Friday, June 22, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 3059
  • Friday, Jun. 22, 2018
NorthSouth partners with Hearst to form content shop Good Kicks Media
NorthSouth Productions CEO Charlie DeBevoise

NorthSouth Productions, the company behind the hit comedy series Impractical Jokers and long-running Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, is bringing its creative and distribution acumen directly to agencies, brands, PR firms, networks and others.

In partnership with Hearst Entertainment, NorthSouth has formed Good Kicks Media, a hybrid content company offering creative and production services for branded content, network promos, and live activations.

Good Kicks has already produced brand-related work for Marvel, Progresso, ESPN, and Discovery Networks. “We’ve been building popular media content for networks for 18 years,” said NorthSouth Productions CEO Charlie DeBevoise. “With the launch of Good Kicks, we’re spreading that success directly to brands.”

Neeraj Khemlani, president of Hearst Entertainment, added, “NorthSouth is one of those rare creative shops that have produced highly-rated and long-lasting formats across various genres, audiences and networks. Charlie and his talented team are now bringing that network quality polish to the branded content, promo and experiential marketing universe.”

To jumpstart the branded content division, DeBevoise has joined forces with Dean Crago, principal of SharpKnife Productions and former executive producer of Reveal 42, a post house in New York. Crago, who will serve as head of branded content, brings over 20 years of branded content development experience and a long list of top tier clients, including Johnson & Johnson, Listerine, Aveeno, Coca-Cola, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Sylvan Learning, Outback Steakhouse, Oral B, Crest, NASCAR, ESPN, Showtime Networks, HBO and JPMorgan Chase. Good Kicks has also tapped the promo market by hiring veteran artists, directors and editors David Klinkowize and Keith Crago.

Good Kicks’ live activations arm is a branded adaptation of the events NorthSouth produces for networks. The company produced a high wire act in the middle of downtown Manhattan for an Impractical Jokers season finale that attracted 3,000 onlookers and gave TruTV high ratings and impressions. For another event, the company partnered with Nitro Circus to fill a stadium with 5,000 fans. “We create massive live events that attract thousands of spectators and generate huge media interest,” said DeBevoise.

  • Friday, Jun. 22, 2018
New leaders tapped for Berlin film festival from 2020
In this Wednesday, July 12, 2017 file photo, Carlo Chatrian, artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival, speaks during a press conference, at the Bellevue Palace in Bern, Switzerland. Chatrian and German movie industry official Mariette Rissenbeek have been tapped to take charge of the Berlin International Film Festival starting in 2020. (Thomas Delley/Keystone via AP, file)

Carlo Chatrian, the director of the Locarno film festival, and German movie industry official Mariette Rissenbeek have been tapped to take charge of the Berlin International Film Festival starting in 2020.

A committee led by Germany's culture minister, Monika Gruetters, on Friday designated Chatrian as the festival's future artistic director and Rissenbeek as its managing director.

Dieter Kosslick, who has been in charge since 2001, will preside over his last edition of the "Berlinale" next year. The annual event is one of Europe's main film festivals, along with Cannes and Venice.

The Italian-born Chatrian has led Switzerland's Locarno festival since 2013. Rissenbeek is currently the managing director of German Films, an advisory center for marketing German-made movies internationally.

  • Thursday, Jun. 21, 2018
ABC orders "Roseanne" spinoff for fall minus Roseanne Barr
This image released by ABC shows Sara Gilbert, left, and Roseanne Barr in a scene from "Roseanne." (Greg Gayne/ABC via AP)

ABC, which canceled its "Roseanne" revival over its star's racist tweet, said Thursday it will air a Conner family sitcom minus Roseanne Barr this fall.

ABC ordered 10 episodes of the spinoff after Barr agreed to forgo any creative or financial participation in it, which the network had said was a condition of such a series.

In a statement issued by the show's producer, Barr said she agreed to the settlement to save the jobs of 200 cast and crew members who were idled when "Roseanne" was canceled last month.

"I regret the circumstances that have caused me to be removed from 'Roseanne,' she said, adding, "I wish the best for everyone involved."

The revival of the hit 1988-97 sitcom "Roseanne" was swiftly axed by ABC last month after Barr posted a tweet likening former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and "Planet of the Apes."

Tom Werner, executive producer of the original series and the revival, said in the statement that he was grateful to reach the deal to keep the team working "as we continue to explore stories of the Conner family."

ABC said that the new series, with "The Conners" as its working title, will star John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert and other "Roseanne" cast members.

How Barr's character, the family matriarch, will be erased from their life was left unexplained for now by ABC.

"After a sudden turn of events, the Conners are forced to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before," the network said in its announcement.

The spinoff will continue to portray contemporary issues that are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago," ABC said, a nod to the show's unusual portrayal of a  blue-collar family.

The new show was ordered from producer Werner Entertainment without a pilot episode, the typical basis for a series to be greenlit.

Barr's tweet had been condemned by ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey as "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values."

Barr initially apologized and deleted the post, which had followed her pattern of making controversial statements on social media. Some observers questioned why ABC had ordered the revival given her history.

But the comedy's return was an instant smash for ABC, owned by the Walt Disney Co., and was counted on to lead the network's fortunes next season.

Its first new episode last March was seen by more than 25 million people, with delayed viewing counted in, numbers that are increasingly rare in network television.

  • Thursday, Jun. 21, 2018
The Female Quotient partners with Deutsch to launch career advice bot

The Female Quotient, a company and community dedicated to achieving workplace equality, has selected ad agency Deutsch as its brand partner to launch its first career advice bot at The Girls’ Lounge @ Cannes Lions. This tool provides women all over the globe access to the wisdom of female leaders on core content pillars--work/life balance, knowing your worth, owning your brand, leadership and equality, and navigating challenges. 

Inspired by The Female Quotient’s CEO Shelley Zalis, the bot will live on Google Assistant and Facebook Messenger and will be accessible from all mobile and computing devices. Users can ask the bot a variety of questions from maternity leave, pay negotiation, to how to build confidence and addressing diversity issues, to leadership training and navigating challenges like harassment in the workplace. Using artificial intelligence technology developed by Deutsch’s AI division, Great Machine, users can ask a question on the platform and will be served video content from one of the many female leaders in the network.

“Shelley has inspired and brought together thousands of women through experiences and mentorship which all root back to her motto, the power of the pack,” said Kim Getty, president of Deutsch’s Los Angeles office. “The Female Quotient bot is bringing the collective ‘wisdomship’ of widely respected female leaders to your pocket. It’s taking mentorship to the next level. We’re so excited to be partnering with such an incredible team to build this tool that will help women rise up.” 

Notable women leaders from a range of industries were tapped into to provide advice for the bot, including Carolyn Everson, VP, global marketing solutions at Facebook, Fiona Carter, chief brand officer at AT&T, Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and client partnerships at NBC Universal, and Tara Walpert Levy, VP, agency and brand solutions at Google, to name a few. As the bot continues to build its knowledge on workplace equality topics, other influential women will be selected to share their advice.

“The Female Quotient was developed to incite real change in the workplace for women and to create equality in male-dominated industries,” said Zalis. “The power of the pack has given women the knowledge and confidence to advance in their careers. By working with Deutsch’s strategy and technology team, we are able elevate our network and give female leaders the ability to give back.”

The Female Quotient is widely known for The Girls’ Lounge experiences across the globe which have become a destination at conferences, companies and college campuses where women connect, collaborate and activate change together. It has evolved into the largest community of corporate women and female entrepreneurs transforming workplace culture.

For more information, click here. To interact with the bot, visit here.

  • Thursday, Jun. 21, 2018
Days after buying Time Warner, AT&T launches new TV service
This July 27, 2017, file photo shows an AT&T logo at a store in Hialeah, Fla. AT&T is launching a new streaming service incorporating networks from the Time Warner company it just bought for $81 billion. Thursday, June 21, announcement comes just days after AT&T closed its Time Warner deal. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

AT&T is launching a new streaming service incorporating television networks from the Time Warner company it just bought.

The WatchTV service, a cable-like package of more than 30 TV channels delivered over the internet, is an example of the "skinny bundles" coming from telecom and broadband providers as more people watch TV online. Competitors include Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and AT&T's own DirecTV Now.

WatchTV will be free for subscribers of two unlimited wireless plans AT&T is launching. Others can get WatchTV for $15 — $20 less than DirecTV Now, but with just half the channels.

Thursday's announcement comes just days after AT&T closed its $81 billion Time Warner deal. AT&T said it needs to combine its distribution channels with entertainment properties to compete with internet-based rivals like Amazon, Netflix and Google, although the wireless carrier has a direct connection to its 92 million subscribers that its internet rivals do not. The Department of Justice sued to block the Time Warner deal on anti-competition concerns, but a federal judge sided with AT&T.

WatchTV is the first example of how AT&T plans to marry distribution and programming from Time Warner. If it gets enough subscribers, it will be able to collect valuable data and offer more personalized content — and ads.

But with people paying for a growing number of services like HBO, Hulu, Netflix and DirectTV Now, streaming can end up being just as expensive as cable, if not more so.

The new service will offer 31 channels at launch, including CNN, TBS and TNT — all part of Time Warner's Turner networks. It won't feature any sports networks — no ESPN for subscribers — but is heavy on news and entertainment offerings such as AMC, the History Channel, BBC America, Lifetime and Oprah Winfrey's OWN.

Six more channels, including Comedy Central, will be available "soon after launch," according to a lineup provided by AT&T.

DirecTV Now starts at $35 a month for more than 60 channels, including sports channels, with additional channels available at higher prices.

The new wireless plans will be AT&T's only unlimited offerings for new customers, though existing customers can keep their current plans. They would need to upgrade to a new plan, though, to get WatchTV for free. The new plans start at $70 a month for a single line, $5 more than the current cheapest plan, though the new plans offer more benefits, too.

Subscribers of current and new plans can also get $15 a month off DirecTV Now. However, AT&T will no longer include HBO for free on all unlimited plans, although the more expensive of the two plans, which starts at $80, will offer one free premium video or music service, such as HBO, Showtime or Amazon Music Unlimited. HBO is also part of Time Warner.

  • Thursday, Jun. 21, 2018
Net neutrality backers fume as California bill watered down
In this April 20, 2017 file photo, State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco works at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Sen. Wiener has been pushing legislation to revive regulations repealed last year by the FCC that prevented internet companies from exercising more control over what people watch and see over the internet. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- 

California legislation that was billed as one of the nation's most aggressive efforts to revive net neutrality was watered down during a tense legislative hearing Wednesday, leading the author to repudiate what he called a "mutilated" bill.

The legislation has been closely watched by energetic net neutrality advocates, who quickly denounced the decision.

Sen. Scott Wiener has been pushing legislation to revive regulations repealed last year by the Federal Communications Commission that prevented internet companies from exercising more control over what people watch and see over the internet.

Wiener urged the Communications and Conveyance Committee not to move forward his legislation, but the panel voted 8-2 to advance it to another Assembly committee.

Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, said passing the diluted measure would be worse than passing nothing at all.

"California is the progressive bastion for the country right now. People look to us to lead the way," Wiener told The Associated Press. "If California passes a weak, watered-down, ineffectual net neutrality bill, that sets a terrible standard not just for other states but for the federal government."

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, a Los Angeles Democrat who chairs the committee, did not give a specific reason for the amendments. In a statement, he said California needs to beat back efforts by Trump administration and the telecommunications industry to end net neutrality.

In a tense exchange with Wiener, he said his committee deserves input and said Wiener was trying to be a martyr for a purist view of net neutrality.

It was an unusually public display of differences among Democrats that are usually aired in private.

Internet providers remain opposed even with the changes. They say it's unrealistic to expect them to comply with internet regulations that vary across the country.

"We strongly believe that state-by-state regulation of the internet is inappropriate," Steve Carlson of the wireless industry group CTIA said.

Net neutrality advocates linked the amendments to political contributions from internet companies to Santiago and other committee members. Evan Greer, deputy director of the advocacy group Fight for the Future, said the committee is "blatantly corrupt."

Oregon, Washington and Vermont have approved legislation related to net neutrality, but California's bill was seen as the most comprehensive attempt to codify the principle in a way that might survive a likely court challenge. An identical bill was introduced in New York.

"This was seen as a gold standard that could spread to other states," Greer said, but she still holds out hope that it can be improved in the next legislative committee.

Wiener's bill would prohibit internet providers from blocking or slowing data based on its content or from favoring websites or video streams from companies that pay extra. Those protections remain.

But other provisions Wiener sought were removed — including a ban on so-called "zero rating," in which internet providers don't count content from their own subsidiaries or partners against a monthly data cap. The bill also no-longer includes provisions that Wiener says ensure internet providers can't get around the spirit of net neutrality.

Wiener's bill drew a letter of support from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat who rarely weighs in on state legislative matters.

"I urge you to maintain all of the comprehensive protections in SB 822 to ensure that California citizens, not the companies we pay to get online, are able to decide which apps, services and websites they use," Pelosi wrote in the letter dated Monday.

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, tweeted a day before the hearing that "California lawmakers need to stay strong; everyone is watching."

Net neutrality advocates worry that, absent rules prohibiting it, internet providers could create fast lanes and slow lanes that favor their own sites and apps or make it harder for consumers to see content from their competitors.

That could limit consumer choice or shut out upstart companies that can't afford to buy access to the fast lane, critics worry.

Internet providers say they've publicly committed to upholding the values of net neutrality, but that strict rules like Wiener's would inhibit investment in faster technology.

  • Wednesday, Jun. 20, 2018
Film starring Kevin Spacey to be released in August
In this June 11, 2017 file photo, Kevin Spacey arrives at the 71st annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Kevin Spacey was erased from "All the Money in the World" and booted from "House of Cards," but a movie starring the disgraced actor is going forward with a summer release.

Vertical Entertainment announced that it will release "Billionaire Boys Club" on video-on-demand on July 17 and in theaters August 17. The film is about young wealthy men in Los Angeles who run a Ponzi scheme. It stars Ansel Elgort, Taron Egerton and Spacey.

"Billionaire Boys Club" was shot in 2015, before Spacey was accused last fall of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior by numerous people. Spacey apologized to one accuser.

Vertical Entertainment said it fully supports victims of sexual harassment but that it believes the film's cast and crew deserve "to see their final product reach audiences."

  • Wednesday, Jun. 20, 2018
Apple signs deal with Sesame Workshop for kids' shows
This Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, file photo shows the Apple logo above a store location entrance in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

Apple is getting into business with the prestigious Sesame Workshop.

Apple said Wednesday it has given a multiple-series order to the nonprofit organization.

The shows will be part of a slate of children's programming for Apple's upcoming streaming service.

Apple said the long-running "Sesame Street" program, which airs on PBS and HBO, isn't part of the agreement.

Apple has been making content deals with other big names, including Oprah Winfrey, as it prepares to compete with Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services.

  • Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2018
Disney names new Animation, Pixar chiefs post-Lasseter
This combination photo shows Jennifer Lee at the world premiere of "A Wrinkle in Time" in Los Angeles on Feb. 26, 2018, left, and Pete Docter at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Feb. 6, 2010. (AP Photo)

Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn says Tuesday that Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter are taking over for former Disney animation and Pixar chief John Lasseter, who is departing Disney at the end of the year following misconduct allegations.

Both Oscar-winners and veterans of the Walt Disney Company, Lee, who co-directed "Frozen," has been named chief creative officer for the Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Docter, who is best known for "Up" and "Inside Out," is now the chief creative officer for Pixar Animation.

Horn says in a statement that both Lee and Docter embody the spirit, culture and values of their respective studios.

Lasseter in November announced a six-month sabbatical and apologized for "missteps" with employees. The animation titan will stay on as a consultant through 2018.

  • Sunday, Jun. 17, 2018
Director Bier, production designer Duffield elected to Academy Board of Governors
Susanne Bier

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced its newly elected 2018–19 Board of Governors, who assume their posts as of July 1.  

Those elected to the Board for the first time are: Alfred Molina, Actors Branch; Tom Duffield, Designers Branch; Susanne Bier, Directors Branch; and Bonnie Arnold, Short Films and Feature Animation Branch.

Incumbent governors reelected to the Board include: Bernard Telsey, Casting Directors Branch; Daryn Okada, Cinematographers Branch; Rory Kennedy, Documentary Branch; Jim Gianopulos, Executives Branch; Carol Littleton, Film Editors Branch; Lois Burwell, Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch; Michael Giacchino, Music Branch; Scott Millan, Sound Branch; John Knoll, Visual Effects Branch; and Billy Ray, Writers Branch.

Returning to the Board after a hiatus are: Jeffrey Kurland, Costume Designers Branch; and Sid Ganis, Public Relations Branch

The balloting in the Academy’s Producers Branch produced a tie between candidates Jason Blum and Jennifer Todd, necessitating a runoff election.  Voting will begin Monday, June 18, and end Tuesday, June 19.  The Academy last held a runoff election in 2016 for the Film Editors Branch.

The Academy’s 17 branches are each represented by three governors, who may serve up to three consecutive three-year terms. The Board of Governors sets the Academy’s strategic vision, preserves the organization’s financial health, and assures the fulfillment of its mission.  

For a full list of the 2017-2018 Academy governors, click here.