Friday, April 20, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 11 - 20 of 2961
  • Monday, Apr. 16, 2018
Union Entertainment Group's "Arctic" and "Home Shopper" to screen at Cannes Film Festival
A scene from "Arctic" starring Mads Mikkelsen

Union Entertainment Group will have two films screening at this year’s Festival de Cannes: Arctic, the feature film directed by Joe Pena and starring Mads Mikkelsen, will be part of the Midnight Screening section, while Home Shopper, a short directed by Oscar nominee Dev Patel and starring Sophie Kargman, Thomas Sadoski and Armie Hammer--which was nominated for the Grand Jury Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival--will be included in the Cannes Festival Corner.

Arctic was produced by Noah C Haeussner of Union Entertainment Group, Chris Lemole and Tim Zajaros of Armory Films, and executive produced by Martha De Laurentiis, who last worked with Mikkelsen on the Hannibal TV series, and Union partner/editor Einar Thorsteinsson. The story surrounds a man (Mikkelsen) stranded in the Arctic, who is finally about to receive his long awaited rescue. However, after a tragic accident, his opportunity is lost and he must then decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his camp or embark on a deadly trek through the unknown for potential salvation.   

Directed by Patel and written by Ryan Farhoudi, Home Shopper follows a woman (Kargman) in a loveless marriage, who finds solace in the hypnotic escape of the home shopping channel. When things take an unexpected turn with her husband (Sadoski), the channel proves to be her saving grace...or was it the problem all along? The film was co-produced by Union Entertainment Group. UEG’s head of production Haeussner and its president, Michael Raimondi, are co-producers on the film, for which Union Editorial handled postproduction. Home Shopper was edited by Nicholas Wayman-Harris and mixed by Milos Zivkovic, with color by Carolyn Woods. The post supervisor was Logan Aries. 

UEG’s next two films will delve into the heart of Ireland, tackling complex true stories set within a unique time period in that country’s history.

The Festival de Cannes runs May 8-18, 2018.

  • Sunday, Apr. 15, 2018
"Full Metal Jacket" actor R. Lee Ermey dies at 74
In this June 15, 2014, file photo, actor and former Marine Corps drill instructor R. Lee Ermey meets with fans during an appearance at the new Field & Stream store in Millcreek Township, west of Erie, Pa. (Jack Hanrahan/Erie Times-News via AP, File)

R. Lee Ermey, a former Marine who made a career in Hollywood playing hard-nosed military men like Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket," has died.

Ermey's longtime manager Bill Rogin says he died Sunday morning from pneumonia-related complications. He was 74.

The Kanas native was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his memorable performance in "Full Metal Jacket," in which he immortalized lines such as: "What is your major malfunction?"

His co-stars Matthew Modine and Vincent D'Onofrio tweeted their condolences Sunday evening.

"#SemperFidelis Always faithful. Always loyal. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light," Modine wrote, quoting the Dylan Thomas poem. "RIP amigo. PVT. Joker."

Vincent D'Onofrio added: "Ermey was the real deal. The knowledge of him passing brings back wonderful memories of our time together."

Born Ronald Lee Ermey in 1944, Ermey served 11 years in the Marine Corps and spent 14 months in Vietnam and then in Okinawa, Japan, where he became staff sergeant. His first film credit was as a helicopter pilot in Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now," which was quickly followed by a part in "The Boys in Company C" as a drill instructor.

He raked in more than 60 credits in film and television across his long career in the industry, often playing authority figures in everything from "Se7en" to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake.

The part he would become most well-known for, in "Full Metal Jacket," wasn't even originally his. Ermey had been brought on as a technical consultant for the 1987 film, but he had his eyes on the role of the brutal gunnery sergeant and filmed his own audition tape of him yelling out insults while tennis balls flew at him. An impressed Kubrick gave him the role.

Kubrick told Rolling Stone that 50 percent of Ermey's dialogue in the film was his own.

"In the course of hiring the marine recruits, we interviewed hundreds of guys. We lined them all up and did an improvisation of the first meeting with the drill instructor. They didn't know what he was going to say, and we could see how they reacted. Lee came up with, I don't know, 150 pages of insults," Kubrick said.

According to Kubrick, Ermey also had a terrible car accident one night in the middle of production and was out for four and half months with broken ribs.

Ermey would also go on to voice the little green army man Sarge in the "Toy Story" films. He also played track and field coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman in "Prefontaine," General Kramer in "Toy Soldiers" and Mayor Tilman in "Mississippi Burning."

Ermey also hosted the History Channel series "Mail Call" and "Lock N' Load with R. Lee Ermey" and was a board member for the National Rifle Association, as well as a spokesman for Glock.

"He will be greatly missed by all of us," Rogin said. "It is a terrible loss that nobody was prepared for."

Rogin says that while his characters were often hard and principled, the real Ermey was a family man and a kind and gentle soul who supported the men and women who serve.

  • Friday, Apr. 13, 2018
"This Is Us," "Master of None" receive GLAAD Media Awards
Denis O'Hare accepts the award for outstanding drama series for "This Is us" at the 29th annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Thursday, April 12, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"This Is Us" has been named outstanding television drama at the GLAAD Media Awards at a ceremony that also honored Britney Spears.

The 29th annual ceremony held Thursday at the Beverly Hilton also recognized "Master of None" for an episode in which Lena Waithe's character comes out to her family.

Halle Berry presented Waithe with the honor, and the actresses embraced onstage before Waithe delivered her acceptance speech.

Spears received the group's Vanguard Award, which was presented by Ricky Martin.

The Chilean film "A Fantastic Woman" won for outstanding limited release film.

The GLAAD Media Awards bestows awards for projects that provide "fair, accurate and multi-dimensional" depictions of LGBTQ characters. Its awards are split between two ceremonies. Several additional awards will be presented in New York on May 5.

  • Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018
Women in the World Summit: Weinstein accusers speak out
Italian actress and director Asia Argento, left, Laura Boldrini, center, and model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, right, speak at the ninth annual Women in the World Summit Thursday, April 12, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

An Italian actress who was one of the first women to speak out against disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein said Thursday that the #MeToo movement is "the most important thing" to happen to women since the right to vote.

Asia Argento spoke at the opening panel of the Women in the World summit in New York City. She was joined by Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, an Italian model who has accused Weinstein of groping her, and Laura Boldrini, a member of Italy's parliament who is an outspoken advocate for women's rights.

The panel was moderated by Ronan Farrow, who wrote the New Yorker magazine article in which Argento and others spoke out.

The three women talked about backlash they have faced since coming forward, particularly in their home country of Italy. Battilana Gutierrez did not discuss Weinstein with Farrow, saying she could not because of legal issues. Instead, she talked about earlier experiences she had as a teenager in Italy after speaking out against former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for sexual improprieties. Bodroni discussed threats she has received, including a bullet in the mail, while Argento talked about an essay she wrote discussing the insults and slurs she has endured.

Still, Argento said, "that's why we need to keep this conversation going."

"If we stop this conversation then we're really doomed," she said. "It's the one chance I've had in my lifetime to advance the whole human species because the betterment of the position of women in society is the betterment of all society."

Argento accused Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her when she was 21.

Battilana Gutierrez has said she was groped by him during a 2015 meeting in Manhattan. Police conducted a sting, with the model secretly recording Weinstein apologizing for this conduct, but the prosecutor ultimately decided there was not enough proof and did not bring a case.

Weinstein has denied non-consensual sex allegations.

  • Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018
SAG-AFTRA says meetings in hotel rooms, homes should end
In this Jan. 21, 2018 file photo, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris speaks at the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP, FIle)

The Screen Actors Guild on Thursday called for an end to auditions and professional meetings in private hotel rooms and residences in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

SAG-AFTRA issued new guidelines that expand the guild's code of conduct in an effort to curtail sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. SAG is asking producers and executives to refrain from holding professional meetings in hotel rooms and homes, and is urging its members not to agree to meetings in such "high-risk locations."

The announcement is the part of the union's initiative to improve workplace safety following the many accusations made against Weinstein. The now disgraced movie mogul is alleged by dozens of actresses to have used business meetings in private locations to make unwanted sexual advances.

"We are committed to addressing the scenario that has allowed predators to exploit performers behind closed doors under the guise of a professional meeting," said Gabrielle Carteris, president of SAG-AFTRA.

If no reasonable location is found, the union suggests members bring a "support peer" to meetings. SAG also said its members, when acting as a producer or decision maker, should adhere to the guideline.

SAG-AFTRA represents some 160,000 actors and other entertainment and media professionals.

  • Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018
Martin Scorsese to direct Netflix special about sketch comedy show “SCTV”
This undated image released by Netflix shows director Martin Scorsese, center, with the cast of the Canadian sketch comedy show “SCTV,” from left, Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Dave Thomas, Martin Short and Joe Flaherty (photo by Cara Howe/courtesy of Netflix).

Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter Martin Scorsese will direct an untitled Netflix original comedy special exploring the enduring legacy of Emmy-winning sketch comedy show SCTV

Scorsese will reunite comedy legends and former SCTV co-stars Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short and Dave Thomas in front of a live audience for "An Afternoon with SCTV," moderated by Jimmy Kimmel. To be held at Toronto’s historic Elgin Theatre on Sunday, May 13 at 3 p.m., the filming will be part of the Netflix special, produced by longtime SCTV producer Andrew Alexander of Second City, Emma Tillinger Koskoff of Sikelia Productions and Lindsay Cox of Insight Productions.

Canadian classic SCTV aired for six seasons between 1976 and 1984, quickly becoming one of pop culture’s touchstone comedies. The series’ stars include some of the most beloved and celebrated names in laughter, including the late John Candy and Harold Ramis. 

  • Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018
Mariska Hargitay takes her advocacy for abuse victims to HBO
In this May 27, 2017 file photo, actress Mariska Hargitay attends the Hamptons Magazine Memorial Day Soiree in Southampton, N.Y. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File)

Portraying a heroic sex crimes detective on television has provided Mariska Hargitay with a platform to help sexual assault victims in real life.

Hargitay, who stars as Detective Olivia Benson in the police procedural "Law and Order: SVU," has turned her clout as an advocate for victims into the upcoming HBO documentary, "I Am Evidence," where she also serves as producer.

"I feel like I was given a gift with this role. I was given a platform. It was a way for me to respond. I've had the privilege of having had so many survivors share their stories with me, and I feel a responsibility to that," Hargitay said.

She admits backing the documentary was driven by her "own outrage" of the way victims of sexual assault are treated by the system. "People say, 'why did you make this movie?' I said because I was really mad," Hargitay said.

The film, which premieres Monday on HBO, focuses on four survivors whose rape kits went untested for years. Part of the problem is that many states have no legislation that demands testing within a reasonable period. As a result, hundreds of thousands of kits are backlogged, with many never tested.

"I just couldn't comprehend that in this country this was going on. That they were stockpiling rape kits," Hargitay said.

The documentary also examines the victim blaming that some rape survivors encounter from law enforcement officers who aren't properly trained.

Hargitay started the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004 as a means to help victims of sexual assault heal from their emotional trauma.

She said sexual assault survivors have reached out to her through letters and emails. Over time, she realized that Benson serves as a role model for their unheard voices, and want to make sure they are heard.

While the film deals with how rape victims are treated, Hargitay envisions a world where sexual assault never happens again. Hargitay feels fixing these problems are more basic than we realize.

"Compassion and empathy would heal so much, and it's so simple. Women have carried this burden for so long, and it's men that need to engage," Hargitay said. "Everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten."


  • Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018
Cenac's HBO comedy series aims to inform as well as entertain
In this July 31, 2016 file photo, Wyatt Cenac participates in the "People on Earth" panel during the Turner Networks TV Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. Cenac's "Problem Areas" is a new entry into late-night television, and the former "Daily Show" contributor takes inspiration from John Oliver in his desire to inform along with being entertaining. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

Wyatt Cenac, the latest entrant in late-night television comedy with a series that debuts Friday on HBO, took inspiration from John Oliver in his desire to inform along with being entertaining.

Cenac's "Problem Areas" is described as a comedy "docu-series," and resembles Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" in how each episode has a central story approached with journalistic rigor, and quicker comedic bits. Oliver is an executive producer and the show's backstage is populated with people who worked with him and also at their shared alma mater, "The Daily Show."

That's where the similarities end. Cenac's more laid-back style replaces Oliver's hyperactivity. "Problem Areas" has no studio audience, and in each episode, Cenac travels somewhere different in the country to explore aspects of the main story. His entire 10-episode season concentrates on different facets of one story, in this case policing and how it affects different communities.

The show will air Fridays at 11:30 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times.

Oliver's success "definitely gave me a lot of confidence that there could be an appetite for a show like mine," Cenac said. "I looked at his show for inspiration in that way."

Podcasts like "Serial" also convinced Cenac that some people are interested in stories told in depth, spread over several episodes.

With its creative graphics and a cool vibe, "Problem Areas" establishes right away that viewers have landed in a different spot than other late-night comedy shows.

Cenac also makes that clear. He looks into the camera early in the opening episode and says that it's probably the point at which he's supposed to talk about Donald Trump and all the trouble everyone's in. "But you already knew that," he says.

"It was less about thinking about making something original and more about thinking about building something for my skill set, and what I feel my strengths as a performer and storyteller are," he said.

Like many black men and women, Cenac has his own uncomfortable experiences being pulled over by the police. Besides looking into some well-known cases where police actions were questioned, the show also looks into how police officers are trained and interact with certain communities.

"I come in with the curiosity of a concerned citizen," Cenac said. "I live in this country, too. It's not enough for me to simply demand better on social media, or go to a march when there's a march and have a sign," he said. "The one thing that I have, that I've been given, is a platform. And if I can use that platform to ask the questions that I'm generally asking in life, and I can find a way to do it that's entertaining, I feel like it's a win-win."

Cenac felt more comfortable doing away with a studio audience, figuring its central value to a show is telling a television audience when to laugh.

"If I take that out of the equation, I can take the story directly to the viewer, and the audience can decide how to feel," he said.

In working hard to complete the episodes for his first season, Cenac said he hasn't thought about how "Problem Areas" would continue in future seasons, whether it would again concentrate on one main story.

He conceded he hadn't looked carefully enough in his contract for what it says about continuing past one season — perhaps falling prey to a pitfall that has afflicted performers for ages.

"That's certainly something about the business," he said. "You're hungry enough and you say, sure, and the next thing you know, you're starring in 'Beverly Hills Cop 17.'"

  • Wednesday, Apr. 11, 2018
Autism Society's AutFest to honor Sony Pictures Television
Jeff Frost (l) and Chris Parnell of Sony Pictures Television

Sony Pictures Television Studios will receive the Visionary Award at the 2nd Annual AutFest International Film Festival presented by The Autism Society at a VIP Reception on Sunday, April 29 at 7:30pm at the Writers Guild of America Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif. Honorees include Jeff Frost, president of Sony Pictures Television Studios (SPT), and co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television Chris Parnell and Jason Clodfelter. The announcement was made by Matthew Asner, VP of Development for The Autism Society. AutFest is sponsored by Hyundai Motor America and SAG-AFTRA.

Said Scott Badesch, president of Autism Society of America: “To think that one studio can represent almost one full day of programming (Atypical, The Good Doctor and Roman J. Israel ESQ) at AutFest Film Festival is almost unthinkable. Obviously, Sony Pictures understands that autism is a part of all of our lives and we are very proud to honor them with our Visionary Award at this year’s AutFest. Each of these Sony Pictures programs and features are bold statements that tell stories of many special lives on the autism spectrum.”

“We are incredibly honored to be represented in the festival and to receive the Visionary Award on behalf of Sony.” said Frost.

Elevated to lead the studio this year, Frost, Parnell and Clodfelter oversee all U.S. production and programming, including the current shows The Good Doctor, Atypical, SWAT, One Day at a Time, The Blacklist, The Goldbergs, Outlander and Sneaky Pete. Frost was formerly EVP, U.S. business affairs for SPT and joined the company in 2008, coming from ABC Studios, where he was SVP business affairs.  Both Parnell and Clodfelter were formerly EVPs of drama development and programming at SPT. They guided the development of scripted programming for drama series, working with writers and producers on projects for broadcast, cable and streaming outlets.

Past AutFest honorees include Ben Affleck (The Accountant) and Pixar’s Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera (Inside Out). Celebrating autism awareness “from spectrum to screen,” AutFest Film Festival is now in its second year. Its mission is to further advance the well-being of all with an autism diagnosis, as well as to educate the nation about autism and the important need to fully respect and value each person with autism. AutFest celebrates films and television programs that promote autism awareness and support autistic filmmakers and artists that have chosen film as their profession.

A number of additional special awards will be handed out at a special ceremony at the conclusion of AutFest on Sunday, April 29, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Documentary, Best Actor, Best Actress as well as an Audience Award. 

AutFest Honorary Committee Members include seven-time Emmy® winner and autism advocate Ed Asner, actress Kristen Bell (House of Lies), actor Dax Shepard (CHIPS), Emmy-winning actress comedian Sarah Silverman, Golden Globe®-nominated actor Matthew Modine (Stranger Things), Emmy-nominated actor Gary Cole (Veep), Autism Speaks co-founder Bob Wright, The Suzanne Wright Foundation president Liz Feld, Warner Bros. president and CCO Peter Roth and Autism Society’s VP of development Matthew Asner.

  • Monday, Apr. 9, 2018
Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman" to open in August
In this July 18, 2017 file photo, filmmaker Spike Lee attends the premiere of "Dunkirk" in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman" will open in theaters on the one-year anniversary of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalists marched and a counterprotester was killed.

Focus Features on Monday announced that Lee's newly retitled drama will be released Aug. 10. The film is about the real-life story of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer in Colorado who went undercover in 1978 to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. John David Washington plays Stallworth in the film and Adam Driver plays his partner, Flip Zimmerman.

Among the film's producers are "Get Out" director Jordan Peele and "Get Out" producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions.