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  • NYFA Documentary Adviser’s Short Up for an Oscar

    geof bartz

    Geof Bartz (Imdb image)

    Geof Bartz, New York Film Academy Documentary Master Class instructor and curriculum adviser (and Supervising Editor of HBO’s Documentary Department), is up for yet another Oscar this year! You may remember that Veterans Dial 1, the film Geof edited last year, won. This time he’s nominated for his editing work on Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s A GIRL IN THE RIVER: The Price of Forgivenes (Documentary Short category).

    Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s A GIRL IN THE RIVER: The Price of Forgiveness chronicles the story of a 19-year-old Pakistani woman, Saba Qaiser, who was shot in the face and thrown in a river by her father and uncle for marrying against their wishes.  But Saba survived, only to face another challenge: how to bring justice to her attackers in a legal system that allows “honor killers” to be “forgiven” and set free.

    More than 5,000 women are the victims of such honor killings worldwide each year. Sharmeen’s movie has already begun to draw the attention of critics in the US, including Nicholas Kristof’s piece in the NY Times last month.

    TRAILER – A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness from Sharmeen Obaid Films on Vimeo.
    And Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has promised to push his parliament to amend honor killing laws because of pressure brought by the nomination of Sharmeen’s film.

    A GIRL IN THE RIVER:The Price of Forgiveness will premiere on HBO and be available on HBO GO in early March. Meanwhile, you can check out the Oscars this weekend and see how it fares against four other terrific short documentaries!

    February 25, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 2778

  • Julie Pacino Producing Mary Pickford Biopic


    Mary Pickford is finally getting the Hollywood treatment from the Hollywood she helped to create. Pickford, the curly-haired ingénue considered cinema’s first “America’s Sweetheart” was a huge star in the silent era and early days of Hollywood.

    Pickford wasn’t just one of the first starlets of the silver screen—she was also a powerful force behind the camera. During her career, she co-founded two significant institutions. The first, with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and her husband Douglas Fairbanks, was United Artists, a studio controlled by actors and filmmakers in an attempt to wrest power from the major studios. UA continues as a major producer to this day as part of MGM.

    Pickford’s other contribution was even greater—she was one of the original 36 co-founders of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the organizations of cinema’s professionals in all fields and provider of the annual Oscars. Pickford won two Academy Awards herself, a Best Actress Oscar for 1929’s Coquette and an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar in 1976.

    It’s no surprise then that her fascinating life is being made into a film, adapted from Eileen Whitfield’s biography Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood. The movie is being scripted by Josh Fagin and directed by Jennifer DeLia. DeLia is producing the film with Julie Pacino, a New York Film Academy graduate who co-founded Poverty Row Entertainment with DeLia. The two also collaborated on Billy Bates, the haunting look at a tortured artist. Pacino, the daughter of Al Pacino, is the perfect choice to tell the story of a Hollywood legend.

    March 12, 2015 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4164

  • Netflix Sets Sights on Oscars with “Beasts of No Nation”

    Idris Elba in a scene from Beasts of No Nation

    Idris Elba in a scene from Beasts of No Nation.

    A month after Netflix declared it was aiming to raise $1.5 billion worth of corporate debt, industry analysts got a better idea of where some of this money might be channeled after it was announced that the company had put down a competitive $12 million to acquire the global distribution rights to buzzed-about Beasts of No Nation, which it will premiere simultaneously both on the streaming service’s site and in theatres later this year.

    Following its Emmy Award-winning successes in original programming like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black and releasing critically acclaimed documentaries—including the Oscar-nominated docs Virunga and The Square, which was DP’d by Documentary grad Muhammad Hamdy—this most recent purchase has many analysts speculating that Netflix is gunning for an Oscar. The film, which was helmed by Emmy Award-winning True Detective director Cary Fukunaga and stars acclaimed British actor Idris Elba, boasts an awards season-friendly plot that focuses on the plight of an African child soldier.

    The fact that the company is seeking to show the film in theaters is indicative of its Academy Awards ambitions as a theatrical run is a requirement to be considered for an Oscar nomination. However, how wide of a release the film will receive remains to be seen as most major theater chains will not show films that do not honor the 90-day wait period between theatrical and home entertainment premieres. Furthermore, after the company announced plans to release a sequel to Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in partnership with Imax and the Weinstein Company, it was met with a planned boycott by the major theater chains as that film will also not adhere to the traditional 90-day waiting period.

    Beasts of No Nation was also written by Fukunaga and produced for $6 million by Participant Media and Red Crown and filmed last year on location in Ghana. The fact that Netflix was willing to pay double to secure the global rights to the film further indicates that the company believes that this is a film that will be well-received by both critics and audiences as Elba’s performance is already being buzzed about for a potential Best Actor Oscar nomination.

    March 4, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 2312

  • Independent Spirit Awards Liked ‘Birdman’ Too

    birdman

    The big story about this year’s Oscars winners may very well be what else they’ve won—namely, the Independent Spirit Awards. The ceremony, as usual, was held the day before the Academy Awards, and rewarded films with smaller budgets and not supported by Hollywood’s largest studios. The show typically has a looser, more fun vibe where its celebrities mingle and goof off, similar to the Golden Globes. This year’s show was hosted by Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell.

    Like the Academy Awards, Birdman walked away with Best Feature. However, in one of the biggest differences from the Oscars, Richard Linklater was awarded Best Director for Boyhood. Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette, and J.K. Simmons all foreshadowed their Oscar wins with acting awards, though Michael Keaton scored the win he couldn’t get Sunday for his starring role in Birdman. Citizenfour presaged its Best Documentary Oscar with a Spirit Award win in the same category. Even the Best Cinematography and Best Editing awards mirrored the Oscars, going to Birdman and Whiplash, respectively. Best Foreign Film winner Ida also got its Spirit Award equivalent for Best International Film.

    With nearly every major winner of the Spirit Awards going on to win their categories at the Academy Awards this weekend, the Oscars overwhelmingly went to films not directly produced or financed by the major studios. Is this a sign of the times, a decentralization of film’s powerhouse auteurs, or just a fluke? Evidence seems to point to the former—after all, five years ago Spirit winner The Hurt Locker beat out Avatar for the Best Picture, but only time will tell. Basically, let’s start the 2016 Oscar predictions!

    Here’s a full list of the winners:

    BEST FEATURE

    Birdman
 Producers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole

    BEST MALE LEAD

    Michael Keaton, Birdman

    BEST FEMALE LEAD

    Julianne Moore, Still Alice

    BEST DIRECTOR

    Richard Linklater, Boyhood

    BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

    Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

    BEST SUPPORTING MALE

    J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

    BEST SCREENPLAY

    Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler

    BEST DOCUMENTARY

    Citizenfour
 Director/Producer: Laura Poitras

    Producers: Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky

    BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM

    Ida (Poland), Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

    BEST FIRST FEATURE

    Nightcrawler
 Director: Dan Gilroy; Producers: Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak

    BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

    Justin Simien, Dear White People

    BEST EDITING

    Tom Cross, Whiplash

    BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

    Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman

    JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD

    Land Ho!

    Writers/Directors: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens; Producers: Christina Jennings, Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy

    LENSCRAFTERS TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
  The Kill Team, Director: Dan Krauss

    PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
 Chris Chison

    KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
 H., Directors: Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia

    February 23, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 2255

  • Oscar Nominated ‘Foxcatcher’ Screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman Inspire NYFA Students

    foxcatcher screenwriters

    Tova Laiter with screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman

    This past Tuesday, February 17th New York Film Academy Los Angeles students were admitted into a special screening of Foxcatcher — nominated for 5 Oscars, (starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo) and participated in a Q&A with screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman who received a nomination in the upcoming Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay. E. Max Frye won an Edgar Award from WGA for his first screenplay, Something Wild, directed by Jonathan Demme. As a writer on HBO’s Band of Brothers, he received a Christopher Award, a Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy.

    Dan Futterman was nominated for a 2005 Academy Award, a BAFTA Film Award, as well as a Writers Guild of America Award for his screenplay for the film Capote. He also won an Independent Spirit Award and shared the USC Scripter Award with Capote biographer Gerald Clarke. Dan and his wife and frequent writing partner, Anya Epstein, were show runners for the third season of the HBO series In Treatment and are currently writing and producing a new series for Fox TV, Gracepoint. As an actor, Dan has appeared on Broadway’s Angels in America and Off-Broadway, at Lincoln Center and Manhattan Theatre Club. His film acting credits include A Mighty Heart, The Birdcage, Urbania, and the upcoming Kill the Messenger. The Q&A was moderated by producer Tova Laiter.

    E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman gave invaluable advice to aspiring screenwriters and storytellers in general. Shedding light on his writing process E. Max Frye explained that he scribbles down his original drafts as quickly as possible on a legal pad. This allows him to get the story in his mind on paper in the most uncensored way possible. He doesn’t do a traditional plot outline, but rather starts from the concept of character and expands from there. He emphasized the importance of rewriting and never showing anyone of consequence the script until it is in it’s absolute final form. The reason for this is that there is no one in the industry that will read a script twice, so you have one shot only to impress.

    In contrast to E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman talked how he likes to structure like crazy. The process of writing Foxcatcher took six years and the breadth of his notes over the course of that time was “insane.” It was a particularly meticulous process working with a director such as Bennett Miller for whom this screenplay was written. Bennett is not a writer himself, so Dan would have to glean what Mr. Miller wanted from the trial and error process of providing ideas and talking about what does and doesn’t work.

    The information E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman provided to NYFA students, many of which were in the screenwriting program, was incredibly beneficial. We sincerely thank Max and Dan and wish them the best of luck at the upcoming Oscars!

    Foxcatcher will be available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD on March 3rd from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment complete with deleted scenes and an all-new featurette: The Story of Foxcatcher. Click the links below to pre-order.
    iTuneshttp://sonypictur.es/hUmkX9

    February 23, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3337

  • Patricia Arquette Demands Equality for Women

    Patricia Arquette

    In addition to the prestige and recognition that the Academy Awards provides for actors, filmmakers and artists, it’s also served as a platform for political and social outcry. Last night’s 87th Annual Academy Awards were no different than its predecessors, with Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette calling attention to the lack of equal pay amongst females not only in Hollywood, but throughout the job market.

    Her call for wage equality for women was received with a large ovation at the awards ceremony, particularly by 19-time Academy Award nominated actress, Meryl Streep.

    “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” said Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

    Arquette’s profound words come at a time when actors’ wages have become more transparent, especially after the unfortunate Sony Pictures hack revealed Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams earned substantially less than their male co-stars for the film American Hustle.

    In 2013, the New York Film Academy tackled this issue with an in-depth infographic, highlighting gender inequality in film. One of the many issues that has stood out, was the fact that Angelina Jolie was the highest paid female actor with $33 million — almost the same amount earned by the two lowest ranked men in 2013.

    female inequality

     

    Our hope at the time was to shed light on this issue in the hopes of pushing the conversation further. With a speech at the Oscars, we think we’re on the right track.

    February 23, 2015 • Community Highlights, Entertainment News • Views: 3273

  • WGA Announces This Year’s Winners

    wga winners

    The Writer’s Guild of America—Hollywood’s most prominent union for screenwriters—announced the winners of their annual award ceremony this weekend, in one of the final award shows of the year before the Oscars wrap up the season. The night puts the spotlight solely on writers, with nominees and awards chosen by other writers, and could be a hint to what expect for next week’s Academy Award winners in Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay.

    The awards cover categories from film and television, as well as documentary, radio and even video games, though the winners can only be guild members. Here is a complete list of the winners:

    Film

    • Original Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness; Fox Searchlight
    • Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game, Written by Graham Moore; Based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges; The Weinstein Company
    • Documentary Screenplay: The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, Written by Brian Knappenberger; FilmBuff

    TV & New Media

    • Drama Series: True Detective, Written by Nic Pizzolatto; HBO
    • Comedy Series: Louie, Written by Pamela Adlon, Louis C.K.; FX
    • New Series: True Detective, Written by Nic Pizzolatto; HBO
    • Episodic Drama: “The Last Call” (The Good Wife), Written by Robert King & Michelle King; CBS
    • Episodic Comedy: “So Did the Fat Lady” (Louie), Written by Louis C.K.; FX
    • Long Form Original: Deliverance Creek, Written by Melissa Carter; Lifetime
    • Long Form Adapted: Olive Kitteridge, Teleplay by Jane Anderson, Based on the novel by Elizabeth Strout; HBO
    • Short Form New Media—Original: “Episode 113: Rachel” (High Maintenance), Written by Katja Blichfeld & Ben Sinclair
    • Animation: “Brick Like Me” (The Simpsons), Written by Brian Kelley; Fox
    • Comedy/Variety (Including Talk)—Series: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Writers: Kevin Avery, Tim Carvell, Dan Gurewitch, Geoff Haggerty, Jeff Maurer, John Oliver, Scott Sherman, Will Tracy, Jill Twiss, Juli Weiner; HBO
    • Comedy/Variety—Music, Awards, Tributes—Specials: 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards, Written by Barry Adelman; Special Material by Alex Baze, Dave Boone, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Jon Macks, Sam Means, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Mike Shoemaker; NBC
    • Quiz And Audience Participation: Hollywood Game Night, Head Writer: Grant Taylor; Writers: Alex Chauvin, Ann Slichter; NBC
    • Daytime Drama: General Hospital, Written by Ron Carlivati, Anna Theresa Cascio, Suzanne Flynn, Kate Hall, Elizabeth Korte, Daniel James O’Connor, Elizabeth Page, Katherine Schock, Scott Sickles, Chris Van Etten; ABC
    • Children’s Script—Episodic And Specials: “Haunted Heartthrob” (Haunted Hathaways), Written by Bob Smiley; Nickelodeon
    • Documentary Script—Current Events: “United States of Secrets: The Program (Part One)” (Frontline); PBS; Written by Michael Kirk & Mike Wiser; PBS
    • Documentary Script—Other Than Current Events: “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis” (Frontline), Written by Michael Kirk & Mike Wiser; PBS
    • TV News Script—Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin, Or Breaking Report: “Nelson Mandela: A Man Who Changed the World” (World News with Diane Sawyer), Written by Dave Bloch, Lisa Ferri, Diane Sawyer; ABC News
    • TV News Script—Analysis, Feature, Or Commentary: “Nowhere to Go” (60 Minutes), Written by Oriana Zill de Granados, Scott Pelley, Michael Rey; CBS

    Radio Winners

    • Radio Documentary: “Three Shots Rang Out: The JFK Assassination 50 Years Later,” Written by Darren Reynolds; ABC News Radio
    • Radio News Script—Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin, Or Breaking Report: “World News This Week,” Written by Andrew Evans; ABC News Radio
    • Radio News Script—Analysis Feature, Or Commentary: “Civil Rights at 50,” Written by Jane Tillman Irving; WCBS Radio
    • Promotional Writing Winner
    • On-Air Promotion (Television, New Media, Or Radio): “How I Met Your Mother,” Written by Dan Greenberger; CBS
    • Video Game Winner
    • Outstanding Achievement In Video Game Writing: The Last of Us: Left Behind, Written by Neil Druckmann; Sony Computer Entertainment

    Hope to win a WGA award one day? Check out our screenwriting school programs here.

    February 17, 2015 • Entertainment News, Screenwriting • Views: 2308

  • Birdman Wins Top Cinematography Award

    birdman cinematography

    This weekend, Emmanuel Lubezki picked up the American Society of Cinematographers Award for Best Feature Cinematography for his work on the Alejandro G. Iñárritu film, Birdman. Lubezki also made history, tying the record of most ASC wins with Conrad L. Hall, with an impressive four victories in the category. Lubezki won previously for shooting the Alfonso Cuaron films Gravity and Children of Men as well as the Terence Malick film The Tree of Life.

    Like Gravity, Birdman features long takes that are not just tricky for actors but for cinematographers who must carefully choreograph and execute the shots. Birdman seamlessly edits the long takes to give the impression the film is one extended shot for the entire feature.

    The win gives more momentum to Birdman as it heads into the final stretch of the Oscar season. Many consider Birdman a close second favorite to Boyhood, with the competition hard to predict outright. With the ASC win, Lubezki has a solid chance at scoring the Oscar for Best Cinematography, though he faces tough competition from the other contenders, with Ida, Mr. Turner, Unbroken and The Grand Budapest Hotel competing in the category.

    Among the other ASC awards given out, Boardwalk Empire’s Jonathan Freeman beat out presumed favorite Game of Thrones for the television prize, and Barbra Streisand accepted the annual Governors Award.

    If you dream of maybe winning the ASC Award one day, check out our cinematography school programs here.

    February 16, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 2097

  • The Babadook: A Non-Nominee Worth Awarding

    Babadook_612x380
    Image Credit: Matt Nettheim

    The Babadook, a thrilling horror flick and debuting film of Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent, has gained much praise by scary movie fans and the industry alike (the film has won a bunch of awards including “Best First Film” award from New York Film Critics Circle). So when the Oscars chose to ignore its existence, it had many wondering what does it actually takes to be considered as a nominee? Are scary movies out of the running?

    The film sees Essie Davies playing Amelia, a struggling mother, bring-up her son Samuel (impeccably played-by first-time actor Noah Wiseman) and a pop-up book. As Davies fights her psychological demons, the film gets darker, her son gets freakier and the pop-up book gets weirdly more intertwined into the family’s reality.

    Ok, to be fair, the Academy has paid tribute to scary movies in the past including awarding horror films The Exorcist and Silence of the Lambs, but it’s been some time and we think The Babadook should have been one of those films to crack the Oscars this year. Maybe they just expect a little extra from the genre and if so, we see Kent coming back with something freakier and scarier, so much so that the Academy will just simply not be able ignore.

    Check out The Babadook trailer and tell us what you think. Too weird? Should it have been a nominee consideration? Let us know your thoughts.

    January 22, 2015 • Entertainment Australia, Entertainment News • Views: 2337

  • And This Year’s Oscar Nominations Are…

    A collage of the 2015 Oscar Best Picture Nominees

    The 2015 Best Picture Oscar nominees, clockwise from left: The Theory of Everything, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, Selma, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, American Sniper

    The nominations for the 87th Academy Awards were announced Thursday, Jan 15 with all of the nominees being announced live for the first time, with directors J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuarón announcing the first batch and actor Chris Pine and Academy Cheryl Boone Isaacs announcing the second group of nominees. And while this year had predictors preparing for a by-the-numbers slate of nominees, the Academy threw more than a few curveballs our way, with Selma getting largely snubbed and Boyhood and Birdman cementing their likely domination come Oscar night with The Grand Budapest making a surprisingly strong showing with nine nominations, tying with Birdman for most nominations.

    Starting at the top, the nominees for Best Picture dropped to eight candidates from nine in the previous years with American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash competing for the main prize. While this category largely came down as expected, one can’t help but wonder if Foxcatcher was dropped to make it an even eight, not to mention the surprise that both Whiplash and The Grand Budapest Hotel maintained momentum throughout the year despite early releases and buzz (the Academy tends to favor films released during the Fall).

    In the Best Actor category, the five nominees had all been favorites throughout awards season, though Bradley Cooper’s turn in American Sniper seemed to take out late-season favorites David Oyelowo in Selma and Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. The full list of nominees are Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, Michael Keaton in Birdman, and Steve Carell in Foxcatcher.

    Competing for best actress, the nominees, similar to their male counterparts, were mostly favorites throughout the season though one can’t help but imagine how Marion Cotillard managed to squeeze out Cake’s Jennifer Anniston for her turn in the Belgian film Two Days, One Night. One thing is for sure, both actresses gave incredible performances and as there can only be five, someone is always going to get the short stick. The nominees are Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything, Julianne Moore in Still Alice, Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night, Reese Witherspoon in Wild, and Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl.

    However, the big shocker came in the Achievement in Directing category as Selma’s Ava DuVernay was snubbed, seemingly in favor of relative newcomer Morten Tyldum and his The Imitation Game. Also, for American Sniper making such a surprisingly strong showing, one can’t help but wonder if Bennett Miller and Foxcatcher pushed out Clint Eastwood. The nominees are Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman, Bennet Miller for Foxcatcher, Morton Tyldum for The Imitation Game, Richard Linklater for Boyhood, and Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

    One of the bigger surprises came in the form of Robert Duvall for his turn in The Judge, a role that had seemingly zero Oscar buzz going into the nominations. J.K. Simmons was of course nominated for Whiplash, where he continues to be the front-runner, with Edward Norton in Birdman, Ethan Hawke in Boyhood, and Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher rounding out the category.

    Finally, in the Best Supporting Actress category, the nominees were largely as expected, though Laura Dern’s flashback-heavy role in Wild edged out other late contenders like Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year and Rene Russo in Nightcrawler. Dern will be competing against Emma Stone in Birdman, Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game, Meryl Steep in Into the Woods, and Patricia Arquette in Boyood.

    A few of the other big surprises coming out of LA this morning was The Lego Movie not even being included in the Best Animated Feature category, which was long considered to take the award. On the bright side, the fantastic “Everything is Awesome” was included in the Best Song category. Furthermore, while Rosamund Pike did score a Best Actress nom for Gone Girl, this early awards season heavyweight joined Selma in the snubbed category. Finally, in the Best Documentary category, the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself, also considered to be a lock for the award, failed to even score a nomination.

    All in all, Oscar night just got a lot more interested and we hope you’ll join us when we Live Tweet the ceremony on February 22nd.

    Click Read More to see the full list of nominees below.

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    January 15, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 3889