James Franco Accused of Inappropriate Behavior by Five Women


By Alex Stedman

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Five women have come forward to accuse James Franco of sexually inappropriate or exploitative behavior in a report published Thursday by the Los Angeles Times .

Four of the women were former acting students of Franco’s, including Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who attended Franco’s Studio 4 that abruptly closed last fall. Tither-Kaplan said she was cast in an unreleased film, “The Long Home,” as a prostitute, and was asked, along with other women, if she would appear in a “bonus scene” depicting an orgy, where Franco would simulate oral sex on the women.

However, in each instance, Tither-Kaplan said, Franco removed the plastic guard that covered the women’s vaginas before simulating oral sex. Another actress who participated in the shoots confirmed Tither-Kaplan’s account to the Times.

“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” Tither-Kaplan said.

Two other women, Hilary Dusome and Natalie Chmiel, spoke about Franco’s behavior at Playhouse West, where he served as an acting teacher before starting Studio 4. Both recalled a “hostile” shoot at a strip club, where Franco allegedly approached the actresses and asked if they wanted to take their shirts off. When no actresses volunteered, Dusome said, Franco stormed off. Chmiel remembered Franco being “visibly angry” when the women declined to take their shirts off.

Katie Ryan, who took several classes at Studio 4, said Franco “would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts.” She also said that Franco would often send mass emails about auditions for hooker or prostitute roles.

A fifth accuser, Violet Paley, was not a student of Franco’s, but said he offered to give her notes on a script. Paley claimed that Franco later pressured her into performing oral sex on him while the two were sitting in her car.

“I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out,” she said. “I got really nervous, and I said, ‘Can we do this later?’ He was kind of nudging my head down, and I just didn’t want him to hate me, so I did it.”

Paley said she told Franco that someone had spotted them in her car in order to stop the act.

The Times report comes days after Franco won a best actor Golden Globe for his work in “The Disaster Artist.” Franco wore a Time’s Up pin to the ceremony in solidarity with the movement against sexual harassment and abuse, a move that prompted several women — including Tither-Kaplan and Paley — to come forward against Franco on Twitter.

On Tuesday, a New York Times event featuring Franco was canceled as backlash grew on social media. That same night, Franco appeared on “The Late Show,” where he denied the social media allegations to Stephen Colbert.

“In my life, I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I’ve done,” he said. “I have to do that to maintain my well-being. I do it whenever I know that there’s something wrong that needs to be changed, I make it a point to do it.”

“The things that I heard were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn’t have a voice for so long,” he added.

A rep for Franco did not immediately respond for a request for comment. Franco’s lawyer, however, denied the claims to the Times, and pointed to Franco’s comments on “The Late Show.”

YouTube pares back Logan Paul partnership after suicide video post

Logan Paul arrives at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. August 13, 2017. Picture taken August 13, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – YouTube said Wednesday it is removing popular American vlogger Logan Paul from its Google Preferred platform and putting future projects with him on hold, after Paul posted a video on the platform of a suicide victim in Japan.

“In light of recent events, we have decided to remove Logan Paul’s channels from Google Preferred. Additionally, we will not feature Logan in season 4 of ‘Foursome’ and his new Originals are on hold,” Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, said in a statement.

Google Preferred features YouTube’s most popular content in packages for sale to advertisers. Paul, 22, is one of YouTube’s top content creators, regularly drawing millions of views from his mainly youth-orientated audience.

Paul also had projects in the works with YouTube’s premium subscription service, YouTube Red, and appeared on the platform’s web series “Foursome.”

Representatives for Paul did not immediately return requests from Reuters for comment.

Paul apologized in a YouTube video titled “So Sorry” last week for posting the video that showed him and his friends laughing about the body they filmed hanging on a tree in Japan’s “suicide forest.”

Paul said he had made a “huge mistake” and was ashamed of himself, and he deleted the video after it caused a social media backlash.

YouTube in an open letter on Tuesday said it was “upset by the video that was shared last week,” saying that “suicide is not a joke, nor should it ever be a driving force for views.”

The company said Paul’s video violated its guidelines and it was “looking at further consequences.”

Paul has not posted any videos in the past week, saying he was “taking time to reflect.”

Paul’s channel, Logan Paul Vlogs, which has more than 15 million subscribers, is still active on YouTube and advertisers can still choose to advertise on his videos, or they can opt out.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Spiders and fleas pack Albert Hall as Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo hits London

FILE PHOTO – Canada’s Cirque du Soleil perform a preview of their new show ‘OVO’ (meaning egg in Portugese) – A teeming world of insects, in Montreal April 7, 2009. OVO will have its world premiere in Montreal on May 8, 2009 and will travel to Quebec City and Toronto before touring the USA. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

LONDON (Reuters) – London’s Royal Albert Hall was crawling with spiders, crickets, ants and fleas on Wednesday as Cirque du Soleil brought its insect-themed show Ovo to the famous venue for the first time.

‘Ovo’, which means egg in Portuguese, is about a day in the life of a community of 17 insects – portrayed by humans, not by insects – and how they cope with the arrival of a mysterious egg and the foreigner inside.

The show features eye-catching aerial displays to vibrant South American musical rhythms and is the 25th live production from Cirque du Soleil, the one-time Canadian street performer troupe that grew into a global circus and entertainment colossus.

Artistic director Tim Bennett said the show, which has been seen by over 5 million people since its premiere in Montreal eight years ago also carried an important message about social inclusion.

“It’s an insular colony of insects into which walks a foreigner, and he’s initially rejected because he’s different,” Bennett told Reuters.

“As they get to know him they realize that he’s actually much more similar to them than he is different.”

Ovo opens on Wednesday and runs for eight weeks.

(Reporting by Sarah Mills; Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Actor Michael Douglas makes pre-emptive move to deny sexual misconduct

Actor Michael Douglas arrives for the Chaplin Awards at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Oscar winning actor Michael Douglas has issued a pre-emptive denial of a sexual misconduct accusation, saying he wanted to get ahead of a potential story being investigated by Hollywood publications.

In a lengthy interview with entertainment industry website Deadline.com, published late on Tuesday, Douglas denied that he had masturbated in front of a woman who worked for him about 32 years ago.

“This is a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever,” Douglas said.

The accusation by the unidentified woman has not been published but Douglas said he had been informed by his attorneys in December that The Hollywood Reporter and other publications were investigating her claim.

“I felt the need to get ahead of this,” Douglas, 73, told Deadline.

“I had the choice of waiting for a story to come out, one that will clearly get picked up by other newspapers and magazines, and then I have to sit there and try to defend myself.”

The double Oscar-winner is the second celebrity to get his version of events out before being publicly accused of sexual impropriety in a scandal that has rocked Hollywood and led to many men being fired or cut out of projects.

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock posted a social media message last month saying he was “part of the problem,” saying he had in the past been accused of rape and had settled a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Douglas told Deadline he had been informed by his attorney that the woman also accused him of using coarse language around her, but not to her, and claimed that he had “blackballed” her in the industry after firing her.

The actor denied blackballing the women but admitted using “colorful language” in conversations with friends in his home and office.

Douglas said he supported the #MeToo movement by those breaking their silence over past sexual harassment, and that he had the support of his wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, and his children.

Representatives of the actor did not respond on Wednesday to a Reuters request for further comment.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)

Fans shake, rattle and roll at Australia’s Elvis festival

An Elvis Presley impersonator talks on his phone before boarding the Elvis Express train at Sydney’s Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Hundreds of hip-shaking and wig-wearing Elvis Presley lookalikes and fans of the late King of Rock and Roll took trains from Sydney bound for Australia’s annual Elvis festival on Thursday.

Strains of “I Was The One” rang out along the platforms of Sydney’s Central railway terminal as jumpsuited, coiffed and guitar-wielding passengers boarded the “Elvis Express” and “Blue Suede Express” bound for the country town of Parkes, some 357 km (222 miles) westward.

“Elvis is close to my heart because we grew up with Elvis in India,” Alfred Vaz, who dressed in a blue flared jumpsuit and also goes by his stage name of Bollywood Elvis, or Raja, told Reuters television beside the locomotive.

“From a very little kid, we always used to gyrate and try sing Elvis like: One for the money, two for the show,” he said, launching in to a rendition of “Blue Suede Shoes”.

During the six-hour train trip over mountains and through wheatfields and grazing pastures, Elvis tribute artists will entertain the passengers.

The festival, in its 26th year, is expected to attract about 25,000 people to Parkes, more than doubling its population for the duration of the four-day event.

The focus this year is on celebrating 50 years since Presley’s 1968 “comeback special,” an intimate and unplugged show credited with reviving his then-flagging recording career.

Street markets, lookalike contests, parades, a car show, displays of Presley artefacts and tribute performances are planned.

“It’s a must for all Elvis fans,” said tribute artist Kingsley Rock, whose website promises: “If you want the King to sing at your thing, give me a ring.”

“Its just one big party and everyone there loves Elvis, why wouldn’t you not come back year after year,” he told Reuters.

(Reporting by Jill Gralow and James Redmayne. Writing by Tom Westbrook, Editing by Michael Perry)

Jimmy Iovine says not leaving Apple: Variety

FILE PHOTO: Music producer Jimmy Iovine poses at LACMA’s 50th anniversary gala in Los Angeles, California, April 18, 2015. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

(Reuters) – Music mogul Jimmy Iovine is committed to staying at Apple Inc’s music streaming service, according to a report by Variety on Tuesday.

“I am committed to doing whatever Eddy [Cue], Tim [Cook] and Apple need me to do, to help wherever and however I can, to take this all the way,” Iovine told the publication in an interview.

Last week, Billboard magazine reported that Iovine would leave Apple Music in August. The report also stated that his departure is likely timed to his Apple shares fully vesting.

“All this stuff you’re seeing in the newspapers, let me tell you, my stock vested a long time ago,” Iovine told Variety.

Iovine, best known as the co-founder of Interscope Records, joined Apple in 2014 after the company bought Beats Electronics, a company that he co-founded with hip-hop artist and producer Dr Dre for $3 billion.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Trump says he would beat Oprah Winfrey in White House race

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he could beat Oprah Winfrey in a presidential race, while one of Winfrey’s closest friends said the media mogul and actress was “intrigued” by the possibility of running but was not considering it now.

Speculation about a 2020 White House bid by Winfrey blew up on social media and news outlets after her rousing “new day” speech at the Golden Globes awards show on Sunday night, which touched on female and black empowerment, her roots in poverty and support of those who speak up about sexual abuse and harassment.

But some media commentators also injected skepticism into the surge of excitement among fans of the former talk show star, saying the Democratic Party and the country might well reject the notion of another celebrity political novice following Trump’s 2016 election.

Winfrey, long associated with Democratic politics and fundraising, has not commented publicly on the speculation. Known to millions by her first name, Winfrey, 63, has been a cultural force in the country for decades.

Trump, speaking with reporters during a White House meeting with lawmakers, said in response to a question, “Yeah I’ll beat Oprah. Oprah would be a lot of fun.

“I know her very well. … I like Oprah. I don’t think she’s going to run,” said the Republican president, 71.

Winfrey confidante Gayle King said earlier on Tuesday there was no change in Winfrey’s past position – that she is not interested in running for president.

“I do think she’s intrigued by the idea, I do think that,” King said on the “CBS This Morning” program. “I also know that after years of watching ‘The Oprah (Winfrey) Show’ you always have the right to change your mind. I don’t think at this point she’s actually considering it.”

However, CNN, citing two of Winfrey’s close friends, reported on Monday that the television and movie producer and actress was actively thinking about a White House bid.

Winfrey has raised millions of dollars for various causes, including shelters for battered women but, like Trump when he launched his White House campaign, she has no prior experience in government. Trump, a businessman and former reality TV star, based part of his appeal on the fact he was truly not a Washington insider.

“NOPRAH! Do we really need another celebrity president?” read the front page of Tuesday’s New York Post. A critique in Slate on Monday was headlined “Oprah? Really?,” and bemoaned the “impossibly boring” current crop of major political figures, making people more likely to vote for celebrities like Trump or Winfrey.

Former Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who was the public face of some of the Trump administration’s early missteps last year, said on the “Good Morning Britain” show that Winfrey lacked “political infrastructure” and would have a hard time adjusting to the White House.

Winfrey first gained national fame with her TV talk show, which often focused on self-improvement and touched on previously taboo subjects like incest, rape, eating disorders and depression. She used the show’s success to build a media empire encompassing movie production, magazines, cable TV, and satellite radio, becoming one of the world’s richest women.

Winfrey also branched out into acting. She is credited with roles in nearly 30 movie and TV productions, including a role in director Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” that earned her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson and Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Jonathan Oatis and Jill Serjeant; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Actor Franco says sex accusations ‘not accurate’ but will fix any wrongs

FILE PHOTO: Director and star James Franco arrives for the gala presentation of “The Disaster Artist” at the AFI Film Festival in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Golden Globe winner James Franco said accusations of sexual misconduct made against him on Twitter this week were “not accurate” but said in a television interview that “if I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it.”

Franco, 39, was asked to comment on the accusations in an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show” on Tuesday. They surfaced on Twitter minutes after he accepted a best comedy actor Golden Globe on Sunday for his role in “The Disaster Artist.”

Franco also is nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award for the role at a Jan. 21 ceremony in Los Angeles.

Three women made comments on Twitter alleging sexual misbehavior by Franco, who on Sunday was wearing a Time’s Up movement pin supporting victims of sexual harassment in the wider workplace. Some of the tweets were later deleted.

A New York Times event this week where Franco was due to talk about “The Disaster Artist,” which he also directed and produced, and was subsequently canceled.

“The things I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn’t have a voice for so long,” Franco told Colbert. “So, I don’t want to shut them down in any way.

“The way I live my life, I can’t live if there’s restitution to be made, I will make it. So, if I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to,” he said without elaborating.

Franco’s representatives did not respond to requests for further comment on Wednesday.

Sunday’s Golden Globe ceremony was marked by jokes and powerful speeches about the sexual misconduct scandal that has roiled Hollywood and led to dozens of men being fired, forced to stand down or dropped from creative projects.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bill Trott)

‘Black Panther’ Becomes Fandango’s Top Early Pre-Seller Among Marvel Movies


By Dave McNary

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Advance sales for Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther” have set a new record for Fandango as the top seller among Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in the first 24 hours, topping “Captain America: Civil War.”

Sales launched Monday night after a national spot aired during the telecast of the College Football Playoff National Championship. Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa, who takes over as the king of Wakanda after his father T’Chaka is killed, as shown in “Captain America: Civil War.” The film also stars Angela Bassett’s Ramonda, Forest Whitaker’s Zuri, and Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger.

The film opens on Feb. 16.

“‘’ is riding an incredible wave of momentum right now,” said editor Erik Davis. “It’s one of the biggest and most anticipated movies to ever open in the month of February, and its trailers have electrified the internet. Tickets have been going fast ever since pre-sales started on Fandango late Monday.”

Fandango said a survey of more than 8,000 moviegoers showed that “Black Panther” was voted as one of the year’s top two most anticipated movies, ranking second to Disney-Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” which includes many of the “Black Panther” characters, and Boseman was voted as the most anticipated comic book hero in a standalone movie.

“Captain America: Civil War” opened in May of 2016, and is the 15th-highest worldwide grosser, with $1.15 billion.

‘Roseanne’ star says revived show reflects Trump’s America

75th Golden Globe Awards – Arrivals – Beverly Hills, California, U.S., 07/01/2018 – Actress Roseanne Barr. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

By Lisa Richwine

PASADENA, Calif. (Reuters) – The March revival of hit 1990s television comedy “Roseanne” will show how a politically divided, working-class American family grapples with daily life and challenges after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, the show’s stars said on Monday.

Walt Disney Co’s ABC broadcast network is bringing back “Roseanne,” starring Roseanne Barr and John Goodman, for nine episodes starting March 27.

In the new episodes, the titular Roseanne, played by Barr, is now a grandmother who voted for Trump and at times clashes with family members and friends with opposing views, the show’s cast and producers said at a Television Critics Association event.

The original “Roseanne” aired from 1988 to 1997 and was the most-watched show on U.S. television in 1989 and 1990. It featured a blue-collar family, the Conners, with overweight parents struggling to get by in the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois.

The series was praised for its realistic portrayal of a working-class family in the United States, and Barr said she wanted the revival to also present a true-to-life portrait of a country in which half the voters chose Trump.

“It was the working-class people who elected Trump,” Barr said. “I felt that was very real and something that needed to be discussed.”

Barr herself has spoken in support of Trump, but the show’s producers said the series does not advocate a political stance.

“There is no agenda on anybody’s part but to get honest feelings out there within a family that’s relatable,” executive producer Bruce Helford said.

Many original cast members returned for the revival including Goodman, who plays Roseanne’s husband Dan, and Sara Gilbert, who portrays daughter Darlene.

Gilbert said the new episodes show a family “that is divided by politics but still filled with love.”

The revival will also deal with topical issues such as opioid addiction and access to healthcare, Helford said.

Michael Fishman, who plays Roseanne’s son D.J., said the show lets the characters debate important issues in a way that does not always happen in today’s real-life society.

“We have the conversation about why we don’t agree,” Fishman said. “That dialogue is kind of missing.”

“Roseanne” is the latest hit show from the 1980s and 199Os to be revived, on the heels of comedy “Will & Grace” and supernatural crime drama “Twin Peaks,” both of which returned to television in 2017.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Pink to sing national anthem at Super Bowl LII

2017 American Music Awards – Show – Los Angeles, California, U.S., 19/11/2017 – Singer Pink performs. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni – HP1EDBK04T7CD

(Reuters) – Pink will get the Super Bowl party started by singing the national anthem before the championship game in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, the NFL said on Monday.

The performance will mark the Grammy award-winning singer’s first appearance on the Super Bowl stage, which has been graced by artists such as Luke Bryan, Lady Gaga and Idina Menzel in recent years.

Performances of the national anthem have been a major talking point during the NFL season as players have used the occasion to take knees, sit or link arms during the song to protest about racial inequality and police brutality in the U.S.

The protests have been criticized by the Trump Administration, which has chosen to interpret the demonstrations as offensive to the U.S. military.

Vice President Mike Pence walked out of an NFL game in Indianapolis earlier this season when players protested during the anthem.

The NFL previously announced that singer Justin Timberlake would headline the halftime show.

The NFL also announced on Monday that Alexandria Wailes will perform in American Sign Language both the national anthem and “America The Beautiful.”

The Super Bowl is the most-watched event on U.S. television, drawing more than 100 million viewers.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

John Dickerson to Replace Charlie Rose at ‘CBS This Morning’


By Brian Steinberg

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – CBS News named “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson as the new co-anchor of its “CBS This Morning,” placing the Washington anchor in a role that was previously filled by Charlie Rose. He will join Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell on the A.M. franchise.

“Gayle and Norah continue to show tremendous leadership on our morning broadcast each day,” said David Rhodes, president of , in a statement. “Colleagues, newsmakers and peers all appreciate the depth and context brings to every discussion of the day’s events – together with his co-hosts, he will project our best values on every broadcast.” Dickerson will move to New York as part of this new duties, and is expected to cede the “Nation” spot to a new anchor, Rhodes said in a memo to staff Tuesday.

Naming Dickerson to the role will end a period of uncertainty surrounding the program. The show has been without a regular third co-anchor since CBS ousted Rose in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment made against him by employees of his production company as well as staffers at CBS News. “I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate,” Rose said in a statement shortly after the disclsoure.” I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.”

And yet, the program has proved to be of growing strategic importance to the network . While “” trails rivals “Today” and “Good Morning America” on NBC and ABC, respectively, in viewership, it has made significant ratings strides for CBS with a mix of hard-news focus and serious discussion about the headlines of the day. There are no cooking segments or pet mascots on “CBS This Morning,” though its Saturday broadcast regularly features musical performances by up and coming bands and singers (along with an in-depth report on what makes them different from the rest of the pack).

Dickerson has enjoyed a fairly quick rise among the CBS News ranks in recent years. He took the reins of the network’s Sunday public-affairs program, “Face the Nation,” in 2015, after a news career largely spent off camera . Dickerson has logged years covering politics for Slate and Time magazine, and spent nearly 20 years in Washington covering the White House, Congress and economics. He authored a longform series on presidential attributes, which won the Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency.

He had been political director for CBS News since 2011, and an on-air political analyst for CBS News since 2009. His mother was Nancy Dickerson, CBS’ News’ first female correspondent and an associate producer on the first broadcast of “Face the Nation” in 1954.

Twitter, Snapchat tie up with Fox to provide coverage of FIFA World Cup

FILE PHOTO: People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

(Reuters) – Twenty First Century Fox Inc’s Fox Sports is partnering with Twitter Inc to stream a live show and Snap Inc’s Snapchat to showcase stories with matchday highlights on the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament to be hosted in Russia later this year.

Fox Sports would produce the show, which will be streamed from Moscow’s Red Square on each match day and provide previews, recaps and near real-time video highlights for each game, the company said.

Fox said the coverage of the tournament, taking place from June 14 to July 15, will be available in the United States and can be seen using the @FOXSports and @FOXSoccer Twitter handles.

Fox Sports will also produce magazine-like editions of content for Snapchat’s mobile-first audience, called Publisher Stories.

The Publisher Story on Snapchat will record the day-by-day highlights of the month-long tournament through recaps, previews and features produced specifically for Snap.

Snapchat will also produce FIFA World Cup “Our Stories,” featuring video highlights of goals and other key moments provided by Fox Sports.

Live-streaming has been one of Twitter’s biggest focus areas since last year as it seeks to attract new users.

The company had previously signed a multi-year deal with the U.S. National Football League to live-stream pre-game coverage as well as a 30-minute show.

Snapchat has also done something similar by previously partnering with Discovery Communications Inc’s Eurosport for a European, multi-language deal that will see Winter Olympics content held this year as part of Snapchat’s ‘stories’ feature.

(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Bernard Orr)

Oprah Winfrey ‘intrigued’ by U.S. presidential run: friend Gayle King

Oprah Winfrey speaks after accepting the Cecil B. Demille Award at the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. January 7, 2018. Paul Drinkwater/Courtesy of NBC/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Media magnate Oprah Winfrey is “intrigued” by the possibility of running for the U.S. presidency in 2020 but is not considering it now, a close friend said on Tuesday after Winfrey’s speech at a Hollywood awards show thrust her name into the political arena.

Winfrey confidante Gayle King said on “CBS This Morning” that the 63-year-old celebrity’s past position that she was not interested in running for president remained unchanged.

“I do think she’s intrigued by the idea, I do think that,” King said. “I also know that after years of watching ‘The Oprah (Winfrey) Show’ you always have the right to change your mind. I don’t think at this point she’s actually considering it.”

Social media lit up about a presidential run after Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes awards show on Sunday night promoting the “Time’s Up” movement against sexual harassment and assault.

CNN, citing two of her close friends, reported on Monday that the television and movie producer and actress was actively thinking about making a White House bid.

Republican President Donald Trump would gladly face Winfrey – one of the United States’ wealthiest women and long associated with Democratic politics and fundraising – as in the 2020 presidential race, a White House spokesman said on Monday.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Paid less than male peers, BBC China editor quits and speaks out

FILE PHOTO: The main entrance to the BBC headquarters and studios is seen in Portland Place, London, Britain, July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters) – The BBC’s China Editor Carrie Gracie has quit her post in Beijing to fight for her right to pay equality with male peers, posting an attack on what she called the “secretive and illegal BBC pay culture”.

Gracie’s revolt is part of the fallout from pay disclosures the British broadcaster was forced to make last July, which showed that two thirds of the highest earners on air were men, and that some of them were earning far more than women in equivalent roles.

Funded by a license fee levied on TV viewers and reaching 95 percent of British adults every week, the BBC is a pillar of the nation’s life, but as such it is closely scrutinized and held to exacting standards by the public and rival media.

Gracie’s stand was one of the top news headlines of the day on the BBC itself and on other British media, and many prominent women from the BBC and beyond voiced their support on social media under the slogan #IStandWithCarrie.

Gracie, who speaks fluent Mandarin and has reported on China for three decades, has not left the BBC. She said she was returning to her former post in the TV newsroom in London where she expected to be paid equally to men in equal jobs.

“I am not asking for more money. I believe I am very well paid already — especially as someone working for a publicly funded organization. I simply want the BBC to abide by the law and value men and women equally,” she wrote on her website.

Gracie said she was paid 135,000 pounds ($182,800) a year as China editor. According to last July’s disclosures, North America Editor Jon Sopel earned between 200,000 and 250,000 pounds a year, while Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen was in the 150,000 to 200,000 bracket.

Europe editor Katya Adler, the BBC’s only other female editor in foreign news, did not feature in the disclosures, meaning her pay was less than 150,000 pounds.

Gracie said managers had offered to increase her pay to 180,000 pounds, but that was no solution. She rejected the rise and insisted that all four of the BBC’s international editors should receive equal pay.

“I was not interested in more money. I was interested in equality,” she said during an interview on BBC radio.

Britain enacted legislation outlawing sex discrimination in the 1970s and this was followed by an equality act in 2010, but women still earn less than men across much of the economy.


The BBC defended itself by saying its gender pay gap was below the national average and less bad than at many other organizations, adding that it was committed to wiping it out by 2020. It also said an independent audit of rank and file staff had found “no systemic discrimination against women” at the BBC.

Several high-profile women seized on the Gracie story to say the problem was much bigger than the BBC and affected the whole of society.

“Tip of the iceberg in @BBC & most other orgs (organizations). Equality Act 2010 means no hiding place for shameful discrimination against women. Ending it long overdue,” wrote prominent lawmaker Harriet Harman of the opposition Labour Party, a long-time advocate of women’s equality, on Twitter.

As in many other countries, pay inequality based on gender has been a persistent problem in Britain, which by some measures has performed worse than comparable European countries in recent years. Britain was ranked 15th in the World Economic Forum’s global gender gap index 2017, below France and Germany.

But Gracie said her complaint was not about the gender pay gap the BBC admits to, which stems from men earning more on average because they do more of the best paid jobs. “It is men earning more in the same jobs or jobs of equal value. It is pay discrimination and it is illegal,” she said.

Gracie accused the BBC of adopting a botched “divide and rule” response to the legitimate anger of female staff, offering pay rises to some women while locking down others in a protracted complaints process. In her own case, the process had been “dismayingly incompetent and undermining”, she said.

“Enough is enough. The rise of China is one of the biggest stories of our time and one of the hardest to tell,” she wrote, citing Chinese state censorship, surveillance, police harassment and official intimidation.

“I cannot do it justice while battling my bosses and a byzantine complaints process.”

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; editing by David Stamp)

Versace family disowns ‘fiction’ of U.S. TV series on designer’s death

FILE PHOTO: Italian designer Gianni Versace waves at the end of his presentation of his spring-summer 97 ready -to- wear collection at the Milan fashion show September 25, 1996. REUTERS/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) – The family of Italian designer Gianni Versace has distanced itself from a long-awaited U.S. television series about his violent death.

The nine-part series, made by 21st Century Fox and premiering next week, stars Spanish actress Penelope Cruz and Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin.

Versace was gunned down in 1997 at the entrance gate of his Miami beach mansion by serial killer Andrew Cunanan.

The Versace company “did not authorize and was not involved in the television series,” it said in a statement on Monday.

The series had to be considered “an act of fiction”, it said, given it drew inspiration from a book that was not authorized – Maureen Orth’s ‘Vulgar favours’.

A spokesman for 21st Century Fox had no immediate comment.

Versace founded his eponymous fashion house, famous for its Medusa head logo, in 1978. In 2014 U.S. private equity firm Blackstone bought a 20 percent stake. Gianni’s sister Donatella is artistic director and vice-president of the group.

(Reporting by Giulia Segreti; editing by John Stonestreet)

UK’s Prince William’s daughter Charlotte starts nursery school

Britain’s Princess Charlotte sits on the steps at Kensington Palace shortly before she left for her first day of nursery at the Willcocks Nursery School in a photograph taken taken by her mother and handed out by Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge in London, January 8, 2018. The Duchess of Cambridge handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – Princess Charlotte, the daughter of Britain’s Prince William and wife Kate, began her first day at nursery school near the couple’s London home, Kensington Palace, on Monday.

Pictures taken by her pregnant mother showed the smiling two-year-old outside her home before she set off to begin at the private Willcocks Nursery School in Kensington.

On its website the school, rated as “outstanding” by government inspectors, describes itself as traditional, saying it “strives to maintain its ethos for high standards, excellence and good manners”. Fees are 3,050 pounds ($4,072) per term for mornings and 1,800 pounds for afternoons.

Charlotte is fourth-in-line to the British throne behind her father, her elder brother George and grandfather Prince Charles and her parents are expecting a third baby in April.

Unlike previous senior royals, Prince William attended nursery school as a child and son George made the step up from nursery to primary school in September when he began at Thomas’s Battersea, a private school in southwest London.

(Reporting by Michael Holden. Editing by Andrew MacAskill)

Oprah for president? Winfrey fans urge White House run after #MeToo speech

75th Golden Globe Awards – Photo Room – Beverly Hills, California, U.S., 07/01/2018 – Oprah Winfrey poses backstage with her Cecil B. DeMille Award. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

By Nichola Groom

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Oprah Winfrey fans lit up Twitter on Monday with calls for her to run for U.S. president after the entertainment star gave an inspiring “new day” speech at an awards show in support of those who have exposed sexual misconduct in Hollywood and beyond.

A surge of tweets carrying “#Oprahforpresident” and “#Oprah2020” hashtags followed her speech at the Golden Globes, where Winfrey became the first black woman to receive a lifetime achievement award on Sunday.

Winfrey, an actress, movie and television producer, and chief executive of her OWN cable channel, is actively thinking about a run, CNN reported on Monday, citing two of her close friends. CNN did not name the friends, who it said had spoken on condition of anonymity.

At least one emphasized that Winfrey had made no firm decision on a run.

Sunday’s award ceremony honored Winfrey, 63, as a role model for women and a person who has promoted strong female characters.

“In a 9 minute speech, @Oprah was more presidential than the current occupant of the White House has been for an entire year,” wrote Khary Penebaker, a member of the Democratic National Committee, on Twitter, referring to Republican President Donald Trump.

“That speech was everything. #timesup #oprahforpresident,” tweeted Boston television personality Cassy Arsenault in one of many calls for Winfrey to run in the next U.S. presidential election, in November 2020.

Trump also powered his successful 2016 campaign on the back of his celebrity reputation from reality TV show “The Apprentice,” as well as long-cultivated attention in New York newspapers.

In recent years, Winfrey has lent her star power to endorse Democratic presidential candidates: Barack Obama when he was seeking to become the first black U.S. president in 2008 and Hillary Clinton in her campaign against Trump in 2016.

In the past, Winfrey has said she is not interested in running for president, for example saying in a CBS interview in October when asked about the 2020 presidential election that, “There will be no running for office of any kind for me.”

However, the Los Angeles Times quoted Stedman Graham, Winfrey’s longtime partner in business and life, as saying on Sunday that “It’s up to the people … She would absolutely do it.”

The awards show, Hollywood’s first leading up to the Oscars, was dominated by a scandal that has seen dozens of powerful men in U.S. entertainment, politics and the media accused of sexual abuse or harassment.

Winfrey, who along with most of the show’s other women attendees wore a black gown to show support for victims of sexual misconduct, was the first black woman to receive the annual Cecil B. DeMille award, joining the likes of Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand and Sophia Loren.


Winfrey used her speech to praise women who have shared their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, and to declare that “a new day is on the horizon” for girls and women.

“When that new day finally dawns it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure they become leaders that take us to the time where nobody has to say ‘me too’ again,” Winfrey said, referring to the #MeToo social media movement raising awareness about sexual harassment.

Winfrey was raised in poverty by a single mother and went on to host the top-rated talk show “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for 25 years before ending it in 2011.

“I want to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue.”

She produced and acted in the 2014 civil rights movie “Selma,” and 2017’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and was Oscar nominated in 1986 for her role in “The Color Purple,” which she later helped finance as Broadway musical.

Even after ending her daily talk show, her influence on popular culture remains strong.

Forbes last year estimated her net worth at $3 billion and placed her third on its list of the America’s richest self-made women.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sandra Maler, Scott Malone and Frances Kerry)

‘Three Billboards’ wins big as Golden Globes power through sex scandal

Greta Gerwig director of Lady Bird accepts the award for Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical at the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. January 7, 2018. Paul Drinkwater/Courtesy of NBC/Handout via REUTERS

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Dark drama “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was the big winner with four Golden Globes awards on Sunday on a night marked by scathing jokes about sexual harassment and passionate odes to those breaking their silence.

Mother-daughter comedy “Lady Bird” was named best comedy film and the indie A24 movie’s star Saoirse Ronan won for comedy actress.

Gary Oldman was named best drama movie actor for his role as British wartime leader Winston Churchill in Focus Features’ “Darkest Hour” and Frances McDormand took home the award for drama actress for her role as an angry mother seeking vengeance in Fox Searchlight’s “Three Billboards.”

James Franco won the comedy actor award for his cult movie homage “The Disaster Artist,” also from A24. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro won best director for magical fantasy “The Shape of Water.”

However, the night was dominated not by who took home prizes but by jokes and speeches about the sexual misconduct scandal that has rocked Hollywood.

“Happy New Year Hollywood! It’s 2018. Marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn’t,” quipped Globes host Seth Meyers in his opening remarks, bringing wild applause from the A-list audience in Beverly Hills.

Multiple allegations against actors, filmmakers and Hollywood agents since October 2017 have led to many of the accused being fired, forced to step down, or dropped from creative projects.

Referring to the male nominees gathered in Beverly Hills for the top television and movie awards, Meyers said: “This is the first time in three months it won’t be terrifying to hear your name read out loud.”

The evening began with the normally colorful red carpet transformed into a sea of black gowns as every actress showed solidarity with victims of sexual harassment inside and outside the entertainment industry. Many have given their own harrowing accounts.

Women kept up the theme inside the Beverly Hilton ballroom.

“This year, we became the story,” Oprah Winfrey said in a rousing speech while accepting the annual lifetime achievement award.

McDormand said she was proud to be a woman in the industry. “It’s great to be here and be part of the tectonic shift in our industry’s power structure,” she said.

Laura Dern, a supporting actress winner for “Big Little Lies,” said: “May we teach our children that speaking out without retribution is our culture’s new north star.”

The HBO TV series was one of several female-driven winners on Sunday.

The Golden Globes ceremony, the first of the major awards shows in the run-up to the Oscars in March, marked the first big test for how Hollywood would handle the scandal.

Meyers joked that, as the first of the hosts, he felt like “the first dog they shot into outer space.”

He appeared to have found the right balance, getting cheers in the room and warm early reviews. Industry website Deadline.com said Meyers “deftly executed a seemingly impossible task,” while E! News said he “made lemonade out of lemons.”

Dystopian tale “The Handmaid’s Tale” won best TV drama series and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amazon’s new series about a 1950s housewife who become a stand-up comedian, took best TV comedy or musical series.

Fox Searchlight and parent company Twentieth Century Fox were the big winners in terms of studios, with their films winning seven awards. Indie movie studio A24 had three.

(Additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy and Nichola Groom; Editing by Sandra Maler and Paul Tait)

Emma Stone, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern To Be Accompanied by Activists at Golden Globes


By Erin Nyren

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – In addition to the #whywewearblack campaign at this year’s Golden Globes, numerous Hollywood women have adopted another way to express their support for particular issues, including women’s rights and racial equality, by bringing activists to the as their guests.

According to a press release, the women were inspired by the Time’s Up movement , an initiative launched by hundreds of Hollywood women to advocate better workplace conditions and the end of sexual harassment.

Emma Stone will be accompanied by Billie Jean King, the pro tennis player and activist that Stone portrays in “Battle of the Sexes.” In addition to founding the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Women’s Tennis Association, King has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and is the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative.

Susan Sarandon will bring Rosa Clemente, an organizer, political commentator and independent journalist who campaigns for media justice, voter engagement among youth of color, third party politics, United States political prisoners and the right of Puerto Rico to become an independent nation.

Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-director of the Caring Across Generations Campaign, will attend with Meryl Streep. Poo is listed as one of Fortune’s 50 World’s Greatest Leaders and is a 2014 MacArthur fellow.

Michelle Williams’ guest will be Tarana Burke, the founder of the #metoo movement and senior director at Girls for Gender Equity. Burke is a gender and racial justice advocate who was based in Selma, Ala. for over a decade, leading to a consulting position on Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated “Selma.”

Mónica Ramírez, the co-founder of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, will accompany Laura Dern. Ramírez has served farmworker, Latina and immigrant women as an attorney, organizer and advocate and is dedicated to ending violence against women, particularly farmworkers.

Emma Watson will bring Marai Larasi, the executive director of Imkaan (UK), a leading Black-feminist network organization with members in England, Wales and Scotland. Larasi is also co-chair of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, the UK’s largest coalition of organizations working to eradicate violence against women and girls.

Calina Lawrence, a member of the Suquamish Tribe, will attend the Globes with Shailene Woodley. Lawrence is a musician and vocalist who has spent recent time traveling the country in advocacy for Native Treaty Rights and the “Mni Wiconi” (Water is Life) movement led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the #NoLNG253” movement led by the Puyallup Tribe. She dedicates her artistry and energy to addressing racial injustice, police brutality, mass-incarceration, gentrification, violence against women and children, misrepresentation of Native Americans in education and mainstream media, climate injustice, blood quantum and enrollment issues, foster youth, suicide prevention, and many other causes.

Amy Poehler’s guest will be Saru Jayaraman, president of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and ROC Action, and director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Saru co-founded ROC in New York after 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, which has organized those who work in restaurants to win workplace justice campaigns, conduct research and policy work, partner with responsible restaurants, and launch cooperatively-owned restaurants.

This is not the first time Hollywood denizens have made a statement by bringing activists to awards shows. One of the most memorable instances occurred when Sacheen Littlefeather rejected Marlon Brando’s Academy Award for best actor in 1973 with a speech advocating for Native American rights. However, this is one of the first times the effort has been coordinated among many attendees.

Golden Globes: It’s not who wins but who will say what

FILE PHOTO: Host Seth Meyers speaks onstage during the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., August 25, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Golden Globes kick off Hollywood’s countdown to the Oscars on Sunday, but the focus is expected to be less on who walks away with the top movie and television prizes than who says (and wears) what.

Magical love story “The Shape of Water” goes into the televised ceremony in Beverly Hills with a leading seven nominations, including best movie drama. It is followed by Steven Spielberg’s passionate ode to press freedom “The Post,” and dark indie comedy “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” with six apiece. All three movies are from the Twentieth Century Fox stable of studios.

But with a sexual harassment scandal roiling Hollywood, the most anticipated moments are on the red carpet and from host Seth Meyers, who will open the show.

“Lady Bird” star Saoirse Ronan, “I, Tonya” skating movie nominee Allison Janney, and actress and singer Mary J. Blige are among dozens of stars who say they will wear black on Sunday after throwing their support behind the Times Up campaign to fight sexual harassment in the workplace.

First-time Globes host Meyers has said he will address the sexual misconduct issue, but acknowledges that delivering jokes on the issue to Hollywood’s A-list talent will prove a challenge.

“Fingers crossed we meet the right tone, but that’s certainly our goal,” Meyers said ahead of the three-hour show. “I’m looking forward to seeing what people do as much as you are.”

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most powerful black women in entertainment, is expected to make waves when she accepts this year’s lifetime achievement award.

Multiple allegations against actors, filmmakers and Hollywood agents since October 2017 have led to many of the accused being fired, forced to step down, or dropped from creative projects.

Others stand to benefit. Director Ridley Scott, Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer were all Golden Globe-nominated after Sony Pictures’ thriller “All the Money in the World” was hastily reshot with Plummer taking the place of Kevin Spacey, who has been accused by more than 30 men of sexual impropriety.

Spacey apologized for the first reported incident. Reuters is unable to verify the allegations.

The Golden Globes, organized by the small Hollywood Foreign Press Association, hands out separate awards for drama and comedy films and the race for those top prizes is seen as wide open.

Pundits say “The Post,” Warner Bros.’ war movie “Dunkirk” and “Three Billboards” all stand a good chance of winning best movie drama, while indie studio A24’s mother-daughter film “Lady Bird” and its James Franco cult movie tribute “The Disaster Artist” are the likely frontrunners for best comedy or musical.

“I am very gung-ho on ‘The Post.’ I think it is a movie that makes a statement,” said Pete Hammond, awards columnist at Hollywood industry website Deadline.com.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Richard Chang)

Letterman lands Obama as first guest on new Netflix show

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama tapes an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, U.S., May 4, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

(Reuters) – Veteran former U.S. talk show host David Letterman will return to television on Jan. 12 in a new Netflix show where his first guest will be former U.S. President Barack Obama, Netflix Inc <NFLX.O> said on Friday.

The company’s shares rose as much as 2 percent to a record of $209.72.

Called “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman,” the six-episode series will also feature interviews with actor George Clooney, rapper Jay-Z, radio shock jock Howard Stern, comedian Tina Fey and Pakistani education activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the streaming service said.

Netflix has been spending heavily to produce and acquire content as it races to dominate streaming television and beat competition from traditional media and other streaming players such as Hulu and Amazon.com Inc’s <AMZN.O> Prime Video.

Letterman’s interview with Obama will mark the former president’s first television talk show appearance since he left office in January last year.

Letterman, 70, left his job as host of “The Late Show” in May 2015, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family after more than 30 years on late night television.

His return to television for Netflix was announced in August 2017, when the quick-witted host said that Pope Francis and President Donald Trump would be top of his wish-list for the series.

Netflix said the new series would consist of 60-minute episodes centered around “one extraordinary figure whom Dave finds fascinating” and that the interviews would take place both inside and outside a studio setting.

The company, home to shows such as “House of Cards” and “Stranger Things,” streams to most countries in the world and has a customer base of about 115.6 million.

The company’s shares have kept pace with its user growth and have risen nearly 60 percent in the past one year.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Brown and Shounak Dasgupta)

Diane Kruger discusses her challenging ‘In The Fade’ role

Cast member Diane Kruger poses for a portrait while promoting the movie “In the Fade” in Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 8, 2017. Picture taken December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

By Rollo Ross

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – German-born actress Diane Kruger’s latest role as a woman whose husband and son are killed in an attack in the German movie “In the Fade” left her “physically exhausted” and taking a step back from acting.

“I didn’t take a movie for a long time. I just felt like I couldn’t. I was feeling I was drowning,” Kruger told Reuters.

“I just needed time for myself to get my life back in order,” she added.

Kruger, known for films such as “Inglourious Basterds” and “Troy,” plays Katja in director Fatih Akin’s “In the Fade,” about a woman who marries her husband while he is in prison.

Years later, a devastating tragedy leaves her husband dead and Katja on a mission for justice, suspicious that Neo-Nazis might be behind her loss.

German director Akin, who is of Turkish descent, said he wanted to explore racism and specifically Neo-Nazis in Germany within the film.

“There are people in this country, which I consider is my country, who want to kill me just because I look like how I look like with black hair and brown eyes. They want to kill me for it, for nothing. This bothers me,” Akin said.

“I don’t like that, so I have a feeling that I need to express my anger so the film gave me the opportunity to express it on paper and later on film,” he added.

The film has garnered both Akin and Kruger strong praise from critics, and Kruger was named best actress at France’s Cannes Film Festival last year.

“In the Fade” is Germany’s entry to the Oscars, one of nine films short-listed in the foreign language film category.

(Reporting by Rollo Ross for Reuters TV; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Cynthia Osterman)

Jimmy Iovine to leave Apple Music in August: Billboard

Music producer Jimmy Iovine poses at LACMA’s 50th anniversary gala in Los Angeles, California, April 18, 2015. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

(Reuters) – Music mogul Jimmy Iovine is said to leave Apple Inc’s music streaming service in August, the Billboard magazine reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources and music industry website Hits Daily Double.

Iovine is best known as the co-founder of Interscope Records, a rap music pioneer that branched out to include artists like Lady Gaga and U2.

Iovine’s departure is likely timed to his Apple shares fully vesting, according to the Billboard story, which followed an initial report in Hits Daily Double’s “rumor mill” section. (http://bit.ly/2E6gAGX)

The former Interscope CEO joined Apple in 2014 after the iPhone maker bought Beats Electronics, the audio technology firm co-founded by influential hip-hop producer Dr Dre and Iovine, for $3 billion.

Apple declined to comment.

The company told Billboard in September it had 30 million Apple Music subscribers.

(Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

Letterman lands Obama as first guest on new Netflix show

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama tapes an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, U.S., May 4, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

(Reuters) – Veteran former U.S. talk show host David Letterman will return to television on Jan. 12 in a new Netflix show where his first guest will be former U.S. President Barack Obama, Netflix Inc <NFLX.O> said on Friday.

The company’s shares rose as much as 1.5 percent to a record of $208.30.

Called “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman,” the six-episode series will also feature interviews with actor George Clooney, rapper Jay-Z, radio shock jock Howard Stern, comedian Tina Fey and Pakistani education activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the streaming service said.

Netflix has been spending heavily to produce and acquire content as it races to dominate streaming television and beat competition from traditional media and other streaming players such as Hulu and Amazon.com Inc’s <AMZN.O> Prime Video.

Letterman’s interview with Obama will mark the former president’s first television talk show appearance since he left office in January last year.

Letterman, 70, left his job as host of “The Late Show” in May 2015, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family after more than 30 years on late night television.

His return to television for Netflix was announced in August 2017, when the quick-witted host said that Pope Francis and President Donald Trump would be top of his wish-list for the series.

Netflix said the new series would consist of 60-minute episodes centered around “one extraordinary figure whom Dave finds fascinating” and that the interviews would take place both inside and outside a studio setting.

The company, home to shows such as “House of Cards” and “Stranger Things,” streams to most countries in the world and has a customer base of about $115.6 million.

The company’s shares have kept pace with its user growth and have risen nearly 60 percent in the past one year.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Brown and Shounak Dasgupta)

Australia’s Cate Blanchett to head Cannes Film Festival jury

FILE PHOTO: Cast member Cate Blanchett poses during a photocall for the film “Carol” in competition at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 17, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) – Australian movie star Cate Blanchett will head the jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera, its organizers said on Thursday.

Blanchett, 48, received international acclaim for her role as Elizabeth I of England in Shekhar Kapur’s 1998 film ‘Elizabeth’ and has won three Golden Globe awards.

Other jury members for the 71st edition of the festival, which will run from May 8-19, will be announced at a later date.

Blanchett, who recently took part with other Hollywood figures in a campaign to help fight sexual harassment following the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal, will become the 11th woman to chair the event in the festival’s history.

She will take over from Spanish director Pedro Almodovar as jury head at Cannes, which last year awarded its “Palme d’Or” to the Swedish satirical drama film ‘The Square’.

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Warner Bros. Taps Walter Hamada to Oversee DC Films Production (EXCLUSIVE)


By Brent Lang

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – As part of a shakeup of its DC film operations, Warner Bros. is promoting Walter Hamada to oversee its comic book movies, Variety has learned. He will serve as president of DC-based film production. In December, the studio decided to replace Jon Berg and Geoff Johns as the heads of the DC movies. Berg became a production partner with Roy Lee, the producer of “The Lego Movie” and “It,” who has a deal on the lot.

Johns remains at DC as a president and chief creative officer, but his portfolio doesn’t just involve film. He will continue to provide creative guidance into the company’s television and comic book efforts. An official announcement of Hamada’s hire, Warner Bros. said Johns will “work closely” with the new production president.

The move comes as DC is looking for more quality control of its big-screen efforts — the studio captured acclaim and box office bonanza with last summer’s “Wonder Woman,” but was savaged by critics for “Suicide Squad” and “Justice League.” There is widespread frustration over DC’s failure to match the popularity of Marvel movies.

Hamada previously served for a decade as a production executive at New Line, a division of Warner Bros. There, he helped shepherd such horror hits as “It,” “The Gallows,” and “The Conjuring” to cinemas. The executive enjoys a close relationship with director James Wan, who is directing “Aquaman” for DC, and is credited with helping expand “The Conjuring” universe by making a well-received sequel to the movie, as well as spinoffs with the “Annabelle” series. He will be leaving New Line to work for Warners, and will also oversee any other types of comic book movies that the studio produces outside of the DC canon.

Toby Emmerich, who was promoted in 2016 to president and chief content officer at Warner Bros., worked with Hamada at New Line, which he ran before moving over to the main studio.

“Walter is creative, resourceful, and committed to excellence, and will bring those qualities to his oversight of our superhero films,” said Emmerich in a statement.

Emmerich went on to add, “I’m confident Walter and Geoff, working with our filmmaking partners, will deliver films that will resonate with both broad global audiences as well as DC fanboys and fangirls.”

Last summer, Warner Bros. named Courtenay Valenti, best known for her work on the Harry Potter films, as president of production at Warner Bros. She will continue in that role, as will DC Entertainment chief Diane Nelson.

Before coming to New Line in 2007, Hamada spent four years as a partner in the management and production firm H2F Entertainment. He began his career as an assistant at TriStar and eventually became VP of production for Columbia Pictures. He also ran development for MBST Entertainment.

A spokesperson for Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Party or not? Golden Globes proves test for Hollywood sex scandal

Crew members work on stage in front of the set for the 65th annual Golden Globe Awards news conference at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California January 13, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The red carpet is rolling out, the champagne is on ice and the statuettes are about to be handed over.

But with the cloud of sexual harassment hanging over Hollywood’s annual round of self-congratulations, the Golden Globe ceremony on Sunday marks the first test of how the industry will handle live on the world’s stage a scandal that has rocked show business.

“This is an issue that is center stage in Hollywood and is playing out at the award shows,” said Tom O’Neil, founder of awards website GoldDerby.com.

Celebrities and filmmakers who were once major players during awards season have been shunned, written out of shows or snubbed in nominations.

Women are planning to wear black on the Golden Globes red carpet to signal support of sexual harassment victims; a major talent agency has canceled its annual Golden Globes party to instead fund legal defense for victims; and the Screen Actors Guild Awards later in January will feature all female presenters.

The mood ahead of the Oscars on March 4 ranges from nervousness to eagerness to take a stand.

“Everyone I have been talking to is relishing the opportunity to make this kind of visibility and attention more meaningful than simply about the glorification of a single profession,” actress Michelle Williams, who is Golden Globe nominated for “All the Money in the World,” told Reuters.

More than 30 men have accused Kevin Spacey of sexual misconduct and more than 70 women have made allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Dustin Hoffman, comedian Louis C.K. and Jeffrey Tambor are among dozens of other celebrities, politicians and businessmen who have been accused of sexual impropriety.

Reuters is unable to independently verify any of the accusations. Weinstein has denied having any non-consensual sex with anyone, Spacey apologized to one of his accusers but was erased from “All the Money in the World” and written out of his TV series “House of Cards.”

Hoffman and Tambor have denied any wrongdoing. C.K. admitted past misconduct and his movie and TV projects have been dropped.

“I always saw this awards season as a perfect little bubble where everything is magical and beautiful because it’s movies. I think what we’re realizing now is that it has its own issues that it has to work on,” Emily Gordon, screenwriter for movie “The Big Sick,” told Reuters

On Sunday, all eyes will be on Golden Globes host Seth Meyers and how he navigates what is traditionally a boozy celebration and the elephant in the room.

“He’s got an impossible job. He can’t ignore the hot button issue in Hollywood. He’s expected to lead a jokathon but it’s not a laughing matter,” said O’Neil.

Hollywood is also at odds with itself. Matt Damon was slammed in December for suggesting that allegations of rape and inappropriate touching should not be conflated. Talk show host James Corden was criticized for joking about Weinstein at a Beverly Hills event in October, and Rose McGowan accused Meryl Streep of remaining silent about Weinstein’s alleged behavior. Streep denied the accusation and called for women to unite.

“This is getting to be a whole internecine battle in Hollywood. I think they are all very nervous,” said Pete Hammond, awards columnist for Deadline.com.

The Golden Globe awards for film and television will be televised live from Beverly Hills on NBC on Sunday Jan. 7, starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT (0100 GMT on Monday).

(Additional reporting by Rollo Ross; Editing by Sandra Maler)

‘Bright’ Sequel Set at Netflix


By Justin Kroll

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Following the success of “Bright,” Netflix is moving forward with a sequel. Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are attached to reprise their roles, with David Ayer returning to write and direct the second installment.

Writer Max Landis won’t be back for the next film. Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless are set as producers.

Teased the announcement with a video of orcs auditioning for the sequel. The characters have been a significant component of the film’s promotions.

“ANNOUNCEMENT: Orc auditions for the @BrightNetflix sequel are now closed. Thank you. Have a nice day,” the official Netflix account tweeted.

Nielsen recently announced that the first pic, which premiered on Dec. 22, was viewed by 11 million people in its first three days of release. This means it was less popular than “Stranger Things” Season 2, but a bigger hit than the second season of “The Crown.”

Netflix touted “” as the highest-viewed original film ever on the service in its launch week and one of the biggest originals it has ever debuted. They also added that “Bright” is the No. 1 movie on Netflix in every country, with more international than domestic viewers.

“Bright” stars Smith and Edgerton as two LAPD police officers — one human, one orc, respectively — who are paired together in an alternate universe populated by fantastical creatures in addition to humans. The film was panned by most critics for its heavy-handed social commentary, which drew parallels between real-life class and racial divisions and the tension between the different races of mythical creatures in the film. Variety‘s Peter Debruge gave the film a glowing review , however, referring to it as Netflix’s “best original movie to date.”

The film reportedly cost Netflix $90 million to produce.

YouTuber Logan Paul says suicide video was ‘huge mistake’

2017 Teen Choice Awards – Show – Los Angeles, California, U.S., 13/08/2017 – Liza Koshy accepts the Choice Female Web Star award and Logan Paul accepts the Choice Male Web Star Award. REUTERS/Mike Blake

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – American YouTube star Logan Paul on Tuesday apologized for posting a video of a suicide victim in Japan, saying he had made a “huge mistake” and was ashamed of himself.

Paul, 22, whose almost daily video blogs on YouTube have over 15 million followers, apologized for laughing with friends about the body they filmed hanging on a tree in Japan’s so-called “suicide forest” and posted to the video-sharing channel.

Logan deleted the video on Monday after it caused a social media backlash.

“I’ve made a severe and continuous lapse in my judgment and I don’t expect to be forgiven. I’m simply here to apologize,” Paul said in a YouTube video called “So Sorry.”

He said the shots of he and his friends laughing nervously after the discovery of the body were “raw and unfiltered” reactions and that the video should never have been posted or even filmed.

“I’ve made a huge mistake. I don’t expect to be forgiven… I’m ashamed of myself. I am disappointed,” he added.

Logan shot the video on a visit to Japan’s Aokigahara forest on the slopes of Mount Fuji, that is known for its high number of suicides. He promoted it on his Twitter account at the weekend as “the craziest and most real video I’ve ever uploaded.”

Reaction was swift with critics calling the video disgusting and tasteless.

“Paul believes he’s ‘making YouTube history’ by vlogging the body of a young person who died by suicide… You’re not Neil Armstrong bro, it’s simply a thing no one else has been tacky enough to do outside rotten. com circa 2000,” tweeted Caitlin Doughty, a Los Angeles mortician and author of “From Here to Eternity.”

Former “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul said suicide was no joke. “You disgust me. I can’t believe that so many young people look up to you,” the actor tweeted to Paul, who he is not related to. “Hopefully this latest video woke them up. You are pure trash. Plain and simple. Suicide is not a joke. Go rot in hell.”

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Andrew Hay)

Singapore bans film focused on indicted Palestinian teen activist

Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi (R) enters a military courtroom escorted by Israeli Prison Service personnel at Ofer Prison, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

By Fathin Ungku

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore has banned a film festival from screening a documentary later this week that features a teenage Palestinian female activist whose arrest last month has made her a symbol of resistance to Israeli military occupation in the West Bank.

Justifying the ban, authorities in the Southeast Asian city state said the film “Radiance of Resistance” was “skewed” and potentially divisive for Singapore’s multi-ethnic population.

The documentary, which looks at the Palestine-Israeli conflict through the eyes of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi and another young female activist, lacked “counterbalance”, the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) said on its website.

“The skewed narrative of the film is inflammatory and has the potential to cause disharmony amongst the different races and religions in Singapore,” the IMDA said.

The documentary was due to have been shown at the Singapore Palestinian Film Festival on Thursday.

It was screened at a number of festivals worldwide in 2017 and won Best Documentary at the Respect Human Rights Film Festival in Belfast, but has become even more topical following Tamimi’s arrest last month.

Tamimi was charged on Monday with counts of aggravated assault and will be tried in an Israeli military court. An adult found guilty of assaulting a soldier could be jailed for up to 10 years, but Tamimi is a minor so such an outcome is unlikely.

While Singapore’s authorities are known to keep a tight rein on public speech and the media, especially when it comes to matters related to race and religion, outright bans are more rare.

Adela Foo, the organizer of the Singapore festival, called the ban “understandable”, without elaborating.

“At the end of the day, the IMDA’s position is one to be respected,” the 23-year-old student told Reuters.

With a sizable Muslim minority and surrounded by Muslim majority neighbors where sympathy for the Palestinian cause runs high, Singapore maintains friendly diplomatic and military ties with Israel. But it has lined up with many other countries opposed to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Around 15 percent of Singapore’s 3.3 million resident population aged 15 years and over identify as Muslim, recent government surveys show.

(Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by John Geddie & Simon Cameron-Moore)

Vice Suspends Two Top Execs in Wake of Sexual Harassment Allegations


By Todd Spangler

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Vice Media has suspended two senior executives — president Andrew Creighton and chief digital officer Mike Germano — following a New York Times report last month detailing sexual harassment allegations against them.

The company’s decision to put the two execs on leave was announced in a memo to staff Tuesday, as  first reported by Times reporter Emily Steel, who wrote the exposé about Vice published Dec. 23. A Vice rep did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the NYT, Creighton had paid $135,000 to a former Vice employee after she alleged she was fired after rejecting his suggestion they have a romantic relationship. More than 20 female employees at Vice were subject to or witnessed other employees experiencing sexual harassment, according to the report.

Justin Timberlake Announces New Album ‘Man of the Woods’


By Jem Aswad

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – As expected, Justin Timberlake announced a new album entitled “Man of the Woods” and a new single coming Friday via a minute-long video posted on his social media accounts. The album is due Feb. 2 — two days before his halftime performance on the Super Bowl on Feb. 4.

“This album is really inspired by my son, my wife, my family, but more so than any album I’ve ever written, where I’m from — it’s personal,” he says in the video, which is filled with shots of Timberlake in outdoors settings. In other shots he is seen working with Pharrell Williams, who says “It feels so earthy, it’s just where you are in your life right now,” before adding emphatically, “That is a smash,” presumably about a song. Snippets of two or three new songs play in the background during the video.

While the wintery scenes contrast with Timberlake’s upbringing in Memphis, Tennessee, he has been saying for some months that the album, on which he also worked with longtime collaborators Max Martin and Shellback (with whom he collaborated on his last single, the hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from the movie “Trolls”) and Timbaland, reflected his roots, calling it “Southern American music.”

Timberlake’s halftime performance during the Super Bowl is set for Sunday, Feb. 4 at Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium.  Variety reported that he was the frontrunner on Sept. 27.

NBC says Hoda Kotb to replace Lauer as ‘Today’ co-anchor

Television personality Hoda Kotb arrives at The Hollywood Reporter’s 23rd annual Women in Entertainment breakfast, in Los Angeles, California December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Television host Hoda Kotb was named the new co-anchor of the NBC News “Today” show on Tuesday, replacing former co-host Matt Lauer several weeks after the longtime anchor was fired for inappropriate sexual behavior, according to a network statement.

Kotb will join Savannah Guthrie during the first two hours of the popular program, starting at 7 a.m. EST (noon GMT), and become the first pair of women to host the show along with weatherman Al Roker and Orange Room host Carson Daly. Kotb will continue co-hosting the 10 a.m. hour of “Today” with Kathie Lee Gifford.

“It’s 2018 and we are kicking off the year right because Hoda is officially the co-anchor of Today,” said Guthrie, 46, who announced the news during the program’s opening moments.

Kotb, 53, quickly filled in as co-host when Lauer was fired on Nov. 28 after a female colleague complained to NBC officials about a pattern of inappropriate sexual behavior that began while they were on assignment at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, according to the network.

At least two other women went to NBC with similar complaints against Lauer following the first allegation. None of the women has been publicly identified.

“Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I’m committed to beginning that effort,” Lauer said after he was fired.

Reuters has not independently verified the accusations.

Kotb joined NBC News in 1998 as a correspondent and has co-hosted the fourth hour of “Today” with Gifford since 2008. She also hosts a program on Sirius XM satellite radio.

“Over the past several weeks, Hoda has seamlessly stepped into the co-anchor role alongside Savannah, and the two have quickly hit the ground running,” NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said in an email to staff, according to Today.com.

#SavannahHodaTODAY was a top-trending topic on Twitter following the announcement as fans and NBC News colleagues congratulated the host on her new position.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington D.C.; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Jay-Z ‘confesses’ to Beyonce in ‘Family Feud’ music video

FILE PHOTO: Beyonce arrives with husband Jay-Z at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala 2015 celebrating the opening of “China: Through the Looking Glass,” in Manhattan, New York May 4, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Jay-Z released a music video on Friday that features the rapper addressing the pain of infidelity as he appears in a confessional booth opposite his wife Beyonce.

Set partly in a church and also featuring the couple’s 5-year-old daughter Blue Ivy, the “Family Feud” video pays tribute to family ties and female empowerment.

“We all lose when the family feuds,” Jay-Z sings. “A man that don’t take care of his family can’t be rich.”

The video is the latest from Jay-Z’s hit album “4:44,” in which he responds to allegations of cheating revealed by Beyonce in her 2016 Grammy-winning album “Lemonade.” It briefly shows an unidentified couple having sex, until the woman stabs the man in the back.

Within an hour of its release, the video was the top trending item on Twitter.

Jay-Z, 48, confirmed in a New York Times interview in November that he had been unfaithful to Beyonce earlier in their nine-year marriage.

The rapper’s soul-baring “4:44” album on love, life and social issues was widely seen as an apology to his wife.

The couple, one of the richest and most influential in the music industry, have reconciled and Beyonce gave birth to their twins in June.

Heavy on symbolism, the eight-minute-long “Family Feud” video shows the musician walking into a church holding the hand of a white-clad Blue Ivy and taking a seat in the confessional booth.

Beyonce, dressed in a black, priestess-like robe, watches silently from a pulpit and later sits listening on the other side of the confessional screen.

Directed by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, the video also envisions a future in which a grown-up Blue Ivy and other women of color, portrayed by actresses Mindy Kaling, Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, Thandie Newton and Niecy Nash, appear to rule the world.

Jay-Z has a leading eight nominations for the Grammy Awards in January, including the top prizes of best album, song and record of the year.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Tom Brown)

Arise Sir Ringo: Beatles drummer knighted in UK honors list

FILE PHOTO: Musician Ringo Starr poses during a “Peace & Love” event to celebrate Starr’s 77th birthday in Los Angeles, California, U.S., July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

LONDON (Reuters) – Ex-Beatles drummer Ringo Starr has been knighted in Queen Elizabeth’s New Year’s honors list, along with Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb and author Michael Morpurgo, while ballet dancer Darcey Bussell becomes a dame.

Ringo, 77, real name Richard Starkey, joined the Beatles as a replacement drummer for Pete Best in 1962 and occasionally sang lead vocals, notably in “Yellow Submarine” and “With a Little Help from my Friends.”

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Beatle in 1988 and again in 2015 for his solo career after the group split up.

Gibb, 71, is the British musician who co-founded the Bee Gees with his brothers Robin and Maurice and went on to record a string of pop classics including “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever” from the film “Saturday Night Fever.”

English author Morpurgo, 74, is best known for children’s novels like “War Horse” and was Children’s Laureate from 2003 to 2005.

Bussell, 48, is a former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet and currently one of the four judges in the long-running BBC TV ballroom contest “Strictly Come Dancing.”

The New Year’s honors have been awarded since Queen Victoria’s reign in the 19th century and aim to recognize not just well-known figures but those who have contributed to national life through often selfless and unsung contributions over many years.

In that category, Margaret Jamieson, of the Blue Door charity shop on the Scottish island of Orkney is recognized, along with Geoffrey Evans, a local councillor in Falmouth, Cornwall for over 40 years.

Actor Hugh Laurie receives the CBE medal, as does author Jilly Cooper and the former editor of British Vogue magazine Alexandra Shulman.

England women’s cricket captain Heather Knight is made an OBE while hip hop artist Richard Cowie, aka Wiley, is made an MBE, along with Paralympian athlete Stefanie Reid.

The biannual honors list is released on the Queen’s official birthday in June and at the end of each year. The list is published by the Cabinet Office and can be seen at www.gov.uk/honours/honours-lists

(Reporting by Stephen Addison, editing by Andy Bruce)

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Box Office: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Tops $1 Billion Worldwide

FILE PHOTO: Actors Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill pose for photographers as they arrive for the European Premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’, at the Royal Albert Hall in central London, Britain December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

By Dave McNary

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has cleared the $1 billion milestone in worldwide grosses in less than three weeks.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” pulled in $120.4 million globally on the New Year’s Eve weekend with $52.4 million at 4,232 domestic venues and $68 million internationally during the Friday-Sunday period.

“The Last Jedi” is now the eighth highest-grossing domestic movie of all time with $517.1 million — only $15 million behind last year’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in the seventh spot. On the worldwide chart, it’s now 24th with $1.04 billion, edging Universal-Illumination’s “Despicable Me 3.” The tentpole’s international total, currently at $523.2 million, will see a significant jolt when it opens on Jan. 5 in China, its final market.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has also topped Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” which grossed $504 million in North America, for the top spot among 2017 releases domestically. It’s the fourth 2017 title to go past $1 billion worldwide, along with “Beauty and the Beast” at $1.26 billion, “The Fate of the Furious” at $1.24 billion and “Despicable Me 3” at $1.03 billion.

“The Last Jedi” is also winning the domestic weekend box office crown for the third time with $52.4 million, edging Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” which took in $50.6 million at 3,765 locations for the Friday-Sunday. However, Sony’s projection showed the “Jumanji” sequel grossing $16.5 million on New Year’s Day on Monday — well above Disney’s forecast of $13.2 million for “The Last Jedi.” Should those numbers hold, “Jumanji” would edge “Jedi” over the four-day period with $67 million, winning by $1.4 million.

“Jumanji” has been “The Last Jedi’s” biggest competitor by far since it opened on Dec. 20. The action-comedy should wind up with an 11-day domestic total of $186.3 million by the end of Monday. The action-comedy, starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, has a $90 million budget. It’s also performed impressively in international markets with $107 million thr0ugh Dec. 28.

“Jedi” and “Jumanji” helped lift the entire domestic box office for 2017 to $11.12 billion, down 2.3% from last year’s $11.38 billion and off slightly from 2015’s $11.14 billion, according to comScore. The gap for 2017 had been more than 6% at the end of the worst summer in a decade but performances by “It,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Justice League,” “Jedi” and “Jumanji” closed most of that margin.

“With another $11 billion plus year on the books, the industry looks ahead to awards season and a 2018 packed with blockbuster titles and a hope for a year slightly less volatile than 2017,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 3” led the rest of weekend’s domestic pack with a projected $22.7 million at 3,468 locations for Friday-Monday, lifting its 11-day total to $69.2 million. The comedy threequel, starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, took in $13.1 million this weekend from 34 international markets for a foreign total of $28.6 million.

Hugh Jackman’s musical drama “The Greatest Showman” is finishing a close fourth with $20.3 million at 3,316 theaters forecasted for the four days. The Fox-Chernin Entertainment title showed the biggest gain in the top 10 movies from the Christmas Eve weekend with an impressive 73% surge. The domestic total should hit $53.8 million through Monday.

Fox’s second weekend of “Ferdinand” — the only film to open on the same weekend as “The Last Jedi” — followed in fifth with $15.1 million at 3,337 North American venues, giving the animated comedy $57.3 million in 18 days. Disney-Pixar’s seventh weekend of “Coco” finished sixth with a projected $8.8 million at 2,845 sites for a domestic total of $181.1 million and $539 million worldwide.

Sony’s “All the Money in the World” and Focus Features’ “The Darkest Hour” were in a battle for seventh place at about $7.2 million for the four days. “All the Money” opened on Christmas Day as the final wide release of the year at 2,074 locations after director Ridley Scott excised Kevin Spacey’s scenes and reshot them with Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty, following the early November sexual abuse allegations against Spacey. Its eight-day total will be around $14.4 million.

Awards contender “Darkest Hour,” starring Gary Oldman as the 1940 version of Winston Churchill, expanded to 943 venues in its sixth weekend and will have taken in $19.8 million by the end of the weekend. Focus reported strong performance in Washington, D.C./Maryland, Phoenix, Boston, Salt Lake City, and Florida markets.

“‘Darkest Hour’ is taking America by storm,” said distribution chief Lisa Bunnell. “We’re seeing audiences coming out in big numbers. It’s a movie they found inspiring over the holiday break and the word of mouth gives us a strong outlook for the upcoming weeks.”

Matt Damon’s comedy-drama “Downsizing” finished ninth with a projected $6 million at 2,664 sites for the four days for Paramount. The 11-day total for “Downsizing,” which carries a $65 million budget and was directed by Alexander Payne, should come in around $18.5 million.

Warner Bros.-Alcon Entertainment’s second weekend of R-rated comedy “Father Figures” rounded out the top 10 with a projected $5.5 million at 2,902 locations. The 11-day total for the Owen Wilson-Ed Helms vehicle, which has a $25 million price tag, should hit about $14 million.

Cristin Milioti Breaks Down ‘Black Mirror’s’ Stand Against a ‘Misogynist Bully’ in ‘USS Callister’


By Danielle Turchiano

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – SPOILER ALERT:Do not read if you have not yet watched the “USS Callister” episode of “Black Mirror’s” fourth season.

When Cristin Milioti first received materials for “’s” “USS Callister” episode, she had no idea just how timely the story would become — that of a young woman, harassed at work by male bosses but who topples the patriarchy in a virtual reality world to become the captain of a the spaceship. In fact, she didn’t even know that was the character journey for Nanette, the woman she would be playing in the fourth season of Netflix’s futuristic anthology drama.

“I was only given a couple of pages of the script,” Milioti admits, explaining that the two scenes she was given initially were when Nanette meets Robert Daley (Jesse Plemons) on her first day in the gaming company’s office and the scene on the ship where she rallies the crew by telling them she’ll blackmail herself in order to get to Daley’s refrigerator full of his co-workers’ DNA.

“I was not able to piece things together from those two scenes, but I knew I loved how it was written and I loved her, in particular,” Milioti says.

Noting that it is very important to her to play “fully realized women who are very strong,” Milioti points out the unpacking of its characters’ layers is what made “USS Callister” stand out to her.

“She’s so tough, but one can write her off at first as being this very sweet, meek women in the office who just has her head down and is trying to focus on her work and isn’t taken as seriously as she would like to be taken. But when push comes to shove, she can captain a ship. She has a strength in her that no one saw coming. She’s a spitfire,” Milioti says of Nanette.

The episode starts by following Plemons’ Daley, a beaten-down tech genius by day who enters a virtual reality world of his own creation by night to lead a space crew of his real world co-workers on missions modeled after a beloved show from his childhood (the fictional “Space Fleet,” which looks a lot like “Star Trek”).

“It’s supposed to be heightened. It’s supposed to be sort of phony in some way. And that’s when I realized we should really go all-out. We couldn’t hold back on this. We had to go fully ‘Star Trek’ on the way that it was shot, the way that we held the camera,” director Toby Haynes says. “We literally built a spaceship that had a ceiling in the studio, and when we put a ceiling in, we had to light it like the original ‘Star Trek.’ When we come in close we needed to get the full molding lights and the back lights and the key lights, especially for those Kirk-like close-ups [on Daley]. It was a language.”

While that virtual world first just feels like a way for the man to escape Daley’s lackluster reality, he begins to show abuses of power within that world — first with the way he treats his crew there and then through the reveal of how he got that crew in the first place. In the “real” world, Daley collected and copied his co-workers’ DNA, effectively creating digital clones of them that he trapped inside the confines of the virtual world. They have the consciousnesses and the memories of his still very much alive co-workers, but they are doomed to bide their time on the spaceship, awaiting Daley’s visits to go on missions and fearing his wrath when he arrives.

“We think he’s the protagonist at first — he’s the hero — but slowly we realize he’s the villain, and I thought that was so well done,” Milioti says. “He’s a bully. He’s bullied into being a bully, and it’s beautiful that they did that so you understand why he is the way he is, but it doesn’t make it right.”

Nanette is introduced a few scenes into the episode, as a new employee at Daley’s company who has to deal with two kinds of harassment not only from Daley but from another executive at his company (played by Jimmi Simpson).

“This is a woman, who has Jimmi Simpson’s character putting his hand on her lower back and even Jesse Plemons’ character wants to make it something sexual, but she just wants to work,” Milioti explains, adding that she “just wants to be taken seriously as a coder” but like so many who enter a hostile workplace faces micro-aggressive harassment and chooses to deal with it in a way that has her “keeping her distance but with a smile” so as to not cause more problems or to lose the job she loves.

“What started out as ‘I want to work with the man who inspired me’ becomes shut down because it’s inappropriate almost immediately,” MIlioti says. “So the way I tried to portray her in the office is as someone who is overwhelmed by the niceties that she has to insist upon herself in the business world. If she wants to get ahead, she has to just smile, and as opposed to just ripping the hand off of her back, she shrugs her shoulders. I tried to make her voice a little higher, too, because it’s that thing where you’re just like, ‘Oh gosh, sorry!’ when you really want to be like, ‘Don’t kiss me on both cheeks, we’re not in Europe!’”.

But after Daley overhears Nanette saying she doesn’t want to pursue anything romantically, he feels slighted and uploads a copy of her DNA to his custom program as well. A new version of Nanette awakens on the ship and struggles to adjust to the reality that she is stuck there while another version of herself lives out in the “real world.”

“When she’s on the ship, the stakes are so incredibly high for her, and she’s fighting for her life, so all of those niceties just go out the window, and she lets go of the bulls— and the need to be polite and smile, all of that,” Milioti says. “She actually realizes her greatest potential. It’s why she fights him, it’s why she makes fun of him. As much as she’s a prisoner in that world, she takes the filter off for the first time and says, ‘F— you.’ I think she’s the truest version of herself on that ship.”

Nanette leads a revolution of the others on the ship to wipe his custom program. It is a plan that requires them to reach out to the real world version of herself in order to break into Daley’s home and steal their DNA so that he cannot just upload new copies of them and start the process over. Haynes admits he was nervous about the end and at one point questioned if it wouldn’t be a more fitting, typical “Black Mirror” end if the final shot was on Daley, stuck in his chair in his apartment in the quote-unquote real world.

“Charlie said not every ‘Black Mirror’ has to end in such a dark place,” Haynes says. “He knows that he has this in his back pocket — an episode that will end in a more positive place. I think it will really surprise people to have something that has such a dramatic draw but ends so positively as ‘USS Callister.’ It really throws you around tonally and emotionally. At least, that’s what I tried to do, to take these characters — these avatars — in a virtual environment and make you feel for them, make you care about them, and come away with a kind of empathy.”

Nanette’s plan is also one Milioti feels reflects the reality she wants to see more of in the actual real world: “a woman in charge [fighting] against a small-minded, misogynist bully.”

“In the quote-unquote real world, she probably continues to be a team player and very sweet and keeps her nose to the grindstone, but in the fake world she becomes a captain and beats the super villain,” Milioti says. “It’s amazing. Something that starts out so bleak is able to turn into her own hero’s story, and I love that.”

“Black Mirror” is streaming now on Netflix.

Veteran male rock’n’roll acts had biggest 2017 world tours

Irish group U2 receive an award at the 2017 MTV Europe Music Awards at Wembley Arena in London, Britain, November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Veteran, white male rock stars raked in the most cash from world tours in 2017, according to an annual list released on Thursday, while the highest-ranked women – Celine Dion and Lady Gaga – failed to make the top 10.

Irish band U2 grossed a leading $316 million from its 30th anniversary, 50-date “Joshua Tree” tour. It was followed by hard rock band Guns N’ Roses which took in $292.5 million, according to trade publication Pollstar’s ranking of the Top 20 worldwide tours of 2017.

British band Coldplay came in third, with $238 million, on a list where Bruno Mars, 32, of Puerto Rican and Philippine descent, was the only musician of color in the top ten. Mars grossed $200 million. Ed Sheeran, 26, was the youngest singer in the top ten, pulling in $124.1 million.

At a whopping $1,500 average, Bruce Springsteen’s limited Broadway run had the highest ticket prices and grossed $87.8 million to give the “Born to Run” singer 14th place.

In 11th place, Dion was the top female act with $101.2 million, while Lady Gaga’s “Joanne” tour grossed $85.7 million for 15th place.

The touring numbers mark a strong contrast with U.S. music sales and streaming preferences, where hip hop and R&B music this year became the most consumed music genre, according to a July Nielsen Music report.

The top 20 tours grossed $2.66 billion in 2017, a record high and an increase of more than $264 million from 2016, Pollstar said.

Pollstar’s ranking is based on ticket sales data and does not include revenue from merchandise which can add a sizable chunk to tour earnings.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Andrew Hay)

Disneyland Power Restored After Outage


By Rebecca Rubin

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – UPDATED: Power has been repaired and restored to Disneyland and all attractions are operating after the park suffered a power outage on Wednesday afternoon, Variety has confirmed.

At least a dozen rides and attractions were shut down shortly after 11 a.m., in Toontown and Fantasyland at the Anaheim, Calif., park, spokesperson Elva Rubalcava said. Crews worked to restore the outage, which stemmed from an issue with a Disneyland transformer.

A majority of the rides were back up by noon, however, a handful of attractions in Fantasyland were down until 4 p.m. Guests who were on rides when the power went out were escorted off by employees, though they were not asked to leave the area, according to patrons who shared their experience on social media.

According to Rubalcava, refunds are being handled on an individual basis.

A spokesperson didn’t know whether crowd size caused the issue. As of Wednesday afternoon, Disneyland Parks is currently only accepting guests for re-entry.

Earlier on Wednesday, the official Disneyland account tweeted that the park was busy. They later added, “Disney California Adventure Park remains available for your enjoyment. Updates to follow.”

With the holiday season being an especially hectic time for theme parks, Disney coincidentally tweeted earlier today, asking, “Why not relax and join us for a vacation to a galaxy far, far away. What’s the worst that could happen?” One guest replied, “Hmmm I don’t know maybe a major power outage and being stuck on a hot monorail car for an hour??? Oh wait.” Another posted a photo of the extremely packed park, while others complained about the lack of information being circulated from park officials.

Alicia Vikander, Carol Burnett, Aaron Taylor-Johnson Set as Golden Globe Presenters


By Variety Staff

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Alicia Vikander, Carol Burnett, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Shirley MacLaine are among the stars set as presenters for the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards telecast on Jan. 7.

The three-hour ceremony at the Beverly Hilton will be hosted by Seth Meyers and air live on NBC.

Vikander is a two-time Globe nominee, most recently for 2015’s “The Danish Girl,” for which she won a supporting actress Oscar.

Burnett has five Globe trophies, the last of which came in 1978 for her work on CBS’ “The Carol Burnett Show.”

Taylor-Johnson won the supporting actor motion picture prize this year for his performance in “Nocturnal Animals.”

MacLaine has been a Globes darling for decades. The first of her six wins came in 1955 when she was voted “most promising” female newcomer by Hollywood Foreign Press Association members. MacLaine was also feted with the org’s Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement kudo in 1998.

Next month’s Globes telecast might be a more somber affair than in years past. It will be the first live awards event to air since the turmoil in Hollywood erupted in October with sexual harassment allegations leveled against powerful men including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Dustin Hoffman, and others.

There’s also a budding social media push to encourage women to wear black to the ceremony in a sign of solidarity with women who have come forward with stories of abuse.

Now 80, Jane Fonda says she didn’t think she’d live to 30

FILE PHOTO: Actress Jane Fonda attends the Women’s Media Center 2017 Awards in New York, U.S., October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Actress Jane Fonda, who celebrated her 80th birthday last week, says that growing up she never expected to reach 30.

“I never pictured 30,” Fonda told People magazine in an interview published on Wednesday.

“I assumed I wouldn’t live very long and that I would die lonely and an addict of some sort. I didn’t think if I did live this long, that I would be vibrant and healthy and still working. I’m grateful,” she added.

Fonda’s mother committed suicide when she was 12 years old and the same year her actor father, Henry Fonda, remarried. She has spoken in the past about suffering from bulimia, taking hallucinogenic drugs and being abused as a child.

Fonda won her first Oscar in 1972, at age 35, for the movie “Klute” and went on to win her second for the 1978 Vietnam War drama “Coming Home.” She became an anti-war and women’s activist, launched a fitness craze with her 1980s workout videos, married three times, and is nominated at January’s Screen Actors Guild awards for her lead role in TV series “Grace and Frankie”.

The actress turned 80 on Dec. 21.

“I’m thankful that I’ve gotten better over the 80 years,” she told People. “I’m less judgmental. I’m forgiving. It wasn’t always true. I’ve really worked hard to get better as a human being.”

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Andrew Hay)

‘Sound of Music’ actress Heather Menzies-Urich dies at 68

FILE PHOTO: Cast members Heather Menzies-Urich (L), Kym Karath (C), and Debbie Turner pose during 50th anniversary screening of musical drama film “The Sound of Music” at the opening night gala of the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 26, 2015. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

(Corrects Dec. 25 story to say that Menzies-Urich played the third-oldest von Trapp child, not the oldest)

By Dave McNary

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Actress Heather Menzies-Urich, best known for portraying Louisa von Trapp in the 1965 film “The Sound of Music,” died Sunday night in Frankford, Ontario. She was 68.

Menzies-Urich, the widow of actor Robert Urich, had been recently diagnosed with cancer, according to her son Ryan Urich.

Urich said his mother died on Christmas Eve, surrounded by her children and family members.

“She was an actress, a ballerina and loved living her life to the fullest,” Urich said. “She was not in any pain but, nearly four weeks after her diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, she had enough and took her last breath on this earth at 7:22 pm.”

Born in Toronto, Menzies-Urich’s first screen credit came in the TV series “The Farmer’s Daughter” in 1964. She was then cast as the third-oldest of the seven von Trapp children in “The Sound of Music.” The film adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was a box office smash that won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Kym Karath, who played Gretl, tweeted, “I am filled with infinite sadness.”

Ted Chapin, president and chief creative officer of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, praised Menzies-Urich’s efforts to keep the movie fresh for new generations.

“Heather was part of ‘the family.’ There is really no other way to describe the members of the cast of the movie of ‘The Sound of Music.’ And of ‘the kids,’ Heather was a cheerful and positive member of the group, always hoping for the next gathering,” Chapin said. “We are all lucky to have known her, and she will happily live on in that beautiful movie. We will miss her.”

Her other feature films credits included “Hawaii,” “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes,” “Piranha,” and “Endangered Species. Her TV credits included “Dragnet,” “Bonanza,” “Marcus Welby M.D.,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and starring as Jessica 6 in the TV series “Logan’s Run.”

Menzies-Urich’s family moved from Canada to the Los Angeles area when she was a teenager. She was 14 when she landed the part of Louisa in the landmark 20th Century Fox production, directed by Robert Wise, that starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

Menzies-Urich met her future husband while filming a commercial for Libby’s Corned Beef Hash in the mid-1970s. Urich died in 2002 of a rare form of cancer. Menzies-Urich created the Robert Urich Foundation and spent most of her time in recent years to the organization that raises money for cancer research and support for cancer patients.

In addition to her son, Menzies-Urich is survived by two other children, numerous grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Israel ambassador asks to meet New Zealand pop star Lorde over canceled show

Lorde performs on the Other Stage at Worthy Farm in Somerset during the Glastonbury Festival in Britain, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand on Wednesday appealed to the pop star Lorde to meet him after she canceled a show in Tel Aviv after appeals from activists for her to shun Israel as a protest against its treatment of Palestinians.

Itzhak Gerberg, Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand, said in a public letter it was “regrettable” that the concert had been called off and the boycott of his country represented “hostility and intolerance”.

“I invite you to meet me in person to discuss Israel, its achievements and its role as the only democracy in the Middle East,” Gerberg said on the Embassy of Israel’s Facebook page.

Lorde’s representatives did not immediately respond to request for comment on her response or whether she planned to meet the ambassador.

The 21-year-old New Zealand singer had been slated to perform in Tel Aviv in June as part of a global tour to promote her chart-topping second album ‘Melodrama’.

Campaigners have been urging her to scrap the show, calling in an open letter on Dec. 21 for her to pull out as part of a boycott to oppose Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

“Playing in Tel Aviv will be seen as giving support to the policies of the Israeli government, even if you make no comment on the political situation,” campaigners Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, wrote on news website The Spinoff.

“We believe that an economic, intellectual and artistic boycott is an effective way of speaking out,” they said.

Lorde said on Twitter at the time she was speaking with “many people about this and considering all options”.

Eran Arielli, the promoter of the concert, said on Facebook on Sunday that the show was off.

“The truth is I was naive to think that an artist of her age would be able to absorb the pressure involved in coming to Israel,” he wrote in Hebrew.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was launched in 2005 as a non-violent campaign to press Israel to heed international law and end its occupation of territory Palestinians seek for a state.

Artists who have boycotted Israel include Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Elvis Costello.

Other major stars, such as Elton John, Aerosmith, Guns and Roses, the Rolling Stones, Justin Bieber and Rihanna have performed in recent years in Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government has long campaigned against the BDS movement, describing it as anti-Semitic and an attempt to erase Israel’s legitimacy.

(This story has been refiled to show Eran Arielli was sole promoter, paragraph 10.)

(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield in WELLINGTON; additional reporting by Peter Hirschberg in SYDNEY and Jeffrey Heller in JERUSALEM; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Celebrities Who Made a Difference in 2017


By Alex Stedman

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – 2017 saw some dark times, to say the least. From the aftermath of an especially divisive election to terrorist attacks, the troubling headlines — both in the U.S. and abroad — kept rolling in.

And celebrities, like so many other citizens, felt compelled to led a helping hand. While there are countless stars who spoke out politically on social media, raised money for various causes, and gave rousing speeches at awards shows and rallies, we decided to look back at some of the stars who made a measurable difference in the past year. Whether they were championing diversity in Hollywood, inspiring hope after tragedy, or exposing some of the entertainment industry’s dark secrets, here are 10 celebrities who truly made a difference in 2017.

Ariana Grande

Grande was performing at a concert on May 22 in Manchester when unexpected tragedy struck: a terrorist bombing at the Manchester Arena, killing 23 people and injuring more than 500 others. It would have been understandable for Grande to recoil from the public for awhile, but instead, she was back on stage no less than two weeks later in triumphant fashion. Spearheaded in part by manager Scooter Braun, Grande headlined a benefit concert, One Love Manchester , raising funds for the victims of the bombing and featuring big names like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Miley Cyrus. It also spawned one of Grande’s most memorable performances: a touching rendition of “Over the Rainbow.”

Chance the Rapper

puts his money where his mouth is. The Chicago native has always been an advocate for his city, but 2017 saw the artist step up in a big way, when he and his charity SocialWorks donated a whopping $2.2 million to the Chicago Public School system. In addition, he announced the Twilight Awards, which will take place in June 2018 in the Windy City and honor the often-underappreciated educators. On a smaller but still important scale, he handed out toys to children, collected by Chicago-area students, on Dec. 20 at the city’s Field Museum. And that’s not to mention the other work he’s done, like livestreaming his Hollywood Bowl concert in October to raise funds to aid Hurricane Maria victims. Chicago truly couldn’t ask for a better hometown hero.

Chris Evans

Sometimes, when someone’s being bullied, all it takes is one cool kid to stand up for them… and who’s cooler than Captain America himself? When Keaton Jones posted a video that would go on to go viral with a devastating account of being bullied, several celebrities sent him support on social media, but Evans invited him to the “Avengers: Infinity War” premiere, presumably sending the bullies running for the hills. Plus, the actor has been an outspoken activist via social media, perhaps most memorably getting in a heated Twitter war with David Duke. “Look, I’m in a business where you’ve got to sell tickets,” he told Esquire in March. “But, my God, I would not be able to look at myself in the mirror if I felt strongly about something and didn’t speak up.” Amen, Cap.

Gina Rodriguez 

Immigration was no doubt a hot-button issue this year, especially considering that the current POTUS staked his campaign, in part, on the promise of “The Wall.” “Jane the Virgin” star Rodriguez just didn’t speak out when Trump announced plans to roll back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program — she’s developing an entire show aimed at dismantling the stigmas associated with immigrants and telling their stories. Titled “Illegal” and announced shortly after Trump’s DACA plans made headlines, it’s based on the life of series co-executive producer and writer Rafael Agustin. It’s one of two shows related to immigrants she’s developing as part of her overall deal with CBS TV Studios. The other, “Have Mercy,” centers on a Latina doctor who is unable to practice when she immigrates to Miami.

Alyssa Milano

When Milano tweeted a message inviting women to share their stories of sexual harassment or assault with the hashtag #MeToo, she wasn’t surprised at the massive response she got from around the world, she told Variety at the time . But it would have been hard to predict how much the movement, first started by Tarana Burke 10 years ago, would take off after Milano lent it her voice. Within 24 hours, more than 53,000 people left comments on her original viral tweet, and tens of thousands more used the hashtag to raise awareness of the daily struggle so many women face. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lawrence, and Reese Witherspoon opened up about the issue. The epidemic of sexual harassment still rages on but, thanks in large part to Milano, it’s no longer a silent one.

Colin Kaepernick

To be fair, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick first took the knee heard ’round the world in 2016, when he began to kneel during the National Anthem before the start of NFL games to protest racial inequality in America. But 2017 saw his actions amplified, thanks in large part to President Donald Trump. POTUS tweeted back in September that players who kneel during the National Anthem should be fired or suspended — leading to dozens of the NFL’s top stars, including the conservative Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones , taking a knee in solidarity with Kaepernick. Kaepernick is a free agent now, with political controversy no doubt preventing him from getting picked up, but he deserves credit for starting a movement.

Ed Skrein

How do you solve a problem like whitewashing? Boycotts haven’t worked. Op-eds, while drawing attention to the issue, haven’t worked. Sometimes it takes an actor to step up — and step aside in place of a person of color. That’s exactly what Skrein, who was cast in the role of Major Ben Daimio in the new “Hellboy,” did just days after his casting was announced, leaving the role after public outcry , saying he didn’t know his character was “of mixed Asian heritage.” Daniel Dae Kim would go on to replace him. While you could argue that he shouldn’t have taken the part in the first place (and it would be a valid argument), stepping down was a bold move, and one that sets a precedent for other actors in his position.

Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park

Kim and Park made headlines when they both exited “Hawaii Five-O” in June after appearing in the rebooted version of the CBS series since its 2010 debut. And they made no secret about the reason why: they had been seeking  pay parity with white stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan. “It’s possible to be grateful for the opportunity and have respect for your colleagues and still maintain a steadfast sense of your self-worth,” Kim said in a Facebook post at the time. While CBS offered a different version of the negotiations (“Hawaii Five-O” showrunner Peter Lenkov insisted that CBS was “extremely generous” with the departing actors), Kim and Park opened the door to a necessary conversation about race and salary in Hollywood.

When Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, Miranda, who has family on the island and is of Puerto Rican heritage, couldn’t sit around and do nothing. Quite the opposite: in October, he released a charity single , “Almost Like Praying,” featuring Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Camila Cabello, Gloria Estefan, Fat Joe, Luis Fonsi, John Leguizamo, Rita Moreno, and more to raise money for Puerto Rico after the hurricane. He just recently urged the government to provide more assistance to Puerto Rico months after the hurricane in a stirring op-ed for the Washington Post , and — perhaps the cherry on top — revealed that he’ll be reprising his “Hamilton” role for a special series of shows in Puerto Rico next year, giving the beleaguered citizens something to look forward to.


For those suffering with suicidal thoughts and seeking help, Logic made it very easy for them to find. Logic named his emotional and powerful single “1-800-273-8255,” the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and almost immediately made a huge impact. According to the hotline , when the song was released on April 28, it received the second-highest daily call volume in its history at the time: more than 4,573 calls, and increase of 27% compared to the same day of the week for the previous three weeks. The volume of calls also increased after Logic’s moving performance with Alessia Cara and Khalid  at the MTV Video Music Awards , which saw the number flash on the screen behind him and local Los Angeles volunteers in T-shirts bearing the lifeline’s number join the stage.

The Victims Who Spoke Out

Last but certainly not least, this year was one of a reckoning of sexual abusers in Hollywood, spurred by the victims who were brave enough go public, among them several famous faces. Even before the Harvey Weinstein bombshell dropped, Taylor Swift successfully countersued a former radio DJ who groped her during a photo op (and then blamed her for the loss of his job) for a mere $1, sending a statement loud and clear. When the New York Times expose did publish, Ashley Judd and Asia Argento spoke on-the-record about their harrowing experiences with the disgraced mogul. Rose McGowan was another clear leader in the movement, holding Weinstein and his enablers accountable.

And then the other shoes started to drop. Olivia Munn went public with her claims against Brett Ratner, emboldening other women to do so as well. Terry Crews shattered stereotypes when he led the charge against WME’s Adam Venit , claiming that the high-profile agent groped his genitals at a Hollywood party. Anthony Rapp told BuzzFeed that Kevin Spacey made a pass at him when he was only 14, spurring even more men to level accusations against the “House of Cards” actor. And before even any of that, Amber Tamblyn, after alleging that James Woods hit on her when she was 16, wrote in the New York Times that she’s “done with being not believed.”

It’s hard to even mention, in brief terms, the dozens of others who came foreword, from the “One Tree Hill” cast’s brave letter alleging sexual misconduct against showrunner Mark Schwahn to Ellen Page’s powerful Facebook post that not only accused Ratner of sexist and homophobic behavior, but detailed the struggles facing women, LGBT individuals, and people of color in Hollywood. It hasn’t been easy — far from it — but the courage of victims started a cultural movement that will undoubtedly reverberate long after the year is over.

Variety Critics Name the 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

VARIETY-ENTERTAINMENT-FILM/OPINION:Bohemian Rhapsody Ilse of Dogs A Wrinkle in Time

By Variety Staff

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Variety polled its international team of critics, asking which films they were most looking forward to in the coming year. The results are diverse, ranging from likely blockbusters to potential Palme d’Or winners, although you won’t find a single comic-book movie on this list.

“Annihilation” (Feb. 23)
Alex Garland follows his hit debut “Ex Machina” with a brainy horror movie about an all-female team of explorers who venture into a deadly environmental disaster zone. Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s award-winning trilogy, the nature thriller stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and an iridescent mist that gives the air the sinister shimmer of an oil slick. — Amy Nicholson

“Black Klansman”
For many, the pinnacle of Spike Lee’s career to date remains 1992’s epic biopic “Malcolm X.” A quarter-century later, he returns to fact-based drama with the incredible story of Ron Stallworth (played by Denzel’s son John David Washington), an African-American police detective who managed to infiltrate a Colorado Ku Klux Klan chapter — even getting appointed its leader. With Jordan Peele on board as a producer, this should be Jones’ most scorchingly relevant joint in some time. — Dennis Harvey

“Bohemian Rhapsody” (Dec. 25)
I’ve been waiting for years to see a musical drama about Queen and the tumultuous life and reckless passion of their lead singer, Freddie Mercury. But director Bryan Singer unleashed a rash of headlines by getting fired off the project, with just over two weeks of shooting to go, and he was then accused of rape. The film’s future suddenly looks murky: Will it see the light of day? And, if so, will Singer’s name be on the project? It’s too early to tell, but the movie could still prove to be an ecstatic rock biopic. The wild card is Rami Malek (from “Mr. Robot”), who plays Mercury: Will he nail that sublime flamboyance from hell? — Owen Gleiberman

“Boy Erased” (Sept. 28)
In his 2015 suspense film “The Gift,” the actor Joel Edgerton proved to be a filmmaker of shrewd and stunning talent. For his second feature as a director, he turns to a subject that begs to be treated with dramatic honesty: the moral travesty that is “conversion therapy.” Based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir, the film stars Lucas Hedges, the great young actor from “Manchester by the Sea” and “Lady Bird,” as the gay son of a Baptist pastor (Russell Crowe) in small-town Arkansas. Nicole Kidman plays his mother, and Edgerton is the conversion therapist against whom Conley gradually goes to war. Owen Gleiberman

While his name may not be as well known in the U.S. as Bong Joon Ho and Park Chan-wook, South Korean director Lee Chang-dong is a profound humanist (see “Secret Sunshine”) working in a country known for its innovative artifice. It’s been a long seven years since Lee’s previous feature, “Poetry.” Expect his latest, adapted from a New Yorker short story by sometime-surrealist Haruki Murakami, to premiere at Cannes. — Peter Debruge

“Everybody Knows”
There are certain filmmakers who, when they say they’re going to make a “thriller,” mean that they’re going to find the psychological shivers in reality. That’s the anticipation one has for the first thriller directed by Iran’s Asghar Farhadi. Coming off a trio of brilliant films (“A Separation,” “The Past” and “The Salesman”), all set in Iran, Farhadi now travels to Spain to tell the story of a woman, played by Penélope Cruz, who returns to her hometown and confronts a series of strange events. The costars are Javier Bardem and Ricardo Darín. — Owen Gleiberman

“First Man” (Oct. 12)
Damien Chazelle’s first feature after “La La Land” would be a breathlessly awaited event even if he wasn’t literally shooting the moon. It’s an epic docudrama, starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, that chronicles the entire history of the space race, starting in 1961 and culminating in Armstrong’s July 21, 1969, walk on the lunar surface. Timed to anticipate the 50th anniversary of that globe-altering event, the movie has the chance to be a stirring and visionary reminder of what America could once do. — Owen Gleiberman

“Halloween”/“Suspiria” (Oct. 19/TBD)
Under most circumstances, the ravaging of classic horror properties for modern remakes would raise an immediate red flag, but two ’70s standard-bearers have fallen into the right hands. Directors David Gordon Green and Luca Guadagnino both did excellent work in 2017 with “Stronger” and “Call Me by Your Name,” respectively, and their sensibilities are well-suited to genre revivals. Green’s “Halloween” will likely forego the revisionist shocks of the Rob Zombie reboots in favor of a more faithful evocation of the original, and Guadagnino’s florid sensuality is perfect for “Suspiria,” to say nothing of Tilda Swinton in the Joan Bennett role. — Scott Tobias

“High Life”
The irresistible combination of director Claire Denis and sci-fi in a story about a group of convicts on a no-return exploration into space is already exciting enough. Add an intriguing cast headed by Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche, plus Icelandic-Danish sculptor Olafur Eliasson’s designs for the black hole, and cinephile’s expectations for Denis’ first English-language film are literally sky-high. — Jay Weissberg

“Isle of Dogs” (March 23)
Following a relatively mediocre year for big-studio animation, 2018 brings cause for hope: Aardman’s “Early Man,” Pixar’s “The Incredibles 2” and China’s beyond-gorgeous “Big Fish and Begonia” (already a record-setting phenomenon back home). The most eccentric of the lot will undoubtedly be Wes Anderson’s return to the world of stop-motion (following “Fantastic Mr. Fox”), in which talking canines are banished to their own island. — Peter Debruge

“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”
The setbacks that “Time Bandits” director Terry Gilliam has faced on this project are so epic, they spawned a feature-length documentary, “Lost in La Mancha.” Enter Amazon Studios, which saw the potential of applying cinema’s preeminent magical realist to this imaginative retelling of Cervantes’ novel. Barring any unforeseen complications, Gilliam’s fans will finally have a chance to see what promises to be the director’s magnum opus. — Peter Debruge

“The Palace”
Bringing the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai to the screen would be a huge challenge for any first-time director, though Aussie Anthony Maras (recently named one of Variety’s “10 Directors to Watch” ) enlisted a starry cast that includes Dev Patel, Armie Hammer and Jason Isaacs for the project. Here’s hoping it delivers on the promise of his outstanding 2011 short film of the same name (although that one is about something completely different, being an action-drama set during the 1974 conflict in Cyprus). — Richard Kuipers

“Ready Player One” (March 30)
Until now, “Wreck-It Ralph” is the closest Hollywood has come to making a great video game movie. Because hope springs eternal, however, 2018 brings “Rampage” and a “Tomb Raider” reboot, which both look pretty pro forma. Still, there’s potential in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s sci-fi scavenger-hunt novel, which imagines an elaborate virtual-reality gaming environment the director has populated with fan-favorite characters, from Freddy Krueger to the Iron Giant. — Peter Debruge

“Red Sparrow” (March 2)
We’re entering the “try everything” phase of Jennifer Lawrence’s career, and it’s quite a ride. She’s flexing her artsy muscles with Darren Aronofsky and Luca Guadagnino, but is also expanding her multiplex range in this sleek, classily cast espionage thriller from her “Hunger Games” director (and expert hokum merchant) Francis Lawrence. J.Law as a Russian ballerina turned undercover intelligence agent? It’s not obvious, and I’m in. — Guy Lodge

In his first film since “Gravity” (yes, four years ago), director Alfonso Cuarón tells the multi-stranded story of a middle-class family in Mexico City during the early 1970s. It’s the first film the director has set in his country of origin since “Y Tu Mamá También” (2001), and it promises to be a portrait at once intimate and teeming. — Owen Gleiberman

Zhang Yimou’s upcoming costume epic depicts the relationship between an exiled king and his general, as they plot to take back their realm. Starring actor-director Deng Chao (“The Mermaid”), one of the most bankable actors in China, “Shadow” supposedly boasts an aesthetic inspired by Chinese ink wash painting, promising a return to more lyrical form after “The Great Wall.” — Maggie Lee

“The Sisters Brothers”
For his first English-language feature, French director Jacques Audiard (Oscar nominated for “A Prophet”) attempts a darkly comical take on that most American of movie genres, the Western, in his adaptation of the novel by Canadian author Patrick deWitt. Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly star as gunmen ordered by their fearsome boss (Rutger Hauer) to kill a troublesome prospector (Jake Gyllenhaal) in 1850s San Francisco. Nothing goes according to plan. — Joe Leydon

After galvanizing Cannes and going on to win the foreign language Oscar with his debut “Son Of Saul,” Hungarian director Laszló Nemes set a high bar for his second feature. Although not much is known about “Sunset,” the portents look promising. It’s another period piece, set in pre-WWI Budapest. And important “Saul” collaborators such as co-writer Clara Royer, DP Mátyás Erdély and producers Gábor Rajna and Gábor Sipos are on board. — Alissa Simon

“Widows” (Nov. 18)
Next year, “Ocean’s 8” isn’t the only female-led heist movie to look forward to. Boasting an equally impressive cast — plus an Oscar-winning director in Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”), who co-wrote with “Gone Girl” scribe Gillian Flynn — this update of the 1983 British TV miniseries about four women who choose to finish the heist that killed their husbands unites Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo. — Nick Schager

“A Wrinkle in Time” (March 9)
With so few women being handed the reins of blockbuster franchise movies, there’s reason to celebrate the faith Disney put in director Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) and screenwriter Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”) to adapt Madeline L’Engle’s visionary fantasy novel — starring none other than Oprah! While the rest of Hollywood takes baby steps, Disney is making giant strides in the right direction, having also tapped Niki Caro to helm its live-action “Mulan” remake. — Peter Debruge

‘Hamilton’ takes center stage in London’s West End

Fans gather outside the Victoria Palace theatre ahead of the opening-night performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “Hamilton” in London, Britain December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Hanrahan

By Mark Hanrahan

LONDON (Reuters) – They may have been casting off the yoke of British rule, but the cast of Broadway smash “Hamilton” nonetheless received a rapturous reception from a star-studded, 1,500-strong audience at the show’s official opening night in London on Thursday.

The show, created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is an unconventional take on the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States, featuring a racially diverse cast and a hip-hop-inflected score.

Though the show is rooted firmly in the 18th and 19th centuries, Miranda feels that its themes of legacy and how one spends time on earth still resonate with contemporary audiences.

“That’s what Hamilton and (antagonist Vice President Aaron) Burr are wrestling with the whole time, and I think that’s what people are responding to,” Miranda told Reuters.

Miranda, who played the title role on Broadway, took to the stage after the performance to thank the cast and crew.

Addressing media coverage of the show’s runaway success, he said: “I never want to see the words ‘overnight success’ associated with this show,” saying that his relationships with collaborators on the project dated to 2002.

Thursday’s show was attended by many notable public figures, including musical impresario Andrew-Lloyd Webber, Queen guitarist Brian May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

“Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, who also attended the performance, described the show as “a masterpiece,” adding that it was “striking a chord with the younger generations and that’s what we need in the theater.”

The play is notable for casting black, Asian and Latin actors to play the roles of white historical figures.

The title role, which was originally played by Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was filled by Londoner Jamael Westman, who has Irish and Jamaican heritage.

The London production, housed in the newly refurbished Victoria Palace theater, is the show’s first foray outside of the United States after successful runs in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as New York.

The Broadway production won 11 Tony awards and netted Miranda a Pulitzer Prize in 2016.

Any uncertainty about whether British audiences would share their American counterparts’ enthusiasm for the show was quickly assuaged by a remarkable demand for tickets, which London’s Guardian newspaper reported were being offered by re-sellers for up to 6,000 pounds ($8,000).

The show’s depiction of an effete King George III, Britain’s ruler during the U.S. revolutionary war, also drew some of the biggest laughs of the night from the British crowd.

(Reporting by Mark Hanrahan and Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Box Office: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ soars to $745 million worldwide

Producer Ram Bergman, director Rian Johnson and actors Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill pose for pictures as they arrive for the China premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ at the Shanghai Disney Resort in Shanghai, China, December 20, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

By Dave McNary

(Variety.com) – Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is showing plenty of force at mulitplexes worldwide with $745.4 million globally as of Sunday.

The North American take has hit $365 million in its first 10 days as of Sunday with the studio projecting another $32 million on Christmas Day on Monday – making it the third highest domestic release in 2017 following “Beauty and the Beast” with $504 million and “Wonder Woman” at $412 million.

“Stars Wars: The Last Jedi” has totaled $380.3 million in international box office. It is already the top grossing film of 2017 in both Denmark and Sweden and the fourth highest grosser in the overall European market. The U.K. is the top market with $67.4 million, followed by Germany with $40 million, France with $29.3 million and Australia with $26.9 million.

“The Last Jedi,” which picks up following the events of 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” is so far the 87th highest worldwide grosser of all time, trailing 2016’s “Suicide Squad” by $1.4 million. Rian Johnson directed with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o and Domhnall Gleeson reprising their roles. It’s the final screen role for Fisher, who died a year ago.

Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 3” have also opened solidly while Fox’s “The Greatest Showman” is drawing respectably at the domestic box office. But moviegoers are showing little interest in Paramount’s “Downsizing” and Warner Bros.-Alcon’s “Father Figures.”

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opened with the second-largest North American launch ever in its first weekend with $220 million. It faced competition for the first time on Dec. 20, with Sony’s action comedy “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” which is leading the rest of the pack with $34 million at 3,765 sites for Friday-Sunday and a six-day total of around $64 million.

Josh Greenstein, Sony’s president of worldwide marketing and distribution, pointed to the A- CinemaScore as an indication that “Jumanji” is attracting all demographics. “We have incredible momentum as we go into the biggest moviegoing week of the year,” he added.

“Jumanji” also opened solidly with $49.5 million in 53 international markets, finishing ahead of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in 28 territories. Its top performance came in the U.K. with a second-place finish at $10.1 million including previews.

Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 3” took in $20.5 million at 3,447 theaters and is on track for $27 million by the end of the four-day period. The threequel brought back the Bellas singing group with Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp and Hana Mae Lee reprising their roles. “Pitch Perfect 3″also opened with $9.8 million in 14 international markets.

Hugh Jackman’s “The Greatest Showman,” a musical take on circus founder P.T. Barnum, grossed $8.6 million at 3,006 venues during Friday-Sunday. The movie, produced by Chernin Entertainment, opened on Dec. 20 and is on track to take in about $18 million in its first six days.

“Downsizing” took in a quiet $4.6 million at 2,558 theaters in its Friday-Sunday debut and should finish four-day frame with $6.2 million. Paramount paid $65 million for the near-future comedy in which Matt Damon agrees to be shrunk to five inches in exchange for a better life. Audiences were unimpressed, giving the film a C CinemaScore.

“Father Figures” grossed a tepid $3.2 million at 3,902 theaters during Friday-Sunday and should add about $1 million on Monday. The film follows brothers – played by Owen Wilson and Ed Helms – who set out to find their biological father.

“The Post,” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, dazzled with $495,000 at nine sites for Friday-Sunday. Fox will go wide with the journalism drama on Jan. 12.

Iggy Azalea, Ryan Tedder, Questlove, More Pay Tribute to Maroon 5 Manager Jordan Feldstein


By Variety Staff

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Jordan Feldstein , longtime manager of  Maroon 5  and the brother of actor  Jonah Hill   died suddenly at home in Los Angele s on Friday night. He was 40. The cause of death was a heart attack, according to the Feldstein family. The Los Angeles County coroner confirmed Feldstein’s death.

Feldstein founded management company Career Artist Management (CAM), which was based out of the Live Nation offices in Beverly Hills. In addition to  , the CAM roster includes Miguel, Elle King and Robin Thicke, among others. Feldstein negotiated Maroon 5’s Adam Levine’s coach role on NBC’s “The Voice.”

Tributes to Feldstein began appearing almost immediately on social media, from OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, Iggy Azalea, Questlove, Big Boi, Juicy J, Live Nation and its CEO, Michael Rapino, and others.

Matt Damon’s No Good, Very Bad Year at the Box Office


By Dave McNary

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – “Downsizing” may be the most appropriate title to cap off a dismal 2017 at the box office for Matt Damon.

The Alexander Payne dramedy launched quietly with $425,000 from Thursday previews at approximately 1,900 North American locations. “” expanded to 2,668 sites on Friday and wound up sixth place with $2 million (including the preview grosses). That gives it an unimpressive $6.9 million projection for the four days.

That’s a meager taking for “Downsizing’s” $65 million budget for the film produced by Megan Ellison, Mark Johnson, Payne, and Jim Taylor. Reviews for the movie, which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, have also been mixed, with a 52% Rotten Tomatoes score for the near-future story of a couple who agree to be shrunk to five inches so they can start a new life in an experimental community. The film also received an unimpressive C CinemaScore.

Still, the film was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten movies of 2017, and Hong Chau received nominations for best supporting actress for the Golden Globes and SAG Awards.

“Downsizing” is opening two months after Damon’s period crime comedy “Suburbicon” performed dismally in ninth place with a $2.8 million opening weekend at 2,036 North American locations. Paramount pulled the comedy, which was directed by George Clooney and carried a $25 million budget, out of theaters after three weeks.

Damon was also the most recognizable name in “The Great Wall,” the $150 million U.S.-China co-production, which wound up with just $45 million in the U.S. earlier this year. “The Great Wall,” directed by Zhang Yimou, fared better overseas, taking in about $290 million internationally, including $170 million from China last year. It did, however, generate some controversy, with critics saying Damon took on a “white savior” role in the massive production.

Damon did show his clout as a global star before 2017; last year’s “Jason Bourne” took in $415 million worldwide and 2015’s “The Martian” pulled in an impressive $630 million. He was also part of the “Ocean’s” trilogy, which grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide between 2001 and 2007.

Could 2018 prove to be a better year for the actor? He will reprise his Linus Caldwell character in the “Ocean’s 8” spinoff starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, and Rihanna. Here’s hoping that it’s only uphill from now.