Wednesday, December 19, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 3328
  • Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018
Consumer groups allege Google misleads kids in FTC complaint
In this his June 27, 2012 file photo, Vic Gundotra, Google SVP of Engineering, talks about Google Plus at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Nearly two dozen consumer, privacy and public health groups are urging U.S. regulators to investigate whether children are being endangered by deceptive apps in Google's app store for smartphones running on its Android software.

The 102-page complaint filed Wednesday with the Federal Trade Commission alleges Google's Play store is harming kids by allowing apps that break privacy laws, contain adult content or include manipulative advertising in a section of its Play store designed for children.

The call for FTC action is being led by two groups, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy, that have previously attacked Google's approach to kids. In April, they asked the FTC to crack down on Google's YouTube video site for alleged violations of children's online privacy.

Twenty other groups, including Consumer Action, Public Citizen and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, joined in the latest complaint.

Google issued a statement emphasizing its commitment to protecting children while they are online — one of the reasons the company says it prohibits targeted advertising at children under 13.

"We take these issues very seriously and continue to work hard to remove any content that is inappropriately aimed at children from our platform," Google said.

More than 2 billion devices worldwide are powered by Google software, with a significant number of those being used by minors. The complaint focuses on alleged misconduct under U.S. laws and regulations.

The attempt to pressure the FTC to open an investigation comes amid an intensifying backlash against Google, Facebook and other companies that make most of their money by using their free services to track people's interests and whereabouts and then mining that information to sell ads targeted at them.

The angst has raised the specter of Congress drawing up tougher regulations to curb the tech industry's power and restrict its ability to compile digital dossiers about the people who have become increasingly dependent on its services.

Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island who has been critical of Google, issued a statement supporting the groups seeking an FTC investigation as did Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico.

"It is past time for the Federal Trade Commission to crack down to protect children's privacy," Udall said in a statement.

Although the FTC doesn't typically comment on whether it will investigate issues raised in complaints, it has punished both Google and Apple for what it deemed to be child exploitation in the past.

In 2014, it reached a settlement requiring Google to refund $19 million for allowing apps distributed through its store to charge children for purchases made without parents' consent. That came after a similar agreement required Apple to refund $32.5 million for in-app purchases made on iPhones, iPads and other devices without parents' permission.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018
Some advertisers leave Carlson show after immigrant comments
In this March 2, 2017, file photo, Tucker Carlson, host of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
ATLANTA (AP) -- 

Some advertisers say they are leaving conservative host Tucker Carlson's show following his remarks that immigrants could make the U.S. "poorer and dirtier."

It's the latest example of sponsors leaving a Fox News Channel show after controversy, but experts say the flap is likely to blow over. So far, the show's biggest advertisers appear to be sticking with him and his primetime show, "Tucker Carlson Tonight."

Carlson said last Thursday that there's pressure from "our leaders" to accept immigrants "even if it makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided." He added Monday that in the Southwest, "thanks to illegal immigration, huge swaths of the region are covered with garbage and waste that degrade the soil and kill wildlife."

The comments caused a furor on social media. Several advertisers, including the IHOP restaurant chain, personal finance website NerdWallet and Pacific Life insurance, have pulled advertising from the show. (NerdWallet is a content partner of The Associated Press.) SmileDirectClub said it is working with its ad buyers to stop running ads during any political opinion shows.

"As a company, we strongly disagree with Mr. Carlson's statements," Pacific Life said in a tweet Thursday. "Our customer base and our workforce reflect the diversity of our great nation, something we take great pride in."

IHOP spokeswoman Stephanie Peterson said the chain continually evaluates ad placements to make sure they align with the company's values of "welcoming all folks from all backgrounds and beliefs." She said the company will continue to advertise on other Fox News programs.

Earlier this year, Laura Ingraham lost some advertisers after she made negative comments about Florida school shooting survivor David Hogg. And last year, Bill O'Reilly saw advertisers abandon him following reports of sexual-misconduct complaints against him; he left the network shortly afterward.

Fox News Channel said in a statement that "left wing advocacy groups" were using social media to "stifle free speech." The network said it "continues to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions." Fox added that all advertisers have switched their ads to other shows, so no revenue was lost.

Carlson said he would not back down to criticism.

"We're not intimidated," he wrote . "We plan to try to say what's true until the last day. And the truth is, unregulated mass immigration has badly hurt this country's natural landscape."

Most of Carlson's biggest advertisers are sticking with the show or staying mum.

MyPillow, which makes pillows and mattress toppers, has no plans to leave. It's the show's biggest advertiser in terms of dollars spent, according to Kantar Media.

"I make all of my advertising decisions based on what is best for MyPillow, my customers and my employees," MyPillow inventor and CEO Mike Lindell said in a statement Tuesday.

The number five top advertiser, AstraZeneca, said it would "continue to assess our advertising purchases regarding the heightened attention surrounding this matter," but did not announce any action.

The other top three advertisers, Rosland Capital, a precious metals asset firm, and weight-loss companies Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Allen Adamson, co-founder of brand consultancy Metaforce, said Tucker's comments, "while damaging in short term, will be supplanted by some other news event. No matter how polarizing your comments are, if you wait long enough someone else will say something more polarizing and take limelight away."

And advertisers often come back once the controversy dies down. In a statement, NerdWallet said it is pulling ads "at this time and will be reevaluating any ongoing advertising on this program."

Jeff Greenfield, co-founder of marketing measurement firm C3metrics, said these types of controversies are "usually short term" and amount to little more than a slap on the wrist. He said shows "don't feel it unless you permanently pull spending, and most people are not going to do that."

  • Monday, Dec. 17, 2018
"Tonight Show" to air episode in Puerto Rico with "Hamilton"
This combination photo shows actor Lin-Manuel Miranda at the "Mary Poppins Returns" premiere in London on Dec. 12, 2018, left, and TV late night host Jimmy Fallon at the opening night of "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical" in New York on April 23, 2018. (AP Photo)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" will air an episode next year from Puerto Rico including an exclusive performance with Lin-Manuel Miranda reprising his role in "Hamilton."

NBC announced Monday evening that Miranda and the new touring cast will appear in the episode Jan. 15. The telecast will focus on Puerto Rico's recovery efforts to rebuild and raise awareness after Hurricane Maria massively struck the island in 2017.

The episode will delve into how the deadly hurricane devastated Puerto Rico through widespread damage.

Miranda will reprise his lead role in "Hamilton" at the University of Puerto Rico from Jan. 8 to 27. The performances look to raise money for the Flamboyan Arts Fund to benefit the art, artists and arts institutions.

  • Monday, Dec. 17, 2018
Actor Geoffrey Rush accused of misconduct
In this May 18, 2017, file photo, Geoffrey Rush arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" at the Dolby Theatre. “Orange Is the New Black” actress Yael Stone alleges actor Geoffrey Rush engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior when they starred in “The Diary of a Madman” in 2010. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

"Orange Is the New Black" actress Yael Stone alleged actor Geoffrey Rush engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior when they starred in "The Diary of a Madman" in 2010.

Speaking to The New York Times , the 33-year-old said Rush danced naked in front of her in their dressing room, used a mirror to watch her while she showered and sent her occasionally erotic texts.

Stone said she "enthusiastically and willingly" replied to the texts from her fellow Australian actor when she was 25 and he was 59.

"I was so flattered that someone like that would spend their time texting me into the very early hours of the morning," she said. "Gradually the text messages became more sexual in nature, but always encased in this very highfalutin intellectual language."

"I'm embarrassed by the ways I participated," Stone said. "I certainly wouldn't engage as the person I am now in the way I did when I was 25."

Stone said she was trying to manage "uncomfortable moments" without offending the star.

In a statement , Rush said the allegations "are incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context."

"However, clearly Yael has been upset on occasion by the spirited enthusiasm I generally bring to my work. I sincerely and deeply regret if I have caused her any distress. This, most certainly, has never been my intention," Rush said.

A representative for Stone referred The Associated Press to her original comments. A Rush representative did not return an email seeking additional comments Monday morning.

The allegations came as Rush awaited a verdict in a defamation lawsuit that he filed in Australia.

Rush sued the Daily Telegraph's publisher, Nationwide News, and a journalist over two articles and a newspaper poster published in 2017. They related to a report he behaved inappropriately toward a co-star during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015 and 2016.

The Academy Award-winning actor denied the allegation.

A judge is expected to issue a ruling next year.

  • Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018
Disney actor Stoney Westmoreland fired after arrest
This undated photo provided by the Disney Channel on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 shows Stoney Westmoreland as Henry "Ham" Mack in Salt Lake City. In a statement Saturday, Disney announced that the 48-year-old Westmoreland had been dropped from the sitcom “Andi Mack." He was arrested for allegedly attempting to have a sexual relationship with an online acquaintance he believed was 13. (Craig Sjodin/Disney Channel via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Disney Channel actor Stoney Westmoreland has been fired after he was arrested in Salt Lake City for allegedly attempting to have a sexual relationship with an online acquaintance he believed was 13 years old.

In a statement Saturday, Disney announced that the 48-year-old Westmoreland had been dropped from the sitcom "Andi Mack," on which he plays the grandfather of the teen-age title character. The show films in Utah.

Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking told The Associated Press that Westmoreland was on his way to what he believed would be a sexual encounter when he was arrested Friday and charged with enticing a minor and sending inappropriate materials, including nude images. A message left with Westmoreland's agent, Mitchell Stubbs, was not immediately returned.

Westmoreland's other acting credits include "Scandal" and "Breaking Bad."

  • Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018
1947 best-picture Oscar sells for nearly $500,000 at auction
This undated file image provided by Profiles in History shows the best picture Academy Award for "Gentleman's Agreement." (Lou Bustamante/Profiles in History via AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

One Academy Award trophy sold for nearly $500,000 and the second for well over $200,000 in a rare auction of Oscars that ended Friday in Los Angeles.

A best-picture Oscar for "Gentleman's Agreement," the 1947 film starring Gregory Peck that took on anti-Semitism, sold for $492,000. A best picture statuette for 1935's "Mutiny on the Bounty" fetched $240,000.

Both were outpaced by an archive of papers on the origin and development of "The Wizard of Oz" that brought in $1.2 million.

Auction house Profiles in History announced the results after four days of bidding on Hollywood memorabilia that brought in more than $8 million in total.

Other items sold include a TIE fighter helmet from the original "Star Wars" that went for $240,000, a Phaser pistol from the original "Star Trek" TV series that fetched $192,000, a hover board Marty McFly rode in "Back to the Future II" that sold for $102,000, and a golden ticket from "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" that brought in $48,000.

The "Mutiny on the Bounty" Oscar price came close to auction-house projections, but the "Gentleman's Agreement" statuette brought in more than twice what was expected, for reasons that are not clear. The buyers of both Oscars and "The Wizard of Oz" document chose to remain anonymous.

Auctions of Oscar statuettes are very uncommon because winners from 1951 onward have had to agree that they or their heirs must offer it back to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for $1 before selling it elsewhere. The academy has said it firmly believes Oscars should be won, not bought.

Neither of the Oscars sold this week approached the record of $1.5 million paid by Michael Jackson to acquire David O. Selznick's "Gone With the Wind" Oscar in 1999.

  • Friday, Dec. 14, 2018
Apple strikes deal to produce new "Peanuts" content
In this Feb. 12, 2000, file photo, cartoonist Charles M. Schulz displays a sketch of his beloved character "Snoopy" in his office in Santa Rosa, Calif. Apple has struck a deal with DHX Media to produce new “Peanuts” content. The global children’s content and brands company will develop and produce original programs for Apple including new series, specials and shorts based on the beloved characters. “Peanuts” was created by Schulz in 1950. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the "Peanuts" crew will have a new home on Apple's streaming service.

Apple has struck a deal with DHX Media to produce new "Peanuts" content. The global children's content and brands company will develop and produce original programs for Apple including new series, specials and shorts based on the beloved characters.

"Peanuts" was created by Charles M. Schulz in 1950.

DHX will produce original short-form STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) content that will be exclusive to Apple, including astronaut Snoopy.

Peanuts Worldwide and NASA recently signed a Space Act Agreement, designed to inspire a passion for space exploration and STEM among the next generation of students.

  • Friday, Dec. 14, 2018
Producers Guild receives $2M grant from CBS for anti-harassment program
Lori McCreary
LOS ANGELES -- 

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) has announced that its charitable arm, the Producers Guild of America Foundation 501(c)(3), has received a grant of $2 million from CBS in support of its landmark new program, the “Independent Production Safety Initiative,” which will provide free anti-sexual harassment training and legal consultation for independent film, television, and digital productions.

A joint statement from Gail Berman and Lucy Fisher, presidents of the PGA, read, “We are grateful to CBS for supporting the Producers Guild’s efforts to combat sexual harassment in our industry. In speaking to a broad cross-section of our membership, it became evident many independent producers felt strongly that their productions would greatly benefit from professional, in-person anti-sexual harassment training.  However, most independent productions lack sufficient financial and institutional resources to gain access to such training. The PGA Foundation’s ‘Independent Production Safety Initiative’ is a groundbreaking new program created to answer that need by providing free training to independent productions. We believe it will make an immediate impact toward improving the professional lives of thousands of workers in our industry.”

Additionally, for any qualifying independent production which participates in the PGA Foundation program, there also will be access of up to two hours of free consultation with a legal expert versed in the field of harassment law. These hours may be used at any point as needed during the production process to address any issues or circumstances that arise.

“The inclusion of legal consultation hours is a critical element of the ‘Independent Production Safety Initiative,’” said Lori McCreary, PGA president emeritus and chair of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Task Force. “Unique and often complicated circumstances can arise over the course of any given production, so providing access to an attorney lets producers know they will not be left on their own if incidents of harassment occur. This expert legal counsel will reinforce producers’ knowledge and authority around workplace harassment and reporting procedures.”

The PGA Foundation’s “Independent Production Safety Initiative” will use funds from its CBS grant to pay for on set, in-person, anti-sexual harassment training as well as up to two hours of legal consultation to any qualifying independent film, television, or digital production. A qualifying production will be defined as one which includes more than 20 individuals among its cast and crew, but does not have access to a company human resources or legal department. To assist productions with 20 or fewer cast and crew members, the program will provide complimentary access to group training sessions, which will be held on a quarterly basis across a variety of production centers across the U.S.

The “Independent Production Safety Initiative” program builds on the work of the PGA’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Task Force, which was established in 2017 in response to reports of widespread misconduct in the entertainment industry. In January 2018, The PGA released its Anti-Sexual Harassment Guidelines, making it the first organization in the entertainment industry to provide concrete protocols to combat sexual harassment. Additional details about the PGA Foundation’s “Independent Production Safety Initiative” and its submission procedures will be available on the Producers Guild website in early 2019.

  • Friday, Dec. 14, 2018
CBS settled with Dushku over "Bull" star's comments
In this Sunday, April 22, 2018 file photo, producer Eliza Dushku attends a screening of "Mapplethorpe" at the SVA Theatre during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival in New York. CBS reached a $9.5 million confidential settlement last year with actress Dushku after on-set sexual comments from Michael Weatherly, star of the network's show "Bull," made her uncomfortable. CBS confirmed the settlement Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

CBS reached a $9.5 million confidential settlement last year with actress Eliza Dushku after on-set sexual comments from Michael Weatherly, star of the network's show "Bull," made her uncomfortable when she was beginning a run as a recurring character.

CBS confirmed the settlement Thursday night in a statement to The Associated Press.

Dushku was written off the show after complaining about Weatherly's comments on her appearance and jokes involving sex and rape made in front of cast and crew in March of 2017, according to the New York Times , which first reported the settlement.

"The allegations in Ms. Dushku's claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done," the CBS statement said. "The settlement of these claims reflects the projected amount that Ms. Dushku would have received for the balance of her contract as a series regular, and was determined in a mutually agreed upon mediation process at the time."

The settlement remerged during the current investigation of former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, who was ousted in September after the New Yorker published allegations from 12 women who said he subjected them to mistreatment that included forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.

Weatherly, who appeared on the CBS series "NCIS" for 13 years before "Bull" began in 2016, said in an email to the Times that he had made jokes to Dushku during taping mocking lines in the script.

"When Eliza told me that she wasn't comfortable with my language and attempt at humor, I was mortified to have offended her and immediately apologized," the email said. "After reflecting on this further, I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate and I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza."

Dushku declined comment to the Times. Her manager did not immediately reply to an AP request for comment.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018
Hungarian director Ferenc Kosa, winner in Cannes, dies at 81
This March 15, 2017 file photo portrays Hungarian film director Ferenc Kosa in Budapest. Kosa died on Dec. 12, 2018, at the age of 81. (Attila Kovacs/MTI via AP, FILE)
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- 

Ferenc Kosa, winner of the best director award at the 1967 Cannes film festival, has died at 81, the Hungarian Academy of Arts said Wednesday.

Kosa was recognized in Cannes for "Ten Thousand Days," about the travails of a Hungarian peasant family from the 1930s onward. The film was banned for a few years by officials in communist Hungary because of its references to the 1956 anti-Soviet revolution.

"Through his talent and commitment, (Kosa) played a defining role in the renovation of the Hungarian film artistry of the era," the Hungarian Academy of Arts said. "'Ten Thousand Days' belongs by now to the classical assets of not just Hungarian, but universal film history."

Kosa co-wrote many of his scripts with poet and author Sandor Csoori and often worked with cinematographer Sandor Sara. Among the trio's works are "Ten Thousand Days," ''Judgment" (1970) and "Snowfall" (1974).

"Kuldetes" ("Mission"), his 1977 portrait of Andras Balczo, winner of a total of three gold and two silver medals in the modern pentathlon at three Olympic Games, was a big success in Hungary but later banned for its criticism of the communist system.

Upon Hungary's return to democracy in 1990, Kosa was a founder of the Socialist Party and a parliamentary lawmaker from 1990 to 2006. He played a key role in drafting Hungary's film and media laws, since greatly amended.

Kosa was born in Nyiregyhaza, northeastern Hungary.
 

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