Tuesday, July 25, 2017

‘Get Shorty’ TV Series Like Visiting A Bar On Thursday At 3 AM – TCA


Kicking off TCA’s summer 2017 clambake, cast and creators of Epix’s Get Shorty got asked to mull the difference between series, the movie, and the Elmore Leonard book on which both are based.
“It’s like visiting the same bar at different times of the week, explained series star Chris O’Dowd, who plays Miles Daly, a guy who’s trying to segue from murderous crime ring muscleman to movie producer.
The movie, he said, is like going to the bar on a Saturday night when everyone looks their best and the bar does too. “We visit at 3 AM on a Thursday, when the floor is kind of sticky and you’re fighting with your girlfriend and the bar bill is about to arrive and you can’t afford to pay it.”
Ray Romano, who plays Rick Moreweather, the washed up low-budget movie producer who becomes Miles’ partner, got asked if he had met a lot of people like his character in his Hollywood career.
“My character is washed up and B-level, so I guess you’re assuming I’ve met a lot of them?” he joked.
“And I have. It’s fun to play a guy who’s…desperate and trying to prove himself…I’ve been around these guys.
“It really could be anybody, any profession.”
Confessing to the obvious, Romano said he “borrowed” his character’s hair from Brian Grazer. “Who is an A producer,” Romano hastened to add. “I don’t want him to be offended by this.”
Asked about the level of violence in the series, which the TV critic posing the question said was more extreme than the movie, director Adam Arkin insisted the series is more true to the novel and the movie had walked it back.
Get Shorty debuts Sunday, August 13 at 10 PM.  The 10-episode hourlong dark comedy from MGM TV, is a reimagining of Elmore Leonard’s 1990 bestselling thriller comedy novel previously adapted by MGM with Barry Sonnefeld’s 1995 feature starring John Travolta, Danny DeVito, Gene Hackman and Rene Russo.
Written by Davey Holmes (Shameless, In Treatment, Damages), Get Shorty follows Miles Daly (O’Dowd), a hitman from Nevada who tries to become a movie producer in Hollywood as a means to leave his criminal past behind and win back his recently-estranged family.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Next James Bond Movie Sets 2019 Release Date

Daniel Craig is not included in the announcement for the Nov. 8, 2019, film.
@007/Twitter
007 will be back in 2019.
The next installment in the James Bond franchise has set a release date of Nov. 8, 2019. This will be the 25th installment in the long-running series. 
Daniel Craig, who has held a license to kill since first playing Bond in 2006's Casino Royale, has not been announced as being back as the British Secret Service agent, with EON Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer saying casting will be announced at a later date. A director has also not been revealed (Sam Mendes helmed the previous two installments).
The script is coming from Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who worked on Craig's four Bond films: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre. 
While the date is set, many other things about Bond 25 remain unclear. MGM and EON have no U.S. studio partner on the movie and are in secret talks with several contenders after its four-picture deal with Sony expired with Spectre. Sources say Sony and Warner Bros. are vying for the rights. 
It is also unclear whether Craig will return. The actor has spoken disdainfully about continuing as Bond in the past, but more recent rumors have painted a more softened tone from the actor. Among the stars who have been seen as waiting in the wings to take on the role should Craig retire include Idris Elba, Tim Hiddleston, Damien Lewis, Tom Hardy and The Hobbit actor Aidan Turner.
The franchise has been very successful with Craig in the starring role. 2012's Skyfall earned $1.1 billion, while 2015's Spectre earned $880 million.
Bond 25 will be produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. It is set to open the same day as an untitled Disney fairy tale movie.

Why Hollywood Studios Are Slow to Embrace Virtual Reality

VR Special Report: “The big elephant in the room is: How do you monetize this?” one analyst tells TheWrap
Are virtual and augmented reality truly the Next Big Thing for Hollywood? While every major studio is investing in VR experiences, so far most are short, under-10-minute extensions of big franchise fare like “Alien: Covenant” or video games expanding on familiar characters like Warner Bros.’ “Batman: Arkham” that have little to do with traditional storytelling.
“I believe immersive entertainment is going to be a real thing,” Vicki Dobbs Beck, executive in charge at ILMxLAB, told TheWrap. “We’re in the early stages, and a lot of people are skeptical and taking a wait-and-see approach.”
With VR hailed as a hot game-changing technology, and analytics firm Greenlight Insights projecting VR revenues to grow from $7 billion in 2017 to a staggering $75.4 billion in four years, Hollywood wants to ensure that it will own a piece of that pie.
But not only is virtual reality in its technological infancy, the revenue is so far rather virtual as well. According to Tim Merel’s Digi-Capital, virtual reality generated $2.7 billion in 2016, mostly from the sale of hardware like Facebook’s Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive that rolled out to consumers for the first time last year. That’s up from $660 million in VR gaming revenue in 2015, per Statista, but well behind the $3.8 billion that Digi-Capital had projected for last year.
The same is true for augmented reality — a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a real-world vision but that is widely seen as less compatible for studios looking to exploit characters and storytelling. (Thanks to Niantic’s hit game “Pokemon Go,” AR produced a surprise $1.2 billion in revenue last year.)
Given that the public acceptance of VR has been relatively slow to take off, it’s no surprise that Hollywood has also lagged behind. Here is everything that is keeping studios from strapping on headsets.
1. The VR audience is still small
So far the audience is tiny. While Greenlight projects 100 million VR devices will be shipped to consumers by 2021, Facebook’s Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive shipped less than 1 million units combined in 2016. Both product launches fell behind projections, hampered by hardware delays and canceled pre-orders.
The vast majority of VR revenue so far comes from sales of equipment — rather than content for that gear that studios and gaming companies might create. That may change, but it will be a gradual one. Starting sometime next year, the $400 Oculus Rift bundle will include Disney’s “Marvel Powers United VR” interactive game allowing players to suit up as their favorite Marvel superhero.
Consumers who don’t want to shell out $400 for their own device can visit standalone VR centers — essentially arcades — that have opened in malls and movie theater lobbies in the last year, many operated by IMAX.
You can try VR experiences, including some of the studio-affiliated pieces like Lionsgate’s “John Wick Chronicles,” for $7 to $12 a pop. According to IMAX’s Chief Legal Officer Rob Lister, the company splits the revenue with the content developer and the operator if it’s not an IMAX-owned center.
But major revenues from VR content have yet to materialize.
“The big elephant in the room is, How do you monetize this?” Accenture senior analyst Aaron Sauceda told TheWrap. “How do you get that ecosystem working well, where you have people creating content for VR and then people adopting it and it spiraling from there?”
VR Revenue Growth
2. VR content doesn’t come cheap
Producing premium VR content can run “up to $1 million per minute,” one top VR executive told TheWrap — though the cost can range widely depending on how interactive a piece is and how long.
“Anything that’s going to be worthwhile can get outrageous [in cost],” added another studio insider familiar with VR production prices.
Most content, especially based around theatrical releases, costs in the $2 million to $4 million range to produce, according to one high-ranking movie studio exec. It would be “hard to do anything very good” for less, the executive said.
Some gaming companies have spent up to $10 million per project for integrated VR, the executive added, noting that games tend to have a much higher return on investment since users play them over and over again.
Despite the limited revenues so far, Sauceda sees the advantages for studios exploiting their intellectual property in the VR space as big tech-oriented players like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Samsung ramp up their own efforts. “If nothing else, this is a good time to invest and maybe play the long game,” he said.
3. The technology is still young — and sometimes glitchy
VR tech itself is not yet seamless, as TheWrap discovered when visiting the IMAX Centre in Los Angeles and had a computer crash midway through “Life of Us,” a seven-minute re-creation of Earth’s evolution from Within CEO Chris Milk’s Here Be Dragons VR production company.
Many early users have complained about feeling light-headed or even vomiting while wearing headsets. “If you’ve ever used VR, you know you don’t want to have the glasses on your face,” said Phil Contrino, the Data and Research Manager for the National Association of Theater Owners.
Innovators in the field acknowledge the technical challenges — as well as the creative ones in determining just what a VR experience can be.
“No one has figured out what works and what doesn’t,” John Knoll, Oscar-winning visual effects artist and chief creative officer of ILM. “Everyone is experimenting.”
4. Theater owners are leery
Exhibitors are understandably anxious about studios devoting resources to content that bypasses traditional movie theaters — as well as the prospect of an expensive upgrade of its theaters to accommodate new technology like VR headsets for each seat.
“VR should be viewed as a complement, not a competitor,”  Contrino, said at this year’s exhibitor convention CinemaCon.
It’s no wonder, then, that most of the studio-produced VR projects have been short experiences suited for gamers, whether in VR arcades or at home.
What the field needs most at the moment is a large investment in distribution, one top studio executive told TheWrap, comparing VR rollout to the adoption of digital projectors over now-antique film projectors.
“You could compare it to the early days of digital cinema,” the individual said. “Disney, for instance, spearheaded the effort and paid for a quarter of the first digital projectors to go into movie theaters. Then the exhibitors caught on and said, ‘OK, we’ll fund the rest.'”

5. No star power

For the most part, studio efforts in VR have relied on showing off the technology rather than movie stars — who might raise the production costs but also draw a larger audience. The VR experience based on Sony’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and FoxNext’s “The Martian” puts you in the costume of leads Tom Holland and Matt Damon — but without including their face or voice.
“There’s still a mass market for premium VR,” said Andy Vick, who with Rick Rey runs the STXSurreal division of Bob Simonds’ STX Entertainment that aims to create original content exclusive for VR. “A lot of the reasons we’re not seeing that is because we’re not seeing names and faces that we trust in film and TV in these headsets.”
Some A-list directors have dabbled in the genre. In Cannes this year, Alejandro Inarritu premiered an experimental, highly emotional VR exhibit about the experience of a refugee crossing a border — but it played more like an art gallery installation piece than a mass-market movie.
And Kathryn Bigelow made an eight-minute VR film about ivory poachers in the Congo that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.
Neither of these projects is targeted to a mainstream audience, though, which may be one stumbling block for VR’s growth.
6. Early experiments are cool, but where’s the “Avatar” of VR?
Instead of fast-tracking a feature-length experience for a tentpole movie like “Transformers: The Last Knight,” Paramount plopped a five-minute shooter game based on that action sequel into the lobbies of AMC Theaters nationwide.
Sony offered a free release of its “Spider-Man: Homecoming” VR experience for home units like Sony’s own PlayStation VR and mobile gear like Samsung VR within weeks of the film’s theatrical release.
And at this year’s SXSW Conference, Universal had a hotly anticipated VR companion piece for Tom Cruise’s “The Mummy” that saw long lines around the Austin Convention Center. Viewers sat in vibrating, oscillating Positron chairs that matched an impressive zero-gravity airplane sequence — an experience that’s unlikely to be mass-produced anytime soon in theaters (or living rooms) nationwide.
These are all fine early efforts, but many feel they fall short of VR’s potential. “The idea is not to create marketing material,” Clint Kisker, whose Madison Wells Media has an exclusive pact with Sony to create VR experiences, told TheWrap. “The idea is how do you take what’s uniquely delightful about immersive experiences and make something with that.”
John Hamilton, a former film producer and distributor who founded the VR firm UNLTD, put it more succinctly: “We need hits. We need content people absolutely want to see.”
STXSurreal’s Rick Rey noted that Netflix was in a similar niche position before the streaming service stepped up with original series like “House of Cards” led to a $6 billion investment explosion in new content. “VR needs 10 ‘House of Cards,'” he joked.
Still, traditional studios may have an advantage over newer tech-world rivals like Facebook and Microsoft.
“At this point it’s about learning,” said Gigi Pritzker, whose MWM Reality One division produced Jon Favreau’s VR phenomenon “Gnomes & Goblins” in partnership with Wevr.
“Having known IP like a studio, like franchises, like larger films helps us to at least get a head start on others,” Pritzker said.
7. What if it’s only a fad?
Of course, Hollywood knows that the Next Big Thing doesn’t always turn out to be a savior in a challenging economic environment.
Less than a decade ago, studios doubled-down on 3-D movie production following the $2 billion blockbuster of James Cameron’s “Avatar.”
But while Hollywood produced a record 68 3-D releases last year, the MPAA reported an 8 percent drop in attendance to 3-D films.
Sharon Waxman contributed to this report.

Sprint Chairman Talking To Warren Buffett And John Malone About Deal: Report



Here’s the latest sign that the telecom business is headed for upheaval: Sprint’s Chairman Masayoshi Son is talking to Warren Buffett and Liberty Media’s John Malone about a deal that could funnel billions into the No. 4 wireless company, The Wall Street Journal reports.

News of the talks, taking place separately at this week’s Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, sent Sprint shares up more than 5% in afternoon trading.
The conversations are said to be “at an early stage.” But they could involve the sale of some of Son’s 80% stake in Sprint.

They also take place in a period — running to the end of July — when Sprint, Comcast, and Charter have agreed to negotiate exclusively on a possible collaboration involving the cable companies’ new and planned wireless phone offering.

The No. 1 and 2 cable operator might invest in Sprint as part of an agreement to also use its network to bolster their Wi-Fi focused mobile services. Sprint was talking with T-Mobile about a possible merger before it began negotiations with Comcast and Charter.
Malone is the largest investor in Charter. The company can’t act alone, though: It agreed with Comcast in May to “work only together with respect to national mobile network operators” for one year. 

They specified, in an SEC filing, that during that period they can’t make a major deal affecting their wireless businesses without each other’s “prior consent.” Malone might be bound by that agreement. But it probably would not apply to Buffett.

A Sprint deal to help Comcast and Charter’s wireless phone services might “facilitate” antitrust approval for a merger with T-Mobile, Evercore ISI’s Vijay Jayant said this week. It would “give regulators confidence that the consumer-facing impact of a combination would be muted.”

Why Hollywood's hip-hop stories are fatally flawed

The film industry is rushing to tell hip-hop’s greatest tales, but the music’s true voice has been muted as its icons simply burnish their own legacies
Defiant ones: Dr Dre and Jimmy IovineDefiant ones: Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Photograph: Allocca/StarPi/Rex/Shuttersto As hip-hop approaches middle age, it is becoming more attractive to Hollywood, which is making a miniature industry out of telling its stories. Last month saw the release of All Eyez On Me, a thin retelling of Tupac Shakur’s life and death, and this weekend in the US, HBO premiered The Defiant Ones, a look at the financially fruitful relationship between the record producers Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine. These efforts, along with 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, seek to reaffirm the glory days of their subjects rather than examine the real people behind the myths.

The loud, predominantly black, voice of hip-hop that shocked the American mainstream in the 70s and 80s is muted in these attempts at canonical retelling. These big screen and documentary projects, often pushed by their lead characters – Dr Dre and Ice Cube both produced Straight Outta Compton – act less as artistic statements than as ways to preserve those characters’ legacies. These aren’t films where tough questions can be asked; instead, historical accuracy is often sidelined so characters can compete with their oversized legends.
Jada Pinkett Smith, who was portrayed by Kat Graham in All Eyez On Me, sent a series of tweets that pointed out a number of factual inaccuracies about the way her relationship with Tupac was depicted in the film. Dispute over the historical record is bound to occur – director John Singleton also expressed misgivings about the film and left the project because of them – but the misrepresentation of women in these hip-hop films is a shameful through-line. The omission of Dr Dre’s assault on the hip-hop journalist Dee Barnes from Straight Outta Compton is possibly the most egregious example.
Before the release of the movie, Barnes wrote about it for Gawker, explaining that even if she didn’t want to see her abuse captured on film, the decision to skip over that moment left her “a casualty of Straight Outta Compton’s revisionist history”. The financial success of these films showed a demand for these stories, but that is undercut by the stories that are that are carefully sidestepped.
“[Snoop Dogg and Dre] reminded me of the [Rolling] Stones – they had that whole energy that the Stones had in the late 60s and early 70s, and I related to it like that,” said Iovine while promoting The Defiant Ones. The legacy these films strive to preserve isn’t of the struggle of black kids in the hoods that America ignored; they (the films) promote the machinery that gave these artists platforms to speak to millions of people and transform into demi-gods.
Outside of Hollywood, within hip-hop’s own community, there is no need for the deification of true icons. Last month, when Prodigy of the duo Mobb Deep died, there was a outpouring from all walks of the hip-hop world. Even if Mobb Deep weren’t crossover superstars, the grit and and range of their music spoke to generations of rappers and fans. Even Jay-Z, a rapper who has always stressed about his place in the rap canon, opened up a different side on his latest album, 4:44. The power of BeyoncĂ©’s Lemonade could be heard on the album as Jay-Z dealt with issues of cheating and marital strife. The chance to put across his side of the story, and in doing so, secure his legacy, seems a prime motivator behind the album.
“The best thing [hip-hop story retellings] can do is give context,” says Julian Kimble, who has written about rap culture for Complex and the Washington Post. “People like to look at things in retrospect and we forget what it was like in the moment if you weren’t there to see it.”
Over time, legacies shift, but people should question the historical record when related by people who profited at hip-hop’s beginning and continue to reap the rewards 20 years later. That self-serving work undermines the truth of their lives and the lives of those who aren’t given the same platform.
Now Rap’s major scenes will continue to be retold; hopefully, those stories can be produced without the input of those who have already gone platinum.

Google Slapped With $2.7 Billion Fine in Europe Over Online Searches


The massive fine is more than twice the previous EU record for an anti-competition ruling

Alphabet Inc. — the parent company of multifaceted tech giant Google — has been hit with a massive €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) fine by the European Union’s antitrust regulator for favoring its own shopping service over competitors in search results.
The penalty was more than double the previous record for an EU fine, when Intel was slapped with a €1.06 billion fine in 2009.
“Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief. “What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”
The EU looked into years of data before levying the fine, focusing on the company’s promotion of its shopping options above its competitors for user searches. Google — which has more than 90 percent of the search engine marketshare in Europe — was said to be abusing its power and dampening competition by pushing its shopping results ahead of its rivals.
Google now has 90 days to change how it presents search results or it’ll have to pay daily “penalty payments” of up to 5 percent of its daily worldwide income.
“When you use Google to search for products, we try to give you what you’re looking for,” said Google Senior Vice President Kent Walker in a statement following the ruling. “Our ability to do that well isn’t favoring ourselves, or any particular site or seller–it’s the result of hard work and constant innovation, based on user feedback.”
While the fine will put a strain on the already contentious relationship between Silicon Valley and the EU, other companies are applauding the decision.
“We applaud the European Commission’s leadership in confronting the discriminatory behavior of Google in the comparison shopping industry,” said a News Corp. in a statement on the ruling. “Other regulators and companies have been intimidated by Google’s overwhelming might, but the Commission has taken a strong stand and we hope that this is the first step in remedying Google’s shameless abuse of its dominance in search.”
After several complaints from competing businesses, the EU opened its investigation into Google’s practices in 2015. The anti-trust violation now opens Google up to battles on two fronts: companies affected by its search results can now bring them to court, and Vestager hinted the EU may check if Google used its power to illegally sway consumers in other ways.
“We have been looking into this, and today’s decision is a precedent, a precedent that can be used as a framework to analyse the legality of such conduct,” said Vestiger. “Today’s decision shows in Europe companies must compete on their merits, regardless of whether they operate online or on the high streets, regardless of whether they are European or not.”
The financial pain may not be over for Google, either — it’s facing two additional investigations from the EU into its AdSense and Android businesses.

Hulu has a secret weapon that could give it an advantage over Netflix


the handmaid's tale hulu The Handmaid's Tale, a Hulu original series based of the book by Margaret Atwood. Hulu
When streaming pioneer Netflix introduced the concept of bringing TV and movies online back in 2007, the world could little have known the revolution in viewing that would follow.
Streaming was originally reserved for the tech-savvy consumer with the right combination of bandwidth, computing equipment, and know-how. Some even had the chops to link their computer and TV and bring the experience into the living room.
Now a mere 10 years later, Netflix has been so successful with its worldwide streaming service it has invited competition from all quarters, including Prime Video from Amazon.com, and Hulu, which is owned by a consortium of the largest U.S. broadcast networks, which includes Walt Disney Company, Twenty-First Century Fox, Comcast, and Time Warner.
Netflix's growing library of original and exclusive content has resulted in over 100 million subscribers around the globe. This has also resulted in negative cash flow and high levels of debt, which has some investors concerned for the future. This is one area where Hulu may have an advantage.

"Ad"ditional revenue

Hulu subscribers have two options: Hulu Plus for $7.99 per month, and Hulu Plus No Commercials for $11.99 per month. The basic free service was discontinued last year. Note that Netflix has eschewed advertising in any form
Hulu currently has 15 million subscribers in the higher-paying, commercial-free tier and another 32 million who elect to watch advertising. 
The company has taken a different path from Amazon and Netflix, embracing its advertising model. Hulu has even partnered with Nielsen to gather data for digital ad ratings that measure viewership across a variety of streaming devices, in a service similar to Nielsen's signature TV ratings.
Much of Hulu's library has historically been broadcast television content, and the majority of its viewers are accustomed to the presence of advertising. Ad-free content, a la Netflix, is a fairly recent development, and though there might be an insurrection among customers if Netflix introduced ads, Hulu subscribers have no such concerns. 

Embracing its roots

stranger things Stranger things, a Netflix original series. Netflix
Its willingness to embrace its broadcast TV roots has provided Hulu with something of a safety net, with advertising as a secondary source of revenue, allowing the company to grow at a slower pace and providing additional funds for building out it library of content.
Even some early cable channels were based on popular regional broadcast stations, such as Time Warner properties TNT and TBS, which showed commercials in their cable channels.
Hulu clearly has bigger aspirations, though. It recently released its Hulu With Live TV for $39.99, though the service is still in beta.
It provides unlimited access to the company's streaming library, with limited commercial interruptions, plus an assortment of 50 live and on-demand TV channels that include sports, news, and other entertainment. The service can be viewed on Android and iOS devices, Xbox One, Chromecast, and fourth-generation Apple TV.
The inclusion of sports is telling. By combining live TV, its library of content, and sports, Hulu is positioning itself as an alternative to Netflix's movies and TV.

Different strokes for different folks

Considering Netflix's 100 million subscribers and growing, I don't think Hulu will be dethroning its competitor anytime soon, and there's plenty of room for overlap.
A recent eMarketer survey reported that in the first quarter of 2017, 54% of U.S. respondents had used Netflix, 27% watched Amazon Prime Video, 12% watched Hulu, 23% had used another service, and 34% didn't use any. Those add up to 151%, which tells me that some people subscribe to more than one provider.
Still with the phenomenon of cord cutting as a backdrop, it isn't hard to imagine that sports fans might choose Hulu as an alternative to cable, particularly at the lower price point. The advertising revenue provides the company with the means to pursue additional content, and that lets Hulu have a little something for everyone.