“Justin Lin Goes Beyond Search For Spock With ‘Star Trek 3′ Title Reveal”

“No one will be searching for Spock, but set phasers to “that’s actually kind of cool” anyway, because the third installment of the rebooted Star Trek series now has an official title: Star Trek Beyond. Lin revealed the name today via Twitter…

Nodding to Trek’s space race roots with promotion for Star Trek Beyond makes sense of course. The last film in the JJ Abrams version of Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, received a brutal critical drubbing. Among the biggest critiques was how much it didn’t feel like the tv series it’s based on. It didn’t help that before it even came out, word dropped that Abrams was abandoning the franchise for the new Star Wars trilogy. At first, STID co-writer Robert Orci was tapped to replace Abrams, butParamount eventually opted to part ways with him (like Abrams, Orci stayed on as a producer). The studio finally settled on Fast and Furious mastermind Justin Lin.

It was easy to assume that Lin was hired because of his proven track record breathing life into big franchises – coincidentally, he also joined Fast and Furious on its third installment. But people within the production have been vocal that Lin is a major Trekkie, legitimizing his involvement and shoring up Trek bonafides. Star Trek Beyond works similarly, suggesting, at last, the actual exploration at the heart of the franchise.

Filming began in Vancouver on June 25. Directed by Lin, written by Doug Jung and Simon Pegg, and produced Abrams, Orci and Bryan Bruk, Star Trek Beyond is scheduled to launch in theaters July 8, 2016.”



“‘Empire’ Co-creator Lee Daniels Inks Multi-Year Deal With 20th Century Fox TV”

“Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels has entered into a multi-year deal with 20th Century Fox Television.

Under the pact, he will develop, write, direct and supervise new projects for the studio under his Lee Daniels Entertainment banner. Daniels will remain an executive producer on the hip-hop soap opera, which became a massive smash hit this season for Fox.

Lee Daniels has a gift for telling authentic, provocative stories that are both truthful and wildly entertaining,” said Fox Television Group Chairmen and CEOs Gary Newman and Dana Walden. “His casting instincts are incredible, whether he is discovering tomorrow’s stars or attracting the most accomplished performers to his projects.”

“As a director, he elevates world class material to even greater heights, balancing heart-wrenching poignancy with surprising moments of levity that are over the top and fun,” the duo continued. “Quite simply, we love working with this inspired storyteller, and this deal is about extending and deepening our relationship.”

“I’m incredibly excited to continue my relationship with Dana and Gary and the rest of the Fox team,” added Daniels. “I’m looking forward to developing content and finding alternative voices for both in front of and behind the camera.”


“Jennifer Lopez on TV Diversity: ‘A Show’s Characters Need to Reflect Today’s Society’”

“Actress and entertainer Jennifer Lopez is the executive producer of “The Fosters,” an ABC Family series that bowed in 2013. The show features a biracial lesbian couple who have opened their home to multicultural foster children. Last year, Lopez was a Variety Power of Women honoree for her work with the Lopez Family Foundation, which raises money for children’s healthcare. In 2012, Forbes said Lopez “may be the most powerful entertainer on the planet,” and she works to break down barriers of gender, race and ethnicity. She took time from shooting NBC’s upcoming series “Shades of Blue” to speak with Variety.

Why did you commit to “The Fosters”?

When I was growing up, the families around me were not reflected in television or film. I wanted to be part of “The Fosters” because of the show’s depiction of a diverse society. While our family compositions might differ, ultimately the experiences of a family are universal, and I’m proud to be part of a show that reminds us that regardless of skin color or sexual orientation, we can all identify with one another.

What is the media’s responsibility going forward — to any minority?

I can speak to a producer’s responsibility, which is to create a compelling story with interesting and diverse characters. It’s important to make sure the characters are a true reflection of our society. This includes diversity across race and gender — which we’re finally seeing a shift toward in television and film…


“Why Marvel Will Gender Swap The Ancient One, According To Kevin Feige”

Doctor Strange is already going to be the most mind-bending Marvel movie of them all. Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme will introduce us to powers that we’ve never witnessed (i.e. magic) and dimensions we’ve never traversed, but Marvel will also bend the casting as it sees fit. The transformative Tilda Swinton recently signed on to play the Ancient One, Doctor Strange’s mystic mentor. According to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, this was the perfect opportunity to play with gender.

The Ancient One is traditionally depicted as male, but Feige explained that Marvel saw this figure as more of a mantle than one specific person. He toldBirthMoviesDeath in an interview,

The sorcerers have been around for millennia, protecting us from things we didn’t know about until this story. There have been multiple [Ancient Ones], even if this one has been around for five hundred years, there were others. This is a mantle, and therefore felt we had leeway to cast in interesting ways.

In a time when Marvelites are calling out their favorite movie studio on the lack of female characters in these films, in comes Tilda. (It brings to mind that brief moment in Parks and Recreation: “You got Tilda?!” “We got Tilda.”) The glorified actress is no stranger to gender-bending roles, and one of her biggest strengths is playing characters that require major transformations. (See the witch in Chronicles of Narnia, the archangel Gabriel in Constantine, Madame D. in The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mason in Snowpiercer, to name a few.) Which makes her the perfect candidate to portray such a gender-ambiguous role…”


“George Takei on Same-Sex Marriage, Why ‘Star Trek’ Fans Are Gay Friendly”

George Takei has been a leading advocate for LGBT rights since he announced to the world he was a gay man in 2005. Best known for his role playing Starship Enterprise helmsman Hikaru Sulu in the beloved “Star Trek” TV series and through six films, Takei reports he’s more in demand than ever after kicking open the closet door.

Variety spoke with the actor in the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on Friday that legalizes gay marriage nationwide. At the time, Takei, who is married to Brad Altman, said he was “optimistic” the court would endorse same-sex couples’ right to wed. He also talked about his years in the closet and the reaction “Star Trek” fans had to the news he was a gay man.

Were you hesitant to come out of the closet?

George Takei: I was closeted most of my adult life and most of my career, because I wanted to work passionately and I loved acting, and I knew I could’t have that if I was out. When I was a teenager, the biggest heartthrob was Tab Hunter. He was in every movie out of Warner Bros. until he was exposed as gay and his career faded. That was an object lesson. I knew I must protect my sexual orientation.

When I came out, I was 68 and I was totally prepared for my career to recede when I spoke to the press for the first time. What happened after that blew me away. I started getting more offers. My career blossomed. I got more guest shots as gay George Takei than ever, and I got an offer from Howard Stern to be his official announcer.

How did “Star Trek” fans react to the news you were gay?

“Star Trek” fans totally accepted my sexual orientation. There are a great number of LGBT people across “Star Trek” fandom. The show always appealed to people that were different — the geeks and the nerds, and the people who felt they were not quite a part of society, sometimes because they may have been gay or lesbian.

“Star Trek” is about acceptance and the strength of the Starship Enterprise is that it embraces diversity in all its forms…”


“Nina Simone: Gloriously Revived In New Netflix Documentary”

“The new Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? gives the extraordinary singer Nina Simone back to mass culture in a way she hasn’t been present for decades. Director Liz Garbus had a considerable challenge — to keep the details of the life Simone led from overwhelming the presentation of her art, and Garbus succeeds in this admirably.

From the start, the film makes clear Simone was unique. A poor, classically trained pianist who had to fight both poverty and racism to make the art she heard in her head, Simone found her voice in the 1960s, performing idiosyncratic versions of pop, folk, and jazz compositions.

She became radicalized by the civil rights and black-power movements of the 1960s and early 70s: It’s still startling to hear the blunt ferocity in a song she performed such as “Mississippi Goddam,” about the murder of civil rights figure Medgar Evers and the bombing of a Mississippi church that killed four black children. We tend to think we live in more open, un-shockable times, but imagine how pop culture would erupt even today if a well-known pop singer recorded a song as eloquently angry called “Charleston Goddam…”


“MARVEL STUDIOS Head Promises BLACK PANTHER, CAPTAIN MARVEL Directors This Summer & ‘Big Shift’ Towards Diversity”

“Diversity has become a key piece of Marvel’s comic line heading into “All-New All-Different Marvel,” and over in its film division studio President Kevin Feige says there’s a “big shift happening” behind the scenes, even going up to the choice of directors for the upcoming Black Panther andCaptain Marvel movies as touched upon in an interview forThe Hollywood Reporter.

“It’s an issue across the industry, for sure. And the issue is, we need to find the best director for any given movie. And that’s really where we always start. If diversity is part of that, it’s great. It’s important,” Feige said. “You will start to see things across the industry as a whole change as more filmmakers come up through the ranks and become part of making movies like this.”

Although all of the Marvel Studios’ have been directed by white men, the Studio has attempted to hire outside of that in the past. Patty Jenkins was hired for Thor: The Dark World but left two months in over “creative differences,” and in the early 2000s they hired John Singleton for a planned Luke Cage film that was cancelled.

“I think it will happen sooner rather than later, without giving too much away,” Feige said. “But you look back sometimes, and it’s just the nature of this industry, or the nature of the cultureBut there’s a big shift happening. What’s exciting about Marvel, go back and look at the source material: It’s been diverse in a cutting-edge way going back to the ’60s, and I think we’ve represented that effortlessly and accurately in the movies we’ve made up to this point, but certainly with Black Panther and Captain Marvel doing it in a much more overt and purposeful way.”

Feige said that directors for both films should be chosen by the end of summer emphasizing Black Panther especially. Recently there’s been rumors that Selma director Ava DuVernay had already been hired to direct, and Feige said that she’s one of several directors the studio has met with but no decision has been made…”