Hip-hop superstar Pharrell Williams has been honoured with the key to his hometown city of Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Happy hitmaker was feted at his alma mater, Princess Anne High School, on Saturday (07Jun14) for his career achievements.
The event also served as a promotion for Williams' educational nonprofit, From One Hand to Another, and EverFi, an education technology company, which have launched in the area to benefit underprivileged children with an interest in math, science and technology.
Taking to Twitter.com following the event, he wrote, "I'm unbelievably honored to receive a key to my hometown city of Virginia Beach. Thank you @VBmayor."
Hip-hop superproducer Pharrell Williams has become the latest celebrity to land his own fashion collection with sports giant Adidas. The Happy hitmaker and entrepreneur has inked a deal with Adidas bosses to create a line of products in conjunction with designers at eco-thread firm Bionic Yarn, who he first teamed up with last year (13).
A statement released by Williams reads: "Working with an iconic brand like adidas is such an incredible opportunity.
"From the classic track suit, to growing up in Virginia wearing Stan Smiths (tennis shoes), adidas has been a staple in my life. Their pieces are timeless. This is an exciting partnership for both me and for Bionic Yarn."
The Adidas Originals collection is expected to go on sale this summer (14).
The Oscar nominee is no stranger to clothing and sneaker design - he recently released a range of T-shirts for Japanese retailer Uniqlo and worked on a line of environmentally-friendly denim jeans for G-Star Raw with Bionic Yarn pioneers, who turn plastic debris collected from the ocean into yarn and fabric. He is also involved in fashion brands Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream.
News of Williams' deal follows the recent Adidas signing of his longtime business partner, streetwear designer Nigo, while rapper Kanye West and R&B singer Rita Ora are also working on lines for the German brand.
Descendants of the man whose story inspired Oscar-winning movie 12 Years A Slave are fighting plans to build a baseball stadium on the site of a jail where Solomon Northup was housed during his ordeal. The film, which won three Academy Awards including Best Picture earlier this month (Mar14), tells the story of a free man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, and is based on Northup's 1853 memoir of the same name.
Northup was held at a slave prison in Shockoe Bottom in Richmond, Virginia following his kidnap and the site where the notorious Lumpkin's Jail once stood is set to be redeveloped as part of a new baseball stadium complex.
Money has been set aside to create a museum close by, while nearby slave burial grounds will be unaffected, but local history experts claim many important sites will be destroyed.
The plans have also angered descendants of Northup, including his great-great-great-great-granddaughter Linsey Williams, who has launched a petition on Charge.org calling for the jail site to be preserved.
She writes in a message posted on the website, "The Shockoe Bottom area is important to me, not just because of the incredible historical significance it holds for our nation, but also because of the personal significance it holds for my family... I cannot express in words how it feels to have the opportunity to stand in the same area that my grandfather described in his memoir...
"The construction of a baseball stadium here will rob people of the opportunity to have this deep but unexplainable (sic) connection with their ancestors. It also suggests that the significant slave trade history in Richmond is simply not important enough to be preserved... This is our history. It is not a place for parking lots and it is not a place for peanuts and cracker jacks... Building a baseball stadium atop of our history is unacceptable!"
A protest against the stadium plans has been scheduled at the site on 3 April (14).
Last week was a big deal for singer-songwriter Neko Case: she released her sixth album, the yearningly-titled The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You (Anti- Records), to the best reviews of her career. She had a busy week's worth of promotion, ranging from a terrific appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to her debut as a panelist on the NPR quiz show Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me (where she tanked on the final lightning round, unfortunately). She also started a nationwide tour that will run through November. Plus, Sunday was her 43rd birthday, so hopefully she got a nice cake or something. So here's five things you may not have known about the copper-haired siren.
She Started Out DIY
Neko Case first gained notice for a string of powerful alt-country albums in the late 1990s, but she actually got her start as the drummer for an all-female punk trio from Vancouver, British Columbia called Cub. She played drums on their 1993 debut album Betti-Cola, which included their best-known song, the adorably twee "My Chinchilla." (That's her replacement Valeria Fellini in the video, however.)
She's Not Actually Canadian
Although Case got her start on Vancouver's DIY scene and has since 2000 been a key member of the Canadian power pop collective The New Pornographers (singing lead on many of their best-known songs, including their debut single "Letter From An Occupant"), she was born in Virginia and grew up in Tacoma, WA. She'd moved to Vancouver to study at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, from which she graduated in 1998, and music writers have mistakenly called her a Canadian artist ever since.
She's Finally Settled Down
After losing her student visa, Case left Canada, living in Seattle, Chicago, Tucson and other cities before buying a large, isolated farm in Vermont. Much of her previous album, 2009's Middle Cyclone, was recorded on the farm, with some tracks featuring a chorus of old out-of-tune pianos she had picked up for free on Craigslist and stowed in her barn. The album ends with a thirty-minute track called "Marais la Nuit," a field recording of a frog-filled pond on her property.
She Respects Other Songwriters
The Worse Things Get is unique among Case's albums for being entirely self-written. A student of songwriting, Case has recorded masterful versions of songs by everyone from Hank Williams to the cult-hero art rock duo Sparks, whose "Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth" is a highlight of Middle Cyclone. Although even now, she enjoys tipping a cap to her influences: the two-LP vinyl version of The Worse Things Get includes three bonus tracks, kicking off with a spirited take on Robyn Hitchcock's 1989 college radio hit "Madonna of the Wasps."
She's Had A Rough Four Years
In the four and a half years since Middle Cyclone's release, Case lost both her parents and a grandmother. As a result, The Worse Things Get is a somber, poignant album with an uncharacteristically naked autobiographical edge to its lyrics. And yet it isn't merely dark and is only rarely depressing: there's a sense of peace and even hopefulness to many of the songs. It's one of the year's strongest albums, and certainly one of its most emotionally resonant.
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Country music star Garth Brooks has paid tribute to the mogul who helped launch his career following his death on Tuesday (09Jul13). Jim Foglesong was 90 when he passed away at a Nashville, Tennessee hospital after a brief illness, and now Brooks has spoken out to express his condolences.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Brooks writes, "Today, the music industry lost its greatest diplomat for kindness, tolerance, faith, and sincerity. But do not weep for Jim, I have never met a man with a stronger faith, anyone who knew Jim knows where he is now. Instead, weep for those of us who are left here without him... truly, a great, great man."
Born in West Virginia, Foglesong began work as a session musician in New York before helping bosses launch Epic Records and moving to Nashville.
He made his mark in the 1970s as the head of ABC/Dot Records, where he gave Don Williams, Barbara Mandrell and The Oak Ridge Boys their big breaks.
When MCA purchased the ABC labels in 1979, Foglesong signed Strait, Reba McEntire and Lee Greenwood, and signed signed Brooks as the boss at Capitol Records in the mid-1980s.
After retiring from the business, he taught at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music, where Dierks Bentley was one of his students.
The star was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004.
The man who served as Hank Williams' chauffeur on the day the country legend died has passed away at the age of 79. Charles Carr, a retired investor, died on Monday (01Jul13) in Montgomery, Alabama after a brief illness.
Carr was a young college student when he was hired to drive Williams to West Virginia for a New Year's Eve show in December, 1952.
The singer was forced to axe the gig due to an ice storm and they instead headed straight to Canton, Ohio, where the star was booked to perform on New Year's Day (01Jan52).
But Williams never made it to the concert - he suffered heart failure and was found dead in the back of Carr's blue Cadillac in West Virginia early on 1 January, 1952. He was 29.
Actor Nathan Lane saw off competition from stars including Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks and Jake Gyllenhaal to land the top honour at the New York Drama League Awards on Friday (17May13). Bette Midler, Vanessa Williams, Edie Falco and Alan Cumming were also in the running for the Distinguished Performance prize, but it was Lane's turn in Douglas Carter Beane's burlesque drama The Nance which bagged him the prestigious accolade.
Cyndi Lauper added another award to her collection for Kinky Boots, which was named Distinguished Production of a Musical, while Distinguished Revival of a Musical went to Pippin.
Distinguished Play was bestowed upon Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? landed the Distinguished Revival of a Play honour.
Bernadette Peters walked away with the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre trophy and Jerry Mitchell received the Founders Award for Excellence in Directing during the ceremony, which was held at the Marriott Marquis Times Square.
The New York Drama League Awards celebrate the best in Broadway and Off Broadway and are voted for by the public.
Actor Mark Wahlberg headed back to school on Wednesday (24Apr13) to deliver a pep talk to students in Virginia about the importance of education. The Fighter star resumed working towards his high school diploma last year (12) after quitting his studies at the age of 13, and he visited T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria to encourage youngsters to stay committed to their exams.
Wahlberg joked, "If my career goes south, I'm working at McDonald's. I'm driving a tow truck. That's why I'm going back to high school."
The star later headed to the White House in Washington, D.C. to continue his crusade, talking to officials about youth empowerment and reducing school drop-out rates.
There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
Glee: During the Fox series' third season, Whoopi Goldberg was brought on to embody the character of Carmen Tibideaux — the dean of Rachel's and Kurt's dream school, the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts. No stranger to musical theater, Goldberg carried her character through three episodes, including the season's penultimate "Nationals." Now that Rachel is NYADA-bound, Goldberg is set to continue her turn as Tibideaux, providing likely a new mentor for the young New York-based Ohioan. The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Goldberg will take on a recurring role during Glee's upcoming fourth season.
Community: In the third act of Community's Season 3 premiere, some tough and to-the-point life lessons from new Biology teacher Michael Kenneth Williams sent Jeff spiraling into an existential crisis, highly reminiscent of the classic final vignette in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: a Space Odyssey. The study group's next teacher will illicit a more direct Kubrick reference: The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Malcolm MacDowell, best known as the star of A Clockwork Orange, is signing on to teach History at Greendale Community College. MacDowell will appear in two episodes at the beginning of the fourth season.
Hawaii Five-0: Taking a lesson from her half-sister Kim Kardashian, young Kendall Jenner is getting into the acting game: Jenner is making her debut on the CBS series Hawaii Five-0, as Life & Style Weekly reports. Jenner's episode, which is set to air in October, will feature the 16-year-old as a sales associate who gets mixed up in the Five-0's case.
Raising Hope: Chris Klein is well-versed in the "long lost not-quite-brother" territory, if you can believe it; the 2001 rom-com Say It Isn't So starred Klein as a young man in love with a woman who might be his estranged sister. Now, he'll revisit the theme on Raising Hope, playing the "almost long-lost brother" (as The Hollywood Reporter puts it) to Jimmy.
The Vampire Diaries: TVLine reports that the bloodthirsty CW series is bringing in The Borgias actor David Alpay to take on a Season 4 role: Alpay will play a beloved teacher with yet unknown ties to the series' Virginia town and one of its resident clans. Alpay will appear on the fourth episode of the season.
Scandal: Norm Lewis, established singer and Broadway actor, is taking his turn on the small screen for a few episodes of Scandal. Playbill reports that Lewis will begin his arc on the third episode of the forthcoming Season 2; series star Bellamy Young refers to Lewis' role as "Kerry's character's ex-boyfriend kind of thing."
[Photo Credit: David Edwards/Daily Celeb]
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