Friday, March 22, 2019

Jazz: Int'l Jazz Day Heads "Down Under" for 2019

Say “G’day” to your 2019 International Jazz Day lineup. Today, the UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock announced the program for the 2019 edition of International Jazz Day, which will be launched in Australia and celebrated in more than 190 countries.
On April 29 and 30, a wide range of jazz performances, educational programs and community service initiatives will be presented in partnership with the Melbourne Conservatorium, featuring more than a dozen celebrated jazz masters. The events on International Jazz Day itself (April 30) will culminate in an All-Star Global Concert at the Melbourne Arts Centre’s Hamer Hall.  It will be webcast via YouTube, Facebook, the United Nations and UNESCO to millions of viewers worldwide.
Iconic jazz pianist Herbie Hancock (U.S.) and acclaimed trumpeter James Morrison (Australia) will serve as artistic co-directors of the All-Star Global Concert, and John Beasley (U.S.) will serve as the evening’s musical director. (Watch video of Morrison playing with saxophonists Igor Butman and Branford Marsalis at last year’s International Jazz Day Global Concert in St. Petersburg, Russia.)

This year’s concert will feature performances by an international roster of artists from more than a dozen countries. Confirmed performers include Cieavash Arian (Iran), William Barton (Australia), Dee Dee Bridgewater (U.S.), Till Brönner (Germany), A Bu (China), Igor Butman (Russian Federation), Eli Degibri (Israel), Kurt Elling (U.S.), Matthew Jodrell (Australia), Ledisi (U.S.), Eijiro Nakagawa (Japan), Mark Nightingale (United Kingdom), Chico Pinheiro (Brazil), Tineke Postma (Netherlands), Antonio Sánchez (Mexico), Nathan Schreiber (Australia), Somi (U.S.), Lizz Wright (U.S.) and Tarek Yamani (Lebanon).  More artists are expected to be announced.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Movies: 2018 Box Office Breaks Records, but 3-D is a Dud

The global box office reached a record $41.1 billion last year, the Motion Picture Association of America announced Thursday in its annual report.
The growth was primarily driven by the $11.9 billion earned in domestic theaters from hits like “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” and critical favorites like “A Star Is Born.”
Home entertainment, meanwhile, saw an even bigger growth of 16 percent year-over-year to $55.7 billion, bringing the total global entertainment market to $96.8 billion.
That surge for home entertainment is thanks in large part to a 27 percent increase in streaming/online video service subscriptions, which passed cable subscriptions for the first time ever with 613 million worldwide. The MPAA also found that Americans now spend 52 percent of their media time on a digital platform.
The one category where there is continued decline is in 3D movie ticket sales. 3D sales reached $6.7 billion in 2018, accounting for only 16 percent of the total global gross and down 20 percent from 2017’s $8.4 billion global gross. Even in Asia, where 3D was still a relatively novel experience for many Chinese moviegoers, 3D decreased 14 percent year-over-year.
Back in the U.S., theaters continue to rely on frequent moviegoers, which the MPAA classifies as those who see at least one movie per month. These moviegoers account for 12 percent of the U.S./Canada population, yet account for 49 percent of all tickets sold.

Lit: Whiting Awards Winners announced

On the 34th anniversary of the Whiting Awards, the Whiting Foundation gives $50,000 each to ten diverse emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. The winners are honored today, March 20, 2019, at a ceremony at the New York Historical Society, with keynote by Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and Whiting Award winner Adam Johnson.
The Whiting Awards, established by the Whiting Foundation in 1985, remain one of the most esteemed and largest monetary gifts to emerging writers, and are based on the criteria of early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come. Eight million has been awarded to 340 fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, and playwrights to date.
Kaleb Rae Candrili, Tyree Daye, Hernan Diaz, Michael R. Jackson, Therese Mailhot, Nadia Owusu, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Merritt Tierce, Vanessa Villareal and Lauren Yee are tis year's winners.

Music: US Library of Congress adds 25 Recordings

The Library of Congress has added 25 recordings to its National Recording Registry that it calls "audio treasures." They include albums from Jay-Z and Cyndi Lauper, a speech by Robert F. Kennedy, a Schoolhouse Rock! boxed set and Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."
Each year, the Librarian of Congress selects 25 recordings for the registry that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," and are at least 10 years old. It now includes 525 titles from the library's collection of almost 3 million pieces of recorded sound.
"The National Recording Registry honors the music that enriches our souls, the voices that tell our stories and the sounds that mirror our lives" Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. "The influence of recorded sound over its nearly 160-year history has been profound and technology has increased its reach and significance exponentially. The Library of Congress and its many collaborators are working to preserve these sounds and moments in time, which reflect our past, present and future."

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Media: the "Mouse" Swallows the "Fox": Disney Officially Wraps Fox Acquisition

It’s been more than a year since the Walt Disney Co. announced its plans to buy much of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Now, the $71.3-billion deal is officially done. One of the biggest media consolidations in Hollywood history gives Disney ownership of film and TV franchises including “X-Men,” “Deadpool” and “The Simpsons.” The remaining Fox assets, including Fox News, the Fox broadcast network and the historic studio lot, have been spun off into a new company called Fox Corp. that will count former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan among its board members. And for Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger, it’s the boldest and riskiest move he’s taken in 14 years on the job.

Music: Shaggy, Koffee, Sean Paul the "Toast" of IRAWMA Nods

Rising star Koffee (4 nods) and global chart-toppers Sean Paul (3) and Shaggy are among the artistes in the running for honours at the 37th staging of the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA).
Evolution of the IRAWMA trophies over the years
The nominations were announced during a launch event Tuesday night at the Jamaica Pegasus, with veteran tour promoter Copeland Forbes giving a typically anecdote-filled overview of the event and founder Ephraim Martin telling his own moving story of how the event came into being.

Other nominees include Damian "Jr Gong" Marley, Chronixx, Beres Hammond, Beenie Man, and jailed deejay Vybz Kartel, the latter continuing to hold a prominent place of appreciation in the minds of dancehall fans.

Dub poet and radio host Mutabaruka will Receive a Special Lifetime Achievement Award, while the late Bob Marley will be named "Emperor of Reggae" and Chicago-based former U.S. Presidential candidate Rev Jesse Jackson will be honoured as a Freedom Fighter and Jamaica's Minister of Culture Entertainment Gender and Sport, Olivia "Babsy" Grange will be named Reggae/Jamaica Person of the Year. Producer Clifton "Specialist" Dillon, Donald Kinsey, and genre-leading record label, VP records will also be specially honoured.

Awards will be handed out on May 11, at the same venue.

Martin, a photographer with the Gleaner in his early years, was moved to start the awards after the 1980 death of reggae Star Jacob "Killer" Miller, with the first set being given out in 1982. His company, Marin's International also presents The Chicago Music Awards, the International Festival of Life and the Jerk Seafood and Vegan (JSV), all held in the U.S.

Media: CBS Wants More "Bucks" for the "Bang" Finale

 CBS hopes to get a bigger bang out of the very last episode of “The Big Bang Theory.”

The network is seeking between $1.2 million and $1.5 million for a 30-second ad in the finale of the veteran series, according to two people familiar with negotiations between CBS and its advertisers. Those figures would represent a price approximately five to six times higher than the average cost to run an ad in the show this season. The last original episode in the series is slated for broadcast on May 16.

The network declined to make executives available for comment.

The prices are astronomical in the current market, and suggest CBS is confident in the power of the series’ denouement to attract a sizable crowd at a time when doing so has become more complex, thanks to viewer migration to streaming services and video-on-demand. The series, led by Chuck Lorre and produced by Warner Brothers, and starring Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, is in the midst of its 12th season on the air.

Yet series finales often draw bigger crowds than a normal episode. The last episode of “Seinfeld” drew 76 million viewers, for example, when NBC showed it on May 14, 1998. And the final original broadcast of “M*A*S*H” lured a whopping 105.9 million viewers when CBS ran it in 1983 – and remains one of the most-watched TV events of all time.

The cost to advertise in each of those shows was eye-popping: NBC sought between $1.4 million and $1.8 million for a 30-second spot in the “Seinfeld” ending, while CBS pressed for $450,000 to run a spot in the last broadcast of “M*A*S*H.”

Other famous finales have also cost big sums. A 30-second ad berth in the last episode of “Friends,” which ran on NBC in 2004, went for between $1.5 million and $2.3 million, while a 30-second slot in CBS’ final episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” in 2005 cost around $1.3 million.