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Kidnapped filmmaker released

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 24 (UPI) -- British documentary director Sean Langan, who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and held hostage for three months, reportedly has been released.

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Langan's documentary "Fighting the Taliban" was nominated for a BAFTA this year. His other films include "Tea with the Taliban" and "Kabul Vice."

The 43-year-old filmmaker was kidnapped while shooting in a tribal area in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan in March. Held in dark basement, he was reportedly forced to endure mock executions at the hands of Islamic extremists.

Langan, who is said to be suffering from dysentery following his ordeal, was set free Saturday night and headed home after weeks of negotiations between his captives and his employers at Channel Four and his family, The Times of London reported.

"It was only down to some extremely skilled negotiations, conducted at great risk, that clinched the release," a source told The Times. "This wasn't some bandit group. The kidnappers were well linked politically."

"We're glad to hear he's safe and well and would encourage people to give him space after a traumatic experience," a representative for Britain's Foreign Office told The Times. "We were not involved directly in securing his release but have subsequently provided consular assistance."

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Winehouse planning to perform this weekend

LONDON, June 24 (UPI) -- Recently hospitalized singer Amy Winehouse reportedly has begun rehearsals for two upcoming London concerts.

Winehouse was hospitalized June 16 and remained a patient for nearly a week after she fainted in her home. Her father said she has begun treatment for early stages of the lung disease emphysema.

However, the BBC said the Grammy Award-winning recording artist plans to sing at the Glastonbury performing arts festival, as well as a concert celebrating the 90th birthday of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Both events are this weekend.

Winehouse's representative told the BBC the singer has returned to work but must report to the hospital for further treatment.

Although the spokesman said it "looks likely" Winehouse will sing this weekend, he cautioned that she is awaiting "the final sign-off" from her doctors.

Winehouse's father told BBC Radio 1 Monday his daughter had been "responding brilliantly to treatment" and is expected to recover "completely" as long as she quits smoking.

Several celebrity Web sites, including People.com and Usmagazine.com, posted photos taken Monday showing Winehouse with a cigarette in her mouth, however.


Imus explains controversial remark

NEW YORK, June 24 (UPI) -- Shock jock Don Imus sought Monday to clarify a racial remark he made about Adam "Pacman" Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, an African-American.

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While discussing Jones's desire to ditch his nickname, he was told Jones has "been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005."

Imus asked one of his on-air sidekicks, "What color is he?"

"He's African-American," the co-star said.

"Well, there you go," Politico quoted Imus as saying. "Now we know."

Asked in an e-mail message what he had intended by his remark, Imus wrote that he meant Jones "was being picked on because he's black," The New York Times reported.

Imus said black comedian and activist Dick Gregory would be a guest on his show Tuesday, to discuss the death of George Carlin.

"We'll see what he thinks (of the Jones remark)," Imus wrote to the Times. "I mean ... come on!"

Imus lost his CBS radio show and MSNBC simulcast last year after he made racist and sexist comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. He issued a public apology to the team and the African-American community, and was hired by another network a few months later.

Imus' "Imus in the Morning" show is distributed by ABC Radio Networks and simulcast in video on RFD-TV.


More McConaughey photogs report attacks

MALIBU, Calif., June 24 (UPI) -- Four photographers say they were victims during the weekend in an alleged violent confrontation between paparazzi and surfers in Southern California.

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A photographer trying to photograph and videotape actor Matthew McConaughey at the beach Saturday was the first to tell police he was attacked. The 29-year-old paparazzo told sheriff's deputies that a large group of surfers near Paradise Cove in Malibu approached him and other paparazzi about 2 p.m. and demanded that they stop taking pictures and videotaping.

"They formed a semicircle in front of his camera and they said they didn't want him to film," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said. "They got into an argument, and he indicated that he received injuries. ... (They) took the video camera and threw it in the water."

The four photographers who spoke up Monday said they were beaten and had their camera equipment damaged or stolen, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"We have extra deputies that will be focusing attention there," Whitmore said. "Our whole goal is to contain this situation, and we will."

McConaughey is an avid surfer and film actor best known for his roles in "Fool's Gold," "We Are Marshall," and "A Time to Kill."

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