Friday, September 21, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 61 - 70 of 3190
  • 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.

  • Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018
ArtCenter/South Florida launches Cinematic Arts Residency 
MIAMI BEACH -- 

ArtCenter/South Florida has launched an initiative aimed at strengthening Miami’s growing indie film community. ArtCenter’s Cinematic Arts Residency will provide two filmmakers with up to $50,000 each to produce a micro-budget feature. Akin to the farm to table movement, this unique initiative enables filmmakers to conceptualize, create and screen their features in the theater--all in Miami.

Through the initiative, ArtCenter hopes to elevate the city’s acclaimed community of short film creators, who frequently screen their work at major festivals like Sundance and SXSW, into the realm of feature films.

“Oscar-winner ‘Moonlight’ demonstrated what we all have known: that Miami has one of the most vibrant indie film communities in the country,” said Dennis Scholl, CEO of ArtCenter. “Our new Cinematic Arts Residency will help these filmmakers by giving them the funds, staff and studio space to make the leap into micro-budget features.”

The program will be led by Miami filmmaker Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, director and co-founder of Third Horizon Film Festival. Jeffers also is the writer/producer of the award-winning short film “Papa Machete,” which had its U.S. premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, garnered international press and received more than 1 million views on NationalGeographic.com.

Applications for the residency, based at the nonprofit’s Miami Beach location, will be accepted through Sept. 18, 2018, Click here to apply.

In addition, Kareem Tabsch of O Cinema and Andrew Hevia, producer of the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight,” who both helped conceptualized this initiative, will work with the residents chosen by a jury of national film experts.

The inaugural two Cinematic Arts Residents will be announced in November 2018.

“Miami is an extraordinary incubator for creative storytellers,” Hevia said. “ArtCenter’s goal is to build opportunities for local voices and further develop Miami’s burgeoning film community.”

While ArtCenter’s visual arts residents have long worked in video and film, the new program is ArtCenter’s first dedicated filmmaking residency, and the beginning of the center’s programming to cultivate the local film community.

Applicants must meet several criteria: They must be a full-time Miami-Dade resident, set and film their micro-budget feature in Miami, and have completed a narrative cinematic project in a key role. Applicants also must be at least 18 years of age, and a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. They also need to demonstrate the ability to plan and execute a feature-length film on a micro budget.

In addition to funding and studio space, the residents will receive support for a Miami theatrical premiere and a one-week run at O Cinema. To help distribute the film, the initiative will provide access to ArtCenter’s international network of curators, artists and institutional film partners, as well as select film festivals and local art cinemas.

“Whenever Miami filmmakers’ work gets shown nationally, it resonates deeply with audiences. There’s a real hunger for our stories well outside the city limits, and we hope this residency will help our local filmmakers dig deeper and find fresh, expansive new ways to present their stories to the world,” Jeffers said.

  • Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018
SAG-AFTRA partners in initiative to bring harassment counseling to union members
LOS ANGELES -- 

SAG-AFTRA and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation are jointly working together to bring workplace sexual harassment counseling services for members of the union. Now available, the services are administered by trained counselors at The Actors Fund, a national human services organization for entertainment, media and performing arts professionals.

The confidential, supportive services for SAG-AFTRA members impacted by workplace sexual harassment include assessment, crisis and short-term supportive counseling, education on individual rights and legal avenues, referrals to related resources and when needed, referrals for other clinical services. This service is open to all SAG-AFTRA members and is available nationally by phone, as well as in person at The Actors Fund’s offices in Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago.

“SAG-AFTRA is proud to introduce this important service to our members. While our existing Safer Set hotline assures workplace safety issues are addressed, it has become imperative that we make available counseling to our members who have or are experiencing workplace harassment,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “We are grateful to partner with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation as well as The Actors Fund and their team of professional counselors to meet this need. In addition to enhancing the union’s capacity to process workplace harassment reports in recent months, being able to offer counseling to our members is one more step in our ongoing efforts to address the sexual harassment epidemic in our industry.”

SAG-AFTRA Foundation president JoBeth Williams stated, “For more than 30 years, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has been providing a vital safety net to SAG-AFTRA professionals who have fallen on hard times, been impacted by natural disasters, or been hit with unexpected illness or injury. This past year has been a reckoning for sexual harassment abuses in our industry. Our three organizations have come together to ensure that workplaces and working environments in this industry will be safe and secure. No SAG-AFTRA performer should ever feel alone or without recourse when it comes to sexual harassment or assault. We want all SAG-AFTRA professionals to know that they are not alone in this business.” .

Added The Actors Fund COO Barbara Davis, “Throughout our history, The Actors Fund has always responded quickly to the needs of our community. In the past year, the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have brought issues of sexual harassment and assault to the forefront of the performing arts and entertainment industry. We’re proud to partner with SAG-AFTRA and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation to provide counseling services to people who have been subjected to sexual harassment or assault, and we will continue our outreach so that everyone in our industry knows that these services are available to them.”

To access services over the phone or in person, SAG-AFTRA members can contact The Actors Fund regional office nearest them in Los Angeles, (323) 933-9244, ext. 455; New York City (212) 221-7300, ext. 119; or Chicago (312) 372-0989.

  • Friday, Aug. 10, 2018
Michael Moore's Trump documentary will release in September
In this May 16, 2018 file photo, Michael Moore attends the Turner Networks 2018 Upfront in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Michael Moore's Donald Trump critique "Fahrenheit 11/9" will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before hitting theaters September 21.

Moore unveiled the first look at this latest documentary Thursday, releasing a trailer online . The title is an inversion of his 2004 George W. Bush documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11," which became the highest grossing documentary ever with $222.4 million in worldwide box office. The date refers to when Trump was declared winner of the 2016 election: November 9th.

In the trailer, Moore calls Trump "the last president of the United States."

"Fahrenheit 11/9" was initially to be distributed by The Weinstein Co. but will now be distributed by Tom Ortenberg's newly launched Briarcliff Entertainment.

"Fahrenheit 11/9" will make its world premiere in Toronto on September 6.

  • Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018
Terry Crews: It's "summer of freedom" for abuse victims
Terry Crews, center, a cast member in the NBC Universal television series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," answers a question as cast members Andre Braugher, left, and Melissa Fumero look on during the 2018 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.(AP) -- 

Terry Crews said it's "the summer of freedom" for him and others who have gone public with accounts of alleged molestation.

"We can now tell our truth" and not see our lives upended, the former NFL player and actor said Wednesday. He called it "just the beginning of change."

The entertainment industry and beyond will be safer, including for "my wife, for my son and for my daughter," he said.

Crews made his remarks during a panel promoting NBC's sitcom "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." Support from his cast mates made him feel secure enough to "tell my truth and still go to work," he said, also crediting the example of women in the MeToo movement.

He alleged last year that Hollywood agent Adam Venit groped him at a party, and that top executives at William Morris Endeavor failed to discipline Venit. Prosecutors declined to file charges against Venit over the incident, citing the statute of limitations. Crews has filed a civil lawsuit.

Venit, via his attorneys, has denied all of Crews' allegations, saying in court documents that his actions toward Crews were not sexual, and Crews suffered no harm of any kind.

The actor testified earlier this year before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights.

Harassment and abuse allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein have led to numerous women coming forward with allegations of harassment and abuse against powerful men, with Crews among the few men who have added their names to the list of those claiming abuse.
 

  • Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018
Tribune calls off $3.9B buyout by Sinclair
This Oct. 12, 2004 file photo shows Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.'s headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Tribune withdrew from its $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair, ending a bid to create a massive media juggernaut that could have rivaled the reach of Fox News.

Tribune Media Co., which is on the hook for a $135 million breakup fee, said Thursday that it is filing a lawsuit against Sinclair, citing breach of contract.

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. wanted the Chicago company's 42 TV stations and had agreed to dump almost two dozen of its own to score approval by the Federal Communications Commission. The media company which has enjoyed the support of President Donald Trump, appeared to be cruising toward approval by U.S. regulators.

Last month, however,  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that he had "serious concerns" about the deal, saying that Sinclair might  still be able to operate the stations "in practice, even if not in name."

Tribune, based in Chicago, claimed Thursday that Sinclair used "unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations" with the Department of Justice and FCC over regulatory requirements and that it refused to sell the stations it needed to.

Sinclair operates 192 stations, runs 611 channels and operates in 89 U.S. markets. It would have been able to expand rapidly into numerous new markets with the Tribune acquisition.

Shares slid more than 3 percent before the opening bell.

Sinclair has become a significant outlet for conservative perspectives.

It was admonished by media watchdogs in April after dozens of Sinclair news anchors read an identical script expressing concern about "one-sided news stories plaguing the country." President Donald Trump tweeted his support of the company at the time. Sinclair defended the script as a way to distinguish its news shows from unreliable stories on social media.

The Maryland company did not immediately respond early Thursday to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018
11 producers graduate from PGA’s Power of Diversity Master Workshop
Festivities celebrating the achievements of the latest graduating class from the Producers Guild of America's Power of Diversity Master Workshop
LOS ANGELES -- 

Eleven producers representing 10 projects in TV, film, documentary and web series have completed the Producers Guild of America’s (PGA) 14TH annual Power of Diversity Master Workshop. The eight-week workshop, led by PGA Diversity chairs Julie Janata and Sasheen R. Artis, teaches master classes on pitching, premise development, film finance, line producing, demystifying the writers’ room, agents and managers, packaging, and multi-platform content delivery through VR/AR/MR/360, headlined by some of the top producers in the industry. 

This year’s speakers included: recent PGA presidents Gary Lucchesi and Lori McCreary, producers Dwight Williams, Anne Marie Gillen, Ian Bryce, former TV network executive Tom Nunan, TV showrunner Erica Shelton Kodish, XR producer John Canning, content and acquisitions executive Angela Northington and current PGA president Lucy Fisher.

“The PGA’s outstanding producer training workshop has been spearheading inclusivity through new projects and producers for 14 years, while providing powerful new voices with the essential skills to make themselves heard throughout the industry and around the world,” said Fisher. “I couldn’t be more impressed by the quality of the selection of producers and the projects they are crafting. Their commitment is inspiring, and I was very happy to be part of the workshop’s joyful finale.” 

The Power of Diversity Master Workshop participants also worked with 20 PGA member mentors for the duration of the workshop to prepare their projects for the marketplace. The Class of 2018 is:

  • Rashaan Dozier-Escalante with the TV series “McKenna’s Callings,” a female-driven actioner set in the CIA in 1978 – the dawn of modern day terrorism.
  • Morenike Joela Evans with the mother-daughter TV comedy “F.A.B. (Forty and Broke)” set in Washington D.C.
  • Georgina Gonzalez with the feature documentary, “Soul Mirror,” an in-depth look at the challenges of immigration and disability through the eyes of Larry, a Mexican immigrant who suffers from hypertrichosis, a condition that causes his entire face and body to be covered by hair.
  • Páll Grímsson with the adventure feature “Afterlands,” based on Steven Heighton’s acclaimed novel, as ethnic and nationalist conflicts doom the 1871 USS Polaris expedition to the North Pole.
  • Michael Jenson with the family feature “Up River,” as four young friends from South Central go on a quest to the tony neighborhood of Los Feliz along the Los Angeles River.
  • Sylvia L. Jones with the Chicago-based TV series “Shepherd,” which follows the police department’s Chief of Communications, Jillian Shepherd, as she navigates career, family and corruption within the city.
  • Lisa Leeman with the be four-part docu-series, “American Veda” on the influence and backlash against Yoga and Hinduism in America.
  • John Lowe with the TV comedy “Black Men Waiting,” following the lives and loves of Black gay men in Silicon Valley.
  • Jazmen Darnell Brown & Rashad Mubarak with the digital short-form hip hop series “BLOOM,” following Darnel, a misfit teen who goes to extreme lengths to swap out his geek cred for street cred at his Atlanta high school.
  • Camille Tucker with the TV comedy “Sorority Sistaz,” exploring identity and sisterhood at a fictional university in the South.

“We’re so proud of our graduates, primed to launch their projects, and proud of the Producers Guild’s long-standing commitment to inclusion,” read a statement from Master Workshop co-chairs Janata and Artis, “After so many years, there’s now a groundswell of diverse voices spreading throughout our media. Audiences are eager to embrace stories that reflect their own experience, so we’re convinced industry leaders will be just as eager to embrace these producers.”

PGA Workshop participants have gone on to produce top television shows and major films, including LaToya Morgan (two-time NAACP Image Award-nominee for “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” “Into the Badlands”), Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (“S.W.A.T.”, “Sleepy Hollow,” “CSI: NY,” “Southland”), Ben Lobato (“Ice,” “Queen of the South,” “Justified”), Hollie Overton (“Shadowhunters,” “The Client List”) and Sarah DiLeo (“Bless Me, Ultima”).

The Power of Diversity Master Workshop accepts participants from around the world and is open to members and non-members of the PGA. The Workshop is free. Applications for next year’s program will be available February 2019. For more information, click here

 

  • Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018
Japanese students use VR to recreate Hiroshima bombing
In Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, photo, Katsushi Hasegawa, standing, a computer teacher, watches members of the computation skill research club at Fukuyama Technical High School work on computer graphic software at the school in Hiroshima, western Japan. Over two years, the group of Japanese high school students has been painstakingly producing a five-minute virtual reality experience that recreates the sights and sounds of Hiroshima before, during and after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city 73 years ago. (AP Photo/Haruka Nuga)
FUKUYAMA, Japan (AP) -- 

It's a sunny summer morning in the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Cicadas chirp in the trees. A lone plane flies high overhead. Then a flash of light, followed by a loud blast. Buildings are flattened and smoke rises from crackling fires under a darkened sky.

Over two years, a group of Japanese high school students has been painstakingly producing a five-minute virtual reality experience that recreates the sights and sounds of Hiroshima before, during and after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city 73 years ago Monday.

By transporting users back in time to the moment when a city was turned into a wasteland, the students and their teacher hope to ensure that something similar never happens again.

The Aug. 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima killed 140,000 people. Three days later, a second U.S. atomic bomb killed 70,000 people in Nagasaki. Japan surrendered six days after that, ending World War II.

"Even without language, once you see the images, you understand," said Mei Okada, one of the students working on the project at a technical high school in Fukuyama, a city about 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Hiroshima. "That is definitely one of the merits of this VR experience."

Wearing virtual reality headsets, users can take a walk along the Motoyasu River prior to the blast and see the businesses and buildings that once stood. They can enter the post office and the Shima Hospital courtyard, where the skeletal remains of a building now known as the Atomic Bomb Dome stand on the river's banks, a testament to what happened.

The students, who belong to the computation skill research club at Fukuyama Technical High School, were born more than half a century after the bombing. Yuhi Nakagawa, 18, said he initially didn't have much interest in what happened when the bombs were dropped; if anything, it was a topic he had avoided.

"When I was creating the buildings before the atomic bomb fell and after, I saw many photos of buildings that were gone. I really felt how scary atomic bombs can be," he said. "So while creating this scenery, I felt it was really important to share this with others."

To recreate Hiroshima, the students studied old photographs and postcards and interviewed survivors of the bombing to hear their experiences and get their feedback on the VR footage. They used computer graphics software to add further details such as lighting and the natural wear and tear on building surfaces.

"Those who knew the city very well tell us it's done very well. They say it's very nostalgic," said Katsushi Hasegawa, a computer teacher who supervises the club. "Sometimes they start to reminisce about their memories from that time, and it really makes me glad that we created this."

The students are working through summer vacation in a classroom without air conditioning, as temperatures reach 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). With the survivors aging, Hasegawa said, it's a race against time.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018
Showtime series "Homeland" to end in 2019 with season 8
In this Tuesday, June 5, 2018 file photo, Claire Danes attends the "Homeland" FYC Event at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.(AP) -- 

Showtime says that its acclaimed series "Homeland" will end in 2019 with its eighth season.

The show's conclusion was announced Monday by Showtime Networks chief David Nevins, who called the Emmy-winning "Homeland" a game-changer for the premium cable channel.

Nevins told a TV critics' meeting that creator-producer Alex Gansa will bring the national security drama to what he called its "proper conclusion."

In a statement, Gansa said he was sad to see the series end but said that it's time.

Claire Danes stars in "Homeland," which has taken her bipolar, now former CIA agent Carrie through dangerous conflicts that sometimes mirrored real-world events.

Last season, Carrie struggled to uncover an international conspiracy trying to harm America's democratic institutions.

The final season of "Homeland" will debut in June 2019.

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