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Archive for Monday, April 9, 2007

People in the news

April 9, 2007

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Imelda Staunton says playing villainess takes 'proper acting'

New York - Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton wasn't exactly flattered when a friend first suggested she'd be perfect for the part of Harry Potter's first female nemesis, Dolores Umbridge.

"I read the book, and Umbridge is described as a short, ugly, toadlike woman," Staunton told Newsweek. "I thought, 'Oh, thanks very much.'"

But Staunton ended up playing the villainess as an "apple-cheeked schoolmarm - drenched in pink angora," the magazine says. In "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the fifth movie based on the J.K. Rowling series, Umbridge is a new teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry bent on restricting free thought.

Staunton, who was nominated for a best-actress Academy Award for playing Vera Drake in the eponymous 2004 movie, says the Potter role is no joke.

"You may think that it's just a bunch of hand-waving, but there's a lot of proper acting going on," she said.

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is to be released July 13.

Cartoonist Johnny Hart, creator of 'B.C.', dies at 76

Endicott, N.Y. - Cartoonist Johnny Hart, whose award-winning "B.C." comic strip appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers worldwide, died at his home on Saturday. He was 76.

"He had a stroke," Hart's wife, Bobby, said on Sunday. "He died at his storyboard."

"B.C.," populated by prehistoric cavemen and dinosaurs, was launched in 1958 and eventually appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers with an audience of 100 million, according to Creators Syndicate, Inc., which distributes it.

After he graduated from Union-Endicott High School, Hart met Brant Parker, a young cartoonist who became a prime influence and co-creator with Hart of the "Wizard of Id" comic strip.

Hart enlisted in the Air Force and began producing cartoons for Pacific Stars and Stripes. He sold his first freelance cartoon to the Saturday Evening Post after his discharge from the military in 1954.

Later in his career, some of Hart's cartoons had religious themes, a reflection of his own Christian faith. That sometimes led to controversy.

Besides his wife, Hart is survived by two daughters, Patti and Perri. He was a native of Endicott, about 135 miles northwest of New York City, and drew his comic strip at a studio in his home there until the day he died.

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