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Great Point Media, The Development Partnership Join Forces on Slate of Movies

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 08:11 AM PST

Great Point Media and The Development Partnership, the development and production arm of Robert Taylor’s talent agency the Artists Partnership, are joining forces to develop, package, and co-produce multiple films, kicking off with three projects, including “Chasing Agent Freegard,” starring James Norton (“War & Peace”).

“Chasing Agent Freegard,” which is being produced by “Captain Phillips” co-producer Michael Bronner, is based on the gripping true story of Robert Hendy-Freegard, a con man who masqueraded as an MI5 agent and fooled several people into going underground for fear of assassination by the IRA. Norton, who stars in upcoming Berlin competition title “Mr. Jones” by Agnieszka Holland and will be seen next in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of “Little Women,” will executive produce “Chasing Agent Freegard” through his recently launched banner, Rabbit Track Pictures.

The other two projects to be developed under the agreement are “Let It Go” and “Rose.” Produced by Damian Jones (“The Iron Lady”), “Let it Go” will be written by Robyn Charteris, based on the memoir of Stephanie Shirley, a former child refugee, trailblazing entrepreneur, driven philanthropist and computing pioneer whose tech business is said to be worth more than £2.6 billion.

“What a wonderful moment to tell this story of a child refugee who became a multimillionaire,” said Jones, adding that Shirley’s work ethic, moral compass and ethos of giving back fly in the face of the entitlement-ridden times we’re living in.

“Rose” is a dark, Gothic exploration of one couple’s relationship that explores the pressures of dependency, illness, guilt, loneliness and love. “Rose” was written by first-time feature writer Matt Stokoe, and is set to be directed by first-time director Jennifer Sheridan. The film will star Stokoe (“Jamestown”) and Sophie Rundle (“Peaky Blinders”) as a couple struggling to survive. “Rose” is being produced by Bone Garden, Mini Productions, and TDP.

The deal underscores Great Point Media‘s goal to build a solid slate of original productions for which they also handle sales, manage funds and produce from script stage to the release.

“This collaboration represents an exciting and decisive move forward in our strategy to build projects from root to branch with trusted partners, and follows three years of great work with the team at TDP, developing projects with and for their clients,” said Jim Reeve, co-founder of Great Point Media.

Taylor, from The Development Partnership, said the company’s “partnership with Great Point goes from strength to strength, and Jim and his team have been the perfect collaborators as we have built this film slate.”

Nada Cirjanic, the head of sales for Great Point Media, will represent all three films in international markets and will introduce them to buyers at markets this year.

Great Point’s sales team will be in Sundance with Shola Amoo’s “The Last Tree,” which will open the World Dramatic Competition section.

TV Review: ‘Black Earth Rising’

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 08:00 AM PST

Bringing to bear a talented cast on a story of real geopolitical significance, “Black Earth Rising,” Netflix‘s drama about the long-tail aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, would seem to have had the potential to be one of 2019’s early television successes. Which makes its falling short all the more painful and pronounced. The show, previously aired in the U.K. on BBC Two and written and directed by Hugo Blick (“The Honourable Woman”), squanders the audience’s goodwill with ill-conceived narrative turns, a reliance on cliché, and, worst, dialogue that defies belief. Its potential resonances as a story about how we metabolize, and prosecute, the worst of crimes ends up, soon enough, squandered as the audience loses faith in the story and its telling.

Michaela Coel (“Chewing Gum”) plays Kate Ashby, an investigator working for human-rights attorney Michael Ennis (John Goodman, taking a welcome break from “The Conners”). Ennis, an American, plies his trade in the United Kingdom — and Kate, an ethnic Tutsi woman adopted as a baby amidst the mass murder of her cohort in Rwanda, doesn’t quite know where she fits, a struggle that’s resulted in both a carapace of toughness and a roiling inner life. When her adoptive mother Eve (Harriet Walter), a prosecutor who works at the Hague, prepares to bring charges against a Tutsi leader for war crimes, Kate attacks her for not understanding the impact it’d have on their relationship. As the story proceeds, though, Kate finds herself both awash in complicated emotions of displacement and enmeshed in a story of increasing potential danger and intrigue.

All of which sounds fascinating on paper. But onscreen, the emotional core of the story is wasted; the relationship between Kate and Eve is cut short before it can develop further, ending with a burst of invective from Kate when a fuller investigation of the complicated interplay between a white British mother and her black Rwandan daughter could have borne fruit. And the grand adventure aspects of the story, kicking off with a risible action sequence in which Kate races through an air vent to find an unseen assailant, play as unintentional comedy.

Worst of all, even when she’s not playing at vent-crawling superheroics, Kate never feels real. As a character whose sense of alienation both from her country of origin and the country she presently inhabits, her struggle is relatable to millions of potential viewers, but as a figure who spouts lines like “Nothing about me is normal” or “Don’t expect me to behave the way others do,” she’s a cardboard cutout of an angsty rebel. By the time she throws herself at Goodman’s character (the second black woman to do so in a single episode, incidentally), it’s become clear the show has no real idea of how to write Kate as anything other than living symbol of the aftermath of war. (Goodman’s character is similarly freighted with trauma — he’s a physically ill alcoholic with a daughter in a coma — that supplants, rather than develops, character development.) Kate’s backstory is tragic and evocative, yes. But the character, despite the best efforts of the gifted Coel, doesn’t evolve past a list of biographical details.

Which raises questions about why “Black Earth Rising” exists at all, so inept is it at conveying the struggle at its center. Written and directed by a white Briton, the series places at its center a woman scarred (in all senses) by her personal history, and it has no idea what to do with her besides trauma that announces itself through aberrant behavior and rage. Both of those reactions are merited, but, bolstered as they are with dialogue that’s perpetually just announcing Kate’s state of mind with none of the shading or nuance of human speech, neither are ever believable. Perhaps, given the obvious difficulty he evinces in depicting what life would be like and what politics would feel like for a Rwandan adoptee, Kate’s was not Blick’s story to tell.

“Black Earth Rising.” Jan. 25, Netflix. 60 min. Eight episodes (four screened for review).

Cast: Michaela Coel, John Goodman, Harriet Walter, Tamara Tunie, Noma Dumezweni

Executive producers: Hugo Blick, Greg Brenman.

Glenn Close: Older women don’t lose their sexuality

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 08:00 AM PST

Glenn Close thinks it’s a myth that women lose their “sexuality” as they get older.

The 71-year-old actress – who has been married and divorced four times – has insisted that her sexuality has not been diminished by the passing of time.

The Hollywood legend shared: “It’s one of the great myths that you lose your sexuality as you get older. One night last year, I was coming across town from the East Village [in New York City] to the West. It was late on a Friday night and there were a lot of couples on the street. [Her dog] Pippy and I were looking out of the car window and I could feel what all those couples were feeling.”

Glenn explained that in spite of her age, she could still relate to the “sense of intimacy” that she witnessed on the streets of New York.

Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, the veteran actress said: “I could feel their excitement, the sense of intimacy about to happen. It was extremely powerful.”

Meanwhile, Glenn also revealed she thinks it will be “fascinating” to observe the impact of the #MeToo movement.

The ‘Fatal Attraction’ actress hopes that the fallout from the Hollywood sex scandal will prompt a cultural shift within the movie business.

She said: “I think the effect of it all will be fascinating to see.

“When women have more of a chance, all these great stories are going to come out. And it won’t just be about them. I long for the day when people say, ‘This is a fantastic movie,’ rather than, ‘This is a fantastic women’s movie.’

“We have to keep the issue of the empowerment of women at the forefront because it’s something that won’t become part of our culture unless a lot of people fight for it.”

Jodie Kidd refused to be ‘miserable’ on strict diets

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 08:00 AM PST

Jodie Kidd decided to stop following strict diets because restricting the types of food she ate left her feeling “miserable, tired and hungry”.

The 40-year-old model has released her own wellbeing book with her personal trainer Amelie Khellaf-Govett, entitled ‘Balance Your Life: A 6-week Eating and Exercise Plan for a Calmer, Healthier You’, which provides readers with time-efficient workout routines and nutritiously balanced meals.

Jodie decided to create her own book with French nutritionist Amelie because as a busy working mother she could no longer stick to eating plans that restricted specific food types because she lacked energy to do everything she had to do in a day.

Jodie – who has seven-year-old son Indio with with her ex-boyfriend, Argentinian polo player Andrea Vianini – said: “I’m kind of at the stage where I’ve had kids and am working, super-busy and want to look after myself, but every time I try to do a new plan or diet or go to the gym it was either traumatic because someone either beasted you at the gym that you just never wanted to go back.

“Or the diets were so strict that you just felt miserable and tired and hungry. So I thought there’s got to be something out there that’s more realistic that mums can follow, that is easier. So we created this, it’s brilliant, it’s going down really well and I’m really, really proud!”

Jodie has included numerous recipes which has replacement ingredients for sugar and she admits she was inspired to find alternatives after being shocked by the sugar content in one of her son’s favourite packs of cereal.

Appearing on ‘The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show’ on BBC Radio 2 on Monday morning (21.01.19), she said: “I was just looking at Indio’s pack of cereal. There is an unbelievable amount of sugar in everything and it’s not good for you. It really isn’t. But to cook with it’s quite important so we use alternatives like agave or coconut sugar or something like that. There’s all these things out there that you can use instead that are much better for you that are not refined.”

‘Dirty John’ Finale Hits New Ratings Highs in Live+3

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 07:49 AM PST

The Season 1 finale of “Dirty John” on Bravo continued the scripted show’s ratings hot streak in Live+3.

The finale, which aired on Jan. 13, grew to 3.3 million viewers in delayed viewing with 1.3 million of those falling in the key adults 18-49 demographic. That is up 10% in total viewers and 15% in the key demo compared to the L+3 numbers for the previous week’s episode.

The show finished its freshman run as a top 10 cable scripted series in adults 18-49 for all of 2018. “Dirty John” is also Bravo‘s highest-rated freshman series in 4 and a half years among total viewers.

Bravo gave “Dirty John” a two-season order in January. The scripted anthology series is based on the series of articles published by the Los Angeles Times’ last fall about a charismatic con man, John Meehan, and the consequences of an ill-fated romance. Connie Britton stars as Debra Newell, the single mother who fell in love with Meehan, who is played by Eric Bana.

“Dirty John” was also the source of a podcast hosted by LA Times writer Christopher Goffard. Separately, Oxygen Media has ordered a docuseries on the Meehan case. The second season of Bravo’s anthology will focus on a different case.

Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’ Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 07:09 AM PST

Sandro Fiorin’s Miami-based FiGa Films, a leading sales agent on the independent Latin American scene, has announced the acquisition of Brazilian doc “Landless,” and released a trailer for the Costa Rican-Spanish drama “El despertar de las hormigas.”

Both features will play at this year’s Berlinale Forum and come from young Latin American filmmakers making their feature debuts.

FiGa typically backs seven-to-eight features a year which demonstrate a strong social conscience and explore contemporary, hot-button themes. Typically the company looks to board early on in a film’s lifecycle, employing its expertise to help find the festivals and exhibitors around the world that offer the best fit for each film.

“El despertar de las hormigas” comes from Costa Rican director Antonella Sudasassi Furniss, and is a direct follow-up to her short debut “El despertar de las hormigas: la niñez.” It’s produced by Amaya Izquierdo.

The film turns on Isabel, a rural wife and mother of two who lives in a small wooden house in the Costa Rican countryside. A stay-at-home mom, Isabel picks up extra work filling sewing orders and leaving what she does make for her husband to manage. While pressure mounts on Isabel to provide the son her husband has always wanted, she retreats into a daydreaming world where she designs the clothes she makes and has her own store.

Her habits, the heat, her long hair, the insects that invade even the most intimate spaces, and the pressure of her family begin to distort Isabel’s imagination, forcing her to confront herself, her environment and her family.

Camila Freitas’ Brazilian documentary “Landless” examines how soil can be sustainably farmed, juxtaposed with the struggles of the region’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST). On property owned by an indebted sugarcane processing plant in the process of filing bankruptcy, the occupying movement pressures the government into enacting land reform and redistributing the territory.

On the other side of the dispute are a group of wealthy landowners who control more of the country than at any point in its history. The conservative forces connected to the landowners have committed themselves to hunting down the occupying resistance movement.

Ryan Reynolds Cancels Arm Surgery to Promote ‘Deadpool 2’ in China

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 07:02 AM PST

Ryan Reynolds canceled surgery on his arm to fly to China and charm “Deadpool” fans in Beijing on Sunday ahead of the franchise’s unexpected China theatrical debut.

Just last week, Fox suddenly announced that a re-cut, PG-13 “Deadpool 2” would hit Chinese theaters starting this Friday – the first time the notoriously blood-splattered and foul-mouthed series has passed the country’s strict censorship standards. The expurgated version was initially released in the U.S. in December as a Christmas-tinged, family-friendly offering called “Once Upon a Deadpool,” which earned about $6 million at home and a little less than $1 million abroad. The original R-rated version debuted stateside nearly eight months ago.

The Beijing visit by Reynolds, who is Canadian, came at a time when Sino-Canadian relations are at a historic low following the December arrest of Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, with China detaining two Canadians in apparent retaliation. A third Canadian was sentenced to death at a sudden retrial of his drug-smuggling case in a move that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called “arbitrary” and cause for “extreme concern.”

None of that seemed to faze Reynolds. “It’s been a dream of mine for years to bring ‘Deadpool’ to China and Chinese audiences, so for me this is, uh, heaven on earth,” he told his Beijing fans on a whirlwind one-day promotional visit.

He had injured his left arm shooting the film and was scheduled to have surgery in New York on Sunday morning, but skipped the appointment. “This was more important. I was not going to miss coming to China,” he said.

But conquering the Middle Kingdom may be an uphill battle even for the revamped, censor-approved “Deadpool.” Most Chinese fans of the franchise will have already seen both the first film and its sequel by now through other means online, and much of the films’ celebrated humor is so culturally specific to the U.S. that newcomers may easily find themselves lost in translation.

Superfan Alex Zhang, 17, had already seen the R-rated version of “Deadpool 2” months ago online, but planned to buy tickets to the new film out of devotion to “tall, handsome and strong” Reynolds, she told Variety, giggling behind her smog mask. “Of course I’ll go see it in theaters anyway. We have to see it – we can’t let the box office figures look too shabby!”

But Samantha Hu, a 21-year-old college student at the Communication University of China who’d seen all the “Deadpool” films, admitted that most Chinese viewers “probably just won’t get it.”

“There’s parts of the everyday banter that I don’t even really get, and often the translation isn’t really spot on, making it even harder to understand. But I always feel really happy when I’m able to grasp one of the jokes,” she said.

The film will be released with a Chinese name that translates to “Deadpool 2: I Love My Family,” a title that harks back to a classic Chinese TV show of the same name from the ’90s that follows the story of a family in Beijing.

Being shown a movie in a sanitized form intended for American children rankles, Hu said. “It’s kind of a letdown. It’s frustrating that in China, the things grownups actually want to see don’t get imported, though I’m still glad the film’s here at all.”

“Deadpool’s” Chinese fans have dubbed the character “Little Jianjian,” which Fox has loosely translated to “Little Bitchy Bitch,” though perhaps “despicable little guy” would also be appropriate, given the hard-to-define, negative-yet-endearing sense of “jian,” a trendy word at the moment.

At a presser, Reynolds laughed at the moniker. “I feel like my wife gave that to me first, but I guess China can get the credit.”

He called it the “perfect Deadpool nickname,” saying: “It could have been something much weirder, like ‘Hunting Wolf Blood-Chucker.’ I’ll take Little Bitchy Bitch any day; it’s the most fitting. In fact, ‘Deadpool 3’ should be called ‘Deadpool 3: Little Bitchy Bitch.”

Onstage, he posed with a Chinese opera headdress, hand drums and bright red sticks of candied hawthorns, a traditional Beijing snack, before China-specific movie posters featuring the same.

His team was already at work on “Deadpool 3,” he added, but didn’t directly address whether it would be made with Chinese censors in mind. He did say, however, that in the third installment, they were “looking to go in a completely different direction,” saying that “often, they reboot or change a character maybe like four movies too late.”

See the First Trailer for Hari Sama’s Sundance Premiere: ‘This is Not Berlin’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 07:00 AM PST

Writer-director Hari Sama’s fifth feature, “This is Not Berlin,” is set to world premiere at this month’s Sundance Film Festival. New York-based Cinema Tropical, a leading presenter of Latin American cinema in the U.S., has granted Variety exclusive access to the first trailer for the coming-of-age drama set in 1986 Mexico City.

Sama wrote, directed and his company Catatonia produced the semi-autobiographical feature, which impressed in works in progress sections at Impulso Morelia in October – where it scooped the Cinepolis Distribución Award and a special mention from the Jury – and Ventana Sur’s Copia Final in December.

The film boasts an ensemble cast led by two newcomers Xabiani Ponce de León and José Antonio Toledano, along with “Roma” star Marina de Tavira and popular Mexican TV actress Ximena Romo. Sama himself makes an appearance as well.

In the trailer, we see the drug and art-fueled world of political and socio-economic protest revolving around the 1986 World Cup which consumes the film’s two young protagonists. Tasked with mending a broken synthesizer, Carlos receives an invitation to the Aztec, a downtown “everything bar” where his best friend Gera’s sister is playing a gig with her electric-punk band.

Identity can be a rough subject for a teenager under the best of circumstances, but confronted by a rapidly changing world, drugs, disease, art and politics, we see Carlos and Gera lost in a haze. Their discovery and affirmation of something like their first true selves forms the story.

The heart of the film is Sama’s own experiences growing up in the Mexico City suburbs, and the art and music, hinted at in the trailer, come from the filmmaker himself, and artists, musicians and friends from that world.

U.S. sales on the film are handled by New York’s Cinectic Media, world sales by Madrid’s Latido Films.

Matthew McConaughey wrestles with son

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 07:00 AM PST

Matthew McConaughey’s family resolve their issues by wrestling.

The ‘Serenity’ actor – who has Levi, 10, Vida, nine, and Livingston, six, with wife Camila Alves – admitted his youngest son in particular doesn’t always like to talk about his problems so he’s come up with a unique physical way to get through disputes.

He said of Livingston: “He’s a literal handful, meaning he’s the comedian as well as he’s the bruiser.

“He sometimes doesn’t like to use his words enough to get his point across. He gets a little of that from me, sometimes maybe. I like to wrestle. We have a wrestling mat. When you come in the door that’s what we have out there, so if someone’s got really something that they want to contest and they don’t want to talk about it, let’s go up on the wrestling mat, gang.”

And when talk show host Ellen DeGeneres pointed out it wasn’t fair for a grown man to grapple with a six year old, the 49-year-old actor laughed: “I’m the one who comes out of it with the bruises!”

When the ‘Gold’ star’s eldest son turned 10, Matthew and Camila took the youngster to see his favourite band, BTS, and had a great time dancing to the K-Pop group’s hits.

Matthew said: “Levi wanted to go see BTS for his birthday, his favourite band, BTS.

“They’re South Korean, and my son is walking around the house months before he wants to go to this concert and he knows all the songs. He was rapping Korean.

“We took a couple of his friends, Camila and I went, and we had a blast. We got out of our seats, we got right down in the pit and we broke a sweat dancing.”

Meanwhile, when it came to celebrating his own birthday, Matthew threw a party at home – and his co-star Anne Hathaway and her husband Adam Schulman were more than just fashionably late for the bash.

He said: “My birthday’s on the fourth of November, so we had the party that night. And I didn’t notice, but the Hathaways didn’t show up.

“The next day, wake up, I was still in my robe around 5 p.m., the time that we had started the party the day before, and the doorbell rings. Balloons, I open up, ‘Happy Birthday!’ It’s Anne, and they’re got a bottle of wine, they’ve got balloons, a gift, and I’m like, ‘Great! Come on in.’

“She tells me, she says, ‘You were so nice, you didn’t say anything at the gate. You brought us in, open the bottle of wine, poured everyone a glass, and said, ‘You do know my birthday was yesterday.’ Anyway we did party into 2 a.m. that night.”

Robert B. Reich: The shutdown and the dismal failure of Trumponomics

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 06:30 AM PST

One of the least-talked-about consequences of the partial shutdown of the U.S. government — courtesy of Donald “I’m proud to shut down the government” Trump — is its negative effect on the U.S. economy.

Federal spending accounts for just over 20 percent of the total economy. When that spigot is turned halfway off, as it is now, demand for goods and services necessarily drops. The result is less investment and slower growth.

Right now some 800,000 government employees aren’t collecting paychecks. Nor are hundreds of thousands of government contractors being paid. None of them can buy as much as before.

It’s just another aspect of Trumponomics, which stands for the highly dubious proposition that prosperity comes from cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy while squeezing American workers — the people who do most of the buying.

A year ago, Trump and congressional Republicans predicted that their corporate tax cut would cause business investment to soar, which would lead to faster economic growth and higher wages.

It was classic supply-side rubbish. Rather than invest more, American corporations have been scaling back their investment plans.

The tax-cut steroid wore off within six months of its passage. Corporate investment rose at a 10 percent annual rate in the first half of 2018 but then slowed to 2.5 percent in the third quarter. According to the Institute for Supply Management, new orders for manufacturing equipment plunged 11 points in December.

The logical explanation is that corporations won’t invest unless they expect an adequate return on such investments. That return depends on there being enough buyers for the goods and services they produce.

But there aren’t enough. Besides all the government workers and contractors who aren’t being paid, American consumers as a whole have seen little if any rise in their paychecks, adjusted for inflation. Jobs are plentiful, but typical pay is still in the dumps.

When Trump slashed taxes on corporations, he promised everyone else a wage boost of $4,000. It never happened. Instead, the benefits of the giant corporate tax cut went largely into the pockets of top executives and big investors.

Corporate stock buybacks fueled a temporary stock market boom, but its benefits didn’t trickle down because over 80 percent of stocks are owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans.

Unlike typical workers, the wealthy spend only a tiny fraction of what they earn. So when money flows to the top, total demand falls behind.

Meanwhile, American employers have continued to cut pension and health-care benefits. Jobs are less secure than ever. One in five is now held by a worker under contract, without any unemployment insurance, sick leave or retirement savings.

Trump’s response? Allow employers to do more outsourcing. Make it harder for workers to form unions. Don’t even enforce labor laws on the books.

Trump continues to undermine what’s left of the Affordable Care Act. Over the past two years, some 4 million people have lost health insurance coverage, according to the Commonwealth Fund. This undermines their capacity to buy anything else.

Trump and his fellow Republicans refuse to raise the federal minimum wage, which would put money into the pockets of people who’d spend it. At $7.25 an hour, the minimum wage is now more than 25 percent below where it was in real terms half a century ago.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that raising it to $15 an hour would directly or indirectly lift the wages of 41.5 million working people. That’s almost 30 percent of the wage-earning workforce.

This would generate $144 billion in additional income for families who need it most, including 23.1 million women and 4.5 million single parents. Talk about buying power.

Nor has Trump moved an inch toward his campaign pledge to spend $1 trillion to reconstruct the nation’s roadways, waterworks and bridges. Infrastructure remains near the end of the legislative line.

So where will demand for goods and services come from? Don’t count on exports. The global economy is slowing. And the Chinese aren’t buying lots of things produced in America these days. That’s the fallout from Trump’s trade war.

Trumponomics is an abject failure because its premises are flawed. Cutting taxes on big corporations and the wealthy doesn’t stimulate investment. It only creates a bigger national debt that has to be paid off somehow, sometime.

And who’s going to have to pay it off, either in higher taxes or fewer government services? You guessed it. Average Americans, who are already being shafted by Trump’s policies.

(Robert Reich’s latest book is “The Common Good,” and his newest documentary is “Saving Capitalism.”)

Kamala Harris Launches 2020 Presidential Bid with Video, ‘GMA’ Appearance

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 06:18 AM PST

WASHINGTON — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) launched her presidential campaign on Monday with an online video and an appearance on “Good Morning America” in which she said that “this is a moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are.”

Harris, 54, will hold an announcement rally in Oakland on Jan. 27. In recent weeks she has been building up to an announcement with a new book, including appearances on shows such as “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” She also has been contacting donors to line up potential support.

Her announcement video features snappy, upbeat music that still warns that cherished American values are “all on the line now.”

“The future of our country depends on you and millions or others, lifting our voices to fight for our American values,” she says.

In her first term as a U.S. senator, Harris previously served as California’s attorney general and, before that, as district attorney of San Francisco. During Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, she served as a surrogate speaker, and was even then considered a rising figure within the party.

On “Good Morning America,” she focused on her years spent as a prosecutor.

“My entire career has been focused on keeping people safe,” Harris said. “It is one of the things that motivates me more than anything else. And when I look at this moment in time, I know that the American people deserve to have someone who is going to fight for them, who is going to see them, who is going to care about them, who willl be concerned about their experience, and put them in front of self-interest.”

Harris is the third female Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential race, following Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), but the field is likely to expand in coming weeks. Julian Castro, the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, also launched a bid, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said that she plans to run. John Delaney, a former congressman from Maryland, announced his bid in 2017.

 

Russell Brand: I’d ruin my life if I cheated on my wife

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 05:00 AM PST

Russell Brand knows he would “destroy his whole life” if he was unfaithful to his wife Laura Gallacher.

The 43-year-old comedian and actor married Laura – with whom he has daughters Mabel, two, and Peggy, six months – in 2017, but the pair originally dated more than a decade ago when Russell was in the height of his turbulent relationship with drug and sex addictions.

And although the pair are both aware of the ‘Get Him to the Greek’ star’s past, he says he won’t act on any thoughts he has toward other women, because he has a “voice” in his head that stops him from ruining his marriage.

He said: “She definitely had misgivings. But I feel like our relationship, and the trust in it, she understands how seriously I take it.

“But nothing good could come from harming her. If I put something in the space between me and her, it would be very detrimental to me. So when I think, ‘Oh, that person is attractive,’ the next thought is, ‘Yes, but if you ever did anything, you realise that would destroy your whole life.’ There’s that voice in my head now.”

When the couple began dating again, they attended a couple’s therapy session for their second date, and Laura still visits the therapist by herself.

Asked whose idea it was, Russell said: “Mine. Because I really believe in that stuff. I don’t want to be a bad person, but I know I have potential, so I like to set up relationships and systems that help me to stay on track.”

And despite having changed his ways, Russell – who was formerly married to Katy Perry from 2010 to 2012 – says he doesn’t regret any of his womanising ways in the light of the #MeToo movement.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, he said: “No. I just feel that [#MeToo] is a really positive change, it’s a sign of real awakening.”

Jesy Nelson spotted kissing Chris Hughes

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 05:00 AM PST

Little Mix member Jesy Nelson and former ‘Love Island’ star Chris Hughes were spotted kissing in a takeaway in south London, confirming the pair are dating.

The 27-year-old singer Chris, 26, were seen smooching in a kebab shop in the Elephant & Castle area last week following a date at ‘Harry Potter’-themed magical bar The Cauldron in the UK capital.

After having drinks, the pair decided to get some food from the nearby eatery, which serves kebabs, burgers and a large range of vegetarian dishes, but they couldn’t resist having a kiss and they even playfully poked their tongues out at one point to have a naughty lick of each other’s tongues.

Although it is said to be “very early days” between Jesy and Chris an onlooker on the night insisted the pair were “really affectionate” and could barely concentrate on their food.

An onlooker told The Sun Online: “They couldn’t keep their mitts off one another. They kept pausing mid-sentence to snog, and were really affectionate. It may be early days but there’s definitely a real spark.”

The ‘Woman Like Me’ hitmaker has been single since splitting with Harry James last November and Jesy was previously engaged to Rixton star Jake Roche from July 2015 until late 2016.

Chris found fame and love with Olivia Attwood on the 2017 series of ‘Love Island’, with the couple finishing in third place.

However, outside of the villa the couple’s relationship hit the rocks and they split in February 2018.

Qatar’s beIN Group Calls on Hollywood to Help Fight Pirate Broadcaster Allegedly Backed by Saudi Arabia (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 05:00 AM PST

Qatari powerhouse beIN Media Group is calling on Hollywood to join in fighting a pirate broadcaster that it alleges has stolen billions of dollars’ worth of rights to sports events, films and TV content, and that it says has the backing of Saudi Arabia.

Doha-based beIN has compiled what it calls a “dossier of evidence” detailing how satcaster beoutQ allegedly broadcasts live pirated sports content daily – including soccer matches, football games, Formula 1 races and Olympic events – to more than 20 countries via 10 encrypted channels. BeIN also accuses beoutQ of providing illegal access to thousands of premium Hollywood movies and TV shows through apps embedded on its set-top boxes.

BeoutQ allegedly beams the content via Arabsat, a satellite service based in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to customers throughout the Middle East and as far afield as Florida. Arabsat is controlled by the Saudi government.

Arabsat has refused to remove the rogue channels from its service. The company told The New York Times last year that the customer who bought the satellite space from which beoutQ allegedly airs has denied any involvement with the pirate broadcaster. But the beIN dossier, which was posted on a dedicated website last week, says that three of the world’s leading digital-security companies, including Cisco Systems, have confirmed that Arabsat is carrying beoutQ.

BeoutQ could not be reached for comment. Arabsat and Saudi Arabia‘s General Sports Authority did not respond to requests for comment.

BeIN’s campaign against beoutQ comes amid an ongoing diplomatic standoff between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities have banned beIN from their country as part of a 19-month-old blockade of Qatar, which they accuse of supporting terrorism. Qatar rejects those accusations as baseless.

BeIN is trying to fight beoutQ from an anti-piracy center operating around-the-clock at its Doha headquarters. Sports organizations such as soccer groups FIFA and UEFA have said that they are taking legal action against beoutQ. British broadcasters BBC and Sky have backed a formal EU protest against the service.

But the entertainment industry has largely ignored the matter, even though beIN says it has found 10,000 major international movies and TV series on beoutQ’s apps, many of them pilfered from U.S. studios.

“The real frustration that we’ve got is that the significant engine of Hollywood has not stood up and said, ‘Look this is wrong, it needs to stop, and we are going to put our advocacy muscle behind it,'” said Tom Keaveny, a former Discovery exec who is beIN’s managing director in the Middle East. “We just want the studios to step up and have the same level of indignation and respect for their own IP that we have for their IP.”

In a statement to Variety Stan McCoy, president and managing director of the Motion Picture Assn. for Europe, Middle East and Africa, agreed that beoutQ infringes “the rights of companies that invest in high-quality sports and entertainment content, undermining the growing legitimate Middle East marketplace.”

“We take this issue very seriously,” McCoy said, adding that “reducing this kind of piracy requires a comprehensive approach, from expanding access to legal content services to enforcing the rule of law to hold operators and organizations accountable.”

BeIN is a state-owned spinoff of Qatar’s Al Jazeera news network and owns Los Angeles-based Miramax Films. It has been shaking up the Middle East pay-TV market since 2015, when it branched out from sports into general entertainment.

Several pieces of international litigation have been lodged over beoutQ, including a complaint with the World Trade Organization, which last month approved Qatar’s request to set up a panel on Saudi Arabia’s alleged failure to provide adequate protection of intellectual property rights. The EU, Canada and China supported Qatar’s case against Saudi Arabia. The U.S. did not, but last year it did place Saudi Arabia on a watch list that identifies countries with inadequate intellectual property protection.

IHT Markit analyst Constantinos Papavassilopoulos said that, despite statements of solidarity with beIN, sports organizations and Hollywood are “refraining from blaming the Saudi government” for beoutQ’s activities because they don’t want to jeopardize access to the growing Saudi market. Since late 2017, when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman lifted a 35-year-old ban on movie theaters, there has been plenty of media- and entertainment-related activity in the oil-rich kingdom.

The website offering evidence of what beIN calls “industrial-scale theft” was launched last Wednesday, the same day that the Saudi city of Jeddah hosted the Italian Super Cup soccer final between Juventus and A.C. Milan, as part of a $22 million deal with Italy’s Lega Serie A. BeIN and other broadcasters complained that the Lega chose a host country implicated in the piracy of the league’s own content.

The following day, the Qatari and Saudi Arabian soccer teams played a politically charged Asian Cup match in Abu Dhabi shortly after the Asian Football Confederation said it was taking legal action against beoutQ in Saudi Arabia for illegally broadcasting the tournament.

Qatar – which will host the 2022 World Cup – beat Saudi Arabia 2-0. But the bigger faceoff continues.

Stewart Clarke contributed to this report.


 

Hulk Hogan: I’ve learnt from my mistakes

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 05:00 AM PST

Hulk Hogan says he’s “learnt from [his] mistakes” which saw him exiled from the WWE Hall of Fame for three years.

The 65-year-old retired professional wrestler was axed by the company in 2015 following the publication of a transcript taken from a sex tape recording revealed him using the “N-word” during a conversation about his daughter Brooke’s then-boyfriend.

After several public apologies Hogan was reinstated to the Hall of Fame last year, and now says he’s “definitely not in the same place” he was when he made the comments.

He said: “People are all human and they make mistakes, so it’s about forgiving people and learning and growing. I’m definitely not in the same place I was 12 or 13 years ago, you know, when I said such stupid words, what came out of my head. That’s not who I am.

“People learn from their mistakes, and people generally have a good heart. There’s a lot of good people in this world. You’ve gotta learn to forgive, and move forward.”

Despite his WWE comeback, Hogan – whose real name is Terry Bollea – says he won’t be returning to the ring any time soon, as he thinks he’s “too old” to wrestle now, and would be “embarrassed” by his performance.

He added: “I’m too old to wrestle. I embarrassed myself enough out there by moving too slow, so I don’t want to get back in there again. I don’t think I could. I could probably wrestle somebody like John Cena or Vince McMahon, but as soon as I’d be done they’d be taking me straight to the hospital to fix something … the body’s too worn out for that.”

Shortly after his reinstatement, Hogan was invited to company’s November pay-per-view event in Saudi Arabia, but the event was bittersweet as just a few weeks later, he received the call telling him his longtime friend Gene Okerlund had died.

Speaking about Gene – who died earlier this month – he told People magazine: “It felt like my Adam’s apple went backward or something, I couldn’t catch my breath. I guess my wife thought I was having a heart attack. It hit me so hard cause I just talked to him a couple weeks before about getting together the weekend when I came back from New Years.”

Sky and Warner Bros. Alums Join ITV-Backed Production Company Possessed

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 04:40 AM PST

Former Sky One and Sky Living programming chief Adam MacDonald has joined Possessed, and will be the ITV-owned production banner’s first chair. The U.K.-based unscripted producer has also hired Lesley Davies, former head of international production at Warner Bros. She will head up production.

The double hires follow a recommission of gameshow “5 Gold Rings,” season one of which was coproduced by John de Mol’s Talpa and Possessed in the U.K. Free-to-air broadcaster ITV has placed a two-season order for more runs of the show. It is also faring well internationally, with versions in territories including France and Vietnam. Talpa handles distribution.

“From the very outset, Possessed has been defined by the originality of our ideas and the quality of our delivery,” said company founder Glenn Hugill. “Adam and Lesley joining up, followed by confirmation of a double recommission of ‘5 Gold Rings,’ speaks volumes as to just how far this exceptional team can go.”

MacDonald, who worked at Channel 4, ITV, and A&E prior to leaving Sky amid a commissioning shakeup, added: “I believe Glenn is one of the very best format developers and producers there is. I have always said that it would be great to work with each other again, so it was a perfect moment when Glenn invited me to join him and his hugely impressive team at Possessed.”

China’s CGTN Boards ‘Drowning in Plastic’ Documentary

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 03:39 AM PST

China Global Television Network, the English-language news channel that is part of China Central Television, has come on board high profile environmental documentaryDrowning in Plastic.” The show is represented by all3media international, and the agreement is the first between the two companies.

CGTN comes on board as co-producer alongside Raw, and BBC One. The Chinese giant will take worldwide premiere rights, outside the U.K. “Drowning in Plastic,” will air in April as part of Big Story, CGTN‘s schedule of programming covering news and current affairs. It will be available to CGTN’s entire audience, airing in territories including Asia, Africa, the U.S., Latin America and Europe. Discovery Latin America licensed it to screen later in the year.

The show, which is available as a 90-minute special or as two hour-long episodes, sees biologist Liz Bonnin set out to reveal the full scale of the world’s plastic problem. These include probing the planet’s ‘plastic hot spots’ to meeting the animals struggling to cope with a daily deluge of plastic waste.

“Our collaborations with partners that tell stories from varied viewpoints across varied genres not only set us apart, but allow us to delve into different subject matter from multiple angles. As such, we are positioned to tell the planet’s most powerful stories in a thoughtful, nuanced manner. This story, which is as complex as it is universal, exemplifies that,” said CGTN America DG, Ma Jing.

Bertrand Tavernier Hosts Night of Cinema Inspired Orchestra in Paris

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 03:34 AM PST

Flanked by UniFrance president Serge Toubiana and the National Orchestra of France, filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier stood before a rapt crowd at Paris’ Maison de la Radio this past Saturday to introduce an evening dedicated to French film scores called “May the Music Begin!”

That moniker – a reference to the original French title of his 1975 César winner “Let The Joy Reign Supreme” – highlighted Tavernier’s personal connection to this project.

“There are many unsung heroes of French cinema,” he explained, “but none more so than our composers.”

Working on a film and subsequent eight-part series, both titled “My Journey Through French Cinema,” the filmmaker became struck by the degree to which French composers had been overlooked in the official accounts of French film history – and spent many lonely years trying to rectify that.

“For five years I felt like I was wandering in the desert,” he reflected, “and then in one fell swoop I got this call, and the result is this wonderful orchestra.”

With that, the orchestra took over and the music began. Led by conductor Philippe Béran, the musicians cycled through the standout titles of classic French cinema. They began with George Auric’s compositions for Cocteau’s “La Belle et La Bête” and then performed two pieces by Arthur Honegger, one from Raymond Bernard’s “Les Misérables” and one from Marcel Pagnol’s “Harvest.”

Next up was Jean-Jacques Grunenwald’s music for Henri Decoin’s “The Truth About Baby Donge,” which was one of the three pieces composer Louis Dunoyer de Segonzac had restored and re-arranged specifically for this concert. The other two – Jacques Iberts’ “Justin de Marseille” and Alexis Roland-Manuel’s “Stormy Waters”–were among the night’s standouts.

Indeed, the orchestra so enjoyed playing Roland-Manuel’s spiccato influenced composition – where for one segment the violinists bounced their bows off their strings to mimic the sound of rain falling on water–that they returned to it as the sole encore at the end of the evening.

Other scores included Jacques Ibert’s “Golgotha,” Darius Milhaud’s “Madame Bovary,” Henri Dutilleux’s “Devil’s Daughter” and Jean Françaix’s “Royal Affairs in Versailles.”

While they did not project any of the films to accompany the music, conductor Philippe Béran offered dramatic, highly theatrical introductions before each piece. Whether he was describing “a springtime rippling with beauty” or a segment that sounded like “the voice of God itself,” Béran’s evident enthusiasm and zeal for this material was contagious.

Jermaine Jackson accuses estranged wife of stealing royalties

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 03:00 AM PST

Jermaine Jackson alleges his estranged wife stole almost $94,000 of his music royalties.

The 64-year-old singer split from Halima Rashid – whom he married in 2004 – in June 2016 but their divorce case is still ongoing, and Jermaine has claimed in new court documents that Halima has been collecting music royalties without his permission.

According to The Blast, who obtained the documents, he claims that since December 2017, Halima has collected a total of $93,991.12 from his royalties, which he alleges he discovered late last year that she had diverted from him to her own account.

Jermaine also accuses Halima of transferring $250,000 from their community assets to a company without permission, and believes she sold off a few of their cars, despite them both having rights to the vehicles.

In a letter written by his lawyer to hers, he calls her actions “criminal” and advises them to work out a resolution over the money and property being transferred or sold.

The Blast reports Jermaine’s income is $13,952 but he has expenses totalling $10,934, which comes from an $8,000 mortgage, $1,500 in child support, and $1,000 on clothing.

Jermaine also claims to be $29,000 behind on child support payments to another woman.

In September, the ‘I Want You Back’ hitmaker was ordered to pay temporary spousal support to Halima, which was arranged before their divorce trial in December.

The payments equated to $2,500 a month and were dated back to June 1 2018 but the judge said he can pay that $10,000 in five monthly instalments.

In November 2015, Halima was arrested on a domestic violence charge amid claims she bit her husband’s leg.

She was taken into police custody, charged with felony corporal injury and released on $50,000 bail.

However, the case was dropped because prosecutors couldn’t determine who the aggressor in the fight was.

Russell Brand struggles to ‘let go’ of other people’s opinions

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 03:00 AM PST

Russell Brand finds it hard to “let go” of what other people think of him.

The 43-year-old comedian and actor – who has two-year-old Mabel and six-month-old Peggy with his wife Laura Gallacher – has had a turbulent past with addiction, and although those days are behind him, he says he still struggles to move past the preconceptions that some people still have of him.

He said: “I don’t know which of my addictions caused the most damage to other people. It’s difficult to quantify. But I tell you what is still hard. And perhaps it’s because it’s still very new. But letting go of what other people think of you, just to think you exist independently of other people’s thoughts, that’s difficult. Especially with fame and all that, and people caring about you and writing about you. When you’re famous, you’re living in someone else’s mind and perception.”

Russell admits he’s always struggled with fame and would often feel “nervous and sick” before hosting large events, and says he was “surprised” when that feeling didn’t go away the more famous he got.

He added: “I remember thinking, it’s weird, like I’m hosting these big events and stuff, and what am I going to tell people when they ask what it was like? The only thing I’m going to be able to honestly report is that I was nervous and felt sick, and I didn’t really like it.

“[I didn’t know it was wrong] because I’d never felt right. I didn’t have a good understanding of what peace of mind and serenity were. I was just surprised that it didn’t feel better to be that famous. But fame seemed so important, and everyone else was telling me it was important, and so I think, perhaps, that for me that was something I only recognised retrospectively. Because it’s very seductive.”

And Russell thinks it was only thanks to his 2011 movie ‘Arthur’ barely making a profit that he managed to snap himself out of the Hollywood lifestyle.

Speaking to the Sunday Times newspaper, he said: “So I suppose certain things not going the way I would have had them go has actually been quite opportune. Because the more my attention gravitates to the things that are quite ordinary and real and away from all that, the happier and more content and serene I am.”

Sinead O’Connor claims son has gone missing

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 03:00 AM PST

Sinead O’Connor has claimed her son has gone missing.

The 52-year-old singer – who is now also known as Shuhada’ Sadaqat after she converted to Islam – has taken to social media to claim her 14-year-old son Shane, whom she has with Donal Lunny, has been “missing for the last two days”.

In a series of tweets posted on Sunday (20.01.19), the ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ singer wrote: “My sweet 14 yr old son has been going missing a lot and is currently missing for the last two days. If you are a parent in whose house he has been staying or is staying, please call Dundrum Gardai. Not calling them is not helping him.

“This is my 14 yr old son. Missing since Friday. Last seen in Wicklow town at 7.42 pm tonight. Allegedly Headed for the home of someone called Orlando. If you see him or he is at your home please contact Dundrum or Wicklow Gardai.

“Msg for Orlando’s parents in Wicklow town. Is my baby with you? If so pls contact Dundrum Gardai. We are frantic now as he’s been awol since Friday. Apparently he told someone he was going your house. I don’t know you so i’m sorry had to tweet instead of call. (sic)”

However, it seems Sinead might have found her son, as after tweeting about him being the “sweetest boy in Wicklow town”, she followed up her tweets on Monday (21.01.19) morning with a jovial message calling him a “cheeky little monkey”.

Sinead – who also has 31-year-old son Jake, 22-year-old daughter Roisin, and 12-year-old son Yeshua – wrote: “Shane O’Connor, you cheeky little monkey. You’re too young to be on my page! It’s for over 18s. Up out of that bed or sofa now darling, its school time. I love you. When you’re 16, you get to be The General. Meanwhile its me. ; ) (sic)”

Mac Miller’s family ‘hopeful’ for Grammy win

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 03:00 AM PST

Mac Miller’s family are “really hopeful” the late rapper will win his first Grammy Award next month.

The ‘Self Care’ rapper was posthumously nominated for Rap Album of the Year for his last album ‘Swimming’ – which marked his first ever nomination at the prestigious music awards – after he tragically passed away in September at the age of 26.

And his family, who will be attending the ceremony next month on his behalf, hope the Recording Academy recognise the “important and impactful” rap album.

One source said: “Malcolm’s family was so moved when his nomination was announced. They are really hopeful that the Recording Academy will honour what they believe to be the most important and impactful rap album of the year.”

Although Mac’s family want him to bag the award, they won’t be too disheartened if he doesn’t, as insiders say they’re rooting for Cardi B – whose album ‘Invasion of Privacy’ is also nominated – if Mac doesn’t win.

Speaking to Us Weekly magazine, the source added: “It will be a bittersweet moment for them if Malcolm wins. And if he doesn’t, they’re rooting for Cardi B.”

Mac would have celebrated his 27th birthday over the weekend, and sources claimed at the time that his family were spending his birthday together so they can “surround one another with love” during the difficult day.

An insider said: “Malcolm’s family wishes that he could be at home celebrating his birthday with them and being the centre of attention like he always was, but they know he is still there in spirit with his big ol’ smile. It’s going to be a hard day for the family.

“They miss Malcolm more than words can describe, but they are grieving together and surrounding one another with love. It’s all they can do.”

And Mac’s former girlfriend Ariana Grande – who dated the rapper for two years before they split in May last year – paid a simple tribute when she posted on Twitter: “Miss u (sic)”

Prince Philip branded insensitive by crash passenger

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 02:57 AM PST

Prince Philip has been branded “insensitive and inconsiderate” by a woman who was injured in his car crash last week.

The 97-year-old royal was spoken to by police after the weekend after photographs emerged of him driving without a seatbelt, just days after his Land Rover crashed into a Ford Kia on Thursday (01.17.19).

And Emma Fairweather – who was a passenger in the other car and broke her wrist in the collision – has hit out at the prince for not taking time to “reflect” on his actions and behave responsibly before getting back behind the wheel.

Asked on UK TV show ‘This Morning’ how she’d felt when she saw the photos at the weekend, she said: “I was upset. Very upset.

“Accidents do happen but there needs to be a period of reflection on what could be done differently to prevent the same thing from happening again, it’s highly insensitive and inconsiderate towards me and the other people involved.”

The 46-year-old mother-of-two also admitted she’s feeling “very worried” because she hasn’t yet been asked to formally give a statement about the crash and it is unclear as to whether or not Philip requires insurance to drive.

She said: “There needs to be a decision as to whether Prince Philip and I are from the same walk of life, and we either receive the same treatment or we don’t.

“I’m still waiting to give a statement to police, which I’m shocked by, I haven’t had a full medical check, only my arms, I just feel his experience probably hasn’t been the same as mine…

“I need someone to understand my medical concerns, I’m very worried I haven’t been asked for a statement from police, I’m very worried – and don’t know the truth of this but some people have said the royal family don’t have to have insurance – that I’ve been injured by an uninsured driver and I don’t understand the process from here..

“I’ve contacted the family liaison officer for Norfolk Police to say I have questions, he hasn’t been prepared to listen to those.”

While Emma insists she isn’t looking for the duke to take responsibility for the crash, she just wants someone to listen to her.

Asked what she’s looking for, she said: “I think an acknowledgement, not so much an admission of responsibility, but someone I could talk to about how difficult this is for me.

“I haven’t had any support, just from my very immediate family. I want assurances this is being dealt with but you don’t know what the situation is.”

Mary Morrison, who is lady-in-waiting to Philip’s wife Queen Elizabeth, has reached out to Emma but they haven’t spoken directly.

She said: “She left me a voicemail just an hour or two before my interview with the papers became known and she said the queen wished me well and that she’d like to call me back but was going out for the evening.”

Orange Studio Sells Out ‘Serial (Bad) Weddings 2,’ ‘City Hunter’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 02:51 AM PST

Paris-based Orange Studio has nearly sold out its two French comedy highlights, Philippe de Chauveron’s “Serial (Bad) Weddings 2” and Philippe Lacheau’s “City Hunter.”

“Serial (Bad) Weddings 2,” which opened the UniFrance Rendez-Vous in Paris last week, is the sequel of the smash hit film which grossed over $148 million worldwide. The movie has been acquired for Spain (A Contracorriente), Japan (Cetera), Italy (IIF), Greece (Odeon), Germany (Neue Visionen), Austria (Filmladen), Switzerland (JMH Distributions), Benelux (Belga) and Canada (A-Z Films).

More deals were signed for Poland (Gutek), Czech Republic (Cinemart), Russia (Exponenta), Middle East and North Africa (Falcon), Baltics (A One Films), and Romania, Hungary, Moldavia (Mediasquad) and airlines (Skeye).

“Serial (Bad) Weddings 2” will be released on Jan. 30 in Paris. The sneak premieres of the movie across France have been packed. The sequel brings back the Verneuil family, an upper-class Catholic couple (Christian Clavier and Chantal Lauby) from a French province and their three daughters who have married men of different faiths.

Meanwhile, “City Hunter,” a French spinoff of the hit 1980s Japanese manga, has been picked up for Japan (New Select), South Korea (The Coup), Russia (Volga), Thailand (Sahamongkolfilm), Taiwan (Catchplay), Poland (Puls) as well as Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria (Prorom).

On top of being based on a well-known Japanese manga, “City Hunter” is directed by Lacheau who has become a staple comedy director in France with credits including the hit comedy franchise, “Babysitting” and “Alibi.com.” The anticipated comedy will be released on Feb. 6.

Along with “Serial (Bad) Weddings 2” and “City Hunter,” Orange Studio was showing four more films at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous, including Bertrand Blier’s “Convoi exceptionnel” with Gerard Depardieu and Christian Clavier.

Trailer for Rotterdam Competition Opener ‘Sons of Denmark’ Released (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 02:26 AM PST

Variety has been given exclusive access to the trailer for the opening film of Rotterdam Film Festival‘s Tiger Competition, “Sons of Denmark.”

The film is a political thriller set in Denmark in 2025, a year after a bomb attack in Copenhagen, when ethnic tensions are running high. An ultra-nationalist politician, Martin Nordahl, and his National Movement are leading in the polls, and influenced by his anti-immigrant rhetoric, society has rapidly turned on ethnic minorities.

In this climate, 19-year-old Zakaria feels compelled to act to protect his family’s safety. However, to do what he feels is necessary to turn the political tide, he needs to abandon his mother and little brother, and get involved in a radical organization.

“The film is a very personal and visual thriller that packs a powerful punch and really catches the zeitgeist of Europe today,” according to New Europe Film Sales, which is handling world sales.

The film is directed by Ulaa Salim, making his feature debut, and produced by Daniel Mühlendorph for Hyæne Film. Key cast include Zaki Youssef, Mohammed Ismail Mohammed and Rasmus Bjerg.

The Rotterdam Film Festival runs Jan. 23 to Feb. 3.

Chinese Entertainment Industry Braces for a ‘Cold Winter’ in 2019

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 02:13 AM PST

Winter is here for the Chinese entertainment industry, a half-dozen top-tier industry professionals concurred in Beijing at the launch last week of Tencent Entertainment’s annual data-filled white paper.

China’s box office hit new heights in 2018, raking in about $9 billion, but it was also a year of drastic regulatory changes and a government tax crackdown that have spooked investors and put projects across the country on hold.

“Why call this period a ‘cold winter’? In 2018, 20 film and TV companies saw RMB160 billion of stock market value evaporate, while eight saw their valuation fall by more than 50%. The departure of capital has also made the entire film industry encounter unprecedented difficulties,” said Bona Film Group CEO Yu Dong, who was present to receive an award for “trending movie figure of the year.” Bona-backed “Operation Red Sea” was the top film at the Chinese box office last year, grossing more than $530 million (RMB3.65 billion).

Zhang Liyi, chief editor of online news portal Tencent Entertainment, joked about how people had felt the impact of the slowdown personally. “Before, everyone would always ask each other at get-togethers, ‘Have you eaten? Where are you going on holiday?’ Then in 2018, the most common greetings became ‘Is your project still alive?’ ‘Did your business partner run away?’ ‘Did you finish paying your taxes?'”

The film industry was shaken last summer when superstar Fan Bingbing temporarily disappeared from the public eye and was docked nearly $70 million in fines for tax evasion. The episode sparked a governmental push to tighten tax regulations, with many production companies now slammed with requests for back taxes.

The year to come will be about finding ways to cope with a new normal, many at last Wednesday’s Tencent event said.

“Everyone in the industry has already felt it: The stage of intensive production and expansive development is actually already over,” said Yang Ruichun, deputy editor-in-chief of Tencent’s online news portal qq.com. “After the shakeup of 2018, the entertainment industry will definitely enter a new middle period of development.”

Yang said that people would need to “actively reflect and embrace change” to stay afloat in 2019: “We’re in the midst of a cold winter, and if all you do when facing it is complain, I think you may freeze to death.”

Even social media darling Angelababy, known as much for having had a plastic surgeon examine the authenticity of her preternaturally pointed face as for her acting, seemed ruminative. “I think this winter will be a remedy to rid us of our impatience and giddiness. I hope that thanks to this winter, we can really reflect on what it is exactly that we want and truly wish to accomplish.” She was present to receive an award for “star of the year.”

Tencent’s fifth annual white paper noted a number of entertainment trends in China. This year, word-of-mouth became a key determinant of box office performance. In part, that may be because more users have developed the habit of leaving online reviews. The number of people willing to write a review after seeing a movie was up 86% in 2018 from the year before, with nearly three-quarters of viewers doing so more than a day later, Tencent data showed.

“Dying to Survive” star Xu Zheng, “Detective Chinatown 2’s” Wang Baoqiang, and actor turned writer-director Huang Bo were last year’s most bankable male stars, according to a popularity index developed by Tencent. Among actresses, comediennes Bai Baihe (“Monster Hunt 2”), Zhou Dongyu and veteran Zhang Ziyi led the pack.

Even though authorities approved fewer TV shows for production in 2018 than in past years, a greater percentage of them ended up actually on air — a likely sign of both more intensive content restrictions and of the industry’s increasing maturity. In 2017, only about 29% of shows approved by authorities ultimately ended up being broadcast either online or on television. In 2018, that figure grew to 36%.

Despite the industry-wide chill, the report’s data showed that variety shows developed by online streaming platforms were a notable sector of growth, particularly “X Factor”-style reality shows minting new pop culture idols. A number of stars from the top three programs — Tencent’s “The Coming One” and “Produce 101,” and iQiyi’s “Idol Producer” — are now household names.

While the number of variety shows on traditional satellite TV channels has fallen 15.5% in the past two years to 93, the number of online streaming ones have boomed, with nearly 40% more shows in 2018 than in 2016. Online programs with more than 1 billion viewers rose from two in 2016 to 21 last year, where for the first time, two programs also broke the 5-billion-viewer threshold.

Debashish Ghosh, managing director, international, at PMC, Variety‘s parent company, attended the event as a presenter.

Indie Sales Acquires Nordic Coming-Of-Age ‘Psychobitch’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 02:08 AM PST

Paris-based company Indie Sales has acquired Martin Lund’s Norwegian coming-of-age drama “Psychobitch” which is headlined by Elli Rhiannon Müller Osbourne (“Utoya: July 22”).

“Psychobitch” marks the first feature film of Martin Lund, who made his debut with “Twigson Ties the Knot,” a local box office hit, and followed up with “The Almost Man,” which won best Film and best actor at Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Lund also directed the successful TV series “The Game,” which sold in over 40 countries.

Set in the small city of Gjøvik in Norway, “Psychobitch” follows the turbulent relationship between Frida, a 15 years-old self-chosen class outsider, and Marius, the most perfect boy in class, who are paired up as study buddies.

The film also stars Jonas Tidemann (“The Game”) and Henrik Rafaelsen (“Thelma, The almost Man”).

“‘Psychobitch’ is a very sensitive and topical Nordic coming of age, in the vein of ‘Skam,’ which resonated strongly locally and internationally, and shows perfectly this new world of the ‘Generation Perfect’ happening in Scandinavia where all kids ends up alike,” said Simon Gabriele, Indie Sales‘ head of acquisitions. The executive added that the film was a “very inspiring ode to difference.”

The film was produced by Ape&Bjørn, the well-established Scandinavian outfit whose credits include “Wajib,” “Rafiki,” “The Almost Man.”

“Psychobitch” was released in Norway on Jan. 11 and Indie Sales will host a market premiere of the movie at the European Film Market in Berlin next month.

Indie Sales’s current slate includes another coming-of-age film, Geneviève Dulude-De Celles’s “A Colony,” which will be making its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in the generation section.

Jean-Paul Gaultier’s ‘Freak And Chic’ Documentary Sells For Studiocanal (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 01:41 AM PST

Underscoring the strength and scope of French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s legacy around the world, the documentary “Jean Paul Gaultier Freak And Chic,” which chronicles the making of Gaultier’s ongoing popular show in Paris, has been luring distributors in key markets.

Sold by Studiocanal and produced by Capa, the documentary has already been picked up across Asia, in Japan (Kino), South Korea (Cree Pictures), Hong-Kong (Edko) and Taiwan (Moviecloud), as well as Australia/New Zealand (Madman), Israel (Shoval), CIS & Baltics (Pioneer) and ex-yugoslavia (MCF Megacom).

The documentary, directed by Yann L’Hénoret (“Emmanuel Macron, les coulisses d’une victoire”), followed Gaultier during six months as he put together his Fashion Freak Show which portrays his life and career’s milestone with clips from Madonna, Rossy de Palma, Line Renaud, Catherine Deneuve and Antoine de Caunes, among others. Produced by high-profile music producer Thierry Suc for the Folies Bergères cabaret in Paris, the show has been packed non-stop since September and has just been extended until late April.

Chloé Marquet, the VP of international sales at Studiocanal, said the company unveiled a trailer for the documentary at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous in Paris and treated buyers with tickets to the Fashion Freak Show at the Folies Bergeres.

“The documentary captures the spirit of the show, which is super sexy, pop, colorful and also very personal, because it’s an homage to Gaultier’s life and to his friends, some of whom died of AIDS,” said Marquet, adding that Gaultier remained an icon, especially in Asia. The executive said Studiocanal aimed at selling the documentary to all-rights buyers or streaming services who will have the option to release it in theaters, at least for a limited run to create an event.

Speaking to Variety, Suc, who has worked with some of France’s best known musicians and artists, from Mylene Farmer to Jean-Jacques Goldman and Florence Foresti, said his company TS3 was currently in discussions with companies in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Korea, Spain, Greece and Italy. Depending on the countries, the show will either been adapted or will be totally reinvented to appeal to local audiences.

Suc said Gaultier approched him years ago with the idea of the show and the pair worked hand in hand to create a lavish, near-cinematic experience and a biopic mixing cabaret with fashion shows and film talents, such as Cesar-winning helmer Tonie Marshall who co-directed the show; Marion Motin, a dancer and choreographer who’s previously worked on Madonna concerts and videos for Stromae and Christine and The Queens; and Nile Rodgers who has worked with Diana Ross, David Bowie, Madonna and Daft Punk, created the soundtrack for the Fasion Freak Show.

Blac Chyna visited by police

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 01:00 AM PST

Blac Chyna was visited by police after she was accused of being so intoxicated, she was neglecting her daughter.

LAPD officers called to the California home of the ‘Rob + Chyna’ star – who has son King Cairo, four, with former partner Tyga and two-year-old daughter Dream with ex-fiance Rob Kardashian – on Sunday (20.01.19) night after receiving an anonymous call that alleged Chyna was so drunk in her house, she was unable to properly take care of her little girl.

However, when cops got to the house, they found no one was drunk and not only was Dream being properly looked after, there was also a nanny in attendance at the property.

Sources told TMZ that earlier in the evening, the reality star had got into a fight with a member of her glam team, which may have resulted in the anonymous police complaint.

Meanwhile, the 30-year-old former make-up artist is currently locked in a legal row with Rob over an explosive argument they had in 2016, which saw Chyna allegedly damage his television and the walls, break down a door and destroy his phone.

And the 31-year-old sock designer recently claimed in court documents that he has been forced to pay out over $100,000 following the alleged incident, including hiring a team of security guards to protect him from his former partner.

Chyna had originally filed court documents stating any alleged damages she caused to his property would only total $5,000, but the ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ star alleges the total damage was substantially more.

Rob claims it cost him $17,000 to “repair and/or replace only part of the property” Chyna destroyed.

Steve Guttenberg marries

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 01:00 AM PST

Steve Guttenberg has got married.

The ‘Police Academy’ actor tied the knot with CBS-TV’s ‘Living Large’ reporter Emily Smith in a small, intimate ceremony in Malibu, California, on Saturday (19.01.19), People magazine have confirmed.

The couple first met on a blind date in 2014 after WCBS0TV’s Scott Rapoport played matchmaker and though it took two months for them to arrange a meeting, they instantly hit it off over drinks.

A year later, the pair moved in together and in December 2016, Emily revealed she had got engaged to the 60-year-old star in a Facebook post.

She shared a photo in which she was holding up her new engagement ring while the ‘Three Men and a Baby’ actor stood by her side.

The post was captioned: “Yes, yes, yes.”

Last year, the couple moved to Pacific Palisades, where Steve already owned a home.

Meanwhile, Steve – who was previously married to model Denise Bixler – recently revealed a new ‘Police Academy’ movie is in the works, much to the delight of fans.

After one of his followers urged Steve to shoot another ‘Police Academy’ film in London, he wrote on the micro-blogging platform: “Adam , the next Police Academy is coming, no details yet, but it is in a gift bag being readied! (sic)”

The ‘Police Academy’ franchise currently spans seven films, starting in 1984 and ending with 1994’s ‘Police Academy: Mission to Moscow’.

The veteran actor starred as Officer Mahoney in a number of the movies, which spawned a cartoon series and even a line of toys.

Lionel Richie’s son cautioned over bomb threat

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 01:00 AM PST

Lionel Richie’s son was cautioned by police after threatening to detonate a bomb at London’s Heathrow airport.

Miles Brockman Richie reportedly became angry on Saturday (19.01.19) after being told he couldn’t get onto a flight so allegedly claimed he was carrying explosives, which he’d unleash if he wasn’t allowed on the plane.

According to TMZ, security attended the incident and the 24-year-old model allegedly punched one of the guards, prompting police to intervene.

A police spokesperson said: “On Saturday January 19, a 24-year-old man accepted a caution for communicating false information causing a bomb hoax and battery following an incident at Heathrow Terminal 5 earlier that morning.”

A caution means a person has accepted responsibility for their behaviour but they are not arrested or charged.

If Miles had been charged over the threats, he could have faced a stint behind bars as last year, a man was sentenced to 10 months in jail for causing a bomb hoax at nearby Gatwick Airport because he was late for his flight.

Representatives for Miles and Lionel have yet to comment.

Meanwhile, the ‘Hello’ hitmaker – who has Miles and Sofia, 19, with second wife Diane Alexander, and adopted oldest daughter Nicole with his first wife Brenda Harvey – previously credited his son’s birth for pulling him out of a particularly low period in his life.

He said: “My father was ill and I went through a very, I won’t say a depression, a massive depression … my dad was my hero. I went through that whole period of my life.

“It was something about the birth of my kid. Miles came along, Nicole was already there, I realised I had a group of people looking up to me to be the head of the house. They didn’t know what the hell I did for a living so I thought at that particular point, let’s go back and prove to the kids what I do. I realised, this is what I should be doing.”

Korea Box Office: ‘MAL·MO·E’ and ‘Inside Me’ Remain on Top

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 12:13 AM PST

There was no change at the top of the Korean box office, as local titles “MAL·MO·E: The Secret Mission” and “Inside Me (a.k.a. The Dude in Me)” dominated a second weekend. Lotte’s “MAL·MO·E” earned $4.79 million from 618,000 admissions between Friday and Sunday for a total of $16.7 million from 2.23 million admissions after two weekends. Merry Christmas’ “Inside” earned $3.78 million for a two-weekend total of $12.2 million. The two films together accounted for 56.8% of the total weekend box office.

Opening on Thursday, American sci fi drama “Glass” debuted in third. Handled in Korea by Disney, the film earned $2.78 million over four days. Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” earned $1.02 million between Friday and Sunday to extend its three-weekend total to $11.3 million.

Korean animation, “Underdog” opened on Wednesday and landed in fifth. The Next Entertainment World release earned $857,000 over its five opening days. The animated feature was the opening title at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in 2018.

Two other animated features, “Dino Mecard: Tiny Saur’s Island” and Japan’s “Mirai” took sixth and seventh, respectively. “Dino Mecard” earned $381,000 for a total of $2.59 million after two weekends. Distributed by Megabox, “Mirai” earned $571,000 in five days, including some $354,000 over the weekend. The Mamoru Hosoda film screened at the Busan International Film Festival last year.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” added $319,000 to extend its twelve-weekend total to $76.1 million. It took eighth place in revenue terms, beating “Duck Duck Goose,” which grossed $280,000 over the same period, but sold fewer tickets than the American animation.

STEVE KING

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

This artwork by Joe Fournier refers to Congressman Steve King’s racist remarks about white supremacy.

STEVE KING

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

This artwork by Joe Fournier refers to Congressman Steve King’s racist remarks about white supremacy.

WILLIAM BARR

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

This artwork by Paul Tong refers to William Barr and his confirmation hearing for attorney general.

TRUMP

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

This artwork by Jennifer Kohnke refers to Donald Trump and allegations that he is a Russian agent working for Putin.

WILLIAM BARR

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

This artwork by Paul Tong refers to William Barr and his confirmation hearing for attorney general.

NANCY PELOSI

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

This artwork by Nancy Ohanian refers to Nancy Pelosi and her new power as speaker of the House.

BREXIT

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

This artwork by Mark Weber refers Great Britain and their Brexit fight.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

Posted: 21 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

This artwork by M. Ryder refers to Rev. Martin Luther King and the national holiday named in his honor.