Kelly Hu To Star In Ninth House Feature ‘Breast Cancer Bucket List’

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March 1, 2021 1:13pm

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Kelly Hu at the Kollaboration STAR 2019 held at Fais Do Do in Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, ​December 7, 2019. (Photo By Sthanlee B. Mirador/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)
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EXCLUSIVE:  Kelly Hu will lead the feature film Breast Cancer Bucket List from producers Autumn Federici and Jake Helgren under their production banner, The Ninth House.

Roxy Shih, who recently directed Whose Child for Ninth House Films, will direct from a screenplay by Jessica Landry.

Patricia Velasquez, and Sylvia Kwan will join Hu.

The film follows Brenda Lee (Hu) who is diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Facing her own mortality, Brenda is determined to track down the daughter Talia Carroll (Kwan) she gave up for adoption as an infant. Brenda’s best friend, Meg (Velásquez) is by Brenda’s side every step of the way on her search to find Talia. Talia, having been afforded a privileged life by her adoptive parents, is initially hesitant to connect with the stranger who appears on her doorstep identifying herself as her biological mother, a moment Talia has been longing for her whole life. Talia decides to let Brenda into her life, and the mother/daughter duo embark on a journey to accomplish each and every thing on Brenda’s bucket list…no matter how wild.

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Hu starred as Lady Deathstrike in the X-Men franchise and The Sorceress in The Scorpion King opposite Dwayne Johnson. Her television credits include LA’s Finest, Arrow, The Orville, Warehouse 13, and Dietland. She can currently be seen starring in the Netflix feature, Finding ‘Ohana directed by Jude Weng.

Patricia Velasquez
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Velasquez is an award-winning actress, author and supermodel. Her film credits include The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and The Curse of La Llorona. Her television credits include Arrested Development, Rescue Me, The L Word, and Ugly Betty. She recently wrapped production on Free Dead or Alive/Malignant and Brut Force.

Kwan most recently starred as Mabel Tseng on Grey’s Anatomy. Her previous television credits include NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, and 90210.

Ninth House Films is a full service production company co-founded by Autumn Federici and Jake Helgren. Ninth House Film’s most recently produced Dashing in December which aired on The Paramount Network in December. They are currently in post production on Whose Child, a socially conscious film about domestic child abuse starring Anna Schafer.

Hu is repped by A3 Artists Agency, Mainstay Entertainment, and Meyer and Downs. Velásquez is repped by Untitled and Insurge, Kwan is repped by A3 Artists Agency, Marque Entertainment, and Defining Artists Agency. The Ninth House is repped by Bradley Garrett, Esq.

Berlin Review: Daniel Bruhl Makes Directing Debut With ‘Next Door’

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March 1, 2021 1:11pm

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Two fine actors volley for advantage across 90 minutes in the tastily insidious little melodrama Next Door (Nebenan). Stepping behind the camera for the first time while also remaining in front of it, Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds, Rush, Captain America: Civil War) shows a sure grip on this mostly two-handed bar room encounter between an international film star (played by Bruhl himself) and a portly older fellow (Babylon Berlin’s Peter Kurth in a terrific turn) who knows far too much about the actor’s private life for comfort. This sharp-minded and engrossing drama of wits and secrets succeeds both in keeping the audience keen to know what’s really going on here and achieving lift-off for Bruhl’s directorial career if he seeks one.

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A smart, crowd-pleasing choice (albeit remotely) for the 2021 Berlin Film Festival competition, this is an unusual film in that you’d swear was originally written as a play; at least 80% of the action is set during the day in a sparsely populated café/bar in the former East Berlin, now significantly renovated and gentrified. But best-selling author Daniel Kehlmann wrote it as an original screenplay and it gives his actors plenty to play with.

“You crawled out of darkness,” Daniel repeats again and again during his morning shower, and it’s shortly clear that he’s a successful actor who’s running lines for a big audition in London that afternoon. He lives in an expensively trendy apartment with his wife and two kids and won’t be away long.

Stopping at the corner Zur Brust for a coffee before catching a taxi to the airport, the carefully coiffed and accoutered Daniel is chatted up by a formidable fellow already quaffing beer at this hour. This is Bruno (Kurth), who quickly irks the young celebrity by telling him he was bad in his latest film. Not only that, but the impertinent gent knows the actor’s entire filmography and is critical of everything, albeit in an amiable way. The older man’s spirits can’t be helped when a couple of flirtatious young ladies pop in briefly to basically say “any time” to the dashing actor.

He probably hears that all the time, but it’s safe to say that he rarely, if ever, is assaulted with the sort of curiously well-informed criticism that Bruno spews with no provocation whatsoever. The man is neither drunk nor belligerent, just bruisingly direct and frighteningly well informed.

Just when you think Daniel should cut this encounter short and take his business elsewhere, Bruno takes things to another level by telling him they live in the same building. The nuances here will mean much more to Berliners than to outsiders, but the building in question is an old one in which some of the living spaces, notably Daniel’s, have been upgraded into very pricey condos, while Bruno still lives in one of the small basic units from East Berlin days. He then informs the younger man that he was in Hohenschoenhausen, the notorious Stasi prison in East Germany, and not as a prisoner; he was a guard.

It begins to appear that Bruno knows far too much about Daniel for comfort, and more than once the younger man makes a break for it while there might still be time to get to the airport. But Bruno knows just how far he has to throw out the line in order to reel the younger man back in to unfurl further revelations and cast doubt on the fundamental assumptions of Daniel’s life.

Essential to making a story like this work is the allure of having an antagonist so coolly sharp and smooth, who knows just how to stick it in, then twist. At first glance, Bruno, a working-class sort of no particular distinction, would seem an unlikely candidate for a charismatic disruptor, but Kurth magnificently modulates the pitch of his relentless assaults on the younger man’s character, behavior and honesty. The more Bruno speaks, the clearer it becomes that he knows where all of Daniel’s bodies are buried, so to speak. After this relatively brief encounter, it’s evident that the younger man’s life will never be quite the same again. Physically, this commanding figure comes across as a combination of Burl Ives and Ned Beatty, but in the way he insinuatingly speaks, this Bruno could be a first cousin to another unforgettable Bruno, Robert Walker’s villain in Strangers On A Train.

Bruhl has to take a back seat to Kurth in the acting department here, but he keeps all the burners firing as a director, resulting in an engaging entertainment that pokes a few well-earned holes in the floors of the rich and privileged who live right above them.

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Sissy Spacek & Ed O’Neill To Star In ‘Lightyears’ Amazon Sci-Fi Drama Series

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March 1, 2021 1:00pm

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Oscar winner Sissy Spacek and three-time Emmy-nominated Modern Family star Ed O’Neill are set as the leads in Amazon’s sci-fi drama Lightyears, from writer Holden Miller and producer Daniel C. Connolly. Argentinian director Juan José Campanella will direct and executive produce the first two episodes of the series, a co-production of Amazon Studios and Legendary Television. It’s scheduled to begin filming later this year.

This marks O’Neill’s return to TV following the end of Modern Family’s 11-season run last spring.

Written by Miller, Lightyears follows Franklin and Irene York, played by O’Neill and Spacek, a couple who years ago discovered a chamber buried in their backyard which inexplicably leads to a strange, deserted planet. They’ve carefully guarded their secret ever since, but when an enigmatic young man enters their lives, the Yorks’ quiet existence is quickly upended…and the mysterious chamber they thought they knew so well turns out to be much more than they could ever have imagined.

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Spacek’s Irene is a retired English teacher with a thoughtful, magnetic presence. As her health fades, Irene’s life with her husband Franklin increasingly revolves around visits to the chamber. For decades they’ve kept the chamber a secret, with Irene obsessing about the deeper meaning of their discovery.

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O’Neill’s Franklin is a former woodworker with a charmingly grumpy demeanor. After more than 50 years of marriage, Franklin still has a powerful devotion to his wife but doesn’t share her fascination with the chamber, a secret which weighs heavily on him. For her sake, he is willing to endure its presence in their lives, but his patience is wearing thin.

Spacek, who won an Oscar for her performance as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter, most recently appeared on the big screen in The Old Man and the Gun and on television in recurring roles on Showtime’s Homeland and Stephen King/J.J. Abrams’ Hulu series Castle Rock. Spacek is repped by MGMT Entertainment and UTA.

While he is best known for the two comedy series he starred in, Married… with Children and Modern Family, O’Neill has done extensive dramatic work on TV in such series as John From Cincinnati, The West Wing, Dragnet and Big Apple. O’Neill earned three Emmy nominations for his most recent TV role as patriarch Jay Pritchett on the long-running ABC comedy series Modern Family. He most recently was seen in indie feature The Last Shift, for Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa opposite Richard Jenkins, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. He is repped by Gersh and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

Crystal Reed, Tahirah Sharif To Star In ‘Dead Giveaway’; Terry Moore, Mitchell Hoog, Willam Belli Join ‘Things Like This’; Tim Griffin Cast In ‘The Seven Neighbours’ – Film Briefs

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March 1, 2021 12:46pm

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Crystal Reed, Tahirah Sharif
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Crystal Reed (Gotham, Swamp Thing) and Tahirah Sharif (The Haunting of Bly Manor, Escape The Field) have signed on to star in Dead Giveaway, an indie comedy-thriller that is being directed by Ian Kimble.

The pic, which was written by Kimble, follows Lia (Reed) and Jill (Sharif). Jill is a hard-partying Philadelphian. This has resulted in some epic nights and legendary stories. What she never expected is waking up next to a stranger who has been brutally stabbed to death in her own bed. On this particular Sunday, that is exactly what she wakes up to. She and Lia spend their day trying to solve the mystery of the cadaver in Jill’s bed and still make it to brunch in time for mimosas.

Suzann Toni and Andrew Vogel of Dynasty Pictures will produce the indie, which will film in Philadelphia, PA.

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Reed is repped by ICM Partners and Silver Lining Entertainment. Sharif is repped by Identity Agency Group and Mosaic

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AP; Mega

Oscar nominee Terry Moore (Come Back, Little Sheba ), Mitchell Hoog (Saved by the Bell reboot), and Willam Belli (A Star is Born) have joined the ensemble cast of Things Like This, a GenZ/millennial gay romantic comedy from writer and director Max Talisman.

Talisman also stars in the film, which explores the question about what happens when you fall in love in a big city and suddenly you experience misunderstandings, a reckoning with destiny and all the turmoil that arises in relationships.

Additional cast includes Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Michael D. Cohen, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Charlie Tahan, Eric Roberts, Dyan Cannon, Santwon McCray, Krista Allen, Miles Tagtmeyer, Margaret Berkowitz, Matt Cullen, Santwon McCray, Jade Weber, Danny Chavarriaga, Maya Henry, Jake Reiner, and Romy Reiner.

Buzz Koenig of Opposite Field Pictures is producing the pic with Brian McCulley and Mitchell Hoog of The Collective and Andrew Burrill are producing. Production is slated to begin in Spring 2021.

***

Actor Tim Griffin (Bourne Supremacy, American Sniper) is set to star in The Seven Neighbours, an indie crime thriller that centers around homicide detective Henry Weston, who is trying to solve a murder that takes place in an apartment building where the killer is still inside due to the lockdown. The film is written and directed by Anton Kudrov and produced by Bo Youngblood and John Ierardi of Showdown Production. Production is currently underway in Los Angeles. Griffin is repped by Buchwald.

 

 

San Diego Comic-Con Goes Virtual For 2021; In-Person November Event In The Works

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March 1, 2021 12:41pm

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San Diego Comic-Con is, once again, staying home this year.

Like 2020, the comic book/sci-fi/horror/genre confab will take place virtually July 23-25. However, if you are itching for some in-person cosplay and comic-friendly festivities, SDCC has decided to plan a three-day in-person convention in San Diego during November.

“We have made the challenging decision to postpone Comic-Con 2021 as an in-person gathering until our 2022 dates, and once again hold this year’s celebration as the free online Comic-Con@Home,” said a message on the official Comic-Con wesbsite. “We will return to the San Diego Convention Center July 20-24, 2022.”

Like many huge events, SDCC was canceled because of Covid and shifted for the first Comic-Con@Home. Organizers also had to cancel the 2021 edition of WonderCon in Anaheim. However, WonderCon@Home will take place for free online March 26 and 27.

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An official statement from SDCC said: “While we are buoyed by the rollout of the vaccine and the growing number of individuals being inoculated, it appears that July will still be too early to safely hold an in-person event of the magnitude of Comic-Con. For this reason, we have made the challenging decision to postpone Comic-Con 2021 as an in-person gathering until our 2022 dates, and once again hold this year’s celebration as the free online Comic-Con@Home.”

The added, “While we lament the postponement of the in-person Comic-Con, our commitment to this community of fans and our celebration of comics and the related popular arts endures as an important part of who we are.” They announced that they are currently planning an in-person November event with dates TBD.

For those who purchased badges that were rolled over to the 2021 show, their badges will automatically transferred to the 2022 event unless a refund is requested.

Read the full statement below.

Berlin Review: ‘Ted K’ Delves Into World Of The Unabomber

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March 1, 2021 12:33pm

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Director Tony Stone delves into the world of “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski in Ted K, premiering in the Panorama strand of the Berlin Film Festival. More of a mood piece than a biopic, it stars an understated Sharlto Copley as the former math professor, who’s living off grid in the Montana mountains, fostering a burgeoning grudge against technology. We drop in on him over the decades as he gathers materials to experiment with bombs, targeting people he believes are harming the environment. We watch him write coded rants against industrialization, and about the invasive noise of airplanes.

Sound is key to communicating Ted’s point of view. In the wilderness, we hear the ripple of a stream, the crackle of a fire, the clank of his spoon on a tin — he is alone and uninterrupted. When an airplane flies over, he’s visibly distressed. When he takes a trip into the city, the voiceover (based on his writings) becomes almost inaudible under the noise of traffic. Classical music seems to be used when he’s feeling more satisfied; electronic intrudes when trouble is afoot. It strikes you that this would sound amazing in a movie theater, but this is 2021, and last we heard even Stone hadn’t watched his feature in one.

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On the small screen, it’s a quietly involving watch that gives an insight into Kaczynski’s troubled mind with an atmospheric intensity; but with less information than a traditional feature or documentary. There are rewards in decoding the behavior of this elusive character, but the same points are repeated: basically, he is a socially awkward, paranoid, lone conspiracist. These traits are best established in one-sided phone conversations in a remote, creaky phone booth. In an early conversation with his mother, Ted is clearly berated for his lack of social skills. Ted blames her for putting him ahead two years at high school, and for his resulting lack of sexual experience (“Well, who do you want me to tell? Who should I tell this to, Ma?”). At this point, the camera starts whirling around the phone booth — it’s giddying, almost nauseating, creating a sense of the discomfort Ted experiences when speaking to others.

Like several movie ‘incels’ before him — most recently Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker — Ted retreats into a fantasy world when it comes to women. Becky (a well-cast Amber Rose Mason) is his occasional imaginary companion, tellingly dressed in fashions from the 50s, a simpler time. When he speaks to real people, he’s rude and often sexist (“I don’t take direction from women on mechanical matters,” he tells a female boss). But this takes an even-handed approach to the character, showing his actions and thoughts rather than inviting us to judge him. Like Ted, we don’t see the damage he inflicts first hand: we hear about it on the news.

Authenticity is clearly paramount to the filmmakers, who painstakingly recreated Kaczynski’s cabin in its original location. But while this succeeds in putting us into Ted’s physical world — claustrophobic even in the wild — it doesn’t give a deep insight into his mind. Perhaps that is the point, but it makes Ted K more impressive for its use of sound and vision than its investigation of a character.

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Media Stocks Lead Market Surge On Stimulus, Reopening, Streaming; AMC Entertainment, Discovery, Live Nation Pop

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March 1, 2021 12:19pm

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Showbiz shares sparkled Monday, starting off March with a major market rally around reopening, another vaccine rollout, a stimulus bill and a combo of upbeat earnings and streaming forecasts.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, the nation’s third, will ship this week and the possibility of $1.9 trillion flowing into the U.S. economy looks increasingly likely after the House passed a Covid-19 relief bill over the weekend and sent it on to the Senate.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 700 points, or nearly 2.3%, and other indexes jumped too with about 95% of all stocks higher today and entertainment a standout from exhibition to TV to live events.

AMC Entertainment shares gained 14% with New York City set to reopen theaters Friday after a year dark. The volatile stock is benefitting in part from renewed love on Reddit, where investors have been tipping back into select shares led by GameStop. Other exhibitors saw bumps from Cinemark (up 7%) to Imax and Marcus (up 3%).

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Live Nation shares rose nearly 5%. CEO Michael Rapino said Friday during an earnings call — citing conversations with state governors — that “a clear outline” has emerged for a 75%- to 100%-capacity reopening for outdoor U.S. events this year. The giant venue operator also sold out tickets to two large UK festivals in August (Reading & Leeds and Creamfields) after the British government said large music events could resume at 100% capacity on June 21.

Classic media and entertainment stocks are also buoyant and it may be time to note an ongoing mood shift around companies as they make strides in streaming. Many have also posted better than expected quarterly results in advertising and other metrics after the horrific impact of Covid-19. “But the real catalyst has been the quarterly reporting of OTT subscribers,” said MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson in a recent report.

Despite a glut of new OTT services, Wall Street appears willing to consider each on the merits, though not assuming by any means that they’ll all survive on their own longer term given the challenging economics. Investors are certainly applauding Discovery after CEO David Zaslav announced 7 million new Discovery+ streaming subscribers since its December launch. The service also had a great writeup today by New York Times media columnist Ben Smith. It’s up nearly 10%.

AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan also impressed the Street on Friday, beating earnings estimates, disclosing over 6 million year-end streaming subscribers and anticipating 20 million-25 million in 2025. Shares are up more than 6%. There’s been some upside confusion between AMC Networks and AMC Entertainment, Nathanson and others noted, but there’s also some genuine enthusiasm. AMC shares had already surged since its last quarterly report in November, Nathanson noted.

He thinks AMC Nets and others have Disney to thank.

“After a massive re-rating of growth equities and Covid winners, this stock [AMC Networks] — and many of their media peers — had been left for dead. Then, in December, after another successful investor day in which Disney laid out its DTC ambitions, the market’s complete shift to sum-of-the-parts valuation methodology at Disney opened the door for investors to try this approach on other companies,” Nathanson wrote.

Nathanson said a “massive re-rating” in Roku has also helped valuations. He called Roku stock “essentially a play on AVOD and the long tail of SVOD players trying to money in the space.” It’s up nearly 5% on Monday with a market cap of $52 billion. “If it’s worth that much, what are Pluto, Tubi and Peacock worth?” he asks.

Also today, shares of Pluto parent ViacomCBS are up 5% with Paramount+ launching this week. Tubi owner Fox is up 5%. Lionsgate, expanding in streaming with Starz, is up about 7%.

Fubo is up 7% as it prepares to report earnings Tuesday.

It didn’t hurt Monday’s markets that Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, the 90-year-old known as the Oracle of Omaha, urged over the weekend in his closely studied annual shareholders letter “never bet against America.”

Golden Globes Ratings Looking Like All-Time Low For NBC In Early Numbers

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March 1, 2021 12:10pm

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Winners notwithstanding, the obvious shortcomings of the 78th annual Golden Globes on-screen Sunday night were reflected in the ratings for the NBC-broadcast ceremony.

Although the Comcast-owned network doesn’t plan to release final numbers from Nielsen until Tuesday, semi-adjusted fast nationals reveal that the bicoastal show hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler took a hit from last year. And we don’t just mean the worthy whack the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has been taking from some of Hollywood’s heaviest hitters over the 87-member group’s lack of Black members.

Coming in with a 1.2 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic and about 5.4 million viewers, the 2021 Globes telecast fell about 60% in both categories from the partially adjusted fast national numbers snared last year by the Ricky Gervais-fronted awards show.

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The 2020 results rose to 18.3 million viewers and a 4.7 rating in 18-49s in the final Live+Same Day Nielsen numbers special ordered by NBC – numbers that are almost certainly well out of reach of Sunday’s show, adjusted numbers or not.

In their fourth time as co-hosts, SNL alums and chums Fey and Poehler certainly saw their three-hour 2021 appearance drop hard from their previous tour of HFPA duty in the olden times of 2015. That co-host spell of the Obama era was a downturn of 11% in the key demo from Fey and Poehler’s second run MCing the often boozy and loose affair in 2014.

Now, even as these early numbers have all the metrics of an all-time NBC low, let’s be honest, all of these comparisons are a bit apples to avalanches. As with almost everything in Hollywood and the wider world, the pandemic has played havoc with the calendar and the format. Absent much of the atmosphere that gives the Globes its appeal, last night’s glitchy and semi-virtual ceremony also aired nearly two months later than the 2020 show. So, no NFL lead-in and little holiday-season spillover, as but two differences. Additionally, like with the viewership low of the 2020 Emmys, we have seen the Nielsen results of a number of coronavirus-impacted awards shows and other big-ticket events shrink over the past year.

On the flip side, streaming numbers for such events have been on a steady-ish rise, reflective of the way TV is consumed nowadays.

What that will all add up to for NBC when its finally releases cumulative Globes results Tuesday we will have to see – and we will update when those numbers arrive. But, with CBS looking like the Sunday winner right now, if you want to make a bet …

Speaking of the ViacomCBS-owned net, CBS had a total primetime viewership of 6.5 million on Sunday. On a night of new offerings from The Equalizer (7.5 million viewers), NCIS: LA (5.7 million viewers) and NCIS: New Orleans (4.9 million viewers), the winner overall was 7 p.m.’s 60 Minutes with an audience of 7.9 million.

Ariana Greenblatt Joins Eli Roth’s ‘Borderlands’ Movie

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March 1, 2021 12:00pm

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Ariana Greenblatt, whose growing list of credits include The One and Only Ivan, Love and Monsters and Avengers: Infinity War as young Gamora, has been set to play Tiny Tina in Borderlands. The pic, directed by Eli Roth and based on the bestselling Gearbox Software video game, set on Greenblatt after a worldwide casting search.

The former Stuck in the Middle star now joins ate Blanchett, Kevin Hart, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jack Black in the pic, which is set in the distant future when four “Vault Hunters” travel to the distant planet of Pandora to hunt down an alien vault rumored to contain advanced alien technology. Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) wrote the most recent draft of the screenplay.

In the video games, Tiny Tina is a teenage explosive experts who is seeking revenge on the man who sold her parents as test subjects to the evil Hyperion company. Blanchett plays Lilith, Hart is Roland, Curtis is Tannis and Black plays Claptrap, a robot.

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“Ariana is a spectacular new talent in cinema,” Roth said Monday in a statement. “She has already worked with many of my close collaborators and everyone raves about her. She blew us all away in her audition, and I cannot wait to see her bring the wild, insane and unpredictable Tiny Tina to the big screen. She’s going to blow up on screen like one of Tina’s grenades.”

Avi Arad and Ari Arad are producing through their Arad Productions banner, with Erik Feig producing through Picturestart. Randy Pitchford and Take-Two Interactive boss Strauss Zelnick are executive producers. James Myers and Aaron Edmonds are overseeing the project on behalf of Lionsgate, Emmy Yu is overseeing for Arad Productions, and Lucy Kitada and Royce Reeves-Darby are overseeing for Picturestart.

Greenblatt has been on the rise, also recently voicing a role in Warner Bros’ Scoob! and appearing in STXfilms’ A Bad Moms Christmas. Upcoming, she’s starring opposite Gina Rodriguez in Netflix’s Awake, appearing In the Heights and DreamWorks’ The Boss Baby: Family Business. She also just wrapped 65, Sony’s Sam Raimi-produced sci-fi thriller starring Adam Driver.

She is repped by Paradigm, Mosaic and Schreck Rose Dapello.

‘Mank’ Makeup And Hair Designers Talk Recreating “Magical Period In Filmdom” & Grappling With The “Vernacular” Of David Fincher

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March 1, 2021 12:00pm

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When makeup and hair designers Gigi Williams and Kimberly Spiteri were approached for Mank, they jumped at the chance to craft looks for an Old Hollywood drama, set in an era they both loved.

“Hollywood in the ’30s and ’40s was something that we’ll never get to see again. That whole studio system, it’ll never be like that again,” Spiteri says. “So it’s a chance to get a glimpse at what it was like, which I find fascinating.”

Directed by David Fincher, the drama is both a love letter to, and a critique of, Hollywood’s Golden Age, following alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), as he finishes the script for Citizen Kane.

It’s on projects like this, Spiteri says, that “what the hair and makeup department does as a craft matters. Whether you’re trying to emulate a character or just get the period right, you may not notice if it’s right. But you’re going to notice if it’s wrong.”

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Mank makeup and hair designers Gigi Williams and Kimberly Spiteri
Courtesy of Gigi Williams and Kimberly Spiteri

Certainly, in the case of Mank, every effort was made to make sure that the work was right, though period accuracy was not the only concern. Because the film would be shot in black and white, both Williams and Spiteri had to engage in a lengthy series of camera tests, to make sure that their designs would translate properly, and that Fincher would be satisfied with the looks conceived for every actor.

In years past, Williams had collaborated with Fincher on the 2014 film Gone Girl, as well as the Netflix series Mindhunter, climbing the rungs between those two projects from assistant makeup department head, to the head of her department. Spiteri, though, had never before worked with the revered auteur, so it would take some time to come to grips with his famously particular working style.

Below, the designers reflect on the joys and challenges of tapping into a “magical period in filmdom” for Mank. Additionally, they touch on the idiosyncrasies of Fincher’s “vernacular” as a filmmaker, with regard to makeup and hair, and the way in which Williams guided Spiteri through her first encounter with the filmmaker.

DEADLINE: Kimberly, how did you get involved with Mank?

KIMBERLY SPITERI: It’s Gigi’s fault that I got dragged into it. [Laughs] No. I mean, it’s not her fault. I’m very thankful and grateful.

GIGI WILLIAMS: Kimberly, you gave a great interview, and you lived up to everything in the interview. Your work was impeccable, it was fast, it was under a lot of duress, and not enough help. I mean, it was not an easy project. Every single person had a wig, and nobody understood that every one of those wigs had to be set, combed out, pinned on. So, I’m really glad that you gave such a good interview.

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SPITERI: Gigi has worked with David for a long time, so she knows David, gets David and they have a great relationship. So, Gigi was David’s voice for me, actually, to begin with. She knew his vernacular, what he was looking for, and it helped me to understand because it’s not the typical scenario. Working with David was incredibly amazing, but it was probably one of the most different [projects], in the relationship with the director, that I’ve ever experienced.

DEADLINE: Can you elaborate on that? What exactly made the experience so different?

SPITERI: Gosh, how do I put this? Because I think he’s brilliant…

WILLIAMS: David has a reputation for hating hair, period. If he could have everybody in a movie be bald, like he did in Alien 3, where he paid a lot of money to have Sigourney Weaver shave her head, he would do that. He hates hair. He has a fear of it, a loathing of it, so it’s difficult to understand that and give him what he wants. You have to know how to approach that because he wants it to be perfect, he wants it to be shiny. He doesn’t want it to stand out, but it has to be perfect. And it’s hair. So, hair moves.

DEADLINE: What did your prep look like, leading up to the shoot? I imagine you dug into a lot of historical research.

WILLIAMS: I spent a tremendous amount of time in books on film, looking at the characters, because almost every character in the movie is supposed to be a real person. So, we had a lot of visuals to draw on, and that was fun.

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It was interesting because as I went through my house, looking at my reference books on makeup, I found that I had like six feet of books from this period, and I didn’t realize it. My son said, “Mom, you’ve been jonesing for a black-and-white Hollywood movie of the ‘30s and ‘40s since I was born.” And he’s 30. [Laughs] It’s this magical period in filmdom where it was all glamour, stylized, what we would call “smart.”

So you look at these books, you know who the characters are, we lay them all out on the counter, and then between Kim and I, we decide what we can do with the actor that we’re given to make him look like that.

DEADLINE: In pre-production, you also participated in a number of camera tests. What can you tell us about your experience there?

WILLIAMS: We did a lot of tests with David and the actors, trying to get everything right, especially [given] the medium he was using and the filters he was using. We spent a lot of time with Erik Messerschmidt, the DP, and the DIT guys, who are in charge of saturation, et cetera. We would set up a camera maybe once or twice a week and just bring in what we wanted to test. Then, later that day, or the next day, we were able to go into the editing bay and look at every single frame, and everybody had a voice in it. “It’s not shiny enough,” or “It’s too shiny. It’s too dense. It’s too dark, too light. It’s reflecting too much.” So, it was a group project.

DEADLINE: How long did that process go on for?

SPITERI: A couple of weeks, in terms of us going through colors, and putting things together to test. We didn’t have access to the actors at the [start], so we had a ton of wigs, and Gigi had color boards, and we’d stick them in front of the camera. That’s where David has little patience, and then has a ton of patience, because he wanted it right. He had a certain vision in his head, whether he could articulate that personally or not, so it was me trying to read just the slightest thing—something in his voice, a tone, whether he would get excited about how something looked on the monitor. I had to learn his vernacular because not everybody speaks the same language, when it’s about color, and makeup, and depth, and what it is that someone’s really trying to say.

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So, it was a huge learning process, as well as the whole black-and-white thing. It wasn’t just desaturating or taking the color away. It was actually shooting in black and white, trying to find things that worked, and showed, and didn’t show too much, or too little.

DEADLINE: Gigi, I’m sure you had to retrain your eyes, as well, for the medium you were working in, because what the camera would pick up was entirely different from what you saw on set. How did shooting in black and white influence your choice of color in makeup? I’ve heard that one shade of lipstick you ended up using was a dark black.

WILLIAMS: Well, it was really dark red, and that was really interesting because as we went through all the colors that we liked, having worked with David before, he hates red. He hates red on the set, he hates it in the clothes, he hates it on the lips. The only colors you had in that period in lipsticks were variations on red and a reddish pink, so your natural inclination is to stay away from anything too red, too vibrant, too in your face.

We had some of those, but then we got everyone together and I gave the lipsticks to everybody. Sometimes we had nine, 10 makeup and hair people working because we had so many people in the scene, and we’d go out and look at everyone, and all of a sudden we’d go, “Oh my god, they all have the same color lips!” Because everyone’s gravitated to the same one.

It took me, personally, a long time to come around to the very darkest red because I was so afraid of it. It took me a while to train my eye to, “That isn’t goth. That is that year.”

DEADLINE: Kimberly, how was your work affected?

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SPITERI: It was lot of the same things. Take Amanda [Seyfried], for instance. You’d look at a photo and say, “Oh, okay. [Marion Davies] was a platinum blonde.” But if you were to put that shade exactly of a platinum blonde on, what would happen was, it would disappear, or it would look like it was floating off of her head. Then, some blondes, like William Randolph Hearst, [had] sandy blonde hair. Well, if we took a normal sandy blonde, it looked like mud, like wet sand.

So, we had to do things that you wouldn’t normally think of. Just putting on a platinum blonde wig in color would be great. But for black and white, it couldn’t be too light, couldn’t be too dark. We had to put a little bit of darkness in at her root so it would have a depth, but enough lightness that it wouldn’t look like this solid mass, which would happen with different shades.

With Gary, we wanted to give him a younger look with a subtle difference [compared to his look in another timeline], so we had slight differences in gray. We didn’t want it to be so shocking that it was in your face, and we had to test out different grays to [see] what worked on camera.

DEADLINE: I’d also heard, Gigi, that you gave your male cast members dark circles under the eyes, which helped you to get at the period look Fincher wanted.

WILLIAMS: Well, my signature in most of my films is guys with dark circles under their eyes. I love dark circles. I think they’re sexy; I think they’re real; I think they lend an authenticity to the look. I like to use ‘guyliner,’ but David said I definitely couldn’t use guyliner, so it ended up being eyeshadow, really.

I think it’s very funny. Charles Dance really had a hard time with his “cadaver look,” because that’s how I describe it. All the pictures of William Randolph Hearst, he looks like a cadaver. He’s got these sunken-in eyes that cast a shadow, like zombie eyes, so I did that in a 30-minute test, and he’s sitting there going, “Gigi, don’t you think that’s a bit much?” And I was like, “No, no. It’s good!”

DEADLINE: Could you both describe some predominant looks of the ’30s and ’40s that you recreated for Mank?

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WILLIAMS: If you look at old movies, all the men back then had very pronounced eyebrows, so we darkened and made thicker almost everyone’s eyebrows. Then, there’s a smokiness to their eye. I put mascara on every man. I’ve never done that in my life, but I had to pull out their eyes. Because otherwise, everything just sort of went away. So, it was mascara, eyebrows, a gel that really puffed them out. We did a lot of plucking and stylizing and grooming their eyebrows, and then eyeshadow around.

For the women, it’s totally different, of course. In the 1920s and early ’30s, the eyebrows were really, really thin. David absolutely did not want really, really thin eyebrows, so we had to figure out a way of giving you the impression that they had really thin eyebrows by the shape you gave it, but not have it be so severe.

SPITERI: In terms of styling with the women, that’s all old school—what’s called wet setting pin curls. We had printed wave patterns all over, to give you certain styles. If I’m researching a period, I’ll go back and figure out what it was that they used then, and attempt to do it that way, to give that authentic feel and look. Men in the ’30s, it was Byrlcreems, and waxes, and barber cuts. A lot of what’s popular right now is what was in style then, so you have to be careful [about]…not making them look too modern. You need to find the fine line, and that’s usually with a part, or a little different product than what might be used now. So, I will research products of that time, and believe it or not, you can find them.

DEADLINE: When you look back at the film now, what are you most proud of?

SPITERI: I’m just honored and thrilled for everyone that Mank has been received so well. I think from the top down, it took a labor of love, and everyone gave it their all. For me, it was just an amazing process to watch David, to watch the actors. It was a lot of fun.

WILLIAMS: Working with David is like working with this incredible artist that you don’t always feel while you’re working. While you’re working with him, it’s technician stuff, but once we get to a certain point in the editing, you start seeing the real artist come out, because he looks at it and figures out what he needs to do, in order to take it one step further.

You look at this project and first of all, it’s a cap in my career because it’s just the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m just beyond proud of it because I’ve watched it six or seven times at this point, and every time I watch it, it gets better, and fuller, and more magical.

Constance Wu Joins Chris Pratt In ‘The Terminal List’ Amazon Conspiracy Thriller Series

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March 1, 2021 12:00pm

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Fresh Off the Boat star Constance Wu is returning to series television as the female lead opposite Chris Pratt in Amazon’s conspiracy-thriller series The Terminal List, based on Jack Carr’s bestselling novel.

Pratt also executive produces the series along with Antoine Fuqua, who directs, and writer David DiGilio. The Terminal List is a co-production from Amazon Studios and Civic Center Media in association with MRC Television. Taylor Kitsch also stars.

Written by DiGilio, who also serves as showrunner, The Terminal List follows James Reece (Pratt) after his entire platoon of Navy SEALs is ambushed during a high-stakes covert mission. Reece returns home to his family with conflicting memories of the event and questions about his culpability. However, as new evidence comes to light, Reece discovers dark forces working against him, endangering not only his life but the lives of those he loves.

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Wu will play Katie Buranek, a risk-seeking war correspondent who uses her byline to speak truth to power. Katie left her desk at a prestigious news outlet to pursue high-impact stories on her own terms. Now at a crossroads in her career, she finds an unlikely ally in rogue Navy SEAL James Reece. She seeks to re-enter the mainstream by bringing the truth about Reece and the conspiracy he’s fighting against to light.

Carr also serves as an executive producer along with Pratt and Jon Schumacher through Indivisible Productions, Fuqua through Fuqua Films (The Equalizer, Training Day) and writer Daniel Shattuck. DiGilio will write, showrun and executive produce.

Wu, known for her starring roles in box office hits Crazy Rich Asians and Hustlers, is coming off her six-season run as Jessica Huang in Fresh Off the Boat. She’ll next be seen in Amazon anthology series Solos, alongside Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Uzo Aduba, Nicole Beharie, Anthony Mackie and Dan Stevens. She also is developing an adaptation of the novel Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong, in which she will star and executive produce with Dylan Clarke Productions.

Wu is repped by UTA, Principal Entertainment and Hansen Jacobson.

‘People (The TV Show!)’ Adds Julie Moran As Atlanta-Based Special Contributor

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March 1, 2021 12:00pm

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EXCLUSIVE: Journalist and former Entertainment Tonight co-host Julie Moran will join People (the TV Show!) as its Atlanta-based Special Contributor. She joins fellow Los Angeles and New York special contributors Nancy O’Dell and Gretchen Carlson, respectively .

The series, which also touts Kay Adams and Lawrence K. Jackson as co-hosts,  is a half-hour daily TV show inspired by the brand’s unique combination of the most popular celebrity and inspirational human-interest stories including entertainment news, exclusive interviews, feature stories, beauty and style, true crime, and more.

Moran’s two-part Reagan set visit with Dennis Quaid and Penelope Ann Miller will air Monday and Tuesday night. Moran speaks with the Merry Happy Whatever actor about the political biopic and finding his own Nancy Reagan. On Thursday, Moran will reunite with Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, where they will discuss their feuds on the court and today’s NBA stars.

In 1992 Moran became the first solo female host for ABC’s Wide World of Sports. From 1994 to 2001 Moran served as the weekend anchor and co-host for Entertainment Tonight. She launched her Empower Midlife with Julie Moran podcast in 2019.

“We are thrilled to have Julie on the PEOPLE team,” said executive producer and showrunner Rob Silverstein. “Her connections in the entertainment field are wide ranging and we look forward to tapping into that to bring our viewers the type of exclusive interviews only PEOPLE can deliver daily.”

People (the TV Show!) premiered on Sept. 14 and airs Monday through Friday in all 12 Meredith markets including Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis, Portland, Nashville, Kansas City, Hartford-New Haven, Greenville-Spartanburg, Las Vegas, Mobile-Pensacola, Flint-Saginaw, and Springfield-Holyoke, MA.

‘Tom & Jerry’ Pounces On $33M WW Weekend In Expanded Rollout; China’s New Year Pics Still Dominant As February Sets $1.9B Record – International Box Office

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February 28, 2021 12:21pm

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‘Tom & Jerry’
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Refresh for latest…: Warner Bros’ hybrid live-action/animated feature Tom & Jerry began offshore rollout in mid-February, and this session became the first studio title to hit China in the wake of the Lunar New Year, as well as adding a host of other new markets. The Hanna-Barbera rascals scampered off with a further $19.4M from 33 markets at the international box office in the session, which made for a global $33.1M weekend including domestic‘s strong start. The full frame gives T&J the third-biggest global weekend for a Hollywood movie in the pandemic era (it’s fourth when factoring Croods 2‘s 5-day domestic Thanksgiving launch). The overseas cume is now $25.1M for $38.8M worldwide.

Warners went day-and-date theatrically and on HBOMax domestically with Tom & Jerry. As we’ve seen with other family-friendly titles over the past several months, they tend to be less impacted by offshore piracy even despite being available on streaming services — think: Soul and Croods 2 which have each grossed over $100M at the international box office. Save for China, the world is still far off from pre-pandemic levels, but Tom & Jerry is another encouraging sign that moviegoers will return to cinemas when they feel safe and there is new product on offer.

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In China, T&J from director Tim Story, bowed to an estimated RMB 79.8M ($12.3M) on 15,960 screens. It ranked No. 4 amid the seven local New Year titles that are still in play. The debut is on par with Peter Rabbit, and, per WB, 857% above Sonic The Hedgehog as well as about 2000% better than Trolls World Tour (though to be fair, the latter opened against The Eight Hundred last August when the market was just coming back).

Russia was a solid No. 1 start with $3.3M and both Brazil and Mexico had strong sophomore sessions with each at No. 1 again, for respective holds of -28% and +9%. The top markets to date behind China and Russia are the UAE ($1.1M), Brazil ($1M) and Mexico ($987K). Offshore rollout will continue in some smaller markets across the coming weeks while much of Europe remains shuttered.

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Overall, time travel comedy Hi Mom was the global and international leader again, with another estimated RMB 345M ($53.2M) to lift the cume to an estimated 4.82B RMB ($744M). This makes the feature debut of comedian turned director Jia Ling the No. 3 biggest title ever in the Middle Kingdom as it surpassed Avengers Endgame (RMB 4.24B) and The Wandering Earth (RMB 4.68B) locally this week. It remains behind Nezha (RMB 5.03B) and Wolf Warrior 2 (RMB 5.687B). Maoyan is predicting an RMB 5.21B ($804M) finish for Hi, Mom which would move it up to the No. 2 all-time slot.

China’s other New Year smash, Wanda Pictures’ Detective Chinatown 3 added another RMB 128M ($19.8M) this session, taking the cume to an estimated RMB 4.32B ($667M). With DC3 now the No. 5 film ever in China, that means there are no U.S. titles in the Top 5 and Avengers: Endgame remains the only Hollywood pic in the Top 10.

As of Saturday afternoon, Chinese box office for 2021 had topped RMB 15B ($2.31B), with Sunday’s figures pushing that up to about $2.4B. This exceeds the full North American box office of $2.2B in 2020. It is also bigger than the comparable Middle Kingdom period in 2019 and 77% of the market’s 2020 total. The month of February, at RMB 12.24B ($1.89B), has become the highest-grossing single month in the market’s history. And all this despite 75% capacity restrictions. Again, it’s an encouraging sign for global markets as the landscape evolves — though, as we’ve been cautioned, it does remain to be seen how Hollywood titles will fare going forward in an increasingly self-reliant China.

IMAX has seen great success in China of late with Detective Chinatown 3 (which shot with IMAX cameras), A Writer’s Odyssey and New Gods: Ne Zha Reborn amassing $44.5M combined to date. That marks the format’s 2nd best Chinese New Year slate ever, behind only 2019 when The Wandering Earth contributed $48M to a total $52.5M that year. Across 17 days this month, DC3 has grossed $35M in IMAX, good for 5.2% of the total, and is soon to surpass 2019’s Ne Zha to become the 2nd highest-grossing local-language title ever released in IMAX. Alibaba’s A Writer’s Odyssey has totaled $7.8M in IMAX, repping 6% of the film’s China box office, and New Gods: Ne Zha Reborn has made $1.7M. Again, the figures are all that more impressive given capacity restrictions continue in the Middle Kingdom.

In other local-language fare, Sony Pictures Releasing International’s Konyek Gorbunok (Upon The Magic Roads) dipped 22% in Russia to add another $3M. The market cume stands at $11.2M, which is the 3rd highest total for a local film released there in the last 12 months.

Elsewhere, Disney/Pixar’s Soul got a nice bump in Hong Kong, jumping 36% from its debut last weekend to take the No. 1 spot in the market as it gets back on its feet. In total, Soul added $1.9M in six material markets, for a $111.7M international cume. Russia and Korea continued to play well with 40% and 34% drops, respectively in the sixth frame. China has been the biggest grosser on Soul with $57.7M, followed by Russia ($17.2M), Korea ($15.8M), Taiwan ($6.5M) and Saudi Arabia ($5.9M). Next weekend, the Pete Doctor original goes to Poland, although Disney will stop reporting overseas grosses as the run winds down.

DreamWorks Animation/Universal’s The Croods: A New Age saw good holds in Australia and Spain with the former dipping just 7% to reach $16.2M and top the lifetime of Ralph Breaks The Internet. It’s playing in line with The Boss Baby at the same point of release in Oz. The full international cume is $103.7M for $156.1M global.

Coming this week, Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon begins overseas rollout, including in China on Friday. Lionsgate’s Chaos Walking is also strutting into 19 offshore hubs including Australia, Korea and Mexico.

MORE…

NBA’s Toronto Raptors Vs. Chicago Bulls Game Postponed By Covid-19 Player Shortage

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February 28, 2021 11:41am

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The Toronto Raptors had to postpone its National Basketball Assn. Sunday night game against the Chicago Bulls because it couldn’t field the league’s requirement of suiting up eight players.

Several Toronto coaches, including head coach Nick Nurse, and forward Pascal Siakam had to sit out Friday’s game against the Houston Rockets because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The league investigated the contacts and determined that too much risk was involved in continuing tonight

The Raptors are next scheduled to host the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday before a game against the Celtics in Boston on Thursday. Both those games are now in jeopardy. Also being watched is Houston’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, given the proximity of the players from Friday’s game.

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The Raptors are perhaps the team most affected by the Covid-19 restrictions of the season. They are playing their home games this season at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. because of Canada’s travel restrictions during the pandemic.  

“We spoke to the NBA,” said Raptors general manager Bobby Webster, explaining why the team played on Friday. “One way to think about it is, we get tested twice in the morning, and so if those tests come back negative, that kind of gives you the clearance to participate in activities that day, and then you can even do some testing later in the day if you’re concerned about it. I think once the negative tests came back this afternoon, I think that gave the NBA the comfort that at least for today, we’re clear.”

The NBA already has a truncated schedule, and the second half of the season will speed up the time between games in order to get in a 72-game regular season. There is hardly room to add games that are postponed, as the NBA wants to get the playoffs completed on time before the scheduled start of the Olympic Games in late July.

The NBA has been tightening its protocols, but in the last two weeks, the San Antonio Spurs, Charlotte Hornets and now the Raptors have had multiple games postponed by the coronavirus.

Minneapolis To Hire “Social Media Influencers” To Report During Upcoming George Floyd Death Trial

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February 28, 2021 11:12am

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The media covering the upcoming trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin’s role in the death of George Floyd will have some new competition from messengers hired by the Minneapolis government.

A team of social media influencers will be enlisted by the Minneapolis City Council to send “approved messages” during the upcoming trial, according to reports. The city plans to pay six influencers $2,000 each to disseminate the city’s views, Fox News said. The plan was approved Friday by the council.

“The goal is to increase access to information to communities that do not typically follow mainstream news sources or city communications channels and/or who do not consume information in English,” the council said in a statement, WCCO-TV reported.

“It’s also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the city and communities.” The city council said it is targeting social media users with large followings.

Chauvin faces murder charges in the May 25 police-custody death of Floyd. The incident sparked worldwide disturbances after videos of the arrest went public.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin March 9, with opening arguments expected before the end of March.

J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, the three other police officers on the scene of Floyd’s arrest, are being tried separately on charges of aiding and abetting murder.