Blaine goes under the sea


NEW YORK (AP) – David Blaine intends to sleep with the fishes – but only for a week, and in full public view.

The 33-year-old magician will perform his latest stunt by living underwater for seven days and nights in a “human aquarium” in front of New York’s Lincoln Center.

He will conclude by attempting to hold his breath underwater longer than the record of 8 minutes, 58 seconds. The finale of his latest stunt will air live in a two-hour ABC special on May 8 (8 p.m. EDT).

Blaine’s previous feats of endurance include balancing on a small platform for 35 hours and surviving inside a massive block of ice for 61 hours, both of which were performed in New York. In 2003, he fasted for 44 days in a suspended acrylic box over the Thames River in London.

The “human aquarium” in which Blaine will float is a specially built 8-foot acrylic sphere. He will receive liquid nutrition through a tube and the water will be kept at a balanced temperature to help keep his core temperature close to 98.6 degrees F.

Passers-by will be able to touch the aquarium, take pictures with Blaine and communicate with him. He will enter the sphere on May 1.

To prepare for the challenge, Blaine trained with U.S. Navy Seals and a world class free-diving team. An inside look at his training will be shown on the ABC special, which is titled, “David Blaine: Drowned Alive.”

On the Net:

LONDON (AP) – Kevin Spacey has defended his leadership of London’s Old Vic, acknowledging that the theater’s latest production had been a disappointment.

Spacey, who took over as artistic director in 2004, told British Broadcasting Corp. radio Thursday that he was “more determined than ever” to serve out his 10-year contract.

He acknowledged that the production of Arthur Miller’s “Resurrection Blues,” directed by filmmaker Robert Altman, had been “in trouble” before its opening night last month.

“Risible” and “incompetent” were among the adjectives used by newspaper critics to describe the production, which will close Saturday, a week earlier than planned. One of its stars, Jane Adams, has already quit.

“Everyone was completely open and honest about the fact the show wasn’t where it should have gotten, but I can tell you that after the critics’ night, that cast pulled themselves together,” Spacey said. “They started to deliver that play in a way that I think audiences saw a much better production than those critics saw.”

“Resurrection Blues” is one of several recent Old Vic productions panned by critics, although several shows, including a production of Shakespeare’s “Richard II” starring Spacey, have garnered good reviews and strong sales.

“I don’t think that, 18 months in, anyone needs to apologize for having done a program that has brought 425,000 people into the theater,” Spacey said. “We must be doing something right even though 11 or 12 people who write for newspapers don’t particularly like what we’ve done.”

The theater will be dark through the summer, with Spacey scheduled to star in a production of Eugene O’Neill’s “A Moon for the Misbegotten” in September.

Spacey said the long summer break was “not ideal, but at the same time we’re trying to get a financially responsible situation.”

The 46-year-old actor has won Oscars for his roles in “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Hilary Williams, daughter of country star Hank Williams Jr., has been transferred to a Nashville hospital for continued treatment of injuries suffered in a traffic accident last month.

Williams, 27, and her 25-year-old sister, Holly, were hurt in a one-vehicle wreck March 15 in northern Mississippi. Hilary was being treated in Memphis for leg, colon and hip injuries.

“She’s on the road to recovery,” Kirt Webster, publicist for Hank Williams Jr., said Wednesday. He said Williams will receive further treatment in Nashville for her leg injury.

Holly Williams was released from the Regional Medical Center in Memphis on March 17.

Both sisters are singers. Holly Williams released her debut album in 2004.

Hank Williams Jr., 56, has had a string of hits including “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” and “Family Tradition.” He has sung the theme for ABC’s “Monday Night Football” since 1989.

His father, a star in the late 1940s to early 1950s, had hits including “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “Hey, Good Lookin’.”

NEW DELHI (AP) – Salman Khan, jailed since early this week after being convicted of killing an endangered animal, was freed on bail Thursday from a jail in the western city of Jodhpur.

Khan, who was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for poaching a rare buck in a desert wildlife preserve in 1998, could be seen on televised news reports coming out of the prison wearing a white sleeveless T-shirt and a baseball cap.

The Bollywood star was surrounded by an escort of police officers who had to shove through a cluster of shouting reporters and TV cameras to a waiting car.

Khan was granted bail on a personal bond of $4,400 and two sureties of $2,200 each, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. The sureties require someone else to take responsibility if Khan jumps bail.

Khan, who says he is innocent, has been a heartthrob in scores of Hindi-language films for his portrayal of macho – yet romantic – characters who fight for love. Officials say he has received the same treatment and eaten the same meals as other inmates since he was taken into custody.

He has faced several separate charges of poaching and illegal possession of weapons stemming from the incident, when he and several other people allegedly drove into the Thar desert to shoot deer while on a break from filming.

In February, another court sentenced Khan to a year in prison on a separate charge of poaching deer and buck. He has appealed that sentence.

Khan is also on trial in a separate case in Bombay for a traffic accident that killed a man in 2002. Three people were injured and one killed when Khan allegedly hit a group of people sleeping on a Bombay sidewalk.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer has started recording the music for his new movie, “Black Snake Moan.”

The blues-based soundtrack will have some of the genre’s top musicians, who began recording in Memphis this week.

“I have to figure out a way to show how raunchy blues music can be a religious experience,” Brewer said.

“Black Snake Moan” follows the life of a young nymphomaniac, played by Christina Ricci, whose demons are chased away by the blues.

“Exorcisms aren’t easy,” Brewer said. “Part of getting to a place of peace is exhausting yourself.”

Musicians recording the soundtrack include Memphis blues legend Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica; Jim Dickinson on keyboards; Dickinson’s sons and North Mississippi Allstars members Luther Dickinson and Cody Dickinson on guitar and drums; and Scott Bomar on bass.

The soundtrack will feature improvisations on Bomar’s score.

“Some players, they have all their licks memorized,” Musselwhite said. “They think about what they’re going to play, but I try to think about what not to play. Tone and phrasing, that’s what’s important – less is more. The feeling, that’s the thing.”

Memphis-based Three 6 Mafia won the Oscar for best original song for “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” from Brewer’s 2005 movie, “Hustle & Flow.”

NEW YORK (AP) – A two-week performance festival to spotlight violence against women and girls will be held in June, featuring appearances by Jane Fonda, Salma Hayek, Tina Fey, Marlo Thomas, Sarah Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Isabella Rossellini and Gloria Steinem.

Called “Until the Violence Stops: NYC,” the festival is being put together by V-Day, a nonprofit organization founded by playwright Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues.”

Authors contributing works to the festival include Edward Albee, Maya Angelou, Anna Deavere Smith, Ariel Dorfman, Dave Eggers, Paula Vogel and Alice Walker.

The festival, announced Thursday by V-Day, will open June 12 with a reading at Studio 54 of Ensler’s “Necessary Targets,” a play about two American women who travel to war-torn Bosnia. It will feature Fonda, Marian Seldes and Shohreh Aghdashloo.

On the Net:

AP-ES-04-13-06 1323EDT