Showing posts with label Celebrities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Celebrities. Show all posts

15 December 2020

MasterClass Announces Salman Rushdie to Teach Storytelling and Writing [Trailer Included]

MasterClass Announces Salman Rushdie to Teach Storytelling and Writing
Salman Rushdie (Courtesy of MasterClass)
MasterClass announced today that Booker Prize–winning author Salman Rushdie will teach a class on storytelling and writing. Drawing from his celebrated career as a novelist and essayist, Rushdie will help members explore their innate storytelling ability to write and tell the stories they are meant to tell.
"Salman's prose is magical; his storytelling, worldly," said David Rogier, founder and CEO of MasterClass. "In his MasterClass, Salman discusses the seminal works that have influenced him, providing all writers—even those just starting to put pen to paper—lessons in how to harness the power of words."
In his MasterClass, Rushdie will share his storytelling framework, which is equal parts discipline and freedom, from how to build rich and complex story structures to crafting characters, researching and editing, providing a wealth of examples and insights from the global literature that has influenced his work. 

In addition to offering big-picture advice and his seven useful tips to becoming a better reader and writer, Rushdie will offer valuable insights on the psychological aspects of writing, including navigating writer's block, negotiating feedback with editors and more. 

Through intimate stories of the struggle and learnings from Rushdie's early career, members will get an insider's look into his journey, leaving the class inspired by his wisdom and eager to write their own unique stories.

MasterClass Announces Salman Rushdie to Teach Storytelling and Writing
Salman Rushdie (Courtesy of MasterClass)
"I've always been fascinated with the universality of storytelling and how shared human experiences unite us all, no matter where we are in the world," Rushdie said. "In my MasterClass, I hope I can help members transition to the other side of the page and reach new heights creatively with their writing."
Rushdie is an award-winning novelist, essayist, fiction and nonfiction writer known for his humorous and often-surrealist style. Rushdie's work examines themes of movement across cultures, modernity and the influence of world events on individuals' lives. 

His second novel, Midnight's Children, was a commercial and critical success, earning the esteemed Booker Prize in 1981, as well as the "Best of the Booker" prize twice in the years following. In 1983, his third novel, Shame, won the French literary prize Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, cementing Rushdie's place among the literary elite.

Over the course of his career, Rushdie has published 14 novels that have been translated into more than 40 languages. He has been internationally recognized with many of literature's highest honors, and in 2007, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the literary world. Some of his top accolades include the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature, the Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy), the Writer of the Year Award in Germany, PEN Pinter Prize (U.K.), Golden PEN Award, Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award, and Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Cultural Humanism.

The Trailer:

  • Rushdie's class is now available exclusively on MasterClass, where subscribers get unlimited access to all 100+ instructors with an annual membership.

Follow MasterClass:

Follow Salman Rushdie:

SOURCE: MasterClass

10 December 2020

David Hasselhoff Goes Metal With Two Man Music Project CueStack [Music Video Included]

David Hasselhoff Goes Metal With Two Man Music Project CueStack
'Through the Night' - Single Cover
The metal debut of David Hasselhoff has been released today!

After announcing this collaboration to the world at the end of October, CueStack finally published the song and music video of 'Through the Night' featuring David Hasselhoff on vocals. 

Background Story:

'Through The Night' is a project that came to fruition after David openly expressed his interest in heavy music and big appreciation for his fanbase within that genre. His legendary performance at the Austrian Nova Rock festival showed the promise of something very special happening when these two worlds would finally collide.

As life-long David Hasselhoff fans, CueStack (Martin Kames, Bernth Brodträger) developed the vision for this unique project in 2018. After months of planning, meetings, songwriting and sketching out different ideas, they invited David to join them for a music- and video recording session in Vienna. Both the song and music video were recorded in April 2019 and David went back to California as CueStack and their team put together this vision during the following months.

After Martin contacted and briefed David, working tirelessly on creating an efficient schedule to pull all of this off on just one day, Bernth got to work on different demos and ideas for the song itself. 'Through The Night' was an idea for a song that Bernth wrote on the very first day of gathering material for the project. It already resembled the final result quite a bit but in regular CueStack fashion, many additional songs were created, exploring different artistic possibilities. Martin and Bernth eventually settled on the very first idea and demo and showed it to David.

David Hasselhoff Goes Metal With Two Man Music Project CueStack
CueStack & David Hasselhoff.
David liked the song right away but wasn't fond of the first set of lyrics. The song originally told the story of a lone wanderer in a dystopian future scenario, with intentions of capturing the entire journey in the music video, turning it into an epic short film. Without the images and story of the video in mind, the lyrics were too abstract for David's taste. So Bernth started from scratch to create the final lyrics, keeping only the original chorus. 'Through The Night' is now about pushing through dark times with hope and courage, fighting your way towards the light at the ending of the tunnel. This resonated with David immediately and still made it possible to work in themes of darkness and struggle into the lyrics, while keeping the focus on a positive message.
Due to the very limited timeframe of the music video shooting, CueStack turned the multiple basic sets into impressive, surreal and dystopian digital worlds afterwards. Bernth's background and previous experience as a graphic designer came in very handy for creating the digital sets, while Martin handled the extensive cutting process, editing and post-production of the final music video. With this quickly evolving workflow, they could turn those basic two-dimensional sets into vivid images and futuristic landscapes that further express the atmosphere and sound of the song.

After hundreds of phone calls made by Martin (including canceled video shoots, canceled recording dates, constantly changing crew/staff for the project, declined proposals, and much more) and many different songs, lyrics and pre-productions recorded by Bernth, the project finally came to fruition!

CueStack feat. David Hasselhoff – Through the Night (Official Music Video):

The collaboration started in 2018 and what seemed like an impossible idea slowly turned into a reality. The ultimate goal was to create a metal project with the most-watched man on TV, showing the world his heavy side. David recorded the track with CueStack in 2019 in Vienna where they also shot this epic music video together. CueStack conjured up a dystopian Sci-Fi world in the music video for 'Through the Night', continuing the cinematic style that was established with this year's first single 'Transhuman Generation'.

CueStack – Transhuman Generation (Official Music Video):

  • Another very well know special guest on this EP is Caleb Shomo, the singer and mastermind of the band 'Beartooth' who produced a retro synthwave remix of 'Through the Night'.

About CueStack:

The first full-length CueStack album 'Diagnosis:Human' will be released in 2021.

When the worlds of eccentric lighting / VFX designer Martin Kames and shred guitar content creator Bernth Brodträger collide, explosive music and art manifest in the form of CueStack. An unmistakable blend of metal and electronic music with well established sonic trademarks is the result, paired with an industrial, dystopian corporate identity that is ever-present in the band's cinematic music videos and artworks.

David Hasselhoff Goes Metal With Two Man Music Project CueStack
Martin Kames, David Hasselhoff, Bernth Brodträger

CueStack feat. David Hasselhoff – Through the Night is available on:

Fans of this unique collaboration can also get the extended 'Through the Night' Box Set: a Digipak CD featuring Caleb Shomo's (Beartooth) synthwave remix, as well as an unplugged version and 2 CueStack songs. 

The Box Set also contains a unique poster, gym bag, autograph card and baseball cap.

24 November 2020

Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits [Videos Included]

Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits
This holiday season, musical legends Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra are returning in animated form with first-ever official music videos from UMe for some of the most iconic and beloved songs in the Christmas canon.
This holiday season, musical legends Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra are returning in animated form with first-ever official music videos from UMe for some of the most iconic and beloved songs in the Christmas canon. In the beautifully hand drawn and painted videos created by Fantoons Animation Studios, Crosby brings joy to a down in the dumps town with his trusty Bing-O-Matic in "Winter Wonderland" and croons over a multigenerational military family's holiday gatherings in "White Christmas," guitar-clad Berry helps Santa with his Christmas rounds in vintage comic book style in "Run Rudolph Run," Fitzgerald and Frosty delight in a winter wonderland storybook setting in "Frosty The Snowman" and Sinatra delivers mid-century style, glitz and grace as only he can in the holiday classics, "The Christmas Waltz" and "Mistletoe and Holly."
"UMe is incredibly honored and excited to partner with these legendary artists and estates to celebrate their iconic holiday songs and give them official videos," says Bruce Resnikoff, President and CEO of UMe, the global catalog company of UMG. "Last year was the first time we created holiday videos and we had such a tremendous response that we've gone all in again this year and our content team and Fantoons have really outdone themselves. These songs are some of the most popular year to year and we hope these videos brighten up fans holidays as well as attract new audiences across the digital platforms they inhabit. Similar to before, the video assets and creative will be deployed across UMe's holiday marketing and advertising campaigns for a cohesive look and feel and to achieve greater engagement across a broader audience."
Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits
Bing Crosby - "White Christmas" (screengrab)

Mary Crosby of The Bing Crosby Estate:

"Keeping dad's spirit alive, especially during the holidays, is not only of huge importance to us as a family, but to everyone. During these trying times his voice gives hope and comfort to all of us. I am thrilled that there is another way dad is being seen and heard. I love the videos Universal came up with and, of course, love his music! Dad believed supporting the troops was one of the most important contributions that he made in his life. When he was asked about his career it wasn't his awards or the fame that came his way, it was that 'in some small way, if he made the life of a soldier a little bit easier then, that was what mattered. The video for 'White Christmas' is a wonderful tribute to his love and appreciation for the troops."
Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits
Chuck Berry - "Run Rudolph Run" (screengrab)

Charles Berry Jr. of The Chuck Berry Estate:

"What an honor to have 'Run Rudolph Run' given such a dazzling visualization as its first music video! The marriage of animation and music could not be better – you can't beat flying reindeer, Santa Claus and electric guitar! My dad always told stories in his songs and his poetic skills are on full display here. The lyrics tell a Christmas story that young and old can't help but enjoy. Fun, frolicking and certainly perfect for the season, it was a holiday favorite in our house and we hope this video for a timeless Chuck Berry song brings joy and helps people get in the spirit this holiday season."
Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits
Ella Fitzgerald - "Frosty The Snowman" (screengrab)

Richard Rosman & Fran Morris Rosman of The Ella Fitzgerald Foundation:

"Since it was released 60 years ago, Ella Fitzgerald's Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas has remained a perennial and beloved standard for the holidays, livening up countless festivities and family gatherings with its joyful and jazzy takes on Christmas classics, including the swinging 'Frosty The Snowman. The Ella Fitzgerald Estate is thrilled to partner with UMe to bring Ella and Frosty to colorful life in this fantastic, beautifully animated video and hope that both Ella's fans and the new generations just discovering her music will love it. What a wonderful gift for the song and album to receive as it celebrates its 60th anniversary!"
Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits
Frank Sinatra - "The Christmas Waltz" (screengrab)

Nancy Sinatra of Frank Sinatra Enterprises:
"I really think he might be the voice of Christmas. I just think that the sentimentality of my dad's recordings is what grabs people. He was emotional when he sang them, and people are emotional when they hear them. That doesn't really change."

The Videos:

These videos are just some of the many ways that UMe is celebrating its unmatched Christmas catalog and helping to turn up the joy this holiday season. In addition to the new animated videos, a variety of "Christmas With…" collections for artists including The Beach Boys, Bing Crosby, Brenda Lee, Burl Ives, Chuck Berry, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5 and Nat King Cole are available to stream on your favorite DSP and there's of course the annual Christmas Music playlist which features some of the most popular songs and artists across the holiday music canon, pairing timeless classics with contemporary favorites. 

For those looking for more holiday entertainment, The Ed Sullivan Show's official YouTube channel is celebrating the season with a music-and laughter-filled holiday playlist. Classics include "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby, "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" by Gene Autry, "Jingle Bells" by Paul Anka, and more. Festive fun lights up things with "Mrs. Claus Interview" by Stiller & Meara, "Deck The Halls" by the Baird Puppets and holiday cheer with The Muppets.


23 November 2020

Chloe Flower Brings a Touch of Hollywood Glam In New Holiday Music Video "Carol Of The Bells" [Video Included]

Chloe Flower Brings a Touch of Hollywood Glam In New Holiday Music Video "Carol Of The Bells"
Chloe Flower (Credit Deb Tam)
After giving the holiday classic "Carol Of The Bells" an eloquent twist on her latest single, dynamic pianist, producer, and activist Chloe Flower today unveils the music video for the track, which was co-written and co-produced alongside Grammy Award-winning icon Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds
  • Once again, Chloe teams up with Asian-American female director Deb Tam who shot the music video on film.
"Carol of the Bells" delivers a cinematic visual that evokes old Hollywood glamour as it switches from black-and-white to color vignettes. Taking place in the iconic Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn with Great Gatsby glee and high-fashion elegance, Chloe performs with palpable passion at a Steinway & Sons piano as a choir carries the heavenly chorus and ballroom dancers joyfully launch stunning routines. 

The Video:

"My inspiration for 'Carol of the Bells' was to bring the joy of music and dance to everyone this holiday season," says Chloe Flower. "With this video, I set out to create a dream world where everyone can escape this difficult time and celebrate the spirit of Christmas, no matter where you are. The director's exquisite old Hollywood vision came to life by intersecting fashion, choreography and piano, bringing glamour to instrumental music."
Styled by Colin LoCasscio, Chloe's wardrobe proves almost as impressive as her playing as she's spotted in Liberace's ornate white coat, graciously on loan from The Liberace Foundation, The Blonds' shimmering gold mini, Alessandra Rich and Stina Randestad couture, as well as vintage Gucci. 
The pianist also worked with James Alonzo for choreography and Jackson Hallberg on art direction. 

Chloe Flower Brings a Touch of Hollywood Glam In New Holiday Music Video "Carol Of The Bells"
Chloe Flower - "Carol of the Bells" (Single Front Cover)
Earlier this year, Chloe released her original single "Flower Through Concrete." Garnering critical acclaim, The Coveteur profiled her extensively and proclaimed, "Chloe Flower is changing the music industry." Cosmopolitan also states that "Chloe will smash whatever you think you know about classical music and look fire doing it."

The instrumental ballade, "Flower Through Concrete" follows Chloe's 2019 release of "No Limit," her solo piano cover of the viral hit "Old Town Road" as well as her chart-topping single debut, "Get What U Get." Chloe's musical style is ever-growing and has cultivated her into a multi-genre artist. "I'm so inspired by pop and classical music that when I create songs, I naturally incorporate classical ideas within a pop music structure," notes Chloe. With an album set for first half of 2021, Chloe plans to continue her hybrid blend of classical and pop music making a genre all her own, "Popsical."

Continuing her mission of bringing classical music to the masses, Chloe appeared as the centerpiece at this year's Roots X BOY MEETS GIRL New York Fashion Week event and at 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist and Runner-Up, Danielle Frankel's runway show with Vogue stating Chloe's performance was a "funky, energetic spectacle." She performed alongside Cardi B at the 2019 GRAMMY Awards, which exploded on social media and garnered over 9 million impressions and unanimous media praise. Her high-energy and high-fashion performance style has garnered attention of everyone from Pitchfork to Harper's Bazaar with Cosmopolitan stating "Chloe Flower will smash whatever you think you know about classical music, and look fire doing it." The superstar pianist also has received praise from The FADER, Entertainment Tonight, People, TIME and countless others.

Chloe Flower Brings a Touch of Hollywood Glam In New Holiday Music Video "Carol Of The Bells"
Chloe Flower (Credit Rob Berry)

About Chloe Flower:

The Pennsylvania native developed an appreciation for classical early on. By the age of two, Chloe would sit on phone books and play the piano. At 12, she went on to study at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music Pre-College under Zenon Fishbein and later with Herbert Stessin of The Juilliard School. She continued her education at The Royal Academy of Music London, where she experienced a life-changing revelation while playing Bach and listening to hip-hop at the same time. She decided to blend the two together and quickly realized that "hip-hop beats and classical music sound really cool together."

In 2010, she serendipitously met industry icon Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds and landed a deal with his label imprint SODAPOP/Island Def Jam. Soon, she found herself in the studio working alongside the legend and co-producing "Lullaby" for Céline Dion. Swizz Beatz caught a set and invited her to contribute to Nas's 2012 chart-topper Life Is Good. As a result, she was featured prominently on record highlight "A Queens Story." More recently, she teamed up with Mike WiLL Made-It, co-producing 2 Chainz for "Poor Fool" from 2017's Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. Later that year, she also unveiled a holiday single entitled "Drummer Boy" alongside Questlove and Babyface in addition to other solo compositions. In 2018, she co-produced Swae Lee's "Christmas at Swae's."
  • Beyond writing and performing, Chloe stands out as an active philanthropist, working with the United Nations as a UNODC Artist Ambassador, combating human trafficking and supporting music education globally with a variety of charities. Most notably in her role as a Music Education Ambassador for the Liberace Foundation.

Connect With Chloe Flower:


3 November 2020

The Johnny Depp Libel Trial Explained


The Johnny Depp Libel Trial Explained
Reputational damage: actor Johnny Depp. (Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images)

On November 2 2020, London’s High Court handed down its hotly anticipated judgment in the high-profile libel case brought by Hollywood actor Johnny Depp over a newspaper article which labelled him a “wife-beater”. In his 585-paragraph ruling the presiding judge, Mr Justice Nicol, dismissed the actor’s claim, holding in essence that the words used in The Sun’s report were legally acceptable.

Depp brought a libel action against The Sun’s publisher (and the newspaper’s executive editor Dan Wootton) in respect of an 2018 article which was first published online under the headline: “GONE POTTY: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?” The story asserted that Depp was violent towards his ex-wife Amber Heard during their relationship.

Depp’s case was that the article made seriously defamatory allegations which bore the meaning that he was guilty of serious domestic violence against his former wife. The defence maintained that the evidence showed the claimant “was violent towards Ms Heard on multiple occasions” during their relationship, and thus the “wife-beater” claim was justified. They relied on 14 alleged incidents of serious physical assault against Heard which had occurred between 2013 and 2016. However, Depp consistently denied the “reputation-destroying and career-ending” allegations.

The case was heard over the course of 16 days at London’s Royal Courts of Justice in July 2020. Importantly, neither Depp nor Heard was on trial. And this wasn’t a criminal trial either. In this libel dispute, there were two central issues: the meaning of the articles complained of; and whether the imputation conveyed by them (that the Hollywood actor engaged in unprovoked attacks and violent conduct against his ex-wife) was true in substance and fact. Mr Justice Nicol held that the meaning of the words complained of was as contended for by The Sun, namely that Depp was violent to Heard, “causing her to suffer significant injury and on occasion leading to her fearing for her life”.

The judge also expressly acknowledged that Depp proved the necessary elements of his cause of action, that his reputation had been damaged. But, under UK defamation law, if a defendant proves that the published words are “substantially true”, they will have a complete defence: they cannot be successfully sued regardless of the gravity of the allegations. In this case, the judge found that the great majority of alleged incidents of violent physical assault against his ex-wife were proved to be substantially true and dismissed Depp’s claim.

Was it all worth it?

Anyone following the case may have reasonably queried whether Depp’s action was ill-advised. Traumatic, intensely intimate and unflattering details of a tumultuous relationship apparently punctuated with blazing rows, a drug and alcohol-fuelled lifestyle and allegations of domestic abuse – strenuously denied – were uncovered in court and made front-page news worldwide.

A parade of witnesses, including A-list actors, strode into London’s High Court to support each side’s versions of events. The court heard details of a costly trail of destroyed property, a severed finger apparently caused by a thrown vodka bottle, profoundly acrimonious texts and a large pile of faeces left in a bed.

The Johnny Depp Libel Trial Explained
He said, she said: actress Amber Heard, centre, outside the High Court in London on the final day of hearings. (Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images)
In addition to the revelation of unattractive details of his personal affairs, Depp had to shoulder a taxing evidential burden as a result of a recent Supreme Court ruling. The court’s decision in a 2019 defamation case involving two UK newspaper publishers established that the threshold test for “serious harm” in defamation actions has been significantly raised under the 2013 Defamation Act. This has made it more difficult for claimants to succeed in their actions.

Nevertheless, Depp must have considered that the trial was the lesser of two evils compared to unanswered reputational attacks of this magnitude. The conduct alleged was essentially criminal and highly defamatory, especially in the post-#MeToo landscape. The judge’s ruling suggests that the actor correctly assessed the potential reputational damage that the words “wife-beater” would cause to his future.

The heavy focus on Depp’s alleged criminal wrongdoing in The Sun’s article, the extent of its publication, the long-term effect of online libel and the undesired prospect of the actor’s removal from his role in a major film franchise provided a strong impetus for the claimant.

NGN took an equally bold, yet somewhat risky, decision. By relying on the defence of truth, the publisher was required to establish the essential truth of the “sting” of the libel. This means that it was not necessary for NGN to prove that every single aspect of the statement complained of was absolutely true, so long as, taken as a whole, it was accurate.

The standard of proof needed for a truth defence is that used in civil cases generally – the material must be proved true “on the balance of probabilities”. This is a lower bar to achieve than the usual criminal standard of being sure “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Although one might think that NGN had a relatively easier task to achieve, it should not be forgotten that, when the truth defence is used, the burden rests on the publisher to prove that the allegations were true, rather than on the claimant (in this case, Depp) to show that they were false. This can give rise to further complications, as the success of a claim will regularly turn on the evidence in each individual case.

And when opposing accounts of what happened in private cannot be entirely ruled out, lawyers will struggle to persuade the court which version is more likely to be true. This is apparent in the position taken by Depp’s lawyers that “the claimant was not violent towards Ms Heard; it was she who was violent to him”.

Hence, media organisations may often be reluctant to defend libel actions and may opt for an out-of-court settlement to avoid the risk of high legal costs or damages. This was not the case with NGN, which nevertheless sought to prove true a very serious allegation. It succeeded, despite the challenges associated with this defence.

The case continues

The outcome was bitterly unfavourable to Depp, who arguably suffered a crushing defeat, with all that this might entail for his career. Moreover, his case has reportedly led to an estimated £5m in legal costs, and on top of that, he is likely to be made to cover a significant percentage of the winner’s legal costs.

The Sun, meanwhile, emerged victorious from a tense legal battle. The outcome may stiffen the resolve of the English press to report on matters of domestic violence, but it does not necessarily follow that the approach taken by the High Court in Depp’s trial is a uniform one in all cases.

The High Court’s decision doesn’t seem to spell the end of the legal battle. Depp’s representatives said they found the decision “as perverse as it is bewildering” and announced their intention to appeal. It will also be interesting to see whether the outcome in London can carry some weight and indirectly affect the libel rematch next May in the US against Heard herself over an opinion piece she wrote for Washington Post.The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:

Alexandros Antoniou, Lecturer in Media Law, University of Essex

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

'Starsky and Hutch' Actor David Soul Releases New Short Film/Documentary 'America' [Video Included]

'Starsky and Hutch' Actor David Soul Releases New Short Film/Documentary 'America'
'Starsky and Hutch' Actor David Soul Releases New Short Film/Documentary 'America' (screengrab)
Actor/director and musician David Soul, co-star of the iconic 1970s television series, Starsky and Hutch, has created and directed a short film/documentary called America, based on a song of the same name.

  • The song, written by Jack Murphy and recorded by David Soul 40 years ago, was never released - until now.
David's not-for-profit film, produced by Me and Thee Productions and available free across all social media, reveals America's story as illustrated in the song's lyrics; from her slave-trading beginnings in 1619, through the years of the Civil Rights struggles, to the inspirational, global, and long-overdue Black Lives Matter movement.

'Starsky and Hutch' Actor David Soul Releases New Short Film/Documentary 'America'
'Starsky and Hutch' Actor David Soul Releases New Short Film/Documentary 'America' (screengrab)
America, the film, is a reminder that our uniqueness as a country (often concealed in superficial patriotic bravado and self-congratulation) actually lies in our immeasurable compassion and love, as well as in our undaunting willingness to learn from our past and rise above our differences.
  • The film, at moments graphic and challenging, is not always easy to watch, but in fact, it serves to embrace the collective heart and soul of our nation's diversity.
We are reminded by David Soul's America that we must unite together on "the Yellow Brick Road" in our continuing journey to form "a more perfect union;" in essence, to ensure that the promises of equality and justice for all Americans, enshrined within the United States Constitution, are finally realized.

'America' By David Soul - The Video:

SOURCE: Me and Thee Productions

31 October 2020

Sean Connery: 'Bond, James Bond', But So Much More

Sean Connery: 'Bond, James Bond', But So Much More
Sean Connery: the first Bond, and for many people, the best. (PA/PA Archive/PA Images)
Coverage of the passing of Sir Sean Connery has inevitably been dominated by his legacy as the screen’s first – and best – James Bond. Connery’s “Bond, James Bond” moment near the beginning of Dr. No (1962) is one of the iconic moments of cinema history and has spawned countless imitations and parodies.
Perhaps the most persistent myth about Connery, who was 90, is that he was an “unknown” actor who was plucked from obscurity by Bond producers Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, who reportedly cast him against the wishes of author Ian Fleming and distributor United Artists. But this is to ignore the fact that Connery had already established himself as a television actor, drawing critical plaudits for lead roles in a 1957 BBC production of Requiem for a Heavyweight and in the 1961 TV production of Anna Karenina, but also appearing in a number of meaty co-starring roles in Hollywood films, including opposite Lana Turner in Another Time, Another Place (1958).

It was reportedly his appearance in Disney’s fantasy Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) that drew Connery to the notice of Broccoli’s wife, Dana, while the British crime drama The Frightened City (1961), in which Connery as an underworld enforcer steals the picture from its nominal star John Gregson, was also evidence of a star in the making.

Nevertheless Connery was inspired casting as James Bond. Connery made the role his own to such an extent that it is now impossible to imagine any of the other actors said to have been considered – including Cary Grant, David Niven, Patrick McGoohan and even Roger Moore – stepping into the shoes of “the gentleman agent with the licence to kill” in 1962.
In this context an important point to remember about Bond is that Fleming’s character was not an Old Etonian establishment figure: he is even described in Moonraker as being “alien and unEnglish”. Connery’s working-class Scottish roots – he was born and grew up in Edinburgh, where his early jobs had included milkman, bricklayer and coffin-polisher – imbued his Bond with that sense of “otherness”. 

To this extent Connery’s Bond has as much in common with the outsider protagonists of the British new wave – Laurence Harvey, Albert Finney, Richard Harris – as the tradition of British screen heroism incarnated by stars of the 1950s such as Richard Todd and Kenneth More.

Sean Connery and co-star Honor Blackman in a publicity shot for the film Goldfinger (1964). (PA/PA Archive/PA Images)
Connery’s performance in Dr No is edgy and brusque: he really settled into the part in From Russia With Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964) where he commands the screen with that indefinable quality of star “presence” that means all he has to do to dominate a scene is to be in it.

Beyond Bond

Bond brought Connery fame and fortune. He was paid a mere £6,000 for Dr No, four times that amount for From Russia With Love and a then-record US$1.25 million for his first Bond “comeback” in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever (George Lazenby had taken the role for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969).

The lucrative remuneration meant that Connery was able to pick and choose his roles outside the Bond pictures. Indeed his non-Bond roles demonstrate just how versatile an actor Connery was. Alfred Hitchcock cast him against type as Tippi Hedren’s conflicted husband in Marnie (1964), and he excelled in two films for Sidney Lumet, as the rebel-with-a-cause in the hard-hitting military prison drama The Hill (1965) and as a vengeful policeman in the much underrated The Offence (1973).
Connery was particularly good at playing characters older than himself, including the potentate standing up to Teddy Roosevelt in The Wind and the Lion (1975) and an ageing Robin Hood reflecting on his own myth in the beautifully elegiac Robin and Marian (1976). He paired with Michael Caine as soldiers of fortune in 19th-century Afghanistan in The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and was one of the all-star cast of suspects in Sidney Lumet’s lavish adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

Sean Connery: 'Bond, James Bond', But So Much More
Screen gods: Sean Connery and Michael Caine in The Man Who Would Be King (1975). (PA/PA Archive/PA Images)
There was, inevitably, the occasional left-field choice, but even the science-fiction oddity Zardoz (1973) now has something of a cult status. Connery famously said that he would “never” play Bond again after Diamonds Are Forever: hence the ironic title of his second Bond “comeback” Never Say Never Again (1983), a rival production outside the Eon Production series mounted by independent producer Kevin McClory.

Connery won his only Academy Award, a popular choice as Best Supporting Actor for his “Irish” street-cop in The Untouchables (1987), after which his career enjoyed a second wind as the world’s most bankable sexagenarian film star in a sequence of superior adventure and caper movies including The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Rock (1996) and Entrapment (1999).

By this time Connery’s refusal to disguise his accent had become something of a trademark, whatever the part. When Steven Spielberg cast him as Harrison Ford’s father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), it captured the idea that Connery’s Bond was the symbolic “father” of a later generation screen hero.

Feet of clay

Most stars turn out to have feet of clay: Connery was no exception. He attracted controversy for a remark made in an interview with Playboy in 1965 that legitimised hitting a woman (“An open-handed slap is justified if all other alternatives fail”). His Bond did this on screen in From Russia With Love and Diamonds Are Forever.

He also had a public falling-out with Broccoli, suing the producer and MGM for alleged non-payment of profit shares in the Bond films. Against this should be set Connery’s charitable work: he used his fee for Diamonds Are Forever to found the Scottish International Education Trust to provide financial assistance for Scots from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend university and college.

Proud ‘Scottish peasant

Connery, who since the 1970s lived in Spain and the Bahamas as a tax exile, was proud of his Scottish roots. Ian Fleming warmed to Connery to the extent that he introduced a Scottish heritage for Bond into the later stories. Bond’s “I am a Scottish peasant and I will always feel at home being a Scottish peasant” – from The Man With the Golden Gun – might have been written with Connery in mind, although Bond was actually played by his successor, Roger Moore, in that film.

Unlike Bond, Connery did accept a knighthood, for services to film drama, in 2000. It is widely believed that his public support for the Scottish National Party had delayed his knighthood.

Connery’s last screen appearance was as Allan Quatermain in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), in which he leads a Victorian superhero team to save the British Empire. He confirmed his retirement when he was presented with the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
He died in his sleep at his home in Nassau, and is survived by his second wife Micheline and son (by first wife Diane Cilento) Jason Connery.The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:

James Chapman, Professor of Film Studies, University of Leicester

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

14 October 2020

Stars Of "Friday the 13th" & "Supernatural" Along With Musical Guests Silversun Pickups, Filter, Beasto Blanco Join The "Queen Mary Live: A Virtual Haunt & Music Fest"

Stars Of "Friday the 13th" & "Supernatural" Along With Musical Guests Silversun Pickups, Filter, Beasto Blanco Join The "Queen Mary Live: A Virtual Haunt & Music Fest"
Stars Of "Friday the 13th" & "Supernatural" Along With Musical Guests Silversun Pickups, Filter, Beasto Blanco Join The "Queen Mary Live: A Virtual Haunt & Music Fest" (screengrab)
Halloween is not cancelled! The Dark Zone Network announces their biggest Live Streaming Virtual Paranormal Event yet! The revolutionary and innovative creative team at The Dark Zone Network is at it again! 
This time, the people that brought you ground-breaking television like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Mine, Mountain Monsters and more, thrill and entertain viewers with four fully packed days of ghost hunting and Halloween festivities - music and celebration at the world's most haunted ghost ship, the Queen Mary. Do not miss their latest—and BIGGEST--live streaming, interactive, fully immersive virtual global event - "The Queen Mary - LIVE: A Virtual Haunt and Music Fest!

  • Never before has anyone had full and unrestricted access to the Queen Mary. Because it is currently closed to the public, every level, every haunted area will be virtually accessible by anyone watching the live stream. For the first time, the world's most haunted ghost ship will reveal her secrets to The Dark Zone's world-wide audience.
Stars Of "Friday the 13th" & "Supernatural" Along With Musical Guests Silversun Pickups, Filter, Beasto Blanco Join The "Queen Mary Live: A Virtual Haunt & Music Fest"
Stars Of "Friday the 13th" & "Supernatural" Along With Musical Guests Silversun Pickups, Filter, Beasto Blanco Join The "Queen Mary Live: A Virtual Haunt & Music Fest" (image via
Hosted by renowned resident apparitionist Aiden Sinclair, partner Becca Knight and The Dark Zone's Susan Slaughter, viewers will be treated to more ghost hunting over four days than seen on most reality ghost hunting shows. This is a fully immersive, interactive experience as viewers watch the locked down camera feeds from the safety of their living room couches, looking for shadow figures, objects moving or even full-bodied apparitions. When they spot them, and they always do, they'll communicate directly with The Dark Zone and the on-site investigators to tell them where to investigate next.

Because it's their favorite holiday, The Dark Zone will host a full, live-streaming Halloween party and Day of the Dead celebration. TDZ proudly announces music performances from Silversun Pickups, Filter, Beasto Blanco, Dead Sara, Metalachi and Sound Barrier as well as celebrity guests Kane Hodder (Jason from Friday the 13th), Chad Lindberg (Supernatural), Calico Cooper (Alice Cooper's daughter/Beasto Blanco's lead singer), and Britton Buchanan (The Voice). 

Stars Of "Friday the 13th" & "Supernatural" Along With Musical Guests Silversun Pickups, Filter, Beasto Blanco Join The "Queen Mary Live: A Virtual Haunt & Music Fest"
Stars Of "Friday the 13th" & "Supernatural" Along With Musical Guests Silversun Pickups, Filter, Beasto Blanco Join The "Queen Mary Live: A Virtual Haunt & Music Fest" (image via
There will even be a virtual costume contest with prize giveaways. Oh, and there will be ghosts - and ghost hunters. 
  • This event will feature some of the biggest names in the paranormal ghost hunting community to search around in the deepest, darkest depths of The Queen Mary looking for what goes bump in the night

Step into The Dark Zone on October 29th through November 1st for four terrifying nights of Halloween on the haunted Queen Mary. Tickets are only $19.99 for this once in a lifetime, live streaming, fully immersive, virtual event. 
  • Go to for tickets and more info. Live, multi-channel stream available to view on Roku and Apple TV. 
SOURCE: The Dark Zone Network

8 October 2020

Everard Goes Back to the Future on Oct. 14 with 1960s Space Age Cars and Sculptural Art from Estate of John Bucci

Everard Goes Back to the Future on Oct. 14 with 1960s Space Age Cars and Sculptural Art from Estate of John Bucci
Concept car designer/fabricator John Bucci (Italian/American, 1935-2019) at the 1964 New York World's Fair, where his 1962 fiberglass car 'La Shabbla,' thrilled millions of visitors at the Cavalcade of Cars exhibition. (Archival photo from the Estate of John Bucci.)
On October 14, Savannah's Everard Auctions will go back to the future with an online-only auction of wildly imaginative cars and sculptural art from the Estate of John Bucci (1935-2019).
A visionary artist whose work was decades ahead of its time, Bucci crafted fiberglass fantasies that drew widespread media recognition and praise from the highest echelons of the custom-car world. 

Two of his Space Age vehicles are featured in the auction: 

  • The 1962 car known as "La Shabbla," which was the rage of the 1964 New York World's Fair
  • "La Trieste," which created mob scenes and was pulled over by curious Polizia when Bucci drove it around Italy in 1967.
Even today, more than half a century after they were fabricated, Bucci's unconventional automotive prototypes look futuristic enough to be parked in the Jetsons' garage. They are attracting bidder interest from new and long-time fans of avant-garde and automotive art.

John Bucci was a dreamer even in his youth. He grew up in a region of Italy that became part of Yugoslavia after World War II. After immigrating to Chicago in 1959, he worked at Radio Flyer, Zenith and Sun Electric. But his true gift was being able to visualize the fantastical and create it out of fiberglass. He gained renown for his spectacular replicas of Trevi Fountain, which he supplied to trade shows and Italian festivals around the country.

Around 1962, Bucci found himself without sufficient funds to buy a car, so he did what came naturally – he made one, a car of the future that he named "La Shabbla," or "Sword." Its futuristic fiberglass body sits on a Fiat chassis with an Arbath 750 engine. It features retractable headlights, a working steering wheel, electrically powered hood cover, oscilloscope, and blue woven leather seats. 

Everard Goes Back to the Future on Oct. 14 with 1960s Space Age Cars and Sculptural Art from Estate of John Bucci
John Bucci, La Shabbla, 1964 World's Fair Concept Car (image via
  • The car was displayed at the Calvacade of Custom Cars at the 1964 NY World's Fair, where it was mobbed by fairgoers and even caught the eye of singer Paul Anka, who hopped inside for a photo opportunity.
In as-is condition, La Shabbla is a show car that can run off AC/DC current when in static display mode. On AC current, it can perform limited operations including opening the hood, and extending/retracting the steering wheel and passenger windscreen. The engine turns freely when rotated by hand. 

  • Auction estimate: $50,000-$75,000.
Everard Goes Back to the Future on Oct. 14 with 1960s Space Age Cars and Sculptural Art from Estate of John Bucci
John Bucci, The Trieste, Fiberglass Concept Car (image via
La Trieste is believed to have been constructed around a Porsche 356 floor pan and is powered by a Porsche 4-cylinder (1600cc super) engine capable of hitting a top speed of 160mph. Bucci created it with a five-layer fiberglass body that received five coats of paint. Its windshield and side windows are made of polycarbonate, and the door-locking mechanism appears to be electromagnetic. 

  • In 1967, Bucci took it on an extensive tour of Italy, then exhibited it around America's Midwest. 
In 1967, John Bucci (Italian/American, 1935-2019) drove around Italy in his concept car 'La Trieste,' attracting mobs of curious, car-crazy citizens. Italian Polizia even pulled him over just to get a closer look at the futuristic vehicle, which was 100% street legal. (Archival photo from the Estate of John Bucci.)
A May 1972 article in the Chicago Sun-Times Business News section described La Trieste as resembling "a land-bound missile" and said "…even if it didn't run – which it does very well – it would have to be considered somewhat of a milestone in auto styling." 

  • Currently in fair condition, La Trieste has an $8,000-$12,000 estimate.
Bucci's design oeuvre also included functional, avant-garde sculptural furniture made from plexiglass, steel, found objects and wood. A selection is entered in the auction with estimates ranging from $120-$1,500.

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