Thursday, February 23, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 2287
  • Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017
Oscars made strides, but Octavia Spencer wants more growth 
This feb. 6, 2017 file photo shows Octavia Spencer at the 89th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, Calif. Spencer is nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in "Hidden Figures." (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Even though Octavia Spencer is pleased with the record number of blacks nominated for acting Oscars this year, she's still disappointed by the lack of recognition for other people of color.

"Diversity doesn't mean just black," Spencer said in a recent phone interview to promote her new film, "The Shack," which comes out March 3. "I'm excited that more black people are being recognized. That's what I would like to see arrive for other people of color, because they are so valued and underserved. I think when we ask the public, the paying public, to support films that don't portray them on-screen, that's hypocrisy."

Spencer is one of six black actors up for an Academy Award at Sunday's ceremony. Dev Patel, who is of Asian descent, is nominated for best actor. Spencer is nominated for her role in "Hidden Figures," which is nominated for best picture.

The diverse slate is a far cry from the past two years, when all-white acting nominees led to the social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and a national conversation on race in Hollywood. It also compelled Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of The Academy, to implement a plan restructuring the organization's membership to try and make it more reflective of women and minorities.

These days, Spencer has her own production company and believes she could be one of Hollywood's "biggest producers" in the near future. Spencer wants to create a lane for women and people of color to share their untold stories in film, much like "Hidden Figures." She played the role of Dorothy Vaughn, a pioneering black mathematician who worked at NASA. When she won the Academy Award six years ago for best supporting actress, she played a maid in "The Help."

"We are multifaceted people," said Spencer. "Yes, women of color served in people's kitchens and cleaned people's houses. But there are African-American doctors, scientists and lawyers. ... Those are the types of stories that we also want to see presented in film."

Stories with a historical perspective resonate with her the most. She's developing a series about entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, one of the first female millionaires in the United States (she will also star in it), and co-producing a HBO series about the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana.

The actress said her production company won't be limited to telling black stories.

"If it's a white story that hasn't been told, it'll be told," she said. "If it's a story about a Latin American, Asian-American, (I'll) tend to tell it."

While Spencer prepares for the Oscars on Sunday, she also has the release of "The Shack" on the horizon. She plays God in the film adaptation of the novel by William P. Young; the book is about a father's renewed faith following his daughter's death.

The film caught some backlash from some white Christians angered by the depiction of God as a curvaceous black woman. But Spencer said it's based on the perception of main character Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington).

"This young boy was abused and so the relationship with this one male that should've protected him was fractured," said Spencer. "And then a man takes his daughter from him. The only woman to show him kindness was a woman who looked a lot like me. So that's why God manifested (in the flesh) and revealed himself to this young man was in a way he would actually receive it."

  • Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017
Judge blocks California law on posting actors' ages 
Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, Calif.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

A California law that restricts a popular Hollywood website from posting actors' ages raises First Amendment concerns and does not appear likely to combat age discrimination in the entertainment industry in any meaningful way, a federal judge said Wednesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria granted IMDb.com's request to block AB 1687 while the website's lawsuit challenging it winds through the courts.

Chhabria said the law prevented IMDb from publishing factual information on its public website, and the state had not shown it was necessary to combat age discrimination in Hollywood.

"It's not clear how preventing one mere website from publishing age information could meaningfully combat discrimination at all," the judge said.

The law — authored by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier — took effect in January and allows actors and other industry professionals to force IMDb to take down their ages.

IMDb said in court documents it shared the goal of preventing age discrimination, but the law wouldn't achieve that goal and would instead "chill free speech and undermine public access to factual information."

The state attorney general's office has said the Legislature had determined that existing anti-discrimination laws were not enough to eliminate age discrimination in Hollywood. It cited comments by Calderon that actors were concerned that they would be shut out from parts based on age bias.

The state attorney general's office did not immediately have comment on the ruling.

Calderon has said the bill was aimed at protecting lesser-known actors and actresses whose ages are not as readily available as bigger Hollywood stars.

The law was supported by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which said in a statement the ruling simply represented an early skirmish in the legal fight.

"SAG-AFTRA will continue to fight until we achieve for actors and other entertainment industry professionals the same rights to freedom from age discrimination in hiring enjoyed by other workers in other industries," said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union's chief operating officer and general counsel.

Chhabria said there are likely "more direct, more effective, and less speech-restrictive ways" of fighting discrimination in Hollywood.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017
Shooting gets underway for Han Solo "Star Wars" film 
In this undated image provided by Lucasfilm, cast members and co-directors of the Han Solo "Star Wars" spin-off pose for a photo, from bottom left, co-director Christopher Miller, Woody Harrelson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, co-director Phil Lord and Donald Glover. (Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Alden Ehrenreich has taken control of the Millennium Falcon. The Han Solo "Star Wars" spinoff has begun production.

The Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday that shooting began at London's Pinewood Studios on Monday. To kick off the untitled Han Solo movie, the studio released a photo of the cast at the controls of the Millennium Falcon.

Ehrenreich plays a younger version of Harrison Ford's iconic smuggler and is seated amid cast members including Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Donald Glover, who plays Lando Calrissian.

The film is directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who helmed "The Lego Movie." In a statement they said, "We can't think of anything funny to say, because we just feel really moved, and really lucky."

Disney will release the film in May 2018.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017
Hungary's Berlin film fest winner Enyedi to adapt novel 
Director Ildiko Enyedi, winner of the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival for “On Body and Soul,” speaks about her film at a press conference at the Toldi Cinema in Budapest on Feb 21, 2017. (Mohai Balázs/MTI via AP)
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- 

The Hungarian director whose "On Body and Soul" won the top award at the Berlin Film Festival says her next project is an adaptation of "The Story of My Wife," a 1942 novel by Hungarian writer and poet Milan Fust.

Director Ildiko Enyedi also said Tuesday that she welcomed the national film fund's support for her work and that of a wide range of Hungarian directors and writers, some of whose films have recently won prizes at international festivals. "Son of Saul" by Laszlo Nemes won the Oscar last year for best foreign-language film.

"I see an intelligent and wise strategy on part of the Film Fund in that they are motivated primarily by professional aspects to help the films," Enyedi said. "The creators are able to bring mature works to the table and that is very significant."

"On Body And Soul," a love story about two slaughterhouse workers who connect in shared dreams, is Enyedi's first feature film since 1999. It won the Berlin Film Festival's Golden Bear award on Saturday.

Enyedi has been critical of the cultural policies and perceived democratic shortfalls of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government. She said that while her opinions had not changed, she regretted if they distracted from the success of the film.

"We've made a beautiful film for everyone ... and I wish we could enjoy what we have put so much work into," Enyedi said. "I don't think it's up to any culture policy to declare what is good or not."

Enyedi's film won several other prizes in Berlin, including one from the Ecumenical Jury she said was particularly meaningful.

"It means that we achieved our goal of reaching many different kinds of people," Enyedi said. "My mother is Lutheran, my father was Jewish, my husband is Catholic ... and our children are ecumenical in their very existence."

Enyedi, 61, won the Golden Camera award in Cannes with her 1989 debut film, "My 20th Century."

  • Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017
Issa Rae feels "validated" by Black Women in Hollywood honor 
In this July 30, 2016 file photo, Issa Rae, star of the HBO series "Insecure," poses for a portrait during the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

When Issa Rae watched Oprah Winfrey being honored at Essence magazine's Black Women in Hollywood Awards last year, the actress hoped she would one day be recognized in the same fashion. But she didn't think it would come this soon.

Rae, Janelle Monae, Aja Naomi King and Yara Shahidi will be honored Thursday in Los Angeles at the magazine's 10th annual awards. Past honorees include Oprah Winfrey, Viola Davis, Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer.

"I used to say, 'It would be so cool to be up there,' but I didn't imagine it now," Rae, creator and star of HBO's "Insecure," said in a phone interview. "I was thinking maybe after a couple more films, a couple TV shows under my belt. ... That's really what I thought. It's just so encouraging to be awarded so early in my career. But that's what Essence does. It gets behind and supports black women. Now I feel like I can be on that journey."

This year's awards recognize "Hollywood's Next Generation."

Singer-actress Monae starred in two films up for best picture at the Oscars, "Hidden Figures" and "Moonlight." King is featured on television's "How to Get Away With Murder" and Shahidi appears on the sitcom "black-ish."

"These women are making their own waves," said Vanessa K. De Luca, editor-in-chief at Essence. "We think about who's had a stellar year. We think about who's been working quietly behind the scenes forever and deserves recognition. We think about who are going to be the women to pick up the mantle. We think about who are new and next. This year, we are taking a look at the new Hollywood."

De Luca said the awards provide an opportunity for the actresses to network with each other. She said many carve out time in their schedules to make sure they attend the awards, an event Winfrey has called "a sacred place" for black women.

Rae is one of them. The actresses-writer-director calls the event a "bonding experience."

And she feels validated by the recognition.

"It shows I'm on the right path," she said. "This is basically telling me, 'Hey girl, You're up next.'"

  • Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017
Kraft Heinz withdraws $143B bid to buy Unilever 
In this June 24, 2010, file photo, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, speaks at the Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York. U.S. food giant Kraft Heinz Co. is confirming that it’s made an offer to buy Europe’s Unilever and been rejected. The company said Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, that talks are ongoing with the Dutch company, but that no deal can be assured. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Ketchup maker and packaged food giant Kraft Heinz has withdrawn a $143 billion offer to buy Unilever, backing away after the mayonnaise, tea and seasonings maker rejected the bid as too low.

The companies announced the decision Sunday in a joint press release, saying that Kraft Heinz has "amicably" abandoned the offer.

The deal would have combined Kraft Heinz brands such as Oscar Mayer, Jell-O and Velveeta with Unilever's Hellman's, Lipton and Knorr. The merged company would have rivaled Nestle as the world's biggest packaged food maker by sales.

Analysts say Kraft Heinz, co-headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, is still in the market for acquisitions. The fact that it bid for all of Unilever and not just its food business indicates that Kraft Heinz is potentially open to acquiring other packaged consumer goods, one analyst said.

Unilever, which has a head office in London, also has a stable of personal care brands such as Dove soap. Unilever rejected the offer on Friday, but despite that, Kraft Heinz said at the time that it was still interested in the deal.

Such acquisitions might not lead to big changes that customers would notice on supermarket shelves, but shifting tastes are partly driving deal-making in the food industry.

Part of the challenge is the proliferation of smaller food makers marketing products that seem more wholesome, which makes it harder for the established companies to drive up sales simply by selling more of well-known products or by raising prices, as they have in the past.

"That obviously has its limits," said David Garfield, head of the consumer products unit at consulting firm AlixPartners, said last week.

Instead, major packaged food companies are being forced to dig deeper to find cost efficiencies or tap into new markets, Garfield said. That can include mergers that result in consolidated manufacturing systems, or that give companies access to distribution networks in regions of the world where they don't have a big presence.

  • Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017
James Earl Jones, Donald Glover cast in director Jon Favreau's "Lion King" remake
In this Jan. 8, 2017 file photoi, Donald Glover poses in the press room with the award for best performance by an actor in a television series - musical or comedy for "Atlanta" at the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

James Earl Jones and Donald Glover are lending their voices to Disney's upcoming remake of "The Lion King."

Director Jon Favreau announced the casting of the two men as voice actors. Glover, star and creator of television's "Atlanta," will portray the adult Simba. Jones reprises the role of Simba's father, Mufasa, which he voiced in the 1994 animated film.

Favreau is making a CGI created live-action version of the movie, similar to Disney's remake of "The Jungle Book," which he also directed. No release date has been publicly set for the new movie.

A similar process is being used for "Beauty and the Beast," which debuts next month.

Favreau has directed "Iron Man," ''Iron Man 2" and is again producing the next two "Avengers" films.

  • Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017
Angelina Jolie in Cambodia for premiere of her film "First They Killed My Father"
Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie sits with child actress Sareum Srey Moch, left, and actor Mun Kimhak, right, during a press conference in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. Jolie on Saturday launches her two-day film screening of "First They Killed My Father" in the Angkor complex in Siem Reap province. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
SIEM REAP, Cambodia (AP) -- 

Angelina Jolie said Saturday that she hopes her new film about Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge will help educate the world about the brutality of the 1970s regime and shed a light on the plight of young people in war zones today.

"First They Killed My Father" is based on author and human rights activist Loung Ung's account of her survival as a child under the 1975-79 communist Khmer Rouge regime, believed to be responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians from starvation, disease and execution.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of the film's premiere, the actress-turned-director said she hopes the movie will "remind everybody that there are little Loung's all around the world today" in various war zones and corners of the world.

"Her story is their story and so this is, in many ways, universal, and we hope that that is something that you think about as well," said Jolie, who directed the film and co-wrote the screenplay with Loung.

Jolie has had an affinity for Cambodia since she began goodwill work for the U.N.'s refugee agency in 2001, and her eldest son, Maddox, 15, was adopted from the country. She also has established a foundation to promote social development in rural Cambodia.

However, the Hollywood superstar stressed that Cambodia's history is not just the war.

"I hope that the young people, when they see this film, that yes, they will learn part of their history, but I hope they also see - I hope all of you see - that this is a country of talent and art and love and beauty," Jolie said.

Maddox worked on the production of the movie, which was shot on location in Cambodia in late 2015 and early 2016. Jolie said that Maddox is very proud of his Cambodian heritage and that she and her children see Cambodia as their "second home."

"The children are very close to the children who are in the film and, in fact, many of them are best friends," she said. "So, they're simply happy to be back with their friends. Maddox is happy to be back in his country."

The film, a Netflix original production, will be shown on the streaming service later this year.

Jolie's previous directorial projects include the 2015 marriage drama "By the Sea," in which she starred alongside then-husband Brad Pitt, and the 2014 survival story "Unbroken."

  • Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017
Hungarian film "On Body and Soul" wins Golden Bear in Berlin 
Hungarian author and director Ildiko Enyedi poses for photographers after her "On Body and Soul" won the Golden Bear for Best Film at the awards ceremony of the 67th Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, Saturday Feb. 18 2017. (Britta Pedersen/Pool Photo via AP)
BERLIN (AP) -- 

A Hungarian love story about two slaughterhouse workers who connect in shared dreams won the top award Saturday at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

"On Body and Soul" by writer-director Ildiko Enyedi contrasts the harsh reality of the abattoir with the magical world of slumber.

Enyedi was previously best known for her 1989 debut film, "My 20th Century," which won the Golden Camera award in Cannes that year.

The Golden Bear had been expected to go to the comedy "The Other Side of Hope," which instead earned veteran filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki a Silver Bear for best director. The film sees a young Syrian refugee befriending a grouchy Finn, with Kaurismaki's deadpan humor delivering poignant messages about the horrors of war and the current refugee crisis in Europe.

The jury award went to "Felicite," a film by French-Senegalese director Alain Gomis about a singer in a Congolese night club.

South Korea's Kim Min-hee received the best actress award for her role in "On the Beach at Night Alone," about a woman coming to terms with the end of an affair.

Georg Friedrich from Austria was named best actor for "Bright Nights," in which he portrays a father trying to reconnect with his teenage son.

"A Fantastic Woman" by Chilean director Sebastian Lelio received a Silver Bear for best screenplay, shared with Gonzalo Maza. It tells the tale of a transgender woman mourning for her dead lover even as most of those around her remain unwilling to empathize.

The jury also awarded Dana Bunescu a prize for outstanding artistic contribution for her editing of "Ana, mon amour," about a Romanian couple struggling to make their relationship work despite mental illness.

A final Silver Bear award for features that "open new perspective" went to movie "Spoor," a murder mystery set in rural Poland.

  • Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017
Ad agency the community opens London office
Pictured (l-r) are the community's Joaquin Molla, Mark Hunter, Luis Montero and Jose Molla (photo by Giselle M. DeVera).
LONDON -- 

The community, a cross-cultural, global creative ad agency that’s part of the Publicis family, is opening an office in London.
 
Based on Great Titchfield Street, the new office launches with a small group of clients, including Tesco Mobile and Britain’s Beer Alliance. In addition, the London agency recently won a global pitch for a leading beauty brand in partnership with the Miami office.
 
This expansion comes off the back of several successful years for the community (still la comunidad in Buenos Aires), which has seen the agency nearly triple in size. 2016 was the agency’s biggest year yet, posting over 50% growth fueled by existing clients and key new business wins such as General Mills and Verizon. The agency has also continued to build on its creative reputation by amassing more than 100 awards in the last 12 months alone and a Grand Prix in Cannes in 2015.
 
“The community’s expansion into London isn’t just the product of growth, it’s the product of something bigger,” said agency co-founder Joaquin Mollá. “José and I have respected the work from the UK  our entire career and admired how involved clients are in making great ideas come to life. It’s a dream come true to open in London and be a part of that dynamic.”
 
“We always believed that our approach to culture was relevant on a global level,” said co-founder José Mollá. “What better way to make that a reality than opening an office in London.”
 
The office opens its doors in the UK with Mark Hunter as executive creative director. He will lead the creative effort in London and help grow the community into a truly global, culturally-driven creative boutique. Hunter was a partner and chief creative officer at Deutsch LA while also serving stints at TBWA\London and Havas London.

The community believes that today’s world is more culturally complex and digitally savvy than ever, especially with younger generations. This reality has a profound impact on brand-building and has changed the nature of the problems brands are trying to solve.
 
“These guys live at the intersection of creativity, culture and technology,” said Gaston Legorburu, chief strategist at Publicis.Sapient and executive sponsor for the community, “It’s what’s been driving their growth in the Americas. It’s not a specialty; it’s just who they are.”

Headquartered in Miami, the community also maintains offices in New York and Buenos Aires. The shop has created work for such brands as Verizon, BMW, VW, Google, Sauza and Hornitos Tequilas, Apple, Converse, Corona Extra, Modelo Especial and ESPN.