FROM Ted Johnson
Can the Trump Family Reality Show Unify the Republicans? The first day of Donald Trump's nominating convention was short on policy but long on a Dystopian view of America in 2016 — and there was no doubt about who was getting the blame. Tonight, House Speaker Paul Ryan gets his turn to rally a divided convention behind a candidate many delegates don't support. Trump's own role has been compromised by evidence of plagiarism in his wife's speech and his Fox News interview that upstaged the convention. Chris Christie and Ben Carson will continue the dark theme of American decline. Will delegate spirits get a lift from two of Trump's children? We get a preview of the politics -- and the prime-time entertainment.
Gay Rights, Religion and Public Bathrooms Last week, North Carolina legalized discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. Today, the Governor of Georgia vetoed a similar bill after the NFL threatened not to stage Super Bowls there and Hollywood studios said they’d pull out. The struggle's not limited to North Carolina and Georgia. Discrimination against LGBT people is legal in 19 American states. It’s often framed as “religious liberty” versus extension of civil rights—and it even comes down to who can use which public bathroom.
Hollywood Georgia Boycott Disney, The Weinstein Company and some top Hollywood stars are threatening to boycott Georgia. The state has lucrative tax incentives that have lured film and television productions there, including the Marvel movies. But sitting on Governor Nathan Deal’s desk for his signature is a so-called “religious liberty” bill. It gives protections for faith-based businesses who refuse to serve gay people. Nathan Deal’s now facing pressure to veto it or lose major film business.
Pay Equality in California: Will It Work in Hollywood? Last year, when Patricia Arquette won an Oscar for Boyhood, she stunned the audience with a speech about the continuing difference in pay between men and women doing the same work. That was part of the motivation for a new law, which has just gone into effect in California: The Fair Pay Act . We talk with the bill's author, Democratic State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson from Santa Barbara.
Jon Stewart's Final Week on 'The Daily Show' It’s Jon Stewart’s final week as host of The Daily Show. For 16 years, he provided a satiric, often scathing, voice for those frustrated with politics and media. How much political clout did the comedian have?
Time Warner, Comcast and the Urge to Merge Yesterday in downtown Los Angeles, two members of California's Public Utilities Commission heard arguments about the massive merger proposed by Comcast and Time Warner. Comcast is big in Northern California. Time Warner has about two million customers in the Southland.
Round One Goes to Net Neutrality After massive lobbying, and four million public comments, the Federal Communications Commission has endorsed "net neutrality." That means your cable or telephone company has to treat all Internet traffic the same way. It can't deliver some content at a higher speed for a higher price. Content providers — from Netflix and Facebook to teenage bloggers — are big winners. Comcast and Verizon are among the losers. Speaking of yesterday's ruling , which reclassified ISP's for regulation as public utilities, Commission Chair Tom Wheeler called the Internet, "the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet" simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field." But the FCC was divided between three Democrats and two Republicans, and the battles are far from over in the courts and in Congress.
"Gravity" Lawsuit In 1999, a book called Gravity came out. In the book, a biohazard wipes out all the astronauts on the space station, except one woman. A rescue attempt ends in catastrophe, and the space station is left dangerously crippled. New Line bought the film rights, and then was taken over by Warner Brothers. In 2013, Warner Brothers released a film called Gravity. Warner Brothers say the two projects are completely unrelated. But the author, Tess Gerritsen, is suing. What’s her case, and what does it mean for other writers?
Governor Brown Agrees to Increased Tax Film Credit So what about what’s called “runaway production” and the push for tax credits to keep movies and TV in California? Ted Johnson is Senior Editor at Variety, and Joseph Henchman is vice president of the Tax Foundation.
Runaway Production For the first time ever, more TV pilots were filmed in New York than Los Angeles. Meanwhile, California is mulling over new incentives in an attempt to keep productions rolling in the state. And according to the state lawmakers that are pushing new incentives, only one of the last 42 big-budget features were shot exclusively in California.
Is a Secure Future of Broadcasting, an End to Innovation? Media conglomerates were quick to cheer today’s Supreme Court decision in the Aereo case this morning. Aereo is the tech startup that’s been making news, and enemies in the broadcasting industry, with an innovative cloud-based antenna and DVR system. Essentially, the justices decided that Aereo’s streaming service violated copyright law and amounted to theft of broadcast networks’ programming. The case was viewed as having the potential to change the future of broadcasting, but left the current business model virtually intact.
California Considers More Tax Incentives for Filming In an effort to keep filmmakers shooting in LA, state legislators are considering boosting California's tax incentive program. But with other states and countries now offering lucrative tax breaks for movie and television productions, can Hollywood still compete?
The Oscars May Be in Hollywood, but the Business is Leaving Mayor Garcetti's newly appointed film czar, Ken Ziffren, told reporters today that LA's in a " bad spiral " when it comes to the loss of film and TV production and the jobs that go with them. Visual effects, with all the work now done on computers, is an area especially vulnerable to runaway production. The latest blow is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's announcement that Disney's Marvel Studios will produce four live-action series for Netflix in New York City.
Hollywood Goes to Washington to Talk Violence Thanks to our guests. As part of preparing recommendations for reducing gun violence, Vice President Biden met last night with executives of the film industry—and today with the makers and promoters of video games. Vice President Biden says he’s most likely to focus on background checks, the type of weapons Americans are allowed to own and on high-capacity magazines. The NRA insists that exposure to violence in films and video games is the real cause of deadly gun violence.
'Innocence of Muslims' and the Murky World of Low-Budget Films All of Los Angeles knows that not every film made here is a major feature production. Every so often a group of amateurs make it big with a low-budget project. But there's no precedent for the LA-made film which has helped create an international crisis, including the murder of the US Ambassador to Libya. The original casting call for The Innocence of Muslims had the title "Desert Warrior." As reposted by Gawker , it asked for Israeli men, Middle Eastern women, and lead characters called Condalisa, Hillary and George. It also asked applicants to say whether or not they were members of SAG, the Screen Actors Guild.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
Replacing Obamacare: Now you see it… now you don’t As the Senate deliberates replacing Obmacare, health coverage for millions of people is at stake. There've been no public hearings, and a draft measure won't be made public. Is the House version so unpopular that that Senate is hiding a version that looks much the same?