marți, 31 mai 2011

Succes 2011: Farah Pahlavi, the former Queen of Iran. The only Empress (Shahbanu) of modern Iran

Farah Pahlavi (Farah Diba; Persian: فرح دیبا Faraḥ Dība, Azerbaijani: فرح پهلوی) is the former Queen and Empress of Iran. She is the widow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, and only Empress (Shahbanu) of modern Iran. She was Queen consort of Iran from 1959 until 1967 and Empress consort from 1967 until exile in 1979.

Though the titles and distinctions of the Iranian Imperial Family were abolished by the Islamic government, she is sometimes styled Empress or Shahbanu, out of courtesy, by the foreign media as well as by supporters of the monarchy. It must also however be noted that some countries such as the United States of America, Denmark, Spain and Germany still address the former Empress as Her Imperial Majesty The Shahbanu of Iran in official documents, for example Royal wedding guest lists.
Empress Farah Pahlavi began her education at Tehran’s Italian School, then moved to the French Jeanne d'Arc School and later to the Lycee Razi. She was an accomplished athlete in her youth and became captain of her school's basketball team. Upon finishing her studies at the Lycee Razi, she pursued an interest in architecture at the École Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris, where she was a student of Albert Besson.

Many Iranian students who were studying abroad at this time were dependent on State sponsorship in order to do so. Therefore when the Shah, as head of state, made official visits to foreign countries, he would frequently meet with a selection of local Iranian students. It was during such a meeting in 1959 at the Iranian Embassy in Paris that Farah Diba was first presented to Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

After returning to Tehran in the summer of 1959, the Shah and Farah Diba began a carefully choreographed courtship, orchestrated in part by the Shah’s daughter Princess Shahnaz. The couple announced their engagement on 23 November 1959.

Farah Diba married His Imperial Majesty Shah Mohammed Reza on 21 December 1959, aged 21. The young Queen of Iran (as she was styled at the time) was the object of much curiosity and her wedding garnered worldwide press attention. After the pomp and celebrations associated with the Royal wedding were completed, the success of this union became contingent upon the Queen’s ability to produce a male heir. Although he had been married twice before, the Shah’s previous marriages had given him only a daughter, who under agnatic primogeniture could not inherit the throne. The pressure for the young Queen was acute. The Shah himself was deeply anxious to have a male heir as were the members of his government. It was, furthermore, no secret that the dissolution of the Shah’s previous marriage to Queen Soraya had been due to her infertility.

The long-awaited heir, Reza Pahlavi, was born on 30 October 1960. Together the couple would go on to have four children.

The exact role which the new Queen would play if any, in public or government affairs, was uncertain. Within the Imperial Household, her public function was secondary to the far more pressing matter of assuring the succession. However, after the birth of the Crown Prince, the new Queen was free to devote more of her time to other activities and official pursuits.

Not unlike many other Royal consorts, the young Queen initially limited herself to a ceremonial role. She spent much of her time attending the openings of various education and health-care institutions, without venturing too deeply into issues of controversy. However, as time progressed, this position changed. The Queen became much more actively involved in government affairs where it concerned issues and causes that interested her. She used her proximity and influence with her husband, the Shah, to secure funding and focus attention on causes, particularly in the areas of women's rights and cultural development.

Eventually,the Queen came to preside over a staff of 40 workers who handled various requests for assistance on a range of issues. She became one of the most highly visible figures in the Imperial Government and the patron of 24 educational, health and cultural organizations. Her humanitarian role earned her immense popularity for a time, particularly in the early 1970s.[11] During this period, she travelled a great deal within Iran, visiting some of the remotest parts of the country and meeting with the local citizens.

The Imperial Government in Tehran was not unaware of her popularity. Her significance was exemplified by her part in the 1967 Coronation Ceremonies, where she was crowned as the first Shahbanu, or Empress, of modern Iran. It was again confirmed when the Shah named her as the official Empress Regent should he die or be incapacitated before the Crown Prince’s 21st birthday. The naming of a woman as Regent was highly unusual for a Middle-Eastern Monarchy.

In Iran by early 1978, a number of factors contributed to the internal dissatisfaction with the Imperial Government becoming more pronounced.

Discontent within the country continued to escalate and later in the year led to demonstrations against the monarchy. The Empress could not help but be aware of the disturbances and records in her memoirs that during this time ‘there was an increasingly palpable sense of unease’. Under these circumstances most of the Empress’ official activities were cancelled due to concerns for her safety.

As the year came to a close, the political situation deteriorated further. Riots and unrest grew more frequent, culminating in January 1979. The government enacted martial law in most major Iranian cities and the country was on the verge of an open revolution.

It was at this time, in response to the violent protests, that the Shah and Empress Farah determined (or were obliged by the circumstances) to leave the country. Both the Shah and Shahbanu departed Iran via aircraft on 16 January 1979.
The question of where the Shah and Empress would go upon leaving Iran was the subject of some debate, even among the monarch and his advisers.[17] During his reign, the Shah had maintained close relations with Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and the Empress had developed a close friendship with the President’s wife, Jehan Al Sadat. The Egyptian President extended an invitation to the Imperial Couple for asylum in Egypt and they accepted.

Due to the political situation unfolding in Iran, many governments, including those which had been on friendly terms with the Iranian Monarchy prior to the revolution, saw the Shah’s presence within their borders as a liability. Although a callous reversal, this was not entirely unfounded as the Revolutionary Government in Iran had ordered the arrest (and later death) of both the Shah and Empress Farah. The new Islamic dictatorship backed by the Muslim Brotherhood would go on to vehemently demand their extradition a number of times but the extent to which it would act in pressuring foreign powers for the deposed monarch's return (and presumably that of the Empress) was at that time unknown. Regardless, the predicament was complex.

The Shah and Empress were far from unaware of this complexity and cognizant of the potential danger which their presence exposed their host. In response, the Imperial Couple left Egypt, beginning a fourteen-month long search for permanent asylum and a journey which took them through many different countries. After Egypt, they first traveled to Morocco, where they were briefly the guests of King Hassan II.

After leaving Morocco, the Shah and Empress were granted temporary refuge in the Bahamas and given use of a small beach property located on Paradise Island. Ironically, Empress Farah recalls the time spent at this pleasantly named location as some of the ‘darkest days in her life’.[9] After their Bahaman visas expired and were not renewed, they made an appeal to Mexico, which was granted, and rented a villa in Cuernavaca near Mexico City.

After the Shah’s death, the exiled Empress remained in Egypt for nearly two years. President Sadat gave her and her family use of Koubbeh Palace in Cairo. A few months after President Sadat’s assassination in October 1981, the Empress and her family left Egypt. President Ronald Reagan informed the Empress that she was welcome in the United States.

She first settled in Williamstown, Massachusetts but later bought a home in Greenwich, Connecticut. After the death of her daughter Princess Leila in 2001, she purchased a smaller home in Potomac, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., to be closer to her son and grandchildren. Empress Farah now divides her time between Washington D.C and Paris. The Empress currently has three grandchildren (granddaughters) through her son Reza and his wife Yasmine.

luni, 30 mai 2011

Succes 2011: Michael Chance, british countertenor. Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Michael Chance is an English countertenor.

Chance was born in Penn, Buckinghamshire, into a musical family. After growing up as a chorister he attended Eton College, Berkshire, and later King's College, Cambridge. He took part in the project of Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir to record the complete vocal works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.
His vocal training with Rupert Bruce Lockhart followed an English degree at King's College, Cambridge where he was also a choral scholar. His first operatic appearance was in the Buxton Festival in Ronald Eyre's staging of Cavalli's Giasone which was followed by appearances in Lyon, Cologne, and three seasons with Kent opera. Subsequently, he has performed in the Sydney Opera House, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, La Scala Milan, Florence, New York, Lisbon, Oviedo, Leipzig, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and with Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, and English National Opera. His roles include the title roles of Orfeo (Gluck), Giasone, Giustino, Rinaldo and Ascanio in Alba, Solomon, Ottone / L’incoronazione di Poppea, Athamas / Semele, Andronico / Tamerlano, Oberon / A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tolomeo / Giulio Cesare and Apollo / Death in Venice. He has had roles written specially for him by Sir Harrison Birtwistle (Orpheus / The Second Mrs Kong) and Judith Weir (A Military Governor / A night at the Chinese Opera). Recent festival appearances include Edinburgh, Aix-en-Provence, BBC Proms in London, Salzburg and Bertarido in a new production of Handel’s Rodelinda for the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.

His appearances in oratorio and recital have taken him to concert halls all over the world including Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw, Musikverein, Neue Gewandhaus and Berlin's Philharmonie. He has given recitals in Frankfurt, Vienna, Amsterdam, Israel, New York and London's Wigmore Hall with a variety of programmes, ranging from Elizabethan lute songs to new works commissioned for him. He sings regularly with the viol consort Fretwork and has toured with them to Japan and the United States.

Michael Chance's list of recordings is numerous and widespread. He received a Grammy award for his participation in Handel's Semele for Deutsche Grammophon with John Nelson and Kathleen Battle. He has recorded frequently with John Eliot Gardiner, including the Bach Passions and Cantatas, B Minor Mass, Monterverdi's Orfeo and L'Incoronazione di Poppea and Handel's Jeptha, Tamerlano and Agrippina. Other conductors he has recorded with include Trevor Pinnock, Franz Bruggen, Ton Koopman and Nicholas McGegan. On his CD for Deutsche Grammophon, “Michael Chance, the Art of Counter-tenor”, he sings solo alto cantatas by Vivaldi with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert.

His belief in extending the counter-tenor repertoire has prompted new work to be composed for him by Richard Rodney Bennett, Alexander Goehr, Tan Dun, Anthony Powers, John Tavener, and Elvis Costello - amongst others.

Michael Chance was awarded the CBE in the 2009 New Years Honours List.

joi, 26 mai 2011

Tony Shalhoub alias Monk. A brilliant Sherlock Holmes-type detective diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder

Anthony Marcus "Tony" Shalhoub (born October 9, 1953) is an American actor. His television work includes the role of Antonio Scarpacci on Wings and sleuth Adrian Monk on the TV series Monk. He has won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for his work in Monk. He also has a successful career as a character actor, with roles in films like Spy Kids, Men in Black, Men in Black II, Galaxy Quest, 1408, Barton Fink, Big Night, The Siege, The Man Who Wasn't There.

Shalhoub was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin. His father, Joe Shalhoub, immigrated from Lebanon to the United States as an orphan at the age of 10. He married Shalhoub’s mother, Helen, a second-generation Lebanese-American, and founded a family grocery chain, starting with a store in downtown Green Bay.

The second youngest of the couple's 10 children, Shalhoub was introduced to the theater by an older sister, who put his name forward as an extra in a high school production of The King and I. Despite finding himself standing on the wrong side of the curtain during the final dress rehearsal, he became enamored with the theater. Shalhoub graduated from Green Bay East High School, where his senior peers named him the best dressed and most likely to succeed. In his senior year he suffered a setback, breaking his leg in a fall off the stage into the pit during a rehearsal. Recovering quickly, he was able to perform in the school's final play of the year. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in drama from the University of Southern Maine in Portland, going on to earn a master's from the Yale School of Drama in 1980.
One of his first television roles was in 1991 as the Italian cabdriver Antonio Scarpacci in the sitcom Wings. Shalhoub was pleasantly surprised to land the role after having a recurring role in the second season. Shalhoub affected an Italian accent for the role. In the same time period, Shalhoub played physicist Dr. Chester Ray Banton in The X-Files second-season episode "Soft Light".

Shalhoub's film roles following his Wings breakout included an excitable producer in Barton Fink and a fast-talking lawyer in The Man Who Wasn't There (both directed by the Coen brothers), a linguistically unidentified cabby in Quick Change, a Cuban-American businessman in Primary Colors, a sleazy alien pawn shop owner in the Men in Black films, a sympathetic attorney in A Civil Action, a widowed father in Thir13en Ghosts, a cameo role in the film Gattaca, and a has-been television star in Galaxy Quest. He also had a co-starring role in the film Big Night, where he plays an Italian-speaking chef complete with accent. And in 1995 he had a role in the hit NBC sitcom Frasier in the episode "The Focus Group" as an Arab newsstand owner named Manu Habbib.
Shalhoub also did voice acting for the 1997 computer game Fallout.

Shalhoub demonstrated his dramatic range in the 1998 big-budget thriller, The Siege, where he co-starred alongside Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, and Bruce Willis. His character, FBI Special Agent Frank Haddad, was of Middle Eastern descent and suffered discrimination after terrorist attacks in New York City.

He later returned to series television in 1999, this time in a lead role on Stark Raving Mad opposite Neil Patrick Harris. The show did not attract much of an audience and NBC canceled the series in July 2000.

After a two-year absence from the small screen, Shalhoub starred in another TV series, Monk, in which he portrays Adrian Monk, a brilliant Sherlock Holmes-type detective diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, for USA Network. Michael Richards had been offered the role when the show was being considered for broadcast on ABC, which later reran the first season in 2002, but he eventually turned it down. Shalhoub was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in nine consecutive years from 2001 to 2009, winning in 2003, 2005, and 2006. He also took the Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy, in 2003.

miercuri, 25 mai 2011

Succes 2011: Tom Clancy, author best known for his technically detailed espionage, military science and techno thriller storylines. Part-owner and Vice Chairman of Community Activities and Public Affairs of the Baltimore Orioles

Thomas Leo "Tom" Clancy Jr. (born April 12, 1947 is an American author, best known for his technically detailed espionage, military science and techno thriller storylines set during and in the aftermath of the Cold War, along with video games which he did not work on, but which bear his name for licensing and promotional purposes. His name is also a brand for similar movie scripts written by ghost writers and many series of non-fiction books on military subjects and merged biographies of key leaders. He is also part-owner and Vice Chairman of Community Activities and Public Affairs of the Baltimore Orioles, a Major League Baseball team.

The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears have been turned into commercially successful films with actors Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck, and Harrison Ford as Clancy's most famous fictional character Jack Ryan, while his second most famous character John Clark has been played by actors Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber. All but two of Clancy's solely-written novels feature Jack Ryan or John Clark.

The first NetForce novel was adapted as a television movie, starring Scott Bakula and Joanna Going. The first Op-Center novel was released to coincide with a 1995 NBC television mini-series of the same name (Tom Clancy's Op-Center) starring Harry Hamlin and a cast of stars. Though the mini-series didn't continue, the book series did, but it had little in common with the first mini-series other than the title and the names of the main characters.

The website IMDb reports that Tom Clancy's novel Without Remorse is to be made into a movie and is expected to be released in 2011.

With the release of The Teeth of the Tiger, Clancy introduced Jack Ryan's son and two nephews who were main characters; these characters continue in his latest novel, Dead Or Alive.

Clancy has written several nonfiction books about various branches of the U.S. armed forces (see non-fiction listing, below). Clancy has also branded several lines of books and video games with his name that are written by other authors, following premises or storylines generally in keeping with Clancy's works. These are sometimes referred to by fans as "apostrophe" books; Clancy did not initially acknowledge that these series were being authored by others, only thanking the actual authors in the headnotes for their "invaluable contribution to the manuscript".

In 1997, Clancy signed a book deal with Penguin Putnam Inc. (both part of Pearson Education), that paid him US$50 million for the world-English rights to two new books. He then signed a second agreement for another US$25 million for a four-year book/multimedia deal.Clancy followed this up with an agreement with Berkley Books for 24 paperbacks to tie in with the ABC television miniseries Tom Clancy's Net Force aired in the fall/winter of 1998. The Op-Center universe has laid the ground for the series of books written by Jeff Rovin, which was in an agreement worth US $22 million bringing the total value of the package to US$97 million.

Board games

# The Hunt for Red October (1988)

Naval wargame published by TSR, Inc., based on the novel of the same name. It covered modern naval warfare between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

# Red Storm Rising (1989)

Ground warfare wargame published by TSR, Inc., based on the novel of the same name. It covered an attack on NATO forces in western Europe by the Warsaw Pact. It included rules for integration with The Hunt for Red October game of the year before. The publisher reused the system for Europe Aflame (1989), a strategic World War II game, and A Line in the Sand, a strategic game about the First Gulf War.

# Tom Clancy's Politika

* Clancy is one of only three authors to have sold two million copies on a first printing in the 1990s. (John Grisham and J.K. Rowling) Clancy's 1989 novel Clear and Present Danger sold 1,625,544 hardcover copies, making it the #1 bestselling novel of the 1980s.

* Clancy received an honorary doctorate in humane letters and delivered the commencement address at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1992, and has since worked a reference to the school into many of his main works.

* Clancy is an honorary Yeoman Warder of The Tower of London holding the title "Supernumerary Yeoman". On the television show Ace of Cakes his wife commissioned, for his 60th birthday, a special cake in the shape of the Tower of London in acknowledgment of his status. In the episode, Tom Clancy referred to the Beefeaters as, "Just a terrific bunch of guys".

* Clancy received the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement from the Navy League of the United States in 1990.

In 1996, Clancy co-founded the computer game developer Red Storm Entertainment and ever since he has had his name on several of Red Storm's most successful games. Red Storm was later bought by publisher Ubisoft Entertainment, which continues to use the Clancy name.

marți, 24 mai 2011

Succes 2011: Albert Moses, Sadruddin from OCTOPUSSY. The double of Clarke Gable. A specialist in fencing, dancing, singing, motor-cycle stunts, karate and judo

Albert Moses (born 19 December 1937) is a British-based actor born near Kandy, Sri Lanka. He had began to act by the 1960s in India where he appeared in several films, then produced and directed his first. From India, he moved to Africa where he undertook work on documentaries. From the early 1970s, in Britain, Moses played small parts in several television series before being cast as Ranjeet Singh, a Sikh from Punjab, India, in the ITV sitcom Mind Your Language (1977–79, 1986).

Roles in film, television and theatre include work with Kirk Douglas, Oliver Reed, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Roger Moore, Sir Michael Caine, Sir (Thomas) Sean Connery, Charles Dance, OBE, Kenneth Williams, Benny Hill, Pamela Stephenson, and Diana Rigg.
One of Albert's popular themes was playing the double of Clarke Gable.

* Freeway - The National Theatre;
* Phædra Britannica - The National Theatre (with Diana Rigg);
* Long March to Jerusalem - Watford Palace Theatre


* The Man Who Would Be King - A John Huston film with Sir (Thomas) Sean Connery, Sir Michael Caine, and Christopher Plummer;
* The Spy Who Loved Me - James Bond film;
* Stand Up Virgin Soldiers - EMI;
* Carry On Emmannuelle - Rank (Indian doctor);
* The Little Drummer Girl - EMI;
* The Awakening - Columbia Pictures;
* An American Werewolf in London - a John Landis movie;
* The Great Quest - with Oliver Reed;
* Pink Floyd: The Wall - Alan Parker film;
* Octopussy - James Bond film (as Saddrudin - undercover British agent in India);
* The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo - Columbia Pictures;
* East Is East - a BAFTA award-winning Film4 production;
* Scandalous - with Sir John Gielgud and Pamela Stephenson


* Queenie - Hollywood mini-series with Kirk Douglas;
* On the Buses - London Weekend Television;
* Warship - BBC television drama;
* Robin's Nest - Thames Television sitcom;
* Mind Your Language - London Weekend Television sitcom (nearly 50 episodes broadcast between 1977 and 1986);
* Juliet Bravo - BBC television drama;
* The Jewel in the Crown - Granada Television (4 episodes, with Charles Dance, OBE);
* The Little and Large Show - BBC television comedy;
* The Benny Hill Show - Thames Television comedy;
* Boon - ITV Central drama;
* The Bill - talkbackTHAMES television drama (5 episodes);
* Never the Twain - Thames Television sitcom;
* The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Man With The Twisted Lip - Granada Television;
* London's Burning - London Weekend Television drama;
* The Knock - London Weekend Television drama;
* Casualty - BBC television drama;
* HOLBY CI+Y - BBC television drama (3 episodes)


* Produced 13 episodes of Mind Your Language;
* Produced and directed Gabriella, a television film produced on location in Malta;
* Hosted, produced and directed a talent contest variety show
* Wrote The Seventh Commandment, a television drama;
* Wrote Side by side, a television comedy;
* Wrote Don't talk to strangers, a television thriller;
* Wrote The Jokers, a television drama;
* Published children's books Tales from India, The hawk and the turtles, and Mustapha Mouse goes to the city;
* Published a book of 87 poems

Current activity

Moses currently works in the following capacities:

* Chairman of the Asian, Caribbean, Oriental and Asian Artistes of EQUITY.
* A governor of a St Albans school.
* On the board of directors for a St Albans theatre company.
* Member of the London regional committee of ITV under the chairmanship of Lord Lipsey.
* Chairman of the St Albans Film Society.
* Trustree and patron of The Ivy Trust, a children's charity.
* Voluntary teacher at local college, teaching English to foreign students. (See the Mind Your Language page for the irony of this!)
* Committee member of local retirement home.
* Volunteer at local hospital.
* Volunteer at a local school, running a film workshop for children.

Moses was recently made a Knight of the Order of St John.

luni, 23 mai 2011

Herbert Clark Hoover, the 31st President of the United States (1929–1933)

Pre-print received from Hoover Library after an email request.
Herbert Clark Hoover (August 10, 1874 – October 20, 1964) was the 31st President of the United States (1929–1933). Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under President Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business under the rubric "economic modernization". In the presidential election of 1928, Hoover easily won the Republican nomination, despite having no previous elected office experience. To date, Hoover is the last cabinet secretary to be directly elected President of the United States, as well as one of only two Presidents (along with William Howard Taft) to have been elected without previous electoral experience or high military rank. America was prosperous and optimistic at the time, leading to a landslide victory for Hoover over Democrat Al Smith.

Hoover, a trained engineer, deeply believed in the Efficiency Movement, which held that government and the economy were riddled with inefficiency and waste, and could be improved by experts who could identify the problems and solve them. When the Wall Street Crash of 1929 struck less than eight months after he took office, Hoover tried to combat the ensuing Great Depression with volunteer efforts, none of which produced economic recovery during his term. The consensus among historians is that Hoover's defeat in the 1932 election was caused primarily by failure to end the downward economic spiral. As a result of these factors, Hoover is ranked poorly among former US Presidents.
Although Hoover had come to detest the presidency, he agreed to run again in 1932, both as a matter of pride, but also because he feared that no other likely Republican candidate would deal with the depression without resorting to what Hoover considered dangerously radical measures.

Hoover was nominated by the Republicans for a second term. He had originally planned to make only one or two major speeches, and to leave the rest of the campaigning to proxies, but when polls showed the entire Republican ticket facing a resounding defeat at the polls, Hoover agreed to an expanded schedule of public addresses. In his nine major radio addresses Hoover primarily defended his administration and his philosophy. The apologetic approach did not allow Hoover to refute Democratic Party nominee Franklin Roosevelt's charge that he was personally responsible for the depression.
In his campaigns around the country, Hoover was faced with perhaps the most hostile crowds any sitting president had ever faced. Besides having his train and motorcades pelted with eggs and rotten fruit, he was often heckled while speaking, and on several occasions, the Secret Service halted attempts to kill Hoover by disgruntled citizens, including capturing one man nearing Hoover carrying sticks of dynamite, and another already having removed several spikes from the rails in front of the President's train. He lost the election by a huge margin, winning only six out of 48 states.

Hoover suffered a large defeat at the election, obtaining 39.7% of the popular vote to Roosevelt's 57.4%. Hoover's popular vote was reduced by 26% from his result in the 1928 election. In the electoral college he carried only Pennsylvania, Delaware, and four other Northeast states to lose 59–472. The Democrats also extended their control over the U.S. House and gained control of the U.S. Senate.

After the election, Hoover requested that Roosevelt retain the Gold standard as the basis of the US currency, and in effect, continue many of the Hoover Administration's economic policies. Roosevelt refused.

joi, 19 mai 2011

Succes 2011: Michael Böllner alias Augustus Gloop in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Michael Bollner (born 14 September 1958; spelled 'Böllner' in his native language of German) is a German former child actor who played Augustus Gloop in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Interviewed on HBO, along with the other stars of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, he said he enjoyed acting in the film, even though he could not speak English beforehand and had to have his lines coached by a crewmember.

In the feautrette "Pure Imagination, The Making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" Böllner mentioned that he has done a couple more films in Germany after Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, but quit soon because his father said he should finish school. He is now a tax accountant in Munich.
Augustus Gloop is an antagonist in the book and movies "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".

Augustus is an overweight German boy who loves nothing but eating excessively. Augustus is rude and insubordinate in his never-ending quest to fill his own face. His parents choose to indulge him rather than listen to his whining.
He suffers for his greed while in the factory: while sucking from the chocolate river, he falls in and is sucked up by one of the pipes that leads to the room where Willy Wonka makes strawberry-flavored chocolate coated fudge. In the end, Augustus comes out changed on the other side, as evidenced by his new thin body.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children's book by British author Roald Dahl. The story features the adventures of young Charlie Bucket inside the chocolate factory of the eccentric chocolatier, Willy Wonka.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1964 and in the United Kingdom by George Allen & Unwin in 1967. The book was adapted into two major motion pictures: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in 1971, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005. The book's sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, was written by Roald Dahl in 1972. Dahl had also planned to write a third book in the series but never finished it.

The story was originally inspired by Roald Dahl's experience of chocolate companies during his schooldays. Cadbury would often send test packages to the schoolchildren in exchange for their opinions on the new products. At that time (around the 1920s), Cadbury and Rowntree's were England's two largest chocolate makers and they each often tried to steal trade secrets by sending spies, posing as employees, into the other's factory. Because of this, both companies became highly protective of their chocolate making processes. (Both have since been acquired by larger food companies; Cadbury by Kraft Foods and Rowntree's by Nestlé.) It was a combination of this secrecy and the elaborate, often gigantic, machines in the factory that inspired Dahl to write the story.
It's the story of an ordinary boy: Charlie Bucket. He was no stronger or faster than anyone else, his family was not rich, powerful or well connected but he was the luckiest boy in the entire world, he just didn't know it yet.

15 years ago, Willy Wonka opened the largest chocolate factory in the world but spies stole his recipes so he closed the factory. It didn't close forever though, and suddenly he decided to allow 5 children to visit the factory and one of them will win a special prize at the end. The children have to find one of the five golden tickets hidden beneath the ordinary wrapping paper of five ordinary Wonka bars. So, Augustus Gloop (a German excessive eater), Veruca Salt (a spoiled English brat), Violet Beauregarde (junior bubblegum champion), Mike Teavee (who hates chocolate, but loves to watch television), and Charlie Bucket (the luckiest boy in the entire world) win tickets and visit the factory.

"Accidents" happen while on the guided tour. The greedy Augustus falls in the chocolate lake and gets accidentally sucked up and taken away to the room where they make the most delicious kind of strawberry flavoured chocolate coated fudge. Violet, ignoring Wonka's advice, tries some of his three course dinner gum, swells up like a blueberry and needs to be juiced. Veruca tries to grab a squirrel and ends up falling down the garbage chute in the direction of the incinerator (which thankfully is broken so there's about three weeks worth of rotten garbage to break her fall). Mike tries to use Wonka's chocolate teleport machine and ends up shrunken to about 6 inches high.

Charlie wins the prize - it's Willy Wonka's factory. He goes in the Great Glass Elevator through the roof, and down the roof of Charlie's Cottage.

1971 film

The book was first made into a feature film as a musical titled Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, directed by Mel Stuart, produced by David L. Wolper and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, character actor Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe, and Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket. Released worldwide on 30 June 1971 and distributed by Paramount Pictures (Warner Bros. is the current owner), the film had an estimated budget of $2.9 million. The film grossed only $4 million and, while it passed its budget, was still considered a box-office disappointment. However, as was noted in an article entitled; "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: From Inauspicious Debut to Timeless classic", exponential home video and DVD sales, as well as repeated television airings, the film has since developed into a cult classic.

Like many films based on books, there were several notable differences in the film from the book. For example:

* Charlie's father had died prior to the events in the film.
* The fake ticket was the "final" ticket and was "found" by a Paraguayan man rather than the "second" ticket being "found" by a Russian woman.
* The other four children were accompanied around the factory by just one of their parents rather than both parents.
* The "nut" room was changed to the "egg-laying" room.
* The date of the factory tour was changed from the first of February to the first of October
* The film did not show the final fates of the bad children after they were removed.
* Most notably, a morality test and a contract came attached to the Golden Tickets to determine the worth of the finders.
* Charlie misbehaved by "stealing Fizzy Lifting Drink" and was nearly removed himself. (Although the Fizzy Lifting Drinks were mentioned in the book, they did not enter the room.) He redeemed himself by giving the Everlasting Gobstopper back to Wonka, thereby passing the morality test.
* Arthur Slugworth was an alias of Wonka's co-worker Mr. Wilkinson, who was sent to test each child who won the Golden Ticket. The movie does not explain how the false Slugworth was able to approach each winner so soon after they found their tickets. However, it is implied that Wonka somehow managed to keep track of each ticket's destination and then he told Wilkinson where they were most likely to be found.

miercuri, 18 mai 2011

Succes 2011: Mario Batali, american chef, writer, restaurateur and media personality. Co-owner of restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Singapore

Mario Batali (born September 19, 1960) is an American chef, writer, restaurateur and media personality.
In addition to his classical culinary training, he is an expert on the history and culture of Italian cuisine, including regional and local variations. Batali co-owns restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Singapore. Batali's signature style includes shorts and orange Crocs.

Batali was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of Marilyn and Armandino Batali, owner of the restaurant Salumi in Seattle. His family moved to Yakima, Washington shortly thereafter. When Batali was about 8, his family moved back to Seattle when his father got a job as an engineer for Boeing. His father worked for Boeing for thirty years, then, after retirement, opened a meat-curing shop in Seattle.

He is of Italian ancestry on his father's side, and English and French Canadian ancestry on his mother's side.
According to research done by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (of Harvard University, in 2010 for the PBS series Faces of America), his maternal great-great grandparents opened an Italian foods store in 1903. Batali's family roots are found almost entirely in the Western United States. Mario’s great-great-grandfather left Italy in 1899, going to Butte, Montana to work in the copper mines, but later moved west to settle in Seattle.

Mario moved to Spain with his family in 1975 and returned to the U.S. in 1978 to attend Rutgers University, where he majored in Spanish Language, Theatre and Economics, and graduated in 1982. He later went to attend Le Cordon Bleu, though he left because he found the pace too slow and that the best way for him to learn was in a professional kitchen. Mario currently lives in New York City with his wife Susi Cahn (of Coach Dairy Goat Farm) and two sons, Leo and Benno. He also owns homes in Northport, Michigan, and Red Hook, New York.
Batali is one of the principal subjects of Bill Buford's 2006 book, Heat.

During college Batali worked as a dishwasher at "Stuff Yer Face" restaurant in New Brunswick, New Jersey, quickly moving up to pizzaman.[citation needed] Batali went on to serve as an assistant in the kitchens at the "Six Bells" public house in the Kings Road, Chelsea, under Marco Pierre White, La Tour d'Argent in Paris, Moulin de Mougins in Provence, and the Waterside Inn, outside London. In 1985 he worked as a sous chef at the Four Seasons Clift in San Francisco before being promoted to helm the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel's La Marina restaurant in Santa Barbara. At twenty-seven, Batali was the highest paid young chef in the company. In 1989 he resigned and moved to the northern Italian village of Borgo Capanne to apprentice in the kitchen at La Volta, where he sought to master a traditional style of Italian cooking inspired by his grandmother, Leonetta Merlino.
In 1993 Batali opened "Po". In 1998, with business partner Joseph Bastianich (son of Lidia Bastianich), he went on to start "Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca".
The pair have since opened seven additional restaurants, Lupa (1999), Esca (2000), Otto Enoteca Pizzeria (2003), Casa Mono (2004), Bar Jamon (2004), Bistro Du Vent (2004, closed in 2006), Del Posto (2005), Enoteca San Marco (2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada), B&B Ristorante (2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada), Tarry Lodge in Port Chester, NY, CarneVino (2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada) and a shop named Italian Wine Merchants (1999) which is no longer under Batali's ownership.

The New York Post reported in September 2007 that Batali’s contract with the Food Network would not be renewed, and that he would no longer be featured on its Iron Chef America series. The article further reported that although Batali had not initially been dismissed from Iron Chef America, he decided not to make any further appearances on the show after the network made the decision to cancel his cooking show, Molto Mario, which had been airing on Food Network since 1997. A Food Network spokesperson confirmed to ABC News that Molto Mario would no longer be aired, but said that "Mario Batali is still part of the Food Network family. Sometimes family members go off and do other things. We completely blessed his decision to go to PBS ... He is still going to appear on Iron Chef America." No new episodes of Molto Mario have been filmed since 2004, but the network continued airing re-runs, with reruns currently airing first on Fine Living and currently on Fine Living's replacement channel Cooking. Batali was absent on the season finalé of The Next Iron Chef, but he appeared twice during Iron Chef America's 2008 season, and his likeness has been licensed to appear in the Nintendo game Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine. As of episodes airing in 2010, Batali's name and likeness do not appear in the show's opening credits.
Batali is featured in PBS’s show Spain... on the road Again with Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Bittman (of The New York Times) and Claudia Bassols (a Spanish actress) featuring Spanish cuisine. The 13-episode series was filmed from October 2007 into early 2008. This will be the first of a series of shows that will be developed for PBS over the next several years. Batali is also in negotiations with Travel Channel to develop a series on Italian cuisine and culture with Anthony Bourdain that reportedly will be an "exhaustive, definitive Italy series with the kind of production values that Planet Earth had".
Batali teamed up with premium drum stick producer Vic Firth to create custom kitchen tools. Together they designed a line of wooden rolling pins, pepper grinders and salt grinders.

In 2009, Batali announced the creation of the Mario Batali Foundation "to educate, empower and encourage children". The foundation is an event-driven fundraiser for children’s disease research, children’s hunger relief, and literacy programs.

Batali has been critical of fellow international chef Gordon Ramsay, calling his cooking styles dated and boring. Although the New York Post reported, in 2009, of a feud between Ramsay and Batali, Batali has stated, "We really don't even know each other.... I'd love to hang out with him."
In 2009 Batali made his film debut in Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Batali recently lost 45 pounds, hoping to shed about 80 pounds total. Batali said he decided to lose weight after he saw a picture of himself. He counts on light exercise and portion control to lose the weight. Batali said, "It’s really about calorie intake and calorie outtake. You just have to eat enough to get you to the next meal."

Mario is featured also in the MMORPG World of Warcraft: Cataclysm: in Stormwind City there is the NPC Bario Matalli (almost Mario Batali with the initial letters swapped) which is regarded as "Sous Chef" and feature the highest-level cooking recipes available.

marți, 17 mai 2011

Succes 2011: Samantha Stosur, former world No. 1 on the WTA Tour in doubles

Samantha Jane Stosur is an Australian professional tennis player. She is a former world No. 1 on the WTA Tour in doubles with Lisa Raymond from the United States. In singles, Stosur has wins against former No. 1s Ana Ivanović, Jelena Janković, Serena Williams, Dinara Safina, Lindsay Davenport, Amélie Mauresmo, Justine Henin and Caroline Wozniacki. She is currently ranked World No. 8 and her career high in singles is World No. 4, achieved on 21 February 2011. Stosur was runner-up in singles at the 2010 French Open.

Stosur was born in Brisbane, Queensland, the daughter of Tony and Diane, and has two brothers, Dominic and Daniel. She is of Polish descent by way of a grandfather. When she was six the family house and business on the Gold Coast was destroyed by a flood, and the family decided to move to Adelaide. There she started playing tennis, when she was given a racket for Christmas at the age of eight. While her parents worked long hours at the cafe they had started, Stosur played at local courts with older brother Daniel, who later encouraged their parents to take her to tennis lessons. Stosur attended Helensvale State High School on the Northern Gold Coast. She went away on her first overseas trip at the age of 13, competing in the World Youth Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia.

At 14 she joined the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) under Geoff Masters and in 2001, when she was 16, Stosur joined the Australian Institute of Sport tennis program.

Stosur first played professional tennis in 1999 on the ITF circuit. She debuted on the Women's Tennis Association tour in 2000, losing in the first qualifying round of the Australian Open. In 2001 she won four straight ITF titles. In 2002 she lost in the first round at the Gold Coast event.

In 2003 Stosur won her first WTA singles matches, reaching the third round of the Australian Open. She lost in the third round to No. 7 seed, Daniela Hantuchová. She also qualified for a WTA event in Memphis.

In 2004 Stosur reached the semifinals of the Gold Coast event, before falling to Ai Sugiyama. The next week she reached the second round of the WTA tournament in Hobart, then the second round of the Australian Open. She later qualified for WTA events in Acapulco, Indian Wells, Vienna and Birmingham. Stosur competed at the Athens Olympics, where she lost in the first round. She continued to play WTA qualifying events, qualifying for the Japan Open and Bali in the autumn of 2004. At the end of the 2004 season, Stosur reached the doubles final in Québec City, partnered with Els Callens from Belgium.

Stosur began her 2011 season by competing at the Brisbane International as the top seed. Stosur defeated Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecká in the first round in straight sets, 7–6(1), 6–1, after overcoming two breaks of serve and saving two set points in the first set. Stosur then fell in straight sets to fellow Australian, Jarmila Groth in the second round.

After this tournament, Stosur competed at the Medibank Sydney International as the fourth seed. She was drawn to a tough first round opponent in the in-form Yanina Wickmayer. She won 7–5 6–4, but lost in the second round to Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Stosur was seeded 5th at the 2011 Australian Open. In the first round she easily overcame American wildcard and world number 443 Lauren Davis, 6–1 6–1, and continued her form in the second round against Vera Dushevina 6–3 6–2 but ended up losing in the third round to 25th seed Petra Kvitová, 7–6(5), 6–3.

Stosur's ranking rose to number 5 despite her early loss at the Australian Open. Stosur then rose to a new career high No. 4 following a quarterfinal showing at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Stosur had a disappointing start to the first American leg of the year falling in the 3rd round of the Indian Wells tournament to Dinara Safina, 6(2)-7, 4–6. At Miami, Stosur was seeded 4th and received a bye to the second round. She won her second round match against Zheng Jie 6–2 6–1, and then won again in the third round to 30th seed Lucie Šafářová, 6–0, 7–6(1). This was Stosur's first victory against Šafářová after losing to her in their other three encounters. However, her run was ended in the fourth round by 16th seed and former No. 1 Maria Sharapova, who defeated her, 6–4, 6–1.

After Miami, Stosur played at Charleston where she failed to defend her title – falling in the third round to Elena Vesnina in 2 sets. This will be Stosur's crucial clay season as she has over two thousand ranking points to defend including her finalist points at last year's French Open.

At Stuttgart, Stosur had 320 ranking points to defend for being last year's finalist. At fifth seed, Stosur defeated Spaniard María José Martínez Sánchez in the first round. In the second round, Stosur won against Daniela Hantuchová and made it 5–1 in head to head. At the quarterfinals, Stosur took on world no. 3 Vera Zvonareva. This is their first time they faced each other since last year's final at Charleston. In the end, Stosur prevailed in three sets 2–3, 6–3, 7–6(3) to make it Stosur's first win against a top 10 player for the year as well as her first third set tiebreaker win and made it 6–1 against Zvonareva. Stosur lost to Germany's Julia Görges in the semifinals 4–6 6–3 5–7 and will lose 120 points in her rankings, but rose to world no. 6. However, Stosur did end up winning in the doubles at Stuttgart, partnering Germany's Sabine Lisicki and defeating the German team of Kristina Barrois and Jasmin Wöhr in the final 6–1, 7–6(5).

Stosur's next tournament was the 2011 Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open, where she was the fifth seed and was to defend 250 ranking points. In the first round, Stosur defeated Gisela Dulko 3–6, 6–2, 6–2. She followed that up with another win against Daniela Hantuchová with a 7–6(1), 7–5 tally, but she in the third round to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets, 6(4)-7, 3–6.

She then competed in her second Premier 5 tournament in Rome with no ranking to defend as she didn't take part last year due to injury and fatigue. As the sixth seed, Stosur had a bye in the first round. In the second round, Stosur defeated Iveta Benešová 6–1, 7–5. In the third round, Stosur defeated qualifier Polona Hercog 6–3, 6–4. In the quarterfinals, Stosur defeated second seed Francesca Schiavone 6–2, 6–4. Stosur also defeated fourth seed Li Na in the semifinals 7–6(6), 6–0. In her first tournament final since the 2010 French Open Stosur faced former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova. Both players had not dropped a set since coming into the tournament. In the final Stosur suffered a debilitating straight sets 2–6, 4–6 loss to the seventh seed Sharapova, this extended her head to head against the Russian player to 0 wins – 8 losses. It was her first encounter and subsequent loss on the clay court to Sharapova. However Stosur had cited a nauseating illness the morning before the final, which was also incidentally delayed due to rain.

An accomplished doubles player, Stosur in her early years developed a serve-and-volley style of play but as the years progressed, she started to feel more comfortable hitting on the baseline and coming to the net less often. Although she is known for being a doubles specialist and having great volleys and drop-shots while playing doubles, in her singles matches, Stosur has a tendency to miss-hit these shots. Her right-handed forehand ground-strokes, hit with heavy top-spin, are considered her best evidenced by her often choosing to hit inside-out forehands. She can hit forehand winners from any side of the court, and her motion when hitting her forehands makes it hard for her opponents to guess where she will hit it to. Because of this, many players attack her backhand side which was considered a weakness of her game, however in 2010, Stosur adopted Pat Rafter's signature backhand slice to add to her game and help her set up points. She has also improved on her two-handed backhand and has even generated winners on occasion. Stosur is also noted for her athleticism and after bouncing back from a career-threatening Lyme's Disease, she has became one of the fittest players on tour.

Due to its power, kick and variety, Stosur's serve is widely considered as one of the best on the women's tour. Her first serve, however erratic, reaches more than 118 mph (190 km/h) on a regular basis. Her second, a high bouncing kick serve, is highly rated as being the best second serve in the women's game by media and players alike, and was thought to play a key role in her French Open success in 2009 and 2010. One thing that Stosur has changed in her game, thanks to coach David Taylor is the fact that her serve has been less predictable with Stosur sometimes even using her kick serve as first serves. Her good serving motion has helped her overhead smashes and she rarely misses those shots.

Her favourite surface is hard court, although to date, her best Grand Slam singles results have occurred on the clay of the French Open. Stosur has also mentioned her least favourite surface is grass and this is mostly due to the fact that her biggest weapons (top-spin forehand & kick-serve) are not very effective on this surface. Her performances at Wimbledon have reflected this as she has only gone past the second round once on the lone grass-court Grand Slam event.

In her earlier years on the WTA tour, Stosur's real weakness was her inability to handle the pressure at major matches, and for not being good at closing out matches. In her first four WTA tour finals, she won the first set only to eventually lose the match. On her off-days, she is susceptible to hitting over 50 unforced errors. She has shown great improvement in these areas, and these weaknesses are seen less frequently in her matches now, as exemplified in her calm dispatch of the four-time Roland Garros champion and former World No. 1 Justine Henin, one time Roland Garros champion and the then-current World No. 1 Serena Williams and former World No. 1 Jelena Janković in the 4th round, quarter-final and semi-final at the 2010 Roland Garros. Despite this, her inability to handle pressure under major matches was evident in the final against Francesca Schiavone, losing in straight sets and hitting many errors despite being the clear favourite to take the title.

As of 2009, Stosur's clothing sponsor is Lacoste. Her racquet is Babolat's Pure Storm model, and she endorses Oakley eyewear, particularly the Enduring model.

miercuri, 11 mai 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp & Jonathan Pryce

Pirates of the Caribbean is a series of fantasy-adventure films directed by Gore Verbinski (1-3) and Rob Marshall (4), written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. They are based on a Walt Disney theme park ride of the same name, and follow the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and many other characters including Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally), Angelica (Penélope Cruz) and Blackbeard (Ian McShane).

The films started with their first release on the big screen in 2003 with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. After the success of the first film, Walt Disney Pictures revealed that a trilogy was in the works. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was released three years later in 2006. The sequel proved successful, breaking records worldwide the day of its premiere. In the end, it earned $1,066,179,725 at the worldwide box office, becoming the fourth and second-fastest film to reach this amount. The third film in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, was released in 2007. So far, the film franchise has grossed $2.68 billion worldwide. In September 2008, Depp signed on for a fourth film in the franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, set to be released on May 20, 2011 in conventional 2D, IMAX, Disney Digital 3-D and IMAX 3D. Filming began on June 14, 2010 in Hawaii. It has been confirmed that two more installments to the franchise are included in Disney's future plans.

Although it has never been officially confirmed, there is strong evidence to suggest that the series was influenced by, and perhaps loosely based upon, the Monkey Island series of video games. Ted Elliott, one of the two screenwriters of the first four Pirates of the Caribbean films, was allegedly the writer of a Steven Spielberg-produced animated film adaptation of Monkey Island entitled The Curse of Monkey Island (presumably based on the game of the same name), which was cancelled before its official announcement, three years prior to the release of The Curse of the Black Pearl. This film was allegedly in production at Industrial Light & Magic before being cancelled.

Ron Gilbert, the creator of the Monkey Island series, has jokingly expressed a bitterness towards the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise for its similarities to Monkey Island. Interestingly, Gilbert has also stated that On Stranger Tides, a novel by Tim Powers which was adapted into the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film, was the principal source of inspiration for his video games.

In the early 1990s, screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio conceived of writing a film based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Disney had Jay Wolpert write a script based on the ride, which producer Jerry Bruckheimer rejected, feeling it was, "a straight pirate movie." Stuart Beattie was brought in to rewrite the script in March 2002, due to his knowledge of piracy, and later that month Elliott and Rossio were brought in. Elliott and Rossio were inspired by the opening narration of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme park ride, and decided to give the film a supernatural edge. As the budget rose, Michael Eisner and Robert Iger threatened to cancel the film, though Bruckheimer changed their minds when he showed them concept art and animatics.

In May 2002 Gore Verbinski signed on to direct Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush signed on the following month to star. Verbinski was attracted to the idea of using modern technology to resurrect a genre that had disappeared after the Golden Age of Hollywood, and recalled his childhood memories of the ride, feeling the film was an opportunity to pay tribute to the "scary and funny" tone of it. Depp was attracted to the story as he found it quirky: rather than trying to find treasure, the crew of the Black Pearl were trying to return it in order to lift their curse; also, the traditional mutiny had already taken place. Verbinski approached Rush for the role of Barbossa, as he knew he would not play it with attempts at complexity, but with a simple villainy that would suit the story's tone. Orlando Bloom read the script after Rush, whom he was working with on Ned Kelly, suggested it to him. Keira Knightley came as a surprise to Verbinski: he had not seen her performance in Bend It Like Beckham and was impressed by her audition. Tom Wilkinson was negotiated with to play Governor Swann, but the role went to Jonathan Pryce, whom Depp idolized.

Shooting for The Curse of the Black Pearl began on October 9, 2002 and wrapped by March 7, 2003. Before its release, many had expected the film to be a flop, as the pirate genre had not been successful for years, the film was based on a theme park ride, and Depp rarely made a big film. However, The Curse of the Black Pearl became both a critical and commercial success.

After seeing how well the first film performed, the cast and crew signed for two more sequels to be shot back-to-back, a practical decision on Disney's part to allow more time with the same cast and crew. Writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio knew that with an ensemble cast, they weren't free to invent totally different situations and characters, as with the Indiana Jones and James Bond series, and so had to retroactively turn The Curse of the Black Pearl into the first of a trilogy. They wanted to explore the reality of what would happen after Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann's embrace at the end of the first film, and initially considered the Fountain of Youth as the plot device.[17] They settled on introducing Davy Jones, the Flying Dutchman and the Kraken, a mythology mentioned twice in the first film. They introduced the historical East India Trading Co., who for them represented a counterpoint to the themes of personal freedom represented by pirates.

Filming for the sequels began on February 28, 2005, 8:30 AM, with Dead Man's Chest finishing on March 1, 2006, and At World's End on January 10, 2007.
Due to the trilogy's success, and Depp's desire to play Jack Sparrow again, a fourth film was put into the works. On April 2007, Disney bought the rights to Tim Powers' novel, On Stranger Tides. Gore Verbinski was interested in returning, but later left the project to direct a film adaptation of the video game, BioShock. Rob Marshall replaced Verbinski as director. Jerry Bruckheimer returned as producer, with writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio on board again to draft the screenplay, incorporating elements from Powers' novel. While the proposed title for the film, which was frequently used by fans and critics, was Pirates of the Caribbean: The Fountain of Youth, Disney announced that the actual title would be, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Previous cast members Depp, Rush, and McNally were signed on, and on March 2010, it was announced that Ian McShane and Penélope Cruz would also star, though previous cast members, including Bloom, Knightley, Arenberg, and Crook would not return. McShane portrays a new villain, Blackbeard, and Cruz, playing Blackbeard's daughter, Angelica, is Jack Sparrow's love interest. The film features a musical score composed by Hans Zimmer.It was also confirmed that the fourth installment would be filmed in 3D.

Filming began June 14, 2010 and ended on November 19, 2010. It will be released in the United States on May 20, 2011.

The actors playing in the fourth film were told by Disney not to occupy their time in the near future, as the studio intends to shoot a fifth and sixth film back-to-back. On January 14, 2011, it was confirmed that Terry Rossio will write the screenplay for the fifth installment, without his co-writer Ted Elliott. Johnny Depp said that he would be happy to return as Captain Jack Sparrow saying "As long as we can put all the puzzle pieces together, I would most definitely consider it". Jerry Bruckheimer said that the fifth film would be a standalone film. This would help them a lot as there would be more revenue for them. According to Terry Rossio the script for the fifth film is finished and he has handed the script to Disney executives.

The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Elizabeth Swann, daughter of the Governor of Port Royal, is kidnapped by the crew of the Black Pearl, led by Captain Hector Barbossa while trying to protect the port from further pirate attacks, in order to lift a curse placed on them after stealing Aztec gold. Blacksmith Will Turner, a childhood friend and secret admirer of Elizabeth, persuades pirate Captain Jack Sparrow to help him in the rescue of her.

Dead Man's Chest (2006)

Lord Cutler Beckett, a powerful and ruthless East India Trading Co. agent, arrests Will and Elizabeth for aiding Jack Sparrow's escape in the previous film. Beckett, however, offers clemency if Will agrees to search for Sparrow and his magical compass. At the same time, Sparrow tries to release himself from an old debt with villainous Davy Jones by finding the Dead Man's Chest which he can use to coerce Jones to do his bidding.

At World's End (2007)

Lord Cutler Beckett gains power over Davy Jones, and with the help of Jones' ship, The Flying Dutchman, he is now executing his plans to extinguish piracy forever. To stand against the East India Trading Co., Will, Elizabeth, Barbossa, and the crew of the Black Pearl goes to rescue Jack Sparrow from Davy Jones' Locker, because he is one of the Nine Pirate Lords needed to summon an ancient goddess.

On Stranger Tides (2011)

Captain Jack Sparrow crosses paths with a woman from his past, and he is unsure whether it is love—or if she is a ruthless con artist who is only using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship captained by the formidable pirate Blackbeard, Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he does not know whom to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.

marți, 10 mai 2011

Succes 2011: Shahar Pe'er, World No. 11 in women's tennis, highest ranking for an Israeli singles player

Shahar Pe'er is an Israeli professional tennis player. Her career-high singles ranking is World No. 11, which she achieved on January 31, 2011 (Highest ranking for an Israeli singles Tennis player, male or female).

Her best Grand Slam singles result has been reaching the quarter-finals at the 2007 Australian Open and the 2007 US Open. She has also reached the Women's doubles final at the 2008 Australian Open with Victoria Azarenka. Pe'er has won five WTA Singles titles and three WTA Doubles titles. As of January 31, 2011, Pe'er is ranked World No. 11 in singles and No. 22 in doubles.

In February 2009, Pe'er was prevented from playing at the Dubai Tennis Championships after she was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. A number of players, among them Venus Williams, condemned the visa rejection, and WTA chief Larry Scott said that he had considered cancelling the tournament but chose not to after consulting Pe'er. Tournament director Salah Tahlak said that Pe'er was refused on the grounds that her appearance could incite anger in the Arab country after she had already faced protests at the ASB Classic over the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict. The WTA said that it would review future tournaments in Dubai. Due to the action Tennis Channel decided not to televise the event and The Wall Street Journal dropped its sponsorship. The 2008 winner of the men's singles Andy Roddick chose not to defend his title with prize money of over $2 million to protest against the UAE's refusal to grant Pe'er a visa. "I really didn't agree with what went on over there", Roddick said.

Following strong protest over UAE's decision to refuse her visa in 2009, Pe'er was granted a visa in 2010 but was placed under very strict restrictions. She was not allowed to mix with other players off court, had to exercise in a separate gym, and was under strict guard on her way from the hotel to the court. To add to the pressure, the tournament was taking place at the time when Dubai authorities were investigating the Assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, which they blamed on Israeli agents posing as European nationals. Pe'er was widely praised by her fellow competitors for her composure under pressure during the tournament. In particular, Venus Williams remarked: "I can’t imagine playing so well with these kinds of circumstances. I just have to give her congratulations and props. She's courageous. I don’t think anyone else on the WTA Tour could do what she's doing".
Pe'er plays a "counterpuncher" style. Her forehand uses a semi-western grip, which makes her good in facing big top-spin opponents. Her backhand is two-handed and is one of the best on the women's tour. It is consistent and finds various angles throughout the court. She loves to take lots of points with the inside out shot on her backhand. She had a kick serve that lacked the drive needed to penetrate deep, but she changed it to more of a slice serve, which works great for her now and even generates aces. She has a good volley and doesn't have a problem going to the net. During matches, she often turns her back to her opponent between points, faces the back of the court, closes her eyes and tries to wipe the mental slate clean.

In 2011, Pe'er started the year by playing in Brisbane, where she defeated Sophie Ferguson, 6–4, 6–2, but lost to Lucie Safarova in the second round, 3–6, 6–1, 7–5. She played in Sydney next, winning against Sybille Bammer, 6–3, 5–7, 6–1, but losing the second round to Victoria Azarenka, 7–5, 6–3.

In the 2011 Australian Open, which she started as the No. 10 seed, Pe'er won her first round match against Mathilde Johansson, 6–1, 6–1. In the second round she defeated Sorana Cirstea in straight sets, 6–3, 6–2. However, she lost in the third round to Flavia Pennetta, 3–6, 7–6(3), 6–4. After the tournament, Pe'er's ranking rose to No. 11, her highest in the career so far, due to Elena Dementieva and Justine Henin being taken out of the WTA rankings.

In March, she reached BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal after beating Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Francesca Schiavone.In the quarters she lost to Yanina Wickmayer .

In April she had a chance to become a top 10 player by defeting Julia Goerges (world no. 35) in Charleston round of 32, but she lost to the German.

luni, 9 mai 2011

Succes 2011: Terry Fator, famous ventriloquist, headliner at The Mirage hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Winner of America's Got Talent

Terry Wayne Fator is a ventriloquist, impressionist, comedian, and singer from Mesquite, Texas. Fator is capable of doing over 100 ventriloquial impersonations, and uses 16 different puppets in his act. He was the winner of Season 2 of America's Got Talent, and received the million dollar prize. The following year, he was signed on as the headliner at The Mirage hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Terry Fator was born June 10, 1965 in Dallas, Texas. Terry's second cousin is Chris Sligh, an American Idol season 6 finalist. Terry Fator says in his audio commentary of Terry Fator: Live from Las Vegas (2009) that he went to college at Liberty University in Lynchburg VA. The beginning of Fator's ventriloquism career dates back to when he was in fifth grade. While searching for a book for an assignment on Valentine's Day, he came across a book about ventriloquism titled, Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit, by Paul Winchell. Fator checked out the book and started learning about ventriloquism. A few weeks later, Fator purchased a Willie Talk dummy from Sears and soon won a $25 prize for a performance at a church picnic.

Fator got his first ventriloquism dummy when he was ten years old. Throughout his childhood, Fator entertained family and friends with his ventriloquism and did impersonations of singers and actors. When Fator was in sixth grade, he appeared on a popular children's show in Dallas called Peppermint Place that starred "Mr. Peppermint" Jerry Haynes. Fator was able to save his money and got his first professional ventriloquism dummy when he was eighteen.

Fator says he found he had the ability to impersonate singers by practicing ventriloquism while driving his car. "One of the reasons I learned how to sing as a ventriloquist was because I like singing in the car," Fator says. "I’d see other people singing in the car, and they looked goofy, so I’d do it without moving my lips."

Fator got his first ventriloquism dummy when he was ten years old. Throughout his childhood, Fator entertained family and friends with his ventriloquism and did impersonations of singers and actors. When Fator was in sixth grade, he appeared on a popular children's show in Dallas called Peppermint Place that starred "Mr. Peppermint" Jerry Haynes.[citation needed] Fator was able to save his money and got his first professional ventriloquism dummy when he was eighteen.

Fator says he found he had the ability to impersonate singers by practicing ventriloquism while driving his car. "One of the reasons I learned how to sing as a ventriloquist was because I like singing in the car," Fator says. "I’d see other people singing in the car, and they looked goofy, so I’d do it without moving my lips."

Fator got his start touring as the lead singer of a band called "Freedom Jam" in 1987-88, produced by Young American Showcase. They performed at over 200 high schools and middle schools across the United States, averaging three performances per school day.
Terry Fator with Freedom Jam in Young American Showcase.

In mid 1988, he was the lead singer of a show band called 'Texas the Band'[8] when he was 20, and incorporated his puppet Walter T. Airedale into his shows. Fator's band at one point was about to sign with a major record label and one of the label's representatives came to hear the band. Fator sang the songs impersonating the original vocalists. "He told me 'you gotta stop doing those impressions,' and wanted me to sing in my own voice," Fator says. "I tried it for a few weeks, and absolutely hated it. We told the record company 'no thanks'."

Fator left the band and did a solo act combining comedy and ventriloquism but for many years had little success. "Fairs would stick me on a little stage in the back of fair and have me do three shows in the hottest part of the afternoon," says Fator. "I had heat stroke a couple of times, almost passed out."

In May 2007, before appearing on America's Got Talent, Fator was performing at a fair near Houston, Texas and the only spectator was a 12 year old boy. Discouraged, Fator contemplated pursuing another career, but his family encouraged him to hang in there. Terry entered the America's Got Talent competition with the hope that the exposure if he made it to the Top 20 might help his career and cause people to want to attend his shows. But Fator says the low point of his career was when he appeared at a 1,000 seat theater and had only one customer.

Fator's success stems from combining singing and ventriloquism. Fator had been the lead singer in a band and often did impersonations of singers Garth Brooks, Etta James, James Taylor and Dean Martin while ventriloquism was just a comic side gig for Fator. In 2005 Fator decided to join his two talents, ventriloquism and impersonations. "I had one of my characters sing Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places" and the audience went bananas," Fator says. "Boy, that was where my life changed." After his initial success Fator revamped his act. "It took me six months and I completely rewrote the show," says Fator. "It was then that people really noticed and I started getting standing ovations at the end of every show."

Prior to winning America's Got Talent, Fator was an opening act for Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Neal McCoy, and Styx. Fator also made corporate appearances at General Motors and AT&T.

Before appearing on America's Got Talent, Fator had almost given up on achieving success in show business as a ventriloquist. "It wasn't easy trying to keep going all these years, and by the time I was in my late 30s, I wasn't sure it was ever going to happen," says Fator.

On June 19, 2007, Fator made his first national appearance on America's Got Talent. Fator never dreamed that he would win the show. "Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would win that show," says Fator. "Essentially I auditioned because the guy that was the ventriloquist the first season got on ('The Late Show with) David Letterman.' ... So I figured I'd do three episodes like he did and end up on 'David Letterman.'" After winning the show Fator actually had to turn the Letterman gig down four times before he could appear. "My schedule got so packed, and it broke my heart every time I had to turn him down," Fator says.

When Fator first came onstage judge David Hasselhoff said "Oh, no, a ventriloquist." "I was thinking, there's no way I would win," Fator says. "I gave myself zero percent [chance]." The judges, Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne and David Hasselhoff loved Fator and he won the competition. Judge Piers Morgan told Fator "You’re a great impersonator, a great singer and a great comedian." "You put a twist on the whole being a ventriloquist thing," added Judge Sharon Osborne. Even Simon Cowell approved. "Simon Cowell said I was one of the top two entertainers on the planet," says Fator. "And getting a compliment from Simon Cowell, well, not many people get a compliment like that."

After Fator won the $1 million prize, he bought his wife an expensive wedding ring and a dream house in Trophy Club, Texas near Dallas, Texas.