GRAMMYS 2014 Grammys 2014: Top contenders and long shots in five races

By Gerrick D. Kennedy

Betting on the outcome of the Grammys is always a losing game. And the nominations for the 56th annual ceremony prove the voting members of the Recording Academy are as broad as ever with their musical tastes.

But history has shown that unpredictability could be the theme of the evening.

Will 17-year-old Lorde make Grammy history? Will Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Robin Thicke's staggering chart prowess be rewarded by voters? Will a rap album take the night's top prize for the first time in a decade? Those are some of the pressing questions that will be answered when the Grammy Awards are unveiled Sunday at Staples Center in Los Angeles. (The show airs on CBS at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time.)

Here are five races worth watching closely:

Album of the year.
The Recording Academy shocked everyone when Sara Bareilles was named a contender for the top prize, edging out critically acclaimed works from Justin Timberlake, Kanye West and Kacey Musgraves. The next shock? How the academy will actually vote. Taylor Swift's latest blockbuster, "Red," and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "The Heist" could easily sway voters. But Bareilles is a serious long shot. And then there are two wildcards: Kendrick Lamar's genre-defining debut, "good kid, m.A.A.d city," and Daft Punk's slinky comeback record, "Random Access Memories."

Song of the year.
The narrative could be spun a number of ways here. At 17, a win for Lorde would make her the youngest songwriter to take the honor — a perfect bookend to a year that saw the pop prodigy add a much-needed bite to pop radio. Pink has been overdue for Grammy glory since her gravity-defying performance in 2010's ceremony. A dark horse win for her superbly written ballad, "Just Give Me a Reason," could be the night's most satisfying surprise. And despite massive singles from Bruno Mars ("Locked Out of Heaven") and Katy Perry ("Roar"), it's impossible to count out Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, whose timely pleas for equality on the poignant "Same Love" will be especially hard to ignore.

Pop vocal album.
Thicke's deliciously tawdry summer hit, "Blurred Lines," is facing sturdy competition for record of the year, and its corresponding album faces tough odds in the pop album category. The biggest competition is among two R&B-dipped pop crooners: Mars' popular sophomore set, "Unorthodox Jukebox," could sneak off with multiple wins, but after Timberlake was denied in the major categories, will voters offer consolation here for his "The 20/20 Experience?"

New artist..
Critics are scratching their heads that teen pop phenom Lorde was denied an invite here over James Blake, but the British singer and electronic music producer seems an unlikely choice over acts who probably made weightier impressions on Grammy voters. Country breakout Musgraves could easily walk away victorious, and so could singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. But the narrative may ultimately end with Lamar or Macklemore & Ryan Lewis becoming the first hip-hop act to win the award since Lauryn Hill in 1999.

Rap album.
It's unlikely that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, up for seven awards, will leave empty-handed. But some rap fans have been just as heavy-handed with criticism of the duo's more pop-oriented brand of indie rhymes. Voters rooted in tradition most likely will look elsewhere. But who? Drake's "Nothing Was the Same" elevated the rapper's confessional arena rap, while Jay Z chased ambitions of technical innovation with a so-so-received recent effort. The race is a tossup between Lamar and West. Both helped push the genre forward — West experimented with conventions on the jarring "Yeezus," and Lamar delivered one of the genre's most striking debuts in recent memory — but this race seems too close to call.

Alfonso Cuarón Wins DGA Feature Film Award for Gravity

By: Josh Abraham

The winners of the Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement Awards for 2013 were announced tonight during the 66th Annual DGA Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. Alfonso Cuarón won the DGA?s Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for Gravity.
Actor Jane Lynch hosted the ceremony before an audience of more than 1,600 guests. Presenters included (in alphabetical order): Ben Affleck, Debbie Allen, DGA Secretary-Treasurer Michael Apted, DGA President Paris Barclay, Sandra Bullock, Nick Cannon, Don Cheadle, Steve Coogan, Bradley Cooper, DGA Fifth Vice President Jon Favreau, DGA Past President Taylor Hackford, Tom Hanks, Keith Jackson, Anna Kendrick, Allison Liddi-Brown, Sarah Paulson, Rob Reiner, and Kerry Washington.
The 67th Annual DGA Awards will take place on Saturday, February 7, 2015.
The winners of the 2013 DGA Awards for Outstanding Directorial Achievement are:

(Warner Bros. Pictures)
Mr. Cuarón’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Manager: David Siegel (Arizona Unit)
· First Assistant Directors: Josh Robertson, Stephen Hagen (Arizona Unit)
· Second Assistant Director: Ben Howard
This is Mr. Cuarón’s first DGA Award.
Behind the Candelabra
Mr. Soderbergh’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Manager: Michael Polaire
· First Assistant Director: Gregory Jacobs
· Second Assistant Director: Jody Spilkoman
· Second Second Assistant Director: Lynn Struiksma
This is Mr. Soderbergh’s first DGA Award and third nomination. He was previously nominated in 2000 for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for both Erin Brockovich and Traffic. He is also the recipient of this year?s Robert B. Aldrich Service Award for extraordinary service to the DGA and its membership.
Breaking Bad, ‘Felina’
Mr. Gilligan’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Manager: Stewart A. Lyons
· Assistant Unit Production Manager: James Paul Hapsas
· First Assistant Director: Nina Jack
· Second Assistant Directors: Anna Ramey, Louis Lanni
· Second Second Assistant Director: Joann Connolly
· Additional Second Assistant Director: Marcia Woske
This is Mr. Gilligan’s first DGA Award and second nomination. He was previously nominated in the Dramatic Series category for the ?Face Off? episode of Breaking Bad in 2011.
30 Rock, ‘Hogcock!/Last Lunch’
Ms. McCarthy-Miller’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Manager: Diana Schmidt
· First Assistant Director: Stephen Lee Davis
· Second Assistant Director: Vanessa Hoffman
· Assistant Unit Production Manager: Bill Sell
· Location Manager: Suk Yi Mar
This is Ms. McCarthy-Miller’s third DGA Award and tenth nomination. She was also nominated this year, together with Rob Ashford, in the Movies for Television and Mini-Series category for The Sound of Music Live! She was previously nominated in the Comedy Series category for 30 Rock episodes ?Live from Studio 6H? in 2012, ?Live Show? in 2010, ‘The Reunion Episode #304′ in 2008 and ‘Somebody to Love’ in 2007. She won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Musical Variety twice, in 2001 for America: A Tribute to Heroes (co-directed with Joel Gallen) and in 2000 for the ‘Val Kilmer/U2′ episode of Saturday Night Live. She was also twice nominated in that category for Saturday Night Live episodes ‘Christopher Walken & The Foo Fighters’ in 2003 and the 25th Anniversary episode in 1999.
Saturday Night Live, ‘Saturday Night Live with Host Justin Timberlake’
Mr. King’s Directorial Team:
· Associate Directors: Michael Mancini, Michael Poole, Matt Yonks, Bob Caminiti
· Stage Managers: Gena Rositano, Chris Kelly
This is Mr. King?s first DGA Award and seventh nomination. He was previously nominated for Saturday Night Live episodes in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The 67th Annual Tony Awards
Mr. Weiss’s Directorial Team:
· Associate Directors: Ken Diego, Robin Abrams, Stefani Cohen, Ricky Kirshner
· Stage Managers: Garry Hood, Phyllis Digilio-Kent, Peter Epstein, Andrew Feigin, Lynn Finkel, Doug Fogel, Jeffry Gitter, Arthur Lewis, Jeffrey M. Markowitz, Joey Meade, Seth Mellman, Tony Mirante, Cyndi Owgang, Jeff Pearl, Elise Reaves, Lauren Class Schneider
This is Mr. Weiss?s fifth DGA Award and tenth nomination. He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Musical Variety in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012 for the 61st, 64th, 65th and 66th Annual Tony Awards. He was previously nominated in the same category in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008 for the 55th, 56th, 59th, 60th, and 62nd Annual Tony Awards.
72 Hours, ‘The Lost Coast’
This is Mr. DeGroot’s second DGA Award. He won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs in 2011 for ?Episode 1115? of The Biggest Loser.
An Apology to Elephants
This is Ms. Schatz?s fifth DGA Award and eighth nomination. She won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children?s Programs four times for A Child’s Garden of Poetry in 2011, Classical Baby (I’m Grown Up Now) ‘The Poetry Show’ in 2008, ‘Twas the Night in 2001 and Goodnight Moon & Other Sleepy Time Tales in 1999. She was also nominated an additional three times in this category for Don’t Divorce Me! Kids’ Rules for Parents on Divorce in 2012, Hard Times for an American Girl: The Great Depression in 2009 and Through a Child’s Eyes: September 11, 2001 in 2002.
Epoch Films
The Man Who Couldn’t Slow Down, Hennessy VS ? Droga5
· First Assistant Director: Shawn Thomas
Human Race, Acura MDX 2014 ? Mullen
· First Assistant Director: Jey Wada
· Second Assistant Director: Dillon Neaman
· Second Second Assistant Director: Erin Stern
This is Mr. de Thurah?s first DGA Award.
The Square
Participant Media
Noujaim Films
Maktube Productions
Worldview Entertainment
Roast Beef Productions
This is Ms. Noujaim’s second DGA Award and third nomination. She won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary for in 2001 (together with Chris Hegedus) and was also nominated in this category in 2004 for Control Room.
In a surprise announcement, DGA President Paris Barclay called former National Vice President Steven Soderbergh to the stage to accept the Robert B. Aldrich Award in honor of Soderbergh?s extraordinary service to the DGA and its membership. Joined by former DGA President/current Secretary-Treasurer Michael Apted and former DGA President Taylor Hackford, Barclay thanked Soderbergh for his devotion to the Guild, especially his work to protect and extend the creative rights of directors. Soderbergh, who was first elected to the National Board in 2001, served for nine years as National Vice President before stepping down last June. Soderbergh was also a founding member of the Guild?s Independent Directors Committee, a chair of the Eastern Directors Council, a member of the Western Directors Council, and he chaired DGA Honors three times. Soderbergh currently serves on the PAC Leadership Council and the DGA Foundation, and he is co-chair of the Guild’s Theatrical Creative Rights Committee, a position he has held since 2002.
Steven Soderbergh Robert B. Aldrich Service Award
In recognition of extraordinary service to the Directors Guild of America and to its membership.
Shonda Rhimes & Betsy Beers DGA Diversity Award
In recognition of their commitment to diversity hiring and providing jobs and opportunities to women and minorities in DGA-covered categories.
Lee Blaine Frank Capra Achievement Award
Given to an Assistant Director or Unit Production Manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the Directors Guild of America.
Vincent DeDario Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award
Given to an Associate Director or Stage Manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the Directors Guild of America.

CNN lays off more than 40 journalists

By Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles
CNN has laid off more than 40 senior journalists in its newsgathering operation – including a pregnant producer who was two weeks away from giving birth to twins – as part of a reorganisation of the business under Jeff Zucker.

The cutting of production and editorial staff at the Time Warner-owned group comes as Mr Zucker tries to re-establish CNN as the dominant force in 24 hour cable news, a crown it lost several years ago to Fox News Channel.

The lay-offs at CNN and HLN, its sister network, were concentrated in Washington, Atlanta and Los Angeles at the end of 2013. CNN declined to comment on the laying off the pregnant news producer, who worked for the company for more than a decade, saying it could not comment on individual employees.

The lay-offs coincide with changes to the network’s programming. Mr Zucker has hired new presenters and diversified CNN’s output, adding documentary and reality series to its traditional live news coverage.

A CNN spokesperson said it would add about 100 people to its headcount this year, adding that the network was investing in journalism. “We’re expanding the definition of news,” she said. “We’re not abandoning news by any stretch of the imagination . . . there will be more people working at CNN today than last year.”

However, Mr Zucker’s moves have so far failed to lift CNN’s audiences in prime time, the crucial evening period when television networks generate most of their advertising revenue. The network continues to lag behind Fox News and recently hit a 20-year low in prime time ratings.

Nielsen revealed that CNN’s ratings for the key 25 to 54 year old demographic slumped last week to their lowest level since May 2012, with CNN averaging 78,000 viewers for the whole day and 98,000 in prime time.

The task of reviving CNN has dogged Jeff Bewkes since he became Time Warner’s chief executive six years ago: at the end of 2012 he appointed Mr Zucker, the former chief executive of NBCUniversal, to return it to glory.

Time Warner does not break out CNN’s performance in its earnings but in late 2012 Mr Bewkes told the UBS media conference the network would generate $600m of earnings that year.

At Time Warner’s most recent quarterly earnings John Martin, CEO of Turner Broadcasting, Time Warner’s television unit, told an investor call that CNN’s profits had fallen. “CNN's operating income this year is down and that’s because of proactive decisions that have been made by Jeff Zucker and the new team there to try to invest in the programming,” he said.

Mr Bewkes said last month that CNN and HLN would “add a little more variation, not just in traditional political news” in an effort to generate returns.

CNN has added series from the likes of Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef, and Morgan Spurlock, an acclaimed documentary maker, and this week it acquired a documentary about the discovery of a fossilised Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. It will soon air Chicagoland, a new reality series about Chicago politics.

But departing staff have expressed concern. “It makes you wonder what direction CNN is going in,” said Kim Segal, a supervising producer who left CNN recently after a long career when the network asked her to choose between a cut in pay and a severance package.

Ms Segal supervised much of CNN’s coverage of the Florida trial of George Zimmerman, a ratings winner for the network, as well as Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration. “For 24 years there was nowhere else I wanted to be because of the 24-hour platform we had at CNN,” she said. “I would hate for other programming to get in front of that.”

In Atlanta, about 25 people at HLN were laid off in November, including the pregnant producer, according to people familiar with the matter.Six journalists, five of them women, were laid off in Los Angeles, where CNN’s entertainment unit is based.

Some of the people laid off in other bureaux were close to retirement and had been with the news network since it launched 30 years ago, people familiar with the situation said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014.

Review: 'Lone Survivor' tracks the brutality of another mission

It’s pretty hard to beat “Zero Dark Thirty” at the Osama bin Laden game. But “Lone Survivor” makes a brave attempt.

Chronicling a mission to take out al Qaeda leaders, it shows how truly dangerous life can be for those on the front lines. In order to find Ahmad Shahd, four SEALs are sent to the mountains in Afghanistan to bring back intelligence.

The mountains, however, provide transmission problems, forcing the four to climb to higher ground. Sure enough, natives spot them, forcing the soldiers to make a decision – kill them and face jail time or let them live and possibly face exposure. The men opt to let them go and, sure enough, trouble arrives.

During much of Peter Berg’s gritty, frequently graphic drama, the four (Mark Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Taylor Kitsch) are running from the enemy. Battered, bruised and nearly beaten, they fight on, trying to get to a place where American forces can extract them.

Because Berg gives us a brief glimpse of them outside the belly of the beast, we gain a sense of who they are and what they’ve left behind. They argue, comfort and confide in each other but it’s those moments in harm’s way that reveal their strength.

Hirsch gets captured and becomes a target for both sides. The SEALs want to rescue him; the Taliban want to kill them in the quest.

Berg uses plenty of “Friday Night Lights” music to accompany the action and isn’t afraid to slow things down for a telling move. When the men tumble down the mountain, you can feel their pain. When they get shot, the bullets resonate.

“Lone Survivor” isn’t easy to watch. Like caged animals, they’re helpless, unable to complete the mission in a way that would be satisfying to all.

Because it’s clear from the title this is not “we all come home safely,” we suspect most will die. What we don’t realize is the help that the survivor gets from villagers. Operating under an ethical code called “Pashtunwali,” they take him in, protect him and help him get home.

This friendship – rarely detailed in Middle Eastern war films – could prompt another film, showing the relationship that has since developed. It’s a sliver of hope in what appears to be a hopeless world.

Wahlberg continues to impress with another strong performance; Hirsch and Kitsch are touching. And Foster gets one of the film’s best lines: “If you can die for your country, I can live for mine.”

While some of the action seems heightened and condensed for the big screen, there’s an immediacy that helps explain why the hunt for Osama and others has been so difficult.

“Lone Survivor” isn’t for the weak of heart but it’s a rallying cry for the strong of spirit.

When Berg flashes photos of the real soldiers, its true impact is felt.

SAG Awards: The Winners

UPDATED: "Breaking Bad" takes TV drama honors, while Cate Blanchett and Matthew McConaughey win lead film actor awards.

The 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are underway.

Sundance: Zach Braff Was Warned 'People Will Go Apes--t' Over Kickstarter Campaign

Oscars: '12 Years a Slave' Dominates Twitter Conversation After Nominations

Daily Warm Up: Aaron Paul Talks Sundance Drama 'Hellion,' 'Breaking Bad' Spinoff
12 Years a Slave comes into the show with four nominations, including best cast, where it will compete against American Hustle, August: Osage County, Dallas Buyers Club and Lee Daniels' The Butler. In the TV categories, Breaking Bad comes into the show with four nominations.

The awards are be handed out during a simulcast on TNT and TBS live at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT  Saturday from the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles. Follow along for updates from inside the ceremony with THR's live blog, and read the full recaphere.
A full list of nominees follows. It will be updated throughout the evening with the winners.
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
AMY ADAMS / Sydney Prosser
CHRISTIAN BALE / Irving Rosenfeld
LOUIS C.K. / Stoddard Thorsen
PAUL HERMAN / Alfonse Simone
JACK HUSTON / Pete Musane
JENNIFER LAWRENCE / Rosalyn Rosenfeld
ALESSANDRO NIVOLA / Federal Prosecutor
MICHAEL PEÑA / Sheik (Agent Hernandez)
JEREMY RENNER / Mayor Carmine Polito
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
CATE BLANCHETT / Jasmine – “BLUE JASMINE” (Sony Pictures Classics)*WINNER
SANDRA BULLOCK / Ryan Stone – “GRAVITY” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
JUDI DENCH / Philomena Lee – “PHILOMENA” (The Weinstein Company)
MERYL STREEP / Violet Weston – “AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY” (The Weinstein Company)
EMMA THOMPSON / P.L. Travers – “SAVING MR. BANKS” (Walt Disney Pictures)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
BRUCE DERN / Woody Grant – “NEBRASKA” (Paramount Pictures)
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR / Solomon Northup – “12 YEARS A SLAVE” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
TOM HANKS / Capt. Richard Phillips – “CAPTAIN PHILLIPS” (Columbia Pictures)
FOREST WHITAKER / Cecil Gaines – “LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER” (The Weinstein Company)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
BARKHAD ABDI / Muse – “CAPTAIN PHILLIPS” (Columbia Pictures)
DANIEL BRÜHL / Niki Lauda – “RUSH” (Universal Pictures)
MICHAEL FASSBENDER / Edwin Epps – “12 YEARS A SLAVE” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
JAMES GANDOLFINI / Albert – “ENOUGH SAID” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
LUPITA NYONG’O / Patsey – “12 YEARS A SLAVE” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)*WINNER
JENNIFER LAWRENCE / Rosalyn Rosenfeld – “AMERICAN HUSTLE” (Columbia Pictures)
JULIA ROBERTS / Barbara Weston – “AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY” (The Weinstein Company)
JUNE SQUIBB / Kate Grant – “NEBRASKA” (Paramount Pictures)
OPRAH WINFREY / Gloria Gaines – “LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER” (The Weinstein Company)

Harvey Weinstein Has Change of Heart On Violent Content In Films: “The Change Starts Here”


A day after he announced he was going to make a film taking on the NRAwith Meryl Streep, Harvey Weinstein — the producer of several violent films — told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview to air tonight that he has had a change of heart about violent content in film. Asked by Morgan about his hypocrisy of making these violent films, Weinstein said, “They have a point. You have to look in the mirror, too. I have to choose movies that aren’t violent or as violent as they used to be. I know for me personally, you know, I can’t continue to do that. The change starts here. It has already. For me, I can’t do it. I can’t make one movie and say this is what I want for my kids and then just go out and be a hypocrite.” He added that he would make a movie like Lone Survivor, “a tribute to the United States special forces,” but “I’m not going to make some crazy action movie just to blow up people and exploit people just for the sake of making it.” As far as Streep, he said, “people have to remember that Meryl Streep is an actress. She’s working as someone whose playing a part and all the heat should come my way.” Here’s the interview on CNN’s website in two parts (the second after the post):

Actress Out Of San Francisco Production After Endorsing Tea Party Candidate

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A famed actress is facing backlash in San Francisco’s Latino community, after she voiced support for a conservative candidate for California governor.
Maria Conchita Alonso starred in a campaign ad for Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino County, a Tea Party favorite who is seeking the Republican nomination.
Donnelly has voiced strong views against illegal immigration and was once involved with the Minutemen Project, a group that patrolled the border with Mexico to catch immigrants coming across.
“Politicians and big government are killing our prosperity, pushing welfare costs through the roof and driving our schools into the ground,” Donnelly said in the ad.
Standing next to Donnelly, Alonso jokingly translated in Spanish, “We’re screwed.”
Alonso is an actress of Cuban and Venezuelan descent. She is perhaps best known for her role in the movie “Moscow on the Hudson” which also starred Robin Williams.
The actress was to perform next month at the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco’s Mission District in a Spanish-language version of “The Vagina Monologues,” scheduled for a run from February 14th through 17th. The show is being produced by none other than Eliana Lopez, wife of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.
“We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately,” Lopez told KPIX 5. She said Alonso abruptly resigned from the cast on Friday, given the backlash on the immigration issue.
“Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of the Mission. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe,” Lopez said.
Alonso received an earful from listeners of Spanish-language radio station KIQI 1010 AM in San Francisco on Friday, after she said in an interview that she supported many of Donnelly’s views on illegal immigration. Several listeners took her to task after she used the term “illegal” to describe undocumented immigrants.
In the ad, Alonso holds a chihuahua named “Tequila” and uses some vulgar language which has also been a point of contention among some Latino viewers.
“We don’t act like that. First of all, that is not a typical Latina,” said Jim Salinas, a long time Mission resident and former president of the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club. Salinas said there probably would have been boycotts if Alonso had stayed on the production.
“First Amendment rights, we all have the right to say something. But it’s also our right to say we object to that,” Salinas said.
Leo Lacayo, a prominent San Francisco Latino Republican, has been pushing his party to be more moderate on immigration. He thinks Alonso is being treated unfairly.
“It was a political ad, it was a funny ad,” Lacayo said. “That anybody would lose employment over what their political leanings are is absurd.”