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George Michael: A Legend Remembered

An amazing singer and songwriter who burst on to the music scene in the early 80’s, George Michael began with the dancy, poppy hits from his band WHAM! WHAM! broke barriers as a pop band, namely, by not only having infectiously catchy, whimsical pop songs that no one could forget, but also, by being openly flamboyant and later, openly gay. Women loved Wham! and straight kids that were anti-gay made fun of them–yet still couldn’t help but know the melodies and words. The world embraced them, including of course–MTV which, along with American Bandstand, the radio, and later VH1, helped launch their career.

George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on June 25th, 1963, in East Finchley, London.  He attended Bushey Meads School, where he meets future band mate Andrew Ridgely, who he started the legendary 80’s pop group with–WHAM!

It was June 16th, 1982, when Wham!’s first single, “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)” was released. It later  peaked at #8 on the UK singles chart.  A cute, rebellious, lighthearted pop-rap hit, the song actually carried a profound message, telling the world–“Don’t do work that you are not happy doing.  Find what you love, and then only do that which makes you happy.”

Two years later, May 14th, 1984, WHAM! reached superstar status with their #1 Hit “Wake Me Up (Before you Go Go) that gave the world yet another cute, highly danceable, and utterly unforgettable song. During the height of the abortion rights debates, George Michael pushed politics with the hit video, wearing a snow white t-shirt with the words emblazoned “CHOOSE LIFE” on the front and back of it, as well as worn by his band mates.  Shedding any attempt at machismo, George embraced portraying himself however he felt; political, flirty, cute, and before he publicly declared it–gay.

When WHAM! stopped making music together, lead singer George Michael soon later burst back on to the scene with dark, brooding, soulful songs that hit the top of the charts, and gained even more fans around the world. Those that loved WHAM! were hooked, and even those that didn’t now had a new appreciation for a man who proved to have even greater talent, soul, and passion than the world realized.

Shattering any idea that he was simply a one hit wonder with nothing deep to say after “Wake me Up,” George Michael released a searing, melancholic, solo ballad, yet still under The Wham! title. Just two months later in July 24th, 1984, “Careless Whispers–” like “Wake me Up,” dominated the charts, and brilliantly made George Michael a certified star, worthy of respect.

Handsome, charming, and with a voice like silk, George Michael was here to stay.  Yet far from merely a lighthearted pop star with a brooding ballad, George’s music was filled with a dark side, dealing with subjects including lost love, rebellion, disappointing ones parents, religion, sex, and death.

On June 1st In 1987, “I Want Your Sex”, the first single from George’s debut solo album, Faith, was released. Despite being banned by the BBC, the song hits #3 on the UK charts and #2 in the U.S.  Ending with the slogan “Explore Monogamy.”  George’s hit song “I want Your Sex” proved daring not only due to the provocative subject matter of the song, but also pushing inter-racial sex relations, with a pretty Chinese woman he tries to seduce in the video.

A stellar singer and songwriter, George Michael was also a great model, who loved fashion and was embraced by the fashion world. On October 30th, 1990, George Michael’s hit song  “Freedom! ’90” single was released–directed by David Fincher–reaching the top 10 on the U.S. charts. The video features supermodels Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz and Christy Turlington, showing his love for fashion and supermodels, and their love for George.

Performing with many stars of his time including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Elton John among more, George Michael was recognized by his peers as a true great–a star who deserved it.

Up as a nominee for the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017, the award should certainly be awarded to George Michael, which is an accolade that recognizes the work and contributions of composers and lyricists who create great music around the world. George has been nominated as a performer/songwriter for his extensive catalog of songwriting credits including chart-toppers including the beautiful “Careless Whisper,” the romantic “Father Figure,” and the timeless “Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go.”  The voted winner will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame at the Annual Awards & Induction Gala on June 15, 2017.

George Michael was busy putting the finishing touches to his special documentary film “Freedom” before he passed on.  He had discovered some incredible, unseen archive footage and was busy shooting additional interviews for the project, with the film planned to air in March 2017.  To coincide with the film’s broadcast, George and Sony Music had decided to move the reissue of the Listen Without Prejudice album to the same time.

On Christmas Day, December 25th, 2106, George Michael passed on.  He never had the chance to get old, and like his wish–stayed forever young.  George Michael was a truly great artist, an AMAZING and beautiful spririt, who will be missed, and remembered always.

www.GeorgeMichael.com

This content is copyright, 2010–2016, George Michael dot com, Sony Music, The Hollywood Sentinel, all world rights reserved.

336 Films In the Running For 2016 Best Picture Oscar® Race

     

Oscar®-nominee, Rooney Mara, arrives at The 88th Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Sunday, February 28, 2016.

A massive three hundred thirty-six feature films are eligible for the 2016 Academy Awards®, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this week.

To be eligible for 89th Academy Awards consideration, feature films must open in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County by midnight, December 31, and begin a minimum run of seven consecutive days.

Under Academy rules, a feature-length motion picture must have a running time of more than 40 minutes and must have been exhibited theatrically on 35mm or 70mm film, or in a qualifying digital format.

Feature films that receive their first public exhibition or distribution in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release are not eligible for Academy Awards in any category. The “Reminder List of Productions Eligible for the 89th Academy Awards” is available at http://www.oscars.org/oscars/rules-eligibility.

Nominations for the 89th Oscars® will be announced on Tuesday, January 24, 2017.

The 89th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.  The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

ABOUT THE ACADEMY

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 7,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.

This content is copyright, 2016, AMPAS, Hollywood Sentinel, all world rights reserved.

President Obama Gets it Right–Protects Arctic Environment

For the last 40 years, I’ve roamed the polar regions of our world. I started as a child, growing up in an Inuit community on Baffin Island, Canada, where I learned from the Inuit people not just to survive in our environment — but to thrive in and love the Arctic for all it had to offer.

Later, as a scientist, I tried using data to make the case for conservation. But it wasn’t until I became a polar photographer for Sea Legacy and National Geographic magazine that I finally found a way to convey the urgency of protecting this fragile ecosystem for the good of all humanity.

Photo by Paul Nicklen

Photo by Paul Nicklen

As a scientist, what I know about the Arctic is terrifying. Currently, it’s warming twice as fast as anywhere else on the planet. As a photographer, I can observe and document these effects first-hand: receding glaciers, struggling wildlife populations, and cities impacted by rising sea levels.

And as the landscape changes, driven by climate change, I am watching the Arctic region become increasingly vulnerable. In particular, we should see the rapid disappearance of sea ice here for what it is: a sign of imminent and catastrophic change. The danger of an oil spill would deliver a fatal blow to this pristine and critically important ecosystem.

This week,  President Obama designated vast portions of the United States’ Arctic Ocean as indefinitely off limits for future oil and gas leasing.

The new withdrawal — which encompasses the entire U.S. Chukchi Sea and the vast majority of the U.S. Beaufort Sea — will provide critical protection for the unique and vibrant Arctic ecosystem, which is home to marine mammals and other vital ecological resources and marine species, and upon which many Alaska Native communities depend. With this action, we’ve now protected nearly 125 million acres in the Arctic from future oil and gas activity since 2015.

Photo by Paul Nicklen

Photo by Paul Nicklen

This action also comes in conjunction with Canada’s announcement that it will freeze offshore oil and gas leasing in its Arctic waters, to be reviewed every five years through a climate and marine science-based assessment.

My career as a scientist, photojournalist, and co-founder of SeaLegacy.org has taught me that merely telling people the ice is melting doesn’t work. Temperatures are rising. Animals are struggling, starving and drowning. Water levels are gradually immersing cities. We can no longer just talk about this. We need to show the world how urgent it is with images and stories and, more importantly, with urgent action.

At this pace the Arctic will be void of ice by 2050. It’s a message that’s hard to hear but easy to understand when you see the damage at the poles of this great Earth. Species whose survival is at serious risk, like the Pacific walrus, polar bear, bowhead whale, fin whale, spectacled eider, and Steller’s eider will benefit from these protections, and so will the communities that rely on the Arctic ecosystem for their way of life.

–Paul Nicklen
Scientist, Wildlife Photojournalist
Nanoose Bay, British Columbia, Canada
This content (partially abridged), is copyright 2016, The White House, all world rights reserved. The Hollywood Sentinel.