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Elizabeth Pena of La Bamba, Lone Star fame, dead at 55

Elizabeth Pena of La Bamba, Lone Star fame, dead at 55

Elizabeth Pena, the versatile actress who shifted between dramatic roles in such films as Lone Star and La Bamba and comedic parts like Down and Out in Beverly Hills and Rush Hour, has died. She was 55.Pena’s manager, Gina Rugolo, said Wednesday the Cuban-American actress died Tuesday in Los Angeles of natural causes after a brief illness. No other details were provided.Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Pena’s Hollywood career spanned four decades and included roles in such movies as Times Square, Blue Steel, The Waterdance and Jacob’s Ladder. In filmmaker John Sayles’s Lone Star, she memorably portrayed a history teacher who rekindles a romance with an old flame, played by Chris Cooper.Pena appeared on such TV shows as Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Dream On, Resurrection Blvd. and Modern Family, where she played the mother of Sofia Vergara’s character, Gloria.She starred in the 1980s sitcom I Married Dora in the titular role as a housekeeper from El Salvador who weds her employer to avoid deportation.Pena also provided her voice to Disney-Pixar’s The Incredibles, the Justice League cartoon series and Seth MacFarlane’s American Dad.Pena most recently appeared on the El Rey Network drama Matador.”She was a role model, a truly extraordinary performer and an inspiration in every sense of the word,” the network said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with Elizabeth’s family and friends during this difficult time. She ?will be deeply missed.”She is survived by her husband, two children, mother and sister.On mobile? Read the tweet from La Bamba co-star Lou Diamond Phillips here.On mobile? Read the tweet from Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson hereOn mobile? Read the tweet from America Ferrera

Women filmmakers call for gender equity in male-dominated industry

Women filmmakers call for gender equity in male-dominated industry

A national summit of women filmmakers is calling for gender equity when it comes to funding Canadian screen projects.The summit of 14 leaders of women’s media organizations and unions says despite the fact that half of new filmmakers have long been women, big budget film and TV productions are still overwhelmingly dominated by men.Filmmakers and other industry representatives were told only 6 per cent of Telefilm Canada’s feature film funding in 2013 went to movies directed by women. Telefilm administers the Canadian Media Fund.The summit announced seven recommendations during a forum Wednesday at the St. John’s Women’s International Film Festival, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.Among the recommendations:Public investment in media industries should be tied to a requirement to demonstrate gender balance
Recording, and annual reporting on gender and racial representation should be part of applications and delivery requirements for public funding.
Summit member, and U.B.C. film professor, Sharon McGowan wants public agencies such as Telefilm and the National Film Board to demand gender equity plans from producers before handing out public money — plans that guarantee jobs to women on either end of the camera.She said those agencies used to observe gender equity guidelines for in-house productions, but 20 years ago they moved to a grant-giving system.”The more experienced producers tended to be men, and tended to have established companies [that] were able to access that funding at a much higher rate and to hold on to it. So that’s where the shift happened. I don’t think it was through any malevolent force,” she said.McGowan said women tend to be over-represented in low-budget arts projects, or work in traditional roles such as costumes and make-up.”I think that a lot of them feel that they’re inadequate perhaps. That’s why they’re not ahead. They don’t see systemic barriers as quickly as people like I do. They may feel that maybe there work isn’t strong enough or they’re not assertive. That is absolutely not the case,” she said.Kay Armatage, a former Toronto International Film Festival programmer said women were making progress, then the tide turned about twenty years ago.”Someone who was a major honcho in Telefilm Canada said to me, ‘You can’t play the gender card anymore, Kay.” And it dropped off the table,” she said.Armatage said it’s time Canada follow the example of Britain and Sweden who have both spelled out gender equity guidelines for publicly-funded films

How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris to host Oscars

How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris to host Oscars

Neil Patrick Harris, the star of the hit TV show How I Met Your Mother, is going for an awards-show trifecta, set to host the 2015 Oscars after four hosting stints at Broadway’s Tony Awards and two at TV’s Primetime Emmy Awards.”To be asked to follow in the footsteps of Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres, and everyone else who had the great fortune of hosting is a bucket list dream come true,” Harris said in a statement Wednesday released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.The 41-year-old entertainer announced his Oscar gig online Wednesday. He posted a video on Twitter of him on the phone saying, “I’m in,” then showing a close-up of his bucket list and circling “Host the Oscars.”Academy Awards co-producer Neil Meron confirmed the casting on Twitter. He and co-producer Craig Zadan said they’ve known Harris “his entire adult life.””We have watched him explode as a great performer in feature films, television and stage,” the producing pair said in the academy statement. “To work with him on the Oscars is the perfect storm, all of his resources and talent coming together on a global stage.”Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs called Harris “the consummate entertainer.”The Tony Awards telecast won Emmys all four years that Harris hosted and helped produce the program.It’s been a busy week for the multi-hyphenate star, who released his book, Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, on Tuesday. He also appears in the nation’s top movie, Gone Girl.He wrapped his hit series How I Met Your Mother earlier this year and won a Tony Award for his starring role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.The 87th Academy Awards are set for Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

‘Ultra Rich Asian Girls’ in Vancouver trailer released on YouTube

‘Ultra Rich Asian Girls’ in Vancouver trailer released on YouTube

Move over the Real Housewives of Vancouver, the city’s Ultra Rich Asian Girls are about to hit town.The latest Vancouver reality TV concept follows Flo.z, Chelsea, Coco Paris and Joy as they worry about how to stay beautifully coiffed while shopping ’til they drop.”I think women today are very independent and they have a lot of opportunities,” Flo.z says in the trailer released Wednesday.”And we look amazing while doing it,” says Joy.The series is described by production company HBIC TV as following the daughters of affluent, Mandarin- speaking Chinese Canadians living in Vancouver.”They are young independent women starting their life and careers with the newest Hermes Birken bags and YSL shoes while vying for the status of #HBIC ‘Hot Bitch in Charge’.”

Dragons’ Den launches ninth season on CBC-TV

Dragons’ Den launches ninth season on CBC-TV

Dragon’s Den, Canada’s top-rated entertainment show, is exploding back onto television tonight for its hotly-anticipated ninth season.The season kicks off at 8 p.m. (8:30NT) on CBC-TV with two feisty new dragons in the den of multimillionaire investors.Catch sneak peeks of the new Dragon’s Den season
Celebrated chef and restaurant magnate, Vikram Vij, and the fiery Porsche-driving rock star of Canadian finance, Michael Wekerle, will do battle with long-time dragons Arlene Dickinson, Jim Treliving and David Chilton​ for the best business ideas in the country, while Canada’s aspiring entrepreneurs vie for the their investment capital with their products and ideas.Dragons’ Den banker Michael Wekerle buys BlackBerry real estate
Michael Wekerle’s Porsche 918 Spyder burns at Caledon gas station
Restaurant magnate Vikram Vij and the reigning rock star of Canadian finance, Michael Wekerle join the Dragons’ Den for the show’s ninth season.Dickinson, the renowned entrepreneur, author, and the den’s only female venture capitalist, joined Dragons’ Den in season two.At an exclusive launch event today in Toronto, Dickinson described the very different energies that Wekerle and Vij bring to the show.”Michael has a craziness that is actually pretty impressive,” said Dickinson, smiling.VIDEO | Michael Wekerle on stepping into the Dragons’ Den
VIDEO | Tour Michael Wekerle’s sensational Toronto home
“He’s off in some land that we don`t know, and then he just nails it, he comes back to reality and he’s got great ideas, he’s investing a lot of money [and he's an] incredibly talented broker.”When it comes to Vij, who built a food empire from his Indian restaurant in Vancouver, Dickinson​ said she learned a lot from his different way of appraching business. “[Vij] comes from a very different background, from a cultural perspective as well as a business perspective,” said Dickinson.”He brings a new flavour to the den—all puns intended.”VIDEO | Arlene Dickinson on picking a winning pitch
When it comes to picking a winning pitch, Dickinson says she’s noticed a common thread among successful entrepreneurs.”There’s this kind of magic recipe: knowing your market, being true to who you are, working really hard and having great ambition.”See ambition in action tonight in the Dragons’ Den season premiere. If you miss an episode, you can watch full episodes online.

HBO to offer streaming-only online option in 2015

HBO to offer streaming-only online option in 2015

HBO will offer customers the ability to view content streamed online next year, without also paying to subscribe to the cable channel.At an investor conference in New York, Richard Plepler, the CEO of HBO’s parent company Time Warner, says the company plans to unveil the service to American customers starting next year.”That is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped,” Plepler said. “It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO.”One-third of English Canadians access U.S. Netflix: study
How Netflix could revolutionize the movie business
Change broadcast rules and we’ll go online, U.S. networks tell CRTC
One barrier that will remain, however, is the border to the north: HBO confirmed to CBC News on Wednesday that the service will not be available in Canada when it launches in the U.S. in January.Currently, HBO offers HBO Go streaming as an add-on for its cable customers. But the move targets the 80 million American households that don’t currently subscribe to cable television but might like access to HBO’s programming.Research firm Forrester estimates that about 40 per cent of American adults with an internet connection stream online video from sites like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon to their televisions.Game-changer for TV: analystHBO has been the home of some of the most popular shows on cable television, including The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, Game of Thrones and True Detective, and its content would presumably be among the most sought after for any streaming service, so the move could be a game-changer for the TV industry, Forrester analyst James McQuivey said.”HBO and ESPN are the two main reasons why people have cable and satellite TV,” he said. “The whole industry has eyed them for years, nervous that one day they would decide to do exactly what they said they’ll do in 2015. We don’t know until we see pricing and packaging how rapidly this will force a change in the way pay TV operators work, but it will definitely force a change.”One early victim of the move appears to be Netflix, the giant of the online streaming space, as the company’s shares lost almost four per cent on the Nasdaq on Wednesday — although it was a bad day for stocks in general.

Chad Kroeger calls Nickelback haters ‘hilarious’

Chad Kroeger calls Nickelback haters ‘hilarious’

Chad Kroeger is laughing in the face of Nickelback haters, one week after a British man, Craig Mandell, launched a crowdfunding campaign to have the Canadian rock band banned from performing in London.Man launches crowdfunding campaign to keep Nickelback out of his city
In a recent interview on The Pulse Of Radio in the U.K. (via Metal Hammer), the band’s frontman said he welcomed the strife.”I love it,” said Kroeger. “More controversy that surrounds either myself, my personal life, the band, whatever — I think it’s hilarious.”Nickelback has been a lightning rod for parodies, mean-spirited jokes and music reviews since the Alberta band made its debut in 1995.For example:Instead of taking the barrage personally, however, Kroeger credited the band’s detractors for keeping the band alive.”All these critics, they’re just tireless. They keep ragging on the band. If they had stopped writing all this stuff about us, there would be no controversy left in the band and we probably would have died out years ago. They don’t know that they’re still responsible for us being around today.”As for Mandell’s campaign, it aims to raise $1,000 to ensure that the band doesn’t schedule any gigs in London “nor even phone here.”All proceeds will go to charity or “therapy for those who’ve been affected by the band,” the website reads.As of this writing, 59 backers have donated $289 with a Nov. 3 deadline looming.That’s the same date Nickelback will release its eighth album, No Fixed Address.

Kesha claims sex assault in lawsuit against music producer Dr. Luke

Kesha claims sex assault in lawsuit against music producer Dr. Luke

International pop star Kesha, whose real name is Kesha Rose Sebert, is claiming sexual, physical and verbal abuse in a bombshell lawsuit against her longtime producer, Lukasz (Dr. Luke) Gottwald.The 27-year-old American singer and songwriter, whose hits include Tik Tok, We R Who We R and Die Young, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.The court filing, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, claims Dr. Luke began abusing Kesha after he discovered her in Nashville, Tenn., 10 years ago, convincing the 18-year-old to “drop out of school” and move to Los Angeles to “pursue a glamorous career in the music industry.”Once she was living in L.A., the lawsuit alleges, Dr. Luke forced Kesha to take drugs and alcohol in order to take advantage of her sexually.It also claims he repeatedly disparaged her appearance “in order to make her feel completely worthless and maintain complete control over her life.”Kesha, who recently sought treatment for an eating disorder, is seeking to void her contracts with Dr. Luke so she may seek agreements with other recording and publishing companies.Dr. Luke claims defamationProducer Lukasz (Dr Luke) Gottwald has worked with famous artists such as Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)Dr. Luke, who is known for his work with stars including Britney Spears and Katy Perry, has filed his own lawsuit against Kesha, citing defamation and breach of contract.Dr. Luke named 2009 songwriter of year
He claims the singer’s allegations stem from a contract dispute.”As part of the effort to get out of the Gottwald Recording Agreement, Kesha and [her mother] Pebe have also orchestrated a campaign of publishing false and shocking accusations against Gottwald to extort Plaintiffs into letting Kesha out of the Gottwald Recording Agreement,” states his complaint, as obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.Kesha’s lawyer Mark Garagos, responded to Dr. Luke’s lawsuit in the an interview with the Reporter, calling it “a despicable thing.””It reminds me of Ray Rice threatening to sue his wife for ruining his career,” he said, referring to the NFL player suspended after a video showing him hitting his wife surfaced. “[Dr. Luke] thinks that because he has got more money than he knows what to do, he can do whatever he wants. Our complaint is accurate and supported by evidence and witnesses.”Neither party’s allegations has been proven in court.

Toronto-born feminist critic cancels speech after email shooting threat

Toronto-born feminist critic cancels speech after email shooting threat

A Toronto-born and educated media critic and feminist blogger has cancelled a speech at Utah State University after learning the school would allow concealed firearms despite an anonymous threat against her.Anita Sarkeesian was scheduled to give a presentation on the portrayal of women in video games on Wednesday evening. She made the decision to cancel Tuesday night.University staff members had received an email threat on Monday night from an unknown person who vowed to carry out a mass shooting if the event was held. University spokesman Tim Vitale says the FBI told school officials the threat is consistent with ones Sarkeesian receives when she gives speeches elsewhere.The university said in a statement it consulted with federal and state law enforcement and had determined it was safe to go ahead with the presentation.But Sarkeesian pulled out after learning from university officials that concealed weapons would be permitted, as long as attendees have a valid concealed firearm permit in accordance with Utah law.The Standard-Examiner in Ogden, Utah reported that the threat promised a ‘Montreal Massacre style attack’ if the talk went on as scheduled.Sarkeesian, with a master’s degree in social and political thought from York University, has authored a blog since 2009 called Feminist Frequency.A popular and polarizing theme on her blog is a video series called “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.”The Kickstarter campaign for the series in 2012 saw the Canadian-American subjected to online threats and abuse, including a “Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian” game created by a Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., man.In August of this year, Sarkeesian said on Twitter that a response to a recent post had forced her to temporarily leave the house she shares with her boyfriend.On mobile? Read Anita Sarkeesian’s tweets about the cancelled speech here and here.

Australian author Richard Flanagan wins prestigious Man Booker prize

Australian author Richard Flanagan wins prestigious Man Booker prize

Australian author Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, set during the building of the Thailand-Burma “Death Railway” in World War Two, won Britain’s prestigious 50,000-pound ($79,530 US) Man Booker literature prize on Tuesday.Flanagan’s sixth novel beat out what jury chairman Anthony Grayling said was a strong short list of six books that for the first time, under a rule change, included works by two Americans — giving rise to fears beforehand that the British prize might come to be dominated by American writers.Grayling said those fears should now be put to rest and went on to say, of the winner, that it was rare to run across a book that “hits you so hard in the stomach, like this, that you can’t pick up the next one in the pile for a couple of days”.Follow the latest news in the world of literature at CBC Books
“It’s an absolutely superb novel, really outstanding, it’s a great work of literature,” Grayling said in a briefing before the award was made public.Flanagan, 53, is ranked among Australia’s finest novelists and also worked as a writer with director Baz Luhrmann on the 2008 film Australia.His father, who was a survivor of the Burma Death Railway, died at age 98, the day Flanagan finished The Narrow Road to the Deep North.Choice not unanimousGrayling, a philosopher, said Flanagan was chosen by consensus of the six-person judging panel, but a spokeswoman for the public relations firm representing the prize clarified that Grayling had at one point used his tie-breaker vote “to move the discussion forward” — indicating the choice was not unanimous.The other books on the short list were We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler (American), To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (American), J by Howard Jacobson (British), The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee (British} and How to be Both by Ali Smith (British).In The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Flanagan takes up the story of Allied prisoners of war used as forced labour by the Japanese to build the notorious railway line. His protagonist is Dorrigo Evans, a doctor and a soldier in the Australian army who is taken prisoner on Java, presumably in 1942.In the despair of a Japanese POW camp, Evans is haunted by his love affair with his young uncle’s wife two years earlier. While struggling to save the men under his command from cholera and beatings, he receives a letter that changes his life forever.Named after a famous Japanese book by the haiku poet Basho, Grayling said the novel succeeds in showing there are “extra dimensions” to the relationships between the POWs and their guards.”It’s not really a war novel, it’s not about people shooting and bombs going off, and so on, it’s much more about the people and their relationships,” he said.At a gala dinner, a trophy was presented to Flanagan by Prince Charles’s wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, while the cheque for the prize money was presented by Emmanuel Roman, chief executive of Man Group.

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