Friday, July 28, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 2546
  • Thursday, Jul. 27, 2017
George Clooney, Guillermo del Toro on Venice Film Fest slate
Julianne Moore (l) as Margaret and Matt Damon as Gardner in the George Clooney-directed “Suburbicon,” from Paramount Pictures and Black Bear Pictures (photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of Paramount Pictures)
ROME (AP) -- 

This year's Venice Film Festival will include a crime comedy by George Clooney, a Guillermo del Toro fantasy and a Darren Aronofsky thriller.

Organizers of the world's oldest film festival announced a 21-film competition lineup Thursday that features the Clooney-directed "Suburbicon," the story of a home invasion gone wrong that stars Matt Damon and Julianne Moore, with a script by Joel and Ethan Coen.

Venice's late-summer time slot — starting a few days ahead of the Toronto festival — has made it a major awards-season springboard. In recent years it has presented the world premieres of major Oscar winners including "Spotlight" and "La La Land."

This year's contenders for Venice's top Golden Lion award include del Toro's "The Shape of Water," starring Sally Hawkins as a woman who forges a relationship with a sea creature, and Aronofsky's secrecy-shrouded "Mother!" starring Jennifer Lawrence.

The 74th Venice festival opens Aug. 30 in the canal-crossed Italian city with Alexander Payne's "Downsizing," about a man — Damon again — who decides to shrink himself. It closes Sept. 9 with Takeshi Kitano's gangster thriller "Outrage Coda."

The winner of the Golden Lion and other prizes will be decided by a jury led this year by actress Annette Bening.

Films in competition include "Human Flow," a documentary about migration by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei; "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" by Ireland's auteur of tragicomedy, Martin McDonagh; "The Third Murder," by Japan's Hirokazu Koreeda; and "Mektour, My Love: Canto Uno" by French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche, director of the Cannes winner "Blue is the Warmest  Color."

Competing directors are drawn from around the globe, with films from Australia's Warwick Thornton ("Sweet Country"), Israel's Samuel Maoz ("Foxtrot"), and Lebanon's Ziad Doueiri ("The Insult"). But only one director among the 21 is a woman — China's Vivian Qu, whose "Angels Wear White" centers on two girls assaulted by a man in a small seaside town.

Outside the main competition, high-interest entries include Fernando Leon de Aranoa's "Loving Pablo," starring Javier Bardem as Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar, and Stephen Frears' reality-based historical drama "Victoria & Abdul," with Judi Dench as Britain's Queen Victoria and Ai Fazal as her Indian servant Abdul Karim.

The streaming service Netflix, which has shaken up the business of making and distributing movies, will debut the miniseries "Our Souls at Night," a late-life romance starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.



  • Wednesday, Jul. 26, 2017
HBO announces five-part miniseries on Chernobyl accident
In this Jan. 24, 2016 file photo, actor Jared Harris poses at the premiere of "Certain Women" during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Harris will star as a Soviet scientist tapped by the Kremlin to investigate the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the upcoming miniseries, “Chernobyl”. Filming will begin in Lithuania in spring of 2018. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP, File)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- 

HBO says production will begin next year on a miniseries about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The five-part series will star Jared Harris as a Soviet scientist tapped by the Kremlin to investigate the accident.

The series will dramatize the events of the 1986 Ukrainian nuclear catastrophe that resulted in widespread radioactive fallout. Thirty people were killed and more than 100,000 had to be relocated.

HBO announced at the Television Critics Association's summer meeting on Wednesday that production on "Chernobyl" is set to begin in Lithuania in spring of 2018.


  • Wednesday, Jul. 26, 2017
HBO exec: Slave drama "Confederate" announcement mishandled
In this Sept. 20, 2015 file photo, creator-showrunners David Benioff, left, and D.B. Weiss accept the award for outstanding writing for a drama series for "Game Of Thrones" at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- 

HBO's programming chief said the cable channel erred in how it unveiled plans for a series envisioning modern Southern slavery, but he defended "Confederate" against sharp criticism it drew on social media.

"I would file this under, 'hindsight is 20-20,'" programming president Casey Bloys said Wednesday. HBO was misguided in expecting that "we would be able to announce an idea that is so sensitive and requires so much care and thought on the part of the producers in a press release."

If HBO got a do-over, it would have given producers the chance to publicly detail why they wanted to do the series, an understanding that HBO executives had gained before greenlighting the series from "Game of Thrones" masterminds David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

Benioff and Weiss, who are white, also will serve as showrunners on the series. They'll work with Malcolm Spellman ("Empire," the forthcoming "Foxy Brown") and Nichelle Tramble Spellman ("Justified," ''The Good Wife"), husband-and-wife TV veterans who both are black and who will be fellow executive producers and writers on the new series.

"Confederate" will take place in an alternate timeline where the Southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, forming a nation in which legalized slavery has been modernized. The show won't be "whips and plantations," Bloys said.

It's important to draw a line between America today and its past and try to advance the discussion on race relations, Bloys told a TV critics' meeting Wednesday. He said he's placing his faith in the producers and their passion, calling it a risk worth taking.

He said the more producers can weigh in about why the project is important, the more it will make sense. While people may still not like the idea of the show, at least they'll understand the motivation behind it, Bloys said.

"All we ask is that people judge the final product," he said.

As part of its announcement last week, HBO described the story as following "a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone," including freedom fighters, politicians, abolitionists and executives of a slave-holding conglomerate.

In an interview with the creative team posted to address the backlash that quickly followed, Nichelle Tramble Spellman told Vulture that the drama isn't going to be "the big 'Gone With the Wind' mansion." She said it is "present day, or close to present day, and how the world would have evolved if the South had been successful seceding from the Union."

"Confederate" isn't expected to start production for at least a year. Bloys noted that Benioff and Weiss are hard at work on the final season of "Game of Thrones," with the premiere date yet to be settled. The fantasy drama's seventh and penultimate season just began showing.


  • Wednesday, Jul. 26, 2017
Steven Spielberg opens up about life, filmmaking in HBO doc
Director/producer Susan Lacy speaks in the "Spielberg" panel during the HBO Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- 

Steven Spielberg isn't afraid to talk about his flops.

Filmmaker Susan Lacy says the celebrated director opens up about his life and career in "Spielberg." It's a new documentary premiering October 7 on HBO.

Lacy told the Television Critics Association on Wednesday that she conducted 17 interviews with Spielberg for the film.

She also spoke with his parents, sister and frequent collaborators, including Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson and Tom Cruise.

Lacy says "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" is Spielberg's least favorite film in that franchise. She said he also acknowledges some mistakes in "1941."

She suggested that the traditionally private filmmaker may have chosen to open up after turning 70 last year, though she began working on the film in 2015.


  • Tuesday, Jul. 25, 2017
New series from "The Simpsons" Matt Groening set for Netflix
In this July 11, 2015 file photo, Matt Groening attends "The Simpsons" panel during Comic-Con International in San Diego. (Photo by Tonya Wise/Invision/AP, File)

Netflix says it has ordered an adult animated comedy from "The Simpsons" mastermind Matt Groening.

"Disenchantment" will take place in the crumbling medieval kingdom of Dreamland, which is populated by hard-drinking princess Bean, her elf companion Elfo and her personal demon Luci.

The series will feature the voice talents of Abbi Jacobson ("Broad City"), Nat Faxon ("Friends from College") and Eric Andre ("The Eric Andre Show"). Netflix has ordered 20 episodes of the new series, which will premiere next year.

Groening says "Disenchantment" will focus on "how to keep laughing in a world full of suffering and idiots." Along with "The Simpsons," which this fall begins its 29th season on Fox, he was a creator of the animated series "Futurama."


  • Tuesday, Jul. 25, 2017
Nielsen to count viewers for Hulu, YouTube live TV services
This June 24, 2015, file photo shows the Hulu Apple TV app icon. (AP Photo/Dan Goodman, File)

Nielsen will begin to tabulate how many people get their live TV from Hulu and YouTube, giving media companies and advertisers a better idea of how many people now stream broadcast networks rather than watching them on traditional TV.

Hulu and YouTube have not revealed how many people subscribe to the live TV services that they launched in the spring as a counter to cable TV.

Subscribers can stream channels live on laptops, smartphones and elsewhere. They can also record shows digitally or watch them on demand. Both services cost nearly $40 a month.

Media companies base the amount they charge advertisers on the number of people who are watching at a particular time. There has been a tremendous surge in the number of people who use streaming services.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 25, 2017
Actor John Boyega wanted to challenge self with "Detroit"
This image released by Annapurna Pictures shows John Boyega in a scene from "Detroit." (Francois Duhamel/Annapurna Pictures via AP)

"Detroit" star John Boyega says his new movie may be set a half-century ago, but it explores issues that remain relevant.

"We're dealing with systematic racism. We're dealing with social unrest. We're dealing with an uprising. And these are stories that reflect until today — especially police brutality," Boyega told The Associated Press during an interview Monday.

The London-born actor was in Detroit promoting the film of the same name. Directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow, "Detroit" is a drama about the 1967 riot. The movie, which opens Aug. 4, also stars Anthony Mackie and John Krasinski.

"I was at a point where I had done a few projects, and I wanted to challenge myself," Boyega said "And when 'Detroit' came on my radar, it felt like a godsend to obviously have this kind of project, this kind of script.

"But at the same time, Kathryn as a director, she's unique in her process, and it just so happens to suit me."

One of the "few projects" Boyega has done happens to be one of the biggest film franchises of all time. He starred as Finn in 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," and reprises the role in the sci-fi saga's eighth installment, "The Last Jedi," which is due out at the end of the year.

Asked whether audiences should be excited about the new "Star Wars' film, Boyega laughed and said: "Should people be excited? Of course they're going to be excited. You know, it's 'Star Wars.' Yeah, they should be."

Following the interview, Boyega and a few others actors from "Detroit" set about packaging food at Gleaners Community Food Bank, popping canned goods into plastic bags, all of which later will be distributed to families throughout the Detroit area.

Boyega said he's "here to help out.

"You know, package some food, be a positive impact to the community. I think 'Detroit,' it's not just a commercial movie. I think the intention from the beginning was to be a part of the community and for this movie to have a positive impact."

"Detroit" will have its premiere in the city on Tuesday at the Fox Theatre.

  • Sunday, Jul. 23, 2017
Wonder Woman sequel gets a title: "Wonder Woman II"
Gal Gadot speaks at the Warner Bros. "Justice League" panel on day three of Comic-Con International on Saturday, July 22, 2017, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (AP) -- 

Wonder Woman has a few reasons to celebrate.

As of Sunday, the superhero pic is now the highest-grossing film of the summer with $398 million from North American theaters, and the sequel is official. Warner Bros. is not saying much about the inevitable follow-up to the smash hit, but the studio did flash a title card with the words "Wonder Woman II" during its Comic-Con presentation Saturday.

But that was the extent of the "Wonder Woman II" talk at the fan convention. There is no official word on whether or not Patty Jenkins will return to direct, who is penning the script or even when the film might hit theaters.

Not even Gal Gadot mentioned it during the Comic-Con "Justice League" panel.


  • Sunday, Jul. 23, 2017
"Westworld" cast talks existentialism, robots at Comic-Con
Evan Rachel Wood speaks at the "Westworld" panel on day three of Comic-Con International on Saturday, July 22, 2017, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (AP) -- 

Actress Evan Rachel Wood says working on "Westworld" changed her life.

She says the series about a futuristic park manned by robot hosts where humans can live out their fantasies has inspired existential questions about her own life. She also says the powerful character she plays has empowered her off-screen as well.

"It's so fulfilling," she said Saturday at a Comic-Con panel for the HBO show. "Because especially as women, and I don't know if this is true for men too, but a lot of times you feel as if your wings have been clipped and you're not being represented the way that you want to. And this was like just like somebody had given me (expletive) condor wings and I got to take off and fly."

Wood appeared alongside showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy and her fellow cast members for a presentation inside the San Diego Convention Center's largest exhibition hall. Other cast members at the panel included Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris, James Marsden, Tessa Thompson and Thandie Newton.

Newton said she's been inspired and empowered by her role on the show, which recently received 22 Emmy nominations.

"I'm so into the existential stuff on the show," she said. "In moment of chaos, when you think you know nothing, that's when gifts come. I just think that's incredibly profound."

Though her character is an android prostitute, she gradually becomes more self-aware.

Nolan and Joy said they parsed out their scripts incrementally during the first season so the actors wouldn't know too much about the story line or their characters' trajectories.

Joy said her work on the show's second season has been inspired by the poetry of William Blake. Nolan added that he's been inspired by video games, including "Grand Theft Auto" and "Red Dead Redemption."

The second season of "Westworld" is set to debut next year.


  • Saturday, Jul. 22, 2017
Spielberg debuts action-packed "Ready Player One" footage
Steven Spielberg attends the Warner Bros. "Ready Player One" panel on day three of Comic-Con International on Saturday, July 22, 2017, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (AP) -- 

When Steven Spielberg first read the book "Ready Player One," which is about a dystopian future where humans take refuge in a virtual reality world, he had one thought: "They're going to need a younger director."

But Spielberg decided to take on the challenge anyway, spending two and a half years bringing author Ernest Cline's vision to life. The director unveiled a new action- and nostalgia-packed trailer for the film Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con to much excitement.

The 6,500-person Hall H crowd gave the director a standing ovation and cheered heartily when the first images of "the stacks" appeared showing a bleak vision of the housing situation in Columbus, Ohio, in 2045. Tye Sheridan stars as the lead character Wade Owen Watts, who longs to have been born in the 1980s.

For Spielberg, the film was a chance to both go back to his heyday of filmmaking while also gazing into the future. Eagle-eyed viewers spotted references to everything from "Tron" to "The Iron Giant" in the footage.

"It was like the most amazing flash-forward and flash-back at the same time," Spielberg said.

For Cline, having Spielberg directing the adaptation of his book was like closing a circle. He grew up on Spielberg's films, which informed how he evolved as a writer.

"They are woven into the fabric of my DNA," Cline said. "I learned how to be a storyteller because of this man."

He brought his DeLorean to his first meeting with the director in honor of "Back to the Future," which he had Spielberg autograph, Cline said.

Co-star T.J. Miller went one step further in his Spielberg fandom, sporting "Back to the Future" inspired sneakers, and "E.T.: The Extraterrestrial" inspired red hoodie and T-shirt.

Spielberg, who simply smiled at his gushing actors and collaborators, said that he was really proud of the footage, which gives "a slight taste of things to come."

"Ready Player One" opens in March 2018.