- - Sunday, February 26, 2012

Empty theaters greet Jolie film in Serbia

Screenings of Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut in Serbia have attracted just a handful of viewers, local media say — “more than the movie deserves,” one daily reported Friday.

“In the Land of Blood and Honey” — a drama set during the Bosnian war about a Serb soldier who finds his ex-lover, a Muslim woman, among sex slaves in a camp — has triggered mixed emotions in the postwar Balkans.

It received a standing ovation in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, but has sparked outrage among Serbs, who have blasted the movie as propaganda designed to portray them as the bad guys of the 1992-95 Balkan wars.

Serbian newspaper reports Friday described the film’s opening as a “fiasco.” Only 12 people attended the earliest screening in a movie theater in central Belgrade, and some left before the end, reports said.

“More police were there than viewers,” a cinema employee said.

Nationalist Press daily wrote that “the film is so bad that it warrants no reaction.” It added that only five people turned up for a “ghostly empty” screening in another cinema — “more than the movie deserves,” it said.

In stark contrast to Serbia, thousands have seen Ms. Jolie’s movie in Croatia and Bosnia. In both countries, Ms. Jolie attended red-carpet premieres along with top dignitaries.

Tens of thousands of people were killed in the war, which pitted the country’s Serbs against Muslims and Croats.

Serbs have been widely blamed for most of the atrocities in the conflict, which is considered to be Europe’s worst bloodshed since World War II.

Jackson doctor denied bail while appealing conviction

A Los Angeles judge refused to release Michael Jackson’s doctor on bail while he appeals his conviction for involuntary manslaughter in the pop star’s death.

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor rejected Conrad Murray’s bid for bail during a hearing Friday. Murray was not present.

Judge Pastor said Murray is a flight risk and would be a danger to society if he tries to practice medicine again.

Jackson died after being injected with the surgical anesthetic propofol in June 2009 while in Murray’s care.

Satirist Maher donates $1M to Obama super PAC

Faux news host Stephen Colbert isn’t the only comedian with a super PAC connection. Political satirist Bill Maher got into the act Thursday night, pledging $1 million to a political action committee supporting President Obama.

Mr. Maher announced during a Yahoo-webcast special, “CrazyStupidPolitics,” that he was giving $1 million to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing the president. Even as he made his sizable pledge, Mr. Maher mocked the committee’s “tongue-twister name,” saying it was dreamed up by Borat, the English-addled Eastern European comic creation of Sacha Baron Cohen.

A cynic on politics who often takes liberal stands on issues on his HBO talk show “Real Time,” Mr. Maher joined DreamWorks Animation executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and the Service Employees International Union as the committee’s top funders.

Mr. Colbert created and funded his super PAC — Making a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow — to satirize the unfettered flow of corporate and union funds into political campaigns.

More than half of the $60 million donated to groups supporting Mr. Obama and his GOP presidential rivals since early last year has come in million-dollar-plus donations. With Mr. Maher’s donation, $4 million of Priorities USA Action’s entire $5.5 million in contributions will have come from million-dollar-plus gifts.

Sweden’s newborn princess to be named Estelle

Sweden’s newborn princess and future monarch has a name: Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary.

King Carl XVI Gustaf announced his granddaughter’s name, and said the baby girl, who was born Thursday to Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, will receive the title Duchess of Ostergotland, a province in southeast Sweden.

As Victoria’s first-born child, she is second in line to the throne.

Estelle, a name of French origin, is unusual in Sweden and took royal watchers by surprise, though it isn’t unprecedented in the royal family, which has French roots. Estelle was the name of the American-born wife of the king’s godfather, Count Folke Bernadotte, a U.N. mediator in the Israeli-Arab conflict who was assassinated in Jerusalem in 1948.

Silvia is the name of Victoria’s mother and Ewa is Daniel’s mother’s name. Mary is not common in the Swedish royal family, but it’s the name of Denmark’s Australian-born crown princess.

Sweden’s monarch is primarily a figurehead, representing the country as the head of state but with powers limited to ceremonial functions.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.