The promoter behind John Lydon and Brandon Boyd's all-star Jesus Christ Superstar musical scrapped the tour two weeks before opening night due to "horrific" ticket sales. The spectacular, which was also set to feature former Destiny's Child star Michelle Williams and J.C. Chasez, was cancelled last month (May14) after tour producer Michael Cohl realised it would be a disaster.
Opening up about his decision for the first time, he tells Billboard.com, "We realised we had a problem the day we went on sale.
"We all worked very hard reinventing things, rethinking things, fighting the good fight, and it just got to the point... We had to make the right business decision... We've questioned a thousand things - if we had gone with one or two lead superstars, if we had gone with a cheaper ticket price. We knew that this was a very risky project... (but) we thought we had a shot."
Lydon and company were in rehearsals for the 54-city arena tour when they heard the news, and the former Sex Pistols star has since spoken of his disappointment.
Punk icon John Lydon is disappointed and shocked following the cancellation of his touring Jesus Christ Superstar musical. The former Sex Pistols star was in rehearsals as King Herod when he learned the show had been cancelled last week (ends30May14).
Reports suggest poor ticket sales were to blame, but a representative for Lydon admits he and castmates Michelle Williams, rocker Brandon Boyd and ex-'N SYNC star J.C. Chasez are still baffled by the news.
In a tweet on Lydon's official Twitter.com page, the rep writes, "Sorry for the delay updating people. We are in as much shock over the cancellation of Jesus Christ Superstar as everyone else.
"Rehearsals had been going extremely well. John was looking forward to being King Herod & working with such a great bunch of people.
"We are all bitterly disappointed. We hope people were not too inconvenienced. We know flights and hotels were booked... We feel for everyone from the fans to the cast and crew who were a joy to work with. If we knew more we would tell you."
The musical was just two weeks from opening night when producers cancelled the tour.
A Jesus Christ Superstar tour starring punk icon John Lydon has been cancelled less than two weeks before its first performance due to poor ticket sales. The former Sex Pistols star was set to hit the stage to play Biblical villain King Herod on the North American tour of the hit musical, which was due to kick off a 50-city trek in New Orleans, Louisiana on 9 June (14).
Also starring in the new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage show was Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd, former Destiny's Child singer Michelle Williams, and ex-'NSYNC star JC Chasez. Newcomer Ben Forster was set to play the lead role after starring in the London revival.
The cancellation was announced on the show's official website on Friday (30May14), and promoter Michael Cohl reveals it didn't make "business sense" to go ahead with a tour that wasn't selling.
He tells the New York Times, "It became obvious the shows were in trouble but we tried until the last moment to give it every chance to turn around. In the end it just did not make business sense to continue and we didn't want the cast to endure playing to disappointing audiences."
After the news broke, Boyd expressed his sadness on Twitter.com, writing, "I got fired from #JesusChristSuperstar today... but so did the rest of the cast so we're all sad together. Yeah, it's true. Tour cancelled."
Forster poured his emotions into a message, writing, "My heart is broken. My beautiful talented cast and company I adore. This wonderful show & opportunity is over. I'm so sorry. I am devastated... I am in New Orleans. I was mid rehearsal with JC Chasez on the floor. Going they (through) the end of the show. U (sic) guys must know we were ready for this (show)... I am so devastated. I'm sorry to everyone who got tickets and flights. Whoever f**ked it up I hate u (sic). But I forgive you, I'm Jesus... well was."
Celebrities including Jada Pinkett Smith, Amy Poehler and Leona Lewis have got behind an online campaign demanding the release of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls. More than 250 young females have been snatched from northern Nigeria in recent weeks by members of the Boko Haram extremist group, who want to deny them a Western education.
A campaign has been launched via Twitter.com, with the 'hashtag' #BringBackOurGirls, and now several stars are supporting the protest, which demands the girls' release and aims to put pressure on the Nigerian government to take action. Pinkett Smith urged fans to sign a petition calling for U.S. or global help with the situation.
Other stars to back the drive include actresses Alyssa Milano, Queen Latifah and Minnie Driver. Comedienne Poehler posted a picture of herself holding a piece of paper with the hashtag written on it, and told followers, "Shout! Participate! Show that you care!"
British singer Lewis posted a similar snap, while TV presenter/model Alexa Chung wrote her message in red lipstick on a mirror.
Singer Wyclef Jean wrote, "Children are the reward of life. Rescue our Nigerian sisters. The world is watching, Make your voice heard. Retweet! #BringBackOurGirls."
Public figures have also joined in the campaign, including U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot for campaigning for women's rights in Pakistan.
British pop star Michelle Heaton is adamant her maternal instincts help save her son after he contracted viral meningitis. The former Liberty X singer and her husband Hugh Hanley were caught up in a terrifying health scare in April (14) when their baby Aaron, born in February (14), fell ill.
Despite having none of the tell-tale signs, the tot was later diagnosed with viral meningitis, and Heaton has credited her own parental intuition with getting him seen by doctors.
Speaking on U.K. TV show Lorraine, she says, "He was about five, six weeks when we first went in (to hospital) and I took him in for something completely unrelated. Mother's instinct always knows best, always trust your mother's instinct. I knew something wasn't right, (but) I didn't know what. He didn't have a fever, he didn't have a rash, he didn't have any other telltale signs of meningitis, he was just bringing up his bottles and I thought maybe he had reflux disease and I wanted to get it checked.
"Within a matter of minutes (of arriving at hospital), he was rushed into a room where they administered a lumbar puncture on his spine and he was diagnosed with meningitis. At that point, they never show whether it's viral or bacterial...I didn't even know there were two types of meningitis until this happened to me."
Aaron was treated with antibiotics and was later allowed home, but he still faces further tests to ensure the virus caused no permanent damage: "He'll have a couple of exams in a couple of months time, hearing, sight and they'll look at his heart but the risks are minimal."
British pop star Michelle Heaton was thrown into a panic over the weekend (05-06Apr14) when her five-week-old son was admitted to hospital suffering from meningitis. The Liberty X star and her husband, Irish businessman Hugh Hanley, became parents for a second time in February (14) with the arrival of Aaron, a younger brother to the couple's two-year-old daughter Faith.
She took to her Twitter.com page to voice her concern after Aaron was hospitalised with viral meningitis on Saturday (05Apr14).
Heaton wrote in a series of posts on Sunday (06Apr14), "The last 24 hours has been the worst and scariest in my life... With everything I've been through mentally and physically nothing... I mean... nothing compares to that of when your baby is sick. Our beautiful baby boy has been very looked after in hospital after being diagnosed... with viral meningitis... And reflux disease just to top it off. He's fighting strong & taking the antibiotics well so far... But at only... 5 weeks old one can only imagine our... distress as parents. He's very sick and in pain with the reflux. The hospital are... amazing and he's well looked after... Hopefully we will be able to take our little man home soon... I'm sure we will."
She later thanked her fans, adding, "Thank you all for your messages of support. We have read them all, and it means allot (sic) .. So thank you."
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
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But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
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Ukrainian pop star Ruslana has been honoured by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama for her bravery after performing for political protestors in the troubled capital city of Kiev. The singer, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament, was invited to attend the International Women of Courage Awards in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday (04Mar14), when she was presented with the accolade, which celebrates the work of females around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace and equal rights issues.
Ruslana, who won the Eurovision Song Contest for the Ukraine in 2004, was chosen as one of 2014's 10 honourees after spending months alongside Kiev demonstrators calling for change through the power of song.
Tensions in the country escalated in recent weeks and violent clashes between activists and police in Kiev prompted former leader Viktor Yanukovych to go into hiding. He was replaced by parliamentary speaker Alexander Turchinov as acting president.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sparked fears he is attempting to quash Ukrainian citizens' calls for political reform and alignment with the European Union after sending armed troops to the Crimea region of the country last week (ends28Feb14). The move has been condemned by officials in the U.S. and Europe.
The musician, born Ruslana Lyzychko, has since called on her fellow countrymen and women to stand strong against the Russian invasion and continue to fight for their political beliefs.
She tells the BBC, "Everybody understands now that Ukraine is in danger. All Ukrainians (who are) strong enough, unite... Let's stop this war."
Liam Neeson's new action thriller Non-Stop has shot to the top of the North American box office chart with a $30 million (£18.75 million) haul. The movie, which co-stars Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong'o and Downton Abbey actress Michelle Dockery, debuts at number one, beating religious film Son of God into second place with $26.5 million (£16.6 million).
Animated adventure The Lego Movie slipped into third place after three weeks at number one, earning an extra $21 million (£13.1 million) to boost its domestic take past the $200 million (£125 million) mark.
George Clooney's The Monuments Men and Kevin Costner's spy thriller 3 Days to Kill rounded out the new top five.
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
Seventeen years ago, Harrison Ford grumbled four simple words that defined a genre, a demographic, and a country: "Get off my plane." In a pre-9/11 world, there was no shortage of jingoistic glee in a movie like Air Force One, in which a man's man American president doled out justice to a militia of Russian loyalist terrorists who made the silly mistake of attempting to hijack his flight home from Moscow. In 2014, we don't have the luxury of facing a plotline like this with reckless merriment. There's a damp gravity to the premise behind movies like Non-Stop, which in another time would have been nothing more than Taken on a Plane. But rigidly conscious of the connotations that attach to a story about a hijacking of a civilian international flight into John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, Non-Stop doesn't play too fast and loose. It still plays, and has some good fun doing so, but carefully.
From the getgo, we're anchored into the grim narrative of Liam Neeson's U.S. Air Marshall Bill Marks, who settles his demons with a healthy spoonful of whiskey. A dutiful officer even when liquored up, Marks eyeballs every nameless face in London's Heathrow Airport, silently introducing the bevvy of characters who'll come into play later on. After takeoff, Marks finds himself on the unwitting prowl for the anonymous party who's attempting to take down the red-eye through a series of manipulative text messages, well-timed threats, and clandestine killings. Chatty passenger Julianne Moore and flight attendant Michelle Dockery join Marks in his efforts to identify the mysterious criminal before the entire aircraft falls to his or her whims. So less Taken, more Murder, She Wrote.
Our roundup of suspects challenges our (and their) preconceived notions, and quite laughably — most vocal among Neeson's fellow passengers are a white beta-male school teacher (Scoot McNairy), a black computer engineer with an attitude of entitlement (Nate Parker), a softspoken Middle Eastern surgeon whose headwear gets more than a few focal shots (Omar Metwally), a middle-aged white businessman whose latest account landed him more than your house is worth (Frank Deal), an irate black youngster draped in irreverence (Corey Hawkins), and a white, bald, machismo-howling New York cop who secretly accepts his gay brother (Corey Stoll). Just a few talking heads short of Do the Right Thing, Non-Stop manages to goof on each man's (notice that they're all men — Moore, Dockery, and a barely-in-the-movie Lupita Nyong’o are kept shy of the action for most of the film) distaste for and distrust of one another as they each try to sidle up to, or undermine the harried Marks.
Non-Stop plays an interesting game with its characters and its audience, simultaneously painting the ignorance of its characters with a thick coat of comedy while pointing its finger straight out at us with accusations that we, too, thought it was whoever we just learned it wasn't, and for all the wrong reasons. "Shame on you!" Non-Stop chides, adding, "But let's keep going, this is fun!"
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It is fun — that's the miraculous thing. Without any "Get off my plane"s or "Yippee ki yay"s, Non-Stop keeps its action genre silliness in check (okay, there is a moment involving an airborne gun that'll institute some serious laugh-cheers), investing all of its good time in the game of claustrophobic Clue that we can't help but enjoy. It sacrifices some of its charm in a heavy-handed third act, tipping to one side of what was a pretty impressive balancing act up until that point. But its falter is not one that drags down the movie entirely. Fun and excitement are restored, sincerity is maintained, and even a few moments of sensitivity creep their way through. We might not live in a world of President Harrison Fords any longer, but Air Marshall Liam Neesons could actually be a step up.
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