Salma Hayek says animation key for ‘Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’

LOS ANGELES (Reuters): Salma Hayek’s feature film “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” opens in US cinemas next month and the actress and co-producer says that animation was key in adapting the 1923 book for the screen. The movie, which draws on the Lebanese writer’s poetic essays, tells the story of a headstrong girl, Almitra, who makes friends with poet Mustafa - in jail for his work which has been deemed dangerous. Hayek, who also provides the voice for Almitra’s mother, Kamila, told Reuters the story was best told through animation. “You can express more in a sensation through the art and the music and the poetry,” she said at the film’s premiere in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. “The movie is about freedom, and animation gave us the freedom to be more faithful to the theme of the film.” Academy Award nominees Liam Neeson and Quvenzhane Wallis provide the voices of Mustafa and Almitra in the film. Hayek, whose grandfather was Lebanese, travelled to Gibran’s birthplace, Bcharre village, in April to pay tribute. “It is such an iconic book,” she said.

“It has sold more than 120 million copies around the world. It is so beloved, so it was important to get it right.” “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” opens in New York and Los Angeles on Aug 7. A wider US release is set for later in the month.

Clarkson leads ‘Top Gear’ team to Amazon for new show

LONDON (AFP): British television presenter Jeremy Clarkson, dropped from hit BBC motoring show “Top Gear” for punching a producer, will make a new series about cars for Amazon Prime, the streaming service announced Thursday.

Clarkson will reunite with his two “Top Gear” co-stars, James May and Richard Hammond, for the as-yet unnamed show, which is due to begin filming “shortly” and will be broadcast next year, US retail giant Amazon said. An estimated 350 million viewers around the world tuned in to “Top Gear” each week to watch the three men review cars and try them out in madcap stunts, making it the world’s most popular factual television programme. Much of the appeal for fans was Clarkson’s straight-talking, “man of the people” approach, but critics condemned him as a boorish bigot and he was an increasingly controversial figure even before the altercation with a producer in March.

Clarkson reported himself to BBC management after admitting to shouting at and hitting Oisin Tymon, giving him a bleeding lip for which the producer sought hospital treatment. The BBC subsequently announced it would not renew Clarkson’s contract, while May and Hammond also left the broadcaster. “I feel like I’ve climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship,” Clarkson said on the announcement that the trio would be filming three seasons of a new show for Amazon. May added: “We have become part of the new age of smart TV. Ironic, isn’t it?”

Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer and Prime, an Internet streaming service similar to Netflix, offers subscribers access to thousands of films and television shows, including original content.

The BBC announced last month that it would continue with “Top Gear” with BBC radio presenter Chris Evans as the lead presenter. Production is due to start within weeks.

Imbruglia opts for ‘male

company in new album

NEW YORK (Reuters): After a six-year hiatus, singer Natalie Imbruglia returns to music with a new album, her fifth, a compilation of tracks originally sung by men. “Male” features covers of songs such as Cat Stevens’ “The Wind”, Tom Petty’s “The Waiting”, Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” and The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love”. “The female artists, for some reason, it felt more scary and like a direct comparison,” Imbruglia told Reuters. “I think when you flip the attractiveness ... it’s instantly a different interpretation because we’re coming from different places emotionally. I just found it more fun.” The Australian native and British citizen, also an actress, became known for music with hit single “Torn” in 1997, which earned her a Grammy Award nomination. Her last album “Come to Life” was released in late 2009.

“It became not just about who you like but being smart about ... what suits your voice and what you can give credit to. So that helped with my song choice,” she said of “Male”. “I’m a romantic and I love these kind of songs. I wanted to do something very organic, very classic production, no electronic sounds and very vocally driven. And these songs lend themselves to that vibe.”

The track Imbruglia says she is most proud of is “The Summer” by Josh Pyke, mainly because it was tough to sing. “The guy doesn’t take a breath. So I’m proud of the fact that I was actual able to do it,” she said. “I think it turned out beautiful and it reminds me of Australia.” The 40-year old calls “Male” personal and intimate and “not a trendy album of the times”. “It’s more classic and for people who like my voice really because it’s so vocally driven,” she said. “If you don’t like my voice you will hate the album.”

Freeman, Jack Black

back nuclear deal

WASHINGTON (GM): Morgan Freeman, Jack Black \nd Natasha Lyonne are urging the US public to support President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. The actors have teamed up with anti-nuclear organisation Global Zero to pledge their support for Obama’s long-awaited deal with Iran, which aims to prevent the Middle Eastern country from developing nuclear weapons. It needs to be passed through Congress in September (15) and the stars have appeared in a video asking the U.S. public to put pressure on politicians to vote in favour of the deal. Freeman says, “The agreement currently on the table is the best way to insure (sic) that Iran doesn’t build a f**king bomb... and the alternative to (diplomacy) is war... and s**t, we’ve got a deal on the table that keeps us all safe.” Lyonne adds, “Do me a favour, OK, don’t let some hot-headed member of Congress screw that up”, and Black says, “Playing politics with our national security is actually not all that funny”.