Tuesday, November 20, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 51 - 60 of 3282
  • Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018
MoviePass operations under investigation by NY AG
This Aug. 23, 2018, file photo shows Movie Pass debit cards and used movie tickets in New York. The company that runs the beleaguered MoviePass, a discount service for movie tickets at theaters, is being investigated by the New York Attorney General on allegations it misled investors. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The company that runs the beleaguered MoviePass discount service for theater tickets is being investigated by the New York Attorney General on allegations that it misled investors.

Parent company Helios and Matheson of New York said in a prepared statement that it is aware of the investigation, but that it believes, "our public disclosures have been complete, timely and truthful and we have not misled investors."

The investigation was first reported by CNBC.

The company has struggled financially and is facing class action lawsuits filed on behalf of investors claiming the company failed to disclose aspects of a business model that were unsustainable.

Shares of Helios and Matheson, which is in danger of being delisted by Nasdaq because they had fallen to about a penny, plunged at the opening bell.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018
"Orange Is the New Black" to wrap after next year's season 7
In this Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017 file photo, Nick Sandow, from left, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Selenis Leyva, Diane Guerrero, Jackie Cruz, Lori Petty and Yael Stone pose in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series for "Orange Is The New Black" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

"Orange Is the New Black" is fading to black after its upcoming seventh season.

Cast members posted a video Wednesday announcing the series' 2019 end, which was confirmed by a Netflix spokeswoman.

In the video, the actresses thanked fans for their support and promised a fulfilling wrap-up to the comedy-drama set in a women's prison.

Actress Kate Mulgrew said she'll miss being with a "groundbreaking" TV series.

"Orange Is the New Black" was inspired by Piper Kerman's memoir about her time in federal prison.

The show was nominated twice for top-series Emmy honors, and Uzo Aduba won two acting trophies. The series was an early hit for Netflix when the streaming service began showing original programming.

The last season's 2019 release date for "Orange Is the New Black" wasn't announced.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018
Prosecutors disclose more misconduct by Weinstein detective
In this Oct. 11, 2018 file photo, Harvey Weinstein enters State Supreme Court in New York. New York prosecutors say the former lead police detective in Weinstein's sexual assault investigation urged one of his accusers to delete information from her phone before turning it over to prosecutors. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office detailed the alleged misconduct in a letter to Weinstein’s lawyer that was made public Wednesday, Oct. 17. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

New York prosecutors say the former lead police detective in the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault investigation urged one of his accusers to delete information from her phone before turning it over to prosecutors.

The Manhattan district attorney's office detailed the alleged misconduct in a letter to Weinstein's lawyer that was made public Wednesday.

The new allegations against Detective Nicholas DiGaudio involve an unidentified woman who says Weinstein raped her in his Manhattan hotel room in 2013.

Prosecutors say the woman didn't delete any information, which was personal and unrelated to the investigation.

DiGaudio was removed from the Weinstein case last week after evidence surfaced that he instructed a witness to keep quiet when she raised doubts about another accuser's claim of sexual misconduct. There was no immediate response from DiGaudio's union.

That revelation led prosecutors to drop a charge related to that allegation.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018
MeToo, Kavanaugh topics of talk at women filmmakers' event
Samira Wiley, left, and Uzo Aduba attend the Through Her Lens: The Tribeca Chanel Women's Filmmaker Program Luncheon at Locanda Verde on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The midterm elections, #MeToo, and the recent confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court: All were key topics of discussion at an annual gathering for women filmmakers Tuesday in Manhattan.

"Nevertheless, we persisted," intoned Jane Rosenthal, executive chair of Tribeca Enterprises, using the popular feminist slogan over and over as she discussed a year of women's struggles, both inside and outside Hollywood.

The gathering took place almost exactly a year after the #MeToo movement erupted into public consciousness, following stunning allegations of sexual misconduct against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

"Last year when we met we experienced a watershed moment," Rosenthal told attendees at the luncheon for "Through Her Lens: the Tribeca Chanel Women's Filmmaker Program ," which provides mentorship and funding for emerging women filmmakers. "Brave women were coming forward to demand societal change. And the world was listening — or so we thought."

Rosenthal called the recent Kavanaugh hearings "devastating" for women.

"It's hard to fight for equality in the workplace or the arts when we haven't achieved equality in the eyes of the government," she said. "We will, we must persist."

Kavanaugh took his seat on the high court last week after overcoming allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied, by accuser Christine Blasey Ford.

Rosenthal also referred to efforts to achieve greater representation of women in Hollywood, especially behind the camera, where women still lag far behind men. Only one woman has ever won an Oscar for directing — Kathryn Bigelow, who is serving as a one of the mentors for the Tribeca program.

"We're not waiting for the rest of the world to catch up with us," Rosenthal said. "We're leading."

Actress Katie Holmes spoke of the importance of women mentoring and supporting others, and said she was sensing a shift for the better in Hollywood.

"I've seen a lot of captains of our industry really leading by example and supporting other women and that's what today is all about," she said in an interview. "What we need to do, forever, is continue to support each other, to inspire the new group of filmmakers, and to be protective of each other."

Holmes, now working on her second film as a director — an adaptation of the historical novel "Rare Objects" — said it was important to her to work with fellow women.

"I feel very creative around other women and I feel very understood," she said. She said a 2014 movie she starred in, written and directed by Karen Hopkins, was an especially rewarding experience.

"I loved her vision and I loved the character that she created," Holmes said. "And there was a wonderful energy on set."

Another actress in attendance, Piper Perabo, was wearing a T-shirt saying, "Believe Women." Last month, she was arrested for civil disobedience for protesting at Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing.

Perabo said she was not discouraged by what some have seen as setbacks for the movement, with Kavanaugh's confirmation and also the dropping of a charge against Weinstein in a New York court.

"It's never been easy," she said. "And the fact that even a setback in the Weinstein case makes headlines shows that people are talking about it and it's important to people, and people are going to discuss it and it's news."

"There are going to be steps forward and steps back, but that doesn't mean you give up," she said.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018
Netflix's 3Q subscriber growth gets rave reviews on Wall St.
This March 19, 2018, file photo shows the Netflix app on an iPad in Baltimore. Netflix, Inc. reports earnings Tuesday, Oct. 16. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Netflix regained its stride with surprisingly strong subscriber growth in the third quarter, after an unexpected springtime stumble triggered fears that it was losing its allure.

The video-streaming service added 7 million subscribers worldwide from July through September, far above the company's target of 5 million and exceeding analyst projections.

Netflix fell well shy of its subscriber goals for the April-to-June period, raising fears that fiercer competition from Amazon, Hulu, HBO and other streaming services was siphoning away viewers.

In a show of confidence, Netflix predicted it will pick up another 9.4 million subscribers during the current quarter ending in December — traditionally one of the company's busiest times because of all the subscriptions given as holiday gifts. Even so, the forecast calls for 1.1 million more subscribers than Netflix gained in the same period last year.

Netflix ended September with 137 million worldwide subscribers, including 58.5 million in the U.S.

"Netflix's strong quarter will at least temporarily put to rest questions over the long-term viability of its business," said eMarketer analyst Paul Verna.

Investors lifted Netflix's stock by more than 11 percent to $386.30 in extended trading. The stock still remains below its record high of $423.21 in June, just before the subscriber-growth scare Netflix announced in July.

Subscriber growth has always been more important to investor perceptions of Netflix than its relatively small profits. Investors are counting on Netflix to grow quickly in order to gain an insurmountable advantage over streaming rivals in an increasingly crowded market.

In an effort to be more precise and reduce the volatility in its stock, Netflix plans to exclude people on free trials of its service from its subscriber numbers. In a letter to shareholders Tuesday, Netflix said it believes paid subscribers now are a more stable indicator of how well the service is doing.

"I'm afraid the (second quarter-to-third quarter) story is probably mostly an issue of forecasting as opposed to anything changing in the business," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said during comments broadcast in an online video.

On the financial front, Netflix earned $403 million on revenue of $4 billion in the quarter. But the company continued to burn through cash to pay for its programming, which includes a critically acclaimed selection of shows such as "Stranger Things," ''Orange Is The New Black," and "Ozark."

In a coup, Netflix shows won 23 Emmys in last month's awards ceremony, tying HBO for the most among all TV networks.

The laurels are proving expensive. Netflix had a negative cash flow of $859 million in the third quarter, nearly doubling from a negative cash flow of $465 million last year. The trend raises the possibility that Netflix might need to borrow money to pay its bills, something that is getting more expensive to do as interest rates rise.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018
Book Review: "Anything You Can Imagine" recounts Peter Jackson's quest to film Tolkien
This cover image released by HarperCollins shows "Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson and the Making of Middle-earth” by Ian Nathan. (HarperCollins via AP)

"Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson & the Making of Middle-earth" (HarperCollins), by Ian Nathan

Reaching the final sentence in film writer Ian Nathan's 576-page exploration of movie director Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy requires the stoicism of Frodo and the vigor of Gandalf. So much detail lies along the way that even the eye of Sauron would need a shot of Visine to keep going.

That shouldn't put off fans of the films that, collectively, gained 30 Oscar nominations and 17 of the golden statuettes, including a Best Picture award for the finale, 2003's "The Return of the King." Oh, and they left behind a worldwide box office stuffed with a couple billion dollars, too.

Jackson's movies are a marvel of cinematic storytelling, likely to remain so because he came to understand that the special effects should be deployed not just to thrill but also to give emotional life to novelist J.R.R. Tolkien's world. (It's an epiphany that Jackson apparently forgot with the bloated "King Kong" and his overstretched LOTR follow-up, "The Hobbit.")

In breezy and often cheeky prose, Nathan tells a grand story worthy of the annals of great filmmaking: A little-known New Zealand director wins over Hollywood moneymen to translate Tolkien to film, once thought to be an impossible task given the complexity of Tolkien's vision of a place called Middle-earth and the hobbits, wizards, dwarves, elves and others who inhabit it.

Tolkien himself shrugged off the idea of a movie version in the late 1950s. A decade later, in 1967, his books enormously popular on college campuses, the aged Oxford professor accepted 104,000 British pounds for the film rights in (gasp!) perpetuity. In hindsight, it's enough to make an orc cry.

For decades, however, Tolkien's folly appeared to be a good deal as one effort after another failed and the rights became a cinematic albatross. The most fanciful idea may have come from the Beatles, who asked "2001" director Stanley Kubrick to join them in presenting a music-infused version with Paul as Frodo, George as Gandalf, John as Gollum and Ringo as Sam (so reports Jackson after a chat with McCartney).

The hero of the quest to film "The Lord of the Rings" is Jackson, but he doesn't set out alone. From co-screenwriters and producers to special-effects masters and illustrators, those in the fellowship he assembled matched his enthusiasm for the years it took to complete the trilogy. Nathan wisely explores and celebrates their unique contributions, not just those of actors Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen and other more easily identifiable participants. A chapter on movie music master Howard Shore is particularly welcome for explaining the usually overlooked composition of film scores.

Nathan also takes a Helm's Deep dive into the films' best creations, their characters as well as their sequences. The wretched creature Gollum became perhaps the first truly realistic CGI character in the movies, thanks to actor Andy Serkis' voice and motion-capture performance and the army of artists that created nearly 700 sculpted expressions and some 9,000 muscle shapes to bring Gollum to life.

In this age of the director's extended cut, a flagging reader could be excused for wishing for a downsized edition of "Anything You Can Imagine." Yet there is much to learn, to chuckle over and to admire as Jackson and his band of indefatigable Kiwis face down the naysayers.

Douglass K. Daniel is the author of "Anne Bancroft: A Life" (University Press of Kentucky).

  • Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018
Facebook requires UK political ad buyers to reveal identity
In this June 7, 2013, file photo, the Facebook "like" symbol is on display on a sign outside the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Facebook says it has purged more than 800 U.S. pages and accounts for spamming users with garbage links and clickbait. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
LONDON (AP) -- 

Facebook says that anyone who takes out a British political ad on the social media platform will now be forced to reveal their identity, in a bid to increase transparency and curb misinformation.

The company said Tuesday that it will also require disclaimers for any British political advertisements. All the data on the ad buyers will be archived for seven years in a publicly accessible database.

Facebook is already applying a similar system in the United States, which is holding midterm elections this year, and Brazil, which held a general vote this month.

British lawmakers have called for greater oversight of social media companies and election campaigns to protect democracy in the digital age.

A House of Commons report this year said democracy is facing a crisis because data analysis and social media allow campaigns to target voters with messages of hate without their consent.

"While the vast majority of ads on Facebook are run by legitimate organizations, we know that there are bad actors that try to misuse our platform," Facebook said in a statement. "By having people verify who they are, we believe it will help prevent abuse."

Facebook said it's up against "smart and well-funded adversaries who change their tactics as we spot abuse," but it believes that increased transparency is good for democracy and the electoral process.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018
Ann Curry to host TV show to solve medical mysteries
In this July 17, 2017 file photo, journalist Ann Curry attends a special screening of "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power" in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Ann Curry is getting into the business of medical crowdsourcing on television.

The former "Today" show anchor has agreed to anchor a Turner series that describes people with mysterious medical ailments, in the hope of reaching doctors or patients who have seen something similar and gotten help.

Curry said Monday that she hoped real good can come from the series, tentatively titled "M.D. Live."

TNT will air 10 episodes of the series sometime next year, each of them two hours.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018
U.S. government wants drug prices in TV ads
In this Sept. 12, 2018, file photo Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in New York. In a move announced Monday, Oct. 14, by the industry's largest trade group dozens of drugmakers will start disclosing the prices for U.S. prescription drugs advertised on TV. Azar responded that the industry's announcement is a "small step in the right direction" but the government's plan "will go further." (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- 

The federal government said Monday that it wants to force drugmakers to disclose prices for prescription medicines in their TV commercials.

The drug industry's main trade group said drug companies are only willing to disclose the prices on their websites, not in commercials, and they'll start doing that next spring.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar unveiled a proposal that would apply to all brand-name drugs covered by the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which is most medicines.

"Patients deserve to know what a given drug could cost when they're being told about the benefits and risks it may have," Azar said in prepared remarks. "They deserve to know if the drug company has pushed their prices to abusive levels. And they deserve to know this every time they see a drug advertised to them on TV."

Most Americans don't pay the full price for prescriptions — one reason drugmakers have opposed disclosing the list prices, arguing that would just confuse the public. But insurance plans base their copayments on the list price set by drugmakers. And patients with high-deductibles plans or no insurance sometimes pay full price.

President Trump has long promised to bring down drug prices, and in May, his administration released a "blueprint" with vague proposals for doing so, including exploring listing prices in TV commercials.

Hours before Azar's announcement, the trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, said its 33 member companies agreed to include in commercials a website that would give the drug's list price, the range of likely out-of-pocket costs and any available financial assistance. The group also plans its own website, where patients could look up drugs by name and find similar information.

"We appreciate their effort," Azar said. "But placing information on a website is not the same as putting it right in an ad."

PhRMA CEO Stephen J. Ubl and others in the trade group said they believe requiring list prices in ads would violate the companies' First Amendment free speech rights. But Azar, speaking at a National Academy of Medicine conference, said there is precedence for such a move, pointing out that federal law requires automakers to disclose sticker prices for cars.

Direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs has been allowed in the U.S. for two decades. Ads are required to list side effects but not prices.

Many details of the proposed rule still must be worked out, including whether it should be expanded to cover radio, print or internet ads. According to the proposal, TV commercials would have to state in legible type the list price set by the manufacturer for all drugs costing more than $35 per month or for a standard course of treatment, such as for an antibiotic.

If the rule is adopted after a 60-day public comment period, Azar's department plans to publicize the names of drugmakers that don't comply and could take legal action against them.

Drugmakers generally can charge as much as the U.S. market will bear because the government doesn't regulate medicine prices, unlike most other developed countries.

List prices have long been closely guarded, and those prices are the starting point for drugmakers' price negotiations with middlemen, such as insurance companies and prescription benefit managers.

According to the government, the list prices for the top 10 prescription medicines advertised on TV range from $535 to $11,000 for a month or course of treatment.

Pfizer's heavily advertised nerve pain drug Lyrica has a monthly list price of $669. Humira, AbbVie's treatment for immune system disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, has a list price of $4,872 per monthly injection. Both have nearly doubled in four years.

Patients for Affordable Drugs, an advocacy group funded by foundations, called PhRMA's website choice "a transparent attempt to pre-empt full disclosure of list prices in ads," adding that it doesn't think disclosing list prices will reduce patients' costs.

  • Friday, Oct. 12, 2018
Crew member dies after fall on set of Mister Rogers movie
In this June 28, 1989, file photo, Fred Rogers rehearses for the opening of his PBS show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" during a taping in Pittsburgh. Authorities say a crew member working on a movie about Mister Rogers has died after he suffered an apparent medical emergency and fell two stories off a balcony Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, during a break in filming in western Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
MOUNT LEBANON, Pa. (AP) -- 

Authorities say a crew member working on a movie about Mister Rogers has died after he suffered an apparent medical emergency and fell two stories off a balcony in western Pennsylvania.

Allegheny County say James Emswiller fell around 7:30 p.m. Thursday during a break in filming. The 61-year-old Pittsburgh man died later at a hospital.

Emswiller was involved in the sound production of "You Are My Friend," which was shooting a scene in Mount Lebanon. The film is based on the life of Fred Rogers, the genial host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

Mount Lebanon police say Emswiller fell over a brick wall on the balcony at an apartment building.

Film star Tom Hanks, who is playing Rogers in the movie, was at the site and later left.

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