News & Updates
by Justin Morrow
Are you a writer who finds themselves staring at a blank page for hours on end? We're here to help.
While some people believe writer's block isn't a real thing ("Have you ever heard of plumber's block?"), it has been subject of a great deal of writing and filmmaking. Kind of ironic, no?
I tried it out and got everything from the mundane—"An investigative reporter has 24 hours to find the evidence"— to the cryptic—"A disinterested train driver and a thief get together to solve a mystery."
Another great resource is Stone Savage's massive Seventh Sanctum, with everything from the so-called What-If-inator to a Writing Challenges page: "The story takes place a century into the future. During the story, someone turns another person in." Or: "A character opens a chest. A character is hungry throughout most of the story. During the story, a character becomes pregnant."
Screenwriters will find particular delight in the Action Film generator, which produces gems in the style of "in-a-world" trailers, e.g.: "In a crime-ridden kingdom, in a time of ghosts, two smugglers try to find the truth."
According to famed artist Chuck Close, “The advice I like to give young artists…is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”
If that's not enough, this list of Ted Talks for writers is great; here, Tracy Chevalier, author of the novelGirl with a Pearl Earring (adapted into the film of the same name) discusses how creative works spawn more creative works, including her own:
Always remember that, in the end, creative work is play. An advanced form of play, maybe, but play nonetheless. There's no reason it can't be fun.
So, shake off the dust, take a walk (lots of writers are inveterate walkers, by the way), and remove yourself from your comfort zone; you might be happy with what you find there. If not, at least you'll have a new perspective. Sometimes that's all you need.
Check this out on nofilmschool.com
NBCUniversal has set a deal to buy DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion in cash, giving the Comcast-owned media conglomerate added heft in its effort to compete with rivals like Disney, Time Warner and Viacom, all of which cater more directly to kid-and family audiences.
The deal values DreamWorks Animation at $41 a share, a rich premium over the company’s recent trading levels. The total equity value of the deal, including debt, is $4.1 billion. Shares in the smaller company surged nearly 25% in earlier trading after the announcement was made.
DreamWorks Animation will become part of NBCUniversal’s Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. Chris Meledandri, head of Universal’s Illumination Entertainment animation wing, will oversee operations. The DreamWorks Animation brand will remain intact as an imprint.
After the sale closes, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg will become chairman of DreamWorks Animation New Media, comprising its ownership stakes in AwesomenessTV and Nova, which will be part of NBCUniversal although it’s unclear where the unit will be housed within the company. Katzenberg will also serve as a consultant to NBCUniversal. Though he remains committed to his work with Comcast, those close to Katzenberg expect he will remain active in his own business endeavors independent of that cable giant.
DreamWorks will help us grow our film, television, theme parks and consumer products businesses for years to come,” said NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. ” We are fortunate to have Illumination founder Chris Meledandri to help guide the growth of the DreamWorks Animation business in the future.”
The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. There is a $200 million breakup fee if the pact falls apart and does not receive regulatory approval, according to public filings. DreamWorks Animation marks the latest investment in a major entertainment content engine by NBCUniversal parent Comcast, the cable giant that took over the Peacock from GE in 2011.
“This agreement not only delivers significant value for our shareholders, but also supports NBCUniversal’s growing family entertainment business,” Katzenberg said. “As for my role, I am incredibly excited to continue exploring the potential of AwesomenessTV, NOVA and other new media opportunities, and can’t wait to get started.”
The deal marks a significant up-charge over DreamWorks Animation’s $2.79 billion market cap and allows the studio behind “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda” to become part of a sprawling media conglomerate. It struggled in recent years to operate as a publicly traded, pure play studio, with its stock given to rise and, more often, fall following every film release. Rivals, such as Disney and Warner Bros., are all parts of heavily diversified media conglomerates that enable them to be less dependent on box office results.
“It’s gotten difficult to be an independent studio,” Tuna Amobi, an analyst with S&P Capital IQ, told Variety shortly after reports broke that talks were taking place between the companies. “Wall Street doesn’t like the uncertainty. This allows DreamWorks to be part of a larger company. The access to the huge resources helps it given the importance of scale today.”
Katzenberg had been trying to sell the company for years. Toy company Hasbro had been in talks to acquire the studio in a deal worth at least $2.3 billion, but talks collapsed in November 2014. Japanese conglomerate Softbank also kicked the animation company’s tires in September 2014, but no deal materialized.
He has also worked to broaden DreamWorks Animation’s offerings, snapping up AwesomenessTV, which is a major force in digital video, and Classic Media, the makers of “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and “Lassie.”
The acquisition bolsters NBCUniversal’s family entertainment offerings, potentially allowing them to plug in DreamWorks Animation’s cartoon characters across Comcast’s array of theme park, children’s television programming and merchandising holdings. Combined with Illumination’s output, the studio could release as many as four major animated films annually, challenging Walt Disney Studios in the animation space. Fully integrating the studios may take a few years. DreamWorks Animation has a distribution pact with 20th Century Fox the runs through 2017.
In terms of other high-profile acquisitions, the DreamWorks Animation deal is slightly more than the $4 billion Disney paid for LucasFilm in 2012 and the $3.96 billion it shelled out for Marvel in 2009, though it trails the $7.6 billion that Disney paid for Pixar in 2006.
In filings, Comcast said that the deal will not impact its plans to repurchase $5 billion worth of common shares this year.
Check this out on variety.com
As Brazil’s political establishment teeters on the verge of collapse, it seems filmmaker Jose Padilha has found inspiration for his next incisive sociological drama in the morass of corruption and intrigue surrounding Petrobras’ so-called “Lava Jato” (Car Wash) scandal. The director of Netflix’s critically acclaimed original series Narcos will apparently spend this year juggling the production of Narcos second season, with a Brazilian-produced series inspired by Operation Car Wash and written by screenwriter Elena Soares.
For those unfamiliar, the Lava Jato investigation uncovered millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks surrounding contracts with Brazil’s massive state oil conglomerate, and has implicated high ranking politicians from across the political spectrum. Padilha’s own predilection for intricate plots involving political power, corruption, and moral ambiguity seems to be tailor made for the subject matter, while Netflix is a logical home for the series in light of Brazil’s otherwise highly politicized media landscape.
Check out the rest on remezcla.com
Univision and NALIP have had a long and successful partnership over the years in forging efforts to create programs which have a huge impact on Latino filmmakers, writers, directors, and producers. Together we are paving the way for the next generation of Latino media makers, by providing the necessary resources to strengthen their access and representation across the industry.
“UCI brand embodies the spirit and innate values of Hispanic culture: passion, courage, ingenuity, tenacity. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to evolve with our community, broaden our input and our output, expand our possibilities.”
Check out Univision HERE
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Endemol Shine North America Co-CEO Cris Abrego’s book launch party brought out the who’s who of reality television Thursday night at CAA headquarters in Century City. It was even offhandedly dubbed the “prom of reality TV” by CAA’s Christy Haubegger.
“What would be a reality get together without a lot of booze?!” Abrego quipped during the launch party of his new book, “Make It Reality.”
Those who came out to support included Abrego’s partner and Endemol Shine’s other Co-CEO, Charlie Corwin; Monami Entertainment CEO Mona Scott-Young; and Bunim/Murray Productions co-founder Jonathan Murray. The latter was given a warm thanks during Abrego’s speech, which detailed how his big break in reality television came after being promoted from camera assistant to production coordinator on the set of “Real World/Road Rules.”
“The way that I got promoted was that the show was going to Mexico, ‘Road Rules,’ and out of over 100 employees, I was the only one who spoke Spanish,” Abrego recalled. “It was like the one time being Mexican paid off.”
Eva Longoria noted their similar cultural background during the evening, stressing that the entertainment industry needs more Latinos behind the camera. The actress also joked about how they bonded as friends, in part, by being part of a very small club of Mexicans in showbiz — adding that Mario Lopez and George Lopez rounded out their minority representation.
“I have been so honored to work beside him as a great producer, but he is also a great leader in our community,” Longoria stated. “It’s so important for young Latinos to see your story because we can’t be what we don’t see.”
That disparity in particular is one of the reasons why Abrego decided to write down his Hollywood success story in the first place.
“The timing of the book became not so much where I was in my career, more about where I was in my life in terms of philanthropy,” Abrego told Variety. “With the kids that I’m working with in El Monte at my old high school, I felt like there was a need to go wider with that story and let these kids know that it was very much a possibility to pursue their dreams — especially in entertainment.”
Additional party guests included America Ferrera, Exec VP of Endemol Shine Latino Flavio Morales, as well as Keith Cox, TV Land’s exec VP of development and original programming.
Check this out on variety.com
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The Shadow League
The Actress is Using Her Influence To Change Hollywood's Stale Old Narrative
“I deserve this, I work very hard, and I’m a good person.”
The words are those of legendary actress, singer, dancer and entertainer Rita Moreno. Moreno’s words were not about her, but 31-year-old actress Gina Rodriguez.
What Moreno knows, and the rest of the entertainment industry is finding out, is that Rodriguez is a rising star and force to be reckoned with in Hollywood who was recently named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People.
Listed among leaders like President Barack Obama, Burmese Stateswoman Aung San Suu Kyi and Pope Francis, Rodriguez’s inclusion speaks volumes.
When the Oscar nominations were announced, #OscarsSoWhite became a rallying cry on social media against the lily-colored landscape of Hollywood. Activists spoke out against the lack of nominations for minorities. #BlackTwitter rose in force, spurring actors like Jada Pinkett-Smith and Chris Rock (this year’s emcee) to speak out against the (perceived) racist tendencies of Tinsel Town.
Our own Ricardo Hazell wrote how 2015 “was a pretty good year for black films and quality black performances”. Yet, there were no nominations for Straight Outta Compton or Will Smith’s performance in Concussion.
While this uproar went on, my thoughts were, at least y’all had films and performances worth considering. Any Latino, Asian, Native roles or films that were memorable in 2015? Nope. The opportunities are even less for others of color.
Enter Gina Rodriguez and #MovementMondays.
#MovementMondays has become an action of the heart as well as the mind for Rodriguez. Stirred by a passion to promote Latinos in the television and film industry, Rodriguez is using social media to tell their stories.
“With all this Oscar Talk and lack of diversity, I decided to start a movement and speak from the perspective of a Latina American who desires to see more Latinos onscreen,” the actress said on Instagram. “No studio will put their money behind a Latino face as a lead of a movie because they don't believe we can make their money back. If you want to see us represented on film and TV, if you want to see Latinos nominated for Oscars, we NEED to support one another.”
And that is the challenge. Supporting one another despite our own community diversity. We are Latinos (no, that’s not the same as Hispanic), but even that is a broad term. We can unite around the word Latino, but we also unite around our own individual culture.
For the uninitiated, the culture for those of Cuban descent is not the same as one of Mexican descent. Or Peruvian descent. Or Argentinian, Puerto Rican, Nicaraguan…
We’re diverse, which is both a blessing and a curse. We wouldn’t trade our ethnicity and culture, but that, I believe, is what keeps us from truly uniting in support like Rodriguez mentioned. Cultural divides within the Latino community itself has prevented us from supporting, uniting and getting vocal about the lack of Latinos in prominent roles in Hollywood.
Despite the challenge, Rodriguez continues her quest but with a twist. Not only is she championing Latinos, but in the name of real diversity, she is spreading the word about non-Latinos too.
What Rodriguez understands is that real and true diversity is NOT just black-and-white. It’s not a cookie cutter mentality of only speaking up for one’s own race. She speaks up for diversity in its truest sense.
But, there’s more to champion for Gina Rodriguez. The star of CW’s popular Jane the Virgin show is also championing the discussion on body issues. At age 19, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, an affliction of the thyroid that disrupts the metabolism. Even when appetite is lacking, weight can still be gained, which is what has happened with Rodriguez.
It could have been the “end of the world” in the acting sense, where image matters. Rodriguez did what she always does. She adjusted.
“This is going to be a journey of accepting who I am within societal norms of what a lead actress looks like,” she told Women’s Magazine. “The second I stopped feeling like I wasn't enough was the second I realized I was capable of doing anything."
Judging by her status on TIME’s list, she is capable of doing anything. Capable of raising awareness of Latinos and other racial groups in Hollywood. Capable of overcoming any adversity that comes her way. Rodriguez is a force to be reckoned with now and in the future.
To echo Moreno’s words, Gina Rodriguez deserves this.
Check this out on theshadowleague.com
Mike Windle/Getty Images for WE Day
Who says 23-year-olds are too young to have their very own biopics? Not Selena Gomez, apparently. Entertainment Weekly has confirmed that the actress/musician will be executive-producing her very own autobiographical drama for Lifetime—with fellow executive producers Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti (Fifty Shades of Grey, Captain Phillips, The Social Network), among others. She won't be the only major name to join up with the network, which also penned deals with Janet Jackson, Ronda Rousey, and Serena Williams.
So, what on earth will a Selena Gomez autobiographical drama be about? Young though she may be, Gomez has a pretty hefty career behind her—she got her start in 2002 on Barney & Friends Season 7, well before she landed the lead role in Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place. So there is definitely a career journey to mine, in addition to juicier, more gossipy topics like her relationship with Justin Bieber, her struggle with lupus, maybe her status as the reigning queen of Instagram? Overall, this move makes sense for Lifetime, which has been rehabbing its (perhaps unfairly) bad image with critical successes like its reality-TV–inspired comedy/drama UnReal, and other meta projects like A Deadly Adoption, which starred Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig. Gomez doesn't just bring her life story to the table, but also a legion of fans who would likely be fascinated to learn more about her, regardless of what network it’s on.
Still, the whole thing can’t just be a synopsis of Gomez’s career, right? But it also seems unlikely, given Lifetime’s feminist bent, that the network would focus too strongly on something like her relationship with Justin Bieber—juicy as those details may be. (Though he’s almost sure to pop up in there somewhere at least for a little while, right?) And Gomez’s struggle with lupus—a moment of strength in the face of adversity—would make a great, typically Lifetime-style plot point, but couldn't possibly make up the entire movie. Instead, Gomez’s drama will probably try to encapsulate what it was like for Gomez to grow up in the spotlight—and, as her career blossomed, to forge her own path beyond the squeaky-clean image Disney-born female stars often must contend with. That seems like the most fascinating route this movie could take, but this begs another question: What will Kevin Spacey bring to this project? We're not saying he should play Bieber, but it sure would be one hell of a hook.
Check this out on vanityfair.com