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‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ pulled from some Canadian radio stations

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  • TORONTO — “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is getting a chilly response from Canadian radio stations.

    At least two of the country’s biggest radio operators — Rogers Media and Bell Media — say they’ve decided to pull the controversial Christmas favourite out of their rotations this year.

    That comes as the duet, written back in 1944, faces renewed scrutiny over what some say are inappropriate lyrics in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

    Earlier this week, Cleveland radio station WDOK-FM announced it was no longer playing the song in response to listener feedback. Some took issue over lyrics where one singer is trying to persuade the other to stay inside, with exchanges that include, “What’s in this drink?” and “Baby, don’t hold out.”

    Bell Media spokesman Scott Henderson says the company, which runs two 24-hour Christmas stations in Vancouver and Ottawa, chose not to include the Christmas tune on its playlists this year.

    “The song wasn’t scheduled for airplay on any Bell Media Radio stations and there are no plans to play it in the future,” he wrote in an emailed statement.

    Rogers Media also runs a number of all-Christmas music stations, including 98.1 CHFI-FM in Toronto and 98.5 CIOC-FM in Victoria. Spokeswoman Caitlin Decarie says the broadcaster also removed the song this year, but declined outline how it reached the decision.

    “There are so many wonderful songs that celebrate the holiday season,” she said.

    A representative for CBC Radio was unable to answer whether its stations include the Christmas song in its current rotation.

    “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has been considered a holiday classic ever since it won the Academy Award for best original song in the film “Neptune’s Daughter.”

    It’s since been covered countless times by singers Ray Charles and Betty Carter, Idina Menzel & Michael Buble, as well as Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart.

    Concern over the song has existed for years, leading to many reinterpretations of the lyrics.

    Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt flipped the gender roles in a performance for the pop singer’s 2013 holiday special with the Muppets.

    And two years ago, Minnesota couple Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski rewrote the lyrics to include lines about consent, such as a response to the woman’s line “I ought to say no, no, no” with the man saying: “You reserve the right to say no.”

     

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    David Friend, The Canadian Press


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    Netflix announces creation of production hub in Toronto

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  • TORONTO — Netflix is setting up a dedicated production hub in Toronto, which film and TV creators hope will provide new opportunities for local talent.

    The California-based streaming giant announced Tuesday it is expanding its presence in Canada by leasing two studio spaces along the downtown industrial waterfront area.

    At Cinespace Studios, Netflix is leasing four new sound stages — along with spaces for office and support work — totalling approximately 164,000 square feet.

    At Pinewood Toronto Studios, Netflix is also leasing four sound stages and adjacent office space totalling 84,580 square feet.

    Netflix said the commitment will provide jobs for up to 1,850 Canadians per year, and that the leases are “multi-year” but didn’t specify for exactly how long.

    “This is great news for the Toronto and the Ontario community, because it’s an endorsement of the high quality of the work that comes out of our industry,” said Jim Mirkopoulos, vice-president of Cinespace.

    “Netflix has made a commitment to the film and television industry here that they’re going to continue to do stuff and by making this announcement, they’re standing by that,” added Nanci MacLean, president of Pinewood Toronto Studios.

    Cinespace said its sound stages leased by Netflix are under construction and set to be operational this summer.

    Pinewood said Netflix will move a production onto one of its sound stages in the next couple of weeks. The four sound stages being leased are separate from Pinewood Toronto Studios’ previously announced planned expansion.

    Projects already set to be made at the hub include the horror anthology series “Guillermo del Toro Presents Ten After Midnight” and the film “Let It Snow.”

    Netflix has production facilities in Los Angeles and recently announced new hubs for Madrid and Albuquerque, N.M.

    It also leases British Columbia’s Martini Film Studios and production sites across Canada on a case-by-case basis.

    Its co-productions with Canadian partners have included “Anne with an E” and “Alias Grace” with CBC, “Travelers” with Showcase, and “Frontier” with Discovery Canada.

    Speculation of a Toronto hub started swirling last month when Mayor John Tory, who has been making annual trips to Los Angeles to lure film and TV projects to the city, told The Canadian Press he had “a very high level of confidence” that Netflix would open one up.

    Tory’s words drew positive reaction from local screen talent, who said they hoped it would foster Canadian projects.

    “In television right now, they’re always going to be my first stop, frankly,” said Toronto producer J. Miles Dale, who is developing “Ten After Midnight” with del Toro, with whom he won an Oscar last year for “The Shape of Water.” Dale is also developing his own Netflix series, “44 Chapters About Men,” which he hopes will be at the hub.

    “You can say whatever you want, you can show whatever you want, you can show real adult situations without the kind of censorship that comes in.”

    Netflix is giving a similar freedom to filmmakers, said Dean DeBlois, the Aylmer, Que.-raised director of “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” out Friday.

    “It’s the wild west of filmmaking within their particular format and I have several friends who have gone to Netflix with original projects and they’re just having the best time of their careers,” said DeBlois.

    “They’re willing to take a chance on a completely original project and not just resurrect something that’s been done before.”

    Streaming services are also one-stop shops for Canadian creators who usually have to go through multiple avenues to find producers, sellers, distributors and financing, said Oscar-nominated Toronto director Hubert Davis.

    “For filmmakers, that might be the best option for your project to get it going, as opposed to going to all of these different sources to get it made,” he said.

    Vancouver-based producer and filmmaker David Paperny is looking forward to the possibility of conducting business within Canada.

    “They could have their ear closer to the ground of the vast Canadian talent source out here,” said Paperny.

    “So it will be easier to pitch them, it will be easier for them to work in collaboration with us on our productions.”

    But some worry the hub will take up precious studio space that producers are clamouring for in Toronto.

    Netflix has also faced heavy criticism from Canadian broadcasters and other industry players for not being on a level playing field when it comes to regulation in Canada.

    Because it’s a foreign digital company, Netflix isn’t required to collect or remit federal or provincial sales tax.

    So far Netflix also hasn’t fallen under federal regulations that require the country’s broadcasting companies to pay into the Canada Media Fund for the creation of homegrown programming.

    Netflix has argued it shouldn’t be forced to pay into such funds, pointing to the money it’s already putting into the system by creating shows here.

    In September 2017, the company pledged to spend $500 million over five years to fund original content made in Canada, a number it recently said it will exceed.

    “I’m all for (a hub), bring it on. I just care about Canada’s voice and Canadian content,” said Virginia Thompson, co-executive producer of “Corner Gas” and co-founder of Verite Films.

    “If there are more jobs for people in the city, great. And if it increases the chance of people here making (stuff), then terrific,” added Toronto-based actor/filmmaker Jay Baruchel, star of “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”

    “When a big corporation comes to town, it could be awesome, but it’s not guaranteed to be so…. Whatever puts resources in the hands of talented Canadian artists, I’m all for it.”

    Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press





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    National Entertainment

    Avenatti says he has new video evidence against R. Kelly

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  • CHICAGO — Attorney Michael Avenatti said Thursday that he has given Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of R&B star R. Kelly having sex with an underage girl.

    Avenatti said the video is not the same evidence used in Kelly’s 2008 trial, when he was acquitted on child pornography charges. CNN, which said it had viewed the footage, reported that the nearly 45-minute VHS tape shows a man who appears to be Kelly performing sex acts with a girl who refers to her body parts as 14 years old.

    Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, would not confirm or deny that the office is investigating.

    Kelly and his attorney have for years denied allegations of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday on the latest allegations.

    Avenatti is best known for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump. He said his office was retained in April 2018 by multiple people regarding allegations of sexual assault of minors by Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Kelly.

    Avenatti said the video surfaced during a 10-month investigation that included witness interviews and examination of documents and evidence throughout the U.S. He told The Associated Press the person who provided the tape knew both Kelly and the female in the video. He also said he did not know where the person had kept the video or why it had not previously been provided to law enforcement.

    Both Kelly and the victim are “clearly visible” throughout the recording, as is an identifying mole on Kelly’s back, and both of them refer multiple times to the girl being 14, Avenatti said in a statement.

    Kelly can be heard on the tape directing the girl to perform sex acts, the statement said. The singer also “takes great pains” to adjust the camera to ensure that the acts are recorded “with specificity and at a limited distance,” according to the statement.

    Foxx asked potential victims to come forward last month after Lifetime aired the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” which revisited the allegations against Kelly and put a spotlight on new ones.

    Activists from the #MeToo and #MuteRKelly social media movements used the renewed attention to call for streaming services to drop Kelly’s music and promoters not to book any more concerts. They also held protests outside Kelly’s Chicago studio.

    Kelly denied all the allegations, and his lawyer, Steve Greenberg, said Kelly was the victim of a TV hit piece . He said Kelly “never knowingly had sex with an underage woman, he never forced anyone to do anything, he never held anyone captive, he never abused anyone.”

    Avenatti said his office is co-operating with Foxx’s office. He called Kelly a predator who has preyed on “young, vulnerable girls” for too long.

    “The time has come for him to finally be held accountable for his actions,” he said.

    Avenatti did not say when the video was recorded but said the acts depicted in it are within the Illinois statute of limitations for criminal charges.

    Illinois lawmakers in 2017 eliminated all time limits for felony criminal sexual assault and sexual abuse crimes against children. The new law was prompted in part by decades-old sex abuse allegations against former Rep. Dennis Hastert, who was charged with banking violations because under Illinois law victims of sex abuse had 20 years from their 18th birthday to report the crime so it could be prosecuted.

    ___

    More of The Associated Press’ coverage of the investigations into R. Kelly can be found at: https://www.apnews.com/RKelly .

    Sara Burnett, The Associated Press


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