Ella Christiansen's Posts (309)

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BC and its new drama “Big Sky” are being called out by multiple tribal nations and Indigenous leaders for an “incomplete depiction of violence against women and girls.”

Following a letter last week addressed to ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke and series creator David E. Kelley, among others, the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) have now added their voices to the chorus of criticisms.

The series, based on the 2013 novel “The Highway” by C.J. Box, is set in Montana and centers around abductions that occur at truck stops. The Indigenous groups are accusing the show of “at best, cultural insensitivity, and at worst, appropriation” due to being set in area with a disproportionately high rate of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG), yet not having any tribal representation in the show.

Variety has asked ABC for comment.

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, which represents Montana’s eight federally recognized Indian Tribes, is also among the Indigenous organizations raising concerns about “Big Sky,” pointing to the fact it is shot not in Montana, but in unceded Indigenous territory in British Columbia.

“Making the abduction and trafficking of women for primetime entertainment is bad enough. Erasing the reallife tragedy of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) crisis is unconscionable. We live with the consequences of this loss and trauma on a daily basis, but ABC won’t even acknowledge it, even after they’ve been given an opportunity to do so,” said A. Gay Kingman, executive director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association, in a statement.

In the aforementioned letter, Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council executive director William F. Snell and Chairman David Sickey of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana wrote that “tribal members constitute 7% of the population, but the state identifies some 26% of missing persons as Native American,” making the lack of Indigenous representation in “Big Sky” all the more stark.

“The systemic failures of law enforcement in Canada and the US to address the MMIWG tragedy are well known and documented,” added Melissa Moses, UBCIC women’s representative. “Violence against Indigenous women is particularly endemic in British Columbia, where one of the most infamous highways in Canada, ‘the Highway of Tears,’ is located. This highway is a painful and haunting symbol of the violence destroying Indigenous lives and bears resemblance to the one depicted in ‘The Highway,’ the novel ‘Big Sky’ is adapted from…ABC now has the invaluable opportunity to be our ally, to show respect and compassion to victims and impacted family members and loved ones, and to help inform the public in both Canada and the United States of this international and national crisis and dark truth.”


Article by: Will Thorne for Variety.

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From Marvel to “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” 2019 has ushered in a new wave of gifts perfect for film and television lovers.




“Breaking Bad” x K-Swiss Collection

In celebration of “Breaking Bad’s” Netflix original movie follow-up “El Camino,” K-Swiss released a limited edition pair of sneakers designed in the vein of Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) RV. Only 300 of these K-Swiss Classic 2000 “Breaking Bad” recreational vehicle style sneakers were released, making them not only a stylish wardrobe choice but also a collector’s item for diehard fans.


Idris Elba’s 2HR Set Line

Idris Elba has gradually expanded his resume to include acting, directing, producing, DJing and now designing fashion. Elba’s casual  2HR Set collection comes in men’s/unisex, women’s and children styles, including tees, sweatsuits, leggings and jackets. He also has a line of accessories that range from hats to bags. While his first line is heavily branded with the 2HR Set logo, he is also expanding into collaborations with other artists from whom he finds inspiration. Currently the first line is available on the brand’s website at 2hrset.com.


Adidas AM4 Marvel 80 Vol. 2

Marvel and Adidas, working with designer Joe Quesada, have created limited edition Speedfactory AM4 sneakers available only at Foot Locker (and that company’s website). The design of the shoe is optimized for athletics — both in its lightweight and sustainable materials as well as by taking constant consumer feedback to help shape the design. In this case, they are also stylized for the colorful world of comics.


Marvel Bomber Jackets

Working with Hero Within, Marvel’s “Captain Marvel” flight jacket and “Avengers” bomber jacket have been painstakingly recreated for adults everywhere. The nylon navy flight jacket is a unisex cut, featuring the star logo embroided on the back and “C. Danvers” on a patch over the left breast. The unisex “Avengers” jacket has an embroided logo patch on the right arm and title patch on over the left breast. Both feature eight pockets (four inside and four outside) and a sublimated lining.




“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” Game of Life

If you were lamenting that The Game of Life is a bit outdated for today’s technology-driven woes, Hasbro figured out a solution. The toy and game conglomerate teamed up with Amazon to create a version of the classic board game branded with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” allowing players to travel back to the 1950s and try to find fame, fortune and a vacation home in the Catskills. The special edition of the game comes out Dec. 1.


Mighty Roar Simba by FurReal

To celebrate the latest version of Disney’s “The Lion King,” Hasbro created an interactive plush Simba that’s one part stuffed animal, one part technological advance and all-around fun. Measuring 8.5 x 20 x 17.5 the toy will respond to sound and touch from anything in its range, but it also comes with a bug and leaf accessory to inspire specific play. Some of its movements are as simple as eye blinks, tail wags and stretching, but it also comes programmed with key phrases from the movie. Overall there are more than 100 sound and motion combinations to unleash. The Mighty Roar Simba is recommended for children four years of age and up.


“Friends” Central Perk Lego

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the beloved modern classic sitcom, Warner Bros. Consumer Products Group worked with Lego to bring a fan-created Central Perk set to life. Originally sold exclusively through Lego’s website, the 1000+ set (which includes seven minifigs: all six titular friends, plus Gunther) sold out before its official launch day. But it’s back with a new release just in time for the holidays, available more widely at retailers such as Target. The set is packed with show-specific details, including a “service” sign, Chandler’s laptop, Monica’s muffin and Phoebe’s guitar. It is designed to look like the real-life soundstage, with lights on the sides of the set, allowing builders to be a part of the TV-making action, recreating classic episodes with stop-motion animation, or simply building and displaying as a piece of memorabilia.


JoJo Siwa Singing Doll – D.R.E.A.M.

Actor and singer JoJo Siwa has come along way since her early days on the reality phenom “Dance Moms.” Signing a deal with Nickelodeon not only expanded her reach exponentially, but it also allowed her to break into merchandising. While she has released items ranging from apparel and accessories, one of this year’s hot new items from the young multi-talent is a 10-inch singing doll in her likeness that features poseable arms and legs and is dressed in an outfit inspired by her one of her own. The doll sings Siwa’s “D.R.E.A.M.” and is available at such retailers as Walmart, Target, Amazon and Kohls.


Hallmark Channel Monopoly

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” programming slate, the company has teamed up with USAopoly and Hasbro to create a special holiday version of classic board game Monopoly. This game allows players to dive into the world of the Hallmark Channel by buying, selling and trading such properties as Christmas tree farms, bed and breakfasts, cottages and inns. Players can also experience unique card options, such as getting out of jail for starting a prison knitting club. The tokens also receive the Hallmark treatment, featuring an ice cream cone, ice skates and Happy the Dog, among others. The game is available at Hallmark Gold Crown stores as well as online.


“Stranger Things” x My Little Pony

Erica (Priah Ferguson) broke out in the second season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and only became more influential in the third. Over the summer a couple of crucial items to be just like Erica were released and are still popular items six months out. The first is a replica of the backpack Erica uses in the show. Licensed by Accessory Innovations and featuring a pair of My Little Ponies, the backpack has a secret hidden map inside its main compartment and closes with double zippers. The back panel and straps are padded and adjustable for comfort during wear. It is polyester for durability, as well. The second My Little Pony item is Applejack, the Pony Erica references in the third season. Licensed by BasicFun, Applejack is 4.5-inches tall and is packaged upside down in its special packaging for an extra reference to the show.




“Child’s Play 2” Good Guy Doll Replica

Just ahead of its 30th anniversary, “Child’s Play 2” comes alive with a replica Good Guy doll that stands more than 30-inches tall. Using screen-used molds and fabric swatches, the doll was created to be a collector’s item or your child’s new buddy (no knife included). The doll is even more timely since UCP is working on a television series about the iconic doll. It is available at online retailers such as Amazon and TrickorTreatStudios.com.


All “Star Wars,” All the Time

With Disney Plus releasing “The Mandalorian” in November and a new “Star Wars” film being released in December, the consumer products division must have worked overtime to provide new toy and collectible items for the holidays. Some of the highlights include Hasbro’s Black Series Hyperreal 8-Inch Darth Vader figure, Supreme Leader Kyle Ren Force FX Elite Lightsaber, Carbonized Collection of action figures, Luke Skywalker Battle Simulation Electronic Helmet and D-O Droids. There is also a lot of anticipation around upcoming merchandise based on The Child, although Disney and LucasFilms are being very secretive with regards to what that look like. The Elite Lightsaber features 80 LED lights and movie-inspired sound effects for a battle clash effect, a molten glow effect and an unstable plasma effect. It comes with a collectible coin and stand for those who prefer to display rather than play, as well. Meanwhile, the figures come with multiple interchangeable parts (such as hands) and points of articulation and are finished in a sleek metallic paint job.




“Game of Thrones” Decorative Wares

HBO’s sci-fi fantasy epic “Game of Thrones” may have come to an end this year, but that has not stopped new lines of merchandise. A couple of noteworthy items for the family-drama-with-dragons fan in your life include an Iron Throne candle holder and throw pillows. The candle holder is a 100% resin collectible that stands just over 8-inches tall and can hold votive candles, or other candles up to 1 3/4-inches in diameter. It does come with a candle. When it comes to the pillows, you can declare your “House” allegiance if you so choose, or celebrate them all with a houses of the Known World sigil tapestry pillow. The latter is a 13×13-inch Jacquard-woven plush pillow that features sigils from House Stark, House Targaryen, House Lannister, House Greyjoy, House Arryn, House Baratheon, House Baratheon of Dragonstone, and House Tyrell. These items, among others, are available on HBO’s website.


“Charmed” Book of Shadows Jewelry Box

Inspired by the CW’s “Charmed” reboot, Geekify has created a jewelry box disguised as a book — specifically the infamous Book of Shadows from the show. In the show, this book is handed down between generations of witches to teach the lore, but in reality, the book is hollow, with unique compartments designed to hold necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings — or really whatever your heart desires. The box comes in both 5×7 or 8×10 size for portability and is available on Geekify’s website.


Illuminations candles

Mitch Davis has revived his beloved candle brand, Illuminations, just in time for the holidays. Collections include scented and unscented candles, including citrus and fruity (Cranberry Orange, Pomegrante Cassis), floral (Giverny, Rose, Lavender Fields), seasonal (Pumpkin Spice) and woody (Indonesian Patchouli Cedarwood and Wild Woodlands). Each candle is 10-ounces of all-natural coconut and apricot wax with 100% cotton wicks, housed in frosted glass vessels and delivered gift boxed.




“Rick & Morty” x SilverPaw Collection

Cartoon Network and SilverPaw have brought the beloved animated comedy “Rick & Morty” to life not only for human viewers but also their canine and feline ones. The new pet collection includes beds for both dogs and cats, collars, leashes, sweaters, stuffed chew toys, dangler toys, bandanas and treats available. Many of the items already show as sold out on SilverPaw’s website, but they are also available in select retail stores across the U.S.




MTV Stereo-Cam

For those who long for the technology of a simpler time, MTV and Polaroid Originals have released a new throwback camera: the Polaroid 600. This is a film camera that features an analog flash, flash override, lighten/darken slider and film shield. It is painted bright yellow for a new twist on an old classic, but the design is straight out of the 1990s, inspired by MTV’s influence on pop culture. The limited edition camera can be purchased on Polaroid Originals’ website.




Sons Chocolatiers Nate Berkus Associates “Peace + Palm Trees” box

Beverly Hills chocolatier andSons teamed up with Nate Berkus and Lauren Buxbaum Gordon of Nate Berkus Associates to give their boxes of chocolate a special designer holiday twist. The boxes, which are printed in limited quantities, include some of andSons’ most popular Signature flavors (including Speculoos Cookie, Hazelnut Pop Rock and Raspberry Caramel Praline) as well as a selection of seasonal flavors (such as Charred Cinnamon Caramel and Eggnog), as well. Gift boxes come in 12 piece, 24 piece, 36 piece, 54 piece and 84 piece and are available for nationwide shipping beginning Dec. 9.


Tommy & Tara Truffles teuscher gift boxes

Actor Tom Gallop (“Will & Grace,” “All Rise,” the “Bourne” franchise) and Tara Margolin, known collectively and colloquially as Tommy & Tara Truffles), are celebrating their first anniversary in the artisan chocolate business. Their truffles come in a variety of gift baskets and boxes, including holiday-themed ones. The specialty boxes come in 9-oz, 18-oz and 36-oz. They also sell solid gourmet and specialty chocolate bars and vegan options. Their Beverly Hills teuscher, one of only 18 locations in the world, was rated No. 1 chocolatier by National Geographic and recently voted “Retailer of the Year” in the annual Best of Beverly Hills Golden Palm Awards, but those who are not local to Southern California can also purchase off their website.


Article by: Variety Stafffor Variety.

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This is the winter of discontent for Hollywood workers, as no level of seniority has been spared from the wave of mass layoffs.

Warner Bros. has been shaken by two rounds of layoffs and a wholesale restructuring that have ushered out veterans with decades of service to the Hollywood studio.

NBCUniversal has rewired the structure of its TV content production and distribution operations, leading to hundreds of job cuts. ViacomCBS has periodically shed bodies by the dozens in the year since its two halves formally tied the knot again in December 2019. AMC Networks last week disclosed it will let go of 10% of its U.S. workforce, or about 100 staffers.

Discovery Inc., Sony Pictures and Lionsgate have also let sizable numbers of staffers go in 2020.

Layoffs are hard on any company. But the current round of downsizing among traditional entertainment giants is even more alarming for seasoned industry workers because the cuts reflect a momentous transition in the business needs at the major studio and network groups.

Market analysts see it as a painful but necessary byproduct of change.

“We’ve been saying that at some point the studios were going to have to rethink their business models, and now they’re actually doing it,” says Michael Nathanson, media analyst with MoffettNathanson. “I think these companies should have been planning this pivot earlier.”

Media conglomerates that are shifting focus to direct-to-consumer and subscription-based platforms need a different kind of programming, marketing, distribution and sales expertise than has been prized in the modern era. Warner Bros. has shocked the industry with the volume of high-ranking executive departures in a short period. When the head of film marketing and head of TV marketing and some of their key lieutenants depart, it’s an unmistakable signal from WarnerMedia and its parent company AT&T that the studio is planning to sell its wares to consumers in very different ways.

Jay Tucker, executive director of UCLA’s Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment and Sports, sees the mass staff cuts as a byproduct of all the M&A in media in recent years. Companies have to make these mergers work by taking big swings to generate growth and keep pace with consumers as traditional cable and broadcast assets mature.

“We’re shifting to the era of personalization, where the consumer is at the center of the business model,” Tucker says. “This disruption is hitting every level of employee, and it is compounded by the perception that once you hit a certain number of years of experience, it’s harder to find the next opportunity.”

The upheaval comes as all of the major conglomerates are re-engineering operations to support pay and free streaming platforms designed to eventually serve global audiences. It’s expected that many media giants will see staffing levels in the U.S. drop while growing in international territories.

Executives with expertise in marketing and distribution have been hard hit at most studios because those disciplines are radically changing in the streaming epoch. Especially in pandemic conditions, WarnerMedia and its counterparts need data scientists more than they need film distribution experts.

The art of driving consumers to sign up for a monthly content service is different from opening a popcorn movie on a busy summer weekend. The departure of Warner Bros.’ film marketing chief Blair Rich and TV marketing chief Lisa Gregorian within weeks of each other is the starkest example.

Warner Bros. is now laser-focused on supplying content to drive the HBO Max streaming service. NBCUniversal in October unveiled a radical new structure that divided management into two primary groups, for content creation and distribution, much as Disney has aligned itself following its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. NBCUniversal wants to move content more freely around the ecosystem and through its ad-supported Peacock streamer. Disney continues to fine-tune its massive content operations to feed Disney Plus, Hulu and other platforms.

ViacomCBS has shaken up its post-merger lineup with a bid to build on the foundation of CBS All Access with an expanded Paramount Plus service. Marc DeBevoise, longtime CBS digital executive, was ousted 11 months after being anointed as a leader.

The drop in the volume of employment in a given sector always has a ripple effect in the national economy. The loss of so many high-paying jobs in a short time will be a dent in the coffers of Los Angeles County and for New York state in the short term. Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based National Employment Law Project, says it hits at a time when other industries are undergoing similar sweeping realignments with huge human toll.

“We’re seeing it now because of the pandemic in the restaurant world, in the industrial janitorial world, in parking garages and all these areas that have been completely disrupted by COVID-19,” says Evermore. Economic policy has not kept pace with the understanding of the transition of skill sets needed in the modern workplace, she says. It’s an issue that will become more acute in the coming years for the incoming Biden administration.

“Nobody’s got a plan for how to transition these massive sectors of the workforce into a different thing,” Evermore says.

Tucker believes the challenge of executing Hollywood’s direct-to-consumer pivot will be matched by the challenge of steering a workforce through a period of watching beloved colleagues walk out the door. Those who remain are understandably nervous about what may be next to change. He also points to the sizable business failure of Quibi as another unsettling sign of the uncertain marketplace.

“It’s tough for CEOs to come out and say, ‘Now we need to do our best work.’ That’s a leadership challenge,” Tucker says. “It’s painful right now looking at the landscape with a lot of skilled, sharp people having to go.”

Hollywood has seen seesaw periods of employment in the past around recessionary periods. But this time around, analysts see the business downshifting for good in many respects. “The changes they need to make and the investments that they need to make in content — they just require much thinner cost structures to be successful,” Nathanson says.

Tucker sees clear and honest communication as a key asset in leading through trying times.

“As a leader, it’s about explaining that it’s not just senseless cutting for the sake of cutting,” he says. “As demoralizing as it is that some jobs are going away, they need to explain that the company will be healthier for it and talented people will be better off for it in the long run.”



Article by: Cynthia Littleton for Variety.

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The limits, which follow California's limited Stay at Home Order, mandate that it's "taillights at ten."

Los Angeles is tightening the reins on filming as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise.

Officials from the City and County of Los Angeles have told FilmLA, one of the main organizations that doles out film permits in the region, that there will be new restrictions on when exactly filming can take place.

The limits prohibit after-hours on-location filming in accordance with California’s current limited Stay at Home Order. Last week, Governor Newsom announced that nonessential businesses and personal gatherings are prohibited between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the next few weeks.

So beginning today, permissible on-location filming hours will be from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in residential areas and 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. in commercial areas. Isolated areas of unincorporated Los Angeles County with no population may be exempted.

The local officials noted in their conversation with FilmLA that no production setup activity may begin earlier than the permissible time and that at the end of the day, activity must wrap to ensure it is “taillights at ten.”

Any permission to film after-hours for permits that have already been handed out is rescinded. The limits will apply for at least the duration of the California’s limited Stay at Home Order, which currently expires on December 21.


Article by: Bryn Sandberg for the Hollywood Reporter.

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If there exists a poster child for racism in Hollywood, it might very well be the marketing for Couples Retreat. The 2009 comedy had an ensemble cast of top comedy actors, but when it came time to putting together the names and faces of the talent for the movie poster, the Black actors were excised from the international edition. Just what did this decision say about Hollywood's view of moviegoers around the world, and what did that say about Universal Pictures, which distributed the motion picture? Although many may ascribe this notorious act of racism to the entertainment industry's pre-woke days, things haven't gotten better, says Couples Retreat star Faizon Love, who on Wednesday filed a fresh lawsuit against Universal over what occurred.

In targeting Universal, Love takes on a studio which has prided itself on advances on the diversity front while being committed to identifying opportunities and training for minorities. In 2017, the Comcast subsidiary established a mentoring-and-networking initiative called Global Talent Development & Inclusion, and the studio has one of the better rosters of inclusive franchises such as Fast and Furious and Ride Along as well as one-offs such as Get Out and Straight Outta Compton. Nevertheless, Universal still faces a reckoning over the 2009 Couples Retreat saga, which certainly isn't the only time that Hollywood faced uncomfortable questions about why Black actors were omitted from the marketing plan. See, for example, the fuss over the absence of John Boyega for the Chinese movie poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

According to Love's new lawsuit, he was "aghast" when he first discovered the differences between the domestic movie poster and the international one (below on the left) for Couples Retreat.

"Universal Studios had no problem featuring Black actors in the comedic film," states the complaint. "But when it came to publicizing the film to international audiences, Universal Studios chose to segregate the motion picture’s White and Black actors... Rather than enjoy maximum visibility with the film’s release, Mr. Love was demoted to the proverbial 'Invisible Man,' as penned by Ralph Ellison. Although Couples Retreat achieved a first-place box office opening weekend ranking, and went on a spectacular run that grossed more than $171 million worldwide, Universal Studios placed Mr. Love in the back seat of the ride enjoyed by his six White costars."

So why is the Couples Retreat movie poster coming up only now in court? The answer is arguably as important.

Back in 2009, U.K. newspapers noted the airbrushing, and it ignited a small fury online. At the time, a Universal spokesperson said that the poster had been changed to "simplify" it, and that the studio regretted the offense caused and was abandoning plans to use the revised poster going forward.

That wasn't the entire story, alleges Love.

"Rather than react with adversity, Mr. Love opted for engagement and equanimity. He reached out to Universal Studios and endeavored to engage constructively," his lawsuit continues. "Universal Studios, ...attempting to assuage Mr. Love and prevent his filing suit, promised both (i) the immediate cessation of the racist international poster, and (ii) prompt recompense to Mr. Love in the form of lucrative, career-making film roles. Universal Studios lied."

Love says that no such roles followed even though some of the folks allegedly involved were high-powered executives. For example, Love says he got a personal apology over the phone from Adam Fogelson, who had just been promoted from head of marketing to studio chairman. Fogelson would later become chairman of STX and has executive produced dozens of movies. Also, Love says he got an apology at the time from Scott Stuber, a producer on Couples Retreat who was under a five-year production deal with Universal. Today, Stuber is head of original films at Netflix. Even Couples Retreat star Vince Vaughn allegedly helped calm any controversy with promises. The lawsuit states that Vaughn was on phone calls with Fogelson and committed to a TV show with him. "Vaughn apparently went so far as to tell Mr. Love that making a big deal about his removal from the poster would not be good for his career at that time, a statement to which Fogelson did not object," states the complaint.

The objectionable movie poster didn't go away. The suit says it is still in circulation on various movie websites around the globe.

Love, represented by a Browne George legal team led by Eric George, also aims to make the case about more than just this one incident. While he's alleging breach of contract and fraudulent inducement over what he didn't get in the decade since the release of Couples Retreat, Love is also asserting a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act as well as the Unruh Civil Rights Act. To that end, the complaint cribs a lineup of Universal's top executives to show an underrepresentation of Black faces, cites studies of how few acting roles are going to minorities, mentions other instances of movie poster whitewashing (e.g. the Italian movie poster for 12 Years a Slave), and points out how NBCU faced a recent racial complaint from Gabrielle Union.

All while things could be better, as Love's complaint portrays.

"In recent years, box office hits like Black Panther, Ride Along, Ride Along 2, Get Out, and Us have proven that Black-led films can garner not only critical acclaim, but huge financial success for studios and production companies like Defendants, both domestically and abroad," states the complaint. "Black Panther grossed nearly $1.4 billion worldwide; Ride Along and Ride Along 2 grossed over $50 million in international markets collectively; and Get Out and Us grossed over $250 million each worldwide. Nevertheless, the entertainment industry has been slow to take heed."


Article by: Eriq Gardner for the Hollywood Reporter.

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The original Saved by the Bell featured tanned California high schoolers learning life lessons every Saturday morning — cheating is bad, don't get addicted to caffeine pills, you can still win homecoming queen even with a zit on your face. Peacock's streaming Saved by the Bell reboot takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the same subject matter, but still touches on plenty of important issues. But instead of "be nice to nerds," those issues include economic inequality, school closures and LGBTQ representation.

It also features 2020 takes on the age-old high school character archetypes, which means that in this version, the school's bitchy popular girl is Lexi, a sharp-tongued cheerleader who is trans. Creator Tracey Wigfield wrote the role for actress Josie Totah, who had worked with Wigfield's pals Mindy Kaling and Charlie Grandy on Champions, after she'd seen Totah at a table read for NBC's short-lived sitcom.

"You need six, hilarious, beautiful, really skilled teenagers. Oh, that seems easy to find," Wigfield remembered telling herself while discussing the show on The Hollywood Reporter's TV's Top 5 podcast. It was a daunting prospect, but she had one comforting thought: "At least I knew Josie."

Totah tells THR that she met with Wigfield and was immediately sold on her pitch: "She wanted to make it into this more topical, edgier, smarter world that she was planning on creating, and I was just fell in love with that idea." After some back-and-forth about the character that Totah would play, the duo decided that they wanted to reflect some of Totah's real-life experience by making the character trans.

"It was important to us that I serve as a producer on the show in order to tell the story as authentically as possible," says the 19-year-old.

She'd already shared some of her experience coming out as trans in an essay for Time, but in helping shape Lexi from the ground up, she'd be able to have a direct hand in trans representation on screen.

While acting is such an internal craft, there's an inherently public component built in when the finished product is going to be broadcast to millions of people around the world. Whether she liked it or not, Totah knew that she was going to have to talk about being trans and playing a trans character while some of her castmates got to chat about ancient cell phones or working with the original cast.

"I think that's something that all people who have a marginalized identity deal with," she says. "It's definitely a conversation that I have with Alycia Pascual-Pena, who is on the show with me and lives with me and is my best friend. We have that conversation every day about what this role not only means to us, but so many people and that no matter how it affects us we need to understand that it's going to affect a large amount of people in ways that we might not even be able to predict. But it's super humbling and I think we're both really, really honored to be in the position that we are. And we're happy that somebody's doing it, because it's definitely something that we both have never seen on screen for both of us, and for me in particular."

Another selling point: The show is an ensemble comedy — it's not about Lexi being trans; it's not even only about Lexi.

"This is not the story of a trans person's experience. This show is not my story, or my telling of my journey. It's a show that existed in the past, and that we're bringing back, and it's funny, it's amusing, but it happens to have a character that's trans in it," says Totah. "And I think when we come at it from that angle it's a lot less daunting, because the show isn't only about my character being transgender, or even just about only my character. It's about this group of diverse kids that are together and are going through life and learning things about each other, and it's super exciting to get to be a part of a show that's like that. I didn't have any fears or hesitations only because I knew going into it that this wasn't going to be the time where I tell my story. That would come later on in my career."

Lexi's story is much more in line with the high school queen bees of teen projects past — a bit of Mean Girls, a bit of Heathers, a bit of wish fulfillment. Lexi wears heels and cocktail dresses to school and isn't really bothered with authority figures. Basically, Totah channeled "every single human being's dream in school," she says with a laugh. "I just wanted people to feel like they could live through me in the way that I lived through all of these characters growing up — the Regina George, the sort of Heathers vibe, the Cher from Clueless. I wanted to create that character, but make her more nuanced and layered, and not playing that on-the-nose archetype that we know all too well."

Saved By the Bell was the first scripted series to resume filming on the Universal lot this summer, but before that Totah spent her quarantine time the same way everyone else did: by bingeing television. "I had been watching so much Spanish television for five months," Totah says. "I was in such a deep hole watching Elite and Money Heist on Netflix. Like so many hours of me just staring at a screen — I needed to do something that wasn't just watching people get in fights and make love. Which was which was a great quarantine experience. But I was excited to actually get to do stuff."

She also started a new semester at film school, and is working on essays between interviews — while trying to carve out time to watch The Queen's Gambit and the rest of the shows on her Netflix queue. And she's excited for people to be able to watch Saved By the Bell and the newest, more diverse group of all-American teens attending Bayside High.

"I'm just really, really excited for people to feel like they can finally see themselves and that they're not alone in this world," she says. "And I love that as a cast, even our white, cis, straight cast members recognize what we're doing with this show and they're so excited about it too. So as a family, as a whole, it's a team effort. We know what we're bringing to the table and we're all super, super excited about it."


Article by: Jean Bentley for the Hollywood Reporter.

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In 1939, Herman J. Mankiewicz was a forty-two-year-old screenwriter, acclaimed in Hollywood not only for the lines of dialogue he wrote for movies but for the ones he delivered in life. In nearly a decade and a half in the business, he’d found success at Paramount working with Josef von Sternberg and with his friends the Marx Brothers, and at M-G-M writing on “Dinner at Eight” and, briefly, “The Wizard of Oz,” where he had the idea of filming Kansas in bleak black-and-white and Oz in Technicolor. But he was best known as one of the great personalities in the film business. He’d migrated to Hollywood from New York City, where he’d been The New Yorker’s first theatre critic and a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table, and he carried that group’s spirit of cynical candor and acerbic bravado to the movie community. In commissaries and at cocktail parties, he was known for his learned insights and his unpredictable politics (he wrote, at great risk, an anti-Hitler script in 1933, yet he was opposed to American involvement in the Second World War, and even called himself an “ultra-Lindbergh”) as well as for the style with which he delivered them. He was also habitually drunk and wildly impolitic, known for the scenes that he made and the insults that he flung. His work habits were notoriously dubious: a compulsive gambler, he spent ample studio time placing bets and listening to horse races; a social whirlwind, he talked the day away in person and by phone. He lampooned and defied his bosses, and got fired from every job he didn’t quit. By the summer of 1939, he was unemployed, which is how he found himself desperately available when a twenty-four-year-old newcomer to Hollywood by the name of Orson Welles offered him a job.

Welles, prolific and precocious, had become a stage star at sixteen, a major theatre director at twenty, and, in 1937, the co-founder (with John Houseman) of the Mercury Theatre company; he’d become a radio star at twenty-three, and become infamous, in 1938, for the radio broadcast “War of the Worlds,” the tale of an invasion from outer space, told in the form of faux news bulletins, which many listeners mistook as real. He’d also made two independent films on the side. The week of his twenty-third birthday, he had been featured on the cover of Time magazine. But whereas Mankiewicz was a Hollywood insider, Welles was despised by the movie industry in advance, resented and derided for his youth, his fame, his intellectualism—and his contractually guaranteed freedom. He had signed a contract with R.K.O. studio to produce, write, direct, and act in two movies, for which he, alone among Hollywood studio filmmakers, would be allowed final cut. He initially brought Mankiewicz on to ghostwrite radio programs, but their collaboration soon shifted, and Welles recruited him as a co-writer of the first film.


Article by: Richard Brody for the New Yorker.

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A Year Without Movie Buzz


For much of the past year, movie theatres were closed nationwide; now they’re open again in most states, and films are being shown in them, but studios are keeping their biggest releases on hold for now, and audiences are staying away. The Regal Cinemas chain closed its doors altogether, nationwide (but reopened a handful of theatres in New York State last week); AMC is threatened with bankruptcy. With American movie theatres teetering on the edge of extinction and, in any case, shunted into irrelevance, a strange and tragicomic side effect is afflicting the art of film: the end of buzz. It’s odd to think that it matters. As buzz proliferated in recent decades, it seemed like mere noise—the distracting clamor of advertising and its amplification, publicity and its reprocessing, the substitution of celebrity adulation for critical perspective, the prioritizing of commercial success over artistic achievement. I’ve complained often of such things. But, with the disappearance of massive blockbuster publicity campaigns, the cutting off of star-studded film festivals, and the near-total shutdown of the production of new movies, the absence of buzz is eerie. The movie world now reminds me of New York City in the early days of the pandemic, when the traffic was nearly stilled and the sidewalks nearly empty and one set of footsteps echoed with a disturbing prominence. The world of movies, more than any time in recent memory, is a ghost town.

This current crisis isn’t a crisis of the art of movies—it has been a superb year for new releases, despite, or quite possibly because of, the lack of major studio fare. With the reduced impact of theatrical releases, many movies have been rushed into online distribution—whether on major streaming platforms, “virtual cinemas” on the Web sites of art-house theatres, or on less prominent, independent sites. What’s more, many of these movies came along during the summer, when in ordinary times they’d have been competing with studio behemoths and Hollywood-adjacent releases. Yet, far from benefitting from the otherwise bare cinemascape, these virtual art-house releases have been delivered into what seems like a void.


Article by: Richard Brody for the New Yorker.

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Discoveries and Awakenings in “Ammonite”


The amateur paleontologist Mary Anning, barred from the academy because of her class and gender, is reimagined as a sexual rebel rebuking the code of her time.

There are certain fields of human activity to which the keen amateur can make a notable contribution. These fields include archeology, astronomy, and, to a laughable extent, politics. One influential example is that of Mary Anning (1799-1847), an Englishwoman who lived in Lyme Regis, on the Dorset coast—or, as it is occasionally and inadequately known, the Jurassic Coast. The crumbling cliffs along it, dating from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, are a happy hunting ground for anyone seeking the fossilized remains of ancient creatures. The nearest American equivalent would be the Academy Awards.

Mary, the daughter of a cabinetmaker, was one of ten children, and a fossil-finder extraordinaire, who excavated the skeleton of an ichthyosaur before she reached her teens. According to an article in All the Year Round, a journal edited by Charles Dickens, she became “lively and intelligent” after surviving a lightning strike in infancy. The article commends her “to those who like to study character, and are fond of seeing good stubborn English perseverance make way even where there is nothing in its favour.” No surprise, therefore, that the role of Mary, in “Ammonite,” a new movie written and directed by Francis Lee, should go to Kate Winslet. In any survey of her films, it’s hard to find an instance in which she has not given stubbornness a good name. The set of her jaw and the blaze of her glance suggest a self-freeing spirit who knows the path ahead and is determined to take it. With a shyer or more rarefied actress on deck, “Titanic” (1997) might have sunk.

Here she is, then, as the adult Mary, stomping along the beach outside Lyme. It’s shingle all the way; none of that balmy nonsense about golden sands. Gazing cliffward, and spying something of interest, she hikes up her skirts, clambers, tugs at a rock, then loses her footing and slithers down. She is unbroken, but the rock, falling past her, is split in two, revealing the cracked spiral of an ammonite. What matters here is the physicality—how close we are to Mary as she labors, tumbles, and gasps for breath. Later, back at the small house that she shares with her mother, Molly (Gemma Jones), Mary’s hands, even after she’s washed them, look red and raw, with dirt under the nails. The house confronts the sea, and the windows are speckled with grime and salt. Nothing in this film seems easy; living humans, no less than extinct species, get embedded and stuck, and need to be prized out with care.

The prizing takes different forms. Mary attracts the attention of a Dr. Lieberson (Alec Secareanu)—“Foreign?” Molly asks, as if the word were a curse. Suaver by far is a gentleman named Roderick Murchison (James McArdle), who has an interest in fossils, and has come to pay homage to “the presiding deity of Lyme,” as he calls Mary. (It’s true; her expertise, accrued through years of patient observation, was well known to her fellow-paleontologists.) If she will conduct him along the shore, and school him in her wisdom, he will reward her. They agree to a deal, and shake on it, though she can’t bring herself to look at him as they touch; it’s as if her very nature, acclimatized to being alone, recoils at any pact of understanding. Oh, and Murchison has one other request: he has brought his youthful wife, Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan), who is spectre-pale. Her health is impaired, and we gather that she has recently lost a child. While he travels for a month or so, could she not stay on in Lyme, “walk out” with Mary, and take the revivifying air? 

You can tell what’s coming. Two unhappy souls, having had the misfortune to be born in an unenlightened age, will take comfort in each other’s arms, in a rousing rebuke to the social code of their times. That’s what happened in “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (2019), and it happens here, too, though it’s surely a sign of our times that we can conceive of such protest only in sexual terms. To Mary’s contemporaries, what would have set her apart, and barred her from the institutions of learning and research where she doubtless belonged, was not just her gender, and her lowly class, but the fact that she was a Dissenter—that is, she was raised in a strain of Protestantism outside the Church of England. As you’d expect, faith goes unremarked in “Ammonite,” which prefers to show Murchison rolling away from his wife, in bed, and saying, “It’s not the right time to make another baby.” Hark to the horrid man!

Yet the movie persuades you, and bears you along. It may lack historical grounding—though Mary and Charlotte were certainly friends, the existence of any further intensity is pure, indeed wild, supposition—but it feels emotionally earthed, and, far from rising above the spartan brutishness of the early scenes, Lee digs deeper still. Watch Mary, back at the beach, squatting down to pee. (Didn’t Winslet resort to alfresco urination in “Holy Smoke,” back in 1999? Does her contract forbid her to use an inside lavatory, or something?) She stands up, wipes her hands, unwraps a pastry, tears it in two, and offers half to Charlotte, who, for some reason, declines it. As the weeks pass, however, the younger woman is pulled downward, away from the ladylike and into the rough stuff of life; there’s an amazing moment, wonderfully played by Ronan, when she enters the house with a bucket of coal, laughs, begins to weep, and slips to the floor, lost in confusion at her own feelings, with her fine dress covered in smuts.

And so to bed. Nothing is solved or soothed, in Lee’s film, by the making of love. Ravenous and frantic, it serves only to remind both Mary and Charlotte of their hopeless predicament, and there are half-comic echoes of their regular toil, with Mary, on her knees, lifting Charlotte’s skirts in a fast fumble, just as she raised her own at the base of a cliff; going down looks like climbing up. Lee’s boldest move is to cut straight from the final night of carnality to the demise of a loved one, and thus to the sight of Mary laying out the body, as custom demands—dutifully clothing the corpse, with its cold stiff feet, only hours after shedding her own nightgown in Charlotte’s heated embrace. Here, I think, is the heart of this yarn: not what it has to say about the overtight lacing of society, but the alarming clarity with which it addresses the elemental. As the land meets the ocean, so death meets desire, and “Ammonite” makes no bones about them.

It is nine years since “Martha Marcy May Marlene” came out. My nervous system has recovered in the interim, but only just. That film, whose heroine was drawn into the coils of a cult, was written and directed by Sean Durkin—his full-length début, would you believe. Only now has he returned to the fray; his latest movie, “The Nest,” is no less serpentine, but what encircles the characters, squeezing the joy out of them, is money.

Ronald Reagan is in the White House, deregulation is the rage, and Rory O’Hara (Jude Law), a commodities broker, decides to move from America to England. He’s on a treasure hunt, as it were, and he’s confident that his family—his wife, Allison (Carrie Coon); their daughter, Samantha (Oona Roche); and her brother, Ben (Charlie Shotwell)—will benefit from the chase. He rents an old mansion in the countryside, gets the kids into new schools, commutes to his office in London, and, to prove how much he cares, arranges for Allison’s beloved horse Richmond (played with great sensitivity by Tornado) to be shipped over. In one ominous shot, we see the O’Hara residence from Richmond’s point of view, through the door of his stall, as he neighs and stamps with disquiet. Horse sense tells us of trouble ahead.

Such images abound in the film; Durkin has lost none of his compositional precision. The family home is ill-lit, ill-omened, and panelled in dark wood, with shadows deep enough to harbor the eavesdropper or to shield the fearful. No one seeks refuge more than Ben, who wets the bed and listens in sorrow to parental rants. Shotwell is the most affecting presence here, and you could argue that Ben should have been the hub of the narrative, like the small boy in “The Fallen Idol” (1948), seeing plenty and understanding only scraps.

Instead, we get the grownups. Coon is as convincing as ever; observe the speed with which, on waking in the morning, Allison greets her frustrations by reaching for a cigarette. As for Rory, it’s not long before his professional schemings falter, his funds run dry, and he winds up pleading for petty cash. All of which is quite predictable, but does it make him a self-deluding, semi-tragic figure, as the movie’s gloom portends? (He may, in truth, be little more than a standard-issue dickhead.) And is Law the right fit for such a role? Whereas Hugh Grant, another fine young dandy of yore, has been rejuvenated by the creases of middle age, Law, I regret to say, looks glum and soured. The problem, for “The Nest,” is that the sourness is present from the start; he never gives off the bounce and the thrust that Rory is rumored to possess. “So, what happened to America?” somebody asks him. What indeed?


Article by: Anthony Lanefor the New Yorker.

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Netflix’s arsenal of content this year could give the streamer the most best picture nominations from any studio in history, a record held by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which scored five nods at the ninth Academy Awards in 1937. It may even net the streaming giant its first best picture win after falling short with the likes of Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” and Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma.”

MGM achieved the feat when the Academy was nominating 10 films in the best picture category. “The Great Ziegfeld” was the big winner, taking home three statues. It was joined by other films released in 1936: “Libeled Lady,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “San Francisco” and “A Tale of Two Cities.” At the time, MGM was the undisputed heavyweight in Hollywood as the home to top talents such as Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and many more. So expansive was the A-list roster that the studio once boasted it “had more stars than the heavens.”

Netflix also boasts one of the deepest arsenals in town. It has been building, buying, and releasing quality content for years. In this extended eligibility season with the COVID-19 pandemic preventing studios from releasing their movies widely in theaters, the streamer has many top contenders for Oscar nominations. With five months still left in the awards season, it’s still early to call if the distributor will be successful in breaking the record. So how does the streaming giant theoretically get there?

It needs to be noted that this is the final year of the “sliding scale” voting for the best picture. Since this rule was adopted in 2011, the lineup has resulted in either eight or nine nominees. With Oscars 2022, the Academy will move back to a “straight 10” selection for their most coveted category, allowing AMPAS voters to select 10 films on their ballots. Under the current system, they vote for five, and a film must receive 5% of the number one votes to be nominated for best picture.

David Fincher’s “Mank” and Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” are in the safest position to make the cut. Both have received strong reviews from critics and boast many of the elements that typically get recognized by the Academy. About 63% of Academy voters are in the technical branches, and that’s where “Mank” will do well in categories like cinematography and sound. With “Chicago 7,” editing, writing and the actors branches will help propel it over the line.

George C. Wolfe’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is next on the list and aside from quality and film reviews, math and precedence are in its favor. The late Chadwick Boseman has received the kind of notices actors dream of, with some identifying him as one of the top two contenders in best actor (the other is Anthony Hopkins in “The Father”). Assuming Boseman is “the one” to join Peter Finch (“Network”) as the only previous posthumous best actor winner, the film would almost certainly bring in a best picture nomination. In the last 50 years, there have only been 10 lead actor winners whose films did not receive a best picture nomination. In the last 20, there have been only three: Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart,” Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland” and Denzel Washington in “Training Day.” With “Ma Rainey” also likely to nab a best actress nomination for Viola Davis, the movie seems likely to join the club of best picture contenders.

After those three, the picture is more blurry.

By nature, musicals are divisive with general audiences and critics, which is why despite “The Prom” embracing inclusiveness, the film will be on the bubble until the major guilds like PGA and SAG name their nominations. There’s also been plenty of snarking on Twitter about star Meryl Streep’s rapping talents.

Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” seems like a strong vehicle to get star Delroy Lindo his first nomination and perhaps snag a supporting actor nomination for Boseman, who co-stars. But time is never an ally when it comes to keeping voters’ attention. “Da 5 Bloods” opened in June, and in the subsequent four months, there have been many newer, shinier objects dominating the headlines, some even courtesy of Netflix.

George Clooney’s “The Midnight Sky” is the biggest film he’s ever constructed in both visual scope and narrative heft.  Clooney is an Academy darling, and it would be foolish not to consider it in the mix given Clooney’s eight nominations and double Oscar-topping track record, winning best supporting actor for 2006’s “Syriana” and best picture for co-producing 2012’s “Argo.” He’s also just one of three people who have been nominated in six different categories (with Walt Disney and Alfonso Cuarón). Factoring in likely contention in production design, cinematography, original score and visual effects, “The Midnight Sky” could get a ticket to the big night.

Vanessa Kirby’s brave turn in “Pieces of a Woman” has put her near the forefront of the best actress race, but the impression of it being “very hard to watch” doesn’t make it a principal candidate to be embraced by the Academy at large. In the days of five best picture nominees, director Kornél Mundruczó would mirror a textbook lone director candidate (like Paul Greengrass for “United 93” and Mike Leigh for “Vera Drake”) with all the talk surrounding his virtuoso filmmaking style in a 23-minute one-take sequence that highlights the film’s challenging subject. If the Academy could look beyond those graphic moments, “Pieces of a Woman” could have a fighting chance with an early January drop date.

“The Life Ahead” with Sophia Loren and “The White Tiger” with Priyanka Chopra Jonas likely won’t break into the best picture race. The same goes for Charlie Kaufman’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” and Radha Blank’s “The 40-Year-Old Version,” no matter how amazing some think they are (spoiler alert: me). The Academy doesn’t often choose films and performances that are “cerebral” or just downright “cool,” which the latter two features embody. They may be just too niche for AMPAS’ tastes.

One additional record in Netflix’s sight is one held since the 1974 Oscars. There has only been one time in the Academy’s 92-year history of a category being totally dominated by one studio. Paramount Pictures was able to do this in best costume design where winner “The Great Gatsby” triumphed over “Chinatown,” “Daisy Miller,” “The Godfather Part II” and “Murder on the Orient Express.” Highly unlikely but Netflix could come close in categories like best actress and best editing, pending how much Frances McDormand and “Nomadland” sustain interest.

What’s interesting is that even though many major studio releases such as “Black Widow” and “No Time to Die” were pushed into 2021 due to the pandemic, there are actually a record number of Oscar contenders this year. Much of the credit must be given to the steamers, including Amazon Studios, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max and Hulu. Imagine if none of the streamers existed. All those headlines and quips on Twitter stating “there are no movies this year” would, in fact, be close to the truth.

But Netflix doesn’t just want to get nominated. It’s spending big to produce and market its content because it wants the top prize.  After coming up just short with 2018’s “Roma” and missing out with 2019’s “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” this may be the year it finally shatters the glass ceiling at the Dolby Theatre.



Article by: Clayton Davis for Variety.

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France, which has been on lockdown since Oct. 30 to curb the second wave of the pandemic, will see its cinemas, theaters and museum reopen on Dec. 15. French president Emmanuel Macron unveiled some gradual measures to ease the lockdown on Tuesday during a televised address.

“The peak of the second wave of the pandemic has passed. Our efforts, your efforts have paid off,” said Macron. So far, 50,000 people have died from COVID-19 in France.

Starting on Nov. 28, small shops and religious sites will be allowed to reopen. On Dec. 15, theaters, cinemas and museums will reopen but a 9 p.m.-7 a.m. curfew will be restored. A 9 p.m. curfew was previously put in place in mid-October, before the country went into lockdown.

The lockdown is expected to be loosened even more around Jan. 20. “If the number of cases remains below 5,000 cases per day, gyms and restaurants will be allowed to reopen and the curfew will be pushed,” said Macron. Universities, meanwhile, will stay closed until at least Feb. 4. Until then, all classes will be held virtually.

A number of big French movie releases were expected to bow in theaters during the last quarter of 2020 and have now been pushed to 2021. One of the anticipated releases is Valerie Lemercier’s “Aline,” which is inspired by the life of Celine Dion. Gaumont has pushed the release to March.


Article by: Elsa Keslassy for Variety.

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Another media outlet is getting ready to vie for fans of sentimental stories in the industry’s massive holiday-programming wars.

Fox Nation, the streaming-video hub that is part of Fox News Media, will launch its first holiday movie, “Christmas in the Rockies,” later this week, part of a new holiday salvo that is expected to include two other projects, “Christmas on the Range” and “Christmas on the Coast.” “Rockies” will be available on Fox Nation starting Thursday, November 26 and will be exclusive until November 2021. “Fox & Friends” hosts Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt will make cameos.

“Originally Ainsley and I were supposed to fly to Canada to film our scenes, but then the pandemic hit, nobody was flying anywhere and the producers were in a pickle, they wanted us in the film, but we couldn’t get there,” says Doocy. “When it became clear that traveling to the location was out of the question, they rewrote the movie so we could film our parts in our own studio. It was like Skyping into a movie.”

The original films show Fox Nation making a continued tilt toward lifestyle programming aimed and away from a harder focus on politics. Executives originally envisioned the subscription-based outlet as something of a “Netflix for conservatives,” but in recent months have focused more heavily on documentary programming and lifestyle fare, some of it involving Fox News Media anchors and hosts telling subscribers about hobbies like cooking or books.

“Christmas in the Rockies” follows Katie Jolly, whose dreams of a life in New York City are squelched when her father’s sudden injury leaves her in charge of the family business, Jolly Lumber. She has to solve family and business issues all the while trying to win an annual Lumberjack Competition.

Many big media companies make an effort to woo holiday viewers, including Hallmark Channel, Freeform, Lifetime and AMC. Netflix, meanwhile, is this week launching a sequel to its 2018 movie, “The Christmas Chronicles,” with actors Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.

“Christmas in the Rockies” is produced by Brain Power Studio in association with INSP Films and Fox Nation.


Article by: Brian Steinberg for Variety.

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Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino’s intimate TV debut follows the messy lives of a group of teenagers, as they navigate adolescence at a US army base in northern Italy


“Harper? Isn’t that a name for a boy?” An Italian man has sidled up to Harper/Caitlin at the beach. She barely registers him; she’s too busy dancing. “It’s a name for a lot of things,” she replies, dismissively. 

Nothing is black and white in Luca Guadagnino’s potent, poetic coming-of-age series We Are Who We Are. Gender identity, sexuality, politics, morality – all are in constant flux, shifting like the tides of the coastal Italian town where this group of teenagers are living, on a US army base, in the run-up to Donald Trump’s presidential election win. 

This is the Call Me By Your Name director’s first TV series, and the format suits him. He is a master of this sort of lush snapshot of messy youth – and with just shy of 10 hours to play with, he can go at his own languorous pace. Or perhaps more accurately, the pace of his characters; full of turmoil but free of adult responsibilities, teenagers have a habit of meandering. Guadagnino has no interest in hurrying them along. 

Of the two teens at the show’s heart, 14-year-old Fraser (Jack Dylan Grazer) is the harder to like. Giving new meaning to the term military brat, he is a fashion-obsessed, perennially headphone-wearing loner whom we first meet sulking at an airport information desk swearing at his mothers over a missing bag and demanding a glug of vodka. They’re new to the base – Sarah (Chloe Sevigny) is the incoming colonel, her wife Maggie (Alice Braga) a major – so as soon as they arrive, after plunging his hand into the middle of their welcome cake, Fraser takes off to explore. 

The camera bobs along behind Fraser, following his every whim as he wanders through the base. Co-cinematographer Yorick Le Saux – responsible for Little Women, High Life and Guadagnino’s 2015 feature A Bigger Splash – immerses us so fully in the perspective of his subjects that if they plunge into a pool, so too does the camera. Soon, Fraser meets the self-assured Britney (Francesca Scorsese, daughter of Martin), who in turn leads him to her group of rowdy friends – good-natured soldier Craig (Corey Knight); surly, lovelorn Sam (Ben Taylor); pious but aggressive Danny (Spence Moore II), all young and arrogant and lost. “Without friends, you’re nothing,” Britney tells Fraser as they walk to the beach, and never is that more true than when you’re a teenager. The group are sceptical, nicknaming Fraser “T-shirt” with a tone that flits between mockery and affection. Britney’s brought him with her, she tells her best friend in a stage whisper, because she’s convinced by the way he walks that he has “a big one”.

That friend is “Caitlin” Poythress, sister of Danny and girlfriend of Sam, played with deft emotional subtlety by newcomer Jordan Kristine Seamon. It is she who brings out the good in Fraser that might otherwise have laid dormant – and thank goodness, because without her stabilising presence, Fraser would have quickly become unwatchable. He spots what no one else seems to have cottoned on to – that Caitlin is rattling at the gates of her assigned gender. She tucks her hair into a cap and flirts with a local Italian girl; she doesn’t enjoy kissing her boyfriend; she answers to Caitlin but prefers to go by Harper; and she looks at her period blood like it’s an alien invading her own body. Her self-discovery is intoxicating. Fraser, wise through books and the internet rather than lived experience (he hasn’t figured out his own sexuality yet, and has only ever kissed a mirror), introduces Harper to concepts of gender fluidity and transness. He helps her shave her head and glue hair shavings to her upper lip. In one particularly intimate scene, she stands close behind him while he pees, using his body as a surrogate for the one she thinks she might want. “This is wonderful.” 

The friendship is both a haven from and a strain on the pair’s complicated home lives. Harper’s father Richard (Scott Mescudi, aka the rapper Kid Cudi) is a Maga-hat-wearing Republican who seems to both love and fear his daughter. He looks at the bag of discarded hair he finds in the rubbish bin as if it's evidence of a violent crime against him. Her Nigerian mother Jenny (Faith Alabi) is attentive but downtrodden, confused by her growing attraction to Fraser’s mother Maggie. Fraser’s relationship with his mother Sarah, meanwhile, is downright disturbing. Despite being the most senior ranking officer on the base, Sarah has next to no authority when it comes to her son. In their Oedipal dynamic, she seems to be both mother and father – he sucks her finger when she cuts herself and slaps her round the face when she slices his beef too thick. 

It takes a daring director to ask us to not just sympathise but empathise with a boy like Fraser. And Guadagnino is certainly that. He has an almost magical realist take on teenage life. Everything is at once lifelike and heightened, his gritty, gonzo approach punctured by freeze frames and fade-outs and fantasy sequences. Nothing is prescriptive or overtly political – the election is playing out on TVs in the background, but these teens are far too wrapped up in themselves to notice. 

There are no easy answers in We Are Who We Are. Important lines are spoken over or thrown away. Heroes are also villains, and no one ends up neatly defined or labelled. The more you watch, the more that shrug of a title starts to make sense.


Article by Alexandra Pollard for the Independent.

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The seven-episode drama has hit No. 1 on the streamer's rankings in more than 60 countries.

Netflix's limited series The Queen's Gambit has set a viewership record for the streamer.


The seven-episode drama about a chess prodigy (Anya Taylor-Joy) who rises to the top of her field while battling addiction and emotional issues, is the top scripted limited series ever for Netflix. The streamer says 62 million member accounts worldwide have watched at least a couple minutes of the show over its first four weeks. (Netflix counts views by measuring whether a member account watches at least two minutes of a series or movie.)


"I am both delighted and dazed by the response. It's just all way beyond what any of us could have imagined," said co-creator, showrunner and director Scott Frank. "But speaking for my fellow producers and the entire cast and crew of the show, every one of whom made me look better than I actually am, we are most grateful that so many took the time to watch our show. And we all look forward to bringing you our Yahtzee limited series next."


Among limited series at Netflix, only the breakout docuseries Tiger King (64 million views in its first 28 days) has drawn more eyeballs than The Queen's Gambit. The latter's popularity has also been widespread: It has made Netflix's top 10 list in 92 different countries since its release, and spent at least one day at No. 1 in 63 of those, including the United States, Argentina, Israel and Russia.


In the United States, the series has also made Nielsen's streaming top 10, with Netflix users watching 551 million minutes of the show over its first three days of release. (Netflix and other streamers take issue with Nielsen's measurement, saying the ratings service doesn't measure viewing across all devices.)


While there's no set pattern for how Netflix viewership is distributed, sources say the global reach for The Queen's Gambit is somewhat unusual. Peter Friedlander, the Netflix executive who shepherded the series, attributes the show's hold on viewers to themes that cut across cultures and languages.


"What Scott executed was phenomenal in terms of the precision of the craft, and yet at the heart of it all is this incredible character, played by the incomparable Anya Taylor-Joy," Friedlander, vp original series at Netflix, told The Hollywood Reporter. "Her underdog journey is what I think people are really connecting with. She had challenges every step of the way, and yet she's this incredibly determined, unique and unapologetic in approaching life and who she is and who she wants to be. I think people responded to rooting for her against all these odds. There were also other elements — the nostalgic feeling of traveling back in time and the escapist quality of that. At the same time it's a real sports story too. You're rooting for someone to win."


Friedlander and Frank also worked together on Godless, which won three Emmys in 2018 and helped establish Netflix as a player in the limited series field. Frank then brought the 1983 novel The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis to the streamer, and as development began, Friedlander said they talked a lot about making a story centering on chess cinematic.


"We had a lot of conversations about the challenges of that, but there was also a lot of trust in him," Friedlander said of Frank. "We also used a lot of the same really talented craftspeople from Godless as well — the same DP [Steven Meizler] and the same editor [Michelle Tesoro], for instance. They all work so well together as a team."


With the breakout performance of The Queen's Gambit, Netflix is likely to give the show a serious awards push in the coming season — and not just for Taylor-Joy's lead performance and Frank's writing and directing.


"We certainly want to celebrate the work of Scott Frank, and Anya Taylor-Joy, and the composer Carlos [Rafael Rivera] and [Uli Hanisch], the production designer, and the costume designer [Gabriele Binder]," said Friedlander. "The production design — people are fascinated by the wallpaper. There's this whole obsession with the wallpaper in the Wheatley household. But I do think it's a pretty stunning achievement in terms of craft, and I hope there's a lot of recognition for that team. They've certainly earned it."


Article by: Rick Porter for the Hollywood Reporter.

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The 2020 International Emmy Awards, honoring the best in global television, were handed out in an online ceremony on Monday, Nov. 23. Glenda Jackson won best actress for 'Elizabeth is Missing,' while Netflix's 'Dehli Crime' and 'Nobody's Looking' took the best drama and comedy series honors.

Two-time Oscar-winner Glenda Jackson picked up her first-ever International Emmy for best actress in Elizabeth is Missing, in which she plays an 80-something woman suffering from dementia struggling to solve a murder mystery.


Best actor honors went to 13-year-old Billy Barratt for his performance as a boy tried as an adult for murder in British TV movie Responsible Child, which also picked up an International Emmy for best TV movie or miniseries.


Netflix swept the top two categories, winning the best drama series honors for its Indian series Delhi Crime, about the notorious Nirbhaya gang-rape case, while Brazilian show Nobody's Looking, a satire about red-haired bureaucratic angels, took the best comedy award.


For Sama, the Oscar-nominated documentary about the Syrian war picked up an International Emmy in the best documentary category.


A highlight was the International Emmy Founders Award, which went to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for his daily televised briefings on the coronavirus pandemic. The International Academy said they were acknowledging Cuomo for "his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world."


In a series of videos, a who's who of New York talent, including Spike Lee, Ben Stiller, Robert de Niro, Rosie Perez, Billy Crystal and Billy Joel, paid tribute to their governor.


Veteran TV, film, and stage actor Richard Kind (Mad About You, Hereafter) hosted the online event from New York joined by a cast of presenters in the U.S. and around the world.


"Hello and welcome to the first, and hopefully the last virtual International Emmy Awards!" Kind said, raising a glass of champagne to the unseen audience from around the world. 


U.S. presenters included Naturi Naughton (Power), Kelsey Asbille (Fargo), Paul Blackthorne (Arrow), Titus Burgess (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Tim Daly (Madam Secretary), Nico Tortorella (Younger) and Indira Varna (Game of Thrones), while the gala's international cast included Turkish International Emmy winner Haluk Bilginer from Istanbul, German comedic actor Caroline Peters from Cologne, Brazilian star Caua Reymond from Rio, Spanish actor Miguel Angel Silvestre from Madrid and Chinese news anchor Fu Xiaotian from Hong Kong.


In other awards, Endemol Shine Australia's Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds took the International Emmy for best non-scripted entertainment, Globo's Orphans of a Nation—took the best Telenovela award, and Czech short #martyisdead—won best short-form series. In one of the night's big surprises, the International Emmy for best non-English language show on U.S. primetime was a tie between Univision's broadcast of the 20th Annual Latin Grammy Awards and Telemundo's drama series La Reina del Sur.


A list of the winners of the 2020 International Emmy Awards follows.


Drama Series

Delhi Crime—producers: Ivanhoe Pictures/Golden Karavan/Poor Man’s Productions/Netflix, India



Nobody’s Looking—producers: Gullane Entertainment/ Netflix, Brazil


TV Movie/ Miniseries

Responsible Child—producers: Kudos/72 films, United Kingdom


Best Performance by an Actor

Billy Barratt in Responsible Child—producers: Kudos/72 films, United Kingdom


Best Performance by an Actress

Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth is Missing—producer: STV Productions, United Kingdom



For Sama—producers: Channel 4 News/ITN Productions/PBS Frontline, United Kingdom


Arts Programming                                                                  

Vertige de la Chute (Ressaca)—producers: Babel Doc/France Televisions, France


Non-English Language US primetime

20th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards —producers: Univision /The Latin Recording Academy, USA

La Reina del Sur – Season 2—producers: Telemundo Global Studios/Netflix/AG Studios Colombia/Diagonal TV/Argos, USA (tie)



Orphans of a Nation—producer: Globo, Brazil


Non-Scripted Entertainment

Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds—producer: Endemol Shine Australia, Australia


Short-Form Series

#martyisdead—producers: Bionaut/Mall.TV/cz.nic, Czech Republic


International Emmy Founders Award


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for his COVID-19 briefings


Article by: Scott Roxborough for the Hollywood Reporter.

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'Home Alone' cinematographer Julio Macat details the creation of the faux gangster movie that gives the holiday classic one of its most iconic lines.

Angels With Filthy Souls may not be an actual flick, but the faux film noir is as iconic as the 1990 movie in which it appears.


Giving Home Alone one of its most popular lines — "Keep the change, you filthy animal" — the gangster picture that helped Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) pull off a few ruses paid homage to an actual film, Angels With Dirty Faces, which was released Nov. 26, 1938.


To celebrate the probable anniversary of the faux classic, Home Alone cinematographer Julio Macat details how Angels With Filthy Souls was created — a job so well done, even stars noted they believed the gangster picture was the real deal ("My entire childhood, I thought the old-timey movie that Kevin watches in Home Alone … was actually an old movie," Seth Rogen previously said via Twitter).


"We really wanted to do an homage to the movie [Angels With Dirty Faces], but we really didn't watch it a lot," Macat explains. "We just wanted the feel of a classic gangster film."

Warner Bros.' Angels With Dirty Faces was packed with legendary star power the likes of James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan and George Bancroft. It was nominated for three Oscars: best actor (Cagney), best director (Michael Curtiz) and the category then known as best story (Rowland Brown).


"What really helped was being in Chicago and having those theater actors," Macat says of re-creating that bygone era. The late Ralph Foody played the hard-nosed Johnny, whose Thompson "Tommy" submachine gun was only overpowered by his maniacal laughter. Michael Guido played Snakes, who while seeking his "dough" met an untimely end via a countdown cut short. Foody died in 1999 at the age of 71.


"I could tell that [Foody] came from the theater because he was larger than life," says Macat, who notes Home Alone was his first feature as a cinematographer and Angels was filmed on the last day of preparation before production. "We shot that whole thing in one day. We did it quickly."


It was Macat's idea to shoot the faux film in the style of the late '30s — which means it fell on him to make it happen. "I got some very slow ASA black-and-white film from Kodak, which means you have strong lights to get exposure. You need three or four times more light than normal to expose the film," he recalls. "Then there was the strong backlighting, smoking up the room and having the shutters with the classic noir style. I used double fog filters, and I tried to match the camera lenses. I used a little netting material in front of the lenses to blow out the highlights even more."


Angels With Filthy Souls was shot inside a little library in Lincoln Park. And Macat says it was a particularly cold day and the building did not have a heater. "I was thinking, 'Thank God for the hot lights,'" he says.


The seasoned cinematographer — who has 40 films to his credit, but Home Alone remains his favorite — recalls the submachine gun being intimidating, at least to everyone but Foody. "The way that he handled the gun, he just went full force with it," Macat says, chuckling. "I don't remember having to add any fire flashes in front of the gun. And it was super loud, which made everything better because it was scary. We were safe, but it was scary."


Macat returned as cinematographer for Home Alone 2, which included another installment of the gangster series: Angels With Even Filthier Souls, again starring Foody. "I once said jokingly to Chris, 'Dude, write the script for Angels With Filthy Souls. I want to shoot that movie!'"



Article by: Ryan Parker for the Hollywood Reporter.

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The event offers fans of niche TV a curated list of the world's best, from French apocalyptic miniseries 'The Collapse' to the India-set romantic drama 'Made in Heaven.'

For fans of global TV, the International Emmys are the Burning Man of awards season. For years, the event, held in New York each November, was the only place where the sort of series loved by international TV binge watchers — Scandinavian noir, Asian horror or Israeli spy dramas — got celebrated.


The world, of course, has changed. Such international shows as Dark (Gothic German sci-fi), Borgen (Danish political drama) and Kingdom (Korean period horror) have become global hits. But for the true hipsters of foreign television on the hunt for the next big thing, the International Emmys is still the first port of call.


What else but the International Emmys would nominate cutting- edge French miniseries The Collapse — an apocalyptic horror tale done not in Walking Dead mode but realistically, with each of its five episodes shot in a single take? Who else but the International Television Academy, whose some 600 members come from more than 50 countries, would nominate actor Arjun Mathur for his performance as a gay wedding planner in heavily homophobic India in the romantic drama Made in Heaven, or Singapore actress Yeo Yann Yann for the omnibus series Invisible Stories?



Singaporean anthology series 'Invisible Stories.'

At what other awards ceremony would the 44 nominees come from 20 different countries and include such gems as a Norwegian reality show that debunks fake news (The Public Enlightenment) and a Brazilian satire about a group of bored, bureaucratic guardian angels (Nobody’s Looking)?


"I wouldn’t call us curators of the best in international TV, but I think we’re a barometer of what’s out there," says International Academy CEO Bruce Paisner. "There’s a big world beyond the U.S., and these shows reflect that, the local cultures and concerns."


What’s striking about this year’s International Emmy nominees is how fiercely local they are. Much of the global boom in TV drama is being bankrolled by the big U.S. platforms: Made in Heaven is an Amazon show, Nobody’s Looking is on Netflix and HBO Asia carries Invisible Stories. But all this American capital is driving more global diversity, not less.


"If you want to write a great show that maybe, hopefully, might also travel across the Atlantic, you’re going to have to shut off that nagging voice in your mind: Think Netflix! Think Amazon! Think HBO!" notes Yael Hedaya, creator of Fifty, a show about a widowed mother of three struggling to make it as a TV writer in Israel, and a 2020 nominee for best comedy series. "[You’ve got to] forget about those bagels and stay close to home."


Italian showrunners Ludovica Rampoldi, Stefano Sardo, and Alessandro Fabbri stayed very close to home for 1994. The political drama, which airs on Sky, features best actor nominee Guido Caprino as Pietro Bosco, a real-life populist who played a key role in the turbulent political landscape of 1990s Italy, where a certain  Silvio Berlusconi came to power. In the age of  Donald Trump, this very local series looks both universal and frighteningly prescient.


"A rich entrepreneur with a soft spot for women and orange-hued foundation chooses to enter politics — some say to protect his economic interests and avoid convictions — and obtains a broad consensus due to a populist and strongly divisive approach," they note. "Despite being a billionaire with a large economic empire, he’s able to make the voters believe he’s the exponent of the people against the intellectual and political elites, exploiting the general distrust toward traditional politicians and undermining the rules of democracy. Ring a bell?"


British drama 'Responsible Child.'

Similarly, the themes of Brit drama Responsible Child — based on a true-life story of a 10-year-old boy who was charged as an adult with murder, which picked up nominations in the miniseries and actor categories (for lead Billy Barratt) — will echo with anyone who is concerned with the institutional flaws of an outdated criminal justice system.


"What you can clearly see, over the last number of years, is how the quality of TV series keeps going up," notes Paisner. "We, in some way, have contributed to this explosion of international television. Because many people around the world are making these shows with the idea they could win an International Emmy."


In a normal year, the diverse talents behind all the nominated shows would descend on New York on Nov. 23 for the International Emmy Awards; 2020, of course, is not a normal year. COVID-19 restrictions on travel and public gatherings mean, instead of a Manhattan gala, the academy is planning a live-streamed event, hosted by veteran actor Richard Kind (Mad About You). American presenters including The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Tituss Burgess, Arrow actor Paul Blackthorne, and Fargo actress Kelsey Asbille will announce winners from New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, with the likes of Turkish star (and 2019 International Emmy winner for best actor) Haluk Bilginer, Spain’s Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Brazilian actor Cauã Reymond, Chinese news anchor Fu Xiaotian, and German actress Caroline Peters pitching in from their respective homes in Istanbul, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, and Cologne.


"It won’t be a big party in New York, but it will still be a celebration of global TV," says Paisner. And for those truly hip to the best in international television, it still will be the place to be.


Welcome to the International Emmys, where TV genre conventions are meant to be broken. THR picks a trio of standout contenders for 2020


Best Comedy Series: Fifty


"I pitched the show as Girls — the old-lady version," says Israeli creator and showrunner Yael Hedaya about this fictional but broadly autobiographical look at a 49-year-old widowed mother of three struggling to make her way as a television writer. Explains Hedaya, "I thought I’d have a hard time convincing broadcasters that the show has television sex appeal."


Best Actress: Glenda Jackson (Elizabeth Is Missing)


A British murder mystery that doubles as a study of dementia, Elizabeth Is Missing stars Oscar winner Jackson as an 80-something in the throes of Alzheimer’s and struggling to figure out what happened when her friend Elizabeth vanishes after a day of gardening. Says director Aisling Walsh: "I wanted an actor who is strong and fearless, and Glenda is both."


Best Actor: Guido Caprino (1994)


An Italian drama where politics takes center stage, with Caprino as real-life populist Pietro Bosco, a "man of the people" who played a key role in the rise of Silvio Berlusconi. "He’s an undesirable person … plagued by a constant feeling of being the victim of an injustice. When everything turns for the worst is when he is given the scepter of power," says Caprino.


Article by: Scott Roxborough for the Hollywood Reporter.

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Taylor-Joy also revealed what drew her to the role of chess prodigy Beth Harmon.

Netflix's new limited series The Queen's Gambit sees Anya Taylor-Joy (The New Mutants, Emma) star as Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy with a traumatic past, coming of age in the early 1960s. The adaptation of Walter Tevis' 1983 novel explores the true cost of genius, as well as what it means to be lonely.


The cast spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about what drew them to the project, as well as the series' poignant message about family.


"I loved [Beth] immediately," Taylor-Joy told THR. "There was no script when I first heard that [director and writer] Scott Frank wanted to talk to me and I inhaled the book in like an hour and a half. And I'm not a runner, but I ran to that meeting. The excitement level that I had of just how much I connected with this woman, how much I wanted to tell her story and, something that I think is really important is, I did think I could tell it right."


While Taylor-Joy plays a chess phenom in the miniseries, she and her fellow on-screen chess pros revealed that their chess knowledge before working on the project was limited.


"Zero, none," said Taylor-Joy of her previous experience with the game. "I knew there were pieces, I knew there was a board, but that's actually what was kind of awesome about getting to do this was that I got invited into a very secret world that's super cool and really interesting. A lot of the chess, especially the speed chess, was my favorite part of filming."


"I knew how to play the game," revealed Thomas Brodie Sangster, who plays chess champ Benny Watts. "I was aware of what each piece did. I used to play checkers when I was a child. It's a similar board and then my mom bought me chess pieces, but that's about it really. I knew what they all did, but I couldn't formulate a game or think 10, 15 steps ahead of anyone."


"I knew, obviously, the pieces, the board, but apart from that, I didn't know how to play, didn't know any of the different maneuvers you get told to do," added Harry Melling, who portrays fellow chess pro Harry Beltik. "So, I was a real beginner, but that's part of the joy of acting, I think. You know, you get to do things that you just wouldn't usually come across. So, that was definitely part of this journey."


Taylor-Joy's character Beth suffers the loss of her mother at a young age in the story and ends up in an orphanage. Throughout the series, she finds family in Jolene (Moses Ingram) at the orphanage, her adopted mother Alma (Marielle Heller) and friends she meets along the way. The cast opened up about the series' profound message about choosing your own family.


"Family is where you find it," said Heller. "Beth is a very resilient character. She's somebody who really finds connection with people and she sort of adjusts herself in order to meet whoever she's meeting. She's kind of always growing and changing ... she's a resilient character who finds it where she can."


"Family's who you make it, who you invite in, who you allow to share in that space with you and sometimes it's stronger with those people that aren't blood," said Ingram. "And if you allow it, it's something that can bloom into a very beautiful flower, if you will."


"It's a beautiful message about family," said Taylor-Joy. "As you're watching it, something that really struck me, and I think was also a lesson I had to learn for myself, was sometimes when you feel the most alone or the most lonely, it's only because you can't see further than your nose. There are people around you who love you and support you, and you're actually not alone ... I think it's the idea that you don't have to be born into a great family, you can choose your family."



Article by: Tiffany Taylor for the Hollywood Reporter.

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The awards show focused on superhero, science fiction fantasy, horror, action and animation is launching at a time when most of the high-profile movies have been pushed into 2021 or beyond.

Hulu's Palm Springs and HBO's Lovecraft Country lead the nominations for the inaugural Critics Choice Super Awards, the more pop culture and genre-oriented version of the Critics Choice Awards.

The awards promise to honor the movies and television shows that power most of the current entertainment industry, the one that fall into the superhero, science fiction/fantasy, horror, action, and animation space.

The Critics Choice Association, the organ behind awards and the more established Critics Choice Awards, certainly picked one heck of a year to kick off its’ genre edition. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, most tentpoles have largely vacated the release calendar, including what one would consider some of the most obvious contenders for this category, the Marvel Studios movies.


Also missing notably is Wonder Woman 1984, the DC Comics-based movie that has had its release pushed several times and on Wednesday was given an industry-shaking HBO Max plus limited theatrical release for Dec. 25.


Palm Springs garnered a total of five nominations, including best science fiction/fantasy movie, best actor in a science fiction/fantasy movie for Andy Samberg, best actor in a science fiction/fantasy movie and best villain in a movie for J.K. Simmons and finally best actress in a science fiction/fantasy movie for Cristin Milioti. Released July 10, the romantic comedy told of two people who become stuck in a time loop and forced to relive the same day over and over.


With Marvel sidelined, the best superhero movie category sees the nominees being Warner Bros.’s Birds of Prey, Netflix’s The Old Guard, Disney+’s Secret Society of Secondborn Royals, Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog, and Warner Bros. Animation’s Superman: Man of  Tomorrow.  The category includes both comic book and video game-inspired works.


Lovecraft Country received the most television nominations, with a total of six, including best horror series, best actor in a horror series for Jonathan Majors, best actor in a horror series for Michael K. Williams, best actress in a horror series for Wunmi Mosaku, best actress in a horror series for Jurnee Smollett, and best villain in a series for Abbey Lee.


Amazon’s The Boys, based on the comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, received five nominations including best superhero series, best actor in a superhero series and best villain in a series for Antony Starr, best actor in a superhero series for Karl Urban, and best actress in a superhero series for Aya Cash.


The Critics Choice Association will also present the Legacy Award to the Star Trek franchise, recognizing "the cultural impact it has had across multiple decades while continuing to appeal to and grow its loyal fanbase with new stories and characters," according to the organization. Patrick Stewart, and Star Trek: Discovery actress Sonequa Martin-Green will accept the honor.


The winners will be revealed in a special television presentation, which will be produced remotely following COVID safety protocols, hosted by filmmaker and geek specialist Kevin Smith and actress/writer Dani Fernandez.  The ceremony will air on The CW Network on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, at 8 p.m.


The full list of the numerous categories and their nominees can be found below:




Bad Boys For Life (Sony)


Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)


Extraction (Netflix)


Greyhound (Apple TV+)


The Hunt (Universal)


Mulan (Disney+)


The Outpost (Millennium Media)


Tenet (Warner Bros.)




Tom Hanks – Greyhound (Apple TV+)


Chris Hemsworth – Extraction (Netflix)


Caleb Landry Jones – The Outpost (Millennium Media)


Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)


Will Smith – Bad Boys For Life (Sony)


John David Washington – Tenet (Warner Bros)




Betty Gilpin – The Hunt (Universal)


Yifei Liu – Mulan (Disney+)


Blake Lively – The Rhythm Section (Paramount)


Iliza Shlesinger – Spenser Confidential (Netflix)


Hilary Swank – The Hunt (Universal)




Onward (Disney+)


Over the Moon (Netflix)


A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Netflix)


Soul (Disney+)


The Willoughbys (Netflix)


Wolfwalkers (Apple/GKIDS)




Jamie Foxx – Soul (Disney+)


Will Forte – The Willoughbys (Netflix)


Tom Holland – Onward (Disney+)


John Krasinski – Animal Crackers (Netflix)


Chris Pratt – Onward (Disney+)


Sam Rockwell – The One and Only Ivan (Disney+)




Tina Fey – Soul (Disney+)


Honor Kneafsey – Wolfwalkers (Apple/GKIDS)


Maya Rudolph – The Willoughbys (Netflix)


Phillipa Soo – Over the Moon (Netflix)


Octavia Spencer – Onward (Disney+)


Eva Whittaker – Wolfwalkers (Apple/GKIDS)




Birds of Prey (Warner Bros.)


The Old Guard (Netflix)


Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (Disney+)


Sonic The Hedgehog (Paramount)


Superman: Man of Tomorrow (Warner Bros. Animation)




Skylar Astin – Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (Disney+)


Jim Carrey – Sonic The Hedgehog (Paramount)


Chiwetel Ejiofor – The Old Guard (Netflix)


Ewan McGregor – Birds of Prey (Warner Bros.)


Ben Schwartz – Sonic The Hedgehog (Paramount)




Kiki Layne – The Old Guard (Netflix)


Peyton Elizabeth Lee – Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (Disney+)


Margot Robbie – Birds of Prey (Warner Bros)


Jurnee Smollett – Birds of Prey (Warner Bros)


Charlize Theron – The Old Guard (Netflix)




Freaky (Universal)


The Invisible Man (Universal)


Relic (IFC Films)


The Rental (IFC Films)


Sputnik (IFC Films)




Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù – His House (Netflix)


Pyotr Fyodorov – Sputnik (Sony Pictures)


Michiel Huisman – The Other Lamb (IFC Films)


Dan Stevens – The Rental (IFC Films)


Vince Vaughn – Freaky (Universal)




Haley Bennett – Swallow (IFC Films)


Angela Bettis – 12 Hour Shift (Magnet Releasing)


Elisabeth Moss – The Invisible Man (Universal)


Kathryn Newton – Freaky (Universal)


Sheila Vand – The Rental (IFC Films)




Love and Monsters (Paramount)


Palm Springs (Hulu and NEON)


Possessor (Neon and Elevation Pictures)


Synchronic (Well Go USA)


The Vast of Night (Amazon Studios)




Christopher Abbott – Possessor (Neon and Elevation Pictures)


Jake Horowitz – The Vast of Night (Amazon Studios)


Anthony Mackie – Synchronic (Well Go USA)


Andy Samberg – Palm Springs (Hulu and NEON)


J.K. Simmons – Palm Springs (Hulu and NEON)




Ally Ioannides – Synchronic (Well Go USA)


Katherine Langford – Spontaneous (Paramount)


Sierra McCormick – The Vast of Night (Amazon Studios)


Cristin Milioti – Palm Springs (Hulu and NEON)


Andrea Riseborough – Possessor (Neon and Elevation Pictures)




Jim Carrey – Sonic The Hedgehog (Paramount)


Katherine Langford – Spontaneous (Paramount)


Kathryn Newton – Freaky (Universal)


Martin Short and Jane Krakowski – The Willoughbys (Netflix)


J.K. Simmons – Palm Springs (Hulu and NEON)


Hilary Swank – The Hunt (Universal)


Still with us? Just making sure. Now the nominations for series.




9-1-1 (Fox)


Hanna (Amazon)


unters (Amazon)


S.W.A.T. (CBS)


Vikings (History)


Warrior (Cinemax)




Daveed Diggs – Snowpiercer (TNT)


Andrew Koji – Warrior (Cinemax)


Logan Lerman – Hunters (Amazon)


Alexander Ludwig – Vikings (History)


Shemar Moore – S.W.A.T. (CBS)


Al Pacino – Hunters (Amazon)




Angela Bassett – 9-1-1 (Fox)


Jennifer Connelly – Snowpiercer (TNT)


Esme Creed-Miles – Hanna (Amazon)


Mireille Enos – Hanna (Amazon)


Katheryn Winnick – Vikings (History)


Alison Wright – Snowpiercer (TNT)




Archer (FXX)


BoJack Horseman (Netflix)


Big Mouth (Netflix)Central Park (Apple TV+)


Harley Quinn (HBO Max)


Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)


Star Trek: Lower Decks (CBS All Access)




Will Arnett – BoJack Horseman (Netflix)


Jon  Benjamin -- Archer (FXX)


Nick Kroll – Big Mouth (Netflix)


John Mulaney – Big Mouth (Netflix)


Jack Quaid – Star Trek: Lower Decks (CBS All Access)


Justin Roiland – Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)


J.B. Smoove – Harley Quinn (HBO Max)




Kaley Cuoco – Harley Quinn (HBO Max)


Tawny Newsome – Star Trek: Lower Decks (CBS All Access)


Maya Rudolph – Big Mouth (Netflix)


Amy Sedaris – BoJack Horseman (Netflix)


Aisha Tyler – Archer (FXX)


Jessica Walter – Archer (FXX)




The Boys (Amazon)


DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (The CW)


Doom Patrol (DC Universe and HBO Max)


The Flash (The CW)


Lucifer (Netflix)


The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)




Jon Cryer – Supergirl (The CW)


Tom Ellis – Lucifer (Netflix)


Grant Gustin – The Flash (The CW)


Antony Starr – The Boys (Amazon)


Karl Urban – The Boys (Amazon)


Cress Williams – Black Lightning (The CW)




Melissa Benoist – Supergirl (The CW)


Aya Cash – The Boys (Amazon)


Diane Guerrero – Doom Patrol (DC Universe and HBO Max)


Elizabeth Marvel – Helstrom (Hulu)


Lili Reinhart – Riverdale (The CW)


Cobie Smulders – Stumptown (ABC)




Evil (CBS)


The Haunting of Bly Manor (Netflix)


Lovecraft Country (HBO)


The Outsider (HBO)Supernatural (The CW)


The Walking Dead (AMC)




Jensen Ackles – Supernatural (The CW)


Mike Colter – Evil (CBS)


Michael Emerson – Evil (CBS)


Jonathan Majors – Lovecraft Country (HBO)


Ben Mendelsohn – The Outsider (HBO)


Jared Padalecki – Supernatural (The CW)


Michael K. Williams – Lovecraft Country (HBO)




Natalie Dormer – Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (Showtime)


Cynthia Erivo – The Outsider (HBO)


Katja Herbers – Evil (CBS)


T'Nia Miller – The Haunting of Bly Manor (Netflix)


Wunmi Mosaku – Lovecraft Country (HBO)


Victoria Pedretti – The Haunting of Bly Manor (Netflix)


Jurnee Smollett – Lovecraft Country (HBO)




The Mandalorian (Disney+)


Outlander (Starz)


Raised By Wolves (HBO Max)


Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)


Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)


Upload (Amazon)


What We Do in the Shadows (FX)




Robbie Amell – Upload (Amazon)


Travis Fimmel – Raised by Wolves (HBO Max)


Sam Heughan – Outlander (Starz)


Kayvan Novak – What We Do in the Shadows (FX)


Pedro Pascal – The Mandalorian (Disney+)


Nick Offerman – Devs (FX on Hulu)


Sir Patrick Stewart – Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)




Caitriona Balfe – Outlander (Starz)


Amanda Collin – Raised by Wolves (HBO Max)


Natasia Demetriou – What We Do in the Shadows (FX)


Sonequa Martin-Green – Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)


Thandie Newton – Westworld (HBO)


Hilary Swank – Away (Netflix)


Jodie Whittaker – Doctor Who (BBC America)




Tom Ellis – Lucifer (Netflix)


Abbey Lee – Lovecraft Country (HBO)


Samantha Morton – The Walking Dead (AMC)


Sarah Paulson – Ratched (Netflix)


Antony Starr – The Boys (Amazon)


Finn Wittrock – Ratched (Netflix)


Article by: Borys Kit for the Hollywood Reporter.

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Jeffrey Roth's feature has now President-elect Biden and five other living U.S. Vice Presidents, including Mike Pence, talking about events that shaped their White House years.

CNN Films has picked up the North American linear TV rights to President in Waiting, a feature documentary from Jeffrey Roth where now President-elect Joe Biden discusses his years as vice president under President Barack Obama.

The film, which interviews five other living American Vice Presidents -- Mike Pence, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Dan Quayle, and Walter Mondale -- about their White House years, is set for a Dec. 5 premiere on CNN.

"Jeffrey Roth’s storytelling and his ability to bring this incredible cast of subjects together on film, make President in Waiting essential viewing," Courtney Sexton, senior vp of CNN Films, said in a statement.

Biden in President in Waiting discusses accepting his nomination of Vice President, and his later relationship with President Obama, while his fellow VPs discuss their own experiences with war, diplomacy and other national events that shaped their own administrations.

Roth also wrote and produced the film with Paul Basta of Playground Productions. Stephen Beck is executive producer.

The acquisition deal was negotiated by Josh Braun, Matt Burke, and Ben Schwartz of Submarine Entertainment, on behalf of the filmmakers, and by Stacey Wolf, senior vp of business affairs, and Kelly MacLanahan, assistant general counsel, both of CNN Worldwide, on behalf of CNN Films.


Article by: Etan Vlessing for the Hollywood Reporter.

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