Monday, January 22, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 41 - 50 of 2814
  • Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017
Vice apologizes for "boy's club" after sex harassment report
Vice Media co-founder Shane Smith

Two co-founders of Vice Media are apologizing for a "boy's club" culture that fostered inappropriate behavior after an investigative report uncovered rampant sexual harassment at the New York-based company.

The New York Times on Saturday reported that it found four settlements involving allegations of sexual harassment or defamation against Vice employees, including the current president, Andrew Creighton.

The newspaper also talked with more than two dozen women who say they experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct at the company, which has grown from a fringe Canadian culture magazine to a major news outlet. The alleged episodes included groping and forced kisses.

Co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi sent a note to staff Saturday saying the company let people down in failing to create a safe and inclusive workplace.

  • Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017
Jodie Foster goes behind the camera for Netflix's "Black Mirror"
This image released by Netflix shows Rosemarie Dewitt, left, and Aniya Hodge, seated right, in an episode of "Black Mirror," directed by Jodie Foster. Season four of "Black Mirror," will be available for streaming on Netflix starting Dec. 29. (Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix via AP)

The first movie that Jodie Foster ever directed was about a single mom raising a son. Her latest project behind the camera is also about a single mom — but this time one who is raising a daughter.

For an episode of the Netflix series "Black Mirror," Foster had to dig deep into mother-daughter dynamics to tell the story of a mom so anxious about her girl that she turns to a sophisticated surveillance tool.

Foster is a mother of two boys — and her debut as a director was "Little Man Tate" in 1991 — so she reached back to how she interacted with her own mom and the push and pull that involved. It's different with boys, she said.

"When you're raising a man, you're just so in awe at how different they are," she said. "It's just so amazing to you how different they are in every way — not just the physical ways but how they think. It's very easy to understand that they are separate from you. It's not so easy, I think, with female children."

The "Black Mirror" episode, titled "ArkAngel," is part of season four of writer Charlie Brooker's anthology series that taps into our collective unease with the modern world. Foster's episode stars Rosemarie DeWitt, whose credits include "La La Land" and "Mad Men."

DeWitt, who has two young daughters, plays the mom wrestling with the implications of eavesdropping on her daughter as she grows into a woman. The actress laughs about a "gentle tension" on the set.

"I sometimes felt Jodie was really rooting for the daughter and I was really rooting for myself. So we had this combustible thing," said DeWitt. "It's a really sticky relationship — mothers and daughters."

Brooker's script intrigued both women with its ethical quandaries and rich characters. Foster likens the series to "The Twilight Zone," serving up twists and messy human reactions to technology.

"In some ways, the technology has outpaced our ethics and the ability for us to understand the monster that we've created," she said. "Technology is kind of like a blender — it's just this inanimate object that doesn't have any feelings. It doesn't have a point of view. It's benign. It's just doing what we asked it to do and that's the part we have to be careful of."

Foster, whose acting roles include "The Silence of the Lambs," ''Inside Man" and "The Accused," said she was attracted to Netflix after finding Hollywood really only interested in big franchise films. "Real narrative is on streaming cable now," she said.

The episode marks the first time friends Foster and DeWitt have worked together and Foster said her leading actress "just inhabits a character in a way that feels completely and totally real."

For her part, DeWitt said having an Oscar-winning actress-turned-director guide her was a little tricky. "I could never be, like 'But this is hard, Jodie!' Because she did it in 'Panic Room.' She's done it a million times."

  • Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017
FCC proposes $13.4M fine for TV-station owner Sinclair
This Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, photo, shows the seal of the Federal Communications Commission before a meeting in Washington. On Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, the FCC proposed a $13.4 million fine on TV-station owner Sinclair for not identifying paid programming as advertising. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed fining TV-station owner Sinclair $13.4 million for not identifying paid programming as advertising.

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. is one of the country's largest owners of TV stations. It pays networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox for the national news, shows and sports it airs on those stations and airs local news shows.

The FCC said Thursday that Sinclair's Salt Lake City station produced news story-like programming for local news broadcasts and longer 30-minute TV programs for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

The FCC said these spots that weren't properly identified as ads aired more than 1,700 times in 2016 across 64 Sinclair-owned TV stations and also on 13 other stations not owned by the company. The FCC said Sinclair apparently didn't tell these stations that it didn't own that it was providing an ad.

The FCC's two Democratic commissioners dissented from the penalty on Sinclair, saying it was too small. Republicans are in the majority of the agency's leadership.

Sinclair, based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, has 30 days to contest the proposed fine or pay it. Sinclair said in a statement Thursday that it would contest the fine.

"Any absence of sponsorship identification in these public service segments was unintended and a result of simple human error," Sinclair said.

Sinclair is awaiting regulatory approval for its proposed takeover of rival Tribune Media. The Justice Department and the FCC must approve the deal. Critics who tend to oppose media mergers say the Republican-controlled-FCC has paved the way for such TV-industry consolidation by relaxing ownership rules for broadcasters.

The Utah-based Huntsman Cancer Foundation, founded by billionaire industrialist Jon Huntsman Sr. and his wife, raises funds for the Huntsman Cancer Institute, a cancer research center and hospital in Salt Lake City.

The Huntsman Cancer Foundation was not responsible for how Sinclair presented these ads, said the foundation's president, Susan Sheehan, in an email. "Please understand that this error was outside of the control of Huntsman Cancer Foundation," she said.

AP writer Brady McCombs contributed to this report from Salt Lake City.

  • Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017
"Darkest Hour" Director Joe Wright named recipient of Cinema Audio Society Filmmaker Award
Joe Wright

Darkest Hour director Joe Wright will receive the Cinema Audio Society Filmmaker Award at the 54th Annual CAS Awards on February 24th, at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza in downtown Los Angeles.

“The CAS recognized Joe’s commitment to sound when we nominated his film Hanna for Outstanding Sound Mixing Motion Picture,” said CAS president Mark Ulano.  “His current film, Darkest Hour, with an amazing performance by Gary Oldman also exhibits Joe’s passion for all the crafts involved in filmmaking.  With the director as conductor, Joe knows how to get the best out of every instrument in the filmmaking orchestra which makes him an excellent choice for Filmmaker.”   

Born to a family of puppeteers, Wright grew up in the theatre his parents founded, The Little Angel Theatre in Islington, London.

Wright studied Fine Art, Film and Video at Central St Martin’s College of Art. After college, he worked on music videos and short films until 1997 when he was commissioned to direct Nature Boy, a four-part mini-series for BBC2. Nature Boy was awarded Best Drama Serial by the Royal Television Society.  This was followed by several other highly acclaimed, nominated, and awarded mini-series, including Bob and Rose written by Russell T Davies, Bodily Harm starring Timothy Spall, George Cole and Lesley Manville; and Charles II for the BBC1, starring Rufus Sewell, which won the BAFTA for Best Drama Serial.

Wright made his feature film directorial debut in 2005 with Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen, Rosamund Pike, Donald Sutherland, Brenda Blethyn and with Carey Mulligan, in her first screen appearance.  The critically-acclaimed film won Wright BAFTA’s Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer in Their First Feature Film.  He was also honored with the London Critics’ Circle Film Award for British Director of the Year and the Boston Society of Film Critics’ award for Best New Filmmaker. Pride & Prejudice was nominated for five additional BAFTA Awards, four Academy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards.

Wright’s second feature Atonement, based on Ian McEwan’s novel, stars Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Saoirse Ronan. The film received thirteen BAFTA Award nominations, and won for Best Film and Best Production Design; received seven Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, and won the Academy Award for Best Original Score; received seven Golden Globe Award nominations, winning awards for Best Picture [Drama] and Best Original Score.

Wright next directed The Soloist, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, followed by the sleeper hit Hanna with an electro music score by The Chemical Brothers, starring Saoirse Ronan and Cate Blanchett.

In 2011, Wright directed Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jude Law, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander--in her first English-speaking role--from a screenplay penned by Tom Stoppard.  The film was nominated for six BAFTA awards and four Academy Awards, taking home both trophies for Best Costume Design.

In 2015, Wright directed Pan, an origin story of the beloved Peter Pan characters, starring Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara and Levi Miller.

In 2016, Wright directed the acclaimed “Nosedive” episode of the television series Black Mirror, which starred Bryce Dallas Howard in the leading role and earned her a Screen Actors Guild nomination.

Wright made his debut in the theatre world in 2013 at the Donmar Warehouse with Trelawny of the Wells, an Arthur Pinero play re-worked by Patrick Marber. This was followed by the critically acclaimed A Season in the Congo at the Young Vic Theatre starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, and most recently Life of Galileo at the Young Vic Theatre, featuring music by The Chemical Brothers.

Wright is a director of Shoebox Films, a London based film and television production company which, among other work, produced Steve Nights’ critically acclaimed and multi-award winning thriller Locke starring Tom Hardy.

Wright lives in London with his wife, classical sitarist Anoushka Shankar, and their two sons.

Wright will be the 13th CAS Filmmaker Honoree.  Past honorees have been: Jon Favreau, Jay Roach, Richard Linklater, Edward Zwick, Jonathan Demme, Rob Marshall, Taylor Hackford, Henry Selick, Paul Mazursky, Bill Condon, Gil Cates and Quentin Tarantino.

Also being honored that evening with the CAS Career Achievement Award is previously announced recipient, re-recording Mixer Anna Behlmer.  During the awards ceremony the CAS will also present the CAS Student Recognition Award to one of five student finalists.

The 54th CAS Awards will honor Outstanding Achievements in Sound Mixing in seven categories: Motion Pictures, Animated Motion Pictures, Documentary Motion Pictures, Television Movies and Mini-Series, Television Series-One Hour, Television Series-Half Hour and Television-Non-Fiction, Variety, Music Series or Specials.

The Cinema Audio Society, a philanthropic, non-profit organization, was formed in 1964 for the purpose of sharing information with sound professionals in the motion picture and television industry.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017
ICG Publicists Awards to present Lifetime Achievement honor to Betty White
Betty White

Betty White, legendary actress and producer, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 55th Annual International Cinematographers Guild (ICG, IATSE Local 600) Publicists Awards Luncheon to be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 2, 2018.

ICG national president Steven Poster, ASC, said, “Betty White is a joy and a national treasure. She brings a smile to the nation’s face and the ICG is honored to celebrate her inspiring accomplishments.”

Upon learning that she was to receive this award, White said, “It is such an honor to be recognized for a lifetime of doing what you love. I do not ever take it for granted.”

Comedy icon White is one of the funniest and busiest actresses in Hollywood, even at the age of 95.  With a career that has spanned more than 70 years, the seven-time Emmy® Award winner has created unforgettable roles in television and film, authored eight books and won numerous awards, including those for her lifelong work for animal welfare. Most recently, she won a People’s Choice Award for “Favorite TV Icon,””was named “America’s Most Appealing Celebrity” by Reuters and has been added to the Guinness World Records under the title, “Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female).” She has starred in such shows as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Carol Burnett Show, The Golden Girls and more recently Hot in Cleveland.

Henri Bollinger and Tim Menke return as chairs for this year’s awards, which traditionally occur the week leading up to the Academy Awards®. Nominations for the ICG Publicists Awards will be announced in January, 2018. Final online balloting will be held Jan. 17--Feb. 9. 

  • Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017
Thalia makes directorial debut with HBO doc on quinceaneras
This image released by HBO shows a scene from "15: A Quinceanera Story," a documentary co-directed by Thalia and premiering on Tuesday. (HBO via AP)

Thirty years after she starred in the telenovela "Quinceanera," Thalia makes her directorial debut with an HBO documentary about the importance in Latin culture of celebrating a girl's 15th birthday.

"15: A Quinceanera Story," premiering Tuesday, includes four episodes to be aired during consecutive nights. They go from a transgender teen who shares her celebration with her trans godmothers who didn't have a chance to have their own quinceanera to an amateur female boxer whose father was deported and whose devoted coach faces the same fate.

"This documentary comes from my need to tell the story of the Hispanic community, of the families that regardless of their social class, regardless of borders, make anything needed to celebrate a party where a girl will stop being a girl and will become the woman that's going to face her life from then on," Thalia said in a recent interview.

"It's such a beautiful story to see how families make every possible effort to give her a party ... to dress her with those dreamy dresses. And the union and the love, that to me was the important thing to share in these moments where everything around us, what we read in the newspaper, what we hear in the news, is negative, is upsetting, is about death, is about pain," the Mexican singer and actress said. "I want to bring some love, some light, some hope, some family, some romanticism, some dreams with this documentary."

Co-directed by Matthew O'Neill and executive produced by music mogul Tommy Mottola, who is Thalia's husband, "15: A Quinceanera Story" starts with an episode about Zoey, a Mexican-American transgender girl who Thalia says has been the most emotional for her.

"I think that seeing her beaming, happy, celebrating her 15 years of age with her trans-godmothers, who were also there and were seeing her as a milestone in these times, in this society we live in, I think is a truly striking, beautiful image to see."

She gave Zoey a special gift: a dress designed for her by Mitzy, the same designer who created Thalia's wedding dress in 2000.

Thalia, who starred in Televisa's 1987 "Quinceanera" — considered one of the most influential telenovelas of the time for tackling issues like substance abuse, date rape and gangs — didn't have a traditional quincenera party. She said she wanted "a totally different dress" in a totally different setting.

"I wanted a tube dress, close-fitting down to the ankles, with a band on my forehead and a giant bun, very '80s, and long gloves. And instead of a party hall I celebrated it in a nightclub," she said. "But when I did the telenovela the following year, that's when it hit me and I fell in love with all the tradition of the big dress, the dance partners, of that waltz that I didn't want to have but that I ended up having in the telenovela and it was magical.

"To me this is such an important, wonderful ... tradition. ... It is a family tradition that's very much us, that's very Latin, and it is beautiful."

  • Monday, Dec. 18, 2017
ESPN chief Skipper resigns, cites substance abuse problem
In this July 21, 2016 file photo, ESPN president John Skipper gestures as he talks about the new ACC/ESPN Network during a news conference at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

John Skipper, president of the sprawling ESPN sports network, said Monday that he is resigning to treat a substance abuse problem.

Skipper's sudden announcement will force the Walt Disney Co.-owned network to search for new leadership at a time of retrenchment, with the company losing subscribers due to cord-cutters and working to boost its digital output to follow the migration of young sports fans to their smartphones.

The 61-year-old executive, who has worked at ESPN since 1997 and has led the company since 2012, said he's struggled for many years with substance addiction but gave no details of his specific problem. He said he had concluded that now is the time to deal with it.

"I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down," he said. "As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding."

The sports network said Skipper's predecessor, George Bodenheimer, has agreed to serve as acting head of the company for the next 90 days.

Disney Co. chief executive Robert Iger said he wishes Skipper well during a challenging time. "I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family," Iger said.

There was no public indication that this was coming. Earlier this year, Skipper signed a contract extension to keep him at ESPN through 2021 and last week spoke about the company's plans in New York at the Sports Video Group Summit. He told the group of industry experts that ESPN's growing digital audience is making up for the loss of television viewers.

He also called hundreds of ESPN's on-air talent to a summit last week at company headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, to talk about the business. ESPN has laid off personnel this year to deal with new economic realities.

Disney's proposed purchase of several of 21st Century Fox's assets, if approved, is likely to add the 22 Fox-owned regional sports networks to ESPN's portfolio.

ESPN is also not escaping the current focus on sexual misconduct. ESPN quickly canceled a show earlier this year produced in partnership with Barstool Sports after some questions were raised about content, and the Boston Globe reported last week about several current and former employees describing a "locker room culture" at the network that is hostile to women.

Skipper received public support online from several media figures, among them ESPN's anchor Jemele Hill — who Skipper suspended earlier this year for violating the network's social media policy. Hill had criticized President Donald Trump and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in tweets.

"John Skipper is one of the finest people I've ever worked for," Hill tweeted.

Associated Press Business Writer Tali Arbel in New York contributed to this report.

  • Monday, Dec. 18, 2017
Twitter rolls out stricter rules on abusive content
This Wednesday, April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter app on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Twitter has begun enforcing stricter policies on violent and abusive content like hateful images or symbols, including those attached to user profiles.

The new guidelines, which were first announced one month ago, were put into place Monday.

Monitors at the company will weigh hateful imagery in the same way they do graphic violence and adult content.

If a user wants to post symbols or images that might be considered hateful, the post must be marked "sensitive media." Other users would then see a warning that would allow them to decide whether to view the post.

Twitter is also prohibiting users from abusing or threatening others through their profiles or usernames.

While the new guidelines became official on Monday, the social media company continues to work out internal monitoring tools and it is revamping the appeals process for banned or suspended accounts. But the company will also begin accepting reports from users.

Users can report profiles, or users, that they consider to be in violation of Twitter policy. Previously, users could only report individual posts they deemed offensive.

Now being targeted are "logos, symbols, or images whose purpose is to promote hostility and malice against others based on their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin."

There is no specific list, however, of banned symbols or images. Rather, the company will review complaints individually to consider the context of the post or profile, including cultural and political considerations.

It is also broadening existing policies intended to reduce threatening content, to include imagery that glorifies or celebrates violent acts. That content will be removed and repeat offenders will be banned. Beginning Monday, the company will ban accounts affiliated with "organizations that use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes."

While more content is banned, the company has provided more leeway for itself after it was criticized for strict rules that resulted in account suspensions.

There was a backlash against Twitter after it suspending the account of actress Rose McGowan who opened a public campaign over sexual harassment and abuse, specifically naming Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Twitter eventually reinstated McGowan's account and said that it had been suspended because of a tweet that violated its rules on privacy.

"In our efforts to be more aggressive here, we may make some mistakes and are working on a robust appeals process," Twitter said in its blog post.

Twitter relies in large part on user reports to identify problematic accounts and content, but the company said it is developing "internal tools" to bolster its ability to police content.

Twitter also seeks to improve communications with users about the decisions it makes. That includes telling those who have been suspended which rules they had violated.

  • Monday, Dec. 18, 2017
Procter & Gamble agrees to add activist investor to board
Trian Partners hedge fund manager Nelson Peltz is interviewed by CNBC's Sara Eisen after Procter & Gamble's annual shareholders meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Cincinnati. (Kareem Elgazzar/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP)

Procter & Gamble is adding Nelson Peltz to its board of directors, ending a proxy battle with the activist investor who has been seeking to shake up the consumer products giant.

The announcement came after Peltz last month claimed to have won a shareholder vote to add him to the board, beating out incumbent director former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo by a fraction of a percent. The company claimed, however, that the vote was too close to call.

On Friday, Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. said Zedillo and 10 others were re-elected. But it said that because Peltz had garnered so much shareholder support, he will be given a seat on the board starting March 1. Joseph Jimenez, the CEO of pharmaceutical company Novartis, was also added to the board.

Peltz's Trian Fund Management owns about $3.5 billion in P&G shares and has urged the maker of products like Pampers diapers, Tide detergent and Crest toothpaste to streamline its corporate structure and cut costs.

Procter & Gamble said it had "numerous discussions" with Peltz about the board seat leading up to Friday's announcement. It said they agreed the company should not to take on excessive debt, slash research and development spending or be broken up.

  • Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017
HBO's documentary chief, Sheila Nevins, leaving network
In this April 4, 2016 file photo, Sheila Nevins, left, Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt and Liz Garbus attend the premiere of "Nothing Left Unsaid" at the Time Warner Center in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

The woman who has run HBO's documentary unit for 38 years and has been a key gatekeeper in the making of its nonfiction films says she will be stepping down early next year.

Sheila Nevins has worked on productions that have won 32 Emmy Awards, 42 Peabody Awards and 26 Academy Awards.

She told The New York Times that she'll be leaving but will continue to work on some leftover projects for HBO.

The 78-year-old said she is also considering a radio show and a book.