Entertainment briefs – April 5

A well-known Arab Israeli actor, director and political activist was gunned down Monday in the West Bank town where he ran a drama school and community theatre, Palestinian police said.

Israeli Arab actor killed by militants

A well-known Arab Israeli actor, director and political activist was gunned down Monday in the West Bank town where he ran a drama school and community theatre, Palestinian police said.

Juliano Mer Khamis was shot five times by one or more armed Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp, according to Jenin police chief Mohammed Tayyim. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing.

Mer Khamis, 52, was the son of a Jewish mother and an Arab father — a rarity in a land where the two populations almost never intermarry. His split identity fueled a long career as an actor and a vocal activist against Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, with whom he had come increasingly to identify.

But some Palestinians objected to the theatre in principle. He reported threats, and the theatre was vandalized.

The theatre’s program director, Samia Staiti, told The Associated Press that she saw the killing. “He was on his way to his car when a masked man stopped him, shot him and ran away.”

Staiti said he had received death threats from people in the community who felt he was going against “conservative Palestinian traditions.”

“They are trying to kill what Juliano tried to spread — peace and freedom. We will keep on going on,” Staiti said.


Rowling looking into e-book options for ‘Potter’

LONDON — J.K. Rowling stirred a publishing phenomenon with her “Harry Potter” books. Can she do it again on the e-book market?

The bestselling author is considering making the fantasy books available electronically, her London-based agent said Monday — meaning that Potter fans may soon be able to download the popular series about a boy wizard to their Kindle or iPad.

“We are currently actively looking at all the various options for Harry Potter in this space, that is e-books,” Neil Blair, of the Christopher Little Literary Agency, said in an email.

Rowling has so far stayed away from the e-book market, frustrating parts of her fan-base that have converted to the new format. Some say the Potter books — which are up to 800 pages thick — are heavy and unwieldy, and publishing them in the electronic format will solve that problem.

Rowling has been watching the developing market and waiting for the right moment to release her books in that format, Blair said.

About 450 million copies of the Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide, he said.


Couric leaving ‘CBS Evening News’

NEW YORK — Katie Couric is leaving her anchor post at “CBS Evening News” less than five years after becoming the first woman to solely helm a network TV evening newscast.

A network executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Couric has not officially announced her plans, reported the move to The Associated Press on Sunday night. The 54-year-old anchor is expected to launch a syndicated talk show in 2012.

Couric’s move from NBC’s Today show was big news in 2006, and she began in the anchor chair with a flourish that September. She tried to incorporate her strengths as an interviewer into a standard evening news format and millions of people who normally didn’t watch the news at night checked it out. But they drifted away and the evening newscast reverted to a more traditional broadcast.

After those first few weeks, the CBS Evening News settled into third place in the ratings and is well behind leader Brian Williams at NBC’s Nightly News and second-place Diane Sawyer at ABC’s World News.

No departure date has been set for Couric.


Schwarzenegger is ‘The Governator’

CANNES, France — Well, Arnold Schwarzenegger IS back.

The one-time muscleman who morphed into Hollywood icon and then California governor returns to his on-screen core — sort of — with a cheekily titled animated TV show, The Governator.

In an interview, the 63-year-old said he wants to surprise fans who expected him to go back to the big screen, shifting to the virtual world with a superhero who gets things done without the constraints of laws or an often-intractable political system.

“I think that a lot of times you can actually do more and accomplish more being outside of the system,” he said.

Schwarzenegger spoke to The Associated Press before unveiling details of what he calls a funny, action-packed, crime-fighting fantasy at the MipTV television business conference in the Riviera resort of Cannes. Action Comics giant Stan Lee will be at the show’s creative helm.

Schwarzenegger, who will voice the superhero, was the talk of the town Monday: France’s culture minister inducted him into the Legion of Honor and he had his handprints cast in cement for Cannes’ star walk.

Three months out of office, current events are still on his mind, from Japan’s earthquake disaster to the Arab world turmoil and to environmental and economic troubles in the West.

Still, showbiz is eclipsing politics for now.

“I am not as eager to run for office,” he said.