Monday, August 31, 2009

Walt Disney new owner of Spider-Man and Iron Man

Walt Disney agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment Inc, for about $4 billion in cash and stock, adding comic-book characters Iron Man and Spider-Man to Disney’s lineup of princesses and live-action stars. Marvel investors will receive $30 a share in cash plus 0.745 Disney shares, the companies said on Monday. The deal is Disney’s fourth-largest acquisition by announced total value, according to data complied by Bloomberg. The purchase gives Disney, the operator of theme parks and the ABC broadcast network, ownership of more than 5,000 Marvel characters. Films based on Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine have pulled in hundreds of millions at the box office. Disney CEO Robert Iger said buying Marvel will allow Disney to extend characters in its parks and stores. Based on the Aug. 28 closing price of Disney’s stock, the transaction values Marvel at $50 a share. That’s a 29% premium to Marvel’s closing price that day.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Film based on US bomb squad in Iraq

The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, is about a month in the life of three US bomb squad technicians working in Iraq. Based on the real life observations of writer Mark Boal, these soldiers speak of explosions as putting you in "the hurt locker". There have been a slew of comments from Hollywood about both the war in Iraq and the war on terror. By and large though, films like In The Valley of Elah, Rendition, Redacted and Lions for Lambs have failed to translate to box office success.

By contrast, The Hurt Locker has already grossed more then $10m (£6m) in US cinemas since its release last month - and that is despite having no big stars among the cast, with the exception of cameos from Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce. "I think there is a lack of politics, a lack of speeches in the movie," says Bigelow, when asked about why it has proved a hit with audiences. “But the main reason is that it's an action film. And also, speaking as a member of the general public, I had no idea what things like EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) stood for. "Mark's reporting and screenplay opens a window for us onto that world."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Final series of Big Brother next year

Channel 4's final series of reality TV show Big Brother will be broadcast next year, it has announced. The station, home of the programme since it began in 2000, will honour its deal to screen series 11 next summers. Channel 4's director of television Kevin Lygo said the show "had reached a natural end point on Channel 4 and it's time to move on". Big Brother has suffered from falling ratings in recent years, with the current run the least watched. The latest series has picked up about two million viewers per show, compared with an audience high of eight million in 2002.

Speaking at the broadcaster's new schedule launch, Channel 4 head Julian Bellamy said: "Big Brother has been our most influential and popular programme over the last decade." But he added that "inevitably we're both excited and ever-so-slightly terrified by the prospect of getting by without it". Mr. Bellamy said the loss of Big Brother would leave a "huge hole" in the station's schedules, but would prompt "the most fundamental creative overhaul" in Channel 4 history.

Sailor girl put under care

A Dutch court has put a 13-year-old girl under state care for two months, stalling her bid to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. The decision by three Utrecht judges means Laura Dekker's parents, who support her plans, temporarily lose the right to make decisions about her. A child psychologist will now assess her capacity to undertake the voyage. Laura's father, Dick Dekker, had earlier had a request for her to miss two years of school turned down. Miss Dekker - who was not at the court - will continue to live with her father, who did not make any immediate comment on the judge's decision. She had planned to spend about two years aboard her 26-foot (8m) boat, Guppy, to break the record set this week by a 17-year-old UK boy. Mike Perham tackled 50ft waves, gale force winds and technical problems during the 28,000-mile circumnavigation, which took him nine months.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

16th Century music on carving

Markings on a 16th Century carving from Stirling Castle could be the oldest surviving piece of written Scottish instrumental music, historians believe. A sequence of 0s, Is and IIs have been found on one of the Stirling Heads - wooden medallions which would have decorated the castle's royal palace. It is believed the music could have been played on instruments such as harps, viols, fiddles and lutes. An experienced harpist has been trying to play the tune. The markings would not have been an exact musical score, but would have given guidance to players who then improvised. There are earlier examples of written music in Scotland, but they were composed for choirs rather than an instrumental band.

Barnaby Brown, a lecturer at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) who specializes in early Scottish music, said the find could be very enlightening. "This discovery is potentially of great significance to our understanding of medieval and Renaissance instrumental music - the normally 'unwritten' practice of the elite court professional," he said.