Queen and Adam Lambert rock festival urging foreign aid

Adam Lambert, left, and Brian May of Queen perform onstage at the 2019 Global Citizen Festival at Central Park in New York on Saturday September 28, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 29 September 2019

Queen and Adam Lambert rock festival urging foreign aid

  • An estimated 60,000 people crowded in the iconic Manhattan green space for the Global Citizen Festival

NEW YORK: The legendary band Queen and glam frontman Adam Lambert led a packed Central Park on Saturday in mobilizing world governments to pledge international aid to eradicate extreme poverty and tackle climate change.
An estimated 60,000 people crowded in the iconic Manhattan green space for the Global Citizen Festival, an unofficial exclamation point to the United Nations General Assembly which distributes free tickets to people who have worked toward the greater social good.
Entertainment mogul Pharrell Williams, soulful pianist Alicia Keys, R&B prodigy H.E.R., pop band OneRepublic, K-pop boy band NCT 127 and singer-songwriter Carole King also played the festival.
Now in its eighth year at Central Park, the day of concerts saw fans young and old sway to classic Queen hits like “We Are The Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “We Will Rock You.”
Frontman Adam Lambert, who has toured with the band for some eight years, led the charge as veteran Roger Taylor helmed the drums as guitarist Brian May delivered his signature anthemic guitar solos.
The flamboyant Lambert went through a series of dramatic costume changes, finishing the show wearing a crown and a bright red military-esque uniform, as May dropped his long trench coat to reveal a t-shirt featuring the image of Queen’s original lead singer Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991.
Like many of the other performers, Lambert used the moment to urge environmental protections.
“We’re asking fans to take action to ask certain governments around the world... to take part in helping take care of our oceans,” Lambert said. “Fish and wildlife in the ocean are literally gagging on pieces of plastic and it’s killing them.”
A day prior the former “American Idol” contestant had said he was thrilled to participate.
“I love that they’re encouraging people to push the more wealthy world governments into backing these initiatives with real funding so that the real change can happen,” he said. “They’re getting people involved on a task level, so it’s actually educating all of our audience members.”
“It’s a really brilliant set-up.”
Prior to the Queen performance, Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio made a surprise appearance to praise youth activists, including the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who have taken to the streets and addressed world leaders in leading a global climate movement.
“Millions of individuals did more than simply walk out of their schools and places of employment. They took a stand,” DiCaprio said. “They set an example of true leadership that our planet so desperately needs.”
“These young people have said clearly, definitively and without fear, that the time for inaction is over.”
The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, unveiled a new path for the island nation to tackle plastic waste and design alternative materials, as Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg increased contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to $228 million by 2023.
Germany meanwhile pledged $11.1 million to the “Education Cannot Wait” fund, aimed at assisting children living in conflict and crisis zones, as Switzerland vowed $6 million to it.
Earlier this week Global Citizen announced a year-long campaign pushing world governments to get “back on track” with the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, an effort that will culminate with a 10-hour worldwide broadcast that will span five continents.
The event will feature a Central Park concert along with one in Lagos, Nigeria and in not-yet-announced cities in Latin America, Europe and Asia.
A laundry list of artists including teenage phenom Billie Eilish, funk futurist Janelle Monae, R&B superstar Usher and heavy metal band Metallica have already pledged to perform.
“This really is the most important 10 years for the movement to eradicate extreme poverty and tackle climate change,” said Hugh Evans, the founder and CEO of Global Citizen.
During Keys’ rousing performance that featured her own hits as well as a smashing duet with H.E.R. of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” the New Yorker praised the crowd for its activism and encouraged future efforts.
“We believe in love,” Keys said to cheers. “We believe in change.”
“We believe in greatness.”


Disney tops earnings estimates ahead of streaming launch

Updated 10 November 2019

Disney tops earnings estimates ahead of streaming launch

  • Revenues in the past quarter were boosted by a 52 percent rise in Disney’s studio operation
  • Disney has become the biggest Hollywood player with the acquisition of studio and TV assets from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox
SAN FRANCISCO: Walt Disney on Thursday reported better-than-expected quarterly results, fueled by the release of blockbuster films “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” as it prepared for its new streaming television service.
Disney profit in the recently ended quarter was $1.05 billion, down from $2.3 billion a year ago, on revenue that grew 34 percent to $19.1 billion.
The slump in profits came as Disney absorbed key film and television operations of 21st Century Fox and geared up for its launch of the streaming service Disney+ that aims to compete globally against Netflix and others.
“We’ve spent the last few years completely transforming The Walt Disney Company to focus the resources and immense creativity across the entire company on delivering an extraordinary direct-to-consumer experience,” said Disney chief executive Robert Iger.
“We’re excited for the launch of Disney+ on November 12.”
Iger said the company reached a deal for the service to be on Amazon’s Fire TV platform, the latest distribution agreement for Disney+.
Disney shares were up more than five percent in after-market trading following release of the earnings figures.
Revenues in the past quarter were boosted by a 52 percent rise in Disney’s studio operations with box office hits “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4” and “Aladdin” fueling gains.
The entertainment giant expects revenue in the current quarter to be boosted by the forthcoming release of a sequel to “Frozen” and the final installment of the “Star Wars” film saga.
It will thereafter take a “hiatus” from “Star Wars” box office films but has an array of spin-off shows planned exclusively for its streaming service.
Disney has become the biggest Hollywood player with the acquisition of studio and TV assets from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.
However, integrating Fox into Disney has cost more than expected and the newly added studios have brought in less money than hoped.
Disney saw smaller revenue gains in its cable and broadcasting operations as well as its theme park division.
Iger would not disclose details of pre-sales of Disney+ subscriptions, but said the price — $6.99 monthly — has met with “great enthusiasm” by consumers.
The Disney+ online streaming service will debut in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands before gradually expanding internationally in Europe then rolling out worldwide.
Its films and TV shows will be available, along with the library it acquired from 21st Century Fox. That includes the “Star Wars” and Marvel superhero franchises and ABC television content.
Disney+ will also combine offerings from powerhouse brands including Pixar, with content from Hulu and sports network ESPN.
Apple last week launched a streaming television service that features a budding library of original shows starring big-name celebrities, aimed at winning over its gadget lovers at home and on the go.
The Apple TV+ on-demand streaming service launched in more than 100 countries at $4.99 per month.
Original Apple TV+ shows have so far been met with lukewarm early reviews, but the low subscription price and an offer of year-long memberships free with purchase of the company’s devices was expected to encourage viewers to tune in.
Netflix, meanwhile, has budgeted $15 billion this year for original shows, on top of the billions it has devoted to exclusive productions in recent years.
Amazon, which has deep pockets thanks to its e-commerce and cloud services, has also poured cash into original shows for its Prime Video service.
This sets up a potential spending war among the major streaming players, according to analysts.
Even more competition looms on the horizon, with AT&T’s Warner Media to launch its “HBO Max” in early 2020 after reclaiming the rights from Netflix to stream its popular television comedy “Friends.”
NBCUniversal’s Peacock service is also launching next year.