Monday, November 20, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 41 - 50 of 2719
  • Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017
Film about Russian czar's romance to premiere amid hostility
Alexei Uchitel, Russian film director of "Matilda," a movie about the last Russian czar's affair with a ballerina smileas as he speak to the media at the Mariinsky Theatre in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

A film inspired by the love affair between a ballerina and Russia's last czar is having its Moscow premiere despite sparking outrage from some Russians.

Hard-line nationalists and some Orthodox believers see "Matilda" as blasphemy against Emperor Nicholas II, who is glorified as a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church.

The controversy has highlighted the increasing assertiveness of radical religious activists and a growing conservative streak in Russia's society.

The film loosely tells the story of Nicholas II's infatuation with ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya.

What started out nearly a year ago as a petition campaign to protest the film took violent turns in recent months. Molotov cocktails were thrown at the director's film studio and his lawyer's car set on fire.

Director Alexei Uchitel calls Tuesday's premiere "a victory for all reasonable people."

  • Monday, Oct. 23, 2017
Deadline extended for NYWIFT Ravenal Foundation Feature Film Grant

The deadline to apply for the New York Women In Film and Television (NYWIFT) Ravenal Foundation Feature Film Grant has been extended to November 1.

The grant will support a woman second-time feature film director who is over 40 years of age in the production of a dramatic feature film with $7,500. Grant funds may be used for pre-production, production or postproduction.

Grant-seekers must have previously directed a dramatic feature film or feature documentary that was released theatrically in the United States or included in a major film festival, or a feature-length television movie shown on a national TV platform. Women who have directed one dramatic feature (for theatrical or TV) or more than one feature documentary are eligible. Applicants must be U.S. residents and the works must be primarily in English.

Click here for the grant application.


  • Monday, Oct. 23, 2017
CBS All Access gives "Star Trek: Discovery" a second season
Executive producers Akiva Goldsman, from left, Heather Kadin, Gretchen Berg, Aaron Harberts and Alex Kurtzman and actors James Frain, Sonequa Martin-Green, Mary Chieffo and Jason Isaacs participate in the "Star: Trek Discovery" panel during the CBS Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at CBS Studio Center on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

CBS All Access says it has renewed "Star Trek: Discovery" for a second season.

The announcement on Monday comes just weeks after the series' premiere on CBS' digital video-streaming service. Since then, the series has driven subscriber growth, critical acclaim and global fan interest, the network says.

The series, whose cast includes Sonequa Martin-Green, Jason Isaacs and Anthony Rapp, is the latest iteration of the "Star Trek" franchise. It's available exclusively on CBS All Access.

  • Monday, Oct. 23, 2017
Justin Timberlake invited back to Super Bowl halftime show
In this Sept. 23, 2017, file photo, Justin Timberlake performs at the Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival in Franklin, Tenn. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)

Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

The NFL announced Sunday night that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota.

This will be Timberlake's third Super Bowl halftime performance, the most for any entertainer. Timberlake performed at the 2001 Super Bowl with N'Sync, and he sang "Rock Your Body" with Jackson in 2004 in Houston. That performance concluded with Timberlake ripping her costume to reveal her right breast bare except for a nipple shield.

During an interview broadcast at halftime of NBC's "Sunday Night Football," Timberlake laughed off questions about a repeat of the infamous moment, which drew CBS a $550,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission that was later overturned.

"That won't happen this time," he said.

Timberlake has won 10 Grammys, and the Tennessee native also has won four Emmys. He said the best Super Bowl performances have spoken to the mood of the nation.

"What I really want to do is take the opportunity to put together a performance that feels like it unifies," Timberlake said. "I feel like that would be the ultimate accomplishment, and then the icing on the cake is at some point within that 12 minutes that everybody is shaking their booty."

  • Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017
Palestinian festival drops film over director's Israel trips
In this Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 file photo, Lebanese film director Ziad Doueiri, speaks to journalists after being released by a military court, in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- 

A Palestinian film festival on Sunday canceled the screening of a movie by a Lebanese-French director following pressure by activists who opposed his previous work in Israel.

"The Insult," the latest movie by director Ziad Doueiri, was set to close the Palestinian Days of Cinema festival on Monday and was competing for the festival's top award.

But after a charged campaign by activists on social media, the city of Ramallah, which was hosting the screening, told the festival to scrap the showing, according to Khulood Badawi, a spokeswoman for the festival, which agreed to the cancellation. It was not clear if the film was still eligible for an award.

Doueiri's previous film, "The Attack," about a Palestinian surgeon living in Tel Aviv who discovers that his wife carried out a deadly suicide attack, was filmed in Israel and featured several Israeli actors. That film was banned in Lebanon and most Arab countries. Last month, Lebanese authorities briefly detained the Paris-based Doueiri because of his visits to Israel.

"The director showed no remorse, and insisted on his stand, and we think screening any of his work at a Palestinian cinema festival would be a big mistake" said Abed Hamayel, an activist who campaigned against the film's screening.

A segment of Palestinians has long called for Arab political, economic and cultural leaders to boycott Israel as a way to prevent normalizing ties with the Jewish state. An international movement of activists also calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against people or companies doing business with Israel.

Doueiri could not be reached for comment, but Kamel Elbasha, a Palestinian actor who stars in the film, criticized the decision.

"Ziad was punished for that movie which was banned in all Arab countries," he said, adding that the activists were "mixing things up, lying and distorting facts," and questioning their motives. Elbasha won the best actor award for his role in the film at the Venice Film Festival in September.

Film Lab Palestine, the group behind the Palestinian festival, noted that "The Insult," was being screened in Lebanon and in other festivals in the Middle East. The film, which focuses on a tense exchange between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee, explores the fraught place of Palestinians in Lebanese society.

"'The Insult' was selected for this year's edition of the festival since it addresses an important issue for the Palestinian people," said a statement from the group. It also said the film was selected because it stars Elbasha, who hails from east Jerusalem.

  • Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017
Directors Guild files disciplinary charges against Weinstein
In this March 2, 2014 file photo, Harvey Weinstein arrives at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

The Directors Guild of America announced Saturday it has filed disciplinary charges against disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

The group said it filed the charges on Oct. 13.

Weinstein has been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Producers Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in the weeks since The New York Times and The New Yorker published exposes alleging decades of sexual misconduct by Weinstein.

The Television Academy, which bestows Emmy awards, said a disciplinary hearing set for November could lead to termination of his membership.

More than 40 women have accused the 65-year-old Weinstein of harassment or abuse.

Actresses including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Lupita Nyong'o have accused Weinstein of harassment, while actresses Asia Argento and Rose McGowan said he raped them.

Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

The directors guild issued a statement condemning sexual harassment in general following a board meeting New York on Saturday.

"There must be no tolerance for such deplorable abuses of power," the statement said. "This isn't about one person. We must recognize sexual harassment is endemic in our society, and painfully, in our industry."

The group added that "every individual has the right to a safe workplace."

An attorney for Weinstein did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

  • Friday, Oct. 20, 2017
George R.R. Martin makes case for New Mexico filming incentives
Author and film producer George R. R. Martin, left, speaks in Santa Fe, N.M., Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Martin waded into the politics of movie-industry tax breaks on Thursday while endorsing a prominent Democratic candidate for governor of New Mexico. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- 

Author and film producer George R. R. Martin waded into the politics of movie-industry tax breaks on Thursday while endorsing a prominent Democratic candidate for governor of New Mexico.

Martin, a longtime Santa Fe resident and author of fantasy novels behind the "Game of Thrones" television series, made a plea to raise or eliminate New Mexico's $50 million annual limit on the state's tax incentive for film production.

At an hour-long forum about New Mexico's film industry, Martin sat alongside Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018 who this week announced she would seek to expand tax incentives for film and television production and look for ways to encourage the construction of new production studio space.

Martin described a cutthroat competitive environment of the film industry, and his own budding efforts to attract more movie production to Santa Fe by offering low-cost office space at a building provided to him posthumously by an estate. Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen currently are utilizing the building through Martin's nonprofit Stagecoach Foundation.

"We're in competition with Texas and Arizona and Utah," Martin said. "How do we compete? ... Obviously the incentives are a big part of it. We have to get rid of this (state tax incentive) cap."

Martin quipped that he like caps — "but only on my head." He said that limiting the tax credit is "like saying, 'We have enough jobs, we don't need any more jobs. We're going to cap the number of jobs?'"

Earlier this year, a bill to raise the annual limit on the film tax credit and link future annual increase to inflation failed to win approval in the Democratic-led Legislature.

Analysts with the nonpartisan Legislative Finance Committee have cautioned against film tax incentive increases that could outpace tax revenue growth and put new pressure on the state general fund. New Mexico state government has slashed spending at several agencies and public universities this year, after depleting financial reserves amid a downturn in tax revenues linked a tepid economy and weak oil prices.

Measured in terms of direct job creation per dollar — without considering indirect economic benefits — the film tax credit scored poorly in comparison with other state subsidies, analysts found.

Martin and Lujan Grisham highlighted the sometimes intangible benefits of the film production, as tourists are drawn to the state by on-screen images, from the Robert Redford's 1988 "The Milagro Beanfield War" shot in Northern New Mexico, to the "Breaking Bad" series that still draws steady streams of cult fans to Albuquerque shooting locations.

"The film industry is one of those bright spots that we can focus on immediately and it's pretty easy," Lujan Grisham said. "We want to double the number of films that we're doing. ... We want to lift the cap. If you're really going to be open for business, be open for business."

She described film as an industry that "pays for itself." Public funds have contributed to the construction of production studios in New Mexico.

The discussion took place at a downtown art-house cinema that Martin restored and owns. The discussion was joined by Tesuque resident Tony Mark, executive producer of "The Hurt Locker," and producer and documentary filmmaker Andrea Meditch.

State officials say more than 60 film and television productions were shot in the state during the past fiscal year. TV series and pilots produced in New Mexico over the last year include "Better Call Saul," ''The Night Shift," ''Longmire," and Netflix's "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs."

  • Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017
Harvey Weinstein leaves the board of his film company
In this March 2, 2014 file photo, Harvey Weinstein arrives at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Harvey Weinstein is leaving the board of the film company he started, more than a week after the firm fired him following allegations of sexual harassment and rape.

The Weinstein Co.'s board said in a statement Tuesday that Weinstein had resigned. Weinstein holds a roughly 20 percent stake in his company, according to a person close to Weinstein who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The person declined to comment on the future of that holding.

His departure from the company comes as it deals with turmoil in the aftermath of more than three dozen women publicly accusing Weinstein of abuse. Industry players have cut ties, or threatened to cut ties , with The Weinstein Co. The Producers Guild of America has started the process of expelling Weinstein, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group behind the Oscars, has revoked his membership.

Board member Tarak Ben Ammar said Monday that it was negotiating a potential sale of all or part of the company, which was founded in 2005 by Weinstein and his brother Bob Weinstein after they left Disney.

Bob Weinstein had maintained last week that business was continuing "as usual" for the company and that its board was not exploring a sale or shutdown.

Company representatives did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017
Showrunner alleges sexual harassment by Bob Weinstein
In this March 28, 2005 file photo, Miramax co-founder Bob Weinstein appears at a premiere of "Sin City," in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Spike network is investigating reports of sexual harassment by the brother of disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein against the female showrunner of a series produced by The Weinstein Co. and aired on Spike.

Amanda Segel, a former executive producer of the sci-fi series "The Mist," claims Bob Weinstein made repeated overtures to her that included invitations to dinner, to his home and to a hotel room, according to a story published Tuesday by Variety.

"We take all allegations of this nature very seriously, and are investigating," Spike said in a statement.

She says the propositions began in June 2016 and were put to a stop a few months later only after Segel's lawyer gave Weinstein Co. executives an ultimatum that Segel would leave the show if Weinstein persisted.

An arrangement reportedly was struck that restricted Weinstein's contact with Segel while she was doing her job. ("The Mist" was recently cancelled after a 10-episode first season.)

Bert Fields, an attorney for Weinstein, strongly refuted the allegations.

"Variety's story is riddled with false and misleading assertions by Miss Segel," Fields said. "Even if you believed anything that she said, it contains not a hint of any inappropriate touching, or even a request for such touching."

"I've known Bob Weinstein for many years," Fields added, "and he's the last guy that would be involved in any form of sexual harassment."

Segel's attorney, David Fox, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Segel's accusations came to light just two weeks after an explosive story by The New York Times reported on older brother Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual harassment and assault of women spanning several decades. That story was followed by another expose in The New Yorker.

Since those stories surfaced, more than three dozen women have spoken up with additional accusations. Harvey Weinstein was fired from the company he co-founded with Bob, and on Tuesday resigned from its board. He lost his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Producers Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. The very future of The Weinstein Co. is currently in doubt.

In the meantime, Bob Weinstein has publicly condemned his brother while professing he was unaware that Harvey had engaged in any non-consensual relations with women.

"I'm mortified and disgusted by my brother's actions. And I am sick for the victims," he said in an interview by The Hollywood Reporter published Saturday.

Until now, no such accusations had been made against Bob Weinstein.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017
Han Solo "Star Wars" spinoff film finally has a title
In this Nov. 10, 2016 file photo, Alden Ehrenreich arrives at the world premiere of "Rules Don't Apply" in Los Angeles. The young Han Solo Star Wars spinoff, starring Ehrenreich in the role originated by Harrison Ford, finally has a title: “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” It is set for a May 25, 2018 release. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

The young Han Solo Star Wars spinoff film finally has a title: "Solo: A Star Wars Story."

Director Ron Howard announced the title Tuesday in a Twitter video celebrating production wrap on the anthology film starring Alden Ehrenreich as the grumpy space smuggler originated by Harrison Ford.

The film also stars Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newtown and focuses on Han and Chewbacca before they joined the rebellion.

The film has had some well-known production turmoil. Deep into the shoot directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller abruptly left the project and were replaced by Howard.

"Solo: A Star Wars Story" is set for a May 25, 2018, release.