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Sonia Pantiss

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Sonia is the heart and the artist of the team. She loves art and all that it implies. As Sonia says, good music, a well directed movie, or attending a music or film festival melts people’s heart and make them better. She is great at painting and photography. Working on scrapbooks is her favorite activity.

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Tragically Hip’s frontman Gord Downie has died following a battle with brain cancer at the age of 53.

Gord Downie – who was dubbed Canada’s unofficial poet laureate – had been diagnosed with an incurable glioblastoma in May 2016.

His family said in a statement he passed away quietly surrounded by friends and relatives.

PM Justin Trudeau led the national mourning for the star with a tearful public statement.

He said on October 18: “He loved every hidden corner, every story, every aspect of this country that he celebrated his whole life.


“We are less as a country without Gord Downie in it. We all knew it was coming, but we hoped it was not.”

Despite his diagnosis, Gord Downie continued to tour with Tragically Hip and produce music in the last years of his life.

Image source Flickr

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The band said in a written statement: “Gord knew this day was coming – his response was to spend this time as he always had – making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss… on the lips.”

Gord Downie’s lyrics often referenced Canadian culture and mythology, which endeared the band to fans who were used to seeing Canadian musicians “Americanize” their music to appeal to an international audience.

The Tragically Hip’s first full-length album, Up to Here, was full of the kinds of blues-tinged party songs like New Orleans is Sinking that helped make the band one of Canada’s most in-demand live acts across the country.

However, it was the band’s subsequent albums, infused with obscure references to Canadian history and hockey and experimental song structures like Fireworks and Bobcaygeon that truly defined the sound of the Tragically Hip.

The band never made it big in the US – a fact that didn’t seemed to bother Gord Downie or his band too much.

At home, they regularly sold out stadiums, but south of the border, they could often be found playing small-town bars, mostly filled with Canadian fans who had made the trek just to see them.

Far from a sign of failure, their lack of international fame only helped seal their reputation at home as a national treasure. Nine out of the band’s 13 studio albums went to No 1 on Canada’s music charts, and all of them cracked the top 10.

Shortly after Gord Downie announced his cancer diagnosis last year, the band went on a sold-out nationwide summer tour, which helped raise C$1 million ($800,000) for brain cancer research.

The tour culminated in a final show in Kingston, Ontario, the band’s hometown, that was broadcast live across Canada.

In the final year of his life, Gord Downie released a solo album and graphic novel titled The Secret Path, inspired by the true story of an indigenous boy who died while trying to escape a residential school.

For his work on reconciliation, Gord Downie was awarded an Order of Canada by PM Justin Trudeau.

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The board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted to expel Harvey Weinstein following numerous allegations of assault made against him.

The organization behind the Oscars said its board “voted well in excess of the required two-thirds majority” to expel the Hollywood film producer.

The board’s members include Hollywood figures such as Tom Hanks and Whoopi Goldberg.

Harvey Weinstein’s films have received more than 300 Oscar nominations and won 81.

In a statement, the Academy said governors voted to expel Harvey Weinstein “not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in s**ually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over”.

They added: “What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society.”

The emergency board meeting followed an avalanche of accusations against Harvey Weinstein by more than two dozen women, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Rose McGowan, who alleges that he raped her in a hotel room.

The NYPD and the UK police are investigating the allegations.

Image source Wikimedia

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Harvey Weinstein has apologized for some aspects of his behavior but insisted that any contacts he had were consensual, and he denies accusations of harassment, rape and assault.

The 65-year-old’s expulsion comes after Bob Weinstein told the Hollywood Reporter that his “sick and depraved” brother should be “kicked out” of the Academy.

Harvey Weinstein’s expulsion means he will no longer be able to vote for nominees or winners in the Oscars.

Hollywood figures were quick to praise the move but some have called for the Academy to take similar action against other members.

It is only the second time a member has been expelled. Carmine Caridi had his membership revoked in 2004 after he allegedly sent confidential film preview videos to a friend which ended up online.

As the co-founder of Miramax Pictures and the Weinstein Company, Harvey Weinstein produced some of the most celebrated movies, including Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love.

Harvey Weinstein has been thanked dozens of times in Oscar acceptance speeches, and in 2012 Meryl Streep jokingly referred to him as “God” onstage.

As accusations against Harvey Weinstein began to mount in recent days, film industry heavyweights came out to publicly condemn him and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) suspended his membership.

The French government is reportedly considering revoking Harvey Weinstein’s Legion of Honour, France’s highest civilian distinction, and there have been calls from some British politicians for his honorary CBE title to be revoked.

During an interview with Hollywood Reporter, Bob Weinstein called his brother “sick and depraved” and said he had no idea of “the type of predator that he was”.

Bob Weinstein refused to comment on reports that he and the board of Weinstein Company were aware of his brother’s settlements with women during recent contract negotiations, saying only that the board “did not know the extent of my brother’s actions”.

He went on to call Harvey Weinstein’s apology statement “utter insanity” and a “lame excuse”.

“I’ll tell you what I did know,” he said.

“Harvey was a bully, Harvey was arrogant…that I knew.”

Earlier, Bob Weinstein denied media reports that the Weinstein Company – which has placed Harvey Weinstein on indefinite leave – could now be closed or sold.

However, several large film projects have been pulled from the company already, and reports in the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal said that financers had begun to pressure the board to sell.

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Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Tom Petty has died in California aged 66, a statement issued on behalf of his family has announced.

Tom Petty was found unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home on October 3.

The singer was taken to hospital, but could not be revived and died later that evening.

He was best known as the lead singer of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers rock band, producing such hits as American Girl, Breakdown, Free Fallin’, Learning to Fly and Refugee.

His long-time manager Tony Dimitriades said: “He died peacefully at 20:40 Pacific time surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”

Tom Petty was also a co-founder of the Traveling Wilburys group in the late 1980s, touring with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison.

Image source Wikimedia

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“It’s shocking, crushing news,” said Bob Dylan, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“I thought the world of Tom. He was great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”

Tom Petty also found solo success in 1989 with his album Full Moon Fever, which featured one of his most popular songs Free Fallin’, co-written with Jeff Lynne.

In 2002, Tom Petty was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The musician was born in Gainesville, Florida, in 1950.

According to legend, Tom Petty decided to become a musician after shaking Elvis Presley’s hand in the 1950s. He traded his slingshot for a box of records and never looked back.

At the age of 17, Tom Petty dropped out of school to join Mudcrutch with future Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench.

The band learned their craft by listening to pop radio, he once told NPR.

In the early 1970s, they moved to Los Angeles in the hope of finding a record contract. Tom Petty succeeded, but the band fell apart soon after.

It was not until 1975 that the musicians reunited and The Heartbreakers were formed. The quintet released their self-titled debut a year later.

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Marilyn Manson has been badly injured during a concert in New York when a large prop fell on him on stage.

The prop – apparently two large guns held together with metal scaffolding – fell as the rock star was performing at the Hammerstein Ballroom on September 30.

It appears Marilyn Manson, 48, laid on stage for up to 15 minutes covered by a sheet before he was carried out on a stretcher and taken to hospital.

The singer’s condition is not currently known.

Image source Wikimedia

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In videos of the incident posted online, stage crew and band members can be seen lifting the prop off Marilyn Manson but he does not get back up.

A black sheet was put around the singer until he could be taken off stage, when an announcement was made that the show was canceled “due to injury”.

A representative told Rolling Stone magazine: “Manson suffered an injury towards the end of his incredible NYC show. He is being treated at a local hospital.”

Marilyn Manson was three dates into his The Heaven Upside Down Tour. He was due to perform in Boston on October 2.

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Soul singer Charles Bradley has died from stomach cancer at the age of 68.

The former James Brown impersonator, nicknamed “the screaming eagle of soul” found fame in his later years. He released his first album No Time For Dreaming in 2011, aged 62.

Charles Bradley had recently returned to live performance after receiving treatment for stomach cancer late last year.

The singer’s death comes just two weeks after the remainder of his 2017 tour dates were canceled due to illness.

Charles Bradley spent much of his life working odd jobs as a handyman – and some of it living on the streets, sleeping in subway cars in New York City.

However, he continued to pursue music, having been inspired by James Brown during a performance he saw as a teenager.

Image source Wikimedia

Charles Bradley was eventually signed to a New York label in the early 2000s, securing a spot as the opening act on tour for soul revival singer Sharon Jones – who died last year aged 60.

He recorded a string of singles before the release of No Time for Dreaming a decade later. It was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s best albums of the year.

Charles Bradley’s critical success led to live performances at some of the world’s top music festivals, including Glastonbury, Coachella, and Primavera Sound.

His rags-to-riches story was the subject of the documentary Charles Bradley: Soul of America. It followed Charles Bradley from his initial signing to the record label, living in crippling debt, to his sold-out album release show.

Earlier in September, when announcing the tour’s cancelation, a message attributed to Charles Bradley on his social media accounts said: “I love all of you out there that made my dreams come true.

“When I come back, I’ll come back strong, with God’s love. With God’s will, I’ll be back soon.”

Confirming news of Charles Bradley’s death, his publicist said: “Mr. Bradley was truly grateful for all the love he’s received from his fans and we hope his message of love is remembered and carried on.”

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The Handmaid’s Tale has scooped the top drama honors at this year’s Emmy Awards winning five awards including best drama series, best actress for Elisabeth Moss and best supporting actress for Ann Dowd.

Big Little Lies won five prizes in the limited series categories, including wins for Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern.

Riz Ahmed won best lead actor in a limited series or movie for The Night Of.

Charlie Brooker, who won best writing for a limited series for his Netflix show Black Mirror.

One of the episodes, San Junipero, also won the trophy for best TV movie. Charlie Brooker said it “was a story about love, and love will defeat hate, it will win”.

John Oliver and his writing team scooped two prizes for satirical show Last Week Tonight. He said a show like his could definitely work in the UK.

The Handmaid’s Tale’s win for best drama series means Hulu has become the first streaming service to win that award, beating the likes of big hitters Netflix and Amazon.

Bruce Miller – who won two trophies as the show’s writer and executive producer – thanked author Margaret Atwood, “who created this world for all of us”. The show is adapted from Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel.

Image source Flickr

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In the limited series categories, HBO’s Big Little Lies won best lead actress, (Nicole Kidman), supporting actress (Laura Dern), supporting actor (Alexander Skarsgard), director (Jean-Marc Vallee) and best limited series.

Accepting the award for best limited series, Nicole Kidman said: “The power of television has astounded us, you allowed us into your living rooms… but as much as the show has the entertainment value, it’s about the issues.”

The series, which deals with themes such as domestic violence, also stars Reese Witherspoon, who encouraged the TV industry to provide “more great roles for women”.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus won best actress in a comedy series for Veep for the sixth year in a row – breaking the record for the most Emmys won by a lead actor for the same role.

Veep, which was created by Armando Iannucci, also won one of the night’s top prizes for best comedy series.

Sterling K. Brown’s win for best lead actor in a drama series marked the first time an African-American actor had won in the category in almost 20 years.

He continued his acceptance speech in the press room after being cut off on the main stage.

Host Stephen Colbert and several of the winners made political references on stage.

“At long last, Mr. President, here is your Emmy,” said Alec Baldwin as he collected his prize for supporting actor in a comedy series, mocking Donald Trump’s frustration at never having won for The Apprentice.

Alec Baldwin regularly portrays Donald Trump on comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, which won four awards including best variety sketch series and best supporting actress in a comedy series for Kate McKinnon.

Several high-profile series failed to live up to expectations, including Westworld and Stranger Things, which both went home empty-handed.

Game of Thrones, a big winner at previous Emmys, was not eligible this year because episodes from its last series didn’t air during the Emmys eligibility window.

Likewise, Twin Peaks will have to wait until 2018 to be considered.

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Frank Vincent, best known for his roles in The Sopranos series and several Martin Scorsese movies, has died aged 78.

According to TMZ, the veteran actor had complications during open heart surgery in a New Jersey hospital.

In The Sopranos, Frank Vincent portrayed gangster Phil Leotardo, the nemesis to the main character Tony Soprano.

The actor also played tough guys for Martin Scorsese in Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino.

He had a heart attack last week, TMZ reported.

Image source Wikipedia

Jerry Lewis Dies in Las Vegas Aged 91

Sam Shepard Dies Aged 73

Country Star Don Williams Dies Aged 78

Frank Vincent was born in North Adams, Massachusetts and was introduced to show business at an early age by his father, an amateur actor.

He made his acting debut in 1975 in Ralph DeVito’s Death Collector, according to his website. Martin Scorsese saw his work and cast him for Raging Bull, in 1980.

During his 41-year career, Frank Vincent often played mafia characters, most notably in Goodfellas, in 1990, when he portrayed Billy Batts, who famously ended up beaten to death by Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito.

Frank Vincent was also a musician, comedian, producer and author – he wrote A Guy’s Guide to Being A Man’s Man.

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JJ Abrams is the new director of Star Wars: Episode IX, Lucasfilm has announced.

He launched the new era of Star Wars series with The Force Awakens in 2015.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said: “JJ delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for” in the earlier installment, and she was excited he was returning to “close out this trilogy”.

JJ Abrams replaces Colin Trevorrow, who dropped out of Episode IX last month.

Meanwhile the release has been delayed by six months, to December 2019.

The announcement was made on Twitter by Walt Disney Studios, which owns Lucasfilm, on September 8.

Image source Wikipedia

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Chris Terrio will co-write the ninth installment with JJ Abrams. He won an Oscar for writing Argo in 2013 and his other scripts include Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the forthcoming Justice League.

Episode IX is expected to star Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.

Rian Johnson is directing the second in the current trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which will be released this December.

According to a Deadline report, Rian Johnson had declined an offer to take over Episode IX before JJ Abrams was approached.

Most Star Wars fans on Twitter welcomed JJ Abrams’ return to the franchise.

Colin Trevorrow, who directed Jurassic World, left the director’s chair because he and Lucasfilm had differing “visions”, the company said.

Lucasfilm has a reputation for ruthlessness when it comes to hiring and firing directors. In 2015, Fantastic Four‘s Josh Trank was dropped from directing a standalone Star Wars story.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller also left the Han Solo standalone movie with only a few weeks left in production, and were replaced by Ron Howard.

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Texan country music singer Don Williams has died at the age of 78.

He enjoyed great success with his easy-going singing style.

Don Williams passed away after a short illness, his publicist said.

He began his solo career in 1971, amassing 17 No 1 country hits.

His songs, such as Gypsy Woman and Tulsa Time, were covered by many other singers – including Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend.

Kenny Rogers, Bobby Bare and Jack Clement inducted into Country Music Hall of Fame

Shania Twain announces final Rock This Country tour dates

Image source Wikimedia

Don Williams was known as the gentle giant of country music.

Other hits included You’re My Best Friend, I Believe in You and Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.

In 2010, Don Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

A second country singer, Troy Gentry of the popular country duo Montgomery Gentry, has also died at the age of 50. He was killed in a helicopter crash.

A statement of the band’s website said: “It is with great sadness that we confirm that Troy Gentry, half of the popular country duo, Montgomery Gentry, was tragically killed in a helicopter crash which took place at approximately 1:00pm today in Medford, New Jersey.”

The band said details of the crash were not immediately known.

Troy Gentry was due to perform in Medford on September 8.

María Pilar Abel Martínez, the Spanish woman who believed Salvador Dali was her father, is not the surrealist artist’s daughter, according to DNA test results.

The tarot card reader, who was born in 1956, says her mother had an affair with Salvador Dalí during the year before her birth.

A judge in Madrid agreed the artist’s body could be exhumed for testing in June.

Now the Dali Foundation says the tests carried out have conclusively proved the two are not related.

Image source Flickr

Salvador Dali’s Body Exhumed for Paternity Test

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The foundation, which manages the artist’s estate, said in a statement on September 6 – six weeks after Dali’s body was exhumed from a crypt in a museum dedicated to his life and work in Figueres: “The DNA tests show that Pilar Abel is not Dali’s daughter.”

Had they been related, María Pilar Abel Martinez would have had a claim on part of Salvador Dali’s estate, which he left to the Spanish state following his death in 1989 at the age of 85.

A number of Salvador Dali experts had raised their eyebrows at the claim before his body was exhumed, with biographer Ian Gibson noting the artist’s own claim of: “I’m impotent, you’ve got to be impotent to be a great painter.”

It is not known how María Pilar Abel Martinez, who had been told from an early age she was the Salvador Dali’s daughter, has responded to the news.

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Director Colin Trevorrow has decided to leave Star Wars: Episode IX because he and Lucasfilm have differing “visions”.

Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to star Daisy Ridley and John Boyega and is due out in May 2019. Lucasfilm will now seek a replacement for Colin Trevorrow, who is best known for directing Jurassic World.

The director’s departure comes less than three months after a Han Solo spin-off also lost its directors.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were replaced by Ron Howard.

Image source Wikimedia

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On September 5, a statement on the Star Wars website said: “Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX.

“Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process, but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon.”

Jack Thorne – who wrote the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – is reported to be working on the screenplay for Episode IX.

Lucasfilm has a reputation for ruthlessness when it comes to hiring and firing directors. In 2015, Fantastic Four‘s Josh Trank was dropped from directing a standalone Star Wars story.

According to Deadline, Rian Johnson, who is directing The Last Jedi (AKA Episode VIII, which is out this December), is top of the shortlist.

There are suggestions that JJ Abrams – who directed The Force Awakens (AKA Episode VII, out in 2015) – could step in.

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Video of the Year: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Artist of the Year: Ed Sheeran

Best collaboration: Zayn Malik and Taylor Swift – I Don’t Wanna Live Forever

Best New Artist: Khalid

Best Hip Hop: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Best Dance: Zedd and Alessia Cara – Stay

Best Pop: Fifth Harmany feat. Gucci Mayne – Down

VMA 2017: Kendrick Lamar Takes Home Six Prizes

Best Fight Against the System: The Hamilton Mixtape – Immigrants (We Get the Job Done), Alessia Cara – Scars to Your Beautiful, John Legend – Surefire, Logic feat Damian Lemar Hudson – Black Spiderman, Big Sean – Light, Taboo feat. Shaliene Woodley – Stand up/ Stand N Rock #NoDapl

Best Direction: Dave Meyers and The Little Homies (for Kendrick Lamar – Humble)

Best Cinematography: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Best Art Direction: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Best Choreography: Kanye West – Fade

Song of the Summer: Lil Uzi Ver – XO Tour L1if3

Best Visual Effects: Katy Perry feat. Skip Marley – Chained to the Rhythm

Best Editing: Young Thug – Wyclef Jean

Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award – Pink

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Kendrick Lamar was the biggest winner at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), taking home six prizes and opening the show with a message about police brutality.

Fellow rapper Cardi B also touched on the issue when she gave a shout-out to NFL player Colin Kaepernick who has been side-lined after protesting against racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem before games.

“As long as you kneel with us, we’re gonna be standing for you,” she said.

Taylor Swift failed to appear at the event, but debuted her comeback music video for Look What You Made Me Do.

Her video has been watched more than 12 million times on YouTube already.

Earlier this year MTV announced it was abandoning traditional male and female categories, switching to gender-neutral awards instead.

The VMAs are always a big night for pop music, but were also dominated by political statements at a fiery show in Los Angeles on August 27.

Artists spoke out against white supremacy and urged suicide awareness.

Transgender military personnel attended days after President Donald Trump signed a directive to ban them.

Heather Heyer’s mother was presented an award.

Susan Bro handed out the Fight Against the System Award, just 15 days after Heather Heyer was killed during a protest against a far-right march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Paying tribute to her daughter, she said: “I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight.”

Susan Bro was introduced by the stage by Reverend Robert Wright Lee IV, a descendant of the controversial general on the Confederate side of the US Civil War.

“We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate,” he said.

All six nominees for the award shared the prize. Somali nominee K’naan, whose cover of a Hamilton track paid tribute to the work of immigrants, wore a mock Make America Great Again written in Arabic.

Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris also spoke out against the violence in Charlottesville, calling out “Nazi white supremacist jerks”.

“We as a nation with liberty as our slogan – we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination. We must resist.”

Artists mostly avoided referring to President Trump directly, but criticized his policies and events indirectly.

Host Katy Perry, who campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election mocked Donald Trump with the new award: “Listen, guys, this is one election where the popular vote actually matters…so vote online, but hurry up, before some random Russian pop star wins!”

Musician Logic performed a powerful rendition of his song 1-800-273-8255 (named after the US suicide prevention hotline) with the lyrics: “I want you to be alive / You don’t gotta die today.”

He shared the stage with survivors of suicide attempts wearing “You are not alone” t-shirts.

Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto paid tribute to vocalists Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell who both took their own lives earlier this year.

Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel has confirmed that his US tour with Venezuela’s National Youth Orchestra has been canceled.

The star conductor said the cancelation, which came just days after President Nicolás Maduro publicly criticized him, was “heartbreaking”.

In May, Gustavo Dudamel spoke out against President Maduro’s government.

President Maduro replied: “May God forgive you for letting yourself be fooled.”

Gustavo Dudamel, 36, is the music director of both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.

He gained further fame by becoming the youngest musician to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s concert in 2017.

Gustavo Dudamel had stayed silent on the politics of his homeland until the beginning of May, when after a month of anti-government protests, he called on the government “to listen to the people”.

As the political crisis in Venezuela worsened, Gustavo Dudamel spoke out again in July, this time in opinion pieces published in the New York Times and Spanish daily El País criticizing the constituent assembly the president had convened.

Image source Wikimedia

On August 18, President Nicolas Maduro responded: “Welcome to politics, Gustavo Dudamel, but act with ethics, and don’t let yourself be deceived into attacking the architects of this beautiful movement of young boys and girls.”

The president referred to the young musicians which form part of Venezuela’s praised musical education program, El Sistema.

Nicolas Maduro also had a dig at the conductor for living abroad: “I don’t live abroad, true. None of us lives abroad, in Madrid or in Los Angeles.

“Where do we live? In Venezuela and we have to work for the Venezuelans.”

On August 21, three days after that public criticism, Venezuelan media reported that the US tour of Venezuela’s National Youth Orchestra under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel had been canceled by the president’s office.

On August 22, Gustavo Dudamel confirmed the reports on Twitter, saying: Heart-breaking cancellation of our 4-city NYOV US tour.”

No reason for the cancelation of the tour has been given so far.

Some Venezuelan media speculated that the tour was canceled “in revenge” for Gustavo Dudamel speaking out against the government but others pointed out the high cost of transporting the young musicians to the US at a time when the Venezuelan government is running low on foreign currency reserves.

President Maduro is also an outspoken critic of “the imperialist US”, which he blames for many of Venezuela’s problems.

Tensions between Venezuela and the US have risen further this month after President Trump said he did not rule out a military option in dealing with Venezuela’s crisis.

One hundred and eighty young musicians had been rehearsing for three months for the four-city US tour scheduled for September.

Jerry Lewis, one of Hollywood’s most successful comedians, has died at the age of 91, his family announced.

In a statement, Jerry Lewis’ family said he died of natural causes at his home in Las Vegas on August 20.

Jerry Lewis’s ten-year partnership with Dean Martin saw them star in 16 films and achieve huge box office success.

The comedian became the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, chalking up hits such as The Bell Boy, Cinderfella and The Nutty Professor.

Other notable successes included The King of Comedy in 1983, in which he played a talk show host stalked by Robert de Niro.

Image source Wikimedia

Fellow celebrities paid tribute as news of Jerry Lewis’ death broke. Whoopi Goldberg called it “a gain for heaven, but big loss for comedy”.

Jim Carrey, whose comedy style was strongly influenced by Jerry Lewis, said: “That fool was no dummy. Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius an unfathomable blessing, comedy’s absolute. I am because he was!”

Jimmy Kimmel wrote on Twitter: “Jerry Lewis was a genius comedian, actor, director, inventor, humanitarian.”

Jerry Lewis was born Joseph Levitch in Newark, New Jersey, to Russian-Jewish parents who were both in show business.

He started performing on stage at the age of five alongside his parents.

Jerry Lewis teamed up with Dean Martin in the late 1940s, acting the goofy sidekick to Martin’s suave persona.

Over the next 10 years they appeared in nightclubs, on TV and in movies, but their partnership ended with a bitter split.

Jerry Lewis was also the host of the long-running MDA Telethon which raised many millions of dollars for muscular dystrophy.

In 1995, he became the highest-paid star in Broadway history as Mr. Applegate in the musical Damn Yankees. He also won acclaim as a writer.

However, in his later years, Jerry Lewis courted controversy with racist and misogynistic jokes, and in 2007 he was forced to apologize after making an anti-gay slur during a telethon.

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Dick Gregory has passed away at the age of 84, his family has announced.

The comic legend and civil rights activist died at hospital in Washington DC after being admitted with an undisclosed illness.

His family shared the news of their “enormous sadness” in a post on social media on August 19.

From the 1960s, Dick Gregory mocked racism in his stand-up routines. He was among the first American black comedian to perform regularly in front of white audiences.

Image source Wikimedia

His son, Christian, wrote on Instagram: “It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC.”

He added that the family “appreciates the outpouring of support and love” but requested that their privacy be respected “during this very difficult time”.

Civil rights activist Rev Jesse Jackson paid tribute to Dick Gregory on Twitter, saying: “He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live. Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already. #RIP”

The Civil Rights Division of the United States Justice Department

Charlottesville Protests: Donald Trump Condemns Racist Violence

Dick Gregory was a no-holds-barred comedian, delivering lines in his performances that were likely to raise eyebrows.

He once said: “A Southern liberal? That’s a guy that’ll lynch you from a low tree.”

“Segregation is not all bad,” Dick Gregory said on another occasion.

“Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?”

Dick Gregory was also involved in a number of civil rights activities in the 1960s. He campaigned against the Vietnam War and his protests often involved hunger strikes.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have decided not to attend the Kennedy Center Honors to allow those taking part “to celebrate without political distraction”, the White House announces.

Some of those due to take part in the arts awards ceremony had said they would boycott the White House reception held before the awards ceremony.

The Kennedy Center Honors recognize the lifetime contributions of performing artists.

Many artists have been angered by President Trump’s plans to scrap funding.

In his budget outline in March, the president pushed for the end of federal support for public broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Donald Trump is also mired in controversy over his response to recent violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Image source Wikimedia

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Republicans and Democrats alike have criticized the president for insisting that anti-racism protesters were equally to blame for the violence that ended in the death of a woman.

The White House said in a statement: “The president and first lady have decided not to participate in this year’s [Kennedy Center Honors] activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.

First Lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”

Dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, who is due to be honored at the December ceremony, said earlier this week that she would boycott the related White House reception for honorees.

She said in a statement: “In light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our existing leadership is choosing to engage in, and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at the White House.”

Lionel Richie had also suggested he might not attend, telling the NBC’s Today: “I’m not really happy with what’s going on right now with the controversies. They’re weekly, daily, hourly.”

TV producer Norman Lear, who is to receive a lifelong artistic achievement award, also said he would not attend the White House reception.

He said: “It is more important now than ever that we stand up for artists, for artistic expression, and for the valiant fight that artists fight to reveal the wonder and oneness of the human spirit.”

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Daniel Craig has confirmed that he will come back as James Bond.

The 49-year-old actor was asked whether he will play James Bond again during his appearance on The Late Show.

“Yes,” Daniel Craig told host Stephen Colbert, before standing up to shake his hand.

Daniel Craig, who has played James Bond in the past four films, has until now refused to say whether he will do it again.

However, he revealed he has known for a “couple of months”.

“We’ve been discussing it, we’ve just been trying to figure things out,” he said.

“I always wanted to, I needed a break.”

Image source Flickr

The next Bond movie, the 25th in the series, is due out in November 2019.

Daniel Craig said it will be his last outing as James Bond.

“I just want to go out on a high note, and I can’t wait.”

The actor was still refusing to confirm speculation about it as late as yesterday.

“No decision has been made,” he told Boston radio station Magic 106.7.

“I know they’re desperate to get going and I would in theory love to do it, but there is no decision just yet.”

Daniel Craig succeeded Pierce Brosnan as James Bond and made his debut in Casino Royale in 2006.

He has since played the spy in Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).

Thousands of people have enjoyed a pop concert close to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.

The South Korean “peace concert” takes place every year near the zone which splits the Korean peninsula.

This year, it comes as North Korea is threatening to fire missiles towards the US territory of Guam, while President Donald Trump has threatened them with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”.

There are two events – the first and more popular one is a Korean pop (or K-pop) extravaganza on August 12, followed by a classical music concert on August 13.

Though they are marketed as “DMZ Concerts”, they are obviously not held within the demilitarized zone, but at a tourist spot called Nuri Peace Park in the South Korean city of Paju, north of Seoul.

The free and public event is organized by South Korean broadcaster MBC, the Ministry of Unification – which promotes and prepares for potential future reunification of the Koreas – and local authorities. The concert will be broadcast on August 15 on national TV.

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This year’s K-pop concert was taglined “Again, Peace!” and boasted top acts like Girls Generation and BTOB.

The concert is in part a celebration of National Liberation Day, a public holiday in both Koreas and a potent symbol of their shared history.

The date the show will be broadcast on TV – August 15 – marks the end of Japanese colonial rule on the Korean peninsula in 1945. The Korean War began a few years after that and ended in an armistice, so the two countries are still technically at war with each other.

The current series of concerts began in 2011, but back in 2000, South Korea tried to convince North Korea to hold a joint concert in Pyongyang as a cultural exchange. The plan fell through reportedly over a financial disagreement.

The organizers position the concerts as a way of encouraging the resolution of the Korean conflict through cultural exchange.

Korean acts are already hugely popular across Asia, and have an increasing following worldwide.

Despite their heavily controlled lives, many North Koreans are reportedly huge fans of South Korea’s music and other cultural imports such as soap operas, which are often smuggled in.

North Korean defectors have previously said that South Korean entertainment helped them learn the realities of life outside their country.

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In a video posted on her Facebook account, Sinead O’Connor has said she feels “suicidal”.

Sinead O’Connor is seen crying in the 12-minute video, which she said she was uploading in an effort to help people understand mental illness.

“I am now living in a motel in New Jersey. I’m all by myself,” the singer said.

“Mental illness, it’s like drugs, it doesn’t [care] who you are, and equally what’s worse, the stigma doesn’t care who you are.”

“There’s absolutely nobody in my life except my doctor, my psychiatrist – the sweetest man on earth, who says I’m his hero – and that’s about the only thing keeping me alive at the moment… and that’s kind of pathetic.

“I want everyone to know what it’s like, that’s why I’m making this video.”

Image source Flickr

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Sinead O’Connor criticized her family for not taking better care of her over the last two years.

“I am one of millions… people who suffer from mental illness are the most vulnerable people on earth, we can’t take care of ourselves, you’ve got to take care of us,” she said.

“My entire life is revolving around not dying, and that’s not living. And I’m not going to die, but still, this is no way for people to be living.”

Sinead O’Connor was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003, but she later said she had been misdiagnosed and actually suffered from depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ​(PTSD).

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Actor and playwright Sam Shepard has passed away at the age of 73.

Sam Shepard wrote more than 40 plays and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for Buried Child in 1979.

He went on to be nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar for 1983’s The Right Stuff and starred in movies like Black Hawk Down as well as co-writing 1984’s Paris, Texas.

Sam Shepard died at home in Kentucky on July 27, his family have confirmed.

His death came after he experienced complications from motor neuron disease, also known as ALS.

Image source Wikimedia

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Sam Shepar’s first major acting role was in Terrence Malik’s Days of Heaven in 1978, in which he starred alongside Richard Gere.

Other movie credits include Steel Magnolias, The Pelican Brief and The Accidental Husband.

More recently, Sam Shepard was seen as Robert Rayburn in two series of Netflix thriller Bloodline.

He also appears in psychological thriller Never Here, which had its premiere last month.

Sam Shepard was nominated for two other Pulitzers, for Broadway plays Fool for Love and True West. He was also nominated for two Tony Awards.

His final play was A Particle of Dread, which was first performed in New York in 2014.

Sam Shepard wrote the screenplay for Robert Altman’s big screen adaptation of his play Fool for Love. His novel, The One Inside, was published earlier this year.

A spokesman said Sam Shepard’s family was with him when he died. He is survived by children Jesse, Hannah and Walker Shepard and sisters Sandy and Roxanne Rogers.

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Chester Bennington’s funeral has taken place in California ten days after his death at the age of 41.

According to TMZ, the private service was held near Linkin Park’s singer’s home in Palos Verdes Estates.

Guests were given wristbands and access passes similar to VIP concert passes, featuring an image of Chester Bennington.

The singer’s body was found at a private home in Los Angeles on July 20. A coroner said Chester Bennington apparently hanged himself.

A stage with a drum kit was set up at the funeral.

Image source Wikimedia

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About 200 family members, friends and musicians attended the service.

Linkin Park have now become the first US band in 50 years to secure three albums in the top 10.

The band paid tribute to Chester Bennington in a statement last week.

“Our hearts are broken. The shock waves of grief and denial are still sweeping through our family as we come to grips with what has happened,” the statement read.

“You touched so many lives, maybe even more than you realized.”

Formed in 1996, Linkin Park have sold more than 70 million albums worldwide and won two Grammy Awards.

Linkin Park had a string of hits including Faint, In The End and Crawling, and collaborated with Jay-Z.

French cinema icon Jeanne Moreau has died at the age of 89.

Jeanne Moreau is best known for her role in Francois Truffaut’s 1962 new wave film Jules et Jim.

She won a number of awards including the best actress prize at Cannes for Moderato Cantabile in 1960.

Jeanne Moreau also worked with Orson Welles on several movies and won the BAFTA Award for best foreign actress for Viva Maria! in 1967.

Image source Wikimedia

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She was found dead at her home in Paris, the district’s mayor told the AFP.

Paying tribute, French President Emmanuel Macron said Jeanne Moreau had “embodied cinema” and was a free spirit who “always rebelled against the established order”.

Jeanne Moreau had a prolific career and continued acting into her 80s.

The actress’ other movie included 1961’s La Notte, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni; Luis Bunuel’s Diary of a Chambermaid (1964); and Tony Richardson’s Mademoiselle (1966).

She famously turned down Mike Nichols’ invitation to play Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, and instead reunited with Francois Truffaut for 1968’s The Bride Wore Black, an homage to Alfred Hitchcock.

Jeanne Moreau won one of France’s highest acting honors, a Cesar for best actress, for The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea in 1992.

 

Puerto Rican stars Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee have lashed out against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, accusing him of using their song, global hit Despacito, for political gains.

President Nicolas Maduro presented an altered version of the song during his weekly TV show on July 23.

The reworked lyrics promoted Nicolas Maduro’s plans for a controversial new citizen’s assembly, which will be elected on July 30 to rewrite the constitution.

The singers branded it an outrage.

Nicolas Maduro was seen clapping along to the remix, as his audience danced.

“Our call to the <Constituent Assembly> only seeks to unite the country … Despacito!” go the new lyrics.

Luis Fonsi responded angrily on social media: “At no point was I asked, nor did I authorize, the use or the change in lyrics of Despacito for political means, and much less so in the middle of the deplorable situation experienced by Venezuela, a country I love so much.

“My music is for all those who want to listen to it and enjoy it, not to be used as propaganda that tries to manipulate the will of a people who are crying out for their freedom.”

Image source YouTube

Daddy Yankee posted a picture of President Maduro with a large red cross over it on Instagram and wrote: “That you illegally appropriate a song [Despacito] does not compare with the crimes you commit and have committed in Venezuela.

“Your dictatorial regime is a joke, not only for my Venezuelan brothers, but for the entire world.”

Despacito translates as “slowly”, referring to the speed of the lead singer’s seduction technique.

However, the Venezuelan version strips back the lyrics.

Instead, the new chorus runs: “Slowly, take your vote rather than weapons, and express your ideas. Always in peace and calm.”

Introducing the new take to an audience of supporters, Nicolas Maduro said a creative group had reworked it and he wanted to put it to the test.

“What do you think, eh?” the president asked the crowd.

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Venezuela has been shaken by often violent protests in recent months, and millions joined a general strike last week.

Some 100 people have died in the unrest, which has further hammered an imploding economy that is running short of food and medicine.

The constituent assembly President Maduro wants to establish would have power to rewrite the constitution and bypass the opposition-controlled legislature.

Critics say the president is trying to cement a dictatorship. He argues it is the only way to bring peace back to the divided nation.

The original Puerto Rican version of Despacito has been a worldwide success, and a version featuring Justin Bieber recently became the most-streamed song of all time.

Another high-profile member of the governing Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, also drew on Despacito recently to score political points.

“As the song says, step by step, slowly and suavely, they [the critics] want to create a coup,” he said, according to local media.

A variety of opposition parodies have also gone viral on social media, including one called Madurito.

Another called Bien Flaquito (Very Skinny) played on Venezuela’s food shortages.

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Justin Bieber has decided to cancel the rest of his Purpose World Tour because of “unforeseen circumstances”, his publicist has announced.

The move will affect 14 dates in Asia and North America over the next three months.

Justin Bieber has performed more than 150 shows since the tour promoting his 2015 album Purpose began in March 2016.

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The tour grossed $93.2 million in the first half of 2017, with an average of almost 40,000 ticket sales per date.

Justin Bieber himself has not yet commented on the decision on social media, but unnamed sources told media the singer was “just over it”.

However, a statement on his website read: “Justin loves his fans and hates to disappoint them.

“He is grateful and honored to have shared that experience with his cast and crew for over 150 successful shows across six continents during this run.

“However, after careful consideration he has decided he will not be performing any further dates. Tickets will be refunded at point of purchase.”

Most of Justin Bieber’s remaining dates were in the US, but he was also due to play in Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.

Chinese officials said last week that Justin Bieber had been banned from mainland China because he had engaged in what they described as “bad behavior”.