BBC reduces Glastonbury TV coverage

Andrew Radion | , , , , ,

Corporation to broadcast Adele, Muse and Coldplay’s sets in full on BBC2, but cuts back its overall televised coverage

BBC reduces Glastonbury TV coverage
BBC2 is to air Adele’s Glastonbury set in full. Photograph: Michel Porro/Getty Images

The BBC has indicated it will cut the number of hours it will devote on its main TV channels to Glastonbury, this year featuring Adele, Coldplay and Muse.

It said on Monday it would devote more than 25 hours of coverage across BBC2, BBC4 and on BBC1’s Friday evening magazine show, The One Show.

It means viewers will have about five hours less to watch than in the previous two years, when the BBC put 30 hours of music across its four TV channels, from BBC1 to BBC4. Its youth-orientated channel BBC3 has since been closed as a TV channel and is now online only.

The BBC later said the amount of TV airtime being devoted to the event was still being finalised. It said its coverage will also be available online and on interactive TV via the red button, as well as on BBC radio.

Coverage will include live streams from six key music stages with a presenting lineup including Jo Whiley, Mark Radcliffe, Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Greg James, and Radio 2 DJ and new Top Gear presenter, Chris Evans.

Announcing its plans on Monday, the corporation said the new BBC Music app would give users “access to more Glastonbury than ever before, allowing them to personalise their journey according to their personal preferences”.

The four-day festival, which will also feature PJ Harvey and Jeff Lynne’s ELO, begins on 22 June. BBC2 will play host to the headliners on the main Pyramid stage, broadcasting Muse, Adele and Coldplay’s sets in full.

Bob Shennan, the controller of Radio 2 and 6 Music, who is also the director of BBC Music, said: “Glastonbury promises to be a magical weekend especially this year with so many homegrown performers including Jeff Lynne, Adele, Muse and Coldplay.

“If you can’t make it to Worthy Farm, BBC Music will bring you the cream of the festival, whether you’re at home or on the move.”.

Last year, just under 19 million people saw some of the BBC’s coverage, with an audience of 1.8 million tuning in to Lionel Richie’s Sunday afternoon legends slot which will this year be filled by Lynne’s return as ELO.

BBC4 will feature acts including Foals, New Order, PJ Harvey and Earth, Wind and Fire. The BBC will also broadcast more than 60 hours of content across its various radio stations.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 is top of the sequel flops at US box office

Andrew Radion | , , ,

Out of the Shadows opens 46% lower than previous film, while Alice Through the Looking Glass and X-Men: Apocalypse continue to disappoint

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 is top of the sequel flops at US box office
Underperformers … Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Photograph: Lula Carvalho/Paramount Pictures via AP

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 topped the US box office over the weekend but with a result that is 46% lower than the previous film.

The action follow-up, starring Megan Fox and Laura Linney, made $35.3m, compared to the original’s $65.6m. That film went on to make a surprise $493.2m worldwide, a number the latest adventure will struggle to replicate.

It’s the latest sequel to underperform this summer, after X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice Through the Looking Glass scored lower than expected openings the weekend before. Bryan Singer’s superhero instalment plummeted in its second week with a 66% drop with less than $120m thus far. It will struggle to match the $160m total of the critically reviled X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Luckily for Fox, the film has been opening well overseas with a $400m global total to date.

It’s even worse news for the Johnny Depp-starring fantasy which has made just $50m after two weeks of play. Alice in Wonderland made more than double that in its opening weekend and went on to make $1bn globally. The sequel will struggle to make a third of that. It’s not all bad news for Disney though, with Zootopia becoming the second film of 2016 to cross $1bn worldwide. It’s now the second highest-grossing original film of all time.

Elsewhere, romantic weepie Me Before You overperformed, bringing in $18.3m from a $20m budget. The film managed to combat the controversy that has plagued it for the past few weeks with disability groups unhappy with its ending.

The weekend’s other new release, music satire Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, was a washout, making just $4.6m, one of the worst results for a wide release this year.

US box office, week beginning 6 June 2016

  1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows: $35.3m – NEW
  1. X-Men: Apocalypse: $22.3m. Total: $116.5m
  1. Me Before You: $18.3m – NEW
  1. Alice Through the Looking Glass: $10.7m. Total: $50.8m
  1. The Angry Birds Movie: $9.8m. Total: $86.7m
  1. Captain America: Civil War: $7.6m. Total: $388.9m
  1. Neighbors 2: Serority Rising: $4.7m. Total: $48.6m
  1. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping: $4.6m – NEW
  1. The Jungle Book: $4.2m. Total: $347.5m
  1. The Nice Guys: $3.5m. Total: $29.1m

Kanye West pop-up concert ends in New York street chaos

Andrew Radion | , ,

Kanye West pop-up performance at Webster Hall, a 1,500-capacity venue in Manhattan, is overrun by 10,000-strong crowds and dispersed by the NYPD

Kanye West pop-up concert ends in New York street chaos
No one man should have all that power … Kanye West. Photograph: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Kanye West caused a ruckus in New York City after thousands attempted to cram into his last-minute show in Manhattan on Sunday night, forcing authorities to shut down the venue and cancel the gig.

Word got out via social media just after midnight – first revealed on Snapchat by rapper 2 Chainz – that West was performing a show of his new album The Life of Pablo at Webster Hall at 2am.

According to West’s creative director Virgil Abloh on Instagram, fellow artists and labelmates on West’s GOOD Music such as Big Sean, Pusha T and Travis Scott would also appear.

Within 30 minutes, thousands of New Yorkers wrapped around two blocks outside the venue near Union Square. Police had already cordoned off the Third Avenue entrance, with the crowd then attempting to enter the 11th Street venue from Second Avenue.

The hip-hop giant was supposed to headline the closing night of Governor’s Ball festival on Sunday night, however the event organizers cancelled the day’s events due to “severe weather” warnings. The last-minute show was the only chance those 10,000 festival attendees had to see West, although the capacity of Webster Hall’s grand ballroom is only 1,500.

At times the crowd of thousands ran en masse towards the entrance, creating a dangerous crush. A girl squashed in the crowd was carried by friends and laid upon a parked car, her foot covered in blood. Fans standing on cars cracked one windscreen. To escape the free-for-all, fans jumped on to the metal covers of trash cans, fences of apartment buildings and the sign of a billiards hall across the street.

“The whole street was full. I jumped up on top of the mailbox,” said Tim Fitzgerald, a 19-year-old construction worker from Saratoga Springs in upstate New York.

The roof of a passenger car in the street buckled and bent under the weight of people, while people stood on and hung off the hood and roof of two parked United States Postal Service vans. Fans from the venue’s earlier gig, Swedish EDM group Galantis, were still attempting to exit while thousands of West fans tried to push inside.


West’s wife Kim Kardashian snapchatted a video of her husband telling someone to “call the mayor” and get him to shut down the block outside for a party because of the crowds.

At 1am West tweeted that the show was “sold out,” although no tickets appeared to be available for purchase and the Guardian witnessed no fans entering the theater. At 1.15am, security and police began requesting everyone to leave the street and said no one was getting inside, but the crowd did not budge. By 1.45am, a man with a megaphone, presumably a staffer from the venue, announced “There is no show here tonight.”

“I knew as soon I came down here and the street was full of people, they weren’t going to hold a concert inside Webster Hall, that’s obviously breaking some fire codes or something. The streets were just too packed,” said Fitzgerald, who came to town for the Governors Ball.

For 20 minutes the NYPD and venue security told the crowd to disperse and that no concert was occurring this evening, but the crowd just kept chanting “Kanye” and lyrics from his songs.

Then, a whiff of hope. “Everybody has to calm down. If you don’t calm down, no one is going inside,” came a voice over the megaphone. The crowd calmed down. West himself then drove along just next to the venue on Third Avenue, standing up through the sunroof and waving to hordes of fans, although most in the crowd only learned of his visit through social media.

But it was false hope. Minutes later the NYPD began clearing out the entire street, with venue staff declaring no event was happening. Abloh posted to Instagram – now deleted – that the event was cancelled.

Afterwards, many of the GOOD label’s rappers, including Pusha T, Travis Scott and 2 Chainz, performed at bar SOB’s – which refused the Guardian entry. A tweet from West’s creative content company Donda, named after his mother, said a pop-up show would occur at Trump Soho.

Crowds of people were walking up and down the three blocks between nightclub SOB’s and Trump Soho, trying to figure out where West would appear.

The doorman outside the Trump Soho hotel told The Guardian that no concert was happening, Kanye West was not in the building and the hotel had heard nothing about the supposed pop up event until hordes of people turned up outside its doors. Around 100 people stood outside the luxury hotel, part-owned by GOP nominee Donald Trump, around 3.30am.

Moments later Kim Kardashian West snapped from her bed. “Alright guys we’re in bed. We tried. He tried, so hard. But it was just bigger, the cops just really wouldn’t allow it,” she said, shortly after 3.40am.

Glastonbury plans final encore for David Bowie, Prince and Lemmy

Andrew Radion | , , ,

Organisers of this year’s festival say hundreds of tributes to the three stars will be staged throughout the event

Glastonbury plans final encore for David Bowie, Prince and Lemmy
David Bowie headlining Glastonbury Festival in 2000. Photograph: Dan Chung for the Guardian

Hundreds of tributes celebrating the music of David Bowie, Prince and Motörhead’s Lemmy will be staged during this month’s Glastonbury festival as the Somerset event morphs into a rolling commemoration of three rock stars who passed away since Christmas.

Organisers have revealed that they are finalising “participatory aspects” for the 177,000 sellout crowd to honour Bowie, who first played at an embryonic Glastonbury in 1971 as a relatively unknown performer and went on to become one of Britain’s most feted musicians before his death in January, aged 69.

Glastonbury plans final encore for David Bowie, Prince and Lemmy
Prince performs onstage during the NCLR ALMA Awards on 2007 Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty

It is thought that festivalgoers will be encouraged to perform a “flash mob” set to the Bowie classic Starman, following similar events staged to the music of Dolly Parton in 2014 and Lionel Richie last year. One confirmed tribute is a set by the electronic pop four-piece Hot Chip in honour of Prince, the innovative American songwriter who came close to playing at the Somerset festival on several occasions and whose death in April was last week officially attributed to an opioid overdose.

Lemmy, whose band performed at last summer’s festival and who died in December, aged 70, will be honoured in a set involving a giant sculpture, although full details are yet to be divulged.

Last week Glastonbury announced 3,062 acts for this year’s festival, on at least 75 stages, with sources conceding that such has been the outpouring of emotion towards the three musicians that hundreds of tributes will unfold over the festival, including a generous number certain to incorporate Bowie and Prince cover versions in their sets.

“Some of the stuff we don’t even know about because there’s so much happening, particularly Bowie, because he was such a key character,” said a festival spokesman. “He wasn’t that well known when he first came down to play, and he actually stayed in the farmhouse.”

Among an increasingly long list of confirmed tributes to Bowie is the decorating of the Pyramid stage with a giant metal lightning bolt, a homage to the sleeve of his Aladdin Sane album, which will effectively double as a centrepiece for the festival, suspended above headline acts such as Coldplay, Muse and Adele.

On the Saturday night, American composer Philip Glass’s “Heroes” symphony, based on Bowie’s 1977 album, will be performed by conductor Charles Hazelwood, the British Paraorchestra and the Army of Generals, along with a “spectacular laser show” created by artist Chris Levine.

Glastonbury plans final encore for David Bowie, Prince and Lemmy
Lemmy of Motorhead performs at Glastonbury Festival in June 2015 Photograph: Samir Hussein/Redferns

Other Bowie tributes will take the form of several high-profile DJ sets, including one by the English producer Danny Howells.

Despite Glastonbury’s enduring popularity, the festival, which began in 1970 at Worthy Farm, could move to an alternative site. Its founder, Michael Eavis, revealed last week that he is discussing a possible move to Longleat in 2019 during Glastonbury’s “fallow year”.

However, some observers believe the deaths of stars like Bowie could signal the demise of the big British summer music festival.

According to the leading rock promoter and manager Harvey Goldsmith, who has worked with most of the western world’s biggest music stars – from the Who to the Rolling Stones and Madonna – the biggest problem is a lack of new bands to succeed the old ones.

Another sobering development is a warning from counter-terrorism officials who say fans at UK music festivals could be the target of the next major terrorist attack in Britain.


Ghostbusters reboot targets male viewers with new NBA-themed ads

Andrew Radion | , , , ,

Paul Feig’s female-led Ghostbusters got some support from NBA heavyweights during Game 1 of the Finals, in a likely effort to appeal to male audiences

Ghostbusters reboot targets male viewers with new NBA-themed ads
Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones – who you gonna call? Photograph: Frank Ockenfels/Columbia Pictures

For a summer comedy, Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot has had a uniquely hard time winning over some prospective audience members – largely because of Feig’s decision to alter the genders of the lead characters. The first trailer racked up more than half a million “thumbs down” votes on YouTube, making it the most disliked in YouTube history. Feig dismissed the controversy over the casting of four women in the lead roles as “vile, misogynistic shit”, while Ghostbusters vet Dan Aykroyd chimed in, praising the revamp as funnier and scarier than the originals.

Now, in a likely effort to lure in male viewers, Sony has paired up with the NBA for a new series of Ghostbusters promotional spots geared to basketball fans.

The two costly looking ads were launched during Thursday night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals on ABC between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porziņģis appeared in the east coast ad, shot in an empty Madison Square Garden, alongside Walt “Clyde” Frazier and film-maker Spike Lee. West coast audiences were treated to a promo led by recently retired Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant sporting a Ghostbusters jumpsuit at the Staples Center. “They said retirement was going to be boring,” Bryant scoffs in the ad.

Both promos notably don’t feature Feig’s new female quartet of ghost hunters: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.

Sony enlisted Bryant for the gig immediately following his retirement, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He was reportedly heavily involved in the commercial’s scripting process.

In recent weeks, Sony has also targeted female audiences by having the cast appear on Ellen, although the studio was reportedly not pleased when it learned that Hillary Clinton would be featured on the same episode. “All this attention is great, but I hope they realize that Slimer is not a registered voter,” Tom Rothman, chairman of the Sony motion pictures group, said in a statement.

Rock am Ring festival in Germany shuts as France braces for new storms

Andrew Radion | , , , , , ,

With Hollande poised to declare ‘natural catastrope’, Paris floodwaters recede but Louvre and train stations stay closed

Rock am Ring festival in Germany shuts as France braces for new storms
Visitors wade through mud at the Rock am Ring festival. Photograph: Thomas Frey/EPA

Authorities in western Germany have pulled the plug on one of the country’s most popular open-air rock festivals because of a storm warning.

Organisers of Rock am Ring said on Sunday they accepted the decision “out of responsibility for the welfare” of the roughly 90,000 attendants.

Scores of people were injured at the site near Mendig, 62 miles west of Frankfurt, when lightning and heavy rain struck the festival late on Friday. The German Red Cross said 72 people were treated in hospital. The festival was suspended after the incident but briefly reopened Saturday night, before the final decision to close it Sunday.

During a week of exceptionally heavy rain around Europe, at least 18 people were killed in flooding in Germany, France, Romania and Belgium. New thunderstorms are forecast for eastern France on Sunday and more rain elsewhere. More than 11,000 French homes are still without electricity.

The French president, François Hollande, told Europe 1 radio that the cabinet would formally declare a “natural catastrophe” on Wednesday to facilitate payout by the insurance industry. The downpours have added to the gloom caused by months of protests and strikes over a labour reform bill that have continued in the run-up to the 10 June kick-off of the Euro 2016 football championships.

In Paris, the riverside Grand Palais exhibition hall reopened on Sunday as floodwaters slowly receded but the Louvre museum, several train stations in city and roads remained closed after the worst floods in three decades.

Emergency crews were pumping water out of a key motorway interchange and evacuating cars trapped for days south of the capital.

Levels in the river Seine peaked on Saturday in Paris, and the national flood service said it would remain about 4 metres above normal on Sunday. Authorities warned it would take up to 10 days for the river to return to normal.

The flood risks along the Seine are moving downstream after forcing thousands out of their homes and houseboats earlier this week. West of Paris, it overflowed around the medieval city of Rouen overnight, but the local administration said on Sunday the damage was “localised and limited” and severe flood warnings for the area were lifted.

Alerts have also been issued in 15 other regions, including Île-de-France, where Paris is located, Lorraine in the northeast as well as parts of the country’s central areas.

Although Paris authorities warned people not to venture near dangerous parts of the river, crowds gathered on bridges to snap pictures of the dramatic sight. “It’s mind-boggling,” said Bente Wegner, a 25-year-old German, speaking near Notre Dame cathedral. “I’ve never seen it this high.”

She added: “We had to scrap plans for a boat cruise but at least we have some super photos.”

Pieces of driftwood, plastic bags and other detritus swept past in the muddy waters, which engulfed the city’s riverside walkways, a popular haunt of strolling couples. “It is a reminder that nature is more powerful than man and we cannot do anything, only wait,” said Gabriel Riboulet, a 26-year-old businessman, as he took in the scene.

Lightning strikes injure scores at Germany's Rock am Ring festival

Andrew Radion | , , , , ,

At least 71 people are injured and eight taken to hospital after severe electrical storms hit festival site near Frankfurt

Lightning strikes injure scores at Germany's Rock am Ring festival
Emergency services attend to the injured at the Rock am Ring festival. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

A rock music festival in Germany was halted for five hours after lightning strikes injured 71 people, and organisers urged more than 90,000 fans to seek shelter in cars and tents as another thunderstorm approached.

The sell-out Rock am Ring festival, now in its 31st year and with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Sabbath headlining this year, takes place at the airport in Mendig, near the Nürburgring motor racing track.

Festival organisers told a news conference that performances would resume after the storm blew over, and said they had warned about 92,500 participants to be prepared for bad weather before they arrived.

“We are not considering cancelling the festival,” said spokeswoman Katharina Wenisch.

A spokesman for the German Red Cross said 71 people were injured during the lightning strikes in the early hours of Saturday morning, including eight who were taken to hospital. Most were now in good condition, except one man who had to be resuscitated at the scene and remained in hospital, he said.

“The festival will continue as planned,” Marek Lieberberg, who runs the festival, told fans on the event website. He said the festival would continue to issue weather warnings on its site, Facebook and Twitter.

Organisers warned fans more severe thunderstorms were expected.

The event website had reported early on Saturday that at least 42 people were injured, eight seriously. The numbers rose as more fans reported injuries in the early hours, according to a police spokesman.

Thirty-three people were injured by lightning strikes at the festival last year, according to German media.

Wenisch said the festival had been sold out for months.

Fox apologises for X-Men billboards showing Jennifer Lawrence being strangled

Andrew Radion | , , ,

Posters showing Lawrence’s character Mystique being strangled by Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse widely criticized

Fox apologises for X-Men billboards showing Jennifer Lawrence being strangled
Jennifer Lawrence at X-Men Apocalypse premiere. Film company 20th Century Fox has apologised for a billboard featuring Lawrence’s character Mystique being strangled. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock

Film company 20th Century Fox has apologised for a billboard that features Jennifer Lawrence’s X-Men: Apocalypse character Mystique being strangled.

The imagery of Oscar Isaac’s character Apocalypse choking Mystique is sometimes accompanied by the tagline: “Only the strong will survive”. Actor and filmmaker Rose McGowan said there was “a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is a way to market a film”.

In a statement, Fox said in highlighting the villainy of Apocalypse, “we didn’t immediately realise the upsetting connotation of this image in print form”.

The studio apologised and said it was removing promotional materials with the image. Fox added it “would never condone violence against women”.

McGowan shared a Facebook post criticising the posters with the comment, “Fuck this shit”.

Fox apologises for X-Men billboards showing Jennifer Lawrence being strangled

“There is a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is the way to market a film,” she elaborated in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

“There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled. The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and, frankly, stupid.”

She quoted a friend’s discussion of “the brutality of that hideous X-Men poster” with his nine-year-old daughter.

“Her words: ‘Dad, why is that monster man committing violence against a woman?’ This from a 9-year-old. If she can see it, why can’t Fox?”

Amber Heard suing man who said her Johnny Depp abuse claims are blackmail

Andrew Radion | , , ,

In a defamation suit filed against the comedian and Depp’s close friend Doug Stanhope, Heard also makes more allegations against her estranged husband

Amber Heard suing man who said her Johnny Depp abuse claims are blackmail
Amber Heard was recently granted a restraining order from Johnny Depp. Photograph: Joel Ryan/AP

Johnny Depp’s estranged wife Amber Heard has hit back in a defamation lawsuit against a comedian who accused her of blackmailing her actor husband with false spousal abuse allegations.

In the new suit, filed on Friday against Doug Stanhope in Arizona superior court and his team of 20 unnamed defendants, Heard also makes more allegations against Depp.

A day after Heard granted a restraining order against Depp, whom she filed for divorce from and accused of repeatedly physically assaulting her, the Wrap posted a guest column by Stanhope, a close friend of Depp’s, with the headline: Johnny Depp is Being Blackmailed By Amber Heard – Here’s How I Know.

In the strongly worded article, Stanhope accuses Heard of “threatening to lie about [Depp] publicly in any and every possible duplicitous way if he didn’t agree to her terms” and alleges that his friend “got used, manipulated, set up and made to look like an a–hole”.

Heard is filing claims that Stanhope’s accusation that she fabricated her domestic abuse allegations against Depp to squeeze money out of the actor are “completely false”.

“Heard never undertook any action that could even remotely be described as ‘blackmail’,” reads the suit.

Heard, who met Depp on the set of the 2011 comedy The Rum Diary, is seeking the “maximum possibly jury award”, which she plans to donate to a domestic violence charity in Arizona “in an effort to counter the setback made to women by the defendants’ defamatory article and related wrongful acts,” according to her lawyer, Charles J Harder.

“The complaint alleges that Stanhope is a close friend of Johnny Depp and, as part of a coordinated effort, wrote a highly defamatory article about Ms Heard, filled with completely false, highly defamatory and very hurtful statements,” Harder said in a statement.

“Defendants are engaged in a classic case of ‘attacking the victim,’ in an effort to discredit Heard, destroy her good name and reputation, and severely harm her hard-earned entertainment career, on top of the campaign of violence that Depp has inflicted upon her for years,” the suit alleges.

Heard also calls Depp “an alcoholic and drug addict”, (mirroring what she said in her declaration for a restraining order), while adding that his substance abuse has increased over the years. Heard also accuses Depp of hitting and kicking her on “multiple occasions”. The suit states that he had “thrown objects” at her and “suffocated” her such that she “feared for [my] life”.

“During their marriage, Heard gave Depp numerous chances to get and stay sober and change his violent behavior towards her,” the suit reads. “When she finally realized that Depp was not changing his behavior, and to avoid further injury and risk to her life, Heard took the very difficult step of filing for divorce and seeking a protective order.”

According to a statement from Heard filed in support of the restraining order, the actor alleges several incidents of domestic violence by Depp in the past six months, including one incident in April on Heard’s birthday, in which Depp threw a magnum-sized bottle of champagne at the wall and a wine glass at her, then grabbed her by the hair and shoved her to the floor.

In her statement, Heard said that “during the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me. I endured excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse from Johnny, which has included angry, hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults to me whenever I questioned his authority or disagreed with him.”

Depp’s lawyers have responded by claiming that “Amber is attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse.”


Peta releases Prince's pro-vegan track, Animal Kingdom

Andrew Radion | , , ,

The charity encourage Prince fans to celebrate his birthday by going ‘vegan to see how much better they feel and to honor his kind legacy’

Peta releases Prince's pro-vegan track, Animal Kingdom
Prince performs during the halftime show of the NFL’s Super Bowl Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

Prince would have turned 58 next week. To mark the occasion, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) is releasing a free download of his pro-vegan song Animal Kingdom, which he recorded for the charity nearly two decades ago.

The track– which is available to stream now via the Peta website – is a stripped-back, spacey acoustic number. His voice distorted, Prince sings the lyrics: “No member of the animal kingdom ever did a thing to me / It’s why I don’t eat red meat or white fish / Don’t give me no blue cheese / We’re all members of the animal kingdom / Leave your brothers and sisters in the sea.”

The late musician had been a long-time supporter of animal rights, and donated the song to Peta for its 20th anniversary in 1999. Mayte Garcia, Prince’s ex-wife, who is working alongside the charity, has said that they would mark his birthday every year, encouraging Prince fans to make a “veg pledge” and go vegan in support of his legacy.

“Prince didn’t want to celebrate birthdays, but to live life, to elevate and educate to the next level of enlightenment,” said Garcia. “My mission every 7 June is not only to celebrate his birth, but also with Peta to remember this man by making 7 June a day where Prince fans go vegan to see how much better they feel and to honour his kind legacy.

“Prince said ‘compassion is an action word with no boundaries’, and that’s our message with this campaign, which everyone can participate in.”

Earlier this week, an autopsy report showed Prince’s death in April was from an accidental overdose of the prescription painkiller fentanyl. The results are said to have surprised friends and family members, who said Prince avoided alcohol and drugs and maintained a healthy lifestyle.

Fairport Convention's Dave Swarbrick dies at 75

Andrew Radion | , , ,

Virtuoso fiddler who found fame as a member of Fairport Convention has died after struggle with emphysema

Fairport Convention's Dave Swarbrick dies at 75
Dave Swarbrick playing at the Cropredy festival. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe for the Guardian

Folk musician Dave Swarbrick has died at 75, his family have announced. Best known for his work with the hugely influential folk group Fairport Convention, Swarbrick was a virtuosic violin player and one of the most highly regarded musicians of the 1960s folk revival. He also wrote, arranged and sang, and performed on the viola, mandolin and mandola, and guitar.

Swarbrick – known as “Swarb” – began his musical career as a guitarist in a ceilidh band in the late 1950s, before joining the Birmingham-based Ian Campbell Folk Group as a fiddle player. He first worked with Fairport Convention in 1969 as a session musician, subsequently becoming a member of the group, and was the first fiddler on the UK folk scene to electrify the violin. His writing and playing was a key ingredient in the group’s Liege & Lief album, a record that rewrote the folk landscape with its electrified versions of traditional English folksongs.

During the 1970s, alongside his leading role in Fairport Convention, Swarbrick became a sought-after session musician, working with acts including Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, Bert Jansch and Martin Carthy. Between 1976 and 2010 he released 12 solo albums, and in 2007 joined the 1969 Fairport Convention lineup (with Chris While standing in for the late Sandy Denny), to perform the Liege & Lief album in full.

Fairport Convention's Dave Swarbrick dies at 75
Fairport Convention in 1970, l to r Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg (behind), Simon Nicol, Dave Mattacks and Richard Thompson. Photograph: Jim McCrary/Redferns

Swarbrick suffered from emphysema, underwent three tracheotomies and was on occasion forced to perform with an oxygen canister on stage to help with his breathing. During one of his spells in hospital in 1999, the Daily Telegraph prematurely announced his death and published his obituary. At his next public appearance, he apparently took delight in signing copies of the obit for fans, saying: “It’s not the first time I’ve died in Coventry.”

In 2004 he received a double lung transplant, and in recent years continued to record and perform live; a 2006 collaboration with Martin Carthy produced the critically acclaimed album Straws in the Wind and won the duo a BBC folk award. “I’ve always loved working hard and playing live,” said Swarbrick in a 2004 interview in the Guardian.

Ben Affleck's Batman film will be 'original story' independent of comics

Andrew Radion | , , , ,

The current Dark Knight reveals his own project will ‘borrow certain things from the great comic books’ but will ultimately set its own course

Ben Affleck's Batman film will be 'original story' independent of comics
Ben Affleck in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Photograph: Supplied by LMK

Ben Affleck has revealed that his upcoming Batman film will probably tell a completely “original story”, and not be based on an existing comic.

The actor, who starred in Zac Snyder’s critically maligned but commercially successful spring blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, will reprise the role in the character’s new solo outing, as well as write and direct the picture.

He’s also set to play the Dark Knight in two Justice League movies, in which he will team up with Henry Cavill’s Superman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. It’s rumored that Affleck’s Batman will factor somehow into this summer’s Suicide Squad, which will see Jared Leto play the Joker and is based on the successful DC Comics of the same name.

The as-yet untiled Batman film will mark Affleck’s first stab at directing a superhero picture. His last film as director, 2012’s Argo, won the Oscar for best picture.

Asked if he planned on adapting a classic Batman comic arc such as A Death in the Family or Under the Red Hood, Affleck told Cines Argentinos that he seeks to “borrow certain things from the great comic books, but create an original story around it”, much like Snyder did with Batman v Superman, which very loosely used elements from Frank Miller’s acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns comic.

The Hollywood Reporter suggests Affleck’s Batman could arrive in cinemas for either 5 October 2018 or 1 November 2019 (both dates have been set aside by Warner for unspecified comic book movies).

In other Batman news, Warner Bros has debuted the first trailer for the extended cut of Batman v Superman, which runs a full 30 minutes longer than the theatrical cut and boasts an R-rating (the film that played in theaters was rated PG-13).

The preview includes a glimpse of actor Jena Malone, who was nixed from the version that played in cinemas. The Ultimate Edition will be available on 28 June.

Madonna wins Vogue copyright case in US appeal court

Andrew Radion | , , ,

Court sides with singer in copyright lawsuit that alleged a producer had copied horn arrangement used in 1990 hit

Madonna wins Vogue copyright case in US appeal court
A still from the video to Madonna’s 1990 hit. Photograph: Rex Features

Pop star Madonna has prevailed in a copyright lawsuit concerning her song Vogue in which the plaintiff alleged that a producer had copied a fraction of a second of a horn arrangement from an earlier song and used it in the 1990 hit.

A US appeal court ruled yesterday that a general audience would not recognise the 0.23-second snippet in Vogue as originating from the song Love Break by the Salsoul Orchestra. The plaintiff, VMG Salsoul LLC, which owns the copyright to the song, could not immediately be reached for comment.

One of the producers of Vogue, Shep Pettibone, also recorded Love Break in the early 80s, according to the court ruling. VMG Salsoul alleged that Pettibone had sampled the “horn hit” from the earlier work and added it to Vogue.

Three judges of the 9th circuit court of appeals ruled 2-1 in favour of Madonna, Pettibone and other defendants including Warner Bros Records. The dissenting judge, Barry Silverman, said even a small sample of music used without a licence should be ruled a violation.

Ennio Morricone signs record deal with Decca aged 87

Andrew Radion | , ,

Italian composer follows recent Oscar win with deal for compilation album Morricone 60, to be performed with Czech National Symphony Orchestra

Ennio Morricone signs record deal with Decca aged 87
Not to old for this hit … Ennio Morricone

At 87 years old, most musicians might be thinking of putting their feet up and taking stock of their career … but not Ennio Morricone. The Italian composer, famous for his film scores, has just announced a new deal with Decca Records, celebrating six decades of music making. The deal comes off the back of Morricone’s first ever Oscar win, which he won in February for his soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s western The Hateful Eight.

Morricone will curate a greatest hits album, entitled Morricone 60, later this year. It will span his entire career, from spaghetti westerns such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West to other hits such as The Mission and Cinema Paradiso. The album will feature new recordings with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

In a statement, Morricone said: “After the success of The Hateful Eight score, I’m delighted to be returning to Decca with my own record deal – an extraordinary moment in my 60th professional anniversary year. It’s been a wonderful experience to be able to conduct my scores and to record these with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. The quality of their performance of my work is truly outstanding.”

Morricone is also due to play his first ever UK show outside of London this month, appearing at Blenheim Palace on 23 June as part of Nocturne Live.

Jake Gyllenhaal to star in adaptation of Tom Clancy's The Division video game

Andrew Radion | , , , ,

Jake Gyllenhaal will also produce big-screen version of record-breaking third-person shooter, his second gaming tie-in after 2010 flop Prince of Persia

Jake Gyllenhaal to star in adaptation of Tom Clancy's The Division video game
“Little Shop Of Horrors” Opening Night
NEW YORK, NY – JULY 01: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal attends the opening night of the New York City Center Encores! Off-Center production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at Manhattan Theatre Club at New York City Center on July 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images) Photograph: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Jake Gyllenhaal is set to star in a big-screen adaptation of record-breaking video game Tom Clancy’s The Division.

Gyllenhaal will also act as producer on the project, according to Variety. The video game, a third-person shooter, is gaming giant Ubisoft’s fastest-selling product, making $330m (£229m) within five days of its release in March.

The game is set in New York City during the outbreak of a virus, with the player taking on the role of an agent investigating while avoiding increased criminal activity.

The film would be Gyllenhaal’s second video game adaptation, after he took the lead in 2010’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The film was a critical and commercial failure.

The Division will also hope for a better response than Duncan Jones’s video game adaptation Warcraft, which has a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and faces an uphill struggle at the box office. Later this year, Michael Fassbender will take on the title role in Assassin’s Creed.

Gyllenhaal, after appearing in the disappointing dramas Southpaw and Demolition, will next be seen in Tom Ford’s thriller Nocturnal Animals, Boston Marathon tale Stronger and Bong Joon-ho’s monster movie Okja, in which he stars alongside Tilda Swinton.