Bono teams up with African stars to empower women

Also: Celine Dion has put out a call for songs for her next albums; Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands to get honorary Oscars; Elementary star Lucy Liu welcomes baby son; and more

Irish rock star Bono, second left, poses with African music stars after a press conference in Lagos. AP
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African stars joined U2 frontman Bono on Friday as part of a campaign to use music to help empower women around the world. Bono and top African male musicians D'banj, Diamond and Banky W announced that they will be included in a remix of the song Strong Girl, a rallying cry for women's empowerment, which features leading African female talent. Bono, whose ONE advocacy group is the creative force behind the campaign for women's empowerment, said music can create awareness and help shift policies because politicians are driven by popular things. "Politicians in the end have to be elected, and what is popular drives all of their decisions," Bona said. "It's that simple. So if the subject is popular among the electorate, then it suddenly dawns on politicians that this is a subject they, too, feel strongly about." Sipho Moyo, Africa executive director of ONE, said the campaign hopes to create structural and policy changes globally that will ensure women are empowered. The ultimate goal is to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Moyo said that a United Nations meeting next month that will set the world's development agenda for the next 15 years should focus on boosting women's access to health, economic empowerment and political participation. That agenda addresses issues ranging from ending poverty "in all its forms everywhere" to ensuring quality education and affordable and reliable energy. It will be adopted at a summit just before the annual meeting of world leaders at the General Assembly in September. – AP

‘Send me songs’ plea by Celine Dion

Celine Dion is looking for help with her next two albums – and so on Friday, she put out the call: send me your songs. "It's open to everyone," the 47-year-old Canadian singer told French radio station RTL. "Any artist or composer can send me their art." The unusual appeal by the singer – best known for singing My Heart Will Go On, from the soundtrack of the hit 1997 movie Titanic – came as she returned to the stage in Las Vegas for a series of 40 concerts in the US city. She took a career break last year to help take care of her ailing 73-year-old husband Rene Angelil, who has throat cancer. Now she is returning, with performances lined up from now until 2019. She plans to release an album of French-language songs in 2016 and an English-language album in 2017. "They can be songs that let me reach new goals, to progress, to have a good time, to be passionate – because I would very much like to keep moving forward," she said. Her latest album, Loved Me Back to Life, came out in 2013. – AFP

Honorary Oscars for Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands

Director Spike Lee and actress Gena Rowlands will receive honorary Oscars this year and film star Debbie Reynolds will receive a humanitarian prize, Academy Award organisers have announced. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences highlighted the "extraordinary contributions" that the three legends have made to show business throughout their long careers. "We'll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations," Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said. The honorees will receive their awards – identical to the Oscars that will be given out at the Academy Awards in February – at seventh annual Governors Awards, which will be held in Hollywood in November. None of the honorees have won an Oscar, though all have been nominated. Lee, 58, earned a best screenplay nomination for 1989's Do the Right Thing, and in 1997, his 4 Little Girls earned a best documentary nomination. His influence on the film industry has extended from mainstream hits such as Malcolm X and He Got Game to cutting examinations of contemporary urban American life in dozens of independent films. Rowlands received best actress nominations for 1974's A Woman under the Influence and 1980's Gloria. Reynolds, who will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, first captivated audiences in 1952's Singin' in the Rain. She was later was nominated for an Oscar for her lead role in 1964's The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and helped found a group that works to combat mental health issues. – AFP

London Film Festival to honour Cate Blanchett

Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett will receive a major career honour at this year's London Film festival, where two of her latest films are screening. The Australian actress will be presented with the British Film Institute Fellowship during the ceremony on October 17. BFI chairman Greg Dyke said Thursday that Blanchett was "a compelling and brave actress whose mesmerising screen presence has captivated audiences since her earliest roles". Blanchett won Oscars for The Aviator and Blue Jasmine. She'll appear at the London festival in Todd Haynes' 1950s romance Carol, as well as in James Vanderbilt's Truth, which stars Blanchett as TV news producer Mary Mapes, who was fired over a story about former US president George W Bush's military service. The London Film Festival runs from October 7 to 18. –AP

Silence of the Lambs director to receive Venice Visionary award

Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme will be presented with the Visionary Talent award at the Venice Film Festival. Demme, who will receive the prize on September 3, was described by Festival director Alberto Barbera as a member of "that generation of cinephile auteurs who revolutionised Hollywood in the 1970s" and who was capable of moving easily between studio and independent productions, and from fiction to documentary work. The 71-year-old is a regular in Venice and is chairman of the jury for the Horizons world cinema section of this year's festival, which runs September 2-12. He has made more 30 films in a career spanning five decades, including 1991's The Silence of the Lambs, for which he won the best director Oscar, the acclaimed Philadelphia (1993) and Married to the Mob (1988). His latest film, Ricki and the Flash, starring Meryl Streep as a rock star, is out in the UAE on Thursday. – AFP

Lucy Liu announces birth of son

There's a new guy in Elementary star Lucy Liu's life and he won't be hard to detect – a bouncing baby boy. The 46-year-old actress took to Instagram and Twitter to reveal that she is a new mum to Rockwell Lloyd Liu, "brought into the world via gestational carrier". He is her first child and a publicist said both mum and son "are healthy and happy". Liu plays Dr Joan Watson opposite Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock Holmes in CBS crime drama Elementary. Her other on-screen credits include Ally McBeal, and the films Charlie's Angels and Kill Bill. – AP