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Tuning in to TV

- - Sunday, January 29, 2012

Turkish television marks Holocaust with documentary

An epic French documentary about the mass murder of Jews under the German Nazi regime has appeared on Turkish television to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day - the first time the film has been aired on public television in a majority-Muslim country.

State television TRT's documentary channel showed the first episode of filmmaker Claude Lanzmann's "Shoah" late Thursday - the eve of the day of remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust.

The film has been subtitled into Arabic, Farsi and Turkish by the Paris-based Aladdin Project as part of its campaign to promote understanding between Jews and Muslims and to fight Holocaust denial.

"Shoah," the Hebrew word for Holocaust, includes testimony from concentration camp survivors and staff about the slaughter of millions of Jews in Europe by the Nazis during World War II. Mr. Lanzmann worked for 11 years on the film, which was released in 1985.

Last year, a Los Angeles-based Farsi satellite channel broadcast the nine-plus-hour documentary in Iran, where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has questioned historical accounts of the Holocaust and called for Israel's destruction.

The film is not the first Holocaust film to be shown on television in Turkey, a secular country that is seeking membership in the European Union. Turkey also has its own Holocaust film: "The Turkish Passport," which was released last year and tells the true story of Turkish diplomats who saved thousands of Jews by issuing them Turkish passports.

Designers to dress Rihanna on new British TV show

Rihanna has found a unique way of getting some new stage outfits.

The musical superstar from Barbados will be hunting for undiscovered design talent in Britain on a new TV show - as yet unnamed - in which she will be the executive producer and the star.

Sky Living HD announced Thursday that it has commissioned media company Twenty Twenty to make the series and that Rihanna will be working mainly behind the scenes.

Hosting duties will go to another pop name, Nicola Roberts from the U.K. group Girls Aloud.

Together they will challenge fashion newcomers to create stage gear for musicians and celebrities - with the final task to dress Rihanna for her July 8 performance at the Wireless music festival in London's Hyde Park.

'Friday Night Lights' actor swaps football for sci-fi

The "Friday Night Lights" are far beyond Taylor Kitsch now. These days, if he sees something bright on the horizon, chances are it is extraterrestrial.

"That's how I pick my roles," the British Columbian-born actor said. " 'Wait, is there aliens in it? Oh well, why am I doing it, why would you call me if there are no aliens in it?' That's basically how it goes."

He's joking, but it's true. Mr. Kitsch, 30, has leading roles in two big movies this year - "Battleship" and "John Carter" - that will see him leave the small town Texas football scene of the critically acclaimed "FNL" TV series for the big screen world of sci-fi.

First up is Disney's interpretation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel, released in March. In "John Carter," Mr. Kitsch plays a former military captain who is transported to Mars, a planet being torn apart by war.

It is directed by Andrew Stanton - of "Finding Nemo" and "WALL-E" fame - who is taking on his first-live action movie.

Carter gets caught up in the conflicts and jumps into battle with a sword, loin cloth and plenty of muscle. Mr. Kitsch said Mr. Stanton insisted on a grueling regimen to get him mentally and physically prepared.

After that, it's Peter Berg's "Battleship," which also stars Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgard and features Rihanna in her movie debut. Loosely based on the classic naval combat game from Hasbro, it sees five ships take on another five ships from a different planet.

"Battleship" reaches theaters in Britain on April 13 before hitting the U.S. in May.

The Canadian actor said he really enjoyed collaborating with his old "FNL" executive producer, Mr. Berg, on his "Battleship" role of naval officer Lt. Alex Hopper. There are still aliens, but this time instead of a dusty planet there's a lot of ocean.

Mr. Kitsch said he found his sea legs pretty quickly, which was good because the crew spent several weeks shooting on the water and some scenes had him blown straight into the ocean.

"So many variables come into play, obviously time consuming, you're always fighting the light apparently when you're shooting outside," he noted.

Still, Mr. Kitsch said he was very happy with the result.

"It's seamless the way they've done it," he said.

'Welcome Back Kotter' actor, Robert Hegyes, dies

Robert Hegyes, the actor best known for playing Jewish Puerto Rican student Juan Epstein on the 1970s TV show "Welcome Back Kotter" has died. He was 60.

The Flynn & Son Funeral Home in Fords, N.J., said it was informed of Mr. Hegyes' death Thursday by the actor's family.

A spokesman at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J., told the Newark Star-Ledger newspaper that Mr. Hegyes, of Metuchen, arrived at the hospital Thursday morning in full cardiac arrest and died.

Mr. Hegyes was appearing on Broadway in 1975 when he auditioned for "Kotter," a TV series about a teacher who returns to the inner-city New York school of his youth to teach a group of irreverent remedial students nicknamed the "Sweathogs." They included the character Vinnie Barbarino, played by John Travolta.

The show's theme song, performed by John Sebastian, became a pop hit.

Mr. Hegyes also appeared on many other TV series, including "Cagney & Lacey." He also guest-starred in shows including "Diagnosis Murder" and "The Drew Carey Show."

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.