Harry Styles Says He ‘Popped Very Quickly to Venice to Spit on Chris Pine’ During NYC Show

Harry Styles is in the midst of a Madison Square Garden residency of sorts, playing 15 shows (with interruptions for other events) at the venerated New York City venue. But he’s also at the dawn of a film career, with his two first significant cinematic roles – in My Policeman and Don’t Worry Darling – debuting this year following his small part in the 2017 war film Dunkirk.

And if you thought My Policeman – the flick where Styles plays a closeted gay policeman in the repressive 1950s – was going to steal the majority of the headlines, Twitter wags would like a word.

Don’t Worry Darling — the Olivia Wilde-directed drama starring Harry Styles, Florence Pugh and Chris Pine — might be justified in worrying about critical response, but it certainly can’t fret over publicity. While the psychological thriller currently holds a dismal 42% on Rotten Tomatoes despite a standing four-minute ovation at the Venice International Film Festival, there’s been no shortage of articles, social media posts and late-night jokes about Wilde’s second directorial effort, following her layered teen comedy Booksmart in 2019.

The chatter started with rumors of discord among the cast, but gossip was drooled by, err, fueled by, footage that many took to be a video of Styles projecting spit into Pine’s hands right before sitting down next to him. Absurd? Certainly. The idea that an internationally renowned, carefully manicured pop star who currently tops the Billboard Hot 100 and is at the start of his acting career would publicly indulge in a childish power move doesn’t track. But sometimes, Twitter commentary can function like an inspired Mystery Science Theater 3000 joke – once you’ve heard it, you can’t interpret the situation any other way, even though you’re fully aware that’s not what any of the original players intended.

Following the spit-cident, Pine’s rep said the fluidity of the speculation didn’t reflect the fluidity of the situation: “Just to be clear, Harry Styles did NOT spit on Chris Pine … there is nothing but respect between these two men and any suggestion otherwise is a blatant attempt to create drama that simply does not exist.”

During his Wednesday (Sept. 7) show, the “As It Was” singer laughed off the internet-made drama. “I just popped very quickly to Venice to spit on Chris Pine,” he told the crowd, who shrieked in response. “Fear not, we’re back.”

Will Harry’s joke about the situation finally quell the endless social media jokes? Or will Don’t Worry Darling be defined by non-existent expectoration? One thing is for sure: Cast Harry Styles in you movie, and you have a built-in option for changing the narrative when those middling reviews come in.

‘America’s Got Talent’ Locks-In Season 17 Finalists

After several months of tears and cheers, we’ve reached the final stage of America’s Got Talent 2022 and learned the ten survivors who’ll compete for the big prize.

The finalists were locked-in as the live shows came to a conclusion this week.

This year, 55 contestants were split into competing groups over five nights, with two going through on each occasion.

The penultimate night of performances opened with a recap of the 11 contestants from Tuesday night, and a few choice words from judge Simon Cowell.

“We are nothing without these contestants and for some reason this year, you are seeing some of the most astonishing live performances you have ever seen,” he explained.

“We’ll see what happens tonight, but I have a feeling we will end up with the most incredible finale.”

By night’s end, the 11 became five, then three. The lucky two to go through are Lebanese dance troupe Mayyas (winner of Sofia Vergara’s Golden Buzzer) and Australian pole dancer Kristy Sellars.

Mayyas and Sellars join a group stacked with musicians and singers, a crop that includes saxophonist Avery Dixon, vocal trio Chapel Hart, singer and guitarist Drake Milligan, and singer Sara James.

The qualifiers progress to the final on Sept. 13 on NBC, with the results due to be revealed the following night, Sept. 14.

They’re competing for the $1 million winner’s check and a chance to headline America’s Got Talent Las Vegas LIVE at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

SB19 Is Eyeing the Global-Pop Market & Bringing the Philippines Along: ‘Going International Is Not a Small Thing’

SB19 is the Philippines’ undeniable breakout pop group, but as their latest single and tour put them in a position for greater international attention, the band has a grander vision for themselves and their home country.

Filipino boy band SB19 features members Pablo, Josh, Stell, Ken and Justin, who mix mainstream sounds with Original Pilipino Music (known as OPM) in the country’s main languages of Tagalog and English. Since the quintet’s start in late 2018, the group have found an unprecedented amount of local attention, online interest and day-to-day exhaustion in pushing the country’s current pop renaissance to international borders. While the Philippines has yet to rank highly among the world’s largest music industries (it was the 41st largest market on the IFPI’s global music report in 2010), the staggering, social-fueled influence and interest of SB19 has helped the group and their country push boundaries even throughout the pandemic.

Billboard first highlighted SB19 in early 2020 as a mainstay on the Social 50 chart for rapidly growing online metrics across platforms (namely Twitter, but also Facebook and Wikipedia) fueled by consistent OPM singles like “What?” (with 17 million views on its official music video), “Alab (Burning)” and “Go Up” (both with 12 million views). By the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, the group earned a nomination for Top Social Artist alongside BTS, Ariana Grande, BLACKPINK and SEVENTEEN. Just as their fellow nominees have all made shrewd moves in entering the international market, SB19’s new single is their time to display the group’s global-pop vision.

Released on Sept. 2, “WYAT (Where You At)” is SB19’s shiny new disco-pop single that marks a slew of firsts for the group. Unlike their past OPM singles, “WYAT” is fully in English and plays off today’s trending disco sound that’s helped BTSLizzo and Harry Styles top the Billboard Hot 100. Co-written and produced by group leader Pablo, “WYAT” feels similar to BTS’ breakthrough No. 1 hit “Dynamite” for being all in English and embracing a nostalgic sound and message to uplift those affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the broader pop sound, the SB19 guys share that they have worked tirelessly and have participated with personal touches to ensure everything translates perfectly.

“Right now, everything’s a bummer,” explains Pablo, who handles most of the group’s songwriting and production, over an evening Zoom call in the Philippines. “This song is about reconnecting with people. It’s different when you go out, meet people, do interesting things — climb a mountain! I would give everything to go back to the situation before where you’re not worrying if someone coughs. The song is about going back to how it was: talking and meeting actual people, doing things together, just re-creating the feeling we had before.”

“When Pablo wrote the song, I asked him what he was imagining while he’s writing the song,” adds Justin, the youngest member who takes the lead on creative direction and group visuals. “From there, I tried to make a bigger concept out of it and, of course, I asked if the group likes it and what they can add.”

Along with its retro sound, the accompanying “WYAT (Where You At)” music video takes audiences out of a stressful 2022 and transports them back to times that can make audiences of all ages nostalgic.

“Going back to the ’50s, ’70s, and ’90s eras, we researched how to show it visually and make people feel the nostalgia of things they kind of miss,” Justin explains. “We know that most of our fans are young, but we also want to reach those who experienced those times and tell young people these are the things they did. We didn’t have computers or cell phones; they’d go roller skating, enjoy parties, and hang out in the diners and arcades. Nowadays, we are kind of disconnected because of all the digital and, of course, the pandemic. It’s not just in the music video, but we are trying to connect SB19 with everything — including our tour.”

With live concerts back and quarantine restrictions lifted for travel, SB19 see their upcoming WYAT Tour — which includes stops in Dubai, New York, Los Angeles and Singapore — as essential to spreading their message and creating opportunities for the country’s burgeoning music scene, particularly in the world’s biggest music market.

“It’s our first time going to the U.S. and we don’t know what to expect, but we are looking forward to meeting all the people, all of our fans, and of course, to find new, casual [fans] as well,” eldest member Josh adds. “We would love to promote Filipino music as well as our music.”

Pablo shares, “A lot of people here in the Philippines have relatives in the U.S. and most of the members have relatives in the U.S. so we hope that they enjoy our performance because as critical as our fans are, we’re also interested to what our relatives will say about our performances.”

Tying things back to family and their home country is a crucial focal point for SB19. The group has teamed up for local endorsement deals and recorded songs with major brands, including Pepsi, Samsung, Netflix, Dunkin’ and more but still has space to live a relatively normal life.

“The biggest thing I like about our situation right now is being able to provide for my family,” Pablo says. “I wouldn’t say we’re all celebrities like riding sports cars and all that stuff; most of us still take taxis. I ride a motorcycle. Everyone is still the same. We eat street food and people would recognize us, but they’re not overstepping our privacy. They are very respectful and we’re thankful for that.”

Yet SB19’s loose freedom as celebrities doesn’t mean the road here has been similarly lax.

Through forming and undergoing what the band calls “intense” training by management company ShowBT Philippines Corp, the local arm of Korean entertainment company ShowBT, and signing with Sony Music Philippines in late 2019, SB19 say they took it upon themselves to develop into pop dynamos.

“If I’m allowed to share, we didn’t have a choreographer or vocal teachers,” Pablo says of the group’s early days. “We are the ones who just made our own choreography and prepared new songs—we are the ones who have been doing that since now, and I think that’s the biggest thing that we are very proud of.”

“We didn’t have money, but now we can have money to buy food,” Stell, who leads the group in creating choreography, adds. “Maybe that’s the biggest transformation that happened to us.”

SB19 now have a larger local team including teachers and professionals focused on vocal training, performance, dance and fitness, helping them to put in the hours and physical exertion they deem necessary to reach superstardom.

“My body aches,” Ken, the quietest member with the most exacting words, says. “I want to be truthful with you: I don’t want to wake up and get out of bed. That’s the most honest thing I can say, but it’s so rewarding since we can see that we’re improving and it’s helping. Going international is not a small thing for us, but it’s the biggest opportunity that we have right now.”

That opportunity isn’t just about SB19 but representing their entire country and showing what modern-day OPM and the Pinoy pop sub-genre offer. While a surge of new boy bands and girl groups are entering the Pinoy-pop scene, like ShowBT female outfit and SB19’s “sister group” KAIA that dropped their debut single in April, Stell says these acts “define who Filipinos are—we can do a lot of things; not only by singing and dancing but also expressing who we are and where we came from.”

With its wider pop ambitions thanks to an undeniable chorus and multiple visual access points thanks to the video and styling, “WYAT (Where You At)” puts SB19 in the best position to grasp the international spotlight.

“Before I felt the pressure,” Pablo says of properly representing his country and culture. “But I love my work so much that I’m just enjoying our team, making music with them, creating choreography and performing in front of the people who love us. If I’m going to be pressured by all the things people are saying about our group, then I wouldn’t be able to focus and enjoy what I’m doing right now. Even though this is work, it’s important to enjoy ourselves and have a great time. And if you’re having a great time, of course, those people watching will enjoy it as well…I believe that what we have right now is special and if we continue like this, there are better things ahead.”

Adding to SB19’s enjoyment is the group’s undying, international support system of fans — officially known as A’TIN — who are helping spread the group’s music and message in equally unprecedented ways for Filipino artists. Earlier this year, SB19 made it into the final round of Billboard‘s 2022 Fan Army Face-Off and were narrowly beat out by K-pop band Stray Kids to land in second place among a tight competition in the fan-voted brackets. While SB19 will get a chance to repay some A’TIN in person when the WYAT Tour heads out later this month, the band see the work their fans are putting in worldwide.

“We hear that a lot of international fans always share about us with their friends, they tell good stories and promote our group in their countries like the U.S., Indonesia, in every part of the world,” Stell says, before Ken adds, “We’re looking forward to meeting our fans who have been supporting us from the very beginning of our journey. We’re thankful and can’t wait to show the things that we’re making right now and for the future to come. I hope that you guys will be there and enjoy it.”

Yet just like how SB19 say they are now able to provide for their immediate family, the guys know that A’TIN are the ones nurturing them to reach their necessary needs and expand on their global goals.

“I can say that A’TIN are not just fans or supporters; they are family to us,” Stell sums up. “Without them, SB19 would not be in a situation where we have this big opportunity to promote and show our talents to the world. We are very thankful to our fans and, of course, to all the people who are rooting for us. We are hoping for the best not only for our group, but also for the other teams here in the Philippines. Thank you for all the efforts and all the things that you’re doing for SB19.”

Ricky Martin Files $20M Lawsuit Against Nephew Who Accused Him of Harassment

Ricky Martin has filed a $20 million lawsuit against his nephew, claiming his younger relative tried to “assassinate” his reputation and integrity when he accused the singer of stalking and harassing him earlier this year.

According to legal documents obtained by Billboard, Martin — who filed the complaint in San Juan, Puerto Rico — says he is being “persecuted, besieged, harassed, stalked and extorted by a maladjusted person whose interest is to obtain an economic benefit.” He claims his nephew, Dennis Yadiel Sanchez, has messaged him via Instagram demanding money and also made his phone number public on social media, among other allegations.

Martin is asking the court to order Sanchez to “immediately refrain” from communicating with him and his family either in person, by phone or through social media. The “Tiburones” singer is also seeking $20 million in compensation, claiming he lost “multi-million dollar” deals as a result of the “false” accusations, which included an allegation that he and Sanchez were involved in a romantic relationship.

On July 2, Martin was served with a restraining order by a judge in Puerto Rico on behalf of Sanchez, who alleged he and Martin dated for seven months and that, after breaking up, the singer was seen loitering near his house at least three times. Martin subsequently denied the accusations via his lawyer Marty Singer, who issued a statement saying, “The idea is not only untrue, it is disgusting. We look forward to this awful case being dismissed as soon as a judge gets to look at the facts.”

Later that month, the legal case against Martin was dismissed after Sanchez withdrew his claims. The singer appeared before the court via Zoom to address the allegations and later issued an on-camera statement once the case was dismissed.

“I was victim of a lie,” Martin said at the time. “Unfortunately, the attack came from a family member … I only wish him the best, for him to find the light. A lie can cause so much harm. It harmed me, my husband, my kids, my parents, my family. I couldn’t defend myself because there was a legal process I had to follow where I had to be silent until I’d be able to speak to a judge. Today was the day. Now, it’s time for me to heal. I’m very hurt. I will find peace, the necessary silence to see the light again at the end of the tunnel, like I’ve always been able to.”

Billboard could not locate a contact for Sanchez or reach any lawyers representing him.

‘The Masked Singer’ Makes Major Format Changes for Season 8

Season 8 of The Masked Singer premieres later this month, and fans can expect some big changes to the hit reality show’s format when it does.

For the first time, each episode will feature a completely new round of masked celebs with only one contestant moving forward by the end of the hour. Plus, the audience will vote in-studio for their favorite performance of the night and the singer with the lowest tally will then unmask in the middle of the show before taking his or her place in the new Masked Singer VIP section to watch the rest of the episode.

Once the group is whittled down to the final two singers, they’ll go head to head with the same song for the title of King or Queen of The Masked Singer and move on to the next episode.

According to a release, the batch of episodes will also be filled with theme nights, including Vegas Night, Comedy Roast, Hall of Fame, Muppets Night, Andrew Lloyd Webber Night, TV Themes, ’90s Night, Thanksgiving and Fright Night.

The new format also makes room for more costumed celebrities than ever, with inventive getups like Scarecrow, Venus Fly Trap, Sir Bugaboo, Bride, Avocado, Hedgehog, Mummies and more, while returning judges Nicole Scherzinger, Jenny McCarthy, Robin Thicke and Ken Jeong will be joined by all-star guests for the season like Donny Osmond, Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Muppets, Will Arnett, Leslie Jordan, Joel McHale, Tori Spelling, Jon Lovitz, Jodie Sweetin, Carrot Top, Blue Man Group, Lance Bass, Danielle Fishel, Sheila E. and Drew Carey.

The new season of The Masked Singer starts September 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. Get a look at some of the biggest changes, costumes and performances to expect on the show below.