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Spacey ordered to pay $31m ‘House of Cards’ production

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Actor Kevin Spacey has to pay nearly $31 million in damages to MRC Entertainment, the production company behind Netflix’s House of Cards, for breaching his contract on the basis of  alleged sexual misconduct behind the scenes of the political drama, a Los Angeles judge ruled on Thursday.

According to Deadline, the LA Judge Superior Court Judge Mel Red Recana stated that the decision was “not even a close case,” as he denied a request by Spacey’s attorney to throw out the findings of a court-appointed arbitrator in the case, which consisted of around $29.5 million in damages and $1.5 million in costs and fees.

Spacey, who played Frank Underwood, was kicked off the series during its sixth season after facing allegations that he had sexually assaulted and preyed upon young men, including a House of Cards production assistant who said the Seven actor groped him, prompting MRC’s investigation, as per the publication. 

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MRC put forward a case that Spacey’s misconduct and lies made him owe them millions in lost profits since his behaviour forced them to remove him from the sixth season of the show. Consequently, they had to trim the season from 13 episodes to eight.

Ruling in the producer’s favour, the arbitrator found that Spacey’s behaviour constituted a material breach of his agreements as an actor and executive producing agreements.

Spacey’s attorney’s argue that MRC’s move to scrap two episodes of the show that had already gone into production and start over was forced by Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ decision on Nov 2. Therefore, they contend, the damages MRC ultimately suffered could not have been caused by the alleged misconduct that surfaced later on.

The arbitrator, however, noted that MRC “presented a straightforward damages claim based on concrete numbers” and that the “calculations of MRC’s damages were appropriately conservative and relied almost entirely on MRC’s actual costs and contracted-for revenues.”

On July 14, Spacey pleaded not guilty to all sexual offences against him that dated back to 20 years. He is accused of five offences in Britain – four counts of sexual assault by touching, and a more serious charge of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent. Prosecutors say Spacey forced a man to have oral sex.

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Speaking clearly, the 62-year-old American actor and producer, whose name was given as Kevin Spacey Fowler, said “not guilty” when each of the charges were put to him at London’s Old Bailey central criminal court.

On the work front, despite these charges, Spacey is still set to appear in an upcoming film titled Peter Five Eight.

In conversation with Variety, one of the film producers shared, “While it’s unfortunate that increased negative press is timed with Kevin returning to work, it’s also to be expected. There are those who wish for him not to act, but they are outnumbered by fans worldwide who await an artist they have enjoyed for decades returning to the screen.”



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Music

Nazia Hassan to light up Times Square

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The Queen of South Asian Pop Nazia Hassan is on her way to light up Times Square! Getting the respect and honour she always deserved, the late singer’s picture will be displayed later this month in New York’s hippest space as part of Spotify’s global EQUAL initiative.

But for now, as the brand ambassador for the month of August, she’s headlining the cover of the streaming app’s EQUAL playlist, both local and global, and her iconic song Boom Boom is highlighted for everyone to groove to.

Embossing an everlasting mark in the nation’s hearts and revered for redefining local pop music landscape during the golden era of the 80s and 90s, Nazia became the first EQUAL ambassador to be honoured posthumously. The program, which launched earlier this year to provide space to women artists’ voices and recognise their impact on the music industry, has chosen the legendary Nazia this month in commemoration on the occasion of her 22nd death anniversary.

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“Nazia Hassan is a name synonymous with finesse and soulful rhymes. Her influence on the subcontinent continues to be emulated and admired until this day, even after her passing. Making her debut with the song Aap Jaisa Koi in 1980, she and her brother Zoheb Hassan have sold more than 65 million records worldwide. Having won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer at 15 in 1981, she remains the first Pakistani and the youngest recipient of the accolade to date,” stated a press release issued by the music streaming platform.

It further added,  “As the world celebrates the 22nd anniversary of her passing on Aug 13, EQUAL Pakistan remembers her profound impact on Pakistan’s music ecosystem. With her brother Zoheb Hassan, Nazia holds enormous respect and affection for her music and her contributions to social causes.”

Commenting on the inclusion of his sister in the program, Zoheb said: “I’d like to thank Spotify for nominating my sister Nazia Hassan as the EQUAL Ambassador for Pakistan and Global. As kids, we’ve been sincere to our art and music. When we started, we filled the void for pop music for youngsters at the time when folk and traditional music dominated the music scene across South Asia. Our music eventually transcended across the world, proving that music does not have any boundaries. It is also important for artists to use their popularity for social changes as we tried when we were young, from looking after the environment to advocating peace.”

“This month, we are shining a light on an artist who revolutionised the music industry not only in her era but also for the times to come. That voice is none other than Nazia Hassan. We could not be prouder to have chosen to celebrate her life and music,” highlighted Spotify’s Khan FM, Artist and Label Partnerships, Pakistan. 

“We hope that her fans from all over the world can bring their emotions, love and respect and relive her life’s memories through all her epic achievements and accomplishments. Join us in celebrating an icon who etched a place in our hearts, forever with her soulful melodies.”

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Before Hasan, the program has honoured Grammy winner Arooj Aftab, Natasha Baig, Hadiqa Kiani, and Mehak Ali and has a list of exemplary female voices to introduce the world with. As per Spotify, each EQUAL Pakistan Ambassador of the Month will receive organic and on-platform promotion across Spotify’s editorial spaces. The model is meant to propel artists’ reach on the platform in both their home countries and beyond. Each EQUAL Ambassador is set to get a billboard placement in the middle of Times Square in New York as well and we can’t wait to see who’s next!



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Film

‘Dil Chahta Hai’ turns 21

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Aamir Khan-starrer movies and a college friends reunion is slowly becoming a cult! It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a little over two decades to a Bollywood favourite that redefined friendships and love for a whole generation of Bollywood fanatics.

Farhan Akhtar’s directorial debut, Dil Chahta Hai, a coming of age movie following three college best friends and their complicated love lives following graduation, found a place in people’s hearts for many many years to come. 

The star-studded movie brought Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, and Akhshaye Khanna together on screen to talk about brotherhood while Preity Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni and Dimple Kapadia play their love interests. The iconic dialogues are still said out loud amongst friends and its timeless soundtracks still blasted on speakers, even after 21 long years. 

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Celebrating the movie that “started it all” for Farhan, he posted a montage of some memorable scenes and penned a gratitude note for fans who kept the film’s magic alive till date  on Instagram.

“The film that started it all, turns 21. Thank you to the cast and the crew who believed in it. Thank you to the audiences who continue to give it so much love.” 

Playing on the title, he concluded, “Dil jitna chahta tha usse bahaut zyaada milaa hai aapse. [You all gave more than what my heart ever desired.] Love you all.” 

But it’s not just Farhan who’s feeling all kinds of emotions like us on the film crossing a 21 year milestone. Preity, who plays Shalini, in the movie, also took to the photo-sharing app with an in-travel scene alongside Aamir.

Speaking about Dil Chahta Hai’s impact, the Kal Ho Na Ho actor wrote, “Dil Chahta Hai turns a year older today. A film where there was no place for a hero or heroine—just relatable characters that we could reach out and  touch and laugh out aloud with. It will always have a very special place in my heart. Thank you to the entire cast, crew and the audience for all the love.” 

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From Woh Ladki Hai Kahan, Shaan’s first big hit, to Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe, this movie gave us songs for each phase of life. Whether you’re grieving a loss, celebrating a relationship, being yourself amongst a goofy group of close friends or crushing on someone, Dil Chahta Hai’s playlist will have something for you — always! 

But a lesser known fact about the film is that Aamir was first signed for Siddhart’s character and not Akash – and that too, he wasn’t Farhan’s first choice. It was only after Hrithik Roshan quit the film and Abhishek Bachchan turned it down, that the makers offered the role of Siddhart to Aamir. 

Call it luck or the 3 Idiots actor’s sheer persuasion skills, Akshaye cordially agreed to swap his role with the former in the film. 

In an interview with IANS last year, Aamir spilled the beans on the reason behind agreeing to star in Farhan’s directorial debut film. “I loved the script, and I felt that Farhan was coming in with a completely fresh look at everything. His own vision and voice. As a result, Dil Chahta Hai will always be remembered as a film that broke a lot of conventions in Indian cinema,” he said. 

Aamir also opened up on working with Farhan as a debutante director. “I was working with a first-time director, but never once did it feel like that. Farhan was confident and personified. He was sure-footed and completely in control.”

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Life & Style

Worst film: SRK recalls how he felt about 'Chak De! India' on its 15th anniversary

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The Shimit Amin directorial sports drama Chak De! India celebrates fifteen years of its success, reminding everyone of its timeless story of sportsmanship, courage, and patriotism. The film, starring Shah Rukh Khan as the coach of the Indian women’s hockey team striving to win the Hockey World Cup, was a box office hit. For that reason, it comes as a surprise when it's revealed that Khan once called it the “worst film we ever made.”

During an interactive session with students at the University of Edinburgh, Khan revealed behind-the-scenes tidbits of the making of the film, including the fear of failure that loomed over the cast and crew prior to the film’s release. “We had some of the brightest minds making the film like Aditya Chopra, Jaideep Sahni, Shimit Amin. We had young girls who learnt how to play hockey. We had Yash Chopra backing it. But when I saw the film at its first screening, we all looked at it and felt it was the worst film we had ever made in our lives,” the Jab Tak Hai Jaan actor recalled.

“The [Chak De! India] girls didn’t know this because for them, seeing themselves on screen for the first time was a big thing. So they were irritatingly screaming and dancing while the four of us were sitting there and crying. We had reached that stage of failure where you start telling people ‘Listen, we did what we wanted to. This is what we set out to make and success and failure are transient and we will come back.’ It was really really sad,” the actor continued.

As the release date came closer, the anticipation of public approval and the potential for box office failure grew stronger for Khan and the filmmakers. Khan revealed the sad state of affairs they experienced after the initial screening of the film. “After the screening, Shimit ran away to America, I came to England and all of us dispersed. I switched off my phone and went to sleep. I woke up at 4:00 in the evening after drinking a lot of alcohol as I was very depressed because we thought the film was good and it didn’t turn out as nice,” Khan said.

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However, no one from the cast and crew could have anticipated Chak De! India would become an award-winning hit. “So I woke up at 4:00 and it was 9:00 in the morning in India. And by then everybody, the whole country, had loved the film and it was such a huge success that we actually couldn’t believe it,” Khan claimed.

While Khan and the filmmakers were initially sceptical about the film’s success, Chak De! India became a sports classic, garnering rave reviews and a ‘super hit’ declaration from the Indian Box Office.

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