Oscar Surprise: Oprah Gets the “Mo’Nique” Role in Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Premiere Precious LAMy friends, do you recall the fuss people made about MoNique when “Precious” first screened? By the time she finished torturing Gabby Sidibe, people were engraving her gold Oscar statue and trying to remember where the apostrophe went. Well, in Lee Daniels’
“The Butler,” which screened today for SAG and a smattering of press, I can tell you what happened: another woman known by one name caused the same stir.
I can’t review the movie yet because it’s still early– the it doesn’t open until August 16th. Chalk this up as an Oscar observation.
Her name is Oprah, although she will have the Winfrey name on her nominations certificate and maybe even that statue. This is what happens: Oprah, who really hasn’t acted since “The Color Purple” and “The Women of Brewster Place,” makes a startling return as the wife of White House butler Forest Whitaker. She plays Gloria Gaines, who I think is kind of a fictitious character inspired by the life of the real butler’s wife.
Oprah is simply off the charts mesmerizing as Gloria. It’s as if she’d been acting this whole time. (Some will say she has been, but I disagree.) Among the many powerful performances in this landmark movie, Winfrey jumps out because of her long absence from the screen. People in our showing–which was a very good cross-section of black and white, young and old– people were crying through this movie. And Oprah gets a scene stealing Oscar moment that is going to take her right into every awards show. If I had to bet now, I’d say she wins Best Supporting Actress. She’s that good.
And by the way, among the audience were none other than Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer. Mike gave the movie a hearty thumbs up on the way out. He wasn’t the only one.

Univision Set to Finish July Sweep In First Place In Demos

By THE DEADLINE TEAM | Monday July 22, 2013 @ 2:32pm PDT
Univision will finish the July 2013 sweep ratings derby at No. 1 in both the 18-49 and 18-34 demographic groups, beating all of the English-language broadcast networks – a sweep first for the Spanish-language network. During the sweep, Univision is delivering an average audience of nearly 3.6 million total viewers, 1.8 million Adults 18-49, 874,000 Adults 18-34, and 1.1 million Persons 12-34 in primetime. Those stats also put Univision in first place for the sweep among 12-34 year olds — with a 30 percent lead over nearest competitor,Fox. While fourth placed among viewers of all ages (ahead of Fox), Univision leaps to the top of the pack with 18-49-ers, who are the currency of most scripted entertainment programming ad sales. In that age bracket,  Univision will wrap the sweep 21 percent ahead of second place broadcaster, Fox.

Univision’s Los Angeles and New York stations are key to the win — the country’s No. 1 and 2 most watched in the country, respectively, during primetime among 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54, during the ratings derby.
Fueling those wins, Univision’s variety show Sabo Gigante (Giant Saturday) is up 16 percent in 18-49 year to year, and its highest rated primetime novella,Amores Verdaderos (True Love) outstrips first-run airings of many English-lanugage programs in key demos.
“Finishing the February sweep as the No. 4 network, ahead of NBC, made a major impact. Wrapping up July – during a time when other networks are investing more than ever in summer programming – as the No. 1 network among both Adults 18-49 and 18-34 for the first time, is making history,” said Univision CEO Randy Falco who, before joining the Univision, spent 30 years at NBC.
With a median age of 37 years old, Univision continues to deliver the youngest viewers during primetime among the top five broadcast networks. It’s winding up the sweep more than 17 years younger than the average of ABC (55), CBS (58), NBC (54) and FOX (47).

Why Did Facebook Block Kirk Cameron’s New Movie?

By Todd Starnes
It’s something of a social networking mystery.

Why did Facebook block Kirk Cameron’s upcoming faith-based movie, “Unstoppable”?
Cameron announced on his fan page Thursday that Facebook had blocked fans from posting any links to the website promoting his film because the content was labeled “abusive and unsafe.”

“We have been officially shut down by Facebook and unable to get any response from them,” Cameron wrote on his personal Facebook fan page. The film was made in partnership with Liberty University, the self-proclaimed largest Christian university in the world.

After Cameron alerted more than 500,000 Facebook fans of his predicament, the social networking site removed the block – without any explanation.

“This is a real victory,” he said, thanking his fans and supporters for reaching out to Facebook. “If we work together, we really do have a voice.”

“Unstoppable,” which is expected in theaters in the fall, aims to answer questions about suffering and recounts the personal experience of a Cameron friend whose son battled cancer.

“I would understand if there was something truly unsafe about my stuff,” Cameron told Fox News. “But I would encourage people to watch the trailer. Do you find anything offensive about faith, hope and love in the time of a tragedy?”

The film’s website does not contain any graphic photographs, video or profanity.
However, Cameron said he received a message from Facebook telling him the website’s content was labeled as “abuse” and “unsafe.”

“This is my most personal film about faith, hope and love and about why God allows bad things to happen to good people,” Cameron wrote. “What is ‘abusive’ or ‘unsafe’ about that?”

A Facebook media representative did not reply to an email seeking comment.

In recent months, the social networking website has come under criticism from conservatives and Christians who said their pages have been either blocked or banned because of “abusive” content.
Earlier this year, the “Chicks on the Right” Facebook page was shut down after they posted a message criticizing the White House. Facebook later apologized for that incident.

Cameron told Fox News he learned of the block several days ago when he tried to post a link to his website and Facebook denied the request. Thinking it was a mistake, he tried it again.

“My web technician along with Sony Provident Films were trying as well on their Facebook pages but nobody could post the website address for my film,” he said.

Cameron said they tried calling Facebook to find out why their content had been banned – but no one returned their calls. As a measure of last resort, he alerted more than 500,000 fans on his personal Facebook page.

“Whether Facebook did it internally or whether it was a group of people that labeled it abusive, somebody doesn’t like what I’m doing enough to make Facebook unwilling to let anyone post a link to my website,” he told Fox News.

Cameron, who achieved fame in the 1980s as the start of “Growing Pains,” is now a well-known Christian producer, actor and evangelist. He’s starred in a number of faith-based films including the “Left Behind” films and most recently, “Monumental,” a documentary about the nation’s founders and their biblical principles.

Michael Catt, the executive producer of Sherwood Pictures, called Cameron a stand-up guy. Cameron starred in Sherwood’s “Fireproof” film.

“I found him to be very kind and gracious to everyone on the set,” Catt told Fox News. “He also spoke in our church and was well received by our people.”

Hollywood facing summer crisis with multiple big budget flops

Hollywood is facing a summer crisis after an unprecedented series of films with budgets of more than $100 million flopped at the box office.

Analysts are predicting that R.I.P.D, starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds, will become the fourth such film in as many weeks to underperform.
The costliest failure so far has been The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp, which cost $250 million (£165 million) to make, and had a huge marketing budget. It was savaged by critics as a "bloated, unfunny, sometimes downright bizarre train wreck" amid a "summer of garbage blockbusters."
Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger (Rex Features)
Disney may have to write off up to $150 million losses on the movie, which was largely ignored by cinemagoers despite being released over the July 4 holiday weekend. It took in just $29 million that weekend in North America, losing out heavily to the animated comedy Despicable Me 2.
Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum in White House Down (Rex Features)
White House Down, starring Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum, took just $25 million on the June 28 weekend, while Pacific Rim, a story of alien monsters, while praised by many critics, still brought in only $38 million over the July 11 weekend. More people went to see the Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups 2.
Pacific Rim
R.I.P.D, a $130 million science fiction film about police officers fighting villains in the afterlife, is predicted to take in only around $20 million this weekend.
To be considered successful, blockbusters aim to take in about half their budget over the first weekend.
The movie is being released at the same time as Red 2, a tale of retired hitmen starring Bruce Willis and Dame Helen Mirren, which is expected to split the audience.
The series of big budget disappointments has come just a month after Steven Spielberg warned that Hollywood was facing a "meltdown" because of its over-reliance on blockbusters.
Speaking at the University of Southern California in June, Spielberg predicted "an implosion where three or four, or maybe even a half dozen, mega-budget movies are going to go crashing into the ground."
Analysts said the failures were partly a result of competing studios trying to release too many big movies at the same time. There are more than 20 films with a budget of more than $100 million being released this summer, six more than last year.
The studios have ploughed resources in to so-called "tent pole" films, which are accompanied by costly marketing, and are expected to make large profits. But, to do so, they all need to arrive in cinemas over the summer months.
Until late June, Hollywood had been on course for a record summer, following the success of early hits including Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness. and Fast & Furious 6.
However, as fatigue set in with audiences the movie industry entered what has been labelled the "dud zone," in which big releases have fared less impressively than lower budget productions. A slew of expensive films remain to be released in late July and August.
One exasperated studio head told The Hollywood Reporter: "You had too many $100 million-plus movies, not to mention $200 million-plus movies, jammed on top of each other. There isn't enough play time, and the result has been more movies that wipe out."


On Tuesday night, a flash mob of some 40 to 50 teenagers invaded the busiest and most tourist-centric part of Hollywood, smashing windows, stealing cellphones, and assaulting passersby. The police described the incident as a “rolling crime wave.” One police official said that the George Zimmerman acquittal provided the flash point excuse for the flash mob. “They’re using Trayvon as an excuse,” the official said to local media. “They were saying, ‘Let’s go mess up Hollywood for Trayvon.’”

The incident began when 911 dispatchers began getting calls about trouble on Hollywood and Vine, including young people running through traffic, bowling people over, and grabbing their purses and cell phones. The hoodlums robbed local stores as they charged down Hollywood Blvd. One took a cash register. “They kept moving from location to location,” said Officer Christopher No.
According to LAPD Commander Andy Smith, the group coordinated beforehand via social media, believing that police presence was distracted by the anti-George Zimmerman protests in Crenshaw. “What we’re thinking is these youngsters took advantage of our redeployment of officers down to the Crenshaw District last night and decided that this would be a good night to come up to Hollywood and act a little crazy,” said Smith. Overall, the police arrested 12 people, 11 of them juveniles.
The police are currently investigating surveillance video to find the rest of the suspects. Video appears to show more than one of the mob wearing hoodies. One witness said some were wearing masks. Three of the arrested females took video of themselves in handcuffs, laughing about it.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).

Packs of young people cause chaos in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles police were combing through cell phones and security footage Wednesday trying to identify dozens of young people who'd rampaged through Hollywood the night before, knocking down people, stealing their cellphones, and grabbing souvenir trinkets from shops before a police sweep and arrests ensued.
Calls reporting packs of as many as 40 marauding young people began coming in at around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday from stores near the famed Hollywood and Vine intersection. The youths — possibly organized through social media — ran through the streets, stole T-shirts and other goods, including food, from businesses mainly on Hollywood Boulevard.
No serious injuries were reported.
Police had redeployed numerous officers, including those from the Hollywood area, to the city's Crenshaw District after violence broke out the previous night during protests of George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Cmdr. Andrew Smith said it was believed the youths took advantage of that "and decided that this would be a good night to come up to Hollywood and act a little crazy."
"Really there was no big financial gain on this thing," Smith said, "it was just a bunch of misguided children, going out and committing wrong."
Lenny Padilla was working at the cashier at T-Island, a souvenir shop on Hollywood Boulevard, when a horde of roughly 40 "high-school kids" ran by the store screaming, gathered up about 10 piles of a dozen T-shirts and smashed two postcard stands to the ground. He saw a woman holding a baby hit by a guy running by; police caught up with some of the youths at a Starbucks blocks away.
Padilla estimates the store lost about $600 in merchandise. "They were kids, all kids," said Padilla, who has worked there for 13 years. "I've never seen crazy people like that."
Across the street, about 20 youths had grabbed the tip jars at Skooby's, a hot dog restaurant, and emptied them outside, said manager Mauricio Garcia. A single jar sat on the counter Wednesday afternoon, still empty.
More than 100 police officers were called in Tuesday night and most arrests were made in minutes.
Twelve people — all but one under the age of 18 — were arrested and though none lived in Hollywood, most were girls and boys from Los Angeles ranging in age from 14 to 17, Smith said. Eleven were held on suspicion of robbery and one for receiving stolen property. Arshon Webb, 18, of Los Angeles was booked for robbery, Smith said.
The attackers traveled to Hollywood by bus or other public transportation and apparently knew each other, loosely organizing through text messages and possibly social media, police said.
"They said, 'let's go to Hollywood and have a riot,'" Smith said, referring to screen shots of messages sent between the young people.
The attacks followed the arrests of 14 people a night earlier in the Crenshaw District after about 150 people split off from a peaceful protest over Zimmerman's acquittal and ran through the streets, jumped on cars, and punched bystanders. A Wal-Mart store was vandalized.
It was unclear whether the Hollywood marauders were inspired by either that violence or anger at the jury verdict. Police were reviewing footage to see if any were the same protesters who'd gathered Sunday along Hollywood Boulevard. Two protests, in the Crenshaw District and downtown, Tuesday night were peaceful.
Police are still searching for the remainder of the youths and plan to begin releasing security camera footage and still shots of suspect faces to the public in the days to come.
This was the second recent high-profile criminal incident along the Walk of Fame. After a woman was stabbed to death in June, police added 20 officers to the area indefinitely, Smith said.
Even so, officials were quick to remind the public that crime in Hollywood remains down significantly. The area remains the No. 1 tourist destination in Los Angeles County with more than 10 million visitors each year.
"Even in the worst of times 20 years ago, the tourists still came by the millions and we anticipate they will continue to come," said Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President Leron Gubler.
On Wednesday, despite the news trucks and a police helicopter overhead, it was business as usual for many along the boulevard: Busloads of tourists posed with a wax figure Marilyn Monroe, took pictures with a character actor Robin Hood, and in true Hollywood fashion, filmed a real live LAPD press conference.

What’s Behind MSNBC’s Ratings Decline?

The network has shifted from politics to the Zimmerman trial as it falls behind CNN and Fox News.

The ratings for MSNBC have been declining since the 2012 election. (Chris Pizzello/AP)

MSNBC bills itself as the "place for politics," but if you've been watching the network lately, it's been all of the Zimmerman trial, all the time. Political director Chuck Todd grew so frustrated with the coverage preempting his Daily Rundown show that he barely concealed his exasperation on-air, as evidenced by a video from theWashington Free Beacon that quickly went viral. Most of the network's flagship news shows, from Hardball with Chris Matthews to Politics Nation with Al Sharpton, seem to spend more time talking about Trayvon Martin than President Obama.
It's nothing new for cable news these days – CNN, FOX News and Headline News have all put the trial at the center of their coverage. But the strategy is especially noticeable when it comes to MSNBC because its numbers have been in sharp decline over the last few months. The network that found success being the aggressively liberal alternative to CNN during the 2012 presidential election is now finding itself with a ratings headache on its hands. And it seems to be abandoning its politics-first play for the easy ratings of nonstop courtroom coverage – following CNN's tabloid turn, if you will.
Asked if the amount of Zimmerman mania was causing any eye rolling at the network, one MSNBC insider said: "It's less the amount of coverage because everyone does that and especially after CNN covering [Jodi] Arias [murder trial] did so well. And we have a large African-American viewership that's interested. The issue is whether we cover it the right way, as a legal issue, which we're mostly doing or does it get covered like it's 2012, when there was no indictment, as a political fight. I worry."
Balancing liberal politics and news, politics and other subjects--it's all an issue for MSNBC this summer. Earlier this month when the cable news ratings for the second quarter of 2013 came out, there was a head-jarring decline in MSNBC's numbers. After a great 2012 in which the liberal-leaning network had bested CNN and, at times, caught up to perennial leader Fox News Channel, MSNBC's was losing the race. By a lot. It had just 576,000 primetime viewers, by one metric, a figure that's down 16 percent from the heady days of 2012.
The question as to why offers some insights into MSNBC's future and, perhaps, the still-unresolved challenges facing a liberal network during a Democratic administration. 
"When you're too predictably a mouthpiece for the administration and you cast your lot with the president's performance, there's a risk," said David Shuster, who left the network for Current TV when his contract expired in 2011. He pointed to Fox's higher production values as one of the reasons for the conservative network's ongoing ratings dominance lead and the high-brow nature of MSNBC's prime time lineup as one of the reasons for its most recent decline.
MSNBC declined to comment for this story, but cable news veterans -- including former MSNBC alumni -- offered their own theories of what ails the network. One common theory is that MSNBC feels threatened by a resurgent CNN.
"MSNBC's apparent success was owing to CNN's failure," says a former cable executive. "CNN was run so poorly that it made MSNBC look fantastic by comparison. "
That seems ready to change. Jeff Zucker, the former head of NBC Universal and the guiding hand behind 16 years of Today show victories, has buffed the look of CNN, bringing in network stars like Chris Cuomo and Jake Tapper. But more importantly, his expanding definition of breaking news to include the Zimmerman trial gives CNN more room to run.
CNN has been the place for breaking news and its audience reliably swells when there's a big event. (MSNBC insiders deride that as "muscle memory" owing to CNN's 16-year head start in the 24-hour news biz and say it will fade in time.) CNN's newsy rep would seem to account for much of its gain over MSNBC in the second quarter--a time span which included the Boston Marathon bombings, the Cleveland kidnappings, and the Oklahoma tornadoes as well as the Jodi Arias trial, which powered its Headline News channel ahead of MSNBC. But in June at the end of the dismal second quarter, MSNBC's ratings picked up. "All those viewers who tuned into CNN for their big quarter haven't stuck around," says one cable executive.
Other insiders posited the theory of progressive decline -- liberals are less fired up now that we're in the second term of the Obama administration. There's no easy way to measure that but it would certainly seem like there's less interest in politics as well as liberal commentary at least on TV. MSNBC rode waves of liberal enthusiasm and election-related interest in 2012 and 2008. But with Obama down in the polls and no election at hand, and Congress famously gridlocked, the place for politics, as MSNBC bills itself, may not be the sexiest best pitch. MSNBC continued to run its "The Place for Politics" chyron during the Zimmerman trial on Tuesday morning which would be as incongruous as boasting "The Place for Courtroom Trials" while airing a presidential convention.
Critics also suggest that MSNBC no longer has much diversity in the evenings. It's not that MSNBC needs a conservative host. It's that the nighttime hours from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM are too erudite, too sophisticated and too earnest to hook a wide swath of viewers.
Some believe the network suffered from moving blunt Ed Schultz to the weekend. The former football player and liberal radio talk show host could be irascible and even buffoonish at times--he called Laura Ingraham a "right wing slut...a talk slut" and apologized for it--but his populist instincts contrasted with the evening's urbane mien.
Indeed, Fox from 8:00 to 11:00 may operate in a conservative space but it has more diversity in its style of host. Sean Hannity is different than Greta Van Susteren who is different than Bill O'Reilly. Keith Olbermann, for all his bombast, was a powerfully skilled broadcaster and while his departure for Current TV in 2011 may have pleased MSNBC executives it left the network's lineup with a big hole.
In a sign of how things have turned, Olbermann recently signed a deal as the lead postseason baseball anchor for TBS, while many of MSNBC's primetime stars are dealing with speculation over their declining ratings. Olbermann, no stranger to controversy, even waded in himself on Twitter, writing that the network had "collapsed" since he left and that he hadn't heard from his protégé Rachel Maddow since.
Others smell blood, too. Bill O'Reilly took a shot at MSNBC last week as he often does after Chris Matthews referred to Sen. Ted Cruz as looking a bit black Irish. "It's all falling apart," O'Reilly said of MSNBC.
Collapse? Hardly. Vulnerable? For sure.