Tuesday, December 11, 2007

JK Rowling reveals Beedle stories

JK Rowling has premiered a collection of fairy tales which she first mentioned in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows at a reading in London.

The world famous author has hand-written and illustrated just seven copies of the Tales Of Beedle The Bard.

One will be sold to raise money for her Children's Voice charity at an auction at Sotheby's in London later this week.

Rowling will give away the remaining copies of the stories to those closely connected with the Potter books.

'Fair fortune'

The Tales Of Beedle The Bard played a central role in the seventh book.

A volume was left to the character Hermione Granger by Hogwarts head teacher Albus Dumbledore.

It provided clues to help Harry and his friends in their quest to defeat his nemesis Lord Voldemort.

Rowling has no plans to publish the fairy tales - and Sotheby's expect the auctioned book to sell for up to £50,000.

Each of the seven copies is bound in brown Morocco leather and mounted with different semi-precious stones.

A dedication written in the front of the book says: "Six of these books have been given to those most closely connected to the Harry Potter books during the last 17 years.

"This seventh copy will be auctioned; the proceeds to help institutionalised children who are in desperate need of a voice. So to whoever now owns this book, thank you - and fair fortune be yours!"


Writers’ strike may impact 2009 films

Indiana Jones, Capt. James T. Kirk and other movie heroes may have to toss off more ad-libbed wisecracks next year. By 2009, they could be positively tongue-tied if a strike by Hollywood writers drags on for months.

Unlike television, which felt an immediate impact as some programs shut down when writers halted work in November, big-screen movies have a longer lead time and can ride out the strike with scripts already in hand, at least for now.

Talks between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers broke down bitterly last week, diminishing any hope that a quick resolution would limit the impact on movie production to small ripples.


Sharon Stone in Dubai hopes to raise $1 mln for AIDS

Hollywood star Sharon Stone hopes to raise above $1 million dollars for AIDS research at an auction in Dubai to spread awareness about the deadly virus that remains taboo in the Arab world.

Cinema Against AIDS, an artist-led drive to raise funds for AIDS research, is being held on the sidelines of the fourth Dubai International Film Festival.

"We're happy as artists to know that we're coming together in the movie community to work in AIDS awareness," Stone told Reuters on Monday night as she arrived on the red carpet.

"We've been very happy to have been for many years at the Cannes film festival and the Rome festival and now we're happy to be here."

Also in Dubai to support the drive was Gloria Estafan, and Michelle Yeoh, star of Memoirs of a Geisha.

Wearing a long black satin dress and a purple fur wrap-over, Stone paused for photographers before she opened the auction on behalf the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

"At this point we are already at $800,000, so we certainly know we're going to walk out with above a million and that's already good," said Stone, chair of amfAR global fundraising.

Cinema Against AIDS events have generated over $30 million for research on AIDS since 1993. Since 1985, amfAR has invested $260 million, helping more than 2,000 research teams worldwide.

Hollywood meets Washington at 'War' premiere

Monday night at Universal Studios, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts walked the red carpet with the real-life figures they play in their 1980s-set political drama, Charlie Wilson's War (in theaters Dec. 21). As Texas congressman Charlie Wilson and Washington socialite Joanne Herring, Hanks and Roberts use their influence with the U.S. government to equip Afghani rebels with arms to fight the Soviets.

The real Wilson attended with his physician, having received a heart transplant just 10 weeks ago. "My new heart's beating very, very hard tonight," admitted Wilson. The rapid heartbeat might have had something to do with the film's portrayal of him as a hard-drinking and drugging womanizer. But Wilson offered no apologies. "I plead guilty to everything — with a smile on my face."

Director Mike Nichols chose to represent Wilson's notorious sex drive by including a scene with Hanks' character cavorting in a hot tub with both a Playboy playmate and an exotic dancer.

Actress Jud Tylor, who plays the playmate, recalled her first day of work — in the water just inches from Hanks. "Tom was wearing a nude sock because he has to get out of the hot tub naked," she recalled. "You actually see his bare buttocks in the film. It was crucial for the shot."

While Tylor tried her very best not to look, actress Hilary Angelo, who plays the exotic dancer, couldn't resist sneaking a peek. "And the man's well endowed," she reported. "But we were all pruney in the water. There was this mixture of make-up and grease floating on top. Then there was this mysterious bubble that went up in the water and we all just blamed it on Tom."

Do Film Critics Know Anything?

I sprinted down the corridors of TIME this afternoon, eager to spread the news of the New York Film Critics Circle voting for the year's best films. The winner, in the film, director, screenplay and supporting actor categories? The Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men, which three different people told me they'd been meaning to see. The runner-up, with wins for best actor and cinematographer? There Will Be Blood, an audience-punishing epic that doesn't open for another two weeks. Best actress? Julie Christie, in Away from her, which earned less than $5 million in its North American release.

I didn't even tell them that the very popular, and very good, Pixar cartoon Ratatouille lost out to a French movie about the troubles in Iran. (Though Persepolis, take my word for it, is funny.) By the time I'd got back to my office I had realized that we critics may give these awards to the winners, but we give them for ourselves. In fact, we're essentially passing notes to one another, admiring our connoisseurship at the risk of ignoring the vast audience that sees movies and the smaller one that reads us.

In the past five days, five groups — the National Board of Review, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Washington. D.C. Film Critics Association and my crowd, the New Yorkers — have convened to choose the most notable movies and moviemakers. No Country was named best picture in four of the groups, There Will Be Blood in L.A. George Clooney won two best actors awards, playing a lawyer at crisis point Michael Clayton, Daniel Day-Lewis a pair for his oil mogul in There Will Be Blood and, in Boston, Frank Langella the prize for playing an aged novelist in Starting Out in the Evening. Three groups selected Julie Christie as best actress — she's an Alzheimer's patient in the Canadian film Away rom Her — and two liked Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in La vie en rose.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Beowulf tops US box office chart

The film, based on an ancient English poem, uses actors as the basis for animation. It sold $28.1m (£13.7m) of tickets during its first three days.

Jerry Seinfeld's animated Bee Movie slipped one place to number two with $14.3m (£7m).

American Gangster, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, also fell down the chart to third place - taking $13.2m (£6.4m).

Christmas comedy Fred Claus, featuring Wedding Crashers actor Vince Vaughn as Santa's older brother, took $12m (£5.8m) in its second weekend, earning the number four spot.

Fantasy drama Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, starring Dustin Hoffman as a toy impresario, entered the chart at number five with $10m (£4.9m).

Sixth was Steve Carrell's comedy Dan in Real Life, which took $4.5m (£2.2m), while thriller No Country For Old Men was a new entry at seven with $3.1m (£1.5m) despite a limited release.

Finishing off the top 10 were Lions for Lambs with $2.9m (£1.4m), horror film Saw IV with $2.3m (£1.1m), and literary adaptation Love In The Time Of Cholera with $1.9m (£936,000).

Rihanna postpones three UK gigs

Birmingham's NEC Arena said the 19-year-old had been forced by her doctor to pull out of Monday's gig.

The star, who plans to reschedule, also pulled out of Saturday's Nottingham show. Tuesday's Bournemouth show was also postponed.

Birmingham's NEC said the Umbrella star "appreciates the love and support of all her fans and wants nothing more than to see and connect with them".

Fans with tickets are advised to hold on to them until further news is received.

A spokeswoman for the star was unable to comment.

Rihanna began the tour in Paris last month and was due to end it on 21 December in Moscow, Russia.

The star, who was discovered by US rapper Jay Z, shot to fame with the single Umbrella, which stayed at number one in the UK singles chart for 10 weeks.