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If anyone tours next year, I’ll be surprised. If any incarnation of Van Halen tours, I’ll be doubly surprised. But here’s hoping!!

Sammy Hagar: ‘Van Halen will probably be on tour next year’

Sammy Hagar ain’t talkin’ ’bout love, but he might be talkin’ about a reunion.

The one-time frontman of Van Halen, who hasn’t played with the legendary rockers since 2004, was quizzed this week by Rolling Stone about the band’s possible future following original singer David Lee Roth’s pronouncement that the group is “finished.”

“Van Halen will probably be on tour next year,” Hagar said.

Reports surfaced in 2019 that co-founder and lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen had been battling throat cancer for a number of years, but Hagar says his former bandmate is doing better.

“Eddie had a lot of health issues, but I heard he got it together,” says Hagar. “I pray for the guy and I love the guy.”

Hagar joined the band in 1986 with 5150 after Roth departed for a solo career that never took off. He continued with the group throughout the rest of the ’80s and into the ’90s completing three other studio albums as part of Van Halen — OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, and Balance. He departed in 1996 after Eddie recruited Roth for a track on the band’s first Greatest Hits package before reuniting with group in 2004 for a reunion tour.

Roth returned to the band in 2007, but original bassist Michael Anthony was replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang.

Last year in a Talkin’ Rock With Meltdown podcast with Detroit’s WRIF, Roth said he was focused on his upcoming Las Vegas residency. “Van Halen isn’t gonna be coming back in the fashion that you know. And that being said, Eddie’s (Van Halen) got his own story to tell. (It’s) not mine to tell it.”

In 2018, Anthony revealed that he had spoken to Van Halen’s manager about a reunion trek that never took place. “They were gonna try to plan a thing for this summer [of 2019],” he said. “The next thing I knew, the plug got pulled on it.”

Still, Hagar thinks the band still has more to prove as a live act when touring can resume.

“Until Ed or Alex Van Halen die, they’re not finished,” he says. “Those are two great musicians that can friggin’ do as good as most people at half-mast. As a drummer and as a guitarist and creative person, Eddie, I can’t see them ever being finished. I wish they were more active, but I think Van Halen will never be finished.”

If and when the band resumes, Hagar thinks Van Halen should honour both his era with the band and Roth’s.

“My dream tour is the Sam and Dave tour with Ed, Al and Mike,” Hagar tells RS. “Let Wolfie put his band together and open. I have a son, Andrew Hagar, who makes great music. Let Andrew open, let Wolfie play with his band in the middle and then have the Sam and Dave tour where we do an hour each. An hour with Dave songs and an hour with me.”

He continues, “I foresee it happening. I’m not trying to plant a seed like I know something is happening. I know nothing. I just know what I know in my heart and my head, which is that it has to happen. Whether it’s Sam and Dave or not, I don’t know that either. But I know that Eddie and I are not done. If enough water goes under the bridge before we die, it’ll happen. It has to. God is going to slap us both around if he has to.”

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It’s still one of my favourite Star Wars films!!!

‘The Empire Strikes Back’ at 40: How the sequel launched ‘Star Wars’ into the future

“The Empire Strikes Back” hit theaters forty years ago, on May 21, 1980. And no Jedi mind tricks are needed to make the case that without the groundwork laid by one of the best sequels ever, “Star Wars” wouldn’t be the force that it is now.

“Empire” premiered three years after “Star Wars,” which was later subtitled “A New Hope.” With one line, “I am your father,” the second movie brought a mythic grandeur to George Lucas’ far-away galaxy, while elevating the lightsaber battle to a high art and turning the villain, Darth Vader, into the pivotal figure in the story.

The movie also introduced Yoda, the tiny Jedi master; the Emperor, establishing the master-apprentice relationship that would define the villainous Sith and their descent to the dark side; the bounty hunter Boba Fett; and Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, addressing the conspicuous lack of diversity in the original film. (After “Star Wars” opened, actor Raymond St. Jacques notably published a letter in the Los Angeles Times lamenting the “invisibility” of people of color in that film in particular, and the futuristic science fiction in general.)

Lucas didn’t direct “Empire” (that task fell to Irvin Kershner), and enlisted Lawrence Kasdan to work on the screenplay, beginning a long association with the writer-director of “The Big Chill” and “Body Heat.”

Although Lucas had plotted the story, Kasdan’s involvement helped shape and add depth to “Empire,” as it went in more mythological directions.

As Kasdan told Wired before “The Force Awakens” launched the most recent trilogy, “Nothing could be more fun than ‘A New Hope,’ but in ‘Empire’ the characters could be more interesting, more complex.” While Lucas had famously envisioned a multi-part story, as Kasdan noted, there was “no reality” to that idea until “Star Wars” became a sensation, creating the possibility of transforming the concept into a sweeping narrative.

Those heightened ambitions weren’t lost on the cast at the time. In a 2018 interview with Starwars.com, Mark Hamill recalled that “Empire” was “so much more challenging to the audience and, of course, so dark and so shocking that it ended with us defeated. … I thought, ‘This is sort of the make or break.’ If this one doesn’t resonate with the public, the future of the franchise — and at that time I was only thinking the trilogy — it’s pivotal that this movie connects.”

“Empire” connected on virtually every level, from the continued evolution of the special effects to the romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia (“I Love You.” “I know”) to composer John Williams’ “The Imperial March” (a.k.a. Darth Vader’s Theme), a piece of music every bit as iconic as the opening theme.

The movie also included what can be seen, in retrospect, as the granddaddy of spoilers — shrouding all future iterations in secrecy — before that term was commonly used.

The intervening decades have yielded a mixed bag creatively speaking for Lucas’ universe, now under the stewardship of Disney. The overarching “Star Wars” name has not only generated billions in revenue, but birthed a fan base with a proprietary feeling about the source material that they can share, for better and ill, through social media channels that were as much the stuff of science fiction in 1977 as holographic chess.

Yet most of what’s best about “Star Wars” has roots in “The Empire Strikes Back” — including key characters in the latest offshoot of it, “The Mandalorian” — in the same way “The Godfather Part II” turned its predecessor from a great movie into a “saga.”

At the moment, the future of “Star Wars” is, as Yoda would say, in motion. The linchpin of its past, however, runs straight through “Empire” and the summer of 1980.

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This is tragic news. May he Rest In Peace.

Emmy-winning comedic actor Fred Willard dies at 86

Fred Willard, the comedic actor whose improv style kept him relevant for more than 50 years in films like This Is Spinal Tap, Best In Show and Anchorman, has died. He was 86.

Willard’s daughter, Hope Mulbarger, said in a statement Saturday that her father died peacefully Friday night. The cause of his death has not been released.

“He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end,” Mulbarger said. “We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever.”

Willard was rarely a leading man or even a major supporting character. He specialized in small, scene-stealing appearances.

As an arrogantly clueless sports announcer on Best In Show, his character seemed to clearly know nothing about the dogs he’s supposed to talk about and asks his partner on-air: “How much do you think I can bench?” He also played the character of Frank Dunphy, the goofy father of Phil in the ABC series Modern Family.

Willard was a four-time Emmy nominee for his roles in What’s Hot, What’s Not, Everybody Loves Raymond, Modern Family and The Bold and the Beautiful.

In Pixar’s 2008 hit WALL-E, he played Shelby Forthright, the CEO of a ubiquitous big-box chain called Buy’n’Large.

“How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts,” said actress Jamie Lee Curtis on Twitter. She was married to Christopher Guest, who directed the mockumentary films Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman.

“Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard,” she continued.

Willard’s death comes nearly two years after his wife Mary Willard died at the age of 71. She was a playwright and TV writer, earning four Emmy nominations.

After his wife died, Willard questioned whether he would work again. But the beloved actor was brought on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to mock U.S. President Donald Trump’s “space force.” It was a reprise of his role in the 1978 NBC TV movie Space Force.

“There was no man sweeter or funnier,” Kimmel said on Twitter. “We were so lucky to know Fred Willard and will miss his many visits.”

In 2012, Willard had a brush with the law. The actor was arrested after being suspected of committing a lewd act at a Hollywood adult theatre.

Willard was fired from a narrating job and had to complete a diversion program. He called the arrest “very embarrassing” but insisted he did nothing wrong.

“It’s the last time I’m going to listen to my wife when she says, `Why don’t you go and see a movie?”‘ Willard said during an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s NBC show Late Night.

Fallon was sympathetic toward Willard, calling him a “good man” and one of his favourites.

Willard was continually beloved in Hollywood.

“Fred Willard was the funniest person that I’ve ever worked with,” Steve Carell said on Twitter. “He was a sweet, wonderful man.”

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As you probably expected…

‘Friends’ reunion special delayed

The eagerly anticipated Friends reunion special will not be debuting in May as previously planned.

Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer had all been due to make their sitcom comeback on the HBO Max show, which had been scheduled to launch at the same time as the new streaming service, where subscribers could find all of the classic comedy’s original episodes.

However, Hollywood’s shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has derailed production plans, officials have confirmed to Deadline.com.

A new premiere date has yet to be revealed, but once the lockdown comes to an end, network bosses plan to bring the castmembers together and return to Warner Bros. Studio’s Stage 24 in Burbank, Calif., where the original run was shot, to continue production on the show.

The news emerges days after LeBlanc suggested the gang had managed to regroup and film the one-off special before the COVID-19 outbreak really took hold and forced everyone into self-isolation.

“We got the band back together without the instruments,” he shared on a prerecorded episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show, which aired on Monday. “(It was) the six of us together, talking about the good old days.”

Friends aired for 10 seasons, concluding its decade-long run in 2004.

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May he Rest In Peace.

Mad Magazine illustrator Mort Drucker dies at 91

Mort Drucker, the Mad Magazine cartoonist who for decades lovingly spoofed politicians, celebrities and popular culture, died Thursday at 91.

Drucker’s daughter, Laurie Bachner, told The Associated Press that he fell ill last week, having difficulty walking and developing breathing problems. She did not give a specific cause of death, and said that he was not tested for the coronavirus. He died at his home in Woodbury, N.Y., with his wife of more than 70 years, Barbara, by his side.

“I think my father had the best life anyone could hope for,” Bachner said. “He was married to the only woman he ever loved and got to make a living out of what he loved to do.”

Mad magazine was a cultural institution for millions of baby boomers, and Drucker was an institution at Mad. A New York City native, he joined Mad in its early days, the mid-1950s, and remained well into the 21st century. Few major events or public figures during that time escaped Drucker’s satire, whether Star Trek and The Godfather or Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld.

In large strokes, Drucker took in every crease, crevice and bold feature. The big jaws of Kirk Douglas and Jay Leno bulged even larger, while the ears of Barack Obama looked like wings about to take flight. Being drawn by Drucker became a kind of show business rite of passage, with Michael J. Fox once telling Johnny Carson that he knew he had made it when he appeared in a Drucker cartoon.

Drucker’s admirers also included Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz and Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas, who in the 1970s wrote a fan letter to Mad even as his lawyers were threatening to sue over a magazine caricature. (The suit was never filed.)

Besides Mad, Drucker drew for Time magazine, DC Comics, for an ad campaign for fruit and vegetables and for the heavy metal band Anthrax, which commissioned him to design art for its State of Euphoria album.

Some of Drucker’s illustrations, include a Time cover drawing of Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong playing table tennis, ended up in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. In 2017, Drucker was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.

“As Mad magazine became an established [albeit absurd] voice in the nation’s cultural mainstream, many of the visual masters who showcased the magazine’s written content eventually became icons in and of themselves,” the Hall’s citation reads. “Indeed, Mort Drucker proved to be one of the most popular artists of the group that collectively came to be known as the ‘Usual Gang of Idiots.'”

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If they can do it, and keep everyone safe, here’s hoping it happens!!

Report: NBA Preparing 25-Day Plan to End Coronavirus Suspension

The NBA’s coronavirus suspension is now in its second month, and the league office has yet to announce a target return date for the 2019-20 season. But Adam Silver and Co. remain active in planning a potential resumption of play.

The league office is currently preparing a 25-day, “back-to-basketball plan,” according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Individual workouts would last 11 days under the NBA’s potential plan, and teams would then come together for a 14-day training camp. , per Windhorst. If parts of the nation begin to re-open, the NBA could begin a four-week program to resume the 2019-20 season.

“In talking to executives and trainers around the league, what they’re looking at is a 25-day return to basketball window,” Windhorst said on ESPN on Sunday. “An 11-day series of individual workouts. …and then hopefully, if the clearance comes that they can play five-on-five basketball, a 14-day training camp.”

“So as you hope for the country to heal and the virus to get better, look for at least about a three-and-a-half to four-week return date before you’d ever get back to games.”

The NBA has reportedly explored a slate of plans for resuming games, including a potential quarantined playoffs in Las Vegas. The league could also alter its schedule upon a return to play, with the possibility of a canceled regular season and shortened playoffs both on the table. Labor Day weekend is the league’s preferred end date for the 2019-20 season.

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His song will live forever. May he rest in peace.

‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ songwriter Alan Merrill dies from coronavirus

Singer, guitarist, and songwriter Alan Merrill has died in New York at the age of 69 as a result of the coronavirus. Merrill was best known for writing the track “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Merrill originally wrote and recorded the iconic song while he was a member of the band the Arrows, who released the track in 1975. The song would later become a huge hit for Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, who topped the charts with the tune in 1982.

Merrill was inspired to write the song as a reaction to the Rolling Stones’ single “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It).” “I’d met Mick Jagger socially a few times, and I knew he was hanging around with Prince Rupert Lowenstein and people like that — jet setters,” Merrill told songfacts.com. “I almost felt like ‘It’s Only Rock and Roll’ was an apology to those jet-set princes and princesses that he was hanging around with — the aristocracy, you know. That was my interpretation as a young man: Okay, I love rock and roll.”

Merrill also played with Rick Derringer and Meatloaf as well as pursuing a solo career.

The musician’s death was announced by his daughter Laura on Facebook.

“The Coronavirus took my father this morning,” she wrote on Sunday. “I was given 2 minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out. He seemed peaceful and as I left there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right hand side of the CNN/Fox news screen. I walked 50 blocks home still with hope in my heart. The city that I knew was empty. I felt I was the only person here and perhaps in many ways I was. By the time I got in the doors to my apartment I received the news that he was gone.”

Joan Jett has paid tribute to Merrill on Twitter.

“I’ve just learned of the awful news that Alan Merrill has passed,” she wrote. “My thoughts and love go to his family, friends and music community as a whole. I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me. With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side.”

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Oh no!! Get well soon, Mr. Prine!!

Singer-Songwriter John Prine Hospitalized in Critical Condition with Coronavirus Symptoms

Singer-songwriter John Prine may have contracted the coronavirus. According to a message posted by the Prine family on his official social media accounts, the 73-year-old is in critical condition with symptoms synonymous with the current health crisis.

“After a sudden onset of Covid-19 symptoms, John was hospitalized on Thursday (3/26),” explains the message. “He was intubated Saturday evening, and continues to receive care, but his situation is critical. This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and John loves you.”

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Just so you know: The quality we pay for is going down, the companies will be saving money and not passing the savings along, and eventually the prices we pay will go up.

Netflix, Bell Media reduce video quality to lower internet bandwidth use

Netflix is lowering video quality for its subscribers in Canada as it attempts to reduce soaring demands on internet bandwidth in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The streaming giant says it introduced changes on Thursday that are designed to slash its data traffic by 25 per cent, as internet service providers deal with a surge in user activity.

The lower bandwidth streams of Netflix programs should still deliver the usual quality of each plan, the company said, whether it’s ultra-high definition 4K, high-definition or standard definition.

“We believe that this will provide significant relief to congested networks and will be deploying it in Canada for the next 30 days,” said Ken Florance, vice-president of content delivery, in a statement on Thursday.

The move comes as telecom companies are seeing a rise in bandwidth usage while Canadians self-isolate at home and use video-streaming services more frequently than usual.

Bell Media said it’s planning its own traffic measures for its Crave streaming service, which offers programming from HBO and Showtime. The telecommunication company’s quality reductions may downgrade higher-definition streams even more than Netflix.

“Crave does plan to temporarily reduce the quality of streams on certain devices,” the company said in a statement late Thursday.

The Crave 1080p and 4K streams will be reduced to 720p on Android mobile devices, Chromecast and Apple products, including its Apple TV devices, it noted.

Netflix previously introduced bandwidth measures in other parts of the world over the past two weeks. Similar reductions in video quality were made in Europe, India, Australia, New Zealand and some Latin American countries.

In a blog post last week, Florance explained that Netflix has many different levels of streaming quality for each title within each resolution tier. With the changes, Netflix is simply removing the highest bandwidth streams, which lowers the bitrate per second on the streams, he said.

“If you are particularly tuned into video quality, you may notice a very slight decrease in quality within each resolution. But you will still get the video quality you paid for,” Florance wrote at the time.

“We are living through a global crisis, and we all have a responsibility to help where we can,” he added.

Other streaming companies have made changes in certain regions to limit bandwidth.

YouTube announced similar moves to ease the pressures on internet traffic earlier this week, while Disney Plus and Amazon’s Prime Video have enacted bandwidth measures in Europe.

Disney told CBC News it is lowering its overall bandwidth utilization by at least 25 per cent throughout Canada as a proactive measure.

“We are monitoring Internet congestion and working closely with Internet service providers to further reduce bitrates as necessary to ensure they are not overwhelmed by consumer demand,” Disney said in a statement.

Representatives for Amazon did not immediately provide comment.

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Good luck everyone!!!

2020 Emmy Awards still set for September despite coronavirus

The Television Academy is adjusting the eligibility and voting deadlines for this year’s Primetime Emmy calendar in response to concerns made by TV communication executives and awards strategists in the current coronavirus climate.

The dates for the Creative Emmy Awards and Primetime Emmy shows remain unchanged respectively on Sept. 12 to 13 and Sept. 20, and will only be moved should state and national safety directives deem them to be, should the coronavirus worsen.

This morning’s big changes involve the entry deadline moving close to four weeks from May 11 to June 5, and the Phase one voting period jumping from June 15 to 29 to July 2 to 13 with the new nominations announcement date being July 28 instead of July 14. The Phase one period thus shrinks from 15 days to 12 days.

Phase 2 voting, which was originally set for Aug. 17 to 31, will start slightly later, and shave off four days, now occurring between Aug. 21 to 31.

Also being extended is the eligibility date for hanging episodes for regular series and limited series, as the TV Academy takes into account production and programming delays. Now, all hanging episodes must broadcast or post on an accessible platform by June 30, instead of May 31. Both regular and limited series must still premiere by the end of this year’s eligibility date which remains May 31. A minimum of six episodes continues to be required for a show to be qualified in the series category. A limited series in its entirety must air or post on a platform before June 30, and if it doesn’t, then the limited series will qualify in the 2020-2021 Emmy year.

Meanwhile, all TV Academy FYC events “whether with a live audience, streaming or recorded for posting on a viewing platform” per the org remain suspended for the current Emmy season.

In recent weeks, the TV Academy appeared to be standing firm on their original voting and eligibility dates. However, TV publicists and Emmy campaign strategists reportedly voiced their reservations about promoting too heavily and too soon, thus wanting to exercise a greater degree of sensitivity in a spring that’s been rocked by COVID-19: Many productions have shut down, leaving many out of work, and the whole atmosphere across the nation is rather dour as we all self-quarantine. Emmy season has traditionally been decked with glam marketing, billboards, food trucks, stunt events, big DVD boxes and soirées. Earlier this year, to tame some of that, the TV Academy banned DVD mailers to voters, and in doing so, favored online screeners. The hope here with the TV Academy’s tweaking of the FYC calendar is that we’ll be on the other side of the curve in regards to the coronavirus, and in a lighter-spirited environment. Between the entertainment capitals, New York City currently counts 23K COVID-19 cases (and 365 deaths as of yesterday) while Los Angeles counts 1,2K cases (and 21 deaths) according to reports.

Still, this Emmy season has forced a lot of campaigners to continually re-think their plans. Screenings, Q&As, and pop-up hubs like those previously hosted by Amazon and Netflix are expected to be near-extinct in addition to a broad billboard presence of shows with few cars on the road. According to sources, the expectation is that networks and streamers will relegate their Emmy campaigning to digital, TV, and radio.

And the lengthening of the hangover episode deadlines? Will that new grace period now benefit FX’s season 4 of limited series “Fargo,” HBO’s “Undoing” or other shows? That’s hard to predict at this point in time as we don’t know how fast the current COVID-19 climate will quell, and how feasibly episodic production will resume. “Fargo” has two more episodes to shoot out of its ten order, with FX already pushing the premiere of the multi-Emmy winning limited series from April 19 to later this year. Yesterday, HBO released the following statement “In light of current events, HBO’s six-part limited series ‘The Undoing,’ will now debut this fall” instead of May 10. Meanwhile, National Geographic’s “Genius: Aretha” halted production, with its May 25 premiere date in limbo.

In regards to the Creative Emmys and Primetime ceremonies, the TV Academy also mentioned today that together with ABC, they’ll be monitoring the recommendations from the CDC and the L.A. County Department of Health when it comes to the coronavirus and whether they should delay both shows or not.