Friday, January 18, 2019

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 3373
  • Friday, Jan. 18, 2019
Harvey Weinstein breaks with his criminal defense lawyer
In this Dec. 20, 2018 file photo, Harvey Weinstein, left, arrives at New York Supreme Court with his attorney Benjamin Brafman in New York. Brafman filed court papers on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, asking to withdraw as Weinstein's lawyer. The high-profile criminal defense lawyer is leaving the movie producer's rape case weeks after failing to get the charges dismissed. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Harvey Weinstein is recasting his legal team a month after losing a hard-fought bid to get his sexual assault case thrown out.

Weinstein and high-profile defense attorney Benjamin Brafman said in a statement Thursday that they "have agreed to part ways" and that new lawyers would be introduced next week.

The disgraced movie mogul's trial is tentatively scheduled for May 6.

He is charged with raping an unidentified female acquaintance in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. A conviction could put him in prison for the rest of his life.

Weinstein, 66, denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

Thursday's announcement came after days of speculation about Weinstein and Brafman's future together.

"Both parties have agreed to part ways amicably and Mr. Brafman has agreed to cooperate fully with new counsel for Mr. Weinstein so as to ensure an orderly transition," the statement said.

A judge must still approve the move.

Brafman, whose other celebrity clients have included Sean Combs and Jay-Z, has been by Weinstein's side since he was arrested and paraded out of a Manhattan police station last spring.

The 70-year-old Brafman, a tactical and pugnacious litigator, appeared to embrace his role as the "Pulp Fiction" producer's chief attack dog.

After Weinstein turned himself in on May 25, Brafman came out swinging, telling reporters: "Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood" and that "bad behavior is not on trial in this case."

He then scored a victory in the courtroom, getting part of the case dropped in October after evidence surfaced that a police detective had coached a witness.

Last month, however, he failed to convince a judge to dismiss the rest of the charges.

"Mr. Weinstein praised Mr. Brafman for his legal work to date and Mr. Brafman reiterated his belief that Mr. Weinstein would be exonerated of the charges that have been filed against him," their statement said. "Brafman personally wished Mr. Weinstein the best of luck as he defends the case and the accusations that Mr. Weinstein has vehemently denied."

Weinstein has played a leading role in shaping his own defense, commuting from his Connecticut home to work with Brafman at his Manhattan office as a de facto paralegal.

"He's a hands-on client," Brafman told Esquire in a profile rushed online this week. "He's relentless."

The magazine reported that Weinstein was running Brafman's strategy past other lawyers and advisers.

In the days before a Dec. 20 hearing on their failed bid to dismiss the case, Weinstein was peppering Brafman with emails and voicemails and showing up at his office after dark to work on strategy, the magazine reported.

Last week, in a statement responding to a Daily Beast article that he was looking for new lawyers, Weinstein said he was "looking to augment the team, not replace anyone."

"Harvey is the type of guy who gets a second opinion on his tuna salad," Brafman told Esquire.

In 2001, Brafman won an acquittal for hip-hop star Sean Combs after he was accused of toting an illegal handgun into a crowded Manhattan nightclub. In 2011, the lawyer helped former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn beat an attempted rape charge. The District Attorney's office ultimately dropped the charges, saying there were inconsistencies in the accuser's story.

Brafman used some of that playbook in Weinstein's case.

He also piled onto police and prosecutors, seizing on the detective's alleged misconduct and accusing Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. of bowing to public pressure in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Explaining his role in the Weinstein case, Brafman told The Associated Press last June: "I'm trying my best to save him in somewhat of an impossible situation he finds himself in."

Associated Press writers Tom Hays and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

  • Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019
Ex-CBS CEO Les Moonves to challenge severance denial
In this July 29, 2013, file photo, Les Moonves arrives at the CBS, CW and Showtime TCA party at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Former CBS CEO Les Moonves is fighting the company's decision to deny his $120 million severance package following his firing over sexual misconduct allegations.

Moonves is demanding binding arbitration proceedings to challenge the decision, CBS announced in a filing Thursday with the Security Exchange Commission.

The company's board of directors denied Moonves his severance last month after concluding that he violated company policy and did not cooperate with an investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations.

Moonves, one of television's most influential figures, was ousted in September after allegations from women who said he subjected them to mistreatment including forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.

The former CEO's legal team declined to comment Thursday. His lawyer, Andrew Levander, has previously said that Moonves cooperated fully with the investigation, which was conducted by two outside law firms. Moonves has also denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.

Moonves, who had earned praise for turning around the fortunes of CBS when he took over as entertainment chief in 1995, had been one of the highest-paid executives in the nation, making about $70 million in each of the past two years.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019
Carell, "Office" producers reteam for "Space Force" comedy
In this Oct. 8, 2018 file photo, Steve Carell arrives at the premiere of "Beautiful Boy" in Beverly Hills, Calif. Carell will reunite with his creative team from "The Office," Greg Daniels and Howard Klein, for the new Netflix comedy series "Space Force." (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Steve Carell is starring in a new workplace comedy that could be out of this world.

Netflix said Wednesday that Carell is re-teaming with "The Office" producers Greg Daniels and Howard Klein on the series "Space Force."

It's about the people assigned to create a sixth branch of the armed services focused on space, the streaming service said.

The premise is grounded in reality: Last year, the Trump administration directed the Pentagon to form a Space Command aimed at the creation of a Space Force branch.

Carell and Daniels are the sitcom's co-creators and will serve as executive producers along with Klein.

Daniels co-created NBC's 2015-13 "The Office," based on the original Ricky Gervais-Stephen Merchant U.K. mockumentary series.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019
Jason Reitman to direct Ghostbusters sequel for summer 2020
In this Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 file photo, Jason Reitman attends the 2018 Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film Honoring Hugh Jackman at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Goleta, Calif. Four-time Oscar nominee Reitman is set to direct a new installment in the Ghostbusters series for Sony Pictures set to come out in the summer of 2020. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Ivan Reitman is passing the Ghostbusters torch to his son.

Four-time Oscar nominee Jason Reitman is set to direct a new installment in the Ghostbusters series for Sony Pictures set to come out in the summer of 2020. Reitman tweeted Tuesday night that he's "finally got the keys to the car."

Ivan Reitman directed and produced the original "Ghostbusters," which came out in 1984, and its sequel in 1989.

The studio says that this new Ghostbusters will be going back to its roots and will be the next chapter in the original story. Sony attempted to reboot Ghostbusters in 2016 with gender-flipped leads, but the costly film disappointed at the box office.

Entertainment Weekly first reported the news. Production begins this summer, but no word yet on the cast.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019
Netflix renews "Grace and Frankie" ahead of season 5 debut
This image released by Netflix shows Lily Tomlin, left, and Jane Fonda in a scene from the comedy series "Grace And Frankie." (Ali Goldstein/Netflix via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

As the fifth-season adventures of "Grace and Frankie " begin, viewers can rest assured there's more to come.

Series creator Marta Kauffman and Netflix said Tuesday that the series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin has been renewed for season six, due in 2020.

Kauffman said she was hopeful the comedy would keep going, given that "we certainly feel the love" from streaming service Netflix.

But the decision announced before Friday's season-five release "is greatly appreciated," she said. "I don't take it for granted."

When last seen, Grace and Frankie were fleeing a retirement community in a golf cart to resume life in their oceanfront home — only to find a "sold" sign in front of it.

What's in store for the mismatched pals, who were thrown together when their respective husbands Robert and Sol (Martin Sheen, Sam Waterson) declared they were longtime lovers and moved in together?

"Everybody said, 'Oh, that was a real cliffhanger when you lost the house last season,'" Tomlin, who plays Frankie, said. "Well, wait until you see this season."

Kauffman also weighed in, carefully, on how Grace and Frankie will fare in the upcoming 13 episodes.

"Without spoilers, they're going to spend a great deal of time trying to figure out how to get their house back," she said. "But honestly, what they get to very quickly about life at that age is the idea you can finally just say (expletive) it."

"Friends" creator Kauffman had such an epiphany of her own two years ago, at age 60, that she describes as a "startling discovery." It spoke volumes.

"I don't have to finish every book I start," she said. "There are too many books in the world. I mean that's a very small piece of it. But that that is my version of it. ... I am at a certain age and I don't have to put up with anybody's (expletive)."

She was mum on how that plays out on the series, sharing only that romance may lie ahead for the women and the men will have experiences separate from the world of their exes.

For Tomlin, happiness is a given.

"I'm always excited for the show. Because I love Jane, I love playing with her. We have a great family on the set," she said.

AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson contributed to this report.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019
Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray to reunite for "On the Rocks" via Apple, A24
This combination photo shows filmmaker Sofia Coppola, left, and actor Bill Murray, who will reunite 16 years after their Oscar-winning film, “Lost in Translation” for “On the Rocks,” a New York-set film starring Rashida Jones as a young mother who reconnects with her larger-than-life father, to be played by Murray. The film, which Coppola also wrote, will begin this spring in New York. (AP Photo)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray will reunite 16 years after the Oscar-winning "Lost in Translation" in the splashiest feature film yet announced by Apple.

A24 said Tuesday that Coppola's "On the Rocks" will be the indie studio's first project under its joint deal with Apple, which is pushing into original content. The New York-set film stars Rashida Jones as a young mother who reconnects with her larger-than-life father, to be played by Murray.

"Lost in Translation" earned Coppola an Oscar for best screenplay and numerous nominations including Murray for best actor. Coppola also directed Murray in the Netflix holiday special "A Very Murray Christmas."

Apple and A24, the boutique studio behind films like "Moonlight" and "Lady Bird," last November signed a multiyear production deal. Neither company has yet said if their films together with have traditional theatrical releases or debut directly on Apple's planned streaming platform. The iPhone-maker has previously acquired two documentaries: "The Elephant Queen" and "Wolfwakers."

Production on "On the Rocks," which Coppola also wrote, will begin this spring in New York.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019
"Beale Street," "Black Panther" among Scripter Award finalists
Stephan James (l) and KiKi Layne in a scene from "If Beale Street Could Talk" (photo by Tatum Mangus/courtesy of Annapurna Pictures)
LOS ANGELES -- 

The USC Libraries have named the finalists for the 31st annual USC Libraries Scripter Awards, which honor the year’s best film and television adaptations, as well as the works on which they are based.

The finalist writers for film adaptation are, in alphabetical order by film title:

  • Screenwriters Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole for “Black Panther,” based on the character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby 
  • Screenwriters Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and author Lee Israel for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” 
  • Screenwriters Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, and David Schneider for “The Death of Stalin,” based on the graphic novel by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin 
  • Screenwriter Barry Jenkins and author James Baldwin for “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Screenwriters Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini for “Leave No Trace” based on the novel “My Abandonment” by Peter Rock

Due to a tie in the nominating round, the writers of six television shows and their printed source material will vie for the Scripter Award this year. The finalist writers for television are, in alphabetical order by series title:

  • Tom Rob Smith, for the episode “The Man Who Would Be Vogue” from “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” and author Maureen Orth for the nonfiction book “Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History” 
  • Bruce Miller and Kira Snyder, for the episode “Holly” from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and author Margaret Atwood 
  • Dan Futterman and Ali Selim, for the episode “9/11” from “The Looming Tower,” and author Lawrence Wright 
  • David Nicholls for the episode “Bad News,” from “Patrick Melrose,” based on the series of novels by Edward St. Aubyn 
  • Marti Noxon for the episode “Vanish,” from “Sharp Objects,” and author Gillian Flynn 
  • Russell T Davies, for “A Very English Scandal,” and author John Preston

Chaired by USC professor and past president of the Writers Guild of America, West, Howard Rodman, the 2019 Scripter selection committee selected the finalists from a field of 90 film and 55 television adaptations.

Serving on the selection committee, among many others, are film critics Leonard Maltin, Anne Thompson and Kenneth Turan; authors Lisa Belkin, Nalo Hopkinson and Michael Ondaatje; screenwriters Mark Fergus, Larry Karaszewski and Erin Cressida Wilson; producers Brad Simspon and Jennifer Todd; and USC deans Elizabeth Daley of the School of Cinematic Arts and Catherine Quinlan of the USC Libraries.

The USC Libraries will announce the winning authors and screenwriters at a black-tie ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 9, in the historic Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library on the University Park campus of the University of Southern California. Since 1988, Scripter has honored the authors of printed works alongside the screenwriters who adapt their stories. In 2016, the USC Libraries inaugurated a new Scripter award, for television adaptation. Television and film finalists compete in separate categories.

  • Monday, Jan. 14, 2019
Filmmaker Jo Andres, wife of actor Steve Buscemi, dies at 64
In this Jan. 25, 2015, file photo, Steve Buscemi, left, and his wife Jo Andres arrive at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Andres, a filmmaker and choreographer, has died. She was 64. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Jo Andres, a filmmaker and choreographer married to actor Steve Buscemi, has died. She was 64.

Andres was married to Buscemi for more than three decades. Buscemi's representative, Staci Wolfe, confirmed Andres' death to The Associated Press on Sunday. Wolfe did not respond to questions about the date or cause of her death.

Andres was best known for her 1996 short film, "Black Kites," which won several film festival awards. She and Buscemi married in 1987 and had one child together, Lucian, born in 1990.

Buscemi has starred in several films including "Reservoir Dogs, "Big Fish" and "The Big Lebowski." He also starred in the HBO TV series, "The Sopranos."

  • Monday, Jan. 14, 2019
"Game of Thrones" final season to debut on April 14
In this Jan. 29, 2017, file photo, Sophie Turner arrives at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles. HBO announced Sunday night, Jan. 13, 2019, that the eighth and final season of "Game of Thrones" will begin on April 14. In a teaser released Sunday, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Sansa Stark (Turner) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) are seen in the crypts of Winterfell. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

"Game of Thrones" fans, get ready.

HBO announced Sunday night that the eighth and final season will begin on April 14. In a one minute and 44 second teaser released Sunday, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) are seen in the crypts of Winterfell.

Fans have eagerly awaited the six-episode finale of the show since Season 7 of the popular HBO show ended in August 2017.

The fantasy series based on the George R.R. Martin novels has been one of HBO's most successful shows.

HBO isn't getting out of the "Game of Thrones" business. A prequel created by Martin and writer-producer Jane Goldman is underway, with Naomi Watts set to star, and other spinoffs are possible.

  • Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019
NBC News, Megyn Kelly reach separation agreement
In this April 12, 2018 file photo, television journalist Megyn Kelly attends The Hollywood Reporter's annual 35 Most Powerful People in Media event at The Pool in New York. NBC News has reached its professional divorce agreement with anchor Kelly. The network announced the deal Friday night, Jan. 11, 2019, after more than two months of negotiations, giving no details. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

NBC News announced its professional divorce agreement with Megyn Kelly late Friday, ending an association with the former Fox News Channel star whose attempt to become a network morning television star as part of the "Today" show floundered.

Terms were not disclosed. Kelly was in the second of a three-year contract that reportedly paid her more than $20 million a year.

She's been off the air since October after creating a furor by suggesting that it was OK for white people to wear blackface on Halloween, and exit negotiations had dragged for two months over the holidays. Even before the controversial commentary, her future was considered limited at NBC News.

"The parties have resolved their differences, and Megyn Kelly is no longer an employee of NBC," the network said in a statement Friday night.

NBC says she'll be replaced in the third hour of the "Today" show by anchors Craig Melvin, Al Roker, Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones.

Her tenure was also a failure for NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack, who lured her from Fox News Channel with the type of big-money contract that was once standard in television news but now is less so with financial constrictions and less viewership. In a sense, Kelly was caught in a no-woman's land: some at NBC were suspicious of her because of the Fox News background, while her former audience at Fox resented her for tough questioning of Donald Trump on the presidential campaign trail.

While at Fox, her accusations of unwanted sexual advances by the network's late chief executive, Roger Ailes, helped lead to his firing.

She made news at NBC when interviewing women who accused Trump of inappropriate behavior and s poke with accusers of Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, Roy Moore and others, as well as women who say they were harassed on Capitol Hill. The episode with Trump accusers had more than 2.9 million viewers, one of her biggest audiences on the network.

Time magazine, which honored "The Silence Breakers" as its Person of the Year in 2017, cited Kelly as the group's leader in the entertainment field.

But tough segments on accusations against former NBC anchor Matt Lauer didn't win her friends internally, as did her public call for Lack to appoint outside investigators to look into why the network didn't air Ronan Farrow's stories about Harvey Weinstein and allowed Farrow to take his story to The New Yorker.

When those stories began to fade, Kelly had trouble attracting an audience in the soft-focus world of morning television. She also briefly hosted an evening newsmagazine that didn't catch on with viewers.

Kelly made a tearful apology to viewers following her blackface comments, but it proved to be her last appearance on NBC News.

"What is racist?" she said on the show. "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as a character."

Critics accused her of ignoring the ugly history of minstrel shows and movies in which whites applied blackface to mock blacks.

It's not immediately clear what's next for Kelly. NBC would not comment Friday on whether the separation agreement allows her to write about her experiences at the network.There's no non-compete clause, meaning Kelly is free to seek other television work if she wants to.

AP Writer Mark Kennedy in New York contributed to this report.

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