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Global Citizen Festival

Hello all you coffee-lovers, here are the entertainment news stories that have been on my radar today…

* The New York Film Festival continues, and, much to the disappointment of many, the secret screening on Sunday night wasn’t Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Actually, it wasn’t really a disappointment – those who did have tickets still got to see the delightful While We’re Young, in which Ben Stiller plays an aging hipster. Until Interstellar lands, there is the online game for a little time-passing.

* Sticking with film festivals, the San Diego Film Festival this past weekend awarded best feature to Where the Road Runs Out. It’s billed as the first major feature film to come out of Equatorial Guinea, but it was directed by a South African, Rudolf Buitendach, and also stars South African-born, LA-based Stelio Savante, alongside Isaach De Bankolé (winner of a Cesar Award, akin to the French Oscars). It’s got chocolate, a love story and children involved, so that already looks like a winning combo.

* Turns out 60 000 people came out to Central Park for the Global Citizen Festival. This pic from Twitter user @Zellyanks helps put that number into context. I’m still on Cloud 9 from seeing No Doubt and Sting perform Message in a Bottle together.


* Chromeo spoke about their clothing range a few weeks ago, and now it’s available. Fresh from his NY Times Style profile, Dave 1 and his partner P-Thugg are releasing some pretty awesome men’s items, including a rad cheetah bomber jacket.

* If your Monday wasn’t rocked by the release of Aretha Franklin‘s Rollin’ in the Deep cover, then you may need a do-over. It’s the first single off the singer’s forthcoming record – an album of covers Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, coming out next month. Looking forward to Franklin’s inimitable take on some great tracks.

* Lorde released the soundtrack single for The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1, with a journal-like Tumblr entry here.

P.S. This past weekend I had such a ball at the Dumbo Arts Fest – so many wonderful things to do and see. I also stumbled upon the whimsical prints of Brooklyn-based Estonian artist, Kristiana Parn. Do check her out if you’re a fan of bunnies and lions and other such ‘cute’ animals.

Jay-Z headlining the Global Citizen Festival was always going to be a major drawcard. So too, the prospect of seeing No Doubt together again on stage, joined for a track by Sting. Adding Carrie Underwood, The Roots and Tiesto to the mix made Saturday’s line-up appealing enough to take on the Global Poverty Project’s initiatives to win tickets to their concert in Central Park. Beyond, of course, the aim itself of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

It made sense that Jay would have started his set with Empire State of Mind – as he did, after opening with a mash of Gil Scott-Heron’s NY You’re Bringing Me Down,  Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind, and Sinatra’s New York, New York.  But I didn’t expect just how magnificent the sound of 60 000 people singing along, hands up in the air, would be – an anthem for the Big Apple, performed live in the heart of the city that birthed its creator. A moment too big for even the fanciest of phone cameras to capture. So too, was Sting roping in No Doubt for Message in a Bottle, his voice harmonizing with Gwen Stefani’s, as that familiar bass-line reverberated through the trees, and the sliver of golden moon grew brighter against the backdrop of the NYC skyline. Ridiculously perfect.

I’d always hoped to see No Doubt perform live. Even before their wedded union, Gwen and hubby Gavin Rossdale, with his band Bush, together helped get me through many moments of teenage angst. I remember watching videos of Stefani jumping around the stage, sweat glistening from her perfectly-sculpted abs. Twenty years later, she wasn’t rolling around on the stage but the band still energetically spun through their back catalogue, from opener Hella Good to prize possession Don’t Speak and the ska-fuelled Hey Baby. Stephen Bradley on trumpet and keys helped keep that vibe lifted, literally jumping up and down all through the set.

When Jay took over the reigns, the hood of a Global Citizen Festival sweatshirt framing his face, he bounded through his hits, one after the other, Izzo (H.O.V.A), Big Pimpin’, I Just Wanna Love U, Tom Ford, in between thanking the crowd for coming out for “a beautiful cause.”

“If you believe in this movement, make some noiiiise,” he urged.

And the crowd obliged.

Jay’s was the only set that wasn’t interspersed with messages from Global Poverty Project ambassadors, Elmo or Hugh Jackman (oh, how we love Hugh) explaining the various problems exacerbating world poverty right now and what is being done to help, or the challenges being issued to world leaders and, in many cases, the positive responses issued to these. In between The Roots, fun. and Carrie Underwood, who all performed to fans who’d filled the park, were snippets of info and stats to go along with that. It helped the medicine, so to speak, go down a lot easier than the first year a concert was held when so many of the messages were dragged down by being too long and overwhelming.

Jay was impressing just fine, but then he pulled out the Bey card, and his wife came out to perform Holy Grail, singing, as she did on their On The Run tour together, the part of Justin Timberlake. If Central Park had a roof, it would have been blown off, such was the excitement at Beyonce’s arrival on stage. Together, they ended the show, once again, how they ended their tour, with Young Forever and images of their life together playing onscreen behind them. It was another one of those ridiculously perfect moments, when those 60 000 voices sang the Alphaville chorus, cellphones – and one or two lone lighters – illuminating the night sky.

Like, I said, ridiculously perfect.

What’s not perfect, as we know, is the state of the world right now. Many of the problems the Global Citizen Festival highlighted seem insurmountable, like the fact that 2.5 billion people in the world still don’t have access to proper toilets. But Saturday’s concert and the actions its presenters – from actress Olivia Wilde to Madiba’s grandson Ndaba Mandela – asked its audience to perform, made those problems feel a little less so. It’s like, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “Our world needs solar power and wind power, but I believe in an even stronger source of energy – people power.” After this year’s Global Citizen Festival, I’m a believer too.

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.