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Judge: Kevin Spacey must pay $30M to ‘House of Cards’ makers

Judge: Kevin Spacey must pay $30M to ‘House of Cards’ makers

A judge on Thursday ruled that Kevin Spacey and his production companies must pay the makers of “House of Cards” nearly $31 million because of losses brought on by his 2017 firing for the sexual harassment of crew members.

The ruling from Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mel Red Recana gives the force of law to the $30.9 award in favor of MRC and other companies that produced the Netflix series by a private arbitrator who heard the case against Spacey.

Recana wrote that Spacey and his attorneys “fail to demonstrate that this is even a close case” and “do not demonstrate that the damages award was so utterly irrational that it amounts to an arbitrary remaking of the parties’ contracts.”

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling,” MRC attorney Michael Kump said in an email to The Associated Press.

Spacey has denied the allegations through his attorneys and his spokesperson, who did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

The arbitrator found that Spacey violated his contract’s demands for professional behavior by “engaging certain conduct in connection with several crew members in each of the five seasons that he starred in and executive produced House of Cards,” according to a filing from Kump requesting the approval.

As a result, MRC had to fire Spacey, halt production of the show’s sixth season, rewrite it to remove Spacey’s central character, and shorten it from 13 to eight episodes to meet deadlines, resulting in tens of millions in losses, according to court documents.

Spacey’s attorneys argued in their own filings that the decision to exclude him from the show’s sixth season came before the internal investigation that led the crew members to come forward, and thus was not part of a contract breach. They argued that the actor’s actions were not a substantial factor in the show’s losses.

The ruling from the private arbitrator came after a legal fight of more than three years and an eight-day evidentiary hearing that was kept secret from the public, along with the rest of the dispute, until a panel of three more private arbitrators rejected Spacey’s appeal and upheld the decision in November.

The 63-year-old Oscar winner’s career came to an abrupt halt late in 2017 as the #MeToo movement gained momentum and allegations against him emerged from several places.

Spacey was fired or removed from projects, most notably “House of Cards,” the Netflix political thriller where for five seasons he played lead character Frank Underwood, a power-hungry congressman who becomes president.

Last month, Spacey pleaded not guilty in London to charges of sexually assaulting three men a decade or more ago, when he was director of the Old Vic theater there. His lawyer said he “strenuously denies” the allegations. He is set to face trial next year.

Another criminal case brought against him, an indecent assault and battery charge stemming from the alleged groping of an 18-year-old man at a Nantucket resort, was dismissed by Massachusetts prosecutors in 2019.

Spacey also faces lawsuits from other men, including actor Anthony Rapp

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Disney overtakes Netflix in battle for subscribers

Disney overtakes Netflix in battle for subscribers

That put it just ahead of Netflix, which has been losing customers.

But Disney warned that its loss of streaming rights for cricket in India would reduce its subscriber growth compared to previous forecasts.

The firm, which also owns adult television streaming platform Hulu and the sports-focused ESPN+, said demand for its Disney+ product remained strong.

Pandemic lockdowns provided a boost to streaming services like Disney, but the easing of Covid restrictions doesn’t seem to be preventing it attracting new customers.

The company added 14.4 million Disney+ subscribers in the quarter, many of them outside of the US – far more than analysts had expected.

Later this year it will launch a new ad-funded service, which will still be charged at the current subscription rate of $7.99. The charge for the ad-free service will rise to $10.99 per month.

The firm plans to launch its ad-funded service outside the US next year.

Executives said they do not expect the rise in prices to put off customers over the long term. The firm is also seeing strong interest from companies hoping to advertise on the new service, they said.

“We are in a position of strength with record upfront advertising commitment,” chief executive Bob Chapek told analysts in a conference call to discuss the firm’s financial results.

Disney’s subscriber gains have come at a hefty cost, with its streaming business losing $1.1bn in the quarter.

Executives said they expect losses to peak this year, In the meantime, a strong rebound in attendance at its theme parks since the worst of the pandemic has provided the firm with a large financial cushion.

Total revenues in the April-June period jumped 26% from last year, pushing profits to $1.5bn.

Shares in the company jumped more than 6% in after-hours trade after the firm shared its results.

Paolo Pescatore, analyst at PP Foresight, called it a “pivotal moment in the streaming wars” saying Disney had more room to grow than arch-rival Netflix.

Netflix lost nearly one million accounts in the most recent quarter, putting its subscriber total at 220.67 million.

“[The results] firmly underline my belief that Disney is at a different phase of growth to Netflix,” said Mr Pescatore. “There are still millions of users to acquire as it continues to expand into new markets and rolls out new blockbuster shows.”

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New York Film Festival sets lineup for 60th edition

New York Film Festival sets lineup for 60th edition

The New York Film Festival will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a robust 32-film main slate and a number of hometown tales, including James Gray’s Queens coming-of-age drama “Armageddon Time” and Laura Poitras’ documentary “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” about artist Nan Goldin’s battle against the Sackler family.

Film at Lincoln Center, which puts on the annual festival, announced this year’s lineup Tuesday. The gala screenings are notably New York-centric, beginning with the previously announced opening night film, from longtime New Yorker and New York Film Festival regular Noah Baumbach. He’ll debut his Don DeLillo adaption “White Noise” shortly after it also opens the Venice Film Festival.

The festival’s centerpiece will be “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” in which the “Citizenfour” filmmaker chronicles Goldin’s fight to stem the opioid crisis and the pharmaceutical companies that benefitted from it.

Elegance Bratton, who drew from his own experiences in his documentary about homeless queer and transgender young people in New York in his documentary “Pier Kids,” will close out the festival with his semi-autobiographical fiction film “The Inspection,” starring Jeremy Pope as a gay man in Marine Corps basic training.

Gray’s “Armageddon Time” will screen as part of the festival’s 60th anniversary celebration. The film, which premiered in May at the Cannes Film Festival, draws from Gray’s own childhood in 1980s Queens. It co-stars Anthony Hopkins, Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway.

Other entries include Todd Field’s anticipated “TÁR,” starring Cate Blanchett as a world-renown composer; Paul Schrader’s “Master Gardner,” starring Joel Edgerton as a horticulturist; Joanna Hogg’s “The Eternal Daughter,” with Tilda Swinton; master documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s “A Couple,” a monologue drama based on the letters of Leo Tolstoy and wife Countess Sophia Behrs.

Several standouts from this year’s Cannes will play at the festival including Charlotte Wells’ feature debut “Aftersun”; Park Chan-wook’s “Decision to Leave”; Mia Hansen-Løve’s “One Fine Morning”; Kelly Reichardt’s “Showing Up”; Cristian Mungiu’s “R.M.N.”; and Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or-winner “Triangle of Sadness.”

Also among New York’s selections is the latest from Iranian director Jafar Panahi, “No Bears.” In July, Panahi, one of Iran’s leading filmmakers, was sent to prison for a six-year sentence related to a 2011 charge of producing antigovernment propaganda. His imprisonment has been widely decried internationally and in the film community.

The New York Film Festival runs Sept. 30-Oct. 16. Along with premieres at Lincoln Center, the festival will host screenings throughout New York’s five boroughs, at Staten Island’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema; Brooklyn Academy of Music; the Bronx Museum of the Arts; the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens; and the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem.

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Nicki Minaj to get Video Vanguard Award at MTV Awards

Nicki Minaj to get Video Vanguard Award at MTV Awards

Nicki Minaj will receive the Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Awards later this month, joining such previous winning music luminaries as Madonna, Janet Jackson, LL Cool J, Jennifer Lopez and Missy Elliott.

Minaj, who has won five MTV trophies for such hits as “Anaconda,” “Chun-Li” and “Hot Girl Summer,” will get the award and perform at the ceremony on Aug. 28 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

“Nicki has broken barriers for women in hip-hop with her versatility and creative artistry,” said Bruce Gillmer, chief content officer of music at Paramount+ and president of music, music talent, programming and events at Paramount. “She has shifted the music industry and cemented her status as a global superstar with her crossover appeal, genre-defying style and continuing to be unapologetically ‘Nicki’.”

Jack Harlow, Lil Nas X and Kendrick Lamar are the top award contenders with seven nominations. Harlow, Lil Nas X, Drake, Bad Bunny, Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles and Lizzo will compete for artist of the year.

Styles and Doja Cat received the second-most nominations with six. Sheeran, Billie Eilish, Drake, Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and The Weeknd each pulled in five.

Madonna, who is the most awarded artist in MTV history with 20 wins, becomes the only artist to receive a nomination in each of the VMAs five decades. She earned her 69th nomination for her 14th studio album “Madame X.”

Also performing will be Anitta, J Balvin, Marshmello with Khalid and Panic! At The Disco. More acts will be announced soon.

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