Ballet 422


Art isn’t easy. That’s the main “takeaway” from this brisk
and engaging documentary, directed by Jody Lee Lipes. After a few text notes
explaining who the main players are—they are the New York City Ballet and a
dancer/choreographer named Justin Peck—“Ballet 422” chronicles the creation of
the four-hundred-and-twenty-second original ballet mounted by the company, from
its conception to opening night.

As in the films of documentarians David and Albert Maysles
and Frederick Wiseman, this true-life chronicle eschews both narration and
on-camera interview. Justin Peck does not explain the premise of his ballet,
his reason for choosing the music (“Sinfonietta La Jolla” by 20th-century
composer Bohuslav Martinu), or any such thing; instead, Lipes’ cameras show him
thinking and working in an empty rehearsal room with a boom box, or in his
quiet walk-up apartment. Soon he’s laying out moves for his lead dancers,
conferring with the costume designers, lighting directors, the orchestra
conductors, and so on.

The process as chronicled by Lipes is relatively drama-free
but extremely labor intensive. Nobody’s a diva, voices are never raised,
there’s no last-minute crisis. Which isn’t to say there isn’t tension, or
irony, or interest. Part of the magic of the dance, if you’re a fan of it (it’s
not really my cup of tea, but you can’t like EVERYTHING), is the illusion that
the work you’re watching has just been conjured out of thin air, and all of the
members of the team creating Peck’s ballet are master illusionists. But they’re
also people with jobs, and the movie does an excellent job of showing the
commonplace workaday atmosphere that is, in fact, a big part of that business
we call show.

Peck is quiet, conscientious, dedicated, and well-mannered,
which is in pretty stark contrast to Brock Enright, the subject of Lipes’ 2009
film “Good Times Will Never Be The Same,” which depicted Enright generally being the worst person in the world, and ended with
the nightmare vision of his actually spawning. But Lipes also depicted Enright
as a guy with a work ethic. So there IS a thematic throughline here,
auteurists. The irony of Peck’s position is, while he’s on the rise as a
choreographer, as a dancer he’s in a rather more plebian position, which
provides the movie with a punchline that Lipes neither overstates nor shrugs
off. The movie, which sticks to a relatively rough-and-ready handheld visual
style for the most part (Lipes’ is largely known for his work as a
cinematographer; he’s collaborated closely with Lena Dunham and shot Judd Apatow’s
upcoming “Trainwreck”), ends on a very beautiful and still shot of the site of
the City Ballet that will remind New York-based viewers of their cultural
privilege, and maybe goad them into taking advantage of it more often. Heck, I
was thinking maybe of checking out a ballet, even. 


The Voices


Ryan Reynolds is having a bit of a moment, even if too few
people are seeing it. Taken together, his work in Atom Egoyan’s “The Captive,”
Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck’s Sundance hit “Mississippi Grind” and, releasing
On Demand and in limited theatrical release today, Marjane Satrapi’s “The Voices,” represent a renaissance for the actor, who is clearly taking roles that
interest him instead of the biggest paychecks or most likely shots at stardom.
I’ve always liked Reynolds for the most part, but he does his best work yet here in
Satrapi’s odd, pitch-black comedy about a man who talks to his dog and cat. And
they talk back.

The opening act of “The Voices” has echoes of Joel and Ethan
Coen’s sarcastic looks at small town life as we meet the relentlessly upbeat
Jerry (Reynolds), a worker at a toy factory at which he must dress in pink
every day. He’s as happy as they come, gleefully planning an office party and
over the moon at the fact that it will include a conga line to “Sing a Happy Song” like a cheesy
wedding. It’s only when he returns to his rundown abode that his cat Mr.
Whiskers sets him straight—“The only
reason they don’t fire your ass is because you’re so hopelessly pathetic you
amuse them.
” Like so many filmmakers before her, Satrapi is exploring the
dark underbelly and murderous intent of even the most cheerful, seemingly happy
people in society.

Jerry needs to be on drugs to function normally. So says Dr.
Warren (an underutilized Jacki Weaver), with whom he regularly meets. Without
his anti-psychotic medication, Jerry talks to his dog Bosco and his cat Mr.
Whiskers (who are both perfectly voiced by Reynolds himself…which makes a
twisted sense if you think about it). Bosco is the supportive angel to his loyal master
while Mr. Whiskers is the devil on Jerry’s shoulder, encouraging bad behavior
and denigrating every attempt at normalcy.

Jerry acts on his romantic interest in a gorgeous co-worker named
Fiona (Gemma Arterton), asking her out for Chinese food. After she stands him
up, he happens upon her in the road, offering her a ride home. A car crash
leads to an accidental death, and before you know it Fiona’s head is in Jerry’s
fridge. And it’s still talking to him. Bosco tries to convince Jerry that he’s
still a good guy but Fiona wants a friend in the lonely refrigerator. Mr.
Whiskers thinks that’s a grand idea.

There’s a great sequence about halfway through “The Voices”
in which Jerry gives in and takes his meds as ordered, waking up to a world
that he doesn’t want to live in. He has no friends without the voices in his
head/pets. And the talking head of Fiona in his dementia is much more appealing
than the reality of a decomposing head in his refrigerator. “The Voices” is the tale of a man who
can’t look back, really since the death of his mother, or he’ll really go insane. Once you start talking
to your pets, there’s no turning around.

And that’s what Reynolds truly captures: the idea that Jerry
is a man forced down a road of violence by things that he cannot control. He is
a unique serial killer in that he so wants normalcy, companionship and
happiness. The joy in Reynolds’ eyes when he is shown human kindness by another
co-worker (the always-great Anna Kendrick) is as key to this performance as the
insanity that other actors would have focused on and turned into scenery chewing. Reynolds
uses his natural charm and good looks to great effect here. He’s the boy next
door; the smiling co-worker who’s both easy to root for and remarkably annoying
in the same breath. It may be hard to believe until you see it but this is a truly
subtle take on a man who has conversations with his pets. It’s really great

The final act of “The Voices” doesn’t quite
connect like I hoped it would. Satrapi seems to enjoy the set-up more than the
climax, almost as if she’s sorry to see Jerry’s dark forces come to their
inevitable conclusion as well. I also wish we weren’t presented with a tonally
jarring back story for Jerry in which his insanity is given hereditary background.
We don’t need a “reason” for Jerry, and it feels like a different film
intruding on the world of this one when it’s presented. Reynolds brings the
character to life in such an interesting way that explaining him in flashback feels
like the wrong move. Maybe even Satrapi didn’t realize the moment her star is
having either.


Seventh Son


“Hope for the best, expect the worst.” Mel Brooks
popularized that adage in a funny song he co-wrote for one of his most amusing
films, the relatively obscure 1970 “The Twelve Chairs.” It’s a useful sentiment
in general, but, for the film reviewer, something that applies most particularly
in the first two months of the new year, which, at least as far as studio
product is concerned, represent a dumping ground for problematic product or
just plain unmarketable dreck.

Given the fact that its U.S. release date was moved not
once, but twice, and that it now finds itself occupying a date in the
aforementioned dumping ground, one might expect the Sergei-Bodrov-directed
“Seventh Son,” a medieval fantasy tale with a strong Young Adult stress in its
plotting (not surprising, as it’s based on a YA book, the first of three so far
featuring the same characters, as is the thing these days) to be pretty bad.
But, surprise! One doesn’t want to damn the movie with faint praise by saying
“it’s not that bad,” but that’s kind of the most objectively accurate
description of it, in all honesty. Subjectively, though? This critic, who’s an
unabashed fan of the myth-mash-up monster movies of the ‘50s and ‘60s that
featured a plethora of stop-motion-animated monsters and such, found himself
rather enjoying more than a few portions of the movie, which indeed features a
plethora of computer-animated monsters that at least seem to have been inspired
by the work of such old-school tech masters as Ray Harryhausen.

Another attraction is that the adult leads of the picture
are Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. Bridges plays a righteous witch-hunting
“spook” (he’s also a Knight of some secret sacred order or another) while
Moore plays a near-omnipotent witch who’s going to use the
once-in-a-hundred-years “night of the blood moon” to make herself 100%
omnipotent. Of course these two characters have a romantic back-story. Of
course they do. Since every other film critic writing about this movie is going
to make some kind of “I didn’t think the sequel to ‘Big Lebowski’ would be THIS
weird” joke, I’ll spare you my effort. It is, however, a pleasure to see The
Dude and Maude in a clinch once more, even if Bridges’ mumble-mouthed, grizzled
hero is more like his “True Grit” Rooster Coburn crossed with Richard Harris in
Camelot,” had Richard Harris been 70 in “Camelot.” In other words, it’s a truly
eccentric performance, and why not. As for Moore, she looks gorgeous and
slithers with enough menace that you can almost convince yourself that her
dragon-morph isn’t a special effect.

The YA aspect is provided by the spook’s new apprentice, the
titular seventh son Tom Ward (Ben Barnes), who, of course, falls for a teen witch
(half-witch, more accurately; the condition of half-witchdom plays a crucial
albeit entirely predictable part in the plot) who’s the daughter of Moore’s
right-hand witch. The standard complications ensue, but they’re pretty easy to
gloss over if you just wanna get off on the fellas battling man-bears and
multi-armed swordsman and a bald-pated guy who can make ax-blades out of his
hands when he’s NOT being a dragon. At such points, and particularly during a
cliff-diving-and-waterfall scene in which Tom goes up against a very stubborn
giant, “Seventh Son” builds up the goofy charm of an old-school Saturday
afternoon matinee. The tech credits, as they call them in the trades, tell you
why: the effects were designed by original “Star Wars” guy John Dykstra, and
the sumptuous art direction is by Dante Ferretti, who’s worked magic for the
likes of Fellini, De Palma, and Scorsese. Olivia Williams and Djimon Hounsou
are welcome components in the supporting cast, and the whole thing is over and
done with in a good deal less than two hours. A towering cinematic achievement?
Hardly. But not entirely unsatisfying if this particular genre itch needs some


Mad As Hell


Borrowing its title from one fed-up newscaster’s furious
declaration in “Network,” Andrew Napier’s “Mad as Hell” does indeed play like a
real-life update of Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chayevsky’s skewering of TV news.
Except that here the main personality is notably calmer, if no less passionate,
and his personal story also touches on a larger and very significant one: the
battle between old and new media and how it relates to journalists’ ability to
“speak truth to power” in an age of all-pervasive corporate control.

Nowhere in the film is its subject, Cenk Uygur, the founder
and main mouthpiece of a YouTube show titled The Young Turks (TYT), called a
journalist, but he does function as such, even if his game is commenting on the
news rather than doing reportorial spadework. Being innocent of much television
and online content, this reviewer had never heard of Uygur or TYT but found the
film’s account of them engaging enough to leave him intrigued and impressed
with both.

Director Napier comes at his subject from an insider’s
angle. After moving to Los Angeles a few years back, the aspiring filmmaker got
a job at TYT and later proposed making a documentary about his boss to the man
himself. Uygur agreed and promised Napier complete editorial control of the
sort that guarantees his own, liberally employed freedom of expression. Thus
began a five-year filmmaking odyssey that reached a dramatic climax of sorts
when Uygur had encounters with the mainstream media that tested his principles
and autonomy.

Raised in a Turkish immigrant family, Uygur was aggressively
opinionated from an early age, according to friends who, sometimes with
quasi-pained expressions, recall his domineering ways in any and all
discussions. From the first time he made it onto TV, he knew he wanted a career
braying his thoughts at the public. So, after graduating from law school and
quickly quitting the first cushy law job that came his way, he launched himself
onto the airwaves via a public access channel in northern Virginia. The pay was
zilch but the satisfactions, it seems, were formidable.

From there he moved to Florida, where he proved to be a
terrible on-air reporter, sweaty and obnoxious. Undeterred, he moved to L.A.
and landed a Sirius radio show, where his opinion-mongering proved to be a good
fit. To this point, Uygur’s beliefs made him another angry
conservative/Republican shouter, a baby Beck or Limbaugh. However, after the
U.S. invasion of Iraq and the resulting reports of American torturers, he
jumped the ideological fence and became a liberal/progressive – without turning
down the volume, of course.

“Mad as Hell” does not spend much time on Uygur’s political
views, either before or after his conversion, and that’s just as well: only a
few soundbites will suffice to let most viewers know where he stands. His more
important views concern the media. Offered lots of money just to appear on
radio and avoid TV, he turned down the cash – one of numerous instances of
“burning bridges,” which he claims as a specialty – and landed in what for him
became the ideal video perch: TYT, an Internet show that allowed him to say exactly what he wanted on any topic that
engaged him.

That freedom proved a heady brew not just for him but for
YouTube viewers who, struck by the show’s honesty and lack of constraint, kept
coming back in larger and larger numbers. Since its launch a decade ago, TYT
has had over two billion hits.

But with success came a fork in the path. Uygur’s renown
meant that he was offered gigs on MSNBC and Al Gore’s Current TV. The latter
seems to have been a happy alliance, but it ended when Gore sold the network to
Al-Jazeera English. The former is a more interesting story. Uygur seems to have
done a good job substituting for various MSNBC hosts, but after he finally
landed the coveted 6pm slot for himself, the network pulled him. The reason, he
believes, is that he was too hard on President Obama. Fox News belongs to the
Republican Party and MSNBC to the Democrats, he says, which is why you so
seldom hear genuinely progressive critiques of the latter: corporate media
simply do not allow truly independent voices.

Uygur, who is seen taking part in the Occupy Wall Street
demonstrations of a couple of years back, makes a good case that Internet news
and opinion outlets are filling a need that old media, unfortunately, simply
can’t. Whether that means the truths they speak to power will eventually make a
difference – Uygur says government officials “don’t give a crap” – remains to
be seen. But his pioneering efforts certainly remind us how controlled most
“news” in this country is, and how much alternatives to them are needed.




The status of actor Nicolas Cage’s career has now
definitively shifted from its entertainingly eccentric phase into its genuinely
befuddling and perhaps sad phase. Fans of the actor and followers of the
tabloids are aware of his unpleasant encounters with the federal government
with respect to taxes. So we, or they, know, or can infer, the reasons behind
some of his more unusual career choices, such as his recent appearance in a
reboot, such as it is, of the “Left Behind” film adaptations. Thing is, maybe
we could be wrong about our inference. I once interviewed a very well-respected
character actor who was in the middle of a run of undistinguished films, and
asked him—wording the question rather politely, mind you—what such a fantastic
actor with no tax issues that I knew of was doing in all this dreck, and his
answer was pretty simple: he’s an actor. He likes to work. If someone offers
him work and he’s available, he does it. Film fans tend to forget that for
every role an actor wins in a movie, in his or her backstory there are tens,
and maybe hundreds, of roles that he or she didn’t get.

By now you may be wondering why I’m musing on such matters rather than discussing the motion picture at hand. Your inference in this case
is probably one hundred percent correct. Directed by stunt expert Nick Powell,
here making his feature debut in this category, and written by James Dormer,
“Outcast” begins with some hot Crusades action, with Western dudes in armor
slicing up non-Western dudes; a title tells us we’re in the 12th Century in “The Middle East.” Why bother viewers with a level of detail they
won’t need, right? Or maybe it’s that the filmmakers themselves neither know
nor care. Seems a combination of both, maybe. Cage and Hayden Christensen play
warriors who are, for their own reasons, distinctly embittered by all this
crusading stuff. “Haven’t you had enough of this killing for hypocrite
priests?” Cage’s Gallain asks Christensen’s Jacob, in a peculiar (of course)
near-British accent. The exchange continues as swords clang, and Jacob
chastises Gallain: “You’re not the man you once were.” “None of us are,” is the

A little later, we are in the throne room of an emperor
somewhere in Asia proper, and the clichés continue. A meek young prince is told
he will be the next emperor, but insists he doesn’t want to, because the people
will not accept him. “Your brother is a great warrior,” the aged emperor
counters…“but…” There’s always a but. Cue Great Warrior Brother, Shing (Andy
On), who bellows “The throne is my birthright!” stabs dad, and chases baby
brother and baby sister. Holing up in an inn, baby brother and sister are waylaid
by Shing’s men, only to be rescued by a mysterious and drunk Western warrior.

Not Cage, it turns out. No, it’s poor Hayden Christensen who
plays the guy who’s going to save the two feckless Asians from the brutal
relative, but you won’t think “poor Hayden Christensen” for long, because his
performance is so lifeless you’re likely to start resenting George Lucas all
over again, again. Will Cage show up again? Well, of course he will, happily,
or sadly, enough, and he does bring his own particular brand of life to the
proceedings, as when he tells Christensen “I should have left you for crow
meat.” If you’re still watching the movie by this time, if you even started
watching it in the first place, I can only imagine that you, like me, have some
professional obligation to do so. Aside from providing an object lesson in how
Chinese film financing forces some rather remarkable storyline convolutions
into generic international action pictures, “Outcast” provides nothing of
interest. There are hundreds of good to great action movies out there that you
could watch instead of this. Some of them star Nicolas Cage. You’d be better
off. Trust me. 


Love, Rosie


“Love, Rosie” is one of those annoying movies in which everything would be just fine if the two central characters had a simple conversation that cleared up all their misunderstandings. But then, there would be no movie – although, in retrospect, that might not be such a bad thing.

Instead, we get contrivances and coincidences, near-misses and almost-theres. This cosmic confluence of events, which takes place over a dozen years, is meant to be swoony and tragic but is actually more irritating than anything else. That the actors playing our would-be lovers—Lily Collins (“Mirror Mirror”) and Sam Claflin (the “Hunger Games” movies)—are appealing individually and have decent chemistry together helps make this thoroughly mediocre British romantic comedy more tolerable than it ought to be.

Director Christian Ditter offers some artful touches in adapting Cecelia Ahern’s novel “Where Rainbows End.” The lighting is often quite lovely, for example—streaks of late-afternoon sunshine in a park, or lamplight filling a darkened bedroom. But for every delicate element there are many others that are heavy-handed or cringe-inducing, including some painfully on-the-nose musical selections. (Salt-N-Pepa’s perky “Push It” plays while Collins’ character, Rosie, is giving birth. Get it? Because she’s pushing!)

But the tonal transition that occurs before that scene—from a sweet and quiet moment of Rosie bonding with her sizable bump to the noisy wackiness of her screaming through delivery—is reflective of the kind of jarring shifts that often make this movie so uneven.

The script from Juliette Towhidi begins in the present day, with Rosie making a speech at a wedding, then flashes back to reveal the lifelong friendship she’s shared with Claflin’s Alex. The two have been inseparable since they were 5 years old; then at Rosie’s 18th birthday, they briefly (and drunkenly) kissed after too many tequila shots. The spark is clearly there.

But in the ensuing years, each has managed to become involved with other people who are just as clearly wrong for them. These aren’t just ill-advised dalliances—they’re aggressively bad picks, depleting the film of even the slightest shred of tension as to its outcome. Alex has a penchant for vapid, leggy blondes. Rosie romps with her thoughtless, pretty-boy prom date and winds up pregnant after a condom mishap.

And here’s one of the many places where “Love, Rosie” takes a detour into territory that isn’t just distractingly unbelievable; it’s downright stupid. Rather than tell her best friend that she’s expecting, Rosie keeps this information from Alex because she’s afraid it will prevent him from heading to Harvard to study medicine. Or something. Boston was their shared dream (she’d planned to study hotel management at Boston College—although she also mentions Boston University, which is an entirely different place) but now he’ll have to go alone while she secretly changes diapers. They grew up across the street from each other in an insular neighborhood; the notion that he wouldn’t find out she has a baby is absurd. But whatever. We need to move on—there are so many other problems here.

Years pass. Alex stays in Boston, ostensibly trying to forge a medical career, although we never actually see him studying or caring for patients. Rosie, following in her father’s footsteps, takes a job as a chambermaid at a posh hotel with dreams of opening her own cozy inn someday. Jaime Winstone (Ray’s daughter), as Rosie’s co-worker and best friend, livens things up while dialing down the clichés of the wisecracking sidekick. And yet: Their conversations definitely don’t pass the Bechdel test. Despite the fact that she’s a grown woman and a mother now, all Rosie can talk about is Alex.

More years pass. Rosie and Alex visit each other across the Atlantic. They send instant messages and text. They flirt and fight and eventually make up—but first, Rosie returns home, feeling gloomy, to the obvious strains of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally).” Yet the cruel forces of nature conspire to keep them apart. These include the father of Rosie’s now-12-year-old daughter, who returns to the picture just in time to steal an actual handwritten letter from Alex and then stuff it in a drawer to keep her from reading his confessions of love.

“We just keep missing each other!” Rosie laments tearfully toward the film’s end. Collins and Claflin have a few moments that seem honest and effortless enough to make you wish for them to end that streak, but not nearly enough.


Sony Pictures Entertainment and MRC Will Bring Neill Blomkamp’s ‘Chappie’ to IMAX


‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2′ Soars Into IMAX 3D Theaters Starting November 20


Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine


“Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” is a great documentary. It might face an uphill battle to be seen, because it revisits a crime that sparked national reckoning with the reality of homophobia, and that eventually led to the creation of The Matthew Shepard Foundation and the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. I hope people discover it. It is wrenching but never exploitive. It is impressively skeptical of the same mission that it takes on its shoulders: to make something positive from a senseless crime without diminishing its senselessness. This film doesn’t just revisit an atrocity, it moves through it, and finds meaning in it. 

The story starts on the night of Oct. 12, 1998, when Shepard, a 21-year old college student, was offered a ride home by two young men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, then tied to a fence, viciously beaten, and abandoned. Shepard died of his injuries. In the ensuing trial, McKinney’s lawyer tried to keep his client out of prison through the “gay-panic defense,” in which defendants who think they’ve been the object of homosexual advances claim they were seized by “a psychotic state characterized by unusual violence.” 

Director Michele Josue, who knew Shepard, frames the story as her own meditation on Shepard’s life and death. This would seem self-aggrandizing if the filmmaker didn’t quickly move beyond herself and distribute her attention democratically among Shepard’s family and friends. In the second half, she widens the film’s scope and shows how the news of the crime and trial affected strangers: not just gays and lesbians who saw Shepard’s killing as a worst-case-scenario projection of their own experiences with harassment and violence (a teary-eyed Ellen DeGeneres is glimpsed briefly at a public memorial service), but anyone who was offended by displays of ignorant savagery, and frustrated by the tendency of America’s legal system and popular culture to make excuses for them.

Much of the film is about Shepard coming to terms with his sexual orientation, then getting beyond his cultural roots and building his own identity. His mother Judy remembers how the young Matt Shepard always wanted to dress as Dolly Parton on Halloween—she worries that this is a stereotypical signifier, but still seems moved by the memory—and his father Dennis recounts his own no-big-deal reaction to his son’s decision to come out to him. We learn that Shepard traveled the world, and we hear loved ones reading aloud from letters he wrote to them. In an especially affecting passage, we learn that Shepard was raped by several men in an alley in Morocco, an event that influenced his decision to move back home to Wyoming.

Throughout, “Matt Shepard Was a Friend of Mine” does an admirable job of taking a man who’s been turned into a symbol and making him a man again—a young man. We get a sense of a life unfolding before us, a personality shifting and changing, a voice finding itself: the middle section of the movie, which focuses on Shepard’s personal evolution, is one of the best examples I’ve seen recently of cinema’s ability to universalize a singular experience. No matter who you are or where you come from, you’ll probably see yourself represented in some part of Shepard’s life—which makes that same life’s premature extinction all the more saddening, of course. The film also captures that aching void left by a sudden death: that sense that a hole has been torn in reality. The sense of dislocation is felt most keenly in scenes that deal with Shepard’s younger brother, Logan, who adored him. 

Without putting too fine a point on it, the film also asks what it means to be truly Christian, as opposed to distorting Christianity as a cover for hate. Concepts of acceptance (not “tolerance”) and forgiveness are never far from its mind, and these move into the foreground when Josue speaks to Father Roger Schmit, who counseled one of Shepard’s killers. Schmit tells her that forgiving those who’ve done wrong to us doesn’t mean letting go of anger—that righteous anger at injustice can be a force that gives shape to grief, and turns it into something positive, forward-thinking, healing.  It’s overwhelming in the best way—an observation so simple and profound that stops the film in its tracks. To her credit, Josue lets it stop, and just sits with Schmit’s revelations for a while, and lets them sink into the movie, and our minds. 

The film’s title reveals its world view, and its mission: not “Matt Shepard was,” but “Matt Shepard is.” 


SAG, DGA & WGA Members Could Be Victims Of Anthem Hack

SAG, the WGA and the DGA are all warning their members that their personal information may have been compromised by a recent cyber attack on Anthem, a health care provider to all three of the guilds’ health plan.

“It is possible that the personal information of guild members was accessed by the hackers,” the WGA said in email message to its members.”

According to Anthem, this information could include names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and employment information. “Based on what we know now,” Anthem said, “there is no evidence that credit card or medical information were targeted or compromised.”

“On February 4, Anthem, one of the country’s largest providers of health insurance, revealed that the personal information of millions of its customers was the target of a cyber attack,” the DGA said on its website. “The DGA–Producer Health Plan contracts with Anthem for use of their provider network. The Health Plan also uses Anthem to pay provider claims. Health Plan participants are not insured by Anthem, so it is not yet known if DGA–PHP participant data was part of the Anthem breach.”

The SAG – Producers Pension & Health Plans issued a similar warning to its beneficiaries. “Last night the Plans discovered, Anthem, who provides the Health Plan with access to their provider network, experienced an IT security breach,” the Plans stated. “An Anthem IT system was compromised and personal information from current and former customers and employees was stolen. We are currently not aware of how many Health Plan participants were affected.

As we learn more about the Anthem breach we will continually update our website and communicate all new information with you. Protecting your personal information is one of our top priorities, and our internal IT team is constantly working to secure your data as well as on updating our security processes.”

Anthem says that it “will individually notify current and former members whose information has been accessed. We will provide credit monitoring and identity protection services free of charge so that those who have been affected can have peace of mind. We have created a dedicated website - – where members can access information such as frequent questions and answers. We have also established a dedicated toll-free number that both current and former members can call if they have questions related to this incident. That number is: 1-877-263-7995. As we learn more, we will continually update this website and share that information you.”