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

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    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, 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.

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    March 4, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4344

  • Emmys Announce New Rules for TV Awards

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    Not content to let the Oscars get all the press, the Academy of Television has announced new rule changes and categories to their award ceremony, shaking up the game for some of the most buzzed about TV shows. The rule changes are a response to a diversifying mediascape as well as rumblings of discontent with perceived loopholes and miscategorization in previous years’ ceremonies.

    Six major rule changes were announced:

    1. The number of series allowed in Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Drama Series has been increased from six to seven. This is a response to the greater number of content coming from more and more sources, though seven still may be not enough for some.
    2. The definition of “comedy” and “drama” are no longer based on content, but on running time. Any show over the length of thirty minutes is classified as a drama while any show less than thirty minutes is considered a comedy. This is seen as a blow to hour-long comedies like Orange is the New Black as well as dramas in general, as it expands the competition. Petitions can be submitted to move a show into another category, but it must be approved by an appointed Industry Panel.
    3. The Variety Series category is now split into two—between Outstanding Variety Sketch and Outstanding Variety Talk—to differentiate shows like The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live. In effect, this doubles the nominees, and could be a boon to smaller shows in both categories like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Portlandia.
    4. The field of voters in each category’s final round has been expanded and requires voters to watch the content online before submitting their votes.
    5. The definition of a “Guest Actor” has been specified to be actors who appear in less than 50% of a season’s episodes, excluding many shows’ tendencies to have a recurring guest star all season long. Roles such as these would now be considered in Lead or Supporting Actor categories.
    6. “Mini-Series” has been redefined as “Limited Series” and excludes shows whose characters or storylines carry over into subsequent mini-series or seasons. This will affect shows like Sherlock, which are currently considered mini-series, as well as anthology seasoned shows like True Detective and American Horror Story, which fit the new Limited Series parameters.
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    February 24, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 3667

  • WGA Announces This Year’s Winners

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    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
    • 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.

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    February 17, 2015 • Entertainment News, Screenwriting • Views: 4320