Lee Daniels’ Richard Pryor Biopic to Star Mike Epps!

Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels has confirmed actor and stand-up star Mike Epps will play comedian Richard Pryor in his forthcoming biopic.

Daniels broke the news on Twitter, posting a picture of himself with Epps with Oprah Winfrey at a script reading.

Winfrey, who Daniels directed in The Butler, will play Pryor’s grandmother.

Epps, who has acted in The Hangover and Resident Evil, also posted a photo of himself kissing the ring of Pryor’s widow Jennifer Lee, for “the blessing”.

Several other stars, including America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon, Michael B Jordan and Marlon Wayans, were reported to have been in talks to play Pryor in the film.

Known for his x-rated routines, Pryor is widely regarded as one of America’s most influential comedians.

Before Pryor’s death from a heart attack in December 2005 at the age of 65, both he and his wife had earmarked Epps to play him in a film that they would have produced.

The comedian had suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years prior to his death.

Epps, who called Pryor “the wizard of comedy”, has since played him in 2013’s still-to-be-released biopic Nina, starring Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone.

Winfrey also took to social media to announce the casting, posting a picture on her Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Using the hashtag #RichardPryorMovie, she wrote that she, Daniels and Epp had “just finished a great 1st read session”.

Winfrey will play Pryor’s grandmother Marie Carter, according to Entertainment Tonight. The pair had a complicated relationship as he grew up in the brothel she ran.

British actor and comedian Lenny Henry revealed last week that he was working on a play based on Pryor’s life, at London’s National Theatre.

However, the production is still in the early workshopping stage, according to the theatre.

Raina Ton Sets Up Huge India Win Over England!

Suresh Raina’s dynamic century laid the platform for world champions India’s crushing 133-run win over England in the second one-day international at Cardiff on Wednesday.

Victory gave India a 1-0 lead in the five-match series following Monday’s washout in Bristol and saw them return to winning ways after their 3-1 defeat by England in the preceding Test series.

Man-of-the-match Raina’s innings was the cornerstone of India’s imposing 304 for six after England captain Alastair Cook won the toss.

England, chasing a rain-adjusted 295 off 47 overs in reply, were well-placed at 54 for none.

But they lost all 10 wickets for 107 runs as they collapsed to 161 all out in 38.1 overs.

Prior to this match, former England stars Michael Vaughan and Graeme Swann had slammed the team’s old-fashioned approach to one-day cricket and this performance appeared to vindicate that criticism.

The one consolation for England, who will try to win the World Cup for the first time in four decades of trying in Australia and New Zealand next year, was that opener Alex Hales marked his ODI debut with an innings top-score of 40.

Spin, as has so often been the case, proved England’s Achilles heel with left-armer Ravindra Jadeja taking four for 28 in seven overs.

India were in trouble at 19 for two before a stand of 91 between Rohit Sharma (52) and Ajinkya Rahane (41) revived the innings.

Left-hander Raina, who made exactly 100, and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (52), then took the game way from England with a fifth-wicket stand of 144.

Chris Woakes led England’s attack with four for 52 in his 10 overs, with off-spinner James Tredwell (two for 42) the only other wicket-taking bowler in the innings.

“One-day cricket is a very different format and gives the players freedom to express themselves and get back into form,” Dhoni told Sky Sports.

Meanwhile England captain Alastair Cook admitted: “We didn’t play well at all,” he said.

“All credit to MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina who took the game away from us and we were slow to react.

“Even when we batted, it wasn’t a 160 wicket…We have to dust ourselves down and play better.”

England didn’t help themselves by bowling 16 wides, with paceman Chris Jordan contributing 12 — the equivalent of two extra overs — in an expensive return of none for 73.

Woakes struck twice in the seventh over, having opener Shikhar Dhawan caught behind before dismissing Virat Kohli for a duck as his miserable tour of England continued when a powerful drive found Cook at mid-off.

There was a case for keeping the new ball duo of James Anderson and Woakes going.

But Cook’s double bowling change, bringing on seam-bowling all-rounders Jordan and Ben Stokes (none for 54 in seven overs) saw India cut loose.

Tredwell briefly staunched the flow of runs by having Rahane stumped and dismissing Sharma.

Raina, however, launched Woakes for two sixes in four balls, with India scoring 62 runs in their five batting powerplay overs.

Raina completed a century off just 74 balls, including 12 fours and three sixes before he holed out off Woakes to Anderson, on the cover boundary.

Hales, who scored England’s first Twenty20 hundred, against Sri Lanka in March, helped the hosts a steady start to their chase.

But when left-handed opener Cook, going across his stumps, was lbw to Mohammed Shami for 19, it was the start of a collapse from which England never recovered.

Three balls later Shami bowled Ian Bell (one) as the batsman left a nip-backer.

A similar delivery, this time from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, cleaned up Joe Root.

Hales had looked good early on but then got bogged down, scoring just 10 singles off his last 34 balls.

He was out when he top-edged a sweep off Jadeja’s fourth ball to short fine leg.

Raina then starred with he ball when he had Jordan plumb lbw for a duck and the match ended when Tredwell holed out off Ashwin.

Lankan Biz Throng First Seychelles Forum in Colombo!

No less than 130 reps from 125 Lankan firms thronged the first bilateral B2B call between Sri Lanka and Seychelles biz ever to be held in Colombo on 27 August. “Today’s event can be a stepping stone for more bilateral trade between both countries, which is an urgent need at this moment. The total bilateral trade has been low at only $3.7 Mn. Today’s initiative therefore is a major step in this direction” said Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka) on 27 August in Colombo.

Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the inauguration of “Seychelles Trade and Investment Forum-Sri Lanka:

Fostering Economic Partnership” event organised by the EDB and held on 27 August in Colombo. More than 130 Lankan private sector representatives from 125 companies packed the three hour long in-depth session of presentations of 27 August. Seychelles’ 20 member delegation is led by Pierre Laporte (Minister for Finance, Trade and Investment of Seychelles), and joined by Rupert Simeon (CEO of Seychelles Investment Board), Mrs Anne Lafortune (Principal Secretary – Department of Tourism), Glenny Savvy (CEO-Island Development Company) as well as such Seychelles firms as Le Grand Trianon Marie-Antoinette Restaurant, SAP Construction, INOVATECH Trading, Doubleclick Exchange, Fashion and Sportsworld, Silver Crystal Home Décor, Seychelles Trading Company, and Clifford International Business Services joining the visiting Sri Lankan delegation.

Sri Lankan firms operating in Seychelles such as Bank of Ceylon, Sanken Overseas and Seychelles government institutions such as Seychelles Investment Board, Seychelles Fishing Authority, and Seychelles Tourism Department were also taking part in the delegation.

Addressing the event, Minister Bathiudeen said: “Being Indian Ocean Islands, both countries share many long standing issues, trends, as well as benefits that are similar in nature with historic friendship. Relations between Seychelles and Sri Lanka became stronger after the visits of Heads of States from both countries to each other’s starting in 2010. The visit of His Excellency President of Seychelles Mr James Michel to Sri Lanka four years ago around this time in 2010, followed by our President His Excellency Mahinda Rajapasa’s visit to Seychelles in 2013 and this June, as well as the opening of Sri Lanka High Commission in Seychelles this year have brought bilateral cooperation and understanding to new levels. It is important for us to discover in what context this bilateral trade and business cooperation would be placed–in that how a Forum of this nature, could be leveraged.”

Minister said, “I believe that there are many avenues and possibilities but an important answer is in the gateway synergies of both countries. In that, just as Seychelles is the gateway of investment and trade to African continent, Sri Lanka too is the hub and the gateway to the more than 1.2 billion South Asian market. It is time that investors and businesses at both sides, make use of these potentials. Today’s business forum is a way to unlock these bigger opportunities. For example Seychelles investors, entering Sri Lanka can consider manufacturing partnerships here and make use of our FTAs with India and Pakistan, to access the South Asian markets. I am pleased that with today’s event can be a stepping stone for more bilateral trade, which is an urgent need at this moment. The total bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Seychelles has been low at only $3.7 Million in 2013. Main products exported from Sri Lanka include, tea, fishing vessels, cereals and sausages, and the main import from, Seychelles are some spices. We believe that our gems and jewellery, furniture, other types of vessels, seafood and plastic products, to have strong potential in Seychelles market. It is time we find ways to increase this, low bilateral trade and today’s initiative, is a major step in this direction.”

Sri Lankan Minister also said, “I think we could both agree that, connectivity too is an important component to enhance cooperation between us. Mihin Airlines commenced flights to Seychelles last November and SriLankan Airlines too has code share arrangements, between Sri Lanka and Seychelles. Equally important is maritime cooperation. Hon Mr Jean Paul Adam, the Foreign Minister of Seychelles who paid a courtesy call on me in 2012 April, informed me that Sri Lanka has become, Seychelles’ ship building hub, which is good news for us. We have almost 25 active boat yards delivering high standard vessels. Of this 25, six are directly exporting their boats. This is yet another promising investment opening for Seychelles investors. I am pleased to say our annual boat exports around the world have increased by 45% to $ 82Mn in 2013. Despite several leading Lankan business enterprises, such as Bank of Ceylon, Nawaloka, and Sri Lanka Insurance, have actively investing in Seychelles, we observe that Seychelles investors are yet to partner here. Therefore we invite Seychelles investors to partner with us and begin investing here. We allow 100% ownership for foreign investors, profit repatriation, as well as constitutional guarantee of safety for global investors. Specifically, Seychelles investors can, leverage such synergies as travel and tourism, fisheries, boats as well as maritime cooperation with Sri Lanka. Seychelles’ previous experience in creating joint Seychelles-Africa tour packages can help formulate Seychelles-South Asia travel packages via Sri Lanka. I also invite “Seychelles Tourism” to tap the surging Sri Lankan tourist market.”

According to the Department of Commerce, the total bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Seychelles was reported at $3.7 Mn in 2013. Main products exported from Sri Lanka included tea, fishing vessels, cereals and sausages, while the main import from Seychelles was some spices. Sri Lanka believes that gems and jewellery, furniture, other types of ocean vessels, seafood and plastic products, to have strong market potential in Seychelles. As for COMESA, it began in 1994 and currently has 21 member states (Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) opening an African market of 390 million.

Addressing the event, Minister Laporte said: “I have been following Sri Lanka closely. We are impressed by Sri Lanka’s development. Seychelles and Sri Lanka share similarities and has a special friendship. The bilateral cooperation has seen renewed momentum in exchange of expertise in various fields such as education health maritime nautical services legal aviation and defence. Our government is committed to further strengthen the affinity of people of Seychelles and Sri Lanka. We continue to overcome the constraints shared by us as Island nations. Given our strategic location at East of Africa, and South of Asia and the Middle East, Seychelles in very accessible and open for business. We continue to attract investors from all parts of the globe. We hope today’s forum can create opportunities for both countries. We see ample opportunities in key sectors such as tourism, industries, fisheries, renewable energy, financial services, agriculture etc. With the recent provision of offshore financial services, our financial services have grown. Our close collaboration with OECD countries will ensure that our country will follow highest standards once we accede to WTO. We have seen an improvement in the quality of our human resources recently. We have a network of membership to Indian Ocean Commission and Indian Ocean Ring. We are vigorously engaged in signing agreements with countries of African continent as the gateway to Africa. This Forum today is also an effort to extend our international cooperation opportunities. This is the first that we organised this year. I hope this forum will entice you to commence business with Seychelles. I convey my gratitude to government of Sri Lanka-specially to the Minister and Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka as well as the External Affairs Ministry of Sri Lanka.”

Bandula Egodage (Chairman & CEO-EDB), addressing the event said: “This is a remarkable milestone. EDB is entrusted with enhancing exports of the country. The three objectives of this Forum by EDB are to create awareness on investment opportunities at both countries for each other, provide information on potential trade opportunities and thirdly, find networking opportunities.”

Happy Birthday Lasith Malinga!

ABOUT
Fast bowler known for a slinging round-arm action who is Sri Lanka’s vice-captain of their T20 side and is the first bowler to have two World Cup hat-tricks.

BEFORE FAME
He grew up playing Cricket in Rathgama, Sri Lanka.

TRIVIA
His highest recorded speed was 155.7 km/h (96.8 mph) in 2011.

FAMILY LIFE
He married Tanya Perera in 2010.

ASSOCIATED WITH
The great Viv Richards praised Malinga’s skills.

Kate Bush Comeback Greeted With Huge Cheers!

Kate Bush has made her stage comeback to an ecstatic response from fans at her first live concert for 35 years.

Bush received a standing ovation as she closed the show with Cloudbusting, from her 1985 hit album The Hounds of Love.

The 56-year-old British star was appearing at London’s Hammersmith Apollo – scene of her last live show in 1979.

Tuesday night’s three-hour set kicked off a run of 22 shows – titled Before the Dawn – which sold out in minutes.

Afterwards she thanked fans for their “warm and positive response”.

Backed by seven musicians, Bush opened the show with Lily – from the 1993 album Red Shoes.

There was a huge roar from the crowd as Bush appeared on stage – barefoot and dressed in black – leading her five backing singers.

“It’s so good to be here – thank you so much,” she told the cheering crowd.

She later introduced one of the backing chorus as her teenage son Bertie who, the star said, had given her the “courage” to return to the stage.

The first half of the show included the 1985 single Running Up That Hill and, from the same Hounds of Love album, the song suite The Ninth Wave – which combined video, theatre and dance to tell the story of a woman lost at sea.

After an interval the second act was dominated by songs from Bush’s 2005 album Aerial.

There were no songs from Bush’s first four albums, which meant fans did not get to hear early classics such as Wuthering Heights, The Man with the Child in his Eyes or Babooshka.

But fans did not seem to mind missing out.

Julie Beynon, from Glasgow, told the BBC: “That was really surprising. I noticed she played a lot from Aerial which I didn’t have a problem with. I think it might reference the fact she was much happier in that period of her life. It felt quite joyous and celebratory.”

She added: “I’m not disappointed – I thought it was stunning comeback. To me it was like musical theatre but with Kate Bush songs. It was a a weird hybrid of different styles, and completely innovative.”

Elizabeth Hobson, from Enfield, said: “She does what she wants to do. We might have liked to hear some of the songs we love from a while back – but hopefully everybody’s going to be really nice about it and we might see some more of her at a later date.”

The audience also resisted taking photos or video, as the singer had requested.

Bush said on her website last week: “I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras.”