Deshmukh to host Bolly film awards in Dubai

Creator of star wars droid R2-D2 found dead, Chopra’s US TV show renewed, Bobbi Kristina Brown cause of death revealed, Leslie Jones defends her Ghostbusters role, Lady Gaga was ‘a wreck’ before Oscars song, Indian stars back empowerment of girls and grammy Museum opens in Mississippi.

Indian actor and producer Riteish Deshmukh will co-host The Times of India Film Awards in Dubai on March 18. Deshmukh first found fame in 2004 in the comedy Masti. He was nominated for several awards for his role, including the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also appeared in the critically acclaimed film Bardaasht. Deshmukh's co-host for the event has yet to be announced. Tickets for the awards start at Dh199 from www.platinumlist.net. For a full list of nominees for the music awards at TOIFA, visit www.thenational.ae. – The National staff

Creator of star wars droid R2-D2 found dead

Professor Tony Dyson, the British creator of the Star Wars droid R2-D2, was found dead at his home on the Maltese island of Gozo at the weekend. Neighbours raised the alarm after noticing that the front door of the 68-year-old’s apartment was open. Police are investigating the cause of death but said that foul play had been ruled out. Dyson, who had lived in Malta since the early 1990s, also worked on Hollywood films including Superman 2 and Moonraker. Built by Dyson, based on designs by artist Ralph McQuarrie, R2-D2 has appeared in all seven of the Star Wars films, with his robotic friend, C-3P0. — AFP

Chopra’s US TV show renewed

Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra’s US TV hit Quantico has been renewed for a second season. ABC announced 15 renewals on Thursday, also picking up Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Once Upon a Time, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder. After success in Hindi movies, Chopra made her Hollywood debut last year in action-thriller Quantico, in which she plays Alex Parrish, a rookie FBI agent suspected of being involved in a terrorist attack. It was recently announced that she has been cast as the villain in a big-screen reboot of 1990s TV hit Baywatch. – IANS

Bobbi Kristina Brown cause of death revealed

Bobbi Kristina Brown had morphine, cocaine, alcohol and prescription drugs in her body when she slipped under the water in a bath, causing brain damage that left her in a coma for six months before she died. But the post mortem results, released at the weekend, said it could not be determined whether her death was intentional or accidental. It comes after months of speculation and a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by her estate against her partner, Nick Gordon. Brown, the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, was found in a bathtub at her home on January 31 last year. She died at the age of 22 in hospice care on July 26. – AP

Prince of Tides author Pat Conroy dies

Pat Conroy, the beloved author of The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides, died on Friday night at age 70. He wrote many best-sellers that drew upon his bruising childhood and the vistas of South Carolina. Conroy, who announced last month that he had pancreatic cancer, died at home with family and friends in Beaufort, South Carolina, his publisher said. The author had battled other health problems in recent years, including diabetes, high blood pressure and a failing liver. His books sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. – AP

Leslie Jones defends her Ghostbusters role

Leslie Jones, one of the stars of the upcoming all-female reboot of Ghostbusters, took to Twitter at the weekend to defend her role as a member of the spook battlers, who appears – in a newly released trailer for the film – to be an employee of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The portrayal of the team's only non-white member as a subway worker in director Paul Feig's film came under fire by some on social media after the trailer debuted online. But the African-American actress and comedian responded on Twitter: "Why can't a regular person be a Ghostbuster? I'm confused. And why can't I be the one who plays them? I am a performer. Just go see the movie!" Jones' character, Patty, teams up to fight ghosts and other supernatural threats in the film with Kristen Wiig's particle physicist, Erin; Melissa McCarthy's paranormal researcher, Abby; and Kate McKinnon's nuclear engineer, Jillian. Jones, who appears in Saturday Night Live and was in the Chris Rock film Top Five, made it clear she was not offended by her character's job. The film is due out on July 15 in the United States. — AP

Lady Gaga was ‘a wreck’ before Oscars song

Lady Gaga says her Oscars performance, alongside rape survivors, was the most difficult of her life. The singer gave an emotional performance of her nominated song Till It Happens To You at the ceremony, with university students who had been raped joining her on stage with their arms linked in solidarity. "I was never such a wreck as I was the week before this performance," she said. Gaga, who will be 30 this month, has previously revealed that she was raped by an older man when she was 19 and still suffers chronic pain as a result. Gaga was nominated for an Oscar for the song, which appears in The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape on American university campuses. Gaga said her Academy Awards performance was a coming out of sorts, as the issue has been "swept under". She was introduced at the Oscars ceremony by United States vice president Joe Biden, who encouraged viewers to sign a pledge on the website www.itsonus.org. The pledge, which has seen a surge of interest since the Oscars, commits the signatory to intervene in situations where a person has clearly not consented, or is not in a fit state to consent, to sex. – AFP

Indian stars back empowerment of girls

Celebrated women from Indian showbiz – including Shabana Azmi, Sushmita Sen, Gul Panag and Dia Mirza – have lent their support to National Geographic channel's #StandWithAGirl initiative, which begins with the television debut of He Named Me Malala on International Women's Day on Tuesday. The initiative is the channel's way to show support for education and empowerment of young girls. Sen, a former beauty queen, who is a single parent to two adopted daughters, says: "It's time to raise our voice against illiteracy and inequality. I support girls' education with all my heart. We all need to stand up to fight all obstacles that come in the way of our daughters' education. The least we can do is to communicate the significance of education and empowerment of our country's daughters." He Named Me Malala is a critically acclaimed documentary about Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousufzai, who survied being shot in the head during a Taliban assassination attempt because of her outspoken support of girls' rights, and has since bcome a figurehead for the issue. – IANS

Indian film archivist P K Nair dies

India's pioneering film archivist and scholar P K Nair, who was given the nickname celluloid man for his work as the founder of the National Film Archive of India, died over the weekend at the age of 82. He had been in hospital for 10 days before his death. Filmmaker and film archivist Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, whose 2012 documentary film Celluloid Man explored the life and work of Nair, said his death was "the end of a great chapter. He contributed to developing not only film archiving, but also a generation of filmmakers. He was the man responsible for NFAI". Veteran movie critic Anupama Chopra said that Nair had "single-handedly preserved India's cinematic heritage. We all owe you. Salute and thanks for the education and inspiration". – IANS

Grammy Museum opens in Mississippi

The second and only official Grammy Museum outside of Los Angeles opened at the weekend in Cleveland, Mississippi. Organisers say the US$20million (Dh73m) museum is one of the most-advanced in the United States, and uses high-definition touchscreens and interactive technology to chronicle American music history from the days before the first Grammy Awards, in 1959, to the present. Officials designed the museum – the most upscale building in the region – with the Mississippi Delta’s history in mind. Corrugated metal on the exterior is a nod to the tin sharecropper shacks many blues musicians grew up in, while the entrance looks like a front porch, a common feature of many Delta homes. City officials say the museum could bring in $20m annually as a tourist attraction. – AP

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