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AJC Says Film “Richard Jewell” Falsely Depicts Their Reporter

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  • Clint Eastwood’s new film Richard Jewell follows the man falsely accused of planting the Centennial Park bomb in 1996, with an angle that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution vigorously led the charge against him in their reporting on the case. 
  • The film implies that reporter Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde, traded sex for a news tip.
  • The AJC and colleagues of Scruggs claim this is false, and the paper is asking the filmmakers to add a disclaimer noting that elements of the story have been fabricated.
  • Warner Brothers has defended the film and its depiction of both Jewell and the reporters who covered him. The movie will have a standard disclaimer at the end, as is typical with many films based on real-life events.

AJC Sends Letter to Warner Brothers

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote a letter to Warner Brothers requesting that they add a disclaimer before their new film Richard Jewell, saying the movie inaccurately depicts their reporter trading sex for a news tip.

The letter was sent to the studio, as well as the film’s director Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Billy Ray. Based on a Vanity Fair article, the film follows Richard Jewell, who became the FBI’s suspect in the 1996 Centennial Bombing in Atlanta after he reported a suspicious package and helped clear the area. The AJC was the first outlet to report that he was being considered a suspect. Jewell ended up being innocent. 

The film implies that the journalist working on the story, Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde, traded sex for information on Jewell’s case. The paper claims that this did not happen and that there is no evidence to support it. 

“Such a portrayal makes it appear that the AJC sexually exploited its staff and/or that it facilitated or condoned offering sexual gratification to sources in exchange for stories,” the letter said. “That is entirely false and malicious, and it is extremely defamatory and damaging.”

Scruggs is no longer alive to defend her work. She died at the age of 43 in 2001, with many close to her believing the stress from the controversy of her reporting attributed to the poor health that caused her early death.

In addition to the disclaimer, The AJC is also requesting that Warner Brothers make a statement “publicly acknowledging that some events were imagined for dramatic purposes and artistic license and dramatization were used in the film’s portrayal of events and characters.”

Jewell, who died in 2007, filed and settled suits with numerous outlets following the accusations against him. Of all the organizations involved in legal battles over this, the AJC was the only one who did not settle. Their case was dismissed in 2011 with the court saying that at the time, what the outlet was printing was true. They defended their reporting, which many critics say the film attacks, in their letter. 

“The AJC actually held that story for a day to develop additional independent corroboration of key facts prior to publication. Law enforcement sources confirmed to the AJC their focus on Mr. Jewell,” the letter said. “The accuracy of the story had also been confirmed with an FBI spokesperson to whom the entire story was read before publication.”

AJC Journalists Criticize Film

Richard Jewell hits theatres everywhere on Dec. 13. The film has received positive reviews and awards buzz so far, though some critics have pointed out the heavy-handed way the film depicts news media. The Washington Post said Eastwood’s latest project paints the press as “the enemy of the people” and “caricatures of corruption.”

Slate said it depicted Scruggs as “vampiric.” The AJC published a piece called “The Ballad of Kathy Scruggs” citing people who knew Scruggs at the time, all who claimed this portrait of her was far from reality. 

One colleague called the film version of Scruggs “complete horse (expletive)” and “just not true.” Her reporting partner at the time also critiqued it. 

“It’s obvious to me they did not go to any great lengths to find out what the real characters were like,” he said.

The editor of the AJC, Kevin G. Riley, spoke to Variety about Richard Jewell. He believes that Scruggs is now being depicted in the same false light Jewell once was over 20 years ago.

“The film literally makes things up and adds to misunderstandings about how serious news organizations work,” he said. “It’s ironic that the film commits the same sins that it accuses the media of committing.”

Warner Brothers Defends Film

Warner Brothers, however, is standing by their movie. In a statement to Fox News, they said the film is based on credible material.

“It is unfortunate and the ultimate irony that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, having been a part of the rush to judgment of Richard Jewell, is now trying to malign our filmmakers and cast,” their statement said. “’Richard Jewell’ focuses on the real victim, seeks to tell his story, confirm his innocence and restore his name. The (Journal-Constitution’s) claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend against them.” 

They also told Fox News that the film will have a disclaimer at the end of it, which is standard for most films based at least partially on true stories. This disclaimer will note that while the movie is based on historical events, elements have been added for the purposes of dramatization.

Wilde has previously defended the film and her character. She told the Hollywood Reporter that Scrugg’s legacy has been “unfairly boiled down to one element of her personality, one inferred moment in the film.”

“I think that people have a hard time accepting sexuality in female characters without allowing it to entirely define that character,” Wilde added. “We don’t do that to James Bond, We don’t say James Bond isn’t a real spy because he gets his information sometimes by sleeping with women as sources.”

See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (New York Times) (IndieWire)

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2020 Oscar Nominations: Diversity Criticism, Snubs, and More

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  • This year’s Oscar nominations were announced, sparking new celebrations and criticisms over who was placed on and off the list. 
  • The academy is facing backlash for nominating just one Black actress, Cynthia Erivo, and not a single female in the Best Director category. 
  • Movie fans were also surprised to see no nominations for Jennifer Lopez, Awkwafina, and Lupita Noyong’o, among others. 

Joker Earns Most Noms 

The 92nd annual Oscar nominations were announced Monday with a wave of snubs and surprises that have movie lovers talking. 

Issa Rae and John Cho revealed the chosen nominees for all 24 categories, with the controversial drama “Joker” picking up 11 nods – more than any other film this year. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “The Irishman,” and “1917,” followed closely behind with 10 nominations. 

All four earned spots in the coveted Best Picture category along with “Little Women,” a tale of four sisters growing up in Massachusetts during the Civil War; “Marriage Story,” which focuses on a couple working through a tough divorce and custody battle; “Parasite,” a South Korean psychological thriller and dark comedy; “Jojo Rabbit,” the story of a young German boy who counts Hitler as an imaginary friend, and “Ford v Ferrari,” based on the true story of Ford working to make a faster car than Ferrari.  

The success of “Parasite” marked a particularly significant moment of recognition as it is the first South Korean film to receive nominations for Best International Film and Best Picture. The film has been widely supported by the Asian American community and earned six total Oscar nods, tying with “Jojo Rabbit,” “Little Women,” and “Marriage Story.”

Oscars Pass on J.Lo 

Perhaps the biggest snub this year was against Jennifer Lopez, who was favored as a Best Supporting Actress contender for her role as Ramona in “Hustlers.” After receiving nominations at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, it seemed like J.Lo was a sure bet for an Oscars slot as well. 

A surprise nomination in the category instead went to Kathy Bates, the sole nominee from “Richard Jewell.” 

No Female Director Noms 

Women were also completely absent in the Best Director category yet again, which was frustrating to many who felt “Little Women” director Greta Gerwig should have been an obvious contender 

Nominees for the category include Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Bong Joon-ho, Sam Mendes, and Todd Phillips. 

Both the Golden Globes and the Directors Guild of America awards shut out women directors in favor of male nominees, leading to widespread industry backlash. The Oscars’ decision has now, of course, added to that outrage. 

As Deadline points out, the lack of women in the Best Director category is a sad Oscars tradition. Only five women have ever earned a nomination in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Lina Wertmüller (Seven Beauties), Jane Campion (The Piano), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) and Gerwig (Lady Bird).

In 2010, Bigelow became the first and only female director to win in the category.

#OscarsSoWhite and Other Notable Snubs 

The academy is also once again being slammed with the hashtag “Oscars So White:” on social media after users pointed out that minorities were largely overlooked. British-Nigerian actress Cynthia Erivo, who appeared in “Harriet,” is the sole Black performer among the 20 actor nominees. 

Jennifer Lopez’s snub sparked huge conversations about Latinx representation. Had she been nominated, Lopez would have been the first American Latinx actress singled out by the academy since Rosie Perez, who earned a best-supporting actress nomination in 1994 for “Fearless.” 

Many were also surprised to see Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Noyong’o and Asian-American actress Awkwafina left out of this year’s Best Actress list, especially considering their success at precursor awards. 

Nyong’o, winner of the most lead actress awards from critics organizations this awards season, received widespread praise for her two-sided role in Jordan Peele’s “Us,” meanwhile Awkwafina made history as the first woman of Asian descent to win a lead actress Golden Globe. The star acted in Lulu Wang’s dramedy “The Farewell,” which critics hailed as one of the best films of the year. 

Eddie Murphy, who was just honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at Sunday night’s Critic’s Choice Awards, also did not earn a nod for “Dolemite Is My Name,” and music star Beyonce was not included in the Best Original Song category for “Spirit” from “The Lion King.”  

Since previous backlash over diversity issues, the academy has worked to double female and minority membership by inviting more film professionals from overseas. While it has made some strides, even after four years of efforts, according to the New York Times, the organization is 68% male and 84% white. 

No Host

The 92nd Academy Awards will be held Sunday, Feb. 9, airing on ABC as part of the network’s long-term agreement with the Academy. For the second year in a row, the Oscars will go on without a host, as it did last year after widespread backlash over Kevin Hart’s hiring and departure. 

Full Nominations

Best Picture

“Ford v Ferrari” (Fox)

“The Irishman” (Netflix)

“Jojo Rabbit” (Fox Searchlight)

“Joker” (Warner Bros.)

“Little Women” (Sony)

“Marriage Story” (Netflix)

“1917” (Universal)

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (Sony)

“Parasite” (Neon)

Best Director

Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”)

Todd Phillips (“Joker”)

Sam Mendes (“1917”)

Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite”)

Best Actor

Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”)

Leonardo DiCaprio (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

Adam Driver (“Marriage Story”)

Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”)

Jonathan Pryce (“The Two Popes”)

Best Actress

Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”)

Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”)

Saoirse Ronan (“Little Women”)

Charlize Theron (“Bombshell”)

Renee Zellweger (“Judy”)

Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”)

Anthony Hopkins (“The Two Popes”)

Al Pacino (“The Irishman”)

Joe Pesci (“The Irishman”)

Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

Supporting Actress

Kathy Bates, (“Richard Jewell”)

Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”)

Scarlett Johansson (“Jojo Rabbit”)

Florence Pugh (“Little Women”)

Margot Robbie (“Bombshell”)

Adapted Screenplay

Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”)

Steve Zaillian (“The Irishman”)

Anthony McCarten (“The Two Popes”)

Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”)

Todd Phillips and Scott Silver (“Joker”)

Best Original Screenplay

Rian Johnson (“Knives Out”)

Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story”)

Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns (“1917”)

Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won (“Parasite”)

Animated Feature

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

“I Lost My Body”

“Klaus”

“Missing Link”

“Toy Story 4”

International Feature Film

“Corpus Christi” (Portland)

“Honeyland” (North Macedonia)

“Les Miserables”(France)

“Pain and Glory” (Spain)

“Parasite” (South Korea) 

Best Documentary

“American Factory”

“The Cave”

“Edge of Democracy”

“For Sama”

“Honeyland”

Best Cinematography

“The Irishman”

“Joker”

“The Lighthouse”

“1917”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Best Costume Design

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Joker”

“Little Women”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Film Editing

“Ford vs. Ferrari”

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Joker”

“Parasite”

Makeup and Hairstyling

“Bombshell”

“Joker”

“Judy”

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”

“1917”

Original Score

“Joker”

“Little Women”

“Marriage Story”

“1917”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Original Song

I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” “Toy Story 4”

“I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” “Rocketman”

“I’m Standing With You,” “Breakthrough”

“Into the Unknown,” “Frozen 2”

“Stand Up,” “Harriet”

Production Design

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“1917”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“Parasite”

Sound Editing

“Ford v Ferrari”

“Joker”

“1917”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’

Sound Mixing

“Ad Astra”

“Ford vs. Ferrari”

“Joker”

“1917”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Visual Effects

“Avengers: Endgame”

“The Irishman”

“The Lion King”

“1917”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Documentary (Short Subject)

“In the Absence”

“Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone If You’re a Girl”

“Life Overtakes Me”

“St. Louis Superman”

“Walk Run Cha-Cha”

Short Film (Animated)

“Daughter”

“Hair Love”

“Kitbull”

“Memorable”

“Sister”

Short Film (Live Action)

“Brotherhood”

“Nefta Football Club”

“The Neighbor’s Window”

“Saria”

“A Sister”

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (The New York Times) (Variety)

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Brazilian Judge Orders Netflix to Remove Special Featuring Gay Jesus

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  • A satirical Netflix Christmas special sparked outrage in Brazil for depicting Jesus as gay and Mary as a marijuana smoker, among another tongue in cheek storylines.
  • A judge ordered Netflix to remove the film after a complaint from a conservative Catholic group, saying that keeping it up could cause more damage than suspending it would. 
  • The decision came after 2 million people signed a petition asking for Netflix to remove the program and after the comedy studio behind the film was attacked with Molotov cocktails.

Court Ruling

A judge in Brazil ordered Netflix to remove a satirical Christmas special on Wednesday that has infuriated politicians and religious leaders across the country for its portrayal of a gay Jesus and weed-smoking Mary. 

“The consequences of the dissemination and exhibition of ‘artistic production’ … are more likely to cause more serious and irreparable damage than its suspension,” Rio de Janeiro judge Benedicto Abicair wrote in his court ruling. 

The appeal in favor of Don Bosco Center for Culture and Faith, a conservative Catholic institute, comes after weeks of escalating outrage over the project titled, “The First Temptation of Christ.” 

The complaint argues that the film, which also depicts Mary having an affair with God and one of the three wise men bringing a prostitute to a party, “attacked the protection of religious freedom.”

It adds that “the level of disrespect, aggression and contempt for faith and the values of Catholics displayed in the film is unspeakable,” according to BBC Brazil.

However, despite the backlash, the cast and filmmakers of the sketch-comedy group Porta dos Fundos have defended the project. Porta dos Fundos co-founder, Fábio Porchat, said last year that Netflix has a right to stream the film and that it supports free speech. He also explained that the film never incites violence or tells people not to believe in God.

In his ruling, the judge called the case a “clear conflict” between two constitutional principles: the right to artistic expression and freedom of speech, and religious freedom and the protection of church and liturgy.

However, he agreed to order the program’s withdrawal, saying  it is “more appropriate and beneficial, not only for the Christian community, but for the mostly Christian Brazilian society, until the merit of the offense is judged.”

The temporary order stands unless Netflix or the comedy group appeals and a higher court strikes it down.

Widespread Backlash 

The decision comes as a win for conservatives who have been fighting against the special for weeks. In December, over 2 million people signed a petition asking Netflix to remove it from the streaming platform.

On Christmas eve, a group of men attacked the Porta dos Fundos headquarters with Molotov cocktails. No one was injured during the incident and days later, a video circulated on social media featuring three men claiming responsibility. 

The men said they carried out the attack on behalf of Brazil’s “integralists,” a 1930s-era ultranationalist movement inspired by Italian fascism. The video’s narrator, who used a digitally altered voice, said the group wanted to defend “all Brazilians against the blasphemous, bourgeois and anti-patriotic attitude” of the filmmakers, labling them as “militant Marxists.”

The comedy group condemned the violence on Twitter, writing that “love will prevail along with freedom of expression.”

At this time, it is unclear when and if Netflix plans to comply with the order or fight against it. Porta dos Fundos said Wednesday that it has not received any direction to remove the project yet, however, Netflix has complied with other government requests to take down movies in the past. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (BBC Brazil) (Time

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Camila Cabello Apologizes for Old Racist Tumblr Posts

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  • A Twitter user uncovered racist posts that singer Camila Cabello allegedly posted and reblogged on Tumblr in 2012 and 2013, when she would have been 15 or 16 years old. 
  • Some of these posts included the N-word, racist jokes made at the expense of Black, Asian, and Mexican people, as well as a joke about Rihanna being a victim of domestic violence.
  • She apologized for these posts, saying that she was “uneducated and ignorant” at the time and that she will regret them forever.

Racist Posts Surface on Twitter

Singer Camila Cabello has apologized after a Twitter user uncovered old racist posts she allegedly shared on Tumblr several years ago. 

The posts were made in 2012 and 2013 when Cabello was 15 and 16 years old. She posted and reblogged them onto a Tumblr account called “vous-etess-belle.” As the Twitter user who shared the posts pointed out, the profile picture appears to be of a young Cabello. On her confirmed Tumblr account, she also once said that “vous-etess-belle” belonged to her. 

The thread started by saying, “exposing camila cabello‘s racist and downright disturbing tumblr reblogs: a thread.” The first post included in the thread was an original text post using the N-word.

The other posts had been reblogged on the account. Several of those also included the n-word. 

There were several other posts that referenced and made light of racist stereotypes.

Others made jokes at the expense of Black, Mexican, and Asian people. 

Another controversial post was a meme making fun of the abuse Rihanna faced when dating Chris Brown. 

A post from her main Tumblr page was also included. In it, someone asked Cabello how to be a “strong independent” Black woman like her. 

“Its not easy i guess its just something u have to work at,” she responded.

Reactions to Posts

This thread went viral, causing a lot of backlash online. Many called these posts out for being racist. A number of people also used the hashtag #CamilaCabelloIsOverParty to condemn the singer. 

Some of her fans, however, came to her defense, arguing that she was young and has grown since this incident.

But many also thought her age was not an excuse, arguing that a teenager should know better than to use racial slurs. 

Others also said that many of the people forgiving Cabello were white. “How do you forgive words that weren’t directed at you…?” one user asked. 

The  “vous-etess-belle” account was taken down not long after the thread was posted. The URL now belongs to a fan of K-pop star Luna, who is using the page to promote the artist. 

Cabello Apologizes

On Wednesday afternoon, the “Havana” singer took to Twitter and Instagram to apologize. She did not explicitly mention the thread or posts, but did say she was sorry for the language she once used. 

“When I was younger, I used language that I’m deeply ashamed of and will regret forever,” she wrote. “I was uneducated and ignorant and once I became aware of the history and weight and the true meaning behind this hurtful language, I was deeply embarrassed I ever used it. I apologized then and I apologize now.”

“I’m 22 now, I’m an adult and I’ve grown and learned and am conscious and aware of the history and the pain it carries in a way I wasn’t before,” she added in the text post. “Those mistakes don’t represent the person I am or a person I’ve ever been. I only stand and have ever stood for love and inclusivity, and my heart has never, even then, had any ounce of hate or divisiveness.”

See what others are saying: (L.A. Times) (The Cut) (Cosmopolitan)

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