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February 21, 2014 | By Tony Perry
SAN DIEGO -- The secretary of defense announced Friday that he would not reconsider the Medal of Honor nomination of a Marine from San Diego who was killed in Iraq. Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed with his two predecessors that the nomination of Sgt. Rafael Peralta does not meet the "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" standard required for the nation's highest award for combat bravery. Peralta, an immigrant from Mexico who enlisted the day he received his green card, was killed in November 2004 while Marines were clearing houses in Fallouja of barricaded insurgents.
February 20, 2014 | By Mikael Wood
Pharrell Williams looked wiped out. Late on a recent evening, the singer-rapper-producer was shuttling between two studios at a Melrose Avenue recording complex. In one he was working on music for this spring's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," which he's scoring along with Hans Zimmer; in the other he was supervising final mixes for his upcoming solo album. Now Ryan Seacrest's people had arrived to shoot Williams' cameo in a video, set to his song "Happy," marking the 10th anniversary of the radio host's popular morning show.
February 15, 2014 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
The first months of the year are, by consensus, the bleakest of cinematic times. But not so much if, like me, you are a lover of documentaries, someone who revels in the pleasures of the nonfiction film. Proofs of the remarkable strength of documentaries in this day and age are manifold right around now. If you were fortunate enough to go to last month's Sundance, for instance, a prime nonfiction showcase that this year screened some 40 documentaries from around the world, you got a peek at the best of what 2014 will offer.
February 14, 2014 | By Mike Boehm
Opting for arts-administration and fundraising credentials over star power, the White House announced Wednesday that President Obama will nominate Jane Chu, president and chief executive of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo., as the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Chu has led the Kauffman Center since 2006, when it was being planned. She oversaw a $414-million campaign to build the center, which opened in September 2011. Chu, who has spent most of her life in the Midwest and Texas, has had a much lower national profile than most nominees for the NEA chairmanship over the past 20 years.
February 13, 2014 | By Randee Dawn
Pinning down the "best" scene of any Oscar-nominated performance is something of a Stygian nightmare for producers because - as they correctly protest - if an actor or actress has been nominated, they have far more than one great scene. But when ballots are being ticked off by academy voters later this month, most of them will have a single, crystallizing, moment held in their memory that helps them choose one performance over another. Here, then, are 10 of those great, possibly award-winning, moments: Christian Bale / "American Hustle" The setup: To avoid jail time, two low-level con artists are enlisted by an FBI agent to teach them how the business works … but the agent may be the one who ends up getting conned.
February 13, 2014 | By Martin Tsai
This year's Academy Award documentary short subject nominees prove more substantial than their animation and live-action counterparts. Of the three Oscar shorts categories, the docs - a supersized collection of works broken down here into two separate programs - are the most cohesive bunch, with themes of mortality and reconciliation. Two shorts from Program A feature subjects already well documented elsewhere. "The Lady in Number 6" profiles Alice Herz Sommer, the now-110-year-old pianist who recited Chopin's études from memory while inside the Theresienstadt concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic.
February 13, 2014 | By Randee Dawn
Alexander Payne is a born director. Not just thanks to his six feature film credits (including "Election," "About Schmidt" and the current Oscar nominee "Nebraska") but because even in a brief meeting he finds ways to assert control - over old misquotes, article angles and declining to put certain topics on the record that are off-message. He's probably smarter than you are and speaks with a thoughtful eloquence that doesn't quite hide that he knows it. Yet he wins Oscars for his scripts ("Sideways," "The Descendants")
February 11, 2014 | Jonah Goldberg
Of course it's too early to talk about 2016. Now that we've gotten that out of the way.... The most interesting dynamic so far is that the Democrats are behaving like Republicans - and vice versa. Since 1940, with the arguable exception of Barry Goldwater, Republicans have nominated the guy next in line. Thomas Dewey almost beat Wendell Willkie for the nomination in 1940, so in 1944 - and 1948 - it was his turn. Dwight Eisenhower, whom both parties wanted as their nominee, was a special case, given that whole invading-Europe-and-defeating-Hitler thing.
February 11, 2014 | By Joe Flint
Having failed in its initial effort to buy Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications now wants to take over the company's board of directors. On Tuesday Charter announced a slate of directors it will nominate to Time Warner Cable's board at its annual meeting later this year. The 13 nominees include James Chiddix, a former chief technology officer for Time Warner Cable and Lisa Gersh, former president of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Oxygen Media. The hostile move comes about a month after Time Warner Cable rejected Charter's unsolicited offer of $132.50 a share and sets up a proxy fight for the company.
February 7, 2014 | By David S. Cloud
WASHINGTON -- Robert O. Work, a retired Marine and former Navy official, was nominated Friday to be deputy Defense secretary, a key job as the Pentagon faces budget cuts and ethics troubles. If confirmed by the Senate, Work would focus on day-to-day budget and policy decisions, leaving to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel the pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and other high-profile problems, officials said. Hagel called Work a highly respected expert on the budget, technology and military affairs, and told a news conference that Work would be returning to the Pentagon “at a very, very challenging time.” Work was known as a careful analyst on budget and weapons acquisition issues when he served as undersecretary of the Navy from 2009 to 2013.
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