Dec 20, 2014
12:50 am

Sony Entertainment CEO Fires Back at President Obama in CNN Interview: ‘I would disagree with the notion that it was a mistake’ to Pull ‘The Interview.’ We Have the Entire CNN Transcript

“Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, denying that the studio had ‘caved’ by scrapping next week’s opening of ‘The Interview,’ fired back Friday after President Obama said the studio had ‘made a mistake,’ ” reports CNN Money.

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that was broadcast on “Anderson Cooper 360°” on Friday night, Dec. 19, 2014, Lynton said, “[I]n this instance, the president, the press and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened.

“We do not own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters….”

“When it came to the crucial moment, when a threat came out from what was called the GOP at the time, threatening audiences who would go to the movie theaters, the movie theaters came to us one by one over the course of a very short period of time — we were completely surprised by it — and announced that they would not carry the movie.

“At that point in time, we had no alternative but to not proceed with the theatrical release on the 25th of December.”

To read a transcript of the entire Lynton interview, please click here.

Lynton added, “We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered and we have not backed down. We have — we have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.”

However, on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, when Sony announced it was pulling the picture, ABC News reported, “Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film,” a Sony spokesperson said when asked about a digital or VOD release.”

Lynton said in Friday’s CNN interview, “There are a number of options open to us and we have considered those and are considering them. As it stands right now, while there have been a number of suggestions that we go out there and deliver this movie digitally or through VOD, there has not been one major VOD — video-on-demand distributor — one major e-commerce site that has stepped forward and said they are willing to, uh, distribute this movie for us.

“Again, we don’t have that direct interface with the American public. So we need to do through an intermediary to do that.”

However, a Bloomberg news story notes, “Sony also owns the Crackle online channel, as well as the PlayStation Network, which offers videos. A spokesman for Sony didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether it would use them for ‘The Interview.’” Besides movies that are offered on PlayStation game consoles, the PlayStation store website offers movies to buy and rent. And for a number of years Sony has had its Sony Movie Channel on pay-TV.

In his remarks, President Obama said that he wished that Sony has spoken to him before it pulled “The Interview.” In response Lynton told Zakaria, “We definitely spoke to [a] senior adviser or a senior adviser in the White House to talk about the situation. The fact is, did we talk to the president himself…about what was happening…as the theaters started pulling back and [were]…unwilling to distribute the movie?  No. But the White House was certainly aware of the situation.”

And there was this exchange between Lynton and Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: Not only did the theaters all pull out, but you couldn’t get any of the major Hollywood studios to support you. George Clooney writes that he put out a petition and tried to get support. He couldn’t get a single person to sign it.  Have you been surprised at the fact that nobody has been willing to rally around you?

LYNTON: I am surprised, frankly. I mean I understand, on the one hand, that my fellow studios and everybody else has their own commercial concerns and they themselves were worried about becoming a target and it did make for a — make this entire enterprise to be a very, very lonely affair.   But on the other hand, it — it, you know, this is a moment where you would expect the industry to rally around and support you.”

To read more about this story we urge you to click here and read the entire transcript of the CNN interview between Zakaria and Lynton. We thank CNN for providing us with the transcript.

CNN says the “Full interview will encore at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014.”

Dec 19, 2014
12:53 pm

Obama Vows Response to North Korea Cyberattack, Calls Sony Decision a Mistake (NY Times)

Criticizing Sony for its decision to pull the plug on “The Interview,” President Obama today said the United States “will respond proportionally” to the cyberattack by North Korea on Sony Pictures, The New York Times reports.

“Mr. Obama said the response would come ‘at a place and time we choose,’ but declined to be more specific about what it would be. He said that ‘we have been working out the range of options that will be presented to me,’” the story reports.

Obama’s comments came on the heels of an announcement from the FBI that it had evidence the government of North Korea was behind the cyberattack on Sony. The FBI revelation marked “the first time the United States has explicitly accused the leaders of a foreign nation of deliberately damaging American targets,” The Times reports.

Sony scrapped its planned release of “The Interview,” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, in response to threats this week against theaters showing the movie. The satirical comedy centers on an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“In criticizing Sony’s leadership for withdrawing the film, Mr. Obama argued that the precedent it set could be damaging — and that the United States could not give in to intimidation,” The Times reports. “He said that it would encourage other countries to sabotage documentaries, ‘or news reports they don’t like.’”

Obama aimed some of his remarks at North Korea, making the point that the country’s government was overly concerned about a Hollywood comedy.

“I think it says something about North Korea that it decided to mount an all-out attack about a satirical movie starring Seth Rogen,” Obama said.

the interview-movie-banner-2014

Dec 19, 2014
12:41 pm

It’s a First for the Broadcast Networks in the duPont Awards (TVNewser)

This week’s announcement of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards marks a first for the broadcast networks, and not in a good way. Since 1968, when the duPont Awards began, the broadcast networks have always taken home an award, but this year marks the first time not one was among the winners, reports TVNewser.

“The fourteen winners for 2015 include usual suspects like ‘Frontline’ and CNN, and four local television stations. And then there are the newbies, including Netflix, which was chosen for a feature documentary,” the piece notes.

“The categories change. The technologies change. Ten years ago, who even knew what streaming was? Today a streaming service has won a duPont,” said Richard Wald, duPont Jury Chair and the Fred W. Friendly Professor of Media and Society at Columbia Journalism School. “But the jury was impressed that the essentials remain: Tell a good story in the service of truth; tell something interesting and important; tell something that makes us wiser and better informed. Valuable journalism is alive and well.”

dupont columbia award-baton

Dec 19, 2014
12:37 pm

USA Orders ‘Timely and Relevant’ Hacker Drama Series (E! News)

Just as the reverberations from the Sony hacking attack are being felt throughout Hollywood, USA Network announced it has ordered a hacker drama to series, E! News reports.

The project — currently titled “Mr. Robot,” although the title may change — received an order for 10 episodes.

“The ‘intense’ hacker drama is set in New York City and will star Christian Slater and ’24′s’ Rami Malek,” the report notes.

In a statement, USA Network President Chris McCumber said: “‘Mr. Robot’ could not be more timely and relevant. The creative team behind this series has done a brilliant job, taking viewers on a wild ride that leaves them wanting more. Rami gives a masterful performance as a hacker and unlikely hero, alongside Christian, who is perfectly cast as ‘Mr. Robot.’”

Malek plays a young programmer caught between the cybersecurity firm that employs him and underground groups that want him to help bring down corporate America, the report adds. Slater plays the mysterious anarchist Mr. Robot.

rami malek

Rami Malek

Dec 19, 2014
12:31 pm

Hulu Signs Streaming Deal for FX Content (TheWrap)

Hulu has struck a deal to stream the largest selection of FX Networks content available through Internet-connected devices, reports TheWrap.

“The streaming service announced on Thursday that it closed a deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution for the exclusive subscription video on demand rights to new and upcoming FX and FXX prime-time comedy, drama and miniseries in a new, multiyear agreement for FX Networks’ series produced or co-produced by FX Productions (FXP),” the story reports.

That will provide Hulu viewers with shows such as the comedy series “Man Seeking Woman” and “The Comedians,” which stars Billy Crystal and Josh Gad. Fox’s upcoming M. Night Shyamalan event series “Wayward Pines” will stream exclusively on Hulu, the piece adds.

Current FX Networks series will be online through the FXNOW app.

wayward pines

Dec 19, 2014
12:27 pm

‘Orphan Black’ Books Third-Season Plans — Here’s the Teaser (LA Times)

BBC America has set a return date for the third season of “Orphan Black,” reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

The new season, which stars Tatiana Maslany as a number of clones, will debut April 18. The show also released a teaser for the third season, which includes Ari Millen performing in the role of the male clones, who will be a large part of the third season, the story adds.

“Meanwhile, Maslany will be playing at least four clones in the new season, and possibly more. That’s the thing about clones: there’s always more of them,” the report notes.

The piece adds: “Maslany’s performance on the show has been widely praised, but the SAG Award nomination is the first major acknowledgement of her work here.”

Here’s the teaser:

Dec 19, 2014
9:01 am

FCC Rules on Washington Redskins Name (Bloomberg)

The Federal Communications Commission has issued a ruling in the dispute over the name of the Washington Redskins NFL team. Bloomberg reports that the panel said the name isn’t profane or obscene.

The FCC dismissed a request to deny the license renewal of a Virginia radio station that uses the name in its broadcasts covering the team, the story says. George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf III claimed the use of the term for the NFL team is objectionable because the word “Redskins” is a “derogatory racial and ethnic slur” against Native Americans.

The ruling is “no more than round one,” Banzhaf said, adding that there are other active petitions before the FCC about the use of the term.

“Last month the team won the right to review a decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel the mark as disparaging,” the story reports. “Team owner Daniel Snyder has repeatedly said the name was intended to honor Native Americans and he won’t change it.”

Dec 19, 2014
8:47 am

She’s People Magazine’s ‘Sexiest Woman of the Year’ — It’s the First Time the Magazine Has Awarded the Title; It’s Not Beyonce, Rihanna, Sofia Vergara or J-Lo. It’s … (People)

A month after People magazine named Chris Hemsworth its “Sexiest Man Alive,” the magazine has named its first-ever “Sexiest Woman of the Year” — model and actress Kate Upton.

Upton was honored at the People Magazine Awards, broadcast live Thursday night on NBC.

Among the other honorees at the ceremony:

• TV Performance of the Year: Actress was awarded to Lisa Kudrow, while Jon Hamm received the award for TV Performance of the Year: Actor.

• Jennifer Aniston received the trophy for Movie Performance of the Year: Actress, with Michael Keaton winning Movie Performance of the Year: Actor.

• Kevin Hart was honored as Comedy Star of the Year.

• Billy Eichner was named Breakout Star of the Year.

• TV couple of the year went to Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina of “The Mindy Project.”

• Victoria’s Secret model Karlie Kloss was named Model of the Year.

• Kate Hudson received the award for Celebrity Role Model of the Year.

kate upton

Kate Upton

Dec 19, 2014
7:24 am

ABC News Replacing ‘Nightline’ Anchor (TheWrap)

One of the anchor slots on the long-running ABC News late-night program “Nightline” is changing hands. reports that Dan Abrams is out and Byron Pitts will take the spot.

Abrams has on board since June 2013 and has been co-hosting the show with Dan Harris and Juju Chang.

“On Thursday, ABC News President James Goldston announced Abrams will be returning to managing Abrams Media full time while remaining with ABC as its chief legal analyst,” the report notes.

Pitts has served as ABC’s chief national correspondent since 2013.

In a memo, Goldston wrote, “Byron joins the Nightline team in its strongest position yet in its new time period; in November they won the third consecutive sweep in Total Viewers.”

byron pitts

Byron Pitts

Dec 19, 2014
7:21 am

Today’s Must-Read, to Relieve End-of-Year Stress: ‘The Best Jokes From the World’s Top Comedians in 2014′ (

We found it down-under on a website called Here’s an excerpt from an article the Australian website audaciously titled “The best jokes from the world’s top comedians in 2014.” Be prepared to laugh — or groan — or do both …

I’ve just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I’ll tell you what, never again. — Tim Vine

I worked out that on average I sleep with a little over three people every week. You could say I’m Pi-sexual. — James Bennison

I was walking along the other day, and on the road I saw a small, dead, baby ghost. Although thinking about it, it might have been a handkerchief. — Milton Jones

I used to think an ocean of soda existed, but it was just a Fanta sea. — Bec Hill

My wife told me: “Sex is better on holiday.” That wasn’t a very nice postcard to receive. – Joe Bor

I wonder how long it will be until airlines aren’t only charging for physical baggage, but for emotional baggage too? Not that it’d bother me. I’m fine. Really. Just ask my dad. WHO’S NEVER THERE! — Tegan Higginbotham

Older Articles