Rylance's stepdaughter dead at 28
LONDON, July 6 (UPI) -- British actor Mark Rylance says he won't participate in the Olympic Opening Ceremony in London as planned due to the death of his 28-year-old stepdaughter.
The BBC said the Tony Award-winning stage star was to read Caliban's speech from William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest" at the Olympic ceremony July 27. However, he dropped out of the event because he is mourning the Sunday death of filmmaker Nataasha van Kampen, the daughter of his wife, composer Claire van Kampen, whom Rylance married in 1992.
Rylance said in a statement she died "of unsuspected natural causes," but gave no further details regarding the circumstances of her death.
"Because of our bereavement, I have decided to withdraw from my commitment to the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics, but Claire and I will continue our work with the productions, 'Richard III' and 'Twelfth Night' at Shakespeare's Globe and in the West End," Rylance said in the statement. "The family would ask that their privacy is respected at this sad and difficult time."
Nataasha van Kampen had worked as a production designer on commercials and music videos before directing her first short film "Nocturne" in 2009. Rylance starred in the film.
Pitt's mom pens pro-Romney letter
SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 6 (UPI) -- Brad Pitt's mother, Jane, supports Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in a letter to the editor of the News-Leader newspaper in Springfield, Mo.
The letter comes as a bit of a surprise since Brad Pitt and his fiancee, Angelina Jolie, are huge supporters of Democrat President Barack Obama and gay rights.
Jane Pitt's letter was published Tuesday under the headline "Election-Casting ballot deserves prayerful consideration," E! said.
In her letter, Pitt urged her fellow Christians to "spend much time in prayer before refusing to vote for a family man [Romney] with high morals, business experience, who is against abortion, and shares Christian conviction concerning homosexuality."
She also said anyone who doesn't vote for Romney for president or writes in a name on the ballot during the election is supporting Obama, "a liberal who supports the killing of unborn babies and same-sex marriage."
E! said Brad Pitt's publicist has not responded to requests for comment.
Two 'Spider-Man' sequels planned
LOS ANGELES, July 6 (UPI) -- The superhero blockbuster "The Amazing Spider-Man" was the first movie in a trilogy, Hollywood's Sony Pictures announced.
"It's finally here! The 'Amazing Spider-Man' is the first installment in a movie trilogy that will explore how our fave hero's journey was shaped by the disappearance of his parents," said a message on the film's official Facebook page this week.
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen and Sally Field, the film raked in $35 million when it opened in North America, setting a record for a Tuesday release.
Astin, Howell to guest star on 'Alphas'
NEW YORK, July 6 (UPI) -- Sean Astin, C. Thomas Howell and Lauren Holly are to guest star on the U.S. science-fiction series "Alphas," Syfy said Thursday.
Season 2 is to premiere July 23.
Also booked for guest spots are Steve Byers, Kandyse McClure and Noah Reid.
"Alphas" stars David Strathairn, Malik Yoba, Warren Christie, Azita Ghanizada, Ryan Cartwright and Laura Mennell. The show follows a clandestine group of ordinary people with superhuman mental and physical abilities, a synopsis said.
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