Will Smith ‘in talks’ to play Genie in Disney’s Aladdin

Will Smith
Updated 21 April 2017
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Will Smith ‘in talks’ to play Genie in Disney’s Aladdin

DUBAI: Will Smith is reportedly in talks to play the role of Genie in Guy Ritchie’s live-action version of Aladdin.
Deadline reported that Smith is in the early stages of talks to star in the Disney film.
The report follows casting calls for Middle Eastern-looking auditionees in what seems to be an attempt to avoid whitewashing by the filmmakers.
The casting call asks for actors between the ages of 18-25 to apply for the coveted lead roles of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine and states that singing and dance skills are “a plus.”
Disney’s original animated version of Aladdin featuring the voice of the late Robin Williams hit cinema screens in 1992, and became the highest-grossing film of the year. A pair of straight-to-video sequels followed, but Williams reportedly stated in his will that his out-takes from the original film could never be used to make another sequel.
The new Aladdin movie is to be the latest in Disney’s successful series of live-action remakes based on its classic animated films.
“Beauty And The Beast,” starring Emma Watson as Belle, was one of the most anticipated movies of 2017 and has so far grossed over $1 billion worldwide.


Singapore’s deaf ‘bird whisperer’ forms rare bond with feathered friends

Updated 44 min 14 sec ago
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Singapore’s deaf ‘bird whisperer’ forms rare bond with feathered friends

SINGAPORE: Deaf since childhood, Razali Bin Mohamad Habidin has developed a closer bond with the creatures under his care than any other keeper at Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park, where other staff refer to him simply as the “bird whisperer.”
Razali, who lost 80 percent of his hearing after falling ill as a baby, started working at the park over two decades ago, and has risen to the position of deputy head avian keeper.
He communicates with the birds through grunts, gestures and body languages and said that he recognizes the birds by their “behaviors and personalities.”
“All of them are my friends,” he added, communicating through a mix of gestures and Malay.
Other staff at the park have dubbed the 48-year-old “the bird whisperer” — after Hollywood film “The Horse Whisperer,” starring Robert Redford as a trainer with a gift for understanding horses.
“He has a way of communicating with the birds that very few of us can,” said assistant curator Angelin Lim. “Just by a look, he knows whether or not the bird is well.”
Communication with his colleagues can be more challenging than with the birds.
Razali leads about a dozen staff and giving them instructions usually involves him making various complex hand gestures, and then reading the lips of his colleagues when they respond.
His way with the creatures at the park, which is home to more than 5,000 birds from parrots to hornbills, was on display as he brought a snack of palm fruits into an enclosure filled with parrots.
The hyacinth macaws, the world’s largest parrots, stopped squawking and watched him curiously before following him.
One of the giant birds perched on his shoulder, playfully rubbed his finger with its beak — a sign of trust and affection — and ate out of his hand.