Wednesday, May 22, 2019

News Briefs

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  • Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019
Amazon's profit more than doubles on cloud computing, ad biz growth
In this Feb. 14, 2019 file photo, people stand in the lobby for Amazon offices in New York. Amazon.com Inc. reports earns on Thursday, April 25. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Amazon's push into advertising and cloud computing is paying off, helping the online shopping giant's first quarter profit more than double from a year ago.

The Seattle-based company on Thursday reported net income of $3.56 billion, or $7.09 per share, for the first three months of the year.

That beat expectations of $4.61 per share, according to Zacks Investment Research. In the same time a year ago, it reported net income of $1.63 billion, or $3.27 per share.

Revenue rose 17% to $59.7 billion, which also beat Wall Street expectations.

At its cloud computing business, called Amazon Web Services, revenue soared 41%.

The company doesn't say exactly how much its advertising business makes. Instead it lists it as part of its "other" revenue, which jumped 34% from a year ago.

For the current quarter ending in July, Amazon said it expects revenue in the range of $59.5 billion to $63.5 billion. Analysts expected revenue of $62.53 billion.

Shares of Amazon.com Inc., which are up 27% so far this year, rose 1.6% to $1,933 in after-hours trading Thursday.

Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights using data from Zacks Investment Research. 

  • Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019
John Singleton of "Boys N the Hood" in coma after stroke
In this Feb. 3, 2018 file photo, John Singleton arrives at the 70th annual Directors Guild of America Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Court papers show that "Boyz N the Hood" director John Singleton is in a coma at a Los Angeles hospital eight days after suffering a major stroke.

The 51-year-old director's condition was revealed in a court filing Thursday from his mother, Shelia Ward, who is requesting she be appointed his temporary conservator to make medical and financial decisions for him while he is incapacitated.

Singleton's family had previously announced that he'd had a stroke on April 17, but there had been no details revealed about the seriousness of his condition.

It's not clear whether the temporary conservatorship has been granted.

Singleton was nominated for an Oscar for 1991's "Boyz n the Hood." His other films include "Poetic Justice," starring Janet Jackson, and his recent projects include the TV series "Snowfall."

  • Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019
Emilio Estefan to make documentary on late star Jenni Rivera
In this Aug. 24, 2012 file photo, Jenni Rivera attends a press conference, in Woodland Hills, California. A documentary on Jenni Rivera with unseen footage from her last moments is heading to the screen under the direction and production of Emilio Estefan, it was announced Thursday, April, 25, 2019. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

A documentary on Jenni Rivera with unseen concert footage from her last performance is being developed by Emilio Estefan, who hopes to show the world the person and the friend that he got to know.

"I really want people to know her with the same admiration that I had for her as a human being, and that her fans realize how important her followers, and especially her family, were to her," the Latin music mogul told The Associated Press in an interview on Wednesday. "We had a very beautiful friendship ... I met her as a singer, as an actress, but at the same time as a person."

Estefan, who directed specials featuring Rivera, and television producer Dave Broome have partnered with the Rivera family, who gave them exclusive rights to produce the film. They expect to release it late this year, though it is unclear whether it will be a theatrical release.

Rivera's sister, Rosie, said in an email that the film will be emotional for the singer's children, who are now grown, but the family believes the time is right to show her final concert.

"It is an intimate night with Jenni," she said. "To my sister Jenni, her faith, her family and her fans were everything. Jenni would have wanted to share this moment of her life with the world."

Rivera was killed on Dec. 9, 2012 at the age of 43 in a plane crash. The night before she died, she performed in Monterrey, Mexico,  and that footage will be included in the documentary.

"I think that her story, and especially that show that's a historic concert, will surprise," Estefan said. "What surprised me from what I've seen was the premonition that she had by saying things... like 'I hope you go to church tomorrow because I am going to see God, I am going to speak with God tomorrow.' And then she takes that plane and the plane crashes."

"One can only wonder, 'Did she have a feeling? Did she think that something was going to happen? Because she said some incredible things," he added.

His idea for the film is to have the singer of hits such as "Mariposa de Barrio," ''Paloma Negra" and "De Contrabando" narrating her own story.

"You are going to see something that's really priceless. You are going to see her in concert again, but above all you will get to know much more and I think you'll be certainly surprised by many things that are going to come out, told directly by her," Estefan said.

The film will also include archival material and interviews Estefan conducted with Rivera on his past radio show. Estefan praised Rivera's courage to openly talk about her painful past, including her own rape and the sexual abuse of family members by her ex-husband.

"Many times women that have been abused or mistreated don't say anything for fear of being blamed for what had happened to them, but she was always open and she was honest," he said.

In the end, Estefan hopes not only to pay tribute to Rivera but to all "women that have been mistreated, that have been deceived, that have been abused," particularly in the #MeToo era.

"Now people are being more open about these things and it that makes me happy," he said. "I'm glad that this is happening and I hope she gets some credit for it as well."

  • Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019
Bond 25 launches in Jamaica, Rami Malek to play villain
This image released by NBC shows Rami Malek accepting the award for best actor in a motion picture drama for his role as Freddie Mercury in "Bohemian Rhapsody" during the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The 25th James Bond movie and Daniel Craig's last one as 007 is heading home to Jamaica.

Craig, Bond producers and director Cary Fukunaga on Thursday launched the film from the Caribbean island nation where Ian Fleming wrote all of his Bond novels. The still untitled film will be partly set in Jamaica, also a setting in "Dr. No" and "Live and Let Die."

Rami Malek is joining the cast as the villain. The recent Oscar-winner said in a videotaped message that he'll make sure Bond "will not have an easy ride of it" in Bond 25.

Fukunaga took over directing from Danny Boyle, who departed last year over creative differences. Bond 25 is due out in April 2020.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2019
AT&T shares slump as more TV customers leave
This July 27, 2017, file photo shows an AT&T logo at a store in Hialeah, Fla. AT&T reports earnings Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)
DALLAS (AP) -- 

Shares of AT&T slid Wednesday as the wireless and entertainment company reported that its TV customer losses continued in the first quarter.

AT&T Inc., which owns DirecTV, said it lost 627,000 video customers in the January-March quarter. Its DirecTV Now streaming service, a cable alternative launched in 2016, lost customers for the second quarter in a row as the company ends deep discounts for the service.

The Dallas company plans to launch another streaming service focused on HBO and the WarnerMedia library, which it also owns, later this year. It will compete with a growing number of streaming services, including new ones from Disney and Comcast.

The country's second-largest wireless carrier after Verizon added 80,000 cellphone customers who pay a monthly bill, the more lucrative type of wireless customer. AT&T also added "prepaid" cellphone customers.

The WarnerMedia division, which houses its TV networks and movie studio, got a boost from the box office of "Aquaman."

Overall, AT&T reported net income of $4.1 billion, or 56 cents per share, down from $4.66 billion, or 75 cents per share, in the same quarter the year before.

Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were 86 cents per share, beating analysts' estimate by 1 cent.

Revenue grew 18 percent to $44.83 billion in the period, which missed Street forecasts. Thirteen analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $45.09 billion.

AT&T shares dropped $1.27, or 4%, or $30.83 in late morning trading. They had increased 13% since the beginning of the year.
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Parts of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on T at https://www.zacks.com/ap/T

  • Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance launched
Bernard Weiser
LOS ANGELES -- 

A coalition of leading trade and professional groups have formed a non-profit organization to provide mentoring services to young people seeking behind-the-scenes careers in the media and entertainment industry. The Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance, or EIPMA, plans to nurture the industry’s next generation of talent by offering expert guidance to high school and college students, military veterans and others seeking to launch their careers, and by hosting job fairs, panel discussions and other public events.

EIPMA’s focus is to help young people get started on career paths in an array of craft and technology roles involved in entertainment media production. Its member organizations include groups associated with sound and picture editing, visual effects, recording, engineering and technology development. Among them are American Cinema Editors (ACE), Audio Engineering Society Los Angeles (AES), Avid, Cinema Audio Society (CAS), Hollywood Professional Association (HPA), Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE), the Recording Academy and SoundGirls.

“The future of the entertainment industry depends on the continuous influx of bright, young talent,” said Bernard Weiser, an award-winning supervising sound editor who is EIPMA’s elected president. “Our members have accumulated a lifetime of knowledge, experience and insights across a diversity of specialized crafts and vocations, and they are eager to share their expertise with young people who want to follow in their footsteps.”

EIPMA plans to partner with high schools and universities to increase student awareness for career opportunities in the entertainment industry. The organization will host job fairs, provide speakers and sponsor panel discussions. It will also connect schools with mentors with specialized expertise to help improve media-related educational programs and attune them with current industry practices and employment needs. Mentors will also serve as guest lecturers and advisers for student projects.

Additionally, EIPMA will provide individual mentoring to students at or near college graduation, military veterans and others ready to embark on industry careers. “Our mentors will help young people navigate the often-daunting transition from the classroom to the professional work environment,” Weiser explained. “We also plan to offer company tours and shadowing opportunities so that students can experience firsthand how work is carried out in professional environments.”

EIPMA will host an open house for educators this fall at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. Details will be posted to the group’s website here.

  • Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Twitter says 1Q profit triples on ad demand, daily users up
In this Feb. 8, 2018, file photo, the logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter reports financial results Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Twitter Inc. on Tuesday said earnings in the first three months of the year more than tripled on strong ad demand while user numbers posted healthy growth.

The company said the number of daily users rose 11% to 134 million for the first quarter of 2019, thanks to both "organic growth as well as ongoing product improvements and marketing."

The San Francisco company started disclosing its daily user base in the previous quarter. These are users who log into the site at least once a day and see advertisements on the platform. Twitter says daily metric will replace its monthly user count, which it will stop disclosing.

The company posted profit of $190.8 million, or 25 cents per share, for the first quarter. After adjusting for one-time gains and costs, earnings came to 9 cents per share, short of Wall Street expectations. Analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research forecast earnings of 15 cents per share.

Revenue came in at $786.9 million in the period, beating analyst forecasts of $774.9 million.

Twitter said advertising demand in the first quarter grew strongly, led by the U.S., where ad revenue rose by a quarter.

Operating expenses rose 18% to $693 million

For the current quarter ending in July, Twitter said it expects revenue in the range of $770 million to $830 million. Analysts surveyed by Zacks had expected revenue of $821 million.

In premarket trading, Twitter shares soared 8 percent. The stock has increased 20% since the beginning of the year.

Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on TWTR.

  • Monday, Apr. 22, 2019
News groups fight to keep Harvey Weinstein's hearing open
In this Jan. 25, 2019, file photo, Harvey Weinstein, left, leaves court with attorney Ron Sullivan in New York. Both sides in Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault case want the media and the public barred from the disgraced movie mogul's next court appearance. News organizations including Thee Associated Press are fighting to keep the hearing open plan to file a petition Monday, April 22, with the court. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

News organizations are going to court in hopes of pulling back the curtain on Harvey Weinstein's next court appearance in his sexual assault case.

The organizations, including The Associated Press and The New York Times, are filing court papers on Monday that argue New York City prosecutors and Weinstein's lawyers haven't met a high legal standard for barring the media and the public from Friday's hearing.

Prosecutors contend the hearing should be closed to protect Weinstein's right to a fair trial and for the privacy of women whose allegations against him are not part of the underlying criminal charges. Weinstein's lawyers say news coverage could taint the jury pool.

Prosecutors want the women to testify at Weinstein's June 3 trial to show he has had a pattern of violating women. They also expect to discuss evidence that could be used against Weinstein if he testifies.

A lawyer for the news organizations, Robert Balin, argues that holding the hearing behind closed doors would do nothing to safeguard Weinstein's right to a fair trial because allegations against him from more than 80 women have already been widely reported.

Many of those women, such as actresses Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd, have agreed to be identified publicly.

"Clearly, there is no rational basis — let alone 'compelling circumstances' — that could justify the Parties' effort to suppress this information now that it is in the public domain as a result of widespread news reporting," Balin wrote in the filing.

Balin called closing the courtroom an "extreme remedy" and argued that as much as possible the hearing should be held in open court.

Weinstein is charged with raping an unidentified female acquaintance in his hotel room in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. Those women have not agreed to be publicly identified. The Associated Press does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly.

Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. He pleaded not guilty and is free on $1 million bail. His trial is scheduled to begin June 3.

In January, Weinstein hired Casey Anthony's lawyer, Jose Baez, to lead a remade defense team after his previous lawyer lost a hard-fought bid to get his case thrown out. Anthony was acquitted on charges of killing her young daughter.

Judge James Burke said he would hear arguments from the news organizations' lawyers just before the start of Friday's hearing. The lawyers, in their filing, asked to be heard sooner so that they may appeal if he rules against them.

The news organizations are also requesting that documents filed under seal in the case be made public and that all future filings, even ones made under seal, be listed on the case docket so that "the press and public receive prompt notice that such materials exist."

  • Saturday, Apr. 20, 2019
Polanski asks court to restore his film academy membership
In this Oct. 30, 3017 file photo director Roman Polanski poses a photo prior to the screening of "Based on a true story" in Paris, France. Roman Polanski is asking a judge to restore his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after he was expelled for misconduct last year. Lawyers for the 85-year-old director filed documents Friday, April 19, 2019 requesting that a court compel the academy to make him a member in good standing again. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Roman Polanski asked a judge Friday (4/19) to restore his membership in the organization that bestows the Academy Awards nearly a year after he was expelled from it for sexual misconduct.

Lawyers for the 85-year-old fugitive director petitioned Los Angeles Superior Court to compel the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to make him a member in good standing again.

In May, the academy made the rare move of expelling Polanski and Bill Cosby, months after ending the membership of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Polanski appealed the decision, and in January the academy rejected his appeal.

Friday's five-page filing states that by not giving Polanski sufficient notice of his expulsion, and not giving he or his lawyer to argue his case in person during the appeal, the academy "failed to comply with its own rules, policies and regulations."

The academy responded with a brief statement saying, "The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable. The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate."

The filing also alleges that the expulsion violated a California law that requires corporations to give a fair hearing before removing a member, calling it a "prejudicial abuse of discretion."

Polanski's attorney Harland Braun said at the time that Polanski was "blindsided" by his removal, and learned of it through media reports.

The filing says that the academy's decision is final and the director has no recourse for reconsideration outside of the courts.

Polanski, who won a best director Oscar for "The Pianist" in 2003, remains a fugitive after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977 and fleeing the United States the following year. He has been living in Europe since.

He had been an academy member for nearly 50 years at the time of his expulsion, and his films had been nominated for 28 Oscars.

But he had long been one of the organization's more divisive members. At the 2003 ceremony, Polanski's win — his first — received a standing ovation. He was not in attendance. He'd previously been nominated for writing his adaptation of "Rosemary's Baby," and directing "Chinatown" and "Tess."

Polanski's ouster from the group means he can no longer vote for nominees and winners, but he and his films can still win Oscars.

After expelling Weinstein, the academy implemented revised standards of conduct for its over 8,400 members. The standards said the organization is no place for "people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates standards of decency."

The code allowed the academy's board to suspend or expel those who violate the code of conduct or who "compromise the integrity" of the academy.

There have been no reports of Weinstein or Cosby appealing their expulsions from the academy.

Before Weinstein, only one person is thought to have been expelled from the academy: Carmine Caridi, a character actor who had his membership revoked in 2004 for lending DVD screeners of films in contention for Oscars.

AP Film Writer Jake Coyle contributed to this report from New York.

  • Saturday, Apr. 20, 2019
"Boys N the Hood" director John Singleton hospitalized with stroke
In this Feb. 3, 2018 file photo, John Singleton arrives at the 70th annual Directors Guild of America Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. The "Boyz N the Hood" director suffered a stroke last week and remains hospitalized, according to a statement from his family on Saturday, April 20, 2019. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

"Boyz N the Hood" director John Singleton suffered a stroke last week and remains hospitalized, according to his family. Additional details, including his condition, were not immediately available.

In a statement released Saturday, Singleton's family announced that the 51-year-old filmmaker was in ICU and "under great medical care."

"On Wednesday, April 17th our beloved son/father, John Singleton, suffered a stroke while at the hospital," the statement reads. "We ask that privacy be given to him and our family at this time and appreciate all of the prayers that have been pouring in from his fans, friends and colleagues."

Author Neil deGrasse Tyson and actor Omar Epps have been among those tweeting wishes Saturday for a quick recovery.

Singleton became the first black filmmaker to receive an Oscar nomination when he was cited for his debut feature, "Boyz N the Hood," set in his native Los Angeles and released in 1991. His other films include "Poetic Justice," which starred Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur, and "Rosewood."  Singleton's recent projects include the TV series "Snowfall," a crime drama set in 1980s Los Angeles.

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