“[The Pacifica Foundation] is at risk of asset seizure following a judgment in October that ordered the network to pay $1.8 million in back rent plus interest to the Empire State Realty Trust. The rent is for the transmitter of WBAI, Pacifica’s New York City station. … Pacifica’s total debt is roughly $8 million, including roughly $2.4 million to Democracy Now! Productions. The network is also in arrears for pension payments.”
Wesley Morris: “This is a revenge movie that’s also a dead-child tragedy that’s also a local-law-enforcement comedy that leaves room for physical comedy, cancer and a bad date. … Meanwhile, the issues of the day come and go: brutal police, sexual predators, targeted advertising. It’s like a set of postcards from a Martian lured to America by a cable news ticker and by rumors of how easily flattered and provoked we are.”
“It’s easy to criticize Hollywood’s current moment of reckoning for coming off as superficial. You can wear black to a couple award ceremonies and say the right lines in interviews, but does it really mean you’re working to effect systemic change behind the scenes? The All the Money in the World situation served as a reminder of how, for actors, preserving their public image is often more important than the money they stand to make.”
Whitney Cummings, co-showrunner of the revived sitcom, wanted to break beyond the liberal media bubble: “Since tweeting wasn’t working, maybe giving my brain to a show that touched the hearts and got the eyeballs of so many working-class people is how I could finally do my part to help us all make sense of the election. … This show is not about Trump – it’s about the circumstances that made people think Trump was a good idea.”
“In a nation always on the go, it does seem as if the most serious intellectual production and consumption has been confined to the cloisters of higher education, where an elite professoriate soaks in high ideas in paneled seminar rooms safe from the hurly-burly of daily life. But what if a technology was able to bridge the gap, accommodating our culture’s hyperkinetic habits while also bringing to it gems of intellectual wealth from the ivory tower? To a large extent this is exactly what the best educational podcasts—which stress learning for the sake of learning—are doing.”
Eric Nuzum, who spent two decades in public radio before moving into digital audio: “The unspoken groupthink at work … is that an idea cannot have both merit and risk at the same time. Resources are precious. Time is limited. As guardians of public funds, it is imperative that public radio’s decision-makers ensure that they invest in winners. Every time. This philosophy is a petri dish for failure. And not the good kind of failure.”
Leading telenovela star Pablo Azar, who led the campaign to join SAG-AFTRA: “Sometimes you shoot 40 scenes in one single day. So it’s very demanding. … Usually you have better conditions in the US than in countries like Mexico, Colombia. But funny enough, for actors it’s backwards. Actors have better working conditions in Mexico than they have here in Miami. At least, I’m talking about Hispanic actors.”
The #TimesUp movement got what founder Amber Tamblyn described as the second donation from a man “in our business” when Mark Wahlberg, who was paid $1.5 million to reshoot the movie All the Money in the World while star Michelle Williams was paid union minimum of $80/day, donated his salary for the movie to the group. The two actors share the agents William Morris Endeavor, which pledged $500,000 as well.
“First, men clearly outnumber women four-to-one among producers, directors, cinematographers, writers, and key assistants. Second, every movie or miniseries is essentially a miniature start-up, where predators and jerks can abuse or harass actors and assistants knowing they might never have to work them again after a three-month shoot. Finally, actresses are vulnerable, not only because men dominate powerful occupations, but also because women are cast to portray the very quality of vulnerability.”
YouTube appears to be stepping up its response after it was also widely criticized for its initial statement that it released on the video last week, which read, in part, “YouTube prohibits violent or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational or disrespectful manner.” Many saw the platform as issuing a milquetoast condemnation that did not directly address the way the video treated suicide.
“Now, no movie is one thing. … And so Three Billboards is about grief and anger, parental and police responsibility, truth and reconciliation. But it is also about class and race in rural America – and the levels to which [filmmaker Martin] McDonagh doesn’t actually investigate or interrogate his own storytelling decisions in that regard are frustrating.”
“We have found that year after year, when a film has at least one female director, the percentage of female protagonists goes up… people tend to create what they know. When you have women working behind the scenes that frequently translates into more female characters on screens and you tend to see more powerful female characters.”
Last week, a group called the Higher Education Video Game Alliance, which describes itself as a platform for higher education leaders to “underscore the cultural, scientific and economic importance of video game programs in colleges and universities,” published a statement that strongly objected to the WHO classification. The alliance described the proposal as “premature” and said it was based on research into gaming addiction that showed “a clear lack of consensus” from scientists and doctors.
“Ridley Scott’s Getty kidnapping drama was hastily reshot the week of Thanksgiving after a cascade of sexual misconduct allegations were made public against Kevin Spacey, who previously starred in the drama as billionaire J. Paul Getty. … But new information reveals ugly math behind the Hollywood victory.”
“Leila Amer will detained for four days, according to reports, while authorities investigate her video for the song ‘Boss Oumek’ (‘Look At Your Mother’), which includes ‘suggestive’ dancing and gestures.” (The complaining attorney called it a “moral disaster” and “an attack on society and the destruction of the state.”) “Ms Amer’s case occurs less than a month after a fellow singer [called Shyma] was sentenced to two years in prison over a raunchy video.”
“Guillermo Del Toro’s fantasy epic about a woman who falls in love with a sea monster … picked up 12 nominations, including best film and best director, as well as a best actress pick for Sally Hawkins and best supporting actress for Octavia Spencer. Darkest Hour and Three Billboards [Outside Ebbing, Missouri] each received nine nominations, including best film and outstanding British film.” Biggest snub: The Post, completely shut out.
“The western really tells you where the world is,” says Antoine Fuqua, director of the remake of The Magnificent Seven, which, released nearly 18 months ago, tells a fairly prescient story of where the US is currently heading. “We’re still dealing with people who are terrorising other people. We’re still dealing with people abusing other people, burning up the churches, killing people in the streets.”
Sure, Lady Bird won two big awards, Get Out was wildly snubbed, and Laura Dern gave a great speech (here’s a list of the winners from The New York Times). But all eyes and ears were on Oprah, who wound up a rousing speech after winning the Cecil B. DeMille award like this: “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. … But their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up.”
Well, there’s the everyone wearing black to protest sexual assault in Hollywood part; there’s the no-Trump-jokes from host Seth Myers part; and then there are the awards themselves. “The annual Oscar race, which starts with festival screenings in late summer, has been unusually chaotic this time around. For various reasons — Hollywood’s attention has been elsewhere, the plethora of strong choices in some categories and few in others — consensus has yet to form. So the Globes could bring some clarity.”
Interesting, in the year of the Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement. “You could argue that in a year when powerful men were named and shamed, it is fitting that powerful women are to the fore. Maybe it is a coincidence, not least when you consider how long it takes for a film to be made. But bear in mind, the last time the top three films were fronted by women was back in 1958.”
Well, this is fun to know: “Traffic to the queen’s Wikipedia page peaked on Dec. 10, when the second season of ‘The Crown’ started streaming. The entry about Princess Margaret (played by Vanessa Kirby) spiked on the same day, and hit No. 37 on the list, just behind Melania Trump. (“I haven’t watched ‘The Crown,’ so I can’t really comment on the version of Princess Margaret that is drawing viewers to this site,” one Wiki editor wrote.) Prince Philip‘s page hits its peak in May when Buckingham Palace announced his retirement in real life, though he’s also played by Matt Smith in ‘The Crown’; he’s No. 44, between ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ and ‘Star Wars.'”
“I still don’t have a programmatic answer about that. I feel like everybody, critics or fans or whatever, figures out where to draw their own lines and how to deal with every case. … I think there is a rush to disown a lot these guys, to make them disappear, and I think that that is certainly warranted morally in a lot of ways, but I think it lets other people off the hook.” (podcast with transcript)
“The report, commissioned by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, surveyed 1,100 films made in the last 11 years, and found that just 4% were directed by women – which equates to 22 male directors hired for every woman. … Furthermore, just 5.2% of all directors – male and female – were black or African American, and 3.2% were Asian.”
“This year’s anguished discourse about art and artists underscores that criticism is rooted in lived experience. There’s no right or wrong way to review (well, there is, but that’s a discussion for another time). But I’m as impatient with critics who embrace self-serving auteurist fundamentalism or aesthetic formalism as I am with those belligerent fan boys who insist that only a comic-book obsessive can review a superhero movie. None of these camps want their pleasures challenged or their bubble worlds burst by reminders that a cherished director, say, denigrates women. I mean, by all means enjoy! But don’t expect me to shut up about it.”