Bassem Youssef becomes first Arab to host Emmy Awards

Updated 24 November 2015
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Bassem Youssef becomes first Arab to host Emmy Awards

NEW YORK: France had a big night Monday at the International Emmys with a leading three awards, led by the hit crime thriller “Engrenages” (“Spiral“) which won for best drama series. But the normally festive ceremony was tempered by reflections on the recent Paris terrorist attacks.
The tone for the evening was set by the host, Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, dubbed “the Jon Stewart of the Arab world,” who paused with the joke-making in his opening monologue to observe that “the world is still in a state of trauma” after recent attacks in Paris, Mali, Lebanon, Nigeria, Kenya and the Sinai in his home country.
“When people get together to celebrate art and creativity and the best of what the human race can aspire to we find our capacity to heal and to grow,” he said. “When we laugh and do what we do here tonight, those evil bastards lose.”
The highlight of the awards ceremony came when “Downton Abbey” creator and writer Julian Fellowes was presented the honorary International Emmy Founders Award by the show’s executive producer Gareth Neame and actress Elizabeth McGovern, who stars as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham.
The Emmy for arts programming went to “Illustre & Inconnu: Comment Jacques Jaujard a Sauve le Louvre” (“The Man Who Saved the Louvre“) about the French National Museums director who organized a resistance group to keep thousands of artworks out of the Nazis’ hands.I.
The other French winner was “Soldat Blanc” (“White Soldier“), about two young soldiers in Saigon whose friendship is shattered when they end up on opposite sides in the early days of the Viet Minh insurgency against French colonial rule, which took the Emmy for best TV movie/mini-series.
The best actor award went to Maarten Heijmans of the Netherlands for “Ramses,” which chronicles the rise and fall of the popular Dutch singer and actor Ramses Shaffy. Norway’s Anneke von der Lippe won the best actress Emmy for “Eyewitness” in which she plays a small town police chief caught in the middle of a murder investigation.
The awards ceremony, organized by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, honors excellence in TV programming outside the US


Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

Updated 16 July 2019
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Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

  • The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April
  • Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films

BEIRUT: Cliff divers used to competing in isolated spots have been leaping into the Mediterranean in bustling Beirut, the first time the Lebanese capital’s landmark Raouche Rock has hosted an international contest.
The towering rock, also known as Pigeons Rock, is an enduring symbol of a city where many other landmarks were destroyed by the 1975-90 civil war.
“Normally when we have cliffs like this, it is in the middle of nowhere. I have never been to a place with an amazing cliff right in the city center,” said Gary Hunt, a Briton who won the men’s competition on Sunday.
The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April on El Nido island in the Philippines and winds up in Bilbao, Spain in September.
Hunt became the first diver in the series history to receive a perfect 10 score from each of the five judges at Sunday’s competition.
In the women’s contest, Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland, 27, scored her sixth consecutive win of this series.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you perform a dive. You still get up there 22 meters (72 feet) high and you still have all these negative emotions,” said Iffland, who has been diving since she was nine.
“To overcome that fear is something that I cannot express.”
Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films.
Daring Lebanese have leapt from the rock for generations. Some have also committed suicide from it.
Hundreds of spectators watched the competition, which ended on Sunday, from the adjacent rocks and promenade.
’Young again’
Among them was 63-year-old fisherman Mohamed Itani, who said he had jumped off the cliff 36 times over the years for fun. “It is beautiful,” said Itani as he watched the divers. “It makes me feel young again.”
Judges mark the divers on their take-off and entry to the water and number of twists, somersaults and position in the air.
Hunt, 35, said he used to count to three just before he jumped but now just takes two breaths: one when he lifts his arms up and one when he leaps.
“There are three seconds in that air where you are just in total control. Your brain and your body decide what you do and you are completely free,” he said.
Itani described a similar feeling. “You’re like an eagle in the air,” he said.