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Outdoor theater abounds in Northwest parks

Grab your sun hat and pack your picnic: from Seattle to Snohomish, Mount Vernon to Monroe, Bainbridge Island to Burien, the hills (and valleys) are alive this summer with the sounds of Shakespeare and musical comedies.

Pop music is streaming more than selling

LOS ANGELES — One brutal truth emerges from Nielsen SoundScan’s report on trends in the music industry for the first half of 2014: Today’s consumers are far more interested in seeing and hearing pop music than buying it.

Mark Wahlberg: From teddy bears to Autobots

LOS ANGELES — Before Mark Wahlberg ever attempted to test his mettle vis-a-vis giant metamorphosizing robots from outer space — before he befriended a heroic battle-bot named Optimus Prime on screen — the actor prepared for his latest part with an unlikely foil: a talking teddy bear with an outsize taste for prostitutes and cocaine.

“Maiden” is the reason Sandra Oh left “Grey’s Anatomy”

CHICAGO — With its sadly timeless themes of political tyranny, the fragility of democracy and the intersection of political and personal abuse, Ariel Dorfman’s drama “Death and the Maiden” certainly feels ripe for revival. The widely acclaimed work by the Argentine-Chilean scribe was a global hit in the early 1990s, premiering at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1991, and then showing up on Broadway with Glenn Close and Richard Dreyfus. Roman Polanski made a movie version in 1994 with Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley.

Paramount rushes to end “Transformers” dispute in China

BEIJING — Hollywood studios, salivating over China’s booming movie market, are falling over themselves to sew up deals on the mainland. But just days before its global launch of “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” Paramount Pictures got a crash course in just how fraught such tie-ups can be.

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Push made to make “Dragon” sequel, bigger, better

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a lot of good and bad to making a follow-up to a highly successful feature film. The people behind “How to Train Your Dragon 2” ran into both as they were putting together the sequel that follows one of the best reviewed films of 2010.

With new musical, Sting’s “Ship” comes in

NEW YORK — Sometime around 2004, Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, better known as Sting, a rock star with 16 Grammys and more than 100 million records sold, found himself with a severe case of writer’s block. It wasn’t that he stopped touring (he didn’t), making money (he still made plenty) or even recording (there were albums of other people’s songs and a new symphonic treatment of his past material), but he found, to his chagrin, he could not write any new songs.

“Stars” author: Blessings and sorrow

Back in 2012, John Green didn’t know that his young-adult novel “The Fault in Our Stars” — the achingly sad love story of two teenagers with terminal cancer — would become an international bestseller and later, a major motion picture. He also didn’t know that he would have to spend the next 2 1/2 years talking at length about some of the most grim subjects imaginable: Teenagers who have cancer. Kids who are dying. What it might be like to die. How people think about death.

“Fault” vaults into weekend box-office spotlight

LOS ANGELES — The 20th Century Fox snifflefest “The Fault in Our Stars” took in $48.2 million in the U.S. and Canada over the weekend, according to an estimate Sunday from distributor Fox, surpassing early projections and easily beating the new Tom Cruise sci-fi epic “Edge of Tomorrow.”