24. 09. 2018
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Joan Rivers fighting for her life in NYC hospital – National

Joan Rivers fighting for her life in NYC hospital – National

ABOVE: Joan Rivers appeared healthy and vibrant just hours before surgery went wrong

TORONTO — Joan Rivers is in a medically-induced coma in a New York City hospital after falling unconscious Thursday while undergoing a procedure on her vocal chords.

The 81-year-old comedian and TV personality was at the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic on East 93rd Street when she stopped breathing.

Paramedics responded to a 911 call at 9:39 a.m. about a person “in either cardiac or respiratory arrest.”

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Rivers was rushed to the Mount Sinai Medical Center, where she was listed in critical but stable condition. It is not known how long the star was deprived of oxygen.

“I want to thank everyone for the overwhelming love and support for my mother,” said Rivers’ daughter, Melissa Rivers, in a statement Thursday night.

“She is resting comfortably and is with our family. We ask that you continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers.”

Melissa, 46, rushed to New York from Los Angeles on Thursday with son Edgar, 13, to be at the comedian’s bedside.

In a 2010 interview with New York magazine, Rivers said she often thought about her own death.

“I make deals with God all the time. ‘Give me 10 more good years and I’ll call it a day,'” she said.

“I feel amazing. I truly feel like I am 25. I walk everywhere. There’s nothing wrong with me. The mind is going better than ever.”

Rivers taped a post-Emmys Fashion Police special on Tuesday and performed in New York on Wednesday night. She was scheduled to perform Friday night in New Jersey.

Her celebrity friends used social media to send their best wishes.

This is an updated version of a story that first appeared Aug. 28, 2014.

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24. 09. 2018
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UN: Armed group detains 43 peacekeepers in Syria – National

UN: Armed group detains 43 peacekeepers in Syria – National

ABOVE: UN beefs up military presence after peacekeepers detained

An armed group detained 43 U.N. peacekeepers during fighting in Syria early Thursday and another 81 peacekeepers are trapped, the United Nations said.

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The peacekeepers were detained on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights during a “period of increased fighting between armed elements and the Syrian Arab Armed Forces,” the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. It said another 81 peacekeepers are “currently being restricted to their positions in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah.”

The statement did not specify which armed group is holding the peacekeepers. Various Syrian rebel groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, have been fighting the Syrian military near the Golan Heights. On Wednesday, opposition fighters captured a Golan Heights crossing point on the disputed border between Syria and Israel.

READ MORE: Mother of U.S. journalist held by Islamic militants pleads for his release

The statement said the United Nations “is making every effort to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers,” who are part of UNDOF, the mission that has been monitoring a 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after their 1973 war.

In June, the U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the intense fighting between Syrian government and opposition fighters in the Golan Heights and demanded an end to all military activity in the area. Syrian mortars overshooting their target have repeatedly hit the Israeli-controlled Golan, and U.N. peacekeepers have been abducted.

Thursday’s statement noted that UNDOF peacekeepers who were detained by armed forces in March and May were later safely released.

As of July, UNDOF has 1,223 troops from six countries: Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines.

But the Philippine government last week said it would bring home its 331 peacekeeping forces from the Golan Heights after their tour of duty ends in October, amid the deteriorating security in the region.

In June 2013, Austria said it was withdrawing its 377 U.N. peacekeepers from the Golan Heights. Croatia also withdrew in 2013 amid fears its troops would be targeted.

©2014The Canadian Press

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24. 09. 2018
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Time to scrap ‘dumb’ trade rules: Brad Wall

Time to scrap ‘dumb’ trade rules: Brad Wall

WATCH ABOVE: Trade between the provinces and territories is expected to dominate discussion today as Canada’s premiers gather in Charlottetown for their annual conference. Ross Lord reports.

CHARLOTTETOWN – The premiers of Canada’s three western provinces announced Thursday they’re going to review the remaining trade barriers between them as part of their New West Partnership.

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Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said while the deal between his province, Alberta and British Columbia has made progress on easing the movement of goods and services across borders, more work can be done.

Wall said he was taken aback after discovering that a manufacturer of first aid kits would have to satisfy 10 different sets of regulations in order to operate throughout Canada.

READ MORE: Premiers, native leaders call for forum on missing and murdered aboriginal women

“This seems dumb,” Wall said. “At the heart of improving trade issues is trying to remove dumb from the economy.”

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said the New West Partnership should serve as an example to other provinces looking for ways to bring down trade barriers.

“This is the most successful free trade bloc in Canada,” Clark said. “Canada doesn’t have a great track record of being free-traders between provinces. … We are trying to lead by example.”

The premiers are meeting in Charlottetown where they are also expected to discuss health care, pensions and the so-called fiscal imbalance with Ottawa. The meeting wraps up Friday.

©2014The Canadian Press

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24. 09. 2018
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Former Bisons player suspended for steroid use – Winnipeg

Former Bisons player suspended for steroid use – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – A former University of Manitoba Bisons football player has been suspended after testing positive for Oxandrolone, a synthetic anabolic steroid.

Ranji Atwall, a defensive line player last season, was handed a four-year sanction from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports (CCES).

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“Basically it’s cheating. Steroids aren’t part of the rules and they’re not permitted. It’s against the spirit of sport, it steals the very soul of sport competition when one or more competitors are doping through the use of steroids,” says CCES COO Doug MacQuarrie over the phone.

The sample, which tested positive, was collected during out-of-competition doping control on March 17 in Edmonton, according to a CCES release.

Atwall admitted to the violation, waived his rights to a hearing and accepted the suspension.

“He’s paying his own personal consequences right now, he’s suffering through that right now on a very, very, very, bad choice that he made and certainly realizes the implications of that choice,” says Bisons football head coach, Brian Dobie.

“Our goal is to have 100 percent of our student athletes competing fairly and drug free and so I’m disappointed and I have to say there’s probably a little bit of anger there,” says Coleen Dufresne, Bison Sports Athletic Director.

The sanction makes Atwall ineligible to play in any capacity.

This is not the first time the football player, originally from Richmond, BC, has been caught in a violation.

In 2011, Atwall’s sample tested positive for the presence of cannabis while he was playing in the Canadian Junior Football League.

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24. 09. 2018
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Australian Open champ Wawrinka tells fan to ‘Shut up’ at US Open – National

Australian Open champ Wawrinka tells fan to ‘Shut up’ at US Open – National

NEW YORK – In the heat of the moment, locked in a suddenly tight match after midnight at Flushing Meadows, Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka snapped at a rowdy spectator, telling him to “Shut up.”

An hour later, his 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (1) victory over 91st-ranked Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in the second round of the U.S. Open complete, Wawrinka was able to laugh about the exchange.

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“At the end of the day, they start to get a little bit drunk,” Wawrinka said at his news conference, shaking his head and chuckling. “It was OK. I had to talk to a few of them. At the end, it’s normal. … Everybody was into the match. That’s OK. It can happen.”

In a match that began Wednesday and finished after 12:30 a.m. Thursday, the third-seeded Wawrinka quickly built a two-set lead before faltering a bit, muttering aloud at himself after one miss: “Too many mistakes!”

READ MORE: Roger Federer wins 1st-round match at US Open

By the time he was in the grind of the fourth set, Wawrinka was talking directly to a fan who was bothering him, turning toward the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands and saying: “Shut up, man! Seriously, shut up.”

Once his mind was back on the tennis, Wawrinka was fine.

At the outset of the match, Wawrinka explained afterward, “It was comfortable, because I was playing really good tennis. I think I was serving big. I was moving really well and taking the ball early, dictating every point. That’s why it (looked) like – not easy, but it (looked) good for me.”

Bellucci, a left-hander, was ranked as high as 21st in 2010, but arrived in New York with a record of only 11-10 this season.

He entered Wednesday with a 5-19 record against opponents ranked in the top 10, including 0-9 on hard courts.

But after a poor start, he began giving Wawrinka some trouble.

Bellucci finally earned his first break point of the match in the fourth game of the third set. He converted the chance on a 10-stroke exchange, stumbling as he flubbed a shot that clipped a net cord, then righting himself to deliver a backhand lob winner that landed on the baseline for a 3-1 lead that helped him take that set.

Wawrinka called that “one bad game.”

And then, making things really interesting, Bellucci went up a break at 2-1 in the fourth set.

But Wawrinka was able to break back to get back on serve. At 5-4 in the fourth set, Wawrinka held two match points, but Bellucci saved them to hold serve there and get to 5-all. With a chance to force a fifth set, though, Bellucci faltered in the tiebreaker.

“I tried to focus more on my game and not on what he was doing,” Wawrinka said in an on-court interview. “Tried to make him work a lot. I was playing a little bit smarter at the end of the match.”

Wawrinka made a real breakthrough at Flushing Meadows last year, eliminating defending champion Andy Murray and getting to his first major semifinal in the 35th Grand Slam tournament of his career.

He now has reached the third round of the U.S. Open for the fourth time in the past five years.

Wawrinka’s next opponent is 92nd-ranked Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia, who eliminated 30th-seeded Jeremy Chardy of France 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-3.

©2014The Associated Press

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24. 09. 2018
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A flavour out of favour: Dog meat fades in S. Korea – National

A flavour out of favour: Dog meat fades in S. Korea – National

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of – For more than 30 years, chef and restaurant owner Oh Keum-il built her expertise in cooking one traditional South Korean delicacy: dog meat.

In her twenties, Oh travelled around South Korea to learn dog meat recipes from each region. During a period of South Korean reconciliation with North Korea early last decade, she went to Pyongyang as part of a business delegation and tasted a dozen different dog dishes, from dog stew to dog taffy, all served lavishly at the Koryo, one of the North’s best hotels.

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She adapted famous dishes to include dog meat, replacing beef with dog in South Korea’s signature meat and rice dish bibimbap. But the 58-year-old’s lifelong experience with a food eaten for centuries in Korea is about to become history.

Daegyo, the famous dog meat restaurant she opened in a Seoul alley in 1981, will serve its last bowl of boshintang, or dog stew, on Friday, a reflection of the challenges facing a trade that is neither legal nor explicitly banned under South Korean laws governing livestock and food processing.

Opposite views on dogs as either for eating or petting have co-existed in the country’s recent history, feeding a controversy that becomes most bitter in the summer. On three “dog days,” which are among the hottest times of the year, many South Koreans queue for the dish of shredded dog meat and vegetables in hot red soup, believing it gives strength to bear the heat.

Animal rights activists protest nearby, urging people not to eat man’s best friend. The closure of Oh’s restaurant, dubbed by a local newspaper as the “Holy Land of boshintang” and frequented by two former presidents, Lee Myung-bak and late Roh Moo-hyun, shows one view of dogs is gaining more traction among young South Koreans.

“There is too much generational gap in boshintang,” said Oh. “There are no young customers.”

Dogs are also food in countries such as China and Vietnam. The long tradition of eating the meat in South Korea is such that a respected 17th century book on Korean medicine extols its health benefits. But today it is an increasingly tough sell and a less attractive dining option for young South Koreans. Oh plans to reopen her restaurant as a Korean beef barbecue diner.

Animal rights groups have also highlighted that some of the 2 million or so dogs eaten in South Korea each year suffer painful and inhumane deaths.

Most young people eat chicken soup on a dog day and even those who eat dog tend to refrain from talking about it openly, according to Moon Jaesuk, a 32-year researcher who enjoyed eating dog meat before he moved to Seoul.

“There’s a burden in a group of 10 or 20 people to suggest eating dog, like making a sexual joke,” he said. “It’s not easy to talk about eating dog when there are a lot of people.”

Young South Koreans grow up watching TV shows about raising puppies and other pets, which sapped appetite for dog meat, said Oh.

Her restaurant used to sell as many as 700 bowls of dog stew a day in the 1980s. These days it is less than half that. Young people also enjoy a diverse dining culture unlike previous generations that came of age amid the poverty that followed the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Meanwhile, Nonghyup Economic Research Institute forecasts the pet business in South Korea to swell to 6 trillion won ($5.9 billion) by 2020, from 0.9 trillion won in 2012. It says one in five South Korean households have either a pet dog or cat.

Sometimes the differing perceptions of dogs become a source of family tension. Kim Dongyoung, 30, said she gets into fierce arguments with her grandfather over her lap dog.

“Whenever he saw my dog at home, he would say it’s the size of one bowl of hot soup,” Kim said. She recently pulled out of signing a lease for an apartment when she saw it was in the same building as a dog stew restaurant.

There is no official data on the dog meat industry, but people who raise dogs as livestock or supply dog meat to diners say its consumption is in decline.

Butcher Shin Jang-gun who supplies dog cuts to restaurants said the number of merchants in the dog meat trading business has shrunk to half of what it was. He keeps a list of between 700 and 800 restaurants in Seoul, some current and others potential clients, and believes there was once more than 1,500.

His father sold only dog meat for several decades. After Shin inherited the butcher shop in southern Seoul in 2002, he added goat meat to offset declining dog meat sales.

“Dog is not an industry with a long-term future,” Shin said. “New generations don’t eat a lot.”

Choi Young-im, secretary general of an association of dog farmers, said dog meat, which used to be most popular after beef, pork and chicken, has been overtaken by duck but will remain a fixture on menus.

Choi estimated between 2 million and 2.5 million dogs are consumed in South Korea each year.

With one fewer dog meat restaurant in downtown Seoul, Oh feels sad that young people are losing touch with the tradition.

“Even now when I see young people at my restaurant, I feel so happy,” she said.

___

Follow Youkyung Lee on 桑拿会所: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活twittter杭州夜网/YKLeeAP

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24. 09. 2018
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Texas father acquitted of murdering drunk driver who killed his two sons – National

Texas father acquitted of murdering drunk driver who killed his two sons – National

A Texas man was acquitted Wednesday of charges he shot and killed a drunk driver who hit and killed his two young sons.

David Barajas was on trial for allegedly fatally shooting 20-year-old Jose Banda after Banda crashed into Barajas and his two sons David Jr., 12, and Caleb, 11, as they were pushing a truck on a rural road in southeast  Texas.

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Prosecutors said that following the accident Barajas, 32, returned to his home roughly 100 yards from the crash site in Alvin, Texas, where he retrieved a gun and returned to shoot Banda, the Associated Press reports.

READ MORE: Family of man killed by drunk driver want a zero tolerance policy

The jury took three hours before finding Barajas not guilty.

According to the Associated Press, legal experts following the case said prosecutors had to overcome jury sympathy for the defendant, who had strong public support in Alvin, a town of just under 25,000 people.

The case was also complicated by the fact there were no witnesses to the shooting, the murder weapon was never found, and gunshot residue tests on Barajas’ hands came back negative. Prosecutors said ammunition and a holster for the type of gun that killed Banda were found in Barajas’ home.

During the trial, a forensic expert also testified saying blood found in the victim’s car matched that of Barajas.

Following the verdict, District Attorney Jeri Yenne spoke about the tragedy.

“Three sons were lost that day. The state has compassion for every single one of them, the Barajas children and the Banda son,” Yenne said.

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Filmmakers rush to get ready for Toronto International Film Festival

Filmmakers rush to get ready for Toronto International Film Festival

TORONTO – The curtain opens on the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in less than a week, and while the stars get ready for primping, some movie-makers are undergoing a far less-glamorous process — sitting bleary-eyed in editing rooms putting the final touches on their projects.

“We’re not actually finished the movie yet,” Jeffrey St. Jules, writer-director of Bang Bang Baby, confessed earlier this month. “We’ll be finished the score and everything right before the festival.”

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Such is the harried situation that goes on behind the scenes before the fest, which is often viewed as a springboard to Oscar glory.

Last year, August: Osage County was so fresh out of post-production, mega-producer Harvey Weinstein took the unprecedented step of attending the first press and industry screening — before the world premiere red-carpet gala — seemingly so he could see how it would play out for its first audience.

“There’s always a million things you feel pressure about doing when there’s a film released at a film festival, whether it’s ticket distribution or getting the press ready or PR or organizing a party,” said Jody Shapiro, who debuted his doc Burt’s Buzz at last year’s fest and has been a producer and cinematographer on several Guy Maddin films.

“You’re just running on adrenalin, I think, as a filmmaker or a producer during that time — especially at a festival like TIFF, especially a world premiere.

“Sales agents, this, that — everything you can imagine boils down to pretty much a night of your life.”

This year TIFF has 143 world premieres, and while the annual movie marathon is proud of that tally, artistic director Cameron Bailey says he always encourages “filmmakers not to rush unduly for” the Toronto festival — or for any fest.

“There will always be an opportunity down the line to premiere your film if you’re not going to make any one particular festival,” he said. “The most important thing is to make it the best film you can. If you can do that within our time window, great, but I think rushing for the sake of rushing is always a little bit risky when you’re trying to create any work of art.”

Canadian filmmaker Richie Mehta, writer-director of the recently released I’ll Follow You Down, agrees.

“I know people who do rush it. In my experience it only hurts the film if you rush it for any festival,” he said. “If the film is going to be what it’s going to be, you kind of have to let the process breathe and embrace the process. I would never rush a film.”

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Terry Gilliam has developed a surefire way to make a festival or studio deadline.

“I put in my contract ‘Six months of editing,'” he said.

Still, even the most veteran filmmakers can find themselves burning the midnight oil ahead of a fest.

“Yeah, you do that,” said Oscar-nominated writer-director Rob Reiner. “Sometimes that happens, and I think probably now for me more and more, because the kinds of films I’m making are more reliant on exposure at festivals and so on.”

Director John Cameron Mitchell admits he rushed to get Hedwig and the Angry Inch done in time for the Sundance Film Festival.

“But New Line was so behind that they let us re-cut after Sundance, which is very rare, especially when you’re working with negatives,” he said. “They probably spent another half a million dollars on us after Sundance, which doesn’t happen anymore, because first of all there’s no film anymore. People do do changes after festivals now because it’s cheaper because of the digital aspect.”

As cult filmmaker John Waters puts it, sometimes “you have no choice” but to scramble to make the festival deadline.

“Oh, I’ve done that. Certainly I’ve done it for Cannes,” admitted the writer-director-actor. “I’ve done it before, and it’s important, especially Toronto — it’s opening day of Oscar season.”

Bailey said if they see a title that’s been submitted for festival consideration and it’s not quite finished, they’ll talk to the filmmakers about the best move.

“We may say at some point, ‘Look, it doesn’t feel to us like you’re going to have the time you need to really finish this film the way you want to. Are you sure you want to finish it for Toronto?’ In some cases, yes, they absolutely do, and they can commit to doing that without compromise. And in other cases, no, they want to take more time, and that happens every year.

“We don’t push filmmakers to finish for our festival and I encourage them not to rush to finish for any festivals. It’s just not the best way to work on anything creative.”

However, they have seen films that have played at the festival “as works in progress,” he added.

“For some filmmakers, that’s a very risky thing that they get very nervous about as well, because it’s hard to expose your work before you’re completely satisfied that it’s finished,” said Bailey.

Eight Mile was presented in Toronto as a work in progress, The Hurricane was presented as a work in progress. Those films went on to do very, very well. And they were works in progress in the sense that there were just a few finishing touches that weren’t quite there. They weren’t rough cuts or anything like that. They were nearly there.”

As Wet Bum writer-director Lindsay Mackay sees it, the last-minute crunch is a help, not a hindrance.

“We’re rushed, but in a good way,” she said in mid-August, noting she was still doing colour correction and mixing on her movie ahead of its world premiere at TIFF.

“There should always be a good amount of pressure, I feel. There should always be a goal for a movie. We got an amazing goal and we’re really excited about it.”

Besides, having plenty of editing time doesn’t take away the jitters, she added.

“Regardless of whether or not what process you’re in, the first time you show it, it’s going to be nerve-racking no matter what. Even if you felt you had the most time to edit it or you felt like everything was perfect, the first time you show a movie, you have no idea how people are going to respond.”

“I’m onscreen, I don’t even know if I suck yet,” interjected Leah Pinsent, who stars in the drama.

“Yeah, it’ll be nerve-racking for you,” said Mackay, adding with a laugh: “You don’t suck.”

— With files from Canadian Press reporter Laura Kane.

©2014The Canadian Press

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24. 09. 2018
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Gallery: Northern lights once again put on a show across Canada

Gallery: Northern lights once again put on a show across Canada

TORONTO – Did you see them?

Wednesday night, skywatchers across Canada were once again treated to a dazzling display of the northern lights.

This is the second night in a row that the lights have danced across the sky.

“You could see it visually with the greens and reds and huge pillars,” stormchaser and photographer Dave Patrick said. “It’s been so long since I have seen a show like that.”

Notanee Bourassa was lucky enough to capture this auroral display just outside of Regina, Sask.

Courtesy Notanee Bourassa

This photo was taken near Kirkfield, Ont. around 1 a.m.

Courtesy Bill Longo

Northern lights as they dance across the sky near Arthur, Ont.

Courtesy Dave Patrick

The northern lights dance across the sky in southwestern Ontario.

Courtesy Scott Burlovich

The northern lights, seen hear northeast of Arthur, Ont., peaked around 1 a.m. EDT.

Courtesy Spencer Sills

Garry Stone took this image of the northern lights over northern Saskatchewan.

Courtesy Garry Stone

The lights were even captured from the International Space Station by astronaut Reid Wiseman.

Social media lit up with reports across Canada and the northern United States, with many describing them as being green and red with pillars that extended into the sky.

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are created when particles from the sun unleashed during a coronal mass ejection (CME) or solar flare, interact with Earth’s magnetic field. In this case, a CME left the sun on Aug. 22.

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24. 09. 2018
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Adrien Brody escapes into ‘Houdini’ role

Adrien Brody escapes into ‘Houdini’ role

TORONTO – When Adrien Brody was faced with recreating one of Houdini’s most ambitious stunts — freeing himself from a water torture chamber — the actor found there wasn’t much room for error.

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“You’re in this confined space with additional pressure because it’s a very narrow chamber and you’re submerged upside down and bolted in. So turning around even to figure out how to get out — it’s very disorienting,” he said of his first day on the set of the History miniseries Houdini. “And it was very challenging.”

This was just one of the ways the legendary escape artist kept his audience spellbound, along with wrangling himself out of a straitjacket while attached to a pole upside down off a building, breaking out of a prison cell and picking a lock to release himself from a bank safe. Practising breathing underwater, hanging from cranes and being shackled in chains in preparation to play the illusionist shed light on the “sheer pain” Houdini endured, said Brody.

“The amount of chains and locks in which he had to be enshrouded with leaves you bruised and aching,” he said. “All the physical aspects were much more painful and challenging than I had anticipated — and that’s only just a fragment of what he was going through.”

Brody — known for his Oscar-winning role in The Pianist — had to be in top physical form to shoot the miniseries, but he credits both Houdini’s physical and mental capabilities for what he was able to accomplish as a performer.

“He had the most relentless personality and he overcame tremendous failure as well and hardship,” the 41-year-old actor said from Los Angeles.

Born Ehrich Weiss in 1874, he took the name Harry Houdini as a tribute to the French magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. His family moved to Appleton, Wis., from Budapest, Hungary, when he was a toddler, his father securing work as a rabbi. Growing up in poverty, Houdini took odd jobs like shoe-shining as a child to help support the family and at 17 began his career as a magician. Shortly afterward he married Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner — known on stage as his assistant Bess — played by House of Cards actress Kristen Connolly in the miniseries.

“What he overcame, being an impoverished Jew in the time of greater anti-Semitism and Eastern European coming to the United States to become the most revered, iconic American performer and what he represented for America is the epitome of American success story,” said Brody.

“All of his difficulties and flaws and drive and obsessions made him that person. And those aren’t all perfect, great qualities, but they speak to someone that at the end of the day, is remarkable and has left that impact on me and so many people in this world.”

Brody was fascinated by Houdini early in his life, inspiring his own act as a child magician, the Amazing Adrien. “My whole journey into acting actually began from an infatuation with magic and illusion,” said Brody.

Houdini not only knew how to engage audiences as a performer, but he also knew how to keep them coming back. Today, he would have been an Internet sensation, said Brody.

“He was probably the first one to understand viral marketing,” he said.

Houdini scouted his stunt locations strategically. His straitjacket act is a prime example — he would perform hanging off buildings that housed newspapers, including the Vancouver Sun building in 1923.

He also cultivated his talents beyond creating illusions. He was the first pilot to fly over Australia in 1910, he started his own film company and, adding to his mystique, was rumoured to be a spy for the American government.

“From what I’m aware of, that relationship existed. Obviously certain details are not disclosed, so our writer had a bit of creative licence with that,” said Brody. “I mean, it’s a movie in and of itself — the idea of a famous showman becoming a spy.”

Movies are where Brody has spent most of his career, with roles spanning a villainous heir in The Grant Budapest Hotel, a substitute teacher in Detachment and a punk rocker in Summer of Sam. Although the TV miniseries gave him the chance to delve into Houdini’s life over four hours — a time span that film doesn’t allow — playing a regular on a TV series doesn’t interest Brody.

“There are so many interesting characters that I want to play and there’s only so much time that I have to do that,” he said.

Houdini airs on the History Channel Monday and Tuesday. History is owned by Shaw Media, parent company of Global News.

©2014The Canadian Press

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