Sunday, May 26, 2019

News Briefs

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  • Wednesday, May. 8, 2019
Disney's 2Q beats estimates despite soft theatrical revenue
In this April 12, 2019, file photo the logos for The Walt Disney Company and Chevron appear above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The Walt Disney Company reports financial results Wednesday, May 8. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Disney's adjusted second-quarter net income declined as higher revenue from its parks was not enough to offset lower theatrical revenue.

However, the entertainment giant's results still beat Wall Street expectations.

The lower theater revenue in the quarter that ended March 30 was due to tough comparisons from a year ago, when the company released "Black Panther" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." During the same period this year Disney released "Captain Marvel."

The quarter closed just ahead of the release of the Marvel movie "Avengers: Endgame" in April. That movie had become one of the most successful movies of all time.

Net income for the quarter ended March 30 jumped 85% to $5.34 billion, or $3.55 per share. The company's bottom line got a big boost from a non-cash gain from its acquisition of controlling interest in streaming service Hulu.

Adjusting for that and other one-time items, Disney's quarterly net income came to $1.61 per share, down from $1.84 a share a year ago. The average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.59 per share in the latest quarter.

Revenue edged up 3% to $14.92 billion. According to FactSet, analysts had expected $14.56 billion.

Disney, which is based in Burbank, California, closed on its $71 billion acquisition of Fox's entertainment assets during the quarter. It is using Fox assets, including "The Simpson," ''National Geographic" and other properties to help launch its streaming service Disney Plus in November. "Avengers: Endgame" is slated to hit the service in December.

Its upcoming theatrical releases over the course of 2019 include live action versions of "Aladdin," and "The Lion King," as well as "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," ''Toy Story 4," ''Frozen 2" and "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."

  • Wednesday, May. 8, 2019
CNN to make documentary on civil rights icon John Lewis
This Jan. 3, 2019 file photo shows Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., during a swearing-in ceremony of Congressional Black Caucus members of the 116th Congress in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

CNN Films is developing a documentary on civil rights icon and Georgia congressman John Robert Lewis.

The network announced Wednesday that "Gideon's Army" director Dawn Porter is helming the project. She began shooting the 79-year-old Lewis last year ahead of the midterm elections.

The film will be primarily a cinema verite documentary following Lewis from the election through the congressional battles of 2019.

In a statement, Porter said the need has never been greater for "the type of moral and compassionate leadership that he embodies."

Recent CNN Films releases include "RBG," ''Three Identical Strangers" and "Apollo 11," all of which received a theatrical release before appearing on the network.

  • Wednesday, May. 8, 2019
Drugmakers will have to reveal medication prices in TV ads
In this March 13, 2019, file phtooHealth and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Azar says drugmakers will soon have to reveal prices of their prescription medicines in those ever-present TV ads. The Trump administration will issue final regulations on May 8 requiring drug companies to disclose list prices of medications costing more than $35 for a month’s supply. Azar tells The Associated Press if drugmakers are scared to put prices in ads that means they should lower those prices. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- 

Those ever-present TV ads for prescription drugs will soon carry prices, too, the nation's top health official said Wednesday, responding to a public outcry for government action to restrain medication costs.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Trump administration has finalized regulations that will require drug companies to disclose list prices of medications costing more than $35 for a month's supply.

"What I say to the companies is if you think the cost of your drug will scare people from buying your drugs, then lower your prices," Azar said. "Transparency for American patients is here."

Upping the pressure on the industry, Azar also said the administration is willing to consider allowing Americans to import lower-priced prescription drugs from abroad if it can be shown to be safe and actually deliver savings to patients.

Prescription pricing disclosure was part of a multilevel blueprint President Donald Trump announced last year to try to lower prescription drug costs . As a candidate, Trump, a Republican, also favored allowing importation from abroad.

The pricing details are expected to appear in text toward the end of commercials, when potential side effects are being disclosed. TV viewers should notice the change later this year, perhaps as early as the summer.

Democrats say measures like price disclosure won't force drugmakers to lower what they charge, and they want Medicare to negotiate on behalf of consumers.

Other ideas from the Trump administration include regulations affecting Medicare and legislative proposals pending in Congress. With the cost of medicines a top concern for voters, Trump and lawmakers of both major political parties want accomplishments they can point to before the 2020 elections.

The drug industry opposes the price reveal, saying companies would rather provide the information on their websites. But Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, announced this year that it would start disclosing the cost of its blood thinner Xarelto in TV advertising. That drug is used to treat and prevent blood clots that can cause strokes.

Among drug industry complaints is that the government would be infringing on First Amendment free speech rights by forcing companies to disclose prices. Azar points out that the government has for decades required carmakers to post their sticker prices on vehicles.

"Prices of automobiles are vastly less important to your health and affordability than drugs," he said.

According to the latest government figures, the 10 most commonly advertised drugs have prices ranging from $488 to $16,938 per month or for a usual course of therapy.

The disclosure requirement will not apply to print or radio ads for the foreseeable future. It covers all brand name drugs covered by Medicare and Medicaid, which is nearly all medications.

"Over $4 billion of pharma spend is in TV ads ... that is their most impactful form of advertising," Azar said. "That is where the patient has the most need of being informed."

The government is hoping that patients armed with price information will start discussing affordability with their doctors, and gradually that will put pressure on drugmakers to keep costs in check.

In a twist, enforcement of the disclosure rule will rely on drug companies suing each other over violations under a longstanding federal law that governs unfair trade practices.

"There are very large legal practices built on pharma companies suing each other," Azar said, calling it a "quite effective mechanism."

Most people count on lower cost generic drugs to manage their health problems, but the advent of revolutionary medications for once-fatal or intractable diseases has put consumers on edge. Some genetic and cellular-based treatments can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, which has put a strain on the budgets of insurers and government programs.

A recent poll from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that 1 in 3 Americans said they haven't taken medications as prescribed because of costs. People who take four or more medications, those who spend $100 a month or more on meds, patients in fair to poor health and middle-aged adults are more likely to report affordability problems.

Although most patients do not pay the full list prices that will be included in ads, experts say those prices are still important. They're the starting point for negotiations between drugmakers and insurers. Also, copays that patients face are often based on list prices. And many people who have high-deductible insurance plans pay list prices for medications because their insurance doesn't start covering until patients have spent several thousand dollars of their own money.

In other economically advanced countries, governments negotiate drug prices to keep medications more affordable for patients. But except for some government programs like the Veterans Affairs health system, the U.S. has held back from government-set prices.

The regulations will take effect 60 days after they're published in the Federal Register.

  • Wednesday, May. 8, 2019
Date. Eligibility Requirements Set For 70th ACE Eddie Awards
LOS ANGELES -- 

American Cinema Editors (ACE) has announced that the 70th Annual ACE Eddie Awards, recognizing outstanding editing in film and television, will be held Friday, January 17, 2020 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.  The date reflects a shift in timing to almost three weeks earlier than usual as the truncated awards season landscape (ignited by the Oscars® moving up to Feb. 9, 2020) begins to take shape.  The television categories eligibility dates have also changed--TV contenders must have aired between Jan. 1, 2019 and Nov. 1, 2019. Feature film eligibility remains the same with contenders having to be released between Jan. 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2019.

The black-tie awards ceremony will unveil winners for outstanding editing in 11 categories of film and television including:

  • Best Edited Feature Film (Drama)
  • Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy)
  • Best Edited Animated Film
  • Best Edited Documentary (Feature)
  • Best Edited Documentary (Non-Theatrical)
  • Best Edited Drama Series for Non-Commercial Television
  • Best Edited Drama Series for Commercial Television
  • Best Edited Comedy Series for Non-Commercial Television
  • Best Edited Comedy Series for Commercial Television
  • Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Television
  • Best Edited Non-Scripted Series

Three special honors will be handed out that evening including two Career Achievement recipients presented to film editors of outstanding merit and the Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year honor presented to a filmmaker who exemplifies distinguished achievement in the art and business of film.  Honorary award recipients will be announced later this year.

Submissions for the ACE Eddie Awards open Sept. 13 and close on Nov. 1.  For more information or to submit for awards consideration beginning Sept. 13, click here

Key dates for the 70th Annual ACE Eddie Awards

  • September 13, 2019          Submissions for Nominations Begin
  • November 1, 2019             Submissions for Nominations End
  • November 18, 2019           Nomination Ballots Sent
  • December 9, 2019             Nomination Ballots Due
  • December 11, 2019           Nominations Announced
  • December 16, 2019           Final Ballots Sent
  • December 20, 2019           Deadline for Advertising
  • January 5, 2020                  Blue Ribbon Screenings (Television categories)
  • January 6, 2020                  Final Ballots Due
  • January 15, 2020                Nominee Cocktail Party
  • January 17, 2020                70th Annual ACE Eddie Awards
  • Monday, May. 6, 2019
Ice Cube, others mourn director Singleton at private funeral
Actor/rapper Ice Cube, a cast member in director John Singleton's 1991 debut film "Boyz n the Hood," arrives at a memorial service for Singleton at Angelus Funeral Home, Monday, May 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. Singleton died on April 29 following a stroke. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Family, friends and dignitaries including Ice Cube, Stevie Wonder and Congresswoman Maxine Waters were among those mourning director John Singleton at his Los Angeles funeral on Monday.

The private service was held at Angelus Funeral Home in South Los Angeles, the neighborhood formerly known as South Central, where Singleton spent part of his childhood and where his career-defining film, "Boyz N the Hood," was set.

Media was not allowed inside the funeral, which lasted about two hours before Singleton's casket was carried out.

Others who paid their respects include "Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler and the film's Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth Carter, "Straight Outta Compton" director F. Gary Gray, football Hall of Famer Jim Brown, rapper Ludacris, and actors Ving Rhames, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Taraji P. Henson and Tyrese.

Tyrese was among the stars of Singleton's 2001 film "Baby Boy" and 2003's "2 Fast 2 Furious." Chestnut, Ice Cube and Long all appeared in "Boyz N the Hood," Singleton's 1991 first feature, which made him the first black filmmaker and youngest person to be nominated for a best director Oscar.

The film was the acting debut for Ice Cube and Chestnut. Both praised the director at the time of his death , with Cube saying in a statement that spoke directly to Singleton that his "passion for telling our stories from our point of view was more than an obsession, it was your mission in life. Your love for the black experience was contagious."

The director's other films included 1993's "Poetic Justice," 2000's "Shaft" and 2005's "Four Brothers," and he was the co-creator of the current FX television series "Snowfall."

The service came a week after Singleton's family announced that he had died at age 51 , days after he suffered a stroke. A family statement said Singleton was taken off life support on March 29 and died, though a death certificate issued Monday lists the date of his death as March 28.

Singleton is scheduled to be laid to rest at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills later Monday.

The director's mother Shelia Ward filed court documents Friday that included Singleton's 1993 will. The will names Ward as executor and leaves nearly all of his property to daughter Justice Singleton, who at the time was his only child. He later had four more children.

Ward and her attorney estimate in the document that Singleton's estate is worth $3.8 million.

Angelus Funeral Home and Forest Lawn also handled the funeral and burial of rapper Nipsey Hussle , a South Los Angeles native who was shot and killed in the neighborhood about a month before Singleton died.

Forest Lawn is the final resting place of many Hollywood luminaries including Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Bette Davis and Lucille Ball.

A Singleton representative said his family is also planning a public memorial and is deciding on the details, a representative said.

  • Monday, May. 6, 2019
Coffee cup in "Game of Thrones" scene perks up viewers
This image released by HBO shows from left, Nathalie Emmanuel, Emilia Clarke and Conleth Hill in a scene from "Game of Thrones," that aired Sunday, May 5, 2019. (Helen Sloan/HBO via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

"Game of Thrones" fans got a taste of the modern world when eagle-eyed viewers spotted a takeout coffee cup on the table during a celebration in which the actors drank from goblets and horns.

The characters Daenerys and Jon did not react to the out of place cup in Sunday's episode.

It's not clear where the coffee cup came from. But some viewers who took to Twitter concluded it was from Starbucks.

Many viewers complained the show should have caught the gaffe.

Even the show's executive producer, Bernie Caulfield, expressed disbelief that the cup made it on screen.

"Our onset prop people and decorators are so on it, 1,000%," she said in an interview with Alison Stewart on WNYC's "All of It."

"Nowadays you can't believe what you see because people can put things into a photo that really doesn't exist, but I guess maybe it was there, I'm not sure," she said. "We're sorry!"

She also joked that Westeros was the first place to actually have a Starbucks: "It's a little known fact."

The last "Game of Thrones" episode airs May 19.

  • Monday, May. 6, 2019
CBS News names new evening anchor, revamps morning show
This 2018 photo shows CBS's Norah O'Donnell. The network announced Monday, May 6, 2019, that "CBS This Morning" co-host O'Donnell will replace Jeff Glor as anchor of the "CBS Evening News" this summer. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Norah O'Donnell will become anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News" and the network will revamp its morning show lineup as it seeks to boost ratings on both programs, CBS News announced Monday.

O'Donnell, 45, will replace Jeff Glor as anchor of the "CBS Evening News" this summer. Starting in the fall, the program will be helmed from Washington instead of New York as the newscast focuses more on stories from "the center of power."

"I think about the legacy and I think about the history of CBS News and that it's incredibly humbling to accept this position," O'Donnell said. "I'm going to give this everything I got."

She noted the legacy of Walter Cronkite, who anchored the broadcast for 19 years and was often referred to as "the most trusted man in America."

Glor, 43, has anchored the newscast since December 2017 and is still negotiating his future with CBS News.

O'Donnell was chief White House correspondent when she joined "CBS This Morning" in 2012, teaming up with Charlie Rose and Gayle King.

King, 64, will remain co-host of "CBS This Morning," where she recently was featured in a high-profile interview with singer R. Kelly . She'll be joined by longtime CBS journalist Anthony Mason and correspondent Tony Dokoupil.

King also addressed reports of tension between her and O'Donnell.

"I have no beef with you and you have no beef with me. It's two great jobs for two great women," she said.

John Dickerson, 50, who hopscotched from political director to "Face the Nation" moderator in 2015 to "CBS This Morning" as Rose's replacement in January 2018, will become a correspondent for "60 Minutes."

Rose was dismissed following sexual misconduct allegations .

  • Sunday, May. 5, 2019
"The River and The Wall" explores Rio Grande's border world
In this December, 2017 photo released by Fin and Fur Films, filmmaker Ben Masters rides horseback in the Rio Grande along the U.S.-Mexico border in Big Bend National Park, Texas. The new documentary, "The River and The Wall," released Friday, May 3, 2019, examines the diverse wildlife and landscape of the Rio Grande along the U.S.-Mexico border amid the political pressure to erect a border wall. (Fin and Fur Films via AP)
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) -- 

Growing up, Ben Masters worked on West Texas ranches along the border where he developed a love for the outdoors and wildlife. The experience eventually led him to study wildlife biology and to become a filmmaker.

But his interests shifted after the election of President Donald Trump and Trump's insistence that the U.S. erect a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

Masters' new documentary examining the diverse wildlife and landscape of the Rio Grande along the U.S.-Mexico border debuted this week at select theaters nationwide and on iTunes. "The River and The Wall" follows five people, including Masters, who take a 60-day journey along the Rio Grande from El Paso to Brownsville, Texas.

They travel by foot, mountain bike, canoe and horseback to document the natural physical barriers that already exist along the 1,200-mile (1,931 kilometer) border. They also film wildlife and talk to U.S.-Mexico border residents who see the region as one and who oppose plans to build a wall in rural, isolated areas.

Director Ben Masters said he got the idea for the film after getting frustrated over how the border region and the debate over immigration were being portrayed in media.

"A lot of things that have happened (in) my life have been near the border," Masters said. "I wanted to go and see it personally before it's potentially changed forever by a wall."

What could transform? Centuries-old ecosystems, the migration of wildlife and human and economic relationship built over decades — all are at stake, Masters said. And a border wall wouldn't just affect the Texas-Mexico border but the borderlands in New Mexico, Arizona and California that exist amid fragile ecological makeups.

Producer Hillary Pierce said few people think of how a wall about change border life and she felt a cinematic trip to a region rarely explored would add another dimension to the debate. Viewers will see how existing walls, sometimes a mile (1.6 kilometer) from the border have hurt private farmers and ranchers.

"This is a virtual visit to the border," Pierce said. "It's a chance for people to see it for themselves."

The crew gathered footage while canoeing through dangerous rapids, pointing cameras at bighorn sheep and camping in the darkness. Drones and helicopter took images from the sky but most was shot from the ground. The U.S. Border Patrol assisted in giving the crew access to chained-off border land and agents were helpful.

Pierce said the project took place before the Trump administration's controversial child separation migrant policy.

Among those on the journey are Brazilian-born filmmaker Filipe DeAndrade and Guatemalan American outdoor guide Austin Alvarado. Both came from immigrant families who lived in the country illegally — DeAndrade also lived in the country illegally for a time — and travel along the border while thinking of the journey to the U.S. their own families took.

Still, most of the time, the travelers were turning their cameras to the view around them and contemplating if they were viewing something about to undergo dramatic alteration.

"It was such a treat to have this experience," Masters said. "It's a shame that we may be one of the last to do so."

  • Saturday, May. 4, 2019
Herzog says his Gorbachev documentary has a "subversive message"
This Jan. 24, 2016 file photo shows director Werner Herzog during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Herzog says there's a "subversive message” to his new documentary "Meeting Gorbachev": Talk to your geopolitical enemies. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Werner Herzog says there's a "subversive message" to his new documentary "Meeting Gorbachev": Talk to your geopolitical enemies.

Herzog interviewed former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev three times in a six-month span to make the new film. He highlights Gorbachev's leadership during the reunification of Herzog's native Germany as well as the groundbreaking 1986 arms control summit with U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

The film makes no mention of current events. Russia's President Vladimir Putin is seen only once, in passing, at the 1999 funeral of Gorbachev's wife Raisa. But the 76-year-old filmmaker says Gorbachev and Reagan's top-level diplomacy was "a good example" for today.

"That's how it can happen. That's how it can be. And in a way, it's a subversive message of the film," Herzog told The Associated Press in an interview. "There shouldn't be a new Cold War. And I do believe that the demonization of Russia is a big mistake of the Western media and Western politics."

Calling Reagan and Gorbachev "the most unlikely characters," he said their meeting in Reykjavík produced something unprecedented.

"They looked beyond the horizon and they didn't come to an immediate sort of contract and agreement. But they broke the ice," he said. "The Cold War somehow ended and they created arms reductions we have not seen in that magnitude, ever."

Herzog says the parallels to today's politics are clear: "If you consider Russia an enemy, talk to them. And if you consider North Korea an enemy and some sort of immediate threat — there was a critical situation about a year ago or so — speak to them. ... And it's a good thing, no matter if you have immediate results in the contract and the treaty right away. It doesn't really matter. I do believe that the dangerous situation is, in a way, defused."

"Meeting Gorbachev" is one of three films Herzog has been working on in the last year. He also completed a documentary about a friend, the writer Bruce Chatwin, which recently debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Later this month, he'll return to the prestigious Cannes film festival for the first time since 1999 with the Japanese-language drama "Family Romance, LLC."

  • Friday, May. 3, 2019
Amy Lemisch to exit California Film Commission
Amy Lemisch
LOS ANGELES -- 

Amy Lemisch, who’s served as executive director of the California Film Commission for 15 years, is leaving that post. Her last day at the state film commission will be May 10.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who took office in January, is expected to name her successor next week. Lemisch was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to head the California Film Commission back in May 2004, and was re-appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Among Lemisch’s many accomplishments during her CFC tenure was championing and implementing California’s anti-runaway production Film & TV Tax Credit Program which has proven instrumental in keeping and attracting feature and TV projects. In 2014, the legislature passed a bill that more than tripled the size of California’s film and television production incentive, from $100 million to $330 million annually. Aimed at retaining and attracting production jobs and economic activity across the state, the California Film and TV Tax Credit Program 2.0 also extended eligibility to include a range of project types (big-budget feature films, TV pilots and one-hour TV series for any distribution outlet) that were excluded from the state’s first-generation tax credit program. Other key changes included replacing the prior lottery system with a “jobs ratio” ranking system that selects projects based on wages paid to below-the-line workers, qualified spending (for vendors, equipment, etc.) and other criteria. Program 2.0 also offers an additional five percent tax credit for non-independent projects that shoot outside the Los Angeles 30-mile zone or have qualified expenditures for visual effects or music scoring/track recording. 

Prior to serving at the California Film Commission, Lemisch was a producer for Penny Marshall’s Parkway Productions.

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