x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Singer Youssou Ndour to challenge president in Senegal election

Today in entertainment: Aretha Franklin engaged; Bollywood's Players stars travel for Dubai premiere; Cee Lo Green angers Lennon fans; Amitabh Bachchan mobbed by fans at home; and more.

Dakar TV viewers watch the singer Youssou Ndour announce his candidacy in Senegal's presidential election.
Dakar TV viewers watch the singer Youssou Ndour announce his candidacy in Senegal's presidential election.

The singer Youssou Ndour, who was in Abu Dhabi for Womad in 2009, is to stand for election as president of his native Senegal, in a bid to unseat the incumbent Abdoulaye Wade, whose plans to seek a third term have triggered unrest.

"I am a candidate," the country's most famous export declared late on Monday on his privately owned television station, after weeks of speculation about his plans.

"I have listened, I have heard, and I am responding favourably," Ndour said, referring to numerous requests that he throw his hat into the political ring. He hopes to use his massive star power to overthrow the 85-year-old Wade in the February 26 election.

Ndour, 52, announced at a concert at the end of November that he had put performing on hold and formed his own political movement, Fekke ma ci bolle ("I am involved" in the Wolof language).

Hailed by The New York Times as "one of the world's greatest singers", Ndour has achieved huge international success with his mixture of Senegal's popular mbalax music style with samba, hip-hop, jazz and soul. Abroad, he has collaborated with the likes of Sting, Wyclef Jean and Bruce Springsteen.


Stars of Players travel for Dubai premiere

Bollywood stars Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, Sonam Kapoor and Neil Nitin Mukesh were on their way to Dubai yesterday to attend the world premiere of their new film, Players. The actors are expected to promote the film at malls in Dubai before attending a premiere at Grand Cineplex tonight.

Players, an Indian version of The Italian Job (2003, 1969), is about a gang of thieves stealing a large amount of gold.

This will be Bollywood's first big release of 2012, and the first release for Bachchan since the birth of his daughter in November.

When Big B sneaks into his own house...

Amitabh Bachchan, the actor father of Abhishek, has been greeting hundreds of his fans every Sunday evening for several years now, but on January 1 there was such a large crowd that the 69-year-old had to slip into his own house through a back entrance.

This ritual has been part of the star's life for several years now. He asks his security personnel to open the gates of his bungalow, and waves to the crowd outside for a brief while. However, when Bachchan and his family returned from Prateeksha after performing a prayer ceremony on Sunday, the crowd went berserk.

"Stepping out to meet and greet the fans ... they were large again in numbers and the controlling systems were in place, unlike last Sunday when they had attempted to jump into my bed," the actor blogged early Monday morning.


Cee Lo Green angers Lennon fans with Imagine change

The rapper Cee Lo Green has caused controversy by belting out a modified version of John Lennon's Imagine at the New Year's Eve celebration in New York's Times Square on Saturday.

"Nothing to kill or die for / and all religion's true," he sang, instead of the original lines, "Nothing to kill or die for / and no religion too".

Fans of the late Beatle unleashed a torrent of angry tweets against the singer, claiming he had changed the meaning of the song's words.

Green responded, tweeting: "Yo I meant no disrespect by changing the lyric guys! I was trying to say a world where you could believe what you wanted, that's all." He went on to respond to individual messages from Lennon fans, but the 37-year-old entertainer has since deleted all tweets related to the incident.


Salma Hayek to be honoured by France

The actress Salma Hayek is to be admitted to the French Legion of Honour, it was announced on Sunday, according to Women's Wear Daily. She will enter the five-tiered order with the lowest rank of Chevalier.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, will induct the 30 Rock star at the Elysée Palace in the next two months into the order founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.

Membership is awarded to figures of international standing for service to France. The Hollywood actors Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Robert De Niro are among those honoured in the past.


Aretha Franklin is engaged

The soul singer Aretha Franklin is engaged to her old friend Willie Wilkerson, according to a statement released by her spokesman.

The wedding is set for June in Miami Beach, Floridda, to be followed by a reception aboard a luxury yacht.

The 69-year-old "queen of soul" is apparently considering Vera Wang, Valentino and Donna Karan to design her wedding gown.