Shortlist of nine Foreign Language Oscar contenders announced

Plus: R&B singer's horror at mistrial; thousands pledge to adopt rescue dogs after telethon; and Craig Ferguson gets ready for the end of The Late, Late Show.
A still from the Swedish film Force Majeure, which has made the shortlist of Best Foreign Language Film at the next Oscars. Courtesy Film i Vast
A still from the Swedish film Force Majeure, which has made the shortlist of Best Foreign Language Film at the next Oscars. Courtesy Film i Vast

The contenders for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar have been reduced from 83 to nine by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The films that will advance to the next round of voting, several of which were screened at the Abu Dhabi and Dubai film festivals, include Ruben Östlund’s Force ­Majeure from Sweden; Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan, about a property dispute in a small Russian town; and Pawel Pawlikowski’s Polish drama Ida, about a young woman who discovers dark secrets in her family’s past. Damián Szifrón’s black comedy Wild Tales, from Argentina, also made the shortlist, as did Estonia’s Tangerines. They are joined by Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, the first Mauritanian film ever submitted; Georgia’s Corn Island; the Netherlands’ Accused; and Venezuela’s The Liberator. The five final nominees will be announced on January 15. The 87th Academy Awards is on February 22.

Singer’s horror after stalker-case mistrial

The R&B star Ashanti says she’s “shocked and horrified” at the possibility of being questioned again by an alleged stalker after a mistrial in New York. But the Grammy-winning singer said she would “do whatever it takes” to make sure her family was safe. A juror’s illness forced the mistrial ruling on Thursday, two days after Ashanti told jurors she was scared and “disgusted” by Devar Hurd’s behaviour. Hurd represented himself and had cross-examined her. He was convicted in 2009 of stalking Ashanti’s mother by sending her crude text messages about her daughter. He served about two years in jail and was ordered not to contact the family, but in 2013 it emerged he had been tweeting X-rated messages to the singer and had posed for a photo with her sister.

Doggy telethon boost to pet adoptions

More than 4,400 people applied to adopt homeless dogs during what was billed as American TV’s first all-star dog-adoption telethon. The director Michael Levitt says it would be a huge success if even half of the applications were successful. He added that he believes anyone who watched the show would strongly consider getting a rescue dog the next time they are looking for a pet. Seventy dogs from rescue centres across the United States were featured during the two-hour Thanksgiving-night broadcast, co-hosted by actresses Hilary Swank and Jane Lynch on the Fox Network More than 4 million viewers tuned in and producers hope it will become a regular TV event. - AP

Was it Bob Newhart horsing around all those years on The Late Late Show?

That whimsical notion was part of the fun during Craig Ferguson’s final hour as host of the CBS talk show. It will be broadcast on Friday.

Secretariat the Pantomime Horse has long been a popular member of the Late Late Show troupe, but proper credit was never given to the people who brought him to life. That mystery is answered – well, sort of – in the finale.

As Ferguson chats with his robot sidekick, Geoff, he ponders who is inside the horse costume.

“Lift up your head, let’s see who you really are,” he calls across the stage to Secretariat, standing in his stall. Off comes the head of the costume to reveal Bob Newhart.

“What are you doing here?” the astonished Ferguson asks.

“Hey, guy, it’s your dream,” replies the veteran actor-comedian, spoofing the classic final scene from his sitcom, Newhart, a quarter of a century ago.

Ferguson’s going-away party also features former Tonight Show host Jay Leno as his sole guest.

The show kicks off with a pre-taped rendition of Bang Your Drum, a song by the Scottish band Dead Man Fall, with Ferguson accompanied by dozens of celebs (many of them former guests) including Matthew McConaughey, Betty White, Samuel L Jackson, Larry King, Regis Philbin, Jane Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Jimmy Kimmel, William Shatner and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The number then transitions to the studio with Ferguson backed by a rock band and choir.

Ferguson’s departure follows by a day the splashy exit of Stephen Colbert and his series The Colbert Report from Comedy Central after nine years on the air. Colbert is headed to CBS to take over Late Show from David Letterman, who retires on May 20.

Taking Ferguson’s place as host of The Late Late Show is the British actor-writer-comedian James Corden, who debuts on March 23.

Now 52, the Scottish-born Ferguson came to The Late Late Show in January 2005 with a varied resume including punk-rock drummer, author, stand-up comic and actor. He had appeared in several films, and written and starred in three, including the 2003 comedy I’ll Be There, which he also directed. At the time, he was best known as Nigel Wick, the imperious British boss on Drew Carey’s long-running ABC sitcom.

Carey will be among those filling in on Late Late Show before Corden arrives. Other scheduled guest hosts include Will Arnett, Wayne Brady, Jim Gaffigan, Billy Gardell and Sean Hayes.

But even if he’s absent from late night, Ferguson won’t be absent from the airwaves. He continues as host of Celebrity Name Game, a weekday syndicated game show launched this autumn.

Published: December 20, 2014 04:00 AM

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