Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday, 15th Sept, Malaysia Day


Even in Toronto where people are polite.
Yet everywhere I go at this year’s Toronto Fest, folks seem surprisingly happy.
Many pictures are playing well and the boo birds are few and far between.
And no one is happier than that professional curmudgeon, Bill Maher.
His new doc, "Religulous," got a standing ovation this weekend and, even better, there were protestors outside the theater (that’s good news to Maher and his director, Larry Charles).
Even better news was the Republican convention.
Sarah Palin and company underscored the link between faith and politics.
To Maher that demonstrated the relevance of his movie “You don’t have to make fun of religion,” he told me.
“Religion makes fun of itself.
It is the elephant in the room.”
Maher and Charles traveled the world to make their doc.
They put on a phony title, “A Spiritual Journey.”
The various pastors and religious potentates being interviewed were not told that the interviewer would be Maher.
When he appeared on camera some blinked – but went on with the show anyway.
Just about every religion was zapped during the doc – especially the Mormons and Scientologists (“Mormonologists” Maher calls them).
Maher and Charles occasionally were thrown off the property, even barred from the front of the Jefferson Memorial.
And both concede that their movie will offend many – especially the zealots.
“The reality is, most people who talk about the Bible have never read it,” Maher says.
Maher has read it.
Raised a Catholic, he took a course on the Bible at Cornell and studied it carefully to prep for his movie.
He emerged a convinced Doubter and believes many Americans remain “on the fence” about religious issues, despite the Republican rhetoric.
“Even though creationism is creeping back into the schools, I believe Americans are a sensible people, and will resist the extremists,” he says.
“Folks must face up to the reality that anyone who is religious is an extremist.
That’s why they believe in this magical nonsense that comprises religious dogma.”
Larry Charles, who brought Borat to the world, is persuaded that audiences will see the entertainment value of Religulous, a movie that delivers an abundance of laughs in addition to its hard-nosed message.
“I think this movie captures lightning in a bottle,” he says.
The audience in Toronto seemed to demonstrate that he was right.
***Paul McCartney is playing at Israel's 60th anniversary, and it's making Islamic folks all hot under the hijab.
A militant Muslim leader is threatening the ex-Beatle with a suicide bombing if he doesn't cancel his September 25 gig in Tel Aviv, according to the Sunday Express.
Omar Bakri, a preacher, says, "He will not be safe there.
The sacrifice operatives will be waiting for them."

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September 15, 2008 , 10:10 AM ET

Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Fresh off winning three top awards at last weekend's MTV Video Music Awards, Britney Spears has confirmed she will release a new album before year's end.

"Circus" is due Dec. 2 via Jive; the first single is "Womanizer," produced by the Outsyders.

Among the other contributors are Dr. Luke, who wrote and produced the title cut, Danja, Guy Sigsworth, Max Martin and Bloodshy & Avant.

The album's release coincides with Spears' 27th birthday.

Last month, Spears told OK Magazine of the new album, "I think it is more urban," adding that she'd been writing everyday on a piano in her living room.
"Circus" is the follow-up to last year's "Blackout," which has sold 894,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The project was largely overshadowed by Spears' tabloid-fodder personal life and her disastrous performance of the single "Gimme More" during the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas.

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