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Women in Hollywood See Chance for Change in Weinstein Uproar

Charmaine Blake



The emergence of sexual harassment claims against producer Harvey Weinstein has the potential to be a watershed moment for Hollywood, offering a new opportunity to shed its “casting couch” image, according to advocates for women in the workplace.

The allegations by women including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan against a prominent and successful industry leader may encourage more women to step forward with their own stories and force men in power to reflect on their own behavior, said filmmakers and activists. The Weinstein scandal also should put more pressure on studios to put more women in leadership roles and improve parity in hiring and pay, they said.

“The problem is just rife in Hollywood,” said Maria Giese, a filmmaker and activist. “For a young woman, with no connections or experience, the trade-off requested for advancement is too often sexual, and it is happening in an industry that produces America’s most cultural influential global export.”

Giese said she had her own experience of being expected to have sex with executives that helped her early films get made — offers she declined. She didn’t identify the individuals. Tired of her lack of career progression, she helped persuade the American Civil Liberties Union to open a 2015 investigation into hiring practices in the movie industry, which drew the attention of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Weinstein case strikes at the heart of the problem for women’s progress in Hollywood because the industry relies on reciprocity — favors owed and returned, including sexual ones, Giese said.

Weinstein, known for aggressive awards campaigns that led to Oscars for movies like “Shakespeare in Love,” took a leave of absence Thursday from the company he founded with his brother. The New York Times reported that Weinstein had paid at least eight women to settle sexual harassment claims. Weinstein denied many of the allegations and told the New York Post the report was unfair. Three board members at his company, Weinstein Co., resigned Friday, according to Deadline, and the remaining directors hired outside lawyers to investigate the allegations.

Attorney Lisa Bloom said on Saturday on Twitter that she had also resigned as an adviser to Weinstein. “My understanding is that Mr. Weinstein and his board are moving toward an agreement,” she said in the Tweet.

The development roiled an industry that has largely excluded women from prominent roles behind the camera and equal representation in front of the camera. Research by the University of Southern California found that the percentage of female speaking characters in movies hasn’t budged much above 30 percent over the past decade. And behind the camera, only 4.2 percent of directors were women, 13.2 percent writers and 20.7 percent were producers in 2016, despite women making up about half the population.

Part of the challenge for women is the fear of career repercussions for speaking out. Megan Ellison, the daughter of Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison who created producer Annapurna Pictures, tweeted sympathetically of the New York Times story. “Women face serious repercussions for sharing their experiences and deserve our full support,” she said. “I admire the courage of these women.”

Some in the industry are pushing to hire more women for leadership roles as a corrective action.

“One production company I’m working with submitted a list of director choices to me that was over 50 percent women,” C. Robert Cargill, a writer whose credits include horror feature “Sinister” and comic-book movie “Doctor Strange,” said in an email. “There’s a wealth of long-neglected talent out there and Hollywood is starting to realize how much they were missing out on by leaning on the male-driven meritocracy. I think the landscape of Hollywood five years from now is going to be very different than it is today.”

Cargill said he won’t work with companies that face allegations like the claims against Weinstein. “I’d much rather sleep well at night than be restless atop a big bed of money,” he said. “And I would urge all of my fellow creatives to do the same.”

Scott Derrickson, the director and producer, said he has chosen women to direct five projects he has in development because so few are hired in the industry.

Giese called for an impartial oversight body to protect women’s rights. Several guilds that represent different film disciplines, from directing to acting, “cannot be left with the responsibility for advancing the rights of women,” she said.

The Directors Guild of America is overwhelmingly white and male, with a membership, including all directorial team members, that’s 23.4 percent female and 4.5 percent African-American, according to its website. The percentage of female directors in the group is even smaller, at 15.1 percent, with African-Americans at 3.8 percent.

Late last month the guild released data that showed a sharp rise in the number of women and minorities as first-time directors in television — a result, the guild said, of its efforts to educate the industry. The percentage of minority first-time TV directors more than doubled since 2009 and the percentage of women nearly tripled, the guild said.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, is also heavily white and male, and changed its voting rules last year to encourage more diversity.

Women In Film, a Los Angeles non-profit designed to promote equality in the entertainment business, is working with studios to achieve gender parity in hiring and pay by tackling conscious as well as unconscious biases.

“We hope with more women in executive positions there will be a ripple effect,” said Kirsten Schaffer, executive director of Women In Film. The ousting of powerful news executives from 21st Century Fox Inc. over the past year after claims of sexual harassment is part of the wave of women starting to speak out, she said.

“Hollywood has a lot of work to do,” Schaffer said. “People are afraid of losing their jobs and their careers and don’t do the right thing because of that. There should be greater legal penalties for those who are complicit.”

The status of the EEOC’s examination of the industry following the ACLU’s investigation is unclear. The agency routinely declines to comment on such matters and didn’t respond Friday to a request for comment after normal business hours.

“The Harvey Weinstein situation is yet another reminder of the incredibly egregious and deep-running sexism in Hollywood,” said Melissa Goodman, who oversees gender-related matters at the ACLU of Southern California. “The industry will change only when women feel it’s safe to speak out against the sexism that manifests not only in rampant sexual harassment but also in the failure to hire women or pay them equally.”

Giese risked her career by instigating the industrywide probe, she said. “Speaking out boldly is the only way to engender change,” she said. “I may never work again.”

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Apple and Oprah sign a multi-year partnership on original content



Apple announced today a multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey to produce programs for the tech company’s upcoming video-streaming service. Apple didn’t provide any specific details as to what sort of projects Winfrey would be involved in, but there will be more than one it seems.

Apple shared the news of its deal with Winfrey in a brief statement on its website, which read:

Apple today announced a unique, multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey, the esteemed producer, actress, talk show host, philanthropist and CEO of OWN.

Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.

Winfrey’s projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple.

The deal is a significant high-profile win for Apple, which has been busy filing out its lineup with an array of talent in recent months.

The streaming service also will include a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Storiesa Reese Witherspoon- and Jennifer Aniston-starring series set in the world of morning TVan adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation books, a thriller starring Octavia Spencer, a Kristen Wiig-led comedy, a Kevin Durant-inspired scripted basketball show, a series from “La La Land’s” director and several other shows.

Winfrey, however, is not just another showrunner or producer. She’s a media giant who has worked across film, network and cable TV, print and more as an actress, talk show host, creator and producer.

She’s also a notable philanthropist, having contributed more than $100 million to provide education to academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, and is continually discussed as a potential presidential candidate, though she said that’s not for her.

On television, Winfrey’s Harpo Productions developed daytime TV shows like “Dr. Phil,” “The Dr. Oz Show” and “Rachael Ray.” Harpo Films produced several Academy Award-winning movies, including “Selma,” which featured Winfrey in a starring role. She’s also acted in a variety of productions over the years, like “The Color Purple,” which scored her an Oscar nom, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Winfrey also founded the cable network OWN in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Communications, and has exec produced series including “Queen Sugar,” “Oprah’s Master Class” and the Emmy-winning “Super Soul Sunday.”

The latter has a connection with Apple as it debuted as a podcast called “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations” and became a No. 1 program on Apple Podcasts.

Winfrey recently extended her contract with OWN through 2025, so it’s unclear how much time she’ll devote specifically toward her Apple projects.

Apple also didn’t say if Winfrey will star or guest in any of the programs themselves, but that’s always an option on the table with a deal like this. CNN, however, is reporting that Winfrey “is expected to have an on-screen role as a host and interviewer.”

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Tom Cruise Day #1 Set of Top Gun 2



(CNN) “It wasn’t “Top Gun” Day, but Tom Cruise still managed to thrill fans.

The star posted a photo that appears to celebrate the planned sequel to “Top Gun.”
The picture shows Cruise in character as Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell looking at his aircraft with the words “Feel The Need” superimposed over the image.

A post shared by Tom Cruise (@tomcruise) on

The caption reads “#Day1.”
Three years ago, David Ellison, chief executive officer of the Skydance production company, confirmed that a sequel to the hit 1986 film was in development.
The following year, the original film’s producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, raised the stakes when he tweeted a picture with Cruise captioned: “Just got back from a weekend in New Orleans to see my old friend @TomCruise and discuss a little Top Gun 2.”
Last May, Cruise’s co-star Val Kilmer shared his excitement for the forthcoming sequel on social media.

friends said it’s official – #TOPGUN2 was announced today. I’m ready Tom- still got my top gun plaque! Still got the moves! Still got it!

A post shared by Val Kilmer (@valkilmerofficial) on

“Friends said it’s official – #TOPGUN2 was announced today,” Kilmer wrote in the caption of a photo he posted on Instagram that showed him wearing a t-shirt with a drawing of his Iceman character on it. “I’m ready Tom — still got my top gun plaque! Still got the moves! Still got it!”
The plot is being kept tightly under wraps. However, in October, director Joseph Kosinski told, “The Navy is very different now than it was in 1986.”
“Back then, they hadn’t been in any war for 15 or 20 years at that point,” he said. “The tone of that movie and what those guys were doing was very different. Now, here in 2017, the Navy’s been at war for 20 years. It’s just a different world now, so you can’t remake the first movie.”
According to Kosinski, the sequel has to “adapt.”
“That being said, I certainly want to recreate the experience of that movie, which gives you a front-seat into the world of Naval aviation and what it’s like to be in a fighter jet,” he said. “The approach is going to be appropriate for the times we live in.
For the record, “Top Gun” Day is May 13 — the unofficial holiday when fans of film are encouraged to celebrate it…”

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Roseanne cancelled: ABC scraps sitcom after star’s ‘abhorrent’ tweets

Charmaine Blake



“Roseanne Barrs revived sitcom has been cancelled after she posted a racist and Islamophobic tweet that attacked former Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett.

The sitcom star falsely alleged that Jarrett, who was born in Iran to American parents, has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, and compared her to an ape. Barr wrote Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj, using Jarretts initials.

ABC swiftly announced the shows cancellation. The network said in a statement: Roseannes Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.

Bob Iger, the chief executive of Disney, which owns ABC, supported the decision. Iger wrote on Twitter: There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing….”

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