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Frontline’s “Losing Iraq” is, in essence, the foreign-policy companion to the PBS news program’s recent domestic-surveillance treatise “United States of Secrets,” offering an evenhanded approach to a topic where reason is often drowned out elsewhere by partisan rhetoric. Both documentaries, moreover — and this one again falls under the aegis of Michael Kirk — don’t point fingers so much as apportion responsibility, detailing the Bush administration screw-ups that created the mess in Iraq, followed by the Obama administration’s neglect, which congealed to create the current mess. What the 90-minute telecast doesn’t offer, alas, is what’s desperately needed: A viable solution.
Interviewing a who’s who of participants and journalists, “Losing Iraq” spends considerable time on the early miscalculations and missteps once the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled, highlighted by what journalist Thomas Ricks dubbed President Bush’s “a premature victory speech” in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner. »
- Brian Lowry
PBS and CBS lapped the field with nominations for the 35th annual News and Documentary Awards.
PBS led with 43 bids, driven by 11 for “Frontline.” CBS was a close second with 42, powered by 27 bids for “60 Minutes.” ABC took in 19, led by 10 for “Nightline.”
Last year’s tornadoes in Oklahoma and typhoon in the Philippines drove the nominations in the category of breaking news coverage in a regularly scheduled newscast. The contenders are BBC World News America, for Philippines coverage, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “World News With Diane Sawyer” and “Nightline” for combined coverage of Oklahoma, and two bids for “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams,” for both Oklahoma and Philippines coverage.
William Small, former CBS News Washington bureau chief and former prexy of NBC News, will receive the org’s lifetime achievement award. Awards will be presented Sept. 30 at Gotham’s Frederick P. Rose Hall.
Click here for a complete list of nominations. »
- Variety Staff
When a slot suddenly opens up in the schedule of mega star Will Smith, it is pretty big news in Tinseltown. Now that the actor has exited Julius Onah’s Brilliance, his schedule window may soon be filled with the upcoming, untitled drama being produced by Ridley Scott – exploring the issue of brain trauma in American Football.
It all starts with Sony, who have the rights to a GQ article titled ‘Brain Game,’ written by Jeanne Marie Laskas. Passionate about the subject, Ridley Scott originally intended to direct the film, but will now stick to producing it, with Peter Landesman (Parkland) attached as writer and director. Scott has been developing the project along with his producing partner, Giannina Facio, and with Landesman having completed the script, cameras look set to roll before the end of the year.
Intended as a ‘whistleblower’ type of story, the project follows Dr. Bennet Omalu »
- Sarah Myles
Will Smith may be tackling a hot-button issue with his next film. Less than a week after exiting the Legendary sci-fi film "Brilliance" that was to co-star "Prometheus" actress Noomi Rapace, the actor is reportedly circling Ridley Scott's untitled football concussion movie inspired by the GQ article "Game Brain" by Jeanne Marie Laskas. Scott was once looking to direct the Sony film before handing the reins over to Peter Landesman ("Parkland"), who also penned the script. Published in 2009, "Game Brain" focused on the mounting scientific evidence that concussions suffered by players on the gridiron could result in severe brain trauma leading to chronic depression, memory loss and suicide. According to Deadline, Smith would play the role of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who in 2002 discovered a degenerative condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (Cte) in the brains of several recently-deceased NFL players - a condition later »
- Chris Eggertsen
Tom Brokaw spent more than 20 years in a pitched three-way battle as anchor of the “NBC Nightly News.” Yet his greatest legacy, frankly, might be how classily he has defined what the transition to emeritus status can look like.
Since gracefully handing the anchor reins to Brian Williams in 2004, Brokaw has remained a welcome presence on NBC, but has branched out beyond that — writing books devoted to “The Greatest Generation,” a demographic TV hardly chases; and hosting documentaries for various channels.
Networks always talk about keeping such personalities in the family, but it rarely happens. Brokaw’s last act elegantly bucks that trend.
What: Peabody Awards
When: 11 a.m. reception; 12:30 p.m. luncheon & ceremony, May 19
Where: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York
2014 Peabody Award Winners
Personal Award: Tom Brokaw
- Brian Lowry
Methodical and comprehensive, “Frontline’s” documentary “The United States of Secrets” offers a blow-by-blow account of the Bush administration’s embrace of potentially illegal spying/eavesdropping techniques, President Obama’s decision to continue them (despite campaign promises to the contrary) and, most compellingly, those who sought to blow the whistle on government overreach, culminating with Edward Snowden’s unprecedented dump of classified documents. If the two-part project breaks little new ground, it’s an utterly thorough primer on what transpired that almost plays like a John Le Carre thriller, with remarkably candid interviews from participants on all sides.
As producer Michael Kirk makes clear, the White House — and Vice President Dick Cheney in particular — felt that all tools must be available to prevent a replay of the Sept. 11 attacks. That meant stretching the parameters of what was permissible, justifying the techniques via what former Dept. of Justice official Jack Goldsmith »
- Brian Lowry
Coming on the heels of the shakeup in the upper ranks at National Geographic Channels comes word of expanded roles for three top Nat Geo execs, Brooke Runnette, Declan Moore and Chris Johns. In her new role, Nat Geo TV President Runnette will take on expanded production responsibilities, overseeing all video, television and film production for the Society, from short form to giant screen, working closely with Moore and Johns, CEO and President Gary Knell announced today. Johns will oversee the print and digital expression of National Geographic’s editorial content across platforms. He will be responsible for National Geographic magazine, News, Books, Traveler magazine, Maps and all digital content with the exception of National Geographic Kids. Johns will continue to report to Moore, who has been named chief media officer for the Society. As part of the reorganizion, Susan Goldberg, Executive Editor of News and Features, has been promoted »
- THE DEADLINE TEAM
Documentaries are prone to exposing surprising truths, which makes Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein's film "An Honest Liar" all the more complex given the nature of its subject: the art of deception. Measom and Weinstein chronicle the life of famed magician James "The Amazing" Randi and his attempt to expose the numerous frauds who use their tricks to con people out of money, which ultimately proves to be quite the trick itself. Tell us about yourself. Tyler Measom: I am but a humble chimney sweep and documentary filmmaker laboring to put bread on the table. "An Honest Liar" is my third feature to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. The others: "Take" (2008) starring Minnie Driver and Jeremy Renner and the documentary "Sons of Perdition" (2010). I live and work under the shade of a large oak tree in the lovely town of Salt Lake City. And no, I'm not a Mormon. »
- Ziyad Saadi
I learned at least six things from the "Transcendence" Panel at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention that you won’t likely learn in the mainstream press. At Nab, it makes sense that a panel with the beloved Wally Pfister, Asc (Christopher Nolan’s go-to cinematographer except for the upcoming "Interstellar") would be tech-heavy. Joined by his Dp-du-jour Jess Hall, Bsc and close to 300 eager fans, the pair discussed with Icg Magazine editor-in-chief David Geffner what it was like on set, shooting on film, and where technology – the overarching subject matter of "Transcendence" – has, can and will take us. What may interest you beyond the general Bts talk is below. You probably didn’t know that… Pfister began in news. His father was a network news producer. Pfister covered the White House and Congress back in the 1980s, and worked as a documentary photographer for Frontline. He met Robert Altman »
- Valentina Valentini
The University of Georgia’s 73rd Annual Peabody Awards set a record with 46 recipients, which were announced today on CBS This Morning. The winners, chosen from nearly 1,100 entries, were selected by the Peabody board to be named the “best in electronic media for 2013.”
Recipients range from local news to international coverage, also including entertainment series, documentaries, web-based winners and more. A complete list of the winners is below:
180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School (PBS)
Best Kept Secret (PBS)
- Samantha Highfill
This year’s Peabody Award winners are a typically eclectic list ranging from hits such as ABC’s “Scandal” and AMC’s “Breaking Bad” to Netflix’s groundbreaking drama “House of Cards” to BBC America’s buzzworthy “Orphan Black.”
Among the scripted series selections were FX’s “The Bridge” was recognized for its focus on border and immigration issues in the context of a murder-mystery drama; Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black”; the French zombie drama “The Returned” (which aired on SundanceTV with subtitles); the BBC America mini “Broadchurch” (now being remade for Fox); and Comedy Central’s sketch series “Key & Peele.”
The lone unscripted series getting the nod was CNN’s culinary travelogue “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.” Feature docs on the list include HBO’s “Six by Sondheim” and TCM’s “The Story of Film” and Alex Gibney’s latest for HBO, “Maximum Mea Culpa: Silence in the House of God. »
- Cynthia Littleton
Universal recently moved Baltasar Kormakur's Everest from an early 2015 release to September 18, 2015 and only days later the cast has grown by two, those being Sam Worthington and Robin Wright. The pair join a large ensemble that includes Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Jake Gyllenhaal, Martin Henderson, Emily Watson, Naoko Mori and Michael Kelly. Based on a true story, the film follows two different expeditions as they attempt to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain, challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Worthington will play Guy Cotter, a climbing partner of Rob Hall (Clarke), who was guiding an Adventure Consultants team on neighboring Pumori, from where on the night of May 10 he was in radio contact with Hall, who was still high up on Everest. Wright will play Peach Weathers, wife to Buck Weathers (Brolin). Frontline covered the events depicted in »
- Brad Brevet
Zap2it: Per the investigation for the documentary, what appear to be the top reasons Benedict XVI chose to resign the papacy?
Antony Thomas: I think Pope Benedict was speaking absolutely truthfully in his own statement, when he was talking about his age and his physical weakness. I think that's genuine. But I do think that VatiLeaks, and everything that happened in 2012, had a terrible impact on him. The year 2012 was a devastating annus horribilis for him.
Zap2it: Was the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as much of a surprise as it seemed to non-Vaticanistas?
Thomas: There are some wonderful statements from people who were actually standing in the square that night--they had never heard of him and were all Googling to find out who he was! »
Lily Rabe has joined the ABC alien pilot The Visitors, playing an FBI investigator who focuses on children and realizes a that there’s something sinister about a variety of children who all have the same imaginary friend. Does this mean we’re going to have to give up Rabe’s performances on American Horror Story? I’m not sure if I can accept that.
Looking‘s Murray Bartlett talked with Vulture, which included an origin of his Looking character’s mustache. “I grew it while I was in Egypt because I looked so much like a tourist and I wanted to try and fit in and a lot of people had mustaches there. »
- Lyle Masaki
Pope Benedict XVI’s unprecedented retirement and subsequent enthusiasm surrounding Pope Francis has certainly stoked interest in the Catholic Church, an organization (with apologies to Dan Brown’s readers) that remains shrouded in mystery. Yet PBS’ “Frontline” provides the documentary version of a page-turner with “Secrets of the Vatican,” a look at scandals that may have led to Benedict’s departure and could provide formidable challenges to Francis’ reform attempts. For all the coverage pertaining to pedophile priests, writer-producer-director Antony Thomas unearths fresh material, painting a portrait of an institution that still mightily endeavors to keep its secrets buried.
Because so much has been done about the clergy abuse story – including HBO’s stomach-turning “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” from filmmaker Alex Gibney — one might think there’s relatively little new to say. Yet Thomas’ multi-pronged report covers not just sexual abuse and the manner in »
- Brian Lowry
• Kevin Hart and Ice Cube will reprise their roles in the just-announced sequel to Ride Along. Tim Story will also return to direct the film for Universal with Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi penning the script. The $25 million buddy comedy scored an A CinemaScore, broke January box office records, stayed in the top spot for three weekends in a row, and has already passed the coveted $100 million mark (its domestic total is currently resting at $116 million). They could start shooting the sequel as early as this summer. [Variety]
- Lindsey Bahr
Technology moves so fast these days that what seemed normal for one group of teens can become obsolete for their younger brothers and sisters, let alone their children.
Once upon a time, the young wanted to be seen as rebelling against "The Man," separating themselves from the mainstream, even if that separation was largely illusory.
On Tuesday, Feb. 18 (check local listings), Rushkoff's latest "Frontline" report, "Generation Like," shows that no luring is needed anymore.
Producer/writer Frank Koughan tells Zap2it, "The kids all kind of get how this stuff works and are willing participants in it and have a level of sophistication and understanding that actually was quite surprising to me. Yet when you brought up a concept like 'selling out' ... the blank »
Fretting about social media corrupting youth these days risks sounding like an earlier generation of parents wringing their hands over Elvis and the Beatles. Yet “Frontline” has found a way into the conversation by delving into the insidious way corporate marketers — including Hollywood — have insinuated themselves into the process, turning enthusiastic fans into co-opted marketing minions. “Generation Like” is a fascinating look into a world where Retweets, Likes and other online endorsements have become social currency, spawning a new breed of consultants unabashedly seeking to take the risk out of public opinion.
That the younger cohort has an evolving relationship with technology — and ostensibly fewer compunctions about privacy — hardly comes as a news flash. Still, picking up where he left off more than a decade ago in “Merchants of Cool,” correspondent Douglas Rushkoff finds several interesting points of entry into this multipronged topic, from the obsession with celebrity to the »
- Brian Lowry
First stop, the Annie Awards which honor excellence in the animated world. And the winners are:
Best Animated Feature:
Frozen, Walt Disney Animation Studios
Annie Award for Best Animated Special Production:
Chipotle Scarecrow, Chipotle Creative Department, Moonbot Studios
Best Animated Short Subject:
Get A Horse!,Walt Disney Animation Studios
Best Animated TV/Broadcast Commercial:
Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Preschool Children:
Disney Sofia the First - Disney Television Animation
Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Children.s Audience:
Adventure Time, Cartoon Network Studios
Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production:
Best Animated Video Game:
The Last of Us, Naughty Dog
Best Student Film
Animated Effects in an Animated Production:
Animated Effects in a Live Action Production:
Protagonist Pictures is to launch international sales at the Efm this week on Angus Macqueen and Guillermo Galdos’ feature documentary The Legend Of Shorty, which will have its world premiere in the Documentary Spotlight section at SXSW on March 7.
Submarine is co-repping the film for North America with Protagonist.
Produced by the double Oscar-winning Simon Chinn (Searching For Sugar Man, Man On Wire) and Andrew Mackenzie-Betty (Thriller in Manila), the film focuses on ‘El Chapo’, aka Joaquin Guzman, the most powerful drug lord in history and one of the world’s most wanted men.
Macqueen and Galdos set out on a perilous journey into the Mexican sierra and the heart of ‘Shorty’s’ forbidden lands to try to find him.
Currently in post production, the film is produced by Red Box Films, Twofour and Ronachan »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Rosser)
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