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Crackle to Develop Sci-Fi Series Based on ‘Heart of Darkness’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 24 Apr 2018 07:15 AM PDT

Crackle is developing a series reimagining of the Joseph Conrad novel “Heart of Darkness,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The project is set in the future where Earth is a distant memory. It is described as an exploration of what it means to be human on a space odyssey where the survival of the human race hangs in the balance and will explore themes of race, immigration, and colonization much like the book.

“Heart of Darkness” has been adapted in various forms over the years. Perhaps most famously, it served as the inspiration for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Academy Award-winning Vietnam war film “Apocalypse Now” starring Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando in the main roles from the novel.

Cameron Litvack serves as writer as well as showrunner. He will executive produce along with Branden Morgan and Tony Giglio.

Litvack has previously worked as a writer and producer on shows like “Quantico,” “Grimm,” “V,” “Ugly Betty,” and “Charmed.” He is repped by UTA.

Should “Heart of Darkness” move forward, it would join the ranks of other Crackle dramas like “StartUp”-which was recently renewed for a third season-and “The Oath,” which debuted in March and has been renewed for Season 2. Crackle also airs the comedies “SuperMansion” and the series adaptation of “Snatch.”

Bloom/Spiegel Partnership Unveils Participants of Second Edition (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 24 Apr 2018 07:10 AM PDT

The Bloom/Spiegel Partnership, an alliance between New York’s IFP Marcie Bloom Fellowship in Film and Jerusalem’s prestigious Sam Spiegel Film School, has selected 8 filmmakers from around the world who will participate in the program’s second edition.

This year’s participants, Alik Barsoumian, Daliso Leslie, Clare Sackler, Ostin Fam (selected by Bloom), and Dana Blankstein-Cohen, Avishay Kahana, Maya Fischer and Sol Goodman (selected by Sam Spiegel), will spend time with other directors, industry professionals, and attend screenings and events over a period of five days. Tribeca Film Festival provided passes to all participants of the Bloom/Spiegel Partnership.

“We started this program last year as a bit of an experiment and the experience was so inspiring that we have entered into a second year of the partnership. Through this program we seek to expand our community, build international friendships and enrich the next generation of filmmakers,” said Dylan Leiner and Alex Uhlmann, the co-directors of the IFP Marcie Bloom Fellowship in Film.

Barsoumian, a New York-based Armenian-American filmmaker, graduated from NYU and had her thesis film, “Antouni,” premiere at Toronto in 2016. Barsoumian is currently developing a web series set in New York and a feature film set in modern-day rural Armenia.

Born in Zambia and raised in Florida, Leslie is a student of NYU’s graduate film department. He received the Spike Film Production Grant for this upcoming thesis film, “White Wedding.” His next film, “Mothers of the Dead” will center on a a black woman whose son was killed by police and who attempts to rebuild her life with the help of his white girlfriend.

Sackler is an American filmmaker who worked in development and production in L.A. before graduating from NYU in 2017. Her short film “Humpty” was recently distributed through PBS’s Film School Shorts program. She is currently developing several projects including a science fiction comedy pilot and two feature film comedies — one of which is being written by Todd Bartels and Michael Mitnick and produced by Tanya Wexler and Laura Ivey. Expected to begin shooting New York this Summer, the film will follow a free-spirited woman grappling with the realities of adulthood and long-term commitments as she nears her 30th birthday.

Born in Vietman and based in New York, Fam graduated from Wesleyan University and received the Steven J. Ross Prize for his senior film thesis. Fam is currently finishing the screenplay of his first feature, “Small Wars.” Taking place in a rural village in Vietnam, the story is about a family of three.

Dana Blankstein-Cohen, who graduated from Sam Spiegel Film and Television School with honors in 2008, is the executive director of the Israeli Academy of Film and Television. Her first short “Camping” played at Berlin in 2007. During her studies, Blankstein-Cohen assisted Savi Gabizon on “Nina’s Tragedies” and Renen Schorr on “The Loners.”

Avishay Kahana is the content development manager at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and director of the Kolnoa Darom Film Festival which is dedicated to up and coming Israeli filmmakers. Kahana graduated from the producers track of Sam Spiegel Film School and worked alongside the school’s founder, Schorr, on the launch of the Sam Spiegel International Film Lab.

Maya Fischer graduated with honors from Tisch Film School in Tel Aviv and has been associate producer and head of development at leading Israeli outfit Green Production for the last three years. She notably worked on Matan Yair’s “Scaffolding” and Eitan Anner’s “A Quiet Heart.” Fischer is also studying entertainment and copyright law in Israel.

Sol Goodman, who studied at Sam Spiegel Film School to become producer, is currently working with Oscar-nominated Dror Moreh on an American film. He will have two projects presented at the upcoming Sam Spiegel International Film Lab: “The Taste of Apples is Red” from Ehab Tarabieh, and “The Final Stop,” Nizan Gilady’s follow up to “Wedding Doll” which won best film at Jerusalem Film Festival and earned 9 Israeli Academy Awards nominations.

The Bloom/Spiegel Partnership is backed by the Israeli Film Fund and Tadmor, the NYC based Film and TV financing and production entity.

The IFP Marcie Bloom Fellowship, which just celebrated its 10-year anniversary at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, also announced the launch of a new grant, the Nick Louvel Breakthrough Filmmaker Award.

The young director Cathy Yan, whose “Dead Pigs” won this year’s Special Jury Prize at Sundance, is the first recipient of this $5,000 grant. The Award was created to honor the legacy and memory of director Nick Louvel (“Domino One”).

“We are thrilled to give Cathy Yan this award. Her film so skillfully weaves together intersecting narratives to tell the larger story of a fast changing society,” said the Louvel family. “Nick was passionate about every little detail of the filmmaking process and was drawn to telling human stories with empathy and humor, something we see reflected in Cathy Yan’s impressive work,” added the Louvel family.

‘Wolfenstein II’ Gets June Release Date on Nintendo Switch

Posted: 24 Apr 2018 07:01 AM PDT

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus” is officially launching on Nintendo Switch June 29, publisher Bethesda announced Tuesday.

It’s a direct sequel to the 2014 first-person shooter “Wolfenstein: The New Order” and set in an alternate universe where Nazis control America. As protagonist BJ Blazkowicz, the player leads a group of oddball freedom fighters against a Third Reich armed with advanced technology. The games are a soft reboot of the classic”Wolfenstein” franchise that first began with “Castle Wolfenstein” on the Apple II (kids, ask your parents) in 1981.

“Wolfenstein II” launched in October 2017 to positive reviews. It won best action game at The Game Awards 2017 and was nominated for best game direction, best narrative, and best performance. It also received nods for best gaming performance and studio of the year at the 35th Annual Golden Joystick Awards. But, it failed to crack the top 10 best-selling games in the U.S. that month, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. It placed 14th. But, it’s important to note that “Wolfenstein II” launched two days before the end of NPD’s reporting period and Bethesda doesn’t report digital sales to the firm. There’s no word on how the game has sold since then.

Developer Panic Button is handling the Nintendo Switch port with some guidance from MachineGames. There’s no word on whether or not it will include the three story DLC packs Bethesda has put out since its PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One launch. Each one follows the adventures of a freedom fighter battling the Nazis in American territories. And, like the port of Bethesda’s role-playing game “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” it looks like “Wolfenstein II” will have some form of motion controls using the Switch’s Joy-Cons.

You can watch the first video showing off the game in action (along with what appears to be a bit of motion controls) in the video below.

Container gardening adds dimension to your landscape

Posted: 24 Apr 2018 07:00 AM PDT

A beautiful garden is a joy to behold and makes your home feel connected to the outdoors. One layer of a beautiful garden includes containers. Adding container plantings to your home and landscape adds an additional layer and dimension of greenery against the lawn and planting beds. With the right containers, and when placed strategically, containers can also become focal points in your landscape.

No fuss

A creative way to use planters is to find a spot where a hardy plant will grow well and that’s in a space that catches your eye. It may be at one end of a sidewalk, the yard or next to the front door. Container gardens don’t always have to be annuals that you replace each spring or fall. Instead, try adding plants that will stay year-round or regrow in the spring. To get started, select planters that work well with your home’s style. If your home is traditional, a large Italian ceramic pot fits the bill. A square metal or ceramic container would work well with a contemporary home.

For modern style, try a low or no-maintenance Blue Glow agave plant (www.bonanza.com). Its striking appearance, linear look and exotic blue-gray coloring outlined in red make this plant a real attention-getter on a walkway or as a vignette opposite a window. Traditional clay or glazed ceramic planters will look wonderful filled with Little Ollie Dwarf Olive shrubs will stay green year-round, happily tolerate heat and cold, and require little maintenance (www.monrovia.com). Check with your local grower or nursery for hardy plants that will do well in containers year-round where you live.

Big, beautiful annuals

One way to dress up those hardy varieties and add a punch of color is to create a grouping of planters. Pair a year-round container plant with a perennial potted plant and fill in with a pot of colorful annuals to add dimension. Select planters of varying heights and shapes to add interest. Look for plants that will also grow in varying heights and widths. A terrific large annual that grows tall and attracts attention with showing red-tinged green leaves is a Dwarf Cavendish Banana Tree (www.fast-growing-trees.com). These easy-to-grow plants will fill an empty corner of the patio or garden and look terrific all summer long. In some climates, they’ll freeze back and then regrow the next year.

Grasses are another large annual that have interest and grow quickly. Look for annuals that trail, spike and bloom to make your containers interesting in texture and shape.

Bright ideas

Fill in your containers with the unexpected, such as bulbs. Try something exotic like spotted or black-colored elephant ears. They’ll grow quickly and can be removed in the fall and stored over the winter. Caladiums come in a wide variety of styles and colors and every variety of speckle and splotch. Try a white and green variety, add a trailing companion, such as English ivy, and fill in with white impatiens. Cannas are also great space fillers that add a burst of color and may come back year after year.

(For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her website, www.redlotusletter.com.)

As President Bullies Press, Resilient Journalists Refuse to Back Down (Opinion)

Posted: 24 Apr 2018 07:00 AM PDT

I have to be really honest with you.

As passionate and driven a journalist as I am, if given the assignment to cover Trump and his whacked-out administration, I absolutely couldn’t do it. I’m too angry about how incompetently our great country is being run and how our mealymouthed president has the audacity to characterize the press corps as “the enemy of the American people.”

Nope, I could not be objective in reporting on the absurd reality show playing out in the Trump presidency, and impartiality is what our profession demands. If Trump dared to attack me or any outlet I was representing as “fake news,” I would, well … lose it.

I’ve never taken well to being bullied. Just ask any of the industry’s biggest offenders, like Harvey Weinstein. I fight back. That’s not to say that the exceptional reporters covering the White House would ever allow themselves to be pushed around by this president.

There is no collection of comrades for whom I have more respect than the correspondents whose unenviable job it is to report on the absolute lunacy of a thin-skinned, Twitter-crazed president who acts like a five-year-old throwing sand in the eyes of the press and other individuals — including those in his own administration.

For this week’s magazine, our D.C.-based political editor, Ted Johnson, interviewed a number of intrepid reporters, including Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent; April Ryan, CNN contributor and longtime reporter for American Urban Radio Networks; and Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Washington Post, to give their insights into being in the trenches.

The three concur: Never in the history of the presidency have the tensions between the press corps and the White House been more contentious or more fraught.

“There is that natural tension that exists between the press and the people we’re covering, but it was never like this,” says Acosta. “We are all trying to make sense of and figure out: How do you cover the news in this kind of toxic environment?”

I stand in awe of the Acostas, Ryans and Parkers of the world, who are carrying the torch for journalists like me who could not possibly do their job.

50 Cent’s ‘The Oath’ Renewed for Season 2 by Sony’s Crackle

Posted: 24 Apr 2018 07:00 AM PDT

The Oath,” the L.A.-set crime drama from executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, is returning for a second season on Sony’s Crackle streaming network.

According to Sony, “The Oath” season 1 — which premiered March 8 with the bingeable release of all 10 episodes — has been Crackle‘s most-watched original series ever and currently has the highest viewer-retention rate. Sony didn’t release specific metrics, however.

The series was created by Joe Halpin, who worked as an L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. deputy in South Central for 17 years. The freshman season of the show stars Ryan Kwanten (“True Blood”), who is also a producer on the show; Sean Bean (“Game of Thrones”); Cory Hardrict (“American Sniper”); Arlen Escarpeta (“The Magicians”); Katrina Law (“Training Day”); and J.J. Soria (“Animal Kingdom”).

“The Oath” explores the secret underworld of gang crime rings — in which the members who make the cut take a pledge to do whatever it takes to protect each other from their enemies. Season 1 of “The Oath” was shot in Puerto Rico over three months last year, interrupted by the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

“Our audience has truly responded to this authentic, raw, and compelling series,” Eric Berger, Crackle GM and chief digital officer of Sony Pictures Television Networks, said at Crackle’s upfront presentation for advertisers Tuesday in New York.

“The Oath” is executive produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit Film & Television Inc., along with Halpin, Dennis Kim, Todd Hoffman, and Anne Clements.

“We have so much more story to tell, and I can’t wait to get started,” said Halpin, whose TV credits include “Hawaii Five-O” and “Secrets and Lies.”

First launched in 2007, Crackle is a free, ad-supported video service available in 21 countries.

Pictured above: Arlen Escarpeta (l.) and Ryan Kwanten in “The Oath” season 1

Tom Daley’s six-year baby clothes splurge

Posted: 24 Apr 2018 07:00 AM PDT

Tom Daley has been buying baby clothes for the past six years.

The 23-year-old Olympian – who is expecting a son with husband Dustin Lance Black via a surrogate – has always wanted to have a child and admits it was “hard” knowing he may never become a father, but he has made sure he is prepared by splashing out on numerous garments for his little one over the years.

He said: “It’s great having a husband, it’s quite a romantic marriage. I always wanted to get married and have children even before I met Lance.

“I’ve been buying baby clothes for the last six years, it was something that really mattered to me.

“Knowing it meant I might not be able to have a kid was hard. If you are in a straight relationship it can just be a matter of a glass of wine and a pizza on the sofa. To want a child as a same-sex couple is a tough process, a long process.”

Tom and Lance are unsure which of them is the biological father to their unborn child – who is due in June – and while they have a great relationship with their “amazing” surrogate, the diving sensation has been “terrified” reading numerous baby books ahead of the birth.

He said: “We found an egg donor and we are the sperm donors, we have fertilized half the eggs each. We put in a boy embryo and a girl embryo and we don’t know whose is whose. The next time we will do it the other way around.

“Ours [surrogate] is the most amazing woman, she is lovely and kind and generous. The baby books are terrifying.

“I’ve read up far too much, but we are both going to take time away from the pool and work.”

While Tom is unsure who his and Lance’s baby will take after, he is already planning to set the youngster on a path to follow in his diving career footsteps by putting him in water when he turns three months old.

He added to The Times newspaper: “All our family and friends are, like, ‘Are you going to get him into sport or film?’ But you never know what a child is going to be like. We’ve never met the egg donor so we don’t know about her.

“All we can do is love the living hell out of him and support whatever he tries … but I suspect he’ll be in a pool by three months.”

Kim Kardashian West’s Instagram displays her mood

Posted: 24 Apr 2018 07:00 AM PDT

Kim Kardashian West says her Instagram profile is the biggest insight into her personality.

The 37-year-old reality star – who has four-year-old daughter North, two-year-old son Saint, and three-month-old daughter Chicago with her husband Kanye West – has 110 million followers on the app and it’s the place where she most likes to share how she is feeling day-to-day, unlike Snapchat which she uses for their range of filters and Twitter for talking to others and seeking opinions.

Speaking about her use of the three social platforms, she said: “Snapchat has the best filters, so I’m always using their filter, their camera for posting. With Instagram, it’s this, like, mood for me.

“I’ll post how I’m feeling, what I want to do, what I do. That’s my mood.

“If I’m in Japan I’ll put in all these inspo pics and I’ll just, that’s my vibe of what I’m feeling that week. So I think that’s a good insight [into] my personality and what I’m feeling. With Twitter I really communicate with people the most. I look at that as the most interactive, but a great focus group too. I really do respect and value their opinions and I’m asking questions and love conversation back and forth. I love to live tweet if our show’s on, if something’s going on.”

While Kim is an avid social media user, the ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ star has also admitted that she finds it “hard” to deal with trolls.

She told The Business of Fashion magazine: “You have to be a strong person to just handle all the negative comments and the negative energy that comes your way, because if you put yourself out there, [it’s] the nature of the internet [that] everyone’s going to want to hate. That trolling energy that everyone puts out there, that negative energy, is really hard to deal with. It’s really, really tough.”

Blac Chyna’s mother’s lawsuit against Wendy Williams dismissed

Posted: 24 Apr 2018 07:00 AM PDT

Blac Chyna’s mother Tokyo Toni’s defamation lawsuit against chat show host Wendy Williams has been dismissed.

The 44-year-old matriarch – whose real name is Shalana Jones-Hunter – had sued Wendy, 53, and the producers of ‘The Wendy Williams Show’ for $1 million with a handwritten lawsuit filed last October accusing Wendy and her producers of defamation, slander and harassment.

Tokyo accused Wendy of spreading lies about her being a “gold-digging stripper” and claimed the TV personality’s actions had left her struggling to eat or sleep due to the stress caused by the “irrational and despicable” attacks.

She also alleged that Wendy’s verbal assaults had caused problems in her relationship and cost her a job as a Uber/Lyft driver and the stress had resulted in health issues such as depression and high blood pressure and led to a hospitalisation in December.

Tokyo’s original lawsuit had read: “I have never been so humiliated and shamed in my entire life. I am a humanitarian!”

According to website The Blast, the judge presiding over the lawsuit dismissed the entire case on 10 April after growing frustrated with Tokyo’s lack of proof that she had served Wendy with the correct papers. Back in February the judge had told Tokyo he required the proof in the case was to proceed.

At the most recent hearing, Tokyo did not show up to court to seek an extension or show she attempted to serve Wendy which left the judge with no option other than to end proceedings.

Blac Chyna has also had her issues with Wendy and back in November 2016 she took to her Instagram account to tell American TV staple exactly what she thought of her in the wake of an on-air critique of the beauty’s relationship with now ex-fiancé Rob Kardashian.

Chyna – who now has a 17-month-old daughter Dream with Rob – posted: “Wendy… Wendy… Wendy… you lost your motherf****n mind h*e? How dare you speak on me, my fiancé, and my mom like you were at the Christmas table with us?! I find it so funny how you love to talk about Rob and his insecurities like at a point in time you wasn’t a fat 400 pound ass bitch on the radio … Then let’s not talk about this Lil vendetta you have with my mom. Wendy Bitch you’re cruisin’ Honestly, truly.. You go out there talking about my family like you just hit the pipe backstage! When I decided to do this show I knew I would be letting the world see us. But your horse face ass woke up on the wrong side of the stable and decide to go overboard with your comments. Bitch f**k you ! “P” body ass h*e @wendyshow @wendyshow @wendyshow [sic]”

Bruce Springsteen Joins Patti Smith on Stage at Tribeca ‘Horses’ Premiere

Posted: 24 Apr 2018 06:52 AM PDT

Monday night at the Tribeca Film Festival belonged to lovers of Patti Smith. Bruce Springsteen was a surprise guest at the Beacon Theater as Smith tore through a short set following the world premiere of Steve Sebring’s documentary “Horses: Patti Smith and her Band.”

The docu chronicles Smith’s 2015 and 2016 tour marking the 40th anniversary of her landmark album “Horses.”

As soon as the film ended, the curtain rose on Smith and her ensemble, which included longtime collaborator Lenny Kaye. They delivered a rousing hour of tunes, including “Dancing Barefoot,” “Land,” “Gloria,” and the Buffalo Springfield chestnut “For What It’s Worth.” She dedicated the latter song to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Fla., who have become gun control activists in the wake of the mass shooting that left 17 dead in February.

“We are moving to a new time and I look at young people to lead us,” Smith said. “It is the people who make change. People, we have to make change now.”

Smith buttressed her point by holding up her electric guitar and declaring that the instrument “the weapon of choice for my generation.”

Toward the end, Smith told the crowd she had “one more person” to bring out. The theater exploded when Springsteen came out, ax in hand, to duet with Smith on their 1978 collaboration “Because the Night.” Springsteen stuck around for the closing song, “People Have the Power,” which also featured a guest appearance by REM frontman Michael Stipe.