America’s Got Talent is one of the most famous talent search reality shows in the United States. It covers more than just singing and dancing — where they welcome talents of any kind to audition and compete for the title. Every audition varies from the weirdest displays of human capabilities, adorable dogs performing and doing tricks on stage, and even seat-gripping performances.
For 13 years, AGT has had an influential and varying set of judges who predominantly presides who makes it through the next phases of the competition. Howie Mandel, who has been with AGT since season 5 will be returning along with Simon Cowell, who’s the executive producer of the show. However, Heidi Klum and Mel B will not be returning and will be replaced by actress Gabrielle Union and Dancing with the Stars alum Julianne Hough.
Moreover, every year, each judge gets a chance to press the golden buzzer that would allow their chosen contestant to head straight to the live shows.
This year, the new judge, Gabrielle Union, decided to press her golden buzzer for Kodi Lee, a 21-year-old singer. What’s interesting about Lee wasn’t just his angelic voice or his extraordinary rhythm with the piano. Lee is also blind and autistic that only made his performance even more emotional. He even received four standing ovations from the judges, along with the entire theater.
Lee performed Song For You by Donny Hathaway. He sang every word impressively, right on every beat, while playing the right keys on the piano. It was impressive overall performance — taking into consideration that he was introduced on the stage with a guide stick on the one hand and his mother’s grip on the other. He couldn’t speak straight and makes uttering high-to-low pitches during the interview portion.
“I’m a new judge this season, and I’m also a new mom this year,” Union says after his performance. “It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had and the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. You [just] want to give your kids the moon, the stars, and the rainbow. Tonight I’m gonna give you something special,” Union says before pressing the golden buzzer.
Lee’s display of musical skill can be prescribed to savant syndrome in people with autism. A course for Autism and Artistic Talent says that “roughly ten percent of those diagnosed with autism will have savant syndrome. These individuals will possess inherent autistic savant abilities, generally first seen during early childhood. Common abilities include extensive mathematical calculations, memorization, and artistic or musical skills.”
Lee’s mother shared to the judges, “[they] found out that he loved music really early on. He listened, and his eyes just went huge! He started singing, and I was in tears, that’s when I realized ‘Oh my gosh, he’s an entertainer!'” She adds, “through music and entertaining; he was able to withstand living in this world. Because when you’re autistic, it’s really hard to do what everybody else does. It actually has saved his life.”
AGT‘s audition episodes run every week until July 9. Over the course of this time, we will see the three other judges press their golden buzzers along with this year’s host, Terry Crews.
The four episodes showcasing the judges’ cuts begin on July 16. The last of these will air on Tuesday, August 6. Each episode features a guest judge who gets a Golden Buzzer too.
AGT will start airing live shows — where we’ll get to see and hear from Kodi Lee again — on the three weeks of the quarterfinals from August 13 to 28 every Tuesday and Wednesday.
There will be 36 acts all in all for the live shows (nine Golden Buzzers, two dozen from the judges cuts rounds, and three wildcards chosen by the producers). Each week, 12 acts will perform with seven making it through to the semi-finals.
The semi-finals start on September 3, 4, 10, and 11. Aside from the 21 acts put through in the quarter-finals, there will be one more wildcard. Each week, 11 acts will perform with five making it to the finals.
The two-part finale will air live on September 17 and 18, and on the last night, the top five will be revealed before a countdown to the ultimate winner.
The champion act gets $1 million and a chance to headline at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Taylor Swift is back, and she wants equality for all.
The controversial country-pop singer is back after long months of hiatus to urge everyone to sign a petition to pressure lawmakers into passing the Equality Bill. As an artist as Swift is, she made her case by releasing the music video of her newest single, “You Need To Calm Down,” today.
The song was debuted on Good Morning America, Monday, as part of her celebration of the LGBTQI Pride Month and did not disappoint to make a strong political statement and a convincing call to action.
“Let’s show our pride by demanding that, on a national level, our laws truly treat all our citizens equally,” reads an on-screen message at the end of the music video. Swift also started a petition campaign to support the Senate move for Equality Act and urged her audience to sign the petition as solidarity to the LGBTQI community.
“Please sign my petition for Senate support of the Equality Act on Change.org” further reads the on-screen message.
The Equality Act could be the answer to the long-lasting discrimination against the gay community in America, and if passed, the new legislation would amend the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The video was released by the renowned pop-country singer amid the Pride Month, held every June in commemoration of the gay liberation movement and the Stonewall Riots, where members of the LGBT community stood in front of the Stonewall Inn to protest and resist police brutality against the gay community.
A star-studded music video, it is
Swift’s video, in itself, is very political. It features numerous gay icons and celebrities and the different aspects of the life of every gay person in America, including gay marriage, arts, and performance. The star-studded music video included gay icons like RuPaul, the host of the widely-watched RuPaul’s Drag Race, Ellen DeGeneres, Billy Porter, Todrick Hall, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Adam Lambert, Ryan Reynolds, Hayley Kiyoko, Chester Lockhart, Dexter Mayfield, Hannah Hart, among others. Adam Rippon, the first openly-gay American Olympic medallist, also made an appearance in the video.
Interestingly, RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni, Trinity the Tuck, Adore Delano, Delta Work, Jade Jolie, Trinity K Bonet, Tatiana, and A’keria C. Davenport, were also featured in the music video as they impersonate popular female singers and artists like Cardi B, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Adele, Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and Taylor Swift herself (by Jade Jolie). Queer Eye’s Fab Five, Antoni Porowski, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van Ness also appeared in the Gayville themed music video.
In an apparent effort to spread the message love and acceptance as part of the music video, Taylor Swift also featured Katy Perry, another famous artist who she had a widely publicized feud with. The beef became public when Taylor released the song Bad Blood, written about Katy Perry. Many suggest that reconciliation is also a recurring theme in Pride, and Taylor Swift just wants to show it in her music video.
Taylor Swift becomes more politically vocal
Swift has become more vocal regarding her political and social views in recent months and over the past year. The video “You Need To Calm Down” comes after days she performed a surprising number at the Stonewall Inn in New York, the landmark where the first Pride was ever held. Furthermore, for the first time, Swift endorsed not one but two political candidates, Tennessee Democrats Phil Bredesen, and Jim Cooper, while they were running for the Us Senate and House of Representatives in 2018.
Taylor Swift admitted that she had been very “reluctant” to express her political views in the past and credited a shift, “due to several events in y life and the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” she said in an interview.
Now with the new music video release, Swift is urging everyone to take part in fighting for equality and promoting the value of the community that has been oppressed for a long time. Pride takes place annually every year, and it could be expected that Taylor Swift, as the newest ally of the LBTQI community, will continue to support efforts to legislate the Equality Act. You can do your part as well by signing her petition here.
“Our country’s lack of protection for its own citizens ensures that LGBTQ people must live in fear that their lives could be turned upside down by an employer or landlord who is homophobic or transphobic. The fact that, legally, some people are completely at the mercy of the hatred and bigotry of others is disgusting and unacceptable,” wrote Taylor Swift in the petition.
‘The Hunger Games’ Is Launching A Prequel And A Possible Movie
Almost fours years after the last The Hunger Games movie (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II) and almost nine years after the first book from the trilogy was released, Suzanne Collins is returning with the famed trilogy — but this time in a form of a prequel.
Scholastic, the publishing company that distributed Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, announced today that it is publishing a prequel novel to the series, currently untitled, which will hit shelves on May 19, 2020.
“Suzanne Collins is a master at combining brilliant storytelling, superb world-building, breathtaking suspense, and social commentary,” Scholastic Trade Publishing President Ellie Berger said in a statement. “We are absolutely thrilled — as both readers and publishers — to introduce the devoted fans of the series and a new audience to an entirely new perspective on this modern classic.”
Collins’ original Hunger Games trilogy—The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay—altogether, sold more than 100 million copies and has been translated into more than 50 languages. Moreover, The Hunger Games books appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 260 consecutive weeks (more than five straight years).
After writing the last installment in 2010, Collins teased in 2013 that she was working on a new series, but did not say whether it was related to The Hunger Games.
This time, the novel will be set in the world of Panem, 64 years before the events of the original Hunger Games trilogy—the morning where Katniss Everdeen volunteered as a tribute on the 74th Hunger Games. Presumably, Katniss Everdeen played by Jeniffer Lawrence will not be involved in the upcoming novel.
Based on the previous novels in the series, 74 years before the main novels, the 13 Districts of Panem already tried to initiate a rebellion against the Capital. In the aftermath of the failed attempt, 12 Districts remained to leave District 13 to rubbles. The Hunger Games was a result and served as a reminder that all the other Districts should obediently comply with the Capital’s rule.
The novel will take place 10 years after the first rebellion and will tell the story of Panem during the “Dark Days following a failed rebellion in Panem “With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” Collins told the Associated Press in the announcement. “The reconstruction period 10 years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days — as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet — provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”
On other news, the Lionsgate film studio, who adapted The Hunger Games trilogy into movies, is already looking forward to the next addition to Collins’ franchise given that it received praise and public attention for producing them.
“As the proud home of the Hunger Games movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published,” said Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, in a recent statement to the Associated Press. “We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.”S
Lionsgate turned Collins’ Hunger Games novels into a series of four films, dividing the last novel, Hunger Games: Mockingjay, into a two-part finale. Over the course of the four movies, it earned almost $3 billion dollars an the worldwide box office with the last movie earning $653.4 million.
Collins helped with the movies as an executive producer and a co-screenwriter on the first 2012 movie but distanced herself after she finalized Mockingjay in 2010.
Lionsgate is also known to have produced Twilight, which is one of their platinum franchises along with Collins’ trilogy. The studio earlier licensed The Hunger Games to theme parks and live concert tours being built around the movie franchise.
Additionally, it starred Jenniffer Lawrence who played the main character as Katniss Everdeen in all of the four movies, which helped catapult her acting career in 2012.
Scholastic acquired world English rights to the prequel novel and it will publish in print, digital and audio formats in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand next year. The deal was negotiated by Rosemary Stimola of the Stimola Literary Studio for Suzanne Collins and David Levithan, VP, Publisher, and Editorial Director, for Scholastic.
How Marvel Plans To Converge Mutants Into Its Timeline
The $71.3 billion acquisition of Disney over 20th Century Fox, lead us fans into a void full of speculation. With the merging of the two leading film studios, the convergence of two favorite franchise — Marvel and X-Men — remains a topic of uncertainty; how will they do it?
This “acquisition” may sound like an ideal outcome to Marvel who’s recently producing box-office movies, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet to settle incongruences with previous X-Men and Fantastic Four movies, to put them in the state of their current timeline.
If you’ve been keeping track, the X-Men franchise has been in a roller coaster ride in terms of its chronology.
Dark Phoenix—which aired in cinemas recently—leaves behind a relatively low box office compared to its other highly-successful X-Men franchise. The recent release was the most disappointing X-Men movie with a $33 million opening weekend. The film is now likely facing over $100 million losses.
MCU announced that it’s scrapping all of the other X-Men projects in its slate. This decision comes along with reports that the MCU is not rushing to put X-Men into any Marvel movie anytime soon.
“There is no rush to bring the X-Men to the marketplace after this. And when they come back, it’s going to extend Marvel’s run another ten years,” a producer said.
Kevin Feige told in an interview: “You’re right, it’s too far out to talk about whether it will happen [or] not. We’re not working on it in any way, shape or form. We’ve got five films on the docket we’ve already announced that are taking a big percent of our time. But I will say to your very good question that if you look back to Phase 1 and after ‘Iron Man’ was released and we announced our upcoming films, one of which was ‘Thor,’ people said, ‘How in the world can you bring in a Norse god who flies with a hammer into the world you’ve established of Tony Stark and Stark Industries?’”
“That was sort of the reason we made the ‘Thor’ film the way we did, was to ease character into a world together, even though they might not understand each other and might have trouble getting along at first, that’s the fun of it. But tonally there’s always a way, and as you said the comics have been navigating it quite well for half a century.”
MCU may be silent regarding any upcoming X-Men-Marvel movie, but the company is actively setting the groundwork to make it a possibility.
Recently, Marvel Entertainment tweeted a new post of what seems to be leak photo of a confidential report. The image, filled with computer coding and a lot of redacted information, meant to reveal information referencing to the Weapon Plus program and the Super Soldier serum that created mutant Logan (Weapon X) and Captain America Steve Rogers (Weapon I).
The post is speculated to relate with the writer, Jonathan Hickman’s upcoming comics called Powers of X and House of X.
Moreover, it is speculated that Hickman’s new books will “tie that origin of ‘mutantkind’ alongside the 616 origins of mutant to uncover an entirely new genesis for the species. It will also change the perspective on several classic stories already told, and serve as the stepping stones for new X-Men stories going forward.”
Additionally, Hickman’s new books will lay the foundation on how Marvel will incorporate mutants into its universe via a telling of their secret society living amongst humans. The story will go back as far as World War I with Wolverine’s story and connect with Captain America’s account during World War II, based on the cryptic message Marvel tweeted out.
Nonetheless, more will be revealed once the two books are out. House of X and Power of X arrives in comic shops July 24 and July 31, respectively.
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