‘Heroin(e)’ Shows What’s Missing In Addressing Opioid Epidemic – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


WASHINGTON — The new Netflix documentary “Heroin(e)” follows three women as they try to address the opioid epidemic in their own community of Huntington, W. Va.

The city has been dubbed the overdose capital of America, as over the past five years the problem “has kind of snowballed,” Jan Rader, the Huntington fire chief, tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM.

“We knew we had to do something,” Rader said.

She is one of the women profiled in the film, along with Drug Court Judge Patricia Keller and Necia Freeman, a realtor who runs a ministry for sex workers. All three women have deployed humane approaches to addressing the epidemic that focus on not giving up on those in the throes of heroine addiction. The film also features the stories of addicts who “graduate” from Keller’s court, in which she applies a mixture of strict instruction and compassion.

Elaine McMillion Sheldon, the director of the movie, said that in starting out, she wasn’t aware of “how our war on drugs is potentially starting to change, with people having more empathy. This is a new conversation to care about, to not just lock up someone and call him a criminal but to actually care about this thing they are suffering from.”

Rader said that emergency personnel respond to about five overdoses a day. The Huntington fire department this year has responded to 1,204 overdoses, a high figure for a city of 49,000. There have been about 1,800 county-wide.

“We don’t treat people poorly for eating a whole cake, and having a diabetic emergency because of it, so why are we treating people poorly who relapsed and overdosed?” Rader says. “It just doesn’t make sense. We as a society need to change the way we look at this. We need to lift people up. Kindness has fallen by the wayside.”

President Trump has declared the opioid crisis to be a national emergency, but Rader says that it remains to be seen whether that will translate into funding for such things as drug courts in other communities.

Listen here, starting at the 39:15 mark.

PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs from 2-3 p.m. ET/11 a.m.-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. 



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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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Fox Launches ‘9-1-1’ Campaign for Southern California First Responders – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


In light of the recent wildfires ravaging Southern California, Fox show “9-1-1” is honoring real-life first responders.

The drama, which follows police, paramedics and firefighters facing emergency situations, has teamed up with the Los Angeles Fire Department and National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to raise money and awareness for first responders affected by the fires. Fox will donate $5 for every retweet to the Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and will match up to $10,000 donated to the group as part of the “9-1-1 Hometown Hero Sweepstakes,” where fans submit stories along with a donation.

The show’s stars, including Angela Bassett, Peter Krause and Connie Britton, are featured in PSAs thanking first responders for their work, particularly in the Thomas Fire, which is California’s largest blaze to date. The clips will air on Fox and across social media when “9-1-1” premieres on Jan. 3.

“To all of our real life responders, I just want to say thank you,” Bassett, who is also an executive producer on the show, says in the PSA. “Thank you for being that voice of reason, that voice of comfort.”

Along with the Twitter donation program, Fox is holding screenings of the show on the studio’s lot for Los Angeles-based firefighters and their families. Holiday food deliveries to Los Angeles fire stations and first responder units have also been arranged by Fox.




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