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HomeIndustry SectorFilmOver the Weekend 2/22/21: Industry Pleas to Senate for Pandemic Insurance/Relief and...

Over the Weekend 2/22/21: Industry Pleas to Senate for Pandemic Insurance/Relief and More News


Hopefully, everyone had a good weekend and are girding their loins for the upcoming awards season. It’s already been going on for the last month, but it will really kick into overdrive with the awarding of the Golden Globes on Sunday night. More on that below…

CoalitionForFederalHelpThose in production who have been struck the hardest financially by the COVID-19 pandemic may have some light at the end of this very long tunnel, as an impressive entertainment industry coalition wrote a letter to Senate leaders to get Federal Aid for pandemic insurance, because it’s the only way independent film will be able to return and survive. The group is made up by a varied group, including the MPA (Motion Picture Association), IFTA (Independent Film and Television Alliance), various Hollywood guilds including IATSEDGA, SAG-AFTRA and the PGA, and even Nascar and the NFL. The collected group are looking for some sort of guarantee for dedicated funds to the entertainment industry, as has been done by other countries. Pandemic insurance vanished in March, making it harder for independent film producers to insure their shows for loss due to illness and shutdown, and even the studios have suffered from not being able to afford pandemic insurance, which has cut back greatly on the number of productions. Reportedly, 464,000 jobs in film and television have been affected by the pandemic in the last year.

“The need for federal assistance is urgent and intensifies by the day,” it states in the letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chairman Sherrod Brown and Ranking Member Pat Toomey. “The lack of business insurance coverage for coronavirus pandemic losses is a critical issue for the economy at large, but it is a threshold issue for the continued operation of our industries. Simply put, it is enormously challenging for us to go back to work absent pandemic insurance coverage. Federal legislation is needed to get American workers meaningfully back to work on films, television and sports productions.”

The letter continues, “Our industry needs direct intervention by the federal government to jumpstart production throughout the United States, through temporary, targeted federal funds that provide the necessary guarantees of loss coverage so that productions can go forward. Such programs now exist in other countries. Providing this protection for productions now would get our U.S. industry back to work at a critical time and would ensure diversity of content in the months to come.”

Deadline got their hands on a full copy of the letter, which you can read over there. UPDATE: A similar group of industry guilds and organizations has also written a letter to President Joseph Biden also in hopes of getting funds for the ailing entertainment industry. You can read that letter here.

Milli Vanilli
Milli Vanilli with Grammy President C. Michael Green (Photo by Alan Light)

Just as last week was ending, it was reported by Deadline that Director Brett Ratner, who hasn’t directed a movie since 2014’s Hercules, has been attached to direct a biopic about ’80s pop duo Milli Vanilli with Millenium Medium launching sales at the upcoming European Film Market (EFM) to produce the film with Ratner’s Rat Pac Entertainment. It didn’t take long for Time’s Up, the organization created to fight sexual harassment, responded to the news with the organization’s President and CEO Tina Tchen saying:

“Time’s Up was born out of the national reckoning on workplace sexual harassment. Our movement is a product of countless courageous acts by many survivors, including those who spoke out about what they endured at the hands of Brett Ratner. Not only did Ratner never acknowledge or apologize for the harm he caused, but he also filed lawsuits in an attempt to silence the voices of survivors who came forward – a tactic right out of the predator’s playbook. You don’t get to go away for a couple years and then resurface and act like nothing happened. We have not – and will not – forget. And Millennium Media shouldn’t either. There should be no comeback. #wewontforgetbrett.”

GoldenGlobeLogoSome more controversy out of La La Land comes from the L.A. Times, who launched an investigation against corruption in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the group that doles out the Golden Globes each year. In fact, as mentioned above, the Golden Globes are being announced this coming Sunday.

The L.A. Times story includes interviews with fifty people in the industry, including studio publicists and executives, as well as current and former members of the HFPA, but it follows a federal judge dismissing an anti-trust suit against the group by Norwegian entertainment journalist Kjersti Flaa, who was denied membership.

Probably the most damning aspect of the Times‘ investigation points to some serious pay-offs to members of the group. According to the report, “In the fiscal year ending in June 2020, the HFPA paid $1.929 million for members serving on committees and performing other tasks. The amount was budgeted to increase to $2.15 million in the current fiscal year ending in June 2021, according to financial records reviewed by The Times. By the end of 2020, the association was collectively paying nearly $100,000 a month to members serving on more than a dozen different committees. Members often serve on more than one committee, records show.”

On the other hand, an HFPA representative responded, “None of these allegations has ever been proven in court or in any investigation, [and they] simply repeat old tropes about the HFPA and reflect unconscious bias against the HFPA’s diverse membership.”

Sasha Calle (Courtesy CBS)
Sasha Calle (Courtesy CBS)

It looks like Warner Media has found its new Supergirl for a planned movie, but first, she’ll appear in the 2022 The Flash movie being directed by Andy Muschietti (It). The Boston born Sasha Calle, a LatinX actress who won a Daytime Emmy for her role on The Young and The Restless, who is of Colombian descent, will be the first Latina Supergirl ever. She’s following in the footsteps of Helen Slater, who starred in the 1984 Warner Bros. movie, and Melissa Benoist, who appeared on the long-running recent CW show. Warner Media has been developing a new Supergirl movie in which Calle will star, so they’re taking a similar tactic as they did to introduce Gal Gadto as Wonder Woman.

Over in the Marvel Universe, Laurel Marsden, who appeared in the Quibi series Survive, has been lined up to join the Marvel Studios series, Ms. Marvel, with Marsden playing the title character’s “frenemy” Zoe Zimmer.

Image Comics

Shifting to the world of development, the popular recent comic book The Department of Truth by long-time Batman writer James Tynion IV and artist Martin Simmonds, has been picked up by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone‘s production company Sister to be developed into a series with Tynion co-writing the script. Sister also bought the film rights to the comic published by Image Comics that brings together a number of conspiracy theories surrounding the FBI.

Courtesy Signet
Courtesy Signet

It was also reported (again, by Deadline) that filmmaker Edgar Wright would be tackling a remake of Stephen King‘s 1982 novel The Running Man (written under the pseudonym “Richard Bachman”) for Paramount Pictures. Paramount is making the film which is co-written by Wright and his Scott Pilgrim collaborator Michael Bacall, a top priority with Simon Kinberg‘s Genre Films producing with Wright’s long-term producer Nira Park and their Complete Fiction banner and Genre Films’ Audrey Chon. Wright expressed interest in tackling a new version of King’s novel (vs. a remake of the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger) back in 2017, but it now looks like that project is actually moving forward.

Many people have been trying to adapt Isaac Asimov‘s classic science fiction series of novels, Foundation, into another format over the past few decades. Apple TV+ seems to have finally cracked the code for adapting the series, launching the first teaser for its new series produced with Skydance Television. The series stars Jared Harris (Mad Men), Lee Pace, Lou Llobell, Leah Harvey, Laura Birn, Terrence Mann, and Cassian Bilton. You can watch that first teaser for the series below.


Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.
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