Human rights group slams Kanye for Kazakhstan trip
September 05, 2013 10:40 AM

NEW YORK — The Human Rights Foundation has criticized Kanye West for performing at a wedding in Kazakhstan, joining a chorus of detractors who say he legitimized the human rights violations of the nation’s president.

The rapper performed at the wedding of Nursultan Nazar-bayev’s grandson last Saturday. The human rights group compared the appearance to a similar visit earlier this summer by Jennifer Lopez to Turkmenistan, which has its own history of human rights violations.

HRF President Thor Halvorssen said in a statement that Kazakhstan is a “human rights wasteland” where entertainers like West would be imprisoned for expressing their views.

West’s publicist did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the situation.

The foundation says Nazarbayev curbs the political rights of his people, suppresses the media and kidnaps the family members of dissidents to maintain his rule.

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NEW YORK — Busy cancer patient Valerie Harper leads a class of 12 amateur hoofers in the upcoming 17th season of “Dancing With the Stars.”

The cast was revealed Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

For a show that has reached an increasingly older audience, ABC added an injection of youth with reality stars Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of “Jersey Shore” and Ozzy’s kid Jack Osbourne.

Harper has defied odds with her survival since being diagnosed earlier this year with brain cancer.

She recently filmed a movie role and joined a Nick at Nite reunion of “The Mary Tyler Moore” cast.

Other contestants are Bill Nye, the “Science Guy”; “Pretty Little Liars” actor Brant Daugherty; former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson; singer and actress Christina Milian; actress Elizabeth Berkley; “High School Musical” actor Corbin Bleu; “Glee” actress Amber Riley; country comic Bill Engvall; and “King of Queens” actress Leah Remini.

The new season of “Dancing With the Stars” will premiere Sept. 16.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler made a surprise appearance in Nashville and performed two songs before the audience was ushered out for the next show.

Tyler was in the audience Tuesday night at the Bluebird Cafe watching four Nashville songwriters perform in the round: Mallary Hope, Phil Barton, Lindsey Lee and Marti Frederiksen.

The small, 90-seat venue is where many country singers first got their break and where many established artists often stop by to play a few songs or listen.

Frederiksen invited Tyler to sing “Jaded,” which Frederiksen co-wrote.

Tyler then jumped on Lee’s piano to belt out the band’s power ballad “Dream On.”

After the show, Tyler told The Associated Press that he had never performed in a room that small and that he was in Nashville to write songs.

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PARIS — Apparently love didn’t get lost in translation for Scarlett Johansson, who is engaged to a Frenchman and onetime journalist.

Johansson’s rep, Marcel Pariseau, confirmed her engagement to Romain Dauriac today.

Pariseau said no date was set for their wedding.

Johansson, 28, whose marriage to actor Ryan Reynolds ended in 2010, is generally reluctant to talk about her private life, but has explained what she does and doesn’t want in a relationship.

“I don’t like jealous behavior,” she told Marie Claire magazine in an interview earlier this year.

“It’s really unattractive because it shows a sort of insecurity.”

Johansson starred in “Lost in Translation” and was in Italy this week promoting “Under the Skin” when the large diamond ring on her left hand started getting attention.

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NEW YORK — Michelle Williams will make her Broadway debut in a role best known by Liza Minnelli — party girl Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.”

The Roundabout Theatre Company confirmed Wednesday that the former “Dawson’s Creek” and “Brokeback Mountain” star will join Alan Cumming in the revival.

Williams takes over after Emma Stone withdrew due to scheduling conflicts.

Previews begin March 21 with an opening set for April 24 at the Studio 54 theater on Broadway.

Cumming, who will be reprising his 1998 turn as Master of Ceremonies, recently ended a one-man “Macbeth.”

Set in Berlin, “Cabaret” centers on the world of the indulgent Kit Kat Klub on the brink of World War II.

It originally opened on Broadway in 1966 with songs by John Kander and Fred Ebb.

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