Tuesday, June 25, 2019

News Briefs

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  • Tuesday, May. 14, 2019
Ntropic launches London office headed by ECD Gibbons, EP Livingstone
Aidan Gibbons (l) and Laura Livingstone
LONDON -- 

Ntropic has launched an office in London, joining its current network of studios in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“I’ve always loved London for its aesthetic and the creativity on display there,” said Ntropic founder and chief creative officer Nate Robinson. “We also saw a growing industry trend, in every sector from CPG to technology, toward unifying all creative across global markets. So, it made sense for us to extend Ntropic in order to support our existing clients abroad, bring our expertise and process to this new market and gain access to diverse talent.”

Ntropic London will offer direction, design, VFX, color, and finishing, as well as AR and VR experiences through its sister company Tactic. The office will seamlessly collaborate with client partners and U.S. teams, further amplifying its overall bandwidth and ability to deliver results for its worldwide clients. 

Leading the London office will be executive creative director Aidan Gibbons and executive producer Laura Livingstone. Gibbons joins from The Mill in London where he spent 13 years and served as director and 3D supervisor. His creative style and passion for directing is on full display in his work for Bentley, Huawei, Guinness and BT. Gibbons also led artists on a number of high profile advertising campaigns for Lexus, Audi, Santander, O2, Jaguar and Brother. 

Meanwhile, Livingstone’s U.K. arrival marks her return to her native home in Europe. Previously, she was at Ntropic SF where she was head of production, working on everything from their groundbreaking AR project for Treasury Wine Estates and VR experience “Phone of the Wind” to spots for McDonald’s, Toyota, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Uber and others. Before that, she was a sr. producer at several entertainment FX companies, including Zoic Studios--where she worked on TV shows such as Banshee, Arrow, The Flash and The Blacklist--as well as Shade VFX, Atomic Fiction and ILM where her film projects included A Good Day to Die Hard, Flight, Looper and Iron Man 2.

Ntropic’s expansion follows the recent successful launch of Ntropic’s NYC color department and the addition of colorist Ayumi Ashley and sr. producer Will Mok.

  • Tuesday, May. 14, 2019
Disney takes over Hulu
This June 27, 2015, file photo, shows the Hulu logo on a window at the Milk Studios space in New York. (AP Photo/Dan Goodman, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Disney cut a deal with Comcast to take full control of Hulu as each prepares to launch its own streaming service.

The companies said Tuesday that Comcast, which owns a third of Hulu, may sell its stake starting in 2024 for a minimum of $5.8 billion. Either company can require the other to make the deal.

Hulu launched more than a decade ago as the major entertainment companies dealt with the rise of digital media. Its owners have contracted as a wave of mergers consolidated the industry: The Walt Disney Co. absorbed 21st Century Fox's stake as it bought up Fox's studio and many of its networks, while AT&T sold off the share it inherited with the purchase of Time Warner, now renamed WarnerMedia.

AT&T's sale valued the unprofitable Hulu at $15 billion. The agreement with Disney and Comcast values Hulu at a minimum of $27.5 billion in 2024. Disney has forecast that Hulu will turn a profit around then.

Hulu today still shows network TV episodes and original series for $6 a month. It has a newer live-TV service that costs $45 a month.

Having total control of Hulu gives Disney more power to support its own streaming efforts. The company is launching a new kids-focused streaming service called Disney Plus this year, and is likely to bundle that with Hulu and its sports service, ESPN Plus.

Comcast's NBCUniversal, meanwhile, will debut a streaming service in 2020. And WarnerMedia is launching its own streaming service which will focus on HBO and other shows and movies owned by the company. There's also a new one from Apple, with original content.

An aftereffect of all these new services may well be the fragmentation of content across services. Most of the most popular shows on Netflix are owned by the big entertainment companies — "Friends," ''The Office" — which may well want them for their own services.

At least for Hulu, NBCUniversal has agreed to keep its shows and networks on there until late 2024.

However, NBCUniversal is preparing to stock its own service as the streaming wars heat up. In a year, it can start putting its video on its own streaming service that is currently exclusive on Hulu. (It'll cut Hulu's costs in return.) And NBCUniversal could choose to pull its content from Hulu early, in three years.

Michelle Chapman contributed to this report.

  • Saturday, May. 11, 2019
3 production companies boycott Georgia after abortion ban
In this Tuesday, May 7, 2019, file photo, protesters rally outside of the Georgia State Capitol following the signing of HB 481, in Atlanta. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed legislation on Tuesday banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)
ATLANTA (AP) -- 

Executives from three production companies say they won't film in Georgia because of the state's "heartbeat" abortion ban.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports they include David Simon of Blown Deadline, Christine Vachon of Killer Films and Mark Duplass of Duplass Brothers Productions.

The boycotts aren't likely to have an immediate effect because the companies don't regularly work in Georgia.

Killer Films and Duplass Brothers Productions specialize in independent films. Simon's company has produced HBO series he's known for such as "The Wire."

The Georgia law will ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy. Critics say it's unconstitutional and have vowed to sue.

The Motion Picture Association of America represents major studios and is taking a wait-and-see approach. It said in a statement it was continuing to monitor developments.

  • Friday, May. 10, 2019
Man arrested in 1985 killing of Hollywood TV director
This photo from video provided by WSOC-TV shows suspect Edwin Hiatt after his arrest Thursday, May 9, 2019, in Burke County, N.C. Hiatt is charged with bludgeoning and strangling to death a Hollywood TV director more than three decades ago. Authorities say the FBI arrested Hiatt after DNA evidence linked him to the 1985 death of Barry Crane in Los Angeles. (WSOC-TV via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

A man charged with bludgeoning and strangling to death a Hollywood television director more than three decades ago was arrested Thursday in North Carolina after police said DNA and a confession linked him to the crime.

Edwin Hiatt was arrested in Burke County for the 1985 death of Barry Crane in Los Angeles. He has been charged with murder in California and will be returned there, Los Angeles police announced.

A housekeeper found Crane, 57, dead in his garage in his Studio City townhouse on July 5, 1985. He was naked and had been wrapped in bedsheets. He had been beaten with a large ceramic statue and strangled with a telephone cord, the News Herald of Morganton, North Carolina reported, citing court documents.

Crane directed dozens of episodes of such hit 1970s and '80s TV shows as "The Incredible Hulk, "Hawaii 5-O" and "The Six Million Dollar Man." He also produced the show "The Magician" and was associate producer for "Mannix" and "Mission: Impossible."

He also was a world-class bridge player.

There was no word on a motive for the killing.

Crane's death went unsolved until police said they matched a fingerprint from Crane's stolen car to Hiatt last year. FBI investigators then obtained discarded cigarette butts and a coffee cup from the parking lot of the auto repair shop in Burke County where Hiatt worked.

DNA from some items matched that from cigarette butts found in Crane's stolen car, which was discovered shortly after his death on a mountain road, investigators said.

On March 8, homicide detectives went to North Carolina to interview Hiatt.

"During the interview, Hiatt admitted to killing Barry Crane," an LAPD statement said.

It wasn't known whether Hiatt had a lawyer.

Video from WSOC-TV showed Hiatt, 52, of Connelly Springs, being arrested. Hiatt, with long white hair and beard, held his handcuffed hands in front of him as he was taken to a car.

Hiatt told the station that he didn't remember Crane's name until it was told to him and had no memory of what occurred so long ago except for "bits and pieces that were brought back to me just by suggestion."

Asked if he could have killed Crane, he replied: "Anything's possible back then ... I was big into drugs."

"I just don't want to remember the past," he said, adding later: "It's a different life today."

Co-workers told the News Herald that Hiatt was a generous and peaceful man.

"He wouldn't hurt a flea," Dee Hall said.

"This is something that supposedly happened 30 years ago, the man's changed," Hall said. "Christ has come in and he's become a new creature. If God's forgiven you, you're forgiven. That's it."

  • Thursday, May. 9, 2019
James Cameron salutes "Endgame" for sinking "Titanic" record
This Feb. 5, 2019 file photo shows producer James Cameron arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of "Alita: Battle Angel." (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Filmmaker James Cameron has no bad blood with the Avengers, even though "Endgame" has eclipsed "Titanic's" worldwide record and bumped the 1997 blockbuster to third place.

Cameron tweeted a note Wednesday to Marvel president Kevin Feige and its employees congratulating the company for its success. Cameron writes that an iceberg sank the real Titanic, but it took the Avengers to sink his "Titanic." The accompanying image shows the Titanic crashing into a massive Avengers logo.

The studio, he says, has shown that the movie industry is alive and well and bigger than ever.

But "Avengers: Endgame" still has another Cameron film to conquer to get to the top. "Avatar" remains the highest-grossing film of all time with $2.8 billion worldwide, not accounting for inflation. "Avengers: Endgame" has earned $2.3 billion.

  • Thursday, May. 9, 2019
Co-founder Chris Hughes: Time to break up Facebook
This April 25, 2019, photo shows the thumbs up Like logo on a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes says it's time to break up the social media behemoth.

He says in a New York Times opinion piece that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has allowed a relentless focus on growth to crush competitors and "sacrifice security and civility for clicks."

Hughes says Facebook is a monopoly and should be forced to spin off WhatsApp and Instagram. He says future acquisitions should be banned for several years

Hughes roomed with Zuckerberg at Harvard and left Facebook in 2007 to campaign for Barack Obama.

He says he liquidated his Facebook shares in 2012, the year he became publisher of The New Republic.

Last year, Hughes published a book advocating a universal basic income. In 2017, Forbes put his net worth at more than $400 million.

  • Wednesday, May. 8, 2019
Disney's 2Q beats estimates despite soft theatrical revenue
In this April 12, 2019, file photo the logos for The Walt Disney Company and Chevron appear above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The Walt Disney Company reports financial results Wednesday, May 8. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Disney's adjusted second-quarter net income declined as higher revenue from its parks was not enough to offset lower theatrical revenue.

However, the entertainment giant's results still beat Wall Street expectations.

The lower theater revenue in the quarter that ended March 30 was due to tough comparisons from a year ago, when the company released "Black Panther" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." During the same period this year Disney released "Captain Marvel."

The quarter closed just ahead of the release of the Marvel movie "Avengers: Endgame" in April. That movie had become one of the most successful movies of all time.

Net income for the quarter ended March 30 jumped 85% to $5.34 billion, or $3.55 per share. The company's bottom line got a big boost from a non-cash gain from its acquisition of controlling interest in streaming service Hulu.

Adjusting for that and other one-time items, Disney's quarterly net income came to $1.61 per share, down from $1.84 a share a year ago. The average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.59 per share in the latest quarter.

Revenue edged up 3% to $14.92 billion. According to FactSet, analysts had expected $14.56 billion.

Disney, which is based in Burbank, California, closed on its $71 billion acquisition of Fox's entertainment assets during the quarter. It is using Fox assets, including "The Simpson," ''National Geographic" and other properties to help launch its streaming service Disney Plus in November. "Avengers: Endgame" is slated to hit the service in December.

Its upcoming theatrical releases over the course of 2019 include live action versions of "Aladdin," and "The Lion King," as well as "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," ''Toy Story 4," ''Frozen 2" and "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."

  • Wednesday, May. 8, 2019
CNN to make documentary on civil rights icon John Lewis
This Jan. 3, 2019 file photo shows Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., during a swearing-in ceremony of Congressional Black Caucus members of the 116th Congress in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

CNN Films is developing a documentary on civil rights icon and Georgia congressman John Robert Lewis.

The network announced Wednesday that "Gideon's Army" director Dawn Porter is helming the project. She began shooting the 79-year-old Lewis last year ahead of the midterm elections.

The film will be primarily a cinema verite documentary following Lewis from the election through the congressional battles of 2019.

In a statement, Porter said the need has never been greater for "the type of moral and compassionate leadership that he embodies."

Recent CNN Films releases include "RBG," ''Three Identical Strangers" and "Apollo 11," all of which received a theatrical release before appearing on the network.

  • Wednesday, May. 8, 2019
Drugmakers will have to reveal medication prices in TV ads
In this March 13, 2019, file phtooHealth and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Azar says drugmakers will soon have to reveal prices of their prescription medicines in those ever-present TV ads. The Trump administration will issue final regulations on May 8 requiring drug companies to disclose list prices of medications costing more than $35 for a month’s supply. Azar tells The Associated Press if drugmakers are scared to put prices in ads that means they should lower those prices. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- 

Those ever-present TV ads for prescription drugs will soon carry prices, too, the nation's top health official said Wednesday, responding to a public outcry for government action to restrain medication costs.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Trump administration has finalized regulations that will require drug companies to disclose list prices of medications costing more than $35 for a month's supply.

"What I say to the companies is if you think the cost of your drug will scare people from buying your drugs, then lower your prices," Azar said. "Transparency for American patients is here."

Upping the pressure on the industry, Azar also said the administration is willing to consider allowing Americans to import lower-priced prescription drugs from abroad if it can be shown to be safe and actually deliver savings to patients.

Prescription pricing disclosure was part of a multilevel blueprint President Donald Trump announced last year to try to lower prescription drug costs . As a candidate, Trump, a Republican, also favored allowing importation from abroad.

The pricing details are expected to appear in text toward the end of commercials, when potential side effects are being disclosed. TV viewers should notice the change later this year, perhaps as early as the summer.

Democrats say measures like price disclosure won't force drugmakers to lower what they charge, and they want Medicare to negotiate on behalf of consumers.

Other ideas from the Trump administration include regulations affecting Medicare and legislative proposals pending in Congress. With the cost of medicines a top concern for voters, Trump and lawmakers of both major political parties want accomplishments they can point to before the 2020 elections.

The drug industry opposes the price reveal, saying companies would rather provide the information on their websites. But Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, announced this year that it would start disclosing the cost of its blood thinner Xarelto in TV advertising. That drug is used to treat and prevent blood clots that can cause strokes.

Among drug industry complaints is that the government would be infringing on First Amendment free speech rights by forcing companies to disclose prices. Azar points out that the government has for decades required carmakers to post their sticker prices on vehicles.

"Prices of automobiles are vastly less important to your health and affordability than drugs," he said.

According to the latest government figures, the 10 most commonly advertised drugs have prices ranging from $488 to $16,938 per month or for a usual course of therapy.

The disclosure requirement will not apply to print or radio ads for the foreseeable future. It covers all brand name drugs covered by Medicare and Medicaid, which is nearly all medications.

"Over $4 billion of pharma spend is in TV ads ... that is their most impactful form of advertising," Azar said. "That is where the patient has the most need of being informed."

The government is hoping that patients armed with price information will start discussing affordability with their doctors, and gradually that will put pressure on drugmakers to keep costs in check.

In a twist, enforcement of the disclosure rule will rely on drug companies suing each other over violations under a longstanding federal law that governs unfair trade practices.

"There are very large legal practices built on pharma companies suing each other," Azar said, calling it a "quite effective mechanism."

Most people count on lower cost generic drugs to manage their health problems, but the advent of revolutionary medications for once-fatal or intractable diseases has put consumers on edge. Some genetic and cellular-based treatments can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, which has put a strain on the budgets of insurers and government programs.

A recent poll from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that 1 in 3 Americans said they haven't taken medications as prescribed because of costs. People who take four or more medications, those who spend $100 a month or more on meds, patients in fair to poor health and middle-aged adults are more likely to report affordability problems.

Although most patients do not pay the full list prices that will be included in ads, experts say those prices are still important. They're the starting point for negotiations between drugmakers and insurers. Also, copays that patients face are often based on list prices. And many people who have high-deductible insurance plans pay list prices for medications because their insurance doesn't start covering until patients have spent several thousand dollars of their own money.

In other economically advanced countries, governments negotiate drug prices to keep medications more affordable for patients. But except for some government programs like the Veterans Affairs health system, the U.S. has held back from government-set prices.

The regulations will take effect 60 days after they're published in the Federal Register.

  • Wednesday, May. 8, 2019
Date. Eligibility Requirements Set For 70th ACE Eddie Awards
LOS ANGELES -- 

American Cinema Editors (ACE) has announced that the 70th Annual ACE Eddie Awards, recognizing outstanding editing in film and television, will be held Friday, January 17, 2020 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.  The date reflects a shift in timing to almost three weeks earlier than usual as the truncated awards season landscape (ignited by the Oscars® moving up to Feb. 9, 2020) begins to take shape.  The television categories eligibility dates have also changed--TV contenders must have aired between Jan. 1, 2019 and Nov. 1, 2019. Feature film eligibility remains the same with contenders having to be released between Jan. 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2019.

The black-tie awards ceremony will unveil winners for outstanding editing in 11 categories of film and television including:

  • Best Edited Feature Film (Drama)
  • Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy)
  • Best Edited Animated Film
  • Best Edited Documentary (Feature)
  • Best Edited Documentary (Non-Theatrical)
  • Best Edited Drama Series for Non-Commercial Television
  • Best Edited Drama Series for Commercial Television
  • Best Edited Comedy Series for Non-Commercial Television
  • Best Edited Comedy Series for Commercial Television
  • Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Television
  • Best Edited Non-Scripted Series

Three special honors will be handed out that evening including two Career Achievement recipients presented to film editors of outstanding merit and the Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year honor presented to a filmmaker who exemplifies distinguished achievement in the art and business of film.  Honorary award recipients will be announced later this year.

Submissions for the ACE Eddie Awards open Sept. 13 and close on Nov. 1.  For more information or to submit for awards consideration beginning Sept. 13, click here

Key dates for the 70th Annual ACE Eddie Awards

  • September 13, 2019          Submissions for Nominations Begin
  • November 1, 2019             Submissions for Nominations End
  • November 18, 2019           Nomination Ballots Sent
  • December 9, 2019             Nomination Ballots Due
  • December 11, 2019           Nominations Announced
  • December 16, 2019           Final Ballots Sent
  • December 20, 2019           Deadline for Advertising
  • January 5, 2020                  Blue Ribbon Screenings (Television categories)
  • January 6, 2020                  Final Ballots Due
  • January 15, 2020                Nominee Cocktail Party
  • January 17, 2020                70th Annual ACE Eddie Awards

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