Saturday Oct 25th, 2014

Why Haunted New Orleans is Irresistible for Filmmakers

A real-life American Horror Story! Voodoo crypts, murderous socialites and homes with grisly pasts...


Looming: Ancient crypts fill Saint Louis Cemetery No 1, a sprawling network of mausoleums in the heart of New Orleans

It provided a suitably haunted backdrop for gothic US show American Horror Story: Coven, and taking a tour through the heart of vibrant New Orleans it’s not hard to see why.

Starting at Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 – a sprawling network of mausoleums some eight blocks from the Mississippi River – one is immediately taken by the powerful visual aesthetic that makes it such an appealing prospect for filmmakers.

Indeed, ancient crypts loom in every direction, but it is plot 347 and the Glapion family crypt – widely believed to be the final resting place of revered voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, played by Angela Bassett in the hit show – that many pilgrims flock to see.

Despite the stillness an air of celebration in the inevitability of death courses throughout the cemetery, a refusal to mourn that permeates the still, humid air.

This unique atmosphere may well have encouraged Nicholas Cage to build his own tomb at Saint Louis No 1 in 2010.

Iconic: The Glapion family crypt, located at plot 347, is widely believed to be the final resting place of 19th century voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. The most popular tomb in the cemetery, visitors believe that scoring a cross into its surface and turning three times will fulfill a wish

Spellbinding: Actress Angela Bassett plays Marie Laveau in America Horror Story: Coven

[read full article below]

Marysville Shooter Was Homecoming Prince

[BBC News]

David Ryder/Getty Images

Details about the 14-year-old who opened fire in the school cafeteria of Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington on Friday are beginning to emerge. Jaylen Fryberg was a freshman football player who was crowned homecoming prince just last week. Two of the four people he shot before killing himself were relatives. The other student he killed was female; her identity has not been released. Two of the victims, 14-year-old Nate Hatch and 15-year-old Andrew Fryberg, are relatives of Jaylen’s. “My grandson and the shooter were best friends,” Hatch’s grandfather told ABC News. “They grew up together and did everything together.” Andrew Fryberg underwent surgery for a head wound and is listed in critical condition. Hatch is in serious condition; both boys have been transferred to another hospital. The other two victims, both young women, remain in critical condition. Officials met with relatives to ask about birthmarks and descriptions of their children’s clothing to help identify them, since their head injuries were so severe they were not immediately identifiable. According to student witnesses, Fryberg pulled out the gun in the cafeteria and began shooting in a calm, methodical way with “no arguing, no yelling.” The gun Fryberg used was legally acquired, though it is unclear by whom.

A 911 caller reported the shooting at 10:39 a.m. Friday, said Marysville Police Commander Robb Lamoureux. School security officers arrived at the cafeteria two minutes later, then confirmed "the shooter was down."

"They're traumatized -- there's no doubt about it," Lamoureux said of the students. "There's a lot of healing that has to take place in this community."

Brian Patrick, the father of a girl who said she was 10 feet from the gunman, told The Associated Press that Fryberg shot his schoolmates in a calm, methodical way.

"The guy walked into the cafeteria, pulled out a gun and started shooting," he said of his daughter's account. "No arguing, no yelling."

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office said a cafeteria worker tried stopping the shooter, but didn't detail what happened.

Marysville-Pilchuck High School will be closed all of next week, and the football game that was scheduled for this evening was cancelled after the opposing team offered to take second place, schools Superintendent Becky Berg said.

"We are indeed heartsick," Berg said this evening.

Nathan Heckerdorf, a student at the school, told ABC News that he spoke to the shooting suspect before the first class of the day to see how he was doing because he allegedly got into a fight over racial slurs.

The suspect claimed to be alright, and Heckerdorf thought he seemed normal.

Heckerdorf spoke to ABC News by phone while he was waiting to be evacuated from a classroom that he ran into when he heard gunshots.

"We were told to get away from the windows," Heckerdorf told ABC News of what he and about 25 other students were doing inside the classroom.

He said the school splits lunch into two periods and the people in the cafeteria at the time of the first shooting would have been there because they had the earlier lunch.

He was headed to the cafeteria but ran away when he heard the gunshots. He said that someone pulled the fire alarm immediately afterwards, causing everyone to scatter.

"Everybody's still shaken up," Heckerdorf said. "Some people are crying. But, as of now, it's a pretty calm atmosphere."

Eyewitness Alyx Peitzsch told ABC News affiliate KOMO that she was in the cafeteria when the shooting started and she heard four gunshots.

She estimated that there were perhaps 50 people in the cafeteria but she ran out of the room as soon as she heard the shots.

Peitzsch and many other students ran to a church near the school where her mother picked her up.

Police cleared the school's multiple buildings to ensure that the situation was stable and to look for injured students, Lamoureux said, before transitioning from a dynamic scene to an investigative scene. Several hours after the shooting, several students still were being questioned, he added.

The FBI had a SWAT team involved in the searches, and was supporting local authorities by providing additional victim specialists, who have extensive knowledge and experience in assisting victims, witnesses of crisis situations, and their families, an FBI spokeswoman in Seattle said.

President Obama was briefed on the shooting within hours of the incident.

Arriba! Why Latina Girl Power is a New Force to be Reckoned with on US TV

Two new sitcoms aim to challenge viewers’ perceptions of Latin actors and their roles

Cristela Alonzo, the star of her eponymous show Cristela.

Edward Helmore [The Guardian]

The rise of Latina women is well represented in pop music with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande, while in politics New Mexico governor Susana Martinez is a 2016 vice-presidential ticket possibility for the Republican party. But – with the exception of overwrought telenovelas, Colombian sitcom superstar Sofía Vergara andDesperate Housewives’ Eva Longoria – they hardly figure at all on American television.

That will soon change if US TV executives succeed in building an audience for two new comedy series that aim to expand the representation of Latina life to the mainstream.

At issue is whether white American audiences are ready to accept Latin characters outside their typical roles. Cristela is the first series created by a Latina who also happens to star in the show: the comedian Cristela Alonzo. Gina Rodriguez plays the titular role in Jane the Virgin, about a young woman accidentally inseminated by her doctor.

In different ways, both reflect the changing roles of Latina women and their families as they gain social and economic power in US society.

Being a maid is fantastic, Rodriguez said recently, “but there are other stories that need to be told”. The show, she said, was an opportunity to send a positive message to a new generation. “Right now the perceptions of Latinos in America are very specific to maid, landscaper, pregnant teen.”

Cristela tells the story of a young woman living with her mother and her sister’s family while studying for a law degree. In the style of sitcoms likeThe Cosby Show, the story reflects Alonzo’s own experience: growing up in a Texas border town, her family initially discouraged her plan to become an entertainer.

For the first eight years of her life, she lived in an abandoned diner. Her mother, single and with four children to support, worked double shifts at a Mexican restaurant. She instilled the belief that, for people like them, “life was not to be enjoyed”. But they did not go without TV: Alonzo consumed sitcoms and eventually established herself on the stand-up comedy circuit in LA.

Modern Family star Sofía Vergara’s entertainment company handled 87% of Spanish-language endorsements in America in 2012.

“I would like to be someone that gives a voice to my culture,” the 35-year-old actress wrote last year.

Both shows seek not merely to avoid the easy stereotypes that doomed previous Latin-focused sitcoms, but also to challenge them. In the first episode of Cristela, Alonzo’s character is asked by a wealthy white woman to validate her parking ticket. “I think you’ve been validated enough,” she shoots back.

In another scene, she is warned by her mother not to raise her ambitions too high. “Point to the biggest house,” Cristela’s sister Daniela (Maria Canals Barrera) chimes in. “And say, you’re American. You work hard, you make something of yourself, and someday, you can clean that house.”

In addition to Jane the Virgin and Cristela is Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a recent police department sitcom starring two Latina detectives, Stephanie Beatriz and Melissa Fumero. In the acclaimed prison drama Orange is the New Black, Dascha Polanco plays Dayanara Diaz, a Latina inmate with mother issues.

The comparatively slight representation of diverse Latin characters in US entertainment is unlikely to last. By 2050, Latinos will make up 30% of the US population. The increasing number of Latino decision-makers in the entertainment business is likely to fuel the trend.

In the meantime, Latina women continue to establish themselves as media moguls. A recent Hollywood Reporter survey named Jennifer Lopez as the most powerful Latina star, with an empire that covers every conceivable aspect of media and entertainment, both in front of and behind the camera, as well as onstage and in the boardroom.

Also named are Modern Family star Vergara, who earned $30m in endorsements last year and whose firm, Latin World Entertainment, handled 87% of Spanish-language endorsements in America in 2012, Shakira – the most “liked” celebrity on Facebook with 104.7m friends – and Longoria, who has a new show, Devious Maids.

Zoe Saldana, star of Avatar, the highest grossing film of all time, says she’s ready for the word “ethnic” to be erased from everyday vocabulary. “In America, everything that’s not ‘American’ is ethnic but, outside of the US, everything that is American is ethnic. So there’s no such thing as being darker or lighter, when you’ve been this way your whole life.”

Additional Headlines from October 25th