Connect with us

Entertainment

Wolf of Wall Street Producer Charged in Money Laundering Scandal

Published

on

  • Riza Aziz, a producer on The Wolf of Wall Street, was arrested for five counts of money laundering in Malaysia.
  • Riza is the stepson of Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak.
  • The charges against Riza relate to the 1MDB scandal, which involves Najib and alleged laundering he did while in office.
  • Riza pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Riza Aziz Arrested

Riza Aziz, whose production company Red Granite Pictures produced Oscar-nominated picture The Wolf of Wall Street, was arrested in Malaysia and charged with five counts of money laundering.

Riza was arrested by Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission on Thursday. On Friday, he pleaded not guilty to the charges. Each count could be up to five years in prison. According to the New York Times, he has been released on a bail of $240,000.

Riza is the stepson of the former prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak. He and Riza’s mother have already been charged in the same scandal. Both have also pleaded not guilty. 

The scandal rocking the family is known as the 1MDB scandal. While Najib was still in office, he was accused of moving money from a government-run development company, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, to his own personal accounts. The United States Department of Justice believes the amount of money lost in the scandal could be as high as $4.5 billion.

What do These Charges Mean?

Riza is accused of transferring $248 million from Swiss bank accounts connected to 1MDB to his company Red Granite between 2011 and 2012. He allegedly used the money to finance his projects and buy high-end real estate. Red Granite has already paid $60 million in a settlement to the U.S. after a lawsuit showed movies like The Wolf of Wall Street and Dumber and Dumber To were funded via 1MDB. $57 million of that has been returned to Malaysia. 

“It is a shame that Riza has become collateral damage in a political crusade to jail his step-father,” Riza’s lawyer, Matthew Schwartz said in a statement that appeared in the Times. “When the actual evidence comes out, it will be clear that he has done nothing wrong.”

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Financial Times) (The Wrap)

Advertisements

Entertainment

Fans Defend Jim Carrey After “Unacceptable” Remark to Female Reporter

Published

on

  • When asked by a female reporter if he still had anything left on his bucket list, actor Jim Carrey said: “Just you. That’s it. It’s all done now.”
  • Some blasted Carrey for what they felt was a sexual remark, calling it “unacceptable” and “inappropriate.”
  • Meanwhile, fans suggested that the comment was not intended to be sexual but was instead referencing the interview itself as his final bucket list achievement. 

Bucket List Question 

Jim Carrey is facing backlash over a remark he made to a female journalist that many found inappropriate, but fans are quickly coming to the actor’s defense online.

Reporter Charlotte Long, from UK’s Heat magazine, sat down with the 58-year-old comedian during a press junket for his new animated film, “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

During her interview, Long asks Carrey,  “In the film, Sonic has a bucket list. I was wondering, after all you’ve done in your career and in your life, is there anything still left on your bucket list?”

“Just you,” Carrey responds. “Oh,” says Long, taken aback by the comment. She laughs before adding, “Wow.”

“That’s it. It’s all done now,” Carrey says to which Long replies with, “I don’t know what to say to that.” 

“Just own it,” Carrey continues.  “Okay, I’m owning it now,” Long says. 

Comment Sparks Outrage 

Long moves forward with her other questions as the pair laughs off the moment. But when she later posted the interview on Twitter, many were shocked and upset by Carrey’s remark, which they interpreted as a sexual comment.

“Lost respect for him today. This is really unacceptable,” one Twitter user said before applauding Long for how she handled it. 

Others called his comment “totally inappropriate” and labeled him a “massive sleazebag.” 

https://twitter.com/ChristinaAllDay/status/1227783036663717889?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1227783036663717889&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.insider.com%2Fjim-carrey-tells-heat-reporter-shes-the-only-thing-left-to-do-on-his-bucket-list-2020-2

Fans Defend Carrey 

But many of the comedian’s fans jumped to his defense. “He made a joke, joke didn’t land. Everyone is so offended about everything. If a female comedian said that about someone we’d all laugh. The hypocrisy is ridiculous,” one Twitter user said. 

“Cue all the heroes acting offended fr the poor woman who was clearly NOT offended.” another added.

Meanwhile, others suggested that his comment is being completely misinterpreted. Instead, many feel Carrey was referencing the interview itself as his final bucket list achievement. 

Long eventually changed her Twitter account to private and neither she nor Carrey have commented on the backlash. 

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Fox News) (EOnline

Advertisements
Continue Reading

Entertainment

Universal Moves Forward With “The Hunt” After Controversy: How the Conservative Rednecks vs. Liberal Elites Movie Is Rebranding Itself

Published

on

  • Universal Studios has set a March release date for The Hunt after canceling its Sep. 2019 release.
  • Universal canceled the movie in August following two mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. 
  • Prior to that, the movie had been condemned by conservatives—including President Donald Trump—for stoking political divisions by featuring a group of conservative “rednecks” being hunted by liberal elites. 
  • Now, Universal is using the drama around the film’s release in its marketing campaign, promoting it as “the most talked about movie of the year… that no one’s actually seen.”

The Hunt Now Slated for March Release

After canceling The Hunt for its timing and controversial premise, Universal Studios announced Tuesday that the movie will be released on March 13. 

The movie, which features a group of liberal elites seemingly hunting conservative “rednecks,” quickly caught the condemnation of President Donald Trump after its first trailer dropped in July.

In the original trailer, a character played by Glow’s Betty Gilpin is seen in a gas station, seemingly confused because she doesn’t know where she is. She’s then attacked by the station’s owners, and she manages to fight back before ultimately killing them.

While such a scene is not taboo by today’s standards, the trailer continues by introducing the elite vs. conservative premise. In one moment, an elite (played by Hilary Swank) says that the people they’re hunting aren’t human.

She also refers to those people as “deplorables,” a reference to a 2016 statement made by Hillary Clinton.

“You know, to just be grossly realistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call a basket of deplorables. Right?” Clinton said while campaigning for the 2016 election. 

Marketing Shifts Gears

While the film was marketed as a form of satire, from the trailer alone, it appeared to be a rather straightforward horror premise. It’s newest trailer, however, adds several comedic touches to drive the satire aspect home. 

It also appears that the movie may not actually be about liberal elites hunting conservatives, as Swank’s character asks in the film, “You actually believed we were hunting human beings for sport?” Rather, the film’s plot seems to be the consequence of an out-of-control prank.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, part of the plot appears to involve a reality TV show gone wrong.

In addition to revealing those plot details, Universal is now using the drama around The Hunt to market the film, with its tagline reading, “The most talked about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen.”

Meanwhile, the film’s creators have been largely playing damage control for both sides. 

“This is not a dangerous movie,” Producer and co-writer Damon Lindelof told Variety. “This is not a provocative movie. This is not a divisive movie.”

“[This movie] didn’t strike me as third rail,” Lindelof also told The New York Times. “I wish that [Trump] had seen it. The movie he was talking about was not the movie I feel that we made.”

Also speaking with The Times, Producer Jason Blum said, “Not one frame was changed. This is exactly the same movie.”

Why Did Universal Cancel the Film?

In addition to Trump, The Hunt faced massive backlash online in August, with the movie trending on Twitter and notable voices such as Franklin Graham expressing their concern.

To plant the thought in someone’s mind that it’s okay to shoot a person because they wear a MAGA hat or hold conservative viewpoints that may differ from theirs is reckless & reprehensible,” Graham, the son of televangelist Billy Graham, said. “That’s not satire or entertainment—that’s sowing seeds of discord & violence.” 

Ultimately, the film’s promotional campaign was suspended just days after two mass shootings that left 31 people dead in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Several days after that Universal pulled the plug on the film altogether. 

While Universal Pictures had already paused the marketing campaign for The Hunt, after thoughtful consideration, the studio has decided to cancel our plans to release the film,” the company said in a statement. “We stand by our filmmakers and will continue to distribute films in partnership with bold and visionary creators, like those associated with this satirical social thriller, but we understand that now is not the right time to release this film.”

At the time, Universal didn’t announce any plans to release the movie at a later date or in another way. 

Following that decision, Swank released a statement saying she supported Universal’s decision and felt the choice was necessary, adding that the country should focus on healing and other things like kindness, sensitivity, and humanity.

What Are People Saying Now?

While Trump has not spoken on the new release plans, many on social media remain divided. 

Universal originally faced accusations of bending to censorship when it decided to shelve the film, but some praised the company for moving forward to ultimately distribute the film.

Others also said the drama around the film and the way Universal is marketing that makes them want to see it.

Others, however, were still upset at the film’s subject matter.

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (LA Magazine) (Washington Examiner)

Advertisements
Continue Reading

Entertainment

Jussie Smollett Indicted Again Over Alleged Hate Crime Hoax

Published

on

  • Actor Jussie Smollett was indicted again on six counts of disorderly conduct for falsifying a police report. 
  • This comes almost a year after he was indicted on 16 counts of the same charge, which prosecutors abruptly dropped.
  • In January 2019, Smollett claimed he was the victim of a brutal homophobic and racist hate crime. After Chicago police investigated, they claimed the actor had actually staged the attack himself. 
  • These new indictments come from prosecutor Dan Webb, who was appointed to look into Smollett’s case as well as the way the Cook County State’s Attorney Office handled it.

New Indictments

Actor Jussie Smollett is facing six new indictments of disorderly conduct for falsifying a police report for allegedly staging a fake hate crime in Chicago in 2019.

These indictments come after special prosecutor Dan Webb spent six months investigating the case. Back in August a judge appointed Webb to look into Smollett, who was previously indicted on 16 counts of the same charge in March, only for those charges to be abruptly dropped by Cook County prosecutors. Webb was assigned to look into further prosecuting Smollett, as well as any potential mishandlings of the case by the Cook County State’s Attorney Office.

“The grand jury’s investigation revealed that Jussie Smollett planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred,” Webb’s office wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “Therefore, Mr. Webb has determined that reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute Mr. Smollett.”

He added that further charging Smollett is “in the interest of justice.” 

Webb has not made any conclusions as to whether or not the Cook County State’s Attorney Office mishandled the case and is still investigating this aspect. The statement did note that he disagreed with their choice to drop charges. 

The Jussie Smollett Case

Back in January 2019, Smollett, who is black and gay, said that two men attacked him in a hate crime. He claimed that they yelled racist and homophobic things at him, beat him, tied a noose around him, and poured chemicals on him. After Chicago Police investigated the matter, however, they said they found Smollett actually staged the attack and hired two people to do this.

Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx, who was assigned to oversee the case, recused herself in February before indictments were handed out. In March, Smollett was handed the 16 indictments, to which he pleaded not guilty. When they were dropped a few weeks later, he had to forfeit his $10,000 bond and do community service but did not have to admit any wrongdoing.

This news upset Chicago city officials and police, with then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling it “a whitewash of justice.”

The city of Chicago ended up filing a civil suit demanding that Smollett cover the $130,000 that was spent in overtime pay to investigate his report. Smollett later sued the city for malicious prosecution.

Responses

Foxx’s office released a statement disagreeing with the latest charges. Foxx faces a primary election in just a month, and her handling of the Smollett cases has been one of her campaign’s biggest hurdles. Her office believes the timing of these new charges is politically motivated. 

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office charged Jussie Smollett with multiple counts, and today the Special Prosecutor did the same,” her office’s statement said. “What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system.”

Smollett’s legal team also mentioned the upcoming election while expressing their disapproval of the new indictments. 

“The charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence,” Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian said in a statement. “The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.”

On the other side, when Emanuel was asked about the indictment, he told ABC7 in Chicago that the news “speaks for itself.”

The city of Chicago also released a statement of its own. They noted that the civil case against Smollett still stands.

“We look forward to reviewing the indictment and, as we have said previously, the City stands by our original complaint seeking to recover costs for Mr. Smollett’s false statements,” the city’s statement said. “We again thank the Chicago Police Department detectives for their hard work on the original investigation.”

See what others are saying: (Chicago Tribune) (ABC) (CBS)

Advertisements
Continue Reading