Thursday, April 25, 2019

News Briefs

Displaying 11 - 20 of 3531
  • Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2019
Walmart buys ad tech startup
This Nov. 9, 2018, file photo shows a checkout scanner at a Walmart Supercenter in Houston. Walmart says it’s buying San Francisco-based ad tech startup Polymorph Labs as it looks to better compete with online rival juggernaut Amazon in targeting shoppers online. The world’s largest retailer has been quietly building its own advertising business with a unit called Walmart Media Group though that business is still smaller than Amazon’s. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

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

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

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

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

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Thursday, Apr. 11, 2019
Tambor's character to be killed off in "Transparent" finale
This May 5, 2016 file photo shows Jeffrey Tambor, a cast member in the Amazon original series "Transparent," at a screening of the show at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. Tambor’s character will be killed off in the musical finale on the web TV series “Transparent.” He played the lead Maura, a late-in-life transgender parent, until he was fired last year following allegations of sexual misconduct. Tambor has denied the allegations. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

There will be a death in the family when Jeffrey Tambor's character is killed off in the musical finale of the web TV series "Transparent."

Tambor played the lead, Maura, a late-in-life transgender parent, until he was fired last year following allegations of sexual misconduct. Tambor has denied the allegations.

The finale will begin with Maura's death, and the episode will focus on how her family deals with it.

Amazon and "Transparent" series creator Jill Soloway told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that the series needed a different way of looking at the family and that "we did it through song."

The series stars Judith Light, Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass and Gaby Hoffmann.

"Transparent" debuted in 2014. A date for the finale has not yet been released.

  • Thursday, Apr. 11, 2019
Geoffrey Rush wins case against Sydney newspaper publisher
Australian actor Geoffrey Rush, centre, arrives at the Supreme Court in Sydney, Thursday, April 11, 2019. Oscar-winning actor Rush won his defamation case against a Sydney newspaper publisher and journalist over reports he had been accused of inappropriate behavior toward an actress. (Dylan Coker/AAP Image via AP)
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- 

Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush won his defamation case on Thursday against a Sydney newspaper publisher and journalist over reports he had been accused of inappropriate behavior toward an actress.

The 67-year-old Australian had sued The Daily Telegraph's publisher and journalist Jonathon Moran over two stories and a poster published in late 2017.

Australian Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney ruled that Rush had been defamed. Wigney awarded an initial payment of 850,000 Australian dollars ($610,000) in damages, but lawyers will return to court on May 10 when the judge determines damages for economic loss and costs.

The reports alleged inappropriate behavior toward co-star Eryn Jean Norvill by Rush while he was starring in the Sydney Theatre Company's production of "King Lear" in 2015 and 2016.

Rush's lawyer Bill McClintock told a three-week trial that ended in November that the actor might never work again because of the newspaper's reports. Rush's phone may not ring with job offers and he may never regain his confidence and desire to work, his lawyer said.

Rush outside court thanked his family for their support "during this harrowing time."

"There are no winners in this case. It's been extremely distressing for everyone involved," he told reporters.

He argued that the newspaper, which used a headline "King Leer," portrayed him as a pervert and sexual predator. Wigney was scathing of the newspaper's reporting.

"This was, in all the circumstances, a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the very worst kind," the judge said. "It was difficult to avoid the conclusion that it was calculated to damage."

Norvill, who played Lear's daughter Cordelia in the production, did not speak to the newspaper before the articles were published, but agreed to testify for the newspaper at the trial. The 34-year-old actress testified that while she was playing dead, Rush stroked his hand across the side of her right breast and on to her hip during a preview performance.

Rush denied allegations that he deliberately touched Norvill's breast, her lower back under her shirt when they were backstage or making lewd gestures and comments toward her.

Wigney said on Thursday he did not find Norvill's evidence "credible or reliable" while he accepted Rush's testimony.

Norvill said outside court she stood by her evidence.

"I never wanted these issues dealt with by a court. This case has caused hurt for everyone," Norvill said. "There are no winners, only losers."

Sydney Theatre Company had said in a 2017 statement Norvill complained of Rush's "inappropriate behavior" after the production ended.

"At the time the complaint was made, the complainant requested that the matter be dealt with confidentially, and did not want Mr. Rush notified or involved in any investigation," the statement said. The company said it complied with the request "in the interest of the complainant's health and welfare."

Norvill said on Thursday she would have been content with an apology and "a promise to do better."

"We need to make genuine, cultural change in our professions and industries," Norvill said. "We can do it, but only if we acknowledge and confront with honesty the problems and the complexities of the power imbalances in our workplaces."

The Daily Telegraph's editor Ben English said he was reviewing the judgment.

"We are disappointed with Justice Wigney's findings, in particular his dismissal of Eryn Jean Norvill's evidence," English said in a statement. "We disagree with his criticisms of her and she has our full support."

In an unrelated allegation, "Orange Is the New Black" actress Yael Stone told The New York Times in December that Rush engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior when they starred in "The Diary of a Madman" in 2010.

The 33-year-old told the newspaper that Rush danced naked in front of her in their dressing room, used a mirror to watch her while she showered and sent her occasionally erotic texts.

In a statement, Rush said the allegations "are incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context."

Rush won the best actor Oscar in 1996 for his portrayal of pianist David Helfgott in "Shine" and was nominated for roles in "Shakespeare In Love," "'Quills" and "The King's Speech." He is also famed for his portrayal of Captain Barbossa in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films.

He received his nation's highest civilian honor in 2014, the Companion of the Order of Australia, for service to the arts.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019
Oprah Winfrey keynotes annual women's summit; will team with Prince Harry on Apple series
In this Oct. 21, 2017 file photo, Oprah Winfrey arrives for the David Foster Foundation 30th Anniversary Miracle Gala and Concert, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Oprah Winfrey says it's time for women in the world to set the agenda.

The philanthropist and former talk show host made the remarks during her keynote speech Wednesday night at the 10th annual Women in the World summit in New York City's Lincoln Center.

The annual event features speeches and panel discussions that address the central question, "Can Women Save the World?" Winfrey's response is that women have been doing exactly that for so many years.

She says women should continue to "rock the boat" and redefine the message that's positive, ambitious, inclusive and "brimming with hope." The summit runs through April 12.

Also on Wednesday, it was announced that Oprah and Britain's Prince Harry are creating a documentary series on mental health for Apple's new streaming service.

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