January 19, 2019

R. Kelly’s Manager Surrenders on Threat Charge

Timothy Savage and his wife, Jonjelyn, who both appeared in the documentary, say that Joycelyn is among those women. But Kelly’s representatives say that the women who live and travel with him are doing so voluntarily, and that he has not abused any of them. Last year, TMZ released a video in which Joycelyn said she was happy living with Kelly and was there of her own volition.

“They were perfectly consensual relationships,” Kelly’s lawyer, Steven Greenberg, said last week.

Henry James Mason turned himself in on Friday.CreditHenry County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia

Timothy Savage said Mason’s call wasn’t the last time he was warned about speaking out against Kelly.

According to the Henry County police, another Kelly associate, Don Russell, sent Savage a text early in the morning on Jan. 3, the day the first episode of “Surviving R. Kelly” aired on Lifetime. Russell sent Savage the text message, at about 5 a.m., saying that “it would be best for him and the family if the documentary does not air,” according to a police report.

Savage called the police. While an officer was at the house, Russell called Savage, who put his phone on speaker so the officer could hear. Russell, the officer wrote in his report, accused Savage of giving Lifetime false information and told Savage that if he continued supporting the documentary, “that they (R. Kelly/Don) would be forced to provide information disproving Timothy” and that the information “would ruin him, his reputation, business and family, because it would show him a liar.”

The call was referred to investigators. Russell, who has not been charged with a crime, declined to comment about the call on Friday, and the police did not return calls seeking comment.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/18/arts/music/r-kelly-manager-arrest.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Leslie Moonves to Take CBS to Arbitration Over $120 Million Severance

CBS directors determined in December that Mr. Moonves had misled the company about multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and that he had tried to hide evidence in a frenzied attempt to save his legacy.

“His willful and material misfeasance, violation of company policies and breach of his employment contract” led to his dismissal, the board said at the time.

After discussing Mr. Moonves’s case over several days, the board reached its conclusion based on an investigation conducted by two outside law firms. Mr. Moonves “engaged in multiple acts of serious nonconsensual sexual misconduct in and outside of the workplace, both before and after he came to CBS in 1995,” according to a late November draft of the investigators’ report reviewed by The New York Times.

The board was unequivocal in firing Mr. Moonves. He has denied the allegations and said any sexual contact with the women was consensual.

CBS could settle with Mr. Moonves, but that could create a public-relations nightmare for a network that has undergone a companywide reckoning in the wake of the #MeToo movement. In addition to Mr. Moonves, Charlie Rose was fired from his roles at “CBS This Morning” and “60 Minutes” in 2017 after allegations of sexual misconduct. Days after Mr. Moonves left the network, Jeff Fager, the longtime executive producer of “60 Minutes,” was fired after he threatened a colleague who was asking about allegations of harassment against him. The network also paid a $9.5 million settlement to the actress Eliza Dushku after she claimed she had been written off the series “Bull” because she confronted Michael Weatherly, the show’s star, about harassing her on the set.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/business/media/les-moonves-cbs-arbitration.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

‘Fyre’ and ‘Fyre Fraud’ Reviews: Behind the Scenes of a Music Festival Fiasco

“Fyre” hurls the swindle at its center like a bowling ball. The movie, which Chris Smith directed, finds the players in and around a 2017 scheme to pull a music festival out of thin air: software programmers, marketing people, expert event planners, laborers, the bilked. They make it clear that Fyre probably never could have been a success, and even if you know the story of how it wasn’t, nothing stops you from rooting against it anyway. It was conceived in both bad faith and bad taste, as part of a collaboration between Billy McFarland, a 20-something con man from New Jersey, the beached middle-aged rapper Ja Rule, and a fleet of Instagram influencers.

[Read our inside account of the Fyre Festival.]

Hundreds of people bought tickets to a party on an island in the Bahamas promoted, fictionally, as once belonging to the drug lord and murderer Pablo Escobar. They were promised a luxe weekend and got soggy mattresses instead. Each movie consists of talking-head interviews. But the meat of Smith’s movie is the footage, handsome footage — of meetings, conference calls and promotional shoots; of what happened when all those kids sought food, water and a desperate exit.

You watch both movies in a kind of fascinated horror at how easy it was for McFarland to create a network of what appears to be unwitting co-conspirators to help him plan an experience that wound up losing $24 million. So many people mention how seductive and magnetic McFarland is that you also watch both movies expecting them to inspect his magnetism. To see him in Smith’s film, reveling in footage taken by other people — this chubby, gangly, awkward but not not handsome slouch who himself seems attracted to fame, power, wealth and sand — is to wonder whether those same people needed a magnet in their lives, especially one who could make them some money.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/16/movies/fyre-reviews.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Paramount Was Hollywood’s ‘Mountain.’ Now It’s a Molehill.

“I am big,” the delusional silent film star Norma Desmond insists in one famous moment. “It’s the pictures that got small.”

Paramount has endured boom and bust cycles before. In the 1960s the studio’s then-owner, the industrial conglomerate Gulf Western, very nearly sold a badly struggling Paramount for its real estate value. Talks began with a cemetery that borders the studio. More burial plots were envisioned.

That was when Paramount’s young production chief, Robert Evans, turned a macabre drama, “Rosemary’s Baby,” into a box office juggernaut. Another unexpected hit, the teary romance “Love Story,” arrived in 1970.

Mr. Evans went on to make the studio a showcase for culture-defining cinema, serving up “The Godfather,” “The Godfather II,” “Harold and Maude,” “Serpico,” “Chinatown” and “Urban Cowboy,” among others. Those movies inspired many of today’s top directors and film executives to pursue Hollywood careers — an entire generation of creativity reared on what Paramount produced.

A successor, Sherry Lansing, kept Paramount healthy until handing over the reins to Mr. Grey. Her tenure was marked by the Academy Award-winning hits “Forrest Gump,” “Braveheart” and “Titanic,” a co-production with Fox. The studio was so strong, in fact, that people in Hollywood referred to it by a nickname: “the Mountain,” a reference to its logo of a snow-capped peak encircled by stars.

So anything is possible. In the months ahead, Paramount is betting big on drugs, gay sex and rock ’n’ roll: “Rocketman,” a musical about Elton John’s turbulent life and career, arrives from the studio in May, one of Hollywood’s most competitive months. Mr. Gianopulos sees another potential success in Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man,” which will roll out in the fall and stars Will Smith as an aging hit man who must combat a clone of his younger self.

Generally boding well, Mr. Gianopulos has repaired crucial relationships with producers. Hasbro, a partner that had grown disenchanted, agreed to a five-year extension, for instance.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/business/media/paramount-pictures.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Iran State Television Says U.S. Is Holding One of Its Journalists

“The imprisonment of a reporter who is nonwhite and enters the U.S. demonstrates how the approach of Mr. Trump’s government is based on racist and discriminatory policies within an apartheid regime,” Mr. Qassemi told state television. “We hope that this innocent person is unconditionally released soon.”

Nader Talebzadeh, an Iranian writer and filmmaker who has worked with Ms. Hashemi, described her arrest as a “concocted plan by the Trump administration” to elicit a reaction from Iran. “This is intimidation and a provocation against Iran,” he said.

Ms. Hashemi was born Melanie Franklin in New Orleans and converted to Islam. She has long publicly supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution and is married to an Iranian. Ms. Hashemi is one of the main anchors at Press TV, which was established by Iran’s state television to spread the country’s message around the globe. It is a part of the Voice and Vision organization of Iran, a powerful state media organization that is widely seen as a tool of the country’s hard-line factions.

The station has featured interviews with Western analysts often critical of their own governments, and Ms. Hashemi has filed reports on discrimination against women, Muslims and African-Americans in the United States.

Press TV has found itself enmeshed in several controversies, including in 2010 when it broadcast a confession given under duress by Maziar Bahari, a Canadian-Iranian journalist who was arrested in 2009 while covering the Iranian elections for Newsweek. The British telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, fined Press TV 100,000 pounds and in 2012 revoked the station’s license, saying the station had failed to pay the fine and address issues of its independence.

In 2016, two executives at the station were suspended after a prominent newscaster said she had been sexually harassed by them for years.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/16/world/middleeast/iran-us-journalist-arrest.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

New York Magazine Names a New Editor as Adam Moss Departs

A protégé of Mr. Moss, Mr. Haskell is the sort of professionally omnivorous, type-A New Yorker who might merit a feature in his magazine’s pages.

He is a ceramist and sculptor, with gallery representation in TriBeCa. (His gallerist calls his work “an exploration of the natural world via wheel-thrown forms.”) He is a part-time whiskey maker who hosts barbecues at the distillery he co-founded in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He studied architectural history at Cambridge University after college at Yale, where he sang in the a cappella group the Whiffenpoofs.

Oh, and he works in magazines, too.

After cofounding Topic, a cult favorite print publication, in his early 20s, Mr. Haskell joined New York magazine in 2007. He edits much of the political coverage and later worked closely with Ms. Wasserstein on podcasts, book projects and a new shopping site, The Strategist.

In his new role, Mr. Haskell faces some uncertainty. Ms. Wasserstein, whose family owns New York Media, the magazine’s parent company, has spoken with potential financial partners, though no deal appears imminent. Recently, the staff formed a union and an online paywall was introduced.

“I don’t really know a time in magazine journalism that hasn’t been terrifying,” Mr. Haskell said. “That’s all I know. And in the midst of all of it, we have continued to put out work that has made me so proud.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/16/business/media/david-haskell-new-york-magazine-editor.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

YouTube Bans Risky Prank Videos Amid Spate of ‘Bird Box’ Challenge Stunts

When the Tide pod challenge went viral last year, Procter Gamble, the detergent’s maker, urged parents to keep their children from taking part. “The possible life-altering consequences of this act, seeking internet fame, can derail young people’s hopes and dreams and ultimately their health,” David Taylor, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement at the time.

Another of the challenges cited in YouTube’s revised guidelines, the so-called fire challenge, has resulted in children who attempted it being hospitalized.

Other popular pranks and challenges have been innocuous, humorous and even virtuous. The talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel has gotten laughs by challenging parents to give their children unimpressive presents and then record their reactions. Other examples have involved people dancing to Drake or flipping a bottle of water. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” raised awareness of, and money to fight, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

YouTube said it would continue to welcome such videos.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/16/business/youtube-bans-pranks.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Veterans of the News Business Are Now Fighting Fakes

He acknowledged that, for now, NewsGuard’s analysis lacked the distribution to have a major effect, but a Gallup survey funded by the Knight Foundation suggested that independent ratings can change how people consume news. Readers who participated in the poll were less likely to share headlines that were flagged as potentially misleading. (The Knight Foundation is also an investor in NewsGuard.)

NewsGuard has raised about $6 million at a valuation of around $20 million. Its biggest corporate backer is Publicis, an advertising holding company.

Both founders said they were surprised, at first, by the advertising industry’s interest in their project. “For them, it’s the whole problem of fake news being an issue for ‘brand safety,’” Mr. Brill said. “I hadn’t even heard that term until we looked out for investors.”

Last year, some advertisers fled YouTube after they noticed their messages were appearing alongside videos promoting terrorists. And while they haven’t abandoned Facebook, marketers are requesting more data to make sure their brands aren’t being associated with questionable content.

Facebook has become a flash point for the spread of false reports. To combat media pollution, the company has worked with fact checkers and has enlisted third-party groups, including The Associated Press, Snopes and PolitiFact, to make evaluations. Still, it can take up to three days for Facebook to verify content — which has little or no effect, in most cases, since articles go viral in minutes.

Facebook and other social networks have not signed on with NewsGuard, but Mr. Brill and Mr. Crovitz anticipate that some kind of ratings service will eventually be adopted across the web. And despite their positioning as a nutrition label for news, they said no one should interpret their work as an endorsement for some kind of media equivalent to the Food and Drug Administration.

“We’d be very uncomfortable if the government were mandating anything with regard to news,” Mr. Crovitz said. “That would violate free speech values. You have the First Amendment.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/16/business/media/media-steve-brill-fake-news.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

‘He’s the Best, He’s the Best, He’s the Best’

“He had published that terrific little sheet called 7 Days. It was terrific. It had a great sense of both service and a feel for the city. And that was exactly the sensibility we wanted. We brought him in to help advise us on various projects, we got to know him, and we hired him.”

“One of the things people don’t say enough about him is what a great teacher he is. He would suggest something completely impossible, and I would say, ‘Sure, Adam, I will do that completely impossible thing you have in mind, because I want you to be happy.’ He has a gift for setting the bar very, very high and making you work over the level you thought you were capable of. He invests so much time in the process that you feel you have to live up to that investment.”

“I’m happy for my friend, but I’m very sad for journalism, and I’m very sad especially for magazines, because I feel like it’s very much the end of something. He’s the best, he’s the best, he’s the best.”

“More than anything else, what Adam’s taught me — and I’m not sure he knows he taught me this — is how simple it should be to tell a story. It should be simple even if the story seems complicated. A few months ago, I was reporting on some palace intrigue in the West Wing, and Trump pulled me into the Oval Office to try to dissuade me from writing about it. Over the course of 20 minutes, we were joined by the vice president, the secretary of state and the president’s chief of staff. I was agonizing about how to explain in writing what had happened; I didn’t know where to even start. But Adam had the obvious answer: You just start where the story starts, and you tell it honestly, just as it happened and as you experienced it. Once I understood that, saw what he meant, it was easy.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/business/media/adam-moss-new-york-magazine-tributes.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

M. Night Shyamalan’s Biggest Twist? Coming Full Circle

Conventional wisdom then held that an original superhero story wouldn’t sell, and Shyamalan has said that Disney, which produced “Unbreakable,” encouraged him not to market it as a comic-book movie — an unthinkable strategy today. (A harbinger of the culture to come, “X-Men,” released that same year, grossed nearly 300 million.) “Unbreakable” made money, but it fell way short of “The Sixth Sense” and failed to resonate the way Shyamalan had hoped.

Still, his instincts were ultimately validated: Spandex went mainstream, and “Unbreakable,” always a critics’ favorite, amassed a loyal fan base over the years, not least with the Comic Con set. Then Shyamalan surprised fans with “Split”: a horror-thriller sequel starring James McAvoy that took in over $278 million on a $9 million budget. After a string of critical failures including “The Last Airbender,” “The Happening” and “After Earth,” there was talk of a comeback.

That momentum also put pressure on “Glass” — which with its $20 million budget and long script, Shyamalan said, was the toughest film he ever made. Calling from Europe, he talked about the film and offered insights on the “Unbreakable” universe, and on whether he would ever direct a “Star Wars” film. Following are edited excerpts from that conversation.

When you made “Unbreakable,” the market for superhero movies was nothing like it is today. What do you make of Hollywood’s being so welcoming of them now?

It makes sense. I was happy to be in front of that and say, “Hey, let’s make a comic book movie, a movie about comic books.” And everyone going: “That’s a very fringe market. That’s not a mainstream notion, and regular people don’t go to see those kinds of movies.” And now, it’s ubiquitous.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/movies/glass-m-night-shyamalan.html?partner=rss&emc=rss