Penguin Random House to Publish ‘Cleo & Cuquin’ Books – Variety

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One of the world’s leading trade publishers, Penguin Random House, will publish the children’s books series based on “Cleo & Cuquin,” a pre-school transmedia brand from Madrid-based Ánima Kitchent and Mexico’s Televisa.

The books will be released in Spain and Latin America by spring 2018. Also produced by Ánima Kitchent, but in co-production with Famosa, the audiovisual subsidiary of the toy maker Famosa, “Piny, Institute of New York” will count on U.K.’s ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) as licensing agent in the U.K., where Sony Pop is airing the series. “Piny” has already been broadcast in France (Gulli), Italy (Frisbee), Portugal (Disney Channel), Russia (Carousel TV) and Turkey (MCD Kidz).

Toy maker Clementoni will launch a line of “Cleo & Cuquin”-based toys in Spain in fall 2018 including puzzles, edukit toy cases and electronic games. Clementoni will support toy manufacturing giant Mattel, recently appointed global toy master for “Cleo & Cuquin,” a 52-episode seven-minutes TV show.

The new deal on “Cleo & Cuquin” marks the first time a Spanish company has established a licensing deal with a global toy master or a publisher such as Random House, according to Ánima Estudios CEO Víctor López who also commented that it on “Piny” it was “a great achievement” to have reached an agreement to join forces with ITV and Sony POP in the largest European market for licensing.”

Pre-school toon series “Cleo & Cuquin” is also co-produced by Barcelona-based Selecta Visión and the Moro Family’s company MAI. An adaptation of the legendary Spanish hit “Telerin Family,” a cartoon and daily jingle broadcast in which where six siblings tell children that it’s time to go to bed. It became a popular success in Spain and Mexico during the ’70s and ‘80s, coloring the now nostalgic childhood of a generation of newish parents and young grandparents.

The new brand will also include a bedtime app, web content and music video clips. Launched one year ago on the Famila Telerín’s YouTube channel, “Cleo & Cuquin’s” 17 music video clips have scored 600 million views and 1.5 million subscribers.

“Piny” re-creates the life in an unusual New York educational center which focuses on creativity, fashion and careers of the future. Series centers on Piny –the janitor’s daughter at this elite high school. A 52-episode toon TV show, “Piny” targets 6-8s.

A joint-venture founded by Latin American animation powerhouse Ánima Estudios with former executives at Spanish toon company Vodka Capital, Ánima Kitchent was launched in 2014.

In addition to Ánima Kitchent, the Spanish delegation attending this weekend’s 25th MipJunior under the umbrella Animation from Spain includes Baleuko, Ficción Producciones, Imira Ent., Motion Pictures, Pausoka Entertainment, Planeta Junior, Peekaboo Animation, Rokyn Animation, pubcasters TV3 and TVE, and Zinkia.

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‘Omerta’ Director Hansal Mehta – Variety

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After a decade-long first innings where he switched between mainstream Bollywood and independent cinema, Indian filmmaker Hansal Mehta took a four-year hiatus and returned with the multiple-award winning indie hit “Shahid” (2012), starring Rajkummar Rao. “Aligarh” (2015), starring Manoj Bajpayee and Rao, won acclaim in Busan and around the world. Following its world premiere at Toronto, Mehta returns to Busan with the Asian premiere of Rao-starrer “Omerta,” a film about British-born, Pakistani terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who kidnapped and murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.

What made you choose the Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh story?

There are uneasy truths that we usually try not to confront. Omar’s story is one such truth. Governments believe that by bombing entire cities and destroying countries they will end radicalism. Instead we need to focus on individuals like him – educated, wealthy and completely radicalized. I see “Omerta” as a companion piece to my earlier film “Shahid.” Both examine individuals beginning with similar angst and embarking on a similar journey to avenge injustice through radicalism. While “Shahid” found his ultimate calling by becoming a champion of human rights, Omar went deeper into the world of terror and eventually spread a trail of violence. The irony of our times is that Shahid is dead while Omar continues to live. For me that is a dangerous sign of our times and this story had to remind us of the times we live in and the need for urgent solutions beyond mass destruction that will only breed more Omars.

Apart from brief sections in India and the U.K., the film is largely set in Pakistan. Given the frosty relationship between India and Pakistan, what were the logistical challenges of a Pakistan-set film?

We had to create Pakistan in areas of Punjab and Delhi. It would have been impossible to shoot in Pakistan even if we overcame logistical challenges because of the way “Omerta” implicates the state in sponsoring individuals like Omar. My production designer Neil Chowdhury and cinematographer Anuj Dhawan have been instrumental in maintaining the overall authenticity and resemblance of locations in the film.

Your latest release, the U.S. set heist caper “Simran,” has polarized critics and audiences. What is your reaction to that?

I was expecting a polarized reaction and it is not any different from the way my second feature “Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar” was received when it released in 2000. Some films and their intent are often understood much after all the hype and noise dies down. I do feel “Simran” will be ultimately seen for what it is – an interesting character study of a young girl who is unapologetically reckless and flawed. History will be kinder to “Simran.”

What are you working on next?

There are scripts that I have been developing with different teams of writers. I’m still exploring themes that excite me both emotionally and politically. I am also writing something that will feature my favorite actor Rajkummar Rao in another interesting part, something that will help us push the envelope and explore newer stories in our filmography.

 

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Alibaba Pictures Expands Powers of Fan Luyuan – Variety

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Alibaba Pictures has expanded the powers of Fan Luyuan, who was appointed CEO two months ago. He is the company’s third leader in 15 months, and replaces Yu Yongfu, who was appointed last December.

Fan appears to have been granted all of the multiple powers that Yu accumulated. As well as the CEO title, he is set as executive director and chairman of the executive committee, chairman of the board, chairman of the nomination committee and member of the remuneration committee.

“In view of the group’s continuous business growth in line with its clear strategic direction, and the fact that Fan has demonstrated outstanding management and leadership capabilities along with his thorough understanding of the group’s strategy of building new infrastructure for the domestic movie industry since his appointment as the CEO, Yu decided to resign as chairman of the board in succession by Fan who, as chairman of the board and the CEO concurrently, will lead the group in accelerating its development and creating more value for the shareholders of the group,” Alibaba Pictures said in a statement.

Fan’s accumulation of so many job titles is in breach of Hong Kong Stock Exchange rules. But the company says it believes it has enough board diversity anyway.

Alibaba Pictures is the film-specific division within China’s Alibaba e-commerce giant. It has share listings in Hong Kong and Singapore that are separate from New York-listed Alibaba.

The company started out with a mission to invest in and produce films, and struck expensive deals with Wong Kar-wai and Peter Chan Ho-sun. It also bought a stake of undisclosed value in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners. However, in the last year, under the leadership of Yu, it has been reoriented to become much more of a technology and service platform for the domestic Chinese film industry. It includes the massive Tao Piao Piao online ticketing platform, but excludes Alibaba’s video streaming business Youku Tudou, which is operated under the parent company’s Alibaba Digital Entertainment umbrella.

Respected producer Zhang Qiang, who joined from state-controlled China Film Corp., led the company soon after Alibaba acquired ChinaVision in 2014, until he resigned in June 2016.

Fan is one of the architects of cashless payment system Alipay and the Yu’e Bao fintech giant. He joined Alibaba Pictures in January 2016.

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Eva Green Says Harvey Weinstein ‘Behaved Inappropriately… I had to Push Him Off’ (EXCLUSIVE) – Variety

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Eva Green says she was left “shocked and disgusted” by an incident in which she alleges Harvey Weinstein made an inappropriate advance. Green’s mother talked about her daughter’s experience with Weinstein in a French radio interview yesterday, Friday, and having not spoken about it before, Green has now broken her silence.

In a statement issue to Variety she said that the incident with Weinstein took place in Paris during a business meeting and that she had to push off the disgraced Hollywood producer. She added that she had wanted to maintain her privacy but after hearing the stories other women have come forward with regarding Weinstein, wanted to speak out.

Eva Green’s statement in full: “I wish to address comments made by my mother in a recent interview regarding Harvey Weinstein.  I met him for a business meeting in Paris at which he behaved inappropriately and I had to push him off. I got away without it going further, but the experience left me shocked and disgusted.

“I have not discussed this before because I wanted to maintain my privacy, but I understand it is important to do so as I hear about other women’s experiences.  Women are often condemned when they speak out and their personal reputations tarnished by association.

“I salute the great bravery of the women who have come forward. We should recognise that this sort of behaviour exists everywhere and is not unique to the entertainment industry. The exploitation of power is ubiquitous. This behaviour is unacceptable and needs to be eliminated.”

Green starred in “Sin City” with which Weinstein was involved. She has also starred in Bond film “Casino Royale,” and the Showtime series “Penny Dreadful.” She is currently working on Tim Burton’s live-action adaptation of “Dumbo.”

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Chrissy Teigen, Kerry Washington, and More Support #WomenBoycottTwitter Movement After Rose McGowan’s Suspension – Variety

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Following Rose McGowan’s temporary suspension from Twitter, a number of notable figures in Hollywood have supported the #WomenBoycottTwitter protest on Friday in solidarity with women whose voices have been silenced.

Though McGowan has been vocal on Twitter against Harvey Weinstein, who she alleges raped her 20 years ago, the social media company said her account was suspended for 12 hours because one of her tweets included a private phone number, which violates Twitter’s Terms of Service.

Before the day-long Twitter protest began, celebrities spoke out in unity with McGowan and the dozens of women who have come forward with their stories of Weinstein involving sexual harassment or assault. McGowan kicked off the boycott writing, “At midnight we RISE.” Kerry Washington joined in shortly after, saying, “Starts now.”

Ava DuVernay, however, noted that women of color haven’t received the same support when speaking out. “Calling white women allies to recognize conflict of #WomenBoycottTwitter for women of color who haven’t received support on similar issues,” she wrote.

“Ladies. Let’s do this. #WomenBoycottTwitter. Not because of hate but because I love this platform and know it can be better,” Chrissy Teigen wrote, while Elizabeth Banks said, “Taking a mental health break from Twitter.”

McGowan encouraged men to stay on Twitter and amplify their voices, writing, “Call on your brothers to be better, go after ones who won’t.”

A number of men got in on the movement as well. Mark Ruffalo tweeted, “Tomorrow I follow the women,” while Nick Offerman wrote,”I’m with her (ad infinitum).” Questlove urged people to back Jemele Hill, who was recently suspended from ESPN over her social media usage. “In addition to supporting the #WomenBoycottTwitter movement I ask you all, remember that [Jemele Hill] is catching hell as well.”

Read more reactions to the protest below:

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ICM’s Chris Silbermann and Ted Chervin Feted by CoachArt Gala of Champions – Variety

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ICM PartnersChris Silbermann and Ted Chervin were honored with the Heart & Humanity Award at the 13th annual Gala of Champions Thursday night at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.

While the two honorees sang CoachArt’s praises on stage, org co-founder and SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie turned the light on them with one resounding statement: “This town has been ravaged by controversy. You may not cheer to this every time, but cheers to the people who have been crushing it and doing good for 25 years in their professional life and giving back to the community.”

The gala, hosted by CoachArt, brought together Hollywood vets from Disney to Netflix, and in addition to celebrating the night’s honorees, managed to bring in over $850,000 to further their mission of helping children battling chronic illnesses.

“Supporting arts and children’s connection to the arts, especially those less fortunate, is what drives our philanthropic energy as an agency,” said Silbermann. “We saw what a great job CoachArt does for chronically ill and disadvantaged kids and their families, giving them something else in their lives besides hospitals, needles, and pain. It gives them hope, it gives them light, and it gives them joy.”

Silbermann’s fellow ICM partner, Chervin, acknowledged that the event was especially personal for him because he and his wife, Anna, are expecting.

“We hope our daughter will be healthy but regardless of the issues she may face, she will thankfully have significant resources at her disposal to help her meet challenges as they arrive,” said Chervin. “We’re humble and grateful for that because we are acutely aware and mindful that not everyone is in such a privileged position.”

ICM’s Chris Silbermann and Ted Chervin accept their CoachArt honor at the Beverly Hilton.
Michael Buckner/Variety/rex/shutterstock

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It’s a Turning Point for Women in Hollywood – Variety

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“I think change has to happen, if it has to happen this way, than this is the perfect way for it to go,” actress Ann Mahoney said of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, on Thursday at the Los Angeles premiere of “Same Kind of Different as Me.” “And hopefully this will make others who are doing this stop.”

Mahoney, who plays a homeless prostitute named Clara in the film, hopes that this will be a turning point for women in Hollywood, opening up “casting for women across age, color, and what we typically talk about as beautiful.”

This desire to spin gold out of straw is in line with the film’s message: Through tough situations — infidelity, cancer, prison, homelessness — you can accomplish some good.

Same Kind of Different as Me,” which opens on Oct. 20, is based on the true-life events of Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear), Deborah Hall (Renée Zellweger), and Denver Moore (Djimon Hounsou). It follows Hall, an art dealer, and his path to friendship with Moore, a homeless man with a traumatic past but unwavering faith. This unlikely pairing is driven by his wife, Deborah, whose spiritual dream leads the couple to the local homeless ministry.

“This was a love story between three people,” Kinnear told Variety.

And it’s a story, many of the stars and creators said they hoped would inspire people to aid the homeless. The issue is particularly important to Hounsou, who called homelessness a “dream killer.”

Prior to his acting and modeling fame, he spent around a year of his youth homeless in France. In 2008, he urged a U.S. Senate panel to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.

Jon Voight called his character, Earl Hall, Ron Hall’s whiskey-addled, politically incorrect father, “comedic relief.” And he earns quite a few laughs as he zooms about on a lawnmower.

On the red carpet though, Voight was more somber, eyes welling with tears as he told the story of befriending and helping a homeless man in New York, while he was doing the Anton Chekhov play “The Seagull” in 1992. “The adventures you have when you try and help someone,” Voight said. “It’s never in vain.”

The real Ron Hall was also in attendance, he introduced the film by paying tribute to Deborah, who passed away in 1999, and Moore, who died in 2012.

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‘It Was Terrifying’ – Variety

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Marilyn Manson spoke about the accident he suffered onstage in New York on Sept. 30, which shattered bones in his right leg and forced the postponement of at least nine dates on the tour.

The band was performing their cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” when a large prop at the center of the stage — a podium, framed by two giant fake pistols — wobbled dramatically. After Manson tried to hold up the podium, it fell upon him. The band kept playing for several moments until they noticed the singer was not getting up.

“I only recently watched the video of it,” Manson told Yahoo Music, his leg still in a cast. “I can see how it could look terrifying. It was terrifying for me, because the truss was not secured properly.”

While onlookers said he appeared to be trying to climb the podium, “I wasn’t trying to climb it,” he said. “It started to fall and I tried to push back and I didn’t get out the way in time. I’m not sure what I hit my head on, but it did fall onto my leg and break the fibula in two places. The pain was excruciating.”

Manson was taken to a local hospital where doctors inserted a plate and 10 screws into the bone, plus another screw through his ankle bone, then placed a hard cast around his leg.

“It definitely could have crushed my skull and my ribs,” Manson says. “I have some minor bruising in that area, but it took six guys to pull it off of me. It was like wrestling a giant iron monster.”

Manson said he will resume the tour when he recovers, although the date was unclear at press time.

 

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Director Floria Sigismondi Talks David Bowie, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘Fleshy’ Love and Fellini – Variety

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Floria Sigismondi was quick to absorb the opera and cinema that she grew up with. “My father was a massive film buff,” she told Variety. “We watched a lot of Fellini.” The director — whose career has spanned from music videos (Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna) to film (“The Runaways”) and TV (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “American Gods“) — first learned to channel her creative spirit through the stroke of a paintbrush.

“Painting is my first love. I always go back to that because there’s something intuitive about it. It’s quite insular,” Sigismondi said backstage at USC’s Joyce J. Cammilleri Hall before stepping out for a Red Bull Music Academy Q&A. She said she loves directing because it encompasses all the forms of media that she loves: “sculpture, fashion, sound, tone, lighting, mood, and time. We demand time of people which is like no other medium, except for music or a painting or a photograph, where someone can give you three or four seconds. But there’s something interesting about asking someone of time. That’s the most fulfilling medium.”

She told Variety that her ultimate projects involve the marriage of two opposites, such as clashing together “something quite textural and brutal” and “something quite beautiful and light. It’s like blending two worlds.” One artist who captured that contrast for Sigismondi was the late David Bowie, for whom she directed four music videos. One of her favorite creations was her 2013 music video for Bowie’s “The Stars Are Out Tonight,” starring Tilda Swinton and the rock legend himself. “I had worked with him in the ’90s. When he called me… we thought he had stopped making music. It was exciting that he had always been creating and wanted to share with us again.” She also expressed her admiration for Swinton, emphasizing how she sees the actress as Bowie’s doppelgänger: “They share this great mystical, alien-like quality.”

Sigismondi’s set props have often been her own creations. “If I don’t create them myself, I design them or draw them,” she insisted. “I can get quite tactile detailed as far as what I see.” Take, for example, Perfume Genius’s “Die 4 U,” which Sigismondi directed the music video for this year. “Mike [Hadreas, of Perfume Genius] has a little bit of a strangeness that I love to tap into,” she said. “He wanted to do this chair dance and I came up with the idea of having this kind of fleshy mound… sculpture… that I nicknamed ‘Fleshy’ and gave this sort of sexual allure. I loved the idea that it wasn’t man and it wasn’t woman. It was just the idea of desire. We created the whole dance and movement based upon that idea.”

Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” video, directed by Anton Corbijn, left an indelible mark on Sigismondi when she saw it on MTV. “The colors were striking,” she said. For years she has felt a deep connection to the “dirty and raw” element of bands like Nirvana and Hole. “It was such a wonderful period for experimenting, but also the music was very heart-bearing… It’s like you’re ripping up your chest and showing your guts and your innards fall on the dirty floor,” she said with a mischievous smile. “It was exciting for me, especially coming out of painting, to see the texture in all that. It wasn’t slick. All that stuff from the ’80s was gone. There was this early ’90s raw, textured filmmaking.”

That decade has continued to inspire her. Sigismondi said she is setting her new film, “The Turning” — based on Henry James’s 1898 ghost story, “The Turning of the Screw” — in the ’90s and plans to “play with music.” She will commence shooting in January.

One of Sigismondi’s most recent works was Episodes 6 and 7 in the first season of Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The show, based on Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, has received widespread acclaim, including honors at the Emmy Awards. “Growing up in Canada, [Atwood] was quite the hero in my eyes. To have worked on that particular book coming to life… there was magic in the air.”

As for music videos, Sigismondi intends to keep working with innovative artists in the vein of the strange. “I’ve always had a secret fantasy of working with Nick Cave,” Sigismondi said. “He tells such vivid stories within his songs. I say that because I’m able to daydream and I see things when I listen to [his music].”

Later during the Q&A, flanked by her own art and props, the conversation was interspersed with clips from Sigismondi’s impressive catalog including her 2010 film, “The Runaways.” Creating the band biopic, which starred Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie, was a rewarding experience for her, but to consider making another music biopic, “It would have to be someone special,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s the micro, tiny thing you focus on rather than the whole career. Those kind of films are hard to do because you have it in Wikipedia. We have those things at our fingertips now. It would be more about, ‘what’s the story that we don’t know?’”

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‘A Man Shouldn’t Be Condemned by a Vigilante System’ – Variety

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Oliver Stone responded to a question about the Harvey Weinstein scandal at the Busan International Film Festival on Thursday, saying “it’s not easy” for the former Hollywood mogul.

“I’m a believer that you wait until this thing gets to trial,” the controversial U.S. film director said. “I believe a man shouldn’t be condemned by a vigilante system. It’s not easy what he’s going through either. He was a rival and I never did business with him. I’ve heard horror stories on everyone in the business. So, I’m not going to comment on that. I’ll wait and see, which is the right thing to do.”

He also weighed in on ongoing tensions between North Korea and the U.S., declaring, “The U.S. government must accept that North Korea has nuclear weapons.”

Admitting that he rarely agrees with the U.S. government, Stone called for the Trump government to accept the status quo as it now is, and negotiate with the Kim Jong-un regime, rather than bluster against it. “We must get China and Russia around the table. Or else this thing will not end well,” Stone said.

The U.S. government position has recently appeared to be divided over North Korea. President Donald Trump has threatened military action as North Korea has conducted nuclear and missile tests. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has advocated diplomacy.

Stone is president of the festival’s New Currents competition jury, but chose to make the Korean political situation a personal one. “My wife is Korean, Her family went through the Korean War.”

“The only alternative to repression is expression,” said Stone, after explaining that South Korean governments have a track record of being tough and uncompromising.

The Busan festival was born in 1995 in reaction to years of heavy censorship and curbs on freedom of expression. Following that period, South Korean cinema has flourished, coming to dominate its booming box  office and winning numerous major prizes on the international festival scene.

“Korean cinema is the best in the world. It is much more interesting than American cinema,” said Stone. “Korean cinema has stood out for me for its choreography, its action, gangster style. Its actors are always naturalistic, however ridiculous they are asked to be.”

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