Monday, April 30, 2012

Media Man News Update - 1st May 2012

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PartyCasino.com Wins Media Man 'Online Casino of the Month' award

PartyPoker And PartyCasino Owner bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plans Return to US Market

What the media has said about wrestling over the years

ABC says sorry to Buttrose's ex-husband

Tax war over as Paul Hogan settles with ATO

Small screen, big impact

Freeway arrest over chauffeur airport stabbing

ABC makes full apology to Ita Buttrose’s ex-husband over claims he was “selfish”

Broadcasters disappointed with Convergence findings

'Jackman's talent unnerves Crowe'

The Voice wins ratings battle

MONA to hang Weeping Woman

Star inquiry set to clear Peter Grimshaw

Star Casino in the clear on sex and drugs but cloud over Grimshaw

Crown’s Macau JV Exit Would Raise Stakes For Echo: UBS

Gambling oversell ends badly for sports-mad males

Star casino inquiry set to clear Grimshaw

Creamfields drug bust: scores nabbed at Sydney dance festival

A perfect storm produces a terrific WWE Extreme Rules PPV

TNA News: Hulk Hogan teases a "momentum shifting move," names two former WWE stars have reached out to the company


WWE Hall Of Famer Calls Ric Flair 'A Loser,' Rips Ultimate Warrior & Bret Hart

Marvel mastermind Stan Lee in film of his own

Marvel Planning More Hulk?; Mark Ruffalo's signed for six pics

The Avengers assemble: Marvel's master plan to bring Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk and Thor together on screen is finally here

Fox CEO Promises 'The Wolverine' Will Be 'True Berserker and Bad Ass'

'The Avengers' flexes muscles overseas

Richard Branson to Make Movie of "Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell With the Rolling Stones"

Steven Spielberg's 'Jaws,' other restored films to be screened at Cannes

PartyCasino.com Wins Media Man 'Online Casino of the Month' award

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Virgin Casino Adds Stash of the Titans and Coyote Moon Slots

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Virgin Casino have added the Stash of the Titans and Coyote Moon slot games to their offering today – get a 100% welcome bonus up to £100 as well as a one off 100% deposit bonus up to £500 on the new slot games.

Stash of the Titans is a Microgaming powered slot game with 5 reels and 20 paylines. The main feature is the Free Spins bonus round where you can win up to 200,000 coins. You need to get 3 or more Medusa symbols across the reels to initiate the bonus game. You will then be rewarded with 15 free spins each with a 4x multiplier.

Coyote Moon is powered by IGT/WagerWorks and features 5 reels and 40 paylines. Similar to Wolf Run, it’s a low variance slot game which will give you plenty (but small wins). It has a Stacked Wilds feature where each reel is loaded with groups of 4 or more consecutive Wild symbols. This becomes significant in the Rising Moon Bonus feature as the Stacked Wilds give you bigger rewards. You can trigger the feature by getting 3 bonus symbols on reels 2, 3 & 4. You will then be rewarded with 5 free spins which come with richer stacked wilds. You can retrigger more free spins up to a maximum of 255 free spins.

If you haven’t got an account at Virgin Casino, now is the time – they offer a 100% welcome bonus up to £100. This means that if you deposit anything up to £100, you will get the same value free. When registering, click on the ‘Select A Bonus’ button and select the ‘Casino’ option – simple.

Furthermore, Virgin Casino are running a Cash Blast Off promo with a deposit bonus match up to £500. If you take up the welcome bonus today, you have time to get a 100% bonus up to £500 – yes, £500. You need to deposit by tomorrow and enter the bonus code BLAST500 to qualify.

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Mercedes Benz Fashion Week: Marvel Comics Inspired Fashion Marvellous

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Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia today officially enjoyed day 1 in Sydney, Australia.

Yesterday it was media and insiders day, but it was today when MBFWA once again got to show itself off to the world.

In a world where life can imitate art, and fashion can take on all sorts of different forms, Marvel Comics - Marvel Entertainment superheroes got a whole lot of flash...adding to the strong buzz that Marvel's 'The Avengers' is already enjoying at the Australian and international box office.

Day one at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia was a colour fans and colour buyers dream come true, start with three very different, but equally bright, collections to open our most famous and favourite fashion fest.

In recent years, Romance Was Born shows have been staged late in the evening with elaborate, stagey productions where the theatricality of the show may have been accused of overriding the actual garmets on display.

This time is was done very right. Romance Was Born opened Fashion Week in Sydney with a comparatively simple set inspired by the graphic Pop style of Marvel comics, cartoon superheroines and "Op Art".

Fashion models strutted up a lightning bolt-shaped catwalk showing off bright red wigs that brought us back to Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie images and memories. The makeup was what Fairfax Media and others have called "Kabuki-like", with big fake eyebrows, slashes of electric-blue eyeshadow and glossy red lips all the rage. Some media and buyers would have also thought of the KISS rock gods.

The clothes were also cartoon inspired. Marvel icon Stan Lee could not have dreamt his cartoons would once day be shown off on the world's most beautiful models. How about the Big Bridget Riley-style op art graphics on dresses and separates opened the show, before things got even crazier.

Romance Was Born is not for the conservative fashionista, but these days just about anything goes anyway. They put out clothing for parties and other events where wow factor and "look at me" rules. Multi-coloured digital print catsuits, sexy sequinned corseted, padded bomber jacket - interested... then this way out designer is for you ladies, or should that be 'Wonder Women'.

Queensland-based designer Gail Sorronda got a little more experimental this year. Ms Sorronda who enjoyed a strong response to showing her collection in Milan, Italy with the support of Dolce & Gabbana, has gone more for the type of bold colour and quirky print normally associated with designers such as Romance Was Born, moving away quite a bit from her traditional blacks and whites.

The title of her collection, Oh My Goth!, may have tricked a few fashion fans. Models stood motionless on spot-lit white plinths while groovy and scary music played. The models also showed off Pierrot-like black lips and pasty white faces, but this was contrasted with bright polka-dot blouses, patterned flares, tiered buttercup yellow dresses and headwear that reminded some media or Smarties - the confectionery brand.

Some media were not so happy about the darkness of the room, but it was done for the show - not the media. It showed them off wonderfully.

Gary Bigeni has a very quirky individual style – he wears riotous clashes of print and colour and currently sports bright blue hair – but the clothes he designs are clean, minimal and totally wearable.

He showed a refined collection of colour-blocked dresses, leather skirts and dresses, open-weave knitwear and prints that are well suited for a summer down under.

Rather than mashing up several bold colours together – as has been a popular trend in recent times – Bigeni mixed neutrals with bright seaside blues and fresh tangerines. There were elegant cropped pants, striped sweaters, draped skirts and cuffed shorts. All pretty cool stuff.

As we know, media always watches media, and the following observations have been noted, and blogged all over town...some of the fashion industry's best-known bloggers, editors and other media and PR folks are in 'Sin City' Sydney to catch Fashion Week. Vogue's Tim Blanks, Filipino Bryanboy, UK blogger Susie Bubble and Australian model-turned-blogger Candice Lake have all been spotted sitting front row, and photographer and media agencies like AAP, Media Man, Fairfax Media and Splash News & Picture Agency have all been spotted in or nearby to all the action. We suspect many news media will be working to the early hours of the morning getting all their stories and pictures out for what looks to be an outstanding festival for the iconic fashion show of shows down under.

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Celebs including Lara Bingle and Kate Waterhouse packed the front row as comic strip prints paraded around.

Louise Van der Vorst and Montana Cox were among the models who sported David Bowie inspired red mullet wigs and comical garments for the show were well... show stealers in the hearts and minds of many.

Luke Sales of Romance was Born said they had wanted to work with comics for quite a while.

"Our prints have always been photo-based and we wanted to do something more graphic with more pop which is what attracted us to comics," he said.

"We figured Marvel was the biggest and so simply asked if they wanted to come on board as a collaborative partner and they were thrilled.

"I think the partnership is perfect because our designs mirror the celebration of creativity and and imagination they are famous for."

The week began with a hick up or two for for celebrity blogger Bryan Boy however, who is attending for the week to report on Australian designers to his legion of loyal followers.

The superstar of the blogosphere was a highly anticipated front row star for the show, but after holding the runway for almost forty minutes they were forced to start without him.

"I went to the wrong place and then had to try and hail a cab, and then he dropped me to the wrong place and I finally arrived as it was finishing," Bryan Boy later disclosed. We're pleased to report that AAP, Splash News and Fairfax Media were all present - at least for most of the day's activities.

Kirrily Johnston added hints of hints of acid brights to her signature neutral palette while Manning Cartell has forcast bold colours and prints to be a sure thing as the weather warms up.

Camilla Franks, known for her embellished kaftans and resort wear wowed a celebrity studded front row including star of WAG nation Terry Biviano, Erica Heynatz and Michelle Bridges with her new ready-to-wear collection.

The look was overwhelmingly inspired by the jet-setter lifestyle with new silhouettes including jumpsuits and playsuits. A jet-set feel was also paramount at the Dylan Cooper show, in his fashion week debut after winning on Project Runway last year.

Celebrity red-carpet designer Aurelio Costarella didn’t let the crowd down with hand-dyed raffia, silk-covered crystals and mirrored sequins.

Just off Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York, Whitney Port, star of reality television series The City, turned designer, gave an international flavour to the day. Port showed off her collections Whitney Eve and WE by Whitney Eve.

Closing off the opening day was Ginger and Smart who are celebrating their tenth year in the industry.

Well done MBFWA... more marvellous days like this one please. Looking forward to move wonder women tomorrow.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Media Man News Update - 30th April 2012


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Casino controversy continues...

Affluent Chinese tourists are a significant component for James Packer’s hopes to construct a second Sydney casino at Barangaroo.

Mr Packer has found opposition to his plans for a second harbour-side casino in the form of Tourism Queensland chairman, Don Morris.

Consumer research provided by Tourism Australia supports Mr Morris’ claims that Chinese tourists are not visiting Australia just to gamble and visit casinos.

“Our traditional European, British and US markets have long been seduced by the uniqueness of Australia's easygoing, class-free culture. And the Chinese are the same, with this research ranking 'laid-back and easygoing' as their key motivator for visiting Australia, after safety,” Mr Morris told The Australian.

Mr Packer disagreed and said that without proper infrastructure, accommodation and entertainment “we will not get the tourism growth Australia deserves”.

He has support from Tourism Australia chairman and Crown board member Geoff Dixon.

“The Crown, Burswood and Star complexes are a lot more than casinos; they are integrated resorts that provide some of the best restaurants, convention and meeting facilities in Australia,” Mr Dixon said.

“To get very desirable venues you often need revenues from casinos."

Mr Packer said the rising middle class tourists spread throughout China and Asia “wants luxury hotels, great restaurants, high-end retail and an entertainment experience which usually includes the opportunity to have a gamble”.

Mr Dixon agreed claiming “they [high-end Chinese travellers] want all the things our research says, such as the environment and good food, but also many of them do desire the opportunity to visit casinos”.

Despite his lack of encouragement for a second Sydney casino, Mr Morris supported Mr Packer’s suggestion of a new hotel in Sydney.

“A new major Sydney hotel of the superb standard of Melbourne's Crown Towers would provide a vital and overdue tourism impetus to Sydney and benefit immensely the entire Australian tourism sector.”


The Darling in Sydney wins Best New Hotel Design at Asia-Pacific International Hotel Awards...

Sydney's new 5 star hotel The Darling, designed by Cox Richardson Architects has won the Best New Hotel Construction and Design 2012 at the Asia-Pacific International Hotel Awards in Kuala Lumpur.

The Star commissioned renowned building corporation, Brookfield Multiplex, to interpret and execute the designs by Cox Richardson Architects, to produce a contemporary hotel integrated within the existing complex.

The Darling has been designed as a stand-alone hotel, with its own arrival experience, amenities and alluring personality. It is the first five-star new build hotel in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games.

Two-part in its design, The Darling has a distinctive inverted glass tower resting on a sandstone podium and features 171stylish and spacious rooms and suites, an infinity pool and a luxury 16 room spa. The Darling is also home to Sokyo, an exciting new contemporary Japanese restaurant and bar.

Echo Entertainment Group CEO, Larry Mullin said the industry award is recognition of The Darling’s distinctive design and a tribute to the hard work and dedication by a strong team of builders, designers and visionaries.

“We are very proud to receive this prestigious award and I would like to thank everyone involved, including our partners, Brookfield Mulitplex, Cox Richardson and Laurence Lee.

“We set out to create an iconic hotel at The Star that was sympathetic to its surroundings, while breaking the mould in terms of design and construction. The result we think is an innovative and aesthetically beautiful building that appeals to business and leisure travellers looking for something different to chain hotels.”

The International Hotel Awards recognise the most outstanding hotel projects across Asia Pacific which have been singled out for their green credentials, excellent architectural merit and design. Eighteen different countries took part in this year’s competition with judges reporting keen competition across the board.

Located on the edge of Sydney’s harbour and a key feature of The Star’s $870 million redevelopment, The Darling Hotel and Spa features 171 rooms and suites complete with views of the harbour and city skyline. The rooms and suites are designed to feel like a home away from home for both business and leisure travellers.

Built in addition to the existing hotel and apartments, The Darling brings the total rooms and suites at The Star to over 650 across three towers.


Poker Legend “Amarillo Slim” Preston Passes Away...

In saddening news from the state of Texas this morning, 1972 World Series of Poker Championship Event victor, four-time WSOP bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Fame member “Amarillo Slim” Preston has passed away after a lengthy illness. The legend of the poker world was 83 years old.

Last weekend, Preston was entered into hospice care, battling cancer and heart problems. Buoyed by several friends in the poker community, including his old “road gambler” running mate Doyle Brunson, Preston seemed to improve over the past week. The announcement of his passing was provided to poker player Scott Clark, who also stated that full details regarding the passing of a poker legend would come later today from the family.

Born Thomas Austin Preston, Jr., in Arkansas in 1928, the man who would become “Amarillo Slim” was known for his propensity to make outlandish prop bets as well as his tremendous skills on the felt. Joining up with Brunson and another former World Champion-to-be, Brian “Sailor” Roberts, the trio would tour the Southwest as the original Texas “road gamblers,” traveling to poker games to make a living. Although the trio would eventually break up their partnership (after they lost their bankroll in Las Vegas, a story told by Brunson in several arenas), they would continue to remain friends and earn their legends during the early years of the World Series of Poker.

“Amarillo Slim” first earned attention during the 1972 WSOP Main Event, taking down the championship for his first ever bracelet. He was able to parlay that victory into a celebrity status, appearing on talk shows including The Tonight Show and movies to promote the game of poker. He would also continue to excel on the tables, taking three more WSOP bracelets, with his last victory coming in 1990 in a $5000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament.

Preston was also very influential in other poker endeavors. He was responsible for several poker books, including Amarillo Slim’s Play Poker To Win. One of his most popular literary efforts was his autobiography, Amarillo Slim In A World Full Of Fat People, which he detailed his career on the tables and with his prop bets. As recently as 2007, Preston released an e-book co-written with Joe Brent Riley.

“Amarillo Slim” also played host to the Super Bowl of Poker which, at the time, was one of the biggest tournaments around until it cancellation in 1991. That tournament was won by actor/poker player Gabe Kaplan on one occasion and accounted for three of poker legend Stu Ungar’s ten career victories.

Over the span of his tournament poker career, Preston was able to cash in tournaments around the world. On the WSOP stage, “Amarillo Slim” was able to cash eleven times, with his most recent cash coming in 2007 in the Seniors Event, and was still racking up those cashes as late as 2009, when he finished in fourth place in an event on the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza schedule. Overall, the career earnings for Preston may not be impressive ($587,568, according to the Hendon Mob database), but his overall impact on the game of poker might arguably only be rivaled by Chris Moneymaker’s historic 2003 WSOP Championship victory.

Comments regarding Preston’s passing have poured in across social media. Poker pro Bernard Lee simply stated, “RIP Amarillo Slim, one of the first poker superstars,” over his Twitter feed. Brunson himself recounted a story on his personal blog of a robbery the twosome had gone through in the early 1960s, while others paused for a moment in memory of one of poker’s all-time greats.

Poker News Daily would like to pass along our condolences to the Preston family during this saddening time.

UPDATE: The Preston family has released a statement through Nolan Dalla, the Media Director for the WSOP, stating the following:

“We hope everyone will remember our beloved Amarillo Slim for all the positive things he did for poker and to popularize his favorite game – Texas Hold’em.” (Poker News Daily)


The Avengers versus The X-Men...

In the late '60s, the legendary comic artist Neal Adams was lured by the irrepressible Stan Lee to reinterpret the Marvel comic of his choice.

He chose the then least-successful comic, The X-Men, which the company was phasing out. Lee's response, according to Adams: "Why don't you do the last two X-Men and then do an important book like The Avengers?"

"I actually did 10 issues," Adams says. "It was after those 10 issues that everybody and their brother became fans of The X-Men and every new artist wanted to do The X-Men."

In 2012, the "important" comic finally gets its own movie, with The Avengers finally hitting the screen (after a warmup that included two Iron Man movies, two Hulks, Captain America and Thor). The erstwhile expendible X-Men franchise, meanwhile, will flex its muscles again next summer when Hugh Jackman dons his adamantium claws for The Wolverine. And, not to miss a marketing opportunity, Marvel released an Avengers Vs. X-Men comic book series last month.

Herewith, a thumbnail comparison of the two Marvel franchises on film.

THE AVENGERS

Born: September 1963 in Avengers Comics #1.

Original Members: Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp

Related Movies This Century: Seven (The Avengers, Two Iron Mans, Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America)

Domestic Box Office: $1.26 billion (source: Box Office Mojo)

You Don't Want To Make Him Angry: Hulk

Boy Scout: Captain America

Fanboys Drool Over: Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Brains Behind The Operation (Onscreen): Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)

Brains Behind The Operation (Real life): Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly)

Oscar Cred: Gwyneth Paltrow (won), Robert Downey Jr. (nominated twice), Mark Ruffalo (nominated), Jeremy Renner (nominated twice), Samuel L. Jackson (nominated)

Evil British Actor: Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Best Cameo By Marvel Founder Stan Lee: Tony Stark mistakes him for Hugh Hefner on a red carpet in Iron Man

THE X-MEN

Born: September 1963 in X-Men Comics #1

Original Members: Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast and Iceman

Related Movies This Century: Five (X-Men, X-Men 2: X-Men United, X-Men 3: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class)

Domestic Box Office: $932 million (source: Box Office Mojo)

You Don't Want To Make Him Angry: Wolverine

Boy Scout: Cyclops

Fanboys Drool Over: Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique

Brains Behind The Operation (Onscreen): Prof. Xavier (Patrick Stewart)

Brains Behind The Operation (Real life): Bryan Singer (first two movies).

Oscar Cred: Halle Berry (won), Anna Paquin (won), Ian McKellen (nominated twice), Ellen Page (nominated), Hugh Jackman (hosted), Jennifer Lawrence (nominated)

Evil British Actor: Ian McKellen as Magneto

Best Cameo By Marvel Founder Stan Lee: Hot dog vendor in X-Men; old man watering his lawn in The Last Stand.


Avengers does well at Aussie box office...

The hugely anticipated mega-blockbuster The Avengers has wreaked havoc at the Australian box office, breaking $6 million on the film's Anzac Day opening.

It puts the 3-D action flick at No.2 on the list of all-time best Australian box office openings behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which took $7 million on its first day in July last year.

The Joss Whedon-directed superhero mash-up is now on track to fly past The Hunger Games to be the year’s biggest box office smash.

The Avengers, which features Australian Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, is the latest in a long line of superhero films to come out of the Marvel comics stable.

However, its one day figure easily surpasses the combined individual opening days of each of the the studio's movies — Iron Man 2, which took $1.813 million in 2010, last year's Thor ($1.3million) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($0.86million) and 2008's The Incredible Hulk ($0.37million) for a total of $4.357 million.

It also represents the best opening day for Disney Studios, taking the number one position from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe ($3.5 million).

The film's performance is remarkable given that Anzac Day trading restrictions in Queensland and Victoria meant cinemas could not open until after 1.30pm. And WA is contributing a large proportion of the takings, with Innaloo the third top Event Cinemas location in the country behind Sydney’s George Street multiplex.

Event Cinemas WA area manager Stephen Lamb said Gold Class sessions were sold out weeks in advance and the fight for seats was at Boxing Day levels.

WA Hoyts marketing co-ordinator Alex Biddle also reported bumper sales: "Hoyts Cinemas across WA saw their Xtremescreen and IMAX cinemas teeming with enthusiastic cinemagoers" while Ace Cinemas marketing and promotions manager Karen Smith added: "This film has certainly pumped up our box office and engergised the cinema viewers' batteries."

Senior vice president and managing director of The Walt Disney Company John Cracknell said the success of The Avengers was testament to "fabulous storytelling with a blockbuster cast and world-renowned director".

Whedon is best known as the creator of the cult television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel.

He co-wrote and produced the horror film The Cabin in the Woods, which is due for release in Australia in July. (The West Australian)


Heroic effort as The Avengers tops box office...

Marvel's long-awaited and much-hyped all-in superhero pic The Avengers has recorded the second-highest local one-day haul in history, taking just over $6 million on Anzac Day.

With Joss Whedon at the helm and a budget of around $US220 million, expectations for the film are high, and its Australian result is bound to settle a few nerves ahead of the film's US opening on May 2.

For the record, the film with the highest one-day opening in Australia is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which took $7.092 million on July 13, 2011. But The Avengers pipped it in per-screen terms, taking an average of $9668 on each of its 621 screens, versus Harry's average of $9716 across 730 screens.

Of the top 10 opening days, the best per-screen average remains the $12,336 recorded by Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on 424 screens on December 26, 2002. Adjusted for inflation, that is the equivalent of roughly $16,000 per screen today.

It doesn't have the clout or the saturation exposure of The Avengers, but the week's second-placed film made a very solid bow. The Lucky One is Australian director Scott Hicks' adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' (The Notebook) novel, and it proved something of a lucky charm for him, taking $3.59 million with the week’s best per-screen average of $14,027.

The weepy about an Iraq war veteran (Zac Effron) who goes in search of the woman he thinks magically saved his life also opened strongly in the US, recouping its estimated $US25 million budget in a week. It was a strong start for the Shine director's first film since 2009's The Boys Are Back.

At No. 3 was Battleship, sailing on with $3 million in its second week and a total of $8.4 million.

The Hunger Games did $2.16 million in its fifth week, taking its total to $29.12.
Fleshing out the top five is American Pie: Reunion, which took $2.1 million in its third week for a total of $13.42 million.

Australian Box Office (April 19-25)

1. The Avengers (M) - $6,003,882
2. The Lucky One (M) - $3,586,273
3. Battleship (M) - $3,020,666 ($8,420,129 after 2 weeks)
4. The Hunger Games (M) - $2,160,941 ($29,117,930 after 5 weeks)
5. American Pie: Reunion (MA15+) - $2,152,882 ($13,428,159 after 3 weeks)
6. Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (G) - $2,097,817 ($15,110,737 after 4 weeks)
7. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG) - $1,892,057 ($17,228,059 after 5 weeks)
8. Titanic 3D (M) - $1,402,489 ($6,493,694 after 3 weeks)
9. Pirates! Band Of Misfits (G) - $1,241,266 ($5,963,905 after 3 weeks)
10. Mirror Mirror (PG) - $863,978 ($5,939,508 after 4 weeks)
Source: Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (Fairfax Media)


Out of the picture for Melbourne films...

Melbourne's major film studio has called on the Federal Government to ramp up its support for international flicks shot locally.

Major overseas productions have shunned Docklands Studios Melbourne since 2010’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, as the high Aussie dollar has eroded competitiveness.

Studio chief executive Rod Allan has responded by lobbying the government to increase its location offset rebate from 16.5 per cent of what film productions spend in Australia to 30 per cent, to entice more acclaimed directors, actors and producers to our shores.

Mr Allan said he was hopeful of an announcement to this effect in next week’s Federal Budget.

But a spokeswoman for Arts Minister Simon Crean, Angela Dorizas, did not commit to any increased support when contacted by Leader last week.

Ms Dorizas said the government’s backing for the sector, including the 16.5 per cent offset, was at record levels.

She said the upcoming Hugh Jackman blockbuster The Wolverine would be shot in Sydney - thanks to a one-off payment of $12.8 million to bring it to Australia - leading to investment of $80 million and 2000 Australian jobs.

Despite the recent lack of international interest in Melbourne, Mr Allan said Docklands Studios was busy with television productions and a feature film - I, Frankenstein, starring Bill Nighy and Aaron Eckhart - which qualified as local due to a large contingent of Australians on the team.

“This year has been good. At one point every available space was hired, but the business is naturally cyclical,” Mr Allan said.

Established in 2004 and run by the State Government, Docklands Studios hires out five giant soundstages.

Major international productions filmed there include Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage, and the Steven Spielberg-produced US TV series The Pacific.

TV productions now using the space include Winners and Losers and Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation.

The state’s peak film body, Film Victoria, did not respond before deadline.


Olympics security: surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on the rooftop of apartment block...

Surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on the rooftop of an apartment block in east London as part of Britain's air defences for the Olympics, the country's military confirmed on Sunday.

About 700 people living at the building in Bow - about 3.2 kilometres from London's Olympic Stadium - have been contacted and warned that the weapons and about 10 troops are likely to be based at the site for about two months.

In a leaflet sent to residents, the ministry said the venue offered an uncluttered "view of the surrounding areas and the entire sky above the Olympic park".

Troops plan to conduct tests next week at the building, an upmarket gated apartment complex, to determine if the high velocity surface-to-air missiles will be stationed on a water tower attached to the site's roof.

Britain has previously confirmed that up to 13,500 troops are being deployed on land, at sea and in the air to help protect the Olympics alongside police and security guards.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts will also be on duty as part of the security operation.

"As announced before Christmas, ground-based air defence systems could be deployed as part of a multilayered air security plan for the Olympics, including fast jets and helicopters, which will protect the skies over London during the games," the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

"Based on military advice we have identified a number of sites and, alongside colleagues from the Metropolitan Police, are talking to local authorities and relevant landowners to help minimise the impact of any temporary deployments."

However, the ministry insisted that "no final decision on whether or not to deploy ground-based air defence systems for the games has been taken".

Resident Brian Whelan said those who lived at the site were wary about the plan.

"From the few people I've spoken to, and the security we have here, they're not happy about it," he said. "I don't think it needs to be here at all."

The leaflet insisted there would be no hazard to those living in the building.

It said the missile system would be "only authorised for active use following specific orders from the highest levels of government in response to a confirmed and extreme security threat". (AP)


Paul Orndorff Slams Bret Hart, Warrior, Ric Flair & More...

"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff was a guest on Inside The Ropes' 15th episode, where he talked about several topics and slammed a few legendary wrestlers. His interview stars 42 minutes, 20 seconds in.

On facing Ric Flair for the NWA World Title in 1982: "He was just another body. Some are better than others. I believed in making it look real. I was probably hard to work with because I wanted it to make real and I knew how to wrestle."

On working the first Wrestlemania in the main event: "It was special. There were so many people. It was the largest crowd to ever watch it. And then the pay per view of it was just ungodly. This was my opportunity to be really noticed and be seen. My paycheck….it was huge. I made more money in that 30 minutes than I did in a whole year with the NWA. People expected it and they were gonna get it from me."

On working with Mr. T: "I wasn't crazy about it. I was very protective WrestleMania 1of the business. I was taught that. You take care of it. You don't give out all your trade secrets. But then again you look at somebody like Ric Flair and you can say how can you hide something when they look like that? So I guess I started to give in a little bit."

On the transition in WWF from wrestling to entertainment in the 1980s: "It depends on your personality. I protected it. To me that wasn't protecting it. As you can see right now, because they didn't protect it, where it is now, there's only two shows now. Look how many there was, there was one in every state, now look where it is."

On Vince using bigger guys like Warrior: "I thought it was the worst move they could've made. Vince did it on purpose. He did it so he could be the only one."

On Warrior: "He never paid his dues. You gotta pay your dues, go and learn your trade that'll make it better when you are on that big stage. It's called experience and nobody has any now, because there's nowhere to go to get it."

On giving the belt to smaller stars like Savage and Bret: "No. Absolutely not. It's like putting the belt on someone who wants to be a wrestler. It didn't work. It downgraded, made the belt worthless. When Terry Funk, Harley Race had world titles, it meant more."

On the rumor that Hogan wouldn't drop the belt to Bret in 1993: "I don't blame him. I wouldn't have either. Bret Hart was a nobody from Canada and Hogan was the greatest star in wrestling. I don't blame him. He did the right thing."

He also gave some quick fire thoughts on several wrestlers:
-Ultimate Warrior: "I gotta go to the bathroom………………..NEXT!"
-Vince McMahon: "One of a kind."
-Hulk Hogan: "Great."
-Bret Hart: "I don't care much for Canadians."
-Randy Savage: "OK."
-Ric Flair: "A Joke."


WWE News: Big WWE Network updates - no timetable for launch, McMahon addresses current standing & challenges, will PPVs move to Network?, specific shows in the works...

WWE remains unsure when a proposed WWE Network will launch and what form the Network will take.

During the annual shareholders meeting Friday, WWE executives fielded numerous questions related to the Network. Near the end of the Q&A, WWE CEO Vince McMahon was finally asked point-blank when the Network will be launching.

"That's a really good question," McMahon replied. McMahon then repeated WWE's stance that they want to make sure they "do it right" by exploring all of their options with a traditional cable TV model versus a hybrid model incorporating newer media.

Specifically related to when the decision will be made, McMahon said, "An announcement is forthcoming." After a pause, McMahon said, "In other words, I don't have that answer."

McMahon suggested earlier in the meeting that WWE could launch a cable-specific Network right now, but the volatility of the market and "times being different now" makes them more cautious to continue looking into other Network options.

"We're close to closing - if we wish - a linear network. We can do that," McMahon said. "We can also look at other opportunities at the same time that might be better for us, but, then again, it might not be."

One investor offered three proposed alternatives to a traditional cable TV network that included a suggestion for PPV event distribution through GFL.TV, a YouTube model alternative, and an a la carte offering online.

WWE CFO George Barrios replied that their research shows TV viewing behavior is still ahead of online/new-model consumption by a ratio of 5:1 hours. He said consumers may supplement their TV viewing on smart phones and other devices, but they still watch TV at a high rate, which is why they continue to pursue a traditional cable TV network model.

-- Another major aspect of the Network discussion centered on whether PPV events will be offered on the Network, as has been rumored over the past year. McMahon was vague in response, saying, the Network policy "may or may not include PPVs." He added, "It's certainly a factor we're considering."

The topic was also looked at from a different angle when a shareholder asked about offering current PPV events in a season pass form to curtail lower PPV buys for non-WrestleMania events. McMahon said, "That's a possibility," before noting PPVs could be part of the Network package. However, the key for WWE would be knowing when to pull the trigger on changing the PPV model and whether it's feasible to include PPVs on the Network.

-- Some of the key phrasing WWE used was their belief that they can drive the current WWE audience to a Network and that there is strong demand for more WWE content, which would be made available through a Network. "Give audience more of what they want," McMahon said. WWE did not provide supporting evidence for their belief that there is more demand for more content, though.

-- Asked of WWE Classics-on-Demand will go away when the Network launches, McMahon said it most likely will. Earlier in the meeting, WWE management stressed they are creating new shows based on their tape library.

-- Two shows WWE stressed for the Network were a show based on the Monday Night Wars and a WWE Countdown show, which WWE is currently pushing in new DVD releases.

Link: WWE's full shareholders meeting can be viewed at this link from WWE Corporate (Pro Wrestling Torch)


HULK HOGAN Take My Naked Ass Off the Internet!!!...

Hulk Hogan is freaking OUT over screengrabs of his alleged sex tape that have leaked onto the Internet -- and now, the wrestling legend's taking legal action ... sending in his lawyer to clean up the XXX mess.

The black-and-white pics -- which appear to show a naked Hulk doing the nasty with an unidentified female -- surfaced on TheDirty.com last week ... and more pics followed.

But Hulk isn't taking the affront on his knees -- unlike a certain unidentified female -- in fact, his lawyer just fired off a cease and desist letter to TheDirty.com editor Nik Richie, demanding Nik take down the pics forthwith ... or face a lawsuit.

The lawyer writes, "As you know, should a sex tape or photographs of Mr. Bollea exist, they were taken without his consent and therefore the same would constitute a felony in the State of Florida."

We're told Nik and TheDirty.com have no plans to remove the pictures in question. Stay tuned ... (TMZ)


Lakshmi Mittal retains tag as richest man in Britain, tops Sunday Times Rich list...

LONDON: It's not a good year to be in metals,mining or owning football clubs. Lakshmi Mittal, who still retains his tag as the richest man in Britain, topping the annual Sunday Times Rich list, is GBP4.8 billion poorer than he was last year, with his wealth estimated at GBP12.7bn - the main reason, a Eurozone crisis that has eroded the share price of Arcelor Mittal.

Anil Agarwal, Vedanta's promoter, has seen his position dropping from 12th place to 26, thanks, again to dropping share prices that's seen his wealth erode by GBP1.5 bn. Ravi Ruia, who entered the list last year at number 12, has also seen his share price bomb, and in 2012 clocks in at 33, with his wealth almost halved by GBP2.9 bn to GBP 2 bn. The newspaper noted that Essar Global, which was valued around GBP 5.4 bn in 2010 when it floated, is now valued at GBP 1.6 bn.

The only Indians who have seen their position going up are Sri and Gopichand Hinduja, who last hit the headlines for buying a palatial mansion at Carlton Terrace, within a stone's throw of Buckingham Palace in Pall Mall, who are now estimated to be worth GBP8.6bn, up by GBP 2.6 bn from last year. It puts them at the 4th place in the top 1000 rich list.

Anurag Dikshit, the reclusive, Gibralter-based former owner of poker site Partygaming, makes it to the number 3 in the top philanthropy list in 2012, with recent donation of GBP 23.4 million to his charitable trust in India, Kusuma, in addition to the GBp 172 million he gave away last year, reducing his personal wealth to a mere GBP 35 million.

In the top 50, another Indian who's seen he's position rise is Ajay Kalsi, of AIMS-listed Indus Ind Gas, who at number 42 has significantly crawled up the ladder from number 58. The newspaper attributed this to share prices holding up despite the recession.

Of the other top 3, though, Alisher Usmanov, the Russian mining tycoon best known for his recent acquisition of Arsenal football club, has also lost wealth, as has Roman Abramovich, the oil mogul best known for his ownership of Chelsea football club, has also lost money.


SkyCity holds winning hand, say Oz analysts...

SkyCity's controversial expansion plans have not dented its share price - nor the view taken of the business by three Australian-based professional investment experts.

Not only are analysts picking better fortunes for the gaming business, but their latest market research out this month on four ASX- and NZX-listed gaming industry businesses showed they had rethought the longer-term outlook for SkyCity's earnings.

They picked it as the best performer on a profit revision basis, piling on more money than the other three.

Shares are still rising despite the business suffering a backlash against its $350 million offer to build an international convention and exhibition centre in Auckland's Hobson St in return for Government permission to have more gaming machines.

The company, with a market capitalisation of $2.2 billion, is trading at $3.81, below its $4 two-year high but well above the $3.30 of last November.

Deutsche Bank Markets Research's Mark Wilson, Daniel Pi and Anthony Hanna revised up their SkyCity earnings estimate forecasts by 2 per cent, the highest for any of the Australasian stock exchange-listed gaming businesses.

Instead of making $145.4 million net after-tax profit in 2012, $150.7 million in 2013 and $164.9 million in 2014, SkyCity will make $145.8 million, $153.6 million and $168.1 million, they predict.

They advise investors not to sell, issuing a hold recommendation on the stock because they believe it has good potential - although they have not gone as far as issuing a buy, which they have on the giant Melbourne and Perth Crown.

Some of the risks and rewards of buying shares in SkyCity are major capital expenditure projects with the benefits the business has gained from recent main gaming floor refurbishments, they say.

Changes to the regulatory environment, movements in the New Zealand and Australian dollars and changes to the New Zealand economy, particularly household disposable incomes, are also singled out for mention.

Auckland accounted for 60 per cent of the group earnings, they said, exposing the business to booms and busts in one area.

"SkyCity's earnings are sensitive to movements in the Australian dollar given the translation of earnings from the Adelaide and Darwin casinos," said the analysts, who used various financial metrics to give a favourable review of the business, benchmarking it against gambling rivals Aristocrat, Crown and Tatts Group.

Crown owns and operates two of Australia's leading gaming and entertainment venues: Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne and the Burswood Entertainment Complex in Perth.

Aristocrat Leisure makes and sells gaming machines and supplies gaming systems, table gaming equipment and other services for casinos, clubs and hotels. Tatts provides leisure and entertainment products and services to the Australasian gambling industry and has investments in overseas businesses.

Nigel Morrison, SkyCity's chief executive, has wanted to expand Auckland because he says international gamblers, particularly from Asia, do a circuit of major Australasian casinos. (New Zealand Herald)


Bwin.party Commits to Teradata to Drive Single Customer and Operational View...

Online gaming and sports betting leader will use advanced data warehouse system to integrate its customer base, strengthen analytics and improve BI performance...

LONDON, April 24, 2012 -- Teradata (NYSE: TDC), the analytic data solutions company, has agreed to a deal with Bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plc, the world's largest listed online gaming company, to supply a new, high-performance enterprise data warehouse solution.

Based in Gibraltar and listed on the London Stock Exchange, Bwin.party is one of the largest online gaming operators. It was created in March 2011 through a merger Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and PartyGaming Plc.

The agreement will see the Teradata Database and a Teradata integrated data warehouse platform implemented across Bwin.party's gaming and sports customer bases to create a single customer view across all gaming verticals. In turn, this will enable Bwin.party to segment its customer base and target marketing campaigns more effectively based on previous customer activity.

In addition to facilitating essential financial reporting across the joint organisation, the new integrated Teradata solution is expected to strengthen the data analytics used for essential campaign planning, reduce operating costs and contribute to an easier-to-use and maintain business intelligence environment.

"Data analytics are essential to our organisation," said Bwin.party's Group Technology Director Tod Martin. "We believe that the new Teradata solution will be extremely effective in consolidating data generated by our joint organisation, whilst providing the platform for better reporting analytics and insight."

Current planned developments include the provision of a more widely-available self-service Business Intelligence model across the wider organisation.

"We are delighted that Bwin.party has chosen the latest Teradata integrated data warehouse platform," added Teradata Corporation Area Vice President, UK, Chris Armitage. "The technology is well-placed to help drive business performance and consolidate key performance indicators across the organisation."

About Teradata Teradata Corporation (NYSE: TDC) is the world's leading analytic data solutions company, focused on integrated data warehousing, big data analytics, and business applications. Teradata's innovative products and services deliver data integration and business insight to empower organizations to make the best decisions possible and achieve competitive advantage. Visit teradata.com for details.

About Bwin.party Bwin.party digital entertainment plc (LSE: BPTY) is the world's largest listed online gaming company. The Company was formed from the merger of bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and PartyGaming Plc on 31 March 2011. Incorporated, licensed and regulated in Gibraltar, the Group also has online poker licences in France and Italy. With offices in Europe, India, Israel and the US the Group generated total pro forma revenue of euro 816.0m and pro forma Clean EBITDA of euro 199.3m in 2011. Bwin.party operates one of the world's largest online poker networks, www.PartyPoker.com and also owns the World Poker Tour. The Group's scale, proprietary poker software, online gaming platform and strong portfolio of games collectively differentiates its customer offer from those of its competitors. Bwin.party is a constituent member of the FTSE4Good Index Series, which identifies companies that meet globally recognised corporate responsibility standards.


bwin.party will go social in 2012...

bwin.party digital entertainment plans to launch into the social gaming sector this year.

Commenting on the company’s financial results for the full year 2011, co-CEOs Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger said: “As integration projects are completed, we are channelling more resources into driving innovation across the business and through new channels including our proprietary mobile gaming platform. We are also extending our reach into new areas of digital entertainment such as social gaming, where we see significant potential.”

bwin.party reported a 0.2 per cent increase in total revenues to €816m for the year ended December 31, 2011, and it remains “on track to deliver approximately €40m of synergies this year and €65m in 2013." The growth in casino and games, as well as slight improvement in sports betting revenues, made up for a decline in its poker and bingo offering.

Looking ahead, Ryan and Teufelberger said they expect to gain competitive advantage this year from additional scale and improved flexibility, which will flow from the integration and migration of the company’s main products to a single technology platform. The company will also add more casino games and continue to improve its poker and bingo offerings.

They continued: “We have secured strong business partners in the US ahead of any regulation there and have also applied for a licence in Spain, which is expected to regulate in the second quarter of this year. In Germany, we have applied for a gaming licence in Schleswig-Holstein, the only EU-compliant licensing regime available.” (Intergame)

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Gambling with online casinos coming to Facebook social media; Bwin.Party, Virgin Games and PKR top brass speak

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The talk is that gambling and social media ala Facebook and the like are to come together in a big way.

It started with free poker and bingo games, with the odd free slots, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

What will it all mean for players, big gaming companies, land based casinos, law makers and all the usual suspects? Time will tell but in the meantime the Media Man agency continues it's probe of the always exciting and volatile gaming, igaming and internet industry.

Jim Ryan, co-chief executive of Bwin.party Digital Entertainment, said of the online gambling companies, “As an industry we have missed the ball. Bingo is easy. That is the one and only social game that our industry has gotten right.” He noted that social game companies such as Zynga have amassed huge audiences in the meantime.

“Social gaming is obviously the coming thing and in some sense it has already arrived,” said Simon Burridge, chief executive of Virgin Games, speaking on a panel. “Social gaming meets (real gambling) is the high ground of the future.”

Malcolm Graham, chief executive of online gambling firm PKR, agreed. He said, “We have all missed the opportunity to build tournament-style gambling games (for no real-money betting) on Facebook. But in the next 12 months to 18 months, our gambling industry will move onto Facebook.”

The gambling industry has and realized that soon the social gambling craze is happening without most of them. The smart players have already started making moves into the space, such as IGT's purchase of Double Down Interactive and Caesar's purchase of Playtika. Companies that are further behind are now struggling to catch up. With rumors swirling that Facebook is preparing to roll out gambling in the UK, it seems like only a matter of time before social gambling is a reality.

Massive companies with huge marketing and budgets are coming to into town. The good news is that these are large, slow-moving companies with little knowledge of modern social game mechanics, though the similarities between social games and casino games could shorten the learning curve. The bad news is that the average gambling player is worth about $300 per month, so these guys are packing big guns when it comes to user acquisition and retention. Competing with that kind of a budget is going to be downright hard. And after multiple swooning love letters back and forth, it seems inevitable that Zynga and Wynn will team up to offer real-money gambling in legal jurisdictions. This means social game developers can't count on their industry know-how to protect them, even in the short term.

So what can social game companies do? Operating exclusively in the US will keep you safe for the time being. But, now that The Wire Act has been modified, multiple states are throwing their hats into the ring to offer legalized online gambling, including big markets like Florida, California, New Jersey.

According to the VentureBeat article, Jim Ryan expects that online gambling will be largely legal in the US by 2014. That means that hiding in the US is not a good business plan.

Instead, social game companies should do what they have always done best: adapt. There's a number of avenues this could take:

1. Mobile

Frankly, mobile is likely to befuddle many gambling operators for some time, but the smart gambling companies are already making big moves into the space. It's interesting that most smaller social game companies have already turned their attention away from Facebook.

2. Younger audiences

Social game companies could target their games for a younger audience, which gambling companies are legally obligated to avoid. This doesn't have to mean anything cloak and dagger - just that you make more kid-oriented games or go into a specific, younger vertical like educational games. However, children under 18 only make up 5% of money spent on social games, which is rather limiting.

3. Offer real-money gaming

Social game companies can compete with gambling companies on their own turf: by offering real-money gaming in their social games. In this strategy, social game companies have the advantage. They understand their players and what drives them to purchase or play better than anyone, and they can leverage this knowledge to onboard them into lucrative real-money gaming. However, most social game companies haven't done this already because gambling licenses are tremendously difficult and expensive to acquire.

It's all leading up to a perfect storm but rest assured that social media and gambling are coming together, and you can bet that Media Man is going to be in the thick of the action.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Report into The Star casino complex to be delayed

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A final report into Sydney's The Star casino will be delivered two weeks later than initially planned.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority originally asked Gail Furness SC to deliver her findings on April 30 but has agreed to her request for the deadline to be extended until May 18.

"The extension follows advice provided to the authority by Ms Furness that the additional time is required to enable her to complete her work," the authority said in a statement on Thursday.

It said some matters needed "further investigation" following public hearings in April, where former staff accused The Star's sacked managing director Sid Vaikunta of using cocaine at work and fostering a culture of sexual harassment.

After those hearings, the ABC on April 16 aired further allegations from another employee, Thomas Lin, who said the casino pleased international high rollers by ignoring gambling compliance laws.

The authority says the report deadline has been extended to ensure all parties to the inquiry receive procedural fairness.

However, it promises to have submissions given to the inquiry, following the public hearings in April, published on its website by early May.

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Madame Tussauds New York Unveil Their Marvel Superheroes Exhibit

Madame Tussauds New York Unveil Their Marvel Superheroes Exhibit...

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Madame Tussauds New York Unveil Their Marvel Superheroes Exhibit...

Madame Tussauds New York, USA, has revealed a first look at their new interactive Marvel Super Heroes exhibit, set to open on Thursday, April 26th, just before many of the heroes appear on the big screen in the May 4th release of Marvel's 'The Avengers'.

The new, multi-level experience will feature wax likenesses of The Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and two new wax figures of Captain America and Thor, as well as the Marvel Super Heroes 4D Experience – a new, short film with amazing special effects.

Captain America, as portrayed by Chris Evans in the 2011 blockbuster film, Captain America: The First Avenger, will stand in his patriotic red, white and blue costume, holding his circular shield. Thor, as portrayed by Australian actor Chris Hemsworth in the hit 2011 film, Thor, will wield his mighty hammer, Mjolnir.

“We’re bringing the Marvel Super Heroes that so many of us grew up with to life,” said Bret Pidgeon, General Manager of Madame Tussauds New York. “Marvel fans young and old alike will now have the opportunity to see, interact with and stand alongside their favorite characters.”

The exhibit will lead visitors through a long hallway and downstairs into the secret command center to unlock their powers alongside their favorite heroes. Captain America and Iron Man stand at the ready while Spider-Man crouches, about to spring into action and a 15-foot-tall likeness of The Hulk emerges through a wall into the Gamma Radiation Lab.

Expo visitors will stand at the “Contamination Station” to see if they’ve been exposed to the gamma rays that turned Dr. Bruce Banner into his green alter ego. They will also have the opportunity to wield the hammer Mjoilnir alongside of Thor as he emerges through a portal from Asgard prepared for battle.

“From the pages of our comic books to the big screen and now live in wax – it’s a great thing to see some of our best-loved Marvel characters come to life in this fun and interactive way,” said Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment. "For more than 70 years, Marvel has captured the imagination of fans around the world and we’re excited to be working with Madame Tussauds New York to open this amazing experience for everyone to enjoy.”

The never-before-seen Marvel Super Heroes 4D Experience places visitors in the middle of a Stark Industries press conference. Viewers can not only watch as Peter Parker asks Tony Stark questions, but feel the commotion once the press conference is interrupted by the evil Loki and Dr. Doom. Viewers will feel as though they are joining Marvel’s greatest Super Heroes Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, and Spider-Man to battle their nemeses. Excelsior!

News...

Madame Tussauds recently opened their Sydney, Australia branch, and we understand that there's a superhero wax double of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman).


Marvel Entertainment: Wolverine Clawing Up Hollywood Comic Book Movies; Thanks Australian Government; Marvel Comic Book Fans And Australian Film Industry: Excelsior!...

Australia's favorite son, Hugh Jackman, is returning back down under to Australia to make The Wolverine, his sixth showing as the Marvel Comic book adapted character, thanks to a whopping $12.8 million federal government subsidy.

And while referred to as "one-off", the local film industry is hopeful that the near-doubling of the standard assistance for a big-budget foreign production is a sign of things to come in next month’s budget.

The Wolverine is set in Japan but will be shot at Fox Studios in Sydney between July and December. Hugh Jackman will star and produce.

“It’s so great to bring these big movies down there, to keep people working,” Jackman told the Today program from London, where he is doing Les Miserables for Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech). “I just have to say thanks to Prime Minister Gillard, she was instrumental with this.”

Ms Gillard and Arts Minister Simon Crean jointly announced on Friday "a one-off payment" that provides Marvel Entertainment, the Hollywood producers of The Wolverine, a 30 per cent rebate through the tax system on production expenditure in Australia. "Without this … the producers of The Wolverine would not have chosen Australia as the location," their statement disclosed.

They claimed the subsidy would generate "over $80 million of investment in Australia and create more than 2000 jobs".

But local industry figures are hopeful the "one-off" caveat could soon be lifted.

"It’s a positive step for us, it shows the government’s willingness to look at the proposed increase to the location offset," said Debra Richards, chief of Ausfilm, who is responsible for atracting big-spending foreign productions to Australia.

Ausfilm and others have been lobbying the government for an increase in the foreign location offset for the past three years as the strong Australian dollar and competing incentive schemes offered by more than 40 states within the US and countries such as the UK, Canada and even Malaysia combine to make Australia too expensive for big-budget foreign productions.

The offset was introduced in 2001, at 12.5 per cent. At the time, the Australian dollar was worth about 50 cents. In 2007 it was increased to 15 per cent as a number of other territories copied, and often bettered, Australia’s incentives. Last year it was increased to 16.5 per cent.
The industry is seeking an increase to 30 per cent, and is understood to have backing from both sides of politics because big-budget foreign productions are seen as important in training and retaining technical personnel.

Crucial to the case it has taken to government is the argument that the cost to government will be relatively low as Australia is unlikely to be inundated with big productions. “It won’t be opening the floodgates,” said Ms Richards. “There’s a natural capacity here in terms of personnel and facilities.”

Sources suggest that capacity might be one large production per annum in each of Queensland (Warner studios), NSW (Fox) and Victoria (Melbourne Docklands Studios).

Docklands boss Rod Allan welcomed the news with both cautious optimism and regret.

"I think it’s terrific the federal government is willing to look at a one-off production offset and I hope that’s an indication of its willingness to look at the offset generally,” he said.
“I’d have preferred Wolverine to have come here, but now the Sydney studios are tied up for the rest of the year we’re in a great position to compete for other projects."

Asked if the decision foreshadowed an announcement on the offset scheme in the budget, Simon Crean’s office replied "the issues facing the screen industry are important to the government and will remain on our agenda over the coming years".

The budget will be handed down on May 8.

In the meantime Australian movie fans, especially those of the superhero genre, are hopefully that the likes of Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics will produce more upcoming movies on Australian soil.

A Media Man agency rep said "Something tells us that not only are fans, Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics watching these exciting developments closely, so are the likes of Frank Miller Inc and others. Australian actors, technical staff, make-up and wardrobe talent, honey wagon operators, the hotel industry, gaming developers and a range of other services companies are delighted with the Wolverine production news, and are hopeful that the Australian government will continue to find initiatives to give the Australian movie business more shots in the arm that it needs".

Stay tuned as we witness the Australian movie sector continuing to claw, kick and scratch its way back to its former glory. As Marvel Entertainment comic icon Stay Lee would say, Excelsior!

The Wolverine comic profile...

Wolverine is a fictional character, a superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Born as James Howlett and commonly known as Logan, Wolverine is a mutant who possesses animal-keen senses, enhanced physical capabilities, three retracting bone claws on each hand and a healing factor that allows him to recover from virtually any wound, disease or toxin at an accelerated rate. The healing factor also slows down his aging process, enabling him to live beyond a normal human lifespan. His powerful healing factor enabled the supersoldier program Weapon X to bond the near-indestructible metal alloy adamantium to his skeleton and claws without killing him. He is most often depicted as a member of the X-Men, Alpha Flight, or later the Avengers.

The character first appeared in the last panel of The Incredible Hulk #180 (his first full appearance is in issue #181, November 1974) and was created by writer Len Wein and Marvel art director John Romita, Sr., who designed the character, and was first drawn for publication by Herb Trimpe. Wolverine later joined the X-Men's "All New, All Different" roster in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975). X-Men writer Chris Claremont played a significant role in the character's subsequent development, along with artist/writer John Byrne, who insisted on making the character older than the other X-Men. Artist Frank Miller collaborated with Claremont and helped to revise the character with a four-part eponymous limited series from September to December 1982 in which Wolverine's catchphrase, "I'm the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn't very nice," debuted.

Wolverine was typical of the many tough, anti-authority, antiheroes that emerged in American popular culture after the Vietnam War; his willingness to use deadly force and his brooding nature became standard characteristics for comic book anti-heroes by the end of the 1980s. As a result, the character became the clear favorite for fans of the increasingly popular X-Men franchise. Wolverine has been featured in his own solo comic since 1988 and has been a central character in most X-Men adaptations, including animated television series, video games, and the live-action 20th Century Fox X-Men film series, in which he is portrayed by Hugh Jackman. In May 2008, Wolverine was ranked #1 out of Wizard magazine's Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time and was ranked as the 4th Greatest Comic Book Character by Empire magazine in July 2008. On their list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters, Fandomania.com ranked Wolverine at #21. In May 2011, Wolverine was ranked 4th on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes (Credit: Wikipedia)


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Beyonce named world's most beautiful woman - 26th April 2012

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Grammy-winning performer and new mother Beyonce has been named the world's most beautiful woman by People magazine.

The 30-year-old topped the magazine's annual list just months after she and rapper husband Jay-Z welcomed their first child - a daughter named Blue Ivy Carter, who was born in New York in January.

"I feel more beautiful than I've ever felt because I've given birth," she said.

"I have never felt so connected, never felt like I had such a purpose on this earth."

Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez have all held the title before. (Reuters)

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Supermodels turn super-mogul

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What happens when you combine supermodel success with business brain?

You get what's known as a super-mogul - and more and more of the world's most famous fashion figures are leaping off the catwalks and newsstands and into the ranks of this elite club.

Last year Brazilian beauty Gisele Bundchen was tipped by Forbes as likely to become the world's first billionaire supermodel.

According to Forbes, which has estimated her annual income is $US45 million (NZ$54m), she could be a billionaire by the time she turns 32 this year.

She also has a few hefty income sources aside from lucrative Versace and Dior contracts and her real estate holdings: there are also her successful jewellery and footwear lines and she recently launched her own lingerie company in a joint venture with a Brazilian retailer.

Unlike most celebrities who license their name to the company, though, she created her own brand, Gisele Bundchen Brazilian Intimates. In an unusual move, she will also own a stake in the company.

According to Forbes, the top three earning models on the planet these days are Gisele B√ľndchen, followed by German supermodel and host and executive producer of Project Runway Heidi Klum, with the waifish former Calvin Klein model turned Topshop retail franchise collaborator Kate Moss coming in third place.

Veteran super-mogul Elle Macpherson, who set up set up Macpherson Inc way back in 1988, also earns more than she did as a model thanks to global intimates and lingerie ranges, a new line of skincare and other projects. Her business empire estimated to be worth around $US120m (NZ$144m) and she has been listed as one of Australia's top ten richest celebrities in recent years.

According to Forbes, the economic climate is once again blowing in the favour of the supermogul. With consumers cautiously spending on luxury goods once more, the 10 top-earning female models made a combined $US112m (NZ$134m) in the 12 months to May 2011, a 30 per cent increase on the previous year.

Former 1980s Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kathy Ireland certainly qualifies as a high-ranking member of the model-turned-mogul club alongside Elizabeth Hurley, Cindy Crawford, Iman, Josie Maran, Marisa Miller and Erin Wasson.

All of these women sell their own product lines and these usually span clothes, shoes, fragrances, skin care and jewellery. What sets Kathy Ireland apart, however, is that hers is not the usual glamour product range.

Over the past two decades, Ireland has quietly built a $US300m (NZ$360m) brand that is attached to a diverse range of home furnishings including ceiling fans, flooring, mattresses, desks and even windows.

Moreover, these are designed and priced to suit busy mothers (think stain resistance and rounded corners).

The 48 year-old, who reportedly now has three kids and four dogs or her own, recently told Forbes Magazine it was for this reason that she no longer did grand store openings, as they tended to attract the wrong type of people.

"What happens is the store gets cluttered with guys who are there with 500-year-old copies of Sports Illustrated. How does that help a busy mum? These people are just in her way," she said.

Though Ireland has said she had entrepreneurial tendencies even as a child, her business success was sparked back in 1993 after she released a humble line of socks with her name on it. They started out in a few sporting goods stores, then a mass retailer started to carry them and they proved to be a hit.

From there, Kathy Ireland Worldwide expanded into other clothing lines and then, in 1998, moved into home furnishings, followed by other busy-mum-centric offshoots like kitchenware and outdoor products.

The business, according to Ireland, is about solutions, initially for families (especially busy mums) and is expanding into solutions for business people (think workstations) and people in love (think wedding gowns).

But don't extreme good looks dent your business credibility? Yes, according to Ireland. "There were times when I knew my ideas would have been taken more seriously if I was just looked at as the CEO but there's always the modeling thing," she told Forbes.

If her fortunes, and those of many other supermodels are any indication, though, this isn't presenting too much of an obstacle.

These days, according to Forbes, the California-based 42-person business sells $US2 billion a year at retail, which translated into $US850 million in wholesale sales last year. From that, Ireland would have got a royalty payment of roughly 6 per cent equating to around $US50 million in revenue.

She doesn't just endorse her products though, she helps to design and promote them - but others make and sell them, so most of that revenue is pure profit for Ireland, who is the 100 per cent owner, according to Forbes.

On this basis, it has estimated that based on the likely cash flow of $35 million, Kathy Ireland Worldwide is worth somewhere around $300 million. (Fairfax Media)

Five facts about The Avengers - 25th April 2012

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It's the hottest new action film to showcase Marvel Comics' heroes and it's burning up Australian screens right now, but if you think you already know everything there is to know about The Avengers, you're wrong.

Here's five facts from behind the scenes of The Avengers:

THEM'S FIGHTING WORDS

Tom Hiddleston, who plays the Norse god Loki, had to learn the most fight sequences of any cast member for his battles with The Avengers. He did training in Wushu, a Chinese martial art, as well as boxing, stick and staff work, knife work and hand-to-hand combat.

He wasn't the only one put through the wringer though.

Mark Ruffalo lost 21 pounds to play Hulk, while shooting had to be rescheduled when Jeremy Renner tore a muscle from his back to his shoulder filming stunts for Hawkeye.

Scarlett Johansson also trained extensively in Wushu and weapons handling alongside fight choreographer Jonathan Eusebio and her stunt double, Heidi Moneymaker.

IT AIN'T EASY BEING GREEN

Mark Ruffalo, who replaced Edward Norton as The Hulk, says it's not a role he would usually take on, but Robert Downey Jnr and the Iron Man movies were what convinced him.

He says unlike previous incarnations of The Hulk, he doesn't change size in The Avengers and is always "about eight and a half feet tall" regardless of how angry he is.

The Avengers is the first time, in film, TV and in the comics, that Bruce Banner and The Hulk have had physical similarities. Instead of just CGI, director Joss Whedon used motion capture technology (used to create characters like Gollum from Lord of the Rings) so you can see Ruffalo's facial characteristics in The Hulk.

THE SCARLET LETTER

The usually blonde Scarlett Johansson was not Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau's first choice to play Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, who in the comics is a tall Russian redhead. But when he met with her, she had dyed her hair red so he would know she was serious about the part.

The Avengers director Whedon made it clear from the beginning that a strong female character was absolutely essential and an all-male Avengers team was unacceptable.

SAMUEL "LEAKY" JACKSON

The Avengers is the first time Samuel L Jackson's SHIELD agent Nick Fury has stepped into a main role, instead of just cameos. But during filming, his printer was hacked and the movie script for The Avengers leaked online. Marvel sent a team of investigators to Canada to track down the person that put it up for sale online.

Nick Fury's own spin-off movie is now in the works, with Jackson predicting fellow agent Black Widow (Johansson) will also be in it.

SPYING THE SPIES DURING THE SHOOT
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The first day of the 92-day shoot was on April 24, 2011, and involved a scene where Nick Fury confronts Steve Rogers in an old boxing gym with a new mission.

It wasn't until day 11 that the entire lead cast of The Avengers assembled for the first time, for a scene where they find out why Nick has rounded them up.

Movies aren't generally shot chronologically, but the last scene of the movie was also shot on the last day of production, with the film wrapping on September 5, 2011.

It was shot in Central Park in New York with the entire lead cast, but because it was a long weekend in the US, thousands of onlookers gathered to see the Avengers in costume, including Thor and Loki decked out in their Asgardian gear. (AAP)

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