Disney buying large part of 21st Century Fox in $52.4b deal

Posted December 14, 2017 23:34:47

Disney is buying a large part of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox in a $US52.4 billion deal, including film and television studios, cable and international TV businesses as it tries to meet competition from technology companies in the entertainment business.

Before the buyout, 21st Century Fox will separate the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a newly listed company that will be spun off to its shareholders.

Fox assets that will be sold to Disney, include the Twentieth Century Fox movie and cable networks.

Fox currently owns the rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four and has mixed success with both.

Under the mega-merger, Marvel (which is owned by Disney) will gain back the rights to two of its biggest properties from the comic books.

Disney will also assume about $US13.7 billion of net debt of 21st Century Fox.

Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger, 66, will extend his tenure through the end of 2021 to oversee the integration of the Fox businesses.

He has already postponed his retirement from Disney three times. In March, he said he was committed to leaving the company in July 2019.

The entertainment business is going through big changes with tech companies building video divisions and advertisers following consumer attention to the internet.

Disney is launching new streaming services, which could be helped with the addition of the Fox assets.

Having its own services will allow Disney to bypass the likes of Netflix and charge consumers directly for access to its massive content library.

ABC/wires

Topics: film-movies, arts-and-entertainment, film, business-economics-and-finance, industry, united-states

Relax. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in good hands

Updated December 14, 2017 10:12:26

Breathe. The Star Wars franchise is in good hands with writer-director Rian Jonson, who delivers an enthralling, often funny and at times achingly beautiful galactic adventure in The Last Jedi.

With a something-for-everyone appeal, it’s not so much a space opera as a sci-fi variety show.

But Jonson avoids the pitfalls of compromise with his nimble direction, guiding the film smoothly between solemn exposition, self-aware humour and thrilling action sequences.

Following on from The Force Awakens in 2015, directed by JJ Abrams, the events in the movie essentially occur during an extended intergalactic chase sequence.

Carrie Fisher, who died after shooting had finished, plays a defiant Princess Leia, commanding the last remnants of the rebel fleet as they run from the giant arrowhead destroyers of the evil First Order.

The trio of newcomers from The Force Awakens returns, but have their own adventures.

Hot-headed X-wing ace Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) stays close to home, clashing with his female superiors over tactics.

Stormtrooper defector Finn (John Boyega), finds himself in a meet cute situation with a maintenance worker (Kelly Marie Tran), before taking her on a behind the scenes mission.

Meanwhile, Rey (the ever-compelling Daisy Ridley), picks up literally where the last film left off, making contact with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who’s living in self-imposed exile on a remote island.

Rey, Kylo Ren embody franchise at its best

Such a broad scope might have stretched some directors too thin, especially over a marathon 152 minutes.

But Jonson, collaborating with regular cinematographer Steve Yedlin, who’s worked on all of his films from Brick to Looper, delivers a movie full of movement, elegance and colour.

His lightsaber fights are particularly good — choreographed with lip-smacking gladiatorial drama.

But he can also turn a small detail, like the way the hood of a robe frames the face of Mark Hamill, into a moment to savour.

The recurring use of deep crimson is a dazzling motif. It appears initially in the shiny armour of First Order guards, then in a battle scene as war machines carve up the white surface of a salt-covered planet, revealing the blood red soil beneath.

Thematically, red evokes revolution and generational tensions, both front and centre in the film.

The question of what constitutes legitimate authority is a focus of various threads, and it’s a particularly traumatic theme in Rey’s story as she begins to question Luke’s loyalty to the cause.

But it’s Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, the First Order’s brooding heir apparent, who best channels the film’s deepest traumas.

Physically scarred and battered, he’s also a psychologically wrecked torchbearer for the franchise tradition of deeply conflicted characters torn between kin, duty and ambition.

The boldness with which The Last Jedi embraces its younger characters’ dysfunction is what makes it such a welcome addition to the Star Wars series.

Its reverence for franchise lore is unmistakable, but this never overshadows a deeper curiosity and genuine enthusiasm for its human drama.

The Star Wars fictional world arguably hits a sweet spot when it’s about villains and heroes who are distinguishable only by the way they deal with their inner demons.

In this regard, Rey and Kylo Ren are two characters who continue to embody the best of what the franchise has to offer.

Topics: film-movies, science-fiction-films, fantasy-films, australia

First posted December 14, 2017 09:53:55

Romper Stomper creator says TV reboot more relevant than ever

Updated December 13, 2017 07:05:58

The upcoming Romper Stomper TV reboot is already dividing opinion and sparking a backlash — not that director Geoffrey Wright is concerned.

Two decades after his cult film about a gang of neo-Nazis in Melbourne’s west roared into Australian cinemas, he is back on board for a new six-part TV series to air soon.

And he is as unapologetic as ever about putting a bunch of skinheads on our screens.

“This is what’s happening in the world,” he told News Breakfast of the timing for the new show.

“I mean, what occurred to me in the course of thinking about what we could ever do about a sequel, you [only had to see] what was happening in the news.

“You see right-wing outfits like United Patriots Front or left-wing outfits like Antifa locking horns and what is going on in the broader world and at the highest level of politics.”

New show, new targets

The 1992 film — starring a young Russel Crowe as gang leader Hando — took you inside the world of neo-Nazis and the predominantly Vietnamese victims they targeted.

Having grown up in Melbourne’s west, Wright knew he was tapping into an underlying anxiety about clashing cultures at the time.

In the TV series, however, Asians have been largely swapped out for Muslims in a move that has already drawn fresh criticism.

And while skinheads still exist, the protagonists also include conservative media commentators and wealthy white men who lead their campaigns from lush apartments rather than abandoned warehouses.

The show also fleshes out the story of the opposing far left, with characters from an Antifa-style group given plenty of screen time to build a narrative around a clash of two extremes.

For Wright, there has never been a more relevant time to explore these concepts.

“If Hando were to come back from the dead and look around the world of 2017 approaching 2018, he would think that there were more than interesting opportunities,” he said.

“Here we are in the time of just post Brexit and Donald Trump.

“This time we get to look at people caught in the middle and extremes of both the left as well as the right.”

Straight from real life

Plotlines from the upcoming show — due to be released on streaming service Stan on January 1 — could well have been lifted from events of just the past month.

Last week forces of the far left and far right clashed violently in Melbourne over the arrival of controversial right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopolous.

Indeed, the fictional group in the TV reboot is called Patriot Blue — the very name adopted by the alt-right group that ambushed Labor senator Sam Dastyari in a pub last month, calling him a “terrorist” and a “monkey”.

It is precisely these sorts of events that some feared would follow the 1992 film’s release.

Such was film critic David Stratton’s concern that he famously refused to rate it, calling it “dangerous”.

“In Australia at the time, there was a lot of unrest about Asian immigration. I feared the violence in the film would incite copycat crimes,” he later reflected in the series, David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema.

Wright scoffed at that idea then, and exacted his revenge on Stratton by pouring a glass of wine on him when they saw each other at the Venice Film Festival in the mid 90s.

He remains as equally incensed by Stratton now and said the pair has not made up.

“People like David Stratton feeling or implying that if an audience were to watch Romper Stomper all of a sudden they would drop all of their ethics they brought into the cinema and turn into the characters they were watching on the screen, this is just nonsense,” he said.

“It was then, it is now.”

‘We don’t get nuance’

Wright rails against what he sees as an overly politically-correct Australia and says there is room to explore challenging concepts.

“Australia doesn’t get a lot of nuance and we don’t get a lot of irony either,” he said.

“It’s just not the place for that. But I like to bring those qualities.”

Film critic Luke Buckmaster has seen the first two episodes of the show and said there was a reason people were talking about it.

“Geoffrey Wright and the filmmakers and producers understand that controversy sells,” he said.

“So in that sense it’s all a little bit of history repeating.

“The show is also a very well made series, and like the original film and controversy surrounding it, if this was a poorly made film or TV show we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

Buckmaster said it was incorrect to assume television and film couldn’t influence society; however, he said he would fight for right for artists to create challenge and confronting work.

“But with that right has to come some responsibility,” he said.

“I sincerely hope that the new Romper Stomper TV series doesn’t become the television equivalent of walking into a crowded room and yelling ‘fire!'”

Topics: film-movies, arts-and-entertainment, television, race-relations, australia

First posted December 13, 2017 07:00:23

The unanswered questions we have going into The Last Jedi

Updated December 13, 2017 05:57:03

“This is not going to go the way you think,” according to Luke Skywalker.

If the Jedi Master’s words in the latest trailer for Star Wars The Last Jedi ring true, then we will likely have a hard time guessing how the plot will pan out.

It’s been two years since cinema goers left Rey standing on that rocky hillside offering up a lightsaber to Luke.

So if you’re a little fuzzy with where we left everyone and what the big unanswered questions are, strap yourself into our Millennium Falcon and prepare to make the jump.

A note about spoilers: If you’re the type of person who has avoided the trailers and various news articles, back out now. This article draws on publicly available material like The Last Jedi trailers and cast interviews. This includes Luke’s first three words to Rey. There are no direct spoilers for the plot beyond that public material and all previous films, but there are some educated guesses based on what we know so far.

Where did we leave everyone?

  • Luke Skywalker: Still standing on a rocky island on the planet Ahch-To, home of the first Jedi temple. He’s not too pleased his long-running game of hide-and-seek has ended.
  • Rey: Handing Anakin Skywalker’s blue lightsaber over to Luke (who last saw this weapon when Darth Vader relieved him of it, and his hand, on Lando’s cloud city Bespin many decades ago)
  • Finn: Recovering at the Rebel Resistance base on D’Qar after a nasty back wound he acquired in a lightsaber duel with Kylo Ren.
  • Leia Organa: Also at the resistance base.
  • Poe Dameron: Resistance base, as well. The hotshot X-wing pilot returned victorious after destroying Starkiller base.
  • Kylo Ren: He left Starkiller base to go meet up with his boss, Supreme Leader Snoke. We don’t know where he’s hiding.
  • Han Solo: *sadface*

So… who are Rey’s parents?

This is by far the biggest question we were left with.

Rey’s latent force powers hint at her coming from a family strong in the Force. Perhaps the Skywalkers?

We can guess that she’s not Luke’s daughter because Luke seemingly doesn’t know who she is (his first word to her: ‘Who are you?’).

A crazier theory is that she is Han and Leia’s daughter, perhaps a twin to Kylo, and the reason they don’t realise is because they may have been led to believe she died as an infant.

Someone left her as a young child on Jakku — either intending to pick her up again after a danger had passed or to abandon her, perhaps because they were fearful she may show an aptitude in the Force.

Let’s not forget Rey shares the same skills of daring flying and tinkering with engines as Han Solo.

Curiously, actress Daisy Ridley said Rey’s parentage was answered in The Force Awakens, but then kept her lips sealed when she realised no-one else knew what she was talking about.

Are we missing something?

Why does Luke want the Jedi to ‘end’?

“It’s time for the Jedi to end,” Luke says, presumably to Rey, in the trailer for The Last Jedi.

We have a pretty good theory already about why that might be.

Remember the prophecy in The Phantom Menace that Anakin Skywalker “would bring balance to the Force”?

Well, he did bring balance.

The Jedi were enormously powerful and he helped wipe them out, and then for good measure when the Empire had grown so powerful, he killed the Emperor.

There were no Force users left, aside from Luke. Everything was pretty level.

And then after the events of Return of the Jedi, Luke sets out to create a brand new Jedi academy and starts training new pupils. This has pushed the ‘balance’ out of whack.

Ben Solo turns on him and destroys the academy, killing the pupils.

Finally, Luke understands that the Jedi need to come to an end so that the evil Sith do as well. Otherwise there will always be a tug-of-war of extremes.

That might explain why the last surviving Jedi Master in the galaxy is hiding himself on a barren island. He’s taking himself out of the picture.

This is Carrie Fisher’s final film — will that affect the plot?

Carrie Fisher’s sudden death last December came as a shock to the entertainment world.

She had finished filming for The Last Jedi, but we don’t know if her death means the final film in the new trilogy will need to change.

Director Rian Johnson told ABC News Breakfast that he didn’t have to recut The Last Jedi in the wake of Fisher’s death, and that the entire performance was still there.

“She’s so good in the movie, it’s such a beautiful performance and it’s a complete performance. We had totally shot the whole thing,” he added.

Whether Princess Leia lives or dies in The Last Jedi, we know that that outcome was what was originally intended.

What is Supreme Leader Snoke’s agenda?

Being evil and stuff, probably.

Snoke’s motivations were not developed at all in The Force Awakens.

Who is this crumple-faced dude? Why does he want to destroy the New Republic? Where did he get all these tens of thousands of First Order followers from?

Hopefully The Last Jedi answers some of this. Otherwise his character is simply ‘evil guy who wants power’.

It’s not even clear why anyone would follow him.

At least Emperor Palpatine was actually emperor of the galactic government. He had a lot of backers.

Why would someone join the First Order instead of take part in the New Republic? Who knows.

Actor Andy Serkis, who plays Snoke, has said the character has unlimited resources, and like all tyrants, is fearful of losing his amassed power.

His twisted, crumpled body gives the character a degree of vulnerability.

Will we meet the Knights of Ren?

The Force Awakens gave us the briefest of glimpses at Kylo’s posse — the Knights of Ren.

Rey sees a vision of them destroying Luke’s Jedi academy when she first touches the lightsaber.

The six members we’ve seen, plus Kylo, all look like they belong to a Darth Vader fan club. And maybe that’s what they are.

Reporting to Supreme Leader Snoke, Kylo seems to be in charge of the group.

Here’s hoping we’ll get to see a lot more of these guys and their funky Vader cosplay in The Last Jedi.

How does Captain Phasma get out of the trash compactor?

The most woeful character in The Force Awakens has to be Captain Phasma, which is a shame, because she’s played by the wonderful Gwendoline Christie (Brienne in Game of Thrones).

Phasma looks shiny and menacing but does nothing all film until at the end she’s crash-tackled by Chewbacca and, with a blaster to her head, brings down the shields at Starkiller base for the Resistance.

Finn and Han decide to then throw her down a garbage chute instead of take her with them as a prisoner. Not that much later Starkiller base explodes, killing everyone left there.

So how does she survive to appear in The Last Jedi? Maybe we’ll never know.

At least it looks like she’s got some cool fight scenes this time around.

Topics: film-movies, science-and-technology, arts-and-entertainment, united-states, australia

First posted December 13, 2017 05:52:33

Golden Globes: Kevin Spacey’s replacement is nominated for a movie that isn’t finished yet

Updated December 12, 2017 09:51:25

The actor who replaced Kevin Spacey in a film after sexual misconduct allegations arose against Spacey has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance.

Christopher Plummer has been nominated as best supporting actor in director Ridley Scott’s film All the Money in the World. He only finished filming his scenes two weeks ago.

What makes the nomination all the more unusual is that Scott is still editing the film. A rough cut was screened last week for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organisation behind the Globes.

“They pulled off a miraculous feat over the last month and I’m delighted to have been a part of this unique experience,” Plummer said after his nomination was announced.

Scott has also been nominated as best director, while Michelle Williams is up for best actress for her role in the as-yet unfinished film. Spacey was reported to have been considered a possibility to be nominated for his original work on the film.

The Golden Globes, to be held on January 8, 2018 (Australian time) are the most major ceremony in Hollywood’s awards season to confront the post-Harvey Weinstein landscape.

Spacey’s Netflix series House of Cards was snubbed in the television categories, as was Transparent. Its star, Jeffrey Tambor, is also facing sexual harassment claims and is not expected to return to the series next season.

There were nominations for Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and Geoffrey Rush

HBO drama Big Little Lies, based on the Australian best-selling novel, led the television categories with six nods.

Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie were among the Australian nominees for this year’s awards, as well as Geoffrey Rush, who was nominated for best performance by a lead actor in a limited series or TV movie for his Albert Einstein in Nat Geo’s Genius.

On Friday, Rush filed a defamation suit against the Daily Telegraph for a since-deleted report that the Sydney Theatre Company received a complaint of “inappropriate behaviour” by the actor.

Guillermo del Toro‘s Cold War-era fairytale The Shape of Water led with seven nominations in the film awards, with several other movies following close behind — including Steven Spielberg’s Pentagon Papers drama The Post, with six nominations, and Martin McDonagh’s revenge drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, also with six nods.

Here are the major snubs

Despite considerable backlash, Get Out ended up on the comedy side of the Globes after being submitted that way by Universal Pictures. The HFPA ultimately decides genre classification.

Writer/director Jordan Peele slyly commented on the controversy, calling his social critique of latent racism “a documentary”.

But the morning’s biggest surprise might have been the complete omission of the romantic comedy The Big Sick, penned by real-life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon.

Another Oscar underdog, The Florida Project, emerged with only one nomination, for Willem Dafoe’s supporting performance as the manager of a low-rent motel.

HBO, which recently announced a second season for Big Little Lies, led TV networks with 12 nominations overall — Netflix followed with nine nods.

Also with multiple nominations were Netflix’s Stranger Things, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale and NBC’s This Is Us.

HBO’s Game of Thrones received a nod for best drama series, but nothing for its cast.

All the best directors are male (apparently)

Though some predicted and feared an acting field lacking diversity, the nominees were fairly inclusive.

Among the 30 film acting nominees were Denzel Washington for Roman J Israel, Esq, Mary J Blige for Mudbound, Hong Chau for Downsizing and Octavia Spencer for The Shape of Water.

But the best director category remained all-male, as it has for most of Globes and Academy Awards history.

Contenders like Greta Gerwig — whose film Lady Bird garnered four nominations, including nods for star Saoirse Ronan, supporting actress Laurie Metcalf and Gerwig’s screenplay — Patty Jenkins (for Wonder Woman) and Dee Rees (for Mudbound) were overlooked for a group of Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Christopher Nolan, McDonagh and Scott.

This is the full list of Golden Globe nominations for 2017.

Best Motion Picture, Drama

Call me by Your Name

Dunkirk

The Post

The Shape of the Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

The Disaster Artist

Get Out

The Greatest Showman

I, Tonya

Lady Bird

Best Motion Picture, Animated

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner

Coco

Ferdinand

Loving Vincent

Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

First They Killed My Father (Cambodia)

In the Fade (Germany/France)

Loveless (Russia)

The Square (Sweden/Germany/France)

Best Director, Motion Picture

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Ridley Scott, All the Money in the World

Steven Spielberg, The Post

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture

Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, The Post

Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game

Best original song, Motion Picture

Home, Ferdinand

Mighty River, Mudbound

Remember Me, Coco

The Star, The Star

This is Me, The Greatest Showman

Best Original Score, Motion Picture

Carter Burwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water

Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread

John Williams, The Post

Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture

Armie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name

Christopher Plummer, All the Money In The World

Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Tom Hanks, The Post

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington, Roman J Israel Esq

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes

Ansel Elgort, Baby Driver

James Franco, The Disaster Artist

Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Meryl Streep, The Post

Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Judi Dench, Victoria & Abdul

Helen Mirren, The Leisure Seeker

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

Mary J Blige, Mudbound

Hong Chau, Downsizing

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Best Television Series, Drama

The Crown, Netflix

Game of Thrones, HBO

The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu

Stranger Things, Netflix

This Is Us, NBC

Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy

black-ish, ABC

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Amazon

Master of None, Netflix

Smilf, Showtime

Will & Grace, NBC

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Big Little Lies, HBO

Fargo, FX

Feud: Bette and Joan, FX

The Sinner, USA Network

Top of the Lake: China Girl, SundanceTV

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies

Jude Law, The Young Pope

Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks

Ewan McGregor, Fargo

Geoffrey Rush, Genius

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Drama

Jason Bateman, Ozark

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

Freddie Highmore, The Good Doctor

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy

Anthony Anderson, black-ish

Aziz Ansari, Master of None

Kevin Bacon, I Love Dick

William H. Macy, Shameless

Eric McCormack, Will & Grace

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

David Harbour, Stranger Things

Alfred Molina, Feud: Bette and Joan

Christian Slater: Mr Robot

Alexander Skarsgard: Big Little Lies

David Thewlis: Fargo

ABC/AP

Topics: arts-and-entertainment, film-movies, television, human-interest, united-states

First posted December 12, 2017 09:30:05

Spacey accused of groping Norwegian King’s son-in-law

Posted December 09, 2017 14:53:33

The former husband of the King of Norway’s daughter says actor Kevin Spacey groped him during the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo.

Ari Behn, who was married to Princess Martha Louise, the daughter of King Harald, for 14 years, told Norwegian radio Spacey sat next to him at the event.

“We had a great talk,” Mr Behn was quoted by the BBC as saying on Norwegian radio station P4.

“After five minutes he said, ‘Hey, let’s go out and have a cigarette’. Then he puts his hand under the table and grabs me …”

He said he declined Spacey’s approach by saying “maybe later”.

Behn, 45, married Martha Louise, fourth in line to the Norwegian throne, in 2002.

Last year, they decided to split but share custody of their three daughters.

Spacey, who was co-hosting the December event in 2007 has faced numerous sexual misconduct and assault allegations, but he has remained mostly silent.

He came under fire for coming out as gay in his apology to actor Anthony Rapp, with members of the LGBTI community saying he was “deflecting” from Rapp’s allegations.

Rapp, known for his roles in Rent and Star Trek: Discovery, has alleged Spacey made a sexual advance towards him when he was aged 14, and Spacey 26.

The embattled actor, who has won two Oscars, was also dropped from his lead role in Netflix series House of Cards.

Netflix severed ties with Spacey in November, announcing his former co-star Robin Wright would take the lead in the series’ final season in 2018.

ABC and wires

Topics: sexual-offences, arts-and-entertainment, film-movies, law-crime-and-justice, community-and-society, norway, united-states

What the court documents reveal about Geoffrey Rush’s defamation action

Updated December 08, 2017 19:50:56

The defamation suit filed by Geoffrey Rush against The Daily Telegraph claims the newspaper made him out to be a “pervert” and “sexual predator” with their “KING LEER” headline.

The 66-year-old actor has launched defamation proceedings against the tabloid, with a statement of claim filed in the Federal Court today.

The documents also allege that Rush was forced out of his role as the AACTA president, rather than voluntarily stepping aside, as he told the media on the weekend.

Who is he suing?

The 2012 Australian of Year is suing the owner of The Daily Telegraph, Nationwide News Pty Limited, and the journalist who penned the articles, Jonathon Moran.

Moran is a reporter for the Confidential section of the newspaper which reports on entertainment news and celebrity gossip.

His reporting was on the front page of the print publication and widely distributed online when the stories were published.

What is he suing for?

The statement of claim lodged by Rush’s lawyers takes aim at a series of articles, headlines and social media.

The first complaint is about the newspaper’s billboard on November 30, a poster usually seen on the outside of newsagents, which said: “WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Geoffrey Rush in scandal claims, theatre company confirms ‘inappropriate behaviour’.”

The court documents allege the implication was that Rush had “engaged in scandalously inappropriate behaviour” and “inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature” in the theatre.

The next issue was about the article published that same day which was run with the front page headline: “KING LEER: World Exclusive Oscar-winner Rush denies ‘inappropriate behaviour’ during Sydney stage show.”

The lawyers claim the article, billboard and headlines had defamatory meaning and made Rush out to be a “pervert” a “sexual predator” and had engaged in “inappropriate behaviour” against another person in the Sydney Theatre Company’s 2015 production of King Lear.

The second article which Rush’s lawyers raised as a problem was published on December 1 with the headline “WE’RE WITH YOU: Theatre cast back accuser as Rush denies ‘touching'”.

Rush’s team argue the meaning that could be taken from this is he behaved as a “sexual predator”, had “committed sexual assault”, was ” a pervert”, had “inappropriately touched an actress” and his behaviour was so serious the STC “would never work with him again”.

What else?

One of the further complaints is how Rush’s allegations were linked to other high-profile reports in recent weeks of sexual harassment and assault in the screen and theatre worlds: namely producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey and Australian television presenter Don Burke.

The legal team pointed out that The Daily Telegraph published in print the allegations about their famous client alongside an article “about allegations concerning alleged sexual predator and television personality Don Burke so as to falsely and unfairly associate the allegations against the applicant with the allegations against Mr Burke”.

The damages section also claimed that the newspaper’s labelling of Rush as “King Leer” and “Bard behaviour” ridiculed Rush and damaged his reputation.

Special damages alleged were that Rush would suffer “economic loss”, his reputation would be “irreparably harmed” so that he would be “shunned by employers in future” and he was asked to quit as AACTA president.

How much money is involved?

The documents don’t give Rush’s defamation action a dollar figure.

Other recent high-profile defamation cases by celebrities against media outlets have some large dollar amounts attached to them.

Australian actor Rebel Wilson successfully sued Bauer Media for $4.5 million over a series of articles that appeared in Woman’s Day, Women’s Weekly, OK Magazine and New Weekly in 2015.

Bauer said they would be appealing the decision.

What is the newspaper’s response?

The Daily Telegraph editor Chris Dore said they would defend the newspaper’s reporting in court.

“The Daily Telegraph accurately reported the Sydney Theatre Company received a complaint alleging that Mr Geoffrey Rush had engaged in inappropriate behaviour,” he said.

“We will defend our position in court.”

The matter is expected to reach court early in 2018.

Topics: arts-and-entertainment, bullying, film-movies, actor, sydney-2000, melbourne-3000

First posted December 08, 2017 19:38:42