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Quick Takes: U.K. OKs 'Ecstasy' at last

February 01, 2012

The only movie ever banned in Britain for blasphemy was finally approved for distribution Tuesday, 23 years after it was outlawed.

The experimental 19-minute film "Visions of Ecstasy" features scenes of Jesus being seduced on the cross and became a free-speech cause célèbre after Britain's film censors refused to give it a rating in 1989, a requirement for legal distribution.

Blasphemy was abolished as an offense in 2008 and on Tuesday the film board gave Nigel Wingrove's film an "18" rating, meaning it may be viewed by adults. The board acknowledged the film would be "deeply offensive to some viewers" but was unlikely to cause harm.

—Associated Press

John Legend honors Gaye

Grammy award-winning singer John Legend surprised a high school choir Tuesday at the Kennedy Center in Washington to help start a program encouraging young artists to confront social issues with their art, in honor of the late Marvin Gaye.

The project, "What's Going On … Now," echoes Gaye's lyrics and asks young people to express how things have changed in the four decades since Gaye's hit album "What's Going On."

Students can upload videos, photos, poems, music or any recordings of creative expression to the project's website (www.whatsgoingonnow.org) to answer that question.

The Kennedy Center has partners in seven cities for the project, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland. The center created curriculum for teachers to bring the program into their classrooms, or students can join on their own.

—Associated Press

Adele cleared to sing at Grammys

Sidelined since early October to deal with vocal cord trauma, British singer Adele will return to performing shape at the Feb. 12 Grammy Awards.

Whether the artist would be cleared to sing after undergoing November surgery had remained one of the biggest questions heading into the ceremony, to be held at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

But the Recording Academy put speculation that Adele would sing on the telecast to bed Tuesday, announcing that the 23-year-old singer would perform for the first time in nearly five months on the Grammy stage.

Adele is the heavy favorite heading into the awards. Her "21" was the top-selling album of 2011, with a final tally of 5.82 million copies moved during the year.

Meanwhile, her nominated single "Rolling in the Deep," which will likely be the song Adele performs on the CBS telecast, was the year's bestselling cut with 5.81 million copies. Both numbers are taken from Nielsen SoundScan's year-end data.

—Todd Martens

Chaplin musical Broadway bound

It seems silence is golden these days — at least on stage and screen. The nearly mute "The Artist" is racking up awards and Oscar nods, and now "Becoming Chaplin," a musical portraying the silent film star, will be transferring to Broadway.

The play, which originated at the La Jolla Playhouse in fall 2010 as "Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin," is set to land in New York for the 2012-13 season. Casting hasn't been announced.

—Jamie Wetherbe

London theaters' box office up

London theaters had a strong year in 2011 despite the struggling British economy.

Figures released Tuesday show box-office sales of $849 million in the last year, a 3.1% increase from 2010.

The number of individual visits was down slightly, to just under 14 million, but those who did attend paid more.

Industry group the Society of London Theatre, which compiled data from 52 venues, attributed the decline to some venues temporarily closing while new shows were set up.

—Associated Press

Finally

Good luck: HBO has renewed horse race drama "Luck" for a second season, consisting of 10 episodes. The series, starring Dustin Hoffman, brought in 1.1 million viewers in its premiere Sunday night.

Actor honored: Sean Penn has been named ambassador at large for Haiti in recognition of his humanitarian work. The actor's J/P Haitian Relief Organization was set up a few months after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake to oversee a settlement camp.

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