Helsinki, Jul 30 (AP/UNB) — American rapper A$AP Rocky and two other men believed to be members of his entourage is going on trial Tuesday in Sweden in a high-profile legal case that has caught the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump and rallied music and entertainment celebrities among others.
The trial of the recording artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, starts in Stockholm District Court, which also has set aside Thursday and Friday for the case.
Swedish prosecutors allege that the Grammy-nominated rapper and the two other suspects "deliberately, together and in agreement" attacked the alleged victim, Mustafa Jafari, in central Stockholm on June 30.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison. Mayers has been in custody since July 3 and has said he acted in self-defense.
The trial will be held in a secure courtroom "because of the large interest from the media and the public," the Stockholm court said, noting that no photographing or filming will take place during the proceedings.
Prosecutors alleged in more than 500 pages of court documents that the three suspects beat and kicked Jafari while he was on the ground and that he was hit by parts of or a whole bottle.
Prosecutors also said that Mayers pushed Jafari to the ground and the court documents include numerous photos of Jafari's cuts, bruises and blood-stained clothes.
The rapper's lawyer, Martin Persson, told Swedish public broadcaster SVT on Monday that he would present the court with new evidence, including showing that "no bottle has been used to hit or injure anyone" and that the violence used was "within the limits of the law."
A lawyer for Jafari, Magnus Stromberg, told The Associated Press on Friday the beating started when one of A$AP Rocky's guards "grabbed him (Jafari) by the neck and dragged him away" and that Jafari didn't provoke the assault.
Mayer's arrest prompted Trump to intervene on behalf of the jailed rapper and sparked an unusual diplomatic spat when Swedish prosecutors charged the 30-year-old artist last week.
The case has also drawn the attention of American celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Mayer's fellow recording artists, including Sean "Diddy" Combs and Justin Bieber, and created the movement #JusticeForRocky soon after the rapper's arrest.
New York, Jul 30 (AP/UNB) — Getting fired from work isn’t usually a cause to celebrate. But the Smothers Brothers aren’t your run-of-the-mill comedians.
The duo has stepped out of retirement to commemorate the day 50 years ago when CBS canceled their show over their political impudence.
Tom and Dick Smothers — aged 80 and 82 respectively — reunited Monday for several appearances at the Chautauqua Institution and the nearby National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York.
“It’s really an honor to be honored in this way,” Tom Smothers told The Associated Press on the eve of the events. “At least we’re both alive and not having someone speak for us. We can mumble our own way through.”
The two discussed their firing in an onstage discussion and later unveiled a display of archival material they donated to the center, including their iconic red suit jackets, Tom’s guitar and Dick’s bass, scripts and creative papers, and legal documents.
“People come up to us and say, ‘We love you guys. I wish you were on television now,’” Tom Smothers recalled. “It’s a different world today.”
CBS abruptly yanked “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in April 1969 because of their persistent and humorous opposition to the Vietnam War, support of civil rights and tweaking authority. They welcomed controversial anti-war guests and resisted efforts to censor the show. The brothers weren’t allowed to use the phrase “sex education” or joke that someone was “a known heterosexual.”
“Don’t tell a comedian not to say a certain word. For sure they’ll do it,” Dick Smothers said. “The funny thing is, I look back at those things. They’re so benign, but at the time they were volatile.”
The brothers responded to their firing by filing a breach of contract lawsuit, in which CBS lost and ultimately had to pay. “We had such a minor payment dollar-wise, but that wasn’t the point,” said Tom Smothers. “We had to do it.”
Journey Gunderson, the executive director of the National Comedy Center, called “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” ″an inflection point for comedy — influencing generations of comedy creators. We look forward to sharing the Smothers Brothers’ important story and preserving it for future generations.”
Tom and Dick Smothers continued to perform up to 200 club and concert dates each year after the firing. They took their comedy show to ABC in 1970, to NBC in 1975, and back to CBS in 1988-89, but they never caught on again.
Many comedians see their influence in such envelope-pushing performers as George Carlin and Bill Maher. Tom Smothers is proud of that legacy but points out that wasn’t the plan.
“We didn’t do it intentionally. No guy goes to war and takes a bullet on purpose,” he said. “You have a mission to do.”
New York, July 29 (AP/UNB) — It's one sweet day for Lil Nas X: The breakthrough rapper's viral "Old Town Road" has broken the Billboard record set by Mariah Carey's "One Sweet Day" for most weeks at No. 1.
Lil Nas X accomplishes the feat this week as his country-trap song spends its 17th week on top of the Hot 100 chart. Carey and Boyz II Men's duet set the record in 1996, and the only song to come close to breaking it was the ubiquitous international hit "Despacito," which tied the 16-week record in 2017.
"YEEE TF HAWWW," Lil Nas X tweeted Monday.
"Old Town Road," which has achieved most of its success through audio streaming, was originally a solo song but 20-year-old Lil Nas X added Billy Ray Cyrus to the track. The song also has remix versions featuring Diplo, Young Thug, Mason Ramsey and BTS, and Billboard counts the original song and its remixes as one when calculating chart position, thus helping "Old Town Road" stay on top.
"Old Town Road" initially was in a bit of controversy in March when Billboard removed it from its country charts, deeming it not country enough (it peaked at No. 19 on the country charts). But the drama didn't hurt the song; it only propelled it.
Songs have come close to displacing "Old Town Road" from the top spot — including Billie Eilish's "Bad Guy" and a pair of Taylor Swift singles — but ultimately were unsuccessful.
Swift was successful in 2017 when her song "Look What You Made Me Do" stopped Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber's "Despacito" from reaching a 17th week at No. 1. Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" ended Carey and Boyz II Men's epic run in 1996.
Dhaka, 28th July (UNB) - Artistes of China and Bangladesh staged Rabindranath Tagore’s two popular plays ‘Chitra’ and ‘Rath Yatra’ at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA)’s Experimental Theatre Hall on Sunday.
Performers from Peking University of China presented Tagore’s ‘Chitra’ at 4 pm, which was directed by Hou Jue. The Chinese version of the play has been written by Pan Ayuan.
Rabindranath Tagore’s another popular play ‘Rath Yatra’ was staged by Loko Natya Dol at 6 pm which was directed by dramatist and BSA director Liaquat Ali Lucky.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs K M Khalid and Secretary Abu Hena Mostofa Kamal attended the plays and praised the initiative and performers.
The event is a joint collaboration of Chinese Embassy, BSA, Peking University’s Department of Afro-Asian Languages under its School of Foreign Languages, Dhaka University’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies and the Bangladesh-China Friendship Center.
The play ‘Chitra’ was also staged on Saturday at TSC Theatre of Dhaka University by the Peking University drama team.
As part of the ‘China Culture Month 2019’ programme arranged by Chinese Embassy in Dhaka, the goal behind this drama-exchange was to present the versatile creations of Rabindranath and narrate his influences in the culture of Bangladesh to the Chinese students- and also to promote the friendship and mutual understanding between China and Bangladesh. The month-long programme will also feature China-Bangladesh themed cultural exhibition.
Los Angeles, Jul 28 (AP/UNB) — Wrapping up five seasons of an award-winning series with a musical is a risk that only Amazon's "Transparent" could take.
Risks are part of the show's DNA, said series creator Jill Soloway.
"We were all just kind of flying in our risk spaces," Soloway said of creating the finale, "and today, we are still flying in our risk spaces by having made a musical as a way to say farewell to this family."
Actor Jay Duplass added that, after several seasons of pushing boundaries, upon hearing the idea he thought: "That's nuts, and it totally makes sense, and that's what we have to do."
Soloway joined sibling and executive producer Faith Soloway, as well as the cast of the Amazon series, during a Television Critics Association meeting to talk about the fitting conclusion for the characters as they mourn the loss of one of the show's central characters.
The finale begins with the death of Maura, played by Jeffrey Tambor, who left the show last year after allegations of sexual harassment on set. Approaching the death of Tambor's character with a musical gave the cast a creative outlet to also mourn their own loss, Jill Soloway said.
"Our cast is mourning Maura, and as actors and creators, we're mourning what happened with our show," Jill Soloway said on Tambor's exit, adding: "It was a chance to heal together."
The "Transparent" musical finale, which debuts Sept. 27, concludes a series that broke barriers with its representation of LGBTQ characters on screen. The show exits the television scene with others in its wake, including Ryan Murphy's award-winning "Pose."
While Jill Soloway said they don't take responsibility for the push toward more representation on screen, they are grateful to have been a part of that conversation.
"I feel more like a child in awe than parental. I came to all of this so late in my life. I wasn't even queer until my late 40s," Jill Soloway said. "So I couldn't take responsibility for this revolution. I have always felt just in awe."