Bollywood actor held in custody over girlfriend's suicide

Bollywood actor Suraj Pancholi who was arrested after the suicide of his actress girlfriend Jiah Khan will spend at least another week in jail after a Mumbai court on Friday adjourned his bail hearing until June 21.

Pancholi, 22, the son of Bollywood acting couple Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, was arrested on June 10 and is being questioned by police over any possible role in Khan's suicide.

His arrest came after Khan's mother, the 1980s actress Rabia Khan, went public with a six-page letter apparently written by the 25-year-old actress before she hanged herself on June 3. Her last phone call was to Pancholi.

In the letter widely published in the Indian media, the 25-year-old actress speaks of being physically and emotionally abused and of having an abortion against her will although she did not mention any names.

Pancholi's lawyer Zamir Khan told Reuters by telephone that the actor's bail hearing had been adjourned to June 21 and until that time Pancholi would have to remain in custody.


Police have yet to file any charges against Pancholi who was reported to have been in a relationship with Khan for a year.

Suicide is a crime in India and abetting suicide is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Khan, whose real name was Nafisa Khan, was found hanged in her room in a Mumbai apartment last week.

The U.S.-born actress made her Bollywood debut in 2007 with Ram Gopal Varma's 'Nishabd' which received mixed reviews and went on to play supporting roles in the psychological thriller 'Ghajini' in 2008 and the comedy 'Housefull' in 2010.

However Khan had not appeared in a movie since 2010 and filmmaker Varma said in a tweet after her death that the actress had been depressed about her stalled Bollywood career.

(Editing by Tony Tharakan and Belinda Goldsmith)

Ethan Hawke to take on Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' on Broadway

Actor Ethan Hawke is returning to Broadway in a production of 'Macbeth', with performances set to begin in October at Lincoln Center, the performing arts center said.


'Macbeth' will be directed by Jack O'Brien, who helmed the acclaimed 2006-2007 production of Tom Stopper's 'The Coast of Utopia' trilogy winning a Tony award, and for which Hawke received a best actor nomination.


Opening night is set for November 21 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. The bloody Shakespeare play, among his best-known and most-performed works, was one of four productions the non-profit theater announced on Thursday for the upcoming season.

Hawke, 42, is currently starring in the horror film 'The Purge', as well as the acclaimed third part of the 'Midnight' series of films, 'Before Midnight' opposite Julie Delpy.

The actor rose to fame as a movie star more than two decades ago starting with such films as 'Dead Poets Society' and 'Reality Bites', and starring roles in 'Gattaca' and 'Training Day', which won him an Oscar nomination.

But in the past decade he has increasingly turned toward stage acting, calling it his "first love," as well as independent films such as 'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead'.

He starred in Shakespeare's 'Henry IV' in 2003, also directed by O'Brien, as well as 'The Seagull', a revival of 'Hurlyburly', 'The Cherry Orchard' and 'The Winter's Tale'.

Lincoln Center's other productions for next season include 'Domesticated' by Bruce Norris, 'Act One', an adaptation of Moss Hart's autobiography, and 'The City of Conversation' by Anthony Giardina.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Patricia Reaney and Jackie Frank)

'Man of Steel' producer shops for new Legendary studio partner

No one has more riding on the outcome of the summer movie season than Thomas Tull, the former investment banker-turned-head of Legendary Pictures and a producer of this weekend's heavily hyped "Man of Steel."

Tull, the financier with a penchant for comic books who raised $500 million in 2004 to start Legendary Pictures, is in the midst of Hollywood's equivalent of a roadshow, visiting studios to pitch his outfit and seal what may become one of the industry's richest distribution deals, according to people with knowledge of the situation.


Legendary is one of Hollywood's most prolific producers of big-budget films, among them director Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" and his two "Dark Knight" installments that have generated combined worldwide ticket sales of more than $2.4 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.

Now, as its distribution and financing deal with Warner Bros. approaches a December 31 expiration, Tull is intent on striking a deal with a new studio that would enable him to expand his company to make TV shows and license consumer products and theme park rides, the people said.

Tull has already met with most of Hollywood's studio chiefs. On Thursday, he lunched in Beverly Hills with Jim Gianopulos, the head of News Corp's Fox film studio, according to one of the people.

Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures and Sony Corp's film studio are among those that have shown interest, according to people with knowledge of the overtures, as has Warner Bros., which is making a late bid to keep Legendary.

Representatives for Universal, Sony and Warner had no comment. A Fox spokesman was not available for comment. A Legendary spokeswoman declined to comment or make Tull available for an interview.

Legendary has quietly become a force to be reckoned with during the all-important 2013 summer season. It is supplying six movies from March to August to distributor Warner Bros., including alien movie "Pacific Rim," which cost an estimated $180 million to make and will be released in the United States on July 12. "Man of Steel," the highly anticipated reboot of the "Superman" franchise opening in U.S. theaters on Friday, had a $225 million budget.

Their success may help determine whether Tull manages to snag a new deal on his terms.


Tull typically either produces or provides financing for movies. Legendary already has "The Hangover," "Inception," "Clash of the Titans," "300," and this year's Jackie Robinson film "42" under its belt. Those films were all distributed by Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc.

Legendary will likely continue to make films focused on comics such as "Watchmen," based on the cult graphic novel by Alan Moore.

"I'm a full-grown comic book geek," Tull said in a 2010 appearance at a conference sponsored by Fortune magazine. "I'm the Batman guy."

Legendary is a catch because it comes with its own pile of money, and reduces the studio's risk by shouldering some of the costs. In December, it raised $443 million from various financial companies, valuing the company at $2.8 billion, according to people with knowledge of the deal.

But Legendary's reliance on big-budget movies also can expose it to hefty losses. This year, it lost an unspecified amount on "Jack the Giant Slayer." It co-financed the film's $195 million budget, but the movie sold just $197 million worth of tickets worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. Studios generally get about half of ticket sales.

Tull is already taking steps for Legendary to control more of its own future. Last month, it agreed to a long-term deal to make and market films in the growing Chinese market with state-owned China Film Co., the country's largest producer and distributor.


And a few weeks before that, Tull bought FIVE33, a marketing company that has helped promote major films including Paramount Pictures' "Star Trek Into Darkness."


(Reporting By Ronald Grover; Edited by Edwin Chan and Chris Gallagher)


Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, wife to divorce after 19 years

The wife of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus has filed for divorce in Los Angeles after 19 years of marriage, the couple said in a statement.


Tish Finley Cyrus, the mother of 20-year-old pop star and actress Miley Cyrus, married the "Achy Breaky Heart" singer in December 1993, and the couple have three children together.


"This is a personal matter and we are doing what is in the best interest of our family," the couple said in a statement late on Thursday. "We ask that you respect our privacy at this time."

Billy Ray Cyrus, 51, filed for divorce in 2010 but the couple later reconciled.

They have one minor child, 13-year-old actress and singer Noah Cyrus. Tish Cyrus has two other children from a previous marriage and Billy Ray Cyrus one child from an earlier relationship.

Billy Ray Cyrus, who was married once before, shot to fame in 1992 with the release of "Achy Breaky Heart," which crossed over from the country charts to mainstream success. The song was nominated for the Record of the Year Grammy in 1993.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey, editing by Piya Sinha-Roy)

Risk-taker Vidya Balan boosts Bollywood's girl power

It's a good time to be Vidya Balan. Indian cinema turned 100 this year and the versatile actress has emerged as the face of Bollywood, earning a spot in an elite nine-member Cannes festival jury headed by filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

The 35-year-old actress has picked her way through a minefield of movie roles in recent years, zooming in on strong and diverse female leads that have straddled box-office success and critical acclaim.


Balan, who made her Bollywood debut in 2005, took unusual risks in a male-dominated industry to play an ambitious soft porn actress in "The Dirty Picture" (2011) and a pregnant woman searching for her missing husband in "Kahaani" (Story) last year.

Her next screen bet is "Ghanchakkar" (Crazy), a suspense comedy that opens in Indian cinemas on June 28. Balan stars as the loud-mouthed wife of a bank robber who loses his memory after a heist.

Balan spoke to Reuters about her new film, breaking stereotypes and playing women who embrace their sexuality:

Q: Tell us about your role as the housewife in "Ghanchakkar"?

A: I am hoping that she's not obnoxious but yes, she is loud. There are people who are loud and they are not even aware. This is her take on being modern. She thinks that I'm fashionable but she buys old magazines for half the price from the neighborhood shop. She's a middle-class housewife, cutting corners. She's the kind of person who goes to a mall, and says "this is too expensive, I'll get this stitched from my tailor." What I find interesting is that Raj (director Raj Kumar Gupta) finds humor in situations that are so mundane and every day. Thrillers are his genre but I knew he'd do humor well too. When he came to me with this, I always wanted to do comedy and this was a breath of fresh air.

Q: After "The Dirty Picture" and "Kahaani", are you now the go-to actress for women-centric roles?

A: (Laughs) I don't know. I do know that when people have something different, they do invariably come to me but I am not complaining. I love it. They are offering me great variety and I am greedy. I want more and more. I am enjoying the work I am doing. People have the appetite for such films.

Q: You are playing strong women who don't hide their sexuality. Are you comfortable with that?

A: The reality is that women today are embracing their sexuality more than ever. We are all less apologetic about the sexual part of us. While I do see a certain hesitation in some people to take up roles like this, I am not averse to them at all because it makes the character more interesting. It's not a pre-requisite but if it's there, why not? It's an aspect that we are waking up to, more vociferously than ever before. So that's bound to find some resonance on screen.

Q: Why do you think people accept you in these different roles?

A: Audiences are OK with seeing the good and the bad in women. We no longer want to just glorify women. We're not vilifying them because they are sexual beings and it gives them so many other aspects. In "Paa" (2009) my character had a child outside of marriage but she is not apologetic about it. She is nurturing towards and of her child and she is the best mother. It just makes for more wholesome people and characters.

Q: Are you afraid of being stereotyped?

A: People said the same thing to me after "Parineeta" (2005). For the longest time afterwards, they said ‘we loved you as Parineeta'. Then "Paa" happened and people said after "Parineeta", it's "Paa". Then "Ishqiya" (2010) happened. So one film will stick on until the next. There are those who offer me films like "The Dirty Picture" but they also offer me films like "Kahaani". I guess people just find it easier to follow on the beaten track - they feel it's safe. But that doesn't excite me.

Q: Does that make you pickier then?


A: No. Even when people come to me with scripts that are different for the sake of being different, I am just happy people are making that effort. Five years ago when I decided that I am only going to do the kind of work that excites me, there weren't that many options. Today, there are that many more options. I am not pickier. I've been picky then and I am now. I do one, maybe two films a year. I am also the kind of person who needs to do other things from time to time. I can't just jump from one film to the other. It could be travelling, reading, spending time with loved ones, or even cleaning. I have a fetish for cleaning.


Q: You were on the jury at Cannes this year. How was the experience?


A: It was awesome. I got to see the cream of the crop and I also realized that we are not that far off. I think we are probably not sending the right films and we do stand fair chance in competition. I'm hoping to see at least one film in competition next year.


Q: There was media criticism about how you looked at Cannes. Does that bother you?


A: I don't read anything that's written about me - good, bad or ugly. I was told about it but when I walked out of that room, I felt happy about the way I was looking and that's it. You can't make everyone happy. While everyone likes to look good, it's about feeling good, because I cannot make everyone happy. I do understand that there is a thriving fashion industry but it was a film festival and I was representing Indian cinema there with a great amount of pride and joy. I think I did well.


(Editing by Tony Tharakan and Paul Casciato)


Backup singers take center stage in new documentary film

Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger appear in the new film "Twenty Feet from Stardom," but only to shine the spotlight on the unsung backup singers who make them sound even better.

Opening in New York and Los Angeles on Friday and expanding across the United States in coming weeks, the music documentary features the lives and careers of singers who have harmonized with the likes of Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, Elton John and many more.


The film features singers who sang on hit tracks beginning in the 1960s, like Merry Clayton and Darlene Love, right up to today, such as Judith Hill, a recent contestant on television singing show "The Voice."

Springsteen, Jagger and others talk about their work with the backup singers as their tracks play in the background, but the film focuses on the backup singers. The film shows them singing in a studio, whether harmonizing or taking the lead, and talking about their experiences.

American director Morgan Neville said he made the film because he became intrigued by their stories and found that even within the music community very little was known about them.

"It's not the last word, it's the first word," Neville said in an interview. "I didn't want it to feel like an anthology, I wanted it to feel like a narrative."

Most of the backup singers are African-American women who began singing in church at a young age. While some were content with supporting roles, others aspired to solo stardom.

"I always knew I wanted to be a singer, it was just, how we gonna do this?" said Clayton.

In the film, Clayton recounts being summoned at 2 a.m. to record with some unidentified English band in Los Angeles. She arrived at the studio in pajamas and hair curlers to learn that the band was the Rolling Stones and they were asking her to sing on "Gimme Shelter" - which became one of the band's signature titles and may be best-remembered today for her powerful vocals.

Despite her success as a backup singer for many stars ranging from Ray Charles to Neil Young to Lynyrd Skinner, on "Sweet Home Alabama," she never gained traction with a series of albums as an independent singer.

Other singers, such as Darlene Love, were thwarted by contract and management troubles. She resorted to cleaning houses to earn a living.

The film explores why each singer didn't make it solo, from their own perspectives and asking others in the industry. Among the reasons are simple bad luck, a lack of ambition or ego, and, perhaps, limited room at the very top for black female singers.

"Something that we kind of say in the film is that there were only so many slots for African-American singers at the time," Neville said about the 1970s.

Neville said that the landscape for backup singers has changed, but not necessarily for the better. With increased technology and current tastes tilting toward more electronic sounds there is less demand for backup singers.

Popular music, he added, also puts more emphasis on spectacle than on singing.

At 29, former "Voice" contestant Judith Hill is struggling to launch a solo career after singing backup for Elton John and Stevie Wonder. She said that the popular TV show has opened some doors for her and she is hopeful that she can achieve her dream.


"When you're a background singer, there's a springboard at the beginning, but it easily becomes quicksand if that's not what you want to do," she said.


(Reporting By Andrea Burzynski Editing by Patricia Reaney, Gary Hill)


Bassist Kim Deal leaves alt-rock band the Pixies

Kim Deal, the bass player behind some of the Pixies' biggest hits, has left the 1980s alternative rock band, its remaining members said on Friday.


Deal's pulsing bass and understated singing punctuated the influential group's early songs, which won critical acclaim for their quick bursts of sound and wild guitars.

"We are sad to say that Kim Deal has decided to leave the Pixies," the band's singer-guitarist Black Francis, drummer David Lovering and guitarist Joey Santiago said in a statement posted on their Facebook page.

The Boston band rose to prominence following their 1988 debut album, "Surfer Rosa," which eventually sold more than a half-million copies.


"Surfer Rosa" and its follow-up, 1989's "Doolittle," are often credited as a major influence for the emergence of grunge rock bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam that achieved wide mainstream success in the early 1990s.

The Pixies disbanded in 1993 because of songwriting disputes between Deal, 52, and Francis, and reformed in 2004 to tour but have released only one new song, Deal's "Bam Thwok", also in 2004.

"We are very proud to have worked with her on and off over the last 25 years," the band said. "Despite her decision to move on, we will always consider her a member of the Pixies, and her place will always be here for her. We wish her all the best."

Deal continues to record and release music with her band the Breeders, which she formed with her sister Kelley in 1990.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Dale Hudson)

Adele honored in Queen Elizabeth's birthday list

Grammy Award-winning singer Adele and Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson were among more than 1,000 people recognized by Britain's Queen Elizabeth in her Birthday Honors List on Friday.

Marking the monarch's official 87th birthday, the honors went to 1,180 recipients from all walks of life, from a beekeeper and a whisky maker to diplomats, artists and business leaders.

London-born Adele, 25, was awarded an MBE - member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire - for services to music.

One of Britain's best-selling artists, Adele has won a string of international awards for songs such as "Rolling in the Deep", "Someone Like You" and "Skyfall", a James Bond theme.

Comedian Atkinson, known to millions of fans around the world for his bungling creation Mr Bean, was given a CBE, Commander of the Order of the British Empire.


A knighthood went to actor Tony Robinson, who played Atkinson's long-suffering servant Baldrick in "Blackadder", a popular BBC comedy series set in different periods of British history.

"Some might say that Blackadder (Atkinson's bullying character) will finally have to treat Baldrick with a bit more respect," Bob Kerslake, head of Britain's civil service, told a news conference.

Away from the celebrities and public figures, hundreds of people working in schools, hospitals and charities were also recognized.

Those honored will receive their awards from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in ceremonies over the coming months, Kerslake added.

Others in the arts to be honored included sculptor Anish Kapoor, who created the Orbit tower at the London Olympics site. He received a knighthood.

CBEs went to cross-dressing artist Grayson Perry, actress Claire Bloom and Julian Glover, an actor whose many roles include a Bond villain in "For Your Eyes Only".

Nicholas Serota, director of Tate, which runs four art galleries across Britain, becomes a Companion of Honour.

In business, there were knighthoods for Richard Olver, chairman of defense company BAE Systems Plc and Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis, Britain's biggest department store group. Brendan Barber, former head of the Trades Union Congress also becomes a "Sir".

Diplomats receiving an OBE included John Baugh, who last year became Britain's first ambassador to Somalia in more than 20 years.

Martyn Roper, ambassador to Algeria, was awarded an OBE, in part for his handling of the hostage crisis at the In Amenas gas plant in January.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

Bob Dylan to play 33 European tour dates

Singer Bob Dylan will embark on a 33-date tour of Europe starting in Oslo on October 10 and ending at London's Royal Albert Hall on November 28, a statement on his website said on Friday.

The "Blowin in the Wind" singer - who is scheduled to finish his "AmericanaramA" tour in Mountain View, California on August 4 - said tickets for "Bob Dylan in Europe" would go on sale on Friday.


"Bob Dylan and his band will tour Europe this fall," the statement on his website said of the 10-country tour.

The announcement follows the September release of Dylan's latest studio album, "The Tempest", described by Rolling Stone magazine as "one of his weirdest albums ever".

Dylan was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in May this year and awarded the top U.S. civilian honour last year, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Earlier this month, the grand chancellor of the French council which clears nominations for the Legion d'Honneur said Dylan had also been put forward for France's highest award.

In a letter to the daily Le Monde, Jean-Louis Georgelin called the singer-songwriter an "exceptional artist" known in the United States and internationally as a "tremendous singer and great poet".

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

Rupert Murdoch's aim: A divorce with little fodder for tabloids

Rupert Murdoch appears to be seeking a quiet divorce, based on the lawyer he has chosen and the absence of incendiary allegations, people with knowledge of the case and experience of high-profile New York divorces said.

Divorce papers filed by the media mogul on Thursday comprised a short document saying the marriage is irretrievably broken, according to a person with knowledge of the filing.


The document, which formally starts a divorce action under New York's no-fault law, contains no details of wrongdoing, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

That, his choice of lawyer and a series of pre- and post-nuptial agreements all favor a strategy for ending his 14-year marriage to Wendi Deng Murdoch as quickly and quietly as possible, the experts said.

"While she might try to get more money somehow, and he might be willing to give it to her because he's got so much money, it seems to me she's bound by all those agreements," said John Vassallo, who has represented rock star Mick Jagger and movie star Harvey Keitel in divorce proceedings.

Ira Garr, representing Rupert Murdoch, was referred to the case through a lawyer at News Corp, the Murdoch media empire, the person with knowledge of the divorce filing said. He may have been hired because of a reputation for settling divorces quietly and because he is friendly with Pamela Sloan, the lawyer representing Wendi Deng, the person said.

Among his previous divorce clients were businessman Donald Trump's former wife Ivana Trump and federal judge Kimba Wood.

Sloan's firm, Aronson Mayefsky & Sloan, helped represent actress Katie Holmes in her divorce from actor Tom Cruise. She is also known for achieving high-profile divorces with a minimum of public fuss, according to other New York divorce lawyers.

"Pam is not somebody to call up the New York Post," Vassallo said in reference to the Murdoch-owned tabloid known for its gossip column and screaming headlines.


While New York law almost guarantees a court will grant a divorce, the couple could still fight about finances, who gets their New York apartment and over their two children, Grace, 11, and Chloe, 9, including custody and child support.

Deng has yet to make any kind of public response to her husband's filing. Steven Rubenstein, a spokesman for Murdoch, declined to comment on whether the split could be resolved amicably.

Financial matters are likely to be governed by the agreements the couple signed. "New York is very favorable toward enforcing pre-nups," said William Zabel, an expert on such agreements.

In the Murdochs' case, they signed a pre-nuptial agreement in 1999, in which Sloan represented Wendi Murdoch, and they signed two post-nuptial agreements in 2002 and 2004, the person with knowledge of the case said.

Some divorce lawyers said that if the couple have not agreed on a proposed settlement, there is always the prospect of a public battle, if not one in the courtroom.

There is the possibility that "one wants something the other doesn't want to give," said Miami lawyer Jason Marks, who has represented celebrity clients including baseball player Alex Rodriguez.


The two girls have stakes in the family trust that holds the Murdochs' share of News Corp, but they do not have voting rights, unlike Rupert Murdoch's four grown children from his first two marriages.


The family trust owned 38.4 percent of the voting stock in News Corp as of April 30. Rupert Murdoch owns an additional 1 percent in voting shares. A source familiar with the matter said that Deng does not own News Corp stock on her own or have any voting rights.


In New York, claiming irretrievable breakdown for more than six months is an easy path to an uncontested divorce. Until the law was changed in October 2010, the state only allowed divorce by claiming fault against the other spouse, such as cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery or abandonment.


If the case proceeds without a settlement, it will be assigned at random to one of the matrimonial judges in New York state court in Manhattan. A preliminary conference will be scheduled several weeks after the judge is assigned.


If the case is not resolved before then, the Murdochs will be required to appear in court with their lawyers.


Daniel Jaffe, who represented Rupert Murdoch's second wife, Anna, when they split up after more than 30 years of marriage, said he hoped the divorce would be done "as amicably as the last divorce and settlement was done."


Jaffe said that despite the absence of a pre-nuptial agreement, the whole thing was done in less than a year.


"We finished that divorce in 10 to 11 months," said Jaffe, who is based in Beverly Hills, California. "We had no court appearances. Everything was disclosed amicably."


(Reporting By Karen Freifeld; Editing by Eddie Evans, Martin Howell and Peter Cooney)


Fans rally for Bolshoi dancer fired in acid attack aftermath

More than a hundred Russian ballet fans rallied in Moscow on Saturday in support of a top dancer who says he is being chased out of the Bolshoi Theatre due to disputes in the wake of an acid attack on its artistic director earlier this year.

The attack on Sergei Filin in January stunned Russians and exposed the bitter rivalries and behind-the-scenes power struggles at the theatre, a symbol of Russian culture since the 18th century.

Bolshoi dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko has confessed to plotting the attack on Filin, which left him with severe burns to his eyes and face, but both Filin and Bolshoi director Anatoly Iksanov have said they think others were involved.


Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who has been told to leave at the end of June, had clashed with Iksanov even before the attack, but their relationship soured sharply after Iksanov said the 39-year-old dancer might have acted as an instigator.

This month Tsiskaridze said he was being "hounded" out of the theatre.

"There is no dancer in Russia like Kolya!" said Larissa Pukhalskaya, 45. She said she had fallen in love with ballet after watching Tsiskaridze on television five years ago.

Supporters say the rivalries in the theatre stem from a clash between traditions who want to defend centuries of tradition and innovators such as Filin.

Tsiskaridze was one of the loudest critics of a multi-million dollar renovation of the theatre that ended last year.

"No one outside of Russia could imagine the importance ballet holds for us. It's the one symbol of culture we have left from the Soviet Union, even the Russian Empire," said Olesya Nazarova, 54, who said she had danced ballet as a young girl.

"And now everyone managing the theatre wants to ruin this great tradition," she said within sight of the columned Classical building.

Protesters were signing a petition to the Culture Ministry asking for Tsiskaridze's contract to be extended.

The Bolshoi has seen its fair share of scandal recently. Its ballet troupe has had five artistic directors since 1995, and a candidate for the post quit in 2011 after pornographic images of him were posted on the Internet.

The theatre has said Tsiskaridze's contract will not be renewed when it expires at the end of June, but declined to give a reason.

Filin, who has been receiving medical treatment in Germany, has vowed to return to work as soon as possible.

(Reporting By Thomas Grove; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Kim Kardashian gives birth to baby girl: reports

Reality television star Kim Kardashian gave birth to a girl fathered by rapper Kanye West, celebrity magazines People and Us Weekly reported Saturday.


Each magazine posted a story on its website citing an unnamed source in confirming the birth of the daughter to the celebrity couple.


Representatives for Kardashian and West could not immediately be reached for comment.

People magazine said Kardashian, 32, gave birth on Saturday ahead of schedule, with the baby reportedly due in early July.

Kardashian stars with her sisters in the reality show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." She has a clothing line and several product endorsements and was the most-searched person on the Yahoo! in 2012.

Grammy-winning rap star Kanye West and Kardashian began dating in April 2012.

Two months ago Kardashian and her second husband, Kris Humphries of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, announced they had reached a divorce settlement. They had split 72 days after their August 2011 wedding.

Humphries had first sought an annulment, alleging that Kardashian, who cited irreconcilable difference when filing for divorce, had no intention of keeping to the marriage, which was filmed as part of her reality show.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bill Trott)

Black Sabbath top British album chart again: after 43 years

The British rock band Black Sabbath's album "13!" has given them a first British Number One album in nearly 43 years, a record interval between chart-toppers, the Official Charts Company said on Sunday.

Black Sabbath were last at the top of the UK chart with their second album, "Paranoid".


"I'm in shock!" Black Sabbath front man Ozzy Osbourne told the Official Charts Company. "The success of this album has blown me off my feet. We've never had a record climb the charts so fast."

The band saw off competition from Liam Gallagher's band Beady Eye, in second place with "BE".

In the singles chart, American R&B singer Robin Thicke made it three weeks on top with "Blurred Lines".

The song, featuring rapper TI and Pharrell Williams, has sold over 580,000 copies, making it the fifth-best selling single of 2013.

"La La La" by the British rapper Naughty Boy, featuring singer Sam Smith, remained in the number two spot.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Election system needs an overhaul, but it's not that easy

Voters in Florida were still waiting to cast their ballots more than six hours after polls closed on Election Day, registered voters in Ohio were told they were not on voter rolls and new voter ID laws in Pennsylvania led to confusion at voting places.

Election Day problems have become commonplace in the United States in recent general elections. But a comment by President Barack Obama offered a glimmer of hope that problems that have dogged voting for years might finally be addressed.


In his election victory speech, made while some people still waited in line to cast ballots in Florida six hours after polls closed, Obama took a moment to point out that he was aware of problems with the electoral system.

"I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time, or waited in line for a very long time," Obama said in Chicago. "By the way, we have to fix that."

That heartened supporters of election reform, who have called for streamlining election laws, updating antiquated registration systems and even expanding early voting to ease Election Day crowding at the polls.

But state governments are fiercely protective of their control over election law and are resistant to any sort of national system. Republicans and Democrats have also balked at a national voter registration system.

A backlash against new election laws like strict voter IDs passed by dozens of states this year may offer a possibility for change.

"I've generally been pessimistic, but I'm a bit more optimistic now that it got mentioned in the president's acceptance speech - at least that it will be a priority of the administration," said Rick Hasen, the author of "Voting Wars" and a law professor at the University of California at Irvine.


Change could start with an expansion of early voting and possibly vote-by-mail to alleviate overcrowding at the polls, Hasen said.

Early voting was the subject of several lawsuits this year after the Republican-led legislatures of states like Florida and Ohio passed laws cutting back on the number of early voting days in order to cut back on fraudulent voting.

Democrats and voting rights groups said there were few cases of fraud and argued the new laws unfairly targeted Democrats and specifically minorities who disproportionately voted early. The courts threw out some of the changes. But in the end, Florida cut early voting to eight days from 14 and Ohio got rid of voting on all weekends but one.

The result of reduced early voting was long lines that stretched around blocks and lasted for hours. Lines stretched to six and seven hours in Florida even during early voting. Lengthy waits were also reported in the swing states of Ohio and Virginia as well as New Jersey and New York, which had been hit hard by superstorm Sandy.

The delays were exacerbated by problems with registration at some polls, while other voting stations ran out of ballots or had malfunctioning machines. Lengthy ballots up to 12 pages long added to the problems and nearly 89,000 complaints were registered to the Election Protection hot line.

In some states, like Pennsylvania and Ohio, confusion over new voter ID laws or questions over registration added to delays as voters were held up or told to vote via provisional ballots.

The Election Day problems "prove that our system of elections is in need of repair," Eric Marshall and Marcia Johnson-Blanco, leaders of the non-partisan Election Protection coalition of more than 100 organizations said in a statement after voting ended late on Tuesday.


Election Protection urged the government to adopt a new voter registration system that uses modern technology and moves with voters as they do.


"States need to invest more in their elections and they need to learn from the past and prepare for the future," the statement by Marshall and Johnson-Blanco said. "Our hope is that in 2016, the Election Protection program will no longer be necessary because all eligible voters will be able to exercise their right free of obstacles."


(Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney)


UPDATE 2-Power outages hit Mexico City after quake in country's centre

Power outages hit the Mexican capital of Mexico City on Sunday after an earthquake struck the centre of the country, and officials said there was no other damage reported.

Some restaurants and residential buildings in the capital were evacuated as a precautionary measure, they said.

Buildings shuddered in the city, a Reuters witness said.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) downgraded its initial measurement of the quake to magnitude 5.8 from 6.0.

No one at state oil company Pemex was immediately available to comment but the group has no major installations near the epicentre of the quake, 14 miles (22 km) west of Jolalpan in southwest Mexico, 76 miles (122 km) south of Mexico City.


Pratt & Whitney says engine orders to rise 'substantially'

Pratt & Whitney President David Hess said on Sunday he expects its order book for commercial aircraft engines to rise "substantially" during the Paris air show, which begins Monday.


"Our backlog is going to go up at this show substantially," Hess said in an interview with Reuters. The order book stands at 3,500 engines currently, with about 2,500 firm orders.

The bulk of the orders are for the Airbus A320neo family aircraft, where Pratt competes with CFM International's LEAP engine, which is standard on the Boeing 737MAX.


The orders also include Bombardier's CSeries jet, due to make its first flight during the final week of June, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, Russia's Irkut MC-21 narrowbody jet and Embraer jets.

FEATURE-From the ashes of Webvan, Amazon builds a grocery business

The online grocery start-up Webvan may have been the single most expensive flame-out of the dot-com era, blowing through more than $800 million in venture capital and IPO proceeds in just over three years before shutting its doors in 2001.

Twelve years later, though, Webvan is rising from the dead - in the form of an online grocery business called AmazonFresh.


Four key Inc executives - Doug Herrington, Peter Ham, Mick Mountz and Mark Mastandrea - are former Webvan officials who have spent years analyzing and fixing the problems that led to the start-up's demise.

Kiva Systems, the robotics company that Amazon bought last year for $775 million in one of its largest-ever acquisitions, was built on ideas and technologies originally developed at Webvan and is a key part of the AmazonFresh strategy.

Even Webvan's old Web address,, is now part of the Amazon empire.

"We had a lot of Webvan DNA in the room and we drew on that experience a lot," said Tom Furphy, who helped start AmazonFresh with Herrington and Ham before leaving to become a venture capitalist. "That was a good formula for building the business responsibly."

Amazon declined to comment for this story, or make any AmazonFresh executives available for interviews.

Former Amazon and Webvan officials say Amazon drew three big lessons from the Webvan debacle: expand slowly, limit delivery to areas with a high concentration of potential customers, and focus relentlessly on warehouse efficiency.

The opportunity for Amazon is huge. The grocery business in the United States generated $568 billion in retail sales last year, with online accounting for less than 1 percent, and it's among the last major retail sectors that the online giant has yet to tackle.

But the risks are large as well. Groceries are a notoriously low-margin business, and the aggressive expansion of discounters like Walmart has made the business even more cutthroat than it was in Webvan's day.

And competition in the online grocery business is heating up. FreshDirect and Peapod have been plugging away for years, while traditional grocery chains like Safeway also do online ordering and delivery. Walmart is testing its own fast delivery service in some markets in the United States now.


AmazonFresh now serves Seattle and Los Angeles, and it plans to launch in the San Francisco Bay Area later this year. If these cities go well, Amazon is eyeing 20 new markets for 2014.

But the big plans belie what has been one of Amazon's most cautious entries into a new business since founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos started selling books online in the 1990s.

The grocery service started in just two Seattle neighborhoods, Medina and Mercer Island, in 2007, and then slowly spread to other Seattle communities over the next five years. It didn't expand beyond Seattle until June 10 of this year, when it launched in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles roll-out is similarly modest, covering only a few zip codes initially. "We know customers value this service but the economics remain challenging," an Amazon spokeswoman said when describing the L.A. launch.


Webvan - which ironically was also the brainchild of a book-seller, Louis Borders - expanded to nine major metro areas just 18 months after it began serving the San Francisco Bay Area, former executives recall. (Borders, co-founder of the now-defunct Borders Books & Music, declined to comment for this story.)


Webvan began its big expansion in Atlanta while the San Francisco service was still "wobbly," recalls Krishna Hegde, Webvan's vice president of deployment and systems engineering.


After the Atlanta launch in April 2000, Hegde said he recommended that the company slow down. But Mark Zaleski, president of operations, argued the company should press on because of promises made to Wall Street investors, Hegde said. Zaleski could be not be reached for comment.


Webvan "committed the cardinal sin of retail, which is to expand into a new territory - in our case several territories - before we had demonstrated success in the first market," said Mike Moritz, a Webvan board member and partner at Sequoia Capital, one of the company's venture capital backers. "In fact, we were busy demonstrating failure in the Bay Area market while we expanded into other regions."





Webvan not only launched in many cities, it also offered service across entire metro areas. That resulted in the company's delivery trucks making many trips where they only dropped off a few orders.


"The biggest failure of Webvan was delivery density," said Gary Dahl, vice president of distribution at Webvan from 1997 to 2001. In the Bay Area, he said, Webvan made money delivering in San Francisco and Oakland, but lost a lot of money delivering in suburbs such as Orinda and Moraga.


"Mean travel time between delivery stops is the key to success in the home delivery business," Dahl explained. "Travel one block in San Francisco and you have passed 200 people, travel one block in Moraga and you have passed about six people."


AmazonFresh has tackled this problem by only delivering to densely populated areas of Seattle, and it's taking the same approach in LA, according to Keith Anderson, an executive at consulting firm RetailNet Group.


"If you drive into certain neighborhoods in Seattle you will see a lot of front doors with AmazonFresh totes," he said. "That's because Amazon expanded gradually into specific neighborhoods and tried to deliver to lots of homes in those specific areas."


FreshDirect covers more than 80 percent of the New York metro area, but it took the company about a decade to expand its delivery network this wide. Last year, FreshDirect launched in Philadelphia.





Webvan also suffered severely from weaknesses in the design and technology of its giant warehouses. At its first facility, there was a single conveyor belt that snaked about five miles through the building bringing items to workers, who would then pick and pack the products into totes, Webvan Chief Technology Officer Peter Relan said.


When the conveyor belt broke, the operation would grind to a halt, he recalled.


Mick Mountz, an MIT-trained Webvan executive, oversaw the picking and packing process, along with Mark Mastandrea, and together they tried out lots of technology to make the warehouse run more efficiently, according to Relan.


For each $100 bag of groceries, it cost Webvan about $30 to pick and pack; the company had to get that down to $10 to make the process economically viable.


Mountz came up with a solution based on multiple robots that would bring products from different parts of the warehouse to human workers for picking and packing. Unlike a conveyor belt, if a robot broke down it could be fixed while the other robots continued their work.


However, Webvan had spent so much on its original warehouse - about $100 million, according to Relan - that the company was loath to completely change the process in favor of robots.


After Webvan went bust in 2001, Mountz founded Kiva Systems, which designed and built robots that now zip around the warehouses of retailers including Staples Inc, Walgreen Co and Gap Inc.


Amazon bought Kiva in 2012 for $775 million. Mountz is still running Kiva, while Mastandrea became director of delivery experience at AmazonFresh in March.


"When there are a large number of products and the shapes and sizes vary, as they do in grocery, you still need a human at the end to do the picking and packing," said Ajay Agarwal of Bain Capital Ventures, which was an early investor in Kiva. "The Kiva System is the best solution out there for that combination of warehouse technology and human workers."


Amazon has one other thing Webvan never had: a huge, existing customer base. While Webvan had planned to expand into delivery of other goods once it had developed a base of grocery customers, Amazon is going the other way, and can help defray the cost of delivering groceries by delivering books or electronics at the same time.


There are other advantages that have accrued over time. The spread of cloud computing services - pioneered by Amazon's Web Services business - makes it cheaper to run online businesses, while consumers are more comfortable buying online through faster Internet connections.


Online shoppers who type "" into an Internet browser today will find a website selling more than 45,000 non-perishable grocery items. In the top right-hand corner, it says Webvan is "part of the family" and consumers can use their existing Amazon accounts to buy.


"Amazon purchased the name a couple of years ago," Dahl said. "Maybe they will revive it if sales are slow in the Bay Area."


Boeing's Conner says 787 battery fix did not slow other programs

Boeing's extraordinary effort to solve battery problems that hit the high-tech 787 Dreamliner early this year did not disrupt progress on other aircraft programs, which remain on schedule.


"It didn't slow down development," despite doing three years of work in three months to fix the problem of overheating batteries on the 787, said Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner, speaking at a news briefing ahead of the start of the Paris air show which opens on Monday.


Rockwood agrees to sell CeramTec to Cinven for 1.49 bln eur

Rockwood Holdings said on Sunday it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell CeramTec, its Germany-based advanced ceramics business, to private equity firm Cinven for 1.49 billion euros.


A statement issued in Frankfurt said Cinven had obtained fully committed financing for the transaction, which is expected to close in the third quarter of this year following regulatory approvals.

AIRSHOW-BA set to order 10 Boeing 787-10s -newspaper

British Airways is set to confirm an order for about 10 of the "stretched" version of Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner planes in a deal worth about $2.5 billion at this week's Paris Air Show, The Sunday Times newspaper reported without citing sources.


BA's parent company, International Airlines Group, said in April that it planned to convert 18 existing Boeing 787 options into firm orders for British Airways to replace some Boeing 747-400 aircraft between 2017 and 2021.


Boeing is set to launch the larger version of its 787 Dreamliner family of planes at the air show aimed at meeting demand for long-haul travel within Asia and other long-haul routes, sources told Reuters on Thursday.

British Airways declined to comment on the report.

UPDATE 1-Rockwood agrees 1.49 bln euro CeramTec sale to Cinven

Cinven Ltd has agreed to buy CeramTec for 1.49 billion euros ($1.99 billion), beating rival private equity firm BC Partners Ltd in bidding for the Germany-based industrial ceramics unit of U.S. chemicals maker Rockwood Holdings.

A statement issued on Sunday by Rockwood said Cinven had obtained fully committed financing for the deal, which was expected to close in the third quarter of this year once it obtained regulatory approvals.


Reuters reported on June 14 that Cinven was in exclusive talks to buy CeramTec for close to 1.5 billion euros, outbidding BC Partners' bid of just over 1.4 billion.

CeramTec is a leading manufacturer of high performance ceramics for applications in the medical, automotive, industrial and electronic markets.

Its proprietary product portfolio includes hip joint prostheses components, high-speed cutting tools and ballistic ceramics for armour.

"We are keen to support (CeramTec's) growth outside its core European markets, specifically in North America and Asia, both organically and through acquisitions," Bruno Schick, co-head of Cinven's Germany operations, said in a statement from Cinven.

The statement also said it would support CeramTec's ongoing investments and new product initiatives such as LED lightning and semiconductor applications.

In 2012, CeramTec posted revenues of 425 million euros. It employs more than 3,000 people at 18 facilities worldwide.

Earlier this year, Rockwood CEO Seifi Ghasemi described the Princeton, New Jersey-based company's lithium and surface treatment businesses as core and said it would explore a sale of CeramTec in addition to its performance additives business and titanium dioxide business.

After struggling to fetch a good price for the titanium dioxide business, Rockwood bundled it with its performance additive operations in another auction that has attracted several private equity firms including Blackstone Group LP and Apollo Global Management LP, people familiar with the matter said last month.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait up but court ruling spells uncertainty; other mkts fall

Kuwait's bourse rose on Sunday on what traders said was buying by government-linked funds ahead of a politically sensitive court ruling. After the close, the court dissolved parliament and called for new elections, bringing fresh uncertainty to the Gulf state.

Most other regional markets fell in heavy selling, dragged down by escalating geopolitical tensions surrounding Syria and the shaky global environment for emerging markets.


Kuwait's measure climbed 0.3 percent, halting a two-session losing streak. The market is still up 34.1 percent year-to-date, in a rally driven mainly by retail investors, who have been encouraged by a government push on economic development and expected improvement in corporate earnings.

The Constitutional Court threw out opposition challenges to changes to the electoral system which had been decreed by the emir. It is not yet clear whether this will prompt a stronger campaign of opposition street protests, or whether the next parliament will be more or less willing to work with the cabinet to implement stalled economic projects.

"There are many people praising this resolution - but my only reservation is that we don't need any more obstruction in the movement of long-overdue economic development," said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House.

Darwish said the market outlook would depend on whether the previous parliament was reinstated or new elections took place.

But political uncertainty may trigger government buying through the National Portfolio Fund, established to support the market, he added. "I'm sure the government had its hand in the market to lift prices."

An address to the nation by the emir, expected on Sunday evening, may to some extent clarify the political situation.


Elsewhere, most regional markets retreated. Dubai's benchmark lost 2.3 percent, cutting its 2013 gains to 44.6 percent. Abu Dhabi's measure retreated 0.9 percent.

As the Syria crisis intensified, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said he had cut diplomatic ties with Damascus and backed a no-fly zone over Syria. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah cut short a holiday abroad to deal with the issue of Syria, while the United States said it would keep F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles in Jordan at Amman's request.

"The biggest discount to this region by foreigners is political risks, and although generally this risk is misunderstood and overdone, the situation in Syria is a real threat," said Amer Khan, fund manager at Shuaa Asset Management in Dubai.

The instability in Syria could potentially affect the Suez Canal and therefore oil supplies, he added.


In Doha, the index shed 0.6 percent, its second decline from Wednesday's 57-month high.

The United Arab Emirates and Qatar surged last Wednesday after an announcement by index compiler MSCI that it would upgrade the two countries to emerging market status. But since the markets had already gained sharply this year, the positive impact of the news has been short-lived.

Traders said Qatar was not, however, significantly affected by news that the central bank had tightened its curbs on how much banks could invest in stocks and bonds, lowering the cap to 25 percent of their capital and reserves.


The rules may not have much immediate effect in forcing banks to sell securities because not all banks have reached the limits, and since the time frame for banks to comply is not yet clear.


Egypt's main benchmark fell 1.0 percent, extending 2013 losses to 15.7 percent.


Trading volumes fell to 30 million shares, a three-week low, as investors maintained a risk-averse attitude towards a market with huge economic and political risks.


Saudi Arabia's bourse climbed 0.5 percent, reversing some of its losses from the previous session, when it plunged 4.3 percent in response to the Syria crisis.







* The index gained 0.5 percent to 7,330 points.





* The index dropped 2.3 percent to 2,345 points.





* The index fell 0.9 percent to 3,630 points.





* The index slipped 0.6 percent to 9,424 points.





* The index fell 1.0 percent to 4,604 points.





* The index gained 0.3 percent to 7,955 points.




* The index declined 1.1 percent to 6,484 points.





* The index was flat at 1,199 points.


RPT-Wall St Week Ahead: Investors will look to Fed to ease volatility

Stock investors eager to hear from the Federal Reserve about its plans for continuing economic stimulus may get some soothing words from the U.S. central bank this week.

The Fed is unlikely to tip its hand about when it might begin to scale back its bond-buying program, but policymakers still may be inclined to try to tamp down recent volatility in financial markets with some mention of the issue.

The rally in stocks stumbled and Treasury bond yields rose to 14-month highs following Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments that the Fed may decide to begin scaling back its quantitative easing in the next few policy meetings if the economy improves.


As part of its quantitative easing policy, adopted more than four years ago, the Fed has been buying Treasury and other bonds each month to keep interest rates low and promote growth.

Interpreting Bernanke's words and recent signs about the economy has roiled markets since then. The Dow industrials climbed 200 points in eight of the 17 sessions since Bernanke's comments, and its daily average swing has been 191.5 points.

Stocks ended a third negative week in four last week. The Dow fell 1.2 percent, the S&P 500 slid 1 percent and the Nasdaq lost 1.3 percent.

"What (Bernanke) has done is create what I call an early summer market storm, not a huge one but enough to cause people to become a little nervous," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

This week might offer a bit more clarity, he said, but probably not the details many investors are hoping for. Still, analysts said, the Fed may want to say something to remove some of the markets' anxiety.

The markets have priced in a sea change and seem to think that rates are going up soon, said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco. But "I think the Fed is not going to want that to be the market's impression."

The news may be that any change is going to be gradual, he added.

Comments from Fed policymakers in recent weeks have added fuel to the guessing game. Views have ranged from favoring continuing the stimulus policies for some time to starting the process of winding down quantitative easing in the near term.

But Bernanke's views hold the most weight, so investors will likely be on edge awaiting his comments. The Fed chairman is due to give a news conference at 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT) on Wednesday shortly after the Fed's policy committee ends a two-day meeting and issues a statement.


Although earnings have taken a back seat to Fed talk, forecasts for second-quarter profits have come down in recent weeks. Growth is forecast at 3.2 percent, down from an April 1 forecast of 6.1 percent, and negative preannouncements have outnumbered positive ones by a ratio of 6.9 to 1, according to Thomson Reuters data. That would be the most negative ratio since at least 1996.


Investors worry speculation about the Fed's course alone may have been enough to spark the long-feared pullback in stocks, which have rallied for most of this year. Even with recent losses, the S&P 500 is up 15 percent for the year to date.

The benchmark index is down 2.5 percent since May 21, but there have been short-lived rallies in that period.


Also the gains in bond yields since Bernanke's comments caused investors to rotate out of high-yielding dividend stocks. Dividend stocks had been among the market's leaders as investors favored those shares over fixed-income securities in a low interest-rate environment.


The Dow shot up 200 points and scored its best day since Jan. 2 after the U.S. employment report for May showed 175,000 jobs were created, a positive sign but not strong enough for the Fed to abandon stimulus efforts to aid the economy.


"As we see mixed signals in terms of economic growth from across the globe, a marginal tapering can have significant effects," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.


"What would happen if the tapering is too soon, I think, is that it puts risk into financial assets, both equities and bonds."


Among this week's economic reports, the Consumer Price Report for May is due on Tuesday along with data on housing starts.



Wall Street Week Ahead moves every Sunday. Comments or questions on this one can be sent to caroline.valetkevitch(at)






AIRSHOW-Boeing to launch 787-10 with up to 100 orders -sources

U.S. planemaker Boeing will launch a new and larger version of its lightweight 787 Dreamliner at this week's Paris Airshow with up to 100 orders worth just under $30 billion, industry sources said on Sunday.


The latest addition to Boeing's fleet, the 323-seat 787-10, is designed partly for fast-growing routes within Asia and will intensify a contest with Europe's Airbus for sales of the latest generation of efficient, carbon-composite jetliner.


Boeing declined comment.

Saudi Aramco-Dow JV raises funding for $19 bln project -sources

Sadara Chemical Co, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical , has signed a fundraising package for the $19.3 billion petrochemical complex it is building in the east of the kingdom, three banking sources said on Sunday.

The financing package totals around $12.5 billion and consists of loans from banks, export credit agencies and the state-owned Public Investment Fund, as well as proceeds from an Islamic bond issue. The remaining cost will be met by the two partners.

The facility, located at Jubail Industrial City in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, will be the world's largest chemical complex ever built in a single phase. It will produce more than 3 million tonnes of petrochemicals each year when completed in 2016.


Sadara was not immediately available for comment. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as the matter has not been made public.

The split between the different portions of the facility were changed from an original outline released in May 2012 after the success of the sukuk, which was completed at the start of April, two of the bankers said.

Sadara raised 7.5 billion riyals ($2 billion) from the local currency Islamic bond, having increased the deal size from 5.25 billion riyals on strong demand from investors.

Also included is a $4.975 billion direct loan from the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Signed in September, it was the largest ever loan from the institution.

AIRSHOW-GenCorp's Aerojet: Rocketdyne deal to save U.S. $1 bln

Aerojet Rocketdyne, the new company formed after GenCorp Inc's acquisition of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, on Sunday said it has promised the U.S. government $1 billion in savings over the next decade as a result of the deal, with an additional $2 billion in savings possible in later phases of the merger.


Aerojet Rocketdyne President Warren Boley told Reuters in an interview that the new company, a wholly owned unit of GenCorp, expected to double its revenues over the next five years from a current combined estimate of $1.7 billion.

He said the company was also looking at other business opportunities, and would soon sign a memorandum of understanding on a "significant strategic relationship" with Israel Military Industries that could evolve into a joint venture in the future.


AIRSHOW-Jet engine makers CFM, Pratt battle over performance

Engine makers for next-generation Airbus and Boeing narrow-body jets stepped up their war of words on Sunday, claiming their new power plants will burn less fuel, last longer without maintenance and create less noise than the rival.

CFM International, the engine maker for about three-quarters of the orders for next-generation Airbus and Boeing narrow-body jets, said its LEAP engine will deliver 15 percent lower fuel burn and 2-3 percent lower operating costs compared with the rival geared turbofan engine by Pratt & Whitney.


Pratt & Whitney hit back saying its engine has undergone testing on aircraft, giving its claims of 15 percent lower fuel burn much more credibility. CFM has tested parts but not a full engine.

"We are within 10ths of a percent of that figure," Robert Saia, vice president of the next-generation product family at Pratt & Whitney, said in an interview with Reuters.

Pratt also noted that it has won more than half of the orders for new engines on the A320neo family, including 75 percent of A321 orders, and vowed to maintain the lead after orders are tallied at the Paris Air Show which begins on Monday.

CFM dominates orders for the smaller A319 jet.

REFILE-Faster than speeding bullet, "Man of Steel" wins box office race

"Man of Steel," the big-budget reboot of the Superman franchise, leaped over the apocalyptic buddy comedy "This is the End," collecting a muscular $113.1 million to lead the domestic box office with the year's second-largest opening weekend and the biggest June opening ever.

"This is the End," written by star Seth Rogen and his childhood friend Evan Goldberg, collected $20.5 million at theaters in the domestic market comprised of the United States and Canada, according to studio estimates collected by Reuters.

The apocalyptic comedy depicting the end of the world stars more than a dozen well-known Hollywood actors including James Franco, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Emma Watson.


In third place, the comedy heist caper "Now You See Me" continued its stronger-than-expected showing with ticket sales of $10.3 million, bringing its three-week total to $80 million.

"The Purge," made for $3 million by the producer of the low-budget "Paranormal Activity" series, finished fifth with $8.2 million, behind "Fast & Furious 6," which took in $9.4 million in its fourth week in release.

Starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey, "The Purge" is set in 2022 when the U.S. government reduces crime by allowing almost all crime to go unpunished during a 12-hour "purge" period.

"Man of Steel" was released by Warner Bros., Sony/Columbia released "This is the End," "The Purge" and "Fast & Furious 6" were distributed by Universal and Lionsgate/Summit distributed "Now You See Me."

The top films at the North American box office

Following are the top 10 movies at North American box offices for the three-day weekend starting June 14, led by "Man of Steel," according to studio estimates compiled by Reuters. 1 (*) Man of Steel.......................... $113.1 million 2 (*) This is the End........................$ 20.5 million 3 (3) Now You See Me.........................$ 10.3 million 4 (2) Fast and Furious 6.....................$ 9.4 million 5 (1) The Purge .............................$ 8.2 million 6 (4) The Internship.........................$ 7.0 million 7 (5) Epic...................................$ 6.0 million 8 (6) Star Trek Into Darkness................$ 5.7 million 9 (7) After Earth............................$ 3.6 million 10 (9) Iron Man 3.............................$ 2.9 million



(*) = new release CUMULATIVE TOTALS: Iron Man 3.................................$ 399.6 million Fast & Furious 6...........................$ 219.6 million Star Trek Into Darkness....................$ 210.5 million Man of Steel...............................$ 125.1 million Epic.......................................$ 95.5 million Now You See Me.............................$ 80.0 million After Earth................................$ 54.2 million The Purge..................................$ 51.8 million This is the End............................$ 32.8 million The Internship.............................$ 31.0 million "Man of Steel" was distributed by Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc. "The Purge" and "Fast & Furious 6" were distributed by Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp. "This is the End" and "After Earth" was released by Sony Corp's movie studio. "Iron Man 3" was released by Walt Disney Co. "Star Trek Into Darkness" was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. "The Internship" and "Epic" were released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp. "Now You See Me" was released by Summit Entertainment, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment.

AIRSHOW-UPDATE 1-Boeing to launch 787-10 with $30 bln order haul

U.S. planemaker Boeing will launch a larger version of its lightweight 787 Dreamliner this week with up to 100 orders worth just under $30 billion, industry sources said on Sunday.


The latest addition to Boeing's fleet, the 323-seat 787-10, is partly designed to serve fast-growing routes within Asia and sharpens a fight with Europe's Airbus for sales of the latest generation of efficient, carbon-composite jets.

The decision to go ahead and build a new version, backed by up to 100 orders spread between five or six launch customers, is expected to be announced on Tuesday at the Paris Airshow. Some orders may be converted from existing demand for smaller jets.

Boeing declined comment.

"We have no comment but we are having discussions with our customers about the potential for the 787-10X," a Boeing spokesman said, referring to the working name given to the project while Boeing targeted potential customers.

The 787-10 Dreamliner -- a "stretched" version of an existing model -- would compete in part with Airbus's next-generation A350, which carried out its maiden flight on Friday.

Boasting fuel savings because of a lightweight structure, it is also expected to challenge a revival in sales of the traditional metallic Airbus A330, which has been snapped up by many airlines during three years of 787 delivery delays.

But the European company insists the reliability and availability of its most popular long-haul jet will remain a selling point for years, as well as its cheaper price.

The 787-10 is expected to have an official price tag of around $280-290 million per plane, $40 million or so more than other 787s, and is due to enter service in 2018-19.

In practice, aircraft are usually sold at steep discounts.

Singapore Airlines has already agreed to buy 30 jets if the 787-10 is launched. Others widely linked to the project include United Airlines, British Airways and leasing company, Air Lease Corp.

After a bitter market share battle for smaller planes, rivalries over high-margin big jets look set to dominate the June 17-23 air show where demand from emerging-market airlines and leasing companies is expected to fuel hundreds of orders.