New York, Aug 10 (AP/UNB) — David Berman, founder of the indie rockers Silver Jews, whose witty lyrics and deadpan delivery influenced scores of bands, has died. He was 52.
Berman's death Wednesday was confirmed by his father and his record label, Drag City. A cause of death was not disclosed.
Berman, a singer, songwriter and guitarist, was the only constant member of Silver Jews, which began with Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, who both had ties with the band Pavement. The trio met as students at the University of Virginia.
Silver Jews disbanded in 2009 after six studio albums, starting with "Starlite Walker" in 1994 and ending with "Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea" in 2008. Now magazine called him one of the "most brilliantly sardonic voices in indie rock."
Berman told The New York Times in 2005 that he chose his band's name while working as a security guard at the Whitney Museum after seeing a sign that read "Silver Jewelry." The name is also slang for blond Jews.
He was known for an offbeat, eclectic musical style and for writing sardonic and poetic lyrics. On "Trains Across the Sea," he sang: "In 27 years, I've drunk 50,000 beers/ And they just wash against me/ Like the sea into a pier." Berman suffered from addiction and depression.
"Despite his difficulties, he always remained my special son. I will miss him more than he was able to realize," Rick Berman, his father, said in a statement.
Tributes also poured in from social media from musicians and artists, including from Marc Maron, who said: "One of the great tortured poetic souls is gone. A master of beautiful darkness." The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle called Berman "of, loosely, my generation of songwriters, the best of us." Aaron Dessner, a member of The National, called him a "massive talent and a huge influence on us."
Berman resurfaced this year in the band Purple Mountains, releasing an album by the same name with the songs "Maybe I'm the Only One for Me" and "She's Making Friends, I'm Turning Stranger."
Los Angeles, Aug 10 (AP/UNB) — Casey Affleck had been working on a script about a parent and child for years. He'd written scenes about a bedtime story and an argument about taking a trip into town and things seemed to be going well. As the father of two boys, Affleck had defaulted to writing the child as a son. But then, deep into the process, his boys came back with a request: They didn't want it to be about them.
"They were pretty adamant that they did not want it to be a father-son story," Affleck said. "I had already put in a lot of work and I was like, don't do it ... "
But, despite the heartburn of having to rework the story again, he caved and made the child a girl, and it ultimately helped the story. He'd been looking for stakes in this parenting saga and now a genre construct was possible. What if a disease had wiped out all of the women, except this man's daughter?
"This was about someone who was very nervous about protecting their kid. I wanted to make the stakes of that as big as possible so it wasn't just like, I'm protecting them from having a bad fourth grade experience," Affleck said. "It's like I'm protecting them from an entire world who wants to kidnap them."
The result is the slow-burn dramatic thriller "Light of My Life" now playing in theaters and available on demand. Affleck directed, wrote and stars in the film, which premiered earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival. It knowingly echoes modern classics like "Children of Men."
He and casting director Avy Kaufman went on an epic search to find the right girl to play his daughter, Rag, and discovered a little-known Canadian actress named Anna Pniowsky who fit the bill perfectly.
"I was still a little girl. I think I was 11 when I sent my tape in," Pniowsky, now 13, said. "I wasn't expecting anything to happen. I didn't get a lot of roles back then."
Since then, her profile has risen with roles in the Hulu show "Pen15" as one of the popular girls and "The Hot Zone." And she fell easily into her role as a pre-teen who still acts out and defies her fathers' rules even in this bleak and dangerous reality. Critics have hailed her performance, much of which is spent in "disguise" as a young boy, as a breakout.
"She didn't need a whole lot," Affleck said. "She was just good at doing this naturally. Sometimes I felt like if I interfered too much in the scene or the natural progression of the scene that I was just getting in the way."
Together, Affleck and Pniowsky have a light-hearted rapport where you can see the seeds of why their father-daughter dynamic works. They can't even agree on whether or not Affleck gave her anything to prepare beforehand.
Affleck: "She says I did, but I don't remember and I don't think she read it anyway."
Pniowsky: "He made me read three books. I only remember one of them. It was 'Little House on the Prairie'... They were all kind of older books."
Affleck: "Obviously they really sunk in."
"Light of My Life" is Affleck's first time behind the camera since the 2010 film "I'm Still Here" that led to civil lawsuits for breach of contract from two women, a cinematographer and a producer, who worked on the film. One also sued for sexual harassment, and both described an uncomfortable atmosphere on the set of the unconventional mockumentary. Both were settled out of court, and Affleck apologized last year in an interview with The Associated Press for allowing and contributing to "an unprofessional environment."
Behind the scenes Affleck has been quietly doing his part to try to chip away at inequality in his industry. In "Light of My Life," he worked with a number of women on the crew, including "Memento" editor Dody Dorn and assistant director Liz Tan, who has worked on epics like "The Lord of the Rings." His next two films also have female directors: "The Friend," a terminal illness drama from Gabriela Cowperthwaite, which is premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival and his own production company's period frontier film "The World to Come," directed by Mona Fastvold and co-written by "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" scribe Ron Hansen.
"I'm certainly happy to do that and create a little more equality and get different voices telling stories and different perspectives than the same old stuff that we've had forever," Affleck said. "That seems like definitely a worthy cause and one I'm all for. But also these people are just great storytellers and they're both super talented. They deserve to be there."
Affleck would also like to continue directing. He loves "big fantasy movies" like "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" but thinks he's a ways off from figuring out how to make them work.
As for whether he's working on anything at the moment?
"Not really," Affleck said. "(But) someone told me if you're writing something, never ever admit it."
Dhaka, Aug 9 (UNB) - Pakistan on Thursday banned the screening of Indian films in the country’s theaters, amid tensions between the two sides after India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, reports The Indian Express.
“No Indian film will be screened in any Pakistani theater. Drama, films and Indian content of this kind will be completely banned in Pakistan,” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special advisor to Prime Minister Imran Khan for Information and Broadcasting, tweeted.
Indian government on Monday revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Pakistan expelled the Indian High Commissioner as part of its decision to downgrade the diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi’s “unilateral and illegal” move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Films and cultural relations are the first to get affected when there is tension between the two countries and it is not for the first time that Pakistan has banned Indian films.
It had taken a similar decision after Balakot air strikes by India in February this year. The Hindi film industry had announced a similar move in the wake of February 14 Pulwama terror attack on a CRPF convoy.
Orlando, Aug 9 (AP/UNB) — Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is creating 1,700 fulltime jobs at Walt Disney World.
Disney officials said Thursday that an additional 5,500 short-term jobs were created in construction, trade and artisan positions.
The 14-acre land at Disney World opens at the end of the month. The land cost $1 billion and is the largest single-themed land created at a Disney park.
An identical park opened earlier this summer at Disneyland in California.
Disney World employs more than 75,000 workers, making it the largest workforce at a single site in the US
Dhaka, Aug 8 (UNB) - The 71st edition of Primetime Emmy Awards will not have a host, Fox has confirmed, reports The Indian Express.
The network CEO Charlie Collier on Wednesday made the announcement at the Television Critics Association’s press tour, reported Entertainment Weekly.
The news follows in the steps of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences’ (AMPAS) decision for the Oscars to go hostless after planned host Kevin Hart dropped out amid controversy about his past homophobic jokes.
Interestingly, the ratings of Oscars 2019 ceremony improved without a host by roughly 12 per cent, along with critical acclaim.
Collier was asked if the rise in ratings inspired the network to make the move.
“Obviously, that was a piece of information and it did do very well but I think it’s a pretty unique year for some of America’s favourite shows and it was the right thing to do,” he said.
The senior executive was also asked if Fox had approached someone to host.
“We’ve had a lot of names on the board (internally) but the conclusion was reached this year that we’re highlighting so many shows going away that it was a better use of the time (to focus on the shows).
“There will be entertainment. There will be an opening number. If you look at the trade-offs in a show like the Emmys, so often its a trade-off between the opening acts and using the time elsewhere. There will be many surprises. It will be entertaining,” he said.
This will be the first time the Emmys will be going hostless since 2003; the ceremony also aired on Fox. The broadcast rotates each year among ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC.
The award show is scheduled to be held on September 22 at the MicrosoftTheater.