George, Amal Clooney meet Angela Merkel to discuss refugee crisis

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George Clooney and his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, met with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday to discuss Europe’s growing refugee crisis.

The Clooneys' had a meeting with the German leader Friday morning, in which they discussed the issues surrounding what has been called Europe's greatest refugee crisis since World War II. meeting was also attended by former British foreign secretary David Miliband, who now heads the International Rescue Committee (IRC), according to Hollywood Reporter.

Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted that they talked about “refugee policy and the commitment to the IRC.”

Clooney had earlier made clear he supports Merkel’s open-door policy with regards to refugees fleeing the war in Syria. He has called on the US to take in more refugees to help out Europe.

Merkel told reporters that she had had “a very good conversation” with the Clooneys’ and Miliband and exchanged ideas for how governments can cooperate with aid organisations to encourage citizens to volunteer to help refugees.

Clooney will also meet separately with recent refugees to Germany. The actor is in town promoting his film Hail, Caesar!, which opened the Berlin Film Festival on Thursday.

— The National Staff

Kanye West’s lyrics about Taylor Swift ignite new controversy

Kanye West's new album, The Life Of Pablo, has ignited a new controversy between the rapper and pop superstar Taylor Swift.

West debuted his album at the Yeezy Season 3 fashion show at Madison Square Garden in New York on Thursday. The album included a song called, Famous, in which he called the Bad Blood singer a "bitch" and said he made her famous.

On his Twitter account, he said the lyric was not an insult. “I did not diss Taylor Swift and I’ve never dissed her,” he wrote.

“I called Taylor and had a hour long convo with her about the line and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings,” he wrote.

Tree Paine, Swift’s publicist, said in a statement that West did not ask Swift for approval.

"Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single Famous on her Twitter account," the statement said. "She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric."

West defended his use of the word “bitch,” saying it was an endearing term in hip-hop.

Meanwhile, Swift’s friends have come to her defence on social media. Taylor Swift’s brother, Austin, posted an Instagram video of him throwing Yeezy shoes in a trashcan.

West famously interrupted Swift’s speech during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when she won for best female video. But the two apparently put differences aside and she introduced him when he won the video vanguard award at the 2015 VMAs. — AP

Barry Manilow’s surgery a success

Barry Manilow is out of surgery and doing well, according to his publicist, after the singer was rushed to Los Angeles following a performance in Memphis because of complications from emergency oral surgery this week.

The 72-year old singer, known for hits Mandy, Can't Smile Without You, Could It Be Magic and Copacabana, had performed a show in Memphis on Wednesday as part of his One Last Time — One Last Tour. His next two concerts were cancelled and are being rescheduled.

His publicist confirmed that the surgery was successful and there were no further complications, adding that he was instructed not to talk or sing for the next 48 hours.

“His doctors report that the surgery was successful and they expect no further complications,” said an emailed statement from Manilow’s publicist, adding that he had been instructed not to talk or sing for the next 48 hours.

A statement on the singers website stated that it was unclear if Manilow, whose latest album My Dream Duets is nominated for a Grammy Award, would attend Monday's ceremony in Los Angeles. — Reuters

Star Wars producers charged over on-set accident

Britain's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have announced that they are prosecuting Foodles Production (UK) Ltd, Walt Disney's subsidiary, responsible for the filming of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the country, for violating workplace health and safety laws.

The producers are charged over an on-set mishap that seriously injured actor Harrison Ford, reports

The 73-year-old actor was left with a broken leg after he was struck by a hydraulic door of the Millennium Falcon during the filming at the famed Pinewood Studios Buckinghamshire.

The HSE said they have sufficient evidence to bring a case against the company to court for violations.

Foodles Production responded that the cast and crew safety was always a top priority, and that full cooperation was offered during the investigation of the on-set accident that occurred in June 2014. — IANS

Anil Kapoor says Indian writers can learn from the West

Actor-producer Anil Kapoor, who is busy gearing up for 24: Season 2, feels there is a lot that writers in India can learn from those in the west.

Kapoor, who starred in and produced 24, the Indian adaptation of the eponymous American show, told IANS that he believes the west produces content that is "phenomenal". He said Indian has great content but not writers who could recreate them on celluloid or TV.

Since 24 launched in India in 2013, format owners — FOX Studios — have been keeping a close eye on the overwhelming response that the show has received from Indian viewers.

24: Season 2 will see more action and thrill as Kapoor's character, Jai Singh Rathod, is set to prevent a probable tragedy.

Kapoor said they have added more action sequences in the new season that have been directed by Allan Amin.

The new season will also feature Sakshi Tanwar, Surveen Chawla, Ashish Vidyarthi, Sikandar Kher and Ritu Shivpuri. -- IANS

Deadpool scores record-breaking $12.7M on opening day

Deadpool got off to a blazing start, with a stunning $12.7 million (Dh46.6m) in weekend previews.

The movie was the biggest Thursday preview for an R-rated movie, ahead of Fifty Shades of Grey ($8.6m on this very weekend last year) and The Hangover part II ($10.4m back in 2011), reports Forbes.

The 20th Century Fox production, which is, of course, a spin-off of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is something of a test case in terms of selling a hard-R superhero comic book movie, something we haven't seen that much of since Wesley Snipes's Blade franchise came-and-went over a six-year period. — The National Staff

Apple and Dr Dre are said to be planning an original TV show

Apple is working on an original television show with Dr Dre, the co-founder of Beats Music and an Apple executive, according to a person with knowledge of the project.

The show, currently titled Vital Signs, will be an Apple Music project offered through Apple TV, the company's streaming video device, said the person, who asked to remain anonymous, reports The Telegraph.

The show, which was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, could be Apple's first big television venture. The person said it was not clear when the show would be available.

Creating a show with Dr Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, would help Apple overcome some of its content difficulties. Dr Dre joined Apple after it acquired his Beats Music for $3 billion in 2014. In addition to working with Apple Music, he produced the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton, which is based on his musical career.

The television show is Dr Dre’s project and Apple is backing it, one person said.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the project, but noted that the last quarter of 2015 was the best for Apple TV sales. Apple Music recently signed its own content agreements, including a deal to stream a concert film from Taylor Swift’s world tour. — The National Staff