Apple considering takeover bid for Tidal, Jay Z's music-streaming service – reports

Technology giant is mulling a bid to acquiring Tidal because of its strong ties to popular artists such as Madonna, reports Wall Steet Journal

Apple considering takeover bid for Tidal, Jay Z's music-streaming service – reports
Jay Z bought Tidal to rival Spotify following criticism of the royalties it pays. Photograph: MediaPunch/Rex/Shutterstock

Apple is reportedly considering a potential takeover bid for Jay Z’s music-streaming service, Tidal.

The technology giant is exploring the idea of acquiring Tidal because of its strong ties to popular artists including Kanye West and Madonna, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sources told the newspaper that “exploratory talks” were continuing and they might not result in a deal. But a Tidal spokesman denied its executives had discussed a deal with Apple, the Wall Street Journal said.

Jay Z joined forces with a host of music stars in March last year to unveil Tidal as a rival to Spotify, following criticism of the amount they pay acts in royalties.

Swedish technology company Aspiro, which owned Tidal, was bought out by the rap mogul for $56m.

Jay Z was joined at a launch event in New York by West, Alicia Keys and his wife, Beyonce, who have stakes in the company, along with fellow Tidal co-owners Calvin Harris and Chris Martin, who appeared via video link.

Last month West used Tidal to unveil the controversial video to his song Famous, featuring depictions of a host of naked celebrities including Taylor Swift.

Tidal is also the only streaming service offering the back catalogue of the late music superstar Prince, who died in April after an accidental overdose.

In the UK, the site’s flagship monthly subscription fee – which includes high definition audio and HD music videos – is double the amount of the highest Spotify monthly cost. Tidal also offers a monthly deal in line with its rivals.

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Old Man Trump: Tom Morello gives new life to Woody Guthrie's protest song

Three artists are finishing and producing Guthrie’s song criticizing Donald Trump’s father and reflecting on race – a very current topic in his campaign

Old Man Trump: Tom Morello gives new life to Woody Guthrie's protest song
Guthrie penned Old Man Trump at a time when he was thinking deeply about race and segregation in the US. Photograph: Eric Schaal/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

More than 60 years ago, Woody Guthrie bemoaned his landlord – Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump – in unrecorded song lyrics. Now a group of artists has turned his writing into a modern protest song as Trump’s son Donald continues his candidacy for US president.

Three artists have collaborated to finish and produce Old Man Trump, Guthrie’s song inspired by Fred Trump. The track, which had never been previously recorded, was released last week by Firebrand Records just months after the lyrics were re-discovered and publicized. Old Man Trump was recorded by riot folk singer Ryan Harvey with Ani DiFranco and guitarist Tom Morello.

“You’ve got Donald Trump talking about making America great again … and so here’s Woody Guthrie, one of the definers of American history, coming out after his death and saying ‘No, it wasn’t a great era and in fact your father was part of the problem,’” Harvey said.

Guthrie, a pillar of American protest music most famous for the alternative national anthem This Land Is Your Land, signed his Brooklyn lease with Trump senior as his landlord in 1950. The real estate developer inspired song lyrics and other writings, whose existence and relevance remained forgotten until recently.

In January, Will Kaufman, a Guthrie expert and professor at the University of Central Lancashire, brought to light Guthrie’s impassioned writings about Trump. Kaufman said he found the Guthrie’s writings before Donald Trump had announced his candidacy while doing research for an upcoming book about Guthrie. After Kaufman re-publicized Guthrie’s writings, Harvey began looking to record the song for the first time because of the lyrics’ enduring relevance, he said.

“It’s about how stuff was racist in the 50s and how stuff is racist now,” Harvey said of the song. “This is a modern song that just happened to be written in the past.” Harvey found enthusiastic collaborators looking to stand against the “politics of hate”.

In a video introduction to the song, guitarist Morello implores listeners to “stand up” against Trump.

“When it comes to race relations, he’s like an old-school segregationist. When it comes to foreign policy, he’s like an old-school napalmist. When it comes to women’s issues, he’s like a frat-house rapist,” Morello says in the video. “So let’s not elect that guy.”

The elder Trump was Guthrie’s landlord for two years in the 1950s. The public housing complex, named Beach Haven, was built near Coney Island and almost exclusively housed white tenants. (Kaufman described the neighborhood as “lily-white”.) Trump, who built Beach Haven using federal loans, made significant profits from the project.

In 1954, after Guthrie had already moved out, Trump was the subject of a federal investigation for overstating the cost of developing Beach Haven and pocketing the $3.7m difference. A Village Voice investigative series published in 1979 looked at the Trumps’ real estate empire, including the cases brought by the US justice department alleging “racially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents”.

Guthrie’s writings focus in particular on the racial segregation within the housing complex: “I suppose/Old Man Trump knows/Just how much/Racial Hate/he stirred up/In the bloodpot of human hearts/When he drawed/That color line/Here at his/1800 family project”.

Guthrie penned Old Man Trump at a time when he was thinking deeply about race and segregation in the US, Kaufman said. In a letter to his friend activist Stetson Kennedy, Guthrie described the Beach Haven complex as a “JimCrow [sic] town”.

“His landlord Fred Trump is in essence the mayor of ‘JimCrow town’, this segregated town,” Kaufman explained. Guthrie lived in Beach Haven for two years until his wife broke the lease with Trump when Guthrie became increasingly ill after being diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. Kaufman said he returned to Guthrie’s writings on Fred Trump as Donald Trump began to discuss race on the campaign trail. Trump has proposed banning all Muslims from the US and said an Indiana-born federal judge was biased because of his Mexican heritage.

“I think it is really important that Woody is speaking to us from beyond the grave now,” Kaufman said.

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Paul Simon may be on his final tour: showbiz doesn’t hold any interest for me

The 74-year-old legendary singer and songwriter said he is considering retiring from music after his current tour: ‘I am going to see what happens if I let go’

Paul Simon may be on his final tour: showbiz doesn’t hold any interest for me
‘It’s an act of courage to let go,’ Simon says. Photograph: Myrna Suarez

Paul Simon is considering retiring from the music, the legendary singer and songwriter has said in an interview.

“You’re coming towards the end,” Simon told the New York Times on Tuesday.

“Showbiz doesn’t hold any interest for me,” Simon told the paper. “None.”

Simon, 74, is returning to his childhood home in Queens, New York this week for the final performances of his North American tour. Simon met his first music partner Art Garfunkel in Queens, where the two attended school together before launching their eponymous folk duo.

Simon reflected on his decades-long career, throughout which he has produced 13 solo studio albums, with columnist Jim Dwyer.

“It’s an act of courage to let go,” Simon said. “I am going to see what happens if I let go. Then I’m going to see, who am I? Or am I just this person that was defined by what I did? And if that’s gone, if you have to make up yourself, who are you?”

In June, Simon released his latest album Stranger to Stranger, which debuted at the top spot on Billboard’s rock and Americana/folk albums charts, the artist’s best performance since 1987.

Simon is scheduled to begin a European tour in October, in what could end up being the last set of concerts of his career.

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Apple wins patent on technology to stop fans filming gigs

Infrared device would be able to block fans using their iPhones to record shows, films and other live events

Apple wins patent on technology to stop fans filming gigs
Screen saver … a fan films a show on their phone. Photograph: JoeFox/Alamy

The spread of smartphones has created a divide among gig-goers. There are those who like to hold their phone up for large chunks of the show, to capture footage of the band. And there are those who like to stand and watch the group and listen to the music, without any screens in their way.

Now, it seems, the latter group could be on their way to victory in the eternal struggle between the filmers and the watchers. Pitchfork reports that Apple has won approval from the US Patent and Trademark Office for technology that could be used to prevent fans filming or taking photos of gigs on their iPhones.

The patent, headed “Systems and methods for receiving infrared data with a camera designed to detect images based on visible light”, outlines how infrared light could be used to prevent filming: “For example, an infrared emitter can be located in areas where picture or video capture is prohibited, and the emitter can generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands to disable the recording functions of devices. An electronic device can then receive the infrared signals, decode the data and temporarily disable the device’s recording function based on the command.”

What makes this relevant to music is that one of Apple’s “perspective view[s] of an illustrative system for communicating infrared data in accordance with one embodiment of the invention” depicts a band on a stage, and an iPhone screen with the words “recording disabled”, suggesting that this – along with preventing filming in cinemas – is one of Apple’s suggested usages for the technology.

Apple wins patent on technology to stop fans filming gigs
Band blocker … How Apple’s new technology would work. Photograph: Public domain

Filming of concerts is not just an annoyance to musicians – many of whom ask their fans to put their devices away at concerts – but also a problem for artists who want to play unreleased songs live, but have to deal with the prospect of those songs popping up on YouTube long before the official release.

In recent months, too, artists have become increasingly vociferous about poor royalty payments from unauthorised YouTube uploads. While technology to stop fans filming concerts would only be a drop in the ocean in this regard, it would end one tranche of the unauthorised uploads that appear on the video site.

Apple wins patent on technology to stop fans filming gigs
An audience member recording a band at a festival – millions of unauthorised videos end up on YouTube. Photograph: Alamy

The specialist Apple site 9to5Mac notes that the technology in Apple’s patent – which the tech giant first applied for in 2011 – is now not the most up-to-date: “It’s possible that the technology described by the patent has been superseded by things like iBeacons, which could conceivably trigger the same kind of functionality more reliably – infrared feels like a rather elderly method of data-transmission these days,” the site commented.


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Idris Elba and Tina Fey invited to more diverse Academy after #OscarsSoWhite

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts’ invite list was 46% women and 41% people of color, in a substantial step to address racial diversity

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts’ invite list was 46% women and 41% people of color, in a substantial step to address racial diversity
Idris Elba at the Bafta awards in 2016. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

The 2016 membership invite list for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is 46% women and 41% people of color, the most diverse intake yet, according to the organization’s figures.

The list of the class of 683 new members invited – including America Ferrera, Tina Fey, and Kate Beckinsale – to join the organization was released on Wednesday, a substantial step in addressing critiques over the Academy’s lack of racial diversity, following a furor in January after no actors of color were nominated for any major awards for the second year in a row.

The Academy’s membership list forms the voting base for the Oscars. At the moment, membership is just 25% female and 8% people of color, according to the Academy.

The 2016 intake – assuming all of the invitations are accepted – will bring the female membership percentage up by two points and the minority membership percentage up by three points. The entire academy would grow to 7,789 members.

The controversy led to criticism from leading civil rights figures such as Al Sharpton that actors such as Idris Elba and Michael B Jordan – who are included in the 2016 list – Will Smith had been snubbed.

It was followed by a campaign which organized around the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

Emma Watson, Freida Pinto, Ice Cube, Eva Mendes, John Boyega, Marlon Wayans, Mark Rylance, Ken Loach, Daniel Dae Kim, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Rachel McAdams, Patti LuPone, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Michelle Rodriguez, Ryan Coogler, Brie Larson, and the Wachowski sisters were all among the invitees.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts’ invite list was 46% women and 41% people of color, in a substantial step to address racial diversity
Brie Larson arrives for the 88th annual Academy Awards ceremony, which was criticized for its all-white actor nomination list. Photograph: Mike Nelson/EPA

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs – who has no direct say in award nominations – told Variety that the new list represented “a major step forward” toward the goal of full inclusion, adding: “In the next four years, it’s important to finalize the goal that we set. The conversation is continuing. I think there is going to be a lot of positive energy that will pollinate and make more.”

In January, Isaacs promised that the Academy would double its minority and female membership by 2020, but unfortunately, the road would still prove rocky; Isaacs was forced to apologize again after two dozen Academy members published an open letter complaining about “tasteless and offensive” skits playing on racial stereotypes at the ceremony.

In response, Isaacs appointed several new governors with diverse backgrounds to the Academy’s board.

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James Cameron: Force Awakens lacked 'imagination' of Star Wars prequels

Director of Avatar and Titanic supports JJ Abrams but criticises the most recent addition to the Star Wars franchise

James Cameron Force Awakens lacked 'imagination' of Star Wars prequels
Lacked the innovative visuals of the originals, says James Cameron. What do you think? Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photograph: Film Frame/AP

It has smashed box-office records around the world and been hailed by critics as a franchise-saver, but there’s one high-profile filmgoer who was underwhelmed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

James Cameron has said that JJ Abrams’s reboot lacked the “innovative visual imagination” of the original films. Asked for his opinion, the director, a close friend of Star Wars creator George Lucas, echoed the thoughts of many who felt that Abrams had not added anything new to the franchise.

“I don’t want to say too much about the film cos I also have a lot of respect for JJ Abrams, and I want to see where they’re taking it next, to see what they’re doing with it,” he said.

“I have to say that I felt that George’s group of six films had more innovative visual imagination, and this film was more of a retrenchment to things you had seen before and characters you had seen before, and it took a few baby steps forward with new characters. So for me the jury’s out, I wanna see where they go with it.”

Abrams, who had previously rebooted the Star Trek franchise, was one of the architects, along with producer Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) of the Star Wars revival, initiated after Disney bought the rights from Lucas for over $4bn. Directing duties on the forthcoming Episode VIII are being handled by Looper’s Rian Johnson, while the first in a planned series of spin-offs, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is being directed by Godzilla’s Gareth Edwards. That project is currently undergoing reshoots to “lighten the film’s mood”, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Global box office takings from The Force Awakens exceeded $2bn in February this year, making it only the third film in history to break that total. The other two films, Titanic and Avatar, were both directed by Cameron.

Last year, Cameron reviewed another high-profile reboot: Terminator Genisys. Inspired by the Terminator films that Cameron co-wrote and directed, Genisys was criticised by many for simply copying the best bits of the original films, before muddying the franchise with unimaginative and confusing plot twists.

“I start to see things I recognise,” said Cameron. “It’s being very respectful of the first two films. Then all of the sudden, it just swerves. And now I’m going on a journey. I feel like the franchise has been reinvigorated, like this is a renaissance.”

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Scotty Moore, guitarist on Elvis's early hits, dies aged 84

Moore only worked with Elvis for three years, but helped invent the sound that influenced everyone from Keith Richards to Bruce Springsteen

Scotty Moore, guitarist on Elvis's early hits, dies aged 84
Guitar man … Scotty Moore. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Scotty Moore, the pioneering rock guitarist whose sharp, graceful style helped Elvis Presley shape his revolutionary sound and inspired a generation of musicians that included Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Bruce Springsteen, died on Tuesday. He was 84.

Moore died at his home in Nashville, said biographer James L Dickerson, who confirmed the death through a family friend.

Dickerson called Moore and icon and said: “As a musician, I consider him one of the co-founders of rock’n’roll because of the guitar licks that he invented.”

Presley’s ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, echoed that sentiment in a statement: “Elvis loved Scotty dearly and treasured those amazing years together, both in the studio and on the road. Scotty was an amazing musician and a legend in his own right. The incredible music that Scotty and Elvis made together will live forever and influence generations to come.”

Moore, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was the last survivor of a combo that included Presley, bassist Bill Black and producer Sam Phillips.

Moore was a session musician when he and Black were thrown together with Presley on 5 July 1954, in the Memphis-based Sun Records studios. Presley was a self-effacing but determined teen anxious to make a record. Moore’s bright riffs and fluid solos were natural complements to Presley’s strumming rhythm guitar, and Black’s hard-slapping work on a standup bass gave Presley the foundation on which he developed the fresh blend of blues, gospel and country that came to be called rock’n’roll.

“One day, we went to have coffee with Sam and his secretary, Marion Keisker, and she was the one who brought up Elvis,” Moore said in a 2014 interview with Guitar Player magazine. “We didn’t know, but Marion had a crush on Elvis, and she asked Sam if he had ever talked to that boy who had been in there.

“Sam said to Marion, ‘Go back in there and get that boy’s telephone number, and give it to Scotty.’ Then, Sam turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t you listen to this boy, and see what you think.’ Marion came back with a slip of paper, and it said ‘Elvis Presley.’ I said, ‘Elvis Presley, what the hell kind of a name is that?’”

They covered a wide range of songs for the now-legendary Sun sessions, from That’s All Right to Mystery Train. After That’s All Right drew attention, Presley, Moore and Black took to the road to play any gig they could find, adding drummer DJ Fontana and trying to be heard over thousands of screaming fans.

Moore spoke about that recording session many times, remembering that it was not going well until Presley broke into a spontaneous, upbeat version of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s That’s All Right. Moore and Black began jamming with Presley and helped work out the version that Phillips put on tape.

“Sam poked his head out of the door – this was before mixing consoles had a talkback button – and he said, ‘What are you guys doing? That sounds pretty good. Why don’t you keep doing it?’” Moore told Guitar Player. “So I got my guitar, ran through it a couple of times, and that was it. That was the beginning of, how do you say it, all hell breaking loose!”

Elvis was the one who became a star, but young musicians listened closely to Moore’s contributions, whether the slow, churning solo he laid down on Heartbreak Hotel or the flashy lead on Hard-Headed Woman.

“Everyone else wanted to be Elvis,” Keith Richards once observed. “I wanted to be Scotty.”

Moore, Black and Fontana backed Presley for his shocking TV appearances and early movies, but by 1957 had tired of what Moore called “Elvis economics”. In the memoir That’s Alright, Elvis, published in 1997, Moore noted that he earned not much more than $8,000 in 1956, while Presley became a millionaire. Moore also cited tension with Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

“We couldn’t go talk to Elvis and talk about anything,” Moore, who along with Black left Presley’s group, told the Tennessean newspaper in 1997. “There wasn’t ever any privacy. It was designed that way, but not by Elvis. It’s not that I feel bitterness, just disappointment.”

Moore worked one more time with Presley, on the 1968 comeback TV special that helped return him to the top of the charts. But Moore’s compensation didn’t even cover his travel expenses, he later said, and he was not asked to join Presley’s band for their tours in the 1970s.

Starting in the late 50s, Moore worked on various projects. In 1959, singer Thomas Wayne had a Top 5 hit, Tragedy, on Moore’s Fernwood Records. Moore put out a solo album in 1964 called The Guitar That Changed the World! and played with Fontana on the 1997 Presley tribute album All the King’s Men, featuring Richards, Levon Helm and other stars. He and Fontana also backed Paul McCartney for the ex-Beatle’s cover of That’s All Right. In 2000, Moore was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. More recently, he was a recording studio manager, engineer and businessman.

“He was a class act as a human being,” biographer Dickerson told the Associated Press. “Besides being one of the best guitarists that ever lived and most inventive, he was a great person – and you don’t always find that in the music industry.”

Dickerson said a family member of Moore’s late longtime companion, Gail Pollock, confirmed the death on 29 June. Pollock died in November 2015.

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Beyoncé, Formation World Tour, Sunderland review – she slays

Bey takes the Stadium of Light by storm, shrugging off the rain with a glittering magnificence and Lemonade’s brutalist rhythms

Beyoncé, Formation World Tour, Sunderland review – she slays
Beyoncé: no other female singer is currently as influential. Photograph: Daniela Vesco

“What’s the difference between Sunderland FC and Beyoncé? Only one can fill the Stadium of Plight,” one wag tweeted on Tuesday morning. Others wondered whether Sunderland, the first town to declare for leave in the EU referendum, would mistake the track Freedom, from Beyoncé’s current album, Lemonade, as a Brexit endorsement. But there were few such cynics among the near-capacity (tickets were still available, and selling for under face value before the show) crowd at the first European date of the Formation world tour.

Beyoncé has been opening her shows by advising audiences to shout “I slay!” – a canny way of spreading the fierceness. She is such a motherlode of confidence that she retired her Sasha Fierce alter ego several years ago because Sasha’s work was done: Beyoncé had integrated her private shyness and public forcefulness into the colossus Queen Bey, as she’s known to her Beyhive fanbase. No other female singer is currently as influential; she’s using her platform – and what a platform; the US leg of the tour grossed up to $11m a night – not just to sell her new Lemonade album, but to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement, especially the lives of black women and girls, whose stories are in the fabric of Lemonade.

Beyoncé, Formation World Tour, Sunderland review – she slays
Beyonce performs during the Formation world tour at Stadium of Light. Photograph: Daniela Vesco

One thing she can’t control is the weather; it’s hard to credit that she would let a mere drizzle stop play, but she was 45 minutes late. When she appeared, in the first of a dozen spangled leotards and flanked by a battalion of dancers, she instantly got the crowd onside by commanding, “If you’re proud of who you are and where you’re from, say: ‘I slay’!”

Seeming at once imperious and near-approachable is her speciality. Performing Lemonade’s bitterest songs – Sorry and Don’t Hurt Yourself, which address her husband Jay Z’s unfaithfulness – she’s a pillar of rage; minutes later, she’s the proud mother, showing a picture of her daughter.

Even the interludes were heavy with concept. While she changed costumes, excerpts from Lemonade’s videos played across a large screen: here a razor blade emerges from her mouth, there she drives a monster truck, then her video image whispers: “Rest in peace, my true love.”

Beyoncé undoubtedly slays, whether by casually unfurling an early track, Me, Myself and I, that displayed her voice’s richness, or by maintaining an intimidating chill during the anti-police brutality track Formation. Then there was the moment during Freedom when she executed a heavy-limbed ballet in a tank of water – in short, she cannot be accused of neglecting the visual side of performance. There are times, though, when her glittering magnificence and the pounding, brutalist rhythms of the new album induced a desire for a moment’s respite.

There are unexpected moments of levity, however, and plenty of genuine smiles – during an a cappella version of Love on Top, sung while seated, she seemed sincerely delighted to be in the nippy north-east, with only pyrotechnics to ward off the chill.

Disgracefully, the glorious Crazy in Love and Bootylicious were dispatched in a three-minute medley towards the end, but that’s her royal prerogative. As the stadium slowly emptied, nobody looked to have been short-changed.

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Keith Richards to tell story of early years in BBC documentary

The Rolling Stone will star in Keith Richards – The Origin of the Species, directed by Julien Temple

Keith Richards to tell story of early years in BBC documentary
Keith Richards, who will front a new documentary by Julien Temple as part of a new BBC season, My Generation. Photograph: Jane Rose

Keith Richards will front a BBC2 documentary about his formative years growing up in post-war Britain and curate a “lost weekend” of films and live performances for BBC4.

The Rolling Stones rocker will star in the film Keith Richards – The Origin of the Species, directed by Julien Temple, which will be a centrepiece of the BBC’s My Generation season about the history of pop music.

“There was a feeling late ‘50s/early ‘60s that there was a change coming,” Richards says in the film, which will air on the BBC next month.

“Harold Macmillan actually said it – ‘The winds of change’ and all that – but he didn’t mean it in quite the same way. I certainly felt that my generation and what was happening and the feeling in the air – was it’s time to push limits. The world is ours now and you can rise or fall on it.”

Richards’s weekend of programmes for BBC4 will feature two nights of shows hand-picked by the man himself, the first time the BBC4 schedules have been taken over in this way, each introduced by the guitarist.

The BBC said the film by Temple, whose other credits include Glastonbury, Absolute Beginners and the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, would “reclaim on film for the first time” Richards’s roots growing up in south-east London.

Temple, who made a concert film in 1991 with the band called Stones at the Max, said: “Listening to the early Stones as a kid changed everything for me. I felt a new way of living emerging, a new kind of person becoming possible – something I wanted to be a part of.

“And without a doubt I thought Keith Richards was the origin of the species. This film sets out to explore how both he and the ‘60s in England came about.”

Richards, 72, is still touring with the Rolling Stones and they are expected to release an album of new material later this year. He published his autobiography, Life, to critical acclaim six years ago.

He also became an unlikely film star appearing in several of the the Pirates of the Caribbean films alongside Johnny Depp.

Cassian Harrison, BBC4 editor, said: “Keith Richards is undoubtedly one of the key icons of our age.

“His film for BBC2 will be a fascinating exploration into the post-war years, how they impacted both his life and others and influenced the 60s and the decades that followed.

“And his curated weekend of programmes for BBC4 will be a thrilling musical journey for viewers – giving an extraordinary and unique insight into Keith’s passions and inspirations.”

Jan Younghusband, head of music TV commissioning, added: “Keith Richards is an outstanding talent and an inspiration to us all.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring his unique and entertaining insights to our audience, in this special collaboration with Julien Temple. I know it will be a totally original experience.”


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The Secret Life of Pets repels alien invasion at UK box office

Family-friendly animation scampers to No 1 ahead of Independence Day: Resurgence, while Elvis & Nixon are all shook up on the indie circuit

The Secret Life of Pets repels alien invasion at UK box office
Biggest animated opening of the year so far … The Secret Life of Pets. Photograph: Universal

The winner: The Secret Life of Pets

Illumination Entertainment, maker of Despicable Me and Minions, has scored another big hit with its latest animated feature, The Secret Life of Pets. The opening weekend gross of £9.58m includes £3.63m from previews the previous Saturday and Sunday. Although the film was accompanied by a Minions short, the Universal-owned animation house will be pleased that these numbers have been achieved by a new property that isn’t a Despicable Me sequel or spinoff.

With or without previews, Pets has delivered the biggest animated opening of the year. Disney’s Zootropolis began with £5.31m including £1.73m in previews. Kung Fu Panda 3 kicked off with £4.77m including £1.59m in previews. Angry Birds started with £2.14m.

As for former Illumination hits, Despicable Me began its run in October 2010 with £3.66m including previews of £205,000. Despicable Me 2 followed three years later with a stunning debut of £14.82m including £4.87m in previews. A year ago, Minions launched with £11.56m.

Warm word of mouth has propelled Zootropolis to £23.65m. Given the stronger start, Universal will surely be hoping to push Pets beyond that tally. No direct competition arrives until Ice Age: Collision and Finding Dory in July.

The runner-up: Independence Day: Resurgence

When Independence Day arrived in US cinemas in July 1996, it set the template for the summer action blockbuster, concentrating Hollywood studio minds on high concepts and spectacle rather than A-list star packages. The following month, it reached UK cinemas, taking an explosive £7.01m, on its way to a final tally of £37.1m.

Belated sequel Independence Day: Resurgence arrives in a different landscape in which there has been no shortage of action blockbusters propelled by high concepts and spectacular visual effects. Its UK opening of £5.07m included previews of £944,000. If previews are included, that’s the ninth biggest debut of the year so far, behind Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (£14.62m), Captain America: Civil War (£14.47m), Deadpool (£13.73m), The Jungle Book (£9.90m), The Secret Life of Pets (£9.58m), X-Men: Apocalypse (£7.35m), Zootropolis (£5.31m) and The Revenant (£5.24m).

Indie movies stumble

Several new releases offered alternatives to the big two blockbusters, and all under performed to varying degrees. Elvis & Nixon starring Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey recounts an intriguing celebrity meeting, but it was always hard to imagine audiences flocking, especially outside the US. It begins with £57,000 from 107 cinemas, yielding a weak £531 average. But that result is positively joyful when compared with The Meddler, starring Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne. This film needed to be in indie cinemas to connect with its likeliest audience, but those venues had other choices, and Sony instead released it overwhelmingly in multiplexes, grossing £19,300 from 103 venues.

Including previews, arthouse titles Remainder, Suburra, Adult Life Skills and Ma Ma, rereleases Spirited Away and Poor Cow, and documentaries No Home Movie and Crazy About Tiffany’s grossed £71,000 from 143 cinemas. Meanwhile, existing indie titles suffered some surprisingly big drops, with Tale of Tales, Love & Friendship and When Marnie Was There all falling by more than 50%.

The gravity defier: Me Before You

While most films suffered big falls, Me Before You once again enjoyed the smallest drop of any title in the Top 10, down 32%. Gross after 24 days is a healthy £8.02m. The depressed state of the market beyond the top few titles is underlined by the fact that The Nice Guys saw box office fall by 52%, it yet rose from sixth to fifth place. Weekend takings of £203,000 represent the lowest for any film in the UK Top 5 since May 2013.

Heading in the opposite direction to The Nice Guys is Gods of Egypt, plummeting from third to 11th place, with an 80% drop in box office.

The future

Thanks to the arrival of The Secret Life of Pets and Independence Day: Resurgence, takings are up a welcome 96% on the previous frame. However, they’re down 10% on the equivalent session a year ago, when Minions knocked Jurassic World off the top spot.

Bookers are hoping that Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie will deliver a boost. Female friendship groups are the primary audience, but the early exit of England from Euro 2016 may embolden distributor Fox to position more aggressively for couples. Also in the mix: Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in Central Intelligence, and Emma Watson and Daniel Brühl in The Colony. Now You See Me 2 follows on 4 July, and The Legend of Tarzan on 6 July.

Top 10 films, 24-26 June

  1. The Secret Life of Pets, £9,580,039 from 592 sites (new)
  2. Independence Day: Resurgence, £5,067,855 from 610 sites (new)
  3. The Conjuring 2, £1,563,015 from 510 sites. Total: £7,735,053
  4. Me Before You, £669,924 from 483 sites. Total: £8,023,271
  5. The Nice Guys, £202,580 from 291 sites. Total: £3,467,375
  6. Alice Through the Looking Glass, £189,077 from 409 sites. Total: £9,395,165
  7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, £185,584 from 384 sites. Total: £5,823,141
  8. X-Men: Apocalypse, £173,187 from 238 sites. Total: £18,120,476
  9. The Jungle Book, £105,258 from 295 sites. Total: £45,629,603
  10. The Boss, £103,033 from 242 sites. Total: £1,603,314

Other openers

  • Elvis & Nixon, £56,790 (including £534 previews) from 107 sites
  • Sardaarji 2, £56,382 from 18 sites
  • The Meddler, £19,327 from 103 sites
  • Remainder, £16,569 (including £7,032 previews) from 21 sites
  • Adult Life Skills, £16,252 (including £875 previews) from 20 sites
  • Spirited Away, £14,298 from 44 sites (reissue)
  • Suburra, £11,321 (including £2,650 previews) from 27 sites
  • Ma Ma, £6,427 from 18 sites
  • Raman Raghav 2.0, £4,650 from nine sites
  • Poor Cow, £4,581 from seven sites (reissue)
  • Ekk Albela, £1,398 from 20 sites
  • Globe On Screen: Richard II, £1,059 from five sites
  • No Home Movie, £908 from two sites
  • Crazy About Tiffany’s, £621 from four sites
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Adele's albums top charts after Glastonbury performance

Adele’s headline set sends 19 and 21 back to the top 40, with 25 due to return to No 1, while other performers enjoy post-festival sales

Adele's albums top charts after Glastonbury performance
Adele heads back to number one on the Official Albums Chart following her triumphant performance at Glastonbury Festival. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Adele’s headline set at Saturday night’s Glastonbury has resulted in a surge in sales of the singer’s already multiple platinum-selling albums.

Her three albums – 19, 21 and 25 have all hurtled up the charts in the past few days: her most recent album, 25 rises from No 13 to No 1 in the Official Charts, with sales up 176% on the previous week. Its increase in popularity was also a result of the album’s arrival on streaming services on 24 June, a day before her debut Glastonbury performance.

21, meanwhile, has climbed from No 58 to No 9 in the charts, while her debut, 19, looks set to re-enter the top 40 for the first time in six months, charting at No 13.

Most surprisingly, the biggest increase in terms of sales came from a group who performed at the festival’s smaller Park stage, rather than the Pyramid: according to Amazon UK’s latest data, Mercury Rev saw a sales increase of 6,600% the day after they performed before Philip Glass’ tribute to David Bowie.

The post-Glastonbury sales boost has also seen Muse’s most recent album Drones rise from No 179 to No 15; Jeff Lynne’s ELO’s best-of album – All Over the World – is now at No 3; with further sales increases for the 1975, Foals, the Last Shadow Puppets, ZZ Top, Chvrches, and Tame Impala.

Streams of Viola Beach have also increased by 6,148% following Coldplay’s tribute to the band on Sunday. The quartet died, along with their manager Craig Tarry, in a car accident in Sweden earlier this year.

The Official UK Charts are published on Friday.

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China 'bans Lady Gaga' after Dalai Lama meeting

Communist party’s propaganda department reportedly issues ‘important instruction’ blocking singer’s entire repertoire from mainland

Lady Gaga has reportedly been added to a list of hostile foreign forces banned by China’s Communist party after she met with the Dalai Lama to discuss yoga.

The American pop singer, who has sold more than 27m albums, met the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader on Sunday before a conference in Indianapolis.

A video of the 19-minute encounter – in which the pair pondered issues such as meditation, mental health and how to detoxify humanity – was posted on the singer’s Facebook account.

The meeting sparked an angry reaction from Beijing, which has attacked the spiritual leader as a “wolf in monk’s robes”.

The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in March 1959, insists he is merely seeking greater autonomy from Chinese rule for Tibetans.

But China’s rulers consider him a separatist who they claim is conspiring to split the Himalayan region from China in order to establish theocratic rule there.

Following Lady Gaga’s meeting, the Communist party’s mysterious propaganda department issued “an important instruction” banning her entire repertoire from mainland China, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily reported on Monday.

Chinese websites and media organisations were ordered to stop uploading or distributing her songs in a sign of Beijing’s irritation, the newspaper said.

The propaganda department also issued orders for party-controlled news outlets such as state broadcaster CCTV and newspapers the People’s Daily and the Global Times to condemn the meeting.

Asked by a foreign reporter whether the tête-à-tête would create a “bad romance” between Beijing and Lady Gaga, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry initially hinted that he was not familiar with the pop star’s Grammy-winning back catalogue. “Who?” Hong Lei said when asked for Beijing’s view on the singer’s meeting.

Hong went on to condemn the Dalai Lama’s global campaigning.

“The purpose of his visits and activities in other countries is just to promote his proposal for Tibetan independence,” the spokesperson said, according to AP. “We hope that people from the international community can be fully aware of his true colours and nature.”

All mention of the Lady Gaga controversy appeared to have been purged from the official transcript of that press conference.

On Tuesday afternoon it was still possible to download Poker Face and Bad Romance on China’s QQ Music and NetEase Cloud Music players. But a report about the Dalai Lama’s meeting with Lady Gaga appeared to have been deleted from the NetEase website.

China has previously banned artists and groups such as Maroon 5, Bjork and Oasis from performing in the country after they met with the Dalai Lama or spoke out in favour of him or Tibetan independence.

Experts suggested the American singer would have gone into her meeting with the spiritual leader with her eyes wide open as to the consequences.

“Lady Gaga knew how Beijing would react,” Bill Bishop, who runs the Sinocism newsletter, wrote on Twitter. “Good for her to show some courage, unlike most celebrities who are scared of bullying Beijing now.”

Lady Gaga, whose career has survived previous bans in China, has yet to respond to China’s reported ban of her work.

During her meeting with the Dalai Lama she said: “We have to cool the system down. It’s about less heat, more cooling, more relaxation but also [being] thoughtful and strategic.”

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Michael Eavis laments muddiest ever Glastonbury festival

Founder says he hasn’t seen anything like it in the music event’s 46-year history, and says it highlights climate change

Michael Eavis laments muddiest ever Glastonbury festival
Festivalgoers at Glastonbury on Saturday. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Glastonbury has suffered the worst rain and mud since the festival began 46 years ago, consuming the region’s entire supply of woodchip in the process.

Founder Michael Eavis said he will not consider moving the festival to later in the summer to avoid the wet, and blamed the torrential rain that hit the site in the weeks before the gates opened on global warming.

But he said he was amazed at how the 180,000 festivalgoers remained cheery despite the weather. “I drove round the whole site last night. It took right up until 4.30am and the sun was up and there was just thousands of happy people with smiles on their faces despite the adverse conditions. It is extraordinary. I do not know how they do it, but they love it so much,” he said.

“Every single bit of woodchip in the south of England, all of it is here over 1,000 acres. I’ve never seen mud like it in the whole life. This is worse than 1997,” he said, referring to the previously crowned “year of the mud”. “In all 46 years, it hasn’t been as bad as this,” he said.

Michael Eavis laments muddiest ever Glastonbury festival
Michael Eavis arrives on site at Glastonbury 2016. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

The mud was adding 15 minutes or more to journeys between stages, but good humour reigned despite pathways resembling swamps and mud being knee-deep in places.

Among this year’s most surprising guests were Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, who notably distanced himself from the party putsch back in HQ, partying the night away at the silent disco at 3.30am just before getting the first train back to London.

Celebrities spotted included Noel Gallagher, model Cara Delevingne, actor Bradley Cooper and Daisy Lowe.

Eavis promised concerned festival organisers that Glastonbury would remain home of the festival and any move to Longleat safari park in Wiltshire would be temporary, to give Worthy Farm a fallow year to recover.

Talks with Longleat are ongoing, but Eavis said it was not yet a firm plan. “We will be doing something hopefully in 2019, but they [Longleat] came this weekend to look and they are not that impressed,” he said. “This is the home of the festival as far as I’m concerned forever,” he added.

It takes 400 to 500 volunteers to pick up the rubbish, including thousands of miniature laughing gas canisters, out of the grass.

Michael Eavis laments muddiest ever Glastonbury festival
A trolley submerged in mud at Glastonbury 2016. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Eavis said: “All the churn of the ground. Over time it hardens in the sun, then we rotavate the land and pick up more rubbish, including these horrible metal canisters.”

On his wishlist for future festivals is Fleetwood Mac, but they want too much money, he said. “Adele did it for less, Rolling Stones did it for a reasonable rate. We can’t afford to spend £4-5m on people to play. Mick Fleetwood said he would do it himself, but come on. I’d like the rest of the band and they all want to be paid a lot of money,” he said.

Also on his wishlist are Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and Roger Waters. Eavis said tabloid reports that the band had been rejected in 2008 before singer Rick Wright died had “nothing to do with reality”. He said he would “work on getting Pink Floyd together again” at Glastonbury.

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50 Cent detained for cursing during concert in St Kitts and Nevis

Rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, was detained along with member of entourage by police for allegedly using ‘indecent language’ during performance

50 Cent detained for cursing during concert in St Kitts and Nevis
TMZ has reported that the word uttered by 50 Cent that led to his detainment was ‘motherfucker’. Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Police in St Kitts and Nevis said the rapper 50 Cent and a member of his entourage were detained and charged for allegedly using “indecent language” during a performance at a music festival.

Local police said in a statement on Sunday that 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, and entourage member Bajar Walter had been released on bail. They were not allowed to leave the Caribbean country, pending a Monday morning court appearance.

Representative Amanda Ruisi said in a statement on Sunday that the rapper was booked to host the St Kitts Music Festival on Saturday night, and that festival organizers insisted he also perform.

“There were profanities used during his performance,” Ruisi said, adding that Jackson would make sure to leave the profanity in the US during his next trip to the Caribbean country.

Employees at the police press office said they did not know what exact words were allegedly used during the Saturday night performance.

The website TMZ reported that the word in question was “motherfucker”, and pointed out that the rapper DMX was detained on the same charge in 2003.

Under the country’s Small Charges Act, it is an offense to use profane words in any public place. Police say an offender could be sent to jail depending on how serious the offense is considered to be.

Representatives for 50 Cent did not immediately return messages.

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Disney depiction of obese Polynesian god in film Moana sparks anger

Portrayal of the god Maui has prompted debate over unhealthy stereotypes of Polynesian men on screen

Disney depiction of obese Polynesian god in film Moana sparks anger
The depiction of Maui in the film has been described as ‘half pig, half hippo’. Photograph: YouTube/Disney

The depiction of a Polynesian character in a Disney film has prompted anger across the Pacific islands, with one New Zealand MP saying the portrayal of the god Maui as obese was “not acceptable”.

Jenny Salesa, who is of Tongan heritage, shared a picture on her Facebook account which said Disney’s rendering of Maui in the film Moana resembled a creature that was “half pig, half hippo”.

“When we look at photos of Polynesian men & women from the last 100-200 years, most of our people were not overweight and this negative stereotype of Maui is just not acceptable – No thanks to Disney,” Salesa wrote.

Disney depiction of obese Polynesian god in film Moana sparks anger
Jenny Salesa’s Facebook post about Maui.

According to 2014 data from the World Health Organisation nine of the ten most obese nations in the world are Pacific Islands.

Samoan professional rugby player Eliota Fuimanono Sapolu also expressed his disgust at Disney’s portrayal of Maui, writing on Facebook that “Maui looking like after he fished up the Islands, he deep fried em and and ate em”.

In Polynesian mythology Maui is a heroic figure who created the Pacific Islands by fishing them out of the sea.

Will Ilolahia, from the Pacific Island Media Association, told Waatea News that Disney’s version of Maui did not fit with his heroic endeavours in Pacific creation myths.

“He is depicted in the stories that’s been handed down, especially in my culture, as a person of strength, a person of magnitude and a person of a godly nature,” Illolalia said.

“This depiction of Maui being obese is typical American stereotyping. Obesity is a new phenomena because of the first world food that’s been stuffed down our throat.”

However, many people have commented on social media that Disney’s Maui looks strong and powerful, and that his physique is not unusual among Polynesian men.

Isoa Kavakimotu, a Tongan New Zealand man who identifies with being “a pretty big guy” created a YouTube video on the controversy, saying he had no problem with Disney’s Maui.

“I am fine with it,” he said.

“He doesn’t look fat to me, he looks a like a powerhouse who could do extraordinary labours.

“He is big for that reason. In the film they are sailing on a traditional waka, it is set before colonisation, I highly doubt a take-away store will pop up in the film. To me, he looks ready for action.”

Samoan comic book artist Michael Mulipola posted a satirical breakdown of Maui’s body type on Facebook and Twitter, which highlighted how his physical attributes were indicative of character- and his character in the Disney film was as a comedic side-kick, not a hero.

“Here, I’ve broken down the shapes and body types and how they inform the personalities of the characters,” he wrote.

“I’m not phased by the way Maui is designed in this film. In Polynesian mythology, Maui is the demi-god who inspired many myths and legends. In this film, he would of done a lot of those amazing feats but he’ll be a blow hard braggart who can be a bit of an idiot.There’s a reason the upcoming film is called Moana and not Maui.”

Disney has been contacted for a response.

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