Wednesday, September 30, 2015

PokerStars, 2015-09-30 - PokerStars Blog, World's largest poker business to enter regulated online gaming market in the United States

World's largest poker business to enter regulated online gaming market in the United States

MONTREAL, Sept. 30, 2015 /CNW/ - Amaya Inc. (TSX: AYA; NASDAQ: AYA) ("Amaya" or the "Corporation") today announced that the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (the "DGE") has authorized it to operate the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands in New Jersey. The approval follows an unprecedented review by the DGE of Amaya's acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt in August 2014. The approval enables the entry of the world's largest poker business into the United States.

"We are very pleased to add New Jersey to the long list of regulated markets that have found PokerStars and Full Tilt suitable to offer real-money online gaming," said David Baazov, Chairman and CEO of Amaya. "I want to thank the DGE for their thorough and fair review of our business. We look forward to bringing our popular brands, innovative technology, marketing prowess and world-class security and game integrity to the growing New Jersey online gaming market. We anticipate providing additional details of our launch plans in the near future."

Amaya is currently in an agreement with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City to provide online poker and casino offerings in New Jersey through the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands. Amaya has also previously received approvals from the DGE to provide B2B online and land-based gaming solutions in New Jersey.

New Jersey gaming regulators have a long history of stringent regulatory oversight and enforcement of gaming operations. The DGE's review of PokerStars was extremely thorough and exhaustive, including a detailed review of Amaya's operations and technology, sworn interviews with more than 70 individuals and visits to approximately a half dozen international jurisdictions. This stringent review found PokerStars to be under strong, ethical and trusted ownership and management with Amaya, and worthy of participating in New Jersey's regulated online gaming market.

"Since the acquisition, we have consistently delivered on our stated strategy," said Baazov. "Today's announcement follows the divesture of our B2B businesses for total gross proceeds of approximately US$524.8 million; the launch of casino games on PokerStars, which we estimate has one of the largest active user bases of any online casino; the refinancing of our long term debt and the reduction of our annual interest expense by approximately US$62 million. We are excited about our new product pipeline and enthusiastic that we will experience growth in existing and emerging markets in the future."

PokerStars is the world's largest online poker site and Full Tilt is among the world's top online gaming sites. The two brands combined hold a strong majority share of the global online poker market per industry estimates1, and have more than 95 million registered customers. PokerStars recently started to roll out online casino games in select markets and is already estimated by the Corporation to be one of the largest real-money online casino operators in the world as measured by number of unique players.

About Amaya

Amaya is a leading provider of technology-based solutions, products and services in the global gaming and interactive entertainment industries. Amaya owns gaming and related consumer businesses and brands including PokerStars, Full Tilt, StarsDraft, the European Poker Tour, PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, the Latin American Poker Tour and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour. These brands collectively form the largest poker business in the world, comprising online poker games and tournaments, live poker competitions, branded poker rooms in popular casinos in major cities around the world, and poker programming created for television and online audiences. Amaya, through certain of these brands, also offers non-poker online gaming products, including casino, sportsbook and daily fantasy sports.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward Looking Statements

This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and applicable securities laws, including, without limitation, Amaya's anticipated operation of the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands in New Jersey. Forward-looking statements can, but may not always, be identified by the use of words such as "anticipate", "plan", "continue", "estimate", "expect", "may", "will", "project", "predict", "potential", "targeting", "intend", "could", "might", "would", "should", "believe", "objective", "ongoing" and similar references to future periods or the negatives of these words and expressions. These statements, other than statements of historical fact, are based on management's current expectations and are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties, and assumptions, including market and economic conditions, business prospects or opportunities, future plans and strategies, projections, technological developments, anticipated events and trends and regulatory changes that affect us, our customers and our industries. Although the Corporation and management believe the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable and are based on reasonable assumptions and estimates, there can be no assurance that these assumptions or estimates are accurate or that any of these expectations will prove accurate. Forward-looking statements are inherently subject to significant business, economic and competitive risks, uncertainties and contingencies that could cause actual events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. These risks and uncertainties include those identified under the heading "Risk Factors and Uncertainties" in Amaya's Annual Information Form for the year ended December 31, 2014 and in its Management's Discussion and Analysis for the period ended June 30, 2015, each available on SEDAR at, Edgar at and Amaya's website at, and in other filings that Amaya has made and may make with applicable securities authorities in the future. Investors are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date hereof, and the Corporation undertakes no obligation to correct or update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Trailer - The X-Files "The Truth Is Still Out There" Promo (HD)

This is the amazing new trailer of the new "The X-Files" mini-series that will premiere on January 24, 2016.

The next mind-bending chapter of THE X-FILES debuts with a special two-night event beginning Sunday, Jan. 24 (10:00-11:00 PM ET/7:00-8:00 PM PT), following the NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, and continuing with its time period premiere on Monday, Jan. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT). The thrilling, six-episode event series, helmed by creator/executive producer Chris Carter and starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI Agents FOX MULDER and DANA SCULLY, marks the momentous return of the Emmy Award- and Golden Globe-winning pop culture phenomenon, which remains one of the longest-running sci-fi series in network television history.

Hope you love it.

Here are the official sites:

Official Twitter page:
Official Twitter page:
Official Feacebook page:


Thirteen years after the original series run, the next mind-bending chapter of THE X-FILES is a thrilling, six-episode event series from creator/executive producer Chris Carter, with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson re-inhabiting their roles as iconic FBI Agents FOX MULDER and DANA SCULLY. Mitch Pileggi also returns as FBI ASST. DIR. WALTER SKINNER, Mulder and Scully’s boss, who walks a fine line between loyalty to these investigators and accountability to his superiors. This marks the momentous return of the Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winning pop culture phenomenon, which remains one of the longest-running sci-fi series in network television history.

THE X-FILES debuts with a special two-night event beginning Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016 (10:00-11:00 PM ET/7:00-8:00 PM PT), following the NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, and continuing with its time period premiere on Monday, Jan. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT). The upcoming event series will encompass a mixture of stand-alone episodes and those that further the original show’s seminal mythology. In the opening episode, Mulder and Scully take on a case of a possible alien abductee. The all-new episodes will feature appearances by guest stars, including Joel McHale (“Community”), Robbie Amell (“The Flash”), Lauren Ambrose (“Dig,” “Six Feet Under”), Annabeth Gish (“The Bridge”), Annet Mahendru (“The Americans”), Rhys Darby (“Flight of the Conchords”), Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley”) and William B. Davis, who reprises his role as “Cigarette Smoking Man.” Three of the episodes are written and directed by Chris Carter, with the remaining new episodes written and directed by original series veterans Glen Morgan, Darin Morgan and James Wong.

THE X-FILES originally premiered in September 1993. Over the course of its nine-season run, the influential series went from breakout sci-fi favorite to massive global hit, and became one of the most successful television dramas of all time. The show, which earned 16 Emmy Awards, five Golden Globes and a Peabody Award, follows FBI special agents Scully (Anderson) and Mulder (Duchovny), as they investigate unexplained cases – “X-Files” – for which the only answers involve paranormal phenomena.

THE X-FILES is a production of 20th Century Fox Television in association with Ten Thirteen Productions. Chris Carter is the creator and executive producer of the series. Glen Morgan also serves as an executive producer. “Like” THE X-FILES on Facebook at Follow the series on Twitter @TheXFiles and join the discussion at #TheXFiles. See photos and videos on Instagram by following @TheXFilesFOX.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Harry Potter, 2015-09-24 - Pottermore, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is in two parts

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is in two parts

By Pottermore staff writer

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child front

Thursday 24th Sept 2015

J.K. Rowling announces that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is in two parts

J.K. Rowling has just revealed that the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be staged in two parts.

The new stage play by Jack Thorne is based on a new and original story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, and will premiere in London’s West End in summer 2016 at the Palace Theatre.

At 10pm today, J.K. Rowling tweeted: 'Due to the epic nature of the story we’ve been working on, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be in two parts!'

Like you, we had so many questions and luckily for us, the play’s director John Tiffany and its writer Jack Thorne were on hand to answer some of them.

Bafta-winning writer Jack Thorne was elated by the chance to delve deeper into the wizarding world.

‘Obviously I loved it when we decided to tell this story in two parts,’ Jack tells us, ‘because I got to spend more time with the characters and what an honour that has been.

‘It continues to be unbelievable and amazing that I’ve been given this extraordinary chance to bring Harry Potter to the stage. As a fan, who just devoured the books and the films, this couldn’t be more exciting for me.’

The significance of the stage play is not lost on Tony and Olivier Award-winning director John Tiffany. He feels that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a unique production, and we’re inclined to agree.

‘I’ve never worked on anything quite like this before,’ he says. ‘Usually in theatre you’re adapting existing material or creating an entirely new play. With the Cursed Child we have been given the unique opportunity to explore some of the most cherished books and beloved characters ever written, yet work with J.K. Rowling to tell a story from that world that no one yet knows – it’s exhilarating.

‘It shares a scale and ambition with all the Harry Potter stories so in order to do this justice we have decided to present the play in two parts.’

John and Jack are two of the most successful and respected people working in theatre today. Their utterly charming nervousness about bringing J.K. Rowling’s characters to the stage only highlights what this extraordinary new story means to them.

'I just hope we do it justice,’ says Jack. 'I’m so constantly aware of respecting the previous seven stories…I hope people love this play like they loved the books. Everything we do is with that in mind.”

The production doesn’t just mean the world to its director and writer, but also to the entire team working tirelessly to bring the play to London’s West End next summer.

‘There are many people working on this production who grew up with the books, or discovered them with their kids,’ John tells us, ‘and it’s been thrilling and humbling to hear them say ‘We never thought we’d get Harry back. But he’s here…’’

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child comes to London’s West End summer 2016, with tickets going on sale this Autumn. You can register for priority booking at to have the first opportunity to purchase tickets before they go on sale to the general public.

Pottermore will be right here to bring you more news, interviews and much more besides.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Madonna, 2015-09-17 - Rolling Stone, Bitch, She's Madonna: NYC Stop Showcases Genius of Rebel Heart Tour

Bitch, She's Madonna: NYC Stop Showcases Genius of Rebel Heart Tour

Sentimental, unapologetic show comes 30 years after her first MSG performance

By |

Madonna performs in New York City on September 16th, 2015. Matthew Shelter

"You know what they say — it's lonely at the top," Madonna told the crowd near the end of her New York show last night. "But it ain't crowded!" And on the second U.S. show of her hotly awaited new Rebel Heart tour, Our Lady spent three hours proving what a goddess she is, not to mention what an Unapologetic Bitch. Damn right it's not crowded, because there's nobody else near her throne. The whole night was a tour of everything only Madonna can do. She's not the same. She has no shame. She's on fire.

She sang the Edith Piaf ballad "La Vie En Rose" in French, alone on the stage, strumming her ukelele. ("It's en français, though, okay? So try and sing along if you can.") After "Material Girl," she tossed a wedding bouquet to a gay couple up front, then snickered, "Suckers!" She used crucifixes as stripper poles, doing the "Vogue" rap while writhing against a dancer clad in a nun's wimple and feathery hot pants. Her cassocked dancers simulated a group-grope orgy at the Last Supper while the guest of honor chanted "Yeezus loves my pussy best!" And all night long, her banter was the toppest of notch, like when she introduced her gorgeous new acoustic country-hoedown version of "True Blue." "No swear words in this song," she announced. "This is a song about true love. I didn't know what I was talking about when I wrote it." Glad you're the one who brought that up, Madonna.

She hasn't reached so far onstage, musically or emotionally, since her 2001 Drowned World extravaganza. Her last couple of tours had spectacular performances, but dodgy set lists. This time Madonna has much stronger new songs to play with, from Rebel Heart — and she brilliantly revamps the hits. She played a Flying V for a punked-out "Burning Up," dropping to her knees for her guitar solo — the first time she played Madison Square Garden, 30 years ago, she got on her knees in front of the male guitarist while he played a solo, and don't think she doesn't remember these things.

Matthew Shelter

Opening act Amy Schumer helped set the tone — when was the last time you saw a stand-up comedian slay in an arena? Schumer was clearly right at home in a room full of Madonna fans: "I know who's here. It's like taking a warm bath in a tub full of dick that doesn't want you." She talked abut how hot Bradley Cooper's girlfriend is ("She's like a panther fucked a gazelle and they fucked Gisele") and how hot Bradley Cooper is ("you would just grab your ankles and say 'any hole's fine'"). For the encore, she came back out to let Madonna kick her in the ass, right before "Holiday."

But it was Madonna's night. "Body Shop" was a Fifties-style dance routine where she rolled in on the hood of a vintage Chevy, just like Christie Brinkley in Billy Joel's "Keeping the Faith" video," then frolicked in glitter ankle boots with a harem of hot greaser mechanics, all looking like the boy who knocked her up in the "Papa Don't Preach" video. (So true: Italians do it better!) Then she sat her dancers down on a pile of tires and adopted a Dolly Parton twang to tell them, "Like my grandma always said, if it's got tits or tires, it's gonna give you trouble."

"Like a Virgin" was one of the night's peak moments — the song got pimped up with the Egyptian-lover electro-beats from "Music," while she took the stage alone to revamp her cowgirl line-dance moves from the "Don't Tell Me" video. She wore fingerless black gloves, reading her 1984 Boy Toy self, yet she humps the stage with enough verve and wit to make the girl she used to be look like the shy type. She also said, "It's so hot in here," which is Madonna-speak for, "You don't mind if I strip this shirt off, do you?"

She kept getting surprisingly sentimental about playing the Garden, 30 years after her 1985 Virgin Tour. Back then, she always used to ask the crowd, "Will you marry me?" Tonight the girl was in a slightly shadier mood. "I don't know about marriage," she mused, after her bouquet toss. "Do you want to marry me?" When fans screamed, she replied, "No, you probably don't. But maybe it'll be third time lucky." She resurrected long-unheard gems like "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" and "Deeper and Deeper," along with a snippet of "Justify My Love." ("You put this in me, so now what?" — such an underrated but on point Madonna line.)

"Music" began as a jazz-flapper café ballet, with Madonna in Twenties Gatsby drag, before it blew up to hit the electro-sleaze heights. (As it happens, it was 15 years ago this week that Madonna released Music, still her hardest-rocking and most seductive album.) After the devils-and-bullfighters-and-Minotaurs pageant of "Living My Life," she began the gratifyingly long Latin segment with "La Isla Bonita," stretching into a generous and unhurried medley of "Dress You Up," "Into the Groove" and "Lucky Star."

"I'm feeling very nostalgic tonight," she told the crowd. "Do you people understand I played Madison Square Garden 30 years ago?" She kissed a fan in a 1985 Virgin Tour shirt who claimed he was there — for all we know, he might have been the goth club kid doing the cobweb dance in the "Into The Groove" video. It led to the emotional highlight of the night, when she picked up her acoustic guitar for one of her saltiest and best Number One hits, a song she hasn't performed since the Eighties: "Who's that Girl," leading the audience in the question "¿Quien es esa niña?" The question hung in the air. "I still don't know," Madonna said after the song. "I still don't know. I think I'm not supposed to know — maybe that's what life's about, figuring out who the fuck you are."

Matthew Shelter

In her producer Nile Rodgers' essential memoir Le Freak, he tells the story of taking Madonna to Madison Square Garden in 1984 to see Duran Duran, where she sat unnoticed and unrecognized in the audience. Just a few months later, she returned, except this time she was onstage as the headliner. (Duran Duran were back in NYC this week too — and like Madonna, brazen enough to jumpstart an excellent show with an excellent new song, "Paper Gods." The Eighties are the flattest of circles.) But that's why she's Madonna. She might be still figuring out who the fuck she is — but a stage this size is always the place she goes to look for clues.

Set List:
"Bitch I'm Madonna"
"Burning Up"
"Holy Water"/"Vogue"
"Devil Pray"
"Body Shop"
"True Blue"
"Deeper and Deeper"
"Heartbreak City"/"Love Don't Live Here Anymore"
"Like a Virgin"
"Justify My Love"/"Sex"
"Living For Love"
"La Isla Bonita"
"Dress You Up"/"Into The Groove"/"Lucky Star"
"Who's That Girl"
"Rebel Heart"
"Candy Shop"
"Material Girl"
"La Vie en Rose"
"Unapologetic Bitch"


Madonna, 2015-09-17 - The Guardian, Madonna at Madison Square Garden review – 'There is no other performer like her'

Madonna at Madison Square Garden review – 'There is no other performer like her'

Madison Square Garden, New York
In the first of two Rebel Heart tour shows at the historic venue, the pop queen brings out Amy Schumer, Game of Thrones, transgender nuns, a ukulele … and her greatest hits

Madonna kicked off her two-night stand at MSG with her Rebel Heart tour.
Madonna kicked off her two-night stand at MSG with her Rebel Heart tour.
Photograph: Splash News/Corbis

Madonna’s album Rebel Heart was bedevilled by leaks; she fell flat on her backside at the Brit awards; and her Instagram gaffes have made Jeremy Corbyn look like a Rupert Murdoch-style media mastermind. As she arrives in Madison Square Garden on the fourth date of her 10th tour – the last under her 10-year, $120m contract with Live Nation – she should be up against it. Yet Madonna is always at her best with her back to the wall, when the killer instinct that has sustained her through over 30 years in pop rears to the surface, a visceral refusal to be beaten.

Her choice of support act on this homecoming gig – since New York is the place she remade herself – is very Madonna, all wrong on paper but in practice, right on the money. Amy Schumer takes the stage in front of a massive backdrop of Madonna’s face staring at the heavens and clutching a sword to her breast, the massive machinery of pop music concealed behind it. Swigging from a bottle of champagne, and with nothing but a microphone and a stool, the comic of the moment says that she was asked: “‘Who better than you to open up for Madonna?’” “Uh,” she rhetorically answers. “Any band?”

Amy Schumer
Amy Schumer
Photograph: Splash News/Corbis

Yet Schumer’s perfect reading of the audience, in which straight men are such a minority as to be non-existent, (“It’s like taking a warm bath in a ton of dick that doesn’t want you”) weapons-grade filth (“We’re here to rethink cum”) and description of the Kardashians as a family who “take the faces they were born with as a light suggestion” reduce the crowd to marshmallow before Madonna has even made an appearance.

Twenty-five years from her apotheosis, 1990’s Blond Ambition tour, Madonna’s vision of the pop concert – in which music is combined with dance, video and costume, in order to reconceptualise familiar hits into an overwhelming sensory bombardment – has now been copied by generations of pop stars. She’s also notorious for stuffing the setlist with new material, thwarting those who would love an oldies show. At first the signs aren’t promising: the show starts with film of Madonna writhing in a sequinned dress in a cage, while her voiceover chunters that creativity is being threatened by corporations (ironic, given that Madonna is a formidable corporation in her own right).

She then descends from the ceiling similarly banged up, while knights in armour march down the stage, which juts almost the length of the arena. It’s Madonna does Game of Thrones. The first song is Iconic, one of the dimmer bulbs from Rebel Heart, followed by Bitch I’m Madonna, a great title in search of a decent song. But when the dancers depart, and Madonna struts down the runway to strap on a flying V, the show has lift-off with Burning Up. One of her earliest records, it amounts to a manifesto (“I’ll do anything, I’m not the same, I have no shame”) and all these years later it still grabs you by the throat. Aged 57, Madonna is still palpably hungry, and her performance has an enduring rawness and truth. Unmediated and undiluted, she’s the ringmaster of her own circus, connecting with her hardcore in a totally instinctive way, regardless of the choreography, pyrotechnics and fancy costumes (created by a battery of top fashion designers – but really, who cares?).

Madonna’s striking ability to imbue songs that might seem throwaway with significance and depth is illustrated four songs in. On record, Holy Water is a mortifying extended metaphor for her, ahem, vaginal secretions. But on stage, it’s a Ken Russell fantasia in which a scene of transgender naughty nuns poledancing (including Madonna climbing some 12 feet into the air to stand on a revolving naked man, one of several moments which involve genuine physical peril) morphs into a genuinely unnerving demonic parody of the Last Supper in which Madonna ends up tied up on the table, legs akimbo.

Madonna performs at Madison Square Garden in New York City on September 16, 2015.
Madonna performs at Madison Square Garden in New York City on September 16, 2015.
Photograph: Shaun Tandon/AFP/Getty Images

Two more album tracks follow – the dodgy Devil Pray and the lovely Messiah – before the show hits its second section, set in a 50s garage where Madonna and the dancers prance to Body Shop (another number DOA on record) before gathering on a pile of tyres for a ukulele singalong to True Blue. From then on, it’s clear that the Rebel Heart tour connects today’s Madonna with the energy and boldness of her early days – there’s precious little from the many eras in between. HeartBreakCity, performed atop a spiral staircase, morphs into her mid-80s, yearning cover of Rose Royce’s Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, before she tears into Like a Virgin, given a 21st-century update, but performed solo, with all the allure and aggression with which she infused it when it was first released.

The following section has a Mexican theme, Madonna in full Day of the Dead finery, and of course performing La Isla Bonita, the only song from her past she revisits on almost every tour, along with Dress You Up, Into the Groove and Who’s That Girl? – a song, she says, about “not knowing who the fuck you are”. It’s a moving affirmation of her ongoing, instinctive relationship with her Latino audience.

The title track of Rebel Heart is performed against a morphing backdrop of fan art depicting her many image changes, though the show actually reveals how consistent she has been underneath it all, endowed with an unswerving belief in the transformative power of pop. The final straight is pure pleasure, Madonna in a flapper’s outfit, performing a jazz-era take on Music (in visuals alone – musically it still packs the robotic punch that made it irresistible 15 years ago), then going into a showstopping Material Girl, performed on an upended video screen titled 45 degrees, in which Madonna pushes the top-hatted dancers down the slope, one by one, in a reboot of the famous video.

Amy Schumer and Madonna together on stage
Amy Schumer and Madonna together on stage
Photograph: Splash News/Corbis

And then there’s a moment of intimacy, Madonna perching at the end of the circular hydraulic platform with her ukulele, announcing that she is going to perform one of her favourite songs. What ensues is an unaccompanied version of Edith Piaf’s La Vie En Rose, suddenly revealing that after all these years of being dismissed as a singer, Madonna has the pipes. Her rendition bites through the inherent campness of the concept to locate something unarguably moving. Finally, Madonna brings Schumer out again during Unapologetic Bitch, spanking her and then giving her a banana as a reward. Rising to the challenge, Schumer pretends to stick it up her backside, to the delight of the audience.

Holiday, performed with the stars and stripes rampant, is a victory lap. Madonna had said: “I’m feeling pretty nostalgic tonight … I performed here 30 years ago.” Her Madison Square Garden concert seems simultaneously like the latest stage of a 32-year durational performance art piece about stardom and an affirmation that there is simply no other performer like her. Tonight, Madonna kills it.

Madonna, 2015-09-17 - billboard, Madonna Gets Surprisingly Nostalgic at First NYC Tour Stop, Then Kicks Amy Schumer's Ass

Madonna Gets Surprisingly Nostalgic at First NYC Tour Stop, Then Kicks Amy Schumer's Ass

By , New York

Madonna 2015

For an artist who rarely looks back creatively, Madonna was in a particularly wistful mood during her Madison Square Garden concert on Wednesday (Sept. 16) night, the first of three NYC dates on her Rebel Heart Tour.

"I'm feeling very nostalgic tonight," Madonna said (twice, actually). "I played Madison Square Garden 30 years ago. That's crazy." When she trailed off for a moment, you almost thought she was lost in sentimental reverie. But as always, Madonna was laser-focused on the present, even while reminiscing. "You were there?" she asked a fan in the front row who had been talking to her. "Then I gotta give you a kiss." For the record, a Madonna-on-fan kiss is a controlled affair: She kissed her fingers and touched the fan's forehead, like a messiah gracing her faithful follower with one touch.

Nostalgia aside, Madonna's restless creative spirit is on full display on the Rebel Heart Tour. Refusing to coast by playing faithful, familiar live renditions of her hits, Madge recast a number of her classics in different musical molds, with mostly positive results.

Strapping on a guitar, she skuzzed up "Burning Up" to hard rock heights and turned "True Blue" into a ukulele sing-along. For "Like a Virgin," she lost the original instrumentation, her backup dancers and most of her clothes while turning her breakthrough hit into a sparse, Pharrell-esque jam.

In a lengthy nod to her Spanish-speaking audience, Madonna delivered a Latin-tinged medley of "Dress You Up," "Into the Groove" and "Lucky Star." The maracas might have been a little much, but the crisp Spanish guitar successfully made the songs sound newly organic. And while there weren't as many French speakers in attendance at MSG, Madonna nodded to her Gallic fans with a surprisingly full-voiced version of Edith Piaf's "La Vie En Rose." (Was it as good as Lady Gaga's recent live "La Vie en Rose" cover? That's a topic for opposing fan groups to viciously discuss in the comments section.)

Later in the show, Madonna began "Music" as a Jazz Age ballad before kicking the No. 1 hit into banger mode. The presence of "Music" was an effective reminder that while some compulsive naysayers tsk the Queen of Pop for trend chasing with Diplo, she brought techno to the pop mainstream years before EDM was a ubiquitous term.

As always, Madonna will never be everything to everyone. Some were undoubtedly let down to see her make it through the "Vogue" spoken word section during "Holy Water" without segueing into the full song -- and to see the lights come up without any "Like a Prayer."

But the classic tracks Madonna did pull out were judiciously selected, with attention paid to material rarely performed on her live tours. An acoustic "Who's That Girl?" (not seen on a Madonna tour in nearly 30 years), a pumping "Deeper and Deeper" (absent from her setlist for 11 years) and "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" (which segued out of new song "HeartBreak City") were all resurrected to huge applause.

Speaking of resurrection, Catholic themes occupied a sizable portion of her stage show, as you would expect -- but always with the Ciccone wink. There was a bacchanalian Last Supper, nuns gyrating on stripper polls and famous faces from Renaissance religious paintings projected onscreen during the aforementioned "Vogue" roll call.

Aside from the stunning Minotaur-filled "Living for Love," the most effective new song in her Rebel Heart Tour arsenal was "Body Shop." While the song was light to the point of forgettable on the album, its low-key, affable sound worked to the choreography's advantage as Madonna teased and flirted her way through a stage filled with tires, muscle cars and muscle men.

"My grandma always said, 'If it's got tits or tires, it's going to give you trouble,'" Madonna said in a faux Southern accent after the song. "Sorry, I know I'm not as funny as Amy Schumer, but I'm trying."

Schumer, incidentally, killed her opening set (last night was her first of three opening slots for Madonna in NYC). Repeatedly mocking the flowering falsehood that it's a new Golden Era for women in Hollywood while still making jokes about the First Lady taking a hot load, Schumer's ability to pivot between the bawdy and the incisive proved the perfect fit for a Madonna opener.

"I thought I was gonna bomb so hard for months," Schumer said when her set was over. "This is the best feeling ever."

That feeling might've been one-upped (or quashed?) later on in the evening when Madonna brought Amy out during "Unapologetic Bitch," bent her over and literally kicked her ass (in addition to pretending to penetrate it). Schumer was ecstatic and surprisingly rhythmic while dancing with Madonna onstage, but the Queen couldn't let her go without some hazing.

Before Schumer left the stage, Madonna put a sock puppet on Amy's hand and made it tell her, "Hi Amy -- I'm a sock, bitch!" Waiting a few beats for an actual joke to follow, Schumer exploded into confused laughter when it became clear that was pretty much all Madge had to offer with the skit. Madonna might be good at changing creative lanes, but her attempt at improv was like switching lanes by means of rolling out of a moving car.

When the show came to a triumphant close with "Holiday," New York's favorite adopted daughter marched around in an American flag cape while her dancers -- dressed for a Gatsby-style rager at this point -- paraded about with jubilant relief. It was clear they felt the rush of owning Madison Square Garden and relished it. Madonna, on the other hand, kept her composure. Clearly, failure to dominate MSG on Wednesday night was never an option for her -- just like failure to dominate New York City was never an option for Madonna more than 30 years ago.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Novak Djokovic, 2015-09-14 - ATP World Tour, Djokovic Clinches Year-End No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking For Fourth Time

Djokovic Clinches Year-End No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking For Fourth Time

Novak Djokovic celebrates finishing 2015 year-end ATP World Tour No. 1

Novak Djokovic has clinched the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking for a fourth time after he captured the US Open title — which represents his 10th Grand Slam championship — on Sunday. In another stellar season, the Serbian has captured seven titles, including three Grand Slams and four ATP World Tour Masters 1000s, from 11 tour-level finals.

The 28-year-old Djokovic previously finished at the top in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and is the sixth player to finish year-end No. 1 on four or more occasions, following in the footsteps of Pete Sampras (6), Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer (5), Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe (4). This is the 12th straight season that the year-end World No. 1 ranking has been held by Djokovic (2011-12, ’14-15), Federer (2004-07, ’09) or Nadal (2008, ‘10, ‘13).

"It's a fantastic feeling to know I will end the year at No. 1 again," said Djokovic. "This is what we fight for since January 1st. We still have a few tournaments left though and I look forward to competing in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and London."

Chris Kermode, the ATP Executive Chairman and President, said, "Congratulations to Novak on yet another incredible achievement. To secure the year-end ATP World Tour No.1 ranking this early in the season just goes to show what an amazing year he has had. His remarkable level of consistency throughout the season and on the biggest stages has been quite simply awe-inspiring. He’s in his prime, unquestionably at the pinnacle of the game, and fully deserving of this latest accolade – a true credit to our sport."

Djokovic, who began his third stint at World No. 1 on 7 July 2014, has been No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for 164 weeks and will move past McEnroe’s mark of 170 weeks at the top on 2 November 2015. Only Federer (302), Sampras (286), Lendl (270), Connors (268) and McEnroe have spent more weeks at No. 1 since 1973.

In 2015, Djokovic has become only the third player in the Open Era (since 1968) to reach all four Grand Slam finals in the same season, after Rod Laver (1969) and Federer (2006-07, '09). He won the Australian Open (d. Murray), Wimbledon and US Open (d. Federer both times), but narrowly failed in becoming the eighth player in tennis history to complete a career Grand Slam after a runner-up finish at Roland Garros (l. to Wawrinka) in June.

Overall, he has a 21-4 record against Top 10 opponents this year and has won seven titles, including ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (d. Federer), Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Murray), Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (d. Berdych) and Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome (d. Federer). He also finished runner-up at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (l. to Federer), Rogers Cup in Montreal (l. to Murray) and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati (l. to Federer). He currently has a 63-5 match record in 2015.

Later this year, Djokovic will attempt to secure a fourth consecutive Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title (and fifth crown overall, following his first win in 2008) at The O2 in London from 15-22 November. Djokovic will be making his ninth straight appearance at the prestigious indoor event, where he will be officially presented the year-end ATP World Tour No. 1 Trophy in an on-court ceremony.

Djokovic first ascended to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on 4 July 2011, following his maiden Wimbledon triumph, and held the top spot for 53 weeks. He reclaimed No. 1 from Federer on 5 November 2012, before relinquishing it to Nadal on 7 October 2013. Djokovic once again returned to No. 1 on 7 July last year, when he went on to become only the fourth player — after Lendl, Federer and Nadal (twice) — to hold, lose and regain the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

ATP World Tour Year-End No. 1

2015 Novak Djokovic (SRB)
2014 Novak Djokovic (SRB)
2013 Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2012 Novak Djokovic (SRB)
2011 Novak Djokovic (SRB)
2010 Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2009 Roger Federer (SUI)
2008 Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2007 Roger Federer (SUI)
2006 Roger Federer (SUI)
2005 Roger Federer (SUI)
2004 Roger Federer (SUI)
2003 Andy Roddick (USA)
2002 Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
2001 Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
2000 Gustavo Kuerten (BRA)
1999 Andre Agassi (USA)
1998 Pete Sampras (USA)
1997 Pete Sampras (USA)
1996 Pete Sampras (USA)
1995 Pete Sampras (USA)
1994 Pete Sampras (USA)
1993 Pete Sampras (USA)
1992 Jim Courier (USA)
1991 Stefan Edberg (SWE)
1990 Stefan Edberg (SWE)
1989 Ivan Lendl (CZE)
1988 Mats Wilander (SWE)
1987 Ivan Lendl (CZE)
1986 Ivan Lendl (CZE)
1985 Ivan Lendl (CZE)
1984 John McEnroe (USA)
1983 John McEnroe (USA)
1982 John McEnroe (USA)
1981 John McEnroe (USA)
1980 Bjorn Borg (SWE)
1979 Bjorn Borg (SWE)
1978 Jimmy Connors (USA)
1977 Jimmy Connors (USA)
1976 Jimmy Connors (USA)
1975 Jimmy Connors (USA)
1974 Jimmy Connors (USA)
1973 Ilie Nastase (ROU)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Madonna, 2015-09-10 - Daily News, Madonna seemed to be happy at last during upbeat 'Rebel Heart' tour opener: review

Madonna seemed to be happy at last during upbeat 'Rebel Heart' tour opener: review

Thursday, September 10, 2015, 1:51 AM

BY Jim Farber

Madonna takes to the stage on her "Rebel Heart" tour at Montreal's Bell Centre Wednesday night.
Ryan Remiorz/AP

Madonna takes to the stage on her "Rebel Heart" tour at Montreal's Bell Centre Wednesday night.

The most shocking thing about Madonna's "Rebel Heart" tour, which opened at Montreal's Bell Centre Wednesday, had nothing to do with sex. (How could it at this late date?)

And it had nothing to do with religion (though she did offer such token Madonna-esque stunts as nuns on stripper poles and dancers gyrating on holy crosses).

Instead the surprise of the show came in smiles.

Throughout nearly the entire two hour event, Madonna could barely stop grinning. For anyone who has followed Madonna tours from the start, the sight of it couldn't help but startle. Never a warm live performer, Madonna tends to grimace through her concerts, stressing athleticism and discipline over all. This time, she seemed to having a blast. It made for an infectious night that brought the Canadian crowd to a series of spontaneous, and escalating, standing ovations. It didn't hurt that she sang "La Vie En Rose," both in French and in bold voice.

The 57-year-old's show used elaborate props ...
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

The 57-year-old's show used elaborate props ...

... but wasn't afraid to go it alone.
Ryan Remiorz/AP

... but wasn't afraid to go it alone.

The show used imagery from a variety of cultures.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

The show used imagery from a variety of cultures.

The bright tone of the show made for a striking contrast to the star's last tour, "MDNA," a dark and violent affair that often ended up puzzling to boot. "Rebel Heart" had no such pretense. In fact, it may be Madonna's lightest roadshow to date.

That's not at all to say it's unsubstantial. On the contrary, the triumph of the "Rebel Heart" tour is how it finds Madonna taking ownership of her legacy with an unprecedented maturity.

The "Vogue" singer returned to the religious imagery she has used in the past.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

The "Vogue" singer returned to the religious imagery she has used in the past.

Madonna was joined by costumed dancers for much of her setlist.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

Madonna was joined by costumed dancers for much of her setlist.

She began that approach on her like-named album, which found her in a newly self-referential mode.

Madonna mirrored that here by featuring no fewer than nine of its tracks, including the show's opener, "Iconic." For this initial section of the show, Madonna drew on her time-honored mingle of the erotic and the reverent. Her twenty dancers, dolled up as medieval warriors, bore cross-topped weapons. In a more slow and graceful take on "Vogue" Renaissance images of religious figures replaced movie stars while Madonna and her dancers posed at The Last Supper table.

While the star used to position such displays as pointed social commentary, here they seemed to have more to do with simply reasserting her own long history with them.

Madonna appears to surf board a half naked nun during her concert Wednesday night. 

Madonna appears to surf board a half naked nun during her concert Wednesday night.

Madonna delved deeper into her personal story in the second act, which found her on the hood of a '60s Chevy in an auto repair shop, a clear reference to her Detroit roots. She emphasized a rare sincerity here by singing the unashamedly romantic "True Blue," while accompanying herself on, of all things, a ukulele.

Madonna came the closest she's ever going to get to a "greatest hits" display in the third act, where she offered touchstones from "Lucky Star" to "Everybody." The latter she hasn't performed live since the early '90s.

Even so, none of the older songs sounded anything like they had on album. To suit the matador-theme'd theatrical accompanyment, Madonna reimagined them as Spanish-tinged ballads.

Madonna included in her run of oldies "Who's That Girl," which she delivered as a solo acoustic ballad. After singing it, she admitted that it took her a hell of a long time to answer just who this particular girl may be. Then, she went into "Rebel Heart," a song about the joy of self-discovery. That theme allowed Madonna to run through a wide range of characters in the show - including a '20 French cabaret star - while maintaining a solid through-line.

It also helped her pull off what may have been the show's most stunning move. When performing "Like a Virgin," she appeared on the gaping stage entirely alone, dancing with a freedom and even an innocence, that made her, at 57, seem once again new.

Set List:

Bitch I'm Madonna
Burning Up
Holy Water
Devil Pray
Body Shop
True Blue
Deeper and Deeper
Heartbreak City
Living For Love
La Isla Bonita
Dress You Up
Who's That Girl
Rebel Heart
Music/Candy Shop
Material Girl
La Vie En Rose
Unapologetic Bitch