By ROBERT W. WELKOS
Seventeen-year-old Nicole Smolen is an actress and Christian who works in Hollywood.
Smolen has appeared on such network TV shows as “Criminal Minds” and “Brothers & Sisters” and has been cast in feature films and a national TV commercial. But it’s her role in a new small-budget indie film called “8 Days” that makes her particularly proud.
In the yet-to-be released film, Smolen plays Amber Stevens, a 16-year-old from a well-off home who sneaks away to a high school party with friends and winds up drugged, kidnapped, raped and forced by pimps into the netherworld of sex trafficking.
But because those gritty elements contained in the plot are only the beginning of the storyline, Smolen believes she is not compromising her Christian faith.
“It’s a very inspirational story and I believe it will touch a lot of lives” Smolen told HollywoodNews. “All the profits go to safe houses (for victims of human trafficking) and people in need. It’s not like we’re profiting off of this.”
The role appealed to her, she noted, because “it’s a film that will benefit people and inform (moviegoers) about human trafficking….I don’t want to just be a typical teenaged girl (in films) who’s crazy about boys. I want films that cause change in people’s lives.”
Smolen credits Actors, Models & Talent for Christ, a faith-based nonprofit based in Tyrone, Ga., with helping hone her talents to the point where she and her parents decided to sell their home in Lawrenceville, Ga., and move to L.A. so that she could pursue an acting career. She said she still remains friends with people she met through AMTC and the network helps keep her grounded in an industry where success is often accompanied by rejection and periods of unemployment.
Never heard of Actors, Models & Talent for Christ? Since 2012 alone, the organization says it has trained between 2,000 and 3,000 people in the in’s and out’s of the entertainment and modeling industries.
The training isn’t cheap. This summer’s intensive six-day International Shine Conference scheduled July 1-6 in Orlando, Fla., costs $3,895 to $4,995 per person (a $300 discount applies if paid in full).
To attend the Shine conference, performers must first audition and be accepted. These auditions are held in cities throughout the United States. The next L.A.-area auditions are scheduled for June 21 in Pasadena and July 19 in Anaheim.
AMTC has its roots in a modeling convention that began […]
Tag Archives: los angeles
By ROBERT W. WELKOS
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in partnership with the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), will present “Arab Cinema Classics,” a two-day screening series of the best in Arab film on Friday, June 13, and Saturday, June 21, at the Bing Theater in Los Angeles.
With input from nearly 500 prominent film critics, writers, novelists, academics and other arts professionals, DIFF in 2013 compiled a tally of the 100 greatest Arab films of all time. The Academy will screen three selections from DIFF’s Top 10:
“The Night of Counting the Years” (“Al-Mummia,” 1970)
Friday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m.
Director Shadi Abdel Salam’s film is based on the true story of the Horabat tribe’s 1881 plundering of pharaohs’ tombs in the ancient city of Thebes. Long unavailable for exhibition, the film was restored in 2009 by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation.
“Cairo Station” (“Bab el Hadid,” 1958)
Friday, June 13, at 9:20 p.m.
Directed by the internationally renowned Egyptian auteur Youssef Chahine, the film takes place at Cairo’s main railroad station, commonly referred to as the Iron Gate, and offers a tense portrait of life at the margins of Egyptian society.
“West Beirut” (“West Beyrouth,” 1998)
Saturday, June 21, at 7:30 p.m.
With special guest writer/director Ziad Doueiri
This directorial debut of Ziad Doueiri is set in the tumultuous spring of 1975, as the Lebanese Civil War unfolds. Following the lives of two teenagers from the Muslim section of Beirut, the film blends the personal and the historical into a vibrant coming-of-age drama.
The screening series is part of the Academy’s International Outreach initiative, which brings together Academy members representing a range of cinematic crafts with filmmakers and film lovers from around the world.
“The vibrancy of Arab cinema today owes much to the rich legacy and proud history of Arab filmmaking,” said Sid Ganis, chair of the International Outreach Committee. “The Academy is pleased to embrace some of the region’s most influential films and artists through this Los Angeles presentation.”
Tickets for each evening of Arab Cinema Classics is $5 general admission and $3 for Academy members, LACMA Film Club members and students with a valid ID. Tickets may be purchased starting June 3 online at www.oscars.org. The Bing Theater is located at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art campus. For more information, call (310) 247-3600 or visit www.oscars.org.
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The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is the leading […]
Anderson Cooper sat down for an exclusive interview with Donald Sterling today in Los Angeles.
Below sound bites from the interview.
Donald Sterling: I’m not a racist, I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I’m here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I’ve hurt. And I’ve hurt so many people. So many innocent people and I’ve hurt myself. you know I spoke to a girl that I was fond of. When I listen to that tape, I don’t even know how I can say words like that. I’m so sorry, I’m so apologetic
Anderson Cooper: What are you sorry about.
DS: well I’m sorry that so many people are hurt. I never dreamed that this could happen it’s a terrible, terrible nightmare.
My players, they didn’t need this. they didn’t need this cloud over their head.
their good people and I love them and respect them and I would always be there for them.
AC: when you saw them..
DS: And for them to hear that I’m a possible racist is so painful to me cuz I’m not a racist and I’ve never been a racist. it’s not me.
AC: when you saw the players wear their warm up jerseys in reverse so the Clippers name wasn’t on, what did you think?
DS: I really didn’t pay attention, they are clippers and their mine and I’m theirs. that’s how I feel. I would do anything for them, I made a mistake I hope it’s in their heart to forgive me for that mistake.
I don’t know why the girl had me say those things.
AC: You’re saying you were set up?
DS: Well yes, I was baited I mean that’s not the way I talk. I don’t talk about people for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things, I don’t talk about people.
AC: do you know how the tape got released?
AC: do you think she did it?
DS: I don’t know, an 80 year old man is kind of foolish, and I’m kind of foolish. I thought she liked me and really cared for me. I guess being 51 years older than her, I was diluting myself.
AC: do you trust her now?
DS: no, I don’t trust her and I just wish I could ask her why? And if she was just setting me up, I think that people say she was taping me for 2 years. So maybe I was just […]
The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) announced it is pulling its annual Global Women’s Rights Awards, co-chaired by Jay and Mavis Leno, from the Beverly Hills Hotel because the hotel’s owner, the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, is imposing a Taliban-like Brunei penal code, set to go into effect in three stages beginning on May 1, that includes the stoning to death of gay men and lesbians and the public flogging of women who have abortions.
Instead of holding its annual event at the hotel on May 5, FMF has joined with gay and lesbian groups in protesting this gross violation of human rights and will hold a rally at noon on May 5 across from the hotel, in the park on Sunset Boulevard, urging the Sultan to rescind the new penal code which has been condemned by human rights groups and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. FMF will hold the Global Awards event on the evening of May 5 at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, Los Angeles.
“We cannot hold a human rights and women’s rights event at a hotel whose owner would institute a penal code that fundamentally violates women’s rights and human rights,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal.
“‘Kill-a-gay’ laws, or laws that allow the flogging of women for abortion, violate international law and have no place in civilized society,” said Feminist Majority Foundation Board Member Mavis Leno. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed deep concern about the new penal code and stated that such draconian punishments would contravene international law and international human rights.
FMF today launched a massive petition drive and social media campaign calling on the government of Brunei to immediately rescind the new code and asking the United Nations to take action if these laws go into effect as planned.
“The United Nations must condemn the government of Brunei’s plans and explore additional options, including sanctions, if Brunei fails to rescind this decree,” added Kathy Spillar, executive Vice President of the FMF and the event director.
The new penal code is set to be implemented in three phases over three years. The first phase, beginning tomorrow, will include fines and prison sentences. The second phase includes corporal punishment such as amputations and flogging women who have abortions. The stoning to death of gay men and lesbians is slated for the third phase.
Brunei is an industrialized, […]
Joey Berlin from the Broadcast Film Critics Association – Critics’ Choice Awards
By ROBERT W. WELKOS
In 1995, Joey Berlin and Rod Lurie, two entertainment reporters and film critics who had written for rival publications, joined forces to create the Broadcast Film Critics Assn.
While Lurie would go on to carve out a successful Hollywood career as a screenwriter and director with such films as “The Contender” and “The Last Castle,” Berlin hasn’t faired too badly, either, as the president of the BFCA.
Starting with 44 members the first year, the BFCA’s voting membership today hovers between 285 and 290 and the organization bills itself as the largest film critics group in the U.S. and Canada.
At the same time, the BFCA created the Critics’ Choice Awards, a glitzy tux-and-gown gala now televised on the CW Network that features red carpet celebrity arrivals, drawing worldwide media attention and plenty of Oscar buzz since the show coincides with the run-up to the Academy Awards.
But as the show has catapulted the broadcast critics into the Oscar conversation each movies awards season, tax records show that the nonprofit group Berlin leads has paid his privately-owned company, Berlin Entertainment, Inc., hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for production services.
Read prior Broadcast Film Critics Association story here at Hollywoodnews.com
IRS Form 990 filings list Berlin Entertainment, Inc., receiving a combined $992,270 from the nonprofit between fiscal 2009 and 2011.
Berlin notes that his members seem to be satisfied with the job he’s doing since he has been repeatedly re-elected president every two years.
The tax files show that Berlin’s base compensation and benefits were a combined $1,297,133 for the three-year period spanning fiscal 2009 to 2011. But his compensation is listed as coming from “related organizations” and not directly from the BFCA, according to the Form 990 documents, which all nonprofits are required to file with the IRS to qualify for tax-exempt status.
When asked about his sizeable compensation, Berlin told HollywoodNews.com in a recent telephone interview: “I did this for five years for zero compensation, but this is what I do all day, every day. I’m really proud of what we’ve built and accomplished….
“My compensation has grown with the growth of the show,” he adds without apology. “The television show is an incredible benefit to the members.” He notes that these benefits include such things as access and awards screeners. “That seems a comfortable arrangement for everybody.”
“Despicable Me Minion Mayhem,” an original 3D Ultra-HD adventure, and “Super Silly Fun Land,” an immersive carnival setting – both based on Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s worldwide blockbuster “Despicable Me” franchise – celebrated their dynamic grand opening today at Universal Studios HollywoodSM. Among the many surprises inspired by the beloved films, guests will be “turned into” an army of iconic Minions and embark on a secret training mission.
“Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” officially opens to the public at Universal Studios Hollywood on Saturday, April 12, 2014.
The world premiere was attended by many Minions parading along the yellow carpet, who were joined by Chris Meledandri, founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment; Ron Meyer, Vice Chairman of NBCUniversal; Tom Williams, Chairman & CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts; and Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti made a special guest appearance to show support for the theme park’s newest addition, speaking to an enthusiastic crowd about Universal Studios Hollywood’s long-term impact on tourism in the region.
Also in attendance were “Despicable Me” series stars, including Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Dana Gaier (Edith) and Elsie Fisher (Agnes), who were joined by versatile entertainer and host of EXTRA, Mario Lopez; the cast from NBC’s “Crisis,” including Stevie Lynn Jones, Lance Gross, Joshua Erenberg, Max Martini and Max Schneider; TGT recording artist, Tank; HBO’s “Band of Brothers” star Neal McDonough; Syfy’s “Face Off” host, McKenzie Westmore; and Ultimate Fighting Champion Chuck Lidell.
“The irreverent humor, endearing characters and storyline that have captivated movie-goers worldwide makes ‘Despicable Me’ a perfect match for our theme park,” said Kurzweil. “This imaginative new attraction will not only take guests on a hilarious and heartwarming adventure that captures the spirit of the film, but will also invite them to embrace their ‘inner Minion’ – that mischievous alter-ego that hides within all of us. As the film franchise continues to break new ground as a modern day classic, so too will ‘Despicable Me Minion Mayhem’ as yet another marquee Universal Studios Hollywood attraction.”
Voiced by the film’s original stars, the fully immersive motion-simulator ride features the lovable cast of characters who have resonated with audiences across the globe: (former?) super-villain Gru (Steve Carell), his adorable girls – Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) – and an army of unpredictable Minions, voiced by Pierre Coffin.
“‘Despicable Me Minion Mayhem’ and ‘Super Silly Fun Land’ bring our movies to […]
“Oculus” didn’t scare away the crowds as fans lined Hollywood Boulevard outside of the TCL Chinese Theatre Thursday night to get a glimpse of the stars attending the Los Angeles premiere of the much buzzed about horror film opening next Friday.
The red carpet showcased the film’s up-and-coming young cast: Karen Gillan, sporting short hair and head-to-toe sequins, along with costars Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan.
Relativity Media is banking on a fright-induced comeback to spark the box office.
A carefully strategized ad campaign and social media marketing targeted toward a young, edgy demographic have given this film steam as it heads into it’s opening weekend.
The film, directed by Mike Flanagan, tells the story of a woman who tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon.
Photos by John Baxter
By ROBERT W. WELKOS
The producers of a new biopic about the late labor leader Cesar Chavez are rushing to tamp down a flickering controversy appearing on Latino social media over whether unionized workers were fired and non-union personnel employed on the film.
The allegation is being vigorously disputed by lead producerPablo Cruz, who said the production complied with all union regulations andthat all the actors, either those from the U.S. or from Mexico, were unionmembers. He did concede, however, that extras hired in Mexico were non-unionsince there is no equivalent of an extras union in Mexico.
‘If there was a union for extras (in Mexico), we would havehad them, but there wasn’t one,’ Cruz said.
Cesar Chavez, which is directed by Diego Luna and stars Michael Pena, America Ferrara, Rosario Dawson and John Malkovich,is scheduled to be released March 28 in more than 600 theaters by Pantelion Films.
The movie was shot predominately in Sonora, Mexico, for reasons that had to do with the grape-picking season and how differently grapesare harvested today in the Central Valley of California, as opposed to decades ago when Cesar Chavez was organizing farm workers.
Cruz also rejected claims that they were a ‘runaway’ production. ‘We are a Mexican production company. We are the company who managed to finance this film. We are not a U.S. company.’
If the union/non-union issues are not satisfactorily dealt with, they could impact the film’s perception, especially in the Latino community, where Chavez’s struggle to organize California farm workers lifted him in many eyes into the Latino equivalent of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The controversy, which has been around for a few years, erupted anew earlier this week when the website Latino Rebels published a story under the headline: ‘Critics of New Chavez Movie Allege Producers Used Non-Union Workers and Outsourced Workto Mexico.’
The source of this allegation was an L.A. activist namedChamba Sanchez, who wrote on his Facebook page that he had received an emailasking if he would help promote the film. He derisively questioned why he would want Luna to get rich?
‘Furthermore,’ Sanchez posted, ‘I am currently researching into allegations that people behind this movie fired unionized workers and outsourced part or the entire production to Mexico. This is quite disturbing. If this is the case, Cesar Chavez must be spinning in his grave. And a bigger question: Why his family would agree to this?’
‘We never fired anybody to hire a non-union […]
The comedy “This Is The End” follows six friends trapped in a house after a series of strange and catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles.
As the world unravels outside, dwindling supplies and cabin fever threaten to tear apart the friendships inside. Eventually, they are forced to leave the house, facing their fate and the true meaning of friendship and redemption.
Check the trailer below
Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
SCREEN STORY & SCREENPLAY BY
Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver
Nathan Kahane, Nicole Brown, Jason Stone, Barbara A. Hall, Ariel Shaffir, Kyle Hunter
James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson with Michael Cera and Emma Watson
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Directors Guild of America today announced that the 66th Annual DGA Awards will take place on Saturday, January 25, 2014
The Directors Guild of America today announced that the 66th Annual DGA Awards will take place on Saturday, January 25, 2014 in the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles.
77 years since its founding in 1936, the DGA has fought for the economic and creative rights of its members; protected their ability to financially benefit from the reuse of their work; established strong pension and health plans; and established jurisdiction in new technologies and distribution platforms. Today we represent 15,000 directors and members of the directorial team working in film, television, commercials, new media and other audiovisual media.