Park City, Jan 27 (AP/UNB) —Michael Jackson's estate is blasting a documentary that tells the stories of two men who accuse Michael Jackson of sexually molesting them when they were young boys, calling the film "tabloid character assassination."
A statement released by Jackson's estate late Friday calls the men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, "two perjurers" — a reference to sworn statements the men gave when Jackson was alive that he had not abused them. The men leveled their abuse allegations after Jackson's death.
The pair's stories are the basis for "Leaving Neverland," a four-hour documentary that will air later this year on HBO and Channel 4 in Britain. It earned a somber standing ovation after its premiere at Sundance on Friday.
The estate accuses the film of focusing too much on Robson and Safechuck and ignoring others who spent significant time with Jackson and "stated that he treated children with respect and did nothing hurtful to them."
Michael Jackson accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck have been greeted with a solemn standing ovation by a theater full of people at the Sundance Film Festival.
The stories of the two men who allege Jackson sexually abused them as children are detailed in the documentary "Leaving Neverland," which had its only screening Friday at the film festival.
In a Q&A, Robson said it has been an incredible experience being able to talk to Safechuck after feeling isolated for so long. Safechuck added that they were not offered any money to participate in the documentary, which will air on Britain's Channel 4 and HBO this spring.
The Jackson estate denounced the documentary for rehashing "discredited allegations." Jackson was acquitted of molestation charges in 2005.
Paris, Jan 27 (AP/UNB) — Oscar-winning composer and pianist Michel Legrand, whose hits included the score for the '60s romance "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" and who worked with some of biggest singers of the 20th century, has died at age 86.
Legrand last performed on stage just last month, and was still composing and practicing piano an hour a day even as fatigue increasingly forced him to economize his energy, said Claire de Castellane, a musician and producer who organized a series of recent solo piano concerts by Legrand. De Castellane confirmed his death Saturday, without providing details.
"MICHEL LEGRAND Feb. 24, 1932-Jan. 26, 2019," read the home page of his official website Saturday, followed by photographs of Legrand with Barbara Streisand, Miles Davis, Yves Montand and others. Tributes poured in on Twitter and Facebook, and French radio and television replayed songs from his vast repertoire.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced condolences to Legrand's wife and children, hailing him as an "indefatigable genius." ''His unique tunes that run through our heads and are hummed in the streets have become like the soundtracks of our lives," he said.
Legrand won three Academy Awards, five Grammys and two top awards at the Cannes Film Festival among other honors, according to his official website. He worked with famed lyricists in Hollywood and on Broadway — including Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Sheldon Harnick — as well as with French New Wave directors.
"The Windmills of Your Mind" won him his first Oscar, as the theme song for 1968's "The Thomas Crown Affair," sung by Noel Harrison. The song was later recorded by Dusty Springfield and many others. His songs marked some of the most memorable musical moments in French cinema, including 1964's "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" with Catherine Deneuve and "The Young Ladies of Rochefort."
Over a six-decade career he worked with performers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin and Sting, and played an outsized role on the French musical scene. He continued touring into his 80s, last performing a month ago at the Paris Philharmonic, and was scheduled to give his next concert in February.
Though he had rich and rigorous musical education, Legrand sought to reach ordinary people. "He wrote very elaborate music, but for a regular audience," de Castellane said.
Performing right up until the end "was a very beautiful way to say goodbye," de Castellane said. "He was not afraid of death, he talked about it. He said it made him nervous" — like the nervousness performers feel before going on stage — "but it didn't frighten him."
Wellington, Jan 24 (AP/UNB) — Singaporean actor Aloysius Pang died Thursday from injuries he sustained during a military training exercise in New Zealand. He was 28.
Pang was injured in his chest and abdomen when the gun barrel was lowered on a large artillery device he was helping repair Saturday. Singapore's defense ministry said in a statement that Pang had been put on life support following surgeries to repair his damaged organs but died at Waikato Hospital.
Also known as Pang Wei Chong, the actor was known for the movie "Young & Fabulous" (2016) as well as television series that include "The Truth Seekers" (2016) and "C.L.I.F." (2011).
Singapore mandates young men serve in its armed forces, police force or civil defense force. Most serve full-time for two years, and then have annual training obligations. Pang had completed his full-time service, and was an armament technician whose rank was corporal first class.
Before leaving for New Zealand, Pang wrote on Twitter that "Unfortunately, my 2019 will start off with me flying to New Zealand for 3 weeks due to reservist. I'll be back in action soon."
The military said it would convene an independent committee of inquiry to investigate the circumstances leading up to Pang being injured.
He had been working on a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer, a motorized piece of artillery that looks similar to a small tank. The live-firing training exercise took place at the Waiouru training area on New Zealand's North Island and is hosted by New Zealand's military each year.
Pang's Singapore agency NoonTalk Media posted a photo of the actor on Facebook and wrote "Dear Aloysius, you'll be missed."
Other actors also paid tribute. Shane Pow Xunping wrote on Instagram: "It is not enough for you to be a brother in this life. We will continue to be brothers in the next life. I love you."
Dhaka, Jan 23 (UNB) – Ekushey Padak-winning lyricist, composer and music director Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul who passed away early Tuesday was laid to eternal rest here on Wednesday night.
He was buried at the Martyred Intellectuals' Graveyard in Mirpur around 8:30pm following two namaz-e-janazas.
His first janaza was held at Dhaka University mosque after Zohr prayers while the second one on the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation premises after Asr prayers.
Earlier in the morning, his body was taken to the Central Shaheed Minar where people from all walks of life paid their last tributes to the renowned lyricist, composer and music director.
The body was kept there from around 11am to around 12:30 pm. Bulbul, also a freedom fighter, was given a guard of honour there.
A delegation on behalf of President M Abdul Hamid placed a wreath at his coffin while cultural personality and former minister Asaduzzaman Noor, state minister for cultural affairs KM Khalid paid homage to Imtiaz Bulbul.
Awami League leader Mahbubul Alam Hanif on behalf of the ruling party placed a wreath on the coffin of the noted lyricist.
Bulbul was taken to Ayesha Memorial Hospital at Mohakhali after he suffered a heart attack around 4am on Tuesday. However, doctors at the hospital declared him dead. He was 63.
Bulbul won a number of awards, including Ekushey Padak, National Film Award and the President Award.
He took part in the Liberation War at the age of 15. He started his career as a music director in the film ‘Megh Bijli Badol’. He released music album independently and directed numerous songs for films.
Bulbul won the ‘National Film Award’ as music director for ‘Premer Tajmahal’ and ‘Hazar Bosor Dhore’ films.
His famous works include ‘Shobkota Janala Khule Dao Na’, ‘O Majhi Nao Chaira De’, ‘Shei Railiner Dhare’, ‘Sundar Suborn Tarunno Labonnyo’, ‘Amar Sara Deho Kheo O Go Mati’, ‘Amar Babar Mukhe Prothom Jedin’ and many others.
New York, Jan 22 (AP/UNB) — The Oscars still don't have a host, but on Tuesday morning, they'll at least have nominees.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will unveil nominations to the 91st Oscars on Tuesday morning at 8:20 a.m. EST from the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills, California. The nominations, to be announced by Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross, will be livestreamed globally at Oscars.com , Oscars.org and on the academy's digital platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
The lead-up to Tuesday's nominations has been rocky for both the film academy and some of the movies in contention. Shortly after being announced as host, Kevin Hart was forced to withdraw over years-old homophobic tweets that the comedian eventually apologized for. That has left the Oscars, one month before its Feb. 24th ceremony, without an emcee, and likely to stay that way.
Hollywood's awards season has been an especially combustible one, too. Some contenders, like Peter Farrelly's "Green Book" and the Freddie Mercury biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody," have suffered waves upon waves of backlash, even as their awards tallies have mounted. On Saturday, "Green Book" won the top award from the Producers Guild, an honor that has been a reliable Oscar barometer. In the 10 years since the Oscars expanded its best-picture ballot, the PGA winner has gone on to win best picture eight times.
The season's steadiest contender — Bradley Cooper's "A Star Is Born" — looked potentially unbeatable until it got beat. Despite an enviable string of awards and more than $400 million in worldwide box office, Cooper's lauded remake was almost totally ignored at the Golden Globes, winning just best song and losing best picture, drama, to the popular but critically derided "Bohemian Rhapsody," a movie that jettisoned its director (Bryan Singer) mid-production.
Still, "A Star Is Born" (the sole film to land top nominations from every guild award except the Visual Effects Society) may be the lead nomination-getter Tuesday with around 10 nominations including best actress for Lady Gaga and both best director and best actor for Cooper. But other films, including Ryan Coogler's "Black Panther," Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" and Yorgos Lanthimos' "The Favourite," could be in for big mornings, too.
Here are some of the pressing questions heading into Tuesday's nominations.
HOW MANY WILL THERE BE?
Best picture nominees can fall anywhere from five to ten. Most commonly, we end up with nine nominees, as there was last year when Guillermo del Toro's "The Shape of Water" ultimately prevailed. Most assured of a spot are the films that have fared well consistently with Hollywood's guilds, whose memberships overlap with the 17 branches of the academy.
The five films picked by the strongly predictive Directors Guild — "BlacKkKlansman," ''A Star is Born," ''Roma," ''Green Book" and "Vice" — are probably in. So, too, are "The Favourite" and "Black Panther," leaving films like "Eighth Grade," ''First Man," ''A Quiet Place" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" vying for a place.
CAN NETFLIX MAKE HISTORY?
"Roma," Cuaron's black-and-white memory masterwork, is poised to hand Netflix its first best picture nomination — something the streaming service has dearly sought. Amazon got there first in 2017 with "Manchester by the Sea" but Netflix came close last year with Dee Rees' "Mudbound." This time around, it has gone against its regular policies to release "Roma" in select theaters shortly in advance of arriving on Netflix.
But there's resistance among some academy members to Netflix films at the Oscars since the company typically bypasses movie theaters. Steve Spielberg has said Netflix films are more like TV movies and deserve an Emmy, not an Oscar.
If "Roma," which is Mexico's foreign language submission, were to win best picture, it would become the first foreign language film to ever win in the category. Cuaron, who served as his own director of photography, is expected to be nominated for both best directing and best cinematography. If he were to win best director, he and his "Three Amigos" countrymen — del Toro, Alejandro G. Inarritu — will have won the category five of the last six years.
WILL 'BLACK PANTHER' ROAR?
Coogler's superhero sensation sold more tickets ($700 million worth) than any other film in North America in 2018. It has thus far won some honors here and there, but "Black Panther" may emerge as a major contender Tuesday. Coogler's film could be well represented in the craft categories, including visual effects, production design and costumes, along with Kendrick Lamar's "All the Stars" in the best song category.
The film's director of photography, Rachel Morrison, last year became the first woman to be nominated for best cinematography. This year, she could repeat the feat.
"Black Panther" could make history in one other way, too. A best picture nomination would be Marvel's first.
WILL SPIKE LAND HIS FIRST DIRECTING NOMINATION?
Spike Lee has been nominated twice before, for writing 1989's "Do the Right Thing" and for best documentary (1998's "4 Little Girls"). The 61-year-old filmmaker has even been given an honorary Oscar by the film academy, in 2015. But this year, Lee is favored to earn his first directing nomination for his impassioned white supremacist drama "BlacKkKlansman."
A year after Greta Gerwig became just the fifth woman nominated for best director, all of this year's favorites are men. Whether someone like Debra Granik ("Leave No Trace") can crack the category this year or not, it will be a different academy voting. In the last few years, the academy has considerably increased its membership in an effort to diversify its ranks, which have historically been overwhelmingly white and male. In June, the academy invited a record 928 new members.
AND ABOUT THAT HOST?
The Academy of Motion Pictures is reportedly planning to go host-less following Hart's exit, something it has tried only once before in an infamous 1989 telecast that featured a lengthy musical number with Rob Lowe and Snow White.
The Oscars last year hit a new ratings low, declining 20 percent and averaging 26.5 million viewers. Though ratings for award shows have generally been dropping, the downturn prompted the academy to revamp this year's telecast. Though initial plans for a new popular film category were scuttled, the academy is planning to present some awards off-air and keep the broadcast to three hours.