Sunday, November 18, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 61 - 70 of 3278
  • Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018
Appeals court: Lynyrd Skynyrd film can be released
This May 27, 2005 file photo shows members of Lynyrd Skynyard, lead singer Johnny Van Zant, center, guitarists Rickey Medlocke, left, and Gary Rossington performing in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/John Russell)

A new Lynyrd Skynyrd film can be released despite a dispute over the band's intentions after a federal appeals court ruled in its favor Wednesday.

The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan came in a case involving a movie called "Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash."

A lower court judge decided previously the film violated a "blood oath" made by bandmembers not to exploit the group's name after a 1977 plane crash that killed its lead singer and songwriter, Ronnie Van Zant. The band's hits included "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird."

The 2nd Circuit reversed that decision, saying the movie can be distributed.

Evan Mandel, an attorney for Cleopatra Entertainment, said the filmmaker "is thrilled" the three-judge panel protected the company's right to publish a film about Artimus Pyle's survival in the plane crash. Pyle is a former drummer with the pioneering 1970s southern rock band.

"The band fails to appreciate the irony of singing about freedom while attempting to use a secret gag order to prevent other artists from expressing views with which the band disagrees," said Mandel, representing Los Angeles-based Cleopatra Records Inc. and Cleopatra Films.

"The court's decision is a victory for filmmakers, artists, journalists, readers, viewers, and the marketplace of ideas," Mandel added.

The lawsuit was brought by Van Zant's widow and others, including founding band member Allen Collins. Their lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 2nd Circuit concluded a consent order meant to resolve a 1988 lawsuit over how the band's name could be used was insufficiently precise in its language to sustain an order blocking the film's distribution.

The appeals court noted that the filmmaker was supported in its appeal by several journalism and entertainment organizations, highlighting First Amendment concerns.

But the judges said those who believed it was a classic First Amendment violation involving an unlawful prior restraint were wrong.

"It is not," the appeals court said. "No government entity has obtained a court order to prevent the making or release of the film, ... nor does the case involve a claim of defamation or invasion of privacy as to which the First Amendment imposes special requirements."

Yet, the court said, the case does implicate free speech concerns, and courts should be hesitant to block the viewing of an expressive work such as a movie prior to its public availability.

It also noted that Cleopatra did not sign the consent decree.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018
AT&T's WarnerMedia to offer their own streaming service
This July 27, 2017, file photo shows an AT&T logo at a store in Hialeah, Fla. AT&T and WarnerMedia are joining the ever-expanding list of companies offering a streaming video service. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

AT&T and WarnerMedia are joining the ever-expanding list of companies offering a streaming video service.

They say the service due to launch in late 2019 will include films, TV shows, documentaries, animation and other offerings. No pricing was announced.

It's the second product AT&T has unveiled since its $81 billion acquisition in June of Time Warner, which it renamed WarnerMedia. That same month it launched WatchTV, a cable-like package of more than 30 TV channels delivered over the internet.

More people are switching to streaming video from traditional cable bundles. Other streaming services include Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, CBS All Access, Showtime, Amazon, YouTube Premium and others. And Disney is set to launch its own service later next year as well.

While details about the service have not been announced, WarnerMedia has media properties including HBO, which offers its own stand-alone streaming service that carries popular shows like "Westworld" and" Game of Thrones." Other properties include Warner Bros. movie studio, D.C. Comics and Turner Broadcasting.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018
Steve McQueen's thriller "Widows" opens London Film Festival
A scene from Steve McQueen's "Widows" (courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox)

The London Film Festival is kicking off Wednesday with the European premiere of British director Steve McQueen's whip-smart heist thriller "Widows."

The film stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki as women who band together after their husbands are killed in a robbery gone wrong. The Chicago-set movie by the Academy Award-winning, London-born director of "12 Years a Slave" weaves insights about race, money and class in America into a twisting thriller plot.

The 62nd London festival includes the event's biggest-ever batch of films by women. Organizers say 38 percent of all films and 30 percent of the 225 features in the lineup have female directors, an increase on 24 percent of features in 2017.

Films directed by women include Sudabeh Mortezai's sex-trafficking drama "Joy"; Karyn Kusama's police thriller "Destroyer" starring Nicole Kidman; and Sara Colangelo's drama "The Kindergarten Teacher" with Maggie Gyllenhaal.

The schedule also includes David Mackenzie's kilts-and-carnage Scottish epic "Outlaw King"; Joel and Ethan Coen's Western anthology film "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs"; Alfonso Cuaron's Mexico-set "Roma"; Mike Leigh's historical epic "Peterloo"; and Peter Jackson's documentary "They Shall Not Grow Old," which transforms grainy footage from World War I into color.

Prince William is due to attend the premiere of Jackson's film on Tuesday, weeks before the centenary of the end of the 1914-18 war in which 20 million people died.

The "Lord of the Rings" director restored film from the Imperial War Museum using cutting-edge digital technology and hand coloring, pairing it with archive audio recollections from veterans of the conflict.

Jackson said the process revealed new details and brought out the humanity of the soldiers.

"They suddenly are human beings just like we are," he told The Associated Press.  "You can see the jokers and the serious ones and the worrying guys and you know, all the different sort of personality types that you encounter today — they were all there and you could see it on their faces."

The festival closes Oct. 21 with John S. Baird's Laurel and Hardy biopic "Stan & Ollie."

Hilary Fox contributed to this story.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018
Gunn, fired from "Guardians," to write new "Suicide Squad"
In this Nov. 11, 2017 file photo, director James Gunn arrives at the 9th annual Governors Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

James Gunn may have been fired from Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy," but DC Comics will welcome him with open arms.

Warner Bros. on Tuesday confirmed that Gunn will write the script to the studio's next installment of "Suicide Squad," the DC supervillain team-up franchise. In July, Disney fired Gunn after jokes involving rape and pedophilia he wrote years earlier on Twitter resurfaced.

The creative force between the two hugely popular "Guardians" films, Gunn's firing prompted its own backlash. The cast issued a statement of support for their writer-director, imploring Disney to reinstate him.

But instead, Gunn will take over "Suicide Squad," the franchise led by Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto. The first film, written and directed by David Ayer, earned $747 million in 2016 but drew withering reviews. Gunn is expected to take an entirely new approach, and potentially direct the new "Suicide Squad" installment.

Gunn's tweets, largely from 2009-2012, received renewed attention after Gunn's criticism of President Donald Trump prompted far-right propagandists Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec to comb through Gunn's social media history. Gunn apologized.

"My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative," said Gunn. "I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don't reflect the person I am today or have been for some time."

The "Suicide Squad" job is the first Gunn has taken since departing "Guardians," for which he had been expected to make a third film.

Gunn gives Warner Bros. and DC Comics one of the most fan boy-approved voices in comic book films at a time when Warner Bros. is remaking much of its superhero operations. Gunn's witty, irreverent sensibility turned Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" from little-known minor characters into one Disney's most acclaimed and bankable franchises. The first "Guardians" grossed $773 million and the sequel grossed $863 million.

  • Monday, Oct. 8, 2018
Arnold Kopelson, "Platoon" producer, dies at 83
In this Monday, March 31, 1987 file photo, Claire Simpson, center, is flanked by Arnold Kopelson, left, and Oliver Stone as the threesome meets backstage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles after receiving Oscars, for best editing (Simpson), best direction (Stone) and best picture (Kopelson) for the film, "Platoon." (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File)

Arnold Kopelson, a versatile film producer whose credits ranged from the raunchy teen smash "Porky's" to the Holocaust drama "Triumph of the Spirit" to the Oscar-winning "Platoon," died Monday. He was 83.

Family spokesman Jeff Sanderson told The Associated Press that Kopelson died of natural causes at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He is survived by his wife and business partner, Anne Kopelson, and by three children.

On Twitter, fellow director William Friedkin mourned his passing, and Joan Collins posted a picture of her with Kopelson and called him "a great friend, a brilliant producer and a fabulous dinner companion."

A New York City native and graduate of New York Law School, Kopelson broke into show business as an entertainment and banking attorney and began producing films in the late 1970s. A notable and very profitable project was "Porky's," the low-budget and lowbrow comedy made in Canada after Hollywood shunned it that went on to make more than $100 million.

Kopelson would eventually aim higher. Director-screenwriter Oliver Stone had tried for years to get financing for "Platoon," the Vietnam War drama based on his own time in the military. A 1984 deal with producer Dino De Laurentiis fell through and led to legal action.

Kopelson stepped in, and Stone was able to make "Platoon" after a tumultuous production in the Philippines in early 1986, during the time the country's longtime president, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was being forced out of power.

"Platoon," which starred Willem Defoe and Tom Berenger, came out in December 1986 and has been cited as the first major feature film about Vietnam directed by a veteran of the war. The film was a box office success and won four Academy Awards, including one for Kopelson for best picture.

Kopelson went on to produce other films, including the cult favorite "Seven"; "Triumph of the Spirit," which starred Defoe as a boxer imprisoned in Auschwitz; "The Fugitive," a best picture nominee in 1994; and "A Perfect Murder."

In recent years, Kopelson served on the CBS board of directors and was in the news this past summer when a video he shot of media mogul Sumner Redstone became part of a lawsuit involving CBS and whether the 95-year-old Redstone was still able to make decisions.

  • Monday, Oct. 8, 2018
Former Trump aide Hope Hicks to work at Fox company
In this Feb. 27, 2018 photo, White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, one of President Trump's closest aides and advisers, arrives to meet behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

President Trump's former communications chief Hope Hicks is taking on a similar role at the new Fox company, meaning she'll supervise messaging at her former boss' favorite television network.

The new company, being created by the shedding of many of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets to the Walt Disney Co., will include Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcasting network, several local Fox stations and Fox Sports.

Hicks' hiring was announced Monday by Viet Dinh, chief legal and policy officer. Hicks, who left the White House on March 29, will be based in Los Angeles.

Hicks had a mostly behind-the-scenes role at the White House. But she was one of the president's most trusted aides, and had worked for him at his real estate company before Trump was elected president.

It's not immediately clear how much of a role Hicks, 29, will have at the New York-based Fox News, where communications has been run for several years by Irena Briganti. It seems to deepen the relationship between Fox News and the White House, where former Fox News executive Bill Shine is the communications director.

Trump gives the bulk of his television interviews to Fox News.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that Fox won't find anyone smarter or more talented than Hicks. "So happy for my friend," she tweeted. "They are beyond lucky to have you."

Dinh also announced the hiring of Danny O'Brien from General Electric as head of government affairs for the new company. O'Brien is a longtime Washington hand who was staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chief of staff to three senators.

The new company is expected to get an official name and begin operations early next year.

Julie Henderson and Nathaniel Brown, the communications team at 21st Century Fox, aren't moving to the new company.

  • Monday, Oct. 8, 2018
First woman Doctor Who wants to be a role model to all
In this July 21, 2018 file photo, Jodie Whittaker attends the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con Celebration in San Diego. Whittaker stars in the latest season of "Doctor Who," which premiered on Sunday, Oct. 7. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Jodie Whittaker calls being cast as the first woman to portray Doctor Who "a step in the right direction" when it comes to gender equality in Hollywood, but doesn't feel that she's broken a glass ceiling because there's more work to be done.

Moments before the latest season of "Doctor Who" debuted in a global-wide telecast on Sunday, Whittaker was at New York Comic Con with showrunner Chris Chibnall, and Executive Producer Matt Strevens talking about the new season and the historical casting decision.

"Do I think the glass ceiling is broken? No. Do I think that this is a positive step in the direction of equality in the representation on film? Yeah. But it's not broken," Whittaker said.

The long-running television series chronicles the adventures of an extraterrestrial time lord who travels to different time periods to help people, without doing anything drastic that may alter the course of history.

Whittaker became the 13th to play the eponymous character, and explains why she hopes to be a role model for everyone, regardless of gender.

"When I was growing up, there was never a question that as a girl you would look up to guys. That's what you did. Whereas there's a slight mythology in the sense if you're a girl, you're a hero for a girl, which is not the case," she said. "And so, I think the wonderful thing about this is being a role model for anyone, which the Doctor has always been regardless of gender."

While Whittaker was honored to get the role, she noted that the casting announcement seemed like a bigger deal than it was because "gender becomes immediately irrelevant within the show because the Doctor is the Doctor."

The actress calls herself a "New Whovian" that began watching the show after she got the role. What she learned from her binge watching was "how inclusive it is."

On the floor of Comic Con, fans spoke positively about this Doctor.

Twelve-year old Danielle Nickelson, dressed as Harley Quinn, was glad to see a woman in the role. "I like that they made it a woman, because usually nowadays shows don't really have girls in them. It's more like boys, like Spider-Man," Nickelson said.

And in-between practicing moves from her favorite video game, "Street Fighter," longtime fan Lia Vanderlinden had her own take on accepting the new Doctor.

"Essentially, every new Doctor is like getting a stepdad. Originally, you're like, 'You're not my dad, I don't like you.' And after a while you go, 'You're pretty great, too.'" We can share time."

She added: "It should be interesting."

  • Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018
Ray Galton, writer of classic British sitcoms, dies at 88
In this May 9, 2014 file photo, Ray Galton, left, and Alan Simpson stand in front of an English Heritage blue plaque, at the unveiling, outside 20 Queen's Gate Place, London. (Justin Tallis/PA via AP, File)

Screenwriter Ray Galton, who co-wrote the landmark British comedy series "Hancock's Half Hour" and "Steptoe and Son," has died at 88.

Galton's family said Saturday that he died Friday evening after a "long and heart-breaking battle with dementia."

The London-born Galton was diagnosed with life-threatening tuberculosis as a teenager. In a sanatorium, he met another sick teen, Alan Simpson, and the pair became long-term writing partners.

Manager Tessa Le Bars called them "the fathers and creators of British sitcom."

Galton and Simpson wrote "Hancock's Half Hour" for popular post-war comedian Tony Hancock. Their biggest hit was "Steptoe and Son," a sitcom about father-and-son junk dealers, which ran between 1962 and 1974. Producer Norman Lear adapted it into the U.S. sitcom "Sanford and Son."

Simpson died last year at 87.

  • Friday, Oct. 5, 2018
CBS hires firm to advise on $20m for #MeToo groups
This May 10, 2017, file photo, shows the CBS logo at their broadcast center in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

CBS has hired the consulting firm Rally to help disperse $20 million to groups dedicated to supporting #MeToo and promoting workplace safety and equality for women. The announcement comes less than a month after the company parted ways with longtime CEO Les Moonves after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

CBS expects to announce the recipients of the funds by Dec. 14.

CBS announced the donation early last month, shortly after The New Yorker magazine published allegations against Moonves that prompted his departure from the media giant.

Those seeking funding through the money that has been set aside by CBS can email

  • Friday, Oct. 5, 2018
Denzel Washington named recipient of AFI Life Achievement Award
This Nov. 20, 2017 photo shows actor Denzel Washington posing for a portrait in New York to promote his latest film, "Roman J. Israel, Esq." (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

Denzel Washington will receive the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award at a gala tribute on Thursday, June 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. The AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute special will return for its seventh year with Turner Broadcasting to air on TNT, followed by encore presentations on sister network Turner Classic Movies (TCM). 

“Denzel Washington is an American icon,” said Sir Howard Stringer, chair, AFI Board of Trustees. “As an actor, he stands tall as a heroic, stoic embodiment of the best in all of us, and he does so with heart, humanity and one of the brightest smiles to ever light up the screen. Equally formidable as director and producer, he is a creative force to be reckoned with--and one of the most vital, relevant artists working today.”

Actor, director and producer Washington is an iconic leading man whose career spans five decades--an esteemed repertoire ranging from screen to stage, in works defined by his towering presence as heroic everymen, troubling antiheroes and real-life figures with complicated, often controversial histories. His cinematic legacy includes powerhouse, Academy Award®-winning performances in Glory (1989) and Training Day (2001), as well as celebrated roles in Cry Freedom (1987), Malcolm X (1992), The Hurricane (1999), Flight (2012) and Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017), earning additional nominations for each. Washington has crafted compelling, unforgettable characters in recurring collaborations with master directors past and present, bringing stalwart grit and nuanced complexity to films essential to the American canon, such as Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia (1993), Spike Lee’s Inside Man (2006) and Ridley Scott’s American Gangster (2007)--and to blockbuster, crowd-pleasing fare such as Edward Zwick’s (AFI Class of 1975) Crimson Tide (1995), Tony Scott’s Man On Fire (2004) and Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven (2016). A creative force behind the camera as well, Washington has helmed critically acclaimed films, including Antwone Fisher (2002) and The Great Debaters (2007), in which he also stars. He won a 2010 Tony® for his performance in the play “Fences,” and directed, produced and starred in the 2016 film adaptation that earned him Best Actor and Best Picture Oscar® nominations, as well as AFI Awards recognition.

The son of a Pentecostal minister and a beauty parlor owner, Denzel Washington was born in Mount Vernon, NY, on December 28, 1954. His parents’ professions shaped Washington’s ambition to begin acting, with their natural inclination toward storytelling and oration. After graduating from Fordham University with a BA in Journalism, Washington won a scholarship to the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) in San Francisco, CA. Soon after leaving ACT, he appeared in off-Broadway productions and television movies before being cast in a starring role in the hit television series St. Elsewhere.

Washington’s filmography also includes Mo’ Better Blues (1990), Mississippi Masala (1991), The Pelican Brief (1993), Courage Under Fire (1996), The Mancurian Candidate (2004), The Equalizer (2014) and The Equalizer 2 (2018).

He is married to actor Pauletta Washington, with whom he has four children: John David Washington, Olivia Washington, Katia Washington and Malcolm Washington, who is an alumnus of the AFI Conservatory, Class of 2016.

Here’s a rundown of past AFI Life Achievement Award recipients

  • 1973   John Ford
  • 1974   James Cagney
  • 1975   Orson Welles
  • 1976   William Wyler
  • 1977   Bette Davis
  • 1978   Henry Fonda
  • 1979   Alfred Hitchcock
  • 1980   James Stewart
  • 1981   Fred Astaire
  • 1982   Frank Capra
  • 1983   John Huston
  • 1984   Lillian Gish
  • 1985   Gene Kelly
  • 1986   Billy Wilder
  • 1987   Barbara Stanwyck
  • 1988   Jack Lemmon
  • 1989   Gregory Peck
  • 1990   David Lean
  • 1991   Kirk Douglas
  • 1992   Sidney Poitier
  • 1993   Elizabeth Taylor
  • 1994   Jack Nicholson
  • 1995   Steven Spielberg
  • 1996   Clint Eastwood
  • 1997   Martin Scorsese
  • 1998   Robert Wise
  • 1999   Dustin Hoffman
  • 2000   Harrison Ford
  • 2001   Barbra Streisand
  • 2002   Tom Hanks
  • 2003   Robert De Niro
  • 2004   Meryl Streep
  • 2005   George Lucas
  • 2006   Sean Connery
  • 2007   Al Pacino
  • 2008   Warren Beatty
  • 2009   Michael Douglas
  • 2010   Mike Nichols
  • 2011   Morgan Freeman
  • 2012   Shirley MacLaine
  • 2013   Mel Brooks
  • 2014   Jane Fonda
  • 2015   Steve Martin
  • 2016   John Williams
  • 2017   Diane Keaton
  • 2018   George Clooney

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