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Peace Concert In Havana

21 Sep

HAVANA – MMORE than half a million Cubans gathered in Havana on Sunday for a concert featuring Miami-based singer Juanes, a gig welcomed by US President Barack Obama, but criticised by Cuban exiles.

SECOND EVENT
THE show is the second event under the ‘Paz sin Fronteras’ banner, after a 2008 Juanes show promoting peace on the border between Colombia and Venezuela.

The concert, headlined by Juanes – most famous for his hit songs A Dios le Pido and La Camisa Negra – will also feature some of Latin America’s brightest music stars, including Olga Tanon, Danny Rivera and the Orishas.

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Hundreds of thousands of parasol-waving fans braced blistering heat in the capital’s storied Revolution Square, with merriment belying the political undertones that the concert has produced.

Miami’s Cuban exile community has criticised the performance, saying it will legitimise the island’s communist regime, and Colombian-born singer Juanes received death threats ahead of the ‘Peace without Borders’ concert.

Many of those present appeared focused on the need for Cubans everywhere to unite.

‘We have to unite Cubans that are inside and those outside. Everyone has family there. It does not matter why they left. We have to leave hate behind,’ said Yordanis Padron, a 34-year-old electrician.

Clutching a umbrella, bottle of water and a snack, 73-year-old Lidia said she hoped the concert would ‘serve as a message to the imperialists that we want peace and help to reconcile those here with those from over there.’

Earlier, Mr Obama welcomed plans for the massive but controversial concert, telling US Spanish-language network Univision the performance could help improve ties with Cuba.

Mr Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met the Colombian singer before he left for the island, a trip which has prompted some of Miami’s million-strong Cuban exile community to smash his records in protest.

‘My understanding is that he’s a terrific musician. He puts on a very good concert,’ Mr Obama told the station as part of a five-channel media blitz on Sunday to sell his plan to reform US healthcare.

‘I certainly don’t think it hurts US-Cuban relations, these kinds of cultural exchanges.’ Juanes has promised a ‘historic’ show on Havana’s vast Revolution Square, the scene of countless declarations by Cuba’s communist leaders and home to an iconic mural of Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara.

‘We are excited to connect with the audience in Cuba – saying that we are here, that they are not alone, and that we hope over time things can change and the Cuban family can be one,’ the 37-year-old Grammy winner said Saturday.

‘What better language than music… for that wake-up call,’ said Juanes, who now lives in Miami. — AFP

Straits Times

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Muse's New Album Irresistable

21 Sep

LONDON – BRITISH rock band Muse shot straight to the top of the UK album charts with their new release The Resistance outselling the next three top albums combined, the Official Charts Company said on Sunday.

British World War Two armed forces’ sweetheart Vera Lynn, who last week became the oldest living artist to have a number one album, dropped a place to number two with We’ll Meet Again, a collection of her best known songs.

That meant singer Peter Andre, whose marriage break-up with glamour model Katie Price, has dominated tabloid newspapers in recent weeks, had to settle for third place with his new release Revelation.

US rapper Jay-Z was another new entry in fourth with The Blueprint 3, while singer-songwriter David Gray’s ‘Draw The Line’ went into the charts in fifth place.

In the singles chart, Taio Cruz, whose writing and production talents have been used by the likes of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls, debuted in top spot with Break Your Heart.

David Guetta featuring Akon stayed in second place with Sexy Chick, while Madonna was a new entry in third with Celebration.

Jay-Z featuring Rihanna and Kanye West remained in fourth with Run This Town, with She Wolf by Shakira climbing 20 places to fifth. — REUTERS

Straits Times

Stella McCartney Sportswear

21 Sep

LONDON – STELLA McCartney’s sportswear franchise is saddling up to take on the cycling world.

The British designer may be better known for her tops and dresses, but her active-wear ‘adidas by Stella McCartney’ concept has been going strong since 2005.

In addition to her pre-existing ranges devoted to yoga, tennis, golf and swim, McCartney is now working to keep cyclists, runners and triathletes looking sharp on the track and in the pool.

The sports apparel on display on Sunday at London’s Somerset House was made from lightweight, breathable fabrics designed with comfort – and perspiration – in mind.

Mesh was nearly everywhere: In wide loops lining the side of a gym shoe or tightly wound into a poly-cotton collared golf shirt.

‘It’s moisture management,’ explained Emma Willey, who works for adidas by Stella McCartney. ‘When you come out after eight hours on the golf course, you want to be smelling fresh.’

McCartney kept to an understated style, with a pair of small red running shorts and a shiny, tinfoil-like pool blue jacket being among the flashiest pieces in an otherwise neutral-coloured collection. Zebra print was pervasive.

McCartney says she tries to keep her materials environmentally friendly and ethically sourced. Apparel on display included clothes constructed out of organic cotton and recycled polyester, and shoes built with recycled rubber and wood pulp insoles.

Sunday, the third day of London Fashion Week, also features shows by Betty Jackson, Nicole Farhi, Jasper Conran, and British fashion icon Vivienne Westwood. — AP

Straits Times

Jon Stewart's New Emmy

21 Sep

LOS ANGELES – JON Stewart and his writing staff are owners of new Emmy Awards.

Comedy Central’s The Daily Show was named the best comedy or variety show in the annual Emmy Awards. Blessed with an abundance of material during a presidential election, the show beat out David Letterman’s Late Show, Saturday Night Live, Real Time With Bill Maher and The Colbert Report.

Stewart’s writing staff also won for best writing in a comedy or variety series, making it a clean sweep.

As he accepted the award, Stewart joked that it gave him and his staff time to go backstage and check out the pro football game, being shown on another network. — AP

Straits Times

Pitt Laughs Off Run For Mayor

14 Aug

NEW ORLEANS – BRAD Pitt is laughing off the idea he should run for mayor of New Orleans. Pitt told NBC television’s Today show on Thursday that he has seen the ‘Brad Pitt for Mayor’ T-shirts that many New Orleans residents have been sporting for at least two months. But when asked if he has considered running,

Judge Approves MJ Collectibles

8 Aug

LOS ANGELES – THE King of Pop is coming to calendars and collectors’ coin cases after a judge approved several deals involving the singer’s estate on Friday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff signed off on agreements for Jackson-themed items including calendars, school supplies, posters and a commemorative coin. He also granted authority so that reprints of Jackson’s autobiography Moonwalk can be sold in China, Korea and several Eastern European countries.

Judge Beckloff also agreed to allow Jackson’s estate to partner with Apple’s iTunes to sell songs and videos of Jermaine Jackson’s performance of the Charlie Chaplain song ‘Smile’ at the pop singer’s public memorial.

The deals were presented to the judge by the current administrators of Jackson’s estate, attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain. Financial details of the agreements were not disclosed.

They offer a hint at Jackson’s post-death marketability, and a pending deal may bring even more Jackson-themed merchandise to store shelves and electronics.

Judge Beckloff has scheduled a hearing on Monday to decide whether to approve other deals involving Jackson, including a movie project that would feature the singer’s final rehearsals and preparations for a series of comeback concerts in London.

Columbia Pictures has agreed to pay US$60 million for the rights to footage shot for Jackson’s ‘This is It’ concerts, but the deal must be approved by Monday. The extra time was granted to give the singer’s mother, Katherine Jackson, time to consider the proposed contracts and voice any opposition to them.

Judge Beckloff is also considering a deal between the estate and merchandiser Bravado for worldwide distribution rights to several Jackson-themed products, including trading cards, apparel, lighters, stuffed animals that play Jackson’s music and digital apparel and even tattoos for online games such as Second Life.

The deals remain an important piece of the Jackson’s financial puzzle and could offset potential losses by concert promoter AEG Live, which spent more than US$30 million organising the singer’s 50-show comeback in London. — AP

Straits Times

Actress Mindee Ong Talks Of Her 'Bondage' Experience

6 Aug

SINGAPORE: You can’t really tie Mindee Ong down. One minute she’s designing bags inspired by envelopes, the next, she’s off to Taiwan in the name of charity.

Unless, of course, you’re tying her down for a play called “Bondage”.

Last seen onstage for “Shanghai Blues”, the Fly Entertainment artiste and “12 Lotus” beauty is in the third play under Drama Box’s ongoing Blanc Space mini-festival of Chinese theatre.

Written by Cheow Boon Seng and directed by Danny Yeo, “Bondage” features a cast of interesting characters. Ong, in particular, plays a teenager opposite a sadomasochistic cop played by multi-media artist Loo Zihan. It opens Thursday and runs until Sunday at The Arts House.

Over the weekend afternoons, Drama Box will also be holding free dramatised readings of scripts by Chong Tze Chien, Ng How Wee and Lee Shyh Jih at the same venue.

“Bondage” is Ong’s third production with the Mandarin theatre company, and while she’s not involved in any of the apparent S&M shenanigans onstage, she did help out in designing their “S&M positionings”.

“I don’t know if I should consider myself fortunate or not that I’m not involved,” she quipped.

So do bad boys appeal to ‘881’s’ Miss Little Papaya?

“I probably won’t go for robbers or thieves, but my Mister Man needs to have a wicked sense of humour,” Ong, 29, revealed.

This of course, from someone who likes to work with leather. On bags, that is.

The Singapore ambassador for Sembonia – which carries Ong’s own Envelope line of bags – is also hosting the road shows and acting as judge for the fashion accessories line’s Bag My Style design challenge, which runs until October 23.

Busy as her schedules are this year, would you believe she’s actually taking it slow?

“The past two years were too hectic. I’m taking a kind of slower pace. But I’m working on a few things and you’ll be seeing more of me next year, I hope.”

For now, she said that the last quarter of the year will be reserved for taking more acting classes.

“Any form of honing my acting skills, I’ll do it!”

Channel News Asia