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Monday, April 30, 2012

Media Man News Update - 30th April 2012




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Casino controversy continues...

Affluent Chinese tourists are a significant component for James Packer’s hopes to construct a second Sydney casino at Barangaroo.

Mr Packer has found opposition to his plans for a second harbour-side casino in the form of Tourism Queensland chairman, Don Morris.

Consumer research provided by Tourism Australia supports Mr Morris’ claims that Chinese tourists are not visiting Australia just to gamble and visit casinos.

“Our traditional European, British and US markets have long been seduced by the uniqueness of Australia's easygoing, class-free culture. And the Chinese are the same, with this research ranking 'laid-back and easygoing' as their key motivator for visiting Australia, after safety,” Mr Morris told The Australian.

Mr Packer disagreed and said that without proper infrastructure, accommodation and entertainment “we will not get the tourism growth Australia deserves”.

He has support from Tourism Australia chairman and Crown board member Geoff Dixon.

“The Crown, Burswood and Star complexes are a lot more than casinos; they are integrated resorts that provide some of the best restaurants, convention and meeting facilities in Australia,” Mr Dixon said.

“To get very desirable venues you often need revenues from casinos."

Mr Packer said the rising middle class tourists spread throughout China and Asia “wants luxury hotels, great restaurants, high-end retail and an entertainment experience which usually includes the opportunity to have a gamble”.

Mr Dixon agreed claiming “they [high-end Chinese travellers] want all the things our research says, such as the environment and good food, but also many of them do desire the opportunity to visit casinos”.

Despite his lack of encouragement for a second Sydney casino, Mr Morris supported Mr Packer’s suggestion of a new hotel in Sydney.

“A new major Sydney hotel of the superb standard of Melbourne's Crown Towers would provide a vital and overdue tourism impetus to Sydney and benefit immensely the entire Australian tourism sector.”


The Darling in Sydney wins Best New Hotel Design at Asia-Pacific International Hotel Awards...

Sydney's new 5 star hotel The Darling, designed by Cox Richardson Architects has won the Best New Hotel Construction and Design 2012 at the Asia-Pacific International Hotel Awards in Kuala Lumpur.

The Star commissioned renowned building corporation, Brookfield Multiplex, to interpret and execute the designs by Cox Richardson Architects, to produce a contemporary hotel integrated within the existing complex.

The Darling has been designed as a stand-alone hotel, with its own arrival experience, amenities and alluring personality. It is the first five-star new build hotel in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games.

Two-part in its design, The Darling has a distinctive inverted glass tower resting on a sandstone podium and features 171stylish and spacious rooms and suites, an infinity pool and a luxury 16 room spa. The Darling is also home to Sokyo, an exciting new contemporary Japanese restaurant and bar.

Echo Entertainment Group CEO, Larry Mullin said the industry award is recognition of The Darling’s distinctive design and a tribute to the hard work and dedication by a strong team of builders, designers and visionaries.

“We are very proud to receive this prestigious award and I would like to thank everyone involved, including our partners, Brookfield Mulitplex, Cox Richardson and Laurence Lee.

“We set out to create an iconic hotel at The Star that was sympathetic to its surroundings, while breaking the mould in terms of design and construction. The result we think is an innovative and aesthetically beautiful building that appeals to business and leisure travellers looking for something different to chain hotels.”

The International Hotel Awards recognise the most outstanding hotel projects across Asia Pacific which have been singled out for their green credentials, excellent architectural merit and design. Eighteen different countries took part in this year’s competition with judges reporting keen competition across the board.

Located on the edge of Sydney’s harbour and a key feature of The Star’s $870 million redevelopment, The Darling Hotel and Spa features 171 rooms and suites complete with views of the harbour and city skyline. The rooms and suites are designed to feel like a home away from home for both business and leisure travellers.

Built in addition to the existing hotel and apartments, The Darling brings the total rooms and suites at The Star to over 650 across three towers.


Poker Legend “Amarillo Slim” Preston Passes Away...

In saddening news from the state of Texas this morning, 1972 World Series of Poker Championship Event victor, four-time WSOP bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Fame member “Amarillo Slim” Preston has passed away after a lengthy illness. The legend of the poker world was 83 years old.

Last weekend, Preston was entered into hospice care, battling cancer and heart problems. Buoyed by several friends in the poker community, including his old “road gambler” running mate Doyle Brunson, Preston seemed to improve over the past week. The announcement of his passing was provided to poker player Scott Clark, who also stated that full details regarding the passing of a poker legend would come later today from the family.

Born Thomas Austin Preston, Jr., in Arkansas in 1928, the man who would become “Amarillo Slim” was known for his propensity to make outlandish prop bets as well as his tremendous skills on the felt. Joining up with Brunson and another former World Champion-to-be, Brian “Sailor” Roberts, the trio would tour the Southwest as the original Texas “road gamblers,” traveling to poker games to make a living. Although the trio would eventually break up their partnership (after they lost their bankroll in Las Vegas, a story told by Brunson in several arenas), they would continue to remain friends and earn their legends during the early years of the World Series of Poker.

“Amarillo Slim” first earned attention during the 1972 WSOP Main Event, taking down the championship for his first ever bracelet. He was able to parlay that victory into a celebrity status, appearing on talk shows including The Tonight Show and movies to promote the game of poker. He would also continue to excel on the tables, taking three more WSOP bracelets, with his last victory coming in 1990 in a $5000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament.

Preston was also very influential in other poker endeavors. He was responsible for several poker books, including Amarillo Slim’s Play Poker To Win. One of his most popular literary efforts was his autobiography, Amarillo Slim In A World Full Of Fat People, which he detailed his career on the tables and with his prop bets. As recently as 2007, Preston released an e-book co-written with Joe Brent Riley.

“Amarillo Slim” also played host to the Super Bowl of Poker which, at the time, was one of the biggest tournaments around until it cancellation in 1991. That tournament was won by actor/poker player Gabe Kaplan on one occasion and accounted for three of poker legend Stu Ungar’s ten career victories.

Over the span of his tournament poker career, Preston was able to cash in tournaments around the world. On the WSOP stage, “Amarillo Slim” was able to cash eleven times, with his most recent cash coming in 2007 in the Seniors Event, and was still racking up those cashes as late as 2009, when he finished in fourth place in an event on the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza schedule. Overall, the career earnings for Preston may not be impressive ($587,568, according to the Hendon Mob database), but his overall impact on the game of poker might arguably only be rivaled by Chris Moneymaker’s historic 2003 WSOP Championship victory.

Comments regarding Preston’s passing have poured in across social media. Poker pro Bernard Lee simply stated, “RIP Amarillo Slim, one of the first poker superstars,” over his Twitter feed. Brunson himself recounted a story on his personal blog of a robbery the twosome had gone through in the early 1960s, while others paused for a moment in memory of one of poker’s all-time greats.

Poker News Daily would like to pass along our condolences to the Preston family during this saddening time.

UPDATE: The Preston family has released a statement through Nolan Dalla, the Media Director for the WSOP, stating the following:

“We hope everyone will remember our beloved Amarillo Slim for all the positive things he did for poker and to popularize his favorite game – Texas Hold’em.” (Poker News Daily)


The Avengers versus The X-Men...

In the late '60s, the legendary comic artist Neal Adams was lured by the irrepressible Stan Lee to reinterpret the Marvel comic of his choice.

He chose the then least-successful comic, The X-Men, which the company was phasing out. Lee's response, according to Adams: "Why don't you do the last two X-Men and then do an important book like The Avengers?"

"I actually did 10 issues," Adams says. "It was after those 10 issues that everybody and their brother became fans of The X-Men and every new artist wanted to do The X-Men."

In 2012, the "important" comic finally gets its own movie, with The Avengers finally hitting the screen (after a warmup that included two Iron Man movies, two Hulks, Captain America and Thor). The erstwhile expendible X-Men franchise, meanwhile, will flex its muscles again next summer when Hugh Jackman dons his adamantium claws for The Wolverine. And, not to miss a marketing opportunity, Marvel released an Avengers Vs. X-Men comic book series last month.

Herewith, a thumbnail comparison of the two Marvel franchises on film.

THE AVENGERS

Born: September 1963 in Avengers Comics #1.

Original Members: Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp

Related Movies This Century: Seven (The Avengers, Two Iron Mans, Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America)

Domestic Box Office: $1.26 billion (source: Box Office Mojo)

You Don't Want To Make Him Angry: Hulk

Boy Scout: Captain America

Fanboys Drool Over: Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Brains Behind The Operation (Onscreen): Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)

Brains Behind The Operation (Real life): Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly)

Oscar Cred: Gwyneth Paltrow (won), Robert Downey Jr. (nominated twice), Mark Ruffalo (nominated), Jeremy Renner (nominated twice), Samuel L. Jackson (nominated)

Evil British Actor: Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Best Cameo By Marvel Founder Stan Lee: Tony Stark mistakes him for Hugh Hefner on a red carpet in Iron Man

THE X-MEN

Born: September 1963 in X-Men Comics #1

Original Members: Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast and Iceman

Related Movies This Century: Five (X-Men, X-Men 2: X-Men United, X-Men 3: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class)

Domestic Box Office: $932 million (source: Box Office Mojo)

You Don't Want To Make Him Angry: Wolverine

Boy Scout: Cyclops

Fanboys Drool Over: Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique

Brains Behind The Operation (Onscreen): Prof. Xavier (Patrick Stewart)

Brains Behind The Operation (Real life): Bryan Singer (first two movies).

Oscar Cred: Halle Berry (won), Anna Paquin (won), Ian McKellen (nominated twice), Ellen Page (nominated), Hugh Jackman (hosted), Jennifer Lawrence (nominated)

Evil British Actor: Ian McKellen as Magneto

Best Cameo By Marvel Founder Stan Lee: Hot dog vendor in X-Men; old man watering his lawn in The Last Stand.


Avengers does well at Aussie box office...

The hugely anticipated mega-blockbuster The Avengers has wreaked havoc at the Australian box office, breaking $6 million on the film's Anzac Day opening.

It puts the 3-D action flick at No.2 on the list of all-time best Australian box office openings behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which took $7 million on its first day in July last year.

The Joss Whedon-directed superhero mash-up is now on track to fly past The Hunger Games to be the year’s biggest box office smash.

The Avengers, which features Australian Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, is the latest in a long line of superhero films to come out of the Marvel comics stable.

However, its one day figure easily surpasses the combined individual opening days of each of the the studio's movies — Iron Man 2, which took $1.813 million in 2010, last year's Thor ($1.3million) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($0.86million) and 2008's The Incredible Hulk ($0.37million) for a total of $4.357 million.

It also represents the best opening day for Disney Studios, taking the number one position from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe ($3.5 million).

The film's performance is remarkable given that Anzac Day trading restrictions in Queensland and Victoria meant cinemas could not open until after 1.30pm. And WA is contributing a large proportion of the takings, with Innaloo the third top Event Cinemas location in the country behind Sydney’s George Street multiplex.

Event Cinemas WA area manager Stephen Lamb said Gold Class sessions were sold out weeks in advance and the fight for seats was at Boxing Day levels.

WA Hoyts marketing co-ordinator Alex Biddle also reported bumper sales: "Hoyts Cinemas across WA saw their Xtremescreen and IMAX cinemas teeming with enthusiastic cinemagoers" while Ace Cinemas marketing and promotions manager Karen Smith added: "This film has certainly pumped up our box office and engergised the cinema viewers' batteries."

Senior vice president and managing director of The Walt Disney Company John Cracknell said the success of The Avengers was testament to "fabulous storytelling with a blockbuster cast and world-renowned director".

Whedon is best known as the creator of the cult television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel.

He co-wrote and produced the horror film The Cabin in the Woods, which is due for release in Australia in July. (The West Australian)


Heroic effort as The Avengers tops box office...

Marvel's long-awaited and much-hyped all-in superhero pic The Avengers has recorded the second-highest local one-day haul in history, taking just over $6 million on Anzac Day.

With Joss Whedon at the helm and a budget of around $US220 million, expectations for the film are high, and its Australian result is bound to settle a few nerves ahead of the film's US opening on May 2.

For the record, the film with the highest one-day opening in Australia is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which took $7.092 million on July 13, 2011. But The Avengers pipped it in per-screen terms, taking an average of $9668 on each of its 621 screens, versus Harry's average of $9716 across 730 screens.

Of the top 10 opening days, the best per-screen average remains the $12,336 recorded by Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on 424 screens on December 26, 2002. Adjusted for inflation, that is the equivalent of roughly $16,000 per screen today.

It doesn't have the clout or the saturation exposure of The Avengers, but the week's second-placed film made a very solid bow. The Lucky One is Australian director Scott Hicks' adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' (The Notebook) novel, and it proved something of a lucky charm for him, taking $3.59 million with the week’s best per-screen average of $14,027.

The weepy about an Iraq war veteran (Zac Effron) who goes in search of the woman he thinks magically saved his life also opened strongly in the US, recouping its estimated $US25 million budget in a week. It was a strong start for the Shine director's first film since 2009's The Boys Are Back.

At No. 3 was Battleship, sailing on with $3 million in its second week and a total of $8.4 million.

The Hunger Games did $2.16 million in its fifth week, taking its total to $29.12.
Fleshing out the top five is American Pie: Reunion, which took $2.1 million in its third week for a total of $13.42 million.

Australian Box Office (April 19-25)

1. The Avengers (M) - $6,003,882
2. The Lucky One (M) - $3,586,273
3. Battleship (M) - $3,020,666 ($8,420,129 after 2 weeks)
4. The Hunger Games (M) - $2,160,941 ($29,117,930 after 5 weeks)
5. American Pie: Reunion (MA15+) - $2,152,882 ($13,428,159 after 3 weeks)
6. Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (G) - $2,097,817 ($15,110,737 after 4 weeks)
7. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG) - $1,892,057 ($17,228,059 after 5 weeks)
8. Titanic 3D (M) - $1,402,489 ($6,493,694 after 3 weeks)
9. Pirates! Band Of Misfits (G) - $1,241,266 ($5,963,905 after 3 weeks)
10. Mirror Mirror (PG) - $863,978 ($5,939,508 after 4 weeks)
Source: Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (Fairfax Media)


Out of the picture for Melbourne films...

Melbourne's major film studio has called on the Federal Government to ramp up its support for international flicks shot locally.

Major overseas productions have shunned Docklands Studios Melbourne since 2010’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, as the high Aussie dollar has eroded competitiveness.

Studio chief executive Rod Allan has responded by lobbying the government to increase its location offset rebate from 16.5 per cent of what film productions spend in Australia to 30 per cent, to entice more acclaimed directors, actors and producers to our shores.

Mr Allan said he was hopeful of an announcement to this effect in next week’s Federal Budget.

But a spokeswoman for Arts Minister Simon Crean, Angela Dorizas, did not commit to any increased support when contacted by Leader last week.

Ms Dorizas said the government’s backing for the sector, including the 16.5 per cent offset, was at record levels.

She said the upcoming Hugh Jackman blockbuster The Wolverine would be shot in Sydney - thanks to a one-off payment of $12.8 million to bring it to Australia - leading to investment of $80 million and 2000 Australian jobs.

Despite the recent lack of international interest in Melbourne, Mr Allan said Docklands Studios was busy with television productions and a feature film - I, Frankenstein, starring Bill Nighy and Aaron Eckhart - which qualified as local due to a large contingent of Australians on the team.

“This year has been good. At one point every available space was hired, but the business is naturally cyclical,” Mr Allan said.

Established in 2004 and run by the State Government, Docklands Studios hires out five giant soundstages.

Major international productions filmed there include Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage, and the Steven Spielberg-produced US TV series The Pacific.

TV productions now using the space include Winners and Losers and Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation.

The state’s peak film body, Film Victoria, did not respond before deadline.


Olympics security: surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on the rooftop of apartment block...

Surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on the rooftop of an apartment block in east London as part of Britain's air defences for the Olympics, the country's military confirmed on Sunday.

About 700 people living at the building in Bow - about 3.2 kilometres from London's Olympic Stadium - have been contacted and warned that the weapons and about 10 troops are likely to be based at the site for about two months.

In a leaflet sent to residents, the ministry said the venue offered an uncluttered "view of the surrounding areas and the entire sky above the Olympic park".

Troops plan to conduct tests next week at the building, an upmarket gated apartment complex, to determine if the high velocity surface-to-air missiles will be stationed on a water tower attached to the site's roof.

Britain has previously confirmed that up to 13,500 troops are being deployed on land, at sea and in the air to help protect the Olympics alongside police and security guards.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts will also be on duty as part of the security operation.

"As announced before Christmas, ground-based air defence systems could be deployed as part of a multilayered air security plan for the Olympics, including fast jets and helicopters, which will protect the skies over London during the games," the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

"Based on military advice we have identified a number of sites and, alongside colleagues from the Metropolitan Police, are talking to local authorities and relevant landowners to help minimise the impact of any temporary deployments."

However, the ministry insisted that "no final decision on whether or not to deploy ground-based air defence systems for the games has been taken".

Resident Brian Whelan said those who lived at the site were wary about the plan.

"From the few people I've spoken to, and the security we have here, they're not happy about it," he said. "I don't think it needs to be here at all."

The leaflet insisted there would be no hazard to those living in the building.

It said the missile system would be "only authorised for active use following specific orders from the highest levels of government in response to a confirmed and extreme security threat". (AP)


Paul Orndorff Slams Bret Hart, Warrior, Ric Flair & More...

"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff was a guest on Inside The Ropes' 15th episode, where he talked about several topics and slammed a few legendary wrestlers. His interview stars 42 minutes, 20 seconds in.

On facing Ric Flair for the NWA World Title in 1982: "He was just another body. Some are better than others. I believed in making it look real. I was probably hard to work with because I wanted it to make real and I knew how to wrestle."

On working the first Wrestlemania in the main event: "It was special. There were so many people. It was the largest crowd to ever watch it. And then the pay per view of it was just ungodly. This was my opportunity to be really noticed and be seen. My paycheck….it was huge. I made more money in that 30 minutes than I did in a whole year with the NWA. People expected it and they were gonna get it from me."

On working with Mr. T: "I wasn't crazy about it. I was very protective WrestleMania 1of the business. I was taught that. You take care of it. You don't give out all your trade secrets. But then again you look at somebody like Ric Flair and you can say how can you hide something when they look like that? So I guess I started to give in a little bit."

On the transition in WWF from wrestling to entertainment in the 1980s: "It depends on your personality. I protected it. To me that wasn't protecting it. As you can see right now, because they didn't protect it, where it is now, there's only two shows now. Look how many there was, there was one in every state, now look where it is."

On Vince using bigger guys like Warrior: "I thought it was the worst move they could've made. Vince did it on purpose. He did it so he could be the only one."

On Warrior: "He never paid his dues. You gotta pay your dues, go and learn your trade that'll make it better when you are on that big stage. It's called experience and nobody has any now, because there's nowhere to go to get it."

On giving the belt to smaller stars like Savage and Bret: "No. Absolutely not. It's like putting the belt on someone who wants to be a wrestler. It didn't work. It downgraded, made the belt worthless. When Terry Funk, Harley Race had world titles, it meant more."

On the rumor that Hogan wouldn't drop the belt to Bret in 1993: "I don't blame him. I wouldn't have either. Bret Hart was a nobody from Canada and Hogan was the greatest star in wrestling. I don't blame him. He did the right thing."

He also gave some quick fire thoughts on several wrestlers:
-Ultimate Warrior: "I gotta go to the bathroom………………..NEXT!"
-Vince McMahon: "One of a kind."
-Hulk Hogan: "Great."
-Bret Hart: "I don't care much for Canadians."
-Randy Savage: "OK."
-Ric Flair: "A Joke."


WWE News: Big WWE Network updates - no timetable for launch, McMahon addresses current standing & challenges, will PPVs move to Network?, specific shows in the works...

WWE remains unsure when a proposed WWE Network will launch and what form the Network will take.

During the annual shareholders meeting Friday, WWE executives fielded numerous questions related to the Network. Near the end of the Q&A, WWE CEO Vince McMahon was finally asked point-blank when the Network will be launching.

"That's a really good question," McMahon replied. McMahon then repeated WWE's stance that they want to make sure they "do it right" by exploring all of their options with a traditional cable TV model versus a hybrid model incorporating newer media.

Specifically related to when the decision will be made, McMahon said, "An announcement is forthcoming." After a pause, McMahon said, "In other words, I don't have that answer."

McMahon suggested earlier in the meeting that WWE could launch a cable-specific Network right now, but the volatility of the market and "times being different now" makes them more cautious to continue looking into other Network options.

"We're close to closing - if we wish - a linear network. We can do that," McMahon said. "We can also look at other opportunities at the same time that might be better for us, but, then again, it might not be."

One investor offered three proposed alternatives to a traditional cable TV network that included a suggestion for PPV event distribution through GFL.TV, a YouTube model alternative, and an a la carte offering online.

WWE CFO George Barrios replied that their research shows TV viewing behavior is still ahead of online/new-model consumption by a ratio of 5:1 hours. He said consumers may supplement their TV viewing on smart phones and other devices, but they still watch TV at a high rate, which is why they continue to pursue a traditional cable TV network model.

-- Another major aspect of the Network discussion centered on whether PPV events will be offered on the Network, as has been rumored over the past year. McMahon was vague in response, saying, the Network policy "may or may not include PPVs." He added, "It's certainly a factor we're considering."

The topic was also looked at from a different angle when a shareholder asked about offering current PPV events in a season pass form to curtail lower PPV buys for non-WrestleMania events. McMahon said, "That's a possibility," before noting PPVs could be part of the Network package. However, the key for WWE would be knowing when to pull the trigger on changing the PPV model and whether it's feasible to include PPVs on the Network.

-- Some of the key phrasing WWE used was their belief that they can drive the current WWE audience to a Network and that there is strong demand for more WWE content, which would be made available through a Network. "Give audience more of what they want," McMahon said. WWE did not provide supporting evidence for their belief that there is more demand for more content, though.

-- Asked of WWE Classics-on-Demand will go away when the Network launches, McMahon said it most likely will. Earlier in the meeting, WWE management stressed they are creating new shows based on their tape library.

-- Two shows WWE stressed for the Network were a show based on the Monday Night Wars and a WWE Countdown show, which WWE is currently pushing in new DVD releases.

Link: WWE's full shareholders meeting can be viewed at this link from WWE Corporate (Pro Wrestling Torch)


HULK HOGAN Take My Naked Ass Off the Internet!!!...

Hulk Hogan is freaking OUT over screengrabs of his alleged sex tape that have leaked onto the Internet -- and now, the wrestling legend's taking legal action ... sending in his lawyer to clean up the XXX mess.

The black-and-white pics -- which appear to show a naked Hulk doing the nasty with an unidentified female -- surfaced on TheDirty.com last week ... and more pics followed.

But Hulk isn't taking the affront on his knees -- unlike a certain unidentified female -- in fact, his lawyer just fired off a cease and desist letter to TheDirty.com editor Nik Richie, demanding Nik take down the pics forthwith ... or face a lawsuit.

The lawyer writes, "As you know, should a sex tape or photographs of Mr. Bollea exist, they were taken without his consent and therefore the same would constitute a felony in the State of Florida."

We're told Nik and TheDirty.com have no plans to remove the pictures in question. Stay tuned ... (TMZ)


Lakshmi Mittal retains tag as richest man in Britain, tops Sunday Times Rich list...

LONDON: It's not a good year to be in metals,mining or owning football clubs. Lakshmi Mittal, who still retains his tag as the richest man in Britain, topping the annual Sunday Times Rich list, is GBP4.8 billion poorer than he was last year, with his wealth estimated at GBP12.7bn - the main reason, a Eurozone crisis that has eroded the share price of Arcelor Mittal.

Anil Agarwal, Vedanta's promoter, has seen his position dropping from 12th place to 26, thanks, again to dropping share prices that's seen his wealth erode by GBP1.5 bn. Ravi Ruia, who entered the list last year at number 12, has also seen his share price bomb, and in 2012 clocks in at 33, with his wealth almost halved by GBP2.9 bn to GBP 2 bn. The newspaper noted that Essar Global, which was valued around GBP 5.4 bn in 2010 when it floated, is now valued at GBP 1.6 bn.

The only Indians who have seen their position going up are Sri and Gopichand Hinduja, who last hit the headlines for buying a palatial mansion at Carlton Terrace, within a stone's throw of Buckingham Palace in Pall Mall, who are now estimated to be worth GBP8.6bn, up by GBP 2.6 bn from last year. It puts them at the 4th place in the top 1000 rich list.

Anurag Dikshit, the reclusive, Gibralter-based former owner of poker site Partygaming, makes it to the number 3 in the top philanthropy list in 2012, with recent donation of GBP 23.4 million to his charitable trust in India, Kusuma, in addition to the GBp 172 million he gave away last year, reducing his personal wealth to a mere GBP 35 million.

In the top 50, another Indian who's seen he's position rise is Ajay Kalsi, of AIMS-listed Indus Ind Gas, who at number 42 has significantly crawled up the ladder from number 58. The newspaper attributed this to share prices holding up despite the recession.

Of the other top 3, though, Alisher Usmanov, the Russian mining tycoon best known for his recent acquisition of Arsenal football club, has also lost wealth, as has Roman Abramovich, the oil mogul best known for his ownership of Chelsea football club, has also lost money.


SkyCity holds winning hand, say Oz analysts...

SkyCity's controversial expansion plans have not dented its share price - nor the view taken of the business by three Australian-based professional investment experts.

Not only are analysts picking better fortunes for the gaming business, but their latest market research out this month on four ASX- and NZX-listed gaming industry businesses showed they had rethought the longer-term outlook for SkyCity's earnings.

They picked it as the best performer on a profit revision basis, piling on more money than the other three.

Shares are still rising despite the business suffering a backlash against its $350 million offer to build an international convention and exhibition centre in Auckland's Hobson St in return for Government permission to have more gaming machines.

The company, with a market capitalisation of $2.2 billion, is trading at $3.81, below its $4 two-year high but well above the $3.30 of last November.

Deutsche Bank Markets Research's Mark Wilson, Daniel Pi and Anthony Hanna revised up their SkyCity earnings estimate forecasts by 2 per cent, the highest for any of the Australasian stock exchange-listed gaming businesses.

Instead of making $145.4 million net after-tax profit in 2012, $150.7 million in 2013 and $164.9 million in 2014, SkyCity will make $145.8 million, $153.6 million and $168.1 million, they predict.

They advise investors not to sell, issuing a hold recommendation on the stock because they believe it has good potential - although they have not gone as far as issuing a buy, which they have on the giant Melbourne and Perth Crown.

Some of the risks and rewards of buying shares in SkyCity are major capital expenditure projects with the benefits the business has gained from recent main gaming floor refurbishments, they say.

Changes to the regulatory environment, movements in the New Zealand and Australian dollars and changes to the New Zealand economy, particularly household disposable incomes, are also singled out for mention.

Auckland accounted for 60 per cent of the group earnings, they said, exposing the business to booms and busts in one area.

"SkyCity's earnings are sensitive to movements in the Australian dollar given the translation of earnings from the Adelaide and Darwin casinos," said the analysts, who used various financial metrics to give a favourable review of the business, benchmarking it against gambling rivals Aristocrat, Crown and Tatts Group.

Crown owns and operates two of Australia's leading gaming and entertainment venues: Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne and the Burswood Entertainment Complex in Perth.

Aristocrat Leisure makes and sells gaming machines and supplies gaming systems, table gaming equipment and other services for casinos, clubs and hotels. Tatts provides leisure and entertainment products and services to the Australasian gambling industry and has investments in overseas businesses.

Nigel Morrison, SkyCity's chief executive, has wanted to expand Auckland because he says international gamblers, particularly from Asia, do a circuit of major Australasian casinos. (New Zealand Herald)


Bwin.party Commits to Teradata to Drive Single Customer and Operational View...

Online gaming and sports betting leader will use advanced data warehouse system to integrate its customer base, strengthen analytics and improve BI performance...

LONDON, April 24, 2012 -- Teradata (NYSE: TDC), the analytic data solutions company, has agreed to a deal with Bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plc, the world's largest listed online gaming company, to supply a new, high-performance enterprise data warehouse solution.

Based in Gibraltar and listed on the London Stock Exchange, Bwin.party is one of the largest online gaming operators. It was created in March 2011 through a merger Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and PartyGaming Plc.

The agreement will see the Teradata Database and a Teradata integrated data warehouse platform implemented across Bwin.party's gaming and sports customer bases to create a single customer view across all gaming verticals. In turn, this will enable Bwin.party to segment its customer base and target marketing campaigns more effectively based on previous customer activity.

In addition to facilitating essential financial reporting across the joint organisation, the new integrated Teradata solution is expected to strengthen the data analytics used for essential campaign planning, reduce operating costs and contribute to an easier-to-use and maintain business intelligence environment.

"Data analytics are essential to our organisation," said Bwin.party's Group Technology Director Tod Martin. "We believe that the new Teradata solution will be extremely effective in consolidating data generated by our joint organisation, whilst providing the platform for better reporting analytics and insight."

Current planned developments include the provision of a more widely-available self-service Business Intelligence model across the wider organisation.

"We are delighted that Bwin.party has chosen the latest Teradata integrated data warehouse platform," added Teradata Corporation Area Vice President, UK, Chris Armitage. "The technology is well-placed to help drive business performance and consolidate key performance indicators across the organisation."

About Teradata Teradata Corporation (NYSE: TDC) is the world's leading analytic data solutions company, focused on integrated data warehousing, big data analytics, and business applications. Teradata's innovative products and services deliver data integration and business insight to empower organizations to make the best decisions possible and achieve competitive advantage. Visit teradata.com for details.

About Bwin.party Bwin.party digital entertainment plc (LSE: BPTY) is the world's largest listed online gaming company. The Company was formed from the merger of bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and PartyGaming Plc on 31 March 2011. Incorporated, licensed and regulated in Gibraltar, the Group also has online poker licences in France and Italy. With offices in Europe, India, Israel and the US the Group generated total pro forma revenue of euro 816.0m and pro forma Clean EBITDA of euro 199.3m in 2011. Bwin.party operates one of the world's largest online poker networks, www.PartyPoker.com and also owns the World Poker Tour. The Group's scale, proprietary poker software, online gaming platform and strong portfolio of games collectively differentiates its customer offer from those of its competitors. Bwin.party is a constituent member of the FTSE4Good Index Series, which identifies companies that meet globally recognised corporate responsibility standards.


bwin.party will go social in 2012...

bwin.party digital entertainment plans to launch into the social gaming sector this year.

Commenting on the company’s financial results for the full year 2011, co-CEOs Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger said: “As integration projects are completed, we are channelling more resources into driving innovation across the business and through new channels including our proprietary mobile gaming platform. We are also extending our reach into new areas of digital entertainment such as social gaming, where we see significant potential.”

bwin.party reported a 0.2 per cent increase in total revenues to €816m for the year ended December 31, 2011, and it remains “on track to deliver approximately €40m of synergies this year and €65m in 2013." The growth in casino and games, as well as slight improvement in sports betting revenues, made up for a decline in its poker and bingo offering.

Looking ahead, Ryan and Teufelberger said they expect to gain competitive advantage this year from additional scale and improved flexibility, which will flow from the integration and migration of the company’s main products to a single technology platform. The company will also add more casino games and continue to improve its poker and bingo offerings.

They continued: “We have secured strong business partners in the US ahead of any regulation there and have also applied for a licence in Spain, which is expected to regulate in the second quarter of this year. In Germany, we have applied for a gaming licence in Schleswig-Holstein, the only EU-compliant licensing regime available.” (Intergame)

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Australians gather to remember Anzacs - 25th April 2012

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Tens of thousands of Australians have gathered at war memorials across the country for dawn services to commemorate Anzac Day.

The services mark the 97th anniversary of the first landings by Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli in 1915.

Tens of thousands of people have gathered for services in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Hobart and other towns and cities.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard will attend the dawn service at Gallipoli later today.

Tens of thousands of people attended the dawn service at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance despite rain and cold conditions.

Afghanistan veteran Colonel Jason Blain spoke not only of the importance of remembering the old Anzacs but also the new ones and the more than 3,000 personnel currently serving abroad.

"They're the ones with the responsibility to protect all that our nation holds precious," he said.

Around 6,000 people gathered at Sydney's Martin Place for the dawn service at the Cenotaph.

Humble beginnings

The crowd listened to the history of a tradition which started in 1927 when five servicemen noticed an elderly lady laying a wreath at the Cenotaph and asked to join her in her prayer for her son.

In Brisbane, Queensland Governor Penny Wensley paid tribute to Australia's war dead while a lone piper played as hundreds of wreaths were laid around the eternal flame.

The dawn service at Canberra's Australian War Memorial was told that love has been the driving force behind the sacrifices of Australians in armed conflicts.

"I'm talking about love, a determined love that lies deep within the heart and minds of a person and is the driving force of their actions," Lieutenant Colonel Philip Cairns of the Salvation Army said in his commemorative address.

"For our soldiers it may have been expressed in words such as love for their country, or love for their families, or love of the freedom that is the hallmark of our nation."


Recent dead

Three Townsville soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan in the past year were remembered this morning in the city's Anzac Park.

Brigadier Shane Caughey told the service that communities like Townsville were only too aware that 12 soldiers had been killed in action since Anzac Day last year.

"Young men who last year may have well stood next to you at this gathering or played a game of two-up with you have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation," he said.

Anzac Day marches will take place across Australia later today.

General Peter Cosgrove, who heads the NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council, said he was encouraged to see so many young people at dawn services.

"Anzac Day is a national day, and I am really uplifted by the way younger Australians are inquisitive to know what it's all about," he said.


Heading to Gallipoli

Ms Gillard will lead the annual Anzac Day dawn ceremony at Gallipoli before a crowd of thousands of Australians and New Zealanders.

The Prime Minister will deliver a speech that describes the Australian sacrifice at Gallipoli as "Australia's first act of nationhood in the eyes of a watching world".

And while the battle was ultimately lost, she will say that no shame, only pride, can exist for Australians at Gallipoli.

She will says that unlike their French and British comrades - who had won battles at Waterloo and Austerlitz during the Napoleonic wars - the Anzacs had no such honour to defend.

Coachloads of Australians and New Zealanders have filled the surrounding towns of Eceabat and Canakkale ahead of the service.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Paul Murphy has accompanied Australia's most recent Victoria Cross recipient, Ben Roberts, to the Gallipoli battleground known as The Neck.

"It hits home when you visit a place that's not much bigger than a tennis court where Australians were pretty much slaughtered," he said.

"It's pretty hard to put it into words when you see the piece of ground."

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Marvel Entertainment: Wolverine Clawing Up Hollywood Comic Movies; Thanks Australian Government

Marvel Entertainment: Wolverine Clawing Up Hollywood Comic Book Movies; Thanks Australian Government; Marvel Comic Book Fans And Australian Film Industry: Excelsior!...

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Movies Hollywood Marvel Entertainment Marvel Studios Marvel Comics Fox Studios Japan Sydney




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Australia's favorite son, Hugh Jackman, is returning back down under to Australia to make The Wolverine, his sixth showing as the Marvel Comic book adapted character, thanks to a whopping $12.8 million federal government subsidy.

And while referred to as "one-off", the local film industry is hopeful that the near-doubling of the standard assistance for a big-budget foreign production is a sign of things to come in next month’s budget.

The Wolverine is set in Japan but will be shot at Fox Studios in Sydney between July and December. Hugh Jackman will star and produce.

“It’s so great to bring these big movies down there, to keep people working,” Jackman told the Today program from London, where he is doing Les Miserables for Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech). “I just have to say thanks to Prime Minister Gillard, she was instrumental with this.”

Ms Gillard and Arts Minister Simon Crean jointly announced on Friday "a one-off payment" that provides Marvel Entertainment, the Hollywood producers of The Wolverine, a 30 per cent rebate through the tax system on production expenditure in Australia. "Without this … the producers of The Wolverine would not have chosen Australia as the location," their statement disclosed.

They claimed the subsidy would generate "over $80 million of investment in Australia and create more than 2000 jobs".

But local industry figures are hopeful the "one-off" caveat could soon be lifted.

"It’s a positive step for us, it shows the government’s willingness to look at the proposed increase to the location offset," said Debra Richards, chief of Ausfilm, who is responsible for atracting big-spending foreign productions to Australia.

Ausfilm and others have been lobbying the government for an increase in the foreign location offset for the past three years as the strong Australian dollar and competing incentive schemes offered by more than 40 states within the US and countries such as the UK, Canada and even Malaysia combine to make Australia too expensive for big-budget foreign productions.

The offset was introduced in 2001, at 12.5 per cent. At the time, the Australian dollar was worth about 50 cents. In 2007 it was increased to 15 per cent as a number of other territories copied, and often bettered, Australia’s incentives. Last year it was increased to 16.5 per cent.
The industry is seeking an increase to 30 per cent, and is understood to have backing from both sides of politics because big-budget foreign productions are seen as important in training and retaining technical personnel.

Crucial to the case it has taken to government is the argument that the cost to government will be relatively low as Australia is unlikely to be inundated with big productions. “It won’t be opening the floodgates,” said Ms Richards. “There’s a natural capacity here in terms of personnel and facilities.”

Sources suggest that capacity might be one large production per annum in each of Queensland (Warner studios), NSW (Fox) and Victoria (Melbourne Docklands Studios).

Docklands boss Rod Allan welcomed the news with both cautious optimism and regret.

"I think it’s terrific the federal government is willing to look at a one-off production offset and I hope that’s an indication of its willingness to look at the offset generally,” he said.
“I’d have preferred Wolverine to have come here, but now the Sydney studios are tied up for the rest of the year we’re in a great position to compete for other projects."

Asked if the decision foreshadowed an announcement on the offset scheme in the budget, Simon Crean’s office replied "the issues facing the screen industry are important to the government and will remain on our agenda over the coming years".

The budget will be handed down on May 8.

In the meantime Australian movie fans, especially those of the superhero genre, are hopefully that the likes of Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics will produce more upcoming movies on Australian soil.

A Media Man agency rep said "Something tells us that not only are fans, Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics watching these exciting developments closely, so are the likes of Frank Miller Inc and others. Australian actors, technical staff, make-up and wardrobe talent, honey wagon operators, the hotel industry, gaming developers and a range of other services companies are delighted with the Wolverine production news, and are hopeful that the Australian government will continue to find initiatives to give the Australian movie business more shots in the arm that it needs".

Stay tuned as we witness the Australian movie sector continuing to claw, kick and scratch its way back to its former glory. As Marvel Entertainment comic icon Stay Lee would say, Excelsior!

The Wolverine comic profile...

Wolverine is a fictional character, a superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Born as James Howlett and commonly known as Logan, Wolverine is a mutant who possesses animal-keen senses, enhanced physical capabilities, three retracting bone claws on each hand and a healing factor that allows him to recover from virtually any wound, disease or toxin at an accelerated rate. The healing factor also slows down his aging process, enabling him to live beyond a normal human lifespan. His powerful healing factor enabled the supersoldier program Weapon X to bond the near-indestructible metal alloy adamantium to his skeleton and claws without killing him. He is most often depicted as a member of the X-Men, Alpha Flight, or later the Avengers.

The character first appeared in the last panel of The Incredible Hulk #180 (his first full appearance is in issue #181, November 1974) and was created by writer Len Wein and Marvel art director John Romita, Sr., who designed the character, and was first drawn for publication by Herb Trimpe. Wolverine later joined the X-Men's "All New, All Different" roster in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975). X-Men writer Chris Claremont played a significant role in the character's subsequent development, along with artist/writer John Byrne, who insisted on making the character older than the other X-Men. Artist Frank Miller collaborated with Claremont and helped to revise the character with a four-part eponymous limited series from September to December 1982 in which Wolverine's catchphrase, "I'm the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn't very nice," debuted.

Wolverine was typical of the many tough, anti-authority, antiheroes that emerged in American popular culture after the Vietnam War; his willingness to use deadly force and his brooding nature became standard characteristics for comic book anti-heroes by the end of the 1980s. As a result, the character became the clear favorite for fans of the increasingly popular X-Men franchise. Wolverine has been featured in his own solo comic since 1988 and has been a central character in most X-Men adaptations, including animated television series, video games, and the live-action 20th Century Fox X-Men film series, in which he is portrayed by Hugh Jackman. In May 2008, Wolverine was ranked #1 out of Wizard magazine's Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time and was ranked as the 4th Greatest Comic Book Character by Empire magazine in July 2008. On their list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters, Fandomania.com ranked Wolverine at #21. In May 2011, Wolverine was ranked 4th on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes (Credit: Wikipedia)





Marvel's IRON MAN 3 to Be Co-Produced in China; The Walt Disney Company China, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment to Bring Super Hero to China...

SHANGHAI & BEIJING & LOS ANGELES, Apr 16, 2012 - The Walt Disney Company China, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment today announced the intention to co-produce IRON MAN 3 in China. Under the arrangement, DMG Entertainment will make an investment in the production of IRON MAN 3, manage the Chinese co-production process, and jointly produce the film in China. The Chinese portion of IRON MAN 3's production will run through DMG Entertainment in coordination with Marvel Studios' production and creative teams. DMG will also distribute IRON MAN 3 in China in collaboration with The Walt Disney Company China.

IRON MAN 3 will be the third movie in the billion-dollar plus franchise from Marvel and stars a returning cast including Robert Downey Jr. (as billionaire inventor Tony Stark) Gwyneth Paltrow (as Pepper Potts) and Don Cheadle (as James "Rhodey" Rhodes). IRON MAN 3 is produced by Kevin Feige and executive produced by Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Louis D'Esposito, Charles Newirth, Victoria Alonso, Stephen Broussard and Dan Mintz. The film is being directed by Shane Black who is working on the script with Drew Pearce. The film releases in the United States on May 3, 2013, and is being distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in all territories worldwide other than in China (which is being distributed by DMG Entertainment) and Germany/Austria (which is being distributed by the Tele Munchen Group).

"The popularity of the Marvel franchise globally creates a huge opportunity to deliver fans yet another action packed film," said Stanley Cheung, Managing Director, The Walt Disney Company, Greater China. "The co-production of IRON MAN 3 in China is testimony to the importance of this audience to Disney and the local industry capability to deliver a blockbuster title," he added.

"We look forward to working alongside DMG to bring IRON MAN to the Chinese marketplace in a significant way. We are confident that Marvel's stories will continue to be enjoyed by Chinese audiences, and adding a local flavor, and working with our new local partner, will enhance the appeal and relevance of our characters in China's fast-growing film marketplace," said Rob Steffens, General Manager of Operations and Finance for Marvel Studios.

"Our collaboration with Disney and Marvel marks a milestone in the global entertainment landscape, as this signifies the first multi-billion dollar franchise to be produced between Hollywood and China," said Dan Mintz, CEO of DMG Entertainment. "The IRON MAN franchise has been a major success worldwide, and we look forward to pushing the series to new heights with IRON MAN 3. The movie will further build upon its compelling storyline, and feature the hottest A-list stars, and spectacular action, which will resonate well both globally and in China, the second largest box office market in the world."

The first installment of IRON MAN lifted off with high-speed, high-flying action when jet-setting industrialist Tony Stark survives an unexpected attack and escapes by building a high-tech robotic suit of armor. When he uncovers a nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armor and vows to protect the world as Iron Man. Straight from the pages of the legendary comic book, Iron Man is a hero who is built--not born--to be unlike any other and made US$581 million at the global box office when released in 2008. Based on Marvel's iconic Super Hero, IRON MAN 2 continued the story of the 2008 summer box office blockbuster IRON MAN, and made US$624 million at the global box office when released in 2010. Now, IRON MAN 3 continues the story with a new chapter that will deliver more heart-pounding action than ever before. Marvel Studios' IRON MAN 3 will find Tony Stark with his back against the wall, facing his most fearsome foes yet.

Shooting is expected to commence in May in the United States and begin location filming in China in late summer 2012.

About The Walt Disney Company in China

The Walt Disney Company DIS -0.45%, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a diversified international family entertainment enterprise with five business segments and is a Dow 30 company with revenues of $41 billion in its most recently reported fiscal year. Disney's first animation screened in China in the 1930s and today our long association continues with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou with over 1000 employees. The Company has a broad range of businesses including publishing, broadcast, mobile, web, retail and its English language program, Disney English, which launched in 2008. Nearly 24 hours of Disney television programming is now available in China every week, reaching 300-360 million people each month. In September 2005, Disney opened its doors to its first theme park in China, Hong Kong Disneyland and in 2011 announced ground breaking for the Shanghai Disneyland Resort, a joint venture with Shanghai Shendi Group.

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of over 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit www.marvel.com . Super Hero(es) is a co-owned registered trademark.

About DMG Entertainment

Founded in China in 1993, DMG owns and operates a premier entertainment company (DMG Entertainment), and an award-winning communications agency (DMG Media), possessing nearly 20 years of experience. DMG Entertainment is a leader in China's film market through the production of a diverse portfolio of commercially driven films, including 2009's The Founding of a Republic, 2010's Go Lala Go!, and 2011's Beginning of the Great Revival, as well as through the distribution of Hollywood titles such as Twilight, Knowing, Killers, Resident Evil: Afterlife, RED, The Eagle, and Priest. DMG Entertainment has also produced Hollywood/China films including Looper set for release in 2012. DMG Media has provided strategic and creative campaigns for international brands looking to connect with Chinese consumers through DMG's all-encompassing platform. SOURCE: The Walt Disney Company China


Madame Tussauds New York Unveil Their Marvel Superheroes Exhibit...

Madame Tussauds New York, USA, has revealed a first look at their new interactive Marvel Super Heroes exhibit, set to open on Thursday, April 26th, just before many of the heroes appear on the big screen in the May 4th release of Marvel's 'The Avengers'.

The new, multi-level experience will feature wax likenesses of The Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and two new wax figures of Captain America and Thor, as well as the Marvel Super Heroes 4D Experience – a new, short film with amazing special effects.

Captain America, as portrayed by Chris Evans in the 2011 blockbuster film, Captain America: The First Avenger, will stand in his patriotic red, white and blue costume, holding his circular shield. Thor, as portrayed by Australian actor Chris Hemsworth in the hit 2011 film, Thor, will wield his mighty hammer, Mjolnir.

“We’re bringing the Marvel Super Heroes that so many of us grew up with to life,” said Bret Pidgeon, General Manager of Madame Tussauds New York. “Marvel fans young and old alike will now have the opportunity to see, interact with and stand alongside their favorite characters.”

The exhibit will lead visitors through a long hallway and downstairs into the secret command center to unlock their powers alongside their favorite heroes. Captain America and Iron Man stand at the ready while Spider-Man crouches, about to spring into action and a 15-foot-tall likeness of The Hulk emerges through a wall into the Gamma Radiation Lab.

Expo visitors will stand at the “Contamination Station” to see if they’ve been exposed to the gamma rays that turned Dr. Bruce Banner into his green alter ego. They will also have the opportunity to wield the hammer Mjoilnir alongside of Thor as he emerges through a portal from Asgard prepared for battle.

“From the pages of our comic books to the big screen and now live in wax – it’s a great thing to see some of our best-loved Marvel characters come to life in this fun and interactive way,” said Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment. "For more than 70 years, Marvel has captured the imagination of fans around the world and we’re excited to be working with Madame Tussauds New York to open this amazing experience for everyone to enjoy.”

The never-before-seen Marvel Super Heroes 4D Experience places visitors in the middle of a Stark Industries press conference. Viewers can not only watch as Peter Parker asks Tony Stark questions, but feel the commotion once the press conference is interrupted by the evil Loki and Dr. Doom. Viewers will feel as though they are joining Marvel’s greatest Super Heroes Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, and Spider-Man to battle their nemeses. Excelsior!

News...

Madame Tussauds recently opened their Sydney, Australia branch, and we understand there's a Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) wax double. Excelsior!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wrestling News Media: 'Wrestlemania' sets PPV record for WWE, Australia; Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Brock Lesnar, Australian Wrestling Promotions

Wrestling News Media: 'Wrestlemania' sets PPV record for WWE, Australia; Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Brock Lesnar, Australian Wrestling Promotions...

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Wrestling fans aka sports entertainment fans out there. Here's your latest fix of pro wrestling news Australian style...

WrestleMania 28 sets PPV record for WWE...

April 1 event drew 1.3 million pay-per-view buys...

WrestleMania 28 set a new record for WWE, generating 1.3 million pay-per-view buys for the event, held April 1 at Miami's Sun Life Stadium.

The company earned $67 million from the event, its largest PPV offering each year. The number combines PPV and live-event revenue from ticket sales and merchandise. Event also set a new attendance record for the stadium, with 78,363 filled seats.

Last year's show, hosted in Atlanta, generated revenue of $35.9 million for the company on more than 1 million PPV buys -- a mark WWE had been keen to reach after years of declines. The 2010 event, from Phoenix, counted 885,000 buys.

The rocket in buys this year is being attributed to the main match-up between Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and John Cena, which WWE promoted for a year.

The Rock was brought in for the mega event, and so was Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker wrestled his first match in about a year, and Chris Jericho returned for a classic WWE Championship match and with CM Punk.

"WrestleMania 28" was available as a PPV event in more than 105 countries.

Australia is understood to have been "An origin of an usually high amount of buys for WrestleMania", according to the Media Man agency commentator, who has been doing the ring around to those in the know.

"WrestleMania 29" is scheduled to take place April 7, 2013, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

WWE Superstar and Hollywood mega movie star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has already committed to WrestleMania 29, and its expected that his likely opponent will be either Brock Lesnar or John Cena, but WWE could throw fans a swerve, with numerous former WWE wrestlers (and other top talent) currently being in negotiation with the company.

Thus far 2012 is shaping up to be an awesome year for WWE fans, and let's hope they keep up the great work.


Australian Wrestling Fans: WrestleMania 28 Foxtel Main Event PPV...

Fans, you did it. We understand WrestleMania 28 was the most popular pro wrestling PPV in terms of buy rates ever for Australia.

In a few short weeks WWE will present its next PPV 'Extreme Rules', headlined by Brock Lesnar VS John Cena, as well as CM Punk VS Chris Jericho (Chicago Street Fight), and Sheamus VS Daniel Bryan in 2/3 falls.

Traditionally, 'Extreme Rules' hasn't been a very popular PPV for the sports entertainment giant, but this years Cena VS Lesnar main event is expected to draw massive interest and numbers.


Brock Lesnar Returns To WWE RAW; Potential WrestleMania 29 Appearance?!

The former UFC Heavyweight Champion has returned to WWE RAW, the night after WrestleMania 28 no less!

The crowd pop was similar in off the planet reaction - not unlike when Hulk Hogan first defeated The Iron Sheik for the title at the world's most famous arena - Madison Square Garden, way back on the 23rd January 1984.

Wrestling experts the world over have been having their say regarding Lesnar's return, with Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor, Dave Meltzer leading the charge as is usually the case...

"Brock will never go full time to pro wrestling," Meltzer said. "Brock will do a WrestleMania for a huge payoff, maybe he'll do two or three more pro wrestling matches and it will wear off."

Meltzer was only half right. Lesnar did not participate at WrestleMania, and but did confront John Cena in the ring and deliver the F5 to him on RAW.

That episode screened on Australian TV via Foxtel's FOX8 last week.


Pro Wrestling In Perth, West Australia...

All Action Wrestling: Anniversary 6 - Featuring Orlando Jordan and Paul London

Western Australia's All Action Wrestling (AAW) presents it Anniversary VI Event April 14 2012. ANNIVERSARY VI is AAW's biggest show ever produced and promises to bring fans in Perth what could be the biggest show in Australian Wrestling History! Two former WWE Superstars in Paul London and current AAW World Champion Orlando Jordan, A Main Event Steel Cage Match, Money in the Bank, and a possable career ending match for Wayne "The Maniac" Mattei! You dont want to miss this HUGE Event!

AAW have announced the following Event Card.

* Main Event *
- STEEL CAGE MATCH
- AAW World Heavyweight Championship -
Orlando Jordan (c) vs "The Australian Sensation" Craven

* International Challange *
Paul London vs James Grace

* Possable Career Ending Match *
Wayne "The Maniac" Mattei vs The Shark
-If Maniac looses he must retire

* Money in the Bank Ladder Match *
JC Blade v Corvus v Joey Angel v Viper v Tyler Throne v Danny Andrews

* AAW Women's Championship *
Imogen Jane (c) vs PWAQ's Storm (with AV)

* AAW Tag Team Championship *
Australia's Most Wanted vs B-Money & Josh Page

* Australian Championship *
Julian Ross (c) vs Casey Hanson

Card Subject to Change without notice.

TICKETS ON SALE NOW AT SHAVER SHOP IN ROCKINGHAM OR ONLINE AT www.allactionwrestling.com​.au
$15 for single or $50 for a family pass (4 People)

LOP will feature the results of the show on April 16.


AWF SUPANOVA MELBOURNE 2012 DAY 1; MELBOURNE, VIC - SAT 14 APR, 2012...

Royal Showgrounds
Melbourne, VIC

2 huge days of AWF - 3 times daily! Will be a massive weekend!!

AWF Wrestling @ Supanova Pop Culture Expo Melbourne
Shows: Sat 14 & Sun 15 April: 12am, 2pm, 4pm daily
Melbourne Showgrounds, Epsom Road, Ascot Vale, Victoria

Details on Supanova Pop Culture Expo & tickets on sale from 1 March can be found at www.supanova.com.au


AWF AUSTRALIA VS THE WORLD; SYDNEY, NSW - SAT 12 MAY, 2012...

Parramatta RSL Club
Parramatta
Sydney, NSW

Australia Versus The World

Saturday 12 May - 7pm
Parramatta RSL, Parramatta, NSW

Best of 7 Australia Vs The World Theme - Will be a great night!

Scheduled Card:
Esteban Molina Vs Iron Ben Coles
Mad Turk Hussain Vs Aussie Ozbone
Apollo Vs Powerhouse Theo
Island Tribe Vs Party Trix
Diego Del Fuego Vs Spaceboy Dacey
Aroura Vs Mighty Mel
TBC Vs Jack Tasman

All ages event - book early and be there!

Keep checking Street Corner, Wrestling News Media and the official WWE network for more on these developing news stories and more.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Sydney Entertainment Centre may be demolished; Profit before people and history, by Greg Tingle

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Let's get one thing clear from the get go... knocking down the historic Sydney Entertainment Centre to make way for a new development is not the same as knocking down or revamping its neighbour across the water - Star City Casino (which become the much nicer 'The Star').

Can you imagine the outrage in the United States if they were to announce a proposal to demolish New York's Madison Square Garden aka MSG.

I bet that is a survey of Sydney-siders, or even say Australians across the board were taken, that close to 100 percent of they would not want the Sydney Entertainment Centre demolished, due to its historical importance to the arts and entertainment industry down under.

"Sin City" Sydney media, especially the arts and entertainment niche, are expected to get all over this topic and the Media Man agency is not going to see this iconic hub of Aussie entertainment die without a hell of a fight.

I don't know about you but the NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell might meet with a tidal wave of opposition against its proposed destruction.

Some of the blub coming out of the NSW Government, no doubt with some cleaver spin added by the proposed developer, goes like this...

The Sydney Entertainment Centre will be demolished and the convention and exhibition centres at Darling Harbour closed for up to three years as the precinct undergoes a $1 billion makeover.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell today announced the development of an integrated exhibition and entertainment precinct in the city's CBD.

The fully integrated convention centre will increase the size of the existing precinct by two thirds to 20 hectares and will include the largest exhibition space in Australia at 40,000 square metres.

"The project will mean a complete face lift for Darling Harbour - as well as the world-class facilities," Mr O'Farrell said today.

Up to 3500 jobs are expected to be created during the construction (but what about the job losses at the Sydney Entertainment Centre)?

The 30-year-old Sydney Entertainment Centre is to be demolished while the exhibition and convention facilities will be closed from late 2013 to late 2016.

The project is aimed at boosting the competitiveness of the major events industry in the state, particularly in terms of the Asia-Pacific.

"They will bring NSW an economic benefit of more than $1 billion over five years," Mr O'Farrell said.

"NSW has already lost $150 million in economic benefit over the four years to 2010-11 because the current facilities have not been able to accommodate 169 conventions and 12 exhibitions," Mr O'Farrell said.

The new facilities will include the biggest meeting room space in Australia at 6000sq m and the biggest Australian convention hall capacity.

There will be a red-carpet premium entertainment facility with a capacity of at least 8000 people, suitable for international entertainment events and 'mega' conferences.

"The NSW government is creating a vibrant world-class convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct at Darling Harbour that will keep Sydney centre stage as Australia's global city," Mr O'Farrell said.

Infrastructure NSW (INSW) will lead the delivery of the new facilities as part of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) tailored for the project.

During the three-year construction period, Sydney's major events industry will remain open for business, Mr O'Farrell said.

Sydney Olympic Park, Moore Park, the Australian Technology Park at Eveleigh and various Sydney hotels will play an expanded role in hosting events during the construction period.

A Media Man agency entertainment commentar was overheard "Just how much money had been dangled in front of the NSW Government to get green light to demolish one of Australia's greatest landmarks. You have the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, Crown Casino, Ayres Rock, and then you have the Entertainment Centre in Sydney. I think its likely that a good chuck of Australia's entertainment industry will be vocal in telling the NSW government to save the iconic entertainment venue. We think another proposal for development of Darling Harbour needs to be executed - one that does not include the destruction of the SEC."

Many folks in the Australian entertainment industry are already telling media that they are not "anti development" full stop - they are just against the part of the development proposal that includes the destruction of one Australia's greatest entertainment and arts landmarks.

Those opposing the development of the Sydney Entertainment Centre are encouraged to be vocal and contact media, their local MPs, Minster of the Arts, and another other Australian government department who will listen to reason.

That's it entertainment lovers. Stay tuned to Media Man and Street Corner for more entertainment news and scoops daily.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Paramount Pictures, YouTube Online Hollywood Movie Rental: Google Play Over Internet; Box Office

Paramount Pictures, YouTube Online Hollywood Movie Rental: Google Play Over Internet; Box Office News; Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Profiles

Movies Hollywood Paramount Pictures Google The Godfather Internet The Rock




It was the offer that the powers that be at Paramount Pictures could not refuse.

Google and the Viacom-owned movie giant have inked a licensing deal that will give viewers in the U.S. and Canada access to hundreds of films, including the popular classics such as The Godfather trilogy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Hugo, reports Digital Journal.

When the news broke Australian movie and technology fans were quick to also request that the land down under also get the service - after all - the internet is supposed to facilitate the flow of information ala Human Rights Commission, but over the past year many Australians have not been able to enjoy the same internet broadcasts and content in general as Americans - movies, games, poker, hard hitting news media websites... you name it. Might be something for Media Sans Frontiers to look a bit closer at. Alas, on with the story at hand...

The catalog of approximately 500 Paramount Pictures released movies will available through YouTube and Google Play for an estimated $2.99 - $3.99 USD according to social media reporting website portal Mashable. HD versions will most likely rent for higher.

Viewers will have 30 days from the time of purchase to watch a movie and 48 hours from the time they begin, to finish it.

The Paramount Pictures movies will be rolled out through YouTube and Google Play over the next month.

Paramount Pictures joins Disney, Sony, Warner Bros., Comcast and Universal in providing movies through the online service. To date, the only media firm holding out is Rupert Murdoch's News Corp-owned 20 Century Fox.

Apple has agreements with all six movie companies to stream and sell digital downloads of movies through iTunes.

Mashable states Google and the movies studios are currently discussing the possibility of also selling the movies through Google Play.

It's yet another foot in the grave for American, Canadian (and perhaps soon) Australian DVD rental outlets - long known for overcharging - late fees or not.

The Media Man agency said "All power to Paramount Pictures, Google, people power and the spirit of internet commerce. As Charles Darwin said 'It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.' The internet movie rental business should test Darwin's theory, and most switched on people will already forecast the outcome. The technology and time is right for this initiative to be turned on globally".


The Hunger Games leads U.S box office for third week in a row...

Movie hit "The Hunger Games" survived fresh competition from the "Titanic" and “American Pie” to mark its third domestic box office win over the weekend.

“Hunger Games” took in $33.5 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters from Friday through Sunday and lifted its domestic sales through three weekends to $302.8 million, according to studio estimates released on Sunday.

The Easter weekend receipts for “Hunger Games” topped “American Reunion,” a sequel to one of film’s biggest comedy franchises, and a 3D remake of “Titanic” timed for the anniversary of the ship’s sinking. It was the third straight box office win for “Hunger Games.”

International ticket sales since its opening reached $157.1 million through Sunday, bringing the film’s combined domestic and overseas receipts to $460 million.

The Lions Gate Entertainment Corp movie about teens forced to fight to the death stormed into theaters on March 23 with a staggering domestic take of $152.5 million, the third-biggest weekend debut and the highest for a non-sequel.

Fan fever, plus a lack of big competitors at multiplexes, has kept “Hunger Games” hot, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com.

“Great word of mouth, coupled with a release date that has given it a pretty open playing field, has allowed the film to effectively dominate the marketplace,” he said.

The movie stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the skilled archer and heroine of the post-apocalyptic story based on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling young adult novel.

In second place for the weekend, “American Reunion” met studio forecasts by ringing up $21.5 million in North America (the United States and Canada). International sales added $19.3 million, for a global total of $40.8 million.

Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp, and privately held Relativity Media co-financed “American Reunion” for about $50 million.

“Reunion” is the fourth movie in the “American Pie” franchise that kicked off 13 years ago with a pack of high-schoolers out to lose their virginity before graduation.

The original film, famous for a scene in which a pie is used to simulate sex, spawned two big-screen sequels and helped lead the way for future raunchy adult comedies. The first three “Pie” films grossed more than $750 million around the world.

In the new movie, the friends played by actors including Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott and Alyson Hannigan come together for a wild high-school reunion.

Exit polls showed 61 percent of “Reunion” filmgoers were older than 25, suggesting that it drew heavily from fans of the previous movies. Audiences gave the movie a “B+” grade in polling by survey firm CinemaScore.

“Titanic” drifted back into theaters on Wednesday with a 3D makeover and grossed an estimated $61.2 million around the world through Sunday. Of that total, $17.4 million came from domestic Friday-through-Sunday sales, ranking the movie in third place on North American charts and meeting studio forecasts.

The original 1997 “Titanic,” starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as young lovers on the doomed ship, was a movie phenomenon that led domestic box office charts for 15 weeks. It earned more than $1.8 billion at theaters, the second-highest total for any film.

Partners 20th Century Fox and Paramount spent $18 million on the 3D conversion, which was released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking on April 15, 1912.

Rounding out the top five, 3D action sequel “Wrath of the Titans” rung up $15 million domestically. The movie had bigger sales overseas, where it pulled in $43 million and helped lift the global total after two weekends to $211.4 million.

Snow White story “Mirror Mirror” took in $11 million, landing in fifth place. The family film has grossed $36.5 million domestically since opening last weekend.

Paramount Corp, a division of Viacom Inc, distributed “Titanic 3D” in the United States, and News Corp, a unit of 20th Century Fox, released the film in international markets.

“Wrath of the Titans” was released by Time Warner Inc’s Warner Bros. Privately held Relativity Media distributed “Mirror Mirror” in the United States, and Alliance Films released the movie in Canada.

The Media Man agency is tipping to keep a tab on all Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson flicks during the year, with "The Rock" well on his way to becoming one of the biggest movie draws of all time, following on from his professional wrestling aka "sports entertainment" success.


Pain and Gain Has The Rock And Mark Wahlberg; Adds Yolanthe Cabau...

Yolanthe Cabau has joined the all star cast of Michael Bay's dark comedy, Pain and Gain. This is the actress's Hollywood debut.

The comedy is based on a true story about a pair of bodybuilders in Florida, who get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong. The actress will play the role of Barbara, the girlfriend of Mark Wahlberg's character. Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson are playing the body builders.

The Spanish/Dutch actress has a reoccurring role in a hit Dutch soap opera.

Pain and Gain is in development and stars Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, Rob Corddry, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Bar Paly, Tony Shalhoub. The film is directed by Michael Bay.

The flick is tipped to do massive box office, with "The Rock" seeming to do no wrong, in the wrestling ring, at the box office, or anywhere else.

That's it movie and internet fans. Stay tuned to Media Man and Street Corner for more entertainment news and scoops daily.

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Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Comics, Comics News And WWE Wrestling News; CM Punk, Jerry "The King" Lawler; Chicago, Miami, Hollywood, Australia

Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Comics, Comics News And WWE Wrestling News; CM Punk, Jerry "The King" Lawler; Chicago, Miami, Hollywood, Australia

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*artwork by Billy "The Wiz" Munro

Australian movie, entertainment, pro wrestling and comics fans. It's time for yet another comic book movie, wrastling and entertainment news update. Sorry Vince McMahon, but may fans and wrestlers still like to call WWE professional wrestling, rather than "sports entertainment", and we understand the likes of CM Punk, Arn Anderson and "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair are just a few folks who agree with the sentiment. Yes, WWE is lots more than just pro wrestling these days, but wrestling remains the bread and butter of the operation - thank god.

CM Punk At Chicago Comic-Con...

Rosemont, IL, April 06, 2012 - Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, which for nearly two decades has thrilled hundreds of thousands of fans with standout celebrities, top-notch superstar artists, VIP experiences and more, rolls out an expanded, full four-day show, August 9-12 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. More than 50 celebrities, including headliners like William Shatner, Jeri Ryan, Stan Lee, Jon Bernthal and WWE Superstar CM Punk, notable artists Carlos Pacheco, George Pérez, Greg Capullo and dozens of others are already signed up to attend what is shaping up as the biggest Wizard World show ever and the Midwest's No. 1 Pop Culture Convention.

The international pop culture icon Shatner ("Star Trek," "T.J. Hooker") will appear on Friday, Aug. 10, and Saturday, Aug. 11, Ryan ("Star Trek: Voyager," "Boston Public") on Sunday, Aug. 12, Eisner Award Hall of Famer and comic book legend Lee and Bernthal ("The Walking Dead," The Ghost Writer) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and WWE Superstar CM Punk, the current WWE champion, on Saturday.

"Wizard World Chicago Comic Con continues to grow in all areas, from celebrity guests to Artist Alley to evening entertainment to VIP experiences, so much so that we've made it a full four-day show for the first time," said John Macaluso, CEO, Wizard World. "William Shatner, Jeri Ryan and Stan Lee are at the top of a deep celebrity roster that will connect with fans of all ages."

The announcement follows the recent news that one of Hollywood's fastest-risers, Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers), will headline Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on June 2.

The longest-running and highest-attended show annually on the Wizard World calendar, 2012 Wizard World Chicago Comic Con will also feature movie and television stars such as Nina Dobrev ("The Vampire Diaries," CHLOE), Kate Mulgrew ("Star Trek: Voyager," Remo Williams), Bruce Campbell (Army Of Darkness, Evil Dead), Tom Felton (Harry Potter, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Amy Acker ("Angel," The Cabin In The Woods) and dozens of others.

Eisner Award winner Pérez ("Superman," "JSA"), nominee Pacheco ("X-Men," "Green Lantern") and Capullo ("Batman," "Spawn") are joined in Artist Alley by Rodolfo Migliari ("Green Arrow," "Green Lantern"), "Brom" ("Dungeons & Dragons," "The Plucker), "CAFU" ("Superboy," "Action Comics"), Ken Kelly ("Batman," "Star Wars") and Pat Lee ("Spider-Man," "Iron Man"), among a first-class roster of special guests.

Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, produced by Wizard World, Inc. (WIZD.PK), will bring together thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, graphic novels, comics, toys, video gaming, television, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more.

For more on the 2012 Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, visit http://www.wizardworldcomiccon.com/home-ch.html

Dwayne Johnson Named CinemaCon Action Star of the Year...

He'll receive the honor at the upcoming convention of theater owners in Las Vegas.

Dwayne Johnson will be lauded with the Action Star of the Year Award at CinemaCon.

This summer, Johnson stars in Paramount tentpole G.I. Joe: Relaliation. He's currently still in theaters in box office hit Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, from Warner Bros.

Johnson will receive the CinemaCon award during Paramount's opening night presentation.


Captain America sequel scheduled for 2014 release...

It's official: Captain America will continue to fight the good fight for liberty and freedom.

On Thursday, Walt Disney Studios announced that a sequel to last summer's Captain America: The First Avenger is scheduled to be released on April 4, 2014, one month before the release of the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, who begins spinning his web July 3 of this year.

Chris Evans -- formerly Johnny Storm/the Human Torch of The Fantastic Four -- finally put Marvel's patriotic super-soldier on the A-list of superheroes in the original, which earned $368 million dollars worldwide.

The actor returns to the role as one of "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" known as The Avengers with Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/the Hulk), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Scarlett Johnansson (Natascha Romanoff/Black Widow), and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury); the film comes out in the U.S on May 4.


'Captain America' sequel heads to theaters in 2014...

LOS ANGELES — Captain America is getting another solo shot on the big-screen.

Walt Disney Studios announced Thursday that a sequel to last year's superhero hit "Captain America: The First Avenger" will arrive in theaters on April 4, 2014.

The first movie starred Chris Evans as the patriotic fighter for justice dressed in red, white and blue. "Captain America" took in $368 million at the worldwide box office.

Evans reprises his role as Captain America in "The Avengers," an ensemble adventure featuring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner as a team of Marvel Comics heroes.

"The Avengers" is due out in the U.S on May 4, and Australia will likely be just days after.


WWE's Jerry "The King" Lawler Talks Art, Charity And More...

WWE performers are known as creative artists in the squared circle, putting on a show like few human beings can.

Some professional wrestlers also demonstrate an artistic streak outside the ring, and perhaps Jerry "The King" Lawler is the most famous (but long time Lawler nemesis Bret "Hitman" Hart also might like a shot at the title.)

Lawler is an accomplished artist in and out of the ring.

The WWE conducted its charity art auction during WrestleMania Week and Lawler was first and foremost as the company’s featured artist.

The Miami Herald must have ran about a dozen WWE stories regarding WrestleMania week, and here we look at some of the paramount aspects that Miami's finest broadsheet covered in detail.

“I was involved in the first WrestleMania Art (during WrestleMania 24 Week in 2008 in Orlando),” Lawler said, "and everybody was all excited about WrestleMania coming to Orlando. The Orlando Sentinel (newspaper) even let me draw a WWE comic strip for about a month leading into WrestleMania.

“The art show has grown bigger and bigger and raises a lot of money for charity every year. We have a tremendous turnout, surprisingly, for it, and also, surprising to me, I found out we’ve got some pretty good artists in WWE. Some of the superstars are darn good artists as well. We have a lot of great pieces in the show every year, and for the past couple of years, I’ve done an actual painting or drawing right on-site during the art show that they then auction off for the charity.

“Two years ago (in Phoenix), Bret Hart and I both did a picture at the same time, and each auctioned for $3,500. That was something we knocked out right there in less than an hour at the art show. Last year my picture went for almost $2,000. I did a quick picture of The Undertaker, and this young girl comes up and buys it, and I’m thinking, ‘What in the world, just walking around here with an extra couple of grand for a piece of art I just created.’

"It’s something that I’ve really enjoyed being a part of every year."

Lawler actually credits his start in the wrestling business when he was a teenager in Memphis because of his other artistic artibutes. Several WWE divas, legends and superstars also showcase their skills on that other canvas.

"I was surprised because I just didn’t know,” Lawler said. “It’s not something that they’ve ever put out there and talked about in the past. To see some of their work, I was really surprised. Vickie Guerrero’s a good artist. Tony Atlas did some really good portrait work."

There's others also...

“Last year [in Atlanta], it was funny, too. I had heard Booker T say he was a good artist, and he was going to actually do a portrait of his wife (Queen Sharmell),” Lawler explained. “So he and I started doing our pieces at the same time. I didn’t get to watch him do his because we were kind of back-to-back at dueling art tables.

“So I’d heard Booker was a pretty good artist (chuckle), and he had a photograph of his wife that he put up there on the canvas, and oh my God, wen he got through [laughs], it looked like maybe Stevie Wonder had drawn it. It was the thought that counted, and somebody still bought it because it was an original piece done by Booker T. It was sort of like a Pablo Picasso [more laughs]. Her nose was coming out of the side of her head. Her ears were where her eyes should have been. It was funny."

Abstract?

Booker T said: “I think so.

"I sat there next to King, and he’s so great. King is a great artist. He does water colors, water paintings. You can tell he’s put so much time — outside anyone’s eyes — behind the scenes putting the work in doing that. He inspired me to get a lot better. He inspired me to go work on my craft. I don’t think my art is great, but it’s really not about how great something is in that frame right there. It’s just about doing your best, and hopefully we can help somebody raise some money.

“Hopefully, I’ll do a whole lot better this year.”

Practice makes better, hopefully.

“I’ve been working on my drawing skills, my sketching skills since then,” Booker T said. “I hadn’t done it in a long time before that. It was something they asked me to do. I was like, ‘Wow, let me go out there and see if I still got it.’ I actually did a sketch of Josh Mathews at the announce table and made sure not to use his double chin on there [Booker T chuckles] and gave it to him. I do plan on doing that again.

“It was great last year, doing it for a great charity, first and foremost. That’s really what it’s all about. Guys really need to know what this business is all about. It’s about the fans and the kids who watch.

“We bring so much joy to special kids with special needs. You wouldn’t believe how they gravitate to us and make us feel so special at the same time.

“I’m definitely looking forward to WrestleMania Week. If it’s half as awesome as it was last year, it will be great.”

Lawler has done so many pieces. It’s difficult to note his favorite. After some thought, one did come to mind.

“I did do a charcoal portrait of Vince McMahon and his father, Vince Sr., and his son, Shane, as like a three-portrait piece that I gave to Vince,” Lawler said. “I had an unveiling, when I gave it to him, and I guess his reaction was such that it made it maybe my favorite piece of art, because it’s not easy to impress Vince McMahon.

“Here’s a guy who’s done it all, seen it all, and when he saw that portrait that I had done, he had no idea that it was coming, and I just gave it to him as a gift. It actually brought tears to his eyes, and that, to me, made that night.”

Former WWE superstar and talented artist Jeff Hardy participated in a WWE Charity Art Auction.

“I did one in Houston, WrestleMania 25,” he said. “It was a bummer because I asked if I could do a big canvas, and I’d used spray paint and do it outdoors, but they did it in a fancy library. So I couldn’t use spray paint, and then they had a canvas that was the size of a piece of plywood.

“So I go in there, and they go, ‘Oh yea, we’ve got your canvas,’ and I’m supposed to finish it with tubes of paint and a brush. Spray paint would have been easy. It was horrible, and I wasn’t satisfied with the painting, the outcome.

“Now they’re auctioning it off, and I’ll never forget it. My wife was out there, and she’s bidding, and we got it up to $2,200. So I ended up buying it myself. I told them, ‘Please send it to me. Let me spray paint it and do a great job, and I’ll send it back.’”

Artists.

Hardy donated the money to the library as well as the painting which he returned after he completed his original concept.

Did Hardy ever discuss art with Jerry Lawler?

“Not much. There were a few times we did,” Hardy said. “He’s really talented. He’s really detailed, intricate stuff. Me, I’m more big and bold. He’d spend a day just on the smallest little detail. It’s cool to see him still doing that.”

As talented an artist outside the ring, Lawler is equally skilled inside. He has achieved success at basically every level of the professional wrestling industry and is a legitimate living legend of wrestling.

Lawler created art during the WrestleMania Premier Party: A Celebration of Miami Art & Fashion on Thursday, March 29 on Star Island.

American record producer, songwriter and rapper Timbaland and Stuart Miller hosted the event, which featured artwork created by WWE superstars, divas and legends. It’s was a fundraiser for the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center/Alex’s Place and the Second Chance Program housed within the Center.

WrestleMania Week included an art show, but this is the first time they added a fashion show element to it with WWE divas modelling clothes designed by top South Florida designers.

There was even an online component for the art auction so WWE fans everywhere could get involved, purchasing WWE-themed art for a good cause.


Marvel Entertainment Interviews CM Punk...

Marvel interviewed WWE champion CM Punk. Here's some of our favorite parts of the interview...

Marvel.com: Which team are you supporting in Avengers Vs. X-Men? Why do you think they will win?

CM Punk: I’ve never been the biggest fan of mutants. They’re pretty damn powerful, y’know? But seriously, when you have Captain America, Thor and Iron Man together as a team, there’s no threat they can’t handle. In this super hero war, I’m with the Avengers

Marvel.com: Who do you think will win if Captain America battles Cyclops?

CM Punk: Captain America. Hands down. Nobody in the Marvel Universe has the experience he has, and he can definitely outwit, outsmart and outlast Cyke.

Marvel.com: Who do you think will win if Storm battles Thor?

CM Punk: No contest: Thor. I mean, the guy is a god—how do you take someone like him down? Don’t get me wrong, Storm is one hell of a warrior, but Thor has taken on Ragnarok head on!

Marvel.com: Which side do you think Wolverine will choose? Which one should he choose?

CM Punk: Ah, right; this is the tricky one. Personally, I think Wolverine is an X-Man through and through. Regardless of his differences with Cyclops, the guy grew up with the team, respects Xavier, and cares for the well-being and preservation of mutantkind. When it finally comes time to make a decision, I think he’s going home.

Marvel.com: Which X-Man or Avenger do you consider yourself most like?

CM Punk: Tony Stark—without the alcohol, obviously. The guy has all the coolest toys in the toy-box.

Marvel.com: Let’s say Tony Stark were to come out during your match at WrestleMania, what music would he come out to?

CM Punk: [Frank] Sinatra; not the most exciting entrance, but that’s the kind of guy I think Tony is. Suave, sophisticated and obviously would have been a part of the Rat Pack.

That's it fans. Stay tuned to Media Man and Street Corner for more entertainment news and scoops daily.

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