Saturday, October 31, 2009

NEWS: Race Quotas; Seacrest; Imagined Intimacy; Monroe & MORE!

Andy Warhol self-portrait for sale

An Andy Warhol self-portrait that has sat in a closet for more than four decades is set to be auctioned in New York in November. Cathy Naso, who worked part-time as a receptionist at the pop artist's famed Factory studio in New York when she was 17, has decided to sell the painting. Warhol, who created the painting in 1965, gave the work to Naso two years later. He also inscribed the work to her, writing: "To Cathy (2 years late)." Though the Brooklyn-based Naso did display the vibrantly coloured canvas for several years, she acknowledged that she put it away in a closet where it remained until recently. The painting, expected to fetch upwards of $1 million US and currently on display at Sotheby's in New York, will be featured as part of the auctioneer's New York's Nov. 11 sale of contemporary art.

Growth in secular attitudes leaves Americans room for belief in God

The nature of the American religious experience is changing as a rising number of people report having no formal religious affiliation, even though the number of Americans who say they pray is increasing, according to a new survey from the University of Chicago.

Ryan Seacrest gets restraining order against 'violent' stalker

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest has been granted a restraining order against a man who was arrested outside the TV personality's workplace while carrying a knife.

Anna Nicole's boyfriend, 2 doctors to stand trial

The late Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend and two of her doctors will stand trial on charges of illegally giving her prescription drugs. After a three-week preliminary hearing, a Los Angeles judge has ruled there is enough evidence to try the three men on multiple charges, including providing drugs to an addict. Charged are Howard K. Stern, the lawyer who was Smith's companion during the last several months of her life, as well as Dr. Sandeep Kapoor and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, who were her doctors.

Controversy: University race quotas in Brazil

There are more people of African descent in Brazil than in any country outside the African continent itself, but the higher you go in Brazilian society the less evidence there appears to be of that reality. Critics say part of the blame lies with a system which has often failed to provide equality of access to third-level education, though recent years have seen some improvements. To try to address the problem, many Brazilian universities have adopted affirmative action policies or quotas to try to boost the number of black and mixed race students, or more generally those from poor backgrounds.

Michael Jackson's "This Is It" makes $20.1M US in 1st-day screenings
The Michael Jackson concert film This Is It got off to a strong start, earning $20.1 million US worldwide on its first day in theatres, Columbia Pictures has announced. The Kenny Ortega-directed film made $7.4 million US in North America and $12.7 million US in international territories, the studio announced on Thursday. The eagerly anticipated movie — created from more than 100 hours of footage showing the late Jackson rehearsing for his London concert series — premiered in simultaneous midnight screenings in cities around the world on Wednesday before opening more widely.

Crypt above Marilyn Monroe's fails to sell

An auction held to sell the burial vault above the remains of Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe did not fetch any bids. said it marked the second try since August to sell off the marble crypt of Richard Poncher, who died 23 years ago. His widow, Elsie, is selling the vault to pay off the mortgage on her Beverly Hills home. His remains would be moved to a plot nearby, according to Elsie Poncher. Eric Gazin of said several bidders were pre-approved but none of them came forward to take part in the sale, which ended Thursday and had a starting price of $500,000 US.

U.S. President Barack Obama lifts HIV travel ban

U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday the U.S. will overturn a 22-year-old travel and immigration ban against people with HIV early next year. The law has effectively kept out thousands of students, tourists and refugees and has complicated the adoption of children with HIV. No major international AIDS conference has been held in the United States since 1993 because HIV-positive activists and researchers cannot enter the country. The U.S. has been among a dozen countries that bar entry, based on HIV status, to travellers with visas or anyone seeking a green card. The 11 other countries that ban HIV-positive travellers and immigrants are: Armenia, Brunei, Iraq, Libya, Moldova, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Sudan, according to the advocacy group Immigration Equality.

Solitude contributes to a person's imagined intimacy with a TV character

If your best friend is a guy from "The Office" or a young doctor on "Grey's Anatomy," you may be relying too much on TV shows to fill a social void in your life. A new study from the University of Michigan says lonely people may use television characters to cope with solitude and to feel a sense of belonging. The study examines how social and emotional tendencies—social inclusion needs and solitude experiences—are related to people's imagined intimacy with media characters and emotional connection with television programs. "Media programs are, after all, inherently social and may offer individuals a soothing if temporary replacement for genuine social interaction," said Dara Greenwood, assistant professor of communications studies who co-authored the study with Christopher Long, an assistant professor of psychology at Ouachita Baptist University. READ MORE