Washington, Jul 18 (AP/UNB) — A-list celebrities seem to be opening their hearts — or at least their wallets — to Pete Buttigieg.
The South Bend, Indiana, mayor was a virtual unknown months ago. But he used breakout town hall performances, viral moments and his biography as a millennial, gay military veteran and a former Rhodes scholar to get the attention of the entertainment industry and rake in cash.
Among the more than 50 celebrities who gave Buttigieg money during the second quarter are rocker Joan Jett ($150), recording industry mogul David Geffen ($5,600), fashion icon Anna Wintour ($2,800), designer Tom Ford ($5,600), actress Sharon Stone ($5,600) and comedian Ellen DeGeneres ($5,600). They helped fuel his field-leading $24.8 million fundraising haul.
Democratic politicians — and particularly White House hopefuls — have long leaned on the entertainment industry's home of California to serve as an ATM for their political ambitions. During the second quarter, Buttigieg proved to be particularly effective at it, outraising home-state Sen. Kamala Harris on his way toward collecting $3.8 million there, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data.
"We're very interested in Pete. People are drawn to civility and intelligence in this moment more than ever before," said Michael S. Smith, a designer and major Democratic donor who has cut checks to several 2020 candidates and hosted a fundraiser for former Vice President Joe Biden that raised over $750,000.
It's unclear whether Buttigieg's early popularity in Hollywood is sustainable for a campaign that's still in its early stages. Many entertainment industry heavies who have given to Buttigieg are keeping their options open and have also given to others in the race.
Smith and his husband, James Costos, the former ambassador to Spain, both gave to Buttigieg. But they are also among the co-hosts of another Biden fundraiser in Los Angeles on Thursday at the home of Sony's Motion Picture Chairman Tom Rothman, an event that has also drawn super-agent Bryan Lourd, Warner Bros. Chairman Toby Emmerich, and former Sony chair Amy Pascal.
Buttigieg was supposed to have a massive LGBT fundraiser last month that included Lourd, showrunner Ryan Murphy and Billy Eichner, among others. But it was cancelled — and has yet to be rescheduled — so that so Buttigieg could deal with unrest at home after a white South Bend police officer shot and killed a black man who police say was armed with a knife.
Still, when it comes to the sizzle of celebs, Buttigieg appears to be surpassing his rivals.
During the second fundraising quarter, Buttigieg kept up an aggressive fundraising schedule, often hitting multiple events in one day, including one held by Gwyneth Paltrow, who gave him $2,800.
He also collected money from Star Trek actor George Takei ($1,250); DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn ($5,600); Full House star John Stamos ($1,000); actress and singer Barbra Streisand ($1,000); and comedian and writer Larry David ($2,800).
He was also given $5,600 by Playboy heir Cooper Hefner and collected $250 from Jennifer Aniston, records show.
Other presidential contenders have drawn celebs of their own, too.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has sworn off attending big-dollar fundraisers, received donations from Scarlett Johansson ($2,800), Amy Schumer ($5,600), Rosie O'Donnell ($355), Jett ($235), Bette Midler ($2,800), actor and producer Ryan Reynolds ($2,000), Shonda Rhimes ($2,800) and musician Jackson Browne ($1,200).
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker collected $732 from his girlfriend, the actress Rosario Dawson, $500 from Alicia Silverstone and $2,800 from Ben Affleck.
Actress Jane Fonda gave $1,000 a piece to Warren, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who she co-hosted a fundraiser for. Fonda gave $2,000 to Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, records show.
Inslee also collected $5,600 from Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard.
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, who was late to enter the race and languished in fundraising, collected at least one contribution from a celebrity. Actor Steve Buscemi gave him $5,600, records show.
New York, Jul 18 (AP/UNB) — British singer-songwriter-producer Labrinth knew what he was in for when he learned he was about to work with Beyoncé: "She's a perfectionist and she's a Virgo, like my wife. Virgos are serious perfectionists."
"I was like, 'I know what I'm in for and I like that,'" he added.
The Grammy-nominated musician, born Timothy McKenzie, worked on the pop icon's newest song, "Spirit," from the new "Lion King" film, where she voices the character Nala. Labrinth said he and co-writer Ilya Salmanzadeh, who has crafted a number of Top 10 hits for Ariana Grande, were working on tracks for the film and hoped they'd come up with something Beyoncé could connect to.
"We kind of sent a rough demo over to her. She heard the song and she loved the vibe. She was like, 'OK, I'm going to get in on it with you.' She started helping us write the rest of the record," Labrinth said in an interview from London on Wednesday. "It was just like, 'This is incredible. It was just one of those moments where it was like, 'OK, I think God's blessing me now.'"
"Spirit" was released last week and appears on two albums: The new "Lion King" soundtrack as well as "The Lion King: The Gift," a Beyoncé-produced album featuring songs inspired by the film. "The Gift," out Friday, includes collaborations with Jay-Z, Blue Ivy and Kendrick Lamar, as well as African artists such as Tiwa Savage and Burna Boy.
Labrinth, who has six Top 10 hits in the United Kingdom and has produced for the Weeknd, Rihanna, Ed Sheeran and Nicki Minaj, said he was impressed with Beyoncé's attention to detail and human spirit when working together.
"She cared about everything that was in the record. She cared about what piano we were going to use. Is there enough bass? Not many artists care that much," he said. "Also, just the way she treated us as well. A lot of artists in her position, they can be divas and they can be hard to deal with. Her energy and the messages she sent to us in terms of saying thank you for contributing to 'The Lion King' — she sent really beautiful messages. I was really kind of surprised to see that someone in her position still has that humility. For me that's when I was like, 'She's got all the respect from me in the world that I can give.'"
Labrinth, 30, is probably having his best month ever: He's also the lead composer on the hit HBO series "Euphoria," which stars Zendaya and is co-produced by Drake. The show, which follows a group of suburban high school students dealing with sex, drugs, love and social media, has been highlighted for its acting and also its music, which ranges from '50s crooner Jim Reeves to Beyoncé and Lil Wayne.
Labrinth, who is in the supergroup LSD alongside Sia and Diplo, said he got the gig after show creator Sam Levinson heard his song "All for Us" and more of his music, and asked him to jump on board.
"Being involved with 'Euphoria' has given me another outlet to show how deep my world goes. I'm kind of doing orchestral compositions on there as well electric productions, hip-hop, 1960s classic music. It's allowed me to be a kid in a playground," he said.
Though Drake is part of the show, Labrinth hasn't gotten a chance to work with the rap star yet: "Funny enough, I did a tour years ago and I supported him around Europe and we spoke then. It was weird that we crossed paths again on a whole different platform (with 'Euphoria')."
"Zendaya's actually been a good creative to bat ideas with (regarding) the music," he added.
The show has become a family affair, literally, for Labrinth, who grew up in a musical home and has relatives who have worked with gospel icon Kirk Franklin and R&B singer Angie Stone.
"My family is singing on some of the 'Euphoria' records," Labrinth said. "I love using their voices. They sound amazing together."
Los angeles, Jul 18 (AP/UNB) — The 76TH Venice Film Festival is opening with Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's "The Truth."
Festival director Alberto Barbera announced the selection starring Catherine Deneuve, Ethan Hawke and Juliette Binoche in a statement Thursday.
This is the first time in years that Venice has not started with a Hollywood film. Recent openers have included "First Man" and "La La Land."
"The Truth" features Deneuve as a French movie star who reunites with her daughter and son-in-law after publishing her memoirs. The director said the small family story takes place primarily inside a house.
The film will premiere on the Lido in competition on Aug. 28.
"The Truth" is the Palme d'Or-winning director's first film to be made outside of Japan. He directed last year's Oscar-nominated drama "Shoplifters."
Tokyo, July 18 (AP/UNB) — A man screaming "You die!" burst into an animation production studio in Kyoto, Japan, and set it on fire early Thursday, authorities said, killing 13 people and leaving more than 10 others presumed dead.
The blaze injured another 36 people, some of them critically, Japanese authorities said. Most were workers at Kyoto Animation, known for mega-hit stories featuring high school girls.
The fire started in the three-story building in Japan's ancient capital after the suspect sprayed an unidentified liquid accelerant, Kyoto prefectural police and fire department officials said.
Thirteen were confirmed dead on the first and second floors, Kyoto fire department official Kazuhiro Hayashi said. On the third floor, more than 10 people were found unresponsive, he said. Some of them were found on the stairs, where they apparently collapsed while gasping for air and trying to go out to the roof.
Hayashi says firefighters were still searching inside the building in case anyone else was left behind.
The suspect was injured and taken to a hospital, officials said. Police are investigating the man on suspicion of arson.
Survivors who saw the attacker said he was not their colleague and that he was screaming "(You) die!" when he dumped the liquid and started the fire, according to Japanese media reports. They said some of the survivors got splashed with the liquid.
Footage on Japan's NHK television showed gray smoke billowing from the charred building. Other footage showed windows blown off.
"There was an explosion, then I heard people shouting, some asking for help," a female witness told TBS TV. "Black smoke was rising from windows on upper floors, then there was a man struggling to crawl out of the window."
Witnesses in the neighborhood said they heard bangs coming from the building, others said they saw people coming out blackened, bleeding, walking barefoot, Kyodo News reported.
Rescue officials set up an orange tent outside the studio building to provide first aid and sort out the injured.
Fire department officials said more than 70 people were in the building at the time of the fire and many of them ran outside.
Kyoto Animation, better known as KyoAni, was founded in 1981 as an animation and comic book production studio, and its hits include "Lucky Star," ''K-On!" and "Haruhi Suzumiya."
With at least 23 killed or presumed dead, the fire was the worst mass killing in Japan since a man stabbed and killed 19 people at an assisted living facility in western Tokyo in 2016.
A fire in 2001 in Tokyo's congested Kabukicho entertainment district killed 44 people in its worst known case of arson in modern times. Police never announced an arrest for setting the blaze, though five people were convicted of negligence. In 2008, 16 people died in a blaze at a movie theater in Osaka, near Kyoto.
Dhaka, July 18 (UNB) - When Wu Ke-xi was looking for a frightening plotline for her latest film, she didn’t need to look further than her own industry, reports The Indian Express.
The Taiwanese actress and screenwriter’s latest movie, Nina Wu, is the story of an actress who, in pursuit of a role that will lead to stardom, is abused and psychologically scarred by a man in power.
Wu found herself closely following the #MeToo movement in Hollywood, and decided to write something for women affected by sexual assaults in the entertainment industry. Directed by Midi Z, it was selected to show at the Cannes Film Festival.
“After 2017, after the year the Harvey Weinstein stuff occurred, I read a lot of documents and interviews. I was so purely curious about what happened,” said Wu. She said she has been threatened in her career, but never sexually assaulted. “It’s still a humiliating experience,” she said.
“So I felt really connected to those women.”
Asia is having its own #MeToo moment, with its homegrown entertainment industries grappling with many of the issues that have upended entertainment careers in the United States and elsewhere.
Earlier this year, the K-pop scene was shaken when two male stars were accused of sexual misconduct in South Korea. Solo singer Jung Joon-young faced allegations he secretly filmed himself having sex with women and shared the footage on a mobile messenger app; he apologized to the victims. And Seungri, the youngest member of the quintet Big Bang, was accused of trying to steer sex services to business investors. He denied the charges and retired from the group.
Last year, in India, Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta came forward with details of a 2008 complaint she filed against actor Nana Parekar for alleged sexual harassment, which he denied. A flood of stories of sexual harassment and assault followed on social media from Indian actresses and writers.
Indian actor, singer and filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, a United Nations He For She ambassador with his own Men Against Rape and Discrimination initiative, says there is unease in the industry.
“Fear runs down the spine of everyone, thinking that, ‘Oh my God, maybe I’ve done something in the past that might come back to bite me,'” he said.
He encourages other women to come forward and speak out.
“Nobody can do it for her. Nobody can out her story and put her in a position that maybe she doesn’t want to be in,” he said. “But when she does, then it’s important that people rally around her so that she feels she’s done the right thing. And through her, through that conversation, and through her words she will hopefully inspire, motivate many more people to come out. And that’s the way the system will be cleaned.”
Screenwriter Zhou Xiaoxuan did speak out. She became a central figure in China’s #MeToo movement after an essay she wrote privately, claiming she was sexually assaulted by a TV star, went public on the social media platform Sina Weibo last summer. A prominent television host, Zhu Jun, sued her for defamation and Zhou followed with her own suit, for infringing on her personal rights. Women’s rights advocates in China are following the case.
Zhou says the movement has only reached so far in China, affecting mostly a group of high-profile, well-connected men.
“They were frightened by the #MeToo trend and they stopped. But most people in this society, they’ve never heard of #MeToo,” she said.
“I’ve actually been lucky because Zhu Jun is well-known,” Zhou said. “It’s extremely difficult for women who have been assaulted by their friends, colleagues or partners to seek legal recourse.”
Japanese TV journalist Shiori Ito said she experienced months of trolling and shaming after she revealed in May 2017 that she had been raped. That was before the #MeToo movement got under way in the United States.
“I’m very grateful to all the other women that have spoken up because I felt very lonely,” she said. She said she has felt a change in Japan and in her own family “who were really against me speaking up, and then they started saying, ‘You know what, maybe she’s right.'”
An emotional television interview with South Korean prosecutor Seo Ji-hyun in January 2018, in which she said she had been assaulted eight years earlier, is credited with starting the #MeToo movement there. Seo has since won a court case for abuse of power against her alleged assaulter. She said that watching women reveal their stories in Hollywood helped give her the courage to speak publicly. Supporters marched in the streets with candles and #WithYou banners.
“I told myself that, ‘Yes, this was not my fault and that I should not be ashamed at all,'” she said.
In Pakistan, dancer, theatre director and activist Sheema Kermani is campaigning against sexual abuse, trying to make the movement there more than a moment.
“When actresses, big actresses, started calling out big names of actors for sexual harassment, I think it gave Pakistani women and women in media . the courage to speak out,” she said.
In Thailand, model and TV personality Cindy Sirinya Bishop launched the “Don’t Tell Me How To Dress” campaign after receiving a wave of support for a “social media rant” — her response to an article advising women not to wear sexy clothes for the Thai New Year in order to avoid sexual assault.
“It all started when that clip that I posted went viral overnight with the support of many, many women all over Thailand, chiming in, commenting, sharing and saying ‘Yes, this is exactly what we feel.’ Why are we always the ones that have to cover up, or why, when we are harassed or assaulted, is it somehow our fault?” she said.
Bishop also created an exhibition displaying clothing worn by sexual-assault victims. “We have university student outfits to toddler’s clothing to sweatpants and T-shirts,” she said.
She says her movement would have happened regardless of the stories arriving from America. But she adds: “In some way, the #MeToo movement has collectively empowered women without our knowing it, all over the world.”