Monday, January 23, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 44
  • Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
Report: "Net neutrality" foe Ajit Pai is new FCC head 
In this Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 file photo, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai presents his dissent during a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hearing at the FCC in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

President Donald Trump has reportedly picked a fierce critic of the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules to be chief regulator of the nation's airwaves and internet connections.

Citing unidentified people, Bloomberg and Politico both reported Friday that the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission will be Ajit Pai, an old hand at the agency. Pai's chief of staff, Matthew Berry, declined to comment. Neither Trump administration spokesman Bryan Lanza nor FCC spokesmen immediately replied to requests for comment.

Pai is one of the two Republican commissioners on a 5-member panel that regulates the country's communications infrastructure, including TV, phone and internet service.

The Republicans' FCC majority would help them roll back pro-consumer policies that upset many phone and cable industry groups, including net neutrality rules that bar internet service providers from favoring some websites and apps over others.

AN INDUSTRY-FRIENDLY FCC
Pai has long maintained that the FCC under former chairman Thomas Wheeler had overstepped its bounds, suggesting that he would steer the agency in a direction more favorable to big phone and cable companies. In a December speech, he expressed confidence that the 2015 net neutrality rules would be undone and said the FCC needed to take a "weed whacker" to what he considered unnecessary regulations that hold back investment and innovation.

Consumer advocates have been concerned that a deregulation-minded FCC could potentially allow more huge mergers, overturn new protections for internet users and lead to higher costs for media and technology companies that rely on the internet to reach consumers.

Pai opposed online privacy regulations that force broadband providers to ask consumers for permission before using their data, saying they are more onerous than the requirements for internet companies like Google and Facebook.

He voted against approving Charter Communication's $67 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable and a smaller company, Bright House - not because he opposed the merger, but because he thought some of the conditions required by the FCC, like barring data caps on home internet service, amounted to government meddling in business.

PAI VS. THE ZERO RATING
Pai also criticized an FCC report on "zero rating" earlier this month, characterizing it as a meaningless document that won't influence the FCC under Trump. The report, issued in the last days of the Obama administration, took issue with the way companies like AT&T and Verizon exempted their own video services from wireless data caps, effectively making them cheaper to stream on phones and tablets than rival services such as Netflix.

Future big media and telecom mergers may get a friendlier review under a Pai-led FCC. Pai voted to approve AT&T's 2015 acquisition of DirecTV. And while he told the Wall Street Journal in December 2013 that the Obama administration was likely to oppose Comcast's failed effort to acquire Time Warner Cable - he was right - he added that a Republican administration would be more likely to approve it.

The FCC currently has a 2-1 Republican majority and two empty seats, which will be filled by one Republican and one Democrat.

Pai, an Indian-American from Kansas, has been an FCC commissioner since 2012. During his roughly 15 years in government, he's been a Senate staffer and worked at the FCC and the Justice Department. He was also a lawyer for Verizon and an attorney at the law firm Jenner & Block.

  • Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
Animal treatment questions cancel "A Dog's Purpose" premiere 
This image released by Universal Pictures shows Dennis Quaid with a dog, voiced by Josh Gad, in a scene from "A Dog's Purpose." A spokesman for American Humane said Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 that it has suspended its safety representative who worked on the set of the film when a frightened German shepherd, not shown, was forced into churning waters. (Joe Lederer/Universal Pictures via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

This weekend's premiere of "A Dog's Purpose" has been canceled following the release of a video that appears to show a frightened dog being forced into churning water during production of the film.

TMZ published video Wednesday that shows a man struggling to put a dog into a pool of rushing water while the dog fights to stay out.

Producer Amblin Entertainment and distributor Universal Pictures haven't disputed the authenticity of the footage.

They say in a joint statement that Universal decided to cancel the premiere because Amblin's review of the video is ongoing and they don't want "anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between animals and humans."

"While we are all disheartened by the appearance of an animal in distress, everyone has assured us that Hercules the German Shepherd was not harmed throughout the filmmaking," the statement said.

The companies say the film will be released nationwide as scheduled Jan. 27.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called the cancellation of the premiere "appropriate" after earlier calling for a boycott of the film.

  • Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017
Target names Rick Gomez new chief marketing officer 
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Target says it is promoting Rick Gomez to executive vice president and chief marketing officer as the Minneapolis discounter looks to reverse traffic declines at its stores.

Gomez, who joined Target in 2013 as senior vice president of marketing, succeeds Jeff Jones effective Jan. 29. Jones left last August to take a job at ride-hailing company Uber.

Target said Thursday Gomez will be responsible for bolstering Target's brand position and integrating all of its marketing programs as it increasingly competes with online king Amazon.com. He will report to CEO and Chairman Brian Cornell.

The move comes as Target cut its fourth-quarter profit and sales outlook earlier this week as its surging online business wasn't enough to offset sluggish holiday traffic and weak sales in its stores.

  • Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017
Northern Lights acquires Fanclub Creative; combined agency to be led by Keith Kopnicki
Keith Kopnicki
NEW YORK -- 

Northern Lights, based in NY, has acquired agency Fanclub Creative, and will incorporate the shop under the Northern Lights banner to create a holistic agency offering.  The combined agency, which will expand upon existing creative, editorial and finishing services, will be led by sr. creative director/writer Keith Kopnicki.

The combined entertainment company will be strongly positioned to strategize, concept and execute all facets of launches, promo campaigns, sizzles, trailers, upfronts, episodics and co-branded/integrated assignments, while continuing to offer stand-alone editorial and finishing services.

Brooklyn resident Kopnicki started his career in 2002 at TNN where he penned the first image campaign for new network Spike TV. He quickly climbed the ranks and began producing and writing major network campaigns, eventually moving on to USA Network, Fuse and A&E, where he served as creative director, before launching Fanclub Creative in 2014. Kopnicki led the creative vision for the agency, crafting work for a wide array of networks and creative aesthetics.
 
“Keith is an extremely talented creative director and a perfect fit for leading the next step in the evolution of the Northern Lights brand,” noted partner David Gioiella. 
 
Kopnicki added, “I’m really looking forward to joining creative forces with Northern Lights. I feel that bringing together our strengths and experiences will allow us to extend their track record of growth, and produce very exciting, effective creative campaigns.”

  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017
Paul McCartney files lawsuit against Sony/ATV over copyright 
This Dec. 19, 2016 file photo shows Paul McCartney as he arrives for a screening of "This Beautiful Fantastic" at the SVA Theatre in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Paul McCartney says he wants his music to get back to where it once belonged.

McCartney filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday against Sony/ATV over copyright ownership of the many hit songs he wrote with John Lennon as part of The Beatles.

The copyrights were famously bought by Michael Jackson in 1985 and then fully sold over to Sony/ATV following his death. McCartney has long wanted the copyrights, and the filing says he has sent notice to Sony/ATV saying that he will claim them back under a provision of U.S. copyright law that makes that possible after a certain time.

The first song eligible to be claimed back is "Love Me Do," in October 2018. The rest of the catalog would follow in years after, ending in 2026.

McCartney wants a ruling to say his claiming them doesn't represent a legal breach of any contract or publishing agreement that Sony/ATV could use against him.

"Defendants have attempted to reserve their rights to challenge Paul McCartney's exercise of his termination rights on contractual ground," the filing says.

It adds, "A judicial declaration is necessary and appropriate at this time so that Paul McCartney can rely on quiet, unclouded title to his rights."

Sony/ATV said it had "the highest respect" for McCartney.

"We have collaborated closely with both Sir Paul and the late John Lennon's Estate for decades to protect, preserve and promote the catalog's long-term value," the company said, adding that it was "disappointed" over the filing of the lawsuit, which it said is "unnecessary and premature."

  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017
Courtney Simon to Receive Writers Guild East's Jablow Award
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) announced that Courtney Simon will be honored with the Richard B. Jablow Award at the 69th annual Writers Guild Awards at New York’s Edison Ballroom on Sunday, February 19, 2017.
 
The Jablow award was established in 1978 to recognize devoted service to the Guild. It was created in honor of Richard B. Jablow, who helped found the WGAE, authored its constitution and served as its first counsel.
 
A Guild member since 1980, Simon has written for twelve different daytime dramas, including AS THE WORLD TURNS, SANTA BARBARA, GUIDING LIGHT and ALL MY CHILDREN. She has won seven Daytime Emmy Awards and seven Writers Guild Awards.
 
Simon has served on the WGAE Council since 2007, where she has been active in lobbying efforts to promote a diversity-based tax credit in New York state.  She co-chairs the WGAE Diversity Coalition, is a member of the Awards Committee and has been chair of the Daytime Committee.
 
“Not only is Courtney Simon a gifted writer who has mastered the intricacies of daytime drama, she has been a dedicated member of the Writers Guild of America, East council and a hardworking contributor to a number of union committees, most recently as co-chair of our Diversity Coalition,” noted Michael Winship, President of the Writers Guild of America, East. “No one is more deserving of our Jablow Award, presented to someone who has so thoroughly devoted herself to the Writers Guild of America, East.”
 
In addition to Courtney Simon being honored with the Jablow Award, John Waters will be presented with the Ian McLellan Hunter Award for Career Achievement, Steve O’Donnell will be honored with the Herb Sargent Award for Comedy Excellence and Jelani Cobb will be presented with the inaugural Walter Bernstein Award.
 
The 2017 Writers Guild Awards ceremony in New York will be hosted by Lewis Black. The initial list of presenters includes Becky Ann Baker (“Girls”), Dylan Baker (“The Americans”), Danielle Brooks (“Orange Is The New Black”), Bill Camp (“The Night Of”), David Harbour (“Stranger Things”), Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”), Jill Kargman (“Odd Mom Out”), Jane Krakowski (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Elizabeth Marvel (“Homeland”), Amber Ruffin (“Late Night With Seth Meyers”), David Simon (“The Deuce”), Christian Slater (“Mr. Robot”), Triumph The Insult Comic Dog (“Triumph’s Election Special’) and Steve Young (“Maya & Marty”).
 
The Writers Guild Awards honor outstanding writing in film, television, new media, videogames, news, radio, promotional, and graphic animation categories. The awards will be presented at concurrent ceremonies on Sunday, February 19, 2017, in New York City at the Edison Ballroom and in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017
"Will & Grace" 10-episode revival set for 2017-18 season 
In this Jan. 16, 2006 file photo, cast members from the comedy series "Will & Grace," from left, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, Debra Messing and Megan Mullally, pose backstage after making an award presentation at the 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- 

"Will & Grace" is making a comeback.

NBC said Wednesday that 10 new episodes are set to air during the 2017-18 season. The series will feature original stars Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally.

Series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are aboard as executive producers, and series director James Burrows also will be back, NBC said.

In a statement, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt called the series groundbreaking for its witty approach to social issues including gay rights.

Discussions about reviving "Will & Grace" began immediately after the stars appeared in an election-themed reunion video last September, said Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment.

"Will & Grace" aired from 1998 to 2006 and won Emmy Awards as best comedy series and for its stars.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017
Cinema Audio Society Unveils Nominations for Outstanding Prodn. & Post Product Awards
Bob Bronow, chair of the CAS Awards Committee
LOS ANGELES -- 

The Cinema Audio Society announced the nominees for the CAS Outstanding Product Awards for Production and Post-Production. “There were many innovative and outstanding choices in both production and postproduction work flows,” said Bob Bronow, chair of the CAS Awards Committee. “Our Blue Ribbon panel was challenged to whittle the list of products down to only five in each category”.

NOMINATIONS FOR OUTSTANDING PRODUCTS FOR 2016

OUTSTANDING PRODUCT - PRODUCTION 

CEDAR DNS2 Dynamic Noise Suppression Unit
Manufacturer: Cedar Audio

CL-12 Linear Fader Controller
Manufacturer: Sound Devices, LLC.

Green and Blue Sleeves for Boom Poles
Manufacturer: Greensleeve

SB4 Sync Box Time Code Generator
Manufacturer: Deneke, Inc.

SRc Slot-in Dual Wireless Microphone Receiver
Manufacturer: Lectrosonics

OUTSTANDING PRODUCT - POST

Halo Upmix
Manufacturer: Nugen Audio

Indoor
Manufacturer: Audio Ease

Neutron
Manufacturer: iZotope

SA-2 Dialog Processor
Manufacturer: McDSP

Sound Particles
Manufacturer: Sound Particles
 
Final balloting for both the Outstanding Product Awards as well as the previously announced Outstanding Sound Mixing Awards will open online Wednesday, January 25, and ends Sunday, February 12.

The Awards will be presented at a sealed envelope dinner on February 18th in the Bunker Hill Ballroom of the OMNI Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza. During the awards the highest honor of the CAS, the CAS Career Achievement Award, will be presented to production mixer John Pritchett, CAS and the CAS Filmmaker Award will be given to Jon Favreau.   Returning as the host of the awards is comedian/writer/animal activist Elayne Boosler.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017
Jerry Seinfeld series, specials coming to Netflix under deal 
In this Dec. 19, 2015, file photo, Jerry Seinfeld performs at Menora Stadium in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Jerry Seinfeld and Netflix have announced a deal that will bring the star's interview show "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" to the streaming service later this year.

Netflix says new episodes of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" will premiere in late 2017 and previous episodes will also be made available. The show has streamed on Crackle since its debut in 2012.

Seinfeld will also film two new stand-up specials for Netflix to be released later this year. In addition, Netflix says Seinfeld will "help develop scripted and non-scripted comedy programming" on the platform.

Terms of the deal haven't been announced.

"Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" features Seinfeld chatting with guests in classic cars and coffee shops.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017
Polanski to preside over French cinema awards ceremony 
In this March 20, 2015 file photo, film director Roman Polanski gestures during a debate at the Paris Book Fair in Paris. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File)
PARIS (AP) -- 

Filmmaker Roman Polanski will preside over this year's Cesars Awards ceremony, the French equivalent of the Oscars.

The Academy of Arts and Techniques of cinema said Wednesday the 83-year-old Polanski is expected to deliver the opening and closing speeches during the Feb. 24 ceremony in Paris.

Polanski, who lives in France, won eight Cesars over the course of his career, including for best director in 2014 for his film Venus in Furs.

Alain Terzian, the president of the academy, said Polanski is an "insatiable esthete reinventing his art and works over the years."

Polanski is wanted in the U.S. in a case involving sex with a minor that has been hanging over him for almost 40 years. He won the best-director Academy Award for "The Pianist" in 2003.