Obama pays tribute to The Eagles, James Taylor, Al Pacino

Elton John's big contest

Elton John is giving filmmakers a chance to create music videos for his 1970s hits that were released before music videos were popular.

The English singer announced Monday that, in celebration of his 50th anniversary with songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, he's launching a competition with YouTube for aspiring creators to make music videos for "Rocket Man," ''Tiny Dancer," and "Bennie and the Jets."

The competition for "Elton John: The Cut" opens Jan. 9 and closes Jan. 23. Creators must be at least 16.

John, Taupin, a panel of YouTube creators, and industry players will pick three winners, and music videos will premiere next summer. Winners will also receive $10,000 from YouTube. Pulse Films will help the filmmakers with production.

Oh gosh, it's Mr. Vader!

Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, Beautiful Kate) is a fine actor, and Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) ain't too bad a director. Consummate pros both, the pair, who have 88 years between them, freaked out like little schoolkids on acid when they had to work with Darth Vader on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which opens Friday.

The two grown men were reduced to quivering fanboys in awe, tongue-tied before the Dark One.

"We were in the middle of filming this scene with Darth, and Ben was like, 'Gareth, need to talk to you,' " Edwards tells reporters. Ben, who plays the villainous Orson Krennic, looked as if he were having a breakdown.

He took the director aside. "It's Darth [bleeping] Vader!" he said. "And it was like, 'I know!' " said Edwards. "And we both had this little moment where we melted and we could just admit it. And then we turned around really professionally like."

Brit & Zal create for Netflix

Writer-actor Brit Marling and writer-director Zal Batmanglij, the team behind two brilliant indie thrillers, Sound of My Voice and The East, have created a series for Netflix.

Called The OA, the psychological thriller was first announced Monday, just four days before it premieres Friday with an eight-episode season.

USA Today says Marlin plays a missing blind woman who mysteriously returns home after seven years with her sight restored. Phyllis Smith (The Office), Emory Cohen (Brooklyn), Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead), and Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter) co-star.

tirdad@phillynews.com

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