Hollywood star Burt Reynolds dies at 82

Burt Reynolds, left, discusses a scene with director Paul Bogart during location shooting of the ABC-TV series ‘Hawk,’ in New York, in 1966. Reynolds, who starred in films including ‘Deliverance,’ ‘Boogie Nights,’ and the ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ films, has died at the age of 82. (AP Photo)
Updated 06 September 2018
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Hollywood star Burt Reynolds dies at 82

  • Reynolds was one of the most bankable actors in the film industry in the 1970s, reeling off a series of box office smashes
  • He often played a lovable rascal who outwits local authorities as in director Hal Needham’s 1977 crowd-pleasing action comedy Smokey and the Bandit

NEW YORK: Burt Reynolds, whose good looks and charm made him one of Hollywood’s most popular actors as he starred in films such as “Deliverance,” “The Longest Yard” and “Smokey and the Bandit” in the 1970s and ‘80s, died on Thursday age of 82, The Hollywood Reporter said, citing his manager.
At the peak of his career, Reynolds was one of the most bankable actors in the film industry, reeling off a series of box office smashes until a career downturn in the mid-1980s. He rebounded in 1997 with a nomination for a best supporting actor Academy Award for “Boogie Nights” and won an Emmy Award for his role in the 1990-1994 TV series “Evening Shade.”
With his trademark mustache, rugged looks and macho aura, he was a leading actor in the 1970s. 
Reynolds’ personal life sometimes overshadowed his movies, with marriages that ended in divorce to actresses Loni Anderson and Judy Carne and romances with others, including Sally Field and Dinah Shore. Reynolds also generated attention for financial woes and his struggles with prescription pain medication.
Reynolds cited director John Boorman’s Oscar-nominated 1972 “Deliverance” as his best film. He played tough-guy Lewis Medlock — opposite Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox — in the chilling tale of a canoe trip gone bad in rural Georgia.
He starred in dozens of films, also including “White Lightning” (1973), “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings” (1975), “Hustle” (1975), “Nickelodeon” (1976) and “Semi-Tough” (1977). He was the top money-making star at the box office in an annual poll of movie exhibitors 1978 through 1982.
Many of his films were set in the South. He often played a lovable rascal who outwits local authorities as in director Hal Needham’s 1977 crowd-pleasing action comedy “Smokey and the Bandit,” co-starring his girlfriend Field and Jackie Gleason, and its two sequels.
Another of his better roles was that of former a pro quarterback who lands in prison and assembles a team of convicts to play the warden’s squad of brutal prison guards in 1974’s rollicking “The Longest Yard,” directed by Robert Aldrich. He appeared in a supporting role 2005’s remake with Adam Sandler.
Reynolds also directed several movies in which he starred, including “Gator” (1976), “The End” (1978), “Sharky’s Machine” (1981) and “Stick” (1985).
While some of his performances were critically praised, others were ridiculed, particularly in the bloated action comedy “Cannonball Run II,” a sequel to his financial success “The Cannonball Run” (1981). He also starred in the notorious 1975 musical flop “At Long Last Love,” a film so atrocious that director Peter Bogdanovich publicly apologized for making it.
Reynolds turned down notable roles including Han Solo in “Star Wars,” which went to Harrison Ford; the title role in a James Bond film; and the astronaut in “Terms of Endearment” that Jack Nicholson turned into an Oscar-winning performance.
Reynolds said in 2012 that he regretted some of his film choices. “I took the part that was the most fun — ‘Oh, this will be fun.’ I didn’t take the part that would be the most challenging,” told television interviewer Piers Morgan in 2012.
Asked to come up with his own epitaph, Reynolds said, “He lived a hell of a life, and did his best — his very best — not to hurt anybody.”
Burton Leon Reynolds Jr. was born on Feb. 11, 1936, and grew up in Florida. He was a fine athlete and played football at Florida State University in the 1950s before his professional football hopes were dashed by injuries suffered in a car crash.
He began acting after enrolling in a junior college. He moved to New York and landed minor stage and TV roles before making his film debut in 1961. Reynolds often was cast in Westerns, including the popular “Gunsmoke” television series in the 1960s.
In 1972, the same year “Deliverance” was released, he showed versatility by also starring in Woody Allen’s comedy “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask.”
Reynolds starred in romantic comedies as well, including “Starting Over” (1979) with Jill Clayburgh and Candice Bergen, and in the musical comedy “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” (1982) with Dolly Parton.
His film career stalled in the mid-1980s with several misfires and he was never again a leading movie star.
Reynolds turned to television and had a successful run on the situation comedy “Evening Shade,” co-starring Marilu Henner and Charles Durning. He continued to appear in films in lesser but sometimes noteworthy roles.
He earned his only career Oscar nomination in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights” (1997), starring Mark Wahlberg.
He experienced some health issues later in his life. He underwent quintuple heart bypass surgery in 2010 and was hospitalized in intensive care in 2013 with the flu.


One million species risk extinction due to humans: draft UN report

Updated 23 April 2019
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One million species risk extinction due to humans: draft UN report

  • Biodiversity loss and global warming are closely linked, according to the 44-page Summary for Policy Makers
  • Delegates from 130 nations meeting in Paris from April 29 will vet the executive summary line-by-line

PARIS: Up to one million species face extinction due to human influence, according to a draft UN report obtained by AFP that painstakingly catalogues how humanity has undermined the natural resources upon which its very survival depends.
The accelerating loss of clean air, drinkable water, CO2-absorbing forests, pollinating insects, protein-rich fish and storm-blocking mangroves — to name but a few of the dwindling services rendered by Nature — poses no less of a threat than climate change, says the report, set to be unveiled May 6.
Indeed, biodiversity loss and global warming are closely linked, according to the 44-page Summary for Policy Makers, which distills a 1,800-page UN assessment of scientific literature on the state of Nature.
Delegates from 130 nations meeting in Paris from April 29 will vet the executive summary line-by-line. Wording may change, but figures lifted from the underlying report cannot be altered.
“We need to recognize that climate change and loss of Nature are equally important, not just for the environment, but as development and economic issues as well,” Robert Watson, chair of the UN-mandated body that compiled the report, said, without divulging its findings.
“The way we produce our food and energy is undermining the regulating services that we get from Nature,” he said, adding that only “transformative change” can stem the damage.
Deforestation and agriculture, including livestock production, account for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, and have wreaked havoc on natural ecosystems as well.
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report warns of “an imminent rapid acceleration in the global rate of species extinction.”
The pace of loss “is already tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years,” it notes.
“Half-a-million to a million species are projected to be threatened with extinction, many within decades.”
Many experts think a so-called “mass extinction event” — only the sixth in the last half-billion years — is already under way.
The most recent saw the end of the Cretaceous period some 66 million years ago, when a 10-kilometer-wide asteroid strike wiped out most lifeforms.
Scientists estimate that Earth is today home to some eight million distinct species, a majority of them insects.
A quarter of catalogued animal and plant species are already being crowded, eaten or poisoned out of existence.
The drop in sheer numbers is even more dramatic, with wild mammal biomass — their collective weight — down by 82 percent.
Humans and livestock account for more than 95 percent of mammal biomass.
“If we’re going to have a sustainable planet that provides services to communities around the world, we need to change this trajectory in the next ten years, just as we need to do that with climate,” noted WWF chief scientist Rebecca Shaw, formerly a member of the UN scientific bodies for both climate and biodiversity.
The direct causes of species loss, in order of importance, are shrinking habitat and land-use change, hunting for food or illicit trade in body parts, climate change, pollution, and alien species such as rats, mosquitoes and snakes that hitch rides on ships or planes, the report finds.
“There are also two big indirect drivers of biodiversity loss and climate change — the number of people in the world and their growing ability to consume,” said Watson.
Once seen as primarily a future threat to animal and plant life, the disruptive impact of global warming has accelerated.
Shifts in the distribution of species, for example, will likely double if average temperature go up a notch from 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) to 2C.
So far, the global thermometer has risen 1C compared with mid-19th century levels.
The 2015 Paris Agreement enjoins nations to cap the rise to “well below” 2C. But a landmark UN climate report in October said that would still be enough to boost the intensity and frequency of deadly heatwaves, droughts, floods and storms.
Other findings in the report include:
- Three-quarters of land surfaces, 40 percent of the marine environment, and 50 percent of inland waterways across the globe have been “severely altered.”
- Many of the areas where Nature’s contribution to human wellbeing will be most severely compromised are home to indigenous peoples and the world’s poorest communities that are also vulnerable to climate change.
- More than two billion people rely on wood fuel for energy, four billion rely on natural medicines, and more than 75 percent of global food crops require animal pollination.
- Nearly half of land and marine ecosystems have been profoundly compromised by human interference in the last 50 years.
- Subsidies to fisheries, industrial agriculture, livestock raising, forestry, mining and the production of biofuel or fossil fuel energy encourage waste, inefficiency and over-consumption.
The report cautioned against climate change solutions that may inadvertently harm Nature.
The use, for example, of biofuels combined with “carbon capture and storage” — the sequestration of CO2 released when biofuels are burned — is widely seen as key in the transition to green energy on a global scale.
But the land needed to grow all those biofuel crops may wind up cutting into food production, the expansion of protected areas or reforestation efforts.