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FCC Prepares For Flood Of Comments As It Posts Net Neutrality Reversal Plan

The FTC would play a bigger role in overseeing internet practices, and the FCC a smaller one, in FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to scrap his agency’s net neutrality enforcement rules — which it posted today.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, on the agenda for the May 18 meeting, is designed to elicit public comment about how much — or, perhaps, how little — the FCC should do to ensure that internet service providers treat all content providers equally.

Among other things, Pai’s plan proposes to let the FTC oversee ISPs’ privacy practices, eliminate the FCC’s internet conduct standard, and conduct a cost-benefit analysis.

A senior official says that the FCC will release a public notice today telling people how they can weigh in — although there’s “no guarantee” that the computer system will be able to handle the expected tidal wave of comments.

But the document makes it clear that the agency begins with a presumption that the FCC made a mistake in 2015 when it decided to regulate the internet as a phone-like common carrier, under Title II of the Communications Act.

For example, the proposal says it would “restore the market-based policies necessary to preserve the future of Internet Freedom, and to reverse the decline in infrastructure investment, innovation, and options for consumers put into motion by the FCC in 2015.”

The FCC document attributes the growth of the internet to what Pai calls its “light touch” regulations prior to 2015.

And it asserts that the change under previous Chairman Tom Wheeler “has resulted in negative consequences for American consumers—including depressed broadband investment and reduced innovation because of increased regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty stemming from the rules adopted under Title II.”

Those supporting the current system say that it’s needed to give the FCC any meaningful power to protect independent content providers: The U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. overturned the FCC’s previous net neutrality rules saying that the agency lacked the authority to act as long as it defined the internet as an information service — the standard Pai prefers.

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‘3 Generations’: Weinstein Co. & MPAA Agree On PG-13 Rating, With GLAAD’s Backing

UPDATED, 11:49 AM: The MPAA and the Weinstein Company have agreed on a PG-13 rating for TWC’s transgender drama 3 Generations, citing for “mature thematic content [and] some sexual references and language.” The Parents Television Council had sought an R rating for the film.


GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis wrote an open letter in support of the protest, highlighting the significance that portraying trans youth in a mainstream media can have on younger audiences. Ellis later spoke with Joan Graves, head of the Classification and Rating Administration for the MPAA, as well as with Harvey Weinstein in an effort to mediate a solution. TWC opted to make some edits to the film as a compromise.

“It’s organizations such as GLAAD, the ones that don’t shy away from the difficult conversations, that are the reason we are able to move this country forward and really shift the cultural conversations,” Weinstein said in a statement.”I spoke with Joan Graves at MPAA extensively on this, and I am thrilled that we came to a solution that maintains the integrity of this crucial film while making it accessible to its intended audience.”

PREVIOUSLY, April 11: This time, it’s personal. The Parents Television Council is standing behind the “R” rating from the MPAA for TWC’s transgender drama 3 Generations (formerly titled About Ray), which stars Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon. “The most worn-out page in (TWC head) Harvey Weinstein’s playbook describes how to whine about an age rating from the MPAA. And with his new film, 3 Generations, he is back at it once again, suggesting that his film is too important to be rated accurately. Mr. Weinstein must think that if a standard is good, then a double-standard is twice as good,” said PTC President Tim Winter.


TWC

Weinstein says the double-standard that exists is actually at the MPAA. “I disagree with the MPAA. I find that at the big studios they get clearances on films that are violent. I have children and I see them watching scary and horrifically violent PG-rated films and I’m supposed to trust the rating?” he asked. “The story (of 3 Generations) has a lot to do with a teenager making a choice. We asked for a PG-13 rating based on the MPPA having the ability to actually determine that in their discretion. We did this for Bully, too. We’re not doing it for our commercial movies. We’re not arguing with them on our commercial stuff … the only movies we protest is on those which are socially conscious.”

The MPAA assigned the R-rating on 3 Generations because of language and sexual content. The PTC also battled Weinstein when his company wanted to change MPAA’s “R” rating on the documentary Bully. That film’s rating was eventually changed to PG-13. Weinstein also went to bat on what turned out to be a four-time Oscar-award winning movie (including Best Picture) in The King’s Speech with some compromise and he said that the ultimate result was met with approval by many parents.

“On King’s Speech, we had so many letters from parents of stuttering kids who thanked us. (3 Generations) is also a very compassionate look at a very important subject and it has every right to be seen by teens. I have tremendous respect for the MPAA but we have a double standard for violence,” said Weinstein. “I know the LGBT community supports the movie and supports us in this. Also, we have (attorney) David Boies representing the case and he wouldn’t take the case unless he believed in this.”

Boies played a pivitol role in 2009 to overturn Proposition 8, California’s discriminatory ban on gay marriage.

For 3 Generations, Winter says, “The MPAA should stick with the assigned R rating if that movie ratings body believes it to be warranted by the content of the film, period. Either Weinstein can remove the content that causes the film to be rated R, or he can keep the content in and have the film rated R. Regardless of his two options, the man has been exposed for his dishonesty when he suggests that his film is too important to be rated R. If he is truly advocating for children, and if it is a ‘travesty’ that children won’t be able to watch his film if it is rated R, then why must those same children pay him to watch it?”

Weinstein said he does care about children and that is why he is fighting the rating, so that teens can watch a movie that is important to so many trying to make such a personal decision.

“There is abundant evidence pointing to inaccurate and inconsistent age ratings for entertainment media content. The various age rating systems are becoming muddled and more confusing not because of what parents want, but sadly because of what entertainment industry executives can get away with. If the MPAA chooses to create special age rating criteria for Harvey Weinstein, then it will simultaneously destroy whatever level of trust parents have placed in the system over the past 50 years.”

To that, Weinstein said issued a challenge directly to the MPAA: “Take 400 parents and teenagers above the age of 13 and let them watch our movie, and let them decide (what it should be rated). I will abide by that decision.”

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Masters of the Universe Release Date Set; McG Not Directing

Sony Pictures updated their release schedule today, announcing the release date for the Masters of the Universe reboot. More information on the movie is scarce, but one thing is for certain, Masters of the Universe will open on December 18th, 2019. This is exciting news considering that Masters of the Universe has been in development for years with reports of finished scripts reported as far back as 2014.

McG (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator Salvation) was originally slated to direct Masters of the Universe, but is no longer attached and Sony is meeting with prospective directors. David S. Goyer (Batman Begins) is currently writing the screenplay for the reboot. Entertainment Weekly reports that Kellan Lutz of Twilight fame is being strongly considered for the lead role as Prince Adam and He-Man, but that was last June when McG was still in the picture.

Fans of He-Man and Masters of the Universe have been waiting 20 years for a proper reboot. The first live action Masters of the Universe directed by Gary Goddard came out in 1987 and was kind of a mixed bag to say the least. The movie was trashed by critics and fans alike at the time. However, the movie has now grown a cult audience. Goddard tried to sell the film as a living comic book, but has said that comic books were still looked down upon and seen as only for kids by the studios. Dolph Lundgren who starred as He-Man in the original movie has said that it was his least favorite role in his entire career, while Frank Langella who played Skeletor has said that it is one of his favorite roles of his career. By the time 1987 rolled around He-Man’s popularity starting to wane and the live-action movie did not help matters.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe started as a wildly popular action figure franchise by Mattel that started in 1982. The original line of action figures contained miniature comic books that told the story of He-Man and his battles with his foe, Skeletor. The toy line was simple, yet creative and Mattel sold a lot of them, leading to the development of a cartoon. The cartoon series slightly altered He-Man’s origins adding that his true identity was Prince Adam and the Sorcerer gave Adam the power to transform into He-Man. The cartoon is considered to be one of the best animated series of the 1980s and ran from 1983 to 1985 and also launched a spinoff, She-Ra Princess of Power. At its peak, Mattel sold over $400 million worth of He-Man action figures in the United Stated alone.

It is time for a reboot of Masters of the Universe. Comic book movies have come a long way since 1987 and now is the perfect time to breathe new life into a beloved franchise. There are many characters to write for and many stories to pursue. Could we get a He-Man and Skeletor origin story? Fans will have to wait until December 18th, 2019 to find out.

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Keanu Reeves Starring Thriller ‘Siberia’ Rounds Its Cast; Magda Apanowicz To Co-Star In ‘Volition’

Matthew Ross’ romantic thriller Siberia, starring Keanu Reeves, has added Pasha Lychnikoff (Shameless, Ray Donovan), Ana Ularu (Inferno, NBC’s Emerald City) and Molly Ringwald (CW’s Riverdale, All These Small Moments) to its cast as production commences. Written by Scott B. Smith based on a treatment by Stephen Hamel, the pic follows Lucas (Reeves), an American diamond merchant, who travels to Russia and falls into an obsessive relationship with Katya (Ularu), a Russian cafe owner, in a small Siberian town. As their passion builds, so does the treacherous world of the diamond trade. Both collide as the American man desperately looks for escape in a world with no exit. Hamel and Reeves of Company Films and Gabriela Bacher of Summerstorm/Film House Germany are producing. Lychnikoff, who is repped by INSURGE-Ent, will play Boris Volkov, chief antagonist to Reeves’ character. Ularu is repped by UTA while Ringwald is with Barking Dog Entertainment and Untitled Entertainment. IM Global is handling international sales for the film.

Smith Brothers Film Company

Caprica actress Magda Apanowicz has been tapped as the female lead in the Smith Brothers’ sci-fi thriller Volition. She joins Adrian Glynn McMorran, John Cassini, Frank Cassini, and Bill Marchant in the pic is about a man, afflicted with clairvoyance, who tries to change his fate when a series of events leads to a vision of his own murder. Tony Dean and Ryan W. Smith are producing with Paly Productions, Inc and filming is slated to being in June. Apanowicz’s credits include Simon Barry’s Continuum, The Green Inferno from Eli Roth, and ABC Family’s Kyle XY. She’s repped by Global Artists Agency.

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Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair Gets Captain America Director

After announcing last year that the Chronicles of Narnia franchise will be “restarted” with the new movie The Silver Chair, the producers have finally found their director. Joe Johnston has signed on to direct this fantasy adventure, marking his first movie since the 2014 thriller Not Safe For Work. No cast members have been set at this time, but this story will feature characters from the original C.S. Lewis novels, who haven’t been featured in any of the previous movies.

Variety broke the news today, which comes eight months after producer Mark Gordon joined forces with Sony’s TriStar Pictures, eOne and The C.S. Lewis Company for this restart. David Magee came aboard to write the screenplay in 2013, although the studios haven’t set a release date or a production start date at this time quite yet. Here’s what producer Mark Gordon had to say about bringing Joe Johnston in to direct The Silver Chair.

“Joe is a wonderful storyteller who is equally at home in the biggest franchises and the most intimate character pieces. Because C.S. Lewis’ story is iconic and epic, but also tender, personal, and emotional, he’s the perfect choice to bring The Silver Chair to the screen.”

The fantasy movie franchise kicked off in 2005 with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. This story followed the Pevensie children, Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell), who find themselves in the bizarre and magical world of Narnia. The cast also included James McAvoy in a breakout role as Mr. Tumnus, along with Tilda Swinton as the White Witch and Jim Broadbent as Professor Kirke. The 2008 follow-up The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian introduced Ben Barnes as the title character, along with the Pevensie siblings, who all returned in 2010′s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This new story The Silver Chair will not follow any of the Pevensie siblings, instead focusing on their cousin, Eustace Scrubb, who heads into Narnia to rescue Prince Caspian’s kidnapped child.

Mark Gordon will produce with C.S. Lewis’ stepson Douglas Gresham, Vincent Sieber, and Melvin Adams. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe got the franchise off to a good start at the box office, earning $291.7 million domestically and $745 million worldwide. Prince Caspian suffered a sharp drop, taking in $141.6 million domestically and $419.7 million worldwide, while The Dawn Treader slipped even further, to $104.3 million domestically and $415.7 million worldwide. Joe Johnston got his start as an effects illustrator and designer on the very first Star Wars movie, working on the entire original trilogy before transitioning to the director’s chair. He made his directorial debut with 1989′s Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, which he followed up with 90s classics The Rocketeer, Jumanji and October Sky. He also directed Jurassic Park III, Hidalgo, The Wolf Man and the Marvel Phase I adventure Captain America: The First Avenger. Hopefully we’ll have more on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair soon.

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Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Review #2: A-Holes Return with Heart to Spare

The first thing almost anyone will ask someone who has seen a new movie sequel, superhero or otherwise: “Is it better than the first?” By and large, it’s an impossible question to answer, unless you’re so in tuned with this person’s taste that you feel comfortable enough in answering on their behalf. But, also, straight up, the number of sequels that are actually “better” than their predecessors are incredibly few and far between. The exceptions, like The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2 are far outnumbered by the likes of Fantastic Four: The Silver Surfer, Batman Returns and even the MCU is not immune, with Iron Man 2, not to mention the countless non-superhero sequels that fall far short of their predecessors. While a vast majority of the early reactions to Guardians 2 were positive, most believed it wasn’t better than the original, but I just have to disagree. I do in fact think Guardians 2 is better than its predecessor, because it presents a highly-complex story that delivers on every emotional level, while advancing these a-holes’ stories and setting up a true family dynamic that is unparalleled in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Without giving anything away, I just have to get it out of the way that, after a brief yet important prologue, the movie truly kicks off with one of the best opening sequences I’ve seen in years. You’ve seen bits and pieces of it in the trailers, quite a bit of it, actually, but when it all comes together, it’s truly just a wondrous sight to behold, while serving as another reminder of how brilliant writer-director James Gunn is at picking the absolute perfect songs for each scene, which he demonstrates constantly throughout this movie. I can’t possibly divulge any actual details about the scene itself, but I know for me, every time I hear Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” after this movie, I’ll think of that scene, in the same way I think of either Fight Club or Observe and Report every time I hear “Where’s My Mind Again” by Pixies. I could be wrong, but it also seemed to be an homage of sorts to Fatboy Slim’s music video for “Weapon of Choice,” which famously showed off Christopher Walken’s dance moves… but perhaps I’ve said too much already…

Given how much attention was paid to the identity of Star-Lord’s father after Guardians of the Galaxy became a huge hit, many were quite shocked when James Gunn and his cast unveiled the first footage at Comic-Con last year, which confirmed that Kurt Russell’s mysterious role was none other than Ego the Living Planet, who was in fact Peter Quill’s father. James Gunn would later admit that all of the footage from the trailers were scenes that happened very early in the movie, which was quite accurate. We do see quite early on that the Guardians have been hired by the gold-skinned snobs known as The Sovereign, lead by Ayesha, played to arrogant perfection by Elizabeth Debicki, to take care of that massive squid monster thing that Drax (Dave Bautista) is seen leaping into in the trailers. While their mission was a success, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) screws it up by doing something stupid, which sends them on the run from the Sovereign’s massive drone fleet, and then that’s when stuff really starts getting interesting, weird, hilarious and tremendously endearing.

I honestly wasn’t terribly surprised to hear the early reactions about the sequel falling just short of the sequel, but after finally watching it, I just don’t see it at all. Like many Marvel fans, I was “let down” by Marvel sequels like Iron Man 2 and Avengers: Age of Ultron, but those movies had unenviable tasks ahead of them, following up the MCU’s first ever movie, Iron Man, a surprise hit in its own right, and the MCU’s biggest and most successful movie still to this day, The Avengers. This is just one man talking here, but both of those movies suffered from the stakes and the scope being elevated so much that it became detrimental to the story they were trying to tell. None of that happens in Guardians 2, in what might be the MCU’s most balanced movie to date, delving into character arcs, juggling a complex story while still delivering the action and humor fans have come to love from the original. The only thing I could think if that critics might be “let down” by, was there wasn’t quite as much humor this time around, but the story didn’t call for it, and as far as I’m concerned, the continued character development of each main character more than made up for less humor, even though the humor that was there, was spot on.

Perhaps because it’s literally set in a different galaxy, perhaps because it has a director who is still an indie kid at heart, but Guardians 2 never punches above its weight class, with James Gunn skillfully balancing scope with in-depth character development with as much adept precision as he has for picking the perfect song to go with each scene. The entire soundtrack is simply epic on its own, but each song paired with each scene, hand-picked by James Gunn, is honestly masterful. If you don’t “catch the feels” (or whatever you kids say now) when Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” comes up, then check your pulse. Every one of the main Guardians gets a bigger and more in-depth arc, along with some wonderful insight into Yondu (Michael Rooker), including some truly insane scenes with his Yaka arrow and bonding with Rocket, much more on Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula’s (Karen Gillan) sibling rivalry, even more scene-stealing brilliance from Dave Bautista’s Drax and, oh yeah, Sylvester Stallone in a fantastic role, and four (out of five, apparently) post-credit scenes that present some intriguing possibilities for the future of the MCU’s cosmic universe. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is not only “better” than its predecessor, but it’s also one of the rare Marvel sequels that doesn’t suffer from bloating the scope so much that it overshadows the story.

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The Circle Review: A Sledgehammer Satire of Social Media

Cover your webcam, muffle your cellphone, you’re not paranoid, they really are watching you. Welcome to the world depicted in The Circle, a sledgehammer satire of privacy and pesonal freedom. The film puts a bullseye on the Big Brother reach of companies like Google and Facebook. The ideals and concerns presented are valid, but the execution is overdone and blase. We get the message. It’s delivered via firehouse.

Emma Watson stars as Mae Holland, a customer service rep struggling to get by. Her best friend, Annie (Karen Gillan), gets her a job at The Circle, a behemoth internet company that has pioneered social media. It’s charismatic CEO, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), belts out tech breakthroughs and wisdom to the cult-like employees a la Steve Jobs. Mae at first struggles to fit into the ultra-connected corporate culture. But personal issues at home and with a childhood friend (Ellar Coltrane) soon has her drinking the Kool-Aid as well. It’s not until a chance meeting with a mysterious coworker (John Boyega) does Mae truly grasp the power of the company.

The Circle spends a lot of time making pointed barbs at the culture of Silicon Valley. We get the earnest millenials slaving away at a cheery compound. Resplendent with ping pong tables, pool, yoga classes, dorms; all of the accoutrements needed to work twenty hour days. These initial scenes, especially the dialogue from the worker bee clones, are humorous. The gag loses its luster quickly as the plot progresses. We are meant to believe that ostensibly intelligent people, able to create algorithms and advanced tech, are lemmings when it comes to privacy issues. It’s entirely unbelievable after a point. The film then drags considerably as we’re preached to like the sheep it mocks.

The Circle is co-written by Dave Eggers, the author of the 2013 novel the film is based on. This one is a headscratcher as the script is mundane. It plays out very slowly and in a ham-fisted way. It could be that the novel has similar beats and is just being recreated. I’ve never read the book, so can’t make that judgment. It’s just intriguing, and a rarity, that the original writer’s script is so boring.

The characters in the film are completely unbelievable. Some, like the Tom Hanks ceo, are meant to be caricatures. The others fall flat in their intelligence and naivete. I can buy a girl being impressed by a new job, but not much else that Mae does. Emma Watson cries and croons, but her actions are nonsensical. The why, especially after the film’s climactic event, is totally illogical. The Circle takes what should be a lucid character and boxes her into the overly satirical plot.

Privacy issues, surveillance, the ability to be off the grid, we’ve seen these themes tackled before in far superior films. It’s 2017, Orwell’s 1984 is decades past. The average social media user is keenly aware of its dangers. The Circle isn’t telling or showing us anything new in this regard. It needed to be faster paced and more entertaining. From STX Pictures, The Circle is a dull and bloated exercise in technology’s overreach.

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Jesse Eisenberg To Star In, Write & Direct Comedy TV Series In Works At Bad Robot

EXCLUSIVE: Jesse Eisenberg has teamed with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Prods. for The Market, a half-hour single-camera comedy series project, which Eisenberg is writing and will be starring in and directing. Warner Bros. TV, where Bad Robot is based, is the studio.

The Market centers on the recently widowed Harold Katzman who moves to Pittsburgh to live with his adult son, Stan (Eisenberg). Both men simultaneously lose their jobs due to the changing American economy and are thrust into an unforgiving job market.

Eisenberg is executive producing The Market with Bad Robot’s Abrams and Ben Stephenson.

In addition to being an Oscar-nominated actor for The Social Network, Eisenberg has written three plays, including The Spoils, which recently completed a successful West End run with Eisenberg starring. He also wrote and starred alongside Vanessa Redgrave in his play The Revisionist, and in 2011 he wrote and starred in the play Asuncion at the Cherry Lane Theatre, earning a Drama League nomination.

Eisenberg’s acting credits also include Roger Dodger, The Squid and the Whale, Adventureland, Zombieland Batman v. Superman, the Now You See Me franchise and Café Society. He will be seen in Justice League, reprising his role as Lex Luthor. Eisenberg started his acting career in TV as one of the stars of Clyde Phillips’ short-lived 1999 family drama Get Real before segueing to features.

Eisenberg, a frequent contributor to The New Yorker magazine and the author of the collection, Bream Gives Me Hiccups, from Grove Press, is repped by CAA and Felker Toczek Gellman Suddleson.

Paramount

Bad Robot has another high-profile series project in development, recently teaming with RuPaul and reality production company World of Wonder for a half-hour dramedy series, a fictionalized version of RuPaul’s rise from club kid to drag queen, gay icon, and global star.

Bad Robot is producing the breakout HBO drama series Westworld and recently announced new horror drama series for Hulu, Castle Rock, based on the works of Stephen King. The company is repped by CAA.

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