Weinstein Co. Sued Over $1.3 Million AmEx Balance – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine

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The unpaid bills continue to pile up for the Weinstein Co., as American Express filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming it is owed $1.4 million.

The Weinstein Co. is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, as talks with potential buyers Ron Burkle and Maria Contreras-Sweet broke down over the weekend. The company is also facing suits from various other business partners, including a Canadian film distributor and a manufacturer of chocolate truffles.

According to the latest suit, the Weinstein Co. has refused to pay the balance on his charge account. As a result, AmEx has suspended the company’s corporate credit cards.

AmEx referred the claim to an outside collections attorney, Lawrence Nessenson of Jaffe & Asher LLP. The complaint was filed in New York Superior Court. It alleges breach of contract and unjust enrichment, and seeks court costs in addition to the unpaid balance of $1,380,281.14.

The Weinstein Co. has said that it is drafting the documents to file for bankruptcy, though insiders say it has enough cash in the bank to continue to make payroll for another several weeks. Employees have been told that the company is continuing to pursue potential transactions, which could avert bankruptcy.

The company did not immediately respond to the lawsuit.

American Express Weinstein by gmaddaus on Scribd

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Breaking Down Each Category – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine

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The 90th annual Academy Awards will draw the 2017 film year to a close on Sunday, March 4. Some races are foregone conclusions, while others are coming down to the wire. Whatever happens isn’t likely to live up to the drama of last year’s Oscar denouement, but many questions won’t be answered until the (hopefully correct) envelopes are opened.

Here are In Contention’s final picks in all categories. Tune in this weekend to see how right (or wrong) we were.

Best Picture
This is one of the tightest best picture races we’ve seen in years. Five films feel like they have a shot at it. The left-field spoiler might be “Dunkirk,” which has quite a foothold in the below-the-line ranks, particularly in Los Angeles. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is a popular pick after Screen Actors Guild and British Academy dominance, but its divisive nature could hurt it on the preferential ballot. “Get Out” and “Lady Bird,” meanwhile, are both beloved movies that ought to perform well. But “The Shape of Water” truly makes the most rational sense, given its crafts footprint and strong performance with producers and directors guild victories.
Will win:The Shape of Water
Could win: “Dunkirk”
Should have been here: “A Ghost Story”

Directing
Del Toro has seemingly had this wrapped up for quite a while now, taking the most critics’ prizes, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA award. If there’s a spoiler, it could be Christopher Nolan for the controlled chaos of “Dunkirk.” But things have seemed perfectly aligned in this category going into the Oscars ceremony for a number of years now, and this season is no different.
Will win: “The Shape of Water” (Guillermo del Toro)
Could win: “Dunkirk” (Christopher Nolan)
Should have been here: “A Ghost Story” (David Lowery)

Actor in a Leading Role
Oldman is another contender that has had it in the bag since early on, for a performance that ticks every single Academy box. There’s very little to add at this point.
Will win: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Could win: Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Should have been here: Christian Bale, “Hostiles”

Actress in a Leading Role
The lead actress field felt far more competitive than lead actor in the early stages, but in due time McDormand took charge in a film that has considerable fans. If anyone had a real shot at it otherwise it might have been Ronan in a film that could very well go home empty-handed when all is said and done. Sally Hawkins, who was the critics’ circuit champ, could be a lurker for “The Shape of Water,” and in another universe is no doubt the odds-on favorite for her silent performance. But McDormand is an easy choice for voters to make, so expect it.
Will win: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Could win: Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Should have been here: Emma Stone, “Battle of the Sexes”

Actor in a Supporting Role
Right alongside McDormand, co-star Rockwell has slowly but surely taken the lead, so to speak, in the supporting actor field. The critics overwhelmingly went with “The Florida Project” star Willem Dafoe, and with three nominations and as many decades in the trenches, he’s arguably overdue. Honestly I had to look up the other nominees, so yeah, this is the race. And it really doesn’t appear to be much of one.
Will win: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Could win: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Should have been here: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, “BPM (Beats Per Minute)”

Actress in a Supporting Role
It was the battle of on-screen moms in this category all season long, but Metcalf’s layered work outshined Janney’s showier work on the critics’ circuit, Janney has been the industry pick. She, along with every acting frontrunner in fact, has won every single prize of note: Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA. This whole quartet is locked in.
Will win: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Could win: Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Should have been here: Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Few scripts have put up much competition against James Ivory’s adaptation of André Aciman’s “Call Me by Your Name.” If anything were to swoop in it would be “Mudbound”; there are few places to honor Dee Rees’ post-World War II drama. But it’s also too tempting to finally hand an Oscar to a legendary near-nonagenarian.
Will win: “Call Me by Your Name”
Could win: “Mudbound”
Should have been here: “First They Killed My Father”

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Universal Pictures has put in an aggressive phase-two effort to take “Get Out” that extra mile, so that could at least secure Jordan Peele a writing prize, if not more. Peele won the writers guild award but Martin McDonagh was ineligible for “Three Billboards.” It’s tight enough to wonder if Greta Gerwig could slide through for “Lady Bird.” But “Three Billboards” passion collects in pools, and while that’s less of a factor in the best picture category, it should help push it through here. If not, watch out for an interesting show…
Will win: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Could win: “Get Out”
Should have been here: “Coco”

Cinematography
Is this finally Roger Deakins’ year? It could very well be. It’s hard to argue with awards from the British Academy and American Society of Cinematographers (though he’s been here before, in a different BAFTA era). Still, best picture players like “Dunkirk” and “The Shape of Water” are obviously threats. And if there’s an upset, look to Rachel Morrison to make some more history for “Mudbound.” But we’ll opt for Deakins finally, 14 nominations later, hearing his name called on the big night.
Will win: “Blade Runner 2049”
Could win: “Dunkirk”
Should have been here: “First They Killed My Father”

Costume Design
“The Shape of Water” toppled “Phantom Thread” at the Costume Designers Guild Awards, which could just be an overall show of strength for the former rather than a harbinger in this category. Count on the film about the art form to win in the end.
Will win: “Phantom Thread”
Could win: “The Shape of Water”
Should have been here: “Thor: Ragnarok”

Film Editing
A BAFTA win for “Baby Driver” here deserves attention, given the organization’s recent track record in presaging this category. But we’ll opt for craft-heavy best picture contender “Dunkirk.” It’s difficult to bet against war films here and especially in the sound fields (which we’ll get to).
Will win: “Dunkirk”
Could win: “Baby Driver”
Should have been here: “Lady Bird”

Makeup and Hairstyling
There’s nothing much to add here. Transformative work on Gary Oldman that allowed him to disappear into the skin of Winston Churchill, in a best picture player no less? Count on it.
Will win: “Darkest Hour”
Could win: “Wonder”
Should have been here: “I, Tonya”

Music (Original Score)
Alexandre Desplat has been waltzing right along throughout the season in this category. Nothing should stand in his way now, though the sonic identity of “Dunkirk” is an unmistakable one. So Hans Zimmer will no doubt be pulling votes, as well Jonny Greenwood for “Phantom Thread,” a film with deep hidden passion in the Academy ranks.
Will win: “The Shape of Water”
Could win: “Dunkirk”
Should have been here: “Hostiles”

Music (Original Song)
This one has come down to the wire. It’s the story-serving “Remember Me” from a new Pixar gem versus the wildly popular ballad “This Is Me” from one of the biggest over-performers of the year. Chalk us up for the musical, with last year’s Oscar-winning “La La Land” songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul taking the prize for the second year running.
Will win: “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”
Could win: “Remember Me” from “Coco”
Should have been here: “Visions of Gideon” from “Call Me by Your Name”

Production Design
“Blade Runner 2049” may well deserve this prize for wildly inventive sets. It was also working at a much bigger price point than “The Shape of Water,” so that makes this an interesting race. Expect BAFTA and Art Directors Guild winner “Shape” to triumph in the end.
Will win: “The Shape of Water”
Could win: “Blade Runner 2049”
Should have been here: “Wonder Wheel”

Sound Editing
Getting back to the below-the-line “Dunkirk” support, it’s too easy to vote for a popular war film in both sound categories, so it’s best to bank on it. But a win for “Blade Runner 2049” here (remember last year’s sci-fi victor), or…
Will win: “Dunkirk”
Could win: “Blade Runner 2049”
Should have been here: “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Sound Mixing
…”Baby Driver” here would not shock.
Will win: “Dunkirk”
Could win: “Baby Driver”
Should have been here: “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Visual Effects
Fox’s “Apes” franchise has consistently been dismissed by voters as mere entertainment while, year after year, effects-heavy awards-season projects swoop in and snatch the trophy. The British Academy may have pointed the way here: Expect Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi sequel to be the heartbreaker this time.
Will win: “Blade Runner 2049”
Could win: “War for the Planet of the Apes”
Should have been here: “Okja”

Animated Feature Film
Pixar. Next.
Will win: “Coco”
Could win: “Loving Vincent”
Should have been here: “Mary and the Witch’s Flower”

Foreign Language Film
It’s difficult to know who is voting in the foreign language category now that it’s open to all members. “The Insult” made a final push in the end and became a popular pick, but “A Fantastic Woman” had a long time to establish a foothold. Films like “In the Fade” and “Foxtrot” might have been more likely if they had made the cut, but alas.
Will win: “A Fantastic Woman”
Could win: “The Insult”
Should have been here: “BPM (Beats Per Minute)”

Documentary (Feature)
Unless last-minute commotion over a producer’s denied visa stirs protest votes for “Last Men in Aleppo,” look for “Icarus” to capitalize on the Olympics news cycle and pull through as the most urgent of the nominees here. But sentiment for Agnès Varda could push her and co-director JR to a victory for “Faces Places” if voters feel like honorary Oscar recognition last year wasn’t enough.
Will win: “Icarus”
Could win: “Faces Places”
Should have been here: “LA92”

Documentary (Short Subject)
Just like with “The White Helmets” last year, Netflix has been aggressive here. If the streamer fails to push opioid crisis study “Heroin(e)” across the finish line, look to profiles like “Edith+Eddie” or “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” as spoilers.
Will win: “Heroin(e)”
Could win: “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405”
Should have been here: “Alone”

Short Film (Animated)
You might as well place a chip on hometown hero Kobe Bryant to take this one with animator Glen Keane for “Dear Basketball.” Pixar could steal it with “Lou” and “Garden Party” has a lot of fans, but this is Laker town.
Will win: “Dear Basketball”
Could win: “Lou”
Should have been here: “Fox and the Whale”

Short Film (Live Action)
“DeKalb Elementary” tragically became the most timely of this year’s nominees two weeks ago, so it feels strong going into the Oscars. If something lighthearted is preferred, though — and that’s often the case in this category — “The Eleven O’Clock” is a nice reprieve.
Will win: “DeKalb Elementary”
Could win: “The Eleven O’Clock”
Should have been here: “Witnesses”

                                 FINAL OSCAR PREDICTIONS                                 

Best Picture
“The Shape of Water”
Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale

Directing
“The Shape of Water”
Guillermo del Toro

Actor in a Leading Role
Gary Oldman
“Darkest Hour”

Actress in a Leading Role
Frances McDormand
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Actor in a Supporting Role
Sam Rockwell
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Actress in a Supporting Role
Allison Janney
“I, Tonya”

Writing (Adapted Screeplay)
“Call Me by Your Name”
James Ivory

Writing (Original Screenplay)
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Martin McDonagh

Cinematography
“Blade Runner 2049”
Roger Deakins

Costume Design
“Phantom Thread”
Mark Bridges

Film Editing
“Dunkirk”
Lee Smith

Makeup and Hairstyling
“Darkest Hour”
Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick

Music (Original Score)
“The Shape of Water”
Alexandre Desplat

Music (Original Song)
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Production Design
“The Shape of Water”
Paul Denham Austerberry (Production Design);
Shane Vieau and Jeffrey A. Melvin (Set Decoration)

Sound Editing
“Dunkirk”
Richard King and Alex Gibson

Sound Mixing
“Dunkirk”
Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo and Mark Weingarten

Visual Effects
“Blade Runner 2049”
John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover

Animated Feature Film
“Coco”
Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson

Foreign Language Film
“A Fantastic Woman”
Chile; Sebastián Lelio

Documentary (Feature)
“Icarus”
Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan

Documentary (Short Subject)
“Heroin(e)”
Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon

Short Film (Animated)
“Dear Basketball”
Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant

Short Film (Live Action)
“DeKalb Elementary”
Reed Van Dyk

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‘Black Lightning’ EP Talks ‘Turning Point’ Conflict for Pierce Family – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine

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SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the sixth episode of the first season of “Black Lightning,” titled “Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder.”

Black Lightning’s (Cress Williams) secret is out — at least to one person who matters a lot to the family man and superhero.

In the sixth episode of the new CW superhero drama, Jefferson Pierce aka Black Lightning came to what he thought was the aid of his ex-wife Lynn (Christine Adams), only to end up fighting his own daughter Anissa (Nafessa Williams), who had finally suited up as Thunder. Her still-developing powers proved to be no match for his, but after he took her down, he revealed himself, still in his own suit.

“One of the things that Salim [Akil, series creator] and I have always believed personally is that violence has consequences, and they’re often unforeseen. So it was a way of us dramatizing that — it was a way of us dramatizing the often sad truth that people who ought to be on the same side are fighting each other,” co-executive producer and episode writer Charles Holland tells Variety. “We had a golden opportunity to do that [because] we had two characters, both very well-intentioned, both very intelligent, but misinformed. And that leads to conflict that is painful to both.”

Here, Holland talks with Variety about crafting the “turning point” episode and where the Pierce family — and the show — goes from here.

At what point was it decided that Black Lightning’s identity would be revealed to his daughter — and that her new powers would be revealed to him — this early in the show’s run?

Salim started, probably in our first meeting when we all sat down to lunch, with tent poles for the different places he wanted to be in the season. He not only came in with defined characters, he also had a pretty strong idea of the direction he wanted to take over the first season. So he always knew he wanted one of the tent poles to be that father and daughter are both motivated by trying to achieve justice, and they’re unaware of what each other’s doing, and their paths cross, they end up in a collision [and] that’s a turning point for everybody.

How did you come to the decision to have the characters fight each other first and then make the reveal?

We had already set up that the daughter is a new age activist — she marches and she even gets called in an argument “Miss Black Lives Matter” and her sister jokingly refers to her as Harriet Tubman. She is very much involved in that. But her father is, as well. Her father is a person who is committed to and has come back to the community and brought all these things to bear — his reputation, his celebrity. He transformed the school. He is a hero in a more old-school way. So we’re showing the collision between old school and new school. We were interested in dramatizing a conflict that already existed between them in terms of old-school and new-school [ways] to achieve justice. But we also wanted to dramatize what it means to fight for justice and how justiceis viewed differently if you are an African-American hero — because if you’re an African-American hero, you’re not only an immigrant, you’re an unwilling immigrant that for centuries had an illegal status and were viewed as property. Snap judgments are a really bad thing for African-Americans — from “You don’t get the job” to you get shot. So the snap judgment is how terrible things have happened, and the scene was meant to be a callback to that — to how snap judgments and implicit bias can do that. That was involved in the reveal [but] then there are questions about if you have a gift, are you required to use it for other people? We go there. But at the same time, we’ll be talking about responsibility.

What responsibility do you feel in setting up stories that the audience will think about further on their own?

What we hope will happen is that our show will spark conversations that should be had. So certain things we say explicitly, other things we say implicitly. Rather than saying explicitly, “It’s too bad that the many groups that want advancement are fighting each other” [or that] what happened in the ’80s [with] the Rainbow Coalition falling apart because communities came to blow [or] that Hispanic or Latino concerns about housing are pitted against African-American concerns about housing. We hope that people will look at that and be entertained — because we’re storytellers who hope to entertain you — but that it will resonate in their brains and they’ll be thinking and it will start conversations.

Is that where the confederate statue came in?

In this episode, Anissa has been trying to figure out how to use her powers and trying to figure out what it means and she is involved in a social activist position about “We need to do something about the confederate statue on our campus.” I will tell you I came up with that before [real life] events. It was an interesting moment because there was some sensitivity about whether we should do it, but that [sensitivity] evaporated when it actually happened. That issue has been simmering for a long, long time. It’s one of those things in society that look like pride for one person but for another, it’s a slap in the face every time they have to look at it. So in Anissa’s social justice activity vis-a-vis the statue, she did what she thought she had to, which is becoming a superhero because she couldn’t do it as a regular person. She decided to destroy the statue, but in [doing so] the reality of using great power, you have to use it with responsibility. She did that, and she was horrified by the reaction of others. People were scared, people were hurt — it was not a good thing. So right at that moment where she realizes using her powers may not be the thing to do, what do I do? I’m going to talk to my mom — and she runs into Black Lightning.

Thunder is still figuring things out when it comes to her powers, but she held her own in a lot of ways in that fight.

One of the things that is important to us is to dramatize the importance of the next generation. It’s going to turn out that her powers are actually far more impressive than his. She’s literally invulnerable and stronger than he is! So we are showing female empowerment here, but at the same time, we’re also showing that folks can be pit against each other that could be working with each other.

How does the family move forward from here, especially given how emphatic Lynn was about not wanting her husband to be a superhero and now her daughter is one, too?

In Lynn’s case, she is concerned with what’s best for the family — “What’s best for my children? What’s best for my family as a unit?” It was her belief that his superhero adventuring was not what was best for the family — that is was a selfish act on his part. However, once your child is involved in something, it changes the tenor of the conversation. I don’t want to give anything away going forward other than to say there was a reason why it became clear to both parents at the same time. It’s going to change the dynamic for the entire family.

Where does that leave Jennifer (China Anne McClain)?

She will be let in soon. It’s one of the things that will happen in the season. By the end of the season, superhero-ing will be the family business.

“Black Lightning” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW.

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Netflix Orders More ‘Ultimate Beastmaster,’ Adds U.K. and Australia to the Mix – Sharing Variety Magazine

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“Ultimate Beastmaster” will come back for a third run on Netflix, with a rejiggered format and contestants from the U.K. and Australia for the first time. Fox Sports and former Sky Sports News presenter Kate Abdo will be the U.K. host alongside wrestler and actor Stu Bennett, while pop star and performer Dannii Minogue will […]

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Barbra Streisand on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Al Franken – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine

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When you talk to Barbra Streisand about politics, she doesn’t hold back. “I really believe she won the election,” Streisand says about Hillary Clinton. “I’ve talked to senators from Michigan and Wisconsin. I do believe, like I believed during Bush, they were playing with those voter machines. And [Al Gore] lost by 537 votes. Bush looks quite good compared to Trump. At least he’s not mean spirited. He’s not a guy who is retaliating for what Obama did at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.”

Streisand sat down with Variety for a two-hour conversation at her home in Malibu for this week’s cover story. In addition to talking about Hollywood’s boys club, and how it impacted her career as a director and producer, Streisand also shared her thoughts on Trump’s presidency. Here’s what she had to say about why Al Franken should have never resigned and if Clinton should run again in 2020.

Where were you on election night 2016?
I was with Senator Barbara Boxer. I was asked to go someplace downtown to be on TV. And sitting there and watching this, it put me into a deep depression. I just didn’t trust the crookedness of it. I thought, “Something’s up here.”

Do you think Trump will be impeached?
I sure hope so. I’m so upset by a crazy person. I call him the liar in chief, the misogynist in chief. He’s so crazed.

The George W. Bush years affected many artists. Has Trump’s presidency changed your art?
Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I’m doing an album. The next one I’m doing is called “What’s on My Mind.” I have to express myself in these ways, lyrically and melodically.

You’ve known Hillary Clinton for a while. 
I find her very warm, by the way. People didn’t seem to. That was so insulting as a woman, to say, “Well, she shouts.” As if Trump doesn’t shout. He yells. It’s like that’s what has happened to our country that we are free to say these things? Imagine her background as a first lady, a senator, a secretary of state. That was the next step. She needed to be president of the United States. What that would have done for women, make them so proud, and all those little girls who are thinking, “I can be anything that I want to be, even president of the United States.” I was just heartbroken. I was so devastated for a long time.

Who would you like to run in 2020?
There’s a lot of good people. I really can’t say now.

Do you think Hillary should run again?
I don’t know if I could trust those women who didn’t like her and didn’t vote for her. I think she would win, because she deserves to win. She’s so experienced and presidential and articulate and smart. Watching Trump earlier today, he just repeats himself over and over again. At some point, three Republican Speakers of the House were guilty of sexual transgressions–Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston and Dennis Hastert. But I think Democrats are basically nicer and kinder people. They don’t insult people like Republicans seem to do.

What did you think about Senator Al Franken’s resignation?
Not all offenses are equal. The loss of Al Franken, who has been a consistent advocate for women, is hard. Before he was a senator, he was a comedian and he did a couple of silly things. He was kidding around. But that pales in comparison to what his Republican colleagues have done. I was sad to see a group of women Democratic senators turn on him so quickly. I think they went too far without due process. I think they pressured him to set an example that the Republicans might follow, and of course they didn’t.

So you think Franken should still be a senator?
Oh yes, I do. I know what they were trying to do, to say, “Look our guy told the truth and resigned.” Why don’t your guys tell the truth and resign? No such luck. These guys are going to deny everything.

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China’s Tencent Acquires 10% Stake in Snapchat’s Parent Company – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine

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Chinese internet giant Tencent has acquired 10% of Snapchat parent’s Snap shares on the open market.

Tencent notified Snap that it recently acquired 145.78 million shares of non-voting common stock, Snap disclosed in its 10-Q filing Wednesday. “We have long been inspired by the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of Tencent and we are grateful to continue our longstanding and productive relationship that began over four years ago,” Snap said in the filing.

The disclosure pushed Snap shares up 2% in premarket trading Wednesday, helping the stock rebound from the messaging and media app maker’s disastrous earnings report for the third quarter of 2017.

Snap dramatically missed Wall Street user-growth and revenue expectations for Q3. That led CEO Evan Spiegel to announce a series of changes, including plans to redesign Snapchat to be easier to use and new monetization options for creators in 2018.

Tencent operates WeChat – China’s largest messaging app, with 963 million users as of mid-2017 – and streaming service Tencent Video. Tencent has previously invested in Snap in private funding rounds in 2012 and 2013.

Snap actually lists Tencent among its competitors, citing the Chinese internet giant alongside Apple, Facebook (including Instagram and WhatsApp), Google and YouTube, and Twitter.

Tencent wasn’t required to file SEC reports disclosing its 10% stake in Snap, because Snap’s Class A common stock is non-voting and therefore exempt from those reporting rules. As Snap told investors, “Tencent and Snap are not obligated to disclose changes in Tencent’s ownership of our Class A common stock, so there can be no assurance that you, or we, will be notified of any such changes.”

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Hollywood Diversity Gains But Falls Short in Most Areas: UCLA Report – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine

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Minorities and women have registered gains in several key areas of television but remained disproportionately represented in most areas of the entertainment industry, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.

“In both film and television, women and minorities remained notably underrepresented in every arena in 2016,” the report, which is part of an ongoing series on the subject, read. “Reports in this series have repeatedly found that films and television shows with casts attuned to America’s diversity tend to register the highest global box office figures and viewer ratings. The industry appears to have finally embraced the idea that America’s increasingly diverse audiences demand film and television content populated with characters whose experiences resonate with their own, who look like them, and with whom they can relate.”

The report, titled “Five Years of Progress and Missed Opportunities,” is the fifth in five years from the center headed by Dr. Darnell Hunt. The report points out that the nation consisted of nearly 40% minorities in 2016 — the last year examined — and states the percentage will only increase in the coming years.

“There is still a long way to go before women or people of color reach proportionate representation among the actors in film and television, but at least the trend lines for both groups point in the right direction,” the report added.

Gains were primarily confined to digital scripted shows for female leads, broadcast television for leads, and show creators of color. The report emphasized that positive trends for women and minorities in film were much less pronounced.

“Unfortunately, the industry has been much slower to accept the related truth that its success in providing today’s (and tomorrow’s) audiences with what they crave also hinges on the presence of diverse talent behind the camera — in the director’s chair, in the writers’ room, and in executive suites,” the report said. “The resulting missed opportunities, this report series has documented, are not good for Hollywood’s bottom line.”

The report was written before the launch of Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther,” which, with a black cast and director, has become a smash hit with more than $700 million in worldwide grosses in less than two weeks.

“Film projects have become increasingly reliant on foreign financing, talent, and audiences for success,” the report noted. “But in today’s globalized movie industry, there is a myth promoted by Hollywood decision makers that foreign audiences will automatically reject films centered around people of color. Indeed, the conventional ‘wisdom’ in the film industry has been that ‘black films don’t travel,’ and this notion has posed a longstanding obstacle to advancing diversity in Hollywood, particularly among film leads and directors.”

Minorities remain underrepresented in film leads (13.9%), film directors (12.6%), film writers (8.1%), broadcast scripted leads (18.7%), cable scripted leads (20.2%), broadcast reality and other leads (26.6%) and leads for cable reality and other leads (20.9%).

Women posted gains in all the key employment arenas since the previous report, with the exception of four — film directors, broadcast scripted show leads, cable scripted show creators, and broadcast scripted show creators. They are underrepresented among film leads (31.2%), film directors (6.9%), film writers (13.8%), broadcast scripted leads (35.7%), cable scripted leads (44.8%) and broadcast reality and other leads (18.8%).

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British Competition Watchdog Warns Against Fox Takeover of Sky – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine

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In a blow to 21st Century Fox, Britain’s competition watchdog has provisionally concluded that the company’s proposed takeover of satcaster Sky would have a negative impact on media plurality, increasing the likelihood that the British government will reject the $15 billion bid.

The Competition and Markets Authority said Tuesday morning that it “has provisionally found that Fox taking full control of Sky is not in the public interest due to media plurality concerns, but not because of a lack of a genuine commitment to meeting broadcasting standards in the U.K.”

It noted that the Murdoch-owned news outlets are already watched or read by a third of the British population and a deal “would lead to the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT), which controls Fox and News Corporation (News Corp), increasing its control over Sky, so that it would have too much control over news providers in the U.K. across all media platforms (TV, Radio, Online and Newspapers), and therefore too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda.”

Fox wants to buy up the 61% of Sky it doesn’t already own. Gaining full ownership would mean that Sky News, the Times of London newspaper, and the Sun tabloid would all fall under the Murdochs’ control. According to media regulator Ofcom’s earlier findings, Murdoch properties would collectively rank No. 3 in terms of share of news consumption, behind pubcaster the BBC and news provider ITN.

In its provisional findings Tuesday, the Competition and Markets Authority, or CMA, suggested that Fox could mitigate the concerns on media plurality by spinning off Sky News or by finding ways “to insulate” the news channel from the Murdochs’ influence.

The CMA now has until May 1 to issue a final report. Tuesday’s findings are followed by three weeks of further consultation. In a statement, Fox said that it was disappointed by the preliminary conclusion on media plurality but that it would continue working with the watchdog in advance of the final report.

“We welcome the CMA’s provisional finding that the company has a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards and the transaction would not be against the public interest in this respect,” Fox said. “Regarding plurality, we are disappointed by the CMA’s provisional findings. We will continue to engage with the CMA ahead of the publication of the final report in May.”

After the watchdog issues its final report, the British government will have 30 days to deliver its own verdict. The government is not bound by the CMA’s findings, but if the watchdog reaffirms its warning against the deal, it would be politically difficult for the ruling Conservative Party to override that without being accused of cozying up to the Murdochs.

Fox itself is in the process of trying to sell off some of its assets to Disney. That mammoth transaction is likely to be concluded after the British competition authority completes its scrutiny of the bid for Sky, but the watchdog said it would consider the implications of the Fox-Disney merger in any remedies it suggests.

Murdoch has long coveted Sky, and nearly succeeded in adding it to his empire in 2011 before Britain’s phone-hacking scandal – which implicated Murdoch-owned newspapers – torpedoed his efforts. For several years, Murdoch was considered too politically toxic for the bid to be revived, but enough time had passed for Fox to make a new play for Sky in December 2016. Lachlan Murdoch, Fox’s executive chairman, called the takeover his company’s “No. 1 priority.”

Social activists have continued to oppose Sky being absorbed into the Fox fold, arguing that the latter’s checkered corporate history, especially the racism and sexism scandals that have beset Fox News, made the Murdochs unfit to be the owners of such an important media property.

British regulators have rejected that argument in a series of reports. But last September, the government decided to ask the Competition and Markets Authority to examine the bid more closely on plurality grounds.

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