Saturday, April 20, 2019

News Briefs

Displaying 31 - 40 of 3525
  • Tuesday, Apr. 2, 2019
MPAA chief says Netflix addition makes organization stronger
Charles Rivkin, chairman and CEO of the MPAA, addresses the audience during the "State of the Industry" presentation at CinemaCon 2019, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) at Caesars Palace, Tuesday, April 2, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nev. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Motion Picture Association of America Chairman Charles Rivkin says Netflix's addition to the group makes the entertainment industry stronger.

Rivkin's remarks are a stark contrast to how the streaming giant is usually referenced at CinemaCon, the annual gathering of movie theater owners and distributors, who generally see the streaming service as a threat to their business model.

The MPAA chairman and CEO kicked off CinemaCon Tuesday morning in Las Vegas with his annual state of the industry remarks.

Rivkin also touted the record 2018 box office year. The North American box office reached $11.9 billion and the global box office hit $41 billion last year.

That growth was helped by an increase in younger and more diverse audiences.

  • Sunday, Mar. 31, 2019
New Mexico filmmaker examines the children of prison inmates
In this undated photo provided by filmmaker Denali Tiller, Maison Teixeira, left, and his father color during visiting hours at John J. Moran Medium Security Prison in Cranston, R.I. Tiller's four-year-long project "Tre Maison Dasan," documenting the lives of children with parents in prison, is set to air Monday, April 1, 2019, on most PBS stations as part of the series "Independent Lens." (Denali Tiller/Hello World Productions via AP)

Filmmaker Denali Tiller started capturing footage of a former inmate's life four years ago. A Rhode Island School of Design student at the time, she soon was introduced to a few children of inmates serving prison sentences for violent crimes.

On Monday, Tiller's project, "Tre Maison Dasan," is scheduled to air on most PBS stations as part of the series "Independent Lens." It comes after the Albuquerque woman filmed more than 350 hours of three Rhode Island boys coping with incarcerated parents. The film follows Tre Janson, Maison Teixeira, and Dasan Lopes over three years as they struggle with anger, loneliness and uncertainty from having a parent behind bars.

The Albuquerque Academy graduate said the boys — and their parents — invited her and her crew into their lives despite the emotional toll before them. Sometimes, Tiller handed over the camera and let the boys capture images. Other times, Tiller sat silently in a corner and watched the boys experience regular issues of growing up like wearing Spiderman costumes or listening to music.

"Through building a friendship, they began to build ownership of their own stories," Tiller said. She said was also honor that the families of color allowed her, a white woman, into their world.

But it was through the captured interaction with the parents where Tiller said she felt viewers could see what the children experience.

In one scene, Tre cries uncontrollably in front of his father and inquiries when he's coming home. Later in the film, an older Tre wears an ankle bracelet after getting into trouble, shares stories with his father about how annoying the bracelets are when they have to be charged. His father laughs and shares his own memories, then stops.

"This ain't normal," the father laments while holding back tears.

In another scene, Maison and his grandmother prepare a gift Maison wants to give a girl he likes. The grandmother worries Maison's heart will be broken. That evening, Maison calls his dad to give him a play-by-play: he asked the girl to be his Valentine, and she said yes.

"Yes! Oh my god, I've been so freaking stressed out all day," his dad yells on the phone.

Maison, now 14, says he hopes the film opens minds about the lives of children of prisoners. "There is a lot of stigmas that the children of incarcerated parents will end up like there. That's not true," Maison said. "Even with our parents in prison, we keep moving. It doesn't define us."

  • Saturday, Mar. 30, 2019
Credit union liquidated as manager charged with embezzlement
This May 10, 2017, file photo, shows the CBS logo at their broadcast center in New York. A credit union that serves employees of CBS has been liquidated as one of its long-time managers faces charges of embezzling $40 million from the institution over a nearly 20-year period. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles said Friday, March 29, 2019, that 62-year-old Edward Rostohar of Studio City was arrested March 12 and charged in connection with embezzling money from the CBS Employees Federal Credit Union to fund a gambling habit, buy luxury cars and watches and travel by jet. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

A credit union that serves employees of the CBS television network has been liquidated as one of its long-time managers faces charges of embezzling $40 million from the institution over a 20-year period, authorities announced Friday.

Edward Rostohar, 62, of Studio City, California, was arrested March 12 and charged in connection with embezzling money from the CBS Employees Federal Credit Union to pay for a gambling habit, buy luxury cars and watches, and travel by private jet, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Rostohar was ordered detained after a judge found that he was a flight risk and an economic danger to the community. It's unclear whether Rostohar has an attorney.

The charges were announced the same day as the National Credit Union Administration said the credit union was insolvent and had no prospect of restoring operations on its own. University Credit Union in Los Angeles assumed CBS Employees' assets, loans and member shares, according to prosecutors.

A statement on the website of CBS Employees Federal Credit Union tells its members that their accounts will remain unchanged until systems are fully transferred on Monday.

"University Credit Union was selected because of the safety and soundness of the institution, the robust product offerings for members, and the credit union's ability to provide the best possible member experience through this transition," the statement said.

Prosecutors said Rostohar used his position as a manager to make online payments to himself from his employer or by forging the signature of a fellow employee on checks made out to himself.

They say the embezzlement began sometime before 2000 and continued until March 6, when prosecutors say a credit union employee found a $35,000 check made out to Rostohar without a reason listed for the high dollar amount.

That's when the employee conducted an audit and found $3.7 million in checks had been made out to Rostohar since January 2018, prosecutors said. He was suspended from his job shortly after.

Rostohar was arrested after his wife called 911 to say her husband had stolen money from his employer and was about to leave the country, prosecutors said.

They said Rostohar acknowledged stealing money from the credit union for 20 years and estimated that he had taken more than $40 million, a figure confirmed with the National Credit Union Administration.

  • Friday, Mar. 29, 2019
Jay-Z, Beyonce dedicate GLAAD award to her uncle
In this Nov. 4, 2016 file photo, Beyonce and Jay-Z perform during a Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton campaign rally in Cleveland. The pair received the LGBTQ advocacy group’s Vanguard Award on Thursday during its 30th annual media awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- 

Jay-Z and Beyonce have dedicated their GLAAD award to her uncle, who died of HIV-related complications.

The musical power couple received the LGBTQ advocacy group's Vanguard Award on Thursday during its 30th annual media awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, California. The group says the award honors "allies who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of LGBTQ people."

Jay-Z honored his mother, Gloria Carter, a lesbian whose story was featured last year in his song and video "Smile."

Beyonce told the audience one of her most beautiful memories about respect was on her tour "looking out from the stage every night and seeing the hardest gangsta trappin' right next to the most fabulous queen."

She said witnessing the battle of her uncle Johnny was a painful experience.

  • Thursday, Mar. 28, 2019
Trump says FBI, DOJ to review Jussie Smollett case
Actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County Court after his charges were dropped Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that the FBI and Department of Justice will review the "outrageous" case of "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett in Chicago, calling it an "embarrassment" to the country.

Prosecutors offered little explanation and infuriated Chicago's police chief and mayor this week when they dropped 16 felony counts against Smollett related to making a false police report, yet still insisted the actor faked a racist, anti-gay attack on himself in January.

Trump tweeted: "FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!"

The two brothers who claim they worked with the actor to stage the January attack are lying, according to Smollett attorney Tina Glandian. She said Smollett, who is black and gay, had hired one brother as a personal trainer but had no idea who attacked him along a Chicago street until the brothers were later identified by police.

Police said investigators believe Smollett hired the brothers to stage the early-morning Jan. 29 attack, and that Smollett hoped to gain attention to help advance his career. Police also allege that before the attack, Smollett sent a letter threatening himself to the Chicago television studio where "Empire" is shot. The FBI, which is investigating that letter, has declined to comment.

Smollett has repeatedly insisted the attack was real, saying two masked men used racial and homophobic slurs, wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an "unknown substance" on him. Police said Smollett also told detectives the attackers yelled he was in "MAGA country," an apparent reference to Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan.

Prosecutors initially charged Smollett with one felony count, in February. Then earlier this month, a grand jury indicted him on 15 more counts.

In a stunning reversal Tuesday, the Cook County state's attorney's office abruptly dropped all charges against Smollett, abandoning the criminal case only five weeks after the allegations were filed.

In return, prosecutors said, the actor agreed to let the city keep his $10,000 in bail. The dismissal drew a backlash and raised the question of why Smollett was not forced to admit any wrongdoing.

Among those sure to keep pressing for answers is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He appeared blindsided by the decision and visibly angry during a Tuesday press conference, calling it "a whitewash of justice."

  • Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2019
ESPN's Connor Schell to receive NY Festivals' Lifetime Achievement Award
Connor Schell

Connor Schell, executive VP, content for ESPN, will receive the 9th annual New York Festivals® Lifetime Achievement Award on Tuesday, April 9, at the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes prominent industry leaders whose accomplishment have advanced their field and made a lasting impression on the industry.

“For the past decade, the documentaries of 30 for 30 have earned multiple Grand Trophies and Gold World Medals from the New York Festivals Grand Jury and have won acclaim for their passionate storytelling, compelling journalism, and innovative techniques – all under Connor’s guidance. His commitment to excellence encompasses long-form and short-form and we are proud to honor him with the New York Festivals Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Rose Anderson, VP and executive director, New York Festivals Television & Film Awards

ESPN Films’ prestigious 30 for 30 documentary brand marks its 10th anniversary this year. Schell is the executive producer and co-creator of the Emmy, Oscar, and Peabody Award-winning 30 for 30 documentary series and the Emmy-winning 30 for 30 Shorts digital series. The ESPN Films group continues to report to him and win awards. 30 for 30 received Sports Emmys, Producers Guild Awards, NAACP Image Awards, IDA Awards, Webby Awards and Edward R Murrow Awards. Schell also served as a producer and executive producer of the company’s first Academy Award-winning film, O.J.: Made in America. As a producer of the film, Schell was also a recipient of a DuPont Award for Journalism and his third Peabody Award.

Schell is responsible for overseeing all aspects of ESPN’s content creation across television, digital and print platforms. He oversees management of all of ESPN’s event production domestically and internationally including the production of the NBA Finals, the College Football National Championship, Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Baseball, Wimbledon and the US Open. He also manages all of ESPN’s studio programming including SportsCenter and ESPN’s News & Information division. Schell oversees digital and print content creation covering, the ESPN App, ESPN the Magazine, The Undefeated and all off-platform ESPN branded content (i.e. SC on Snap). Additionally, Schell is responsible for ESPN Films, ESPN Audio, and the company’s Talent Office.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 26, 2019
Hugh Dancy joins Claire Danes on final "Homeland" season
In this June 10, 2018 file photo, Claire Danes, left, and Hugh Dancy arrive at the 72nd annual Tony Awards in New York. Dancy has signed on as a recurring character in the upcoming eighth season of "Homeland," the Showtime series which stars his wife Danes, the network announced Tuesday. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

The final season of Showtime's "Homeland " will be a family project for Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy.

The network announced Tuesday that Dancy has signed on as a recurring character in the upcoming eighth season of the series which stars Danes, his wife of eight years.

He'll play a political consultant hired by the White House specializing in foreign policy. He's described as an adversary to Mandy Patinkin's character, who serves as National Security Adviser.

Danes' portrayal of a bipolar CIA agent obsessed with her job has earned her two Emmys and two Golden Globe awards. The series has also won a Golden Globe for best drama television series.

Dancy and Danes have two sons.

"Homeland" will return later this year.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 26, 2019
F2F, Deutsch, Steelhead partner again in grAD SCHOOL for underserved students
Members of the grAD SCHOOL class of 2017 with F2F founder Rachel Miller

Film2Future (F2F), a non-profit organization helping minority students gain skills and connections in the film industry, is re-shaping the advertising business. For the second year in a row, F2F will partner with creative agency Deutsch, and Steelhead, a full-service production studio, to offer it’s "grAD SCHOOL" Program.

F2F provides underserved high school students with an intensive, film-making and production course that leaves them well-positioned to meet the industry’s growing need for more diverse talent.

“I am beyond excited to partner with Deutsch & Steelhead for a second year to achieve Film2Future’s mission of building a direct pipeline of diverse young adults into the entertainment and advertising industries,” said Rachel Miller, founder of F2F. “For our 2019 class of 100% diverse, under-represented young voices, this partnership allows Film2Future to continue to provide our students with hands-on creative and technical advertising experience that directly results in jobs and a portfolio.”

The three-week intensive course, hosted at Steelhead’s state-of-the-art facility in Playa Vista, Calif., featuring a 7,000 sq. ft. sound stage and full pre/postproduction services, will introduce high school grads to the basics of the advertising industry. The summer program, which runs July 8-26, gives 15-20 students the opportunity to learn the campaign-making process from start to finish: from the advertising brief to the production of 30-second spots. The "grAD SCHOOL" course is designed to give students access, knowledge and real-world experience to bolster their portfolios. Participants will also get to produce advertising work for Deutsch clients; last year’s Film2Future students made spots for 7-Eleven which can be viewed here.

Determined to build a pipeline to bring more diversity to the creative industries, Miller founded Film2Future four years ago. Many of the program’s graduates have garnered full college scholarships and paid internships at companies including Shondaland & Netflix. 

Student Algernon Jackson, who just received a full ride into University of Wisconsin-Madison and pitched and directed F2F’s 2018 virtual reality short Do Something!, said of the program, “Film2Future is a phenomenal program that gives students the resources to accomplish their cinematic dreams. This program has motivated me in numerous ways to achieve every dream I set forth for myself. I love Film2Future!”

In addition to educational training and networking opportunities, the non-profit brings in more than 100 guest speakers per year, including entertainment heavyweights Kristen Schaal and Will Forte. Later this month, Sony Pictures Animation will host the students for a screening of Into The Spiderverse, and Q&A with the film’s directors.

Film2Future has also hired Valentia Cardenas as its first director of operations. The former Peace Corps volunteer has spent the past decade working to inspire at-risk youth through the arts.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 26, 2019
Jussie Smollett's attorneys say all criminal charges dropped
"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, center, arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court Building for his hearing on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Attorneys for "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett said Tuesday that charges alleging he lied to police about a racist and homophobic attack have been dropped.

Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement that Smollett's record "has been wiped clean." Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men.

Among the questions that weren't immediately answered was whether prosecutors still believe Smollett concocted the attack and whether there's new evidence that altered their view of events. Typically, a minimum condition of dropping cases is some acceptance of responsibility. In a statement, the Cook County prosecutors' office offered no detailed explanation.

"After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case," the statement from spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.

Smollett had made a $10,000 bond payment to get out of jail after his arrest on the charges.

Police and prosecutors have said Smollett falsely reported to authorities that he was attacked around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago because he was unhappy with his pay on "Empire" and to promote his career.

Smollett, who is black and gay, plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox TV show that follows a black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording industry.

Smollett reported that he had been attacked on his way home from a sandwich shop. Smollett said two masked men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs, poured bleach on him, beat him and looped a rope around his neck. He claimed they shouted, "This is MAGA country" — a reference to President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan. He asserted that he could see one of the men was white because he could see the skin around his eyes.

Police said Smollett hired two men, both of whom are black, to attack him. Police said Smollett paid the men $3,500.

The men are brothers Abimbola "Abel" and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo, and one of them had worked on "Empire." An attorney for them has said the brothers agreed to help Smollett because of their friendship with him and the sense that he was helping their careers.

Police have also said that before the attack, Smollett sent a letter that threatened him to the Chicago studio where "Empire" is shot. The FBI, which is investigating that letter, has declined to comment on the investigation.

  • Monday, Mar. 25, 2019
High court won't referee dispute over Michael Jordan images
In this Feb. 12, 2019 file photo, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan speaks to the media about hosting the NBA All-Star basketball game during a news conference in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

The Supreme Court said Monday it won't step in to referee a copyright dispute between Nike and a photographer who took a well-known image of basketball great Michael Jordan. That means lower court rulings for the athletic apparel maker will stand.

Photographer Jacobus Rentmeester sued Nike after it used an image he took of Jordan in the 1980s as inspiration for a photograph it commissioned for its own ads. The company's photo, which was used on posters and billboards, then became the basis for the "Jumpman" logo for Nike's Air Jordan shoes. Rentmeester sued Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike in 2015 saying both the Nike photo and logo infringed on his copyright image.

Rentmeester's original photo of Jordan was taken for Life magazine in 1984, while Jordan was a student at the University of North Carolina. It shows Jordan holding a basketball in his left hand and leaping, ballet-like toward a basketball hoop. At the time, Jordan was preparing for the upcoming Summer Olympics, which were being held in Los Angeles. In the photo, Jordan is wearing the U.S. Olympic team uniform.

Both Rentmeester's photo and Nike's photo involve a basketball hoop at the right side of the image and were taken from a similar angle. Jordan's pose is similar in both photos. But in the Nike photo, Jordan is wearing the red and black of the Chicago Bulls, which he joined in 1984, and the Chicago skyline is the background. One other difference: In Rentmeester's photo, Jordan is wearing Converse.

Rentmeester cried foul, argued that the differences between his photo and Nike's were "minor," and said that nearly every original element in his photo also appeared in Nike's. Lower courts ruled for Nike.

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