“Without that truth-seeking ecosystem of healthy small- and mid-size daily newspapers to explain national news in terms local readers can understand, Americans are left stewing in separate echo chambers, one urban, educated, and liberal, the other working-class, rural, and spoiling for a fight. Not only do the inhabitants of these echo chambers not talk to each other; they barely speak the same language.”
The film about Hollywood – perhaps unsurprisingly – looks like it will cruise to an Oscar Best Movie win. Then there’s Viola Davis, “probably the single most purely charismatic performer of all the nominated talent on show at the Baftas, and it is excellent that she has won best supporting actress for her supremely intelligent and sympathetic portrayal of the long-suffering Rose Maxson in the sonorous drama Fences. There aren’t many actors who can stand up to Denzel Washington in full flood and match him in acting power line for line, speech for speech, but that is what Viola Davis does. It is masterclass stuff.”
Not only did this weekend top ratings for the comedy sketch show, which starred Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer and Alec Baldwin as the president, but the season overall is doing really well. “Viewership of the show for the season to date is up 22% in total viewers (10.6 million) and 19% in adults 18-49 (3.5) compared to the same period last season. That makes it the most-watched ‘SNL’ season in 22 years, since the 1994-95 frame.”
The real question is whether the NYT can make itself “indispensable” to the lives of its subscribers. “The main goal isn’t simply to maximize revenue from advertising—the strategy that keeps the lights on and the content free at upstarts like the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and Vox. It’s to transform the Times’ digital subscriptions into the main engine of a billion-dollar business, one that could pay to put reporters on the ground in 174 countries even if (OK, when) the printing presses stop forever.
The show is edited for length and then broadcast “two hours after the ceremony takes place – but the programme-makers [will] do their best to reflect the essence of any speeches made. ‘This is not a political event,’ the spokesperson said. ‘Actors and actresses have a right to air their views. It’s our duty to reflect their views.'”
“Pirate content is back in the news with a court case by the Motion Picture Association, which represents Disney, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios and Warner Bros, against nine Irish internet service providers or ISPs.”
“The Los Angeles city attorney cracked down on Hollywood’s pay-to-play casting workshop scene on Thursday, announcing cases against five prominent casting firms and 25 individuals allegedly involved in schemes that violate the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act, a rarely enforced state labor law.”
Hollywood keeps trying to make one, but time after time, it seems, they’re critical disasters and U.S. box-office bombs (though some do wery well overseas). Top directors tend to either avoid the genre or try it once, get burned, and then avoid it. Is a truly good big-screen adaptation of a video game even possible? Yes, argues David Sims, and, arguably, it’s happened already.
“Frustration was in the air at the Makers conference, where hundreds of women gathered for three days in Rancho Palos Verdes to network and hear female celebrities and luminaries speak. Just weeks after the Women’s March and the inauguration of a president who has bragged on tape about sexually assaulting women, Hollywood women in particular were openly critical of the way they’d been treated in their professional lives.”
It took one news report that Donald Trump was upset that SNL cast a woman as Sean Spicer for Twitter to erupt with calls for the show to cast Trump’s number one bête noire, Rosie O’Donnell, as Steve Bannon. Megan Garber points out that this is no longer just a joke: “It operated on the premise that jokes can effect significant changes in the daily operations of the White House.” (We want Steve Buscemi as Kellyanne Conway!)
“The modestly budgeted $25-million drama has shot past $100 million and is the best word-of-mouth title (judged by audience retention) at the multiplex — the movie has left audiences in tears, and Hollywood scrambling to explain its success.”
Humiliation. In a Q&A, the filmmaker, up for what could be his second Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar (though he won’t be at the ceremony), talks about the painful dynamic between the couple at the center of the story.
United Talent Agency (UTA) on Wednesday canceled its annual Oscars party and said it will instead hold a rally in Beverly Hills two days before the Feb. 26 Oscar ceremony to protest “anti-immigrant sentiment” in the United States. “If our nation ceases to be the place where artists the world over can come to express themselves freely, then we cease, in my opinion, to be America,” UTA chief executive Jeremy Zimmer said in a statement.
“Five of the 10 feature-length and short documentaries nominated for Oscars are directly or indirectly about refugees. … Several of the documentarians wanted to bring their subjects to the Oscar ceremony, but plans were upended by President Trump’s [travel ban].” So the Times‘s Carpetbagger asked what they’d say if they got the chance.
“So for KPCC, our CPB grant comes to about 5 percent of our overall operating budget. For stations in Alaska, for stations in a number of rural states, it’s as high as 40 percent. So there’s a real disparity in the impact that would have between rural and urban stations, and I think from a public policy perspective, that’s a concern.”
Ian Crouch: “In other times, the [Anheuser-Busch] commercial – a cinematic, and partly fictionalized, depiction of the journey that the company’s co-founder, Adolphus Busch, made from Germany to St. Louis in the mid-nineteenth century – would not have drawn much attention.
But these are not other times.”
“An Indian court has ordered filmmakers to cut four scenes from a forthcoming Bollywood movie after ruling that they show lawyers in a bad light, media reports said on Tuesday.”
In a statement posted to its website, the company said that the decision was made “only after careful consideration and was based on data and traffic.” It added, “We have concluded that IMDb’s message boards are no longer providing a positive, useful experience.”
“While Budweiser’s ad represents a glowing representation of the American dream, the truth is more complicated and, in fact, reflects a history of immigration that reverberates today.”
Raoul Peck, the director of “I Am Not Your Negro,” worked on James Baldwin’s writing for 30 years, and the movie for a decade. “The film was always experimenting with real feelings, with real stuff. … Each layer you add has a consequence. This is what I call montage filmmaking.”
And it was a political night at the DGA. DGA president Paris Barclay opened that with a clearly aimed statement: “If any person or any group of people, in the name of greater greatness, chooses to block, or to prevent, or to scapegoat, or to separate, or to divide the very people who are all about bringing people together, then we are going to stand with those people.”
First, there are the long, slow pans of the skyline. Then there’s the accent. And then, the people. “More often than not, either the portrayal is lazy, played out and riddled with cliches, or it’s broadened into a comedy routine to go down more easily.”
And what does The Crown, for instance, have to do with “the long history of Brexit”? “If its creators are up to the task, the series might well end up less a chronicle of a ruler than a dramatization of the referendum’s long history.”
Alfonso Cuarón’s son filmed a DVD extra for the 2011 film Gravity, starring an Inuit actor and community theatre director from Greenland. The extra film did so well that there was talk of a separate Oscar nomination for it – but the actor was paid a total of $4,000 and didn’t even know the film had done so well until NPR told him.
But the current “distant” fourth-place studio isn’t alone: “It is a crisis Sony shares with its Hollywood peers. In the UK and the US, revenue from streaming and downloads of films and TV shows passed sales of DVDs and Blu-ray discs for the first time last year.”
Well, this is even more dramatic than a Bond flick: “For nearly a month Hamilton managed to avoid detection before escaping back to safety in England. Ten days later the escape route used by the Resistance was uncovered by the Nazis.”
“The suggestion that the Oscars be canceled this year stems in part from principle. The idea of artists being barred from attending the ceremony because of their country of origin is markedly against the global principles of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Though it’s often derided for its stodgy choices, the Best Foreign Language Film category does bring wider attention to international filmmaking.”
For instance, sex: “According to Hollywood, women can have completely satisfying sexual experiences without ever taking off their bras, and manage to reach euphoric orgasms within minutes. Girls never bothered with any of these tropes. From the show’s first episode, the sex was sweaty, it was weird, it was jiggly, it was unflattering. Which is to say: It was realistic.”
A Univision spokesman said Wednesday that customers in 37 markets, including New York and Los Angeles, home to large Hispanic communities, have lost access to Univision, the most popular Spanish-language network.
“Equally impressive are Facebook’s usage numbers: The social network attracted 1.23 billion daily active users in December on average, including 1.15 billion mobile daily actives, with the latter being up 23% year-over-year. And 1.74 billion of Facebook’s 1.86 billion monthly active users were on mobile devices for at least some of their visits.”