Entertainment wRap: Capt Kirk tweets, Tarantino, Skyfall

MANILA, Philippines - Some entertainment news from around the world (and space) from the week of December 31 to January 5: 

Captain Kirk of the Enterprise swaps tweets with an astronaut in space

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER. Captain Kirk's interest in space exploration continues. Picture from William Shatner's Twitter account

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER. Captain Kirk's interest in space exploration continues.

Picture from William Shatner's Twitter account

Star Trek fans were treated to a surprise on Friday, January 4, when William Shatner, who played James Kirk, captain of the starship Enterprise in the popular sci-fi series, exchanged tweets with a Canadian astronaut while the astronaut was in space.

Chris Hadfield, a mission specialist who has been stationed at the International Space Station since December 21, had been using Twitter to send back surreal landscape images of various parts of Earth such as the Sahara desert and some snow-covered Canadian cities. 

Intrigued by the images, Earth-bound William Shatner tweeted, “@Cmdr_Hadfield Are you tweeting from space? MBB,” the last 3 letters serving as a shorthand for “my best, Bill.”

Hadfield tweeted back without forgetting to properly address the captain of the Enterprise, “@WilliamShatner Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we’re detecting signs of life on the surface.”

The Twitter conversation caught the attention of the Canadian Space Agency who promptly offered to arrange a live chat between the actor and the astronaut, proving that literally and figuratively, one tweet can go a long, long way.

Adele and Taylor Swift are 2012’s top-selling artists in the US

NOT IN THE RED. Taylor Swift's 'Red' was second to Adele's '21' as best-selling album in the US in 2012. Image from the Taylor Swift Facebook page

NOT IN THE RED. Taylor Swift's 'Red' was second to Adele's '21' as best-selling album in the US in 2012.

Image from the Taylor Swift Facebook page

Adele and Taylor Swift can pat themselves on the back for a job well done last 2012 because they have just been declared last year’s the top selling artists in the US 

According to Nielsen, the music industry tracker, Adele’s album, “21,” is the first to top the list of bestsellers of the year for 2 consecutive years. Swift’s album, “Red,” comes close behind, selling more than 3.1 million copies in 10 weeks, the highest weekly sales for an album since 2002. 

Figures from Nielsen also show that music sales in the US reached an all-time high, with total number of purchases — for singles, albums, music videos — amounting to 1.66 billion, beating the record set in 2011.

The key driver to this gain was the demand for digital downloads. Sales of digital albums increased by 14.1% while sales of tracks went up by 5.1%. However, sales of physical mediums still composed the largest bulk of sales despite falling by 12.8% from 2011.

Compact disks are becoming less and less popular with sales dropping by 13%. But old-school is making a comeback with sales of vinyl records up by 17.7%.

Quentin Tarantino serves “Spaghetti Western” and gets praise and flak for it 

CRITICIZED, APPRECIATED. Quentin Tarantino offers his 'Spaghetti Western' in homage to the directors of Italian westerns before him. Photo from the Quentin Tarantino Facebook fan page

CRITICIZED, APPRECIATED. Quentin Tarantino offers his 'Spaghetti Western' in homage to the directors of Italian westerns before him.

Photo from the Quentin Tarantino Facebook fan page

American film director Quentin Tarantino has reason to relish his “Spaghetti Western,” another name for his latest film “Django Unchained,” an homage to Italian-made cowboy movies in the 1960’s. On Friday, January 4, Tarantino flew to Rome to receive a lifetime career prize at the premiere of the movie.

It was the “Macaroni Westerns,” movies by cult directors Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Leone, that inspired Tarantino because they were so “surreal and extreme.” 

The title of his own “Spaghetti Western” is a direct reference to Corbucci’s 1966 film, “Django” and the actor Franco Nero, who plays the lead character in the old film, has a cameo role in Tarantino’s film.

“Django Unchained” revolves around a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) who, after freeing a slave (Jamie Foxx), partners up with him to liberate his wife (Kerry Washington), from the clutches of an evil plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). 

The film has sparked heated debate in the US where it is criticized for its portrayal of African-American slavery.

African-American director Spike Lee said watching the film would be “disrespectful to my ancestors” adding on Twitter, “American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust”

Tarantino, during his press conference, said he would not “waste time” responding to Lee’s comments.

Helen Mirren’s star now shines on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

THE QUEEN OF CINEMA AND TV. Helen Mirren beside her Hollywood Walk of Fame star. Photo from the Dame Helen Mirren Facebook page

THE QUEEN OF CINEMA AND TV. Helen Mirren beside her Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

Photo from the Dame Helen Mirren Facebook page

British actress Helen Mirren, best remembered for her role as Elizabeth II in “The Queen” for which she won an Oscar, unveiled her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday, January 3. 

The 67-year-old actress saw her star for the first time in front of Tinseltown’s historic pub, the Pig n’ Whistle. Accompanying her in this momentous event were directors David Mamet and Jon Turteltaub.

Mamet just directed her in an HBO film about an American rock producer who was sentenced to prison for 19 years after being convicted for killing a one-time actress. Al Pacino stars as the producer while Mirren plays his lawyer.

Turteltaub directed Mirren in the 2007 movie “National Treasure: A Book of Secrets.”

The actress was born in London in 1945 and started as a stage actress. She was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and only began starring in films in the 60’s. Her acting range and versatility were strengthened and tested as she acted in a variety of genres, from historical dramas to action to musical comedies. 

Aside from winning an Oscar for Best Actress in 2007 for her role in “The Queen,” the role also garnered her a BAFTA and Golden Globe. She has again been nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Alma, the wife of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock in “Hitchcock.”

She has also earned 3 Emmy awards for playing Detective Jane Tennison in the television series, “Prime Suspect.”

“Skyfall” sits with Oscar runners in a best film shortlist by US producers

“Skyfall,” the latest James Bond movie directed by Sam Mendes, now sits comfortably in the best film shortlist of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) along with Oscar-tipped movies such as Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” and Ben Affleck’s spy drama, “Argo.” 

“Skyfall” is the first 007 movie to land a spot on the list.

Also in the list of PGA nominations are other films already generating Oscar buzz such as Quentin Tarantino’s Western homage, “Django Unchained,” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” the story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Nominated for the PGA’s Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award are Tom Hooper’s film musical, “Les Miserables” and Ang Lee’s novel-to-film adaptation, “Life of Pi.”

The PGA list is a very big deal in Tinseltown because its films usually go on to win Oscars. According to the Hollywood Reporter, films that bagged the PGA’s top prize have won the Best Picture Oscar 16 times in the last 23 years. - Rappler.com