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FILE PHOTO: 50th NAACP Image Awards - Show - Los Angeles, California, U.S.
FILE PHOTO: 50th NAACP Image Awards – Show – Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 30, 2019 – Beyonce reacts after winning the entertainer of the year award. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

April 4, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – Adidas announced a partnership with singer Beyonce on Thursday that will include relaunching her Ivy Park athleisure brand, the latest deal between a sportswear firm and a top celebrity after rival Puma teamed up with Rihanna and Jay-Z.

Adidas, which also has a partnership with Kanye West, said it will work with Beyonce on creating both performance and lifestyle products, respecting her ownership of the Ivy Park brand she launched in 2016 together with Britain’s Top Shop.

After the rise of athleisure companies like Lululemon and a big drive by Nike into women’s products, Adidas has made a push in recent years to attract more female consumers.

It did not give financial details.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by Thomas Seythal)

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FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Charles laughs with Peter, a blue iguana, at the Queen Elizabeth II Royal Botanic Park in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prince Charles laughs with Peter, a blue iguana, at the Queen Elizabeth II Royal Botanic Park in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, March 28, 2019. Chris Jackson/Pool via REUTERS

April 4, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Charles and his two sons William and Harry were due to attend the world premiere of the Netflix television series “Our Planet” on Thursday to underline the royal family’s support for action against climate change.

British naturalist David Attenborough, 92, who narrates the series, was hosting the event at London’s Natural History Museum.

Charles made his first speech on the environment in 1968 and has long warned of the dangers of climate change. He has been president of the WWF UK conservation organization since 2011.

“There has never been a time where more people have been more out of touch with the natural world than as now,” Attenborough told Prince William in an interview in January.

“If we damage the natural world, we damage ourselves. We are one coherent ecosystem,” he added. “It’s not just a question of beauty, of interest, or wonder.”

The eight-part series, which showcases the planet’s most endangered species and fragile habitats, starts on Friday.

(Reporting by Rachel Cordery; editing by Stephen Addison)

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A large replica of the iron throne is seen at Rockefeller Center before the premiere of the final season of
A large replica of the iron throne is seen at Rockefeller Center before the premiere of the final season of “Game of Thrones” at Radio City Music Hall in New York, U.S., April 3, 2019. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

April 4, 2019

By Alicia Powell

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The cast and creators of “Game of Thrones” walked their last red carpet together on Wednesday, recalling memories of their years working on the international hit television series.

Dozens of actors, many of whom were unknown before the medieval fantasy series began in 2011, flew to New York ahead of the eighth and final season of the show, which arrives on HBO on April 14.

Sophie Turner, who was just 14 when she began her role as Sansa Stark, said she would miss the months of filming outdoors in freezing weather in Northern Ireland.

“Some of the fondest memories I have are of all of us snuggled up in warm coats trying to get warm,” she said.

“That camaraderie that we’ve built from just being so like cold and so wet… they were the most exciting times because it was how we really bonded as a cast.”

Turner said she had kept one of her character’s corsets as a souvenir. Pilou Asbaek (Euron Greyjoy) and Conleth Hill (Varys) said they kept some rings, while Richard Dormer held on to Beric Dondarrion’s trademark eye patch.

“Game of Thrones” has won multiple Emmy awards and is HBO’s biggest hit ever with some 30 million viewers in the United States and an army of devoted fans worldwide.

The series, set among warring families in the fictional kingdom of Westeros, is based on novels by George R.R. Martin in a series called “A Song of Ice and Fire.”

Plot details of the final season have been kept strictly secret although filming started in October 2017.

“This has been a year and a half we’ve been having to hide these. I can remember when I read the script I was like, you know, I wish I didn’t have this information in my head,” said Isaac Hempstead-Wright, who plays the visionary Bran Stark.

Season 7, which was broadcast in 2017, saw the characters head towards a great battle over the Iron Throne while a zombie army of White Walkers, led by the undead Night King, march south and threaten mankind’s destruction.

    “I can tell you something. I’m probably the only guy with a happy end,” Asbaek said.

The show has become known for killing off beloved characters, but many of the actors playing them, including Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell) and Sean Bean (Ned Stark) turned up for Wednesday’s red carpet.

“This is the last mile, the last carpet, the last premiere, this is the end,” said Kristofer Hivju, who plays raider Tormund Giantsbane. “I think everything has an end and this is the perfect way to end it.”

(Reporting by Reuters Television, writing by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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The Weeknd performs at the Global Citizen Festival concert in Central Park in New York City
FILE PHOTO: The Weeknd performs at the Global Citizen Festival concert in Central Park in New York City, New York, U.S., September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

April 4, 2019

(Reuters) – Canadian singer The Weeknd has been sued by three British songwriters over allegations he copied their work to produce his hit “A Lonely Night,” according to U.S. court documents.

Songwriters William Smith, Brian Clover and Scott McCulloch sued the Weeknd, Universal Music Group Inc and others in a Los Angeles federal court. The song in question appears on The Weeknd’s Grammy-award winning album “Starboy.”

The British songwriters heard “I Need to Love,” recognizing it as their song “A Lonely Night,” the lawsuit said.

The UK songwriters are seeking unspecified damages.

They edited the two songs together in a sound clip https://youtu.be/y-WCCWWYsj0 they said showed the similarities.

Joel Zimmerman, who is listed as an agent for The Weeknd, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit said that in 2004 and 2005, the British artists pitched their song to various artists around the world. A division of Universal Music bought the rights to the song in 2008, the court document said.

In 2016, the songwriters were told by the label that the song had not been used and it was relinquishing all rights to their work, according to the lawsuit.

Two weeks later, The Weeknd and Universal released “Starboy.” Last year, The Weeknd was sued with an allegation that his song “Starboy” from the album of the same name, was a rip-off.

(Reporting By Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Grant McCool)

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Singer Celine Dion poses before the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2019 collection show by designer Alexandre Vauthier in Paris
FILE PHOTO: Singer Celine Dion poses before the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2019 collection show by designer Alexandre Vauthier in Paris, France, January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

April 3, 2019

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Pop singer Celine Dion on Wednesday announced a world tour and a new album called “Courage” that she said was inspired by life after the death of her husband.

Dion, 51, gave the news at a live performance show in Los Angeles that was broadcast on Facebook Live and watched by more than 11,000 fans around the world.

The French-Canadian singer, best known for the “Titanic” movie theme song “My Heart Will Go On,” has been performing in Las Vegas on and off since 2003 but said last year her concert residency in the city would end in June.

“I think it’s time for a change, time to hit the road,” she said on Wednesday.

The “Courage” tour – her first in the United States for 10 years – will kick off in Quebec City, Canada in September. Dion said the album, also called “Courage,” will be released “roughly in November.” She did not give dates for the rest of the world.

The singer said the album’s title was inspired by the 2016 death from throat cancer of her husband and manager Rene Angelil. The couple had three children.

“When I lost Rene, he wanted me back on stage. He wanted to make sure I was still practicing my passion,” she said. “I wanted to prove to him that I’m fine, we’re fine, we’re going to be ok. I’ve got this.”

Dion, a five-time Grammy winner, sang around the world in 2007 with her “Taking Chances” tour that was one of the highest-grossing tours of that year.

She also performed in Asia and Australia in 2018 in support of her greatest hits album.

Her last English-language studio album, “Loved Me Back to Life,” was released in 2013, and she released “Encore un Soir” in French in 2016.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Chris Reese)

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Singer Britney Spears arrives at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York
FILE PHOTO: Singer Britney Spears arrives at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York, U.S., August 28, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

April 3, 2019

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Pop star Britney Spears said on Wednesday she was taking a little “me time” after a report she checked herself into a mental health facility to help cope with her father’s illness.

Spears, 37, announced in January that she was pulling out of all her concerts and work commitments to be with her family after her father Jamie came close to death in November after suffering a ruptured colon.

On Wednesday, the “Stronger” singer posted a message on her Instagram account saying, “We all need to take time for a little ‘me time’.” She also posted a quote reading “Fall in love with taking care of yourself, mind, body, spirit.”

Celebrity website TMZ said Spears voluntarily checked herself into a residential mental health facility about a week ago.

A source close to the singer said Jamie Spears was not doing well after a second surgery three weeks ago, and that Britney was finding his prolonged illness hard to deal with.

“They are very close. She just wants to take time to focus on herself,” the source told Reuters.

Jamie Spears is credited with reviving the career of his teen sensation daughter after her life spiraled out of control in 2007-08. He remains the court-approved conservator of her business affairs.

Spears became a pop phenomenon in 1999 with her debut single “…Baby One More Time” and subsequent hits like “Oops!…I Did It Again.” She made a comeback in late 2008 with the album and world tour “Circus” and has performed in Las Vegas since 2014.

Spears in January withdrew from a new series of concerts in Las Vegas that were due to run from February-August.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Tom Brown)

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Director and technicians work in the underwater cinema studio
Director and technicians work in the underwater cinema studio “Lites” in the Brussels suburb of Vilvoorde, Belgium, January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

April 3, 2019

VILVOORDE, Belgium (Reuters) – Director Joachim Heden filmed scenes of his survival movie in a blizzard in the Arctic, but the idea of putting actors and crew into the frozen waters was out of the question – fortunately he had another option.

“Breaking Surface”, about two sisters’ ill-fated winter diving trip in Norway, is the first movie to be filmed at a brand-new underwater studio that has opened in Belgium – a 9-metre (30-foot) deep pool specially built as a movie lot.

The studio includes a moveable floor that means sets constructed on dry land can be lowered into the water. Poolside cranes lift in boats or other props, and staff are on hand to train actors.

“We have producers and filmmakers coming to us and saying: ‘I have this scenario that’s been lying in the closet for five years and I thought it wasn’t possible to realize this project because it’s too dangerous’,” said Karen Jensen, co-founder of the LITES studio outside the Belgian capital Brussels.

“But here, it’s possible to actually shoot it, in a safe way.”

The movie studio has two “dry” stages in addition to the “water stage”, which has wave and wind machines that can whip up a perfect storm for any film needing one.

As camera operators in full scuba gear descend to film some of the key scenes for “Breaking Surface”, director Heden is glad to be in the high-tech Belgian studio which he believes will become an important movie set for many others.

“It’s quite fun to be the first production to shoot here and I’m looking forward to coming back in the future to see what else is going on here,” he said. “Hopefully this place will be here for 100 years.”

($1 = 0.8894 euros)

(Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Alison Williams)

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FILE PHOTO: Two Saudi men take a selfie at Saudi Arabia's first commercial movie theater in Riyadh
FILE PHOTO: Two Saudi men take a selfie at Saudi Arabia’s first commercial movie theater in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

April 3, 2019

By Lisa Richwine

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Theater operator AMC Entertainment Holdings is forging ahead with its expansion in Saudi Arabia, Chief Executive Adam Aron told Reuters, after a journalist’s killing six months ago clouded the future of the kingdom’s newly opened cinema market.

Aron said his company reconsidered its plans to open dozens of theaters, which the company announced last spring, following the October murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate. The killing sparked an international outcry.

The CIA and some Western countries suspect Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing just over six months ago. Saudi authorities vehemently deny he was involved.

“It certainly made us think in great depth,” Aron said in an interview this week in Las Vegas at CinemaCon, an annual convention for theater owners.

“What we concluded at AMC is that if we continued with the opening of theaters in the Middle East, that we were doing something very good for the people of the country,” he said. “And we decided that what was in the best interest of the people was the right course of action for us.”

AMC, the biggest cinema chain in the United States and the world, is working on the theaters through a partnership with Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, said on Tuesday that at least three theater chains were moving forward with plans to add screens in Saudi Arabia. He declined to name the companies.

Fithian told reporters the killing of Khashoggi was “a tragic, awful human rights violation”, but added: “I don’t think it’s our business to make foreign policy as a trade association.”

“The idea of having the freedom to see movies in a country … can only help to open up thinking in that country,” he said. “Movies have always been a sword for freedom.”

The Saudi government communications office did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

A year ago, Saudi Arabia lifted a nearly four-decade ban on cinemas. AMC screened the first film, Walt Disney Co’s superhero hit “Black Panther”, at a movie house in Riyadh, and other companies announced plans to operate theaters in the country.

But shortly after Khashoggi’s killing, cinema chain Vue International put on hold plans to open as many as 30 locations in Saudi Arabia, Chief Executive Officer Tim Richards told The Guardian newspaper at the time.

Hollywood talent agency and media company Endeavor also returned a $400 million investment to the Saudi Arabian government to protest the killing.

Aron said his company had a “significant number” of theaters under lease in Saudi Arabia and many will open in 2019. He also expects to have “50 theaters open four to five years from now”.

The AMC theater in Riyadh has shown dozens of films over the past year, he added.

“The theater has been immensely popular,” he said, “as you would expect in a city of 7 million people that now has two movies theaters, in a country that likes movies and saw movies frequently, just not in theaters.”

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Bill Tarrant, Sonya Hepinstall and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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FILE PHOTO: Actor Felicity Huffman departs an initial hearing for defendants in a racketeering case involving the allegedly fraudulent admission of children to elite universities, at the U.S. federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: Actor Felicity Huffman departs an initial hearing for defendants in a racketeering case involving the allegedly fraudulent admission of children to elite universities, at the U.S. federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

April 3, 2019

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON (Reuters) – Actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among 15 wealthy parents due in Boston federal court on Wednesday to face charges that they participated in what prosecutors call the largest college admissions scam uncovered in U.S. history.

They are among 50 people federal prosecutors allege participated in schemes that involved cheating on college exams and paying $25 million in bribes to buy the children of affluent Americans seats in well-known universities including Yale, Georgetown and the University of Southern California.

The scam’s mastermind, California college admissions consultant Rick Singer, has pleaded guilty to overseeing a racketeering scheme in which parents paid to help their children cheat on admissions tests and bribe coaches to present them as elite prospects in sports including sailing, crew and water polo even if they had no athletic experience.

“Desperate Housewives” star Huffman and “Full House” actor Loughlin, along with a former chief executive and a major law firm’s onetime chairman, are part of the group scheduled to make their first appearances in Boston court.

Prosecutors allege that Loughlin and her husband, Los Angeles fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to pay $500,000 to have their two daughters named as recruits to USC’s crew team, even though they did not row competitively.

Prosecutors said Huffman, who is married to the actor William H. Macy, made a $15,000 contribution to Singer’s foundation in exchange for having an associate of Singer’s in 2017 secretly correct her daughter’s answers on an SAT college entrance exam at a test center Singer “controlled.”

Huffman later made arrangements to engage in the scheme again on her younger daughter’s behalf before deciding not to, prosecutors said.

Other accused parents expected to appear in court include Manuel Henriquez, the former chief executive of specialty finance company Hercules Capital Inc, and Gordon Caplan, the former co-chairman of the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Henriquez resigned his position and Caplan was placed on leave after they were charged.

The U.S. Education Department has opened an investigation into eight universities linked to the scandal. Several of the schools have said they would revoke admissions offers to students who had gotten in fraudulently but not yet enrolled and would consider expelling students whose parents participated.

Prosecutors have not yet charged any applicants for illegal activity and said that in some cases the parents charged took steps to try to prevent their children from realizing they were benefiting from fraud.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond; editing by Scott Malone and Susan Thomas)

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FILE PHOTO: Premiere of “Avengers: Infinity Wars” - Arrivals - Los Angeles, California
FILE PHOTO: Premiere of “Avengers: Infinity Wars” – Arrivals – Los Angeles, California, U.S., 23/04/2018 – Actor Robert Downey Jr. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

April 2, 2019

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Advance ticket sales for Marvel superhero movie “Avengers: Endgame” on Tuesday surpassed the last two “Star Wars” films, and some appeared on resale platforms with asking prices of up to $500 each.

Fandango and Atom – two of the top ticketing websites in the United States – said first-day advance sales for Disney’s “Avengers: Endgame” surpassed the 2015 movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” – also from Disney. They did not give sales figures.

The new Avengers movie, which brings together multiple comic book characters – including Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Thor and Ant-Man – marks the conclusion of 22 Marvel films. Fan surveys last year showed it was the most anticipated film of 2019.

“’Avengers: Endgame’ sales have exceeded all expectations and surpassed ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ the previous record-holder, to become Fandango’s top-selling title in its first 24 hours of sales, and it accomplished that feat in only 6 hours,” Fandango Managing Editor Erik Davis said in a statement.

Atom said the movie has set a record for its mobile ticketing service, selling three times more tickets in the first hour than last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War.”

“Avengers: Endgame” starts its movie theater rollout on April 24 in Australia and China before arriving in the United States on April 25.

On eBay, a single ticket for a first-day IMAX screening in Hollywood was being offered for $500. Starting bids for other tickets were around $35 each.

Fans took to social media to complain about websites crashing, error codes and long waits to get their tickets.

“Took me 5 hours to get #AvengersEndgame tickets,” tweeted Meghan Keatley.

“It’s been hours and they paused the site,” a fan called Bakuhoe wrote on Twitter. Five hours later Bakuhoe tweeted, “It was fun waiting with y’all, hope you all get tickets and we can suffer at the diabolical hands of Marvel together.”

“Avengers: Infinity War” was the biggest movie of 2018, grossing $2.04 billion at the worldwide box office.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” with a global box office of $2.06 billion, is the third biggest movie of all time after “Avatar and “Titanic,” respectively.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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