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National Entertainment

Emma Thompson to Skydance: I won’t work with John Lasseter

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  • NEW YORK — In a letter to Skydance Media, Emma Thompson outlined why she refused to work with the former Pixar executive John Lasseter and was withdrawing from the animated film “Luck.”

    Thompson departed the project last month shortly after Skydance chief executive David Ellison hired Lasseter, the Pixar co-founder and former Walt Disney Co. animation chief. Lasseter last year was forced out at Disney after acknowledging “missteps” in his behaviour with female employees.

    In her letter to Ellison , Thompson said she felt it was “very odd to me that you and your company would consider hiring someone with Mr. Lasseter’s pattern of misconduct given the present climate.”

    “If a man has been touching women inappropriately for decades, why would a woman want to work for him if the only reason he’s not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract that he must behave ‘professionally’?” wrote Thompson. “If a man has made women at his companies feel undervalued and disrespected for decades, why should the women at his new company think that any respect he shows them is anything other than an act that he’s required to perform by his coach, his therapist and his employment agreement?”

    A representative for Thompson confirmed the letter Tuesday, which was first published in The Los Angeles Times. A spokesperson for Skydance declined to comment.

    Lasseter’s hiring provoked a backlash from some who said the animation executive didn’t deserve a second chance so quickly. Time’s Up, the non-profit organization formed to combat sexual harassment and gender inequality in Hollywood and elsewhere, said his hiring “endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence.”

    Shortly after allegations were made against Harvey Weinstein in fall 2017, Lasseter announced that he was taking a six-month “sabbatical” from Disney and apologized “to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug” or any other gesture that made them feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.” Lasseter initially said he would return to Disney, but the studio said it was permanently cutting ties last June.

    At the time of his hiring, Lasseter, a creative force involved in every Pixar release and numerous Disney hits, said he had spent the last year in “deep reflection, learning how my actions unintentionally made colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for.”

    Ellison, the 36-year-old son of Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison whose production company has been behind “Mission: Impossible” and “Star Trek” films, said in a memo to staff that he didn’t take the decision to hire Lasseter lightly and said Lasseter has been “forthright in taking ownership of his behaviour.”

    Jake Coyle, The Associated Press



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    National Entertainment

    Loughlin, Giannulli plead not guilty in college scam

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  • BOSTON — Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are pleading not guilty to charges they took part in the sweeping college admissions bribery scam, according to court documents filed Monday.

    Loughlin and Giannulli said they are waiving their right to appear in Boston federal court for their arraignment and plead not guilty to the two charges against them. The judge must approve their request for a waiver to appear.

    The couple is charged with paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as crew recruits, even though neither is a rower.

    Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House,” and Giannulli haven’t publicly addressed the allegations against them.

    They are among 50 people charged in the nationwide scam, which authorities say also involved rigging college entrance exam scores.

    It’s the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Justice Department. The scandal embroiled elite universities across the country and laid bare the lengths to which status-seeking parents will go to secure their children a coveted spot.

    The couple and more than a dozen other parents were hit last week with a money laundering conspiracy charge on top of the mail fraud conspiracy charge they were already facing. Several other indicted parents have also filed court documents entering not guilty pleas.

    Fellow actress Felicity Huffman, who starred in ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and 12 other parents have agreed to plead guilty . Huffman is scheduled to appear in Boston on May 21 to enter her plea.

    Rick Singer, the consultant at the centre of the scheme, pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy on March 12, the same day the allegations against the parents and coaches were made public in the so-called Operations Varsity Blues investigation.

    Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press



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    National Entertainment

    Guess who’s moving?Burton Cummings complained of noise from dance studio

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  • MOOSE JAW, Sask. — A Saskatchewan fitness studio is moving after multiple noise complaints from Canadian rock legend Burton Cummings.

    Kyra Klassen, who owns Dance Fitness with Kyra in downtown Moose Jaw, says she’s ready for a fresh start and the studio is changing locations May 1.

    “It’s disappointing it had to escalate to this. However, we are super thankful and feel blessed by the outpouring of support from our community,” Klassen said in a message Friday.

    “We are excited to be able to move forward and get back to doing what we love to do: serving the fitness needs of Moose Jaw and area.”

    Klassen said she moved into the mixed-use building nearly one year ago. The Guess Who singer lives in a neighbouring residential building.

    There were no problems for the first five months, but then Klassen said she started to get messages, complaints and visits from Cummings himself.

    Klassen has said she worked with her landlord to add soundproofing to the studio and didn’t think she was breaking any laws.

    Police eventually laid six noise bylaw charges. She is to appear in court April 18.

    The dispute also led city council to look at zoning in the area. During a council meeting March 11, a motion was unanimously approved to prepare a report re-evaluating how business licences are issued in areas of the city’s commercial district where there are also residential properties.

    A manager for Cummings has said the musician had no comment on the situation.

    Klassen said she was shocked the dispute went so far. To keep everyone’s best interest at heart, she realized she couldn’t share the land with the singer.

    “We are moving and super excited about it,” she said.

    “Moving forward and starting fresh!”

    Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press


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