Wednesday, April 24, 2019

News Briefs

Displaying 81 - 90 of 3530
  • Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019
YouTube suspends comments on videos of kids after ads pulled
This March 20, 2018 file photo shows the YouTube app on an iPad in Baltimore. YouTube says it will turn off comments on most videos that feature kids. The change comes after advertisers began boycotting the site last week in response to inappropriate comments made on videos of minors. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

YouTube said Thursday it will turn off comments on nearly all videos featuring kids — potentially affecting millions of posts on the site — after reports last week that pedophiles were leaving inappropriate comments on innocuous videos of children.

The change comes as YouTube grapples with moderating content across its platform as concerns about hate speech, violence and conspiracy theories continue to plague it.

It will take YouTube several months to disable comments on all videos featuring minors, the company said. It already started the process last week when it turned off comments from tens of millions of videos.

Advertisers including Nestle, AT&T and Fortnite-maker Epic Games pulled ads from YouTube last week after the inappropriate comments about children were unearthed by a popular YouTuber and media reports. At least one company, Nestle, was satisfied with YouTube's response and reinstated ads late last week.

A small number of channels which have videos featuring kids will be allowed to keep comments turned on. But they must be known to YouTube and must actively monitor the comments beyond the standard monitoring tools YouTube provides.

Turning off comments on such a large number of videos seems an "extreme reaction," said eMarketer analyst Paul Verna. But the issue involves the safety of children, so it makes sense YouTube would want to act quickly, he said.

Comments aren't the main focus of the video-publishing site, but turning them off will likely diminish the experience for many users and video creators, he said.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki acknowledged the concerns Thursday, tweeting, "Nothing is more important to us than ensuring the safety of young people on the platform."

The company said it has also released an updated version of its automated moderating system that it expects will identify and delete two times as many inappropriate comments.

YouTube, like Facebook, Twitter and other sites that allow user publishing, have faced increasing calls to monitor what appears on their sites and get rid of unsuitable content. The companies all say they have taken action to protect users. But issues keep popping up.

Concerns about YouTube comments weren't even a top priority for advertisers and viewers a couple weeks ago, Verna said.

"It just makes you wonder, what's the next thing that going to happen?"

  • Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019
Longtime HBO CEO exits in wake of AT&T acquisition
In a Thursday, May 11, 2017, file photo, HBO CEO Richard Plepler attends a screening of HBO's "The Wizard of Lies" at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

HBO's longtime chief executive is leaving the cable channel, less than a year after AT&T acquired HBO's parent company.

In a memo to HBO staffers Thursday, Richard Plepler said it was the right time for him to leave. The memo was obtained by The Associated Press.

During Plepler's tenure with HBO, the premium channel fielded popular and award-winning series including "The Sopranos," ''Game of Thrones," ''Girls" and "Big Little Lies" and launched streaming platforms.

Last June, a federal judge approved AT&Ts merger with Time Warner, a deal worth more than $80 billion.

In his memo, Plepler said his decision came at an "inflection point" in the life of HBO. He said he expected the company to continue to thrive.

HBO declined comment on Plepler's departure or his successor.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019
"Beverly Hills, 90210" cast reunites, "irreverence" in store
In this Nov. 3, 2006, file photo, Beverly Hills 90210 cast members, left to right, Jennie Garth, Brian Austin Green, Ian Ziering, Jason Priestley and Gabrielle Carteris attend the "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place" first season DVD launch party in Beverly Hills, Calif. The original stars of “Beverly Hills, 90210,” are set to return to FOX in a six-episode event series, "90210." (AP Photo/Phil McCarten, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

The original stars of "Beverly Hills, 90210" are planning a high school reunion with a twist.

Fox said Wednesday that cast members including Jason Priestly and Jennie Garth will play "heightened versions" of themselves in a six-part series airing this summer.

Fox says the drama titled "90210" is inspired by the cast's real lives and relationships, combined with what it termed a "healthy dose of irreverence."

Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green and Tori Spelling also will star in the series.

The action begins when one of the cast suggests they try to launch a reboot of "Beverly Hills, 90210."

The original series aired from 1990 to 2000 and followed a circle of friends in high school and young adulthood.

A date for the new series wasn't announced.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019
Winfrey to interview Jackson accusers in post-film special
In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, Wade Robson, from left, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck pose for a portrait to promote the film "Leaving Neverland" during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

An Oprah Winfrey interview with two men who say Michael Jackson sexually abused them as boys will air immediately after a documentary on the men.

HBO and the Oprah Winfrey Network announced Wednesday that the special, "Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland," will air simultaneously on both channels Monday at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. That's just after the conclusion of the two-night airing of "Leaving Neverland."

The networks say the pre-taped interview by Winfrey will be with Wade Robson and James Safechuck, and the film's director, Dan Reed in front of an audience of people affected by sexual abuse.

The family and estate of Jackson , who died in 2009, have denounced the documentary and HBO's decision to air it, saying it spreads falsehoods about a man not alive to defend himself.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019
Encore run of "A Star Is Born" features more footage, songs
Lady Gaga, left, and Bradley Cooper perform "Shallow" from "A Star is Born" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Can't stop watching Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's Oscar-night performance of "Shallow"? You're in luck: Warner Bros. is bringing a special encore version of "A Star Is Born" back to the big screen Friday with nearly 12 additional minutes of footage.

The studio said Wednesday that the new edition will feature extended performances of songs sung by Gaga like "Alibi," and an a cappella "Shallow," which won the Oscar Sunday for best original song. It will also feature brand new scenes between the two leads Ally and Jack.

The one week engagement starts Friday on over 1,150 screens in the U.S. and Canada.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019
"Apollo 11" filmmaker Todd Douglas Miller to keynote NAB Show's Future of Cinema Conference, produced with SMPTE
Todd Douglas Miller
WHITE PLAINS, NY -- 

SMPTE has announced that Todd Douglas Miller, the filmmaker behind the critically acclaimed “Apollo 11” moon landing documentary, will present the keynote at the 2019 NAB Show’s Future of Cinema Conference (FoCC), produced in partnership with SMPTE.

NAB Show’s FoCC, “Now, Next, and Beyond the Yellow Brick Road,” will take place April 6-7 in Las Vegas. Scheduled for 9:10 a.m. on Saturday, April 6, Miller’s keynote will describe the process of making “Apollo 11,” which premiered Jan. 24 at the Sundance Film Festival, where it received a Special Grand Jury Prize for Editing.

“Our intention with ‘Apollo 11’ was to make an art film out of all of the archival materials that we had available, and in the end, we created a direct, fly-on-the-wall cinema experience,” said Miller. “Both the art and science of working with images and sound were critical throughout this project, and I look forward to discussing how they came together during the process of making ‘Apollo 11’ a reality.”

Working with pristine, unprocessed, never-before-seen 65mm footage recently discovered in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), as well as 11,000 hours of uncatalogued NASA audio recordings, Miller and his colleagues first digitized and restored the film. Next, the team created an 8K transfer that represents the highest-resolution, highest-quality digital collection of Apollo 11 footage. The 93-minute motion picture, which was cut from this transfer, revives the historic 1969 moon landing by Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin with breathtaking clarity.

“Apollo 11” opens exclusively in Imax theaters on March 1 and everywhere on March 8, and is being distributed by NEON/CNN Films.

“Todd and his colleagues undertook a monumental challenge in making ‘Apollo 11,’” said FoCC Program Committee chair and 30 Ninjas CEO Julina Tatlock, who is also an award-winning writer-producer, virtual reality (VR) director, and social TV specialist. “In addition to creating an astounding cinematic experience, they restored, digitized, and catalogued a wealth of audio and video representing one of the United States’ greatest achievements. We’re excited to be giving FoCC attendees the opportunity to hear this remarkable story, especially given this is the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing.”

Miller’s work also includes the Emmy® Award-winning “Dinosaur 13,” which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was acquired by Lionsgate and CNN Films. His other films include “Gahanna Bill,” “Scaring the Fish,” and “The Last Steps.” Miller’s company, Statement Pictures, based in Brooklyn, New York, produces feature-length films, documentaries, and large-format/Imax films for science centers and museums. His short-form work has won numerous international and national awards, including the CINE Golden Eagle, Telly, Aurora, and AXIEM Award.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019
Emma Thompson to Skydance: I won't work with John Lasseter
In this March 28, 2018 file photo, Emma Thompson appears at a screening of "King Lear" in central London. In a letter to Skydance Media, Thompson outlined why she was withdrawing from the animated film “Luck” and refused to work with the former Pixar executive John Lasseter. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

In a letter to Skydance Media, Emma Thompson outlined why she refused to work with the former Pixar executive John Lasseter and was withdrawing from the animated film "Luck."

Thompson departed the project last month shortly after Skydance chief executive David Ellison hired Lasseter, the Pixar co-founder and former Walt Disney Co. animation chief. Lasseter last year was forced out at Disney after acknowledging "missteps" in his behavior with female employees.

In her letter to Ellison, Thompson said she felt it was "very odd to me that you and your company would consider hiring someone with Mr. Lasseter's pattern of misconduct given the present climate."

"If a man has been touching women inappropriately for decades, why would a woman want to work for him if the only reason he's not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract that he must behave 'professionally'?" wrote Thompson. "If a man has made women at his companies feel undervalued and disrespected for decades, why should the women at his new company think that any respect he shows them is anything other than an act that he's required to perform by his coach, his therapist and his employment agreement?"

A representative for Thompson confirmed the letter Tuesday, which was first published in The Los Angeles Times. A spokesperson for Skydance declined to comment.

Lasseter's hiring provoked a backlash from some who said the animation executive didn't deserve a second chance so quickly. Time's Up, the nonprofit organization formed to combat sexual harassment and gender inequality in Hollywood and elsewhere, said his hiring "endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence."

Shortly after allegations were made against Harvey Weinstein in fall 2017, Lasseter announced that he was taking a six-month "sabbatical" from Disney and apologized "to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug" or any other gesture that made them feel "disrespected or uncomfortable." Lasseter initially said he would return to Disney, but the studio said it was permanently cutting ties last June.

At the time of his hiring, Lasseter, a creative force involved in every Pixar release and numerous Disney hits, said he had spent the last year in "deep reflection, learning how my actions unintentionally made colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for."

Ellison, the 36-year-old son of Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison whose production company has been behind "Mission: Impossible" and "Star Trek" films, said in a memo to staff that he didn't take the decision to hire Lasseter lightly and said Lasseter has been "forthright in taking ownership of his behavior."

  • Monday, Feb. 25, 2019
France: Lack of evidence for rape claim against Luc Besson
In this Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014 file picture French director Luc Besson poses during a photocall to promote his new film "Lucy" in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)
PARIS (AP) -- 

The Paris prosecutor's office says an investigation failed to turn up evidence to support a woman's rape allegation against filmmaker Luc Besson and the case has been dropped.

The woman filed a complaint in May 2018 accusing the 59-year-old director of drugging and raping her at Le Bristol Paris hotel.

The prosecutor's office said Monday that investigators didn't find evidence of a rape.

The law firm that represents Besson said the filmmaker was satisfied with the prosecutor's decision and noted he always denied the woman's allegation.

Besson has produced nearly 100 films and written and directed many of them. His films include the "Taken" series, "Subway," ''The Fifth Element," ''The Big Blue," and "Leon."

  • Monday, Feb. 25, 2019
Kenneth Lonergan wins inaugural PEN/Mike Nichols award
In this Feb. 6, 2017 file photo, Kenneth Lonergan arrives at the 89th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Filmmaker-playwright Kenneth Lonergan is the first recipient of a prize named for the late Mike Nichols.

PEN America, the literary and human rights organization, announced Monday that Lonergan has won the PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award. The $25,000 prize is given for works which "enlighten and inspire audiences" in the tradition of Nichols, known for directing such films as "The Graduate" and such plays as "The Odd Couple."

Lonergan's films include "You Can Count on Me" and "Manchester By the Sea." His plays "The Waverly Gallery" and "Lobby Hero" were recently revived on Broadway.

  • Friday, Feb. 22, 2019
"Empire" producers cut Smollett from season's last episodes
In this May 20, 2016 file photo, actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
CHICAGO (AP) -- 

Actor Jussie Smollett's character on "Empire" will be removed from the final two episodes of this season in the wake of his arrest on charges that he staged a racist, anti-gay attack on himself last month in downtown Chicago, producers of the Fox TV show announced Friday.

The announcement came a day after Smollett turned himself in to police, appeared in court on a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report, and left jail after posting bond.

"While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays," ''Empire" executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer said in a written statement. "We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of 'Jamal' from the final two episodes of the season."

The series is on a midseason break and returns March 13 with nine episodes. The last two episodes of the fifth season were still being made when Smollett was charged. At this point, Smollett is part of the seven already completed episodes.

Smollett, who is black and gay, plays a gay character on the show that follows a black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording industry.Police said Smollett planned the hoax because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted to promote his career. Before the attack, he also sent a letter that threatened him to the Chicago studio where "Empire" is shot, police said.

As authorities laid out their case against Smollett, the narrative that emerged Thursday sounded like that of a filmmaker who wrote, cast, directed and starred in a short movie.

Prosecutors said Smollett gave detailed instructions to the accomplices who helped him stage the attack in January, including telling them specific slurs to yell, urging them to shout "MAGA country" and even pointing out a surveillance camera that he thought would record the beating.

"I believe Mr. Smollett wanted it on camera," police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters at a Thursday morning news conference. "But unfortunately that particular camera wasn't pointed in that direction."

Smollett's legal team issued a statement Thursday night, calling the actor a "man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence." The statement called Johnson's news conference "an organized law enforcement spectacle."

"The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett," the statement read.

Smollett is earning more than $100,000 per episode, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because salary details were involved. The studio declined to comment on the actor's salary.

As is customary with a successful TV series, regular cast members on "Empire" received a boost in pay as part of contract extensions that followed the drama's renewal for a second season, the person said.Smollett is counted among the series regulars.

AP Television Writer Lynn Elber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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