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Miss Ntertainment

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You could read a lot into the Jay-Z and Beyonce On The Run show. If, you’re like the man at JFK that sat next to me on the day the elevator story came out, who spoke in a concerned tone over the phone about the kerfuffle as if it had happened to real friends of his. You could read a lot into each look, each touch, each lyric sent out into the concert ether.

If, on the other hand, you’re just a fan who couldn’t care less about the gossip side of entertainment, you could just enjoy the show for what it is – two superstars bringing out the best of themselves, and the best in each other.

On Saturday night, the MetLife Stadium became Jay and Bey’s own personal picture-house, as On The Run spooled out onto the stage. The show opener, 03 Bonnie & Clyde, set the scene for their gun-toting, dirty-trick, drunk-in-love banditry, which played out over 2 and a half hours, and covered almost 40 hit tracks.

Mr and Mrs Carter are currently touring the US, but this date was a kind of homecoming for Brooklyn-bred Jay, who kept playing up the New York verses New Jersey portions of the audience, much to his delight.

Throughout the show, Bey provides the yin to Jay’s yang, as he does for her. The design of the show edits their songs deftly together – like having Bey sing Justin Timberlake’s refrain on Holy Grail, or splicing in a little Jackson 5 sample to help move Love on Top into Izzo. Or when Bey does this nifty little gun-and-horse dance into Jay’s Onto the Next One.

The juxtaposition also works for their life philosophies – when she’s telling you she woke up like this, he’s telling you to brush that which isn’t working for you off your shoulder. Their approach may differ but they know how to come out on top.

Bey still plays with the audience in the flirty way she does when she’s on her own – urging the crowd to sing along and giving a playful death-stare during Why Don’t You Love Me, taunting the audience into cheering louder. Jay, too, is all about business, letting his rhymes speak for themselves, bouncing his arms along to the beat, in whatever hat/beanie/hoodie he has matched along with the track.

But when they’re together, they bounce off each other, smoothing the edges a little – whether its Bey smiling and laughing next to Jay after a military-like precision dance sequence, or Jay, when she croons the Holy Grail bit, breaking stride to declare to the crowd, “Oh, she there for real.”

The part of the show that has made social media and tabloids ruminate on their marriage comes when Bey does Resentment, changing the lyrics to fit her and Jay’s relationship duration, followed by a fantastic cover of Lauryn Hill’s Ex Factor. When Jay picks up with Song Cry, it plays out like a response to her call. Especially when she says ‘forgiveness is the final act of love.’ But we’re reminded of the words that flash across the front of the stage at the opening of the show: This is Not Real.

Until, it is.

During the finale, when Bey comes out in a outfit that has a black and white American flag for a train, the images on the screen turn from the film noir scenes of bank robberies and getaway cars that have been playing as backdrop, to Blue Ivy and snippets of their wedding. Up until now, Bey and Jay have embraced characters, but at the end it all intersects with their real life, when they truly take off the masks they were wearing at the beginning of the show.

Or at least it looks like they do. Like I said, you could read more into it if you wanted to. For me, I enjoyed seeing, at Jay’s encouragement, the entire stadium hold up their phones and lighters, singing along to a mash-up – naturally – of Young Forever and Halo. It’s after that the words Die in Love and Life Forever blaze across the screen, as the credits figuratively begin to roll, and we’re left to marvel at this couple – Hollywood in every way.

HBO will be airing the concert in September. If you miss the actual tour, don’t miss seeing it televised.

 

Hello from Los Angeles, where I’m here to talk to Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal about a little Sex Tape they made… 

* Christian Bale plays Moses in Ridley Scott’s upcoming epic, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and we get to see a glimpse of him in this biblical role in the trailer that’s just been released. Bale stars alongside an almost unrecognizable Joel Edgerton as they battle it out over the releasing of slaves. The film is due out in December, while Scott has said he’s going to tackle another Bible story again soon – this time, David and Goliath.

* While we were sleeping/running/watching Orange is the New Black JK Rowling wrote a new Harry Potter story on her site Pottermore, which catches up with the cast of characters in the form of a gossip column, seven years after the last Potter book. This thrilled many fans, so understandably, the site crashed on Tuesday when it was published.

* The UN Women’s site crashed too, under the weight of the news that Emma Watson is going to be taking up a role in promoting gender equality as a Goodwill Ambassador. Executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (who happens to be an upstanding South African woman) says the young actress embodies all the values of UN Women.

* The Global Citizen Festival has consistently managed to secure big names for its Central Park concerts, but this year is going to even more spectacular. Jay Z, No Doubt and Tiesto will be headlining. If that isn’t incentive enough for fans to support the Global Poverty Project, but getting involved and sharing useful information, then, I guess I don’t know what is!

* Crosby, Stills & Nash…and Fallon. As part of their promotion for the release of an audio box set with 40 previously unreleased tracks, CSN joined Jimmy Fallon for a re-working of Iggy Azalea’s Fancywith Jimmy ‘guesting’ as Neil Young. CSN has said they’ll more than likely be recording a new album early next year, so the influential singers look like they still have more to give for years to come.

 

After a wonderful 4th of July weekend in NYC, it’s back to summer in the city programming, which still means anything can happen!

* Like Pink Floyd telling us they’re releasing a new album - the first in 20 years. Well, the news actually came via singer/guitarist David Gilmour’s wife’s Twitter status. Which is, I guess, the new press release of our modern times. The Endless River is due out in October, and is reported to be based on recording sessions that happened in 1994, when they last released The Division Bell. After all the years of acrimony and record-breaking, the group is still up for releasing more music – minus Roger Waters.

Transformers 4 hasn’t thrilled critics, but it has audiences in China and the film’s producers, as a result. It’s on track to become the number 1 film there, surpassing Avatar. With China growing in importance as a market, this means more of these kinds of blockbuster sequels, prequels et al will no doubt be coming out. Meanwhile in another galaxy, on a higher plane, Star Wars has added two more actors - newcomers – to Episode 7.

* Prince was among the artists who headlined The Essence Fest, giving audiences there a thrill when he teamed up with Nile Rodgers for a cover of Bowie’s Let’s Dance. 

* The much-talked-about Kara Walker exhibition, A Subtlety, or giant “Sugar Baby,” had its last day this past Sunday in Brooklyn. I managed to see it before the installation is destroyed and the historical old sugar mill razed for a new development, and what a sight it was to behold.

* It seems like every day there is an anniversary to celebrate – 10 years of this or that movie or album. But there is one anniversary in particular that’s a delight to rejoice in. Seinfeld‘s 25 years of laughs and one-liners is being marked now, and every one has their own way of celebrating – here’s The Hollywood Reporters’.

[Pic: The Division Bell, Pink Floyd]


I’d seen so many pictures of Kara Walker’s first ever public large-scale installation at the soon-to-be-destroyed old Domino Sugar Factory in South Williamsburg that I thought I’d knew what to expect. Leaving it to the last day of an exhibition is not always the wisest decision, but sometimes it can’t be helped. And that is how I found myself in one of those typical must-see-event-in-NYC-is-closing lines, 10 blocks long.

To the organizers Creative Time’s credit, it moved as swiftly along as lines go, taking about just over an hour to reach the entrance. As is the case in NYC, standing in lines can sometimes – not always, but many times – be a great exercise in humanity, as the man behind me bought me a water and the woman in front shared her sunscreen. 

Walking into the Sugar Factory, I was hit by the sheer size of A Subtlety - or the installation’s other name, The Marvelous Sugar Baby: an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant. She lay sphinx-like in the far end of the space, with a skylight shining onto her face. The smell quickly came over me – the unexpected pungency of too much sugar – and it made me even more startled by the space and what was inside.

There is so much that can be read and discussed and debated, and has been in the 3 months the installation has been up, about issues of race, and the legacy of slavery, and sugar consumption, and taste. The history of the Domino Sugar refinery, which was built in 1856, gave the US more than half of its sugar supply by 1870. That’s a history that is far too deep and intricate to go into in one visit, but Walker’s piece moved me in the sense that I felt empathy with the spirits, if you will, of those who toiled within the factory over the years.

It’s strange to say, but it felt like She was a living, breathing entity, in that space, as people milled about, taking pictures and, yes, selfies, next to her giant off-white frame (read here for thoughts about this weird modern-day phenomenon). I asked about the lines on her neck and back that were there, and a women working with Creative Time said they had formed because of the warmth of the room and the sunlight, making it look like the Sugar Baby was sweating, and so still ‘labouring’, if you will. It moved me to think of the human history of production within those walls.

That acrid smell of something I’ve only ever thought of as sweet and delightful was a strange feeling too. I appreciate Walker’s installation because it allowed me to go into a building I’ve only ever passed on runs in Brooklyn. The rest of the room is filled with small servant boy figures, made of molasses and resin, which are disturbing in the way they have been weighed down – some very literally broken – because of the substance.

Or at least they were. The exhibition is being demolished this coming week. The factory, soon after.

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For a video on Kara Walker’s Domino installation, click here

 

Hello! Team USA put on a valiant effort at the World Cup, but it was not to be. A little Nile Rodgers should help ease the pain…

* One can never get enough Bill Murray, especially when he’s playing curmudgeon characters at the centre of a story. After supporting roles in The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Monuments Men, he returns to the lead role in St Vincent, in which he plays neighbour to Melissa McCarthy’s character and her son (cute newcomer Jaeden Lieberher). In the trailer for the film, which is due out in October, we see Murray offer to babysit as a way to earn a little extra money. It looks like the kind of life-lesson movie I don’t mind sitting through – with the added bonus of a pregnant and Russian Naomi Watts.

* Sia‘s album 1000 Forms of Fear is streaming on iTunes ahead of its release next week. The album opens with the anthemic Chandelier, and includes the kind of ballads the Australian singer has become known for.

* Meanwhile, this summer jam, Do What You Want to Do, from Nile Rodgers is full of disco delight. The track was recorded in Ibiza last year, according to Rolling Stone, and auctioned off to raise money for the musician’s We Are Family Foundation. Good cause, good track, good summer!

* Google bought Songza, but didn’t pay nearly as much as the $3 billion that Apple paid for Beats. The future of the mix tape is here.

* Neil Gaiman‘s urban fantasy novel American Gods will be made into a TV series, thanks to Starz, after hitting a few snags at HBO. The team behind it seems to please the British author immensely, so it sounds like this may be a winning combination to provide the next big TV series hit.

Hello! Back in NYC after a fun weekend at the BET Awards in Los Angeles. Wish my airline had this safety video though…

* The big Beyonce news this week is the singer has dethroned Oprah in Forbes‘ annual 100 Most Powerful Celebrity list. The magazine speaks to lawyers, agents and others in the know, and then estimates the celeb’s earnings, mixes that in with a couple of other algorithms according to popularity, and hey presto, comes up with the list. Dr Dre is actually the person who earned the most – thanks to his $3 billion Beats-sold-to-Apple deal, but $150 million for Bey ain’t too shabby.

* A trailer is out for one of my favourite movies from Sundance this year. The Skeleton Twins stars Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader, who play suicidal siblings who haven’t been in touch with each other for 1o years. The film gives Wiig and Hader much more dramatic parts to play – considering they’re SNL alum – but it’s still got moments of great humour, as you can see by a glimpse of the lip-synching to Starship’s Nothing’s Gonnna Stop Us. The film is due out in September.

* Over the weekend Do The Right Thing celebrated its 25th anniversary with a block party in Brooklyn. With anniversaries being celebrated almost every other day it seems (like 10 years since Mean Girls was first shown), this is one truly worth commemorating for the impact it had on society (and the lack of honours it didn’t receive then).

* Bruce Springsteen will debut a short film he and documentary filmmaker Thom Zimny made, on his website, next Wednesday, called Hunter of the Invisible Game. This comes after a super-fan launched Blinded by the Light on Monday, an online museum in honour of the singer, with hundreds of artifacts collected from 30 years of fandom.

* And, thanks to Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here movie, we get a new song from Bon Iver to listen to, called Heavenly Father. The soundtrack, sure to become another Garden State-like classic, is out in July.

 

[Pic: Beyonce.com]

     

    The BET Awards are long. Almost four hours so. That’s two movies – or one, if you’re watching Transformers 4.

    But a lot happens in that time – young performers get a snippet of time to showcase their fresh skills (witness for 17-year-old Gabi Wilson), a noted Humanitarian is honoured, and a dozen awards are, of course, handed out. And a handful of solid performances are turned in too – highlighting the spectrum of the channel’s ethos.

    From Nicki Minaj’s Alice in Wonderland theme to Chris Brown’s kitsch cool backdrop for Loyal, the setup of Sunday night’s show was vibrant and the energy high. The collaborations – John Legend playing piano for Jhene Aiko and Travis Barker drumming for Brown’s dance moves – and the throwbacks, courtesy Troop, Color Me Badd and Silk, as well as Lionel Richie, who was given Lifetime Achievement Award, were fun. The tribute to the late Ruby Dee and Maya Angelou, done by the impeccable Phylicia Rashad, was everything most in memoriams aren’t – moving and sincere. Chris Rock made for a very entertaining host, with jokes about the Black World Cup and Brown’s new – plea – deal, that showed off just how on point his witticisms still are.

    My only gripe is that the Best International Act, Africa and UK, are not shown, or at least mentioned during the live show. But many of the awards aren’t – including the sports and movie awards. Although, Lupita Nyong’o’s category of Best Actress was announced, even though she wasn’t there to collect it. Nonetheless, as a South African, it’s been fantastic to watch Mafikizolo shine and represent my country, with their distinctive rhythm and style, during the BET Experience weekend.

    Mafikizolo's Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza during the BET Experience

    Mafikizolo’s Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza during the BET Experience

    The winners, then:

    Best International Act: Africa

    Davido (Nigeria)

    Best International Act: UK

    Krept & Konan

    Best Female R&B/Pop Artist

    Beyoncé

    Best Male R&B/Pop Artist

    Pharrell Williams

    Best Group

    Young Money

    Best Collaboration

    Beyoncé f/ JAY Z – Drunk In Love

    Best Male Hip Hop Artist

    Drake

    Best Female Hip Hop Artist

    Nicki Minaj

    Video of the Year

    Pharrell Williams – Happy

    Video Director of the Year

    Hype Williams

    Best New Artist

    August Alsina

    Best Gospel Artist

    Tamela Mann

    Best Actress

    Lupita Nyong’o

    Best Actor

    Chiwetel Ejiofor

    YoungStars Award

    KeKe Palmer

    Best Movie

    12 Years a Slave

    Subway Sportswoman of the Year

    Serena Williams

    Subway Sportsman of the Year

    Kevin Durant

    Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award

    August Alsina f/ Trinidad Jame$ – I Luv This

    Centric Award

    Jhené Aiko – The Worst

    FANdemonium Award

    Beyoncé

    [Pics: BET International]

    An evening spent in the company of Chromeo is one of the best ways to spend one’s Wednesday night – especially when it involves listening to stories behind the making of their new album White Woman and taking silly pics in a photo booth. Thanks to the Samsung Summer Mix Series, that’s how I spent mine.

    “An Arab and a Jew came together for the love of one god,” jokes Dave 1 about the origin and ethos behind Chromeo. “Rick James.” Cue the laughter. And it didn’t stop for the whole evening. Dave 1 and P-Thugg are truly easy to talk to, and just as fun-loving as the beats they create.

    The desire to “funk up the world” and pay homage to ZZ Top (who knew?!) has been driving them since they came together in high school, and the tap-your-toes-shake-your-booty music the Canadian duo produces. After releasing their third album, Business Casual in 2010, it took two years to make White Woman. P-Thugg moved to New York, and Dave 1 stopped his teaching gigs. “For two years every day, we were in studio – a rat-infested studio in Bushwick. We wanted it to feel like home,” jokes Dave.

    You can feel the difference that being together in the same studio, working on the same project, at the same time, had, believes Dave. Being open to collaboration, too. Tracks with Solange and Toro y Moi are some of the best on the album. “The credits read like a Kanye album,” chuckles Dave.

    Come Alive and Jealous were both inspired by Toro, aka producer Chaz Bundick. “Every girl he meets has such a crush on him,” says Dave. “But when I got into his music, I found he was really good. We’ve played with him a couple of times; he’s become an honorary third member of the band.”

    Jealous has just been certified Gold in Canada, making the guys suitably proud. “We wear our retro references on our sleeve but at the same time our music is now,” says P. Adds Dave: “A lot of people make sacrifices to get into the Top 40 format but we just made a quintessential Chromeo track.”

    That sound is fuelled by an aim of mixing high brow with low – high enough without being pretentious,not too low to be vulgar. “I can quote French literature and we can still do a video where just looking at a girl can make her pregnant,” explains Dave.

    I think that’s what I appreciate most about Chromeo: it’s a space where an unashamed love for songs that may not be so-called cool on the surface but are classics can thrive. I mean, ZZ Top – I had no idea that band was such an influence on Dave and P-Thugg.

    Jamiroquai, yes, and the guys say that producing that comeback album is their dream project. For now, the next part of this trip includes going on a fall tour – inspired by Frequent Flyer , and releasing a line of clothing.

    White Woman is out now.

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    It’s tempting to write YesYesYes when talking about NoNoNo, such is the joy their song Pumpin’ Blood brings. It’s a little ditty that brings with its catchy whistle-chorus a reminder of the blessing of being physically alive. Great for the physical act of running, I tell you. The trio played its third ever show in New York City on Tuesday night at the Box, as part of a Nylon/Steve Madden event.

    The night was an opportunity for Nylon to show off its Haim-covered music June/July issue, and also for fans of NoNoNo to see what else the trio has in its repertoire, other than Pumpin’ Blood. Much like one of the other contenders for the ultimate jam of the US Summer - Am I Wrong from Nico & VinzPumpin’ Blood was released in April last year. It’s taken a year for the song to go from bubbling under to charting and being Glee-fied (or should that be Glee-arized. Perhaps just neither.)

    Like Nico & Vinz too, NoNoNo is also a Scandinavian outfit, hailing from Sweden. Its lead by Stina Wäppling, who likes to wear her hair in a giant almost-to-the-side pony, and production team Astma & Rocwell.

    The song, which has spawned a bunch of different remixes, was the second last song in the group’s set of 6 tracks. I came to Pumpin Blood via a Jane Doze remix, which actually strips away the whistle and it still sounds just as affirming, if not more. Jungle and Fire Without a Flame  have a great energy on stage too, led by the vibrancy of the live guitar and Stina’s woh-oh-oh cooing.

     NoNoNo have an EP out on iTunes.

     

    While the Queen has been visiting the set of Game of Thrones in Belfast, we’ve been taking a moment to pause and reflect…

    * It’s a truly sad day for family, friends and fans of Eli Wallach. The 98-year-old actor has been part of movie history for 60 years, acting in so many classic roles. Despite that, the NYT notes, he had never been nominated for an Oscar, although he did receive an honorary one just before his 95th birthday. But his legacy far surpasses the value of any statue.

    * It’s been five years since Michael Jackson died at his Los Angeles home. For fans in South Africa, the news came in the middle of the night, after a euphoric soccer game that had set the stage for the World Cup the following year. With his music still on the charts, the drawn-out court case over Conrad Murray’s responsibility in his death, and the resurgence of high-pitched male vocals, many agree it doesn’t feel like he’s gone.

    * First Lady Michelle Obama is due to give the keynote address for the Grammy Museum‘s first ever Jane Ortner Education Award luncheon next month. It’s an initiative that recognizes teachers who make outstanding use of music in their classrooms, and encourages them to share their lesson plans. Mrs O, who has been involved in a host of music benefits, will speak, while Janelle Monae will perform.

    * Jay-Z and Beyonce kick off their On The Run tour together in Miami on Wednesday night. The 19-date run is on track to make at least $100 million dollars, according to Billboard, and it could end up being the most successful tour of the year. That wouldn’t surprise anyone, right?

    * With the tagline, “War never ends quietly”, comes the trailer for Brad Pitt’s next movie Fury, in which he leads a tank unit in battle against Germans during World War 2. It also stars Logan Lerman who was the lead in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and he appears to be a wallflower no more in this role. It’s directed by David Ayer who wrote Training Day and made End of Watch, so expect it to be a little more than the usual world war fare.

    Hello – we begin with news from the Purple Pancake One…

    * It turns out Prince has a whole other album of music ready to go - aside from the one he has recorded with 3rdEyeGirl, Plectrum Electrum, which has still not been released. The singer played Jon Bream from the Star Tribune music from this new ‘other’ album, which includes a song he has done with British pop-star Rita Ora. Let’s just declare a Prince day and have all the music come out at once already – no more waiting!

    * HBO’s new show, The Leftovers, had its premiere in NY on Monday night. The series, written by Damon Lindelof, based on a book by Tom Perrotta, stars Liv Tyler and Justin Theroux, so Jennifer Aniston was there. My friend who was there says this series, which takes place in the wake of the “Rapture”, with all the people who were ‘left behind’, is his new obsession. Lindelof hooked us with Lost, so I’m sure it’ll be worth watching.

    * Diane Von Furstenberg is trying to help Google Glass look a little better with her designs for the eyewear. But as Slate points out, not even the celebrated designer can do much to mask the fact that people are still wearing little cameras on their faces. I’ve been seeing more people wearing them around New York, but not enough yet to make it even remotely inconspicuous.

    * With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, releasing in November, the filmmakers have released some pretty cool posters for the next installment. One the film’s official site, the District Heroes pose in pics that show off their skills and talents.

    * Tony award winner Neil Patrick Harris has a book coming out and it’s not called The Playbook or the Bro Code. But it is a playful take on the autobiography with a choose-the-adventure flavour to it. Those books were so much fun to read as kids, and NPH is so much fun, so it’s a winning combination really.

    [Pic: HBO]

    Hello! Hope your weekend was as exciting as the World Cup matches between Germany and Ghana, and the USA and Portugal. Pure entertainment right there.

    * 22-year-old British singer Sam Smith is truly on his way to conquering the US, on the back of his album release, In the Lonely Hour, and a Top 10 charting single on the Billboard 100. But if you still need convincing, listen to this gorgeous cover he did of Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know for SiriusXM.

    * The Young and The Restless (still not yet The Old and The Tired *badam bam*) won 6 awards overall, including best drama series, at the Daytime Emmy Awards. Ellen DeGeneres won outstanding entertainment talk show, while Steve Harvey won outstanding informative talk show and also game show host. The “other” Emmys take place in August.

    *  Late Friday afternoon, the news came out that Rian Johnson, director of sci-fi movies like Brick and Looper (starring his main man Joseph Gordon-Levitt) will be directing the next new Star Wars movie, following on from JJ Abrams who’s currently filming Episode 7. It’s a great move because it means the producers are entrusting an up-and-coming talent like Johnson, who has shown a little bit of what he can do, to now go all the way and truly impress with a bigger name title. Johnson used a clip from the movie The Right Stuff to express his feelings on the news.

    * Monty Python fans will have a one-stop spot to share all their memorabilia (digitally, that is) when the fan-club for the troupe launches, at the same time that the reunion run kicks off, next Tuesday. The Monty Python SPAM Club sounds like it could be the place to find out answers to long-held questions. Or, in true Python-style, not. Wacky, yes, but totally in keeping with the comedians sensibilities, as one of England’s biggest entertainment events of the year prepares to take to the stage for 10 last live shows.

    * And in this weekend’s box office wars, Think Like a Man Too ruled – with Jersey Boys and How To Train Your Dragon 2 following behind, and the way it looks right now, 3 sequels are at the top of the current box office.

    [Pic: SamSmithWorld.com]