August 29, 2013
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A gigantic new Disney studio planned for oak-studded ranchland north of Los Angeles has won the approval of Los Angeles County — a milestone in the effort to build the half-million square feet of new production space in a state hard hit by runaway production.
County supervisors signed off on Tuesday on the Golden Oak Ranch project in the Santa Clarita Valley, although it still needs state and federal approval, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/147bZM0 ).
Disney/ABC Studios has spent the past four years attempting to build a high-tech production center in the area that Walt Disney selected decades ago to be the backdrop for his movies and television shows.
Rural and a short drive from major studios, the site has been depicted as a jungle, the Old West and other locations in productions such as "Old Yeller," ''Beverly Hills 90210" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."
Golden Ranch would be one of the largest studio developments in more than a decade, with six pairs of soundstages along with shops, prop and costume storage areas, offices, writers' bungalows and a commissary.
Disney estimates the project would create $533 million a year in economic activity — a healthy jolt as California fights runaway production that has cost it more than 36,000 jobs since 1997, according to a 2010 Milken Institute Report.
"Many of the film production companies are now going out of state," Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said before the 4-0 vote. "This is an opportunity to increase film production in Los Angeles County."
A handful of environmentalists testified against the project, voicing concerns about pollution, loss of wildlife habitat and the need to cut down 158 oak trees. However, more than 100 supporters were on hand, including nearby residents and business and political leaders.
Disney said the 58-acre development will cover less than 7 percent of the 890-acre Golden Oak Ranch property. Disney plans to retain most of the natural settings.
Despite runaway production, local demand for studio space remains high. TV shows, commercials and new media productions financed by companies such as Netflix and Amazon have helped keep the average occupancy rate for Los Angeles County soundstages at 70 percent to 90 percent, said Carl Muhlstein, managing director for Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate service provider.
ABC, which produces 14 to 18 TV shows at any given time in the Los Angeles area, has outgrown the space at its studio in nearby Burbank and rents other soundstages to accommodate the work.
August 22, 2013
(AP) — Sony says it will launch its latest video game console, the PlayStation 4, on Nov. 15 in the U.S. and Canada.
Sony Corp. said Tuesday that the gaming system will launch in Australia and European countries including Austria, Germany, Sweden and the U.K. on Nov. 29. The PS4 will also go on sale that day in 10 Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
The PS4 will cost $399. Microsoft Corp.'s rival Xbox One will cost $499. Microsoft has not announced an exact launch date.
The two consoles will be the first major gaming systems since Nintendo's Wii U went on sale last November.
August 22, 2013
By Kam Williams
LAWT Contributing Writer
Lee Daniels is best known for directing and producing the Academy Award-winning film Precious which was nominated for a half-dozen Oscars in 2010, including histwo for Best Picture and Best Director. Mo’Nique won for Best Supporting Actress while scriptwriter Geoffrey Fletcher landed another for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Lee’s production company, Lee Daniels Entertainment, made its feature film debut in 2001 with Monster’s Ball, the dysfunctional family drama for which Halle Berry would earn her historic, Best Actress Oscar. Last year, he wrote, produced and directed The Paperboy, an adaptation of the Pete Dexter novel starring Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack, and Nicole Kidman.
Here, he talks about his new picture, The Butler, a civil rights epic recounting the real-life story of an African-American who served in the White House at the pleasure of eight presidents, from 1952 to 1986.
LAWT: Hey Lee, what a phenomenal film!
Lee Daniels: Did you like it?
LAWT: I loved it!
LD: Thanks, Kam.
LAWT: I was born in the Fifties so all of the ground you cover in terms of the father-son relationship and the Civil Rights Movement resonated with me and touched me very deeply.
LD: That makes me feel good. Thank you very much.
LAWT: So, what inspired you to make the movie?
LD: What attracted me to the project was the father-son story which I looked at as a love story with the Civil Rights Movement as a backdrop. That was intriguing to me both because I’d had issues with my own dad, and because I have issues with my teenage son. I think the father-son love story is a universal one which transcends color. That’s what was sort of there on the page, but it wasn’t until I started shooting that we began getting into the Woolworth’s sit-ins and the Freedom Riders with the Molotov cocktails that I asked myself, “What have I stumbled upon?” It was then that I realized the film was much bigger than just the father-son story.
LAWT: Did you decide to tackle the civil rights material because of the Trayvon Martin shooting?
LD: No, it hadn’t happened when Danny Strong wrote the script, including the line “Any white man can kill any of us at any time and get away with it.”
LAWT: You got Oscar-winners in Forest Whitaker, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams and Melissa Leo, and Oscar-nominees in Terrence Howard and Oprah Winfrey to come aboard. How were you able to assemble such an outstanding cast?
LD: My usual way… throwing out a net, and fishing. [LOL] This one was easy because the material was so good. The actors I approached took the bait because they wanted to serve the material. We really didn’t have any money to pay them, so most of them lost money in relation to what their normal acting fee would be.
LAWT: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: How has the tempest over re-using the title The Butler affected you?
LD: Well, I just finished editing the movie five days ago. When did you see it, Kam?
LAWT: Earlier today.
LD: Well, I’m not sure which version you saw. Anyway, when I’m working on a movie, it’s like being in a cocoon. I consider it like giving birth, and I don’t leave the bubble, because if I do, then it’s bad and affects the child. But I was pulled out for a minute when my kids told me about something they saw online. I didn’t even hear about it from the studio. It disturbed me, but I didn’t have time to think about it.
LAWT: Well, it’s now called Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
LD: The MPAA [Motion Pictures Association of America] gave me that title and I still don’t know how to feel about it. I just finished giving birth to the movie. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler!” It sounds like “The Greatest Show on Earth!”
LAWT: Well Tyler Perry, Dino De Laurentis and others are famous for placing their names before the title?
LD: I’m not Tyler Perry. I’m not Dino De Laurentis. I think it’s a bit much to put one’s name in front of the film. It makes me uncomfortable. Here’s the thing. Insiders like you know the whole story and about the legal issues, but not the average person. I worry that young kids in Oklahoma or Alabama might end up asking, “Who is this filmmaker to be so full of himself?” That bothers me. The MPAA handed down this edict. So, I don’t know how I feel about it right now. Ask me tomorrow. [Chuckles]
LAWT: My eyes must have welled up at least a half-dozen times while watching the film. As the director, you must be too close to the film for it to have that sort of emotional effect on you.
LD: No, when I actually sat down all alone to watch the final cut just for pleasure, I broke down in tears.
LAWT: You did a masterful job of portraying the tensions and differences between the Civil Rights and Black Power Generations.
LD: There was no right and wrong. Cecil [played by Forest Whitaker] was right and so was his son [played by David Oyelowo]. You’ve got a problem when neither is wrong, yet you have a conflict.
LAWT: I also appreciated the evenhanded way in which you approached each of the presidents Cecil served under, like how Reagan could give his African-American help a raise to make their pay equal to that of whites, while hypocritically still supporting Apartheid in South Africa.
LD: Ain’t that interesting? We don’t make Kennedy out to be a Goody Two-Shoes either.
LAWT: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier was wondering whether you’ve seen the TV miniseries Backstairs at the White House?
LD: I did. I think it was a great movie for its time, but I wanted to avoid the episodic feeling of that film.
LAWT: Patricia also asks: What message do you want the public to take away from The Butler?
LD: I hate that question, Patricia, because it forces me to be philosophical… I think the message is that we have got a long way to go. I hope that this film rips a scab off the sore that is racism in America today.
LAWT: Thanks again for the time, Lee, and best of luck with the film.
LD: Thanks, Kam.
August 22, 2013
Relax the grip you have on your attitudes this week, and just go with the flow. Ease up in full knowledge that goodness is being perfectly fulfilled. Let go of any feelings of insecurity or loss and bless the perfect moment. Soul Affirmation: I quiet all confusion Lucky Numbers: 1, 5, 24
Exhilaration is high and your mental abilities are amazing. Use your intuition to brainstorm your way to a highly creative idea that could change the way you make your living. Soul Affirmation: I give thanks for the chance to give. Lucky Numbers: 23, 46, 49
What you say and what you do are in harmony this week. The importance of your idea(s) comes through very clearly to others. They can see that you walk what you talk. Communicate your ideas through your values. Soul Affirmation: I give thanks for the goodness in people. Lucky Numbers: 6, 11, 18
You are the best person that you can be. Evaluate your strengths and celebrate them this week. So often when self-evaluating we concentrate on weaknesses well this week weaknesses don’t count. You are wonderful and you are becoming better everyday. Nobody is perfect and if we all were our journey would be boring at best. Soul Affirmation: I am patient with all that comes my way this week. Lucky Numbers: 9, 13, 45
Lots of communicating going on early in the week. You may even hear from someone you haven’t seen in ages. The long-distance will certainly make your heart grow fonder. You’ll want to catch up with someone you haven’t heard from, and will probably seek this person out via email. There’s a general feeling of catching up, from correspondence to current fashion. Soul Affirmation: Anticipation of a beautiful night will light up my week. Lucky Numbers: 31, 46, 55
Confusion exists over some question, and every time you think you’ve got the answer, circumstances will change and new information will come to your attention. Don’t worry, things are going to clear up and work out. Take it easy. Worry will create the exact problem that you’re worrying about how to avoid. Soul Affirmation: I remain conscious of other people’s feelings all week long. Lucky Numbers: 42, 45, 46
Cool jazz! Fly dark glasses! Give yourself a chance to show off. It’s good. Let others know how much you like yourself, and how many ways you can present yourself. All the ways are real. Start fixing the fantasy in your mind and make preparations so you can make the fantasy true just by stepping into it. Soul Affirmation: Seeing my past clearly this week gives me a clear vision of my future. Lucky Numbers: 10, 20, 45
Surprises are in order this week. Keep yourself open and alert for the unexpected. Put yourself in the presence of people whose spirits are akin to yours. The surprise is likely to be a spiritual one, an awakening, a realization. Soul Affirmation: I stay calm when all about me is in an uproar. Lucky Numbers: 14, 19, 20
You need to be with someone this week who does not place too many demands on you, and who is creative, intelligent, a good conversationalist, and highly spiritual. Perhaps you should be out looking for that person now with eyes wide open! You know what you need. Soul Affirmation: My mood is enhanced by the company I keep. Lucky Numbers: 8, 23, 26
Work calls and you’re not completely happy with current divisions of labor. Do more than your part as a member of the team and you’ll be glad that you did. Your reward will come from someone who also did more than their part. Soul Affirmation: Generosity of spirit brings generosity to me. Lucky Numbers: 4, 19, 20
Business looks good this week as you discover a new way of increasing exposure to your product. Even if the product is you. Let hope and optimism lead you into new beginnings and fresh starts. All vibes are good, Go! Soul Affirmation: When I feel good about myself, the world feels good to me. Lucky Numbers: 6, 15, 22
Everybody should be in a good mood this week, and you’ll want to join friends or family in sharing food and feelings. You may be asked to change your opinion about something you believe in. Make the change. It will enhance your spiritual growth. Soul Affirmation: Clinging to the old will inhibit my growth this week. Lucky Numbers: 9, 23, 37
August 22, 2013
By Kam Williams
LAWT Contributing Writer
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 1, 1966, Don Lemon anchors CNN Newsroom during weekend prime-time and serves as a correspondent across CNN/U.S. programming. Based out of the network's New York bureau, Don joined CNN in September 2006.
In 2008, he reported from Chicago in the days leading up to the presidential election, including an interview with Rahm Emanuel on the day he agreed to serve as President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff. He also interviewed Anne Cooper, the 106-year old voter Obama highlighted in his election night acceptance speech.
Don has covered many breaking news stories, including the George Zimmerman trial, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Philadelphia building collapse, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the Colorado Theater shooting, the death of Whitney Houston, the Inaugural of the 44th President in Washington, D.C., the death of Michael Jackson, and the Minneapolis bridge collapse, to name a few. And he anchored the network's breaking news coverage of the Japan tsunami, the Arab Spring, the death of Osama Bin Laden and the Joplin tornado.
Don began his career at WNYW in New York City as a news assistant while still attending Brooklyn College. He has won an Edward R. Murrow award for his coverage of the capture of the Washington, D.C. snipers, and an Emmy for a special report on real estate in Chicagoland.
In 2009, Ebony Magazine named him one of the 150 most influential Blacks in America. A couple of years later, he came out of the closet, and discussed his homosexuality in an autobiography entitled “Transparent.”
Don recently caught a lot of flak from a number of African-American pundits for agreeing with Bill O’Reilly’s criticisms of the black community, especially since he even suggested that the conservative talk show host hadn’t gone far enough.
Here, he talks about We Were There, an oral history of The March on Washington featuring the only surviving speaker Congressman John Lewis as well as Harry Belafonte, U.S. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, and other attendees. The special is set to debut on CNN on Friday, August 23 at 10:00p.m., 1:00a.m., and 4:00a.m.
LAWT: What interested you in doing a special about The March on Washington?
DL: We had been talking about it for awhile as the 50th anniversary approached, and I kept indicating that I would love to be a part of it. Somewhere, somehow, somebody heard that, Kam, and they said, “Don really wants to do this. Let’s have him do it.”
LAWT: Being an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Award-winner, I don’t think you’d have to beg too much.
DL: Just because I’m here at CNN, I never rest on my laurels and presume I can coast now. I still throw my hat in the ring and push to have a voice. I am the face of this documentary for CNN, and I think that says a lot about how far we’ve come. Here I am a young African-American who has a voice at this major network. That is part of the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream.
LAWT: Does the documentary have a theme?
DL: There are, for me, a few different themes. People like John Lewis and A. Philip Randolph put their lives on the line to participate. So, the first theme that stands out to me is courage. The second theme was the hope they exhibited in “the teeth of the most terrifying odds,” as James Baldwin said. Thirdly, Bayard Rustin, who many call The Architect of the Civil Rights Movement, finally gets his due. I think that’s a fair characterization to some degree. He’s the silent, strong man who made The March happen. But because he was gay and people tried to use that against him is probably why we don’t hear so much about him.
LAWT: I remember feeling admiration as a child for the folks from my neighborhood who were going down to The March on Washington, because of everyone’s palpable sense of concern for their safety.
DL: I think admiration is a good way of putting it. Whenever I see John Lewis, I invariably say, “Thank you.” And I will never stop. I don’t know how he’s still standing, because what he endured took courage and strength that I don’t know that I have.
LAWT: I interviewed Ellen DeGeneres the day after Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential Election. She felt his victory had been bittersweet because Proposition 8 had passed in California, banning gay marriage. The measure had succeeded with the help of the black community. I asked her whether she thought African-Americans would feel differently about homosexuality, if a famous black icon came out of the closet. How do you feel about that, as probably the most prominent black celebrity to come out?
DL: I don’t consider myself a celebrity. I’m just a journalist. Frank Ocean is a celebrity. Yeah, I was in the forefront, and took a lot of heat for it. I think the President’s evolution in terms of gay marriage has helped change many people’s minds. I think it’s empowering for a person to live an authentic life. It can only help when prominent and successful people of color come out and live authentically, because younger people, who are being bullied and might be questioning whether they should continue to live, might have second thoughts about taking their own lives. So, yeah, I think any celebrity who comes out can only help a young person struggling with the stigma.
LAWT: Do you think your coming out started a snowball among black gays?
DL: I don’t know. But I do think it helps the next person, because I get positive feedback every day from someone who has read my book.
LAWT: See, you’re not just a journalist. Plus look at all the blowback from your recent remarks agreeing with Bill O’Reilly about the black community.
DL: I don’t feel any blowback, but I will say this, whether you agree with whatever I said or not, at least I got a conversation started. That was my goal, and I think I accomplished it. I think if you’ve watched or read my work over the years, you know that I’m pretty much at the top in terms of taking on issues that have to do with African-Americans and profiling, and with race and racism. What I love about CNN is that, yes, we believe in diversity of bodies, but we also believe in a diversity of opinion. So, whether my bosses agree with what I said or not, it doesn’t matter. We’re in the business of journalism here. Journalism is about having a diversity of opinion. And just because I’m African-American does not mean I have to feel a certain way because I’m black. You don’t have true freedom until you allow a diversity of opinion and a diversity of voices.
LAWT: I always feel that I’m black, so whatever my opinion on an issue happens to be is a black opinion.
DL: That’s a good way of putting it. [Laughs]
LAWT: But do you fear being pigeonholed as a buddy of O’Reilly?
DL: There are many things that Bill O’Reilly and I disagree about. I just happen to agree with some of what he had to say on this issue, but not all of it. Does that mean I co-signed his whole being and existence? No?
LAWT: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
DL: Yes, what do you get from icons like Dr. King, Malcolm X and John Lewis? What I get from them is personal empowerment, personal responsibility, and that the only thing you truly own is your mind. And once you truly own your mind, you’re free. You can decide for yourself what is the best way to respond in the face of discrimination. How to carry yourself with dignity. What matters is how you think of yourself, and having presence of mind. Once you get that right, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you, because you know how to carry yourself in the world.
LAWT: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
DL: The last two books I read were: “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander,
LAWT: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
DL: Besides all the flaws, I see the kid that I once was. [Chuckles] Seriously, what stares back at me is someone who lives in a constant state of gratitude, regardless of what’s going on in my life. Just this morning, when I woke up, I walked into the bathroom, looked in the mirror and said, “Look how far you’ve come. I’m grateful for this day. And for those fat cheeks. And for the boldness that you have. And for the stances that you take. And I know that you’re going to be okay. And I want the next person who looks like you whether they’re 1 day-old or 15 years-old to be better than you and to have a better life.” I swear to God I just said that this morning in the mirror. So, it’s funny that you asked that question.
LAWT: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory in Baton Rouge?
DL: Sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen at about 3 or 4, watching her talking on a yellow telephone with a long cord. I spilled my drink, and my sister scolded me, “Every time you spill something!” And I asked my very understanding grandma’s permission to go to the bathroom.
LAWT: Can you give me a Don Lemon question?
DL: Yeah, this question has gotten to just about everyone I ask. It even made Wendy Williams cry. It’s, “Who do you think you are?”
LAWT: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
DL: Sleep. I loooooove to sleep. I also like salty, plain potato chips and Lindt dark chocolate with a touch of sea salt.
LAWT: What is your favorite dish to cook?
DL: Seafood gumbo, because I get to make it with my family over the holidays.
LAWT: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
DL: That we would not be so enamored with the slavery of equality, and be more enamored with the freedom of independence.
LAWT: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
DL: Being self-possessed. Having a strong sense of self.
LAWT: The Mike Pittman question: What was your best career decision?
DL: Leaving Louisiana.
LAWT: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
DL: Babies and puppies, because they’re so innocent, and they have their lives ahead of them.
LAWT: Makes me think of the saying: Youth is wasted on the young.
DL: To get back to O’Reilly and the whole saggy pants thing, it’s almost like, “Just take my advice, I’m an old guy. That’s probably not a good look. You might want to rethink that.” And then, invariably, something will happen to them in their career, and I hate to say, “I told you so, but…” I suppose people just have to go through things.
LAWT: Which reminds me of another saying: When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
DL: I like that. I’m going to use that on the air.
LAWT: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
DL: I think it’s great, if you want to follow in my footsteps, but I want you o be better than me, and you have to do it because you are passionately motivated by journalism and by a quest for the truth, not by a desire to be a celebrity. That’s not what this is all about. And you have to be thick-skinned, since you’re going to receive a lot of criticism, and that’s part of what being a journalist is. I feel really strongly about the oath that I’ve taken to inform and to tell the truth. I’m not a race protector, I’m a truth protector. The truth is the truth is the truth. And as long as you tell the truth, you’ll be okay in the end. A lot of people didn’t like Dr. King, either, especially the black establishment. So, you may not be liked, but you’ll be respected.