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By LINDSEY BAHR

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Women and inclusivity continued to dominate the awards season conversation Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards, where Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical romance “The Shape of Water” won the top award and honorees like Jordan Peele and Ava DuVernay gave rousing speeches to the room of entertainment industry leaders.

The untelevised dinner and ceremony, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., is closely watched for its capacity to predict the eventual Oscar best picture winner, but this year the “awards race” seemed to be the secondary show to the more urgent questions facing the industry, including the crisis of representation and sexual misconduct.

The Producers Guild on Friday ratified guidelines for combating sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, and everyone from DuVernay to Universal Chair Donna Langley and television mogul Ryan Murphy made mention of the changing times and the work that still needs to be done.

“If we want more brilliant films like ‘Get Out’ …we need to have many different perspectives including equal numbers of women, people of color, people of all faiths and sexual orientation involved in every stage of filmmaking,” Langley said in accepting the Milestone Award — noting that she was only the third woman to do so.

It was not the only time “Get Out” got a special mention, despite not winning the top award. Peele also won the Stanley Kramer Award.

Del Toro was not present to accept the PGA’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, due to the health of his father.

His film was up against 10 others this year, including “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which won big at the Golden Globes earlier this month, “Lady Bird,” ″Get Out,” ″Dunkirk,” ″The Post,” ″Call Me By Your Name,” ″The Big Sick,” ″I, Tonya” ″Wonder Woman” and “Molly’s Game” — many of which were represented by actors and directors in attendance like Timothee Chalamet, Christopher Nolan, Margot Robbie, Patty Jenkins and Greta Gerwig.

Other presenters included the likes of Tom Hanks, Reese Witherspoon, Mary J. Blige, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kerry Washington and Morgan Freeman in the ceremony that saw Disney and Pixar’s “Coco” pick up best animated feature and Brett Morgen’s Jane Goodall film “Jane” win best documentary.

In television, “The Handmaids Tale” picked up best drama series, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won best comedy series, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” won best TV variety series, “Black Mirror” for long-form TV, “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” for nonfiction television, “Sesame Street” for children’s program and “Carpool Karaoke” for best short-form program.

The pre-announced honorees stole most of the show, however.

Norman Lear presented the Stanley Kramer Award to Peele invoking the award’s namesake in speaking of “Get Out,” which Lear proudly said he’s seen three times.

Peele said he was proud to call Lear a friend.

“I want to say, you can use my body for your brain anytime,” Peele laughed, before taking a more serious turn in his speech.

Peele likened the idea of “the sunken place” in the film to what is happening in the world right now, referencing Haiti, the water crisis in Flint, and President Donald Trump’s criticisms of athletes for protesting on the field.

“What really scares me…is the silencing of voices,” Peele said “‘Get Out’ is my protest against that.”

Peele ended on a hopeful note, however.

“Finally unique voices are breaking through,” he said. “Diverse and honest storytelling opens eyes and hearts. We can break out of the sunken place together.”

“Selma” and “A Wrinkle in Time” director Ava DuVernay gave a similarly poignant speech in accepting the Visionary Award,

“It’s an odd moment, you have a women’s march and you have a country with a government shut down,” DuVernay said. “We’re in the midst of times that will be long remembered.”

DuVernay said what is important is, “The way we work. The people we actually choose to see. That we choose to amplify in the moments where no one is looking.”

“Don’t think of diversity as a good thing to do,” she added. “Think of it as a must. An absolute must.”

Like many awards shows in the midst of Me Too and Time’s Up, even the men accepting awards devoted large portions of their time on stage to talk about extraordinary women in their lives.

“Wonder Woman” producer Charles Roven used his David O. Selznick Achievement Award acceptance speech to call out powerful women he’s worked with, from his late wife Dawn Steel, to Langley, Sue Kroll, Amy Pascal and Jenkins, who he said “has reignited this industry.”

“Glee” creator Ryan Murphy, who got the Norman Lear Achievement Award, said, “Women were always my champions and mentors for 20 years now and I believe that’s because they deeply related to my struggle — what it’s like to be an outsider.” He has taken steps to ensure that women occupy at least half of the directing spots in his productions.

In the larger context of awards season “The Shape of Water’s” win Saturday surprised some who expected “Three Billboards” to continue its ascendancy after the Globes. “The Shape of Water” is also up for two Screen Actors Guild Awards, which will be announced Sunday.

The Producers Guild’s choice for top film has eight times in the last 10 years matched the eventual Academy Award best picture winner. Last year, its nominees predicted all 9 best picture nominees, although the PGA went to “La La Land” which lost out to “Moonlight” at the Academy Awards.

Oscar nominations will be announced Tuesday in advance of the ceremony on March 4.

___

For full coverage of awards season, visit: https://apnews.com/tag/AwardsSeason

 

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‘Black Panther’ blows away box office with $192M weekend

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NEW YORK (AP) — A wave of feverish anticipation, fawning critical acclaim and groundbreaking cultural meaning pushed “Black Panther” to a record-setting $192 million debut in U.S. and Canada theaters, firmly establishing the superhero sensation as a box-office landmark.

The Marvel film from the Walt Disney Co. blew past expectations to become the fifth-highest-grossing debut ever, not adjusting for inflation, following only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” ″Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” ″Jurassic World” and “The Avengers.”

In estimates Sunday, Disney predicted a four-day holiday weekend of $218 million domestically and a global debut of $361 million.

Though the film’s international footprint doesn’t include several of the largest markets — China, Russia and Japan — it still ranks among the top 15 global debuts ever. It’s also the highest-grossing February opening weekend.

“All hail the King of Wakanda!” Disney declared, referring to the movie’s mythical and highly advanced African nation.

Ryan Coogler’s film, which cost about $200 million to make, is the most expensive movie with a largely black ensemble and among the few to be centered on a black superhero. The strong opening suggests “Black Panther” will easily set a box-office record for films directed by a black filmmaker.

The previous best is Sidney Poitier’s 1980 comedy “Stir Crazy,” which took in $322 million domestically, when inflation is calculated.

“Black Panther” set pre-sale records and saw lines around theaters over the weekend, including some who came costumed for the event.

“This is the very definition of a blockbuster: People lining up around the block to see a great movie,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “A movie like ‘Black Panther’ is a cultural event that nothing on the small screen can really match in that way.”

Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa/Black Panther in the first stand-alone film for the superhero created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966. The cast also features Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright.

The movie has been hugely acclaimed, with a 97 percent fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences agreed, giving it an A-plus CinemaScore. The film especially resonated among African-Americans, who made up 37 percent of moviegoers, according to comScore.

Dave Hollis, distribution chief for Disney, called the film’s success “a real source of pride” for Disney.

“Inclusion and representation matters,” Hollis said. “We know that great stories can come from anywhere, and our goal is to make films that reflect the wonderful diversity of our world and resonate with audiences everywhere — no matter who they are, no matter where they come from.”

Coming at one of the slower periods of the year, “Black Panther” benefited from little competition, and it can be expected to dominate the marketplace for weeks.

Last week’s top film, the erotic romance sequel “Fifty Shades Freed,” slid to third place, with $16.9 million in its second week for Universal. Sony’s children’s book adaptation “Peter Rabbit” held much stronger, taking the No. 2 spot with $17.3 million in its second week.

But moviegoers — and Hollywood — were focused on “Black Panther,” including how it would fare overseas. Though considered by most to be an outdated myth, some have claimed that foreign audiences have less appetite for films with largely black casts.

“Black Panther” vanquished those notions with $169 million in ticket sales. It was No. 1 in most international markets, though “Fifty Shades Freed” bested it in Germany.

Its release in China will come later. This weekend, the Chinese New Year holiday, local productions led by “Detective Chinatown 2” and “Monster Hunt 2″ dominated Chinese theaters, with more than $140 million in ticket sales each.

“Black Panther” also performed especially well on large-format screens. Imax reported $30 million in ticket sales for the three-day weekend.

“There was a groundswell of wanting this movie to work, and then when it actually did as a film, itself, it just kicked it up a notch to a level no one could have ever predicted,” said Greg Foster, Imax Entertainment’s chief executive. “That makes me feel really good about the movie business.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday also are included. Final four-day domestic figures will be released Tuesday.

1. “Black Panther,” $192 million ($169 million international).

2. “Peter Rabbit,” $17.3 million.

3. “Fifty Shades Freed,” $16.9 million ($47.7 million international).

4. “Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle,” $7.9 million ($4.8 million international).

5. “The 15:17 to Paris,” $7.7 million ($2.8 million international).

6. “The Greatest Showman,” $5.1 million ($9.6 million international).

7. “Early Man,” $3.2 million ($3.7 million international).

8. “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” $2.5 million ($11 million international).

9. “Winchester,” $2.2 million.

10. “Samson,” $2 million.

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. “Black Panther,” $169 million.

2. “Detective Chinatown 2,” $155 million.

3. “Monster Hunt 2,” $141 million.

4. “Operation Red Sea,” $70.3 million.

5. “The Monkey King 3: Kingdom of Women,” $52.3 million.

6. “Fifty Shades Freed,” $47.7 million.

7. “Boonie Bears: The Big Shrink,” $32.6 million.

8. “The Shape of Water,” $12.3 million.

9. “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” $11 million.

10. “The Greatest Showman,” $9.6 million.

___

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Grammys defends itself about women representation

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By MESFIN FEKADU

NEW YORK (AP) — After a few missteps, The Recording Academy is reassuring its members that it is not lagging behind the music industry when it comes to female representation.

In a letter sent to voting and non-voting members Thursday, which was obtained by The Associated Press, the academy offers statistics to show that women had a larger presence at the Grammy Awards compared to the industry standard.

The letter to academy members comes weeks after a University of Southern California- Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism study analyzed gender and race in music over the last six years, including Grammy nominees.

Between 2012 and 2017, USC said 90.7 percent of the nominees were male and 9.3 percent were female. The numbers come from five awards: album of the year, record of the year, song of the year, best new artist, and non-classical producer of the year — an award where female nominees is a rarity.

However, in looking at the same six years at all of 84 Grammy categories, the academy said that 17 percent of its nominees were women.

USC’s study reports that women account for 22.4 percent of performers, 12.3 percent of songwriters and 2 percent of producers. Women make up 21 percent of the academy’s voting membership.

The academy was heavily criticized last month when its CEO Neil Portnow said women need to “step up” when asked about the lack of female winners at the 2018 Grammys. Portnow later said his words were taken out of context, though three separate letters from music executives demanded a revamp at the academy.

The Grammys telecast was also under fire for not letting Lorde, the only woman nominated for album of the year, perform at its 60th show last month.

“The gender composition of our membership and nominations reflect that of the music community. But it’s not enough to reflect the community. We must be leaders in moving our industry toward greater inclusion and representation,” the letter reads. “Women are 50 percent of our world. We need their voice and presence at every level.”

 

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Onslow County magistrate raises HELL at Jacksonville’s “Jazz In The City”

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Welp! One Onslow County magistrate had a little too much fun tonight at “Jazz In The City” when he attempted to use his Power Ranger powers to keep independent journalists from covering the event.

Onslow County Magistrate, Jacob Evans, who is also an, alleged, dirty old drunk and not worthy to take a dog to the dog pound let alone be in a high profile position such as magistrate, attempted to stop News In Onslow’s Gerald Jackson and The Onslow Beat’s Melissa Oakley, from covering the successful event Saturday night.

Evans, who is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. insisted that both organizations mentioned above were not “recognized” as news organizations and that Jackson and Oakley were not real journalists. Interrupting Evans, Jackson and Oakley provided their media credentials which he outright denied to verify. Apparently, he expected them to have more “evidence” than themselves and their press credentials in order to prove that they are indeed real journalists.

Jacob Evans

Earlier Saturday, News in Onslow’s Gerald Jackson spoke with Wilbert Cain who was listed as a contact for the “Jazz In The City” event. During the conversation, Jackson expressed News In Onslow’s interest in covering the event and he assured that they would be welcome. Mr. Cain also agreed to allow Jackson to invite another independent news organization, The Onslow Beat, to cover the event. When Jackson and Oakley arrived at the Hilton in Jacksonville where the event was held, they were greeted with a much different story by a man whose only job was to sit and bark if he saw something. And boy did he see something tonight!

Evans, with a much too loud voice for a public venue, continued to deny the journalists access to the event. Cain then told Evans, that he had spoken to Mr. Jackson earlier and informed him that he and his colleague were to be allowed entrance into the event. 15 minutes later, Oakley and Jackson were told that the “other guys” didn’t feel safe with us being at the event and they were then asked to leave. Since both independent news organizations are professional and did not want to cause a scene, unlike Mr. Loud and Drunk Evans, they agreed to leave the event but were stopped at the door yet again. Evans continued to clamor on that they were not “recognized” but that it was ultimately up to Cain if he wanted to allow them in or not.

Evans later mentioned that he has never seen Ms. Oakley at the courthouse and that Mr. Jackson was not allowed in Onslow County’s Courthouses.

How do you know so much about where someone is allowed or not or if they have been somewhere or not when all you do is sit behind a glass all day failing people?

Later in the conversation, Jackson and Oakley were verified to be “recognized” people and were allowed in the event but chose to leave for their safety.

Gerald Jackson captured part of the incident which will be posted to go along with this article.

The question that News in Onslow, as well as The Onslow Beat and their readers, would like to know is who are these alleged “other guys” that felt unsafe because of Jackson and Oakley’s presence?

Our team here at the News in Onslow have a feeling that Mr. Jackson was denied entrance due to the fact that he does not shy away from giving his readers the truth regardless of what or whom it may be about!

 

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