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What’s on TV Wednesday: A Democratic Debate and ‘Hamlet’

What’s on TV

2020 DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES DEBATE 9 p.m. on MSNBC, NBC and Telemundo. Maybe they’ll blow off steam with a game of baseball afterward. After all, each night of the first presidential debates of the 2020 Democratic primary race carry nine candidates, enough to fill a team. The highest-polling candidate appearing Wednesday, the first night, is Senator Elizabeth Warren. Her opponents in the debate, held in Miami, will include Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey; former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas; and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York. The second debate will air Thursday, also at 9 p.m., on the same networks. It has perhaps the more starry showdown, with a pool that includes former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.; Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California; and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. Three female candidates will appear each night, more than have ever before been on the debate stage at once (the third on Wednesday is Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii).

TRUE JUSTICE: BRYAN STEVENSON’S FIGHT FOR EQUALITY (2019) 8 p.m. on HBO. The human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson is known for representing death-row inmates, and for his recent work in bringing both a national monument to victims of lynching and an accompanying museum of slavery and mass incarceration to Montgomery, Ala. Stevenson’s work to eliminate racial discrimination from the criminal justice system is the subject of this documentary, which profiles him and his career. “When you look at the 13th Amendment, which talks about ending forced labor, it says nothing about ending this narrative of racial differences,” Stevenson said in an interview with The New York Times Magazine this year. “Slavery didn’t end in 1865; it just evolved.”

What’s Streaming

HAMLET Rent on Globe Player. Michelle Terry plays Hamlet in this production of the great tragedy, which ran at Shakespeare’s Globe in London last year and makes the dramatic pursuit of power you’ll see at the presidential debates this week look cordial. You couldn’t ask for a more qualified candidate to play the avenging Danish prince than Terry, a veteran Shakespearean actress and the current artistic director of the Globe. “It’s difficult to imagine a sparkier, more deeply felt Hamlet than she is here,” Matt Wolf wrote in The Times, “her withdrawn, black-clad presence at the start giving way to a jaunty, clownish demeanor that never for a second loses sight of the grieving character’s ‘noble heart.’” “Ophelia,” a riff on Shakespeare with Daisy Ridley that hits movie theaters on Friday, makes this an especially good time for a refresher.

BEATS (2019) Stream on Netflix. A talented teenage producer (Khalil Everage) makes music with a high school security guard played by the “black-ish” star Anthony Anderson in this drama set on Chicago’s South Side. It’s a coming-of-age story with wisdom.

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Kingston announces lineup for Rockin’ the Square 2019

The city of Kingston has announced that the Canadian band Moist, will be playing in Springer Market Square for the city’s annual Rockin’ the Square concert this year.

The free concert will take place Aug. 2, a civic holiday, at 8 p.m. in the city’s main square.

A special guest appearance will be made by Paper Ladies, a local Kingston band and K-Rock 105.7 will be the radio partner for this year’s concert.

Moist was formed in Vancouver, B.C., in the fall of 1992, but bandmates Mark Makoway and Jeff Pearce met at Queen’s University in Kingston prior to forming the group.

Two other band members, Kevin Young and David Usher, also moved from Kingston to Vancouver to go to school.

The first version of Moist was just breaking up when the four decided to do some writing together. In January 1994, they completed their first full-length CD, titled Silver. The album went on to sell 400,000 copies in Canada on the strength of singles like Push, Silver and Believe Me.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of their first album, Usher, Makoway and Young are reuniting with bassist Pearce to tour for the first time since 2013. They will be performing a retrospective selection of hits at Rockin’ the Square.

Kingston’s Paper Ladies include Thomas Drapper on vocals, guitar and synth, and Joe Kenny, on drums and vocals.

Accessible seating will be available and limited lawn chair seating will also be offered. The Utilities Kingston water buggy will be on site, so the city is asking people to bring reusable water bottles.

The free concert will be held rain or shine, so consider the weather when dressing for the occasion.

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This Royal Rule Must Make Family Vacations for Will & Kate Pretty Tricky

Being part of the royal family means living with certain protocol, and the Duchess of Cambridge has adapted to her fair share. The UK’s Express is calling attention to a condition that makes life a bit trickier for the Cambridges — this royal rule means  Kate Middleton can’t travel with Prince William and George at the same time, due to the fact that Kate and William are the future King and Queen consort.

Can you imagine planning a family vacation around that stipulation? To be fair, while it sounds like a logistical nightmare to us mere plebeians, the rule isn’t without merit. As explained by the Express, Kate and Will are parents to the royal monarchies third, fourth and fifth in line to the throne: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, respectively. Since William is second in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles, this royal rule would theoretically safeguard the royal lineage.

“It is believed the tradition dates back to the early days of air travel, when flights weren’t deemed as safe, but the Queen has relaxed the rules in recent years. Monarchs and their heirs were not allowed to make journeys in planes together in case a tragic accident wiped out the royal lineage,” Express elaborated.

If you’re thinking that you’ve seen Will and Kate travel with their kids before, you’re not wrong. The Cambridges have broken the royal tradition in the past — but they won’t be able to pull that off forever. Once Prince George turns 12, he and William will be required to fly separately. Up until then, William will be able to continue asking for special permission from the Queen anytime he wants to travel on the same plane as his eldest son. While it’s unclear if this rule of protection pertains solely to air travel, it reportedly does cover both private air travel and commercial air travel (the latter of which Kate and Will have been known to use).

When the time comes, Will and Kate will likely shift their family travel habits to accommodate this alleged royal rule. After all, unlike sister-in-law Meghan Markle, who is often unfairly lampooned for breaking royal protocol, Kate tends to be praised for her adherence to royal tradition. This includes customs like sitting “like a royal,” dressing modestly, correctly positioning a tiara and entering a room at the proper place in a royal processional.

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Michael Jackson's music can't be erased but we must stop celebrating him

On this day 10 years ago, my hero died. A lifelong Michael Jackson fan, it was a text from a friend that broke the news.

‘Did you see? MJ is dead! Wonder if we’ll get refunds…’ was the gist. A group of us had bought tickets for his upcoming This Is It tour, his big comeback gig at London’s 02 that never happened.

It was meant to be my second time seeing him – back in 1997, my dad finally relented and bought us tickets to his HIStory tour at Wembley Stadium, a night I declared ‘the best of my life’ at school the next day…and every other morning since.

Michael Jackson’s final tour was not meant to be but if anything his death only amplified my adoration for him as I lamented the tragic circumstances and unreleased work the world would now miss out on.

I was, you see, a ‘proper’ fan, not some chancer who knew the chorus to Man in the Mirror or requested Billie Jean on nights out. By 1996, I’d joined his fan club – MJ News International – where I’d found a similarly obsessed pen-pal (hi Fiona from Fife, if you’re reading this).

Each week, we’d send each other excruciatingly-detailed feedback on everything from Jackson’s lyrics and album artwork to our scores on Moonwalker (the Sega game) and musings on his nephews, 3T (remember them?). And when a boy from my after-school drama club was picked to appear alongside Jackson for his infamous 1996 Brit Awards Earth Song performance, we seethed with jealousy together.

The debate of whether Jackson’s music should still be enjoyed, or even played, continues to rage.

Like most MJ fans, I was loyal, too, vehemently defending that Brits performance and cursing Jarvis Cocker for his disrespectful stage invasion.

Year in, year out I’d wearily roll out the ‘he had a tough childhood, guys!’ line when school friends made light of the ever-swirling rumours and truly, I didn’t believe them.

How could I, after growing up on songs that assured fans he’d been slandered and extorted his entire career? Songs like D.S (an attack on attorney Tom Sneddon) and Tabloid Junkie only served to make 11 year old Sophie more resolute in her stance. More recently, I referred naysayers who spoke of ‘no smoke without fire’ to the Cliff Richard police raids with an arrogant confidence that now makes me squirm.

But then came Leaving Neverland, the harrowing documentary from Dan Reed in which Wade Robson and James Safechuck allege they were sexually abused by the popstar as children. At which point it became impossible to conflate my own wilful ignorance with the chilling accounts the men shared.

Knowing how critical it is to support anybody who comes forward with claims of abuse – and without Jackson himself alive to face the music – my only choice was to switch allegiances, and to stand unequivocally behind his accusers. I believe them, and you should too.

Seeing – as an adult, instead of a fuzzy-eyed fan with blinkers on – the long-lasting effects of Jackson’s abuse on these grown men, their wives, children and wider family made any shred of doubt disappear, and an uneasy sense of shame settle in my stomach. It hasn’t really left.

The debate of whether Jackson’s music should still be enjoyed, or even played, continues to rage. It’s a personal choice for us each to wrestle with individually, I think.

Erasing a legacy like Jackson’s is impossible (streaming figures for his songs actually rose after the documentary aired) and how that will play out over the next decade is anyone’s guess.

Can I enjoy his songs in the same way I did before? Truthfully, I don’t know. Even Dangerous (his best album, I always felt) feels sordid and tarnished now, something to sweep – no, shove in a cupboard somewhere, with the rest of my MJ memorabilia.

If Michael Jackson and his music cannot be erased, we can – and should – at least stop celebrating him now. I’m just embarrassed it took me so long.

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Madonna edges out Bruce Springsteen to top US charts

NEW YORK (AFP) – Charting like it is 1985? Legends Madonna and Bruce Springsteen are taking fans on a trip down memory lane, respectively nabbing numbers one and two of the American top album tally.

Madonna’s Madame X struck gold on the Billboard 200 chart, landing the icon her ninth number one album atop the list, which the industry tracker will publish in full on Tuesday (June 25).

Springsteen’s Western Stars raced in at second – marking the first time since 1985 that the Queen of Pop and The Boss are reigning over the album chart together.

For two weeks in January and February of that year, Springsteen’s Born In The USA held the top spot as Madonna’s Like A Virgin came in second, before the seminal albums traded places in the two weeks that followed.

The era saw the two superstars – Madonna is now 60, Springsteen 69 – along with Prince and Michael Jackson usher in the brave new world of MTV, the music video television network that gave albums longer staying power than seen prior.

Though widely panned by critics, Madonna’s latest effort – a mash-up of Latin beats, acoustic ballads and oddly inward-looking reflections on marginalised communities – soared to the top of the charts in part thanks to her bundling strategy.

The sales method is rampant in the industry – with adherents including Taylor Swift and Katy Perry – and pairs albums with performance ticket or merchandise purchases in a bid to bolster sales.

Though the Queen held her own stateside, Springsteen’s dreamy sonic portrait of the American West did beat out Madame X in both Australia and Britain. His second-place finish in the United States marked his 20th top-10 effort there.

The debut success of the musical titans is expected to be short-lived, however, with industry-watchers predicting the future will return next week with genre-bending country rap star Lil Nas X.

The meme king – who catapulted to overnight fame thanks to his wildly successful track Old Town Road – just released his debut project, 7, which includes the aforementioned megahit’s original and Billy Rae Cyrus remix along with a song featuring rap star Cardi B.

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Samuel L. Jackson Calls Out Mistake on 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Poster

A job for the Avengers? Samuel L. Jackson was alerted to a major blunder in a Spider-Man: Far From Home poster that definitely needs to be resolved quickly.

Jackson, 70, shared a confusing shot first spotted by a fan on Instagram of two different posters of the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film that featured his character Nick Fury. However, one of the posters depicted Nick with an eye patch on his right eye instead of his left. (Nick’s injury is supposed to only be on the left eye.)

The Shaft star captioned the confusing post: “Uhhhhhhh, What In The Actual F–K IS GOING ON HERE???!!!” He also added on the hashtags “Heads Gon Roll” and “Left Eye Mutha Fu—h.”

Nick’s eye patch is a signature part of his appearance. In Captain Marvel, a young Nick had both of his eyes throughout the duration of the film. But it was revealed that Jackson’s fictional character obtained the injury to his left eye when Goose the Flerken — who was formerly Mar-Vell’s (Annette Bening) pet — lashed at his eye, causing permanent damage.

While success didn’t find Jackson on the Spider-Man poster, he has still had a year worth celebrating. He has appeared in box office hits such as Captain Marvel in March, Avengers: Endgame in April and Glass in January. Later this year, he will also star in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard — a sequel to 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard — and The Banker.

Jackson has appeared as Nick in several MCU films, including the upcoming Spider-Man sequel. The film, directed by Jon Watts, will follow the events that transpired during Avengers: Endgame. Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) will be tasked with handling new threats in a world post-Endgame. The English star, in fact, accidentally spoiled a bit too much of the final Avengers film during a recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show.

“Sorry if anyone hasn’t seen the film! If you haven’t, then you’re living under a rock, to be honest,” Holland, 23, said in reference to spilling the film’s biggest twists.

Spider-Man: Far From Home hits theaters on Friday, July 2.

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'Friends' Forever! Jen Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow Have Girls' Night

Where’s our invitation to the reunion of the century? The friendship among Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow is still going strong long after their days on Friends as the trio had a girls’ night over the weekend.

The former costars headed down to Cabo San Lucas to celebrate the Cougar Town alum’s 55th birthday, as documented in fun selfies shared to Cox and Kudrow’s Instagram page’s on Sunday, June 23.

“Halfway there … #girlsnight,” Kudrow, 55, wrote on Instagram as the group of gal pals were shown smiling and posing close together in a somewhat blurry selfie. The Comeback alum’s caption seemingly referenced the presence of three of the six Friends costars in attendance for Cox’s birthday celebration. (Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer were unfortunately not in Mexico for the momentous occasion.)

Cox, for her part, posted a silly snap of the trio. “Trying to figure out what to say on Instagram … #gotnothing #friends #girlsnight,” she captioned the photo.

The special trip to Cabo was also attended by producer Kristin Hahn, actress Mary McCormack and actress Amanda Anka, who is married to Jason Bateman. Cox’s birthday celebration in Cabo occurred when Busy Philipps ventured to the area to celebrate her 40th birthday with stars such as Elizabeth Banks and Retta.

The girls’ Friends reunion in Mexico follows a picture Cox posted to Instagram on her actual birthday, which featured Aniston and Kudrow in another cute selfie op. “How lucky am I to celebrate my birthday with these two??? I love you girls. So much,” she wrote on June 15.

Friends aired for 10 seasons on NBC from 1994 to 2004. While its been years since fans have seen a new episode of the popular sitcom, Aniston revealed that she would be interested in doing a reboot with the whole cast.

“I would do it …. The girls would do it, and the boys would do it, I’m sure,” the Murder Mystery star, 50, said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month. “Listen, anything can happen.”

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Katy Perry shows up at model Miranda Kerr's skincare launch

LOS ANGELES • Pop star Katy Perry is on a mission to make as many friends as possible.

Days after ending her years-long feud with fellow pop star Taylor Swift, the Firework singer attended the launch of Australian model Miranda Kerr’s new skincare line for her brand, Kora Organics, in Malibu, California, last Thursday.

Perry’s attendance would not have raised much eyebrows if not for the fact that Kerr was married to her fiance, actor Orlando Bloom, between 2010 and 2013. Perry, 34, and Bloom, 42, announced their engagement in February.

Kerr, 36, is married to Snap Inc chief executive officer Evan Spiegel, 29. The couple have a one-year-old son and are expecting their second child.

Kerr has an eight-year-old son from her marriage with Bloom, who is famous for playing blond elf Legolas in The Lord Of The Rings movie trilogy (2001 to 2003).

Perry and Kerr posed for a photo with Perry’s sister Angela Hudson at the launch, with the model posting the picture on Instagram later, with the caption, “Thanks for shining bright with me”.

Perry reposted the photo on her Instagram account, congratulating her on the launch.

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Review: A ‘Stonewall’ Opera Reflects the Diversity of Queer History

My favorite scene in the recent documentary “Maria by Callas” is when, after a seven-year absence, the world’s most famous diva returns to the Metropolitan Opera in 1965. A TV journalist visits the theater to interview young men who have been waiting hours — overnight, even — for tickets. And while none of them are explicitly gay, it’s no secret that they are.

There’s Dennis, with beaming eyes and extravagant phrasing, crowning Callas as “the greatest”; and Lex, dead serious in claiming that to miss her performance would be “a crime.” A third guy can’t stop smiling as he says she’ll receive a 30-minute standing ovation, even if he has to be the only one standing (though he’s sure he’ll have company).

Company, indeed. This heartwarming moment is a postcard from the past, preliberation gay men unintentionally announcing to the present: We have always been here. If you don’t think so, just read the hyperbolic diva worship in Walt Whitman’s poetry from the 19th century.

But opera, an art form that has existed for several hundred years, has only recently begun to reflect the lives of some of its most ardent fans with contemporary works that tell the stories of gay men, as well as the rest of the lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. The latest example is Iain Bell and Mark Campbell’s thin but often charming “Stonewall,” which premiered on Friday at the Rose Theater in a production by New York City Opera.

[Read all of The New York Times’s Pride 2019 coverage.]

“Stonewall” — commissioned by City Opera to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the June 28, 1969, police raid and uprising that have come to signify the birth of the gay rights movement — is also the most recent installment in the company’s initiative to present an L.G.B.T.-themed production every year during Pride month. Last season was Charles Wuorinen’s bleakly strident “Brokeback Mountain”; before that, Peter Eotvos’s “Angels in America,” a streamlined and spare adaptation of the Tony Kushner play.

What could come next? Increasingly, there are options to choose from beyond the euphemism and tragedy in classics by, say, Britten or Berg. In the late-1990s, “Patience and Sarah,” by Paula M. Kimper and Wende Persons, brought a lesbian love story to the opera stage. And, in 2016, Gregory Spears and Greg Pierce’s wrenching “Fellow Travelers” homed in on a doomed romance caught up in the McCarthy-era “lavender scare.”

Like that opera, “Stonewall” aspires to tell a human story amid historical sweep. But it’s a nearly impossible undertaking because Stonewall, which was more of a nebulous moment than a self-conscious flash point, defies the simplification opera demands — not least of all because the bar catered to everyone on the queer spectrum, and they all deserve representation.

On that front, “Stonewall” is groundbreaking. It features what is billed as the first transgender role written for a transgender singer (Liz Bouk). And never have I seen such a diverse slate of characters as in the closing scene: a butch lesbian alongside a feminine one, alongside a drag queen, a gay Latino, a trans woman and a homeless young gay man. Inside the Stonewall Inn, white and brown bodies dance together as if in a world far removed from the bitter racial politics of the time.

But how to tell all of their stories within a single opera — one with a running time of less than 90 minutes? “Stonewall” tries, by giving the many principal singers brief arias that characterize them with pointedly telling details, but it ultimately doesn’t have the space to push any one role beyond mere archetype. And the baldfaced emotionality of Mr. Bell’s otherwise sophisticated score often abandons a human scale for something more like hagiography.

The opera opens with a spoken homophobic slur on the subway. (Riccardo Hernandez’s set consists of fluidly mobile walls covered in tin tile like a bar’s ceiling, decorated with thin strips of LED light that illuminate in different configurations for each scene.) The insult sparks a loud, dissonant chord that sets the opera in motion with a chugging, Sondheimian rhythm and restless momentum, vigorously conducted by Carolyn Kuan.

Maggie (Lisa Chavez), the butch lesbian, is on the receiving end of the slur; but she insults the man back and isn’t bothered, not with the evening she has planned: “Tonight downtown/I’m kissing a dozen girls,/And hope to take one home.” What follows is a long montage that recalls both the “Tonight” quintet from “West Side Story,” though a whole lot gayer, and the “I want” song trope of musical theater, with each major character briskly offering an introduction and aspiration.

Mr. Campbell’s plain-spoken and lucid libretto, smoothly conveyed through Leonard Foglia’s direction, touches not only on public harassment, but also blackmail, conversion therapy, discrimination and — admirably — the shady background of the Stonewall Inn, an unsanitary, Mafia-run bar that thrived on bribery.

Some singers appear too briefly. There’s barely any time, for example, to take in Brian James Myer’s buttery baritone voice beyond the passing scene of his character, a Dominican-American teacher named Carlos, getting fired from his Catholic school job for what the principal calls “your lifestyle.” Yet Mr. Bell’s music lingers a little too long on Renata (Jordan Weatherston Pitts), a drag queen whose introduction is underscored with exoticizing percussion that verges on problematic.

It doesn’t really matter, though, how well you get to know anyone, not once the tide of history sweeps into the Stonewall Inn. There the principal singers, whose characters are never really developed further, blend with the crowd as they dance to wonderfully fun jukebox songs — written by Mr. Bell and Mr. Campbell, and sung by Darlene Love — before being interrupted by the police, portrayed with simplistic villainy and led by the big-voiced tenor Marc Heller.

Even more simplistic, though, is how the opera represents the turning point of gay liberation: Ms. Chavez, mightily, sings “No!” at an officer as the riot erupts. (Is this growth for her? Not really, based on how defiantly she stood up against the man on the subway.) Then, for a moment, the opera becomes more like a dance, with the cinematic score accompanying a stage-wide battle, choreographed by Rick and Christian Sordelet, that begins chaotically but coalesces with the queer freedom fighters beating back the police as a single, massive force.

“Stonewall” ends shortly after, with a sunrise and an overly sunny finale that feels premature, as if this opera’s tale were just one chapter of a much bigger story. In real life, thankfully, it truly was.


Through June 28 at the Rose Theater, Manhattan;

Joshua Barone is a senior staff editor on the Culture Desk, where he writes about classical music and other fields including dance, theater and visual art and architecture. @joshbarone Facebook

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