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  • Judge Doubts WGA Claim That Packaging Fees Are Kickbacks January 24, 2020
    A federal judge seemed skeptical on Friday of the Writers Guild of America’s claim that packaging fees amount to a criminal kickback to agents. Judge Andre Birotte heard more than two hours of arguments from attorneys for the guild and three agencies: WME, UTA and CAA. He said he would issue a ruling at a […]
    gmaddaus
  • Box Office: ‘Bad Boys for Life’ to Lead Weekend With $26 Million January 24, 2020
    Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life” is dominating North American moviegoing with about $26 million at 2,155 sites, early estimates showed Friday. Universal’s World War I epic “1917” will finish at a distant second with about $13 million in the wake of receiving 10 Academy Award nominations and the top film award from the Producers Guild […]
    Dave McNary
  • ‘Bambi’ Is Next Up For Disney Live-Action Remake January 24, 2020
    From bears to lions to deer: Disney is developing a live-action remake of its 1942 animated feature “Bambi,” Variety has confirmed. Screenwriters Geneva Robertson-Dworet (“Captain Marvel”) and Lindsey Beer (“Sierra Burgess Is a Loser”) will write the screenplay, with Chris and Paul Weitz’s Depth of Field producing. The film will employ the same photo-realist […]
    Adam B. Vary
  • Quibi CEO Meg Whitman Apologizes for Comparing Journalists to Sexual Predators January 24, 2020
    Quibi CEO Meg Whitman apologized for comparing journalists to sexual predators, saying her remarks did not convey her true feelings about the press. “I used an analogy that was inappropriate and just plain wrong,” Whitman said in an interview at Variety‘s studio at the Sundance Film Festival. “None of us are ever perfect. I didn’t […]
    varietybrentlang
  • ‘The Fight’: Film Review January 24, 2020
    In 1988, presidential candidate George H.W. Bush dismissed his rival Michael Dukakis as a “card-carrying member of the ACLU.” By contrast, Bush proclaimed himself “for the people,” as though the American Civil Liberties Union, a nonprofit organization that defends the equal human rights established in the Constitution, was instead championing UFOs. There’s a […]
    Amy Nicholson
  • Sean Hannity Set for Super Bowl Pre-Game Interview With President Trump January 24, 2020
    Sean Hannity has talked with President Donald Trump many times, but never quite like this. Hannity is the latest TV-news personality to take on what has in recent years developed into a Super Bowl Sunday tradition: a pre-game interview with the President of the United States. Savannah Guthrie, Gayle King and Bill O’Reilly are among […]
    Brian Steinberg
  • CBS Orders Comedy Pilot From ‘9JKL’ Creator, Comedian James Acaster January 24, 2020
    CBS is developing a project that takes a comedic look at the age-old “12 Angry Men” dilemma of how does a jury come to a unanimous verdict? The network has issued a pilot order for “We The Jury,” a hybrid series from “9JKL” co-creator Dana Klein and Stephanie Darrow. The project hails from CBS Television […]
    Will Thorne
  • Will Forte Lands Oceanfront Contemporary Near Monterey January 24, 2020
    Actor and comedian Will Forte has splashed out $6.25 million for a dynamically sited contemporary in the rugged but ritzy and seriously expensive Carmel Highlands area, about ten miles south of the coastal community of Monterey, California. As was noted by the celebrity property gossips at Realtor.com, who first sussed out the clandestine late 2019 […] […]
    PMC
  • Taylor Swift Bows Out of Unannounced Grammy Performance January 24, 2020
    Taylor Swift has bowed out of a possible performance on the Grammy Awards program Sunday night just as stealthily as it appeared she might have bowed into it, multiple sources tell Variety. Her possible appearance on the show had been kept a secret — albeit not an extremely well-kept secret —  so her exit won’t […]
    chrislwillman
  • ‘American Idol’ Producer Fremantle Looks To Reduce Global Environmental Footprint January 24, 2020
    Aiming to reduce its waste and emissions, London-based “Idol” producer-distributor Fremantle has formed a partnership with Albert, a collaborative industry-backed project aimed at tackling the environmental impact of the entertainment sector.  Founded in 2011, Albert is governed by an industry consortium that includes BAFTA, independent companies and broadca […]
    msravindran

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  • ICYMI: Falling iguanas, deadly spiders and swarms of locusts, oh my! January 25, 2020
    Falling iguanas, killer spiders and unprecedented locust swarms — all fueled by weather extremes. Not to mention an epic blizzard in Canada, a deadly, days-long storm in Europe and a rare January tornado in the Pacific Northwest. You’d be forgiven for thinking these are signs of the apocalypse. As far as we can tell, it...
  • Spain scrambles to recover after Gloria leaves path of destruction January 25, 2020
    Residents and officials throughout Spain have struggled to grapple with the destruction Storm Gloria has left in its wake. The battered country, now scrambling to clean up the mess, faces damaged railways and collapsed bridges amid the wreckage. Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez spent the week analyzing the stricken regions of the country, including a... […]
  • Groundhog Day storm brewing? Forecasters monitoring the situation closely January 24, 2020
    The weather pattern seems to be stuck in “weekend storm mode,” and one such potential weather system could take shape and impact the eastern United States in early February, making it the third weekend in a row that the region faces a storm threat. A storm affected the central and northeastern United States with a...
  • Sluggish storm to keep dumping snow over Midwest January 24, 2020
    A slow-moving storm already responsible for dumping more than half a foot of snow on parts of Missouri and Iowa will continue to produce fresh powder over a portion of the Midwest as it sluggishly drifts eastward into the weekend. As snow returns to Chicago and Milwaukee and reaches Detroit, air and ground travel disruptions...
  • Drawn out of darkness: This US town just saw 1st sunrise since November January 24, 2020
    For the first time since Nov. 18, the northernmost city in the United States saw the sun rise above the horizon on Thursday afternoon. Utqiaġvik, formerly known as Barrow, is located on the northern tip of Alaska far above the Arctic Circle. After 65 days of darkness, the sun rose at 1:09 p.m. AKST on...
  • Weather impacting NFL Pro Bowlers all week in Orlando January 23, 2020
    Following a late-week storm with drenching rain and thunder, a new storm is forecast to take shape over Texas and advance eastward over the Gulf of Mexico region this weekend. A powerhouse storm is not expected to develop, but the system has the potential to disrupt some weekend outdoor plans from the Texas coast to the...
  • Australians told to be on alert for deadly spider after heat, recent rain January 23, 2020
    After dealing with catastrophic fires then flooding and hailstorms, Australians are being warned to watch out for one of the world’s most deadly spiders due to what experts call “perfect conditions” for the arachnid to thrive. In a video posted to the Australian Reptile Park Facebook page, spokesman Dan Rumsey said the escalated threat from...
  • Northeast to face wide range of impacts from next potent winter storm January 23, 2020
    A storm trekking across the country toward the Northeast will arrive this weekend, but the latest forecast indicates a shift in the amount of snow it will produce — and where the snow will fall. Even though the storm slated for the Northeast continues to trend warmer, snow is still forecast to bury the northern...
  • Tragedy in NJ as 2 teens die after falling through thin ice January 23, 2020
    A pair of tragedies unfolded in New Jersey on Wednesday night when five teenagers fell through thin ice covering ponds in two towns across the state. The separate accidents left two teens dead and numerous others injured, including the emergency responders who worked to save them. In Carteret, located about 25 miles southwest of New...
  • 'Unprecedented' locust swarms devastating several countries in Africa fueled by multiple weather factors January 23, 2020
    Photos show intense swarms of desert locusts surrounding villagers in Kenya, where the insects are destroying crops.

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  • The Good Guy
    In August 2017 Ronan Farrow, then an investigative correspondent at NBC News, attended a meeting with Kim Harris, the general counsel of NBCUniversal, regarding the status of his story on sexual harassment and assault by the renowned film producer Harvey Weinstein. In the meeting, Farrow writes in his book Catch and Kill, Harris warned that the network might be “open to a tortious interference argument,” as several of Farrow’s sources, including the actress Rose McGowan and an Italian model named Ambra Gutierrez, apparently had breached their confidentiality agreements by speaking to him. Farrow was aghast at this warning.
  • Among the Syrian Militiamen of Turkey’s Intervention in Libya
    I asked the Syrians how long they expected to stay in Libya. “As long as we are needed,” their commander replied. “We don’t want Libya to be destroyed like Syria.” Preventing this outcome, he said, meant confronting the foreign state that had tipped the scales of the Tripoli battle in General Haftar’s favor late last year—a bitter foe they know all too well. “For us, Russia is the biggest enemy,” he said. Just two days earlier, he claimed, his fighters had killed a Russian sniper not far from their villa near the front line. It was a form of payback for these Syrians, who had watched their cities being destroyed by Russian bombs.
  • Learning to Fight
    Ben Lerner is the author of three novels, three books of poetry, and numerous critical essays, including the book-length monograph The Hatred of Poetry. The more books of prose he writes, the more clearly a kind of common persona, singular yet plural, emerges across his work: his narrators, whether fictional or not, share some facts of their background with one another, while also writing Lerner’s poems and thinking lines from Lerner’s essays. Together, they—or the plural he, a poet and reluctant novelist, born in Kansas and housed in Brooklyn—sprawl easily across the fiction-nonfiction divide.
  • The Year of the Amazon?
    In September, a group of environmental activists and artists, alarmed by fires raging out of control in the Amazon rainforest, and by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s ruinous policy of encouraging commercial development there, urged the notoriously chintzy Bezos to buy the Amazon rainforest. “So, do it, Jeff,” they wrote. “Invest in your legacy, before everyone figures out where all the cardboard comes from.” Those ubiquitous Prime delivery vans during the holidays are part of Amazon’s burgeoning “fulfillment industry.” First "procurement," then "fulfillment." Exactly what kind of "customer satisfaction" is Amazon aiming for? If Bezos named his firm after the Amazon River, how did the river itself come to be called the Amazon? Was the rainforest once inhabited by golden-crowned women warriors mounted on fleet-footed steeds?
  • ‘Collapsologie’: Constructing an Idea of How Things Fall Apart
    Heat waves, droughts, and other forms of extreme weather will increase in frequency and severity. Agriculture will become less reliable and suffer declining yields. Rising sea-levels will mean the submersion of many coastal regions. Most discussions of the environmental crisis stop there, however. We then go on to demand an end to fossil-fuel extraction and the redoubling of efforts to convert our economies to renewable forms of energy. The collapsologues go further. The flippancy with which they declare that a future of economic meltdown and societal failure is just around the corner can be quite chilling: “By 2035, the French Republic, the European Union, will not exist.”
  • Ruth Glass: Beyond ‘Gentrification’
    In her introduction to London: Aspects of Change (1964), Ruth Glass wrote that the city was “too vast, too complex, too contrary and too moody” to be known entirely. The same could be said about Glass herself, an urban sociologist based at University College London from the 1950s to her death in 1990. She left no archive for scholars to sift through. The term she coined, gentrification, has become ubiquitous, but she remains out of sight. Her longtime friend, the late Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, described her as a “tiny, combative, bird-like woman.” Yet even beyond coining gentrification—the term that outlived her—Glass set the agenda for a generation of postwar social scientists, breaking new ground in both the study of race relations and in community studies. 
  • Ghana’s Handmade Movie Poster Boom
    When you walk into “Baptized by Beefcake: The Golden Age of Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana,” an exhibition now at New York City’s Poster House, you are confronted by the stares of film heroes of the late Eighties and early Nineties—each with a distinctly Ghanaian rendering. For over a decade beginning in the 1980s, paintings like these—typically made using acrylic paints on recycled flour sacks—were an answer to the country’s lack of large-scale commercial color printing. Local interpretations of the original Hollywood VHS sleeves, or representations of scenes from the movies embedded with local symbolism, ushered in this genre of “Africanized” Hollywood aesthetics. Across a continent reeling from revolutions and counterrevolutions, characters like Rambo, Conan, and Commando particularly resonated with viewers inspired by their exaggerated strength and daring confrontation with the powers that be.
  • The Middle East: Trump Blunders In
    As the United States under Trump lurches between withdrawal of its troops from Iraq and Syria and sending more, between reasonable restraint in its use of force and then suddenly assassinating a regional leader, it has worsened the anarchic conditions that have waxed and waned in the region since the Iran–Iraq War of 1980–1988, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and the Gulf War that followed six months later. In the intervening years the US destroyed an already fragile society and unleashed sectarian violence in Iraq, prolonged a devastating civil war in Syria while inadvertently arming jihadists, negotiated then revoked a historic nuclear deal with Iran and sought to provoke a civil war there by strangling its economy, whipsawed its Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS, helped Saudis and Emiratis wreak havoc in Yemen, and along with its NATO allies contributed to the fragmentation of Libya. In the process, it has left the long-standing competition between Israel and Iran for regional primacy unmediated and unresolved.
  • Do the Democrats Have a Foreign Policy?
    Trump’s successor, whether in 2021 or 2025, will inherit a uniquely demanding international agenda both with respect to specific policies that need to be reversed and, for the first time in many decades, real uncertainty about what priorities—what strategic vision—Washington should adopt in their place.
  • Why Macron Refuses to Retire in France’s Pensions Battle
    Macron’s overhaul of pensions is a response to what the French conservative right has wanted to accomplish for two decades, without success. De Gaulle used to say, “Between me and the Communists, nothing,” by which he meant: as long as his only opponent was the Communist Party, he would always keep power. Macron believes that social democracy is no longer a threat to his rule. So, if he succeeds in siphoning off most of the old conservative and center-right voters, the Gaullists and the Sarkozy-ites, then there will be nothing between him and Marine Le Pen. If populist far right is his only opponent, he will always win. It’s a risky game.
  • Australia: The Fires and Our Future
    Australia is no stranger to bushfire. In 1994, in Sydney, I lost a house to one, and in 2002, just north of Sydney, I fought off another. But I’ve never experienced anything like the current fire season before. These bushfires have been burning since September, taking lives and property across the nation, but the worst came in late December, just as families were settling into their holidays. Our country is the world’s fifteenth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and at the back of the pack for climate action, as its emissions from the burning of fossil fuels continue to grow. Australians now understand that each ton of CO2 we emit will fuel tomorrow’s fires. As a result of the last decade of lost opportunities, much future damage is already locked in. But things can always get worse—and only decisive global action on climate change, with Australia playing a central role—can avert that.
  • William Barr: The Carl Schmitt of Our Time
    For Carl Schmitt, laws and constitutions didn’t arise from moral principles. At their basis, there was always a sovereign authority, a decision-maker. US Attorney General William Barr’s defense of unchecked executive authority in his recent speech to the Federalist Society thus had an unpleasant familiarity. Barr’s view is the final reductio ad Schmitt of our political era. As US attorney general, at the head of the Justice Department, he is charged with upholding the rule of law, but he admires only lawlessness in moments of crisis. At these “critical junctures,” which “demand speed, secrecy, unity of purpose, and prudent judgment,” Barr sees the presidency, the vital heart of American power, acting decisively in order to bring a wider reckoning with “final things.”
  • How China Threatens Human Rights Worldwide
    The Chinese government is not the only threat to human rights today, but it stands out for its reach and influence. The cause of human rights today faces a dangerously destructive combination of a powerful centralized state, a coterie of like-minded rulers, a void of leadership among countries that might have stood for human rights, and a disappointing collection of democracies willing to sell the rope that is strangling the system of rights that they purport to uphold. Only if governments band together to address China’s flouting of human rights will the power balance shift. Decades of progress are now at stake.
  • The Center Blows Itself Up: Care and Spite in the ‘Brexit Election’
    The simultaneous embrace of markets, and of rules and regulations, represents the soul of what’s sometimes called “centrism.” It’s a decidedly unlovely combination. Nobody truly likes it. But the talking classes had reached an absolute consensus that no politicians who departed significantly from it could possibly win elections. Labour’s left-wing leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was thus declared “unelectable.” Former leader Tony Blair even openly stated that he would rather see his own party defeated than come into power on Corbyn’s leftist platform. But if the results of the 2019 election mean anything, they reveal an overwhelming rejection of centrism. The center of British politics has become a smoldering pit.
  • ‘Three Christs,’ Schizophrenia & Us
    Arguably, there is no Other, in all contemporary film and literature, that is as firmly lodged in the category of Outsider as the contemporary schizophrenic. You know you are seeing a film that will deal with schizophrenics by virtue of a bundle of tired repetitions: electroconvulsive shock therapy, screaming in the corridors, people being sprayed with a hose in lieu of showering themselves, straitjackets, solitary confinement. All these signal that we have left the place of civilization entirely. But, in actual fact, civilization can and does contain their suffering, a suffering much more complex than one film can manage. And yet the film that contends with this does us all a real service. 
  • ‘That Single Fleeting Moment’: Merce Cunningham in Images
    Merce Cunningham: Redux, James Klosty’s exceptional collection of over 270 photographs of Cunningham, as well as of the dancers, composers, and visual artists who worked with him, is a stunning accomplishment. Cunningham usually evaded the camera lens. But perhaps he understood Klosty's commitment to presenting the company in a nuanced and rigorous way. Perhaps it was because the dancers seemed comfortable in his presence. Or maybe it was a matter of habituation—how a photojournalist, or scientist, studying animals in the wild may, with sensitivity and patience, be accepted, or at least tolerated, over time. Or maybe John Cage, who was always looking out for Cunningham, as well as considering what might benefit the work in some way, liked and appreciated Klosty and his talent, and encouraged Cunningham to be open to the idea. I imagine that Cunningham came to understand not only the value of this kind of in-depth documentation, but the independent strength of the photographs as well.
  • A Lark in West Indian London
    That plot, roughly, involves the “lark” or quixotic idea of buying a home together. Each of the novel’s main characters has encountered variations of racist and predatory rental markets, and together they scheme to find a literal and figurative place of their own. From its opening scene, The Housing Lark poses the question of whether the lark can become a reality: Will these motley folks, male and female, black and Indian, from Trinidad and Jamaica, prostitutes, housecleaners, factory workers, and hustlers, be able to achieve this milestone of upward mobility? More than any other of Selvon’s novels, The Housing Lark explores the possibility of unity in difference.
  • The Minimal Value of Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ on Iran
    During his presidency, Trump’s strategy of “maximum pressure” and “restoring deterrence” have weakened America’s position on every count of its stated policy objectives in the region, while simultaneously, at least in the short run, strengthening the most conservative elements within the Iranian regime. Compared to three years ago: we have no nuclear agreement with Iran, let alone a more comprehensive one; we have enabled greater Iranian influence in the region, especially in Syria and Iraq, not less; and we have seen the Islamic Republic’s theocratic order become more repressive and entrenched, not more open or democratic.
  • Among Syria’s Exiles in Jordan
    Although the part Jordan has played as a war refugee destination has been less publicized, its contribution among Syria’s Arab neighbors has been extremely significant. Some estimates put the number of Syrian refugees there at 1.3 million. Here, then, is the future of Syria: the children in the big refugee camps and in the tented migrant communities, though too many of them are growing up without enough education, support, or even food. Yet in this constrained present, the parents’ hopes are invested in the future of their children. They want their children to study, maybe go to university, get professional qualifications, but there is a haziness about their ambitions for the next generation. It’s like getting to the West: a dream, perhaps a mirage.
  • Why Historical Analogy Matters
    If this idea of historical incommensurability is right, then analogical reasoning in history becomes an impossibility. If I sincerely believe that a given event in the past belongs not just to a foreign country but to a world so different from my own as to break all ties of communication between them, then I have no license to speak about the past at all—and all its events become in effect unknowable. A past that is utterly different is more than merely past; it has no claim on my knowledge and it might as well blink out of existence altogether. This is more than merely a matter of logic; it has political consequences. If every crime is unique and the moral imagination is forbidden from comparison, then the injunction “Never Again” itself loses its meaning, since nothing can ever happen “again.”
  • Why Hindu Nationalists Trialed India’s Citizenship Law in Assam
    Despite causing mayhem, Home Minister Amit Shah has promised to take the citizenship register process piloted in Assam nationwide—in order to rid the nation of its largely imaginary “infiltrators” before the next general election, scheduled for 2024. Thousands have already been detained in protests against the citizenship laws across the nation, with police responding on occasion with deadly force. The very act of protesting, along with certain religious identities, have seemingly become anathema to the country’s rulers in what was once the great liberal hope of South Asia.
  • The Slog Comes in on Little Cat Feet
    It is important to remember that the conceit of Cats, the era-spanning musical adapted into a film this winter, is that all the characters are cats—singing cats, dancing cats, fat cats, skinny cats, cats that prowl the docks: cats. The show is dogged in reminding us. The songs, when not explicating the wisp of a story, describe varieties of cat, such as the Gum­­bie Cat and the Railway Cat, while the cast, on-screen as on-stage, have cat ears, fur, and tails. But whatever else it was, Cats the musical, which premiered in London in 1981, was primarily a human variety show: a pastiche of twentieth-century music and dance tethered to some of T.S. Eliot’s lightest verse. Amid the jazz choreography and leg-warmers, the trash-strewn Thatcherite dystopia of the set and the guileless pizzazz of the performances, the stars of the Broadway run were never convincingly cats, just particularly exuberant humans. In Cats the movie, they are not even convincingly human.
  • Elena Ferrante’s Form and Unform
    In a way, thinking and feeling through Ferrante make me wonder if the whole project of literary criticism, for some of us, might be one of un-pleasure reading. To me, the joy of writing about a text is the twisting, rupturing, pleasurable unpleasure of unforming and being unformed as I work to shape an argument. To read a book to its core, to get under its skin and let it get under yours, is to engage with it in a mutual process of transformation and sometimes-ecstatic contortion. In my life as a critic, as in Ferrante, this is an impossible yet irresistible desire: the little stories I’ve told you along the way here, my shape-making narrative impulses, are the legible coverings that skim over the roiling blurriness of ongoing forming-unforming beneath, the frantumaglia—that dialect word that Ferrante uses to mean “bits and pieces,” magma, a jumbled tangle that refuses reduction—of reading and being read. This is the last thing I’d call pleasure—and yet...
  • Driss Chraïbi & the Novel Morocco Had to Ban
    Laila Lalami, a Moroccan American novelist who grew up in Rabat, has praised Chraïbi as “the first writer I read as a child who created Moroccan characters that were believable.” But they were perhaps all too believable, and certainly too troubling, when The Simple Past (Le Passé simple) was published in 1954. Some Moroccan readers claimed that Chraïbi’s portrait of Moroccan traditional society was consumed by self-hatred, even a betrayal of the independence struggle. The novel was banned in Morocco until 1977. 
  • How New York Is Zoning Out the Human-Scale City
    “The cities and the economies we have,” Jane Jacobs observed, “have been created by ordinary people who didn’t have to have a big plan. It is good to remember in the culture that ordinary people can do these things and still do them.” Public-private enclaves and supertall towers are antithetical to that vision. The more a city gives over its organically evolved urban fabric to this kind of development, the more it diminishes the human-scale, bricks-and-mortar substance of the real city. The fate of 270 Park exemplifies how the real estate interests hold the city captive and foist on us Singapore-style, glass-and-steel mega-buildings.
  • Lubaina Himid: Labor and the Art of Becoming
    This past summer, fifteen new paintings and an installation by the British artist Lubaina Himid were on display at the New Museum in an exhibition called “Works from Underneath.” Curated by Natalie Bell and accompanied by a pair of sound collages by Magda Stawarska-Beavan, the show was a slow-rolling wave of meditations on labor and whether toiling on our own terms can subvert a history of exploitation. Each work, a kind of odyssey through the precarious conditions of migration, revealed tangled and fraught histories of the work black people have done to build empire. What Himid deserves is a major retrospective that fully recognizes her not solely as an artist but also as a political strategist who blew open the gates of British art to make space for herself as well as her forebears, peers, and those who will come next. 
  • Not So Glorious
    To the Editors: Robert Kuttner is only half right when he says, “But the bloodless Glorious Revolution went beyond those concessions and began the tradition of constitutional democracy.”

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