Friday, September 21, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 51 - 60 of 3188
  • Monday, Aug. 20, 2018
Report: MeToo activist Argento settled sex assault complaint
In this May 17, 2009 file photo, Italian actress Asia Argento arrives on the red carpet for the screening of "Vengeance" during the 62nd International film festival in Cannes, France. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Italian actress Asia Argento — one of the most prominent activists of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment — recently settled a complaint filed against her by a young actor and musician who said she sexually assaulted him when he was 17, the New York Times reported. 

Argento, 42, settled the notice of intent to sue filed by Jimmy Bennett, who is now 22, for $380,000 shortly after she said last October that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein raped her, the Times reported.

Argento and Bennett co-starred in a 2004 film called "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things" in which Argento played Bennett's prostitute mother.

Bennett says in the notice that he had sex with Argento in a California hotel in 2013.  The age of consent in California is 18.

The notice says the encounter traumatized Bennett and hurt his career, the Times reported.

The newspaper said it received court documents that included a selfie of Argento and Bennett in bed. Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic, the Times reported.

In a statement to The Associated Press on Monday, a lawyer for Bennett said the actor "does not wish to comment on the documents or the events" at this time.

The statement asked for privacy and noted that Bennett would take "the next 24 hours, or longer, to prepare his response."

Argento became one of the most well-known activists of the #MeToo movement after she told the New Yorker magazine that Weinstein raped her at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 when she was 21. Argento told the magazine that she continued to have a relationship with Weinstein because she was afraid of angering him.

Weinstein has been indicted on sex crime accusations involving three women, but not including Argento.

Representatives for Argento did not respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment.

  • Monday, Aug. 20, 2018
Silicon Valley vet to head women's advocacy group Catalyst
In this undated photo provided by Catalyst Inc. Lorraine Hariton poses for a photo. Hariton becomes CEO at Catalyst in an era when the #MeToo movement has ensnared major corporations and, with exit of PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi serving as a reminder, the top jobs at the nation's largest companies remain elusive for women. (Paula Vlodkowsky/Catalyst Inc. via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

A former Silicon Valley CEO is taking the helm of a prominent organization dedicated to the promotion of women in the workplace, saying the #MeToo era is a "fantastic time" to champion gender equality.

Lorraine Hariton becomes CEO of the group Catalyst at time when sexual misconduct scandals are ensnaring corporate executives, and the departure of PepsiCo's CEO highlighted the tiny number of women leading Fortune 500 companies.

But Hariton, whose appointment was announced Monday, said the #MeToo movement has pushed the spotlight on gender equality like nothing she has seen since she began her business career at IBM in the 1970s.

"I felt the timing was really fantastic," Hariton said. "Not only are women in the work place on the front page, there is a major shift in attitude that allows us chart the future of the next generation."

Hariton previously served as the CEO of two tech startups, Beatnik and Apptera. She served in the State Department under President Barack Obama, and most recently as a senior vice president at the New York Academy of Sciences.

Catalyst, a research and advocacy institution based in New York City, was founded in 1962 by the late Felice Schwartz, who became known for a controversial 1989 Harvard Business Review article that proposed flexible career paths for working mothers. Other feminists criticized the piece, which gave rise to the term "Mommy Track," although Schwartz herself did not use those words.

Since then, support has risen for policies designed to encourage both parents to remain in the workforce through policies that allow flexible hours and extended family leave.

Hariton, a mother of two, said it was IBM's culture of encouraging reasonable working hours that drew to her the company after earning her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1977. She noted that IBM and other companies have instituted more formal policies and programs designed to attract female talent.

Finding policies that work has been touch-and-go, however. IBM, for example, scaled back its popular remote-work program last year.

And only a sliver of leadership posts at Fortune 500 companies, about 5 percent, are held by women, according to Catalyst.

Women are also being left behind in the proliferation of tech startups. Catalyst points to a 2017 study by Babson and Wellsley College that found that 97 percent of venture capitalist funding goes to companies led by male CEOs.

That issue is of special interest to Hariton, who said she raised $50 million in venture capital during her time at Silicon Valley. She said promoting diversity in male-dominated venture capitalist firms needs to be priority.

"The culture in technology is moving so fast that you end up with a young culture that is more like a frat environment, which makes it more difficult for women," she said.

  • Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018
U.S. regulators target Facebook on discriminatory housing ads
In this March 29, 2018, file photo the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Federal regulators are alleging that Facebook's advertising tools allow landlords and real estate brokers to engage in housing discrimination.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said in an administrative complaint this week that Facebook violated the Fair Housing Act because its targeting systems allow advertisers to exclude certain audiences, such as families with young children or disabled people, from seeing housing ads.

"When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it's the same as slamming the door in someone's face," HUD Assistant Secretary Anna María Farias said in a statement Friday.

Service providers such as Facebook typically aren't liable for the actions of their users. In a separate, civil lawsuit filed by housing advocates, the Justice Department says Facebook doesn't fall under that category because it mines user data, some of which users have to provide, and customizes ads for specific audiences. The government says that counts as being a content creator, rather than merely a transmitter of user content.

Facebook said the company doesn't allow discrimination and has strengthened its systems over the past year to prevent misuse. The company added that it is working directly with HUD to address its concerns. Facebook has an opportunity to respond to the HUD complaint before the agency determines whether to file formal charges.

The HUD action is separate from the federal lawsuit, filed in March in New York by the National Fair Housing Alliance and other organizations. The lawsuit says investigations by fair housing supporters in New York, Washington, D.C., Miami and San Antonio, Texas, show that Facebook continues to let advertisers discriminate even though civil rights and housing groups have notified the company since 2016 that it is violating the federal Fair Housing Act. It seeks unspecified damages and a court order to end discrimination.

The Justice Department's position came in a filing in that case. Facebook said it plans to respond in court.

  • Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018
Stan Lee gets 3-year restraining order against ex-adviser
In this June 28, 2017 file photo, Stan Lee arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" at the TCL Chinese Theatre. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Stan Lee's restraining order against a former business manager was extended for three years on Friday, in another apparent step toward stability for the Marvel Comics mogul after a tumultuous year.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered Keya Morgan to stay away from the Marvel Comics mogul and his family members, making permanent a previous temporary restraining order that Lee's lawyers had received.

The 95-year-old Lee has been the subject of a power struggle involving his daughter, Morgan, and others who sought roles in his life and business after the death last year of Lee's wife, Joan, who was his de facto manager and closest adviser.

Lee's lawyer Jonathan Freund told The Associated Press that Lee and his family are pleased he can move forward with his life and get on with his work "without being bothered or harassed."

Morgan, a film producer with a hand in many parts of the entertainment business, gained control over Lee's business for several months this year, until elder abuse allegations emerged from Lee's attorneys and police opened an investigation into the issue. Morgan has not been charged with elder abuse, but he has been charged with reporting a false emergency for calling 911 when a social worker and detectives came to check on Lee.

The restraining order request also alleges he embezzled millions in assets from Lee.

Morgan's attorney Alex Kessel told the AP that his client has done nothing harmful to Lee. "He never has, and he never will," Kessel said.

Morgan has previously adamantly denied he ever had bad intentions with Lee, who he says is a cherished friend.

With Morgan's ouster, Lee's daughter J.C. Lee and her attorneys returned as the main managers of Lee's affairs.

Freund said Le, who co-created the Incredible Hulk, Spider Man, and much of Marvel's comic and cinematic universe, is creating comic characters again, and his previously deteriorating health is improving.

"He's doing better every day," Freund said.

  • Friday, Aug. 17, 2018
"Black-ish" creator Kenya Barris sets exclusive Netflix deal
In this Jan. 8, 2017 file photo, Kenya Barris arrives at the HBO Golden Globes afterparty in Beverly Hills, Calif.(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Netflix says it's signed "black-ish" creator Kenya Barris to an exclusive production agreement.

The multi-year deal announced Thursday makes Barris the latest prominent TV creator to jump from broadcast and cable to the streaming platform.

Barris' Peabody-winning "black-ish" aired on ABC, and he produced the spinoff "grown-ish" for the network's Disney Co. sibling, Freeform.

He ended his ABC Studios contract early after ABC declined to air a "black-ish" episode that reportedly addressed issues including the NFL player protests.

Among other producers who have made Netflix deals: Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC hits "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," and Ryan Murphy of FX series including "American Horror Story."

In a statement, Barris joked that he'd decided to take a chance on Netflix despite it being what he called a "mom-and-pop shop."

  • Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018
Australian filmmaker goes on trial in Cambodia
Australian filmmaker James Ricketson sits in a prison truck upon his arrival at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. Ricketson has gone on trial in Cambodia on charges of endangering national security after being arrested last year for flying a drone to capture images of an opposition political rally. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- 

One of Australia's most famous movie directors testified Thursday in Cambodia at the trial of a filmmaking countryman facing a possible prison term of five to 10 years for flying a drone to capture images of an opposition political rally.

Peter Weir, director of "The Year of Living Dangerously," ''Dead Poets Society" and "The Truman Show," testified as a character witness at the trial of James Ricketson, who was arrested in June 2017 and has been kept in detention since then.

Ricketson, 69, was taken in an orange prison uniform to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for the first official trial session on the charge of endangering national security, which in legal terms is tantamount to espionage.

Before testimony began, Ricketson's lawyer applied for his release on bail, as he had unsuccessfully done several times previously, but was again turned down by the judge.

Weir testified that he has known Ricketson since 1973, when they met at film school in Australia.

Weir, 73, told the court that Ricketson has never been involved with any political parties or government work but worked mostly as a freelancer and spent his life making documentary films, especially focused on Australian subjects, for which he had won several prizes.

"In 1973, I remember that that was the first year James went to movie school and I was his adviser. We have been friends and colleagues," said Weir. "No one knows James better than I."

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom after he testified, Weir explained why he believed his friend was innocent of the charge.

"What James has done or not done may have been something that in Australia is perfectly normal but here has been seen to be sinister, and it is not, he is just doing everything he does in Australia," he said.

Ricketson was arrested after he used a drone to film the final rally of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party before local elections. The party has since been dissolved as part of a sweeping crackdown on the opposition and media critical of Prime Minister Hun Sen's government.

The crackdown was widely seen as preparation for ensuring a victory by Hun Sen's ruling party in last month's general election, in which it won all 125 seats in the National Assembly. With Hun Sen's extension of power accomplished, there has been speculation the courts — widely seen as under government control — might allow Ricketson to walk free. Ricketson had been seen as sympathetic to the opposition party.

Despite his extended pre-trial detention, the official start of Ricketson's trial has been twice postponed at his request, the first time to inspect further evidence and the second to acquaint a new lawyer with the case. According to his family, Ricketson has been detained in a 6-by-16-meter (20-by-52-foot) cell along with 140 other prisoners, and in May he reportedly became ill with a chest ailment and was moved to the prison hospital.

As he was being taken to a vehicle to be driven back to jail after Thursday's trial session, Ricketson shouted to reporters that he had seen no evidence supporting the charge against him and questioned what country he was supposed to have been spying for. He has made the same points in previous appearances at court.

But in a July 1 letter to Hun Sen published in the pro-government Khmer Times newspaper, he apologized for his "mistake" in his statements about his situation.

"May I please, respectfully, send my sincerest apologies to yourself and the Cambodian government. I now realize that my statements I have made in the press and other media are disruptive and ill informed. These statements were made from a place of foreign naivety and ignorance about the complexities and difficulties of governing Cambodia," he wrote.

"I apologize unreservedly and without condition for any distress I may have caused as a result of my ignorance of Cambodian issues. If there is anything I can do to remedy my mistake, please let me know as I only want the best for you and Cambodia," the letter said.

  • Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018
Paul Walker's brothers open to "Fast" franchise return
In this Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018 photo, Cody Walker, from left, Adrian Buitenhuis and Caleb Walker, pose for a portrait in Los Angeles, in promotion of the documentary film "I Am Paul Walker." (Photo by Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Nearly five years after Paul Walker's death, his brothers say they're open to playing his character again in the "Fast and Furious" franchise.

Producers asked Caleb and Cody Walker to fill in for their brother and help complete "Furious 7" after he died in a fiery off-set car crash in November 2013.

His face was digitally superimposed onto his brothers' performances for scenes that Walker had not yet shot and in a modified ending in which his character Brian O'Conner drives off into the sunset.

The character remains alive in the fictional "Fast" universe and is mentioned twice in 2017's "The Fate of the Furious."

"I just hope we get to — I don't know — have a little cameo and bring Paul back to save the day and I get to help create that again," Caleb Walker, 40, said in an interview last week. "That's my dream and I hope we get to do that in one of the future movies."

"I think there could potentially be a way to do it. But it would take a lot of thought and it'd have to be tasteful. It would have to be tasteful," Cody Walker, 30, said in the interview. "He was the real deal, the real car guy. And in his absence, I — you know — I think it's lost its way in a big way."

Caleb and Cody Walker were promoting "I Am Paul Walker," a new one-hour documentary about the actor's childhood, family and career directed by Adrian Buitenhuis. It premiered last weekend on the Paramount Network.

Both Walker brothers became fathers for the first time last year and live in Southern California. They have not re-watched the full "Furious 7" film since attending the premiere in April 2015.

"It's kind of creepy sometimes when you're like, 'Oh, that's me.' It doesn't feel right," Caleb Walker said. "I think one day, when our kids are little older and we are able to share that experience with them and be like, 'Hey look, this is your uncle Paul. He was the greatest guy in the world and here we are being able to portray him and finish up this movie for him.' That's when I think it will really hit that I think it was really worth it and special and all that. But in the meantime, it's still a little conflicted."

Walker was 40 years old when the Porsche Carrera GT he was riding in spun out of control, struck three trees and burst into flames on a street in Santa Clarita, California.

The next scheduled film in the "Fast" franchise is a spin-off featuring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. It's set for release next year.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018
"Not an easy time" for Chris Pratt after Gunn firing
In this June 16, 2018 file photo, Chris Pratt arrives at the MTV Movie and TV Awards at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Chris Pratt says "it's not an easy time" as he and the rest of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" cast look to the future of the hit superhero franchise after Disney fired writer-director James Gunn.

Pratt told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that he stands behind social media posts saying he hopes Gunn can be reinstated for the next movie.

"It's not an easy time. We all love James and he's a good friend of ours, but we also really love playing the Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a complicated situation for everybody. And you know, we just want to move forward and do what's right and be the best people we can be," Pratt told the AP.

Gunn was fired last month as director of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" because of old tweets that recently emerged where he joked about subjects like pedophilia and rape. He has apologized for the tweets, which were posted from 2008 to 2011.

Pratt spoke to the AP at a bar in Los Angeles after meeting with seven disabled athletes who are being sponsored to run in the New York Marathon by Michelob Ultra. The 39-year-old actor, a spokesman for the beer brand, said it was "shocking" to hear news of Gunn's firing during Comic-Con in San Diego.

"I love going to Comic-Con but I ended up not doing a lot of interviews around that time just because it was so shocking. All I know is we put a lot of time, thought and effort into the statement that we released about it. And I think we all kind of want that statement to be essentially what we have to say about it. And we were pretty clear and honest about how we feel," Pratt said.

Pratt signed an open letter released 10 days after Gunn's firing, saying the cast fully supports the director and the character he showed both on the set of the first two movies and in the wake of his firing. Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and five other main stars of the franchise also signed the letter.

Before his firing, Gunn's Twitter account was heavy on left-leaning politics, and some on the right with whom he'd sparred found and promoted the tweets that led to his ouster.

Gunn has been writer and director of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise from the start, taking an obscure Marvel Comics title about a group of misfits and turning it into a space opera decked with comedy and retro music that made Pratt a major movie star. Through two installments the franchise has brought in more than $1.5 billion in global box office.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018
Kristen Bell narrates cuddly IMAX documentary "Pandas"
This image released by Warner Bros.Pictures shows giant pandas in a scene from the IMAX documentary "Pandas." (Drew Fellman/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Anyone who has seen Kristen Bell break down in (happy) hysterics over a sloth knows the actress' affinity for animals, especially those of the cute and cuddly variety. So when the people behind the new IMAX original film "Pandas" asked "The Good Place" star if she would consider narrating the documentary, it was a no-brainer.

"I'm not un-secretive about the fact that I'm an animal lover, or an IMAX lover to be totally honest with you," Bell said. "I think they produce some of the best content out there and I take my kids to the science center every time there's a new IMAX movie. I just think the patience with which they produce particularly their animal documentaries is kind of astounding."

"Pandas," from David Douglas and Drew Fellman ("Born to Be Wild" and "Island of Lemurs: Madagascar"), takes audiences to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China where scientists are working toward a goal of releasing captive-born pandas into the wild, where only about 2,000 remaining pandas live.

The film, which will be in wide release beginning Friday, focuses in on one, Qian Qian (pronounced Chen Chen), from cub stage to her supervised release in the wild and the humans trying to make that happen. Hou Rong, the director of research at Panda Base since 1994, has raised over 200 baby pandas during her tenure and hopes that one day their work will help pandas thrive outside of captivity.

In an inspiring display of cross-cultural solidarity, she travels to New Hampshire to observe how a man named Ben Kilham has for 20 years been successfully raising orphaned black bear cubs for eventual release in the wild. At Kilham's suggestion, Panda Base hires American conservation biologist Jake Owens, whom Douglas calls "the Indiana Jones of biologists" to help supervise Qian Qian's transition from city panda to country panda.

Bell, who got involved later in the process, didn't get to meet the pandas but hopes that one day she will. But that didn't stop her from peppering the scientists like Owens with questions, like how much do they weigh ("150 pounds"), how much do they feel like they weigh ("about 300 pounds") and what do they smell like ("sweet grass and milk")?

An avid watcher of nature documentaries, Bell said that she and her young daughters Lincoln and Delta particularly love David Attenborough and the "Planet Earth" series. The girls saw an early cut of "Pandas" and "loved it," which makes Bell all the more excited for additional kids and families to experience "Pandas," too.

"It's inspiring the next crop of biologists and conservationists," she said.

She thinks the film will connect beyond animal die-hards, too.

"It makes you feel good," Bell said. "It's inspiring, it's beautiful, it's adorable, it's educational and personally I think currently the world could use more things that feel good, you know?"

  • Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018
To fend off Netflix, movie theaters try 3-screen immersion
In this photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, a trailer shows a car speeding through traffic as part of a demonstration for ScreenX at Cineworld in London. Instead of one screen, there are three, creating a 270-degree view meant to add to the immersive experience you can’t get from the home TV. (AP Photo/Robert Stevens)
LONDON (AP) -- 

Sit at the back of the movie theater, and it's possible to see the appeal of ScreenX, the latest attempt to drag film lovers off the sofa and away from Netflix.

Instead of one screen, there are three - one at the front, and two on the sides - to add to the immersive experience you can't get from the home TV.

First adopted in South Korea in 2012, the system is being launched in the U.K. and theater chain Cineworld plans to add over 100 new screens to the worldwide count of 151.

The technology is the latest attempt by cinema operators to attract film viewers amid the growing popularity of online subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. They've ranged from 3D screens launched almost a decade ago to ultra-high resolution IMAX projectors and 4DX - which features moving chairs and real-life special effects like snow falling on the audience.

The focus on innovation has helped in the past. Since 3D was popularized at big cinema theaters in 2009 with the release of films like James Cameron's "Avatar," revenue has grown. Global box office revenue has increased by $14.4 billion in the past decade to $40.6 billion, according Motion Picture Association of America.

But that growth seems to be fading and movie theaters are being overtaken by internet video. Revenue from internet video like Netflix is forecast to be the fastest growing part of the entertainment and media industry through 2021, according to consultancy PwC. Its estimated annual growth of 6 percent compares with a projected annual drop in cinema of 1.2 percent.

It's unclear whether this latest innovation will help or stand out.

Cineworld says the idea is "it makes you feel like you're sitting in the action."

Robert Mitchell, a film journalist for Variety magazine, notes that was the point of 3D in the first place.

"In 2009, when films like 'Ice Age' and 'Avatar' were coming out, it was the great new thing," he says. "That lasted for a couple of years until people started to realize that some films were being made that didn't really use the enhancements well. And it started to put people off going."

Love it or hate it, the number of cinemas that offer these new types of experiences grows globally every year.

"We're really confident that by offering customers as much choice as possible that it's going to bring people into the cinemas," says Kelly Drew, an operations director at Cineworld.

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