Tuesday, March 28, 2017

News Briefs

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  • Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2017
Waze gets into the order-ahead business with Dunkin' Donuts, which agrees to increase ad spend 
In this photo taken Monday, March 27, 2017, the Waze application is displayed on a smartphone in San Francisco. Waze's traffic navigation app already shows ads prodding drivers to swing by fast-food joints like Dunkin' Donuts and Taco Bell. Now it's adding a new item to its menu, the ability to place orders at some shops. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Waze's traffic navigation app already shows ads prodding drivers to swing by fast-food joints like Dunkin' Donuts and Taco Bell. Now it's adding a new item to its menu - the ability to place orders at some shops.

On Tuesday, the Google-owned app will start letting drivers purchase coffee and other items from Dunkin' Donuts for pickup along their way. It's the first time that Waze has offered this kind of "order ahead" option, but unlikely to be the last.

If all goes well with the Dunkin' Donuts test, Waze plans to team up with other merchants so its millions of users can order pizza, reserve parking spaces, fill prescriptions and even buy groceries without having to open another app on their phones.

"It could be almost anything that a driver could order ahead and have ready for pick up," said Jordan Grossman, head of Waze's business partnerships in North America.

Doughnuts to go
Waze won't earn a commission on the Dunkin' Donuts sales made in its app. Instead, Dunkin' Donuts has agreed to increase the amount it spends advertising on Waze. Neither Waze nor Dunkin' Donuts would disclose the size of the increase.

Dunkin' Donuts has its own app, which until now was the only way to order ahead at the chain's stores . But working with Waze made sense, said Scott Hudler, chief digital officer for Dunkin' Brands. "Waze involves the ritualistic behavior of driving to work on your daily commute, and we are a brand built on a ritual, too," he said.

Drivers using Waze's "order ahead" option will need the Dunkin' Donuts app as well, although they won't have to open it. They'll also need to be registered with Dunkin' Donuts customer loyalty program.

Charting a course into commerce
The push into e-commerce is Waze's latest step beyond its original purpose of recommending the fastest way to drive someplace.

Waze also offers a carpooling feature that pays drivers to pick up passengers headed in the same direction. It's currently available in the San Francisco Bay Area; Sacramento, California; and Israel.

Waze will also offer the carpooling option in Brazil later this year. While still in its infancy, that service could siphon passengers away from ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

  • Monday, Mar. 27, 2017
McCann's "Fearless Girl" statue opposite Wall Street bull stays through February
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio poses with the "Fearless Girl" statue, before holding a news briefing, Monday, March 27, 2017, in New York. De Blasio says the popular statue will be allowed to remain through February 2018. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The globally popular statue of a young girl will keep staring down Wall Street's famed "Charging Bull" through February 2018 instead of being removed this coming Sunday, the mayor said.

She's "standing up to fear, standing up to power, being able to find in yourself the strength to do what's right," said Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, who appeared with the "Fearless Girl" statue Monday on the lower Manhattan traffic island where the two bronze figures face each other.

The mayor said the political turmoil surrounding Republican President Donald Trump makes the endearing child particularly relevant.

"She is inspiring everyone at a moment when we need inspiration," he said.

The 4-foot-tall, 250-pound ponytailed girl in a windblown dress was installed this month to highlight the dearth of women on corporate boards as she stands strong against the 11-foot-tall, 7,100-pound bull. The girl became an instant tourist draw and internet sensation.

On Monday morning, Democratic U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, of New York, led a group of prominent women in front of City Hall to honor the artist, Kristen Visbal, and State Street Global Advisors, the asset management firm that commissioned the work and, with the McCann advertising firm, helped Visbal create her sculpture.

"She was created to bring attention to the courage and unrealized power of women in so many fields, and she has clearly struck a nerve," said Maloney, who is pushing for the statue to become a permanent installation.

Visbal said the positive response to her artwork "renewed my faith in sculpture to make an impact on society, to create a debate the way a good piece of art should."

She has received more than 1,000 emails from India, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and elsewhere, including one from a mother who wanted to wallpaper her daughter's room with the girl's image.

"I see men and women as the ying and yang of society," Visbal said. "They bring different things to the table. They solve problems in a different way. But we need to work together."

"Fearless Girl" will stay in place for another 11 months through an art program of the city's Department of Transportation that manages lower Broadway near Wall Street.

Visbal said one of her models was a friend's young daughter, whom she asked "to envision staring down a great big bull and, boy, she really had style." The girl was white, and the creative team then incorporated another girl, a Latina, "to come up with a child that has universal appeal," Visbal said.

The fictional figure is linked to a very real message: Women make up only about 16 percent of U.S. corporate boards, according to the ISS Analytics business research firm.

Artist Arturo Di Modica's bull arrived after the 1987 stock market crash as a symbol of Americans' financial resilience and can-do spirit. He wants the girl gone, calling the statue an "advertising trick" fashioned by two corporate giants, while his sculpture is "art."

  • Monday, Mar. 27, 2017
George Lucas gives another $10M to USC film school for student diversity 
In this Jan. 17, 2015 file photo, George Lucas attends a screening in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

George Lucas has given another $10 million to the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts to fund the student diversity program he helped establish.

The donation was announced Monday by USC, Lucas' alma mater. Last fall, USC established a foundation in Lucas' name to support students from underrepresented communities who qualify for financial support. It was funded with an initial $10 million gift from the George Lucas Family Foundation.

Michael Renov, vice dean of academy affairs, said the gift will help USC "recruit storytellers whose voices are underrepresented in cinematic media and whose inclusion benefits all of us."

  • Monday, Mar. 27, 2017
"American Horror Story" stars discuss potential Trump plot 
Sarah Paulson, from left, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Kathy Bates attend the 34th annual PaleyFest: "American Horror Story: Roanoke" event at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 26, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

The cast of "American Horror Story" is opening up about rumors of a season of the series centered on President Donald Trump.

Series creator Ryan Murphy told Bravo's Andy Cohen last month that the seventh season of the FX drama would be focused on the presidential election and mentioned the possibility of a Trump character.

When asked ahead of Sunday's "AHS" event at the Paley Center in Los Angeles, Sarah Paulson told The Associated Press a Trump-themed season doesn't fit what the show has done so far, but "anything is possible if it's what the audience craves."

Cuba Gooding, Jr. adds that he doesn't know for sure, but thinks the rumors are a "red herring."

Kathy Bates says she's OK with it, as long as she's not cast as the president.

  • Sunday, Mar. 26, 2017
Will NYC invite McCann's "Fearless Girl" to stay on Wall Street? 
In this March 22, 2017 photo, the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl statues are sit on Lower Broadway in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Should the "Fearless Girl" stand up to Wall Street's charging bull forever?

That's the question New York City officials are facing after a statue of a ponytailed girl in a windblown dress went up in front of the bronze bull early this month and immediately became a tourist draw and internet sensation.

What was intended as a temporary display to encourage corporations to put more women on their boards is now getting a second look in light of its popularity, which has spawned an online petition seeking to keep it.

But does keeping the girl past her scheduled April 2 deadline forever alter the meaning of the bull? After all, the 11-foot-tall, 7,100-pound bull has been hugely popular in its own right; it was placed in a lower Manhattan traffic median in the wake of the 1987 stock market crash as a symbol of Americans' financial resilience and can-do spirit.

Some fans of the bronze girl already see the bull much differently.

"The bull represents men and power," says Cristina Pogorevici, 18, a student from Bucharest, Romania, who visited the statues this past week. "So she is a message of women's power and things that are changing in the world right now."

Holli Sargeant, 20, a visitor from Queensland, Australia, says the 4-foot-tall, 250-pound bronze girl "is standing up against something and we see her as powerful image. She represents all the young women in the world that want to make a difference."

Such shifting perceptions of the bull - from American hero to villain of sorts - outrage bull sculptor Arturo De Modica, who wants the girl gone.

He dismissed Kristen Visbal's statue as nothing more than an "an advertising trick," noting the bronze was a marketing effort on the eve of the March 8 International Women's Day by Boston-based State Street Global Advisors and its New York advertising firm, McCann.

As for his bull, "I put it there for art," the Italian-born sculptor told MarketWatch, which first reported his anger. "My bull is a symbol for America. My bull is a symbol of prosperity and for strength."

The girl's sculptor has no hostile feelings toward the bull.

"I love Charging Bull!" Visbal told The Associated Press on Sunday, speaking from her home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. "But women are here, and we're here to stay."

She was commissioned to create a 36-inch-tall girl with hands on hips and chin up. "Then we thought, this is a really big bull and we should increase the height to 50 inches," she said. "But I made sure to keep her features soft; she's not defiant, she's brave, proud and strong, not belligerent."

The sculptor based her work on two Delaware children - a friend's daughter she said had "great style and a great stance, and I told her to pretend she was facing a bull." The second was a "beautiful Latina girl, so everyone could relate to the Fearless Girl."

Visbal, who was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, while her American father was in the foreign service, is to be honored Monday along with State Street on the steps of New York's City Hall by a group of prominent bipartisan women who are asking that the statue be made permanent.

A spokesman for New York City, which controls public art in the area, did not say when a decision would be made. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said only that he would try to prolong the girl's presence.

David Levi Strauss of Manhattan's School of Visual Arts, known for his writings about the impact of art on society and politics, says he is excited by the dynamics the girl statue has brought to the space and agrees the overall meaning has shifted.

"The girl has changed the meaning of the bull forever," he says. "With public art like this, you never know what's going to happen; it's a Rorschach test onto which people are projecting their own opinions and feelings."

A similar point-counterpoint was played out at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, erected in 1982 in Washington, with three soldiers in bronze added two years later, seemingly interacting with the stark marble wall bearing the names of the dead. The result prompted debate; some said the soldiers infused life onto the wall, while protesters blasted the statue as a tasteless intrusion.

When it comes to the girl facing the bull, Strauss said, "the bull's stature diminishes. She's the individual standing up to the beast of power. ... She's frozen in a sort of dream of winning, and that's what appeals to people. She's irresistible."

Associated Press writer Alina Heineke contributed to this report.

  • Friday, Mar. 24, 2017
Netflix re-ups with Sandler, plan 4 more films together 
In this May 16, 2016 file photo, Adam Sandler, a cast member in "The Do-Over," poses at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Netflix is doubling down on Adam Sandler. The streaming giant has extended its deal with the comedian for four more feature films.

As part of a previous four-movie deal, Sandler has already produced and starred in two films for Netflix. While neither "Ridiculous 6" nor "The Do-Over" received anything close to good reviews, Netflix said Friday they are the biggest film releases for the service. Sandler's next Netflix film, "Sandy Wexler," debuts April 14.

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said Sandler's films have proven "extremely successful" with Netflix subscribers.

To date, the majority of Netflix original films have been smaller dramas or documentaries. But some of its most ambitious and priciest acquisitions are due out this year, including "War Machine" with Brad Pitt and "Bright" with Will Smith.

  • Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017
Disney CEO Bob Iger gets contact extension to July 2019 
In this Thursday, June 16, 2016, file photo, Disney CEO Bob Iger poses for selfies with visitors on the opening day of the Disney Resort in Shanghai, China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Disney CEO Bob Iger is getting a one-year contract extension.

The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday ended any speculation that Iger would retire this year, extending contract to July 2, 2019.

Iger's base salary of $2.5 million will be unchanged, but he gets a $5 million signing bonus, according to filings with the Security Exchange Commission. He made a total of $43.9 million in 2016, when tacking on stock awards and other perks.

Speculation had been swirling over whether the 66-year-old Iger would extend his contract. There's no obvious successor at Disney since Iger's heir apparent, COO Tom Staggs, left last year.

Since taking the top role in 2005, Iger has acquired Star Wars owner LucasFilm, Pixar and Marvel and driven improvements in Disney's consumer products and parks division, most recently with the opening of Shanghai Disneyland in 2016.

In February, Iger indicated he was amenable to extending his contract.

"If it's in the best interest of the company for me to extend my term, I'm open to that," he said during a conference call with analysts.

Orin Smith, the lead independent director of Disney's board, said in a statement Thursday that Iger's "strategic vision" and successful record show that it is in the best interest of Disney to keep Iger aboard while they seek his successor.

  • Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017
CBS renewing 18 series for fall, including 5 freshman shows 
In this image released by CBS, Mayim Bialik, from left, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco appear in a scene from "The Big Bang Theory." (Darren Michaels/CBS via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

CBS says it's bringing back 18 of its current series for the 2017-2018 season.

Announced Thursday, those pickups include six comedies, nine dramas, the reality series "Survivor," and newsmagazines "60 Minutes" and "48 Hours."

Returning scripted shows include "The Big Bang Theory," ''Blue Bloods," ''Hawaii Five-O," ''Life in Pieces," ''Madam Secretary," ''Mom," ''Scorpion" and all three editions of "NCIS" — Los Angeles, New Orleans and the original.

In addition, five freshman series made the cut. They include "Bull," ''Kevin Can Wait," ''MacGyver," ''Man with a Plan" and "Superior Donuts.

The network's full 2017-18 schedule will be unveiled in May. CBS is on pace to finish the season as the most-watched network for the 14th time in 15 years.

  • Wednesday, Mar. 22, 2017
Box office reaches new record, but international sales flat 
This image released by Lucasfilm Ltd. shows Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in a scene from, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." (Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The Motion Picture Association of America said Wednesday that the worldwide box office reached a record $38.6 billion in 2016, though international revenues were essentially stagnant.

The MPAA's annual report showed a global increase of .5 percent in ticket sales from 2015. While China, the world's second-largest market after the U.S., has long been a priority of Hollywood, it dropped 1 percent last year with $6.6 billion in ticket sales.

Box office in North America hit a record $11.4 billion, although the increase of $300 million was due largely to rising ticket prices. About 11 percent of North Americans, the MPAA said, are frequent moviegoers — those who go to the theater at least once a month. They make up 48 percent of all tickets sold.

About 71 percent of the U.S./Canadian population went to the movies at least once in 2016, up 2 percent from 2015.

Among the year's biggest box-office hits were "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," ''Finding Dory" and "Captain America: Civil War" — all of them, it's worth noting, released by the Walt Disney Co. The MPAA noted that three of the top five grossing films drew a majority female audience.

"Even with an incredible variety of viewing choices available to audiences, cinema remains the premier way to experience the magic of our movies," said MPAA chief Chris Dodd. "And the good news is, there are positive signs for growth in the future."

Other notable conclusions from the report include:

  • Younger moviegoers increased. The biggest jump was for 18- to 24-year-olds, who went on average 6.5 times in 2016, up from 5.9 times in 2015.
  • The appeal of 3-D continued to slide. Sales of 3-D movies fell about 8 percent to $1.6 billion, even though there were 30 percent more 3-D releases.
  • African-American and Asian moviegoers continue to increase. Per capita, Asians/Other Ethnicities go more than any other group, seeing on average 6.1 movies a year.
  • Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017
Writer's lawsuit says Disney copied his plans for "Zootopia"
This image released by Disney shows Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, in a scene from the animated film, "Zootopia." (Disney via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

A screenwriter and producer sued Walt Disney Pictures on Tuesday claiming the studio copied his ideas to create the Oscar-winning animated film "Zootopia."

Gary L. Goldman, whose credits include work on film adaptations of "Total Recall," ''Minority Report" and "Big Trouble in Little China," filed the copyright infringement lawsuit Tuesday in a federal court in Los Angeles. His lawsuit states he pitched his "Zootopia" concept to Disney in 2000 and 2009 and there are substantial similarities between his project and last year's animated blockbuster.

Disney rejected the lawsuit's claims in a statement. "Mr. Goldman's lawsuit is riddled with patently false allegations. It is an unprincipled attempt to lay claim to a successful film he didn't create, and we will vigorously defend against it in court."

The lawsuit states Goldman pitched Disney his "Zootopia" concept as a way to explore life in America through a civilized society of animals. Disney's "Zootopia" explores prejudice through a bunny's quest to become a respected police officer in a city where predator and prey co-exist side-by-side. The film won the best animated feature at last month's Academy Awards.

"About five years ago, almost six now, oh my god, we got this crazy idea to talk about humanity with talking animals in the hopes that when the film came out, it would make the world just a slightly better place," said Byron Howard, one of the film's directors during his acceptance speech at last month's Oscars.

The lawsuit includes drawings Goldman commissioned for his pitches to Disney. He contends the ideas of his project and the animated film, as well as the style of some of its characters, are substantially similar.

"Both works explore whether the societies can live up to utopian ideals and judge and credit others fairly as individuals not as stereotypes, based on conceptions of merit not natural order, and the protagonists are challenged to strike a balance between the utopian and counter-utopian positions, optimism and pessimism, nature and individuality, and self-acceptance and self-improvement," the lawsuit states.

In Disney's film, Ginnifer Goodwin plays the bunny character, Judy Hopps, who strikes up an alliance with a sly fox played by Jason Bateman to thwart a conspiracy that threatens peace in their metropolis. Goldman's lawsuit states the two main protagonists of his pitch were a doe-eyed squirrel named Mimi and a hyena named Roscoe.

The lawsuit does not state how much damages Goldman and his company, Esplanade Productions, are seeking. He is asking a federal judge to block Disney from future "Zootopia" projects until the case is resolved.