Indonesian claims fame as Obama look-alike

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Striding purposefully, his smile lighting up a rainy afternoon, Barack Obama appears to have arrived here early to tour an elementary school he attended as a boy. But wait. It’s not him. The U.S. president is still back in Washington shepherding his health care bill toward passage.

So who is this guy?

He’s Ilham Anas, a 34-year-old teen-magazine photographer who has parlayed a striking resemblance to the American president into his own brand of celebrity — and wealth.

Since his sister told him in 2007 that he looked like the then-presidential candidate, Anas’ face and megawatt smile have been seen on Southeast Asian TV and the Internet, pitching over-the-counter medicine and other products.

He has also appeared on his nation’s premier television talk show and had a cameo in a movie, all while fielding offers from marketers across Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Anas is the first to admit it: He’s an impostor, a walking mannequin out of Madame Tussauds. But he’ll also tell you this: He’s in incredible demand.

“I’ve got so much work I can’t handle it all,” he says. He’s even penned an autobiography, “Because of Obama.” The jacket review says Anas’ resemblance to the president has “turned his life around 180 degrees.”

But it hasn’t been easy.

When his sister first commented on the resemblance, Anas says, he dismissed her with a wave of his hand. “I was in denial,” he recalls. “I said: ‘Nah. I don’t care.’“

Then a colleague at the magazine where he works asked him to pose as Obama wearing a power suit, in front of an American flag. At first he refused.

“I told him that I’m a photographer, not an object for the camera,” he says.

As soon as he relented, his career took off.

Paramount waging 3-D war

LOS ANGELES – In the wake of the blockbuster “Avatar,” Hollywood’s obsession with 3-D has hit a roadblock.

Paramount Pictures is using high-pressure tactics against theaters to book DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming big-budget 3-D film, “How to Train Your Dragon” onto scarce 3-D screens around the country, according to industry executives.

“Dragon,” opening March 26, will be going head to head against the swords-and-sandal 3-D picture “Clash of the Titans,” from Warner Bros., which opens a week later, and Disney’s 3-D “Alice in Wonderland,” expected to remain in theaters for several more weeks.

Paramount Pictures is telling theaters that if they don’t show the upcoming DreamWorks-produced “Dragon,” on a 3-D screen, then it will withhold from the theater a 2-D version of the movie to play instead, according to four theater industry executives, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

“The message is: If you have one 3-D screen available and you don’t play (“Dragon”), they’re not going to give you the version in 2-D,” one California theater operator said. “It’s an underhanded threat.”

Lawmaker eulogizes rocker

WASHINGTON – As speeches in Congress go, this one was remarkably brief – and poignant.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., took to the floor Thursday to offer a statement on the passing of rock musician and singer Alex Chilton, who died of an apparent heart attack Wednesday in New Orleans at 59. The tribute, posted on YouTube, was tweeted and posted on Facebook by fans and rock cognoscenti, with many remarking on how touching and appropriate the eulogy was.

Just under two minutes, Cohen’s off-the-cuff remarks captured the independent spirit and artistic achievements of the musician who was highly regarded and influential. Cohen quoted lyrics from “The Letter,” a song that a 16-year-old Chilton and the Box Tops took to the top of the charts in 1967.


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