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Monday, April 14, 2014

Brazil struggles with its World Cup preparations


SAO PAULO (AP) — Although expectations are high for Brazil's football team at the World Cup, it's already clear the country didn't do a very good job preparing for the tournament.
With only two months before the opener, there are serious concerns about the country's readiness. Doubts remain about whether stadiums will be finished in time, and it's highly unlikely all promised infrastructure work will be completed.
Organizers will also have to worry about the widespread street protests that are expected during the tournament with demonstrators already unhappy about corruption, poor public services and the billions of dollars being spent to host the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
Even though Brazil was awarded the World Cup in 2007, local organizers are scrambling to complete all the necessary work. FIFA is more than worried, saying it's "a race" to make sure the country delivers everything it promised.
"Brazil will be a well-done World Cup," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said, then criticized local authorities for taking too long to start work projects. "Some of the delays is because there was no work for years. But we're on the way now to finishing the stadiums."
Three stadiums remain under construction, including the one hosting the opening match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12 in Sao Paulo.
All six venues that were expected to be ready by the end of last year missed FIFA's deadline. The other six had already been used during the Confederations Cup, but four of those also weren't ready when expected. One of the host cities, Curitiba, was nearly excluded from the competition because of the delays at its stadium.
Because the venues took so long to be ready, FIFA is now racing to install the temporary structures that are crucial for the media, sponsors and technical teams. Some of the host cities didn't want to pay for them even though they signed contracts saying they would.
The northeastern city of Recife didn't want to pay for its fanfest, which allows those without tickets to watch matches in public areas for free, prompting FIFA to say it could sue the city for breach of contract. It remains unclear if the event will happen.
"All is written, all is signed and all the responsibilities or duties for each party are very well known," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said.
There were so many difficulties in Brazil that football's governing body has already hinted that things will be done differently in Russia in four years.
"It's a lesson and definitely we will act differently," Valcke said. "We will have to find a different way of working for Russia 2018."
The biggest loser this time is Brazil itself, which for political reasons insisted in hosting the tournament in 12 cities instead of the eight that FIFA wanted and now is paying the price.
The local government didn't take full advantage of the World Cup and missed a series of opportunities to improve the country. Because of a lack of proper planning, some of the promised infrastructure projects were canceled and many will only be ready after the competition ends.
Airports won't be fully ready in time, according to industry experts, and there are also concerns with transportation projects and even with energy supply during the monthlong competition.
Back in 2007, then president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the World Cup stadiums would be financed mostly by private companies, but today it's known that public funds are behind the vast majority of them, either through loans or tax breaks.
That, in part, is what is expected to fuel the street protests across the country, many of which could turn violent, as happened during last year's Confederations Cup. The warm-up tournament was not directly affected, but demonstrators used the competition's international appeal to attract attention to their demands and complain against FIFA and the local government.
With about 150,000 professionals from security forces and armed forces available, the Brazilian government is promising that "the World Cup in Brazil will be the safest" ever despite the protests.
But there is little doubt organizers can't wait for the opening kickoff, when most of the focus will turn away from the off-the-field issues.
Then it will all be on the shoulders of Neymar and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who will have a much better chance to give Brazilians a reason to celebrate.
Follow Tales Azzoni on Twitter: www.twitter.com/tazzoni

'Mad Men' returns to lowest premiere in years


What worked for Breaking Bad might not be working for Mad Men.
AMC unveiled the first half of Mad Men‘s split final seventh season to the lowest debut audience since the show’s second year. But unlike the cable network’s Breaking Bad — which climbed in the ratings with every season, including its similarly split two-year final run — only 2.3 million viewers watched Don Draper’s return Sunday night at 9 p.m. The acclaimed period drama then had two repeats for a grand total of 4.4 million. This marked the first of seven episodes that will air this year, with the final seven planned for 2015.
AMC pointed out to reporters that Mad Men is “the most upscale show on ad-supported television among adults 18-49, and sees significant time-shifting activity.” The network also noted these numbers are not far off from the sixth season’s average.
The second episode of AMC’s new historical drama Turn had 1.9 million viewers with its premiere airing — not good, but it’s a fair performance considering its lead-in.
Meanwhile, HBO’s Game of Thrones stayed strong with 6.3 million viewers, which is down a scant 5 percent from last week’s record-setting return. It’s also up 48 percent from last year’s second episode, and gained another 1.7 million across two replays.
The second episode of HBO’s new comedy Silicon Valley was down a bit more, averaging 1.7 million viewers, declining 15 percent from its debut. While Veep had 860,000, down 10 percent.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

'Rio 2' Beats 'Captain America: Winter Soldier' With $12 Million Friday

by Pamela McClintock

The new animated film is poised to win the weekend with a $45 million debut; supernatural thriller "Oculus" is beating Kevin Costner football movie "Draft Day."

Brazilian filmmaker Carlos Saldanha's new family film Rio 2 flew to the top of the Friday box office with $12 million from 3,938 theaters, enough to beat holdover Captain America: The Winter Soldierand putting the 3D animated film on course for a strong $45 million domestic debut.

The Fox Animation and Blue Sky sequel, returning JesseEisenberg and Anne Hathaway in the voice leads and earning an A CinemaScore across demos, opens exactly three years after the first movie took in $39 million on its first weekend domestically.

Rio 2 began rolling out in select foreign markets late last month, and has taken in north of $60 million to date. By this weekend, the $130 million film will have opened in most of the world, taking advantage of spring break holidays in the U.S. and much of Europe.

This time out, parrots Blu (Eisenberg) and Jewel (Hathaway) and their three offspring strike out on a trip to the Amazon rainforest with their owners, Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio(Rodrigo Santoro). The voice cast also sees the return ofwill.i.am, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan,Jemaine Clement and Jake T. Austin. New voice cast members include Andy Garcia, Bruno Mars, KristinChenoweth and Rita Moreno.

Disney and Marvel's Captain America 2 is certainly no slouch. The sequel, earning $11.9 million on its second Friday, is expected to drop a respectable 57 percent in its second weekend to $42 million. By Sunday, the superhero movie should have surpassed the $370.6 million earned worldwide by Captain America: The First Avenger in its entire run.

Elsewhere, new supernatural thriller Oculus is beating Ivan Reitman's football drama Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner.

From Mike Flanagan, Oculus grossed $4.9 million Friday for a projected $12 million to $13 million weekend. 

Relativity is releasing Oculus, costing just $5 million to make, in association with Jason Blum'sBlumhouse, MICA Entertainment and WWE Studios. Teaming for the first time, Relativity andBlumhouse acquired U.S. rights to Oculus at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival for $2.5 million.

The supernatural horror title, earning a C CinemaScore, stars Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites,Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff.

From Summit Entertainment, Draft Day grossed $3.6 million Friday for a soft $10.5 million weekend. The movie, receiving a B+ CinemaScore, stars Costner opposite Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Sam Elliott and Sean Combs. Reitman's company, Montecito Pictures, produced the $25 million film with OddLot Entertainment.

Summit's Divergent rounded out the top five, grossing $2.4 million from 3,110 theaters. The YA film adaptation is expected to gross $7.3 million for the weekend, pushing its total domestic earnings to $125 million.


Trump: Politicians 'all bull----, all talk'

By Alexandra Jaffe
Billionaire Donald Trump framed himself as a job-creating anti-politician in a preview of his potential 2016 presidential pitch to a crowd of conservatives in New Hampshire Saturday.

Speaking at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, a gathering of conservative activists and figures organized by Americans for Prosperity and Citizens United, Trump told the crowd that “we need somebody who’s gonna get things done, and politicians are all talk and no action.”

“All talk, it’s all bull----,” he added. “It’s all talk, and it’s no action.”
In contrast, he touted his work improving an ice-skating rink in New York City’s Central Park and defended himself against what he said were erroneous reports that he had filed for bankruptcy. He also told the crowd that America needs “somebody that’s going to make the great deals for this country.” 

“We need to make our country rich again,” Trump said.

He mentioned his plans for the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., which he plans to transform into a “tremendous hotel” that will create “lots of jobs,” he explained. 

Trump joked that its proximity to the White House was what made the location attractive to him.

“If I don't make the one thing, I can always have the other as a fallback position. I mean, it’s much bigger than the White House, and I’m going to try and make it just as nice,” he said, to laughter.

Trump has mulled a run for president multiple cycles but never yet pulled the trigger on a bid. The Freedom Summit, at which Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Ky.) as well as Mike Huckabee are all speaking, is seen as an early testing-ground for potential presidential contenders. 

Trump suggested this might be his time.

“I was really serious before but I’m taking a harder look this time,” he said.

And he knocked two of his potential opponents for the GOP nomination: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), whom he said was “a very nice person” but wants to “knock the hell out of Medicare and Social Security,” and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose recent comments on immigrants coming to the U.S. out of “love” Trump described as “out there.”

 TAGS:Donald Trump, 2016 Presidential race, Trump family

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/203406-trump-politicians-all-bullsht#ixzz2yhyOZcfB

Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Stephen Colbert has been named as David Letterman's replacement, taking over as host of CBS' "Late Show."

Letterman announced just last week he was retiring in 2015. According to CBS, Colbert is being given a five-year deal.

In making the announcement, Colbert said, "Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career. I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead. I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”

Colbert was part of "The Daily Show" from 1997 until leaving to host "The Colbert Report." Colbert has hosted that show on Comedy Central since 2005.


Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2014/04/10/stephen-colbert-late-night-david-letterman-replacement/#ixzz2yWMZV8xg

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Does ‘American Idol’ Ebb Mean Music’s Over for Fox?

The season-to-date primetime rankings may tell a different story, but there’s no question Fox is limping to the finish of the 2013-14 television season.

After good audience response to newcomer “Sleepy Hollow” in the fall, Fox’s start to 2014 was rocky. Reality kingpin “American Idol” took a tumble, and the net’s most promising new shows in recent years, comedy (“New Girl”) and drama (“The Following”), have been placing fourth in their timeslots.

Fox is not alone in its struggles — and next month’s return of “24” should give it a boost — but this is the time of year when, during “Idol’s” heyday, Fox typically dominated and opened up some distance on it rivals. And that’s what makes the net’s performance last month especially eye-opening.

During March, a clean four-week period with no major awards shows or dominant sports programming, Fox placed fourth among adults 18-49 all four weeks. In Nielsen’s “most current” ratings, which include two weeks of seven-day DVR playback, the network’s average rating of 1.6 (a 30% decline from last year) trailed CBS (2.1), ABC (2.0) and NBC (1.9).

Fox has now placed fourth for six consecutive weeks but it still isn’t in danger of falling below second place for the season; that’s because it aired both the Super Bowl and NFC Championship games in primetime this season. If you take sports out of the equation, the net’s in fourth place — a tick behind ABC and three-tenths behind both a rising NBC and declining CBS.

In years past, “American Idol” was capable of erasing all of Fox’s sins. But now the music competition is struggling at the same time other Fox programs have hit the skids.

Through March, “American Idol” was averaging a 3.8 rating in adults 18-49, and 13.2 million viewers overall for its two-hour Wednesday performance show — still pretty good numbers, especially for a series in its 13th year. But the numbers represent declines of 25% and 17%, respectively, vs. last year. And while this marks the third straight season “Idol” has lost 20% or more of its young-adult audience, this year’s dropoff has had a more meaningful effect on its status as one of TV’s top-rated (and most feared) programs.

Series airing on the competition, including “Survivor” and “Criminal Minds” on CBS and “Modern Family” and “The Middle” on ABC, have broken through with ratings firsts opposite “Idol” this season, and the music contest has been kept out of the weekly top 10 (or even 15) in most recent weeks.
But it’s hardly just the “Idol” nights of Wednesday and Thursday that are hurting Fox; the net was down in March by 25% or more on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

As the youngest-skewing major network, Fox would seem to be more vulnerable to DVR time-shifting. But even when looking at L+7 numbers for original episodes, “The Following,” “New Girl” and “Glee” are all down 20% or more this season. Vets like “Family Guy,” “Bones” and “The Simpsons” are holding up better, but they’re hardly a long-term growth solution.

Fox renewed a bunch of marginally rated shows for next season, but it will need some familiar pieces in a fall where the recent cancellation of “The X Factor” due to low ratings means the net will need to fill three additional hours.

Still, if there’s one upside to the decline of Fox’s music contests, it’s that it may be the impetus the network needs for a creative kickstart.

FILED UNDER:   American Idol Fox Weekly Online

Travel Will Happen in 2014


Richard Branson is one of the world's most high profile billionaires. His 40 year career spreads across air travel, mobile, financial services, hospitality and space travel.
With a net worth of $5 billion, he tells Fusion's Jorge Ramos, "I think it's very important to use your money to tackle issues you feel could make a difference in the world." And that's exactly what he's doing. After ten years of trying to fulfill his dreams of space travel, he says the Virgin Galactic will get his family on a rocket by September of 2014.
Credit: Jorge Ramos, Veronica Bautista and Randall Sommers