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|Wed, June 01, 2011 at 4:47 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A new Rihanna music video, in which the singer guns down a man in retaliation for an apparent sexual assault, was condemned on Wednesday for encouraging young women to turn to violence.
"Man Down", which debuted on the Black Entertainment TV (BET) network on Tuesday, shows Rihanna firing in cold blood on an unarmed man at a rail station, and killing him.
The reggae style song by the 23 year-old R&B singer features the lyrics "Momma, I just shot a man dead...I never been so proud."
Rihanna, herself the victim of a violent 2009 physical attack by her then boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, said in Twitter messages to her fans that the theme of the video was female empowerment.
"Young girls/women all over the world...we are a lot of things! We're strong innocent fun flirtatious vulnerable, and sometimes our innocence can cause us to be naive! We always think it could NEVER be us, but in reality, it can happen to ANY of us! So ladies be careful,' she wrote.
The Parents Television Council, the Enough is Enough campaign, and entertainment think tank Industry Ears called on BET and its parent company Viacom to stop airing the video.
"If Chris Brown shot a woman in his new video and BET premiered it, the world would stop. Rihanna should not get a pass," said Paul Porter, co-founder of Industry Ears, which campaigns against negative images in the media.
Porter said that in 30 years he had never witnessed "such a cold, calculated execution of murder in prime time."
Melissa Henson of the Parents Television Council said that "instead of telling victims they should seek help, Rihanna released a music video that gives retaliation in the form of premeditated murder the imprimatur of acceptability."
BET and Viacom did not immediately return calls for comment on Wednesday.
"Man Down", the latest single from Rihanna's "Loud" album , was released last week.
Brown, 21, pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna in February 2009, setting off a national debate about young, abusive relationships. He publicly apologized, underwent court-ordered domestic violence counseling and spent six months performing community service.
Rihanna has referenced domestic violence in several other hits, including her 2010 duet with Eminem "Love the Way You Lie".
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Christine Kearney)
|Tue, May 31, 2011 at 6:44 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Flamboyant pop star Lady Gaga has scored her first No. 1 album in the United States after a 99-cent promotion by Amazon.com sent the much-hyped release past the rare million-copy mark in its debut week.
According to sales data published on Tuesday by Billboard magazine, "Born This Way" sold 1.11 million copies during the week ended May 29.
It marks the biggest first-week sales total since rapper 50 Cent's "The Massacre" debuted to 1.14 million copies in March 2005. The last album to break the million mark was country starlet Taylor Swift's "Speak Now," which started with 1.01 million copies last November.
In all, just 17 albums have sold more than one million copies in their first week since tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan began collecting point-of-sales data in 1991. Boy band 'N Sync holds the first-week record with 2.4 million copies for its 2000 album "No Strings Attached."
Billboard estimated that Amazon downloads accounted for upward of 440,000 downloads of "Born This Way." Heavy demand crashed Amazon's servers when the online retailer launched its one-day-only promotion last Monday. The firm gave fans another chance to get the album for 99 cents on Thursday.
Billboard said music industry observers had been expecting the album to sell between 650,000 and 700,000 copies before the Amazon promotion kicked in.
Amazon undertook the money-losing promotion to steal business from Apple Inc's iTunes, which dominates the market for digital music downloads.
Overall digital downloads for "Born This Way" totaled a record-breaking 662,000 copies, Billboard said. The old record of 288,000 downloads was held by Coldplay's 2008 album "Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends."
"Born This Way" marks Lady Gaga's second full-length album for Interscope Records, a unit of Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group. The 25-year-old New Yorker's 2008 debut "The Fame" peaked at No. 2 and has sold 4.2 million copies to date in the United States.
The singer, famed for her outrageous costumes and lavish stage shows, has been ubiquitous on the promotional trail in recent weeks. Among her stops were the Cannes Film Festival in France, the U.S. variety show "Saturday Night Live," and a London newspaper where she served as guest editor.
But is "Born This Way" any good? Critics said it lacked subtlety, but were divided on whether this was a good thing. Rolling Stone described the album as "disarmingly great" while the Los Angeles Times said it draws from "the worst tendencies of the last decade of dance music."
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Jill Serjeant)
|Mon, May 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
WASHINGTON – PBS officials say hackers have cracked the network's website, posting a phony story claiming dead rapper Tupac Shakur was alive in New Zealand, and a group that claimed credit for the hacking complained about a recent "Frontline" investigative news program on WikiLeaks.
PBS confirmed early Monday morning on its official Twitter account that the website had been hacked. The phony story had been taken down as of Monday morning. It had been posted on the site of the "PBS NewsHour" program, which is produced by WETA-TV in Arlington, Va.
David Fanning, executive producer of "Frontline," said he was learning of the hacking early Monday, nearly a week after the program aired its "WikiSecrets" documentary about the leak of U.S. diplomatic cables to the WikiLeaks website. The documentary, produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, generated criticism and debate on the program's website in recent days from those sympathetic to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and from those who thought the program was fair, Fanning said.
"Frontline" producers hear impassioned responses all the time, Fanning said. Having a group attack the PBS website over a news program was unusual but "probably not unexpected," he said.
"From our point of view, we just see it as a disappointing and irresponsible act, especially since we have been very open to publishing criticism of the film ... and the film included other points of view," Fanning said. "This kind of action is irresponsible and chilling."
PBS officials did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages.
A tweet from the "NewsHour" Twitter account said: "If you missed it: our site has been accessed by hackers. Thanks for staying with us."
A group calling itself LulzSec claimed responsibility and posted links to other hacks, including a video apparently taunting the network. Taunting messages were also posted on the group's Twitter page targeting the PBS program "Frontline." One message said the group recently saw the "WikiSecrets" show and was "less than impressed."
PBS ombudsman Michael Getler wrote about the "WikiSecrets" documentary in his weekly column Thursday, saying it had generated only a handful of complaints, though he had expected more mail from viewers.
"This may be a good thing for Frontline if it suggests that most viewers found the program to be in keeping with Frontline's reputation for fair yet tough reporting," Getler wrote.
Getler raised some questions about the reporting in the program but said he found the questioning by interviewer Martin Smith to be "tough but proper."
|Mon, May 30, 2011 at 8:23 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
MIAMI – Hip-hop singer Sean Kingston has been stabilized and moved to the intensive care unit at a hospital after crashing his watercraft into a Miami Beach bridge, his publicist said Monday.
The publicist, Joseph Carozza, said Kingston's family is grateful for everyone's prayers and support.
Kingston and a female passenger were injured when the watercraft hit the Palm Island Bridge around 6 p.m. Sunday, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Jorge Pino said.
The Miami Herald reports that a passing boater saw the accident and took the two on board his vessel.
Both were hospitalized early Monday at Ryder Trauma Center, but Pino said he didn't know their conditions.
Authorities are investigating the crash, and "nothing at this point would indicate that alcohol played a role," Pino said.
Kingston rose to fame with his 2007 hit "Beautiful Girls" and was also featured on songs by artists including Justin Bieber. His self-titled debut album sold over 1 million copies worldwide.
On Twitter, Bieber posted a message of support for Kingston.
"Got my friend Sean Kingston in my prayers tonight," Bieber tweeted early Monday. "A true friend and big bro. Please keep him in your prayers tonight as well."
A number of hip-hop musicians were in Miami Beach over the weekend for Urban Beach Week.
In a 2007 interview with The Associated Press, Kingston described his music as a fusion of reggae, pop, rap and R&B.
"It's Sean Kingston genre. I have my own genre," Kingston told the AP at the time. "No disrespect to no artist or dudes out there. I feel like I am my own person. I am doing my own thing."
His music has been unique among hip-hop offerings, as Kingston refused to use profanity.
"To put it in my music, that's not the message I am trying to send out," he said in the 2007 interview. "That's not the type of artist I am trying to be."
|Sun, May 29, 2011 at 4:07 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The raucous comedy sequel "The Hangover: Part II" captured $86 million at the North American box office in its first weekend, blowing past another newcomer "Kung Fu Panda 2" to capture the top spot, estimates showed Sunday.
The critically-panned sequel, described as uninspiring and a repeat of the original, follows four men celebrating a pre-wedding brunch in Bangkok, much like the bachelor party in Las Vegas in the first movie "The Hangover" that made stars of underground comedian Zach Galifianakis and actor Bradley Cooper.
It came far ahead of DreamWorks' sequel to the original "Kung Fu Panda," with the 3-D second-take -- which reprised the voice talents of Jack Black and Angelina Jolie -- collecting $48 million in its opening weekend, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
The fourth installment in the Johnny Depp-starring "Pirates of the Caribbean" series finished third, taking in $39 million after pulling $90 million in its opening a week ago.
The Disney romp, which has earned mixed reviews, has taken in a total of $152 million in the past two weeks.
The surprise hit "Bridesmaids," an oddball comedy about a group of women preparing for their wedding day supporting roles, grossed $16 million in its third week to take the fourth position.
Epic action adventure "Thor," starring Chris Hemsworth as the mythical hero banished to Earth from the mystical world of Asgard, took in $9 million to become the fifth-highest grossing movie of the week, while its four-week total climbed to $159 million.
"Fast Five," the fifth volume in the high-speed car chase series, earned $7 million to reach the sixth spot, and after five weeks of release saw its total receipts climb to $196 million, the highest total take of any movie in this week's top ten.
In its second week out, Woody Allen's latest film, the whimsical "Midnight in Paris," climbed to seventh place from 13th, with $1.91 million.
"Jumping the Broom," which explores what happens when two African-American families from different socio-economic backgrounds get together for a wedding celebration, fell to eighth place, grossing $1.9 million, while romantic comedy "Something Borrowed" carried the ninth spot, earning $1.8 million.
Rounding out the top ten was the family comedy "Rio," an animated film from the makers of the "Ice Age" series, which brought in $1.8 million. The film has so far earned $135 million during its seven-week run.
|Sat, May 28, 2011 at 10:14 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
RABAT (Reuters) – After a frenetic career as producer to Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson and many other music legends, 78-year-old Quincy Jones refuses to slow down and has just signed up for a new project in the Arab world.
"I'm 78 and I've still got a lot of energy and I want to do what my dreams are, which is to see people come together across the barriers," Jones said in an interview in the Moroccan capital Rabat where he appeared in the Mawazine music festival.
He scoffs at a question as to whether age and past medical woes, such as a serious cerebral aneurysm he suffered in 1974, might encourage him to ease up.
"Not at all. I'll slow down when I die," he said.
As a performer, Jones was already touring North Africa and other parts of the world in the 1950s with some of the biggest names of jazz including Lionel Hampton and Dizzy Gillespie.
He arranged Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" and produced Michael Jackson's album "Thriller" and the 1985 "We are the World" recording for African famine relief.
Watching the star-studded 1990 documentary "Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones" today, one is struck by how many of the music legends linked to Jones have since died.
"Sinatra, Ray Charles, Billy Eckstine, Ella Fitzgerald -- all gone," Jones said before adding the name of film director Sidney Lumet and others. "How do you think I feel? I've lost 188 friends, man, in less than 15 years."
"It hurts," the veteran producer, musician and arranger continued. "It just doesn't stop."
Doctors have long told Jones to reduce his workload. "I know, I don't care. I like what I am doing," he said.
RIFFING ON HIS PAST
Like a master jazz improviser able to draw on thousands of musical phrases, Jones, with the slightest association, is well prepared to roll out a remarkable array of genial anecdotes about a lifetime of adventures with music legends.
A mention of Italy prompts him to show off his much cherished ring from Frank Sinatra. India sparks him to tell of meeting sitarist Ravi Shankar in 1956, after which he recalls that Shankar is father to singer Norah Jones.
A reference to Serbia inspires him to show off a few words in Serbian, including one off-color one that causes him much amusement.
In one of his latest projects, Jones, who has won 27 Grammy Awards, has launched a joint venture to promote music in North Africa and the Middle East in which musicians from different cultures will work together.
They are also recording a new song to raise funds for regional scholarships.
A musician from the besieged Libyan town of Misrata made a visit to Rabat this week for the project. On Sunday, Jones was also set to appear at a memorial concert in Marrakesh after an attack there killed 17 people a month ago.
"More and more when you get older you do exactly what you believe in with the people that you love and trust and admire," he told Reuters. "That's where I am now, which allows me to do what I feel and give back what I feel, whatever I want to do."
Jones says he feels an affinity for Arabs as they have often suffered from prejudice like American blacks.
"People have preconceived concepts of you just on your appearance. That's sad," he said. "My two least favorite words are 'you people." I hate that word."
"All the things I did, they said you were the first. That means only," he said. "Like first black (vice) president of a record company or the first one to produce the Oscars."
As a musician, Jones has frequently change
|Sat, May 28, 2011 at 1:18 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Lyricist and poet Gil Scott-Heron, who told the world "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and inspired a generation of hip-hop artists, has died at the age of 62, his record company said Saturday.
Scott-Heron, an African-American who first gained fame for his poetry and spoken word performances in the late 1960s, saw his influence grow until he was dubbed the "Godfather of Rap."
His early albums, "Pieces of a Man" and "Winter in America," have been credited with influencing a generation of hip-hop musicians who followed him.
"RIP to 1 of tha greats Gil Scott-Heron," US rap artist Snoop Dogg tweeted.
Rap artist Eminem also weighed in with a Twitter post: "RIP Gil Scott-Heron. He influenced all of hip-hop."
Scott-Heron died Friday at a New York hospital, according to XL Recordings. The cause of death was not immediately known but US media reported that he recently returned home after feeling ill while traveling in Europe.
Much of his music reflected his struggle with an addiction to drugs and alcohol. He has said he was HIV-positive.
"Gil shunned all the trappings of fame and success. He could have had all those things. But he was greater than that," XL Recordings founder and owner Richard Russell wrote on his website.
"He seemed wholly uninterested in money... To my knowledge, he never accepted an award. He always wanted everyone else to receive credit for their work.
Russell hailed Scott-Heron's "immense talent."
"He was a master lyricist, singer, orator and keyboard player," Russell continued. "He had a fierce intelligence, and a way with words which was untouchable."
Recorded in 1970, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" was a percussion-backed anti-establishment opus that challenged advertising, media and police brutality.
The revolution "will not make you look five pounds thinner... will not go better with Coke," he stated in the recording. Popular TV shows "will no longer be so damned relevant... because black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day."