Sunday, August 18, 2019

News Briefs

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  • Thursday, Jul. 11, 2019
ABC's "How to Get Away with Murder" to end after next season
In this image released by ABC, Viola Davis appears in a scene from "How To Get Away With Murder." ABC said Thursday that the show’s upcoming sixth season will be its last. (Mitchell Haaseth/ABC via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

It will be case closed next season for "How to Get Away with Murder," with the show's upcoming sixth season to be its last.

The series and its star, Viola Davis, are leaving behind history: In 2015, Davis became the first African American to win an Emmy for best lead actress in a drama series.

In a statement Thursday announcing the show's end, ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke praised Davis for her unforgettable portrayal of a female antihero.

Davis plays Annalise Keating, a brilliant attorney and professor at a Philadelphia law school, where she teaches her no-holds-barred views of justice and life and enlists her students in her cases and misadventures.

A three-time Academy Award nominee, Davis won the best supporting actress Oscar in 2017 for "Fences."

Series creator and executive producer Pete Nowalk called ending the show a "brutal decision," but said the story demanded it.

"For me, Annalise Keating's journey has always had a clear ending," Nowalk said in a statement. "Knowing I have 15 episodes left to finish her story, and the chance to give all the characters their own killer endings" is a rare gift.

He advised fans to "buckle up" for the show's final twists when it returns on Sept. 26.

The show's ratings have softened, with viewership dropping from more than 10 million weekly in its early years to about half that last season.

"How to Get Away with Murder" debuted in 2014 as part of ABC's hit Thursday night programming block from prolific writer-producer Shonda Rhimes, including the long-running "Grey's Anatomy" and now-ended "Scandal." Rhimes created multi-dimensional female characters and rare opportunities for actresses of color, including Davis and former "Grey's Anatomy" star Sandra Oh, who became the first actress of Asian ethnicity to get an Emmy nod for best drama series actress (for "Killing Eve").

Rhimes' long partnership with ABC Studios ended when she signed a lucrative deal in 2017 to make series for Netflix, which became the new home for her Shondaland production company as part of the streaming service's talent hunt. She retains an executive producer credit for "How to Get Away with Murder."

  • Thursday, Jul. 11, 2019
The One Club and The 3% Movement set global jury for Next Creative Leaders
NEW YORK -- 

The One Club for Creativity, the non-profit organization recognizing creative excellence in advertising and design, and The 3% Movement, aN ad industry voice for gender equality and diversity, have set the global jury for their joint Next Creative Leaders 2019 program.

Developed collaboratively by the two organizations in 2015, Next Creative Leaders identifies, celebrates and gives a global platform to talented creative women who are making their mark on the world with both game changing work and a unique point of view on creative leadership that’s changing the industry for the better.  

This year’s Next Creative Leaders judges’ lineup, representing 10 countries and including seven past NCL winners, is as follows:  

  • Nedal Ahmed, senior creative, 72andSunny, Amsterdam (NCL ’18)
  • Gail Anderson, creative director, School of Visual Arts, New York
  • Lisa Balser, creative director, freelance, Atlanta
  • Endre Berentzen, chief creative officer, cofounder, ANTI Norway, Bergen
  • Ron Burrage, head of beverage design, Pepsico, New York
  • Luis Camano, chief creative officer, founder, Key Activations, Los Angeles
  • Bram Ceuppens, senior creative, Heat, San Francisco
  • Soham Chatterjee, senior creative, Leo Burnett, Chicago
  • Charlotte Clymer, press secretary, Human Rights Campaign, Washington, DC
  • Elaine Cox, executive creative director, Heat, San Francisco
  • Sarah DiLeo, executive producer, Sister, New York
  • Jenny Ehlers, executive creative director, King James, Cape Town
  • Karrem Fahmi, executive creative director, cofounder, Factor, Oakland
  • Roberto Fara, executive creative director, R/GA, New York
  • Amy Ferguson, executive creative director, TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York
  • Raul Garcia, executive creative director, Momentum, Toronto
  • Kim Goulbourne, founder, Made by Bourne, New York
  • Piper Hickman, executive creative director, 360i, New York
  • Maddy Kramer, associate creative director, Anomaly, New York (NCL ’18)
  • Nils Leonard, chief creative officer, Uncommon, London
  • Eduardo Marques, chief creative officer, Publicis Spain, Madrid
  • Julie Matheny, associate creative director, Droga5, New York (NCL ’18)
  • Mietta McFarlane, senior copywriter, Droga5, New York (NCL ’18)
  • Megan McGlynn, creative director, writer, freelance, Chicago
  • Krystle Mullin, creative director, RPA, Santa Monica (NCL ’18)
  • Julia Neumann, executive creative director, TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York
  • Malcolm Poynton, global chief creative officer, Cheil Worldwide, London
  • Ryan Robertson, brand director, Diageo, New York
  • Adama Sall, cofounder, Apollo 51, head of strategy, East, Mekanism, New York
  • Julie Scelzo, global executive creative director, mcgarrybowen, New York
  • Lora Schulson, director of production, 72andSunny, New York
  • Aaron Shimer, director of product marketing, HiRoad, Chicago
  • Jessica Shriftman, creative director of brand, Billie, New York (NCL ’18)
  • Sbu Sitole, chief creative officer, The Odd Number, Johannesburg
  • Gayatri Sriram, digital creative head, FCB Ulka, Delhi (NCL ’18)
  • Tea Uglow, creative director, Google Creative Labs, Sydney
  • Mike Wente, chief strategy officer, Swirl mcgarrybowen, San Francisco
  • Pete Williams, creative director, GPJ, New York
  • Sherman Winfield, creative director, Fitzco, Atlanta
  • Kelly Woh, group creative director, Ogilvy, Shanghai

This year’s 10 winners will be revealed at The 3% Conference at the Navy Pier in Chicago, November 7-8, 2019, with some of them in attendance to speak.  

To make Next Creative Leaders as open and accessible as possible, there is no fee to enter the competition.  Entrants are judged on four-to-six pieces of creative work, their background and information about how they — and their work — are pushing the industry forward and making a positive contribution in terms of diversity, mentoring and advocacy.  

Entries highlighting a candidate’s creativity, leadership and unique point of view can be submitted here. Deadline for submission is August 9, 2019.

  • Wednesday, Jul. 10, 2019
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith launch media venture
In this May 21, 2019 file photo, Will Smith, right, kisses Jada Pinkett Smith as they arrive at the premiere of "Aladdin" at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are looking to expand their brands under a new corporate umbrella.

The Hollywood power couple on Wednesday announced the launch of a new media venture.

According to a statement, Westbrook Inc. will be a cross-platform holding company "formed to execute the Smith family's global content and commerce business strategy."

In a statement, the couple said Westbrook's mission is "to spread positive ideas, art and products that entertain and empower the greatest number of lives."

Westbrook Studios will serve as the studio home to all new premium TV and motion picture projects. It currently serves "Red Table Talk," the Facebook Watch series featuring Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris.

The company will also develop projects as starring vehicles for Will Smith.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 9, 2019
AT&T pulls "Friends" from Netflix for its HBO Max streaming service
In this Sept. 22, 2002, file photo the cast of television's "Friends", from left: Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox Arquette, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer appear during the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

AT&T is pulling "Friends" from Netflix to beef up its own upcoming streaming service. With new services launching, popular shows are splintering onto several different platforms.

The wireless company, which owns the WarnerMedia entertainment business, also said Tuesday that its service will be called HBO Max. It will launch in spring of 2020. As the name suggests, it will contain HBO content, other video from the Warner Bros. studio — like "Friends" — and new series and movies that are exclusive to the service. AT&T has not announced a price.

As more companies — Comcast, Apple, Disney — unveil their own streaming services, they're trying to make them more appealing with exclusive shows and deep libraries. Entertainment companies are pulling some of their stuff from Netflix to stock their own services. It's not clear, of course, how successful those services will be, and they are losing out on licensing revenue by pulling their content. It could also create a confusing and expensive situation for consumers, who have to decide which of all these existing and new video services is worth the cost.

AT&T's decision follows Comcast's NBCUniversal saying last month it would keep "The Office," Netflix's most popular show, for itself starting in 2021. Its service debuts in 2020. Disney's upcoming service will be the exclusive streaming home for its big movies.

Netflix for years has been playing up its original shows and movies, but much of its most popular video belongs to other companies. "Friends," for example, is the second-most watched show on Netflix, according to Nielsen. The company has said it isn't worried about the increased competition.

Netflix said in a prepared statement Tuesday that it's sorry to see "Friends" go in the U.S. Viewing rights for other countries are not affected.

AT&T also said Tuesday that the teen drama "Pretty Little Liars," currently on Netflix, will move to its service, and that it will be the exclusive streaming hub for "Fresh Prince of Bel Air," and Warner Bros. dramas made for The CW, the broadcast network it co-owns with CBS. It is also making original movies and series for the service, including a romantic comedy with Anna Kendrick and at least two movies produced by Reese Witherspoon.

"I don't think any specific content matters at all" to Netflix, said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. The loss of "Friends" by itself isn't a big deal, he said. But over time, if Disney, AT&T and Comcast pull all their stuff from Netflix, that becomes a problem for the streaming pioneer.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 9, 2019
Judge strikes down rule requiring drug ads to reveal prices
In this Oct. 25, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump talks about drug prices during a visit to the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington. A federal judge Monday, July 8, 2019, blocked a major White House initiative on prescription drug costs, saying the Trump administration lacked the legal authority to require drugmakers to disclose their prices in TV ads. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- 

A federal judge Monday blocked a major White House initiative on prescription drug costs, saying the Trump administration lacked the legal authority to require drugmakers to disclose their prices in TV ads.

The narrow ruling by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington, D.C., struck down a requirement that was set to go into effect within hours, on Tuesday. Drugmakers had argued that requiring them to disclose list prices amounted to coercion that would violate their free speech rights under the Constitution.

But in his 27-page ruling Mehta avoided debating the First Amendment, saying simply that the Trump administration had failed to show it had legal authority under the statutes that govern federal programs such as Medicare to require price disclosure.

He wrote that neither the law's "text, structure, nor context evince an intent by Congress to empower (administrative agencies) to issue a rule that compels drug manufacturers to disclose list prices."

Mehta also said he wasn't questioning the motives of the Health and Human Services Department, which issued the price disclosure rule. He suggested the administration could even be right on the merits.

"That policy very well could be an effective tool in halting the rising cost of prescription drugs," the judge wrote. "But no matter how vexing the problem of spiraling drug costs may be, HHS cannot do more than what Congress has authorized. The responsibility rests with Congress to act in the first instance."

HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said the administration was disappointed by the ruling and "will be working with the Department of Justice on next steps related to the litigation." The administration could appeal the ruling, and it could also ask Congress to specifically authorize requiring drugmakers to disclose their prices. The Senate and the House are working on a package of bills that aim to reduce health care costs for insured patients, and drug prices are one of lawmakers' biggest targets.

The lawsuit was brought by three major manufacturers, Merck, Eli Lilly and Amgen. HHS Secretary Alex Azar was once a top executive of Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly.

AARP vice president Nancy LeaMond also called the ruling a disappointment. "Today's ruling is a step backward in the battle against skyrocketing drug prices," she said in a statement. "Americans should be trusted to evaluate drug price information and discuss any concerns with their health care providers."

Mehta was nominated to the federal bench by former President Barack Obama.

  • Monday, Jul. 8, 2019
Universal Production Services Costume Dept. opens in NY
Empire State Development president, CEO and commissioner Howard Zemsky
NEW YORK -- 

Universal Studios Operations Group announced the opening of the Universal Production Services Costume Department in New York.  The newly renovated facility in Long Island City provides costume rental services for features, television, streaming, independents, theatre and commercials in New York and across the East Coast.

The costume rental space has been customized for New York-based costume professionals with enclosed loading docks and parking.  The inventory includes assets from the 1950s to the present, police, SWAT, and FBI uniforms, hospital wardrobes and much more.  With a comfortable client lounge, well organized racks, and spacious fitting rooms, Universal Production Services NY has been tailored to its customers.

“New York’s thriving film and television production is adding jobs and businesses, including the new Universal Studios costume department, and creating economic growth throughout the state,” said Empire State Development president, CEO and commissioner Howard Zemsky.

“We’re excited to offer Universal’s high level of customer service and a handpicked asset collection to the New York market,” said Poppy Cannon-Reese, director, Universal Studios Costume.  “We’re also enhancing the rental experience for our customers with standardized pricing and a two-day approval period.” 

Universal Studios Costume updates their inventory regularly with new assets acquired from features and television, offering services to costumers and designers in all areas of production.  A wide-ranging collection of items, including armor and specialty costumes, is also available for shipment from the Universal City warehouse in Los Angeles.  In addition, Universal Studios Costume offers its Digital Design Workroom.  Garments can be created in an online 3D environment using talent measurements, fabric type and color, and overall fit.  The software simulates draping, accounting for fabric weight and texture.  The 360 design files can be emailed for remote approval and are then converted into a pattern that can be printed on-site.

  • Sunday, Jul. 7, 2019
Actor Cameron Boyce dies at age 20
In this April 25, 2019, file photo, Cameron Boyce arrives at WE Day California at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Actor Cameron Boyce, known for his roles in the Disney Channel franchise “Descendants” and the Adam Sandler “Grown Ups” movies, died Saturday, July 6, 2019, at his home in Los Angeles, according to his spokesperson. He was 20. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Actor Cameron Boyce, best known for his role as the teenage son of Cruella de Vil in the Disney Channel franchise "Descendants," has died. He was 20 years old.

Boyce, who played Carlos de Vil in the "Descendants" movies, died Saturday at his home in Los Angeles, according to his spokesperson.

An official cause of death has not been announced, but his family released a statement Sunday saying Boyce "passed away in his sleep due to a seizure that was a result of an ongoing medical condition for which he was being treated.

"The world is now undoubtedly without one of its brightest lights, but his spirit will live on through the kindness and compassion of all who knew and loved him.  We are utterly heartbroken," the family statement said.

According to his bio on the Disney Channel, Boyce was born and raised in Los Angeles. He was a dancer who got his acting start in commercials, then television and film. Boyce starred alongside Adam Sandler in "Grown Ups" and "Grown Ups 2," and other film credits include "Mirrors," ''Eagle Eye" and the indie feature "Runt." He also starred in the upcoming HBO series "Mrs. Fletcher."

"Descendants 3" is scheduled for release in August.

His spokesperson said Sunday that Boyce was also a philanthropist who used his celebrity to advocate for those without a voice, including the homeless. Last year, he was honored for his work with the Thirst Project, bringing awareness to the global water crisis and raising more than $30,000 for the organization to build two wells in Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, in efforts to bring clean drinking water to the region.

In 2017, he received a Daytime Emmy Award with Disney XD for his participation in the series "Timeless Heroes_Be Inspired," in honor of Black History Month. He appeared alongside his grandmother Jo Ann Boyce, one of 12 black teens known as the Clinton 12 who were the first to integrate into public school in Clinton, Tennessee, according to his Disney Channel biography.

A Disney Channel spokesperson released a statement Sunday saying that from a young age, Boyce dreamed of sharing his artistic talents with the world and was fueled by a desire to make a difference in peoples' lives through his humanitarian work.

"He was an incredibly talented performer, a remarkably caring and thoughtful person and, above all else, he was a loving and dedicated son, brother, grandson and friend," the statement said. "We offer our deepest condolences to his family, castmates and colleagues and join his many millions of fans in grieving his untimely passing. He will be dearly missed."

Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger tweeted Sunday: "The Walt Disney Company mourns the loss of #CameronBoyce, who was a friend to so many of us, and filled with so much talent, heart and life, and far too young to die. Our prayers go out to his family and his friends."

Several of Boyce's co-stars reacted to his death on social media Sunday.

Sandler tweeted : "Loved that kid. Cared so much about his family. Cared so much about the world. Thank you, Cameron, for all you gave to us. So much more was on the way. All our hearts are broken."

  • Saturday, Jul. 6, 2019
Scotland Yard questioned Kevin Spacey over assault claims
In this Jan. 7, 2019 file photo, actor Kevin Spacey arrives at district court in Nantucket, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
LONDON (AP) -- 

British police have travelled to the U.S. to interview Kevin Spacey about sexual assault allegations.

The Metropolitan Police is investigating six claims of sexual assault and assault against the former "House of Cards" star, who ran London's Old Vic Theatre between 2004 and 2015.

Variety reported Saturday that British detectives interviewed Spacey in May.

British police don't identify suspects until they have been charged. Without naming Spacey, the London force said that in May "a man was voluntarily interviewed under caution in America by officers from the Met's Complex Case Team. He was not arrested. Inquiries are ongoing."

"Under caution" means the interview was recorded and can be used in future prosecutions.

Spacey's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the United States, a young man who says Spacey groped him in a Nantucket bar in 2016 dropped his lawsuit against the two-time Academy Award winner this week. Spacey still faces a criminal charge over the alleged incident and pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery in January.

In 2017, American actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Spacey, who is now 59, had climbed on top of him on a bed when Rapp was 14 and Spacey 26.

After Rapp's allegation the Old Vic conducted an investigation into its former leader. It said it had received 20 allegations of inappropriate behavior by Spacey, and had encouraged 14 of the complainants to go to the police.

  • Saturday, Jul. 6, 2019
"The Father" wins Karlovy Vary film fest's top prize
A scene from "The Father" (Karlovy Vary Film Festival)
PRAGUE (AP) -- 

"The Father," a movie directed by Bulgaria's filmmaking duo Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, has won the top prize at the 54th edition of an international film festival in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary.

The movie was chosen from 12 contenders for the Crystal Globe by the Karlovy Vary Film Festival's grand jury. Saturday's award also comes with a $25,000 cash prize.

A family drama with comic and absurd moments, "The Father" describes a story of a man who firmly believes that his wife is trying to contact him after her death.

The filmmakers' previous features, "The Lesson" (2014) and "Glory" (2016) won awards at a number of other international film festivals.

  • Friday, Jul. 5, 2019
Marvel's first openly trans actor calls for more portrayals
This June 26, 2019 photo released by Sony Pictures shows, from left, Angourie Rice, Zach Barack and Remy Hii at the world premiere of "Spider-Man: Far From Home" at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. (Stewart Cook/Sony Pictures via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

The first openly transgender actor in the Marvel Universe says there needs to be more representation of his experience.

Zach Barack plays a classmate of Peter Parker's in "Spider-Man: Far From Home." His gender identity is not addressed in the brief role.

Barack said that to him, superhero movies "always felt like a trans story because it's talking about identity."

"It's about separating what people know about you and what they don't," Barack said at last week's premiere of the film. "And I think that's something I kind of live with every day. And on top of that, I don't see a lot of trans-masculine people on television or trans men specifically, and getting to be part of that is beyond unreal."

The 23-year-old Chicago-area native, who also appeared in the TV series "L.A.'s Finest," said there needs to be more roles for trans people in all sorts of movies.

"The truth is you have to put out there what people want to see and what people need to see," he said. "And as a young person who is trans, I didn't see a trans man on TV ever, ever, really, until I was like, 17. So having a fun movie about a class going on a trip together, and I get to be part of that, I can't even ..."

The new Spider-Man movie is now playing in theaters.

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