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Stevie Wonder Announces Music Break Due To Scheduled Kidney Surgery

The audience cheers on as Stevie Wonder announces he’s okay.

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Stevie Wonder performs for President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo: Pete Souza | Wikimedia Commons | Public Domain

Stevie Wonder announced that he would be undergoing a kidney transplant in September. In June, reports of his health issues surfaced with news outlets stating that the singer had dialysis treatments.

“So what’s gonna happen is this: I’m going to have surgery. I’m going to have a kidney transplant in September of this year,” Wonder announces. The crowd keeps silent for a little while. 

“I’m all good; I’m all good; I’m all good. I have a donor; it’s all good,” Wonder adds. By this time, the crowd cheers. “You ain’t got to hear no rumors about nothing; I told you what’s up. I’m good.”

Speculation about the singer’s health came to focus when Patty Jackson, a radio host of WDAS Radio in Philadelphia, talked about Wonder’s condition in her YouTube channel last June 25. 

Close friends share that Wonder has been battling a serious health issue. “He’s got some health challenges, but he doesn’t want a big PR thing out of this,” said Joan Belgrave, a musician, and friend of Stevie Wonder.

Before his surgery scheduled for September, Wonder will perform in three more shows. The singer travels with a medical team for his shows abroad.

Aside from the music festival in England, Wonder has been continuing his Stevie Wonder Song Party: A Celebration of Life, Love & Music, a limited engagement concert series from 2018. Lionel Richie joined Wonder last Saturday. 

After Hyde Park, Stevie Wonder will go to Dublin for the next concert in the series. The first concert of the Stevie Wonder Song Party was held in Las Vegas in August last year. 

Songs in the Key of Life Tour and Other Musical Appearances

Wonder’s last full-fledged tour was back in 2014-2015 celebrating his 1976 album titled Songs in the Key of Life

The concert series kicked off in a sold-out Madison Square Garden last November 2014. The tour took Wonder and his 21-piece band through different states in the US and Canada. In November 2015, the concert finished the tour where it started, playing the last set in New York’s Madison Square Garden. 

Wonder performed hit songs from the 1976 album like Knocks Me Off My Feet, I Wish, Isn’t She Lovely, and Superstition

According to Rolling Stone, the 1976 album was the most ambitious R&B album during its time. 

After the tour, Wonder performed in small musical engagements. In 2016, Wonder performed in a tribute for the artist Prince in BET Awards. The R&B singer sang a duet with Tori Kelly. They played Prince’s Take Me With U. Wonder also performed in The Official Prince Tribute held in Xcel Energy Center in Prince’s home state, Minnesota. 

Wonder also collaborated with Ariane Grande that year to release Faith, the lead single for the soundtrack of the animated movie Sing

In 2017, Wonder joined the performances in Global Citizen Festival in New York City. The then 67-year old singer went on his knees, taking a page out of NFL star Colin Kaepeernick’s taking a knee, as a sign of protest against hate. 

“Tonight I’m taking a knee for America, but not just one knee, both knees. Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world and our globe. Amen,” Wonder said while his son help him with the task. 

“I didn’t come here to preach. But I’m telling you, our spirits must be in the right place. All the time, not just now. Whenever you need to, [you must] interrupt hate, stand down bigotry, condemn sexism and find love for all our global brothers and sisters every day,” Wonder added.

Wonder also surprised Dave Matthews Band fans when he made an appearance during the band’s set in A Concert for Charlottesville. It was a fundraising event for the victims who were killed and injured in the Unite the Right rally.

Wonder’s friend and collaborator, Aretha Franklin, died of pancreatic cancer in August 2018. According to Variety, Wonder teared up as he reminisces his last conversation with Franklin. Wonder attended the late artist’s memorial along with Ariana Grande, Tyler Perry, and Faith Hill. Wonder performed “What the World Needs Now” during a fundraising telethon for Stand Up to Cancer. He dedicated his performance to his dear friend, Franklin.

Aside from his occasional appearances, Wonder continues to perform in his annual House Full of Toys benefit concert. The concert started 22 years ago.  

Hi! I'm a contributing writer who loves tech, pop culture, and food. I'm also an ESL Teacher and a Photography Enthusiast.

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The Walking Dead Movie Will See An End To Rick Grimes

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Source: AMC

AMC announced during the San Diego Comic-Con Friday that Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln) will be making his return to the zombie apocalypse universe; but in a movie, instead of the network’s long-standing series.

The announcement followed a short and bleak teaser for the upcoming movie featuring a helicopter flying at the brink of looming dusk over a city skyline. The video ended with the words “The Walking Dead” and “Rick Grimes Returns: Only in Theaters.”

The films were first announced in late 2018 following Andrew Lincoln’s departure from the flagship AMC series, on which Lincoln played the role of Grimes since the pilot.

The last we’ve seen of Grimes was halfway through the most recent Season 9 when he was bleeding and heavily decapitated aboard a helicopter that was headed to an unknown location. Although it was evident throughout his last episode that he was determined to get back to his family in Alexandria, referring not just to lifelong love Michonne and last surviving child Judith, but also his friends and comrades.

The series jumped six years after Grimes’ last appearance, and it seems apparent that the zombie slayer still has not made his way back home.

With AMC’s The Walking Dead universe chief content officer Scott Gimple already announcing a trilogy of movies, and Lincoln recently signing on the first movie, fans are expecting that it will bring a more conclusive end to this sheriff’s story in the universe.

Lincoln stated in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that The Walking Dead movies would “complete” Rick Grimes’ story in the zombie apocalypse, suggesting they could mark the character’s final appearance once and for all.

Furthermore, Gimple noted that the movies would embark on the story following after The Walking Dead 9×05—Grimes’ last episode in the series—as he is also tasked of penning the storyline.

What remains unclear, however, is in what timeline does the movie coincide, especially with the 6-year leap that the series took. Some fans predict that the trilogy will tell the story of that gap, while some speculate that it will be way after the current timeline because of Grimes’ absence in the series.

“We’re going to tell the story of what happens after that helicopter flight, and these are going to be big epic entertainments,” Gimple said.

Furthermore, the question of whether the movie will take place is also heavily speculated, with some outlets saying Philadelphia because of the stark similarity of the city’s skyline with the one featured in the trailer.

“[Rick is] flying off in a helicopter, away from Virginia, and it’s going to be a new world — a very new situation with its history, and very, very different from what we’ve seen before,” was all Gimple had to say to EW regarding the topic.

What is for sure as of the moment is that AMC and Universal Pictures are developing the films but an official title for Rick’s return and an official release date has yet to be revealed.

AMC initially planned to begin production as early as 2019, but it is unclear if that is still the case. Recent comments from Lincoln from The New York Times suggest that they will be releasing the first movie as early as next year, in 2020.

Meanwhile, The Walking Dead season 10 is due to begin airing this October, and the sister series “Fear the Walking Dead,” was picked up for a sixth season on Friday.

Additionally, the comics, which the series was based and has recently concluded, shows signs that AMC is not planning on stopping. The network announced a third and untitled series that will tell the story of the first generation of kids to grow up during the zombie apocalypse.

Lincoln’s exit was a major blow for The Walking Dead, with Danai Gurira confirming her exit from the series in Season 10, as well. Currently, Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride are now the longest-serving cast members on the popular series.

Regarding the fate of the upcoming movie, there could be two scenarios: the movie will help boost back viewership for the TV series or that it will flop due to the declining number of fans of the show, which seemed evident since season 6.

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LOOK: ‘Cats’ Musical Trailer Released And Fans Are Confused

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Photo: electrictuesday | Flickr.com | CC BY 2.0

Universal Studios dropped a full-length trailer of the live-action film adaptation of the 1981 musical Cats.

The movie, directed by Tom Hooper, is set to be released in December 2019. Hooper is known for his work with The King’s Speech and The Danish Girl.

The musical adaptation stars Idris Elba as Macavity, Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, James Cordon as Bustopher Jones, Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, and Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat.

Aside from the actors, the movie will feature artists like Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift, playing Rum Tum Tugger and Bombalurina, respectively. Francesca Hayward, a ballerina in the Royal Ballet, will be featured as Victoria. In the movie, Hayward’s shy cat character will have a ballet solo.

Cast members like McKellen and Swift promoted the release of the trailer in their social media platforms. McKellen encouraged fans to check out the trailer released on Friday. Swift posted a photo of the glittery bottle with a catnip label with a caption “Friday,” adding a tag of the movie’s official Twitter account.

The musical is all about a tribe of cats called Jellicles. The group comes together and works on an annual life-changing ball. Once a year, the leader of the clowder chooses one cat who will be reborn based on their belief that cats have nine lives.

Cats is one of the longest-running Broadway musicals. It brought to life songs like Memory, The Rum Tum Tugger, and Mr. Mistoffelees. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

The musical was a worldwide success for its great composition and ensemble performances. In 1994, it earned over $2 billion worldwide.

CGI Scare

In Broadway or West End production, actors don heavy amounts of make-up and lavish costumes to portray real-life cats. The costumes make use of fur to have the feel and look of our feline friends.

However, in the trailer released, the director and the studio forewent extensive costumes and opted for computer-generated imagery or CGI. According to Time, Hooper referred to it as an all-important “digital fur technology.”

Fans have long-awaited the film adaptation. However, not all were pleased with Hooper’s “digital fur” vision. Fans took to Twitter about their thoughts on the newly-released trailers. Twitter users have already created memes using screenshots from the trailer.

Comments about the actors’ faces being disfigured from too much digital modification. Some say that you need to take a second look to identify who the actors were in the movie.

Others criticized the film adding digital breasts on the characters, which is a ploy to make the characters look “sexy.” Others also pointed out that the cats were too small when scenes showed them inside a house and a theater.

Broadway Musicals with Film Adaptations

Cats is not the only musical film adaptation that received criticisms from fans.

In 2007, the film version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was criticized for casting Johnny Depp before the movie’s released. Fans feared that Depp’s amateur singing would greatly affect the outcome of the film. However, because of the theme’s dark tone, Depp’s portrayal of the twisted demon barber overshadowed any expectations of his singing.

This was not the case for Russell Crowe when he got the role of Javert in Les Miserables. Fans criticized Crowe’s singing and wrong interpretation of the character. A film critic said that when Javert is supposed to shout with a booming voice, Crowe decides to speak in whispers.

Hooper also directed Les Miserables. Fans are quite intrigued if Cats will be the director’s redeeming chance with musical adaptations.

Despite not hitting all highs with Broadway fans when it comes to film adaptations, fans keep on clamoring for more.

Recently, Hollywood has taken on this trend of creating live-action film adaptations. Disney has released musicals such as Beauty and Beast and Aladdin. The studio’s live-action take of Lion King has just been released.

However, Broadway musicals have been adapted to film way before the Disney trend. Notable Broadway performances such as Rent, The Sound of Music, and West Side Story have been adapted for the silver screen.

Other than Cats, Broadway hit Wicked is also rumored to have a film adaptation.

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Tom Cruise Unveil Top Gun: Maverick Trailer At SDCC

Tom Cruise is returning to the Top Gun franchise after almost 3 decades since the first installment and introduce modern innovations to aviation in the movie.

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Source: Paramount Pictures

Brace yourselves; Tom Cruise is making his latest return to the big screen in the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick movie, which he introduced as a surprise during a panel at the San Diego Comic-Con.

People attending Paramount/Skydance’s panel at the flooded Hall H in SDCC was shocked when Cruise suddenly walked on stage to talk about Top Gun: Maverick that’s set to be released next year — but the show was far from over when the panel unveiled the film’s first trailer. Shortly after it aired in Hall H, the Maverick trailer was released online 

Initially, Hall H was reserved to be a panel discussion solely about Tim Miller’s Terminator: Dark Fate. The director and stars of the movie talked about their Terminator return and introduced some new footage to the crowd.

“Thirty-four years ago, I made a movie in San Diego and shot across the street in a restaurant,” Cruise told the crowd. “I was always asked, ‘When are you going to do another one?’ Well, you’ve been very patient with me. I felt like it was my responsibility to really deliver for you.”

Mr. Cruise was last seen in the Top Gun franchise back in 1986, where he reprised the role as the United States Navy’s elite fighter pilot Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.

Based on the latest trailer, he will be playing the same character, but a lot older. There’s still a lot of high-flying in fancy new jets, more drama, and risk-taking. There’s also glimpses of Cruise’s iconic bomber jacket and Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Other than that, the 2020 addition to the Top Gun franchise will see the latest innovations in aviation. Top Gun: Maverick is said to be set in a world of drone technology and fifth-generation fighters, along with exploring the end of the era of dogfighting. Maverick is now a flight instructor, who takes Bradley Bradshaw (played by Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s late partner Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (initially played by Anthony Edwards), under his wing.

Furthermore, Maverick is seemingly still a high-flying captain, whose superiors want him to climb the career ladder as quoted from the trailer: “30 plus years of service, combat battles, citations, only man to shoot down 3 enemy planes in the last four years yet you can’t get a promotion, won’t retire, and despite your best efforts you refuse to die. You should at least be a two-star admiral by now yet here you are… Captain. Why is that?”

Based on that, Maverick will also be going over the answer to that question. Would it be because of the death of his long-time partner and co-pilot, Goose? That’s something that has yet to be discovered.

Jennifer Connelly, Cruise’s love interest in the movie, also has a significant role to play. Similarly, Miles Teller who will play Goose’s son and Maverick’s new protege will do too while Val Kilmer will reprise his role as Tom “Iceman”  in the sequel. 

In addition to the return of Cruise and Jennifer Connelly to the Top Gun franchise, the Maverick trailer also introduces several new actors to the fold such as Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, and Ed Harris. Jay Ellis of Insecure will also appear in the film as a pilot trainee

The film is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who also directed the 2010 Tron sequel, Tron: Legacy, as well as Oblivion, in which Cruise was also starring. 

Furthermore, Top Gun: Maverick is a screenplay by Peter Craig, Justin Marks, Ashley Edward Miller, and Zack Stentz. While Mission: Impossible – Fallout director, Christopher McQuarrie, oversaw the film’s reshoots.

Meanwhile, Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the first movie with the late Don Simpson, will produce the 2020 installment with Cruise and Skydance CEO David Ellison.

Deadline reported that Cruise would appear on Conan O’Brien’s Late Night on Thursday night to discuss the movie.

Top Gun was first released on May 16, 1986, and saw massive success in the box office after grossing more than $350 million worldwide on a $15 million budget.

Four weeks after release, the number of theaters showing it increased by 45 percent. The film maintained its popularity over the years and earned an IMAX 3D re-release in 2013.

Additionally, the film won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Take My Breath Away” that was performed by Berlin.

Upon its release, however, the film received mixed reviews from critics but generally received praise for its action sequences, effects, and aerial stunts. Cruise and McGillis’ performance also received praise.

In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

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