Sunday, April 23, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 2395
  • Saturday, Apr. 22, 2017
Hollywood agent and producer Sandy Gallin dies at 76 
In this May 1999 photo, Sandy Gallin who was then chief of Mirage Entertainment and Sports, Inc. stands in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. (Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Sandy Gallin, an agent and talent manager who guided the careers of such luminaries as Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Cher and Nicole Kidman, as well as being a TV, movie and Broadway producer, has died in Los Angeles. He was 76.

Gallin died Friday after a long battle with multiple myeloma, according to close friend Bruce Bozzi. "We lost a shining light this morning," Bozzi wrote on Instagram in tribute.

Other Gallin clients included Neil Diamond, Joan Rivers, Mariah Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Renee Zellweger, Lily Tomlin, Martin Lawrence, Paul Lynde and Howie Mandell.

He helped produce such films as 1991's "Father of the Bride" and 1994's "I.Q" starring Tim Robbins, as well as the TV shows "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel." He earned a Primetime Emmy Award in 1980 for producing "The Miracle Worker," starring Melissa Gilbert.

He also managed Michael Jackson after the pop star was accused of molestation and guided Milli Vanilli when the performers were stripped of their Grammy Award after it was discovered they had not sung on their hit album.

On Broadway, Gallin produced the 2002 Tony Award-nominated revival of "Man of La Mancha," starring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and a revival of "Hedda Gabler" with Kate Burton.

Gallin was raised in New York City and was a graduate of Boston University. He broke into the agency business in the traditional manner, starting in the mail room of the G.A.C. agency. He took typing and shorthand in night school, became a secretary, then an agent.

"I booked the Sullivan show for seven years," he told The Associated Press in 1983. "I saw how Ed operated, how he gave talent the best possible exposure. It was a brilliant operation."

Gallin continued up the agency ladder, later joined with Raymond Katz in the powerhouse Katz-Gallin agency. He appeared in front of cameras in the mid-1980s as host for "Live ... and In Person," NBC's hourlong extravaganzas. In later life, he sold houses and did luxury renovations.

  • Saturday, Apr. 22, 2017
"Avatar" sequels now scheduled to start in December 2020 
This March 27, 2012, file photo shows filmmaker James Cameron poses in London. Cameron set the release dates for the next four “Avatar” sequels, with the first coming in 2020. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

James Cameron has set the release dates for the next four "Avatar" sequels, with the first coming in 2020.

The movie's Facebook page Saturday posted a photo of Cameron and his massive film crew, who have been working on all four films simultaneously. The post said "Avatar 2" will hit theaters Dec. 18, 2020, and "Avatar 3" comes a year later, on Dec. 17, 2021.

The franchise then takes a three-year hiatus before returning with "Avatar 4" on Dec. 20, 2024, and "Avatar 5" on Dec. 19, 2025. The first sequel had been expected in 2018 but Cameron this year said that timetable wouldn't be met.

The original 2009 "Avatar" film has netted over $2.7 billion, centering on the conflict between humans and the blue-skinned alien race Na'vi of Pandora.

  • Saturday, Apr. 22, 2017
Actress Octavia Spencer to speak at Kent State commencement 
In this Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, file photo, Octavia Spencer arrives at the Oscars on at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
KENT, Ohio (AP) -- 

Kent State University's first universitywide commencement will get a touch of Hollywood as Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer speaks to graduates of the northeastern Ohio school.

Spencer recently starred as mathematician Dorothy Vaughan in the drama "Hidden Figures." The film tells the true story of several female African-American mathematicians at NASA key to the 1960's era space race between the United States and Russia.

Spencer says it's an honor to share her personal story at Kent State.

She says she hopes her message "inspires others to dream big, never give up and pursue their passion despite the obstacles that might get in the way."

The May 13 ceremony will be the first where all graduates from the eight-campus system are honored in one place.

  • Friday, Apr. 21, 2017
Shonda Rhimes tells all...about how to be a screenwriter 
In this April 8, 2017 file photo, Shonda Rhimes attends the "Scandal" 100th Episode Celebration at Fig & Olive in West Hollywood, Calif. Rhimes, the mastermind behind "Grey's Anatomy" and other TV hits, is sharing her screenwriting expertise through an online master class. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Shonda Rhimes, the TV mastermind whose hits include "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," keeps a lid on plot twists. But she's giving aspiring screenwriters a behind-the-scenes look at how to succeed in her craft.

In six hours of online classes, Rhimes offers lessons on writing scripts, pitching pilots, and how series' writers work together to create stories and screenplays. Scripts from "Scandal" and the "story bible" that laid out the characters and structure of "Grey's Anatomy" are part of her masterclass.com course.

So why spill?

"I love the idea that for $90, somebody who couldn't afford to go to film school would get to take this class," Rhimes said. "No matter where you are, what you were doing, where you were in life, you could stop for a little bit of time and take this class and get this education."

"It felt like an equalizer to me, and that was great," she said of the project from San Francisco-based company MasterClass, adding, "I'm also the child of professors, so it seems to be the way to go: You teach things."

The so-called second golden age of television with its expanded number of outlets, including streaming platforms, has created new but not unlimited opportunities. Breaking into the competitive field requires creative thinking on and off the page, Rhimes suggested.

She went the "film school route," she said, but there are other ways to get started.

"I would suggest getting a job as a PA (production assistant), anywhere, because it is a way in and lot of this is about knowing people," Rhimes said. Entering - and winning - the many available writing contests is another path, she said.

Keep in mind the advantage of writing over other entertainment industry occupations, Rhimes said.

"For young TV writers trying to get in, writing is the only job you can do in this business when no one is hiring you to do it," she said. "You can sit at your computer or your legal pad and write a script ... and have a calling card."

And there are jobs to be had, she assures the hopeful. That includes at Shondaland, her production company that also is behind "How to Get Away with Murder."

"We're always looking for people not from here (the industry), because they have new and fresh voices," Rhimes said.

  • Friday, Apr. 21, 2017
SAG-AFTRA reaches tentative agreement on new music video contract
LOS ANGELES -- 

SAG-AFTRA announced that it has reached a tentative agreement with the major record labels — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Disney Music Group— for a successor to their industry-wide contract covering dancers and other performers on music videos. The original agreement was approved in June 2012.

The new two-year agreement was reached in the early evening hours of April 20. The first round of talks between the union and label representatives began on December 6, 2016, in Los Angeles with successive rounds in February and April.

Details of the agreement will not be released until it is reviewed by the SAG-AFTRA National Board at its regularly scheduled meeting April 22 – 23.

  • Friday, Apr. 21, 2017
Carrie Fisher's "Catastrophe" co-stars recall her final days
In this Monday, Oct. 10, 2016, file photo, actress Carrie Fisher attends a special screening of, "Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds," at Alice Tully Hall in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

The creators of Amazon's "Catastrophe," which stars Carrie Fisher in one of her final roles, said they were shocked by her unexpected death last year and had bigger plans for her character.

"We had no idea. I don't think she had any idea," series star and co-creator Rob Delaney said in an interview Thursday.

On Dec. 23, Fisher was returning to Los Angeles from London after shooting her final scenes for season three of "Catastrophe." She suffered a medical emergency aboard the flight and died on Dec. 27 at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Fisher, 60, played Delaney's mother, Mia, in the series about a couple navigating the highs and lows of marriage and parenthood. The new season begins streaming April 28.

The show also stars Sharon Horgan, who spent time with Fisher the night before her fateful flight.

"We had dinner and she skipped off to her room," said Horgan, who is also a "Catastrophe" co-creator. "And she had been at the antique market earlier that day and she was showing me all these lovely little bits and pieces that she bought for her mom to bring back."

Fisher's mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, died the day after her daughter. Reynolds was 84.

Horgan said Fisher spoke of a renewed excitement about her acting career and "had massive plans to do more of that."

"She brought her incredible, crazy, hilarious, warm, kind personality, but she also brought us the character of Mia. You know, we wrote it down, but she made her the brilliant monster that she is," Horgan said. "I miss her, but I'll miss her in our show, you know, I'll miss that character and I'll miss being able to tell that character's story."

Delaney and Horgan said they deeply regret not having more time with the actress and her "Catastrophe" character.

"Only now am I realizing — because I've been sad as a human being and friend of hers — but yeah, I do feel now stolen from," Delaney said.

"We wanted to do a lot more with Carrie. I was only just beginning to be invited to her house!" Horgan said. "We wanted to tell more about that character. We wanted to flesh her out more and give her a story and a reason for her behavior. And the only reason why we did that is because Carrie made us want to do that."

  • Thursday, Apr. 20, 2017
"The X-Files" set to return on Fox
This photo provided by FOX shows, David Duchovny, left, as Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully in an episode of "The X-Files." (Ed Araquel/FOX via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

The truth is out there: "The X-Files" is coming back.

Fox said Thursday it has ordered a second chapter of what it's calling an "X-Files" ''event series." The 10-episode series will air during the upcoming 2017-18 TV season.

The 1993-2002 drama about paranormal events and UFOs returned in 2016 for a six-episode run with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

Fox said Duchovny and Anderson will be back as Mulder and Scully for the new season from creator and executive producer Chris Carter.

Production on "The X-Files" is set to begin this summer. An air date was not announced by Fox.

  • Thursday, Apr. 20, 2017
Harvey Weinstein objects to R rating for trans teen film 
In this Feb. 10, 2016 file photo, Harvey Weinstein attends amfAR's New York Gala honoring Harvey Weinstein at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Harvey Weinstein knows he can be temperamental, and he knows he's not above a good publicity stunt, but he said Thursday his complaints over an R rating for his company's upcoming trans teen family story "3 Generations" are worth the effort on behalf of prospective young trans viewers.

Starring Elle Fanning as a girl who wants to transition, the Motion Picture Association of America assigned the restrictive R based on strong language, including some sexual references. The film, which opens with a limited release in Los Angeles and New York on May 5, also stars Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon.

The dust up is similar to Weinstein's ratings complaint for "Bully" in 2012. The Weinstein Company successfully challenged that film's R rating and the MPAA knocked it down to PG-13.

"I am not complaining about it when we do a horror movie, you know, when we do 'It Follows.' We understand we live by the rules," Weinstein said. "When the movie has something of social importance to say, I think it's important that we stand up. I admit that I'm temperamental but nevertheless I try to fight for good. This is insane."

The MPAA released a statement Thursday saying the rating system is designed to give parents consistent information about the content in a film and that it does update the system as attitudes change.

"None of the ratings indicate whether a film is good, bad, or otherwise, nor is (its) purpose to prescribe social policy," the statement said. "This system has withstood the test of time because, as American parents' sensitivities change, so too does the rating system."

Weinstein has been accused of publicity-seeking through ratings complaints in the past. In this case, he said, an R rating would mean trans youth under 17 without adult accompaniment could not see the story of a New York family struggling with the transition of Fanning's character, Ray.

"Honestly, this is not a publicity attempt," Weinstein said. "If it was I'd just say so because I don't care. I find nothing wrong with seeking publicity. This is issue oriented."

Sarah Kate Ellis, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, sent a letter earlier this week to MPAA officials urging reconsideration of the R rating.

"All that differentiates the film from other PG-13 films is a few instances of strong language," she said in the letter. "The film does not include graphic violence, drug use, or nudity - it merely portrays a modern family."

  • Thursday, Apr. 20, 2017
LA’s violent uprising of 1992 returns to TV 25 years later 
In this April 29, 1992 file photo, demonstrators protest the verdict in the Rodney King beating case in front of the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters in Los Angeles. Six documentaries about the 1992 Los Angeles riots are being released to mark the 25th anniversary of the most destructive civil disturbance in US history. Most are coming to TV this month. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Toward the end of “L.A. Burning,” a new documentary about the fiery and deadly 1992 Los Angeles riots, a man who lived through the turmoil issues an ominous warning about the future.

“If we don’t change the way we interact with the police and they interact with us, y’all might as well just welcome the next riot,” he says.

The juxtaposition of the historic uprising with today’s high-profile police shootings of black men and the Black Lives Matter movement is the crux of six separate documentaries marking the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, which exploded after four white police officers were acquitted of severely beating black motorist Rodney King. The ensuing carnage was the worst civil unrest in US history, leaving 55 people dead and more than 2,000 injured.

Oscar winner John Ridley and Oscar nominee John Singleton are among the filmmakers using the anniversary to re-examine the events that led to the unrest and contextualize them for a new generation. All six films premiere this week.

“Whether there are five, six or seven films, I don’t think there can be enough stories,” Ridley said in a recent interview. “It’s almost stunning, considering the scope and scale of that event, what it meant in the moment and how people still view it, that it’s taken this long for these stories to come out.”

It’s unusual to have six documentaries on the same subject released almost simultaneously, though it could become more commonplace in today’s multi-option media landscape. By comparison, two films were released around the riots’ 20th anniversary in 2012.

Since then, Rodney King has died. Florida teen Trayvon Martin was shot and his killer acquitted. The Black Lives Matter movement was born. And the nation transitioned from the leadership of its first black president, Barack Obama, to the uncertainties of Donald Trump’s administration.

“I look at the conditions across our country right now and I’m thinking we certainly didn’t learn much in the last 25 years,” retired Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Michael Moulin says in “L.A. Burning.” He was on duty in South Los Angeles when the riots broke out and appears in several of the new films.

Besides the six documentaries marking the riots’ anniversary, a digital story archive and a virtual-reality project aim to make sense of the events for today’s viewers.

Anniversaries often inspire reflection, and the proliferation of outlets airing documentaries has created more opportunities for filmmakers interested in exploring the past, said Todd Boyd, a professor of cinema and media studies at the USC School for Cinematic Arts. He points to the O.J. Simpson murder case, which was the subject of narrative and documentary retellings in 2016, 21 years after Simpson was acquitted.

“As time passes, people look back on certain eras or events and reconsider them for a new age,” Boyd said. “We’re in a moment now where people are reconsidering that early ‘90s era, whether it’s the Rodney King beating, the riots or O.J.”

Those events all spoke to race relations, which may be as fractious now as they were then.

“I think that people just feel (the riots) are a really important cautionary tale right now,” said Molly Gale, a 27-year-old filmmaker developing a virtual-reality project with the Los Angeles Times. “Flash Point: An Immersive 360 Look at Photographing the L.A. Riots,” premiering April 29, was “borne out of our own lack of understanding of how huge the riots really were,” she said.

“This project is aiming to reach the millennials to make them understand the history of these places they’re living in,” she said.

Another interactive project, KTown92, focuses on stories about the riots from residents of Koreatown.

Documentarian Sacha Jenkins saw his film “Burn Motherf-----, Burn” as a way to establish historical context for today’s police shootings and demands for justice.

“What I was trying to say with the film is this thing goes way back to slavery, and it goes way back to the grievances that African-Americans have had this whole time,” he said. “I wanted people to be able to see this and do the math and let that math add up to where we are now.”

Filmmaker Mark Ford wrote and directed a movie in 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the riots, “Uprising: Hip Hop and the LA Riots.” For the 25th anniversary, he produced two different documentaries, “L.A. Burning” and “L.A. Riots: 25 Years Later.”

“Police abuse is as prevalent, if not more, than it was 25 years ago,” Ford said. “We all see the images across our social media pretty much every day. As filmmakers, we just want to be part of the conversation as to why this is happening and what are potential solutions.”

Singleton, a producer of “L.A. Burning” and an LA native, has been close to the riots for a long time. He left the Simi Valley, California, set of his film “Poetic Justice” for the nearby courthouse shortly after the verdict in the King case was read. Singleton appears in news footage from 1992 and also gives extensive interviews in the new documentary.

“This event affected all of us cross-culturally through the city,” he said after a recent screening. “How can we learn from this so there’s not another flash point?”

  • Wednesday, Apr. 19, 2017
Viggo Mortensen slams Argentina's Macri over film policies
In this Feb. 26, 2017 file photo, Viggo Mortensen arrives at the Oscars, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Al Powers/Invision/AP File)
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- 

Oscar-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen is joining a protest by Argentine actors against the government's decision to fire the head of the country's film institute.

In a video posted online, Mortensen also calls center-right President Mauricio Macri a "neoliberal braggard" who seeks to plunder the financial resources of Argentina's thriving film industry. The Danish-American actor lived until age 11 in Argentina, where he learned Spanish and became a fan of the San Lorenzo soccer club.

"Argentina's film pays for itself and is a source of pride for all Argentines," Mortensen said in fluent Spanish in the video, wearing a San Lorenzo T-shirt. "The state support to the film industry in counties like Argentina and France are unique and successful examples of the cultural promotion and are admired worldwide."

A group of actors and members of Argentina's film chamber say the recent firing of INCAA Film Institute President Alejandro Cacetta was part of a plan by Macri to intervene and defund the industry. Argentina's culture minister says Cacetta failed to act against film industry officials who were suspected of corruption during the administration of Macri's left-leaning predecessor, Cristina Fernandez.

Macri's government says there are no plans to cut back funding for Argentina's film industry, which is self-financed through taxes on ticket sales and other costs that are charged to private companies and TV channels.

Mortensen, best known as Aragorn in "The Lord of the Rings" films, returns often to Argentina, where he shot the film "Todos Tenemos un Plan ("Everybody Has a Plan")'' in 2010. He has had roles in dozens of movies, including "Eastern Promises" and "Captain Fantastic," which earned him Oscar nominations for best actor.