'Star Trek' creator, "Scotty" bound for space

The remains of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of sci-fi fantasy television series "Star Trek," will head for the final frontier next year. Scotty will be going along with him.

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Rodenberry's cremated remains, along with those of his wife, Majel, and actor James Doohan, who played starship engineer Scotty in the original 1960s "Star Trek" series, will be launched into deep space in November 2014 by the memorial spaceflight company Celestis.

 

They will be part of a cargo that will include other cremated remains, written messages and samples of DNA in capsules sent by the general public, Celestis said on Thursday.

"What's very cool about this is that it's science fiction meeting reality," Celestis spokeswoman Pazia Schonfeld said.

The messages and remains will be placed on a spacecraft called a solar sail, which is powered by sunlight and made to withstand high temperatures, and headed for orbit around the sun, Celestis said.

The solar sail's journey will be captured by cameras on board the craft and streamed live online.

The flight will not be the first time the remains of Roddenberry, who died in October 1991 at age 70, and Doohan, who was 85 when he died in 2005, have been in space.

Roddenberry was part of Celestis' inaugural flight in 1997, when his remains were taken on a trip into space before returning to Earth. An urn containing some of Doohan's remains were sent into space in 2012.

Members of the public are invited to join Roddenberry and Doohan on Celestis' Sunjammer Voyager Mission, submitting names for free and samples of writing or messages at a price. Sending cremated remains into deep space starts at $12,500.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bill Trott)

Doctors spent 40 minutes trying to revive 'Sopranos' star Gandolfini

Doctors at a Rome hospital battled for 40 minutes to try to save the life of James Gandolfini, best known for his Emmy-winning role as a mob boss in the TV series "The Sopranos," before pronouncing him dead, the emergency room chief said on Thursday.

Gandolfini, 51, whose performance as Tony Soprano made him a household name and help usher in a new era of American television drama, was vacationing in Rome and had been scheduled to attend the closing of the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily on Saturday.

 

He was taken from his Rome hotel to the city's Umberto I hospital late on Wednesday, according to a hospital spokesperson.

The actor's 13-year-old son, Michael, had found him collapsed in the bathroom of his Rome hotel room, Gandolfini's manager, Mark Armstrong, said in an email.

"The resuscitation maneuvers, including heart massage, etc., continued for 40 minutes and then, seeing no electric activity from the heart, this was interrupted and we declared James dead," Claudio Modini, the emergency room chief, told Reuters.

"The patient was considered dead on arrival, and for that reason an autopsy has been requested to be carried out by a pathologist, as is normal procedure in our country."

The autopsy has been scheduled for Friday morning.

Since "The Sopranos" ended its six-season run in June 2007, Gandolfini appeared in a number of big-screen roles, including the crime drama "Killing Them Softly" and "Zero Dark Thirty," a film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow, who directed Gandolfini in the film, said she was devastated by the news of his death.

"James was such an enormous talent, and an even greater spirit. I will be forever grateful for the privilege of working with him, and shall cherish his memories always," she said in a statement.

At the time of his death, Gandolfini had been working on an upcoming HBO series, "Criminal Justice," and had two motion pictures due out next year

Actress Edie Falco, who played Tony Soprano's long-suffering wife, Carmela, in "The Sopranos," said her co-star was a man of "tremendous depth and sensitivity."

"I consider myself very lucky to have spent 10 years as his close colleague," she said.

Apart from Michael, his son with his first wife whom he divorced in 2002, Gandolfini is survived by wife, Deborah Lin, a model he married in 2008, and baby daughter Liliana, born last year.

ROLE TOOK ITS TOLL

Gandolfini gained sudden fame after years toiling as a character actor and garnered widespread respect from fellow actors.

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Brad Pitt, who appeared in three films with Gandolfini, called him "a ferocious actor" and said he was "gutted by this loss."

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In the HBO series, the burly, physically imposing Gandolfini created a gangster different from any previously seen in American television or film.

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He was capable of killing enemies with his own hands but was prone to panic attacks. He loved his wife and was a doting father, but he carried on a string of affairs.

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He regularly saw a therapist, portrayed by Lorraine Bracco, to work out his anxiety problems and issues with his mother. The vulnerable side of Tony Soprano made his detestable character deeply likable.

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By the start of the show's final season, Gandolfini suggested he was ready to move on to more gentle roles.

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"I'm too tired to be a tough guy or any of that stuff anymore," he said. "We pretty much used all that up in this show."

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"The Sopranos" cast was also known for its hard-partying ways off set, and Falco, who has worked to stay sober since the early 1990s, confessed in a 2007 interview with New York magazine that hanging out with the cast was "too dangerous."

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In 2002, a representative for Gandolfini confirmed to the New York Daily News and other media organizations that Gandolfini had struggled in the past with substance abuse problems, a revelation that first surfaced in connection with a contentious divorce battle with his first wife, Marcy Wudarski.

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'HUMBLE, LOYAL, COMPLICATED'

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Gandolfini began his career as a stage actor in New York and earned a Tony nomination for his role in the original 2009 Broadway cast of the dark comedy "God of Carnage."

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The actor, who was raised in a working-class family, shared Tony Soprano's Italian-American heritage and New Jersey roots. He was known for his reserved demeanor off-camera and generally shied away from publicity.

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"The Sopranos" earned Gandolfini three Emmy Awards as best lead actor in a drama series and was considered by many critics the finest drama to have aired on U.S. television.

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The series was a major factor in establishing HBO, a pay-cable network once focused on presentations of feature films, as a powerhouse of original dramatic television and in shifting the kind of sophisticated storytelling once reserved for the big screen to TV.

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His role paved the way for other popular prime-time shows built around profoundly flawed characters and anti-heroes, from "Dexter" and "Breaking Bad" to "Mad Men" and "Nurse Jackie."

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Script writer Steve Zaillian, who worked with the actor before and after "The Sopranos," said he had always been the same man.

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"A real man, like they don't make anymore. Honest, humble, loyal, complicated, as grateful for his success as he was unaffected by it, as respectful as he was respected, as generous as he was gifted. He was big, but even bigger-hearted," he said.

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Gandolfini is due to appear on the big screen next year, playing the love interest of comic actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the film "Enough Said." He also has a role in the upcoming New York crime drama, "Animal Rescue."

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Both are set for U.S. release by News Corp-owned studio Fox Searchlight.

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(Additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Writing by Steve Scherer and Patricia Reaney; Editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney)

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Jennifer Lopez's musical career honored with Walk of Fame star

In front of a screaming crowd of fans, singer and actress Jennifer Lopez was honored for her musical accomplishments on Thursday when she received the 2,500th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Lopez, a New York City-native born to Puerto Rican parents, gave an emotional speech to the crowd gathered to see her receive the terrazzo and brass star along Hollywood Boulevard, saying she was overwhelmed.

 

"This all feels, I don't know, kind of surreal, but so real. It's awesome," Lopez said, fighting back tears as she received her star in front of the W Hotel in Hollywood.

Lopez, 43, who began her career acting in the 1986 film "My Little Girl" and gained recognition for her portrayal of late singer Selena in the 1997 biopic "Selena," has built a multi-faceted career as an actress, singer, fashion designer and reality television judge on Fox's talent show "American Idol."

Lopez has sold more than 70 million albums worldwide in a recording career that began in 1999 with the critically acclaimed debut album "On the Six." She is set to release her eighth studio album this fall.

Among those attending the ceremony on Thursday were Lopez' boyfriend, 26-year-old dancer Casper Smart; rapper Pitbull, who has collaborated with Lopez on numerous dance-pop hit songs including "On the Floor"; actress Jane Fonda; and former "American Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe.

Fonda, who starred with Lopez in the film "Monster-In-Law," said that while Lopez's star was for music, "she should have an entire block of stars" for her ambitious career.

(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Bill Trott)

French actor Depardieu banned for drunk driving

French actor Gerard Depardieu was banned from driving for six months on Friday, after he was found to be three times over the alcohol limit when he fell from his scooter last year.

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The 64-year-old star of films such as Green Card and Cyrano de Bergerac was not in the Paris court to hear its decision to suspend his driving license and fine him 4,000 euros ($5,300). Drink-driving can be punishable by up to two years' jail.

 

The flamboyant actor, who owns a vineyard in the Loire valley, injured his elbow but nobody else when he fell from the scooter in the capital in mid-afternoon last November.

With top roles in more than 100 movies, one of the country's best-known actors has made the headlines on many occasions for reasons other than his film career.

The scooter fall came a few months after a car driver filed a suit against Depardieu for assault and battery following an altercation in Paris.

The year before, Depardieu outraged passengers by urinating in the aisle of an Air France flight as it prepared to take off.

Depardieu criticized the left-wing government last year over high taxes and took President Vladimir Putin up on an offer of a Russian passport.

He has appeared in ketchup advertisements in Russia, which has a flat tax rate of 13 percent on income, compared with more than 40 percent in France where the government plans a supertax of 75 percent on incomes above 1 million euros.

Depardieu said his decision to take Russian nationality and plan to open a restaurant in the city of Saransk were not motivated by tax concerns. He is considering shooting a film in Chechnya, where he was seen this year embracing strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Commenting on Friday's court ruling, Depardieu's lawyer, Eric de Caumont, said: "Naturally we are disappointed to the extent that we had sought an acquittal." ($1 = 0.7590 euros)

(Reporting by Marine Pennetier; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

South Korea rejects preliminary casino licenses for Caesars, Universal

South Korea has rejected preliminary casino licenses for two international bidders - a class="mandelbrot_refrag">Caesars Entertainment Corp and Lippo Limited consortium, and Kazuo Okada's Universal Entertainment Corp - in a surprise move that could stall the government's casino development plans.

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The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism told Reuters on Friday that both requests for licenses were rejected. A ministry spokeswoman give no reason for the decision.

 

class="mandelbrot_refrag">South Korea is one of several Asian countries considering building casino resorts to lure high-spending tourists after Singapore's success with two large properties that opened in 2010. Taiwan plans to allow class="mandelbrot_refrag">casinos to set up shop on offshore islands and the Philippines is developing four large casino resorts.

The Caesars-Lippo consortium and Universal had applied to build large integrated resorts in Incheon, an economic zone that the government hopes will attract tourism and investment. Caesars and Lippo announced in January that they were seeking government approval.

The Caesars-Lippo consortium declined to comment on the reason its application was rejected but said it was "surprised and disappointed" and believed it had met the specific requirements.

A local government official with knowledge of the matter said the decision reflected concerns about Caesars' credit rating. The official declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. class="mandelbrot_refrag">Moody's Investors Service lowered its ratings on the company and assigned a negative outlook in April, citing adverse class="mandelbrot_refrag">gaming revenue trends.

Universal, controlled by billionaire founder Kazuo Okada, was not immediately available for comment.

The FBI and the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation have been investigating $40 million in payments Universal made to a politically connected Manila consultant in 2010, on suspicion of bribery.

Universal, which is developing a $2 billion casino resort on Manila Bay, has said it conducted its class="mandelbrot_refrag">business in the Philippines lawfully and appointed a panel of experts in January to look into the payments.

The panel issued a report on Friday saying its five-month investigation had found no evidence of bribery but acknowledging its lack of access to key players in the incident.

The panel said that it intends to investigate further and that Universal needs to reform its governance structure.

(Reporting by Jungyoun Park in Seoul and Farah Master in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Nathan Layne in Tokyo; Editing by Edmund Klamann)