In Iran, six jailed dancers are not 'Happy'

Posted: May 23, 2014

PHARRELL WILLIAMS' "Happy" has become so popular, it's virtually impossible to go a day without seeing or hearing some new version of it on TV or YouTube.

It's even made its way to Iran.

And in Iran, that's not a good thing.

An Internet video of six young Iranian men and women dancing to "Happy" has led to their arrests.

Darn you, Western infidels.

Criticism outside Iran was predictably swift yesterday, with calls for freedom for the jailed youths. Pharrell tweeted: "It's beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness."

A tweet posted last night on President Hassan Rouhani's account seemed to address the controversy, even if it stopped short of mentioning the video or the arrests directly.

"#Happiness is our people's right," it said. "We shouldn't be too hard on behaviors caused by joy."

Whoa, he's a radical.

Other social-media posts suggested at least some of the dancers had already been released, although there was no independent confirmation from authorities.

In Iran, some see the "Happy" trend as promoting the spread of Western culture, as laws in the Islamic Republic ban women from dancing in public or appearing outside without covering their hair with the hijab. The government also bans some websites.

The video that raised a ruckus shows hip 20-somethings hamming it up in sunglasses and silly clothes on Tehran rooftops and in alleyways. One of the bearded men goofily dips his female dancing partner.

None of the three women in the video wears a hijab.

How dare they flaunt their 21st-century ideals in your 14th-century country.

The video was posted online several weeks ago. It includes the participants' first names in a credit roll with outtakes. They describe themselves as Williams' fans, adding: " 'Happy' was an excuse to be happy. We enjoyed every second of making it."

"They were identified and arrested within six hours," Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia said.

Must have been a slow crime day in Tehran.


Jansen Panettiere, probably best known for a role in "Tiger Cruise," which co-starred his sister Hayden, has been cast as the lead in "The Martial Arts Kid," reports Comics Guy Jerome Maida.

"It's exciting to be part of 'The Martial Arts Kid,' " said Jansen of the film co-headlined by legends Cynthia Rothrock and Don "The Dragon" Wilson. "I look forward to training hard and filming in June."

Jansen has been a paparazzi magnet of late due to his relationship with Chloe Grace Moretz, but "Kid" co-producer James Wilson said "The kid can act. His audition was incredible."

* The latest episode of "Star Wars" has begun filming in Abu Dhabi.

Filming on "Fast & Furious 7" recently wrapped up there. The American soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" also filmed in the Emirati capital this year, as did Bollywood feature "Bang Bang."

Abu Dhabi offers a 30 percent rebate on production costs.

Katy Perry's portrait is joining the collection at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

The museum said yesterday that a 2010 portrait of Perry by artist Will Cotton, entitled "Cupcake Katy," will go on view beginning June 18. It will be part of a rotating display of recently acquired portraits. The tongue-in-cheek picture depicts Perry as a cupcake.

In the National Portrait Gallery?

Next to the portrait of George Washington as a knish?

Other pop stars in the Smithsonian collection include Beyonce, Madonna and Michael Jackson.

Jay Z is opening his 40/40 Club at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport.

40/40 was named after the rare feat among baseball players of hitting 40 homers and stealing 40 bases in one season.

In the Atlanta airport, "40" is the number of minutes it's going to take you to get to your connecting flight.

Carole King is scheduled to perform at a central Idaho rally for a U.S. soldier held captive by the Taliban since 2009.

The Idaho Mountain Express reported yesterday that King, whose hits include "You've Got a Friend," will perform for free in Hailey on June 28 at the event intended to raise awareness for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

This will be the second year for the event called "Bring Bowe Back," and organizers expect up to 7,000 people to attend.

Bergdahl, 28, is from Hailey and is the only American held captive in the Afghan war.

* reports that "Saturday Night Live" alum Bill Hader has signed an exclusive development deal with HBO to create and star in a new comedy series.

It is unlikely to be about Stefon.

Jimmy Fallon is taking the "Tonight Show" on a road trip to Florida. Shows will be taped June 16 through 19 from Universal Orlando Resort. Scheduled guests include Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and Tracy Morgan.

There will also be a first look at the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Studios theme-park ride.

Now let's see, why would a TV show airing on Comcast-owned NBC be eager to promote an attraction at the Comcast-owned Universal theme park? For the same reason ABC TV shows keep showing up at Disney World.

It's all about the synergy.

- Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.


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