People in the news

By United Press International  |  Nov. 30, 2012 at 8:29 AM
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JEFF ZUCKER: Former NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker will serve as president of CNN Worldwide, starting in January, the cable news agency announced.

Zucker is a former "Today" and current "Katie" producer, who left NBC Universal nearly two years ago.

He will succeed outgoing CNN President and Chief Executive Jim Walton, who said in July he was stepping down from the post.

"Jeff's experience as a news executive is unmatched for its breadth and success," Phil Kent, chairman and chief executive officer of Turner Broadcasting System -- CNN's parent company -- said in a statement. "In a career that has seen significant professional success in both broadcast and cable, Jeff has demonstrated his ability to run multiple lines of business and fiercely defend journalists and journalism."

"I am thrilled to join the distinguished team of journalists across the worldwide platforms of CNN," Zucker said in a statement. "The global reach and scale of the CNN brand is unparalleled in all of news. Outside of my family and the Miami Dolphins, there is nothing I am as passionate about as journalism."

MILOS FORMAN: Directors Guild of America says it plans to honor Milos Forman with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction.

The prize is to be presented at the 65th annual DGA Awards Feb. 2 in Los Angeles.

"It is a tremendous privilege to present the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award for feature film to one of the greatest filmmakers of our time, Milos Forman," President Taylor Hackford said in a statement Wednesday. "No matter what subject or genre he tackles, Milos finds the universality of the human experience in every story, allowing us -- his rapt audience -- to recognize ourselves within the struggle for free expression and self-determination that Milos so aptly portrays on the silver screen."

Forman's films include "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Amadeus," "Valmont," "The People vs. Larry Flynt," "Man in the Moon" and "Goya's Ghosts."

HUGH JACKMAN: Australian actor Hugh Jackman is in talks to reunite with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen for another "X-Men" sequel, The Hollywood Reporter said.

Bryan Singer's superhero ensemble film "X-Men: Days of Future Past" will also star James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult, who headlined the prequel "X-Men: The First Class."

The time-jumping new film will be a sequel to "X-Men: First Class," but will feature actors from the first "X-Men" trilogy of blockbuster movies, the entertainment industry trade newspaper said.

Jackman played Wolverine in the three original "X-Men" movies, as well as "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and its upcoming sequel "The Wolverine."

SUZANNE COLLINS: Scholastic says it plans to publish "Year of the Jungle," an autobiographical picture book by U.S. author Suzanne Collins, author of the "Hunger Games" books.

Set for release in September, the book will feature illustrations by James Proimos.

Scholastic also announced plans to publish the trade paperback edition of the second "Hunger Games" novel, "Catching Fire" in June, as well as re-packaged paperback editions of Collins' bestselling "The Underland Chronicles," a five-book series about Gregor the Overlander, featuring all new cover art next summer.

"One of the things Suzanne has done so masterfully in 'The Hunger Games' and 'The Underland Chronicles' is to give readers an honest portrayal of the effects of war," Scholastic's David Levithan said in a statement Thursday. "Now she has done it for a younger age group, in a way that is sympathetic rather than scary, relatable rather than raw. This is something that Suzanne, as a military child, lived with for many years, and it's something that all families will be able to share, whether they have a personal connection to the military or not."

"For several years, I had this little wicker basket next to my writing chair with the postcards my dad had sent me from Vietnam and photos of that year. But I could never quite find a way into the story. It has elements that can be scary for the audience and it would be easy for the art to reinforce those. It could be really beautiful art but still be off-putting to a kid, which would defeat the point of doing the book. Then one day I was having lunch with Jim and telling him about the idea and he said, 'That sounds fantastic.' I looked at him and I had this flash of the story through his eyes, with his art. It was like being handed a key to a locked door. So, I just blurted out, 'Do you want to do it?' Fortunately, he said yes. That afternoon, on the train ride home, the book started unfolding in my head. There's a natural humor and sense of fun to his drawing style that makes the story approachable. As the emotional life of the main character evolves into darker places, the pictures beautifully keep pace with it, but they never lose that Proimos quality. His art made telling the story possible."

"I had decided that I would not draw a single thing for a year and concentrate only on my writing," said Proimos. "In fact, I told this to Suzanne only minutes before she asked me to illustrate her next book. How could I refuse? The idea she laid out over burritos and ice tea during our lunch was brilliant and not quite like any picture book I had ever come across. The writing is moving and personal. What Suzanne does so well here is convey complicated emotions through the eyes of a child. The art had to do the same. We did not want this to be the kind of book that grownups put on a shelf, but instead be the kind of book that a kid would want to read again and again. Luckily, my brain is very much in touch with my first-grade self and my art skills have never left that general vicinity."

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