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Gerard Depardieu, embroiled in a high-profile tax row that saw the French actor take Russian nationality and angrily vow to quit France, failed to turn up Tuesday in a Paris court to face drunk driving charges.

The 64-year-old "Cyrano de Bergerac", "Green Card" and "Asterix & Obelix" star, who has admitted driving his scooter while intoxicated, would have escaped with a small fine and penalty points on his driving licence if he had appeared.

He had been due to appear for sentencing Tuesday but now faces a criminal court hearing which may lead to a fine of 4,500 euros ($5,900) and a possible prison sentence of up to two years.

He was detained in the French capital in November after falling off his scooter, which he had been riding while more than three times over the legal alcohol limit.

 

French electronic composer Jean Michel Jarre has held talks with Downing Street officials in recent months, the British premier's office confirmed Tuesday, about setting up business operations in London.

The talks come after France's highest court struck down a proposed 75 percent tax rate on individual income above a million euros ($1.3 million) a year, a plan which saw the republic's biggest film star Gerard Depardieu relocate to Belgium.

"Jean Michel Jarre visited Downing Street to meet with officials about 'Tech City', London's media and technology hub," a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron's office told AFP.

"There are a growing number of businesses and entrepreneurs from across the world who want to be part of the technology cluster in east London and we are keen for that to continue."

The 64-year-old pioneer -- known for his spectacular concerts and whose hit albums include "Oxygene" (1976) and "Equinoxe" (1978) -- has a company Jarre Technologies, which makes products lke the AeroPad One, a dock speaker for iPods, iPads and iPhones.

Tech City is a project to transform the Old Street roundabout in east London and its environs into a European centre of media and technology innovation for blue-chip firms, investors and start-up companies.

Cameron announced a £50 million ($80 million, 60 million euro) injection into the project last month.

"The UK is in a global race and I am determined that we as a government continue doing everything we can to equip the UK to compete and thrive in that race," he said.

Cameron's coalition government has set up policies it says are aimed at making Britain the "first choice" for entrepreneurs and investors.

 

Almost five billion people around the world witnessed the amazing events in Britain this summer. But as the sun finally sets over the London 2012 Games, there’s no need to be sad – there’s plenty more great British moments still to enjoy. 

GREAT Sport. Next year sees the launch of a new world-class cycling festival in the capital,RideLondon, which will take place in Olympic venues and around the city, taking in London’s most iconic sights. There’s also the Rugby League World Cup in England and Wales, and while looking ahead, 2014 is a big year for Scotland, who will host the Ryder Cup andGlasgow Commonwealth Games

GREAT Culture. January 2013 marks 200 years since the publication of Pride and Prejudice, one of the world’s best-loved books; the perfect time to visit Jane Austen country and the locations featured in the TV and film adaptions of the book. 2013 is also packed with amazing blockbuster exhibitions all over Britain, from Vermeer at the National Gallery to Chagall at Tate Liverpool, as well as being a whole year of culture in Derry-Londonderry, the UK’s first City of Culturehttp://www.cityofculture2013.com/Our-2013-Bid/Home.aspx. Manchester, one of Britain’s cultural hubs, welcomes back its biennial International Festival: 18 extraordinary days of world premieres. 

 

Rio de Janeiro has new royalty. Evelyn Bastos, a 19-year-old student and member of the famed Mangueira Samba school, was crowned queen of the 2013 Rio Carnival here overnight while Milton Junior was re-elected as iconic King Momo.

An emotional Bastos, who joined Mangueira -- Rio's oldest Samba school -- at the age of four, beat her more muscular rivals and thanked her many supporters upon receiving the sought-after title.

"I am not alone in wearing this crown as many people helped me," she said as she choked back tears.

"I am 100 percent natural," she added in an apparent dig at her rivals, many of whom appear to have silicon-injected breasts and buttocks. 

"I entered the contest as representative of Mangueira Samba school and now I am representing all the Cariocas (Rio residents) who will take part in the carnival. It is very rewarding," Bastos said at the ceremony held in Rio's northern Samba City.

Bastos, whose mother served as Mangueira percussion queen three years in a row and was her major inspiration, said she underwent five months of grueling training for the job. She walked away with a prize of $10,000.

Junior, who weighs in at 160 kilograms (352 pounds) and stands 1.84 meters (six feet three inches) tall, was again picked to serve as King Momo, the Rio Carnival's symbol of overweight excess.

King Momo is traditionally given the key to the city and leads the crowds in wild partying and frantic samba dancing.

Rio's world famous carnival takes place February 9-12.

Junior will play carnival king for the fifth year in a row and his selection was greeted with some boos.

 

Indie quartet Alt-J have won the Barclaycard Mercury Prize for their debut album An Awesome Wave and promised to celebrate in very un-rock 'n' roll style - by taking their parents out for dinner.

The group, who met at Leeds University in 2007, looked stunned as they collected the award - despite being the bookies' favourites as the ceremony got under way.

They picked up the £20,000 prize at the event at the Roundhouse, in Camden, north London, which was hosted by Lauren Laverne and screened in a brief five-minute slot on Channel 4.

Accepting the award on stage, the band - Thom Green (drums), Joe Newman (guitar/vocals), Gwil Sainsbury (guitarist/bassist) and Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards) - said there were too many people to thank. They said: "We might just thank everyone on team Alt-J who has ever made a difference." They also thanked their parents for "not making us get jobs".

Speaking backstage, Unger-Hamilton said the £20,000 prize money would not change their lives too much. He said: "It won't nearly pay off our student loans." But he admitted to being a fan of his own work, saying: "I like listening to it and I think that is a testament to it, it's the same four guys."

Newman said the band would take their parents out for dinner but would also celebrate in more traditional rock star style by going out for a drink.

Newman also revealed his father had tried to cash in on the band's success but failed. He said: "My dad went to the bookies when the album was being made in January to try and put a bet on the Mercury Prize, but they didn't know what he was talking about".

 

Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, the man behind "Last Tango in Paris" and "The Last Emperor", said on Thursday that filming was "like therapy" after the release of his first film in a decade.

The director, who has been in a wheelchair after some unexplained health problems, said he had "started filming again but also started living again".

His film "Io e Te" ("Me and You"), a drama film about a teenage boy and his drug addict stepsister, was premiered at the Cannes film festival this year.

"I fear you will have more films of mine soon," the 71-year-old said.

"Io e Te" will go on general release initially in Italy next week. The film is based on a short novel by acclaimed Italian writer Niccolo Ammaniti.

 

French blockbuster "Les Intouchables" and Austrian Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner "Love" are hot tips for best foreign language Oscar, from a long-list of candidates published Monday.

Hong Kong movie master Johnnie To and China's Chen Kaige -- whose "Farewell my Concubine" won the top Cannes film festival prize in 1993 -- are also among films from 71 countries which could be vying for an Academy statuette.

Iran, whose "A Separation" won foreign language Oscar for Asghar Farhadi this year, has no entry after Iranian authorities last month withdrew their candidate due anger at a US-made anti-Islam online film.

"Les Intouchables" ("The Intouchables") by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano has become the second biggest domestic box office and the biggest French film ever at the box office overseas.

It tells the moving and poignant story of a wealthy quadriplegic Frenchman who hires a young black man an urban ghetto to look after him following a horrific road crash.

Austrian filmmaker Haneke won the Cannes Film Festival's top prize in May, three years after taking it home for the first time with 2009's "The White Ribbon."

"Love" tells the wrenching tale of a man and his dying wife, chronicling the intimate details of Anne's physical and mental decline, as Georges fulfills a pledge to care for her at home until the end.

The two movies were picked out by the Hollywood Reporter as early frontrunners for the foreign language Oscar statuette.

 

A thousand-year-old Buddhist statue taken from Tibet in 1938 by an SS team seeking the roots of Hitler's Aryan doctrine was carved from a meteorite, scientists reported on Wednesday.

In a paper published in an academic journal, German and Austrian researchers recount an extraordinary tale where archaeology, the Third Reich and cosmic treasure are intertwined like an Indiana Jones movie.

Called the "Iron Man" because of the high content of iron in its rock, the 24-centimetre (10-inch) -high statue was brought to Germany by an expedition led by Ernst Schaefer, a zoologist and ethnologist.

Backed by SS chief Heinrich Himmler and heading a team whose members are all believed to have been SS, Schaefer roamed Tibet in 1938-9 to search for the origins of Aryanism, the notion of racial superiority that underpinned Nazism.

Weighing 10.6 kilos (23.3 pounds), the statue features the Buddhist god Vaisravana seated, with the palm of his right hand outstretched and pointing downwards.

Chemical analysis shows that the rock from which it was carved came from a meteorite.

The rock survived a long trip through the Solar System and the destructive friction with the atmosphere when it collided with Earth.

It is a particularly rare kind of meteorite called an ataxite, which has iron and high contents of nickel, according to the study, published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.

"The statue was chiseled from an iron meteorite, from a fragment of the Chinga meteorite which crashed into the border areas between Mongolia and Siberia about 15,000 years ago," said investigator Elmar Buchner of Stuttgart University.

"While the first debris was officially discovered in 1913 by gold prospectors, we believe that this individual meteorite fragment was collected many centuries before."

The exact dating of the carving cannot be established accurately, but its style links it to the pre-Buddhist Bon culture of the 11th century.

Vaisravana was the Buddhist god-king of the North, also known as Jambhala in Tibet.

Some of the UK's best-loved television stars will be hoping to pick up gongs at Sunday night's Emmy Awards.

Downton Abbey and Sherlock will lead the British pack as the who's who in the world of television turn out for a dazzling ceremony in Los Angeles.

Joanna Froggatt, who plays domestic servant Anna in Downton Abbey, is nominated for the outstanding supporting actress in a drama series award along with her ITV co-star Maggie Smith, who plays the grand Dowager Countess of Grantham.

The country house drama is up against hit shows including Homeland and Game of Thrones for the outstanding drama series Emmy. Several of its stars are recognised, including Michelle Dockery, who gets a nod for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for her portrayal of Lady Mary Crawley.

Hugh Bonneville will have to see off the challenge of fellow Brit Damian Lewis for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. Brendan Coyle, who plays valet John Bates, and Jim Carter, who plays the butler Carson, are both up for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series.

BBC's Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are in the running for outstanding lead actor and outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or a movie respectively.

Cumberbatch and Freeman are recognised for their parts in Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia. The episode, based on Arthur Conan Doyle's story A Scandal in Bohemia, featured racy nude scenes with Lara Pulver's whip-wielding dominatrix character and was the most watched show on the BBC iPlayer last year. The episode, which attracted about 100 complaints for its pre-watershed nudity, is also recognised in categories for art direction and costumes.

Armando Iannucci's new US show, Veep, is nominated for outstanding comedy series but faces competition from Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Big Bang Theory, while its star Julia Louis-Dreyfus is nominated for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series.

Welsh opera star Katherine Jenkins has taken to social media to shoot down claims that she had an affair with David Beckham.

The 32-year-old singer hit back in reaction to internet rumours linking her to the footballer - and Beckham's spokesman said there was not a "jot of truth" in any of the online gossip.

Jenkins wrote on Twitter: "Dear Twitter friends, I've read some horrible rumours on here & want u 2 know I absolutely deny I've had an affair with David Beckham. The rumours are very hurtful, untrue & my lawyers tell me actionable."

A spokesman for the singer confirmed her statement.

Jenkins - who split from TV presenter fiance Gethin Jones last year - went on to state that she has only met Beckham twice.

She wrote: "I've only met David twice: once at the Military Awards in 2010 & on a night out in the West End in Feb 2012.

"We were out in a group of friends & it was just a normal fun evening out.