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Stevens wins Fox's 'X Factor'

by The Associated Press on December 21, 2012 10:30 AM

NEW YORK -- Tate Stevens, who was mentored by music exec L.A. Reid on the second season of "The X Factor," has won the Fox singing competition.

The 37-year-old country singer from Belton, Mo., beat runner-up Carly Rose Sonenclar, a 13-year-old schoolgirl from Westchester, N.Y., and teenage girl group Fifth Harmony on the finale that aired live Thursday night.

Stevens wins a $5 million recording contract.

More than 35 million votes were cast by viewers after Wednesday's performance show.

Besides Reid, judges this season were Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and series creator Simon Cowell.

Thursday's show was also the grand finale for Reid. Earlier this month, he said he wouldn't be returning to "The X Factor" next year.

No replacement has been announced.

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TORONTO -- The creators of a video purporting to show an eagle swooping down and snatching a toddler from a Montreal park admitted Thursday that it was all a hoax.

The video titled "The Golden Eagle Snatches Kid," posted on YouTube earlier this week, quickly went viral, earning millions of views and becoming the subject of news reports around the globe.

The video's creators said it was intentionally created as a part of a class project to create a viral video hoax at a new-media training institute in Montreal.

"We had no idea what was coming," a giddy Normand Archambault told The Canadian Press.

Archambault, who created the video along with fellow students Loic Mireault, Antoine Seigle and Felix Marquis-Poulin, added: "We were all speechless."

The students were promised a 100 percent score if they received 100,000 page views -- and within a few hours, sometime after lunch Wednesday, they had smashed that target 50 times over.

Valerie Boudreau, an admissions assistant at the Centre NAD, told The Associated Press the school had not anticipated that the video would receive so much attention.

"We were expecting some reaction but not this big. The students succeeded very well," she said.

Claude Arsenault, a spokesman for the Centre NAD, said the video was done as part of a project in 3-D animation and digital design. Both the eagle and the toddler were created in 3-D animation and integrated into the film afterward, he said.

An online debate quickly raged about whether or not the video was real, with many people weighing in that it was fake.

The viral video came a week after a story about a monkey decked out in a stylish coat, wandering around an IKEA parking lot in Toronto, made news around the world after a picture of the tiny primate was tweeted by a shopper.

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WASHINGTON -- With his nation under financial strain, President Barack Obama is restricting the inaugural balls to the lowest number in 60 years, with just two official parties plus a concert honoring military families.

The subdued celebration revealed Thursday is a big cut in reveling from the 10 balls Obama attended four years ago.

Planners say the austerity in festivities is a reflection of tough economic times and an effort to minimize the burden on law enforcement, other security personnel and Washington residents.

Both balls are being planned at the Washington Convention Center on Jan. 21, the evening of Obama's public inauguration at the Capitol on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Under the Constitution, the president's second term begins Jan. 20 at noon, but he'll be sworn in privately at the White House -- with limited media coverage -- since inaugural celebrations traditionally aren't held on Sundays.

One party will be the Commander In Chief's Ball, a tradition started by President George W. Bush for members of the Armed Forces.

Tickets will be free for invited guests, including active duty and reserve service members, Medal of Honor recipients and wounded warriors, among others, with troops overseas participating via video.

The other ball, simply being called the Inaugural Ball, will be larger than usual and held across all the halls in the vast convention center.

Some tickets will be available to the public. For Obama's first inauguration, six balls were held in the convention center.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee, which is putting on the parties with donated funds, has yet to announce ticket information or details on talent that will perform at the celebrations. The president and first lady plan to attend both official balls, per tradition.

Several other unofficial balls are being planned across Washington during inaugural weekend, giving Obama's supporters plenty of opportunity to celebrate, albeit without their president in attendance.

The inaugural committee also is planning a children's concert on Jan. 19, hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden's wife, Jill, as part of their ongoing effort to support military families. Mrs. Obama also attended a kids' concert in 2009 with Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, and similar events were held for the inaugurations of Bush and President Bill Clinton.

Next month's concert, also being held at the convention center, will honor children and spouses of those serving in the Armed Forces and feature popular young artists to be announced.

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NEW YORK -- A famous image of Marilyn Monroe with her skirt billowing atop a New York City subway grate is on display in a picture-perfect spot: outside the Times Square subway station.

The supersized version of Sam Shaw's well-known picture is part of an exhibit. The exhibit also features eight of Shaw's other Monroe pictures, on view inside the 42nd Street-Bryant Park station on the B, D, F, M and 7 lines.

The show opened Thursday and will be up for a year.

Shaw shot the subway grate photo for the 1955 film "The Seven Year Itch." He took the other pictures in 1957.

The exhibit is part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Arts for Transit program. Manager Lester Burg says matching a mass transit setting with a popular figure from mass culture seemed a good fit.

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