Lahore, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate are touring Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore, where they will visit a cancer hospital previously visited by William's mother, the late Princess Diana.
The hospital was started by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose first wife Jemima Goldsmith was a friend of the late princess.
The royal couple played cricket with children and members of Pakistan's cricket team at the National Cricket Academy. Their day began with a birthday party at a charitable organization, SOS Children's Village, and they'll also visit the historic Badshahi mosque.
Since arriving, the royal couple have been advocates for girls' education, visiting a girl's school in Islamabad. They addressed climate change while in Pakistan's northern region, where glaciers are melting at an alarming rate.
They return home Friday.
Nashville, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Writer-director Callie Khouri is drawn to stories about female friendships and country music, and her latest television film "Patsy and Loretta" combines those passions into the true story of a friendship between two of country music's most powerful voices.
The biopic about Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, which airs Oct. 19 on Lifetime, centers on their friendship, which has often been underexplored in country music history, at a time when the two pioneering women's careers overlapped in the early '60s.
Khouri, who wrote the classic female adventure film "Thelma and Louise" and brought her country music drama "Nashville" to primetime television, said even she was surprised to find out that the two singers had a close friendship when her stepdaughter brought her the script.
"I was just blown away because it was a time before we really knew much about any of the women in country music," said Khouri. "I loved both of the artists of course and the fact that they had this really incredible bond."
In the film, Cline is at the peak of her career with hits like "Walking After Midnight" and "I Fall to Pieces," while Lynn is a young singer-songwriter from Kentucky just getting her footing in Nashville.
Their styles were different, with Cline's powerful, almost theatrical voice made her one of country's first crossover artists, while Lynn penned songs about rural life and honky-tonk women. But both were dealing with industry demands on how they looked and sang, juggling being mothers with their careers and clashing with husbands that liked to fight and drink.
"We all know the story of Patsy Cline's life. We all know the story of Loretta Lynn's life. What not many people are aware of is their friendship," said Megan Hilty, who plays Cline. "It's about this beautiful supportive friendship between women and that is rarely done. These stories are not told in general."
Hilty, who is known for her Broadway roles in "Wicked" and "9 to 5" and the TV series "Smash," delved deep into Cline's recordings and videos of her performing and read letters written by Cline to family and friends.
"To play an icon of this magnitude is extremely daunting," Hilty said. "But she's a fascinating person. I'm absolutely obsessed and in love with her."
Jessie Mueller, who won a Tony Award for her role as Carole King in the Broadway musical "Beautiful," also had the challenge of capturing Lynn's well-known Appalachian accent and phrasing.
"There's dialect work. There's guitar work. It's a lot to try to encompass the essence of someone like Loretta Lynn," Mueller said.
The film was shot in Nashville, including at the historic Ryman Auditorium, where both singers have performed and the former home of the Grand Ole Opry. Khouri knows the theater intimately having shot a lot of scenes from "Nashville" there.
"Every time I come here I feel all the history, all the music that's been played. And you know, it doesn't feel like there's ghosts, but it feels very present to me. I just imagine Patsy on the stage and Bill Monroe and Hank Williams," Khouri said.
Cline died in a plane crash in 1963 at the age of 30, ending a career far too early, while Lynn is now 87 and has stopped touring after suffering a stroke in 2017, although she continues to put out new records. But their legacies as progressive and influential voices in a male dominated industry has continued to impact today's artists, said Mueller.
"I just get the feeling that, God bless them, they didn't know what they were doing for all the generations to come," Mueller said. "They were just trying to make it happen and they were just doing their thing, but they were really laying the groundwork for so many amazing women artists that came after them."
Los Angeles, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Drawing on his own Jewish heritage and experiences growing up surrounded by prejudice, writer-director-actor Taika Waititi was excited to make a movie against hate through a satire of the Nazi culture at the height of WWII, until he saw himself dressed as Adolf Hitler for the first time. He said he felt "shame and embarrassment."
"Jojo Rabbit" tells the story of a boy in the Hitler Youth army who discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house and things get complicated as the boy's imaginary friend is Hitler himself. Waititi plays the imaginary Hitler in the movie, which stars Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and Rebel Wilson, among others. Wearing a Hitler costume was jarring, but Waititi said he eventually "came to the conclusion that it's not Hitler.
"This character is conjured from the mind of a 10-year-old. So, he is a 10-year-old in a grown-up's body, and also one way of me like I think disempowering Hitler, was by taking over his body and putting those clothes on and taking his mustache and his haircut. And then it felt in a way like I had possessed him and then I could, I could control him and do whatever I wanted. I could be you know; I could be really nice, or I could be even more of an idiot. And you know I could be like this real kind of clumsy buffoon and that's what I enjoy. I enjoyed that the most really was like being able to ridicule him from within his clothes, I guess."
The root of the film began with the novel "Caging Skies" by Christine Leunens. While the book is more dramatic, Waititi decided to use that as a base while adding comedic elements.
As troubling as it was for Waititi to see himself dressed as Hitler, it was also disturbing for his cast to be directed and ordered around by someone wearing a Hitler costume. "Game of Thrones" actor Alfie Allen walked on to set for the first time to find his director already in full costume.
"It was definitely an arresting image to be greeted by your director dressed as Hitler. And so yeah, he kind of was conscious of that. At times I think he would know that if he was getting us a little bit irate that he would have to kind of reel in because it was genuinely frightening for people," Allen said.
Waititi remembers Johansson, who plays the young Nazi boy's mother, rolling her eyes at his costume. But what concerned Waititi was the emotional reaction of his young star, Roman Griffin Davis
"He's so empathetic that he had done all this research of what the victims of World War II had gone through and stuff and I think he was so struck with that that when he saw me, he got really emotional and I got really worked up because he associated that — and rightly so — he associated that image with murder of millions and millions of people as he should associated it," Waititi said. "But it was just such a pure reaction from someone who's from a pure heart."
The movie is being released on Friday in theaters across the United States.
Los Angeles, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Ask the daughter of paranormal researcher and "Ghostbusters" inspiration Hans Holzer whether she's got any scary Halloween memories to share, and Alexandra Holzer doesn't disappoint.
She was about 12 years old and getting ready to go trick-or-treating while her dad typed busily away in his New York City apartment, she recalled. Heading toward her bedroom to get out a favorite costume, a witch's cape, she was stopped short by a holiday-worthy sight.
"My black cape was floating in front of the dresser, and the drawer where I kept the cape was open. I just stood there like, 'What do I do? What am I looking at?'" she said. "I ran away into the living room and I took a deep breath. I didn't go get my father because I knew he would say, 'Go back in and investigate it.' So I bravely went back in and the drawer had been closed. The cape was inside, and I thought I was crazy."
It was a mild encounter with what Holzer speculated was a mischievous spirit, certainly less hair-raising than the goings-on that Hans Holzer, who died in 2009 at age 89, spent decades investigating and some of which are revisited in the new Travel Channel series, "The Holzer Files" (10 p.m. EDT Thursday).
The Whaley House, a historic San Diego home where visitors claimed to have encountered ghostly apparitions and heard disembodied voices, is the subject of this week's episode. Holzer and a medium reported contact in 1961 with the house's late residents and a 19th-century thief said to have been hanged on the site, but he felt more remained to be found.
Enter the series' "dedicated paranormal team," as the channel describes researcher and radio host Dave Schrader, psychic medium Cindy Kaza and technician Shane Pittman, who search for evidence bolstering Holzer's original findings and make their own discovery. The trio is joined on the series by Alexandra Holzer, an author who has continued her father's work, and researcher-producer Gabe Roth.
Take it with a grain of skepticism, or a salt mine's worth, but ghost stories are enduring. Upcoming episodes, which draw on Hans Holzer's case files that include audio tapes, letters and other material, look at places with haunted histories, including the Barnstable House in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the Howard-Dickinson house in Henderson, Texas.
Holzer was born in Vienna, Austria, and held post-graduate degrees in comparative religion and parapsychology. He wrote more than 100 books starting with "Ghost Hunter" in 1963 and including "Murder in Amityville." His account of a Long Island, New York, house where a family's 1974 killing was followed by claims of eerie events was the basis for the 1982 film "Amityville II: The Possession."
Holzer scoffed at the movie, dismissing it as "all Hollywood," his daughter said, while he found "Ghostbusters" to be funny and "endearing." Dan Aykroyd who starred in and co-wrote the 1984 comedy, has said he found inspiration for "Ghostbusters" in Holzer's research.
Alexandra Holzer said her father was rigorous in scrutinizing reports of brushes with the dead, whom he considered fellow human beings who are troubled and unable to move on. While he used mediums in his research, he came to believe that psychic gifts are universal.
"What my father had realized over the years is everybody has the ability, everybody is aware and intuitive. It's just a question of whether or not we're open enough and ready to receive that information and have a belief system that something bigger than us is around us 24/7," she said.
She hopes the series introduces her dad to new generations, a feeling she's certain he shares.
"He's very aware of the show ... and I'm sure he's watching very closely to see, hopefully, a good, positive ripple wave to go among those not familiar with the work," she said.
Hackensack, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Seven years after hitting the road to perform and share their stories of recording with some of the biggest names in pop music, a New Jersey-based group of former A-list session musicians is being recognized for its efforts.
The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville is giving its first "Road Warrior" award to The Hit Men, a group originally assembled in 2012 by former members of Frankie Valli and Four Seasons. The group has toured steadily since then, and its Oct. 28 concert at Nashville's City Winery will close a month of shows in California, Arizona, Maine, Louisiana and Tennessee.
"It's an incredible honor to be recognized for the work we've each put into our careers supporting the greatest names in the music industry," founding member Lee Shapiro said.
The museum opened in 2006 and showcases the often-unsung musicians who have backed legendary pop performers. Among its famous inductees are the Wrecking Crew, the group of L.A. studio musicians that played on numerous '60s pop hits; and the Funk Brothers, Motown Records' house rhythm section.
Seeking to ride the musical nostalgia wave and the success of the Four Seasons-inspired musical "Jersey Boys," The Hit Men formed in 2012 in a basement studio in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, about 10 miles from New York. Their roots extend decades further.
Shapiro, keyboardist for Valli during the singer's mid-1970s comeback, had played with guitarist Don Ciccone and drummer Gerry Polci with the Four Seasons and knew bassist Larry Gates from childhood. Ciccone and guitarist Jimmy Ryan had scored hits with the pop group The Critters in the '60s. All had extensive credits playing behind artists from Carole King and Carly Simon to Elton John, the Rolling Stones and dozens more.
The group added veteran session vocalist Russell Velasquez and has played 40 to 60 dates per year ever since, adjusting its set list as the "Jersey Boys" phenomenon faded.
Along the way, they lost Gates to complications from multiple myeloma and Ciccone to a heart attack. Gates' spot was filled by Jeff Ganz, whose lengthy resume includes stints with Chuck Berry, Dr. John, Johnny Winter and Blood, Sweat and Tears. Polci left the group and was replaced by Steve Murphy, who has backed Alan Parsons, Todd Rundgren, Jack Bruce and others.
"We felt that even though there wasn't a category in the museum for this, we wanted to recognize them," museum founder and CEO Joe Chambers said Wednesday. "This is to recognize them for taking the music on the road to entertain thousands and thousands of people."
The touring is a grind for Shapiro, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2014, but it is outweighed by the rewards.
"When I'm sitting in front of the piano, I don't feel any symptoms," he said. "I feel like I'm 23, 24 years old again."