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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that reforming the economy is his top priority. Business leaders welcomed the commitment, but noted that such pledges need to be backed up by action.
Putin won his third term in office in March amid large-scale protests in Moscow and other cities, fueled by evidence of election fraud in December’s parliamentary vote and fatigue with his 12-year rule.
He stepped down as president in 2008 because of a constitutional limit of two consecutive terms, but remained at the helm as prime minister.
In an address to investors and heads of global corporations, Putin confirmed his commitment to economic reforms that should make Russia a more attractive business destination.
“We have mapped out an entire program of large-scale reform, and it has received broad public support,” he said. “I see its fulfillment as the main goal of my tenure as president.”
Putin admitted that the government has failed to diversify Russia’s economy away from its reliance on crude oil, but pledged to tackle the issue. He said the government will soon be drafting its budgets in a way that Russia’s main expenditures and investment projects will not rely on taxes expected to come in from oil companies enjoying high oil prices.
In a move cheered by businessmen and investors, Putin on Thursday appointed a presidential ombudsman vested with special powers to defend the rights of company owners and directors.
The new ombudsman, Boris Titov, will have powers to represent owners and directors in courts and suspend official rulings which could be viewed as hampering their rights. Titov had previously served as a chairman of the well-respected business lobby Delovaya Rossiya.
Russian authorities have admitted that a poor investment climate is scaring investors away and hope Titov’s appointment will improve the country’s profile and reputation.
Andrew Sommers, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, told The Associated Press that he sees “a significant chance of success” in that initiative. Titov has a lot of experience lobbying for businesses and the government has thoroughly researched how similar institutions work in other countries, he said.
Sommers admitted that the economic goals Putin has set out are turning into “a long, complicated process”, but said he believes that Putin is “challenging himself and the government to meet those goals.”
Dennis Nally, chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said he was encouraged by the “pro-reform message” but said the
government needs to make good on its promises.
It’s “not just about putting the right policies in place,” he told the AP, “but it’s about making tangible progress, making these policies come to life every day in terms of execution. That’s what the business community has come here to see.”
In his speech, Putin also touched upon protests against his rule, arguing that it’s important to listen to grievances of the opposition. But he indicated that he would not bend to opposition demands.
“A striving for change is a driver of progress, but it gets counter-productive and dangerous when it destroys peace in the society and the state,” he said. “We must be aware of the things in our political system that can and must be improved, and which values and institutions are fundamental and ought to remain unchanged.”
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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