Sunday, April 30, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 2404
  • Sunday, Apr. 30, 2017
Head of Motion Picture Association of America to step down 
Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), delivers the keynote address during the "State of the Industry" presentation at CinemaCon 2016, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), at Caesars Palace on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd is stepping down as chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.

The MPAA said Friday that their board will gather Saturday to name Charles Rivkin as successor to Dodd, who is resigning Sept. 4.

Rivkin was previously the U.S. assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs and a U.S. ambassador to France and Monaco.

Dodd led the MPAA for six years, and one of his main concerns was preventing digital piracy and protecting copyrights. He also helped expand the presence of U.S. films in the Chinese market and revise the revenue-sharing model to benefit Hollywood studios.

Disney Chairman Alan Horn said in a statement that Dodd transformed the MPAA into a global association for the digital era.

  • Friday, Apr. 28, 2017
"Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins ready to return to work 
This April 25, 2017 file photo shows Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins at the TIME 100 Gala, celebrating the 100 most influential people in the world, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Two months after his "Moonlight" pulled out a last-second, best-picture win at the Oscars, director Barry Jenkins says "it's time to work."

"You live your whole life - not for this moment, but to have a career. So I have a career now. So I'm going to keep going with it," Jenkins said Thursday at the Los Angeles premiere of the Netflix series "Dear White People."

He directed an episode of the series - which looks at race relations and identity on a college campus - in the middle of last year's Hollywood awards circuit promotional push for "Moonlight," which also earned Academy Awards for best supporting actor and best adapted screenplay.

"So my only 10 days off were the 10 days I spent directing this episode. Which was really cool - it was a really good experience," Jenkins said.

Since the Oscars, Jenkins says he spent a month in Mexico.

"I went to Uxmal, which are the Maya ruins. And it was amazing. You talk about being humbled. I grew up in Miami. A 90-minute flight from Miami, there are these pyramids - this whole civilization, this city that pre-existed ours in America. Wonderful, man," he said. "It's the best thing to do after winning an Academy Award."

Jenkins says he's in regular contact with his cast - consulting with them as they navigate possible Hollywood projects.

"They hit me up about choices they are making, decisions they are making," Jenkins said. "You know, Mahershala (Ali) has a very young kid, so I haven't seen him as much. So yeah, we are all a family. The 'Moonlight' tour has ended, but that family continues."

The series "Dear White People" is based on 2014 movie of the same name. Jenkins is also working on an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Underground Railroad."

The best-picture win for "Moonlight" was made more dramatic because of an error that led to "La La Land" being named first before the error was corrected onstage.

  • Thursday, Apr. 27, 2017
Weinstein Co. and MPAA settle ratings dispute 
This image released by The Weinstein Company shows Elle Fanning in a scene from "3 Generations." (George Nicholis/The Weinstein Company via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The Weinstein Co.'s transgender drama "3 Generations" has been reclassified with a PG-13 rating after the distributor made slight tweaks to the movie.

The Weinstein Co. said Thursday that it made "some edits to the film as a compromise" after the Motion Picture Association of America gave "3 Generations" an R-rating. Harvey Weinstein criticized that decision. The Weinstein Co. co-chairman has frequently battled with the MPAA over ratings, often with the benefit of generating inexpensive publicity.

"3 Generations" stars Elle Fanning as a teenager who is transitioning. Susan Sarandon plays the youth's lesbian grandmother, and Naomi Watts co-stars as the mother.

The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, which participated in the making of the film, applauded the ratings change. It called the movie "a film that all families should be able to see."

  • Thursday, Apr. 27, 2017
Roman Polanski's latest movie added to Cannes Film Festival 
This Feb. 25, 2015 file photo shows filmmaker Roman Polanski during a break in a hearing concerning a U.S. request for his extradition over 1977 charges of sex with a minor, in Krakow, Poland. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz, File)
NEW YORK -- 

Roman Polanski's latest film is heading to the Cannes Film Festival.

The French festival announced a few additions to its lineup on Thursday. Polanksi's "Based on a True Story" will play out of competition. The French-language thriller, which Sony Pictures Classics has already acquired for North American distribution, stars Emmanuelle Seigner as a Parisian author who meets a mysterious woman, played by Eva Green, at a book signing.

The film is Polanski's first feature since 2013's "Venus in Fur." A Los Angeles judge recently rejected Polanski's bid to end his long-running underage sex abuse case without the fugitive director appearing in court or being sentenced to more prison time.

Polanski had been set to preside over France's Cesar Awards in February, but withdrew after the protests of feminist groups.

Festival organizers also announced the addition of "The Square" by Swedish director Ruben Ostlund ("Force Majeure") to the Cannes competition.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 26, 2017
Sondheim an honoree, Trump a target at annual PEN gala
Meryl Streep, Stephen Sondheim, 2017 PEN Literary Gala, April 25, 2017, American Museum of Natural History Photo by Ed Lederman/PEN America
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Stephen Sondheim, whose fellow honorees at Tuesday night's gala for PEN America included an imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker and the organizers of the women's marches in January, was in a humble mood.

"I write songs for musicals, for god's sake. Musicals, the runt of the arts," Sondheim said as he accepted a Literary Service Award from the literary and human rights organization. "But then I thought if institutions of higher learning now not only offer courses on the subject but have entire departments devoted to musical theater; if you can sign up for Cole Porter 101, 102; if Bob Dylan can win the Nobel Prize; maybe it's OK to take musicals seriously — but not too seriously."

Sondheim's speech was one of the lighter moments for a night otherwise unique for PEN America. Past ceremonies have focused on threats to free expression abroad, but Tuesday's gala at the American Museum of Natural History was a long look homeward. Virtually every speech and segment referred to President Donald Trump and potential dangers in the U.S., from a short film at the beginning that cited his attacks against the media to a "Call to Action" at the end by former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove to support the endangered National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Trump likes to boast that he is good for television ratings, but he has also proved an unintentional, even record-breaking fundraiser for liberal organizations such as PEN and an unexpected booster for dystopian fiction. The organization raised $2 million Tuesday, an all-time high for its annual gala, and a final bit of money — $28,000 — came from a live auction for a first edition of George Orwell's "1984," a top seller this year thanks to concerns that Orwell's world of doublespeak and endless war could become ours.

PEN's speakers were mostly celebrated for resistance. Bob Bland accepted the Freedom of Expression Award on behalf of herself and fellow organizers of the women's march held the day after Trump's inauguration. She vowed she and others would not rest until "women have parity at all levels of society."

The winner of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award was Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker serving a 20-year sentence on widely-disputed charges of terrorism. He sent a letter from prison, read aloud at the ceremony, in which he wrote about what really mattered to him: "understanding that those close to you, the time you spend with them and the warmth that they gave you, this is the most important thing in life."

Sondheim made no similar claims to profundity, joking that plays such as "A Little Night Music" were unlikely to save the world. But he noted his sponsorship of young playwrights and his fight against a dangerous kind of repression — repression of the imagination. Meryl Streep, who introduced him, contended that his body of work had never mattered more, providing a soundtrack for a dynamic vision of America.

"And when we debate whether and how to hold on to the America we know and love, we're thinking of the America that Stephen Sondheim has revealed to us," she said, "a place that's vibrant, expressive, dissonant and dramatic, moral, immoral, yearning, despairing, sensible and always funny."

The PEN gala often presents a contradiction, a roomful of like-minded people agreeing on the right to disagree. Macmillan CEO John Sargent, honored for his contributions as a publisher, warned that it was important to respect opinions a liberal community might otherwise find offensive and spoke of "a steady drumbeat asserting lines should be drawn."

"The very act of drawing a line or making that decision runs counter to our obligations to defend free speech," he said.

Later at the gala, Sargent would look on from his table up front and be reminded of his own company's pluralism. PEN Executive Director Suzanne Nossel praised the opposition so far to Trump and conservative culture and was greeted with cheers when she cited Bill O'Reilly's firing from Fox News.

O'Reilly also is a million-selling author, published by the Macmillan-owned Henry Holt.

  • Tuesday, Apr. 25, 2017
Disney to premiere "Descendants" sequel across 5 networks 
This image released by the Disney Channel shows cast members of the film, "Descendants" stars Booboo Stewart, foreground from left, Sofia Carson, Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, and background from left, Maz Jobrani, Kathy Najimy, Kristin Chenoweth and Wendy Raquel Robinson. (Bob D'Amico/Disney Channel via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The Disney Channel is giving a big push to its sequel for the "Descendants" movie in July, premiering it simultaneously on five television networks and online.

Disney said Tuesday that "Descendants 2" will air July 21 on ABC, the Disney Channel, Lifetime, Freeform and Disney XD, as well as on those networks' apps. The original "Descendants," about the teenage sons and daughters of some famed Disney villains, ranked as the fifth most-watched cable TV movie when it came out two years ago.

Disney executive Gary Marsh said the passion for the movie is unlike anything they've seen since "High School Musical." It has inspired spin-off books, a music video and other merchandise.

The movie stars Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Mitchell Hope, Sofia Carson, Booboo Stewart and Mitchell Hope.

  • Tuesday, Apr. 25, 2017
Will Smith, Paolo Sorrentino join Cannes Film Festival jury 
In this combination photo, actor Will Smith attends the world premiere of "Suicide Squad" on Aug. 1, 2016, in New York, left, and Jessica Chastain attends the premiere of "The Son" on April 3, 2017, in Los Angeles. Smith, Chastain and and Italian director Paolo Sorrentino are joining the jury for the 70th Cannes Film Festival. The Cannes Film Festival runs May 17-28. (Photo by Evan Agostini, left, and Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Will Smith, Jessica Chastain and Italian director Paolo Sorrentino are joining the jury for the 70th Cannes Film Festival.

Festival organizers announced the jury lineup Tuesday. Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar was previously announced as the jury president.

Also serving on the jury that will decide the Palme d'Or is German director Maren Ade, Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, French actress Agnes Jaoui, Chinese star Fan Bingbing and the French-Lebanese composer Gabriel Yared.

Among the films competing for the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes festival are Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled," Todd Haynes' "Wonderstruck" and Andrey Zvyagintsev's "Loveless.

Uma Thurman was previously announced as the jury president for the festival's Un Certain Regard section.

The Cannes Film Festival runs May 17-28.

  • Tuesday, Apr. 25, 2017
Disney sets May 2019 release for "Star Wars: Episode IX"
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.)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

"Star Wars" is coming back to the summer movie season.

The Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday announced that the Colin Trevorrow-directed "Star Wars: Episode IX" would fly into theaters on May 24, 2019, making it the first in the main trilogy to debut in the summer box office season, which kicks off at the beginning of May.

Both "The Force Awakens" and the upcoming "The Last Jedi" were December releases, as was the "Star Wars" spinoff "Rogue One."

The "Star Wars" anthology film focused on young Han Solo will test the Memorial Day weekend first with its previously announced May 25, 2018, release.

Disney also set a barrage of release dates for the next few years, including for the fifth "Indiana Jones" film, the live-action "The Lion King" and "Frozen 2."

The still-untitled "Indiana Jones" movie was pushed back a year and was now set to arrive in theaters on July 10, 2020, with Steven Spielberg returning as director along with star Harrison Ford.

Director Jon Favreau's live-action "Lion King," featuring Donald Glover as Simba, was expected to debut on July 19, 2019, while the animated sequel to the smash-hit "Frozen" will come later that year on Nov. 27, 2019.

Disney also pushed its 3-D animated film "Gigantic" back two years to November 2020.

  • Tuesday, Apr. 25, 2017
Lena Dunham plans to take feminist Lenny Letter on the road, develop HBO documentary series
In this April 22, 2017, file photo, producers Jenni Konner, left, and Lena Dunham attend a screening of "Tokyo Project" during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival in New York. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Now that HBO's "Girls" has wrapped its six-year run, the women behind the series are focusing on their other female-centered project: turning their digital newsletter, Lenny, into a real-life experience.

Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner are bringing LennyLetter.com to life as a variety show. The co-founders of the digital newsletter announced Tuesday that they'll take the "Lenny: America IRL" tour to six cities, beginning May 31 in St. Louis.

Dunham said she was inspired to create opportunities for women to gather and share ideas after the contentious presidential election.

"We really wanted to try to be a part of, in our own small way, healing the very big divide that exists in our country right now," Dunham said in an interview Monday. "We're trying to look beyond the coastal states and really think about connecting to women, to people, in the middle of the country."

The tour, which will feature music, comedy and spoken word performances, includes stops in Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Minnesota; Des Moines, Iowa; and Lexington, Kentucky. Tickets go on sale Friday.

While the event will have liberal-skewing political overtones, Dunham and Konner say everyone is welcome.

"It's political, but we're also trying to bring up issues that you can't really argue with," Dunham said. "For example, a portion of our proceeds are going toward arts education organizations for girls in every city. People have a lot of really split opinions on social politics, but you basically have to be a mustache-twirling villain to have a problem with girls receiving arts education."

Konner said the show's content will be more general than the specific feminist tone of the biweekly Lenny Letter. Performers will include "Saturday Night Live" star Sasheer Zamata, poet Jenny Zhang and comics Charla Lauriston and Morgan Murphy.

She said they want the show to be "a great place for people to come and really enjoy themselves."

Beyond the "America IRL" tour, Konner and Dunham are also broadening Lenny into a documentary series for HBO and a Lenny book imprint launching in August with the first of six slated titles.

"It's all about trying to expand the way that women can have access to information that cracks their brains open," Dunham said. "Jenni's and my entire ethos is really built around relationships between women."

The Lenny expansions are giving the "Girls" alums a new place to put their energies after wrapping the often groundbreaking and controversial series last week.

"It's been a very strange week. I'm not going to lie to you," Konner said. "But it's really nice after all these years of, you know, being pretty divisive, that the general consensus has been pretty positive, and that's made us feel really good."

But neither Konner nor Dunham will engage in discussion of what could be the show's final scrape. Some viewers have found fault with the race of the baby Dunham's character has in the final episode. The baby is dark-skinned; its fictional parents are not.

"I'm going to gracefully bow out of the last controversy hopefully we will ever have about 'Girls,'" Konner said. "I won't even dignify it. Ridiculous."

  • Saturday, Apr. 22, 2017
Hollywood agent and producer Sandy Gallin dies at 76 
In this May 1999 photo, Sandy Gallin who was then chief of Mirage Entertainment and Sports, Inc. stands in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. (Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Sandy Gallin, an agent and talent manager who guided the careers of such luminaries as Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Cher and Nicole Kidman, as well as being a TV, movie and Broadway producer, has died in Los Angeles. He was 76.

Gallin died Friday after a long battle with multiple myeloma, according to close friend Bruce Bozzi. "We lost a shining light this morning," Bozzi wrote on Instagram in tribute.

Other Gallin clients included Neil Diamond, Joan Rivers, Mariah Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Renee Zellweger, Lily Tomlin, Martin Lawrence, Paul Lynde and Howie Mandell.

He helped produce such films as 1991's "Father of the Bride" and 1994's "I.Q" starring Tim Robbins, as well as the TV shows "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel." He earned a Primetime Emmy Award in 1980 for producing "The Miracle Worker," starring Melissa Gilbert.

He also managed Michael Jackson after the pop star was accused of molestation and guided Milli Vanilli when the performers were stripped of their Grammy Award after it was discovered they had not sung on their hit album.

On Broadway, Gallin produced the 2002 Tony Award-nominated revival of "Man of La Mancha," starring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and a revival of "Hedda Gabler" with Kate Burton.

Gallin was raised in New York City and was a graduate of Boston University. He broke into the agency business in the traditional manner, starting in the mail room of the G.A.C. agency. He took typing and shorthand in night school, became a secretary, then an agent.

"I booked the Sullivan show for seven years," he told The Associated Press in 1983. "I saw how Ed operated, how he gave talent the best possible exposure. It was a brilliant operation."

Gallin continued up the agency ladder, later joined with Raymond Katz in the powerhouse Katz-Gallin agency. He appeared in front of cameras in the mid-1980s as host for "Live ... and In Person," NBC's hourlong extravaganzas. In later life, he sold houses and did luxury renovations.