VIDEO: 19-year-old Lebanese-Brazilian wows millions on YouTube

(SAO PAULO, BRAZIL) — Lebanese-Brazilian singer and songwriter Luciana Zogbi is impressing millions of people on YouTube with beautifully sung covers of hit American singles, including John Legend’s “All of Me” and James Morrison’s “Broken Strings.”

The 19-year-old singer has over 17 million YouTube views and 170,000 Facebook likes.

Watch Luciana perform “All of Me”:

Watch Luciana perform “Broken Strings”:

To watch more of Luciana, click here.

Clooney, Alamuddin in Venice for wedding

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(VENICE, ITALY) — George Clooney and his Lebanon-born British fiancee Amal Alamuddin arrived in Venice Friday for a spectacular waterfront wedding billed as the party of the year.

Riding on a watertaxi dubbed “Amore,” the celebrity pair crossed Venice’s Grand Canal at around 3 p.m., gliding up to the Hotel Cipriani on the island of Giudecca, where they will be hosting A-list guests for a gala dinner.

The silver-haired actor, director and producer, was seen helping his father Nick Clooney onto a “vaporetto” boat, as they headed into the first night of the nuptials, set to draw out over the weekend.

Traveling with them was the ex-supermodel Cindy Crawford, one of dozens of stars to have flocked to Venice – paparazzi in tow – for the wedding of the world’s most sought-after catch and his human rights lawyer fiancee.

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock and Matt Damon will also be checking in to the Cipriani before the gala meal rustled up by Italian chef Riccardo de Pra.

Damon was among the first guests spotted at Venice airport Friday, along with Clooney’s cousin Miguel Ferrer and the “Spin City” stars Ellen Barkin and Richard Kind.

“If I’d known there would be all of you here, I’d have put on some makeup and done my hair,” quipped Kind, one of Clooney’s oldest friends.

The 53-year-old actor and Alamuddin, 36, are expected to be officially married in a civil ceremony Monday, but the city of masks is preparing for a weekend of serious partying before then.

Sources said the actor would be celebrating with 136 guests at a reception Saturday at the fresco-adorned Aman hotel, an exclusive seven-star hotel in the 450-year-old Palazzo Papadopoli.

“Clooney’s on everyone’s lips here in Venice, the girls in particular are all in a tizzy, they’ll be lining the banks of the canal to see him,” watertaxi driver Bruno Bartolini said.

“The city has ground to a halt because they’re using the Grand Canal, but what does that matter: There’s nothing better than getting married in Venice,” Bartolini said.

Guests will be escorted by police boats to the exclusive seven-star Aman Saturday, to keep overexcited Clooney admirers and hundreds of photographers at a distance.

They’ll be met with lashings of fizz and canapes in the garden, an oasis sheltered from the bustle of the canal, before sitting down in the main library to a sumptuous five-course dinner, according to a source close to the hotel.

The Aman’s restaurant will be turned into a nightclub, where they’ll dance the night away, a source said, with Lana Del Rey reportedly preparing to serenade the couple.

Speed boats will be banned from stopping in front of the hotel to keep goggling to a minimum.

Rome’s former mayor Walter Veltroni, a longtime friend of Clooney’s, will be performing the civil ceremony, which is likely to be held in the town hall, the stunning Ca’ Farsetti 14th century palace opposite the Aman hotel.

The streets around the town hall will be off-limits to the public from 12 noon for two hours Monday, when the ceremony is expected to take place.

Though the world’s most famous waterway will not be closed entirely, there were grumbles in the northern Italian city over the disruption and such an ostentatious display of wealth in times of economic crisis.

“Clooney’s not bringing us bread for our tables,” said 16-year-old Viviana, “coming here with all his nice money while we can’t find jobs.”

Fellow local resident Silvana agreed: “It would have been better for all of us if he’d gone to get married in some secret countryside location.”

But nothing appears able to dampen the spirits of the crowds of tourists eagerly snapping photographs of the town hall and Aman from the water ferries, or the locals staking out the best viewing positions in houses along the canal.

Anything for a glimpse of the former bachelor in his Armani wedding suit and Alamuddin in an Alexander McQueen creation designed by Sarah Burton, the woman behind the gown worn by Britain’s Kate Middleton at her wedding to Prince William in 2011.

Alamuddin, who moved to Britain with her family as a 3-year-old, met the Hollywood star through his humanitarian work.

Source: Agence France Presse (AFP)

Virgin Radio Lebanon is highest reaching Facebook page in the world

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(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — The Virgin Radio Lebanon Facebook page has garnered the highest engagement numbers of any other Facebook page worldwide, according to likealyzer.com statistics.

Likealyzer.com is an online tool for monitoring Facebook pages traffic and stats. Social media analysts said that Virgin Radio is now ranked number one in the PTAT, “People Talking About This”, which is the measure of engagement across all of Facebook worldwide, and across all categories.

“The ranking is considered a phenomenal achievement for a page, coming out of Lebanon, and that is only just over a year old,” said the General Manager of Virgin Radio Lebanon, Naji Cherabieh, in a statement.

“Thank you for your support since day one and for making Virgin Radio Lebanon not only the highest reaching social media in the world, but also the highest reaching radio station in Lebanon.

“Several market research have now shown that Virgin Radio is leading across ages 13 to 45, within both genders, across Greater Beirut & Mount Lebanon,” he added.

“Thanks again, and we promise the best is yet to come.”

Ramzi Alamuddin “couldn’t seem more delighted” with marriage

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(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — The 53-year-old actor will tie the knot with the human rights lawyer in Venice, Italy, later this month and her dad Ramzi is thrilled with his daughter’s choice of husband.

A source told People magazine: “Ramzi couldn’t seem more delighted. He finds Clooney very sympathetic, intelligent, cool, easygoing and crazy in love with Amal!”

The 77-year-old lecturer has been help planning the couple’s wedding but has refused to spill any of the details to his friends.

The source said: “He is extremely calm. He’s not saying a thing about the wedding. He’s a card player and he’s not giving away anything away!”

Despite George’s $180 million fortune, it was recently reported Amal’s parents were insisted on sticking to tradition and paying for the wedding.

An insider previously explained: “(They are) old-fashioned when it comes to these things.”

The couple are expected to tie the knot on September 27 at a black-tie affair, and final preparations are already underway.

Actor Matt Damon and his wife, Luciana Barroso, and supermodel Cindy Crawford and her husband, Rande Gerber, who is expected to be George’s best man, will be among the small number of guests.

The insider added: “He wanted just 60 genuine friends and family.”

Source: Amal Alamuddin’s parents ‘paying for most’ of wedding

clooney-alamuddin(LOS ANGELES, CA) — A source says George Clooney’s fiancée’s family are paying for most of their upcoming wedding in Venice, Italy.

The 53-year-old actor, who has an estimated fortune of $180 million, reportedly isn’t footing the bill for his lavish nuptials later this month, as Amal Alamuddin’s parents have insisted on sticking to the tradition of the bride’s family paying for the event.

A source told Us Weekly magazine: “Crazy enough, her family is paying for most of it!”

The British barrister’s mother and father, Ramzi and Baria Alamuddin, also helped them decide on a location and date. An insider previously explained: “[They are] old-fashioned when it comes to these things.”

The brunette beauty’s mother is an editor at Lebanese newspaper Al Hayat, while Ramzi, is a retired business professor, who taught at the Beirut campus of the American University.

The couple are expected to tie the knot on September 27 at a black-tie affair, and final preparations are already underway.

The source said: “It’s all very classy.”

Actor Matt Damon and his wife, Luciana Barroso, and supermodel Cindy Crawford and her husband, Rande Gerber, who is expected to be George’s best man, will be among the small number of guests.

The insider added: “He wanted just 60 genuine friends and family.”

Earlier this month, two-time Oscar winner George admitted he can’t wait to get married.

The “Monuments Men” star said: “I would just like to say to my bride-to-be, Amal, that I love you very much. And I can’t wait to be your husband.”

Marwan Khoury signs with Universal Music MENA

marwan-khoury(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Universal Music MENA announces today the signing of major Arabic artist, Marwan Khoury to the label and his latest studio album ‘El Aad El Aaksi’ which is now available to stream on exclusively on Anghami with remaining music platforms releasing on September 15.

“Having Marwan on board with us at Universal Music MENA is a huge achievement as he is such a globally recognized talent for his compositions and writing of Arabic music for both himself and other Arab artists,” said Tamer El Betar, licensing manager at Universal Music MENA. “We are dedicated to further Marwan’s musical career internationally and look forward to many more years of success with him.”

‘El Aad El Aaksi’ is Marwan’s sixth studio album, which took him 2 years to produce from his studio in Beirut, Lebanon.

“We are incredibly excited to have such a profound local talent with us at the label and we look forward to continuing his successful journey together with his new album,” said Patrick Boulos, CEO of the company.

What’s being tipped to be the regions hottest Arabic album of 2014, the Lebanese national who is considered one of the most respected Arab artists globally, is no stranger to writing well produced compositions which have become internationally recognized bestsellers and adapted in many other countries.

His work been performed by some of the most famous artists in the Arab World and has also written and composed hits for a vast list of leading Arabic artists such as Majida El Roumi, Warda, and Saber Al Roubai.

Elissa gets creative with online merchandise shop

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 6.42.20 PM(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese superstar Elissa got creative this week when she decided to launch a new online merchandise site. The diva opened the online boutique she’s calling “The Elissa Store.”

The site, which is expected to be a quick cash generating opportunity for Elissa, features products from her latest album, “Halet Hob” (A Case of Love).

The products feature a mug with printed photographs priced at 10 US dollars, a T-shirt with her photo on it for 25 dollars, and an iPhone case for 20 dollars.

According to the site, the products are “exclusive” and will sell signed posters and archived music CDs in the coming weeks.

For more information, click here.

Myriam Fares gets married to Lebanese-American

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese singer Myriam Fares announced this weekend that she’s on her honeymoon, shocking thousands of her fans around the world.

A photograph was posted on Facebook of a man and Fares’ hands sporting wedding bands with the caption, “Honeymoon”.

Arab entertainment company Rotana released a statement confirming her recent marriage to a man named Danny Mitri. Mitri is Lebanese but had been living in the United States.

Rotana says that when he recently returned to his homeland, he met Fares and swept her off her feet.

Fares recently released a new music video titled, “Degou El Toboul” which show real footage from her wedding celebration and honeymoon.

Watch below:

Salma Hayek on producing Kahlil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’

(LOS ANGELES, CA) — Salma Hayek remembers the first time she saw a copy of The Prophet, a book of poetry by Kahlil Gibran.

It was at her paternal grandfather’s house in Lebanon. “I’m sorry, I was his favorite. We were very close and I lost him when I was six. He used to have this book on his bedside table. Many years went by and, when I was 18, I found this book again and I read it. For me, it was my grandfather teaching me about life through the book, and I learnt so much about the man who meant so much to me.”

Hayek has returned to the book, time and again, each time taking new meaning from it. In her teens it was the tales of love, in her twenties and thirties, the sections on good and evil. Now, in her forties, it’s the chapter about children. Hayek has a seven-year old daughter with her husband, French billionaire businessman François Henri-Pinault.

The Prophet will have its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month, following a rather spectacular preview at the Cannes Film Festival. The Oscar-nominated director of The Lion King, Roger Allers, wrote the screenplay and directed the segments that inter link the chapters. A who’s who of world animation – Joan C. Gratz, Bill Plympton, Joann Sfar and the Brizzi brothers – are also involved.

Hayek produced the film. She founded her company, Ventanarosa, in 1999 and has always used it to realise difficult projects such as her biopic of the artist Frida Kahlo. “If they tell me it’s impossible and a ridiculous idea then I want to do it. When I had to sell Frida, I would say to financiers, ‘It’s a biopic about Mexican communists and artists. And it’s a love story about a hairy cripple and a fat man.’ Now I’m saying, ‘I’m making this animation about a philosophy book, and by the way it has nine directors attached to it, they all have different styles, nothing looks the same, and it’s 2D. But don’t worry because the author is Lebanese.’”

Hayek also voices Kamila, the girl who discovers the works of Kahlil Gibran. She’s excited finally to make use of her Arabic roots: “As a Lebanese woman, I’ve been looking for a part where I could represent Arab women. In my long career, I’ve not been able to find one, which made me really sad. This film is a love letter to my heritage.”

Salma is Arabic for “calm”, ironic given that the actress is usually cast as the whirlwind in any screen relationship. It’s also odd to hear her speak so vociferously about being Arab. While her grandfather was Lebanese, her parents were born in Central America – her mother an opera singer and talent scout, her father a businessman, who once ran for mayor in the port city of Coatzacoalcos, where she was born. After studying international relations in Mexico City, she landed the title role in Mexican telenovela Teresa, when she was 23. It made her a star in her homeland. Hollywood came after she appeared opposite Antonio Banderas in the 1995 hit Desperado. Superstardom was assured when she appeared in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez collaborations Four Rooms and From Dusk Till Dawn.

While appearing in blockbusters such as Wild Wild West and The Faculty, her personal sensibilities were clear from the films that she chose to produce. In 1999 she adapted Gabriel García Márquez’s novel about Colombian peasants living under martial law, No One Writes to the Colonel. It was followed in 2001 by In the Time of the Butterflies, a TV movie based on Julia Alvarez’s novel about the Mirabal sisters, a group of Dominican revolutionary activists.

Her one stint as director came in 2003, when she directed The Maldonado Miracle for Showtime. While Hollywood is willing to accept actresses who become producers, directing is a different ball game, she says. “After I produced Butterflies, the head of Showtime called me and said, ‘I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I want to tell you that you’re not really a producer or an actress, you’re a director. I want you to direct a movie.’ I was so shocked and I said, ‘I don’t think I can.’ But after I did Frida, I was getting offered the same parts, so I went back to him and said, ‘Do you have the project?’ He said yes and I asked to rewrite it.”

She was warned by others not to direct. “I was told if you direct you’ll never get hired as an actress again in this town, because directors don’t want to hire an actress who is also a can director. It’s not the same for actors. We did the movie and I stopped working for some time. Then we got nominated for six Emmys, Best Director among them. But I didn’t go pick it up and I did zero publicity. I would have stopped working even more as an actress.”

The film was nominated for five Daytime Emmy awards and won one, for Outstanding Directing in a Children/Youth/Family Special. But it is true that the acting roles dried up – a change in direction that is also down to her daughter. “Now it has to fit in with my lifestyle. Can I bring my daughter? Is it the right environment for her?”

This is her busiest year as an actress for a long time. She is starring opposite Pierce Brosnan in the Cambridge-set romantic drama How to Make Love Like an Englishman. She’s also in Everly, an action thriller in which she plays a woman who faces assassins sent by her mob boss ex-boyfriend. She is most excited by working on Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone’s period drama The Tale of Tales. “We were shooting in Sicily and Tuscany, but it’s difficult because all the locations are so complicated. I had to climb up onto a rock with a cable attached to me in a 17th-century costume. John C Reilly was in an old diving suit walking against the current, and I’m asking, ‘Is this safe?’”

Yahoo Maktoob partners with Mazzika

Yahoo_Logo11(NEW YORK, NY) — Yahoo Maktoob has announced a partnership with Mazzika to provide premium exclusive Arabic video content as well as archived and new music releases on Yahoo Maktoob Celebrity and Yahoo Maktoob Screen.

Mazzika, an Arab music production and distribution company, owns 14 music labels including regional stars like Tamer Hosny, Amr Diab, and Ragheb Alama. As of today, new music videos and artist releases from Mazzika will become available to view first on Yahoo Maktoob prior to their official launches. Music fans will also have access to unique content including behind-the-scenes videos and exclusive interviews with some of the most famous Arab stars in the region.

Amira Rashad, head of media at Yahoo Maktoob, said: “Our partnership with Mazzika is a step forward in enhancing the overall music offering on our entertainment sites and providing entertaining and inspiring content to enrich people’s online daily habits.”

Reem Raouf, marketing director at Mazzika Group, added: “We are delighted to partner with Yahoo Maktoob in order to bring some of the best content from the music industry online to its wide audience in the region, whether it is recently released video clips, exclusive photos, or all of the latest news on your favorite stars.”

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