Facebook-owned Instagram was sued Monday for illegally collecting, storing and distributing the facial recognition data of its users and could face up to $500 billion in fines. A class action lawsuit filed in San Mateo Superior Court by Illinois resident Kelly Whalen on Aug. 10 alleges that Facebook and Instagram are routinely harvesting and sharing its users’ biometric data without informing them or asking for consent to collect it. The lawsuit requests Facebook pay every member of the class $5,000 for each intentional violation of the Illinois BIPA act, which prohibits misuse of biometric data, or statutory damages of $1,000 for every negligent violation of the law — Business Insider estimated that could total up to $500 billion in fines given that at least 100 million Instagram users could be included in the class. Facebook recently paid $650 million in July to settle a similar case about its misuse of facial recognition data. “This suit is baseless. Instagram doesn’t use Face Recognition technology,” Facebook spokesperson Stephanie Otway told TheWrap in an email. Whalen’s class includes any Illinois resident who has had their biometric identifiers or facial geometry scans at all obtained by Facebook through photos uploaded to its Instagram app....Read original story Facebook Could Face $500 Billion in Fines for Illegally Collecting Biometric Data Through Instagram At TheWrap
Sean Hannity tweeted an apology to Tucker Carlson and the Fox News audience Tuesday night after an unexpected exchange between the two hosts about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos occurred between their shows.During his 8 p.m. show, Carlson reacted to news that Bezos had made $13 billion in one day during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, saying the Amazon founder “has become extremely rich, richer than any man in history, from all of this, including a lot of the suffering.”“I’m not against wealth accumulation. I’m not against free enterprise but $13 billion in a day suggests something is skewed with the system, no?” Carlson asked a guest.Also Read: Fox News' Ex-Host Ed Henry Accused of Rape, Hannity and Tucker Carlson of Sexual Harassment in LawsuitAs Carlson handed off his show at 9 p.m., Hannity responded, “People can make money. They provide goods and services people want, need, and desire? That’s America. It’s called freedom — capitalism — and as long as it’s honest, right? People decide.”Carlson seemed surprised by his colleague’s comment but didn’t have a chance to respond.The Daily Caller, a conservative website founded by Carlson, tweeted a clip of the exchange and said Hannity had “refuted” Carlson. Hannity replied to the tweet, “I was very clear I support capitalism. If someone is honestly providing goods and services people want, need, and desire I’m fine with that. If they capitalize on tragedy, that’s a different issue and I was very clear. I’ve seen no evidence of that. But if I do, watch out.”He went on, “I was reiterating Tucker’s point on NOT being versus capitalism. I was in the chair one minute before airtime and I was specifically responding to the end of Tucker’s interview when he said he supported honest capitalism, I had not heard any of the other part of the interview.”In a third tweet, he apologized “for any misunderstanding to Tucker,” as well as his viewers.Watch the hand-off, below:Tucker Carlson ended his show by criticizing the fact that Jeff Bezos has gotten richer during the pandemic.Hands off to Sean Hannity who refutes him. pic.twitter.com/bspPD3Y5dF— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) July 22, 2020Read original story Sean Hannity Apologizes After On-Air ‘Misunderstanding’ With Tucker Carlson At TheWrap
“America’s Newsroom” co-anchor Ed Henry is out at Fox News following an accusation of “willful sexual misconduct in the workplace years ago,” according to an internal memo from Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and Fox News Media President & Executive Editor Jay Wallace.The decision was announced Wednesday, six days after the company received the complaint from the lawyer for the former employee accusing Henry. He was suspended, per the memo, on June 25, the day the accusation was made, then fired based on the findings of an outside law firm that was retained that same day.Douglas Wigdor, the attorney for the unnamed accuser, declined to comment further Wednesday.Henry co-hosted the Fox News program opposite Sandra Smith since January 2020. He replaced Bill Hemmer. The network will fill Henry’s spot with rotating anchors until a permanent replacement is found. He joined Fox News in 2011 as chief White House correspondent after three years at CNN, then served as Fox News’ chief national correspondent.Also Read: Megyn Kelly Says She Twirled at Roger Ailes' Request: 'God Help Me, I Did It'In their staff memo Wednesday, Scott and Wallace wrote, “As all of you know, in January 2017 we overhauled our entire Human Resources operation and instituted extensive mandatory annual inclusion and Harassment Prevention training which has since educated our entire workforce.”They went on, “We encourage any employee who has a sexual harassment, discrimination or misconduct complaint of any form to report it immediately, as we have said repeatedly over the last four years.”The executives went on to list internal methods by which employees can make reports of accusations and complaints.Henry, who is married to NPR’s Shirley Hung, exited his network for a time in 2016 after a report that he has an affair with a Las Vegas hostess.“We recently became aware of Ed’s personal issues and he’s taking some time off to work things out,” a Fox News spokeswoman told TheWrap at the time.His termination — along with the HR overhaul mentioned by Scott and Wallace — comes after Fox News saw its late founder, Roger Ailes, and primetime star, Bill O’Reilly, ousted after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Others, like former co-president Bill Shine, were also ousted for their involvement. As an Ailes ally, Shine found himself named in multiple lawsuits against the channel and was ultimately pushed out in May of 2017.Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the show as “American Newsroom”Read original story Fox News Fires ‘America’s Newsroom’ Co-Host Ed Henry After Sexual Misconduct Investigation At TheWrap
Amid the struggles and uncertainties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers and brands across the globe suffer extensively from the social distancing and travel restrictions put in place to curb the virus.
Indian TikTok star Siya Kakkar, who gained nearly 2 million followers on the platform thanks to her dancing and lip-syncing clips, has died by suicide, according to multiple reports. Kakkar, who was reportedly 16-years-old, died Thursday at her home in New Delhi, India Today reported.“Siya died by suicide at her residence in New Delhi at around 9 p.m. on June 25. She lived with her family. Her family is in shock and has requested privacy. No suicide note has been recovered,” local authorities told the outlet. The police are working with Kakkar’s family to investigate her death, and have requested access to her cell phone.Kakkar’s manager, Arjun Sarin, confirmed her passing on Instagram. “You will always be the best artist,” Sarin said, alongside a picture of a smiling Kakkar. “Rest in peace.”Also Read: Kids Spent 100 Minutes Per Day Watching YouTube Last Month, a 75% Jump From a Year AgoReps for TikTok did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.Most of Kakkar’s TikTok clips had been performed in recent weeks due to coronavirus lockdowns. Her latest video, shared on Wednesday, has already pulled in more than 18 million views; her videos tended to pull in several million views. You can find her TikTok account here.Read original story TikTok Star Siya Kakkar Dies at 16 At TheWrap
President Donald Trump once again lashed out at Fox News for a new poll showing former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead over him widening as the November election looms closer.“@FoxNews is out with another of their phony polls, done by the same group of haters that got it even more wrong in 2016. Watch what happens in November. Fox is terrible!” the president wrote Friday, disparaging the network.In May, Fox News’ polling found Biden had 48% support, which rose to 50% in the June poll. As Biden’s increased two percentage points, Trump’s decreased by the same amount, falling from 40% in May to 38% in June.Trump has been lashing out as polls show him losing to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee in recent weeks, going so far as to hire his own pollster and demand CNN apologize for one of its polls.Also Read: Trump Hires New Pollster to Counter Latest 'Fake' Polls That Show He's Falling Further Behind Joe BidenCNN responded last week to the demand from Trump’s re-election campaign. CNN’s general counsel called the letter “factually and legally baseless.”The general counsel, David Vigilante, said he was unaware of another time in the company’s 40-year history it was “threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like CNN’s polling results.”“To the extent we have received legal threats from political leaders in the past, they have typically come from countries like Venezuela or other regimes where there is little or no respect for a free and independent media,” he went on.Notably absent from the letter Trump’s self-retained polling unit wrote in response to the CNN poll was Fox News, though Trump attacked Fox on Twitter on May 22 after a poll from that network showed him trailing behind Biden and his approval down, too.After tweeting that Fox News “should fire their Fake Pollster,” he wrote at the time, “Why doesn’t @FoxNews put up the CNBC POLL or the (believe it or not!) @CNN Poll? Hope Roger A is looking down and watching what has happened to this once beautiful creation!”Read original story Trump Calls Fox ‘Terrible’ as Latest Poll Shows Him Losing Ground to Biden At TheWrap
Dick Sullivan, CEO & President of the PGA TOUR Superstore, joined Yahoo Finance's The Final Round to discuss business since reopening all of the PGA TOUR Superstores as well as the precautions the stores are taking to keep customers safe.
Hip-hop legend Ice Cube has defended himself for sharing multiple anti-semitic tweets and conspiracy theories this week, saying he’s not “anti anybody,” but that he’s been “telling my truth.”The rapper and actor’s response came late Wednesday on Twitter. Ice Cube retweeted Temple Professor Marc Lamont Hill, who had called out the rapper for posting several anti-semitic images. Ice Cube said: “What If I was just pro-Black? This is the truth brother. I don’t lie on anyone, I didn’t say I was anti-anybody. DONT [sic] BELIEVE THE HYPE. I’ve been telling my truth.”What if I was just pro-Black? This is the truth brother. I didn’t lie on anyone. I didn’t say I was anti anybody. DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE. I’ve been telling my truth. https://t.co/1SnGaGacM9— Ice Cube (@icecube) June 11, 2020Ice Cube, in a different tweet, also denied his account had been hacked.The 50-year-old was initially called out on Saturday, after he tweeted a mural of six white men playing Monopoly on the backs of black men. In the picture, a pile of cash sits in the middle of the board and the game pieces represent different countries under the control of the men playing, including figurines of the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty. “All we have to do is stand up, and their little game is over,” the picture was captioned. The tweet was immediately ripped for its anti-semitic caricatures of the men playing Monopoly. And compounding matters, the mural was originally painted in London in 2012 — and later taken down after complaints over its anti-Jewish stereotypes.FUCK THE NEW NORMAL UNTIL THEY FIX THE OLD NORMAL! pic.twitter.com/wNN3uwOb4K— Ice Cube (@icecube) June 6, 2020On Wednesday, Ice Cube tweeted another picture of the Star of David overlapping with the “Black Cube of Saturn,” which has been used by conspiracy theorists to represent Satan worshippers. The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer also tweeted the cube has been used to represent “Jewish control.”https://t.co/O46oOanrIE pic.twitter.com/Jo4f8ZOXnF— Ice Cube (@icecube) June 10, 2020Ice Cube has been tweeting and sharing pictures at a frenetic pace in the last few weeks, following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The rapper on Wednesday shared a picture of Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has been blasted multiple times in the pat for anti-Jewish comments, and pushed back against claims he was “evil.” Claims of anti-semitism have dogged Ice Cube since the early 1990s, when his song “No Vaseline” included the lyrics “’cause you let a Jew break up my crew,” referring to former N.W.A. manager Jerry Heller.Read original story Ice Cube Defends Tweets With Anti-Semitic Images, Conspiracy Theories: ‘Telling My Truth’ At TheWrap
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will no longer be enforcing curfews, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said on Thursday.“Based upon current situational awareness and the recent pattern of peaceful actions by protesters, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will no longer enforce a curfew. Other jurisdictions are free to make their own decisions,” Villanueva said in a statement.LA County also announced on Twitter that it wasn’t planning on setting any curfews for that evening, but added that “municipalities within the county have the legal authority to implement curfews for their jurisdictions and may do so.”Also Read: ACLU Sues Los Angeles City and County Over Curfew OrdersThe city of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City and West Hollywood also will not have curfews on Thursday night. Beverly Hills, meanwhile, is implementing a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on Thursday.Cities across LA County have enacted curfews this entire week, with some curfews in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica beginning as early as 1 p.m. on Monday. But on Wednesday, the ACLU of Southern California sued the city and county of Los Angeles over its curfews on behalf of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and four other plaintiffs.“The curfews’ extraordinary suppression of all political protest in the evening hours plainly violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and their blanket restrictions on movement outside working hours violate the Constitution’s protection of freedom of movement,” the ACLU said in a statement.Read original story LA County Sheriff Will No Longer Enforce Curfews At TheWrap
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, during a virtual questions-and-answers meeting with employees, explained why the company didn’t take action against President Donald Trump’s recent comments on protestors and rioters in the same way other tech giants have. The decision split Facebook’s workforce, with many staging a virtual walkout earlier this week.The meeting, which was held on Tuesday, was transcribed in a 10,000-word story by Vox on Wednesday. Zuckerberg weighed in on the company’s decision to not restrict the president’s post from last Friday, in which, commenting on rioters and looters, Trump said that “any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”He was later criticized for using the phrase because it had been used by Miami’s police chief to scare protestors during the civil rights era. Miami Police Chief Walter Headley said it in a 1967 speech, in which he claimed his officers “don’t mind being accused of police brutality” against teens and young adults he called “young hoodlums.”Zuckerberg said it was clearly a “troubling historical statement and reference, whether or not it’s inciting supporters to go to violence.” But Facebook decided against moderating the post, because “we basically concluded after the research and after everything I’ve read and all the different folks that I’ve talked to, that the reference is clearly aggressive policing — maybe excessive policing — but has no history of being read as a dog whistle for vigilante supporters to take justice into their own hands.”Facebook’s decision to leave Trump’s post alone set it apart from Twitter, which attached a notification to the same comment on Trump’s Twitter account for breaking its rule against “glorifying violence.”Also Read: Trump Pulls Republican National Convention From North CarolinaOverall, compared to other tech leaders, Zuckerberg has been more inclined to let politicians say what they want without having Facebook add qualifiers or notifications to their posts.“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” Zuckerberg told Fox News last week. “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”Zuckerberg had made similar comments multiple times last year, like when Facebook was skewered by many on the left, including Elizabeth Warren, for not fact-checking its political ads.Later, during the same Tuesday meeting, Zuckerberg was pressed by one employee who questioned who had made the call to leave Trump’s post alone. Zuckerberg listed a handful of people, including COO Sheryl Sandberg, VP Nick Clegg, and Chief Diversity Officer Maxine Williams.That led to an awkward followup from the same employee, asking, “Correct me if I’m wrong. Besides Maxine, everyone you’ve listed is white, correct?”“That’s correct,” Zuckerberg responded.To read the full transcript, click here.Read original story Zuckerberg: Trump’s ‘Shooting’ Comment ‘Has No History of Being Read as a Dog Whistle’ At TheWrap
Snapchat will no longer promote President Donald Trump’s account, Snap Inc. told TheWrap on Wednesday, after determining the president’s recent comments promote violence and racial tension.Trump’s Snapchat account will remain on the platform but will no longer be featured on Discover, Snap’s page for curated news and stories. Snap made its decision this past weekend, according to a company rep, after the president tweeted “vicious dogs” and “the most ominous weapons” were being used against protestors who got “too frisky” in Washington D.C.“We are not currently promoting the President’s content on Snapchat’s Discover platform. We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover,” a Snap spokesperson told TheWrap. “Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America.”Snapchat will continue to promote presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s account on Discover, a Snap rep told TheWrap. The Snapchat stories featured on Discover, according to Snap’s website, are “put together and moderated by Team Snapchat, and some are created by third-party publishers.”President Trump’s digital team had been looking to use Snapchat more to sway young voters ahead of the 2020 election, according to a recent Bloomberg report. The president has about 1.5 million followers on the platform.Snap’s decision comes after CEO Evan Spiegel said Snapchat would look to stop promoting, but not ban, accounts he believes tear at America’s social fabric.“We will make it clear with our actions that there is no gray area when it comes to racism, violence and injustice,”Spiegel said in a memo posted to Snap’s blog on Monday “We simply cannot promote accounts in America that are linked to people who incite racial violence, whether they do so on or off our platform.”The decision also comes a week after the president sparred with Twitter, after the platform added a fact check to two of his tweets. Later in the week, Twitter also added a notification to one of the president’s tweets, saying it broke the company’s rules on “glorifying violence.” In retaliation, Trump signed an executive order asking for Section 230, a law that protects tech giants from being sued for what its users post, to be reviewed by the FCC. (One legal expert told TheWrap the executive order lacks “real teeth.”)Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, said his company is taking a more hands-off approach to moderating the president’s posts.“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” Zuckerberg told Fox News last week. “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”Read original story Snapchat Stops Promoting Trump: ‘We Will Not Amplify Voices Who Incite Racial Violence and Injustice’ At TheWrap
Amazon posted more than $75 billion in revenue when it reported its Q1 earnings on Thursday afternoon, while also sharing an ambitious plan to use its second-quarter profits towards “COVID-related expenses.” Despite topping Wall Street’s sales expectations, the company’s share price dropped 5% in early after-hours trading following Amazon’s projection it could lose up to $1.5 billion next quarter.For Q1, Amazon’s sales hit $75.5 billion, up 26.5% from the same time last year and beating analyst projections of $74.1 billion. Its earnings per share of $5.01 fell short of analyst estimates of $6.10 EPS, while also falling short of the $7.09 EPS the company posted during the first quarter of 2019. This was the first quarter Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud business, surpassed $10 billion in sales — marking an increase of 33% year-over-year.Amazon declined to share an update on how many Prime members it has; the company said it hit 150 million Prime subscribers by the end of 2019 when it reported its holiday quarter earnings in January.Also Read: Amazon Fire Customers to Get Free Year-Long Subscription to Food Network KitchenMoving forward, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the company expects to invest heavily in equipment and services needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.“If you’re a shareowner in Amazon, you may want to take a seat, because we’re not thinking small,” Bezos said in his letter to shareholders. “Under normal circumstances, in this coming Q2, we’d expect to make some $4 billion or more in operating profit. But these aren’t normal circumstances. Instead, we expect to spend the entirety of that $4 billion, and perhaps a bit more, on COVID-related expenses getting products to customers and keeping employees safe.”Bezos added: “This includes investments in personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning of our facilities, less efficient process paths that better allow for effective social distancing, higher wages for hourly teams, and hundreds of millions to develop our own COVID-19 testing capabilities.”In its Q2 guidance, Amazon said it could report an operating loss of $1.5 billion next quarter — although its estimate also said a profit of $1.5 billion is in the cards, indicating how difficult the pandemic has made it to project sales.Amazon shared dropped 5% to $2,345 per share after the company shared its Q1 report. The Seattle-based company had been on a roll heading into Thursday afternoon, with its share price surging more than 30% since mid-March.Read original story Amazon Q1 Earnings: E-Commerce Giant Says It Expects to Spend $4 Billion on Coronavirus Response At TheWrap
AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron announced in an open letter to Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley that the nationwide theater chain will no longer screen Universal’s films following comments by NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell that the studio plans to release more films day-and-date both theatrically and on video-on-demand.“It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice,” Aron wrote. “Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theatres in the United States, Europe or the Middle East. This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theatres reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat.”Shell made the comments in a Wall Street Journal story Thursday morning that reported the animated film “Trolls World Tour” made $95 million in digital rentals in the 19 days since its release. The film was initially planned for theatrical release but was moved to day-and-date with digital release in March as thousands of theaters were forced to shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.Also Read: AMC Theatres Plans to Raise $500 Million in Private Debt Offering“The results for ‘Trolls World Tour’ have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” Shell said. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”This hint that Universal will be abandoning the long-held theatrical window prompted a response from the National Association of Theater Owners, who insisted that the unique changes in moviegoing habits brought by the coronavirus lockdown are more responsible for the success of “Trolls World Tour” than any perceived changes in customer habits.“Universal does not have reason to use unusual circumstances in an unprecedented environment as a springboard to bypass true theatrical releases,” said NATO president and CEO John Fithian. “Theaters provide a beloved immersive, shared experience that cannot be replicated – an experience that many of the VOD viewers of this film would have participated in had the world not been sequestered at home, desperate for something new to watch with their families. We are confident that when theaters reopen, studios will continue to benefit from the global theatrical box office, followed by traditional home release.”Also Read: Could 'Trolls World Tour' Digital Success Open the Floodgates for Studio Films to Skip Theaters?AMC’s termination of its relationship with the studio means it will no longer screen Universal blockbusters that need a theatrical release to make back their enormous production and marketing costs, such as “F9,” the ninth “Fast & Furious” film that was moved to May 2021 because of the pandemic.A rep for Universal tells TheWrap, “Our goal in releasing ‘Trolls: World Tour’ on PVOD was to deliver entertainment to people who are sheltering at home, while movie theatres and other forms of outside entertainment are unavailable. Based on the enthusiastic response to the film, we believe we made the right move. In fact, given the choice of not releasing ‘Trolls: World Tour,’ which would not only have prevented consumers from experiencing the movie but also negatively impacted our partners and employees, the decision was clear.”The statement continued, “Our desire has always been to efficiently deliver entertainment to as wide an audience as possible. We absolutely believe in the theatrical experience and have made no statement to the contrary. As we stated earlier, going forward, we expect to release future films directly to theatres, as well as on PVOD when that distribution outlet makes sense. We look forward to having additional private conversations with our exhibition partners but are disappointed by this seemingly coordinated attempt from AMC and NATO to confuse our position and our actions.”Also Read: Universal Responds to AMC: 'We Absolutely Believe in the Theatrical Experience'Aron also warned that the chain is willing to do the same to other studios that make similar moves.“AMC believes that with this proposed action to go to the home and theatres simultaneously, Universal is breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies,” Aron wrote. “It assumes that we will meekly accept a reshaped view of how studios and exhibitors should interact, with zero concern on Universal’s part as to how its actions affect us. It also presumes that Universal in fact can have its cake and eat it too, that Universal film product can be released to the home and theatres at the same time, without modification to the current economic arrangements between us.”Responding to Universal, NATO said in a statement Tuesday night: “Earlier today NATO issued a statement regarding Universal Studios’ public comments in the Wall Street Journal regarding that studios’ evaluation of the results of releasing the movie Trolls World Tour directly to the home without a theatrical release, and specifically that Universal would release future movies both theatrically and to the home.”“Also today, according to various public press reports, AMC released a letter that company sent to Universal stating AMC’s individual company reaction to Universal’s public statement earlier in the day in the Wall Street Journal. NATO and AMC did not coordinate those statements in any way. Indeed, AMC had no comment on NATO’s draft statement when sent to NATO’s Board of Directors, nor did AMC participate in the Board deliberations regarding that statement. Regarding AMC’s reported letter to Universal, NATO had no involvement with nor knowledge of that letter before reading about it in the press.”“Without any knowledge of the facts, or the common courtesy to inquire about those facts, Universal nonetheless made the reckless charge this evening that the company is “disappointed by this seemingly coordinated attempt from AMC and NATO to confuse our position and our actions.” Unfortunately Universal has a destructive tendency to both announce decisions affecting their exhibitor partners without actually consulting with those partners, and now of making unfounded accusations without consulting with their partners.”For more on what the success of “Trolls World Tour” could mean for Hollywood, check out our analysis on WrapPRO. Read the full letter from AMC below…Dear Donna,At this time of national emergency and the coronavirus wreaking havoc on the entire world, I hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe. I worry – and I wish the best for – the health of all of our industry colleagues. Never in our lifetimes has there been a more challenging time.Amidst a global pandemic as a backdrop, I wish we were spared from also having to address a different issue that arises from Universal actions currently underway.For 100 years, AMC Theatres has served as a strategically critical and highly profitable distribution platform for movie makers, and for all that time the exclusivity of the theatrical release has been fundamental. When a movie is “Only in Theaters,” consumers perceive it to be higher quality entertainment. Countless filmmakers and moviegoers believe that their creative works are best enjoyed by consumers on the big screen. And we all know that those theatrical releases indeed boost publicity, positive word-of-mouth, critical acclaim and downstream revenues.For much of the past four and a half years, I have been in direct dialogue with Jeff Shell and Peter Levinsohn of Universal about the importance of a robust theatrical window to the viability of the motion picture exhibition industry. Throughout that time, AMC has expressed a willingness to consider alternatives to the current windowing strategy common in our industry, where the aim of such alternatives is to improve both studio profitability and theater operator profitability.Universal stated it only pursued a direct-to-home entertainment release for “Trolls World Tour” because theaters were closed and Universal was committed to a lucrative toy licensing deal. We had our doubts that this was wholly Universal’s motivations, as it has been a longstanding desire by Universal to go to the home day and date. Nonetheless, we accepted this action as an exception to our longstanding business practices in these unprecedented times.In today’s Wall Street Journal, Jeff Shell is quoted as saying that:“The results for ‘Trolls World Tour’ have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” Mr. Shell said. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”This radical change by Universal to the business model that currently exists between our two companies represents nothing but downside for us and is categorically unacceptable to AMC Entertainment, the worlds largest collection of movie theatres.Going forward, AMC will not license any Universal movies in any of our 1,000 theatres globally on these terms.Accordingly, we want to be absolutely clear, so that there is no ambiguity of any kind. AMC believes that with this proposed action to go to the home and theatres simultaneously, Universal is breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies. It assumes that we will meekly accept a reshaped view of how studios and exhibitors should interact, with zero concern on Universal’s part as to how its actions affect us. It also presumes that Universal in fact can have its cake and eat it too, that Universal film product can be released to the home and theatres at the same time, without modification to the current economic arrangements between us.It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice. Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theatres in the United States, Europe or the Middle East. This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theatres reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat. Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes. Currently, with the press comment today, Universal is the only studio contemplating a wholesale change to the status quo. Hence, this immediate communication in response.AMC has invested significant time and energy with Universal executives over the past few years trying to figure out a new windows model that would be beneficial both for your studio and for our theatre operations. While Universal’s unilateral pronouncements on this issue are unpalatable to us, as has always been the case, AMC is willing to sit down with Universal to discuss different windows strategies and different economic models between your company and ours. However, in the absence of such discussions, and an acceptable conclusion thereto, our decades of incredibly successful business activity together has sadly come to an end.Sincerely,Adam Aron CEO and President AMC EntertainmentRead original story AMC Theatres Won’t Book Universal Movies Anymore After ‘Trolls World Tour’ VOD Release At TheWrap
The Dow Jones industrial average, after sharp declines from major companies like Apple and Disney, had its worst single-day point drop ever on Thursday, plunging 2,352 points to close at 21,201 points. The 10% fall also represented the biggest single-day percentage drop since Black Monday 1987, when the Dow plummeted 22.5%.The historic point drop on Thursday comes only days after the previous record was set; fears over the coronavirus outbreak, coupled with an oil price war, sent the Dow down 2,013.76 points on Monday.President Trump addressed the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday night and announced the U.S. would ban travel from Europe — except for from the United Kingdom — for 30 days. On Thursday, the Federal Reserve said it would inject $1.5 trillion into Wall Street to curb the “highly unusual disruptions” brought on by the coronavirus. Those plans did little to stop the bleeding on Thursday, though, with several entertainment and tech companies absorbing major hits.Also Read: Disneyland Resort and Theme Parks to Close as Coronavirus SpreadsShares of Disney, which is one of the 30 companies represented by the Dow index, fell 13% on Thursday to $91.81 per share. Less than a month ago, the company was trading near $140 per share, but the combination of coronavirus and the exit of CEO Bob Iger in recent weeks have led to a severe drop. California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued a directive banning gatherings of more than 250 people, but offered an exemption to Disneyland. “Disneyland, I think, has a thousand people on a ride every hour, and concerts and theaters. They have parades. That’s a nation state campus environment. I mean, that’s a whole different thing,” Newsom explained, according to the LA Times. Disney’s share price did not rebound, even following the governor’s announcement, on Thursday.Hours later — and soon after markets closed on Thursday — Disney announced it would be shutting down Disneyland through the end of March.Disney’s 5-day drop, courtesy of GoogleApple shareholders, meanwhile, had a rough day as well, with shares of the tech giant dropping 9.9%; the company closed at $248.23 per share and has dropped more than 20% since trading at its all-time high of about $327 per share in early February. Chief executive Tim Cook warned shareholders last month the company could be especially hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, which impacted the company’s iPhone production in China.The S&P 500 and Nasdaq experienced similar drops on Thursday, with both indexes plunging more than 9%.Theater chains were rocked on Thursday, as movies releases are being postponed and large gatherings are being banned across the globe. Shares of IMAX cratered nearly 26% on Thursday, while AMC Entertainment Holdings fell 20%. Discovery and Fox both dropped more than 7% on Thursday, while shares of Viacom and Lionsgate plummeted more than 17% each.During a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Thursday, President Trump said he expects the market to “bounce back very big” in the near future.Read original story Black Thursday: Dow Suffers Biggest Point Drop Ever, as Disney and Apple Fall Hard At TheWrap
Joe Coulombe, the founder of the popular Trader Joe’s grocery chain, died Friday at age 89, according to a statement from his son, also named Joe.Over the course of his career, Coulombe grew his retail empire from a single store in Pasadena, California, in 1967 to a national chain with more than 500 outlets in 40 states that gained a reputation for quirkiness as well as low prices and limited (or curated) options on a range of products that helped popularize once-niche products like granola.According to the company’s website, Coulombe based the store’s nautical theme — including employees who wore Hawaiian shirts and were dubbed “captains and mates” — in part on his fondness for Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise ride.Also Read: Hollywood's Notable Deaths of 2020 (Photos)By 1972, he introduced private label products — often high-end foods with punny names — that soon found a following among health-conscious consumers as well as a growing legion of foodies. He also offered quality but affordable wine, including the famous “Two Buck Chuck” that still sells for $1.99 in most California outlets. (Shipping costs raise the price in other states.)“He wanted to make sure whatever was sold in our store was of good value,” the younger Joe Coulombe told the AP. “He always did lots of taste tests. My sisters and I remember him bringing home all kinds of things for us to try. At his offices he had practically daily tastings of new products.”After selling Trader Joe’s to the German grocery retailer Aldi Nord in 1979, he remained with the company another nine years before retiring.Read original story Joe Coulombe, Founder of Trader Joe’s Grocery Chain, Dies at 89 At TheWrap
A lengthy Fox News research document warns its employees to be wary of “disinformation” spread by several Pro-Trump guests, including the president’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani and network contributor John Solomon, according to a Thursday report from The Daily Beast.The document, dubbed “Ukraine, Disinformation, & the Trump Administration,” is 162 pages long. It’s “especially critical of Solomon,” The Daily Beast reports, after he made several unsubstantiated claims the Ukrainian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Solomon is a former opinion columnist at “The Hill,” where his work “fueled” Giuliani to “dig up dirt in Ukraine,” according to the report.“John Solomon played an indispensable role in the collection and domestic publication of elements of this disinformation campaign,” the briefing notes.Also Read: Fox News Stars Rail Against Romney for Trump Impeachment Vote: 'Going to Be Associated With Judas'Solomon’s “questionable reporting,” as the report put it, has also been referenced multiple times by President Trump on Twitter. He and Giuliani did not respond to TDB’s request for comment.A rep for Fox News did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.The research document, put together by Fox News’ senior political affairs specialist Bryan S. Murphy, also claims Giuliani is especially gullible when it comes to Ukrainian fake news; this stems from his desire to find out more about Hunter Biden’s ties to Ukraine, according to the report.Giuliani shows a “high susceptibility to disinformation” shared by Ukrainians Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko and his associates, according to Murphy’s writing.Also Read: Fox News' State of the Union Coverage Got Twice as Many Viewers as CNN, MSNBC CombinedMurphy’s report also calls out Fox News guests Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova for “spreading disinformation.” The married couple worked alongside Giuliani to find out more about Hunter and Joe Biden, according to The Daily Beast, and were employed by indicted Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash. Both Toensing and DiGenova did not respond to TDB’s request for comment.You can read the full report here.Read original story Internal Fox News Document Warns That Pro-Trump Guests Are Amplifying ‘Disinformation’ (Report) At TheWrap
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will give up the “royal highness” titles and will not receive public funding, following their decision to step away from the royal family, Buckingham Palace announced Saturday — coincidentally, the morning after Bill Maher prodded them to “go all the way” and completely separate themselves from the House of Windsor.Queen Elizabeth II, in a statement, said she was happy to have “found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.” Buckingham Palace added that Harry and Markle will repay about $3 million worth of taxpayer money that was used to renovate their home near Windsor Castle.Bill Maher, during Friday’s episode of “Real Time,” applauded the couple for their decision to step away from royal duties and move to Canada — but added that they could do more.Also Read: Prince Harry Pitched Meghan Markle's Voice Acting to Bob Iger at 'Lion King' Premiere“I give Harry and Meghan some credit, but not a lot,” Maher said. “If they want to be seen as a modern couple way hipper than the other stuffy ones in the family, okay, then go all the way and say it. Say, We’re not just taking a step back from royalty, we’re renouncing the whole outdated, racist, anachronistic lot of it. We’re saying loud and proud, what is this bulls— that some people are royal?”Maher added: “Do you want to be remembered for greatness? Then burn your boats completely. Say it’s 2020, I hereby decree this birthright nonsense from the Middle Ages is stupid.” Watch Maher’s commentary at the bottom.Saturday’s announcement comes after Harry and Markle announced last week they wanted to step down from being active, senior members of the royal family. Buckingham Palace said they will not be active members as of “spring 2020.”Read original story Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Drop ‘Royal Highness’ Titles, Hours After Bill Maher Urged Them to Ditch Royal Family At TheWrap
In a candid and frequently hilarious chat with Stephen Colbert on Saturday, Julia Louis-Dreyfus reflected on her “miserable” time as a “Saturday Night Live” cast member, and how the experience taught her to make sure she always enjoyed every future job.Speaking to Colbert as part of a benefit for Montclair Film at Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Louis-Dreyfus explained how unprepared she was when she joined the show in the mid 1980s at the age of 21, not even finishing her studies at Northwestern University before heading off to New York.“I was unbelievably naive and I didn’t really understand how the dynamics of the place worked,” she told Colbert. “It was very sexist — very sexist. People were doing crazy drugs at the time. I was oblivious. I just thought, ‘Oh, wow! He’s got a lot of energy!'”Also Read: 'SNL': Will Ferrell's Gordon Sondland Shows Up to Ruin Things for Alec Baldwin's Trump (Video)She and Colbert then joked for a second that they couldn’t understand how anyone could ever perform inebriated, just before taking big sips from their cocktails.Louis-Dreyfus, who went on to decades-long TV success with shows like “Seinfeld,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “Veep,” explained that her time on “SNL” led her to develop a system that helped her choose her future projects.“It was a pretty brutal time, but it was a very informative time for me,” she told Colbert. She said she realized then she wouldn’t do “anymore of this crap” unless “it was fun.”Also Read: 'SNL' Spoofs Democratic Debate With All-Star Lineup of Will Ferrell, Maya Rudolph, Woody Harrelson and More (Video)“It is important and so basic, but I just felt like, ‘I don’t have to; I don’t have to do this, I don’t have to walk and crawl through this kind of nasty glass if it’s not ultimately going to be fulfilling,” she said. “And so that’s how I sort of moved forward from that moment and I sort of applied that kind of ‘fun meter’ to every job I’ve had since and it definitely has been very helpful.”There was another benefit to the actress’ time on “SNL”: She met and bonded with Larry David, who would eventually put her in “Seinfeld.”“Larry David and I had been on ‘SNL’ together my last year there because he was a writer, and we bonded because he was as miserable as I was,” she revealed, earning a laugh from the crowd.Representatives for NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Read original story Julia Louis-Dreyfus Looks Back on Her ‘Miserable’ Time at ‘SNL’ in the 1980s: ‘I Was Unbelievably Naive’ At TheWrap
Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen isn’t joking around when it comes to Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. Cohen, speaking Thursday at the Anti-Defamation League’s “Never Is Now” Summit in New York City, skewered Facebook for not doing enough to combat racism and anti-Semitism on its platform.Cohen said Zuckerberg’s stance that “people should decide what’s credible, not tech companies” — outlined during a speech last month at Georgetown University — is “simply absurd.” Instead, it allows misinformation and bigotry to thrive, Cohen argued.“I believe it’s time for a fundamental rethink of social media and how it spreads hate, conspiracies and lies,” Cohen said, before listing a number of issues he has with Zuckerberg.Also Read: Elizabeth Warren Slams Secret Trump-Zuckerberg Dinner: 'This Is Corruption, Plain and Simple'“First, Zuckerberg tried to portray this whole issue as ‘choices…around free expression.’ That is ludicrous. This is not about limiting anyone’s free speech. This is about giving people, including some of the most reprehensible people on earth, the biggest platform in history to reach a third of the planet,” Cohen said, “Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach.”In particular, Cohen pointed to Zuckerberg’s comments from last year, where he said he finds Holocaust denial “deeply offensive,” but that he doesn’t believe Facebook “should take that down.” That is an irresponsible policy, Cohen said, when considering how ignorant American citizens — especially under the age of 35 — are of the Holocaust.“Zuckerberg says that ‘people should decide what is credible, not tech companies.’ But at a time when two-thirds of millennials say they haven’t even heard of Auschwitz, how are they supposed to know what’s ‘credible?’ How are they supposed to know that the lie is a lie?” Cohen said.“There is such a thing as objective truth. Facts do exist,” he continued. “And if these internet companies really want to make a difference, they should hire enough monitors to actually monitor, work closely with groups like the ADL, insist on facts and purge these lies and conspiracies from their platforms.”Also Read: Facebook Sponsors Federalist Society Event Featuring Brett KavanaughCohen’s comments add to a growing list of complaints from both the left and the right over Facebook’s content moderation policies.Earlier this year, Facebook removed a number of far-right individuals, including Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos, as well as Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, for violating its policies on “dangerous individuals and organizations.” The move was criticized by many free speech absolutists, arguing tech giants like Facebook should not be in the censorship business.Since then, Facebook has since been skewered by many on the left — including 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren — for its decision to not fact-check political ads.“I know many people disagree with us,” Zuckerberg said about Facebook’s policy last month.”But in general, I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy.”On free expression, Zuckerberg said he wants Facebook to take after the “American free speech tradition,” but said there were still some exceptions Facebook would make as a private company. “Hate speech” — even though it’s protected by the First Amendment, Zuckerberg noted – would not be tolerated, as well as pornography, child exploitation and calls to violence. Saying “all Muslims are terrorists,” Zuckerberg said, could potentially “escalate” the situation and make matters worse.Also Read: Facebook Bans 'Any Mention' of Potential Trump Whistleblower's NameCohen, during his ADL speech, said it’s “madness” for Facebook and other tech companies to hide behind the First Amendment; companies, unlike the government, should make decisions on what is and isn’t said on their platforms, Cohen argued.“By now it’s pretty clear, they cannot be trusted to regulate themselves,” Cohen said of Silicon Valley. “As with the Industrial Revolution, it’s time for regulation and legislation to curb the greed of these high-tech robber barons.”Read original story Sacha Baron Cohen Blasts Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook’s Inaction Against Holocaust Deniers Is ‘Simply Absurd’ At TheWrap
Singapore — Fashion brands today are increasingly offering custom-made clothing, giving consumers a personalised fit and service.
Globetrotters take note, the world’s 10 best airports have been unveiled.The Skytrax 2019 World Airport Awards gave Singapore’s Changi Airport the crown for a history-making seventh year running with more than 5,000 arrivals and departures each week across 80 different airlines.But the travel destination is famed for being much more than a mere transport pitstop with a butterfly park, cinema, cactus garden and countless art installations on offer – more than enough to ease the pain of pesky delays.Japan also flexed its muscles in the annual list with Tokyo’s Haneda Airport coming in close second place followed by Seoul’s Incheon and Hong Kong International Airport at number five.So what about the UK?Despite having over 40 public airports, London Heathrow was the only travel hub to make the definitive top 10 most probably down to its easy-to-navigate location for quick-fire business meetings and tourist visits.From Switzerland to Qatar, we’ve rounded up this year’s top 10 airports. How many have you visited?
Britain’s vote to leave the European Union will affect more than immigration and travel — it’s also expected to do a number on the UK economy.
Fabletics — the online “discount” activewear brand with those inexplicably irritating Kate Hudson commercials — has come under fire yet again.
Armarium co-founders Alexandra Lind Rose (left) and Trisha Gregory (right). Working in fashion, while fun, is no easy task. After nearly a decade as the head of public relations for a high-end fashion brand, she took the leap and created Armarium along with her co-founder (and fellow fashion veteran) Alexandra Lind Rose.
Corcoran claims there’s nothing sexual about showing off your best attributes and compares her leg-baring technique to a man wearing an expensive watch.