Friday, January 18, 2019

News Briefs

Displaying 41 - 50 of 3373
  • Monday, Dec. 24, 2018
Ex-Disney actor charged with 6 counts in underage sex case
This undated photo provided by the Disney Channel on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 shows Stoney Westmoreland as Henry "Ham" Mack in Salt Lake City. (Craig Sjodin/Disney Channel via AP)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- 

Former Disney Channel actor Stoney Westmoreland has been charged with six felony counts after authorities said he tried to have sex with a 13-year-old boy.

Prosecutors say the 48-year-old Westmoreland was on the dating app Grindr when he found a profile operated by a police detective in Salt Lake City, near the location of the show "Andi Mack."

A message left with Westmoreland's agent, Mitchell Stubbs, was not immediately returned.

Charging documents say Westmoreland was arrested Dec. 13 after he took a car to meet the boy so they could go back to his hotel room.

Charges filed Friday include attempted exploitation of a minor and enticing a minor.

Westmoreland has been dropped from his role as the grandfather of the teenage title character in the Disney show.

Westmoreland's other acting credits include "Scandal" and "Breaking Bad."

  • Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018
For Saoirse Ronan, "Queen of Scots" role provided room to grow
This image released by Focus Features shows Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart in a scene from "Mary Queen of Scots." (Liam Daniel/Focus Features via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Saoirse Ronan says she was "more than ready" to make the transition on film, and in real life, from young girl to commanding woman. Her new role in "Mary Queen of Scots," gave her the opportunity to do both.

Ronan, who is Irish, says she was not only excited to play Mary Stuart, a Celtic woman who ruled Scotland in the 16th century, but also to take on such a meaty part.

Nominated for Oscars for roles in "Atonement," ''Brooklyn" and last year's awards season favorite, "Lady Bird," Ronan, 24, has often played girls who are still finding their way in the world. But "Mary Queen of Scots" provided the transition to full womanhood as her character falls in love, becomes a mother, and rides a horse into battle.

"Playing Mary offered me so much as an actor. It's the first time that I've played someone who really comes into their womanhood and is very sort of settled and comfortable in that stage of their life," Ronan says. "Doing the labor scene especially, it was just a really, really empowering scene ... and I think just getting to play someone who can, you know scream and be sweaty, and you know enjoy sex and go onto the battlefield and do all of these things was really liberating for me."

Her character also faces betrayal from both family and political factions who didn't always respect a woman in power. In the film, Scots who wanted Queen Mary to lose her position fabricated rumors to sway the public against her. The negative rhetoric may resonate with modern audiences.

"It totally mirrors exactly what's happening now and what has kind of always happened to, especially I think, women in politics — the way they're shamed and the way they're ridiculed for basically anything that isn't their policy." Ronan went on to say "it's been really interesting to see how people have been able to pick up on so many things in the film that were taking place 500 years ago that are still very much a common occurrence now."

Ronan says she always wanted to collaborate with Margot Robbie, who plays Queen Elizabeth I in "Mary."  The two actresses decided it would be best for on-screen tension if they didn't see each other until their one scene together.

"By the time we actually saw each other which was in a take, and the camera shot us both at the same time, it was just the best buzz ever," Ronan says.

Playing a formidable queen was like "gold dust" but Ronan says she's also attracted to characters who are vulnerable and damaged.

"It's great to play really strong women, but also I just really want to play very well written roles. So even if they are a bit of a mess or a bit ditzy or whatever, I don't mind that."

"Mary Queen of Scots" is in theaters now.

  • Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018
Peter Masterson, actor, writer and filmmaker, dead at 84
This undated image shows playwright, filmmaker and actor Peter Masterson. Masterson. (D. Fahleson/Houston Chronicle via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Peter Masterson, the playwright, filmmaker and actor whose credits ranged from co-writing the Tony-winning musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" to directing the movie adaptation of "The Trip to Bountiful," has died.

Masterson's son, also called Peter, says his father died Tuesday from complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 84 and died at his home in Kinderhook, New York.

Born Carlos Masterson, but known as Peter because his father preferred that name, Masterson often worked with family members. His cousin was playwright Horton Foote, who wrote the stage version of "The Trip to Bountiful." His wife, Carlin Glynn, won a Tony for "Best Little Whorehouse." His daughter, Mary Stuart Masterson, made her film debut in "The Stepford Wives," in which he starred as her father.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018
Tribeca Film Institute, Pond5 team on initiative for emerging filmmakers
A scene from "Solace," one of the films receiving a TFI and Pond5 grant (photo by Bruce Francis Cole)
NEW YORK -- 

Tribeca Film Institute® (TFI) and Pond5 have entered into a partnership to launch a forward-thinking filmmaking fund and ongoing industry program aimed at promoting sustainable careers for independent storytellers.

TFI worked closely with Pond5, a leading stock video marketplace, to develop a program that speaks to the needs of filmmakers who lack resources during “in-between” phases such as research, creative collaboration, festival travel, content, community screenings, outside-the-box mentorship, and extra release support.

TFI and Pond5 designed this unique program to ensure that filmmakers with diverse backgrounds and a wide range of perspectives are provided an array of support to improve visibility in an ofteninaccessible, difficult-to-break-into industry. Support available through the program includes funding, targeted networking events, access to Pond5 content and mentorship programs, all designed to facilitate a sense of community for independent storytellers.

The program is funded by tax-deductible donations, allowing anyone to pledge their support. Additionally, Pond5 is matching donations. TFI alumnae and Pond5 artists can apply for micro-grants through the program three times a year, offering multiple opportunities to receive funding.

Applicants outline their needs during the application process so that the program can provide more targeted and flexible support.

TFI and Pond5 earlier this month hosted a Producers Networking event, bringing together emerging filmmakers and established producers to meet and discuss future projects, as well as announcing the first six grant recipients for 2019 at an event in Manhattan, following the networking event. 

“TFI’s mission is to break barriers in access, exposure, and sustainability,” said Amy Hobby, executive director of TFI. “We have assessed that there is a period of time in a project cycle when filmmakers need support not only financially, but also from peers and veterans of the industry. Partnering with Pond5, we’ve been able to create a very flexible fund and program that can meet those needs.” 

Pond5 CEO Jason Teichman added, “Pond5 prides itself on being the world’s most filmmaker-friendly creative marketplace. Helping filmmakers succeed in their craft is what we’re all about. As filmmakers ourselves, we know how hard it can be to secure the finances, resources, and footage necessary to tell your story. If we can play a small role in helping filmmakers tell an even better story, we feel like we’ve done our job. Through the Tribeca Film Institute Pond5 Program, we’re honored to further that goal and help more storytellers achieve and share their visions.”

TFI and Pond5 Filmmaker Fund Grantees

499 AÑOS (499 YEARS)
Creative Documentary Feature
Directed by: Rodrigo Reyes
Producers: Inti Cordera and Andrew Houchens
499 Years examines the brutal legacy of colonialism nearly five centuries after Cortez arrived in the Aztec Empire. Bold, unique, and strikingly cinematic, the film uses magical realism, combining documentary and fiction to show how past traumas continue to affect contemporary reality while challenging us to overcome our histories of violence.

DEATH OF NINTENDO
Scripted Feature
Directed by: Raya Martin
Writer/Producer: Valerie Castillo Martinez
Executive Producer: Whitaker Lader
Co-Producers: Jeremy Chua, Nikolo Juban
Set in 90’s suburban Manila, the story takes us into the colorful pop-culture world of four 13-year old friends, back in the days when videogames were still a novelty. Mimaw and her friends Paolo, Kachi, and Gilligan go on a journey of self-discovery together as they play games and wrestle with new dilemmas--puppy love, circumcision and other horror stories.

A HOLE TO HELL
Documentary Short
Directed by: Pawel Nazaruk & Tomasz Adamski
Producer: Pawel Nazaruk
The Cold War race to dig the deepest into the Earth reveals an entrance to Hell in arctic Russia. Forty years later, Yuri Smirnoff is the last man standing.

NO FAULT
Scripted Short
Director: Myna Joseph
Producers: Amy Lo, Lucy Owen, Lizzie Shapiro
Executive Producer: Lana Yang
Following a near-fatal car accident, Lu wrestles with creeping invisibility as she approaches the second half of her life. On this long winter day, she finds her physical identity fractured, ignored, misunderstood, and judged – but with wry humor and stubborn resilience, she’s determined to be seen.

SOLACE
Scripted Feature
Directed by: Tchaiko Omawale
Producers: Hope Olaide Wilson, Maya Emelle, Sophia Solomon
Co-Producers: Sabine Hoffman, Sascha Brown Rice
A 17year-old orphan is shipped off to her estranged grandmother and she plots her escape while navigating a foreign environment, new friendships and a hidden eating disorder.

SURVIVOR LOVE LETTER
AR Experience and Installation
Lead Artist & Executive Producer: Tani Ikeda
Lead Artist & Creative Director: Jess X. Snow
Additional Lead Artist: Layqa Nuna Yawar
Producer: Kevin Tsukii
Through a network of augmented reality murals centering Survivors of sexual assault, Survivor Love Letter presents a galaxy where survivors are not only believed and supported, but also loved unconditionally. Using our AR app, users can watch the mural and the love letter come to life through animation and read a library of love letters from survivors and allies all over the world, and ultimately have the option to add to the galaxy by writing their own.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018
Brightcove releases findings on consumer video streaming preferences
Brightcove CMO Sara Larsen
BOSTON -- 

Brightcove Inc. (NASDAQ: BCOV), a provider of cloud services for video, has announced the results of its 2018 Global Consumer Streaming Habits Survey, analyzing global consumer consumption preferences across generations when it comes to live and on-demand streaming video content. Among all respondents, 58 percent stream content at least once a week via a smart TV or external streaming device, 51 percent on a mobile device, and 50 percent on a computer or laptop. Millennials (19-36 year olds) lead the way in all categories reporting 72 percent, 73 percent, and 65 percent, respectively.

When analyzing all consumers’ (aged 18+) online video habits and preferences, the report found:

  • The most influential factor for consumers who are considering a new streaming service is cost (53 percent), followed by their interests being catered to (31 percent).
  • The top five reasons consumers will try out a new streaming service include a free trial (42 percent), a particular show (38 percent) exclusive content (29 percent), cross-device capability (28 percent), and a good user experience (26 percent).
  • TV is still the top device to consume content on (other options included mobile and computers) for regularly scheduled news (68 percent), regular season sports (69 percent), breaking news (54 percent), special sports events including title fights and championship games (66 percent), concerts (53 percent), and fashion shows (45 percent).
  • Advertisements and technical issues are the key spoilers for live streaming experiences, with too many ads (37 percent) and poor image or video quality (35 percent) being the top reasons for respondents having abandoned a live stream, followed by buffering (33 percent) and the live stream crashing (32 percent).

“Across all generations, consuming online video is now an integral part of our daily entertainment routines. Today, we’re seeing technology-savvy consumers stepping into decision making roles, making it even more critical to understand the motivations behind these decisions,” said Sara Larsen, CMO, Brightcove. “As the industry leader in online video, it’s our job to help our customers be successful with their video strategies, and with that comes staying on top of consumption and buying trends across generations. Today’s reality is every generation is consuming online video more than ever, so we want to ensure our customers have the knowledge and data needed to reach massive cross-generational audiences in a way that allows them to better connect with their viewers.” 

When analyzing Millennial online video streaming preferences, there were four takeaways to highlight:

  • 44 percent of Millennials describe themselves as “browsers” when looking for something to watch, while 26 percent of Millennials think of themselves as decisive.
  • Millennials feel far more satisfied consuming content through streaming service providers: 68 percent feel streaming service providers continually provide content they want to watch, compared to 55 percent who feel the same of broadcast networks and 53 percent for cable networks.
  • 11 percent of Millennials would embrace a subscription-based model to consume sports content, and 24 percent would embrace an ad-based model.
  • 63 percent of Millennials share their streaming logins with at least one other person.

Methodology
Figures are primarily from global market research firm YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 10,502 adults from the US, UK, France, Spain, Australia, Germany, Canada, and UAE. Fieldwork was undertaken between September 5th and 27th, 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US, UK, France, Spain, Australia, Germany, Canada, and UAE adults (aged 18+)

  • Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018
Consumer groups allege Google misleads kids in FTC complaint
In this his June 27, 2012 file photo, Vic Gundotra, Google SVP of Engineering, talks about Google Plus at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Nearly two dozen consumer, privacy and public health groups are urging U.S. regulators to investigate whether children are being endangered by deceptive apps in Google's app store for smartphones running on its Android software.

The 102-page complaint filed Wednesday with the Federal Trade Commission alleges Google's Play store is harming kids by allowing apps that break privacy laws, contain adult content or include manipulative advertising in a section of its Play store designed for children.

The call for FTC action is being led by two groups, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy, that have previously attacked Google's approach to kids. In April, they asked the FTC to crack down on Google's YouTube video site for alleged violations of children's online privacy.

Twenty other groups, including Consumer Action, Public Citizen and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, joined in the latest complaint.

Google issued a statement emphasizing its commitment to protecting children while they are online — one of the reasons the company says it prohibits targeted advertising at children under 13.

"We take these issues very seriously and continue to work hard to remove any content that is inappropriately aimed at children from our platform," Google said.

More than 2 billion devices worldwide are powered by Google software, with a significant number of those being used by minors. The complaint focuses on alleged misconduct under U.S. laws and regulations.

The attempt to pressure the FTC to open an investigation comes amid an intensifying backlash against Google, Facebook and other companies that make most of their money by using their free services to track people's interests and whereabouts and then mining that information to sell ads targeted at them.

The angst has raised the specter of Congress drawing up tougher regulations to curb the tech industry's power and restrict its ability to compile digital dossiers about the people who have become increasingly dependent on its services.

Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island who has been critical of Google, issued a statement supporting the groups seeking an FTC investigation as did Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico.

"It is past time for the Federal Trade Commission to crack down to protect children's privacy," Udall said in a statement.

Although the FTC doesn't typically comment on whether it will investigate issues raised in complaints, it has punished both Google and Apple for what it deemed to be child exploitation in the past.

In 2014, it reached a settlement requiring Google to refund $19 million for allowing apps distributed through its store to charge children for purchases made without parents' consent. That came after a similar agreement required Apple to refund $32.5 million for in-app purchases made on iPhones, iPads and other devices without parents' permission.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018
Some advertisers leave Carlson show after immigrant comments
In this March 2, 2017, file photo, Tucker Carlson, host of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
ATLANTA (AP) -- 

Some advertisers say they are leaving conservative host Tucker Carlson's show following his remarks that immigrants could make the U.S. "poorer and dirtier."

It's the latest example of sponsors leaving a Fox News Channel show after controversy, but experts say the flap is likely to blow over. So far, the show's biggest advertisers appear to be sticking with him and his primetime show, "Tucker Carlson Tonight."

Carlson said last Thursday that there's pressure from "our leaders" to accept immigrants "even if it makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided." He added Monday that in the Southwest, "thanks to illegal immigration, huge swaths of the region are covered with garbage and waste that degrade the soil and kill wildlife."

The comments caused a furor on social media. Several advertisers, including the IHOP restaurant chain, personal finance website NerdWallet and Pacific Life insurance, have pulled advertising from the show. (NerdWallet is a content partner of The Associated Press.) SmileDirectClub said it is working with its ad buyers to stop running ads during any political opinion shows.

"As a company, we strongly disagree with Mr. Carlson's statements," Pacific Life said in a tweet Thursday. "Our customer base and our workforce reflect the diversity of our great nation, something we take great pride in."

IHOP spokeswoman Stephanie Peterson said the chain continually evaluates ad placements to make sure they align with the company's values of "welcoming all folks from all backgrounds and beliefs." She said the company will continue to advertise on other Fox News programs.

Earlier this year, Laura Ingraham lost some advertisers after she made negative comments about Florida school shooting survivor David Hogg. And last year, Bill O'Reilly saw advertisers abandon him following reports of sexual-misconduct complaints against him; he left the network shortly afterward.

Fox News Channel said in a statement that "left wing advocacy groups" were using social media to "stifle free speech." The network said it "continues to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions." Fox added that all advertisers have switched their ads to other shows, so no revenue was lost.

Carlson said he would not back down to criticism.

"We're not intimidated," he wrote . "We plan to try to say what's true until the last day. And the truth is, unregulated mass immigration has badly hurt this country's natural landscape."

Most of Carlson's biggest advertisers are sticking with the show or staying mum.

MyPillow, which makes pillows and mattress toppers, has no plans to leave. It's the show's biggest advertiser in terms of dollars spent, according to Kantar Media.

"I make all of my advertising decisions based on what is best for MyPillow, my customers and my employees," MyPillow inventor and CEO Mike Lindell said in a statement Tuesday.

The number five top advertiser, AstraZeneca, said it would "continue to assess our advertising purchases regarding the heightened attention surrounding this matter," but did not announce any action.

The other top three advertisers, Rosland Capital, a precious metals asset firm, and weight-loss companies Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Allen Adamson, co-founder of brand consultancy Metaforce, said Tucker's comments, "while damaging in short term, will be supplanted by some other news event. No matter how polarizing your comments are, if you wait long enough someone else will say something more polarizing and take limelight away."

And advertisers often come back once the controversy dies down. In a statement, NerdWallet said it is pulling ads "at this time and will be reevaluating any ongoing advertising on this program."

Jeff Greenfield, co-founder of marketing measurement firm C3metrics, said these types of controversies are "usually short term" and amount to little more than a slap on the wrist. He said shows "don't feel it unless you permanently pull spending, and most people are not going to do that."

  • Monday, Dec. 17, 2018
"Tonight Show" to air episode in Puerto Rico with "Hamilton"
This combination photo shows actor Lin-Manuel Miranda at the "Mary Poppins Returns" premiere in London on Dec. 12, 2018, left, and TV late night host Jimmy Fallon at the opening night of "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical" in New York on April 23, 2018. (AP Photo)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" will air an episode next year from Puerto Rico including an exclusive performance with Lin-Manuel Miranda reprising his role in "Hamilton."

NBC announced Monday evening that Miranda and the new touring cast will appear in the episode Jan. 15. The telecast will focus on Puerto Rico's recovery efforts to rebuild and raise awareness after Hurricane Maria massively struck the island in 2017.

The episode will delve into how the deadly hurricane devastated Puerto Rico through widespread damage.

Miranda will reprise his lead role in "Hamilton" at the University of Puerto Rico from Jan. 8 to 27. The performances look to raise money for the Flamboyan Arts Fund to benefit the art, artists and arts institutions.

  • Monday, Dec. 17, 2018
Actor Geoffrey Rush accused of misconduct
In this May 18, 2017, file photo, Geoffrey Rush arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" at the Dolby Theatre. “Orange Is the New Black” actress Yael Stone alleges actor Geoffrey Rush engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior when they starred in “The Diary of a Madman” in 2010. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

"Orange Is the New Black" actress Yael Stone alleged actor Geoffrey Rush engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior when they starred in "The Diary of a Madman" in 2010.

Speaking to The New York Times , the 33-year-old said Rush danced naked in front of her in their dressing room, used a mirror to watch her while she showered and sent her occasionally erotic texts.

Stone said she "enthusiastically and willingly" replied to the texts from her fellow Australian actor when she was 25 and he was 59.

"I was so flattered that someone like that would spend their time texting me into the very early hours of the morning," she said. "Gradually the text messages became more sexual in nature, but always encased in this very highfalutin intellectual language."

"I'm embarrassed by the ways I participated," Stone said. "I certainly wouldn't engage as the person I am now in the way I did when I was 25."

Stone said she was trying to manage "uncomfortable moments" without offending the star.

In a statement , Rush said the allegations "are incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context."

"However, clearly Yael has been upset on occasion by the spirited enthusiasm I generally bring to my work. I sincerely and deeply regret if I have caused her any distress. This, most certainly, has never been my intention," Rush said.

A representative for Stone referred The Associated Press to her original comments. A Rush representative did not return an email seeking additional comments Monday morning.

The allegations came as Rush awaited a verdict in a defamation lawsuit that he filed in Australia.

Rush sued the Daily Telegraph's publisher, Nationwide News, and a journalist over two articles and a newspaper poster published in 2017. They related to a report he behaved inappropriately toward a co-star during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015 and 2016.

The Academy Award-winning actor denied the allegation.

A judge is expected to issue a ruling next year.

  • Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018
Disney actor Stoney Westmoreland fired after arrest
This undated photo provided by the Disney Channel on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 shows Stoney Westmoreland as Henry "Ham" Mack in Salt Lake City. In a statement Saturday, Disney announced that the 48-year-old Westmoreland had been dropped from the sitcom “Andi Mack." He was arrested for allegedly attempting to have a sexual relationship with an online acquaintance he believed was 13. (Craig Sjodin/Disney Channel via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Disney Channel actor Stoney Westmoreland has been fired after he was arrested in Salt Lake City for allegedly attempting to have a sexual relationship with an online acquaintance he believed was 13 years old.

In a statement Saturday, Disney announced that the 48-year-old Westmoreland had been dropped from the sitcom "Andi Mack," on which he plays the grandfather of the teen-age title character. The show films in Utah.

Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking told The Associated Press that Westmoreland was on his way to what he believed would be a sexual encounter when he was arrested Friday and charged with enticing a minor and sending inappropriate materials, including nude images. A message left with Westmoreland's agent, Mitchell Stubbs, was not immediately returned.

Westmoreland's other acting credits include "Scandal" and "Breaking Bad."

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