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Music > Europe readies for Eurovision May 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life.
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The Eurovision Song Contest, Europe’s biggest musical event of the year, will be held next Saturday evening in Athens.

AnnaVissi.jpg Greek singer Anna Vissi performs during a TV show in Athens on 14 March. The song “Everything” was chosen as the Greek entry in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Athens on 20 May. 

Established in 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is an annual televised contest with participants from numerous countries whose national television broadcasters are members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The contest is broadcast on television and radio throughout Europe, in selected countries around the world, and on the Internet.

The 51st ESC will take place in Athens, thanks to Helena Paparizou and her song “My Number One”, which placed first in last year’s contest in Kiev. The Greek broadcaster ERT is hosting the contest for the first time.

The contest theme for this year, “Feel the Rhythm”, is tied into Greek tourism’s “Feel the Myth” slogan. This theme will be the basis for the show’s souvenirs, which will emphasise Greece’s historical significance, as well as highlight the country’s modern appeal to tourists. Although the show is expensive to put on, the host country also stands to reap impressive profits.

This year’s contestants are from 37 countries, and will perform their songs in the semifinal and final nights. As major financial contributors to the contest, France, Germany, Spain and the UK are granted direct entry into the final, bypassing the semifinal stage. The winner and the nine highest-scoring countries from the previous year’s contest also head straight for the final. This year they are Greece, Croatia, Denmark, Israel, Latvia, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Romania and Switzerland.

Balkan countries have had an important place in the event in the recent years. Despite their clouded past, when it comes to music the countries vote for each other. The winner of the ESC is chosen by members of the public who phone in their votes. Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania are among the participants from the Southeast European region this year.

Serbia-Montenegro withdrew from the ESC this year following a row over the country’s national entry. A Montenegrin panel of judges was accused of tactical voting earlier this month during a competition to decide the official song for the contest. The vote saw Montenegro’s “No Name” chosen as the winner, but Serbia called for the vote to be done over. When Montenegro refused to agree to a new contest, no solution could be found and the country withdrew.

Contestants have been promoting their songs for months. They visit different countries and perform the songs on national TV, making the public familiar with the material that will be presented in Athens.

Maria Menounos and Sakis Rouvas will host the semifinals and final. Rouvas is well-known as the man who brought Greece a third place win at the contest with “Shake it”, and Menounos is an actress who starred with Sean Connery in ” James Bond 007: From Russia with Love”.

ESC winners have included a number of well-known artists who went on to achieve success around Europe. The best known were Sweden’s Abba, who won the contest in 1974 with their song “Waterloo”.

Music > All tuned up for Eurovision 2006 May 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life.
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The 51st Eurovision Song Contest opened in Athens with 37 countries and more than 200 artists participating in a festival famed for over-the-top music, gaudy outfits, and a die-hard TV viewership of tens of millions.

Balanced on a 13-metre stage with floating waves and an ancient Greek theatre design, this year’s programme offers a mix of ballads, pop, country and hard rock in an annual contest which organisers pitch as “the greatest music entertainment on earth”.

A continental tradition since 1956, the Eurovision contest has both fanatical fans – who point to the global success of past winners such as Abba and Celine Dion – and bitter foes, who say that participants at times seem to be competing in eccentricity as well as vocals or dancing ability.

This year’s festival is no exception, with attention focusing on Finnish rock group Lordi, a hard rock quintet kitted out in monster masks and mediaeval armour straight out of J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Hosted in 2006 by Greek national broadcaster ERT, the contest consists of a semi-final last night and a final on Saturday, with audiences in Europe, Turkey and Israel registering their votes by calling or sending an SMS message to a central database.

Twenty-three countries are registered to compete for 10 places in the Saturday final, where 14 countries have already secured a berth – hosts Greece, the festival’s four largest countries (France, Germany, Spain and the UK), and the nine top scoring nations from last year’s event.  

Music > Athens gets ready for Eurovision contest May 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life.
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The semifinal of the Eurovision contest, which includes performers from 23 countries. Only ten participants will qualify for the competition’s final, which is scheduled for Saturday evening. 

The semifinal was integrated in the contest in 2004, when the format of the contest was changed. The first Eurovision contest took place in 1956 and included contestants from only seven countries, whereas now almost 40 countries compete in the event. The contestants from France, Germany, Spain and Great Britain enter the final automatically because these countries contribute most to the event’s budget.

Athenians become farmers May 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Pedestrians in front of the Athens Concert Hall in the city center gaze at one of the bovine sculptures included in the ‘Cow Parade’ exhibition. 

‘Cow Parade’ is the world’s biggest outdoor art exhibition and has already been hosted by 33 other countries since it was launched in Zurich in 1998.

Some 90 fiberglass cows, painted in various colors and styles, have been placed around the center of Athens and will be on display until next month. After that, they will be sold to raise money for charity.

Movies > Greek religious groups want to ban ‘Da Vinci Code’ May 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek, Religion & Faith.
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About 200 Orthodox Christians gathered in Syntagma Square, central Athens, yesterday to demand the withdrawal of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ movie.

The demonstrators carried Greek and Byzantine flags, demanding a ban on the film, based on Dan Brown’s novel, which opens tomorrow. Placards read ‘Freedom’s your right. Don’t step on ours’ and ‘Stop blaspheming the holy name of Christ.’ The Orthodox Church has criticized the best-selling thriller as offensive and misleading. ‘From a religious and historical point of view the content of the book is wholly false,’ read a leaflet distributed to churchgoers at Orthodox churches on Sunday.


An Athens court will rule on the case Thursday, hours before the film is due to premiere in Greek cinemas. Dozens of religious group members holding candles and incense burners chanted slogans against the movie outside the city lawcourts.


The powerful Church of Greece has deplored “The Da Vinci Code,” which is based on a blockbuster book by Dan Brown, but stopped short of urging its boycott. A separate group of theologians, lawyers and judges has threatened legal action against movie theaters that screen the film.

Some 90,000 tickets have already been sold for the film, according to state NET television, while police are planning heightened security outside cinemas for fear of rowdy protests by religious groups.