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Quick Takes: First Lady honors the arts

October 21, 2010

Kids took the stage and celebrities sat in the audience Wednesday as First Lady Michelle Obama honored community arts programs that help young people around the country develop their talents and succeed in life.

Obama presented 15 after-school and out-of-school programs, many of them serving at-risk youths, with the 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. She said the programs teach young people that "each of them has something of value to contribute."

She called the arts programs "shining examples of using success in the arts and humanities as a bridge to success in life."

—Associated Press

Labor strife for 'Hobbit' team

Just when you thought all was well in the Shire....

With "The Hobbit" looking last week like it was over its most significant hurdles, the rhetoric on the labor front is intensifying and again threatening the production.

Deteriorating relations among several performers' guilds, which have called for a boycott of the production, have prompted director Peter Jackson to say that he would move the production out of New Zealand even if the boycott is lifted.

The decision on where to shoot both "Hobbit" movies will ultimately be made by those financing the pictures — which include Warner Bros., its New Line cinema unit and MGM — but with heavy input from Jackson. No one on the studio side is ruling out the possibility that the productions would need to relocate.

If there is a move to another country, the question for filmgoers is whether it would set back production or even release dates. The movies, for now, are set for December 2012 and December 2013.

—Steven Zeitchik

Stage stars fight anti-gay bullying

New York's theatrical community is lending its support to teens who face anti-gay bullying by doing what it does best: delivering messages from the heart and an uplifting song.

About 40 heartfelt video testimonials from Broadway actors who recall being bullied or called names — as well as the touring casts of "Billy Elliot," "Wicked" and "Jersey Boys — have been collected as part of a nationwide effort by various organizations to put a spotlight on the problem after a spate of suicides by teens believed to be victims of anti-gay bullying.

—Associated Press

New opening for 'Avatar' on DVD

James Cameron is giving "Avatar" a fresh start.

Cameron unveiled a new opening scene for an extended cut of his sci-fi blockbuster due out Nov. 16 on DVD and Blu-ray disc, the sequence offering a glimpse of life on crowded, polluted 22nd century Earth, where city dwellers are bombarded by digital ads and wear masks for protection from the foul air.

The sequence Cameron showed reporters depicts the dreary existence of his hero, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), before he's invited to join the Avatar program on the distant moon Pandora.

Cameron said he decided to cut that opening from last year's theatrical release to step up the pacing and land viewers more quickly on Pandora, where Jake falls for Na'vi warrior Neytiri (Zoe Saldana).

—Associated Press

'Lone Star' at Austin festival

"Lone Star" had the dubious distinction of being the first casualty of the 2010-11 TV season. But the ousted Fox drama about a Texas con man juggling two families and an overbearing father is still getting a screening and panel Sunday at the Austin Film Festival and Conference.

"I'm as excited as I can be talking about a canceled show," creator and executive producer Kyle Killen said in an interview. "I would love to be at the festival under different circumstances. But I'm excited and bolstered by the enthusiasm on what the show did."

He added that he still is trying to find a home for "Lone Star." "I've been talking to various cable outlets."

—Greg Braxton

Kim Novak in cancer treatment

Actress Kim Novak is undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Her manager, Sue Cameron, said that the 77-year-old star of such films as "Vertigo," "Picnic," "Pal Joey" and "The Man With the Golden Arm" was expected to be fine because she is physically fit and the cancer was detected at an early stage.

Novak lives with her husband in Oregon.

—Associated Press

Finally

Music sales: Rapper Lil Wayne was back atop the pop music sales charts Wednesday, as his album "I Am Not a Human Being" sold 125,000 copies last week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Darius Rucker was second with "Charleston, SC 1996."

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