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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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Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” captivates in second season

Piper Chapman, the fictional inmate at the center of Jenji Kohan’s magnificently layered and wickedly seamy Netflix dramedy “Orange Is the New Black,” has been sent to one of the Litchfield women’s correctional facility’s solitary confinement cells, a.k.a. “the SHU” (Special Housing Unit), after giving another inmate a good pummeling at the end of the series’ first season.

“Edge of Tomorrow:” a taut but familiar Tom Cruise vehicle

Tom Cruise’s acting career, for the most part, can be divided neatly into two kinds of movies and performances: oddball supporting roles, in which he lets himself — and us — have some fun (i.e. “Rock of Ages,” “Tropic Thunder,” “Magnolia”), and leading roles in big-budget films, in which he essentially runs around saving the world (literally; the man always seems to be running), equipped with a set jaw and an extremely purposeful expression. He does this latter kind of performance quite well, within its limitations, but you do tend to feel like it’s the same movie over and over.

AMC does Texas tech in “Halt and Catch Fire”

AUSTIN, Texas — It’s a cool, cloudy Saturday afternoon during South by Southwest but things are heating up inside a 2nd Street restaurant where cast members and show runners for the new AMC drama “Halt and Catch Fire,” premiering at 10 p.m. EDT Sunday, are high on the buzz coming out of the festival.