December 17, 2012

'SNL' honors shooting victims

NEW YORK - "Saturday Night Live" made a rare departure from its comedic opening to pay tribute to the children and adults killed at a Connecticut elementary school.

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Members of the New York City Children's Chorus sing at the beginning of "Saturday Night Live" in a tribute to those killed in Newtown, Conn.

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Jason Mraz
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Jason Mraz

Not known for treating anything seriously or tenderly, the show made a fitting exception during the first moments of its show Saturday. Rather than the usual comedic sketch, a children's choir appeared on camera and angelically sang "Silent Night," with the touching refrain, "Sleep in heavenly peace."

Then the members of the New York City Children's Chorus shouted out the NBC show's time-honored introduction: "Live from New York, it's 'Saturday Night!'"

It was the night's sole reference to the tragedy and struck just the right tone.

Later, the chorus returned to join musical guest Paul McCartney in a rendition of his "Wonderful Christmas Time."

Some of the stars dropping by for this special Christmas "SNL" included Samuel L. Jackson, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey. The guest host was Martin Short.

Concert in Myanmar puts spotlight on slavery

YANGON, Myanmar - American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz mixed entertainment with education Sunday to become the first world-class entertainer in decades to perform in Myanmar, with a concert to raise awareness of human trafficking.

Mraz's 2008 hit "I'm Yours" was the finale for the nighttime concert before a crowd of about 50,000 people at the base of the famous hilltop Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the country's biggest city.

Local artists, including a hip-hop singer, also played at the event organized by MTV in cooperation with U.S. and Australian government aid agencies and the anti-slavery organization Walk Free.

Myanmar is emerging from decades of isolation under a reformist elected government that took office last year after almost five decades of military rule.

Mraz called his appearance at the concert a "tremendous honor."

"I think the country is, at this time, downloading lots of new information from all around the world. I've always wanted my music to be here, (for) hope and celebration, peace, love and happiness. And so I'm delighted that my music can be a part of this big download that Myanmar is experiencing."

'Hobbit' sets record for opening box office

NEW YORK- Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" led the box office with a haul of $84.8 million, a record-setting opening better than the three previous "Lord of the Rings" films.

The Middle Earth epic was the biggest December opening ever, surpassing Will Smith's "I Am Legend," which opened with $77.2 million in 2007, according to studio estimates Sunday.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" also passed the December opening of "Avatar," which opened with $77 million.

Internationally, "The Hobbit" also added $138.2 million, for an impressive debut well north of $200 million.

Despite weak reviews, the 3-D adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's first novel in the fantasy series was an even bigger draw than the last "Lord of the Rings" movie, "The Return of the King." That film opened with $72.6 million.

"The Hobbit" is the first of another planned trilogy, with two more films to be squeezed out of Tolkien's book.

While Jackson's "Rings" movies drew many accolades -- "The Return of the King" won the Academy Award for best picture -- the path for "The Hobbit" has been rockier. It received no Golden Globes nominations last week.

The film was a hit with audiences. They graded the film with an "A" CinemaScore.

– From news service reports

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