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Quick Takes: 15 documentaries on Oscar shortlist

November 19, 2011

Fifteen feature-length documentaries have advanced for the upcoming Academy Awards, including Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's continued investigation of the three teenagers wrongly convicted of murder in Arkansas 20 years ago, "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory."

The 15 films announced Friday were chosen from 124 films that had originally qualified in the category. Members of the academy's documentary branch will now select the five nominees from among those titles on the shortlist.

Other films on the list include the Sundance hit "Project Nim," the story of a chimpanzee taken from his mother and raised as a human child in New York City; "Pina," Wim Wenders 3-D documentary about German choreographer Pina Bausch; and "Hell and Back Again," which follows an American soldier in Afghanistan and his return home.

Left off the list were prominent documentarians Werner Herzog ("Into the Abyss"), Errol Morris ("Tabloid") and Steve James ("The Interrupters").

—Rebecca Keegan

Oprah gets her OWN show

Oprah Winfrey will return to television Jan. 1 in a weekly prime-time series on her struggling cable channel, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

The two-hour premiere of "Oprah's Next Chapter" will feature Aerosmith lead singer and "American Idol" judge Steven Tyler from his New Hampshire home.

Subsequent episodes will show the former daytime talk show host traveling to Haiti with actor Sean Penn nearly two years after the devastating earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people, and a visit with "Star Wars" creator George Lucas at his Skywalker Ranch. She also has a slumber party at chef Paula Deen's Georgia estate and travels to a small town in Iowa devoted to the practice of transcendental meditation.

—Greg Braxton

'Twilight' draws pre-dawn crowds

The fourth movie in the "Twilight" franchise is already sinking its teeth into the box office.

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1," the latest installment in the popular vampire series, sold $30.3 million in tickets after opening in about 3,500 theaters at midnight Friday, distributor Summit Entertainment estimated.

That's slightly more than the $30 million brought in by the third "Twilight" film, "Eclipse," when it debuted in the wee hours of the morning in June 2010.

Still, the new movie was unable to break the record held by "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2," which raked in $43.5 million post-midnight in July.

—Amy Kaufman

Heavy D funeral draws luminaries

Hip-hop star Heavy D was remembered through laughter and tears at a funeral service in Mount Vernon, N.Y., Friday that included anecdotes from longtime friend Diddy and words of encouragement for his young daughter, delivered in a letter from President Obama.

"He will be remembered for his infectious optimism and many contributions to American music," read the Obama note, according to the Rev. Al Sharpton, who quoted from it during the service.

Xea Myers, Heavy D's 11-year-old daughter, told the audience that her father was "still here, not in the flesh, but in the spirit."

Among those in attendance were Usher, Queen Latifah, Don King, Q-Tip, John Legend and Rosie Perez.

Heavy D, whose real name was Dwight Myers, was influential in the development of rap as it grew into a phenomenon in the late 1980s and 1990s.

He died last week in Los Angeles at the age of 44. His family said the death was due to complications from pneumonia.

—Associated Press

Judge rules in Hugh Grant case

The mother of actor Hugh Grant's baby daughter has won an injunction from London's High Court prohibiting harassment of her and the child after she said paparazzi had made her life unbearable.

Chinese actress Tinglan Hong was granted the order last week and details were made public on Friday when the judge, Justice Michael Tugendhat, explained his reasons in a written ruling, the Press Assn. reported.

Tugendhat said that, while Grant was very well-known, Hong had "never sought any publicity or been known to the public for any reason."

Now, he said, "she cannot leave her home without being followed and there are constantly photographers waiting outside her home."

—Reuters

Finally

Renewed: Showtime said Friday it has ordered two more seasons of its serial killer drama "Dexter," consisting of 12 episodes each.

New gig: Elisabeth Shue, who earned an Oscar nomination for "Leaving Las Vegas," is joining the cast of CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Her first appearance as an investigator will be Feb. 15.

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