Monday, November 19, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 11 - 20 of 3282
  • Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018
Cynthia Lopez named next exec director of NY Women in Film & TV 
Cynthia López
NEW YORK -- 

Cynthia López, an Emmy, Peabody and duPont-Columbia Award-winning media strategist, and former Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, will be the next executive director of New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT). She will succeed Terry Lawler who concludes her remarkable 21-year tenure on January 1, 2019. Announcement was made by NYWIFT president Simone Pero and the organization’s 18-person board of directors.

In her new role as executive director, López will lead NYWIFT initiatives and oversee daily operations, alongside the organization’s board of directors, including advocacy, fundraising, programming, special events, membership, and outreach. The organization’s most recent signature initiatives will continue under López’s direction including NYWIFT’s From Script to Pre-Production Workshop, Women Filmmakers: Immigrant Stories, and The Writers Lab for women screenwriters over 40, funded by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman.

Besides serving as the steward of New York City’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, Lopez was EVP and co-executive producer of the award-winning PBS documentary series, American Documentary | POV and was involved in the organization’s strategic growth and creative development for 14 years. López is a founding member of the board of directors of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). She served on the board of trustees for the Paley Center, NYC & Company, Museum of the Moving Image and the Tribeca Film Institute Latin America Fund Advisory Board. She currently serves on the board of directors for Latino Public Broadcasting, Manhattan Neighborhood Network and Hunter College IMA Program.

“Women have repeatedly earned their rightful place in our society, government, media, and the economy. The recent electoral victories in Congress are exceptional examples, where, for the first time ever, more than 100 Congresswomen will be sworn in come January 2019. This is an inspiration to women in all areas of the film and television industry who are standing up for gender equity, equal pay, and safer work environments. I am primed for the challenges that lay ahead of us, while also galvanized by the secured victories, and look forward to developing new initiatives in support of women working in media,” said López. “I am honored to serve as NYWIFT’s new Executive Director and am eager to work collaboratively with its membership, corporate partners, board and staff, WIFT chapters worldwide, and the guilds to meet the complex demands of the digital media industry.”

The final Muse Awards under current NYWIFT exec director Lawler’s direction is slated for December 13, 2018. Honorees for the upcoming 39th Muse Awards gala, honoring women of vision and achievement both in front of and behind the camera, will be announced soon.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018
MediaVision Creative enters into collaboration with director/CD Foad Farid
Foad Farid
SOUTH NORWALK, Conn. -- 

MediaVision Creative, a South Norwalk-based brand storytelling and digital content studio, has announced a new collaboration with award-winning director/creative director Foad Farid for commercial, marketing communications and branded content creation. Foad will bring proven talents to MediaVision, as well as an impressive portfolio of national and international commercials, branded digital content, music videos, film and documentaries produced for a variety of national brands and media platforms. 

“For brands today, the ever increasing demand for digital content is a very hungry beast and MediaVision is actively broadening our scope of agency offerings and creative talent to feed it,” stated Wendy Lambert, president of MediaVision. “Foad brings a unique, global perspective and an unbridled passion for developing original concepts and crafting smart, customized narratives for brands and companies.”

Farid said, “As a filmmaker raised in New York, I’ve been blessed in my career to be able to collaborate with a roster of diverse, creative, seasoned and high caliber artists and clients. I consider myself very lucky to have MediaVision Creative as my new ‘home base,’ where I can continue to do what I always dreamed of doing--tell stories.”

  • Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018
"Game of Thrones" returning in April 2019 for final season
This image released by HBO shows Kit Harington, left, and Emilia Clarke on the season finale of "Game of Thrones." (Macall B. Polay/HBO via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

The eighth and last season of "Game of Thrones" finally has a date with destiny.

HBO said Tuesday that the series will return in April 2019 with six episodes to conclude its run.

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

A video touting the show's return next year included clips from seasons past showing both living and dead competitors for the crown of Westeros but didn't give a taste of the final episodes.

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.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018
Antoine Fuqua to receive Filmmaker Award from Motion Picture Sound Editors
Director Antoine Fuqua participates in “The Magnificent Seven” press conference on day 1 of the Toronto International Film Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
STUDIO CITY, Calif. -- 

The Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) will honor Antoine Fuqua with its annual Filmmaker Award. The director of such films as The Equalizer (1 & 2), The Magnificent Seven, Southpaw and Training Day, is being recognized for his outstanding contributions to the art of cinema. He will receive the award at the 66th MPSE Golden Reel Awards ceremony on February 17 in Los Angeles.

Fuqua’s rare ability to blend action with character-driven storytelling has made him one of the most sought-after directors of his generation. “Antoine Fuqua has elevated the action film genre by introducing complex characters, nuanced storytelling and deep emotion, and audiences the world over have responded at the box office,” said MPSE president Tom McCarthy. “The MPSE is proud to recognize his achievements and add his name to the list of distinguished recipients of our Filmmaker Award.”

In 2018, the MPSE presented its Filmmaker Award to Kathryn Bigelow. Past recipients also include Guillermo del Toro, Sam Raimi, Darren Aronofsky, George Lucas, Ang Lee, Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Brian Grazer and Gale Anne Hurd.

“I have always believed that sound is the element that elevates a film to its maximum potential,” said Fuqua. “I am fortunate to have worked with some the best sound editors in the business who continue to be instrumental to my filmmaking process. My vision would be incomplete without the careful attention to their craft. I am truly honored to be recognized by my friends and colleagues of the MPSE.”  

Released earlier this year, The Equalizer 2, reunited Fuqua with Denzel Washington in his signature role as Robert McCall. Previously, Fuqua directed The Magnificent Seven, a remake of the 1960 classic, the boxing drama Southpaw and the smash hit The Equalizer. His 2001 film Training Day established his credentials as a master of action while earning an Academy Award® for Denzel Washington for Best Actor, and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Ethan Hawke. Fuqua also directed the films Olympus Has Fallen, Brooklyn’s Finest and King Arthur, as well as the blues documentary, Lightning in a Bottle, executive produced by Martin Scorsese.

Fuqua is handled by production house Wondros for select commercials and branded content.

Fuqua is deeply passionate about supporting youth in the community and gives back through filmmaking.  He was honored for his charitable work by The Opportunity Network in 2016.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018
LivelyGroup rebrands to LVLY, launches live-action division LVLYHOOD
NEW YORK -- 

LivelyGroup, the award-winning creative studio, has rebranded as LVLY and launched a live-action division, LVLYHOOD. A player in the space for 40 years, the studio is realigning its existing brands. Within its new structure, the studio is combining creative divisions BlueRock, Spontaneous, and Scarlett, and centralizing its efforts under the LVLY banner. The company will continue to partner with brands such as Amazon, L’Oreal, IBM, HBO, Louis Vuitton and Bloomberg. 

“Today, it’s critical to be both exceptional and focused. Our focus has always been making beautiful content while providing maximum agility for improving and building upon ideas”, said Darryl Mascarenhas, CCO of LVLY. “The rebrand to LVLY signifies our commitment to help our clients bring that focus to their ideas and make faster decisions during the creative development process.” 

The company has always kept pace with the changing media landscape and is once again positioning itself to respond at the speed of culture by focusing on its core strength. The established brands that make up LVLY have always been rooted in the art of “making.” Over the years, the company has evolved and grown and gotten even better at it. The evolution to LVLY signals the return to those roots at a time when “makers” are at the forefront of both creativity and technology. Continuing to hone the creative approach, LVLY is challenging the status quo by adding new capabilities and developing custom software and strategies to revolutionize how they create content.

“Whether it’s crafting an integrated visual campaign or developing software to address our client’s needs, LVLY has never stopped innovating,” said Ethel Rubinstein, owner/CEO of LVLY. “We are proud to continue our 40-year tradition of creating quality content while empowering our clients to do more, say more and make things like never before.” 

In addition to the rebrand, LVLY has formed LVLYHOOD, a modern production partner under the LVLY banner. Focusing on the live-action space, the company will draw from a diverse roster of independent talent to create exceptional content inspired by art and story.

The team guiding the evolution of LVLY consists of Mascarenhas, Rubinstein, EVPs Cara Cutrone and Wendy Brovetto. Brovetto and Cutrone will continue to oversee the day to day management of the companies with Brovetto leading editorial and LVLYHOOD, and Cutrone leading design and visual effects as well as continuing to oversee Decibel, the sound studio launched last year.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018
Actor Douglas Rain, who supplied HAL's voice in "2001," dies at 90
In this June 7, 1979 photo provided by Stratford Festival, actor Douglas Rain appears as King Henry IV in this scene from The Second Part of Henry IV at Stratford's Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario. Rain, who played some of Shakespeare's most intriguing characters onstage but perhaps is best known for supplying the creepily calm voice of the rogue computer HAL in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" has died. Douglas Rain was 90. (Robert C Ragsdale/Stratford Festival via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Canadian actor Douglas Rain, who played some of Shakespeare's most intriguing characters onstage but perhaps is best known for supplying the creepily calm voice of the computer HAL in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" has died at 90.

The Stratford Festival said Rain died Sunday of natural causes at St. Marys Memorial Hospital, just outside of Stratford, Ontario. He was one of the festival's founding company members and spent 32 seasons performing there, until 1998.

His roles at Stratford included playing Claudio in "Measure for Measure" in 1954, Malvolio in "Twelfth Night" in 1957, Edgar in "King Lear" in 1964 and Prince Hal in "Henry IV, Part 1" in 1958, a play and a role he would return to in 1965 and would eventually take on the title role in 1966.

But it was the aloof voice of the artificially intelligent HAL 9000 — the forerunner of today's Amazon's Alexa or Google Home — where Rain entered the public's consciousness. Kubrick had heard Rain's voice in the 1960 documentary "Universe," a film he watched multiple times, according to the actor. Rain was initially hired to narrate 1968's "2001: A Space Odyssey," but the director chose to go a different direction.

HAL is the onboard master computer on the spaceship Discovery 1 but goes rogue. When astronaut Dave Bowman asks HAL to open the ships' pod doors, HAL famously balks. "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that," the machine blandly refuses. "This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it."

When the astronauts try to disconnect HAL, he fights back. During his shutdown, HAL sings the nursey rhyme "Daisy Bell" and memorably utters: "I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it." The American Film Institute named HAL the 13th greatest movie villain of all time, joining a list that includes Hannibal Lecter and Darth Vader.

Stratford Festival Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino called Rain one of Canada's greatest acting talents and a "guiding light in its development." He said the actor's humanity shone through in HAL.

"Douglas shared many of the same qualities as Kubrick's iconic creation: precision, strength of steel, enigma and infinite intelligence, as well as a wicked sense of humor," Cimolino said. "But those of us lucky enough to have worked with Douglas soon solved his riddle and discovered that at the center of his mystery lay warmth and humanity, evidenced in his care for the young members of our profession."

Rain attended the University of Manitoba and studied in London at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He started out performing radio plays. From 1974 to 1977, Rain was head of the English acting section of the National Theatre School of Canada.

Rain performed at theaters and festivals all over Canada, including the Shaw Festival, where he played such roles as Caesar in "Caesar and Cleopatra" in 1983. He shared stages with such luminaries as Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith and Colm Feore. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 1972 for his role as William Cecil in "Vivat! Vivat! Regina!" His other Broadway credits include "The Golden Age" in 1963 and "The Broken Jug" in 1958.

Rain is survived by his two sons, David and Adam, daughter Emma, granddaughter, Salima, and a daughter-in-law, Asira.

  • Monday, Nov. 12, 2018
Mira Sorvino urges #MeToo to do more than "name and shame"
In this May 10, 2018, file photo Mira Sorvino attends the 20th Annual From Slavery to Freedom Gala at City Market Social House in Los Angeles. Sorvino believes the key to eradicating sexual misconduct lies more in preventative education than in “naming and shaming” the perpetrators. The Oscar-winning actress was one of the first to come forward with allegations of abuse against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, and her resilience has not wavered. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Mira Sorvino believes the key to eradicating sexual misconduct lies more in preventative education than in "naming and shaming" the perpetrators.

The Oscar-winning actress was one of the first to come forward with allegations of abuse against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, and her resilience has not wavered.

She wants to work with students — from younger grades to the end of high school — to make them understand consent and their physical rights.

"So we don't raise boys — because it's mostly boys who do this, some girls, but mostly boys — who turn into men who commit these heinous crimes," Sorvino told the Associated Press during a recent interview while promoting her role on the new season of the Sony Crackle series, StartUp."

Sorvino agrees that the culture has changed over the past year, but feels there's a long way to go, especially when bad behavior is validated in entertainment.

"That was sort of taught to us by like '80s movies culture like 'Sixteen Candles' or 'Porky's' or 'Animal House' which made it OK to commit date rape and it was the women's fault because she was drunk rather than, 'That's date rape. How could you possibly take advantage of somebody who can't even speak?'" she said.

She added: "That's not cool. That's not fun.' But that's what my generation of guys were brought up on. I mean I was brought up watching those movies, so we've got to change the culture. It can't just be punishment and naming and shaming, it's got to be prevention because that's what we really want. We want no one victimized," Sorvino said.

Sorvino has found some solace as a prominent voice in the #MeToo and Time's Up movements. Advancements by these organizations have become a rallying cry for women victimized over the years by varying degrees of sexual misconduct. On Dec. 1, she will join the Mika Brzezinski-led line-up for the "Know Your Value" event in San Francisco, which is designed to support and empower women.

She's kept acting, too. In "StartUp," Sorvino plays a quirky NSA agent with a deadly side that tries to take down a dark-web site to find a terror cell. The series raises questions about online privacy and the government. It's currently streaming on Sony Crackle.

She also has helped lobby for legislation in California that provides protections and opportunities for women and girls. Three of the bills presented under the proposed #TakeTheLead legislation have been enacted into law after being singed by California Gov.  Jerry Brown.

And she has bigger plans in mind, namely a change to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing equal rights for women.

"This year coming up I really want to see the Equal Rights Amendment passed. It's nuts that we don't have explicit equality in the constitution," Sorvino said.

  • Friday, Nov. 9, 2018
Emerging screenwriters honored with Nicholl awards
This combination photo shows Lily Collins (l) and Ken Jeong who read selected passages from a couple of Nicholl Fellowship winning scripts on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (AP Photo)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- 

Five emerging screenwriters are experiencing a breakthrough of a lifetime earning praise from the film academy for their work.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized each screenwriter at the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting on Thursday night. The three individuals along with a husband-and-wife writing duo received $35,000 and had their work read live by actors Jamie Chung, Lily Collins, Ken Jeong and Blair Underwood.

The event was held at the academy's headquarters in Beverly Hills, California.

Four screenplays selected include: Allison and Nicolas Buckmelter, "American Refugee"; Joey Clarke, Jr., "Miles"; Grace Sherman, "Numbers and Words"; and Wenonah Wilms, "Horsehead Girls."

All those countless hours writing movie scripts, cranking out rough drafts and reading screenwriting tutorials to perfect their craft have paid off for them.

"You sit at a Starbucks hoping that maybe someday you'll get the recognition and someone will read your work," said Allison Buckmelter, who had been writing with her husband for more than a decade. "When we found out, we were excited. This is very validating."

Her husband, Nicolas Buckmelter, offered a tip to other aspiring screenwriters: "Just keep writing. Put something on paper, even if it's bad. Nobody is going to read a blank page."

Winners will receive guidance from academy members as they complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year. The winning screenplays were chosen from nearly 6,900 submissions.

Since 1986, the competition has awarded hundreds of fellowships, aiming to identify and encourage talented new screenwriters.

Past fellows have included writer-director Allison Anders, Pulitzer-winning novelist Jeff Eugenides and Oscar winner Susannah Grant ("Erin Brockovich"). The films "Finding Forrester" and "Transformers: Age of Extinction" were also written by past Nicholl fellows.

Actor Lily Collins is starring in the upcoming Ted Bundy biopic "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile." The film's original script, written by Michael Werwie, won a Nicholl Fellowship prize in 2012.

"We to get to bring life into these scenes," she said. "These writers get to see and get a little taste of what it feels like to hear actors read their work. So the idea of one getting off the ground and finally gets made is pretty cool."

  • Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018
Disney results jump on strong movie slate
In this Aug. 8, 2017, file photo, the Walt Disney Co. logo appears on a screen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The Walt Disney Co. reports earnings Thursday, Nov. 8. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Walt Disney Co.'s earnings for the latest quarter sailed passed expectations, boosted by a strong slate of movies such as "Incredibles 2" as the company moves toward closing its $71.3 billion deal to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets.

Disney and other media companies are facing a shifting landscape as more TV watchers switch to streaming rather than traditional cable bundles.

But Disney's diversified entertainment portfolio, which runs from films and cable channels to theme parks, helped buoy its results. Studio entertainment revenue, which includes theater box office and streaming, jumped 50 percent to $2.15 billion on the strength of films such as "Avengers: Infinity War" and the latest "Ant-Man" movie.

Net income for the quarter ended Sept. 29 rose 33 percent to $2.32 billion, or $1.55 per share, from $1.75 billion, or $1.14 per share last year. Excluding one-time items, net income totaled $1.48 per share. The average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.31 per share.

The Burbank, California-based company's revenue rose 12 percent to $14.31 billion from $12.78 billion last year. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $13.81 billion.

A reduced tax rate also boosted results by $1.2 billion.

Disney is building its streaming service offerings. It launched $5-a-month ESPN Plus streaming service with sports in April. And a Disney-branded streaming service is expected to launch later next year.

In a call with analysts Thursday CEO Bob Iger gave a few new details about the new streaming service, which will be called Disney Plus. No pricing has been disclosed.

The company plans to keep investing in Hulu and use it as a home for more general programming. Family-friendly shows and movies will head to Disney Plus.

The streaming service will feature five categories of material: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. Original programming will include "The Mandalorian," the first live action Star Wars series, created by Jon Favreau; a rebooted "High School Musical" series and a new documentary series focused on Disney.

Disney Plus will also produce original movies specifically for streaming. Initial titles will include a prequel to the "Star Wars" film "Rogue One" starring Diego Luna; "Noelle," starring Anna Kendrick as the daughter of Santa Claus; a live-action "Lady and the Tramp" and a movie about the Marvel character Loki starring Tom Hiddleston.

With the pending Fox deal, Disney now also takes a controlling stake in streaming service Hulu, which is jointly owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast and AT&T.

The Fox acquisition is expected to close at the beginning of next year. With it, Disney gets Fox TV and film studios, Marvel's X-Men and Deadpool, along with programs shown on such Fox channels as FX Networks and National Geographic. Fox's productions also include "The Americans," ''This Is Us" and "Modern Family."

Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights using data from Zacks Investment Research. 

  • Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018
Israel Film Fest addresses reaction to Jason Blum after he made anti-Trump remarks on stage
Jason Blum (photo by Kurt Iswarienko/courtesy of Israel Film Festival)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- 

This past Tuesday (11/6) during opening night proceedings of the 32nd Israel Film Festival (IFF) at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions, was honored with the 2018 IFF Achievement in Film and TV Award. But during his acceptance remarks, he was critical of President Trump, prompting some in the audience to walk out and others to boo. Blum was then escorted off stage, quite a departure from what was to have been a tribute to him.

The Israel Film Festival issued a statement today (11/7) clarifying what happened, noting that a majority of the 1,200 attendees was respectful as Blum made his remarks. Festival organizers did not in any way remove Blum from the stage. To protect him when an audience member in no way associated with the Festival charged the podium, event security ushered Blum off the stage.

“Over the past three decades, we have never shied away from allowing a filmmaker or actor to express themselves either personally or through their work,” said Meir Fenigstein, IFF director and founder.  “We have often highlighted films that some may deem not to their liking or are controversial. We in no way condone violence but do wholeheartedly support dialogue that allows people to share ideas and viewpoints in a respectful way.  Sadly, some audience members at last night’s opening greatly lacked that respect and turned an evening of celebration and recognition into something else.

“This is the first time we have ever experienced anything like this,” Fenigstein continued.  “I am in total shock, but I realize that yesterday was a very tense day in America with the elections.”

The IFF continues through Nov. 20. Screenings will be held at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills and the Laemmle Town Center 5 in Encino.

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