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July 04,2017 04:12

Barry Pepper, from left, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Edward Norton in "25th Hour." (David Lee / Touchstone Pictures). What to watch this Fourth of July?and more »

Here's what's new and interesting in entertainment and the art:
Report: Kanye West ditches Jay-Z's Tidal service over money disputes
From the archives: All the times L.A. Times got Jim Morrison and the Doors all wrong
Warner Bros., Tolkien estate end legal scuffle over 'Lord of the Rings' merchandising
Maria Menounos reveals brain tumor, steps down from E! News
Britney Spears is mobbed by fans in Tel Aviv
Swedish music festival Bravalla cancels 2018 event amid sexual assault allegations
Tom Cruise's 'Top Gun: Maverick' scheduled for takeoff

In case you forgot to mark your calendar, Monday was World UFO Day – and to celebrate, Sony Pictures dropped a little treat for film buffs and flying-saucer buffs alike.
The studio uploaded a video entitled “This Means Something” to its YouTube page, interspersing imagery from Steven Spielberg's 1977 classic "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" with audio from an early scene in which air traffic controllers track a plane that suddenly vanishes. The video included a link to a website, www.WeAreStillNotAlone.com, with a sign-up form for "updates on UFO sightings."
So what did it mean?
Some speculated that the cryptic piece of marketing could be the studio's coy way of hinting at a reboot or sequel to "Close Encounters," which starred Richard Dreyfuss as a suburban dad who becomes caught up in a mystery involving alien visitors.
In fact, according to Variety, the video is a teaser for a planned one-week theatrical re-release of the film slated for September in honor of its 40th anniversary.
Released Nov. 16, 1977 – just months after another little sci-fi film called "Star Wars" – "Close Encounters" grossed more than $300 million and was nominated for eight Academy Awards.
Watch the teaser here:

What to watch this Fourth of July? There are, of course, those obvious holiday-title perennials, “Born on the Fourth of July” and “Independence Day” (the misbegotten “Independence Day: Resurgence,” not so much).
The five films I’m recommending here offer tougher, more conflicted visions, and some are patriotic precisely because they subject the very notion of patriotism to critical scrutiny. 
“25th Hour.” A hilariously profane diatribe attacking every class and color in America’s melting pot is the scalding, ultimately bracing centerpiece of this wrenching New York elegy. It’s the most cathartic of post-9/11 movies, and an “Hour” that may well be Spike Lee’s finest.

Even if hindsight is 20/20, it's fair to say the Los Angeles Times was never too keen on the Doors, at least not during the band's explosive rise out of L.A. in the mid-1960s. 
In honor of today's anniversary of frontman Jim Morrison's death in 1971, we revisited our archives to see how we reviewed the hometown heroes' local live performances in the '60s and '70s. It wasn't pretty.
"Perhaps Morrison should give up performing, which seems to be an effort for him, and concentrate on reciting and writing poetry," Donna Chick wrote in The Times in 1968.
Here are all the times we got the Doors wrong (or right, depending on your perspective).
John Mendelson, reviewing a show at Aquarius Theatre, July 21, 1969:
" …an hour and a half of music and/or theatrics that was best described as dull."
"[Morrison’s] singing was quite timid. Each of the many times he confronted a vocal part above his ever-diminishing range he crept cautiously into a lower register, thus avoiding the ugly croaks that were once so much a part of his singing and rendering such screamers as 'Light My Fire' quite unmoving."
"Ray Manzarek, resplendent in a sweaty undershirt, contributed his usual pedestrian organ attempting throughout the show to deafen where he couldn’t excite."
Linda Matthews, reviewing a show at Shrine Auditorium,  Dec. 23, 1967:
“'Tedious' is the only way to describe the four-hour marathon of hard rock and psychedelia at the Shrine Exposition hall Saturday night."
"What they were waiting for was the Doors, who finally showed up at midnight and plodded routinely through half an hour of album cuts."
"The Doors, whose usually poetic improvisations are shaded with psycho-analytic overtone, were not at their best."

Pete Johnson, reviewing a show at Hollywood Bowl, July 5, 1968:
"The Doors' concert at the Hollywood Bowl Friday night should have been an exciting event, the high point of the career of a local rock quartet whose struggle for success has taken more than two years. Instead it was a bore, the most disappointing pop concert at the Bowl since the Jefferson Airplane and an ill-mannered audience made a shambles of the place last summer."
"Again, the audience was largely to blame, but much of the fault lies with the Doors, particularly lead singer Jim Morrison, for failing to gain a rapport with the crowd."
(Note: The Doors' July 5 date at the Bowl was released on record as “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” in 1987 and reissued in its entirety in 2012.)
Tom Paegel, reviewing a show at Anaheim Convention Center, July 15, 1967:
"Morrison’s voice did not come over as well as it has in past performances. There was a note of hoarseness during several numbers. Words sometimes were inaudible and he seemed to be off-key. Their busy concert schedule may account for this, but the Doors are capable of doing better work."
Robert Hilburn, reviewing a show at Long Beach Arena, Feb. 7, 1970:
"It took a long time Saturday night at the Long Beach Arena to get the Doors’ fire lighted. For the first hour they seemed far from the sensual, exciting, distinctive rock outfit they once were."
"But the Doors…seemed stale and unexciting."

Kanye West has reportedly cut ties with Jay-Z's Tidal over money matters and long-simmering unrest.
The "Famous" rapper, who was among the first artists to join Jay's streaming service when it launched in 2015, appears to be embroiled in a messy battle with Tidal, according to TMZ, which first reported the rift. 
Mr. Kim Kardashian has reportedly been unhappy with the company for a while and says it owes him more than $3 million. He purports that Tidal breached his contract, and his legal team declared an end to their deal several times despite efforts to reconcile, TMZ said. 
West, a Chicago-bred rapper, also contends that his 2016 album, "The Life of Pablo," attracted 1.5 million new subscribers to the streaming service and that should have earned him a bonus. But Tidal reportedly hasn't paid up, nor did it reimburse him for music videos he made -- ones that he appears to be holding hostage until he gets the money he's owed.
Incidentally, Jay-Z's new album, "4:44," features a diss track trashing his "Watch the Throne" collaborator. However, according to TMZ, West's decision to sever ties predates that song and West had no knowledge of the lyrics before that. (Jay-Z's lyrics are said to be fueled by West's November 2016 concert rant in which he went after the Brooklyn rapper and his wife, Beyoncé.)
Tidal reportedly insists that West still has an exclusive contract with the company, and if he tried to shop his wares to another service, it would sue him. West will allegedly counter-sue.
Update, 1:15 p.m.: A previous version of this story included tweets from an unverified Twitter account. The tweets have been removed.
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A five-year battle between the estate of "Lord of the Rings" author J.R.R. Tolkien and Warner Bros. over whether Frodo, Gandalf and their pals can be used to push online gambling, among other assorted digital products, has come to an end. 
In 2012, the author's estate and publisher HarperCollins filed an $80 million lawsuit against Warner Bros., its New Line subsidiary and the Saul Zaentz Co., over merchandising rights granted in an initial 1969 agreement. Warner Bros. turned the "Lord of the Rings" books into a $5.8-billion global box-office giant.
The deal struck nearly 50 years ago gave its licensees rights to use details from Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" novels to sell "articles of tangible personal property," excluding books and printed published material. 
It did not, the estate and publisher argued in their initial filing, extend rights to market the world of Middle-earth beyond "tangible" goods.
Enter: The Internet, social media, downloadable goods, apps and a whole new world of digital moneymaking.
At the center of the 2012 beef were several intangible ways Warner Bros. was allegedly circumventing the restrictions of the agreement to milk the "Lord of the Rings" franchise digitally and online, via downloadable video games and particularly in the arena of online gambling.
Lawyers for the estate identified an online slot game based on 2001's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and argued that the studio's additional licensing of the property for use in physical casino games harmed the legacy and reputation of Tolkien, who died in 1973.
They also called out Warner Bros. for registering trademarks or intent to use applications to extend licensing to “hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, ringtones, online/downloadable games and housing developments."
Attorneys for both parties gave no details of their settlement agreement in a June 29 filing but issued a joint statement declaring an end to the long-running lawsuit.
"The parties are pleased that they have amicably resolved this matter and look forward to working together in the future."

John Oliver and the folks at HBO's "Last Week Tonight" have some "horrifying new friends," and in the spirit of Hollywood nepotism, they've promptly cast one of said pals in a movie. 
We're talking about President Warren G. Harding, whose wax-figure approximation was one of five "dubiously lifelike" former presidents the show — like a few other late-night programs — purchased at auction last January from the now-shuttered Hall of Presidents and First Ladies in Gettysburg, Pa.
"We've talked a lot about Harding on this program before," Oliver said Sunday. "He was our nation's 29th president, and his administration was nearly brought down by the Teapot Dome scandal. But he's perhaps most famous for his sexual exploits."
As for what we think of the movie, which ostensibly features Campbell Scott, Anna Kendrick, Michael McKean, James Cromwell and Laura Linney? Well ...
There are four Oscar nominees in it. Seriously. 
Click below to see for yourself, but be forewarned: The video contains a substantial amount of profanity and innuendo. The short starts around the 4:30 mark. 

Maria Menounos is recovering from surgery to remove a tumor the size of a golf ball from her brain. She's also stepping down from E! News, her TV home since 2014, while her mom fights Stage 4 brain cancer. 
With her seven-hour surgery nearly a month in the rearview mirror, Menounos went public about her benign meningioma in an interview with People. 
"I’d been getting lightheaded on set and having headaches," she told the magazine, which features her on its cover this week. "My speech had gotten slurred and I was having difficulty reading the teleprompter." 
She thanked her doctor via Twitter, saying Monday to Dr. Ryan Aronin, "You were so thorough&thank u for ... not making me feel like I was crazy to think I had a Brain tumor." 

News that she would step down from "E! News" also came Monday, in a statement from E! Entertainment obtained by The Times.
"I had such an amazing time co-hosting with Jason Kennedy and working everyday with the wonderful roster of talent on the show including producers, staff and crew,” Menounos said. “It was such a special, good-hearted group and one I'll always consider family."
But her real family is taking precedence. The 39-year-old said she actually laughed when she heard her diagnosis — because her mother, Litsa, has been battling Stage 4 brain cancer. 
“It’s so surreal and crazy and unbelievable that my mom has a brain tumor — and now I have one too?" Menounos said. Surgery on June 8 removed 99.9% of the benign tumor, she said, but she's still recovering motor functions. There's a 6% to 7% the tumor could recur, she said. Her mom's cancer is stable, she said.
Mary Tyler Moore, Sheryl Crow and Scott Baio's wife, Renee, have also had surgery to remove a meningioma, 90% of which are benign. Benign or not, they can cause ancillary problems — like Menounos experienced — depending on their size and location.  
“I don’t have my balance fully yet. ... My face is still numb," Menounos told People. "This is something that takes at least a month of healing, but I’m getting stronger and stronger every day and I’ll be back to normal very soon."
E! Entertainment President Adam Stotsky wished her well on behalf of the company.
“Our thoughts and support go out to Maria and her family and we wish them all the best knowing that Maria will tackle this with the same fierce dedication she is known for," Stotsky said in a statement.
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While Spears visited holy sites, including the Western Wall, she and her dense security detail attracted throngs of fans who instantly recognized her as she walked the streets dressed in a white T-shirt and sarong.
"Hundreds of people jumped on her, and she decided to cancel it all," a Spears source told Israel's Ynet. "It was a huge mess, with hundreds of fans and photographers gathered around her. It was a real 'Israeli celebration'; she didn't stop an excursion during any other part of her latest tour. This could only happen here."
The commotion reportedly prompted her team to also cancel a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- a meeting that was never confirmed, the prime minister's office later said. Spears was supposed to meet with pediatric cancer patients during her summit with Netanyahu, but the meet-and-greet was rescheduled and the children were invited to the concert, her sources told Ynet.
The prime minister's office also denied reports that it issued a statement saying Spears had canceled it, according to Haaretz.
The Tel Aviv performance is the singer's final stop on her short global tour. She'll return to Las Vegas for the final shows in her "Piece of Me" residency at Planet Hollywood.

Organizers of Bravalla, one of Sweden's largest music festivals, have canceled their 2018 event following reports of sexual assault.
The festival, which hosted nearly 45,000 people over four days ending Saturday in the southern city of Norrkoping, made the decision after a young woman reported being raped Friday, the Associated Press reported. Eleven other reports of sexual abuse were made during the event.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a news conference Sunday that he was upset that young women who wanted to listen to music should be “exposed to this.” He said “these are disgusting acts. We must stop this.”
Lofven said Sweden needed better policing, more video surveillance and swifter justice for perpetrators.
Sexual assault at music festivals has grown as a concern worldwide. In a Times report, noting how activists are holding festival promoters accountable, one past visitor to the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee said: 
“One time a guy even lifted up my shirt in the crowd. There’s a sense of community and ‘we’re all in this together’ that gets misconstrued at festivals. I remember being younger and not understanding that kind of thing as sexual assault. Society raises everyone to think ‘boys will be boys’ and it gets excused.”

It's been a month since Tom Cruise confirmed the news that a "Top Gun" sequel was finally in the works, and Paramount released more details about the upcoming release Friday.
"Top Gun: Maverick" has been cleared for landing on July 12, 2019, and a familiar face has signed on to helm the film with "The Mummy" star, Deadline reported.
Joseph Kosinski, who worked with Cruise on post-apocalyptic sci-fi film "Oblivion" in 2013, will direct the sequel featuring Cruise reprising the role of Maverick. 
Deadline also reported that there are four credited screenwriters on the script for "Top Gun: Maverick": Peter Craig, Justin Marks, Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz.
Scheduled for release more than 33 years after the original film's debut, little is known about the plot of the sequel beyond Cruise's character serving as a flight instructor for hot-shot pilots. 
Cruise did excitedly confirm in an interview last month that the film would include aircraft carriers and jets, so fans have those to look forward to.

"Wonder Woman" continued its impressive box office run this week and proved itself the most successful domestic release in the DC Extended Universe.
The film's Thursday night box office take of $2.68 million brought its domestic box office totals to $330.5 million, topping the $330.3 million earned domestically by "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."
The achievement comes after "Wonder Woman" opened with a significantly slower start than any of its DC Extended Universe brethren. Its $103 million opening weekend was less than the $116 million of "Man of Steel" (2013), $166 million of "Batman v Superman" (2016) and $133 million of "Suicide Squad" (2016). However the she-ro retained an impressive percentage of moviegoers between its debut and the following weekend. "Wonder Woman" had a 45% drop off in audience attendance, much lower than "Batman v Superman's" whopping 69% decline.  
Its significant box office total comes after just 28 days in theaters and heading into the Fourth of July holiday, which could prove extremely lucrative for the indomitable superhero. 

A heartbroken Adele took to Twitter on Friday afternoon to inform fans of the cancellation of the final two shows of her current tour.
"To not complete this milestone in my career is something I'm struggling to get my head around and I wish that I wasn't having to write this," the 15-time Grammy winner said in a statement posted on her Twitter feed. "I have changed my life drastically in every way to make sure I got through this tour that started at the beginning of last year. To not be able to finish it is something I'm really struggling to come to terms with."
The singer-songwriter was wrapping up her Adele Live 2016 (2017) tour with a final four shows at Wembley Stadium in London, when vocal strain forced her to seek medical advice. 
"I've struggled vocally both nights," Adele said of her first two shows at Wembley. "I had to push a lot harder than I normally do."
Upon the medical advice of her doctor, Adele said she is unable to complete the final two shows of her tour.

Though the news of the show cancellations is devastating to fans, there is an even bigger question lurking beneath the surface: Will Adele ever tour again?
As referenced in her Twitter note (which includes profanity), Adele made extensive changes in her life to make this tour work, likely a reference to the fact that the singer really, really does not enjoy touring.
"Touring isn't something I'm good at," the 29-year-old from London remarked during a New Zealand concert this year. "Applause makes me feel a bit vulnerable."
"I don't know if I will ever tour again," she continued. "The only reason I've toured is you. I'm not sure if touring is my bag."
Those same sentiments were echoed in a handwritten letter from Adele included in the program for her final shows in London. 
"Touring is a peculiar thing, it doesn't suit me particularly well. I'm a real homebody and I get so much joy in the small things," Adele wrote, going on to share that her fans were the only reason she toured in the first place.
"I wanted my final shows to be in London," she wrote, "because I don't know if I'll ever tour again and so I want my last time to be at home."

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

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