By Stefan Lovgren
National Geographic News
Saqqara Egypt January 14, 2004 (National Geographic News) - French archaeologists have unearthed the first mummified lion ever found in an Egyptian tomb.
The spectacular discovery was made in the tomb of King Tutankhamen's wet-nurse, Maïa, at Saqqara, south of Cairo.
Although the tomb dates from 1330 B.C., the researchers believe the lion was probably mummified and buried during a later Egyptian dynasty in the final centuries before Christ.
The discovery confirms the lion's sacred status in ancient Egypt. The archaeologists say the lion itself may have been a dedication to Mahes, the son of the lion goddess Sekhmet.
"This is very special," Alain Zivie, who led the team that made the discovery, said in a telephone interview from Paris.
"We knew from pharaonic inscriptions that lions existed in ancient Egypt and were buried in these tombs, but we had never found one until now."
The research is published in tomorrow's issue of the science journal Nature.
In Excellent Condition
Supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and working under the supervision of the Supreme Council of Egyptian Antiquities, which is headed by National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence Zahi Hawass, Zivie's team has been excavating Saqqara, the cemetery of the ancient city of Memphis, for 20 years.
In 1996, they discovered the tomb of Maïa, the wet-nurse to the famous pharaoh Tutankhamen. In addition to a chapel, the tomb has a level of funerary apartments, which have been used for burials of both humans and later animals, mainly cats.
While working in the main room of the funerary level in November 2001, Zivie and his team made their stunning discovery. Perched on a rock and surrounded by other animal bones lay a virtually complete skeleton of a feline creature.
"It was quite a shock," said Zivie. "It was a big skeleton, something completely unusual, big bones. My colleague, Cècile Callou, who is a zoo-archaeologist, could see immediately that it was a lion."
Anaïck Samzun, another member of the team, led much of the excavation.
The skeleton was in excellent condition, except that the skull had been partly crushed. The large size indicated it was a male, and researchers believe it was probably kept in captivity before dying of old age. Although no linen bandages were found, they believe the lion had been mummified.
Pharaonic inscriptions have shown that lions were bred and buried in Egypt during the time of the pharaohs. But while archaeologists knew of cemeteries for baboons, ibis, fish, cats, dogs, and crocodiles, they had never found lions buried, though some bones were found in the city of Abydos.
The lions were worshiped by the ancient Egyptians and associated with certain divine powers. There are numerous descriptions of lions in ancient Egyptian art.
The lions are thought to have been bred in sanctuary precincts, where they were ritually fed and buried in a sacred animal necropolis.
"The lion is full of symbolism," said Zivie. "It represents strength and fierceness. The lion is the king of the animals, but he's also the animal of the kings of Egypt and he's connected, in particular, to the goddesses, many of whom are depicted with lion faces."
In fact, above the tomb where the lion was found is a sanctuary dedicated to the feline goddess Bastet. A beloved goddess, Bastet is depicted as having the body of a woman and the head of a lion and of a domestic cat. Bastet also has an alter ego, Sekhmet, a woman with the head of a lioness, who represents the darker side of the goddess. Together, they're believed to represent the two-faced nature of women.
However, since the lion was a male, Zivie does not think it was dedicated to Bastet or Sekhmet, but instead could have been the incarnation of Sekhmet's son, the god Mahes.
"This is logical," Zivie said. "Mahes was very much revered in the city of Leontopolis, which is known as the city of the lion. We know he bred lions in this city, near a farm there."
The animal belongs to the later Bubasteion catacombs connected to the cult of animals that was particularly important in Late and Hellenistic Egypt.
"This was not the time of Tutankhamen, and not the lion of Tutankhamen. It's much later," said Zivie. "We're sure the lion is connected to the late burials of cats. But the fact that the discovery is in the tomb of Maïa gives it a touch of beauty and excitement."
Full of Surprises
In the November 2003 issue of National Geographic magazine, Zivie wrote about his recent discovery of a 3,300-year-old tomb belonging to a guardian of temple treasures under the reign of radical Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Inscriptions on the tomb reveal the guardian owner had two names, Raiay and Hatiay, and that he built the tomb for himself and his wife, Maïa, though the two were never buried there. Zivie believes that Maïa may be the same woman who was the wet-nurse to Tutankhamen.
Zivie is now heading back to Egypt to work on the Saqqara site. But he's not looking for more discoveries.
"Our project now is to work more on the conservation of the tomb and the site," he said. "We have a great deal of discoveries, which we have to swallow before we move on. But I hope we will make new discoveries in the future. This is a fantastic site full of surprises."
|Beatles: 40 Years Ago Today |
By LARRY McSHANE
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK January 17, 2004 (AP) - Standing outside the Plaza Hotel in 1964, a young girl playing hooky from school hoisted a handwritten sign: "Elvis is dead. Long live the Beatles."
Forty years later, Beatlemania endures. The 40th anniversary of the Beatles' arrival in America is next month, and fans of all ages are preparing a variety of tributes.
Organizers held a Manhattan news conference Friday to promote the events marking the Fab Four's Feb. 9, 1964, appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." An estimated 73 million Americans tuned in to see the musicians from Liverpool in their U.S. debut.
The band split up more than three decades ago after becoming the most popular group in the world.
"They changed hair, they changed fashions, they changed attitudes," said Beatles historian Martin Lewis. "The '60s began when the Beatles came to America."
Anniversary events include the DVD release of the Beatles' four Sullivan appearances, featuring 11 songs from rarely seen performances; retrospectives at the Smithsonian Gallery, the American Film Institute, and the Museum of Television and Radio; and a special screening of "A Hard Day's Night" at Lincoln Center and at the American Film Institute's Silver Theater and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Md.
Members of The Fab 40 Committee, a loosely knit group of Beatles fans and friends, said they tracked down some obscure but semi-important people from Fab Four history.
They include the Maryland woman responsible for getting "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" played for the first time on American radio, the official greeter for Pan Am who met the band at Kennedy Airport, and the woman who held up the sign outside the Plaza, a now middle-aged Irene Feldman.
The news conference featured a somewhat unlikely early Beatles booster — Dr. Joyce Brothers, who had predicted the band's British success would translate on this side of the Atlantic.
"We were ready for teenage rebellion, true teenage rebellion," Brothers recalled. "There was this idea that you can't trust anyone over 30."
As proof, a then-35-year-old Brothers brought her teenage daughter to see the Beatles in Queens. Brothers recalled being overwhelmed by the howling fans. And she remembers what her daughter said to her as the Beatles played:
"Mom, you're embarrassing me."
More Beatle News
Launch Music says "Producer Danger Mouse has taken all of the vocals from Jay-Z's Black Album and recorded them over music from the Beatles' 1968 set The White Album, to create The Grey Album, which will be released in March according to NME.com." [Oh, boy! What's next? Brittany sings Yoko? Pah! Ed.]
George Harrison Re-released Amid Beatle Events
BY PHIL GALLO
January 15, 2004 (Variety) - EMI's Capitol Records will reissue on Feb. 24 digitally remastered versions of the five studio albums George Harrison recorded for his Dark Horse label between 1976 and 1987. His concert disc "Live in Japan" (1992) will be released as a DVD as well as a double SACD set.
The quiet Beatle, who died in 2001, would have turned 61 Feb. 25; on March 15, he will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist.
The currently out-of-print studio albums --- "Thirty Three and 1/3," "George Harrison," "Somewhere in England," "Gone Troppo" and "Cloud Nine" --- were initially distributed by Warner Bros.; Capitol, which released his early and late solo material as well as the Beatles, originally issued "Live in Japan."
Harrison initiated the re-release project in 2000.
Each of the albums will be packaged in the boxed set "The Dark Horse Years, 1976-1992," which comprises the six plus a DVD with footage of Harrison talking about his solo career, seven promo videos and four live songs from a 1991 Japanese tour with Eric Clapton.
February also will see a fair number of new Beatles items as part of the 40th anniversary of their arrival in the States.
Under the banner of the Fab 40, a film and TV tribute will take place at Lincoln Center on Feb. 8 featuring screenings of the legendary first "Ed Sullivan Show" featuring the Beatles and a new 35mm print of "A Hard Day's Night."
A forum will follow featuring Robert Freeman, creator of the film's acclaimed title sequence and photographer-designer of the soundtrack album jacket; Beatles scholar Martin Lewis; concert promoter Sid Bernstein; concert documentarian Albert Maysles; and Bruce Spizer, author of the new book "The Beatles Are Coming!"
On Feb. 9, the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' legendary first appearance on "Ed Sullivan," an anniversary party will be held at the Hard Rock Cafe on 57th Street that will include Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band, DJ Cousin Brucie and a Beatles tribute band.
In Washington today, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History will open "The Beatles! Backstage and Behind the Scenes," an exhibition of 71 black-and-white photographs from the archives of CBS Television and Bill Eppridge, who covered the Beatles for Life magazine. Today is the 40th anniversary of the date "I Want to Hold Your Hand" reached No. 1 on the U.S. singles charts. Exhibition will run until June 16.
Also today, Spizer's coffee-table book "The Beatles Are Coming! The Birth of Beatlemania in America" is being published. Featuring more than 450 color and black-and-white photographs, and documents, Spizer details the months prior to the Beatles' arrival, including the roles played by Walter Cronkite and a 15-year-old girl from Maryland in stirring up enthusiasm for the Liverpool moptops.
Harrison Guitar Suit Settled
By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK January 16, 2004 (AP) - The estate of George Harrison has settled its lawsuit against a doctor it accused of coercing the dying ex-Beatle into signing a guitar belonging to the doctor's son.
The guitar "will be disposed of privately" and Harrison's estate will give a new guitar to Ariel Lederman, the 14-year-old son of the doctor who treated Harrison for cancer two weeks before his death, according to a joint statement read aloud Friday in federal court.
No further details were available.
The settlement came 10 days after the lawsuit was filed against Dr. Gilbert Lederman, his three children and his employer, Staten Island University Hospital.
"George Harrison's music spoke to the heart and soul of my generation," said Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, who presided over the settlement. He said the agreement "preserves the dignity and protects the privacy of all concerned."
Harrison, 58, died in November 2001 after battling lung cancer and a brain tumor.
Two weeks before his death, the lawsuit alleged, Harrison was coerced by Lederman into signing autographs at a house near the Staten Island hospital.
Lederman directs the hospital's radiation oncology department, which is known for treating large tumors with high doses of radiation.
Lederman entered uninvited with his three children and had Harrison listen to his son play the guitar before asking the musician to sign the instrument and two cards, the suit charged.
It alleged that the musician tried to resist, saying, "I do not even know if I know how to spell my name anymore."
Lederman held Harrison's hand as the musician wrote his name on the guitar "with great effort and much obvious discomfort," according to the suit. The estate sought possession of the guitar and the two cards.
The agreement prevents all parties from commenting on the dispute or its settlement. It stipulated that it does not indicate wrongdoing by Lederman, his children or the hospital.
Wonderfalls Versus JAG
By Rick Porter
LOS ANGELES January 16, 2004 (Zap2it.com) - FOX has found a place for the dramedy "Wonderfalls" on its midseason schedule, although it may not be the easiest sell for the quirky show.
The series, about an overeducated Niagara Falls souvenir-shop employee (Caroline Dhavernas) who wonders about her mental state when inanimate objects star talking to her, is scheduled to premiere at 9 p.m. ET Friday, March 12. It will take "Boston Public's" spot for seven weeks, FOX Entertainment president Gail Berman announced Friday (Jan. 16).
Although its tone is generally lighter, "Wonderfalls" is similar to CBS' "Joan of Arcadia," which features a teenager who talks to God and airs at 8 p.m. Fridays. Berman hopes fans of that show might stick around for "Wonderfalls."
"The viewers are around, and I'd like to believe we'll be able to take advantage of that," Berman says.
"Wonderfalls" will be up against CBS' perennially strong "JAG" and ABC's freshman success "Hope & Faith," as well as another female-skewing dramedy, NBC's "Miss Match." Berman acknowledges it's a tough timeslot -- viewing levels are fairly low on Friday anyway -- but "unfortunately not every time period is a good one."
"The key was getting it on the schedule while it still felt like a real, viable show," Berman says. She also believes the promotional platform that "American Idol" is likely to provide could help expose the series to a large number of viewers.
While FOX has found a place for "Wonderfalls," the same can't yet be said for "The Ortegas" and "Still Life," two shows the network introduced to critics last summer. Six episodes of each show are finished, and there's a chance they could see the light of day in the summer, but Berman gave the standard "no decision has been made" response to questions about their fate.
Firefly Fans Get Game
January 17, 2004 (eXoNews) - Fireflyfans.net has posted a Firefly computer game (the very first) on their site. It's called The Battle of Serenity, requires only Flash (which 90% of you have, even if you don't know it) and is free.
It is, unfortunately, another shooter. On the other hand, it looks nice and is mouse-driven. Don't expect to see any of your favorite Firefly characters to pop up here. Probably all too busy working on other series while waiting for the Firefly feature film to start production.
Fans probably noticed Adam Baldwin (Firefly's Jayne and X-Files Knowle Rohrer) last week on JAG. Morena Baccarin (Inara) is in the cast of Fox's Still Life.
Other Serenity crew members are doing the big screen. Nathan Fillion (Mal) is filming Doubting Riley. Summer Glau (River) is due in Sleepover. Gina Torres (Zoë - who does more TV than anybody) will be in Beauty Shop, and her Firefly hubby Alan Tudyk (Wash) is the guy behind Sonny the robot in the big time Will Smith movie I, Robot based on the classic stories by science fiction master Isaac Asimov.
Back to the Firefly game, we advise you read the instructions first and don't click the "Sound" button if you want to hear the noise.
Firefly, The Game - http://www.fireflyfans.net/feature.asp?f=51
Harsh Realm's Bairstow Sentenced
EVERETT WA January 17, 2004 (AP) - Actor Scott Bairstow [Lt. Tom Hobbs on Chris Carter's cult favorite Harsh Realm] was sentenced to four months in jail for an attack involving a 12-year-old girl.
Bairstow originally was charged with second-degree child rape but entered a modified guilty plea last month to a reduced charge of second-degree assault.
Bairstow, who has been in the Snohomish County Jail since Dec. 5, could be freed in 37 days with credit for time served and good behavior, authorities said.
In the Alford plea, Bairstow, 33, maintained he was innocent but conceded he would likely be convicted if the case went to trial.
"I did not rape her. But I believe I've caused some stress and obviously anxiety, and for that I am sorry," Bairstow said at his court hearing Friday.
Bairstow, who appeared on Fox's "Party of Five" in 1998 and 1999, also was ordered to undergo a sexual deviancy evaluation and 12 months of supervision after his release.
Deputy Prosecutor Janice Albert had asked for a six-month jail sentence; the defense wanted three months.
Prosecutors said the girl, a relative of Bairstow's wife, told authorities she had sex with Bairstow in 1998, when she was 12, and three more times outside Washington state, most recently in 2001.
Bairstow has appeared in nine feature films, including "Tuck Everlasting," and various television shows, including "Touched by an Angel." He lives in Los Angeles.
Tim Robbins Directs Punk Iraq Play
New York January 16, 2004 (Editor & Publisher) - In a major surprise, Tim Robbins' play "Embedded," about U.S. reporters and soldiers during the Iraq war, will open Feb. 24 at the Public Theater in New York. Robbins will direct the play, as he did last fall in Los Angeles, but will not star in it.
New promotion for the play (which E&P first reviewed last October) describes it as "a ripped-from-the-headlines satire about the madness surrounding the brave women and men on the front lines in a Middle East conflict. [It] skewers cynical embedded journalists, scheming government officials, a show-tune singing colonel, and the media's insatiable desire for heroes."
The play is dedicated, according to Robbins, to Joe Strummer, the late leader of punk rock group The Clash.
"Embedded" had its world premiere on Nov. 15, 2003, at The Actors' Gang Theater in Los Angeles, where Robbins is artistic director.
Robbins told The New York Times today: "People have been questioning my patriotism, and that gets your attention. I grew up on the streets of New York, so I think in a survival mode. If you attack me, I'm going to respond."
The play portrays a U.S. attack on the fictional nation of Gomorrah. One of the play's chief characters is a Colonel Hardchannel who berates American journalists as maggots and tells them they must submit all reports to him. "If a Babylonian granary is bombed," he thunders, "it is to be called a poison factory." He also encourages photographers to shoot close-ups of mass graves, but avoid taking photos of casualties caused by the Americans.
There are also characters clearly based on Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Jessica Lynch. Robbins says the play is in the "punk" spirit of "rude" satire.
Jordan Crossing Back
LOS ANGELES January 14, 2004 (Zap2it.com) - As expected, NBC announced on Wednesday (Jan. 14) that long-absent drama "Crossing Jordan" will return to the network's schedule in March. The Jill Hennessy series will move into the Sunday 10 p.m. ET slot unsuccessfully occupied by the Rob Lowe legal disappointment "The Lyon's Den."
"Crossing Jordan" took the fall off to accommodate Hennessy's pregnancy. Initially the show was set for a January return, but the star requested slightly more time to spend with her newborn, pushing its third-season launch two months later. The show's first six episodes were shot last spring.
Hennessy returns as Dr. Jordan Cavanaugh, a Boston medical examiner with a checkered past.
Miguel Ferrer's mentoring Dr. Garret Macy and Ivan Sergei's Dr. Peter Winslow will also be back, as will Jerry O'Connell in the recurring role of Detective Woody Hoyt.
New to the cast this season is two-time Daytime Emmy winner Jennifer Finnigan ("The Bold and the Beautiful"), who will play a pathology resident in the coroner's office.
In its first season, "Crossing Jordan" was television's most watched new drama among adults 18-49 and the series averaged 10.6 million viewers last year.
Angel Called Smartest Drama on Network TV
The Web January 12, 2004 (eXoNews) - Can't say I entirely agree with "2003's Most Daring TV, Top 10 shows that broke the rules, kept us guessing" by Dave McCoy over at MSN Entertainment.
In fact, nine out of his ten choices are shows I either don't care to watch or can't because they're on pay cable stations. Strange, then, that Dave is so completely right about his number 3 choice.
Here's what he said about Angel:
"To be honest, the last several seasons of Joss Whedon's brooding vampire-with-a-soul-kicking-demon-ass-in-Los Angeles show were stronger, smarter, more inspired than the final seasons of 'Buffy.' With 'Buffy' retired, its spin-off can finally get the respect it's been deserving for the past four years. A lot went down for Angel and his crew in 2003, and in typical tradition, most of it was very, very dark, as the show required a lot from its audience. Angel had and then lost a son. He fell in love with Cordilia, only to have her fall into a coma (and off the show). His crew battled and defeated a god-like demon that felt like a pointed (and very daring) metaphor for the religious right. And finally they took over a corporate law firm that may or may not be corrupting them. Oh, yeah, and Spike (James Marsters) from 'Buffy' joined the show, sending the humor quotient even higher. As long as the execs at the WB keep giving this show air time, Whedon and company will continue to turn out the smartest drama on network TV."
Good call, Dave, but how can somebody who obviously loves Angel, puts runner-up Jon Stewart in a league of his own and praises Firefly and Lucky as "Gone but not forgotten", also like the incredibly stupid "Survivor: Pearl Islands" or the world's most ugly violent cop show "The Shield"?
I guess there's no accounting for taste. Maybe you should cut off HBO and watch more basic cable, Dave. You seem to have missed Nip/Tuck and The Dead Zone and Peacemakers and Mr. Monk last year too.
Oh, and you spelled Cordelia wrong, Dave.
If you really care to read about what Dave likes and dislikes, he's at http://entertainment.msn.com/news/article.aspx?news=144298
Angel Official site - http://www.thewb.com/Shows/Show/0,7353,||139,00.html
Fox Goes for Year-round Programming
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES January 16, 2004 (Reuters) - The new top executive of Fox television said on Friday the struggling network is moving to a year-round programming cycle, marking the latest bid by a major broadcaster to break from the traditional September-to-May TV season.
"When May is over, our new season will begin in June," Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman said during a presentation to a gathering of television critics. "We are not seasonal programmers. We are 12-month-a-year programmers."
She said the shift was dictated by changing imperatives in the television business, including growing competition from the proliferation of popular shows year-round on cable channels.
But the move also is driven by Fox's own coverage of the major league baseball playoffs in the fall, a fact of life that has made it hard for the News Corp. Ltd.-owned network to stick with a conventional timetable for season premieres.
NBC's top executive, Jeff Zucker, announced on Wednesday that his network will start its 2004-2005 TV season in late August and early September, using the strength of Summer Olympics telecasts to help promote its new lineup.
While a number of networks, including Fox, have begun in recent years to launch reality shows like "American Idol" and "Survivor" during the once-fallow months of summer, few new scripted dramas or comedies are rolled out before the time-honored start of the new season in September.
One notable exception was "Northern Exposure," which debuted on CBS in July 1990 and went on to become a hit. And Fox launched the second season of "Beverly Hills 90210" in mid-July 1991, giving the then-fledgling series a big boost against a host of summer reruns.
MOVE ALREADY UNDERWAY
More recently, Fox reaped success with last summer's launch of its steamy new drama "The O.C.," which has become one of the few bright spots on its current schedule.
Berman said Fox has been veering away from a traditional programming cycle for the past two years, initiating development and production of new shows sooner in the calendar than was once the norm.
Starting this year, Fox will roll out scripted new shows as early as June that are on par with the prime-time fare normally premiering in September, Berman said. "That is a huge change in the way business is done in Hollywood, and I believe the audience will come around to it," she said.
One candidate for a June launch is the courtroom drama "The Jury," whose producers include Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana (Homicide: Life on the Street").
But for now, veteran Fox comedies and dramas such as "The Simpsons," espionage thriller "24" and "That '70s Show" will probably continue to make their returns after baseball in late autumn, Berman said.
Fox is banking much of its immediate future on an upcoming third edition of the talent show sensation "American Idol," which helped transform the network's ratings from mediocre to marvelous in the second half of last season.
Since then, Fox has found itself faltering in the ratings again, with misfires by several promising new shows, including the porn-themed drama "Skin," the new sitcom "Luis" and a second installment of "Joe Millionaire."
Fox still has a few mid-season offerings up its sleeve for March, including the new comedy "Cracking Up," starring "Saturday Night Live" alumna Molly Shannon, and an hour-long supernatural dramedy called "Wonderfalls," about a young tourist shop clerk who talks with inanimate objects.
The success of those shows, and Fox's new programming strategy, is especially important to Berman, who became the network's top executive with the recently announced departure of Fox Television Entertainment Group Chairman Sandy Grushow.