x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Today's entertainment news: 'I almost died', says emotional George Michael

Also: Stieg Larsson's partner chides Dragon Tattoo marketing; Etta James hospitalised for breathing trouble; Robert De Niro and wife welcome baby girl; and Richard Gere to get George Eastman Award.

The British singer George Michael in front of his house in north London on Friday. He is recovering from a life-threatening bout with pneumonia that kept him in a Vienna hospital for a month. Lefteris Pitarakis / AP Photo
The British singer George Michael in front of his house in north London on Friday. He is recovering from a life-threatening bout with pneumonia that kept him in a Vienna hospital for a month. Lefteris Pitarakis / AP Photo

On Friday, George Michael gave a press conference outside his London home, against the backdrop of a Christmas tree, to reassure fans that he is on the road to recovery after battling pneumonia, which he had contracted while on tour in Austria.

Looking frail and weak, and struggling for breath, the 48-year-old British singer said he had "almost died" and that it had been "touch and go" at times during the month he spent in a Vienna hospital.

"It was by far the worst month of my life but I am incredibly, incredibly fortunate to be here," he said, following his release from hospital on Thursday and return to Britain.

He wore a scarf to protect his neck, and revealed that surgeons had performed a tracheotomy on him. He appeared on the verge of tears as he spoke of his gratitude towards the medical staff who saved his life.

"I spent the past 10 days since I woke up literally thanking people for saving my life, which I have never had to before and I never want to again," he said, his voice cracking.

The pneumonia forced the singer to cancel his Symphonica tour, having already performed 45 shows. He had been due to give a concert in the Austrian capital when he was admitted to hospital.

He promised on Friday to rearrange the concerts; he also said he wanted to perform for the doctors at the Austrian hospital who treated him.

He claimed that he was a "new man" following his near-death experience. "If I wasn't spiritual enough before the last four or five weeks, then I certainly am now," he said.


Larsson's partner chides Dragon Tattoo marketing

The longtime partner of late Swedish crime writer Stieg Larsson says the author wouldn't have approved of merchandise being linked to this week's release of a Hollywood adaptation of his bestselling novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, according to reports by the Associated Press.

Eva Gabrielsson said Monday that Larsson would have instead used the buzz around his work to call attention to violence against women.

"We would never have sold any rights for merchandising," she said. "It has nothing to do with books."

H&M has released a Dragon Tattoo Collection inspired by Lisbeth Salander - the books' tattooed anti-heroine.

Gabrielsson expressed concern that the political dimension of the books would be overlooked by the film's hype. She said the feminist theme had been partly lost with the creation of the English title, which she thinks sounds like "a children's book".


Etta James hospitalised for breathing trouble

Blues singer Etta James was hospitalised at a southern California hospital last week, after experiencing difficulty breathing. The 73-year-old is considered terminally ill.

Her manager of 30 years told the Associated Press that the singer is "in pretty bad shape" but it remains unknown whether she will be able to be released. She is currently on a breathing apparatus.

James's doctor recently announced that the At Last singer has been diagnosed with terminal leukemia. The Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member is also suffering from dementia. She has been receiving mostly at-home care.


Robert De Niro, wife welcome baby girl

Robert De Niro's spokesman, Stan Rosenfield, told the Associated Press that the actor and his 56-year-old wife, Grace Hightower, welcomed a healthy, 3.3kg baby girl named Helen Grace Hightower through a surrogate mother.

The baby is the couple's second child. Their son, Elliot, is 13. No other details were provided.

De Niro, who is part of an all-star cast in the movie New Year's Eve, currently showing in UAE cinemas, has four other children from previous relationships.


Richard Gere to get George Eastman Award

Richard Gere, who has appeared in more than 40 films, is getting a George Eastman Award in upstate New York for his contributions to movies and humanitarian causes.

The star of such films as An Officer and a Gentleman and Pretty Woman will be honoured on February 16 during a ceremony at Rochester's George Eastman House, the restored home of the founder of photography pioneer Eastman Kodak Co., according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper.

Past recipients of the George Eastman Award include Lauren Bacall, Martin Scorsese and Meryl Streep.