Friday, April 20, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 41 - 50 of 2962
  • Tuesday, Mar. 27, 2018
Heineken pulls light beer commercial after racism complaints
In this Dec. 9, 2008, file photo, visitors watch Heineken commercials on large screens at the Heineken Experience, Amsterdam. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

Heineken has removed a commercial for its light beer after some complaints that it was racist.

The ad featured a bartender sliding a bottle of Heineken light. The bottle passes several black people before it arrives to a lighter-skinned woman. The tag line: Sometimes lighter is better.

Hip-hop star Chance the Rapper on Sunday tweeted the commercial was "terribly racist." He said he thought some companies were purposely "putting out noticeably racist ads so they can get more views."

In a statement, Heineken says while the ad was referencing Heineken Light, "we missed the mark."

Heineken drew praise last year for its "Open Your World" commercials, which featured people of different backgrounds discussing their viewpoints.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 27, 2018
Reports: Facebook's Zuckerberg to testify before Congress
In this May 25, 2017, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Published reports say Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is planning to testify before Congress about how his company collects and uses people's data.

Citing unnamed sources, CNN said in a report Tuesday that Zuckerberg has "come to terms" with the fact that he'll have to testify in a matter of weeks. A Facebook representative said the company has received invitations to appear before congress and is talking to legislators but would not confirm Zuckerberg's attendance.

Zuckerberg said last week in a CNN interview that he'd be "happy to" testify if he is the right person to do it. The company is facing unprecedented scrutiny following reports that a data mining firm used ill-gotten data from tens of millions of its users to try to influence elections.

A spokeswoman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Tuesday that reports of Zuckerberg's confirmed attendance are "incorrect." But she added that the committee is "continuing to work with Facebook to determine a day and time for Mr. Zuckerberg to testify."

  • Tuesday, Mar. 27, 2018
Greg MacGillivray to receive New York Festivals Lifetime Achievement Award
Greg MacGillivray

New York Festivals Television & Film Awards will honor Greg MacGillivray, chairman/director of MacGillivray Freeman Films, with the 8th annual New York Festivals® Lifetime Achievement Award.

MacGillivray’s award-winning creative career will be honored at the New York Festivals Television & Film Awards gala on Tuesday, April 10, at the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas. New York Festivals is now in its 61st year of honoring the World’s Best TV & Films. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes prominent industry leaders whose accomplishments have advanced their field and made a lasting impression on the industry.

“My filmmaking for the giant-screen IMAX Theatre format is different from conventional filmmaking,” said MacGillivray.  “We put audience members in the film. They are immersed in the scene on the giant IMAX Theatre screen.  From the time I worked with Stanley Kubrick on The Shining through the time spent making 40 films for IMAX theatres, my creative team in Laguna Beach and I keep trying to push the film experience to new and unexpected levels.”

MacGillivray has been producing and directing award-winning films for more than 50 years. In that time, he has gone from surf films to Hollywood to the Smithsonian and IMAX and across the world. MacGillivray partnered with Jim Freeman to form MacGillivray Freeman Films in 1966 and today has more than 50 films to his credit. Since then, MacGillivray’s company has made 40 giant-screen films in some of the planet’s most exotic and challenging locations, such as the top of the world’s tallest mountain for the blockbuster documentary “Everest.” Throughout his illustrious career MacGillivray has personally shot more 70mm film than anyone in cinema history. He has created 5 of the top 10 highest-grossing IMAX films of all time and with 360 theaters worldwide showing his films, in 2003 he became the first documentary filmmaker to reach the $1 billion benchmark in worldwide ticket sales.

MacGillivray has received two Academy Award nominations for Best Documentary Short Subject: “The Living Sea” in 1995 and “Dolphins” in 2000. He and his team remain committed to using the best tools to capture the highest quality images and continue to make film experiences that go beyond the technology of our time.

A passionate ocean conservationist, MacGillivray and his wife Barbara founded the One World One Ocean Campaign and the non-profit MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation, multimedia initiatives dedicated to educating and inspiring the public through giant-screen films and companion programming about the need to protect the world’s ocean. To complement their documentary films, MacGillivray Freeman helps fund exhibits, teacher guides, companion photography books and educational resources to encourage interest in science, the environment, and world cultures. Their student-screening program has enabled more than 20,000 underserved students to experience their world through their films, and a scientist speaker program brings scientists face to face with kids in classrooms.

Through partnerships with corporations and individuals like Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Sting and Sir Paul McCartney, MacGillivray’s company has brought great brands to the giant screen and pioneered a new way to “force multiply” their educational reach.

The New York Festivals Television & Film Awards gala will also celebrate the 2018 World’s Best TV & Films, as well as, Broadcaster of the Year, Production Company of the Year, Program Promotion Team of the Year, and United Nations Department of Public Information Awards. 

This is the eighth year that NYF and their official partner, NAB Show, will present the competition to more than 103,000 attendees from 166 countries and over 1,700+ exhibiting companies. Award-winning entries will be showcased on the NYF Television & Film Awards website. To view all the 2018 Finalists, please click here.


  • Monday, Mar. 26, 2018
Starz commits to "Now Apocalypse" comedy series from Gregg Araki, Steven Soderbergh
A Feb. 12, 2013 file photo of director Steven Soderbergh at a press conference in Berlin. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

The Starz network, a Lionsgate company (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B), has greenlit the half-hour comedy series Now Apocalypse created and executive-produced by Gregg Araki (Kaboom, Mysterious Skin).  Araki will co-write and direct all 10 half-hour episodes of the sexy, vibrant and fast-moving series that has a flipside of mythic, dreamlike creepiness.

This surreal, coming-of-age comedy series follows Ulysses and his friends Carly, Ford and Severine, who are on various quests pursing love, sex and fame. Now Apocalypse explores identity, sexuality and artistry, while navigating the strange and oftentimes bewildering city of Los Angeles.  Between sexual and romantic dating app adventures, Ulysses grows increasingly troubled as foreboding premonitory dreams make him wonder--is some kind of dark and monstrous conspiracy going on, or is he just smoking too much weed? 

“Gregg brings an incredibly unique and adventurous story to the Starz brand and we cannot wait for the world to meet the bold, sexy and fun characters of Now Apocalypse,” said Carmi Zlotnik, president of programming for Starz.  “It’s exciting to bring diverse and compelling storytelling to the screen as part of Starz’s ongoing programming strategy to provide premium content to reach underserved audiences.”

“If this isn’t the craziest thing I’ve ever read, it’s tied for first,” said Oscar® and Emmy® Award-winning executive producer Steven Soderbergh (Logan Lucky, The Knick). “We will not be responsible for people’s heads splitting in half when they see it.”

Executive producing with Araki and Soderbergh is Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL, Red Oaks). All 10 half-hour episodes are co-written by author and sex columnist, Karley Sciortino, creator and host of Slutever on Viceland.  Sciortino also serves as a consulting producer. 

Starz retains all domestic multiplatform pay TV and SVOD rights to the series. Lionsgate retains all international and domestic distribution and home entertainment rights.

SVP of original programming Ken Segna and manager of original programming Kathleen Clifford are the Starz executives in charge of Now Apocalypse.

  • Monday, Mar. 26, 2018
Netflix greenlights 2nd seasons of unscripted original series, including "Dope," "Queer Eye," "Nailed It!"
The Fab Five of "Queer Eye" (photo courtesy of Netflix)

Netflix has announced second seasons for several unscripted original series: Dope, Drug Lords, Nailed It!, Queer Eye and The Toys That Made Us.

“These series are indicative of what we’re trying to accomplish for Netflix unscripted: working with world-class producers to create the best unscripted shows on television,” said Bela Bajaria, VP of content for Netflix. “These series elevate the genre with innovative takes on familiar formats. They deliver immersive and nuanced stories. They elicit so many emotions from viewers, from tears of laughter to tears of joy--and that’s just Queer Eye.” 

Netflix ordered second seasons of the following unscripted originals: 

A docu-series filmed from the perspective of dealers, users and the police, this vivid series features a bracing look at the war on drugs. Season two starts April 20, 2018. Dope is produced by Wall to Wall Media Ltd., with Jeremy Dear and Chris Lent serving as executive producers and Ralph Perring as series producer.  

Drug Lords
The stories of history’s most notorious kingpins, their terrifying enforcers, and the men and women who’ve sworn to bring them down. Michael Welsh and Jim Lindsay serve as executive producers. Chris Boulding is series producer, Elaine Morris is head of production and Ian Russell is head of international programs. Drug Lords is produced by ITN Productions.

Nailed It!
Hosted by Nicole Byer and Jacques Torres, home bakers with a terrible track record take a shot at re-creating edible masterpieces for a $10,000 prize. It’s part competition, part hot mess. Nailed It! is produced by the Magical Elves, with Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, Casey Kriley, Kip Madsen and Gayle Gawlowski serving as executive producers. Daniel Calin and Jo Sharon serve as co-executive producers. 

Queer Eye
Netflix’s new Fab Five forges relationships with men and women from a wide array of backgrounds and beliefs often contrary to their own, touching on everything from LGBTQ rights and social commentary to how to make the best farm-to-table guacamole and more. The new Fab Five returns for season two: Antoni Porowski (Food & Wine), Bobby Berk (Interior Design), Karamo Brown (Culture), Jonathan Van Ness (Grooming) and Tan France (Fashion). The series is produced by Scout Productions with David Collins, Rob Eric, Michael Williams and Jen Lane serving as Executive Producers. ITV Entertainment also produces the series with David George, David Eilenberg, Adam Sher and Jordana Hochman serving as executive producers.

The Toys That Made Us
The minds behind history’s most-iconic toy franchises discuss the rise--and sometimes fall--of their billion dollar creations. Season one followed Barbie, G.I. Joe and other franchises. Brian Volk-Weiss, Tom Stern, Cisco Henson, Anne Carkeet and Edwin Zane are executive producers. The Toys That Made Us is produced by The Nacelle Company.

  • Saturday, Mar. 24, 2018
NYC firefighter killed on movie set promoted posthumously
This photo provided by New York Fire Department shows FDNY Firefighter Michael R. Davidson of Engine Company 69. Davidson was killed after a massive fire broke out at a building in the Harlem section of New York, Thursday, March 22, 2108, where a movie directed by Edward Norton was being shot. Davidson, a 15-year department veteran is survived by a wife and four children. (New York Fire Department via AP)

A firefighter who was killed battling a fire on a New York City movie set has been posthumously promoted to lieutenant.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro announced firefighter Michael Davidson's promotion on Saturday.

Davidson died early Friday after suffering severe smoke inhalation in the burning basement of a Harlem building where the movie "Motherless Brooklyn" was being filmed.

The film adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem novel of the same name stars Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin.

Davidson was a 15-year Fire Department veteran with a wife and four young children.

Nigro called Davidson "a natural-born leader" and said his promotion to lieutenant was well-deserved.

Davidson had passed the test for lieutenant in 2015 and was on the list for promotion.

  • Saturday, Mar. 24, 2018
Stars affected by violence join students' gun-reform rallies
Ariana Grande performs "Be Alright" during the "March for Our Lives" rally in support of gun control, Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Paul McCartney, Common, Miley Cyrus, Amy Schumer and other stars played supporting roles at nationwide gun-reform rallies dominated by teenage survivors' emotional speeches.

Still, the protests were deeply personal for some of the celebrities involved.

Jennifer Hudson, who performed "The Times They Are A Changin'" to cap Saturday's March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., alluded to the shooting deaths of her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in 2008.

"We've all lost somebody. ... We've all got a purpose. And we want what? We want change," she said, encouraging the vast crowd to join her in song.

McCartney said his decision to take part in the New York City rally was prompted by the 1980 Manhattan shooting death of John Lennon, his former Beatles bandmate.

"One of my best friends was killed in gun violence, right 'round here, so it's important to me," he told CNN.

Asked what he hoped could be accomplished by the event, McCartney opened his jacket to show the slogan emblazoned on his black T-shirt: "We can end gun violence."

Hudson, appearing tearful as she concluded her appearance, was backed by members of a Washington choir and survivors of the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida, high school shooting. Students from the school led rallies attended by hundreds of thousands of people in the nation's capital and other U.S. cities.

Celebrities attending the Washington event included power couples George and Amal Clooney and Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, who helped fund the protests with a combined $1 million donation. Also attending were Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Glenn Close, Cher, Jimmy Fallon and Dennis Rodman.

Common, Cyrus, Andra Day, Vic Mensa, Demi Lovato, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Platt and Ariana Grande performed in Washington, and Rita Ora took the stage in Los Angeles.

"This song is dedicated to Stephon Clark, Decynthia Clements and all the unarmed black men and women killed by police weapons," Mensa said before performing "Now We Could Be Free."

Grande encountered another iteration of violence when her 2017 Manchester, England, concert was bombed, killing 22 people and injuring scores of others.

Schumer, the actress-comedian and cousin of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, spoke to Parkland survivors attending the Los Angeles rally, telling them the violence they endured has to stop.

  • Friday, Mar. 23, 2018
Weather Channel sold to Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios
In this May 8, 2009, file photo, Byron Allen arrives for an event in Los Angeles. Allen's Entertainment Studios, Inc., one of the largest independent producers and distributors of film and television, on Thursday, March 22, 2018, announced its acquisition of the Weather Group, parent company of The Weather Channel television network and LOCAL NOW streaming service. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg, File)

The Weather Channel is under new ownership.

Entertainment Studios Inc., an independent movie and TV producer and distributor, said Thursday it's acquired the channel's parent company, Weather Group.

Byron Allen, founder and owner of Entertainment Studios, bought the Weather Group from the Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Comcast-NBCUniversal, Entertainment Studios said.

"The Weather Channel is a phenomenal asset," Allen said in an interview. "It is the No. 1 weather news network in America. It's a network that's very important, that provides us information to protect our families and our lives."

The purchase price for the channel and Local Now, a news streaming service, reportedly was $300 million.  Entertainment Studios declined to confirm the figure.

Bain, Blackstone and Comcast-NBCUniversal bought the Weather Channel Cos. from Landmark Communications in 2008 for a reported $3.5 billion. The new owners sold digital assets including the website for a reported $2 billion-plus to IBM in 2015.

Allen called the Weather Channel "an American treasure" that he intends to expand.

"We're just honored to be able to own and take it to the next level," he said. "They're already doing great, we're just going to invest more to position it for greater success" domestically and internationally.

Meteorologist Jim Cantore is among the familiar faces at the basic cable channel that's available in more than 80 million North American homes.

In a statement, Weather Channel CEO Dave Shull said Allen's ownership will benefit its viewers, distributors and advertisers.

Entertainment Studios owns seven TV channels, including and Justice, which are distributed online and by pay-TV providers.

It also owns, a website devoted to African-American stories and issues.

Allen said the purchase of the Weather Group was completed Thursday morning through his company Allen Media LLC.

  • Thursday, Mar. 22, 2018
US, AT&T fire opening salvos as govt seeks to block merger
In this Oct. 24, 2016, file photo, the AT&T logo is positioned above one of its retail stores in New York. Opening arguments in the federal government’s case to block AT&T’s efforts to gobble up Time Warner have been postponed until Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

The government and AT&T exchanged opening salvos in a federal trial Thursday as the U.S. seeks to block the telephone giant from absorbing Time Warner, in a case that could shape how consumers get — and how much they pay for — streaming TV and movies.

The Trump Justice Department has sued to block the $85 billion deal, saying it would hurt competition and consumers would have to pay more to watch their favorite shows, whether on a TV screen, smartphone or tablet.

The combination of the wireless, broadband and satellite giant with Time Warner — home to the CNN, HBO and TBS networks as well as coveted sports programming — would harm competition and dampen innovation, Craig Conrath, the lead Justice Department attorney in the case, insisted in opening arguments.

"The evidence will show that this merger would hurt ... pay-TV consumers," Conrath said, noting they number some 90 million households in the U.S.

"Time Warner is a weapon for AT&T," he said. "Buying Time Warner would give AT&T a weapon to slow down innovation and protect its cash cow" of pay TV. AT&T owns DirecTV, which contributes a substantial percentage of its earnings.

AT&T's strategy of discounting DirecTV Now streaming service has helped it hold on to wireless customers, according to industry analysts.

But the companies' lead attorney in defending the merger, Daniel Petrocelli, countered that the government "cannot meet their heavy burden of proof" that deal would hurt competition in a rapidly shifting media landscape. "We're not trying to suppress or impede this transformation. ... This transformation is what makes this merger imperative," he said.

The government called as its first witness an executive of Cox Communications, which distributes content including Time Warner's through its cable TV network and opposes the merger. Suzanne Fenwick, who heads Cox's mergers and acquisitions business, testified that her company feared the merger would give unfair market power to competitor Time Warner's Turner, which would dictate steep terms for selling its programming, and a financial hit for Cox.

More people are using streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. Those companies and others such as Google, Hulu and Facebook "are running away with the industry," Petrocelli said — by offering pay TV at lower rates, selling subscriptions for on-demand programming and dominating advertising.

He rebuffed the idea that consumer prices would be pushed higher, accusing the government of relying on hypothetical economic models that don't square with the reality of the market. In fact, consumers could end up paying less after a merger, Petrocelli suggested.

As AT&T Inc. CEO Randall Stephenson and Jeffrey Bewkes, the CEO of Time Warner Inc. looked on in the packed courtroom, the opposing attorneys outlined their cases before U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in a landmark trial that could imprint future antitrust policy. In their arguments, the attorneys journeyed through the complex, twisty dynamics of the 21st century media and entertainment landscape, with opposing spins.

The density and importance of the issue means there will be several weeks of testimony from experts, competitors of the two companies and others.

If in the end Leon decides to block the deal, a chill over media dealmaking is likely. Big internet players like Amazon or Google could decide to keep building up their own content offerings rather than growing them by acquisitions. If the companies prevailed, on the other hand, that could spur a wave of similar deals as other distributors — like major cable, satellite and phone companies — bulk up with entertainment purchases to compete against rivals born on the internet.

A middle-ground compromise is also possible if AT&T loses. The company could agree to sell off some businesses or comply with other restrictions in order to win approval of the merger.

  • Thursday, Mar. 22, 2018
Film examines Dolores Huerta from jazz to "Si, Se Puede"
In this Jan. 16, 2018, file photo, Dolores Huerta participates in the "Dolores" panel during the PBS Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Dolores Huerta formed the first farmworkers union with Cesar Chavez, stood next to Sen. Robert Kennedy minutes before he was assassinated, inspired Barack Obama's 2008 "Yes We Can" presidential campaign slogan with her "Si, Se Puede" rallying cry and has continued her social activism as she approaches her 90th birthday.

Yet she remains unknown to most Americans.

Among Mexican-Americans, however, she's a civil-rights icon. She draws excitement at rallies for ethnic studies in Arizona, gatherings for women's rights in Albuquerque and even for a cameo appearance at this year's Academy Awards.

Now the social activist is the subject of "Dolores," a new PBS documentary from Independent Lens. "Dolores" is scheduled to air on most PBS stations on Tuesday.

As expected, the documentary covers Huerta's life as a United Farm Workers leader in California during the late 1960s. It examines her role in fighting against the use of toxic pesticides and for immigrant rights.

But the film also explores her challenges in raising 11 children and the resentment they held for being ignored. The documentary also looks at her love of jazz and her shattered dreams of becoming a dancer.

Director Peter Bratt said the project began after Huerta and guitarist Carlos Santana had a conversation until 3 a.m. during a trip to Hawaii years ago. Santana, a Miles Davis fan, discovered Huerta was a huge fan of bebop legend Charlie Parker.

"I even met Charlie Parker. That's my claim to fame," Huerta, 87, told The Associated Press. "There were a lot of things Carlos didn't know about me."

That's when Santana urged Huerta to take part in a documentary to tell her story, Bratt said. Santana is executive producer of "Dolores."

Using archival interviews from Huerta and Chavez, "Dolores" illustrates how Huerta moved from a married woman in a middle-class home to a union activist who gave up a comfortable life to join the fight for equality. When farmworkers or fellow activists would tell her something couldn't be done or the odds were against them, Huerta would reply, "Si, Se Puede."  That became the rallying cry for the farmworkers movement.

Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton and "La Bamba" director Luis Valdez all discuss how Huerta evolved from someone pushing a grape boycott to an activist who was  denounced by Teamsters, then-future President Ronald Reagan and, later, Fox News personalities like Bill O'Reilly.

But the film goes beyond Huerta's social justice activities throughout the years, showcasing the advocate at transformative moments in American history and highlighting her role in defining them.

For example, Huerta is standing next to Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles after his California presidential primary win in June 1968. "Dolores Huerta ... who is an old friend of mine," Kennedy tells the crowd. Huerta helped Kennedy win California's Mexican-American vote by helping orchestrate a then-unique door-to-door voter registration drive.

Minutes later, Kennedy is shot.

"It was very emotional to watch," Huerta said after viewing the documentary. "I had to see the film four times before I could get it all to sink in."

In 2012, Obama finally acknowledged Huerta for her role in the creation of his "Yes, We Can" slogan during his first presidential campaign.

"Dolores was very gracious when I told her that I had stolen her slogan," said Obama, who then presented her with the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. "Knowing her, I'm pleased she left me off easy because Dolores does not play."

But in spite of her contributions, Huerta has been written out of history — literally. The conservative-leaning Texas State Board of Education voted in 2010 to remove Huerta from third-grade standards over her affiliation with the Democratic Socialists of America organization.

That same year, then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill banning certain ethnic studies programs after Huerta told a Tucson school that Republicans hated Latinos.

Bratt said he believes the "Dolores" documentary is a way to save her legacy. "People have tried to erase her from history," Bratt said. "Hopefully, this film is the corrective."