Disney Tops Earnings Estimates Ahead Of Streaming Launch

 

Walt Disney Co. on Thursday reported better-than-expected quarterly results, fueled by the release of blockbuster films “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” as it prepared for its new streaming television service.

Disney profit in the recently ended quarter was $1.05 billion, down from $2.3 billion a year ago, on revenue that grew 34 percent to $19.1 billion.

The slump in profits came as Disney absorbed key film and television operations of 21st Century Fox and geared up for its launch of the streaming service Disney+ that aims to compete globally against Netflix and others.

“We’ve spent the last few years completely transforming The Walt Disney Company to focus the resources and immense creativity across the entire company on delivering an extraordinary direct-to-consumer experience,” said Disney chief executive Robert Iger.

“We’re excited for the launch of Disney+ on November 12.”

Iger said the company reached a deal for the service to be on Amazon’s Fire TV platform, the latest distribution agreement for Disney+.

Disney shares were up more than five percent in after-market trading following release of the earnings figures.

‘Lion King’ roars

Revenues in the past quarter were boosted by a 52 percent rise in Disney’s studio operations with box office hits “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4” and “Aladdin” fueling gains.

The entertainment giant expects revenue in the current quarter to be boosted by the forthcoming release of a sequel to “Frozen” and the final installment of the “Star Wars” film saga.

It will thereafter take a “hiatus” from “Star Wars” box office films but has an array of spin-off shows planned exclusively for its streaming service.

Disney has become the biggest Hollywood player with the acquisition of studio and TV assets from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

However, integrating Fox into Disney has cost more than expected and the newly added studios have brought in less money than hoped.

Disney saw smaller revenue gains in its cable and broadcasting operations as well as its theme park division.

Iger would not disclose details of pre-sales of Disney+ subscriptions, but said the price — $6.99 monthly — has met with “great enthusiasm” by consumers.

The Disney+ online streaming service will debut in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands before gradually expanding internationally in Europe then rolling out worldwide.

Its films and TV shows will be available, along with the library it acquired from 21st Century Fox. That includes the “Star Wars” and Marvel superhero franchises and ABC television content.

Disney+ will also combine offerings from powerhouse brands including Pixar, with content from Hulu and sports network ESPN.

Apple rolling

Apple last week launched a streaming television service that features a budding library of original shows starring big-name celebrities, aimed at winning over its gadget lovers at home and on the go.

The Apple TV+ on-demand streaming service launched in more than 100 countries at $4.99 per month.

Original Apple TV+ shows have so far been met with lukewarm early reviews, but the low subscription price and an offer of year-long memberships free with purchase of the company’s devices was expected to encourage viewers to tune in.

Netflix, meanwhile, has budgeted $15 billion this year for original shows, on top of the billions it has devoted to exclusive productions in recent years.

Amazon, which has deep pockets thanks to its e-commerce and cloud services, has also poured cash into original shows for its Prime Video service.

This sets up a potential spending war among the major streaming players, according to analysts.

Even more competition looms on the horizon, with AT&T’s Warner Media to launch its “HBO Max” in early 2020 after reclaiming the rights from Netflix to stream its popular television comedy “Friends.”

NBCUniversal’s Peacock service is also launching next year.

As ‘Streaming Wars’ Rage, Social Networks Create Their Own TV Series

 

Even as Disney, HBO and Apple lavish billions on content to gatecrash TV streaming wars, social networks like Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat are creating their own original shows to get their piece of the advertising pie.

Historically, these three social networks are better known for hosting user-generated content.

But in recent years, each has invested in scripted programming which is free to view — unlike the streaming giants, who charge subscriptions.

At one stage, YouTube planned to charge for shows such as “Karate Kid” spinoff “Cobra Kai” and Generation Z comedy “Liza on Demand” using its premium service. But it backtracked this year.

Free access “gives advertisers more opportunities to engage with a broader audience … and align with top Hollywood talent and YouTube creators,” the company said in May.

For YouTube, which has at times been condemned for the questionable content posted by users, offering high-quality series with production values matching conventional television also burnishes its reputation.

Quality not quantity

Mark Beal, a Rutgers professor who wrote a book (“Decoding Gen Z”) on the generation born since the mid-1990s, said young people “do not respond to traditional advertising.”

But they may be more receptive to branding tied to original content on platforms such as YouTube, he said.

Still, after its ambitious burst of content, YouTube has slowed down its original production, scrapping multiple new and existing programs to focus on a few successful shows.

Quality not quantity also appears to be Facebook’s strategy on scripted shows.

In mid-October, it released “Limetown,” a web drama starring Jessica Biel based on a popular podcast of the same name.

In addition to boosting the social network’s image with prestige content, the show helps drive its Facebook Watch video platform.

Both “Limetown” and Elizabeth Olsen-starring flagship show “Sorry for Your Loss” benefit from and drive interaction among Facebook’s nearly 2.5 billion monthly users.

“That, to me, is the most exciting part,” Michelle Purple, co-producer of “Limetown,” said at the Toronto film festival in September.

“From week to week, audiences can have their water cooler moment together and talk about what happened, and what they think is going to happen.”

“Sorry for Your Loss” tackles themes of grief, and moderators are on hand to offer online psychological support for users seeking help.

Both dramas are dark in tone and intended for older audiences, reflecting Facebook’s demographic compared to younger platforms, such as Snapchat and TikTok.

Smartphone dominance

While Snapchat also produces fictional programming to increase user interactions and time spent on its platform, it does so in its own distinctive way.

Episodes are typically only a few minutes long, shot at a frantic pace with flashy visual effects, and are filmed vertically to suit smartphone viewing.

And unlike YouTube and Facebook, Snapchat is not skimping on quantity.

In April, it announced six brand new scripted shows, followed by a further three in September, on top of those already available including sorority hacking comedy “Kappa Crypto” and supernatural mystery “The Dead Girls Detective Agency.”

Though a long way from the $15 million per episode Apple TV+ is throwing at flagship series “The Morning Show,” parent company Snap is still happy to spend up to $50,000 per episode, according to media website Digiday.

“Mobile is now the dominant medium for telling stories and consuming content,” said Snapchat original content head Sean Mills at a summit in April.

“This transformation is creating massive new opportunities.”

AFP

‘Farming’ Brought To Fruition A Vision I Carried For So Long – Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

 

British-Nigerian actor, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, has shared some of the experiences that inspired his directorial debut, ‘Farming’.

Speaking at a press conference in Lagos, the actor who said he had gone through an identity crisis as a teenager, explained that the movie was an expression of some of those struggles.

According to him, producing the movie “was very surreal, very cathartic, at times very emotional but ultimately it was like the fruition of a vision that (he) had carried for so many years”.

The movie which tells a story of a young Nigerian boy, ‘farmed out’ by his parents to a white British family with hopes of a better future, featured Genevieve Nnaji, Kate Beckinsale, Damson Idris, among others.

Adewale described them as “fantastic” saying, “I couldn’t have got a better cast”.

When asked what Nollywood can do to get international attention, he said the Nigerian film industry has so much potential to be seeking the attention of its foreign counterparts.

“The Nigerian film industry has to have its own identity,” he said.

He further explained that the industry is not lacking with talent and is rapidly expanding in terms of quality of productions.

“A lot of Nollywood was born out of a lack of resources. We were using cameras that were relatively outdated. There’s new technology and artists and filmmakers are now getting access to that and that’s definitely going to improve the quality,” he said.

Beyond that, he believes that the industry does not need to compete with others but rather continue to improve itself and tell its stories in the best ways possible.

“I don’t think you should think of it in terms of improving the quality to compete with Hollywood or anybody else.

“It is improving the quality to be able to tell our stories in the richest texture and the ways that we can and if we stick to that, who knows it may become the dominant channel,” he said.

The Beautiful Epiphany Of Johnny Drille’s Count On You

 

It isn’t a far stretch to imagine that every piece of music is an expression of love for something, whether it is money, drugs or abstract things like hate and justice.

Johnny Drille, perhaps Nigeria’s most impressive vocalist recording now, makes music that is an expression of love for love. In Johnny Drille’s world, love is as it is in a rom-com, a rollercoaster of highs and lows, heartbreak and epiphanies, grief and joy, but with a happy ending.

When it doesn’t end happily, it leaves a throbbing ache behind, of regret, of sadness, that is maybe even more beautiful than the former’s joy.

On Wednesday, Drille, who was born John Ighodaro, took to Twitter and announced that he was soon releasing “The greatest love song ever”.

He repeated the phrase in caps. When Count On You dropped on Friday, he tweeted “you can count on me to always deliver good music” and urged his fans to help promote the new single.

By Saturday morning, Count On You had racked over 100,000 views on YouTube.

Read Also: #BamTeddy Tie The Knot In Johnny Drille’s New Music Video

For an artiste who is yet to really break into the mainstream, the numbers seemed to be adding up, slowly.

Count On You is a typical Drille song: the lyrics are poetic, heavy with layered meaning; the rhythm is designed to start slow and pick up into something of a crescendo and climax; and, of course, Drille’s unique voice which caresses the ears like a stick of soft wool.

The song is another point for Drille in the imaginary race to become this country’s musical love connoisseur.

Now, on to the appearance of Bambam and Teddy in Count On You’s video, which, at first, appears to be a stroke of marketing genius. But it is more than that. Drille is also tapping into the strange chemistry of one of the most unexpected public love stories in 2019.

No one gave the duo a chance, after their Big Brother sultry rendezvous. “Nobody thought we’d ever come this far,” Drille crooned.

The BamBam and Teddy romance is a vivacious rejection of Nigeria’s conservative idea on how marital love develops and Drille appears to agree with their story of lasting love. “Baby this is day one of forever,” he sang.

Count On You is a beautiful work of art, if not for its realism, but for its evocation of a world where love triumphs over everything, including societal expectations. It is an ode to the power of trust and vulnerability in a world low on faith.

 

Netflix, Apple Cross Swords In Indian Streaming Market

 

 

Competition in India’s booming streaming market is heating up as Netflix joins forces with a director of Bollywood feel-good blockbusters and Apple launches its TV platform for 99 rupees ($1.39) a month.

Netflix announced late Wednesday a long-term partnership with Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment to make a range of new fiction and non-fiction series and films for the platform.

Johar has directed eight films including “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, and “Raazi”, nominated for best picture at next week’s Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, dubbed the Bollywood Oscars.

“It’s going to be P.H.A.T — pretty hot and tempting,” said Johar, whose Dharma Entertainment is one of India’s biggest production firms and which already teamed up with Netflix for the successful “Lust Stories” anthology.

READ ALSO: Rihanna Stages Savage X Fenty Show At New York Fashion Week

Netflix launched in India in 2016 and two of its Indian-made series have won critical acclaim — “Sacred Games” starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and “Leila” with Huma Qureishi.

But Netflix faces stiff competition in Asia’s third-largest economy as Amazon’s Prime Video, Disney’s Hotstar, Alt Balaji and other local platforms jostle for digital subscriptions and eyeballs.

US technology giant Apple on Wednesday announced the launch of its streaming platform Apple TV+ in India, hoping to upend competition.

Netflix is available in India from 199 rupees a month and as millions of first-time users access internet in Asia’s third-largest economy, analysts expect competition to intensify.

India’s video-streaming industry is expected to grow at nearly 22 percent per annum to 119 billion rupees ($1.7 billion) by 2023 according to consultancy PwC, Bloomberg News reported.

Netflix chief Reed Hastings has said the company’s goal is 100 million customers in India — almost 25 times its estimated subscriber base there as of this year, Bloomberg said.

Rapper Nicki Minaj Announces Retirement

In this file photo taken on May 06, 2019 US rapper Nicki Minaj arrives for the 2019 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. ANGELA WEISS / AFP

 

Rap queen Nicki Minaj on Thursday shocked fans by announcing her retirement from music, saying she was going to focus on family.

The provocative 36-year-old known for hits like “Super Bass” is engaged to music executive Kenneth Petty, and she recently said a wedding is in the cards in the coming months.

“I’ve decided to retire & have my family,” tweeted the wildly successful rapper raised in the New York borough of Queens.

“I know you guys are happy now,” she continued. “To my fans, keep reppin me, do it til da death of me, X in the box – cuz ain’t nobody checkin me.”

“Love you for LIFE.”

The surprising news fueled pregnancy rumors that had already been swirling since June after she appeared on a late-night television show and opted against drinking.

She went Instagram-official with her partner Petty in December 2018, after rebooting the relationship decades after they were involved as teenagers.

The rekindled romance raised eyebrows considering Petty’s criminal past: he is a registered sex offender in New York and was convicted in 1995 of attempted rape.

Minaj dismissed criticism of her new relationship, saying “He was 15, she was 16 … in a relationship. But go awf Internet. Y’all can’t run my life. Y’all can’t even run y’all own life. Thank you boo.”

– ‘Walking exaggeration’ –
Minaj’s profanity-laced lyrics, skin-baring music videos and unique, animated flow first catapulted her to fame in 2010.

Known for her bold sartorial style that includes neon costumes and wigs, Minaj — whose hits include “Starships,” “Bang Bang” and “Anaconda” — is considered one of rap’s most influential female artists.

The Grammy-nominated artist born in Trinidad and Tobago cites Foxy Brown and Jay-Z as major inspirations, and has crafted a lightning-speed sound distinctive for her use of alter egos and accents, especially British cockney.

She’s “a sparkling rapper with a gift for comic accents and unexpected turns of phrase,” wrote a New York Times critic in 2018. “She’s a walking exaggeration, outsize in sound, personality and look.”

“And she’s a rapid evolver, discarding old modes as easily as adopting new ones.”

Her brash personality and penchant for controversy also made Minaj a tabloid regular, especially for a feud at a Fashion Week 2018 after party that saw rap rival Cardi B throw a shoe and allegedly attempt to fight Minaj.

Cardi B later said Minaj had dissed her aptitude as a mother.

The rap queen’s retirement announcement was a particularly surprising turn of events as Minaj has been quite active in music this summer

Last month, she appeared in rising star Megan Thee Stallion’s song “Hot Girl Summer.”

In June 2019, she released a single entitled “Megatron” and said she had a new studio album in the works, which would be her fifth.

But Minaj is no stranger to spectacle, and some fans wondered on social media whether her retirement announcement was but a marketing strategy ahead of an album drop.

“Nicki minaj is deadass lying watch her drop a whole new album featuring Rihanna,” tweeted one user.

‘Angel Has Fallen’ Rises To Top Of N.American Box Office

 

 

Lionsgate’s new action-packed political thriller “Angel Has Fallen” debuted atop the North American box office with an estimated $21.3 million in ticket sales, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

“Angel,” which stars Gerard Butler playing a Secret Service agent wrongly accused of trying to kill the president (Morgan Freeman), is the third film in the franchise. It also stars Nick Nolte, Piper Perabo and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Last weekend’s leader, Universal’s raunchy tween comedy “Good Boys,” slipped to $11 million but managed to hold onto second spot on a sleepy late-summer weekend.

In third place was another new release, Sony’s “Overcomer,” a Christian-themed movie about a former basketball coach (Alex Kendrick) who agrees half-heartedly to help prepare a young asthmatic orphan girl (Aryn Wright-Thompson) for a huge cross-country meet.

It took in $8.2 million despite tepid reviews.

Just behind in fourth place was Disney’s updated version of “The Lion King,” which pulled in $8.15 million, bringing its domestic total over six weeks in release to $510.6 million and its global total to more than $1.5 billion.

Universal’s action film “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham came in fifth, taking in $8.1 million.

Rounding out the weekend’s top 10 were:

“Ready or Not” ($7.6 million)

“The Angry Birds Movie 2” ($6.4 million)

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” ($6 million)

“Dora & the Lost City of Gold” ($5.2 million)

“Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood” ($5 million)

R. Kelly Pleads Not Guilty To Sex Trafficking Charges In New York

In this file photo taken on June 6, 2019 Singer R. Kelly arrives for a court hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago. KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP

 

R&B singer R. Kelly pleaded not guilty on Friday in a New York court to federal charges including racketeering that allege he systematically recruited girls for sex while touring.

The disgraced superstar — who for decades has faced sexual abuse accusations — was brought to the Brooklyn courthouse from Chicago, where he was being held without bond on separate federal charges linked to child pornography.

“Yes sir,” was all Kelly, dressed in blue prison scrubs, said during the arraignment, when asked by the judge whether he understood the charges against him.

His two girlfriends and some family members were in court, along with around a dozen fans.

One wore a t-shirt that had “Free R Kelly” written on the front and “Unmute R Kelly” on the back. A couple had also made crowns with his image on it and the words “Justice 4 R Kelly”

The New York indictment unsealed last month says Kelly, 52, would regularly issue wristbands to girls via his associates that granted them backstage access and face time with the musician known for hits like “I Believe I Can Fly.”

Kelly would tell members of his entourage to obtain contact information from girls he wished to see again, the charges read, some of whom were invited to later concerts and provided with lodging.

Girls were to call Kelly “Daddy” and stay inside their rooms without permission from the singer to leave, even to eat or use the restroom, according to court documents.

The New York case involves five unidentified women, three of whom were minors at the time of the alleged crimes, which include coercing sexual activity.

He is also accused of kidnapping one of the victims, and exposing another to a venereal disease without her knowledge.

Kelly, whose given name is Robert Kelly, additionally faces charges of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines for purposes of prostitution.

‘Extreme danger’

Following the arraignment in New York, Kelly is expected to be taken back to Chicago, where he is being held on suspicion of having sex with five underage girls, recording some of it, and then attempting to hide the evidence.

Kelly must attend a status hearing in the Midwestern city on September 4, having pleaded not guilty to that 13-count indictment.

Last month, he was denied bond after prosecutors described him as “an extreme danger to the community, especially to minor girls,” arguing that neither house arrest nor electronic monitoring would suffice.

Prior to his arrest in July over the federal indictment, Kelly had been out on bond in connection with state felony charges of aggravated sexual assault in Chicago’s Cook County criminal court.

Kelly has a decades-long history of abuse allegations, especially of underage girls.

In 1994, he wed his protegee Aaliyah, the late R&B star who was 15 at the time.

After a dramatic trial, Kelly was acquitted in 2008 of child pornography charges, also in Chicago.

Despite the slew of disturbing claims against him, the award-winning musician continued to perform for years and maintained a solid fan base.

But he began facing renewed scrutiny earlier this year upon the release of the docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which nabbed an Emmy nomination for outstanding informational series or special.

AFP

‘Game Of Thrones’ And Netflix Tipped To Sweep Emmy Nominations

 

 

“Game of Thrones” and Netflix are tipped by TV industry watchers to dominate Tuesday’s Emmy nominations as Hollywood gears up for awards season.

The Television Academy’s 24,000 members sifted through a record number of entries for this year’s Emmys, the small-screen equivalent of the Oscars.

After nominations are announced final-round voting will begin to pick winners who will be revealed at a glitzy Los Angeles show on September 22.

Here are five things to look out for:

‘Game of Thrones’

“Game of Thrones” enraged fans with its final season, but experts still expect the HBO fantasy epic to reign over Emmy nominations one last time.

“Thrones” is the most decorated fictional show in the awards’ seven-decade history, with 128 nominations and 47 wins.

The last six episodes dominated water-cooler chat and settled the question of who would sit on the Iron Throne — sort of — but the flood of social media anguish over its unsatisfying conclusion almost broke the internet.

Still, voters could pick the show out of “nostalgia” and because “they want to pay respect for the impact it’s had on TV overall,” said Indiewire TV critic Ben Travers.

“But it also could be a lack of options,” he added.

Major absentees

The Emmys only recognize shows that were on in the 12 months to May 31.

That means several big hitters are absent from main categories this year, including Hulu’s former drama series winner “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“Big Little Lies” and “Stranger Things” also just missed the cut-off — something which may not be accidental.

“Some of the more prominent shows got out of the way fearing ‘Game of Thrones’ just dominating everything, and not wanting to go head to head with it,” said Travers.

Comedy reigns

Pundits say the comedy and limited series categories are vastly stronger this year.

In comedy, White House satire “Veep” — another departing HBO awards juggernaut — faces stiff competition from last year’s winner “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amazon’s story of a 1950s housewife-turned-stand up comic.

Dark hitman comedy “Barry” is also expected to challenge its HBO stablemate.

In limited series, Showtime has vigorously promoted Ben Stiller’s “Escape at Dannemora,” in which two real-life convicts escape a New York prison by seducing a female employee.

“When They See Us,” Netflix’s true story of five men wrongly accused of raping a Central Park jogger, is also likely to line up, alongside acclaimed HBO drama “Chernobyl.”

Netflix v HBO

The two giants are set to renew their battle for overall Emmy supremacy, after Netflix overtook HBO last year in the nomination count to end its rival’s 17-year reign.

Web streamer Netflix secured a whopping 112 nods last time around, edging out HBO’s 108.

“The sheer amount of programming that Netflix submits at the Emmys is daunting,” said Travers. “They have so much more than anybody else to put on the ballot.”

While Netflix also benefits from the exposure that comes with its huge subscriber base, HBO has vast experience mounting campaigns for its prestige offerings — and could ultimately garner more wins.

Star quality

As movie stars continue to switch to TV, A-listers will be plentiful.

Amazon is eyeing a strong year with its Julia Roberts-powered thriller “Homecoming,” in addition to “Maisel” and irreverent British comedy “Fleabag.”

“Catch-22” leads Hulu’s charge thanks to George Clooney, while in comedy Jim Carrey (“Kidding”) and Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”) are tipped for acting nods.

AFP 

R Kelly Arrested On Child Pornography Charges

In this file photo taken on June 6, 2019 Singer R. Kelly arrives for a court hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago. KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP

 

R. Kelly has been arrested on child pornography and other charges, the New York Times reported, in the latest criminal investigation into the R&B superstar dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct.

The 52-year-old, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, was taken into custody by federal agents in Chicago late Thursday, the newspaper said.

Federal prosecutors have issued a 13-count indictment against the singer, which also includes enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice charges, assistant US attorney Joseph Fitzpatrick told the Times.

Kelly has a decades-long history of abuse allegations, especially of underage girls, and was acquitted in a child porn trial over a decade ago.

READ ALSO: Rapper Jay-Z Joins Cannabis Business

In 1994 he wed his protege Aaliyah, the late R&B star who was 15 at the time.

Kelly, then 27, had produced the teenage singer’s debut album titled “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.” Their marriage was later annulled, and Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.

Despite unsettling claims against him, the decorated musician — known for hits including “I Believe I Can Fly” — has continued to perform and maintain a solid fan base.

But his fortunes began to shift after the January release of a six-part documentary called “Surviving R. Kelly.”

The documentary, which alleged that Kelly engaged in sexual, mental and physical abuse of girls and women, prompted Chicago prosecutors to publicly seek out potential victims.

Prior to Thursday’s arrest, Kelly was on bail for a slate of charges in Chicago, including five felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault.

He spent three nights behind bars and was released after coming up with $100,000, 10 percent of the $1 million bail set in court.

The sex acts are alleged to have occurred between May 1998 and January 2010, according to prosecutors.

If convicted of the most serious charges in that case, Kelly would face mandatory sentences of six to 30 years in prison on each count.

In a March interview, Kelly vehemently denied the charges and said he was “fighting” for his life.

“I didn’t do this stuff,” he told CBS News.

“Whether they’re old rumors, new rumors, future rumors, not true,” added Kelly, who became upset and emotional during the interview.

He denied a report by BuzzFeed in 2017 that said he had kept women as virtual sex slaves at homes he owns in Chicago and Atlanta.

Kelly was also briefly detained in March for failing to pay $161,000 in child support payments he owed to his ex-wife and their three children.

AFP

Stevie Wonder To Have A Kidney Transplant

Stevie Wonder will be undergoing kidney surgery in September.  ANGELA WEISS / AFP

 

Legendary musician Stevie Wonder has announced that he will be taking a break from music to have a kidney transplant.

The multiple-Grammy award winning artist informed fans about his health challenges during his performance at British Summer Time Hyde Park.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Nollywood Reels In Foreign Investors

“What is going to happen is this; I am going to have surgery. I am going to have a kidney transplant in September of this year,” he told fans.

The fans, who fell silent upon hearing the news, quickly started cheering the 69-year-old and cheered even louder when he announced that he had already found a donor.

He added, “I want you to know I came here to give you my love and to thank you for your love. You ain’t gotta hear no rumours about nothing, I told you what’s up. I’m good. All right?”

Wonder is one of the most successful artists of all time. Since he broke onto the music scene in the 60s, he has sold more than 100 million records and won 25 Grammys.

Selena Gomez Says Social Media ‘Terrible’ For Her Generation

 

US pop singer-turned-actress Selena Gomez warned Wednesday that social media had been “terrible” for her generation but said she tried to set a good example for her 150 million followers on Instagram.

Speaking after her politically-charged zombie flick, Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die”, opened the Cannes film festival, Gomez said the platforms that helped make her famous were destructive in the wrong hands.

“I think that our world is going through a lot obviously. What Jim (Jarmusch) gestured to in the film is that social media has really been terrible for my generation,” Gomez, 26, told a news conference.

Her comments came as a Malaysian teenager took her own life after posting an Instagram poll asking if she should live or die.

The 16-year-old from Kuching in eastern Sarawak state died after posting the poll Monday on the Facebook-owned platform.

Gomez, who has been mobbed by autograph hunters in Cannes and dominated photo spreads from opening night on Tuesday, also warned about the fake news rampant on social media.

“I understand that it’s amazing to use your platform but it does scare me when you see how exposed these young girls and young boys are,” she said.

“They are not aware of the news. I think it’s dangerous for sure if people aren’t getting the right information sometimes.”

‘It scares me’

Gomez said pervasive internet bullying “scares” her and left many young people “devastated”.

In light of her own massive social media presence, Gomez was asked what celebrities and tech industry giants could do to make the online world less toxic.

She set out a bleak picture.

“I think it’s pretty impossible to make it safe at this point. There’s no blocking anything, they’re exposed to it immediately,” she said at the news conference with her co-stars Bill Murray, Chloe Sevigny and Tilda Swinton.

Gomez said she was “grateful” to “have a platform” and tried to use it to “share things that I’m really passionate about”.

“I also don’t do a lot of pointless pictures. I like to be intentional with it,” she said.

On her own internet use, Gomez said less was more.

“It can be great in moments but I would just be careful and allow yourself some time limits when you use it and when you shouldn’t.”

‘Commodity Fetishism’

Jarmusch’s film, a tribute to the George Romero monster movies of the 1960s and 70s, depicts a small town in Trump-era America facing an infestation of flesh-eating zombies, including one played by Jarmusch’s friend Iggy Pop.

The siege is triggered by polar fracking which scientists say has “knocked the Earth off its axis”, even as the government’s energy secretary and large gas corporations insist it’s safe.

Gomez plays a “big city hipster” visiting the town who falls victim to an ambush of zombies, who moan for the creature comforts they craved in life like wifi, Xanax and chardonnay wine.

Jarmusch, 66, is a Cannes favourite who has premiered hits such as “Broken Flowers”, “Only Lovers Left Alive” and “Paterson” at the festival.

He said he was using the zombie metaphor in his new movie to take aim at “the whole culture of commodity fetishism” as well as climate change denial.

“Watching nature decline at unprecedented rates in history is for me terrifying and concerning,” Jarmusch said.

He said despite the film’s grim message, the fervour of young climate activists gave him grounds for hope.

“We do have people that are concerned with it and are making it their focus, mostly younger people — there is optimism for sure but it’s just the timeframe is speeding up very quickly,” he said.

Murray, 68, waxed philosophical about movie acting as the seas rise and the planet overheats.

“When I’m not working, I’m lazy…. I’m a better person when I’m working on a film,” he said.

“This is my little ice floe that I stand on and I hope it doesn’t melt.”