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Andy Yeatman, Former Netflix Head of Kids Content, Lands at Startup Moonbug (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 08:00 AM PST

Andy Yeatman has joined children’s entertainment startup Moonbug Entertainment to oversee North America operations, after he was dismissed from Netflix a little over a year ago.

Moonbug, dual-headquartered in London and L.A., has set out on a mission to acquire “fun and safe” kids’ entertainment properties and develop new content and businesses based on them. Yeatman, as head of the Americas for Moonbug, oversees creative and commercial operations in the region out of its recently opened Los Angeles office.

The startup was founded last year by CEO René Rechtman, most recently head of digital studios at the Walt Disney Co. International and before that international head of Maker Studios, and chief operating officer John Robson, former head of international digital distribution at Paramount Pictures and VP of global content at HTC. Last month, Moonbug announced $145 million in first-round funding led by the Raine Group, with participation from others including venture-capital firms Felix Capital and Fertitta Capital.

At Netflix, Yeatman was director of kids and family programming, growing the streaming company’s originals slate in the category from two titles in 2014 to 40 in 2017. Those include “Alexa and Katie,” “Ask the Storybots,” “Trollhunters,” “Beat Bugs,” “Chasing Cameron,” “Julie’s Greenroom” with Julie Andrews, “Magic School Bus Rides Again” and “Project MC2.” Yeatman also led Netflix’s kids and family programming strategy and acquisitions globally.

Netflix fired Yeatman in December 2017 over a comment he made concerning sexual-assault accusations against actor Danny Masterson of Netflix comedy “The Ranch” (who was later booted from the show). Yeatman was asked by a woman who approached him at his daughter’s soccer game about Netflix’s inaction on the Masterson allegations, and Yeatman suggested to her that the company didn’t believe the accusers. Asked about what happened, Yeatman said, “It was an unfortunate incident. It was a careless comment. I regret it. I don’t blame anyone else but myself.” He added that working at Netflix “was one of the greatest experiences of my career.”

After leaving Netflix, Yeatman set up his own consulting firm focused on kids-and-family digital media before connecting with Moonbug’s principals last year and then joining the team. “This is exactly the kind of company I wanted to be part of,” he said.

In a statement, Rechtman said, “Andy is one of the most accomplished and respected executives in children’s entertainment — and he has the accolades to prove it. He is an outstanding addition to our team and his unique industry knowledge combined with his expertise in the American market is a huge asset for us.”

Moonbug’s first acquisition was Little Baby Bum, a YouTube channel focused on nursery rhymes and kids’ songs, which has generated 23 billion video views to date and has sold shows to services including Netflix and Amazon. In fact, Yeatman led the deal for Little Baby Bum’s “Nursery Rhyme Friends” series when he was at Netflix.

The startup has deals for other kids’ media brands in the offing. “We are acquiring digital-first IP [intellectual property] that has passionate audiences around the world,” Yeatman said. Moonbug, which has about 40 employees, is looking to staff up the Hollywood office with additional creative, commercial production, sales and licensing personnel.

Yeatman noted that Little Baby Bum’s “Wheels on the Bus” song-compilation video on YouTube is one of the most-watched videos on the platform, with over 2.1 billion views to date. “Music is a theme that will run through our portfolio,” Yeatman said.

Moonbug is focused on content for kids 8 and under that promotes “compassion, empathy and resilience.” The company’s plan is to develop and license spinoff shows featuring various characters, as well as grow advertising and create brand extensions like merchandise, music, games, and live events.

While at Netflix, Yeatman closed licensing or production deals with content companies including Disney, DreamWorks Animation, eOne, Hasbro, Lego, Mattel, Nickelodeon and Warner Bros. Under his tenure, Netflix’s kids and family shows received 30 Daytime Emmy Awards and 100 total nominations.

Before joining Netflix in early 2011, Yeatman worked in digital distribution for Walt Disney Studios, where he negotiated movie distribution deals with platforms including Hulu, Apple’s iTunes, Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox. He also helped develop Disney’s initial business plan for a direct-to-consumer movie service. Earlier in his career, Yeatman worked at companies including Ascent Media Group, Verizon and CIBC World Markets.

Nina Dobrev defends friendship with ex Ian Somerhalder

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 08:00 AM PST

Nina Dobrev doesn’t find it “weird” being friends with ex-boyfriend Ian Somerhalder and his wife Nikki Reed.

The ‘Vampire Diaries’ star dated her 40-year-old co-star in the supernatural series in 2010, after meeting on set in 2009, before splitting up in 2013.

A year later, the ‘Lost’ star began seeing the 30-year-old actress – who is best known for portraying Rosalie Hale in ‘The Twilight Saga’ – and the pair got married a year later, before welcoming their first child together in 2017.

Nina has previously rubbished claims she had fallen out with Ian and Nikki two years ago, and during an appearance on ‘Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen’ on Wednesday (16.01.19), she defended her decision to remain close to the couple once again.

When someone phoned in and asked: “Nina, you used to date Ian [Somerhalder], and now that he’s married, is it weird that you’re friends with both him and his wife [Nikki Reed]?”, she replied: “I don’t think that’s weird at all. That’s great. Why can’t everyone be friends?

Nina insisted that she is “happy” for Ian and Nikki and said their baby daughter Bodhi, 17 months, is “beautiful”.

She added: “I think that they have a beautiful baby. They are happy – and so am I. What’s bad about that? I don’t see any problem with that.”

Speaking perviously about their amicable split, Nina said: “I’ve said this before, that we didn’t break up because anything bad happened or because there wasn’t love or friendship.

“I love him and the friendship is still strong and I think he’s great and I care about him.

“And that didn’t change. Yes, we’re professional and that’s fine. We were friends long before we dated and we still are now.”

Cardi B and Camila Cabello to perform at Grammys

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 08:00 AM PST

Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Post Malone and Shawn Mendes are all set to perform at the Grammy Awards.

The first wave of artists have been confirmed for the forthcoming ceremony at the STAPLES center in Los Angeles on February 11, including five-time nominee Cardi, ‘Havana’ hitmaker Camila – who is up for Best Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album – the ‘Better Now’ rapper, who received four nods including Best Pop Vocal Performance and Album and Canadian pop hunk, who has been shortlisted for Pop Vocal Album for his self-titled third studio album and Best Song for ‘In My Blood’.

They will be joined by Best Album [‘Dirty Computer’] and Music Video [‘Pynk’] nominee Janelle Monáe, and country stars Kacey Musgraves, who is nominated four times, and Dan + Shay, who received a nod for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

The star-studded line-up announcement comes days after it was confirmed that Alicia Keys is set to host the prestigious awards ceremony.

In a YouTube video, which was titled “I’m Hosting the 2019 Grammys (Alicia Keys)”, the singer is seen receiving the phone call from her manager who delivered the exciting news, as well as clips of her spilling the details to her family – including her mother, her husband Swizz Beatz, and their children, eight-year-old Egypt and four-year-old Genesis – and staff members.

Alicia then spends the rest of the video trying on outfits, and taking part in a photo shoot for promotional material alongside the 15 golden gongs she already owns herself.

In the description of the video, the ‘Fallin’ singer wrote: “I’m soooo EXCITED to announce that I’ll be hosting the 61st Annual Grammy Awards !!

“There’s so much in store and I CAN’T WAIT for y’all to see it ALL come to life Tune in on February 10th at 5PM PST / 8PM EST. Only on CBS! (sic)”

Kendrick Lamar is nominated for the most gongs this year with eight nods to his name, with Drake close behind with seven, and Boi-1da and Brandi Carlile receiving six nominations each.

Lady Gaga, Childish Gambino, Maren Morris, R&B newcomer H.E.R., and producer Sounwave all have five nominations along with Cardi.

Gladys Knight confirms Super Bowl gig

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 08:00 AM PST

Gladys Knight has confirmed she is performing the US national anthem at the Super Bowl LII.

The ‘Midnight Train To Georgia’ hitmaker says she is “proud” to have landed the gig to sing ‘The Star- Spangled Banner’ before the big game kicks off at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in her hometown of Georgia, Atlanta, on February 3, despite the controversy surrounding the flagship NFL game.

Many people – including actress Amy Schumer and pop star Rihanna, who reportedly refused to perform at the halftime show – have called on performers to boycott the event for former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick – who was exiled from the NFL for his #TakeAKnee movement, which saw him and several other players refuse to stand during the national anthem at games because of the protest against police brutality and racial injustice.

Speaking to TMZ.com after the announcement, Knight said: “I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta.

“The NFL recently announced their new social justice platform Inspire Change, and I am honoured to be a part of its inaugural year.”

The 74-year-old music icon’s statement comes after rapper Travis Scott faced criticism agreeing to join Maroon 5 on stage at the world famous sporting event.

However, The ‘Astroworld’ rapper reportedly spoke with Kaepernick before he agreed to the gig.

Sources told Variety that Travis had “at least one” phone conversation with the sportsman before he confirmed his appearance, and though they did not necessarily agree, they ended the chat with “mutual respect and understanding.”

The 26-year-old star is said to have taken the stance that everyone makes a statement in their own way, and he felt the $500,000 donation he and the NFL agreed to make to non-profit social-justice organisation Dream Corps, as well as the platform of the Super Bowl, would do some good.

According to the insider, Travis refused to confirm his participation until the agreed donation was locked in.

The ‘Sicko Mode’ hitmaker admitted when the donation was announced that he hopes his performance can “inspire” and praised the work of Dream Corps., who support support economic, environmental and criminal justice innovators.

He said: “I back anyone who takes a stand for what they believe in.

“I know being an artist that it’s in my power to inspire. So before confirming the Super Bowl Halftime performance, I made sure to partner with the NFL on this important donation. I am proud to support Dream Corps and the work they do that will hopefully inspire and promote change.”

Big Boi will also join Maroon 5 at the pre-game performance.

Other Angle Bows Raft of French Comedies at UniFrance’s Paris Rendez-Vous (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:53 AM PST

Other Angle has picked up international sales rights to “A Good Doctor” with Michel Blanc, “Just The Three of Us” with Catherine Frot, and “The Father Figure” in the run-up to the UniFrance’s Rendez-Vous in Paris.

Directed by Eric Besnard, “The Father Figure” is a supernatural comedy drama following a writer who mourns the death of his father and starts seeing him reappear; but he turns out to be the only one able to see him. The film stars François Berleand, Guillaume de Tonquedec and Josiane Balasko.

“Just The Three of Us,” which marks the feature debut of José Alcala, is a love-triangle comedy starring Daniel Auteuil and Catherine Frot. Auteuil stars a man on a mission to get his wife back after she leaves him for another man. Both “The Father Figure” and “Just The Three of Us” will be released by Apollo Films in France.

“A Good Doctor,” which will start shooting at the end of the month, stars Michel Blanc as a visiting doctor who is tired after 20 years of service and sends a food delivery guy (Hakim Jemili) to visit his patients for him on Christmas Eve. Other Angle will be presenting the script of the concept comedy at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous, and will be showing the promos of “Just The Three of Us” and “The Father Figure.”

Other Angle will also be hosting the screenings of four films at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous– three of which will be world premieres: “In The Mood For Love,” Romane Bohringer and Pihlippe Rebbot’s autobiographical romantic comedy; Fabien Onteniente’s “All Inclusive” from the team behind the popular comedy franchise “Camping;” and Varante Soudjian’s crime comedy “Walter,” which is being pitched as a low-budget concept comedy in the vein of “Babysitting.” The fourth film set to screen at the market is Julien Leclercq’s action thriller “The Bouncer” with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

“In The Mood For Love” was released in late August in France and had a healthy run, selling over 200,000 admissions; and it also won the audience prize at the Angouleme festival. Other Angle recently sold the film to Sun Distribution Group in Latin America.

“All Inclusive,” meanwhile, has recently been sold to Belgium (Alternative Films), Switzerland (Praessens) and Middle East (Falcon). The film stars French comedy fixtures Franck Dubosc, François-Xavier Demaison, Maiwenn, Josiane Balasko and Thierry Lhermitte.

Summers, Dana – Color Editorial Cartoon – 20190117edsuc-a.tif

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:53 AM PST

SUMMERS; TV AD; GILLETTE; TOXIC MASCULINITY; #METOO ERA

‘Fortnite’ Season 7, Week 7 Challenges Guide

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:50 AM PST

Season 7’s week-seven challenges are live in “Fortnite,” and that means new ways to earn Battle Stars and experience. By collecting more Battle Stars and upping their tier, up to a season maximum of 100, players can earn limited-time rewards like cosmetic outfits and XP boosts. (Collecting 10 Battle Stars will unlock one additional tier.) Weekly challenges are available for anyone who purchases the Season 7 Battle Pass, which can be had for 950 in-game “V-Bucks,” or roughly $10.

Here’s what you have to do this week:

  • Visit all Expedition Outposts (7)
  • Use a Rift or Rift-to-Go in different matches (3)
  • Pistol Eliminations (Hard; 3)
  • Stage 1 of 5: Land at Salty Springs (1)
  • Search Chests at Loot Lake or Frosty Flights (7)
  • Destroy flying X-4 Stormwings (Hard; 1)
  • Stage 1 of 3: Damage opponents in a single match (Hard; 200 damage)

To find specific named locations, Expedition Outposts, the hidden Battle Star, and other key objectives, head to the spots marked on this handy all-in-one cheat sheet by Reddit user “thesquatingdog.” The cheat sheet also lets you know what to expect from each stage of the multi-step challenges. As always, remember to finish out the match you’re in once you’ve completed one or more challenges in order to be sure you get credit for them. Hard challenges will award players 10 Battle Stars; the rest will usually award five. Finish all of them to earn as many Battle Stars as possible — which will give you maximum value, in terms of loot, for your Battle Pass.

Find out what changes the game delivered with the latest patch here.

Maren Morris Reveals Dates for Massive Tour Supporting New Album, ‘Girl’

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:45 AM PST

Maren Morris today announced dates for her headlining to in support of her forthcoming sophomore album, “Girl.” The tour launches in Chicago on March 9 and features country artists Cassadee Pope and RaeLynn in support. Tickets for the general on-sale will begin Tuesday, January 22 at 10 a.m. local time. Citi is the official presale credit card for the tour; full dates appear below.

Later today Morris will release the title track from the album, also called “Girl” — which was written by Morris with producer Greg Kurstin as well as Sarah Aarons, who co-wrote “The Middle,” Morris’ smash 2018 single with Zedd — for which the release date has bot been announced but is expected in the first quarter of the year.

Head here for more on how Morris beat out a dozen other vocalists to become the lead singer of “The Middle.”

+Denotes Cassadee Pope as opener
*Denotes RaeLynn as opener

Date City/State/Country Venue
2/1/19 Riviera Maya, Mexico Brandi Carlile’s Girls Just Wanna Weekend
2/15/19 George Town, Cayman Islands KAABOO Festival
3/9/19 Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre+
3/13/19 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium+
3/15/19 Kansas City, MO Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland+
3/16/19 Oklahoma City, OK The Criterion+
3/18/19 Denver, CO Fillmore Auditorium+
3/19/19 Salt Lake City, UT The Union+
3/21/19 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom+
3/23/19 Seattle, WA Showbox SoDo+
3/26/19 San Francisco, CA The Masonic+
3/28/19 Anaheim, CA House of Blues Anaheim+
3/30/19 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern+
4/11/19 Atlanta, GA Coca-Cola Roxy*
4/12-14/19 Fort Lauderdale, FL Tortuga Festival
4/18/19 Houston, TX Revention Music Center*
4/19/19 Dallas, TX Bomb Factory*
4/20/19 New Braunfels, TX Whitewater Amphitheatre*
4/25/19 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE*
4/26/19 Philadelphia, PA The Fillmore*
4/27/19 Boston, MA House of Blues – Boston*
5/2/19 Washington, DC Anthem*
5/3/19 Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn Steel*
5/4/19 New York, NY Terminal 5*
5/9/19 Saint Louis, MO The Pageant*
5/10/19 Indianapolis, IN Egyptian Room at Old National Centre*
5/11/19 Detroit, MI The Fillmore Detroit*
5/17/19 Berlin, DE Columbia Theatre*
5/18/19 Cologne, DE Kantine*
5/19/19 Zurich, CH Mascotte*
5/21/19 Hamburg, DE Gruenspan*
5/22/19 Amsterdam, NL Paradiso*
5/24/19 Dublin, IE The Academy*
5/25/19 Leeds, UK O2 Academy Leeds*
5/26/19 Glasgow, UK O2 Academy Glasgow*
5/27/19 Manchester, UK Albert Hall*
5/29/19 Bristol, UK O2 Academy Bristol*
5/30/19 Birmingham, UK O2 Institute*
5/31/19 London, UK Royal Albert Hall*
6/15/19 Manchester, TN Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
6/21/19 Chicago, IL LakeShake Festival
7/19/19 Brooklyn, MI Faster Horses
7/20/19 Eau Claire, WI Country Jam USA
8/2/19 Merritt, BC Merritt Rockin’ River Festival
8/3/19 Duncan, BC Sunfest Country
8/8-11/19 Oro, ON Boots and Hearts Music Festival
8/16/19 Auckland, NZ The Logan Campbell Centre
8/17/19 Christchurch, NZ Town Hall
8/19/19 Brisbane, AU Brisbane City Hall
8/21/19 Melbourne, AU Forum Theatre
8/22/19 Sydney, AU Enmore Theatre
8/23/19 Canberra, AU UC Refectory
8/30/19 Grand Island, NE Nebraska State Fair

 

Leslie Moonves to Pursue Arbitration for His $120 Million Severance From CBS

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:09 AM PST

Former CBS Corp. chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves will pursue an arbitration claim to fight CBS for the $120 million severance that he was denied last month when the company’s board of directors determined he was fired for cause.

Moonves was ousted in September after multiple women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the longtime industry leader.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday, CBS disclosed that Moonves has informed the company of his plan to take the board’s decision to arbitration.

“On January 16, 2019, Mr. Moonves notified the Company of his election to demand binding arbitration with respect to this matter. The Company does not intend to comment further on this matter during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings,” the filing stated.

More to come

La nueva estrella política de Venezuela

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:06 AM PST

El corresponsal extranjero y columnista de The Miami Herald y El Nuevo Herald

Por primera vez en muchos meses, el dictador de Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, se encuentra a la defensiva: la oposición está adueñándose de la iniciativa política en medio de crecientes presiones internacionales por el restablecimiento de la democracia. Podría ser la última oportunidad de Venezuela de evitar convertirse en una nueva Cuba.

Y el presidente Trump, junto con los líderes de Brasil, Colombia y otras democracias latinoamericanas, podría ayudar a precipitar la salida de Maduro si declara a Juan Guaidó, el nuevo presidente de la Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela controlada por la oposición, como presidente provisional de Venezuela.

Eso podría desencadenar una serie de eventos potencialmente devastadores para el régimen de Maduro, como explicaré en un momento.

El nuevo impulso de la oposición venezolana comenzó el 10 de enero, cuando Maduro asumió el cargo por un segundo período de seis años, y la mayoría de las democracias latinoamericanas, Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea lo declararon “ilegítimo”.

Estos países argumentaron que dado que las elecciones del 20 de mayo de 2018 en Venezuela fueron una farsa, no podían reconocer como legítimo este segundo mandato de Maduro.

También dijeron, con razón, que la Asamblea Nacional es la única institución democrática que queda en Venezuela. La Asamblea Nacional fue elegida en 2015, y la oposición ganó abrumadoramente. Desde entonces, Maduro la ha despojado de casi todas sus funciones, pero no la ha cerrado formalmente.

Guaidó, de 35 años, invocó días atrás el artículo 233 de la Constitución de Venezuela para decir que Maduro es un “usurpador” de la presidencia desde el 10 de enero, e insinuó que se proclamará presidente encargado. Según el artículo 233, cuando la presidencia está vacante, el presidente de la Asamblea Nacional asume el cargo de presidente encargado para realizar una nueva elección.

Pero en el momento de escribir este artículo, Guaidó todavía no se ha proclamado formalmente presidente, y solo ha indicado tácitamente que lo hará.

Mientras que algunos opositores de línea dura le exigen que forme un gobierno paralelo de inmediato, Guaidó –y su mentor político, el líder opositor en prisión domiciliaria Leopoldo López– esperan entre otras cosas una manifestación masiva que la oposición ha convocado para el 23 de enero.

Mientras tanto, Brasil y Canadá ya han sugerido que consideran a Guaidó como el presidente legítimo. El gobierno de Trump aún no ha llegado tan lejos. El vicepresidente Mike Pence dijo que “felicitamos, reconocemos y apoyamos” la decisión de la Asamblea Nacional de declarar a Maduro como “usurpador”.

Entre la serie de medidas que podrían tomarse si Guaidó se proclama formalmente presidente encargado:

– Guaidó podría comenzar a nombrar embajadores en países clave que lo apoyan. La mayoría de estos países probablemente reconocerían a sus enviados y expulsarían a los embajadores de Maduro.

Es cierto que Maduro ordenaría el arresto inmediato de Guaidó. Pero Guaidó podría buscar refugio en una embajada amiga en Caracas y dirigir su gobierno desde allí. Maduro probablemente no se atrevería a tomar por asalto a –digamos– la Embajada de Brasil.

– Guaidó podría ordenar a los países que lo reconocieron que congelaran todos los activos del régimen de Maduro y sus transacciones financieras, paralizando al gobierno de Maduro. La Asamblea Nacional ya ha autorizado a Guaidó a dar ese paso.

– Guaidó también podría autorizar un corredor de ayuda humanitaria internacional a Venezuela, algo a lo que Maduro se ha opuesto firmemente.

Eso permitiría a las democracias occidentales enviar alimentos y medicamentos a las fronteras de Colombia y Brasil. El pueblo venezolano se enfurecería aún más contra Maduro si dicha ayuda permaneciera estancada por la negativa de Maduro a dejarla entrar al país.

Estas y otras posibles medidas podrían precipitar la salida de Maduro sin una intervención militar internacional, que –para que quede claro– sería una pésima opción, además de poco realista. Las medidas de Guaidó presionarían a los militares venezolanos a exigir una solución pacífica y constitucional.

En suma, si Trump y las principales democracias latinoamericanas reconocen formalmente a Guaidó, podrían ayudar a acelerar una salida constitucional en Venezuela. ¡No deberían esperar más!

Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Post Malone, More to Perform at Grammy Awards

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:05 AM PST

The Recording Academy announced the first group of artists to perform on this year’s 61st annual Grammy Awards: nominees Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Dan + Shay, Post Malone, Shawn Mendes, Janelle Monáe, and Kacey Musgraves.

The big show will be hosted by Alicia Keys and broadcast live on CBS at 8 p.m. ET 5 p.m. PT on Sunday, Feb. 10.

Cabello received two nominations for Best Pop Solo Performance (“Havana [Live]”) and Best Pop Vocal Album (Camila). Cardi B is nominated for Record of the Year (“I Like It”), Album Of The Year (Invasion Of Privacy), Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with Maroon 5 (“Girls Like You”), Best Rap Performance (“Be Careful”), and Best Rap Album (Invasion Of Privacy).

First-time nominees Dan + Shay are up for Best Country Duo/Group Performance (“Tequila”). First-time nominee Post Malone received four nominations, Record Of The Year (“Rockstar” with 21 Savage), Album Of The Year (Beerbongs & Bentleys), Best Pop Solo Performance (“Better Now”), and Best Rap/Sung Performance (“Rockstar”).

Mendes, nominated for Song Of The Year (“In My Blood”) and Best Pop Vocal Album (Shawn Mendes), will be making his debut on the Grammy stage, Two-time nominee Monáe is up for Album Of The Year (Dirty Computer) and Best Music Video (“Pynk”).

Musgraves is up for four awards: Album of the Year (Golden Hour), Best Country Solo Performance (“Butterflies”), Best Country Song (“Space Cowboy”), and Best Country Album (Golden Hour).

 

Playables and Double Fine Creation ‘Kids’ Chosen for Berlinale

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:00 AM PST

“Kids,” a short film from Playables and Double Fine Presents, has been officially selected to screen at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, announced Thursday via press release.

The Berlin International Film Festival, commonly called the Berlinale, is one of the largest film festivals in the world. “Kids” will screen in a Berlinale sidebar called Generation.

Generation is meant to showcase groundbreaking film for young audiences and “open-minded adults,” according to the Berlinale website. For 2019, 32 short films from creators originating from 22 countries have been chosen.

“Kids” is not only a short film, but a game crossover as well, as seen at E3 last year. It will have a mobile and PC release sometime in 2019. Michael Frei is the director and animator behind the project, and Mario von Rickenbach is the game designer. The two Swiss creatives previously created “Plug & Play” together.

Berlinale section head Maryanne Redpath commented on the selections for this year’s Berlinale Generation sidebar.

“The stars in this years’ program are self-determined beings, who are often challenged by conservative traditions and who choose to set off on new paths,” Redpath stated. “Often the creativity that they discover grows out of an aimless boredom – it seems adults have nearly forgotten the great productivity that this state can engender.”

As for whether or not this statement applies to “Kids,” it’s difficult to say. As seen in the teaser trailer and teased by the creators, “Kids” is an “experimental project about the psychology of the group.”

Check out the teaser trailer for “Kids” below.

Sony Invests in Geolocation Startup Used to Shoot ‘Ready Player One’

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:00 AM PST

Sony‘s venture capital arm, the Sony Innovation Fund, has invested in London-based What3words, a geolocation startup that aims to provide human-readable and easily shareable names for each and every location on the planet. What3words was previously used to share locations for the production of Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” and has also had cameos in multiple TV shows.

“We are trying to solve a huge global problem,” said What3words chief marketing officer Giles Rhys Jones. “The world is incredibly badly addressed.”

Company co-founder and CEO Chris Sheldrick first realized this when he was working as a manager in the music business, booking gigs at random locations, and occasionally sending bands to the wrong door. GPS, as precise as it is, simply isn’t easily to relay, argued Rhys Jones.

Variety’s Los Angeles office on What3words.

His company’s solution has been to divide the entire globe into 57 trillion squares measuring 10 x 10 feet each, and give each of these squares a unique name consisting of 3 words. Variety’s office in Los Angeles, for instance, can be found at “///secret.adjust.coats.” “It’s a hash tag for location,” said Rhys Jones.

One of the early adopters of the company’s location descriptors has been Hollywood. For instance, when Steven Spielberg shot “Ready Player One” back in 2016, the crew shared unique locations in Birmingham with What3words.

The “Ready Player One” crew used the service to easily share locations in Birmingham.

Of course, most people will simply use services like Google Maps to share their location with others. However, Rhys Jones argued that this has some downsides. For one thing, most of these services are closed platforms, and sharing location links across apps isn’t always easy.

What’s more, sharing locations this way simply doesn’t work with smart speakers and other voice interfaces, which increasingly are finding their ways into cars. “We are a pin on a map that you can say,” explained Rhys Jones.

Hollywood also seems to like the mystery of random words leading to precise locations. The CBS drama “NCIS: Los Angeles” used the service in an episode a year ago, in which detectives found the victim of a kidnapping based on a What3words address. And NBC’s “Blindspot” introduced the service to its audience last May, with characters hilariously tripping up on its name.

Sony and What3words didn’t disclose any details about the funding, but the startup said that it wants to use the new cash influx for a U.S. expansion, spearheaded by a new office in Silicon Valley. The company is also looking to bring What3words to new markets. Thus far, it has introduced 26 localized versions based on non-English words. And finally, it aims to double down on its use in the voice and automotive space, where it has already partnered with car makers like Mercedes Benz and Land Rover.

Amy Schumer returning to stage as pregnancy sickness eases

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:00 AM PST

Amy Schumer is set to return to the stage as her pregnancy sickness is “a little better”.

The Hollywood star has been struggling with hyperemesis gravidarum, which is more commonly known as extreme morning sickness, throughout her pregnancy and was forced to cancel a number of her stand-up shows in the US and Canada as a result, but she has now reschedule the dates in Toronto on January 31, Philadelphia on February 1 and Baltimore, February 2nd.

Amy – who is expecting her first child with husband Chris Fischer – tweeted on Wednesday (16.01.19): “I’m feeling a little better and wanted to make up these dates that aren’t too far from home. Can’t wait to see you guys! Shows coming up in Toronto 1/31, Philly 2/1, Baltimore 2/2. Get your tickets now! (sic)”

In November, Amy confessed she was finding her pregnancy to be “tough”.

The ‘I Feel Pretty’ star appealed for her fans to send her cute pictures to brighten up her day.

Amy shared a photo of her dog on Instagram and wrote: “The last few days have been tough. I’m grateful as hell and know it’s temporary but tough just the same.

“Please if you don’t mind. Post pics of your kids and tag me #amyschumer.

“My friends sending me pics and vids of their kids is making me feel so much better. Much love accepting dog photos too. (sic)”

The 37-year-old comedienne also revealed she’s been making a documentary about her pregnancy.

She continued: “Shots by @marcusrussellprice we are shooting a doc of me these past few months leading up to a special Im filming and you will see that I’m strugglin right now. But I’m so grateful and excited to be a mom. (sic)”

Meanwhile, she recently joked being pregnant is causing her to miss weed.

Appearing on ‘The Today Show’, Amy quipped: “I was thinking about how I miss weed.”

Kathy Bates shed 60lbs through ‘mindfulness’

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:00 AM PST

Kathy Bates feels like a “completely different” person after losing 60 pounds.

The ‘American Horror Story’ star has opened up about her weight loss journey and how her “little niece” taught her to simply train her mind to “push the plate away”.

Asked how she shed the pounds, she told Us Weekly magazine: “Mindfulness, just knowing when to push my plate away.”

She continued: “My niece told me this little, secret, I guess it’s no secret, it’s a biological thing, that at some point when you’re eating, you have this involuntary sigh and that’s really your brain and your stomach communicating that you’ve had enough.

“The trick is to pay attention to that and push your plate away. ‘It took a few years. I would say you have to be really patient … I don’t like the word willpower, but I like the word determination.”

The 70-year-old actress battled both ovarian and breast cancer in 2003 and 2012 respectively, and feels the healthiest she has ever been, but she wishes she had decided lead a fitter lifestyle “years ago”.

She said: “I have never been in such good health. I just had a physical. I’m doing great … I feel like a completely different person. I can move, I can walk. I just wish I had done it years ago.”

Kathy underwent a double mastectomy, and previously revealed she chose not to get reconstructive surgery as she doesn’t believe she needs to “pretend” that she has breasts.

She said: “I’ve joined the ranks of women who are going flat, as they say. I don’t have breasts – so why do I have to pretend like I do? That stuff isn’t important. I’m just grateful to have been born at a time when the research made it possible for me to survive. I feel so incredibly lucky to be alive.”

Chris Cornell’s wife leads star-studded tribute

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:00 AM PST

Chris Cornell’s wife Vicky led a star-studded tribute concert in memory of the late Soundgarden frontman on Wednesday night (16.01.19).

The likes of Miley Cyrus, Foo Fighters, Metallica, Jack Black, Brad Pitt and Muse’s Matt Bellamy were among those at the ‘I Am The Highway’ gig at the Forum in Los Angeles to honour the ‘Black Hole Sun’ hitmaker, following his tragic death in May 2017, aged 52.

Vicky said her late spouse would be “very proud” of the turn out and hailed him for paving the way for a whole new generation of musicians.

She said: “We all know how music can change us, but Chris did something more extraordinary – he changed music and paved the way for so many from Seattle to across the globe.

“And that legacy, and his influence, will live for generations to come. I am so proud that, along with his legacy, his philanthropic work continues to grow and flourish.

“Chris would be so very proud. Simply put, to me, and because of all of you, Chris lives on, a music immortal whose passion for helping others is more alive today than ever.”

Former members of his old bands – including Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog – performed on the night.

And the evening featured a touching performance by the ‘You Know My Name’ hitmaker’s 14-year-old daughter Toni, who did her own rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’, whilst standing in front of a picture of her late father.

Tenacious D frontman and Hollywood star Jack Black was joined on stage by Metallica’s James Hetfield.

Whilst Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl – whose band Nirvana pioneered the grunge sound in the 90s along with fellow Seattle band Soundgarden – did ‘Show Me How To Live’ with Audioslave.

Foo Fighters also dedicated ‘Everlong’ to Chris.

Before performing their hit song, emotional frontman Dave said: “I realise that with all this love, the one person that would have appreciated it the most can’t be here tonight.”

Soundgarden were joined by Taylor Momsen, Waybe Kramer and Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morrello for a group performance of ‘Loud Love’.

And Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Ryan Adams also took to the stage.

In October, a life-sized bronze sculpture of Chris was erected at Seattle’s MoPOP Museum.

A coroner ruled the late rock star’s death as suicide.

Michelle Pfeiffer struggles to find ‘exciting’ acting jobs

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:00 AM PST

Michelle Pfeiffer finds it increasingly difficult to find acting jobs she is “excited” by.

The 60-year-old Hollywood star took a five-year break from movies, returning with a slew of roles in 2017, and though she has two major gigs coming up, a second ‘Maleficent’ out next year, and her upcoming role in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ as Janet Van Dyne, there hasn’t been many other jobs that have taken her fancy as she would rather enjoy her other hobbies than take on work that doesn’t float her boat.

She told Vanity Fair: “I just look for [projects] I can get excited about. And honestly, that gets harder and harder because I also know what it’s like to not work so hard and enjoy my life, and I have other interests.

“But I also have always loved making movies and floating in and out of different characters . . . I love [how] with the film community, I feel really at home there, and I’m really incredibly lucky and grateful to have found my place in the world.”

And it seems she has felt that way ever since she returned to work two years ago, as she said at the time she believed she is “un-hireable” because she’s “picky” about her roles.

The ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ star also admitted she’d always make sure her work was suitable for the schedule of her two children – Claudia, 25, and John, 24, whom she has with husband David E. Kelley – and that it had an impact on her career.

She said: “I’ve never lost my love for acting. I feel really at home on the movie set. I’m a more balanced person honestly when I’m working.

“But I was pretty careful about where I shot, how long I was away, whether or not it worked out with the kids’ schedule. And I got so picky that I was un-hireable. And then … I don’t know, time just went on.”

Cardi B Sounds Off on Government Shutdown: ‘B–h, I’m Scared!’

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 06:38 AM PST

The latest memorable broadside on the ongoing government shutdown came from an unexpected source late Wednesday night: R-rated rapper Cardi B, who took to her natural element — Instagram — to deliver a minute-long, f-bomb-filled rant against President Trump and the Republican members of Congress prolonging the shutdown.

“Hey, y’all. I just wanna remind you because it’s been a bit over three weeks, OK? It’s been a little bit over three weeks. Trump is now ordering, as in summonsing, federal government workers to go back to work without getting paid. Now I don’t wanna hear y’all motherf–ers talking about, ‘Oh, but Obama shut down the government for 17 days.’ Yeah, b–h! For health care! So your grandma could check her blood pressure [and females can go to] the gynecologist with no f–ing problem. Now I know a lot of y’all don’t care because y’all don’t work for the government, or y’all probably don’t even have a job, but this s– is really f–ing serious, bro. This s– is crazy. Like, our country is in a hellhole right now, all for a f–ing wall. We really need to take csome action, I feel like we need to take some action. I don’t know what type of action, b—, because this is not what I do. But b—, I’m scared. This is crazy. I really feed bad for these people who that have to go back to work and not get paid.”

Instagram Photo

In a surreally comic exchange, Democratic senators senators took took to Twitter to debate whether or not to retweet Cardi’s rant. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii tweeted he was pondering whether to retweet it. “Omg, I had the same argument with myself 30 minutes ago!” responded Sen. Chris Murphy. Schatz fired back, “Ok you do it. And say retweets are not endorsements, especially the language, and I will retweet.” Chuck Schumer eventually weighed in, tweeting, “Guys, I’m still holding my breath. Are you gonna RT Cardi B or not?”

At presstime, Schumer was still holding his breath.

 

Roland Joffe to Direct Mobster Drama ‘The Legitimate Wiseguy’

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 06:28 AM PST

Roland Joffe will direct the independent mobster drama “The Legitimate Wiseguy,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Joffe received Academy Award nominations for best director for “The Killing Fields” and “The Mission,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986. He also helmed “The Scarlet Letter,” “The Forgiven,” “City of Joy,” “Time Traveller,” and “There Be Dragons.”

“The Legitimate Wiseguy” is based on the true coming-of-age story of veteran writer/producer Nicholas Celozzi, and centers on his relationship with Tony Spilotro, a mob enforcer who was the inspiration behind Joe Pesci’s character of Nicholas “Nicky” Santoro in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film “Casino.” Spilotro was murdered in 1986.

“Though Tony and I had a father-son relationship, I was playing checkers while he was playing chess,” Celozzi said. “He was always many moves ahead of me.”

Monaco Films is founded by Celozzi and partner Michael Sportelli, who will co-produce “The Legitimate Wiseguy” with financier/developer John Vojtech. The movie will be shot in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Celozzi is a Chicago native and the grandnephew of Chicago crime boss Sam Giancana. He produced the documentary “Momo: The Sam Giancana Story” and “Kickboxer: Vengeance,” and exec produced “Kickboxer: Retaliation.”

Joffe is repped by Gersh and Craig Baumgarten of Zero Gravity Management.

GameStop Might Re-Invest in Core Gaming after $700 Million Spring Mobile Sale

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 06:00 AM PST

GameStop will use proceeds from the recent $700 million sale of its Spring Mobile business to reduce outstanding debt, repurchase shares, or re-invest in the core gaming and collectibles business. The company announced the completion of the sale for the mobile company, which owns and operates 1,289 AT&T wireless stores, on Wednesday.

Spring Mobile was purchased by Prime Communications.

“We are pleased to successfully complete this transaction and begin 2019 with an increased focus on the video game industry and the rapidly-growing collectibles space. These are areas where we are well positioned to leverage the GameStop brand and capitalize on our competitive position,” said Dan DeMatteo, executive chairman of GameStop’s board of directors.

GameStop, along with its board of directors and outside financial advisors will continue to conduct an ongoing review of “strategic and financial” alternatives to boost shareholder value. This review will also determine exactly how proceeds from the sale will be used.

The company first entered into a definitive agreement to sell off the Spring Mobile business in November 2018. Despite being the largest brick-and-mortar games retailer in the U.S., the company has struggled with its relevance in an era of digital game sales and popular online retailers like Amazon which offers more competitive pricing and direct shipment to consumers.

The Retreat of African Democracy

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 05:48 AM PST

In the decade following the Cold War, Africa saw many democratic success stories. In 1991, Benin and Zambia were the first former dictatorships to hold multiparty elections after the fall of the Soviet Union. In both countries, the opposition triumhed. South Africa replaced apartheid with majority rule in 1994, and soon after that, Nelson Mandela was elected president. Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi also held elections and saw power change hands. All told, by the middle of the first decade of this century, every major peaceful state in Africa except Eritrea and Swaziland, the continent’s last absolute monarchy, was, at least in principle, committed to holding competitive elections.

But in recent years, Africa’s political trajectory has begun moving in the opposite direction. In Tanzania, President John Magufuli has clamped down on the opposition and censored the media. His Zambian counterpart, President Edgar Lungu, recently arrested the main opposition leader on trumped-up charges of treason and is seeking to extend his stay in power to a third term. This reflects a broader trend. According to Freedom House, a think tank, just 11 percent of the continent is politically “free,” and theaverage level of democracy, understood as respect for political rights and civil liberties, fell in each of the last 14 years. The Ibrahim Index of African Governance shows that democratic progress lags far behind citizens’ expectations. The vast majority of Africans want to live in a democracy, but the proportion who believe they actually do falls almost every year.

Many of the woes of Africa’s developing democracies are not new, but old authoritarians are learning new tricks. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), President Joseph Kabila may have become the first leader on the continent to preserve his influence by rigging the presidential election in favor of an oppositioncandidate, Felix Tshisekedi. Forced to step down because ofconstitutional termlimits, and unable to anointhis chosen successor thanksto his unpopularity, Kabila had tomove to Plan B: manipulate the polls to ensure the victory of an opposition leader he hopes will be weak and pliant, empowering him to govern from the shadows. 

Elsewhere, democracy is threatened by sophisticated politicians who subvert the rule of law for their own interests; the corrupting influence of oil, gas, and minerals; growing debt burdens; spreadingChinese influence; and autocrats who promise economic success in exchange for political repression. Underlying them all are Western indifference and, sometimes, hostility. 

RULE BY LAW

A good test for the health of a democracy, in Africa and elsewhere, is whether leaders leave office when the law says their time is up. So far, term limits in Africa have been respected more times than they have been disregarded. But a growing number of leaders-and their enablers-have removed such restrictions or given themselves longer terms through “constitutional coups,” which rewrite the rule books to effectively make the incumbent president for life. Since 2000, at least 30 African presidents have tried to extend their rule, and 18 of them have succeeded. In 2018 alone, four presidents made such attempts, in Burundi, Uganda, Sudan, and Togo.

Killing off term limits is part of a worrying trend. Many African leaders, afraid of an international backlash if they openly defy their laws, have taken to changing, rather than breaking, them. International donors are often quick to censure governments that flout the rules but far slower to cut off relations with those that change the law through due process, even if they are brazenly rigging the system in their favor. This helps explain Kabila’s innovative strategy in the DRC; knowing that his own people and the international community expected a transfer of power, he is trying to retain control by faking one.

Unsurprisingly, countries without term limits tend to be more unstable than those with them. If politicians don’t respect term limits, the rule of law loses its meaning and citizens’ faith in the democratic process erodes. According to a recent Afrobarometer survey covering 36 countries, just 40 percent of Africans believe that their last elections were “free and fair.” If citizens are disillusioned with the electoral process, deliberately shut out of politics, or unable to speak and protest freely, they will grow apathetic and frustrated. The proportion of citizens saying that democracy is the best political system for their country increased from 63 percent in 2003 to 75 percent in 2013, but by 2018, it had fallen back to 68 percent. That should be a wake-up call for democracy’s advocates. African leaders and their supporters should worry, too. After all, research shows that in the long term, democracy contributes to good governance, human development, and economic growth.

 

The legal chicanery goes beyond term limits. Africa’s counterfeit democrats have passed bills through pliant legislatures to enable them to restrict freedom of speech and suppress the opposition. Inspired by autocratic countries such as China, Russia, and, in some instances, North Korea, leaders often justify these restrictions under the dubious guises of maintaining public order and combating terrorism and “fake news.” Authoritarian politicians in Tanzania and Uganda, for example, no longer have to rely primarily on baton-wielding security forces to muzzle dissent. This rule-by-law approach allows leaders to manipulate the legal process for their own purposes while avoiding the bad press that often results from state violence. 

TO THE VICTOR, THE SPOILS

Almost everywhere, oil and democracy mix about as well as oil and water. Valuable natural resources insulate governments from domestic and international pressure to reform and lead to high levels of corruption and more intense political-but not necessarily democratic-competition, since holding power can generate such high returns. In Africa, just one petrostate, Ghana, is also a full democracy, and it discovered oil only after a stable and competitive political system had been firmly established. Every other major African oil producer, with the possible exception of Nigeria, holds deeply problematic elections. 

This correlation is particularly troubling because several African countries have recently discovered oil and natural gas reserves. Uganda expects its first oil to flow in 2021. Kenya is pledgingto get there even sooner. Tanzania is finalizing deals to exploit one of the biggest gas finds in recent years. And Mozambique hopes to begin construction on a new liquefied natural gas export plant in 2019, making use of the huge deposits prospectors found in 2010. Although natural resources could conceivably empower these governments and provide for their citizens, they are more likely to further entrench authoritarian and kleptocratic rule.

African democracies face more economic problems than abundant oil and gas. Growing national debts have left governments vulnerable and prompted spending cuts that threaten to destabilize democratic systems, including success stories such as Ghana. Although the role of China is often overstated-it holds only 20 percent of African debt-the influence of nondemocratic foreign powers is growing. In Djibouti, Beijing has converted its vast loans into political influence and pressured the government into allowing it to build an enormous military base, China’s first in Africa. 

China claims that it does not attach strings to foreign aid and state loans, but using its influence to prop up deeply unpopular authoritarian governments is an intervention, whatever its leaders claim to the contrary. That meddling could yet prompt a backlash across Africa. One is already under way in Zambia, where rumors that the country is about to hand over prize assets such as the national electricity supplier because it can no longer fulfill debt repayments have led to protests and rising anti-Chinese sentiment. But it may already be too late: public demonstrations will struggle to reshape the deeply unequal relationship that already exists between a growing number of African governments and China.

STRONGMEN

Ideas can play as important a role as policies in undermining democracy. The most dangerous idea for democracy today is the misguided belief in the “developmental autocrat”-a leader who will sacrifice human rights to spur economic growth. All the rage in the 1970s, this idea has recently experienced a revival among African leaders and a number of media commentators and policy advisers, driven by the apparent economic success of authoritarian Rwanda. Under President Paul Kagame, the country’s highly repressive political system has delivered seemingly impressive economic results, with growth rates estimated to be around eight percent from 2001 to 2013 (although many academics and critics of the regime dispute these figures).

In Kenya, a close ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s has pointed to Kagame’s success to justify weakening opposition parties. And in Zimbabwe, the new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is clearly fashioning himself in Kagame’s image, resulting in the brutal repression of protests just this week. But copying Kagame makes for poor economics and worse politics. Kagame’s perceived economic successes are based on tight control over a centralized system of patronage that does not exist-and would be extremely difficult to construct-in the vast majority of African states. Moreover, Rwanda has achieved its so-called progress on the back of abuses that, if they carry on unchecked, will very likely destabilize the political system and undermine the country’s economic gains.

However incompetent they prove in the long run, developmental autocrats are also bad news for political freedom and human rights in the short term. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the past three years have set annual records for the numbers of journalists jailed worldwide, and at least five journalists were killed in Africa in 2018 alone. The top jailers in Africa last year were all authoritarian states: Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, and Rwanda. 

AMERICA FIRST, AFRICA LAST

On top of their internal problems, African democracies occupy a less friendly world than they did a few years ago. The Trump administration has made no secret of its disdain for the democratic ideals that anchor the modern international system. Trump’s transactional worldview has pushed democracy promotion off the U.S. government’s list of priorities. His administration’s Africa policy, unveiled in December, does not contain a single mention of democracy, free and fair elections, political and civil rights, or civil society. The position of assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor-the United States’ highest human rights official-remains vacant. The State Department’s top Africa post remained unfilled for 15 months after Trump took office, until June 2018, when the Senate confirmed Tibor Nagy, a well-respected veteran of the U.S. diplomatic corps.

Little wonder, then, that some of Africa’s longest-ruling despots have expressed an affinity for Trump. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who busies himself charging his political opponents with treason and then torturing them, says he “loves” Trump. The decline in U.S. funding for pro-democracy movements in Africa, combined with U.S. diplomatic support for bloody autocrats, including Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi-a “fantastic guy” in Trump’s estimation-does not bode well for the continent’s brave but battered democratic activists.  

THE YEAR AHEAD

There are some bright democratic spots on the African horizon. Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has launched the most radical political liberalization in the country’s history. Over the next year, South Africa should make progress against corruption as the ruling African National Congress recovers from the Zuma years. Across the continent, young political leaders, such as Robert Kyagulanyi in Uganda, have emerged with the potential to transform their countries. In some places, civil society and opposition leaders will manage to halt the process of democratic decline. But these high points are more likely to prove the exception than the rule.

In February, Nigeria will hold elections in which President Muhammadu Buhari will attempt to defy illness, waning popular support, and the fragmentation of his party to stay in power. Expect fireworks. Whoever wins, the election will probably be close, triggering accusations of vote rigging. Mauritanian President Ould Abdel Aziz has promised not to run in this year’s presidential election, but few expect the contest to be a credible one, since the government has already jailed high-profile opposition leaders, including the renowned antislavery activist Biram Dah Abeid, on trumped-up charges. The fallout from the DRC’s flawed election is also likely to loom over the continent for the rest of the year. There is a real danger that instead of standing up for democracy, foreign countries will allow the result to stand. Already, the Southern African Development Community has proposed a power-sharing arrangement that would allow Tshisekedi to retain the presidency, riding roughshod over the likely will of the people. The evidence from similar deals in Kenya and Zimbabwe in 2008 is that such quiet diplomacy benefits only those who rigged the elections-and the people who get the best positions-while stunting the growth of a genuinely independent opposition. A level playing field is vital for democracy to flourish. In many countries across Africa, it is alarmingly tilted. 

Of course, sham elections are nothing new in Africa, but for a while things were going in the right direction. Today, however, democracy is in danger of collapsing in places where it has until recently been fairly secure. Senegal, long one of Africa’s most free and open societies, will hold a presidential election this year amid growing government repression of the opposition. The political temperature is also rising in Malawi, where in May, the 78-year-old president will face both a former head of state and his current vice president, who broke ranks with the ruling party over unresolved corruption and governance-related issues. African democracy is in for a bumpy 2019. The only thing necessary for authoritarianism to triumph over democracy is for people of conscience-in Africa and worldwide-to do nothing about it. 

This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.

Berlin Adds ‘Vice,’ New Films by Zhang Yimou and Andre Techine to Official Lineup

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 05:26 AM PST

Five new titles, including the latest films from Zhang Yimou and Andre Techine, have joined the competition program at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. Adam McKay’s “Vice” will screen out of competition.

Vice” has already won a Golden Globe for star Christian Bale’s portrayal of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and picked up six BAFTA nominations last week, including for Bale, supporting actor Sam Rockwell and supporting actress Amy Adams. The festival screening will mark its German premiere.

The new additions to the main competition lineup include the world premieres of Zhang’s “One Second” and Nadav Lapid’s “Synonyms.” Techine’s “Farewell to the Night,” which stars Catherine Deneuve, also receives its world premiere at the festival but will play out of competition. Alan Elliott’s documentary “Amazing Grace” was also newly announced to screen out of competition, receiving its European premiere at the festival.

Berlin announced the additions Thursday, finalizing its Competition and Berlinale Special sections for the festival’s 69th edition in February. The competition section features 23 titles, with 17 competing for the Golden Bear. Seven of the 17 competing titles were directed by female filmmakers, including Lone Scherfig’s “The Kindness of Strangers,” which will open the festival on Feb. 7.

As well as Zhang, Lapid and Scherfig’s films the full line-up competing for the Golden Bear also includes: Marie Kreutzer’s “The Ground Beneath My Feet”; Wang Xiaoshuai’s “So Long, My Son”; Isabel Coixet’s “Elisa & Marcela”; Fatih Akin’s “The Golden Glove”; Teona Strugar Mitevska’s “God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya”; Francois Ozon’s “By the Grace of God”; Angela Schanelec’s “I Was at Home, But”; Emin Alper’s “A Tale of Three Sisters”; Agnieszka Holland’s “Mr. Jones”; Wang Quan’an’s “Ondog”; Claudio Giovannesi’s “Piranhas”; Denis Cote’s “Ghost Town Anthology”; Nora Fingscheidt’s “System Crasher”; and Hans Petter Moland’s “Out Stealing Horses.”

Wagner Moura’s “Marighella,” Agnes Varda’s documentary “Varda by Agnes,” and Yuval Adler’s “The Operative” all receive out of competition screenings alongside “Vice,” “Farewell to the Night,” and “Amazing Grace.”

Three titles have been added to the Berlinale Special program, including the world premieres of new documentaries by Jean Michel Vecchiet (“Peter Lindbergh – Women Stories”) and Cordula Kablitz-Post (“You Only Live Once – Die Toten Hosen On Tour”). Also added to the section is Ritesh Batra’s “Photograph,” which receives its European premiere in Berlin.

The 69th Berlin Film Festival runs Feb. 7-17.

Picture Tree Adds ‘Cold Feet’ to Berlin Market Lineup (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 05:10 AM PST

Picture Tree Intl. has added German romantic comedy “Cold Feet” (Kalte Füsse) to its market lineup at the Berlin Film Festival, where the sales agent will screen the film as a market premiere. Sony Pictures released the pic, directed Wolfgang Groos, in Germany on Thursday, and it garnered 100,000 admissions over its opening weekend.

“Cold Feet,” set in a snow-covered landscape, tells the story of petty criminal Denis, who breaks into the winter cottage of rich business man and stroke patient Raimund. Denis is mistaken for the new nurse by Raimund’s granddaughter Charlotte, a police-academy trainee. In order not to get busted Denis decides to play along. Then a snowstorm hits and a game of cat and mouse ensues in the snowbound house.

Denis is played by Emilio Sakraya, who previously appeared in “Heilstätten” and the “Bibi & Tina” movie franchise; Raimund is played by Heiner Lauterbach, whose credits include “The Collini Case” and “Welcome to Germany”; and Charlotte is played by Sonja Gerhardt, who appeared in “Ku’damm 56,” “Ku’damm 59” and “Deutschland 86.”

Groos is best known in Germany for his adventure movies for kids and teens. In 2011 he directed “The Crocodiles All for One,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at Stockholm Film Festival Junior, followed by “Vampire Sisters” in 2012, based on the same-titled novel by Franziska Gehm. The film won the Grand Jury Prize of Stockholm Film Festival as well as the Young People’s Jury Award at the TIFF Kids Intl. Film Festival in 2013.

“Cold Feet” is produced by Uli Putz and Jakob Claussen at Claussen+Putz Filmproduktion, and coproduced by Deutsche Columbia Pictures Film Produktion and Lotus-Film.

Picture Tree‘s slate at Berlin also includes “That Boy Needs Fresh Air” by Oscar winner Caroline Link; Dutch family movie “My Extraordinary Summer With Tess,” which will premiere in the Generation KPlus section; and Berlinale main competition contender “The Ground Beneath My Feet” by Marie Kreuzter.

‘Upside’ Director Neil Burger Sets Sci-Fi ‘Voyagers’ as Next Project

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 04:53 AM PST

The Upside” director Neil Burger is set to direct sci-fi thriller “Voyagers” as his next project. The film will be fully financed and co-produced by Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios, and produced by Burger’s Nota Bene Productions and Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road Films. AGC also handles international sales on the new film.

Written and directed by Burger, “Voyagers” tells the story of 30 children sent into space on a multi-generational mission to reach and populate a newly discovered planet. After the adult captain is mysteriously killed, the young crew descends into chaos, reverting to a primitive, tribal state, giving in to their most feral and animal desires.

Burger will produce alongside Iwanyk and Brendon Boyea for Thunder Road. Ford and Greg Shapiro, AGC’s president of film, will serve as executive producers.

The film marks Burger’s first screenwriting credit since 2008’s “The Lucky Ones.” His past directing credits also include his 2006 breakout film “The Illusionist,” which he also wrote; 2011’s “Limitless”; and the first film in Summit Entertainment’s “Divergent” YA franchise.

Burger is coming off “The Upside,” an English-language remake of the record-breaking 2011 French hit “Intouchables,” which scored a box office surprise last weekend when it knocked “Aquaman” off the top of the domestic chart. The film, which stars Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston and Nicole Kidman, scored a $20.4 million opening to give distributor STX Entertainment its first domestic No. 1.

“Voyagers” is expected to begin production this spring.

Worried You’re Never Going to Be Able to Retire?

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 04:50 AM PST

Some people spend more time thinking about retirement than others, but most everyone has at least a few ideas about what their life will be like when they don’t have to work anymore.

Unfortunately for many, hoping and dreaming is about as far as they get in the planning process. They don’t know whether they can really achieve their goals because they haven’t taken the steps necessary to prepare for them.

SEE ALSO: 15 Reasons You’ll Go Broke in Retirement

If that sounds like you, and you’re anywhere close to the age you think you’d like to be when you retire, let me warn you: Your retirement reality could be far different from the lifestyle you’ve imagined. And if it is, it likely will be because you ignored one or more of these five basic threats:

Threat No. 1: Unclear plans.

This threat is especially difficult for married couples transitioning to retirement. It’s amazing how far apart two people who’ve lived together for years can be when it comes to envisioning what they want and understanding how they’ll get it.

How to tackle it: Put together an income plan and an estimated budget.

  • Start by talking about when each of you would like to retire and why — and be specific. Perhaps one of you loves your job or still has career goals, and the other doesn’t. Maybe one of you is older. Don’t assume you know what your spouse wants to do.
  • Discuss what life will look like every day. What will you do to stay busy? What will you do for fun? What are the “big” things you have in mind: a trip to Europe, a second home, joining a golf or tennis club?
  • Then consider how much that will cost and how you’ll pay for it. You’ll need to budget for day-to-day expenses (housing, utilities, food) and all those extras if you really want them to happen. Estimate how much guaranteed income you’ll have with Social Security benefits and possibly pensions. And if there’s a gap between your costs and those steady income streams, think about how you’ll fill it — by working longer, downsizing your dreams or by carefully managing the assets in your investment portfolio.

Threat No. 2: Medical costs.

A lot of soon-to-be retirees assume Medicare will take care of all their future health care costs, but Medicare and Medicare supplement plans have limits. According to Fidelity Investments’ 16th annual retiree health care cost estimate, a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2018 will need $280,000 to cover health care expenses throughout retirement — and that doesn’t include the cost of long-term care. Without a plan to cover unexpected bills, you might end up pulling the money from your investment accounts, a move that can have dire consequences for your financial future.

How to tackle it: Set aside a war chest for major medical bills.

  • If you plan to retire early, think about how you’ll pay your medical bills and insurance premiums before Medicare kicks in. Some possibilities to consider could include individual policies, COBRA coverage and a spouse’s employer’s plan.
  • When you’re eligible for Medicare, carefully choose the best coverage for you and your spouse.
  • Set aside a protected “war chest” that will help pay for unexpected expenses, no matter what happens to your health (or U.S. health care laws). Typically, it is best practice to have a minimum of two times your annual retirement income in this account. However, based upon your personal medical history and current condition, you may want to save more, up to $280,000, as mentioned above.

Threat No. 3: Investing too conservatively.

Pre-retirees and retirees are right to worry about market risk when they don’t have as much recovery time. But some go too far when transitioning to the protection phase of investing, and they end up putting their entire portfolio into short-term or guaranteed investments earning 1% or 2%.

How to tackle it: Divide the money inside your portfolio into three “buckets” to get a blended rate of return.

  • The first bucket is for funds you’ll need in the near future, 12-24 months. Look for financial products with little or no stock market risk. This bucket will earn a money market rate of return. In today’s environment, you should be able to expect 1.85%-2.10%.
  • The second bucket contains funds meant for needs a little further down the road, three to six years, so you aren’t going to touch it for a few years. You may have very low-risk products, such as short-term bonds, laddered CDs and TIPS. But you also should have some conservative growth assets with the idea of marginally increasing your rate of return. Examples of those could include high dividend paying stocks, growth and income stock mutual funds and preferred stock.
  • The third bucket is for money you’ll need much later, six years or more, so you’ll have growth-oriented assets in there. These typically would include growth stocks, growth mutual funds and international mutual funds. If the markets move down and these investments lose money, you’ll have time to recover because the funds are earmarked for use seven to 30 years into your retirement.

See Also: How to Beat the 2 Top Risks Retirees Face

Threat No. 4: Not knowing how much risk is in your portfolio.

People tell me all the time that they’re “conservative” investors. They think their portfolio accurately reflects their concern about market volatility and their time horizon. But when we analyze what they actually have, we find that it’s not the case at all. For many, if they’d had their current portfolio in 2008, they would have down over 50%. That’s a devastating loss for someone who’s near or in retirement.

How to tackle it: Get a detailed analysis of your portfolio.

  • “Conservative” is a subjective term. An analysis can show you specifics.
  • A long-running bull market can throw your asset allocation out of whack. Some rebalancing could be in order. When you rebalance, make sure that you consider the goal or purpose of the investment portfolio. Consider your goals, time horizons, and tolerance for risk. Often times you will need to sell some of your stock holdings and reposition the proceeds into lower-risk investments, such as bonds, CDs and cash.
  • Once your portfolio is adjusted for your needs, you may experience some envy when friends who might have less-conservative portfolios brag about their returns. Remember, you’re in this for the long haul.

Threat No. 5: Inflation.

Often, when people build their retirement plan, they set and forget their budget, not recognizing that prices fluctuate over time — as do the interest rates on the investments retirees typically prefer. So, inflation can quietly and slowly eat away at a nest egg.

How to tackle it: Adjust your investments and your withdrawals.

  • Don’t invest too conservatively. Determine how much growth you’ll need to accomplish your income goals. Your income need will increase over time, due to the cost of goods increasing. This is called inflation. Over the last 30 years, the average inflation rate has been 2.54%. That means that the amount of income you need to maintain the same standard of living needs to increase by 2.5% every year. Set aside some assets to do that work.
  • Many people rely upon an old rule of thumb called the 4% rule. This rule states that if you only withdrawal 4% of your account balance per year, that you will never run out of money. This rule does not take into account extreme market decreases, higher than normal inflation, or personal spending decisions. Instead, a retiree should focus on their projected monthly income needs. Look into the next three years and project how much income you need each month to meet your monthly income needs, your extra fun things that you wish to do, and any larger expense items that will need to pe purchased. By doing so, you will be able to balance out your annual income to stay ahead of inflation.

Sadly, I’ve seen retirement plans implode — or darn near it — when people ignored these common threats. Don’t let that happen to you. The next time you start daydreaming about retirement, grab your spouse and start putting your thoughts down on paper. Then get to work on making those dreams come true.

See Also: If You Want to Retire Comfortably, It Isn’t All About Investing

Kim Franke-Folstad contributed to this article.

Securities offered only by duly registered individuals through Madison Avenue Securities LLC (MAS), member of FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through AE Wealth Management LLC (AEWM), a Registered Investment Adviser. MAS and Creekmur Wealth Advisors are not affiliated entities. AEWM and Creekmur Wealth Advisors are not affiliated entities. Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. Any references to protection benefits, safety, lifetime income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or investment products. Insurance and annuity product guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. 637538

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M-Appeal Acquires Berlin Panorama Title ‘Greta’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 04:43 AM PST

M-Appeal has acquired world sales rights to “Greta,” the feature debut of Brazil’s Armando Praça which will world premiere in this year’s Berlinale Panorama section.

The Berlin-based film industry has also dropped an international trailer, to which Variety has had exclusive access.

Produced by Carnaval Filmes, whose credit include major titles by Marcelo Gomes, one of Brazil’s most prominent directors (“The Man of The Crowd”, “I Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You”, “Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures”), “Greta” turns on Pedro, a 70-year-old gay hospital nurse. The film begins with his attempting to care for his best friend, Daniela, a transgender cabaret singer who refuses further treatment for terminal kidney failure.

Pedro vacates a hospital bed for Daniela by helping Jean, wounded and under arrest for manslaughter, to escape from hospital arrest. Hiding Jean in his apartment, Pedro begins an unlikely affair with the much younger man.

“Greta” begins with Pedro wiping off his mascara as he climbs into an ambulance to accompany Daniela to hospital. His bonding – especially Jean’s affection and respect for him, helps Pedro accept his gay self and female persona – Greta Garbo.

“Greta” depicts a queer, inter-generational Brazil, and a little filmed marginalized world of cabarets and sex saunas of Fortaleza, in North-East Brazil.

A tardy coming of age drama, “Greta” also turns on solitude. “I am interested in looking at these marginalized characters with affection, foregrounding one of the great questions for humanity: Loneliness,” director Praca said.

He added: “No matter what we do, how many people we meet in life, nothing changes the fact that being alive will always be a solitary experience.”

But Pedro’s relationship with Jean fortifies his ability to bear physical solitude.

 

“Greta” stars veteran comedy actor Marco Nanini, a well-known face of Brazilian theatre, television and cinema. Questioning binary thinking, M-Appeal proudly noted in a statement Thursday, Praça cast Denise Weinberg, a cis-gender actress, as Daniela and trans actress Gretta Sttar to portray Meire, a cis-gender woman.

Also written by Praça, “Greta” marks M-Appeal’s fourth title from a young Brazilian director in the last two years. It follows on “Hard Paint,” winner last year of a Berlinale Teddy Award for Best Queer Feature Film and a CICAE Prize, and “Body Electric,” honored with best feature film direction at the 2018 Zinegoak Bilbao Intl. LGBT Film Festival.

A third title, a horror movie packing a searing, if often comic, put-down of Brazil’s political elite, “The Cannibal Club” won best feature and Director at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival last year.

“The Cannibal Club” was also a large sales hit, closing North America, Germany, Austria, the U.K., Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Eastern Europe, a sign of a resilient market for LGBT cinema, especially when charged with both genre beats and more arthouse-style social commentary.

 

Netflix and Amazon on Different Sides Over Self Censorship in India

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 04:38 AM PST

Leading streaming video platforms have signed an agreement to self-regulate content in the booming Indian market. Signatories include Netflix, Hotstar, Sony Liv, Eros Now, Arre, Alt Balaji and Voot have signed an agreement to self-regulate content for the booming Indian market. But Amazon and Facebook are among those OTT companies which so far have not.

India‘s Internet and Mobile Association of India created a ‘Code Of Best Practices For Online Curated Content Providers’ that the streamers have signed. Amazon Prime Video argues that existing Indian laws are adequate to deal with content. The Indian OTT market is expected to grow to a value of $5 billion by 2023, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group.

The agreement states that the signatories will not exhibit content that is disrespectful of the Indian national flag and emblem; representations of children engaged in real or simulated sexual activities; content that outrages religious sentiments; content that promotes or encourages terrorism and other forms of violence against India; and banned content.

OTT content does not currently fall under the purview of India’s often draconian censorship rules, which administered by the country’s Central Board of Film Certification. There have been rumors that the country’s Information and Broadcasting ministry was considering subjecting OTT content to the same rules.

Content regulation is already fraught in a country where religious feelings run high and every minority has access to the courts. The release plans of dozens of films have been affected by court cases and attempted injunctions. Last year the theatrical release of historical epic Padmavati was delayed by protesters who anticipated that it would hurt their feelings. While the release went ahead some weeks later, it was forced to change its title to “became “Padmaavat.” Currently, Netflix is facing a lawsuit over the portrayal of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in hit 2018 Original “Sacred Games.”

 

 

After Brexit: Global Britain Plots Course to Return to the Far East

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 04:16 AM PST

As the United Kingdom prepares to exit the European Union (EU) in March, Prime Minister Theresa May and her senior ministers have been long-planning a global role for the UK that includes the Far East.

Post-Brexit

In 2016, Prime Minister May and then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson floated the idea  of a Global Britain in the post-Brexit era. Global Britain envisages a reinvigorated role for the UK in the Indo-Pacific, a term that was appropriated from the Trump Administration by British Secretaries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Trade to align the UK more closely with the United States.

In 2017, the UK’s Ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darrock , stated that the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, would visit the Indo-Pacific to “protect freedom of navigation and keep sea routes and air routes open.” In a speech in Australia that year Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the Royal Navy would send the HMS Queen Elizabeth and its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales to the South China Sea in 2020. Late the next year, the Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord also stated that the HMS Queen Elizabeth would deploy to the region in the 2020s.

British officials argue that the UK’s foreign policy has been tied too narrowly and for too long to Europe. Britain’s exit from the EU provides a new opportunity to think globally as the UK goes it alone. Global Britain aims to promote economic and defense linkages with what some pundits call the coalition of Asia’s maritime democracies – Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

On December 30 last year, Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Defence, said in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph:

This [Brexit] is our biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War, when we can recast ourselves in a different way, we can actually play the role on the world stage that the world expects us to play.  

For so long – literally for decades – so much of our national viewpoint has actually been colored by a discussion about the European Union.

This is our moment to be that true global player once more – and I think the armed forces play a really import role as part of that.

I am very much looking at how we can get as much of our resources forward based, actually creating a deterrent but also taking a British presence. We are looking at those opportunities not just in the Far East but also in the Caribbean as well. 

Naval Base

During the interview Williamson revealed plans to open a military base in the Far East “within the next couple of years.” British defense officials privately told The Daily Telegraph that Brunei and Singapore were under consideration. The UK currently maintains a small logistics facility at Sembawang Naval Base in Singapore known as the British Defence Singapore Support Unit or Naval Party 1022.

The UK’s plans to establish a military base in Southeast Asia in the future reflects growing UK defense engagement in the region in recent years and builds on the UK’s long-standing commitment to the 1971 Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) involving the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.

Secretary of Defence Williamson told the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June last year that the UK would demonstrate its solidarity with the “rules-based system” in the region’s waters by sending Royal Navy warships there to focus on the threats from North Korea. “We have to make it clear that nations need to play by the rules and that there are consequences for it doing so,” said Williamson.

In August 2018, Mark Field, the UK’s Foreign Office Minister for Asia, and the Pacific, told an audience in Jakarta that Britain was committed to an enduring security presence in Asia and urged countries to respect freedom of navigation and international law in the South China Sea.

Royal Navy Ship Visits

The last time Royal Navy warships visited the Far East was in 2013 when the destroyer HMS Daring deployed for nine months to take part in the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Royal Australian Navy, participate in FPDA-hosted Exercise Bersama Lima, and conduct science and technology trials in the Pacific. Also that year, HMS Illustrious assisted in humanitarian relief following Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines.

In 2018, in a development unprecedented since the Korean War, the UK dispatched three Royal Navy warships to “the Far East,” HMS Albion, an amphibious assault ship; HMS Sutherland, an anti-submarine warfare frigate; and HMS Argyll, a frigate.

HMS Argyll was deployed to Japan. HMS Sutherland visited Australia before sailing to South Korea. Both frigates participated in naval patrols to enforce United Nations trade sanctions against North Korea. The UK is a member of the United Nations Command that has been operational since the Korean War ended in 1953.

HMS Argyll and HMS Sutherland participated in naval exercises with Japan, South Korea and the United States. HMS Albion visited Australia and New Zealand and participated in an FPDA naval exercise.

In mid-2018 the Royal Navy combined with a French Navy Task Group, to conduct freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea. In late August, the HMS Albion left Japan and conducted a freedom of navigation patrol in waters near the Paracel islands while transiting to Ho Chi Minh City for a friendly port visit. Recent joint exercises with the U.S. Navy additionally underlined the Royal Navy’s regional presence.

Where Next?

There are three main drivers behind the UK’s decision to re-engage with the Indo-Pacific Region.

First, in the post-Brexit era, the UK must develop new policies and new roles as an independent actor freed from the constraints of membership in the EU. The Indo-Pacific presents opportunities for the United Kingdom to contribute to the region’s stability and thus enhance global security by supporting a rules-based international order. Up to 12 percent of UK’s trade transits the South China Sea.

This translates into supporting UN sanctions on North Korea and upholding freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in concert with allies such as the United States, Australia and other members of the FPDA, as well as security partners Japan and South Korea.

Second, the UK must seize the opportunities offered by the economic and commercial growth of the Indo-Pacific region as the main contributor to global growth. This translates into negotiating free trade agreements with Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam as well as accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Third, defense engagement with the Indo-Pacific entails demonstrating the global reach of the Royal Navy, Britain’s advanced military technology, and the UK’s reliability as a security partner. Allied to this are UK arms sales. In the period 2013-2017, the UK was the world’s the sixth largest arms exporter. In 2017, the UK posted $11.3 billion in overseas military sales with Indonesia the third largest recipient after Saudi Arabia and Oman. In June 2018, the UK signed a $26 billion procurement deal with Australia to supply nine UK-designed anti-submarine warfare frigates to be built in Australia.

Saoirse Ronan got a ‘weird’ body shape from Queen of Scots corsets

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 04:00 AM PST

Saoirse Ronan was left with a “weird body shape” for a month after wearing corsets for ‘Mary Queen of Scots’.

The Irish/American actress has previously opened up about how difficult it was wearing the waist-cinching garment for the period drama – in which she portrays the titular royal Mary Stuart – and has now revealed that when she and her cast mates took the corsets off, they had “hourglass” figures for weeks.

Appearing on UK TV show ‘This Morning’ on Thursday (17.01.19), she said: “The bloody corsets. It changes your shape. After we wrapped, about a month afterwards, myself and all the girls had this weird, I mean it was great, but we had this weird hourglass shape. We had just had these corsets put onto us every day and the warmer the corset gets throughout the day from being put on your body, they tighten it more.

“You think, ‘Oh, I will be able to chill out now,’ and then they come and tighten it even more. So we had different body shapes. It’s no wonder they couldn’t do anything and didn’t exercise so much. They just couldn’t move.”

Another challenge for the role was speaking in French for part of the movie, and though the 24-year-old star has plenty of experience, having executed a flawless southern American accent in ‘Lady Bird’, she said speaking in French required her to send “her mouth to the gym” every day to train the muscles.

However, she find it easy to transfer her natural Irish accent to Scottish.

Saoirse – who stars alongside Margot Robbie’s Queen Elizabeth I in the film – told hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield: “I liked doing the Scottish one because it is so similar to Irish anyway. When you change your accent, you are speaking in a different way. If I was doing a southern English accent or a Californian accent, the way I would speak would completely change. It’s literally just like music and finding the melody of something. We had to speak French in this as well and the muscle they use when speaking in French, is completely different to the ones that we would use. You are basically sending your mouth to the gym every day.”

Justin Bieber sets second wedding date

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 04:00 AM PST

Justin and Hailey Bieber will marry again on his birthday weekend.

The couple tied the knot in a secret ceremony in September but are planning to exchange vows again in front of their friends and family somewhere in Los Angeles during the weekend of March 1.

Sources told TMZ the pair deliberately chose the date because the ‘Love Yourself’ hitmaker was keen to be a “married” man by the time he turned 25.

Both Justin and Hailey, 22, have families based in the East Coast and Canada, and they initially planned to tie the knot again there but changed their plans due to likely bad weather.

Among those who have already received Save the Date emails for the religious ceremony and Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott.

The couple are said to have sent out three different Save the Date cards so far, but are determined to stick to their plans this time around.

However, they are keeping most of the information surrounding their celebrations a secret as they want all the “exciting details” to be a surprise for their loved ones.

A source recently: “Justin and Hailey are so happy and inseparable. They are thrilled that they can finally share their love and commitment with family and friends. They want the music, entertainment and exciting details to be a big surprise for their guests …

“There was no location included in their text, because they want complete privacy. Everyone is in full preparation mode. Justin plans to use his personal DJ to spin on the big day. They truly are planning a beautiful celebration and a party to be remembered.”

Justin confirmed his marriage to Hailey in a social media post made to mark Thanksgiving in November.

He wrote: “Happy late thanksgiving to everyone. First thanksgiving as a married man, first time hosting thanksgiving. First time both sides of the family has come together. Relationships are hard and love isn’t always easy but thank you Jesus for showing me how! Every day is a learning process, trying to be more like him, patient, kind, selfless, boy I got a long way! But gods grace is sufficient (sic).”

Minnie Driver calls for Riches return

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 04:00 AM PST

Minnie Driver would return to ‘The Riches’ “in a heartbeat”.

The 48-year-old actress starred opposite Eddie Izzard on the FX drama for two seasons but the show was axed in 2008, with the network citing falling ratings for the cancellation.

However, Minnie has branded the decision “lunacy” and claimed the network only scrapped the show because some of its writers had been “vocal” in the infamous Hollywood Writers’ Strike in 2007.

Responding to a tweet asking which cancelled shows people would like to bring back, Minnie posted: “It was a brilliant show, predicated on an even more brilliant idea.

“We were cancelled in the wake of punitive measures taken against writers who were vocal in the writers strike in 2007. Lunacy. I’d make this show again in a heartbeat.”

The ‘Speechless’ actress – who has a 10-year-old son, Henry – previously used Twitter to admit she doesn’t think movie sets are a “good place” for children and urged aspiring young actors to finish their education before thinking about their careers.

Minnie made her comments after being asked by photographer Jason Joseph for some advice for his daughter, who is an aspiring actress.

He tweeted: “@driverminnie we have a very talented very curly haired little 10yr old girl here who is auditioning to play The Rock’s daughter! Can you offer up any advice for her? 🙂 (sic)”

She simply replied: “Finish school.”

Shortly afterwards, she gave a longer response to clarify her stance.

She posted: “Just gave what might be interpreted as a dismissive response 2 children acting. I should clarify:Ive worked with lots of child actors and they are great(mostly) However I will never 4 a sec believe a set is a good place for a child. Education can only ever make you a better actor. (sic)”

Rita Ora’s easy transformation into Post Malone

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 04:00 AM PST

Rita Ora claims she looks like Post Malone without make-up on.

The ‘Anywhere’ hitmaker shocked her fans when she dressed up as the tattooed rapper for the Kiss Haunted House party concert in London last October but she claims her transformation didn’t require much effort.

Shown a picture of herself as Post, she said: “That’s literally me with no make-up, all that happened was they drew some face tattoos and I put a wig on and had no make-up touch ups, so that’s scarily what I look like in real life.”

Despite her dramatic transformation, the 28-year-old singer was stunned when the audience didn’t recognize her.

She told talk show host Jimmy Fallon: “I literally did a concert and they didn’t clap because they were like ‘Who is this weird human being on stage?’

“I had to talk in the mic and still they didn’t believe me and then I had to sing and they were like ‘OK, we believe her.’ “

With a world tour on the horizon, Rita is already planning another impersonation.

Asked who she’ll dress up as at the concerts, she quipped to Jimmy: “You, I feel like a suit and a tie.”

Following her Halloween transformation, Rita is keen to secure a collaboration with Post on her next record.

She said: “Apart from how obsessed I am with him, yes I would love to do a collaboration with Post Malone.”

Meanwhile, Rita teamed up with Ed Sheeran to write ‘Your Song’, a track on her latest album ‘Phoenix’, and she joked she thinks he “poos” songs because he works so quickly, much to her delight.

She said: “The thing with working with Ed is like he poos out songs, it’s the craziest thing ,how quick he writes songs.

“We did it in two hours and then we went to the pub, which is what we both like. My dad owns a pub so we just went and had a beer, it was super fun.”

Kew Media Boards Michael Jackson Documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ for International

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 03:54 AM PST

Kew Media Distribution has boarded controversial Michael Jackson sex-abuse documentary “Leaving Neverland” ahead of its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Kew Media has taken international distribution rights (excluding U.K. and U.S.) to the two-part documentary, which is a co-production of HBO and British broadcaster Channel 4.

Directed by BAFTA-winner Dan Reed, “Leaving Neverland” features two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, now in their 30s, who allege that they were sexually abused by the entertainer when they were 10 and 7, respectively. The documentary also features interviews with their mothers, wives and siblings, painting a portrait of sustained abuse and exploring the complicated feelings that led the two men to confront their experiences after both had young sons of their own. It is produced by AMOS Pictures.

Jonathan Ford, executive vice president of sales for Kew Media Distribution, said the acquisition reinforced Kew Media’s commitment to “providing strong and emotive programming to Kew Media Distribution’s roster of clients around the world.”

The film’s addition to the Sundance lineup was announced last week and immediately sparked the anger of Jackson fans. His estate has denounced the documentary, calling it “yet another lurid production” attempting to “exploit and cash in” on the late singer. The statement read: “Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. This so-called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations.”

Sundance issued a statement to corporate partners Tuesday saying it would not bow to pressure to pull the documentary from its lineup.

“It has come to our attention that some of you may have received messages or social media posts from Michael Jackson fans who would like us to pull the screening of ‘Leaving Neverland,'” the statement read. “Sundance Institute supports artists in enabling them to fully tell bold, independent stories, stories on topics which can be provocative or challenging. We look forward to audiences at the Festival seeing these films and judging the work for themselves, and discussing it afterwards.”

The statement said Sundance did not “currently plan to comment publicly or engage in the discourse around ‘Leaving Neverland'” and advised corporate partners to refrain as well.

Reed, who has won three BAFTAs, most recently for 2014’s “The Pedophile Hunter,” said: “I believe anyone who watches this film will see and feel the emotional toll on the men and their families and will appreciate the strength it takes to confront long-held secrets.”

Allegations of abuse by Jackson first surfaced in 1993. He was later acquitted of molesting 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo in 2005, following an 18-month trial.

The documentary will air on HBO and Channel 4 this spring.

Beta Drops Trailer, Closes Major Sales on Berlinale Series Title ‘M’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 03:03 AM PST

Beta Film has rolled out its first major territory sales on drama series “M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder” (“M – A City Hunts a Murderer”), which has just been confirmed by the Berlin festival as one of seven shows selected for its TV strand, Berlinale Series.

Viasat has licensed pay-TV rights for Russia and CIS countries. TV giant Globo has also closed pay-TV rights for Brazil. Canal Plus has licensed Polish rights, in a further pay-TV deal. Scandinavia is in final negotiations.

Beta handles world sales outside Austria and Germany. The drama series is a Superfilm production by John Lueftner and David Schalko for Austrian public network ORF and Germany’s TV Now, the new streaming service of the RTL Mediagroup. “M” marks their first original fiction production. Home video in Germany is handled by Universum Film.

A potential Berlinale Series talking point, “M – A City Hunts a Murderer” is inspired by Fritz Lang‘s 1931 movie “M,” his first film with sound, starring Peter Lorre as a child serial killer memorably whistling “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg as he approached his young murder targets. The eerie whistle and images, such as the ball of one victim rolling across some grass as the murderer leads her away, helped build Lang’s international status. He always considered “M” his favorite film.

Variety has exclusive access to the international trailer of the new TV adaptation of “M – A City Hunts a Murderer.” The six-hour limited series is directed by Austrian helmer David Schalko (“Braunschlag,” “Altes Geld”) and stars well-known German actors Udo Kier (“Downsizing”), Moritz Bleibtreu (“Atomised”), and Lars Eidinger (“Personal Shopper”).

The storyline is broadly the same – a child’s murder plunges a city into panic – but the setting has been moved to a snowy Vienna. A mysterious clown whistles a haunting melody. As far-right politicians seize the moment to step up security, in another parallel from the original, the criminal underworld’s business is disrupted so badly by police raids that it hunts the assassin down, subjecting him to kangaroo court trial.

The trailer features macabre vignettes such as a child’s red jacket left on a bench in the snow, a young child’s uncertainty as she’s approached by the murderer, bodies frozen in icy snow, and children left alone in their rooms. The trailer also captures the desperation of parents who have lost their children in a society caught between sinister forces of order and criminality.

Among a number of series excerpts screened by The Wit at Mipcom, “M” was the darkest series on show.

“M” will screen at the Zoopalast, the Berlinale Series venue, and also be shown at the Blauer Stern cinema in Pankow as part of the Berlinale Goes Kiez program as the Berlinale continues to screen TV series at venues in local Berlin neighborhoods.

Beta Drops Trailer, Closes Major Sales on Berlinale Series Title ‘M’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 03:03 AM PST

Beta Film has rolled out first major territory sales on drama series “M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder” (“M – A City Hunts a Murderer”), which has just been confirmed by the Berlin Festival as one of seven selected series in its TV strand, Berlinale Series.

Viasat has licensed pay TV rights for Russia and CIS countries. TV giant Globo has also closed pay TV rights for Brazil.Canal + has licensed Polish rights, in a further pay TV deal. Scandinavia is in final negotiations.

Beta handles world sales outside Austria and Germany. The drama series is a Superfilm production by John Lueftner and David Schalko for Austrian public network ORF and Germany’s TV Now, the new streaming service of the RTL Mediagroup. “M” marks their first fictional original production. Home video Germany is handled by Universum Film.

A potential Berlinale Series talking point, “M – A City Hunts a Murderer” is inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1931 movie “M,” his first sound film, starring Peter Lorre as a child serial killer memorably whistling “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg as he approached his young murder targets.

The eery whistle and images such as the ball of one victim rolling across some grass as the murderer leads her away, helped build Lang’s international status. He always considered “M” his favorite film.

Now “M” is a back, in a drama series “M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder” (“M – A City Hunts a Murderer”). Variety has had exclusive access to its international trailer.

Based on Lang’s all-time classic, the six-hour limited series is directed by Austrian helmer David Schalko (“Braunschlag,” “Altes Geld”), and billed by Beta as parading a who’s who of German actors, including Udo Kier (“Downsizing”), Moritz Bleibtreu (“Atomised”), and Lars Eidinger (“Personal Shopper”).

The broad story is said to be the same – a child’s murder plunges a whole city into panic – though transferred to a snowy Vienna. A mysterious clown whistles a haunting melody. As far-right politicians seize the moment to step up security, in another parallel from the original, the criminal world’s business is disrupted so badly by police raids that it hunts the assassin down, subjecting him to kangaroo court trial.

The trailer captures much of this, in a series of increasingly macabre vignettes: A balloon released into the air, a child’s red jacket left on a bench in the snow, a young child’s uncertainty as she’s approached by the assassin; bodies under icy snow, their frozen faces as hard as dolls; children left alone, in their bedrooms or a lonely street at night.

Above all, the trailer captures the desperation of parents who have lost their children in a society caught between sinister forces of order and criminality. In the original movie, that desperation was echoed in the murderer himself who simply cannot control his impulses.

It remains to be seen if Shalko will take a similar tack in the drama series which world premieres at the Berlinale Series.

The original movie’s heightened psychological depth marked a milestone for Lang and German film. The series “M – A City Hunts a Murderer” flags the drive for originality to stand out in an ever-more crowed high-end drama market.

Different excerpts were showcased by The Wit at Mipcom, among multiple other series. Of all of them, “M” was the darkest series on show.

As the escalating output of high-end drama series requires ever more industry filters, the selected Berlinale Series titles represents one major focus for executives attending Berlin’s Drama Series Days, its TV market-forum which runs Feb- 11-13.

“M” will screen at the Zoo Palast, the Berlinale Series venue, and also be shown at the Blauer Stern cinema in Pankow as part of the Berlinale Goes Kiez program as the Berlinale continues to screen TV series at venues in local Berlin neighborhoods.

Rob Kardashian ‘likes being scratched’

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 03:00 AM PST

Rob Kardashian thinks being “scratched” by a woman is one of the “best things” he could ask for.

The 31-year-old sock designer sat for a deposition in relation to an explosive fight he had with ex-fiancee Blac Chyna – the mother of his two-year-old daughter Dream – in December 2016 and she’s submitted remarks he allegedly made at that time to back up her claim he suffered no physical or psychological injuries as a result of the row.

He is quoted in documents obtained by The Blast as saying: “Being scratched by a female is one of the best things a man could ask for.”

Rob was being questioned about Chyna ripping his shirt and claimed he didn’t know she was being aggressive or that her scratching him would turn into a full fight.

He said: “It didn’t really occur to me that it was going to be – go into, you know, guns and strangling.

“This was just like I thought she was just being drunk, and you know, trying to be funny.”

He later told his former partner’s attorney during the deposition that the scratch “didn’t feel good, that’s for sure.”

Chyna has included the deposition to argue evidence will show Rob’s shirt got ripped “with his (very happy) consent.”

According to the 30-year-old beauty’s lawsuit, Rob is seeking over $500,000 in damages, and has claimed he suffered emotional and physical injuries, as well as loss of property when Chyna broke his television during the row.

However, Chyna pointed out the TV actually belonged to Rob’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner – whose home they were renting – and has “generously” valued the shirt she tore at $250.

In total, she believes she owes Rob no more than $5,000.

As well as the assault dispute, the pair are also trying to forge a child support deal as the ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ star claims he can no longer afford to pay Chyna.

Allison Janney looking for mystery man

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 03:00 AM PST

Allison Janney is on the hunt for a mystery man her psychic dubbed ‘Hot Pants’.

The ‘I, Tonya’ actress is currently single but the fortune teller she regularly sees, whose name is Wendy, recently told her that her love life is set to pick up and she’ll soon meet a guy who will spice things up in the bedroom.

She told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres: “I don’t know about you, but I like to go see psychics… I kind of like it. It’s kind of interesting.

“I went to this psychic and she kept saying she kept seeing this man that was going to come into my life. She said, ‘I’m seeing a lot of things, Allison. I see a lot in the bedroom.

“This man is going to be… I’m seeing a lot of things he’s doing to you. I’m gonna call him Hot Pants.'”

As a result of the vision, the 59-year-old actress has begun “getting out of the house” more in a bid to find Hot Pants.

She said: “This was a couple of months ago, and I still haven’t found Hot Pants. But I keep looking for him!

“And it keeps making me… go do things I wouldn’t normally do. Like, ‘I’m going to go get the oil changed in my car because maybe Hot Pants will be there.’ It’s getting me out of my house and, I don’t know if that’s what she was really trying to do, but I keep doing more things than I usually do.”

She then joked her search for the mystery man had brought her to the show, and pointed to a guy in the audience as she quipped: “Are you Hot Pants?”

After Ellen said she thought it was odd that the psychic had pictured Allison in the bedroom, the ‘Mom’ actress admitted the vision had left the medium uncomfortable.

She said: “[She was] kind of embarrassed about what she was seeing.”

And while she hasn’t met Hot Pants yet, the former ‘West Wing’ star has faith in the psychic.

She said: “She’s also said a lot of over things that have come true.”

Asked what the true predictions were, she quipped: “I’m not at liberty to discuss some of those things.”

Gwyneth Paltrow too old for more kids

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 03:00 AM PST

Gwyneth Paltrow insists she’s “too old” to have more children.

The 46-year-old actress – who already has Apple, 14, and Moses, 11, with ex-husband Chris Martin – married producer Brad Falchuk last year but she isn’t planning to start a family with the father-of-two because she doesn’t think she would “survive” the sleepless nights with a newborn.

She said of the possibility: “Good lord, no. I’m too old. It’s great that women are able to have babies late into their forties, but… I mean, pfffff. I don’t think I could be up all night. I wouldn’t survive.”

The ‘Shakespeare in Love’ star is having a “great experience” raising a teenage daughter and though Apple has a “naughty” side, she’s not worried because her oldest child is misbehaving in the way she would expect of someone her age.

She told ES magazine: “You know I’m having – I’m afraid to say it out loud – but a great experience with her.

“She’s so smart and sweet and so funny. And she’s a bit naughty.

“But my father said something to me when I apologised to him in my 20s for what I was like when I was 15 – sneaking out and having a party when they were on holiday. He said: ‘You were bad in all the ways you are supposed to be bad.’

“He said the only time you need to worry about a kid is when they are outside-the-box bad.

“So I’m looking at [Apple] through the lens of, ‘This is what she is supposed to be doing.’

“If you look at it like that, then you don’t freak out. You don’t judge them. You don’t shame them. You try to keep them on track and have good conversations. So far, so good.”

While Gwyneth feels too old to have more children, she admitted she’s also reached a point in her life where she no longer feels able to put her body through juice cleanses.

She admitted: “I don’t know if my adrenals are too tired or I am too old or whatever, but I definitely can’t do that liquid cleanse thing any more.”

The Goop founder admitted she felt she was “going to die” on her last five-day stint of consuming nothing but Chinese tea and green juice, and how she’d will her ‘master cleanses’ of water, lemon, cayenne pepper and maple syrup to come to an end.

She said: “When it had finished I’d think, ‘Oh great!’ and have a cigarette and a beer.”

The full interview appears in this week’s edition of ES Magazine, which is out now.

Nordic Film Market Selects Latest Palmason, Hakonarson, Hafstrom, Ganslandt

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 02:44 AM PST

The 20th Nordic Film Market in Göteborg, unspooling Jan. 31-Feb 3, will showcase 17 works in progress including Hlynur Pálmason’s “A White, White Day”, Grímur Hákonarson’s “The County”, Mikael Håfström’s “The Perfect Patient” and Jesper Ganslandt’s “438 Days.”

Iceland is well represented this year with top directors and festival darlings Pálmason (“Winter Brothers”), Hákonarson (“Rams”) as well as “Volcano”‘s Rúnar Rúnarsson, who will pitch their latest projects at Göteborg’s Biopalatset where last year Benedikt Erlingsson first introduced “Woman at War.”

“I simply had to select the three films by Pálmason, Hákonarson and Rúnarsson as they are on the top list of many festival programmers and buyers and their films are very different from one other, displaying the wide breath of talents from Iceland,” said Nordic Film Market‘s head of industry Cia Edström.

“A White, White Day” stars Ingvar E. Sigurðsson (“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”) as an off-duty police chief, obsessed with a man whom he suspects had an affair with his wife, who just died in a car crash.

Hákonarson ‘s “The County” is the story of a woman who has to stand on her own feet when her husband passes away. The film is sold by New Europe Film Sales.

Rùnarsson will pitch the hybrid pic “Echo” selected for Cannes’s Cinéfondation Atelier 2018. France’s Jour2Fête handles sales.

Academy-Award nominated Mikael Håfström will bring the psycho-thriller “The Perfect Patient” starring David Dencik, Jonas Karlsson and Alba August, under TrustNordisk’s banner, while fellow Swedish director Jesper Ganslandt will present the drama “438 Days,” based on the true story of two Swedish journalists who were imprisoned in Ethiopia before being released. SF Studios handles sales.

Edström singles out two second features by female directors to watch out for: “Disco”, by Norwegian helmer Jorunn Myklebust Syversen (“The Tree Feller”‘), about a world champion in freestyle disco dance, and “My Life as a Comedian” by Roja Sekersöz (“Beyond Dreams”), a coming of age tale written by Jonas Gardell, licensed by Yellow Affair.

Besides the works in progress, 11 films in development will bow in the Discovery section, such as “The Quite Migration” by Marlene Choi (“The Return”) and “The Nation” by Anton Källrot (“The Modern Project”).

Finished films to be screened to Nordic Film Market’s 300-plus participants include Sundance selections “Queen of Hearts”, “Koko-d- Koko-da”, Göteborg fest opening film “Aurora” and closing film “Swoon”.

More than 300 delegates are expected in Göteborg, a very solid number for Edström, considering the head-to-head competition from Sundance and Rotterdam.

Among the industry reps announced are 72 buyers, such as heavyweights Anatol Chavez of U.S. distribution shingle Synergetic and Netflix’s Funa Maduka and Lina Brouneus, all attending for the first time. “Lina Brouneus is very keen to check the latest features from the Nordics,” notes Edström. “Many talented directed/writers keep shifting from film to TV drama and vice-versa. It’s important for the major streaming services to track who’s doing what and next to TV drama, feature film is also in their sightline to beef up their libraries.”

Brouneus will deliver a keynote at Göteborg’s other industry sidebar, TV Drama Vision, held Jan.30-31.

THE NORDIC FILM MARKET’S 2019 WORKS IN PROGRESS:

“438 Days” by Jesper Ganslandt, Miso Film, Sweden

“A Perfectly Normal Life” by Malou Reymann, Nordisk Film, Denmark

“A Piece of My Heart” by Edward af Sillén, Unlimited Stories, Sweden

“A White, White Day” by Hlynur Pálmason, Join Motion Pictures, Iceland

“Dogs Don’t Wear Pants” by J.P. Valkeapää, Helsinki filmi, Finland

“Disco” by Jorunn Myklebust Syversen, Mer Film, Norway

“Echo” by Rúnar Rúnarsson, Nimbus Iceland, Iceland

“Him” by Gur Bruusgaard, Alternativet, Norway

“Livet med tandsmør” by Magnus Milland, Miso Film, Denmark

“My Life as a Comedian” by Rojda Sekersöz, Anagram, Sweden

“The County” by Grímur Hákonarson, Netop Films, Iceland

“The Domestique” by Jannicke Systad Jacobsen, Ape & Björn, Norway

“The Exception” by Jesper W. Nielsen, Fridthjof Film, Denmark

“The Perfect Patient” by Mikael Håfström, Brain Academy, Sweden

“The Spy” by Jens Jonsson, 4 ½, Norway

“Valhalla” by Fenar Ahmed, Profile Pictures, Denmark

Amazon’s ‘Hanna,’ New Season of ‘False Flag’ Lead Strong Berlinale Series Lineup

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 02:19 AM PST

Amazon Prime Video‘s upcoming high-concept thriller “Hanna” will debut at the 2019 Berlinale Series, with its stars – Esme Creed-Miles, Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos – expected in Berlin for its premiere. Netflix also features in the lineup and will debut “Quicksand,” its first Swedish original.

A roster of seven shows also includes big-ticket Sky Germany disaster series “8 Days,” the second season of hit Israeli drama “False Flag,” and an Austrian show, “M – A City Hunts a Murderer,” inspired by a 1930s Fritz Lang classic. There are also high-end shows out of France and Denmark at the fifth edition of Berlinale Series.

The Berlinale Series and Drama Series Days, held in the German capital in February alongside the film festival, are fast becoming a fixture on the crowded calendar of international TV events.

Amazon’s “Hanna” is written by David Farr, who adapted John Le Carre’s spy novel “The Night Manager” for the BBC and AMC. Farr co-wrote the “Hanna” movie, and like the film, the series will follow a girl brought up in the wilderness and trained by her ex-intelligence operative father as she goes out into the world.

“M – A City Hunts a Murderer” stars well-known German actors Udo Kier, Moritz Bleibtreu and Lars Eidinger. Inspired by Lang’s 1931 movie of the same name, the television show moves the action to modern-day Vienna, where a child killer is on the loose. It will air locally on Austrian pubcaster ORF. Beta Film will take it out internationally.

Netflix‘s first Swedish original, “Quicksand,” is based on the bestselling novel by Malin Persson Giolito, and follows the aftermath of a school shooting in a wealthy suburb of Stockholm, where a student finds herself on trial for murder. The series is penned by Camilla Ahlgren, head writer on Scandi hit “The Bridge.”

Sky Vision-distributed “8 Days” is set in Europe as a huge asteroid races towards Earth, and follows what happens to the threatened inhabitants in what might be their final eight days on the planet. French time-travel show “Twice Upon a Time” centers on a man’s desperate quest to save a lost love. New installments of Israeli drama “False Flag” and of Danish corruption series “Follow the Money” round out the selection.

Two episodes of each show will screen in Berlin, with the exception of “Twice Upon a Time,” all four episodes of which will screen.

Full Berlinale Series lineup:

“M – A City Hunts a Murderer” (Austria)
Broadcaster/platform: ORF

“Hanna” (U.K.)
Broadcaster/platform: Amazon Prime Video

“8 Days” (Germany)
Broadcaster: Sky Deutschland

“Quicksand” (Sweden)
Broadcaster/platform: Netflix

“Twice Upon a Time” (France)
Broadcaster/platform: Arte

“Follow the Money III” (Denmark)
Broadcaster/platform: DR1

“False Flag 2” (Israel)
Broadcaster/platform: Keshet