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Celebrity Photo Hackers ‘Committed Sex Crime’

By Veronique Dupont

Los Angeles (AFP) — Those behind the massive leak of naked celebrity photos that shocked the show business world could and should be prosecuted, including for child sex crimes, experts said.

The online theft of the images — including pictures of “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence and also of at least one under-age victim — could also amount to harassment or a form of sexual assault.

“I think it is a form of sexual aggression and the objectification of women, and the posting of underage nude photos is fodder for sexual predators,” said psychotherapist Dr Judi Bloom on Wednesday.

“Those who did this should be prosecuted,” she added, explaining: “It is not as traumatic as an actual assault, but it is psychologically damaging to the individual because it is a total invasion of who you are.”

Dozens of photos of stars were posted online at the weekend, including Rihanna, Kate Upton, and Kirsten Dunst. Tech giant Apple admitted there had been a “targeted attack,” but denied its cloud storage system had been breached.

There has been condemnation, but also a sharp divide in Hollywood.

LA Times columnist Robin Abcarian, for example, wrote: “If you are a celebrity, and you pose nude for digital photos, you should not expect them to stay private.

“I maintain now, and have always maintained, that if you are a celebrity and you make a sex tape, you should not expect it to stay private.”

– Cyber-harassment –

But others sprang to the defense of those whose photos were stolen and posted online, in one of the biggest such hacks.

“Even worse than seeing women’s privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy,” wrote “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson.

“Girls” creator Lena Dunham said: “Remember, when you look at these pictures you are violating these women again and again. It’s not okay… The person who stole these pictures and leaked them is not a hacker: they’re a sex offender.”

Two years ago, the author of a similar online theft, that time involving pictures of celebrities including Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis, was jailed for 10 years.

According to the celebrity TMZ website, actress and former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney was a minor when some of the pictures leaked Sunday were taken. The LA Times, citing unnamed sources, said those responsible could face child porn charges.

Neither the FBI nor prosecutors in Los Angeles would comment on the reports, citing an ongoing investigation.

– ‘Wider lesson’ –

In Dr. Bloom’s opinion, taking legal action could provide some comfort.

“Suing is a way of regaining some kind of power,” she said.

The affair should sound alarm bells, “especially for a lot of young people who send nude selfies to boyfriends,” she said, adding: “Anything that they post (can be sent) to anybody else.”

Parents should also take responsibility, to warn their children of the dangers, she said.

One case which gripped America was that of Jessica Logan, who hanged herself aged 18 in 2008, after a naked photo which she had taken for her boyfriend was sent to hundreds of teenagers after she split up with him.

While young women are the cause for most concern, men are not invulnerable: in 2010 a star student aged 18, Tyler Clementi, threw himself off a bridge in New York after his roommate leaked a photo of him with his male lover.

AFP Photo/Alberto E. Rodriguez

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‘Game Of Thrones’ Eyes Emmys Glow

By Veronique Dupont

Los Angeles (AFP) — With a staggering 19 nominations, royal feud saga “Game of Thrones” will cast a long shadow over Monday’s Emmy awards, akin to the Oscars of U.S. television.

Based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling novels about power struggles between dueling clans in seven mythical kingdoms, it won most nominations overall — including for best drama series.

“Thrones” — already renewed for a fifth and sixth season — is among Home Box Office’s nominated shows. Overall, HBO heads into the ceremony with a winning 99 nods, compared to 31 for online streaming giant Netflix.

The 66th Emmys — to be presented at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles — kick off at 5:00 pm.

Joining host Seth Meyers on stage will be a slew of celebrities, including fellow comedians Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon.

“Fargo,” an offshoot of the quirky 1996 Coen brothers’ movie, heads into the ceremony with nominations in an impressive 18 categories, with Billy Bob Thornton a contestant for lead actor in a miniseries.

And cult crime series “Breaking Bad” — which won best drama last year — is again among top contenders for the coveted title, although dismayed fans saw it end almost a year ago after five seasons.

– Cranston in the mix –

Bryan Cranston, who played cancer-stricken teacher-turned-drugs kingpin Walter White in the blockbuster series, is nominated in the lead actor category, a top prize snagged in 2013 by Jeff Daniels of “The Newsroom,” who is his competitor again this time around.

“Breaking Bad” is also up for statuettes in the best supporting drama actress and actor categories.

Another hot commodity is HBO crime drama “True Detective,” which scored competing lead actor nominations for its co-stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, a police duo who hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana.

It is in the running for best drama series as well.

But Netflix’s breakthrough women’s prison show “Orange is the New Black” is very much on the radar, too.

It is vying for the best comedy series crown against long-running series “The Big Bang Theory,” “Louie,” “Modern Family,” and “Veep,” as well as HBO newcomer “Silicon Valley.”

Taylor Schilling from “Orange is the New Black” and Julia Louis-Dreyfus from “Veep” are among those facing off for lead actress in a comedy.

The race for lead drama actress, meanwhile, pits last year’s laureate Claire Danes from “Homeland” against Michelle Dockery from “Downton Abbey,” Lizzy Caplan from “Masters of Sex,” Julianna Margulies from “The Good Wife,” Kerry Washington from “Scandal,” and Robin Wright from “House of Cards.”

Monday’s ceremony will be overshadowed by the apparent August 11 suicide of Hollywood great Robin Williams, which rocked the entertainment world.

With emotions still raw, his friend and fellow actor-comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to the Oscar winner during the “in memoriam” part of the primetime program.

Others slated to make an appearance include the actresses Halle Berry, Debra Messing, and Lucy Liu, as well as singer Gwen Stefani and nominees Cranston and Harrelson.

AFP Photo/Kevin Winter

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Tributes For Robin Williams After Apparent Suicide

By Veronique Dupont

Los Angeles (AFP) — Tributes poured in Tuesday for Robin Williams after the Oscar-winning actor and comedian apparently took his own life following a battle with severe depression.

Williams, 63, known for high-energy, rapid-fire improvisation, and clowning, was one of the most beloved entertainers of his time. One publication called him the funniest man alive.

The star of films such as “Good Will Hunting,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” and “Mrs Doubtfire” was found dead at his home outside San Francisco shortly before midday on Monday.

President Barack Obama led tributes to an entertainer he described as “one of a kind.”

Hollywood titan Steven Spielberg, a close friend, hailed Williams as a “lightning storm of comic genius.”

Fans turned William’s star along Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and a park bench in Boston that featured in “Good Will Hunting” into miniature shrines in his honor.

And radio stations across the United States played Williams’ “Good Morning Vietnam” wake-up holler on their rush-hour shows.

A statement Monday from Marin County Sheriff’s Office said Williams’ death appeared to be “suicide due to asphyxia.”

An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday, as well as a coroner’s press conference at 1800 GMT.

Described in 1997 by Entertainment Weekly as “the funniest man alive”, Williams suffered from “severe depression” prior to his death, his publicist Mara Buxbaum said.

The comedian and father-of-three, who wedded his third wife Susan Schneider in 2011, had himself spoken openly in the past about his battles with alcoholism and drug abuse.

“Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you are making too much money,” he once quipped.

After beginning his career as a stand-up comic, Chicago-born Williams rose to fame in the U.S. sitcom “Mork & Mindy”, channeling his anarchic, high-energy style into his role as an extra-terrestrial struggling to fit in on Earth.

He later reeled off a string of big-screen hits throughout the 1980s and 1990s in roles which often showcased his fast-talking, improvisational skills.

Those abilities were showcased in 1987’s “Good Morning, Vietnam,” where his performance as motormouth military disc jockey Adrian Cronauer earned him the first of four Oscar nominations.

Other nominations followed his performance as the inspirational English literature teacher John Keating in 1989’s “Dead Poets Society” and for playing a mentally ill homeless man mourning the loss of his wife in 1991’s “The Fisher King.”

He finally landed an Academy Award for 1997’s “Good Will Hunting,” which earned him a best supporting actor statuette and helped launch the Hollywood careers of co-stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Williams appeared most recently on film in “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn,” after playing president Dwight D. Eisenhower in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

He is due to return to the silver screen posthumously in “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” scheduled for release before Christmas.

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind,” said Obama, vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

“He arrived in our lives as an alien — but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.

Spielberg mourned the loss of “a comic genius … Robin a lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him.”

“He was a pal and I can’t believe he’s gone,” added the director, who regularly phoned Williams to cheer himself up during filming of his 1994 Holocaust drama “Schindler’s List.”

“He was a giant heart, a fireball friend, a wondrous gift from the gods. Now the selfish bastards have taken him back,” said British actor, director, and Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam.

“I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul,” added comedian Steve Martin, breaking a self-imposed hiatus from Twitter.

Poignant tributes also came from members of the U.S. military, for whom Williams frequently performed in USO live shows in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I feel Mr. Williams’ passing is worthy of lowering the flags,” wrote U.S. army veteran Zach Reid on the USO’s Facebook page. “One of the last things America agreed on is gone now.”

AFP Photo/Tiziana Fabi

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