May 31, 2012


Associated Press


CAP D’ANTIBES, France (AP) — Janet Jackson may have joined the ranks of diet plan celebrity spokeswomen Jennifer Hudson and Mariah Carey, but she insists there’s absolutely no competition among the slimmed-down singers.

The 46-year-old became a spokesperson for NutriSystem in December and credits the diet company for helping her lose weight, though she’s keeping quiet about the exact number she’s lost.

“You know I think it’s great that all the girls, or as many as possible, can stand up and try to help as many people as possible. That’s really what it’s about. It’s not about competing with each other, not for me,” said Jackson in a plunging neckline Pucci gown at amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS gala Thursday in Cap D’Antibes, France.

“I took off all that extra stuff I really didn’t need and I feel really good,” she said.

Carrey became the spokesperson for Jenny Craig after dropping 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) with their plan and a toned Hudson is seen singing the praises of Weightwatchers in the company’s commercials.

But it wasn’t all glitz and glam for Jackson, who traveled the south of France to co-share the annual amfAR charity event. The recent loss of industry legends Donna Summer and Robin Gibb still weighed heavily on her mind.

“They’ve brought so much joy to this world,” said Jackson on the red carpet. “I remember being 11-years-old, going to New York and I was visiting Mike (Jackson), he was working on ‘The Wiz’ and I was on hiatus from shooting the show ‘Good Times’ and we would always listen to ‘How Deep is your Love’, that was the song of my trip, he and I. So it was such incredible memories of them.”

Gibb, a founding member of the Bee Gees, died May 20 following a battle with cancer and intestinal surgery. Disco icon Summer died May 17 of lung cancer.

Right now Jackson is busy working on new music, which she says is still in the “beginning stages.”

“Everything I’ve done, it’s always been different here or there, from one album to the next, a mixture of stuff. So we’ll see,” she said.


Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 31, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — President Barack Obama heads to Broadway next month as part of a double bill with former President Bill Clinton — and the stars will be out to welcome them.

James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, Nina Arianda, Kerry Butler, Norbert Leo Butz, Bobby Cannavale, Stockard Channing, Megan Hilty and Cheyenne Jackson are some of the performers slated to attend the June 4 fundraiser.

"Barack on Broadway" is one of two events that day that will join Obama and Clinton. The two presidents will also attend a dinner featuring a performance by Jon Bon Jovi.

The fund-raiser will be at the New Amsterdam Theatre, the home of "Mary Poppins" and will be directed by George C. Wolfe.

General admission is $250, with VIP tickets for $1,000.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 31, 2012


Feather the nest. Stock up on stuff for the long haul. Cement relationships. A friend needs your support. Enjoy giving it. You will receive good news about a pal. Soul Affirmation: Cheerfully handling what comes at me is the test of who I am.



Be cautious and conservative with money. You are extremely witty this week. Allow others to enjoy your good humor. Your leadership skills are very high, and others will follow. Soul Affirmation: Luck is my best friend this week.



This is a good time for you to seek agreement on a plan that involves a relative. Take the time to remind your lover how much you care. Get a little sentimental if you have to. Don’t be too critical of that softer side of your personality. Soul Affirmation: Self-confidence is the key to my success this week.



You’ve made your point. Now wait. Wait for the feedback about the impact it had on the people around you. Be careful of those who don’t celebrate with you. They feel the impact and are resisting the positive effects. Soul Affirmation: Before goodness can come I must expect goodness.



Be sharp! All of your needs will be met in indirect ways. Gifts will come from unexpected sources. They will be carefully packaged to go unnoticed. Unwrap everything and look inside. There will be empty boxes, but there will also be a prize in an unanticipated situation. Soul Affirmation: I look for the good in all that comes to me this week.



Push. Now is a good time to push. Your energy is higher than ever. Someone might get offended, but you can’t please everyone. Hire a pro for something that you planned to do yourself, especially if a expertise is involved. Soul Affirmation: Success is mine because I feel successful.



Review your “to do” list again. You may need to slow down to discover something that you didn’t realize while you were in the flow of events. Your lover is going to be a little difficult to understand. Back off if an argument arises. You’re probably the one who is too busy. Forgiving yourself is often harder than getting someone else to forgive you. Soul Affirmation: Two hats fit well on my big head.



Make a special effort to spend all week with your lover, husband or wife. Your sense of the importance of relationships is keen and this is a good time to strengthen your passionate partnership. Take your lover to a party. Devote attention. Soul Affirmation: Change is my middle name.



The flock will come to you for direction. Give it gracefully. Know that your insights will help a lot if you deliver them in the right way. If you are a mother, guidance will be the best gift you can give others this week. Soul Affirmation: Knowing I can do it is the biggest preparation for getting it done.



Most people don’t know how often dreams and reality blend into that practical consciousness of yours. Knowledge comes from a dream you’ve had lately. This week is a good week to get started making that dream a reality. Soul Affirmation: My spirit gives me limitless possibilities.



Cooperation is key this week in your relationship with your partner. Even if you know you’re right, let your partner have his or her way in the early going. Your staying power will give you influence or control in the late rounds. Soul Affirmation: I let go and let the spirit run my life this week.



At home, projects flourish as family cooperates. They do love you and they are tired of being difficult. However, time spent by yourself leads to important insights. It’s a favorable time for research and study. Soul Affirmation: I let my luck work for me.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 31, 2012

By JON GAMBRELL | Associated Press

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — The deep, croaking-frog rhythm of the talking drums sound out across the stage as canoeists in animal hide row a condemned servant and royal infant into the unknown. The unified voice of a choir rises above the beats, singing in the Yoruba language of Nigeria's southwest at the start of a play that begins in its middle.

This isn't the William Shakespeare you know.

Instead, this is an African reboot of "The Winter's Tale," one of the lesser known tragicomedies written by the Bard about a child princess cast away out of jealous rage and later reunited with her royal family. A theater company in Nigeria is performing their version of the play, called "Itan Oginintin," at Shakespeare's Globe in London for a festival showing 38 Shakespeare plays in different world languages as part of the London Cultural Olympiad.

For the Lagos-based performers in the Renegade Theatre company, the chance to perform allows them to represent a country whose rich history in the arts has faded under corrupt governments.

"Some time between the '80s and the '90s, I think a bridge collapsed," said Wole Oguntokun, who leads Renegade Theatre. "And now we are all looking for a way across that bridge."

Nigeria remains home to Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, the aging playwright who Oguntokun used as a muse for a play he wrote about the essayist's tangles with the military rulers who once governed Africa's most populous nation. But while the military built the country's National Theatre in Lagos, a massive building in the shape of an officer's cap, it now sits largely unused and in poor condition.

Most Nigerians' experience with acting are from over-the-top performances on television soap operas and Nollywood movies. Slowly, however, Oguntokun and others have staged performances.

The production of "The Winter's Tale," Oguntokun hopes, will bring new focus on the value of stage acting in Nigeria through its two performances at Shakespeare's Globe, a replica theater built in London to model the one where the Bard's plays once were staged. The theater will stage 38 of Shakespeare's plays in various languages as part of a festival leading up to the Summer Olympics in London.

While Swahili and the languages of South Africa and Zimbabwe will be featured, Yoruba represents the only West African language to be a part of the festival. But it is a formal style of Yoruba that goes unheard in Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, where its words get mixed into English and pidgin.

Some actors who tried out for the play couldn't handle the archaic bits of the language thrown into the play, Oguntokun said. Those who made the cut found their own ways to handle it.

"I used to read the Yoruba Bible when I was small when I went to church, so I went back to the Yoruba Bible and started reading over and over again," actor Rotimi Fakunle said. "It was easier for me to switch."

The Nigerian performance also includes significant changes from the original text, as the royalty imagined by Shakespeare become the volatile Yoruba gods Ogun and Sango. The character Time, who keeps track of the plot for the audience in the original text, has been replaced by a traditional singer.

Oguntokun wants this type of traditional African storytelling to grow stronger in coming years, and gain even more international attention.

"We will tell our stories and not have our stories told to us all of the time," Oguntokun said hopefully. 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 24, 2012


NEW YORK (AP) — Donna Summer’s funeral will be a private one for family and close friends.


Publicist Brian Edwards said in a statement Friday that Summer’s family is overwhelmed and appreciates the outreach from fans and friends, but that her funeral services will remain private.


He didn’t provide details on when and where services would be held.


Summer died Thursday morning of lung cancer at age 63 in Naples, Fla. Edwards also said that the singer did not smoke.


Summer earned the title of Queen of Disco after releasing a string of dance hits in the 1970s, including “I Feel Love,” “Love to Love You Baby” and “Last Dance.”


Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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