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Venice (AFP) - "Everest", an account of a 1996 disaster on the world's most famous mountain, got the 72nd Venice film under way on a high note Wednesday with the $65-million production winning praise for its use of 3D technology to bring the majestic scale of the Himalayas to the silver screen. Director Baltasar Kormakur's two-hour film recounts the events of May 10-11, 1996, when eight climbers died near the summit after being caught in ferocious blizzard conditions. In particular it focuses on the internal dynamics and characters of two groups of guides and climbers, one led by New Zealander Rob Hall, played by Australian actor Jason Clarke, the other by American Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal).
Legendary metal band Motorhead canceled a show Wednesday after a series of abbreviated performances amid renewed health concerns for famously hard-living frontman Lemmy. The English rockers left the stage in Austin, Texas after playing three songs Tuesday, with the 69-year-old Lemmy telling the crowd, "I can't do it," according to social media postings. It said that Lemmy was suffering from altitude sickness after a performance in the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado.
Brittany Howard, frontwoman of blues rock sensations Alabama Shakes, has unexpectedly put out her second album within the space of a few months -- this one as part of a side project. The new album is entitled "Thunderbitch" by a band of the same name that includes Howard and members of lesser known independent acts. Thunderbitch bears musical similarities to Alabama Shakes -- with blues, soul and country influences to a driving garage rock -- but tilts more to the heavier side.
China has approved for release the first film with gay principal characters, the movie's director said, in what some are calling a breakthrough in the country's heavily-censored media. Director Wang Chao announced on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, that censors had given "Seek McCartney" permission for a cinema release. China only decriminalised homosexuality in 1997, but conservative attitudes remain widespread and discrimination is common, although tolerance is greater in major cities.
Flores, a 14-year-old from the Peruvian highlands, has racked up more than a million views since posting her cover of the Michael Jackson hit on YouTube on July 27. Quechua, the language of the Incas, has faced such stigmatization since Spanish conquistadors colonized Peru in the 16th century. "We did this in Quechua so the world sees that we have an identity and that we're proud of our culture, that we're not at all ashamed of our culture or the Quechua language," she told AFP.
Skarlatos was the last contestant unveiled Wednesday ahead of the ABC reality show's September 14 season kick-off that will also feature Australian teenage conservationist Bindi Irwin, daughter of late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, and US actor Gary Busey. Also eyeing the Mirror Ball trophy are "Queen of Funk" Chaka Khan and celebrity chef Paula Deen, who has slowly returned to the public eye following a damaging 2013 scandal over racist remarks. Victor Espinoza, the jockey who rode American Pharoah to the Triple Crown in 2015, will also be part of the mix that includes a total of 13 contestants, each paired with pro dancers.