Saturday, November 18, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 11 - 20 of 2719
  • Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017
Spike Lee discusses racism at Charlottesville film festival
In this July 18, 2017 file photo, filmmaker Spike Lee attends the premiere of "Dunkirk" in New York. Lee spoke about racial issues and the country's divisive history Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Director Spike Lee asked the audience at the Virginia Film Festival to observe a moment of silence to remember the Charlottesville woman killed after a car plowed through a group of protesters during a white nationalist rally on Aug. 12.

The Academy Award-winning director spoke about racial issues and the country's divisive history Saturday at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville.

Lee presented his documentary "I Can't Breathe," about Eric Garner's 2014 death in police custody. He also showed his 1992 documentary, "4 Little Girls," which chronicles the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four black girls and helped spark the civil rights movement.

Lee said in order to move forward, Americans need to accept that the United States "was built upon the genocide of Native Americans and slavery."

  • Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017
Lifetime to premiere movie on Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping
This image released by Lifetime shows Alana Boden, left, with Elizabeth Smart on the set of "I Am Elizabeth Smart," premiering Saturday, Nov. 18 at 8pm ET/PT on Lifetime. (Sergei Bachlakov/Lifetime via AP)

Kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart is pleased with how a Lifetime movie and documentary she helped produce about her harrowing ordeal turned out. But she said her visit to the movie set brought back terrible memories when she saw actor Skeet Ulrich looking so similar to the man who abducted her.

The upcoming film titled "I Am Elizabeth Smart" follows the nine months after Smart, then 14, was kidnapped by Brian Mitchell from her bedroom in her Salt Lake City home in 2002 and was raped daily by her captor, the Deseret News reported .

Police finally found her in Sandy with the help of two couples who recognized Mitchell from media reports as a suspect in Smart's kidnapping.

Mitchell was convicted and is serving a life sentence for the crime.

The movie features newcomer Alana Boden as Smart, Deirdre Lovejoy — who portrays Mitchell's estranged wife Wanda Barzee, who aided in the kidnapping — and Ulrich as Mitchell.

Smart was on the set for part of the filming, narrated the movie and gave feedback to executive producers Joseph Freed and Allison Berkley.

She especially wanted to help them find a balance between keeping the integrity of her gruesome experience and not being too graphic.

"Certainly a lot of very bad things happen, and I thought, 'How could you possibly show that without it either coming off as dark and terrible and give you nightmares at night,' or sugar-coating everything and making it seem like, 'Oh, this terrible thing happened but it really wasn't that bad, and then a miracle happened?' " she said.

While she enjoyed meeting the actors, Smart said in an interview with Deseret News that she felt uncomfortable when they asked her to take a photo with them.

"It was just this weird experience because I was sitting there like, 'They're lovely people, but I don't know if I should smile because they don't look like lovely people,'" she said. "They look like my worst nightmare."

The movie will premiere Saturday, Nov. 18.

A two-part documentary titled "Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography," in which Smart shares more details about the horrific situation she survived, her rescue and what her life is like now, will be premiered on A&E Nov. 12-13.

  • Friday, Nov. 10, 2017
Voice Arts Awards include special honors for Ken Burns, Lily Tomlin
In this Oct. 26, 2016 photo, Lily Tomlin poses for a portrait in Los Angeles. (Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP)

Society of Voice Arts & Sciences (SOVAS™) hosted the 2017 Voice Arts® Awards at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Fredrick P. Rose Hall this past Sunday (11/5). Critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns was in attendance to accept the prestigious Muhammad Ali Voice of Humanity Honor. This special segment of the Awards featured a tribute to Burns by three time Emmy® winner Keith David, who is currently starring in Oprah Winfrey’s hit show “Greenleaf” on OWN. Burns’ attendance was a highly anticipated highlight at this year’s show, where he received a standing ovation. 

“What is so extraordinary about this evening is the name of this award for Muhammad Ali is one of the people who took this world and widened it so that everyone in the world could see, that he spoke his voice even when he no longer had one,” Burns said during his inspiring acceptance. 

“This award was created in collaboration with the Champ himself before his passing and has the full support of the Ali Center. We were truly honored to present this award to the Ken Burns this year,” said Emmy® Award-winning producer and SOVAS™ CEO Rudy Gaskins.

Actress Lily Tomlin also took the stage at this year’s event to accept the Voice Arts® Icon Award. Bob Bergen, also known as the voice of Porky Pig, introduced a video of Tomlin’s lifetime achievement in film and television before she was presented with the Award by SOVAS™ founders, Gaskins and Joan Baker. “I am floored by the caliber of talent and competition tonight,” said Tomlin when she took the stage to accept the award.

Music, and stage superstar Deborah Cox brought glamour to this year’s red carpet. She was on hand as a presenter as were Inside Edition’s sr. correspondent Les Trent, and legendary voiceover star Nancy Cartwright, best known as the voice of Bart Simpson on Fox’s hit show “The Simpsons.”

The 2017 Voice Arts® Awards featured more than 50 winners across multiple media genres. Previous award winners include Jon Hamm, Kate Winslet, James Earl Jones, Lena Dunham, and William Shatner. Good Morning America called the Voice Arts® Awards, “The Oscars of voiceover acting.”

Click here for a list of the 2017 Voice Arts® Awards winners.


  • Friday, Nov. 10, 2017
Rian Johnson to create new "Star Wars" trilogy
In this Jan. 8, 2013 file photo, screenwriter Rian Johnson attends the National Board of Review Awards gala in New York. The Walt Disney Co. has announced that Johnson will create a new trilogy for the “Star Wars” universe, greatly expanding the director’s command over George Lucas’ ever-expanding space saga. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

The Walt Disney Co. announced Thursday that Rian Johnson will craft a new trilogy for the "Star Wars" universe, greatly expanding the director's command over the ever-expanding space saga created by George Lucas.

The announcement, made by Disney chief Bob Iger on a call with investment analysts, constituted the most ambitious new foray into the "Star Wars" galaxy, moving well beyond the original nine-film framework imagined by Lucas. Disney also announced a live-action "Star Wars" series that will debut on its streaming service which is set to launch in 2019.

The new films will be separate from the Skywalker saga. "Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored," Disney said in a statement.

That Johnson will preside over a new "Star Wars" trilogy altogether confirms his status as the franchise's new chief guardian. It's a considerable amount of trust to be placed in the 43-year-old director of 2012's "Looper," even before audiences see his first "Star Wars" installment. J.J. Abrams, who kick-started the dormant franchise with "The Force Awakens," is set to return for the untitled Episode IX — the third film in the current trilogy.

"He's a creative force, and watching him craft 'The Last Jedi' from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career," Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy said of Johnson. "Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy."

Johnson will write and direct the first film in the trilogy, working with his producing partner Ram Bergman.

"We had the time of our lives collaborating with Lucasfilm and Disney on 'The Last Jedi,' " Johnson and Bergman said in a joint statement. "'Star Wars' is the greatest modern mythology and we feel very lucky to have contributed to it. We can't wait to continue with this new series of films."

Iger also revealed that Disney is also planning series for its streaming service based on the 2011 Pixar film "Monsters Inc." and the Disney Channel movie franchise "High School Musical." Iger said he expects the service to be priced "substantially below" Netflix's $10-a-month subscription price.

  • Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017
Christopher Plummer to replace Kevin Spacey in Ridley Scott's Getty film
This combination photo shows Kevin Spacey at the Tony Awards in New York on June 11, 2017, left, and Christopher Plummer during a portrait session in Beverly Hills, Calif. on July 25, 2013. Spacey is getting cut out of Ridley Scott’s finished film “All the Money in the World” and replaced by Christopher Plummer just over one month before it’s supposed to hit theaters. People close to the production who were not authorized to speak publicly say Plummer is commencing reshoots immediately in the role of J. Paul Getty. (AP Photo)

In a wholly unprecedented move, Kevin Spacey is being cut from Ridley Scott's finished film "All the Money in the World" and replaced by Christopher Plummer just over one month before it's supposed to hit theaters.

People close to the production who were not authorized to speak publicly said Wednesday that Plummer is commencing reshoots immediately in the role of J. Paul Getty. All of Spacey's scenes will be reshot, the people told The Associated Press. Co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams are expected to participate.

Scott, who is known to be an efficient director, is intending to keep the film's Dec. 22 release date.

The director's publicist Simon Halls confirmed the switch late Wednesday.

The film was originally set to have its world premiere at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles on Nov. 16 but was pulled earlier this week amid the sexual harassment reports surrounding Spacey, who has also been fired from "House of Cards" and dropped by his talent agency and publicist.

"All the Money in the World" was primed for a plush awards season release from distributor Sony Pictures Entertainment and its advertising campaign, which prominently features Spacey, has been public for about a month already. But its plans have been in question since Spacey's reputation has diminished over the past week with harassment allegations growing daily.

The film chronicles the events surrounding the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and his mother's attempt to convince J. Paul Getty, his billionaire grandfather, to pay the ransom.

The 87-year-old Plummer was reportedly Scott's first choice for the role of J. Paul Getty, but the director was pressured into casting a bigger name. Plummer is probably best known for "The Sound of Music." He won his first Oscar in 2012 for the film "Beginners."

One of the people close to the production said that Scott's plan caught Sony by surprise, but the studio is supporting the switch.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017
Snap 3Q loss more than triples, stock tumbles after-hours
This Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, photo shows the Snapchat app. Snap Inc. reports earnings, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Snapchat is getting a redesign to make it easier to use. But the new look will not make the latest earnings report from its parent company any prettier for investors.

Shares in Snap Inc. were down more than 16 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday after the company posted yet another quarter of disappointing growth.

Snap Inc. on Tuesday reported a loss of $443.2 million in its third quarter, more than triple its loss a year earlier. The larger loss came with lackluster Snapchat user growth and revenue that was below Wall Street expectations.

The Venice, California-based company said it had a loss of 36 cents per share. Losses, adjusted for stock option expense and non-recurring costs, were 14 cents per share, which was in line with the average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

Snap posted revenue of $207.9 million in the period, up from $128.2 million a year ago. That was well below the average forecast of 10 analysts surveyed by Zacks of $233.1 million.

Snapchat added 4.5 million daily users in the quarter to 178 million, which amounts to a 3 percent growth. The company does not report monthly user figures.

CEO Evan Spiegel said Snapchat needs to grow its user base beyond 13 to 34 year olds in the U.S., France the U.K. and Australia. This, he said in a statement, includes Android users, people older than 34 and what he called "rest of world" markets.

"This means that we will have to make some changes to our product and business," Spiegel said, adding that this includes redesigning Snapchat to make it easier to use.

Snap's stock fell $2.47 to $12.65 in after-hours trading.

Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights ( using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on SNAP at

  • Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017
Twitter doubles character limit to 280 for (nearly) everyone
This Wednesday, April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter app on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. Twitter says it is rolling out a 280-character limit to nearly everyone, ending the iconic 140-character restriction. Users tweeting in Chinese, Japanese and Korean will still have the original limit. That’s because writing in those languages uses fewer characters. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Twitter says it's ending its iconic 140-character limit — and giving nearly everyone 280 characters.

Users tweeting in Chinese, Japanese and Korean will still have the original limit. That's because writing in those languages uses fewer characters.

The company says 9 percent of tweets written in English hit the 140-character limit. People end up spending more time editing tweets or don't send them out at all. Twitter hopes that the expanded limit will get more people tweeting more, helping its lackluster user growth. Twitter has been testing the new limit for weeks and is starting to roll it out Tuesday.

The company has been slowly easing restrictions to let people cram more characters into a tweet. It stopped counting polls, photos, videos and other things toward the limit. Even before it did so, users found creative ways to get around the limit. This includes multi-part tweets and screenshots of blocks of text.

Twitter's character limit was created so that tweets could fit into a single text message, back when many people were using texts to receive tweets. But now, most people use Twitter through its mobile app; the 140-character limit is no longer a technical constraint but nostalgia.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017
Charles Roven to receive David O. Selznick Producers Guild award
In this March 20, 2016 file photo, producer Charles Roven attends the premiere of "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" in New York. Roven will receive the David O. Selznick Achievement Award at the Producers Guild Awards next year. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

"Wonder Woman" producer Charles Roven will receive the David O. Selznick Achievement Award at the Producers Guild Awards next year.

The Producers Guild of America chairs Donald De Line and Amy Pascal said Tuesday that Roven brings a seriousness of craft to every set he runs. The award recognizes a producer's body of work.

Roven's credits include Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy and "American Hustle," for which he received an Oscar nomination.

Roven will be joining the ranks of past David O. Selznick Achievement Award recipients including Billy Wilder, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg.

The award will be presented at the 29th annual Producers Guild Awards on Jan. 20 in Los Angeles.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017
Television Academy expels Harvey Weinstein for life
In this Feb. 9, 2015 file photo, Harvey Weinstein speaks during a press conference for the film "Woman in Gold" at the 2015 Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

The organization that bestows the Emmy Awards has voted to expel Harvey Weinstein in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against the producer.

The Television Academy says its leadership voted Monday to ban the producer for life. Weinstein is primarily known as a film producer but his former company is also responsible for hit television series such as "Project Runway."

The expulsion is the latest honor Weinstein has lost. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and producers guild have also revoked Weinstein's membership.

His representative Sallie Hofmeister did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

The Television Academy says it is also speeding up a review of its code of conduct for members, and wants to provide clear protocols for workplace decency and respect.

  • Monday, Nov. 6, 2017
"Mad Men" creator delivers big with first novel
In this Feb. 6, 2016 file photo, "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner poses at the 68th Directors Guild of America Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Book Review: "Heather, The Totality" (Little, Brown and Co.), by Matthew Weiner

At 134 pages, Matthew Weiner's "Heather, The Totality" is best consumed in one bite like those exquisite pastries that line the cases of the French bakery/cafes on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The kind of people who patronize those tony joints, especially for Sunday brunch and often with their private-schooled kids in tow, take center stage in Weiner's suspenseful debut novel.

Best known as the creator of "Mad Men" and a writer on "The Sopranos," Weiner writes with maximum economy. The book practically reads like a screenplay, down to its eccentric capitalization. Characters are sketched in quickly, with just the right amount of detail to delineate a type.

Mark and Karen Breakstone would appear to be among society's winners. He has a job in finance, earning enough so she can be a Manhattan-style, stay-at-home mom. Although they don't have a child until relatively late in life, when they do, Heather, the namesake of the book, becomes their totality.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Hudson River, Bobby Klasky is growing up with a heroin-addicted mother whose lowlife boyfriends like to wake him up in the middle of the night to use him as "a punching bag or a parlor trick." By the time he's old enough to join a construction crew renovating the Breakstones' apartment building, he's done time for assault and committed far worse crimes.

By then, Heather has matured into a beautiful, idealistic and rebellious teenager; Bobby has become obsessed with her; and mild-mannered Mark senses danger. Needless to say, the two men are headed for a showdown, and the ending, which is shocking, violent and morally ambiguous, comes swiftly.

Describing the inspiration for the book, Weiner wrote, "I walked past this beautiful schoolgirl going into a building under construction, and I saw a man working there stare at her with threatening intensity. I don't have any daughters, but what I wrote down was, 'What if her father saw that?'"

"Heather, The Totality" is his answer. Beyond its chilling portrait of America's social and economic divide, the novel raises a number of thorny questions: whether a "good" man could be a killer. Whether a "bad" man might be transfigured. How everyone, rich and poor alike, is complicit in their fate and trapped in their delusions. And how no one ever gets off scot-free.