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Cord Jefferson’s Insightful Satire Of Race And Media, ‘American Fiction,’ Lights Up TIFF

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TORONTO, Ontario — Cord Jefferson wanted to turn Percival Everett’s “Erasure” into a film script after 50 pages. Halfway through, he noticed Jeffrey Wright as Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, the book’s intellectual protagonist. He knew he wanted to direct it by the time he was completed.

Cord Jefferson, the 41-year-old TV writer of “Succession,” “Master of None,” and “Watchmen,” began work on his directorial debut, “American Fiction,” almost immediately. Similarly, following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, “American Fiction” quickly became the festival’s breakout smash, establishing Jefferson as a prominent new voice in film.

Monk (Wright) is a disgruntled author whose agent (John Ortiz) tells him his writings — the most recent of which is a rewriting of Aeschylus’ “The Persians” — aren’t “Black enough.” “I’m Black,” he says, “and this is my book.”

Monk, played by Wright with sardonic precision and amusing contempt, writes as a drunken lark, a book meant to spoof the kinds that sell and appeal to white audiences’ perceptions of Black people. Under the pen name Stagg R. Leigh, he scribbles a thug life trauma porn named “My Pafology” that, surprise, sells and is bought for movie rights.

“All of the conversations that the book was having were conversations I was having with my friends and had been having for decades,” Jefferson, who worked as an editor for Gawker before shifting to TV, explained in an interview.

“I worked as a journalist for eight or nine years before working in television,” he explained. “I was having the same conversations with Black colleagues in both professions: Why are we always writing about Black misery, trauma, violence, and pain?” Why do people expect this from us? “How come this is the only thing we have to offer culture?”

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Cord Jefferson wanted to turn Percival Everett’s “Erasure” into a film script after 50 pages.

“American Fiction,” which will be released in theatres on November 3 by MGM, is a humorous, jazzy take on Black representation in books and films that delights in criticizing clichés and identity politics while yearning for something more nuanced — something like “American Fiction.”

“One of the main themes is how we see ourselves as unique, specific individuals, and how the world tries to put us into little boxes and sand away all the things that make us unique and special,” Jefferson explained.

Jefferson mentioned during the TIFF premiere that he enjoys films like “12 Years a Slave” and “New Jack City.” However, Jefferson, citing “a lack of imagination when it comes to what Black life looks like,” believes that other films on the spectrum should also exist.

“I feel like Jewish people get ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Annie Hall,'” Jefferson explained.

While Woody Allen’s film is a nod to “American Fiction,” clear analogies are more difficult to find for such a lighthearted but cutting satire. Tracee Ellis Ross, s also appear, as does Issa Rae, who plays the author of “We’s Lives in Da Ghetto.”

“One of the most exciting things has been in the test screenings when we ask people, ‘What does this film remind you of?'” Jefferson adds. “Several people have said that it reminds them of a comedy or a film.”

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Cord Jefferson wanted to turn Percival Everett’s “Erasure” into a film script after 50 pages.

Jefferson, who grew up in Tucson, Arizona, wrote on some issues addressed in his video in a 2014 article titled “The Racism Beat.” In it, he discussed the significance of authors from marginalized groups contributing their unique perspectives to journalism and the difficulties of not being defined by them. Jefferson, who authored essays about donating a kidney to his father and being biracial, began his career as a writer for “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” before moving on to drama and comedy programs. He received an Emmy for co-writing the “Watchman” episode “1921 Tulsa Race Massacre” with Damon Lindelof.

Jefferson claims that directing a picture was not a lifetime desire. He hadn’t attended film school, so he didn’t think it was possible until he spoke with a friend directing an episode of “Master of None” who had studied business rather than film.

“I realised that all you need to do is have a vision and be able to articulate it to other people,” Jefferson adds.

He believes that “American Fiction” is difficult to categorize, indicating he is on the right track.

“This is my first film, and I’m excited to find my voice,” Jefferson adds. “I don’t know my voice yet, but I’m working on it.” People mentioning that the film feels unique makes me think I’m on my way to finding my voice.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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2024 OSCARS: Everything You Need To Know About This Year’s Oscars

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NEW YORK — After a winter of award events, including the Emmys, Golden Globes, and Grammys, the granddaddy of them all, the Academy Awards, is just around the horizon. The 96th Academy Awards may be a coronation for “Oppenheimer,” which leads with 13 nominations, but other films, including “Barbie,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and “Poor Things,” are also in the running.

Here’s what you should know about this year’s show:

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When are the Oscars?

The Oscars will be on Sunday, March 10, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The event will begin at 7 p.m. EDT, one hour earlier than normal, and will be live on ABC. The pre-show will begin at 6:30 p.m. EDT. This is an early reminder to set your clocks – the first day of daylight saving time in the United States.

Are the Oscars livestreamed?
You can access the show on ABC.com and the ABC app with a cable subscription. You may also watch on Hulu Live, YouTube, AT&T, and FuboTV.

Who is hosting the Oscars?
Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted the ceremony last year, will serve as emcee for the fourth time. That matches him with fellow four-timers Whoopi Goldberg and Jack Lemmon, leaving Kimmel trailing only Johnny Carson (five), Billy Crystal (nine), and Bob Hope (eleven) among Oscar hosts. “I always dreamed of hosting the Oscars exactly four times,” Kimmel told the audience.

What films are nominated for Best Picture at the 2024 Oscars?
The ten best-picture nominees are: “American Fiction,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Barbie,” “The Holdovers,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Maestro,” “Oppenheimer,” “Past Lives,” “Poor Things,” and “The Zone of Interest.”

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Who are the favourites?

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” is the front-runner. Nolan, the best director favourite, is expected to win his first Oscar. The best actress category could be a close call between Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) and Emma Stone (“Poor Things”). If Gladstone wins, she will be the first Native American to win an Oscar. Best actor might also be a tight call between Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”) and Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”). They would be first-time winners. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Giamatti’s co-star, is the favourite to win Best supporting actress, while Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”) is predicted to win Best Supporting Actor. Ryan Gosling is his closest competitor for “Barbie.”

What’s with the ‘Barbie’ snubs?
While “Barbie,” 2023’s largest box-office blockbuster, received eight nominations, much of the conversation has focused on the film’s lack of nominations. Greta Gerwig was not nominated for directing, while Margot Robbie did not win best actress. Some have detected reflections of the misogyny spoofed in “Barbie,” while others have noted comedians’ traditionally poor reception at the Oscars. The nominations for “Barbie” include best-adapted screenplay (by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach), best supporting actress (America Ferrera), and two best song nominees: Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For” and Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt’s “I’m Just Ken.”

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Are there any changes to this year’s Oscars?

Though prior Oscars have been marred by slaps, envelope snafus, and debates about which prizes are presented live during the ceremony, this year’s show promises to remain relatively unchanged. All of the awards will be broadcast live. The academy is introducing a new award for best casting, but the trophy will be handed in at the 2026 Oscars.

What else is there to look for?
Composer John Williams has been nominated for his record 49th best-score Oscar for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and 54th overall. Godzilla is making his Oscar debut, with “Godzilla Minus One” nominated for outstanding visual effects. Two non-English language films are nominated for Best Picture for the first time: the German-language Auschwitz drama “The Zone of Interest” and the French courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Fall.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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Beatles To Get A Fab 4 Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

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NEW YORK — The Beatles are receiving the big-screen biography treatment in not just one film but four, with each band member getting his spotlight – all directed by Sam Mendes.

For the first time, the Beatles, traditionally among the most stingy rights holders, are granting complete life and music rights to a film project. Sony Pictures revealed Monday a contract that may dwarf all previous music biopics, with the story of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr divided across four films.

The Mendes-conceived films are intended to be released theatrically in a unique manner, with the films coexisting or intersecting in theatres. Specific release plans will be communicated at a later date. Sony has set a release date of 2027.

beatles

Beatles To Get A Fab Four Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

McCartney, Starr, and the families of John Lennon and George Harrison have all approved the initiative through the band’s Apple Corps. Ltd. Sony Music Publishing has rights to the majority of Beatles’ songs.

“I’m honoured to be telling the story of the greatest rock band of all time, and excited to challenge the notion of what constitutes a trip to the movies,” Mendes stated in an e-mail.

Each film will be told from the perspective of one of the Beatles.

“We intend this to be a uniquely thrilling and epic cinematic experience: four films, told from four different perspectives, which tell a single story about the most celebrated band of all time,” stated Pippa Harris, the film’s producer. “To have The Beatles’ and Apple Corps’ blessing to do this is an immense privilege.”

The Beatles’ most well-known film appearances were during their early career. From 1964 to 1970, they appeared in five films, including “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964) and the animated “Yellow Submarine” (1968). They have, of course, been the subject of numerous documentaries, most recently Peter Jackson’s 2021 “The Beatles: Get Back.”

beatles

Beatles To Get A Fab Four Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

The Beatles reunited in 2023 using artificial intelligence in the newly released song “Now and Then.” The track was made feasible by technology employed by Jackson on “Get Back,” it included a music video directed by the New Zealand director.

Attempts to dramatise the Beatles’ narrative have been intermittent and less effective. A 1979 biography titled “The Birth of the Beatles” was developed while Lennon was still alive, with the Beatles’ original drummer, Pete Best, serving as an adviser. The 1994 indie drama “Backbeat” followed Lennon’s connection with Stuart Sutcliffe before the Beatles became famous. Aaron Taylor-Johnson portrayed a teenage Lennon in the 2009 “Nowhere Boy” film.

However, music biopics have become a lucrative business in the last decade. Box-office successes like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Rocketman,” and “Elvis” have prompted Hollywood executives to seek the next jukebox blockbuster. Over Presidents Day weekend, “Bob Marley: One Love,” co-produced with the Marley estate, was the top-grossing film in theatres. A Michael Jackson biopic is currently under production.

beatles

Beatles To Get A Fab Four Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

“Theatrical film events today must be culturally significant. “Sam’s daring, large-scale idea is that and more,” said Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group.

The combination of Mendes’ crew “with the music and stories of four young men who changed the world, will rock audiences all over the globe,” Rothman added. “We are deeply grateful to all parties and look forward ourselves to breaking some rules with Sam’s uniquely artistic vision.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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George Santos Sues Late-Night Host Jimmy Kimmel For Tricking Him Into Making Videos To Ridicule Him

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NEW YORK — Former United States Representative George Santos said in a complaint filed Saturday that late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel duped him into creating films on the Cameo app that were used to mock the disgraced New York Republican on the show.

Kimmel, ABC, and Walt Disney Co. are named as defendants in the action filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. A Disney staffer was identified as a media contact for the Jimmy Kimmel Live! The show has yet to respond to an email from The Associated Press requesting comment.

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George Santos Sues Late-Night Host Jimmy Kimmel For Tricking Him Into Making Videos To Ridicule Him

George, who was ejected from the House of Representatives last year after being charged with numerous counts of fraud and stealing from contributors, is suing for alleged copyright infringement, fraudulent inducement, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment.

Kimmel misrepresented himself to persuade George to create personalised videos “capitalising on and ridiculing” his “gregarious personality,” according to the lawsuit.

Individuals and corporations contacted Santos via Cameo to request personalised video messages. According to the complaint, Kimmel made at least 14 requests using fictitious identities and storylines, which Santos was unaware of.

santos

George Santos Sues Late-Night Host Jimmy Kimmel For Tricking Him Into Making Videos To Ridicule Him

According to the claim, the films began playing on a segment titled “Will Santos Say It?” in December.

In one of the videos, Santos congratulates the alleged winner of a beef-eating contest, praising the achievement of eating 6 pounds (2.7 kilogrammes) of loose ground beef in under 30 minutes as “amazing and impressive.”

“Frankly, Kimmel’s fake requests were amusing, but what he did was a clear violation of copyright law,” said Robert Fantone, an attorney for George, in an email.

Santos is seeking $750,000 in statutory damages for the five videos he generated that were featured on the show and numerous social media sites. He also requests that other damages be established at trial.

santos

George Santos Sues Late-Night Host Jimmy Kimmel For Tricking Him Into Making Videos To Ridicule Him

The former senator is facing a raft of criminal charges, including allegations that he cheated campaign donors, lied to Congress about his wealth, took unemployment benefits while employed, and used campaign contributions to pay for personal expenses such as designer apparel. He is also accused of making unauthorised payments on credit cards belonging to several benefactors.

George pleaded not guilty to an amended indictment in October.

On Tuesday, Democrat Tom Suozzi won a special election to fill Santos’ previous seat.

SOURCE – (AP)

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