Thursday, June 22, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 2485
  • Thursday, Jun. 22, 2017
Focus Features acquires worldwide rights to drama "Boy Erased"
LOS ANGELES -- 

Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to Boy Erased, the coming-of-age and coming-out drama from writer/director Joel Edgerton based on Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family by Garrard Conley. Academy Award nominee Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) will star opposite Academy Award winners Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. The movie will be produced by Anonymous Content and will begin production this fall for a 2018 theatrical release. Focus chairman Peter Kujawski made the announcement.
 
The film will tell the story of Jared (to be portrayed by Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (Kidman and Crowe) at age 19. Jared is quickly pressured into attending a gay conversion therapy program--or else be shunned by his family, friends, and church. It is within the program that Jared comes into conflict with its head therapist (Mr. Edgerton).
 
“I’m excited to work with an ensemble of actors, seasoned and new, to bring Garrard’s story to the screen. I think Focus is the perfect partner on this, and I will always thank Garrard for trusting my passion for his life story. I can’t think of a better reason to get behind the camera again,” said Edgerton. 
 
Boy Erased is being produced by Edgerton and Anonymous Content’s Kerry Kohansky-Roberts and Steve Golin, an Academy Award-winning producer of Best Picture Oscar winner Spotlight. Executive producing the film are Rebecca Yeldham, Ann Ruark, and Anonymous Content’s Kim Hodgert and Tony Lipp. Josh McLaughlin, recently promoted to Focus president of production, will supervise the project for the company.
 
Conley’s book was first published last year by Penguin Random House, and was issued earlier this year in paperback. Edgerton has written the screenplay adaptation; Boy Erased will be his second feature as director following the sleeper hit The Gift (also produced by Yeldham), which earned him a Directors Guild of America Award nomination. He was recently a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nominee for his performance in Focus’ Loving.
 
Focus Features was honored in 2012 by Point Foundation, the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students of merit, with its Point Inspiration Award, given to a company or organization that champions respect and inclusion of the LGBT community and operates with the vision that investing in today’s potential will produce a brighter tomorrow.
 
Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2017, Focus Features has made and released Academy Award-winning LGBT-themed films including Beginners, Dallas Buyers Club, The Danish Girl, Milk, and Brokeback Mountain, the company’s all-time top-grosser.
 
Kujawski commented, “Garrard’s story is both timely and timeless, both personal and universal. It is a story which will not only deeply move people, but one that we hope will change outlooks. We are thrilled to work once again with Joel, and with the Anonymous Content team.  These filmmakers’ passion for this heart-rending project speaks to all of us at Focus, and to why we make the movies we do.” 

  • Wednesday, Jun. 21, 2017
Pablo Picasso named season 2 subject of National Geographic's "Genius" series
Pablo Picasso (photo by Arnold Newman/Getty Images).
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 

National Geographic announced that the second season of its acclaimed scripted anthology series "Genius" will chronicle the life and work of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, one of the 20th century’s most influential and celebrated artists. The new season, from Fox 21 Television Studios, will again be executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, Madison Wells Media’s OddLot Entertainment and EUE/Sokolow, and will premiere in 2018. The first season of "Genius," which concluded last night and centered on Albert Einstein, was watched by more than 45 million people around the world, and is National Geographic’s best performing new series launch ever.
 
The artistic career of Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso spanned more than 80 of his 91 years, much of it in his second home of France. Much like the subject of the first season of Genius--Einstein--Picasso imagined and interpreted the world in totally new and unorthodox ways, and constantly reinvented our perceptions of art and creativity. The prolific artist generated more than 50,000 works, among the most notable being The Old Guitarist from his Blue Period, now on display at the Art Institute of Chicago; Guernica, inspired by the Nazi bombing of a small Spanish town of the same name, currently on display at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain; and Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, inspired by lover and muse Fernande Olivier, now on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
 
His passionate nature and relentless creative drive were inextricably linked to his personal life, which included tumultuous marriages, numerous affairs and constantly shifting political and personal alliances. He lived most of his life in the vibrant Paris of the first half of the 20th Century and crossed paths with writers and artists including Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Gertrude Stein, Georges Braque, and Jean Cocteau. Picasso constantly reinvented himself, always striving to innovate and push the boundaries of artistic expression.  
 
Showrunner, executive producer and writer Ken Biller will continue his role overseeing the new season.  The second season will also once again hail from From Fox 21 Television Studios, whose recent “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” dominated every awards contest and critics’ list; Imagine Television, the producer of “24” and “Empire” with executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard along with executive producer Francie Calfo and producer Anna Culp; and Madison Wells Media’s OddLot Entertainment, which earlier this year produced the Academy Award®- nominated film “Hell or High Water,” with executive producers Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane. Sam Sokolow and Jeff Cooney from EUE/Sokolow are also executive producers. Filming is expected to begin later this summer for a 2018 premiere on National Geographic Channels in 171 countries and 45 languages.
 
“We are thrilled with the enthusiastic response audiences and critics have had for Genius over the last nine weeks, and are excited to be delving back in to the concept with season two,” said CEO of National Geographic Global Networks Courteney Monroe. “More so than any of his contemporaries, Picasso’s work dramatically expressed the modern age and defined new cultural norms. We are excited to explore his life and his genius with the incredibly talented team behind the series.”
 
“The remarkable story of artistic visionary Pablo Picasso is the perfect subject for season two of 'Genius,'” said executive producer Howard. “Picasso was a trailblazer who left a profound artistic and cultural impact on the world and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership with National Geographic and Fox 21 Television Studios in telling the untold story behind the brilliant individual.” 
 
“Season one has been a fantastic experience for all of us, and we owe a big debt to Courteney, Carolyn and the Nat Geo team for being such great partners,” commented Bert Salke, president of Fox 21 Television Studios. “Picasso is arguably one of the most influential artists of the last century with a life story almost too fantastic to be reality. It’s the perfect next chapter for Ron, Brian, Ken and this franchise.”

  • Wednesday, Jun. 21, 2017
Intel signs up as top Olympic sponsor through 2024
International Olympic Committee, IOC, President Thomas Bach from Germany, speaks during a press conference after an executive board meeting, at the Olympic Museum, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Friday, June 9, 2017. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)

As part of its mission to attract younger fans, the International Olympic Committee announced a sponsorship deal Wednesday with Intel, which will bring virtual reality and 360-degree viewing to mobile devices and TVs as soon as next year's Winter Games.

The IOC has been aggressive in introducing new sports and disciplines to the Olympics: snowboarding and freestyle skiing on the winter side, with surfing, skateboarding and 3-on-3 basketball coming to summer.

Now, it's a matter of getting kids to watch it all. Olympic viewership has been trending toward an older audience for more than a decade, and IOC president Thomas Bach said "I got really concerned, because then, you have to ask yourself, 'Why?'"

"We could see from about 2012 on that it was very much a question about the platform," Bach said in an interview with The Associated Press. "The youth just weren't watching as much TV as they used to in the past."

The deal covers next year's Olympics through 2024.

Intel, which has been partnering with sports organizations to show the potential of its technology, plans to provide real-time virtual reality viewing for the Pyeongchang Olympics, and will also offer drone technology to give viewers before unseen views of events and opening and closing ceremony.

Intel will also bring 5G wireless technology to the games "because we have go get the feed off the mountain, or off the drone, or whatever it is, and down to the broadcaster," CEO Brian Krzanich said.

"You don't have the other (technologies) without the 5G," Krzanich said.

The Intel announcement comes a week after the IOC severed its sponsorship deal with McDonald's, even though the deal had three years left.

IOC managing director of television and marketing services Timo Lumme said the committee is still analyzing whether it wants to stay in the so-called retail food market.

Clearly, the Intel deal made the McDonald's decision an easier one for the IOC, which is signing new sponsors to its top-tier sponsorship program at around $200 million for four years — double the value of the old ones.

"With McDonald's, it's very easy," Bach said. "They are changing and we are changing and this is why we agreed on going different ways."

He called it "a mutual agreement at the right time."

"With Intel, here today, this is a novel step, and it's a milestone in achieving our goals" of bringing more young people to the Olympics, Bach said.

 

  • Wednesday, Jun. 21, 2017
NBC says "Downton Abbey" movie production to start in 2018
Michael Edelstein, President of NBCUniversal International studios, speaks to the media on the red carpet at the launch of an exhibition about television series Downton Abbey at the Marina Bay Sands on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)
SINGAPORE (AP) -- 

A "Downton Abbey" movie is in the works, with production likely to begin in 2018, an NBCUniversal executive said Wednesday.

Michael Edelstein, president at NBCUniversal International Studios, said it hopes to assemble 20 cast members from the popular TV series.

"There's a movie in the works. It's been in the works for some time," Edelstein said in Singapore at a red-carpet event for "Downton Abbey: The Exhibition," which features costumes, locations and never-before-seen footage from the TV show. The exhibition opened in the city-state last week and ends July 31.

"We are working on getting the script right and then we've got to figure out how to get the (cast) together. Because as you know, people go on and do other things. But we're hopeful to make a movie sometime next year," Edelstein said.

Cast members at the exhibition said they were not aware of the movie. "Oh, well, you've got confirmation before us. We have no idea if that's happening," said Sophie McShera, who played assistant cook Daisy Mason. "But we would all love to be part of the film if it was to happen, for sure."

Laura Carmichael, who played Lady Edith Crawley in the series, quipped: "Well, tell my agent, because we're still waiting to know. We're hoping that will happen soon."

Emmy-winning writer and creator Julian Fellowes also said he hoped a film would be made. "I think we've got a film in us. I hope it happens," he said.

"Downton Abbey," which concluded in 2015, portrays the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family in England and their servants amid the backdrop of such historical events as the sinking of the Titanic and World War I. It has become one of the most popular TV shows in the world, airing in at least 150 countries.

Fans lined the red carpet at Singapore's Marina Bay Sands on Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the stars. Student Jessica Nobleza, 15, held up a sign that read, "You helped us pass history."

"When I got into the show, it was kind of exam period. And season one and two involves World War I, and how it affected the whole era," she explained.

The "Downton Abbey" exhibition is to travel to the U.S. and Australia at a later date.

  • Tuesday, Jun. 20, 2017
Women filmmakers team on short documentary "Five Awake"
Pictured (l-r) are Susan Willis, Kim Sport, Charmaine Caccioppi, Donna Dees and Mary Claire Landry
NEW YORK -- 

Susan Willis, managing partner of post company Cutting Room Films, assembled a group of NYC’s top female voices in advertising for a screening of Five Awake, the short documentary she directed and produced with activist Donna Dees. The documentary chronicles the journey of five Louisiana women who sought to change the state for the better by pushing through a historic legislative package to protect the victims of domestic violence and save lives. The screening, held at the Helen Mills Theater in Manhattan, also featured a panel discussion with Willis, Dees and three of the five women featured in the film: United Way of Southeast Louisiana EVP/COO Charmaine Caccioppi, United Way of Southeast Louisiana attorney Kim Sport and New Orleans Family Justice Center director Mary Claire Landry.

The panel delved into the progress made to date and the outlook for the future. The women explained how though they had succeeded in passing 60 provisions in Louisiana domestic violence law, progress can only be realized if judges, police officers and the general public fully understand the reforms, underscoring the need for education and raising awareness. Between hosting informational workshops and leveraging the media to get the word out, the ardent women provided encouraging insight to screening attendees, inspiring action and participation on different levels.

“Domestic violence is a cancer that attacks all communities,” noted Caccioppi. “We are still in great need of the financial resources needed to treat the illness and help the families impacted.”

At the reception following the screening and panel, the filmmakers and film subjects connected with the affected audience members, sparking conversations surrounding how both on an individual level and on a industry level, women can become involved in championing similar legislation across the country.

“Women in the fields of broadcasting, marketing and advertising have been instrumental in the progress of these kinds of initiatives and driving their awareness,” said Dees. “By leveraging their creativity and expertise, they have the ability to spark and drive these kinds of movements.”

Five Awake received the award for “Best Documentary Short” at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and is scheduled to screen as part of the festival program at the New Orleans Film Festival on October 18th at the Orpheum Theater. Five Awake was just chosen as the “2016 Louisiana Feature Award” recipient, which also includes a prize of $10,000 worth of Panavision film equipment to be used on a feature project. The film has also been screening at universities nationwide, extending the educational reach of the documentary to help pave the way for future political advocacy.  

The half-hour documentary also features interviews with Louisiana State Representative Helena Moreno and Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence executive director Beth Meeks, who were unable to attend the screening. The powerful film not only portrays a look at these women’s determination to affect real change in a complicated political system, but also provides a blueprint for future generations of activists to empower themselves, have hope and push for progress.

  • Tuesday, Jun. 20, 2017
Star Wars' Han Solo spinoff film loses directors
In this Jan. 5, 2015, file photo, Christopher Miller, left, and Phil Lord pose for a photo at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards at TAO Downtown, in New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

There's been a disturbance in the force and the young Han Solo film is suddenly without a director. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said Tuesday that the Star Wars spinoff is parting ways with directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller due to different creative visions on the film.

Kennedy said a new director would be announced soon.

Lord and Miller had been filming the untitled project in London since January 2017 with stars Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. The supporting cast includes Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton.

"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 cliché is true," the directors said in a joint statement Tuesday. "We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew."

Lord and Miller have developed a stellar reputation in Hollywood for their smart and profitable adaptations of creaky or impossible properties like "The Lego Movie" and "21 Jump Street" and its sequel. Anticipation was high for what they would do with the Han Solo film, which was written by Star Wars vet Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon Kasdan.

Over the past six months the directors have been widely engaged on social media, drumming up interest in the project — the second Star Wars anthology film after "Rogue One." The anthology films are considered separate from the "main trilogy," which includes "The Force Awakens" and the upcoming "The Last Jedi."

Lucasfilm has had issues with directors before. In 2015 the company parted ways with director Josh Trank, who had been working on another Star Wars anthology film. They have yet to slate a replacement director.

The untitled Han Solo film is still slated for a May 2018 release.

  • Tuesday, Jun. 20, 2017
Daniel Day-Lewis says he's retiring from acting
In this Jan. 27, 2013, file photo, Daniel Day-Lewis arrives at the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Daniel Day-Lewis, one of the most widely respected actors of his generation and a three-time Oscar-winner, says he's retiring from acting.

The 60-year-old actor announced Tuesday that he has shot his last film and performed in his last play. That makes Paul Thomas Anderson's already filmed "Phantom Thread," due out in December, his final film.

"Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor," his representative Leslee Dart said in a statement. "He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years. This is a private decision and neither he nor his representatives will make any further comment on this subject."

The announcement sent shockwaves through Hollywood, where Day-Lewis is revered as possibly the finest actor of his time. But Day-Lewis has also long been an exceptionally deliberate performer who often spends years preparing for a role, crafting his characters with an uncommon, methodical completeness.

"I don't dismember a character into its component parts and then kind of bolt it all together, and off you go," Day-Lewis told the AP in 2012, discussing Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." ''I tend to try and allow things to happen slowly, over a long period of time. As I feel I'm growing into a sense of that life, if I'm lucky, I begin to hear a voice."

He has stepped away from film before. In the late 1990s, he famously apprenticed as a shoemaker in Florence, Italy — a period he called "semi-retirement." ''Phantom Thread," which Focus Features will release Dec. 25, is his first film in five years, following "Lincoln."

A five-time Academy Award nominee, Day-Lewis is the only one to ever win best actor three times. He earned Oscars for "My Left Foot," ''Lincoln" and "There Will Be Blood."

Day-Lewis, who is married to writer-director Rebecca Miller with three children, broke through with 1985's "My Beautiful Laundrette," by Stephen Frears. His films since then have included "The Last of the Mohicans," ''The Age of Innocence," ''In the Name of the Father" and "Gangs of New York."

His last play was in 1989, a National Theatre production of "Hamlet," in London. Day-Lewis infamously walked out in the middle of a performance, and never returned to the stage again.
 

 

  • Monday, Jun. 19, 2017
Tony Danza returns to series TV in Netflix's "The Good Cop"
Tony Danza
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- 

Netflix is bringing Tony Danza back to series television for viewers around the world in The Good Cop, a new 10-episode, one-hour dramedy series.
 
In The Good Cop, Danza plays Tony Sr., a disgraced, former NYPD officer who never followed the rules. He lives with his son, Tony Jr., an earnest, obsessively honest NYPD detective who makes a point of always following the rules. This “odd couple” become unofficial partners as Tony Sr. offers his overly-cautious son blunt, street-wise advice on everything from handling suspects to handling women.
 
Andy Breckman, the creator of Monk, will serve as showrunner and executive producer, with Randy Zisk (Bones, Monk), and Howard Klein (The Office, The Mindy Project) also serving as executive producers. Zisk will also direct the first episode. Danza is a producer on The Good Cop. The series is inspired by a format from Israeli production company YES, who will also serve as executive producers. The Good Cop is a Netflix original production.
 
“We’re excited to bring viewers the return of Tony Danza, one of television’s most beloved icons,” said Cindy Holland, VP, Original Content for Netflix. “The Good Cop is a funny, charming procedural series that we think our members will love.”
 
Said Breckman, “Many cop shows feature dark and provocative material: psycho-sexual killers, twisted, grim, flawed detectives. Many address the most controversial issues of the day. I watch a lot of them. God bless ‘em all. But the show I want to produce is playful, family-friendly, and a celebration of old-fashioned puzzle-solving.” 
 
Danza became a household name while co-starring in the classic sitcom Taxi, which ran from 1978-1983. Danza then cemented his place in TV history with his starring role in Who’s the Boss, which ran from 1984-1992. The show went on to be one of the biggest successes in syndication history.  
 
Danza most recently starred in the critically acclaimed Broadway musical comedy Honeymoon in Vegas, for which he received rave reviews.  Danza also recently co-starred on the big screen in the indie hit Don Jon, in which he played Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s father and received critical acclaim.   Among his past successes, Danza has starred on Broadway in the The Producers, A View from the Bridge, and opposite Kevin Spacey in The Iceman Cometh, and starred in feature films such as Angels in the Outfield, She’s Out of Control, and Hollywood Knights.   
 
Danza lives in New York, where he has a special real life connection to the NYPD as a member of the board of directors for the NYPD Police Athletic League and is an active champion of their Teen Acting Program.

  • Saturday, Jun. 17, 2017
McDonald's Olympic Sponsorship Deal To End 3 Years Early
This Oct. 21, 2011 file photo shows the golden arches of McDonalds, in Omaha, Neb., McDonald's has ended its Olympic sponsorship deal three years early. The International Olympic Committee says confidential financial terms of the immediate separation were agreed to.(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

The Olympics and McDonald's used to go together like a hamburger and fries.

They are no longer a combo.

In a surprise move, the International Olympic Committee announced Friday it was ending its Olympic sponsorship deal with the fast-food giant three years before it was supposed to expire — severing a relationship that dated to 1976.

No financial details were released, though as part of the IOC's top-tier program, McDonald's signed a contract extension in 2012 that was reportedly worth about $200 million.

Much of that will be replaced by new sponsors in new categories. The IOC has new deals with Bridgestone, Toyota and Alibaba. The Sports Business Journal reported that Intel is set to announce a deal with the IOC next week , and a person familiar with the negotiation confirmed that to The Associated Press. That person was not authorized to speak publicly because the deal has not been announced.

IOC marketing director Timo Lumme says "we understand that McDonald's is looking to focus on different business priorities."

McDonald's will, however, remain a national sponsor of the 2018 Olympics with domestic marketing rights in South Korea, and will operate restaurants in the Olympic park and village.

Some of the chain's decisions may have been hastened by an increasingly tense relationship between the parties over the last two Olympics.

McDonald's was among the many sponsors who had supply issues at the Sochi Games. In Rio, McDonald's got little cooperation from the IOC or local organizers and barely had a presence inside the Olympic gates. One of the few McDonald's operating on Olympic turf was in the Athlete's Village, and it typically had lines running out the door, up to 100 athletes deep.

Among the chain's biggest fans: Usain Bolt, who claimed Chicken McNuggets were his main staple during his record-setting runs through the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Simon Chadwick, professor of sports enterprise at University of Salford in Manchester, England, said McDonald's could be ending the deal for a number of reasons: geopolitical concerns, the doping problems in Olympic sports, the growing influence of companies in China and throughout Asia, who have been willing to pay more for these deals.

"This is such a fragmented and rapidly changing environment, that for a sponsor trying to understand how best to activate a deal with the IOC, it requires a huge amount of resources and some smart strategic thinking about where to place your bets," Chadwick said. "It's an incredibly complex market. In many ways, that could mean this type of deal is no longer economically viable for a corporation like McDonald's."

The IOC's top-tier sponsorship program gives companies exclusive worldwide marketing rights and permission to use the Olympic rings in advertising. Those sponsors contribute about 40 percent of the IOC's total revenues.

The IOC said there were no immediate plans to replace McDonald's in the fast-food category and that it would review that sponsorship segment going forward. Activating an Olympic marketing plan could become easier beginning in 2020, with Tokyo, Beijing and either Paris or Los Angeles hosting the three upcoming Games.

With the end of the deal, the corresponding relationship between McDonald's and the U.S. Olympic Committee also ends, though most of the company's American activation focused on the Olympic rings and not a specific Team USA angle.

 

  • Friday, Jun. 16, 2017
"Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood to get literary lifetime achievement award
In this July 28, 2016 file photo, author Margaret Atwood sits for a portrait while promoting her new books "Angel Catbird" and "Hag-Seed" in Toronto. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Margaret Atwood is receiving a lifetime achievement award from one of the world's oldest literary organizations.

PEN Center USA announced Wednesday that Atwood will accept the honor at the group's annual Literary Awards Festival in October.

Atwood has written more than 40 books of fiction, poetry and essays. The television adaptation of her novel "The Handmaid's Tale" premiered on Hulu earlier this year and has been renewed for a second season that will be released in 2018.

PEN Center USA says the 77-year-old author will be recognized at an Oct. 27 ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Actor and writer Nick Offerman is scheduled to host the evening.