marți, 29 martie 2011

Succes 2011: Charles Simonyi, un turist spaţial miliardar

Charles Simonyi is a Hungarian-American computer software executive who, as head of Microsoft's application software group, oversaw the creation of Microsoft's flagship Office suite of applications. He now heads his own company, Intentional Software, with the aim of developing and marketing his concept of intentional programming. In April 2007, aboard Soyuz TMA-10, he became the fifth space tourist and the second Hungarian in space. In March 2009, aboard Soyuz TMA-14, he made a second trip to the International Space Station. His estimated net worth is US$1 billion.
He was hired by Denmark's A/S Regnecentralen in 1966 and moved to the United States in 1968 to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his B.S. in Engineering Mathematics & Statistics in 1972.

Simonyi then went to Stanford University for graduate studies and was hired by Xerox PARC[1] during its most productive period, working alongside luminaries such as Alan Kay, Butler Lampson and Robert Metcalfe on the development of the Xerox Alto, the first personal computer. He and Lampson developed Bravo, the first WYSIWYG document preparation program, which became operational in 1974. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford in 1977 with a dissertation on a software project management technique called "metaprogramming". This approach sought to defeat Brooks' law by requiring all programmers to communicate through the manager rather than directly. Simonyi remained at PARC until 1981.

In 1981, at Metcalfe's suggestion, he applied directly to Bill Gates for a job at Microsoft. At the firm, Simonyi oversaw the development of what became its most profitable products, Word and Excel, as well as Excel's predecessor Multiplan. With Multiplan, Simonyi pursued a strategy called the "revenue bomb", whereby the product ran on a virtual machine that was ported to each platform. The resulting application was highly portable, although Simonyi did not foresee the rapid adoption of MS-DOS that made such efforts less important. Simonyi introduced the techniques of object-oriented programming that he had learned at Xerox to Microsoft. He developed the Hungarian notation convention for naming variables. Originally these standards were part of his doctoral thesis. The Hungarian notation has been widely used inside Microsoft.
Own company

Simonyi remained at Microsoft during its rapid rise in the software industry, becoming one of its highest-ranking developers. He left abruptly in 2002 to co-found, with business partner Gregor Kiczales, a company called Intentional Software. This company markets the intentional programming concepts Simonyi developed at Microsoft Research. In this approach to software, a programmer first builds a toolbox specific to a given problem domain (such as life insurance). Domain experts, aided by the programmer, then describe the program's intended behavior in a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG)-like manner. An automated system uses the program description and the toolbox to generate the final program. Successive changes are only done at the WYSIWYG level.

In 2004, Simonyi received the Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award for the industry-wide impact of his innovative work in information technology.

Simonyi has been an active philanthropist. In 1995 he established an endowed chair, the Simonyi Professorship of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, first held by the now retired Richard Dawkins. He also established a Charles Simonyi Professor for Innovation in Teaching endowed chair at Stanford University. In January 2004, Simonyi created the $50 million Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, through which Simonyi plans to support Seattle-area arts, science, and educational programs. Initial grant recipients include the Seattle Symphony ($10 million), and the Seattle Public Library ($3 million). In 2005, the Fund donated $25 million to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In January, 2008 the Simonyi Fund and Bill Gates pledged $20 million and $10 million respectively to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.
In early 2006, Simonyi expressed interest in becoming a space tourist and signed agreements with the space tourism company, Space Adventures, Ltd., for a ten-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

In August 2006, he passed a pre-qualification medical exam by the Russian Federal Space Agency, called the State Medical Commission (GMK). He started training at Star City in September 2006.

He launched on April 7, 2007 (GMT), on board Soyuz TMA-10. He shared a ride with two Russian cosmonauts to the International Space Station, and returned aboard Soyuz TMA-9, scheduled to depart from the ISS on April 20, 2007.

Upon arrival to the ISS on April 9, 2007 Simonyi said, "It is amazing how it appears from the blackness of the sky. It was very, very dramatic. It was like a big stage set, a fantastic production of some incredible opera or modern play. That's what I was referring to when I said I was blown away."

Simonyi's expected return on April 20, 2007 was delayed by one day due to 'boggy ground'. He returned to Earth on April 21, 2007 along with an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut.

In October 2008, he booked for a second trip to the ISS through Space Adventures on board Soyuz TMA-14. On March 26, 2009 he returned to space aboard Soyuz TMA-14.He returned to Earth on board Soyuz TMA-13. Along with Soyuz Commander Yuri Lonchakov and Michael Fincke he landed in Kazakhstan on April 8, 2009

luni, 28 martie 2011

Succes 2011: Candy Dulfer: The Sax Woman & the Smooth Jazz

Candy Dulfer (born 19 September 1969) is a popular Dutch smooth jazz alto saxophonist. She started to play saxophone at the age of six. She has had her own band, Funky Stuff, since she was fourteen. Her debut album Saxuality (1990)received a Grammy Award nomination. Over the years she released nine studio albums, two live albums, and one compilation album. She has performed and recorded songs with several other musicians, such as her father Hans Dulfer, Prince, Dave Stewart, René Froger, Van Morrison, and Maceo Parker. For the Dutch television series Candy meets... (2007), she interviewed musicians she worked with.

Candy Dulfer played her first solo on stage with her father's band De Perikels ("The Perils"). At the age of eleven, she made her first recordings for the album I Didn't Ask (1981) of De Perikels.[3] In 1982, when she was twelve years old, she played as a member of Rosa King's Ladies Horn section at the North Sea Jazz

Festival. According to Dulfer, King encouraged her to become a band leader herself. In 1984, at the age of fourteen, Dulfer started her own band Funky Stuff. In 1987, the band performed as opening act at two concerts of Madonna's European tour. In 1988, the band's lineup was completely changed. In the following years, Funky Stuff gave sold-out concerts all over the Netherlands.

In 1988, Funky Stuff was booked as the supporting act for three Prince concerts in the Netherlands. Prince canceled the supporting act, but invited Dulfer on stage to play an improvised solo. After this encounter, she starred in the video of the single "Partyman" (1989), where Prince sings:

When I need trombone, my dog is Handy.

But when I want sax, I call Candy.

This appearance led to session work with Eurythmics guitarist and producer Dave Stewart, who gave Dulfer a credit on "Lily Was Here" (the title song of a Dutch movie starring Marion van Thijn), reaching number six in the UK singles chart and number one in the Dutch radio charts in 1990. She also played with Pink Floyd at the band's performance at Knebworth '90 in June 1990.

Dulfer's debut album, Saxuality, was released later in 1990. With her funky alto sax stylings proving popular with fans of contemporary jazz at several recently launched smooth jazz radio stations in the United States, Saxuality was nominated for a Grammy and certified gold for worldwide sales in excess of half a million. "Lily Was Here" also crossed over to the pop charts in America, reaching #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Though Dulfer has had no other pop hits in the U.S., she has had a number of major smooth jazz chart hits, including "For The Love Of You" and "Finsbury Park, Cafe 67".[citation needed]

Dulfer was also the featured saxophonist for Van Morrison's A Night in San Francisco, an album made from live recordings in 1993.

Dulfer collaborated with her father Hans Dulfer on the duet album Dulfer Dulfer (2001).

In 2007, she released her ninth studio album Candy Store. The album reached a #2 position in Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz charts.[8] Of the album Candy Store, the song "L.A. Citylights" reached a #1 position in National Airplay charts in the United States

joi, 24 martie 2011

Autograph from The Handcuff King. 137 years ago, a certain Harry Houdini escaped in this world

Harry Houdini (născut Ehrich Weisz; 24 martie 1874 – 31 octombrie 1926) a fost un magician, actor și producător de film. Iluzionistul Harry Houdini, nascut pe data de 24 martie 1874, la Budapesta, a fost una dintre figurile legendare ale magiei. Numele lui era asociat intotdeauna cu intamplari iesite din comun, eliberari spectaculoase si cascadorii care sfidau moartea. Chiar daca Houdini a murit acum 81 de ani, oamenii isi mai amintesc de el atunci cand sunt intrebati numele unui faimos magician.

Houdini a petrecut ani intregi invatand cum functioneaza mecanismele lacatelor si catuselor, pana a ajuns unul dintre cei mai mari experti din lume in domeniu. Maestru in deschiderea dispozitivelor de securitate de orice tip, avea talentul de a-si prezenta numerele de iluzionism intr-o maniera unica. Aducea carisma si magnetism spectacolelor sale, hipnotizand audienta care ajungea sa creada in miracole.
Magicianul, al carui nume real era Erik Weisz, s-a nascut in Ungaria si era de origine evreu. A plecat in Statele Unite impreuna cu familia la varsta de patru ani, principalele motive ale plecarii raman incerte, dar se banuieste ca antisemitismul a stat la baza acestei decizii. Tatal lui Houdini a acceptat un post de rabin in Appleton, Wisconsin, unde a gasit o comunitate de unguri. Din nefericire insa, era foarte conservator, neputandu-se adapta ideilor liberale americane. De aceea, a fost nevoit sa plece. S-a mutat mai intai in Milwaukee si apoi la New York.

Familia avea tot timpul nevoie de bani, asa ca tanarul Eric a acceptat tot felul de slujbe ciudate pentru a o ajuta. A plecat de acasa la 12 ani sa-si caute norocul, dar dupa nici doi ani s-a intors la New York, unde familia lui inca mai locuia.

La 17 ani a fost captivat de memoriile marelui magician francez Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin si nu este de mirare ca a fost atras in lumea stralucitoare a spoectacolului si magiei, unde a gasit faima si bani. A fost atat de impresionat de viata lui Houdin incat, atunci cand i s-a cerut un nume de scena, pur si simplu a mai adaugat un "i" la numele acestuia, devenind Houdini.
Initial, Houdini se specializase pe trucurile cu carti de joc. La un moment dat, el chiar se autointitulase "Regele Cartilor", insa adevarata faima a castigat-o dupa ce a inceput sa apara pe scena cu numere din ce in ce mai bizare si mai incitante. In 1895, cautand ceva diferit fata de ceilalti artisti, el s-a gandit sa provoace politistii unei sectii, sustinand ca poate scapa de catuse si din celula. In anii 1898-1899, in primul rand datorita acestor evadari spectaculoase, a inceput sa fie cunoscut si apreciat, au aparut angajamente mai bune. Unul dintre numerele cu care a ramas in legenda este cel in care, pe hipodromul din Londra, a reusit sa faca sa "dispara" un elefant impreuna cu dresorul sau. In acea perioada o cunoaste pe Wilhelminia Beatrice Rahner - "Bess", cu care se casatoreste pe data de 22 iunie 1895. Mariajul celor doi a insemnat unirea a doua familii rigide, una catolica si cealalta evreiasca. Dar cei doi au invins prejudecatile. La inceputul anului 1900 plecat in turneu in Europa, alaturi de sotia lui, unde a continuat sa puna la cale trucuri de iluzionism prin care insela moartea. Cu timpul, datorita publicitatii, au venit angajamente din Franta, Olanda, Germania si Rusia. El si Bess au petrecut urmatorii cinci ani bucurandu-se de succesul european. Pe masura ce faima ii crestea, Houdini depasea toate recordurile de audienta in fiecare oras, devenind cel mai bine platit artist pe continent si in insulele britanice. In 1920, dupa decesul mamei sale, Houdini si-a canalizat intreaga energie in incercarea sa de a demasca falsii clarvazatori sau mediumi. Vasta sa experienta in ceea ce priveste numerele de magie i-a permis sa demaste multi escroci care reusisera sa pacaleasca pana atunci oameni de stiinta si cercetatori renumiti. Mai mult decat atat, el a fost un membru al comitetului American Stiintific care oferea un premiu in bani oricarui medium care isi putea demonstra clar abilitatile paranormale.

Pana la moartea sa, comitetul nu daduse nici un premiu. Pe masura ce faima sa de "vanator de fantome" crestea, el chiar incepuse sa se deghizeze si sa participe la sedinte de spiritism, impreuna cu un reporter si cu un ofiter de politie. Probabil ca cel mai faimos medium pe care l-a demascat a fost Mina Crandon, din Boston, care era cunoscuta ca "Margery". Aceste activitati l-au costat pe Houdini prietenia sa cu Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creatorul lui Sherlock Holmes. Doyle credea cu tarie in spiritism, desi Houdini insista asupra ideii ca mediile spiritiste se folosesc de anumite trucuri.

Acesta a fost convins ca Houdini insusi poseda puteri supranaturale, o parere exprimata in cartea sa Granita necunoscutului. Se pare ca Houdini nu a reusit sa-l convinga ca folosea doar elemente de scamatorie, in fata un public insuficient de antrenat ca sa-si dea seama ca era tras pe sfoara.Din aceasta cauza, din prieteni, cei doi au ajuns sa fie adversari in mod public. Halloween - o data magica pentru caderea cortinei in cazul lui Houdini Pe 22 octombrie 1926, in timpul unui spectacol la Princess Theater din Montreal, un student de colegiu, J. Gordon Whitehead, a cerut permisiunea de a testa duritatea muschilor abdominali ai maestrului si l-a lovit. Acesta era un moment obisnuit al spectacolului, asa ca magicianul a ignorat durerile abdominale care l-au cuprins pentru ca nu avusese timp sa contracte muschii inainte de lovitura, continuand reprezentatia. Ajuns la Detroit a doua zi, a fost diagnosticat cu apendicita acuta, dar a insistat sa continue spectacolele.

Ultima aparitie pe scena a lui Houdini a fost la teatrul Garrick din Detroit, Michigan la data de 24 octombrie. Urmatoarea zi, el a fost dus de urgenta la Spitalul Grace din cauza temperaturii ridicat, unde i-a fost extirpat apendicele cangrenat, insa peritonita deja se instalase. Houdini a murit de peritonită, în urma unei rupturi de apendice. Evenimentul care a dus la moarte, se crede a fi o reprezentație la universitatea McGill, unde un student, J. Gordon Whitehead, l-a întrebat pe Houdini dacă poate suporta să fie lovit în abdomen fără a simți nici o durere. Primind răspuns afirmativ, acesta l-a lovit de repetate ori pe magician, cauzându-i ruptura de apendice. Cum Houdini suferea de apendicită de câtva timp, el a refuzat tratamentul medical, continuând să călătorească. Harry Houdini moare la spitalul Detroit's Grace, la ora 1:26 pm, în camera 401, pe 31 octombrie 1926, în vârstă de 52 de ani. Houdini a murit de Halloween, pe data de 31 octombrie 1926, la varsta de 52 de ani. Trupul neinsufletit a fost dus la New York. Servicul religios a avut loc in sala de festivitati a Lojii Elks, din W. 43rd Street., la care au asistat peste 2000 de persoane. Houdini a fost elogiat de rabini, apoi a avut loc o ceremonie de rupere a baghetei, oficiata de Societatea Magicienilor Americani. Inmormantarea a avut loc la cimitirul Machpelah din Brooklyn, un loc pe care Houdini insusi il alesese. Sedinte de spiritism pentru Houdini Inainte de moartea sa, Houdini a spus ca ii va trimite sotiei sale un mesaj din lumea de dincolo, daca va fi posibil. In fiecare an, de Halloween, sotia sa organiza sedinte de spiritism, dar sotul ei nu a aparut niciodata. Dupa zece ani, in 1936, dupa o ultima incercare de a a lua legatura cu sotul ei defunct, ea a stins lumanarea pe care o tinea aprinsa inca de la moartea acestuia, spunand ca "am asteptat destul. Zece ani sunt o perioada de timp suficienta pentru a astepta un barbat". In orice caz, traditia a ramas, si chiar si in prezent, de Halloween, se organizeaza sedinte de spiritism pentru Houdini, tinute de Sidney H. Radner, un magician care poseda cea mai mare colectie de obiecte care i-ar fi apartinut lui Houdini.

Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926) was a Hungarian-born American magician and escapologist, stunt performer, actor and film producer noted for his sensational escape acts. He was also a skeptic who set out to expose frauds purporting to be supernatural phenomena.

Harry Houdini was born as Erik Weisz (he later spelled his birth name as Ehrich Weiss) in Budapest, Hungary, on March 24, 1874. From 1907 on, however, Houdini would claim in interviews to have been born in Appleton, Wisconsin, on April 6, 1874.

His parents were Rabbi Mayer Samuel Weiss (1829–1892) and his wife, Cecelia (née Steiner; 1841–1913). Houdini was one of seven children: Herman M. (1863–1885); Nathan J. (1870–1927); Gottfried William (1872–1925); Theodore "Theo" (1876–1945); Leopold D. (1879–1962); and Gladys Carrie (born 1882–unknown year of death).

Weiss came to the United States on July 3, 1878, sailing on the SS Fresia with his mother (who was pregnant) and his four brothers. The family changed the Hungarian spelling of their German surname into Weiss (the German spelling) and the spelling of their son's name into Ehrich. Friends called him "Ehrie" or "Harry".
They first lived in Appleton, Wisconsin, where his father served as Rabbi of the Zion Reform Jewish Congregation. According to the 1880 census, the family lived on Appleton Street.On June 6, 1882, Rabbi Weiss became an American citizen. Losing his tenure at Zion in 1887, Rabbi Weiss moved with Ehrich to New York City. They lived in a boarding house on East 79th Street. They were joined by the rest of the family once Rabbi Weiss found permanent housing. As a child, Ehrich Weiss took several jobs, making his public début as a 9-year-old trapeze artist, calling himself "Ehrich, the Prince of the Air". He was also a champion cross country runner in his youth. Weiss became a professional magician and began calling himself "Harry Houdini" because he was heavily influenced by the French magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, and his friend Jack Hayman told him, erroneously, that in French, adding an "i" to Houdin would mean "like Houdin" the great magician. In later life, Houdini would claim that the first part of his new name, Harry, was a homage to Harry Kellar, whom Houdini admired.

Houdini began his magic career in 1891. At the outset, he had little success. He performed in dime museums and sideshows, and even doubled as "The Wild Man" at a circus. Houdini focused initially on traditional card tricks. At one point, he billed himself as the "King of Cards". But he soon began experimenting with escape acts.

In 1893, while performing with his brother "Dash" at Coney Island as "The Houdini Brothers", Harry met fellow performer Wilhelmina Beatrice (Bess) Rahner, whom he married. Bess replaced Dash in the act, which became known as "The Houdinis." For the rest of Houdini's performing career, Bess would work as his stage assistant.

Houdini's "big break" came in 1899 when he met manager Martin Beck in rural Woodstock, Illinois. Impressed by Houdini's handcuffs act, Beck advised him to concentrate on escape acts and booked him on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit. Within months, he was performing at the top vaudeville houses in the country. In 1900, Beck arranged for Houdini to tour Europe. After some days of unsuccessful interviews in London, Houdini managed to interest Dundas Slater, then manager of the Alhambra Theatre. He gave a demonstration of escape from handcuffs at Scotland Yard, and succeeded in baffling the police so effectively that he was booked at the Alhambra for six months.
Houdini became widely known as "The Handcuff King." He toured England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Russia. In each city, Houdini would challenge local police to restrain him with shackles and lock him in their jails. In many of these challenge escapes, Houdini would first be stripped nude and searched. In Moscow, Houdini escaped from a Siberian prison transport van. Houdini claimed that, had he been unable to free himself, he would have had to travel to Siberia, where the only key was kept. In Cologne, he sued a police officer, Werner Graff, who alleged that he made his escapes via bribery. Houdini won the case when he opened the judge's safe (he would later say the judge had forgotten to lock it). With his new-found wealth and success, Houdini purchased a dress said to have been made for Queen Victoria. He then arranged a grand reception where he presented his mother in the dress to all their relatives. Houdini said it was the happiest day of his life. In 1904, Houdini returned to the U.S. and purchased a house for $25,000, a brownstone at 278 W. 113th Street in Harlem, New York City.

From 1907 and throughout the 1910s, Houdini performed with great success in the United States. He would free himself from jails, handcuffs, chains, ropes, and straitjackets, often while hanging from a rope in plain sight of street audiences. Because of imitators, on January 25, 1908, Houdini put his "handcuff act" behind him and began escaping from a locked, water-filled milk can. The possibility of failure and death thrilled his audiences. Houdini also expanded repertoire with his escape challenge act, in which he invited the public to devise contraptions to hold him. These included nailed packing crates (sometimes lowered into water), riveted boilers, wet-sheets, mailbags, and even the belly of a Whale that had washed ashore in Boston. Brewers challenged Houdini to escape from his milk can after they filled it with beer.

Many of these challenges were pre-arranged with local merchants in what is certainly one of the first uses of mass tie-in marketing. Rather than promote the idea that he was assisted by spirits, as did the Davenport Brothers and others, Houdini's advertisements showed him making his escapes via dematerializing, although Houdini himself never claimed to have supernatural powers.

In 1912, Houdini introduced perhaps his most famous act, the Chinese Water Torture Cell, in which he was suspended upside-down in a locked glass-and-steel cabinet full to overflowing with water. The act required that Houdini hold his breath for more than three minutes. Houdini performed the escape for the rest of his career. Despite two Hollywood movies depicting Houdini dying in the Torture Cell, the act had nothing to do with his death. Throughout his career, Houdini explained some of his tricks in books written for the magic brotherhood. In Handcuff Secrets (1909), he revealed how many locks and handcuffs could be opened with properly applied force, others with shoestring. Other times, he carried concealed lockpicks or keys, being able to regurgitate small keys at will. When tied down in ropes or straitjackets, he gained wiggle room by enlarging his shoulders and chest, moving his arms slightly away from his body, and then dislocating his shoulders.

His straitjacket escape was originally performed behind curtains, with him popping out free at the end. However, Houdini's brother, (who was also an escape artist, billing himself as Theodore Hardeen), discovered that audiences were more impressed when the curtains were eliminated so they could watch him struggle to get out. On more than one occasion, they both performed straitjacket escapes whilst dangling upside-down from the roof of a building for publicity.
In 1904, the London Daily Mirror newspaper challenged Houdini to escape from a special handcuff that it claimed had taken Nathaniel Hart, a locksmith from Birmingham, seven years to make. Houdini accepted the challenge for March 17 during a matinée performance at London's Hippodrome theater. It was reported that 4000 people and more than 100 journalists turned out for the much-hyped event. The escape attempt dragged on for over an hour, during which Houdini emerged from his "ghost house" (a small screen used to conceal the method of his escape) several times. On one occasion, he asked if the cuff could be removed so he could take off his coat. The Mirror representative, Frank Parker, refused, saying Houdini could gain an advantage if he saw how the cuff was unlocked. Houdini promptly took out a pen-knife and, holding the knife in his teeth, used it to cut his coat from his body. Some 56 minutes later, Houdini's wife appeared on stage and gave him a kiss. It is believed that in her mouth was the key to unlock the special handcuff. Houdini then went back behind the curtain. After an hour and ten minutes, Houdini emerged free. As he was paraded on the shoulders of the cheering crowd, he broke down and wept. Houdini later said it was the most difficult escape of his career.
After Houdini's death, his friend, Martin Beck, published in his book, Sensational Tales of Mystery Men, in which he said that Houdini was bested that day and had appealed to his wife, Bess, for help. Goldstone goes on to claim that Bess begged the key from the Mirror representative, then slipped it to Houdini in a glass of water. However, it was stated in the book "The Secret Life of Houdini" that the key required to open the specially designed Mirror handcuffs was 6" long, and thus could not have been smuggled to Houdini in a glass of water. Goldstone offered no proof of his account, and many modern biographers have found evidence (notably in the custom design of the handcuff itself) that the entire Mirror challenge was pre-arranged by Houdini and the newspaper, and that his long struggle to escape was pure showmanship. In support of this, it has been reported that the sterling silver replica of the Mirror cuffs presented to Houdini in honor of his escape was actually made the year before the escape actually took place (again from "The Secret Life of Houdini").
Harry Houdini died of peritonitis, secondary to a ruptured appendix. Eyewitnesses to an incident in Montreal gave rise to speculation that Houdini's death was caused by a McGill University student, J. Gordon Whitehead, who delivered multiple blows to Houdini's abdomen to test Houdini's claim that he was able to take any blow to the body above the waist without injury.
The eyewitnesses, students named Jacques Price and Sam Smilovitz (sometimes called Jack Price and Sam Smiley), proffered accounts of the incident that generally corroborated one another. The following is Price's description of events:

Houdini was reclining on his couch after his performance, having an art student sketch him. When Whitehead came in and asked if it was true that Houdini could take any blow to the stomach, Houdini replied groggily in the affirmative. In this instance, he was hit three times before Houdini could tighten up his stomach muscles to avoid serious injury. Whitehead reportedly continued hitting Houdini several more times and Houdini acted as though he were in some pain.

Houdini reportedly stated that if he had time to prepare himself properly he would have been in a better position to take the blows. He had apparently been suffering from appendicitis for several days prior and yet refused medical treatment. His appendix would likely have burst on its own without the trauma. Although in serious pain, Houdini continued to travel without seeking medical attention.
When Houdini arrived at the Garrick Theater in Detroit, Michigan on October 24, 1926, for what would be his last performance, he had a fever of 104 °F (40 °C). Despite a diagnosis of acute appendicitis, Houdini took the stage. He was reported to have passed out during the show, but was revived and continued. Afterwards, he was hospitalized at Detroit's Grace Hospital.

Houdini died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix at 1:26 p.m. in Room 401 on October 31, aged 52.

After taking statements from Price and Smilovitz, Houdini's insurance company concluded that the death was due to the dressing-room incident and paid double indemnity.

marți, 22 martie 2011

Tom Hanks & Michael Clarke Duncan. The Green Mile

The Green Mile is a 1999 American drama film directed by Frank Darabont and adapted by him from the 1996 Stephen King novel of the same name. The film is told in a flashback format and stars Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb and Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey and tells the story of Paul and his life as a corrections officer on Death Row during the Great Depression and the supernatural events he witnessed.

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor, Best Picture, Best Sound, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

In a Louisiana nursing home in 1999, Paul Edgecomb (Dabbs Greer) begins to cry while watching the film Top Hat. His elderly friend, Elaine, shows concern for him and Paul tells her that the film reminded him of when he was a corrections officer in charge of Death Row inmates at Cold Mountain Penitentiary during the summer of 1935. The cell block Paul (Tom Hanks) works in is called the "Green Mile" by the guards because the condemned prisoners walking to their execution are said to be walking "the last mile"; here, it is a stretch of faded lime green linoleum to the electric chair.

One day, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a giant African-American man convicted of raping and killing two young white girls arrives on death row. Coffey demonstrates all the characteristics of being 'developmentally challenged': keeping to himself, fearing darkness, and being moved to tears on occasion. Soon enough, John reveals extraordinary powers by healing Paul's urinary tract infection and resurrecting a mouse. Later, he would heal the terminally-ill wife of Warden Hal Moores (James Cromwell), who suffered from a large brain tumor. When John is asked to explain his power, he merely says that he "took it back."

At the same time, Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), a sadistic and unpopular guard, starts work. He "knows people, big people" (he is the nephew of the governor's wife), in effect preventing Paul or anybody else from doing anything significant to curb his behavior. Percy recognizes that the other officers greatly dislike him and uses that to demand managing the next execution. After that, he promises, he will have himself transferred to an administrative post at Briar Ridge Mental Hospital and Paul will never hear from him again. An agreement is made, but Percy then deliberately sabotages the execution. Instead of wetting the sponge, used to conduct electricity and make executions quick and effective, he leaves it dry, causing inmate Eduard "Del" Delacroix's (Michael Jeter) execution to be botched.
Shortly before Del's execution, a violent prisoner named William "Wild Bill" Wharton (Sam Rockwell) arrives, due to be executed for multiple murders committed during a robbery. At one point he seizes John's arm and John psychically senses that Wharton is the true killer of the two girls, the crime for which John was convicted and sentenced to death. John "takes back" the sickness in Hal's wife and regurgitates it into Percy, who then shoots Wharton to death and falls into a permanent catatonic state. Percy is then housed in the Briar Ridge Mental Hospital. In the wake of these events, Paul interrogates John, who says he "punished them bad men" and offers to show Paul what he saw. John takes Paul's hand stating that he has to give Paul "a part of himself" in order to see and imparts the visions of what he saw, of what really happened to the girls.

Paul asks John what he should do, if he should open the door and let John walk away. John tells him that he is ready to die because there is too much pain in the world, which he is aware of and sensitive to, stating that he is "rightly tired of the pain" and is ready to rest. When John is put in the electric chair, he asks Paul not to put the traditional black hood over his head because he is afraid of the dark. Paul agrees and after Paul shakes his hand, John is executed.

As Paul finishes his story, he notes that he requested a transfer to a youth detention center, where he spent the remainder of his career. Elaine questions his statement that he had a fully-grown son at the time and Paul explains that he was 44 years old at the time of John's execution and that he is now 108 and still in excellent health. This is apparently a side effect of John giving a "part of himself" to Paul. Mr. Jingles, Del's mouse resurrected by John, is also still alive — but Paul believes his outliving all of his relatives and friends to be a punishment from God for having John executed. Paul explains he has deep thoughts about how "we each owe a death; there are no exceptions; but, Oh God, sometimes the Green Mile seems so long." Paul is left wondering, if Mr. Jingles has remained alive for all of this time being but a mouse, how long will it be before his own death?

luni, 21 martie 2011

Succes 2011: Dean Yeagle, the father of 'Mandy'. He served four years in the Navy during the Vietnam era before becoming a famous animator

Dean Yeagle is an accomplished animator, known for his character 'Mandy', who has frequented the pages of Playboy Magazine.
As a young Disney fan, Yeagle set his sights on becoming an animator for Disney around the age of 10. During this time he often drew Disney characters, but later began to develop his own.
After graduating from High School, Yeagle went to art school, leaving after a year. He began his animation career in a small studio in Philadelphia, PA with a summer job, giving him his first taste of the industry. He served four years in the Navy during the Vietnam era, and later worked for Jack Zander (who once animated Tom and Jerry cartoons for MGM) in Zander's Animation Parlour, New York.
Seven years after starting at Zander's Animation Parlour, Yeagle began freelancing, working for most of the New York animation studios before starting his own - Caged Beagle Productions - in 1986 with Nancy Beiman. Caged Beagle produces TV commercials, CD-ROMs, sub-contracts or consults on features and character design.
Yeagle has worked as a designer, animator and director, and he was nominated by the National Cartoonist Society (NCS) for the 2003 Gag Award for his work in Playboy Magazine. His official website also states that he was awarded the Animator of the Year Award by the NCS.

Clients have included Animus Productions, The Biondo Group, Blue Sky Studios, Brand X Design, Brøderbund, The Coleman Group, Dannon, Grey Advertising, Hahnfilm, Hanna-Barbera, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, ImaginEngine, Jim Henson Associates, JuniorNet, Kraft, Marvel Comics, MGM, Muppet Magazine, Nestle, Playboy Enterprises, Procter & Gamble, Random House, Rick Reinert Productions, Saatchi & Saatchi, Swan Studios, Video Gaming Technologies, Walt Disney Productions, Wallace/Church, Warner Bros. and Western Publishing.

sâmbătă, 19 martie 2011

Succes 2011: Anni-Frid Lyngstad (ABBA). Her Serene Highness Princess Anni-Frid Synni Reuss of Plauen

Anni-Frid Prinzessin Reuss von Plauen (born Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad, 15 November 1945 in Bjørkåsen, Ballangen, Norway), also known as "Frida" Lyngstad, is a Norwegian/Swedish singer of Norwegian/German origin. She was one of the four members of Swedish pop group ABBA.

She is formally styled Her Serene Highness Princess Anni-Frid Synni Reuss of Plauen following her marriage to a German prince of the former sovereign House of Reuss in 1992.

Her first album, Frida, produced by her then-fiancé Andersson, was released in 1971. The album received unanimously generous praise from the critics and the press, who especially noted the precision and versatility of Lyngstad's voice. For example Swedens biggest morningpaper "Dagens Nyheter" (Daily News) wrote: "Professional, sure and certain LP-debut...low-key but self-assured personality with sprinkles of temperament, humor and tenderness. And she sings in such a way that you understand that she´s got something between her ears - she sings, in other words, in a very intelligent way".She now scored her first Swedish No.1 hit with "Min Egen Stad" ("My Own Town"). All four future members of ABBA sang back-up vocals on this song. The album is now included in the EMI compilation Frida 1967-1972.

Anni-Frid continued to play in cabarets, and tour and regularly perform on TV and radio. Subsequently, her relationship with Andersson, and friendship with Björn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog led to the formation of ABBA. In 1972, after five years at EMI Sweden, Lyngstad changed record companies and moved to the Polar Music label. She recorded the single "Man Vill Ju Leva Lite Dessemellan", which became her second No. 1 hit on the Swedish charts.
Her next solo album in Swedish, was Frida ensam (Frida Alone), produced by Benny Andersson. By now, she was already involved in ABBA. This album includes her successful Swedish version of "Fernando", which became a huge hit in Sweden. In Sweden, Frida's "Fernando" stayed at the no. 1 spot in the Svensktoppen radio charts for 9 weeks, but was never released as a single. The album was recorded between sessions of the ABBA albums "Waterloo" and "ABBA". Due to the rising popularity of the group, the album took 18 months to record. It became an enormous commercial and critical success in Sweden, topping the Swedish album charts for six weeks and remaining in the charts for 38. The album was mostly a collection of covers of songs by artists like the Beach Boys, 10cc and David Bowie, receiving positive reviews from Melody Maker: "The album portrays Frida as a very strong and emotive singer and shows the true value of the music, that if sung properly and with enough feeling it transcends all language barriers". This album was such a big success, it eventually went platinum.

At first, Lyngstad was hesitant to perform with her boyfriend Benny Andersson, his best friend Björn Ulvaeus and his girlfriend, Agnetha Fältskog.Their first project together was the cabaret act Festfolk, which flopped in the winter of 1970–1971. The following year, 'Frida' toured on her own while the other three future ABBA members started performing together on a regular basis. Eventually, she rejoined them. Andersson and Ulvaeus were busy producing other artists, but soon discovered the qualities of Lyngstad's and Fältskog's voices combined: ABBA came to life. With her warm mezzo-soprano voice, Frida contributed lead vocals to some of ABBA's biggest hits like "Fernando", "Money, Money, Money", "Super Trouper", "I Have a Dream", "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and shared lead vocals with Agnetha Fältskog on "Mamma Mia", "Waterloo", "Dancing Queen", "The Name of the Game", "Voulez-Vous", "Summer Night City" and others. She became known as 'the brunette' or 'the redhead' of the girls, always surrounded by an air of elegance and beauty. Lyngstad clearly enjoyed the spotlight more than the other three members of ABBA. She truly liked to tour and to meet audience members one-on-one. She took an active part in co-designing the famed ABBA costumes for their tours and TV performances. Since the members of ABBA went their separate ways, Anni-Frid Lyngstad has been the only one who openly regrets there never have been a reunion to date.

vineri, 18 martie 2011

Succes 2011: Roger Federer, deținător al recordului pentru cele mai multe victorii în turneele de Mare Șlem

Roger Federer este jucător elvețian de tenis de câmp, în prezent clasat pe locul 2 ATP. Este deținător al recordului pentru cele mai multe victorii în turneele de Mare șlem, cu 16 astfel de succese, și în Turneul Campionilor, cu cinci trofee. A fost pentru mai mult de cinci ani lider al clasamentului mondial al tenismenilor profesioniști.


* Clasament ATP
o A ocupat primul loc în clasamentul mondial masculin pentru un număr record în istoria tenisului de 237 săptămâni consecutive, între 2 februarie 2004 și 17 august 2008, detronându-l pe americanul Jimmy Connors (160 săptămâni) și ulterior a mai condus ierarhia timp de un an, între iunie 2009 și iunie 2010, oprindu-se la un total de 285 de săptămâni, cu o săptămână mai puțin decât recordul absolut deținut de Pete Sampras.
o Cele mai multe puncte deținute la sfârșitul anului - singur

* Mare Șlem
o Victorie în 16 turnee de Mare Șlem. Precedentul record era deținut de americanul Pete Sampras, cu 14 succese
o A jucat în 22 finale de Mare Șlem - Precedentul record era deținut de cehul Ivan Lendl, cu 19 prezențe în finală
o Este primul jucător din toate timpurile care a câștigat cel puțin 50 de meciuri de simplu la trei turnee de Mare Șlem, cu un record impresionant de 54-7 la Australian Open, 55-6 la Wimbledon și 56-6 US Open
o A jucat 23 de semifinale consecutive în turneele de Mare Șlem, de la Wimbledon 2004 până în prezent. Precedentul record, de 10 semifinale consecutive, era deținut de Ivan Lendl și Rod Laver
o De la Wimbledon 2005 până la Australian Open 2008, a jucat 10 finale consecutive în Marele Șlem. Precedentul record îi aparținea lui Rod Laver, 6 finale consecutive
o A câștigat toate cele 4 turnee diferite de Mare Șlem - record pe care îl deține împreună cu:Perry,Budge,Laver,Emerson,Agassi,Nadal
o A câștigat primele șapte turnee de Mare Șlem la care a participat - împreună cu Sears [21]
o A disputat toate cele patru finale de Mare Șlem doi ani consecutiv - singur
o Trei turnee de Mare Șlem câștigate pe an, în trei ani diferiți (2004,2006,2007) - singur [21]
o Cinci titluri consecutive la două turnee de Mare Șlem (Wimbledon,U.S. Open) - singur
o Opt ani consecutiv (2003-2010) în care a câștigat cel puțin un Mare Șlem - împreună cu Borg și Sampras
o Este primul jucător din istoria tenisului care a câștigat minim 4 finale la 3 dintre cele 4 turnee de Mare Șlem: Australian Open 4(5), Roland Garros 1(4), Wimbledon 6(7), U.S. Open 5(6) fiind în același timp și singurul care a jucat minim 4 finale la fiecare dintre cele patru turnee.
o Cele mai multe seturi câștigate consecutiv la turnee de Mare Șlem: 36 - singur
o Pe 8 iulie 2007 a câștigat turneul de tenis de la Wimbledon pentru a cincea oară consecutiv egalând recordul lui Bjorn Borg
o A disputat 4 finale consecutive la Roland Garros - împreună cu Borg și Nadal
o A disputat 7 finale consecutive la Wimbledon - singur
o A ajuns cel puțin în faza semifinalelor la toate cele patru turnee de Mare Șlem în 5 ani consecutivi 2005-2009 - singur

* Turneul Campionilor
o În data de 28 noiembrie 2010, în sala O2 din Londra, a câștigat finala Turneului Campionilor pentru a cincea oară în carieră, învingăndu-l pe Rafael Nadal și egalând astfel recordul de cinci trofee în această competiție, deținut de Pete Sampras și Ivan Lendl.

* Masters 1000
o A disputat 29 finale de Master Series 1000 - singur
o A câștigat 4 turnee Master 1000 pe an de două ori - singur

* Diverse
o A câștigat 24 de finale ATP consecutiv - singur
o A disputat 16 finale din 17 turnee la care a participat într-un singur sezon (2006) - singur
o Cel mai mare număr de victorii consecutive pe iarbă - 65 - singur
o Cel mai mare număr de victorii consecutive pe ciment - 56 - singur
o Minim 10 turnee ATP câștigate pe sezon timp de 3 ani consecutiv - singur
o A câștigat 12 turnee ATP într-un singur sezon (2006) - împreună cu Muster
o Deține cele mai multe titluri pe iarbă în Open Era :11 - singur
o În cele 16 finale de Mare Șlem câștigate a învins 11 oponenți diferiți.(1. Philippoussis, 2. Safin, 3. Roddick, 4. Hewitt, 5. Agassi, 6. Baghdatis, 7. Nadal, 8. Gonzalez, 9. Djokovic, 10. Murray, 11. Soderling). -singur
o Pe 19 august 2007 a câștigat al 50-lea titlu al carierei cu o victorie în fața americanului James Blake, totodată devenind al 5-lea cel mai tânăr jucător (26 de ani și 11 zile) care câștigă cel puțin 50 de titluri în carieră.
o Prin calificarea în turul secund la US Open 2009, a devenit primul tenismen din istorie care depășește 50 de milioane de dolari bani câștigați exclusiv din tenis, iar la sfârșitul anului 2010, după câștigarea Turneului Campionilor, a depășit suma de 60 de milioane de dolari

joi, 17 martie 2011

Succes 2011: Claire Martin, english jazz singer. Winner of British Jazz Awards and BBC Jazz Awards for Best Vocalist

Claire Martin is an English jazz singer, born in Wimbledon, South London, England.
Claire Martin grew up in a house "full of music", and claims to have learned all of Judy Garland´s songs by the time she was 12. She cites Ella Fitzgerald´s Song Books as being the life changing influence which inspired her to attend Stage School and later to study singing in both New York and London. Her professional career started with her first engagement, aboard the QE2, where she sang in the Theater Bar for two years.

In 1991, at the age of 21, Martin formed her own jazz quartet, and was signed by the Scottish jazz label Linn Records. Her debut album, The Waiting Game, was extremely well reviewed and was selected by The Times as one of their "Albums of the Year". Later that year, she opened for Tony Bennett at the Glasgow International Jazz Festival.

Martin continued performing and recording, garnering numerous awards and rave reviews, throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, including awards from the British Jazz Awards and BBC Jazz Awards for Best Vocalist. She recorded a total of 11 albums (all on the Linn label). Apart from touring Europe, she also works as a co-presenter for Jazz Line Up on BBC Radio 3.

She has collaborated with the jazz composer and performer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett.

* 1992 The Waiting Game
* 1993 Devil May Care
* 1994 Old Boyfriends
* 1995 Off Beat
* 1997 Make This City Ours
* 1999 Take My Heart
* 2000 Perfect Alibi
* 2001 The Very Best of Claire Martin: Every Now and Then
* 2002 Too Darn Hot
* 2004 Secret Love
* 2005 When Lights Are Low
* 2007 He Never Mentioned Love
* 2009 A Modern Art

miercuri, 16 martie 2011

Succes 2011: Béla Lugosi Jr, fiul celebrului "vampir" hollywoodian născut la Lugoj

Bela George Lugosi also known as Bela Lugosi, Jr. is the son of Béla Lugosi. A California attorney, his legal actions in Lugosi v. Universal Pictures, led to the creation of the California Celebrities Rights Act. He was an executive at Comedy III Productions, which owned the licensing rights to the Three Stooges.

Béla Lugosi, Jr. has been among those who felt notorious filmmaker Edward D. Wood, Jr. exploited his father's stardom, taking advantage of the fading actor when he could not refuse any work.
Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó (20 October 1882 – 16 August 1956) commonly known as Béla Lugosi, was an actor of stage and screen. He was best known for playing Count Dracula in the Broadway play and subsequent film version. In the last years of his career he was featured in several of Ed Wood's low budget films.
Through his association with Dracula (in which he appeared with minimal makeup, using his natural, heavily accented voice), Lugosi found himself typecast as a horror villain in such movies as Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Raven, and Son of Frankenstein for Universal, and the independent White Zombie. His accent, while a part of his image, limited the roles he could play.

Lugosi did attempt to break type by auditioning for other roles. He lost out to Lionel Barrymore for the role of Rasputin in Rasputin and the Empress; C. Henry Gordon for the role of Surat Khan in Charge of the Light Brigade; Basil Rathbone for the role of Commissar Dimitri Gorotchenko in Tovarich (a role Lugosi had played on stage). He did play the elegant, somewhat hot-tempered Gen. Nicholas Strenovsky-Petronovich in International House.

It is an erroneous popular belief that Lugosi declined the offer to appear in Frankenstein due to make-up (other roles he desired which also required make-up were Cyrano de Bergerac and Quasimodo the bell ringing hunchback). Lugosi may not have been happy with the onerous makeup job and lack of dialogue.

Regardless of controversy, five films at Universal — The Black Cat, The Raven, The Invisible Ray, Son of Frankenstein, Black Friday (plus minor cameo performances in 1934's Gift of Gab) and one at RKO Pictures, The Body Snatcher — paired Lugosi with Boris Karloff. Despite the relative size of their roles, Lugosi inevitably got second billing, below Karloff. Lugosi's attitude toward Karloff is the subject of contradictory reports, some claiming that he was openly resentful of Karloff's long-term success and ability to get good roles beyond the horror arena, while others suggested the two actors were — for a time, at least — good friends. Karloff himself in interviews suggested that Lugosi was initially mistrustful of him when they acted together, believing that the Englishman would attempt to upstage him. When this proved not to be the case, according to Karloff, Lugosi settled down and they worked together amicably (though some have further commented that Karloff's on-set demand to break from filming for mid-afternoon tea annoyed Lugosi).

Universal tried to give Lugosi more heroic roles, as in The Black Cat, The Invisible Ray, and a romantic role in the adventure serial The Return of Chandu, but his typecasting problem was too entrenched for those roles to help.

Lugosi addressed his plea to be cast in non-horror roles directly to casting directors through his listing in the 1937 Players Directory, published by the Motion Picture Academy, in which he (or his agent) calls the idea that he is only fit for horror films "an error."

Mr Bela Lugosi, Jr was kind enough to send me a photo of his father in the role of Dracula, signed by him.

marți, 15 martie 2011

Johnny Depp, un excentric premiat cu Golden Globe şi Screen Actors Guild Award

John Christopher "Johnny" Depp II (born June 9, 1963) is an American actor and musician known for his portrayals of offbeat, eccentric characters in a wide variety of dramas and fantasy films. He has won the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild award for major roles in recent films.

Depp rose to prominence on the 1980s television series 21 Jump Street, quickly becoming a teen idol. Turning to film, he was notable as the title character of Edward Scissorhands (1990), and later found box office success in films such as Sleepy Hollow (1999), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and Rango (2011).

He has collaborated with director and close friend Tim Burton in seven films, the most recent of which are Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and Alice in Wonderland (2010). Depp has gained acclaim for his portrayals of people such as Edward D. Wood, Jr., in Ed Wood, Joseph D. Pistone in Donnie Brasco, Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and George Jung in Blow. More recently, he portrayed the bank robber John Dillinger in Michael Mann's 2009 film Public Enemies.

Films featuring Depp have grossed over $2.6 billion at the United States box office and over $6 billion worldwide. He has been nominated for top awards numerous times; he won the Best Actor Awards from the Golden Globes for his role in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and from the Screen Actors Guild for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Depp's first major role was in the 1984 horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street, playing the heroine's boyfriend and one of Freddy Krueger's victims. In 1986, he appeared in a secondary role as a Vietnamese-speaking private in Oliver Stone's Platoon. In 1990 he undertook the quirky title role of the Tim Burton film, Edward Scissorhands. The film's success began his long association with Burton.

Depp, a fan and long-time friend of writer Hunter S. Thompson, played a version of Thompson (named Raoul Duke) in 1998's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, based on the writer's pseudobiographical novel of the same name. Depp accompanied Thompson as his road manager on one of the author's last book tours. In 2006, Depp contributed a foreword to Gonzo: Photographs by Hunter S. Thompson, a posthumous biography published by Depp paid for most of Thompson's memorial event, complete with fireworks and the shooting of Thompson's ashes by a cannon, in Aspen, Colorado, where Thompson lived.

Critics have described Depp's roles as characters who are "iconic loners." Depp has noted this period of his career was full of "studio defined failures" and films that were "box office poison," but he thought the studios never understood the films and did not do a good job of marketing.Depp has chosen roles which he found interesting, rather than those he thought would succeed at the box office.

The 2003 Walt Disney Pictures film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a major success, in which Depp's performance as the suave pirate Captain Jack Sparrow was highly praised. Studio bosses were more ambivalent at first, but the character became popular with the movie-going public. According to a survey taken by Fandango, Depp was a major draw for audiences. The film's director, Gore Verbinski, has said that Depp's character closely resembles the actor's personality, but Depp said he modelled the character after Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Depp was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for the role.

In 2004, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, for playing Scottish author J. M. Barrie in the film Finding Neverland. Depp next starred as Willy Wonka in the 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a major success at the box office and earning him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.

Depp returned to the role of Jack Sparrow for the sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which opened on July 7, 2006 and grossed $135.5 million in the first three days of its U.S. release, breaking a box office record of the highest weekend tally. The next sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End, was released May 24, 2007. Depp has said that Sparrow is "definitely a big part of me", and he wants to play the role in further sequels. Depp voiced Sparrow in the video game, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow. Johnny Depp's swashbuckling sword talents as developed for the character of Jack Sparrow, were highlighted in the documentary film Reclaiming the Blade. Within the film, Swordmaster Bob Anderson shared his experiences working with Depp on the choreography for The Curse of the Black Pearl. Anderson, who also trained Errol Flynn, another famous Hollywood pirate, described in the film Depp's ability as an actor to pick up the sword to be "about as good as you can get."

Depp and Gore Verbinski were executive producers of the album Rogues Gallery, Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys. Depp played the title role of Sweeney Todd in Tim Burton's film adaptation of the musical, for which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Depp thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and praised Tim Burton for his "unwavering trust and support."

Depp played the former Heath Ledger character in the 2009 film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus along with Jude Law and Colin Farrell. All three actors gave their salaries from the film to Ledger's daughter, Matilda. He portrayed the Mad Hatter in Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and the titular character in Rango.

luni, 14 martie 2011

Liz Hurley: Sensuous, Intuition and Pleasures

Elizabeth Jane Hurley (born 10 June 1965) is an English model and actress who became known as a girlfriend of Hugh Grant in the 1990s. In 1994, as Grant became the focus of worldwide media attention due to the global box office success of his film Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hurley accompanied him to the film's Los Angeles premiere in a plunging black Versace dress held together with gold safety pins, which gained her instant media attention.

Hurley has been associated with the cosmetics company Estée Lauder for over fifteen years since the company awarded Hurley her first modelling job at the age of 29. They have featured her as a representative and model for its products, especially perfumes such as Sensuous, Intuition, and Pleasures, since 1995. As an actress, her best known cinematic works to date have been as Vanessa Kensington in Mike Myers' hit spy comedies, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and as the Devil in Bedazzled (2000).

Hurley started working as an actress in the late 1980s and became a model in 1995.

Hurley made her first film appearance in Aria (1987). She has since appeared in the movies Passenger 57, EDtv, Bedazzled, and Serving Sara. In 1997, she received her first and only acting award, the ShoWest Supporting Actress of the Year, for her performance in the spy spoof Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. When Hugh Grant founded and became the director of Simian Films in 1994, Hurley was credited as one of the producers for the company's two Grant vehicles, Extreme Measures (1996) and Mickey Blue Eyes (1999). In 2000, she was publicly criticised for breaking a five-month acting strike to film an Estée Lauder advertisement, for which she was fined $100,000 (£70,000 in 2000) by the Screen Actors Guild and labeled "Elizabeth Scably" by protesters.

Hurley is godmother to Patsy Kensit's son Lennon and two of David Beckham and Victoria Beckham's sons.