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BC Spider-Verse connection

The animation team behind the new movie "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" knew it had to be different.

"I think we all knew that the first question we'd be asked out of the gate is why are we making another 'Spider-Man?'" said Joshua Beveridge, head of character animation at Sony Pictures Imageworks, with a laugh.

"We wanted that to be visually obvious, because there's all kinds of things you can do in animation you can't do in any other medium."

After six live-action movies in 15 years featuring the webbed crusader, the team felt the new offering needed to look completely unique. A fresh animation style also suited the story, which centres on Miles Morales, a Brooklyn teen of African-American and Puerto Rican heritage who gets bitten by a radioactive spider.

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise. They used computer-generated animation to craft an esthetic that looks like a mixture of traditional hand-drawn animation and CG, even figuring out a way to do hand-drawn line work on top of three-dimensional characters.

"We're just aesthetically combining that mixed-media feel," he said. "I think a lot of the ingredients we used have existed in other places, but this combination is new."

Beveridge, 36, is based in Culver City, Calif., but the majority of the 180-person animation team on this film worked out of Vancouver, he said.

"That's where the muscle and the heart is. That's where the whole team is. That's where the movie was actually made," he said.

Vancouver is booming as a graphics hotspot with about 60 animation and visual effects studios. It helps that the city is diverse, has strong art schools and is an attractive place to live, said Beveridge.

The movie pushes boundaries with its content as well as its style. Based on comic book characters created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli, the film follows Morales as he develops superpowers including camouflage, sticking to objects and incredible hearing.

But when criminal mastermind Kingpin develops a nuclear supercollider that opens up a portal to other universes, different versions of Spider-Man are pulled into Morales's world. An older Peter Parker appears alongside a number of new spider-heroes, including anime-inspired Peni Parker.

Beveridge said there are dramatic moments in the story that help elevate animated movies as a genre.

"Animation's always been somewhat relegated to the kiddie table, in feeling like it's a movie just for kids, and because Spider-Man transcends that expectation — he's someone that more people are just aware of to begin with — we got to make our performances slightly more mature, and make it even more for everyone."

The film won rave reviews ahead of its release on Friday. Beveridge said he's relieved after feeling nervous about how it would be received.

"We knew we were taking risks. We wanted something different and when you're living with those decisions for so long in secret, you end up having doubts that you're living with as well," he said.

"One of the lessons I'm walking away with after completing this project is: In art, if you're living in fear, that probably means you're onto something."



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Shakira tax evasion charges

Spanish prosecutors have charged pop music star Shakira with tax evasion, alleging she failed to pay more than 14.5 million euros ($16.3 million) between 2012 and 2014. The Colombian singer denied the charges.

The charges published Friday allege that Shakira listed the Bahamas as her official residence for tax purposes during those years but was in fact living in Spain with her partner, Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique.

Taxe rates are much lower in the Bahamas than in Spain.

Shakira said in a statement Friday through her representatives that she was not a legal resident in Spain during the years in question and owed nothing to the Spanish tax authorities, who are using her "as a scapegoat" to frighten other taxpayers into coming clean.

Prosecutors in Barcelona said Shakira's travel abroad was for short periods because of professional commitments, while most of the year she stayed in Spain. They want her to pay tax in Spain on her worldwide income.

Shakira officially moved to Spain for tax purposes in 2015, after having two children by Pique.

A magistrate will assess whether there is enough evidence to put Shakira on trial.

Prosecutors want Shakira to pay a bond of 19.4 million euros — the amount they say she owes in tax, plus 33 per cent, in accordance with Spanish law. Otherwise, they recommend a court freeze of her assets to that amount.

Shakira was named in the "Paradise Papers" leaks that detailed the offshore tax arrangements of numerous high-profile individuals, including musical celebrities like Madonna and U2's Bono.

The documents were obtained by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and investigated by Spanish news website El Confidencial.

Spain's tax authorities referred their probe to the Barcelona prosecutor's office a year ago.



Royal Christmas photos

British officials have released the photos chosen by members of the royal family for their Christmas cards.

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow. Prince Harry and Meghan chose a black and white motif that shows the newlyweds admiring a fireworks display at their evening wedding reception in May.

For ardent gardener Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the choice was a photo that showed them gazing lovingly at one another while sitting on a bench surrounded by greenery.

And Queen Elizabeth II? Buckingham Palace officials say there are no plans to release an image of the card used by the queen and her husband, Prince Philip.



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Keira Knightley gets OBE

Keira Knightley received an OBE for her services to drama and charity from British Royal Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

The Atonement star received the Order of the British Empire after being named in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list as a recipient of the honor.

She was recognized for her Hollywood film career and for her work with charities.

Keira was dressed in a pale yellow tweed suit by Chanel and a natty matching boater hat perched atop her head and posed for pictures ahead of the event alongside her parents, playwright mum Sharman Macdonald and actor father Will Knightley, and her husband, Klaxons star James Righton.

While Chanel ambassador Keira was perfectly presented for her special moment with Prince Charles, James side-stepped royal protocol by not wearing a tie with his grey morning suit.

The star has twice been nominated for an Oscar, receiving a Best Actress nod in 2006 for Pride and Prejudice and a Best Supporting Actress nomination for 2014's The Imitation Game.

The 33-year-old has been a visible supporter of charities Oxfam and WaterAid.

During a trip to a refugee camp in South Sudan in 2014, Keira pleaded for help for those living in poor conditions in Jonglei. Conflict had driven 1.5 million people from their homes into temporary camps.

"They love their children as we do, they want an education for them, they want to give them a secure home and the freedom to run about in safety," the Colette star said at the time. "Instead, they watch, powerless, as their toddlers play by the sewage"there's nowhere else for them."



Janet, Stevie get HoF nod

Janet Jackson and Stevie Nicks are among the music legends who will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year.

The Together Again hitmaker, 52, will join her brothers Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon, Michael, and Tito who were inducted in 1997 as The Jackson 5. Stevie is already a member with her band Fleetwood Mac, but will now be an inductee in her own right.

After hearing the news, Janet told Rolling Stone magazine: "Thank you Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I am truly honored and I am happy to be in there with my brothers."

Michael was also inducted as a solo artist in 2001.

The Rumours singer, 70, said she was delighted to be recognised for her solo work as well as for fronting Fleetwood Mac.

"I have a lot to say about this," she explained in a statement, "but I will save those words for later. For now I will just say, I have been in a band since 1968. To be recognized for my solo work makes me take a deep breath and smile. It's a glorious feeling."

Stevie is now the only woman to enter the Hall of Fame on two occasions.

The other acts joining them at the induction ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York in March are British bands Radiohead, Def Leppard, The Cure, Roxy Music, and The Zombies.

Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first album or single. Kraftwerk, Todd Rundgren, Rage Against the Machine, Rufus & Chaka Khan, and LL Cool J were all nominated for 2019 but were not picked by music icons and experts.

Def Leppard rocker Joe Elliott, whose group topped a fan vote ahead of the selection, said: "How wonderful to be in the same club as the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and The Who and Queen...It's a nice badge of honour."

New Hall of Fame members are asked to perform at their induction ceremony.



Why Lenny didn't change

Lenny Kravitz has confessed that he recently wore the same outfit for 30 days in a row.

The Grammy Award-winning rocker made an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers on Wednesday night to promote his new album Raise Vibration, which he recorded in a small town in The Bahamas.

During the chat, Lenny explained that he enjoyed writing the songs while surrounded by nature, and can sometimes go for an entire month without a wardrobe change.

"I will be quite honest with you, I get into this thing because when you're on tour and when you're doing all this stuff you change clothes every night, you can't wear the same suit you wore last night," he said. "So, I get there and I'm like, 'Screw it, I'm not changing clothes. I don't want to change clothes.' I wore the same jeans and jean shirt for 30 days. When it gets to the point where I can't stand myself, I get out a hose and get my bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap... and I wash 'em, wring them out, throw them on a rock, let 'em dry for an hour, put them back on, wear them for another 30 days."

Lenny went on to explain that he is easy to spot on the island due to his unconventional outfits. However, the locals are so "mellow" that they couldn't care less about what he wears or what he does.

"They know that I do this thing over in this world over here but they don't care, they're not impressed. And they think it's funny when fans come looking for me because they'll say, 'We're looking for Lenny Kravitz, where can we find him?' (They'll say), 'Lenny, you're looking for Lenny? The guy that doesn't bathe and wears the same clothes for a month and has no shoes?'" the 54-year-old laughed.

Additionally, Lenny joked that his neighbors rarely care when he invites celebrity pals over, even if they are one of The Rolling Stones.

"I took Mick Jagger to my town once and I took him to a friend's house and we sat down and the guy offered us something to drink and he looks at Mick and goes, 'So what do you do?'" he smiled.



Swift used tech on crowd

Taylor Swift reportedly used hidden facial recognition technology at one of her shows earlier this year in a bid to identify known stalkers.

The Bad Blood hitmaker has been beset by stalker problems and earlier this year a man was arrested with a knife and ammunition outside her Los Angeles home.

According to Rolling Stone, at Taylor's concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in May fans passed a kiosk showing rehearsal clips of the star - where a hidden camera secretly scanned their faces to cross-reference them with a database of hundreds of her known stalkers kept at a Nashville "command post."

Mike Downing, chief security officer of Oak View Group, an advisory board for major concert venues, tells the magazine: "Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working."

He claims to have attended the gig to witness a demonstration of the new anti-stalker software. Bosses at Ticketmaster are also considering using facial recognition technology at concerts, but say they will be "careful" about its implementation due to privacy concerns.

Taylor's representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Last week, a man who broke into Swift's New York townhouse and slept was jailed for six months after pleading guilty to one count of attempted burglary and one count of criminal contempt.

Obsessed fans are a constant menace to the 29-year-old singer as in addition to unwanted home visits, a man was arrested at one of her shows in Austin, Texas in 2016 after bombarding her family with vile emails.

Other stars who have had to be wary of stalkers include British popstar Lily Allen, who has spoken out about the trauma she suffered at the hands of her tormentor, Kendall Jenner, and Katy Perry.



Thrones almost killed career

Jason Momoa struggled to find work after starring in Game of Thrones as casting directors assumed he didn't speak English.

The hunky Hawaiian won legions of fans as the nomadic warrior king Khal Drogo in the hit fantasy series - but mainly spoke in an invented language.

As a result, when the 39-year-old's character was killed off at the end of season one, he struggled to get acting jobs.

"I didn't get much work after that," he tells U.K. chat show host Graham Norton. "I mean, what do you do with that - he (his character) doesn't speak English, he's not funny and he just hurts people. I played that character well so it was a bit challenging afterwards. People would literally say, 'Wow, you speak English!'"

Jason, who has two daughters, Lola Iolani, 11, and Nakoa-Wolf, 10, with fellow actress Lisa Bonet, confesses that his supposedly starmaking role left him struggling for money.

He explains: "2013 and I was literally broke - but the future would be bright! I couldn't say anything to anyone for years and I can't keep a secret to save my life. It was very hard for me so, I am glad we are now here."

Happily, he is now the star of the superhero blockbuster Aquaman - but he has saved watching his biggest moment until he can do so with his kids.

"I have two babies aged 10 and 11," adds. "They were on set for the whole filming and they made me promise them that I wouldn't watch it until I can watch it with them. I want to share it with my children and sit and hold their hands - it's a rare moment for a father and generally, they can't watch the things I do!"

Aquaman is in cinemas now.



J.Lo's mom hit in head

Jennifer Lopez's mom was hit in the head by fans scrambling to get an autograph from the singer on Wednesday.

The actress was swarmed by fans when she arrived outside Sirius Radio in New York to promote her new movie Second Act on Wednesday. As the singer made her way through the chaotic crowd, signing autographs for fans, her mother Guadalupe followed behind and was accidentally hit in the head by an autograph hunter holding a photograph on a clipboard.

Video footage shows Guadalupe holding the right side of her head with her hand as Jennifer stops signing and looks concerned about her mother. The security guards then create a wider path through the crowd as Jennifer and Guadalupe head inside, with Jennifer placing her arm around her mum's shoulders as she guides her through the chaos, shaking her head as she goes.

That's not the only close fan encounter Jennifer has had during her publicity tour for Second Act. On Tuesday, she headed to the AMC Bay Plaza 13 cinema in the Bronx, New York, where she grew up, to surprise fans watching an advanced screening of the movie, and as she hugged fans and posed for selfies, one man took the bold move of going in for a kiss on the cheek.

Jennifer, who laughed off the encounter, explained to Entertainment Tonight why she picked the venue.

"We are going to do a surprise everybody! We're in the Bronx, this is where I used to go to the movies!" she said. "I think people know that I kind of take that Bronx flag with me wherever I go, that Jenny from the block, that's just who I am. So whenever I get to come back here and bring what I do and show it and share it, it just has a little bit of a nostalgic, cozy, fuzzy feeling for me."

She was joined by boyfriend Alex Rodriguez and co-stars Leah Remini, Treat Williams and Vanessa Hudgens.



Kanye reignites Drake feud

Kanye West is not sending Christmas cheer to Drake.

West appeared to reignite a feud with the fellow rapper in a series of tweets on Thursday in which he claimed Drake had called trying to threaten him.

West wrote "So drake if anything happens to me or anyone from my family you are the first suspect - So cut the tough talk."

West alleged Drake was behind audience members rushing the stage and splashing fellow rapper Pusha T with liquid during a concert in Toronto in November.

Drake did not post a response. An email seeking comment was sent to a Drake representative.

The rappers have had an ongoing feud this year, but West had apologized to Drake in September.



2018's top movie moments

A film doesn't have to be great to have a great moment.

They're not mutually exclusive of course, but a great movie moment is something more ephemeral — a few minutes of pure, inexplicable joy, or even jaw-dropping disbelief that you want to revisit immediately. It's the kind of scene you fast-forward to, the kind you want to re-watch with friends and family, the kind that becomes a meme.

Here we look at some of our favourite movie moments from 2018 that stayed with us long after the credits rolled. Possible spoilers may follow.

ALLY TAKES THE STAGE IN "A STAR IS BORN"

Surely literal goosebumps are a good sign that you've just seen a pretty stunning movie moment. That's what happens every time I watch the electric "Shallow" scene in "A Star Is Born," and, specifically where Lady Gaga's Ally takes a deep breath and walks out on stage to join Bradley Cooper's Jackson Maine and sing her song in front of thousands of people.

PAST AND PRESENT MEET IN "MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN"

Ok, so "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" might barely qualify as a movie, but it has enough smile-inducing moments to give it a pass. Plus, is there a more enjoyable ending of a movie this year than when the young and old versions of all the characters meet up to sing and dance to "Super Trouper"? A little voice in your head might be asking: Are they all dead? And why is there so much metallic fabric in heaven? But then Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard and Colin Firth emerge from below a bar, beer in hand and tops zipped down to their belly buttons and logical inquiry just sort of drifts away.

RECREATING "THE SHINING" IN "READY PLAYER ONE"

In a film full of fanboy indulgences and movie nostalgia, Steven Spielberg got to geek out with his own idol, Stanley Kubrick, by recreating "The Shining's" Overlook hotel in "Ready Player One" and put his own spin on it. Spielberg would never let homage get in the way of his own storytelling, though, so he settles for a brief wink instead of a full on rehash.

KILLMONGER CHALLENGES T'CHALLA IN "BLACK PANTHER"

It's not often that you find yourself really wondering what is going to happen in a major superhero movie, but "Black Panther" kept audiences guessing and no more so than in one of the tensest and most exciting scenes of the year, when Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger — one of the year's greatest movie villains — challenges Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa for the throne, disarming the sitting ruler first with his words before they fight for the kingdom.

POOL PARTY IN "EIGHTH GRADE"

Is there anything more uncomfortable than a middle school pool party? How about one you were only invited to because a popular girl's mom has a crush on your dad? That's what Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is contending with in Bo Burnham's "Eighth Grade." Burnham's camera puts the audience right there with Kayla, as she makes her way through the house and to the carnival of souls outside, and we're left to only cringe and root for her through every agonizing moment.

EXPLAINING HARRY POTTER GANG THEORY IN "THE HATE U GIVE"

"The Hate U Give" is a drama, no doubt, but there are some moments of wonderful, heartfelt levity that audiences might not realize from just the logline or trailer alone. In fact some of the best scenes are the lighter ones, including the moment where Starr Carter's (Amandla Stenberg) no-nonsense dad, Mav Carter (Russell Hornsby) explains how the Hogwarts houses are like gangs.

JAILHOUSE SPIRIT IN "PADDINGTON 2"

The enormously kind bear from Darkest Peru meets one of his greatest challenges when he ends up in the slammer with some unsavoury cell block mates, but a little marmalade magic in the kitchen raises everyone's spirits, even Brendan Gleeson's Knuckles McGinty.

EDDIE BROCK EATS A LOBSTER IN "VENOM"

Was anyone more fully, totally committed to such a bizarre character this year as Tom Hardy was as Eddie Brock/Venom? Look no further than the so-out-there-it-works scene where, ravenously hungry, Eddie jumps into a live lobster tank at a fancy restaurant and takes a bite out of one of the crustaceans. It's an image I wish I could forget, actually, and yet...

BASTIAN GETS BLOODY IN "GAME NIGHT"

Olivia the West Highland White Terrier solidified her star status in "Widows," but her breakout role was just earlier this year as Jesse Plemons' dog, Bastian, in "Game Night," where she has the misfortune to be in the same room as a bleeding Max (Jason Bateman), one of the funnier moments of the year. Max notices his blood dripping onto the snowy white pup and tries to scrub it off with water. This of course just makes the little Westie pink and wet and itching to shake.

MOTHERHOOD MONTAGE IN "TULLY"

Pump. Feed. Change the diaper. Dispose of the diaper. Repeat. Jason Reitman and star Charlize Theron go through the monotonous repetition of life with a newborn in a wonderfully conceived montage in "Tully." It is funny, and dark and true. Because sometimes you're just so tired, you accidentally drop your phone on your baby.



OSO's Yuletide Tales

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra has chosen some of the best-loved holiday stories to help celebrate the spirit of Yuletide through words and music.

Its Yuletide Tales concerts will showcase talent from across the valley, including baritone and narrator Garry Gable, a massed youth chorus, and the OSO players.

Following a lively introduction with Leroy Anderson's Christmas Festival, three classic stories will be brought to life on stage: Dylan Thomas’s charming memories of his boyhood holidays in Wales, the earliest descriptions of Santa Claus in “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and Dr. Seuss’s classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

The Okanagan Symphony Youth Chorus will also be performing with the orchestra.

"Singing with the OSO is a completely different experience. It’s so exciting to be part of something bigger than us, and hearing our vocal parts played in the different instruments," says KSS student Charlotte Cruse.

OSO Music Director Rosemary Thomson says: "I can’t wait to share the stage with our Okanagan Symphony Youth Chorus and guest artist Garry Gable (who will channel his inner Boris Karloff) as we bring these classic stories to musical life. It is such a joy to rehearse these pieces, and I am so excited to share the spirit of the holidays with our audience for a fun-filled celebration."

  • Vernon Performing Arts Centre – Thursday, Dec. 20, 7 p.m. TicketSeller 250-549-7469.
  • Kelowna Community Theatre – Friday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. Kelowna tickets 250-862-2867.
  • Cleland Theatre Penticton – Saturday, Dec. 22, 2 p.m. Tickets 250-862-2867.


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