Egypt Independent: Arts-Main news en True crime takes the small screen by storm in the USA <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Turning&nbsp;real-life criminal cases into fictional or documentary series is a new favourite strategy for American TV networks, with Netflix, HBO, FX and CBS all trying their hand at the true crime genre.</p><p><strong>Documentary series</strong></p><p>Back in December, Netflix electrified social networks and fed numerous debates in the American media with its documentary series&nbsp;Making a Murderer. This factual ten-parter was filmed over the course of 10 years and follows the story of Steven Avery. After spending 18 years in jail for sexual assault and attempted murder, Avery was exonerated by a DNA test. After filing a lawsuit for US$36 million in damages for the legal error, he was arrested two years later on suspicion of murdering another woman, only to be convicted by the same county that found him guilty 20 years before.</p><p>A few months earlier, HBO scored a hit with&nbsp;The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, a similar show with six episodes. While filming the series, its director Andrew Jarecki managed to obtain a confession of sorts from Robert Durst, suspected for 30 years of murdering his wife, a close friend and a neighbour. Forgetting that his microphone was still on while visiting the bathroom during an interview, Durst inadvertently revealed the truth, admitting to the three murders. This surprise revelation ensured surefire success for&nbsp;The Jinx &mdash; especially since Robert Durst was arrested the day before the last episode aired &mdash; but it also raised several ethical questions.</p><p>Now CBS has a documentary series in the works based on the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, a six-year-old girl who was found dead in her parents&#39; basement in 1996. The case, which stirred strong emotions in America at the time, still remains unsolved, as police were never able to establish enough credible evidence to identify a murderer.</p><p>The series will look at the case over a series of episodes, due to air in autumn 2016 on the network, 20 years after events. This latest true crime show comes in a long line of similar productions in a genre that&#39;s been popular on the US small screen since 2015.</p><p><strong>Fictional reconstructions</strong></p><p>To avoid any legal issues, other networks have played it safe with fictional reconstructions of true crime cases. John Travolta, Cuba Gooding Jr and David Schwimmer recently starred in the first season of&nbsp;American Crime Story, based on the highly mediatised trial of O.J. Simpson. The series, which aired February 2 to April 5, 2016, on FX, will be back next year with a new case as its focus.</p><p>NBC has delved into history for an upcoming fictional series, called&nbsp;Law &amp; Order: True Crime, based on the trial of the Menendez brothers. This fictional drama reenacts a trial that kept America on tenterhooks in the 1990s, as Lyle and Erik Menendez stood accused of murdering their parents.</p> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:27:00 +0000 AFP 2469104 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/11/28/43/watching_.jpg Music helps babies learn speech, says study <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Babies&nbsp;who engage in musical play may have an easier time picking up language skills, suggested a study Monday.</p><p>US researchers compared nine-month-old babies who played with toys and trucks to those who practised banging out a rhythm during a series of play sessions.</p><p>They found that the musical group showed more brain activity in regions involved with detecting patterns, an important skill when it comes to learning language.</p><p>&quot;Our study is the first in young babies to suggest that experiencing a rhythmic pattern in music can also improve the ability to detect and make predictions about rhythmic patterns in speech,&quot; said lead author Christina Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher the University of Washington&#39;s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS).</p><p>&quot;This means that early, engaging musical experiences can have a more global effect on cognitive skills.&quot;</p><p>The study was small, enrolling just 39 babies and their parents, who took part in a dozen 15-minute play sessions over the course of a month.</p><p>Twenty of the babies listened to recorded children&#39;s music while they sat with their parents and helped pound out drum beats to music that included waltz rhythms and tunes like&nbsp;Take Me Out to the Ballgame, a baseball classic.</p><p>The other 19 babies also attended active play sessions that used toys and blocks, but without music.</p><p>&quot;In both the music and control groups, we gave babies experiences that were social, required their active involvement and included body movements &mdash; these are all characteristics that we know help people learn,&quot; Zhao said.</p><p>&quot;The key difference between the play groups was whether the babies were moving to learn a musical rhythm.&quot;</p><p>When the babies underwent brain scans &mdash; known as magnetoencephalography (MEG) &mdash; at the end of the month, researchers wanted to see how they differed.</p><p>So they had the babies listen to speech and music sounds that occasionally contained a disruption in the cadence, or flow of sound.</p><p>Babies in the music group showed stronger brain responses in both the auditory and the prefrontal cortex, which are involved in controlling attention and detecting patterns, the study found.</p><p>&quot;Pattern perception is an important cognitive skill, and improving that ability early may have long-lasting effects on learning,&quot; said co-author Patricia Kuhl, co-director of I-LABS.</p><p>&quot;Schools across our nation are decreasing music experiences for our children, saying they are too expensive,&quot; added Kuhl.</p><p>&quot;This research reminds us that the effects of engaging in music go beyond music itself. Music experience has the potential to boost broader cognitive skills that enhance children&#39;s abilities to detect, expect and react quickly to patterns in the world, which is highly relevant in today&#39;s complex world.&quot;</p><p>The study was published in the &quot;Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences&quot;, a peer-reviewed US journal.</p> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:23:00 +0000 AFP 2469103 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/04/26/43/babies_-afp_c1778835_16426_360.jpg Jennifer Aniston named 'World's Most Beautiful Woman' by People <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>At 47, Jennifer Aniston is appreciative of how she is aging.<br /><br />So is People magazine. It has named the actress the &quot;World&#39;s Most Beautiful Woman&quot; for 2016.<br /><br />Aniston declared herself &quot;very, very flattered&quot; by the honor. She counts women such as Gloria Steinem, Lauren Hutton and Brigitte Bardot as her beauty icons.<br /><br />She told People she feels her most beautiful after a workout.<br /><br />&quot;It&#39;s funny, it&#39;s a really quick transition from not a care and now all of a sudden, we&#39;ve got to really be mindful of what we put inside our bodies,&quot; she said.<br /><br />&quot;And how we sleep and take care of ourselves. You can get away with a lot in your 20s.&quot;<br /><br />It&#39;s the second such cover for Aniston who also received the accolade in 2004. Last year&#39;s winner was Sandra Bullock.</p> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 17:34:00 +0000 CNN 2469080 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/08/07/43/130213095855-power-couples-jennifer-aniston-and-justin-theroux-horizontal-large-gallery.jpg Beyonce celebrates black women in intricate album-film <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Pop superstar Beyonce on Saturday released a musically diverse new album in the form of a film as she paid a bold tribute to the perseverance of African American women.<br /><br />&quot;Lemonade&quot; was advertised only as a special on cable network HBO but, in a move anticipated by her passionate fan base, she dropped an album by the same name in the middle of the broadcast.<br /><br />The &quot;visual-album&quot; marks the second straight work in which the 34-year-old pop queen has experimented with merging formats &ndash; which could also include social media, where &quot;Lemonade&quot; quickly became a top trending topic.<br /><br />The film, crafted through the album&#39;s songs and verse from the Somali-British poet Warsan Shire against a Southern Gothic backdrop, follows Beyonce&#39;s emotional journey as she tackles infidelity but also the larger experience of African American women.<br /><br />Beyonce&#39;s sixth studio album brings in a range of musical all-stars, with &quot;Don&#39;t Hurt Yourself&quot; co-written by members of Led Zeppelin and the most anthem-like track, &quot;Freedom,&quot; featuring acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar.<br /><br />The movie opens with accusations of betrayal as Beyonce struts across New Orleans, smashing up cars as she rages against the sexual transgressions of her partner.<br /><br />&quot;You ain&#39;t married to no average b****, boy,&quot; she proclaims on &quot;Don&#39;t Hurt Yourself,&quot; performed with garage rocker Jack White.<br /><br />&quot;This is your final warning / You know I give you life,&quot; Beyonce sings, warning that if her husband&#39;s infidelity does not end, &quot;you&#39;re gonna lose your wife.&quot;<br /><br /><strong>Making most with &#39;lemons&#39;</strong><br /><br />The subject matter immediately triggered a fury of speculation on social media that &quot;Lemonade&quot; was an artistic announcement of separation from her real-life husband, rap mogul Jay-Z.<br /><br />But toward the end of the film, Beyonce heads into a chapter entitled &quot;Forgiveness&quot; as she is seen embracing a sullen Jay-Z, whose best-known songs before his 2008 marriage included &quot;Big Pimpin&#39;.&quot;<br /><br />In further evidence that they are still together, Beyonce released the album of &quot;Lemonade&quot; exclusively on the Tidal streaming service led by Jay-Z.<br /><br />Beyonce, who appears alongside African American women throughout the film, draws the theme of &quot;Lemonade&quot; early on with a snippet from late civil rights leader Malcolm X, who says: &quot;The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.&quot;<br /><br />But their pain, in &quot;Lemonade,&quot; is not just about infidelity. In one of its film&#39;s most powerful moments, the camera turns without comment to the mothers of three young African American men -- Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin &ndash; whose deaths have triggered nationwide outrage, as the women lovingly clutch their son&#39;s pictures.<br /><br />Beyonce reinforces the maternal theme with a snippet from her own late grandmother, Agnez Dereon, who says: &quot;I had my ups and downs but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;I was served lemons, but I made lemonade,&quot; she says.<br /><br /><strong>Branching out musically</strong><br /><br />Beyonce &ndash; who became a superstar on innocuous songs such as &quot;Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)&quot; &ndash; startled many listeners in February when she put out the first &quot;Lemonade&quot; single, &quot;Formation,&quot; whose video takes the mantle of the Black Lives Matter movement.<br /><br />&quot;Formation&quot; &ndash; which appears only in the closing credits of the &quot;Lemonade&quot; film &ndash; shows Beyonce&#39;s increasingly diverse musical instincts with the song driven by New Orleans-style bounce hip-hop.<br /><br />Beyonce wrote two songs on &quot;Lemonade&quot; with Diplo, the Los Angeles electronic producer who has crafted Justin Bieber&#39;s new sound, and even fuses in touches of country, as well as New Orleans jazz, on &quot;Daddy Lessons.&quot;<br /><br />The pop star also tapped The Weeknd and Father John Misty, sensations in R&amp;B and indie rock respectively, and adapts a chorus from punk revivalists the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.<br />Yet she also returns to the big-hearted ballads for which she is renowned on &quot;Sandcastles,&quot; written with the Chicago poet Malik Yusef.<br /><br />&quot;Lemonade&quot; is Beyonce&#39;s first full-length album since her self-titled release in late 2013.<br /><br />The &quot;Beyonce&quot; album also incorporated a strong visual component, with short films to accompany the music.<br /><br />But the theme of the 2013 album was far different, as it dealt with passion and monogamy, with the song &quot;Drunk In Love&quot; an ode to marital bliss sung in duet with Jay-Z.</p> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 17:30:00 +0000 AFP 2469079 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/23/43/lead_large.jpg