First Ever Global Mobile Talent Competition to Award $USD1 Million

Today, MEGASTAR announced the launch of its global talent competition with eight-time Grammy award-winning superstar Usher as the Creative Director, Head Judge, mentor and investor. MEGASTAR is set to be the world’s largest crowdsourced talent competition.

The innovative mobile competition features performers of any category from around the world competing to win $USD1 million, a role in a film produced by John Baldecchi and a variety of small cash prizes.

“What’s great about MEGASTAR is that it empowers both the Performers and the Fans. It provides talented people a free platform where they can get global exposure without the traditional gatekeepers.  It also puts the power in the hands of fans to express opinions and make decisions more than ever before,” said Usher.

“The mobile competition will also give people with many different types of talent a chance to win a life-changing grand prize. I am excited to help curate some of the best talent that we have not yet seen and bring them to the worldwide stage.”

With a long history of mentoring, Usher is the perfect fit for Megastar’s celebrity mentor to guide the contestants through the competition.

“We are absolutely delighted to have Usher invested in both the product and the outcome of MEGASTAR. His career spans over 24 years already and he has inspired so many artists.

He has so much experience, training and industry knowledge to impart on our Performers and his insights are invaluable to singers, dancers and performers in general,” commented Managing Director/CEO and Co-Founder of MEGASTAR Dion Sullivan.

MEGASTAR provides performers of all kinds with a global stage to showcase their talents and puts the audience in charge of who rises and falls. The Fans call the shots, share their voice and decide who should be the next MEGASTAR via voting on the MEGASTAR App.

MEGASTAR is available to download for free on the App Store and Google Play.   Our first worldwide competition is live and now open to audition submissions from residents of the Australia, US, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa and New Zealand.

For more information about MEGASTAR, visit the App’s social channels on Facebook and Instagram.  For complete audition rules, visit

Source: Megastar

Cast announced for Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black

Academy Award® nominated director Bruce Beresford (Breaker Morant, Driving Miss Daisy, Mao’s Last Dancer ) has assembled an incredible Australian and international cast for Ladies in Black , the longawaited big screen adaptation of Madeleine St John’s 1993 best -selling novel, The Women in Black .

The film will star Julia Ormond (Mad Men ) as Magda Szombatheli, the charming and sophisticated Slovenian ОmigrО, Angourie Rice (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Beguiled, Every Day ) in the role of Sydney schoolgirl Lisa Miles and Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones, Red Dog, Transformers) in the role of Fay Baines.

Also joining the cast are Alison McGirr (Thirty) as Patty Williams, Vincent Perez (Queen Margot, Cyrano de Bergerac) as Magda’s Hungarian husband Stefan,  Ryan Corr (Holding the Man) as Rudi; Susie Porter (Seven Types of Ambiguity ) and Shane Jacobson (The Dressmaker) as Lisa’s parents, Mrs and Mr Miles; with  Noni Hazlehurst (A Place to Call Home) as Miss Cartwright.

In the feel-good film, Ladies in Black, high-fashion and glamour are the catalyst for a positive, indelible change in a young Sydney woman’s life. Set in the summer of 1959, when the impact of European migration and the rise of women’s liberation is about to change Australia forever, a shy schoolgirl (Lisa) takes a summer job at the grand city department store, Goode’s, while awaiting the results of her final exams. There she meets the “ladies in black” – the glamorous Goode’s employees.

Beguiled and influenced by Magda, the vivacious manager of the high-fashion floor, and befriended by fellow sales ladies Patty & Fay, Lisa grows from a bookish girl to a glamorous and positive young woman, and she herself becomes a catalyst for a cultural change in everyone’s lives.

Bruce Beresford said that he is “thrilled to have assembled such a talented cast,  who will bring to life wonderfully the varied characters from Madeleine St John’s novel.”

Previously of the production, Beresford has noted “I’ve been obsessed with making a film of Madeleine St John’s The Women in Black since I first read the novel about 15 years ago, after being told about it by Clive James, who had also been at Sydney University with Madeleine and myself.

I was attracted by Madeleine’s wit, her light touch, her deft characterisations and her portrayal of a Sydney I knew so well – the Sydney of the 1950s and ‘60s  – a time when the whole of Australia began to change because of the influx of European migrants (most of them escaping a depressed war-ruined Europe), who brought a whole range of talents (and invariably delicious cuisine) that created the successful multi-cultural society of the Australia we live in today.”

The film is produced by Allanah Zitserman and Sue Milliken. The screenplay was adapted from the novel by Beresford and Milliken.

Ladies in Black is due to film in October 2017, in Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

Source: Ladies in Black

Sydney Dance Company, Looking to the Future

“Our vision for the future will see Sydney Dance Company further cement its position as one of the world’s leading contemporary dance companies, expanding our reach and inspiring Australians’ love of dance.

Thanks to the NSW Government’s world-class renewal of Pier 4 as part of the redevelopment of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct and the incredible support and commitment of our donors, we are looking forward to this exciting new chapter for Sydney Dance Company.” Karen Moses, Sydney Dance Company Chair

Sydney Dance Company is delighted to announce a world-class revitalisation of their home at Pier 4 as part of the landmark redevelopment of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct under the NSW Government.

Working hand in hand with Create NSW and key Government stakeholders, Sydney Dance Company has welcomed the vision of the precinct rejuvenation, launching its largest and most successful Capital Campaign to achieve philanthropic support to help fund the redevelopment of its studios and facilities.

Sydney Dance Company’s campaign has already achieved $5.5 million of its initial $7 million target and is well on the way to reaching this goal thanks to the extraordinary commitment and generosity of donors including the foundation support of the Mordant, Neilson and Wales families.

Minister of the Arts, Don Harwin said, “We are investing heavily in Walsh Bay because we see the homes of many of our Major Performing Arts Groups as special places and that obviously includes Sydney Dance Company. We want this to be a thriving arts precinct and community. We are looking forward to delivering this project to the people of NSW so that our companies can be the best in Australia and some of the best in the world.”

The Company will be moving from the Wharf to a custom designed studio in inner city Ultimo to make way for the construction phase of the project in 2018.

Pier 4 has been our home since 1985 with the historic Wharf now synonymous with Sydney Dance Company. The studios have been home to generations of renowned dancers, choreographers and performances that have brought worldwide acclaim.

Over that time we have taught hundreds of thousands of people to dance as students and nurtured and developed our reputation as Australia’s national contemporary dance company.

On the brink of its 50th anniversary in 2019, the redevelopment heralds the next exciting phase of the Company’s history.

Kerr Neilson of The Neilson Foundation said, “The Neilson Foundation is delighted to support the work of Sydney Dance Company at this exciting point in its history. We believe that thoughtful philanthropy can assist well-managed organisations; and that our support will help draw attention to the importance of dance to the community.”

What will the redevelopment of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct look like for Sydney Dance Company?

Studio 5, The Neilson Studio – made possible thanks to the generous support of the Neilson Foundation: A unique, purpose-built studio overlooking Sydney Harbour Bridge, a multi-purpose space for artistic endeavour and community outreach.

Four upgraded dance studios, where new work is created by the Company and independent artists. Young dancers are trained and participants both young and old are taught to dance.

Studio 2, The Joan Barrie Studio – A Generous Gift From Catriona and Simon Mordant: The Company’s main rehearsal studio

Studio 4, The Wales Family Studio: The Company’s Pre Professional Year trainee dancer studio

State-of-the-art digital technologies to ensure that we reach audiences across the world.

Gym and physiotherapy facilities to support the wellbeing of our dancers.

Production facilities to support the presentation of our work.

Reconfigured café and foyer space.

Refurbishment of the administration offices

SDC Board member Catriona Mordant said, “We have admired the Sydney Dance Company for many decades and under the passionate artistic direction of Rafael Bonachela and being a Board member under Karen Moses’s leadership we are delighted to support the revitalisation of SDC’s home at The Wharf.

My mother Joan Barrie was involved in dance all her life and it is fitting that with Simon and my support, Studio 2, being the company’s main rehearsal studio, will be named after her. “

Where will Sydney Dance Company relocate?

While the redevelopment is underway, the Company and the Studio classes will be moving to a custom designed studio in Ultimo, a 15 minute drive from the Wharf and a 10 minute walk from Central station near Broadway Shopping Centre.

Sydney Dance Company will continue to provide a wide variety of popular dance classes along with short courses and workshops. The relocation will not affect attendees of Sydney Dance Company’s shows in Sydney, which will continue to be performed at the Roslyn Packer Theatre.

Tony Wales of The Wales Family Foundation said, “The Wales Family is thrilled to be able to support this project, the artistic vision of Rafael Bonachela and his passion for nurturing the next generation of Australian contemporary dancers. Sydney Dance Company has been at the forefront of defining contemporary dance for decades and we are proud to contribute to this legacy by ensuring that the strong tradition of pushing the boundaries of creativity continues for generations to come.”

More information on the wharf transformation can be found on our website

Virgin Australia AFL Grand Final Party

Current and former sporting stars and their partners, celebrities, and the who’s who of the business and media worlds walked the black carpet at the Virgin Australia AFL Grand Final Party.

The annual event, a highlight of the Toyota AFL Grand Final Week celebrations, this year was themed ‘Urban Utopia’ with a Hong Kong twist, to celebrate Virgin Australia’s launch of direct Melbourne to Hong Kong services.

Known for its extravagant theming, stellar guest list, and the very best in food, beverages, and entertainment; guests experienced virtual reality installations, palm readers, and a surprise performance by much-loved Australian singer/songwriter Daryl Braithwaite, who sang his classic hit, Horses.

Also making a grand entrance was Premiership Cup ambassador, Brent Harvey, who carried the prized Cup into the party.

Guests included: 

A host of current and former AFL players

Gillon McLachlan, AFL CEO

Nicky Whelan and Kerry Rhodes, Australian actress & former-NFL player

Kylie Brown, Brisbane Lions triple Premiership player and media personality

Chris Judd, media personality and two-time Brownlow medallist

Ksenija Lukich, E! News presenter & model

Jamie Robbie Reyne and Mia Woolrich, actor & musician

Natalie Roser and Harley Bonner, model and actor

Billy Brownless, former AFL player & media personality

Lincoln Lewis, actor

Olivia Rogers, Miss Universe Australia

Nathaniel Willemse, singer/songwriter

Catherine Skinner, gold media Olympian

Rob Mills, singer/songwriter & actor

Layne Beachley and Kirk Pengilly, champion surfer and INXS front man

Ricky and Rianna Ponting, former Australian cricket captain

Bruce and Chyka Keebaugh, The Big Group

Source: Virgin Australia

Twitter experiments with 280 character Tweets

Trying to cram your thoughts into a Tweet – we’ve all been there, and it’s a pain. Interestingly, this isn’t a problem everywhere people Tweet. For example, when I (Aliza) Tweet in English, I quickly run into the 140 character limit and have to edit my Tweet down so it fits.

Sometimes, I have to remove a word that conveys an important meaning or emotion, or I don’t send my Tweet at all. But when Iku Tweets in Japanese, he doesn’t have the same problem. He finishes sharing his thought and still has room to spare.

This is because in languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.

We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean).

Although this is only available to a small group right now, we want to be transparent about why we are excited to try this. Here are some of our findings:

We see that a small percent of Tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters (only 0.4%). But in English, a much higher percentage of Tweets have 140 characters (9%). Most Japanese Tweets are 15 characters while most English Tweets are 34.

Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people Tweeting in English, but it is not for those Tweeting in Japanese. Also, in all markets, when people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting – which is awesome!

Although we feel confident about our data and the positive impact this change will have, we want to try it out with a small group of people before we make a decision to launch to everyone. What matters most is that this works for our community – we will be collecting data and gathering feedback along the way. We’re hoping fewer Tweets run into the character limit, which should make it easier for everyone to Tweet.

Twitter is about brevity. It’s what makes it such a great way to see what’s happening. Tweets get right to the point with the information or thoughts that matters. That is something we will never change.

We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too. But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint. We are excited to share this today, and we will keep you posted about what we see and what comes next.

Written By Aliza Rosen, Product Manager and Ikuhiro Ihara, Senior Software Engineer

Source: Twitter