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I would’ve gone to see AD ASTRA this weekend, but I went for a hike on the last weekend of Summer. Maybe I’ll go next week.

Downton Abbey proves enduring popularity with $31 million debut at the box office

Violet (Maggie Smith) may never ask “What is a weekend?” again considering the Downton Abbey movie just won it.

Exceeding expectations, Downton Abbey opened to $31 million, proving a healthy appetite for the historical series, co-produced by ITV and PBS, which ended its television run in 2016. The film, which follows the excitement of a royal visit to Downton, posted one of the biggest openings ever for a TV to big-screen adaptation, excluding major franchises like Mission Impossible and Star Trek.

It’s a good weekend for new releases in general with the top three slots at the box office dominated by new titles. Brad Pitt continues his starry summer with a $19.2 million second-place opening for space epic Ad Astra. A more tried and trued title takes third place with Sylvester Stallone’s end to the Rambo franchise Rambo: Last Blood taking in an estimated $19 million in ticket sales.

Rumors of a Downton Abbey film persisted before the series even concluded its very popular run in 2016, and the film hit U.S. theaters with heavy anticipation after already running overseas in the U.K. market for a week. Written by series creator Julian Fellowes, it reunites the bulk of its original cast members, including Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Allen Leech, and Elizabeth McGovern for a continuation of the story of the Crawley family and their servants. A royal visit throws the household into chaos as everyone struggles to prepare for the King and Queen, whilst dealing with unexpected romance, assassination plots, and more.

Directed by frequent series helmer Michael Engler, Downton Abbey beat the odds to win the weekend and proved its enduring popularity. The debut marks the biggest opening weekend ever for speciality distributor Focus Features. Producers have suggested that the possibility of a sequel hinged on the film’s success in the North American market, and these returns are a solid argument for more Downton. The film has earned solid reviews, but most importantly, it’s clearly resonating with fans, garnering a sterling A CinemaScore.

While a passel of British TV stars took the top spot, one of America’s biggest movie stars lays claim to second place. After a stellar summer with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Brad Pitt is kicking off an interstellar fall with Ad Astra. The movie star plays astronaut Roy McBride, who travels to the outer reaches of space to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens our planet. Directed by James Gray, the film also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland, and Ruth Negga.

Pitt is already earning Oscar buzz for the role (as well as his Once Upon a Time in Hollywood performance). With $19.2 million, it’s far from his best opening of all time — it’s in 18th place behind 2011’s Moneyball. Ad Astra slightly exceeded expectations, especially given that its release has been delayed several times. Audiences didn’t love it, giving it a mediocre B- CinemaScore.

Sylvester Stallone has a habit of making good at the box office with enduring franchises, and he’s saying goodbye to the franchise that made him an international action star. Rambo: Last Blood is set to be the final title in the Rambo franchise, and its $19 million third-place opening is on track with the previous 2008 installment, Rambo, which opened to $18.2 million.

The 73-year-old Stallone returns as Rambo, who finds himself facing off against one of Mexico’s most violent cartels when the daughter of one of his friends is kidnapped. Directed by Adrian Grunberg, it also stars Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Oscar Jaenada, Joaquin Cosio, Adriana Barraza, Yvette Monreal, and Genie Kim. Fans gave it a middling B CinemaScore.

Other September success stories round out the top five. It: Chapter Two takes fourth place in its third weekend of release with an estimated $17.2 million in ticket sales. Last weekend’s buzzy female driven flick Hustlers drops to fifth place with an estimated additional $17 million in ticket sales added to its cumulative gross. In just 10 days, Hustlers has grossed $62.6 million domestically, over three times its $20 million production budget.

Overall box office is down 5.2 percent to date, according to Comscore, a steadily improving number buoyed by the success of three new releases this weekend. Check out the Sept. 20-22 numbers below.

1. Downton Abbey— $31 million
2. Ad Astra— $19.2 million
3. Rambo: Last Blood— $19 million
4. It: Chapter Two— $17.2 million
5. Hustlers— $17 million
6. The Lion King— $2.6 million
7. Good Boys— $2.5 million
8. Angel Has Fallen— $2.4 million
9. Overcomer— $1.5 million
10. Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw — $1.5 million

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Nope…nothing to see at the theatres right now!!

Hustlers earns Jennifer Lopez a career high opening with $33.2 million debut

Hustlers has danced its way to a massive second-place opening weekend.

The STXfilms release exceeded expectations to open to an estimated $33.2 million across 3,250 theaters. Hustlers marks career highs for both of its leading ladies, Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. This is Lopez’s best live-action opening ever, coming in at over $10 million ahead of her previous record-holder 2005’s Monster-in-Law. Newer box office draw Wu also earned her biggest opening weekend ever with Hustlers beating the $26.5 million debut of Crazy Rich Asians.

While Hustlers is the weekend’s best success story, It: Chapter Two continues to scare up impressive returns, taking first place for the second weekend running with an estimated $40.7 million across 4,570 theaters. The horror sequel also expanded in international markets, bringing its estimated global total to $323.3 million. Angel Has Fallen secures the third-place spot in its fourth week of release with an estimated $4.4 million in ticket sales.

Hustlers, which is based on a New York Magazine article follows a band of former strippers, led by Lopez’s Ramona, who come together to turn the tables on their Wall Street Clients. In addition to Lopez and Wu’s buzzy leading roles, the film also stars Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, and features memorable appearances from Cardi B, Lizzo, and Usher. Lorene Scafaria (The Meddler) writes and directs. It marked the biggest opening ever for the relatively new STX Entertainment.

The film is a testament to the power of women at the box office (and behind-the-scenes given it was written, directed, and produced by women). STX reports that the opening weekend audience was 67 percent female and 69 percent of the film’s audience was over the age of 25. With its diverse cast, the film also resonated with a wide audience, bringing in a crowd that was 36 percent Caucasian, 26 percent African-American, 27 percent Hispanic, 9 percent Asian and 3 percent Native American or other ethnicities. Time and again, Hollywood likes to trot out the argument that diverse, female-driven films don’t make money, but Hustlers stands as proof to the contrary with glowing reviews to match.

This weekend’s other big opening The Goldfinch is the opposite of a success story. Based on the Pulitzer-prize winning novel by Donna Tartt, the film opened in eighth place with an estimated $2.6 million in ticket sales across 2,542 theaters. It marks one of the worst openings of all time, given that it’s the sixth-worst debut ever for a film launching in over 2,500 theaters.

The Goldfinch, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (as did Hustlers), follows the tale of a 13-year-old boy into early adulthood after he survives a terrorist bombing that kills his mother. The boy finds solace in a painting he finds amid the destruction at an art museum, sending him on a dangerous journey that parallels his growing up. Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, Denis O’Hare, and Finn Wolfhard star in the film directed by John Crowley (Brooklyn).

Undoubtedly, The Goldfinch was hurt by scathing reviews, though, strangely, it did earn a higher CinemaScore than Hustlers, clocking in with a B to Hustlers B-.

Though it’s fallen from the top 10, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood continues to make box office news. The ninth film from Quentin Tarantino is now his second highest performing title behind Django Unchained. It hit $329.4 million at the global box office this weekend to surpass 2009’s Inglourious Basterds.

Holdovers round out the top five with Good Boys and The Lion King continuing to pull in impressive returns. In its fifth weekend, original comedy Good Boys lands in fourth place with an estimated $4.3 million in ticket sales. Disney’s The Lion King continues to be one of the biggest success stories of the year, taking fifth place with an estimated $3.5 million in ticket sales in its ninth weekend of release.

Overall box office is down 5.7 percent to date, according to Comscore, a nice improvement following a slow summer. Check out the Sept. 13-15 numbers below.

1. It Chapter Two— $40.7 million
2. Hustlers— $33.2 million
3. Angel Has Fallen— $4.4 million
4. Good Boys— $4.3 million
5. The Lion King— $3.5 million
6. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw— $2.8 million
7. Overcomer— $2.7 million
8. The Goldfinch— $2.6 million
9. The Peanut Butter Falcon— $1.9 million
10. Dora and the Lost City of Gold — $1.9 million

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I am speechless about this shocking, sad news. May he Rest In Peace.

Ric Ocasek, Cars Singer Who Fused Pop and New Wave, Dead at 75

Ric Ocasek, the idiosyncratic singer and guitarist for the Cars and hit-making album producer, died on Sunday in his New York City apartment. He was 75. A rep for the NYPD confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone.

At approximately 3 p.m. ET, police officers responded to a 911 call at Ocasek’s home at 140 E. 19th Street, the rep said. Officers discovered Ocasek unconscious and unresponsive. He was later pronounced dead at the scene, though no cause of death has been revealed. A rep for the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Beginning with the Cars self-titled debut in 1978, Ocasek established himself as a stoic frontman with a sense of humor and melodrama on songs like “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” and “Good Times Roll.” As a member of the Cars, Ocasek helped kickstart the new-wave movement by pinning his disaffected vocals against herky-jerky rhythm guitar, dense keyboards and dancefloor-ready beats, and as one of the group’s lead vocalists, alongside bassist Benjamin Orr, he sang the hits “Shake It Up” and “You Might Think.” With the exception of only a couple of songs, Ocasek wrote every tune the Cars recorded. After the band broke up in 1988, Ocasek recorded as a solo artist and worked as a producer, helping sculpt blockbuster hits like Weezer’s Blue Album and Green Album and cult favorites like Bad Brains’ Rock for Light.

casek was born to a Polish Catholic family in Baltimore. His father was a computer systems analyst, and he was sent to a parochial elementary school, where he was kicked out in the fifth grade. He told Rolling Stone in a 1979 profile that he couldn’t remember why he’d been expelled, though he said he aspired to be what he called a “drake,” a tough kid. He fell in love with the Crickets’ “That’ll Be the Day” when he was 10, prompting his grandmother to give him a guitar, though he didn’t take to it immediately. He became a rebel in his teen years, running away for weeks at a time to the beach town of Ocean City, Maryland.

His family relocated to Cleveland when he was 16, and he decided to shape up and get good grades so he could attend a good college, but he ended up dropping out anyway and became interested again in guitar. This time it stuck, and he started writing tunes regularly. “After I started writing songs, I figured it would be good to start a band,” he told Rolling Stone. “Sometimes I’d put together a band just to hear my songs. If a person couldn’t play that well, there’d be fewer outside ideas to incorporate.” One of the musicians Ocasek drafted was Benjamin Orzechowski (later changing his last name to Orr); he helped record one of the demos.

Ocasek and Orr relocated to New York City, Woodstock and Ann Arbor, Michigan, singing Buddy Holly songs as a duo or playing hard rock so they could open for the MC5. Eventually, they settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts and formed a folk trio called Milkwood, releasing an album in 1972. They both struggled financially — Ocasek worked in clothing stores to keep his family fed — and eventually they met the musicians who would form the rest of the Cars and the group gelled in the winter of 1976. Ocasek wrote all the songs and acted as a benevolent dictator.

“The way it worked was, it would either be on a cassette, or Ric would pick up his guitar and perform the song for us,” Cars guitarist Elliott Easton told Rolling Stone. “We’d all watch his hands and listen to the lyrics and talk about it. We knew enough about music, so we just built the songs up. When there was a space for a hook or a line — or a sinker — we put it in.”

The Cars’ self-titled album, which Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker helmed, came out on June 6th, 1978 and became a Top 20 hit in the U.S. It was later certified sextuple platinum on the strength of the hits “Just What I Needed” (sung by Orr), “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and “Good Times Roll.” The record is also home to a couple of songs that became hits later, including “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” and (with some thanks due to it soundtracking a pivotal scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High), “Moving in Stereo.”

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Very cool!!

Bradley Whitford Wins 2019 Guest Drama Actor Emmy

Bradley Whitford won the 2019 guest drama actor Emmy for his role of Commander Joseph Lawrence on Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Whitford joined the cast of the streaming dystopian series at the end of its second season, in episodes that were released after the close of the 2018 Emmy eligibility window. The Television Academy agreed they could be submitted this year, and that decision now sees him picking up his third total trophy from the group. He previously won the supporting drama actor statue in 2001 for his work on “The West Wing” and the guest comedy actor one in 2015 for his turn on “Transparent.”

He was nominated alongside Michael McKean (“Better Call Saul”), Kumail Nanjiani (“The Twilight Zone”), Glynn Turman (“How To Get Away With Murder”) and both Michael Angarano and Ron Cephas Jones from “This Is Us.”

Whitford also made Emmy history by becoming the first performer to have won the guest actor Emmy for both comedy and drama, having previously won in comedy for “Transparent.” “It’s an honor to do that, it means a lot,” he said backstage.

Whitford gave off a long-list of thank yous and noted: “Award shows are not arenas of justice. We know that because the Hot Priest did not get nominated,” he said, citing the popular “Fleabag” character.

“I want to thank Margaret Atwood for giving us perspective in this disorienting moment as we are inundated and undermined by a misogynistic, radical, right-wing ideology.

“Despair is not an option. Our children can’t afford it. Action is the antidote to despair. Our future is an act of our creation.”

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The Simpsons Win Again!!! Plus, even though Bruce Didn’t Win, Springsteen On Broadway did!!!

Creative Arts Emmys: ‘Free Solo,’ ‘Queer Eye’ Among Big Winners on Night One

“Free Solo,” “Queer Eye,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Saturday Night Live” were among the big winners Saturday after the first night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

“Free Solo,” the National Geographic feature documentary that already claimed the Oscar earlier this year, lead the field on the night largely devoted to unscripted programming with seven big wins. On Sunday, the remaining Creative Arts Emmys will be handed out for shows largely in the scripted genre.

RuPaul earned his fourth consecutive trophy as reality host for his work out front on VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Netflix’s “Queer Eye” nabbed four wins, including its second consecutive trophy for structured reality program. “The Simpsons” added more hardware to its trophy case with the win for animated program. And the late Anthony Bourdain earned two more Emmys for his CNN series “Parts Unknown,” which won for informational series and also for writing.

TV legend Norman Lear picked up another Emmy, a win that makes him the oldest person to win an Emmy (at 97) in the variety special (live) category for ABC’s “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” special featuring new stagings of episodes from “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” produced by Jimmy Kimmel. Lear wasn’t the only nonagenarian to pick up a win on Saturday; Sir David Attenborough, 93, won for narration for Netflix’s “Our Planet.”

When pressed backstage about the live special connected with such a large audience, Lear said that the family and relationship subjects that he probed in the 1970s are still relevant today. “The shows reflect our common humanity. And that hasn’t changed. We are as misguided today as we were then in certain ways,” Lear said.

“Carpool Karaoke” had a good night, winning short form variety series for the Apple incarnation of the franchise that began on CBS’ “The Late Late Show with James Corden.” Last year, Corden delivered a special extra-long edition with Paul McCartney” that became an hourlong CBS primetime special “Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney Live From Liverpool,” which took home the win for variety special (recorded).

Corden was effusive backstage about the privilege of working in American television in a big way, as he has since landing on “Late Late Show” in 2015. “We just want to be a place people go to have a really nice time before or, let’s be honest, while they fall asleep,” Corden said of the show.

CNN’s “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” prevailed once again for unstructured reality program, picking up its third consecutive trophy. Bell used his moment on stage to call on the industry to embrace diversity and inclusion at every level of the industry.

“I’ve thanked my wife and my kids and the people I work with enough,” Bell told reporters backstage. “I not only have to call my team out, but I have to call the industry out. I feel like if I’m going to be about it I have to talk about it.”

Fox’s staging of “Rent” earned two trophies, for lighting design and production design.

HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” documentary was recognized for documentary special. CNN’s “RBG” and HBO’s “The Sentence” earned exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking honors.

Among networks, Netflix emerged with 15 wins (including a number of animation wins that were previously announced), followed by National Geographic with eight; CNN and NBC with five apiece; and Fox, HBO and YouTube with four apiece.

Saturday’s full list of winners:

Variety special (live): “Live In Front Of A Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All In The Family’ And ‘The Jeffersons’” (ABC)

Variety special (pre-recorded): “Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney Live From Liverpool” (CBS)

Choreography for variety or reality programming: Tessandra Chavez, “World of Dance” (NBC)

Production design for a variety special: “Rent” (Fox)

Production design for a variety, reality or competition series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Structured reality program: “Queer Eye” (Netflix)

Short form variety series: “Carpool Karaoke: the Series” (Apple)

Short form animated program: “Love, Death & Robots” (Netflix)

Picture editing for a nonfiction program: Bob Eisenhardt, “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Narrator: Sir David Attenborough, “Our Planet” (Netflix)

Music composition for a documentary series or special (original dramatic score): Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts, “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Music direction: Alex Lacamoire, “Fosse/Verdon” (FX)

Original music and lyrics: Adam Schlesinger, Rachel Bloom, Jack Dolgen, “Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (CW)

Creative achievement in interactive media within an unscripted program: “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Interactive program: “NASA and SpaceX: The Interactive Demo-1 Launch” (YouTube)

Technical direction, camerawork, video control for a special: “Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2019” (CBS)

Technical direction, camerawork, video control for a series: “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” (HBO)

Short form nonfiction or reality series: “Creating Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Writing for a variety special: Hannah Gadsby, “Nanette” (Netflix)

Writing for a nonfiction program: Anthony Bourdain, “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown” (CNN)

Motion design: “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” (Netflix)

Exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking: (tie) “RBG” (CNN); “The Sentence” (HBO)

Informational series or special: “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown” (CNN)

Documentary or nonfiction special: “Leaving Neverland” (HBO)

Documentary or nonfiction series: “Our Planet” (Netflix)

Makeup for a multi-camera series or special (non-prosthetic): “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Hairstyling for a multi-camera series or special: Hector Pocasangre, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)

Costumes for variety, nonfiction or reality programming: Zaldy Goco, Art Conn, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)

Directing for a reality program: Hisham Abed, “Queer Eye” (Netflix)

Casting for a reality program: “Queer Eye” (Netflix)

Directing for a documentary/nonfiction program: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Directing for a variety special: Thom Zimny, “Springsteen on Broadway” (Netflix)

Animated program: “The Simpsons” (Fox)

Character voice-over performance: Seth MacFarlane, “Family Guy” (Fox)

Picture editing for variety programming: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)

PIcture editing for an unstructured reality program: “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” (CNN)

Picture editing for a structured reality or competition program: “Queer Eye” (Netflix)

Sound mixing for a variety series or special: “Aretha! A Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul” (CBS)

Sound mixing for a nonfiction program (single or multi-camera): “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Sound editing for a nonfiction program (single or multi-camera): “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Lighting design/direction for a variety special: “Rent” (Fox)

Lighting design/direction for a variety series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Host for a reality or competition program: RuPaul, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)

Unstructured reality program: “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” (CNN)

Cinematography for a nonfiction program: “Free Solo” (National Geographic TV)

Cinematography for a reality program: “Life Below Zero” (National Geographic TV)

Saturday’s award categories are primarily for unscripted programs: reality, variety special, documentaries, animated program and short form animation, choreography for variety or reality programs, and interactive program.

Sunday’s awards will focus on scripted programs: short form drama and comedy series, casting, cinematography, and guest performers in comedy and drama series.

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Congratulations, Mr. Lear!!

Norman Lear Breaks an Emmy Record, Becomes the Oldest Winner Ever

Norman Lear was already one of the most-honored people in television history, but now he has another distinction to add to his long career: At 97 years and 49 days, he’s the oldest person ever to win an Emmy Award.

Asked about the achievement, he said backstage at the Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday: “I don’t think about it a lot,” and quipped, “I like waking up in the morning.”

Lear set the record on Saturday as one of the producers of “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons.’” The ABC program, which included live performances of episodes from two of Lear’s seminal 1970s comedies, won in the Outstanding Variety Special (Live) category.

Jimmy Kimmel, who produced the show with Lear, was asked what it was like to make a show with the TV legend.

“It’s the greatest thing you could ever imagine. It’s like dancing with Fred Astaire,” Kimmel said.

“That makes me Ginger Rogers,” Lear quipped.

Lear and Kimmel also announced that they are planning another live special later in the year, but declined to provide details.

Lear was also asked how he had written to many African American characters embraced by black viewers, especially on “The Jeffersons.” He had another quick joke: “Evidently you haven’t noticed that I’m black.”

He went on to add that he tries to focus on the universal similarities between all people.

The previous record-holder as the oldest winner was David Attenborough, who set a new record on Saturday night about half an hour before Lear won. Attenborough, who is 93, won for narrating “Our Planet.”

With his nomination for “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” Lear had already topped Carl Reiner to become the oldest Emmy nominee ever.

Lear’s win comes 48 years after he won the Emmy in the Outstanding Series – Comedy category for “All in the Family.” He would go on to win four Emmys for that show, and to be inducted into the Emmy Hall of Fame in 1984. He has also won two Peabody Awards, the Kennedy Center Honor, the Woody Guthrie Prize and the National Medal of Arts.

The award was announced at Saturday’s Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony, the first of two non-televised ceremonies that will precede the Sept. 22 Primetime Emmy Awards telecast. The ceremony took place at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

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I will listen to and love his music as long as I live. It truly is classic rock.

Baby Hold On: Why Eddie Money Was the Patron Saint of Rock Uncool

As he himself would have admitted, Eddie Money was no one’s idea of a conventional rock star. His stage moves were always a little gawky and spasmodic, his borderline hoarse voice in need of a lozenge or two. Emerging during the punk era though never part of it, he preferred the stadium-friendly shout-along choruses of mainstream rock and adopted the suit-and-tie New Wave look while keeping his hair unfashionably long. He was even an NYPD cop — a career move that, while utterly honorable, didn’t jibe with the traditional, anti-establishment rock & roll handbook.

For decades, we’ve been taught that pop stars, especially rock stars, are supposed to embody a certain type of cool. But the accidental genius of Money, who died Friday of heart valve complications at 70, was that he almost never was. Throughout pretty much his entire career, he was rock’s endearing every-palooka, a clumsy, somewhat overwrought guy who was one of rock’s most relatable acts and, during a 45-year career, stumbled onto some of the most enduring radio hits of his era.

From the start, Money seemed out of step. His first album arrived in 1977, the same year that gave us the debuts of the Clash and Elvis Costello, yet Money preferred his rock & roll almost proudly, unabashedly generic. This was the dawn of what came to be known as corporate rock, and so many of Money’s early hits, like “Baby Hold On,” “Gimme Some Water” (“cause I shot a man on the Mexican border”?), and especially “Two Tickets to Paradise,” conformed to many of that genre’s trademarks: big, brawny guitars, a certain vacuum-sealed sound, the music-school guitar solo.

But riding over all of it was that husky, immediately recognizable voice. Money threw himself into songs the way he threw himself into stage shows: with a sloppy passion. Rock lyrics don’t get any more generic than those in the frisky “Think I’m in Love” or his first hit “Baby Hold On” — “the future is ours to see/when you hold on to me” — but Money sang them, and other songs, as if he believed fully in every single word and that his life depended on conveying them with as much intensity as he could.

This was also the era of the pillow-soft sound now called Yacht Rock, a fairly loathsome term dripping with ironic appreciation for the likes of Christopher Cross and Rupert Holmes. But again, Money was never quite right for that moment, either. Hardly a suave crooner, he stood in for every person who was all sputtery emotions, bereft of the polished or articulate gene. As seen repeatedly in his videos, he couldn’t quite pull off the glam-sultry look either, even when he was pretending to be a vampire (“Think I’m in Love”).

Five minutes of bleating desperation, “Take Me Home Tonight,” the 1986 hit that put him back on the charts after a dry spell, remains a wondrous record. As always, he sang it as if his world was falling apart and there was nothing he could do about it — a tension only released when Ronnie Spector emerged to pay homage to her Ronettes hit “Be My Baby” in what may have been the first “live sample” in pop, not cribbing from an old record but actually using the original singer to recreate the part.

That song inaugurated what was Money’s golden era. It’s hard to think of any other Seventies rocker who adapted so well to the sound of the following decade, but Money and his various producers and co-songwriters managed to modernize him while never forgetting his big, over-the-top emotions. “I Wanna Go Back” hit the rock-klutz paydirt, as did “We Should Be Sleeping.” There was nothing remotely subtle about any of those songs or their arrangements, but Money made you root for him, especially since so many of his songs amounted to confessions about how much he’d screwed up in one way or another. And while Money’s discography isn’t exactly filled with buried treasures, plenty of deep cuts are worthy revisiting: the punchy “Trinidad” (especially the live, acoustic version on his Unplug It In EP) and “Another Nice Day in L.A.,” co-written with original Heartbreakers drummer Stan Lynch.

Then there’s “Walk on Water,” which may well be his masterpiece. Again, it’s laden with every sonic bell and whistle from the Eighties: the amped-synth arrangement, the chanting “na-na-na-na” chorus, the extremely intrusive drums. But even as it elbows its way into the room or the radio, it’s an undeniably poignant song. When he hits the word “believe” in the chorus (“If I could walk on water/would you … believe in me … my love is so true!”), he sounds so desperate to save another failed relationship that you can’t help but side with him. Pop was growing increasingly mechanized, but Money, in his heartfelt, let-it-hang-out way, raged against the machine.

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May He Rest In Peace.

Eddie Money, veteran rock singer dead at 70

Eddie Money the veteran rock musician best known for hits including Baby Hold On”, “Two Tickets to Paradise”, and “Take Me Home Tonight”, has died at the age of 70.

Last month, Money revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. Money “passed away peacefully early this morning (September 13th),” according to a statement from his family.
“It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our loving husband and father. We cannot imagine our world without him,” the statement adds. “We are grateful that he will live on forever through his music.”

A frequent presence on rock radio throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Money had 11 Top 40 hits to his name. His first two singles, “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise”, each cracked the top 25 in 1978. A year later, he dropped “Maybe I’m a Fool”, which peaked at No. 22.

Money’s dominance continued into the 1980s with songs like “Think I’m in Love”, “Walk on Water”, and “Take Me Home Tonight”. The latter, a duet with Ronnie Spektor, proved to be his most successful single, hitting No. 1 on the US rock charts and earning him a Grammy nomination for Best Male Rock Performance.

Since 2018, Money and his family were the subject of a reality TV series called Real Money on AXS TV. Money revealed his cancer diagnosis in a recent episode of the show. “I thought I was going in for a check-up and [the doctor] told me I have cancer,” he explained. “We found out that I had cancer and that it was stage 4 and that it was in my liver and my lymph nodes and a little bit in my stomach… It hit me really, really hard.”

“What I don’t want to do is I don’t want to keep the fact that I have cancer from everybody,” Money added. “It’s not honest. I want to be honest with everybody. I want people to know that cancer [treatment] has come a long way and not everybody dies from cancer like they did in the Fifties and Sixties. Am I going to live a long time? Who knows? It’s in God’s hands.”

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Sadly, IT: CHAPTER TWO is a less than engaging sequel to an amazing film. I was quite bored at times. Hopefully CHAPTER THREE will be as entertaining as CHAPTER ONE was…and it was entertaining!!

It: Chapter Two scares up massive $91 million opening weekend

You’ll float to the top of the box office too.

It: Chapter Two has scored an estimated $91 million opening weekend, making it the second-highest opening from a horror movie ever behind the first film, 2017’s It. The flick also boasts the highest R-rated debut of the year ahead of other box office winners like Us and Good Boys. It: Chapter Two marked the only buzzy new release of the weekend (and the only one to crack the top 10), while holdovers dominated the rest of the box office chart.

Two-time box office winner Angel Has Fallen falls to second place with an estimated $6 million in ticket sales in its third weekend of release. Third place goes to Universal comedy Good Boys, which boasts an estimated $5.4 million in ticket sales across 3,193 theaters.

It: Chapter Two is a box office victory for Warner Bros. despite not managing to match the opening numbers of 2017’s It, which opened to $123.4 million back in 2017. Still, as the second biggest horror debut ever, the second-biggest September debut ever (also behind It), and the best R-rating opening of the year, the film has plenty to celebrate.

The horror sequel follows the grown-up versions of the Losers Club, reunited 27 years after they first battled terrifying clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). It marks the conclusion of a two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s beloved novel It. This follow-up boasts an impressive cast, including James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, and stand-outs James Ransone and Jay Ryan. Original cast members from the younger iterations of the Losers Club, including Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Jaedan Martell also return to reprise their roles. Andy Muschietti, who directed the first hit installment, also returns to helm the film.

It: Chapter Two also performed well overseas, resulting in a global opening total of $185 million. The sequel isn’t earning quite the same love as its predecessor, garnering middling reviews and a fair B+ CinemaScore. It’s lower opening numbers might be in part thanks to its running time — at two hours and 49 minutes, it’s 35 minutes longer than the first film. As the widest release of September in 4,570 theaters and the only major studio release of the weekend, it easily floated to the top spot and kicked off the month with a scary good return after a lackluster August at the movies.

Summer box office winners continue to round out the rest of the returns as we prepare to kick into high-gear of fall movie season. Disney’s The Lion King is still in the top five after 8 weeks in theaters. It claims the fourth spot with an estimated $4.2 million in ticket sales across 2,610 theaters. It’s now up to $1.6 billion globally and holding steady as the seventh highest-grossing film of all time. Faith-based flick Overcomer scores the fifth-place spot again in its third week of release with an estimated $3.8 million in ticket sales.

Overall box office is down 6.1 percent to date, according to Comscore, a slight improvement thanks to a bump from It: Chapter Two’s impressive debut. Check out the Sept. 6-8 numbers below.

1. It: Chapter Two— $91 million
2. Angel Has Fallen— $6 million
3. Good Boys— $5.4 million
4. The Lion King— $4.2 million
5. Overcomer— $3.8 million
6. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw— $3.7 million
7. Peanut Butter Falcon— $2.3 million
8. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark— $2.3 million
9. Ready or Not— $2.2 million
10. Dora and the Lost City of Gold — $2.2 million

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No movies in the theatre this weekend – even though they were all priced at $6.99 – I watched The Dark Crystal on Netflix!!

Box Office: ‘Angel Has Fallen’ Sears Competition Over Labor Day Weekend

Lionsgate and Millennium’s “Angel Has Fallen” ruled the box office during an expectedly quiet Labor Day weekend. The third entry in the action franchise generated $11.5 million over the weekend and should close out the holiday with $14.4 million.

Without any new nationwide offerings from a major Hollywood studio, those ticket sales were enough to maintain first place on domestic box office charts. After two weekends in theaters, the Gerard Butler-led “Angel Has Fallen” has earned $43.6 million.

With Labor Day comes the close of summer. The four month stretch between May and August had its share of hits (“The Lion King,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” “Toy Story 4” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to name a few), but overall, popcorn season receipts only came in at $4.3 billion, a 2% decline from last year. That pushed the year-to-date box office down 6.3%, according to Comscore.

Blumhouse Tilt and OTL took on the last weekend of summer with “Don’t Let Go.” However, the supernatural thriller couldn’t crack the top 10 and debuted at No. 14 with $2.4 million from 920 North American theaters. The movie, which is expected to finish the holiday weekend with $3 million, stars David Oyelowo as a detective working to solve the murder of his niece (portrayed by Storm Reid) when he surprisingly gets a phone call from her. “Don’t Let Go” premiered at Sundance under the name “Relive.”

The final movie to launch this summer is Forrest Film’s drama “Bennett’s War,” which is hoping to hit half a million in box office receipts through Monday. Over the weekend, the movie arrived outside of the top 20 on box office charts, collecting $445,151 from 970 locations.

Labor Day weekend isn’t usually a busy time of year for moviegoing, so holdovers including Universal’s “Good Boys” and “Hobbs & Shaw” and Disney’s “The Lion King” rounded out box office charts.

Universal’s “Good Boys” held steady at No. 2, pocketing $9.1 million over the weekend for an estimated $11.5 million Labor Day weekend. After three weeks in theaters, the R-rated comedy has picked up a solid $58 million.

Disney’s “The Lion King” nabbed third place, earning $6.7 million during its seventh outing and eyeing $9.2 million through the four-day weekend. Through Sunday, the photorealistic remake has earned $521 million in North America. “The Lion King” is now the seventh-biggest movie in history with $1.562 billion globally, passing “Furious 7” ($1.516 billion) and “The Avengers ($1.519 billion).

In fourth, Universal’s “Hobbs & Shaw” generated $6.2 million over the weekend and should finish the holiday with $8 million. The “Fast & Furious” spinoff, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, has made $158.86 million at the domestic box office and $684.2 million worldwide.

Sony’s “Overcomer” amassed $5.7 million for a fifth-place finish. The faith-based film looks to end Monday with $7.8 million, which would bring North American ticket sales to $19.4 million.