Monday, May 20, 2019

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  • Sunday, May. 19, 2019
James Gunn says he's a better person after being fired
In this June 25, 2018 file photo writer-director James Gunn attends the premiere of "Ant-Man and the Wasp" in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

It's been a roller-coaster year for James Gunn, who was fired from "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" over old tweets in July, and rehired this March. But the writer-director who shepherded the first two "Guardians" films to critical and box office success said the experience has been an educational one.

"I'm a better person than I was a year ago," Gunn told The Associated Press on Saturday. "It's made me more creative and focused on the things that really matter to me, which are my friends, my relationships and the movies that I'm making."

Although even after his firing, Gunn didn't exactly have a fallow period as he was hired fairly soon by Marvel's rival to work on the sequel to "Suicide Squad." Now, Gunn is fully back in the public eye promoting the horror film "Brightburn," which he produced, and resuming work on the third "Guardians" movie.

The ordeal has made him thankful for his friends who have supported him throughout. Actress Elizabeth Banks, who stars in "Brightburn," is one of those in the circle of people he can go to.

"There's a lot of things that people talk about Hollywood-cutthroat this and Hollywood-bad that and all the things that are terrible about Hollywood. But the truth is ... I have one really good gift ... I'm attracted to really good people and I have chosen to put wonderful people around me, whether it's the actors I work with, the crew members I work with, my, you know, the writers I would deal with, the studio people I deal with," Gunn said. "There's a lot of really good people in this industry."

The 52-year-old found himself under intense scrutiny last year when tweets from nearly a decade ago in which he joked about subjects such as pedophilia and rape resurfaced because of far-right propagandists Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec after Gunn was critical of President Donald Trump. Gunn apologized for his tweets, but Walt Disney Co. chairman Alan Horn said that they were inconsistent with the studio's values.

Both fans and his cast including Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel and other stars rallied behind him in the wake of the firing last July.

"Although I don't support James Gunn's inappropriate jokes from years ago, he is a good man," Pratt said.

But it was still somewhat surprising that Disney backtracked and this March announced that Gunn had been reinstated as the writer and director of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3."

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige told the AP last month that he was glad it happened.

"It was the right thing," Feige said. "It was something that Alan Horn at Disney really believed was the right thing to do."

The "Guardians" cast was similarly pleased.

"It's awesome. I'm really, really, really happy," 'Guardians' actress Pom Klementieff said at the premiere of "Avengers: Endgame" in April. "He's an amazing human being, and he's the best director."

AP Reporters Ryan Pearson and Lindsey Bahr contributed from Los Angeles.

  • Sunday, May. 19, 2019
A newly restored "The Shining" debuts in Cannes
Actor Leon Vitali, from left, Katharina Kubrick and producer Jan Harlan pose for photographers at the photo call for the film 'The Shining' at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
CANNES, France (AP) -- 

Thirty-nine years later, Jack is still not a dull boy.

In a new pristine restoration, Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday evening. It was the second straight year that a Kubrick movie landed on the Croisette, following last year when Christopher Nolan brought what he termed an "unrestored" cut of "2001: A Space Odyssey."

This time around, Alfonso Cuaron introduced the film, alongside Kubrick's daughter, Katharina Kubrick, and Leon Vitali, Kubrick's longtime assistant. Vitali was himself profiled in the 2017 documentary "Filmworker," also a Cannes entry.

"If anybody hasn't seen it on the screen before, it's a different experience completely," Vitali told the crowd. "Don't worry, you'll all come out of here alive."

Cuaron's presence in Cannes was notable. His film "Roma" was set to premiere at the French festival last year. But when Netflix and the festival couldn't agree on distribution terms for the streaming giant's films, Netflix pulled out of Cannes and "Roma" headed instead to the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion prize.

Cuaron didn't oversee "The Shining" restoration. That role went to Steven Spielberg, whose 2018 sci-fi thriller "Ready Player One" included a lengthy homage to "The Shining." But Cuaron lavished praise on "The Shining" while playfully prodding conspiracy theorists that dig into the film for hidden meanings.

"Actually, tonight, we're going to watch it backwards, because backwards, we'll see it with the message Kubrick (intended)," joked Cuaron.

The 2012 documentary "Room 237" chronicled some of those theories, including that "The Shining" is really about the moon landing or about the treatment of Native Americans. Katharina Kubrick used an expletive to describe the guessing games around "The Shining."

"This is a seriously cool ghost movie. Don't believe any of the conspiracy theories because it's all s---," she said. "I only said that because I've had some champagne."

Cuaron agreed. "Kubrick would have really gotten a laugh out of all of these conspiracy theories," said the director. "By all reports, he believed in films not to be explained but to be experienced. A little bit like music, he used to say."

"The Shining" restoration will be released on home video Oct. 1.

  • Sunday, May. 19, 2019
Abortion rights demonstration held on red carpet at Cannes Film Fest
Cast and crew of the film 'Let it be Law' demonstrate for the legalization of abortion in Argentina upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'The Wild Goose Lake' at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 18, 2019. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)
CANNES, France (AP) -- 

Ahead of Saturday's premiere of an Argentine documentary on abortion, dozens of women demonstrated for abortion rights on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

Women, including the filmmakers and activists seen in the film, waved green handkerchiefs and carried a large banner while walking the Cannes carpet at the premiere of Argentine director Juan Solanas' "Let It Be Law." The documentary depicts Argentina's battle to legalize abortion.

Argentina's Senate last year rejected a bill to legalize abortion, prompting protests in Buenos Aires streets. Green handkerchiefs have come to be symbol of the movement. A modified version of the bill is to be presented to Congress on May 28.

The film's debut comes as abortion rights are also being fiercely contested in the U.S. On Tuesday, the Alabama Senate passed a bill that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, including those involving pregnancies from rape or incest.

Many in the movie industry in Cannes have followed the developments in the U.S. with concern.

"What's happening in Alabama is so important in the world," Eva Longoria, who produced the Netflix documentary "Reversing Roe," said Friday at a "Women in Motion" event in Cannes. "It's going to affect everybody if we don't pay attention."

  • Saturday, May. 18, 2019
Netflix announces fashion design competition series
his combination of photos shows Tan France at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 2018, left, and Alexa Chung at the CFDA Fashion Awards in New York on June 6, 2016. The pair will host the fashion design competition series “Next in Fashion,” soon to come on Netflix. (Photos by Jordan Strauss, left, and Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

It's been a minute since a new fashion design competition has occurred. Enter: "Next in Fashion," soon to come on Netflix.

The series is hosted by the first "Queer Eye" star to spin off, Tan France, along with fashion maven Alexa Chung. The show features 18 designers competing for $250,000 and the chance to sell their wares on Net-a-Porter.

No release date was announced. Netflix said in a statement Friday the competition is focused on trends and styles that have "influenced the way the entire world dresses."

Among the judges are celebrity stylist Elizabeth Stewart and Eva Chen, Instagram's director of fashion partnerships. The show comes after a 17th-season makeover for "Project Runway" on Bravo starring Christian Siriano as mentor, Karlie Kloss as host and Brandon Maxwell among the judges.

  • Friday, May. 17, 2019
4 New, 15 Renewed Major Network Series To Film In NY State This Year
This image released by CBS shows Eddie Falco, center left, and Rusell G Jones, center right, in a scene from the new series "Tommy." (Cliff Lipson/CBS via AP)
NEW YORK -- 

Empire State Development (ESD) has announced that 19 major network series will film in New York State this year, including four new series. The series activity was disclosed this week at the 2019 network upfronts, the presentations given by major networks to promote new and renewed series that will be part of their fall schedules. As of today, an additional 25 series distributed by streaming services, premium cable services or other broadcast companies have started filming or are confirmed to film in New York State. All series are participating in the New York State Film Tax Credit Program.

Empire State Development president, CEO and commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The film and TV production and postproduction industry supports tens of thousands of jobs in the Empire State every year, and the series that film in the state in 2019 will bring an economic boost to local businesses and communities across New York.”

In 2018, through the May upfront week, 20 major network series had committed to film in New York State. These 20 series generated $1.35 billion in New York State spending and 81,000 hires. In total, 203 film and television projects applied for the New York State Film Tax Credit Program last year, estimated to generate more than 211,300 new hires and $3.9 billion in new spending for New York State. For each dollar of production incentive credit ESD issued in 2017, productions spent an average of $4.50 in New York State. The film and TV industry has grown every year since the incentive program was created in 2004.

Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 president Thomas J. O’Donnell said, “The Upfront announcements reinforce that New York is the go to destination for television and episodic content. It assures the continued growth of good paying jobs with good benefits that this industry provides.”

Silvercup Studios CEO Alan Suna said, “Silvercup Studios is excited that there will be so many new and continuing shows in New York. Getting the extension to the New York State Film/TV Tax Credit Program made all the difference. We are thrilled by all of the jobs this creates for New Yorkers and we are looking forward to a great future for New York’s booming film and television production industry.”

“I don’t know where else in the world you could find the wealth of talent and craft that The Good Fight depends upon as we enter into our fourth season,” said Brooke Kennedy, executive producer of The Good Fight for CBS.  “Completely made in NY!”

The 15 renewed major network series to film in NY State this year are:

  • Blacklist (Produced by Sony, distributed on NBC)
  • Blindspot (Produced by Warner Bros, distributed on NBC)
  • Blue Bloods (Produced by and distributed on CBS)
  • Bull (Produced by and distributed on CBS)  
  • FBI (Produced by and distributed on CBS)  
  • God Friended Me (Produced by Warner Bros, distributed on CBS)
  • Law & Order SVU (Produced by NBCU, distributed on NBC)
  • Madam Secretary (Produced by and distributed on CBS)
  • Manifest (Produced by Warner Bros, distributed on NBC)
  • Mr. Robot (Produced by NBCU, distributed on USA)
  • New Amsterdam (Produced by NBCU, distributed on NBC) 
  • Pose (Produced by Fox 21/Disney, distributed on FX)
  • Tell Me A Story (Produced by CBS, distributed on CBS All Access)
  • The Good Fight (Produced by CBS, distributed on CBS All Access)
  • The Sinner (Produced by NBCU, distributed on USA)

The four new network shows slated for lensing in NY State are:

  • Evil (Produced by and distributed on CBS)
  • FBI: Most Wanted (Produced by and distributed on CBS)
  • For Life (Produced by Sony, distributed on ABC)
  • Tommy (Produced by and distributed on CBS)
  • Thursday, May. 16, 2019
In Cannes, a gory Western stands against Bolsonaro's Brazil
Students light flares as they protest against a massive cut in the education budget imposed by the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Federal education officials this month announced budget cuts of $1.85 billion for public education, part of a wider government effort to slash spending. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
CANNES, France (AP) -- 

Kleber Mendonça Filho's Cannes entry "Bacurau" is a feverish and violent Western about a rural Brazilian community defending itself from a hard-to-comprehend invasion. For the filmmakers, it's not so different than President Jair Bolsonaro's Brazil.

"Bacurau," which is competing for the Palme d'Or, the top prize, gave the Cannes Film Festival's most searing political statement yet. While the film is a bloody, surreal Brazilian parable with shades of "The Most Dangerous Game" and "Seven Samurai," its makers spoke in blunter political terms Thursday.

"Brazil right now does feel like a dystopia in many, many everyday aspects," Mendonça said to reporters.

At the Cannes premiere to his 2016 film, "Aquarius," Filho and his cast three years ago memorably held placards that declared a coup had taken place in Brazil. Just weeks earlier, Brazil's left-wing former president Dilma Rousseff had been impeached. Last October, Bolsonaro — a populist, right-wing leader sometimes compared to U.S. President Donald Trump — was elected, ushering in a fraught new chapter for Brazil.

This time, Mendonça, his co-director Julian Dornelles and their cast didn't protest on the red carpet. "Bacurau," they said, spoke for them.

"We used the movie as our weapon," said actor Thomas Aquino. "This is our answer. This is how we protest."

While "Bacurau" was premiering Wednesday night in Cannes, tens of thousands of students and teachers protested in Brazilian streets over steep budget cuts to education that Bolsonaro has announced. The filmmakers said they stood in solidarity with those protesters.

"It's very important that you don't go insane," said Mendonça on Thursday. "Like: 'Yeah, maybe we cut 30% of education, maybe that'd be a good thing.'"

"We should never lose sight of what we believe in," he added. "I think that is what resistance is under some strange system you don't believe in."

Bolsonaro has said he believes indigenous groups in Brazil have too much land set aside for their control. He supports making parts of the Amazon easier for miners and loggers to access.

Bolsonaro has also criticized the arts for "cultural Marxism" and dissolved the country's ministry of culture. Funding for Latin America's biggest film and television industry has been significantly reduced.

But Brazil has a significant presence at this year's Cannes Film Festival, including Karim Ainouz's "Invisible Life," playing in Un Certain Regard, a section of the festival's official selection. As part of Cannes' main slate, "Bacurau" is the most prominent.

"It's just amazing that this film is seeing the light of day at a time when in fact they are trying to hide Brazilian cultural output," said Mendonça.

During production on "Bacurau," the Brazilian government declared that Mendonça had to return about $500,000 from a grant for his debut feature, "Neighboring Sounds." He calls the demand "unprecedented in the history of Brazilian filmmaking."

"When 'Bacurau' was announced in Cannes this month, they came up with another press package about this, which is not a coincidence," Mendonça said. "We are dealing with this with lawyers and we hope to overturn it. It makes no sense whatsoever."

While "Bacurau" has been in development for the last decade, Mendonça said the film's extremes of "Bacurau" were fueled by Bolsonaro's election.

"It was almost like reality was catching up with the script," said Mendonça. "When that happened, we went up to 11, we went over the top."

  • Thursday, May. 16, 2019
Who's ready for a new Archie Bunker, live on your TV?
This July 29, 2018 file photo shows executive producer Norman Lear at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. A 90-minute ABC special will celebrate the writer, director and producer of classic comedies, “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.” It airs May 22. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Archie Bunker is coming back to prime-time network TV and he might look a little different to viewers — even if what he says is exactly the same.

Woody Harrelson is stepping into the iconic role as part of a 90-minute ABC special celebrating writer, director and producer Norman Lear. It airs May 22.

"It's going to be exciting as hell," said Lear. "Another version of Archie Bunker is going to play Archie Bunker. A great, great talent is going to be Archie Bunker."

The live special will recreate one original episode from "All in the Family" and another from "The Jeffersons." It will be hosted by Lear and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who dreamed up the idea.

"It really is astonishing just how great these shows are. I say 'are' and not 'were' because they are still great," Kimmel said. "I'm excited that a new generation will get to see them, and be reminded of them and then maybe take the time to go back and watch all the old ones."

Joining Harrelson in Carroll O'Connor's old role in "All in the Family" will be Marisa Tomei playing Bunker's long-suffering wife, Edith. Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes will play George and Louise Jefferson in "The Jeffersons," in roles played originally by Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford. The special will also feature Ellie Kemper, Will Ferrell, Justina Machado, Kerry Washington, Sean Hayes and Anthony Anderson.

Lear's two 1970s-era sitcoms are cut from the same topical cloth, tackling racism, feminism and the Vietnam War. Asked if they still hold up, Lear was clear. "I think they work very well," he said. "Funny is funny."

Kimmel took inspiration from the recent move by networks to mount Broadway musicals and make them into live events, like "Rent," ''The Sound of Music" and "Grease."

"I'm not that interested in musicals. I love television shows. And I was just thinking about what gets ratings on TV nowadays," said Kimmel.

"It seems like live events are still pretty popular and still doing well. I was thinking about the old shows and I thought, 'Why don't we do one of these great old shows?' I know people love 'Grease' but how many times do you need to see that?"

Though producers won't reveal which episodes of the sitcoms are being restaged, Kimmel promised having them live in front of a studio audience — and the world on TV — will give the shows a jolt of electricity.

He wants Americans to watch them the way they used to — together, at the same time. He's not worried about any screw ups, either, since that adds to the suspense.

"We may release a box of rats onto the set just to see what happens," he joked. "I think it adds something to the production. You see it in the live musicals. They wouldn't be nearly as interesting if they were on tape."

  • Thursday, May. 16, 2019
In Cannes, "Les Miserables" rings alarm for Paris suburbs
Actors Damien Bonnard, from left, Djebril Zonga, director Ladj Ly and actor Alexis Manenti pose for photographers at the photo call for the film 'Les Miserables' at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 16, 2019. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
CANNES, France (AP) -- 

More than 150 years after Victor Hugo's classic novel, a French film titled "Les Miserables" gives a gritty, modern view of the Paris suburbs where Jean Valjean first met Cosette.

Ladj Ly's "Les Miserables," which premiered Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival, contains no singing or romance, but rather a tough, "The Wire"-like street-level portrait of the Parisian banlieue of Montfermeil. It's the same neighborhood where the 37-year-old Ly grew up and still lives.

Ly says he made his movie as "an alarm bell" for the plight of kids growing up in neighborhoods like Montfermeil.

"For the past 20 years, we've said things are not going well. We have the impression no one's listening," said Ly. "I wanted to address a message to Emmanuel Macron, the president of the Republic. It's important for him to see the film."

"For 20 years now, we have been yellow vests," he added, referencing the ongoing protests of working-class French. "We've been demanding our rights for the past 20 years. We've had to cope with police violence for over 20 years."

"Les Miserables," which is competing for the top Palme d'Or prize in Cannes, shows the Paris suburbs as a combustible powder keg, where neighborhood gang leaders and overanxious police are in a constant dance. Much of Ly's film revolves around the young kids growing up in the housing projects.

In 2015, the Paris banlieue of Clichy-sous-Bois exploded in riots that put an international spotlight on the lives of immigrants and French-Africans in the areas surrounding Paris.

"One shouldn't forget that three-fourths of the people who live in these housing estates are French," said Ly. "Now we have the impression that there are different classifications of citizenship. But we're just French full stop, so accept us as French, full stop."

Other recent films have sought to capture the reality of the banlieues, including "La Haine" and "Dheepan," which won the Palme d'Or in 2015. "Les Miserables," Ly's feature directing debut, drew largely strong reviews in Cannes for its muscular genre work and passionate social commentary.

"One century later, misery, abject poverty is still present in these housing estates," said Ly.

  • Thursday, May. 16, 2019
Elton John and "Rocketman" touch down in Cannes
Actor Taron Egerton, left, and singer Elton John pose for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Rocketman' at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 16, 2019. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
CANNES, France (AP) -- 

Elton John and his biopic "Rocketman" landed Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival, where the 72-year-old pop star came dressed in a tuxedo with "Rocket Man" emblazoned on the back and regaled attendees with an after-party performance on the beach.

John, an executive producer of the film, hadn't spoken much about the movie before it made its premiere at Cannes. But donning heart-shaped, red-tinted glasses he gave the movie his hearty blessing Thursday. At the post-premiere party, he called it "an emotional night."

"Even if the movie doesn't make one penny at the box office — which will kill (Paramount Pictures chief) Jim Gianopulos — it is the movie I wanted to make," John said from the stage.

At the party John performed "I'm Still Standing" before being joined by Taron Egerton, who plays him in the film for a rendition of "Rocket Man." Egerton was visibly moved to tears after the premiere.

"Rocketman" is directed by Dexter Fletcher who also took over directing duties on last year's hit music biopic, "Bohemian Rhapsody," after Bryan Singer departed mid-production.

"Rocketman" isn't so dissimilar from "Bohemian Rhapsody." It's a glossy music-stuffed biopic with a star-making turn from Egerton. But "Rocketman" is R-rated and less cautious about its star's homosexuality.

Paramount Pictures hopes "Rocketman" can also mimic the box office of "Bohemian Rhapsody." It grossed $903 million worldwide.

  • Wednesday, May. 15, 2019
Julianne Moore on gender parity: "I believe in quotas"
Director Werner Herzog, from left, actress Julianne Moore and Xavier Dolan pose for photographers at the See The World Through A Different Lens photo call at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)
CANNES, France (AP) -- 

Julianne Moore said Wednesday that larger efforts are needed in order for the movie industry to reach gender parity, and that means implementing quotas.

"We will not have gender parity unless everybody is cooperating. Women are not a special interest group. We're 52 percent of the global population," Moore said during an event at the Cannes Film Festival. "In order to restore the balance, I do think that there will be, that we will need some measures to change our culture."

"We will have to make major changes to reach parity. That's just a fact. So, I do believe in quotas. I really do," added Moore. "I believe in trying to level the playing field for everybody regardless of their gender or their culture or ethnicity. You have to open doors."

While gender quotas haven't been much discussed in Hollywood, they're more common in Europe where filmmaking is often partly supported by public money. Sweden, Norway and Ireland have instituted 50-50 quotas in allocating public funds for male and female filmmakers, as has the British Film Institute.

Women made up 8% of directors on the top 250 films at the U.S. box office last year, down from 11 percent the year before, according to a study in January from San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

Moore spoke Wednesday at a Mastercard MasterClass event alongside Werner Herzog and Xavier Dolan. In Cannes, she stars in the short film "The Staggering Girl" directed by Luca Guadagnino, which is playing in the Directors' Fortnight section.

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