Newtown TV Coverage, ‘Girls’ win Peabody Awards

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A local TV station’s coverage of the Connecticut school massacre, the HBO drama “Girls,” and a public-service campaign about Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts’ medical battle were among 39 Peabody Award winners announced Wednesday.

Recipients of the 72nd annual Peabody Awards were announced by the University of Georgia’s journalism school. They were chosen by the Peabody board as the best electronic media works of 2012.

Connecticut station WVIT-TV won an award for its “quick response and comprehensive coverage” of the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Other winners for journalistic works included ABC News for its coverage of Superstorm Sandy. The network embedded a reporting team with a family in Breezy Point, N.Y., according to a description of the winning entries.

Documentaries receiving awards included “MLK: The Assassination Tapes,” which aired on the Smithsonian Channel. The film was “painstakingly configured” from rare footage collected at the University of Memphis in 1968. It covers events leading up to the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and its aftermath.

“Game Change,” an HBO film about Sarah Palin’s rise to the national political spotlight, also won a Peabody.

International winners include “Rapido y Furioso,” a Univision program examining the “Fast and Furious” federal law enforcement operation targeting gun trafficking in the U.S. and Mexico. From Canada, the documentary “Under Fire: Journalists in Combat” explored the mindset of war correspondents and the dangers of their occupation.

Entertainment winners included the FX series “Louie;” TNT’s “Southland” police drama; and the ABC family drama “Switched at Birth.”

The entries represent “an astonishing array of outstanding media accomplishment,” said Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards.

“Our list of Peabody recipients for 2012 demonstrates the range of superb work,” he said. “From local to national to international, from radio to television, broadcast to cable to web, the Peabody sets the goals for every type of media production. We’ll continue to do this, no matter how the world of electronic media develops.”

Some of this year’s winner’s highlighted relatively new forms of electronic story-telling, such as the New York Times’ multi-media production “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek.” The online site chronicles what happened to skiers and snowboarders who were caught in an avalanche.

The 39 Peabody Awards will be formally presented at a luncheon on May 20 in New York. (AP)
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Online: Peabody Awards: http://peabodyawards.com/

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President Obama Picks Indiana to Win NCAA Title

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President Barack Obama is picking Indiana to win the NCAA title.
Obama chose the Hoosiers to go all the way in his 2013 NCAA bracket, which was revealed Wednesday on ESPN.
Florida, Louisville, and Ohio State rounded out his Final Four in Atlanta. Indiana and Louisville are each No. 1 seeds. Ohio State is a No. 2 seed and Florida is a No. 3 seed. (AP)

‘Great Gatsby’ to Open Cannes Film Festival

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The Cannes Film Festival has an American flavor this year, with a Hollywood icon heading the jury and a quintessential U.S. literary figure opening the event: The Great Gatsby.
Organizers said Tuesday the film “The Great Gatsby,” with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role and directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann, will open this year’s Cannes festival — in 3-D, no less.
Luhrmann stressed the film’s French connection, saying in a statement that author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “some of the most poignant and beautiful passages” of “The Great Gatsby” at a French Riviera villa not far from Cannes. Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan also star in Luhrmann’s version of the 1925 novel.
Steven Spielberg is heading the jury at the Cannes festival this year, which runs May 15-26. (AP)

Researcher: Zombie Fads Peak When Society Unhappy

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Zombies seem to be everywhere these days.
In the popular TV series “The Walking Dead,” humans struggle to escape from a pack of zombies hungry for flesh. Prank alerts have warned of a zombie apocalypse on radio stations in a handful of states. And across the country, zombie wannabes in tattered clothes occasionally fill local parks, gurgling moans of the undead.
Are these just unhealthy obsessions with death and decay? To Clemson University professor Sarah Lauro, the phenomenon isn’t harmful or a random fad, but part of a historical trend that mirrors a level of cultural dissatisfaction and economic upheaval.
Lauro, who teaches English at Clemson, studied zombies while working on her doctoral degree at the University of California at Davis. Lauro said she keeps track of zombie movies, television shows and video games, but her research focuses primarily on the concept of the “zombie walk,” a mass gathering of people who, dressed in the clothes and makeup of the undead, stagger about and dance.
It’s a fascination that, for Lauro, a self-described “chicken,” seems unnatural. Disinterested in violent movies or games, Lauro said she finds herself now taking part in both in an attempt to further understand what makes zombie-lovers tick.
“I hate violence,” she said. “I can’t stand gore. So it’s a labor, but I do it.”
The zombie mob originated in 2003 in Toronto, Lauro said, and popularity escalated dramatically in the United States in 2005, alongside a rise in dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq.
“It was a way that the population was getting to exercise the fact that they felt like they hadn’t been listened to by the Bush administration,” Lauro said. “Nobody really wanted that war, and yet we were going to war anyway.”
The mid- to late 2000s also saw an uptick in overall zombie popularity, perhaps prompted in part by the release of post-apocalyptic movies including “Dawn of the Dead” and “28 Days Later.”
As of last year, Lauro said, zombie walks had been documented in 20 countries. The largest gathering drew more than 4,000 participants at the New Jersey Zombie Walk in Asbury Park, N.J., in October 2010, according to Guinness World Records.
“We are more interested in the zombie at times when as a culture we feel disempowered,” Lauro said. “And the facts are there that, when we are experiencing economic crises, the vast population is feeling disempowered. … Either playing dead themselves … or watching a show like ‘Walking Dead’ provides a great variety of outlets for people.”
But, Lauro pointed out, the display of dissatisfaction isn’t always a conscious expression of that feeling of frustration.
“If you were to ask the participants, I don’t think that all of them are very cognizant of what they’re saying when they put on the zombie makeup and participate,” she said. “To me, it’s such an obvious allegory. We feel like, in one way, we’re dead.” (AP)

Jolie-Pitt Wine Snapped Up in 5 Hours

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Nine little letters on the back of the bottle set this rose wine apart from other fruits of the Provence grape harvest: Jolie-Pitt.
The Miraval Rose 2012 was produced at the southern French estate of Chateau Miraval — property of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
It’s the first Miraval vintage stamped by the Hollywood couple, in a joint venture with established vintner Marc Perrin. The back label reads “bottled by Jolie-Pitt and Perrin.”
The Perrin family spokesman says the first 6,000 bottles put on sale online Thursday were bought within five hours. The wine sold for (euro) 105 ($139) for a 6-bottle case.
There was no immediate comment from publicists for Pitt and Jolie.
The wine, in a bottom-heavy, champagne-like bottle, goes on sale to restaurants and wholesalers later this month. (AP)

Jon Stewart Taking ‘Daily Show’ Break to Direct Film

Comedy Central says Jon Stewart will take a break from “The Daily Show” starting in June to direct and produce his first feature film.
The network said Tuesday that correspondent-writer John Oliver will host the fake news show for the eight weeks of original episodes scheduled during Stewart’s hiatus. The British-born Oliver has been a “Daily Show” regular since 2006.
Stewart is expected back in the anchor chair shortly after Labor Day, Sept. 2.
The film, titled “Rosewater,” was written by Stewart and is based on a book by Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari.
London resident Bahari was falsely accused of being a spy and imprisoned by the Iranian government in 2009 while covering Iran’s presidential election. Before being jailed, he was interviewed in Iran by “Daily Show” correspondent Jason Jones. (AP)