- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2012

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” director Benh Zeitlin is working on his next film — a Louisiana-made fable about a hidden ecosystem where the aging process is “out of whack” and people can age quickly or very slowly.

Mr. Zeitlin’s first film, “Beasts,” took awards at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals this year. Mr. Zeitlin said he would like to use the same production team and cast in the new, yet-to-be-titled project.

The news comes as Mr. Zeitlin prepares to receive the New Orleans Film Society’s Celluloid Hero award, an honor bestowed to industry standouts who have made significant contributions to the art of making films.

Mr. Zeitlin will be recognized Thursday at the society’s patron party and gala, the main fundraiser for the New Orleans Film Festival, which is Oct. 11-18.

Two plead no contest in Stevie Wonder extortion

Willie Nelson will talk about his favorite recreational activity in a new ... more >

Two people charged with trying to extort millions of dollars from Stevie Wonder pleaded no contest on Monday and were released after being sentenced to time-served in jail.

Alpha Lorenzo Walker and Tamara Diaz were sentenced to serve 292 days in jail and three years of probation for attempting to sell a video that purportedly portrayed Mr. Wonder in a negative light. Jail credits made the pair eligible for release Monday.

The pair was arrested in May after the Grammy-winner’s attorney arranged a sting and claimed Mr. Walker had sought up to $5 million for the video.

Mr. Walker’s attorney, Ian Wallach, said the deal was reached after prosecutors encountered trouble proving the extortion case and that the charges could be reduced to misdemeanors and expunged if the pair comply with the terms of their release.

A judge ordered the pair to stand trial in July after a preliminary hearing in which a police detective described the video as an 80-minute rant against Mr. Wonder. Portions of it were filmed in the former home of the singer’s late mother, which is now dilapidated, and it also shows Mr. Wonder’s son, whom the musician is protective of.

Mr. Wallach had maintained his client was innocent and that he had a constitutional right to make and market the video. Ms. Diaz is Mr. Walker’s girlfriend and was present during a police sting that involved Mr. Wonder’s attorney and led to the pair’s arrest.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said both were ordered to stay away from Mr. Wonder and his associates while on probation.

Willie Nelson autobiography due out in November

Willie Nelson has proven to be one of America’s most prolific songwriters. Turns out he’s no slouch when it comes to memoirs, either: He has a new one due in November.

Mr. Nelson will release “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die” on Nov. 13. Publisher William Morrow said the American music icon will tell never-before-heard stories about his life, family, music, politics, Texas, religion and favorite recreational activity.

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