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R. Kelly petition launched

A new online petition has been set up by activists hoping to persuade Sony Music bosses to drop R. Kelly following allegations suggesting the singer is running a sex cult.

Reports, triggered by a parent's concerns about his estranged daughter, suggest the I Believe I Can Fly star is holding women between the ages of 18 and 26 captive in two of his properties in Chicago, Illinois and Atlanta, Georgia.

Kelly's legal team has slammed the allegations, insisting the soul star "unequivocally denies" them, but his critics have called for Sony bosses to release him from his contract as yet another sex scandal looms.

"We must not let habitual abusers float above justice simply because they are rich and famous," a message accompanying the Care2 petition reads. "Let's work together to turn R. Kelly into a symbol for victim's rights, reminding abusers everywhere that no one is untouchable."

The singer was previously acquitted of 21 counts of child pornography in 2008, six years after video footage emerged appearing to show the singer urinating on an underaged girl. He was also previously accused of illegally marrying tragic R&B beauty Aaliyah, when she was just 15.

After the latest allegations hit the headlines on Monday (17Jul17), Kelly's lawyer, Linda Mensch, said, "Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed by the recent revelations attributed to him... He will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name."

Earlier this week, one of Kelly's alleged captives insisted she was "in a happy place in my life, and I'm not being brainwashed or anything like that" during an interview with TMZ.

"I just want everybody to know, my parents and everybody in the world, that I am totally fine. I'm happy where I'm at, and everything is OK with me," Jocelyn Savage, 21, added. Her father was the man who launched the sex cult allegations.

The latest sex scandal hasn't had any impact on Kelly's career - all 14 of his upcoming shows are still scheduled and there's a huge demand for tickets.

Some venue bosses tell TMZ they have received angry calls from locals, but sales for tickets are brisk and there have been no cancellations.

At press time, the Care2 petition has reached almost 10,000 signatures.

Linkin Park frontman dead

Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington, who sold millions of albums with a unique mix of hard rock, hip-hop and rap, was found dead in his home near Los Angeles on Thursday, the Los Angeles County coroner says. He was 41.

Coroner spokesman Brian Elias said authorities are investigating Bennington's death as an apparent suicide but no additional details are available.

The Grammy Award-winning group sold 10 million copies of their 2000 debut, "Hybrid Theory," and then another 4 million with 2003's multiplatinum "Meteora." Both albums explored feelings of frustration and fury.

The band also sold millions with its remix album, "Reanimation," and its mash-up record with Jay-Z, "Collision Course." They won Grammys for best hard rock performance in 2001 for "Crawling" and best rap/sung collaboration for "Numb/Encore" in 2005. Linkin Park was on tour and had a show at New York's Citi Field scheduled for next week with Blink 182.

Bennington, who sported piercings and tattoos, struggled with drug and alcohol addictions at various times during his life. He was married and is survived by six children.

Linkin Park released their most recent album, "One More Light," in May. It was a CD that divided critics and fans alike for its embrace of pop. Although the band had always experimented with different sounds, some claimed the band had sold out, which Bennington denied. It became the band's fifth No. 1 album debut on the Billboard 200.

Iggy Azalea denies implants

Iggy Azalea has again denied she has had bottom implants but admitted to getting her boobs done.

The Fancy rapper's shapely bottom has long been the subject of intense speculation following her rise to stardom. But the exasperated star has again shut down reports she has had butt implants, insisting her physique is simply the result of putting in time at the gym and eating healthy.

Iggy dealt with the persistent question of the authenticity of her booty in an interview with Australian radio station Hit105's Stav, Abby & Matt with Osher on Thursday. The hosts, who complimented the rapper on her shapely figure, were keen to question the Mo' Bounce star on the secret to her "unreal" shape, asking if it was the result of plastic surgery.

"No I don't have bum implants!' Iggy answered, reports Mail Online. "They aren't my real boobs, but it is my real bum."

While it may be hard to believe, as pictures from a few years ago show the Australian rapper with a less curvy look, Iggy explained she is very careful with her diet and exercises regularly to maintain her signature small-waisted look.

"I do have a small waist, I have to work on it - I am never allowed to eat what I want," she whined.

The 27-year-old is one of the few stars who has been open about having undergone plastic surgery. In 2015 she admitted to Vogue magazine that she had had breast implants. And later that year she told another publication she'd had her nose altered after pictures emerged of her at an event looking significantly different.

"Denying it is lame!" she told the publication. But the Switch rapper added: "It's important to remember you can't change everything. You can never be perfect."

La boheme playing Kelowna

Opera Kelowna presents Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème, August 18 & 19, 2017 at 7:30pm at the Kelowna Community Theatre. One of the world’s most frequently performed operas, the romantic, heart-wrenching tale follows a close-knit circle of poets, painters, and performers who struggle for art and love amidst poverty and hardship. Though La bohème was originally set in the 1830’s, Opera Kelowna’s production draws on the fashion and style of the 1920s to craft a unique and compelling aesthetic. 

Based on Henri Murger’s 1851 novel, Scenes from the Bohemian Life, the opera is set in the frigid cold of a Paris winter. Its narrative follows the intertwined lives and loves of a small group of friends: the poet, Rodolfo, the seamstress Mimi, the painter Marcello, the musician Schaunard, the philosopher Colline, and the coquette, Musetta.

Making his North American debut as Rodolfo is Chilean tenor Leon de la Guardia. After completing studies at the Conservatorio de Musica Isidor Handler, the rising star moved to Italy and now performs on opera stages across Europe. Playing opposite de la Guardia as Mimi is Edmonton-born soprano Ana Toumine, who recently played as Rosalinde in Opera McGill’s Die Fledermaus. 

Acclaimed soprano and Kelowna native Carmen Harris makes a highly anticipated return to Opera Kelowna as Musetta, after appearing as Susanna in Opera Kelowna’s 2015 production of the Marriage of Figaro. Also returning to the company is baritone Aaron Durand as Schaunard,following a commanding performance as Papageno in 2016’s The Magic Flute.

The cast will also feature baritone Adam Harris as Marcello, who recently performed the baritone solo in Carmina Burana with the Indian River Festival, and UBC alumnus, bass-baritone Peter Monaghan, who will play Colline.

Joining the principal cast members on stage are members of Opera Kelowna’s adult and children’s choruses, hailing from communities across the Okanagan. The combined company will be accompanied by this season’s Opera Kelowna Orchestra, under the baton of Scottish conductor Bernard McDonald.

La bohème will mark the third Opera Kelowna engagement for Director Jessica Derventzis, who recently completed work as Associate Director on Dead Man Walking at the inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival. The creative team bringing Derventzis’ 1920s vision to life includes costume designer and Salmon Arm native Keren Huyter, and Alberta-based set and lighting designer Alison Yanota. 

Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) was an Italian composer who discovered his true calling in 1876, after walking nearly 20 miles to attend a production of Verdi’s Aida. The experience planted the seeds of what would become one of opera’s most prolific and celebrated careers. Today, Puccini is known for composing some of the greatest operas of all-time, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot.

A series of free concerts and community engagements will support and inform La bohème’s run. Details can be found at: operakelowna.com/2017-summer-concert-series 

Charlize Theron smitten

Charlize Theron is dating again after finding romance with "a really cool dude", who took her on a midnight hike.

The 41-year-old, who broke off her romance with Sean Penn just over a year ago, is refusing to name her new guy, but told radio host Howard Stern he's not famous.

"I went on a date maybe, like, a month ago," she told Stern on Wednesday. "I had a great date, I've got to tell you. I had an incredible date. This guy really impressed me.

"We went for a nine-mile hike in the middle of the night. It was a full moon. But I was really impressed. It was fun.

"I'm not going to say where we met, but we ended up going for a walk... It was just really fun. He was super funny. I think he's just a really cool dude. It was super private... That's what made it so much fun, too."

The actress was recently linked to Halle Berry's ex, Gabriel Aubry, after the couple was spotted hanging out at Santa Monica Pier in California at the end of May, but that could just have been two parents enjoying an evening out - Theron's six-year-old son Jackson attends the same school as Aubry and Berry's daughter Nahla.

Apart from actor and filmmaker Penn, Charlize has dated Stuart Townsend and rocker Stephan Jenkins, and she has been romantically linked to Seth MacFarlane, Alexander Skarsgard, Jeremy Renner, and her Sweet November co-star Keanu Reeves.

Kevin Hart cheating rumours

Kevin Hart has laughed off claims he cheated on his pregnant wife Eniko Parrish.

The Get Hard star found himself at the center of allegations he was unfaithful to Eniko after a video emerged which appeared to show him cuddling up to a mystery woman in a Lexus sedan at around 5am on 3 July.

The 20-minute video led to thousands of social media users taking to sites such as Twitter and Instagram to question Kevin about his actions, which in turn prompted the actor and comedian to respond late on Wednesday night.

Sharing a meme of himself laughing with a banner of words which read, "At the end of the day, you just gotta laugh at the BS", Kevin added in the caption: "#LiveLoveLaugh... SMDH (Shaking my damn head)."

Eniko, 32, has yet to comment on the video, but did share a selfie in which she showed off her changing figure on Instagram.

"Much hasn't really changed. I'm still in the gym 3-5 days a week and I feel GREAT! The BBB's got a little bigger...Boobs,Butt,& Belly of course but I'll take it! Thanks little guy! xo. #Happy6months," Eniko wrote.

Kevin and Eniko are expecting a baby boy together, with the actor recently sharing an update about the impending arrival and potential names they've been discussing.

"My wife would kill me if I said what she's got going on," he joked with E! News. "I'm going to shut up before I get myself in trouble!"

"We've got names floating around. All I know is I want a "K' to be in there somewhere. The name Kevin, Kay - something's got to come full circle."

Kevin also shares 12-year-old daughter Heaven and son Hendrix, nine, with his ex-wife Torrei Hart.

Pinkett Smith dealt drugs

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith was a drug dealer when she first met late rapper Tupac Shakur.

The Matrix Reloaded star has always maintained she befriended the Changes hitmaker when they attended Baltimore's School of Arts in Maryland together, but now she has opened up about the real story behind their relationship.

Will Smith's wife came clean about her early hustle during a radio interview with DJ Sway Calloway on Wednesday, revealing she is planning to tell all in a future memoir.

Asked about how she and Shakur first became acquainted, Jada said, "It's kinda hard because I haven't really told the whole story. One of things that's very interesting, that I've never really said before, is that when I first met 'Pac, I was a drug dealer..."

The mother-of-two declined to share specifics about her first gig, but teased a big turn of events which shocked her into living on the right side of the law.

"I won't get into the details of it, because I'mma (sic) write a book about it," she explained. "Just to give you like, (an idea), that's how we started, then something really bad happened to me (and) as I was coming out of the life (of a drug dealer), he was going more into the life."

Jada's confession emerges a month after she took aim at filmmakers behind the recent Tupac biopic All Eyez on Me, insisting the way they depicted her close friendship with the late hip-hop star was full of inaccuracies.

In a series of Twitter posts sent on the day of the movie's release on 16 June - what would have been the rapper's 46th birthday - she wrote: "Forgive me... my relationship to Pac is too precious to me for the scenes in All Eyez On Me to stand as truth."

She claims suggestions, in the film, she attended Pac's shows by his request and once had an argument with him backstage are not true.

She wrapped up her rant by admitting the "reimagining of my relationship to Pac" has been "deeply hurtful".

Sheeran paying no attention

Ed Sheeran couldn't care less about criticism of his cameo in the Game of Thrones season seven premiere.

The Shape of You hitmaker surprised viewers of the popular fantasy drama on Sunday, when he made a guest appearance as a minstrel in a scene with main character Arya Stark, played by Maisie Williams.

Ed's feature drew mixed reactions from fans, with some critics taking to social media to question why the pop star was cast in the series at all.

The backlash appeared to prompt the singer to take his Twitter profile offline on Monday, weeks after admitting he "can't read" negative messages on the site anymore, but his absence didn't last long as he had reactivated the account by Tuesday evening, with a notice informing fans he no longer uses the micro-blogging page as he has switched solely to Instagram.

On Wednesday, Ed took to the photo-sharing site to dismiss reports suggesting the nasty comments had scared him off Twitter, insisting the account closure was just a coincidence.

"Last I'll say on this," he began. "I came off Twitter I was always intending to come off Twitter (sic). had nothing to do with what people said about my Game of Thrones cameo because I am in Game of Thrones. Why the hell would I worry what people thought about that? It's clearly f**king awesome."

Ed continued, "Timing was just a coincidence, but believe what you want."

The star made the remarks beside a photo of himself holding hands with his manager while on the runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia.

He captioned it, "Here is an unrelated picture of me and my wonderful manager riding off into the sunset together".

Sheeran's comments emerged shortly after Game of Thrones director Jeremy Podeswa spoke out in the musician's defense, insisting his casting was "appropriate for the part because he needed to sing".

"If people didn't know who Ed was, they wouldn't have thought about it twice," he added to Newsweek. "The hoo-ha seems to be from things that are outside of the world of the show. In the world of the show he did a lovely job, and he looks like he belongs in that world."

The 26-year-old previously told America's Today show he was turning his back on Twitter because he wanted to focus on the positive aspects of his life.

"As a human being, we always read the one negative one and ignore the others, and I don't want to do that," he explained earlier this month. "It's just foolish to do when there's love out there in the world to look at the negative stuff. I'm just choosing not to read it."

A Steve Jobs opera?

It's 2007, and Steve Jobs has just finished launching the first iPhone before an enraptured audience when he nearly collapses, exhausted by the illness that will kill him four years later.

At this moment in Mason Bates' opera "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs," a harrowing sound emerges from the orchestra pit, a crushing downward progression that's described in the score as an "electronic shutdown."

"It's a combination of a stand-alone synthesizer with the actual sound on the old Macs of hard drives turning off — and one in reverse booting up," Bates explained in an interview last week at the Santa Fe Opera, where his work will have its world premiere on Saturday.

"That moment is the realization of his mortality, so I wanted to have that kind of shutdown sound," Bates said. "Even if you can't recognize it, it adds a little authenticity that the guy who is the subject of this opera is the creator of some of the devices we're hearing."

Collaborator Mark Campbell said he rejected the idea of a straight linear progression because "I wanted to place events the way the mind recalls them. We don't remember things chronologically, we connect them emotionally."

He and Bates also agreed the opera would neither glorify nor vilify Jobs, a genius innovator but flawed human being who long refused to acknowledge a daughter born out of wedlock and drove his employees — and himself — ruthlessly.

The opera unfolds in a single act of about 90 minutes, in Campbell's words, "as quick and streamlined as the technology Jobs created." This sense of fleetness is reinforced by the production, directed by Kevin Newbury, which uses rectangular screens with projected images that move about the stage for seamless scene changes.

Cod Gone Wild live

If you like great music, fun crowds and dancing in the park, plan your Saturday evening to be at Beasley Park in Lake Country on July 22nd.  High energy feature performers are guitar pickin’ country gentleman Ben Klick and well-known Okanagan-based Celtic band Cod Gone Wild.

Cod Gone Wild just released their fourth studio album, “The Islander”; and Ben Klick is just back from performing at the Calgary Stampede.  These professional musicians have an unbelievable amount of talent and bring together their backgrounds in classical, folk, rock, jazz and country to delight and entertain audiences of every age throughout Canada and beyond.   

Live! in Lake Country performances are presented by TD Canada Trust with additional sponsorship provided by Lakestone, Pacific Coastal Airlines, Telus PureFibre, Kiwanis, Castanet and New Horizon Productions. Pacific Coastal will be giving away a round trip to anywhere they fly to one lucky attendee at the event on Saturday.

Beasley Park is located at 3450 Woodsdale Rd. and shares a beach on Wood Lake with Reiswig Regional Park, plus a playground, picnic gazebo and washroom facilities. Everyone is invited to bring their lawn chairs and blankets for seating in the park.  The concert starts at 6:40pm and goes until 9:00pm, but everyone is invited to come early, enjoy the park and even bring a picnic. No dogs or alcohol please.  Parking is limited so please carpool, walk or cycle.  Overflow parking is available at Woodsdale Tennis Courts.

Affleck drops out of movie

Ben Affleck has reportedly dropped out of upcoming movie Triple Frontier to "take some time to focus on his wellness and his family".

The 44-year-old actor had been due to star in the Netflix action thriller, directed by J.C. Chandor, after both Tom Hardy and Channing Tatum quit citing scheduling conflicts.

On Tuesday, Deadline reported that Ben had decided to step away from the project.

"Affleck is going to take some time to focus on his wellness and his family," a source told the outlet. "The film will move forward without him; it is casting up quickly."

No further details were available about the reasons for Ben quitting the film, but his decision comes after he revealed in March that he had finished a stint in rehab.

"I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I've dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be," he wrote on Facebook. "I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step."

In January the father-of-three also dropped out of another big project, directing The Batman, explaining that he couldn't give his all to both helming the film and starring in it as The Dark Knight.

"There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions," he said in a statement at the time. "Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require."

While Ben's professional life is hitting a few hurdles, his personal life seems to be going from strength to strength. Since he officially filed for divorce from Jennifer Garner earlier this year, Ben has gone public with his relationship with producer girlfriend Lindsay Shookus.

Rogers and Parton final gig

Country icon Kenny Rogers will reunite onstage with Dolly Parton for one final performance at a star-studded farewell concert in Nashville, Tennessee later this year.

The Coward of the County singer retired from international touring a few years ago and in 2016 he announced he will be wrapping up his live shows for good after one more trek.

Kenny has now set 25 October as his official retirement date, and he will gather with his country peers to go out with a bang at the All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration.

The show will take place at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, where Kenny will share the stage with his longtime pal and Islands In The Stream collaborator Dolly for the last time.

"As I'm bringing this chapter of my career to a close, this will be an unforgettable way to celebrate with my talented friends, who I'm so grateful to have crossed paths with," Kenny, 78, shares in a statement. "It means so much that they would feel compelled to do this for me.

"Of course, the night would not be the same without Dolly Parton being part of it. We've enjoyed a special friendship for decades, and I'll forever look back fondly on the many collaborations, performances, and laughs we've shared as some of the most extraordinary moments of my career. I know it will be a moving experience for us standing on that stage together for one last time."

Dolly is excited to play such a key role in Kenny's farewell show, which she knows will be an emotional affair.

She explains, "Performing with Kenny for the last time ever on October 25th is going to be emotional for both of us, but it's also going to be very special. Even though Kenny may be retiring, as he fades from the stage, our love for each other will never fade away."

Other artists lined-up for the special celebration include Little Big Town, Alison Krauss, The Flaming Lips, Idina Menzel, Jamey Johnson, and Elle King, with additional guests set to be announced in weeks leading up to the event.

All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration will also serve as a fundraiser in part for the T.J. Martell Foundation, a non-profit disease research organization, and the Kenny Rogers Children's Center for sick kids in Missouri.

Dolly and Kenny reunited to perform Islands in the Stream during her Great Smoky Mountains telethon in December, when the Jolene singer rounded up friends to help her raise money for families affected by Tennessee wildfires.

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