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Meghan teams up with Melissa McCarthy for birthday mentorship video

Britain’s Duchess Meghan celebrated her 40th birthday on Wednesday with a light-hearted video and an appeal for people to mentor women trying to get back into the work force.

Meghan, the wife of Prince Harry, teamed up with “Bridesmaids” actress Melissa McCarthy for the tongue-in-cheek video to launch her “40×40” initiative.

The two joke about marking her milestone birthday by holding a cast reunion of the duchess’s former TV series “Suits, getting matching tattoos or partying on yacht.

Meghan, however, announces she is asking 40 friends to mentor a woman for 40 minutes, and encourages others to do the same.

Meghan, formally known as the Duchess of Sussex, said in a message on the couple’s Archewell Foundation website that she sees mentorship as a way to help women regain confidence and rebuild their economic strength.

“For my birthday, I have asked 40 friends, activists, athletes, artists, and world leaders to help kickoff a global effort by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to support women re-entering the workforce,” she said.

Meghan said millions of women around the world left or lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, and many shouldered the responsibility of child care, caring for relatives and home schooling.

Meghan has made women’s empowerment a key part of her platform before and after she and Harry quit the royal family and moved to California last year to live independently.

Last month she announced she had teamed up with Netflix to produce an animated family series about the adventures of a 12 -year old girl who is inspired by influential women from history.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #MeghanMarkle #MelissaMcCarthy @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Britain’s ITV says ‘no current plans’ for another ‘X Factor’ series

British broadcaster ITV said it has “no current plans” for another series of music talent show “The X Factor”.

The singing competition, created by British music mogul and television personality Simon Cowell, debuted on UK screens in 2004 and kick-started the careers of chart toppers such as Leona Lewis, One Direction and Little Mix.

Its last series aired in 2018 before going on hiatus.

“There are no current plans for the next series of The X Factor at this stage,” an ITV spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

Once hugely popular, the UK show has seen ratings fall over the years.

Newspaper The Sun reported late on Wednesday Cowell was axing the series “for at least five years”. 

The show, in which aspiring singers aim to win a recording contract and are mentored by celebrity judges, has been exported around the world and has had various spin-offs, including a celebrity version in 2019.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #Britains #XFactor @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Singer Rihanna is officially a billionaire, Forbes says

Pop star Rihanna’s net worth is estimated at $1.7 billion, making her the richest woman musician in the world, but her music is not the primary source of her wealth, Forbes magazine said on Wednesday.

The Barbados-born singer, whose birth name is Robyn Fenty, derives an estimated $1.4 billion of her fortune from her 50% stake in the Fenty Beauty cosmetics line, Forbes reported.

The rest of Rihanna’s wealth comes from her share of the Savage x Fenty lingerie company and her income as a singer and actress, the magazine said.

Rihanna’s beauty company, of which LVMH owns the other half, is known for its broad range of 50 skin tones, including dark shades for women of color, which were rare when it launched in 2017. This made it a leader in inclusivity in the industry.

The singer of “Umbrella” and “Love the Way You Lie” ranks second behind Oprah as the richest female entertainer, Forbes said.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #Forbes #Rihanna @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Meet a pint-size U.S. piano prodigy

Brigitte Xie reads music, can play Beethoven’s Sonatina in F Major and has won a spot to perform at Carnegie Hall. She is 4 years old.

Brigitte’s feet dangle above the ground when the petite girl sits on the piano bench, her hands moving gracefully across the keyboard.

With long brown hair in a ponytail and bow, she cast her dark eyes shyly downward when her mother, Nicole Sun, asked if she likes piano and if it was fun. “Yeah, fun,” Brigitte replied.

Brigitte’s father, Tao Xie of Ridgefield, Connecticut, signed her up for piano lessons on Zoom about a year ago to give her something to do during COVID-19 lockdown.

“At the beginning, I never expected that she’s going to be a prodigy or anything,” he said. “But yeah, it turns out it’s amazing.”

Brigitte was the youngest winner of the prestigious Elite International Music Competition, which earned her a spot at Carnegie Hall. She was supposed to play at Carnegie Hall as part of the American Protégé International Music Talent Competition in November 2020. That got postponed to this November and now to November 2022 due to COVID-19.

Brigitte’s mother gives credit to her piano teacher, Felicia Feng Zhang.

“Brigitte came to me when she was just two months after three years old,” her teacher said. “From the lessons, I observed she has a curious mind and she loves to learn. We call that passion.”

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

Amazon’s pricey ‘Lord of the Rings’ TV series to launch Sept 2022

Amazon’s multi-million dollar TV version of “The Lord of the Rings” will launch in September 2022, Amazon Studios said on Monday.

The streaming platform said filming on the first season has wrapped in New Zealand, and it released the first images of the show.

“The journey begins September 2, 2022 with the premiere of our original The Lord of the Rings series on Prime Video,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement.

Amazon is spending about $465 million filming the first season of the show, according to New Zealand government officials. It is expecting to make five seasons of the show, making it one of the most expensive TV series ever.

It said in a press release that the first season would be available in more than 240 nations, with new episodes released weekly.

The epic fantasy plot will take place thousands of years before the events narrated by writer J.R.R. Tolkien in his books “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.”

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

Blackstone and Hudson Pacific plan $1 billion film studios in UK

U.S. firms Blackstone and Hudson Pacific Properties said they planned to create a major film, TV and digital production complex in Broxbourne, north of London, in the first overseas expansion of their Sunset Studios platform.

Funds managed by the two companies had acquired a 91-acre site, 17 miles from central London, for 120 million pounds, they said on Sunday, adding that the total investment would be more than 700 million pounds ($975 million).

Subject to planning permission, they said they would build a world-class film and television studio campus, creating more than 4,500 permanent jobs.

Investment firm Blackstone last year bought a 49% stake in real estate company Hudson Pacific’s Hollywood media portfolio, comprising 35 sound stages and offices, including the facilities where hits “La La Land” and “When Harry Met Sally” were made.

Blackstone’s head of real estate Europe James Seppala said the partners intended to deliver a studio facility that would help ensure that Britain continued to be a premier destination for production.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #Film #UnitedKingdom @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Disney rejects Scarlett Johansson’s complaint over ‘Black Widow’ streaming release

Scarlett Johansson, star of the Marvel superhero movie “Black Widow,” sued the Walt Disney Co on Thursday, alleging that the company breached her contract when it offered the movie on streaming at the same time it played in theaters.

Disney said there was “no merit” to the lawsuit, saying it had complied with her contract. It added in a statement that the release of the movie on its streaming platform had “significantly enhanced her (Johansson’s) ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20 million she has received to date.”

Johansson’s complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, argued that the dual release strategy of “Black Widow” had reduced her compensation, which was based partly on box office receipts from what was supposed to be an exclusive run in cinemas.

“Black Widow” debuted on July 9 in theaters and for a $30 charge on the Disney+ streaming service. Disney has been testing the hybrid pattern for some films during the coronavirus pandemic as the company tried to boost its streaming service while many movie theaters around the world were closed.

Johansson’s lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims that Disney wanted to steer audiences toward Disney+, “where it could keep the revenues for itself while simultaneously growing the Disney+ subscriber base, a proven way to boost Disney’s stock price.”

“Second, Disney wanted to substantially devalue Ms. Johansson’s agreement and thereby enrich itself,” the lawsuit said.

The suit seeks unspecified damages to be determined at trial.

The outcome could have broad ramifications in Hollywood as media companies try to build their streaming services by offering premium programming to lure subscribers.

The Disney statement said the lawsuit was “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Black Widow,” the story of the Russian assassin turned Avenger, pulled in $80 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices over its debut weekend. The movie also generated $60 million through Disney+ purchases, Disney said.

Johansson has played the character in nine Marvel films.

Other movie studios including AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros. have negotiated payments to actors and others involved in films that were originally planned for theaters only but also offered on streaming during the pandemic.

Johansson’s suit said her representatives approached Disney about resolving the issue but were “largely ignored.”

The actress topped the Forbes magazine list of the world’s highest-paid actress in 2018 and 2019. Johansson’s pre-tax earnings totaled $56 million from June 2018 to June 2019.

Disney also is offering a same-day streaming release starting Friday for “Jungle Cruise,” an action-adventure movie starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #Film #KevinSpacey @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Bob Dylan, UMG defeat ‘Desire’ co-writer’s claims over catalog sale

Bob Dylan and Universal Music escaped claims on Friday brought by the estate of songwriter and theater director Jacques Levy — who co-wrote the majority of songs on Dylan’s 1976 album “Desire” — seeking a share of Dylan’s $300-million sale of his songwriting catalog to UMG late last year.

New York State Judge Barry Ostrager ruled that Dylan and Levy’s contract didn’t entitle Levy’s estate to any proceeds from the sale of Dylan’s copyrights because the contract only granted him specific royalties from the songs.

“As we said when the case was filed, this lawsuit was a sad attempt to profit off the recent catalog sale,” Dylan’s attorney Orin Snyder of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher said. “We’re glad it’s now over.”

Levy’s estate’s attorney Aaron Richard Golub didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Levy co-wrote ten songs with Dylan, seven of which were on “Desire”, including its most famous song “Hurricane”. His widow Claudia Levy sued Dylan and UMG on behalf of his estate in January, arguing their contract entitled him to 35% of “any and all income” earned by the compositions from several sources.

Levy argued this included proceeds from Dylan’s landmark December sale of his catalog to UMG, which The New York Times said “may be the biggest acquisition ever of the music publishing rights of a single songwriter.” Levy had asked the court for at least $1.75 million from the sale and $2 million in punitive damages.

But Ostrager said that the contract was “clear and unambiguous” in granting Dylan complete ownership of the copyrights and limiting Levy’s compensation to 35% of what were mostly licensing royalties — which he said UMG agreed to continue paying — “and in no way can be construed to include a portion of Dylan’s sale of his own copyrights.”

Ostrager discounted Levy’s estate’s “voluminous opposition papers” as well as the opinion of its music copyright expert Bob Kohn, who argued the songs were works of joint authorship. Kohn’s evidence was inadmissible because the agreement was unambiguous, and was also “unpersuasive as it distorts the plain language in the Agreement,” Ostrager said.

“Bob Kohn improperly usurps the Court’s function to interpret the Agreement by cherry-picking words and phrases and assigning them meanings that ignore the surrounding words and are inconsistent with the 1975 Agreement when read as a whole,” Ostrager said.

The case is Levy v. Zimmerman, Supreme Court for the State of New York, New York Count, No. 650402/2021.

For Levy: Aaron Richard Golub of Aaron Richard Golub PC

For Dylan and UMG: Orin Snyder of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

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

Britain’s ITV says ‘no current plans’ for another ‘X Factor’ series

British broadcaster ITV said it has “no current plans” for another series of music talent show “The X Factor”.

The singing competition, created by British music mogul and television personality Simon Cowell, debuted on UK screens in 2004 and kick-started the careers of chart toppers such as Leona Lewis, One Direction and Little Mix.

Its last series aired in 2018 before going on hiatus.

“There are no current plans for the next series of The X Factor at this stage,” an ITV spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

Once hugely popular, the UK show has seen ratings fall over the years.

Newspaper The Sun reported late on Wednesday Cowell was axing the series “for at least five years”. 

The show, in which aspiring singers aim to win a recording contract and are mentored by celebrity judges, has been exported around the world and has had various spin-offs, including a celebrity version in 2019.

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

‘Jungle Cruise’ movie pairs spirited heroine with pun-slinging skipper

In Walt Disney Co’s new “Jungle Cruise” movie, Emily Blunt plays a determined explorer on a mission to find an ancient tree that offers great potential to cure many of humanity’s ills.

Blunt co-stars with Dwayne Johnson in the big-screen adventure, which debuts on Friday and was based on a Disney theme park ride known for groan-inducing jokes.

The actress described her action-hero character, scientist Lily Houghton, as an “adventurous, spirited girl” who will not conform to society’s expectations of women in 1917.

For one, Houghton dares to wear pants, a defiant choice at the time. Plus, she “ventures into the Amazon jungle in a pretty reckless way,” Blunt said.

“She is a really important character for girls and boys to see because she was a trailblazer,” the actress said in an interview. “Trailblazers are always a bit eccentric, and they do crazy things.”

Blunt liked that Houghton veers from many traditional on-screen roles for women.

“I always tell writers just write me as a guy and leave the girl stuff to me,” Blunt said in an interview. “Just write me as multi-layered and full of faults, and full of the downfalls of what it is to be a human being.”

To play Houghton, Blunt said she was inspired by Indiana Jones, the iconic adventurer portrayed by Harrison Ford. “He’s not a slick action star,” she said. “He falls on his face. He’s scared of stuff.”

Disney is releasing “Jungle Cruise” simultaneously in theaters and for purchase on the Disney+ streaming service, a hybrid release plan the company has used during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If “Jungle Cruise” is successful, it could spawn a franchise like the blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, which also were inspired by a Disney ride.

Johnson plays Frank Wolff, the riverboat skipper Lily hires to take her and her brother (Jack Whitehall) on the perilous trek down the Amazon River. Frank is the “cheapest, most untrustworthy” option, Johnson said, but “very capable on a boat.”

And like the Disney ride operators, Frank revels in telling corny, pun-laden jokes. “He’s got sharp timing,” Johnson said, calling himself a “new-age pun slinger.” One joke in the movie: “The rocks you see here in the river are sandstone, but some people just take them for granite.”

“That’s the charm of the skippers,” Johnson said, “They tell these very bad puns that are so bad, they’re good.”

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #Film #JungleCruise @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com