Abadi al-Johar, Oumaima Taleb Create Great Eid Ambiance in Riyadh

The date of the concert coincided with the birthday of crooner Abadi al-Johar (Rotana).
The date of the concert coincided with the birthday of crooner Abadi al-Johar (Rotana).
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Abadi al-Johar, Oumaima Taleb Create Great Eid Ambiance in Riyadh

The date of the concert coincided with the birthday of crooner Abadi al-Johar (Rotana).
The date of the concert coincided with the birthday of crooner Abadi al-Johar (Rotana).

Tunisian singer Oumaima Taleb, and oud player and crooner Abadi al-Johar brought people celebrating Eid al-Fitr in Saudi Arabia more joy in an exceptional concert in Riyadh.

With his usual appearance accompanied by his oud, Abadi al-Johar celebrated both Eid al-Fitr and his 70th birthday with his fans. The Saudi crooner spent most of these years performing and became one of the most esteemed Arabic singers.

Johar started the evening with his Eid-inspired, timeless song “Ya Allah Bou’dah”, followed by “Weshfik”, and “Taakhart”. Then, he expressed his nostalgia with “Fini Hanin”, in which he recalls a lover who left.

The Saudi crooner spent the night singing and playing his best works, and by the end of the concert, the music band surprised him with a special piece that celebrates his 70th birthday. Johar didn’t try to hide his joy for celebrating this occasion for the first time with his “big family”.

After Johar, Oumaima Taleb appeared on stage with an astounding look inspired by the Eid she came to celebrate. She sat before the audience and sang “Khatam al-Ahbab”, “Beterjaa”, and “Ma Daret”, and shared many other songs with her audience until the end of the night.

By the end of the concert, the Tunisian singer said she was happy to share a concert with a legend like Abadi al-Johar, noting that the Saudi audience is dear to her heart and she’s proud to sing for them.

The concert was part of the Eid calendar launched by the Saudi General Entertainment Authority including many concerts in several Saudi cities and regions, in addition to diverse activities that run for a whole week.



20 Years after ‘Sideways,’ Paul Giamatti May Finally Land His First Oscar Nomination

 Paul Giamatti poses for a portrait in New York on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, to promote his film "The Holdovers." (AP)
Paul Giamatti poses for a portrait in New York on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, to promote his film "The Holdovers." (AP)
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20 Years after ‘Sideways,’ Paul Giamatti May Finally Land His First Oscar Nomination

 Paul Giamatti poses for a portrait in New York on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, to promote his film "The Holdovers." (AP)
Paul Giamatti poses for a portrait in New York on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, to promote his film "The Holdovers." (AP)

When Paul Giamatti made "Sideways" with Alexander Payne, he stayed in a little house in the middle of a large vineyard. At the end of a day of shooting, he would drive home in darkness, with the hills of Napa Valley around him.

Giamatti was then a respected character actor, but this was one of his first times as the lead. And he couldn't believe it.

"I remember Alexander saying, ‘You two guys are going to do it,’" recalls Giamatti of himself and Thomas Hayden Church. "And we were like, ‘Seriously?’"

In the years since, Giamatti, 56, has remained a leading man, albeit an unlikely one. His ability to carry a movie is now, well, kind of obvious. That goes for indie gems like "Private Life" and "Win Win" or acclaimed series like "John Adams" and "Billions."

But two decades later, "Sideways" remains lodged in Giamatti’s memory. "I remember every second of making it," he said on a recent afternoon in Manhattan. Wide as his travels have been since – "Hamlet" at Yale, Jerry Heller in "Straight Outta Compton," seven years on "Billions" — he’s not experienced anything quite like the natural, ensemble feel of "Sideways." Until, that is, he reteamed with Payne for "The Holdovers."

"I’ve never done anything like it again," says Giamatti, "except this is the closest thing to it."

"The Holdovers," playing in theaters and available digitally, marks the long-in-coming reunion of Giamatti and Payne. Just as in "Sideways," their alchemy produces something wry and moving. The setting — a 1970s boarding school — has moved from California sunshine to snowy New England.

But a faint connection between the two movies is there. Giamatti plays Paul Hunham, an irascible classics professor, widely disliked by his students, who’s forced to spend Christmas break with a handful of students. The movie, a broad comedy at first, peels away a tender humanistic drama around the trio of Hunham, a bright, less well-off student (Dominic Sessa) and the school’s grieving head cook (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).

For Giamatti, the bookends of "Sideways" and "The Holdovers" inevitably prompt reflection on the distance he's traveled in the intervening decades.

"All the stuff in between, I mean the life changes, the professional stuff — it’s just insane. My whole life changed. I got divorced. Massive change," Giamatti says. "I never talked to Alexander about this, but I thought there were similarities between the two characters. But it’s a guy 20 years on from the other guy. And probably there’s a lot of me 20 years on going into it."

Hunham, like Giamatti’s struggling writer Miles Raymond of "Sideways," is a prickly misanthrope stuck in a midlife stasis. In Giamatti’s hands, the dialogue of an erudite grouch sings. One example: "What sort of fascist hash foundry are you running?"

"I kind of like this character better, for some reason," Giamatti says. "He’s not as self-pitying. He’s got a little more zest. He, like, enjoys being the a--hole that he is."

Payne and Giamatti have talked for years about making another movie, including a private-eye film ("It’d be so great," says Giamatti) and a Western ("I’m like, I would do anything in a Western"). But it wasn’t until Payne got together with screenwriter David Hemingson with the idea of loosely adapting the 1935 French comedy "Merlusse" that they hit on the right project.

"I wanted to work with that guy again for 20 years," says Payne. "I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of terrific actors, but we had a really terrific professional relationship making ‘Sideways.’ I was waiting for the right thing — and created it. I told David Hemingson: We’re writing for Paul Giamatti."

"He’s just the best actor," Payne adds. "He’s the finest actor. Not casting dispersions on others, I just think there’s nothing he cannot do."

The part of Paul also had connections to Giamatti’s own upbringing. His father, A. Bartlett Giamatti, was an academic. Aside from being president of Yale and commissioner of Major League Baseball, he was a professor of English Renaissance literature. His mother, Toni, taught at the Hopkins School, the New Haven, Connecticut, prep school. The younger Giamatti, himself, attended the boarding school Choate as a day student.

"I think it’s why he was like, ‘You’ll get this character. This is sort of written for you.’ Because he knows I went to a school like that and I had a background like that," says Giamatti. "He even knows I’m interested in Roman history. A lot it was kind of a big gift of like: You kind of know all of this."

Asked for an example of how he and Payne work together, Giamatti describes a scene from "Sideways" when his character runs into his ex-wife and learns she’s newly married and pregnant. Miles, crushed, struggles to keep up a cheery facade.

"We had done three takes or something, and he came up to me and said, ‘Don’t stop smiling. Whatever you do, whatever she says, you can’t stop smiling,'" says Giamatti. "That was one of the best examples to me of how an actor and a director can work together. He saw something I was doing and he just kept pulling it out of me."

On "The Holdovers," Giamatti and Payne had their first argument. In a scene toward the end of the film, Paul is in a tense meeting with the parents of Sessa’s character. In the middle of it, Giamatti decided to sit down — an instinctual choice that, he felt, showed Paul was breaking protocol.

"He came up to me and he said, ‘Talk to me about sitting down,’" recalls Giamatti.

They discussed Giamatti’s reasoning and as they began to shoot it, Payne announced: "Sitting down, I buy it." But by then, Giamatti had rethought it. He asked to try it standing up. Each had come around to the other’s idea. Giamatti decided he liked standing better.

"And that was the biggest disagreement we had," says Giamatti, laughing.

During the actors strike, Giamatti and his castmates (Randolph and Sessa have also been widely celebrated for their performances), weren’t able to promote the film. Normally, missing out on interviews wouldn’t be something Giamatti would lose sleep over.

"But it was funny, I kept saying to my girlfriend, ‘I actually want to be talking about it. I think I’m frustrated that I can’t,'" Giamatti says.

Twenty years ago, Giamatti was surprisingly passed over for an Oscar nomination for "Sideways." This time, many are predicting he’ll receive his first Academy Award nomination, for best actor.

"That would be lovely if it happened. I’m not counting on anything," Giamatti says. "But for the first time, I do feel like putting myself behind it because I’d like it to get acknowledged in some way. Whether it’s me or not, that’s fine. If the movie does, if (Randolph) does, if Hemingson does or Alexander does — it’d be great if somebody does."

If Giamatti is nominated, it would be an overdue acknowledgement of one this era’s finest actors, one who’s long imbued everyman characters with wit and warmth. Calling them "schlubs" wouldn’t do justice for the justice he does them. So good at it is Giamatti that you might mistake the very down-to-earth actor for a regular guy, too.

But don't be fooled. Take Giamatti's new podcast, Chinwag, in which he and author Stephen Asma follow their fascinations with things think Sasquatch. Regular guy?

"I’m not. I’m really into weird (expletive)," Giamatti says, cackling. "I’ve always been into really weird (expletive). I said to my friend, ’I’m tired of not talking about Sasquatch and sitting on the fact that I’m fascinated by UFOs and ghosts.'"


Spotify to Reduce Staff by 17% in 2nd Layoff this Year

FILE PHOTO: Earphones are seen on top of a smart phone with a Spotify logo on it, in Zenica February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Earphones are seen on top of a smart phone with a Spotify logo on it, in Zenica February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
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Spotify to Reduce Staff by 17% in 2nd Layoff this Year

FILE PHOTO: Earphones are seen on top of a smart phone with a Spotify logo on it, in Zenica February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Earphones are seen on top of a smart phone with a Spotify logo on it, in Zenica February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Spotify will reduce its total headcount by around 17% across the company, it said in an email on Monday, after laying off 6% of this staff in January citing higher costs.
In the latest third quarter, the company swung to a profit aided by price hikes in its streaming services and growth in subscribers in all regions, and forecast that its number of monthly listeners would reach 601 million in the holiday quarter.
CEO Daniel Ek told Reuters at that time the company was still focusing on efficiencies to get more out of each dollar.
On Monday, he said a reduction of this size will feel surprisingly large given the recent positive earnings report and its performance.
"We debated making smaller reductions throughout 2024 and 2025," CEO Daniel Ek said in a mail to employees.
"Yet, considering the gap between our financial goal state and our current operational costs, I decided that a substantial action to rightsize our costs was the best option to accomplish our objectives."


Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ is No. 1 at Box Office with $21 Million Debut

Beyonce accepts the award for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album for "Renaissance" during the 65th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, US, February 5, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
Beyonce accepts the award for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album for "Renaissance" during the 65th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, US, February 5, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
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Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ is No. 1 at Box Office with $21 Million Debut

Beyonce accepts the award for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album for "Renaissance" during the 65th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, US, February 5, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
Beyonce accepts the award for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album for "Renaissance" during the 65th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, US, February 5, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

Beyoncé ruled the box office this weekend.
Her concert picture, “ Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé,” opened in first place with $21 million in North American ticket sales, according to estimates from AMC Theatres Sunday.
The post-Thanksgiving, early December box office is notoriously slow, but “Renaissance" defied the odds. Not accounting for inflation, it's the first time a film has opened over $20 million on this weekend in 20 years (since “The Last Samurai”).
Beyoncé wrote, directed and produced “Renaissance,” which is focused on the tour for her Grammy-winning album. It debuted in 2,539 theaters in the US and Canada, as well as 94 international territories, where it earned $6.4 million from 2,621 theaters, The Associated Press reported.
“On behalf of AMC Theatres Distribution and the entire theatrical industry, we thank Beyoncé for bringing this incredible film directly to her fans,” said Elizabeth Frank, AMC Theatres executive vice president of worldwide programming, in a statement. “To see it resonate with fans and with film critics on a weekend that many in the industry typically neglect is a testament to her immense talent, not just as a performer, but as a producer and director."
Though “Renaissance” did not come close to matching the $92.8 million debut of “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” in October, it’s still a very good start for a concert film. No one expected “Renaissance” to match “The Eras Tour,” which is wrapping up its theatrical run soon with over $250 million globally. Prior to Swift, the biggest concert film debuts (titles held by Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber for their 2008 and 2011 films) had not surpassed the unadjusted sum of $32 million.
The 39-city, 56-show “Renaissance” tour, which kicked off in Stockholm, Sweden in May and ended in Kansas City, Missouri in the fall, made over $500 million and attracted over 2.7 million concertgoers. Swift’s ongoing “Eras Tour,” with 151 dates, is expected to gross some $1.4 billion.
Both Beyoncé and Swift chose to partner with AMC Theatres to distribute their films, as opposed to a traditional studio. Both superstars have been supportive of one another, making splashy appearances at the other’s premieres. Both had previously released films on Netflix (“Miss Americana” and “Homecoming”). And both are reported to be receiving at least 50% of ticket sales.
Movie tickets to the show were more expensive than average, around $23.32 versus Swift's $20.78, according to data firm EntTelligence.
Critics and audiences gave "Renaissance" glowing reviews – it’s sitting at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and got a coveted A+ CinemaScore from opening weekend audiences who were polled. EntTelligence also estimates that the audience, around 900,000 strong, skewed a little older than Swift's.
Lionsgate's “ The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes ” fell to second place in its third weekend with an estimated $14.5 million. The prequel has now earned over $121 million domestically.
“Godzilla Minus One " is expected to take third place on the North American charts. The well-reviewed Japanese blockbuster distributed by Toho International cost only $15 million to produce and has already earned $23 million in Japan. Toho's 33rd Godzilla film is set in the aftermath of World War II, stars Ryunosuke Kamiki and was directed by Takashi Yamazaki.


Review: In Concert Film ‘Renaissance,’ Beyoncé Offers Glimpse into Personal Life during World Tour

US singer/songwriter Beyoncé arrives for the world premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at the Dolby theatre on July 9, 2019 in Hollywood. (AFP)
US singer/songwriter Beyoncé arrives for the world premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at the Dolby theatre on July 9, 2019 in Hollywood. (AFP)
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Review: In Concert Film ‘Renaissance,’ Beyoncé Offers Glimpse into Personal Life during World Tour

US singer/songwriter Beyoncé arrives for the world premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at the Dolby theatre on July 9, 2019 in Hollywood. (AFP)
US singer/songwriter Beyoncé arrives for the world premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at the Dolby theatre on July 9, 2019 in Hollywood. (AFP)

In Beyoncé’s concert film, she describes her recent Renaissance World Tour as being run like a machine: From lighting to set design, the superstar had a hand in everything production-related to ensure her stadium tour exceeded expectations after four years of preparation.

As a perfectionist, Beyoncé was tirelessly determined — working almost 50 days straight — to create an epic concert experience. This becomes clear in her movie “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé,” which chronicles the massive tour in support of her seventh studio album.

Written, directed and produced by Beyoncé, “Renaissance” perfectly captures her dazzling performances for the big screen and includes some intimate behind-the-scenes footage from the normally private singer, who has rarely done interviews in the past decade.

Beyoncé released her nearly three-hour “Renaissance” movie through AMC Theaters in similar fashion as the “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour ” film, which opened with a record-breaking $97 million domestically for a concert film last month. But unlike Swift, whose project primarily focused on her onstage performances, Beyoncé offers more insight into her personal life.

“I'm really excited for everyone to see the process,” she says in the film.

With “Renaissance,” Beyoncé displays more of her human side like in her 2019 Netflix film “Homecoming,” which delved into the singer headlining the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This time, she goes a step further into her story as arguably music's hardest-working performer, who attempts to juggle being a mother of three while she maintains her mental and physical fortitude during her tour.

Beyoncé expressed frustration with challenges to her lofty aspirations for her tour and felt she wasn’t being heard because she’s a Black woman. The tour ultimately grossed around $500 million, according to Billboard. She opens up about having surgery on her knee, which forced her into rehabilitation a month before her first opening show in Stockholm.

Unlike her tour, Beyoncé confesses, she's “not a machine.”

But through her aches and pains, Beyoncé — who is the most decorated Grammy artist in history — showed up and performed at a very high level. It's what she demanded of herself and others who mirrored her mentality to make each show come into fruition.

The film showcases a few big-name performers who accompanied Beyoncé onstage, including Megan Thee Stallion in Houston. During her Los Angeles stint, Kendrick Lamar was a special guest along with Diana Ross, who sang to Beyoncé for her 42nd birthday.

But out of all the celebrity appearances, the one who stole the show was Beyoncé's 11-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, who made her presence felt as a background dancer. Initially, the singer was opposed to pushing Blue into the limelight of performing in front of tens of thousands.

“She told me she was ready to perform, and I told her no,” Beyoncé says in the film.

She eventually agreed to give her daughter one chance to show her stuff. Her first performance, however, was subjected to heavy criticism on social media. But Blue Ivy used that to train harder. She gained confidence as the tour progressed and gained more standing ovations each time she hit the stage.

Blue Ivy's growth brought joy to Beyoncé and to Mathew Knowles, the proud grandfather who is shown saying, “Now, that's a Knowles!”

During a stop in Houston, Beyoncé along with her mother, Tina Knowles, drove around her old Third Ward neighborhood before they stopped by her childhood home. The return to her hometown marked another reunion between Beyoncé and all the members of the girl group Destiny's Child — which included Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, who was once ousted from the group.

Now, it appears there's peace among them. There were no words exchanged on camera except for a collective hug, which Beyoncé called during her narration a “new birth for us. A lot of healing.”

Beyoncé along with her mother shared heartfelt moments of the singer's late uncle Johnny who introduced her to house music as a child and made her a prom dress. She dedicated the “Renaissance” album to him.

The film squeezes in Beyoncé's appreciation for her devoted Beyhive fanbase who are often shown in the audience in various cities. During her shows, she expresses her gratitude for them, calling them “beautiful faces.”

Despite the presence of jams like “Alien Superstar,” “Church Girl” and “Cuff It,” not every song performed on tour made the cut for the film.

And that's just fine. “Renaissance” is more about getting a glimpse into Beyoncé's life — even for just a little bit.


Elton John Urges Britain’s Lawmakers to Do More to Fight HIV/AIDS


FILE - Elton John performs on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
FILE - Elton John performs on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
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Elton John Urges Britain’s Lawmakers to Do More to Fight HIV/AIDS


FILE - Elton John performs on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
FILE - Elton John performs on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Elton John has urged British lawmakers to do more to fight HIV and AIDS, saying the UK can be the first country in the world “to defeat this awful virus.”
The British star spoke to lawmakers and campaigners in the grand Speaker’s House of Parliament on Wednesday evening at an event honoring his dedication to fighting HIV in the UK and beyond, The Associated Press reported.
"I implore you not to waste your allotted time as political leaders,” John urged dozens of lawmakers packed into the ornate gold-trimmed room. “Take action and push things a little further than might feel comfortable. And as you do, I can promise you this: I will be there with you."
John set up his AIDS Foundation in 1992 and has helped raise millions of dollars to prevent HIV infections and reduce stigma.
"This evening I was privileged to welcome Sir Elton John and acknowledge his exceptional contribution to the global fight against HIV and AIDS — personally and through the Elton John AIDS Foundation,” Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said on X, formerly Twitter.
“His work embodies the solidarity and kindness that defines our shared humanity," he added.
John welcomed the “truly wonderful news” that the UK government has decided to extend a pilot program to test people visiting hospital emergency rooms for HIV, which officials say has discovered hundreds of undetected cases of the virus.
Under the program, which was recently introduced in London and other cities with a high prevalence of HIV cases, anyone 16 years old or older who has their blood tested in an emergency room will also get tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, unless they opt out of the testing.
“Automatic testing gets to people earlier, which means less HIV transmission, less illness, less death and by the estimate of health economists, 50 million pounds ($63 million) saved for the NHS,” Britain's health service, John said.
Health officials confirmed that the program would be scaled up to 46 more emergency departments across England, helping reach the estimated 4,500 people in England who could be living with undiagnosed HIV.
The Parliament reception for John came ahead of World AIDS Day, which takes place on Friday. The UK hopes to achieve zero HIV transmissions in England by 2030, in line with World Health Organization goals.
Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also paid tribute to John's AIDS Foundation, saying he was pleased its work was being celebrated in Parliament.
“Sir Elton has been a powerful voice for change in the UK and the world,” Sunak told lawmakers. “Through the brilliant work of the AIDS Foundation he has raised awareness of the issue, reduced stigma and saved lives.”


Morgan Wallen Tops Apple Music's 2023 Song Chart While Taylor Swift, SZA Also Lead Streaming Lists

(FILES) US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour at Sofi stadium in Inglewood, California, August 7, 2023. (Photo by Michael Tran / AFP)
(FILES) US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour at Sofi stadium in Inglewood, California, August 7, 2023. (Photo by Michael Tran / AFP)
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Morgan Wallen Tops Apple Music's 2023 Song Chart While Taylor Swift, SZA Also Lead Streaming Lists

(FILES) US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour at Sofi stadium in Inglewood, California, August 7, 2023. (Photo by Michael Tran / AFP)
(FILES) US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour at Sofi stadium in Inglewood, California, August 7, 2023. (Photo by Michael Tran / AFP)

Country singer Morgan Wallen ’s “Last Night” topped Apple Music’s global song chart in 2023 as the giant music streamer released year-end lists Tuesday and provided listeners with data on their own most listened-to tunes.
Wallen’s hit emerged as the country song with the most days — 52 — at No. 1 on the Global Daily Top 100 chart.
Nigerian rapper Rema’s “Calm Down” remix with Selena Gomez was No. 12 on the global songs chart, the highest entry, ever, for an African song. (“Calm Down” was No. 1 on the streamer’s Shazam chart.)
Joining “Last Night” at the very top of the global songs list were “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus in second, “Kill Bill” by SZA in third, “Rich Flex” by Drake and 21 Savage in fourth, and another SZA track in fifth slot: “Snooze,” which was followed by Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero.”
SZA, who leads the 2024 Grammy nominations, topped Apple's most-read lyrics in 2023 for her smash single, “Kill Bill.”
Wallen’s “Last Night” stayed atop the Billboard Hot 100 for 16 weeks this year, beating Harry Styles’ “As It Was” for the record of longest No. 1 run for a non-collaboration. It also tied Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber’s “Despacito” for the title of second-longest reign in Hot 100’s 65-year history.
New to 2023's suite of year-end charts is the inclusion of an Apple Music Sing chart, which allows users to view which songs fan sang along the most to this year. On the inaugural chart, J-pop duo YOASOBI hit No. 1 with their song “アイドル(Idol).”
Apple’s data also shows the growing presence of Música Mexicana globally. Peso Pluma and Eslabon Armado’s history-making “Ella Baila Sola” made it to No. 18 on the Global Daily Top 100, which also featured Grupo Frontera and Bad Bunny’s “un x100to,” Peso Pluma and Natanael Cano’s “PRC,” and Fuerza Regida and Grupo Frontera’s “Bebe Dame.”
Also available Tuesday is Replay — Apple’s alternative to Spotify’s Wrapped playlist — which allows Apple Music subscribers to engage with what music was most popular on the streaming service this year.
In November, Apple Music named Taylor Swift its artist of the year, after the pop superstar broke incredible records: In the first 10 months of 2023, 65 of Swift's songs reached Apple Music’s Global Daily Top 100. The Eras Tour was a catalyst: Streams grew 61% globally when she kicked off her landmark concert tour in March, and continued to build.
“Taylor Swift’s impact on music is absolutely undeniable — not just this record-breaking year, but throughout her entire career," Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, said in a statement. “She is a generation-defining artist and a true change agent in the music industry, and there is no doubt that her impact and influence will be felt for years to come."


Timothee Chalamet Turned to Vocal Coach to the Stars for ‘Wonka’ 

Hugh Grant, from left, Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman and Rowan Atkinson pose for photographers upon arrival at the photo call of the film "Wonka" in London, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. (AP)
Hugh Grant, from left, Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman and Rowan Atkinson pose for photographers upon arrival at the photo call of the film "Wonka" in London, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. (AP)
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Timothee Chalamet Turned to Vocal Coach to the Stars for ‘Wonka’ 

Hugh Grant, from left, Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman and Rowan Atkinson pose for photographers upon arrival at the photo call of the film "Wonka" in London, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. (AP)
Hugh Grant, from left, Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman and Rowan Atkinson pose for photographers upon arrival at the photo call of the film "Wonka" in London, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. (AP)

Timothee Chalamet took lessons from a top vocal coach as he prepared to follow in the footsteps of Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp to play Willy Wonka in a new movie that tells the origin story of Roald Dahl's famed character.

In "Wonka", a musical film, the "Dune" and "Call Me by Your Name" actor plays a younger version of the chocolate-loving inventor.

"(It was) daunting because the character's beloved, people are very protective over characters they love and skeptical about Hollywood remakes. But I think we did a great job. I'm very happy with the film," Chalamet told Reuters at the "Wonka" world premiere at London's Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old said he worked with Eric Vetro, the vocal coach to singers including Ariana Grande, John Legend and Katy Perry.

"A lot of training, a lot of vocal lessons with Eric Vetro in LA, a lot of work," he said of his preparation for the film's musical numbers.

"Wonka" sees the top hat and long jacket wearing character land in a fictional city after several years at sea. The town is home to the world's top chocolatiers and Wonka, too, hopes to open his own shop. As he chases his dream and goes against a powerful chocolate cartel, he befriends a young orphan girl and a curious small creature with orange skin and green hair - an Oompa Loompa, played by Hugh Grant.

The film is co-written and directed by "Paddington" filmmaker Paul King.

"We wanted to make a movie that would stand as a companion piece to the Gene Wilder movie, which obviously has these enduring classic songs," said King.

"There's a lot of clues that Roald Dahl left as to what Willy did before 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' so we felt confident if we just picked up on those clues, we could make something that Roald Dahl would be proud of," added Simon Farnaby, who co-wrote the screenplay with King.

"Wonka" is out globally in December.


Four BTS Members to Begin S.Korean Military Service Mid-December 

Jungkook of BTS performs on NBC's "Today" at Rockefeller Plaza on November 08, 2023 in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)
Jungkook of BTS performs on NBC's "Today" at Rockefeller Plaza on November 08, 2023 in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)
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Four BTS Members to Begin S.Korean Military Service Mid-December 

Jungkook of BTS performs on NBC's "Today" at Rockefeller Plaza on November 08, 2023 in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)
Jungkook of BTS performs on NBC's "Today" at Rockefeller Plaza on November 08, 2023 in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)

The remaining four members of K-pop supergroup BTS will begin their military service in mid-December, joining the three who are already serving, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday, citing music industry sources.

The seven-member group is on temporary break while members carry out South Korea's mandatory military service.

South Korea has one of the world's largest active armies to defend against North Korea, with all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 28 required to serve between 18 and 21 months.

There has, however, been public debate over whether BTS members should be given exemptions considering their contributions to the lucrative K-pop industry.

The group's main rapper and leader RM and vocalist V will enlist on Dec. 11, while Jimin and Jung Kook will follow suit the next day, Yonhap reported.

After initial training, the four will serve as active-duty army soldiers for 18 months, according to another report in entertainment media outlet Star News.

BTS' management agency HYBE, which has said the four had begun the process of enlistment, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier this month, Jung Kook announced in a blog post he would serve in the military in December.

Jin, 30, the group's oldest member, is set to be discharged from military service in June.


‘Past Lives,’ Lily Gladstone Win at Gotham Awards 

Janae Collins, Cara Jade Myers, Tantoo Cardinal, Yancey Red Corn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, William Belleau, Jillian Dion and Talee Redcorn pose with awards at the 33rd annual Gotham Film Awards in New York City, U.S., November 27, 2023. (Reuters)
Janae Collins, Cara Jade Myers, Tantoo Cardinal, Yancey Red Corn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, William Belleau, Jillian Dion and Talee Redcorn pose with awards at the 33rd annual Gotham Film Awards in New York City, U.S., November 27, 2023. (Reuters)
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‘Past Lives,’ Lily Gladstone Win at Gotham Awards 

Janae Collins, Cara Jade Myers, Tantoo Cardinal, Yancey Red Corn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, William Belleau, Jillian Dion and Talee Redcorn pose with awards at the 33rd annual Gotham Film Awards in New York City, U.S., November 27, 2023. (Reuters)
Janae Collins, Cara Jade Myers, Tantoo Cardinal, Yancey Red Corn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, William Belleau, Jillian Dion and Talee Redcorn pose with awards at the 33rd annual Gotham Film Awards in New York City, U.S., November 27, 2023. (Reuters)

Celine Song’s wistful romance "Past Lives" earned top honors at the Gotham Awards on Monday evening at an award-season kickoff where the night's biggest drama came in a political speech by Robert De Niro that the actor claimed had been edited without his permission.

"Past Lives," a breakout at the Sundance Film Festival in January and an arthouse hit in June for A24, may be poised to be an Oscar sleeper this year after winning best feature film at the Gothams. Affection is strong for Song’s directorial debut, starring Greta Lee as a woman born in Seoul who, after marrying an American (John Magaro), reconnects with a childhood friend from South Korea (Teo Yoo).

"This is the first film I've ever made and a very personal film about an extraordinary feeling I had in an ordinary bar in the East Village, not too many blocks away from here," said Song, accepting the award. "As this film has been shared with the world, it has taught me — and taught us — that you're never alone in that extraordinary feeling."

"Past Lives" was expected to win, but the ceremony went off-script when De Niro, co-star in Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon," took the podium to present a tribute award to the film. While giving his remarks, De Niro noticed a section had been omitted on the teleprompter. After attempting to scroll back through, he completed his speech before returning to read from his phone.

"The beginning of my speech was edited, cut out," De Niro said. "I didn’t know about it."

De Niro, known for his fiery rhetoric against former President Donald Trump, then expanded on what he called America's "post-truth society" and chided Hollywood — specifically John Wayne — for earlier depictions of Native Americans.

"The former president lied to us more than 30,000 times during his four years in office, and he’s keeping up the pace with his current campaign of retribution," De Niro said. "With all of his lies, he can’t hide his soul. He attacks the weak, destroys the gifts of nature and shows his disrespect for example using Pocahontas as a slur."

De Niro seemed to blame Apple, which produced "Killers of the Flower Moon," for the changes to his speech.

"So, I’m going to say these things — to Apple and thank them, all that. Gothams. Blah blah blah. Apple. But I don’t really feel like thanking them at all for what they did," said De Niro. "How dare they do that, actually."

Apple didn't immediately respond to requests for comment late Monday evening.

It was still a big night for Scorsese's epic, about the Osage murders in the early 20th century, even though Scorsese unexpectedly wasn't in attendance. Lily Gladstone, who stars in the film opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, won for best lead performance — though not for that performance.

Gladstone won for a lesser-known film released earlier in 2023: "The Unknown Country," in which stars as a woman embarking on a road trip though the Midwest. In each of her speeches — for "Killers of the Flower Moon" and "The Unknown Country" — Gladstone praised the filmmakers for prioritizing Native perspectives.

"I challenge everybody in this room who makes films: Invest. When you have a budget, invest it in the people," said Gladstone. "Invest in the people that you’re telling your story about. Your film will be better for it. Your lives will be better for it."

The Gotham Awards, now in their 33rd year, leapfrog most of the major ceremonies that lead up to the Academy Awards. But over time, they’ve established themselves as the first big party of the season, and an early hint at some of the favorites.

Put on by the Gotham Film & Media Institute and held annually at Cipriani Wall Street, the Gothams have some quirks that make them different than other awards. Prizes are chosen by small committees of film professionals, critics and journalists. Their acting categories are also gender neutral, with 10 actors nominated for lead performance, and another 10 up for supporting performances.

This year, one of the most competitive categories was best international film. There, Justine Triet's Palme d'Or winning courtroom drama "Anatomy of a Fall" triumphed over the likes of "Poor Things,All of Us Strangers" and "The Zone of Interest." Triet's film also won for best screenplay.

Andrew Haigh’s tender metaphysical drama "All of Us Strangers," starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, had come into the Gothams as the lead nominee with four nods, but went home without a trophy.

The Gothams this year removed a $35 million budget cap for nominees, but many big-budget films still opted not to submit themselves. The monthslong Screen Actors Guild strike meant awards season got off to a slower start, but one of the early questions is if anything can rival those diametrically opposed summer sensations of "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer."

Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie of "Barbie" were among the numerous tribute awards. In their joint speech, Gerwig said her partner, Noah Baumbach, found out he was co-writing the movie with her from a Variety article that cited them both. He sent the article to Gerwig with just a question mark, she said.

"Then he wrote back: ‘It’s OK, we'll make each other laugh,’" added Gerwig.

Best supporting performance went to Charles Melton of Todd Haynes' "May December." He plays a young father who first began his relationship with his wife (Julianne Moore) when he was a minor.

A.V. Rockwell, whose directorial debut "A Thousand and One" stars Teyana Taylor as a single mother, won for breakthrough director. She noted all of her fellow nominees were women. "It's a fight just to get here," she said.

"Just to be frank, it is very hard to tell a culturally specific story when you look like this," said Rockwell.

Best documentary went to Kaouther Ben Hania’s Tunisian film "Four Daughters," a true story about a Tunisian women with two daughters who became radicalized. The film reconstructs their disappearance.

In the TV categories, the Netflix series "Beef," starring Steven Yeun and Ali Wong as a pair locked in a feud after a road rage incident, won for both breakthrough series under 40 minutes and for Wong's performance.

"If you haven't seen ‘Beef’ yet, I swear it’s more than me and Steven crying," Wong said.

Tribute awards ensured that some star power hit the Gothams stage. They were given to: Bradley Cooper, the director, star and co-writer of "Maestro"; Ben Affleck, the director and co-star of "Air"; George C. Wolfe, the director of "Rustin"; and Michael Mann, the director of "Ferrari."

Affleck, however, wasn't in attendance. The film's screenwriter, Alex Convery, instead accepted the award.

"Well, you thought you were getting Ben Affleck," said Convery. "Sorry."

The Gothams have a checkered history of forecasting future awards glory. Last year, it was the first win in what became a runaway Oscar campaign for "Everything Everywhere All at Once," and where Ke Huy Quan’s supporting-actor bid got its start. The year before that, Gotham winner "The Lost Daughter" faded on the campaign trail, but 2020-winner "Nomadland" went the distance to the Academy Awards.


Hiam Abbass’ Palestinian Family Documentary ‘Bye Bye Tiberias’ Applauded at Marrakech Film Festival 

(L-R) Palestinian actress and director Hiam Abbass and French-Algerian director Lina Soualem pose on the red carpet during the 20th Marrakesh International Film Festival in Marrakech on November 25, 2023. (AFP)
(L-R) Palestinian actress and director Hiam Abbass and French-Algerian director Lina Soualem pose on the red carpet during the 20th Marrakesh International Film Festival in Marrakech on November 25, 2023. (AFP)
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Hiam Abbass’ Palestinian Family Documentary ‘Bye Bye Tiberias’ Applauded at Marrakech Film Festival 

(L-R) Palestinian actress and director Hiam Abbass and French-Algerian director Lina Soualem pose on the red carpet during the 20th Marrakesh International Film Festival in Marrakech on November 25, 2023. (AFP)
(L-R) Palestinian actress and director Hiam Abbass and French-Algerian director Lina Soualem pose on the red carpet during the 20th Marrakesh International Film Festival in Marrakech on November 25, 2023. (AFP)

Thirty years ago, Palestinian actor Hiam Abbass left her home to pursue her dreams of being in the movies, joining generations of women in her family who were shaped by exile and “learned to leave everything and start anew.”

That's one of the stories told in her director daughter Lina Soualem's documentary “Bye Bye Tiberias,” which received a standing ovation and shouts of “Long Live Palestine” on Saturday night at the Marrakech International Film Festival for the film's first screening in the Arab world.

The documentary, the Palestinian entry for next year's Academy Award for Best International Feature, follows Abbass and Soualem as the mother-daughter pair laugh, cry and tell the story of four generations of women in their family.

“Bye Bye Tiberias” first premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, more than a month before the start of the latest Israel-Hamas war, sparked by the militant group's deadly incursion into Israel on Oct. 7.

It is the only Palestinian film in competition in Marrakech, where festival organizers have, unlike past years, not held screenings in a popular square that has seen protests against the war.

Introducing the documentary on Saturday, Soualem and Abbass acknowledged it was an emotional time to present the film, thinking about the children and grandchildren of Palestinian refugees in Gaza.

Soualem declined to answer a question about how today's war affected reactions to her film. Speaking carefully, she later said that she felt the emotional response from festival audiences in Europe and the United States and noted her emphasis on offering a different Palestinian narrative amid current events, humanizing Palestinian women and the complex choices they make throughout their lives.

“Our hearts are heavy, seeing everything happening in Gaza — all the destruction and all the deaths, which we are mourning,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday. “Every screening, there is a sense of repair and warmth. There’s a lot of people who feel that they cannot speak or they are silenced.”

“Bye Bye Tiberias” splices together intimate interviews of Soualem's family members, primarily her mother, Abbass, known to both Arab and Western audiences from her work in the television series “Succession” and “Ramy” as well as films such as “The Lemon Tree” in 2008, the Blade Runner 2049 in 2017, and “Gaza mon amour” in 2020.

It builds off Soualem's first documentary “Their Algeria” — another personal history about her grandparents' exile from North Africa and move to France amid war and economic downturn.

Unlike other Palestinian narratives, which focus on the broad diaspora, the Gaza Strip or the occupied West Bank, “Bye Bye Tiberias” documents a family displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war from one city to another within modern-day Israel, where they retained citizenship but lived in a Palestinian village largely segregated from Jewish Israeli life.

Abbass rolls her mother Nemat in a wheelchair past Hebrew street signs and a now-dilapidated mosque in modern-day Tiberias as Soualem explains how the 1948 war upended her grandmother's education and “propelled her at full speed into history.”

Intimate interviews are spliced with excerpts from home movies shot by Soualem's father at their family's home in Deir Hanna, and archival footage spanning back to 1948.

That year, the British ordered the family to leave their home in Tiberias, a city on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The home was later destroyed, the family was prohibited from returning and its members resettled far and wide, including in Syria and Deir Hanna, a Palestinian village within the borders of modern-day Israel.

“These images are the treasure of my memory that I don’t want to fade,” says Soualem, who narrates the documentary.

A generation later, living amid such tension “suffocated” Abbass, who emigrated to France three decades ago to pursue her dreams of becoming an actor.

“Today, I wish I could ask my mother if she forgives me for making a choice that was contrary to her traditions and her life,” Abbass says at one point in “Bye Bye Tiberias.”

For much of her daughter's life, Abbass rarely talked about her departure from the Middle East, not wanting to “open the gate to past sorrows,” Soualem says.

In the film, though, she does. Soualem captures Abbass mourning the loss of her mother, remembering performing in Jerusalem's Palestinian National Theatre, and peering across the Sea of Galilee trying to digest the enormity of what happened to Palestinian families like hers post-1948, as well as her choice to leave a land that holds great meaning to her.