Friday, January 15, 2016

Tom Hardy made The Revenant cast t-shirts of him choking director Alejandro G. Iñárritu

The Revenant was a pretty intense shoot; you may remember it at one point involved Leonardo DiCaprio eating raw bison liver (“The bad part was the membrane”).

It was cold and remote and relentless and at one point Leo’s co-star Tom Hardy and director Alejandro G. Iñárritu ended up wrestling.

“When things get a bit too serious, I go, ‘Why don’t we have a cuddle in front of all these people here?’ ” Hardy previously told EW. “It ends with both of us falling down in the snow. I think that’s a good thing. If I’m the naughty boy for doing that, then I’d rather be the naughty boy and release that tension.”

His tension-relieving scuffle clearly amused the rest of the cast and crew, so much so that Tom Hardy had t-shirts made up depicting the moment (above: the design, below: seen wearing one).

A signed picture of ’the choking’ popped up on Reddit this morning and received thousands of upvotes.

One commenter painted a slightly darker picture however (though this is completely unverified):

‘That's not what happened; Hardy got pissed off in an argument with Inarritu and choked him out. It was a serious fight, and when they made up afterward they were good enough to goof about it and took that picture. My boss was on the crew, I took that picture. (Must have made the internet rounds.)’

Hardy clearly found it challenging working with Iñárritu, saying: “He’s unlike any director I’ve ever worked with. He sees things how he sees them, so to give him back what he wants is quite an interesting experience. It could drive you fucking nuts.”

But however serious the fight was, it seems the pair don't bear any hard feelings.

“On the surface, he can look inaccessible or difficult," the director said of Hardy. "But he is just a beautiful human being. He’s incredibly sensitive and lovable.”

The Revenant leads the Oscar nominations this year with 12 nods. If it wins Best Picture it will be Iñárritu’s second consecutive win in the category.

Cloverfield gets another movie with 10 Cloverfield Lane

Surprise! J.J. Abrams somehow managed to secretly produce a movie offspring of his 2008 found footage masterpiece Cloverfield, while also putting together the latest Star Wars flick.

A trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane hit last night during the theater screening for Michael Bay's 13 Hours and now you can watch it right here. The movie, which originally went by the name Valencia and also The Cellar, stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr.

Originally, back before we knew it was somehow tied to Cloverfield, it was described as a movie about a woman waking up from a car accident. She finds herself in the basement of a man who says he's saved her life from a chemical attack that has left the outside uninhabitable, according to IMDB.

After it's surprise renaming and this new trailer, Abrams had this to say to Collider about the movie:

"The idea came up a long time ago during production. We wanted to make it a blood relative of Cloverfield. The idea was developed over time. We wanted to hold back the title for as long as possible."

What exactly "blood relative" means, remains unclear. But if Cloverfield was about a monstrous attack on New York City (an allegory of 9/11), perhaps 10 Cloverfield Lane is about how that attack impacted those outside the city, either in upstate New York or middle America. (Still a great allegory for 9/11).

Fortunately, we don't have long to wait. The movie, which by the way is not a found footage flick, hits theaters on March 11.

Stephen Colbert Tricks Olivia Munn's Mom Into Thinking She's Engaged to Aaron Rodgers

Moms say the darnedest things.

During an episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday, the late-night host couldn't help but ask about the buzzing news surrounding his guest, actressOlivia Munn.

"I heard a rumor that you're engaged. I want to spread a rumor that I congratulated you," Colbert said of NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers' alleged proposal.

"No we are not engaged—at all," the actress clarified.

In fact, the brewing rumors were so consuming, they convinced even Munn's mother, Kim.

"My mom believed it and that's when it just got too much for me," she said. "The only way I knew how to dispel the rumors was to use my mother and her text conversation with me."

The Ride Along 2 actress shared a screen shot of their hysterical interaction via text for the world to see, but it wasn't enough to ward off "Colberto's" prankster tendencies.

He grabbed Munn's phone to send Mom a follow-up text.

"Kim colberto here. So happy for the engagement!" he wrote.

While Munn may have left the set, the rumors just couldn't be left behind. Later, Kim responded with a fresh level of confusion.

"Hey, olivia, did you sent me this text, I don't know what you mean," she answered.

Colbert offered an apology via Twitter later in the evening, but Kim wasn't going to accept so easily.

"She accepts your apology," Munn tweeted back on behalf of her mom. "And your generous cash gift."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

British Actor Alan Rickman Has Died at 69

Rickman had been suffering from cancer, The Guardian reports, and his death was confirmed by a family member.

Known for his distinctive basso voice and a keen talent brought to every role, Rickman had early success as villains like Hans Gruber in Die Hard,Sheriff George of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and later as the title character in the HBO movie Rasputin, for which he won his only Golden Globe. He had a knack for the classics as well, both on stage (he won a Tony for his role in Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1987) and on screen (he played a memorable Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility).

In recent years, a new generation met Rickman in the Harry Potter series, as well as in the perennial holiday hit Love, Actually. He directed and starred as King Louis XIV in A Little Chaos last year and will still appear in two more movies: the drone warfare thriller Eye in the Sky, out March 11, and Alice Through the Looking Glass, out May 27, as the voice of the Blue Caterpillar.

Oscar nominations 2016: Complete list of nominees; ‘The Revenant’ leads with 12

Leonardo DiCaprio, Sylvester Stallone and Jennifer Lawrence were among the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards, which were announced Thursday morning.

“The Revenant” topped all films with 12 nominations, including best picture, setting up best director nominee Alejandro Iñárritu for a potential repeat of last year’s “Birdman” success.

Best picture nominee “Mad Max: Fury Road” earned 10 nominations — including a nod for George Miller for best director — while “The Martian” raked in seven. “Spotlight,” “The Big Short,” “Room” and “Bridge of Spies” were also nominated in multiple categories.

In acting categories, many of the same stars who were honored during theGolden Globes on Sunday were nominated, including Brie Larson for “Room,” Matt Damon for “The Martian” and, of course, DiCaprio for “The Revenant.” There has been particular interest in that last potential nominee, given that DiCaprio has never won an Oscar and that movie was so grueling to shoot.

The Oscars ceremony will take place on Feb. 28 and will be broadcast live on ABC at 7 p.m. EST.

Nominations (by movie):

“The Revenant” – 12
“Mad Max: Fury Road” – 10
“The Martian” – 7
“Spotlight” – 6
“Bridge of Spies” – 6
“Carol” – 6
“The Big Short” – 5
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” – 5

Best picture
“The Big Short”
“Bridge of Spies”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
Immediate reaction: The Academy can nominate up to 10 contenders, which leaves space for some less typical entries. This year, they went with eight options, which means we have the movies we knew we’d see — “The Revenant,” “The Martian,” “Spotlight” — but also some less weighty entries, such as “The Big Short” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The one glaring omission (sorry, “Star Wars” fans, it’s not “The Force Awakens”) is “Carol,” which seemed custom-made for awards glory.

Actor in a leading role
Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”
Immediate reaction: The only name on this list that really matters is Leonardo DiCaprio. Barring some unthinkable fraud (What if he secretly shot the whole movie on a soundstage? Maybe that bison liver was a strawberry jam-covered mushroom?), he has this category locked down.

Actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Brie Larson, “Room”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”
Immediate reaction: This shakes out a lot like we would have guessed. Golden Globe winner Larson, arguably the front-runner, is on the list, alongside other sure bets, such as Blanchett and Lawrence. The one mild surprise is Rampling, who was phenomenal in “45 Years” but didn’t get a Golden Globe nomination.

Best director
Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”
Alejandro Iñárritu, “The Revenant”
George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”
Adam McKay, “The Big Short”
Immediate reaction: These directors really run the gamut, from Iñárritu and his extreme sport of directing to the staid yet thrilling approach that McCarthy took to “Spotlight.” The most surprising omission is Ridley Scott. The “Martian” director has been nominated multiple times but never won, so this year seemed like the time for the Academy to honor him with a body-of-work Oscar. Instead, Abrahamson and McKay landed on the list, leaving less serious competition for Iñárritu, who has a good shot at winning his second consecutive trophy after last year’s “Birdman.”

Actor in a supporting role
Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”
Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”
Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”
Immediate reaction: This is a strong category with a lot of worthy contenders. Globe winner Stallone has been gaining steam coming into awards season with his emotional return to the character of Rocky Balboa. The biggest surprise of the lot is Tom Hardy; apparently the Academy really liked “The Revenant.” He took the place of some other strong candidates, including Idris Elba from “Beasts of No Nation,” Paul Dano in “Love & Mercy” and Michael Shannon for “99 Homes.”

Actress in a supporting role
Rooney Mara, “Carol”
Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”
Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”
Immediate reaction: Vikander burst onto the scene this year with a handful of brilliant performances in buzzy movies, and it’s paying off with a nomination here. It wasn’t clear whether she would land on the list for “Ex-Machina” or “The Danish Girl.” It ended up being the latter, which is interesting considering that the role could have easily been seen as a leading performance. The same goes for Rooney Mara, who probably had more screentime than her co-star Cate Blanchett in “Carol” but ended up in the supporting category. But two skilled vets who seemed to be likely nominees — Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Jane Fonda — didn’t make the cut.

Best animated feature film
“Boy and the World”
“Inside Out”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“When Marnie Was There”
Immediate reaction: Pixar had two feature films this year, so the assumption was that the studio would end up with two Oscar nominations. That didn’t happen. Awards front-runner “Inside Out” nabbed a nod, but the studio’s slightly less fawned-over “The Good Dinosaur” did not. Instead, the little known “Boy & the World” snuck in. Meanwhile, Charlie Kaufman’s existential puppet show, “Anomalisa,” also got some love.

Best foreign language film
“Embrace of the Serpent”
“Son of Saul”
“A War”
Immediate reaction: The Hungarian film “Son of Saul” is the picture to beat here. The gut punch of a movie also won the Golden Globe for its depiction of a Sonderkommando at Auschwitz — a Jewish man who was both a prisoner and a worker, tasked with burning the dead.

Best adapted screenplay
“The Big Short,” Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
“Brooklyn,” Nick Hornby
“Carol,” Phyllis Nagy
“The Martian,” Drew Goddard
“Room,” Emma Donoghue
Immediate reaction: Aaron Sorkin took home the Golden Globe for “Steve Jobs” on Sunday, but apparently the Academy wasn’t digging his “impressionistic” take on the Apple founder’s life. Instead, we have a couple of movies that managed to make very complicated subjects palatable for a broad audience: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay used a bathing Margot Robbie to explain the financial crisis in “The Big Short” and Drew Goddard made science a lot less confusing in “The Martian.”

Best original screenplay
“Spotlight,” written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy
“Bridge of Spies,” written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
“Ex Machina,” written by Alex Garland
“Inside Out,” screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
“Straight Outta Compton,” screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff
Immediate reaction: This is an eclectic category. We get one animated entry alongside the science fiction of “Ex Machina” and the true story of “Spotlight.” Meanwhile, this is the only nomination for the thrilling N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton.”

Best original score
“Bridge of Spies,” Thomas Newman
“Carol,” Carter Burwell
“The Hateful Eight,” Ennio Morricone
“Sicario,” Jóhann Jóhannsson
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” John Williams
Immediate reaction: If legendary composer Ennio Morricone wins the Oscar for “The Hateful Eight” like he won the Golden Globe, he may want to find someone else to accept the award on his behalf, because Quentin Tarantino can’t seem to escape controversy even when it’s in the service of a friend. Meanwhile, Jóhann Jóhannsson gets his second nomination in as many years and — hey look! — “Star Wars” got some love.

Best cinematography
“Carol,” Ed Lachman
“The Hateful Eight,” Robert Richardson
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” John Seale
“The Revenant,” Emmanuel Lubezki
“Sicario,” Roger Deakins
Immediate reaction: Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki gets his eighth nomination since 1996 for his work on “The Revenant,” a difficult movie to shoot even before you take into account that Lubezki used only natural light. He’s also won the last two consecutive years, for “Gravity” and “Birdman.” You know who else has been nominated a lot? “Sicario” cinematographer Roger Deakins. This is his 13th nomination and, get this: He’s never won. We’d like to believe that the 13th time is the charm since Deakins’s work on “Sicario” is breath-taking. If only Lubezki’s superhuman undertaking on “The Revenant” weren’t so hard to beat…

Best production design
“Bridge of Spies,” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich
“The Danish Girl,” Production Design: Eve Stewart ; Set Decoration: Michael Standish
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson
“The Martian,” Production Design: Arthur Max ;Set Decoration: Celia Bobak
“The Revenant,” Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy
Immediate reaction: A lot of worthy candidates here. “Mad Max” and “The Martian” certainly utilize some flashy design to create memorable cinematic worlds, but there are also some designers who did more with less, as with “Bridge of Spies.”

Best visual effects
“Ex Machina,” Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams
“The Martian,” Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
“The Revenant,” Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould
Immediate reaction: This is the category that allows massive blockbusters to get some Academy love, and this year that meant “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” made the cut. Interestingly, the bear attack in “The Revenant” was given precedence over Indominus Rex’s fight to the death with a shark-eating dino in “Jurassic World.”

Best original song
“Earned It,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio
“Manta Ray,” “Racing Extinction,” Music by J. Ralph; Lyric by Antony Hegarty
“Simple Song 3,” “Youth,” Music and Lyric by David Lang
“Til it Happens to You,” “The Hunting Ground,” Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
“Writing’s on the Wall,” “Spectre,” Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith
Immediate reaction: This is an eclectic year, with a couple Top 40 contenders — “Writing’s On the Wall” and “Earned It” — going up against the classical “Simple Song 3” and the virtually unknown “Manta Ray” (which, as it turns out, is quite beautiful). Speaking of popular songs, there was no room for “See You Again,” the track that really got the waterworks flowing at the end of “Furious 7.”

Best documentary feature
“Cartel Land”
“The Look of Silence”
“What Happened, Miss Simone?”
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”
Immediate reaction: British director Asif Kapadia gets his first nomination for his stirring look at the life and death of singer Amy Winehouse. That movie will duke it out with “The Look of Silence,” Joshua Oppenheimer’s gorgeous, heart-breaking companion piece to “The Act of Killing,” another documentary about Indonesian death squads that was Oscar nominated in 2014. Meanwhile, prolific documentarian Alex Gibney didn’t make the cut for his Scientology expose “Going Clear.”

Best costume design
“Carol,” Sandy Powell
“Cinderella,” Sandy Powell
“The Danish Girl,” Paco Delgado
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Jenny Beavan
“The Revenant,” Jacqueline West
Immediate reaction: Three-time Oscar winner Sandy Powell is cleaning up this year with two nominations: one for her sumptuous 1950s suits and dresses for “Carol” and the other for her fantastical designs for “Cinderella.” On the other end of the spectrum, the Academy gave some love to “The Revenant” (moccasins, bearskin capes) and the dusty, post-apocalyptic leisurewear of “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Best makeup and hairstyling
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared,” Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
“The Revenant,” Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini
Immediate reaction: It’s going to be hard to compete with the makeup that made Leonardo DiCaprio look like the victim of a gruesome bear attack. It’s interesting that the bombastically titled foreign film “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared” made the cut above “Black Mass.” Apparently we weren’t the only ones who found the prosthetics in that movie distracting.

Best live action short film
“Ave Maria”
“Day One”
“Everything Will Be Okay”

Best animated short film
“Bear Story”
“Sanjay’s Super Team”
“We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”
“World of Tomorrow

Best documentary short subject
“Body Team 12”
“Chau, beyond the Lines”
“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”
“Lasy Day of Freedom”

Best film editing
“The Big Short,” Hank Corwin
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Margaret Sixel
“The Revenant,” Stephen Mirrione
“Spotlight,” Tom McArdle
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

Best sound mixing
“Bridge of Spies,” Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
“The Martian,” Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
“The Revenant,” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

Best sound editing
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Mark Mangini and David White
“The Martian,” Oliver Tarney
“The Revenant,” Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
“Sicario,” Alan Robert Murray
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Matthew Wood and David Acord

Who Is Rima Horton? 4 Things To Know About Alan Rickman’s Wife

Many people are mourning the loss of Alan Rickman. The British actor, best known for his roles in "Die Hard" and "Harry Potter," died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer. It's been reported that Rickman died in London and was surrounded by his friends and close relatives. Rickman's family confirmed his death Thursday.

Even though Rickman landed several high-profile gigs over the course of his career, the actor was able to keep his personal life relatively private. In fact, it wasn't revealed until April 2015 that Rickman and his longtime love Rima Horton had married.

Below are four things to know about Rickman's wife:

1. Rickman and Horton's love story began over 50 years ago. According to Us Weekly, the pair met when they were teenagers in 1965; Rickman was 19 and Horton was 18. The pair moved in together in 1997 and remained a couple ever since.

2. Rickman and Horton have never revealed their wedding date, but the "Love Actually" star did tell German site Bild in April 2015 that he and Horton secretly married in New York.

“It was great, because no one was there," he said about his wedding. "After the wedding in New York we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and ate lunch.”

3. According to the Daily Mail, Horton is a politician and worked as a Labor party councilor for the Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council from 1986 to 2006.

4. Horton, 68, and Rickman never had any children. Even though the pair was together for decades, they decided not to have any kids. The actor is cited as previously saying that he would have loved to have had a family but Horton didn't want any children and he respected her decision.

“You should remember I am not the only one involved. There is another person here,” he said. “I would have loved a family. Sometimes I think that in an ideal world, three children, aged 12, 10 and eight, would be dropped on us and we would be great parents for that family.”

Monday, January 11, 2016

National Championship 2016: TV schedule, players to watch

Alabama and Clemson will decide the college football national champion Monday night in Glendale, Arizona.

The Tigers will look to finish off a perfect season, but are a touchdown underdog to the SEC champion Crimson Tide.

The College Football Playoff Championship game will air at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN. ESPN will also have a Megacast for viewers to watch on multiple ESPN networks and the ESPN app and the lineup is as follows according to

Traditional TV broadcast (ESPN): Chris Fowler is on play-by-play and Kirk Herbstreit as the analyst. Heather Cox is on the Clemson sideline and Tom Rinaldi on the Alabama sideline.

Film Room (ESPN2): ESPN analysts Brian Griese and Chris Spielman, along with Florida head coach Jim McElwain and other additional guests, will provide in-depth analysis of the game as it happens from a film room equipped with multiple camera angles, clicker technology and telestration at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters.

ESPN Voices (ESPNEWS): ESPN personalities watch the game from Los Angeles in a living room-type atmosphere. Participants include Teddy Atlas, Michelle Beadle, Jay Bilas, Taylor Twellman and Marcellus Wiley. Additional guests could be added.

Homer Telecast (ESPNU): Joe Tessitore will host former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and former Alabama center Barrett Jones in the booth, along with other quasi-‘game analysts’ with a decidedly partisan view towards their alma maters.

Finebaum Film Room (SEC Network): Paul Finebaum, Greg McElroy, Booger McFarland and Bret Bielema watch the game and provide their instant analysis and reaction while also take live calls throughout the game. Fans can interact by tagging their tweets with #FinebaumFilmRoom.

Sounds of the Game (ESPN Classic and ESPN3): This is ESPN’s game telecast sans commentators and includes full coverage of the pregame on-field entertainment and halftime band performances.

Command Center (ESPN Goal Line): This broadast features a full-time split screen application showing the live game action, immediate replays of every play, isolated camera feeds of both head coaches, enhanced statistics, real time drive charts and the ESPN Radio broadcast.

Mock Replay Booth (ESPN3): Current and former ACC and SEC replay officials take viewers through the full process of reviewing every play from their recreated replay booth set up in Bristol.

Pylon Cam (ESPN3): This broadcast is exactly as it sounds — a continuous stream of the cameras being fed from the eight pylons surrounding the field, both at the goal lines and for the first time from the backlines of the end zones.

Home Town Radio (ESPN3): Each team’s radio announcers will call the game with a customized viewing experience that includes full time isolated shots of head coaches and star players.

Data Center (ESPN3): This broadcast will include significant on-screen graphic content ranging from analytics, real time drive charts, win probability updates, curated social media reaction and more.

Spider Cam (ESPN3): This will be a continuous feed of the “spider cam” that maneuvers above the field of play.

Taco Bell Student Section (ESPN3): Cameras in the Taco Bell student sections — focusing on students, bands, mascots and cheerleaders of each team — will focus on how the most enthusiastic fans in the building are reacting with every play.


DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson: The Heisman Trophy finalist is a dual-threat QB. He threw for 3,699 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,032 yards and 12 scores. Alabama will have to contain Watson in order to win.

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama: The Heisman Trophy winner led the nation in rushing with 2,061 yards and 20 touchdowns. Clemson will need to keep him from breaking off big runs and make Alabama beat them through the air.

Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson: Lawson says he will be playing at about 60 percent, but his 60 percent is better than most players' 100. Lawson is a disruptive force and the Tide will have to get him blocked. He led the Tigers with 10.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss.

Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama: The senior led the Crimson Tide with 97 tackles this season and was named a first-team All-American by the Associated Press. He will be key to stopping Clemson's rushing attack.

Ballon d'Or voting: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo omit each other

It's a tradition as old as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's annual place on the Ballon d'Or finalist podium: The two individual rivals leaving each other off their respective ballots.

FIFA released the voting breakdown for the Ballon d'Or, and Messi, this year's winner, had Barcelona teammates Neymar, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta on his top three, while Ronaldo, this year's runner-up, voted for Real Madrid teammates Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale. Neymar, the third-place finisher, voted for Barcelona's Messi, Suarez and Ivan Rakitic (National team coaches and captains and a media representative from each FIFA nation account for the ballots).

The voting also revealed that Robert Lewandowski and Suarez rounded out the top five.

As for some of the other ballots that stood out: U.S. men's national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann (who left Ronaldo and Messi off his 2014 ballot entirely in favor of Franck Ribery, Gareth Bale and Radamel Falcao) selected Messi-Neymar-Ronaldo on his ballot, while U.S. captain Michael Bradley voted for Messi-Ronaldo-Suarez. The USA's media representative, Soccer America's Paul Kennedy, selected Messi-Ronaldo-Neymar.

LYTTLETON: Messi continues superstar evolution

Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio neglected to include any of the finalists on his ballot, opting for the Bayern Munich trio of Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and Arturo Vidal.

Star Wars Han Solo Spin-Off Short-Lists Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Dave Franco, and More

The Star Wars franchise is edging closer to finding the right actor to fill out a young Han Solo’s daringly tight pants in the upcoming spin-off from directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Starting from a pool of over 2,500 actors, Lucasfilm has finally narrowed the pool to a dozen contenders including some very familiar faces.

Gone are some of the odd outliers from the long list like Mr. Robot’sRami Malek, and Variety reports that a quarter of recognizable young actors—Miles Teller (Whiplash), Dave Franco (Neighbors),Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), and Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars)—are leading the short list. These three already appeared to be the front-runners when the long list was announced last month, and, unless Lucasfilm decides it wants to go with an unknown, will remain the most likely candidates. None of them have quite the right wise-cracking smolder of a 33-year-oldHarrison Ford but, then again, it’s hard to imagine anyone even coming close.

Perhaps it would be better, then, to go with someone a little less well known. The fewer expectations the better for our new young Han. And given the enormous popularity of The Force Awakens,newcomers like Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, Lucasfilm shouldn’t be afraid to go too obscure. With that in mind, there are some under-the-radar choices on the list already, like Jack Reynor(who was great in Macbeth), Emory Cohen (equally great inBrooklyn), and Glee alum Blake Jenner. Audiences will soon get a better sense of Jenner’s non-singing talents when he takes the lead inRichard Linklater’s highly anticipated Everybody Wants Some.

Somewhere in the middle of the pack is Clint Eastwood’s son,Scott Eastwood (The Longest Ride), who, at 29, is the oldest actor on the short list and creeping up on the age Ford was when he made A New Hope.

Testing is still going on and the Han Solo spin-off won’t begin shooting until next January, but Variety reports that Lucasfilm plans to nail down their new young star in the next few weeks. Though there’s no official confirmation yet, there’s an enticing rumor that “the new Solo could have a small cameo in Rogue One: A Star Warsbefore appearing in his own stand-alone pic.” Rogue One is meant to take place just before A New Hope, so that could mean that this is less of a young Han Solo film and more of an early-30s Han Solo film. Hey, things are looking up for Eastwood!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Four Entrepreneurial Takeaways From J. Cole's 'Forest Hills Drive' HBO Special

Rapper Jermaine LaMarr Cole, or simply J. Cole, wrapped up a five-part HBO special on January 9 that gave his fans a behind-the-scenes look into his life on the road and the days leading up to the release of his third, now RIAA-certified platinum, album 2014 Forest Hills Drive.

Shortly after graduating from St. John’s University, J. Cole inked a record deal with Jay-Z’s newly formed label, Roc Nation. The deal was finalized in 2009 and even though Cole was the first artist on the label’s roster, it would take a number of years for them and their artist to find common ground. Nonetheless, in 2014 it was evident that the North Carolina native had finally found a way to prove that major-label affiliated acts do not need a formal marketing plan that consists of radio singles, constant social media presence, and press.

Though Cole has achieved a high level of commercial success, he knows what it’s like to be an artist hoping to get his shot (he once stood in the rain for hours to hand Jay Z a CD of his beats, only to be turned away by Jiggaman). If one pays close attention to each episode, Cole serves up a few tips for the up and comers.

Embrace the humble beginnings

In 2009, J. Cole tweeted “Yo I got 502 followers! Probably not a lot for most of these other rappers, but I am thankful for each person who hit that follow.” In the years to come, Cole would embark on a rigorous touring schedule, re-appoint songs that were meant for his first album into a free mixtape, and struggle to find his place on mainstream radio.

On past occasions that pre-date my contributions to Forbes, I had the pleasure of speaking with concert promoter and artist manager, Sascha Stone, an honoree of FORBES 30 Under 30: Class of 2016list. He freely shared the experience of booking J. Cole at a small venue in Austin, Texas in 2010. After his performance, Cole was blown away that people not only showed up, but were rapping along.

Fast forward five years, and the Forest Hills Drive tour sold approximately 565,000-575,000 tickets according to Cole’s booking agent, Rob Gibbs. The tour induced multiple sellouts, including the 18,000-capacity Madison Square Garden, and grossed over $16 million from July to September, according to Billboard.
You can run a business with your friends

Friend-turned-manager, Ibrahim Hamad, met J. Cole at St. John’s University some 10 years ago. It was by a semi-accident that Hamad learned of Cole’s passion for rapping. In a recent interview with Rap Radar, Hamad states that at the time the two were in school together he was “just doing whatever I could do to help out…I was like ‘Yo, you’re dope…let me at least start playing this for people’ and then we went from there and put a mixtape together.”

From lending an ear to last-minute recordings, to executing the annual Dollar and a Dream tours (a string of live performances offered to fans for $1 on a first-come-first-serve basis), Hamad is the reason that Cole can worry less about day-to-day logistics. To add to his resume, he also serves as the president of their 2007-established entity, Dreamville Records, and shared responsibility for the label’s partnership with Interscope Records.

Cole further proves that he can hire friends who knew his government name before his stage name. Childhood friend turned stage manager, Cedric Brown, executes the technical arrangements for each tour date, including the star-studded live performance that features Drake and Jay Z in the final episode. Though the groups of tour mates are seen cracking jokes in their off time, they make a habit of over-communicating with each other when show time nears.
Formal marketing plans aren’t always applicable

Normally a pre-release checklist of no lead singles, guest features, or marketing plan doesn’t meet the requirements for a platinum selling album. “This new model that exists now of [artists] dropping [albums] out of the blue, building their own buzz…that didn’t exist back then,” Cole says in Episode 3. “[The label’s] whole style was ‘this is what we know: sign an artist, put him in the studio, when we feel like he has the single then spend money at radio, sell the album and see what happens.”

NFL playoff results 2016: Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers advance in the NFL playoff bracket

The first day of the 2016 NFL playoffs is a wrap, and it was kind of a wild one. The Kansas City Chiefs rolled to victory over the Houston Texans, and the Pittsburgh Steelers won a wild one over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs will now travel to face the New England Patriots next weekend, while the Steelers will travel to face the Denver Broncos.

The big news for San Francisco 49ers fans is the fact that Hue Jackson's team is officially eliminated from the playoffs. There is some question about what Saturday's loss means to Marvin Lewis, but Jason LaCanfora reported that Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther would be the top candidate for the job.

The loss does make this situation all the more interesting, but for now, Jackson is free to interview and agree to terms to become a head coach with another team. He is set to meet the 49ers and Cleveland Browns, with reports indicating the Browns get first dibs. I'm curious to see how just how Jackson is feeling following a tremendous letdown. The Bengals had a fumble on offense, and two personal fouls on defense that cost them the game. You don't get over this kind of loss all that easy.

As for the Chiefs, they rolled the Texans, thanks in large part to the Texans offense being abysmal. That's not to say the Chiefs offense didn't get things done, because they did. But it will be a fascinating matchup when they travel to face the Patriots. The Chiefs defense is getting healthy at the right time, and I think that could end up being a relatively low scoring game.

And the Steelers get to head to Mile High to face the Broncos. Denver lost at Pittsburgh back in Week 15. Ben Roethlisberger's status is up in the air for next weekend, but I have to think he finds a way to play. It's a fascinating matchup, with Peyton Manning back in the saddle.

Bitter ending, new beginning for AJ McCarron as an NFL quarterback

First the Kick Six. Now this.

As a fan suggested on Twitter, AJ McCarron may lead the football world as a victim of"What just happened?" endings.

The former Alabama record-setter's best day in the NFL turned out to be one of the more bitter defeats in playoff history.

McCarron, getting his first playoff start in his second year in the league, trying to give the Bengals their first postseason win in 25 years, deserved better than Pittsburgh 18, Cincinnati 16.

"We were so close to giving this city what they deserve," he said in his postgame press conference. "For it to just not happen sucks. It's bad. Bad feeling."

Things went from good to bad in a terrible hurry Saturday night.

The Bengals trailed 15-0 to start the fourth quarter. Despite a rough start and rougher weather in a driving rain, McCarron led them on three straight scoring drives to take a 16-15 lead on his 25-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green with 1:50 left.

Cincinnati's seven-game playoff losing streak seemed over when Pittsburgh threw an interception on the first snap of its next possession. Then everything went wrong for the Bengals.

Running back Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball back to the Steelers. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict committed a personal foul with a vicious hit on a defenseless receiver after an incompletion. Defensive back Adam Jones added a dead-ball unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during the emotional aftermath of that hit on a night when tempers flared throughout.

The penalties moved the Steelers in position to kick a 35-yard chip-shot field goal for the win. It also put the outspoken McCarron in position to throw his unfortunate and undisciplined teammates under the bus, but he declined.

Of Hill's fumble, McCarron said, "It's football. He didn't lose us that game."

Of the two personal fouls committed by Burfict and Jones, McCarron said, "I'm not here to throw shade at anybody. We win together, and we lose together. Simple as that.

"We need to have each other's backs during this process. That's the best way to take the next step leading into next year to be the best team we can possibly be. If we use this time to point fingers at each other, we're taking steps back as a team, and we don't need that."

McCarron also said it seemed to rain much harder when Cincinnati had the ball, but he could be forgiven that moment of foolishness given the raw emotion of the ending.

Someone asked McCarron if this was his toughest loss. He said it was in the NFL, and there can be no doubt. He overcame injuries of his own as a rookie a year ago to win the backup job, then took over when starter Andy Dalton suffered a broken thumb last month.

McCarron became the first Alabama quarterback to win an NFL regular-season game as a starter since Jeff Rutledge in 1987. He was the first Alabama quarterback to start a playoff game since Richard Todd in 1983.

He was less than 2 minutes away from winning that game when it all went wrong, but as badly as it ended, this was McCarron's best day in the NFL. He finished 23 of 41 for 212 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and he led a terrific fourth-quarter comeback from 15 points down.

He was a pro during and after the game. Everyone will remember the ending. Better to think of the entire night as just the beginning for McCarron.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Forest: EW review

'The Forest'

Genre: Supernatural Horror; Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney; Director: Jason Zada; Release Date: 01/08/2016; Release Date Limited: 01/08/2016; Release Date Wide: 01/08/2016; Runtime (in minutes): 95; MPAA Rating: PG-13

What is it about Japan’s Aokigahara Forest that both tempts filmmakers and yet stubbornly resists becoming a good movie? Jason Zada’s The Forest is the second film in as many years about the woods at the base of Mt. Fuji, where dozens of people go to commit suicide each year. Last year’s attempt, Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees, got booed into oblivion at Cannes, and The Forest also fails to produce compelling horror out of the so-called “suicide forest.”

Perhaps it’s because The Forest tries to do too many things at once. Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer stars as Sara Price, who is drawn to Aokigahara after her twin Jess is seen disappearing into it. Jess is also played by Dormer (in a brunette wig), but unfortunately not much is made of the potential for haunting doppelganger motifs. Upon arriving in Japan, Sara encounters a travel reporter named Aidan (Taylor Kinney) and a park guide named Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa), who offer to take her into the forest on one of their suicide watch hikes. Though Aidan appears trustworthy at first, Sara starts to suspect that he may have met Jess before she disappeared. Meanwhile, Sara is struggling with repressed memories of her parents’ mysterious death when she and Jess were young, which is only compounded by the forest’s vaguely-defined powers of illusion. Ambiguity is good in a horror movie, but with this many plot elements elbowing each other for room, none of them achieve enough clarity to be properly terrifying.

Perhaps the biggest problem with The Forest is that it’s ultimately not very scary. Moments that are clearly meant to induce horror come few and far between. Mostly Dormer just walks around trees a lot. This is doubly disappointing because the setting gives the filmmakers all of Japanese horror mythology to work with. That is a deep well, full of monstrous demons, but Zada and his team hardly draw from it at all except for the occasional zombie schoolgirl.

The Forest doesn’t know if it’s a supernatural thriller, a story about repressed childhood darkness, or an eerie doppelganger mystery. It fails to fully become any of them, and ends up missing the forest for the trees. C+

Critical Mass: Leonardo DiCaprio's role in The Revenant is already the stuff of legend

For weeks, The Revenant has been heard, but little seen. The 19th-century Western, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as frontier legend Hugh Glass, opened on Christmas Day in a mere four theaters, but the Fox studio awards machine has saturated the airwaves and talk shows and websites for two weeks.

You may have heard about the complicated production, which included filming in extreme and occasionally torturous weather conditions in order to capture Glass’s desperate plight in the untamed 1820s wilderness after he’s savagely mauled by a bear and left for dead. (Surely, you heard about the bear…) You may have heard about DiCaprio’s commitment, which included submitting to freezing environments and eating bison liver — anecdotes used to pad his campaign for that long-overdue Oscar for Best Actor. And you may have heard about the precision and uncompromising demands of director Alejandro González Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, the Oscar-winning duo from Birdman, that may have something to do with the crew members who walked off the set when times got hard.

Making The Revenant was a journey into the heart of darkness because it had to be. Glass’s tale, long mythologized and resurrected by Michael Punke’s 2002 novel, on which the film is based, is a miraculous survivor’s tale. On the brink of death following his disastrous encounter with a bear, Glass was left in the care of two fellow trappers — played by Tom Hardy and Will Poulter — bribed by their boss to give him a proper burial once he expired. But as Glass lingered, and hostile Indians lurked in the wilderness, they took matters into the own hands. Somehow, Glass survived and set off in pursuit of the dishonorable men who betrayed him.

“The Revenant marks Alejandro González Iñárritu’s return to the big screen with a vengeance — literally,” says EW’s Chris Nashawaty in his B review of the film. “It’s an epic about the existential extremes human beings will go to for revenge. Well, that, and witnessing one of Hollywood’s biggest stars endure aPassion of the Christ-style beating from man, beast, and nature.”

There are numerous reasons to see The Revenant, but it’s DiCaprio and the growing drumbeat to reward him with that elusive Oscar that will drive many to the theater this weekend when the film expands to more than 3,000 screens. Is it his time? The 41-year old actor has been nominated four times for acting, and he’s considered a lock for a Best Actor nod when the Academy unveils their list on Thursday. He’s become a somewhat odd sentimental choice, considering his unrivaled success at such a young age. After all, Al Pacino and Paul Newman had to wait even longer for their Oscar moment. But did those esteemed actorsever sleep in an animal carcass?

For more of Nashawaty’s review and collection of critics’ takes from around the country, scroll below.

Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)
“It’s an epic adventure writ small. And for some, that may be enough. But I suspect others will leave The Revenant wishing there was a little more narrative meat on the bone. Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, Iñárritu’s savage endurance test of a film almost works better as a series of stunning images and surreal sequences than as an emotionally satisfying story.”

Ty Burr (Boston Globe)
“The Revenant is a gritty little B-western that, for reasons unclear, has been pumped up into an epic of brutalist art cinema. At the center is a plot as sturdy as it is time-worn: a man gets left for dead and comes back to exact vengeance on his betrayers. Yet the acres of beautiful hot air that surround this storyline, courtesy of director Alejandro González Iñárritu, star Leonardo DiCaprio, and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, never quite elevate the movie to the level of myth they’re aiming for. At times, though, they come close.”

Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter)
“Pushing both brutal realism and extravagant visual poetry to the edges of what one customarily finds in mainstream American filmmaking, director/co-writer Alejandro G. Inarritu, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and a vast team of visual effects wizards have created a sensationally vivid and visceral portrait of human endurance under very nearly intolerable conditions; this is a film that makes you quite glad to have been born in a century with insulation and central heating.”

David Edelstein (New York)
“Early in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s survival saga, I gasped ‘Bloody hell!,’ meaning both ‘What an amazing filmmaker!’ and ‘Get me out of here!’ The movie is visceral with a side of viscera. The Hollywood columnist who wrote that it was too ‘unflinchingly brutal’ for women was justly ridiculed, but he did pick up on something that’s there: Watching it is meant to be a test of a certain kind of ‘manliness.’”

Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald)
“DiCaprio doesn’t so much act in the movie as endure it — half of his dialogue consists of grunts and ‘Arrgh!’ and ‘Ugh!’ — but he brings more to the role than sheer physicality. Glass’ relationship with his son, which is intended to form the movie’s emotional center, is too thinly rendered to make an impression. But DiCaprio is too lively, too resourceful, to allow the movie to sink into grim, solemn horror. His character may be a metaphor — a personification of our innate instinct to survive — but DiCaprio also gives him a soul.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times)
“DiCaprio has maybe 20 percent as much dialogue as he did in The Wolf of Wall Street, and his classic movie-star looks are buried beneath an icy beard and layers of mud and blood, but it’s a great big performance — powerful and raw and forceful. After five Academy Award nominations without a win, this could be the role that wins DiCaprio the Oscar. It would be well deserved.

Anthony Lane (New Yorker)
“What Iñárritu has created is less an adventure than a solemn pilgrimage, suppressing the giddy flights of Birdman, and, as for DiCaprio, his forte — a comic impishness, last released in The Wolf of Wall Street — is sternly curbed. Awed reports of what he went through, on the set of The Revenant, cannot disguise the fact that his character is a moral monotone, who suffers great afflictions but no change. Although the wild world is thrown at him, how much really stirs in the heart of Glass?”

Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times)
“The actor’s great ally here is double Oscar-winning cinematographer Lubezki, who brilliantly captures the unnerving beauty of a virgin wilderness and Glass’ agonizing attempts to stay alive in it. … The cinematographer can’t save The Revenant’s uncertain ending and unimpressive dialogue, but it’s not for want of trying. What Inarritu told the Times last year about his director of photography is apparently still true: ‘He loves to live on the edge. If failure is not a possibility, he doesn’t seem interested.’”

Justin Chang (Variety)
“In short, The Revenant must be appreciated first and foremost as a sensory and aesthetic marvel, a brutal hymn to the beauty and terror of the natural world that exerts a hypnotic pull from the opening frame. Its deficiencies as a human drama and a metaphysical meditation will take a bit longer to emerge.”

Manohla Dargis (New York Times)
“Iñárritu isn’t content to merely seduce you with ecstatic beauty and annihilating terror; he wants to blow your mind, to amp up your art-house experience with blockbusterlike awesomeness. Sometimes, as with Birdman … this desire to knock the audience out pays off. The Revenant is a more explicitly serious, graver and aspirational effort.”

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Even more than Birdman, The Revenant is a director’s movie, a showcase for a filmmaker’s vision and innovation. Iñárritu employs long, complicated shots that make full use of the wide screen. Early in the movie, he films an Indian attack in ways that make you realize that every previous director has done it all wrong. The attack comes without warning, from all sides. A character starts calmly barking out orders and is killed mid-sentence. Every moment is a horrible surprise, which, of course, it would be. There is no safe place to look, no safe character to follow.”

Stephanie Zacharek (TIME)
“The Revenant is supposed to be relentless, though you may find it tiresome, the movie equivalent of tigers circling a tree so single-mindedly that they churn themselves into butter. Lubezki was the cinematographer on Birdman, and in The Revenant, he and Iñárritu engage in yet more feats of DP derring-do. For better or worse, we’re always aware of what the camera’s doing. … There are about ten too many shots of treetops waving listlessly in the breeze, probably intended to symbolize the Isolation of Man or some other graduate thesis topic.”

U.S. indicates Washington wants 'El Chapo' extradited

The United States appears almost certain to request the extradition of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who has twice escaped prison in Mexico.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Friday it doesn't comment on pending extradition requests "before they become the subject of public judicial proceedings."

But spokesman Peter Carr said: "I can confirm that it is the practice of the United States to seek extradition whenever defendants subject to U.S. charges are apprehended in another country."

Guzman is included in at least seven indictments in various U.S. jurisdictions.

'Mission accomplished': Mexican President says 'El Chapo' caught

There also is a provisional arrest warrant in Mexico on behalf of the United States that was issued more than a decade ago, Carr said. At that time the United States asked Mexican authorities to send Guzman to the United States for prosecution.

Guzman escaped a Mexican prison in July, crawling through a hole in his cell block's shower area into a lighted, ventilated tunnel, then to a half-built house.

On Friday, special forces from the Mexican navy captured him.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch didn't bring up extradition in a statement to the media.

"The U.S. Department of Justice is proud to maintain a close and effective relationship with our Mexican counterparts, and we look forward to continuing our work together to ensure the safety and security of all our people," she said.

A Justice Department official told CNN's Pamela Brown that Lynch called Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez Gonzalez to congratulate him and to pledge continued cooperation.

A leading U.S. member of Congress said it would be best for the Unites States to handle Guzman's incarceration.

"We cannot afford to let #ElChapo slip the bonds of justice again. We need to extradite him to the United States," tweeted Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto addressed his nation, congratulating the people responsible for Guzman's capture, but didn't indicate whether he would consider extradition.

In the past, Mexican authorities asserted their sovereignty to first prosecute Guzman for crimes in Mexico, despite U.S. officials' concerns the drug kingpin would escape from prison as he had done in 2001.

Analysts last year advanced many interpretations on why Mexico declined to extradite Guzman to the United States shortly after his arrest in 2014.

Some said Nieto wanted to limit U.S. involvement in Mexico's drug war and felt having the United States possibly imprison Mexico's top criminal would be a blow to the country's ego and sovereignty.

Others said former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam scuttled any potential deal.

While some theorize Mexican officials feared Guzman might expose dirty dealings among the country's politicians, Murillo Karam said he disapproved of the United States cutting deals with criminals -- as it did in 2013 with Jesús Vicente "El Vicentillo" Zambada Niebla, the son of Guzman's top lieutenant -- and not sharing with Mexico any intelligence from their cooperation.

Officially, Murillo Karam said Guzman would not be extradited until he finished serving his time in Mexico, a sentiment echoed by Mexico's ambassador to the United States, Eduardo Medina-Mora. When Guzman escaped in 2001, he had served seven years of a more than 20-year sentence, and he racked up eight more charges before being recaptured.

Michael Braun, a former chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said Mexico would be wise to send Guzman to the United States.

"The only way that the government of Mexico is going to ensure absolutely that they don't go through another embarrassing situation, another embarrassing escape, is to extradite him to the United States," he said.

Mexico extradites major cartel suspects to U.S.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Country Singer Craig Strickland Died from Hypothermia, Wife Says

Friends and family members of country singer Craig Strickland finally have closure after they searched an Oklahoma lake for days after he vanished in the middle of a duck-hunting trip.

Strickland's body was recovered Monday in the wake of Winter Storm Goliath after an organized, days-long search, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. His body was found along the shoreline of Kaw Lake, north of where his boat capsized over a week ago while on a hunting trip with friend Chase Morland. Morland was found dead in the lake Dec. 28, according to the Associated Press.

According to his wife, Helen, Strickland died of hypothermia, she said in an Instagram post that followed the recovery of his body.

Strickland was a member of the band Backroad Anthem. On Monday, his bandmates remembered him on their Facebook page.

"Today we lost our brother, our best friend, our bandmate," they wrote on the Backroad Anthem Facebook page. "Craig was the most amazing person whose passion for life couldn't be matched."

Teams used a sonar boat and helicopter during their search for Strickland, according to KFSM-TV.

The Kay County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Oklahoma Highway Patrol at about 9 p.m. CST Sunday, Dec. 27, after they learned that two hunters went missing at Kaw Lake sometime over the weekend.

Searchers found the men's capsized boat shortly after midnight Monday, but not the two men, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.

Morland, from Van Buren, Arkansas, posted on Twitter that he and Strickland, were "going right through Winter Storm Goliath" to go duck hunting. Strickland also retweeted the post on his Twitter account.

Oklahoma was hit hard over the weekend by an ice storm from the deadly Winter Storm Goliath, which also injured more than 50 people, closed interstates and knocked down trees and power lines. Nearly 200,000 lost power across the state due to the icy weather.

Strickland's wife, Helen, posted on Twitter last Monday that her husband had not yet been found, but their dog, Sam, who was with them on the duck hunting trip, was found alive.

"Sam is fine," Helen posted. "He was a brave boy. He wouldn't leave Chase's body until the Warden found him."

PlayStation Network Is Down, All Services Experiencing Issues

Sony's online gaming service PlayStation Network is currently experiencing issues across all platforms worldwide, leaving many unable to play or purchase games.

The network service status sitefor the online service used across PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PS Vita indicates every aspect of the network is down, including "gaming and social", PlayStation Store, PlayStation Now and "account management." Currently the reason for the problem is unknown.

Upon clicking "details" on any of the services experiencing issues, Sony outlines what features will exactly be effected. Clicking for details on "gaming and social" creates a message that states "You may have some difficulty launching games, applications, or online features. Our engineers are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible, and we thank you for your patience." Players may also have difficulty signing in or creating an account, as well as purchasing games via the PlayStation Store.

Though some games can be played offline, numerous titles, like Destiny and The Elder Scrolls Online are online-only multiplayer titles that cannot be accessed without access to the network. For players who were looking to enjoy the day playing games online with friends, it comes as a major downer if Sony can't get the network up and running quickly. We'll keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ranking the NFL playoff teams

The Carolina Panthers won the 2015 NFL regular season with a 15-1 record, but as coach Ron Rivera pointed out Sunday, much work lies ahead. Carolina, a playoff winner over the Ryan Lindley-quarterbacked Arizona Cardinals a season ago, has not yet won enough when it counts to command the respect playoff-proven teams enjoy.

A personnel director reached Sunday night ranked the Panthers only fifth among the 12 playoff teams. Two other evaluators had Carolina first, with Seattle second. Arizona remained firmly in the conversation despite absorbing the third-worst Week 17 defeat a playoff team has suffered under the current seeding format. There was some thought New England could re-emerge as the team to beat once receiver Julian Edelman and tackle Sebastian Vollmer return from injuries, but there was little hope Peyton Manning could rescue Denver's offense.

I've ranked the 12 playoff teams below without regard for how their paths through the postseason might influence their Super Bowl chances. The odds are solidly against Seattle beating Minnesota, Carolina and (most likely) Arizona on the road before winning the Super Bowl, for example, but I still saw the Seahawks as the best team right now. Green Bay finished lower on this list than I could have possibly anticipated early in the season.

ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) rank: second
Expected points added (EPA) rankings: fifth offense, seventh defense

Comment: No team can match Seattle's combination of playoff pedigree and current performance level. That and running back Marshawn Lynch's expected return from injury are why the Seahawks top this list even though other teams had better regular seasons overall.

One question deep into the season was whether the Seahawks would regain their bravado after losing the Super Bowl in such a crushing manner at University of Phoenix Stadium last season. They did so resoundingly in their final seven games, punctuated by a 36-6 victory over Arizona in that same stadium on Sunday. Seattle wound up leading the NFL in points allowed for a fourth consecutive season, but Russell Wilson and the offense are the story heading into the playoffs.

Wilson finished the regular season ranked first in passer rating (110.1) while trailing only Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger in Total QBR (74.9). His 24 touchdown passes, 132.8 passer rating and 91.3 QBR over the Seahawks' final seven games were all league highs. The only pick he threw in that span came on a third-and-19 pass thrown 52 yards past the line of scrimmage against St. Louis. Seattle led the NFL in both offensive touchdowns scored (29) and fewest offensive touchdowns allowed (eight) in that closing span, going 3-0 against current playoff teams and outscoring them 113-43.

Gary Kubiak not ready to name starting QB for playoff opener

The morning after the Denver Broncos earned the AFC's top seed in the postseason, coach Gary Kubiak said Monday he's not ready to name a starting quarterback for the team's playoff game in two weeks and that either Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler can get the team where it wants to go.

Manning, who had not played since Nov. 15, entered Sunday's 27-20 win over the San Diego Chargers with just over eight minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Broncos scored on four possessions when Manning was in the game to rally from a 13-7 deficit to the victory that earned the Broncos home-field advantage in the playoffs.

"I won't say anything,'' Kubiak said. "I'm very proud of our football team. We've got a few days off here, I've got a lot of things I need to do as a coach right now, I'm still up there trying to evaluate a lot of things. I've got nothing for you [Monday], so we'll just get ready to go and we'll go back to work Thursday.''

Other than those players who need medical treatment, Kubiak gave the players three days off. The Broncos will return to the practice field Thursday.

"I have no timeline -- I'm focused right now on how I'm going to get the football team, how we're going to approach next week, especially as we sit here and wait on our next opponent,'' Kubiak said. " ... We'll settle down, get some schedules together and go back to work Thursday.''

Following Sunday's game Manning said; "I don't know, we've got two weeks before we play again, we'll see how I feel [Monday], we'll see how my foot feels. I got a good welcome back to on the field football, somebody hit me hard and left a little message as he was getting back up ... I've got to see how I feel [Monday].''

Kubiak said Monday he expected Manning would come to the team's facility during the day and get treatment on his left foot. Manning has said he had been troubled by plantar fasciitis for "a while,'' and he suffered a torn plantar fascia in the Broncos' Nov. 8 loss in Indianapolis.

"I think everything was OK, [Manning] played under center, played in the gun, played both, but he's been doing that the last couple weeks ... I wouldn't say we went in saying let's sit in the gun, it was we're ready to go,'' Kubiak said. "I think he's OK.''

Since Manning was removed from the Nov. 15 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs, Kubiak has routinely first met with Manning and Osweiler to outline that particular week's decision at quarterback, then told the team who the starting quarterback would be for the next game and then made a public pronouncement.

He is expected to follow the same procedure this time around and several Broncos players said following Sunday's win over the Chargers that they hoped, and expected, Kubiak to tell the team this week. The Broncos are expected to practice Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The Broncos would then begin their specific preparations for their next opponent Monday. The Broncos will play the lowest remaining seed after this weekend's games, so they will face either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the winner between the Chiefs and Houston Texans.

"Our players will not be in the dark -- I will never put them in the dark,'' Kubiak said Monday. "They'll know exactly what we're doing, exactly where we're heading. I think our players deserve a lot of credit because they've responded to both.''

Asked if he was concerned about potential uncertainty at quarterback while getting ready for a playoff game, Kubiak said: "I don't have any concern, because we always have direction, they know. We get together and we've got direction. They also understand through the course of this season what has taken place with our team and how we've handled it and the fact it has taken all of us -- they understand that.''

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

PSN down: PlayStation Network mostly back online following 12-hour outage

PlayStation Network is mostly back online, after an outage that lasted at least 12 hours and is still affecting some users.

The outage lasted from just after 3pm UK time until about 3am, according to the Down Detector website.

The problems affected almost every part of the PlayStation Network. That included all of Sony’s different consoles — the PS Vita and PS3, as well as the PlayStation 4 — and all of the various services including the store and online play.

Messages showed to some people telling them that the network was down for “maintenance”. An update on PlayStation’s Network Status page said only that PSN was “experiencing issues” and that engineers were working on the problem.

Sony’s official status page said that the systems are now back online and working. Senior members of Sony’s staff also reported that PSN was online again.

“As people are tweeting, PSN is back online,” wrote Sony Computer Entertainment president Shuhei Yoshida. “Very sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.”

But some people continued to report the problems. A range of tweets and Facebook posts were still being set at the time of publication to say that users were still having trouble signing in or playing games.

The company didn’t say what had caused the problems. While some online claimed that the service had gone down after a hack, there was no official statement from Sony about whether the problems were internal or had been caused from outside.

Craig Strickland's Band Posts Tribute

On Monday, Oklahoma Highway Patrol found the body of country singer Craig Strickland after he had been missing for more than a week.

The family of the singer, 29, has been notified, police said, and more information "will be released when a full update is provided."

Strickland's band Backroad Anthem posted a touching tribute to Facebook, writing, "Today we lost our brother, our best friend, our bandmate. Craig was the most amazing person whose passion for life couldn't be matched."

The band continued: "We pray today for God to wrap his arms around Randy, Joanne, Helen, and the family, and to help us through this extremely difficult time. We want to thank every single friend, fan, and family member for your thoughts, prayers, and love. Today he is smiling down on us and we know he will always be with us."

Strickland and his friend Chase Morland were reported missing on Dec. 27 after the two went hunting in the middle of a storm in Northern Oklahoma.

Morland, 22, was found shortly after, while the singer remained missing for days.

Morland tweeted before leaving: "In case we don't come back, @BackroadCRAIG and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma. #IntoTheStorm."

Helen Strickland, Craig's wife, thanked fans on Twitter after her husband's body was found.

"#CraigStrickland was found today. He is safe with his Father in Heaven. Thank you Lord for leading us to him today. I will praise you, Amen," she wrote.

She also posted a video from the couple's wedding day.

"On the day of our wedding Craig had me watch a video he had made to tell me how much he loved me. I am so thankful for technology in this moment because I will always have this. I watched this privately prior to walking down the aisle, and so now I want to share this small excerpt with all of you," she wrote.

Guns N' Roses, LCD Soundsystem, Calvin Harris headlining Coachella 2016

Coachella announced its official lineup for 2016 on Monday (Jan. 4), with headliners Guns N' Roses, LCD Soundsystem and Calvin Harris atop the bill. The two-weekend festival is scheduled for April 15-17 and 22-24.

Coachella 2015 earns over $84 Million, breaks attendance records

A Guns N' Roses reunion for the event had previously been confirmed to Billboard via multiple sources, marking the first show for the band with co-founders Axl Rose and Slash since 1993. The legendary rock band will perform Saturday night.

LCD Soundsystem's Friday night slot will also be a reunion for the now iconic dance group, which last played together in 2011. After releasing its first new song in five years, "Christmas Will Break Your Heart," sources told Billboard the band would be getting back together. The James Murphy-fronted outfit's festival appearance had been one of the leading Coachella rumors leading up to this announcement.

Other performers at this year's Coachella include Ellie Goulding, Sufjan Stevens, Jack Ü, Ice Cube, A$AP Rocky, CHVRCHES, Sia, Major Lazer, Flume, Courtney Barnett and Lord Huron, among many others.