Michael Jackson's longtime producing partner Quincy Jones has criticised the decision to release a new album of the late star's previously unheard material, slamming it as a purely money-making venture.
Jones, who produced Jackson's huge hit records Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad, was not involved in the making of the posthumous album Xscape, which topped the U.K. charts on Sunday (18May14) five years after the singer's death. He has now criticised the executors of Jackson's estate for allowing the album to be made, insisting the decision came down to money rather than artistry.
Jones tells Cbc.ca, "Xscape... They're trying to make money and I understand it. But it's about the money. The estate, the lawyers you know - it's about money." When asked whether it bothers him that this material has been released, Jones replies, "Yes, yep," before adding, "But it's not my business any more. It's not our business."
Michael Jackson's brother Jackie is adamant the King of Pop would have supported the hologram show at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night (18May14). The star-studded crowd at the prizegiving in Las Vegas was wowed when virtual technology was used to make it appear as if the Thriller hitmaker, who died in 2009, was performing onstage.
The stunt, titled the Michael Jackson Xperience, included a hologram of the legendary superstar singing Slave to the Rhythm, a track from the newly released posthumous album, Xscape. After witnessing the spectacle, Jackie Jackson is convinced his brother would have been thrilled by the stunt.
He tells People.com, "I've been hearing about the hologram, and people were talking about it, but to see it with my own eyes was incredible, amazing. "When he got up and started walking around - oh, my God... When he started dancing, unbelievable. It took me back. If Michael were here he would say thumbs up!"
The performance almost didn't go ahead - businessman Alki David, who claims to control the rights to the hologram technology, filed suit against Jackson's estate executors and Billboard Music Awards producers in a bid to stop the stunt. However, a Las Vegas judge dismissed the complaint on Friday (16May14).
Michael Jackson returned from beyond the grave to wow fans at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday (18May14) by performing onstage in hologram form, five years after his death. Producers of the Las Vegas prizegiving used virtual technology to make it appear as if the King of Pop had been brought back to life to sing and dance his way through new track Slave to the Rhythm.
Dressed in a white and gold jacket and red pants, he began the eerie appearance seated in a throne before joining a string of dancers to show off his fancy footwork, including his signature moonwalk, by strutting across the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena as he appeared to belt out the tune. The stunt, titled the Michael Jackson Xperience, left the audience in awe and earned a standing ovation from everyone in attendance.
Stars also took to their Twitter.com accounts to share their feelings about the performance, with newlywed Kelly Rowland writing, "We miss you Michael!", while actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler tweeted, "I have chills watching michael Jackson performance. Makes u (sic) realize there will never be a performer like him", and rapper Nicki Minaj commented, "Dat (sic) was mike?"
The virtual performance almost didn't happen after Jackson estate executors and Billboard Music Awards producers were slapped with legal action in an effort to put a stop to the show. Businessman Alki David, who claims to control the rights to the hologram technology, filed suit in Nevada on Thursday (16May14), insisting the Billboard gig would likely violate his patent, but his motion was dismissed on Friday (17May14) due to a lack of evidence, allowing the show to go on.
The Michael Jackson Xperience, organised to celebrate the release of his new posthumous album Xscape, beared similarities to the resurrection of Tupac Shakur at the 2012 Coachella music festival in California, where the dead rapper appeared onstage alongside Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in hologram form. The Thriller hitmaker died in 2009.
A behind-the-scenes documentary detailing Michael Jackson's final magazine cover shoots has been acquired at the Cannes International Film Festival in France.
Michael: The Last Photo Shoots features interviews with renowned snapper Bruce Weber, who captured shots of the King of Pop in 2007 for the 25th anniversary re-release of Thriller, and celebrity photographer Matthew Rolston, who shot the late icon for African-American publication Ebony when he sat down for his first U.S. magazine interview in over a decade the same year.
The intimate film, directed by Craig J. Williams, also includes interviews with some of the singer's closest friends and stylists, and it has been picked up by bosses at Los Angeles-based Lightning Entertainment, who will shop the project to distributors in the U.S. Executive Vice President and general manager Ken DuBow says, "For fans of Michael, and there are millions around the world, this documentary gives a rare behind-the-scenes look into his life, and access to those closest to him. It's a powerful piece of work."
The documentary news emerges days after the release of the superstar's new posthumous album Xscape, which features duets with Justin Timberlake and Mary J. Blige. Jackson died in 2009, while he was rehearsing for his doomed This Is It comeback shows in London.
Michael Jackson's latest child molestation accuser has alleged the late King of Pop used to keep him from attending school so he would be "available" for him on tour.
James Safechuck's lawyer, Maryann Marzano, claims Jackson and her client became close when he was a pre-teen - but she alleges the friendship masked the fact that the pop star was molesting the child in private. And she tells TMZ.com the late singer would prevent the youngster, who appeared alongside Jackson in a 1987 Pepsi commercial, from attending school so he would always be with him.
She says, "If there is still any question about the predatory nature of Michael Jackson’s so-called friendships with young boys, it should be laid to rest by the indisputable facts of what Michael did to James Safechuck." The specific accusations are sealed, but Michael Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman insists the allegations are "false and scurrilous." Safechuck's allegation has been added to a lawsuit filed by dancer Wade Robson last year (13).
Robson, now 31, claims he was repeatedly molested as a child by Jackson. In February (14), he demanded administrators of Jackson's estate release the names of any others who have alleged sexual misconduct against Jackson, as well as details of any settlements involving molestation that have not yet been made public. Jackson was acquitted of child molestation following a lengthy trial that began in 2004. The singer passed away in June, 2009.
Late TV mogul Aaron Spelling once developed a Pied Piper on Hamelin-inspired film for Michael Jackson.
The Hollywood icon's widow Candy reveals she got to know the King of Pop really well while he was working with her late husband on the film's script - and she's still upset the movie never got made.
She tells WENN, "Aaron wrote lots of scripts that didn't work out. One was for Michael Jackson. Michael got George Lucas involved and all of a sudden George rewrote the whole thing and it became a whole different concept, so it didn't happen. "It was very much like the Pied Piper film that Danny Kaye starred in, where Michael was, like, the Pied Piper who charmed all these children!"
Ironically, the King of Pop fought allegations of improper relationships with his young friends throughout his life and in 2004 battled a child molestation charge. But Candy Spelling is among those who believes Jackson would never harm a child in any way: "I actually liked Michael. He was a very kind person and was a wonderful father. I was lucky enough to see some private moments of Michael with his children. I talk about it in my new book (At Last, A Memoir), but I got to see a different side to Michael Jackson from what everyone's read about."
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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I know, that headline is trouble. You're always treading dangerous ground when you insist on defining what makes a good this or the right kind of that, as if there is no room for change or improvement when it comes to classic properties. Of course there is — Jason Segel's 2011 Muppet film approached the concept from an entirely different direction. It didn't hit all of its marks, but it prevailed overall in its conceit: make a movie not about Muppets, but about Muppet fandom. But Muppets Most Wanted, in absence of a clear mission statement and fueled largely by the monetary glimmers of the sequel game (the film's opening number admits this outright), has fewer marks readily available to hit. Landing in the ambiguity between the classic Muppet adventure formula and Segel's post-modern Henson appreciation party, Most Wanted feels like a failure on both counts. It doesn't know which kind of movie it wants to, or should, be. So it doesn't really be anything.
On the one hand, there's the half-cocked "get-the-band-back-together" through line, mimicking but not quite accomplishing the spirit of the 2011 picture. None of the Muppets are particularly likable or charming in this turn, and even fewer of them actually given anything to do. Kermit loses his s**t in the first act after a spat with Piggy and a barrage of insubordination from his troupe (provoked by the nefarious Dominic Badguy, Ricky Gervais), storms off in a huff, and gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity when his criminal doppelganger Constantine pulls the old switcheroo, landing Kermit in a Russian gulag. You'd think this would be a good opportunity for the second tier of Muppet favorites — Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, et al — to go on a search and rescue... but save for a very brief sequence at the tail end of this achingly long film, none of the other Muppets are giving anything to do. They just hem and haw and perform the occasional "Indoor Running of the Bulls" while Dominic and Constantine scheme, rob banks, and bicker.
Meanwhile, Kermit has some fun in prison — a far more endearing plot that sees him befriending the merry convicts, organizing a penitentiary revue, and even winning the heart of the vicious warden Nadia (Tina Fey). If only we could spend more time with real Kermit and less time with fake Kermit and his second banana Gervais, an effectively boring pair.
On the other hand, though, there's the Muppet shtick that fans of The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island — and yes, The Muppet Show itself — will deem the movie's best material: CIA Agent Sam Eagle and Interpol Agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) hot on the trail of Constantine and Dominic. Here, we get a different type of Muppet movie entirely from what Segel and the A-plot in Most Wanted are opting: the old fashioned vaudeville act, with Sam standing as an independent entity from his googly-eyed brethren, on a goofy, musical prowl with Burrell that fuels the film with its best and most consistent chuckles. Their "Interrogation Song" number is outstanding, exemplifying the many talents of Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie, who wrote all the music for this and the previous film.
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Unfortunately, Muppets Most Wanted isn't sure that it wants to be The Great Muppet Caper, beheld so stubbornly to its Segelian roots. There's a palpable compulsion to stick with this agonizingly self-aware, nostalgia-crazy, brimming-beacons-of-the-past-in-a-callous-today theme that doesn't work a fraction as well as it did in the 2011 film. Without a legitimate celebration of any of our favorite characters, how could it? With so much going on in this movie, and such a lengthy runtime at just under two hours, it's a sure sign of failure that we walk away feeling like we spent barely any time with the Muppets.
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Outkast star Andre 3000 spent six hours a day playing the guitar left-handed to perfect his portrayal of rock icon Jimi Hendrix in new movie Jimi: All Is By My Side. The Ms. Jackson singer plays the late guitar great in the mid-1960s and was determined to look the part, according to producer Danny Bramson.
He tells Billboard magazine, "The idea of anyone playing Hendrix, let alone a right-handed guitarist, was one of the greatest challenges of the project. I found a really patient teacher and put together a regimen for Andre when he came out to Los Angeles. He sat in a small studio, six hours a day.
"His guitarmanship (sic) had to carry the idea of grace and fluidity... He kept working in a rehearsal room throughout the production."
The film will feature a soundtrack of Hendrix covers, performed by Andre 3000, aka Andre Benjamin. The late rocker's estate refused to let the producers use original recordings.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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