May 2 (AP/UNB) -Mother's Day is in a couple weeks, but Drake gave his mom an early gift with a heartfelt speech at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, where the rap star also broke Taylor Swift's record for most wins.
Drake turned up the love for his mom when he picked up top artist, besting Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Post Malone and Travis Scott. He won 12 awards Wednesday in Las Vegas, making his career total 27 (Swift has 23 wins).
He looked up to the ceiling as he held the trophy, then said: "I just want to thank my mom for her relentless effort in my life.
"I want to thank my mom for all the times you drove me to piano. All the times you drove me to basketball and hockey — that clearly didn't work out. All the times you drove me to 'Degrassi.' No matter how long it took me to figure out what I wanted to do, you were always there to give me a ride, and now we're on one hell of ride," Drake said.
Family bonding was a theme at the three-hour show, which aired live on NBC and was hosted by Kelly Clarkson
Ciara's young son and husband, NFL player Russell Wilson, danced along while she worked the stage, and Nick and Joe Jonas gave kisses to Priyanka Chopra and Sophie Turner of "Game of Thrones" fame when they sang in the audience before hitting the stage. Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco looked to his parents as he accepted top rock song, quoting the name of his current hit: "Hey look Ma, I made it!"
Mariah Carey's twins cheered her on as she sang a medley of her hits and accepted the Icon award. She was in diva form before taking the award from Jennifer Hudson, throwing her napkin on the floor after dabbing her face with it.
"Without getting into all the drama, all the ups and downs of my career ... I guess I always felt like an outsider, someone who doesn't quite belong anywhere, and I still feel like that lost interracial child who had a lot of nerve to believe I could succeed at anything at all in this world. But, and this is the truth, I did believe because I had to," she said. "The truth is I dedicated my life to my music — my saving grace — and to my fans."
Cardi B, the night's top nominee with 21, locked lips with husband Offset on the red carpet and the couple sat closely inside the venue. She won six awards, including top Hot 100 song for "Girls Like You" with Maroon 5.
"I remember when Maroon 5 hit me up to do this song. I was like, 'Bro I'm five months pregnant. I can't even breathe.' But this record to me was so amazing. I was like, 'Oh this is going to be a hit.' And now I sing this song to my daughter because she's the girl that I need," she said.
Drake and Cardi B — who both won multiple awards during the live telecast — used their speeches to promote love and appreciation for their peers in the music industry.
Others, too, brought on the positive energy when onstage. Imagine Dragons' band leader Dan Reynolds used his speech to highlight the dangers of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. He earned rousing applause. Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard followed suit, telling the audience after winning top country song: "In the spirit of so much truth being spoken tonight by so many talented artists, I think we should speak some truth."
"As artists we all get to experience so many unbelievable things, but in our opinion, at the end of the day, it's all for nothing if you're not using your platform for better ... to spread love, to help those in needs, to be a light to your community," he said.
Swift kicked off the show when she brought her new music video to life with a colorful, eye-popping performance of her song "ME!" Dancers wearing bright, pastel colors spun in the air holding umbrellas and a marching band kicked off Swift's performance — like most of the world, maybe she was inspired by Beyonce's new Coachella film?
Madonna, wearing an eye-patch, teamed up with Colombian singer Maluma for a performance, but it was Grammy-winning Christian artist Lauren Daigle who had the night's best performance. She sang "You Say," giving the audience a calm, yet strong and powerful performance. She was backed by three awesome background singers and a pianist.
BTS, who performed alongside Halsey, also had a major night. At the Billboard Awards and American Music Awards, the K-pop band had only previously won "social" awards based off their fanatic fan base, but on Wednesday BTS picked up top duo/group, besting Grammy-winning groups like Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons and Dan + Shay.
"I still can't believe we're here on this stage with so many great artists," RM said as fans screamed loudly. "We're still the same boys from six years ago, we still have the same dreams ... we still have the same thoughts. Let us keep dreaming."
An unlikely winner at the Billboard Awards? "Game of Thrones" actress Maisie Williams, whose plays Arya Stark on the HBO series and shined brightly on last week's episode.
"Shout-out to Arya Stark for putting in that work last week," Drake said onstage after winning his first award of the evening.
London, May 2 (AP/UNB) — Prince William and his wife, Kate, have released three new photographs of Princess Charlotte ahead of her fourth birthday Thursday.
Kensington Palace said the photos were taken by Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, in April at Kensington Palace in London and at the family's country home in Norfolk.
Charlotte is the royal couple's middle child, between 5-year-old Prince George and 1-year-old Prince Louis.
She is fourth in the line of succession for the British throne, after her grandfather, Prince Charles; her father, William; and her brother George.
Los Angeles, May 1 (AP/UNB) — Kristen Stewart says she felt a "huge responsibility" to define her sexuality after finding fame in the "Twilight" movie franchise. But she's glad today's young stars don't have to do so.
The 29-year-old actress said she was "so gay" on "Saturday Night Live" two years ago. But she sees a shift in culture that's allowed young people - in and outside Hollywood - to accept fluidity in gender and sexuality.
"I felt this huge responsibility, like one that I was really genuinely worried about, if I wasn't able to say one way or the other, then was I sort of like forsaking a side," said Stewart, who also had a long-term relationship with "Twilight" co-star Robert Pattinson.
"The fact that you don't have to now is like so much more truthful," said Stewart.
The actress stars alongside Laura Dern in "J.T. LeRoy," a biopic about a young woman named Savannah Knoop whose sister-in-law Laura Albert created LeRoy as a literary persona. Knoop pretended to be a man in public appearances as the celebrated author, and now identifies as nonbinary.
Stewart celebrates that decision along with statements from younger Hollywood stars like Sophie Turner, 23, who have refused to label their sexuality.
"If you were to have this conversation with someone like in high school, they'd probably like roll their eyes and go, 'Why are you complicating everything so much?' ... Just sort of do what you want to do,'" she said. "It's really nice."
Stewart says contemporary culture is still struggling to define fluid gender and sexuality: "I just feel like we don't even have the words to describe the complexities of identity right now."
Stewart says she'll be putting that spirit into her feature film directorial debut, an adaptation of the memoir of a bisexual swimmer-turned-artist titled "The Chronology of Water."
"So much of that spirit is completely about finding new - finding a new language. And like really understanding that your word house, so to speak, is constructed by you," she said. "And you can also have a million definitions of any word you want. Like they are open for interpretation. ... So like words as solace -- because they really can be used as weapons or really like more saviors."
Washington, Apr 30 (AP/UNB) — What does it take to kill the Night King?
Definitely not a pair of fire-exhaling dragons. The Night King turns out to be flame retardant.
Nor does the ability to loop through time and assume control of ravens' brains help much. Bran Stark pretty much sat helpless beneath the Weirwood tree, waiting to be rescued in a way that was no different than a damsel tied to train tracks in a silent film.
Past experience dueling the Night King provided to be of little help. Jon Snow — after multiple showdowns with the blue-ish personification of cold death — was pinned down far away from the action by the Night King's own "ice" dragon.
In the Associated Press' weekly "Wealth of Westeros" series, we're following the HBO fantasy show's latest plot twists and analyzing the economic and business forces driving the story. This week, Arya's triumphant assassination of the king ice zombie has prompted an appreciation among us for the role of skills, in economics as well as medieval Westeros.
Because — SPOILER ALERT — it took skills to kill the Night King.
Arya Stark stabbed the Night King into a shattered death. As he held her aloft in a choke hold, Arya deftly dropped a Valyrian steel knife into her free hand and plunged the blade into the Night King's surprisingly brittle chest.
Arya trained for this precise moment for almost the entire duration of the HBO series. It was the kind of outcome that few fans of the show foresaw, unless they internalized the lessons of the 18th Century philosopher Adam Smith, who is known as the "father of economics."
In his 1776 book "The Wealth of Nations," Smith theorized that the ability to specialize in a distinct set of skills will lead to stronger economic growth. Skilled blacksmiths, tailors, lawyers, doctors, bankers and software programmers not only work more quickly, but they produce a better product. Getting skills requires a combination of time, training and teachers.
This was Arya's advantage.
She took fencing lessons in King's Landing with Syrio Forel (RIP). Orphaned and alone after Ned Stark's death in the first season, she mastered the art of hiding in plain sight.
Arya then sailed east to study how to become an assassin under the tutelage of the faceless men at the House of Black and White. She trained on the long-staff against the cruel waif, learning how to fight while blind-folded.
Just before the battle of Winterfell, she commissioned a special staff with a detachable blade in order to compete against the Night King's army. And careful viewers saw her dagger move against the Night King before, when Arya was mock-fighting Brienne of Tarth in the seventh season.
Arya's time spent learning closely resembles what economists see as one of the best job training methods available: an apprenticeship. The benefits of apprenticeships — in which companies pay workers, typically younger ones, to learn highly-specific skills — have been touted by both the Trump and Obama administrations, a rare area of bipartisan agreement.
Roughly 90% of apprentices have jobs after completing their apprenticeships, with average starting pay of more than $50,000, according to a 2015 report by the Obama White House.
Naturally, the unemployment rate is lower for workers who are perceived as having more skills. Just 2% of college graduates are unemployed, almost half the rate of people with only a high school diploma.
But the United States isn't investing sufficiently in skills training, even though such a move is touted as conventional wisdom by business and political leaders. A report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that, out of 29 developed countries, the United States spent the second-least amount on training programs, as a percentage of its economy, ahead of only Mexico.
It wasn't always that way.
History also shows that, like Arya Stark, skills can help when circumstances get terrible. During the depths of the Great Depression, productivity increased and laid the foundation for an economy that could meet the demands of World War II and then boom afterward.
"The resilience of (productivity) growth in the 1930s reflected U.S. success in creating a strong 'national innovation system' based on world-leading investments in human capital and R&D," the economists Gerben Bakker, Nicholas Crafts and Pieter Woltjer concluded in a 2016 paper.
It's the unique skills possessed by Arya and others that might make the difference in the battle to come over control with Westeros. Queen Cersei may have 20,000 mercenaries serving as fresh troops against the battered survivors of the Battle of Winterfell. But ... can any of them be stealth assassins?
New York, Apr 30 (AP/UNB) —Notable reaction to the death of "Boyz N the Hood" filmmaker John Singleton:
"Thank you John for being my friend, brother and mentor for 30 years. For believing in me when I was unsure of myself. Your passion for telling our stories from our point of view was more than an obsession, it was your mission in life. Your love for the black experience was contagious and I would never be the man I am without knowing you. On April 29, 1992 you were on TV warning the world what was to come. I'm sad today, cause on this April 29th who will warn the world what's to come. I love you and I miss you already brother." — "Boyz N the Hood" star and rapper Ice Cube, in a statement.
"You gave me my first movie role, my first Oscar nomination and so much more. Thank you for all you have given to the world through your work and all you have done for Black culture, women and young filmmakers. I will miss you John. Keeping your family in my prayers." — "Poetic Justice" star, pop star Janet Jackson, via Instagram.
"With His Passion, His Heart, The Way He Talked About His Love For Cinema And Black Folks I Could See John Would Make It Happen. And He Did. From Day One." — Spike Lee, via Instagram.
"So sad to hear about John. I met him way before he did 'Boys in the Hood.' He had more drive then anybody I've ever met." — Chris Rock, via Instagram.
"Thank you for all that you gave to the world the movies the messages the opportunities to so many people like myself to grace the big screen in a major role with major black actors you were and will allways be black excellence love you for life and beyond." — Snoop Dogg, via Instagram.
"Rest In Power, my friend. One of the greatest to ever do it. Thank you GOD for blessing us with this gift better known as John Singleton." — "Boyz N the Hood" actor Regina King, via Instagram.
"Mourning the loss of a collaborator & True Friend John Singleton. He blazed the trail for many young film makers, always remaining true to who he was & where he came from!!! RIP Brother. Gone Way Too Soon! — "Shaft" star Samuel L. Jackson, via Twitter.
"RIP John Singleton. So sad to hear. John was a brave artist and a true inspiration. His vision changed everything." — Jordan Peele via Twitter.
"The best life is when we leave a trail. We leave something on this earth bigger than us. John Singleton....you inspired a generation of Artists. We will shoulder on....'May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest". RIP" — Viola Davis, via Twitter.
"The youngest-ever Best Director nominee and an inspiration to us all. John Singleton, you will be greatly missed." — Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, via Twitter.
"This thing we call the cinema is over 100 years old and like most things it was a white man's world. Women weren't allowed into it. African Americans weren't allowed into it, other people of color. The working class, we don't go to film school, but people like John Singleton did. They forced their way in so that millions of Americans would have a voice, and he is a pioneer and one of the people responsible for that." — Filmmaker Michael Moore, at the 50th anniversary gala at Film at Lincoln Center.
"John is admired for putting a lot of people of color to work throughout his career. Our prayers are with his children and family members. He will be sorely missed." — Magic Johnson, via Twitter.
"The magnitude and world-wide impact that his ground-breaking film would have for society cannot be measured. Helping to bring awareness of what it takes to come to maturity as a black male in the 'Hood, or die trying..." — "Boyz N the Hood" actor Morris Chestnut, via Instagram.
"Today my heart breaks. #JohnSingleton was an innovator - he came to us with so much drive and clear creative vision in a time when people of color didn't have the visibility in cinema that we do today. He is and will always remain a beacon of light in our community, and today we celebrate the incredible legacy he left behind and the cultural contributions he has made. Rest well my friend, we've lost one of the good guys." — Halle Berry, via Instagram.
"Over the course of his illustrious career, John remained steadfast in telling stories that illuminate the daily challenges faced by African Americans, particularly those living in the inner city." — John Landgraf, chairman of FX Networks and FX Productions, in a statement.
"Cruel. Not what I want to say right now. But certainly how I feel. Cruel. Just... so cruel." — Barry Jenkins, via Twitter.
"There aren't many of us out here doing this. It's a small tribe in the grand scheme of things. He was a giant among us. Kind. Committed. And immensely talented. His films broke ground. His films mattered. He will be missed. And long remembered. Thank you, John. #RunIntoHisArms" — Ava DuVernay, via Twitter.
"This one cuts deep. You'll never be forgotten. Cause your work will live on." — Writer-producer Lena Waithe, via Twitter.
"Rest up John Singleton. We never met, but Remember The Time literally changed my life. Thank you so much. God Bless you" — Chance The Rapper, via Twitter.
"I made one of the best decisions of my career in buying the script of Boyz n the Hood and hiring John to direct it. Since then, I have been honored to call him my friend. Over the years he has sent me first drafts of his scripts, from which I always learned something new about our place as Americans, and as human beings. I will miss his friendship, our conversations, and his contributions to our industry." — Frank Price, former chairman of Columbia Pictures and current chairman of the USC School of Cinematic Arts Board of Advisers, in a statement.
"There was a time when I was struggling to pay my bills in film school and not sure this town was for me. And one day, not long after Boyz N The Hood exploded on the scene, my phone rang. It was John Singleton. John did not know me at all. But someone at USC had told him I was talented and he was kindly calling to offer me some words of encouragement. He told me to keep writing. I never forgot it. Praying for him and for his family now." — Shonda Rhimes, via Instagram.
"#johnsingleton Needless to say we go way, way back... There are no words to convey the absolute loss and sadness I feel right now. John was there for his fellow filmmakers, always. All we had to do was look up and he would be there smiling and applauding our efforts." — Filmmaker Julie Dash, via Twitter.
"He was early in the game and he broke through and because of him a lot of good stuff is happening today." — Filmmaker John Waters, at the 50th anniversary gala of Film at Lincoln Center.
"It's very tragic. I feel a big loss. Somebody innovative, incredible energy. ... We need our energized people, filmmakers, artists, and he was an important one." — Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, at the 50th anniversary gala of Film at Lincoln Center.