Entertainment wRap: Snowden, J.Lo, Hello Kitty
Gaga over J.Lo in Turkmenistan and Hello Kitty in Singapore

MANILA, Philippines – Here are some entertainment stories from June 24 to 30.

First Snowden movie by Hong Kong filmmakers

VERAX. Hong Kong filmmakers beat Hollywood in making the first Snowden film. Image courtesy of The Guardian/Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald

A five minute-film produced by amateur Hong Kong filmmakers imagines the drama and suspense which must have unfolded as intelligence leaker Edward Snowden revealed secret information from US surveillance programs.

The film is titled “Verax,” after the codename Snowden gave himself.

“To be the first one to really do anything about it…it was quite invigorating,” cinematographer and editor Edwin Lee told AFP. “This is a spy movie that’s developing.”

The film was shot in locations where Snowden was believed to have stayed.

“It was a lot of adrenaline… it was all very guerilla filmmaking style,” Lee said.

Australian film director Phillip Noyce is also reportedly planning a film about the NSA whistleblower.

Snowden, 30, abandoned his high-paying job as an IT technician contracted to the National Security Agency and went to Hong Kong on May 20, where he began issuing leaks on NSA’s global gathering of phone calls and internet data. Afterwards, he escaped to Moscow where he remains holed up in an airport transit area.

Watch ‘Verax’ here:

Novelist Richard Matheson honored by sci-fi fans

Watch the trailer of ‘I Am Legend,” a film based on Richard Matheson’s novel of the same title:

Science fiction author and screenwritrer Richard Matheson was honored on June 26 for his life work, following his death on June 23 at the age of 87.

Matheson is best known for, among other works, his 1954 novel “I Am Legend,” which Hollywood has adapted three times, the latest being the 2007 film of the same title starring Will Smith. Matheson also wrote 14 episodes of the classic TV series “The Twilight Zone.”

Matheson wrote over 25 novels and nearly 100 short stories in his career spanning 5 decades.

“Richard was a genius whose visions helped bring legitimacy and critical acclaim to science fiction and fantasy,” said the Academy of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film in an email to AFP on Tuesday.

Matherson was to have been presented with the Academy’s Visionary Award in the 39th Saturn Awards.

Director Steven Spielverg, one of Matheson’s prominent fans, based his 1971 film “Duel” on one of the author’s short stories.

“Richard Matheson’s ironic and iconic imagination created seminal science-fiction stories and gave me my first break,” said Spielberg.

Turkman leader celebrates birthday with J.Lo

BIRTHDAY TREAT. J.Lo shakes it up in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov celebrated his 56th birthday with US pop diva Jennifer Lopez, who performed in his lavish party at a Caspian Sea resort.

Dressed in a clingy outfit, the singer danced with half-naked backing dancers and shook her famous behind in a rare performance for the Muslim country, watched by ministers, ambassadors and chief executives of state-owned companies, all of whom applauded enthusiastically.

She later appeared in a traditional Turkman dress to sing “Happy birthday, Mr President” along with stars from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and China.

J.Lo is believed to be the first major Western star to visit the isolated former Soviet republic.

Berdymukhamedov’s birthday bash is officially tied to Turkman cultural week, which culminated on Saturday, June 29, with the opening of a yacht club at the resort as well as a 20-minute fireworks display.

Members of J.Lo’s entourage enthusiastically tweeted the event”

Bands urge fans to put phones down during concerts

LIVE RECORDING? 'Use the recording device in our brains,' urges singer Tim Burgess

European Artists and fans are now speaking out against the rising trend of filming concerts on phones.

“People who would rather record a gig than actually look with their own eyes” are challenging the “very essence of the ‘live experience,'” said Glenn Max, a producer who has worked with Massive Attack, John Cale and Patti Smith.

“It is clear to artists that audiences are moving away from experiencing the music directly, preferring to feel it through their phone,” he added.

Tim Burgess, lead singer of The Charlatans, urged music fans to use the “recording device in our brains,” which “have far better effects than you can get on a phone.”

Many other artists share this sentiment, saying the trend not only affects the audience, but performers on stage as well.

“The destruction of music because of YouTube is enormous,” said Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman on returning to the stage.

But there are also conflicting ideas about this trend, if one considers footage uploaded on social media as being able to reach more fans around the globe.

Burgess points out the benefits to those who cannot afford tickets and “kids who maybe aren’t able to get to a gig” due to age restrictions.

Ultimately, the authority to ban filming concerts rests on the battered music industry, which has already seen technology decimate its revenues from record sales.

On the other hand, phone-wielding directors appear to pose little threat to the industry’s live music revenues, which have risen globally every year since 2006, hitting $23.5 billion in 2011, according to

Hello Kitty frenzy hits Singapore

KITTY CRAZE. Singapore goes wild over Hello Kitty. Photo from the McDonald's Singapore Facebook page

Police had to be called in on Thursday, June 27, to contain anxious Singaporeans who rushed to McDonald’s outlets to buy the promotional Hello Kitty plush toys being sold by the fastfood chain.

Hundreds had begun queuing from Wednesday night to get their hands on the kitten in a skeleton outfit, which depicted a character from the German fairy tale “The Singing Bone.”

It was the last of a series of six limited-edition Hello Kitty characters dressed in different outfits from popular fairy tales being sold by McDonald’s this month.

Chaos broke out in some outlets as supplies ran out.

Videos uploaded on social media show police mediating between aggravated customers.

Some customers took to venting on Facebook after they went home empty-handed, while others immediately put the toys up for sale online at far higher prices. The toys were sold for Sg$4.60 ($3.62) with set meals.

Singapore last went into a Hello Kitty frenzy in 2000, when McDonald’s sold a series of the toys in wedding outfits to usher in the new millenium.

Watch this heated discussion:

– With reports from Agence France-Presse/

Jennifer Lopez image by Helga Esteb from Shutterstock

Image of crowd recording a show by Faraways from Shutterstock

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