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Comcast’s Universal Sphere Opens in Philly, Features Spielberg Short Film

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For months it remained hidden behind black cloth, but now the massive sphere inside the Comcast Technology Center is open to the public and ready to wow the masses.

And you can get your Universal Sphere tickets here.

Located on the Center City Philadelphia skyscraper’s second-floor lobby, the 34-foot tall, 39-foot in diameter Universal Sphere is imposing and impressive on the exterior, but inside is where it really shines, providing a free, immersive cinematic experience for those who enter through its automated sliding doors.

Featuring the short film “The Power of I” — for which Steven Spielberg was the executive producer — the sphere invites guests to explore the power of ideas.

“It is emotional, and it makes you think that every person really can make a difference in this world with the ideas that they have,” said Comcast employee Teresa Tellekamp after experiencing the sphere for herself.

People who enter the giant indoor orb will be seated on a raised platform that moves as an overhead screen envelops them while projecting the film. The film itself seeks to inspire and show how ideas can grow and evolve into life-changing inventions that both change and save lives.

“Ideas are our superpower. They’re the very thing that makes us human,” the film’s narrator says as the screen flashes images of ideas that have had a profound impact on people.

The film includes the story of leukemia patient Emily Whitehead, whose life doctors fought desperately to save at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Doctors thought the little girl would die until, through a “Hail Mary” idea, they decided to treat her with a drug originally intended for arthritis.

The treatment worked, and Whitehead is now in remission and thriving.

“I had tears in my eyes. It’s just amazing,” Emma Klein said after watching the film.

Comcast expects to host 30 screenings a day, with a maximum of 25 guests per screening. Screenings will take place Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Though ticket reservations aren’t required, people looking to go at a specific time can reserve same-day tickets at theuniversalsphere.com. For more information on the experiences in the Comcast Center Campus, click here.

Comcast is the parent company of this NBC station.

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TV Personality Jesse James Offers Reward for Return of Dog

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Reality TV star Jesse James is offering a $5,000 reward for the return of one of his beloved dogs.

James in an Instagram post says the 6-year-old French bulldog named Coco went missing in the Newport, Rhode Island area last Tuesday.

In a previous post James had offered a $2,000 reward for the return of his dog “no questions asked.”

He said in that post Coco “only has eyes for me and won’t want to stay with anyone else.”

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

James, founder of West Coast Choppers motorcycle customizing business, was the star of “Jesse James is a Dead Man” on Spike TV and “Monster Garage” on the Discovery Channel.

He says there have been reported sightings of the dog but none have panned out.

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Woodstock 50: How the Golden Anniversary Festival Went Off Track

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When the organizers of Woodstock’s 50th anniversary festival put the rock band Hollis Brown on the lineup, lead singer Mike Montali was elated. 

“It’s such an iconic and legendary thing, man,” Montali said, referring to the paisley-printed, mud-splattered 1969 original. “For us, a couple of guys who started our band in a garage in Queens a few years ago, getting on the bill of a Woodstock festival was a huge achievement. It was a dream come true.” 

But now, less than a month before Woodstock 50 is scheduled to begin, the event is in doubt, plagued by a series of behind-the-scenes money headaches and legal setbacks. 

The festival has lost its financial backer, key producing partners and at least one venue, and tickets have not even been put up for sale yet for the Aug. 16-18 concert dates. The parallels to 2017’s calamitous Fyre Festival have not been lost on online skeptics.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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South African Musician Johnny Clegg Dies at 66 After Cancer Battle

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Johnny Clegg, a South African musician who performed in defiance of racial barriers imposed by the apartheid system decades ago and celebrated its new democracy under Nelson Mandela, died Tuesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 66.

The British-born singer sometimes called the “White Zulu” died peacefully at home in Johannesburg with his family there, his manager Roddy Quin told the state broadcaster. “He fought it to the last second.”

Clegg’s multi-racial bands during white minority rule attracted an international following. He crafted hits inspired by Zulu and township harmonies, as well as folk and other influences.

One of his best-known songs is “Asimbonanga,” which means “We’ve never seen him” in Zulu. It refers to South Africans during apartheid when images of then-imprisoned Mandela were banned. Mandela was released in 1990 after 27 years in prison and became South Africa’s first black president in all-race elections four years later.

Grammy-nominated Clegg “impacted millions of people around the world,” Quin said. “He played a major role in South Africa getting people to learn about other people’s cultures and bringing people together.”

The singer learned about Zulu music and dancing as a teenager when he hung out with a Zulu cleaner and street musician called Charlie Mzila. Clegg later explored his idea of “crossover” music with the multi-racial bands Juluka and Savuka at a time of bitter conflict in South Africa over white minority rule.

Clegg recorded songs he was arrested for and “never gave in to the pressure of the apartheid rules,” his manager said. The apartheid-era censorship also restricted where he could perform.

The musician was performing as late as in 2017, high-kicking and stomping, with the cancer in remission during one last tour called “The Final Journey.”

At a concert in Johannesburg that year, Clegg said that “all of these entries into traditional culture gave me a way of understanding myself, helping me to shape a kind of African identity for myself, and freed me up to examine another way of looking at the world.”

In December, Clegg told South African news channel eNCA that the “toughest part of my journey will be the next two years” and called himself an “outlier” in an interview that mused about mortality.

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The performer had been diagnosed with cancer in 2015, and the grueling treatment included two six-month sessions of chemotherapy and an operation.

“I don’t have a duodenum and half my stomach. I don’t have a bile duct. I don’t have a gall bladder and half my pancreas. It’s all been reconfigured,” he told reporters in 2017.

In that interview, Clegg recalled how he performed “Asimbonanga” during a tour of Germany in 1997 and experienced a “huge shock” when Mandela, beaming and dancing, unexpectedly came out on stage behind him.

“It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world. And at peace with myself,” Mandela said to the audience. He called on Clegg to resume the song and urged all in the audience to get up and dance. At the end of the song, Mandela and Clegg, holding hands, walked off stage.

“That was the pinnacle moment for me,” Clegg recalled. “It was just a complete and amazing gift from the universe.”

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