Crime Thriller Steals Best Pic at Bollywood Awards in UAE

Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez was one of many stars on the green carpet. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez was one of many stars on the green carpet. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
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Crime Thriller Steals Best Pic at Bollywood Awards in UAE

Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez was one of many stars on the green carpet. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez was one of many stars on the green carpet. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

Crime thriller "Drishyam 2" was crowned best picture as Bollywood glossed over its recent struggles with a high-octane International Indian Film Academy Awards show in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Director Abhishek Pathak's gritty remake of a Malayalam film took the top honor at the end of a four-hour ceremony of pumping dance routines that showcased the Hindi-language movie industry, AFP said.

Best director went to Ranganathan Madhavan for "Rocketry: The Nambi Effect". Hrithik Roshan won best actor for his role in "Vikram Vedha" and Alia Bhatt took best actress for "Gangubai Kathiawadi".

"Brahmastra: Part One - Shiva" picked up a number of prizes including best supporting actress for Mouni Roy and best female playback singer for star vocalist Shreya Ghoshal.

The IIFA awards, intended to reach an international audience, were held for the second year running in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates where more than a third of the 10 million population is Indian.

The Hindi-language film industry was worth $2.5 billion in 2019. India also releases hundreds of films in its 21 other official languages, churning out about 1,600 each year total.

But Mumbai-based Bollywood, the world's most prolific producer of movies, has been mired in crisis since the pandemic with ticket sales remaining low since cinemas reopened.

The rise in streaming services, competition from other parts of India and demand for meatier fare than Bollywood's trademark song-and-dance routines have all contributed to the slump, experts say.

However, superstar Shah Rukh Khan's "Pathaan" smashed Indian box office records in January, in a positive sign for the industry.

Shiny gold shirt

Indian cinema also received a boost in March when viral dance hit "Naatu Naatu" won an Oscar for best song, a first for a film from the country.

"What does IIFA mean for (Indian) cinema? I think opening up to the global stage and also bringing us to the global stage as well, so it's exciting both ways," said actress Jacqueline Fernandez, wearing an Arab-inspired head covering.

Among the highlights, heart-throb Varun Dhawan, wearing a shiny gold shirt, rode onto the stage on a mini-dune buggy, and ceremony host Vicky Kaushal drew screams from the audience when he launched into a dance number.

Actor and eco-activist Dia Mirza reminded the crowd about pressing environmental concerns months before the UAE, one of the world's biggest oil producers, hosts the COP28 United Nations climate talks in November and December.

Veteran actor Kamal Haasan was awarded for his outstanding achievement in Indian cinema and Anil Kapoor won best supporting actor for his role in "Jugjugg Jeeyo".

"Darlings" took best original story, and best female debut was Khushali Kumar in "Dhokha: Round D Corner".

The IIFA show, one of a number of Indian awards ceremonies, has been held in several countries since its debut in London in 2000. Voting is done online by fans.



Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour Concert Film Going Global

 Taylor Swift attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, US, September 12, 2023. (Reuters)
Taylor Swift attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, US, September 12, 2023. (Reuters)
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Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour Concert Film Going Global

 Taylor Swift attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, US, September 12, 2023. (Reuters)
Taylor Swift attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, US, September 12, 2023. (Reuters)

Taylor Swift's "Eras Tour" concert film is expected to be the cinematic event of the season -- and now it's going global, with tickets expected to go on sale in more than 100 countries.

The film was already slated for an October 13 release in North America but will now be available from that date at cinemas worldwide, including every Odeon location across Europe, according to a Tuesday statement from theater giant AMC.

"The tour isn't the only thing we're taking worldwide... Been so excited to tell you all that The Eras Tour concert film is now officially coming to theaters WORLDWIDE on Oct 13!" Swift posted on Instagram.

When 33-year-old Swift first announced the film it broke the record for pre-sales in the United States in one day, raking in $37 million.

It's expected the film could exceed $100 million in North American its opening weekend.

"I think we could be talking about the biggest film of the fall season, which is pretty incredible," Jeff Bock, an analyst for box office tracker Exhibitor Relations, recently told AFP.

Swift is taking a break from her wildly popular tour that began in March -- performances will resume in November and run late into next year. Some analysts expect it will become the first tour to break the symbolic $1-billion mark.


Spain Charges Shakira with Tax Evasion for Second Time, Demands More Than $7 Million 

Shakira attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, US, September 12, 2023. (Reuters)
Shakira attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, US, September 12, 2023. (Reuters)
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Spain Charges Shakira with Tax Evasion for Second Time, Demands More Than $7 Million 

Shakira attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, US, September 12, 2023. (Reuters)
Shakira attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, US, September 12, 2023. (Reuters)

Spanish prosecutors have charged pop star Shakira with failing to pay 6.7 million euros ($7.1 million) in tax on her 2018 income, authorities said Tuesday, in Spain’s latest fiscal allegations against the Colombian singer.

Shakira is alleged to have used an offshore company based in a tax haven to avoid paying the tax, Barcelona prosecutors said in a statement.

She has been notified of the charges in Miami, where she lives, according to the statement.

Shakira is already due to be tried in Barcelona on Nov. 20 in a separate case that hinges on where she lived between 2012-14. In that case, prosecutors allege she failed to pay 14.5 million euros ($15.4 million) in tax.

Prosecutors in Barcelona have alleged the Grammy winner spent more than half of the 2012-14 period in Spain and therefore should have paid taxes in the country, even though her official residence was in the Bahamas.

Spanish tax officials opened the latest case against Shakira last July. After reviewing the evidence gathered over the last two months, prosecutors have decided to bring charges. No date for a trial was set.

The public relations firm that previously has handled Shakira’s affairs, Llorente y Cuenca, made no immediate comment.

Last July, it said the artist had “always acted in concordance with the law and on the advice of her financial advisers.”

Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has been linked to Spain since she started dating the now-retired soccer player Gerard Pique. The couple, who have two children, lived together in Barcelona until last year, when they ended their 11-year relationship.

Spain tax authorities have over the past decade or so cracked down on soccer stars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for not paying their full due in taxes. Those players were found guilty of tax evasion but avoided prison time thanks to a provision that allows a judge to waive sentences under two years in length for first-time offenders.


David McCallum, Star of Hit TV Series ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ and ‘NCIS,’ Dies at 90 

US actor David Mccallum poses, on June 10, 2009 during a photocall presenting the TV serie "Navy NCIS : Naval Criminal Investigative Service" at the 49th Monte Carlo Television Festival in Monaco. (AFP)
US actor David Mccallum poses, on June 10, 2009 during a photocall presenting the TV serie "Navy NCIS : Naval Criminal Investigative Service" at the 49th Monte Carlo Television Festival in Monaco. (AFP)
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David McCallum, Star of Hit TV Series ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ and ‘NCIS,’ Dies at 90 

US actor David Mccallum poses, on June 10, 2009 during a photocall presenting the TV serie "Navy NCIS : Naval Criminal Investigative Service" at the 49th Monte Carlo Television Festival in Monaco. (AFP)
US actor David Mccallum poses, on June 10, 2009 during a photocall presenting the TV serie "Navy NCIS : Naval Criminal Investigative Service" at the 49th Monte Carlo Television Festival in Monaco. (AFP)

Actor David McCallum, who became a teen heartthrob in the hit series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." in the 1960s and was the eccentric medical examiner in the popular "NCIS" 40 years later, has died. He was 90.

McCallum died Monday of natural causes surrounded by family at New York Presbyterian Hospital, CBS said in a statement.

"David was a gifted actor and author, and beloved by many around the world. He led an incredible life, and his legacy will forever live on through his family and the countless hours on film and television that will never go away," said a statement from CBS.

Scottish-born McCallum had been doing well appearing in such films "A Night to Remember" (about the Titanic), "The Great Escape" and "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (as Judas). But it was "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." that made the blond actor with the Beatlesque haircut a household name in the mid-'60s.

The success of the James Bond books and films had set off a chain reaction, with secret agents proliferating on both large and small screens. Indeed, Bond creator Ian Fleming contributed some ideas as "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." was being developed, according to Jon Heitland's "The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Book."

The show, which debuted in 1964, starred Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo, an agent in a secretive, high-tech squad of crime fighters whose initials stood for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Despite the Cold War, the agency had an international staff, with McCallum as Illya Kuryakin, Solo’s Russian sidekick.

The role was relatively small at first, McCallum recalled, adding in a 1998 interview that "I’d never heard of the word ‘sidekick’ before."

The show drew mixed reviews but eventually caught on, particularly with teenage girls attracted by McCallum’s good looks and enigmatic, intellectual character. By 1965, Illya was a full partner to Vaughn’s character and both stars were mobbed during personal appearances.

The series lasted until 1968. Vaughn and McCallum reunited in 1983 for a nostalgic TV movie, "The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E.," in which the agents were lured out of retirement to save the world once more.

McCallum returned to television in 2003 in another series with an agency known by its initials — CBS’ "NCIS." He played Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, a bookish pathologist for the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, an agency handling crimes involving the Navy or the Marines. Mark Harmon played the NCIS boss.

Co-star Lauren Holly took to X, formerly Twitter, to mourn: "You were the kindest man. Thank you for being you." The previously announced 20th anniversary "NCIS" marathon on Monday night will now include an "in memoriam" card in remembrance of McCallum.

The series built an audience gradually, eventually reaching the roster of top 10 shows. McCallum, who lived in New York, stayed in a one-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica when "NCIS" was in production.

"He was a scholar and a gentleman, always gracious, a consummate professional, and never one to pass up a joke. From day one, it was an honor to work with him and he never let us down. He was, quite simply, a legend," said a statement from "NCIS" Executive Producers Steven D. Binder and David North.

McCallum’s work with "U.N.C.L.E." brought him two Emmy nominations, and he got a third as an educator struggling with alcoholism in a 1969 Hallmark Hall of Fame drama called "Teacher, Teacher."

In 1975, he had the title role in a short-lived science fiction series, "The Invisible Man," and from 1979 to 1982 he played Steel in a British science fiction series, "Sapphire and Steel." Over the years, he also appeared in guest shots in many TV shows, including "Murder, She Wrote" and "Sex and the City."

He appeared on Broadway in a 1968 comedy, "The Flip Side," and in a 1999 revival of "Amadeus" starring Michael Sheen and David Suchet. He also was in several off-Broadway productions.

Largely based in the US from the 1960s onward, McCallum was a longtime American citizen, telling The Associated Press in 2003 that "I have always loved the freedom of this country and everything it stands for. And I live here, and I like to vote here."

David Keith McCallum was born in Glasgow in 1933. His parents were musicians; his father, also named David, played violin, his mother played cello. When David was 3, the family moved to London, where David Sr. played with the London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic.

Young David attended the Royal Academy of Music where he learned the oboe. He decided he wasn’t good enough, so he turned to theater, studying briefly at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. But "I was a small, emaciated blond with a caved chest, so there weren’t an awful lot of parts for me," he commented in a Los Angeles Times interview in 2009.

After time out for military service, he returned to London and began getting work on live television and movies. In 1957 he appeared in "Robbery Under Arms," an adventure set in early Australia, with a rising actress, Jill Ireland. The couple married that same year.

In 1963, McCallum was part of the large cast of "The Great Escape" and he and his wife became friendly with Charles Bronson, also in the film. Ireland eventually fell in love with Bronson and she and McCallum divorced in 1967. She married Bronson in 1968.

"It all worked out fine," McCallum said in 2009, "because soon after that I got together with Katherine (Carpenter, a former model) and we’ve been very happily married for 42 years."

McCallum had three sons from his first marriage, Paul, Jason and Valentine, and a son and daughter from his second, Peter and Sophie. Jason died of an overdose.

"He was a true Renaissance man — he was fascinated by science and culture and would turn those passions into knowledge. For example, he was capable of conducting a symphony orchestra and (if needed) could actually perform an autopsy, based on his decades-long studies for his role on NCIS," Peter McCallum said in a statement.

In 2007, when he was working on "NCIS," McCallum told a reporter: "I’ve always felt the harder I work, the luckier I get. I believe in serendipitous things happening, but at the same time, dedicating yourself to what you do is the best way to get along in this life."


Film Legend Sophia Loren Has Successful Surgery After Fracturing Leg in Fall at Home 

Italian actress Sophia Loren smiles during a photo call for "Human Voice," (Voce Umana) at the 67th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, on May 21, 2014. (AP)
Italian actress Sophia Loren smiles during a photo call for "Human Voice," (Voce Umana) at the 67th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, on May 21, 2014. (AP)
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Film Legend Sophia Loren Has Successful Surgery After Fracturing Leg in Fall at Home 

Italian actress Sophia Loren smiles during a photo call for "Human Voice," (Voce Umana) at the 67th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, on May 21, 2014. (AP)
Italian actress Sophia Loren smiles during a photo call for "Human Voice," (Voce Umana) at the 67th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, on May 21, 2014. (AP)

Film legend Sophia Loren is recovering from successful surgery for a leg fracture after she fell in her Switzerland home, an agent for the 89-year-old Italian actor said Monday.

Agent Andrea Giusti said in an email that Loren fell in a bathroom on Sunday and the surgery was performed later that day. The operation “went very well and now we only need to wait,” Giusti said.

The actress broke both her hip and a thigh bone, the agent said.

It wasn’t immediately clear when Loren would be discharged from the hospital.

Loren has lived in a Swiss villa near Lake Geneva for decades. Earlier this month, she appeared, looking radiant, with Italian designer Giorgio Armani in Venice at a fashion show held on the sidelines of the city’s annual film festival.

She celebrated her 89th birthday last week. She was scheduled to appear at a restaurant that bears her name in Bari, a city in southern Italy, this but her fall forced a cancellation of the event. According to her agent, Loren gave the restaurant the right to use her name and image.


Writers Strike Is Not Over Yet with Key Votes Remaining on Deal 

A display depicts vintage film equipment near Paramount Studios on September 25, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images/AFP)
A display depicts vintage film equipment near Paramount Studios on September 25, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images/AFP)
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Writers Strike Is Not Over Yet with Key Votes Remaining on Deal 

A display depicts vintage film equipment near Paramount Studios on September 25, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images/AFP)
A display depicts vintage film equipment near Paramount Studios on September 25, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images/AFP)

The deal is made, the pickets have been suspended, and Hollywood's writers are on the verge of getting back to work after months on strike. Actors, meanwhile, wait in the wings for their own resolution.

Crucial steps remain for the writers, who technically remain on strike, and for other workers awaiting a return to production of new shows. The next phase comes Tuesday, when the governing boards of the two branches of the Writers Guild of America are expected to vote on the tentative agreement reached by union negotiators with Hollywood studios.

Following the approval from the boards — which is likely — comes a vote from the writers themselves, whose timing is uncertain. The guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios, streaming services and production companies in the negotiations, were still finalizing language Monday on their agreement.

That could prompt a delay of Tuesday's voting and has kept union leaders from sharing with writers the details of what nearly five months of striking and hardship has earned them. The leaders have promised a series of meetings later this week where writers can learn about the terms of the deal regarding pay, show staffing, and control of artificial intelligence in storytelling.

The guild's leaders told them only that the agreement is “exceptional,” with gains for every member. A successful yes vote from the membership will finally, officially, bring the strike to an end.

Meanwhile, though their own pickets have been suspended, writers were encouraged to join actors in solidarity on their lines starting Tuesday, just as many actors did with writers in the two months before their own strike started in July.

The studio alliance has chosen to negotiate only with the writers so far, and has made no overtures yet toward restarting talks with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists. That will presumably change soon.

SAG-AFTRA leaders have said they will look closely at the agreement struck by the writers, who have many of the same issues they do, but it will not affect the demands they have.


UK Police Say Investigating Assault Claims Following Russell Brand Reports

16 September 2023, United Kingdom, London: English comedian and actor Russell Brand leaves the Troubabour Wembley Park theater in north-west London after performing a comedy set. (dpa)
16 September 2023, United Kingdom, London: English comedian and actor Russell Brand leaves the Troubabour Wembley Park theater in north-west London after performing a comedy set. (dpa)
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UK Police Say Investigating Assault Claims Following Russell Brand Reports

16 September 2023, United Kingdom, London: English comedian and actor Russell Brand leaves the Troubabour Wembley Park theater in north-west London after performing a comedy set. (dpa)
16 September 2023, United Kingdom, London: English comedian and actor Russell Brand leaves the Troubabour Wembley Park theater in north-west London after performing a comedy set. (dpa)

British police said they had launched an investigation into a number of allegations of sexual offences following media reports that four women had accused actor and comedian Russell Brand of a string of sexual assaults.

"Following an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches and The Sunday Times, the Met has received a number of allegations of sexual offences in London," London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

"We have also received a number of allegations of sexual offences committed elsewhere in the country and will investigate these."


Broadway Musical ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ to Debut in Riyadh on October 14

A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Broadway Musical ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ to Debut in Riyadh on October 14

A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

The Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC) announced on Monday that the Broadway musical "The Phantom of the Opera" will be performed in Riyadh, at The Arena Riyadh from October 14 to December 5.

Produced by Broadway Entertainment Group by arrangement with the Really Useful Group, the show is part of RCRC’s Riyadh Life sector to provide entertainment options in line with the objectives of Vision 2030 Quality of Life program.

The iconic musical will be performed 59 times; it consists of 100 cast, crew and orchestra members, and more than 230 intricately designed costumes.

The musical won more than 70 international theater awards, including seven Tony Awards on New York’s Broadway and four Olivier Awards in London's West End.


Writers Guild and Hollywood Studios Reach Tentative Deal to End Strike

People walk outside Paramount Studios after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) said it reached a preliminary labor agreement with major studios in Los Angeles, California, US, September 24, 2023.  REUTERS/David Swanson
People walk outside Paramount Studios after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) said it reached a preliminary labor agreement with major studios in Los Angeles, California, US, September 24, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson
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Writers Guild and Hollywood Studios Reach Tentative Deal to End Strike

People walk outside Paramount Studios after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) said it reached a preliminary labor agreement with major studios in Los Angeles, California, US, September 24, 2023.  REUTERS/David Swanson
People walk outside Paramount Studios after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) said it reached a preliminary labor agreement with major studios in Los Angeles, California, US, September 24, 2023. REUTERS/David Swanson

Union leaders and Hollywood studios reached a tentative agreement Sunday to end a historic screenwriters strike after nearly five months, though no deal is yet in the works for striking actors.
The Writers Guild of America announced the deal in a joint statement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group that represents studios, streaming services and production companies in negotiations.
“WGA has reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP,” the guild said in an email to members. “This was made possible by the enduring solidarity of WGA members and extraordinary support of our union siblings who joined us on the picket lines for over 146 days.”
The three-year contract agreement — settled on after five marathon days of renewed talks by WGA and AMPTP negotiators that was joined at times by studio executives — must be approved by the guild's board and members before the strike officially ends, The Associated Press reported.
In a longer message from the guild shared by members on social media, the writers were told the strike is not over and no one was to return to work until hearing otherwise, but picketing is to be suspended immediately.
The terms of the deal were not immediately announced. The tentative deal to end the last writers strike, in 2008, was approved by more than 90% of members.
The agreement comes just five days before the strike would've become the longest in the guild's history, and the longest Hollywood strike more than 70 years.
As a result of the agreement, nightly network shows including NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” could return to the air within days.
But as writers prepare to potentially crack open their laptops again, it’s far from back to business as usual in Hollywood, as talks have not yet resumed between studios and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Crew members left with no work by the stoppage will remain unemployed for now.
“SAG-AFTRA congratulates the WGA on reaching a tentative agreement with the AMPTP after 146 days of incredible strength, resiliency and solidarity on the picket lines,” the actors union said in a statement. “While we look forward to reviewing the WGA and AMPTP’s tentative agreement, we remain committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members.”
The statement said the guild continues “to urge the studio and streamer CEOs and the AMPTP to return to the table and make the fair deal that our members deserve and demand.”
The proposed solution to the writers strike came after talks resumed on Wednesday for the first time in a month. Chief executives including Bob Iger of Disney, Ted Sarandos of Netflix, David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery and Donna Langley of NBCUniversal reportedly took part in the negotiations directly.
It was reached without the intervention of federal mediators or other government officials, which had been necessary in previous strikes.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement congratulating the two sides on the deal and said she is hopeful the same can happen soon with actors.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom did the same, saying writers "went on strike over existential threats to their careers and livelihoods — expressing real concerns over the stress and anxiety workers are feeling. I am grateful that the two sides have come together.”
About 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America walked off the job May 2 over issues of pay, the size of writing staffs on shows and the use of artificial intelligence in the creation of scripts. Actors, who joined the writers on strike in July, have their own issues but there have been no discussions about resuming negotiations with their union yet.
The writers strike immediately sent late-night talk shows and “Saturday Night Live” into hiatus, and has since sent dozens of scripted shows and other productions into limbo, including forthcoming seasons of Netflix's “Stranger Things," HBO's “The Last of Us,” and ABC's “Abbot Elementary," and films including “Deadpool 3” and “Superman: Legacy.” The Emmy Awards were also pushed from September to January.
More recently, writers had been targeting talk shows that were working around strike rules to return to air, including “The Drew Barrymore Show,” “ Real Time With Bill Maher ” and “The Talk.” All reversed course in the face of picketing and pressure, and are likely to quickly return now.
The combined strikes made for a pivotal moment in Hollywood as creative labor faced off against executives in a business transformed and torn by technology, from the seismic shift to streaming in recent years to the potentially paradigm-shifting emergence of AI in the years to come.
Screenwriters had traditionally gone on strike more than any other segment of the industry, but had enjoyed a relatively long stretch of labor peace until spring negotiations for a new contract fell apart. The walkout was their first since 2007 and their longest since 1988.
On July 14, more than two months into the strike, the writers got a dose of solidarity and star power — along with a whole lot of new picketing partners — when they were joined by 65,000 striking film and television actors.
It was the first time the two groups had been on strike together since 1960. In that walkout, the writers strike started first and ended second. This time, studios opted to deal with the writers first.
The AMPTP first reached out to suggest renewing negotiations in August. The meetings were short, infrequent, and not productive, and talks went silent for another month.


Lauryn Hill, Red Hot Chili Peppers Draw Fans to Rainy Central Park Aid Fest

Lauryn Hill performs with Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean of the Fugees at the Global Citizen Concert in New York, US, September 23, 2023. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
Lauryn Hill performs with Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean of the Fugees at the Global Citizen Concert in New York, US, September 23, 2023. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
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Lauryn Hill, Red Hot Chili Peppers Draw Fans to Rainy Central Park Aid Fest

Lauryn Hill performs with Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean of the Fugees at the Global Citizen Concert in New York, US, September 23, 2023. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
Lauryn Hill performs with Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean of the Fugees at the Global Citizen Concert in New York, US, September 23, 2023. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

Lauryn Hill, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jungkook drew tens of thousands of fans to Central Park on Saturday despite torrential rains, as part of a marathon concert urging global development aid.

Majestic rap icon Lauryn Hill graced the stage as her seminal album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" turns 25, performing her smash single "Doo Wop (That Thing)" and reuniting The Fugees during the Global Citizen festival in New York.

The legendary hip-hop trio performed tracks including "Killing Me Softly" and "Ready Or Not."

"Africa needs to control their own natural resources. Haiti needs to control their own natural resources. The world, we need to stop famine," said member Wyclef Jean to cheers, as fans waved their lit phones.

The message was in line with the aims of the day, which marries musical performance with calls to increase funding against global ills including poverty and climate change.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers closed out the night with a set throwing back to their classics including "Can't Stop," "Scar Tissue," "Dani California," "Snow (Hey Oh)" and "Californication."

And Jungkook had the poncho-clad crowd screaming and swaying along as he serenaded them with hits including "Still With You."

Wearing acid-wash jeans and a brown shirt, the megastar told fans it was necessary to "make an impact together to make sure everyone, everywhere has access to their basic rights like food and education."

He wasn't billed as a headliner but Jungkook was a major draw of the night: many drenched concertgoers streamed out of the park just after his set ended, even though the evening at that point was scheduled to continue for another three hours.

Earlier Anitta brought her impressive twerks and dance party of a show to the stage, performing hits including her recent "Funk Rave."

Brazil's biggest pop star called attention to the importance of protecting the Amazon rainforest, reminding fans it's "the lungs of our planet."

Just prior to kicking off her booty-shaking set, she said that governments must do more to "protect the people there, the indigenous people, the communities there... whose only reality is the Amazon."

Rappers including Busta Rhymes and Common put on a tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, one of many the city has hosted in recent months.

Taking place since 2012 as world leaders gather in New York for the UN General Assembly, Global Citizen distributes free tickets to supporters who pledge to take actions such as sending letters to their governments in support of development aid.

Pledges came from leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, who announced via video message a $150 million commitment to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), AFP reported.

"We have to fight together against poverty, climate change and for biodiversity," Macron said. "This is why we want to take our part as well."

The Rome-headquartered IFAD is an arm of the United Nations aimed at addressing poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries.

Along with Macron, the organization said Norway had pledged $90 million to IFAD.


Movie Review: St4llone, St4tham Are Back in ‘Expend4bles,’ Yet Another Expend4ble Sequel

 This image released by Lionsgate shows Sylvester Stallone in a scene from "The Expend4bles." (Lionsgate via AP)
This image released by Lionsgate shows Sylvester Stallone in a scene from "The Expend4bles." (Lionsgate via AP)
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Movie Review: St4llone, St4tham Are Back in ‘Expend4bles,’ Yet Another Expend4ble Sequel

 This image released by Lionsgate shows Sylvester Stallone in a scene from "The Expend4bles." (Lionsgate via AP)
This image released by Lionsgate shows Sylvester Stallone in a scene from "The Expend4bles." (Lionsgate via AP)

It’s a throwaway line, but maybe a bit too meaningful, under the circumstances. “Gravity is setting in,” says Barney, Sylvester Stallone’s aging character in “Expend4bles,” when someone asks how he’s doing.

Indeed. Gravity is setting in throughout “Expend4bles,” a movie whose most enticing mystery is not the secret identity of its shadowy villain, but how you pronounce the film’s title. Are we supposed to enunciate the mid-word numeral, or is it merely visual? Is this what stands for a smart new spin on a tired franchise? Will we soon have “My Big F4t Greek Wedding”? Are these questions supposed to distract us from how stunningly mediocre the film is?

Perhaps we digress. This is, obviously, the fourth “Expendables” film, but our considered scientific opinion is that you needn’t see the first three to catch up. True, there’s no explanatory intro, but if you’ve seen earlier “Expendables” films, you’ll know there’s not much to know. These guys are the indestructible mercenaries who swoop in – literally, on Barney’s turboprop plane – to do dirty work in miserable places. The body count is head-spinningly high (this film, directed by Scott Waugh, returns to an R rating after a switch to PG-13 for the last installment). The dialogue is head-spinningly mundane. The flow of testosterone is, well, head-spinning.

Leading the pack, as ever, is Stallone’s Barney Ross and his expert knife-wielding best bud, Lee Christmas — Jason Statham, reveling in his Cockney charm and smiling more than usual. (This is not a bad thing. Statham has a nice smile. This may be the only good thing.) Also back are Dolph Lundgren’s Gunner and Randy Couture’s Toll Road.

And now, perhaps in a nod to the previously unrecognized fact that half the human race is female, we have Megan Fox as mercenary leader Gina. More on her in a bit. Also providing new blood is Andy Garcia as a prickly CIA handler, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as an ex-Marine and new team member, and two martial arts stars: Iko Uwais as ruthless arms dealer Rahmat, and Tony Jaa as quiet warrior Decha. Other additions: Jacob Scipio is the son of Antonio Banderas’ character from the last film, and Levy Tran is a new female teammate, adept with a whip chain.

Got all that? In a prelude scene in New Orleans, we reconnect with Barney, who now has salt-and-pepper hair, and a bad back — so bad, he enlists Christmas to help him recover his prized skeleton ring at a biker bar, which he’s lost in a thumb-wrestling contest. The thugs dispatched and the ring collected, it’s time to get back to work.

This means a trip to Libya, where aforementioned arms dealer Rahmat (Uwais) is securing detonators for a nuclear weapon. CIA handler Marsh (Garcia) needs the Expendables to stop him. The other thing you should know is that Barney is determined to unmask a shadowy figure codenamed Ocelot who’s maybe pulling all the strings.

Not surprisingly, the Expendables run into resistance. The body count mounts, and then something happens that will change the trajectory of the film. We can’t give it away, but let’s just say it brings Statham’s Christmas to the forefront for much of the film.

But he makes an early error that sidelines him for a bit. Leading the next stage of the mission will be Gina (Fox), his ex (or maybe current?) girlfriend. Gina is introduced to us the only way a woman in a testosterone-dripping franchise like this can be: Sexy AND crazy, yelling like the dickens in a hot little dress. She also wears an absurd amount of makeup, including on the mission. Apparently, there’s a brand of matte lipstick that holds up very well through mortal combat. Which is convenient if your ex-boyfriend may or may not be showing up.

All this action takes place on a freighter where the aforementioned nuclear bomb is being stored. It includes countless killings and also a motorcycle chase (on a freighter!) It all gets very tiresome.

It doesn’t help that the special effects sometimes seem thrown together with about as much care as the script. Some of the most obvious green screens provide inadvertent comedy. As for intended comedy, the only truly funny scene is when Christmas, sidelined, tries out a job as security detail for an obnoxious social media influencer.

The likable British action star is having a busy year. In “Expend4bles,” as mentioned, they let him smile a lot, and it’s a nice touch. Still, if there’s an “Expend5bles,” they’re gonna need more than a Statham smile and another mid-word numeral in the title.