It’s weird to say this about a Disney-owned film in a franchise that has arguably made war more popular and famous than any other film could, but The Last Jedi is different. It’s a film that “struggles to distance itself from the most toxic elements of Star Wars in order to chart a more progressive terrain.”
“The five-year grant will fund a localized version of “Sesame Street,” distributed through television and digital devices, and home visits using “Sesame Street” content for an estimated 1.5 million children. Instead of the stars that Americans grew up with, like Big Bird, Elmo and Oscar the Grouch, the characters would be tailored to the region, speaking Arabic and Iraqi Kurdish.”
“An unnamed FBI agent who watched the film as part of a larger FBI program aimed at detecting and neutralizing Commie influences in Hollywood … uncovered that ‘those responsible for making It’s a Wonderful Life had employed two common tricks used by Communists to inject propaganda into the film.'”
The two were suspended two weeks ago over allegations of “inappropriate conduct”; following an investigation, they were dismissed on Thursday. “It’s a stunning end for two of WNYC’s most recognizable voices: Lopate interviewed everyone from Barack Obama to Liza Minnelli on his long-running weekday show, while Schwartz maintained a devoted following for his weekend program dedicated to the American Songbook.”
Kathleen Kennedy has set her sights on perhaps the most pernicious industry villain of all: sexual misconduct and abuse. She is spearheading the creation of an anti-harassment commission, backed by more than two dozen of the entertainment industry’s biggest bigwigs, that, in a stroke of marquee casting, will be led by Anita Hill.
Justice League, Bohemian Rhapsody, and more than one Star Wars film had directors quit or get fired in the middle of the project. “The person in the director’s chair has come to be increasingly viewed as a more disposable commodity than the intellectual property he or she was entrusted to bring to the screen. To hear it from a writer-director who has long operated at the highest echelons of popcorn movie-making, … this anti-auteur shift occurred over the last two years.”
It took Netflix 39 months to accumulate 1 million monthly subscribers and it has only taken monthly movie ticket service MoviePass four months to clear that mark.
“Some working actors would see their taxes almost quadruple, according to an analysis by the stage actors union Actors’ Equity. The new bill appears to be regressive: the poor suffer the worst increases, the middle-class gets hit hard, and the wealthy benefit from tax cuts. The same effect will hit writers, directors and screen and television actors. Producers could be affected too, as well as below-the-line workers with agents or other significant business expenses.”
The company is going through a boom period: MoviePass saw 150,000 new signups in just two days when it dropped its price back in August. But if it does go under, those subscribers will have to return to paying between $10 to $15 for a single ticket. After three months with the service, I don’t think I could do that. MoviePass changes almost everything about the theater experience, when the cost of entry is virtually zero.
Back in the day, things were … easier. Now you need a case with the correct – and very rare – blue Vis markers, Post-It notes on the items, and a lot of cash (Mark Hamill – Luke Skywalker, obviously – charges $295, for instance). Or you can buy them from Disney itself. “Yet there is something about the ‘quality, authentic experience’ that is lost when you can order an autograph online or pick one up from a Disney World gift shop.”
What even is the movie Casablanca without Nazis, without fighting Nazis, without singing the Marseillaise in front of Nazis? Well … “Resistance fighter Victor Laszlo became a Norwegian atomic physicist, renamed Victor Larsen, who discovers mysterious delta rays and is on the run from Interpol.”
It would be hard to overstate the impact the art house’s owners, Daniel and Toby Talbot, have had in shaping art film reception in New York. The building it’s in, and the theatre itself, need upgrades, but there’s also this: “Moviegoers increasingly want ‘the experience,’ [an assistant manager] said, such as reclining seats and huge screens. ‘We don’t have that stuff. … Here, it’s all about the movie.'”
Things might be a fire dump of terrible for women in Hollywood, as revealed by all too many #metoo stories (and oh yes, there are many more to come), but at least a few roles weren’t too bad this year: “Movie mothers tend to be monsters (Mommie Dearest, Carrie, Precious, Animal Kingdom), angels (Bambi, The Grapes of Wrath) or just a bit nothing-y (pretty much everything else). That, however, could be changing. While 2017 has been an awful year for women in film in most respects, it has thrown up a riot – or whatever the collective noun for mums ought to be – of complex on-screen mothers.”
And wow, is this deal going to affect everything in Hollywood. “The film business has not seen significant consolidation in generations — perhaps not since 1935, when 20th Century Pictures and Fox Film merged to form 20th Century Fox, going on to deliver classics like ‘How Green Was My Valley,’ ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘Wall Street.’ Now that Disney is a content colossus, analysts expect a wave of Hollywood mergers, as companies like Viacom, CBS, Sony, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer look to gain scale.”
The type of shameless promotion that YouTubers engage in on a daily basis is radically different from what Vaccarino had experienced with traditional artists. “When it comes to selling something, with bands and traditional musicians, it’s not their priority. They’re like, ‘How do I make good music?’ And just assume the money will follow. They will be apologetic about selling merch. YouTubers are like, ‘How can I sell as much as possible to these fans who want to be sold to?’”
The motion to prioritize female visibility at the televised event is designed to be a response to the slew of sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood. Traditionally, a man and a women have been paired to present each category’s winner at the SAG awards. The ceremony’s list of presenters have not yet been released.
When allegations of sexual abuse and harassment by Spacey came out in the fall, he became PR poison, and all Hollywood ran the other way. Sony was inclined to withdraw the planned Christmas release All the Money in the World, in which Spacey played the late billionaire J. Paul Getty III – until director Ridley Scott convinced the studio to let him – on an incredibly tight schedule – reshoot and splice in Getty’s scenes with Christopher Plummer in the role. Brooks Barnes reports on how they pulled it off.
“Since Harvey Weinstein’s unraveling, the list of cultural heavy-hitters accused of sexual misconduct has been growing at a dizzying clip, particularly in Hollywood. Enter Rotten Apples: a searchable database introduced on Tuesday that informs users which films or television shows are connected to those accused of sexual harassment or worse.”
“[An] investigation found credible allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates, sources said…. In general, witnesses described Smiley as creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment that went beyond what could be expected in a typical high-pressure work environment.”
“The Walt Disney Company said on Thursday that it had reached a deal to buy most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, the conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, in an all-stock transaction valued at roughly $52.4 billion. … The once unthinkable acquisition promises to reshape Hollywood and Silicon Valley.”
Alwan is an independent Syrian news station broadcasting into that devastated country every day. It “provides much-needed news updates to information-starved Syrians and also runs popular entertainment programs and controversial discussions. After being forced to move its operations to Turkey, the voice of Radio Alwan still provides comfort to thousands of Syrians, at great risk to the individuals within Syria who help create the station’s programs.”
Although satellite television and video downloads have made the ban on commercial theaters all but moot, the announcement highlights the diminishing power of the kingdom’s conservative clerics. The grand mufti, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, publicly called commercial films a source of “depravity” and opposed the opening of movie theaters as recently as a few months ago.