Sam Smith to Release ‘On the Record’ Documentary on Apple Music – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Four-time Grammy winner Sam Smith will release his sophomore album “The Thrill of It All” on Nov. 3, and on the same day Apple Music will release the latest in its ongoing documentary series based on new albums, “On the Record.” (Watch the trailer below.) In it, Smith reflects on the success of his debut album, “In The Lonely Hour,” and how it’s impacted his life, his work and not least the new album. The film also includes performances and interviews with Smith collaborators Timbaland, Poo Bear and cowriter Jimmy Napes.

Also on Nov. 3, Apple Music and Smith will host a special event for fans in London, where he will the new album at a yet-to-be-disclosed location; Apple Music will also livestream the show.

The concert sounds similar in concept to the tiny shows Smith played last month in New York, Los Angeles, London and Berlin — his goal being to return to the clubs he first played in those cities (New York’s Mercury Lounge reportedly received around 80,000 bids in the lottery on the singer’s website). The format was stripped down R&B, with no percussion other than those finger snaps and occasional tambourine shakes from one of three backup singers. Accompaniment sometimes consisted of solo bass or piano, with things kicking into a higher gear when those instruments were joined by rhythm guitar and cello. Read Variety’s full review of the Los Angeles show right here.



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Starz and Altice Struggle to Reach Carriage Deal – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Starz and Altice USA are going down to the wire on a new carriage agreement that could result in Starz going dark on the cable operator as of Jan. 1.

Starz took ads out in the New York Times and New York Post on Saturday warning Altice subscribers that they could soon lose the pay TV network that is home to “Outlander,” “Power” and other premium dramas. The deal covers all of Altice systems, including its stronghold on Long Island and in Midwestern markets. Altice is the nation’s fourth largest cable operator, with about 4.9 million subscribers across 21 states.

Altice cited declining viewership for Starz on its systems and the fact that Starz has launched a standalone streaming option as reasons for the contract tussle. Starz maintains it has had no trouble reaching new deals with other MVPDs in recent months including the new wave of digital distributors.

“Since our last contract renewal, Starz began offering a direct to consumer streaming service, which drastically changes the value proposition their network provides us and our customers,” Altice said.

“Regardless, Starz is asking for outrageous increases in programming costs and, given the limited viewership of Starz amongst our customer base and the different ways consumers can directly access Starz content, we are working to reach an agreement that is reasonable and reflects the best interests of all our customers.”

Altice maintains that Starz is asking for fee hikes that would require the cable operator to change its customers more for Starz than the price of the standalone service.

Starz asserts that Altice has not been willing to compromise at the negotiating table. Altice warned programmers that it would drive hard bargains on deals when it acquired the former Cablevision and Suddenlink cable systems in 2015 and 2016.

“Starz has been working in good faith to reach a fair and reasonable distribution agreement with the team at Altice in order to continue providing our subscribers with all 17 Starz, Starz Encore and MoviePlex premium channels,” Starz said.

“We’re the second-largest premium pay network and the only premium television content provider focused on creating programming for underserved African American, Latino, female and LGBTQ viewers, with original series like ‘Power,’ ‘Outlander,’ ‘American Gods,’ ‘Ash Vs Evil Dead,’ and hundreds of blockbuster movies. But rather than negotiating in a meaningful way, Altice is demanding a totally unreasonable agreement unlike anything that has previously existed in our longstanding partnership. We urge them to join with us in working to reach an agreement that is fair, reasonable and operates in the best interests of our customers, many of whom cannot otherwise find programming that speaks directly to them.”



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‘Jumanji’ Closes in – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is catching up with Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” as both struggle to dominate the year-end domestic box office.

“The Last Jedi” pulled in about $19 million from 4,232 sites on Friday, with “Jumanji” staking its claim with around $17.8 million from 3,765 locations. “Star Wars’” number marks a 23% drop in revenue from the previous weekend, a relatively small downtick, with 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” having exhibited a 30% third weekend drop and 2016’s “Rogue One” coming in with a 20% decline.

“The Last Jedi” should pass $535 million domestically by the end of the four-day weekend, which will rocket it to just ahead of 2008’s “The Dark Knight” to become the sixth highest grossing film of all time, behind Marvel’s “The Avengers” with $623 million. The new number will also beat out “Beauty and the Beast” as the highest grossing film of 2017.

“Jumanji” has become by far the strongest threat to the “The Last Jedi” since it opened Dec. 20, during the “Star Wars’” second weekend. By the end of 2017, “Jumanji” should bring in around $187 million. The film, a sequel to the 1995 hit, launched amid solid reviews, with an 77% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes, though Variety‘s critic was not so favorable. The movie stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black.

Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 3” is set to come in third place this weekend, closing the year with around $70 million from 3,468 sites. The threequel stars Anna Kendrick, Britney Snow, Rebel Wilson, and Anna Camp in their original roles as the a capella singers face one final competition.

Fox’s “The Greatest Showman” should beat out “Ferdinand” for the weekend, but end up just behind Fox’s animated film cumulatively, with a roughly $53 million year-end total after its second weekend. The Hugh Jackman musical also features Zendaya and Zac Efron and tells the story of the Barnum & Bailey circus. “Ferdinand” is set to round out 2017 in fifth place with nearly $60 million after its third weekend.



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Jay-Z ‘Family Feud’ Video Stars Beyonce – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


As promised, Jay-Z dropped a new video for “Family Feud,” from his eight-times-Grammy-nominated latest album “4:44” at 4:44 p.m. ET on Thursday and the Beyonce-starring video looks likely to light up the internet with chatter deep into New Year’s Day weekend.

Below you can watch a 45-second preview for the clip, but to see the rest you’ll have to go to Tidal, which is offering a free-trial holiday promotion.

Directed by Ava DuVernay, the “Godfather”-esque trailer features Jay walking first with Blue Ivy in a large church, cutting intermittently with love scenes involving an unidentified man and woman. But soon, we see Beyonce in the church, wearing a black, vaguely Pope-ish looking outfit — and the love scene between the two unidentified people suddenly becomes violent as the woman stabs the man in the back. Meanwhile, Jay sits down in what is eventually revealed to be a confessional booth — with Beyonce on the priest’s side, waiting to hear his confession. While the song is generally viewed to be about unity within the hip-hop and black entertainment communities, there are lines related to Jay’s confessions of infidelity elsewhere on the album.

Jessica Chastain, Michael B. Jordan, Thandie Newton, Brie Larson, Rashida Jones, Mindy Kaling, Rosario Dawson, Niecy Nash, and Susan Kelechi Watson are among star-studded cast.

The “Godfather” flashes in the video are no accident, as Jay references the film extensively, particularly Michael and Kay Corleone, the couple at the center of the movie, in the infidelity portion of the song’s lyrics:

“Yeah, I’ll f— up a good thing if you let me
Let me alone, Becky
A man that don’t take care his family can’t be rich
I’ll watch ‘Godfather,’ I miss that whole sh–
My consciousness was Michael’s common sense
I missed the karma that came as a consequence
N—as bustin’ off through the curtains ’cause she hurtin’
Kay losin’ the babies ’cause their future’s uncertain
Nobody wins when the family feuds
We all screwed ’cause we never had the tools.”



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Kenneth Branagh to be Feted at Camerimage, ‘Orient Express’ Opens Festival – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


British actor-director Kenneth Branagh will be feted at Camerimage, a festival that celebrates the art of cinematography. “Murder on the Orient Express,” which Branagh both directed and stars in, will screen after the opening ceremony on Nov. 11.

Branagh will receive two awards at the event: the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award, presented to “versatile actors and actresses who contribute to the art of filmmaking,” according to the fest; and the Cinematographer-Director Duo Award, alongside long-time collaborator Haris Zambarloukos.

Branagh has been nominated for five Oscars, including as a director and lead actor with “Henry V,” and “Hamlet,” for which he received a nomination for adapted screenplay. His most recent nomination was for his supporting role in “My Week with Marilyn.”

As an actor, his roles span war dramas like Bryan Singer’s “Valkyrie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” fantasy epics like “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” horror films like “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” which he also directed, and thrillers like Robert Altman’s “The Gingerbread Man.”

As a director, he has helmed Hollywood blockbusters like “Thor,” “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” and “Cinderella,” as well as indie movies, such as “Dead Again,” “Peter’s Friends,” and several Shakespeare adaptations.

In a statement, the festival said: “The projects in which Kenneth Branagh stars or works on as a director/screenwriter are not only interesting and memorable, but also a wonder to look at. He was always keenly aware of the role of the image in film storytelling, and as a director always tried to work with great cinematographers who he knew could enhance his already strong artistic vision.”

Branagh first worked with Zambarloukos on 2006’s “Sleuth,” when the cinematographer was considered an emerging talent, named as one of Variety’s “10 Cinematographers to Watch.” From then on Zambarloukos has lensed all of the movies directed by Branagh. The duo team again on the upcoming family adventure “Artemis Fowl.”

The 25th edition of Camerimage will be held in Bydgoszcz, Poland from Nov. 11-18. Variety will publish E-Show Dailies, its digital newsletters, at the event.



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Mariah ‘Deserves a Second Chance’ – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


New Year’s Eve in Times Square will be picking up right where America left off last year on Dec. 31 when Mariah Carey takes the stage to perform a medley of hits, including “Hero.” She’s part of the music-heavy lineup for ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest.”

As far as hosts Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy are concerned, inviting the vocal powerhouse back for a do-over after last year’s disaster is an appropriate way to close the book on 2017 and start 2018 anew in line with the theme of this year’s telecast: “Unity.”

“One of the most exciting news stories about New Year’s Eve is giving Mariah Carey that second chance that I think everybody deserves,” McCarthy tells Variety. “The theme this year is ‘Unity.’ I had a moment saying, what do I want my New Year’s Resolution to be, and then I thought about the second chance that we are giving Mariah and I thought that is a really good thing to be an example of on this TV show and carry it forward. I am cheering her on and hoping that she nails it and I think she will.”

McCarthy added that the hopeful theme of Unity is the exact thing needed after a tumultuous 2017 of negativity, and a chance to maybe see some good from the year highlighted as the live telecast ushers in a fresh start.

“Even though a lot of people say, ‘God I can’t wait for 2017 to be over’, there are so many good things that came out of it. Good stories get overshadowed by our anger at the administration or who is not taking a knee and who is standing up,” the SiriusXM host, now in her eighth year in Times Square, says. “I am really looking at 2018 as a time for all of those things to balance out and we can listen to one another. When they told me the theme was Unity, I said God I hope we really celebrate that tonight to introduce it for the next year and say come on you guys, it’s time to listen.”

Adds Seacrest, who is back for his 13th year hosting the program: “We always say when we stop talking at midnight, and you watch the atmosphere and you see the energy and feel the vibrations of Times Square, the one word to describe that moment is unity. I think it would be great to continue throughout the year to have more of that feeling.”

Seacrest added that the timing for the New York lineup — which includes the reunited Sugarland, Camila Cabello, and Nick Jonas — couldn’t be better, as all three have big years ahead of them.

“The timing is really perfect. Nick Jonas has that Golden Globe nomination (for “Home,” from the movie “Ferdinand”) and Camila Cabello has the No. 1 song in the country-five weeks running now. Sugarland is back together. … Then, to have legendary female stars — Mariah and then Britney within a few minutes of each other and Kelly Clarkson in Hollywood … Makes for an amazing night.”

In addition, Lucy Hale will return to host live from New Orleans, this time with Imagine Dragons and Walk the Moon performing, while Seacrest and McCarthy will be joined by Ciara for the Hollywood party. The West Coast broadcast, much of which was pre-taped around the American Music Awards, includes performances by Kelly Clarkson, Kane Brown, Portugal, the Man, BTS, Khalid, Marshmello, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth, Fitz & the Tantrums, Alessia Cara, Alesso, Florida Georgia Line, G-Eazy, Halsey, Bebe Rexha, Hailee Steinfeld, watt and Zedd. Ciara will be taking over for longtime host Fergie, who is set to host the Fox show “The Four,” premiering in January.

“I spoke to Fergie last week and she is doing great and focused on that show and we wish her the best,” says Seacrest. “Ciara is amazing. So talented.”

Adds McCarthy: “She fits in.”

Seacrest says the excitement level is amped this year by the inclusion of Korean Pop band BTS in the lineup.

“I had BTS on my KIIS-FM radio show, and the phone lines were blinking from 2 a.m. in the morning — and they weren’t arriving until 8 in the morning — solid from fans that wanted to speak to them,” he says. “We are excited to have that performance.”

Seacrest arrived at the press junket straight from his gig on “Good Morning America” to take in the famed Waterford Crystal Ball at One Times Square before it’s dropped at midnight.

“Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest” kicks off on Sunday, December 31 at 8 p.m. EST.



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The Beatles’ Ringo Starr, Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb To Be Knighted – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Sir Richard or Sir Ringo? Richard Starkey, better known to the world as Ringo Starr and long considered by many the greatest rock drummer ever, will be knighted in this year’s New Year’s honors, it was officially announced in the UK on Friday. Starr, who is 77, will be knighted for “services to music,” according to the official listing of New Year’s Honours recipients. The honor comes 20 years after his fellow Beatle Paul McCartney became a “Sir” in 1997.

Said Starr to the BBC: “It’s great! It’s an honor and a pleasure to be considered and acknowledged for my music and my charity work, both of which I love. Peace and love.”

Also being honored in Barry Gibb, co-founder of the BeeGees with his late siblings Robin and Maurice. “This is a moment in life to be treasured and never forgotten,” the 71-year-old told the UK’s Press Association. “I want to acknowledge how responsible my brothers are for this honor. It is as much theirs as it is mine.”

Receiving damehood is Darcey Bussell, a judge on the hit British television show “Strictly Come Dancing” and a former dancer with the Royal Ballet.

Starr’s longtime recording engineer Bruce Sugar posted a statement on Facebook shortly after the announcement was made official, writing: “Sir Richard is a constant inspiration for how he lives his life, showing us how to age gracefully in this youth oriented business and how he carries himself with a healthy dose of humility and gratitude and his tireless promotion of peace,love, and goodwill.”

Renowned Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn tells Variety, “More than half a century on, what the Beatles did continues to be magnificent, so it feels right that Ringo has joined Paul in having this significant award in his homeland. (Next, I’m hoping Paul will be elevated to the peerage, to become Lord Allerton.)”

The New Year’s honors are an annual tradition in the UK recognizing men and women in a wide range of fields for their achievements to Britain. These include politics, science, health, education, business and community service. When the Beatles were given the MBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1965, several previous recipients returned their awards as a protest. John Lennon later did a protest of his own in 1969, sending his back accompanied by a letter, which read, “Your Majesty, I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts. It was signed “With Love, John Lennon.” Underneath his signature was typed “John Lennon of Bag.”

Other well-known musicians knighted recently include Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Elton John and Ray Davies.



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Showtime Cancels Jay Pharoah Comedy ‘White Famous’ After One Season – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Showtime has pulled the plug on comedy “White Famous” after one season.

The comedy starring “Saturday Night Live” alum Jay Pharoah drew a small audience of under 2 million viewers in multiplatform airings. Reviews were mostly negative for the series about an African-American comedian struggling to maintain his credibility with his core audience while also striving to crossover into becoming “white famous.”

The series produced by Lionsgate TV was created by Roland Buddy Lewis and Chris Spencer. Tom Kapinos, formerly of Showtime’s “Californication,” served as showrunner. Jamie Foxx was among the executive producers. He made semi-regular appearances on the show as did other prominent comedians.

“White Famous” had an eight-episode run that began in October.



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Alice Eve Talks About Starring in and Producing Her Brother’s Film ‘Bees Make Honey’ – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


“Bees Make Honey,” the stylish debut from writer/director Jack Eve, is a true family affair. His sister Alice Eve (“Star Trek: Into Darkness,” “Black Mirror”) headlines the cast, while their father, Trevor Eve (“Troy”), is featured in a supporting role. Pic mixes 1930s period decor with modern music, flashy photography and energetic editing in a dark comedy. Alice Eve spoke with Variety about her work on “Bees Make Honey.”

How did “Bees Make Honey” originate?

It was born out of my brother’s wild imagination and his love for movies in general. He knows me very well, and knew I’d be well suited to the part. There are bits that are certainly inspired by films we’ve loved, but this is his creation.

What was it like working with your brother considering that it was his feature debut, and you’re one of the producers?

My focus was on giving exactly the performance that he desired to see on screen, and being there for him if he needed anything from a creative standpoint. And as a producer, I was trying to keep the film moving along as efficiently as possible.

Your character in “Bees Make Honey” is fascinating because you play off of the inherently theatrical qualities of the narrative, and yet there’s still a sense of modernity. What was that like for you as an actress?

It was exciting! My greatest joy in life comes from entertaining other people, and making them happy. My character grounds the narrative, especially when it gets stylistically crazy. I’m a big believer in truth, so it’s always about finding the truth in any given scene or moment that appeals to me as an actress.

When did you first get interested in acting? Do you have any favorite films, or movies that have inspired you?

I’m a huge fan of classic cinema, and both of my parents are actors, so it was incredible to have dinnertime conversations about the craft and business, as I was definitely interested early on. I love “Chinatown,” and Faye Dunaway is one of my favorite actresses. I could watch Marilyn Monroe or Carole Lombard any day of the week, and I remember David Lean’s “Summertime” with Katharine Hepburn making a big impression on me when I was younger.

Considering that you’re one of the producers of “Bees Make Honey,” what was the biggest challenge?

We made the film for a half a million pounds [around $664,000], and thanks to an extremely dedicated and passionate crew, we squeezed every dollar for all its worth. There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears on this production, and it was a true collaborative journey to get it made. And when you work with family, emotions are involved and run high, and you don’t want to disappoint anyone. There was a belief in each other that was required. My brother loved everyone on the crew, and nobody got paid their full quote. It’s a labor of love.

 



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The Greatest Geek Moments of 2017 – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


The year of 2017 was a great year for geekdom. Women took center stage thanks to films like “Wonder Woman” and casting change-ups from BBC’s “Doctor Who.” And plenty of classic fan favorites returned (if even for a moment) such as “Twin Peaks,” “Samurai Jack” and even The Dude. Here are our favorite standout genre moments that had us geeking out and getting a little misty-eyed.

11. Kansas opens for “Supernatural”

The Winchester brothers opened the “Supernatural” panel at San Diego Comic-Con with a surprise performance of “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas. The rock anthem has played in every season finale for the series, evolving into a makeshift calling card for the fandom. But only at Comic-Con do rock stars open for demon hunters.

10. Mark Hamill surprises fans at Star Tours

During the height “The Last Jedi” marketing madness the original “Star Wars” Jedi Mark Hamill surprised fans on the rebooted Disneyland ride. Proving once again that Mark Hamill is real life, nerd treasure.

9. “Stranger Things’’ Shannon Purser demands justice for Barb

When “Stranger Things” star Shannon Purser surprised the Duffer brothers at their Comic-Con presentation, the creators had to make good on their promise to deliver “Justice for Barb” in the second season. No thanks to dad bod heart throb David Harbour, who unceremoniously popped the fandom’s bubble by stating that Barb would not be returning to the new episodes. However, justice was both hinted at and (spoiler alert) eventually delivered. RIP Barb.

8. “Rick and Morty” revives McDonald’s Szechan sauce 

After a two-year hiatus, the hit animated television show returned, with a premiere on April Fool’s Day, and included a reference to the McDonald’s Szechuan dipping sauce that was released in 1998 to promote Disney’s “Mulan.” Though McDonald’s seized the opportunity and revived the sauce for an extremely limited one-day run, the event was handled poorly (on both sides). Many participating stores never got shipments or claimed not to even know about the promotion. In the frenzy to try the sauce, thousands of fans nationwide flocked to McDonalds, including some who paid hundreds of dollars for a single packet and one fan who traded their car. Because sometimes when you win, you lose. The fast food restaurant later announced it would bring the sauce back nationwide.

7. “Samurai Jack” returns

The 2003 animated series “Samurai Jack” was resurrected this year for a final season. Now on the Adult Swim programming block, the show was free to depict more violence and explore darker themes. Though the series’ bittersweet ending divided fans and was criticized for feeling rushed, creator Genndy Tartakovsky stood by his decision and said that while the finale could have been longer, he is proud of how the story ended.

6. Jeff Bridges revives The Dude

To honor his “Big Lebowski” co-star John Goodman, Jeff Bridges busted out the Dude’s iconic sweater for the Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony.

5. Leslie Jones recaps “Game of Thrones” 

Game of Thrones” had an insane year of ice dragons and awkward hookups. However, the moment that truly brought all fans together wasn’t the fiery loot train attack, it was Leslie Jones’ recaps. The “Saturday Night Live” comedian’s GOT live-tweets hit zenith levels when “Late Night with Seth Meyers” surprised her with a cameo from Lord Varys (Conleth Hill). It was everything we could have dreamed, especially when she called the actor out for his shady dealings.

4. “Doctor Who” announces Jodie Whittaker as the next Doctor

The 37th season of BBC series “Doctor Who” will finally regenerate the lead into a woman. After twelve official Doctors spanning decades of television, the series announced that actress Jodie Whittaker had been cast as the first-ever female Doctor.

3. The return of “Twin Peaks

After 26 years, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s eternally popular murder mystery drama “Twin Peaks” returned to for a third season. Though the show received high praise, fans should not hold their breath for a fourth season as David Lynch shut down rumors, saying “there’s nothing to talk about.”

2. “Black Panther” cast sees their footage for the first time, flips out

The big standout moment from the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con wasn’t surprise cameo, an exclusive trailer or even a geeky giveaway. The greatest geek moment from the epic genre fest was delivered thanks to a shocked “Black Panther” cast. Gathered in front of the crowds of Hall H, the crew couldn’t help but react with sheer joy after a reel of never-before-seen-footage screened. It’s so rare that the fans get to share something with those that actually make the content, but honestly it seemed like the cast was having an even better time than their audience.

1. Wonder Woman Meets Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins reclaimed time for women heroes at the start of the summer with “Wonder Woman.” The box office smash not only demonstrated that an action film directed by a woman could make significant cash, but that a woman-fronted superhero picture could connect with fans (and critics). But even bigger than dollar signs or accolades was the impact the representation had for fans everywhere. And that reality was reflected at Comic-Con when the littlest Wonder Woman shared an emotional moment with the real life star.



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