Saturday, February 16, 2019

News Briefs

Displaying 31 - 40 of 3427
  • Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019
"Fearless Girl" creator sued, accused of not making a statue
In this Dec. 11, 2018 file photo, The Fearless Girl statue stands at its new location in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Fearless Girl" statue creator Kristen Visbal is being sued by a group that says she failed to make a 9-foot (2.7-meter) bronze replica of Alexander Hamilton. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
LEWES, Del. (AP) -- 

The Delaware artist who created the "Fearless Girl" statue is being sued by a group that says she failed to make a 9-foot (2.7-meter) bronze replica of Alexander Hamilton.

The News Journal reports the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association's lawsuit says Kristen Visbal breached a $28,000 contract to create the statue.

The lawsuit says Visbal agreed in February 2017 to create a preliminary model of the Hamilton statue. That was around one month before "Fearless Girl" appeared a few blocks from the New York Stock Exchange, commissioned by an asset management firm to support greater female representation on corporate boards.

The lawsuit says Visbal never delivered. The association terminated its agreement last June, demanding a refund.

The suit seeks that refund and other fees.

Visbal didn't immediately respond to the newspaper's request for comment.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019
Actresses welcome on-set culture changes in MeToo era
Jennifer Carpenter, from left, Retta, Lorraine Toussaint and Susan Kelechi Watson participate in the Women of Drama panel during the NBCUniversal TCA Winter Press Tour on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- 

Lorraine Toussaint welcomes the idea of intimacy coaches on television and film sets, even if the actress wasn't quite sure what the job entails.

Informed that such coaches help stage scenes involving sex that are respectful to the actors, the 58-year-old star of NBC's upcoming series "The Village" told a TV critics meeting on Tuesday that she was forced to be her own advocate when no one else was around.

"I've been a bit of a Nazi about making sure that it's a closed set and that includes even sound," Toussaint said. "It is highly choreographed. It is highly rehearsed. And then everyone has to go away."

Toussaint joined Jennifer Carpenter of new series "The Enemy Within," Retta of "Good Girls" and Susan Kelechi Watson of "This Is Us" in agreeing that they're seeing changes in on-set culture since the emergence of the #MeToo movement.

"The greatest part of it is many men didn't even know that this was inappropriate or offensive. It has been so commonplace," said Toussaint, whose show debuts March 12. "So part of what's happening is the re-education of men in the workplace."

Carpenter added, "Many men have been really supportive of the movement."

Retta noticed last season's male guest stars expressed disbelief to the female stars of "Good Girls" that men thought they could get away with such demeaning behavior.

"They think it's insane," she said. "I was like, 'Yeah, it's not insane.'"

Watson said a meeting was held to discuss what is and isn't appropriate behavior on the set of the hit NBC series.

"There are some things that are so ingrained because it's been allowed to go on for so long," Watson said. "Just simple phrases of language that we use, we don't realize the possibilities of what's inherent in that. So there became a consciousness about even that, which I found really respectful."

  • Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019
"Empire" cast member alleges homophobic attack in Chicago
In this May 14, 2018 file photo, Jussie Smollett, a cast member in the TV series "Empire," attends the Fox Networks Group 2018 programming presentation afterparty in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
CHICAGO (AP) -- 

A cast member on the hit television show "Empire" alleged he was physically attacked by men in Chicago who shouted racial and homophobic slurs, police said Tuesday.

Police did not release the actor's name but a statement from Fox, which airs "Empire," identified him as Jussie Smollett, 36, who plays Jamal Lyon on the show. Authorities said they are investigating the alleged attack as a hate crime.

According to a police statement, Smollett was walking near the Chicago River downtown around 2 a.m. Tuesday when he was approached by two men who shouted at him, struck him in the face and poured an "unknown substance" on him before one of them wrapped a rope around his neck.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the two men, who were wearing masks, fled the scene. Authorities have not identified any suspects, and Guglielmi said detectives are gathering security footage from nearby buildings and trying to find witnesses.

Smollett was able to take himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, police said. He was last reported in good condition.

Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement Tuesday in support of Smollett. "The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence," the statement read.

"Empire" co-creator Lee Daniels also voiced his support for Smollett in an Instagram video.

"You didn't deserve, nor anybody deserves, to have a noose put around your neck," Daniels said. "You are better than that, we are better than that, America is better than that."

California Sen. Kamala Harris, a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, knows Smollett personally and called the attack "outrageous" and "awful."

"He is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I've ever met," Harris said Tuesday, adding that she's still learning more details about the incident.

Smollett's role as the gay son of a record company mogul in the drama propelled him to fame after it debuted four years ago. Smollett, who is gay, has been active in LBGTQ issues. He also released his debut album, "Sum of My Music," last year.

"Empire" is shot in Chicago and a Fox spokeswoman said the program is currently in production.

Associated Press writer Elana Schor contributed to this report from Washington.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019
"Brittany Runs a Marathon" gives Jillian Bell the spotlight
Lil Rel Howery, from left, Alice Lee, Micah Stock, Jillian Bell, director Paul Downs Colaizzo, Michaela Watkins and Utkarsh Ambudkar pose for a portrait to promote the film "Brittany Runs A Marathon" at the Salesforce Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- 

When Jillian Bell is offered roles that have to do with body issues, they usually fall into two buckets: They're either making fun of the character's weight, or, they're not presenting it in a way that she finds compelling or authentic.

It's why when she read the script for "Brittany Runs a Marathon," which premiered Monday at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival , she kind of couldn't believe it. The film, from writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo, was about a woman in her 20s living a fun, but not necessarily healthy, life who turns things around when she decides to start running. It's a charming and inspirational film from the first-time director that co-stars Lil Rel Howery and Michaela Watkins. The filmmakers are currently looking for distribution.

"I have wasted so much time in my life thinking negatively or consuming my day with body image," Bell said. "I'm lucky I've had great movies come my way that had nothing to do with it. But I have had a lot of other offers that do have a lot to do with body image and what people think — and  it's a weird thing to talk about — but what they think a person like me is worth. I joke about this but, like, if you have a body that looks like mine, you're not worthy of love."

But she found that she related to Brittany. She felt real to her. Because she kind of was. The character was inspired by one of Colaizzo's college friends and former roommates.

"She was in her 20s working in theater and living her best life in maybe the wrong sense of the word. And there was a shift around the time when I moved in where she started to realize she wants something else," Colaizzo said. "She started running and by the time she was out of the apartment, she had lost 80 pounds, had a new job and was working her way out of debt."

Now the real Brittany is married and works in genocide prevention, which, he laughed is, "Too good. If you put it in a movie you wouldn't believe it."

Bell, in one of her first dramatic performances and leading film roles, experienced her own sort of transformation during production.  She realized that she did enjoy more dramatic material, as taxing as all the crying was. And she lost 40 pounds — the last 11 pounds during filming.

"I trained beforehand because I did almost zero percent exercise before this film came along," Bell said. "I actually looked up something on Pinterest that was like how to train from couch to 5K. It was intense, but I wanted to go through the whole experience of what she went through."

  • Monday, Jan. 28, 2019
Amazon picks up CIA torture investigation film "The Report"
Steven Soderbergh, left, producer of "The Report," with cast member Adam Driver attends the premiere of the film during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- 

Vice Studios has announced that Amazon Studios has acquired the worldwide rights to the CIA torture investigation film "The Report."

Vice produced the film and made the announcement Monday following an all-night bidding war for the buzzy political film.

"The Report" stars Adam Driver as senate staffer Daniel Jones, who investigates the CIA's detention and interrogation program.

Annette Bening plays Senator Dianne Feinstein in the long gestating film from writer-director Scott Z. Burns that received rave reviews at the festival. It was purchased for around $14 million.

Amazon plans to release "The Report" in theaters in the fall for an awards push.

It's the second major acquisition for the studio, which also picked up Mindy Kaling's talk show host comedy "Late Night" for $13 million.

  • Monday, Jan. 28, 2019
Carrie Bradshaw, "The Dude" to star in Super Bowl commercial
This undated image provided by Stella Artois shows a scene from the company's Super Bowl spot with Jeff Bridges. Sarah Jessica Parker will reprise her Carrie Bradshaw role from “Sex and the City” and Bridges will appear as “The Dude” in the Super Bowl commercial to raise money to combat water shortage. The 45-second ad launches Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, and will be televised during Super Bowl 53 on Feb. 3. (Stella Artois via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Sarah Jessica Parker and Jeff Bridges are bringing a couple of famed characters back to life for a charity in a new Super Bowl commercial.

Parker will reprise her "Sex and the City" Carrie Bradshaw role and Bridges will appear as "The Dude" in a Stella Artois commercial to raise money to combat water shortage. The 45-second ad launches Monday and will be televised during Super Bowl 53 on Feb. 3.

"There will be a lot of men drinking during the Super Bowl, so why not buy some beer that'll do some good for the planet and the world," Bridges said in an interview with The Associated Press before shooting the ad.

The "Pour It Forward" campaign is an initiative between the beer brand and Water.org, co-founded by actor Matt Damon. Both will donate between one to 12 months of clean water to someone in an underdeveloped country based on the amount of Stella Artois packs bought.

Bridges said there's a "tremendous need" for the initiative, while Parker called the campaign an "important and potentially impactful effort."

Parker starred as the fashionable Bradshaw on the hit television series "Sex in the City." Bridges is known as the nonchalant, knit-sweater-wearing character Jeffrey "The Dude" from the cult classic film "The Big Lebowski."

Parker said she and Bridges enjoyed having their characters meet up.

In the commercial, the two separately order the beer instead of their favorite drink and end up sitting next to each other. Bradshaw prefers a Cosmopolitan cocktail, while The Dude's usual is a White Russian cocktail.

"I really like the way they created this world," said Parker, who said she doesn't expect to play Bradshaw in "Sex and the City" anytime soon. "It's allowing this sort of a familiarity. People associate those characters without us literally playing them."

  • Monday, Jan. 28, 2019
"VH1 Trailblazer Honors" celebrates director Ava DuVernay
In this Nov. 18, 2018, file photo filmmaker Ava DuVernay addresses the audience during the 2018 Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, FIle)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

"VH1 Trailblazer Honors" will pay tribute to Academy Award-nominated director Ava DuVernay to kick off Women's History Month.

The 46-year-old's screenwriter includes the films "Selma," ''13TH" and "A Wrinkle In Time." The 2018 fantasy movie made her the highest-grossing female black director in domestic box office history.

DuVernay is a member of the board of Sundance Institute. She's working on her next project, "Central Park Five," and is overseeing production of her TV series "Queen Sugar."

"VH1 Trailblazer Honors" will air March 8 to coincide with International Women's Day.

  • Monday, Jan. 28, 2019
Sundance: A different side of Awkwafina in "The Farewell"
Writer and director Lulu Wang, left, and actress Awkwafina pose at the premiere of "The Farewell" during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- 

Awkwafina's dramatic turn in "The Farewell" has quickly become one of the must-sees at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. After rising to household name status last summer with breakout comedic roles in "Crazy Rich Asians" and "Ocean's 8," audiences in Park City, Utah, have been raving over the discovery that she's got the chops to make you cry, and not just from laughter.

Still, the 30-year-old New York native wasn't entirely sure she could even pull it off.

"I didn't think that I would be able to cry. I just didn't think that I would ever be able to harness that. But with this movie, I would cry like even when we were blocking a scene," she said. "I guess I discovered a whole other side of something that I never knew existed. But it all really stemmed from thinking about my grandma. That's really what it was. So it's very real. It was a very real role for me."

The title card says the film is "based on an actual lie." The lie would be writer and director Lulu Wang's who along with her family decided not to tell her grandmother that she'd been diagnosed with terminal cancer with only three months to live.

"My mother was the one who called me and said that in China, they don't tell the patient. They tell the family members," Wang said. "I said immediately, 'I have to go back. I have to see her right away.' And she's like, 'Well, slow down. Actually, because you can't tell her if you go back. If you're too emotional, that will give it away.'"

So Wang's father constructed a plan to have her only cousin get married in two weeks, which would provide a reasonable excuse for the whole family to travel to China to see her grandmother one last time. If it sounds familiar it's likely because her story was also featured on an episode of "This American Life."

"The Farewell," which is competing in the U.S. Dramatic Competition of the festival and does not yet have a distributor, follows this same structure with Awkwafina playing Billi, the stand-in for the director. It's an intimate, emotional and often quite funny portrait of family, culture-clashes as Billi and her Chinese-American family venture to mainland China to put on a real fake wedding and try to say goodbye without ever letting on that that's what they're doing.

Awkwafina said the film also captures the "struggle of going back to China."

"It's hard to describe. Because you're made to feel like you're not American in America. But you go to China and ...you're a stranger there as well," Awkwafina said. "It really hit that on the head."

AP Entertainment Reporter Ryan Pearson contributed from Park City.

  • Monday, Jan. 28, 2019
Oscar-winning "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" composer Legrand dies at 86
In this Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 file picture French conductor Michel Legrand arrives at the opening ceremony of the 6th Lumiere Festival, in Lyon, central France. Oscar-winning composer and pianist Legrand, whose hits included the score for "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" and who left a lasting imprint on France's musical universe, has died at age 86. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, File)
PARIS (AP) -- 

Oscar-winning composer and pianist Michel Legrand, whose hits included the score for the '60s romance "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" and who worked with some of biggest singers of the 20th century, has died at age 86.

Legrand last performed on stage just last month, and was still composing and practicing piano an hour a day even as fatigue increasingly forced him to economize his energy, said Claire de Castellane, a musician and producer who organized a series of recent solo piano concerts by Legrand. De Castellane confirmed his death Saturday, without providing details.

"MICHEL LEGRAND Feb. 24, 1932-Jan. 26, 2019," read the home page of his official website Saturday, followed by photographs of Legrand with Barbara Streisand, Miles Davis, Yves Montand and others. Tributes poured in on Twitter and Facebook, and French radio and television replayed songs from his vast repertoire.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced condolences to Legrand's wife and children, hailing him as an "indefatigable genius." ''His unique tunes that run through our heads and are hummed in the streets have become like the soundtracks of our lives," he said.

Legrand won three Academy Awards, five Grammys and two top awards at the Cannes Film Festival among other honors, according to his official website. He worked with famed lyricists in Hollywood and on Broadway — including Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Sheldon Harnick  —  as well as with French New Wave directors.

"The Windmills of Your Mind" won him his first Oscar, as the theme song for 1968's "The Thomas Crown Affair," sung by Noel Harrison. The song was later recorded by Dusty Springfield and many others. His songs marked some of the most memorable musical moments in French cinema, including 1964's "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" with Catherine Deneuve and "The Young Ladies of Rochefort."

Over a six-decade career he worked with performers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin and Sting, and played an outsized role on the French musical scene. He continued touring into his 80s, last performing a month ago at the Paris Philharmonic, and was scheduled to give his next concert in February.

Though he had rich and rigorous musical education, Legrand sought to reach ordinary people. "He wrote very elaborate music, but for a regular audience," de Castellane said.

Performing right up until the end "was a very beautiful way to say goodbye," de Castellane said. "He was not afraid of death, he talked about it. He said it made him nervous" — like the nervousness performers feel before going on stage — "but it didn't frighten him."

  • Monday, Jan. 28, 2019
With a record acquisition, "Late Night" is a Sundance hit
Mindy Kaling, left, a cast member and writer of "Late Night," poses with the film's director Nisha Ganatra at the premiere of the film during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- 

The Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling comedy "Late Night" is already one of the biggest hits of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival with an acquisition price to match.

Amazon Studios on Saturday purchased the U.S. distribution rights for $13 million, a record for the festival.

"Late Night" follows a veteran talk show host played by Thompson who's facing declining ratings, possible cancellation and a reputation for not liking women. Kaling wrote the script and plays the "diversity hire" in the writer's room who has no qualifications except an undying love for Thompson's character, Katherine Newbury. But she helps shake things up for the show.

"It's really a movie about being a fan," Kaling told The Associated Press. "I've been such a comedy nerd my whole life and I've always felt like on the outside looking in. I had no connections in the business, but I just loved comedy and ... late-night talk shows. So the movie is just really a love letter for people who are fans of something and really want to be part of it, but don't feel like they have any access."

The film, which also stars Reid Scott, Hugh Dancy, Amy Ryan and John Lithgow, premiered Friday night in Park City and immediately became a must-see. Lines stretched around the block for the second screening Saturday morning and no empty seats were left in the massive Eccles Theater, where the audience buzzed about its sale that had just been reported by the trade publication Deadline.

"Late Night" is sleeker than your average Sundance movie and was originally to be made as a studio film, with Paul Feig directing. Delays left Feig unavailable, and Kaling moved on independently. Nisha Ganatra, who had directed an episode of "The Mindy Project," eventually came on to direct.

Amazon's acquisition of "Late Night" is the first major deal out of the 2019 festival, and one of the highest sums ever paid out of Sundance. The record-holder is "Birth of a Nation," which went for $17.5 million for the worldwide rights. "Late Night" beat out Amazon's $12 million deal for "The Big Sick," which went on to become a box office hit, and Netflix's $12.5 million for "Mudbound."

Kaling mined her own experiences in the business both as a boss and a newcomer, and those of others, to tell the story. Her character decides that she can't remember the names of her writers and calls them by numbers one through eight. This, Kaling said, is based on "a very famous comedy person" whom she "will never name."

Kaling wrote the part of Katherine specifically for Thompson, whom she had yet to meet, which she called "one of the stupidest things you can do in comedy."

"I was this creep in my home writing fan fiction for Emma Thompson, who I did not know, hoping that she would read it," Kaling said.

AP Entertainment Reporter Ryan Pearson contributed to this report.

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