Thursday, September 21, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 2632
  • Thursday, Sep. 21, 2017
Fireflies West gears up for 10th anniversary, will ride to raise funds for City of Hope
Fireflies West cyclists

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Fireflies West connects an international community of entertainment and advertising executives who cycle 630 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness for City of Hope Hospital. Based in Duarte, Calif., City of Hope is a leading research, treatment center dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of cancer and other life threatening illnesses guided by a compassionate patient-centered philosophy. Over the last decade, nearly 250 participating Fireflies West riders, along with a supporting volunteer network, and over 30 industry sponsors, have raised close to $2 million to date for City of Hope. This years goal: $500,000.  

Beginning on October 4 in Mill Valley, 60 Fireflies West riders (the biggest group to date) will cross the Golden Gate Bridge, then traverse the rugged, winding roads down the coastline between San Francisco and Los Angeles for seven days. The riders will average 100 miles per day, forging a bond through the deep belief and motivation in their motto: “For those who suffer, we ride.” The riders will be welcomed home on October 10 with an arrivals celebration at agency 72andSunny.

Every dollar goes directly to City of Hope without any administration costs throughout, ensuring that every tax-deductible donation goes directly to fighting cancer. Moreover, the annual riders fund their own way and expenses out of their own pocket, a reflection of their incredibly generous spirits.

“I’ve always felt cycling was a means to create ideas. By propelling yourself forward you free the mind to solve problems. The Fireflies West is collection of wonderful cyclists who are actually living out this hypothesis,” said Rich Silverstein, co-founder of Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

“Every year this ride proves to me that there is an undeniable good in this world. That people want to help other people. For 10 years I have been blessed to witness this benevolence,” affirmed Bryan Farhy, founder of Fireflies West.
For more info, click here.


  • Wednesday, Sep. 20, 2017
Linda Hamilton set to return to "Terminator" franchise
In this Sept. 9, 2004 file photo, actress Linda Hamilton laughs during an interview with the Associated Press in Washington. (AP Photo/Stephen J. Boitano, File)

Linda Hamilton is returning to the "Terminator" franchise for the first time since 1991's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."

"Terminator" creator James Cameron announced Hamilton's casting at a private event in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, the Hollywood Reporter reported. Paramount Pictures, which is distributing the planned sequel, confirmed the news Wednesday.

Cameron is producing the sequel, which "Deadpool" filmmaker Tim Miller is directing. Arnold Schwarzenegger is also set to return.

Cameron, who was once married to Hamilton, recently compared Wonder Woman unfavorably to Hamilton's "Terminator" character, Sarah Connor. Cameron called Gal Gadot's superhero an "objectified icon," but said Connor was defined by "pure grit."

  • Tuesday, Sep. 19, 2017
"Stranger Things" writer Justin Doble reaches deal with Amazon Studios
Justin Doble

Stranger Things writer and producer Justin Doble has closed an overall deal with Amazon Studios. Doble will develop genre television projects exclusively for Prime Video.
“We have long admired Justin’s ability to create stories and characters that stoke fans’ passion,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, head of event series, Amazon Studios. “He has contributed to some of the best genre out there, and we are excited to collaborate with him as we build a slate of high-profile shows.”
In addition to his writing on both seasons of the multi-Emmy Award-winning Stranger Things, Doble has also written for Jason Katims’s The Path, and Millar and Gough’s Into the Badlands. He began his career as a writer on Fringe after taking part in the Warner Bros. Television Writer’s Program. He is a recipient of two WGA nominations for his work on Stranger Things.
Doble is represented by Allan Haldeman and Ben Jacobson at UTA and A.B. Fischer at the Shuman Company.

  • Tuesday, Sep. 19, 2017
Film academy president welcomes new members at private party
This combination photo shows, top row from left, Zoe Kravitz, Amy Poehler, Kate McKinnon, Maya Rudolph and Leslie Jones, second row from left, Riz Ahmed, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, Justin Timberlake and Jon Hamm, and bottom row from left, Chris Hemsworth, Elle Fanning, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dwayne Johnson and Terry Crews. (AP Photo/File)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- 

Jeanne Tripplehorn has been a professional actress for more than 25 years. But as a new member of the film academy, she's almost as giddy as her first day on set.

"I'm already involved in all these different committees," she said. "I love film so much... so to be invited to become a member of the academy is the greatest honor I could have."

Tripplehorn was among the guests at a private reception Monday for the newest members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The organization invited a record class of 774 new members in June — 39 percent female and 30 percent non-white, representing 57 countries — as part of an ongoing effort to diversify its ranks. The group previously had around 6,200 members.

Academy chief Dawn Hudson said the new membership class reflects a "re-envisioning of the academy as a truly international institution."

"You make our academy better, stronger, smarter, more open," she said as she welcomed hundreds of new members to the organization's headquarters in Beverly Hills, California. Director Tom Ford, "La La Land" composer Justin Hurwitz and actors Terry Crews and Rodrigo Santoro were among the artists who turned out to celebrate their new membership status.

Hairstylist Kenneth Walker said he always believed he would join the film academy, though it took 35 years.

After decades in Hollywood, amassing such credits as "Ali," ''American Gangster," and last year's "Loving," the 78-year-old is finally a member.

"Betty White and I decided to come in at the same time," he said. (White was also invited to join the organization this year.)

As an academy member, Walker said he plans to devote time to mentoring young talent and exploring foreign film.

Academy president John Bailey said the foreign-language film committee is his "home favorite."

"Even ones that may not quite grab the brass ring are windows into the sociopolitical temperature of their country," he said. "You'll receive sometimes startling insights into how filmmakers in the rest of the world view themselves and their own country and also how they view us. As a creative artist, this is the best gift you could give yourself between mid-October and mid-December."

Bailey, a cinematographer who joined the academy in 1981, said membership isn't about all the free DVD screeners during awards season, but connecting to the past and future of filmmaking through academy efforts to preserve film history and recruit new talent.

"Almost from the start I discovered that what was really best about being a member was getting involved in academy programs and events, not just by attending them, but by signing up for the committees," he said.

Besides the foreign-language film committee, Bailey mentioned the Student Academy Awards and Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowships, the Margaret Herrick Library archives and future academy museum opening in 2019, and the Academy Gold internship program that just concluded its inaugural summer.

Georgian filmmaker Nana Dzhordzhadze said she can hardly get her head around becoming the first from the former Soviet nation to join the film academy, much less consider what committees to sign up for. Georgia has a 110-year history of film, she said, and people there love movies.

"I'm very proud to be part of this great film academy," said Dzhordzhadze, whose films have been Georgia's contenders in the foreign-language category six times. "It's really something for my country and for myself."

  • Tuesday, Sep. 19, 2017
Nielsen says 11.4 million watch Emmy Awards
Bruce Miller, from left, Margaret Atwood, and Elisabeth Moss accept the award for outstanding drama series for "The Handmaid's Tale" at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The Nielsen company estimated that 11.4 million people watched Sunday's presentation of the Emmy Awards, roughly equivalent to last year's show honoring the year's best in television.

Stephen Colbert hosted Sunday's show for CBS. It competed with pro football and the beginning of Ken Burns' lengthy documentary on the Vietnam War. Last year's audience of 11.3 million people was the lowest ever for the Emmy Awards.

The Emmys featured a surprise appearance by former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and a heavy concentration on Trump jokes and remarks. Hulu's "The Handmaids Tale" won the Emmy for best drama, while HBO's "Veep" was named best comedy.

  • Monday, Sep. 18, 2017
Cambodia selects Angelina Jolie film as Oscar submission
In this Sept. 11, 2017 photo, Angelina Jolie, left, director/co-writer of the film "First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers," and co-writer/human rights activist Loung Ung pose for a portrait during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Angelina Jolie's "First They Killed My Father" has been named Cambodia's foreign-language submission to the Academy Awards.

The Cambodia Oscar Selection Committee announced the choice Monday, calling Jolie's Cambodian genocide drama "cathartic" and hailing it for bringing back memories "often best forgotten."

Jolie directed the adaptation of Loung Ung's memoir about her childhood during the Khmer Rouge's bloody reign. She shot it in Cambodia with a local cast.

Jolie, whose eldest son, Maddox, was born in Cambodia, has been a citizen of Cambodia since 2005. In an interview with The Associated Press, Jolie said she made the film to "help a country to speak."

Jolie's 2011 Bosnian War drama, "In the Land of Blood and Honey," was also nominated for best foreign-language film by the Golden Globes.


  • Thursday, Sep. 14, 2017
Comedy Central keeps Noah at "Daily Show" through 2022
In this May 1, 2017 file photo, Trevor Noah attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

In a strong vote of confidence for its late-night cornerstone, Comedy Central said Thursday it has agreed to a contract extension that will keep Trevor Noah as host of "The Daily Show" through 2022.

The network also said Noah would produce and host specials comedically wrapping up each year, starting in a few months.

The little-known South African comic was a leap of faith for Comedy Central when he was selected to succeed Jon Stewart at "The Daily Show" two years ago. He started slowly but has made inroads both critically and commercially.

His show has averaged 1.57 million viewers so far this quarter, up 28 percent from the same period a year ago, according to the Nielsen company. That's not at Stewart's level, but Noah is the most popular late-night comic among viewers aged 18-to-34, and he's a particular hit among people who stream highlights online.

"It's very satisfying to see our belief in him come to fruition," said Kent Alterman, Comedy Central president.

Comedy Central is now trying to replicate what it had in its glory days of Stewart and Stephen Colbert, with another alum of "The Daily Show," Jordan Klepper, beginning a new program in the time slot after Noah on Sept. 25.

"When we set out to replace Jon Stewart, we knew that would be an impossible task," Alterman said. "If the goal was to find a younger version of Jon Stewart, that was a fool's errand."

Still, many viewers came with the expectation that Noah's show would be satisfying in the same way that Stewart was, and that Noah would come into the job fully formed, he said. Instead, it took time. Viewers saw Noah approach what was going on in the United States from the perspective of an outsider, but during last year's campaign "people felt this transition where he was talking about what was happening to us, instead of what was happening to you," Alterman said.

Video clips of Noah have been streamed some 2.2 billion times since he took over, the network said. That's increasingly the way younger viewers experience late-night comedy.

Noah quipped that it's exciting to know he's under contract for five more years, "or until Kim Jong Un annihilates us all, whichever one comes first."

  • Thursday, Sep. 14, 2017
"A Fantastic Woman" could lead to trans history at Oscars
In this Sept. 9, 2017 photo, Chilean trans actress Daniela Vega, a cast member in the film "A Fantastic Woman," poses for a portrait at the The Adelaide Hotel during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

A transgender Chilean actress has turned in one of the most buzzed-about performances of the year and some are hoping she could be the first trans actor to land an Oscar nomination.

Daniela Vega, 28, stars in Sebastian Lelio's "A Fantastic Woman." She plays Marina, a transgender woman whose partner (Francisco Reyes) dies, after which Marina is subjected to harsh treatment by the family of her deceased lover and by police investing the death.

Chile has selected the film as its Academy Awards submission this year. But the bigger spotlight may be on whether Vega's breakout performance — one of stirring strength and compassion — could make Oscar history. Reviewing the movie at its Berlin Film Festival premiere, Variety called her performance "a multi-layered, emotionally polymorphous feat of acting," that deserves "so much more than political praise."

While several transgender musicians have been Oscar-nominated, no trans performer has ever earned an acting nod.

"It's too early to talk about that, to think about it. I have lots of festivals to attend, lots of dresses to wear," Vega said with a grin in an interview. "The Oscars are a little bit beyond the timeline I'm thinking about right now. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

Vega and "A Fantastic Woman" will not have an easy road to the Oscars. Performances in foreign-language films rarely break into the acting categories, and this year, like most, the field of potential contenders boasts plenty of heavyweight, bigger-name performers like Meryl Streep ("The Post") and Jessica Chastain ("Molly's Game").

But Vega has two things going for her: the depth of her performance and the possibility of a long-awaited Oscar landmark. Such a result could have great meaning for a trans community that President Donald Trump recently banned from entering the military.

"If we broaden our gaze, it will be more interesting, more beautiful. If we can make more diverse colors, people, stories, it will be interesting," said Vega. "Uniforms are for the military and the police, not for our thinking."

Hollywood has far from shied away from telling transgender stories, but the industry has come under increasing criticism for not casting them in high-profile parts. Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry") and Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers Club") have taken home awards, and movies like 2015's "The Danish Girl," with Eddie Redmayne, and 2005's "Transamerica," with Felicity Huffman, have garnered nominations.

While those films and the Amazon series "Transparent" have been widely applauded, pressure has mounted urging producers to cast trans actors for trans parts. Progress has instead come in smaller, offbeat productions like Sean Baker's "Tangerine," the much-lauded 2015 film Baker shot with iPhones. It starred a pair of transgender performers, Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. Taylor last year won an Independent Spirit Award for her performance.

"There is very beautiful transgender talent," Taylor said, accepting the supporting actress award. "You better get out there and put it in your movie."

Transgender people have been nominated in other Oscar categories. The composer Angela Morley received two nods, for 1974's "The Little Prince" and 1976's "The Slipper and the Rose."

Most recently, singer Anohni, formerly known as Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, became the first transgendered performer ever nominated. She collaborated with J. Ralph on the nominated song "Manta Ray" for the documentary "Racing Extinction." But when the category's other nominees — Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, the Weeknd — were given performing slots during the 2016 broadcast, Anohni was not, and she opted to boycott the ceremony.

In a fiery essay announcing her refusal to attend, Anohni declared: "They are going to try to convince us that they have our best interests at heart by waving flags for identity politics and fake moral issues."

Whether Vega — and Oscar voters — can change history won't be decided for months. Sony Picture Classics, which has guided performers to dozens of Academy Award nominations, will release the film on Nov. 17. For now, Vega is soaking up her moment.

"It's like living a dream," said Vega. "It's like a film in a film."

  • Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2017
VES names the 70 most influential VFX films of all time
A scene from "Ex Machina" (photo courtesy of A24)

The Visual Effects Society (VES) has released its definitive VES 70: The Most Influential Visual Effects Films of All Time.  The original VES member-chosen VES 50 list was created in 2007, marking one decade since the organization’s inception.  In commemoration of the VES’ milestone 20th anniversary, the global membership--now almost triple the size of the membership first polled--added films from 2015 and earlier to the prestigious VFX honor roll.  The goal of the two polls was to result in 50 and 20 films respectively, but each poll had ties for the final slots, thus the list includes 72 total films.
“The VES 70 represents films that have had a significant, lasting impact on the practice and appreciation of visual effects as an integral element of cinematic expression and storytelling,” said Mike Chambers, VES board chair.  “We see this as an important opportunity for our members, leading visual effects practitioners worldwide, to pay homage to our heritage and help shape the future of the global visual effects community. In keeping with our mission to recognize and advance outstanding art and innovation in the VFX field, the VES 70 now forms a part of our legacy that we can pass down to future generations of filmmakers as a valuable point of reference.” 
Films included in the VES 70 span from the early 1900’s to 2015.  The earliest entry on the list is A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune), the seminal 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès, whose iconic image exemplifies the VES’ legacy--past, present and future. The most current entries are Academy Award winner for Best Visual Effects, Ex Machina, and the critically acclaimed Mad Max: Fury Road, both from 2015.  The ballot, voted on by VES members in Summer 2017, was limited to features from 2015 and earlier, to help ensure that the candidates have had a lasting impact and that voting was not unduly influenced by the most recent VES Award winners.
The VES 70: The Most Influential Visual Effects Films of All Time is presented in alphabetical order (the newly added films are noted in bold italics).
300 (2007)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

A Trip to the Moon (1902)

The Abyss (1989)

Alien (1979)

Aliens (1986)

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Apollo 13 (1995)

Avatar (2009)

Babe (1995)

Back to the Future (1985)

Blade Runner (1982)

Citizen Kane (1941)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1958)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

District 9 (2009)

E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982)

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Ex Machina (2015)

Fantastic Voyage (1966)

The Fifth Element (1997)

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Forrest Gump (1994)

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Godzilla (1954)

Gravity (2013)

Inception (2010)

Independence Day (1996)

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

Jaws (1975)

Jurassic Park (1993)

King Kong (1933)

King Kong (2005)

Life of Pi (2012)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The Lost World (1925)

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Mary Poppins (1964)

The Mask (1994)

The Matrix (1999)

Metropolis (1927)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Return of the Jedi (1983)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Sin City (2005)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Star Wars (1977)

Starship Troopers (1997)

Superman: The Movie (1978)

The Ten Commandments (1956)

The Terminator (1984)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

The Thing (1982)

Titanic (1997)

Total Recall (1990)

Toy Story (1995)

Tron (1982)

Transformers (2007)

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

The War of the Worlds (1953)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

What Dreams May Come (1998)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

  • Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2017
Study finds Asian-American characters "tokens" on TV
In this image released by ABC, Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu appear in a scene from the new comedy series "Fresh Off the Boat." (AP Photo/ABC, Nicole Wilder)

TV's Asian-American characters are so frequently slighted that even programs set in the biggest, most diverse cities leave them out of the picture, a new study found.

For "Tokens on the Small Screen," professors and scholars at six California universities looked at 242 broadcast, cable and digital platform shows that aired during the 2015-16 season and tallied the numbers, screen time and portrayals of characters of Asian or Pacific Islander descent among 2,000 TV characters.

The report released Tuesday, a follow-up to broadcast TV studies done in 2005 and 2006, found increasing opportunities for Asian-American actors but concluded they are still underrepresented and "their characters remain marginalized and tokenized on screen."

There was a sense of optimism with the emergence of ABC's "Fresh Off the Boat" and "Dr. Ken" and Netflix's "Master of None," all starring and focused on Asian-Americans, said Nancy Wong Yuen, a Biola University associate professor and one of the study's authors.

"It felt like, 'Oh, we're finally making it,'" Yuen said in an interview. "But even ("Dr. Ken" star) Ken Jeong said, "Of this many shows, we only have three?'"

The cancellations of Jeong's sitcom and the Netflix historical drama "Marco Polo," which featured a hefty number of Asian characters, showed how tenuous the hold on representation is, the study said.

A third (34.5 percent) of all Asian or Asian-American characters were found to be on just 11 shows — with the 14 characters on "Marco Polo" alone making up 10 percent of the total — which sets up a "risk of greater decimation when networks decide to cancel even one show," according to the report.

The concentration of characters on a few shows also means that many viewers never see an Asian-American on screen, which the study says "effectively erases" them from a large part of the TV landscape.

There are 155 shows that lack a single Asian-American character, including 63 of broadcast and basic cable series and 74 percent of premium cable shows, the study found.

The exclusion is startling on shows set in urban areas. Among all New York-based shows, which has an Asian-American population of 13 percent, 70 percent of shows lacked a single series regular of that ethnicity. More than 50 percent of shows set in Los Angeles, with a population that's 14 percent Asian, lacked any such characters.

Other study findings:

— Among all series regulars, white characters represent 69.5 percent; African-Americans 14 percent; Latinos, 5.9 percent, and Asian and Pacific Islanders were 4.3 percent. Their numbers among the U.S. populations: white, 61.3 percent; black, 13.3 percent; Latino, 17.8 percent, Asian-Americans, 5.9 percent.

— Four Pacific Islanders were found to be series regulars, including Dwyane Johnson of "Ballers"; Uli Latukefu of "Marco Polo"; Keisha Castle-Hughes of "Roadies," and Cliff Curtis of "Fear the Walking Dead." That represents 0.2 percent, or half of their slice of the U.S. population, the report said.

— Eighty-seven percent of Asian-American series regulars are on screen for less than half an episode, with white series regulars on screen three times longer than their Asian-American counterparts.

Besides Biola, the study included participants from California State University, Fullerton; University of California, Los Angeles; Thomas Jefferson School of Law; San Jose State University, and the University of San Francisco.