- - Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Carrie Underwood is all about the music, not politics. Yet the 29-year-old country music star has found herself in a media storm after voicing support for gay marriage.

In an interview with the British newspaper the Independent, Miss Underwood, who is married, was quoted as saying she believes everyone should have the right to love. She also noted that her church was gay-friendly and it wasn’t her job to judge people.

While hugely popular in the U.S., Miss Underwood’s comments created a backlash online from those angry with her stance.

Speaking to the Associated Press in London, Miss Underwood was uncomfortable revisiting the subject and said she was staying away from reading the reactions.

“I was asked a difficult question in the last five minutes of an interview and I answered it the best way I knew how, and after that I do what I do and I love making music and I generally try to stay out of any kind of controversy,” she said in Tuesday’s interview.

That said, Miss Underwood is a former “American Idol” and Grammy winner who knows what she says will be heard.

“The role-model word is really scary to me, because no matter what happens in your life, something you do, wear, say, sing, whatever — somebody somewhere is probably not going to like it too well,” she said. “I just really try hard to do what I do and try to be nice to people and make great music and if people think they can look up to that, that’s wonderful. If not, that’s OK too.”

The American star is in the U.K. to win over English hearts with her music. Her latest album, “Blown Away,” is her first actual British release. She’s also playing a sold-out show Thursday at London’s Royal Albert Hall that will feature her latest material as well as older hits like “Before He Cheats.”

She is promising a laid-back show, compared to past American gigs which had flying pick-up trucks on the stage.

The Oklahoma-born star has been to London before but just on a tourist trip to see the sights.

“I didn’t sign autographs or anything then, nobody was coming to hear me sing, this is a definite difference this time round,” she said.

Miss Underwood said she hopes breaking into the U.K. market will in some way rebalance the flood of successful English acts including Adele, One Direction and the Wanted who are taking over the American charts.

“We’re kind of being invaded right now, in the U.S, in a good way,” she said. “I do think it would be really cool if I were loved and accepted here, that’s the hope for this week.”

‘Maleficent’ filming starts with Jolie in title role

Production has started on “Maleficent,” with Angelina Jolie starring as the classic Disney villain from “Sleeping Beauty.”

Work on the film began June 13, the Walt Disney Studios announced Tuesday. The studio also released the first image of Miss Jolie in character, wearing a dark headdress and dramatic makeup.

“Maleficent” tells the beloved “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale from the perspective of Aurora’s evil nemesis, revealing the back story that led her to curse the girl as a baby. And it’ll probably look pretty spectacular: “Maleficent” marks the directing debut of longtime visual effects and production designer Robert Stromberg, a two-time Oscar winner for “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

The film is scheduled for release on March 14, 2014.

Jackman to host free short-film fest in NYC

Hugh Jackman wants anyone with a cellphone to get a chance to break in to show business.

The actor is hosting New York’s first installment of Tropfest, billed as the world’s largest short-film festival. It’s free and open to the public.

“Forget it, [if] you’ve got a mobile phone, you can make a film, you can enter,” Mr. Jackman said. “It’s a great way for me to support the arts and anybody who wants to can get involved.”

A panel of celebrity judges including Rose Byrne, Judah Friedlander and Jennifer Westfeldt will pick best film, actor and actress on Saturday in Bryant Park.

The films showcased at Tropfest may be short (they must all be under seven minutes) but they’ve led to some impressive success stories. The idea for the FX series “Wilfred” starring Elijah Wood came from Tropfest. Sam Worthington of “Avatar” won Best Actor in 2000.

The entries have been narrowed down to eight finalists — each required to include a Tropfest Signature Item. (The required item for New York’s first Tropfest? A bagel.)

Tropfest, the brainchild of director John Polson, started 20 years ago in Australia and now draws more than 150,000 attendees each year. The winner for best film gets $20,000 from the Motion Picture Association and a week of meetings with studio execs, agents and managers.

Johnny Depp, girlfriend end 14-year relationship

Longtime Hollywood couple Johnny Depp and French singer-actress Vanessa Paradis have agreed to separate “amicably,” a publicist for the star said Tuesday.

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star and Gallic actress have been together for 14 years, but rumors of trouble have circulated for more than a year, leading to Miss Paradis denying a split in January.

“Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis have amicably separated. Please respect their privacy and, more importantly, the privacy of their children,” Mr. Depp’s publicist told “Entertainment Tonight,” and confirmed to Agence France-Presse.

The couple, who divide their time between France and the United States, have two children aged 10 and 13 but have never married.

By Hollywood standards they have been remarkably discreet, making headlines for their respective career successes rather than any romantic strains or scandals. But for more than a year rumors have been circulating about the state of their once idyllic relationship, fueled by increasingly infrequent public appearances together.

• Compiled from Web and wire reports