Park Yong-ha (pictured), 33, apparently hanged himself in his home in Seoul, Yonhap news agency reported, citing police.
An official with Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency told The Associated Press that Park was found hanging by the electric cord of his mobile phone battery charger. However, police were still trying to determine the exact cause of death, the official said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.
Park debuted in the late 1990s and starred in the 2002 television drama “Winter Sonata,” which drummed up a following in Japan and Southeast Asia. He held several concerts in Japan and one of his fans was said to be its former first lady Akie Abe.
Yonhap reported no suicide note was found but that Park told his family “I’m sorry. I’m sorry” while massaging his father, who is terminally ill with stomach cancer, early Wednesday, Korean time.
Park enjoyed visiting Hawaii, according to KBFD TV general manager Jeff Chung, who met the versatile performer during his visits here before doing two concerts, one in 2006 at the Waikiki Shell and another just last year at the Hawaii Convention Center.
“I met him several times, and I thought he was a nice guy,” Chung said. “He liked golf and we had a mutual affection for motorcycles. He was a pretty down-to-earth guy, personable, and news of his death seems completely unlike his character.”
Park’s popularity began with the 2002 series “Winter Sonata.”
“We aired it here before it was shown in Japan,” said Chung, “and it was there that the drama ignited the country’s interest in K-drama.”
Interest was such that the two times Park performed here, he brought over large contingents of fans from Japan with him as well.
“He was one of the very few TV actors that was an accomplished singer in Korean and Japanese,” Chung said. “Park was also one of the very few K-drama stars that had success overseas.”
Star-Advertiser staff writer Gary Chun contributed to this report.
Fans and players react during a game at the World Beer Pong Tour competition in Atlantic City, N.J. on June 15. What started out as a drinking game has blossomed into a nationwide competition and a $25,000 first prize, all for doing what millions of college kids do when they should be studying.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. » There was a time when all you could get from playing beer pong was drunk.
Now, you can get rich, too.
What started out as a drinking game has blossomed into a nationwide competition with a $25,000 first prize, all for doing what millions of college kids do when they should be studying.
Tuesday night in Atlantic City, Michael Seviert and Byron Findley, of Sacramento, Calif., split the top prize as their team, Drinkin’ Smokin’ Straight West Coastin’, bested all comers.
For those who never went to a frat party or stayed in a summer rental at the Jersey Shore, beer pong is a game in which two teams assemble at opposite ends of a table that has 10 plastic cups filled with beer arranged in a triangle formation at either end.
Shooters try to toss pingpong balls into the cups. If a ball goes in, the cup is taken off the table and a member of the opposing team has to drink the beer in it. The first team to get rid of all 10 of its opponents’ cups wins. Of course, there’s nothing other than a shortage of beer stopping players from starting a new game — over and over and over again.
But organizers of the World Beer Pong Tour hope the national tournament and $50,000 worth of prize money will help put a respectable face on the activity. Exhibit A: The cups in the tournament are filled with water, not beer. (The cups and balls do, however, carry the logo of GetBombed.com, a company that sells beer pong supplies and helps sponsor the tournament.) Read more
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, right, stands by as Jaela Cheeks-Lomax, 16, left, Samantha Bogle, 16, foreground second from right, and Alexander Long, 18, at the piano, perform during a press conference announcing the public art project “Play Me, I’m Yours”, Thursday at Gantry Plaza State Park in the Queens borough of New York. The two-week project, which will feature 60 public pianos in locations throughout the five boroughs, is scheduled to kick off June 21 at the one-day citywide Make Music New York festival.
By Sara Kugler Frazier
NEW YORK » Consider them keys to the city: Anyone who gets a sudden itch to tickle the ivories will be able to play free public pianos in 50 places throughout New York City, from the Coney Island boardwalk to the Metropolitan Museum.
An art installation touring the world is making its first U.S. stop beginning Monday. For two weeks, players can play tunes on pianos all over New York City, at famous landmarks like the Lincoln Center, the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Staten Island ferry terminal and Central Park’s bandshell.
The concept, devised by British artist Luke Jerram, has put more than 130 pianos in parks, squares and bus stations since 2008 in cities including London, Sydney and Sao Paulo. And now it’s New York City’s turn to play, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday. Read more
The 2011 honorees were announced Thursday by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
Thirty new stars will be unveiled in pink-and-black terrazzo, with recipients from movies and TV including Gwyneth Paltrow, Donald Sutherland, Reese Witherspoon, Danny DeVito and Tina Fey.
Honorees in the recording category include Melissa Etheridge, Los Tigres Del Norte and Rascal Flatts.
The Associated Press
Capsule reviews of films opening this week:
“Toy Story 3″
This is what happens when you’re good at your job: Everyone expects excellence from you, and anything even slightly short of that feels like a letdown. “Toy Story 3″ is a gorgeous film — funny, sweet and clever in the tradition of the best Pixar movies — but because it comes from that studio’s nearly flawless tradition, including two “Toy Story” predecessors, the expectations naturally are inflated.
The storytelling in no way is in question; it never is at Pixar, which is the fundamental reason their films are so strong. Neither is the voice cast, led once again by Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack, with formidable newcomers like Ned Beatty thrown into the mix. The details are as vibrant and tactile as ever: the textures and expressions, the use of light, angles and perspective. And the core concept — that toys have a rich, complex interior life when people aren’t around — still resonates all these years later.
If “Toy Story” hadn’t come out in 1995 and “Toy Story 2″ hadn’t followed it in 1999, “Toy Story 3″ would stand on its own as a breakthrough. Trouble is, those earlier movies do exist. And by comparison, this third installment — in which Andy heads off to college and the toys end up in day care — doesn’t feel quite so fresh. Then, of course, there is the 3-D — the unfortunate trend of the summer. It’s not intrusive, but it’s also completely unnecessary. G. In 3-D and IMAX 3-D. 98 min. Three stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire
A romantic charmer that works in spite of — and maybe a bit because of — two physical mismatches that audiences are asked to accept in this story of a suitor battling his new girlfriend’s needy son, who wants mom all to himself.
One: That petite knockout Marisa Tomei and pug-faced hulk John C. Reilly could tumble into near love at first sight. Two: That petite knockout Tomei and baby-faced hulk Jonah Hill could be mother and son. Reilly and Tomei make their asymmetry work, quickly becoming one of those beauty-and-the-beast couples that make people remark, “They look so cute together!”
The movie gets kind of creepy when Tomei and Hill cuddle and tickle each other. Yet that’s where some of the best laughs come from — once you get over the ick factor of a 40-something mom getting so physical with her grown son. Sibling writer-directors Jay and Mark Duplass have a knack for wringing laughs out of uncomfortable moments, and the film is steeped in this sort of cringe-and-wince humor.
There’s a real sweetness to it at the same time, and the Duplass brothers do a great job balancing that soft side with the nastier edges underlying their story. R for language and some sexual material. 92 min. Three stars out of four.
— David Germain
“The Killer Inside Me”
Here’s the conundrum with this film: It’s well-made, yet difficult to recommend. It looks great, a mix of parched West Texas vistas and lush interiors, yet portions of it are impossible to watch without wincing. The performances are consistently strong, though, especially from star Casey Affleck as a small-town deputy sheriff in the early 1950s whose polite demeanor and boyish features belie a savage homicidal streak.
Director Michael Winterbottom also gets typically compelling work from Ned Beatty and Elias Koteas in small but crucial supporting roles. But regardless of any other elements, there are a couple of scenes here that will have everyone talking, and will divide viewers’ opinions of the entire movie. Based on the pulp fiction novel by Jim Thompson, “The Killer Inside Me” tracks the steady unraveling of a sociopath, one hidden among the people we trust to be the good guys. Affleck’s Lou Ford comes from an established family in Central City, and he has a lovely girlfriend in Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson), who’s pressuring him to get married.
Then one day, the sheriff (Tom Bower) sends him out to talk with Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba), a prostitute who’s ensnared the son (Jay R. Ferguson) of Chester Conway (Beatty), the town’s power broker. His purpose is to run her out of town. But a couple of slaps from Joyce during their confrontation unleash pent-up aggressions and desires within Lou. R for disturbing brutal violence, aberrant sexual content and some graphic nudity. 108 min. Two stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire
“8: The Mormon Proposition”
Gay marriage — and California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that stated only marriage between a man and a woman would be valid and recognized — are topics fraught with passionate debate on both sides. Which is why this documentary makes you wish it had been made by filmmakers with more creative, artful inclinations. Or at least more focus.
Director and writer Reed Cowan and co-director Steven Greenstreet depict the campaign to pass this measure — and the influential Mormon church as a massive driving force behind it — in a surprisingly dry, straightforward way. Talking heads and snippets of revealing documents are broken up with rather literal, cheesy imagery.
The stories from real people give the film emotional heft and make it somewhat worthwhile — people like Tyler Barrick and Spencer Jones, former Mormons who tearfully describe how most members of their families have ostracized them for being gay. They married each other in San Francisco in June 2008, only to have Prop 8 place the legality of that union in limbo a few months later.
Ultimately, “8” becomes an entirely different movie — a far more compelling one — when it shifts gears and focuses on the high suicide rate among gay teens in Utah. R for some language/sexual references. 78 min. Two stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire
This comic-book adaptation is so short, and so bad, you cringe at the thought of how awful whatever ended up on the cutting-room floor must be.
Take away the eight minutes of end-credits, a prologue sequence built around comic-book panels and some repetitive flashbacks of action we’ve already seen, and there’s barely an hour’s worth of actual movie. And that’s using the term “actual movie” generously. Josh Brolin has the title role as a Civil War vet turned bounty hunter, bent on vengeance against the villain (John Malkovich) who disfigured his face and killed his family.
Jonah’s tragedies somehow leave him able to interrogate the dead, a handy tool as he tracks Malkovich through a lame plot to destroy America with a doomsday weapon. Brolin tries to bring gravity to the role, but Malkovich just seems bored and Megan Fox adds to her robotic resume as Jonah’s prostitute and romantic interest.
Director Jimmy Hayward presents action that feels choppy and unfinished, at least partly the effect of cutting out explicit violence to secure a more audience-friendly rating. PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, disturbing images and sexual content. 82 min. One and a half stars out of four.
— David Germain
Kristen Stewart, left, and James Pattinson in a scene from “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.”
LOS ANGELES » The stars of “Twilight” are already looking forward to the final two installments in the vampire franchise.
Author Stephenie Meyer’s fourth and final “Twilight” book, “Breaking Dawn,” is splitting into two parts, and while scripts are still being written, star Kristen Stewart says she knows exactly where the fourth movie should end: With Bella having just given birth and Edward being forced to change her into a vampire to save her life.
“I feel like it’s so obvious where you break it up. It’s as soon as she turns,” Stewart told AP Television at a weekend publicity event for the third “Twilight” film, “Eclipse,” opening June 30. “Gosh, you open your eyes to this different world, right? That would be amazing.”
Stewart said she’s looking forward to her character’s development in the final two films, the first of which is set for release Nov. 18, 2011. Read more
Shakira dances with kids of the Isu’lihle Senior Primary School in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa last week. In anticipation of the World Cup Kick-off Celebration Concert, the pop star met with scholars and danced the “Waka Waka” from her official World Cup song.
By Donna Bryson
JOHANNESBURG » Shakira danced with school children in Soweto. Juanes debuted a single. Akon launched a clothing line.
And even a few celebrities with more than one name showed up for the World Cup.
The tournament that kicked off in Johannesburg on June 11, being held for the first time in Africa, is the biggest event on the calendar of the world’s most popular sport. It has drawn hundreds of thousands to South Africa and attracted an even bigger television audience. If you were in the business of being famous, would you miss it?
Some celebrities came to work. The main events were an opening ceremony June 11 with American singer R. Kelly, and a June 10 concert featuring Shakira, the Black Eyed Peas and Alicia Keys. That was the night Colombian rocker Juanes, in a multicolored warm-up jacket, debuted his newest single, “Yerbatero”.
Fellow Colombian Shakira was among the stars who combined work with philanthropy. She spent hours at a school in the famous Johannesburg township of Soweto, where she traded some dance steps with students and spoke with them about the importance of education.
“I wish that every kid in the world has a happy childhood and access to a good education,” she said. Read more
From left, actresses Betty White, Wendie Malick, Valerie Bertinelli, and Jane Leeves pose for a portrait on the set of the television show “Hot in Cleveland” in Studio City, Calif.
By Mike Cidoni
LOS ANGELES » It’s a sitcom about four single women of a certain age, portrayed by an ensemble that includes Betty White.
“Hot in Cleveland,” which debuts this week on TV Land, is not officially “The Golden Girls” redux. But the similarities don’t end with the set up. Just as White shared top billing with three golden character actresses (Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty), she now works with another trio of established comedy veterans: Valerie Bertinelli (“One Day at a Time”); Jane Leeves (“Frasier”); and Wendie Malick (“Just Shoot Me!”).
The four recently sat for an interview with The Associated Press on a key set for the series: the bar where three fifty-somethings (played by Bertinelli, 50; Leeves, 49; and Malick, 59) discover that while they may be past their prime in hometown Los Angeles, they are still “hot” in Cleveland. And, with that realization, they decide to stay there, moving into a house that comes complete with its own caretaker (White, 88). Read more
The 52-year-old joins the likes of James Brown, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross and Al Green in being honored by the BET Awards, which will celebrate its 10th year in Los Angeles on June 27.
BET says the Prince tribute will stand out. Stephen G. Hill, president of programming, music and specials for the network, said BET will celebrate the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s “unique style.”
“Prince is dynamic. Prince is genius. Prince is music,” Hill said of the performer, who has 10 platinum albums and 30 Top 40 singles to his name.
The BET show will be hosted by Queen Latifah and include performances by Kanye West.
On the Net:
By Charles J. Gans
Lovano is being honored by the Jazz Journalists Association for his CD “Folk Art.” It is his first album of all original compositions and features his new band Us Five that includes rising jazz stars, bassist Esperanza Spalding and drummer Francisco Mela.
In an upset, the musician of the year award went to Indian-American pianist Vijay Iyer at Monday’s awards ceremony at the City Winery club.
Two big band leaders were double winners in the voting among nearly 400 members of the Jazz Journalists Association — Maria Schneider for composer and arranger and Darcy James Argue for up and coming artist and large ensemble.
On the Net: