Sunday, September 23, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 51 - 60 of 3191
  • Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018
CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" to end in 2019 after 12 seasons
This image released by CBS shows Kunal Nayyar, from left, Simon Helberg, Melissa Rauch, Jim Parsons, Mayim Bialik, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco appear in a scene from the long-running comedy series "The Big Bang Theory." The popular series will end in 2019. (Erik Voake/CBS via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

CBS says the upcoming 12th season of "The Big Bang Theory" will be the last.

It's the most popular comedy on television.

The series began about geeky physicist roommates portrayed by Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki and expanded to include their friends, girlfriends and then wives.  Other stars include Mayim Bialik and Kaley Cuoco.

Parsons' work on the show has earned him four Emmy awards and a Golden Globe. CBS also airs a prequel about his character called "Young Sheldon."

There's also a UCLA scholarship created by and named for the series to support undergrad study in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Season 12 of "Big Bang" premieres Sept. 24.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018
Argento denies sexual assault, says Bourdain made payment
In this May 17, 2009 file photo, Italian actress Asia Argento arrives on the red carpet for the screening of "Vengeance" during the 62nd International film festival in Cannes, France. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Two days after a report detailed an accusation of sexual assault against #MeToo activist Asia Argento, the Italian actress and filmmaker said she never had a sexual relationship with the young actor whom she agreed to pay $380,000 in a settlement.

Argento, who has alleged that film producer Harvey Weinstein raped her, said in a statement Tuesday that she was linked "in friendship only" to Jimmy Bennett, a now 22-year-old Los Angeles actor who filed a legal notice of intent to sue Argento. As detailed in a New York Times story published Sunday, Bennett claimed Argento, then 37, sexually assaulted him when he was 17 in a California hotel room in 2013. As a child actor, Bennett played Argento's son in the 2004 film "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things"

Argento said Tuesday that the $380,000 payment was undertaken by her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain, the television star chef.

"Bennett knew my boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, was a man of great perceived wealth and had his own reputation as a beloved public figure to protect," said Argento. "Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life."

Bourdain killed himself in France in June. He has been a staunch supporter of Argento following her allegations against Weinstein.

A lawyer for Bennett didn't immediately comment Tuesday. But in a statement Monday, Gordon K. Sattro said: "At this time, our client, Jimmy Bennett, does not wish to comment on the documents or the events discussed in the New York Times article yesterday evening.

While we realize that the news cycle demands an immediate response, many times, people need more than a few minutes or hours to respond. We are asking that you give our client some time and space. Jimmy is going to take the next 24 hours, or longer, to prepare his response."

Bennett's notice of intent sought $3.5 million in damages, according to the Times report.

Los Angeles County sheriff's Capt. Darren Harris on Monday said investigators were looking into the alleged incident. No police report was filed at the time, Harris said.

Argento became one of the leading figures of the #MeToo movement after she told the New Yorker magazine that Weinstein raped her at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 when she was 21. Argento told the magazine that she continued to have a relationship with Weinstein because she was afraid of angering him.

Weinstein has been indicted on sex crime accusations involving three women, but not including Argento. The filmmaker, who is divorced and has two children, lives in Rome.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018
Director Danny Boyle departs James Bond over "creative differences"
In this March 15, 2018 file photo, director Danny Boyle attends FX Networks' annual all-star party in New York. Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, along with star Daniel Craig, announced Tuesday that Danny Boyle has exited the project over “creative differences.” (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The next James Bond movie has lost its director.

Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, along with star Daniel Craig, announced Tuesday that Danny Boyle has exited the project over "creative differences." Boyle, the director of "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Trainspotting," earlier this year confirmed that he would direct the 25th 007 film. Boyle and his regular collaborator John Hodge were working on the script.

Production on the film, often referred to as "Bond 25," was to begin in December. The movie is to be Craig's fifth outing as James Bond, though endless speculation on his successor has been ongoing. Most recently, Idris Elba alluded to rumors of his casting by tweeting "Elba. Idris Elba."

The 25th Bond film is scheduled for U.S. release on Nov. 8 next year.

  • Monday, Aug. 20, 2018
Report: MeToo activist Argento settled sex assault complaint
In this May 17, 2009 file photo, Italian actress Asia Argento arrives on the red carpet for the screening of "Vengeance" during the 62nd International film festival in Cannes, France. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Italian actress Asia Argento — one of the most prominent activists of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment — recently settled a complaint filed against her by a young actor and musician who said she sexually assaulted him when he was 17, the New York Times reported. 

Argento, 42, settled the notice of intent to sue filed by Jimmy Bennett, who is now 22, for $380,000 shortly after she said last October that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein raped her, the Times reported.

Argento and Bennett co-starred in a 2004 film called "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things" in which Argento played Bennett's prostitute mother.

Bennett says in the notice that he had sex with Argento in a California hotel in 2013.  The age of consent in California is 18.

The notice says the encounter traumatized Bennett and hurt his career, the Times reported.

The newspaper said it received court documents that included a selfie of Argento and Bennett in bed. Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic, the Times reported.

In a statement to The Associated Press on Monday, a lawyer for Bennett said the actor "does not wish to comment on the documents or the events" at this time.

The statement asked for privacy and noted that Bennett would take "the next 24 hours, or longer, to prepare his response."

Argento became one of the most well-known activists of the #MeToo movement after she told the New Yorker magazine that Weinstein raped her at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 when she was 21. Argento told the magazine that she continued to have a relationship with Weinstein because she was afraid of angering him.

Weinstein has been indicted on sex crime accusations involving three women, but not including Argento.

Representatives for Argento did not respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment.

  • Monday, Aug. 20, 2018
Silicon Valley vet to head women's advocacy group Catalyst
In this undated photo provided by Catalyst Inc. Lorraine Hariton poses for a photo. Hariton becomes CEO at Catalyst in an era when the #MeToo movement has ensnared major corporations and, with exit of PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi serving as a reminder, the top jobs at the nation's largest companies remain elusive for women. (Paula Vlodkowsky/Catalyst Inc. via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

A former Silicon Valley CEO is taking the helm of a prominent organization dedicated to the promotion of women in the workplace, saying the #MeToo era is a "fantastic time" to champion gender equality.

Lorraine Hariton becomes CEO of the group Catalyst at time when sexual misconduct scandals are ensnaring corporate executives, and the departure of PepsiCo's CEO highlighted the tiny number of women leading Fortune 500 companies.

But Hariton, whose appointment was announced Monday, said the #MeToo movement has pushed the spotlight on gender equality like nothing she has seen since she began her business career at IBM in the 1970s.

"I felt the timing was really fantastic," Hariton said. "Not only are women in the work place on the front page, there is a major shift in attitude that allows us chart the future of the next generation."

Hariton previously served as the CEO of two tech startups, Beatnik and Apptera. She served in the State Department under President Barack Obama, and most recently as a senior vice president at the New York Academy of Sciences.

Catalyst, a research and advocacy institution based in New York City, was founded in 1962 by the late Felice Schwartz, who became known for a controversial 1989 Harvard Business Review article that proposed flexible career paths for working mothers. Other feminists criticized the piece, which gave rise to the term "Mommy Track," although Schwartz herself did not use those words.

Since then, support has risen for policies designed to encourage both parents to remain in the workforce through policies that allow flexible hours and extended family leave.

Hariton, a mother of two, said it was IBM's culture of encouraging reasonable working hours that drew to her the company after earning her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1977. She noted that IBM and other companies have instituted more formal policies and programs designed to attract female talent.

Finding policies that work has been touch-and-go, however. IBM, for example, scaled back its popular remote-work program last year.

And only a sliver of leadership posts at Fortune 500 companies, about 5 percent, are held by women, according to Catalyst.

Women are also being left behind in the proliferation of tech startups. Catalyst points to a 2017 study by Babson and Wellsley College that found that 97 percent of venture capitalist funding goes to companies led by male CEOs.

That issue is of special interest to Hariton, who said she raised $50 million in venture capital during her time at Silicon Valley. She said promoting diversity in male-dominated venture capitalist firms needs to be priority.

"The culture in technology is moving so fast that you end up with a young culture that is more like a frat environment, which makes it more difficult for women," she said.

  • Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018
U.S. regulators target Facebook on discriminatory housing ads
In this March 29, 2018, file photo the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Federal regulators are alleging that Facebook's advertising tools allow landlords and real estate brokers to engage in housing discrimination.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said in an administrative complaint this week that Facebook violated the Fair Housing Act because its targeting systems allow advertisers to exclude certain audiences, such as families with young children or disabled people, from seeing housing ads.

"When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it's the same as slamming the door in someone's face," HUD Assistant Secretary Anna María Farias said in a statement Friday.

Service providers such as Facebook typically aren't liable for the actions of their users. In a separate, civil lawsuit filed by housing advocates, the Justice Department says Facebook doesn't fall under that category because it mines user data, some of which users have to provide, and customizes ads for specific audiences. The government says that counts as being a content creator, rather than merely a transmitter of user content.

Facebook said the company doesn't allow discrimination and has strengthened its systems over the past year to prevent misuse. The company added that it is working directly with HUD to address its concerns. Facebook has an opportunity to respond to the HUD complaint before the agency determines whether to file formal charges.

The HUD action is separate from the federal lawsuit, filed in March in New York by the National Fair Housing Alliance and other organizations. The lawsuit says investigations by fair housing supporters in New York, Washington, D.C., Miami and San Antonio, Texas, show that Facebook continues to let advertisers discriminate even though civil rights and housing groups have notified the company since 2016 that it is violating the federal Fair Housing Act. It seeks unspecified damages and a court order to end discrimination.

The Justice Department's position came in a filing in that case. Facebook said it plans to respond in court.

  • Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018
Stan Lee gets 3-year restraining order against ex-adviser
In this June 28, 2017 file photo, Stan Lee arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" at the TCL Chinese Theatre. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Stan Lee's restraining order against a former business manager was extended for three years on Friday, in another apparent step toward stability for the Marvel Comics mogul after a tumultuous year.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered Keya Morgan to stay away from the Marvel Comics mogul and his family members, making permanent a previous temporary restraining order that Lee's lawyers had received.

The 95-year-old Lee has been the subject of a power struggle involving his daughter, Morgan, and others who sought roles in his life and business after the death last year of Lee's wife, Joan, who was his de facto manager and closest adviser.

Lee's lawyer Jonathan Freund told The Associated Press that Lee and his family are pleased he can move forward with his life and get on with his work "without being bothered or harassed."

Morgan, a film producer with a hand in many parts of the entertainment business, gained control over Lee's business for several months this year, until elder abuse allegations emerged from Lee's attorneys and police opened an investigation into the issue. Morgan has not been charged with elder abuse, but he has been charged with reporting a false emergency for calling 911 when a social worker and detectives came to check on Lee.

The restraining order request also alleges he embezzled millions in assets from Lee.

Morgan's attorney Alex Kessel told the AP that his client has done nothing harmful to Lee. "He never has, and he never will," Kessel said.

Morgan has previously adamantly denied he ever had bad intentions with Lee, who he says is a cherished friend.

With Morgan's ouster, Lee's daughter J.C. Lee and her attorneys returned as the main managers of Lee's affairs.

Freund said Le, who co-created the Incredible Hulk, Spider Man, and much of Marvel's comic and cinematic universe, is creating comic characters again, and his previously deteriorating health is improving.

"He's doing better every day," Freund said.

  • Friday, Aug. 17, 2018
"Black-ish" creator Kenya Barris sets exclusive Netflix deal
In this Jan. 8, 2017 file photo, Kenya Barris arrives at the HBO Golden Globes afterparty in Beverly Hills, Calif.(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Netflix says it's signed "black-ish" creator Kenya Barris to an exclusive production agreement.

The multi-year deal announced Thursday makes Barris the latest prominent TV creator to jump from broadcast and cable to the streaming platform.

Barris' Peabody-winning "black-ish" aired on ABC, and he produced the spinoff "grown-ish" for the network's Disney Co. sibling, Freeform.

He ended his ABC Studios contract early after ABC declined to air a "black-ish" episode that reportedly addressed issues including the NFL player protests.

Among other producers who have made Netflix deals: Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC hits "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," and Ryan Murphy of FX series including "American Horror Story."

In a statement, Barris joked that he'd decided to take a chance on Netflix despite it being what he called a "mom-and-pop shop."

  • Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018
Australian filmmaker goes on trial in Cambodia
Australian filmmaker James Ricketson sits in a prison truck upon his arrival at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. Ricketson has gone on trial in Cambodia on charges of endangering national security after being arrested last year for flying a drone to capture images of an opposition political rally. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- 

One of Australia's most famous movie directors testified Thursday in Cambodia at the trial of a filmmaking countryman facing a possible prison term of five to 10 years for flying a drone to capture images of an opposition political rally.

Peter Weir, director of "The Year of Living Dangerously," ''Dead Poets Society" and "The Truman Show," testified as a character witness at the trial of James Ricketson, who was arrested in June 2017 and has been kept in detention since then.

Ricketson, 69, was taken in an orange prison uniform to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for the first official trial session on the charge of endangering national security, which in legal terms is tantamount to espionage.

Before testimony began, Ricketson's lawyer applied for his release on bail, as he had unsuccessfully done several times previously, but was again turned down by the judge.

Weir testified that he has known Ricketson since 1973, when they met at film school in Australia.

Weir, 73, told the court that Ricketson has never been involved with any political parties or government work but worked mostly as a freelancer and spent his life making documentary films, especially focused on Australian subjects, for which he had won several prizes.

"In 1973, I remember that that was the first year James went to movie school and I was his adviser. We have been friends and colleagues," said Weir. "No one knows James better than I."

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom after he testified, Weir explained why he believed his friend was innocent of the charge.

"What James has done or not done may have been something that in Australia is perfectly normal but here has been seen to be sinister, and it is not, he is just doing everything he does in Australia," he said.

Ricketson was arrested after he used a drone to film the final rally of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party before local elections. The party has since been dissolved as part of a sweeping crackdown on the opposition and media critical of Prime Minister Hun Sen's government.

The crackdown was widely seen as preparation for ensuring a victory by Hun Sen's ruling party in last month's general election, in which it won all 125 seats in the National Assembly. With Hun Sen's extension of power accomplished, there has been speculation the courts — widely seen as under government control — might allow Ricketson to walk free. Ricketson had been seen as sympathetic to the opposition party.

Despite his extended pre-trial detention, the official start of Ricketson's trial has been twice postponed at his request, the first time to inspect further evidence and the second to acquaint a new lawyer with the case. According to his family, Ricketson has been detained in a 6-by-16-meter (20-by-52-foot) cell along with 140 other prisoners, and in May he reportedly became ill with a chest ailment and was moved to the prison hospital.

As he was being taken to a vehicle to be driven back to jail after Thursday's trial session, Ricketson shouted to reporters that he had seen no evidence supporting the charge against him and questioned what country he was supposed to have been spying for. He has made the same points in previous appearances at court.

But in a July 1 letter to Hun Sen published in the pro-government Khmer Times newspaper, he apologized for his "mistake" in his statements about his situation.

"May I please, respectfully, send my sincerest apologies to yourself and the Cambodian government. I now realize that my statements I have made in the press and other media are disruptive and ill informed. These statements were made from a place of foreign naivety and ignorance about the complexities and difficulties of governing Cambodia," he wrote.

"I apologize unreservedly and without condition for any distress I may have caused as a result of my ignorance of Cambodian issues. If there is anything I can do to remedy my mistake, please let me know as I only want the best for you and Cambodia," the letter said.

  • Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018
Paul Walker's brothers open to "Fast" franchise return
In this Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018 photo, Cody Walker, from left, Adrian Buitenhuis and Caleb Walker, pose for a portrait in Los Angeles, in promotion of the documentary film "I Am Paul Walker." (Photo by Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Nearly five years after Paul Walker's death, his brothers say they're open to playing his character again in the "Fast and Furious" franchise.

Producers asked Caleb and Cody Walker to fill in for their brother and help complete "Furious 7" after he died in a fiery off-set car crash in November 2013.

His face was digitally superimposed onto his brothers' performances for scenes that Walker had not yet shot and in a modified ending in which his character Brian O'Conner drives off into the sunset.

The character remains alive in the fictional "Fast" universe and is mentioned twice in 2017's "The Fate of the Furious."

"I just hope we get to — I don't know — have a little cameo and bring Paul back to save the day and I get to help create that again," Caleb Walker, 40, said in an interview last week. "That's my dream and I hope we get to do that in one of the future movies."

"I think there could potentially be a way to do it. But it would take a lot of thought and it'd have to be tasteful. It would have to be tasteful," Cody Walker, 30, said in the interview. "He was the real deal, the real car guy. And in his absence, I — you know — I think it's lost its way in a big way."

Caleb and Cody Walker were promoting "I Am Paul Walker," a new one-hour documentary about the actor's childhood, family and career directed by Adrian Buitenhuis. It premiered last weekend on the Paramount Network.

Both Walker brothers became fathers for the first time last year and live in Southern California. They have not re-watched the full "Furious 7" film since attending the premiere in April 2015.

"It's kind of creepy sometimes when you're like, 'Oh, that's me.' It doesn't feel right," Caleb Walker said. "I think one day, when our kids are little older and we are able to share that experience with them and be like, 'Hey look, this is your uncle Paul. He was the greatest guy in the world and here we are being able to portray him and finish up this movie for him.' That's when I think it will really hit that I think it was really worth it and special and all that. But in the meantime, it's still a little conflicted."

Walker was 40 years old when the Porsche Carrera GT he was riding in spun out of control, struck three trees and burst into flames on a street in Santa Clarita, California.

The next scheduled film in the "Fast" franchise is a spin-off featuring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. It's set for release next year.

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