Justin Bieber, UK health workers team up for charity song

LONDON (AP) — Justin Bieber has teamed up with a choir of London medical staff to record a special charity Christmas single.

The choir, made up of nurses, doctors and other health care staff working in the British capital’s Lewisham and Greenwich public health service, joined the Canadian pop star for a special version of his song “Holy” in a bid to top the Christmas chart.

Choir members recorded their vocals at London’s famous Abbey Road Studios. Profits from the collaboration will go to National Health Service charities.

The choir gained fame when it vied with Bieber in 2015 for the Christmas No. 1 song. Bieber urged his millions of fans on Twitter to support the choir, not him, and it eventually won the top spot on the singles chart. The star then travelled to London and presented them with their charity award.

“It’s great to be reunited with the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS choir, as we share a fun bit of U.K. chart history together,” said Bieber, 26. “Especially in these difficult times, I’m humbled to team up with them for a charity single that will benefit NHS workers on the frontlines of this pandemic and pay tribute to their unbelievable dedication.”

‘Grease’ added to National Film Registry

LOS ANGELES (AP) — This year’s inductees into the National Film Registry include a record number of female directors and filmmakers of color as well as a new crop of movies ranging from a silent short film thriller, classic musicals and an acclaimed Batman film.

The Library of Congress announced Monday that films including “The Dark Knight,” “Suspense,” musicals “Grease” and “The Blues Brothers” along with Sidney Poitier’s Oscar-winning performance in “Lilies of the Field” are among the 25 movies tapped for preservation this year.

The national library said this year’s selections include a record nine films directed by women and filmmakers of color.

“With the inclusion of diverse filmmakers, we are not trying to set records but rather to set the record straight by spotlighting the astonishing contributions women and people of color have made to American cinema, despite facing often-overwhelming hurdles,” Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, said in a statement.

Hayden and film historian Jacqueline Stewart will discuss the new selections in a television special on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST.

The library has selected movies for preservation because of their cultural, historic and artist importance since the registry began in 1988. This year’s picks bring the total number of films in the registry to 800.

Music was featured in this year’s selection including the film adaptation of Broadway musicals “Cabin in the Sky” in 1943 and “Grease,” which starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in 1978.

“The Blue Brothers” director John Landis called the film’s selection into the registry a “delightful surprise.”

“The film is the result of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s genuine passion for rhythm and blues and our mutual love for these great African American artists and the city of Chicago,” said Landis, who has two projects in the registry including “Animal House” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

The library chose a few more memorable titles such as Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker,” the animated film “Shrek” and “The Joy Luck Club,” a movie based on Amy Tan’s bestselling book that told the saga of two generations of Asian American women. The 2010 documentary “Freedom Riders,” also making its way into the registry, told an inspiring story about civil rights activists who fought against racial segregation on buses and trains in the 1960s.

Christopher Nolan’s 2008 Batman film “The Dark Knight” was a blockbuster and the top public vote-getter.

The other films directed by women include Lois Weber’s “Suspense,” Ida May Park’s “Bread,” Aloha Wanderwell’s “With Car and Camera Around the World,” Ida Lupino’s “Outrage,” Kathleen Collins’ “Losing Ground,” Julie Dash’s “Illusions,” Lourdes Portillo’s “The Devil Never Sleeps” and “Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege” by Joan Lander.

Additional films on the list include “Kid Auto Races at Venice” (1914), “The Battle of the Century” (1927), “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1955), “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” (1971), “Wattstax” (1973), “Buena Vista Social Club” (1999) and “The Ground” (1993-2001).

Night at the ballet, in time for ‘Nutcracker’

Of all the artists whose livelihoods have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, dancers have been among those hit hardest.

They depend on a live audience to do their work, of course, and most live paycheck to paycheck. As the months have gone by, dancers have worked hard to stay relevant, busy, in shape — and ready to jump back in when it’s safe again.

Enter Melanie Hamrick. The former ballerina at American Ballet Theatre — she retired in 2019 after 15 years in the company — has spent most of the year in Europe with her partner, Mick Jagger, and their 4-year-old son, Devereaux. She made a video in June featuring Royal Ballet dancers performing in empty streets to the recent Rolling Stones song “Living in a Ghost Town.” But she wanted to find a project that would employ not only dancers but the crews and technical staff that work with them.

The result is “A Night at the Ballet,” a free streaming event that premieres Thursday and was produced by Live Arts Global, founded by Hamrick and her partners, Christine Shevchenko (a principal dancer at ABT) and Joanna DeFelice. The event, filmed in a small New York theater, will treat ballet-starved fans to performances by dancers from America’s top companies in excerpts of classical ballets like “Romeo and Juliet, “The Nutcracker” and “Don Quixote,” as well as contemporary gems like “After The Rain” by Christopher Wheeldon.

“Our mission is just to give work to dancers, stage crew, tech and lighting (people) — everyone ,” says Hamrick, “and find a way to keep the arts alive while giving people jobs at the same time. Also giving back to our audiences — we don’t want to lose our audiences.”

“Art will always come back,” Hamrick says, “and dance will always come back. It’s just a waiting game.”

Hamrick sat down with The Associated Press over Zoom to discuss the project, her hopes for the dance world, and plans to expand “Porte Rouge” (Red Door), the 2019 ballet she choreographed to Rolling Stones tunes with arrangements by Jagger.

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