Thursday, April 18, 2019

News Briefs

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  • Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2019
"Bridesmaids" writers Wiig, Mumolo to reunite 8 years later
This Jan. 15, 2012 file photo shows Kristen Wiig, left, and Annie Mumolo at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

"Bridesmaids" writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo are finally reuniting, eight years after their smash hit comedy.

Lionsgate announced Wednesday that it will produce "Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar" from a script by Wiig and Mumolo. They will each also co-star in the film as best friends who leave their Midwestern town for a vacation in Florida.

The film is planned for release next year, with Josh Greenbaum directing.

The filmmakers and stars of "Bridesmaids" have long shrugged off the possibility of a sequel. But the reunion of Wiig and Mumolo had been eagerly awaited. They first announced the "Barb and Star" project in 2014. It was then set up at TriStar Productions, with Wiig directing.

Made for $32.5 million, "Bridesmaids" grossed $288.4 million worldwide.

  • Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2019
Elton John biopic "Rocketman" to premiere at Cannes Film Fest
This April 4, 2019, file photo shows Taron Egerton, who plays singer Elton John in the upcoming film "Rocketman," discussing the film during the Paramount Pictures presentation at CinemaCon 2019, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) at Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas. The biopic will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next month. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The Elton John biopic "Rocketman" will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next month.

"Rocketman" will screen May 16 at the French Riviera festival, two weeks before it's to be released in the United States. Paramount Pictures on Tuesday confirmed the premiere, which Variety first reported.

The film stars Taron Egerton as the British singer and pianist. It's directed by Dexter Fletcher, who stepped in to helm the Freddie Mercury biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" after Bryan Singer was fired. "Rocketman" is more of a musical-biopic hybrid. John is himself a producer on the movie.

The 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival runs May 14-25. Its full slate is to be announced Thursday. As previously announced, Jim Jarmusch's zombie comedy "The Dead Don't Die" will open the festival.
 

  • Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2019
Producers Guild sets sessions, additional speakers for Produced By Conference In L.A.
Actress Mindy Kaling participates in the "The Mindy Project" panel at the Hulu Summer TCA Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES -- 

 

LOS ANGELES – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) has announced its headlining sessions for the 11th annual Produced By Conference on Saturday, June 8, and Sunday, June 9, at Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles, including:

  • “Conversation With: Toby Emmerich & Peter Roth” features an in-depth discussion with the Warner Bros. heads of film and television about the future of development across platforms.
  • “Conversation With: Mindy Kaling & Nancy Meyers sponsored by Delta Air Lines” invites Mindy Kaling, the sky rocketing writer and producer of the upcoming film Late Night, to her first appearance at the Produced By Conference alongside revered director and producer Nancy Meyers.
  • “Conversation With: Michael Douglas & Danny DeVito” features a conversation with Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito discussing their favorite stories from their decades-long careers, including their current work on the award-winning Netflix series The Kominsky Method.
  • “Conversation With: Jeffrey Katzenberg & Meg Whitman” will bring the Hollywood and tech industry moguls to the stage to talk about their streaming service, Quibi, and provide insights into how disruptive technologies are changing the future of the entertainment industry. 
  • “360 Profile: When They See Us” will bring Ava DuVernay, Cindy Holland, Jane Rosenthal, Jonathan King & Berry Welsh to the stage to discuss the creation and exploration of important themes in the new Netflix drama, When They See Us, that exposes the breakdown of the U.S. criminal justice system during the Central Park Five case. 

Reflecting on innovations in Hollywood, the 2019 Produced By Conference will host several sessions that range from streaming, horror and social good to podcasting and OTT networks. Sessions include “The Streamers: Meet the Buyers” featuring executives from Amazon, Disney+, EPIX and Hulu; “Content with a Conscious: Social Impact Entertainment Across All Platforms” with Michael B. Jordan; and “Power of Podcasts: The Latest Way to Extend Your Story.” Additionally, popular standing room only sessions “TV: Meet the Buyers” and “The Art and Craft of Pitching” will return this year.

Harnessing the excitement for and continued dominance of horror, the 2019 Produced By Conference will feature a panel with innovative producers who are finding new ways to scare and thrill audiences in “The New Age of Producing Horror.”  Taking the stage will include Ian Cooper (Us, Candyman), Kate Krantz (The Birch, Sunny Family Cult), Trevor Macy (The Haunting of Hill House, Doctor Sleep), Sam Shaw (Castle Rock, Manhattan), Dustin Thomason (Castle Rock, Manhattan), and Marci Wiseman (Sharp Objects, The Loudest Voice).

Produced By 2019 includes a broad range of programming, from mentoring roundtables to workshops and networking events, as well as the following additional sessions:

  • The Keys to the Kingdom: Financiers & Distributors
  • Live Entertainment Evolved: Scripted, Interactive and Beyond sponsored by Blackmagic Design
  • Representation for Everyone: Why It Makes Sense Now More Than Ever sponsored by Freeform
  • The Integrated Data-Driven Production: Efficiency, Economy and Quality sponsored by Cast & Crew
  • The Collaborative Balance: Creativity, Cost & Technology sponsored by Panavision

Additional speakers have also been added to the lineup for the 11th annual Produced By Conference. In alphabetical order, the new additions are:

  • Alana Mayo, President of Production and Development, Outlier Society Productions; Annihilation, Fences
  • Berry Welsh, SVP, Production & Development, Tribeca Productions; When They See Us, The Irishman
  • Chris Thomes, Vice President, Marketing Strategy, ABC Studios
  • Daniela Hamilton; Telenovela Live
  • Danny DeVito; Actor/Director/Producer; The War of the Roses, Matilda
  • Gail Berman, President, Producers Guild of America; Chairperson, SIDECAR
  • Ian Cooper,Creative Director, Monkeypaw Productions; Us, Candyman
  • James F. Lopez, President, Will Packer Productions; Little, What Men Want
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, WndrCo; Founder and Chairman of the Board, Quibi
  • Jesse Sisgold, President & Chief Operating Officer, Skydance Media
  • Kia Kiso, Founding Member, PGA Social Impact Entertainment Task Force; Producer, Zaza Productions; Mile… Mile & A Half
  • Kip Konwiser, Co-Founder, The Money Pool; Ana, Cigarette
  • Leila Jarman, Producer/Director and Creative Director of Women’s Voices Now
  • Lucy Fisher, President, Producers Guild of America; Partner, Red Wagon Entertainment; The Great Gatsby, Divergent series
  • Meg Whitman, CEO, Quibi
  • Michael Thorn, President of Entertainment, FOX Entertainment
  • Michael B. Jordan, Principal, Outlier Society Productions; Black Panther, Creed franchise
  • Mindy Kaling, Principal, Kaling International; Late Night, The Mindy Project
  • Nancy Meyers, The Intern, It’s Complicated
  • Steven Canals; Pose, Dead of Summer
  • Tracey Edmonds, CEO and President, Edmonds Entertainment; Games People Play, Jumping the Broom
  • Tricia Melton, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Freeform
  • Vernon Sanders, Co-Head of Television, Amazon Studios

The 2019 Produced By Conference is chaired by PGA members Betsy Beers, Ian Bryce, Tracey Edmonds, Mike Farah, and Gene Stein. The Produced By Conference 2019 team is supervising producer, Barry Kaplan (EKG, Inc.), program directors, Madelyn Hammond and Javier Infante (Madelyn Hammond & Associates), sponsorship director, Diane Salerno (Six Degrees Global), and marketing consultant, Julie Giles (greenHAT digital).

  • Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2019
Walmart buys ad tech startup
This Nov. 9, 2018, file photo shows a checkout scanner at a Walmart Supercenter in Houston. Walmart says it’s buying San Francisco-based ad tech startup Polymorph Labs as it looks to better compete with online rival juggernaut Amazon in targeting shoppers online. The world’s largest retailer has been quietly building its own advertising business with a unit called Walmart Media Group though that business is still smaller than Amazon’s. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Walmart says it's buying San Francisco-based ad tech startup Polymorph Labs as it looks to better compete with rival online juggernaut Amazon in targeting shoppers online.

The world's largest retailer has been quietly building its own advertising business with a unit called Walmart Media Group, though that business is still smaller than Amazon's.

Amazon's total ad revenue in the U.S. was $3.3 billion, or nearly 4% of the total digital ad spending pie in 2017, according to research firm eMarketer. The firm expects Amazon's ad revenue to hit $19.2 billion, or 11.2%, by 2021. No numbers are available for Walmart.

Walmart Inc. said Thursday (4/11) Polymorph's technology will make advertising with the discounter easier for thousands of brands while delivering more relevant digital ads to consumers faster.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Polymorph's technology platform, which includes a high-speed ad server, will enable Walmart advertisers to quickly select audience segments based on shopping behavior. For example, brands that advertise could quickly identify cat food buyers versus dog food buyers, and then measure whether their ads influenced a sale.

"We can help brands understand if someone saw their ad on Walmart's platform or across the internet, and then purchased the product in-store or online," wrote Stefanie Jay, vice president and general manager of Walmart Media Group, in a corporate blog post. "No one else can do this at scale like Walmart."

  • Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2019
NRA sues longtime ad agency over requests for bill details
In this March 2, 2019, file photo, NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2019, in Oxon Hill, Md. The association is suing its ad agency over accusations the company has withheld crucial financial details. The lawsuit filed Friday in Virginia says Oklahoma City-based Ackerman McQueen is contractually bound to show documentation on its bills to the NRA but that the firm has "baldly ignored" requests for more information. The lawsuit says the NRA paid the company more than $40 million in 2017. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- 

The National Rifle Association has sued its longtime advertising agency, accusing the company that has helped shape its Second Amendment advocacy of withholding crucial financial details in its billing documents.

The lawsuit filed Friday in Alexandria, Virginia, says Oklahoma City-based Ackerman McQueen is contractually bound to show backing paperwork on its bills to the NRA. But the NRA says the firm has only partly complied or "baldly ignored" requests for more information.

"Since July 2018, the NRA has provided more-than-reasonable notice of its desire to view key items," the lawsuit says. "However, the NRA's patience has run out."

The lawsuit says that in 2017 the NRA paid Ackerman McQueen and a subsidiary more than $40 million. The filing also says the ad agency refused to give information about a separate contract it had with NRA President and retired Lt. Col. Oliver North , the Marine at the center of the Iran-Contra affair three decades ago.

Ackerman McQueen said in a statement Monday that an NRA forensic auditing firm received every piece of information it requested during a three-week review.

"This flagrant misrepresentation, along with other false claims, serve as the foundation of malicious intent exemplified by this lawsuit," Ackerman McQueen's statement says.

Ackerman McQueen runs NRATV, which livestreams gun rights commentary and advocacy for the NRA. The company has worked with the NRA since the 1980s.

The lawsuit points out Ackerman McQueen helped craft some of the NRA's biggest messaging, including former organization president the late Charlton Heston's slogan about having to pry his guns "from my cold, dead hands."

In a statement, Ackerman McQueen also says NRA outside attorney William Brewer has a conflict of interest in the lawsuit because he is the son-in-law of and brother-in-law to two of the ad agency's directors.

Brewer's law firm said in a statement that his familial relationships have "no bearing whatsoever on the NRA's litigation strategy."

The NRA is a powerful U.S. lobbying force and spent millions to help elect President Donald Trump, who will speak at the group's annual meeting later this month in Indianapolis. It will be Trump's third consecutive appearance at the meeting.

  • Monday, Apr. 15, 2019
Disney, Comcast now Hulu's only owners as AT&T exits
This June 27, 2015, file photo, shows the Hulu logo on a window at the Milk Studios space in New York. (AP Photo/Dan Goodman, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

AT&T has sold its 9.5% share in Hulu back to the streaming TV company, leaving Disney and Comcast as its owners.

Hulu said Monday that AT&T sold its stake for $1.43 billion, valuing the unprofitable Hulu at $15 billion.

The Walt Disney Co. wound up with a 60% share after its purchase of much of 21st Century Fox, which included Fox's Hulu stake. NBCUniversal parent Comcast Corp. owns 30%. There is speculation that Comcast will sell too, leaving Disney the sole owner and perhaps making Hulu's content much more Disney-centric.

Disney may bundle Hulu with its upcoming kids-focused streaming service, Disney Plus, and its sports service, ESPN Plus, executives said last week.

Hulu's $6-a-month service lets users watch original series and network TV episodes after they air on TV. It has a newer live-TV service that costs $45 a month.

AT&T came by its Hulu stake after buying Time Warner, which invested $583 million in Hulu in 2016. Now the company, known as WarnerMedia, is launching its own streaming service later this year, which will focus on HBO and other shows and movies owned by the company.

NBCUniversal, too, will debut a streaming service in 2020.

The fragmentation of streaming services may mean higher costs for consumers as they hunt down all their favorite shows and movies across different services.

Hulu CEO Randy Freer said in a statement that AT&T's WarnerMedia, which provides content to Hulu, will remain "a valued partner."
 

  • Monday, Apr. 15, 2019
Swedish actress Bibi Andersson dies at age 83
In this May 25, 1978 file photo, Swedish actress Bibi Andersson meets George Peppard at a party for the announcement of start of new U.S. film "Cabo Blanco". Sweden’s Film Institute says Bibi Andersson, the Swedish actress who played in films by fellow countryman filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, died on Sunday April 14, 2019. She was 83. (AP Photo/Jean-Jacques Levy, File)
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- 

Bibi Andersson, the Swedish actress who starred in classic films by compatriot Ingmar Bergman, including "The Seventh Seal" and "Persona," has died. She was 83.

Andersson died on Sunday, said Martin Frostberg, spokesman for the Swedish Film Institute said.

The state-funded institute said Monday Andersson was the only person to have been named best actress four times in its annual awards.

In 1958, Andersson also shared the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Bergman's "Brink of Life." Five years later, she won Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival for her performance in Vilgot Sjoman's "The Mistress."

"Her achievements in Swedish cinema cannot be overrated," the Swedish Film Institute's CEO, Anna Serner, said in a statement.

Andersson "will be forever remembered as one of Sweden's truly great actors," she added.

Born in Stockholm on Nov. 11, 1935, as Berit Elisabet Andersson, she appeared in more than 90 films, 13 of them directed by Bergman.

They first met in 1951 when Bergman directed a series of soap commercials featuring Andersson, according to the institute.

Andersson's career expanded into major productions overseas in the 1970s. She appeared in movies by directors such as John Huston and Robert Altman and starred alongside actors including Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier and Steve McQueen.

She then turned to directing plays in Stockholm before suffering a stroke in 2009 and disappearing from the limelight.

She is survived by her daughter, Jenny, and her third husband, Gabriel Mora Baeza. Funeral arrangements were not announced.

  • Sunday, Apr. 14, 2019
Favreau gives "Star Wars" fans 1st look at "The Mandalorian"
This photo taken Feb. 3, 2018, shows Jon Favreau arrives at the 70th annual Directors Guild of America Awards at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Jon Favreau gave fans their first look at the "The Mandalorian" at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on Sunday, previewing the most anticipated series yet from the galaxy far, far away.

Favreau's eight-episode series will debut on the Disney-Plus streaming service on November 12. It's set in the aftermath of "The Return of the Jedi," taking place five years after the Rebellion's victory.

Favreau premiered behind-the-scenes clips and some finished footage to attendees.

The series stars Pedro Pascal as the title character, a lone gunfighter the actor compared to a Western or samurai hero. It co-stars Gina Carano as a character named Cara Dune and Carl Weathers as a bounty hunter named Greef. Werner Hergog and Giancarlo Esposito also co-star.

Favreau called himself "a product of a Star Wars imagination" who was eager to plunge into the post-"Jedi" landscape.

"You have vestiges of the Empire. You have only the strong surviving. You have chaos taking over the galaxy," Favreau said.

On Friday, Lucasfilm debuted the trailer for next theatrical "Star Wars" film, "The Rise of Skywalker."

 

  • Friday, Apr. 12, 2019
Facebook names PayPal exec to board; Netflix CEO leaving
In this Sept. 15, 2014, file photo, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings arrives for the 'Netflix' Launch Party in Paris. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Facebook is nominating to its board of directors a PayPal executive who recently served as finance chief of the charitable organization run by CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

Peggy Alford would be the first African American woman to serve on Facebook's board. Her naming follows pressure from civil rights groups on the company to diversify its board.

Meanwhile, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles are stepping down from Facebook's board. Both served since 2011. Hastings leaves Facebook as the social media company is getting increasingly into video offerings, potentially competing with Netflix.

Disney CEO Bob Iger, however, said earlier Friday that he's not leaving Apple's board, despite both companies now streaming video.

  • Friday, Apr. 12, 2019
Amazon: Woody Allen's #MeToo comments wrecked movie deal
In this Nov. 14, 2017 file photo, director Woody Allen attends a special screening of "Wonder Wheel" in New York. On Friday, April 12, 2019, an Amazon lawyer said the filmmaker breached his four-movie deal with the online giant by making statements about the #MeToo movement that damaged prospects for promoting his films. Attorney Robert Klieger told a Manhattan federal judge that the company protected itself after Allen made comments that at a minimum were insensitive. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Woody Allen breached his four-movie deal with the online giant by making statements about the #MeToo movement that damaged prospects for promoting his films, an Amazon lawyer said Friday.

Attorney Robert Klieger told U.S. District Judge Denise Cote that the company protected itself after Allen made "public comments that at a minimum were insensitive to the #MeToo movement."

The hearing was related to a lawsuit Allen filed in February seeking at least $68 million in damages. The lawsuit said Amazon ended his 2017 contract in June without ever releasing a completed film, "A Rainy Day in New York."

Allen was not in court. John Quinn, his lawyer, told the judge that Seattle-based Amazon initially claimed it was ending the deal because of allegations made against Allen, not because of his recent statements.

"The baseless allegations against Mr. Allen are decades old," Quinn said. He added that the claims were well known when Amazon signed its deal with Allen.

Allen's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, said in 1992 that Allen molested her in an attic when she was 7. Allen has repeatedly denied it.

In 2014, Farrow wrote about the allegations and then appeared in an interview early last year for the first time.

Quinn said Amazon has since changed its explanation for terminating the contract to blaming Allen for making statements saying that the #MeToo movement should not become a witch hunt.

The lawyer said the company had also cited claims that people in the industry won't work with Allen.

Regardless, Quinn said, Allen planned to produce a new movie this summer.

Klieger cited the comment to say it was proof Allen does not need Amazon to finish his films.

Klieger said that within a month of signing the contract, Allen made public comments about the movement that were insensitive and resulted in controversy "in Hollywood and outside of Hollywood."

The effect of the comments mean the pictures can no longer be made or promoted, Klieger said.

After hearing from both lawyers, the judge set a schedule for the case that stretches into next year.

Allen and possibly Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, among others, were likely to provide depositions unless the case is resolved through private mediation in coming weeks.

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