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Iranian director sends video to message to US rally

An Oscar-nominated Iranian film director has sent a video message to a rally attended by celebrities and top talent agents. It's intended to thank the Hollywood community for its support during his boycott of the awards ceremony.

After U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries, including Iran, Asghar Farhadi decided to boycott the Oscars.

The video has been published on Iranian social media. In it, Farhadi condemns the new U.S. president's policies and says they are "trying to promote hate."

Farhadi said in his first public appearance since the ban: "It is comforting to me to know that, at a time when some politicians are trying to promote hate by creating divisions between cultures and religions and nationalities."

Legend, Miranda, Bareilles make Oscar rehearsals musical

Lin-Manuel Miranda owned Friday's Oscar rehearsals. He sang a tune from "La La Land," posed like John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever," invoked a 1990s Billy Crystal Oscar monologue, and reprimanded his dad from the stage for having his cellphone light on.

The creator of "Hamilton" joined Sting, Justin Timberlake and John Legend for a day of music rehearsals at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre Friday. Miranda is nominated for "How Far I'll Go" from "Moana." Timberlake is up for "Can't Stop the Feeling" from "Trolls." Sting will sing his nominated song from "Jim: The James Foley Story," and Legend will perform the two nominated songs from "La La Land."

Wearing a sweatshirt that read "Rehearsal is the best part," Miranda sang a few bars from "City of Stars" before his rehearsal began.

"I can't get it out of my head!" he said.

Later, he called out his dad from the stage.

"Luis Miranda," the 37-year-old Grammy, Emmy and Tony winner bellowed into the microphone. "Turn your light off. I can see it from here."

Lin-Manuel Miranda will become the youngest member of the EGOT club if he takes home the Oscar on Sunday. He's set to introduce 16-year-old Auli'i Cravalho at the show, who voiced the title character of "Moana" and will perform his nominated song.

A novice actress discovered by chance in her hometown of Honolulu, Cravalho repeatedly ran through the tune with a confidence and charm that belie her age and inexperience.

"She's literally never done this before," said Disney Animation spokeswoman Amy Astley, adding that the Friday's rehearsals represented Cravalho's first time ever onstage.

The starlet even smiled as she sang, completely undaunted until she noticed Meryl Streep's seat-saving placard in the theater's front row.

"There's my role model in life right there," Cravalho said.

She confessed her concerns to Miranda after the rehearsal. The banner-wielding dancers behind her: did they cause too much of a breeze in her hair?

"It's like a bespoke Beyonce fan," Miranda said in comfort.

Earlier Friday, Legend sat behind a grand piano on the Oscar stage. The last time he performed here, he went home with an Academy Award, winning best original song for "Glory" from "Selma."

This time, Legend rehearsed a medley of tunes he didn't write, but the composer of the nominated songs from "La La Land" was by his side to offer guidance.

Legend will perform a newly arranged medley of "City of Stars" and "Audition" by the film's triple-nominated composer, Justin Hurwitz, who kept his sheet music notes under his arm throughout Friday's rehearsal.

"It's really cool to mess up on this stage," Legend said with a smile after striking an errant chord on the piano. Hurwitz coached the Grammy winner between takes.

Set against a backdrop that moves from a Los Angeles sunset to a starry night sky, choreographer Mandy Moore led a team of dancers through a routine that evokes the timeless ballroom moves Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling perform in the film. Two dancers even appear to float through the sky during the number.

"It's gonna be good, I promise," Moore told Hurwitz.

"It looks beautiful," he said nervously.

Co-lyricist Benj Pasek watched proudly from a seat in the theater.

"I am freaking out," the 31-year-old Oscar nominee said, adding that he brought his mother along to rehearsals.

"She's becoming best friends with all the people who run the Oscars," he said.

Sara Bareilles, who will sing for the show's In Memoriam tribute, had a brief Broadway-style moment with Miranda and "Hamilton" director Tommy Kail. The stage stars attempted to present the singer with a bottle of water, which she dramatically shunned, until embracing the Tony winners seconds later.

The 89th Academy Awards will air Sunday on ABC.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

Syrian who worked on nominated film can't attend Oscars

U.S. immigration authorities are barring entry to a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer who worked on a harrowing film about his nation's civil war, "The White Helmets," that has been nominated for an Academy Award.

According to internal Trump administration correspondence seen by The Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security has decided at the last minute to block Khaled Khateeb from traveling to Los Angeles for the Oscars.

Khateeb was scheduled to arrive Saturday in Los Angeles on a Turkish Airlines flight departing from Istanbul. But his plans have been upended after U.S. officials reported finding "derogatory information" regarding Khateeb.

Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities. Asked for comment, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, Gillian Christensen, said, "A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States."

"The White Helmets," a 40-minute Netflix documentary, has been nominated for Best Documentary Short. If the film wins the Oscar, the award would go to director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara. Khateeb is one of three people credited for cinematography; Franklin Dow is the film's director of photography.

The film focuses on the rescue workers who risk their lives to save Syrians affected by civil war. Many of the group's members have been killed by Syrian President Bashar Assad's air forces. The group also was nominated for last year's Nobel Peace Prize.

"The White Helmets" includes emblematic scenes of the deadly 6-year-old conflict: people digging through destroyed homes looking for survivors, at constant risk of "double tap" attacks that target first responders after they've arrived at the scene of a strike.

Khateeb had been issued a visa to attend the ceremony with Hollywood's biggest stars. But Turkish authorities detained him this week, according to the internal U.S. government correspondence, and he suddenly needed a passport waiver from the United States to enter the country.

The correspondence indicated he would not receive such a waiver. There was no explanation in the correspondence for why Turkey detained Khateeb.

Foster, Fox call for unity at rally for immigration rights

As most of Hollywood gears up for the Oscars on Sunday and the whirlwind of events and parties this weekend, celebrities and top talent agents gathered in Beverly Hills Friday to do something to do something a little different: rally for immigration rights.

Jodie Foster, Michael J. Fox and Keegan-Michael Key were among the speakers at the rally, organized by the United Talent Agency outside of their Beverly Hills headquarters. The talent agency, better known as UTA, planned the nearly two-hour United Voices rally in lieu of holding their annual Oscars party. Security officials estimated there were 1,200 people in attendance.

Key, who kicked things off, said the event was intended to, "support the creative community's growing concern with anti-immigration sentiment in the United States of America and its potential chilling effect on the global exchange of ideas, not to mention freedom of expression."

He welcomed all, including a handful of Trump supporters, because he said "this is America, where you get to believe what you want."

One Trump supporter walked through the crowd in a Make America Great Again hat early on saying "you're not going to block me."

For the most part, however, the crowd was subdued, civil and attentive to the celebrity speakers.

Michael J. Fox, who became a United States citizen some 20 years ago, remembered being annoyed at the 8-year process to citizenship and now wonders what he was complaining about.

Turning immigrants away, Fox said, is "an assault on human dignity."

One of the best-received was Jodie Foster who enthusiastically yelled "this is a great idea! Why didn't I think of this?"

Foster said she's never been comfortable using her public face for activism and has always found the small ways to serve, but that this year is different.

"It's time to show up," she said. "It's a singular time in history. It's time to engage. And as the very, very dead Frederick Douglass once said 'any time is a good time for illumination.'"

The Oscar-nominated Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi also spoke via video from Tehran to praise the show of unity among the cinema community. Farhadi previously said he would boycott Sunday's ceremony as a result of President Donald Trump's Muslim travel ban.

"It is comforting to know that at a time when some politicians are trying to promote hate by creating divisions between cultures, religions and nationalities, the cinema community has joined the people in a common show of unity to announce its opposition," Farhadi said. "I hope this unity will continue and spread to fight other injustices."

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer and Reza Aslan were among the others who took the podium during the event, which also included a DJ set and live performances from the X Ambassadors and Ben Harper.

UTA previously announced that it was donating $250,000 to the ACLU and the International Rescue Committee and has set up a crowd funding page to solicit more donations. At press time, over $320,000 had been raised.

Meryl Streep added as Academy Awards presenter

Meryl Streep, whose Golden Globes speech prompted President Donald Trump to call her "overrated," has been added as a presenter to Sunday's Academy Awards.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Friday unveiled its final batch of presenters, including Streep. The actress is also a nominee for a record 20th time. She's up for best actress for her performance in "Florence Foster Jenkins."

In her speech at the Golden Globes last month, Streep drew a loud standing ovation for a speech that bluntly criticized Trump. She particularly voiced disgust for his mocking of The New York Times' Serge Kovaleski, a disabled reporter.

Other presenters announced Friday include Ryan Gosling, Taraji P. Henson, Jennifer Aniston, Warren Beatty and Matt Damon.

Foreign film Oscar nominees decry 'climate of fascism' in US

The six directors whose films are nominated for best foreign language film at the Oscars decried the "climate of fascism' in the U.S. and other countries, in a joint statement two days before the Academy Awards.

The statement, released Friday, was signed by Iran's Asghar Farhadi, Denmark's Martin Zandvliet, Sweden's Hannes Holm, Germany's Maren Ade and the two directors of Australia's "Tanna": Martin Butler and Bentley Dean. The directors blamed "leading politicians" for generating fear by "dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities."

Farhadi, a previous Oscar winner, has said he would boycott Sunday's ceremony following President Donald Trump's travel ban of seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran.

The filmmakers said Friday that whoever wins the award, it will be dedicated to people working to "foster unity and understanding."

Clooney uses Cesar award to warn about hate in age of Trump

George Clooney used the stage at the 42nd Cesar awards, France's equivalent of the Oscars, to criticize U.S. President Donald Trump, without directly calling him out by name.

Receiving an honorary Cesar on Friday, Clooney said that "citizens of the world" must work "harder and harder not to let hate win."

He said that "the actions of this president have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies and given considerable comfort to our enemies."

The fault, he said, "is not really his" because fear was already present. "He merely exploited it, and rather successfully."

The critique was delivered with some humor, with French 2012 best actor Oscar winner Jean Dujardin providing a purposely wacky translation, and adding his own dig: "Donald Trump is a danger for the world."

Dance scenes in movies can be tricky, but sometimes magical

of leaps and pirouettes, not to mention bicycles sashaying along the roofs of automobiles. It's not easy to stage a successful dance scene for the cameras — especially on a highway interchange — but when such a scene works, it can be memorable.

One secret, says "La La Land" choreographer Mandy Moore, is not to compete with the camera, but in a sense, to find a way to dance WITH it. "When it's done right, it's this perfect marriage of how the camera is moving in conjunction and collaboration with the movement of the dancer," she says.

Dancing on a stage is three-dimensional; on a screen, you lose an entire dimension. But what you can do is use the camera to convey emotion in a dancer in ways you can't onstage. "You can see how dance changes the person — that's a key," says Wendy Perron, former editor in chief of Dance Magazine and author of "Through the Eyes of a Dancer."

Because everyone has their favorite dance moments in movies, and because the Oscars are coming, and because, hey, it's just fun to remember this stuff (all available online), here are a few scenes where the cameras helped create dance magic:

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YEP, IT WAS HEAVEN

"I'm in heaven," Fred Astaire sings to Ginger Rogers, warbling Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" in the 1935 film "Top Hat." And so are we. "Fred is so cool and she's so coy," Moore notes, adding that the scene is so successful because it tells a story through movement. "They're almost a little icy the way they start, and then just this beautiful way that they open up through the performance, and they're just so free and gorgeous through dancing together," she says. Check out those swoon-worthy twirling lifts toward the end.

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LOG-SPINNING AND ARM-WRESTLING

There's some real gymnastics in the rip-roaring choreography by Michael Kidd in the 1954 film, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." The big dance in the barn — with guys competing for the gals — is a showstopper. Moore loves that this dance story is told without lyrics. "These days, we're so used to being spoon-fed what we're supposed to feel," she says. Check out that guy on the spinning log, not to mention what can best be described as a balance beam routine that includes arm-wrestling.

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DANCIN' IN THE RAIN

Of course, Kelly's rain-drenched virtuoso performance in the title song of "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) is a wonder — especially when you consider that, according to movie lore, he had a bad cold and fever. Then there are Donald O'Connor's athletics — including wall-climbing somersaults — in "Make 'Em Laugh." But let's consider the recently departed Debbie Reynolds, who at age 19 had no dance training, and somehow held her own, expertly tapping away with Kelly and O'Connor in the joyous "Good Morning" — which she has said made her feet bleed.

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MAMBO IN THE GYM

There's no debating the brilliance of Jerome Robbins' choreography for "West Side Story" (1961). But which dance scene gets top billing? For Moore, it's that opening with the Jets and Sharks and those snapping fingers. "You just do that snap and a little jump and everybody instantly knows it's 'West Side Story,'" she says. For Perron, it's the Mambo dance at the gym, where Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer) fall in love. Especially that cinematic moment "when all the others blur out, and Tony and Maria come into focus, and it's just an amazing falling-in-love moment. The music slows down, and there's an inevitability about their coming together and ignoring the whole world."

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THE MAGIC OF MIKHAIL

You can dispute the overall quality of the 1985 "White Nights," but here's one thing you can't dispute: the dancing prowess of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines. The two, who both play defectors (it's complicated), have silly dialogue but compelling dancing, together and apart. And, if you only have two minutes on your hands, search for "Baryshnikov" and "11 pirouettes." For 11 rubles, he does what is really one single pirouette with 11 revolutions — perfectly. In street clothes.

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STEP IN TIME

They're doing a high-profile "Mary Poppins" sequel, but for many it will be hard to match some of the memories of the 1964 original, like Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke dancing in "Step in Time" — that joyful chimney sweep scene on the London rooftops. "It takes the dirty, sooty experience of working on chimneys and makes it magical," says Perron.

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TRAVOLTA TRIFECTA

You gotta hand it to John Travolta, who's provided more than his share of lasting dance memories. First there was "Saturday Night Fever" (1977), where the actor earned big-screen fame as Tony Manero, king of the disco floor and champion of the strut. Only a year later he tore up the gym floor in "Grease," co-starring Olivia Newton-John. And in 1994, there was that understated — but unforgettable — twist contest with Uma Thurman in "Pulp Fiction."

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YOU KNOW, THAT LIFT

No one leaves Baby off a list. Before Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling did "La La Land," they did "Crazy, Stupid, Love," (2011) in which they recreated the famous "Dirty Dancing" lift made famous by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in 1987. You know the one. Enough said.

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A STORM OF DANCING

If you watch one dance clip, let it be this: the Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold, in their have-to-see-it-to-believe-it performance in "Stormy Weather" (1943). It's not just that the brothers, who overcame racial hurdles to earn fame for their astounding talent, tap and twirl and jump onto tables; they jump into full splits, too, in moves that look like they'd be horribly painful. At the end, they leapfrog over each other down a staircase, landing in splits each time. And then they get up and smile. "They're unstoppable," says Perron. "And they make it look so much fun."

How stars spend a month getting ready for Oscars' red carpet

Like prom for movie stars, the Academy Awards is Hollywood's most glamorous night. It's also the most photographed celebrity event of the year, its starry images beamed instantly around the world and endlessly reproduced in fashion magazines.

That's why it takes about a month and a team of specialists to get an A-list actress red-carpet ready — and the resulting photos can propel a thousand brands.

"The Oscars is the most visible (awards show) worldwide, so when someone wears a dress from a designer, it's like a massive ad campaign for them," said Hollywood stylist Tara Swennen, whose clients include Kristen Stewart and Julie Bowen. "It really is worth it."

And it's not just the dress. Because every aspect of a star's body is inspected and perfected for the Oscars, her camera-ready look is a living endorsement of countless products and companies.

Here's a look at some of the elements contributing to celebrity red-carpet perfection:

— BODY: Because the look generally begins with the outfit, preparations often start with the body. Most stars borrow designer gowns, which are only available in "sample size," somewhere between 2 and 4, Swennen said: "If you don't want to pay for it, you have to fit into it."

Hence the scramble to slim down. Enter fitness and nutrition specialists, who say they need about four weeks to achieve optimum results.

Enrollment in meal-delivery services spikes during awards season, said Danielle DuBoise, co-founder of Sakara, which delivers ready-to-eat, organic vegetarian meals to such clients as Chrissy Teigen and Gwyneth Paltrow. The company's four-week program is designed to yield the plant-based diet's maximum beauty benefits: a leaner shape, vibrant skin and hair and the energy to power through the busy season, DuBoise said.

Exercise is a must for shapely arms and a fit physique, added Vanessa Packer, whose ModelFit studios in New York and Los Angeles are known for keeping stars like Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss toned and tiny. Four weeks of regular classes will get a celebrity red-carpet ready, slimming the hips and waist and sculpting shoulders, legs and bottom, Packer said, "and it all leads back to glowing skin."

— SKIN: Stars also need about a month of lead time if Botox or fillers are part of their beauty plan, said Dr. Behrooz Torkian, a facial plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California. Those treatments need three to four weeks "to kick in and properly settle," he said: Botox takes about a week to relax wrinkles; fillers work immediately but can cause swelling or bruising for a week or two after.

Torkian estimates that "probably 60 or 70 percent" of men and women rely on injections to perfect their red-carpet look, adding, "I think that 100 percent of them would be in the category of doing something, at least some kind of skin treatment."

Austin-based esthetician Renee Rouleau applauds the complexion benefits of healthy eating and exercise, along with drinking lots of water and getting enough sleep. She advises her celebrity clients (including Demi Lovato) to follow an at-home skincare regimen and have weekly facials for a month leading up to a red-carpet moment. Rouleau also urges stars to avoid trying new products or new foods in the days before an event and to stay away from alcohol, which can cause "general puffiness."

"My job is to create a beautiful, even-toned canvas for the makeup artist," she said.

— MAKEUP: Healthy skin is essential for a flawless look, said Lady Gaga's makeup artist, Sarah Tanno. "It's really about taking care of the skin so you can use less makeup, because everything shows" under the flashbulbs on the red carpet or bright lights onstage, she said.

Her work doesn't stop at the face: Since stars are photographed from every angle on the Oscars red carpet, Tanno extends foundation and powder down a client's neck and decolletage for an even-toned appearance, and adds shimmer to exposed shoulders and collarbones.

Mark Payne, an Emmy-winning makeup artist, said that while a star's red-carpet look is determined by her dress, he opts for more neutral makeup suited to her features.

"You could design a look around a dress, and the dress will be changed at the last minute," he said.

— HAIR: Hair doesn't need too much advance prep, said Michael Shaun Corby of Living Proof. He recommends a cut three weeks in advance and a color treatment three days before the red carpet.

"The last thing you want is dark roots," he said.

He consults with the wardrobe stylist about the overall look before spending an hour or two to execute the style. Again, it depends on the dress: A strapless gown might call for flowing locks, where a high-neck design demands a classic updo.

— OUTFIT: It's the first thing chosen and the last to be put on. Swennen typically selects the dress (or tux) that determines the star's whole red-carpet vibe as soon as Oscar nominations are announced, or even earlier if she seems like a shoo-in. The stylist's choices are based on a star's personal style, body type and relationships she may already have with designers and brands. (Jennifer Lawrence, for example, has long been a model and muse for Dior.)

Then there's the question of availability.

"Every stylist is sharing from one sample set worldwide," she said. The same goes for the shoes and jewels.

Besides tailored makeup and hair, each dress demands its own accessories and underpinnings. And while the look is usually locked in early, Swennen keeps backup outfits and accessories on hand in case a client changes her mind at the last minute.

Stars who don't fit a sample size have to buy their dresses, unless a designer offers to make them something custom, as Christian Siriano did for "Ghostbusters" star Leslie Jones. Otherwise, nearly everything is on loan.

"You wear it, and the next day, it's like Cinderella at midnight," Swennen said. "You turn into a pumpkin and I come creeping in at 9 in the morning to get my stuff."

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy.

Most Americans have no idea who's up for an Oscar this year

And the Oscar goes to ... um, you know, that movie, with that guy, about that thing...

That's how the average American might hand over the hardware come trophy time this Sunday. A National Research Group poll conducted for the Hollywood Reporter found that 60 percent of Americans polled in early February could not name a single best-picture nominee. But 70 percent plan to watch the awards show, airing at 7 p.m. on ABC, anyway.

>> Read more trending stories

The poll surveyed 800 people, half of whom voted for Hillary Clinton and half of whom voted for Donald Trump in November's election, to ensure a balanced representation.

>> Related: The Oscars 2017: Complete list of nominees

"On average, Clinton fans were slightly more cinema-aware and were more likely to have seen the nominated films," the Hollywood Reporter noted.

To refresh your memory, the nominees are "Arrival," "La La Land," "Moonlight," "Fences," "Hacksaw Ridge," "Manchester by the Sea" and "Lion."

>> Related: 2017 Oscars: Two-sentence summaries of every Best Picture nominee

Judging from buzz and other awards leading up to the Oscars it looks like "Moonlight," and "La La Land" are the favored contenders.

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