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Kung Fu star David Carradine found dead in a Bangkok hotel room

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 5, 2009

THE TIMES

David Carradine

David Carradine, who rose to fame as a young monk in the popular 1970s television series Kung Fu and more recently starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, was found dead in a Bangkok hotel room yesterday.

The 72-year-old American was naked with a rope around his neck when he was found by a hotel employee.

Thai police believe that his death was suicide and they estimate that he had been dead for as long as 12 hours when his body was discovered. It has also been suggested that Carradine’s death may have been a result of an attempt at sexual auto-asphyxiation.

Aurelio Giraudo, the general manager of the Swissotel Nai Lert Park Hotel in Bangkok, told The Times that Carradine was in Thailand to make a film and had checked in alone on Monday. The actor had spent a lot of time with the crew shooting Stretch.

Mr Giraudo said: “We are just saying, from respect to the family, that we will not comment.”A spokesman for the US Embassy in Bangkok said the investigation into Carradine’s death was a matter for Thai police and refused to speculate on the cause of death. “We are taking the situation very seriously as we do with any American who dies overseas,” he said last night. “We send our condolences to his family.”

The actor’s body was reportedly taken to the Chulalongkorn hospital in Bangkok for a postmortem examination. The results are expected within a few days.

Carradine came from a respected Hollywood acting family and had staged a comeback when he starred in Tarantino’s Kill Bill films. His latest completed film, Portland, is scheduled to be released later this year.

Although he appeared in more than 100 films and television dramas, his career had stalled after he abandoned his role in Kung Fu as Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin monk travelling through the American West in the late 1800s. He reprised the role in a mid-1980s television film and played Caine’s grandson in the 1990s syndicated series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.

In the Kill Bill films he was the leader of a group of assassins, and he won a Golden Globe nomination as best supporting actor for his role in the second film.

“All I’ve ever needed since I more or less retired from studio films a couple of decades ago is just to be in one,” Carradine said in 2004. “There isn’t anything that Anthony Hopkins or Clint Eastwood or Sean Connery or any of those old guys are doing that I couldn’t do. All that was required was somebody with Quentin’s courage to put me in the spotlight.” He also admitted past difficulties with alcohol and drugs, but said that he had conquered his addictions.

He wrote a memoir called Spirit of Shaolin and continued to make instructional videos on tai chi and other martial arts. Carradine was married five times, most recently to Annie Bierma

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Internet star Susan Boyle stuns again with ‘Memory’

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on May 25, 2009

THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER

 

susan-boyle-may25LONDON, May 25 — Susan Boyle, the frumpy Scottish spinster whose amazing voice has become a global YouTube sensation, stunned audiences again yesterday as she was voted through to the final of “Britain’s Got Talent”.

 Singing “Memory” from the musical “Cats”, the 48-year-old overcame initial nerves to produce another command performance, her soaring rendition winning the telephone vote on the talent show.

“You are one special lady, I have to say, you really are,” Simon Cowell, one of the panel of three judges, said after Boyle’s performance brought the audience to their feet.

Wearing a shimmering purple dress, Boyle looked far more primped and preened than she did on first appearance on the show last month, when her dowdy looks and quirky manner provoked titters from the audience, who assumed she couldn’t sing.

This time, her hair was coiffed, her eyebrows were plucked and she looked almost every inch a star in the making.

“What pressure?” she said when asked afterwards if she was nervous. “It was really good tonight, I really enjoyed it … I’m very happy to be here and thank you all for your support.”

Boyle left the judges openmouthed last month with her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables”, which almost immediately became an Internet sensation, watched more than 60 million times on YouTube.

With appearances since on US chat shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Larry King, Boyle — who has joked that she has never been kissed — has become a global sensation, her age and appearance conflicting with most images of modern celebrity.

APOLOGY

After her performance yesterday, Cowell was moved to apologise to Boyle, saying she had been poorly underestimated.

“You know what, I just want to apologise because of the way we treated you before you sang the first time,” he said. “You made me and everyone else look very stupid and I’m very happy for you, very proud for you.”

Boyle, who sang in choirs as a youngster but always dreamed of a career in London’s West End, tried to shut him up, saying she had paid no attention to the global furore.

Since her performance in April, television crews from around the world have camped outside her home in rural Scotland and newspapers have dedicated countless pages to her.

A fan site dedicated to Boyle is titled “Never judge a book by its cover”.

In yesterday’s semi-final, Boyle defeated seven other acts including a belly dancer and a Darth Vader impersonator to get through to the final on Saturday.

She will be joined there by Diversity, a troupe of street dancers who came second yesterday, and two other acts yet to be decided from the second semi-final.

Boyle’s meteoric rise to fame has made her the bookmakers’ firm favourite to win the contest. The winner will perform at the Royal Variety Show and receive a cheque for £100,000 (RM555,000). — Reuters

Jackie Chan Strikes a Chinese Nerve

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on April 24, 2009

The New York  Times

BEIJING — Jackie Chan, the Hong Kong martial arts star well known for showing his own failed stunts at the end of his films, may have another blooper to his credit.

“I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled,” Jackie Chan said during a gathering of Chinese government officials and business leaders.

 

When Mr. Chan told a high-level gathering of Chinese government officials and business leaders last weekend that Chinese people were ill equipped to handle liberty, he found himself on the receiving end of a verbal thrashing from across the Chinese-speaking world that is still reverberating.

“I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled,” Mr. Chan said during the Boao Forum, the annual economic conference held on Hainan Island with a keynote speech by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. “If we are not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want.”

The response was strongest in Hong Kong and Taiwan, which Mr. Chan, one of Asia’s wealthiest and best-known entertainers, held out as particularly “chaotic.” But even some intellectuals in mainland China spoke out against stereotyping Chinese as people who crave authoritarian leadership.

Apple Daily, one of Hong Kong’s biggest newspapers, used its front page to anoint him “a knave.” Politicians in Taiwan, the self-governing democratic island that China claims as sovereign territory, described him as “idiotic” and “ignorant.” Albert Ho, a Hong Kong legislator, called Mr. Chan a “racist,” adding: “People around the world are running their own countries. Why can’t Chinese do the same?”

Here on the mainland, a writer published online by The People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, gave him a thumbs down. “I guess Jackie Chan has never experienced the lack of freedom, and has not been cruelly controlled,” the commentator, Li Hongbing, wrote.

As the storm gathered, words turned to action: the mayor of Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, dropped Mr. Chan as an ambassador for the 2009 Summer Deaflympics in Taiwan. The Hong Kong Tourism Board said it would reconsider his role as its most high-profile spokesman. On Facebook, more than 8,000 people threw their weight behind a tongue-in-cheek effort to dispatch Mr. Chan to hypercontrolled North Korea.

“I wouldn’t watch his movies again unless he apologizes,” said Shing Hiu-yi, vice president of the Students’ Union Council at Hong Kong University, one of many groups that have been issuing condemnations and calling for boycotts. “What he said was insulting to the Chinese people.”

On the other hand, few have publicly acknowledged that Mr. Chan’s sentiments, even if “taken out of context,” as his spokesman insisted, are quietly accepted or embraced by many Chinese. The Communist Party has long argued that the people of China are ill suited for Western-style democracy. Even many educated Chinese unabashedly insist that the bulk of their brethren are too unschooled or unsophisticated to participate in matters of politics and governing.

Give the people too long a leash, the thinking goes, and everyone will end up strangled.

Russell Leigh Moses, a Beijing-based analyst of Chinese politics, said that there was a prevailing sentiment in the Chinese-speaking world that too much freedom could only fuel disharmony and instability, viewed as archenemies of China’s drive to put economic development first.

“Jackie Chan said those things because he thinks they are true, and there are major sections of society who couldn’t agree with him more,” Mr. Moses said. “But such thinking is increasingly out of touch with this simmering debate about what the extent of state authority should be.”

Mr. Chan’s remarks provoked some navel-gazing, especially on the Internet. In a subtle subversion, Yan Lieshan, one of China’s best-known writers, suggested that no amount of government control could help a nation lacking manners and morals. Writing in Southern Weekend, a liberal-leaning newspaper in Guangzhou, Mr. Yan bemoaned the neighbors who dump trash on his sidewalk and the cars that speed down his narrow street. “How I wish the relevant authorities would come and enforce the rules, but there is no one to control them,” he wrote. “When you lodge a complaint, no one responds.”

Although he was reared in Hong Kong by parents who fled mainland China, Mr. Chan, 55, has been an unalloyed Chinese patriot. He sang during the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, and he angrily denounced protesters who sought to interrupt the torch relay. During an earlier swat at electoral politics, he called the 2004 presidential elections in Taiwan “the biggest joke in the world.”

Even if he believes that Chinese people need more control, many observers suggested that Mr. Chan was simply seeking to stroke the authoritarian government that recently banned his latest film, “Shinjuku Incident,” because of excessive violence.

Hu Xingdou, an economics professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said he was so infuriated by what he described as Mr. Chan’s pandering that he was organizing a boycott of a May 1 concert Mr. Chan had scheduled at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing.

“It’s easy to sacrifice freedom when you’re treated like a V.I.P. or some high-level official every time you come to China,” said Mr. Hu, who is known for his tart criticisms. “I’m sure Jackie Chan has never thought about the suffering of the little people who have no power.”

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