Netflix to Charge an Additional $8 Month for Viewers Living Outside US Subscribers’ Households 

The Netflix logo at the Netflix Tudum Theater in Los Angeles, California, on September 14, 2022. (AP)
The Netflix logo at the Netflix Tudum Theater in Los Angeles, California, on September 14, 2022. (AP)
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Netflix to Charge an Additional $8 Month for Viewers Living Outside US Subscribers’ Households 

The Netflix logo at the Netflix Tudum Theater in Los Angeles, California, on September 14, 2022. (AP)
The Netflix logo at the Netflix Tudum Theater in Los Angeles, California, on September 14, 2022. (AP)

Netflix on Tuesday outlined how it intends to crack down on the rampant sharing of account passwords in the US, its latest bid to reel in more subscribers to its video streaming service as its growth slows.

To combat password sharing, Netflix said it will limit US viewership of its programming to people living in the same household. Those who subscribe to Netflix’s standard or premium plans — which cost $15.50 to $20 per month — will be able to allow another person living outside their household to use their password for an additional $8 per month, a $2 discount from the company’s basic plan.

Without providing details how it authenticates subscriber identities or accounts, Netflix assured that everyone living in the same household of a US customer will still be able to stream TV series and movies “wherever they are — at home, on the go, on holiday.”

The company based in Los Gatos, California has roughly 70 million US accountholders.

The long-anticipated move, telegraphed by Netflix a year ago, seeks to end a practice that the company allowed to go unchecked for years while its streaming service was attracting subscribers in droves. At that time, management had little incentive to risk riling customers by reining in password sharing.

While Netflix looked the other away, an estimated 100 million people worldwide were getting passwords from family and friends to freeload on Netflix TV series such as “The Crown” and films such as “All Quiet On The Western Front.” Those passwords were funneled through Netflix’s 232.5 million worldwide paying subscribers, who generated the bulk of the company’s $32 billion in revenue last year.

But after a year of lackluster subscriber growth that included its largest customer losses in more than a decade, Netflix is putting its foot down.

In February, it began blocking freeloading viewers in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain, following similar moves in Latin America.

Before the crackdown on password sharing, Netflix began introducing features, such as the ability to transfer the profiles set up on subscriber accounts to make it easier for people to retain their viewing histories after they are no longer able to watch shows for free.

Netflix’s effort to force more of its viewers to pay for access to its programming follows the launch of a $7 monthly plan that inserted commercials into its service for the first time. Netflix has picked up an additional 9 million worldwide subscribers since the ad-supported option debuted, although not all of those signed up for the low-priced plan.

Although the new US surcharge for viewers living outside subscribers’ households is less than Netflix’s basic streaming plan, it comes at a time that Americans have been paring their discretionary spending because of high inflation. That inflationary squeeze, combined with more competition from other streaming services, is one of the main reasons Netflix has suffered a slowdown in growth.

Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters acknowledged last month that the crackdown on password sharing is likely to trigger an uptick in subscriber cancellations, but expressed confidence the company will be better off in the long run after people adjust to the clampdown.

“We see an initial cancel reaction, and then we build out of that both in terms of membership and revenue as borrowers sign-up for their own Netflix accounts,” Peters assured analysts, citing how the crackdown has unfolded in Canada since February.

Netflix’s shares fell 2% Tuesday to close at $355.99. The stock remains up by about 20% so far this year.



Heart, the Band That Proved Women Could Rock Hard, Reunite for a World Tour and a New Song

Nancy and Ann Wilson of the classic rock band Heart perform in concert at the American Music Theater on Monday, March 24, 2014, in Lancaster, Pa. (AP)
Nancy and Ann Wilson of the classic rock band Heart perform in concert at the American Music Theater on Monday, March 24, 2014, in Lancaster, Pa. (AP)
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Heart, the Band That Proved Women Could Rock Hard, Reunite for a World Tour and a New Song

Nancy and Ann Wilson of the classic rock band Heart perform in concert at the American Music Theater on Monday, March 24, 2014, in Lancaster, Pa. (AP)
Nancy and Ann Wilson of the classic rock band Heart perform in concert at the American Music Theater on Monday, March 24, 2014, in Lancaster, Pa. (AP)

Heart — the pioneering band that melds Nancy Wilson’s shredding guitar with her sister Ann’s powerhouse vocals — is hitting the road this spring and fall for a world tour that Nancy Wilson describes as “the full-on rocker size.”

“I’ve been strengthening. I’ve got my trainer,” she says. “You go one day at a time and you strengthen one workout session at a time. It’s a lot of work, but it’s the only job I know how to do.”

The Rock & Roll Hall of Famers who gave us classic tracks like “Magic Man,” “Crazy on You” and “Alone” will be playing all the hits, some tracks from of their solo albums — like Ann Wilson's “Miss One and Only” and Nancy Wilson's “Love Mistake” — and a new song called “Roll the Dice.”

“I like to say we have really good problems because the problem we have is to choose between a bunch of different, really cool songs that people love already,” says Nancy Wilson.

Like “Barracuda,” a sonic burst which first appeared on the band’s second album, “Little Queen” and is one of the band’s most memorable songs.

“You can’t mess with ‘Barracuda.’ It’s just the way it is. It is great. You get on the horse and you ride. It’s a galloping steed of a ride to go on. And for everybody, including the band."

The tour kicks off Saturday at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina, and will hit cities including Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit, as well as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. International dates include stops in London, Oslo, Berlin, Stockholm, Montreal and Glasgow.

The band's Royal Flush Tour will have Cheap Trick as the opening act for many stops, but Def Leppard and Journey will join for three stadium dates in Cleveland, Toronto and Boston this summer.

Ann and Nancy Wilson will be filled out by Ryan Wariner (lead and rhythm guitar), Ryan Waters (guitars), Paul Moak (guitars, keyboards and backing vocals), Tony Lucido (bass and backing vocals) and Sean T. Lane (drums).

The tour is the first in several years for Heart, which was rocked by a body blow in 2016 when Ann Wilson’s husband was arrested for assaulting Nancy’s 16-year-old twin sons. Nancy Wilson says that's all in the past.

“We can take any kind of turbulence, me and Ann, and we’ve always been OK together,” she says. “We’re still steering the ship and happy to do it together. So we’re tight.”

The new tour will take them to Canada, which was warm to the band when they were starting out as what Nancy Wilson calls “a couple of chicks from Seattle.” She recalls Vancouver embracing Heart, and touring in one van across Canada in the dead of winter on two lane highways.

The Wilson sisters broke rock's glass ceiling in the '70s and Nancy Wilson says they only had male influences to look to, like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Moody Blues.

Now she says she looks out and loves seeing generations of female rockers. “You have boygenius and you have Billie Eilish and you have Olivia Rodrigo and so many amazing women — Maggie Rogers and Sheryl Crow, who calls us her big influence. And then Billie Eilish might have Sheryl Crow as her influence. So it’s a really nice legacy to pass along. I like to say we’re the OG — the original gangsters — of women and rock.”

Heart has made it into the Rock Hall, won Grammys, sold millions of albums and rocked hundreds of thousands of fans but Nancy Wilson has one place she'd still like to shine.

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of their debut album, “Dreamboat Annie,” which was the same year that “Saturday Night Live” started. “So we’re actually kind of putting it out there — Heart never played on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ But what about the 50th birthday party with Heart?”


Netflix Beats Expectations on Profit and Subscribers

Netflix bet heavily on its content line-up, including "3 Body Problem," based on a Chinese trilogy of novels. MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
Netflix bet heavily on its content line-up, including "3 Body Problem," based on a Chinese trilogy of novels. MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
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Netflix Beats Expectations on Profit and Subscribers

Netflix bet heavily on its content line-up, including "3 Body Problem," based on a Chinese trilogy of novels. MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
Netflix bet heavily on its content line-up, including "3 Body Problem," based on a Chinese trilogy of novels. MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

Netflix topped earnings expectations Thursday, reporting that profit and subscriber ranks grew as its heavy bet on a rich content line-up paid off amid a crackdown on password sharing.
The leading streaming television service said it gained 9.3 million subscribers in the recently ended quarter, raising the total to 269.6 million.
Netflix reported a profit of $2.3 billion on revenue of nearly $9.4 billion in the quarter, compared to a net income of $1.3 billion on $8.2 billion in revenue in the same period a year earlier.
"Netflix continues to lay the smackdown on its competition," said Emarketer senior analyst Ross Benes.
"This signals that password sharing was even more common than previously thought as Netflix keeps converting freeloader viewers into paid users."
Company shares slipped more than 4 percent to $581 in after-market trades, apparently due to the company saying sales in the current quarter might be less than market expectations.
Netflix shares have climbed since the start of this year, but investors seemed wary of the company's ability to keep pumping up revenue and develop its nascent ad-supported tier into a meaningful money-maker.
The company launched an ad-subsidized offering last year around the same time as the crackdown on sharing passwords outside of homes.
Netflix is still in early days of building its ad business, and it remains a work in progress, according to co-chief executive Greg Peters.
'3 Body Problem'
Netflix unveiled a sprawling TV and film lineup for 2024 as it bet that must-see content would keep viewers paying for the streaming service.
In March, Netflix released keenly-anticipated "3 Body Problem."
The series was adapted from a best-selling Chinese trilogy of novels which take place in an alternate version of modern reality where humanity has made contact with an alien civilization.
Other shows due later this year include the eagerly awaited second season of "Squid Game" -- the dystopian Korean horror tale about a fictional, deadly game show which remains by far the most-watched Netflix TV series ever.
Also among a notably international lineup were a Spanish-language, Colombian-made TV series based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez's beloved novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude," and a six-part drama about the life of Brazilian racing great Ayrton Senna.
Britain's Prince Harry and his actress wife Meghan Markle are working on two nonfiction series with Netflix -- a lifestyle program and a show on professional polo, their production company announced earlier this month.
The couple, who split with the British monarchy in 2020 and now reside in California, signed a deal with the streaming giant that same year for multiple projects.
On the movie side, Eddie Murphy returns this summer in a new "Beverly Hills Cop" sequel.
"As Netflix becomes more entrenched as an entertainment industry juggernaut, it will seek to avoid adopting the complacency of the companies it has displaced," Benes said.
Netflix co-chief executive Ted Sarados said on an earnings webcast that the company "has no appetite for making fewer films" but is determined to make better films.
Fandom fueled
Sarandos said TikTok and YouTube short-form videos, while competing for viewing time in the big picture, have also revved up "fandom" with people sharing show snippets, memes, and commentary.
Those platforms have also helped Netflix spot talented storytellers that the streaming television service is keeping its eyes on, according to Sarandos.


Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Is Great Sad Pop, Meditative Theater 

US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift arrives for the 66th Annual Grammy Awards at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on February 4, 2024. (AFP)
US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift arrives for the 66th Annual Grammy Awards at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on February 4, 2024. (AFP)
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Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Is Great Sad Pop, Meditative Theater 

US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift arrives for the 66th Annual Grammy Awards at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on February 4, 2024. (AFP)
US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift arrives for the 66th Annual Grammy Awards at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on February 4, 2024. (AFP)

Who knew what Taylor Swift's latest era would bring? Or even what it would sound like? Would it build off the moodiness of "Midnights" or the folk of "evermore"? The country or the '80s pop of her latest re-records? Or its two predecessors in black-and-white covers: the revenge-pop of "Reputation" and the literary Americana of "folklore"?

"The Tortured Poets Department," here Friday, is an amalgamation of all of the above, reflecting the artist who — at the peak of her powers — has spent the last few years re-recording her life’s work and touring its material, filtered through synth-pop anthems, breakup ballads, provocative and matured considerations.

In moments, her 11th album feels like a bloodletting: A cathartic purge after a major heartbreak delivered through an ascendant vocal run, an elegiac verse, or mobile, synthesized productions that underscore the powers of Swift's storytelling.

And there are surprises. The lead single and opener "Fortnight" is "1989" grown up — and features Post Malone. It might seem like a funny pairing, but it's a long time coming: Since at least 2018, Swift's fans have known of her love for Malone's "Better Now."

"But Daddy I Love Him" is the return of country Taylor, in some ways — fairytale songwriting, a full band chorus, a plucky acoustic guitar riff, and a cheeky lyrical reversal: "But Daddy I love him / I'm having his baby / No, I'm not / But you should see your faces." (Babies appear on "Florida!!!" and the bonus track "The Manuscript" as well.)

The fictitious "Fresh Out The Slammer" begins with a really pretty psych guitar tone that disappears beneath wind-blown production; the new wave-adjacent "My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys" brings back "Barbie": "I felt more when we played pretend than with all the Kens / 'Cause he took me out of my box."

Even before Florence Welch kicks off her verse in "Florida!!!," the chorus' explosive repetition of the song title hits hard with nostalgic 2010s indie rock, perhaps an alt-universe Swiftian take on Sufjan Stevens' "Illinois."

As another title states, "So Long, London," indeed.

It would be a disservice to read Swift's songs as purely diaristic, but that track — the fifth on this album, which her fans typically peg as the most devastating slot on each album — evokes striking parallels to her relationship with a certain English actor she split with in 2023. Place it next to a sleepy love ode like "The Alchemy," with its references to "touchdown" and cutting someone "from the team" and well ... art imitates life.

Revenge is still a pervasive theme. But where the reprisal anthems on "Midnights" were vindictive, on "The Tortured Poets Department," there are new complexities: "Who's Afraid of Little Old Me?" combines the musical ambitiousness of "evermore" and "folklore" — and adds a resounding bass on the bridge — with sensibilities ripped from the weapons-drawn, obstinate "Reputation." But here, Swift mostly trades victimhood for self-assurance, warts and all.

"Who's afraid of little old me?" she sings. "You should be," she responds.

And yet, "The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived" may be her most biting song to date: "You didn’t measure up in any measure of a man," she sings atop propulsive piano. "I’ll forget you, but I won’t ever forgive," she describes her target, likely the same "tattooed golden retriever," a jejune description, mentioned in the title track.

Missteps are few, found in other mawkish lyrics and songs like "Down Bad" and "Guilty as Sin?" that falter when placed next to the album's more meditative pop moments.

Elsewhere, Swift holds up a mirror to her melodrama and melancholy — she's crying at the gym, don't tell her about "sad," is she allowed to cry? She died inside, she thinks you might want her dead; she thinks she might just die. She listens to the voices that tell her "Lights, camera, bitch, smile / Even when you want to die," as she sings on "I Can Do It with a Broken Heart," a song about her own performances — onstage and as a public figure.

"I'm miserable and nobody even knows!" she laughs at the end of the song before sighing, "Try and come for my job."

"Clara Bow" enters the pantheon of great final tracks on a Swift album. The title refers to the 1920s silent film star who burned fast and bright — an early "It girl" and Hollywood sex symbol subject to vitriolic gossip, a victim of easy, everyday misogyny amplified by celebrity. Once Bow's harsh Brooklyn accent was heard in the talkies, it was rumored, her career was over.

In life, Bow later attempted suicide and was sent to an asylum — the same institution that appears on "Who's Afraid of Little Old Me?" "Clara Bow" works as an allegory and a cautionary tale for Swift, the same way Stevie Nicks' "Mabel Normand" — another tragic silent film star — functioned for the Fleetwood Mac star.

Nicks appears in "Clara Bow," too: "You look like Stevie Nicks in ’75 / The hair and lips / Crowd goes wild."

Later, Swift turns the camera inward, and the song ends with her singing, "You look like Taylor Swift in this light / We’re loving it / You’ve got edge / She never did." The album ends there, on what could be read as self-deprecation but stings more like frustrating self-awareness.

Swift sings about a tortured poet, but she is one, too. And isn't it great that she's allowed herself the creative license?


Alec Baldwin's Criminal Case Hinges on Wild West Revolver

An undated photo of the reproduction 1873 long Colt .45 Single Action Army revolver actor Alec Baldwin was using on the New Mexico set of western movie "Rust" in 2021. Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS.
An undated photo of the reproduction 1873 long Colt .45 Single Action Army revolver actor Alec Baldwin was using on the New Mexico set of western movie "Rust" in 2021. Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS.
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Alec Baldwin's Criminal Case Hinges on Wild West Revolver

An undated photo of the reproduction 1873 long Colt .45 Single Action Army revolver actor Alec Baldwin was using on the New Mexico set of western movie "Rust" in 2021. Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS.
An undated photo of the reproduction 1873 long Colt .45 Single Action Army revolver actor Alec Baldwin was using on the New Mexico set of western movie "Rust" in 2021. Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS.

A Colt .45 "Peacemaker" revolver, a symbol of the American Wild West, is at the center of actor Alec Baldwin's fight to avoid criminal prosecution for the 2021 fatal shooting of "Rust" cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a New Mexico movie set.
Baldwin's 15-month battle with New Mexico state prosecutors is heading towards a July 10 climax when the actor is scheduled to face trial for involuntary manslaughter over Hollywood's first on-set shooting with a live-round in modern times.
The movie's weapons handler Hannah Gutierrez was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment on Monday for Hutchins' death. Baldwin's legal team is trying to have his indictment thrown out. His lawyers could seek a plea bargain if that fails.
But should the charge hold, Baldwin's trial is likely to focus on whether he pulled the trigger of his reproduction 1873 Colt .45 after he said he was directed - either by director Joel Souza or Hutchins - to point it at the cinematographer, according to different statements he made to the police and then to media.
Baldwin argues that Hutchins died due to a breakdown in film industry firearms safety protocol, which as an actor he was not responsible for. According to Reuters, he said it was not his job to inspect the gun and that he did not pull the trigger after Gutierrez mistakenly loaded a live round instead of an inert dummy.
Firearms and legal experts do not expect a Santa Fe, New Mexico, jury to necessarily see it that way.
In the Southwest United States, where gun ownership is routine, there is a cultural norm to check whether a weapon is loaded and never point it at someone and pull the trigger, according to Ashley Hlebinsky, executive director of the University of Wyoming Firearms Research Center.
Some local jurors may not differentiate between handling a gun on a movie set or in real life. Persuading jury members, especially gun owners, that the revolver went off on its own could be a hard sell, said the firearms historian.
Still, Hlebinsky sees a possible path to acquittal for Baldwin: namely, the argument his lawyers laid out in their motion to dismiss that the gun was modified to make it "easier to fire without pulling the trigger." That motion is now being considered by a judge.
"The defense just have to put doubt into the head of the jury," said Hlebinksy, who has acted as a firearms expert in court cases on single action Colt .45-type revolvers similar to the "Rust" weapon. "I think they can definitely do that."
CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS
It was six weeks after the Oct. 21, 2021 shooting that Baldwin said in an ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos that he did not pull the trigger of the Italian-made gun.
Days later, the actor told a New Mexico workplace safety inspector that the Pietta reproduction Colt Single Action Army revolver had no mechanical defect.
Baldwin's statement that the gun "went off" on its own, and his comment that it worked properly, are part of New Mexico state prosecutor Kari Morrissey's assertion that the "30 Rock" actor has "lied with impunity" about details of the shooting.
"They're going to have to walk back from that statement a bit," trial lawyer Neama Rahmani said of Baldwin's legal team.
The former federal prosecutor expected the actor's lawyers to frame the incident as "an accidental discharge," a term meaning the gun fired due to mechanical failure.
He said it was an unusual though not unheard of legal position, most often employed in cases where a defendant was seeking to reduce a charge from murder to manslaughter.
According to Baldwin's lawyers, someone filed down the full-cock notch of the long Colt .45 after it was supplied brand new to the production, to make it easier to fire.
Lucien Haag, an independent gun expert hired by the state, testified at Gutierrez's trial that the full-cock notch was worn down and broken off by FBI testing, rather than filing.
FBI tests of the gun found it was in normal working condition when it arrived at their lab in Quantico, Virginia, after the shooting. An investigator had to hit the hammer with a mallet to make it fire without pulling the trigger, the blows damaging the hammer and trigger, according to the FBI.
Baldwin risks jeopardizing his credibility if he changes his story on the trigger, said lawyer Kate Mangels. She expected him to continue to blame others for firearm safety failures as prosecutors accuse him of negligence, both as an actor and the film's most powerful producer.
"At this juncture it would be difficult for Baldwin's defense team to change course," said Mangels, a partner at entertainment law firm Kinsella Holley Iser Kump Steinsapir.
Hlebinsky, the firearms expert, said movie-set armorers she knows, who have seen pictures of the hammer on Baldwin's gun, are uncertain whether the full cock notch was worn down by mallet blows or filing. She expected Baldwin's legal team to find a firearms expert to testify it was the latter.
"I don't think anyone can say 100% what happened," she said of the gun.


‘I Was Afraid for My Life’ — Orlando Bloom Puts Himself in Peril for New TV Series

 This image released by Peacock shows Chris Copeland and Orlando Bloom in an episode of the television series "Orlando Bloom: To the Edge." (Peacock via AP)
This image released by Peacock shows Chris Copeland and Orlando Bloom in an episode of the television series "Orlando Bloom: To the Edge." (Peacock via AP)
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‘I Was Afraid for My Life’ — Orlando Bloom Puts Himself in Peril for New TV Series

 This image released by Peacock shows Chris Copeland and Orlando Bloom in an episode of the television series "Orlando Bloom: To the Edge." (Peacock via AP)
This image released by Peacock shows Chris Copeland and Orlando Bloom in an episode of the television series "Orlando Bloom: To the Edge." (Peacock via AP)

Orlando Bloom wanted to test himself for his latest adventure project. Not by eating something gross or visiting a new country. He wanted to risk death — with not one but three extreme sports.

The Peacock series “Orlando Bloom: To the Edge” sees the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star shoot through the sky thousands of feet above the ground, dive into a deep sinkhole and rock climb hundreds of feet.

“While I was at moments scared for my life during the show, having come out the other end of it I feel way more capable,” Bloom tells The Associated Press.

The series, which debuts Thursday, was born from the pandemic, which made outside adventures even more alluring. It met the perfect host in a man who is a natural risk-taker. When he made his Broadway debut in “Romeo and Juliet,” he roared onto the stage on a Triumph motorcycle.

“I’m like a collector of experiences in some ways,” he says. “I’ve been remarkably gifted and fortunate to have some unique ones, but this was definitely like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m capable of this. Therefore I can do anything.’”

First up was wingsuiting — skydiving in a special jumpsuit that adds lift so you can glide longer before opening your parachute. Bloom's goal was to jump out of plane at 13,000 feet (3,962 meters) fly 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) over the Pacific Ocean and land on the beach.

Then he heads to the Bahamas, to a 663-foot-deep (202 meters) hole in the ocean, with the aim of plunging to 100 feet (30.5 meters) on just one breath. After that, it’s off to Utah to climb a 400-foot (122 meter) tower and stand on a summit the size of a pizza box.

“We all experience fear. It’s how we face this fear that defines us,” Bloom says in the first episode. “I never feel so alive being so close to death.”

There were some heart-in-your throat moments, like on his seventh skydiving jump, where Bloom needed to activate his reserve chute, something that is necessary just 1 in 1,000 times. And for his 21st jump, he did it holding hands with his 80-year-old uncle, Christopher Copeland, a master skydiver.

Usually it takes 200 solo skydives before anyone is allowed to wingsuit but Bloom convinces his instructor in just two weeks. Katy Perry, his partner, is on hand for the first wobbly flight, embracing her man after he lands and lovingly calling him “a flying wombat.”

Bloom battles ear pain to attempt the 100-foot (30.5 meter) freedive and practicing a breath exercise leaves him in tears, struggling and sweating. Freediving turns out to require a slowing heart, conserving energy and relaxing — the opposite of most sports.

The rock climbing challenge sees a usual 2-3 year training process condensed into a week. There was added stress because Bloom broke his back in a fall in his 20s and really didn't want to do that again.

“Just remember if everything hurts and you want to puke, you’re doing it right,” an instructor helpfully tells him. Bloom also leans into his Buddhist belief, meditating and chanting in the run-up to each daredevil step.

Bloom joins a crowded field of adventure-seeking celeb TV hosts, which includes Eugene Levy, Zac Efron, José Andrés, Chris Hemsworth, Will Smith, Stanley Tucci, Macaulay Culkin and Ewan McGregor.

Bloom, already a guy who went to the gym twice a day, was a quick learner and even emerged with a skydiving license. But he had one-on-one help from experts usually out of the reach of regular thrillseekers, like Maureen “Mo” Beck, a gold medal at the 2014 Spanish Paraclimbing World Championships, and Camila Jaber, the youngest female freediver to break records.

Bloom credits his instructors for their patience, expertise and teaching him to trust them and their gear. His life was in their hands but very often, their lives were in his hands.

“It wasn’t just as simple as like, ‘I’m just going to go with the flow here.’ No, I learned the tools. There are protocols,” he says. “There is a framework with which I was working. And while I was doing that, I was able to get into a rhythm, into a flow, and achieve things that I never thought I would ever do in my lifetime.”

Bloom hopes viewers will tune in to see a novice achieve remarkable feats but also to inspire them to get outside their comfort zones, be it perhaps by managing public speaking or learning a new language.

“For me, the idea of the show was like, ’Well, what is it for you?” he asks. “What is your version of jumping out of a plane? It doesn’t have to be physical or death defying in some form or another.”

Bloom says he's in a happy place, with a good career, a loving partner and great children. That made the stakes even higher for the new series.

“I’m very grateful for my life,” he says. “I’m even more grateful having survived ‘Orlando Bloom: To the Edge.’”


Planned Disneyland Expansion in California Clears Major Hurdle 

The Sleeping Beauty Castle is pictured at dusk at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, US, July 24, 2021. Picture taken July 24, 2021. (Reuters)
The Sleeping Beauty Castle is pictured at dusk at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, US, July 24, 2021. Picture taken July 24, 2021. (Reuters)
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Planned Disneyland Expansion in California Clears Major Hurdle 

The Sleeping Beauty Castle is pictured at dusk at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, US, July 24, 2021. Picture taken July 24, 2021. (Reuters)
The Sleeping Beauty Castle is pictured at dusk at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, US, July 24, 2021. Picture taken July 24, 2021. (Reuters)

Plans to expand the Disneyland Resort cleared a major hurdle Wednesday, as local officials endorsed a new blueprint governing the development of Walt Disney's Southern California theme parks over the next 40 years.

The Anaheim city council approved a plan, called DisneylandForward, that one researcher estimated would create as many as 4,520 construction jobs per year of development and an additional 26,764 parks-related positions over the coming decades.

A second procedural council vote, to consider zoning changes, revisions in the city's development agreement with Disney and an analysis of environmental impacts, is scheduled for May 7. If adopted, the changes would take effect after 30 days, clearing the way for Disney to invest a minimum of $1.9 billion in new theme park experiences and lodging over the next decade.

Parks have become a reliable profit engine for Disney and have helped cushion losses in the Disney+ streaming business, which is expected to become profitable by September. The company last year announced it would deepen its investment in its parks, and double the capacity of its cruise line, committing $60 billion over the next decade.

Disneyland, the company's first theme park, opened in 1955. As it grew in popularity, the city of Anaheim approved plans that would govern its growth, creating zones designated for specific types of developments.

In 2021, Disney submitted a plan, dubbed DisneylandForward, which would give the company flexibility in how it could develop its 490-acre California property. Disney is looking to blend hotels, shops and attractions within the same themed world, as it has in Fantasy Springs, which opens June 6 at Tokyo DisneySea Park.

TELLING 'NEW STORIES'

The proposal calls for allowing theme park attractions alongside hotels on the west side of Disneyland Drive and theme park attractions alongside new shopping, dining and entertainment to the southeast on what is today the Toy Story Parking Area.

Dozens of members of the public addressed the council before the vote. Many voiced enthusiastic support for the job opportunities and revenue they expected the expansion to bring to the area. Some local residents, however, said they would be harmed by increased traffic and noise and the conversion of a public road known as Magic Way into a pedestrian walkway.

"A project like DisneylandForward will only further exacerbate the current problems," said Anaheim resident Trangdai Glassey. "To disregard the human costs from a project of this scope is unthinkable."

The company has not said what attractions and amenities it plans to add in California, though it has pointed to attractions found elsewhere, such as the new World of Frozen, where guests can experience the fictional world of Arendelle at Hong Kong Disneyland, or the "mammalian metropolis" of Zootopia at Shanghai Disneyland.

"With each new experience taking three to five years to come to fruition, DisneylandForward is an urgent need so we can determine what new stories could be told at The Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock wrote in an opinion piece that appeared in the Orange County Register.


‘Rebel Moon’ Sequel Offers More Action, Backstory of Warriors 

Zack Snyder, left, and Deborah Snyder pose for photographers upon arrival at the screening of the film "Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver" on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in London. (AP)
Zack Snyder, left, and Deborah Snyder pose for photographers upon arrival at the screening of the film "Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver" on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in London. (AP)
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‘Rebel Moon’ Sequel Offers More Action, Backstory of Warriors 

Zack Snyder, left, and Deborah Snyder pose for photographers upon arrival at the screening of the film "Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver" on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in London. (AP)
Zack Snyder, left, and Deborah Snyder pose for photographers upon arrival at the screening of the film "Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver" on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in London. (AP)

Zack Snyder says "Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver" shows his full vision for the franchise.

The second installment of the sci-fi adventure picks up from where "Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire", released four months earlier, left off.

It sees Sofia Boutella's character Kora and a group of rebel warriors team up with the people of Veldt, a peaceful farming moon, to ward off an attack from the tyrannical Motherworld and its resurrected, ruthless military leader Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein).

"I always knew that this was going to be like half a movie. Our whole idea was to get the movies out right next to each other so people could have the complete experience. And I think that's what we're really hoping for with this is that people get a chance to see the entire thing," Snyder said as he premiered the film in London on Tuesday.

Part Two also sees actors Djimonn Hounsou and Bae Doona reprising their roles as General Titus and Nemesis and Anthony Hopkins lending his voice to Jimmy the sentient robot.

The movie delves into the backstories of the warriors, laying out their motives to join the rebellion.

"It's going to be a lot more action and you get to go deeper with the characters and find out more about their pasts and what drew them to fight for this cause,” said Boutella.

Snyder, known for films including "Watchmen", "300", "Justice League" and "Man of Steel", directed, co-wrote and produced the movie, as well as serving as its cinematographer.

Director's cuts of the two films are expected in August, Snyder said, adding that he and writers Shay Hatten and Kurt Johnstad had also continued developing the story.

"That has been a real big adventure, for Shay and Kurt and I," he said.

"But then also, we've been working super hard on the director's cuts. Normally when I do a director's cut, it's in response to a cut that I was forced to make, where this was really from the beginning designed as a separate movie,” said Snyder.

“We shot a whole bunch of additional stuff and it was really fun to just actually make another movie. So it's been four movies, it's a little tiring.” he said.

"Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver" starts streaming on Netflix on April 19.


Red Sea Global, Warner Bros. Discovery Collaborate on Red Sea Coral Reefs Documentary

The film follows the journey of Saudi Arabian free diver Salma Shaker as she explores the coral research conducted by scientists at Red Sea Global and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). (Discovery)
The film follows the journey of Saudi Arabian free diver Salma Shaker as she explores the coral research conducted by scientists at Red Sea Global and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). (Discovery)
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Red Sea Global, Warner Bros. Discovery Collaborate on Red Sea Coral Reefs Documentary

The film follows the journey of Saudi Arabian free diver Salma Shaker as she explores the coral research conducted by scientists at Red Sea Global and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). (Discovery)
The film follows the journey of Saudi Arabian free diver Salma Shaker as she explores the coral research conducted by scientists at Red Sea Global and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). (Discovery)

Red Sea Global (RSG) and global media and entertainment company Warner Bros. Discovery will collaborate to produce a documentary on the impact of climate change on coral reefs, said RSC in a statement on Tuesday.

The documentary, "Beneath the Surface: The Fight for Corals", set to air on Discovery channel on Earth Day on April 22 will show RSG's efforts to protect the environment.

“In ‘Beneath the Surface: The Fight for Corals’, we aim to spotlight the beauty and vulnerability of these underwater wonders and emphasize the importance of global collaboration in preserving our oceans," said John Pagano, Group CEO at Red Sea Global.

The film follows the journey of Saudi Arabian free diver Salma Shaker as she explores the coral research conducted by scientists at Red Sea Global and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

The film transcends geographical borders, taking viewers as far as to the reefs in Mexico, offering a compelling narrative on the challenges facing coral reefs worldwide.

The film explores undiscovered reefs along Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastline.

Red Sea Global aims to unravel the mysteries of this unexplored territory, displaying its unique biodiversity and crucial role in supporting the global ecosystem. The documentary also delves into the potential benefits of coral research in the Red Sea for ecosystems globally.

Kerrie McEvoy, head of Factual Channels in Discovery Networks EMEA at Warner Bros Discovery, said: "Warner Bros. Discovery is proud to partner with Red Sea Global on 'Beneath the Surface: The Fight for Corals'. As a company, we believe in the power of storytelling to entertain and inspire change, and this film exemplifies that commitment."

The film features insights from a diverse group of experts to provide a comprehensive view of the current state of reefs globally, their significance in the marine ecosystem, and the ongoing efforts to protect them.

A first exclusive look at the film was shown during a side event at COP28 in Dubai, hosted by Red Sea Global, where a trailer was played for the guests.

The documentary will air on Discovery Channel across the US, Europe, Türkiye, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.


Broadway-Bound ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and Star Nicole Scherzinger Win Big at London’s Olivier Awards 

US singer Nicole Scherzinger poses on the green carpet upon arrival to attend The Olivier Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in central London on April 14, 2024. (AFP)
US singer Nicole Scherzinger poses on the green carpet upon arrival to attend The Olivier Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in central London on April 14, 2024. (AFP)
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Broadway-Bound ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and Star Nicole Scherzinger Win Big at London’s Olivier Awards 

US singer Nicole Scherzinger poses on the green carpet upon arrival to attend The Olivier Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in central London on April 14, 2024. (AFP)
US singer Nicole Scherzinger poses on the green carpet upon arrival to attend The Olivier Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in central London on April 14, 2024. (AFP)

A radical restaging of Hollywood film noir musical “Sunset Boulevard” was the big winner on Sunday at the London stage Olivier Awards, taking seven trophies including best musical revival and best actress for American star Nicole Scherzinger.

Soccer-themed state-of-the-nation drama “Dear England” was named best new play, while Sarah Snook and Mark Gatiss were among the acting winners.

Scherzinger was rewarded for her performance as fading silver screen star Norma Desmond in a flashy revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard,” three decades after the musical’s 1990s debut. Her co-star Tom Francis won the corresponding best actor prize as a struggling screenwriter fatefully drawn into Desmond’s orbit.

Jamie Lloyd took the directing trophy for the technically innovative production, which melds live video with the onstage action and also won Oliviers for sound and lighting design. It’s due to open in New York later this year, and Lloyd predicted it would “take Broadway by storm.”

Scherzinger said that when she was growing up in Kentucky, “I always wanted to be a singer and do musicals.”

“I dreamed of so many roles I wanted to do — and honestly this role, Norma Desmond, was not one of those roles,” she said. “But God works in mysterious ways.”

The prize for best new musical went to “Operation Mincemeat,” a word-of-mouth hit based on an audacious real-life espionage operation that deceived the Nazis during World War II. The show began life in a tiny theater in 2019 and has moved to progressively larger venues, gathering accolades along the way.

“Stranger Things: The First Shadow,” a dazzlingly staged prequel to the Netflix supernatural series, was named best new entertainment or comedy.

The Oliviers — the UK equivalent of Broadway’s Tony Awards — are celebrating a bumper year for new shows in the West End, finally bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic. Several winners lamented the soaring cost of theater tickets, and cuts to arts education that are squeezing working-class talent out of theatrical careers and theater audiences.

“If you don’t tell a kid to go and see a show ... they’re not going to develop that habit, they’re not going to get that experience,” said “Dear England” playwright James Graham, who grew up in a small mining town. “So I am really worried.”

But the mood was largely celebratory as “Ted Lasso” star Hannah Waddingham presided over an exuberant ceremony at London’s Royal Albert Hall, opening the show by belting out “Anything Goes” alongside the London Community Gospel Choir. The show was peppered with performances from several of the nominated musicals, including “Guys and Dolls,” “Hadestown” and homegrown hit “The Little Big Things.”

The prizes, which recognize achievements in theater, opera and dance, were founded in 1976 and named for the late actor-director Laurence Olivier. Winners are chosen by voting groups of stage professionals and theatergoers.

Snook – the scheming Shiv Roy in “Succession” – beat a talented field including Sarah Jessica Parker and Sophie Okonedo to be named best actress in a play for “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s cautionary fable in which Snook plays more than two dozen characters.

Backstage, the Emmy Award-winning Australian performer said the solo stage show was “so much harder” than doing TV.

“I’ve never done anything harder than this,” said Snook, who said she’d asked herself “why am I doing a 60,000-word monologue with an 8-month-old baby?”

Gatiss — co-creator of the BBC TV series “Sherlock” — won the best actor trophy for playing theater great John Gielgud in “The Motive and the Cue,” Jack Thorne’s play about the struggle to mount a 1964 production of “Hamlet” with Richard Burton.

Gatiss beat “Dear England” star Joseph Fiennes and Andrew Scott, who had been the favorite to win for the solo show “Vanya.” The Anton Chekhov adaptation by Simon Stephens took the prize for best revival.

Will Close was named best supporting actor in a play for his performance as footballer Harry Kane in “Dear England.”

Haydn Gwynne, who died in October, was posthumously awarded the best supporting actress prize for her final stage role in “When Winston Went to War with the Wireless,” about the early days of radio in Britain.

Awards for supporting performances in musicals were Amy Trigg for “The Little Big Things” and Jak Malone for “Operation Mincemeat.”

The show ended with a tribute to the National Theatre, which turned 60 in 2023 — culminating in a star-studded cast singing the anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”


Divisive? Not for Moviegoers. ‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at Box Office 

US actress Kirsten Dunst arrives for "Civil War" special screening at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, April 2, 2024. (AFP)
US actress Kirsten Dunst arrives for "Civil War" special screening at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, April 2, 2024. (AFP)
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Divisive? Not for Moviegoers. ‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at Box Office 

US actress Kirsten Dunst arrives for "Civil War" special screening at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, April 2, 2024. (AFP)
US actress Kirsten Dunst arrives for "Civil War" special screening at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, April 2, 2024. (AFP)

Alex Garland’s provocative “Civil War ” didn’t only ignite the discourse. The film also inspired audiences to go to the cinemas this weekend where it surpassed expectations and earned $25.7 million in ticket sales in North America, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It’s the biggest R-rated opening of the year to date and a record for A24, the studio behind films like “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and “The Iron Claw.” “Civil War” also unseated “Godzilla x Kong” from its perch atop the box office. The titan movie from Warner Bros. had held the No. 1 spot for the past two weekends.

“Civil War,” starring Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura and Cailee Spaeny as front-line journalists in the near future covering a devastating conflict in the US and trying to make their way to Washington, DC. The story, written by Garland, who is also the mind behind “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation,” imagines a US in which California and Texas have united against a president who has disbanded the FBI and given himself a third term.

Though entirely fictional, “Civil War” has been inspiring debates since the first trailer that have extended beyond the musings of film critics and traditional reviews. This weekend, The New York Times ran two opinion pieces related to the movie, one by Stephen Marche and another by Michelle Goldberg. There were also pieces on CNN and Politico.

Going into the weekend, projections pegged the film to debut in the $15 to $24 million range. The studio said “Civil War” overperformed in markets “from LA to El Paso.” The data analytics company EntTelligence reported that the film has attracted over 1.7 million patrons this weekend and that the top three markets were Los Angeles, New York and Dallas.

“The title alone is enough to spark a conversation in a year where the political discourse is top of mind,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “And they couldn’t have picked a better date. This movie is perfectly timed in a month that is very quiet.”

The film opened on 3,838 screens in the US and Canada, including IMAX. It’s the most expensive movie that the studio has ever made, with a production budget of $50 million, which does not account for millions spent on marketing and promotion.

IMAX showings of “Civil War,” which was playing on 400 of the large format screens, accounted for $4.2 million, or 16.5% of the domestic total.

Reviews have been largely positive. It’s currently at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 77% audience score. Its CinemaScore was a B-, which has sometimes indicated that word of mouth might not be strong going forward. But that might not be the case with “Civil War,” which doesn’t have a tremendous amount of competition over the next few weeks until “The Fall Guy” opens on May 3.

“You have to take all the metrics together, including the competitive landscape,” Dergarabedian said.

But it is a notable win for the studio, which doesn’t always open films nationwide out of the gates. Before “Civil War,” A24’s biggest debut was the Ari Aster horror “Hereditary,” which opened to $13.6 million in 2018.

“This isn’t destined to be a $200 million global blockbuster. But it’s a very high-profile win for A24,” Dergarabedian said. “They’re a studio that pushes the envelope. They’re a brand associated with a certain level of quality and filmmaking expertise, pushing boundaries and taking risks. It’s well-earned over the years.”

Second place went to “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,” which earned $15.5 million in its third weekend to bring its running domestic total to nearly $158 million. Another “Empire” movie, Sony’s “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” took third place in its fourth weekend with $5.8 million. It’s now at $160 million worldwide.

Rounding out the top five was Universal and DreamWorks’ “Kung Fu Panda 4,” in fourth with $5.5 million in weekend six, and “Dune: Part Two” with $4.3 million in its seventh weekend. “Dune 2” has now earned $272 million domestically.

This weekend also saw the box office year-to-date comparisons take a big hit. Last year, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” brought in over $92 million in its second weekend in theaters. On the same weekend in 2023, the top 10 accounted for over $142 million, compared to this year’s $68.4 million. The year to date is back down to 16% after seeing some recovery with the success of “Dune: Part Two.”

“The box office has been a seesaw,” Dergarabedian said. “But we all knew this was going to be a rough month for comps because of ‘Mario.’”