Tuesday, February 19, 2019

News Briefs

Displaying 31 - 40 of 3433
  • Friday, Feb. 1, 2019
Sony boosts profit on tax cut, yen, sales of music, movies
In this May 22, 2018, file photo, Sony Corp. President Kenichiro Yoshida attends at a press conference at the company's headquarters in Tokyo. Japanese electronics and entertainment company Sony on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, reported a 45 percent surge in fiscal third-quarter profit on tax reductions, a favorable exchange rate and gains in its music segment. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
TOKYO (AP) -- 

Japanese electronics and entertainment company Sony posted a 45 percent surge in its October-December profit thanks to tax cuts, a favorable exchange rate and gains in its music and movies segment.

Tokyo-based Sony Corp.'s profit in the last quarter was 429 billion yen ($3.9 billion), up from 295.9 billion yen in the same period a year earlier. Quarterly sales fell 10 percent to 2.4 trillion yen ($22 billion).

Other sectors such as games and semiconductors logged a weak performance, but they were offset by strong box-office receipts from the movie "Venom," and earnings from its imaging solutions, used in digital cameras.

Sony, which makes Alpha digital cameras, Bravia digital TVs and the Aibo robotic dog, raised its profit forecast for the fiscal year through March to 835 billion yen ($7.7 billion) from an earlier estimate of 705 billion yen ($6.5 billion). That's up from 491 billion yen recorded last year.

The company's music division benefited from the acquisition of EMI, which has a vast music catalog.

Falling PlayStation 4 console sales hurt results, while an increase in game software sales helped, according to Sony. A shift in sales to more expensive TVs boosted the bottom line, while smartphone sales lagged, it said.

  • Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019
Engine Room Edit, Brewhouse VFX merge into Conductor Productions
Noah Lydiard
BOSTON -- 

Scott Knowlton and Noah Lydiard, co-owners of Conductor Productions, have recently announced the merger of Engine Room Edit and Brewhouse VFX into Conductor.  With the merger, Knowlton and Lydiard will share ownership and leadership responsibilities for the expanded Conductor Productions, a full-service production and post company.

Conductor’s new structure provides an opportunity for Knowlton and Lydiard to offer clients full service production expertise under one roof, while also providing essential a la carte production and postproduction services.  “For 13 years Engine Room Edit has served the production community with innovative editorial and visual effects,” said Knowlton.  “This strengthened connection with Conductor gives clients opportunities to bring editorial into a project earlier in the production process. We believe it’s a valuable creative option for our clients.”

Lydiard added, “By formalizing this new relationship, our clients can pick and choose the services they need. Our in-house staff will now have the flexibility to be involved with projects from the idea phase to the edit suite, as well as provide targeted expertise at specific points in the pipeline. With the experience of our combined staff, Conductor Productions can fulfill the specific needs of our clients- whether they prefer one stop full service or a unique boutique experience.”

The company will continue to provide a collaborative atmosphere for clients to create their commercial, broadcast, web and film projects.  “Scott and Noah saw an opportunity to consolidate and strengthen the Conductor brand, and 2019 seemed to be the right time to take this next step,” said Don Packer, co-founder of all three companies.  “I am proud of my role in the creation of these businesses and I’m thrilled that Scott and Noah are taking the reins of the new Conductor Productions. It will be exciting to see where these two seasoned professionals will take this new venture.”

  • Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019
"The Batman" set for 2021 release, star to be determined
In this June 19, 2017 file photo, director Matt Reeves appears at the screening of the film "War for the Planet of the Apes" in London. Reeves, who directed “Cloverfield” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” will helm the Batman film. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Who will be inside the suit remains unknown but "The Batman" has a release date.

Warner Bros. on Wednesday announced that Matt Reeves' stand-alone Batman film will hit theaters in June 2021. Ben Affleck was previously set to star in the film following his performances in "Justice League" and "Batman v. Superman," but a new Caped Crusader is to be cast.

Affleck, who was at one point also to direct "The Batman," tweeted that he's excited to see Reeves' vision of the film "come to life."

Warner Bros. also dated the next "Suicide Squad" film, to be written by James Gunn, for 2021. The studio set an adaption of Stephen King's "The Shining" sequel, "Doctor Sleep," for November this year, and Robert Zemeckis' "The Witches" for October 2020.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019
CBS bets big with new talent show "The World's Best"
Alison Holloway, from left, Mike Darnell, RuPaul and Ben Winston participate in the "The World's Best" show panel during the CBS presentation at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- 

CBS is betting big on "The World's Best," handing over the coveted post-Super Bowl time slot to the new talent competition shepherded by reality TV titans Mark Burnett and Mike Darnell.

Burnett has a track record following the NFL's showcase game. In 2001, his "Survivor: The Australian Outback" debuted in that slot, drawing more than 45 million viewers.

CBS scored again in 2010 when "Undercover Boss" followed the Super Bowl and lured more than 38 million viewers.

Hosted by James Corden, "The World's Best" premieres Sunday after Super Bowl 53.

Besides impressing judges RuPaul, Drew Barrymore and Faith Hill, contestants have to break through the "wall of the world" featuring more than 50 experts from 38 different countries who score the competition. Among them is Brazilian UFC fighter Anderson Silva.

The winner receives $1 million.

Burnett's other big hit is "The Voice." Darnell's credits include "American Idol" and "Ellen's Game of Games."

"The World's Best" joins a crowded field of reality competition programming, including "The Masked Singer," renewed for a second season by Fox on Wednesday.

Darnell noted to a TV critics' gathering that his show's format isn't based on any existing foreign programs and offers "the next new spin on a variety show."

If it works, Darnell envisions franchising the show to other countries.

"We have a very different voice, a very different flavor," executive producer Alison Holloway said. "We've dug deep to find talent that is new and exciting. Most of the acts on our show are professionals."

And there's no humiliation factor, executive producer Ben Winston said.

"Everybody is at the top of their game," he said. "No one is being laughed at. It's a very joyful and happy show."

The show offers RuPaul a broader platform than he's enjoyed as host of "RuPaul's Drag Race" on VH1.

"We were all not prepared for the emotional journey that the show and performances took us on," the drag performer said. "It was phenomenal to watch all these amazing people from around the world express themselves."

The second episode airs on Feb. 6.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019
Ettinger, Walker, Lagerhausen, McDonald team to form MADE-SF
MADE partners (clockwise from front, center) Doug Walker, Brian Lagerhausen, Jon Ettinger and Connor McDonald
SAN FRANCISCO -- 

MADE-SF, a creative studio offering editorial and other services, has launched in San Francisco. Executive producer Jon Ettinger, editor/director Doug Walker, and editors Brian Lagerhausen and Connor McDonald, all formerly of Beast Editorial, are partners in the new venture, which aims to provide agencies and brands with flexible, streamlined solutions for producing advertising and other content. Along with creative editorial, the company will provide motion graphic design, color correction and editorial finishing. Eventually, it plans to add concept development, directing and production to its mix.

MADE’s partners are drawing on their editorial expertise to build a platform that will give them the flexibility to work across many media, tailor services to individual projects, and provide the turnkey solutions that advertising clients are seeking. “Clients today are looking for creative partners who can help them across the entire production chain,” said Ettinger. “They need to tell stories and they have limited budgets available to tell them. We know how to do both, and we are gathering the resources to do so under one roof.”

MADE’s launch is also motivated by the partners’ desire to broaden their creative horizons. “It gives us a structure where we can form strategic alliances and collaborate with each other and with outside creatives,” noted Walker. “It’s a chance to apply our skills in new ways and create interesting content.”

MADE is currently set up in interim quarters while completing construction of permanent studio space. The latter will be housed in century-old structure in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood and will feature five editorial suites, two motion graphics suites, and two post-production finishing suites with room for further expansion.

The four MADE partners bring deep experience in traditional advertising and branded content, working both with agencies and directly with clients. Ettinger and Walker have worked together for more than 20 years and originally teamed up to launch FilmCore, San Francisco. Both joined Beast Editorial in 2012. Similarly, Lagerhausen and McDonald have been editing in the Bay Area for more than two decades. Collectively, their credits include work for top agencies in San Francisco and nationwide. They’ve also helped to create content directly for Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Salesforce and other corporate clients. “We have deep roots in the Bay Area and strong client relationships,” said Lagerhausen. “We look forward to, not just maintaining those relationships, but deepening them and exploring them in new directions.”

MADE is indicative of a trend where companies engaged in content development are adopting fluid business models to address a diversifying media landscapes, and where individual talent are no longer confined to a single job title. Walker, for example, has recently served as director on several projects, including a series of short films for Kelly Services, conceived by agency Erich & Kallman and produced by Caruso Co.

“People used to go to great pains to make a distinction about what they do,” Ettinger observed. “You were a director or an editor or a colorist. Today, those lines have blurred. We are taking advantage of that flattening out to offer clients a better way to create content.”

  • Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019
Peter Jackson making new documentary of Beatles in studio
In this file photo dated Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016, film director Peter Jackson poses for photographers at the world premiere of the Beatles movie, in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, FILE)
LONDON (AP) -- 

Director Peter Jackson is making a new documentary using never-before-seen footage of the Beatles in the studio.

The acclaimed Lord of the Rings director said Wednesday the film will be based on roughly 55 hours of footage of the band working on songs in the studio in January 1969.

"It's like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together," he says.

The film is being made with the cooperation of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison.

The film was announced on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' final performance on the roof of Apple Records in London.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019
"Fearless Girl" creator sued, accused of not making a statue
In this Dec. 11, 2018 file photo, The Fearless Girl statue stands at its new location in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Fearless Girl" statue creator Kristen Visbal is being sued by a group that says she failed to make a 9-foot (2.7-meter) bronze replica of Alexander Hamilton. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
LEWES, Del. (AP) -- 

The Delaware artist who created the "Fearless Girl" statue is being sued by a group that says she failed to make a 9-foot (2.7-meter) bronze replica of Alexander Hamilton.

The News Journal reports the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association's lawsuit says Kristen Visbal breached a $28,000 contract to create the statue.

The lawsuit says Visbal agreed in February 2017 to create a preliminary model of the Hamilton statue. That was around one month before "Fearless Girl" appeared a few blocks from the New York Stock Exchange, commissioned by an asset management firm to support greater female representation on corporate boards.

The lawsuit says Visbal never delivered. The association terminated its agreement last June, demanding a refund.

The suit seeks that refund and other fees.

Visbal didn't immediately respond to the newspaper's request for comment.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019
Actresses welcome on-set culture changes in MeToo era
Jennifer Carpenter, from left, Retta, Lorraine Toussaint and Susan Kelechi Watson participate in the Women of Drama panel during the NBCUniversal TCA Winter Press Tour on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- 

Lorraine Toussaint welcomes the idea of intimacy coaches on television and film sets, even if the actress wasn't quite sure what the job entails.

Informed that such coaches help stage scenes involving sex that are respectful to the actors, the 58-year-old star of NBC's upcoming series "The Village" told a TV critics meeting on Tuesday that she was forced to be her own advocate when no one else was around.

"I've been a bit of a Nazi about making sure that it's a closed set and that includes even sound," Toussaint said. "It is highly choreographed. It is highly rehearsed. And then everyone has to go away."

Toussaint joined Jennifer Carpenter of new series "The Enemy Within," Retta of "Good Girls" and Susan Kelechi Watson of "This Is Us" in agreeing that they're seeing changes in on-set culture since the emergence of the #MeToo movement.

"The greatest part of it is many men didn't even know that this was inappropriate or offensive. It has been so commonplace," said Toussaint, whose show debuts March 12. "So part of what's happening is the re-education of men in the workplace."

Carpenter added, "Many men have been really supportive of the movement."

Retta noticed last season's male guest stars expressed disbelief to the female stars of "Good Girls" that men thought they could get away with such demeaning behavior.

"They think it's insane," she said. "I was like, 'Yeah, it's not insane.'"

Watson said a meeting was held to discuss what is and isn't appropriate behavior on the set of the hit NBC series.

"There are some things that are so ingrained because it's been allowed to go on for so long," Watson said. "Just simple phrases of language that we use, we don't realize the possibilities of what's inherent in that. So there became a consciousness about even that, which I found really respectful."

  • Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019
"Empire" cast member alleges homophobic attack in Chicago
In this May 14, 2018 file photo, Jussie Smollett, a cast member in the TV series "Empire," attends the Fox Networks Group 2018 programming presentation afterparty in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
CHICAGO (AP) -- 

A cast member on the hit television show "Empire" alleged he was physically attacked by men in Chicago who shouted racial and homophobic slurs, police said Tuesday.

Police did not release the actor's name but a statement from Fox, which airs "Empire," identified him as Jussie Smollett, 36, who plays Jamal Lyon on the show. Authorities said they are investigating the alleged attack as a hate crime.

According to a police statement, Smollett was walking near the Chicago River downtown around 2 a.m. Tuesday when he was approached by two men who shouted at him, struck him in the face and poured an "unknown substance" on him before one of them wrapped a rope around his neck.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the two men, who were wearing masks, fled the scene. Authorities have not identified any suspects, and Guglielmi said detectives are gathering security footage from nearby buildings and trying to find witnesses.

Smollett was able to take himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, police said. He was last reported in good condition.

Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement Tuesday in support of Smollett. "The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence," the statement read.

"Empire" co-creator Lee Daniels also voiced his support for Smollett in an Instagram video.

"You didn't deserve, nor anybody deserves, to have a noose put around your neck," Daniels said. "You are better than that, we are better than that, America is better than that."

California Sen. Kamala Harris, a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, knows Smollett personally and called the attack "outrageous" and "awful."

"He is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I've ever met," Harris said Tuesday, adding that she's still learning more details about the incident.

Smollett's role as the gay son of a record company mogul in the drama propelled him to fame after it debuted four years ago. Smollett, who is gay, has been active in LBGTQ issues. He also released his debut album, "Sum of My Music," last year.

"Empire" is shot in Chicago and a Fox spokeswoman said the program is currently in production.

Associated Press writer Elana Schor contributed to this report from Washington.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019
"Brittany Runs a Marathon" gives Jillian Bell the spotlight
Lil Rel Howery, from left, Alice Lee, Micah Stock, Jillian Bell, director Paul Downs Colaizzo, Michaela Watkins and Utkarsh Ambudkar pose for a portrait to promote the film "Brittany Runs A Marathon" at the Salesforce Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- 

When Jillian Bell is offered roles that have to do with body issues, they usually fall into two buckets: They're either making fun of the character's weight, or, they're not presenting it in a way that she finds compelling or authentic.

It's why when she read the script for "Brittany Runs a Marathon," which premiered Monday at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival , she kind of couldn't believe it. The film, from writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo, was about a woman in her 20s living a fun, but not necessarily healthy, life who turns things around when she decides to start running. It's a charming and inspirational film from the first-time director that co-stars Lil Rel Howery and Michaela Watkins. The filmmakers are currently looking for distribution.

"I have wasted so much time in my life thinking negatively or consuming my day with body image," Bell said. "I'm lucky I've had great movies come my way that had nothing to do with it. But I have had a lot of other offers that do have a lot to do with body image and what people think — and  it's a weird thing to talk about — but what they think a person like me is worth. I joke about this but, like, if you have a body that looks like mine, you're not worthy of love."

But she found that she related to Brittany. She felt real to her. Because she kind of was. The character was inspired by one of Colaizzo's college friends and former roommates.

"She was in her 20s working in theater and living her best life in maybe the wrong sense of the word. And there was a shift around the time when I moved in where she started to realize she wants something else," Colaizzo said. "She started running and by the time she was out of the apartment, she had lost 80 pounds, had a new job and was working her way out of debt."

Now the real Brittany is married and works in genocide prevention, which, he laughed is, "Too good. If you put it in a movie you wouldn't believe it."

Bell, in one of her first dramatic performances and leading film roles, experienced her own sort of transformation during production.  She realized that she did enjoy more dramatic material, as taxing as all the crying was. And she lost 40 pounds — the last 11 pounds during filming.

"I trained beforehand because I did almost zero percent exercise before this film came along," Bell said. "I actually looked up something on Pinterest that was like how to train from couch to 5K. It was intense, but I wanted to go through the whole experience of what she went through."

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