Sunday, March 24, 2019

News Briefs

Displaying 101 - 110 of 3483
  • Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019
Greg Berlanti named ICG Publicists' TV Showman of the Year
Greg Berlanti
LOS ANGELES -- 

Greg Berlanti, Emmy®-nominated writer, director and producer, will be named Television Showman of the Year at the 56th Annual International Cinematographers Guild (ICG, IATSE Local 600) Publicists Awards. The Awards, celebrating excellence in publicity and promotion for motion pictures and television programs, returns to the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Friday, February 22. More than 900 industry leaders are expected to attend this year’s luncheon, which traditionally occurs the week leading up to the Academy Awards®.
 
In making the announcement, ICG national president Steven Poster, ASC, noted, “Greg Berlanti has produced a prodigious amount of quality television in the 21st  century –almost 30 series, over 1,000 episodes, with many more in the pipeline. This year, he set a new record with 15 current live-action scripted series. This is clearly the right time for us to honor Greg and his growing body of work.”
 
Berlanti said: “I’m truly honored to be receiving this recognition from the ICG Publicists. Throughout my career, the folks in the publicity departments at the various studios I’ve worked with have been some of my favorite people to collaborate with and I can say first hand that without a smart, strategic publicity campaign, my shows wouldn’t have enjoyed anywhere near the level of success that they have.”
 
WGA, DGA and Golden Globe nominated writer, director, and producer, Berlanti is the force behind some of the most inventive and acclaimed works in film and television.  
 
Berlanti started in television on the hit show Dawson’s Creek.  Since then, Berlanti has served as creator, writer, and producer behind shows such as Everwood, Jack & Bobby, Eli Stone, and Political Animals. He also served as a producer on Brothers & Sisters and Dirty, Sexy, Money.
 
During Upfronts 2018, it was announced that Berlanti’s company would make television history with a total of 14 scripted series on the air at the same time. He currently works as executive producer and co-creator on Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and You. Additionally, Berlanti serves as executive producer on Riverdale, Black Lightning, Blindspot, Titans, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, All American, God Friended Me, as well as the upcoming The Red Line, Doom Patrol, and Stargirl
 
Berlanti made his film directorial debut in 2000 with The Broken Hearts Club. His most recent feature directorial project is the critically acclaimed Love, Simon, an adaptation of the celebrated YA novel Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his husband and son. 
 
Past recipients of the prestigious Television Showman of the Year Award include Ryan Murphy, John Landgraf, Ted Sarandos, Shonda Rhimes, Chuck Lorre, Nina Tassler, Fred Silverman, Steven Bochco, Aaron Spelling and Bob Hope.
 
As previously announced, the Publicists Awards Luncheon will also honor producer Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) with the Motion Picture Showman of the Year Award and Jamie Lee Curtis with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The ICG Publicists Directory, to be distributed at the luncheon, will be dedicated to Paul Bloch, co-chairman of Rogers & Cowan, who died last year. Awards chair this year is Tim Menke with Sheryl Main serving as co-chair.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019
Verizon cutting about 800 jobs in troubled media business
In this May 2, 2017, file photo, people walk by a Verizon store in New York. Verizon is cutting about 800 jobs, or 7 percent of the staff in its media division, as it reorganizes the troubled unit. he new CEO of Verizon’s media division, Guru Gowrappan, sent an email to employees Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, informing them of the layoffs. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Verizon is cutting about 800 jobs, or 7 percent of its media and advertising employees, as it reorganizes the troubled division.

The wireless company had hoped to create an ad business that could compete with Google and Facebook. It spent roughly $10 billion buying up former Internet pioneers Yahoo and AOL . But Verizon found benefits from integrating those two companies were less than expected. The company slashed the value of its media unit by nearly $5 billion in December.

The new CEO of Verizon's media division, Guru Gowrappan, informed employees of the layoffs in an email Wednesday. He says the division's priorities will now include focusing on mobile and video products and stemming declines with desktop users.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019
Bryan Singer faces allegations of sexual assault with minors
This Dec. 2, 2013 file photo shows Bryan Singer at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Bryan Singer, the director of the Oscar-nominated "Bohemian Rhapsody," has been accused of sexually assaulting minors in an expose published by the Atlantic.

The Atlantic on Wednesday published a lengthy article based on a 12-month investigation. It details the stories of four alleged victims who said they were seduced and molested by the "Bohemian Rhapsody" director while underage. Three of the men spoke on the condition of anonymity. Victor Valdovinos said he was molested by Singer on the set of 1998's "Apt Pupil" when he was in the seventh grade.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office earlier investigated claims that male minors were pressured into stripping naked for a shower scene in "Apt Pupil" but declined to press charges. Lawsuits filed by families of the minors involved were settled out of court.

In a statement issued through his attorney, Singer denied the claims and called The Atlantic article a "homophobic smear piece that he said was "conveniently timed" to take advantage of the success of "Bohemian Rhapsody."

The Freddie Mercury biopic on Tuesday was nominated for five Oscars, including best picture. Singer was dismissed as the director of "Bohemian Rhapsody" during shooting after several absences from the London production. Singer remains the sole credited director on the film even though he was replaced by Dexter Fletcher.

Singer sharply criticized The Atlantic for publishing a story that Esquire magazine had been preparing before ultimately declining to publish.

"It's sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity," said Singer. "Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention."

The journalists, Maximillian Potter and Alex French, defended their reporting as rigorously fact-checked in a statement issued Wednesday. Potter and French said the story was originally vetted and approved for publication at the Hearst-owned Esquire, but was "killed by Hearst executives." A spokesperson for Hearst didn't immediately respond to messages Wednesday.

Shortly after Singer was fired from "Bohemian Rhapsody," Cesar Sanchez-Guzman filed a lawsuit in Seattle against Singer alleging the director raped him in 2003 when Sanchez-Guzman was 17. Singer's attorney Andrew Brettler at the time said Singer "categorically denies these allegations and will vehemently defend this lawsuit to the very end."

The case is still pending. Soon after it was filed, the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts removed Singer's name from its cinema and media studies division. The school said Singer requested his name be removed until the allegations against him were resolved.

The Atlantic report alleges a pattern of predatory behavior on Singer's part, including sex with a 15-year-old at a Beverly Hills, Calif., mansion in 1997. Singer preemptively denied the report in October when he wrote on his Instagram account that the reporters were "attempting to tarnish a career I've spent 25 years to build."

Singer, the 53-year-old director of "The Usual Suspects" and "X-Men," last fall was hired to direct a remake of the fantasy adventure "Red Sonja" for Millennium Films. A spokesperson for Millennium didn't return requests for comment Wednesday.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019
Comcast loses cable users, but internet subscribers surge
This May 21, 2018, file photo shows a sign outside the Comcast Center in Philadelphia. Comcast Corp. reports financial results Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Comcast continues to lose its U.S. cable customers, but racked up more internet subscribers and got a revenue boost from Sky, its big bet on European TV.

The Philadelphia company said Wednesday that it lost 29,000 U.S. cable customers in the fourth quarter, but added 351,000 internet subscribers. It also gained customers in its new cellphone-plan business.

The company is facing up to a growing number of people cutting their cable bundles to save money. A number of companies have joined Netflix in offering cheaper streaming services.

Comcast is also looking to compete there. It is launching a streaming service next year, joining the crowded field competing for consumers' attention.

It's also seeking growth overseas. Its Sky deal, completed in October after a dramatic tug of war with rival U.S. entertainment companies Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox, brings to Comcast TV, home internet and cellphone customers in Europe. In that unit, revenue would have risen 2.4 percent to $5 billion, when results are adjusted to make it as if Comcast had owned it for all of last year's fourth quarter and the year before. Without the effect of currency changes, revenue would have risen 5.6 percent.

Comcast said Wednesday that net income fell 83 percent to $2.51 billion, or 55 cents per share. A big tax benefit in 2017 from changes to the tax code weighed on this year's result.

Excluding the tax changes, adjusted earnings per share were 64 cents. Analysts polled by FactSet expected 62 cents per share.

Overall revenue rose 26 percent to $27.85 billion, getting a big bump because of the newly acquired Sky.

Revenue also rose for the broadcast and cable TV networks in its NBCUniversal division, despite tepid ad-sales growth. Its movie business got a bump from "The Grinch," which came out in November.

 

  • Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
Netflix joins MPAA lobbying group, its 1st streaming member
This March 19, 2018, file photo shows the Netflix app on an iPad in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

On the same day Netflix scored its first best picture nomination from the Oscars, the streaming company is also joining the lobbying group the Motion Picture Association of America.

The MPAA announced Tuesday that Netflix will join its ranks, becoming the first streaming service to do so. The only other members of the MPAA are the six major studios.

One of the MPAA's chief goals is to combat piracy, which is a concern for Netflix as it continues to expand its footprint overseas. Netflix, though, doesn't use the MPAA's ratings system to stamp its films PG-13 or R, for example.

The MPAA is largely uninvolved in theatrical window debates, an ongoing dispute that has put Netflix at odds with theater owners.

The trade group is set to lose one member this year when 20th Century Fox is acquired by the Walt Disney Co.

Netflix on Tuesday landed 15 Academy Awards nominations, including best picture for "Roma."

  • Monday, Jan. 21, 2019
Chinese accuse McDonald's of supporting Taiwan independence via a scene in commercial
In this Jan. 14, 2019, photo, the iconic sign of McDonald's restaurant stands outside a franchise in Wilkinsburg, Pa. Chinese nationalists are accusing a McDonald’s advertisement in Taiwan of supporting independence for the self-ruled island. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
BEIJING (AP) -- 

Chinese nationalists are accusing a McDonald's advertisement in Taiwan of supporting independence for the self-ruled island.

The advertisement for a breakfast sandwich, broadcast only in Taiwan, shows a two-second glimpse of a woman's identity card that lists her nationality as "Taiwan."

Comments on internet bulletin boards on Monday accused McDonald's of violating Chinese law by supporting independence for Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory.

Some called for a boycott of the restaurant chain. Others said McDonald's, whose mainland franchises are owned by a group that includes the Chinese Cabinet's investment arm, should be expelled from China.

"McDonald's this is what you want to do? Help Taiwan independence?" said a posting on the Sina.com portal signed "Good Knife Still."

Phone calls to McDonald's China headquarters were not answered.

  • Monday, Jan. 21, 2019
"Gotti" leads Razzie nominations, Trump up for worst actor
This image released by Vertical Entertainment shows John Travolta as John Gotti from the mobster biopic “Gotti." The film will premiere at Cannes as a special gala screening at the Palais des Festivals on May 15. The Cannes Film Festival begins May 8. (Vertical Entertainment via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

John Travolta's John Gotti biopic "Gotti" has topped the 39th annual Razzie Awards with a co-leading six nominations, while President Donald Trump also earned a nod for worst actor.

In nominations announced Monday, "Gotti," the Will Ferrell comedy "Holmes & Watson," conservative provocateur Dinesh D'Souza's "Death of a Nation" and the R-rated puppet comedy "Happytime Murders" all earned six nominations.

Nominated for worst picture are "Gotti," ''The Happytime Murders," ''Holmes & Watson," ''Robin Hood" and "Winchester."

Along with Johnny Depp in "Sherlock Gnomes" and Travolta in "Gotti," the Razzies nominated Trump in "Death of a Nation" and Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 11/9" for worst actor. It also nominated Trump and "his self-perpetuating pettiness" for worst screen combo. Melania Trump was nominated for worst supporting actress.

Winners will be revealed Feb. 23.

  • Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
Hungarian-American film producer Andy Vajna dies at 74
In this Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017 photo government commissioner in charge of the development of Hungary's film industry, Andy Vajna, participates in a discussion in the headquarters of the Hungarian National Film Fund in Budapest. (Zoltan Balogh/MTI via AP, file)
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- 

Andy Vajna, a Hungarian-American film producer who worked on several "Rambo" films with Sylvester Stallone as well as Madonna's "Evita," has died. He was 74.

Vajna, who produced many other films, died Sunday at his Budapest home after a long illness, Hungary's National Film Fund said.

Vajna was also owner of the TV2 Group, a Hungarian company which owns several television channels, including TV2, one of Hungary's two main broadcasters and politically aligned closely with Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government.

"We are bidding farewell to the greatest Hungarian film producer," Orban posted on his Facebook page. "Hasta la vista, Andy! Thank you for everything, my friend!"

Since 2011, Vajna had been a commissioner in the Orban government, in charge of developing Hungary's film industry.

Hungarian films have won several top prizes at recent international festivals. In 2016, "Son of Saul," financed mostly by Hungary's National Film Fund, won the Oscar for best foreign language film.

Vajna, who enjoyed a state-granted monopolistic concession on Budapest casinos, was recently listed by the Hungarian edition of Forbes magazine as the 18th richest Hungarian, with a net worth estimated at nearly $240 million.

The producer was born Andras Gyorgy Vajna in Budapest on Aug. 1, 1944, and escaped Hungary's communist regime in 1956 with help from the International Red Cross. After some time in Canada, he was reunited with his family in Los Angeles.

After studying at UCLA, Vajna operated cinemas in Hong Kong, where he also established a successful wig-making company.

In the mid-1970s, Vajna set up Carolco, a film production firm, with Mario Kassar. Besides the Rambo series, the two men were also behind films like "Victory" — starring Stallone, Michael Caine and Pele; "Red Heat" and "Total Recall," starring Arnold Schwarzenegger; and "Angel Heart" and "Johnny Handsome" with Mickey Rourke.

After leaving Carolco in 1989, Vajna's films included "Die Hard with a Vengeance," ''The Scarlet Letter," ''Nixon" and "I Spy."

He also produced several Hungarian films and was co-owner of Korda Studios, in the village of Etyek, near Budapest, where "The Martian," ''Inferno" and "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" were filmed.

Late last year, Vajna was among several businesspeople close to Orban who donated most of their media holdings to a non-profit foundation overseen by an Orban ally, a move which put over 470 publications under even closer political control.

Vajna is survived by his wife, Timea.

  • Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019
Report: Facebook's privacy lapses may result in record fine
In this May 1, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote speech at F8, Facebook's developer conference, in San Jose, Calif. Facebook may be facing the biggest fine ever imposed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for privacy violations that breached a commitment to protect the personal information of its social network’s 2.2 billion users. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Facebook may be facing the biggest fine ever imposed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for privacy violations involving the personal information of its 2.2 billion users.

The FTC is considering hitting Facebook with a penalty that would top its previous record fine of $22.5 million , which it dealt to Google in 2012 for bypassing the privacy controls in Apple's Safari browser, according to The Washington Post. The story published Friday cited three unidentified people familiar with the discussions.

In an automated response, the FTC said it was unable to comment, citing its closure due to the U.S. government shutdown. Facebook declined to comment.

The potential fine stems from an FTC investigation opened after revelations that data mining firm Cambridge Analytica had vacuumed up details about as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

The FTC has been exploring whether that massive breakdown violated a settlement that Facebook reached in 2011 after government regulators had concluded the Menlo Park, California, company had repeatedly broken its privacy promises .

The FTC decree, which runs through 2031, requires Facebook to get its users' consent to share their personal information in ways that aren't allowed by their privacy settings.

Since the Cambridge Analytica erupted 10 months ago, Facebook has vowed to do a better job corralling its users' data. Nevertheless, its controls have remained leaky. Just last month, the company acknowledged a software flaw had exposed the photos of about 7 million users to a wider audience than they had intended.

The FTC's five commissioners have discussed fining Facebook but haven't settled on the amount yet, according to the Post.

Facebook's privacy problems are also under investigation in other countries and the target of a lawsuit filed last month by Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine.

  • Friday, Jan. 18, 2019
Glenn Close, Betty Pecha Madden to be honored at Costume Designers Guild Awards
Glenn Close poses in the press room with the award for best performance by an actress in a motion picture, drama for "The Wife" at the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES -- 

The Costume Designers Guild announced that Golden Globe Award-winner Glenn Close will be honored with the Spotlight Award, and costume designer Betty Pecha Madden will receive the Distinguished Service Award, at the 21st CDGA (Costume Designers Guild Awards). Executive Produced by JumpLine, the annual star-studded gala will take place on February 19, 2019 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
 
The Spotlight Award honors an actor whose talent and career personify an enduring commitment to excellence, including a special awareness of the role and importance of Costume Design. Past recipients include Kerry Washington, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts, Amy Adams, Anne Hathaway, Halle Berry, and more.
 
Costume designer Anthony Powell, who worked with Close on 101 Dalmatians, 102 Dalmatians, Hook, and all of her Sunset Boulevard performances, stated, “Glenn Close is a costume designer’s dream. Her commitment to creating character is awe-inspiringly total: nothing fazes her, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable. Time and time again she has said to me, ‘I don’t know if I can manage it, but I’ll try,’ and always she succeeds triumphantly. She inhabits every role she plays, and becomes that person. It is an honor and privilege to have worked with such a unique artist, and to count her as a friend (in spite of the tortures she has suffered at my hands)!”
 
The Distinguished Service Award honors individuals whose specialties and talents contribute to the craft and art of Costume Design. Past recipients include Maggie Schpak, Sharon Day, Lois DeArmond, Edwina Pellikka, and Mary Rose.

Over the course of her 40 plus year Costume Designers Guild Local 892 membership, Madden has costume designed over 200 commercials, 32 music videos, 16 films for TV, and 29 feature films. She currently serves as labor delegate to the International Alliance of Theater and Stage Employees and writes monthly labor reports for the CDG E-board, and quarterly labor reports for the CDG newsletters and magazine. Additionally, she is a CDG representative to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, attending monthly meeting and serving as Sergeant at Arms.  A lifelong political activist, Betty devotes her time to improving the quality of life for working families in the areas of universal health care, a living wage, and affordable housing to end homelessness.
 
Close and Madden join previously announced honorees Ruth E. Carter and Ryan Murphy who will be honored with the Career Achievement Award and Distinguished Collaborator Award respectively. The ceremony’s host and presenters will be announced in the coming weeks.
 
The annual CDGA gala celebrates excellence in film, television, and short form Costume Design as voted on by the Guild’s membership. The CDG includes more than 1,000 costume designers and illustrators working in motion pictures, television, commercials, music videos, and new media programs throughout the world. 

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