Stars condemn government for failure to agree visa-free touring in Europe | Ents & Arts News


Liam Gallagher and Sir Elton John are among dozens of music stars who are calling on the government to resolve the “gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be”.

In an open letter published in The Times newspaper, they call on the government “to urgently do what it said it would do and negotiate paperwork-free travel in Europe for British artists and their equipment”.

Since the UK left the European Union and free movement ended, performing artists hoping to tour in the EU must now seek separate permits to work in many of the 27 member states. They will also have to pay for expensive carnets (permits) to cross borders with their equipment and trucks carrying kit or they could have their journeys capped.

The letter, largely organised by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, warns touring will become “unviable” for many musicians in an industry that is already “on life support” because of closures forced by lockdown.

And the letter requests the arrangement be reciprocal so that British venues can book, and British fans can see, European artists perform here.

Concert violinist Tasmin Little OBE, who signed the letter, said the government needed to “understand the nature of a touring musician’s life”.

“Touring is a complicated business with a huge amount of admin attached,” she added. “You’re often on the road for days on end, criss-crossing borders and playing in many countries within a very short span of time.”

“We need to be able to travel around in order to pick up work… The government has let this industry down very, very badly.”

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Gary Numan says it is less well known musicians who will suffer the most Pic: Scott Gries/Invision/AP

Fellow signatory Gary Numan told Sky News it was “demoralising” and “disappointing” that government hadn’t secured an agreement, warning it’s the smaller artists and crew who will lose out.

“I’ll be ok. I will be able to carry on touring. But it will have an effect… But people down the ladder, it’s going to be horrible for them.

“The majority of people think of touring bands as being well off, earning lots of money… But the truth is very different to that. The vast majority of bands do not make a lot of money from touring.

“And it’s not just the bands themselves. It’s the crew that go with them, it’s the merch people, your trucks, your vans.”

The industry has long warned that leaving the European Union without a specific deal for the creative industries would make touring prohibitively expensive and complicated for many artists.

But the issue has gathered momentum in recent weeks. A petition demanding a free cultural work permit garnered more than 250,000 signatures is expected soon to be debated in parliament.

The UK government has insisted the EU “repeatedly rejected” the UK’s proposal”, which was “based on feedback from the music sector, that would have allowed musicians to tour”.

A spokesperson said: “The EU’s offer in the negotiations would not have worked for touring musicians: it did not deal with work permits at all, and would not have allowed support staff to tour with artists.”

But in parliament on Tuesday culture minister Caroline Dinenage said that the EU’s proposals – which would have enshrined permanent visa-free short stays for EU citizens in the agreement – would have not have been “compatible with our manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders”.

The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will today host a roundtable discussion with representatives from across the cultural and creative industries to discuss ways the government can support the sector moving forwards.



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Gary Numan: ‘One of my songs got over a million streams – I got £37’ | Ents & Arts News


Gary Numan has told Sky News he received just £37 for a hit that had been streamed more than a million times, as an inquiry into the economics of digital music services continues.

The British singer-songwriter, best known for hits including Are ‘Friends’ Electric?, Cars and We Are Glass in the 1970s and 80s, has sold millions of records over the years and is set to release his 18th solo studio album, Intruder, in May.

With artist revenue from touring obliterated by the COVID-19 pandemic, platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Google Play have come under increased scrutiny in the past 12 months and are currently being looked into by a department of culture, media, and sport committee (DCMS) inquiry.

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Nile Rodgers is among several artists who have appeared at an inquiry into streaming. Pic:John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx/AP

On Wednesday, executives from the UK’s “big three” major labels – Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music – as well as representatives from licensing bodies, appeared before MPs for the third session of the hearing, which has already seen artists such as Elbow frontman Guy Garvey, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, Chic’s Nile Rodgers and singer-songwriter Nadine Shah give evidence.

The label heads told MPs their cut from streaming was a fair reward for the risks involved in developing artists, recording, marketing and distribution.

Numan is not appearing at the inquiry, but gave his thoughts on the revenue from streaming in an interview with Sky News – putting the figures into context.

“The solution’s simple,” he said. “The streaming companies should pay more money. They’re getting it for nothing.

“I had a statement a while back and one of my songs had had over a million plays, million streams, and it was £37. I got £37 from a million streams.”

Giving another example, Numan continued: “I printed out, I think it was about a year ago, a statement – my streaming statement came in and I didn’t look at it, I just put it to print, and I looked over about half an hour later, it was still printing.

“It was hundreds and hundreds of pages. And the end of it was, like, £112. It was barely worth the [paper] it was printed on, and it took nearly half an hour to print. You know, it’s so much stuff, so much streaming, and there’s absolutely nothing in it.”

Streaming currently accounts for more than half of the global music industry’s revenue and brings more than £1 billion to the UK in revenue, with 114 billion music streams in the last year.

But according to the Broken Record campaign, artists receive around 16% of the total income from streams, while record companies get around 41% and streaming services around 29%.

Numan said that very big artists can do well from streaming, but smaller artists struggle.

“If you’re really at the top, then you can earn pretty well from streaming,” he said. “If you’re not, you might as well forget it, it isn’t even worth printing it out, printing out the statement.”

The star’s words were echoed during the latest DCMS session by Peter Leathem, chief executive of music copyright collective Phonographic Performance Ltd, who said: “If you look at 2019, the best-selling albums were Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, based on the film, and Abbey Road by the Beatles, its 50-year anniversary.

“If you are trying to break a new artist or trying to get your own streaming going you have got the last 50 years of the music industry to compete with.”

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But Tony Harlow, chief executive of Warner Music UK, cautioned against disrupting the system.

“This is an evolving situation,” he said. “It is being well-governed by a market that is efficient and nimble and it doesn’t need any change.

“Any disruptions could diminish UK competitiveness at a time when I feel the UK needs to be the home of recorded music, just as it is by providing one in 10 streams around the world, by being the number two export business.”

During the session, it was suggested that major labels were operating like an “oligopoly” – to which Jason Iley, chairman and chief executive of Sony Music UK and Ireland, replied: “The independent sector is a brilliant sector and signs some of the best acts.

“There is more opportunity for artists to either sign to a major label or sign to an independent label or distribute their own records. There are more avenues today than I have ever seen in my time doing this job.”



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Ulrika Jonsson defends Stacey Solomon over ‘shaming’ of having children with different fathers | Ents & Arts News


Ulrika Jonsson is standing “tall and proud” with Stacey Solomon following an online comment about her having children by different fathers – and says she was always “stumped by the injustice” of her own “4×4” nickname.

TV presenter Jonsson, best known for her work on Gladiators and Shooting Stars in the 1990s, has four children with four different men and was infamously given the epithet by critics following the birth of her youngest.

Loose Women host and former X Factor star Solomon, 31, has two sons from previous relationships as well as a little boy with fiance Joe Swash, and responded when an Instagram user highlighted this online.

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Stacey Solomon has a son with fiance Joe Swash, and two older boys. Pic: Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

Commenting on one of her posts, the user said it “must be very sad having three different dads for your boys”.

Solomon replied to say her children “are the best thing that ever happened” to her.

In a newspaper column, Jonsson, 53, defended Solomon and criticised the double standards for men and women.

“The simple truth – which applies to both me and Stacey – is that we are good, caring mothers,” Jonsson wrote in The Sun. “We chose to have our children – we longed for them, regardless of the circumstances of their creation.

“We love them more than anything in the world. And we both nurture our children, keep them by our sides, care for and pay for them. We did not sow our seeds and disappear.

“We chose to take responsibility, to carry these creations in our own arms, sometimes with the assistance of others, sometimes on our own.

“I fail to see the issue with that. My children see themselves as whole siblings and are better adjusted than many other children I know.”

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Jonsson also asked the question, “why don’t men ever get stick for it?”, and listed male stars who have had children with different women, such as Bob Marley, Rod Stewart, Jude Law, Liam Gallagher, Paul Weller and Eddie Murphy.

She said she was “stumped by the injustice” of her 4×4 nickname and said the intention was to “hurt and, above all, to shame a woman”.

She continued: “I didn’t particularly want to be associated with the label because I felt no sense of shame. At all.”

She recalled being criticised for her family life by a Loose Women panel 12 years ago and being introduced as 4×4 by a young Jack Whitehall after her stint in the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2009.

“So I stand tall and proud with Ms Solomon,” she said. “Who knows, had life taken yet another turn, I might have had more children by more men.”



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Pamela Anderson says Donald Trump is ‘debating’ pardoning Julian Assange | Ents & Arts News


Pamela Anderson has called on Donald Trump to pardon Julian Assange in his final days as US president, saying the move could be the “perfect way” to end his term.

The former Baywatch star is one of WikiLeaks founder Assange‘s most high-profile supporters, and has visited him several times in London, including at Belmarsh prison in May 2019.

Assange won his fight to avoid extradition to the United States earlier in January but was denied bail on mental health grounds. He is wanted to face an 18-count indictment, alleging a plot to hack computers and a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.

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Anderson is one of Assange’s most high profile supporters
Julian Assange pictured in January 2020
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The WikiLeaks founder pictured leaving court in London in January 2020

The 49-year-old has not been seen in public as a free man since June 2012, when he rang the doorbell of the Ecuadorean embassy in London and asked for sanctuary. In April 2019 he was carried out by police ahead of a 50-week jail sentence for jumping bail in 2012.

If Mr Trump were to pardon him, it would need to happen quickly, with his time at the White House due to end when Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th president of America on Wednesday.

In an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Anderson, 53, claimed she has access to Mr Trump and that he is considering the pardon.

“I know that I am in his ear,” the actress said. “I know he is debating and we will see what happens.

“He has until midday on the 20th and I hope he makes that decision because I think that could add a positive to his legacy.

“I think that he is obviously against fake news and WikiLeaks is anti-fake news. It would be a perfect way to go out.”

A supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
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Supporters of Assange gathered outside court for his latest hearing earlier in January

The Americans claim Assange’s receipt and publishing of tens of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars put lives in danger.

The raw data appeared on the WikiLeaks website in 2010, while edited versions were published in newspapers, including the UK’s Guardian.

When GMB presenter Susanna Reid suggested to Anderson that a pardon for Assange is unlikely, the actress replied: “I have been supporting him for a very long time and freedom of speech is really important.

“I think this would be a monumental position that Trump could take, that would help with human rights and the rights of a free press because it is a very dangerous situation if we don’t have a free press.”

Anderson described Assange as a “very mild-mannered, funny, sweet man with two children”.

She added: “He wants all of us to have that right to be able to know what is going on in the world.”

Anderson is not the only high-profile supporter of the WikiLeaks founder, with famous figures including fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, artist Ai Weiwei and rapper MIA all having spoken out in various forms for the Free Assange campaign.



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Justin Timberlake reveals name of his ‘awesome’ second baby son with Jessica Biel | Ents & Arts News



Justin Timberlake has confirmed he and his wife Jessica Biel are now parents to a second “awesome” baby boy – and revealed his son’s name for the first time.

The couple, who are already parents to five-year-old Silas, celebrated their new arrival in 2020.

Timberlake, 39, confirmed the happy news during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, due to air on Monday, following speculation since July that Biel had given birth.

Asked by DeGeneres to share “vaguely his name and vaguely how old he is”, Timberlake said: “Yeah, I’ll tell you his name. His name is Phineas. He’s awesome and he’s so cute and nobody’s sleeping.

“But we’re thrilled. We’re thrilled and couldn’t be happier. Very grateful.”

The couple, who married in 2012, made headlines in December 2019 when Timberlake publicly apologised after he was pictured holding hands with a co-star.

He was photographed hand in hand with Alisha Wainwright while filming their movie, Palmer, in New Orleans.

Writing on Instagram at the time, he said: “A few weeks ago I displayed a strong lapse in judgement – but let me be clear – nothing happened between me and my costar.

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“I drank way too much that night and I regret my behaviour. I should have known better. This is not the example I want to set for my son.

“I apologise to my amazing wife and family for putting them through such an embarrassing situation, and I am focused on being the best husband and father I can be.

“This was not that.”

Timberlake is among the many stars set to play a part in the inauguration of Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato and John Legend are also among the performers appearing at the ceremony.



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Jennifer Lopez, 51, says she has ‘never done Botox or surgery’ after Instagram comment on her youthful looks | Ents & Arts News


Jennifer Lopez has hit back at an Instagram user who claimed the star’s youthful looks are down to “tons” of Botox.

The 51-year-old responded to a post to clarify “for the 500 millionth time” that she has “never done Botox or any injectables or surgery”.

Lopez had posted a video on the social media site, showing her glowing skin after saying she had used a Limitless face mask from her own J Lo Beauty range, which sparked the exchange.

“Honestly, I cannot even see a line on my face,” she says in the clip, with the camera close-up to her skin. “It is glowy and gorgeous and tight and yummy.”

She continues: “I feel like it took 10 years off my face.”

The video has been viewed more than 7 million times, with many fans commenting on how Lopez achieves her youthful looks.

While many said it was down to her healthy lifestyle, others were not convinced.

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Lopez walked the Versace catwalk in 2019 in a recreation of the famous jungle dress she wore to the Grammys in 2000

“But can I just mention that brows and forehead doesn’t move at all when you talk or try to express,” one commenter said. “You definitely have Botox. And tons of it. And it’s all good. Just saying.”

Lopez responded by saying: “LOL thats just my face!!! ….For the 500 millionth time… I have never done Botox or any injectables or surgery!! Just sayin.”

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After encouraging fans to try her beauty range, the star added: “And here is another JLO Beauty secret: try spending your time being more positive, kind and uplifting of others don’t spend your time trying to bring others down that will keep you youthful and beautiful too!!!

“Sending you love. #beautyfromtheinsideout #beautyhasnoexpirationdate.”

One fan replied: “It’s just envy that makes people disbelieve other people. Jennifer don’t let that get you down. Stand over such comments. All the best!”



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Donald Trump blimp being ‘consigned to history’ following its world tour | UK News


The Donald Trump blimp, which depicted the US president as an angry baby wearing a nappy and clutching a mobile phone, has finally been “consigned to history”.

The 20ft orange effigy first took to the skies over Westminster during protests against Mr Trump’s visit in 2018, and has since flown in France, Ireland, Argentina and various locations across the US.

Now that the 45th president’s term in office is coming to an end, it is “heading to its final resting place” at the Museum of London, to be conserved and possibly displayed for years to come.

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2018: Moment the Trump baby blimp takes off

The venue had previously said in 2019 that it was in talks to add the inflatable blimp to its protest collection.

The creators of the blimp want the item to serve as a reminder of the fight against what they describe as the “politics of hate”.

In a statement, they said: “While we’re pleased that the Trump Baby can now be consigned to history along with the man himself, we’re under no illusions that this is the end of the story.

“We hope the baby’s place in the museum will stand as a reminder of when London stood against Mr Trump – but will prompt those who see it to examine how they can continue the fight against the politics of hate.

“Most of all we hope the Trump Baby serves as a reminder of the politics of resistance that took place during Trump’s time in office.”

The museum’s director, Sharon Ament, said staff were “determined” to get their hands on the blimp in 2018.

She said: “We did not know then what would transpire.

“Of course, the museum is not political and does not have any view about the state of politics in the States.”

“We use humour a lot. And we poke fun at politicians. This is a big – literally – example of that.

“To some it’s a joyous object, it makes you smile, it makes you laugh because it’s satirical.”

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Ironically, the blimp is now in quarantine in the museum, so it can be cleared of insects before it heads to the collection.

Ms Ament added that the blimp’s final resting place is fitting, saying the effigy is a “response from Londoners”.

Donald Trump steps down this week, albeit reluctantly, to be replaced by the winner of last November’s election, Joe Biden.



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Phil Spector: Ex-music producer and convicted killer dies | Ents & Arts News


Disgraced former music producer Phil Spector has died aged 81.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has confirmed he died of natural causes on Saturday evening.

TMZ says the 81-year-old was diagnosed with coronavirus four weeks ago and was transferred from his prison cell to a hospital.

It is understood he recovered enough to return to prison but relapsed, had trouble breathing and was rushed back to the hospital, where he died.

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He was jailed for 19 years to life for killing actress Lana Clarkson

Spector was serving 19 years to life after shooting the actress Lana Clarkson at his California mansion in 2003.

He always maintained his innocence and claimed Clarkson died from accidental suicide.

Known for his Wall of Sound production method, he worked with a number of stars in the 1960s, co-writing the Righteous Brothers hit You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.

He produced The Beatles’ album Let It Be in 1970.



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Denise Van Outen could miss Dancing On Ice launch after dislocating her shoulder | Ents & Arts News


Denise Van Outen has dislocated her shoulder after falling during rehearsals just hours ahead of the launch show of Dancing On Ice.

The 46-year-old shared photos on Instagram showing her being looked after by paramedics and treated in hospital after tripping on the ice.

The presenter was rushed to A&E after suffering “a partial dislocation and tendon damage” to her left shoulder, according to The Sun On Sunday.

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The presenter is paired up with professional Matt Evers. PIC: ITV

Van Outen said she knew she’d done something serious straight away, and prayed it wasn’t a break.

While changes have now been made to her opening dance routine, she admitted it was “touch and go” whether she would be able to skate on the launch show.

Her week one dance is due to be set to Tina Turner hit Proud Mary.

In her social media post Van Outen thanked fans for their support, writing: “Told you I’m clumsy on the ice!”

She thanked the ITV production crew and medics, as well as NHS staff for looking after, adding: “I know how overstretched you are at the moment.”

She also thanked her professional dance partner, Matt Evers, “for being a true friend and taking care of me and making me laugh when I feel like crying”.

Fellow Dancing on Ice contestant and rapper Lady Leshurr posted a message of support to Van Outen on her Instagram story, asking fans to send their love and adding “I hope you heal ASAP!!!”

PIC: Instagram/vanouten_denise
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Van Outen has dislocated her left shoulder. PIC: Instagram/vanouten_denise

The 2021 series of the ITV dancing show has 12 contestants lined up including Jason Donovan, Rebekah Vardy and Mylene Klass.

It will be presented by Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, and judged by ex- Olympic ice dancing champions Jayne Torvill, Christopher Dean, actor John Barrowman and Diversity choreographer and dancer Ashley Banjo.

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Celebrities have been training for weeks at Bovingdon Airfield in Hertfordshire, with the cast and crew complying with strict coronavirus rules to allow the show to go ahead.

Dancing On Ice starts on Sunday at 6pm on ITV.



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Laurence Fox criticised after showing off mask exemption badge ‘he bought online’ | Ents & Arts News


Actor Laurence Fox has been criticised after posting a photo of himself wearing a mask exemption badge which he says he bought online.

The 42-year-old has been a vocal critic of the government’s coronavirus face covering rulings and social distancing regulations.

Along with a selfie showing him wearing his new purchase, Fox wrote: “After a long period of consultation with myself, an extended review period and proper due diligence conducted with myself, I’ve received the badge that I ordered from Amazon. Thank you for being there for me.”

The blue and yellow laminated badge, worn on a green lanyard, reads: “I am exempt from wearing a face covering”.

Smaller print below also reads: “Be kind. Keep your distance. Thank you for understanding”.

Fox signed off his post with the hashtag “anxiety”.

A pack of two similar badges with two lanyards costs around £7.99 on Amazon.

Some social media users questioned his decision as Fox did not say whether he had bought the badge due to a medical condition.

One person wrote: “Not sure at all why you (are) taking this stance Laurence but I think it’s disappointing.

“Let’s all get with the programme and not undermine the best efforts of the (government) and our people for doing the right thing. Try sending the right message out.”

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Fox was previously married to actress Billie Piper

However others backed up Fox’s stance, pointing out that face coverings do not have to be worn by everyone.

Face masks must be worn in the majority of indoor settings and on public transport, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

Those who are exempt from wearing a face covering include children under 11, those with a physical or mental impairment which stops them from using a mask and those who need to communicate with someone who relies on lip reading.

People not wearing a mask do not need to show any form of evidence by law, but the government says they may “feel more comfortable” showing proof exemption. It also says a home-made sign is an acceptable exemption card.

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Earlier this month, Fox criticised the government for shutting schools, and in November he ignored lockdown rules by throwing a dinner party.

The controversial actor has recently entered the world of politics himself, launching the Reclaim political party late last year after raising large sums from ex-Tory donors.

He says the party will “fight the culture wars” and “reclaim” British values.

Fox is the ex-husband of actress Billie Piper, and the son of actor James Fox and part of the Fox acting dynasty along with his brother, Jack, and cousins, Emilia and Freddie.





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