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December 19, 2009

Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Jones dies at age 90

Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Jones dies at age 90

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jennifer Jones in one of her most-remembered roles, as doctor Han Suyin in 1955’s Love is a Many-Splendored Thing.

Jennifer Jones, leading lady in two dozen Hollywood pictures and an Academy Award winner for her first major film, 1943’s The Song of Bernadette, died Thursday at her home in Malibu, California. She was 90.

Born Phyllis Lee Isley in Tulsa, Oklahoma on March 2, 1919, her pursuit of fame as an actress took her to New York City at the age of 19, leaving for Hollywood one year later. She changed her name to Jennifer Jones while testing for a part in a David O. Selznick movie; in 1949, Selznick, who produced Gone with the Wind, would become her second and perhaps highest-profile husband.

Jones broke into dramatic film roles in 1943 as the lead in The Song of Bernadette, a movie about a nun who saw visions of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes, France in 1858. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress for the role, and became a star well in-demand, earning Academy Award nominations the next three years in a row for the films Since You Went Away, Love Letters and Duel in the Sun.

Jones was a popular movie actress well into the 1950s. She starred as a Eurasian doctor, Han Suyin, in the 1955 film Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, earning her a fifth and final Academy Award nomination. After a well-received turn in a film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms in 1957, she started to take on fewer and fewer movie roles. She would make her final on-camera appearance in the 1974 disaster movie The Towering Inferno.

Jones was married three times and was survived by one of her three children, Robert Walker, Jr., from her first marriage to Robert Walker. She married for a third and final time in 1971 to industrialist Norton Simon, six years after the death of her second husband David O. Selznick. The couple’s collection of South Asian art, acquired while living in India, is now showcased in the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California. Jones was an active force behind the operations of the museum, serving as chairman from Simon’s death in 1993 to 2003, and as trustee emeritus until her own death.

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September 11, 2009

California lawmaker denies affairs after sexual discussion becomes public

California lawmaker denies affairs after sexual discussion becomes public

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Friday, September 11, 2009

A lawmaker in California who resigned from the California Assembly Wednesday after a videotape with racy comments was leaked says that his “decision to resign is in no way an admission that [he] had an affair or affairs.”

Mike Duvall (R-Orange County), who become involved in this scandal earlier this week, denied that he had any affairs with anyone, in a statement posted on his web site. Duvall said, “My offense was engaging in inappropriate storytelling and I regret my language and choice of words. The resulting media coverage was proving to be an unneeded distraction to my colleagues, and I resigned in the hope that my decision would allow them to return to the business of the state.”

Earlier this week, a videotape was leaked to news outlets showing Duvall bragging about sexual escapades with multiple women to a fellow lawmaker during a legislative session. In California, committee meetings such as the one Duvall was engaged in are taped only for posterity purposes. On the tape, Duvall, 54, relates to Jeff Miller (R-Corona) a story of a recent liaison with a woman he refers to by her fondness for tiny “eye patch” underwear. “So, I’ve been getting into spanking her,” Duvall says to Miller. “She goes, ‘I know you like spanking me’ [and] I said ‘Yeah, that’s ’cause you’re such a bad girl.'”

Duvall, who is married with two adult children, did not leave a big impression on Miller, to whom the story was related. When asked for comment, Miller said, “Mike talks a lot during the hearing…I was getting ready so I wasn’t really hearing what he was saying.”



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August 13, 2009

US \’Big Brother\’ \”live\” eviction taped for the first time

US ‘Big Brother’ “live” eviction taped for the first time

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

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For the first time, the American version of Big Brother will not be airing their traditional “live eviction” episode Thursday night as normally scheduled. Instead, the show will be taped, with host Julie Chen and the studio audience requested four hours earlier than normal.

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The reason for the change is due to the expected use of the “Coup d’Etat” power, which allows America’s chosen HouseGuest to remove the current nominations and place his own with no warning mere minutes before the final vote. Fan favorite Jeff Schroeder, who has ranked #1 in TV Guide‘s “power rankings” for the second week in a row, was given the power a week ago after a nationwide televote.

Fellow HouseGuest Chima Benson, who is currently the Head of Household, threatened to go “batcrap crazy” on the house’s live feeds earlier this week, threatening the stability of the live show. In the first week’s live eviction, she delivered an impromptu tirade against nominee Braden Bacha for his racist remarks against other HouseGuests, causing Benson to be placed on a time delay to censor her language.

TV Guide did not receive any comment by press time about the scrapped live broadcast. Big Brother, now in its eleventh season, is seeing a ratings resurgence, topping the ratings received from the same time last year, with over seven million people watching the three weekly episodes. The eviction in question airs Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT on CBS.



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June 29, 2009

Miss Georgia relinquishes crown after 12 hours

Miss Georgia relinquishes crown after 12 hours

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Former Miss Georgia 2009 titleholder Kristina Higgins.
Image: Miss Capital City Scholarship Pageant.

Kristina Higgins, who won the title of Miss Georgia 2009 Saturday evening at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts in downtown Columbus, gave up the crown almost as quickly as she received it. On Sunday morning, Emily Cook, the first runner-up, received word that she would be the new Miss Georgia 2009, and would compete for the title of Miss America next January in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Higgins, 24, having previously won the title of Miss Capital City, beat out 34 other pageant hopefuls to take the crown, only to relinquish it privately the next morning. In a rather confusing twist, Higgins had competed twice before in the Miss Georgia pageant, placing second just last year.

Emily Cook, the newly crowned Miss Georgia 2009.
Image: Miss Cobb County Pageant.

In a prepared statement via the Miss Georgia Scholarship Pageant, Higgins said, “Due to my current job responsibilities as a middle school teacher and the responsibilities and time commitment as Miss Georgia, I have decided to not fulfill the duties of Miss Georgia 2009. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been chosen as Miss Georgia and fully support the system and wish Emily Cook the best of luck.” Higgins is a 2008 graduate from Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, receiving her degree in special education.

Cook, 22, won the title of Miss Cobb County before eventually placing second in Saturday’s competition, and now takes over duties for Higgins effective immediately. A 2005 graduate of Kennesaw Mountain High School, Cook graduated this May with a degree in music from the University of Miami, and will be pursuing a law degree this year at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Cook was scheduled to make her first televised appearance as Miss Georgia 2009 on Sunday evening, during WTVM’s six o’clock news.

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June 24, 2009

American TV personality and \”Tonight Show\” sidekick Ed McMahon dies at 86

American TV personality and “Tonight Show” sidekick Ed McMahon dies at 86

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ed McMahon in 2005
Image: Christa Chapman.

Ed McMahon, the long time announcer of The Tonight Show, has died age 86. McMahon, who joined The Tonight Show in 1962, died at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center shortly after midnight on June 23. Made famous by his “Here’s Johnny!” catchphrase, McMahon worked with Tonight Show host Johnny Carson for 30 years.

In recent years, McMahon had battled several health issues. In 2007, he fell and broke his neck through which he suffered pain until his death. He began to suffer from pneumonia in March 2009. Reports also began to surface that he had been diagnosed with suspected bone cancer.

McMahon was a Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and returned to the United States after the war. He graduated college and became a television producer in Philadelphia. He later served in the Korean War, completing another tour of duty, then was selected as the announcer for ABC daytime program Who Do You Trust? This was the first time McMahon worked alongside Johnny Carson. The two were paired up again four years later as McMahon replaced Hugh Downs as the announcer on The Tonight Show. McMahon earned a reported US$1 million a year working with Carson.

McMahon also appeared in several films and was the host of the talent show Star Search. He annually co-hosted the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and conducted coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

McMahon is survived by his wife Pam and five children. No funeral arrangements have been planned as of yet.

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May 18, 2009

As the Eurovision entrants return home, the home crowds weigh in

As the Eurovision entrants return home, the home crowds weigh in

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Monday, May 18, 2009

The Eurovision Song Contest 2009 is now over, but the newspapers of Europe are still alive with stories and comments, both positive and negative.

Most of the Eurovision entrants have returned home from their sojourn in Moscow, Russia, and the newspapers across Europe have varied opinions. Most national newspapers congratulated their entrants on a job well done, while others trash-talked other entrants, and still others called for their countries to pull out of the Contest.

Here are some interviews, articles and opinions that made it to the front pages of newspapers and to their sanctioned blogs.

Flag of Norway.svg Norway

Norway’s mass media was filled with stories revolving around the winner, Alexander Rybak, but a secondary story that received press coverage was outcry against NRK’s Eurovision commentator, Synnøve Svabø, who was criticized for talking incessantly during the event, making leering comments regarding the contents inside the male entrants’ tight pants, and making a joke about stuffing sweatsocks in her own bra. When asked for a statement by Aftenposten, Svabø said, “I guess people think I should have put the socks in my throat.” NRK did not comment on Svabø’s commentating or whether she will be returning next year.

Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden

Sweden’s newspaper Aftonbladet wrote that the “Swede of the evening” was not Sweden’s entrant Malena Ernman, but Malmö-raised Arash Labaf, one of the two singers placing third for Azerbaijan. Markus Larsson wrote, “21st place? Well, this is our second-worst result ever…Malena Ernman fell so far and deep that she almost ended up in Finland. That is to say, almost last.” When asked if she was disappointed, Ernman responded, “No, but I am sorry if the Swedes are disappointed.” She went on to quip, “Europe is simply not ready for my high notes.”

Flag of Finland.svg Finland

Finland, despite placing last, wrote upbeat stories; Helsingin Sanomat published an interview with Waldo and Karoliina from the Finnish act, Waldo’s People, who announced how happy they were to have participated and will be going right back to work with performances and recordings as soon as they return to Finland.

Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom

Most British newspapers in past years published lengthy screeds regarding their bad luck in the Contest and whether they should send an entrant at all. This year all that talk subsided, and newspapers published articles congratulating Jade Ewen on her fifth place ranking. Sir Terry Wogan, former Eurovision commentator for the BBC, said to the Daily Express about this year’s voting overhaul, “I think my protest about the voting was totally vindicated by the changes that were made to the scoring this year. It made a real difference. It was the change that Eurovision needed.” One of the headlines in Monday’s Daily Mail reads: “She did us proud.” Andrew Lloyd Webber, who worked with Ewen, said, “Jade performed brilliantly. After years of disappointing results, the UK can finally hold its head high.”

Flag of Spain.svg Spain

Spain’s newspaper El Mundo published an article entitled “Soraya’s fiasco,” outlining Soraya Arnelas’s failure to receive points from 37 of the 41 other voting nations, with the writer remarking, “After a whole year trying to forget [Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, Spain’s “joke entrant” from 2008], Soraya jumped on-stage with strength…Spain’s experiment ended with longing [for] Rodolfo Chikilicuatre.” When asked about her performance and the result, Arnelas said, “I’ll hang on to the experiences I had, the great friends that I made and I’m happy because now I’m known in Europe.”

Eurovision Song Contest
Eurovision Song Contest logo.png
Related stories
  • Azerbaijan win 2011 Eurovision Song Contest
  • Belgian Eurovision singer Fud Leclerc dies at age 86
  • As the Eurovision entrants return home, the home crowds weigh in

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Flag of France.svg France

French newspapers and blogs were muted compared to other countries, but the overall feeling was still very supportive of Patricia Kaas, who placed eighth. In an interview with Le Figaro, Kaas said, “Eighth place, that’s not so bad. It was a great moment for France, we held our head high.” France Soir noted, “[Kaas’s] emotion does not seem to have found a place with competitors that have relied on heavy artillery choreography worthy of those like Shakira, and glamorous outfits, to ensure a place on the podium.”

Flag of Germany.svg Germany

German newspapers published lengthy stories analyzing why Germany was in the bottom quartile for the third straight year. Die Welt wrote, “The Germans have become accustomed to it: winning the Eurovision Song Contest just does not work [for us]. [Compared] to the total failure of last place with No Angels last year, [this] result is almost a sensational success.” Bild commented, “For years we have had little success. Germany’s placement, despite all efforts, will not be better. Why are we still participating in the Eurovision Song Contest?”

Flag of Ireland.svg Ireland

Ireland, who failed to make it to the final, led the cry to pull out of Eurovision. In the Irish Independent, Ian O’Doherty wrote, “Ireland managed something quite rare and rather gratifying last week — we actually managed to produce a Eurovision song that didn’t make you want to rip off your own eyelids so you could stuff them in your ears to stop the horrible sounds…[Sinéad] Mulvey’s elimination is proof of one thing: we need to pull out of this pile of rubbish as soon as possible.”

Flag of the Netherlands.svg The Netherlands

The Netherlands, another nation that did not make it past the semi-final round, has been very apathetic toward the Contest in recent years, and this year was no different. De Telegraaf conducted an opinion poll of Dutch television viewers, and 90% of them believed the Netherlands should not enter the Contest anymore. Despite the stated apathy, 2.5 million Dutch viewers watched De Toppers compete in the second semi-final, an improvement of 800,000 from last year’s semi-final, where Dutch entrant Hind also failed to advance. De Toppers singer Gordon, in an interview with De Telegraaf, said that the Netherlands should continue to compete: “One time, we will succeed.”

Who said what about whom?

Count Heidi Stephens of The Guardian out of the party celebrating Alexander Rybak’s victory. Stephens wrote, “Could someone…poke him in the eye with his violin bow, please? Fairytale my ass.”

Apart from judging themselves, the newspapers throughout Europe were eager to throw sarcastic quips and insults at the other songs. Here are some of the highlights from different countries.

  • Flag of Spain.svg David Gistau of Spain’s El Mundo newspaper said of Swede Malena Ernman, “Her song evoked [thoughts of] the victims’ cries in ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’.” Gistau went on to criticize Russia’s entrant for her choice in wardrobe, remarking, “…she was not given time to change before going on-stage and was dressed in a shower curtain.”
  • Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Heidi Stephens of the UK’s Guardian newspaper, while doing a “live blog” of the event, remarked of Norway, “He’s like a little Dickensian schoolboy with a violin and bonkers eyebrows, and it’s all very theatrical, with backing dancers in braces doing gymnastics. It’s like a stage school performance of Fiddler on the Roof. Could someone please poke him in the eye with his violin bow, please? Fairytale my ass.” The comment, especially the final sentence, was repeated in Norway’s national newspapers the next day. Popular British radio and TV host Jonathan Ross, in The Daily Mirror, commented on Maltese entrant Chiara, “Malta reminded me of Arnie Schwarzenegger when he is made into a woman in Total Recall.”
  • Flag of Denmark.svg Erik Jensen of the Danish newspaper Politiken deemed Germany’s entry “Miss Kiss Kiss Bang” “a corny version of ‘Aristocats’ in Porno Land.” After watching Romania’s entry “The Balkan Girls,” Jensen quipped, “I wonder how many silicone breasts can be on stage without the balloons bouncing off one another?”
  • Flag of Germany.svg The German newspaper Express commented on Albania’s entry “Carry Me In Your Dreams” with this description: “The singer looked like a Barbie from the ’80s, long blonde hair and a pink dress with frills….what the mint-colored Spiderman covered with sequins [did] behind her, nobody could explain.” Ralf Dorschel in the newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost described Malena Ernman from Sweden as “the queen of the night on speed, a nightmare.”

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May 17, 2009

After Eurovision win, Norwegians show their patriotism on Constitution Day

After Eurovision win, Norwegians show their patriotism on Constitution Day

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oslo schoolchildren taking part in the Children’s Parade at the Royal Palace on 2005’s Constitution Day. People from all over Norway celebrated the national holiday today with festivals and parties.

Alexander Rybak’s win for Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday evening was well-timed; it was on the eve of Norway’s Constitution Day.

Constitution Day, observed on May 17, commemorates the first Norwegian constitution drafted at Eidsvoll in 1814. Now it celebrates Norwegian independence as a whole, which was granted by Sweden in 1905.

Eurovision win aside, Norwegians don’t necessarily need a good reason to celebrate Constitution Day; the Norwegian people are some of the most patriotic in Europe and the iconic national flag, red with a white and indigo blue Scandinavian cross, can be seen waving from buildings and in the hands of most Norwegians at festivals and parties.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, on a visit to Spain, was greeted by 2,000 Norwegian expatriates waving flags in the town of Torrevieja, where he gave a speech, giving warm greetings in both Spanish and Norwegian. Stoltenberg noted that 40,000 Norwegians live in Spain, roughly 1% of Norway’s current population, and was impressed by the turnout not only from Norwegian citizens but also from Spanish people who also helped celebrate Norway’s Constitution Day. Stoltenberg was later joined by Spanish and Norwegians at the old sailor’s church in Torrevieja, where he placed a wreath commemorating fallen Norwegian sailors.

Boy Scouts, a symbol of Norwegian patriotism, march with Norwegian flags down Karl Johans gate in the 2005 Constitution Day parade.

In Norway, the annual Oslo Children’s Parade, a national institution, occurred in the morning with children from all 111 of Oslo’s schools taking part. The children walked with brass bands playing festive music up Oslo’s main street, Karl Johans gate, to the Royal Palace where they were warmly greeted by the Royal Family. Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, who greeted children in Asker earlier in the morning, toured the Oslo ward of Grünerløkka in the afternoon. All celebrations in Norway went off with few errors, the most notable being the delay of trains using the Oslo Tunnel, in which a helium balloon floated into the tunnel, causing a brief scare for train operators.

Celebrations for Norway’s Constitution Day occurred all over the world, from a gathering in a Shanghai hotel where 300 Norwegians feasted on imported traditional Norwegian foods, to a street parade in Brisbane, Australia, where the police had to stop traffic for the revelers. Norway’s neighbor Sweden was especially happy on Constitution Day, where Norwegian-Swedes dressed in folk costumes and held up copies of the newspaper Expressen, who deemed Norway’s winning Eurovision song “the best winner since ABBA” and published a large headline in Norwegian, stating “We look forward with you.”

Constitution Day will end with Norway’s new national hero Rybak, deemed “Alexander the Great” in the Norwegian newspapers, arriving at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport at 9:25 p.m. local time (1925 UTC). Record crowds are expected to greet him, as he invited everyone via state television to the airport for his trip home.

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May 16, 2009

Norway wins the Eurovision Song Contest 2009

Norway wins the Eurovision Song Contest 2009

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Alexander Rybak, the winning entrant from Norway, clutches a Norwegian flag at a press conference after the Contest.

Norway has won the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, held Saturday evening in Moscow, Russia, by the largest margin in the Contest’s history. Alexander Rybak’s song “Fairytale” received 387 points, 169 points more than the second place entrant, Yohanna, who represented Iceland with the song “Is It True?”

Rybak, 23, was the runaway winner from the beginning of the voting, and was the odds-on favorite with British bookies. The other bookie favorites, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Greece, all found places in the Top 10, placing fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively. It was the first Top 10 showing for the United Kingdom in seven years.

Other notable scores included Estonia, who finished in sixth place after qualifying for the final for the first time ever since the pre-qualifying round was introduced five years ago, and France, who placed eighth for their first Top 10 finish since 2002. Spanish singer Soraya Arnelas placed joint twenty-third after a difficult week, which included public outcry against her and her national broadcaster.

Russians hoping to repeat a victory on home turf were disappointed as Anastasiya Prikhodko’s song “Mamo” placed eleventh. Israel’s song “There Must Be Another Way,” sung by a Jewish-Arab duo, marking the first time an Arab performer represented Israel in any capacity, placed sixteenth. Germany, despite having lots of publicity before the event for signing on burlesque performer Dita von Teese to appear on-stage with their entrants, Alex Swings Oscar Sings!, placed twentieth, the third year in a row Germany placed in the bottom quartile.

For the first time in 29 years, Sir Terry Wogan did not provide a commentary on the UK’s broadcast, Irish comedian Graham Norton replaced Sir Terry, who has complained that “it was no longer a music contest.”

According to Norton, the event was blemished by the Russian policing of it, and he commented on-air that “heavy-handed policing has really marred what has been a fantastic Eurovision.”

This is Norway’s third Eurovision win. They previously won in 1985 and 1995. As winners, Norway and its national broadcaster, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), will host the event next May.

Here are the results of the finale night.

Draw Country Artist Song Place Points
01 Lithuania Flag of Lithuania.svg Sasha Son “Love” 23 23
02 Israel Flag of Israel.svg Noa and Mira Awad “There Must Be Another Way” 16 53
03 France Flag of France.svg Patricia Kaas “Et s’il fallait le faire” 8 107
04 Sweden Flag of Sweden.svg Malena Ernman “La voix” 21 33
05 Croatia Flag of Croatia.svg Igor Cukrov feat. Andrea “Lijepa Tena” 18 45
06 Portugal Flag of Portugal.svg Flor-de-Lis “Todas as ruas do amor” 15 57
07 Iceland Flag of Iceland.svg Yohanna “Is It True?” 2 218
08 Greece Flag of Greece.svg Sakis Rouvas “This Is Our Night” 7 120
09 Armenia Flag of Armenia.svg Inga and Anush “Jan Jan” 10 92
10 Russia Flag of Russia.svg Anastasiya Prikhodko “Mamo” 11 91
11 Azerbaijan Flag of Azerbaijan.svg AySel and Arash “Always” 3 207
12 Bosnia and Herzegovina Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg Regina “Bistra voda” 9 106
13 Moldova Flag of Moldova.svg Nelly Ciobanu “Hora din Moldova” 14 68
14 Malta Flag of Malta.svg Chiara “What If We” 22 31
15 Estonia Flag of Estonia.svg Urban Symphony “Rändajad” 6 129
16 Denmark Flag of Denmark.svg Brinck “Believe Again” 13 74
17 Germany Flag of Germany.svg Alex Swings Oscar Sings! “Miss Kiss Kiss Bang” 20 35
18 Turkey Flag of Turkey.svg Hadise “Düm Tek Tek” 4 177
19 Albania Flag of Albania.svg Kejsi Tola “Carry Me in Your Dreams” 17 48
20 Norway Flag of Norway.svg Alexander Rybak “Fairytale” 1 387
21 Ukraine Flag of Ukraine.svg Svetlana Loboda “Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl)” 12 76
22 Romania Flag of Romania.svg Elena “The Balkan Girls” 19 40
23 United Kingdom Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Jade Ewen “It’s My Time” 5 173
24 Finland Flag of Finland.svg Waldo’s People “Lose Control” 25 22
25 Spain Flag of Spain.svg Soraya Arnelas “La noche es para mí” 23 23



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May 15, 2009

After uncertain day of Eurovision rehearsals, EBU will place sanctions on Spain and RTVE

After uncertain day of Eurovision rehearsals, EBU will place sanctions on Spain and RTVE

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Eurovision Song Contest
Eurovision Song Contest logo.png
Related stories
  • Azerbaijan win 2011 Eurovision Song Contest
  • Belgian Eurovision singer Fud Leclerc dies at age 86
  • As the Eurovision entrants return home, the home crowds weigh in

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After a tense day of rehearsals, in which Spanish national broadcaster RTVE said publicly that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) would not be imposing sanctions on them for pre-empting the second live Eurovision semi-final, the EBU has made an official statement, contradicting RTVE and announcing that sanctions will be placed on Spain. This year’s act, former Operación Triunfo finalist Soraya Arnelas, will not be affected by the EBU ruling, and she will be allowed to perform her song “La noche es para mí” in Moscow as scheduled on Saturday.

Soraya Arnelas’s spot in the Eurovision final on Saturday is safe, but RTVE will still face consequences for its transgressions.
Photo: 20 minutos

By late Friday evening, the newspaper ABC announced that while RTVE and the EBU were in talks all day, it looked as if Soraya’s spot would not be in danger, as she participated in dress rehearsals during the afternoon. Later, the EBU released their statement, which says in part, “Spanish broadcaster [RTVE] did not broadcast the second Semi-Final (Thursday, 14th of May) of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest live, despite the fact that this is mandatory by the Rules of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest…The Reference Group of the Eurovision Song Contest will decide upon a sanction in its next meeting, after this year’s competition.”

The newspaper El Mundo was the first to publish statements from RTVE representatives, in which they were quoted as saying “La UER no va a tomar medidas” (“The EBU is not going to take action”) and “No va a haber ningún tipo de sanción” (“There will be no sanctions”). When asked why the Eurovision semi-final was deferred, disenfranchising the Spanish voters, RTVE responded, “We chose the least damaging option possible.” El Mundo noted that Spanish Eurovision fans disagreed, with such a high volume of negative sentiment that RTVE’s Eurovision fan message boards crashed. The Eurovision Song Contest is a very popular annual event in Spain; more than 80% of all households watch the shows each year.

RTVE is no stranger to controversy this week; on Wednesday the network came under fire for fan reaction to the Spanish national anthem being played before the Copa del Rey soccer matchup between Athletic de Bilbao and Barcelona, two teams located in secessionist regions of Spain (Catalonia and the Basque Country). During the telecast of the anthem, fans yelled out anti-Spanish insults and slurs against King Juan Carlos I, and nationalist flags were shown on-air. RTVE’s sports director was immediately fired for the incident. An opinion piece in El Mundo called for more resignations at RTVE as they drew parallels in terms of incompetence between the Eurovision event and the Copa del Rey event.



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May 14, 2009

Spain in danger of Eurovision disqualification after scheduling snafu at RTVE

Spain in danger of Eurovision disqualification after scheduling snafu at RTVE

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Spanish national broadcaster, RTVE, is in danger of indirectly disqualifying its own Eurovision entrant, former Operación Triunfo finalist Soraya Arnelas, 26, who is already in Moscow, Russia awaiting the final round on Saturday.

File:Soraya Arnelas3.jpg

Soraya Arnelas is one of 25 acts waiting to perform at the Eurovision final in Moscow; is her slated performance now in jeopardy?
Image: 20 minutos.
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A last-minute reprieve from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) allowed Spain to vote in the second semi-final instead of the first, due to a televised political debate. RTVE ran a professional tennis match, the Madrid Open matchup between Fernando Verdasco and Juan Mónaco, an hour past schedule Thursday evening, delaying the Eurovision semi-final broadcast and disenfranchising the Spanish viewers ready to vote for their favorite songs.

Spain, as a top monetary contributor to the EBU, automatically qualifies for the final but Spanish viewers were allowed to cast votes for one of the two semi-final rounds, as were the other automatic qualifiers (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and host nation Russia).

The scheduling delay is in violation of the rules set forth to the national broadcasters by the EBU, and punishment could range from a fine incurred by RTVE to complete disqualification for Spain, who was slated to have Soraya perform her song “La noche es para mí” 25th and last in the final Saturday evening.

The newspaper El Mundo speculated that the delay might have occurred on purpose, as RTVE may not want to take the task of hosting the event in 2010 in the event that Spain wins. El Mundo also remarked that the EBU could take a harsher stance toward RTVE if they deem it a case of “voter fraud,” as the disenfranchisement of Spanish televoters, replaced with a backup jury, would have changed the result of qualifying nations. In any case, the EBU is the governing body which decides if the delay was intentional or not and what punishments should be given to RTVE for breaking Contest rules.

When asked for comment by the newspaper ABC, RTVE cited “technical difficulties” but did not elaborate further. According to ABC, RTVE’s teletext service had announced that the live broadcast would start at 9:45 p.m., 45 minutes after the broadcast started in Moscow, but neither RTVE’s website nor its continuity announcements had made note of any change. The Eurovision broadcast started transmission from the beginning on RTVE’s “La 2” channel at 10:06 p.m., 66 minutes late.

No public statement has yet been made by the EBU; the EBU went ahead with the scheduled press conference for the ten semi-final winners Thursday evening.



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