Thursday, February 22, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 61 - 70 of 2866
  • Monday, Jan. 15, 2018
Comedian Aziz Ansari responds to sex misconduct allegations
In this Jan. 7, 2018, file photo, Aziz Ansari arrives at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Comedian Aziz Ansari has responded to allegations of sexual misconduct by a woman he dated last year.

Ansari said in a statement Sunday that he apologized last year when she told him about her discomfort during a sexual encounter in his apartment he said he believed to be consensual.

The woman, identified as a 23-year-old photographer in an interview with Babe.net, says she was furious when she saw Ansari was wearing a "Time's Up" pin while accepting a Golden Globe on Jan. 7.

She said it brought back memories of him assaulting her after a date in his apartment.

The next day, the woman texted Ansari letting him know that she was upset with his behavior that night.

Ansari says he was surprised and apologized.

  • Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018
George Clooney directing, starring in "Catch-22" drama series for Hulu
In this Sept. 10, 2017, file photo, George Clooney attends a press conference for "Suburbicon" on Day 4 of the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto. Clooney is directing and starring in a TV series version of the novel "Catch-22." The streaming service Hulu said Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, that the six-part series based on Joseph Heller's anti-war satire will go into production in 2018. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- 

George Clooney is directing and starring in a TV series version of the novel "Catch-22."

Streaming service Hulu said Sunday that the six-part series based on Joseph Heller's anti-war satire will go into production in 2018. A debut date and other cast members weren't announced.

Clooney will play Col. Cathcart in the drama he's directing with his Smokehouse Pictures partner, Grant Heslov. Smokehouse is producing it with Paramount Television and Anonymous Content.

The 1961 novel focuses on a World War II Air Force bombardier, John Yossarian, whose determined efforts to evade combat are thwarted by a bureaucratic rule, Catch-22, which became a lasting catchphrase for a no-win situation.

A 1970 film based on "Catch-22" was directed by Mike Nichols and starred Alan Arkin as Yossarian and Martin Balsam as Cathcart.

  • Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018
Offred is on the run as "Handmaid's Tale" returns in April
In a Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 file photo, Elisabeth Moss arrives at the 23rd annual Critics' Choice Awards at the Barker Hangar, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- 

The wrenching loss of an infant to a totalitarian society is explored in season two of "The Handmaid's Tale," star Elisabeth Moss and the show's producers said.

The drama series based on Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel begins with Moss' character on the run when it returns April 25 on streaming service Hulu. Offred, also known as June, is a pregnant "handmaid," one of those used to breed children in a futuristic society where many women are infertile.

Moss said she and series creator-executive producer Bruce Miller often discussed "this child growing inside her as a bit of a ticking time bomb," one destined to be born in tragic circumstances.

"When she does have the baby, the baby gets taken away from her. She can't be its mother," Moss said told TV critics Sunday. "It makes for good drama."

Season two also visits the colonies that are mentioned in Atwood's 1985 book but not depicted, executive producer Warren Littlefield said. A bigger production budget helped the series venture afield.

MGM Television and Hulu "embraced that we were ambitious. We're still in a world of television, it's a pretty controlled budget," Littlefield said. He didn't offer specific figures.

Broadening the story doesn't mean the series will desert its source material, Miller said.

"I don't think anything we do is post-Atwood," he said. "It's an expansion of that world. I certainly don't think we're going beyond the story that she was telling. She remains the mother of the series."

"The Handmaid's Tale" is a landmark program for relatively new Hulu, drawing critical acclaim, an armload of 2017 Emmys and, earlier this month, a best series Golden Globe and best-actress trophy for Moss. Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei guest stars in episode two, the producers said.

They were effusive with praise for Moss when asked why the former "Mad Men" star was right for the role of Offred.

She's talented, professional, has an "amazing work ethic" and an extraordinary relationship with the camera, the producers said.

A smiling Moss called the Television Critics Association panel discussion her favorite yet.

  • Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018
Actress in next Woody Allen film donates salary to Time's Up
In this Sept. 5, 2017 file photo, actress Rebecca Hall poses for photographers at the premiere of the film 'mother!' at the 74th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Actress Rebecca Hall says she's donating her salary from the latest Woody Allen film to Time's Up.

Hall says on Instagram she was hired for Allen's "A Rainy Day in New York" but is "profoundly sorry" and "regrets" her decision to work with the filmmaker. She said Friday she reconsidered the job after reviewing molestation accusations by Allen's daughter Dylan Farrow.

Allen denies molesting Dylan when she was 7.

Hall also appeared in Allen's 2008 "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." She says she was hired for the new film seven months ago but sees her "actions have made another woman feel silenced and dismissed." She hasn't said how much money she'll donate.

Time's Up is a sexual misconduct defense initiative started by women in Hollywood to support victims.

  • Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018
Sandberg, Dorsey to leave the Disney board
This June 22, 2016, file photo shows Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg speaking at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
BURBANK, Calif. (AP) -- 

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will be leaving the board of The Walt Disney Co. Neither executive will stand for re-election at the company's annual meeting in March.

A Disney spokesperson says it has become "increasingly difficult for them to avoid conflicts relating to board matters."

With Disney planning to put ESPN online, Twitter live-streaming sports like NFL football, and Facebook prioritizing live video, online video is a likely area of overlap.

The pending departure of the two Disney board members was revealed in a securities filing Friday.

  • Friday, Jan. 12, 2018
Facing critics, Facebook wants feeds to be more  "meaningful"
In this April 18, 2017, file photo, conference workers speak in front of a demo booth at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Facebook is tweaking what people see to make their time on it more "meaningful" in a move that could hurt publishers and news organizations that rely on it to spread their content.

Facebook has said before that it will emphasize personal connections over business pages and celebrities that people follow. But the latest move represents a major shift, one intended to highlight the posts users are most likely to engage with rather than passively consume.

The company says people will likely spend less time on Facebook as a result.

The changes come as the company faces criticism that social media can make people feel depressed and isolated.

There will be fewer posts from brands, pages and media companies and more from people. There will be fewer videos, which Facebook considers "passive."

That's because even if people read such content on Facebook, they don't necessarily comment or interact with it in other ways.

"The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post Thursday.

"We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos -- even if they're entertaining or informative -- may not be as good."

The move to highlight posts that Facebook considers "meaningful" and reduce the emphasis on others could shrink the social media giant's role as a major news source for many people.

The move will not affect advertisements — users will continue to see the same ads they have before, "meaningful" or not. But businesses that use Facebook to connect with their customers without paying for ads will also feel the pain.

Facebook has long been criticized for creating "filter bubbles," the echo chambers of friends and like-minded people whose views are reinforced by their friends' posts on the platform.

The company says that's similar to how people make friends and interact with each other offline. Facebook says its research shows that users are exposed to more divergent views on its platform than they would be otherwise.

This is difficult to verify independently since the company is cautious about providing data to outsiders.

The changes come after a tough year for Facebook that included congressional hearings on how Russia used it to influence the 2016 U.S. elections. Former executives and Facebook investors have spoken out about how it and other social media sites might be hurting rather than helping society and users' psyches.

Last week, Zuckerberg said his "personal challenge" for 2018 (something he's done every year since 2009), will be to fix Facebook.

"Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it's protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent," he wrote.

He said it wasn't possible to prevent all mistakes or abuses, but that Facebook was making too many errors in enforcing its policies and preventing misuse.

  • Friday, Jan. 12, 2018
Filmmaker revisits David Bowie to document final years
This image released by HBO shows the late music legend David Bowie in a scene from the documentary, "David Bowie:The Last Five Years," which debuted Jan. 8 on HBO. ( Jimmy King/ HBO via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

After British filmmaker Francis Whately captured David Bowie in his 2013 film, "David Bowie: Five Years," he thought documenting the life of his musical hero was complete. Turns out he was mistaken.

The end of Bowie's life was equally interesting to Whately as he centers on the artist's final projects in the new HBO documentary, "David Bowie: The Last Five Years." It started airing this week, which marks two years since Bowie died at age 69.

"It was only after his sort of untimely passing that the BBC approached me again and said, 'Would I do another film?' And initially I was wary of doing anything else because I felt I'd already made a film, while not being completely definitive, did look at the key years of his career certainly up to the 1980s," he said.

The first documentary covered five significant years in Bowie's career, which included the creation of Ziggy Stardust in 1971 and his 1983 commercial success, "Let's Dance," but Whately found something intriguing about his later days.

"A period of his life that was of the most interest was those last five years when he returned after his heart attack from some kind of seclusion and ... (was) back in the spotlight in some way even though he didn't give any interviews," Whately said.

The second documentary focuses on Bowie's final two albums — "The Next Day" and "Blackstar" — as well as the stage play "Lazarus," which took its inspiration from the 1976 film, "The Man Who Fell to Earth," which starred Bowie.

"Lazarus" made its debut weeks before Bowie died in January 2016. The score consists of the artist's music throughout his career, including selections from his last two albums.

In the music video for the song "Lazarus" from his final album, Bowie seems to foreshadow his own death. He's shown lying in a bed with his face in bandages and with coat buttons for eyes. The video, directed by Johan Renck, was shot after Bowie learned he had terminal cancer and decided to end treatment.

Whately said the music video can be construed as Bowie saying goodbye, but when it comes to the stage play of the same name, "I don't think it's that simple."

"The subject matter is interesting, but does it prophesize that this was his way of saying goodbye? I'm not sure it does," he said.

Whately contends the idea of a stage play of "Lazarus" was something Bowie had considered since the beginning of his career.

"I think he first talked about it in 1967 ... so, it was something that had been on his mind," he said.

  • Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018
More claim sexual inappropriateness against James Franco
In this Jan. 7, 2018 file photo, James Franco arrives at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Several women have made further claims of inappropriate sexual behavior against James Franco in a Los Angeles Times article .

In the report published Thursday, two former student actresses described negative on-set experiences with the actor-filmmaker while being directed by him. Sarah Tither-Kaplan said in a nude orgy scene three years ago, he removed plastic guards covering the actresses' groins while simulating sex.

Former students spoke of an unprofessional culture at Franco's now-closed acting school Studio 4, where he taught a sex scenes class. Two women said Franco became angry shooting a strip club scene when no actresses, who were masked, would go topless. One topless scene filmed during class with Tither-Kaplan was uploaded to Vimeo, she said.

Violet Paley said that during a consensual relationship, Franco once pressured her to perform oral sex in a car and that the "power dynamic was really off."

On Wednesday night's "Late Night With Seth Meyers," Franco said the tweets by Paley and Tither-Kaplan were "not accurate" but he supported the women's right to express their perspectives. A lawyer and publicist for Franco didn't respond to queries Thursday. Franco's attorney, Michael Plonsker, disputed the allegations to the Times.

"There are stories that need to get out, people that need to be heard. I have my own side of this story but I believe that these people have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say just because I believe in that so much," said Franco to Meyers.  "If I have to take a knock because I'm not gonna, you know, try and, you know, actively refute things then I will because I believe in it that much."

Paley and Tither-Kaplan earlier tweeted about their past encounters with Franco after the actor wore a pin supporting the "Time's Up" initiative for gender equality at Sunday's Golden Globes. He won the award for best actor in a comedy or musical for "The Disaster Artist."

Actress Ally Sheedy also said in a since-deleted tweet that Franco was an example of why she left the movie business. Franco on Tuesday told Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show" that he had "no idea" why Sheedy said that. He directed her in a 2014 off-Broadway play.

In 2014, Instagram messages showed Franco apparently trying to hit on a 17-year-old Scottish fan. Afterward Franco said he was "embarrassed" and said social media is "tricky." ''I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson," the actor said then.

  • Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018
Cindy Crawford recreates iconic Super Bowl ad 26 years later
This photo released by Pepsi shows actress-model Cindy Crawford in a scene from her 2018 Pepsi commercial which will premiere during Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4. The new ad includes her son, Presley Walker Gerber, as well as footage from Michael Jackson’s memorable Pepsi commercial. (Pepsi via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Cindy Crawford is heading back to the Super Bowl: The model has recreated her iconic 1992 Super Bowl ad for Pepsi, now featuring her 18-year-old son.

Crawford recently filmed the commercial, which will debut at Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. It includes her son, Presley Walker Gerber, as well as footage from Michael Jackson's memorable Pepsi commercial.

The 51-year-old said she didn't hesitate to recreate the ad 26 years later, especially since she was able to work with her son.

"Just as a mother, we drove to work together that day and we shared the same trailer. And when he was doing his thing, I was just a proud mom watching from the sidelines, trying not to annoy him," she said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The new Super Bowl ad, dubbed "This Is The Pepsi," is part of the company's "Pepsi Generation" campaign honoring the brand's 120-year history in pop culture.

The original features Crawford in a tank top and jean shorts — made from her own jeans she brought to the set that day — driving a Lamborghini and stopping at a gas station to buy a can of soda. She said she felt the 1992 spot "became such a classic for so many reasons."

"It was one of those moments in my career that when I walked down the street, people were like, 'Pepsi!' Or I'd be at a bar and people would send me over a Pepsi," she said, laughing. "And it's funny because during Halloween a lot of women will dress up as me in that commercial. It's like an easy Halloween costume."

Crawford plans to attend the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, where her father lives.

"I think probably that will be the highlight for me is just getting to see my dad," she said. "I took him to a Super Bowl before I had kids ... and it's not like he ever wanted to go to an awards show or something like that, but if I can take him to the Super Bowl, that's a pretty cool thing for me to be able to do with my dad."

Crawford's modeling talents have not only extended to her son — her 16-year-old daughter graces the February cover of Vogue Paris.

"She's more ready for it. She's just so much more sophisticated and worldly than I was at that age," she said of Kaia Jordan Gerber.

"I do know the business ... (and) I feel like who better to help guide my kids?" she added.

"It kind of happened for both of them and they listen to my advice when it comes to this. The one thing they can't say is, 'Mom, you don't get it.'"

  • Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018
New study finds male dominance in Hollywood unchanged
Martha M. Lauzen
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Women made up just 18 percent of all the directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers who worked on the top 250 American films released last year, according to a new study.

The 20th annual "Celluloid Ceiling" study on the behind-the-camera employment of women was released Monday by San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. The results show virtually no change in the last 20 years for women in Hollywood. In 1998, the same calculation of behind-the-scenes jobs for women was 17 percent.

The study found that in last year's top 250 films, 25 percent of producers were women, 11 percent of directors were women and just 4 percent of cinematographers were women.

"The film industry has utterly failed to address the continuing underemployment of women behind the scenes," said Martha M. Lauzen, the study's author. "This negligence has produced a toxic culture that supported the recent sexual harassment scandals and truncates so many women's careers."

Last week, a study published by the University of Southern California Annenberg found that among the top 100 films at the box office, the percentage of female directors rose from 4.2 percent in 2016 to 7.3 percent in 2017. But that number was still less than the 8 percent in 2008.

As they have in the past, the studies give statistical evidence to the widespread alarm about gender equality in Hollywood. More than 300 women in entertainment recently formed the initiative Time's Up to push for equal female representation among executives and to help sexual harassment victims defend themselves.