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US star Anne Hathaway talks about latest pandemic movie ‘Locked Down’

Monitoring Desk

LOS ANGELES: As the rest of the world was shutting down to stave off COVID-19, U.S. star Anne Hathaway found herself starting up a whole new movie project – a rom-com heist caper set in the pandemic still raging around her.

“I don’t think either of us quite knows how we pulled it off,” Hathaway told Reuters as she sat down with her co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor to talk about Locked Down, the result of their labors that started streaming on HBO Max on Thursday.

The film tells the story of a couple on the verge of breaking up until coronavirus restrictions leave them stuck together in London.

The frustration from their forced cohabitation and a series of plot twists boil over into a scheme to steal a diamond from Harrod’s department store.

Shooting started in the autumn when Britain was ramping up restrictions again after a relative lull. The race was on to get everything done before the full shutters came down again and to get the film out while the setting was current.

The two actors agreed to do the film after seeing only an incomplete script.

“It was one of those things that becomes a kind of a blur, you know,” said Ejiofor, the star of 12 Years a Slave, Kinky Boots, and Serenity.

“Maybe the first couple of days I was on top of the lines, you know, and then there was just the rest of the shooting schedule. And it was complex, but it was fun … to kind of play in that and to be on edge.”

The pandemic framed the plot and had an equally strong influence behind the camera.

“It’s a strange thing to make a film with everybody in masks,” said Ejiofor. “There are people there that I did not see their full faces. I probably will pass them in the street one day and then they’ll cover themselves and I’ll be like, oh, it’s you!”

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Actress Mashal Khan looks stunning in bridal dresses

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Actress Mashal Khan is the choice of many bridal dress-makers because the diva is a new face in the industry of Pakistan and is a well-known actress.

Mashal Khan came into eminence from drama Serial Suno Chanda and after receiving a lot of appreciation, she gave her best performances in other projects.

Mashal has worked on many great projects and has projected different characters, all with complete grace.

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US singer Cardi B to star in comedy film ‘Assisted Living’

Monitoring Desk

LOS ANGELES: US singer and songwriter Cardi B has said that when you have opportunities in your hands take them all as she has landed her first leading role in comedy film Assisted Living.

The hip-hop star previously had a small role in 2019 crime-drama Hustlers.

Grammy winner Cardi B will play a crook turned elderly woman in the Paramount’s upcoming film Assisted Living.

Responding to her latest role, the I Like It singer tweeted, “Work & life is about to become 10x harder but I’m overwhelmed with happiness.”

She further said, “When you have opportunities in your hands TAKE THEM ALL!,” Cardi B further said.

Cardi B rose to fame in 2015 when she began appearing on US reality TV show Love & Hip Hop: New York.

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David Hasselhoff’s fully functional KITT car from Knight Rider to be auctioned off

LONDON (Thesun): DAVID Hasselhoff’s fully functional ‘talking’ car from Knight Rider is being auctioned off – and he’ll even deliver it himself to the buyer.

The actor, 68, is selling the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – a replica of the vehicle from the 80s hit TV show – for at least £350,000.

He is conducting the auction on the Live Auctioneers website, based in Calabasas, California.

He has even pledged to drive the iconic vehicle to its new owner if the price exceeds the reserve by 25 per cent.

Anyone interested in the KITT car has until January 23 to get their bids in.

It’s currently located in the UK and any future owner will have to pay for delivery costs, according to the listing.

There’s already a huge interest in the car and bids have already exceeded close to £350,000, despite initially expected to fetch somewhere between £180,000 to £219,000, according to

But the legendary actor and singer says that he will be donating parts of the proceeds to some of his favourite charities.

This not the first time the Baywatch star has sold a KITT car to one of his fans.

In 2019, he sold his own version of the Knight Rider motor to a crying man on the Chris Evan’s show.

Speaking on the sale he said: “Well, I had one in my own garage. And a man called me from Turkey, and he was crying, ‘I love you’.

“But he couldn’t speak any English and he wanted to buy my Knight Rider car.

“So I sold it to him for like a hundred fifty thousand bucks for charity. And it’s in Turkey.”

Along with the car, he is also selling another 150 items at the auction.

Other items up for sale include ‘Lunch with the Hoff,’ a meal with the 68-year-old Baywatch star estimated to fetch up to £14,600 and an enormous figurine of the actor from the Spongebob movie for £740,000.

He is also selling another two sets of wheels for those who miss out on the KITT car.

These include his classic 1961 Mercedes-Benz SL190 (£40,000 – £66,000 estimated), and a rare, Hoff-autographed Knight Rider pedal car (£290 -£365 estimated).

A colossal 3D model of the Hoff in a bodysurfing pose known as ‘Big Dave’ which was used as a prop in the 2004 SpongeBob SquarePants film is also listed.

The piece was also exhibited at a 2010 Comedy Central ‘roast’ of the actor and has already reached the midpoint of its £550,000 – £1 million estimate.

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Instagram influencers are a vaccine priority in wary Indonesia

Monitoring Desk

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Among the first in the queue for coronavirus vaccines in Indonesia has been one conspicuous group – social media influencers.

Alongside President Joko Widodo as the world’s fourth most populous country kicked off its vaccination drive on Wednesday was Indonesian television personality, Raffi Ahmad, who boasts almost 50 million followers on Instagram.

“Alhamdulillah [Praise be to God] a vaccine … Don’t be afraid of vaccines,” the 33-year-old celebrity wrote under a video of him receiving the shot, next to a heart emoji and another of Indonesia’s red and white flag.

Deciding who should be first in line for limited vaccine doses has been a challenge around the world, with many countries prioritising vulnerable medics and the elderly.

Senior health ministry official, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said the decision to include influencers alongside almost 1.5 million healthcare workers in the first round of inoculations was a deliberate government communications strategy.

Although Indonesia faces the most severe coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia – with more than 869,000 cases and 25,000 deaths – there has been scepticism around the safety and efficacy of any vaccine, and in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, whether it is halal, or allowed under Islam.

Indonesians are among the top global users of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The health ministry did not say how many infuencers would be first in the vaccine line, but others due to receive a shot on Thursday included musicians Ariel, of the band Noah, and Risa Saraswati.

Ahyani Raksanagara, head of Bandung’s health agency, told Reuters the artists would “hopefully convey positive influence and messages” about the vaccines, and especially to young people.

A poll last month showed just 37% of Indonesians were willing to be vaccinated while 40% would consider it, and 17% refused.

Some doctors have raised doubts over Indonesia’s initial use of Chinese company Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac vaccine – with studies from Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey showing efficacies ranging from 50-91%.

But in another possible boost for chances of acceptance, the country’s top Islamic council has deemed the vaccine halal.

However the decision to include social media influencers on the priority list backfired somewhat when photos of Raffi showed him partying hours after he was given the injection – which does not confer immediate immunity.

The images of him unmasked and flouting social distancing protocols with a group of friends drew criticism on social media, with calls for him to set a better example.

“It also shows the government is inconsistent in prioritising who gets the vaccine first,” said Irma Hidayana, cofounder of pandemic data initiative LaporCOVID-19, “They should’ve done it with another health worker, maybe, not an influencer.”

Health ministry official Nadia noted that “when you’re vaccinated, you still have to abide by health protocols and not be careless in enforcing them”.

Zubairi Djoerban of the Indonesian Medical Association said the strategy to hire influencers could only work if “influencers are briefed about vaccine and COVID-19 so they can be agents of change”.

Police said they are investigating whether Raffi broke the law, while he has offered a public apology.

Courtesy: Reuters

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Shakira joins the list of stars to sell the rights to their songs

Monitoring Desk

Shakira has become the latest artist to sell the rights to her music for a multi-million dollar sum. All 145 of her songs, including Hips Don’t Lie, Whenever, Wherever and She Wolf, are included in the deal. The songs have made her the best-selling female Latin artist of all time, with 80 million records sold worldwide. The deal was struck with the Hipgnosis Song Fund, which also recently acquired Blondie and Neil Young’s music.

Hipgnosis company did not disclose financial details of the sale, but it typically pays the equivalent of 15 years’ royalties up front. With tax relief, many walk away with “about 25 years worth of money in one fell swoop”, the company’s founder, Merck Mercuriadis, told the BBC last year. That provides the artists with immediate financial security, while Hipgnosis – which owns the songs in perpetuity – hopes to profit by building new revenue streams for the music via film and TV licensing, merchandise, cover versions and performance royalties.

Why Shakira?

image captionShakira performed at last year’s Super Bowl half-time show

Hipgnosis has been on a billion-dollar spending spree over the last few years, snapping up the rights to music by artists like Nile Rodgers, Blondie, Barry Manilow, Chrissie Hynde and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham.

Shakira’s hits came more recently than those “legacy” artists, but she is one of the most successful singer-songwriters of the last 25 years.

Since releasing her first album in 1991, at the age of 13, she has sold more than 80 million records, won three Grammy Awards and 12 Latin Grammy Awards.

Her first English-language album, Laundry Service, was bought by more than 13 million fans in 2001, while her hit singles include Whenever, Wherever, Underneath Your Clothes, Hips Don’t Lie and the 2010 Fifa World Cup song Waka Waka (This Time For Africa), which topped the charts in 15 countries.

The star’s most recent album, El Dorado, was certified diamond in the US. She is one of only three female artists to have two videos exceeding two billion views on YouTube. And her latest single, Girl Like Me, has spawned a viral dance craze on Tik Tok.

Last year, she starred in the Super Bowl half-time show alongside Jennifer Lopez, giving her song catalogue a further boost – and increasing its value to investors.

“She is a superb creator who has led the charge from what was massive physical success to now having bigger success in streaming than most of her contemporaries,” said Mercuriadis in a statement.

“This is the result of her being a determined force of nature and having written songs the world is incredibly passionate about.”

Why are all these artists selling their music?

Stevie Nicks
image captionStevie Nicks recently sold the publishing rights to songs like Dreams, Rhiannon and Edge Of Seventeen

Financial security is the obvious reason. Rather than gambling that their songs will continue earn royalties, for the next 25 years, singers like Shakira get a lump sum up-front.

Hipgnosis’s pitch to musicians is that they are not a traditional publisher, exploiting the rights of a composition, but a “song management company” that will ensure an artist’s legacy by careful stewardship of their music.

After buying a 50% take in Neil Young’s catalogue, for example, Mercuriadis promised that the singer’s classic track Heart of Gold would never be found on a burger commercial.

Hipgnosis is not the only company in the game. Earlier this week, investment company KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) bought the rights to 500 songs written by Ryan Tedder – including tracks like Ed Sheeran’s Happier, Camila Cabello’s Into It and the Jonas Brothers’ Sucker.

Bob Dylan recently handed his 600-song back catalogue to Universal Music, in a deal that was reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

And the US-based Primary Wave has been buying up the rights to music by Stevie Nicks, Leon Russell, Leo Sayer and soft-rock duo Air Supply.

For Shakira, another factor in selling up could be the €14.5m (£13m) tax bill she recently faced from Spanish government.

I thought artists wanted to own their songs?

image captionPrince fought to regain control of his masters for much of his career

Certainly, a lot of musicians have gone to war over the rights to their music.

Paul McCartney famously fell out with Michael Jackson after he bought the rights to the Beatles songs in the 1980s. Prince spent most of the 1990s battling record label Warner Bros over the ownership of his music – even writing the word “slave” on his face in protest.

And right now, Taylor Swift is busily re-recording all of her first six albums, after the master tapes (i.e. the original recordings) were sold to a private investment company against her will.

Someone like Swift is unlikely to sell her publishing rights (which cover the music and lyrics) but other artists will take a different view.

Sophisticated buyers work hand-in-hand with musicians, defining how their songs and recordings can (and cannot) be used. And some artists, like Neil Young, have only sold a portion of their rights – meaning they retain a degree of control.

Another potential benefit of selling is that, when an artist dies, their music won’t be tied up in ugly and lengthy family battles over who will manage their legacy.

So what does Shakira have to say about all of this?

image captionThe singer says she writes music “to make sense of the world”

In a statement, the Colombian said Hipgnosis would be a “great home” for her music, and waxed lyrical about her love of songwriting.

“Being a songwriter is an accomplishment that I consider equal to and perhaps even greater than being a singer and an artist, ” she said.

“At eight years old – long before I sang – I wrote to make sense of the world. Each song is a reflection of the person I was at the time that I wrote it, but once a song is out in the world, it belongs not only to me but to those who appreciate it as well.

“I’m humbled that songwriting has given me the privilege of communicating with others, of being a part of something bigger than myself.”

So now you know.

Courtesy: BBC

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Katie Couric, Mayim Bialik to be ‘Jeopardy!’ guest hosts

Monitoring Desk

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Katie Couric, Mayim Bialik, Aaron Rodgers and journalist Bill Whitaker are among the future guest hosts who will fill in for the late Alex Trebek on “Jeopardy!”

The show announced Wednesday that Couric, the journalist and former “Today” show host, will become the first woman ever to host the show.

Trebek, the face of the show for 36 years, died from pancreatic cancer Nov. 8, and the final shows he recorded aired last week. The show has opted to use a series of interim guest hosts rather than immediately find permanent replacements.

Ken Jennings, considered the show’s greatest champion, is currently serving as the first guest host. Once his run is done, executive producer Mike Richards will fill in for two weeks while the newly announced guests prepare for their stints.

Rodgers, the superstar quarterback currently leading the Green Bay Packers through the NFL playoffs, is a former “Celebrity Jeopardy!” champion, and Bialik, former star of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and current star of Fox’s “Call Me Kat,” is a neuroscientist, making them fitting choices to serve up clues for contestants for the brainy quiz show.

Rodgers, the Pro Bowler and two-time NFL MVP, had already leaked the news of his hosting earlier this week.

“I apologize to ‘Jeopardy!’ if they wanted to announce it, I just got so excited,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “The show has been so special to me over the years.”

Whitaker, a “60 Minutes” correspondent, will also be a guest host.

The show will make a donation to the guest hosts’ charity of choice that matches the total dollar amount won by contestants during their run.

Courtesy: AP News

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Senior actor Mumtaz Ali Shah passes away in Peshawar

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Veteran television actor Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah Bacha breathed his last in Peshawar on Wednesday. Mumtaz Ali Shah, who acted in more than 100 Pashto and Urdu dramas.

His Namaz-i-Janaza will be offered in Peshawar later Wednesday.  Performance in Pashto play Aasman and Jaana took Mumtaz Ali Khan at the peak of his acting career. 

He joined Pakistan Radio in 1948 and made a mark in radio plays due to his impressive dialogue delivery. Mumtaz Ali Shah had received Nishan-i-Imtiaz in 2006. Mumtaz was born in 1930 in Speenwa Warrai village of Peshawar.

He did his matric from the historic Islamia Collegiate School Peshawar in 1948. One of his relatives took him to Radio Pakistan, Peshawar as he was working as an audio engineer after audition he was offered a two-line dialogue in a Pashto drama and it proved a turning point in his acting career.

Mr Shah had become a household name as his acting career is spanned over 50 years.

Three years ago during a drama shoot, he fell down and developed pain in his back and got bedridden ever since.

Recipient of numerous awards, Mr Shah has played lead roles in around 1,500 radio, TV, theatre Pashto and Urdu plays and also a major role in a Pashto film ‘Mafroo’ released in early 80s. Retired from government works department, he has a collection of unpublished Pashto poems.

Mr Shah’s voice quality, performance range and facial expressions made him a popular drama name. He said that his fans had showered on him almost every kind of award, commendation certificate and shield and that alone served him to live a satisfying life.

He had once said that so many facilities in the modern hi-tech age rolled out the spirit of art from the artists where feelings and emotions were reduced to robotics and script being empty words.

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Telegraph co-owner David Barclay dies at 86 after short illness

Monitoring Desk

(Reuters) – British billionaire and Daily Telegraph co-owner David Barclay has died unexpectedly after a short illness aged 86, the newspaper said late on Tuesday.

David and Frederick Barclay, who are twins, bought the proprietorship of the Telegraph Media Group in 2004 after venturing into media ownership in 1992.

The twins began their business empire with hotels and grew to include shipping and retailing.

The brothers ventured into media ownership in 1992 when they bought The European, which was followed by the purchase of The Scotsman in 1995 and Sunday Business in 1997, according to the newspaper.

“After these ventures in the publishing arena, the brothers had nurtured since the 1980s an ambition to own the Telegraph group,” The Telegraph said.

In October 2019, the Barclay family put the Daily and Sunday Telegraph newspapers up for sale as it was assessing its multi-billion-pound business investments in the United Kingdom.

Born in 1934, London, the twins left school at the age of 14.

Courtesy: Reuters

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Chuck Norris manager denies his presence at U.S. Capitol riot

Monitoring Desk

NEW YORK (AP) — Chuck Norris’ manager says the “Walker, Texas Ranger” star was not present at last week’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

A photo of a man resembling Norris apparently with a member of the mob began trending online. “This is not Chuck Norris,” Norris manager Erik Kritzer told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“Chuck remains on his range in Texas where he has been with his family,” Kritzer said. He acknowledged that the man photographed looked somewhat like Norris but “Chuck is much more handsome.”

“Walker, Texas Ranger,” in which Norris played karate-kicking lawman Cordell Walker, ran on CBS from 1993 to 2001. In 2016, he announced his support for President Donald Trump.

Courtesy: AP News