Ballerini was last feted in 2018, when the entire lineup was devoted to women artists. Of this year's class, two — Combs and Brown — are holdovers from 2019, when CMT last presented its "Artists of the Year" in the traditional manner. Stapleton had been part of the bill the year before that. That leaves Barrett, who's currently up for best new artist at the CMA Awards, as the newcomer of the otherwise young-but-veteran bunch.
Graffagnino are CMT's executives in charge of production, Leslie Fram is the exec in charge of talent, and Shanna Strassberg is talent producer. The show is executive produced by Comeaux, Switched On Entertainment’s John Hamlin and Amy Lin Johnson. Jackie Barba and Heather D.
After taking a break last year from the show's usual artist-honoring format to put a pre-recorded spotlight on pandemic heroes, "CMT Artists of the Year" will return to both a live broadcast and music celebrities being celebrated in its 2021 incarnation, set for Oct. 13.
"We look forward to returning to the Schermerhorn with a live show as we celebrate the accomplishments of Chris, Kane, Kelsea, Gabby and Luke.” “We are honored to recognize these five incredible artists who have entertained and inspired millions through their music this past year," said Margaret Comeaux, CMT's VP of production, in a statement.
ET/PT and 8 p.m. CT on Oct. 13. The 90-minute show will air at 9 p.m. As in other years prior to 2020, "Artists of the Year" will go out live in eastern and central time zones from an intimate hall at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
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The five stars selected by the country music network for 2021 honors are Chris Stapleton, Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini and Luke Combs.

Last week, we learned that seasoned studio chief Jim Gianopulos, who for decades has been shepherding big, successful theatrical movies, was being pushed out after four years as chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures in favor of a digital-leaning leader known for purveying lower-cost content aimed at younger consumers.
Though Gianopulos returned the financially struggling Paramount Pictures to profitability and helped oversee its big franchises and create new ones like “A Quiet Place,” he comes from a very different era, one where movies had a long exclusive runway in theaters before being available at home, and expensive box office releases with huge returns drove the business. Now, media companies are reevaluating capital investments as they attend to the immediate needs of their streaming platforms.
The changing of the legacy guard in Hollywood continues in a business focused on prioritizing content for streaming customers.
On a personal note, I’ve always been very fond of Gianopulos and consider him one of the most decent and smartest industry leaders. Of that I am certain.” /> Among his peers at other studios, he was one of the first to embrace the convergence of entertainment and new technologies. Post-Paramount, Gianopulos will surely figure out a way to parlay his savvy, decades of experience and strong ties in Hollywood into an innovative new endeavor. And, by the way, during his 16-year run at 20th Century Fox he was always thought of as ahead of the curve and at the forefront of new media.
While the abrupt move shocked many inside and outside Paramount — rumor had it that at some point production chief Emma Watts might succeed Gianopulos — it was unsurprising to learn whom his ViacomCBS bosses Bob Bakish and Shari Redstone selected to replace him.
Nickelodeon CEO Brian Robbins has been steadily rising through the ranks at Viacom and was recently given added responsibility as chief content officer of kids and family content for Paramount Plus, which launched this year as a late-in-the-game entrant to the streaming wars. (It’s now owned by Viacom). Robbins has been digitally facing for some time, having been a founder in 2012 of AwesomenessTV, which originated as a YouTube network for youth and teens and later expanded into film and TV production.

“I didn’t see any insulting of China — I saw kissing up to China,” one quipped.
For his part, however, Liu has taken any blowback in stride and reached out to viewers across the Pacific undeterred.
The particular irony is that most Chinese viewers who have managed to actually see the film abroad or otherwise have deemed it “unexpectedly good” in post-show online reflections, with some going so far as to call it the most respectful treatment of Chinese culture coming from a Western production they’ve seen in years. The lack of a mainland release will be a sad result for Disney, which has so actively courted China for this film and paid tribute to aspects of its rich culture.
Even fans still crossing their fingers for a “Shang-Chi” theatrical release have mostly admitted defeat after these comments resurfaced, and fear a broader ban on the star.
“When I was young, my parents would tell me these stories about growing up in Communist China where you had people dying of starvation,” he said in footage seen by Variety. They thought of Canada as this pipe dream, as this place where they could go to be free and to create a better life for their kid.” “They lived in the third world.
On Instagram, he wrote in both English and Chinese “Thanks to all the Marvel fans in China!,” adding in English: “We love you!!”
“What Western news often fails to report on is the absolute groundswell of support that we’ve received from all parts of the world — including people from China!” he wrote, critiquing “polarizing” media narratives that blind us to “the kindness and the empathy” of others.
He concluded: “Whether you seek positivity or toxicity on social media, you will find it.”” />
As China’s box office hits new lows, numerous Chinese industry players and fans have watched bitterly while the film rakes in ticket sales and acclaim abroad, criticizing the hypocrisy of knee-jerk nationalist denunciations that have left China without a piece of the action.
As the days stretch on without any word of a China release for “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” there are increasingly slim odds that residents of the world’s largest film market will get to see Marvel’s first Asian superhero on the big screen.
“‘Shang-Chi’s’ take on Chinese elements is so much better than that of ‘Mulan,’” one wrote. “Although the Chinese accents of the American-born Chinese and Hong Kong stars was a bit hard to get through, they were done with sincerity.”
Many Chinese viewers discussed their appreciation that there had been so much Chinese dialogue.
Unfortunately for Marvel and Chinese exhibitors alike, “Shang-Chi” hits at a time when China-born stars with foreign passports are under fire for profiting in the country while holding foreign citizenship.
Those odds have grown slimmer still after jingoistic social media users unearthed content featuring “Shang-Chi” star Simu Liu that they say “insults China.” In the country’s current political climate, the accusations could potentially lead to the ban of the star, the expensive blockbuster he anchors, and even future franchise films in which his character appears.
He likely didn’t know that two months ago, millions of outraged mainland consumers had called for a boycott of the company for being “anti-China.” Against the backdrop of recent pro-democracy protests, the company had expressed condolences to the family of a Hong Kong employee who stabbed a policed officer and then died by suicide. In the clip, Liu praises a lemon tea drink made by Hong Kong beverage firm Vitasoy.
Anti-China Asian Snacks
While Liu’s references to China’s past poverty are decried as slander, official references are encouraged as part of the narrative of how Communist Party leadership has brought the country prosperity.
For such critics, even a light-hearted GQ video about Liu’s favorite Asian snacks is evidence of his offensive politics.
“Shang-Chi” has so far grossed $146 million in North America and will likely become the first domestic release to cross the $200 million mark since the pandemic began.
More problematic still for nationalists is a 2017 interview in which Liu discusses his family’s immigrant background in a video celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary, which began circulating on Chinese social media last week.
Though Canadian, Liu was born in Harbin and speaks nearly accent-less Mandarin. Seeing him more as one of China’s own, nationalist detractors have been quick to label him a “traitor” to the motherland — accusations that China-born director Chloe Zhao also faced earlier this year.
Pointing out a “Shang-Chi” fight scene prominently featuring a giant digital billboard ad for major Chinese e-commerce company Jingdong, one exasperated blogger asked: “If ‘Shang-Chi’ is insulting China, why don’t you boycott Jingdong next?”
Yet in May, top Chinese officials and state media outlets themselves spoke and wrote extensively about China's past periods of hunger as they eulogized the Chinese scientist Yuan Longping, who famously developed strains of high-yield rice that helped the country overcome years of famine

The actor is often remembered as the always-hilarious "Weekend Update" host and Burt Reynolds' impersonator on "Saturday Night Live." But before he found TV fame he enjoyed a decades-long career as a stand-up comedian, much of which he recounts in his quasi-memoir "Based on a True Story." Norm Macdonald, the comedian known for his dry delivery, died this week after a long battle with cancer.
It's easy to pick a part the truth from the fiction, though. The 2016 book, which became a #1 Best Seller on Amazon following his death, is only partly factual, but entirely hilarious. "Stand-up comedy is a shabby business, made up of shabby fellows like me who cross the country, stay at shabby hotels, and tell jokes they no longer find funny,” he writes in the introduction. And those who watched "SNL" during Macdonald's tenure will likely remember at least some of his "Top 25 Favorite Weekend Update Jokes," which he lists in no particular order. His distinctly self-loathing humor about the tumultuous life of a stand-up comic is definitely true, for example.
Writer Sean O'Neal, when he reviewed the book in 2016, wrote that the last chapter would "make for a fine eulogy," likely because of Macdonald's unusual earnestness in the final pages, in which he describes how lucky he had been to find so much success and adoration in his life.
— Sean O'Neal (@seanoneal) September 14, 2021
"If I am remembered, it will always be by the four years I spent at 'Saturday Night Live' and, maybe even more than that, by the events surrounding my departure from that show. As long as 'SNL' exists, then so do I." "There is the way things are and then the way things appear, and it is the way things appear, even when false, that is often the truest," Macdonald writes.
'Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir' by Norm Macdonald” />
That he "was a hick, born to the barren, rocky soil of the Ottawa Valley," when he was actually born and raised in Quebec City, for example. Or when he plans a hit on the life of fellow comedian Dave Attell because of their shared interest in Sarah Silverman. But some of the best parts of the book are the absurdities he packs in for pure entertainment.
pic.twitter.com/vxLRAd2OeP When I reviewed it, I wrote that they would “make for a fine eulogy”—and I swear I didn’t mean anything by it. But they do. I think about these two and a half pages from Norm Macdonald’s book constantly.

Presenters include Kirsten Dunst, Rebecca Ferguson, director Michael Showalter, Eva Longoria and David Oyelowo.
18. As the 2021 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival wraps up, its third annual Tribute Awards are set to take place on Sept.
The TIFF Tribute Awards ceremony is an annual fundraiser to support both TIFF’s year-round programming and the organization’s core mission to transform the way people see the world through film. The Awards honor the film industry’s outstanding contributors and their achievements, recognizing leading industry members, acting talent, directorial expertise, new talent and a below-the-line artist and creators.
This year's honorees include Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”), director Denis Villeneuve (“Dune”), Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog" and “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain”), special Tribute Award Honoree Dionne Warwick (“Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over”) and Variety Artisan Award recipient Ari Wegner (“The Power of the Dog”), among others.
PT/ 7 p.m. ET. The awards will air on CTV and everywhere CTV content can be found in Canada. Variety will be the exclusive streaming partner for the TIFF Tribute awards in all territories outside of Canada. 18 at 4 p.m. The awards will stream on Variety’s Facebook page on Sept.
Variety readers can watch below or visit our Facebook page to watch the awards live.” />
The awards have become a major player in the Academy Awards campaign with many recipients going on to win Oscars later in the season. Previous TIFF Tribute honorees include Academy Award winners Joaquin Phoenix, Meryl Streep, Chloe Zhao, Taika Waititi, Anthony Hopkins, Roger Deakins and many more.

He was 49. funeral home. Freddie Combs, a minister known for singing on Season 2 of "The X-Factor," died Sept. 10, according to a Cocoa, Fla.
TMZ reported that Combs died of kidney failure.” />
She's the closest thing to an angel and a saint that I know," he said at the time. She started caring for me right after we were married in '96, and as my weight rose, more things were required of her. "My wife Kay, she's an incredible woman.
On the show, Cowell and Reid told Combs they would support him if he continued to lose weight.
"When I was bedridden and never came out of the house, my music was never heard," he said. And I know people might think I would never have a chance, and maybe I don't, but I hope the judges will look past my exterior and give a fat boy a chance." "My biggest dream would be to give hope to people who are my size so they can achieve their dreams.
Exercise and a change in diet helped him lose close to 400 pounds by the time he appeared on "The X-Factor," where he was escorted in a wheelchair by his wife Kay, who was his caretaker up until his death. He auditioned in Greensboro, N.C., singing Bette Midler's 1988 song "Wind Beneath My Wings" in front of celebrity judges Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, L.A. Reid and Demi Lovato. In his audition episode, which aired in 2012, he also shared his experiences with weight loss. In 2009, at 920 pounds, he had been hospitalized and near death. Though he did not last on "The X-Factor" for long, Combs was a fan favorite.

“And you could feel that he was finding the show moment by moment.” The fundamentals are the same as when Mark Burnett brought the show to air in the year 2000: a remote location, big personalities, physical challenges and psychological warfare. Probst, then also the host of “Rock & Roll Jeopardy” on VH1, was at first a hired gun: Burnett “was our Pied Piper, and we just followed him wherever he went,” Probst says of the first season.
“What words would he use?” Probst wonders, noting that Campbell’s work has, especially recently, helped him to uncover “five stages” of “Survivor.” “It makes it really clear what kind of an advantage or twist would go in stage one, and what kind would go in stage two,” Probst says. “I feel like we just uncovered our format, and it’s brand-new.” Probst invokes Joseph Campbell, the late professor of mythology and a key influence on “Star Wars,” when discussing how the show has evolved.
22. The balance Probst is striking is one in which he’ll be as much a part of the show as ever — including a new feature in which he directly addresses the audience (“I think they’re going to understand this is me saying, ‘We’re in this together,’” he says) — while also letting the competitors run the show, which returns to CBS on Sept. “There’s so much happening in the world right now,” he says, “that if something comes up, let’s talk about it. And we might learn something from it.”
It takes viewers on a voyage to the most alluring and demanding locations on planet Earth, and, once there, reminds them that it’s impossible to outrun the fundamentals of human nature. This season, those expectations are high: The 18 competitors on “Survivor 41,” three of them younger than the 21-year-old show itself, are part of a season more anticipated than any since the show’s earliest days. The appeal in a challenging time was obvious: “Survivor” is at once escapist and deeply relatable. In its months off-air, “Survivor” has become a defining series of the pandemic, with a presence on Netflix and the entire catalog on streamer Paramount Plus fueling an explosion in conversation. While never explicitly about the news of the day, “Survivor” has stayed afloat and on top by learning from what fans respond to — and by confounding expectations.
Usually filmed over 39 days, this season and the next took a mere 26, due to a 14-day quarantine agreement with the Fijian government before the crew entered a bubble of 10 islands. (The network looked at locations around the world and within America before returning to Fiji, the nation that has played host to every “Survivor” season since 2016.) “This is the most relentless game we’ve ever designed,” says Probst, citing the lack of food, scarce rewards and frequent boots. “Elements of the game are so dangerous that it really is one wrong move and you’re out.” Taking White’s advice, Probst and team leaned into pure entertainment, treating, for instance, the truncated length of the season as an opportunity to pack more complication into a shorter time frame. Filming two 39-day seasons consecutively was prohibitive.
“The show’s a top-three fixture, even when we didn’t have original episodes over the past year,” says network president Kelly Kahl, who was at CBS when the series launched in 2000. Little wonder that, just as it’s reliably drawn a core audience on Wednesday nights on CBS, “Survivor” has been a top performer on Paramount Plus. “People were either rewatching or discovering this show.”
These nooks have, over time, included the introduction of powerful hidden idols in Season 11 and the Edge of Extinction, which has allowed exiles to return to the game, a shift Probst compares to “the losers’ bracket in a sports tournament — I always loved that.” (For his part, Kahl addresses critiques of the show’s changes by saying, “To me, the idea that people complain a little about this or whine a little about that, that just tells me they’re engaged”; Probst says that the show typically gets no notes from the network.)
We haven’t laid it out, but the landscape is there.” For the audience and, perhaps, for the host. “I can see Season 50 for sure,” he says. But Probst, having ushered out the series’ first 40 seasons in epic fashion and pondered what lies ahead, is invigorated. “I can already see where the show is going to head in the next five years.
“It’s easy to go out and just say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do the same show — there’s no need to innovate.’ And the show would have probably gotten a little stale.” And Kahl is optimistic that a program that has surfed the wave of culture for two decades will hang on to its audience. “So many hot alternative shows have come and gone that I don’t see any way you can fault Jeff or any of the producers for wanting to help the show feel fresh and contemporary,” he says.
Many who discovered the show on streaming are likely to watch a season contemporaneously for the first time with “41.” “We hope ab­­sence makes the heart grow fonder,” Kahl says. “Survivor” has, in its first 20 years, avoided making that wrong move, transitioning from cultural juggernaut to steady ratings performer to, in its time off, zeitgeist hit once more. “We managed to cobble together a suc­­­cessful season last year with some successful shows [at CBS], but it felt like a piece of us was missing without ‘Survivor.’”
“With everything that was going on, that title wasn’t appropriate — it didn’t fit anymore. But the essence of birthing a new era did.” “The original title two years ago was going to be ‘Dawn of a New Era,’” Jeff Probst, the show’s host and showrunner, recently told Variety.
“Jeff had a little bit more free rein to probe, to be provocative. “Or, maybe, let’s dream — can we get three of these?” Probst’s increasing presence at tribal council helped the show “go a little deeper,” says Kahl. That wasn’t there from the beginning.” While ratings came closer to earth in subsequent iterations, “Survivor” ventured into space occupied by shows like “60 Minutes” and “Saturday Night Live”: formats that have the durability, over decades, to resist falling out of fashion. Success on that scale seemed difficult to replicate, and Kahl dreamed of having even one more hit season: “We said to ourselves at that point, ‘God, wouldn’t it be great if we could get two?’” Kahl reminisces. That first season of “Survivor” be­came a part of television lore, with a finale (won, in a shock by Y2K standards, by openly gay corporate trainer Richard Hatch) that brought in some 50 million viewers.
The 41st season of “Survivor” was always going to be different. But after COVID and new attention on the show during the pandemic, it’s been reimagined.
What Probst describes is a stripped-down game — one that he says goes “back to the very basic idea of a group of strangers, forced to rely on each other to survive while voting each other out.” The game is the one the contestants create, without the top-down divisions by social class, generation, gameplay experience and even race: This is to be “Survivor 41,” with no subtitle and no stated theme. Gone, too, for the foreseeable future, are returning competitors from the show’s first 20 years. Says Probst: “For right now, where ‘Survivor’ needs to go is with fresh faces, fresh voices, players who are of the moment, players who can let us watch them and learn.”
“We wanted to look at how that would change things when you had to earn everything, and then you could buy what you needed.” Probst called his friend, the writer-director and former “Survivor” competitor Mike White, while the latter was in production on “The White Lotus.” In Probst’s telling, White told him, “I totally trust you, but I do have one question: Do you think it sounds fun?” Having stripped away the excesses that had built up around “Survivor” on the way to Season 40, the host and produ­­­cer had an early idea for the reinvention of Season 41. “Money would enter the society,” Probst says. Capitalism — already a barely subtextual theme of the series — would become the main story.
That relevance requires constant upkeep. “That’s a valid approach — it’s just never appealed to me as a storyteller. “There’s an argument to be made that with a format like ‘Survivor,’ you don’t need to change anything,” Probst says. I like exploring the nooks and crannies within the creative sandbox of ‘Survivor.’”
“But to his credit, he’s so invested in the show; for him, if he was going to be involved in the show, he wants to keep it relevant.” “The easiest thing in the world for Jeff Probst would be to helicopter in, cash a check and go home at the end of each cycle,” says Kahl. But Probst, who became an exec producer in 2010 and sole showrunner the following year, is unconcerned. Which might make alteration seem risky.
“Our schedule is pretty relentless,” he says, “so there isn’t really a lot of time without the pressure of a ticking clock to say, ‘Let me pour one more cup of coffee and look at this again.’” In the wake of the blowout spring 2020 “Winners at War” season — featuring 20 former champions — Probst was eager to find a new gear. Then came what he calls “the unexpected gift of the quarantine”: A stretch of time during which he was able to sit and think.
Let’s go do it again.”” /> “I think we are all ready for a new start,” he says. “Not because the past wasn’t great, but precisely because it was so great. As for Probst, the rejiggered “Survivor” represents a rebirth of sorts.

Along with Patinkin, the series stars Violett Beane as Imogene, Lauren Patten as Anna,  Hugo Diego Garcia as Jules, Angela Zhou as Teddy, and Rahul Kohli as Sunil.
Especially when sailing the Mediterranean on an ocean liner filled with the wealthy and powerful. Everyone on board is hiding something… but is one of them a killer? That’s what the World’s Once Greatest Detective, Rufus Cotesworth (Patinkin), and his protégée aim to discover. The series asks the question: How do you solve a murder in a post-fact world?
McAdams is repped by UTA and Jackoway Austen Tyerman. Weiss is repped by WME. He is repped by ICM and Echo Lake Entertainment. Webb is repped by CAA and Jamie Feldman.” />
He previously won the Emmy for best actor in a drama for his role on "Chicago Hope." His film credits include "The Princess Bride," "Alien Nation," and "Dick Tracy." Patinkin most recently appeared as a main cast member on Season 5 of "The Good Fight" on Paramount Plus. He is also known for his Emmy-nominated role on the Showtime drama "Homeland," which ended its run at the premium cabler in 2020 after eight seasons.
Mandy Patinkin will star in the detective drama "Career Opportunities in Murder and Mayhem," which has been ordered to pilot at Hulu.
The series hails from writers Mike Weiss and Heidi Cole McAdams, who will also serve as executive producers and co-showrunners. Marc Webb will direct the pilot and executive produce under his Black Lamb banner. ABC Signature is the studio, with Webb being under an overall deal there.

Filmmakers and stars Elizabeth Banks and David Wain of "Wet Hot American Summer" are reuniting for a new movie musical at Amazon Studios.
Upcoming film titles are "Invisible Woman," "The Grace Year," "Science Fair," "The Paperpag Princess," "Uncanny Valley," "The Magic School Bus," and "Cocaine Bear." On the television side, Brownstone’s slate includes Season 3 of the critically acclaimed series "Shrill" at Hulu; "Red Queen" at Peacock; "Over My Dead Body" at HBO Max; and the adult comedy animated series "Bedrock" at Fox.
After a crash landing leaves the passengers and crew of a commercial flight stranded for three months, the film follows members of this makeshift community who begin to put together a production of a Shakespearean play to keep themselves occupied, despite their captain trying to focus them on getting rescued.
Reino and McKenna’s credits include the critically acclaimed podcast "Off Book," "Party Over Here" (a Fox sketch show produced by The Lonely Island) and "Rick & Morty." They were listed as one of Vulture’s “Comedians You Should and Will Know” and released their first full-length musical comedy album "The Calendar Album"  in 2019.
Partners in include  Universal, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, Fox, Freeform, HBO Max, Netflix, Hulu, and Peacock. Banks and Handelman are currently engaged in a first-look film deal at Universal, and count a slate that includes multiple film, television and digital collaborations across various networks and studios.
Wain wrote the script with Zach Reino and Jess McKenna. Alison Small is executive producing. Wain is directing the project, titled "Where the Fore Are We?", and will produce with Banks and partner Max Handelman via their Brownstone Productions.
Reino is represented by WME, Omnipop Talent Group, and Ginsburg Daniels Kallis. McKenna is represented by WME, Omnipop Talent Group, Guinivan PR, and Ginsburg Daniels Kallis.” />
Wain is represented by WME, Artists First, Kovert, and Goodman Genow. Banks and Brownstone Productions are represented by UTA, Untitled Entertainment, Relevant, and Ziffren Brittenham.

And then Jennifer Grey, practically a stranger to Blair, got in touch to say she was coming over, and told Blair about a treatment for autoimmune diseases out of Northwestern University that she’d heard about from a friend. “And I — like a lot of people — was just blowing it off.” But after seeing the video, he thought, “Oh fuck, something’s up.” Blair says actor Elizabeth Berkley, “who I had known from Michigan through my life,” insisted she see her neurologist brother — who diagnosed her with MS. Blair initially said “not a chance,” thinking “we’ll figure it out.” “Stuff was going wrong,” Nankin remembers.
For those who love Blair — and there are a lot of them — whether she acts again or writes a book or simply devotes herself to helping others, what happens next isn’t a concern: That there is a next is what matters.
She’s changing her clothes, Ben is putting the directions on her phone and Pippa the dog doesn’t like all the hurrying. Suddenly, Blair realizes the time, and panics — she’s going to be late to meet up with “Crip Camp” director James Lebrecht, who’s staying downtown.
Yet Blair herself is less sure about that “no” right now — though she remains concerned that she can’t match take after take, and doesn’t want to “fuck up the day.”
“I’m not someone that’s been nagged by ambition.” “Yes, if there’s the right thing — I’m not going to try and insinuate myself in somewhere,” Blair says, then makes a joke.
“The film is about the human spirit,” Fleit says. And can I live the fullest possible life that I can?’ Can I help others while I’m here? “It’s about ‘I’ve been born into this body; this is my life. Can I accept myself? Can I embrace myself? Fleit makes it clear that Blair — very much the subject of the movie, and not a producer — gave her free rein. The director also has an autoimmune disorder, alopecia universalis, and related to Blair immediately.
While making those comparisons, Blair was not generous to herself. “I was a loving person, but yeah: miserable, a bit sharp, a bit snarky, a bit angry that I had to get up and do things when I just chronically felt unwell.” “I was chronically a miserable person,” she says with a dry laugh.
Blair’s story is now the subject of the film “Introducing, Selma Blair,” directed by Rachel Fleit in her feature debut. 15, and will begin streaming on Discovery Plus on Oct. The documentary revolves around the lead-up to and aftermath of Blair getting a stem cell transplant — a radical treatment for MS — in Chicago in the summer of 2019. 21. “Introducing, Selma Blair” drew rave reviews when it premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in March, having already been scooped up by Discovery Plus, the nascent streamer. It will get a limited theatrical release from Strand on Oct.
And I saw that most human beings who are on this planet can relate, whether or not they have MS.” “I saw myself in Selma.
“I was already kind of a worn-down, old Jewish soul,” Blair says about relating to Fisher, “and she was just a breath of fresh air.” “I’m having a party! She grew close with Fisher, to whom she looked as a mother figure. In “Cruel Intentions,” Blair was 26 while playing 14-year-old Cecile Caldwell, a wide-eyed, preyed-upon ditz who eventually gets her revenge. In her 20s and 30s, Blair was working all the time, toggling between mainstream studio films and indies, such as Todd Solondz’s 2002 provocation “Storytelling.” She became a Hollywood fixture, and was frequently featured on magazine covers throughout the 2000s. You’re so cute! Come, it’s my birthday!” she imitates Fisher saying to her when they first met, affecting a scratchy screech.
“Yet there were also the people that were just tuned in to wanting to help, and —” she stops to compose herself. With illness, especially with autoimmune diseases, there are countless doubters and haters telling you you’re making it up — and Blair had grown used to that from people commenting on her Instagram. “That broke my heart open, and changed me forever.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, and the long-term effects of a disease that’s afflicted tens of millions of Americans still unknown, Blair’s voice is coming at an essential moment. “Introducing, Selma Blair” reveals that Blair is once again in the middle of a crucial cultural conversation — one about disabled people, and the need to understand chronic pain and illness.
She echoes those thoughts in person too. “And I was always asking, ‘Is there a part for a corpse?’ Like, that’s what I felt I could play.” “All I could give is what I could give,” she says. In the film, Blair is self-deprecating about her career in a way that’s rare in Hollywood — saying she knew she was never a star, and didn’t try that hard.
According to Nankin, their immediate bond was key: “If we hadn’t met Rachel at that time, I don’t know that anything would have ever gotten made. Because it’s not like we were going to do it regardless.”
to be happy.”
At times in the hospital, Blair was at such risk of infection — stem cell transplants have a high mortality rate — that the vérité documentary uses her self-taped video diaries, because no one could enter her room for fear of endangering her life. “Introducing, Selma Blair” is the opposite of a vanity project, and rarely have the stakes been so high in a celebrity documentary. Intensive chemotherapy brings Blair’s immune system down to 1%, after which stem cells that have been harvested from her body are transplanted back, rebuilding her immune system from scratch. The stem cell transplant procedure, which takes two months, is brutal — and the film isn’t an easy watch.
So she told Grey she was open to it, and Grey helped get Blair into the program. But Blair kept getting worse, and she wasn’t responding well to the medications that typically treat MS.
I really didn’t — until my diagnosis.” I really didn’t know joy. She thinks about it more. “I am at peace. “Sometimes,” she says. Does she still feel that way today? At the end of the movie, Blair says she’s at peace: finally, after a life of pain and turmoil.
Thankfully, the procedure worked. Blair, now 49, is in remission, meaning no new lesions have formed in her brain or on her spinal cord since the transplant more than two years ago.
“And I knew very early on that this was a vérité film, and that I just needed to keep showing up, and holding the space for this woman.” Fleit and Blair met over FaceTime that month. “She’s disarming and charming and lovely and kind and dear,” Fleit says.
(Though Toback’s accusers number in the hundreds, he has always denied the allegations, and did again to Variety when reached last week.) A few days later, she spoke out by name in a first-person account published by Vanity Fair. Blair has been in the public eye for a generation, propelled into fame during the late ’90s/early 2000s teen boom in popular culture. When audiences watch “Introducing, Selma Blair,” they’ll not only bear witness to Blair’s medical journey, but get to know her as a person — as a mother, a daughter, a friend and someone who can crack a joke even in her most dire circumstances. She was a significant figure in the resurgent #MeToo explosion in fall 2017 as well, after coming forward with her story about James Toback: Blair was a voice in a Los Angeles Times story about Toback, alleging anonymously that the director had sexually assaulted her in the late ’90s.
Fleit started production in May 2019, shortly before Blair left for Chicago. That’s very much like living with an autoimmune disease.” She completed filming during COVID, during which Fleit feels like the world was experiencing what Blair does every day: “We have no idea what’s going to happen, do we?
Styling: Elizabeth Stewart/The Wall Group; Makeup: Rachel Goodwin/A Frame Agency; Hair: Kevin Ryan/Art and Commerce; Look 1, (Tight portrait): Shirt: Saint Laurent; Look 2, (Seated portrait): Shirt and pants: Chloe/Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills; Shoes: Neil J. Rodgers” />
“If I could have acknowledged that there was something real — a label that people understood — it would have just helped me emotionally,” she says. “If I could have found this label and given myself some solace that I was actually a fucking trouper, I would have been much easier on myself.”
“These guys took a chance on a director whose biggest credit was a film about gefilte fish,” Fleit says with a laugh. Once she made the decision to undergo the treatment, Blair thought it should be documented, even if only for Arthur to watch later. At the time, Bird was on vacation with Fleit in Costa Rica, and facilitated the introduction; Fleit had directed three short documentaries, and was looking to do more. In March 2019, Nankin asked photographer Cass Bird, who had just shot Blair for Vanity Fair, whether she had any ideas for a director.
He and Blair met with producer Mickey Liddell — Nankin’s former roommate — and secured funding for the project from Liddell’s LD Entertainment.
Blair just thought it was normal, that everyone feels these things — that to have a body means to tolerate pain. She had, and still has, ceaseless muscular-skeletal pain, and muscle contractions called dystonia in her neck that affect her speech. Selma Blair has been in pain her entire life, enduring bladder surgeries during her suburban Michigan childhood, getting unnecessary root canals as an adult and periodically even losing her vision.
And so is the hope she’s found in the past few years.
“I want her As for what he wants for Blair, it sounds simple — though it’s not. Nankin, who met Blair during “Cruel Intentions,” says he’ll be by her side, whatever happens. “I want her to feel good!” he exclaims.
“She is going to help millions of people,” Fleit says. “With the film, I know people will see themselves, and find relief in that.”
“I might not be comfortable once people see it. Because then you’re considering people’s reactions — or their sense of your drama or your personality or your chronic illness or whatever.”
“And now I just want to help other people feel better.”
This is actually still unfolding.” Though the movie undoubtedly has a moving ending, and feels complete — Fleit finished filming in June 2020 and locked picture on New Year’s Eve — its story continues in the form of Blair’s actual life. Troy Nankin, her close friend and manager, who produced “Introducing, Selma Blair,” puts it this way: “She’s still in the movie.
How Blair got to an emergent place with her always compromised health unfolds poignantly in “Introducing, Selma Blair.” Her already acute symptoms worsened after she gave birth to her son, Arthur, in 2011. “I really couldn’t move,” she recalls. “The pain was so intense in every joint, in my hip, everything.” Her self-hatred spiked as well, with her interior narrative, she says, sounding something like this: How am I such a weak lazy-ass that I can’t handle what every mother does?
I felt like I had a friend. “Isn’t that terrible? About being on camera, even at her most vulnerable, Blair says in a near shout: “Oh God, I loved it!” She stops to laugh.
“When I was editing the film,” Fleit says, “I was like, ‘Wow, if Selma really allows us to show her in this state, we have something extraordinary.’ And she did.”
Now that Blair has a future, she chooses to see her stem cell transplant — aided by all the nurses and hospital staffers who helped her — as a “rebirth.”
What’s unfolding is that Blair is making gains, certainly, but she’s still in a lot of pain, falls sometimes and continues to have dystonic moments when she talks. And that’s fine; I’m lucky.” “You go into it thinking, ‘Oh, it’s going to be a cure.’ But what is cure?” Blair says. “It’s just a period of acceptance that I’m changed.
“This is a gratitude thing, and it doesn’t mean you’re going to always be comfortable.” You’re here,” she says. “You made it.
“And I spent so long trying to kill myself, or numb myself, or check out — or figure out how to be alive by being half dead. “We have a long time to be dead,” Blair says early in the film.
In “Introducing, Selma Blair,” Fleit asks Blair about acting again, and she says no. Director Solondz, who worked with Blair in “Storytelling” and cast her as the same character in 2011’s “Dark Horse,” says that decision would be “a loss to movies.” But as a friend, Solondz understands: “I think there are more important things — like her health and her family and her well-being.”
Blair rose to stardom in such movies as “Cruel Intentions” (1999), “Legally Blonde” (2001) and “Hellboy” (2004). But in August 2018, after a lifetime of baffling afflictions, she finally got a diagnosis at age 46: She had multiple sclerosis. Even as she suffered, she worked prolifically. While that turn of events, which she announced publicly that October, would be devastating to most people, for Blair, it was a relief.
Nankin texted earlier to say she’d left the gate open, and to warn of spotty cell service. To enter Blair’s house in a woodsy part of Studio City is to join her menagerie. Blair’s hair — which Arthur shaved before her chemo treatments began, as seen in “Introducing, Selma Blair” — is now short and blond. When she plays with it as she talks, it sometimes stays in a spike of its own volition. Nankin’s assistant, Ben, who’s minding Arthur, brings in unsolicited iced coffees from the nearby Alfred. And Blair puts herself in the chair she thinks she’ll feel most comfortable in, while also pointing out that the Christmas tree to her left is in honor of her friend Carrie Fisher, who she says kept Christmas decorations up all year long. The housekeeper, Mercedes, is vacuuming, and waves hello. Arthur, Blair’s 10-year-old son with ex-boyfriend Jason Bleick, floats in and out of the interview, playing with a manual balloon pump, and sometimes attaching it to parts of his mom’s body.
“I’d compare myself to people,” Blair says. “I didn’t understand people didn’t hurt every day.” She pauses. “I’ve hurt since I can remember.”
So you’re gonna probably want to replace that.’” In fact, after screening a late cut of the documentary, Blair had only one note for Fleit: “She said, ‘Rachel, that last shot at the end in the archival footage is actually my aunt, not my mom.
“Our abilities are fleeting, and I think that goes for all people,” Blair says as she’s rushing to leave. “We all just need to calm the fuck down and stop judging everyone’s process, because it doesn’t help.”
How Blair was finally diagnosed — and then got the stem cell procedure — is what she calls a “loving miracle in this Hollywood community.” After years of mysterious symptoms, which she’d sometimes write about on Instagram, her leg gave out while she was walking in a Christian Siriano show in February 2018. Blair says she knew that wasn’t psychosomatic, because she was so happy to be there: “I’m on the catwalk and wanting to be the shit — I love this moment!” A few months later, her hands basically stopped working, which she chronicled in a June 2018 video she sent to Nankin as she attempted to write him a note.

The series follows America’s “first family” of country music, including mother Dottie Cantrell Roman (Sarandon), father Albie Roman (Adkins) and daughters Gigi Taylor-Roman (Ditto) and Nicolette “Nicky” Roman (Friel), and son Luke Roman (Sasse). Previously announced cast members include Beth Ditto, Trace Adkins, Susan Sarandon, Anna Friel and Joshua Sasse. Pascual will play Ace Grayson, Nicky’s adopted son who also dreams of becoming a country star but faces some challenges along the way.
Pascual is an established recording artist in the Philippines, where he is based. 1 on Billboard’s Philippines chart. On screen, he was most recently seen making a cameo in Jo Koy’s Netflix comedy special “In His Elements." He has also starred in several Filipino films and television series. His second album, “Options,” was released in June. His self-titled debut album made it to No.
Actor and singer-songwriter Inigo Pascual has joined the cast of Fox’s upcoming musical drama “Monarch.”
Pascual is repped by Authentic Talent & Literary Management, Cornerstone Entertainment and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher.
The series is produced and wholly owned by Fox Entertainment.” /> Gail Berman and Hend Baghdady of The Jackal Group and Sandbox Entertainment’s Jason Owen also executive produce. Jason Ensler is directing and executive producing the first episode. 1. “Monarch” will debut midseason for Fox on Jan. Adam Anders serves as executive music producer, with the series set to feature original music and covers. Michael Rauch is the executive producer and showrunner. 30 immediately after the NFC Championship game, with the show’s second episode airing on Feb. The series hails from writer Melissa London Hilfers, who will also executive produce.

"Maybe we should be more understanding when it comes to these gatherings, maybe we shouldn’t approach them with such high expectations and just understand that we are all people, dealing with different problems.”
“The way these characters behave is very recognizable – we can also see it here, in Torino. People from so many different countries, from China or Argentina, feel they can easily recognize these patterns,” she says.
Then I saw Tia’s graduation short and realized we have to find room for one more,” says Rantamäki, also behind Kuosmanen’s Un Certain Regard winner “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki” and Hamy Ramezan's Berlinale entry "Any Day Now." “I have been working with the same directors for years, saying no to many interesting projects.
“I want to show all these missed opportunities for establishing real connections and just having a nice time together. These people love each other, so it’s sad when they don’t manage to address real issues and leave without saying anything of importance. My aim is to ask: ‘Why is it so difficult to be happy? As an individual and as a family?,' " she says.
Produced by Jussi Rantamäki and Emilia Haukka, the film, primarily set at Christmas, will show a family of eight struggling to communicate and echoing Tolstoy’s statement that while all happy families are alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Fresh off Juho Kuosmanen’s win at Cannes – where his “Compartment No. 6” was awarded the Grand Prix in July, sharing the prize with Asghar Farhadi’s “A Hero” – Finland’s Aamu Film Company will focus its attention on Tia Kouvo’s “Family Time,” scheduled to shoot in February and March 2022.
 ” />
Inspired by Todd Solondz’s “Happiness,” despite it being a much bleaker proposition, Kouvo also came back to Yasujirō Ozu’s 1953 “Tokyo Story.”
(She calls Rantamäki “a brave producer who picks up projects and people he really wants to work with.”) On Sept. 23, “Family Life” will be presented in the Fiction in Development showcase at the Finnish Film Affair, the industry event of Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy. “I am trying to talk about issues that are important to me and I think they are important to others too,” says Kouvo, who is currently developing the project at the Torino Film Lab workshop.
“I just admire the way he looked at people, how he always stayed on their level. There was critique in his gaze, but also deep humanity. But also admitting that her previous work used to be compared to observational documentaries rather than fiction. I want to be critical when it comes to these people too, and these situations, but in a positive way,” she says, praising the Japanese director.
“With my previous shorts, people used to say they feel almost like documentaries. I have said it a couple of times: In my films, I want to have 90% of a documentary but something always needs to be heightened. Maybe that will be the biggest challenge for my actors? I need them to be precise but also very relaxed.”
“You meet up with your family and still feel like you don’t really know each other. You just can’t connect on a deeper level.”
While not shying away from conflict, Kouvo – Finnish yet based in Gothenburg – intends to show humor emerging from people’s interactions, following a similar path taken in her aforementioned 2018 short, which scored her a win at Tampere Film Festival and attracted Aamu’s attention.
“Family Time,” Variety has learned, will be divided into two parts: Christmas celebration that “ends in a tragicomic anti-climax,” and what happens after, with everyone returning to their everyday lives. The cast features Leena Uotila, recently seen in Pamela Tola’s local smash “Ladies of Steel," Elina Knihtila, Ria Kataja, Risto Tuorila and Jarkko Pajunen.
I contacted Tia and she told me she was developing a feature film with the same title. “Luckily, Emilia Haukka is nowadays producing beside me so we have more possibilities. So here we are!,” he adds.

Wong, who reprised his Marvel Cinematic Universe role as the sorcerer Wong in the recently minted blockbuster “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” said he’s pleased to see films of all budget levels featuring Asian leads getting in front of audiences.
“Most of these projects are all kind of founded for the ‘lack of,’ really, and then people are just getting up and kind of going, ‘We are having to tell our stories,’ as opposed to ‘Wait’ — there is no waiting. It's in the doing,” said Wong, expressing hope that “Shang-Chi” stood tall as proof of the appetite for inclusive storytelling.
A who’s who of some of the most famous faces among the Hollywood’s Asian diaspora turned out to support writer, director and actor Justin Chon at the Los Angeles premiere of his buzzed-about new film “Blue Bayou,” including Awkwafina, Benedict Wong, Jimmy O. Yang, Harry Shum, Jr., Manny Jacinto and George Takei.
“We're in our second week and it's number one, and I love what this impact has made – this swell of Asian pride rippling across the world is much needed,” he said. And for a kid [like myself] that didn't really have any sort of, kind of Asian heroes to grow up to…to experience that is change itself, and that is welcomed.” “I recently saw a little kid holding aloft the figure of Shang-Chi.
“Blue Bayou” made a significant impact on audiences at the Cannes Film Festival, and Chon, whose previous films “Man Up” and “Gook” pushed forward cinematic storytelling with Asian characters front and center, said he’s hopeful about the state of inclusion in film today.
Asked if he’d started to feel his own sense of belonging in Hollywood, Chon mused for a moment. “That's a very tough question. Hollywood, I think, is maybe slowly starting to come around, and it's a good feeling that they're acknowledging some of my work, but I'm very excited for what's to come and the opportunity to tell more of my community stories.”” /> I do feel now that I have rights to tell my stories.
But I think it's, it's a good time. “There's been some really positive change,” he said. And we’ve got to continue to tell our stories.” “I do think we have some more, a lot of work to do. I think that the fact that a film like this is coming out is very encouraging.
“I started hearing through the adopted community that this issue is taking place, where adoptees who were brought here as young children and were now adults, getting deported after they were adopted by U.S, citizens,” said Chon, who headlines the film opposite Alicia Vikander. “It just really absolutely made no sense to me, so I thought it was a very important issue, very important issue to shine a light on.”
“I was really hoping to put as much effort into doing the adoptee experience some justice, make sure that they that they felt like in some way I authentically portrayed their experiences in this country, specifically adoptees who are getting deported,” he added. “That was what was very important to me.”
Chong told Variety he was moved to craft the story — in which he stars as an Asian-American adoptee who’s lived the bulk of his life in a small Louisiana town and suddenly finds himself facing the terrifying prospect of an unjust deportation — after hearing of real adoptees facing similarly jarring circumstances.

He is repped by Paradigm, Leverage Management and Nelson Davis
Richard Schiff, Jessica Hecht, and John Michael Higgins have all been cast in guest roles in the Showtime anthology series "Super Pumped," Variety has learned exclusively.
Schiff previously won an Emmy for his role on the critically-acclaimed political drama "The West Wing." He currently stars in the ABC medical drama "The Good Doctor." Schiff's other TV credits include "The Affair," "Ballers," "NYPD Blue," and "Murphy Brown." Schiff will play Randall Pearson, a San Francisco MTA power-broker who goes head-to-head with Travis.
She is repped by Innovative Artists.
Hecht received an Emmy nomination for her performance as Karen Hayes in "Special" for Netflix. Hecht will play Amy Gurley, the wife of Bill Gurley. Her other recent TV credits include "Dickinson," "Succession," "The Boys," and "Breaking Bad." She received a Tony Award nomination for her work in "A View From the Bridge."
The first season of the series is based on the Mike Isaac book "Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber." It centers on the rise of the ride sharing app and its co-founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and his relationship with venture capitalist Bill Gurley (Kyle Chandler).
The cast also currently includes Elisabeth Shue, Kerry Bishé, Babak Tafti, Mousa Hussein Kraish, Jon Bass, Hank Azaria, and Bridget Gao-Hollitt.
Beth Schacter serves as co-writer, co-showrunner, and executive producer on “Super Pumped” along with Brian Koppelman and David Levien. The anthology series will be produced by Showtime and is part of Koppelman and Levien’s overall deal with the network, with the pair also creating and showrunning the premium cabler’s hit financial sector drama “Billions” for five seasons.” /> Paul Schiff, Allyce Ozarski and Stephen Schiff also executive produce. Isaac is co-executive producer.
He is repped by UTA.
Higgins will play Mike Ovitz, the business titan whose dealings with a young Travis color the rest of the future founder's career. Higgins is known for his roles in films like "Best in Show," the "Pitch Perfect" franchise, and "Couples Retreat." He has also appeared on shows like "Great News," "Arrested Development," and the Peacock reboot of "Saved by the Bell."

The helmer and musician, who has just wrapped his first series, “A Strange Summer,” to be aired on YLE, is also in the late development stage of what will likely become his debut feature, “A Light That Never Goes Out,” about a prodigal flute player who moves back in with his parents after a failed suicide attempt, and, encouraged by a childhood friend, starts to make a whole different kind of music. The film will be produced by Ilona Tolmunen of Made.
Everything I felt back then I put into that story and then I just put it aside – it was too weird and too ambitious. But Julia, my producer, hasn’t forgotten about it,” says Parppei. “I wrote that a couple of years ago.
Despite its unusual setup, Parppei wants to keep the story intimate and melancholic, giving his protagonist a chance to finally confront her traumas.
“Putting my own feelings into the story became easier once there was this layer of magical realism,” he says, admitting that the film’s biggest star will be brought to life through a combination of CGI and puppetry.
She befriends it. Before, she hasn’t really been able to talk about all the difficult things that went on in her life, the abuse, but she starts sharing her secrets with this creature. “My character is horrified at first, trapped in that house all alone with a bear, but it just lies there, silently. There is this magical, warm feeling of a bedtime story about it, but then it turns into something different.”
It’s a comedy-drama about getting over a difficult time and a celebration of useless creativity. “They start by forgetting what music even is. I hope I will make it before ‘The Beast Friend,’ which is pretty elaborate,” he says.
She really gets close to that bear, which is magical and fascinating. In her life, things are falling apart, but she is safe in that mansion and then things start to fall apart inside of the mansion, too. “The nightmare edition.”” /> We used to joke that it’s ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ gone wrong,” he adds, mentioning 1988 Hayao Miyazaki’s classic. “These two, they form a genuine relationship.
Finland’s Tekele Productions, composed of Julia Elomäki, Miia Haavisto, Marja Pihlaja and Tia Talli, will present three new projects at the Finnish Film Affair this year. “Bad Women” will be shown in the Fiction in Progress section, Variety has learned, while Ulla Heikkilä’s “Viva la Vida” – about a Finnish expat family living in southern Spain – and “The Beast Friend” will make their way to Fiction in Development. The latter, described as a “bedtime story for adults,” and set to premiere in 2024, will see director Lauri-Matti Parppei exploring a rather unusual bond forming between a struggling artist and a massive bear.
Mia needs to keep herself safe, too, so she submits to the bear.” But I want my actors to interact with it too. We rarely see them. Still, as a child, you are always told to stare them right in the eyes and slowly walk backwards if you encounter them, or play dead. And whatever you do, just don’t run! It can’t be too realistic, because it is fantastical and it needs to stay that way. I chose a bear because they are perceived as mythical in so many countries, especially Finland. “I want to be able to touch it, to be next to it.
The film, says Parppei, will also explore the questions of sexuality and power imbalance in relationships, albeit with a horror twist.
But it’s about letting go of the trauma and whatever it is that makes us feel trapped. “All these things she hasn’t really thought about are finally coming to the surface. There is hope,” he says.
One night, she breaks her promise. But instead of Bluebeard’s murdered wives she comes across a huge animal. The deal seems to be clear: She needs to keep the house warm, and clean up the rooms, except for one. Mia, whose life is crumbling, gets hired as a personal assistant in an isolated mansion in the Finnish archipelago.

The incident may be tabloid-esque, but in China’s recent political climate, any whiff of scandal around an entertainer can quickly spiral out into calls for boycotts and even the erasure of past works — leaving some online questioning the film’s casting choice and whether it could have an impact on its future box office prospects.
While the issue was settled, online detractors remain critical of Liu for not, as a public figure, offering a public statement or apology about the incident, which received a large amount of local press.
In “Ride On,” Chan will play a down-and-out, washed-up martial artist named Lao Luo, who is very attached to his beloved horse. When he becomes mired in a dispute over debt, however, it seems that the horse may be taken away from him, leading him to ask for help from his daughter Xiaobao (Liu) and her boyfriend (Guo), who embark on a road trip together to resolve the crisis. His latest could break the streak.
But she has run into a measure of trouble with her public image online for an incident involving her parents’ dance training school. After a young student there became partially paralyzed after a spinal injury at the school, Liu’s parents tussled in court with the girl’s family over compensation issues, inciting criticism of the family for fighting the payment. Liu’s acting chops have been widely praised, with Zhang himself calling her the next Zhou Dongyu and even comparisons of her to a young Gong Li.
Alongside Chan, it stars “Adoring” actor Guo Qilin (the 25-year-old son of Guo Degang, one of China’s most recognizable crosstalk comedians) and Liu Haocun, the new young muse of Zhang Yimou whose star has risen rapidly after appearing in his “One Second” and “Cliff Walkers.”
Currently scheduled to release in 2022, the film is written and directed by Yang Zi, who helmed the light-hearted pet-themed film “Adoring,” released last New Year’s Eve.
“Ride On” is produced by Alibaba Pictures, Beijing Hairun Pictures and HG EntertainmentFilm Company. The film’s Chinese title roughly translates to “Dragon Horse Spirit,” with the dragon referring to Chan’s martial arts history and the horse being his beloved mount.
Jackie Chan has begun shooting his next film, a martial arts-based comedy about a man and his horse, entitled “Ride On.”
The 67-year-old superstar remains as prolific as ever, churning out a movie a year since 2019, despite the pandemic. While the presence of his name on a marquee continues to sell tickets, a number of his latest works have been critical bombs. On the Chinese Douban review platform, viewers rated last year’s “Vanguard” with a 4.5 out of 10, 2019’s “Mystery of the Dragon Seal: Journey to China” 3.6 out of 10, and “The Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang” a 3.8.
Last year, Chan's "Vanguard" made $44 million in China.” />

“I don't think we went into TIFF saying, 'Okay, Brad Pitt is gonna show up.' It was more like, 'Is the director gonna come? Are the producers gonna come?'” Patel said, explaining how this year’s preparations felt different than festivals past.
The festival was thoughtful and inspiring in places and boasting some of the most exhaustive health and safety protocols from a festival in the coronavirus era, but it's still fair to ask — where are the movie stars? That question could well apply to a laundry list of absent talent and filmmakers with projects at the Canadian festival, whose organizers pulled off a successful (and partially in-person) 2021 program.
This normally guarantees heavy traffic from A-list stars and premieres of coveted, high-brow commercial fare, the likes of which aren't seen as often at haughtier companion festivals like Cannes and Venice. Toronto, particularly in recent years, has become an important launchpad for award season contenders and premium studio projects.
A lot of people had to make difficult choices about where to put their resources and time," said one top talent rep, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "With Venice and Telluride, it was clearer early on who could get in and when.
The most obvious cause here is the coronavirus pandemic, which has hampered attendance across festivals in Cannes, Venice and Telluride (though the latter two had some serious star power behind their projects, many of which premiered two weeks later at TIFF). on September 7 before the festival's start on September 9. Industry insiders with whom Variety spoke cited intense travel restrictions from the Canadian government, which only opened borders to the U.S.
In the Toronto Film Festival world premiere of "Dear Evan Hansen," a lonely Ben Platt belts out: "When you're falling in a forest and there's nobody around, do you ever really crash or even make a sound?"
And instead of squeezing in one question with the actor as he made his way down the line of 100 reporters, there were only about 10 outlets present, so Patel had a 10-minute long chat with the actor, diving deep into this role and action behind the scenes. Instead of 60 photographers pointing their cameras at the star, there were about six.
It's so important for a city, and so I think next year, we'll be in full gear,” she concluded.” /> We're not going to do TIFF,' but they put all these protocols in place and made sure this was still happening. “They could've totally just said, 'This is too risky.
“I love TIFF — these are our Oscars in Canada, and I just love the vibe of it,” Patel said, adding that she missed two things in particular during this pared back TIFF: the fashion and the fans. But she admits that the vibe of the film festival was certainly certainly different, even though she still worked 15-hour days between all the TIFF events.
For the reporter, getting a chance to conduct meaty interviews with the likes of Dornan and his “Belfast” director Kenneth Branagh, “Dune” duo Denis Villeneuve and Rebecca Ferguson, or Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain (who both brought two films to TIFF) was a stroke of good luck.
The talent that did show worked overtime, participating in marathon press days, premieres and special TIFF conversations. In any other year at TIFF, these would be the faces you'd see at baggage claim before stepping foot into the city. In 2021, they were among the only bright lights to drum up excitement. They included "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" star Jessica Chastain; "The Power of the Dog" and "The Electrical Life of Louis Wain" star Benedict Cumberbatch; "Belfast" star Jamie Dornan; "Dune" director Denis Villeneuve; and "Dear Evan Hansen" star Ben Platt.
Zendaya broke hearts on social media when she said she could not turn up to support the North American premiere of "Dune" because she was on the set of HBO's "Euphoria." Zendaya's co-star Rebecca Ferguson was the only actor from the huge sci-fi ensemble to turn up to TIFF with Villeneuve. COVID complications also forced some stars to choose between work and supporting their official selection titles.
When Dornan stepped onto the red carpet for Monday night’s premiere of “Belfast," instead of a throng of photographers yelling for him to look this way or that, the mood was relatively quiet and calm, says “ET Canada Weekend” host Sangita Patel. A dearth of movie stars also had a downstream effect on other parts of the show business economy — including media that populate the red caret.
Even one observant border patrol agent at Toronto International Airport remarked to a Variety staffer that few A-listers had come through their gates for reentry to the United States. But the friendly streets of downtown Toronto were nearly empty. Festival headquarters at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and adjacent grand screening venue Roy Thomson Hall, normally cut off to street traffic, stood with nary a fan barricade. There was one swanky rooftop soiree (a sparse affair for Edgar Wright's "Last Night in Soho"). Autograph seekers, paparazzi and onlookers lined up by the handfuls instead of the hundreds.

Still, some are wary of going on strike while work is so plentiful.
But it would signal support for the union leadership at the bargaining table, while a "no" vote would effectively rob the union of any leverage. Authorizing a strike would not mean that a strike is inevitable, or even likely. Over the last week, the locals have begun to prepare members for the possibility of such a vote.
I don't think everybody quite understands there's no handout. "It makes me a little nervous," said one member of IATSE Local 600. "Strikes aren't easy. You don't get anything during the strike."
Just as importantly, the unions are also seeking better funding for the health and pension plans. Many argue that as the industry has shifted heavily to streaming, the below-the-line workforce has been left out of the major paydays that have gone to talent.
In that instance, the union declined to seek a strike authorization vote, despite urging from some of the rank-and-file who wanted to take a harder line. IATSE is taking a more aggressive posture than it did in the last round of contract negotiations, in 2018.
Loeb, president of the international union, wrote to members on Wednesday. "We are united in demanding more humane working conditions across the industry, including reasonable rest during and between workdays and on the weekend, equitable pay on streaming productions, and a livable wage floor," Matthew D.
Some members believe the union has leverage to address issues that have lingered for years — especially long production hours, short turnaround times and lack of meal breaks. The talks are taking place amid a production boom, thanks to a glut of projects that were delayed by the pandemic and the ongoing demand for content.
That deadline passed without an agreement, but talks have continued.” /> 10 as negotiations continued. The last three-year basic agreement was set to expire on July 31, but was extended to Sept.
"If the mega-corporations that make up the AMPTP remain unwilling to address our core priorities and treat workers with human dignity, it is going to take the combined solidarity of all of us to change their minds," Loeb wrote.
Loeb added that the West Coast locals, which represent about 60,000 of the union's 150,000 members, have the unanimous backing of the general executive board. He said the board is committed to "resourcing necessary efforts and actions" in order to achieve the locals' goals.
Negotiations between the studios and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have reached a "critical juncture," the union's president told members on Wednesday.
The union's 13 West Coast locals appear to be headed toward a strike authorization vote, as negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have dragged on with little progress.
The 13 locals have been bargaining with the AMPTP off and on since early summer.

The company says it distributes creator-made video content to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube. In addition, it operates its own original content channels in beauty ("Beauty Studio"), soccer ("Oh My Goal") and gaming ("Gamology"). All told, Jellysmack-managed content generates 10 billion global monthly video views and has a cross-platform reach of 125 million unique U.S. Founded in 2016, Jellysmack has partnerships with more than 300 top creators, including MrBeast, PewDiePie, Karina Garcia, Bailey Sarian, Patrick Starrr, Nas Daily and Phil DeFranco. users, according to the company.
Atkins has served as an official adviser to Jellysmack since 2019. He brings more than two decades of experience to Jellysmack after previous stints as CEO of RTL Group's Digital Video Group, president of MTV, chief digital officer for Discovery, and SVP digital initiatives and new media programming for HBO.
"It's similar to a decade ago when top leadership at huge media conglomerates expanded into emerging areas like consumer internet, streaming and podcasting, all of which are areas where Sean was a critical senior leader." "Sean joins us at a milestone moment for the creator economy," Jellysmack co-founder and co-CEO Michael Philippe said in a statement.
Jellysmack, a company that optimizes the distribution of creator videos and other content, has tapped Sean Atkins as president.
This May, SoftBank made a "nine-figure" investment in Jellysmack, which the company said gives it a valuation of more than $1 billion.” />
In his new role at Jellysmack, Atkins is tasked with expanding the company's creator program as well as its media partner program, which is designed to help intellectual-property owners generate new revenue from their content libraries. He will also be overseeing global marketing as well as the teams that run brand, performance and advertising partnerships at the L.A.-based company. In addition, under Atkins' leadership, Jellysmack will be launching the new Marquee Program to help public personalities create and distribute video content.
Now that monetization is happening across multiple platforms, the industry is rapidly maturing into something sustainable and scalable." Atkins, commenting on joining the company full-time, said, "Jellysmack combines all the trends I've worked on in my career: direct-to-consumer, AI-enabled production and distribution, data-driven marketing, and global talent enablement." He added, "I've always believed in the power of digital media and in the voice of creators, but this is such an exciting time for the creator economy.

Meanwhile, the digital audience for docus has steadily been on the rise, making AMPAS’ desire to only nominate those docs with a legitimate theatrical release dicier.
“I do think it will reduce the Oscar qualifying numbers,” says two-time Academy Award nominee Liz Garbus, who won an Emmy for “What Happened, Miss Simone” following her Oscar nomination for it and now on the fall festival circuit with “Becoming Cousteau.” “As an AMPAS documentary branch member, we see so many films which have not had a proper theatrical release that people are qualifying just on a lark. So I think this new rule will change that equation.”
The Television Academy shut down the controversial practice of awards double-dipping earlier this year, decreeing that, beginning in 2022, any documentary placed on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences viewing platform for Oscar shortlist consideration, “will be deemed a theatrical motion picture and thus ineligible for the Emmy competition.”
“Boys State,” “Dick Johnson Is Dead,” The Social Dilemma,” and “76 Days” all won Emmys last weekend during the Creative Arts ceremonies, but they share another distinction: They are the last documentaries able to win a statuette from the Television Academy for the same nonfiction film that successfully qualified for Academy Award consideration.
“I think that it's going to start to define what each Academy is really looking for,” says Malhotra. “There are certain types of documentaries that naturally gravitate more to say the Television Academy voters than AMPAS doc branch voters. But I don't want it to start to feel like this is a TV doc and this is a theatrical doc. Unfortunately, that’s what might be a by-product of this process.”” /> So, I think we will start to see that.
“I would think that it would be better in an international category like the Oscars, than in something more specific like the TV Academy’s Emmys.” “I would have never gone for the Emmys because I would have thought that this doc had a better shot with AMPAS voters because it was of international interests rather than domestic interests,” Nevins explains post victory in the exceptional merit in documentary category.
Her victory last weekend was especially gratifying after both awards campaigns.
The straightforward rule is expected to have major awards-season ramifications for documentaries, and filmmakers surveyed by Variety about the subject have mixed feelings about it. For decades, documentary filmmakers and the companies that back their work have campaigned for Emmy statuettes after a fight for a little gold man, and since 2015 four Academy Award winning documentaries – “American Factory,” “Free Solo,” “O.J.: Made in America” and “Citizenfour” have taken home 10 Emmys post-Oscars, prompting calls for a rule change.
Going forward, Nevins points out that the new rule is good news for The News & Documentary Emmy Awards, which will accept AMPAS qualified docus.
For now, Vinnie Malhotra, Showtime’s executive vice president of nonfiction programming, thinks the TV Academy’s new rule will ultimately change the docu landscape.
“It’s really deeply meaningful to me to be recognized as a best director and it's only the Emmys that are offering that category for documentary,” Johnson tells Variety. “We all have hope that within Oscar categories there'll be more recognition of documentaries as films and that documentaries won't only stay in their silo in relation to all the craft departments.”
That said, four-walling will continue to exist because documentaries have always had a hard time securing theatrical space and without four-walling there would arguably only be a handful of docus that meet AMPAS's eligibility requirements.
Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s VP of independent film and documentary features, says that the new rule won’t change the way the streaming service works with documentarians for award seasons.
Outlets often “vanity four-wall” to please a director, but the TV Academy’s new rule might put a stop to that due to the loss of Emmy consideration and the high cost of four-walling multiple films. Television distributors and streamers like Netflix typically rent a theater for a week or two — a tactic known as “four-walling” — to theatrically qualify their docs for Oscar consideration.
Her film, like “Boys State,” “The Social Dilemma” and “76 Days,” made the AMPAS documentary shortlist but did not ultimately score a nomination for the category won by “The Octopus Teacher.” On Sunday, Kirsten Johnson collected the Emmy for best outstanding nonfiction directing for “Dick Johnson Is Dead” – a category that doesn’t exist at the Academy Awards.
“What difference does it make whether (a documentary) is in a theater or on television so long as it's good cinema?” “There is this Rube Goldberg series of rules, which are meant to pretend that a film is a theatrical film,” says Alex Gibney, who won the Oscar for “Taxi to the Dark Side” in 2008.
The new rule should also, theoretically, help solve an ongoing problem – the number of filmmakers and companies qualifying docs for Oscar consideration. For distributors like HBO and Netflix, who release numerous docus every year, the rule change could be a financial relief given the fact that oftentimes more money is spent on each film’s awards campaigns than on their production budgets. This year 238 films qualified for Oscar consideration.
“The Emmy has always been junior to the Oscar,” says documentary powerhouse Sheila Nevins, an HBO veteran who came out of retirement to head MTV documentary films, which won an Emmy for “76 Days” last weekend. “When you can get both, on the one hand, you could say, ‘Well, that elevates the Emmy, but on the other hand, you could say it diminishes the importance of the medium in which it's performing.”
They argue that non-fiction filmmakers, like narrative filmmakers, want the same thing: for their film to be seen in a movie theater with an audience. But veteran doc directors Sam Pollard and John Hoffman aren’t so sure.
But I do feel like it's moving more and more towards festivals as the place where we have meaningful audiences in a movie theater to watch our films that are off the mainstream.” “You'd be hard pressed if you weren't four-walling to get some of these films into a theater and that experience can be extraordinary. “Four-walling does keep films that would not make it into theaters in theaters,” says Johnson.
“We will have those conversations as we always do, which is openly and transparently, and then build our campaigns accordingly to support that vision.” “This new rule creates another thing for us to be talking about (with filmmakers) and to really understand what the hopes and ambitions are for that specific filmmaker and their story,” says Nishimura.
Don’t get any. You want to put the effort into getting both, go after both an Oscar and an Emmy. You want to get none. Nevins argues that the TV Academy should forget about the new rule. "Let people struggle in their own way to get their films wherever they want. You want to get one, go get one. This rule will probably change next year anyway.”
The Emmy is icing on the cake.” “For those of us in the business, all of us want an Oscar,” says “Citizen Ashe” and “MLK/FBI” director Pollard, an Academy Award nominee and winner of three Emmys, including two for “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.” “We’d all love to get an Emmy, but we all want that Oscar – that’s the brass ring.
After all, there is no denying that docs are a product of television or digital platforms and, for the most part, not film studios. Without funding from small-screen distributors such as HBO, PBS, A&E and streaming services including Netflix, Amazon, and Apple, the Oscar feature documentary category wouldn’t exist. By putting a halt to the double-dipping, the TV Academy reminded documentary filmmakers and the companies backing them of their television roots.
Nevins says that if she had been forced to choose between submitting COVID documentary “76 Days” for Oscar or Emmy consideration, she would have only submitted the film to AMPAS — but not because she thinks “76 Days” is a necessary theatrical experience.
“Any filmmaker who has aspirations to get that theatrical release, they're not going to make the decision to have or not have a theatrical opportunity because of Emmy rules,” adds Hoffman, who has won four Emmys and co-directed-produced “Fauci.”

Nolan will also receive a backend deal that promises first-dollar gross, as well as final cut on his film. Before Nolan came up with his next project, he and his team of agents at WME had fielded offers for a first-look deal from both streaming services and traditional film companies.
Universal declined to comment and WME, the agency that reps Nolan, couldn't be reached for comment.
eventually supported the film's fall release, but "Tenet" became a box office disappointment and lost the studio at least $50 million. Even before the HBO Max deal was set in motion and set off Nolan, his relationship with Warner Bros. The two had privately clashed about release plans for "Tenet." Nolan, a fierce advocate for the exhibition industry, hoped that his sci-fi epic would spark a moviegoing revival, but studio executives were unsure about debuting a $200 million-budgeted movie in September of 2020, a time when the majority of U.S. had become strained, prompting chatter he was looking for a new creative partner. Warner Bros. cinemas were closed and the idea of a widely accessible vaccine seemed like a far-off dream.
Nolan's provision is curious because it's category agnostic — anything from "Dune Part II" to the latest kid-centric "The Lego Movie" would hypothetically have had to avoid the weeks surrounding Nolan's latest. He requested similar terms at Universal, but insiders say it appears to have some wiggle room. Perhaps that means "Minions 12" won't have to completely avoid debuting in the same season as the upcoming atom bomb drama. In his individual film arrangements at Warner Bros., Nolan has required a three week blackout period on the release calendar, meaning the studio wasn't able to premiere a movie three weeks before or three weeks after one of the director's films is scheduled to open. With or without that kind of clause, Hollywood executives would make every effort to avoid cannibalizing a fellow studio title that falls into a similar genre. Because of his cinematic pedigree and near-consistent box office success, those who have worked with Nolan before attest his contracts are more exacting than his peers'.
Ultimately, it was Nolan's track record of hits and ability to spin cinematic gold out of everything from Normandy battles to heady explorations of time, space and dreams, that made Universal comfortable taking that risk.” />
"Tenet," at least in its theatrical life, may not have panned out exactly as Nolan had hoped, but the filmmaker still wields unprecedented control over distribution plans for his films. In his collaboration with Universal, he is looking to have similar sign-off over where and when his next movie is unveiled to the public. Naturally, a robust theatrical window — industry parlance for the amount of time a film plays only in cinemas — will be of paramount importance.
Before COVID-19 upended the movie theater business, new releases traditionally screened in theaters for 75 to 90 days before relocating to home entertainment platforms. Insiders at Universal confirm it will be exempt from the 17-day window (or 31 days for films that generate at least $50 million in opening weekend sales) that Universal forged through a deal with major theater chains, such as AMC and Cinemark, to bring movies more quickly to the home. The film will likely stay on the big screen for a longer period than the 45-day frame that appears to have become industry standard in the post-pandemic era. Nolan's library, "Tenet" included, were not able to move to digital platforms until 120 days after their initial releases. Sources familiar with negotiations say Nolan asked for, though it's unclear if he will receive, an exclusive theatrical window between 90 to 120 days for the upcoming WWII epic.
Studios interested in backing the Oppenheimer picture were allowed to see Nolan's shooting script, but were asked to read it at the director's office to avoid leaks. There were also meetings that took place at the director's home. Some potential suitors, a group that included Sony, MGM, Paramount, and, despite the falling out, Warner Bros., worried that the film's subject matter was less than commercial, which made them concerned about the steep price tag.
Getting to this point has involved months of courtship, clandestine meetings, big promises and a willingness to take a creative leap with one of the boldest, but also most demanding, filmmakers in the business. The studio is eyeing a release in either late 2023 or 2024. It will also follow Oppenheimer's later decision to call for more international control of nuclear weapons and his eventual opposition to the development of the hydrogen bomb. It also represents a major victory for Universal and its film chief, Donna Langely, who moved aggressively to forge a relationship with "The Dark Knight" director after he grew dissatisfied with Warner Bros. On Tuesday, news broke that the studio will fully finance Nolan's $100 million drama about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the atomic bomb. Filming will begin in the first quarter of 2022 and will require extensive digital effects.
The director made no secret of the fact that he was dismayed by Warner Bros.' decision to release its entire 2021 slate simultaneously on HBO Max, even though the one-year arrangement was motivated by the pandemic and didn't apply to his current or future movies. to one of its biggest rivals is noteworthy but not entirely shocking. In the past twenty years, Nolan has partnered with Warner Bros. on "The Dark Knight" trilogy, "Inception," "Dunkirk" and most recently "Tenet." Nolan's jump from Warner Bros. Still, his blistering comments — "some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service" — made it clear how diminished strength of his ties were to the studio he had long considered home.
Christopher Nolan is making his next movie at Universal, severing the director's nearly two-decade long creative partnership with Warner Bros., the company that has backed many of his biggest blockbusters.

Dances with Films (DWF:LA) returned with its film slate and award-winners at the closing night ceremony on Sept. 12 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Dances With Films Announces 2021 Winners At Closing Night Ceremony
Dreamseeker Media Releases 'Ferguson Rises' Trailer
“The longer we have to wait for federal, global and industry leadership, the more important community led, collective action becomes. “Climate and environmental impacts are at our front door. The need for deeper investments in stories that drive action increases every single day,” said Jill Tidman, executive director of the Redford Center. We are inspired by all of our grantees’ projects, and have every confidence that our further investments in these six films will lead to real-world environmental impact at a scale that is urgently needed.” And that’s where these stories live and thrive.
The Redford Center Awards Additional Grant Funding to Six Environmental Impact Documentary Projects
17 at Laemmle Monica, with a national rollout following. Dreamseeker Media, in association with Films With a Purpose, Yoruba Saxon and PhilmCo, released a trailer for "Ferguson Rises," opening Sept.
The 2020-21 cohort of Redford Center Grants includes 22 film projects intended to make a community impact and further build the movement for environmental justice and regeneration.
The list of this year’s 2021 award-winners are: Roman Olkhovka’s “Dreamover,” Caleb Slain and Nathan Nzanga’s “Enough,” Agazi Desta, Jennifer Frazin, Morgan Milender, Molly Miller, Amri Rigby, Joel David Santer, Erica Sutherlin and Chris Tarricone’s “Voodoo Macbeth,” Richard Reens’ “Pant Hoot,” Nani Li Yang’s “Beneath The Banyan Tree,” Brooke Trantor’s “Oh, Baby!” Paula Rhodes “Delicate State,” David Mahmoudieh’s “Snake Dick,” Justin Monroe and Ryan Fritzsche’s “Holy Frit,” Van Maximilian Carlson’s “Skid Row, Los Angeles,” Michele Palermo’s “Middle Of Nowhere,” Alex Martinez’s “Spanky,” Andrés Roa Ariza’s “Desolvido” and Paul James Houghton’s “From Under The Bridge: When Bullies Become Trolls.”
“The feeling was absolutely palpable in each screening and the theatre itself,” said the team behind Dances With Films. “It is clever how much people miss going to the movies … Let alone movies where they will have ‘discovered’ new voices, authenticity in vision and films that you won’t be seeing next week at the multiplex.”
The impact campaign grants are a new strategy for the Redford Center, meant to support completed films in their efforts to inspire public dialogue and mobilize action around environmental justice issues with initiatives like educational screenings and community partnerships.
Notable filmmakers who have participated in the festival are Bryan Cranston, Gina Rodriguez, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Pompeo, Ryan Eggold and John Hawkes, among others.” />
“Demon Mineral,” “Impossible Town,” “Oaklead,” and “To The End,” are receiving production and development grants, while impact campaign grants go to “Razing Liberty Square” and “We Still Here/Aqui Estamos.” The Redford Center announced that six environmentalist documentary features in the current Redford Center Grants cohort will receive a total of $295,000 in second-year funding.
Highlighting diverse voices of community members, from residents to police officers to business owners, "Ferguson Rises" chronicles the 400-day protests and rise of Black Lives Matter. Directed by Mobolaji Olambiwonnu, the film explores the aftermath of the protests in Ferguson after the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr.
They will drive change and action in the short and long term. “Each of these films inspire with their fresh representation and authentically local community perspectives, while having significant national and global relevance,” said Redford Center grants advisor Brenda Robinson, partner in Gamechanger Films. “With the right support, these storytellers’ impact goals will make a difference. That’s why I find The Redford Center’s investments in impact storytelling to be so critical — to ensure that the full potential of these stories are realized. People won’t just see these films and move on, they will see them and be engaged to take action for the future of our people and the planet.”
Sandra Evers-Manly, TJ Martin, Gigi Pritzker, Kai Bowe, and RZA executive produce, with David Oyelewo and Jessica Oyelowo serving as producers.
Watch the trailer below.

https://twitter.com/justinlong/status/1437857897225015305″ />


I'm so sad for all of us today." I will never laugh that hard again. Conan O'Brien, who had Macdonald on his talk shows many times over the years, wrote "I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedy voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny.


Many comedians shared personal memories of Macdonald on social media. Jon Stewart recalled that Macdonald made him break while performing.
When news broke on Tuesday that Norm Macdonald had died, comedians, actors and writers took to social media to mourn and remember the life of the famed “Saturday Night Live” alum. Macdonald died of cancer at age 61 after a private struggle with the disease.
See more tributes below.
Larry Flynt," "Dr. Macdonald was best known for starring on “Saturday Night Live” in 1993 and his anchoring “Weekend Update” until early 1998, when he was replaced by Colin Quinn. He gave dry, sardonic and memorable impressions of Burt Reynolds, David Letterman, Larry King and Quentin Tarantino and more during his five-year run on the show. During his career, he was also a writer on "Roseanne," created "The Norm Show" with Bruce Helford on ABC and appeared in movies and shows like "Dirty Work," "Billy Madison," "The People vs. Dolittle," "The Orville" and more.


Senator Bob Dole, whom Macdonald impersonated on "Saturday Night Live" in the '90s, also paid tribute to the comedian with a photo of the two of them.


You always hoped he would hang around after the work was done, just so you could hear his stories and get a laugh. So hilarious and so generous with his personality. Seth MacFarlane, who created and starred in "The Orville" alongside Macdonald, wrote "To so many people in comedy, me included, there was nobody funnier than Norm Macdonald. I'm gonna miss him."


Patton Oswalt said the comedian was "never not 100% hilarious."


Seth Rogen shared how much Macdonald influenced his early career.


Edgar Wright said watching Macdonald appear on talk shows is "the most pleasurable" of "addictive rabbit holes you can disappear down on the internet."

Ruffin, Jenny Hagel, Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker serve as executive producers on the Peacock show. The series is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, and Sethmaker Shoemeyers Productions.” />
It is her fifth Emmy nomination — she previously received four nominations for her writing on "Late Night With Seth Meyers." Ruffin, also a writer and performer for NBC's "Late Night With Seth Meyers," received an Emmy nomination for outstanding writing for a variety series on the Peacock show bearing her name.
Additionally, she is a New York Times bestselling author, along with her sister Lacey Lamar, of “You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories of Racism,” published by Grand Central Publishing. She has also performed at Boom Chicago in Amsterdam, the iO Theater and the Second City in Chicago. She is currently co-writing the Broadway musical “Some Like it Hot,” which will begin performances in 2022.
Ruffin was the first African American female to write for a late-night network talk show in the U.S.
Previously, she wrote and performed on Comedy Central’s “Detroiters” and was a regular narrator on its “Drunk History” series.
She is competing against "A Black Lady Sketch Show," "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver," "SNL" and "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" for the trophy on Sunday.
“Margaritas for everyone!” “We are thrilled to keep doing what we love for another season,” Ruffin said.
8 with new episodes releasing every Friday. Peacock has renewed “The Amber Ruffin Show” for a second season, which will premiere on Oct.
In addition, she was a writer/performer for the 2018 and 2019 Golden Globe Awards and has written for the series “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”
Along with hosting and writing, she executive produces the show. The late night series features Ruffin’s personal and comedic takes on each week’s news.

The new steps come after Fox requested that employees disclose their vaccination status in a reporting system. Approximately 90% of the media company's employee base has gotten vaccinated against the contagion, according to a memo issued Tuesday by Kevin Lord, the executive who oversees human resources for Fox Corporation.
We appreciate your continued cooperation as we work together in the best interests of our shared well-being." "Soon we will introduce another important health and safety measure for access to our facilities – daily COVID testing for the small group of employees who are not vaccinated or have not provided their vaccination status. This is important information for our company to know as we continue to implement our phased return to office timing and procedures," Lord said. "We are pleased to share that more than 90% of our full-time employees reported that they are fully vaccinated. Additional details about this protocol will be shared with the relevant employees in the near future.
Fox Corp. intends to test unvaccinated employees daily for coronavirus infections, the company disclosed in a memo.
WarnerMedia's CNN fired three staffers in August who came into the office unvaccinated, and has told employees they must be vaccinated if they intend to come to work. Other media companies have been direct in their policies.
All corporations have had to contend with pandemic polices, but Fox has come under more scrutiny than most because some of the hosts and contributors on its Fox News Channel have at times suggested that viewers view getting a vaccine with great skepticism. Why exactly is that the policy?" So why is that? On last night's broadcast of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," for example, the host said coronavirus vaccines were "far less effective than we were told they were initially, potentially dangerous for some, and completely unnecessary for tens of millions of others." And he questioned why the Biden administration was trying to make them "mandatory for virtually everyone in America.
 ” />

But Macdonald zigged when everyone else zagged, delivering nearly six minutes of tame jokes derived from a book called "Jokes From Retirement Parties," which lost the audience but made the comedians onstage crack up. Comedy Central's roasts were known as NSFW affairs, where the panelists mercilessly roasted each other.

Celebrity Jeopardy!: French Stewart, Burt Reynolds, & Sean Connery – SNL
Macdonald loved telling long, rambling stories during his legendary late night appearances, and his extra-dry "Moth Joke" has racked up over a million views on YouTube.

Courtney Thorne-Smith and Norm Macdonald on Conan in 1997



Macdonald created one of the most iconic "Saturday Night Live" impressions ever with the help of a novelty foam cowboy hat and the nickname "Turd Ferguson."
"The Moth Joke"
Norm Macdonald's Roast of Bob Saget
Simpson Macdonald's "Weekend Update" coverage on O.J.
Courtney Thorne-Smith might have been the scheduled guest during this "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" segment, but Macdonald completely stole the show, landing two devastating jokes about Thorne-Smith's "Chairman of the Board" costar Carrot Top, including one of late night's best ever puns.” />
This compilation cobbles together some of Macdonald's most incendiary jokes about the O.J. Simpson trial on "Saturday Night Live."
Below, Variety has gathered some of Macdonald's most iconic bits. Norm Macdonald, who has died at the age of 61, was an iconic comedian, known for his deadpan delivery and lack of fear in committing to bits that would make other comedians cringe, such as mocking fellow late night guests, letting jokes bombs for his own amusement or going clean when others were getting dirty.

21, replacing Claudine Naughton, whom Activision Blizzard said is "leaving the company." The change in HR leadership at the company comes two months after it was hit with a lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, alleging that Activision Blizzard allowed a “pervasive frat boy workplace culture” to thrive that resulted in women employees being continuously subjected to sexual harassment and being paid less than men. Hodges joins the games giant effective Sept.
Allen Brack, who was named in the California DFEH complaint as among company leaders who were allegedly aware of the misconduct and — despite repeatedly being informed of the problems — “failed to take effective remedial measures in response to these complaints.” Other senior execs who have exited Activision Blizzard in the wake of the lawsuit included Blizzard Entertainment president J.
Activision Blizzard has hired Julie Hodges, a 32-year veteran of the Walt Disney Co., as its chief people officer.
At Activision Blizzard, Hodges will be responsible for the company’s global talent organization, with the mission of making the company "the destination for top talent." In her role, she will lead all aspects of human resources, including diversity, equity and inclusion, talent acquisition, employee experience, learning and development, compensation and benefits, and workforce planning.” />
He is filling the role left vacant after Armin Zerza was promoted to CFO earlier this year. 27. In addition, Activision Blizzard on Tuesday said Sandeep Dube, formerly SVP of revenue management at Delta Airlines, will become chief commercial officer, effective Sept.
“These two outstanding leaders from companies with exceptional reputations will help us achieve our goal of becoming the best company to work for in the entertainment industry while growing our reach, engagement and player investment,” Kotick commented.
In announcing Hodges' hire, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said that “Julie is the seasoned leader we need to ensure we are the most inspiring, equitable and emulated entertainment company in the world.”
In her 32 years at Disney, Hodges led HR for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the company's Talent Acquisition Center of Excellence, HRBP for Worldwide Operations, and Disney University/Learning and Development, Organization Development and Cast Research. Hodges earned a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

(Spears was first placed under conservatorship in 2008 when her father requested the court-ordered arrangement; he has been overseeing her estate since then.) News of Spears’ engagement came just days after her father, Jamie Spears, filed a petition to terminate her conservatorship, signaling the beginning of the end of the pop star’s long, drawn-out legal battle that has lasted 13 years.
Spears has shared the article in the past, which addresses encouraging children to explore their curiosity instead of being taught in more formal ways. She also thanked the #FreeBritney team for its support.
However, regardless of her father’s motivations, Rosengart praised the move as a “massive legal victory” for the star. While Spears’ father has requested to end the conservatorship, the singer’s legal team has never asked the court to terminate it, and her attorney, Mathew Rosengart, has only filed for her father to be removed and suspended.
Celebrities and musicians often delete their social-media accounts either to signal a major new announcement, such as an album, or when they're simply fed up. Reps for Spears did not immediately respond to Variety's requests for comment, but one source downplayed Spears' move as no big deal.
In the since-deleted post, Spears shared an article titled “Infusing education with heart” and then wrote:
"Growing up in a world where basically almost everything I did was controlled by someone else… People need to hear this before it's TOO LATE !!!! "No … I hope this message gets to people who have been confused or manipulated by a system !!!!" Spears wrote in her caption alongside a screenshot of the article. you're not alone and no … you're not crazy !!!! I've waited 13 years and counting for my freedom !!!!!"
Two days after her engagement was revealed, and just days after her father agreed to step down after 13 years as her conservator, Britney Spears posted on Instagram “I've waited 13 years and I’m counting for my freedom,” and then apparently deleted her entire Instagram account.
Spears’ next hearing is set for Sept. 29.” />

Bloys hesitates to compare Marvel Studios’ plans for Disney Plus to WarnerMedia’s DC strategy for HBO Max, but said, “I think they have obviously a big advantage like we do as a company, Marvel for Disney and DC for WarnerMedia, to have access to those characters, those stories, those worlds.”
But I think the subjects that he was examining are really timely. It turned out to be exceptional timing for a show like this. And I think everybody who Mike cast was doing some of their best work.” “You never quite know when it hits the air, when it gets absorbed by culture, is it going to be something people talk about, obsess about?” Bloys said. And then, of course, there’s Mike White’s surprise summer sensation “The White Lotus,” which has been renewed for a second season. “And I think first and foremost, the quality of the work will do that.
"But one thing that Mike does, he moves very quickly. As for the timing for when a second installment might appear: “There's a lot to do, he's got to settle on a location," Bloys said. So we'll see.”” />
Bloys is still vague on why “Lovecraft” won’t continue, but didn't single out the futuristic idea that Green had mapped out online. "Mare" could end up with the opposite fate of “Lovecraft Country,” which led HBO’s count with 18 nominations, including drama series, but did not go forward for a second season, plans for which creator Misha Green later shared on social media.
Bloys said White had an idea for a second season from the very beginning, “and I will say, my initial reaction was basically questioning, ‘How would you do it? How would it work?’ When he told me his ideas at a different resort, I said, 'Oh, okay, that makes perfect sense.' I think anytime you get Mike kind of locked into an idea he's excited about really terrific stuff happens.”
HBO’s “Mare of Easttown” was one of the bright lights for HBO this Emmy season, one reason it’s probably no surprise that HBO and HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys hasn’t closed the door on the idea of bringing back another season of the series that was created by Brad Ingelsby and starring Kate Winslet, also an exec producer on the project.
Much of the initial HBO Max slate was already in place when Bloys took over, but he was there for the successful launch of shows like “Hacks” and “The Flight Attendant.” Asked to describe the difference between HBO and HBO Max shows, Bloys admits that both of those Emmy darlings could have aired on HBO — “a high class and happy problem to have.”
I'm excited to hear and see what they have to say.” “Brad and Kate and the producers are all talking to see if they think there's a place to go,” Bloys revealed to Variety. “I think we'll hear from them in a couple of weeks if they think that it's a story worth telling, and they're excited by.
As for the shutdown on “White House Plumbers,” which wasn’t COVID-related but instead due to an altercation on set between EP David Mandel and a crew member, Bloys would only say that issues “have been resolved.”
So the only grand strategy we had is these are all shows that were going to appear at certain points in 2021, and we just had to get them done in a safe manner as possible. “So to some extent, we are still responding to getting shows back on back online. “The shows should have been on last year,” Bloys said. So here we are, luckily, we got them done and ready to go.” Going into 2022, I feel like we're back up to full capacity.
It was also a successful first full eligibility season for HBO Max, and those combined 130 noms narrowly put HBO/HBO Max above Netflix’s 129 in the Emmy tallies.
17, while “Curb Your Enthusiasm” also returns for Season 11 next month. Heading into fall, Bloys has a crowded deck on tap: “Succession” returns for Season 3 on Oct. Additionally coming this fall is the “Sex and the City” sequel series “And Just Like That.” The hefty fall volume comes as happenstance, given how COVID-19 production delays prevented a sooner return for series like “Succession.”
“Sarah Lancashire is playing Julia Child, and she’s coming for her Emmy, I’m telling you now,” Bloys said. Next year, Bloys said he’s bullish on the returns of “Barry,” “Euphoria,” the second seasons of “The Flight Attendant” and “Hacks,” as well as the premiere of “Peacemaker.” He also pointed to HBO Max’s upcoming “Julia,” based on the life of famed TV chef Julia Child.
But I think ultimately, what matters is the programming and that's not going to change regardless of you know how many nominations we get, or wins." "It's a fun competition," Bloys said. "It's hard competition.
But, it’s a question for me moving forward as to whether we should be inserting ourselves in that count.” “And that’s how we report it out. “We can only go off what we have given from a submission perspective,” he said at the time. How was it reported to us in terms of its platform or its network, etc.
an HBO original. “And when you've got someone like James Gunn who wants to do that, it's a great way to take advantage. Besides “Gossip Girl” and “The Flight Attendant,” Bloys also points to James Gunn’s upcoming DC series “Peacemaker” as an example of an HBO Max original vs. When you think about those shows, they all feel slightly broader than what HBO might typically do.” “That’s a world, specifically DC, that HBO typically wouldn't have done,” he said.
COVID contingencies have been a priority concern over the past year, Bloys said, and it took some time to adjust. It does take longer, it's more expensive. And we don't have to shut down production.” “Last fall, it felt like a kind of gargantuan task to figure out: How are we going to do this? “The sad reality is, having done it now for a while, I do think that we've all learned a lot in terms of how to produce shows in a safer manner. But I will say in terms of dealing with exposure, dealing with cast or crew who have actually gotten it, we've all learned a lot. What happens if somebody tests positive?” he said. I look forward to the day where we don't have to worry about this. How are we going to do it safely?
(When asked about “Euphoria,” he points out that the Zendaya drama is “a much more adult-themed show than ‘Gossip Girl’ is designed to be, especially because it’s centered on addiction.”) But Max is also home to “Gossip Girl,” which is designed to appeal to a much younger demo than HBO.
In this case, we couldn't get there … It has to be something we think makes sense for us. “When you make the decision to not go forward with a show, it's usually a confluence of factors,” he said. “And that was the case here.
Boasting 16 nominations, “Mare” helped the network land a strong 94 noms (along with HBO Max’s 36, making for a combined 130 — more on that in a moment). “Mare of Easttown” and its stars are among the frontrunners in the key limited series categories as the 73rd Emmy Awards take place on Sunday night.
But that combined 130 count caused some raised eyebrows in the industry: Rivals complained that HBO and HBO Max are two different platforms, and should be listed as such. (ABC and Hulu, also now under same management, have their tallies separated out.) TV Academy president Maury McIntyre told Variety in July that HBO and HBO Max were merged in the tally because, quite simply, they asked.
That may come down to casting. “Mike is thinking and possibly writing now.” “Maybe there's a character that pops in here or there, but it's going to be mostly a new cast, new narrative,” he said. The second season “could be somewhere in Europe,” Bloys hinted, and added that it’s still not determined whether “White Lotus” will be classified as a drama or an anthology series.
But newcomers including “Mare,” “Lovecraft Country” and “I May Destroy You” picked up that slack. Given that some of HBO’s most recent Emmy darlings weren’t eligible for consideration this year, including “Succession,” “Barry,” "Westworld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," it wasn’t a given that the pay cabler would have a successful year with voters. This is the first Emmy season for Bloys overseeing HBO and HBO Max original content, having added those duties for WarnerMedia's streamer a little over a year ago.
Bloys said that HBO and HBO Max will continue to submit their Emmy nominations as one combined entity. “To be honest, I was surprised that anybody was surprised that we would ask the TV Academy to count them together,” he said. “It's the same management, same business affairs, same production and HBO shows air day and date on HBO Max… the whole stated purpose of HBO Max, the platform, is to allow HBO to continue to do what it does, and not have to ultimately rely on a linear cable world.”
The show was a spring phenomenon for the premium cabler, a rarity that was universally lauded for its satisfying ending and the kind of series that competitors readily admit they wish was theirs. Another chapter of “Mare” would put it on a growing list of programs that were initially produced as one-offs but continued on as series in success, including PBS’ “Downtown Abbey” and HBO’s own “Big Little Lies.”
Also, there has been no news on a rumored “Harry Potter” series for HBO Max since news broke at the start of the year; according to Bloys, “You haven't heard anything because there's nothing to report on that.”
Other projects on the horizon include the “Game of Thrones” prequel series “House of the Dragon,” which was briefly shut down due to COVID-19 but is back in production — but “nothing to report in that world, other than they are busy shooting,” he said.
He continues: "I don't think it would be fair to point at any one particular thing. I think that the work Misha did, and the recognition that it got, this doesn't change any of that.”

In the photo, Thug is wearing a necklace that reads “Jeffrey,” which refers to his 2016 mixtape of the same name, although perhaps the photo was chosen by Bhasker for other reasons.
 
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The post includes only photos of the two artists and a comment from Bhasker reading “This is happening.”
However, the pandemic gripped North America the following month, and no further updates have been provided. He has since collaborated with or written songs for albums by Halsey, Kesha and Pink, although in February of last year he played a set with his friend Sam Means, with whom he’d formed the Format, his band before Fun., and the pair said they’d be playing a series of shows.
An apparent collaboration between rapper Young Thug and Nate Ruess, Jack Antonoff’s erstwhile collaborator in the Grammy-winning group Fun., was teased on Instagram by super-producer Jeff Bhasker on Tuesday.
Reps for Young Thug and Ruess did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.
Ruess released his debut solo album, “Grand Romantic,” later that year. While Young Thug is one of the most successful rappers working today, with a string of platinum singles like “Go Crazy,” “Hot” and “The London,” although Ruess has kept a lower profile in recent years. Although they had a smash single with “We Are Young” and won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2013, they were more of a side-project for Ruess, Antonoff and Andrew Dost and have not released another album since 2012’s “Some Nights.” The group announced in 2015 that they were not splitting up but were focusing on solo projects.