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Productions Restart Despite Pandemic Surge; Will Oscar Voters Take a Cue From The Critics?; Warner Bros.' CEO Defends Walter Hamada
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Today In Entertainment
JANUARY 14, 2021
What's news: TV and film productions are picking up despite the current COVID surge, WarnerMedia defends DC Films chief Walter Hamada amid criticism from Ray Fisher, Insecure will end after season 5, the movie theater chain poised to take advantage of the pandemic, Kevin Costner sues his former business partner, Many Saints of Newark delayed to fall, SAG Awards pushed too. Plus: Will Oscars voters take cues from critics picks? And Armie Hammer's unusual departure from Shotgun Wedding. --Alex Weprin
Productions Restart Despite Pandemic Surge
►Studios restart production in Los Angeles a amid COVID-19 surge. After a brief pause following County Health Department recommendations, Hollywood's major studios are getting cameras rolling again, Bryn Sandberg reports.
--Universal TV is getting three of its projects up and running, including two NBC series, Mr. Mayor and Kenan, and an untitled Jean Smart comedy for HBO Max. Meanwhile, at least three of the studio's other productions — Netflix's Never Have I Ever and NBC shows Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Good Girls — aren't slated to start shooting again until Jan. 18. Disney and Netflix are said to also be waiting until next week to restart principal photography on their Los Angeles-based projects (or at least the ones they run point on). According to FilmLA, Amazon's Goliath is also in the queue to film this week, along with a handful of reality series.
--"We continue to monitor the data and the continued strain on hospital capacity throughout the region," said a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson. "In light of this, it is hard to understand how an increase in production in this environment makes a lot of sense." The story.
+A movie theater chain poised to weather 2021’s disruptions. While shutdowns are saddling exhibition giants like AMC and Cinemark with rent expenses in addition to lost revenue, Marcus Theatres — the fourth-largest circuit in the U.S. — owns real estate behind the majority of its screens and could even be a buyer.
--Marcus’ CEO says industry fallout from the pandemic, such as a likely reduction in the number of movie screens, could also provide select buying opportunities as competitors rationalize their footprints. “We anticipate various real estate owners may be getting properties back from tenants,” Greg Marcus says, but emphasizes: “We will continue to be disciplined in our investment approach as we evaluate any potential future opportunities.” The story.
Will Oscars Voters Lean On The Critics?
►Will Oscar voters take a cue from critics' picks? While awards season may be getting off to a slow, COVID-delayed start, the main critics groups in New York and L.A. haven't waited to bestow their accolades. But, lacking an overwhelming consensus, they may not have as much impact as they have had in the past, Gregg Kilday writes.
--"In a regular year, the critics' picks usually command attention for a day or two, but are sometimes lost amid all the praise coming from other quarters. But striking out on their own, the critics' groups decided to stick to the 2020 calendar year, COVID-related extensions be damned. Theoretically, since the nominations or awards haven't been announced yet, that should give the critics' choices more weight." The story.
+The 27th SAG Awards will be changing dates again. This installment of the annual celebration of actors by the world's largest union of actors was already postponed once, due to the pandemic. Now, it is being pushed back even further — to Sunday, April 4 — because the 63rd Grammys was delayed on Tuesday, due to the recent Los Angeles-area COVID surge, until 8pm ET on Sunday, March 14, the very date and time that had previously been claimed by the SAG Awards. The story.
►WarnerMedia is sticking by Walter Hamada even as the DC Films president faces a new and continued attack from Ray Fisher, the actor who played Cyborg in 2017's failed blockbuster Justice League. The company released a statement backing Hamada’s integrity on Thursday, a day after Fisher put out his own comments on Twitter in which he accused the exec of undermining an investigation into misconduct that is alleged to have occurred during the reshoots of Justice League.
--"I believe in Walter Hamada and that he did not impede or interfere in the investigation," said WarnerMedia chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff in a statement. "Furthermore, I have full confidence in the investigation’s process and findings. Walter is a well-respected leader, known by his colleagues, peers, and me as a man of great character and integrity. As I said in Walter's recent deal extension announcement, I’m excited about where he’s taking DC Films and look forward to working with him and the rest of the team to build out the DC Multiverse." The story.
►An awkward departure for Armie Hammer. Armie Hammer has departed Shotgun Wedding, an upcoming Lionsgate action-comedy starring Jennifer Lopez. Hammer's exit comes after disturbing comments attributed to the actor surfaced on social media over the weekend. The authenticity of those messages has not yet been verified.
--“I’m not responding to these bullshit claims but in light of the vicious and spurious online attacks against me, I cannot in good conscience now leave my children for 4 months to shoot a film in the Dominican Republic," Hammer said in a statement to THR. "Lionsgate is supporting me in this, and I’m grateful to them for that." The story.
+In other film news: The Sopranos prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark has been delayed to fall of 2021, Warner Bros. and New Line announced. It was inisitally slated for release in September 2020.
►HBO will close the book on Insecure with its forthcoming fifth season. The premium cable outlet announced Wednesday that the show's fifth season will be its last one. The series, created by and starring Issa Rae, is coming off a fourth season that earned nine Emmy nominations, including its first nod for best comedy. The story.
+Why the new Sex and the City is coming back (and for HBO Max). "While Sex and the City has been off the air for more than a decade, new — and younger — audiences have found the series on syndication on basic cable networks like TBS and E! (Much in the same way new generations discovered Friends and The Office in Netflix.) With a pair of feature films also part of its larger franchise, Sex and the City now has the kind of broad and mainstream audience that is appealing to an upstart streaming service like HBO Max." More.
►Kevin Costner is suing his former business partner Jim Wilson for $15 million for allegedly refusing to sign over his rights in a company the Yellowstone star is trying to wind down. Costner estimates Wilson has earned more than $35 million over the years from their relationship, which dates back to a 1983 casting call that resulted in the actor's first lead role. The story.
In other legal news...
+A U.S. District Court judge has upheld the $1 billion verdict against Cox Communications that found the cable and internet service provider liable for piracy infringement of over 10,000 musical works on its network, court documents filed on Tuesday reveal. More.
+Geragos Global, an investor in business, real estate and recreation founded by attorney Mark Geragos, on Friday bought Scott's Family Resort at Oquaga Lake, the picturesque Catskills resort that served as a family getaway for the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. More.
►Film review: David Rooney reviews the pandemic heist flick Locked Down, writing: "A lo-fi treatment of a high-concept crime rom-com deficient in sexual chemistry, laughs and suspense, this is a grating stunt in which actors who ought to know better, led by Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor, play synthetically movie-ish characters meant to tickle us with the all-too-real trials of the COVID era." The review.
►TV review: Inkoo Kang reviews season 4 of Search Party, writing that "the first half of the 10-part season is much more compelling than the second, which borrows a few too many twists from daytime soaps. But the initial five chapters are Search Party at its best, especially in its satire of showbiz and the media." The review.
►SPAC of the day: Another day, another Special Purpose Acquisition Company targeting the media and entertainment space. The latest addition, Progress Acquisition Corp., counts former Time Inc. CEO Rich Battista, Sling TV CEO Warren Schlichting, former MoviePass exec Sanjay Puri and ex-Facebook exec and MoviePass chairman Chris Kelly on board.
Revolving door: The ViacomCBS kids & family group is combining all live-action production under one team to be headed by Nickelodeon executives Shauna Phelan and Zack Olin... Former Awesomeness executive Shelley Zimmermanis teaming up with Kerry Ehrin. Zimmerman will be president television at Ehrin's Bad Attitude Entertainment... Former TiVO exec Tara Maitrahas been named chief commercial officer for BBC Studios. And Jennifer Ballas, formerly with Univision and Promax, becomes senior vp of marketing at the BBC's U.S.-based commercial arm...
--Former Paramount president of production Elizabeth Raposo will head Michael B. Jordan's Outlier Society production banner...Fox News Channel says that Peter Doocywill join its White House team as a correspondent, after covering Joe Biden's presidential campaign for much of the past year... Former WME agent Tanya Cohenhas landed at management firm Range Media Partners...
Casting roundup: May Calamawy, who is perhaps best known for her work in Hulu's Ramy, has nabbed a key role in Moon Knight, Marvel Studios’ series for Disney+...Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes and Bugzy Malone are set to star alongside Jason Statham in Guy Ritchie's untitled spy thriller for Miramax and STX Films... Tony Goldwyn and Daniel Dae Kimwill star in Nat Geo's The Hot Zone: Anthrax, which chronicles the 2001 anthrax attacks...
Obituaries: Owen Marsh, who served as a camera operator for such classic films as Ben-Hur, How the West Was Won and The Greatest Story Ever Told and for television shows from The Brady Bunch to Murder, She Wrote, has died. He was 90... Robert F. Liu, the China-born cinematographer who received Emmy nominations for his work on Lou Grant and Family Ties, died Sunday, the American Society of Cinematographers announced. He was 94... Jessica Campbell, the actress who had a starring role in the dark cult comedy Election, has died, according to her cousin, Sarah Wessling. She was 38...
In other news...
--Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem during the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, with Jennifer Lopez also scheduled to perform.
--The Kennedy Center Honors announced Wednesday that choreographer and actress Debbie Allen, singer-songwriter Garth Brooks, actor Dick Van Dyke, singer-songwriter Joan Baez and violinist Midori will be the honored at this year's ceremony, which was pushed to May from its traditional December date.
--James Murdoch and Uday Shankar, the former CEO of Star India and president of Disney in Asia Pacific, said Thursday that they are partnering to form a new venture that will explore technology and media opportunities in emerging markets.
--Support for "Filmmaker Mode" — a setting on select TVs, including some featured this week during the virtual CES, aimed at preserving filmmakers' creative intent and championed by leading filmmakers including Martin Scorsese and Ryan Coogler — is being considered by apps that stream awards season screeners, THR's Carolyn Giardina reports.
--South by Southwest is going virtual with the help of Willie Nelson. The country music legend will keynote SXSW Online, event organizers announced Wednesday.
--CD Projekt Red co-founder Marcin Iwinski attributed development challenges to the rocky release of Cyberpunk 2077, which received criticism from reviewers and players for its bugs and glitches after its December launch.
OLIVER HOLT: The horror of relegation haunts Chris Ramsey just as it haunts every other manager who is scrambling and scrapping to try to escape it. But for Ramsey there is a wider fear, too. from Articles | Mail Online http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3075023/Chris-Ramsey-heat-relegation-QPR-mean-black-managers-Premier-League.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490
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Today, 790 million people — 11 percent of the world's population — live without access to clean water. Two years ago, XPrize , an international nonprofit organization, announced a global competition enticing innovators to find a sustainable and affordable way to bring potable water to those who aren't privileged enough to have it now. Skeptics told the competition organizers that it was impossible. Nearly 100 submissions later, and XPrize found precisely what they were looking for — entrepreneurs who could design a minimalistic device that could reliably extract 2,000 liters of water from the atmosphere per day for no more than two cents per liter all using 100 percent renewable energy. Read more... More about Environment , Water , Climate Change , Xprize , and Water Crisis from Mashable https://mashable.com/article/xprize-water-competition-winner/ via IFTTT