Archive for August, 2017

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Alf Clausen was previously the music director for Moonlighting

Emmy award winning composer Alf Clausen who has written music for The Simpsons for 27 years has been fired.

Clausen told Variety that he received a call from Simpsons producer Richard Sakai, who said the company was seeking “a different kind of music”.

He confirmed the news on Twitter and thanked fans for their support.

There is speculation that it is the result of cost-cutting on the long running animation. Clausen used a 35-piece orchestra every week.

Speaking in 2015, he said he was very strict with the budget because he appreciated how much using a large orchestra each week cost, but said the bosses at The Simpsons did not hassle him over it.

Clausen won an Emmy award for his 1997 song We Put The Spring In Springfield from the episode Bart After Dark.

He also won an Emmy for the 1998 song You’re Checkin’ In from the episode The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson.

He was nominated a further 18 times at the Emmys and has also won three Annie awards.

Clausen produced The Simpsons albums and collaborated with many of the show’s musical guest stars, including U2.

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Family Guy and American Dad creator Seth McFarlane tweeted it was “sad news”.

“He reinvented the sound of prime-time animation. I hope The Simpsons keeps the orchestra. Big part of a great show.”

Writer Kaleb Horton said: “Alf Clausen is as important to that show as some cast members, so the decision, like the daily decision to let the show live, is appalling.”

Composer Austin Wintory praised Clausen as “one of THE most respected composers in Los Angeles, and one of the few “old souls” who can handle super traditional writing,” and called his firing “the end of a true dynasty”.

Film reviewer Stefan Ellison described it as “shocking news.”

“They mention cost-cutting. Makes me wonder if those yellow Springfieldians are winding down.”

Last year The Simpsons was renewed for season 29 and 30 making it the longest-running scripted TV show of all time in the US.

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Lynne Ramsay and Dee Rees will have their films showcased at LFF

Female directors account for a quarter of the films that will be shown at this year’s London Film Festival.

A total of 242 feature films will be shown during the 12-day event, with 60 of those coming from women film-makers.

“Strong women is obviously still a key focus for us,” said Festival Director Clare Stewart.

The announcement comes a day after the start of the Venice Film Festival, which has been criticised for a lack of work from women in the film industry.

Movies being showcased in London that come from female film-makers include the Billie Jean King drama Battle of the Sexes, which has been co-directed by Valerie Faris and stars Oscar winner Emma Stone as the tennis star.

Other films being shown include thriller You Were Never Really Here, which has been written and directed by Lynne Ramsay, and writer/director Sally Potter’s political satire The Party.

Films with compelling female characters also feature strongly in this year’s event.

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Annette Benning in Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool and Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes

The festival will open on 4 October with Andy Serkis’s directorial debut Breathe.

It tells the true story of Robin Cavendish, played by Andrew Garfield, a man who refused to accept spending the rest of his life in a hospital bed after being paralysed by polio.

Other film highlights include the social satire Downsizing, starring Matt Damon as a man who agrees to be shrunk in order to live in a Government luxury resort, and Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool which stars Annette Bening as fading film star Gloria Grahame.

Mudbound, directed by Dee Rees, which explores racial division in America’s Deep South, will also be shown.

The festival will close with the comic drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri starring Oscar winner Frances McDormand.

There will be also be talks from Ian McEwan whose adaptation of his book On Chesil Beach will be screened during the festival. And from David Fincher who will discuss Mindhunter his latest TV series for streaming service Netflix.

The London Film Festival runs from 4 -15 October.

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Still from the 1990 film Lord of the FliesImage copyright

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The 1990 film of Lord of the Flies starred Balthazar Getty

Plans to film an all-female version of Lord of the Flies has come under fire on social media.

Many have pointed out they think the original William Golding book would not work with girls.

The story sees a group of boys stranded on a desert island but their attempt to set up a society descends into savagery.

Deadline reports that Scott McGehee and David Siegel will write and direct the film.

The classic book was first made into a critically acclaimed film in 1963 by Peter Brook, and again in 1990 starring Balthazar Getty.

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Peter Brook’s 1963 film feature non-professional actors

Writer Roxanne Gay wrote on Twitter: “An all-women remake of Lord of the Flies makes no sense because… the plot of that book wouldn’t happen with all women.”

She retweeted an interview with William Golding explaining why he wrote the book about boys because he wanted to write about a “scaled down version of society” and that would not work with all-female characters.

Writer Rachel Syme pointed out “the thing about Lord of the Flies is that it’s about systemic male violence and how it replicates.”

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William Golding was also a school teacher as well as writer

Archivist Heather Roberts said: “If Lord of the Flies female film happens and plot is unchanged, they’ve missed point of the book. If changed, they’ve filmed a different book.”

And Author Sabrina Zbasnik criticised the film being written and directed by two men.

“Lord of the Flies, But With Women, Written by Men. That’s my exact level of hell. Thanks for that, media.”

Writer James Hurley also criticised the announcement, saying: “Imagine having such little interest in seeking out original stories about girlhood by women that you remake Lord of the Flies with girls.”

‘Nobody dies’

Writer Charles Climer also thought Hollywood should think again: “Lord of the Flies is about toxic masculinity. Hollywood should just have two women write a major film ABOUT TOXIC MASCULINITY.”

Many have come up with their idea of what the female version would be like.

“Lord of the Flies starring only girls: Girls get marooned on an island. Band together to find food, shelter, rescue. Nobody dies. The end.” says writer Clara Mae.

Author and journalist Jessica Valenti joked: “The all-female Lord of the Flies will just be a group of young women apologising to each other over and over till everyone is dead.”

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Actress Maxine Peake

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Three Girls actress Maxine Peake wrote The Last Testament of Lillian Bilocca

A new play written by actress Maxine Peake is to honour a woman who battled to improve safety on North Sea trawlers.

Hull’s Lillian Bilocca, known as Big Lil, led a campaign after three ships sank in 1968 with the loss of 58 lives.

The Hull Truck Theatre show in November is part of the final season of events announced for City of Culture.

The influential art competition Turner Prize is also to be staged at Ferens Art Gallery.

Live updates and more stories from East Yorkshire

On Wednesday it was announced that the first eight months of the year-long City of Culture tenure had attracted more than one million visits to Hull’s art gallery and museums – beating the target by four months.

Hull’s heritage will be centre stage when Peake tells the story of Ms Bilocca who, along with Christine Jensen, Mary Denness and Yvonne Blenkinsop, forced new safety measures for the fishing fleet after lobbying the government. The Last Testament of Lillian Bilocca is to run at the Guildhall.

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Ms Bilocca led a delegation to Parliament and eventually met Prime Minister Harold Wilson. She died in 1988

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The Last Testament of Lillian Bilocca, is due to be performed at the Guildhall in November

The Three Girls actress previously wrote an acclaimed play about another formidable woman. Yorkshire’s Beryl Burton won seven cycling world titles and set records on her bike that are unbeaten to this day.

Peake has also written about four miners’ wives who attempted to save pits from closure by occupying a mine.

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Hull-born Reece Shearsmith is among the high-profile names appearing in the final season of City of Culture events

Meanwhile, hometown actor Reece Shearsmith, co-creator of the BBC comedy series The League of Gentlemen, will be among the guest speakers at a new weekend-long festival about culture and creativity in December at the University of Hull.

Musical duo Everything But The Girl – Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt, who met at the University of Hull – are also to appear at a several literature festivals along with another Hull hero Mick Woodmansey the drummer with David Bowie’s band Spiders from Mars.

Thorn and Watt’s band’s name was inspired by the title of a shop on Beverley Road, Hull.

Hull Truck Theatre’s other new commissions include playwright Tanika Gupta’s adaptation of Marina Lewycka’s novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, which is due to premiere in late September.

The final programme of events is celebrated under the theme of Tell the World and runs from October to the end of the year.

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Chloe Bennet: “Changing my last name doesn’t change the fact that my BLOOD is half Chinese”

Chloe Bennet, who stars in TV series Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, has said she had to change her name from Chloe Wang in order to make it in Hollywood.

The actress praised Ed Skrein for recently pulling out of Hellboy.

His casting had been criticised for “whitewashing” the original character, who is of Asian heritage.

She told an Instagram follower who queried her name change: “Hollywood is racist and wouldn’t cast me with a last name that made them uncomfortable.”

“Changing my last name doesn’t change the fact that my BLOOD is half Chinese, that I lived in China, speak Mandarin or that I was culturally raised both American and Chinese… It means I had to pay my rent.”

She added: “I’m doing everything I can, with the platform I have, to make sure no one has to change their name again, just so they can get work.”

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Chloe, who plays a secret agent, has previously explained how her name change led to a more successful career almost immediately.

“Oh, the first audition I went on after I changed my name, I got booked,” she told The Daily Beast last year. “So that’s a pretty clear little snippet of how Hollywood works.”

The actress has since created RUN (Represent Us Now) a group which campaigns for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to be better represented in Hollywood.

She praised Skrein’s decision earlier this week, saying: “DAMN, that’s a man. Thank you @edskrein for standing up against Hollywood’s continuous insensitivity and flippant behaviour towards the Asian American community.

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Ed Skrein’s breakthrough role was as villain Ajax in Deadpool

“There is no way this decision came lightly on your part, so thank you for your bravery and genuinely impactful step forward. I hope this inspires other actors/film makers to do the same.

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Film fans have inundated Ed Skrein with love after the British actor turned down the role of Major Ben Daimio in the new Hellboy film because the character is of mixed Asian heritage (and he isn’t).

Skrein’s decision comes after years of controversy about Hollywood whitewashing. The rising star has been praised for his stance, especially since he’s at a crucial point in his career, and won lots of new admirers.

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Dementia has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales

BBC Radio 3 is to broadcast a one-off, six-hour programme featuring the voices of people living with dementia.

The all-night programme, on 15 October, will blend their observations with music in an uninterrupted sequence.

“Dementia’s the biggest killer in England and Wales. We wanted to give these people a voice,” said Jessica Isaacs, head of Radio 3 production.

“Hearing their voices, without explanation, is a very powerful thing to do.”

The broadcast will form part of a season exploring the links between music and memory.

Produced in conjunction with the Wellcome Collection, the season will also present the results of new research into dementia.

In addition, it will feature pianist Igor Levit attempting to perform Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations from memory.

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Sarah Walker will leave the Essential Classics show to present her own Sunday programme

Radio 3 announced the programmes as it unveiled its autumn line-up, which sees several changes to the station’s schedule.

Flagship arts programme In Tune will start half an hour later, at 17:00, creating extra space for afternoon concerts and opera in particular.

In Tune will be immediately followed by a new half-hour segment called In Tune Mixtape, featuring 30 continuous minutes of music without interruption from presenters.

The mixtapes will be available to download – “so if you want half an hour of music to take around with you in your pocket, on your phone, it will be available,” said Radio 3 controller Alan Davey.

The station will continue to experiment with “slow radio” – long, laid-back broadcasts that aim to transport listeners out of their daily lives.

As well as the regular Sounds of the Earth programme, which features everything from birdsong to recordings of the Indonesian rainforest, the station has invited travel writer Horatio Clare to recreate an epic trek undertaken by Bach in 1705.

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Bach’s music will be the centrepiece of Radio 3′s Christmas schedule

The composer braved the German winter to walk 500 miles from Arnstadt to Lubeck and back, simply to hear organist Dietrich Buxtehude play.

“Bach must have regarded his expedition as an adventure,” explains Clare.

The trek, he says, saw the composer “following his own star across a swathe of northern Germany, over farmland, through mountains and forests, over the Elbe and all the way to Lubeck.”

Clare’s programme will feature the sounds of the natural landscape and the trudging of boots, interspersed with snatches of Bach’s music and Clare’s reflections on the journey.

Another “slow radio” show and podcast will follow the lives of monks at the Downside Monastery in Somerset.

Presenter changes

New shows include Choir and Organ – featuring, unsurprisingly, music for the choir and organ – presented by Sara Mohr-Pietsch.

And Sarah Walker will leave the weekday Essential Classics show to present her own Sunday morning programme.

“What I really want to do is create a listen that is relaxing without being soporific,” said Walker, a doctor of music and pianist.

“Relaxing and congenial, but stimulating enough to make people feel diverted and entertained.”

Suzy Klein will take over Walker’s duties on Essential Classics. One presenter who isn’t going anywhere though is Sean Rafferty, who celebrates 20 years as host of In Tune in September.

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Jacqueline du Pre and Dizzie Gillespie are among the artists commemorated

The autumn season will also mark the centenaries of the births of jazz greats Dizzie Gillespie, Buddy Rich and Thelonius Monk.

Sir Simon Rattle’s inaugural season as music director of the London Symphony Orchestra, meanwhile, will be marked by 10 days of broadcasts from the Barbican Centre.

There will be a dramatisation of Anthony Burgess’s cult novel A Clockwork Orange, featuring rarely-heard music written by the author himself, plus a concert marking the 30th anniversary of the death of cellist Jacqueline du Pre.

“I want Radio 3 to be an antidote to today’s often frenzied world,” said Davey as he launched the season at BBC Broadcasting House.

“We are a cultural powerhouse and a committed contributor to today’s classical music and arts landscape.”

Walker, meanwhile, extolled the virtues of slow radio, having immersed herself in a previous broadcast featuring a walk from Capel-y-ffin to Hay-on-Wye.

“By chance, I happened to have the day off that day and I was tired [because] I’d been very busy,” she said.

“So I decided to treat myself to a day in bed listening to the radio. And the nice thing about the radio is it gave me permission to stay in bed.

“I was actually joining in with something. I wasn’t retreating from the world. I was still connected through the radio.”

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Matt Damon has two films in competition in Venice

The 2018 Oscars may be six months away, but the starting gun has been fired on the film awards race with the opening of this year’s Venice Film Festival.

Venice is the first launch pad for Oscar-worthy films – La La Land, Arrival, Spotlight, Birdman and Gravity all had their world premieres there.

This year’s festival is opening with the premiere of Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, starring Matt Damon.

Variety predicted that it should go on to be “a leading awards contender”.

The film, in which Damon plays a man who literally gets shrunk, has been met with gushing reviews from most critics in the Italian city.

The “playful, spectacular, mischievous, and audacious” film is likely to be “a major draw at the box office”, wrote Variety’s Owen Gleiberman.

He described it as “a ticklish and resonant crowd-pleaser for grown-ups” and “a kind of live-action Pixar movie on acid”.

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The Venice Film Festival jury faced the cameras on Wednesday

Characters in the film go through a revolutionary scientific technique to get more living space, make their money go further and reduce their environmental footprints.

The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin judged it to be “exhilaratingly odd”, while The Guardian’s Xan Brooks declared it a “miniature masterpiece” deserving five stars.

“No sooner I had it pegged as a jaunty black comedy than it starts folding in elements of dystopian sci-fi, or compassionate human drama,” he wrote.

“A less polished director might have become lost and confused along the film’s lengthy running-time. But Payne’s handling is perfect.

“He never puts a foot wrong, rustling up a picture that is as bright as a button and as sharp as a tack.”

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Is Downsizing director Alexander Payne’s best film to date?

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy said Payne had never made a bad film – his others include Sideways and The Descendants – adding that the “moving and beautiful” Downsizing is arguably his best yet.

“Captivating, funny and possessed of a surprise-filled zig-zag structure that makes it impossible to anticipate where it’s headed, this is a deeply humane film that… feels both entirely of its moment and timeless,” he wrote.

“It was a risky roll of the dice, but one that hits the creative jackpot.”

Analysis by Lizo Mzimba, BBC entertainment correspondent

The start of the Venice Film Festival marks the beginning of the film awards season – a season that will finish with the 2018 Oscar ceremony next March.

For film studios and independents, the next few weeks are crucial for launching movies for which they have high awards hopes. Venice kicks things off, followed by the Telluride Film Festival on Thursday and the Toronto International Film Festival next week.

Telluride has given audiences their first chance to see such best picture winners as Moonlight and The King’s Speech, while winners of the People’s Choice Award at Toronto (voted for by audiences) have included Oscar winners Slumdog Millionaire and 12 Years a Slave.

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The Venice Film Festival takes place at the city’s Palazzo del Cinema

In recent years, only one best picture Oscar winner – 2011′s The Artist – has not had its world premiere at one of these three festivals. And it’s far from unusual for some films to play at two, or even all three events.

So what are the films to look out for after Venice?

At Toronto, there’s The Current War starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon as rival electricity pioneers Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse; and Stronger, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a man badly injured in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Telluride doesn’t say which films it will be showing in advance. But titles that look set to be among this year’s highlights include Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone as Billie Jean King, and Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill.

Other hotly anticipated films that will be screened in Venice include:

  • Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem
  • Suburbicon, another Matt Damon film, directed by George Clooney
  • The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro, with Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer
  • Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, starring Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson
  • First Reformed from Paul Schrader, featuring Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfreid
  • Victoria and Abdul, directed by Stephen Frears and starring Dame Judi Dench
  • Loving Pablo, with Javier Bardem (again) as drug lord Pablo Escobar
  • Human Flow, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s documentary about the refugee crisis

Unfortunately, ordinary film fans won’t get to see most of these films for several months.

Venice is taking some heat this year for having only one film directed by a woman among the 21 up for its main competition prizes.

“We have a long way to go in terms of parity,” admitted jury president Annette Bening at a press conference on Wednesday. “But I think the direction we are going is positive.”

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Terry Pratchett Twitter

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The hard drive ‘survived better than expected’ after being run over by the steamroller

A hard drive containing unfinished works by Terry Pratchett has been crushed by a steamroller, as per instructions left by the fantasy novelist.

It is thought up to 10 incomplete novels were flattened at the Great Dorset Steam Fair.

The six-and-a-half tonne Lord Jericho was used to roll over the hard drive several times before a concrete crusher finished off the remains.

Pratchett died aged 66 in March 2015.

The creator of the Discworld series had been battling Alzheimer’s disease.

Before vanquishing the hard drive, Rob Wilkins, the writer’s long-serving assistant, tweeted that he was “about to fulfil my obligation to Terry”.


books written

  • 70 million sales

  • 37 languages

  • 44 years of writing

Richard Henry, curator of Salisbury Museum, said: “The steamroller totally annihilated the stone blocks underneath but the hard drive survived better than expected so we put it in a stone crusher afterwards which I think probably finally did it in”.

He said Pratchett did not want his unpublished works to be completed by someone else and released.

He added: “It’s something you’ve got to follow, and it’s really nice that they have followed his requests so specifically.

“It’s surprisingly difficult to find somebody to run over a hard drive with a steamroller.

“I think a few people thought we were kidding when I first started putting out feelers to see if it was possible or not.”

The pieces of the hard drive will go on display in the Terry Pratchett: His World Exhibition at the museum on 16 September.

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