Sunday, June 25, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 2491
  • Saturday, Jun. 24, 2017
Google to stop reading your Gmail to help sell ads
This March 23, 2010, file photo shows the Google logo at the Google headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Google is going to stop reading your Gmail in search of opportunities to sell ads.

The change announced Friday will end a practice that Google has embraced since the company introduced Gmail in 2004. The practice has raised concerns among privacy watchdogs and creeped out some users.

To help finance the free service, Google has been scanning through what Gmail users were discussing and then showing ads connected to some of the topics. Someone writing about running, for instance, might see ads for Nike or Asics shoes.

Google still plans to show ads within Gmail. But instead of scanning through email content, the company's software will rely on other signals to determine which ads are most likely to appeal to each of its 1.2 billion Gmail users.

The Mountain View, California, company said it would stop the ad-driven scanning of Gmail later this year.

Google says it's changing course so its free Gmail service operates more like the subscription version that it has sold to more than 3 million companies. The paid Gmail doesn't include ads, so the company has never tried to scan the content of those users' emails for marketing purposes.

Despite that, Google said some of its business customers incorrectly assumed the company was scanning those accounts as well. By ending all scanning, Google hopes to end the confusion and sell Gmail to even more businesses.

Gmail now ranks as the world's largest email service, an indication that most people didn't care about Google's scanning methods. Both Microsoft and Apple have publicly skewered Google for having the audacity to mine users' emails for ad sales, but those attacks didn't undercut Gmail's popularity.

  • Saturday, Jun. 24, 2017
Lauren Hutton to be honored at Maine film festival
In this April 13, 2016 file photo, Lauren Hutton attends the Tribeca Film Festival opening night world premiere of "The First Monday in May" at John Zuccotti Theater at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York. Hutton is going to be this year’s honoree at the 20th annual Maine International Film Festival. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) -- 

Lauren Hutton is going to be this year's honoree at the 20th annual Maine International Film Festival.

The 73-year-old actress, model and producer will be awarded the Mid-Life Achievement Award next month in Waterville, Maine.

Festival programmer Ken Eisen told the Morning Sentinel  that Hutton was part of what he described as a golden age of American filmmaking in the 1970s and that she broke the rules for aging by modeling nude at age 61.

She'll receive the award July 20 at the Waterville Opera House where her movie "American Gigolo," also starring Richard Gere, will be shown.
 

  • Saturday, Jun. 24, 2017
Michael Moore releases Traverse City Film Festival lineup
This image provided by Dog Eat Dog Films shows director Michael Moore in a scene from his 2016 documentary, "Where to Invade Next." (Dog Eat Dog Films via AP)
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- 

Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore won't be around for a Michigan film festival that he founded but the show will go on.

Moore has announced the lineup for the 13th annual Traverse City Film Festival, which runs from July 25-30. It will include 117 feature films and other events.

Moore usually makes personal appearances at the festival. But this year, he'll be in New York for his one-man Broadway show called "The Terms of My Surrender."

The Traverse City fest will have plenty of movies with political themes.

The "Travel Ban Sidebar" will consist of what Moore calls seven "daring and beautiful stories that celebrate our connected world," an apparent reference to the Trump administration's policies on travel to the U.S. by people from predominantly Muslim nations.

For the complete schedule, click here.

  • Friday, Jun. 23, 2017
Freshman series "Downward Dog" canceled by ABC
In this Jan. 8, 2015 file photo, Allison Tolman arrives at Audi Kicks Off Golden Globes Week 2015 at Cecconi's in West Hollywood, Calif. The producer of ABC’s freshman series “Downward Dog,” which stars Tolman, says the comedy has been canceled after eight episodes. (Photo by Omar Vega/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

ABC's freshman sitcom "Downward Dog" has been canceled by ABC, the show's executive producer said.

The last two of the show's eight episodes will air Tuesday, executive producer Jimmy Miller said Friday.

ABC "loved it creatively and wanted to do more, but could not figure out a way to get it done financially," Miller said in a statement.

The network didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Miller thanked critics and viewers who have expressed their support for the comedy, and said he hoped it would land on its feet elsewhere.

"Clearly this show has hit a nerve, and we are hell bent on finding a new home for our 'Downward Dog,'" he said.

The series stars Allison Tolman as the owner of Martin the dog, who talks directly to viewers about his feelings. The series centers on his sometimes conflicted feelings about his owner, loneliness and hatred of a neighborhood cat.

Series co-creator Samm Hodges is the voice of Martin.

Tolman was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2015 for her role on the FX series "Fargo."

  • Friday, Jun. 23, 2017
Cannes Lions looks to future with formation of advisory committee
Philip Thomas, CEO of Ascential Events, organizers of Cannes Lions
CANNES, France -- 

Cannes Lions announced the creation of an advisory committee to help shape the future of the Festival and ensure it continues to respond to the needs of the industry. Comprised of major advertisers, partners, agency networks and the Mayor of Cannes, the committee will be a platform for stakeholders in the event to share their views and recommendations around all aspects of the Cannes Lions experience.

Commitments have already been received from Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of Procter & Gamble, Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer, Unilever, Fernando Machado, head of brand marketing, Burger King, Fiona Carter, chief brand officer, AT&T, and Jan Derck van Karnebeek, chief commercial officer at Heineken, with more members to be announced soon.

“As well as clients who have offered to help shape the future of the Festival, we will – as usual – consult with all global creative leaders, heads of holding companies and other major partners,” said Philip Thomas, CEO of Ascential Events, organizers of Cannes Lions. “There have been a lot of discussions this week about the structure of the Festival, and we want to create the right Cannes Lions experience for all participants. The thing that unites them all is their belief in creativity as a powerful force in the world, and this is at the heart of everything we do.”

Pritchard added, “We attend Cannes Lions to focus on creativity to drive growth. It’s the right time to step back and take a look at the best way forward for Cannes Lions to provide the best possible platform for creativity in our industry, and P&G is ready and willing to help.”

“Cannes Lions has always been a force for good in promoting creativity as a core driver of our businesses”, said Derck van Karnebeek. “We are committed to assist where we can in charting the right way forward.”

Speaking on the timeline of committee activity, Thomas added, “The full list of members will be announced soon and the first meeting will take place shortly after the Festival. We look forward to sharing the committee’s recommendations with the global creative community, and we’re excited to see the ideas produced by this deeper collaboration.”

  • Friday, Jun. 23, 2017
Ron Howard takes helm of Han Solo "Star Wars" film
In this April 24, 2017 file photo, filmmaker Ron Howard arrives at the premiere of "Genius", in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Ron Howard is taking command of the Han Solo "Star Wars" spinoff after the surprise departure of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.

Lucasfilm announced their replacement director Thursday, two days after Lord and Miller left the project over creative differences. Howard gives the reeling production a veteran hand in the wake of Lord and Miller's exit in the midst of shooting.

Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said filming will resume July 10. The untitled film, which stars Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo, is about three-quarters of the way through production. It has several weeks of shooting left, along with reshoots.

Howard has shepherded Oscar winners like "A Beautiful Mind" and "Apollo 13." But his recent films, including the "Da Vinci Code" sequel "Inferno" and "In the Heart of the Sea," have struggled at the box office. He also has some history with Lucasfilm. He helmed the 1988 fantasy "Willow" and starred in George Lucas' 1973 breakthrough "American Graffiti."

"We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie," said Kennedy.

Disney reiterated the film's release date of May 25 next year, suggesting that — at least for now — the "Star Wars" spinoff will be released on schedule. Representatives for the studio declined to comment.

How producers and the Directors Guild of America handle the film's directing credit will also be closely watched. DGA rules govern the crediting of directors.

Lord and Miller had previously been considered among Hollywood's most sought-after directors, having turned "The Lego Movie" and "21 Jump Street" into unexpected and widely praised comedy hits. But reports have circulated that the duo, who favor improvisation and irreverent humor, clashed with Kennedy and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, a "Star Wars" veteran and executive producer.

"Unfortunately, our vision and process weren't aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren't fans of the phrase 'creative differences' but for once this cliche is true," the directors said earlier in a joint statement. "We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew."
 

  • Thursday, Jun. 22, 2017
Focus Features acquires worldwide rights to drama "Boy Erased"
LOS ANGELES -- 

Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to Boy Erased, the coming-of-age and coming-out drama from writer/director Joel Edgerton based on Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family by Garrard Conley. Academy Award nominee Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) will star opposite Academy Award winners Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. The movie will be produced by Anonymous Content and will begin production this fall for a 2018 theatrical release. Focus chairman Peter Kujawski made the announcement.
 
The film will tell the story of Jared (to be portrayed by Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (Kidman and Crowe) at age 19. Jared is quickly pressured into attending a gay conversion therapy program--or else be shunned by his family, friends, and church. It is within the program that Jared comes into conflict with its head therapist (Mr. Edgerton).
 
“I’m excited to work with an ensemble of actors, seasoned and new, to bring Garrard’s story to the screen. I think Focus is the perfect partner on this, and I will always thank Garrard for trusting my passion for his life story. I can’t think of a better reason to get behind the camera again,” said Edgerton. 
 
Boy Erased is being produced by Edgerton and Anonymous Content’s Kerry Kohansky-Roberts and Steve Golin, an Academy Award-winning producer of Best Picture Oscar winner Spotlight. Executive producing the film are Rebecca Yeldham, Ann Ruark, and Anonymous Content’s Kim Hodgert and Tony Lipp. Josh McLaughlin, recently promoted to Focus president of production, will supervise the project for the company.
 
Conley’s book was first published last year by Penguin Random House, and was issued earlier this year in paperback. Edgerton has written the screenplay adaptation; Boy Erased will be his second feature as director following the sleeper hit The Gift (also produced by Yeldham), which earned him a Directors Guild of America Award nomination. He was recently a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nominee for his performance in Focus’ Loving.
 
Focus Features was honored in 2012 by Point Foundation, the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students of merit, with its Point Inspiration Award, given to a company or organization that champions respect and inclusion of the LGBT community and operates with the vision that investing in today’s potential will produce a brighter tomorrow.
 
Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2017, Focus Features has made and released Academy Award-winning LGBT-themed films including Beginners, Dallas Buyers Club, The Danish Girl, Milk, and Brokeback Mountain, the company’s all-time top-grosser.
 
Kujawski commented, “Garrard’s story is both timely and timeless, both personal and universal. It is a story which will not only deeply move people, but one that we hope will change outlooks. We are thrilled to work once again with Joel, and with the Anonymous Content team.  These filmmakers’ passion for this heart-rending project speaks to all of us at Focus, and to why we make the movies we do.” 

  • Wednesday, Jun. 21, 2017
Pablo Picasso named season 2 subject of National Geographic's "Genius" series
Pablo Picasso (photo by Arnold Newman/Getty Images).
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 

National Geographic announced that the second season of its acclaimed scripted anthology series "Genius" will chronicle the life and work of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, one of the 20th century’s most influential and celebrated artists. The new season, from Fox 21 Television Studios, will again be executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, Madison Wells Media’s OddLot Entertainment and EUE/Sokolow, and will premiere in 2018. The first season of "Genius," which concluded last night and centered on Albert Einstein, was watched by more than 45 million people around the world, and is National Geographic’s best performing new series launch ever.
 
The artistic career of Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso spanned more than 80 of his 91 years, much of it in his second home of France. Much like the subject of the first season of Genius--Einstein--Picasso imagined and interpreted the world in totally new and unorthodox ways, and constantly reinvented our perceptions of art and creativity. The prolific artist generated more than 50,000 works, among the most notable being The Old Guitarist from his Blue Period, now on display at the Art Institute of Chicago; Guernica, inspired by the Nazi bombing of a small Spanish town of the same name, currently on display at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain; and Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, inspired by lover and muse Fernande Olivier, now on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
 
His passionate nature and relentless creative drive were inextricably linked to his personal life, which included tumultuous marriages, numerous affairs and constantly shifting political and personal alliances. He lived most of his life in the vibrant Paris of the first half of the 20th Century and crossed paths with writers and artists including Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Gertrude Stein, Georges Braque, and Jean Cocteau. Picasso constantly reinvented himself, always striving to innovate and push the boundaries of artistic expression.  
 
Showrunner, executive producer and writer Ken Biller will continue his role overseeing the new season.  The second season will also once again hail from From Fox 21 Television Studios, whose recent “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” dominated every awards contest and critics’ list; Imagine Television, the producer of “24” and “Empire” with executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard along with executive producer Francie Calfo and producer Anna Culp; and Madison Wells Media’s OddLot Entertainment, which earlier this year produced the Academy Award®- nominated film “Hell or High Water,” with executive producers Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane. Sam Sokolow and Jeff Cooney from EUE/Sokolow are also executive producers. Filming is expected to begin later this summer for a 2018 premiere on National Geographic Channels in 171 countries and 45 languages.
 
“We are thrilled with the enthusiastic response audiences and critics have had for Genius over the last nine weeks, and are excited to be delving back in to the concept with season two,” said CEO of National Geographic Global Networks Courteney Monroe. “More so than any of his contemporaries, Picasso’s work dramatically expressed the modern age and defined new cultural norms. We are excited to explore his life and his genius with the incredibly talented team behind the series.”
 
“The remarkable story of artistic visionary Pablo Picasso is the perfect subject for season two of 'Genius,'” said executive producer Howard. “Picasso was a trailblazer who left a profound artistic and cultural impact on the world and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership with National Geographic and Fox 21 Television Studios in telling the untold story behind the brilliant individual.” 
 
“Season one has been a fantastic experience for all of us, and we owe a big debt to Courteney, Carolyn and the Nat Geo team for being such great partners,” commented Bert Salke, president of Fox 21 Television Studios. “Picasso is arguably one of the most influential artists of the last century with a life story almost too fantastic to be reality. It’s the perfect next chapter for Ron, Brian, Ken and this franchise.”

  • Wednesday, Jun. 21, 2017
Intel signs up as top Olympic sponsor through 2024
International Olympic Committee, IOC, President Thomas Bach from Germany, speaks during a press conference after an executive board meeting, at the Olympic Museum, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Friday, June 9, 2017. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)

As part of its mission to attract younger fans, the International Olympic Committee announced a sponsorship deal Wednesday with Intel, which will bring virtual reality and 360-degree viewing to mobile devices and TVs as soon as next year's Winter Games.

The IOC has been aggressive in introducing new sports and disciplines to the Olympics: snowboarding and freestyle skiing on the winter side, with surfing, skateboarding and 3-on-3 basketball coming to summer.

Now, it's a matter of getting kids to watch it all. Olympic viewership has been trending toward an older audience for more than a decade, and IOC president Thomas Bach said "I got really concerned, because then, you have to ask yourself, 'Why?'"

"We could see from about 2012 on that it was very much a question about the platform," Bach said in an interview with The Associated Press. "The youth just weren't watching as much TV as they used to in the past."

The deal covers next year's Olympics through 2024.

Intel, which has been partnering with sports organizations to show the potential of its technology, plans to provide real-time virtual reality viewing for the Pyeongchang Olympics, and will also offer drone technology to give viewers before unseen views of events and opening and closing ceremony.

Intel will also bring 5G wireless technology to the games "because we have go get the feed off the mountain, or off the drone, or whatever it is, and down to the broadcaster," CEO Brian Krzanich said.

"You don't have the other (technologies) without the 5G," Krzanich said.

The Intel announcement comes a week after the IOC severed its sponsorship deal with McDonald's, even though the deal had three years left.

IOC managing director of television and marketing services Timo Lumme said the committee is still analyzing whether it wants to stay in the so-called retail food market.

Clearly, the Intel deal made the McDonald's decision an easier one for the IOC, which is signing new sponsors to its top-tier sponsorship program at around $200 million for four years — double the value of the old ones.

"With McDonald's, it's very easy," Bach said. "They are changing and we are changing and this is why we agreed on going different ways."

He called it "a mutual agreement at the right time."

"With Intel, here today, this is a novel step, and it's a milestone in achieving our goals" of bringing more young people to the Olympics, Bach said.

 

  • Wednesday, Jun. 21, 2017
NBC says "Downton Abbey" movie production to start in 2018
Michael Edelstein, President of NBCUniversal International studios, speaks to the media on the red carpet at the launch of an exhibition about television series Downton Abbey at the Marina Bay Sands on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)
SINGAPORE (AP) -- 

A "Downton Abbey" movie is in the works, with production likely to begin in 2018, an NBCUniversal executive said Wednesday.

Michael Edelstein, president at NBCUniversal International Studios, said it hopes to assemble 20 cast members from the popular TV series.

"There's a movie in the works. It's been in the works for some time," Edelstein said in Singapore at a red-carpet event for "Downton Abbey: The Exhibition," which features costumes, locations and never-before-seen footage from the TV show. The exhibition opened in the city-state last week and ends July 31.

"We are working on getting the script right and then we've got to figure out how to get the (cast) together. Because as you know, people go on and do other things. But we're hopeful to make a movie sometime next year," Edelstein said.

Cast members at the exhibition said they were not aware of the movie. "Oh, well, you've got confirmation before us. We have no idea if that's happening," said Sophie McShera, who played assistant cook Daisy Mason. "But we would all love to be part of the film if it was to happen, for sure."

Laura Carmichael, who played Lady Edith Crawley in the series, quipped: "Well, tell my agent, because we're still waiting to know. We're hoping that will happen soon."

Emmy-winning writer and creator Julian Fellowes also said he hoped a film would be made. "I think we've got a film in us. I hope it happens," he said.

"Downton Abbey," which concluded in 2015, portrays the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family in England and their servants amid the backdrop of such historical events as the sinking of the Titanic and World War I. It has become one of the most popular TV shows in the world, airing in at least 150 countries.

Fans lined the red carpet at Singapore's Marina Bay Sands on Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the stars. Student Jessica Nobleza, 15, held up a sign that read, "You helped us pass history."

"When I got into the show, it was kind of exam period. And season one and two involves World War I, and how it affected the whole era," she explained.

The "Downton Abbey" exhibition is to travel to the U.S. and Australia at a later date.