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Southern film critics name ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ top film

Photo provided by Fox Searchlight -- From left, Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori star in 'The Grand Budapest Hotel.'

The Southeastern Film Critics Association named “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” writer-director Wes Anderson’s ensemble comedy set in central Europe between the world wars, its top movie of 2014. Writer-director Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” an epic story of a boy filmed over a 12-year period, placed second in SEFCA’s Top 10 and Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman,”… Continue reading →

British singer Joe Cocker dies at age 70

Associated Press file photoBritish Rock and Blues legend Joe Cocker performs on stage of the Stravinski hall during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland, in July 2002. Cocker, best known for the songs, 'You Are So Beautiful,' and the 1980s duet 'Up Where We Belong,' with Jennifer Warnes, died Monday of lung cancer in Colorado. He was 70.

LONDON -- British singer Joe Cocker is dead at age 70.

His London-based agent, Barrie Marshall, said Cocker died early Monday of lung cancer in Colorado, where he has lived for the past two decades.

Cocker was known for a memorable Woodstock performance and cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends."

The ballad "You Are So Beautiful," with Cocker's… Continue reading →

Witherspoon earns best actress nominations with moving ‘Wild’

Fox Searchlight photo by ANNE MARIE FOX -- Reese Witherspoon plays a young woman on an epic journey in 'Wild.'

Redemption movies often aren’t as inspirational as they’d like to be. They are more likely chores to watch. Not so “Wild.” The immersive, moving “Wild” is among the best redemption movies. Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, a reckless young woman who’s reached the edge of a psychological cliff. After a troubled life that includes a failed marriage,… Continue reading →

Director guides Witherspoon’s troubled character down rocky road

Fox Searchlight photo by ANNE MARIE FOX -- Reese Witherspoon, left, and director Jean-Marc Vallee film on location for the new film 'Wild.'

As a troubled young woman in “Wild,” Reese Witherspoon has earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations and is a frontrunner for a best actress Oscar nomination. Canada’s Jean-Marc Vallée directed Witherspoon, an Oscar winner for her role in 2005’s “Walk the Line,” in the acclaimed new drama, which opens Friday in Baton Rouge and… Continue reading →

‘Annie’ star Quvenzhané Wallis talks about acting, school and future dreams

Invision/AP photo by EVAN AGOSTINI -- Actress Quvenzhane Wallis attends the world premiere of  'Annie' at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York Dec. 7.

Quvenzhané Wallis, the 11-year-old actress who received an Oscar nomination for her performance in the Louisiana-set fable “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” wants to make acting a career. An animal lover who travels with her tiny Yorkie poodle, Sammie, she wants to be a veterinarian, too. In Wallis’ latest movie, a new film adaptation of the… Continue reading →

‘Annie’ remake adds modern touches

Columbia Pictures photo by BARRY WETCHER -- Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), Pepper (Amanda Troya), Mia (Nicolette Pierini), Mrs. Kovacevic (Stephanie Kurtzuba), Stacks (Jamie Foxx), Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) and Grace (Rose Byrne) sing 'Tomorrow' in 'Annie.'

“Annie,” the Depression era-set Broadway musical previously adapted into a 1982 film and 1999 TV movie, gets its biggest makeover yet with the 2014 film version of the story. Houma native Quvenzhané Wallis, the 11-year-old actress who received an Oscar nomination for her performance in 2012’s Louisiana-set drama, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” stars… Continue reading →

Sweet ‘Night at the Museum’ bids farewell to Williams

Twentieth Century Fox photo by Kerry Brown -- From left, Atilla the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) and Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) react to an unexpected turn of events in 'Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.'

Take heed: There are at least two acutely sad moments involving Robin Williams’ Teddy Roosevelt in the latest “Night at the Museum.” The movie, subtitled “Secret of the Tomb,” is imbued with the unshakable inevitability that even though we’re still having fun, it’s time to move on—a narrative made only more poignant by Williams’s sudden and shocking… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge area calendar for Dec. 19-25, 2014

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- As Tiny Tim, played by Addie Prochaska, falls to the ground, the Cratchit family gathers. Playing them in Theatre Baton Rouge's production of 'A Christmas Carol,' are, from left, Brooke Bell as Gillian Cratchit; Claudia Suire as Martha Cratchit; Davis Hotard as Bob Cratchit; Susannah Craig as Mrs. Cratchit; Emma Grace Lambert as Miranda Cratchit; Sadie Fontenot as Belinda Cratchit, and John Thomas Hernandez as Peter Cratchit. The show continues through Sunday.

The Baton Rouge area calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Dec. 18-25, 2014. It covers music, plays, shows, parties, family-oriented entertainment and everything in between. Continue reading →

The Plant: Whimsical name, seriously good food

Advocate photo by GEORGE MORRIS -- The Plant restaurant in Plaquemine offers a whole new take on shrimp and grits.

First, a confession: We’re kind of partial to businesses with a hint of cleverness in their names. Not having been to The Library bar off LSU’s campus, we still can’t help but enjoy the wry joke as students tell others of their evening plans. So, if you’re opening a place in Plaquemine, virtually in the shadow of… Continue reading →

Outlying areas calendar for Dec. 19-25, 2014

Advocate file photo -- Acres of holiday lights decorate Zemurray Park in Hammond. This year's display will be open until 9 p.m. nightly through Tuesday. Admission is free.

POINTE COUPEE HISTORICAL SOCIETY CHRISTMAS PARTY BONFIRE: 7 p.m., Julien Poydras Museum and Arts Center, 500 W. Main St., New Roads. (225) 638-6575 CHRISTMAS AT ZEMURRAY PARK: unitl 9 p.m. daily, 400 S. Oak St., Hammond. Lighting display, walking and driving tours. Music, entertainment and special events this weekend.… Continue reading →

At home in a revived historic hotel, Covington’s Oxlot 9 is making a case for road trip dining

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ -- Chef Jeffrey Hansell works in his open kitchen at Oxlot 9, a Covington restaurant for Southern cuisine.

The streets of Covington were predictably quiet as we approached the Southern Hotel on a recent weeknight. Less expected was the bustle we found inside the hotel. Small groups of people seemed to be on self-guided tours, inspecting art in the lodge-like lobby, roaming a courtyard the size of a pocket park… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch for Dec. 19-25, 2014

Photo provided by DAVE MONIC -- The Longneck Society -- Local band the Longneck Society performs at 10 p.m. Friday at Lava Cantina.

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Dec. 19-25, 2014. It covers rock, reggae, jazz, country and everything in between. Continue reading →

Preservation Hall Jazz Band tours, stars and keeps on playing

Photo provided by Frank Bombaci -- Allen Toussaint, at the piano, performs with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

2014 was a banner year for New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The traditional jazz band spent the fall on a coast-to-coast tour with pianist, songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Allen Toussaint. In March, “CBS Sunday Morning” profiled Preservation Hall, the 53-year-old music venue on St. Peter Street.… Continue reading →

Musical friends help NO’s WWOZ celebrate its birthday at Tip’s

Photo by RYAN HODGSEON-RIGSBEE -- Lauren Del Rio, left and Bill De Turk work on the air during WWOZ's 2014 fall pledge drive.

WWOZ, 90.7 FM, the radio station that’s heard by a vast community of listeners in the New Orleans metro area and beyond, marks its 34th birthday Friday at Tipitina’s. The station has about 20,000 online listeners in Louisiana who live outside of the New Orleans area, 4,000 of which are in Baton Rouge. WWOZ picked a… Continue reading →

Minaj’s ‘Pinkprint’ delivers grown-up complexity

Invision/AP photo by CHARLES SYKES -- Nicki Minaj

Maybe we knew — even in 2010 — when Nicki Minaj released her debut set, that beneath the fluorescent wigs and zany accents, there resided a real-life grown-up. On some level, we surely understood that the now 32-year-old rapper had complex emotions and a past, and all the things that make stars… Continue reading →

New Orleans area calendar for Dec. 19-25, 2014

Photo by Marc Fouchi -- The townspeople perform a number in 'A Christmas Carol, The Musical.' The production continues through Sunday at Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts in Kenner.

The New Orleans area calendar is a listing of events talking place in New Orleans and surrounding areas from Dec. 19-25, 2014. It covers music, plays, shows, parties, family-oriented entertainment and everything in between. Continue reading →

‘Smash Bros.’ makes brutality adorable

Photo provided by Nintendo -- 'Super Smash Bros. for Wii U' features a few non-Nintendo ringers like Pac-Man and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Every few years, Nintendo rounds up its most popular characters, like Mario, Donkey Kong and Pikachu, and has them beat the daylights out of each other. It’s not exactly blood sport — there are no spine-shattering, “Mortal Kombat”-style fatalities, and everyone walks away smiling. Only Nintendo could make bare-knuckle brawling cute. “Super Smash Bros. for Wii… Continue reading →

Battle rejoined in action-packed ‘Hobbit’ finale

Photo by MARK POKORNY -- Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins in 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.'

The three-part saga centered upon title character Bilbo Baggins reaches a furious finale in “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” Following 2012’s “An Unexpected Journey” and 2013’s “The Desolation of Smaug,” “The Battle of the Five Armies” is the most action-saturated of the lot. In addition to the film’s five armies, various… Continue reading →

Fraternity suspended over ‘Beyonce’ holiday card

In this Feb. 3, 2013, file photo, Beyonce performs during the halftime show of  the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A University of Pennsylvania fraternity has been suspended pending an investigation into a holiday card showing the mostly white group posing with what it says was a Beyoncé sex doll. Phi Delta Theta’s national leadership halted its Penn chapter this week amid concerns the image — criticized as racist and misogynistic — shows a… Continue reading →

Black Captain America, a Superman similar to Obama, Thor as a woman all part of new trend to bust dated superhero stereotypes

This comic book cover image released by Marvel shows the

WASHINGTON (AP) — For decades, comic books have been in color, but now they are more and more reflecting the true hues of American society. The new Captain America is black. A Superman who is suspiciously similar to President Barack Obama recently headlined a comic book. Thor is a woman, Spider-Man is part-Puerto Rican and Ms. Marvel is Muslim. Mainstream… Continue reading →

Cosby won’t be charged over molestation claim

In this Nov. 21, 2014, file photo, comedian Bill Cosby performs during a show at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne, Fla. Los Angeles prosecutors have declined to file any charges against Cosby after a woman recently reported the comedian molested her around 1974. The rejection of a child sexual abuse charge by prosecutors on Tuesday comes roughly 10 days after the woman, Judy Huth, met with police detectives. The Los Angeles County District Attorneys Office rejected filing a misdemeanor charge of annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18 because the statute of limitations had passed. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles prosecutors on Tuesday declined to file any charges against Bill Cosby after a woman recently claimed the comedian molested her around 1974. The rejection of a child sexual abuse charge by prosecutors came roughly 10 days after the woman, Judy Huth, met with Los Angeles police detectives for 90 minutes.… Continue reading →

Ashanti ‘disgusted’ by convicted fan’s tweets

Singer Ashanti leaves the courthouse after testifying at Devar Hurd's trial in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. Ashanti said in testimony that she was

NEW YORK (AP) — Ashanti says she was “disgusted” and “absolutely scared” when she learned in July 2013 that a fan who had been convicted of stalking had since been tweeting her X-rated messages and posed for a photo with her sister. The Grammy-winning R&B singer testified Tuesday at Devar Hurd’s trial. She says she was at… Continue reading →

Ex-Eurythmics’ singer gets OK for music video

AP file photo -- The Beauregard Parish Jail in DeRidder.

DERIDDER (AP) — Former Eurythmics singer and guitarist Dave Stewart plans to film a new music video early next year in a century-old Gothic Revival jail, say local officials in west Louisiana. The Beauregard Parish Police Jury — equivalent to a county council — approved the request if the lyrics to “Leave This Town” passed muster by… Continue reading →

Bill Cosby’s wife defends husband: ‘He is the man you thought you knew’

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2014 file photo, entertainer Bill Cosby and his wife Camille laugh as they tell a story about collecting one of the pieces in the upcoming exhibit,

NEW YORK (AP) — Bill Cosby’s wife rebutted sex assault allegations against her husband of a half-century on Monday, saying the man being accused by at least 15 women of drugging and having sex with them is “a man I do not know.” In a statement issued Monday, Camille Cosby dismissed accusations that date back as far… Continue reading →

Louisiana singer competes for ‘Voice’ title; winner to be announced Tuesday night

NBC photo by TYLER GOLDEN -- Damien Lawson, of Monroe, performs on a previous episode of NBC's 'The Voice.'

Damien Lawson, of Monroe, may be the next “Voice.” Lawson will sing up against his fellow three finalists on NBC’s reality musical competition series “The Voice” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday. The winner will be announced during Tuesday night’s 8 p.m to 10 p.m. finale. Lawson is part of “The Voice’s” Team Adam… Continue reading →

South African woman named Miss World 2014

Miss South Africa Rolene Strauss gestures, after being crowned Miss World 2014 during the finale of the competition at the ExCel centre in London, Sunday, Dec. 14,  2014. Miss Hungary Edina Kulcsar came second with Miss United States, Elizabeth Safrit finishing third. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON (AP) — South Africa’s Rolene Strauss has been named the winner of the Miss World 2014 competition in a London finale televised in many parts of the world. Edina Kulcsar of Hungary was the runner-up and Elizabeth Safrit of the United States took third place. The winners were announced Sunday after a lengthy competition involving… Continue reading →

From new music to reissued classics, there are holiday tunes for us all

Despite complaints by grinches who claim Christmas music drives them up the wall, recording artists and record companies keep delivering new holiday music and reissues every year. The 2014 holiday season releases include the first holiday album by Idina Menzel, the Tony-winning singer-actress and star of Disney’s animated hit “Frozen.” The Christmas… Continue reading →

‘Birdman’ top Golden Globe nominee

Invision/AP photo by EVAN AGOSTINI -- Actress Quvenzhane Wallis attends the world premiere of  'Annie' at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York Dec. 7.

“Birdman” is soaring. “Boyhood” keeps growing. “Selma” is on the march. And “Unbroken” is ... missing in action. In nominations for the 72nd annual Golden Globes announced Thursday in Beverly Hills, California, the season’s Oscar favorites largely stayed on course, with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman” spreading its wings the widest. The comedy,… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra plans two holiday brass performances

Photo provided by the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra -- The Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Brass program will be performed at Houmas House, as well as St. Joseph's Cathedral.

The Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra continues its Lamar Family Chamber Series with two performances of its “Holiday Brass” at 7:30 p.m. Friday in St. Joseph Cathedral, 412 North St., and 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Houmas House, 40136 La. 942, Darrow. Join the orchestra’s associate conductor, David Torns, and the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players for selections… Continue reading →

Children’s Gingerbread Tea scheduled before Saturday’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

Photo provided by Metro Creative Connection

Theatre Baton Rouge is accepting reservations for its Gingerbread Tea for children age 15 and younger, set for noon-1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, in the Social Room before the 2 p.m. matinee of “A Christmas Carol.” Participants will be given gingerbread cookies, punch and all the necessities needed to decorate the cookies. Also, Theatre Baton Rouge… Continue reading →

Giving the Gift of Gaming: A Buyer’s Guide

Vanamo Media photo by Evan Amos -- For gamers who want to game, choose the PlayStation 4.

With so many options to choose from, picking out the right gaming system for yourself or the gamer in your life can take a Christmas miracle. Do you want cutting-edge graphics? Portability? Kid-friendly fun? Whatever you need, there’s a console that can deliver it this holiday season. 2013 saw the launch of two powerful new consoles: Sony’s… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge area calendar for Dec. 12-18, 2014

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Scrooge, left, played by Mike Katchmer, speaks to his only living relative, his nephew Fred, played by Travis Williams, in a scene from the Theatre Baton Rouge's 'A Christmas Carol.'

The Baton Rouge area calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Dec. 12-18, 2014. It covers plays, shows, parties, family-oriented entertainment and everything in between. Continue reading →

Chris Rock’s stand-up comes to life in ‘Top Five’

Paramount Pictures photo by ALI PAIGE GOLDSTEIN -- Gabrielle Union, left, and Chris Rock share a scene in 'Top Five.'

Writer-director Chris Rock is not Andre Allen, the stand-up comedian turned movie star lead of “Top Five.” But, it’s almost impossible to watch his latest effort, a cutting comedy about showbiz, creativity and ambition, and not wonder what material Rock took from his own life. While that’s a fun and compelling draw, thankfully, it’s only… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge Concert Band prepares for annual Christmas show

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- The Baton Rouge Concert Band conducts its final rehearsal Tuesday before its Christmas concert  on  Sunday.

The subject was Christmas carols outside the LSU Orchestra Room. It’s where the Baton Rouge Concert Band meets Tuesdays for rehearsals, where Christmas-themed music has dominated the repertoire in the weeks leading up to Sunday. That’s when the band performs its annual Christmas concert in St. Joseph Cathedral. Sheily Bell will conduct… Continue reading →

Kids’ Orchestra presents Winter Concert

The Kids’ Orchestra will present its “Honors Orchestra Winter Concert” at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Christian Life Fellowship Sanctuary, 2037 Quail Drive. Admission is free. The orchestra’s fourth annual winter concert highlights the skills acquired by participants of the Kids’ Orchestra after-school program, which begins each September. Due to the rapid and exponential growth of… Continue reading →

Relaxed elegance and cooking perfection leave diners smiling at The Grill

Advocate staff photo by Beth Colvin -- The Cajun egg rolls were plump, crispy rolls of wonton-wrapped boudin served over a deliciously spicy peach chili sauce.

It’s the time of year for entertaining and decadent meals, and there’s a new place in Baton Rouge to celebrate. The Grill, on Perkins Road near its intersection with Highland, offers a luxe atmosphere, thoughtful service and, most importantly, delicious food. The dining area was well appointed and softly lit, giving our lunch an… Continue reading →

Outlying areas calendar for Dec. 12-18, 2014

Photo provided by ELLIE HEBERT -- A balloon twister and a juggling stilt walker entertain children at last year's Children's Christmas Festival and Parade in Plaquemine. This year's festival is Sunday.

BONFIRE ON THE LEVEE: morning events 9 a.m., evening events 5 p.m., Nottoway Plantation & Resort, 31025 La. 1, White Castle. Arts and crafts vendors, food, music, tree lighting ceremony, Santa and a bonfire. $5 per car. “THE NUTCRACKER”: 7 p.m.,… Continue reading →

Vicki Lawrence brings her ‘Two Woman Show’ to BR


“Vicki Lawrence and Mama, A Two Woman Show” is set for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday at BREC’s Independence Park Theatre, 7800 Independence Blvd. Emmy Award-winning comedienne Vicki Lawrence is one of the most beloved television personalities of her generation. After her portrayal of the “Mama” character on “The Carol Burnett Show,” Lawrence has taken… Continue reading →

Shows to Watch for Dec. 12-18, 2014

Photo provided by Captain Green -- Captain Green -- Baton Rouge band Captain Green is staging its third annual Christmas Carnival Friday at Chelsea's Cafe. Attendees who make donations to the Baton Rouge Food Bank will receive free gumbo and red beans and rice. Captain Green will play soul music covers featuring guest vocalists and musicians. The group will also perform Frank Zappa songs and new material from its upcoming album 'Protect Each Other Together.'

The Shows to Watch calendar is a listing of events taking place in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas from Dec. 12-18, 2014. It covers plays, shows, parties, family-oriented entertainment and everything in between. Continue reading →

‘Far Cry 4’ climbs to wild heights

Photo provided by Ubisoft --A scene unfolds in the new video game, 'Far Cry 4,' which offers something new to the franchise -- elephants.

At a time when it seems like many first-person shooter creators have run out of ideas, the keepers of the “Far Cry” franchise have cleverly added elephants that can be employed as makeshift tanks in the latest installment of the freewheeling, out-of-control action series. It’s just one of many inventive flourishes that players will stumble across in… Continue reading →

Trans-Siberian Orchestra back with rock-classical fireworks

Photo by JASON MCEACHERN -- Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra began as a progressive rock-meets-classical music studio project in 1995. It wasn’t until 1999, following the release TSO’s albums “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” and “The Christmas Attic,” that TSO founder, composer and lyricist Paul O’Neill put the show on the road. TSO’s 1999 tour of a handful of U.S. cities whet the appetite… Continue reading →

Felix Cavaliere fulfills his Christmas wish with album

Photo provided by Melissa Kucirek -- Felix Cavaliere

Singer and organist Felix Cavaliere and the three other members of New York’s Rascals created some of the 1960s’ most soulful pop hits. Signed to the mighty Atlantic Records, the label that issued so much great soul and rhythm-and-blues music, the Rascals reached No. 1 with “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin’ ” and “People Got to Be… Continue reading →

New Orleans area calendar for Dec. 12-18, 2014

Photo provided by Media 9 Productions LLCSara Craig gives an art demonstration at a past Lee Lane Craft Fair in Covington. The fair runs each Saturday through Christmas.

The New Orleans area calendar is a listing of events taking place in New Orleans and surrounding areas from Dec. 12-18, 2014. It covers plays, shows, parties, family-oriented entertainment and everything in between. Continue reading →

Houma girl Quvenzhane Wallis among Golden Globes nominees for best actress

Actress Quvenzhane Wallis attends the world premiere of

NEW YORK (AP) — Houma-native Quvenzhane Wallis -- the 11-year-old star of "Annie" -- nabbed a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a musical or comedy. “Birdman” squawked loudest in the Golden Globes nominations, flying away with a leading seven nods including best picture in the comedy or musical category. In nominations for the 72… Continue reading →

Mark Wahlberg opens up about pardon motive

At the New York premiere of his new drama “The Gambler,” Mark Wahlberg talks about the rumors and the real reasons for him wanting a pardon for an assault charge he received when he was a teen.… Continue reading →