Persbrandt cut out
Don't expect to see Mikael Persbrandt in the first of Peter Jackson’s new films "Hobbit: An unexpected journey," which will soon premiere. The Swedish actor has been cut out ... thus Persbrandt's long awaited international debut will have to wait a bit. This all due to Jackson’s late decision to make the story of the Hobbit Bilbo into a trilogy, rather than a two part movie. Persbrandt’s part as Beorn will make his entrance in the second part (“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”) and he will also be in the third part (“The Hobbit: There and Back Again”). This has been confirmed by Persbrandt’s agent Peter Jansson. For diehard Tolkien fans, Beorn’s delayed entrance will hardly come as a surprise. Tolkien enthusiast David Borgström, a buyer at Stockholm’s Science Fiction Bookstore, points out the rather weak base material; the novel “Bilbo” and the collected writings in “The Silmarillion” must be watered down to be able to last as a film. “Peter Jackson could have cut it differently, but now that he’ll do three films he’ll most certainly do the action scenes longer and richer than they appear in the book. And therefore it’s not logical that Beorn appears right away,” he says.

Sundsvall boy 'Yohio' Big in Japan
One of the contestants in the Melodifestival of 2103 is Yohio, a 17 year old from Sundsvall who also happens to be a super star in Japan where he sings and performs dressed as a girl in a genre known as “visual kei," a movement among Japanese musicians that is characterized by the use of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes often coupled with an androgynous aesthetic. Yohio normally sings in Japanese, but it’s not clear whether he will do so at Melodifestivalen. His record company Ninetone Records confirms that a song has been sent to Melodifestivalen on Yohio’s behalf. Besides Yohio, veterans like Sylvia Vrethammar and Louise Hoffsten will compete, making this year’s festival a bit different from other years. For a taste of what Yohio looks and sounds like, check out this video on YouTube:

Sweden Rock nominated
Sweden Rock, the annual rock festival which has been held by the sea in Soelvesborg since 1998, has been nominated for the prize of best international festival. It is Pollstar, a concert tour industry publication, that awards the prize. According to a press release from Sweden Rock, it is the first time ever a Swedish festival has been nominated, and the festival will compete with, among others, the British festivals T in the Park and V Festival as well as the Spanish Primavera Sound festival. The winners will be presented at a gala in Los Angeles on February 7 of next year.

Ikea used prison labor
It's been revealed that Swedish furniture giant Ikea used forced prison labor by some of its suppliers in communist East Germany more than two decades ago. The company has now released an independent report, which shows East German prisoners involved in the making of goods supplied to Ikea some 25 years ago. "We deeply regret that this could happen," Jeanette Skjelmose, an Ikea manager, said in a statement. "The use of political prisoners for manufacturing was at no point accepted by Ikea." Skjelmose added that Ikea at the time didn’t have a control system advanced enough to prevent production methods like these. Rainer Wagner, chairman of the victims' group UOKG, said Ikea was just one of many companies that benefited from the use of forced prison labor in East Germany from the 1960s to 1980s. "Ikea has taken the lead on this, for which we are very grateful," he told a news conference in Berlin, where the findings of the report were presented.