Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Shia LaBeouf plagiarism? Comic writer Daniel Clowes eyes legal action, actor apologizes


A screenshot from HowardCantour.com before the trailer for the film was deleted.

"Transformers" star Shia LaBeouf's 12-minute short film "HowardCantour.com" went viral on Monday, but wasn't up long before the Internet figured out that it bore a striking resemblance to a comic short story written by Daniel Clowes, creator of "Ghost World" and other graphic stories.

On Tuesday, LaBeouf tweeted an apology — which critics quickly pounced on as also possibly plagiarized — while Clowes himself considered his legal options, his longtime editor Eric Reynolds told BuzzFeed.

"His apology is a non-apology, absolving himself of the fact that he actively misled, at best, and lied, at worst, about the genesis of the film," Reynolds said. "He implied authorship in the film credits itself, and has gone even further in interviews. He clearly doesn’t get it, and that’s disturbing. I’m not sure if it’s more disturbing that he plagiarized, or that he could rationalize it enough to think it was OK and that he might actually get away with it. Fame clearly breeds a false sense of security."


Surprise! Beyonce drops new self-titled album with 17 music videos


A screenshot of Beyonce's new album on iTunes.

Beyonce dropped a new album Thursday night, and sorry Spotify — it’s an iTunes exclusive thus far.

Bey dropped the self-titled album on iTunes by surprise last night, sending Twitter into a frenzy and music journalists ripping up their 2013 top 10 lists as everyone came to terms with the unannounced album. The other surprise: Each of the 14 tracks has its own music video, plus there are three bonus videos on top of that — four if you count the credits video because yes, this is an album so epic it needs credits.

She made the album announcement through social media teases, including this Instagram video with snippets of the new videos:

Beyonce's Instagram announcement

And this Facebook post with Beyonce monologuing about art, vision and why this was released as a “visual album” with the accompanying videos:


Infographic: 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug': Who is Smaug?

Premiere Of Warner Bros' "The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug" - Arrivals

Mark Davis/Getty Images

Benedict Cumberbatch attends the premiere of Warner Bros' "The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug" at TCL Chinese Theatre on December 2, 2013 in Hollywood.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second of three Hobbit films being produced by Peter Jackson, hits theaters Friday, and it features a brand new villain: Smaug.

“Who’s Smaug?” you may be asking. Well, first off, however you’re pronouncing the name, you’re probably wrong. Second, Smaug is probably the most awesome dragon in fantasy literature. A talking dragon.

In the film, the giant dragon is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, offering his second major villain of the year (after Khan in “Star Trek: Into Darkness.") (Third if you count cyber information leaker Julian Assange in “The Fifth Estate” or the plantation owner from “12 Years A Slave.”) Cumberbatch even did the motion capture for Smaug, so fans will have to watch for any of his "Sherlock" mannerisms.

The film received its Los Angeles premiere at the Dolby Theatre last week, and it’s opening wide this weekend. Here’s a look at the character’s background, as developed by J.R.R. Tolkien in “The Hobbit” book: He’s been beefed up a bit in the films, according to the writers at Finances Online (who produced the following infographic), but looks to still retain his Smaugian origins.


The fire still burns for Charlie Haden

Charlie Haden

Steve Gunther/CalArts

Jazz great Charlie Haden led an ensemble of CalArts students in a concert at Disney Hall's Redcat theater.

Charlie Haden

Steve Gunther

The 15-member ensemble of CalArts jazz students performed a program of music from Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra.

Charlie Haden

Steve Gunther

Charlie Haden concluded the emotional evening by telling his students: "See you at class on Tuesday."

Here's a list of some things Charlie Haden can no longer do:

  • He can't walk very quickly.
  • He can't speak very loudly.
  • He can't eat solid food. 

But he can still conduct an orchestra, as he did Tuesday night when he led a concert by a talented ensemble of students from CalArts, where Haden launched the jazz program in 1982.

Haden had polio as a child. In recent years, the esteemed and prolific bass player, now 76, has been suffering from post-polio syndrome. He's lost considerable weight and walks slowly, with a cane.

The concert at Disney Hall's Redcat theater was not billed as a farewell, but it had that air as Haden delicately made his way onstage before a packed house that included family and friends. Despite his thin, halting voice, Haden made clear that his spirit is still intact as he announced a new opening to the program: "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" — the anthem of the African National Congress during the apartheid era. 


'Godzilla' trailer: See the monster before he stomps back into theaters in 2014

Godzilla - Official Teaser Trailer [HD]

Godzilla (via YouTube)

Trailer for the 2014 "Godzilla" movie.

Godzilla hit audiences with his atomic breath beginning in 1954, and he's set to return to theaters 60 years later. The new trailer shows the latest take on the character, both classic and updated with modern computer graphics looking to bring the epic monster to life once more.

The trailer shows a strike team set to go into battle, diving from a plane to face their monstrous foe. The soldiers dive through clouds that look straight out of a biblical epic. The first half of the trailer uses music by György Ligeti, utilizing a choral piece also used in "2001: A Space Odyssey" — big shoes for any film to fill.

People run for their lives and we see destruction all around, before, after initial peeks at the monster, he turns and issues Godzilla's trademark roar. This time the monster remains far closer to the traditional look than in the 1998 Godzilla remake.