Thursday, January 22, 2009

Iron Maiden documentary set for spring release

Iron Maiden documentary set for spring release

Wednesday, Jan 21, 2009 2:25AM UTC

rock, rock band, rock legend, rock star

LONDON (Hollywood Reporter) - "Iron Maiden: Flight 666," the first feature documentary on the British heavy metal band, will receive a spring release on home turf via European digital cinema provider Arts Alliance Media.

The documentary details the story of the first leg of the band's 2008 tour and is billed as an "intimate and revealing portrait" of the rockers.

In 45 days the band played in Asia, Australia and North, Central and South America, with lead singer Bruce Dickinson piloting a customized jet.

AAM will distribute the documentary to selected U.K. cinemas beginning April 21 in association with the band itself, EMI Records and Universal in the U.S.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

Monday, January 12, 2009

Army recruiting at the mall with video games

By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The U.S. Army, struggling to ensure it has enough manpower as it fights wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is wooing young Americans with video games, Google maps and simulated attacks on enemy positions from an Apache helicopter.

Departing from the recruiting environment of metal tables and uniformed soldiers in a drab military building, the Army has invested $12 million in a facility that looks like a cross between a hotel lobby and a video arcade.

The U.S. Army Experience Center at the Franklin Mills shopping mall in northeast Philadelphia has 60 personal computers loaded with military video games, 19 Xbox 360 video game controllers and a series of interactive screens describing military bases and career options in great detail.

Potential recruits can hang out on couches and listen to rock music that fills the space.

The center is the first of its kind and opened in August as part of a two-year experiment. So far, it has signed up 33 full-time soldiers and five reservists -- roughly matching the performance of five traditional recruiting centers it replaced.

The U.S. military says it has been meeting or exceeding its recruiting and retention goals, with 185,000 men and women entering active-duty military service in the fiscal year that ended on September 30 -- the highest number since 2003.

Defense officials say the recession and rising unemployment were likely to boost recruiting.

The Philadelphia center lures recruits with a separate room for prospective soldiers to "fire" from a real Humvee on enemy encampments projected on a 15-foot-high (4.5-meter-high) battleground scenario that also has deafening sound effects.

In another room, those inclined to attack from above can join helicopter raids in which enemy soldiers emerge from hide-outs to be felled by automatic gunfire rattling from a simulator modeled on an Apache or Blackhawk helicopter.

The Army is not simply looking for new recruits, said First Sgt. Randy Jennings, who runs the center. It also aims to dispel misperceptions about Army life.

"We want them to know that being in the Army isn't just about carrying weapons and busting down doors," said Jennings, who wears slacks and a polo shirt rather than a uniform. About 80 percent of soldiers are not involved in direct combat roles, he said.


Jesse Hamilton, a former Army staff sergeant who served in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, said the use of video games glamorized war and misled potential recruits, calling it "very deceiving and very far from realistic."

"You can't simulate the loss when you see people getting killed," said Hamilton, who left the Army after his Iraq tour and is now a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

"It's not very likely you are going to get into a firefight," he said. "The only way to simulate the heat is holding a blow dryer to your face."

The center is an experiment in boosting urban recruitment, which has traditionally lagged behind that of rural areas.

Eddie Abuali, 20, who was waiting to take an Army aptitude test, said he felt more comfortable in the center than he would in a traditional recruiting office. "It's a more relaxed environment," said Abuali, who plans to join the Army when he graduates from college. "You don't feel like you are being pressured."

Project manager Maj. Larry Dillard said recruitment was more difficult about two years ago when the United States was struggling in Iraq and jobs at home were easier to get.

"Now the news coming out of Iraq is better and we are in an economic downturn. It will be easier," he said.

(Editing by Michelle Nichols and Daniel Trotta)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Daniel Craig takes break from Bond

By Douglas MacLaurin

LONDON (Reuters) - British actor Daniel Craig has taken a break from playing James Bond with World War Two drama "Defiance," based on the true story of Jewish brothers who fled the Nazis and formed a partisan group.

Craig has said he wants to avoid being typecast as an action hero after being chosen for the high-profile role of James Bond, and to use his new-found fame to get smaller projects off the ground.

Before his first outing as the superspy in "Casino Royale" in 2006, the 40-year-old was seen as a respected character actor for appearances in TV drama "Our Friends of the North" and gangster movie "Layer Cake."

His latest on-screen outing is as Tuvia, the eldest of the real-life Bielski brothers who hid from the Nazis in a Belarussian forest where they ran a partisan resistance movement that protected hundreds of Jews from Nazi persecution.

"One of the reasons I think the story is important is because this is very recent history and a lot of the way we look at the world and live in the world is shaped because of that history," Craig told Reuters at the London premiere of the movie late on Tuesday.

"Stories like this need to be told because it's not that long ago," added the star, who attracted hundreds of fans to Leicester Square despite freezing temperatures.

U.S. actor Liev Schreiber, who plays another of the Bielski brothers, said the film, and the true story behind it, showed how protecting one another was a basic human instinct.

"I think, at the heart of this story, is the notion that we are, as a race, instinctively ... protective of each other and more so than ever it's important to remember that -- that we are a communal species."

Director Edward Zwick, who also made "The Last Samurai" and "Blood Diamond," said audiences may draw parallels between events of the 1940s and current conflicts.

"I think to see refugees displaced, going from one place to the other, is one of the salient images of our time," he said.

"To try and think about resistance and the nature of resistance by a people against an overwhelming force is also quite contemporary."

"Defiance" has had a limited release in the United States, where it opens nationally on January 16. It arrives in British cinemas on January 9.

(Writing by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

Beyonce, Tyler Perry dominate NAACP Image nominations

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 10:59PM UTC

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singers Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson, along with the cast of TV comedy "Tyler Perry's House of Payne", were among top nominees for the NAACP Image Awards, the oldest U.S. civil rights organization said on Wednesday.

Television mini-series "A Raisin in the Sun" also received multiple nominations, while "Cadillac Records" and "The Secret Life of Bees" dominated movie entries for the 40th NAACP Image Awards.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also announced that hip-hop music producer and businessman Russell Simmons will receive its prestigious Vanguard award next month for helping to increase understanding of racial and social issues.

Simmons, 51, the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, was cited for using the power of hip-hop culture to inspire American youth. He joins past Vanguard recipients Aretha Franklin, Prince, Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kramer.

Beyonce led the music nominations with five nods including outstanding artist, album, song, and music video for "Single Ladies" and "If I Were a Boy."

Former "American Idol" contestant Hudson, and Keys were close behind in the music category, and along with Beyonce, they picked up more nominations in the film section for roles in dramas "The Secret Life of Bees" and "Cadillac Records."

In television, TBS sitcom "Tyler Perry's House of Payne", towered over the best comedy nominees, with cast members LaVan Davis, Cassi Davis, Lance Gross, Larramie 'Doc' Shaw, and Keshia Knight Pulliam all winning nods in the acting categories.

The ABC miniseries "A Raisin in the Sun", based on the 1950s play about life in a black neighborhood of Chicago, won nominations for outstanding drama and for its five leading actors and actresses.

The NAACP Image Awards in 53 categories spanning music, literature, television and music, will be handed out in Los Angeles on Feb 12.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

Aerosmith gets back to work after '08 break

By Jonathan Cohen

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Aerosmith is ready to return to work on its next studio album, according to drummer Joey Kramer.

"Today is the first day (bassist) Tom (Hamilton) and I are getting back together," he wrote Monday on the group's Web site ( "We just rehearsed for two hours and it feels so good! We can't wait to get back into the studio and get back out on the road to do what we do best."

Work has already begun on the band's first album of original material since 2001's "Just Push Play." Aerosmith pressed pause on the project last year while band members recovered from a variety of medical issues, such as singer Steven Tyler's rehab stint and lead guitarist Joe Perry's knee surgery.

"Like a lot of other things in life, you don't get to call the shots on these things, do you?," guitarist Brad Whitford told last fall. "We're just ... getting older."

There's no date for the new album, but it's expected to be out sometime this year via Columbia. Aerosmith also has one live show lined up on February 1 at Estadio Olimpico in Caracas, Venezuela.