Stewart Lupton, Singer of NYC Band Jonathan Fire Eater, Dead at 43 – Variety


Stewart Lupton, singer of ‘90s rock band Jonathan Fire*Eater, died Sunday at the age of 43, a family member confirmed to Pitchfork. No official cause of death has been announced.

While relatively unknown these days, Jonathan Fire*Eater were arguably the first of the wave of rock bands that burst out of New York in the late 1990s and early ‘00s and helped pave the way for the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, TV on the Radio and others.

Originally from Washington, D.C., the bandmembers moved to New York and released a self-titled EP in 1995; an album and series of singles followed. At the time the New York rock scene — and alternative music in general — were in a recession from the grunge explosion of the early 1990s, and Jonathan Fire*Eater was one of the few signs of life in the late 1990s. A fierce bidding war ensued and the group ended up signing with Dreamworks SKG, the then-new entertainment company formed by Hollywood moguls Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

However, the group’s sound, driven by Lupton’s drawling vocals and Walter Martin’s droning keyboards, didn’t really fit in with any genre at the time, and signing with a new label, even one owned by billionaires, is always a gamble; internal troubles compounded the problems. The group released one album on Dreamworks, “Wolf Songs for Lambs,” in 1997 and split the following year. Three of the bandmembers — Martin, Paul Maroon and Matt Barrick — formed The Walkmen, which became another key band of the New York rock scene of the early ‘00s and released several albums before going on hiatus in 2013.

Lupton moved back to Washington D.C. to study poetry at George Washington University, eventually forming a new band, Child Ballads. In 2009, he released an EP called “A Little Give and Take” as part of a project called the Beatin’s, but his post-Fire*Eater work drew marginal attention.

“We had played some small show in D.C., and I went online to find some reviews, and all these people were like, ‘What the f— happened to that guy?’” Lupton told the New York Post in 2005 as he was attempting a comeback. “And there were rumors … it was like reading about a ghost. One said, ‘I heard he died.’” He pauses. “That s — has an impact on a person. All the speculations about my psychological well-being – I reached a point where I had to assert the fact that I breathed! And that I was, in fact, making music again.”

However, Jonathan Fire*Eater received its proper due in Lizzy Goodman’s sprawling 2016 oral history of the early ‘00s New York scene, “Meet Me in the Bathroom,” which essentially begins with a chapter on the group and its lasting influence.



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Iuzzini’s Actions Hurt All of Us – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Vallery Lomas, the winner of Season 3 of “The Great American Baking Show,” addressed the show’s sudden cancellation after allegations of sexual harassment against one of its judges, Johnny Iuzzini, in a Facebook Live video Thursday.

“It’s important that we take a moment — our society has a moment to heal from this because the actions of Johnny, not only have they hurt the women that were in the kitchen with him, but it has spread to the other contestants, the crew, and myself,” Lomas said. “His actions have caused us harm as well by us not having a chance to continue to share our love of baking with all of you.”

The third season of the baking series was canceled just one week after its Dec. 7 premiere when four additional women came forward to accuse Iuzzini of sexual harassment in mid-December. The pastry chef had already been accused by four of his former employees of harassment and abuse in a report from Mic a few weeks prior.

“Unfortunately, because of the actions of Johnny Iuzzini, we are not able to broadcast the show as was originally planned,” Lomas explained.

She continued that she could relate to the women who came forward on a personal level, having experienced harassment and “disrespectful comments and…the pain those comments and actions can cause” firsthand.

“The show being pulled — it was a small road bump and if that’s something that I have to shoulder and the other contestants have to shoulder so that we can stand around this issue and make sure that this is something that gets addressed and that women in this country and in our society have safe spaces, then that’s something we gladly bear,” she said.

Rather than airing the remaining episodes, “The Great American Baking Show” posted a minute-and-a-half-long video to its Facebook page showing highlights of Lomas’ time on the show and ending with her winning the contest.

ABC released a statement at the time of the show’s cancellation, which reads, “In light of allegations that recently came to our attention, ABC has ended its relationship with Johnny Iuzzini and will not be airing the remainder of ‘The Great American Baking Show’ episodes. ABC takes matters such as those described in the allegations very seriously and has come to the conclusion that they violate our standards of conduct. This season’s winner will be announced at a later date. Episodes of ‘The Great Christmas Light Fight’ and ‘CMA Country Christmas’ will take its place this week and next.”

Based on the U.K. predecessor’s format, “The Great American Baking Show” was set for a three-week run on ABC. Celebrity chef Paul Hollywood, who also judged “The Great British Baking Show,” assessed the bakers alongside Iuzinni, with Ayesha Curry and Spice Adam hosting.



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Paramount’s Soria, Disney ‘Solo’s’ Bredow to Speak – Variety


Mireille Soria, president of Paramount Pictures Animation, and Rob Bredow, visual effects supervisor and co-producer for Disney’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” will deliver keynote addresses at the VIEW Conference 2018 in Turin, Italy. The conference takes place from Oct. 22-26.

Animation veteran Soria was tapped to run Paramount’s animation division last year after serving as co-president of feature animation at DreamWorks Animation, shepherding such films as “Trolls” and “The Boss Baby.” Among the upcoming animated fare planned by Paramount are the third SpongeBob SquarePants movie “It’s a Wonderful Sponge” and the adaptation of the graphic novel “Monster on the Hill,” both slated for 2020, as well as the pickup from Skydance Media, “Luck,” about the ongoing battle between good and bad fortune that affects people’s lives on a daily basis.

In addition to his duties as visual effects supervisor on “Solo,” which was released on May 25, Bredow was recently named senior vice resident, executive creative director and head of Industrial Light & Magic, putting him in charge of all four of ILM’s global studios.

In addition to Soria and Bredow, other confirmed speakers so far include Pacific Data Images co-founder Glenn Entis; Ralph Eggleston, production designer, and Bill Watral, VFX supervisor for Pixar’s “Incredibles 2”; Jay Worth, VFX supervisor for HBO’s “Westworld”; and Jan-Bart Van Beek, Guerrilla Games’ studio art director.

The VIEW Conference, a key event for computer graphics, interactive and immersive storytelling, animation, visual effects, games, VR, AR and mixed reality, is open for registration. The confab features keynote addresses, talks, presentations and workshops.

The VIEW also features a short film competition.



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Wes Anderson’s Dippy, Delightful Canine Romp – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Say “Isle of Dogs” fast and it comes out sounding an awful lot like “I Love Dogs” — which makes sense, since that’s pretty much the chief takeaway from Wes Anderson’s delightful new animated feature. A winningly dippy hodgepooch of lo-fi sci-fi, band-of-outsiders adventure and the most meme-ready canine antics you’ll find outside of YouTube, this leisurely tale of abandoned mutts taking on a corrupt human government is effectively puppy-treat cinema: small, salty, perhaps not an entire meal, but rewarding nonetheless.

More than any part of its slender, precarious narrative, “Isle of Dogs” is really a film about its own enthusiasms: for four-legged fleabags of all shapes and sizes, of course, but also for the culture and cinema of Japan, which is woven with typical fastidiousness into Anderson’s magpie aesthetic. That makes it a markedly more eccentric proposition than Anderson’s first feature-length foray into stop-motion, 2009’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” — and with a PG-13 rating for its dry adult comedy, mostly played in a limbo-low key, a niche commercial prospect, too. The Anderson faithful will be tickled pink as a newborn pup, as will voters for year-end animation awards; the palpable spirit of affection driving proceedings, meanwhile, will have to be the film’s chief defense against charges of cultural appropriation.

Only the most churlish, however, could deny the film’s achievement as a dizzy feat of world-building. Given the heightened complexity of Anderson’s cinematic environments, with their whirligig detailing and multitude of moving parts, animation was always a logical sidestep for America’s most artisanal auteur, and “Isle of Dogs” doubles down on the nook-and-cranny meticulousness and mechanism fetish of “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Even the garbage in each frame — of which there is plenty, the film’s chief setting being a less-than-salubrious enclave called Trash Island — looks hand-picked by production designers Adam Stockhausen (as essential here as he was to the success of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Moonrise Kingdom”) and Paul Harrod.

If mounds of garbage aren’t quite what viewers have come to associate with Planet Wes, the slight scuzziness of “Isle of Dogs” is its great surprise: From the occasional eye-watering blurriness of its fast tracking shots to the loopy, laissez-faire nature of its storytelling, the whole enterprise might just be as messy as the director lets himself get. Beginning with the introductory on-screen explanation that only the canine characters’ dialogue will be delivered directly in English, while humans will speak simultaneously translated Japanese (essentially a strained setup for the film’s lone American, and most extraneous, character), “Isle of Dogs” revels in its own knowingly silly convolutions.

Set “before the age of obedience,” and exquisitely animated in the style of historical woodcuts, a quick, droll prologue establishes the supposed history of how cats became the dominant pet in Japanese society; cut to the near feature, in the imaginary metropolis of Megasaki, and it seems every dog truly has had its day. Blamed by the administration of despotic mayor Kobayashi (voiced by co-writer Konichi Nomura) for a mass flu outbreak, the entire canine species is summarily banished to the offshore dumping ground of Trash Island, where surviving mongrels snarlingly duel over fetid scraps; first on the exile list is Spots (Liev Schreiber), the loyal, loving watchdog of the equally devoted Atari (Koyu Rankin), Kobayashi’s orphaned 12-year-old nephew.

While other residents of Megasaki apparently adapt quickly to their new, houndless existence, plucky Atari won’t give up so easily: This being a Wes Anderson film, and an animated one at that, he naturally commandeers a vintage biplane and crash-lands on the wretched isle to find his dog. (If there’s a half-cocked Antoine de Saint-Exupéry reference in his subsequently being labeled “the little pilot,” that makes as much sense as anything in this ragtag, near-apocalyptic world.) Spots is nowhere to be found, but a motley pack of gossiping mutts — voiced with varying degrees of dolefulness by Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum and Bob Balaban — take the kid under their collective paw, as a haphazard search leads to an even more addled escape mission. But it’s the wary outlier of the group, gruff habitual stray Chief (a perfectly hangdog Bryan Cranston) who improbably emerges as boy’s best friend.

Synopsized in this fashion, “Isle of Dogs” sounds practically Pixar-esque as a traditional quest narrative, but the licked-clean bones of its plot don’t really do justice to what a genuinely strange, circuitous film this is, its magic largely contained in its lulls and digressive vignettes. Anderson is happy to place the hijinks on pause for a long, mutually seductive nighttime dialogue between Chief and high-pedigree bitch Nutmeg (Scarlett Johansson) — a scene that plays like “Lady and the Tramp” as redrafted by Raymond Chandler — and the film is all the more beguiling for such curiosities.

It’s when it sticks to the story, oddly, that “Isle of Dogs” is likelier to bark up the wrong tree. Though the film’s human drama is plainly intended to be chillier than its more vibrant canine goings-on, any time spent away from the eponymous isle passes rather too slowly. A scattily joined subplot centered on American exchange student Tracy (Greta Gerwig), who persuades her more compliant Japanese peers to rise up in protest against Kobayashi’s dictatorship, skates a little too close to white-savior territory in a film that some will already have placed on thin ice for its ornate cherry-blossom-picking of Japanese culture and iconography. As with Pixar’s recent “Coco,” however, there’s subjective leeway in the argument over appreciation versus appropriation.

Either way, Anderson’s Japanophilia is intricately expressed, as present in the film’s unexpected, tensely deliberate pacing — in which the director’s professed debt to Kurosawa doesn’t feel as far-fetched as it sounds. It’s more blatant in Alexandre Desplat’s wonderfully sparse, louring score, which sounds like precisely nothing else the melodically inclined Frenchman has ever composed before — setting the whole film on edge, the soundtrack blends a steady tremble of Taiko drumming with, of all things, the occasional interpolation of Prokofiev’s “Troika.” “Why not?” appears to have been the guiding principle behind much of “Isle of Dogs,” and it serves the film well more often than not.

But it’s no surprise that Anderson is most sure-footed with his canine puppet ensemble: From the top dogs down to Tilda Swinton’s oracle pug — four words that might require explanation in any other filmmaker’s universe — every beast here is characterfully conceived, rendered with rich, tactile manginess, and observed with a loving dogoisseur’s eye for behavioral detail. The imaginative leap from puppet to pup is an easy one to take here: By the time the closing credits waggishly list a previously unheard Anjelica Huston as “Mute Poodle,” we’re inclined to take this lovably mad film at its word.

Berlin Film Review: Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’

Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (opener, competing), Feb. 15, 2018.

Production:
(Animated — U.S.-Germany) A Fox Searchlight Pictures, Indian Paintbrush presentation of an American Empirical Pictures production in association with Studio Babelsberg Film. Producers: Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson. Executive producers: Christopher Fisser, Henning Molfenter, Charlie Woebcken. Co-producer: Octavia Peissel.

Crew:
Director: Wes Anderson. Screenplay: Anderson, from a story by Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Kunichi Nomura. Camera (color, widescreen): Tristan Oliver. Animation director: Mark Waring. Editors: Andrew Weisblum, Ralph Foster, Edward Bursch. Music: Alexandre Desplat.

With:
Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Liev Schreiber, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Koyu Rankin, Greta Gerwig, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Kunichi Nomura, Frances McDormand, Yoko Ono, Akira Takayama, Akira Ito, Harvey Keitel, Ken Watanabe, Fisher Stevens, Mari Natsuki, Nijiro Murakami, Courtney B. Vance. (English, Japanese dialogue)



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Jeff Glor’s Run on ‘CBS Evening News’ to Start December 4 – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


CBS News has set Monday, December 4, as the start date for the next era of “CBS Evening News.”

The network has begun to run promos for Glor’s soon-to-start tenure, which is expected to make the evening-news broadcast more a part of CBS News’ digital efforts and place more emphasis on a group of CBS News correspondents who will appear regularly on the evening broadcast.

Glor inherits a broadcast that has remained in third place behind ABC’s “World News Tonight” and NBC’s “NBC Nightly News” in both overall audience and the viewership most desired by advertisers in news programming, people between 25 and 54. He takes the reins from Scott Pelley, who inherited the desk from Katie Couric (and Bob Schieffer, who filled in for a period). CBS earlier this year assigned Pelley to work full-time at “60 Minutes” – he had for several years split his attention between the Sunday newsmagazine and the evening broadcast – in an effort to find new ways to goose the audience for the venerable weekday evening program. Anthony Mason has served as interim anchor for “CBS Evening News.”

Glor has been part of CBS News for the past decade, serving at times as an anchor on weekends of the evening newscast, at a previous iteration of CBS’ morning programming, and on CBSN, the news unit’s streaming service.

Glor joins the evening-news race at a time when the format’s relevance is constantly being called into question. More viewers who might normally tune into a wrap up of the day’s most important events are not able to tune in when the broadcasts are on, thanks to longer working hours and the commutes that accompany them.  Average viewership for the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts was roughly flat in 2016, down 1% from the year-earlier period to about 23.75 million, according to Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen data. In 2008, that figure stood at 27.77 million. Even so, the three broadcasts capture a significant chunk of audience. For any network, 24 million people, or a portion of it, is nothing to dismiss.

Glor, 42 years old, has in recent months reported from Alaska, covering permafrost degradation, and in Jackson, WY, to cover the recent solar eclipse. He has filed from earthquake-torn Haiti, in Iraq while embedded with the U.S. military and from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Before joining CBS News, Glor was the weekend evening news anchor and a weekday reporter for WHDH-TV Boston, and prior to that, worked as an anchor and reporter for  WSTM-TV in Syracuse.



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Romanian Actor Vlad Ivanov on Seeking Out Roles with Fresh Challenges – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Romanian actor Vlad Ivanov is known to many abroad for his role as the amoral underground abortionist in “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” the 2007 Cristian Mungiu film that heralded the country’s New Wave when it won in Cannes. The stage and film performer, who serves on this year’s Transilvania Intl. Film Festival main prize jury, is these days transitioning into international work with the likes of Jim Carrey (“Dark Crimes”) and with a leading role in “Sunset,” the new film by Oscar-winner Laszlo Nemes (“Son of Saul”). For Ivanov, it’s all about roles with new challenges, he tells Variety.

When you’re viewing a film as a jury member are you focused mainly on the actors’ performances?
No, with this jury it’s very cool because we can discuss script, acting, directors…

What do you seek out in the roles you take on for yourself?
When a director proposes to me being in a film, the first thing I tell him is, “Just give me the script.” And if the script is great, I will accept. Of course the director is important too and the cast. And it does not depend on how big my part is in the film. I really want to be in a part that is powerful and which comes from very deep inside. Even if it’s just in a sequence, it’s okay for me. I don’t want to play only the main characters.

In “Child’s Pose,” the 2013 Berlinale winner and a searing portrait of corruption, your character accepts a bribe to help hush up manslaughter. You’re not on screen for long but you establish quickly a kind of naked opportunism.
Yes, I like these roles very much – everyone asks me, “Why do you play only negative characters?” Of course we can generally say these are negative characters. But for me it’s very, very separate – there’s not only one way to do a character. I try every time to be very different and the first time I talk with my character I think of how to “save” them. I don’t want to put them down. I don’t like only one dimension. I try to find other dimensions and completely different ones from the last “bad” character.

When playing Bebe, the back-street abortionist in “4 Months,” were you drawing on people you had encountered while living under the pre-1989 regime?
Of course he existed in Ceausescu’s time and I tried to respect the era. For this we talked to a lady who had been to a lot of abortions and I was shocked when she told me, “You know, an abortion is not like a big deal. It’s something very simple.” She talked in a very simple, normal way and I took this way of talking for my character, and it was really very scary. Like you’re talking about buying some chocolate or a Coca-Cola.

Many actors from Eastern Europe come from a theater tradition and continue in both stage and film – was this a tough transition for you?
Yes, a lot of actors came from theater, including me. It was great for me when I was in university from 1991 to 1995. I had a chance to be in a lot of co-productions – American, English… I had the chance to be off-camera and see how actors from Hollywood, from London, performed. And this was the school for me and for a lot of Romanian actors.

Are your sights set on working more and more abroad?
Yeah, I just did a role in with Laszlo Nemes, the director of “Son of Saul,” in “Sunset,” his next production. We’ll see what happens. And a year and a half ago I was in a production with Jim Carey, “Dark Crimes,” and in “Snowpiercer” with Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Ed Harris, which is great. I really learned something – really great actors have two qualities: They are very normal and kind, and are also very serious and professional.

Do you worry you’ll be type cast as the Russian spy or the Eastern European drug dealer as so many great actors from this region are?
Yes, I think it’s because of the accent when speaking English. But I had the chance to meet a great casting director from Hollywood. And she told me, “Don’t try to come to England or the U.S. to try to learn English without an accent. We love you for your accent and first of all for your talent. If you do something important in your country, we really know and we need you.”



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‘Killing Eve’ Creator Reflects on First Season, Talks Crafting Finale – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “God, I’m Tired,” the first season finale of “Killing Eve” that aired Sunday, May 27.

Putting its titular MI5 agent Eve (Sandra Oh) and assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) in the same space as each other midway through its first season, “Killing Eve” all but guaranteed an even bigger face-off by finale. In many ways, it was like Chekov’s gun. Seeds of chemistry were planted, but the bigger threat loomed for weeks as the first short season moved through the story fast, creating a two-way cat-and-mouse chase as Eve caught onto Villanelle but Villanelle also caught onto Eve.

“Every moment in this show exists so that these two women can end up alone in a room together,” “Killing Eve” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge tells Variety. “Really it would have been a betrayal to the audience if they didn’t come together in the end.”

Waller-Bridge shares that she wanted that initial meeting to occur early in the season so that the next one would be “forcibly more complex.” But, she adds, she purposely designed it to be “more like a tricky second date” than a “big, exploding set-piece.” After all, as the women chased each other, their emotions toward each other became confusing and complicated.

Because of this, Waller-Bridge says that while she was building Eve to get to a moment of violence, “it took me a while to work out that Villanelle would be on the receiving end of it.” Eve herself took a moment to work towards that as well. But ultimately Waller-Bridge felt Eve had to take action and stab Villanelle because “it prompted an impulsive, gleeful ‘Noooooooo!’ reaction” from herself and her team when she thought of it.

“Usually turns into a ‘Yeesssssss!’ when finding the right story. I love it when those moments land. They seem so obvious once you get there, but they can take a while to blossom,” she admits.

Still, Waller-Bridge adds she “wasn’t entirely sure” what should happen next. So she sat down to work through the scene with star Oh.

“That moment of ‘saving her’ came out of a wine-fueled, after-dinner spontaneous workshop of the scene with Sandra,” Waller-Bridge reveals. “Sandra and I were acting it out across my kitchen table… We mimed her stabbing me and then pulling the knife out… Then we both froze for a second, just feeling out what might happen next, then we suddenly both covered the imaginary wound at the same time and looked at each other utterly mortified — just like we believed Eve would once she took a second to realize what she had done.”

In fact, Waller-Bridge says that a lot of the first season was inspired by her stars.

“Sandra vibrates with intelligence. This meant that we could afford to leave Eve’s lightbulb moments to live in the subtly of Sandra’s performance. There’s a line she has, which is simply ‘I don’t like him’ about Konstantin. We don’t need to explain why. Sandra can convey so much with very little. We can believe in Eve’s intuition because Sandra imbues the character with such unselfconscious intelligence. It gave me more confidence to be sparse with her lines. She can also flip between comedy and drama brilliantly. That’s hugely fun to write for!” she says.

As for Comer, Waller-Bridge says she “just got bolder and wilder with Villanelle as the shooting went on. She filled that character to the brim. Having full faith that you can write something completely insane and your actress will ground it and make it feel real, is a very liberating feeling.”

Waller-Bridge compares the moment after Eve stabs Villanelle to “the moment after someone sleeps with someone they know they shouldn’t have.”

“They lose your mind in the headiness, they just go for it, then after they’ve actually put it in and taken it out again, so to speak, there’s the sobering moment of ‘Oh God what have I done!?’” she says.

But as dark and serious as Eve’s actions were at the end — punctuated by the fact that Villanelle escaped and may be more focused on the fact that Eve stabbed her, rather than that Eve tried to help her after she stabbed her — “Killing Eve” delivered a lot of humor this season, too.

Waller-Bridge believes such lightheartedness is vital in any show because it’s “tied up with pathos and is as usefully disarming as it is entertaining.” In the case of “Killing Eve,” she also thinks it helped her audience root for Villanelle — “because she makes them laugh.”

“It forgives a thousand murders!” she says.

But more importantly, Waller-Bridge was focused on creating witty characters because that would both ground some of the humor but also help celebrate their quirks. “You don’t often see a cross section of female characters interacting with each other at the top of a chain,” she says. “These little twists can refresh an old trope in a matter of seconds.”

Reflecting more generally on the season as a whole, Waller-Bridge says it was imperative to move the story fast because “the audience deserves to go on a ride.”

“So much TV is drawn out. I wanted things to actually happen in this show. I think audiences can feel when they’re being served a filler episode. We were determined not to fall into that trap,” she says. “Mainly it’s about keeping the element of surprise. It’s already surprising that it’s women chasing women…but on top of that, the story had to keep evolving in unexpected ways.”

And the first finale ending is just the start of that evolution, as “Killing Eve” has already been renewed for a second season. With Villanelle no longer in Eve’s line of sight, the possibilities for where the show — and the women’s relationship — can go are vast.

“She has crossed a line with Villanelle and with herself,” Waller-Bridge says of Eve. “I think both are threats to Eve going forward. There is no question that she will be haunted in some way by both from this moment on.”



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Glen Keane Directing Animated Movie ‘Over the Moon’ – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Glen Keane will direct Pearl Studio’s animated “Over the Moon” as a world premiere film exclusively for Netflix.

Tuesday’s announcement was made jointly by Peilin Chou, chief creative officer of Pearl Studio, and Melissa Cobb, vice president of kids and family for Netflix.

“Over the Moon” is a musical adventure feature film about a girl who builds a rocket ship and blasts off to the moon in hopes of meeting a legendary Moon Goddess. The film will be released in 2020 theatrically in China and by Netflix around the world.

Keane and retired basketball superstar Kobe Bryant have been nominated for an Oscar for the animated short film “Dear Basketball,” based on a letter Bryant wrote in the Players’ Tribune in 2015, in which he announced his retirement from basketball. Keane, whose animation credits include “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” directed and used hand-drawn animation to capture Bryant.

Keane also animated Elliott the Dragon in “Pete’s Dragon” and was responsible for the climactic bear showdown in “The Fox and the Hound.” In 2012, he left Disney to form Glen Keane Productions.

“Over the Moon” is written by Audrey Wells, produced by Gennie Rim (who also produced “Dear Basketball”), and executive produced by Janet Yang (“Joy Luck Club”). Songs will be written by Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield, and Helen Park.

“I am powerfully drawn to characters who believe the impossible is possible,” said Keane. “‘Over the Moon’ has just such a heroine as its centerpiece. The compelling script by Audrey Wells has tremendous heart and humor that called to me and I had to respond. I’m honored to bring this story to life alongside my producer Gennie Rim. We are both looking forward to creating a wonderful film and partnership with Melissa Cobb at Netflix and Peilin Chou at Pearl Studio.”

Shanghai-based Pearl Studio is currently in production on “Everest,” to be released worldwide through Universal Pictures in 2019. Within China, it will be distributed by Pearl Studio. The company was previously operated as a joint venture known as Oriental DreamWorks, which co-produced “Kung Fu Panda 3” as the first American-Chinese animated co-production.



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A Star Wars Story’ Struggles Internationally – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Solo: A Star Wars Story” is struggling in a galaxy not so far away.

The Han Solo origin film began its international run with a dismal $65 million this weekend. Its three-day domestic total of $84 million and four-day estimate of $101 million would bring “Solo’s” worldwide launch to $148 million.

“Solo” is currently tracking the lowest opening for a “Star Wars” movie. The most recent “Star Wars” installment, “The Last Jedi,” opened internationally in December 2017 with $230 million and went on to generate $712 million overseas. “Rogue One” — the first standalone “Star Wars” anthology film — debuted in 2016 with an international total of $134 million. It ultimately earned $523 million overseas.

The United Kingdom leads “Solo’s” overseas market with $10.3 million, followed by China with $10.1 million, Australia with $5 million, and Germany with $4.3 million. Other key territories include France ($3.9 million), Russia ($3.6 million), Spain ($2.6 million), Mexico ($2.5 million), and Italy ($2.2 million). “Solo” opens next weekend in Croatia and Trinidad. The only key market it didn’t launch in is Japan, where it bows on June 29.

“Solo” follows Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo, who befriends his future co-pilot and Wookiee companion Chewbacca, and meets the gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). Ron Howard directed from a screenplay by Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan. Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Joonas Suotamo, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge also star.

Meanwhile, “Avengers: Infinity War” earned $32.5 million in 36 territories over the three-day weekend. Combined with its three-day domestic total of $16.5 million, Disney and Marvel’s blockbuster global weekend total nears $49 million. Its four-day holiday weekend estimate looks to hit $20 million. “Infinity War’s” global tally is on track for $1.9 billion in its fifth weekend.



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