Friday, April 19, 2019

News Briefs

Displaying 11 - 20 of 3525
  • Friday, Apr. 12, 2019
Amazon: Woody Allen's #MeToo comments wrecked movie deal
In this Nov. 14, 2017 file photo, director Woody Allen attends a special screening of "Wonder Wheel" in New York. On Friday, April 12, 2019, an Amazon lawyer said the filmmaker breached his four-movie deal with the online giant by making statements about the #MeToo movement that damaged prospects for promoting his films. Attorney Robert Klieger told a Manhattan federal judge that the company protected itself after Allen made comments that at a minimum were insensitive. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Woody Allen breached his four-movie deal with the online giant by making statements about the #MeToo movement that damaged prospects for promoting his films, an Amazon lawyer said Friday.

Attorney Robert Klieger told U.S. District Judge Denise Cote that the company protected itself after Allen made "public comments that at a minimum were insensitive to the #MeToo movement."

The hearing was related to a lawsuit Allen filed in February seeking at least $68 million in damages. The lawsuit said Amazon ended his 2017 contract in June without ever releasing a completed film, "A Rainy Day in New York."

Allen was not in court. John Quinn, his lawyer, told the judge that Seattle-based Amazon initially claimed it was ending the deal because of allegations made against Allen, not because of his recent statements.

"The baseless allegations against Mr. Allen are decades old," Quinn said. He added that the claims were well known when Amazon signed its deal with Allen.

Allen's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, said in 1992 that Allen molested her in an attic when she was 7. Allen has repeatedly denied it.

In 2014, Farrow wrote about the allegations and then appeared in an interview early last year for the first time.

Quinn said Amazon has since changed its explanation for terminating the contract to blaming Allen for making statements saying that the #MeToo movement should not become a witch hunt.

The lawyer said the company had also cited claims that people in the industry won't work with Allen.

Regardless, Quinn said, Allen planned to produce a new movie this summer.

Klieger cited the comment to say it was proof Allen does not need Amazon to finish his films.

Klieger said that within a month of signing the contract, Allen made public comments about the movement that were insensitive and resulted in controversy "in Hollywood and outside of Hollywood."

The effect of the comments mean the pictures can no longer be made or promoted, Klieger said.

After hearing from both lawyers, the judge set a schedule for the case that stretches into next year.

Allen and possibly Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, among others, were likely to provide depositions unless the case is resolved through private mediation in coming weeks.

  • Thursday, Apr. 11, 2019
Tambor's character to be killed off in "Transparent" finale
This May 5, 2016 file photo shows Jeffrey Tambor, a cast member in the Amazon original series "Transparent," at a screening of the show at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. Tambor’s character will be killed off in the musical finale on the web TV series “Transparent.” He played the lead Maura, a late-in-life transgender parent, until he was fired last year following allegations of sexual misconduct. Tambor has denied the allegations. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

There will be a death in the family when Jeffrey Tambor's character is killed off in the musical finale of the web TV series "Transparent."

Tambor played the lead, Maura, a late-in-life transgender parent, until he was fired last year following allegations of sexual misconduct. Tambor has denied the allegations.

The finale will begin with Maura's death, and the episode will focus on how her family deals with it.

Amazon and "Transparent" series creator Jill Soloway told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that the series needed a different way of looking at the family and that "we did it through song."

The series stars Judith Light, Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass and Gaby Hoffmann.

"Transparent" debuted in 2014. A date for the finale has not yet been released.

  • Thursday, Apr. 11, 2019
Geoffrey Rush wins case against Sydney newspaper publisher
Australian actor Geoffrey Rush, centre, arrives at the Supreme Court in Sydney, Thursday, April 11, 2019. Oscar-winning actor Rush won his defamation case against a Sydney newspaper publisher and journalist over reports he had been accused of inappropriate behavior toward an actress. (Dylan Coker/AAP Image via AP)
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- 

Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush won his defamation case on Thursday against a Sydney newspaper publisher and journalist over reports he had been accused of inappropriate behavior toward an actress.

The 67-year-old Australian had sued The Daily Telegraph's publisher and journalist Jonathon Moran over two stories and a poster published in late 2017.

Australian Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney ruled that Rush had been defamed. Wigney awarded an initial payment of 850,000 Australian dollars ($610,000) in damages, but lawyers will return to court on May 10 when the judge determines damages for economic loss and costs.

The reports alleged inappropriate behavior toward co-star Eryn Jean Norvill by Rush while he was starring in the Sydney Theatre Company's production of "King Lear" in 2015 and 2016.

Rush's lawyer Bill McClintock told a three-week trial that ended in November that the actor might never work again because of the newspaper's reports. Rush's phone may not ring with job offers and he may never regain his confidence and desire to work, his lawyer said.

Rush outside court thanked his family for their support "during this harrowing time."

"There are no winners in this case. It's been extremely distressing for everyone involved," he told reporters.

He argued that the newspaper, which used a headline "King Leer," portrayed him as a pervert and sexual predator. Wigney was scathing of the newspaper's reporting.

"This was, in all the circumstances, a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the very worst kind," the judge said. "It was difficult to avoid the conclusion that it was calculated to damage."

Norvill, who played Lear's daughter Cordelia in the production, did not speak to the newspaper before the articles were published, but agreed to testify for the newspaper at the trial. The 34-year-old actress testified that while she was playing dead, Rush stroked his hand across the side of her right breast and on to her hip during a preview performance.

Rush denied allegations that he deliberately touched Norvill's breast, her lower back under her shirt when they were backstage or making lewd gestures and comments toward her.

Wigney said on Thursday he did not find Norvill's evidence "credible or reliable" while he accepted Rush's testimony.

Norvill said outside court she stood by her evidence.

"I never wanted these issues dealt with by a court. This case has caused hurt for everyone," Norvill said. "There are no winners, only losers."

Sydney Theatre Company had said in a 2017 statement Norvill complained of Rush's "inappropriate behavior" after the production ended.

"At the time the complaint was made, the complainant requested that the matter be dealt with confidentially, and did not want Mr. Rush notified or involved in any investigation," the statement said. The company said it complied with the request "in the interest of the complainant's health and welfare."

Norvill said on Thursday she would have been content with an apology and "a promise to do better."

"We need to make genuine, cultural change in our professions and industries," Norvill said. "We can do it, but only if we acknowledge and confront with honesty the problems and the complexities of the power imbalances in our workplaces."

The Daily Telegraph's editor Ben English said he was reviewing the judgment.

"We are disappointed with Justice Wigney's findings, in particular his dismissal of Eryn Jean Norvill's evidence," English said in a statement. "We disagree with his criticisms of her and she has our full support."

In an unrelated allegation, "Orange Is the New Black" actress Yael Stone told The New York Times in December that Rush engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior when they starred in "The Diary of a Madman" in 2010.

The 33-year-old told the newspaper that 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.

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

Rush won the best actor Oscar in 1996 for his portrayal of pianist David Helfgott in "Shine" and was nominated for roles in "Shakespeare In Love," "'Quills" and "The King's Speech." He is also famed for his portrayal of Captain Barbossa in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films.

He received his nation's highest civilian honor in 2014, the Companion of the Order of Australia, for service to the arts.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019
Oprah Winfrey keynotes annual women's summit; will team with Prince Harry on Apple series
In this Oct. 21, 2017 file photo, Oprah Winfrey arrives for the David Foster Foundation 30th Anniversary Miracle Gala and Concert, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Oprah Winfrey says it's time for women in the world to set the agenda.

The philanthropist and former talk show host made the remarks during her keynote speech Wednesday night at the 10th annual Women in the World summit in New York City's Lincoln Center.

The annual event features speeches and panel discussions that address the central question, "Can Women Save the World?" Winfrey's response is that women have been doing exactly that for so many years.

She says women should continue to "rock the boat" and redefine the message that's positive, ambitious, inclusive and "brimming with hope." The summit runs through April 12.

Also on Wednesday, it was announced that Oprah and Britain's Prince Harry are creating a documentary series on mental health for Apple's new streaming service.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019
Donald Glover, Rihanna film to hit Amazon Saturday
In this Sept. 16, 2018 file photo, Donald Glover, creator and star of the FX series "Atlanta," and a musician who performs under the name Childish Gambino, poses at a private cocktail party to celebrate the FX network's Emmy nominations in Los Angeles. Glover and Rihanna’s secretive new film “Guava Island” is coming to Amazon Prime Video this weekend. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Donald Glover and Rihanna's secretive new film "Guava Island" is coming to Amazon Prime Video this weekend.

Glover tweeted Wednesday that it'd be available to stream for free starting Saturday at 12:01 am. According to Vanity Fair, it will be available to watch for free for 18 hours.

The film is described as a tropical thriller about a local musician who wants to throw a festival. It was shot on location in Cuba and "Black Panther" breakout Letitia Wright co-stars.

Glover's frequent collaborator Hiro Murai, who has directed several episodes of "Atlanta" and the acclaimed "This Is America" music video, directed "Guava Island."

The actor-singer also tweeted the film will be shown at the Coachella following his performance Saturday at the music festival.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019
Discovery says new Chip and Joanna Gaines network to debut next year
In this March 29, 2016, file photo, Joanna and Chip Gaines pose for a portrait in New York. The lifestyle team of Chip and Joanna Gaines will launch their own Discovery-affiliated television network in the summer of 2020. (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The lifestyle team of Chip and Joanna Gaines will launch their own Discovery-affiliated television network in the summer of 2020.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav announced the Gaines' channel Wednesday prior to a sales presentation to advertisers. There's no name yet. It will replace the current DIY network, which is seen in about 52 million homes in the United States.

No programming was revealed, except for reruns of "Fixer Upper," the HGTV series that launched the Gaines' media career in Waco, Texas. Discovery said topics that will be covered include community, home, garden, food and wellness.

Allison Page, who currently runs HGTV, will be president of the joint venture between Discovery and Magnolia, the Gaines' company. There are also plans for a dedicated app and subscription streaming service.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019
Algorithms predict who will be left standing in “Game of Thrones”
A "Game of Thrones" algorithms study page
MUNICH -- 

Shortly before the curtain drops on the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones” (GoT), students attending a computer science seminar at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) embarked on an unusual scientific mission: predicting which character has the best chance to sit the coveted Iron Throne. 

Students at the Technical University of Munich developed an application that scours the web for data about Game of Thrones, then crunches the numbers using a set of artificial intelligence algorithms that they created to predict the survival chances of each of the Game of Thrones characters. 

Back in 2016 and just before the airing of Season 6, students of the same course created an algorithm that accurately predicted Jon Snow’s resurrection. 

Similar algorithms are used in medicine and finance

The algorithms developed now by the students predicts that Daenerys Targaryen has the highest chance (99%) of surviving the harrowing GoT world. Her Hand of the King, Tyrion Lannister, also has a promising 97% survival rate. 

Survival rates are predicted using longevity analysis – a technique similar to scientific studies that examine the effects of treatments and complications on cancer patients. For the full list of characters and their survival chances, click here.

Savvy GoT fans can get an in-depth look into the main reasons for the algorithm’s predictions. For instance, being born in Winterfell to the House of Stark as well as only being married once seems to increase the chances of Sansa Stark to be eliminated in the upcoming season; her predicted likelihood of death is 73%. 

Fans interested in exploring the differences between the plot of the TV show and the story told by the books underlying the TV series, can find a side by side comparison of details about characters, including age, status (dead vs. alive) and longevity prospects. 

Popular series drives passionate learning
The work on the survival chances algorithm is part of a JavaScript seminar given each semester at the Technical University of Munich computer science department. During the course, students learn how to design, develop and deploy intelligent computer systems.

Lead mentor of the class, Dr. Guy Yachdav commented that “while the task of predicting survival chances for Game of Thrones characters relies on data taken from the world of fantasy, the exact same Artificial Intelligence techniques are used in the real world and are having a powerful impact on our everyday lives.” 

Professor Burkhard Rost heading the Chair for Bioinformatics at TUM’s Informatics faculty said, “The combination of passion and teaching is a brilliant way to create new tools that matter. In our course at TUM we found a fun way to teach students how to use this technology and prepare them to build the next big thing once they graduate.”

  • Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019
Netflix launches comedy channel on SiriusXM
In this March 30, 2019 file photo, Chris Rock presents the award for outstanding comedy series at the 50th annual NAACP Image Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Netflix is launching its first audio venture that will feature the video streaming service's comedy programming on SiriusXM.

The companies on Wednesday announced "Netflix Is A Joke Radio" will feature highlights from such comedians as Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, Jerry Seinfeld and Wanda Sykes. The channel also will feature segments from future stand-up specials and clips from Netflix's comedy talk shows.

The channel plans to introduce a daily show featuring celebrity guests and comedians.

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos says the service is excited to celebrate the art of comedy.

SiriusXM president Scott Greenstein says the service is eager to offer subscribers access to Netflix's "star-studded library, new specials and original live shows."

The programming will launch on SiriusXM Channel 93 on Monday.

  • Tuesday, Apr. 9, 2019
Nice Shoes opens new Chicago outpost
Nice Shoes (l-r) EP Tara Holmes, sr. colorist Ron Sudul and color assistant Alex Frankland
CHICAGO -- 

NYC-based creative studio Nice Shoes has expanded in the Midwest, opening its first stand-alone space in Chicago’s River North district. The studio will be led by sr. colorist Ron Sudul and color assistant Alex Frankland, and be supported by executive producer Tara Holmes and producer Serena Bove, who will be splitting their time between the NYC and Chicago studios.

Having previously operated out of a shared space in Chicago, Nice Shoes launches its own quarters on the heels of an influx of work from the Midwest region, with a steady flow of projects from local clients such as mcgarrybowen, EnergyBBDO, and We Are Unlimited. The space, which is larger than the former shared space, will allow the studio to scale based on project needs and allow for Nice Shoes’ global roster of colorist talent to work out of the studio.

Sudul has been with Nice Shoes since its inception, spending nearly two decades in the NYC headquarters experiencing the evolution of the brand as it continued to adapt with industry shifts. Nice Shoes sent him to Chicago in 2014 to launch the studio’s Midwest presence. His passion for perfecting imagery has brought him into contact with such recording artists as Kanye West and Beyoncé, collaborating with the power duo on experimental pieces with looks that shatter the boundaries of traditional music videos. Sudul has also worked on a range of spots for brands such as AT&T, Givenchy, IBM, UPS, Starbucks, GE, Dunkin’ Donuts, Coca-Cola, MTV and Chase. 

  • Tuesday, Apr. 9, 2019
VFX Legion extends reach, opens studio in British Columbia
James David Hattin
BURBANK, Calif. -- 

VFX Legion, the Burbank-based visual effects company, has launched a studio in British Columbia, Canada. The new division accesses the province’s substantial tax rebates, and the diverse roster of senior artists needed to efficiently craft the high-quality photo-realistic visual effects that feature films and episodic television shows demand.

Although the expansion to B.C. marks the first time that VFX Legion has established a presence outside of L.A., it has been a global company since founder and creative director James David Hattin opened its doors in 2013. With a next-generation pipeline at its core, Legion can render an artist’s location irrelevant, thus establishing its Kelowna, B.C. studio as a creative hub.

The company kicks off the new venture with a skilled roster of in-house talent, along with a scalable collective of specialized visual effects artists based beyond commuting distance to its studio.  Hattin is currently finalizing the signing of a head of production/sr. VFX supervisor to helm the B.C. operation as Legion continues to solidify new relationships with top-tier talent based throughout the whole of the province.

“British Columbia’s dense pool of experienced artists makes it an ideal location for VFX Legion’s first foray into a tax haven,” said Hattin, the architect of the company’s pipeline. “It enables us to take optimum advantage of our infrastructure’s capabilities and bring some of B.C.’s most creative and experienced visual effects artists into our fold.”

Hattin continued, “The impetus behind the launch of VFX Legion was the need for a new generation of visual effects companies with state-of-the-art capabilities, ensuring that establishing a presence in B.C., or any region offering tax incentives, doesn’t come at the cost of limited access to top-tier talent.” 

VFX Legion’s capabilities build on Hattin’s 20+ years of experience as a tech-savvy lead talent helming visual effects teams for Hollywood’s episodic television shows and blockbuster films. The hands-on creative supervises and collaborates with the company’s LA and B.C.-based artists, as well as its worldwide network of talent, working in real-time as a single unit through every phase of production.

Shonda Rhimes’ high-profile series, Scandal (ABC), entrusted Legion to handle all its visual effects needs for three seasons, through last year’s finale.  Currently, How to Get Away with Murder (ABC), Madam Secretary (CBS), and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (CW), are a few of the shows that continue to return to work with the company’s team season after season.  Hardcore Henry, Sinister 2, Insidious 3, Asura, 12 Strong and Superfly are among Legion’s feature film credits.

British Columbia is the first of a series of regions offering tax incentives where VFX Legion plans to put down stakes.  Hattin is in the process of assembling a core team of artists in New York, and plans are in the works to launch a division in the state.

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