Month: June 2021

Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen to pick up stake in crypto exchange FTX

National Football League quarterback Tom Brady and his supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen, will each take an undisclosed equity stake in crypto exchange platform FTX Trading Ltd, the company said on Tuesday.

Under the deal, Brady will also become an FTX ambassador and Bundchen will take the role of environmental and social initiatives adviser. Both will receive an unspecified amount of cryptocurrency, the company said.

Founded and led by Sam Bankman-Fried, a 29-year-old crypto veteran billionaire, FTX is in talks to raise $1 billion at a valuation of $20 billion, according to media reports.

Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion, has long been an advocate of cryptocurrencies. Last month, he edited his Twitter profile photo to one with a “laser eyes” meme – a popular internet fad among supporters of cryptocurrency.

Earlier this year, Brady also said he would launch a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) platform called Autograph that will bring together iconic brands from sports, entertainment, fashion and pop culture to create digital collectibles.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #TomBrady #Crypto @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Amazon scoops up exclusive rights to celebrity podcast ‘SmartLess’

Amazon.com Inc said on Tuesday it had signed an exclusive rights deal with “SmartLess”, a podcast hosted by Hollywood actors Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes in which they talk to other celebrity guests.

New episodes of “SmartLess” will be released a week early and exclusively on Amazon’s podcast platform Wondery and Amazon Music, the company said. The episodes will also be available ad-free on Wondery+, the channel’s subscription membership.

The e-commerce titan is a relatively new entrant to the booming podcast space, an area dominated by Spotify Technology which recently signed podcasting deals with major names including Michelle Obama, Joe Rogan and Kim Kardashian.

“SmartLess” was launched late last June and has about 50 episodes with guests including U.S Vice President Kamala Harris, actors George Clooney, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston and Bryan Cranston, as well as musicians Paul McCartney and Billie Eilish.

Amazon declined to comment on the terms of the deal but Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday that the total value was between $60 million and $80 million, citing people familiar with the matter. (https://bloom.bg/3dr52SE)

The deal also gives Amazon the right to partner with SmartLess LLC on any additional podcasts it produces. Wondery will retain exclusive ad-sales rights through the deal, Amazon said.

The e-commerce giant in December acquired Wondery, which houses popular podcasts like “Dirty John”, “Dr. Death”, and “Business Wars”, looking to expand the content on its Amazon Music app beyond just music.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #Amazon #SmartLess @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

‘Sherlock Holmes’ returns in Storytel audiobooks

“Sherlock Holmes” is coming back to life as Storytel has signed a deal with Conan Doyle Estate for new stories in audiobooks to be penned by novelist Anthony Horowitz, the Swedish audiobooks platform said on Monday.

“Holmes”, the hero of the fictional detective stories created by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887, has mass following across the world and spawned several movies based on the character.

Horowitz is known for writing the “Alex Rider” series, was chosen to write “James Bond” novels by the Ian Fleming estate and also wrote television series such as “Midsomer Murders” and “Foyle’s War”.

Under his creative lead, three new stories will be written by a team of writers and the audio-first versions will be released on all Storytel markets in spring 2022, the statement said. Storytel will make a more formal announcement later on Monday.

“This is going to be Sherlock Holmes from a very different perspective, staying true to the spirit of the books – which I have always loved –  but expanding the narrative and the vision of Conan Doyle in all sorts of unexpected ways,” Horowitz said.

Storytel offers listening and reading of over 500,000 audiobooks across 25 markets and competes with the likes of Amazon’s Audible. Last month, it signed a deal with Spotify to allow its subscribers to listen to its library of audiobooks on Spotify from later this year.

Storytel is in talks with print publishers and for adaptations for television and movies of the new “Holmes” adventures. Several Hollywood actors such as Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch have played the character of “Holmes” for television series and movies.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #SherlockHolmes #AudioBook @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Box Office: ‘F9’ Zooms to Mighty $70 Million Debut, Shattering Pandemic Records

The only thing stronger than family? The box office debut of “F9,” the latest entry in Universal’s “Fast & Furious” saga.

After many delays over the course of a year and a half, “F9” opened to a mighty $70 million from 4,179 North American venues. That’s by far the biggest start for a movie at the U.S. box office since the onset of COVID-19.

The big-screen homage to hulking men, speedy cars and gravity-defying stunts is giving some much-needed momentum to the movie theater business, which has been struggling to rebound as audiences begin to feel comfortable returning to their local multiplex. “F9” is the latest blockbuster-hopeful to set a new box office benchmark for COVID times. Prior to this weekend, Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II” held the pandemic-era opening weekend with $48.3 million in inaugural ticket sales.

“F9” wasn’t expected to reach the opening weekend heights of its franchise predecessors because attendance hasn’t returned to pre-COVID levels and the Canadian box office, which accounts for part of North American revenues, is still almost entirely shut down. In terms of “Fast” series launches, “F9” has a slight edge on the 2019 spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw,” which generated $60 million and ended its theatrical run with $173 million in the U.S. and $759 million globally. The previous film in the core series was 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious,” which opened to $98 million and ultimately grossed $226 million in North America and $1.2 billion worldwide. The 2015 entry “Furious 7” marked a franchise high, posting a huge $147.2 million in its first three days of release, on its way to $353 million at the domestic box office and $1.5 billion globally.

David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, says the inaugural weekend of “F9” is “an excellent opening in an extraordinary series.”

“During the last month, moviegoing has shown flashes of real strength, including this weekend and ‘A Quiet Place 2,’ but it has also been tentative,” Gross says. “‘F9’ and ‘A Quiet Place 2’ are the cleanest reads of what the business can do now — both strong series and pure theatrical releases/no streaming.”

Gross is referring to Disney’s “Cruella” and “Raya and the Last Dragon,” as well as recent Warner Bros. titles like “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” Those movies have been chugging along on box office charts, but their grosses come with an asterisk because they’re also available on streaming platforms. Alternatively, options such as “A Quiet Place Part II” and “F9” have benefitted from the fact that moviegoers can only watch them in theaters. After 45 days on the big screen, “A Quiet Place Part II” will move to the fledgling streaming service Paramount Plus, while “F9” will be offered on premium video-on-demand platforms after a similar period of time.

Overseas, “F9” has been a force with international audiences as ticket sales surpass the $300 million mark. The movie added another $38 million from 45 foreign markets, boosting its tally to $335 million internationally and $405 million globally. Although COVID-era restrictions and consumer hesitations mean “F9’s” overall box office totals will likely fall short of past “Fast” installments, the action adventure didn’t cost any less to produce — or market and promote on a global scale. That means the $200 million-budgeted film will have to sell plenty of online rentals, in addition to movie tickets, to get in the black.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #F9 #PandemicRecords @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

From Sick Boy to PM: Jonny Lee Miller joins ‘The Crown’ cast as Major

Actor Jonny Lee Miller, known for playing drug addict Sick Boy in the 1996 film “Trainspotting”, is joining the cast of hit Netflix series “The Crown”, in which he will portray former British Prime Minister John Major.

The award-winning drama about Britain’s royal family has cast a spate of new actors for its fifth season, with Imelda Staunton set to play Queen Elizabeth and Elizabeth Debicki portraying the late Princess Diana.

Miller’s casting as Major, who was prime minister from 1990 to 1997, was announced in a post on “The Crown’s” official Twitter page on Friday.

Miller, 48, shot to fame in “Trainspotting”, which followed Edinburgh drug addicts Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie. Based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, it gained a cult following and a sequel was released in 2017.

Miller is also known television series “Elementary”, “Dexter” and “Smith”.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #TheCrown #FromSickBoytoPM @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Glover to receive honorary Oscars

Actors Samuel L. Jackson and Danny Glover are among four people who will receive honorary Oscars next year for their contributions to filmmaking and the world, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Thursday.

The pair are among the next recipients of the academy’s Governors Awards, which will be handed out in a ceremony in January. Other honorees are writer-director Elaine May and Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann.

The recipients “have had a profound impact on both film and society,” Academy President David Rubin said in a statement.

Jackson, who portrayed Nick Fury in the “Avengers” and other Marvel movies, has appeared in more than 100 films. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role as a hit man in director Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 drama “Pulp Fiction.”

Ullmann was a frequent collaborator with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. She appeared in “Persona,” “The Passion of Anna,” “Cries and Whispers” and other Bergman films. Ullman was nominated for best actress for 1971 film “The Emigrants” and 1976 movie “Face to Face.”

May received Oscar nominations for best adapted screenplay for 1978’s “Heaven Can Wait” and 1999’s “Primary Colors.” Earlier in her career, she was part of the comedy duo Nichols and May, which debuted in 1958, with Mike Nichols.

Glover, star of the “Lethal Weapon” movies, will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his advocacy for justice and human rights. He currently serves as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #SamuelLJackson #DannyGlover @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Radiohead, Wolf Alice among UK music stars urging post-Brexit tour help

More than 200 music artists, including Radiohead, The Chemical Brothers and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, backed a campaign on Wednesday calling on the British government to reduce costs and red tape to make post-Brexit touring around Europe easier.

Five years since Britons voted to leave the European Union, the #LetTheMusicMove campaign says Brexit-related expenditure, restrictions and bureaucracy are “making EU touring unviable and threatens the future success of British music”.

Britain’s departure from the bloc, completed in December, ended the freedom of movement for Britons and EU citizens in each other’s countries. British musicians wanting to play in Europe now face extra paperwork and costs once touring resumes.

“It’s essential that bands, artists, musicians and DJs can travel Europe at every level of their career. Europe is part of the geographic working space,” Primal Scream bass player Simone Marie Butler said in a statement.

The campaign, organised by trade body the Featured Artists’ Coalition, is calling for a “transitional support package” to help cover new touring costs, measures overcoming rules on touring vehicles and a “viable long-term plan” for UK artists and their crews to work in the EU “without costly permits and bureaucracy”.

It is also asking for reciprocal freedoms for European artists when they come to perform in Britain.

“EU touring and the need to get the right processes in place for simple and economical access to Europe is crucial at this time more than ever,” rock band Skunk Anansie said.

“It is the lifeblood of bands and artists, not just financially, but in order to expand their fanbase and deliver their art to a wider audience.”

The campaign follows other calls for action from British musicians.

In January, Sting, Ed Sheeran and Elton John were among the more than 100 signatories of a letter published in The Times newspaper, urging the government to negotiate a reciprocal deal allowing paperwork-free travel for touring artists.

Britain and Brussels have blamed each other for the issue, with each side saying their proposals during talks had been rejected by the other.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #Radiohead #WolfAlice @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Senegal’s famed jazz festival returns after pandemic delay

On a small island where the Senegal River meets the sea, hundreds of mask-wearing jazz enthusiasts listened to French-Senegalese vocalist Awa Ly sing the blues for uncertain times.

“Once you touched the sky and you went down,” she crooned. “Use your inner senses and you’ll figure it out, like a dream you can’t remember.”

Last year COVID-19 halted Saint Louis’ jazz festival for the first time in its 29-year history. This year it was back, bringing much needed life to the Island of Saint Louis, a UNESCO World Heritage site famed for its colonial architecture and pastel-coloured houses.

African rhythms, funk, gospel and blues could be heard along the narrow streets last weekend, emanating from restaurants, bars and hotels into the early morning.

“I was relieved, and everybody else was relieved too,” Ly said after her performance. “It was a beautiful energy, a beautiful vibration and a beautiful link between the stage and the audience.”

Saint Louis, in northern Senegal, was spared the deadliest impacts of COVID-19. But a decline in tourism and an economic crunch have left residents hungry for a boost that only its largest annual event could provide.

Billed as Africa’s biggest jazz festival, it has struggled with dwindling attendance since its days hosting headliners like American pianist Herbie Hancock, who played there in 1996.

But it does draw enthusiasts from across West Africa and Europe and is a source of pride for the city’s street performers.

“Jazz attracted a lot of tourists so we could play in the streets, so we managed to collect a little money,” said Adama Ndaw, 25, who busks near the Faidherbe Bridge, which ties the island of Saint Louis to the rest of the city on the mainland.

“Nothing was there last year, but today it is good because we still managed to at least build a stage.”

Through a small door off an unpaved alley, one bar was packed.

Jamm Jazz, a fusion band from the capital Dakar, were all smiles playing their second of three sets as the audience danced or sat crammed together around overbooked tables.

“The festival not taking place last year was an economic disaster for Saint Louis,” said band leader Moustapha Diop. “This year, despite the crisis, the festival was held because if it wasn’t, it would be a big blow for the city to come.”

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #JazzFest #Senegal @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Britney Spears says she doesn’t know whether she’ll ever perform again

Spears, who has not performed in public since late 2018 and is under a court-ordered conservatorship, made the statement in a video post on her Instagram page where she answered three questions that she said had been posed by her fans.

“Am I ready to take the stage again? Will I ever take the stage again,” Spears, 39, said in the video posted on Thursday.

“I have no idea. I’m having fun right now, I’m in a transition in my life and I’m enjoying myself. So, ” she said.

Her comments follow repeated pleas by fans for reassurance that she is well amid growing conspiracy theories that she is being kept against her will and is sending cryptic messages for help through her prolific Instagram posts.

They also come a week ahead of her plans to address the Los Angeles court overseeing the conservatorship that has managed her personal and business affairs since her mental health breakdown in 2008.

Spears on Thursday did not speak about the conservatorship but she answered two other questions that she said fans had asked.

One was about her favorite business trip (to Italy where she stayed with designer Donatella Versace.) The other was about her shoe size (a size 7.)

Spears last performed in public in October 2018 at the Formula One Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, at the end of her “Piece of Me” world tour.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #Music #BritneySpears @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Warner Music buys French DJ David Guetta’s music catalogue

 Warner Music Group said on Thursday it would buy celebrated French DJ David Guetta’s recorded-music catalogue from the last two decades, and sign a new deal with him for future recordings.

The move will add Guetta’s body of work to the world’s third-largest recording label that is home to artists including Cardi B, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars.

Known for his collaborations with artists such as Akon, Snoop Dogg and Kid Cudi, Guetta has 50 million record sales and more than 14 billion streams to his name to date.

Guetta, best known for revolutionizing the electronic dance music space in the early 2000s, has also worked with Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj, and has won two Grammy Awards.

“I’m super excited about the new music I’m working on … This is the right time to renew my creative partnership with my trusted team at Warner Music,” Guetta said in a statement.

Guetta is currently the eighth-most listened to artist in the world by monthly listeners on audio streaming platform Spotify.

“A lot of people approached us to express interest in David’s catalogue,” Jean-Charles Carré, David Guetta’s business partner and manager, said.

Warner Music did not disclose financial details of the deal did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The Financial Times on Thursday reported the deal size was above $100 million, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Warner Music last year cautioned the COVID-19 pandemic had hurt physical revenue streams and delayed the release of new recordings, movies and television programs.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #Warner #DJDavidGuetta @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com