This story on Antonio Banderas first appeared in TheWrap’s Cannes magazine.
Salvador Mallo, the main character in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory,” is not Almodóvar himself. Sure, he’s a film director from Spain who dresses like Almodóvar, lives in a house that looks like Almodóvar’s house, makes movies with the same obsessions as Almodóvar, family and sexuality foremost among them, and even has spiky hair reminiscent of Almodóvar’s.
But there’s a difference, said Antonio Banderas, who ought to know. The two have been close collaborators since they began making movies together in 1981, when Almodóvar was launching a transgressive career that would help Spain shake off the repressive 36-year reign of dictator Francisco Franco. Their eight films together include “Labyrinth of Passion,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” and “The Skin I Live In.”
Banderas wasn’t imitating his old friend when they made “Pain and Glory,” the story of a director who reflects on a tumultuous life as he tries to find peace and salvation in his art and with the people who’ve impacted him along the way. But at the same time, he knew that the character was deeply rooted in Almodóvar’s own life. “Pain and Glory” is a very simple movie, Banderas said more than once in an interview about the film, which screens in the main competition at Cannes.
And achieving that simplicity, he added, was very complicated.
What is special to you about your relationship with Pedro?
When we were working together on the first movies, those were only five years after Franco died, and Spain was still under the influence of that. So in terms of morality and equality in our society, there were a number of things that Pedro Almodóvar helped change, and I was not only a witness to that, but a participant in that.
It was very special to be part of it. We are lucky to have him. You can count directors like this with all the fingers of two hands. Maybe one hand.
How did you two meet?
He was ingenious and funny, and when he left he said to me, “You have a very romantic face, you should do movies.” And I asked the other actors, “Who is that?”
They said, “His name is Pedro Almodóvar. He made one movie and will never do another.” [Laughs] My country is filled with prophets.
You’ve now made eight movies with him, going back to “Labyrinth of Passion.” Has he changed much as a director?
We worked with the same people — we were the Almodóvar group, we were recognized in Madrid. We were the Almodóvars.
But then I didn’t work with him for more than 20 years. And when I went back to do “The Skin I Live In” in 2011, I went there with a backpack filled with all I’d learned for 22 years. And he said, “No. I understand that works for you, but it doesn’t work for me. We have to deconstruct you and construct you in a different way.”
And that was painful. We confronted each other at the time, but at the end of the process I saw the movie and I understood him, I understood what he was looking for. There was something I didn’t even know I had. It made me think a lot about my own career, and about how I can draw from and reflect about the things I’ve done without falling back on the things that make me comfortable.
So did you go into “Pain and Glory” with a different attitude?
So we started working from a completely different place to create this character. The whole movie is very simple, almost minimalist. It’s like embroidering something little by little — nothing big, counting very much on economy.
But you’re also playing a character who is largely based on Pedro himself.
So we started playing the game, and I immediately realized we were going somewhere new. It was beautiful to go on that road, because I would see how Pedro was almost taking weight off his shoulders as we went on. It was a very personal thing we were doing, and he was becoming happier and happier.
He solved problems with his family, with actors, with ex-boyfriends, with many different things and different people. He was lighter by the end of the movie. I saw Pedro Almodóvar leave happier than we ever saw before.
The setting is designed after his house, the clothes are his, your hair is sort of like his… Were there moments that just felt too weird?
Yeah, he put me in the colorful clothes he wears, and we were working in a place that was an imitation of his house. And sometimes he said to me, “If you want to do an imitation, you can do it.” I said, “No, no, no. That would be a pastiche. I want to look at things–for example, your solitude. I am very aware of the problems you have to solve with family, especially your mom…” There were a number of things I knew, because I knew him as a friend. But I didn’t want to go to an imitation.
I read some comments that he has made that made me kind of happy. He said, “I was watching the movie and thought, ‘Oh, my God, I am imitating Antonio performing me.'” [Laughs] I treated it like a character.
I couldn’t be all the time thinking, “Oh, my God, I’m playing the guy who’s giving me direction.” Otherwise it is going to be too much pressure. I couldn’t work like that. I preferred to take it as a character with very specific coordinates.
Was your process itself any different than usual?
The creation process is longer than people think. Even though the movie seems very simple and improvised, it’s nothing like that. Pedro Almodóvar is responsible for every word, every comma. That’s something that actors find hard with Pedro. It was a complicated process to do something simple.
The character is a man who finds some kind of salvation from pain and misery in his art. Do you identify with that?
Pedro has said that this film is your “rebirth as an actor,” and called it “the start of a new era” for you.
But it’s true that my history with Almodóvar is completely different than anything I have done before. Only the eight movies that I have done with Pedro — just for that, it was worth it for me to be an actor.
I always say to the people of my country, “If you want to know ourselves, look at our artists. Look at Goya, look at Picasso, read the poet García Lorca and then you will know what you are.” And I am pretty sure that in the future, somebody is going to say that about Pedro Almodóvar, as somebody who showed us how Spain thought and felt at a particular time. And I like that I was there, that I was part of that.
Read the rest of TheWrap’s Cannes magazine.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/15/19
Executives at four major publishing houses said they had shot down a proposed memoir by Woody Allen that had shopped late last year, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
The publishing executives, none of whom were named by the Times, all said they decided not to make an offer for the book, citing the marketing challenges in the #MeToo era.
Several executives described the Oscar-winning filmmaker as “toxic” to the Times since the resurfacing of old accusations that Allen inappropriately touched Dylan Farrow, his then-7-year-old daughter with ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow. (Investigators found no evidence of abuse, and Allen has repeatedly denied the accusations.)
Reps for Allen did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap; his longtime agent, ICM Partners’ John Burnham, told the Times: “For the 30 years that I’ve worked with Woody, the standard mantra on anything is, ‘I can’t discuss his business.'”
Despite Allen’s insistence on his innocence, he has increasingly become a pariah in Hollywood with A-listers like Michael Caine, Timothée Chalamet Ellen Page and others all publicly expressing their regrets for working with him in the past.
In February, Allen filed a $68 million suit against Amazon after it canceled a four-movie deal, including the already completed A Rainy Day in New York,” starring Chalamet. Allen argued that the media giant knew full well about Dylan Farrow’s decades-old accusations but proceeded with the deal anyway.
“There simply was no legitimate ground for Amazon to renege on its promises,” the suit reads. Amazon has insisted that that Allen’s poor response to the MeToo movement as well as a rising tide criticism from stars was the real reason the film was shelved, according to the Times.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/3/19
Spain's third parliamentary election in less than four years has done little to dispel uncertainty over the political future of the eurozone's fourth largest economy.
www.foxnews.com | 4/29/19
Antigua and Barbuda will host the eighteenth regional meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) from September 25 to 27.
CaribNOG is a vibrant community of professionals committed to improving the region’s networks, expanding the technical capacity of those who build and secure them, and strengthening the interconnections among all actors in the Internet space.
Called CaribNOG 18, the upcoming meeting is themed “Securing Caribbean Networks,” and will focus on a range of stability, security and resiliency issues that are central to Internet development. IT and security professionals, network administrators, telecommunications and computer engineers, Internet exchange point operators and data centre managers from across the region are expected to attend.
Stephen Lee, CaribNOG Program Director invited all interested stakeholders to submit proposals for topics, lightning presentations or full sessions for the consideration of the CaribNOG 18 coordination team.
“It’s an opportunity for anyone with an interest in Caribbean development to let us know how the community of people who take responsibility for developing the Internet in the region can focus our attention, efforts and resources, to align with the evolving development priorities of the region,” Lee said.
Meeting registration, provisional agenda, as well as a call for presentations and sponsors, will be available online soon.
Bevil Wooding, Caribbean Outreach Liaison at the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) and one of the founders of CaribNOG, announced the date and venue of the upcoming meeting on the closing day of CaribNOG 17, held at Hilton Barbados Resort, Bridgetown from April 10 to 12. The September meeting is one of several highlights of the group’s 2019 calendar.
On April 30 and May 1, CaribNOG will be a part of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s “Caribbean FutureScape” event at Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port of Spain, which aims to provide participants with an immersive and interactive experience demonstrating the possibility of a fully integrated digital Caribbean.
On June 3 and 4, CaribNOG will work alongside the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Internet Society, to support an “ARIN in the Caribbean” outreach event targeting network operators, business leaders, regulators, and government officials in Nassau, Bahamas. Since 2018, the “ARIN in the Caribbean” series has touched eight Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and the US Virgin Islands.
On June 11 to 13, CaribNOG will support the fifth meeting of the Caribbean Peering and Interconnection Forum, called CarPIF 5, to be held in St George’s, Grenada. CarPIF is a CaribNOG initiative held in collaboration with the Internet Society as well as local, regional and international stakeholders. At CarPIF, Internet service providers, data centre managers, Internet exchange point coordinators, content delivery network operators and technology professionals come together to exchange practical knowledge and strike deals to develop and improve the region’s Internet sector. Content providers such as Google, Akamai and Facebook have regularly attended at the event.
Apart from its upcoming events, the CaribNOG community will also focus on a range of capacity-building activities, including collaborative research projects, resource development, expanded communication channels and new outreach initiatives throughout the year.
Written by Gerard Best, Development Journalist
www.circleid.com | 4/26/19
Remember when Amazon was criticized for not turning a profit? Those days are a distant memory, after the e-commerce giant smashed Wall Street earnings expectations when it reported its first quarter financials on Thursday afternoon.
Amazon reported a company-record quarterly profit of $3.6 billion — a 100% increase from the same period last year — and earnings of $7.09 per share, easily lapping analyst estimates of 4.72 EPS. It’s quarterly revenue of $59.7 billion matched Wall Street estimates and marked an increase of nearly 17 percent year-over-year.
Amazon shares increased 1.5% in after-hours trading, hitting $1,930 per share. The Seattle-based company has a market cap of about $940 billion on Thursday, putting it within striking distance of passing the $1 trillion threshold once again. Amazon became the second company ever, after Apple, to hit the $1 trillion valuation last September.
Amazon noted Fire TV now has 30 million users in its note to shareholders. Last week, Amazon and Google put an end to their long-running feud, with Amazon’s Prime Video app coming to Chromecast and Google-owned YouTube coming to Amazon’s Fire TV.
Amazon Studios greenlit more than 20 new and continuing Prime Original Series during the quarter, including the third season of “Jack Ryan” starring John Krasinski, as well as a number of international series like “La Templanza” in Spain and “El Presidente” in Mexico.
The company’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services, made $7.7 billion in revenue and accounted for more than half of the company’s quarterly profit. AWS sales increased 41% year-over-year.
In February, Amazon notably canceled plans for a second headquarters located in New York City. The company said it made the decision after “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence Amazon had said the new campus would employ up to 25,000 people. The company’s similar “HQ2” campus in Arlington, Virginia is still expected to open.
Heading into Thursday afternoon, Amazon’s stock had increased more than 20% since the beginning of the year. At about $1,900 per share when the market closed Thursday, Amazon was nearing its all-time high of $2,012 per share, set last summer.
Amazon will hold a webcast at 5:30 p.m. ET to discuss its earnings.
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www.thewrap.com | 4/26/19
With ticket presale records smashed around the globe, it feels like a guarantee that “Avengers: Endgame” will supplant “Avengers: Infinity War” as the biggest box office opening ever. But could it actually gross $1 billion in its opening weekend?
The fact that Marvel Studios’ titanic blockbuster even has a puncher’s chance of hitting this mark speaks to the overwhelming demand that it has generated. Last year, “Infinity War” broke new ground on how big a blockbuster could open to with a $257.6 million domestic opening and a $640 million global launch. Both of those records are expected to be left in the dust.
But reaching $1 billion would require “Endgame” to soar beyond even the sky-high expectations that box office analysts are projecting. First, the film’s domestic opening would likely have to exceed $300 million, which would be a 16% increase in grosses over what “Infinity War” made in its opening. For now, analysts are keeping relatively cautious, projecting a still-record $270 million start.
So how could “Avengers: Endgame” make the jump from $270 million to $300 million? Boxoffice Magazine analyst Shawn Robbins says that premium formats will play a major factor. Among the industry-record 4,600 screens that will present “Endgame” this weekend are more than 3,900 3D locations, 410 IMAX screens, 785 Premium Large Format screens and 250 D-Box/4D locations. The surcharge to see “Endgame” on any of these formats will give its weekend totals an extra boost.
“In many areas of the country, moviegoers pay twice as much for an IMAX, Dolby, or other PLF ticket as they do for a standard screen. As those continue selling out morning and late-night shows around the standard matinee and evening business, the probability of unprecedented box office sales increases,” said Robbins.
Another factor is the extra screenings that cinemas in major markets have made to answer the overwhelming demand. On Monday, AMC announced that 67 locations in top 10 markets will stay open at least overnight on Thursday with after-dark “Endgame” screenings, with 17 staying open for more than 72 hours. Likely only the most die-hard and desperate Marvel fans will want to see “Endgame” at 2 a.m. on Friday, but the creation of these extra screenings provides another source of revenue for the film that could push it to $300 million.
Finally, there’s the one factor that analysts can’t predict: the word of mouth. Reactions from the film’s premiere have been predictably enthusiastic, and in general, Marvel Studios knows how to satisfy both critics and audiences. But if “Endgame” provides an ending that leaves fans gushing and ensures weeks of water-cooler talk, it could trigger even further walk-up business from casual audiences.
The shocking ending to “Infinity War,” capped by Peter Parker’s heartbreaking death, became a cultural touchstone akin to the Red Wedding on “Game of Thrones.” The memes and fan theories that it spawned became such a social juggernaut that “Endgame” has barely had to promote itself beyond a trailer revealing its title, and a handful of additional trailers and TV spots with footage taken almost entirely from just the first 20 minutes of the film.
If “Endgame” provides an even bigger dose of catharsis for audiences — possibly through the expected exit for Chris Evans and Captain America — it will only cause walk-up sales on Saturday and Sunday to further surge.
This word of mouth will also be essential outside the U.S., where “Endgame” has also set presale records in major overseas markets. Presale totals in China have reached $90 million, blowing past the $65 million in presales for “Infinity War.” In the U.K., where the ticketing website for Vue crashed within minutes of tickets going on sale, analytics firm Applaudience projects that the film will break the country’s $63.7 million opening weekend record, set by “Spectre” in 2015.
If all of these countries see an opening weekend higher than “Infinity War,” a $1 billion opening will happen. The combined global opening total for “Infinity War” reached $830 million, including the $190 million made in China one week after its opening in all other major territories.
Unlike “Infinity War,” “Endgame” will release in China on the same weekend as the rest of the world. If we take that $830 million figure as a baseline, then a $300 million U.S. opening and a $250 million Chinese opening would push “Endgame” to $933 million. A U.K. opening of $71 million — roughly $30 million higher than “Infinity War” — would bring the total to $963 million and leave “Endgame” needing $37 million more than what “Infinity War” made from all other countries to hit that elusive $1 billion opening mark.
In other words, “Endgame” would have to set all-time opening weekend records in possibly dozens of countries. But if there’s any team that could do it, any cast of characters that could assemble literally hundreds of millions of moviegoers around the world in a single weekend, it’s the Avengers.
“It seems like an insane number. To get there, it requires a perfect storm: record capacity, strong word of mouth beyond opening night, and a high share of premium screen ticket sales,” said Robbins. “But this is about as four-quad as a film gets.”
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www.thewrap.com | 4/23/19
On December 20, Russian President Putin started his 14th, large press conference. Interestingly, on December 20 Russia marks the Day of the Security Officer, which has been commonly known in Russia as the "Chekist Day" ('Chekist' is a Russian colloquialism for 'KGB officer'). After the press conference, Putin will attend a gala evening dedicated to this date.A record number of journalists - more than 1,700 people - were accredited for the press conference. Traditionally, Putin started the press conference with a brief report about the economic situation in Russia. The president said that Russia's GDP grew by 1.7 percent over the year. The real level of wages was growing, while the inflation rate remained on an acceptable level. As of 2018, it will exceed the target level of 4 percent and will make up 4.1-4.2 percent. The unemployment level in the country decreased to 4.8 percent having thus set an all-time low, Putin said. Life expectancy in the Russian Federation in 2018 increased to 72.9 years compared to 72.7 years last year.The budget surplus of the Russian Federation in 2018 will make up 2.1 percent of GDP.Putin stressed that Russia needs a breakthrough, a leap into the new technological order. This requires resources, which the government and the administration are looking for. Answering a question of whether the Russian economy is stagnating, Putin said that the government did not rely on "mechanical" calculations in its forecasts. The government plans a growth of three percent by 2021. Fluctuations are possible, but it is important to enter another league of economies, Putin said, adding that Russia's goal is to become the fifth economy in the world.Speaking about the work of the Russian government, Putin said that he was "generally pleased" with the work that the Russian government conducts under the chairmanship of Dmitry Medvedev. According to the head of state, the budget surplus of 2.1 percent of GDP is a good indicator of the work of the government.Answering the question of whether the fiscal burden on Russian people was too high and how it could be related to the policy of the government that raises VAT, housing and utility tariffs for people and imposes a tax on self-employed individuals, Putin said that in many countries VAT makes up 20% (Russia is raising VAT from 18 to 20 percent from January 1, 2019). Putin said that the change in the VAT rate was necessary to reduce oil and gas budget deficit. He said that during the recent economic crises, Russia was forced to spend petrodollars, which led to an increase in the oil and gas deficit. It became possible to reduce it to 6.6 percent.Answering a question about fears of a new global military conflict, a global nuclear disaster and a world war, Putin noted that the world was underestimating the danger of a nuclear war during the recent years. The danger of such a scenario in the world is being obscured, which may lead to the death of human civilisation and even the whole planet, President Putin said. In the West, there is an idea of using low yield nuclear weapons, but the use of such weapons can lead to a global catastrophe, the Russian leader stressed.Answering a question about unnecessary conflicts between authorities and representatives of the younger generation, about dispersing rap concerts, banning young people from participating in rallies, Putin said that young people make the foundation of today's and future Russia.Yet, there are different kinds of young people, he said. He referred to the story of young paratroopers, who were fighting to death with hordes of terrorists. "Out of several dozen, only six of them remained, and they were fighting against two thousand militants," said Putin making a reference to the feat of 90 paratroopers from Pskov, who engaged in a battle with 2,500 Chechen terrorists near the village of Ulus-Kert in 2000. In addition to young military men, there are a lot of young volunteers and people who are engaged in search and rescue activities. "Those people make the stronghold of today and the future of Russia," Putin said, adding that "there are also talented musicians."He then condemned the drug propaganda in rap songs. "Do we want to degrade? In no way this should be encouraged. At the same time, one should counteract differently here," he said. Therefore, the Russian president considers the arrests of rap singers and the abortion of their concerts unnecessary, since such conflicts are counterproductive."Yet, there is nothing good in the fact that they use foul language in their songs - but let them sing so," Putin noted. "Art does not exist to indulge sordid values," he added. Speaking about the state of affairs in Ukraine, attempts to solve political problems of the Donbass by force are doomed to failure, Vladimir Putin said when answering a question from a correspondent of Ukrainian news agency UNIAN, who asked the Russian president how much money Russia spends on the Donbass, whose people Russia treats like slaves."Attempts to solve political issues with the help of force, and we can see that this is exactly what the Ukrainian authorities have been doing for several years, are doomed to failure. It must be understood," Putin said.Putin also said that Russian-Ukrainian relations are not going to go back to normal until there were Russophobes in power in Ukraine. "As long as there are Russophobes in power in Kiev, who do not understand what the interests of their own people are, an abnormal situation like this will continue regardless of who is in power in the Kremlin," Putin said.At the same time, Russia is interested in peace and prosperity in Ukraine, as Ukraine remains one of the largest economic partners of the Russian Federation. The trade turnover between Russia and Ukraine has increased compared to 2017. "This is not strange, because it is a natural connection, and these natural connections will someday make their presence felt," he added.Russia will continue providing humanitarian and other assistance to people living in the Donbass. "We really provide humanitarian, other type of assistance and support to people who live in this territory. We are doing it so that they do not get crushed, torn and eaten there. And we will do it further," said the head of state.It was not Russia, but the Ukrainian authorities that set up the blockade between the Donbass and the rest of Ukraine. "It is them, who shell the people, whom they consider their own citizens. Every day people get killed there - civilian people," Putin said. Maria Butina, a Russian citizen, who was arrested in the USA, was not executing any tasks for the Russian authorities, no matter what she may say. Therefore, there are no grounds for accusations against Butina in the United States, Putin said. "They force her to confess, but I do not really understand what she can confess there, because she was not fulfilling any assignments of the state bodies of Russia, and I can responsibly declare this to you, no matter what she's saying there under the influence of threats of imprisonment for 12-15 years," said Putin. "I don't understand why they jailed her. There is simply no reason for it," Putin added.Speaking about the detention of foreign citizens in the United States, Putin said that Moscow would not be acting on an "eye for an eye" principle to subsequently exchange prisoners.Speaking about the case of Skripal poisoning, Putin said that there was nothing to comment on - Skripal and his daughter are alive, but the media hype does not subside. Thus, the Skripal case is only a pretext for an attack on Moscow, Putin said. "If there had been no Skripals, they would have come up with something else just to contain the development of Russia as a competitor," Putin said. At the same time, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead, but no one introduces sanctions, the Russian president recalled, pointing out the policy of double standards in the West.The Russian president believes that the Russian economy has adapted itself to international sanctions. Generally, Russia has always been living under sanctions which the West impose on Russia at the time when Russia's power and international influence grows. The West has lost the Russian market, and the number of jobs in the West has declined. The unemployment level in Russia is only 4.8 percent, while in EU countries, for example, in Spain, it reaches 15 percent, he said. Moreover, restrictions forced the Russians to think different in many areas. The share of transport engineering currently makes up more than 90 percent, while sales to the foreign market have increased.Answering a question about growing nostalgia for the times of the USSR among the Russians, President Vladimir Putin said that he considered the restoration of socialism in Russia impossible."I think it is impossible," he said. "A profound change in society excludes the restoration of socialism ... this is impossible," the president added.Speaking about elements of socialism that can and even need to be restored, Putin noted the equitable distribution of resources, the aspiration to reduce the level of poverty to a minimum, ensure medical and educational services to people on acceptable conditions. "We are carrying out such policies now. This is what our national projects aim to," Putin said. With regard to the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, Putin said that the United States withdraws troops from Afghanistan every year. The withdrawal of US troops from Syria, is not yet visible either, he noted.Putin said that there was no need for US troops to be present in Syria. "Let us not forget that the presence of US troops in Syria is illegitimate. The UN Security Council had not confirmed the presence of US troops in Syria. It is only the decision of the UN Security Council or the invitation from the legitimate government of Syria that can make the presence of a foreign military contingent in Syria legal," Putin added. Vladimir Putin agreed with Donald Trump who said that the United States contributed to the destruction of terrorists in Syria. "I agree with Donald here," he said but recalled that Russia had taken immense efforts to destroy terrorists."Despite all discrepancies, there's still quite a constructive dialogue between our specialists, our military men and special services to resolve acute problems in the struggle against terrorism in Syria," Putin said. Photo credits: kremlin.ru
www.pravdareport.com | 12/20/18
Global streaming giant Netflix has boarded Korean drama series “Memories of the Alhambra.” It stars Hyun Bin (“Secret Garden,” “My Lovely Sam-Soon”) and Park Shin-hye (“Pinocchio,” “Heirs”). “Memories of the Alhambra” is a suspense romance drama that revolves around an investment company CEO who visits Granada, Spain, for a business trip and gets involved in a mysterious […]
variety.com | 11/15/18
“Ah, my hungry dogs, after my bones,” grizzled family patriarch Abraham Guerrero, who controls Spain’s cocaine trade, greets his second son, Tomás, in the first episode of “Gigantes.” But this dog has news: Daniel, his older brother, has set up his own drug business. Abraham and Tomás shop Daniel to the police as Daniel organizes […]
variety.com | 10/16/18
PORT OF Spain– Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar Friday called for fresh general elections as she dismissed suggestions by the Keith Rowley government that it had been able to turn around the economy...
www.nationnews.com | 10/5/18
Who was at the meeting, who wasn't at the meeting and who else should the Cubans meet with?
While Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel was in New York to address the United Nations, he met with members of Congress and executives from the agriculture, travel and information and communication technology (ICT) industries. The ICT meeting was at Google's New York office and ten other companies attended. In addition to Díaz-Canel the Cuban ministers of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment and Communications were at the meeting.
The following is a list of the companies at the meeting with a little speculation.
Google: Perhaps they talked about their latest, rumored, unspecified deal to expand Internet access in Cuba. Another possibility would be bringing their African broadband infrastructure company CSquared (begun as Google Project Link) to Cuba.
VaynerMedia: I'd not heard of them, but they seem to be an Internet-savvy PR agency that has done work for many companies, including Google. Perhaps they would like to promote Cuban tourism, ICT or biotech companies or Cuban offshore development services. Or, they might be interested in a Cuban production facility. (Google has production spaces in ten cities — how about Havana)?
Connectify: They are already in Cuba — their software is widely used by Cubans who share connections at WiFi hotspots.
Mapbox: I bet this map of Cuba uses their geographic information system tools. Perhaps they will develop something for the Cuban tourism industry?
McKinsey and Company: They might be looking for a strategic ICT planning engagement. (Others will work for less — see below).
Virgin Group: This is a capital investment company with experience in travel, telecommunication, media and other areas where Cuba has both needs and assets — might they invest in Cuba, S. A.?
AirBnB: They are already doing a robust business in Cuba by providing a good deal for both Cuban renters and tourists. (I wonder whether Trump's clamp-down on tourism has hurt them).
Revolution: I assume this is Revolution Ventures. If so, they may be interested in investing in Cuban startups.
Twitter: Cubans already use Twitter — what more can they be thinking of?
Microsoft: Pirated Microsoft software is common in Cuba — might they be talking about some sort of licensing or royalty agreement in return for support? (I recall long ago visiting a government-run storefront where you could bring floppy disks and order copies of all major US software, including Microsoft's). Microsoft might also be looking for tech employees, offshoring or opening a Cuban development center.
Bloomberg: Did they attend as financially-oriented journalists?
Cresta AI: might they be looking for developers or to build intelligent applications?
Those were the attendees. Who not there?
I was relieved to notice that none of the large US wireless or wireline ISPs were at the meeting. I would not want to wish my experience with Verizon and Spectrum on Cubans.
I was surprised that Cisco did not participate. Cisco supplied Cuban networking infrastructure in the early days of the Internet, but Huawei has replaced them today. Still, Cisco is the only US ICT company I can think of besides Google that has made the effort to build relationships in today's Cuba, enabling them to begin offering their Cisco Networking Academy training at the Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas. Cisco-trained students may be willing to purchase their equipment once in the workforce.
I was also surprised that no one from ETECSA was there, although there may have been ETECSA representatives seated in the periphery of the room behind the conference table as is often the case in such meetings.
Finally, who was not there that I would advise Díaz-Canel and Cuban ICT decision makers meet with?
I would urge the Cubans to consider a broad set of advisers and collaborators as they plan the future of their Internet, for example:
Don't get me wrong — I think meeting and establishing relationships with companies from the US and other nations is a positive step for the Cubans, but I hope they broaden their contacts and meet with an eclectic group of people and organizations thinking about long-range planning for leapfrogging to future technologies as well as stopgap interim measures like WiFi hotspots, home DSL and 3 and 4G mobile connectivity. One can imagine a most interesting Cuban Internet-advisory committee.
Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University
www.circleid.com | 10/5/18
How would a new state manage its economy and trading relationships with the rest of the world?
www.bbc.co.uk | 10/4/18
PORT OF Spain – The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) says activity in the energy sector continued to pick up in the second quarter of this year and that natural gas production benefitted from...
www.nationnews.com | 9/30/18
Pam Lifford has been promoted to president of Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences (WBGBE), with responsibility for consumer products, DC, themed entertainment and a new global franchise team, the studio announced Thursday.
Lifford will become the highest ranking female executive of color at Warner Bros., reporting directly to studio chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara.
In her new role, Lifford is charged with developing all-new fan-engagement business opportunities as well as working to align the current fan-focused activities of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Themed Entertainment and DC.
Additionally, she will coordinate with WarnerMedia sister companies HBO and Turner as well as various AT&T divisions.
The day-to-day operation of DC will continue to be run by Jim Lee, publisher and chief creative officer, and Dan DiDio, publisher, who both now report to Lifford.
Consumer Products will be led by its current management team.
The Wizarding World franchise business will continue to be overseen separately by Josh Berger, president and managing director, Warner Bros. UK, Ireland and Spain, and president of Harry Potter Global Franchise Development, reporting directly to Tsujihara.
The formation of WBGBE is part of a broader effort by the studio to engage consumers more deeply in its franchises and other content. Additionally, through expertly curated experiences, fans will be able to create moments and memories linked with Warner Bros.’ and DC’s brands and franchises, further strengthening their connection to iconic characters and franchises.
Lifford joined the Studio as president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products in February 2016. She previously spent 12 years at Disney, rising through the ranks to become a member of the consumer products executive leadership team where, as Executive Vice President, she oversaw the global home, fashion and infant businesses.
Lifford also worked at Quiksilver, Inc., where she served as Executive Vice President, Global Licensing.
“Pam has deep experience across consumer products and building emotional
“This is an incredible opportunity for us to super-serve our fans across a variety of platforms and venues throughout their lifetimes,” said Lifford. “Warner Bros. has world-class characters and brands that are beloved around the world — from our licensed DC Super Heroes and the Looney Tunes and Hanna Barbera animated superstars to a library of over 10,000 films and TV shows — and we’re now making it a priority to bring these properties to fans in new and exciting ways.”
www.thewrap.com | 9/13/18
Boris Becker is enjoying a break in Spain with pals amid a tumultuous time in his personal and business life.
www.dailymail.co.uk | 8/7/18
Paolo Bassetti has joined production and distribution group Banijay and will oversee its extensive operations in Italy. The former Endemol Shine executive has taken the newly-created role of CEO, Italy, at Banijay Group. He will also take responsibilty for Banijay’s business in Spain. Bassetti will oversee the company’s Italian production banners Magnolia, Nonpanic, Aurora TV, […]
variety.com | 7/25/18
The majority of foreigners, who visited Russia during the FIFA 2018 World Cup, were thrilled with what they saw and experienced in the country. They were thrilled to see Russia that was so much different from what their media was making them to believe. The level of organization of the tournament in Russia was superb indeed: no incident was reported, not a single brawl occurred. Nikolskaya Street, where most fans gathered, became the street of global peace and the main street of the world. The goal of the organizing committee was to show foreigners Russia's best side, to make them remember their time in Russia and have unforgettable impressions. Today, one can say for certain: the goal has been achieved. The 2018 World Cup has changed Russia's imaged for the better in the whole world. The performance of the Russian football team at the tournament became an important addition to the organization of the whole event. Few in Russia could even think that the national football team could exit the group, reach the 1/8 finals and even leave Spain behind on the way. Even when Russia lost to Croatia in a series of penalty kicks, the whole nation was infinitely grateful to their footballers for their amazing achievement. Ratings of broadcasts of playoff matches with the participation of the Russian national team were comparable with the ratings of president's New Year speech. The World Cup has given Russia not only 12 stadiums that hosted the games, but also almost a hundred smaller arenas throughout the European territory of the country. They will be used for children's sports schools.New airport terminals, renovated roads and streets, the experience of thousands of people who were involved in the organization of the world's biggest event has become the precious legacy that football has given Russia. The whole world has finally got a chance to see Russia as an open and hospitable country, and we would like to hope that many foreign fans would like to come to Russia again and bring their families along. It is worthy of note that all foreigners having FAN IDs for the 2018 World Cup will not need to get the Russian visa if they wish to visit Russia again before the end of 2018. The 2018 World Cup cost Russia more than $14 billion. The financial results of the tournament have not been calculated yet, but one can already say that the income that Russia has received was a lot lower than the spending. However, profit is not the most important thing, and Russia did not have the goal to make as much as possible from football. Russian football fans bought the largest amount of tickets - 900,000 of 2.4 million. Surprisingly, American fans come next - they bought 89,000 tickets. The list continues with Brazil - 72,500 tickets, Colombia - 65,200, Germany - 62,500, Mexico - 60,300, Argentina - 54,000, Peru - 43,600, China - 40,300, Australia - 36,400, and England - 32,400.The number of European visitors was unexpectedly low. Having been zombified by the media, many British and French fans preferred to stay home and watch the games on TV. Yet, the number of American visitors was higher than expected. Financial results of the 2018 World Cup will follow soon, although experts say that the football tournament has contributed from 0.2 to 1 percent of GDP to the Russian economy. The infrastructure created for the competition and the subsequently growing tourist flow can bring an additional 120-180 billion rubles to Russia's GDP annually for the next five years.Given that Russia's GDP amounted to about 92 trillion rubles last year, these expected revenues will simply be invisible and fit within the error margin. The spending of 1.2 trillion rubles that Russia has incurred during seven years of preparations for the event is just as insignificant.
www.pravdareport.com | 7/16/18
Transportation-on-demand service Lyft, now valued at over $15 billion after raising another $600 million in June, is on the hunt to scale its business. One move it might not be making soon, however, is to expand operations into Spain and Latin America by way of an acquisition of one of the leading players in the […]
techcrunch.com | 7/6/18
PORT OF Spain – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has hit out at commercial banks across the country for passing service charges on to customers and has urged the business community, non-governmental organisations...
www.nationnews.com | 6/28/18
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www.nationnews.com | 6/9/18
Discovery and the PGA Tour have struck a massive $2 billion deal for tournament rights outside of the United States through 2030. That’s a lot of green — and we’re not just talking about the putting surfaces.
The pricey (and lengthy) alliance, which tees off next year, will result in about 2,000 hours of content annually and nearly 150 tournaments, including The Players Championship, the FedExCup Playoffs, and the Presidents Cup. It will grant Discovery the exclusive non-U.S. television and multiplatform rights to all PGA Tour golf events by 2024 — here is a timetable for implementation:
About those multiplatform rights: Together, Discovery and the PGA Tour will develop a new PGA Tour-branded OTT video streaming service to serve 220 markets and territories.
“Today is a fantastic day for golf fans around the world as Discovery proudly partners with the PGA Tour to create something that has never been done before,” David Zaslav, president and CEO, Discovery, said. “The long-term partnership between the PGA Tour and Discovery will create the new global Home of Golf, including delivering over 2000 hours of live content year-round and this prestigious sport’s greatest moments, stories and athletes. Following our successful first Olympic Games in PyeongChang, Discovery will contribute its strong global distribution and promotional infrastructure, in-market relationships, global sports expertise with direct-to-consumer platforms and brands to create a valuable new long-term Home of Golf offering in every market outside the U.S.”
“This is an exciting next step for the PGA Tour, which presents a tremendous opportunity to accelerate and expand our media business outside the United States, better service our international broadcast partners, and drive fan growth with a deeply experienced strategic global partner,” added Jay Monahan, commissioner, PGA Tour. “This partnership aligns very well with the opening of PGA Tour offices in London, Tokyo and Beijing in recent years and will support our long-term objectives of growing the game of golf. It also will deliver more value to our sponsors as it presents a tremendous opportunity to engage new and diverse audiences around the world.”
The partnership will be led by Discovery’s Alex Kaplan, who is president and general manager of the new Discovery and PGA Tour venture. His management team will include the PGA Tour’s Thierry Pascal as head of distribution.
Kaplan previously was an executive vice president at Eurosport Digital, where he helped grow the Eurosport D2C business to over 1 million subscribers. Prior to joining Discovery, Kaplan was a senior vice president of global media distribution for the NBA.
“I am incredibly excited to work with David Zaslav and JB Perrette to take international coverage of PGA Tour golf to the next level,” Kaplan said. “We can’t wait to get started and build a world-class global platform and long-term distribution strategy to turn the vision of this partnership into a reality. By joining forces with the outstanding PGA Tour team, led by Jay Monahan and Rick Anderson, we have a unique opportunity to build an amazing product that will serve the fans with the golf content they love on every screen.”
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www.thewrap.com | 6/4/18
A version of this story first appeared in the Race Begins issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
There’s no other show on TV quite like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and there’s no other character quite like Rachel Borstein’s acerbic Susie Myerson. Myerson is a tough-as-nails manager to diamond-in-the-rough standup comic and 1950s Upper West Side Jewish housewife Midge Maisel, played by Rachel Brosnahan.
With a caustic wit (“It smells like an armpit smoked a cigarette,” is how she describes a musty used record store) and neo-feminist bent (“You do not need a goddamn man at your side to do this — if you wanna be a comic, you have to grow the f— up right now,” she admonishes Midge), Susie’s the lovechild of a Fran Lebowitz-Jackie Gleason hookup.
Borstein, who was born in Illinois but now lives in Barcelona, Spain, said her chemistry with Brosnahan came quickly and unexpectedly. “The first time Rachel and I ever met was when I was auditioning,” she said. “They had us read together, and it kind of just happened off the bat.
“There was an interesting camaraderie that you wouldn’t have expected: I’m old enough to be her mother, we’re years apart, we’re very different, kind of like the way Midge is just a dainty, feminine girl and Susie is more of a bulldog. So it seems as if we’re such opposites, but there’s something there that’s just a very cool connection.
“I can’t explain it. It’s chemistry, ya know?”
You may also know Borstein from her work on “MADtv” and “Gilmore Girls,” and if the voice sounds familiar, it’s because she provides it for Lois Griffin on “Family Guy.” Her comic heroes, she said, run the gamut.
“Growing up, I was obsessed with Steve Martin, Jonathan Winters, Madeline Khan, Gilda Radner, Gene Wilder, Peter Sellers,” she said. “People who create characters and commit to them. People who play to the reality of the thing rather than simply going for the joke.”
As for the reality of Susie Myerson, Borstein calls the character an amalgamation of many women.
“I grew up with very strong female role models,” she said. “My mother is a powerhouse, but also very feminine and ladylike. My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, a survivor in every sense of the word. Then there are some women I’ve come across in the entertainment industry — agents, managers, club bookers. There’s a little bit of all of them in there, but Susie is her own person.
“I really wanted to convey that she’s in love with Midge in some way, that it’s not just a business relationship, that she really cares deeply.”
Having a show that features a pair of trailblazing female protagonists debut at the birth of the TimesUp movement, of course, could be considered good timing — but Borstein would prefer not to dwell on that aspect.
“I think the best timing we have is that the world is such a downer right now, and this is a show about an optimist,” she said. “So, more than anything else, it’s a breath of fresh air.”
Read more of TheWrap Emmy magazine’s The Race Begins issue here.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/29/18
The economy of Spain is the twelfth-largest economy in the world, based on nominal GDP comparisons, and the fifth-largest in Europe. It is regarded as the world's 15th most developed country. Until 2008 the economy of Spain had been regarded as one of the most dynamic within the EU, attracting significant amounts of foreign investment. Spain's economy had been credited with having avoided the virtual zero growth rate of some of its largest partners in the EU. In fact, the country's economy had created more than half of all the new jobs in the European Union over the five years ending 2005, a process that is rapidly being reversed. More recently, the Spanish economy had benefited greatly from the global real estate boom, with construction representing an astonishing 16% of GDP and 12% of employment in its final year. According to calculations by the German newspaper Die Welt, Spain had been on course to overtake countries like Germany in per capita income by 2011. However, the downside of the now defunct real estate boom was a corresponding rise in the levels of personal debt; as prospective homeowners had struggled to meet asking prices, the average level of household debt tripled in less than a decade. This placed especially great pressure upon lower to middle income groups; by 2005 the median ratio of indebtedness to income had grown to 125%, due primarily to expensive boom time mortgages that now often exceed the value of the property. A European Commission forecast had predicted Spain would enter a recession by the end of 2008. According to Spain’s Finance Minister, “Spain faces its deepest recession in half a century”. Spain's government forecast the unemployment rate would rise to 16% in 2009. The ESADE business school predicted 20%. Due to its own economic development and the recent EU enlargements up to 27 members (2007), Spain had a GDP per capita of (105%) of EU average per capita GDP in 2006, which placed it slightly ahead of Italy (103%). As for the extremes within Spain, three regions in 2005 were included in the leading EU group exceeding 125% of the GDP per capita average level: Basque Autonomous Community leading with Madrid and Navarre, and one was at the 85% level (Extremadura. According to the growth rates post 2006, noticeable progress from these figures happened until early 2008, when the Spanish economy was heavily affected by the puncturing of its property bubble by the global financial crisis. The centre-right government of former prime minister José María Aznar had worked successfully to gain admission to the group of countries launching the euro in 1999. Unemployment stood at 7.6% in October 2006, a rate that compared favorably to many other European countries, and especially with the early 1990s when it stood at over 20%. Perennial weak points of Spain's economy include high inflation, a large underground economy, and an education system which OECD reports place among the poorest for developed countries. However, the property bubble that had begun building from 1997, fed by historically low interest rates and an immense surge in immigration, imploded in 2008, leading to a rapidly weakening economy and soaring unemployment. By the end of 2010 unemployment had reached 20.33 .