Game of Thrones petition: GOT filmmaker responds to criticism – ‘It’s really tough’

Game of Thrones season eight was bound to leave HBO and Sky Atlantic viewers torn as to how the series came to an end. However, nobody could have foreseen a petition being started after the GOT finale requesting season eight be remade with “competent writers”. With the Change.org petition garnering a staggering 1.6million signatures and counting, director of Game of Thrones: The Last Watch Jeanie Finlay has spoken out about the fan reaction and backlash the series received.

Game of Thrones: The Last Watch provided an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at just how season eight was made.

The HBO documentary details just how much effort, work, sacrifice and even tears went into creating such a spectacle.

It’s the hard-working individuals in The Last Watch that have found the response to season eight “tough”, Finlay exclusively told Express.co.uk.

Finlay said: “I think it’s really tough. I think it’s hard. You know people work really, really hard and put their heart and soul into it and they do it because they believe in the show and they want it to connect with an audience.

“I think Game of Thrones is always going to elicit strong emotions and reactions in people because everyone’s invested, it’s 10 years of their lives in it.

“At the moment, I’d be interested to see how people feel about the show in a month or six months.”

The GOT film-maker also described how the passion shown by fans is what made the show the phenomenon it is now, even if it did turn sour towards the end.

Finlay added: “The fans have made the show, they responded to the scale and ambition of production,

“But also that (means) you can have strong opinions, you can feel partizan about it.

“You know, people have strong opinions but that’s what makes it exciting. How do you know somebody’s not watched Game of Thrones? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

“People take pride in not watching it and then the people who do watch it feel it in their bones and the petition is just an extension of passion.”

In the wake of the petition, several cast and crew members have also spoken out.

Sansa Stark actress Sophie Turner labelled it “disrespectful” for fans calling season eight be remade.

Speaking to the New York Times, Turner said: “All of these petitions and things like that…

“I think it’s disrespectful to the crew, and the writers, and the film-makers who have worked tirelessly over 10 years, and for 11 months shooting the last season. Like 50-something night shoots.

“So many people worked so, so hard on it, and for people to just rubbish it because it’s not what they want to see is just disrespectful.”

In Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, a number of hard-hitting scenes show just how much the HBO series meant to the cast and crew.

Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, was left in tears at the finale table read.

His co-stars Emilia Clarke and Lena Headey, who play Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister respectively, were also left visibly moved.

Harington also spoke publicly about reacting to criticism of the final ever series of the George RR Martin-created fantasy.

In a frank statement to Esquire, Harington said: “I think no matter what anyone thinks about this season – and I don’t mean to sound mean about critics here – but whatever critic spends half an hour writing about this season and makes their [negative] judgement on it, in my head they can go f*** themselves.”

Despite the backlash, the Game of Thrones season eight finale remains the most watched episode on HBO ever with millions tuning in.

GOT fans who missed out on the final episodes can watch again online via NOW TV.

Game of Thrones season 8 is available to watch on NOW TV now.

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Who is Sam Gyimah? Former Science Minister joining Tory leadership race after quitting over Theresa May's Brexit deal

SAM Gyimah is the thirteenth Tory to step forward to fill Theresa May's shoes.

But will it be unlucky 13 for the former Science Minister who resigned over Theresa May's Brexit deal? Here's his story.

Is Sam Gyimah joining the Tory leadership race?

Yes he is. On June 2, 2019, Gyimah put his ring into the hat saying: "I will be joining the contest to become the next Conservative leader and Prime Minister to broaden the race.

"There's a very narrow view of Breixt being discussed… there's a broad sweep of opinion in the country, it's not being reflected in the contest at the moment."

He added: "The current plan is not working. It's not what we want, it's not what we like.

"No Deal will be an abject failure.

"In the referendum campaign people were promised a deal. In our election manifesto, people were promised a deal."

Who is Sam Gyimah?

Sam Gyimah was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, in 1976.

When he was six-years-old, his parents split up and his mother returned to her native Ghana with him and his younger brother and sister while his father remained in the UK.

For the next ten years, Gyimah attended Achimota School in Accra, Ghana.

Gyimah returned to the UK to sit GCSEs and A-levels at Freman College, a state school in Buntingford, Hertfordshire.

He then went on to Somerville College at the University of Oxford, where he read politics, philosophy and economics, and was elected President of the Oxford Union.

After university he worked for Goldman Sachs before leaving to set up a recruitment company.

He was elected to Parliament as Tory MP for East Surrey in 2010.

He has been married to Dr Nicky Black since 2012, and they have a son and a daughter.

He supported remaining in the European Union in the EU referendum.

Gyimah served as the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation from January 2018 until he resigned on November 30, 2018.

Why did he resign?

Gyimah became the seventh member of the Government to quit in protest at Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

He plunged the PM into deeper turmoil by branding her plans “naive”.

And he said any future deal Britain struck with Brussels under her proposals would be “EU first”.

Mr Gyimah argued that the PM’s deal — to be voted on by MPs on December 11 — would not be in the national interest and would “set ourselves up for failure”.

He said the final straw was the failure to strike a deal with the EU to keep us fully in its Galileo global satellite programme.

His departure could trigger an exodus of up to ten further ministers — which could prove fatal for the PM.

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BREAKING: Liverpool team lands at John Lennon airport after Champions League victory

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Apple Announces Revamped User Interface for Apple TV

Apple introduced a new version of tvOS for at its worldwide developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, Calif. Monday. The new version of tVOS comes with a redesigned user interface as well as multi-user support, allowing Apple TV owners to access personal content recommendations for each and every household member.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new version of tvOS as part of a plug for Apple TV+, the company’s paid video streaming service that is slated to debut later this year. “We completely redesigned the home screen,” he said about tvOS. The company didn’t give any updates on availability and pricing of Apple TV+, but it did share a trailer for its show “For All Mankind.”

In addition to a new interface, Apple TV will also get access to Apple Arcade, the company’s upcoming game streaming service. The company again didn’t share any new details on pricing and availability, but Cook did share that Apple TV users would be able to play games on the device with a variety of game controllers, including Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers.

Another feature shown on stage ties into Apple Music, the company’s streaming music service. With the new update, Apple Music subscribers will be able to read the lyrics of a song while playing it on their Apple TV. The app will also make use of multi-user support for personalized music recommendations.

Developing.

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Pregnant Charley Webb’s debilitating diagnosis as she rules out home birth

Pregnant Charley Webb has revealed she's been diagnosed with an agonising condition as she shares her fears about giving birth.

The Emmerdale actress, 31, is seven-months pregnant with her third child and says husband Matthew Wolfenden was hoping they could have a home birth.

But as well as suffering from extreme morning sickness, Charley has now been diagnosed with symphysis pubis dysfuntion (SPD), which causes debilitating pain in his pelvis and back.

"I still get waves of sickness but I’ve also been diagnosed with SPD. It’s when your muscles have relaxed too much ready for the birth. It’s agony," she told OK! magazine .


"Matthew’s up for a home birth but I’d like to be in a hospital for the sake of my own anxiety, in case anything went wrong."

Charley shared pictures of her baby shower, which was attended by co-stars including Emma Atkins (Charity Dingle) and Lucy Pargeter (Chasity Dingle).

But while Matthew wants '10 kids if he could', Charley admits she finds pregnancy tough going.

"I’d be lying if I said I really enjoy the experience of getting bigger but I appreciate what my body is doing. I think pregnancy is amazing," she added.

The actors are already parents to sons Buster, eight, and Bowie, three, and are gearing up to welcome their latest addition in July.

And while they've decided not to find out the gender to give their kids a big surprise, Charley previously said she's got an inkling.


"Buster was so desperate for Bowie to be a boy and he was, so it would be nice to have that same thing for Bowie. It doesn’t matter to me at all," the Debbie Dingle star told the mag.

The couple delivered the happy news to their sons on Christmas Day, when Charley was 11 weeks pregnant.

They sweetly attached a note to a teddy bear present, which read, "Please give this to your baby brother or sister when they arrive in July, love Santa."

The couple met when Matthew joined the show four years after Charley in 2006.


"They once told us they were considering it and we were the first to ring up and ask for it not to happen!" Matthew told OK!.

"It's too much – living with each other, working with each other and then being romantically linked in the show together. Also, they are characters who wouldn't suit,” Charley agreed.

He popped the question on Christmas Day in 2009, and finally after a nine year engagement, the couple invited friends and family – including Charley's actor brother Jamie Lomas – to her '30th birthday party' in February 2018, only to surprise them with a wedding.

"That moment when we announced what we were doing and seeing everybody’s reaction is the best moment of my life," she told OK! magazine.

Read the full story in this week's OK! Magazine – out today

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Palme d’Or Winner ‘Parasite’ Has Massive Korean Opening, Stomping ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

Bong Jong-ho’s “Parasite” followed its Palme d’or win this weekend with a South Korean home country debut of $25 million. That represented close to 70% of the total national business — and on a weekend that also saw “Aladdin” in its second weekend and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” opening (to only a little over $2 million there).

To put that in perspective based on population size compared to the US/Canada domestic total, that would be similar to a nearly $200 million debut here. The initial number looks to have come close to the record for biggest opener ever (“The Admiral: Roaring Currents” in 2014 grossed $26 million, unadjusted).

Bong Joon-ho

IAN LANGSDON/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

The Cannes winner — recognized locally as a major honor for the country and industry, with Bong treated to a hero’s welcome when he arrived at the Seoul airport — is a rare Palme victor to have this sort of immediate local response. But it is also only a difference in degree for Bong as a popular filmmaker at home. Two earlier films — “The Host” (2006) and “Snowpiercer” (2014) had openings adjusted in the $15-20 million+ range. His genre films are considered mainstream entertainment there, as opposed to more niche and specialized in the west (although “Snowpiercer” was an international production, with Chris Evans as its lead and a majority of its dialogue in English, and his later “Okja” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, and Lily Collins (and shown worldwide on Netflix), though set in South Korea.

“Parasite” is Bong’s return to his domestic roots, including a local-flavored plot dealing with class and economic disparity, and darkly comic along with dramatic elements. Though of a piece with his earlier works, its more serious overall tone and less reliance on special effects suggests that the Cannes win was critical in elevating it ahead of his earlier films’ initial strong response.

It’s tricky from an American perspective to think of a Cannes win as such a big deal. Still, there are precedents for a winner from other nations followed by an elevated domestic interest. “Shoplifters,” last year’s winner, ended up grossing $38 million in Japan (it opened two months later though). With Japan’s population more than double South Korea’s, though, the initial “Parasite” response is far more emphatic.

Other recent winners have had more delayed home country play. “The Square” debuted in Sweden in late August (summer is a notoriously unwelcome movie playing time in Nordic regions). “I, Daniel Blake” didn’t make it to the U.K. until October — even though it debuted in continental Europe just after its Cannes play. Although many French Cannes competitors time their openings parallel to their festival play (in some cases in theaters the same day), their two most recent winners — “Blue Is the Warmest Color” and “Amour” — waited months for their planned release.

"The Tree of Life"

“The Tree of Life”

Criterion

Among the multiple American winners, the sole case of an immediate U.S. debut was Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” (many winners including “Taxi Driver” and “MASH” came after they’d already opened). Fox Searchlight, capitalizing on the director’s strong fan base and the intense interest in his first film in six years, had a scheduled platform release just a week after its win. The timing added to its initial strong (adjusted over $400,000 gross in four theaters), although the film ended up falling short of $15 million in at its widest a quite limited 235 theaters. The added value of the Palme only had a narrow constituency.

The most significant aftermath, and also quickly (only a month after) went to Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Lionsgate had rolled the dice with a June/summer release, and the added credibility of the award (and only the second documentary to win) added to the momentum for the much anticipated film. Incredibly, as recent as 15 years ago, it managed to take #1 in a crowded playtime (the adjusted gross was $35 million).

Other key American films that benefited from their wins were “Pulp Fiction” and “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.” Those two opened in October and August respectively (“sex” had earlier won at Sundance, making it doubly delayed). Both clearly were aided by their Palmes, but again, not the immediate response. This year, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” had it both won and then set to open, would have certainly seen a big impact. But since Cannes juries are totally unpredictable, and in its case its only initially (and possibly still not totally) completed made an immediate turnaround impossible.

“Parasite” though does show the still elevated reputation of Cannes in certain cases in most of the world, certainly much more than how American audiences respond. And the extra attention this gives it will only add to the anticipation for its October 11 limited start (Neon has it here) in the U.S. (logically timed to play at September film festivals and awards positioning). It opens this week in France with several other countries already scheduled for earlier release.

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Man Utd fan Meunier wants Old Trafford transfer ahead of Arsenal after attending several games this season

MANCHESTER UNITED fan Thomas Meunier is desperate to seal a move there instead of Arsenal – after watching his beloved side at Old Trafford this season.

The Paris Saint-Germain right-back, 27, has made the pilgrimage to Old Trafford a few times in the past campaign, according to respected journalist Kristof Terreur.

One fan joked that he felt sorry for Meunier having to watch Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side this season given the quality of their football.

But the good news is that doing so has apparently only confirmed his desire to sign for them and not rivals Arsenal.

The two Premier League big boys lead the chase for the £25million-rated Belgium star – who was also reportedly offered a contract by Everton.

Meunier, 27, is a childhood United fan and Solskjaer is said to be impressed by his versatility and attacking potential.

Terreur tweeted: "Belgian wing back Thomas Meunier is a wanted man. Unai Emery is pushing to get him to Arsenal. Man United have him on their list too.

"PSG are keen on selling him for the right fee.

"Meunier is a childhood United fan and even attended some games this season."

Some reports in Belgium claim Meunier is "very close" to completing a move to United, who finished last season in sixth, four points behind Europa League runners-up Arsenal.

However, it has also been claimed that Gunners boss Unai Emery made a personal approach to Meunier.

The Spaniard is using his previous ties with Meunier as boss of PSG to try to convince him to move to North London, say the Mirror.

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Love Island’s Amber Davies brands new 2019 Islanders fame-hungry

Amber Davies has dubbed the Love Island 2019 cast fame-hungry and insists everyone in the villa knows exactly what they're signing up for.

Amber, who won won Love Island 2017 with now-ex Kem Cetinay, was asked by Lorraine Kelly about ITV's duty of care towards its stars in the wake of Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis' tragic deaths.

The 9 To 5 stage star said she personally found the aftercare provided by the ITV2 show "amazing", and pointed out that "no-one's holding a gun to your head" when the Islanders apply to go into the villa.

"When you went in it was still quite new, people were going in there looking for love," Lorraine said on her show this morning. "Now though, are they not going in looking for fame?"


Amber replied: "I think it's inevitable. Now they know exactly what they're going in, and they know exactly what's going to happen when they come out.

"They're signing up for fame. We necessarily didn't sign up for fame, we didn't. So this year I think they know what they're going in there to do, they know what kind of money they're going to be coming out to."

Amber went on: "You do sign up for it yourself, you do know what you're signing up for, no-one's holding a gun to your head."

The 22-year-old star also claimed the life of fame isn't always what it's cracked up to be.

"It looks like we're living the dream but it's really not at times," she admitted. "Jobs are slim for reality stars at the moment. Your life changes completely when you come out."

Amber also addressed speculation she's due to sign up to BBC1 talent show Strictly Come Dancing this autumn, after finding success in the West End with the Dolly Parton musical.

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"I've seen this in the media, I'd love to do it but it's definitely not on the table," she confessed.

"Maybe in a couple of years. I'd love to do another musical – or Broadway! I've had more to prove because of the reality side, but the feedback I get from the fans, it's a weight off my shoulders. I'm looking forward for the next job."

*Love Island 2019 launches tonight at 9pm on ITV2

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No women are refereeing the Toronto Raptors finals. A look at females in male-dominated leagues

As the Toronto Raptors get ready to face off the Oakland’s Golden State Warriors’ in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, fans may see a lot of women in the stands but none on the court.

There are currently three female referees in the NBA but not one is officiating the finals. However, according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the number of female referees on the court could soon rise.

“It’s an area, frankly, where I’ve acknowledged that I’m not sure how it was that it remained so male-dominated for so long,” he said while speaking at The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. on May 9.

“Because it’s an area of the game where physically, certainly, there’s no benefit to being a man, as opposed to a woman, when it comes to refereeing,” he said.

Silver said he wants half of all new referees joining the league to be women and he would also like to see teams hire female coaches.

There has never been a female coach in the NBA, however, in 2014, Becky Hammon became the first woman to be hired as a full-time assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.

“The goal is going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league,” Silver said. “Same for coaches, by the way. We have a program, too. There’s no reason why women shouldn’t be coaching men’s basketball.”

Dawn Smyth with Canada Basketball said since Silver made the announcement, there’s been a noticeable change with the organization talking about gender diversity on the court.

“It’s like a door has been lifted a little bit in this sport,” she said. “It does not have to do with gender — he wants to put the best referees out there.”

Smyth has coached both men and women’s university basketball, and she said there “was no difference,” in each role.

“The only difference now is that the men involved in the hiring process may be more open to hiring females,” she said.

The NBA has had female officials since 1997, and in December, the Indiana Pacers made history by hiring the first woman to hold the title of assistant general manager in the NBA.

In this Jan. 9. 2015, file photo, referee Lauren Holtkamp makes a call during an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic in Los Angeles.

“The NBA has always been a progressive company, as it’s a lot more accessible to all ages and incomes,” Ellen Hyslop, co-founder of the Gist, a sports outlet written by women for women, said.

“We’re really excited to see what the commissioner is saying, as there’s no reason why there should not be more female coaches and refs in the NBA,” she said, adding that this should be practised in all professional sports.

So does the NBA’s gender diversity stack up with other professional leagues?

NFL

The NFL currently has one female official, Sarah Thomas. In January, Thomas became the first women to officiate an NFL playoff game. She also made NFL history in 2015 as the league’s first full-time female referee.

During the 2018-2019 NFL season, the league had 10 female coaches — three full-time and seven interns. That’s twice as many as in 2017.

And in March 2019, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made history by becoming the first NFL team to add two full-time female coaches to their staff.

NHL

There has never been a female referee in the NHL.

In 1995, Heather McDaniel made history when she became the first woman to officiate a men’s professional hockey game, working in the Central and West Coast hockey leagues.

Major League Baseball

There has never been a woman to umpire at the major-league level.

Bernice Gera was the first female umpire in professional baseball in 1972 after winning a sex discrimination lawsuit. However, she quit after her first game, citing a lack of co-operation from the other umpires.

Only a handful of women have umpired the minor league baseball, with the most well-known being Pam Postema, who umpired for 13 years. She also officiated an MLB spring training game.

Manager Tommy Lasorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers speaks with umpire Pam Postema during a Spring Training game in March 1989 in Vero Beach, Florida.

‘Stick to your own sport’

Although the number of women referees and coaches in professional sports is on the rise, the numbers are still low in the male-dominated industry.

“It can be intimidating from a coaching and reffing perspective,” Hyslop said. “There were a lot of haters and comments after the [NBA] commissioner made the statement,” she said, in reference to Silver’s comment that he wants 50 per cent of all new refs to be women. “Many were saying, ‘Stick to your own sport,’” she said.

“But this is ridiculous, as a majority of coaches in women’s sports are men. We are not telling men to stay in their own lane, but they are telling us to stay out of this,” she said.

In 1997, the NBA hired two female referees, Dee Kantner and Violet Palmer. But the move was met with scepticism by some players.

Charles Barkley, then a Houston Rocket, said at the time: “Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. I just hope they don’t have women officials. It’s the principle of the thing. I wouldn’t want a man doing a WNBA game.”

In 2015, Chris Paul, then playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, blasted referee Lauren Holtkamp for a call she made. After the game, Paul said to reporters, “This might not be for her.” He was fined $25,000 for the comment.

Another hurdle women may face in professional sports is the fact that by age 14, women drop out of sports at double the rate than their male counterparts, according to Hyslop. She said this could be due to social stigma or a lack of positive role models.

But organizations, like Canada Basketball, are hoping to close these barriers.

“There is a conscious effort to target young females to help them get training and experience so we can staff our national team with qualified females,” Smyth said.

“If you recruit females for coaching or officiating at 14, they have more of a chance of going into it.,” she said.

It’s also about the positive role models.

Hyslop said the female referees or assistant coaches heading into professional sports help break down the stigma and give young women a positive role model.

“The Toronto Raptors also have a lot of women in the organization, which is great. Masai Ujiri [president of the team] hires for diversity. The Raptors are one of the NBA’s most progressive when it comes to hiring women,” Hyslop said.

Hyslop and Smyth both have high hopes for the future of gender diversity in professional sports, and see the NBA’s push to recruit more women as a huge step forward.

“In those positions, it’s about knowledge of the game and confidence in the calls — and that defies gender,” Hyslop said.

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Kinsey Wolanski Instagram account closed after 'hack' following Champions League streak worth up to £3million in publicity

BUSTY blonde Kinsey Wolanski has had her Instagram account removed following her pitch invasion at the Champions League final.

The 22-year-old was promoting her boyfriend's X-rated porn and pranks site Vitaly Uncensored with her streak reportedly worth up to £3million in publicity.


Wolanski herself gained over two million followers on Instagram as a result of the stunt.

However her account then abruptly closed, with the model claiming she was hacked.

The Sun have contacted Instagram asking for comment why her account has been removed.

According to Sputnik News via Thick Accent, Vitaly Uncensored now boasts more than 32 million registered users and has raked in up to £3m in advertising as a result.

Russian-American YouTube star Vitaly Zdorovetskiy revealed he wants to marry Wolanski after she stole the headlines at the Wanda Metropolitano.

While he was also on hand to give her a cheeky slap on her bottom following her release by police.

Wolanski sprinted out from the Liverpool end in the 20th minute wearing a black swimsuit as she left all eyes on her.

And it wasn't just TV viewers that were mesmerised by Wolanski, as she joked that Harry Winks was distracted by her presence.

Earlier today, she took to Instagram where she thanked her fans for their support, as she stated she was going to give out 1,000 signed posters of herself.

 

She said: "You guys I can't even fathom what is going on right now, I feel amazing and so thankful, I really could cry.

"I really did this just because I really want to push myself out my comfort zone, I love that feeling – that adrenaline feeling and doing crazy things.

"I love to do crazy things all the time, but I never thought it would get to this scale and all of your support and messages and everything is so amazing.






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