Following is a summary of current entertainment news briefs.
Disney CEO, responding to LGBTQ employees, says company’s stories promote inclusion
Walt Disney Co Chief Executive Bob Chapek said on Monday in response to calls that the company take a public stand against a Florida bill that would prohibit classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity that Disney’s stories “are our corporate statements” in support of a diverse , inclusive world. In a memo to Disney staff, Chapek wrote that he met Friday with a group of Disney’s LGBTQ+ leaders to discuss the legislation and its potential impact on their communities. He expressed the leadership team’s support for Disney’s employees and their families and the company’s commitment to inclusion — though Disney would not issue a statement.
Ed Sheeran denies borrowing ideas in ‘Shape of You’ copyright trial
British singer Ed Sheeran denied that he simply altered other artists’ music and words to pass their work off as his own as he gave evidence on Monday in a copyright trial over his 2017 chart-topping hit “Shape Of You”. The award-winning singer is in a legal battle with grime artist Sami Chokri, who performs as Sami Switch, and music producer Ross O’Donoghue, who argue “Shape of You” infringes “particular lines and phrases” from their 2015 song “Oh Why”.
US Supreme Court nixes bid to reinstate Bill Cosby’s conviction
Bill Cosby avoided renewed legal jeopardy on Monday when the US Supreme Court declined to hear a bid by prosecutors to undo last year’s ruling in Pennsylvania that overturned the 84-year-old actor and comedian’s 2018 sexual assault conviction.
The justices let stand the decision by a divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court that Cosby should never have faced the charges because a previous local district attorney had publicly promised in 2005 not to prosecute him, turning away an appeal by prosecutors. The state court’s ruling freed Cosby after he spent nearly three years in state prison, angering sexual assault victims and their advocates.
Kosovo war widow’s inspirational tale told in film ‘Hive’
The true story of a Kosovo war widow who defied tradition to launch a successful business enterprise is told in “Hive”, a film its director hopes will educate viewers about overcoming the traumatic aftermath of conflict. Fahrije Hoti was 28 when she lost her husband, along with almost the entire male population of her village, in the 1998-99 uprising of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority against repressive Serbian rule.
Italian dancer quits Bolshoi Ballet over war in Ukraine
Italian Jacopo Tissi said on Monday he was leaving his role as a principal dancer with Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “I am shocked by this situation that has come upon us from one day to the next, and quite honestly, I find myself unable to continue with my career in Moscow,” Tissi wrote in a post published on Instagram.
Oscar nominees celebrate ‘year like no other’ ahead of ceremony
Will Smith, Kristen Stewart and other Academy Awards contenders gathered on Monday to celebrate at the annual Oscar nominees’ luncheon, one of the film industry’s largest pandemic gatherings since the COVID-19 limited the Hollywood awards circuit. Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessica Chastain, Steven Spielberg and Bradley Cooper also joined the crowd in a packed ballroom at the Fairmont Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles. Stars mingled with sound mixers, costume designers and other behind-the-scenes workers in contention for this year’s Oscars, which will be awarded in a live ceremony on March 27.
Bolshoi Theater’s chief conductor quits after pressure to condemn Ukraine’s invasion
Tugan Sokhiev, the chief conductor at Moscow’s prestigious Bolshoi Theatre, announced on Sunday he was quitting his job after coming under pressure to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Sokhiev also said he was resigning as conductor of an orchestra in the French city of Toulouse, where officials had pressed him to clarify his attitude to the invasion.
Box Office: ‘The Batman’ Scores $128 Million, Second-Biggest Pandemic Debut
Holy ticket sales, Batman! Robert Pattinson’s pitch-black superhero adventure “The Batman” collected a mighty $128.5 million in its box office debut, marking the best opening weekend of 2022 by a landslide. But what is more impressive: it’s only the second pandemic-era movie to cross the $100 million mark in a single weekend, a first feat achieved by “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which launched last December to a historic $260 million.
(With inputs from agencies.)