Mandalit del Barco

Hollywood studios are demanding more and more visual effects to make blockbuster films. But the artists who create this movie magic are protesting that they and their entire industry are in deep financial trouble. Even the most celebrated visual-effects companies face the risk of going under, and there are calls to revamp the way they do business.

People of all ages have been passing the time playing Angry Birds on their mobile devices. Now Rovio, the company that created the best-selling app, is offering fans a new cartoon series based on the game, which has so far been downloaded 1.7 billion times.

The concept behind Angry Birds is extremely simple: There are these colorful cartoon birds that are angry because some green pigs are after their eggs. Players of the digital game use slingshots to catapult the birds — who don't fly — to destroy structures hiding the pigs.

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Okay. The movies "Argo" and "Life of Pi" and the actors Daniel Day Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence were among the winners at last night's Academy Awards. NPR's Mandalit Del Barco was backstage.

NPR's Sam Sanders and Mandalit del Barco were backstage at the Oscars on Sunday, covering the awards show. They sat in the press room, where winners go for interviews during and after the show. Here's a roundup of what they saw that you didn't see, in senior superlative form.

Most Likely To Stand By Her Man Until The End Of All Natural Time: Jennifer Garner

The film No revisits the moment in Chile's history when 56 percent of the country voted to oust a dictator from power. It's the tale of the ad campaign that helped persuade Chileans to cast their ballots against Gen. Augusto Pinochet in a national referendum.

"This is an epic story, the story of a triumph," says Director Pablo Larrain. "It's how they defeat a dictator — probably one of the biggest bastards that we ever had in humankind."

On 53rd Street and Vermont Avenue in South Los Angeles, violent members of at least six gangs run the streets. A landmark church is boarded up and tagged. There are liquor stores and abandoned lots. On Tuesday night, there was a drive-by shooting two blocks away, and folks are expecting retaliation. This is an area where murders, robberies and rapes are common — and so are guns.

"There's too many guns out there," says Randolph Wright, 18. "I can tell you right now, every hood has an AK[-47]. Regardless of whatever other gun they got, they have an AK."

In November, more than 1.5 million Los Angeles County voters passed the Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act. The new law orders porn actors to wear condoms during sex scenes.

"The porn industry has been sending a very bad message by saying the only kind of sex that's hot is unsafe," says Michael Weinstein, CEO of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sponsored the measure.

Sitting in his office, just over the hills from the nation's porn film capital, Weinstein says the new law was meant to protect both performers and those who watch the movies.

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And in other news, the creators of "South Park" and "The Book of Mormon" have announced they are forming their own production studio. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

Unlike many undocumented immigrants, Sofia Campos is not afraid to give her real name.

"It's deliberate, and it's liberating," she says. "It's kind of a shock to hear somebody say, 'I am undocumented' or wear the 'I am undocumented' T-shirt, just in your face."

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Several thousand prisoners in California may be eligible to apply for sentence reductions, after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative Tuesday that alters the state's controversial three-strikes law.

But voters also rejected a proposition that would abolish the death penalty in the state. Proposition 34 would have replaced capital punishment with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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For 50 years, Spanish-speaking TV viewers have tuned into the weekly variety show Sábado Gigante. Host Don Francisco commands a festive live audience in Miami, with celebrity interviews, musical performances, goofy sidekicks and scantily clad dancers. The three-hour show is broadcast throughout the Americas.

Dreamworks' animated movie Puss in Boots was a big deal. It won an Oscar, and its swashbuckling, sloe-eyed kitty was voiced by Antonio Banderas.

The meticulous computer-generated animation took four years and something like $130 million to make. But another cartoon, Puss In Boots: A Furry Tail, was hand-drawn in six months for less than $1 million. It went straight to DVD — one of the many low-budget productions riding the coattails of Hollywood blockbusters.

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Thursday was supposed to mark the end of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, after the city council approved a ban on them this summer. But patients and advocates have managed to halt the ban, and some dispensary operators are suing the city.

For years, Los Angeles has been a mecca for medical marijuana dispensaries. Anyone with a doctor's recommendation could stop in at chic storefronts offering cannabis-laced desserts or at the more underground clinics, labeled only with a green cross. Hundreds, maybe 1,000 of these pot shops popped up around L.A.

The new release from Juanes marks a departure for the Colombian pop star. The all-acoustic album was recorded in front of a live Miami audience for MTV Unplugged.

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In the aftermath of the mass shooting in a Colorado theater, the hoopla surrounding a blockbuster movie opening was toned down, and theaters around the country began beefing up security.

Warner Bros., the studio behind The Dark Knight Rises, canceled Friday night's red-carpet premiere in Paris. It also called off a press conference with the director and the stars.

Jerry Seinfeld's new series is called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and the promos promise exactly that. The comic toodles around in his vintage wheels, drinking java with his pals Alec Baldwin, Michael Richards and Larry David, and discussing (among other things) the effrontery of ordering herbal tea when invited out for coffee.

But the next act from the man behind the most popular sitcom on television won't be on television. It's a webseries.

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Now in Hollywood last night, Microsoft unveiled its newest product: a tablet computer to compete with the iPad. Putting out a computer is an unusual move for Microsoft, which is mostly known for software.

NPR's Mandalit del Barco was at the announcement.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, Labor Center in downtown L.A., more than 100 student leaders from around the country hugged and cheered as President Obama delivered his immigration announcement Friday.

Obama outlined a new policy to temporarily stop deporting some young illegal immigrants and make them eligible for work permits.

Diego Sanchez was born in Argentina and brought to Miami 12 years ago. He's working on getting his MBA. He welcomed the president's announcement.

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Let's update you now, on a new partnership in the news business. ABC News and Spanish language TV network Univision have announced they're joining forces. They're creating a multiplatform news service. The language will be English. The target is Latino audiences.

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"The Artist" won five Oscars last night. That's the black and white silent movie set in the 1920s and '30s. The style of that movie tells you something about the style of last night's awards ceremony.

NPR's Mandalit del Barco was backstage.

Rita Moreno — the only Latino performer to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — is reprising some of her most memorable characters in a solo show at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Up the coast in Los Angeles, John Leguizamo, who co-starred opposite Al Pacino in Carlito's Way and voiced Sid the sloth in the animated Ice Age films, is performing another of his acclaimed solo shows. And while their Hollywood success came 40 years apart, the two say they encountered many of the same hurdles.

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