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Late-Night TV Shows Go Dark As Writers Strike For Better Pay

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NEW YORK — The first Hollywood strike in 15 years began Tuesday when the economic demands of the streaming era spurred unionized TV and film writers to picket outside major studios for better compensation, a work slowdown that has already forced most late-night shows to air reruns.

Members of the Writers Guild of America chanted outside the Manhattan headquarters where NBCUniversal was promoting their Peacock streaming service to advertisers, “No contracts, no content!”

After failing to agree on a new deal with the trade group representing Hollywood studios and production businesses, the union’s 11,500 film and television writers put down their pens and laptops.

The union is demanding greater minimum wages, more writers per program, and shorter exclusive contracts, among other things, all of which it claims have been eroded by the content explosion fueled by streaming.

“There’s too much work and not enough pay,” said demonstrator Sean Crespo, 46, a writer who worked on the former TBS show “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee.”

Depending on how long the strike lasts, the labor conflict could have a cascading effect on TV and film productions, and it comes at a time when streaming services are under increasing pressure from Wall Street to generate profitability.

Late-night television was the first to suffer the effects, just like during the 100-day writers’ strike 2007.

All the top late-night shows, staffed by writers who write monologues and jokes for their hosts, went dark immediately. Reruns were planned for NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live,” CBS’s “The Late Show,” and NBC’s “Late Night” throughout the week.

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which was set to air a fresh episode on Saturday, will likewise go black and instead air reruns.

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“This nation owes so much to unions,” Colbert stated. “Unions are why we have weekends; by extension, we have TGI Fridays.”

“Everyone, including myself, hopes both sides can agree.” “However, I believe the writers’ demands are reasonable,” presenter Stephen Colbert stated on Monday’s “Late Show.”

“This nation owes so much to unions,” Colbert stated. “Unions are why we have weekends; by extension, we have TGI Fridays.”

Tony Kushner (“The Fabelmans”) and Danny Strong (“Dopesick”) were among those protesting in New York on Tuesday.

The strike’s influence on scripted shows and films will become apparent. Fall TV schedules could be thrown off if the strike lasts all summer. Meanwhile, those with completed scripts are permitted to continue filming.

Late-night hosts eventually returned to the air during the 2007 strike and improvised through broadcasts. When “Tonight” show host Jay Leno began writing his monologues, he enraged WGA leadership.

One late-night show will remain on the air. The network announced Tuesday that Fox News’ “Gutfeld!” with Greg Gutfeld will continue to run new episodes.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, representing studios and production groups, said it proposed “generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in streaming residuals.”

The trade group stated that it was willing to increase its offer “but was unwilling to do so because of the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the guild continues to insist upon.”

For months, many people have predicted a government shutdown. Last month, the writers unanimously voted to authorize a strike, with 98% of the membership in favor. Writers claim that income needs to keep up with inflation, that TV writer rooms have shrunk too much, and that the existing formula for calculating residuals must be redesigned.

Streaming has increased the number of series and films produced yearly, providing more opportunities for writers. However, writers claim they earn less than they used to while working under more stressful conditions. According to the WGA, “the companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce.”

writers

Writers claim that income needs to keep up with inflation, that TV writer rooms have shrunk too much.

The union wants writers to be paid more in advance. This is because the advent of streaming has phased out many of the back-end fees that writers have historically profited from, such as syndication and international licensing.

According to the studios ‘ trade association, the main sticking points in reaching an agreement are so-called mini-rooms (the guild is seeking a minimum number of scribes per writer room) and the length of work contracts.

According to the writers’ organization, more flexibility is required for writers when they are contracted for series that are often shorter in duration than the once-standard 20-plus episode broadcast season. They also request stricter regulation over artificial intelligence, which authors believe might provide producers a faster way to complete a WGA writer’s work.

“Understand that our fight is the same fight that will be coming to your professional sector next: it’s the devaluing of human effort, skill, and talent in favor of automation and profits,” writer-director Justine Bateman stated.

Many studios and production companies are cutting back on their spending. The Walt Disney Company is laying off 7,000 people. Warner Bros. Discovery is lowering costs to reduce its debt. Netflix has put a damper on spending growth.

With a strike widely anticipated, writers have scrambled to get screenplays in, and studios have worked to prepare their pipelines to keep churning out content for the foreseeable future. However, the impact on local economies can be significant. Los Angeles lost $2.1 billion in economic production during the previous strike.

“From a business standpoint, we’re assuming the worst,” Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said last month. “We’ve prepared ourselves. There has been a lot of content produced.”

Overseas series could also help fill the void. “We have a large base of upcoming shows and films from around the world,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said during the earnings call in April.

The WGA strike could be just the beginning. Both the Directors Guild of America and the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, have contracts that expire in June. Those bargaining sessions will discuss some of the same issues concerning the streaming business model.

On Tuesday, the actors’ union invited its members to join the writers’ picket lines in solidarity. ___

Aron Ranen and David Bauder contributed to this report.

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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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