TIME celebrities

Tom Hiddleston Performed at a Michigan Music Festival as Hank Williams

'Move over little dog cause a big dog's movin in'

Well, Michigan—looks like you just got Loki’d.

British actor Tom Hiddleston, perhaps most widely known for playing Thor’s charmingly sinister brother Loki in the Marvel films, took to the stage this weekend at the Wheatland Music Festival, which showcases what’s hot on the traditional music scene in bluegrass, folk and Americana.

The 33-year-old Royal Academy of Dramatic Art alum treated spectators (including one quick-thinking audience member who captured the somewhat blurry footage below) to a full-twang rendition of country legend Hank Williams’ uptempo “Move It on Over,” MTV reported.

Hiddleston will play Hank-the-First in the upcoming biopic I Saw the Light, Deadline reported in June.

Hank Williams was almost as legendary for his hard-living as he was for his influential songwriting. The small-town Alabama native made it big in the 1950s honky tonk with classics like “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” but died at age 29 from alcohol-induced heart failure (an accumulation of too much booze and pills) in the back of a Cadillac.

Production for the biopic begins in October in Louisiana, Deadline reported, and will need to impress legions of die-hard Hank fans, so it may be wise that Hiddleston is getting into crooning shape a month early.

Of course, nothing may ever match the real deal, but it certainly does answer the query, “Hey good-lookin’, whatcha got cookin’?”

TIME Companies

Burger King Might Become a Canadian Company

The burger behemoth could reincorporate in Canada, and thereby lower its tax liabilities, if it buys donut chain Tim Hortons

Burger King may soon announce a whopper of a deal aimed at lowering its taxes by moving the 60-year-old company’s base outside the U.S., according to a new report.

Citing unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Burger King Worldwide Inc. was “in talks” to buy Canadian donut chain Tim Hortons. The move would allow the hamburger establishment to reincorporate in Canada.

Though legal, the practice known as tax inversion has been criticized in some government circles as a loophole for mega-companies in the U.S. to avoid paying a fair share of taxes for income earned outside the country. Burger King has 13,000 stores in 98 countries, making for a large chunk of international earnings.

Just last month, President Obama had harsh words for this kind of maneuver. “These companies are cherry-picking the rules. And it damages the country’s finances,” he said.

But it might not be taxes alone that sweeten the deal for Burger King, if the Hortons acquisition goes through. BK’s top competitor, McDonalds, has enjoyed success with its own cafe brand McCafe — and the Canadian coffee and donut perveyor could give a boost to the King’s appeal at breakfast time, WSJ reports.

[WSJ]

TIME Television

Hank Azaria: I’ve Lived The Simpsons Marathon

The Simpsons
Hank Azaria plays the town barkeep, Moe Szyslak, as well as a wide cast of male characters ranging from Chief Wiggum and Apu to Duffman (can't breathe! oh no!). Brad Barket—Getty Images; Fox

Hear from the voice of Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum and so many more

If there’s a vocal equivalent of rubber face, Hank Azaria’s got it. The 50-year-old actor joined The Simpsons when he was just 22, and has collected four Emmys for an impossibly long list of oft-imitated and diverse creations: Moe, Chief Wiggum, Professor Frink, Dr. Nick Riviera, Apu, Cletus—and on and on.

To mark the show’s 25th season, and the 552-episode marathon on FXX that threatens to keep fans in doors for days, Azaria talked to TIME about what it’s been like to embody some of the funniest characters on television for more than half-a-lifetime—as well as what he remembers about the late, great Robin Williams, with whom Azaria worked on the 1996 comedy The Birdcage.

TIME: Are you going to be watching any of the [FX] marathon? What is the most hours you’ve spent watching your own show in a row?

Hank Azaria: Well, I’ve lived the marathon. Really. I’ve been doing this for over half my life now. Every few years I’ll sort of binge-watch the last crop of episodes. I’m due for another one of those.

TIME: How do you continue to find surprises within these characters and make sure that it stays interesting for you as an actor?

HA: I love these characters so it’s really fun for me to do them. It’s script to script. There aren’t as many new ideas on episode 512 as there were on episode 12. That said, we’ve never repeated a joke. I can’t recall saying the same thing. I think certain tropes come back. You know, Moe has fallen in love, what, four or five times. So some of it becomes an ongoing story that you’re telling. You learn more about them. You’re inside a character and you’re exploring a character and his relationships or ambitions. That’s really a writer question. They’re the ones that really have to dig deep.

TIME: What’s an episode that you felt handled a current event or a zeitgeisty thing in the news really well?

HA: One episode recently, called The D’oh-cial Network, about social media. I thought that was a great statement on how we’re a completely Internet obsessed society. [And] going way back, when the aliens Kang and Kodos took over [Bill] Clinton’s and [Bob Dole’s] bodies and sort of made this ridiculous election.

TIME: On Simpsons Wikipedia, that very reliable source, there’s something that describes all your characters and who they may have been based off of: Moe is based off your impression of Al Pacino and Dr. Nick Riviera is a bad Ricky Ricardo and Chief Wiggum is Edward G. Robinson. Did a lot of these voices start out as celebrity impressions you had done over the years? How did you warp these more familiar voices into something of their own?

HA: I’m a mimic at heart so, yes, they were based on a lot of celebrity impressions. Or whoever—they didn’t have to be celebrities. They were people I knew, people I met. Family members, college buddies. Whoever’s voice stood out to me that I could imitate.

TIME: Who is Comic Book Guy based off of?

Comic Book Guy of The Simpsons FOX

HA: Comic Book Guy is based on a guy who lived next door to me freshman year of college. Everybody back then had those dry erase boards where they left messages for each other—before cell phones—and he would put a listing, a ranking of the top 5 or bottom 5 people in the dorm–people he liked and didn’t like. In CBG voice: You just made the top of my list.

TIME: So he was extremely popular?

HA: Oh, he was big man on campus. But yeah, he sounded like that, except with a Boston accent.

TIME: What character would you say is the most like you?

HA: The character that seems the most rational and that I relate to is Lou the cop. Even though his vocal quality is kind of based on [Sylvester] Stallone, he’s sort of the sensible, normal guy. I relate to Moe a lot. He has a big New York accent—which, I grew up in Queens. I was a bartender. I joke that if I didn’t become Moe the bartender I’d probably still be Hank the bartender. He’s such a miserable guy, like the dark side of my personality.

Moe of The Simpsons FOX

TIME: I saw the segment with all of the cast, Dan [Castellaneta], Nancy [Cartwright], you, etc. on Inside the Actors Studio. I was struck by was how easily you guys were able to banter with each other in these characters’ voices. Are you guys comfortable enough with each other and with the writers where you improvise to come up with scenes? How has that changed over the years?

HA: That’s always been permitted and encouraged. Honestly, it’s hard to remember at this point what the beginning was like. It was so freaking long ago. But basically, if you do four takes, you want to do two completely as-written, word-for-word, and then a couple where you can play around a little bit. Sometimes, if you feel a joke isn’t working, you say, ‘maybe you try it this way, maybe he’s not so angry,’ you make a little suggestion. Then there are times where it really does feel like two characters should improvise with each other. Play off each other, play around. Every once in a while, we’ll do that when it calls for it.

TIME: Were there any characters you wanted to do, or the writers wanted you to do, that ended up on the cutting board?

HA: None. Because I’ve really only ever suggested one character and that’s [Professor] Frink’s father. And Jerry Lewis ended up playing him. Professor Frink was so inspired by Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor that I always thought it would be great if we could do that. And I nagged them enough that they finally did it.

I have these voices ready that I think are amusing, or entertaining. And then when the time comes, a character gets presented and then in my brain, I go ah, great.

TIME: You said you’re constantly developing new voices. Is there anything you’re working on now?

HA: This process is so organic. It’s not, ‘ok let me take the next hour and develop the voice.’ It’s just something I’m always doing. I love it. To me it’s like a toy. It’s really fun. [But] over 26 years, I’ve sort of hit the limit. There are new people I try and get now as things come up. We did a monologue [recently]–remember the movie Network? Remember Ned Beatty’s rant?

TIME: That’s a great scene.

HA: What I’ll do is just listen. I’ll get a recording of it, just listen to it, try to work it out. The good thing about it is—let’s say I do it and it’s not that great. Dan or Harry will take a whack at it.

TIME: [The Simpsons has] had a lot of guest stars over the years. Is there anybody that you felt giddy and nervous and excited in a big way to work with?

HA: This is an interesting phenomenon, I find, because you don’t know who you’re going to freak out at. The year Dustin Hoffman won for Rain Man—I was at that Oscars, and Vincent Price walked in and I lost my mind.

TIME: Did you actually say hello to him?

HA: I didn’t. I was too thunderstruck. But down the line, I’d say it’s the rock and roll performers that have gotten to me. The top would be Mick Jagger. It was like viewing history. I flipped out. All those guys. Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, David Byrne, Steven Tyler in Aerosmith. Maybe because I’m used to actors. I so admire people who can make music like that.

TIME: You guys recently combined the Simpsons and Family Guy, which is obviously influenced by the Simpsons. I was wondering what that experience of being a guest star as a character was like. Was it on Family Guy rules? What was it like joining up with them and getting to do the same role but in a different way?

HA: It was very much a Family Guy driven episode. It was technically their show. I love Family Guy, and whatever it’s borrowed from the Simpsons, it’s certainly become its own thing that is funny and original [and] in its own way deserves a lot of credit.

TIME: On Twitter recently you said that Cape Fear was one of the episodes you can watch over and over. What’s a bit that makes you crack up the most?

HA: From Cape Fear, the part about [Sideshow Bob] stepping on the rakes… It really hits my funny bone. No pun intended. Homer being really stupid cracks me up. Like when he hops on the scale and it’s wavering back and forth and he says ‘woo-hoo!’ or ‘d’oh!’ depending on literally whether the scale’s on the high end or low end. There was a while where for no reason Homer just adopted a southern accent and spoke like a girl thinking he’d be disguising himself. That really killed me.

TIME: So Homer’s stupidity is a gold mine.

HA: And Ralph Wiggum. The writers say that Ralph is the hardest character to write, by the way, because he has to be so stupid in just one sentence all the time that it’s almost like writing poetry, like writing comedy haiku. I think my favorite Ralph moment is when he walks into the adult section of the comic book store. The joke they didn’t use, because they censored it, was Ralph saying, ‘She’s hungry!’

TIME: One of your best-known live action movies was The Birdcage with the late Robin Williams. How did Williams affect your sense of comic timing or influence you as a comedian?

HA: Robin on that movie was really reining himself in. It was almost physically painful for him to do that. Mike Nichols was really sort of iron fisted with all of us about keeping it tight, and keeping it moving. I really admired the way Robin handled that. He would absolutely throw himself into the completely scripted version and give Mike exactly what he wanted, and then literally beg for what he called ‘wild takes,’ where he could just do whatever he wanted and go nuts. I think mostly it was very purging to Robin. Like if he didn’t let that out, I think he was going to go cuckoo. I was impressed how he took care of himself in that way. He was really gracious and didn’t argue with the director. He gave him what he wanted, which is smart, but also really advocated for his own process and did his thing.

The other thing I have to mention—as an actor, [Williams] was an amazing listener. He was always paying attention and responding. He was really there with you for whatever you might wanna try. He was very surprising, and a generous laugher.

This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

TAKE THE SIMPSONS QUIZ BELOW

TIME celebrities

Chris Pratt’s Ice Bucket Challenge Video May Be the Best Yet

Ooga-chugga, ooga-chugga, ooga-ooga-ooga-chugga

Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt added himself to a long line of celebrities–from Conan O’Brien to Bill Gates–who have participated in the trendy-though-highly-debated publicity stunt that raises money and awareness for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease by getting people to dump buckets (or other containers) full of freezing water over their heads.

Accepting a double challenge from both Disney CEO Bob Iger and Actor Vincent D’Onofrio, Pratt explains on camera that he’s going to do things “slightly different.” Eyes a’twinkle, he produces a tiny bottle of Blue Ice Vodka, which he dispatches quickly. For the second challenge, he begins to gulp down a bottle of Smirnoff Ice.

Much to our comic delight, however, forces gather to thwart Pratt’s plans to avoid getting wet and chilled to the bone–as you’ll see in the video below.

TIME space travel

NASA’s Hubble Finds Supernova Star System Linked to Potential ‘Zombie Star’

The two inset images show before-and-after images captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope of Supernova 2012Z in the spiral galaxy NGC 1309. The white X at the top of the main image marks the location of the supernova in the galaxy. NASA

Thankfully, there are no brains anywhere around this particular zombie

Less like The Walking Dead and more like The Floating Dead: Astronomers believe they have identified the remnants left from an exploded white dwarf, otherwise known as a “zombie star,” about 110 million light-years from Earth.

Images like this one, shot with NASA’s Hubble Telescope, reveal the onset and aftermath of a “weaker” supernova, which happens when something changes in the core of a star and sets off a nuclear reaction.

The discovery of one of these less robust supernovas is a rare find in the world of interstellar study, and can help “to measure vast cosmic distances and the expansion of the universe,” said Rutgers University scientist Saurabh Jha, who’s part of the team that put together findings on the zombie star for Thursday’s edition of Nature.

TIME Theater

Andrew Rannells Will Replace Neil Patrick Harris in Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Andrew Rannells
Andrew Rannells attends the "Violet" Opening Night at American Airlines Theatre on April 20, 2014 in New York City. Chance Yeh—Getty Images

The "Book of Mormon" star will attempt to fill the "How I Met Your Mother" actor's giant platform shoes starting Aug.17

Broadway megahit Hedwig and the Angry Inch has announced that Tony nominee and Book of Mormon star Andrew Rannells will take over as its title character,

Entertainment Weekly reported Thursday that Rannells will replace current star Neil Patrick Harris as the transgender singer from East Berlin whose onstage persona flits from risqué to funny to poignant in the much-acclaimed revival of the John Cameron Mitchell/Stephen Trask-penned tale. The former Doogie Howser M.D. puts his wig back on the shelf on Aug. 17.

Rannells already has plenty of Broadway clout, having earned a Tony nomination as Elder Price in 2011’s Book of Mormon. But he’s probably best known at this point for his recurring role on HBO’s Girls, as the snarky gay friend/roommate/ex-boyfriend of Lena Dunham. John Cameron Mitchell, who originated the role of Hedwig, was also a recurring character on Girls.

This also won’t be Rannells’ first time occupying Hedwig’s skyscraper-high heels, EW reported. The actor previously played Hedwig in a 2001 production in Austin, Tex. the same year the movie version won the Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival. So don’t try and tear him down.

Hedwig took home Tony Awards Sunday for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actor for Harris, and Best Featured Actress (Lena Hall).

TIME world cup 2014

This Is How Much U.S. Soccer Players Make at the World Cup

Italy v USA - International Friendly
Clint Dempsey celebrates the opening goal during the international friendly match between Italy and USA at Luigi Ferraris Stadium on February 29, 2012 in Genoa, Italy. Valerio Pennicino—Getty Images

The glory of taking part in the world's largest soccer tournament isn't the only prize for U.S. soccer players named to the 23-person squad going to Brazil. A trip to the later rounds could mean a big payday, too

U.S. players who make the final World Cup squad will receive at least $76,000 each from U.S. Soccer, Sports Illustrated reports.

That’s just the starting point, however, for determining an individual athlete’s earnings at the competition. If the team manages to progress into the later rounds of the tournament, players like Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley could be in for a big payday, while those who don’t make the 23-person roster could get far less.

Read more at Sports Illustrated.

TIME Education

Salaries of Public-University Presidents Rocket Despite Spiraling Student Debt

The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University Denis Jr. Tangney—Getty Images

A new report by the progressive think tank Institute for Policy Studies finds that salaries for the top 25 highest-paid public-research university presidents have swelled in recent years despite the growth of student debt and various faculty disenfranchisement issues

While salaries for the top 25 highest-paid public-research-university presidents have swelled in recent years, student debt and faculty-disenfranchisement problems have grown, says a new study.

A report released on Sunday by the progressive think tank Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) looked at how that inflated pay correlated to dwindling funds allocated to student scholarships, and a trend toward more part-time adjunct-professor positions, which do not require benefits and other forms of compensation.

From 2009 to 2012, executive compensation at public research universities increased 14% to an average of $544,554, while compensation for presidents at the highest-paying universities increased by a third, to $974,006.

“Administrative spending outstripped scholarship spending by more than 2 to 1 at state schools with the highest-paid presidents,” the report says.

Marjorie Wood, one of the study’s co-authors, told the New York Times that “high executive pay obviously isn’t the direct cause of higher student debt, or cuts in labor spending. But if you think about it in terms of the allocation of resources, it does seem to be the tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.”

The five top-paying schools listed by the IPS were Ohio State University, Penn State, the University of Minnesota, University of Michigan and University of Washington, crunching data from Chronicle of Higher Education, American Federation of Teachers and Institute for College Access and Success.

The Chronicle’s recently released stats showed that presidents’ base pay, already in the six-figure range, was often only a small part of their “total compensation” for the year.

“From FY 2006 to FY 2012, spending on nonacademic administration rose 65%, much faster than spending on scholarships in the top 25,” says the report.

In 2012, student debt across the country hit $1.2 trillion. But student debt at the colleges with highest-earning presidents grew at a 13% faster rate than the national average, partly because higher executive pay translates into less funding available for scholarships, the study says.

Lack of benefits, shaky job security and inadequate pay for adjunct professors have also become an issue of growing concern, illustrated starkly in separate papers by Service Employees International Union, The Coalition on the Academic Workforce and U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, cited in the IPS report.

The study was particularly critical of university boards of trustees, which determine how to pay the president.

TIME NBA

Sterling: I Made a ‘Terrible Mistake’

The Los Angeles Clippers owner apologized for racist comments that landed him a lifetime ban from the NBA, calling them a "terrible mistake" but also claiming that he was "baited" by his ex-girlfriend into making them

Updated 7:12 a.m. ET on May 12

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling expressed contrition about racist comments that landed him a lifetime ban from the NBA, calling them a “terrible mistake” in his first interview since the scandal erupted.

“Am I entitled to one mistake, am I after 35 years? I mean, I love my league, I love my partners. Am I entitled to one mistake? It’s a terrible mistake, and I’ll never do it again,” Sterling told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview set to air Monday.

Sterling sought forgiveness during the interview, but also seemed to imply he had been lured into making the comments by his ex-girlfriend.

“When I listen to that tape, I don’t even know how I can say words like that,” Sterling said. “I don’t know why the girl had me say those things.”

When Cooper asked, “you’re saying you were set up?” Sterling responded: “Well yes, I was baited. I mean, that’s not the way I talk. I don’t talk about people for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things. I don’t talk about people.”

The remarks are Sterling’s first public comments since TMZ published a recording last month of him criticizing his ex-girlfriend for bringing black people to Clippers games and being public in her friendship with NBA legend Magic Johnson. That led NBA commissioner Adam Silver to ban Sterling for life and fine him $2.5 million for the comments, which Silver condemned as “deeply offensive and harmful.” Silver has vowed to force a sale.

The NBA’s Advisory/Finance Committee met on May 1 to discuss how to force a sale. A bevy of celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Magic Johnson, have been floated as possible owners.

When Cooper asked Sterling why he had dragged his feet on a public apology for nearly two weeks, Sterling responded that he was “emotionally distraught.”

[CNN]

TIME Cancer

Scientists Use Patient’s Immune System to Kick Cancer

Through a technique known as adopted cell therapy, doctors replicated a woman's own immune cells in the lab, then released them into her bloodstream. The tumors began melting away

Scientists are making strides in a new cancer treatment that manipulates patients’ immune systems into going to war with malignant growths. The therapy, which could apply to a wide range of cancers, offers a silver lining for patients who have been diagnosed with melanomas in the the lungs, bladder and gastrointestinal tract.

In a study recently published in Science by the National Cancer Institute, under the National Institutes of Health, doctors “sequenced the genome” of a 43-year-old woman named Melinda Bachini, who had been struggling with a type of cancer that had not responded to chemotherapy, the New York Times reported.

Through what is called “adopted cell therapy,” Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg and colleagues involved in authoring the study “identified cells from her immune system that attacked a specific mutation in the malignant cells. Then they grew those immune cells in the laboratory and infused billions of them back into her bloodstream,” said the Times.

Rosenberg told the Times that through the process, the tumors began “melting away.” He added, “It’s the first time we have been able to actually target a specific mutation in the immune system,” Rosenberg told NBC News.

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