• Epic 'Hobbit' Flight Safety Video Debuts On Air New Zealand
    It's called "The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made," and for once the word "epic" isn't being misused.

    Air New Zealand's new in-flight safety video was created with help from some of the team behind the "Hobbit" film trilogy, and even includes a few appearances from members of the cast and crew.

    Sylvester McCoy (a former Dr. Who who plays Radagast the Brown), Dean O'Gorman (the dwarf Fili) and Elijah Wood (Frodo in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, who has a few brief appearances in "The Hobbit" films) all help explain airline safety in just about the most epic way possible.

    There's an orc, a giant eagle, a wizard, elves, dwarves, a battle scene and an appearance by Peter Jackson, director of both "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" trilogies. Much of the video also unfolds over the Middle Earth locations seen in the films.

    Variety reports that Weta Workshop provided the costumes, makeup and prosthetics, while Weta Digital did the visual effects. Both companies created the effects for the "Hobbit" films.

    The safety video was directed by New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi.

    Like "The Hobbit" films, the epic safety video is part of a trilogy of its own. In 2012, before the first "Hobbit" movie reached theaters, the airline released a not-quite-as-epic air safety video featuring members of the cast. And last year, the airline unveiled a clip called "Just another day in Middle Earth," which was tied to the second film.

    The final film in the big-screen trilogy, "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," hits theaters on Dec. 17.

  • Costumed Characters Brawl On Hollywood Boulevard As Mr. Incredible Fights With Batgirl
    A woman dressed as Batgirl was allegedly attacked on Tuesday by a man dressed as Mr. Incredible. The incident, which occurred on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles, was apparently about a turf war, and part of the brawl was caught on video.

    The footage shows Freddy Krueger, Chewbacca and Waldo trying to break up the fight, which eventually spills out into the street. At one point, Mr. Incredible breaks free and appears to slam Batgirl to the ground in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre.

    The FilmOn.com production company was shooting nearby and caught some of the attack on video.

    The fight continued until passersby intervened.

    A man dressed as Spider-Man told KTLA that the fight began when Mr. Incredible accused Batgirl of standing too close to him.

    The costumed characters often compete for tourists' attention -- and tips -- on the crowded sidewalk.

    The good ones, we’re stationary, we’ll stand against the curb, people come to us,” a Batman told CBS Los Angeles. “But the bad ones they roam up and down, so they cross paths or they target the same people, and then they get into each other. It’s less now because we have a lot more police presence here since last year, and it has made a difference. It’s not cleaned up yet, but it is getting better.”

    The Los Angeles Times said police reported no arrests or injuries when called to the scene. However, police told CBS that after seeing the video they may follow up.

    The fight has a Los Angeles city council member considering a push for new regulations on costumed characters, according to Westside Today.

    Some of the other costumed characters told KTLA that Mr. Incredible is no longer welcome in the area.

  • 'American Horror Story: Freak Show' Episode 3 Recap: Carny Tales
    *** WARNING: Contains spoilers! Please do not read on unless you've seen Episode 3 of "American Horror Story: Freak Show," titled "Edward Mordrake (Part 1)." Or if you don't mind spoilers, go right ahead! ***

    Tonight's episode was a talky one, wasn't it? The past two instalments of "American Horror Story: Freak Show" have been fast-paced and jam-packed, and we've been treated/subjected to gruesome murders at the hands of Twisty. Tonight was more about storytelling, building the foundation for what's to come. We're also introduced to three new characters and given Ethel's messed-up backstory in full detail.

    You can tell the powers-that-be behind "AHS" have learned a thing or two from "Coven." Where "Coven" was more of a throw-s**t-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach, it's apparent that "Freak Show" is working to establish more of a thorough story, with character depth and interlacing stories, no matter how ludicrous some may be. In this particular instance, they're sacrificing some of the artifice and going for substance. So tonight we get not one but two genuinely touching moments -- Dell and Ethel bonding over a flask of hooch and Ethel thanking the doctor for showing her respect. Unusually heartfelt for "AHS."

    "Freak Show"s answer to Papa Legba (sigh, remember Lance Reddick in that costume? And those red contact lenses?) is Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley). We're told the "carny tale" of his sorry life, of his imprisonment in an asylum after his second face drove him mad, and how he hung himself after murdering a bunch of other freaks. The tale passes the absurdity line when Ethel tells the rest of the crew that if they perform on Halloween, Mordrake is summoned and takes another life. At first I thought this makes absolutely no sense, but then I remembered this is "AHS," and the only way to approach the ridiculousness is to shrug your shoulders and just accept it. One thing I will not and cannot accept, however, is Bentley's British accent. Sorry, dude. Come to think of it, I'm not even 100 percent sure he was supposed to be British.

    Two-face Mordrake is a cool concept, but it's too bad they decided to make him a ghost character. It would've been more exciting to see him truly interact with the others as a live human rather than some top hat-wearing agent of death. Also: not enough of that second face. More, please!

    Esmerelda and Dr. Mansfield ("doctor") as freak curators are a more interesting pair. Emma Roberts has shed the bitch persona in order to inhabit this more innocent, good-hearted character, and I already like her nerd chic infinitely more than her witchy Madison. Denis O'Hare, as always, plays the creep/opportunist with aplomb, and he's got something up his sleeve pants. (Does anyone have any creative guesses as to what it is? I'd love to hear them in the comments!)

    Things between Bette and Dot are getting worse. They share a dream/nightmare about Dot getting Bette's head removed from the body, and when they wake, the gloves come off and we see that Dot has absolutely no qualms about murdering her conjoined twin in order to live a better life. The stage is set here for one of them killing the other, though as I said last week, I predict that by the end of "Freak Show," both Bette and Dot won't be alive. Either one living while the other one dies is too easy. A jealous, power-hungry Elsa is also on the periphery, and I'd say that she's a bigger threat to the twins than anybody else. (She's also a threat on stage. Zing! Lange singing Lana Del Rey was the stuff of dreams.)

    And we can't ignore the larger, looming threat: Twisty and his new minion, Dandy. Dandy's become even more unhinged -- especially after Gloria gives him a Howdy Doody costume to wear -- and he crafts his own creepy clown ensemble. Slow clap to "Freak Show" costume design for making two very different freaky clown costumes. In this case, the clothes do not make the murderer, as Dandy is too weak to kill Dora. He doesn't get a chance to kill Twisty's captives, either (would he have? I doubt it), as the clown arrives home with a new victim before he gets the chance. Methinks it's only a matter of time before Dandy graduates to full murderer; something needs to push him over that edge, and it just might be killing Twisty and taking his throne.

    We'll see next week, when Part 2 hopefully draws to a more exciting finish.

    Freak Of The Week: Edward Mordrake wins solely for how awesome the concept of his freakdom is. Weirdly, his second face reminded me of Kuato from "Total Recall" -- the second time that movie has had relevance in the context of this show (the first for the three-breasted woman).

    Random Thoughts:

    • So Ethel is "not the one." Who is? Who will Mordrake take with him to add to his dead body collection?


    • I received some emails and read all of your comments about Kathy Bates' accent. I will readily admit I've never been to Baltimore, so I've never heard anyone speak with this accent before. Mea culpa. All of you seem to think she's nailed it, so I have no choice but to agree with you.


    • Your accent may suck, Wes, but you're rocking those mutton chops like no one's business.


    • Can we talk about Angela Bassett (a.k.a. "Triple Tits") in that hot maid outfit? Dayum, girl.


    • Suddenly Viking helmets are in high demand for kinky sex play.


    • Pour one out for Meep, Jimmy.


    • A thing in life I never thought I'd see: legend Patti Labelle dressed up as Woody Woodpecker. Stevie Nicks as a witch is nothing now.


    • I think we can safely say that clowns are pretty much ruined for everyone now. Even that little girl's older brother (and eventual abductee) dressed as a clown was freakin' scary. People in the near future will probably wonder how anyone thought they weren't absolutely terrifying in the first place.


    • "Freak birth." Just no. Never even want to think about that scene again.



    "American Horror Story: Freak Show" airs on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST on FX and FX Canada.

    Episode 2 Recap
    Premiere Recap




  • 'The League,' Season 6, Episode 8 Recap: Man Land
    The drinks are flowing at Gibson's, like always, and everyone's hating on Kevin. Pete's feeling really pleased with himself, not only for having his prank with Andre's cat go swimmingly, but also because he's renamed his team "The Shitheads," in light of last week's frozen poo debacle. Kevin's ego is super bruised after literally having his wife's crap on his face and it's only about to get worse. His father-in-law is comin' to town.

    Andre runs into Russell at Gibson's and the two are rude to the bartender because he can't seem to say "Cabernet Sauvignon" correctly. I can't say I particularly blame them for doing so but the bartender was so not having it so he kicks the two out. As such, this is catalyst behind Andre and Russell's newest joint venture: a wine bar. We already knew Russell was a nymphomaniac-cum-sommelier but I'm DYING to see Andre's new doctor-cum-fashionisto-cum-sommelier persona come to light. Let the Riesling flow!

    Jenny's dad Bruce is a big, bald bully and he comes into town to pick on Kevin with guns a-blazing. He worships his daughter, naturally, but thinks Kevin -- and the rest of the gang -- are all "ninnies." I just want to point out that I hate the word "ninny." It's awful and sounds like something a third grader raised only by octogenarians would use as an insult. Moving on, Bruce is persistent in his widespread emasculation of the entire group and Kevin attempts to stand up for himself. This backfires when Bruce says the only way to prove that they're all not "ninnies" is to go hunting with him in "man land."

    The group - sans Andre - has suited up in their best rustic/camp attire and traveled with Bruce up to "man land." Their journey begins with a leisurely hike to the camp ground where we learn Ruxin was a boy scout, a factoid that quickly earns him Bruce's respect much to Ruxin's chagrin. Rafi randomly appears in a bush because he's been tracking Kevin, another thing that earns Bruce's respect. Rafi and Bruce tap guns in a bizarre "man land" equivalent to a high five. The men arrive at the grounds and set up their respective tents, a sight that looks extremely sad when you realize that grown men were in charge. Kevin's freaking out about the lack of cell service, Ruxin can only remember how to tie a windsor knot, and Rafi's eating bear poop nuggets. Bruce says they can all go to a bar later and that seems to cheer everyone up. Except for Rafi, who was and still is content with his "snacks."

    O MAN LAND 570

    Back at home, Jenny has her real estate hat on and is wine bar shopping with Andre and Russell. They love the first place Jenny shows them and are extremely excited to sign the docs to get the wine flowin'. "Menage A Cinq" is the prospective name of the bar and I'm honestly surprised that Jenny is surprised that they would name their bar "The Fiveway." It's more than fitting.

    At the bar in "man land," Kevin's jazzed about the wifi situation and the boys make moves to set their lineups for the week. In yet another argument about Pete's team "The Shitheads," things escalate veeeeeeery quickly. Pete and Kevin start yelling about the Redskins, which causes an angry Native American man sitting at the bar to intervene. This new argument is made worse by a poorly crafted "rights of passage" speech by Bruce, then by Ruxin, and lastly by Taco. Everyone makes a break for it when the Native American man pulls a knife and Bruce shoots a gun in a strange "Anchorman"-esque showdown. They run into the woods, unsure of where to go or what to do.

    Andre and Jenny are having a wine night at the McArthur house in celebration of Menage A Cinq. Jenny is less than thrilled about Andre's desire to have girl talk. He vents his frustrations about Milady and Russell. He also questions Jenny on her interest in sodomizing Kevin. Annoyed and disgusted, Jenny gives Andre advice and even helps him approve a trade with Russell. Aw, you girls keep me young.

    O BEAR SCARE 570

    The guys are freezing in the woods and you'd think they were in "Angela's Ashes" with how they're acting. Bruce says they should huddle for warmth and Kevin's continuing to be a little bitch about everything. Rafi's being extra disgusting this episode, in addition to his shit-eating, and offers to give Kevin a "mouthful of not-milk" before bed. Oh okay, Rafi, that's an okay thing to say. After SOMEHOW making it through the night, Ruxin ties up Pete to his own shoelaces and no one knows where Kevin is. Taco spots a massive bear making its way towards the group and no one knows what the hell to do to fend it off. Out of nowhere, Kevin appears and screams and flails in front of the bear. He effectively scares the bear off and wins the approval of Bruce. Hurray for Brian!

    Unfortunately, the gang is still lost and doesn't know how to get back to the truck. Fortunately, Taco is still an idiot and is the group's personal Hansel because he's left a trail of coins behind him wherever he's traveled. They follow the coin path to the highway and are met by a passing car that happens to have the Native Americans they fought at the bar the night before. The Native Americans agree to not hurt the guys as long as they drop all Redskin players from their lineups. Ooof. Right in the jugular.

    Andre and Russell are signing the closing papers for their wine bar, despite the fact that Russell is basically doing nothing to provide for it. Jenny half-heartedly attempts to get Andre to realize this partnership is uneven but to no avail. Andre almost pulls out of the closure when he realizes his trade with Russell this week was a terrible decision. Russell doesn't even bother trying to defend himself but he doesn't particularly need to when Andre sees all the dropped Redskin players on the waiver wire. Andre's lineup is saved and the closing papers are signed.

    O MENAGE A CINQ 570

    Kevin and Bruce return from "man land" and head to the McArthur household. They greet Jenny as new friends and Jenny is taken aback by Kevin's new manliness. Bruce expresses his approval for Kevin and Kevin takes the opportunity to scoop Jenny up and carry her into the house. Sexy time is clearly about to go down but not before Kevin breaks the fourth wall and addresses himself to the camera as Brian. And, I have to say, Brian is definitely sexier.


    THINGS TO NOTE:

  • Andre's scarf.

  • "Would a ninny open his own wine bar that sells crepes and canapes?"

  • JENNY BANGER.

  • "Where are all the men?"

  • "I shaped a lot of boys with these hands."

  • Cheetah parlor?

  • "Are we not in America anymore? AWESOME."

  • "I've got a real hunting boner."

  • "Five grapes, fourteen holes."

  • "The white man's plague." "Typhoid?"

  • "Our trophy is actually a little Indian girl and if you win, you get to do whatever you want with her for a whole year."

  • "Are you and tall guy lovers?"



  • Keep up with "The League" recaps here every week. "The League" airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FXX.

  • 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Trailer Has No Strings
    The first trailer for "Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron" leaked online on Wednesday evening. But in a baller move presumably out of Tony Stark's playbook, Disney and Marvel decided to combat the breach by releasing the official teaser in full, one week before it was scheduled to debut. (The studios had planned on premiering the initial "Age of Ultron" trailer on Oct. 28 during an episode of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.") Not that this wouldn't have been worth the longer wait: The trailer introduces the villainous Ultron (voiced by James Spader), offers glimpses of new superheroes, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and even provides a first look at Andy Serkis' mystery character:

    O AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON TRAILER 570

    The Avengers are present as well, but the big takeaway is Ultron's killer closing line: "There are no strings on me." Yes, we'll see you at the movies on May 1, 2015.

    O AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON TRAILER 570

  • Still They Rise Against the Machine
    For the last 15 years, Chicago's Rise Against has been bringing a fury and thunder to punk and rock and roll. This past year, the band released seventh album, The Black Market to critical and commercial acclaim and scored their second No. 1 Billboard Top Rock record. With their relentless touring schedule, Rise Against show no signs of stopping and prove that like a fine wine, they are getting better with age. I spoke with singer Tim McIlrath about their history, work ethic, new album, and the responsibility a socially aware band has to their audience.

    Rise Against have been going strong since 1999 and have seen all aspects of the music industry, as you get older, what advice would you give for someone wanting to start a band today?


    The business of music was the furthest thing from my mind when I started writing and playing music with my friends. Focus on your music and your band and who you are, the industry is a moving target that changes every year.

    What did you do on The Black Market that you haven't done before?

    We really tweaked the guitar tones and some of the themes on the record. We used a program to help us use more of the analog signals, an amp called the Kemper which houses many different amplifiers in one, and we used bridge called the Evertune that helps keep our guitars in tune, which freed up a lot of time to be more creative and worry less about the technical aspects. All of those are kind of nerdy musician things, but they helped us make the record the best it could be.

    The band has had a revolving door of musicians over the years, how do the line-up changes affect the band's style and sound?

    A new band member can bring new energy into the band and breathe new life into something. When you remove the elephant in the room, you change the dynamic and open up new channels that then affects the creative process. The songwriting has always been predominantly Joe and I, and the lyrics have always come from me, so that signature has always been there, but nobody plays guitar like Zach and nobody plays drums like Brandon. We all help arrange the songs and find their flow.

    The Black Market is one of the few Rise Against records where the same line-up has appeared on the last three albums. How is the relationship within everyone in the band?

    We're firing on all pistons and having a lot of fun out here.

    You have said that making The Black Market you didn't have a lot of the lyrics written yet as the music was coming in. Has this been a normal practice for the band in the past?

    That's pretty normal for me. I used to write a lot more before the music but now I let the music come first and get a feel for the song and the mood and that helps shape the content. This record evolved as we made it and I wanted to capture that evolution.

    One of the many things I have loved about this band is how you shift from bone crunching, loud, intense guitars and drums to the acoustic records where, in many ways, weighs just as heavy on the listener. Has the band ever toyed around with the idea of making an all acoustic album?

    We haven't really considered it but we've never ruled it out either. I just released an acoustic cover of Gun'n'Roses "Civil War" for a compilation called This Concerns Everyone, where each artist covered a protest song using one instrument and their phone.

    Seven albums in, which record means the most to you and why?

    The Black Market is really important to me because it looks inward a lot, instead of outward like we have in the past.

    Political activism and social stances have always been at the forefront of Rise Against, yet, in a day and age of social media, it seems as if less and less artists are lacking the balls to say what they feel out loud. However, you still stay true to who you are. Why do you think we are seeing a decline in artists like yourself?

    The artists that speak about ideas of change and awareness are out there if you look hard enough. Music has become very careerist and a bit like a pyramid scheme that focuses on success, and the rules tell us that taking stances alienates audiences. We never really cared about that, though we also never thought we'd still be here standing this many years later. We're proof that you can speak your mind and still reach wide audiences.

    As we speak, Ferguson, Missouri, which is not that far from where Rise Against comes from is on fire. What is your take on that situation?

    Violent police reactions to containable situations in low income neighborhoods is far too prevalent in this day and age. Racism isn't over. Black lives matter. People in power need to be held accountable when they abuse that power.

    Your live shows are known for their chaos and intense performances from both you and the fans, what happens as soon as you step off stage and the show is done? How do you unwind from those gigs?

    We each have our own ways, but I like to hop in a shower and stay away from the backstage madness for as long as I can before I step back into it. It's a meditative moment, and recuperation, and a transitional thing. A lot of adrenalin and emotions are coursing through you at that time, it takes a long time to come down.

    A longer version of this interview appears on Officially A Yuppie

  • Open Letter to Kanye West: Ferguson Is Happening. Where Are You?
    Dear 'Ye,

    You have spent much of your career defying naysayers and the standards people have set for you. You refused to be intimidated by guys on the South Side of Chicago for your creativity. You broke free of being only a producer when you proved Jay Z wrong and became one of the biggest names in rap music. When music executives tried to control the content of your music, you released the now-infamous "Jesus Walks." When Nike would not give you creative control over Yeezys, you took a deal with Adidas instead.

    You are, by definition, defiant. And I love that about you.

    Many in our community applauded your gall to stand on national television next to Mike Myers and utter seven words that shook the nation: "George Bush doesn't care about black people." We praised your courage in the wake of the United States' failed response to Hurricane Katrina that ultimately resulted in the loss of many lives. You articulated the pain behind the tears many of us cried.

    Despite criticism of your "Kanye rants," people listen when you speak. Regardless of your delivery, many of us find value in your statements on classism and institutionalized racism. Your voice elicits responses from fans and critics alike.

    Having said that, Ferguson is happening. Where are you?

    I am deeply troubled by your sudden quietness in the midst of such powerful youth activism against police brutality and state violence. The killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has awakened a movement that even garnered responses from protesters in Palestine and Hong Kong, protesters who are fighting for their own just causes in their homeland but found a connection to the injustices that blacks face in the United States.

    Yet you are silent.

    Other members of the black entertainment industry have contributed in various ways to support the social movement that has erupted in Ferguson. John Legend, Jesse Williams, David Banner, Lupe Fiasco, Killer Mike, Outkast, J. Cole, Pharrell, and Tef Poe, to name a few, have voiced concerns and offered solutions and words of encouragement, and some have even participated in protests. Common, during a performance of his song "Kingdom" on the 2014 BET Hip-Hop Awards, was joined onstage by Mike Brown's parents, provoking deafening silence in the venue, and Talib Kewli protested in the streets of Ferguson alongside other activists.

    Yet you are ghost.

    Fans have waited to hear from two of music's biggest stars, Jay Z and Beyoncé. Unfortunately, I do not expect them to use their success as a platform to overtly address current prejudicial injustices in the black community. It would be uncharacteristic of them to suddenly staunchly shoulder this responsibility, given the cowardice with which they have broached the subject in the past.

    You are different. You have set a precedent onstage and in interviews on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Breakfast Club, and let us not forget the "How Sway" moment on Sirius XM, when you unpacked being a black face in the white space of the fashion industry. I commend your work with Donda's House and the Common Ground Foundation in addressing the challenges and violence that Chicago youths face, but you appear to have lost your voice on this rather grand social movement around Ferguson.

    But this is not only about you, 'Ye, or your absence from the discourse on Ferguson as some of your peers rise to the occasion. This is about the fact that without Harry Belafonte, Nina Simone, Sidney Portier, Ruby Dee, Muhammad Ali, and so many other black entertainment activists, you, Jay Z, Beyoncé, and other black entertainers today would have likely fallen particularly short of your success.

    Last year Harry Belafonte made this statement about today's black entertainers and their participation -- or general lack thereof -- in the struggle for justice in black communities:

    I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyonce, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you're talking. I really think he is black.


    There was a more noble time when, among black entertainers, the label of "activist" was not only embraced but expected. Celebrities did not appear to be more concerned with keeping endorsement deals than addressing the chokehold of white supremacy on black lives. Black entertainers did not possess the privilege of ignoring community problems, because they were equally susceptible to brutalization, marginalization, and discrimination. Black entertainers did not use economic privilege to distance themselves from plight in the black community; instead, it was a powerful instrument in political agenda-setting and the initiation of change.

    Action by black entertainers should in no way be mistaken for a substitute for the fervor needed from the masses to carry out the arduous task of combating institutionalized racism and discriminatory barriers. But I challenge black entertainers to join us in shouldering the responsibility of mobilization for social justice -- the way civil-rights activists of the past feverishly did, setting the tone for us.

    You said, "No one man should have all that power."

    I believe no one man should waste all that power.

    With love,

    Janessa E. Robinson
    A fellow Chicagoan -- "till Chicago ends, till we blow like Chicago wind"

  • This Viral Short Film In India Makes A Strong Statement On Women's Safety
    WASHINGTON -- Can India, a country struggling to combat an increasingly high-profile rape culture, envision a society where women feel safe in the company of unknown men?

    A new short film on women's empowerment, "Going Home," urges its audience to imagine such a place, focusing on a young woman who stumbles upon a group of men after her car breaks down late at night. Starring Alia Bhatt, a rising actress in India's film industry, the video was posted to YouTube last week and has since gone viral with nearly 2 million views.

    The film opens with Bhatt driving alone at night on a deserted road. Moments after she tells her concerned mother over the phone that she will be home in 10 minutes, Bhatt's car breaks down. As she vainly tries to restart the car, an SUV with five men lurks in the distance and eventually pulls up next to her.

    Bhatt approaches the men herself to ask for help. Unable to resolve the issue with her car, she asks the men for a ride home. She makes it unscathed, even though the tension in the five-minute film suggests the men might attack her at any moment.

    The film closes with the text, "Can we give her the world that she believes exists?"

    Watch the film above.

    It's a simple question fraught with complications in India, where the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus in 2012 sparked a national outcry and protests demanding an overhaul of the country's sexual assault laws. Frustration over politicians' refusal to take action appeared to reach a fever pitch this year, when rape emerged for the first time as a wedge issue in India's general elections.

    Although Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to make violence against women a core piece of his agenda, women's rights advocates have launched a series of campaigns to ensure that the issue is not forgotten.

    "Going Home" was released in collaboration with #VogueEmpower, a social awareness initiative launched this month by Vogue India to place a national spotlight on women's empowerment. The film's director, Vikas Bahl, said he wanted the audience to "visualize a utopia for women, where, unlike today, mistrust and fear don’t dictate actions and decisions."

    For that reason, it is Bhatt in the film who seeks help from the men on her own terms. She hugs the strangers goodbye when they drop her home, thanking them profusely and even blowing them a kiss. The men, for their part, say nothing -- although they appear to be gesturing among themselves about the attractive, young woman they've stumbled across. They certainly ogle at Bhatt, who is wearing a leather skirt, tank top and heels.

    The men almost seem dumbfounded that Bhatt is so trusting of them, but that drives home the director's point. A woman's actions, or what she is wearing, should simply not be up for debate when the subject is sexual assault. It's the behavior of men, particularly in a country inclined to blame the victim at the highest levels of authority, that should be scrutinized and reformed.

    The same approach drives another short film under the #VogueEmpower campaign, "Start With The Boys," released on Tuesday. It features an endless series of adults scolding boys, from the moment they are born through adolescence, for crying.

    "Boys don't cry" and "stop crying like a girl" are common phrases in India, and according to the film, render women inferior in the minds of young boys. The film closes with a man suppressing his tears and taking his anger out on a battered woman. Alex Kuruvilla, managing director of Condé Nast India, said the film was inspired by actress Susan Sarandon's comments to "start with the boys" at an Indian film festival last year.

    "The idea of the film is centered around the fundamental truth that women's empowerment is not about women alone, which is why I pledged to create a short film that communicates clearly the need to change the mindset of boys before they become men," Kuruvilla said.

  • Movie Review: John Wick...Ouch!
    Lordie, lordie what an ex-hit man won't do for the love of his dog. Keanu Reeves is back in this slam-bam-thank-you-mam kind of violent, IMAX, computer game film with witty dialogue. As bloody as this film is, it is funny. Great dialogue at bizarre moments keeps you on the edge of your neighbor's seat. If there is too much blood, you can always go to the loo for some relief.

    This film is about revenge. And after John Wick, who is a retired hit man, witnesses his dog killed by some sod, you just want him to get all of those cruel, sadistic S.O. B.s. His wife is murdered in the opening and she has sent him a dog to remember her by. Well, who knows who sends the dog, but a note from her accompanies the dog even though she is dead.

    Now if you think written apologies are the solution for vengeance, this is not your film. John Wick is a wild west, let's put guns, knives, bullet proof vests on our bodies and get the creeps who 'done us wrong' John Wick's motto. He has tried the world in which violence is swept under the anger and does not agree with forgiveness. No. He is going to get 'em. At all costs. And a new dog, too.

    And you will root for John Wick who has been trying to lead a clean, normal life after apparently being a premiere world renowned hit man. This is an action, adventure film with a limited plot, but creative visual effects that make the action vivid and visceral.

    Directed by David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, the rest of the cast stars Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen and Willem Dafoe who is always menacing, but not always in such a small part. John Wick needed more Dafoe. Derek Kolstad wrote the thinnest story line ever, but hip dialogue. Adrianne Palicki plays hitwoman Ms. Perkins with real gusto and John Leugiziamo and Ian Shane again are in too brief roles as their acting is top notch. Clearly this is a Keanu Reeves vehicle and no other star is going to get in his way. Or else! Basta. End of him, them and the film. If blood, guns, violence is not for you, It is no surprise that John Wick will be a playable character for the game Payday 2, complete with his own perk tree, notably giving the ability to dual wield gun. This film is pure merchandising. So buy the game and skip the film, if knitting is more to your liking. Or a good book.

  • Taylor Swift Unveils '1989' Tracklist
    Taylor Swift finally debuted the tracklist for "1989," due out Oct. 27. Earlier this week, a version of the tracklist leaked online, but the only differences were where a few songs stood in relation to one another. The first song, "Welcome To New York," came out on Monday, and Swift debuted pieces of "Style" and "How You Get The Girl" in recent Target and Diet Coke spots, respectively. Thus ends the great "1989" speculation game of 2014.

    The full track list. #TS1989

    A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on



    [Photo via @taylorswift]

  • The Kinetic Presence of Alexis Gregory

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    Alexis Gregory (photo by Jay Barry Matthews)



    Alexis Gregory is one of the most electric and versatile young actors working today. As a favorite in seminal British filmmaker and playwright Rikki Beadle-Blair's Kick Off, FIT and Stonewall, Gregory has created characters who combine intense vulnerability and steely strength with a healthy sprinkling of sexiness and ruthless pragmatism. As Beadle-Blair might put it, Alexis Gregory knows how to be "in the room."

    When asked how he got into the acting industry, he says he found his agent at the age of 15 and got to work immediately amassing an impressive résumé in film, TV and commercials. "Looking back," he says, "I can see that as a child, I made it all happen. I was a determined young thing when I wanted to be."

    This determination helped him create his most challenging role to date, a feisty transgender woman named Dominique, in his play Slap, which was performed at Theatre Royal Stratford East and showcased on Channel 4 as the channel's first-ever on-site theatrical presentation. Regarding his professional experience as an openly gay actor, Gregory says that "it doesn't come without complications or hurdles, but I am very honest in my work as a writer, and in my own life too. I couldn't do it any other way at this stage. I have struggled with it in the past, though, and have had to go on my own journey with it all, as well."

    This journey has led him to write and perform the lead role in his second play, Bright Skin Light, which is currently in development. The piece is about a gay son reunited with his gay father, who abandoned the family 20 years earlier. It is a play that examines the early years of the AIDS crisis in London and current responses to the virus, as well as themes of art, family, love, addiction, loss and redemption, set over the course of a morning in a critical-care unit in a London hospital.

    "I am also developing Safe," he says, "a piece of verbatim theater for the Albert Kennedy Trust, which is a charity that supports homeless and at-risk LGBT youth. The piece will be made up of the actual words spoken to me in the interviews, including those of a trans woman whose story of survival is quite astonishing; a gay trans man who is not only having to learn to navigate society as a man now but as a gay man too; and also a young Nigerian-born gay man who, when living over here with his family, was outed to them and had to escape from being sent back to Nigeria for 'curing.'"

    When asked whether he feels that there is still a long way to go for gay actors and performers in the UK, his answer is yes. "Obviously it's getting better," he says, "but being out and gay can stop you getting auditions for straight roles, and I have actor friends who are advised by industry figures to stay in the closet and not post pictures of themselves with their boyfriends on Facebook. It is a complicated issue, though, and I am by no means pointing a singular finger at the industry. I think you just have to get on with it and do your own thing. I have been writing about a world that I inhabit and my own take on it, and this is what has got me noticed as a writer, so I have no complaints. Embracing and writing about my truth has opened doors for me. I hope it continues to do so."

  • 22 Ryan Reynolds Moments You May Have Forgotten
    Nowadays, Ryan Reynolds is one half of a crazy-cute Hollywood couple, but Ryan first found fame in the '90s, long before he became Blake Lively's significant other.

  • Chef Duff Goldman's 7 Simple Ingredients to Running a Successful Biz
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    You probably know chef Duff Goldman from his very successful cake show, Ace of Cakes and irreverent style as one of The Food Network's biggest stars. But you may not know about Duff's humble beginnings as a creative but troubled youth looking for an outlet for his talents.

    Watch this episode and get Behind the Brand with one of the most entertaining and insightful entrepreneurs in the cooking space...



    Here are the 7 simple ingredients I learned from Duff about how he turned a little start up idea into a thriving international business:

    1. Don't overthink your business or idea.

    When Duff was thinking about starting his company, he asked his dad who has a graduate degree from UCLA about how to run his new cake biz. His dad said, "Sell a cake son, start from there." In other words keep it simple. Don't get into the analysis paralysis rut. Get busy. Do good work. Prove the model. Rinse and repeat.

    2. Be fearless.

    Duff explains being fearless like the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner at times. You have to be willing to give it all you've got and not worry that you might get hurt once in a while in pursuit of your goal. Be willing fail but always come back for another fight if you get knocked down. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Don't panic about what you can't see around the corner. And definitely don't fret about stuff that hasn't happened yet.

    3. Live within your means.

    Duff bootstrapped most of his early days baking and running his biz out of his small apartment. He spent $2,600 and bought his first large mixer AFTER-- not before, he sold his first big cake order. When that mixer broke with only limited use, he also learned that it's cheaper to by the $6,000 mixer once vs. the cheaper version 4 or 5 times a year. Duff said, "If you can't afford it, you don't need it." I see too many start ups waste money on swag and t-shirts with their logo on it when they should be banking that cash or spending it on good people or things they really need.

    4. Make great stuff.

    Seems obvious by it's not always the case. Duff said that no matter how great the product or experience was last month, he's always judged by the last cake he makes. In his case, a sub-par product will literally leave a bad taste in mouth of customers and that's the quickest way to go out of business.

    5. Be kind to people.

    This one seems like a no-brainer but so many companies seem to get this wrong. Why is the cashier or customer service counter person usually the lowest paid and most disrespected? Is it really a surprise that they are so angry when I bring in a return? Why is it so difficult to get through to my cell phone or cable TV provider when I have a problem? Duff said that being kind also applies to treating your employees with the respect they deserve. Take care of the people who take care of you. But also be nice to people who seemingly can't do anything for you. This is the higher law but part of being a good human being. We can probably all afford to be a little more kind to each other, no?

    6. If you feel capable of doing something, do it.

    Why do most people get stuck? Is it fear of what others will say? Fear of failure? Not trying something just because you've never done it before is a terrible excuse. If you think you can, weigh the risks and rewards and determine whether or not you should give it a shot. I'm guessing more often than not, we could figure it out if we really put our heart and mind into it. Duff was asked to make a life-size cake in the shape of an elephant. That was his first one. But he felt capable of pulling it off and so he did it. Think about it. Everyone starts out as a novice or amateur. The experts are the people who started with the desire to try and either studied or practiced (aka failed) enough until they got it right. Side note, this is why I'll never get laser surgery on my eyes from a new doctor--he hasn't had time to fail enough to master his art.

    7. Beware of shame tactics.

    There will be critics everywhere you go. Your friends. Your family. You might even be your own worst enemy. Steve Pressfield calls this "the resistance." The voices in your head that try and convince you that you're somehow not enough. Author Brene Brown writes extensively about what shame looks and sounds like. Does any of this sound familiar? "What gives you the right to..." "Who do you think you are..." What qualifies you to...." and other nonsense. Just because you failed once, doesn't mean you'll fail the next time. The opposite is also true. We can't let fear block us from our goals. Remember what Steve Jobs and others have said about this-- "the people who think they are crazy enough to change the world are the ones that usually do."

  • Chris Martin And Gwyneth Paltrow Figured Out The Whole Divorce Thing
    Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow may have figured out the whole divorcing thing ... figured it out better than most, because they still genuinely seem to have affection -- if not love -- for each other.

  • Anne Hathaway's Hair Is Getting Longer
    We haven't seen Anne Hathaway on the red carpet since the 2014 Met Gala in May, and it looks like the actress is taking on a new style!

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