Oct 23, 2017
1:44 pm

Renee Zellweger to Play Showbiz Legend (Deadline)

Oscar-winning actress Renee Zellweger will take on an iconic role after being cast to play singer and actress Judy Garland. Deadline reports that Zellweger, who won an Oscar in 2004 for her supporting role in “Cold Mountain,” will play Garland in the film project “Judy.”

The movie from Pathe and Calamity Films focuses on Garland’s final concerts in London in 1968.

“A February 2018 start date has been earmarked for principal photography with British stage director and Tony nominee Rupert Goold helming,” Deadlne notes.

“The film is based on a script written by Tom Edge (‘The Crown’) and will be produced by BAFTA winner David Livingstone (‘Pride’) for Calamity,” the report adds.

Oct 23, 2017
12:25 pm

Acclaimed Drama Picks Up Renewal, Switches Coasts (THR)

An acclaimed drama series running on pay cable will be switching coasts after being renewed for a sixth season. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Showtime’s “Ray Donovan” will move to New York City after previously being based in Hollywood.

In a report that contains a spoiler alert for viewers who have not kept up with the show’s current season, THR notes that the series, which wraps up the season this Sunday, Oct. 29, has been averaging almost 5 million viewers across platforms.

“Showtime is already giving away that the next run will be big departure from its previous five,” the report notes, adding: “Los Angeles has been huge part of the ‘Ray Donovan’ narrative, so it’s likely the location shift will come with some significant cast changes as well.”

Click on the link above to THR if you’re comfortable with the spoilers.

Oct 23, 2017
12:10 pm

After Just Six Episodes, High-Profile Series Is Renewed (TVWeek, CBS)

Six episodes into its initial run, a high-profile series has picked up a renewal for a second season. CBS announced today that it will bring back “Star Trek: Discovery,” which airs on the network’s CBS All Access digital service.

The network noted that the show’s launch fueled record subscription signups for CBS All Access for single day, week and month.

“In just six episodes, ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ has driven subscriber growth, critical acclaim and huge global fan interest for the first premium version of this great franchise,” said Marc DeBevoise, president and chief operating officer, CBS Interactive. “This series has a remarkable creative team and cast who have demonstrated their ability to carry on the ‘Star Trek’ legacy. We are extremely proud of what they’ve accomplished and are thrilled to be bringing fans a second season of this tremendous series.”

Please click here for additional details in today’s announcement.

Oct 23, 2017
11:30 am

Investigation Launched Into The Weinstein Co. (AP)

Amidst a torrent of sexual assault allegations against The Weinstein Co. co-founder Harvey Weinstein, a civil rights investigation into the company has been launched by New York state’s top prosecutor, the AP reports.

“Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the probe Monday. His office says it issued a subpoena seeking all company records,” the story reports. “The Democratic attorney general says his office wants to know whether any New York employees were subjected to pervasive harassment or discrimination at the company, which is based in New York City.”

Weinstein was fired by the company earlier this month after allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault surfaced in stories reported by The New York Times and The New Yorker.

“More than three dozen women have publicly accused the entertainment mogul of abuse,” the AP notes, adding: “Weinstein has denied allegations of nonconsensual sex.”

Harvey Weinstein is already the focus of sexual assault investigations in New York, London and Los Angeles.

Oct 23, 2017
10:55 am

Bill O’Reilly Fires Back After Report Surfaces That He Settled Sexual Harassment Claim for $32 Million Just Before Fox Renewed His Contract; Megyn Kelly Goes After O’Reilly
(NY Times, CNN, Washington Examiner, NBC)

Former Fox News Channel fixture Bill O’Reilly lashed out after a story broke over the weekend on an alleged $32 million settlement O’Reilly reportedly struck over sexual harassment allegations.

The story, published by The New York Times, reports: “Last January, six months after Fox News ousted its chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal, the network’s top-rated host at the time, Bill O’Reilly, struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst to settle new sexual harassment allegations, according to two people briefed on the matter — an extraordinarily large amount for such cases.”

The Times also reports: “Although the deal has not been previously made public, the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, acknowledges that it was aware of the woman’s complaints about Mr. O’Reilly. They included allegations of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her, according to the people briefed on the matter.”

The report notes that the agreement was at least the sixth made by either O’Reilly or the company, and by far the largest, to settle harassment allegations against O’Reilly. “Despite that record, 21st Century Fox began contract negotiations with Mr. O’Reilly, and in February granted him a four-year extension that paid $25 million a year,” The Times reports.

O’Reilly went on the offensive against The Times in response to the story, with CNN quoting him saying the paper “obviously hates me.”

“But he has not disputed the facts surrounding his $32 million settlement with longtime Fox News colleague Lis Wiehl, who was a legal analyst for the network,” CNN reports, adding: “Saturday’s story in The Times about the incredibly expensive settlement has caused widespread speculation about why O’Reilly was willing to agree to such a deal. He says he didn’t want to subject his family to an embarrassing lawsuit and trial.”

O’Reilly, who has reportedly been trying to arrange a TV comeback, talked about the Times story this morning on Glenn Beck’s radio show, alleging that The Times is trying to ruin his career, CNN reports, quoting O’Reilly saying: “The end game is, ‘Let’s link Bill O’Reilly with Harvey Weinstein'” and “take him out of the marketplace forever.”

“He also suggested there is a conspiracy against him involving CNN, the liberal and anti-Fox press watchdog group Media Matters for America, and others,” CNN reports.

Megyn Kelly, a former colleague of both O’Reilly and Wiehl, offered a strong commentary on O’Reilly this morning on her NBC show “Megyn Kelly Today” in response to the latest allegations. You can see a clip of her comments below.

In response to Kelly’s commentary, The Washington Examiner reports, an attorney for O’Reilly published thank-you notes from Kelly to O’Reilly in which she expresses gratitude for his support.

Here’s today’s Megyn Kelly commentary, posted by NBC …

Oct 23, 2017
10:02 am

Influential Music Producer and Songwriter Dies — He Co-Wrote One of the Big Hits of the ’60s (TVWeek, Facebook, YouTube)

A musician, songwriter and music producer who was a mentor to the famed rock band AC/DC and who co-wrote the Easybeats’ 1966 international hit “Friday on My Mind” has died. AC/DC announced on its Facebook page that George Young died Sunday. He was 70.

Young was the rhythm guitarist for the Easybeats in the 1960s when they had a worldwide hit with “Friday on My Mind,” co-written by Young and bandmate Harry Vanda. He was the older brother of AC/DC founders Angus Young and Malcolm Young, and mentored their hard rock band along with producing some of its material.

“It is with pain in our heart that we have to announce the passing of our beloved brother and mentor George Young. Without his help and guidance there would not have been an AC/DC,” the band wrote on its Facebook page. “As a musician, songwriter, producer, advisor and much, much more, you could not ask for a more dedicated and professional man.

“As a brother, you could not ask for a finer brother. For all he did and gave to us throughout his life, we will always remember him with gratitude and hold him close to our hearts.”

The Scottish-born George Young moved to Australia as a teenager and became a fixture of Australian music, including co-writing the iconic Aussie hit “Love Is in the Air,” recorded by John Paul Young (no relation).

Here’s a clip of the Easybeats performing “Friday on My Mind” …

Oct 23, 2017
9:15 am

Oscar-Nominated Filmmaker Accused of Sexual Harassment by More Than 30 Women (LA Times)

As the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal continues to spread throughout the entertainment industry, The Los Angeles Times reports that 38 women have come forward to accuse filmmaker James Toback of sexual harassment.

Toback, who has a string of writing, directing and producing credits going back to 1974, received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for the 1991 film “Bugsy.”

“He prowled the streets of Manhattan looking for attractive young women, usually in their early 20s, sometimes college students, on occasion a high schooler,” The Times reports. “He approached them in Central Park, standing in line at a bank or drug store or at a copy center while they worked on their resumes.

“His opening line had a few variations. One went: ‘My name’s James Toback. I’m a movie director. Have you ever seen “Black and White” or “Two Girls and a Guy”?’”

Toback would follow with an invitation to meet with him privately, the story reports.

“Then, in a hotel room, a movie trailer, a public park, meetings framed as interviews or auditions quickly turned sexual, according to 38 women who, in separate interviews, told the Los Angeles Times of similar encounters they had with Toback,” the story reports.

The Times adds: “During these meetings, many of the women said, Toback boasted of sexual conquests with the famous and then asked humiliating personal questions. How often do you masturbate? How much pubic hair do you have? He’d tell them, they said, that he couldn’t properly function unless he ‘jerked off’ several times a day. And then he’d dry-hump them or masturbate in front of them, ejaculating into his pants or onto their bodies and then walk away. Meeting over.”

Toback, 72, has reportedly denied the allegations.

Oct 20, 2017
2:51 pm

ABC News Gets New Chief Medical Correspondent (TVNewser)

ABC News has named a new chief medical correspondent following the exit earlier this year of Dr. Richard Besser, who left the network.

TVNewser reports that Dr. Jennifer Ashton was promoted to the position. “Dr. Ashton, who has been with ABC for the last 5 years, is a board-certified OBGYN and last year got her master’s in Human Nutrition,” the report notes.

ABC News President James Goldston made the announcement, commenting: “From breaking down a health warning for parents about child sleep apnea to analyzing the latest developments in cancer research to explaining the effects of mental illness to dissecting the benefits and risks related to a popular diet trend her knowledge knows no bounds.”

The report notes that Ashton has recently covered medical issues related to a series of devastating hurricanes, including reporting from Houston and Puerto Rico. “She also reported from Las Vegas where she interviewed a surgeon who treated the victims of the mass shooting earlier this month,” the report adds.

Goldston noted: “Her incredible work on the ground has elevated our breaking news coverage as evidenced by ABC News’ recent Emmy Award for our coverage of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando last year, which Dr. Ashton was an important part of.”

Dr. Jennifer Ashton (Twitter)

Oct 20, 2017
2:44 pm

Quentin Tarantino’s Weinstein Admission: ‘I Knew Enough to Do More Than I Did’ (NY Times)

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, who has had close ties to Harvey Weinstein during his directing career, opened up about the sexual misconduct scandal swirling around Weinstein, admitting that he should have done something about it a long time ago.

Tarantino “has known for decades about the producer’s alleged misconduct toward women and now feels ashamed he did not take a stronger stand and stop working with him, he said in an interview,” The New York Times reports.

The report quotes Tarantino saying: “I knew enough to do more than I did. There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”

Tarantino adds: “I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard. If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him.”

The report says Tarantino had heard about Weinstein’s behavior long before recent articles in The New York Times and The New Yorker brought them to widespread attention.

“His own former girlfriend, Mira Sorvino, told him about unwelcome advances and unwanted touching by Mr. Weinstein,” The Times reports. “Another actress told him a similarly upsetting story years later. He also knew that the actress Rose McGowan had reached a settlement with the producer.”

Said Tarantino: “What I did was marginalize the incidents. Anything I say now will sound like a crappy excuse.”

Oct 20, 2017
2:31 pm

‘Stranger Things’ Star Fires Agent Over Sexual Abuse Claim (THR)

One of the young stars of the Netflix hit “Stranger Things” has dumped talent agency APA over allegations of sexual abuse. According to The Hollywood Reporter, 14-year-old Finn Wolfhard, who also appears in the recent blockbuster “It,” parted ways with agent Tyler Grasham.

“The move comes as Grasham is facing a string of claims that he sexually assaulted or acted inappropriately with young aspiring male actors, including actor-turned-filmmaker Blaise Godbe Lipman,” THR reports. “Grasham, a prominent agent at APA who also reps Hayley Orrantia, is currently on leave from the agency, sources confirm, while the company investigates the allegations.”

APA wouldn’t say much about the situation. THR quotes an agency spokesperson saying: “APA takes these allegations extremely seriously and is investigating this matter.”

THR notes: “It is understood that the agency has enlisted an independent, neutral investigator to research the claims. In light of the accusations, Grasham has set his Instagram to private and deleted his Facebook account.”

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