Friday, April 20, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 21 - 30 of 2961
  • Monday, Apr. 9, 2018
Apple co-founder protests Facebook by shutting down account
In this July 3, 2017, file photo, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak gestures as he attends a conference titled 'The Innovation Summit' in Milan, Italy. Wozniak is shutting down his Facebook account as the social media giant struggles to cope with the worst privacy crisis in its history. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is shutting down his Facebook account as the social media giant struggles to cope with the worst privacy crisis in its history.

In an email to USA Today, Wozniak says Facebook makes a lot of advertising money from personal details provided by users. He says the "profits are all based on the user's info, but the users get none of the profits back."

Wozniak says he'd rather pay for Facebook. He says "Apple makes money off of good products, not off of you."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday about the company's ongoing data-privacy scandal and how it failed to guard against other abuses of its service.

Facebook has announced technical changes intended to address privacy issues.

  • Monday, Apr. 9, 2018
Prolific voice actor and comedian Chuck McCann dies at 83
In this Sept. 10, 2010, photo, Chuck McCann is pictured at Motorcycle Charity Associates' 4th annual Leather Meets Lace event benefiting Iraq Star Foundation and Heroes Night Out at the Playboy Mansion Los Angeles. Actor and comedian McCann, who recorded the famous line "I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!" has died. He was 83. (Rachel Worth/Lozzi Media Services via AP)

Chuck McCann, the zany comic who hosted a children's television show in the 1960s before branching out as a character actor in films and TV, died Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 83.

McCann died Sunday of congestive heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital, according to his publicist Edward Lozzi.

McCann was born Sept. 2, 1934 in Brooklyn. He became a household name in New York when he took over a variety show, entertaining a generation of children with light-hearted humor and puppets.

In 1968, McCann appeared in his first major film: "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter." He expanded his work into animation acting and created the voice of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, who cried "I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!" in commercials for General Mills.

He moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s and made guest appearances on shows including "Little House on the Prairie," ''Bonanza," and "Columbo."

McCann was a prolific voice actor, lending his voice to characters such as Mayor Grafton on "The Garfield Show," Ducksworth in "DuckTales: Remastered," and Heff Heffalump in Disney's "The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh."

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Fanning, and two daughters.

  • Saturday, Apr. 7, 2018
Jared Harris recalls his deaths on "Mad Men" and "The Crown"
In this Jan. 13, 2018 file photo, Jared Harris participates in the "The Terror" panel during the AMC Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. The series airs on Mondays on AMC. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

Jared Harris says watching his work can be like looking through a yearbook.

"You remember everything that happened while you were doing it," said the actor, who currently appears on AMC's limited series "The Terror."

"The story of the shoot is very much present in your mind as well as the narrative of what you were doing."

Harris says it takes him "maybe a decade" to watch his work "without feeling any kind of connection."

Two of his most recent memorable onscreen moments were when his "Mad Men" character Lane Pryce hanged himself and playing the dying King George VI on Netflix's "The Crown." And, it's not a spoiler alert to say Harris will also meet his demise on "The Terror."He recalls what was really going on while filming the death scenes of the previous two characters:

"On 'Mad Men,' I remember (creator) Matt (Weiner) was always so concerned with anything getting out and where we were in downtown L.A., it was possible that someone could see with a long lens if they wanted to. They had been trying to get pictures of January (Jones) or Christina (Hendricks). It's unlikely that they'd be taking a picture of schmuck Jared Harris but they would if they could see that I had all that strange hanging makeup on me. I had like a little tent around me as I walked from makeup to the soundstage so nobody could see if they were trying to. He was absolutely devoted to the idea that no one would know anything about the story until they watched it. And then, you know, hanging from the door and I remember the reaction the first time that (the actors) saw me hanging from the door. They waited so they didn't see it until then. It was pretty weird. And it wasn't the last thing I shot, by the way. I shot other stuff on 'Mad Men' so it wasn't my last day."

"On 'The Crown,' that was actually a life-sized prosthetic in the bed. And so that wasn't me. (Executive producer) Stephen Daldry toyed with the idea of 'Let's switch you out and stick you in there and scare the hell out of everybody.' Those are funny ideas but when it comes down to it the grind of getting your days— you generally lose the opportunity for practical jokes. You're already behind from the moment you arrive on set."

Set in 1845, the show follows the true story of two ships named Erebus and Terror, sent on an exploration to find the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific to shorten trade routes. They disappeared, creating a maritime mystery that still exists. The TV series begins with that same premise but imagines what would happen if the men encountered the supernatural.

"What attracted me to it was it's not a remake or a reboot or a sequel or a prequel. It's a completely fresh story, said Harris, who plays a captain of one of the ships.

  • Friday, Apr. 6, 2018
Star Wars spinoff "Solo" to premiere at Cannes Film Festival
In this April 24, 2017 file photo, filmmaker Ron Howard arrives at the premiere of "Genius", in Los Angeles. Howard is taking command of the "Star Wars" spinoff “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” The French festival announced Friday, April 6, 2018, that the “Star Wars” spinoff will premiere out of competition at this year’s Cannes shortly before opening in French theaters on May 23. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

"Solo: A Star Wars Story" will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, bringing a galaxy far away to the world's most prestigious film festival.

The French festival announced Friday that the "Star Wars" spinoff will premiere out of competition at this year's festival shortly before opening in French theaters on May 23. "Solo" opens in U.S. theaters on May 25.

This isn't the first time "Star Wars" has come to Cannes. "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" and 2005's "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith" both played at the French Riviera festival.

Cannes earlier this week announced that Asghar Farhadi's "Everybody Knows," starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, will be the opening-night film.

The festival will run May 8-19.

  • Friday, Apr. 6, 2018
Studio Ghibli co-founder, director Isao Takahata dies at 82
In this Feb. 12, 2015 photo, Japanese animated film director Isao Takahata speaks about his film "The Tale of The Princess Kaguya" with its poster during an interview at his office, Studio Ghibli, in suburban Tokyo. Takahata, co-founder of the prestigious Japanese animator Studio Ghibli that stuck to a hand-drawn "manga" look in the face of digital filmmaking, has died. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
TOKYO (AP) -- 

Isao Takahata, co-founder of the prestigious Japanese animator Studio Ghibli that stuck to a hand-drawn "manga" look in the face of digital filmmaking, has died. He was 82.

Takahata started Ghibli with Oscar-winning animator Hayao Miyazaki in 1985, hoping to create Japan's Disney. He directed "Grave of the Fireflies," a tragic tale about wartime childhood, and produced some of the studio's films, including Miyazaki's 1984 "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind," which tells the horror of environmental disaster through a story about a princess.

Takahata died Thursday of lung cancer at a Tokyo hospital, according to a studio statement Friday.

He was fully aware how the floating sumie-brush sketches of faint pastel in his works stood as a stylistic challenge to Hollywood's computer-graphics cartoons.

In a 2015 interview with The Associated Press, Takahata talked about how Edo-era woodblock-print artists like Hokusai had the understanding of Western-style perspective and the use of light, but they purposely chose to depict reality with lines, and in a flat way, with minimal shading.

That, he said, was at the heart of Japanese "manga," or comics.

"It is about the essence that's behind the drawing," he said at Ghibli's picturesque office in suburban Tokyo.

"We want to express reality without an overly realistic depiction, and that's about appealing to the human imagination."

In the interview, Takahata confessed to an almost love-hate relationship with Miyazaki because their works were so different.

He said he tries not to talk about Miyazaki's works because he would have to be honest, and then he would end up getting critical, and he didn't want conflict with an artist he so respected.

His last film, "The Tale of The Princess Kaguya," based on a Japanese folktale, was nominated for a 2015 Oscar for best animation feature, although it did not win.

He is also known for the 1970s Japanese TV series "Heidi, Girl of the Alps," based on the book by Swiss author Johanna Spyri.

A native of Mie Prefecture, Takahata was a graduate of the University of Tokyo and initially worked at Toei, one of Japan's major film and animation studios.

Although he did not win an Oscar, Takahata won many other awards, including those from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the Lorcano International Film Festival.

Strong female characters were a Takahata trademark.

He was planning to do a film about exploited girls, forced to work as nannies with infants strapped on their backs. Most lullabies in Japan were not for parents singing babies to sleep, but for such young women, crying out about their suffering, Takahata had said.

All his stories, he said, held the message of urging everyone to live life to their fullest, to be all they can be, not bogged down by petty concerns like money and prestige.

"This earth is a good place, not because there is eternity," he said.

"All must come to an end in death. But in a cycle, repeated over and over, there will always be those who come after us."

Toshio Suzuki, a producer at Studio Ghibli, said Miyazaki and he were discussing a big farewell ceremony for Takahata for May 15, organized by the studio. Details were still undecided.

"There was so much more he wanted to do, it must be heartbreaking," Suzuki said.

  • Thursday, Apr. 5, 2018
Director Asghar Farhadi's "Everybody Knows" To Open Cannes Film Festival
In this Oct. 10, 2016 file photo, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi poses for a photo during the premiere of his film, "The Salesman," in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
PARIS (AP) -- 

The Cannes Film Festival is opening with a Spanish-language film — a psychological thriller starring Penelope Cruz — the first time since 2004 that the star-studded event is kicking off with a movie that's not in English or French.

Organizers announced Thursday that "Everybody Knows," by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, will open the May 8-19 festival.

The film follows family intrigues and the moral dilemmas of a woman whose life is turned upside down when she leaves Argentina for Spain. In addition to Cruz, it stars Spanish actor Javier Bardem and Argentinian actor Ricardo Darin.

Farhadi won best foreign film Oscars for "A Separation" and "The Salesman."

Cate Blanchett is leading the jury of this year's festival, which comes as the industry is under upheaval over revelations of sexual misconduct.

  • Thursday, Apr. 5, 2018
AMC to open Saudi Arabia's first movie theater
In this May 30, 2017 file photo, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia. AMC says it will open Saudi Arabia’s first movie theater on April 18, 2018. Cinema operators are rushing to build theaters in the Gulf kingdom. The Saudi government in December said it would open the country to commercial movie theaters for the first time in more than 35 years. It’s part of the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to transform Saudi society. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, pool, File)

Saudi Arabia's first movie theater in decades will open April 18, as the Gulf kingdom readies for a rush of cinema operators eager to turn the Middle Eastern country into nation of moviegoers.

AMC Theatres said Wednesday that it will open the country's first new theater in Riyadh, with plans for up to 100 theaters in approximately 25 Saudi cities by 2030.

In December, the Saudi government said it would open the country to commercial movie theaters for the first time in more than 35 years as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's efforts to transform the ultraconservative Saudi society. In June, Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive.

The Leawood, Kansas-based AMC, the world's largest exhibitor, secured the first cinema operating license. In a statement, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Awwad Alawwad, hailed it as "the opening of very significant opportunities for exhibitors."

AMC, which is owned by the Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group, will have competition. Other chains are currently preparing theaters in Saudi Arabia. But the prospect of 33 million new consumers is particularly appealing to exhibitors, many of whom have struggled recently.

"We expect this to be a very lucrative opportunity for AMC," AMC Chief Executive Adam Aron said in a conference call. "If we can open up to 100 movie theaters in Saudi Arabia, in a country where there is literally no capacity now, we think the market will have staggering levels of pent-up demand."

Questions remain about what kinds of movies Saudi Arabia will tolerate, and if moviegoers will be segregated by gender. But the expectations are that the country could be a very valuable new territory for Hollywood.

"We think it could be a very big market," said John Fithian, chief executive and president of the National Association of Theatre Owners. "It's literally as fast as we can build them and they will come."

  • Wednesday, Apr. 4, 2018
House panel says Facebook's Zuckerberg to testify April 11
In this April 18, 2017 file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at his company's annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The leaders of a key House oversight committee say Zuckerberg will testify before their panel on April 11. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, file)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before a House oversight panel on April 11 amid a privacy scandal that has roiled the social media giant, the panel announced Wednesday.

Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing will focus on the Facebook's "use and protection of user data." Announcement of the hearing date comes as Facebook faces scrutiny over its data collection following allegations that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained data on tens of millions of Facebook users to try to influence elections. Walden is the committee's Republican chairman and Pallone is the panel's top Democrat.

"This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online," Walden and Pallone said.

Their committee is the first of three congressional panels that requested Zuckerberg's testimony to announce a hearing date. The Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees also have called for Zuckerberg to appear before them.

Walden and Pallone said last month that they wanted to hear directly from Zuckerberg after senior Facebook executives failed to answers questions during a closed-door briefing with congressional staff about how Facebook and third-party developers use and protect consumer data.

Zuckerberg said during a March 21 interview on CNN that he would be "happy" to testify before Congress, but only if he was the right person to do that. He said there might be other Facebook officials better positioned to appear, depending on what Congress wanted to know. Walden and Pallone said a day later that as Facebook's top executive, Zuckerberg is indeed the "right witness to provide answers to the American people."

Their call represented the first official request from a congressional oversight committee for Zuckerberg's appearance as lawmakers demanded that Facebook explain reports that Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of more than 50 million Facebook users.

The company, funded in part by Trump supporter and billionaire financier Robert Mercer, paired its vault of consumer data with voter information. The Trump campaign paid the firm nearly $6 million during the 2016 election, although it has since distanced itself. Other Republican clients of Cambridge Analytica included Sen. Ted Cruz's failed presidential campaign and Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon who also ran unsuccessfully for president in 2016.

The data was gathered through a personality test app called "This Is Your Digital Life" that was downloaded by fewer than 200,000 people. But participants unknowingly gave researchers access to the profiles of their Facebook friends, allowing them to collect data from millions more users.

It's far from certain what action, if any, the GOP-led Congress and the Trump administration might take against Facebook, but the company will almost certainly oppose any efforts to regulate it or the technology business sector more broadly.

As do most large corporations, Facebook has assembled a potent lobbying operation to advance its interests in Washington. The company spent just over $13 million on lobbying in 2017, with the bulk of the money spent on an in-house lobbying team that's stocked with former Republican and Democratic political aides, according to disclosure records filed with the House and Senate. The company sought to influence an array of matters that ranged from potential changes to government surveillance programs to corporate tax issues.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 4, 2018
Fox Searchlight enters into movie deal with Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro, winner of the award for best director for “The Shape of Water” celebrates in the audience at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Fox Searchlight Pictures presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley have announced that Fox Searchlight Pictures has signed a deal with Academy Award® winning director Guillermo del Toro that covers live action feature film projects to be written, produced and/or directed by del Toro.  Fox Searchlight is also creating a new, soon to be named, label which will serve as a home for projects in the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres, including those produced and curated by del Toro. Films will be financed, marketed and distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

“For the longest time, I’ve hoped to find an environment in which I can distribute, nurture and produce new voices in smart, inventive genre films and channel my own. In Fox Searchlight, I’ve found a real home for live action production — a partnership based on hard work, understanding of each other and, above all, faith.  After the wonderful experience I had with Fox Searchlight on The Shape of Water, I am honored to have the opportunity to continue the relationship,” said del Toro.

The first film in the pipeline will be Antlers, a story about an elementary school teacher who takes in a troubled student that harbors a mysterious family secret with deadly consequences.  The film will be directed by Scott Cooper with a script written by Nick Antosca and Henry Chaisson, based on the short story “The Quiet Boy” by Antosca.  Del Toro, David Goyer, and J. Miles Dale will produce, with Kevin Turen serving as executive producer.

Del Toro’s most recent film, The Shape of Water, was honored with 13 Oscar nominations and won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Score and Best Production Design. In all, the film garnered more than 100 awards including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and appeared on more than 70 critics’ lists of the year’s best films.

Del Toro earned international acclaim as the director, writer and producer of the 2006 fantasy drama Pan’s Labyrinth which won three Academy Awards.  He first gained recognition for the 1993 Mexican-American co-production Cronos, a supernatural horror film, which he directed from his own screenplay after beginning his career working as a special effects makeup artist.

Del Toro’s other films include Mimic, The Devil’s Backbone, Blade II, Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak.

Del Toro was represented by Gary Ungar of Exile Entertainment, Robert Newman of William Morris Endeavor and attorney George Hayum, Esq. from the law firm of Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof & Fishman LLP. 

Fox Searchlight Pictures is a specialty film company that both finances and acquires motion pictures. It has its own marketing and distribution operations, and its films are distributed internationally by Twentieth Century Fox. Fox Searchlight Pictures is a unit of Twentieth Century Fox Film.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 4, 2018
Hugh Laurie joins cast of Hulu's "Catch-22"
In this April 5, 2016 file photo, Hugh Laurie attends the LA Premiere of “The Night Manager” in Los Angeles. The six-part miniseries premieres Tuesday, April 19, at 10 p.m. ET on AMC. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Golden Globe Award-winning actor (House M.D., The Night Manager) Hugh Laurie has joined the cast of Hulu’s Original six-part limited series Catch-22 from Paramount Television, Anonymous Content, George Clooney and Grant Heslov. 

Laurie, who is represented by WME and Christian Hodell, has been cast as Major de Coverley, squadron executive officer on Pianosa air base. A noble, leonine presence, like some Civil War general, de Coverley dances to the beat of his own drum. Regarded with awe by the men, he spends his time pitching horseshoes, listening to jazz on his phonograph, mixing himself martinis, and hiring apartments for the officers in every new city the Americans take.

Catch-22 will be executive produced by Clooney and Heslov on behalf of Smokehouse Pictures, along with Richard Brown and Steve Golin on behalf of Anonymous Content. Luke Davies and David Michôd are co-writers and executive producers for the series. 

Clooney will portray Colonel Cathcart, and will direct the series alongside Heslov. Ellen Kuras will serve as producer and direct two episodes.

Based on Joseph Heller’s seminal novel of the same name, Catch-22 is the story of the incomparable, artful dodger, Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a US Air Force bombardier in World War II who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy, but rather his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to avoid his military assignments, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule which specifies that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers which are real and immediate is the process of a rational mind; a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but a request to be removed from duty is evidence of sanity and therefore makes him ineligible to be relieved from duty.