Thursday, June 29, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 2495
  • Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2017
LeBron James teaming with Showtime on NBA documentary
In this July 13, 2016, file photo, NBA player LeBron James speaks at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
CLEVELAND (AP) -- 

LeBron James will help tell a story he's still shaping.

The Cavaliers superstar is teaming with Showtime on a documentary that will examine the modern NBA and the league's impact on popular culture. James, who has been producing TV and movie projects for several years, will serve as an executive producer with long-time business partner Maverick Carter.

The three-part documentary will be directed by filmmaker Gotham Chopra and premiere in 2018.

James has become one of the game's most transcendent players. The 32-year-old recently led Cleveland to its third straight Finals — his seventh consecutive trip. The three-time champion continues to play at an amazingly high level after 14 pro seasons.

"We developed the idea for these films because of the incredible, generational impact some of the NBA's most successful players have had on every aspect of American culture," said Carter, CEO of SpringHill Entertainment. "Gotham is the perfect filmmaker to bring these stories to life, and Showtime is the right platform to showcase how they were able to transcend the game and shape the culture in an unprecedented way."

Chopra previously produced and directed a successful documentary on Kobe Bryant.

"Despite the fact that I am a Boston Celtics fan to the bone, collaborating with Maverick and LeBron was an inspired opportunity," he said. "Sports in general and specifically the NBA provide a great backdrop for storytelling. But these films offer us a chance to go beyond that; to weave a broader cultural narrative in our current social climate."

  • Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2017
Film academy invites 774 new members including Barry Jenkins, Leslie Jones, Dwayne Johnson
"Moonlight" writer-director Barry Jenkins
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

The film academy is inviting 774 new members to join its ranks, including actors Leslie Jones, Dwayne Johnson, Riz Ahmed, Chris Pratt and Anna Faris.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed its latest invitees on Wednesday.

Other actors invited to join the group include Priyanka Chopra, Janelle Monae, Elle Fanning, Donald Glover, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Betty White, Terry Crews, John Cho, Zoe Kravitz and "Wonder Woman" herself, Gal Gadot. Several "Saturday Night Live" alumnae also received invites: Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph and current star Kate McKinnon.

"Moonlight" writer-director Barry Jenkins was invited to join both branches, as was "Get Out" writer-director Jordan Peele. "Hidden Figures" director Theodore Melfi and documentarian Ezra Edelman, who won an Oscar for "O.J.: Made in America," also received invitations.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Justin Timberlake, Nick Cave, Terry Lewis, Jimmy Jam and "La La Land" composers Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Justin Hurwitz were invited to the music branch.

The film academy reports the new class of potential members is 39 percent female and 30 percent non-white. The organization has been diversifying its ranks after two years of #OscarsSoWhite and criticism of its overwhelmingly white and male voting body.

  • Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2017
LA City Council oks plans for George Lucas museum
Filmmaker George Lucas, left, and his wife Mellody Hobson listen to remarks at a news conference outside Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

The Force was with George Lucas on Tuesday as the Los Angeles City Council moved with lightsaber speed to clear the way for a $1.5 billion Museum of Narrative Art the "Star Wars" creator plans to build down the road from his alma mater.

After hearing from Lucas himself, the council voted 14-0 to approve an environmental impact report and other requirements for the museum's construction adjacent to the University of Southern California.

"For a very brief time I actually grew up here," said Lucas, who earned a degree in film from USC. "That's where I learned movies. That's where I learned my craft. Basically where I started my career was in school here."

Lucas said his museum won't just focus on movies, however, but on the entire history of narrative storytelling, from the days of cave painting to digital film.

"I realized that the whole concept of narrative art has been forgotten," he told the council.

With Tuesday's approval, plans are to break ground in Exposition Park, south of downtown, as early as this year and open the museum to the public in 2021. The city says the project will cost taxpayers nothing because Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, are footing the bill.

"It is the largest private gift in our city, in our state or in our nation's history," said Councilman Curren D. Price Jr., whose district takes in the park.

It will feature all forms of narrative storytelling, said the museum's president, Don Bacigalupi. He said its exhibits will include story boards, costumes, props and various other elements that went into making "Casablanca," ''The Wizard of "Oz" and other classic films.

And, yes, there will be plenty of cool "Star Wars" stuff there too.

"Everything from Luke Skywalker's first lightsaber to Darth Vader's costume and helmet," said Bacigalupi.

The Lucas-Steven Spielberg "Indiana Jones" films also will be represented.

Numerous interactive programs for children, film students, academics and others will be offered.

Lucas said he hopes the museum will serve as inspiration to people of all ages, but especially to children, encouraging them to create a better world.

Popular art, he said, is the glue that holds people together, that teaches them that while we may have differences we have similar aspirations.

In addition to USC, the Museum of Narrative Art will be within close proximity to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the California Science Center and the California African American Museum.

Although Lucas' affection for USC is clear — he and his foundation have given the school tens of millions of dollars over the years — it was once assumed he'd put his museum in his hometown of San Francisco. Or if not there, then his wife's hometown of Chicago.

But when it came time to clear away all the bureaucratic hurdles, just like the upstart Rebel Alliance in "Star Wars," it was Los Angeles that prevailed.

"I wanted to put it in my hometown. They said no. Mellody wanted to put it in her hometown. They said no. We were both basically heartbroken," Lucas said.

"And then we said, 'All right, let's clear the boards and find a place that really wants it.'"

  • Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2017
EU fines Google a record 2.4 billion euros in antitrust case
European Union Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
BRUSSELS (AP) -- 

The European Union has slapped a record 2.42 billion euro ($2.72 billion) fine on internet giant Google on Tuesday for taking advantage of its dominance in online searches to direct customers to its own online shopping business.
European regulators gave the company based in Mountain View, California, 90 days to stop or face fines of up to 5 percent of the average daily worldwide revenue of parent company Alphabet. Google says it is considering an appeal.

The European Commission, which polices EU competition rules, alleges Google elevates its shopping service even when other options might have better deals.

The Commission said Google "gave prominent placement in its search results only to its own comparison shopping service, whilst demoting rival services. It stifled competition on the merits in comparison shopping markets."

"What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters.

Google maintains it's just trying to package its search results in a way that makes it easier for consumers to find what they want.

"When you shop online, you want to find the products you're looking for quickly and easily. And advertisers want to promote those same products. That's why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both," Kent Walker, senior vice president at Google, said in a statement.

"We will review the Commission's decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case," he said.

The fine is the highest ever imposed in Europe for anti-competitive behavior, exceeding a 1.06 billion euros penalty on Silicon Valley chip maker Intel in 2009.

But the penalty is likely to leave a bigger dent in Google's pride and reputation than its finances. Alphabet has more than $92 billion (82 billion euros) in cash, including nearly $56 billion (50 billion euros) in accounts outside of Europe.

Vestager said the Commission's probe, which started in 2008, looked at some 1.7 billion search queries. Investigators found that on average even Google Shopping's most highly-ranked rivals only appeared on page 4 of Google search results. Vestager said that 90 percent of user-clicks are on page one.

"As a result, competitors were much less likely to be clicked on," she said.

More broadly, Vestager said, the probe has established that Google is dominant in general internet search in all 31 countries of the European economic area. This will affect other cases the Commission might build against the internet giant's various businesses, like Google Images.

She also noted that regulators are making "good progress" in its other Google probes into Android and search advertising, and that the "preliminary conclusion" is that they breach EU anti-trust rules.

 

  • Saturday, Jun. 24, 2017
Google to stop reading your Gmail to help sell ads
This March 23, 2010, file photo shows the Google logo at the Google headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Google is going to stop reading your Gmail in search of opportunities to sell ads.

The change announced Friday will end a practice that Google has embraced since the company introduced Gmail in 2004. The practice has raised concerns among privacy watchdogs and creeped out some users.

To help finance the free service, Google has been scanning through what Gmail users were discussing and then showing ads connected to some of the topics. Someone writing about running, for instance, might see ads for Nike or Asics shoes.

Google still plans to show ads within Gmail. But instead of scanning through email content, the company's software will rely on other signals to determine which ads are most likely to appeal to each of its 1.2 billion Gmail users.

The Mountain View, California, company said it would stop the ad-driven scanning of Gmail later this year.

Google says it's changing course so its free Gmail service operates more like the subscription version that it has sold to more than 3 million companies. The paid Gmail doesn't include ads, so the company has never tried to scan the content of those users' emails for marketing purposes.

Despite that, Google said some of its business customers incorrectly assumed the company was scanning those accounts as well. By ending all scanning, Google hopes to end the confusion and sell Gmail to even more businesses.

Gmail now ranks as the world's largest email service, an indication that most people didn't care about Google's scanning methods. Both Microsoft and Apple have publicly skewered Google for having the audacity to mine users' emails for ad sales, but those attacks didn't undercut Gmail's popularity.

  • Saturday, Jun. 24, 2017
Lauren Hutton to be honored at Maine film festival
In this April 13, 2016 file photo, Lauren Hutton attends the Tribeca Film Festival opening night world premiere of "The First Monday in May" at John Zuccotti Theater at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York. Hutton is going to be this year’s honoree at the 20th annual Maine International Film Festival. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) -- 

Lauren Hutton is going to be this year's honoree at the 20th annual Maine International Film Festival.

The 73-year-old actress, model and producer will be awarded the Mid-Life Achievement Award next month in Waterville, Maine.

Festival programmer Ken Eisen told the Morning Sentinel  that Hutton was part of what he described as a golden age of American filmmaking in the 1970s and that she broke the rules for aging by modeling nude at age 61.

She'll receive the award July 20 at the Waterville Opera House where her movie "American Gigolo," also starring Richard Gere, will be shown.
 

  • Saturday, Jun. 24, 2017
Michael Moore releases Traverse City Film Festival lineup
This image provided by Dog Eat Dog Films shows director Michael Moore in a scene from his 2016 documentary, "Where to Invade Next." (Dog Eat Dog Films via AP)
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- 

Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore won't be around for a Michigan film festival that he founded but the show will go on.

Moore has announced the lineup for the 13th annual Traverse City Film Festival, which runs from July 25-30. It will include 117 feature films and other events.

Moore usually makes personal appearances at the festival. But this year, he'll be in New York for his one-man Broadway show called "The Terms of My Surrender."

The Traverse City fest will have plenty of movies with political themes.

The "Travel Ban Sidebar" will consist of what Moore calls seven "daring and beautiful stories that celebrate our connected world," an apparent reference to the Trump administration's policies on travel to the U.S. by people from predominantly Muslim nations.

For the complete schedule, click here.

  • Friday, Jun. 23, 2017
Freshman series "Downward Dog" canceled by ABC
In this Jan. 8, 2015 file photo, Allison Tolman arrives at Audi Kicks Off Golden Globes Week 2015 at Cecconi's in West Hollywood, Calif. The producer of ABC’s freshman series “Downward Dog,” which stars Tolman, says the comedy has been canceled after eight episodes. (Photo by Omar Vega/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

ABC's freshman sitcom "Downward Dog" has been canceled by ABC, the show's executive producer said.

The last two of the show's eight episodes will air Tuesday, executive producer Jimmy Miller said Friday.

ABC "loved it creatively and wanted to do more, but could not figure out a way to get it done financially," Miller said in a statement.

The network didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Miller thanked critics and viewers who have expressed their support for the comedy, and said he hoped it would land on its feet elsewhere.

"Clearly this show has hit a nerve, and we are hell bent on finding a new home for our 'Downward Dog,'" he said.

The series stars Allison Tolman as the owner of Martin the dog, who talks directly to viewers about his feelings. The series centers on his sometimes conflicted feelings about his owner, loneliness and hatred of a neighborhood cat.

Series co-creator Samm Hodges is the voice of Martin.

Tolman was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2015 for her role on the FX series "Fargo."

  • Friday, Jun. 23, 2017
Cannes Lions looks to future with formation of advisory committee
Philip Thomas, CEO of Ascential Events, organizers of Cannes Lions
CANNES, France -- 

Cannes Lions announced the creation of an advisory committee to help shape the future of the Festival and ensure it continues to respond to the needs of the industry. Comprised of major advertisers, partners, agency networks and the Mayor of Cannes, the committee will be a platform for stakeholders in the event to share their views and recommendations around all aspects of the Cannes Lions experience.

Commitments have already been received from Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of Procter & Gamble, Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer, Unilever, Fernando Machado, head of brand marketing, Burger King, Fiona Carter, chief brand officer, AT&T, and Jan Derck van Karnebeek, chief commercial officer at Heineken, with more members to be announced soon.

“As well as clients who have offered to help shape the future of the Festival, we will – as usual – consult with all global creative leaders, heads of holding companies and other major partners,” said Philip Thomas, CEO of Ascential Events, organizers of Cannes Lions. “There have been a lot of discussions this week about the structure of the Festival, and we want to create the right Cannes Lions experience for all participants. The thing that unites them all is their belief in creativity as a powerful force in the world, and this is at the heart of everything we do.”

Pritchard added, “We attend Cannes Lions to focus on creativity to drive growth. It’s the right time to step back and take a look at the best way forward for Cannes Lions to provide the best possible platform for creativity in our industry, and P&G is ready and willing to help.”

“Cannes Lions has always been a force for good in promoting creativity as a core driver of our businesses”, said Derck van Karnebeek. “We are committed to assist where we can in charting the right way forward.”

Speaking on the timeline of committee activity, Thomas added, “The full list of members will be announced soon and the first meeting will take place shortly after the Festival. We look forward to sharing the committee’s recommendations with the global creative community, and we’re excited to see the ideas produced by this deeper collaboration.”

  • Friday, Jun. 23, 2017
Ron Howard takes helm of Han Solo "Star Wars" film
In this April 24, 2017 file photo, filmmaker Ron Howard arrives at the premiere of "Genius", in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Ron Howard is taking command of the Han Solo "Star Wars" spinoff after the surprise departure of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.

Lucasfilm announced their replacement director Thursday, two days after Lord and Miller left the project over creative differences. Howard gives the reeling production a veteran hand in the wake of Lord and Miller's exit in the midst of shooting.

Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said filming will resume July 10. The untitled film, which stars Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo, is about three-quarters of the way through production. It has several weeks of shooting left, along with reshoots.

Howard has shepherded Oscar winners like "A Beautiful Mind" and "Apollo 13." But his recent films, including the "Da Vinci Code" sequel "Inferno" and "In the Heart of the Sea," have struggled at the box office. He also has some history with Lucasfilm. He helmed the 1988 fantasy "Willow" and starred in George Lucas' 1973 breakthrough "American Graffiti."

"We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie," said Kennedy.

Disney reiterated the film's release date of May 25 next year, suggesting that — at least for now — the "Star Wars" spinoff will be released on schedule. Representatives for the studio declined to comment.

How producers and the Directors Guild of America handle the film's directing credit will also be closely watched. DGA rules govern the crediting of directors.

Lord and Miller had previously been considered among Hollywood's most sought-after directors, having turned "The Lego Movie" and "21 Jump Street" into unexpected and widely praised comedy hits. But reports have circulated that the duo, who favor improvisation and irreverent humor, clashed with Kennedy and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, a "Star Wars" veteran and executive producer.

"Unfortunately, our vision and process weren't aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren't fans of the phrase 'creative differences' but for once this cliche is true," the directors said earlier in a joint statement. "We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew."