- - Monday, August 6, 2012

Madonna has voiced hope that three feminist Russian rockers on trial for performing a “punk prayer” against Vladimir Putin are released soon.

The pop star told the Associated Press during her concert tour of Russia that she supports freedom of speech and hopes the judge will show leniency.

“I’m against censorship, so I hope that the judge is lenient with them and that they are freed soon,” she said.

Two weeks before Mr. Putin’s return to the presidency in March’s election, the three members of the band high-kicked and danced in Moscow’s main cathedral while singing “Virgin Mary, drive Putin away!”

The three were arrested, and have spent five months in custody on charges of hooliganism. They face seven years in prison if convicted.

International rights groups have called them prisoners of conscience.

Special Olympics albums get help of Aguilera, Buble

Christina Aguilera, Michael Buble, Dave Matthews and Train are among the acts helping Special Olympics celebrate the 25th anniversary of its “A Very Special Christmas” album series.

Two albums will be released Oct. 16 to celebrate the partnership, which has raised more than $100 million for Special Olympics. “A Very Special Christmas 25th Anniversary” will be released on Big Machine Records and Word Records will issue “A Very Special Christmas: Bringing Peace on Earth.”

Members of Train and Francesca Battestelli were to attend a news conference Monday at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tenn., to announce the albums.

Other artists involved in the project include Jason Mraz, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Rascal Flatts, the Band Perry, and Cheap Trick.

Charlie Sheen donates $50K to Reds’ Community Fund

Actor Charlie Sheen, a lifelong Cincinnati Reds fan, has pledged to donate $50,000 to the team’s Community Fund, matching the amount broadcaster Marty Brennaman raised for charity in return for having his head shaved on the field.

Mr. Sheen and father Martin Sheen, a Dayton, Ohio, native, were at the Reds game against Pittsburgh on Friday and saw Mr. Brennaman get his head shaved. Mr. Brennaman had promised to shave his hair if the Reds won 10 consecutive games and said he would do it publicly if fans donated at least $20,000 to the Reds fund.

That drive generated $50,000, and Charlie Sheen — on hand at Great American Ball Park for the entire weekend series, announced Sunday that he planned to match that amount.

‘Great Gatsby’ release pushed to summer 2013

In a surprise move, Warner Bros. has pushed back Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” from Dec. 25 to summer 2013.

The 3-D epic, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel, stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton.

“Based on what we’ve seen, Baz Luhrmann’s incredible work is all we anticipated and so much more. It truly brings Fitzgerald’s American classic to life in a completely immersive, visually stunning and exiting way. We think moviegoers of all ages are going to embrace it, and it makes sense to ensure this unique film reaches the largest audience possible,” said Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman, who announced the move with international distribution president Veronika Kwan Vandenberg.

“Great Gatsby” was considered a prime awards contender for Warners, but the studio isn’t left without contenders between Ben Affleck’s “Argo” (Oct. 12), “Cloud Atlas” (Oct. 26) and New Line’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Dec. 14), from director Peter Jackson.

It used to be virtually taboo for a Hollywood studio to push back the release date of a high-profile title, but more and more, studios are doing just that for a variety of reasons. One specific issue facing “Great Gatsby”: Mr. DiCaprio stars in another 2012 Christmas Day movie, Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.”

Robert Lepage’s ‘Ring’ cycle to get DVD, Blu-ray release

Robert Lepage’s much-debated staging of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle will be released on DVD and Blu-ray next month ahead of the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth in May.

Deutsche Grammophon said Monday it will issue the Metropolitan Opera’s staging of “Der Ring des Nibelungen” in sets of eight DVDs and five Blu-ray discs on Sept. 11.

Mr. Lepage’s production features a 45-ton set of 24 planks that form the scenery.

Alex Ross wrote in the New Yorker that “pound for pound, ton for ton, it is the most witless and wasteful production in modern operatic history.” Anthony Tommasini wrote in the New York Times that while “the machine represents a breakthrough in stage technology,” it was “the most frustrating opera production I have ever had to grapple with.”

Conducted by James Levine and Fabio Luisi, the cycle stars Bryn Terfel, Deborah Voigt and Jonas Kaufmann.

The suggested retail price is $147.98 on DVD and $159.98 on Blu-ray.

Compiled from Web and wire reports.