New York, Apr 26 (AP/UNB) — Taylor Swift says she's releasing a new single and music video called "ME!" on Friday that's about "embracing your individuality and really celebrating it."
In an interview with Robin Roberts on Thursday — during the 2019 NFL Draft on ABC — the pop star said the song features Brendon Urie of Panic! of the Disco.
"I think that with a pop song we have the ability to get melodies stuck in people's heads and I just want it to be one that makes (people) feel better about themselves," she said.
Swift has been teasing fans for weeks with clues about a new project. She surprised a few hundred fans Thursday when she visited a mural she commissioned in Nashville.
Swift thanked the artist who created the mural in an Instagram post on Thursday. She also thanked her fans for showing up, saying: "I've never been more proud of your FBI level detective skills."
"The fans are amazing. I can't believe how dedicated they are," Swift told Roberts. "I can't believe how much they care — so it makes it more fun more for me to create music, to create music videos."
Swift's last album was "reputation," released in 2017.
Los Angeles, Apr 17 (AP/UNB) — The first episode of the final season of "Game of Thrones" is a record-breaker for the series and HBO.
The pay channel said the 17.4 million viewers who watched Sunday's episode either on TV or online represent a season-opening high for the fantasy saga.
HBO Now also posted its biggest streaming night ever, the channel said Monday.
The episode topped the 16.1 million who saw the seventh-season premiere and the 16.9 million who watched that season's finale.
Reflecting increasing audience fondness for streaming, HBO saw about a 50 percent increase in online viewing compared to last season's finale. In comparison to the season-seven premiere, the streaming audience nearly doubled.
"Game of Thrones" ultimately averaged 32.8 million viewers per episode last season in cumulative TV and online viewership, HBO said.
Los Angeles, Apr 15 (AP/UNB) — Devoted "Game of Thrones" fans who've watched and re-watched all 73 episodes of the HBO series, and read and reread all 4,000 pages of the books by George R.R. Martin, will at long last get the ending they've craved with the series' eighth and final season that starts Sunday.
But will it be the "real" ending?
The plotlines of the show have long since shot past what's in Martin's books, whose own finale may be many years away. While the endings will likely be similar, Martin, the master of this universe, could take a very different path to get there, making the coming end of the HBO show with its showdown between the humans of Westeros and the invading White Walkers possibly just a preview.
For some it all just means twice the fun.
"It doesn't bother me. I don't think they need to be one and the same," said Adonis Voulgaris, a fan of both formats who lives in San Francisco. "For me, it just means more content I get to immerse myself in."
The show premiered in 2011, the same year Martin's fifth book in his "A Song of Fire and Ice" series was released. Fans have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for the sixth, "The Winds of Winter," ever since, and many wonder whether the 70-year-old author will live long enough to finish all seven planned books in the series.
"George is not a fast writer," said book-and-show devotee Andrew Stachler, 44, of South Pasadena, California. "So if you were following along, I think it was pretty evident early on that the show was going to get ahead of the books."
That did indeed happen, and by season six warrior and king-in-the-making Jon Snow had been resurrected and went back to trying to save the world, while he still lies stabbed to death in a mutiny in the books.
Martin, an executive producer on the TV series who has written episodes but is sitting this season out while he works on the book, gave HBO showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss an outline of where his long-planned plot goes, including the fates of characters like Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Arya Stark.
Armed with that roadmap, Benioff, Weiss and other writers have been telling the tale without books to back them. Fans are divided about the results, and how true they are to Martin.
"It doesn't seem any less planned out to me," Stachler said. "It's absolutely a continuation of his vision. I always felt like the show cleaned up the narrative in tighter, better-paced ways anyway."
Other readers feel the showrunners' vision and style have taken over.
"I think you've seen that in the last couple of seasons where you don't have the book as guide, you just go from one big event to another to another, without that feeling of the backstory," said Gabriela Perez, 44, of Mexico City. "It's sort of like drinking a Diet Coke, it has all the flavor and all that, but you can tell the difference."
Voulgaris, 27, said "last season was absolutely on fast-forward. The rate at which people would travel from one place to another was incredible. But that makes it fun to watch, it makes it accessible to any viewer."
But the quibbles seem to go out the window when it comes to the giddy anticipation that comes with the six episodes, most running well over an hour, that make up the final season.
"Oh, I'm still super excited," Perez said. "I want to know what this version of the ending is."
And wanting to be a part of a massive shared event may dwarf any thoughts that this is less than final. Some 12.1 million viewers tuned in to the season seven finale, with 4 million more streaming it the same night and many millions more in the following days. The May 19 series finale is sure to draw a bigger audience, and a social media maelstrom.
"I do think this last season is going to be the largest cultural moment we've had in a long time for any kind of branded property," Stachler said. "I don't know what to compare it to. I don't know when we'll see something this big again."
And with no book to spoil it, readers and non-readers alike get to be, and expect to be, surprised.
"Everybody has an idea," Voulgaris aid. "It literally could go in any direction."
Martin's world probably has a future on TV. He and Jane Goldman have scripted a pilot, set in Westeros thousands of years before the timeline of "Game of Thrones," that is in production for HBO. The cable channel has other possible spinoff scripts in the works, too.
Martin has released sample chapters of "The Winds of Winter" to sate hungry fans, and in them characters are in very different places than where the show put them, suggesting the endings might diverge too.
And the author is subversive enough that he may change his mind about the ending once the show is done.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he went down a totally different path, just because he's bored," Perez said. "For the type of writer he is I can see him doing it, thinking, 'You know what? that's been done. I'll do something else.'"
Los Angeles, Apr 6 (AP/UNB) — TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, who is in a relationship with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, filed for divorce the day after Bezos' divorce was finalized.
Sanchez and talent agent Patrick Whitesell, her husband of 14 years, both filed divorce papers Friday. They're seeking joint custody of their two kids.
The divorce of Bezos and wife MacKenzie Bezos was finalized Thursday.
The billionaire pair announced they were getting divorced in January, shortly before the National Enquirer reported that Jeff Bezos and Sanchez were having an affair.
He later accused the tabloid's publisher of threatening to publish explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private messages with Sanchez.
Sanchez has been a news anchor and sports reporter, and hosted Fox TV's "So You Think You Can Dance."
Las Vegas, Apr 2 (AP/UNB) — Winter came to Las Vegas. Fire-breathing dragons held court over the world-famous fountains at the Bellagio casino-resort Sunday, as familiar elements from the TV phenomenon "Game of Thrones" were projected on the rising water. The jets danced to a score incorporating the recognizable theme song before one of the colossal beasts lit up the lake along the Las Vegas Strip in a blaze of pyrotechnics.
The 3½-minute spectacle that left a crowd of onlookers cheering debuted two weeks ahead of the scheduled premiere of the HBO fantasy series' final season.
The streaming water formed the show's iconic throne and crown. A towering 800-foot-long (244-meter) wall of water emerged from the lake.
The display, however, intentionally did not reveal any elements of the new season.
"We didn't just want to portray literally scenes from 'Game of Thrones' here, not like a teaser or a preview of season eight," said Mark Fuller, CEO of WET Design, the company that created the fountains and show. "We want to bring you the emotion."
At the heart of the fountain show is the giant wall of water. It represents the ice wall that defines the TV show, but also serves as a surface onto which the creators project falling snow, the series' logo and the silhouettes of the dragons breathing orange and blue flames.
The company worked with the series' composer Ramin Djawadi to create a special score that along with the dancing water aimed to capture the excitement of the TV hit.
The fountain show begins by dropping musical hints of the TV series, using Djawadi's "Winter is Here" from the seventh season. It comes to full force as the show's recognizable "Main Titles" theme song comes on.
"We have to make sure that the fountain gives the same kind of energy, the same kind of drama, that people are associating this music with," said Peter Kopik, director of design and choreography for WET Design. "(That) was the hard part of the choreography because it's continuously energetic and continuously up and loud and strong, and choreography had to reflect the same thing and not being tiring at the same time."
The spectacle ends as the shadow of the Night King appears one last time, and flames cover part of the roughly 9-acre (3.6-hectare) lake.
Oklahoma resident Josh Elliott stopped by the lake with his wife Sunday as part of their anniversary trip. They were amazed by what they saw.
"We have probably seen a hundred fountain shows, and this is by far the best," he said while waiting for the show to start for a second time. "Oh yeah, we are not moving."
Las Vegas resident Gaile Tiquia is re-watching all seasons ahead of the upcoming premiere. She said she came to the casino-resort after seeing a mention on social media about the special show and wondering if it would include any spoilers.
"I had chills for the entire show," she said. "It's amazing! It's too much."
The "Game of Thrones" fountain show marks the first time the lake has been set ablaze, but artists and others have previously used the fountains for a variety of stunts. Billionaire Richard Branson rode a jet ski on the lake in 2010, and Drake performed one of his hits there during the 2017 Billboard Music Awards.
The landmark at the luxury property owned by MGM Resorts International attracts millions of visitors every year. It has nightly shows with recorded music ranging from Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman's duet "Time to Say Goodbye" to Sin City's unofficial hymn "Viva Las Vegas" sung by Elvis Presley.
"The Bellagio fountain is iconic. It's known around the world, and so is 'Game of Thrones,'" Djawadi said. "So, I think putting them together and seeing the music choreographed to a fountain like that is quite the spectacle. I think it will get everybody really pumped for this final season coming up."
The special fountain show will run nightly until April 13, the day before the eighth season's premiere.