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NEW YORK - Comedian Norm Macdonald, a former "Saturday Night Live" writer and performer who was "Weekend Update" host when former U.S. President Bill Clinton and O.J. Simpson provided comic fodder during the 1990s, has died.
Macdonald, who was 61, died Tuesday after having cancer for nine years but kept it private, according to Brillstein Entertainment Partners, his management firm in Los Angeles.
He never reached the same television heights after being fired from "SNL" in 1998 but was an indefatigable stand-up comic and popular talk show guest whose death provoked an outpouring from fellow comedians.
"Norm was in a comedy genre of his own," tweeted Sarah Silverman. "No one like him on this planet. Please do yourself a favor and watch his stuff."
Macdonald, the son of two schoolteachers, was raised in Quebec City, Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his condolences, calling Macdonald "a comedic genius and a great Canadian."
Colin Quinn, from left, Chevy Chase and Norm Macdonald appear onstage at The 2012 Comedy Awards in New York, April 28, 2012 Image source: voa
Macdonald was a stand-up comic and briefly a writer for the sitcom "Roseanne" when he was picked to join the cast of "SNL" in 1993.
He became known for his esoteric impressions, including actor Burt Reynolds, who gave comedian Will Ferrell's Alex Trebek character grief on "Celebrity Jeopardy." He also impersonated former U.S. Senator Bob Dole, television and radio host Larry King, and comedian and talk show host David Letterman.
His deadpan style and skills as a writer made him the choice to host "Weekend Update." Simpson was a favorite target. Macdonald opened the fake newscast the week of the former football star's acquittal on murder charges by saying, "Well, it's finally official. Murder is legal in the state of California."
"SNL" executive producer Lorne Michaels, speaking for the show, called Macdonald "one of the most impactful comedic voices of his or any other generation."
"There are so many things that we'll miss about Norm — from his unflinching integrity to his generosity to his consistent ability to surprise," he said. "But most of all, he was just plain funny. No one was funny like Norm."
Macdonald was fired in the middle of the season in 1998 by NBC Entertainment executive Don Ohlmeyer, a friend of Simpson's who reportedly didn't appreciate Macdonald making Simpson the near-constant butt of jokes.
"I was never bitter," Macdonald said in the oral history "Live From New York," released in 2002. "I always understood that Ohlmeyer could fire me because he was the guy who owned the cameras. So, that didn't bother me. I was always happy that 'SNL' gave me a chance."
He said in the same book, "I just like doing jokes I like, and if the audience doesn't like them, they're wrong, not me."
Ohlmeyer said that was his problem.
"When 'Saturday Night Live' is really good, they do care what the audience thinks," he said. "And when 'Saturday Night Live' is not really good, they're kind of doing it for themselves and their pals."
Host Norm Macdonald removes a pancake from a spoof "swag-bag" at the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto, Ontario, March 2016 Image source: voa
Macdonald announced his firing on Letterman's show. During a commercial break, Letterman asked him, "This is like some Andy Kaufman thing with fake wrestling, right?" Macdonald recalled. But it wasn't.
Letterman was a fan who made Macdonald one of the guests in the CBS "Late Show" host's final run of shows.
In 2016, Letterman told The Washington Post that the show would have had Macdonald on every week "if we could.''
"He is funny in a way that some people inhale and exhale," Letterman told the Post. "With others, you can tell the comedy, the humor is considered. With Norm, he exudes it ... There may be people as funny as Norm, but I don't know anybody who is funnier."
The Post's story was headlined, "Will Somebody Please Give Norm Macdonald Another Show?"
As if to answer, Netflix two years later aired 10 episodes of an interview series, "Norm Macdonald Has a Show." Guests included Letterman, Michaels, actress Jane Fonda and Judge Judy Sheindlin.
He had limited success in other TV ventures. He created and starred in the ABC sitcom "The Norm Show," later shortened to "Norm," playing a former professional hockey player kicked out of the league for gambling and tax evasion and forced into community service as a social worker.
A Comedy Central show, "Sports Show with Norm Macdonald," lasted only a handful of episodes, but he kept busy in comedy clubs.
"In my mind, I'm just a stand-up," he told The New York Times in 2018. "But other people don't think that. They think, 'Oh, the guy from 'SNL' is doing stand-up now.'"
In a 2011 comedy special, Macdonald said it was wrong to say you "lost your battle" with cancer when you died. "I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure that if you die, the cancer also dies at exactly the same time," he said. "That, to me, is not a loss. That's a draw."
Comedian Jim Carrey tweeted that Macdonald was "an honest and courageous comedy genius." Actor and comedian Seth Rogen said when he started acting, he essentially ripped off Macdonald's delivery.
"No one could make you break like Norm Macdonald," comedian Jon Stewart said on Twitter. "Hilarious and unique."
Keywords: Norman Macdonald, Saturday Night Live, Comedy
NEW YORK - Billie Eilish went full glam in a huge peach ball gown at the pandemic-delayed Met Gala on Monday night, while fellow host of the evening Amanda Gorman was breathtaking in blue custom Vera Wang with a diamond laurel wreath in her hair.
Co-host Timothée Chalamet raced onto Fifth Avenue to take selfies with fans before walking up the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for his entrance after a marching band and gymnast kicked off the long-awaited evening. Last year's gala was canceled due to the pandemic.
This year's official theme of the fundraiser for the museum's Costume Institute was "American Independence," leaving plenty of room for interpretation. Just ask Lil Nas X, who did a Lady Gaga-esque strip tease on the carpet in gold Versace, from cape to armor to embellished jumpsuit.
Eilish, the belle of the ball, wore Oscar de la Renta. She told Vogue: "It was time for this. I feel like I've grown so much over the last few years."
Chalamet had sneakers on his feet but diamonds on his look. Chalamet called his look "a bit of everything," just like America.
Gorman's dress, which included more than 3,000 hand-sewn crystals, was made to evoke a starry night sky. She told Vogue she felt like Lady Liberty, reimagined. Her crown, the star poet said, was a nod to publishing. Another of the hosts, Naomi Osaka, wanted to celebrate all her cultures — Japan, Haitian and the U.S. — and picked a Louis Vuitton gown designed in collaboration with her sister, Mari Osaka. It was a swirly blue, aqua and purple print with long black ruffle sleeves and a wide red sash.
Billie Eilish at the 202 iHeart Radio ALter Ego concert at the Forum, Inglewood, Jan 2020 Image source: voa
If this gala produced a trend, it's huge statement sleeves, with some stars and stripes thrown in. There was a smattering of red, as in the red, white and blue of the American flag. Karlie Kloss wore red Carolina Herrera with huge ruffles at the neck and sleeves. Jennifer Hudson also chose red sans sleeves.
Also in red: Ella Emhoff, the daughter of the country's second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, and Vice President Kamala Harris. She wore a trouser look with a sheer top and a crystal design in all the right places.
Dan Levy took the party's theme to the extreme in a blue confection from Loewe. It had, according to the brand, "printed leg of mutton sleeves" on a polo shirt with an applique of two men kissing.
Leon Bridges, meanwhile, honored his home state of Texas in a white cowboy hat and a blue suede fringe jacket. "It's all about embodying the aesthetic of Texas," said Bridges, with jewels in his hair.
Yara Shahidi wore silver custom Dior complete with a head piece. She said she was inspired by Josephine Baker. Emma Chamberlain went for a gold mini with cutouts at the waist and chunky mirror and chain detail. Harris Reed put Iman in a huge golden hat.
Gala overseer Anna Wintour arrived early with a wave to the crowd accompanied by her pregnant daughter, Bee, in a floral design with ruffles at the neck.
Along with oh-so-many jumpsuits, there were plenty of classic red carpet looks and a wave of gold, the latter including a Peter Dundas look worn by Mary J. Blige. It plunged to the belly button and beyond at the front and back. Megan Fox, fresh from hear appearance at the MTV VMAs, also wore embellished Dundas, a red body hugger with crisscrossing at the front and sides.
MJ Rodriguez, the "Pose" star and first transgender performer to pick up an Emmy nomination in a major acting category, wore an old glam, black-and-white corseted look from Thom Brown. The designer called it a modern-day twist on classic American sportswear. She attended the gala with purpose.
"Not a lot of trans girls like myself get this opportunity," she said. "The human condition is what I'm here for."
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed up in an Aurora James gown of white with a message splashed in red across the back: "Tax the Rich."
Vogue editor Anna Wintour attends the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibition at New York Image source: voa
The evening had its share of what-the-heck moments, like a couple of horse heads on dresses and a green-haired Frank Ocean carrying a fake baby with a green face to match. Thom Browne gave the walking fashion statement Erykah Badu an extra-tall top hat with a bulky black look, a bunch of crystals and chunky bling around her neck.
Her purse was a black leather dachshund.
Dundas also dressed Ciara, who honored Seahawks hubby Russell Wilson with his No. 3 emblazoned on her lime green sequined gown. She added a little something extra — a Super Bowl ring — and carried a bedazzled purse in the shape of a football.
She said the designer was inspired by the sporty vibe of the late great Geoffrey Beene.
The gala, which raises money for the museum's Costume Institute, was pushed last year from its traditional May berth and morphed this year into a two-part affair marking the institute's 75th anniversary. It coincides with the opening of "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion," the first of a two-part exhibition at the Met's Anna Wintour Costume Center.
Organizers invited 400 guests, or about a third the number that usually attend. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Met Gala, Costume Institute, Amanda Gorman, Billie Eilish, Lexicon of Fashion
As Beijing cracks down on its entertainment industry, from storied stars to their fan clubs, some non-Chinese filmmakers are scaling back projects they hoped would attract audiences in what has been a lucrative market. In February 2020, Chinese authorities released "Detailed Rules for Reviewing Internet Variety Program Content." Addressing TV and internet program makers, the guidelines say they "should not inappropriately use stars from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan or foreign countries."
Some Chinese celebrities interpreted the rules to mean they had to relinquish dual citizenship and demonstrate their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party if they wanted to continue performing in China. Actor and singer Nicholas Tse, who moved from Hong Kong to Vancouver, British Columbia, as a child, said last week in an interview on state-controlled China Central Television (CCTV) that he was renouncing his Canadian citizenship. Other celebrities in the Chinese market who hold dual citizenship are reportedly considering following his lead. For others in the entertainment business, the guidelines have prompted a decoupling with China, even as the film industry has been accused of pandering to the country that was the world's largest movie market in 2020, and China eyes the global film market.
'Netflix is not in China'
Adam Sandler, an American actor, screenwriter, and producer, changed the setting of his forthcoming Netflix comedy "Hustle" from China to Spain because, as he said last month on "The Dan Patrick Show," "Netflix is not in China."
A description of "Hustle" can be found on the entertainment industry website IMDB: "A washed-up basketball scout discovers a phenomenal streetball player while in China and sees the prospect as his opportunity to get back into the NBA." IMDB has yet to identify the film's shooting location. The movie is part of a four-film deal with Sandler that Netflix announced in January. Neither Netflix nor Sandler responded to VOA Mandarin's request for comment.
Adam Sandler, an American actor, screenwriter, and producer, changed the setting of his forthcoming Netflix comedy "Hustle" from China to Spain because, as he said last month on "The Dan Patrick Show," "Netflix is not in China. VOA
Clayton Dube, director of the University of Southern California's U.S.-China Institute, told VOA in an email, "Since Netflix is in Spain and other European or Spanish-speaking markets, it asked Sandler to change the setting of his film hoping that it might be able to use that to spark potential subscriber interest."
Like many American entertainment companies, Netflix didn't crack the Chinese market. In 2017, Netflix signed a content licensing agreement with iQiyi, a Chinese streaming platform, for a subset of Netflix's original series. Two years later, the partnership fell apart. In an interview with CNBC last September, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said the streaming company has been focusing on growth opportunities in the rest of the world but not in China. A year earlier, Hastings said the company had been spending more money on acquiring rights to Mandarin-language content and producing its own original works in Mandarin to appeal to Mandarin speakers outside China.
In an interview with CNBC last September, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said the streaming company has been focusing on growth opportunities in the rest of the world but not in China. VOA
"Netflix tried for years to enter the Chinese market, but it understands now that China's government is not going to permit foreign entertainment platforms to compete with those it controls. Further, it has tightened rules governing foreign content on Chinese platforms," Dube said. Aynne Kokas, assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, told VOA Mandarin in a phone interview that celebrities in the U.S. and China are facing different types of pressure under the crackdown.
"I think that from a financial standpoint, U.S. firms are definitely examining their exposure in China and considering how much they invest and how much they depend on the Chinese market," she said. "But there isn't a requirement from the U.S. government — or even a tacit requirement from the U.S. government — that asks them to stop operating in China in the entertainment section." On the other hand, China's laws covering entertainment can require the advancement of "China's national values, which puts a different type of pressure on Chinese celebrities," she added.
Ignoring China at a cost
But how much does the Western entertainment industry, especially Hollywood, stand to lose if it backs away from the Chinese market? It's almost impossible to estimate because some films that flop in the U.S. may turn a profit after a Chinese market release, according to Wendy Su, an associate professor and expert in Chinese media studies at the University of California-Riverside. "Dwayne Johnson's 'Rampage'  grossed $101 million in the United States but $156 million in China," she said. Some in the entertainment business, however, have already opted out of trying to appease the Chinese government to gain access to the market, according to Su.
Director Quentin Tarantino "refused to observe China's censorship requirement and believed his movie 'Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood' could earn enough profits without the Chinese market," she said. VOA
Director Quentin Tarantino "refused to observe China's censorship requirement and believed his movie 'Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood' could earn enough profits without the Chinese market," she said. Released in July 2019, the Oscar-winning film Tarantino wrote and directed earned $139 million domestically and $357.4 million worldwide by the end of October, according to Forbes.
Stanley Rosen, a political science professor at the University of Southern California, told VOA in a virtual interview that the loss for companies such as Netflix may be bearable. For the Chinese film sector, Rosen said, "you have to also take into account that there is a quota system: 34 revenue-sharing films a year, 14 of which have to be IMAX and/or 3D. So that limits the market, to begin with. Then all the studios are fighting to get their share of the quota." In the TV industry, the main Chinese streaming services once showed more than 100 foreign TV series without censorship. Now that practice has been "very severely restricted after new regulations began to be introduced in 2014 that would make it even more difficult for Netflix [to get in]," Rosen said.
Today "you have to submit the whole season in advance with subtitles when censorship occurs if they allow you to show it," Rosen continued. "So Netflix is not losing what they might have lost when they first tried to get into China when the market was much more open."
Netflix is not losing what they might have lost when they first tried to get into China when the market was much more open." Photo by Thibault Penin on Unsplash
What China needs from US
While many experts agree that the U.S. and China are mutually dependent in the entertainment sector, Katherine Chu, a lecturer at California State University-Dominguez Hills, whose research interests include Chinese/Asian film studies, emphasized that China, for now, needs the U.S. for its platform, established studios, talent, and technology. She said these U.S. resources could help China with its "aggressive plan to dominate the fair market in 2035."
In May 2019, Beijing called for the production of 100 movies a year that each would earn more than RMB 100 million ($15 million), according to Variety, an authoritative entertainment industry news outlet. "A country's level of film development reflects its total national strength," said Wang Xiaohui, executive deputy director of the Central Propaganda Department and director of the National Film Bureau, when announcing the movie production goal, according to the state-controlled People's Daily. The Chinese movie industry wants "maybe just a small thing, like a scriptwriter — how to write a film that you can target the world's audience," Chu said. "Because the Chinese, they try very hard to copy the Hollywood model and then to sell their Chinese films."
(Article originally Written by Adrianna Zhang) (VOA/MBI)
Keywords: China, Netflix, Entertainment, Market, Movies, US, Market
Rock band Kings of Leon's new single 'Time in Disguise' is making history as the first music NFT to be played in space. On September 15, 'Inspiration4' will make history as the first all-civilian mission to orbit the earth, as a crew member will include the first-ever minted NFT song to be played in space.
The band announced on its Instagram page on Thursday night, "A live recording of our new single 'Time in Disguise' is making history as the first music NFT to be played in space. Created using live show visuals designed by Daniel Davison for Night After Night plus a live recording from our hometown show in Nashville on August 13, this NFT will be played by a crew member of the Inspiration4 - the first all-civilian mission to orbit the Earth - before being auctioned off to benefit @StJude Children's Research Hospital through their @MusicGives to St. Jude kids program."
he band is making history yet again with its never-before-released performance of 'Time in Disguise' Photo by Rocco Dipoppa on Unsplash
The song was created by Kings of Leon, which in March released its latest album, 'When You See Yourself', as an NFT, marking the first time fans were able to purchase an album on blockchain (through the band's 'NFT Yourself' collection of non-fungible tokens) on the same day it arrived on streaming platforms. 'When You See Yourself', released on RCA, peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the Top Rock albums chart.
The band is making history yet again with its never-before-released performance of 'Time in Disguise', which will be played in orbit by Hayley Arceneaux, Inspiration4's medical officer, who, at 29, will be the youngest American, first pediatric cancer survivor and first person with a prosthesis to travel to space, according to Billboard.com. The exclusive live recording from Kings of Leon recorded to become an NFT through YellowHeart's blockchain technology as part of the Music Gives to St. Jude Kids program is one of several items up for auction on September 9 in support of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and its $200 million fundraising effort for Inspiration4. The auction will run through November.
Kings of Leon is an American rock band that formed in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1999. The band is composed of brothers Caleb, Nathan, and Jared Followill with their cousin Matthew Followill. The band's early music was a blend of Southern rock and garage rock with blues influences, but it has gradually evolved through the years to include a variety of genres and a more alternative, arena rock sound.
(Article originally published at IANSlife) (IANS/SS)
Keywords: music, singer, nft, space, band