‘Mrs. Maisel,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ Win Top Emmy Honors

“Game of Thrones” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won the top prizes at the Emmy awards on Monday on a night of upsets for the highest honors in television.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” was named best drama series, beating last year’s champion “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” about a 1950s housewife who turns to standup comedy, took home the Emmy for best comedy series. “Mrs. Maisel” also won four other awards, including a best actress for Rachel Brosnahan.

Claire Foy beat presumed front runner Elisabeth Moss, star of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” to win for her quiet but formidable portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in Netflix drama “The Crown.”

“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” said a surprised Foy.

Matthew Rhys took his first best drama actor Emmy for playing a conflicted Russian spy in the final season of the FX Cold War series “The Americans.”

“Saturday Night Live” won, as expected, for variety sketch series, taking its lifetime Emmy total to a record-setting 72 wins.

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace” took the Emmy for best limited series and brought an acting trophy for Darren Criss, who played the gay serial killer who murdered the Italian designer in Miami in 1997.

One of the biggest shocks of the night came when presumed front runner Donald Glover, the star and creator of the surreal hip-hop-inspired FX show “Atlanta,” lost out in the comedy acting category to Bill Hader’s hitman-turned-struggling actor in HBO’s showbusiness satire “Barry.”

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Dragons, Handmaids and Housewives – It’s Time for the Emmys

“Game of Thrones” or “The Handmaid’s Tale”? “Atlanta” or “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”?

The best drama and comedy series races for television’s highest honors are too close to call ahead of Monday’s Emmy awards, where the field is so packed with quality contenders that some shows may leave empty-handed.

Monday’s ceremony isn’t just about the winners. “Saturday Night Live” stars Michael Che and Colin Jost host for the first time on an evening where barbs about U.S. President Donald Trump and other topical issues are expected to feature.

“They are outrageous political satirists and if they don’t shine on stage in that way, people will be disappointed,” said Tom O’Neil, editor of awards website goldderby.com.

The Emmy Awards will be handed out in Los Angeles on Monday in a ceremony broadcast live on NBC.

HBO’s crowd-pleasing medieval series “Game of Thrones” goes into Monday’s ceremony with a leading 22 nominations, but awards pundits say it faces a strong challenge from streaming service Hulu’s bleak “The Handmaid’s Tale” for the best-drama series Emmy.

The latest season of “Game of Thrones” aired almost a year ago and may suffer for being out of sight and out of mind, IndieWire Executive Editor Michael Schneider said.

“‘Handmaid’s Tale’ is a newer show. It won last year (in its first season) and it still feels very timely and part of the conversation,” he said.

“Handmaid’s Tale” star Elisabeth Moss could also be a repeat Emmy winner. Yet the drama actress field is particularly strong with contenders Claire Foy as the quietly formidable Queen Elizabeth in Netflix royal series “The Crown,” Keri Russell in her final turn as a ruthless Russian spy living as an ordinary American housewife in FX’s “The Americans,” and Sandra Oh, who could become the first woman of Asian descent to win a best-actress drama series Emmy, in BBC America’s “Killing Eve.”

While the Emmys are known for surprises, some actors appear to be shoo-ins for the statuette. Donald Glover is expected to be named best comedy actor for “Atlanta,” the absurdist FX show about life on the margins of the hip-hop community, which he also created. “Atlanta” could also win best comedy series.

“It’s very daring. It’s not a conventional comedy in any way,” O’Neil said of the show.

Rachel Brosnahan is widely favored as best comedy actress for playing an exuberant 1950s housewife who turns to stand-up after her husband leaves her in Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” while Darren Criss is a favorite in his role as a gay serial killer in FX’s limited series “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.”

NBC’s sentimental family show “This is Us” could bring repeat honors for Sterling K. Brown as empathetic dad Randall Pearson.

“Sterling K. Brown is a shoo-in whenever there is an award.

People just love him,” said Schneider.

Veterans returning to the spotlight include former “Happy Days” star Henry Winkler as a self-important acting coach in HBO’s satire “Barry,” Tony Shaloub in “Mrs. Maisel” and former “Cheers” actor Ted Danson for comedy “The Good Place.”

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Belgium Refuses to Extradite Spanish Rapper

A Belgium court has ruled that there is no reason to return a Spanish rapper to Spain.

Spain had asked Belgium to extradite rapper Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran, better known as Valtonyc, on the grounds that the entertainer had written lyrics that “glorified terrorism, insulted the royal family, and contained threats.”

Valtonyc had received a two-year sentence in Spain because of his lyrics, but fled to Belgium.

Simon Bekaert, the rapper’s lawyer said Monday in Ghent that “the judge has decided there will be no extradition and discarded all three charges.”

Bekaert said the judge ruled “there is no terrorism involved, so there is no question of a crime, according to Belgian law.”

It was not immediately clear if prosecutors would appeal the judge’s decision.




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Time Magazine Sold for $190 Million to Couple

Time Magazine is being sold by Meredith Corp. to Marc Benioff, a co-founder of Salesforce, and his wife.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the iconic news magazine is being sold for $190 million to Benioff, one of four co-founders of Salesforce, a cloud computing pioneer.

The sale is occurring nearly eight months after Meredith Corp. completed its purchase of Time Inc.

Meredith, the publisher of such magazines as People and Better Homes & Gardens, had put four Time Inc. publications up for sale in March. Negotiations for the sale of the three other publications — Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated — are continuing.

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Meet Captain South Africa; She’d Rather not Punch Criminals

The usual suspects — Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and Darth Vader — roamed at Comic Con Africa. A few African characters were also on display: Kwezi, Captain South Africa and Shaka Zulu.

The success of Marvel’s “Black Panther” film spiked interest in African stories, and creators on the continent hope to capitalize with more comic book characters of their own. The three-day convention ending Sunday in South Africa was a platform for their efforts, even if it was dominated by the global superheroes, villains and other pop culture figures who have been around for decades.

Many of the first African comic books are “caricatures of Supermans, of Captain Americas,” said Bill Masuku, a Zimbabwean artist and writer. “But if you allow that to grow, giving it time, you will get better quality story-telling that is naturally African.”

One example is Masuku’s Captain South Africa, a black female superhero who “doesn’t want to punch criminals because that doesn’t end crime,” he said at a convention stall where he also promoted another of his creations, Zimbabwean superhero Razor-Man.

Thousands of people, many in costume, turned out for the suburban Johannesburg event introduced by Reed Exhibitions. ReedPOP, a subsidiary of the global company, hosts similar conventions around the world and brought its model to Africa for the first time.

Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya have been running their own “comic con” festivals for several years; South Africa’s annual ICON comic and games convention started in 1992.

Hurricane Florence scrapped plans by Anthony Mackie, the actor who has played Marvel’s Falcon superhero, to travel to Comic Con Africa. Aquaman actor Jason Momoa also canceled. Kevin Sussman from “The Big Bang Theory” and Yetide Badaki from “American Gods” made it, to the delight of autograph and photo op seekers.

“If you have issues with personal space, comic cons are not for you,” said ICON director Les Allen as he waded through crowds. Up ahead, video gamers playing a “Counter-Strike” first-person shooter in sound-proof booths battled each other on giant screens as spectators followed the combat. Someone in a reptilian “Predator” outfit paced the hall, posing with fans. Other people had masks, hoods, swords and staffs and there was plenty of spandex and hair spray, of course.

“Shaka Rising: A Legend of the Warrior Prince,” a glossy graphic novel about the real-life Zulu king who built an empire at a time of European expansion into Africa, was among home-grown projects on display. The story of power and intrigue was written and drawn by South African Luke Molver.

“To a large extent, African stories get told by people outside of Africa, about people in Africa,” said Robert Inglis, the book’s promoter and director of Jive Media Africa, a company based in South Africa. Part of the reason is that many African stories circulate through “word of mouth” and don’t have the “lasting kind of print space” to resonate internationally, he said.

Nearby, Janine Evans was offering capes modeled on traditional Basotho blankets and other clothing merchandise associated with a band of southern African superheroes.

“Our aim here is to actually take the Afrocentric from the fantasy world and bring it into people’s everyday lives,” she said.

One African superhero is Kwezi, a comic book character drawn by creator Loyiso Mkize. He is a young man who learns he has special powers, and then sorts out problems in the local community. In a short video animation, a flying Kwezi checks a phone message that summons him to an urban Johannesburg neighborhood: “Trouble in Braamfontein, we need you now!!!!”

Other promotions at Comic Con Africa include “The Tokoloshe,” a South African horror movie whose name refers to an evil spirit; and “Apocalypse Now Now,” a South African short film and novel whose name plays on the uniquely South African phrase meaning “soon.”

The goal is “to normalize the existence of African content and creators,” said Masuku, the Captain South Africa creator. “We’re still making the steps to get there. I’m happy with where we are right now.”

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Cambodian Vlogger Promotes Equal Rights With Positive Sex-Ed Posts 

Catherine V. Harry is 23, has 243,000 Facebook followers, generates between $1,000 to $2,000 a month from her vlog, A Dose of Cath, which focuses on sexual and reproductive health, and she doesn’t much care if people disagree with her on women’s rights as long as they discuss the topics she considers important.

In Cambodia, what sets her apart is her willingness to take on the traditional social and cultural code, the chbap srey, which defines expectations for Cambodian women. Although no longer taught in schools, it is a mindset with deep cultural roots that sees good women as quiet and obedient. Harry, however, sees it as a tool of oppression, one that enshrines gender inequality and masks violence toward women in and out of their homes by encouraging them to remain silent.

Harry started her women’s rights advocacy in 2012 as a blogger confronting the chbap srey. She launched her Facebook vlog in February 2017 with enough weekly topics mapped out to see her through the first 50 weeks.

She posts every Saturday night, a time slot that appeals to her audience, mostly young women like herself. 

“I talk to them as friends,” she says. “I won’t lecture them so I can be one of their friends. I share what I know to them. So, they can relate themselves to what I share.”

Taking on taboo topics

Harry vlogs about taboo topics, such as menstruation, contraception, abortion. Most of her clips average about 100,000 views. A post on virginity, “Is the value of women determined by virginity?,” has passed 2 million hits and thousands of comments — not bad in a country of 16.3 million people, 6.8 million of them on Facebook.

Harry intentionally selects what she describes as “the controversial topics” and issues a call to action with each post.

She responds to all comments and appreciates negative feedback because, as her vlog production assistant and boyfriend, Panha Chum, the 25-year-old owner of a Phnom Penh translation firm, says, “At least they are able to understand what we want them to know.”

“I want people to debate about the topics that I raise. Their disagreement won’t matter much to me,” Harry said.

Not everyone appreciates Harry’s outspokenness, said Chindavotey Ly, coordinator of the Student Success Program and former president of the student senate at Pannasastra University of Cambodia. 

“But when she talks about those topics, both men and women can understand that those are the issues of women’s rights,” Ly said.

Within a year of the launch of the vlog, Forbes magazine put Harry on its “30 under 30” list for Asia.

“It is important to have a debate on the topics that have not been discussed or have been restricted,” said Chantevy Khoun, who heads the Women’s Rights Team at ActionAid Cambodia, which has worked with Harry. “She … dares to break the taboos.”

Raised conservatively

Harry wasn’t always a taboo-buster. Born in Phnom Penh, her parents, Solyna Svay and Sambath Hun, named her Soksovankesor Sambath, and raised her conservatively. Her father stressed things like not wearing short shorts in public, and not meeting friends in the evening.

“When I was young … I didn’t care about gender and inequality in the society,” Harry said. That changed in junior high when, without internet access at home, she began going online at coffee shops “to learn about social issues. … I think my life has changed since then.” She also became involved with the Love 9 project at BBC. “I met many people who were passionate about women’s rights. I took action. I eventually became who I am today.”

New name, life at 17

Harry cast aside Soksovankesor Sambath when she was 17 and took the name Catherine V. Harry, to represent her new personality and worldview.

Her mother embraced her new daughter. 

“My mother was so tough on me when I was young. She dictated all my decisions. I told myself that I wouldn’t pass it on to my daughter,” Solyna Svay said. “My daughter … lacked confidence when she was young. Now she contributes; she helps society. She empowers other girls to make decisions independently and to challenge traditional … practices.”

Harry defines feminism as people who work to promote the equality of all people.

“Sometimes, when I drive or ride on the road, I have been catcalled by strangers,” Harry said. “I, sometimes, have been followed or approached by strangers after dark. So, my freedom of movement is not granted. I feel I am living under pressure and unsafe.”

Men lose, too

Cambodia’s patriarchal norms also hurt men, Harry says, because “a man cannot reveal his emotion. Sometimes male victims of rape and sexual violence are discouraged to speak [because] culturally a man is not considered a victim of rape.”

Harry, often criticized, isn’t considering backing down anytime soon. 

“I touch the sensitive issues of the society. If there will be no negative comments on my videos, I don’t think it would be effective. I want people to start discussing the topics. People, who agree or disagree with what I am doing, have a platform to exchange their ideas,” Harry said.

“I think it is not a bad thing, but conservatives find it intensely unacceptable,” said Solyna Svay, who worries about Harry, “but I’m still positive. Others’ comments are others’ issues.”

Harry said that while many people support and appreciate her work, many disagree with and devalue it. Some of her friends unfriended and unfollowed her on Facebook.

Some still prefer to preserve a norm that Harry deems oppressive, the chbab srey.

“A friend of mine said, ‘That is not in the school’s curriculum anymore. Why would you care about it, while others wouldn’t?’ ” Harry said.

“That person doesn’t understand that the concept of chbab srey is embedded in people’s minds. Whether we have known it or not, we still practice it,” she added.

But things do change. Harry now has her father’s full support.

“My dad debates with people who criticized me on my Facebook page,” Harry said. “He explains to them that I want changes on women’s rights.”

Harry’s boyfriend, Chum, another convert, says “feminism is not just about women — it is for all.” Harry’s stance is, in his mind, “logical. Humans should be equal.”

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Thai Designer Adds Spice to NY Fashion Week 

When Thunyatorn “Cheng” Ng speaks about Thai fashion and style, she tears up.

The 34-year-old Connecticut-based fashion entrepreneur and stylist specializes in creating traditional Thai outfits and costumes. Her designs were showcased during this month’s New York Fashion Week, at an event September 10 hosted by the Council of Aspiring American Fashion Designers at the Pier59 Studios in the Chelsea Piers complex on the Hudson River.

Ng prepared her show, featuring headpieces themed to the Chinese zodiac, in just seven days, after a spot came open. 

“It was the biggest show of my life, so far,” in terms of attendance, she said.

“I have to confess: I never thought it’d come to a point where I’d do New York Fashion Week with my clothes,” said Ng of an event known for launching and accelerating careers.

​Start with formal attire

Ng’s styles shown on the runway were provocative and stylized, with ornate headpieces and gold accessories. The result might seem theatrical, but Ng says her designs often start with the formal clothes Thais wear on important occasions.

“I liken this to Japan’s kimono. Not even the Japanese wear kimonos every day — only on formal occasions,” she adds. “But if you take the cloth of a kimono, modify and customize to make it fashion” as Ng does with Thai clothing, “now, that’s interesting.”

A native of Lampang in northern Thailand, Ng believes Thais, especially those who live overseas, should show more pride in traditional Thai clothing and fashion. Ng knows it is tough to compete with the allure of Asian cultural heavyweights like China or India, but says Thailand’s strikingly unique fashion and textiles heritage deserves more attention than they receive.

“The clothes themselves are beautiful. And I’m Thai, I want to show that I am Thai,” says Ng, a graduate of Bangkok University who majored in communications and the performing arts.

“My sense is that this is a viable business, one with enough promise and profit to support me, as a real livelihood,” she added of her choice to become a Thai tailor and dressmaker. “I also feel pride each time I’m able to exhibit Thai heritage and culture, to preserve it and pass it down, through this medium of clothing.”

​An early interest in textiles

Ng first became interested in Thai textiles as a child, growing up surrounded by traditional silk production in northern Thailand. She renewed her interest as an adult living in the United States. That was when she realized Thai textiles and fashions had an image problem. They were so obscure as to be virtually unknown even though Thai fashion itself is partly a product of Thai kings adapting clothes from Europe, says Ng, who presented her work at New York University (NYU) during a November 2015 symposium on Southeast Asian dress and textiles, an event overseen by adjunct faculty Daniel James Cole.

Credit: Beauty and Fashion

Student to entrepreneur

Ng came to the U.S. in 2009 to study English. She worked as a freelance makeup and hair stylist, and as an assistant chef. Despite her fractured schedule, she found the time to fall in love. And in 2012, even in the famously diverse and worldly New York metropolitan area, she discovered the Thai wedding clothes she wanted to wear for her marriage weren’t readily available.

So she imported what she wanted, then undertook the task of customizing the garments, realizing stitch by painstaking stitch, that she held in her hands the underpinnings of her niche business.

For years, Ng ran Thunyatorn LLC from her home basement studio in Elmhurst, Queens, a New York City neighborhood. She imported, modified and designed Thai clothes for weddings or other formal occasions for clients in the eastern half of the U.S. She is now based in the New York suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut, where she also owns a day spa.

Clients fly her in and put her up in their homes, all to have her help realize a Thai wedding, a service that only a handful of U.S. companies can provide, nationwide.

At her busiest, Ng makes four out-of-state trips in a month for clients, handling hair, makeup, clothing, and even providing Thai wedding gear like ceremonial water tables.

Chuthaphorn “Gai” Sricharoenta was one of Ng’s brides. Sricharoenta works at Yale University’s health care services group, which includes the dining hall and dietary aid divisions.

She met Joseph Weems online. He’s an executive chef at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. The couple had their first date at a Thai restaurant, on New Year’s Eve in 2014.

Sricharoenta wanted a Thai wedding for her second marriage. She decked out her two half-Thai children in clothes rented from Ng, while her 68-year-old mother flew in from Chiangrai for the wedding, July 22 near New Haven, Connecticut.

“I want to showcase what it is to be Thai. I also want my American friends, my colleagues and others, to understand Thai culture,” said Sricharoenta, 44, a Chiangrai native, hours before her wedding ceremony.

Weems supported his wife’s desire to share her culture on their big day.

“I like diversity. I embrace diversity, and this is a way of bringing a lot of people together, with diverse cultures. So this [Thai wedding] is a great thing,” said Weems, a 58-year-old Lancaster, Pennsylvania, native who wore a cream outfit, with Thai pants rented from Ng.

Non-Thais welcome

Non-Thais wearing Thai dress, including traditional outfits, “is not something strange or offensive. It’s just that the world isn’t used to it … people know more about Thai food than about Thai fashion,” Ng said.

Ng believes Thais are much more sensitive about foreigners who misinterpret Thai religion than non-Thais who wear Thai clothing.

“Fashion is more about your individual personality,” and what a person feels comfortable with, while religious customs are more about respecting tradition, said Ng.

“So I believe the wearing of Thai dress, mixing and matching Thai traditional designs and modern fashion, is not strange for foreigners to wear. I’d actually feel good if more people adopted that, and if I can help to make that happen.”

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Rewriting the American Muslim Narrative Through Music, Performance

There are about 3.5 million Muslims living in the United States. The vast majority are from South and Central Asia. While many see America as the “land of the free,” some say the current political climate has made it difficult to be Muslim in America. In an effort to increase cultural understanding, the Smithsonian recently curated a group of artists and gave them a stage to make their Muslim American identities visible through a performance titled “Now You See Us.” Niala Mohammad has more.

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