the support of the hip-hop community. "During this election, young people from all walks of life have responded to Senator Obama's message of hope and change for the future with great enthusiasm," Corey Ealons, director of African-American media for the campaign, told MTV News. "And that includes those in the hip-hop community: individuals who are talented, intelligent, and entrepreneurial in spirit, but who in the past have felt that government and politics don't really work for them.

"Senator Obama wants to engage the hip-hop community more in the political process because issues including education, jobs and health care are as important to this generation as any other. We will be talking to the hip-hop community more throughout this campaign and letting them know they have reason to put their trust in Senator Obama because he will work to fundamentally change their lives."

Ealons stressed that while Obama "absolutely" appreciates the musical innovation and creativity of hip-hop, he's made it very clear that he would like to see a more conscious attempt to include positive portrayals of women and the community in the music.

"The hip-hop experience is [for some] the black experience, and the campaign has been very inclusive and has been one that has welcomed voices from all over the country," Ealons said. "With the hip-hop community it's been an interesting conversation because, on the one hand, we know the hip-hop community has reflected a great deal of what's been happening in our inner-cities for a long time, and the systemic challenges that face that community. Senator Obama has a plan as part of his overall call for change that will address those challenges. The voice of the hip-hop community will be reflected in this campaign with Senator Obama's plan for inner city communities."

While encouraging hip-hop to continue its efforts to get out the vote this fall, Ealons said it remains to be seen if the senator would literally embrace the culture by appearing on a stage with, say, Jay-Z or Kanye West. "These situations are a case-by-case basis, when and where and timing," he said, pointing to recent shout-outs from Jay-Z during his concerts and the multiple shout-outs from Alicia Keys and others at the recent BET Awards as evidence of the support for the Obama campaign. "The hip-hop community has clearly embraced Senator Obama and they see him as someone who can effect change in a dramatic way. The key with us as we go through the next few months is identifying opportunities where we can work together to communicate the senator's message."

Despite the calls for calm from Cube, Jeezy and others, asking MCs to button up is futile — but making sure they're more cognizant of their words, especially in the wake of the Luda freestyle, might be a more realistic goal.

"I thought about [hip-hop associations harming Obama's chances], I really did." Jay-Z said to Vibe recently. "So in the concert, I always say, 'This is not sponsored by Obama.' I make it very clear to say that, 'cause I know — 'Obama associated with this guy from f---in' Marcy projects?!' I know that's coming any day. I think about that often. I mean, what do you do? What do I do? I have to support the guy. ... But I don't wanna hurt him. I ain't like the preachers and all those guys. I don't wanna make the inappropriate statements and keep going. I'm the guy that will fall back."

"You gotta speak what you feel — you gotta be respectful, though," said Young Jeezy. "Like anything you do, you can't come to anybody's show and be disrespectful if you're supporting them. So you don't speak on nobody and act a fool."

Werner said the situation goes both ways. "In some ways, you have to assume most of the hip-hop community will be behind him because they don't have a choice, because their vote ain't going to McCain," he said. "But if he uses this kind of secret code, the dirt off the shoulder, saying, 'You and I both know it, but I can't afford to say so,' it could work for him."

Oakland, California, MC Mistah F.A.B. agreed, but said more recognition from the candidate is in order. "[Rappers] have to realize that [supporting Obama publicly] is like a corporate meeting: 'Come support us, but dress for the occasion. Put on your attitude for the occasion,' " he said. "It's hard. You wanna see him be a part of it more, but you know the powers that be are going to make it such a big deal. They'll be like, 'Obama was with dude [who] was smoking weed.' I would love to see Obama go on 'Mixtape Monday' and show his involvement, show he's not trying to distance himself.

"If a king goes out and fights wars with his people, his people will do anything for him," he added. "If you're just a king in your castle and you calling shots, then the respect from the people will never be there. We don't see our leaders with us in our situations on a heavy, heavy level."

South Carolina mixtape master Chuck T has a harsher view: He said, in no uncertain terms, that he feels betrayed by Obama's lack of overt reciprocation for the hip-hop community's affections.

"A lot of people may not feel me on this, but you gotta feel me if you real: I'm not voting for Obama," the DJ said. "I don't like Obama. Obama is a traitor. He turned his back on everybody. He turned his back on Reverend [Jeremiah] Wright — Reverend Wright has been with him since the beginning. Ludacris has done stuff in his support, he speaks the truth, but Obama feels that a certain demographic may not vote for him [because of it], so he turns his back on Luda. Bernie Mac, he invited Bernie Mac to come in and do his roast or whatever it was called. Bernie Mac said some things that were offensive, that's what Bernie Mac is known for. What does he do? Turn his back on Bernie Mac. Who's he gonna denounce next? I'm not even voting this year. If I did vote, it would be for McCain. I like to know the enemy. Barack, I don't know."

Despite the passion of Chuck T's statements, political reality dictates that standing arm-in-arm with the hip-hop community may not be the best way to advance Obama's presidential aspirations, at least for now. There may never be a time when he, as a politician, can openly embrace it without coming under fire.

And while it seems fairly certain that we'll never see Obama doing the "Weezy Wee" at a Lil Wayne concert, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, chairman of the nonpartisan Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, noted that there may be a more simple reason why Obama's acknowledgment of his hip-hop co-signs hasn't been trumpeted more loudly.

"Having a young person like Obama run for president has inspired many in the hip-hop community," Chavis said. "But he's running for president, so he's not going to endorse any one genre of music or any one aspect of a cultural phenomenon like hip-hop — because he's going to be the president of all Americans."

Get informed! Head to Choose or Lose for nonstop coverage of the 2008 presidential election, including everything from the latest news on the candidates to on-the-ground multimedia reports from our 51 citizen journalists, MTV and MySpace's Presidential Dialogues, and much more.

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Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has chosen Delaware Senator Joseph Biden as his running mate, according to CNN. Citing "multiple Democratic sources" the network reported the news at about 1 a.m. on Saturday (August 23), though the Obama campaign had planned to reveal the vice presidential pick via a text message sent to supporters. Most expected to receive the news sometime on Saturday morning, before the two running mates are scheduled to attend a rally in Springfield, Illinois.

Biden will be taking the stage at the Democratic National Convention next week as part of a history-making ticket looking to take on Republican Senator John McCain and his soon-to-be-announced running mate in November.

The 65-year-old senator has long been considered a top contender for a job. As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, with close to six terms in the Senate under his belt, Biden has the experience many think Obama lacks in foreign policy and defense issues. He's also a Catholic with a blue-collar background, which could help Obama with that demographic.

On the other hand, the Washington veteran (who ran for president himself in 1988 and 2008) represents a state that is already in Obama's column, and he has a history of putting his foot in his mouth. On the campaign trail earlier this year, Biden received flak for calling Obama "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." He quickly apologized for the statement.

In the days leading up to the announcement the speculation ramped up, with every media outlet digging for every kernel of information that might suggest who Obama was going to choose, staking out those on the short list and practically begging them for any hints. As of earlier this week, the New York Times reported that the short list had gotten down to a trio of potential VPs that included Biden, Indiana's Senator Evan Bayh and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

As the time ticked down on Obama's announcement, supporters of the senator's one-time rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton, began to lose hope that Obama would choose the former first lady, even as the buzz about her joining the ticket picked up again. Fox News even reported on Friday that there was a move afoot by some delegates to force Clinton onto the ticket. Another long shot candidate, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, was also said to be in the running. On Friday, a true dark horse candidate emerged in Texas Representative Chet Edwards, a big supporter of veterans' issues who confirmed to CNN that he had been vetted by the campaign.

The Times had predicted that Obama would likely choose a "relatively safe" running mate to avoid taking any chances with a selection that might change voters' minds on the candidate or alienate a significant portion of his base. Then again, with his lead over McCain slipping away over the past few weeks, Obama was in need of a buzz-worthy pick that could re-energize the campaign.

Obama reached his final decision while on his recent vacation in Hawaii in what was an "unexpectedly intense process" that the paper said was squeezed into a shorter period to avoid actively vetting potential running mates' backgrounds before Clinton quit the race in June. The candidate confirmed on Thursday that he had made his decision but wasn't ready to reveal it yet.

Obama was faced with the decision of filling out the ticket with someone who could plug that perceived hole, someone who would reinforce his message of change, a running mate who could help him win an important toss-up state, or someone who could boost his appeal to white, working class voters, whom he had trouble reaching in some states during the primaries.

For a time, former Senator John Edwards was also rumored to be on a long short list, but the 2004 Democratic VP nominee's second chance at the #2 slot, or a potential spot in an Obama cabinet, imploded when he recently admitted to an extramarital affair.

Despite all the attention, there's one thing political pundits typically agree on: While the hoopla surrounding the VP pick always provide a momentary bump in the polls, it rarely has much of an impact on winning states or regions of the country come November.

Don't worry about missing out on the action: MTV News and our Street Team '08 will be on the ground at both conventions to sort through all the speeches, streamers and ceremony to find the information you need to choose our next president. And head to Choose or Lose for nonstop coverage of the 2008 presidential election. And after history is made in Denver, MTV News will help you make sense of it all in "Obama Decoded," premiering Friday, August 29 at 7:30.

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After Rihanna, Paramore and Pink were announced early Thursday afternoon (August 21) as performers at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, you might have thought that was enough star power for one day. You might have thought wrong!

T.I. — one of the most successful rappers in the business and a top-10 finalist in MTV News' "Hottest MCs in the Game" competition earlier this year — has also been announced as a performer on the show. He'll be performing a track from his forthcoming LP, Paper Trail.

Earlier Thursday, MTV revealed that Paramore (nominated in the Best Art Direction in a Video and Best Rock Video categories) will rock the crowd with a performance of their hit "Misery Business," while Pink is set to perform her new single, "So What," and Rihanna (who could walk away with the Moonman for Best Female Video) will deliver her latest smash, "Disturbia."

Over the past few weeks, Lil Wayne, the Jonas Brothers and Kid Rock were all confirmed to take the 2008 Video Music Awards stage.

A list of presenters and additional acts gracing the VMA stage will be announced in the coming weeks. This year's awards show, which airs live September 7 at 9 p.m. from the legendary Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood, will be hosted by British comic and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" co-star Russell Brand.

Want to attend this year's VMAs? Well, here's your chance. One lucky viewer will be honored at this year's awards for the good work they've done. Think.MTV, MTV's online community for youth activism, is hooking up one young activist and shipping them off to Los Angeles to attend the VMAs, and it could be you. From now until August 22, all Think.MTV members who join the "Do Good. Go to the VMAs" group can enter to win two tickets to the VMAs, along with travel and hotel accommodations.

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NEW YORK — Both UniverSoul and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey can fold up their tents, cage their tigers, shave their bearded ladies and tell their clowns to wash the paint from their happy little faces. They've been upstaged: T-Pain has the flyest circus in town.

On Thursday night, the new king of hip-hop and R&B guest hooks brought his Southern sideshow swagger to Manhattan, unveiling his third LP, Thr33 Ringz.

(Check out photos from T-Pain's Thr33 Ringz party right here!)

Popcorn and hot dogs were served while a big-top announcer urged everyone to "step right up" outside the venue, Swing 46. A colorfully dressed midget greeted patrons at the door, and a few feet from the open bar, cotton candy was served. Before Pain made his entrance, Lil Jon arrived looking as joyful as ever, now that his long-labored label problems were solved with a new deal several days back (a "content partnership" deal with the Orchard).

But on to the star attraction: Pain arrived and hugged the King of Crunk while making light of the fact that they looked alike, with their dreads and Oakley sunglasses. The head of Jive Records, Barry Weiss, took the stage to introduce one of the new cornerstones of his label.

"We're gonna f--- people up with this album. We're gonna shift the paragon. ... October 28, muthaf---ers!" he proudly predicted of the album's release.

Teddy P. (not to be confused with his baby-blue, six-and-half-foot mascot, Teddy Penderazdoun) later grabbed the mic and joked, "All the people that don't drink that's leavin' early, to hell with y'all."

As the album began to play, a skit commenced: two disgruntled funnymen griping about the job. "Two clowns that work for my circus that have never worked for a more f---ed-up circus than mine," T-Pain explained.

"I'm bringing new elephants, new tigers, new tat men, new strong men," he said later. "I'm bringing color."

The LP's first actual song was "Ringleader Man," which he performed a portion of on the BET Awards. Shortly after was "Therapy," a record that re-teams Pain and his "Good Life" co-star Kanye West. The song is about "all the crazy b----s that just don't have no sense," he told the crowd. He gave an example of meeting a stripper at her place of business. The girl was so nutty, he offered her $20 to shut up.

"This ain't the way I wanted it to end, but I gotta go," he sings on the track. "You still gotta your sh-- together, girl/ Shawty, you ain't gotta be scared of me/ All we need is therapy."

Kanye brings satire and current events to the song, making a naughty Obama reference by saying that the girl he rhymes about wanted to "[emasculate him] like Jesse Jackson."

"You too much pressure, dog," he adds. "You about to raise my cholesterol."

"Freeze" features Chris Brown and basically tells the ladies that if they can dance like Pain and his teenage buddy, they have a great chance of getting with the guys. Pain made a sexual reference while describing the record that elicited gasps from some crowd members.

"Chopped and Screwed" has a cameo from Ludacris. It's about going messed-up in the head after somebody breaks up with you. 'Cris does bring his patented lightheartedness, though: "Have you praising the lord like, 'Thank you! Thank you! I really wanna thank you!"

"Karaoke" takes aim at all the rappers and singers who have started using the Auto-Tune effect on their voices since Pain gave it its resurgence. DJ Khaled comes on to cheer him on: "Y'all a bunch of karaoke-f----in' n---as," The Miami DJ yells. Pain actually raps most of the record.

Other guests on the album include Bow Wow, Rick Ross and the singing symphony of Musiq Soulchild, Anthony Hamilton and Raheem DeVaughn on "Super Soul Song (Reality Show)."

Pain wrote and produced the entire LP, and he's still recording. Most of the tracks are around the mid-tempo range and play nicely to Teddy's mastery of vocal melody. The video for the first single, "Can't Believe It," also debuted at the party. It's a colorful, imaginative buffet of eye candy that focuses on performances and special effects. Lil Wayne co-stars.

Thr33 Ringz drops this fall. Prior to releasing it, T-Pain is putting out a mixtape called Pr33 Ringz.

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Fame, They Wear It Well, but for How Long?

Jefferson Reid

Jonas BrothersMadame Tussauds

This time, the cute-as-a-button boys' yard sale is for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Fanatics will recognize these duds from their No. 1 album, A Little Bit Longer. Speaking of which, we understand why Nick didn't want to wear those mauve monstrosities even one little bit longer.

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Chris Kattan Makes Split Official

Natalie Finn

Two days after revealing that there was trouble in paradise, Chris Kattan filed for a legal separation from his wife of less than two months, model Sunshine Tutt, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason it all went to hell so fast, per documents filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

A rep for Kattan couldn't immediately be reached for comment, but the funnyman's publicist told E! News Tuesday, "They are separated for the moment, but are working on it."

The paperwork heralding the more dire-sounding split cites Aug. 10 as the actual date of separation, and also states that the estranged couple signed a prenuptial agreement five days before they tied the knot. (View the petition.)

"We are in the process of resolving the matter amicably," a lawyer for Tutt told E! News Thursday.

Kattan and Tutt were engaged for 18 months before tying the knot June 28 in an ecofriendly ceremony in Yosemite Valley, Calif., in front of, among others, Will Ferrell, Charlie Sheen and wife Brooke Mueller, Eric Dane, Brooke Shields, Jimmy Fallon and Parker Posey.

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Jason Lee's Name Is Dad Again

Natalie Finn

Extreme baby-namer Jason Lee and live-in girlfriend Ceren Alkac have welcomed their first child together, a daughter born Aug. 10, Us Weekly reports.

The couple haven't revealed their new addition's name yet, but here's hoping Lee, who confirmed in May that he and Alkac were expecting a girl, got the lead out when he named Pilot Inspektor, his now nearly 5-year-old son from a previous relationship.

"The opening track, 'He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's the Pilot,' absolutely blew my mind when I first heard it," Lee, who obviously had some explaining to do, told Entertainment Weekly in 2003, referring to the 2000 Granddaddy album The Sophtware Slump.

He also said, however, that it was the boy's mom, actress Beth Riesgraf, who came up with the name after hearing the tune, so his daughter has a fighting chance.

Meanwhile, the My Name Is Earl star has had no comment on reports that he and Alkac are planning to tie the knot soon. He was spied waiting in line, seemingly for a marriage license, at the Norwalk, Calif., courthouse in June.

It would be the second vow swap for Lee, 38, who was married to photographer Carmen Llywelyn from 1995 to 2001.

(Originally published Aug. 22, 2008 at 3:37 p.m.)

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Kattan files for separation 2 months after wedding

The comedian filed for legal separation from model wife Sunshine Tutt after only eight weeks of marriage. The couple were married June 28 in Yosemite Valley.

They spent roughly a month together; Kattan's filings indicate they separated on Aug. 10. The couple have no children together, and Kattan's filing in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday indicates the pair have a prenuptial agreement.

By filing for separation instead of divorce, Kattan is leaving the door open for a reunion with Tutt, but is indicating the pair intend to live separate lives for the time being.

Kattan, 37, appeared on "SNL" from 1996 to 2003. His screen credits include "Corky Romano" and "A Night at the Roxbury."

The couple became engaged on Christmas Eve 2006.

An e-mail to Kattan's publicist was not immediately returned Friday evening.

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Producer ready for Denver's Super Bowl of politics

By LYNN ELBER, AP Television Writer

Super BowlNATO summitnational political conventions

Then he learned that the convention starting Monday would move from the 20,000-seat Pepsi Center to 76,000-seat Invesco Field for Barack Obama's acceptance speech on the final night, Thursday.

Kirshner's reaction?

"After taking oxygen for about an hour ..." he said, letting the punch line hang in the air before continuing. "I said to my partner, one thing we're lucky about is that we've done so many stadium shows."

This time around, it's both timing and size that count.

There's the issue of shifting the convention from one venue to another in one evening, and having to work around football games scheduled at Invesco within a couple days of the convention's opening and closing.

The plan was to bring equipment into the stadium this weekend and then "caravan over" from the Pepsi Center after events wrap there Wednesday night, Kirshner said. "We'll rehearse a little and then show up Thursday and hope to do it."

Afterward, he has 48 hours to clear out for next Sunday's game between the University of Colorado and Colorado State.

Kirshner considers it worth the stress.

"I have my team with me, I know what we're getting into. It's not easy, but at the end of the day it's going to be one of the most historic things ever, and how can you not want to be a part of it?" Kirshner said Friday from Denver.

The event at the Pepsi Center isn't small scale, by any measure.

About 400 people, including stagehands and technical crews, are at work as RK Productions oversees the design, installation and operation of set, light and audio systems. The company also is responsible for entertainment; even signs and banners are part of Kirshner's portfolio.

But it's the video displays that tend to make the biggest splash.

"Every time you do one of these, you try to do something technologically advanced that people haven't seen before," Kirshner said.

That was a wall of 56 video cubes at the 1992 Democratic convention. This time around, Kirshner said, the set offers some 8,000 square feet of video panels with the flexibility to provide a changing background for each speaker.

At heart, a political convention is "a big corporate meeting," he said, which his company also routinely produces.

And no matter how dramatic the gathering or Obama's stadium speech turns out to be from a political standpoint, as a production it won't have the punch of, say, a Beijing Olympics ceremony.



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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Designer brings haute couture home to S.Leone

By Katrina Manson
1 hour, 46 minutes ago

Adama Kai, a fashion designer trained in New York and
Paris, organized the photo-shoot to promote her new store and
company, Aschobi Designs. The 25-year-old has eschewed job
prospects in the developed world to come home and follow her

"Maybe I have more opportunities as a designer over there,
but I'm making a bigger statement over here," said Kai, who was
born in New Jersey but moved to Sierra Leone shortly afterwards
and lived there until she was four.

"In the same way that Ralph Lauren stands for America,
Chanel for France, and Versace for Italy, I want Aschobi to
stand for African fashion," she said.

Her store is tucked between a small printers and a
newspaper office in hilly Freetown's hectic downtown.

"I know this is the last place you'd expect to find haute
couture. But I want to replace all of this darkness of the past
with beauty," she said.

Sierra Leone, ranked the world's least developed country by
the United Nations, is recovering from a 1991-2002 civil war
that shocked the world with images of drugged-up child soldiers
hacking off villagers' limbs with machetes.

An estimated 30-50 percent of skilled Sierra Leoneans fled
the conflict, in which 50,000 people were killed.

"Everybody thinks I should be in Paris, London or New
York," said Kai, who attended the same fashion school as
designers Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan. She worked in New York
as a styling assistant on Flaunt magazine and later handled
creative portfolios for a management agency.

"I've given up a lot to be here and I miss Paris and the
fashion life in America. But this is really important to me,"
said Kai, who launched her business in January.

"This is my only job. This is my life actually."


Sierra Leone may be one of the world's poorest countries
but President Ernest Bai Koroma said in March foreign investors
were showing fresh confidence and the former British colony
could become a leading investment destination in West Africa.

The economy is expected to grow by 7 percent this year,
after between 6.5-7 percent last year. But around 57 percent of
its people still live on less than $1 a day.

Most of Sierra Leone's 750,000-1 million-strong diaspora
are still abroad, and the remittances they send home are worth
around $250 million a year.

Marie WilsonEllen Johnson-SirleafWorld Bankwomen in AfricaUnited NationsEthiopiaWest AfricaSierra Leone

(Additional reporting by Alphonso Toweh in Monrovia;
Editing by Alistair Thomson and Clar Ni Chonghaile)

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NYT's Carr retraces recovery in new book

By JEFF BAENEN, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 16 minutes ago

David Carr

Was it his best friend who pulled the gun on Carr some 20 years ago when Carr — fired from a job and thrown out of a bar — tried to kick in his friend's front door and broke a window, as Carr remembered it, or was it Carr himself who held the gun?

Armed with a video camera and digital recorder, Carr revisited his old haunts and interviewed ex-girlfriends, former employers and people he did drugs with. The result is "The Night of the Gun," a memoir that traces Carr's rise from cocaine addict to single dad raising twin girls to sobered-up media columnist for The New York Times.

"I'd always said I'd never write a book like this. And then I started to think, 'But if I ever did, it would be really good,'" Carr says.

Critics agree, heaping praise upon "The Night of the Gun" (subtitled "A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life. His Own"). The New York Observer said Carr's first book "turns the traditional memoir on its head, assuming as it does that its author knows nothing about his own life and must research it as though it were someone else's." Simon & Schuster is giving "The Night of the Gun" a big promotional push, with an accompanying Web site — http://www.nightofthegun — and about 75,000 initial copies of the book, published Aug. 5.

But the raves are not universal. After reading an excerpt featured as the cover story in The New York Times Magazine, Forbes media columnist James Brady said he doesn't plan to read Carr's book, calling it "an exercise in self-indulgent narcissism. What a waste — of talent, energy and professional competence."

Carr shrugs off Brady's criticism.

"His idea is that I should write a big long book about my glorious media career," Carr told The Associated Press in a telephone interview, "and he and about four other people would read that."

Carr, 51, said a "college tuition moment" prompted him to write his book. The twin girls Erin and Meagan that he had with a former girlfriend and cocaine dealer — identified as Anna in the book — are now 20 and attending universities in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Carr says he wrote up a book proposal "on a dare to myself" in two days. After an agent sold the idea, Carr — who lives in suburban Montclair, N.J. — traveled back to Minnesota to start the interviews. He ended up interviewing about 60 people and working on the book for three years. He took the transcribed interviews, numerous documents and pictures to his family's cabin in the Adirondacks and wrote the book last summer.

Anna, who now lives in Arizona, agreed to be interviewed, but Carr says his first wife, Kim, did not. (Carr has since remarried and has an 11-year-old daughter named Madeline with his second wife, Jill.)

"She had pushed me back out of her life once, and she didn't really feel a need to have me back in. I think she thought the book idea was stupid," Carr says.

After battling Anna for the twins' custody — and winning — Carr said "it wasn't unpleasant" to talk to her again after all these years.

"I like her and she likes me, but it's just weird. Really weird," Carr said in his raspy voice. "'How about that scab you have on you from, you know, 20 years ago. Do you mind ripping that off and talking to me about it?'"

Comedian and actor Tom Arnold, who started his standup career in Minneapolis, was pals with Carr on the city's party circuit in the 1980s and is featured in the book. He calls Carr's story redemptive.

"He did some outrageous things, and he did some horrible things, and yet that's not who he is. ... But that's what drugs will do to you," Arnold told the AP. "He survived, and people can survive."

In the book, Carr doesn't flinch from describing his arrests (including one he didn't remember, for punching a cabbie), his trips to rehab (which turned out to be five instead of the four he remembered) and his bout with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. (Carr says his health is fine, although he's been smoking a lot because of the book — the interview is interrupted several times by his hacking cough.)

Rudy PerpichMinneapolisBrian LambertTwin Cities ReaderInsideKurt AndersenNew YorkThe Atlantic MonthlyThe New York Timeshttp://www.nightofthegunSimon & Schusterhttp://www.simonsays

Jeff Baenen can be reached at jbaenen(at)

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Prime-Time Metered Market Wednesday Ratings: NBC's Summer Olympics Steamroller Continues

2 hours, 13 minutes ago

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`Desperate Housewives' stars teaming up for Emmys

Desperate Housewives

Marcia Cross, Dana Delany, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria Parker and Nicollette Sheridan were on the first list of presenters announced Thursday by the TV academy. The actresses will join together to hand out a trophy at the Sept. 21 ceremony airing on ABC.

Nominations or no nominations, the houswives' ABC drama remains popular with viewers, and the Emmys could use a ratings boost: Last year's ceremony posted its second-smallest audience on record, just under 13 million.

Other pairings: Emmy nominees Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("The New Adventures of Old Christine") and Hugh Laurie ("House") will present separately, and Tina Fey ("30 Rock") and Amy Poehler ("Saturday Night Live") will team up. Fey and Poehler worked together on "SNL" and co-starred in the movie "Baby Mama."

"It's always fun to come up with unique pairings, cast reunions and surprising personalities as presenters on the Emmy show, and this year we've got a number of those," said Emmy executive producer Ken Ehrlich. "And the good news is, we've got plenty more to come."

Huffman won a best comedy series actress Emmy in 2005 and "Desperate Housewives" has received directing and other awards over the years. This year, guest actress nominations went to Polly Bergen and Kathryn Joosten and the show earned nods for costumes and hairstyling.


On the Net:

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ESPN extends new-media deal for baseball coverage

1 hour, 8 minutes ago

ESPNMajor League

Financial terms of the agreement, which run through 2013,
weren't announced. The deal will significantly increase ESPN's
ability to put MLB content onto any number of platforms and,
for the first time, allow ESPN to stream live games and the
Home Run Derby telecast on ESPN360 and ESPN Mobile TV.

The live streamed games available will be "Sunday Night
Baseball," "Monday Night Baseball" and "Wednesday Night
Baseball." They will appear on ESPN360, ESPN's online
broadband service, which is different from ESPN.

Also included in the deal are online and mobile highlights
and interactive TV applications. It will encompass other
platforms, too, like Apple iTunes and Microsoft's Xbox Live.

The deal also includes fantasy baseball and data rights for
ESPN's popular GameCast.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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Canadian channel Lonestar rides in new direction

56 minutes ago

Toronto-based CanWest said that MovieTime, which goes live
October 6, will feature about 250 Hollywood movies each month,
including such titles as "Independence Day," "The Bourne
Identity" and "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider."

Lonestar, which launched in 2001, featured classic Western
films and TV series like "Bonanza."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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NBC nabs rights to competitive swimming events

12 minutes ago

NBC SportsMichael Phelps ratings

The network said it will broadcast the 2009 World Swimming
Championship from Rome and the 2009-11 USA Swimming National
Championships. Financial terms of the deal with USA Swimming
weren't announced. NBC already has the rights to the 2012 U.S.
Olympics swimming trials and the 2012 Summer Olympics in

It will be a little less than a year between Phelps'
Olympic triumphs in Beijing and coverage of the Rome event in
July and August 2009. Phelps has said he will continue to swim
competitively through the 2012 games.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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Crow aims to upload voters with free download

By RAQUEL MARIA DILLON, Associated Press Writer

Sheryl Crow

The Grammy Award-winning singer is offering a free download of her politically charged tune "Gasoline" to anyone who logs onto the Rock the Vote Web site or anyone on the group's mailing list.

And the first 50,000 people who register three friends to vote will get a free digital copy of her album "Detours."

"I hope people wake up and emotionally engage in issues," Crow said in a telephone interview during a visit to Los Angeles.

Crow's giveaway is a kickoff to Rock the Vote's voter registration drive, said the organization's executive director Heather Smith.

Crow, 46, was one of the founding artists of Rock the Vote 18 years ago. She said the "Detours" album fits perfectly into the group's cause since the lyrics touch on topics such as adoption, breast cancer, the war in Iraq, the environment and Hurricane Katrina.

"It's about the issues that everyone's talking about, but there's a lot of hope," Crow said. "At this moment in my life, writing about anything else would be uninteresting and impossible because I feel such urgency."

Rock the Vote aims to register 2 million young people to vote by November — the largest youth voter drive in history by three times, Smith said. Anyone who recruits three people to vote will have to log onto the Rock the Vote Web site and go through a verification process before receiving Crow's album, Smith said.


On the Net:

Rock the Vote: http://www.rockthevote/sherylwantsyoutovote

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Rihanna bests Archuleta to stay atop singles chart

By Jonathan Cohen

Billboard Hot 100

Archuleta's track sold 166,000 downloads in the United
States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and opens at No. 2.

The last song to debut so high on the chart was Fall Out
Boy's "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" in late January
2007. "Crush" also scores the best opening by an "American
Idol" finalist with a song not performed on the show.

Chris Brown's "Forever" slips from No. 2 to No. 3 on the
Hot 100, with Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" down one rung to
No. 4 and Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" trading places with
M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," placing them at Nos. 5 and 6,
respectively. Kardinal Offishall's "Dangerous" featuring Akon
remains at No. 7.

Rihanna's "Take a Bow" drops from No. 4 to No. 8, while
Ne-Yo's "Closer" inches up one notch to No. 9. Taylor Swift
lands at No. 10 with "Change," one of five songs to debut this
week from AT&T's "Team USA Soundtrack." The cut sold more than

Kenny Chesney scores his first top 50 debut on the Hot 100
with "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven" at No. 41. The lead
single from his fall album, "Lucky Old Sun," sold 30,000

Opening at No. 65 this week on the Hot 100 is Hit Masters'
cover of Kid Rock's "All Summer Long," thanks to download sales
of 37,000. Kid Rock's original version is not available
digitally but as a result of increasing airplay jumps from No.
28 to No. 25.


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Kenny Chesney's "Sun" to shine this fall

By Jonathan Cohen
1 hour, 39 minutes ago

Kenny ChesneyOctober 14

According to his Web site (kennychesney), the album
will feature "largely self-penned" material and was inspired by
a recording session on the title track with Willie Nelson a
couple of years ago.

"I've come to a place in my life where there are songs that
want to be written," Chesney said, "and that I really want to
sing. We didn't think the record would be ready until next
year, but the music we've been making is so inspiring. We've
been on a real creative jag."

The new album follows 2007's "Just Who I Am: Poets &
Pirates," which has sold 1.4 million copies in the United
States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The single "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven" debuted
Thursday (August 21) at a career-best No. 41 on the Billboard
Hot 100.

Chesney is on tour through September 13 and will play the
Farm Aid benefit concert outside Boston on September 20.


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Anna Faris keeps formulaic "Bunny" hopping

By Michael Rechtshaffen

Legally BlondeMean GirlsThe House Bunnyforce of natureAnna Faris

That performance should handily extend Columbia's summer
comedy winning streak in a vehicle that plays to males and
females, packing some real sleeper potential. The studio
releases the film Friday (August 22).

Faris, who strutted her comic stuff in such movies as "Lost
in Translation" and the "Scary Movie" franchise, as well as on
"Friends" as the surrogate mother of Monica and Chandler's
baby, goes for the gold here as the clueless Shelley, who's one
of Hugh Hefner's favorites (and Hef's on hand to prove it)
until she's turfed from the Playboy Mansion upon turning 27.

That's, like, 59 in Bunny years, Shelley's told, and she
briefly finds herself out on the street before landing a gig
transforming the socially challenged residents of the Zeta
Alpha Zeta sorority house into bona fide babes.

In the process, while spouting words of wisdom like "My
heart was pounding like a nail," she learns a thing or two from
the sisters about the importance of being true to yourself.

If the formula sounds awfully familiar, at least writers
Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith elected to rip themselves
off, having penned "Legally Blonde."

Although moments of inspiration are few and far between,
director Fred Wolf (in a vast improvement over his first
feature, "Strange Wildnerness"), keeps things bouncing along at
an agreeable pace, while allowing Faris plenty of wiggle room.

Providing capable backup is a supporting cast including
celebrity offspring Colin Hanks and Rumer Willis. "Bunny" also
boasts especially amusing turns from "Superbad's" Emma Stone
(registering early Lindsay Lohan) as the Zetas' unofficial
leader and Kat Dennings as her glib, heavily pierced sorority

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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The buck stops here in sobering docu "I.O.U.S.A."

By Michael Rechtshaffen
2 hours, 51 minutes ago


But this smartly assembled wake-up call concerning the
nation's lousy spending habits proves to be as unexpectedly
spirited as it is dispiriting.

Updated from the version screened this year at Sundance,
the eye-opening film should be able to overcome potential
audience reluctance by capitalizing on good word-of-mouth after
it opens Friday (August 22) via Roadside Attractions.

Directed by Patrick Creadon, who put an energetic spin on
the New York Times crossword puzzle in his 2006 film
"Wordplay," the new documentary takes its cue from the book
"Empire of Debt," by Addison Wiggin and William Bonner, and
clocks in at a tight 90 minutes.

Creadon successfully overlays a relatable human face
against the inevitable barrage of facts and red-inked figures
in the form of Dave Walker, the former U.S. comptroller
general, who, along with Concord Coalition executive director
Robert Bixby, travels the country, town crier-style, on a
Fiscal Wake-Up Tour.

Walker, whose voice-over ominously kicks things off with
the contention that "the most serious threat to the United
States is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or
Pakistan but our own fiscal irresponsibility," helps to make
the economics primer surprisingly accessible, as do those
colorful graphics and lively film and TV clips.

Also on hand to help explain the trajectory of a federal
debt that has escalated to more than $9.6 billion and ticking
are former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, former
Treasury Secretaries Paul O'Neill and Robert Rubin and fiscally
responsible billionaire Warren Buffett, all of whom believe
there might still be a bit of light at the end of this gloomy

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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Sony finds "Solace" closer to Thanksgiving

By Carl DiOrio
2 hours, 5 minutes ago

Sony on Thursday moved its next James Bond film, "Quantum
of Solace," back one week to November 14. That move is closely
tied to the departure of Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter and the
Half-Blood Prince" from the November 21 release berth.

Just last week, the sixth "Potter" film newly planted its
domestic flag on July 17, as executives sought to fill a hole
in Warners' summer 2009 slate. The most immediate response to
that move was Summit Entertainment's decision to move its
youth-targeted vampire film "Twilight" up three weeks into the
vacated "Potter" slot.

Scratch that worry.

"'Harry Potter' moving out gave us an opportunity to get a
little closer to the holidays, which has always been the
traditional Bond spot," Sony worldwide marketing and
distribution chairman Jeff Blake said. "Bond has a really good
history of not only playing through Thanksgiving but going deep
into the Christmas holidays."

Sony unspooled the last Bond film, the Daniel
Craig-starring "Casino Royale," on November 17, 2006, and it
was still playing in about 1,100 theaters between Christmas and
New Year's, Blake noted.

Sony holds worldwide theatrical rights to the Eon-produced
Bond franchise, with longtime Bond distributor MGM controlling
all post-theatrical windows.

Universal's comedy "Role Models," with Paul Rudd and Seann
William Scott, also had been set for November 14. But just a
few hours after word spread of Sony's move with its Bond film,
Universal moved the comedy up one week to November 7, where the
Paramount-distributed DreamWorks Animation sequel "Madagascar:
Escape 2 Africa" now represents its sole wide-release rival.

Bond films tend to get an earlier jump in the U.K., and
"Solace" will receive its world premiere October 29 in London,
two days before its U.K. opening.

"Prince William and Prince Harry will attend the world
premiere," Sony said.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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Weekend offers a "Race" to the summer finish line

By Carl DiOrio
1 hour, 21 minutes ago

The comparable period from 2007 rung up less than $109
million, the second-smallest tally of the box-office season. A
similarly underwhelming industry performance is likely this
weekend, even with four new titles hitting the marketplace in
wide release.

DreamWorks/Paramount's R-rated comedy "Tropic Thunder"
could drop as much as 50 percent or so from its chart-topping
opening session. That could find it fetching less than $13
million this weekend while still potentially competing for
second place.

But Sony's PG-13 comedy "The House Bunny," starring Anna
Faris ("Scary Movie"), also looks likely for the low-teen
millions and could outpace "Tropic" if its grosses climb into
the midteens, mostly on interest from young females.

Warner Bros.' box-office behemoth "The Dark Knight" likely
will finish third or fourth during its sixth frame, with $10
million or so. But two additional wide openers look unlikely to
make it out of the single-digit millions.

Fox's PG-13 comedy "The Rocker" might need five days to
reach a similar range. Having earned some positive early buzz,
the Rainn Wilson-starring comedy unspooled Wednesday to
stimulate additional word-of-mouth, but its first-day tally was
just $600,000.

The R-rated "Death Race" stars Jason Statham, who tends to
be popular with female filmgoers, and tracking also shows
appeal among prospective urban moviegoers. Depending on how
many females and older men join the film's young-male target
group, "Death Race" could represent the weekend's best hope for
a breakout performance.

Notable limited releases this weekend include exclusive
engagements for Focus Features' comedy "Hamlet 2." The gambit
aims to stimulate positive word-of-mouth before wide expansion
of the Steve Coogan/Catherine Keener film over the long Labor
Day frame.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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Venice Film Festival delves into docus

1 hour, 2 minutes ago

Italian director Michelangelo AntonioniVenice Film Festival

The official program for Venice was announced last week,
but news about sidebar and industry screenings continues to
trickle in as the festival's opening approaches.

Director Carlo di Carlo's "Antonioni on Antonioni" is based
on interviews with Antonioni. One of the authors of Italy's
neo-realism movement and a Venice regular, Antonioni died last
year at 94.

"Venezia Crepa" (Venice Dying) is a film about the
overcrowding of Venice, its deteriorating architecture and its
slow sink into the sea. It will screen in the festival's
industry section.

"Venezia '68," from Antonello Sarno and Steve della Casa,
is a documentary about the widespread student riots of 40 years
ago and the impact they had on the festival that year.

The Venice festival, in its 65th year, starts Wednesday and
concludes September 6.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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DeAnna's Tips for Landing the New Bachelor

Natalie Finn

Jason MesnickDeAnna Pappas

"You definitely have to do something to put yourself out there to get their attention but don't be that girl," the former Bachelorette star told Yo on E! Thursday when asked what advice she has for the 25 ladies who will vie for Mesnick's heart on the next season of The Bachelor.

"Have some respect," Pappas added, also reminding potential suitorettes of Mesnick's love of traveling and dancing. "He is going to notice you. It's just like when a guy walks into a bar and you see a bunch of girls. You know right off the bat five of them that you know are hot and you really, really want to talk to.

"You're going to remember those five, I promise. The other ones, it's going to take a little bit, but you know once you remember them, it works."

Of course, that's easy for her to say. The divorced single dad was nearly down on one knee when Pappas informed him that she was in love with someone else on the July 7 Bachelorette finale.

Pappas' fiancé, Jesse Csincsak, the one left kneeling at the end of the day, offered this nugget of wisdom: "Don't take your underwear off and hand it to him."

That, and: "My advice to anyone going on the show is to be yourself, don't compromise yourself for anybody or anything."

Mesnick, whom the happy couple is planning to invite to their May 9 wedding in the Bahamas, "needs someone who is down to earth and doesn't care about all the business going around, because Jason's normal," Pappas added. "He's just like us. He is a normal guy. He could care less about the show, the business, the publicity, the L.A. scene. He doesn't care. He wants someone who is going to make him happy and be in love for the true reasons.

Knowing Mesnick the way she does, Pappas also advised women to remember that Jason's 3-year-old son, Ty, will always be his first love.

"Jason needs that girl who is ready for the life that he is ready for," Pappas said. "You know he has Ty. It has to be a woman that loves children, because that child is the cutest thing in the whole world.

"He's the most important thing in Jason's life."

So, while the Bachelor is on their guest list, do Pappas and Csincsak think that they'll be invited to witness Mesnick's second trip down the aisle, whenever that may occur?

"I hope we are," Csincsak said.

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Tila Tequila's Girlfriend: Not the Right Kind of Fine

Natalie Finn and Ashley Fultz

Tila Tequila

Courtenay Semel, daughter of Yahoo! mogul Terry Semel and current girlfriend of the equal-opportunity MTV star, was cited Wednesday in Las Vegas for misdemeanor battery after allegedly hitting a nightclub security guard on the back of the head.

Vegas Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Officer Jay Rivera told E! News that Semel was trying to get into Caesars Palace hot spot Pure when she got into an argument with a bouncer at about 4 a.m.

She had a "passport and a California I.D. in her possession, one of which was not in her name, and at that time she was detained by security," Rivera said.

A source tells us that Semel had already spent the majority of the night at Pure and had no trouble getting in originally, so she couldn't say what led to the drama in the wee hours of the morning.

Police confirm that Semel, a former pal of Lindsay Lohan who had her own reality-TV moment on E!'s privileged-kids-become-ranch-hands series Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive, was cited and released. She now has two options—either pay a fine or appear before a Sin City judge to plead her case. (E! Online is a division of E! Entertainment.)

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Seinfeld to be pitchman for Microsoft

By JAKE COYLE, AP Entertainment Writer
1 hour, 37 minutes ago

Junior MintsJerry SeinfeldMicrosoft software

Seinfeld will be a key pitchman in a planned $300 million fall advertising campaign for the software giant, a person familiar with the plans confirmed to The Associated Press on condition on anonymity because the deal has not been formally announced.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the plans. Citing people close to the situation, it reported the comedian will be paid $10 million for appearing in ads with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

It's Microsoft's latest move to try to capture some of the cool quotient that rival Apple has appeared to win so effortlessly.

But for younger consumers especially, can Seinfeld turn the image tide for Microsoft?

"Seinfeld does represent sort of a challenge," says Brian Steinberg, television editor for the weekly advertising magazine Ad Age. "He's not Dane Cook. He's got a more sophisticated everyday take on things. He often comes across as a questioner of conventional wisdom but also can be kind of a crank. It's a fine line to walk when you're dealing with a younger person."

Steinberg did point out that the firm producing the spots — Crispin Porter and Bogusky — is known for creating commercials that appeal to young males, particularly in its campaigns for Burger King.

Seinfeld has shown himself to be a superior promoter in the past, particularly for American Express (which also featured Patrick Warburton as Superman) and in selling his Dreamworks animated film "Bee Movie" last summer.

For "Bee Movie," which Seinfeld co-wrote, co-produced and voiced, he also created 20 "TV juniors," which seemed less like commercials than one-minute bite-sized bits of comedy. The extensive promotion of the film began with him dressing up as a giant bee at the Cannes Film Festival.

"You gotta sell it," Seinfeld told the AP last year. "I've never been uncomfortable with that aspect. I don't feel like it's beneath me to sell what I did."

But Seinfeld's greatest triumph — the nine seasons of "Seinfeld" — ended more than 10 years ago, which means that many young computer users were still watching cartoons during his pop culture dominance.

Of course, the show is still on nightly reruns and Seinfeld has been active on the standup circuit. There have even been efforts to bring "Seinfeld" to younger demographics. Sony Pictures Television, which distributes "Seinfeld" in U.S. syndication, is holding a 26-city promotion in a cross-country bus tour of colleges.

Calls to Seinfeld's agent and manager went unreturned Thursday.

Vista, Microsoft's latest operating system that launched with the slogan "The Wow starts now," has received mostly negative publicity since its release last year. But sales have been strong, since more than 90 percent of PCs sold worldwide run Windows.

Apple's ad campaign "Get a Mac" pits a coat-and-tie clad older guy (John Hodgman) representing a PC, against jeans and T-shirt-wearing Justin Long, who plays the Mac. The commercials have also poked fun at Vista.

Steinberg said this latest campaign by Microsoft shows that the rivalry between the software company and Apple is reaching the intensity of Coke and Pepsi's cola wars of years ago.

It's also possible Seinfeld seems more like a Mac guy, Steinberg said.


AP Technology Writer Jessica Mintz contributed to this report from Seattle.

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Gwen Stefani gives birth to second child

1 hour, 15 minutes ago

Gwen StefaniThursday afternoon

"Mother, baby and family are all happy and healthy," he said in a statement.

The pop star and fashionista already has one son, Kingston, with her husband, rocker Gavin Rossdale. Rossdale also has a teenage daughter with fashion designer Pearl Lowe.

Stefani has racked up numerous hits and best-selling albums over the years, not only as a solo artist, but as the front woman for the band No Doubt. But the 38-year-old has also become a successful designer with her L.A.M.B. and other clothing lines.

Her last album, "The Sweet Escape," was released in 2006, a follow-up to 2004's multiplatinum "Love. Angel. Music. Baby."


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