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Beyonce! Hillary! India Revels in a Very Big Wedding

In a season of big Indian weddings, the Wednesday marriage of the scions of two billionaire families might be the biggest of them all.

The bride, Isha Ambani, is the Ivy League-educated daughter of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, thought to be India's richest man. Forbes estimates his net worth at over $43 billion.

The groom, Anand Piramal, is the relative pauper. His father, industrialist Ajay Piramal, is thought to be worth $10 billion.

The wedding is being held in Mumbai on Wednesday but festivities began weeks ago, starting in September with an engagement party at a lakeside Italian palace. Over the weekend, thousands attended pre-wedding parties at a 16th century palace in the Indian desert city of Udaipur, where videos shot by partiers showed Hillary Clinton dancing with Shah Rukh Khan, one of India's biggest movie stars, as former Secretary of State John Kerry danced just a few feet away.

A highlight was a performance by Beyonce, who sang "Crazy In Love," among other hits, with a band backing her up and a series of costume changes that included at least one India-inspired outfit.

wedding 2Beyonce with her her India-inspired costume for her performance.

"Beyonce Lights Up Udaipur," the Times of India shouted in a Tuesday headline.

Indian weddings are famously elaborate, driving many families into debt with expectations that they invite hundreds or thousands of people, and arranging professional song-and-dance shows.

Among India's rich, weddings are displays of almost unimaginable wealth, with guests flown in on chartered jets from around the world and celebrities paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for brief appearances. In 2004, a daughter of Indian steel baron Lakshmi Mittal held her engagement party at Versailles.

The Indian media noted that the actual Ambani wedding, in Mumbai, was expected to be a relatively small affair, with just 600 or so people in attendance. More parties will follow the marriage ceremony.

Antilla, the Ambanis' 27-story Mumbai home, has been strung with lights for the wedding, looking like a small skyscraper at night. The family is said to have reserved hundreds of hotel rooms for their guests.

wedding 1Shah Rukh Khan,Gauri Khan,Isha Ambani

Indian grooms traditionally ride to their weddings on horses, but Piramal arrived at the Ambani home in a classic Rolls Royce, with marching bands playing alongside.

The Ambani fortune stretches across a range of industries, from petroleum to chemicals to mobile phones. They control the conglomerate Reliance Industries. The Piramal family businesses include pharmaceuticals and real estate.

The competitiveness of India's wintertime wedding season is growing more extreme, according to Archana Dalmia, a social activist in New Delhi.

"A farmer might commit suicide because he can't save enough money to get his daughter married," she said.

The extravagant wedding of Indian actress Priyanka Chopra and American singer Nick Jonas earlier this month — attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — was straight out of a Bollywood film.

So-called dowry deaths — brides killed when their families fail to meet in-laws' dowry demands — constitute a substantial share of all female homicides in India, a 2018 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report found.

While opulence has always been a feature of Indian weddings, families used to hand down bridal saris as heirlooms. No more, Dalmia said.

"This generation is very different. Priyanka Chopra will never be able to wear it again and she won't be able to pass it down," Dalmia said.

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Peter Dinklage reveals how ‘Game Of Thrones’ cast said goodbye on set 

"Game of Thrones" cast members meant the sun and stars to one another, making it difficult for them to say goodbye after filming the eighth and final season of the HBO hit. 

At least that’s how Peter Dinklage described it in an interview with Vulture published Monday.

Dinklage, 49, who has won three Emmy awards for portraying Tyrion Lannister on the series, inadvertently revealed how he and other cast and crew members honored a character’s last day on set.

After initially describing his last day of shooting as “anticlimactic,” Dinklage acknowledged it was “also beautifully bittersweet” because of deep feelings shared with people he’s worked with for so many years.

“A lot of people whom I love were on set that day. Even if they weren’t working, they came to set, which was beautiful,” Dinklage explained. “I tried to do the same thing when other actors were wrapping out. If it was their day, you would go to set to say goodbye. It was really hard.”

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Cast and crew of “Game of Thrones” pose with their Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmy Awards on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Steve Granitz via Getty Images 

One sendoff was particularly emotional, he said.

“I won’t say their name or their character’s name, but one of the young people on the show wrapped this past season and everybody was a wreck,” he said. “This person had grown up on the show, you know? They were a child and now they were an adult. And then they’re done. It’s like we were witnessing this person saying goodbye to their childhood. I know ‘Game of Thrones’ is just a TV show ― la-di-da ― but it was our life.”

As for his character, Dinklage said he’s happy about the way Tyrion ends the series.

“I think he was given a very good conclusion. No matter what that is — death can be a great way out,” he said.

He also seemed pleased with Tyrion’s character arc, starting as the black sheep of the Lannister family who was “pretty irresponsible” and “used his position as the outcast of his family like an adolescent would” by pushing his differences “in their faces.”

“The beauty of Tyrion is that he grew out of that mode in a couple of seasons and developed a strong sense of responsibility,” Dinklage said.

“Not morality, because he always had that, but what to do with his intelligence.”

The eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” will premiere in the first half of 2019.

(Huffington Post)

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Black Panther’ Is First Superhero Movie To Score Golden Globes Best Picture Drama Nod

The history-making “Black Panther” just made history again. The Ryan Coogler-directed film has become the first superhero movie to be nominated for best picture in the drama category at the Golden Globes. 

A slew of stars, including the film’s own Danai Gurira, announced on Thursday the nominations for the 76th annual ceremony to be held in January in Beverly Hills, California. The film, which became the highest-grossing solo superhero film to date earning $1.3 billion worldwide, was also nominated for best original song for Kendrick Lamar’s “All The Stars” featuring SZA and best original score for Ludwig Göransson’s work on the film. “Deadpool” is the only other superhero to break into the best picture categories at the Golden Globes and was nominated for best motion picture, musical or comedy in 2016 with its star Ryan Reynolds also getting a nod.

Marvel has made a heroic push for the film in recent months by hiring Oscar strategist Cynthia Swartz to lead the campaign for awards season with the support of Marvel President Kevin Feige and a “significant awards season budget.”

“I would like to see the hard work and the effort and the vision and the belief of the talented filmmaker Ryan Coogler, who sat across the table from us a few years ago and said, ‘I have been wrestling with questions about my past and my heritage and I think I really want to tell a story within this movie,’” Feige told The Los Angeles Times in an interview. “And that he did it so unbelievably well and with so much impact … seeing that potentially being recognized is what excites me the most.”

The cast of the Marvel movie recently awarded the first recipient of The Black Panther Scholarship, which funds a full grant to Loyola Marymount University worth $250,000.

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How this couple's drunken decision to buy a hotel in Sri Lanka paid off

For most of us, our drunken decisions tend to extend to a dodgy takeaway or regrettable text. But for one British couple, it was life-changing as they decided to buy an entire hotel in Sri Lanka.

Gina Lyons and Mark Lee got married last year and decided to backpack around Sri Lanka for three weeks for their honeymoon in December 2017. While in the little beach town of Tangalle, they stayed in a cheap, slightly rundown hotel. On the first night while drinking several bottles of rum with Isuru, the hotel’s bartender, they discovered the lease was coming up for sale. 

gina and mark 1Gina and Mark made one of the biggest decisions of their lives over a copious amount of rum. 

The couple drunkenly started to work out the calculations and went so far as to get Isuru to contact the landowners with their offer of £30,000. Surprisingly, they accepted and when they woke with a hangover the next morning, the realities of what they had agreed to set in.

They brokered the deal wearing their beachwear and promptly hired Isuru as the front-of-house manager and another local, Milinda, as their general manager. Then a fresh set of challenges presented themselves. 

gina and mark 2They refurbished the beach-side hotel with the help of some locals. 

Gina told Lonely Planet about the most difficult part of the sale. “Being based in England was the hardest challenge, the lack of Sinhalese, the unknown laws.” They were also given plenty of conflicting advice but ultimately had to make their own choices. “Everyone had told us to be careful trusting people but the truth is, we trusted Milinda and Isuru – and I am glad, because they are friends for life. I would trust them with my life.”

Gina remembers the refurbishment as being their favourite part of the process. “It was physically exhausting but so rewarding. We hired all locals, we played music loud, ate takeout, and all painted and made furniture all together. It was a really special time.”
gina and mark 3
The result is Lucky Beach Tangalle. Describing itself as a place for ‘flashpackers’, it opened in July this year with just seven sea view rooms and an on-site restaurant and it’s already been getting rave reviews from guests.

With the refurbishment complete, the guests leaving satisfied and the couple continuing to successfully juggle their Sri Lankan business and their British careers, their drunken decision appears to have paid off. With a new baby in the home too though, they’ve declared that all their future big decisions will be made sober.

(The Lonely Planet)

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Kevin Hart quits as Oscars host over homophobic tweets

Kevin Hart has stepped down as host of the Oscars next year after tweets emerged in which he used homophobic slurs.

The decision comes just three days after he was announced as host of the 91st Academy Awards ceremony.

Tweets originally posted between 2009 and 2011 resurfaced shortly after he was confirmed for the job, containing offensive language towards the LGBT community.

The actor and comedian's response to the outcry attracted a further backlash, as he wrote on Instagram that critics should "stop being negative".

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In an accompanying video, Hart said he wasn't going to "let the craziness frustrate me" and added that he "loves everybody".

In a second video, Hart said the Academy had asked him to apologise over the tweets but he "chose to pass" as he has "addressed this several times before".

He said the "same energy that went into finding those old tweets could be the same energy put into finding the response" and that he did not want to have to explain again that he is a different person now.

"I passed on the apology," he said. "The reason why I passed is because I've addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I've addressed it, I've spoken on it. I've said where the rights and wrongs were.

"I've said who I am now versus who I was then. I've done it, I've done it. I'm not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old. I've moved on, I'm in a completely different space in my life.

"The same energy that went into finding those old tweets could be the same energy put into finding the response to the questions that have been asked years after years after years.

"We feed internet trolls and reward them. I'm not going to do it, man. I'm going to be me, and I'm going to stand my ground."

However, in a tweet he did apologise "for my insensitive words from the past".

It comes after LGBTQ media watchdog group GLAAD reportedly contacted the Academy Awards broadcaster ABC, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and Hart's management to "discuss Kevin's anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and record".

Hart said in a 2010 stand-up special that "if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will."

I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's....this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018

I'm sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018

He announced he was withdrawing himself from the role in the early hours of Friday morning, writing on Twitter: "I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's....this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists.

"I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past."

He added in a follow-up post: "I'm sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so."

hart 2

The awards ceremony will take place in February, with Hart describing the gig as the "opportunity of a lifetime" when he was made host.
The 39-year-old wrote: "I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars.

"I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time.

"To be able to join the legendary list of hosts that have graced that stage is unbelievable. I know my mom is smiling from ear to ear right now."

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Meghan Markle pregnant: Royal baby due in Spring, Kensington Palace says

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are expecting a baby in the spring of 2019, Kensington Palace said. Meghan told The Queen and the rest of the Royal Family the happy news at Princess Eugenie's wedding, it was revealed.Kensington Palace said in a statement: "Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019.

"Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public."

The exciting news comes just hours after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex touched down in Sydney for their first international tour.

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Reach Custody Agreement

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are finally on the same page.

After requesting for more time to work out their divorce and custody terms, the former couple has reached a custody agreement.

“A custody arrangement was agreed to weeks ago, and has been signed by both parties and the judge," Jolie’s attorney, Samantha Bley DeJean, tells ET in a statement. "The agreement, which is based on the recommendations of the child custody evaluator, eliminates the need for a trial. The filing and details of the agreement are confidential to protect the best interests of the children.”

A source close to the matter tells ET that Jolie is “pleased to be entering the next stage and relieved at the progress for the health of their family.”

Earlier this week, the estranged twosome asked for an extension for the appointment of a private temporary judge, Honorable John Ouderkirk, according to court documents obtained by ET and filed on Wednesday.

A custody trial regarding the couple's six children was scheduled to begin, in private and presided over by Ouderkirk, on Dec. 4, with Ouderkirk working with the couple on reaching custody settlements until June 30, 2019.

A source told ET in early November that "both parties are working together to try and reach an out-of-court settlement and avoid an actual trial." With this new custody agreement, it eliminates the need for the pair to go to trial.

News broke in September 2016 that Jolie had filed for divorce from Pitt after two years of marriage. Jolie cited irreconcilable differences in her filing, and an attorney for the actress, Robert Offer, told the Associated Press that the decision was made "for the health of the family."

The two movie stars then engaged in a tense custody battle, after Jolie asked for physical custody of their children. Pitt responded to the petition by asking for joint legal and physical custody of the children in his filing. (ET)

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Bill Cosby, comic legend,  sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison for sexual assault

Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison at a Norristown, Pennsylvania, court on Tuesday.

The 81-year-old comedian faced up to 10 years in prison after he was convicted in April of drugging and sexually assaulting Temple University women's-basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia estate in 2004.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill made the decision after declaring Cosby a "sexually violent predator" ahead of his sentencing, requiring the comic to appear on a sex-offender registry and undergo monthly counseling for the rest of his life.

"It is time for justice," O'Neill said in his sentencing decision. "Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The time has come."

Cosby's lawyers had asked that he be allowed to remain free on bail while he appealed his conviction, but the judge denied the bail request and ordered Cosby to be imprisoned immediately. Cosby was led away in handcuffs.

Before the sentencing, Cosby's lawyers had also asked for house arrest, arguing that Cosby — who's legally blind — was too old and vulnerable to do time in prison. Prosecutors had asked for five to 10 years behind bars, saying the comic could still be a threat to women. He will serve his time in state prison.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele rejected the notion that "age, infirmity, should somehow equate to mercy."

"He was good at hiding this for a long time," Steele said. "Good at suppressing this for a long time. So it's taken a long time to get there."

Cosby's lawyers had fought the "sexually violent predator" designation, arguing that Pennsylvania's sex-offender law is unconstitutional and that he was no threat to the public at his age. But O'Neill said prosecutors had met their burden of proof by "clear and convincing" evidence.
When the ruling came down, a woman in courtroom shot her fist into the air and said "Yes!"

Constand said in a statement submitted to the court and released Tuesday that she's had to cope with years of anxiety and self-doubt that had left her "stuck in a holding pattern."

Constand, 45, said her training as a professional basketball player had led her to think she could handle anything, but "life as I knew it" ended on the night she said Cosby knocked her out with pills and penetrated her with his fingers as she lay nearly paralyzed on a couch.
Constand said she now lives alone with her two dogs but has trouble trusting people.

"When the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities," she wrote in her five-page statement. "Now, almost 15 years later, I'm a middle-aged woman who's been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward."

She added, "We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over."

In the years since Constand first went to authorities in 2005, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, though none of those claims have led to criminal charges.

Cosby was smiling and joking with his spokesman and sheriff's deputies as he settled into the courtroom Tuesday. On day one of the sentencing, the comic laughed at times as the psychologist for the state testified.

Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom; they're generally banned in Pennsylvania.

Cosby became the first black actor to star in a prime-time TV show, "I Spy," in 1965. He remained a Hollywood A-lister for much of the next half-century.

Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale, Michael R. Sisak, and Claudia Lauer contributed to this report.

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Indian film star to open eatery in Colombo

Pulkit Samrat is known for his two passions — fitness and food. And now, the actor plans to unite both in his new venture — an eatery of healthy nosh in Sri Lanka. “It was simple maths to combine both my passions. People think nutritious fare isn’t tasty and that’s what we are going to focus on —delectable food that’s wholesome to the core!” he says.

The Fukrey Returns actor plans to open the café some time mid-year in 2019 in collaboration with a friend who owns a prime property in Sri Lanka. A local chef is working on the dishes that include seafood, which is low in sodium and rich in minerals. Pulkit calls the experience delightful.

“We are tasting and applying a healthy twist to various platters from our day-to-day lives. We are experimenting with healthy starchless risottos as well as Rajma Chawal, Butterless Butter Chicken and the likes,” he said. 

A self-confessed animal lover, Pulkit also plans to donate a portion of the profits to elephant conservation.

“I’ve been shooting with this gentle beast of an elephant for my film Haathi Mere Saathi. During the shoot, I got to know of the various problems they face. We got in touch with a few volunteers who are helping conserve the tusker’s habitats and water reservoirs,” he added.


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Sydney Town Hall to become 'a little Sri Lanka'

Sydney Town Hall will be transformed into a "little Sri Lanka" for three weeks next year when Belvoir takes over the city landmark with a new play.

Counting and Cracking, described as "an epic story of love and political strife, of home and exile, of parents and children", is Liverpool-based S. Shakthidharan's debut full-length play.

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Eamon Flack: 'You can't get that from Netflix'. 

The epic production features 16 actors from five countries, performing in five languages.

Belvoir artistic director Eamon Flack said the world premiere, which will be accompanied by a Sri Lankan food festival, had been five years in the making.

"The big discovery in that time was that it was bigger than Belvoir St Theatre," he said. "We love the idea of taking over the civic heart of Sydney to do something about what this city is and what this country is.

"It really is an Australian story as much as it is a Sri Lankan story."

Flack was speaking as the Surry Hills theatre launched its 2019 season, which includes Every Brilliant Thing, a one-woman "uplifting" play about depression starring Kate Mulvany.

The popular show Barbara and the Camp Dogs also returns in April, while in October Paige Rattray directs Fangirls, a musical about teenage girls' obsessions with pop music.

"What we are looking for is a collective mix of surprising, unlikely, generous plays that maybe no one else would do and that might bring in to the theatre surprising new audiences," Flack said.

"Our stage is a very particular place. That dictates to some extent what we can do. We have to do works that are playful and inventive because we don't have the budgets or the wing space or the fly space to do big, epic works."

Flack says live theatre can serve an optimistic antidote to the "bizarre times" in which we live.

"It's so easy to feel miserable at the moment," he says. "It's pretty nuts out there. But theatre can very directly – like a sports game – kick the spirit alive. That doesn't mean it has to be glibly colourful. It can still be very serious. You can't get that from Netflix." 

(Sydney Morning Herald)

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A Sri Lankan is music director in Mozart’s town 

Leslie Suganandarajah has been named music director in Salzburg Landestheater, succeeding Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

Leslie, 35, is presently Kappellmeister with the Bruckner Orchester Linz.

Born in Sri Lanka, his parents settled in Germany when he was two years old.

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'ER' Hollywood actress killed by Police

Vanessa Marquez, an actress best known for her recurring role as a nurse on the NBC drama "ER," was shot and killed by police in South Pasadena, California on Thursday, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Police were called to the 1100 Block of Fremont Avenue in South Pasadena just before 2 p.m. local time on Thursday to perform a welfare check. Upon arrival, Marquez, 49, was having seizures and appeared to be suffering from mental issues, officials told CNN.

After about 90-minutes of trying to offer Marquez medical help, police said she armed herself with what appeared to be a handgun and police opened fire.

The weapon turned out to be a BB gun, investigators said.

Marquez played nurse Wendy Goldman on "ER" for three seasons, from 1994-97. Though her character never had major storylines, she was sometimes involved in episode subplots, some of which had a light-hearted bent.

Marquez's other credits included 1988's "Stand and Deliver" and "Seinfeld."

Source : CNN

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