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New ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Spot Focuses on Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren
“Star Wars” has a Thanksgiving treat for impatient fans — a new, minute-long spot for “The Force Awakens,” which features a better look at Adam Driver’s villainous Kylo Ren, who — while initially believed to be a Sith thanks to his red crossguard lightsaber — has been revealed to be a member of the mysterious Knights of Ren, and a devoted follower of Darth Vader. In one of the new shots, we even see Daisy Ridley’s Rey firing a blaster at Ren, who manages to deflect the shots with his blade.
While the first trailer for the hotly-anticipated sequel began with the ominous voiceover, “There has been an awakening… have you felt it?” the new promo reveals a little more of that conversation, believed to be between Kylo Ren and First Order boss Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), who has remained unseen in the promotional materials for “Episode VII” so far »
- Laura Prudom
Roman Polanski Will Not Be Extradited to U.S. From Poland
Roman Polanski has escaped the threat of extradition from Poland to the U.S. Prosecutors in Krakow, Poland, said Friday that they would not challenge a local court ruling that the director should not be extradited as they had found no grounds for an appeal.
The decision brings to an end efforts by the U.S. government to bring Polanski back to the U.S. to face justice for having had sex with a 13-year-old girl at a photo shoot in Los Angeles in the late 1970s. Polanski, who holds both Polish and French citizenship, is now free to live and work in Poland.
“Speaking for Polanski, I can say that we feel a great relief that this case has ended. And this means that it will be possible for Polanski to start making a planned film in Poland,” Jan Olszewski, one of Polanski’s lawyers, said, according to Reuters. »
- Leo Barraclough
12 Days of Binging? December Gets Busy With TV Series Premieres
Television’s Christmas vacation has been canceled.
The month of December used to be consigned to reruns, hoary holiday specials, movies and classic TV marathons. Network execs were loathe to launch any major priorities in the month because of the conventional wisdom that potential viewers were too distracted by holiday-related pursuits.
But a quick look at the premiere schedule for the final four weeks of the year underscores how busy the frame has become for new and returning series premieres.
NBC has its highest-profile new comedy of the season, the Eva Longoria starrer “Telenovela,” getting a showcase preview with two episodes airing Dec. 7 behind the penultimate episode of “The Voice’s” winter season. “Superstore,” the America Ferrera-Ben Feldman workplace comedy that has generated solid advance buzz, opens for business with two episodes airing on Nov. 30, also behind “The Voice.”
- Cynthia Littleton
The Man in the High Castle Recap: World War III
The penultimate episode of The Man in the High Castle is choppier than the two chapters that precede it, leaving reason for concern as Amazon's breakthrough drama wraps up its first season. Will Frank Spotnitz and the team will stick the landing? Let's hope the show rallies for a strong finale.When we last saw Joe (Luke Kleintank) and Juliana (Alexa Davalos), they had escaped the Yakuza club where Joe attempted to buy the Man in the High Castle's latest film — but both were kidnapped by gangsters as the Kempeitai stormed the building. After being thrown in a dark room, Juliana reveals that she was supposed to leave town with Frank (Rupert Evans), who we see refusing to skip town without her. Joe is curious how Juliana knew about the Kempeitai ambush, but she doesn't reveal that her stepdad works surveillance for the Japanese. After she admits that she thought »
- Brian Tallerico
‘Gods of Egypt’ Director, Studio Apologize for Mostly White Cast: ‘We Failed to Live Up to Our Own Standards’
Director Alex Proyas and Lionsgate, the studio behind “Gods of Egypt,” have come out and apologized after the film’s casting prompted online outcries. The fantasy epic came under fire after placing white actors like Gerard Butler, Brenton Thwaites and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the roles of gods and mortals who set off on an adventure in ancient Egypt. “The process of casting a movie has many complicated variables, but it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse,” Proyas said in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by the decisions we made. »
- Linda Ge
Listen to Erykah Badu and Andre 3000's Dreamy 'Hello,' Which Is a Dream Come True
Erykah Badu released her much-anticipated, phone-themed mixtape But You Cain’t Use My Phone (which we were very thankful for) at midnight last night, exclusively via iTunes/Apple Music. Among the desirable 11 tracks is one particular gem: a collaboration with former lover Andre 3000. Titled "Hello," it's Badu's ethereal, dreamy rendition of The Isley Brothers' "Hello It's Me," infused with 3000's rapid-fire raps. Listen above, and enjoy. After dropping the mixtape, Badu also shared her phone number (in three clues, below) so fans could call her and let her know which song was their favorite: You can grab But You Cain’t Use My Phone, which was recorded over a 12-day period in her home studio and also includes a Drake feature, in full, here; you can also stream it below, via DatPiff: »
- Sean Fitz-Gerald
Watch M.I.A.'s Topical Music Video for 'Borders'
One day after Thanksgiving, M.I.A. has unspooled a self-directed, politically charged vid for her latest song, "Borders." The rapper joins throngs of refugees scaling barb-wired fences and traveling via boat, as she asks: "Borders, what's up with that? Politics, what's up with that? ... Your privilege, what's up with that?" Soon after dropping the visuals, M.I.A. explained via social media that the topical video, filled with powerful imagery and Busby Berkeley-esque shots, is dedicated to her uncle, who helped her family leave Sri Lanka many years ago: Watch above, and scope out the lyrics here: The song will also be available on M.I.A's forthcoming studio album, Matahdatah, according to Pitchfork. »
- Sean Fitz-Gerald
How They Transformed Eddie Redmayne Into 'The Danish Girl'
The subtle craft of transforming transgender pioneer Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) in "The Danish Girl" is one of the great stories this awards season involving production design, cinematography, costume design and makeup. For Eve Stewart, the way into the production design was through the celebratory paintings of Elbe's wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander), along with the dramatic difference in settings (restrictive Copenhagen vs. progressive Paris, though actually shot in Brussels). For makeup and hair designer Jan Sewell and costume designer Paco Delgado, the contrasts in facial sculpting, hair coloring and fashion were crucial to the feminization of Elbe (born Einar Wegene), who became the first known recipient of sex reassignment surgery. (Additionally, cinematographer Danny Cohen played with light to explore the physical and emotional journey and made subtle adjustments in camera height to accentuate Elbe's feminine side.) "It's »
- Bill Desowitz
Rashida Jones and Jimmy Fallon Reteamed to Crush Another Medley of Holiday Parodies
The holiday season's infamous singing-and-dancing duo is back for another round of Weird Al-style parodies. With the help of Queen Latifah and Eric Nally this time, The Tonight Show crew has put festive spins on such hits as Rihanna's "Bbhmm," Silento's "Watch Me," and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's "Downtown," among many, many others (all lyrics available here). Jones also used her visit to reveal the elusive secret behind successfully pulling off Drake's "Hotline Bling" dance:So you too can crush the holidays. »
- Sean Fitz-Gerald
Ridley Scott Will Follow Up Alien: Covenant With Two More Prometheus Sequels, More Convoluted Mythology, More Explanations
When Ridley Scott announced his return to science fiction with the mammoth production Prometheus (2012), rumors immediately began to eddy: would it be a prequel to Alien? Scott wouldn't say, though the answer was obviously, "Yes, it is a prequel." Now, following the announcement that his Prometheus sequel will actually be another Alien prequel called Alien: Covenant, Scott has ditched the enigmatic ambiguities of his Prometheus marketing and is playing this one straight: he will follow up Alien: Covenant with two more Prometheus sequels, finally tying it all in to his 1979 opus Alien. "It's a very complex story," he said of the new film at a press conference in Sydney. "It's an evolution of what I first did with Prometheus 1." It will chronicle the plight of a crew of the colony ship Covenant, who discover a Stygian non-paradise, the sole inhabitant of which is the robotic David (Michael »
- Greg Cwik
'Radiator' Is Painfully Poignant Story of Aging in '45 Years' Vein
As if young couples don’t have enough pressures on their relationship these days, British filmmakers seem intent on reminding them that it will all end in tears, anyway. “45 Years”, about an elderly couple whose relationship hits an unexpected snag, is currently winning plaudits, with Charlotte Rampling in getting Oscar buzz. Shortly before, another British film dealt with a similar subject, though widening the family net to include a son. “Radiator” is only now receiving a theatrical release in the UK, a year after its 2014 debut at the London Film Festival followed by a handful of festival awards including Special Jury Prize at the Sarasota Film Festival. But better late than never, for this is a lovely, painfully poignant little film, executive-produced by Rachel Weisz. It starts with a telling voicemail, as a woman’s voice meekly reports that “Leonard has got rather stuck on the sofa, and won’t »
- Demetrios Matheou
French TV Giants Canal Plus, Lagardere Boost Their Presence Across Africa
Canal Plus and Lagardere Entertainment are among the French media conglomerates stepping up their presence across Africa, the continent that boasts the fastest-growing French-speaking population in the world.
More than 100 million people in the region speak the language, with that number projected to rise to as many as 600 million by 2050. “There’s more development to be expected for the French media (in Africa) than in France, where the market is pretty saturated,” says Francois Deplanck, of Canal Plus Overseas.
The Canal Plus Group has been active in Africa for two decades, and is the leading pay-tv platform among French-speaking countries on the continent — including Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco, nations on which economists are particularly bullish. In October 2014, as part of a more aggressive push into the region, it launched A+, a premium pan-African entertainment channel based in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, which screens local content from 17 countries across the continent. »
- Christopher Vourlias
Elan Mastai, Jonathan Topper Teamed Up at Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch Event
Canadian screenwriter Elan Mastai (“What If”) couldn’t have predicted that a chance meeting with scribe Jonathan Tropper at the Whistler Film Festival would result in a $1.25 million sale for his debut sci-fi novel, “All Our Wrongs Today,” and a movie deal with Amy Pascal’s new shingle. But that’s exactly what happened.
Mastai and Tropper were in Whistler in 2013 to take part in Variety’s annual 10 Screenwriters to Watch event. A friendship bloomed and Tropper not only introduced Mastai to his lit agent, whom they now share, but also gave invaluable career advice.
“We don’t get out much, we writers,” jokes Phyllis Nagy (“Carol”), who attended Whistler as part of last year’s 10. When it comes to sharing writing insights, she equates scribes to superstitious baseball players.
“It’s as if you let that information into the ether, it somehow saps your power to do it.”
- Katherine Brodsky
International Director You Should Know: Visar Morina
The director behind Kosovo’s second-ever entry in the foreign-language Oscar race is himself a debutant.
Germany-based, Kosovo-born writer-helmer Visar Morina’s feature bow, “Babai,” burst onto the scene at the Munich Film Festival in July, winning three times at the fest’s German Cinema New Talent Awards — for director, script and actor — the last prize shared by Astrit Kabashi and Val Maloku, who play the father and son in the film. A week later, Morina won the director prize at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
“Babai,” which means “father,” tells the story of 10-year-old Nori, who lives in pre-war Kosovo. His father, Gezim, is the center of his world. When Gezim leaves one day without warning to look for work in Germany, Nori sets out to find him.
Born in Kosovo in 1979, Morina moved to Germany with his family when he was 15. He started working on the script for »
- Leo Barraclough
Whistler Film Festival: Canadian Content Meets Kudos Contenders
The Whistler Film Festival, which dubs itself as Canada’s “coolest” film fest, may have just gotten a shade cooler. In time for its 15-year anniversary, the event has landed the Canadian premiere of Oscar hopeful “Carol” for opening night, Dec. 2.
Since industry vet Paul Gratton took the reins as the fest’s director of programming in June 2012, there’s been a snowball effect. That year, Whistler opened with Michael McGowan’s “Still Mine,” followed by Jason Priestley’s directorial debut, “Cas & Dylan,” starring Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Maslany.
The next year, Gratton scored a coup with the Western Canada premiere of “The Imitation Game.”
“You can see the progression and you can see how the distributors are beginning to see the value of Whistler, »
- Katherine Brodsky
‘Truth’ Star Dennis Quaid Remembers How He Used Variety to Land Early Roles
Dennis Quaid appears in the Dan “Rathergate” film “Truth” and stars in Crackle’s art-world drama “The Art of More,” bowing Nov. 19. Before his breakout in 1979’s “Breaking Away” the young Texas transplant was living in a cramped Hollywood apartment, flipping through Variety for audition notices. In 1976, he landed a part in the Jim Bridges coming-of-age drama “September 30, 1955.”
What do you remember about your first year as a struggling actor in L.A.?
I got here in ’75. I had a list of agents for SAG, and I sent my picture to all the agents, and I got turned down by all the agents. So I turned to Variety for the “Films in the Future” column. It would list (upcoming movies) and the casting directors. I started calling all the casting directors, and nine out of 10 would say no, but one would say yes, and that’s how I learned to do interviews. »
- Malina Saval
Skye Terrier Good Time Charlie Wins Best in Show at National Dog Show
A Skye Terrier named Charlie and his handler had a good time on Thanksgiving. Good Time Charlie was named Best in Show at NBC’s “National Dog Show” on Thursday, which followed the network’s “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” The pup was Reserve Best in Show earlier this year at Westminster. Thursday’s Purina-sponsored competition was judged by Elizabeth Sweigart, who had the highest praise for her blue ribbon-victor. “He is a lovely example of the breed,” the Best in Show judge said of the four-and-a-half year-old. “He is in impeccable condition, hard-muscled with a beautiful coat. For his breed, »
- Tony Maglio
Jk Rowling Defends Harry Potter Naming His Son After Severus Snape
J.K. Rowling has had to answer — again — for why her beloved “Harry Potter” series ended with the boy wizard naming one of his sons after Professor Severus Snape, his greatest frenemy. “Why did you pick Snape to name Harry’s kid after? I’m genuinely curious as he was nothing but abusive towards everyone,” said one Twitter user, prompting the author’s reply on Friday, which involved the seeming villain’s affection for the boy wizard’s late mother, Lily. “Snape died for Harry out of love for Lily. Harry paid him tribute in forgiveness and gratitude,” she said on Twitter. »
- Linda Ge
Creed Director Ryan Coogler on Reshaping the Rocky Legacy
With Creed now in theaters, Rocky fans can finally see how helmer Ryan Coogler, the brain also behind 2013's acclaimed Fruitvale Station, and star Michael B. Jordan, who plays Stallone’s fervent protégé, have shaken up the big-screen boxer's legacy. To shed light on the much-hyped film, Coogler sat down with us and discussed his shift in direction with the Rocky spin-off, the challenges of pitching the Creed concept to Sylvester Stallone, and his commitment to diversifying today's cinematic landscape. You inherit a lot of history with these movies. How much is it an advantage versus a liability?Every advantage is kind of a liability, right? We wanted to navigate that as best we could. We’ve got the old characters, but we’re following a new one. The best advantage is we have a different perspective on all the things we had before — the perspective of Adonis. Adonis Johnson is played by Michael B. »
- John Horn
‘Hunger Games’ Feasts at Thanksgiving Box Office; ‘Creed,’ ‘Dinosaur’ Divide Leftovers
Katniss Everdeen ruled on Thanksgiving Day as “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” dominated at the nation’s multiplexes with $10.4 million, bringing the film to a first-week U.S. total of $146.7 million.
Lionsgate’s fourth and final film in the Jennifer Lawrence franchise easily topped the two new entries — Disney’s “The Good Dinosaur,” which drew $6.55 million from 3,749 locations for a two-day total of $16.4 million, and New Line-mgm’s “Creed,” which scored $6.45 million Thursday from 3,284 theaters for a two-day total of $12.4 million.
The trio of top titles are performing in line with pre-Thanksgiving estimates and should remain solid performers for the rest of the holiday weekend. “Mockingjay 2” is expected to finish the five-day period between $70 million and $75 million, while “The Good Dinosaur” will wind up with as much as $60 million and “Creed” could come in above $40 million.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak, credited the studios with smart scheduling. »
- Dave McNary
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