Sunday, February 17, 2019

News Briefs

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  • Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019
"Beale Street," "Black Panther" among Scripter Award finalists
Stephan James (l) and KiKi Layne in a scene from "If Beale Street Could Talk" (photo by Tatum Mangus/courtesy of Annapurna Pictures)
LOS ANGELES -- 

The USC Libraries have named the finalists for the 31st annual USC Libraries Scripter Awards, which honor the year’s best film and television adaptations, as well as the works on which they are based.

The finalist writers for film adaptation are, in alphabetical order by film title:

  • Screenwriters Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole for “Black Panther,” based on the character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby 
  • Screenwriters Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and author Lee Israel for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” 
  • Screenwriters Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, and David Schneider for “The Death of Stalin,” based on the graphic novel by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin 
  • Screenwriter Barry Jenkins and author James Baldwin for “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Screenwriters Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini for “Leave No Trace” based on the novel “My Abandonment” by Peter Rock

Due to a tie in the nominating round, the writers of six television shows and their printed source material will vie for the Scripter Award this year. The finalist writers for television are, in alphabetical order by series title:

  • Tom Rob Smith, for the episode “The Man Who Would Be Vogue” from “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” and author Maureen Orth for the nonfiction book “Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History” 
  • Bruce Miller and Kira Snyder, for the episode “Holly” from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and author Margaret Atwood 
  • Dan Futterman and Ali Selim, for the episode “9/11” from “The Looming Tower,” and author Lawrence Wright 
  • David Nicholls for the episode “Bad News,” from “Patrick Melrose,” based on the series of novels by Edward St. Aubyn 
  • Marti Noxon for the episode “Vanish,” from “Sharp Objects,” and author Gillian Flynn 
  • Russell T Davies, for “A Very English Scandal,” and author John Preston

Chaired by USC professor and past president of the Writers Guild of America, West, Howard Rodman, the 2019 Scripter selection committee selected the finalists from a field of 90 film and 55 television adaptations.

Serving on the selection committee, among many others, are film critics Leonard Maltin, Anne Thompson and Kenneth Turan; authors Lisa Belkin, Nalo Hopkinson and Michael Ondaatje; screenwriters Mark Fergus, Larry Karaszewski and Erin Cressida Wilson; producers Brad Simspon and Jennifer Todd; and USC deans Elizabeth Daley of the School of Cinematic Arts and Catherine Quinlan of the USC Libraries.

The USC Libraries will announce the winning authors and screenwriters at a black-tie ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 9, in the historic Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library on the University Park campus of the University of Southern California. Since 1988, Scripter has honored the authors of printed works alongside the screenwriters who adapt their stories. In 2016, the USC Libraries inaugurated a new Scripter award, for television adaptation. Television and film finalists compete in separate categories.

  • Monday, Jan. 14, 2019
Filmmaker Jo Andres, wife of actor Steve Buscemi, dies at 64
In this Jan. 25, 2015, file photo, Steve Buscemi, left, and his wife Jo Andres arrive at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Andres, a filmmaker and choreographer, has died. She was 64. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Jo Andres, a filmmaker and choreographer married to actor Steve Buscemi, has died. She was 64.

Andres was married to Buscemi for more than three decades. Buscemi's representative, Staci Wolfe, confirmed Andres' death to The Associated Press on Sunday. Wolfe did not respond to questions about the date or cause of her death.

Andres was best known for her 1996 short film, "Black Kites," which won several film festival awards. She and Buscemi married in 1987 and had one child together, Lucian, born in 1990.

Buscemi has starred in several films including "Reservoir Dogs, "Big Fish" and "The Big Lebowski." He also starred in the HBO TV series, "The Sopranos."

  • Monday, Jan. 14, 2019
"Game of Thrones" final season to debut on April 14
In this Jan. 29, 2017, file photo, Sophie Turner arrives at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles. HBO announced Sunday night, Jan. 13, 2019, that the eighth and final season of "Game of Thrones" will begin on April 14. In a teaser released Sunday, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Sansa Stark (Turner) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) are seen in the crypts of Winterfell. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

"Game of Thrones" fans, get ready.

HBO announced Sunday night that the eighth and final season will begin on April 14. In a one minute and 44 second teaser released Sunday, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) are seen in the crypts of Winterfell.

Fans have eagerly awaited the six-episode finale of the show since Season 7 of the popular HBO show ended in August 2017.

The fantasy series based on the George R.R. Martin novels has been one of HBO's most successful shows.

HBO isn't getting out of the "Game of Thrones" business. A prequel created by Martin and writer-producer Jane Goldman is underway, with Naomi Watts set to star, and other spinoffs are possible.

  • Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019
NBC News, Megyn Kelly reach separation agreement
In this April 12, 2018 file photo, television journalist Megyn Kelly attends The Hollywood Reporter's annual 35 Most Powerful People in Media event at The Pool in New York. NBC News has reached its professional divorce agreement with anchor Kelly. The network announced the deal Friday night, Jan. 11, 2019, after more than two months of negotiations, giving no details. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

NBC News announced its professional divorce agreement with Megyn Kelly late Friday, ending an association with the former Fox News Channel star whose attempt to become a network morning television star as part of the "Today" show floundered.

Terms were not disclosed. Kelly was in the second of a three-year contract that reportedly paid her more than $20 million a year.

She's been off the air since October after creating a furor by suggesting that it was OK for white people to wear blackface on Halloween, and exit negotiations had dragged for two months over the holidays. Even before the controversial commentary, her future was considered limited at NBC News.

"The parties have resolved their differences, and Megyn Kelly is no longer an employee of NBC," the network said in a statement Friday night.

NBC says she'll be replaced in the third hour of the "Today" show by anchors Craig Melvin, Al Roker, Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones.

Her tenure was also a failure for NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack, who lured her from Fox News Channel with the type of big-money contract that was once standard in television news but now is less so with financial constrictions and less viewership. In a sense, Kelly was caught in a no-woman's land: some at NBC were suspicious of her because of the Fox News background, while her former audience at Fox resented her for tough questioning of Donald Trump on the presidential campaign trail.

While at Fox, her accusations of unwanted sexual advances by the network's late chief executive, Roger Ailes, helped lead to his firing.

She made news at NBC when interviewing women who accused Trump of inappropriate behavior and s poke with accusers of Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, Roy Moore and others, as well as women who say they were harassed on Capitol Hill. The episode with Trump accusers had more than 2.9 million viewers, one of her biggest audiences on the network.

Time magazine, which honored "The Silence Breakers" as its Person of the Year in 2017, cited Kelly as the group's leader in the entertainment field.

But tough segments on accusations against former NBC anchor Matt Lauer didn't win her friends internally, as did her public call for Lack to appoint outside investigators to look into why the network didn't air Ronan Farrow's stories about Harvey Weinstein and allowed Farrow to take his story to The New Yorker.

When those stories began to fade, Kelly had trouble attracting an audience in the soft-focus world of morning television. She also briefly hosted an evening newsmagazine that didn't catch on with viewers.

Kelly made a tearful apology to viewers following her blackface comments, but it proved to be her last appearance on NBC News.

"What is racist?" she said on the show. "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as a character."

Critics accused her of ignoring the ugly history of minstrel shows and movies in which whites applied blackface to mock blacks.

It's not immediately clear what's next for Kelly. NBC would not comment Friday on whether the separation agreement allows her to write about her experiences at the network.There's no non-compete clause, meaning Kelly is free to seek other television work if she wants to.

AP Writer Mark Kennedy in New York contributed to this report.

  • Friday, Jan. 11, 2019
"Green Book" writer apologizes for old tweet about Muslims
In this Jan. 6, 2019 file image released by NBC, Nick Vallelonga accepts the award for best screenplay for "Green Book" during the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

"Green Book" co-writer Nick Vallelonga has apologized for a 2015 tweet about Muslims and 9/11 that has resurfaced a few days after the film won a Golden Globe Award.

In the tweet, he said then-presidential-candidate Donald Trump was "100% correct" that local television news in New York on 9/11 showed Muslims in Jersey City cheering when the towers came down, and he had seen it.

There is no evidence such celebrations occurred.

"I spent my life trying to bring this story of overcoming differences and finding common ground to the screen, and I am incredibly sorry to everyone associated with 'Green Book,'" Vallelonga said in a statement Thursday. "I especially deeply apologize to the brilliant and kind Mahershala Ali, and all members of the Muslim faith, for the hurt I have caused."

He added an apology to his late father Frank Anthony Vallelonga, an actor known professionally as Tony Lip, whose real-life befriending of black concert pianist Don Shirley was the basis for the film. Ali, who is Muslim, plays Shirley and Viggo Mortensen plays the elder Vallelonga.

"'Green Book' is a story about love, acceptance and overcoming barriers, and I will do better," the statement said.

Vallelonga has now deleted his Twitter account.

His old tweet began circulating Wednesday just as "Green Book" director Peter Farrelly was apologizing when a 20-year-old story emerged about him flashing his genitals to colleagues as a joke.

"Green Book" won the Golden Globe on Sunday for best musical or comedy movie.

  • Friday, Jan. 11, 2019
Star of the upcoming "The Sopranos" prequel reveals details
Alessandro Nivola attends HBO's "The Sopranos" 20th anniversary at the SVA Theatre on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The star of the upcoming "The Sopranos" prequel says a young Tony Soprano will be a part of the film — but had good reason to be careful about how much else he revealed about "The Many Saints of Newark."

Alessandro Nivola talked to The Associated Press about the project on the red carpet Wednesday before a panel discussion led by creator David Chase to celebrate the 20th anniversary of "The Sopranos" in New York.

"I guess I got to be kind of discreet about it, so David Chase doesn't kill me," Nivola said. "I'm playing Dickie Moltisanti, who is the central character in the movie, and he is Christopher Moltisanti's dad."

Christopher Moltisanti, who was played by Michael Imperioli in the series, was a protege of Tony Soprano, the New Jersey mob boss portrayed by James Gandolfini.

Though the elder Moltisanti never appeared in the series, he is often mentioned as part of Christopher's backstory. The father was gunned down when Christopher was young and Nivola said the film will explore the interlocking history of Dickie Moltisanti and Soprano.

"Tony will be a character in the film, and as was mentioned throughout 'The Sopranos' series, my character was an important person in his life, and it examines that relationship as well," Nivola said.

The film begins in 1967 with the backdrop of the race riots that tore through Newark, New Jersey. Nivola said racial tension is "a big part of the story."

Nivola cited "weird coincidences" that told him this role was meant for him, including the fact that his real-life neighbor is Tim Van Patten, who directed many episodes of "The Sopranos."

Another coincidence connects his own family to the show: An episode in the second season shows Soprano visiting Naples, Italy, and in one of the scenes, just over Gandolfini's shoulder, is seen a sculpture — made by Nivola's grandfather, the artist Costantino Nivola. "So it was meant to be or something," Alessandro Nivola said.

Chase will produce "The Many Saints of Newark" and has written the script with "The Sopranos" writer Lawrence Konner. Alan Taylor, who helmed episodes of "The Sopranos," ''Mad Men" and "Game of Thrones," will direct. "The Many Saints of Newark" begins shooting in April.

"So, I got a little time to hang out in social clubs before then," Nivola joked.

  • Friday, Jan. 11, 2019
African American Film Critics to honor Quincy Jones, Jason Blum
Jason Blum (photo by Kurt Iswarienko/courtesy of Israel Film Festival)
LOS ANGELES -- 

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) announced that music icon Quincy Jones and prolific filmmaker Jason Blum are among its 2019 Special Achievement honorees. The awards, celebrating career excellence in and around the cinematic arts, are given out annually by the association which represents the largest body of Black film critics in the world. Along with Jones and Blum, who produced Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman this year, director Aneesh Chaganty, AAFCA Breakthrough Film Award recipient for his film Searching, and early jazz innovator Buddy Bolden, the posthumous recipient of the AAFCA Pioneer Award and subject of Daniel Pritzker long-awaited biopic, Bolden, join the impressive list of previously announced recipients, including Netflix’s Tengo Nagenda and HBO’s Kelly Edwards.

“Quincy Jones is a cultural icon,” AAFCA co-founder Shawn Edwards shared. “For nearly 70 years, he has helped shape pop culture as a music composer and producer as well as a film/TV composer and producer. His creative influence is unparalleled. He has molded the arts, film and music with a force that we may never witness again in our lifetime and given back all along the way.”

AAFCA co-founder and CEO Gil Robertson shared that “Jason Blum is a visionary creatively and in business. Through Blumhouse, he has rebirthed the horror genre, favoring both horror and specialty films like BlacKkKlansman that inclusively reflect or make us think about the world today. I am thrilled that AAFCA is honoring Jason, the legendary Quincy Jones, jazz pioneer Bolden and the other great creatives, in front of and behind the camera, that continue to make our industry and our world great.”
 
AAFCA Special Achievement Awards will be distributed over two signature ceremonies. Six awards to honorees, including Buddy Bolden and the film Crazy Rich Asians, will be presented on February 2 at the California Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey. Jones and Blum will be honored at the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards, alongside AAFCA Best Picture winner Black Panther and more, on February 6 at the Taglyan Complex in the heart of Hollywood.

  • Friday, Jan. 11, 2019
"Roma" tops Women Film Journalists' competition with 5 EDA Awards
A scene from "Roma" (photo by Alfonso Cuaron/courtesy of Netflix)
NEW YORK -- 

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists has announced the winners of the 2018 AWFJ EDA Awards. This year, AWFJ presents EDA Awards in 25 categories, divided into three sections: the standard “Best Of” section, the Female Focus awards and the irreverent EDA Special Mention awards—including Actress Most in Need of a New Agent and the AWFJ Hall of Shame Award.

In the “Best Of” section, this year’s big winner is Roma, garnering five EDA Awards for Best Film, Best Non-English Language Film, and Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron.

The Favourite was honored in the “Best Of,” “Female Focus,” and “EDA Special Mention” categories with a total of four awards.  The film’s star Olivia Colman was honored with the Best Actress and the Bravest Performance awards, while the film’s writer Deborah Davis received two wins for Best Original Screenplay (with co-writer Tony McNamara) and Best Woman Screenwriter.

Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? won three awards including Best Supporting Actor for Richard E. Grant; Best Adapted Screenplay to writers Nicole Holofcener and Jeff White; and Best Woman Director to Heller.

Action film Black Panther was awarded Best Ensemble Cast and cinematographer Rachel Morrison earned Outstanding Achievement By A Woman distinction for paving the road for women cinematographers for her work on Mudbound, which garnered her a history making 2018 Best Cinematography Oscar nomination. 

Morgan Neville’s documentary on Mr. Rogers--Won’t You Be My Neighbor?--was named Best Documentary, and Best Animated Film went to Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsay and Rodney Rothman. 

Additional acting awards went to Ethan Hawke for Best Actor for First Reformed; Best Supporting Actress to Regina King for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk; and newcomer Thomasin McKenzie was honored with the Best Breakthrough Performance Award for her starring role in Leave No Trace.

“Representing women film critics’ perspectives on the world’s constantly evolving cinema scene, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists is proud that our 2018 EDA Awards nominees and winners genuinely reflect the movie industry’s advances in the cause of equality and diversity,” states Jennifer Merin, EDA Awards and AWJF founder and film critic. “Our EDA Awards always honor the year’s best regardless of gender, but we also recognize the need to have categories that focus specifically on women’s achievements in an industry that still has a long way to go to reach gender parity and equal opportunity for all.”

This year on their final ballots, AWFJ members singled out films that told stories centering on strong and complex female characters from diverse backgrounds. The organization honored the excellent work of female directors and screenwriters. And, as is customary, they have called out some egregious choices and behavior that hopefully will not be repeated in the future.

“All in all, 2018 produced a bumper crop of female-directed and female-centered films,” added Merin. “Too few of them reached the mainstream, but we hope that AWFJ and the EDA Awards can help to rush such films into the current.”

Below is the entire list of this year’s winners: 

AWFJ BEST OF AWARDS
These awards are presented to women and/or men without gender consideration.

Best Film
ROMA      

Best Director
Alfonso Cuaron
ROMA

Best Screenplay, Original
THE FAVOURITE
Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara

Best Screenplay, Adapted
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
Nicole Holofcener, Jeff White  

Best Documentary
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
Morgan Neville 

Best Animated Film
SPIDER-MAN INTO SPIDER-VERSE
Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsay, Rodney Rothman 

Best Actress
Olivia Colman
THE FAVOURITE

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Regina King
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK 

Best Actor
Ethan Hawke
FIRST REFORMED

Best Actor in a Supporting Road
Richard E Grant
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Best Ensemble Cast
BLACK PANTHER
Sarah Finn, Casting Director

Best Cinematography
ROMA
Alfonso Cuaron  

Best Editing
ROMA
Alfonso Cuaron, Adam Gough   

Best Non-English-Language Film
ROMA
Alfonso Cuaron
Mexico

EDA FEMALE FOCUS AWARDS
These awards honor WOMEN only.

Best Woman Director
Marielle Heller
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Best Woman Screenwriter
Deborah Davis
THE FAVOURITE

Best Animated Female
Elastagirl
Holly Hunter
INCREDIBLES 2

Best Breakthrough Performance
Thomasin McKenzie
LEAVE NO TRACE  

Outstanding Achievement by A Woman in The Film Industry
Rachel Morrison
For paving the road for women cinematographers with her Oscar nomination for MUDBOUND and scoring as DP on BLACK PANTHER.  

 
EDA SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS

Actress Defying Age and Ageism         
Viola Davis – WIDOWS

Bravest Performance                  
Olivia Colman – THE FAVOURITE

Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent
Jennifer Lawrence – RED SPARROW

Most Egregious Age Difference Between The Lead and The Love Interest Award
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE FALLOUT – Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson

Remake or Sequel That Shouldn’t Have Been Made
OVERBOARD  

AWFJ Hall of Shame Award
ALL ALLEGED ABUSERS: Including Weinstein, Moonves, CK, Spacey, Rush, Franco, Singer, Rose, Lauer et al.

  • Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019
Aretha Franklin biopic moves ahead with director and writer
In this April 19, 2017, file photo, Aretha Franklin performs at the world premiere of "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" at Radio City Music Hall, during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, in New York. The long-gesticulating Franklin biopic “Respect” is going ahead with stage director Liesel Tommy set to direct. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The long-gestating Aretha Franklin biopic "Respect" is going ahead with stage director Liesel Tommy set to direct.

MGM announced Thursday that Tommy will helm the film, which is to star Jennifer Hudson. The "Dreamgirls" actress was cast as the late Queen of Soul in January 2018 after Franklin selected her for the role. At the time, Hudson performed a medley of Franklin's songs at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy bash.

Callie Khouri, who penned 1991's "Thelma & Louise," will write the script.

Tommy was nominated for a Tony Award for directing the 2016 Broadway production of "Eclipsed" starring Lupita Nyong'o. She is also set to direct a film adaption of Trevor Noah's autobiography.

Franklin died at the age of 76 in August from pancreatic cancer.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019
Sundance adds Michael Jackson Neverland doc about accusers
In this May 25, 2005 file photo, Michael Jackson arrives at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for his child molestation trial in Santa Maria, Calif. A documentary film about two boys who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse is set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month. (Aaron Lambert/Santa Maria Times via AP, Pool)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

A documentary film about two boys who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse is set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month.

The Sundance Institute announced the addition of "Leaving Neverland" and "The Brink," a documentary about Steve Bannon, to its 2019 lineup on Wednesday.

A description of "Leaving Neverland" says it will tell the story of two men who are now in their 30s and began long-running relationships with Jackson at ages 7 and 10 when Jackson was at the height of his fame. The names of the Jackson accusers profiled in the documentary were not released. Jackson was acquitted of molestation charges in 2005.

The film is produced and directed by BAFTA-winning director Dan Reed.

The Sundance Film Festival kicks off on Jan 24 and runs through Feb. 4.

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