All the Money in the World has become known as the film Kevin Spacey was in… and then wasn’t in. Spacey had finished shooting his role as John Paul Getty – but then, he was accused of sexual harassment.
Just weeks before its release, director Sir Ridley Scott re-shot all of Spacey’s scenes with Christopher Plummer playing Getty instead.
Today, the film gets its UK release. Something that wouldn’t have happened, admitted Sir Ridley to arts editor Will Gompertz, if Spacey had remained in it.
Nearly a quarter of the current UK top 40 is made up of tracks credited to more than one artist.
There’s nothing too new about that, but if the first week of 2018 is anything to go by that could soon be on the rise.
Rita Ora, Bruno Mars and Charlie Puth are part of collaborations already released this year, while the likes of Justin Timberlake and Mark Ronson are also set to unleash projects.
So what’s going on?
‘Success breeds success’
2017 saw some of the biggest collaborations in chart history.
Justin Bieber propelled Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s Despacito to streaming records and 11 weeks at UK number one, while Ed Sheeran roped in Beyonce and Andrea Bocelli to dominate the Christmas chart.
“I don’t think anyone could have seen Despicito coming,” says Gennaro Costaldo from the BPI – the trade body that looks after record labels in the UK.
“But once you see the power of something like that artists and labels learn from it. Success breeds success.”
The power of streaming
Streaming now makes up over 50% of music consumption in the UK, more than any other platform.
With fans all over the world being more accessible than ever, teaming up with other acts makes a lot of sense.
“Because these are global artists, or artists with the ambition to be global artists, you have to think about it in terms of having the biggest possible reach and streaming lends itself to that,” says Gennaro.
“With the right song and artist profile, it can cut through whatever the culture.
“There’s a powerful sense that collaborations enhance your prospects of having a successful song.”
Collaborations are also a chance for labels or producers to combine the fanbases of their biggest acts.
Simon Cowell’s Syco label pairing Little Mix and CNCO last year was a clear attempt to expose both acts to South America and the UK respectively.
Keep an eye out for Justin Timberlake teaming up with Alicia Keys as well as long-time co-writers Timbaland and Pharrell on his new album, while producer super group Mark Ronson and Diplo are set to launch their new project Silk City in 2018.
In real life, he’s the French restaurant boss at London’s Park Lane Hilton hotel. But to TV viewers, he’s the charming maitre d’ of Channel 4’s First Dates eatery.
The match-making show sees singletons venture into the Paternoster Chop House in East London to share a meal with a blind date chosen by the show’s producers.
And we, flies on the wall, watch how as the food flows and the romantic sparks fly (or not, as is often the case).
Yes, First Dates is one of a number of love-seeking programmes (think Dinner Date, Love Island, Street Mate and Blind Date) and falls into the oft-derided category of “reality TV”.
But this show has heart.
Participants are treated with respect. The waiting staff talk to them as friends. There is no sarky voiceover. Cameras are rigged discreetly to walls. The atmosphere is chilled with the other diners being “real”.
And we get to know them as they open up away from the table, often with moving stories of what’s led them to the show.
“It’s all about giving a great experience and making people happy,” says Fred of all he and the show aim to do. “My motto is ‘enjoy life, learn everyday and make a difference’.
“One beautiful girl wanted to take part because she found things very hard due to her bad depressions. People couldn’t see her for who she really was. But I said if you can’t take people across their whole spectrum there can be no relationship.”
Fred’s commitment to First Dates arguably elevates the show above its contenders. It’s also helped make it a huge success – the show is now in its ninth series.
What’s more, it’s spawned a spin-off show, First Dates Hotel, the second series of which begins next week.
Fred, with his smile, winning accent and suave apparel, is the daters’ first point of contact, at the restaurant and hotel.
And the man from Limoges is adamant his approach makes a difference.
“The first thing they all say when they arrive is they are nervous. The job is to make them feel secure,” he says.
“Many won’t have been on a date before. Others are still trying after 70 or more failed attempts. Being on camera is daunting but suddenly they forget and get on with it. It’s fascinating.”
Fred’s also convinced his shows serve a valuable purpose – and people do not just want to be on TV.
The rigorous application process – a probing form followed by more in-person quizzing from producers – would suggest the seriousness of those taking part.
“You know, they believe we will find them ‘the one’. It’s what we’re all about,” says Fred. “It’s our vision, our raison d’etre. And they know it can happen as we’ve done it before – on both shows.”
Moreover, social media has made old-fashioned dating – such as meeting someone in a bar or pub, as he used to do – almost an anachronism, he says.
“People are addicted to [social media]. It’s made them far too impatient. They swipe and swipe through image after image but it’s always a case of finding someone else, someone better. It’s crazy.”
The recent First Dates Christmas special highlighted the show’s success. It announced more than 80 couples had found love there in the past year. One success story, Ibiba and Aarron, even came back to introduce their baby girl Aziza.
“I held her in my arms and thought, ‘Wow, this is real!’ Can you believe it?” says Fred, busting with pride.
“Love is the greatest gift.”
If altruism is truly at the heart of First Dates, it carries through to the hotel show. Series one was at Le Vieux Castillon in the south-eastern Langeudoc-Roussillon region of France.
This time, we’re in southern Italy, near Naples. “It’s the country of Romeo and Juliet, of argument and high emotion. Couples fight and then start kissing passionately,” fizzes Fred, with no hint of hurt patriotism.
And as the love-seekers are flown to another country for several days, the experience takes on a different dynamic to the parent show.
“Because you are really on holiday, you clear your mind,” says Fred. “All you concentrate on is your date and what’s happening right there and then.”
The group mingle for a few days, not knowing who their dates are. Water sports, sun-basking and cocktail-supping in a beautiful setting are on the agenda as they each try to guess.
Among them we see single mum Kaylee who only gets chatted up doing the weekly shop. Then there’s Julian, a company director with a penchant for garish suits.
The same kind of people applies to both programmes, says Fred, and finding “the one” is “both art and science”.
“There’s always that element of chemistry that we will never be able to bottle. But we had this 70-year-old lady who wanted a black Rastafarian Elvis. And we got her that. On paper it was such an odd match but it worked!”
Fred professes to know instantly if a couple click. He’s written a book called The Art of Love and is often asked for romantic advice. But Fred’s never had a blind date and cites only once having had his heart broken – at 16.
“I’m no more expert than anyone else. But I am always candid, considerate and measured. I put myself in people’s shoes; try to see the situation from a 360-degree angle.
“A lot of people have fears, are held down by a chain with a bullet. But it’s about remembering you only have one life and doing what is right for you.”
Fred’s also a fervent amateur boxer who “spars” daily – and he gives back to society with charity work.
But all this raises the question of why he felt the need to go into TV.
“How could I not? It’s fun and what a great job to have! You are there at the inception of something beautiful,” he says.
“Life’s all about taking opportunities as they come along and doing your best. I hate the words ‘try’, ‘but’, ‘why’, ‘double-check’. They just denote failure. It’s easy to be average. I have no time for this. We can all be who we want to be.”
As for advice about romance he says: “I believe just a phone call or a text are lovely. Nice everyday things are enough, and not just for your partner. Show love to all you care for.”
First Dates Hotel begins on Channel 4 at 22:00 GMT on 8 January.
Shuga Band, a Lagos-based 14 piece group, led by Shuga (Akinloye Tofowomo) is ready to roll out the drums as it celebrates 20 years of undiluted live music performances in Nigeria.
The Band, which was established about 20 years ago after Shuga’s exit from Pintus, an upscale bar in the highbrow Allen Avenue, Ikeja, back in the days, remains one of the best bands that had maintained a high standard of live music performances.Best known for her up-tempo secular flair, swing-beat, RnB , dance tunes, oldies, country, traditional, soulful arrangements among others, Shuga band is not only rated as one of Nigeria’s number one functioning bands, but also as a group committed to the highest standard of excellence and professionalism.
Shuga (Akinloye Tofowomo
According to Akinloye Tofowomo, “This year, the Shuga Band will be celebrating 20 years of professional and undiluted live music in Nigeria. It will be an all-year celebration and we sure can’t wait to dish out activities we have lined out for you.”
A widely travelled band, the band has featured in many high profile events such as ECOWAS Heads of States Dinner, Mike Adenuga’s daughter’s wedding among others. It consists of young and talented musicians who see music more as a passion than a trade. They bridge the gap between the young and the old at parties, rendering legendary old school tunes and blending them with African flavours. It is expected, 2018 will be a bumper year for the group.