Categoria: MONDO

Women In Animation Launches Global Toon Talent Database

Women in Animation has launched WIA Talent Database, currently featuring more than 5,000 women, trans and non-binary candidates in the animation industry looking for work in the booming global toon biz. It’s another big step for the WIA in its 50/50 by 2025 goal. 

The WIA Talent Database is designed to be an ever-growing resource for studios seeking to balance the diversity of their productions. 

 “While studios around the world have heard our call for balance and pledged to champion diversity, the reality is that most animation hires are influenced by word of mouth and proximity to the hiring parties. Increasing the visibility and accessibility of women will make it harder to deny our existence. In other words, the statement, ‘I’d love to hire women, but I don’t know where to find them’ will no longer be acceptable,” notes WIA president Marge Dean. 

Under the leadership of Dean and combined focus of database creator Liz Luu, website developer Mickey Kyle and database manager Kate Menz, the WIA Talent Database was conceived and built to pool talent that covers the full range of roles on animated productions in an easily searchable collection of candidates to be considered for hiring by the international animation industry.

The WIA Database allows potential employers to filter searches based on a number of animation-specific factors including series vs. feature experience, years of work in a particular role, CG pipeline knowledge and more. The system also boasts a unique gallery view, which can be used to compare candidate art styles side by side, “recreating the simultaneous portfolio review experience that best matches candidates with a production’s visual development goals,” says Luu. 

To access the database, visit the WIA website at or reach out to the WIA Talent Database team directly by emailing 

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Scores For ‘Soul,’ ‘Lovecraft Country,’ ‘Last Of Us II,’ ‘A Life On Our Planet’ Win ASCAP Composers’ Choice Awards

The ASCAP Screen Music Awards kicked off a four-day virtual celebration Monday morning with the naming of winners in the peer-voted ASCAP Composers’ Choice Awards, with the score for Pixar’s “Soul” managing to notch yet another triumph as its sweep continues virtually unabated.

The number of categories for the performing rights organization’s still fairly new division of awards voted by fellow songwriters and composers was expanded in this round, with documentary score and television theme of the year being added for 2021.

In the film score of the year category, the “Soul” music proved that it has some life — or afterlife — left in it yet after recently triumphing at the Oscars. The award went to Trent Reznor and Jon Batiste, two of the composing trio behind the music. (The third partner, Atticus Ross, did not win because he’s not an ASCAP signatory, although his mantle probably isn’t hurting for sitting this one out.)

A television score of the year award replaces the former TV composer of the year category, with the award more clearly going for a single piece of work. It went to R&B legend Raphael Saadiq for his work on the socially resonant horror drama “Lovecraft Country.”

American dystopian horror moved into the near-future instead of near-past for “The Last of Us Part II,” which landed Gustavo Santaolalla an award for videogame score of the year.

Television theme of the year went to legendary neo-classsical composer Philip Glass and Paul Leonard-Morgan for their music for the Emmy-nominated sci-fi series “Tales from the Loop.”

For documentary score of the year, the winner was Steven Price, for his work on “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.”

With traditional in-person proceedings still being on hold this year due to the lingering effects of the pandemic, the rollout of winners came on ASCAP’s social media. The PRO’s Instagram accounts (@ASCAP and @ASCAPScreen) feature acceptance speeches from Batiste, Price, Glass, Leonard-Morgan and Santaolalla. Three of the winners, Batiste, Leonard-Morgan and Santaolalla, also contributed special performances.

Awards are also being given out in the more traditional, non-voted categories that have long been a mainstay of the ASCAP Screen Music Awards, reflecting data for the most-performed music of the year.

David Vanacore won Most Performed Themes and Underscore for multiple shows, including “Survivor” and “Biggest Loser.”

The top winner for scoring for a cable television series was Bear McCreary for “The Walking Dead.”

The main theme for “NCIS” won Matthew Hawkins, Maurice “m.O” Jackson and Neil Martin the award for Top Network Television Series.

Among feature films, Rupert Gregson-Williams received the Top Box Office Film honor for “The Eight Hundred.”

A full list of 2021 ASCAP Screen Music Awards winners, along with speeches, performances and other presentations, is available at

Other content can be found under the hashtag #ASCAPAwards on the org’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as on Instagram at @ASCAP and @ASCAPScreen.

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AT&T Chief John Stankey, WarnerMedia Head Jason Kilar Address Discovery Merger In Staff Memo

In the wake of a mega-deal with Discovery that seems primed to shake up the media landscape, AT&T chief John Stankey and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar urged employees to stay focused on their jobs while they wait for the pact to close.

“During this period, our direction and mission remain the same,” Stankey wrote in a staff-wide memo obtained by Variety. “The market and product strategies underway across WarnerMedia are consistent with a merged, post-close company. So during the review period, we will support and commit to delivering on WarnerMedia’s full aspirations and capabilities with regards to the existing strategy and business plans. There will be no waiting on direction, hitting the pause button, or resting on our market position in the coming months – only continued forward drive and progress.”

For his part, Kilar also argued that staff needs to stay focused while the companies try to obtain regulatory approval for the merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia. The deal comes as HBO Max is continuing to work to add subscribers and to stake out a place for itself in the crowded streaming space.

“I want to stress how important I believe it is in this moment for us to continue to keep our focus and to live up to our potential as a team,” Kilar wrote. “As I shared last month in the context of our first quarter’s results, there is so much wind in our sails. This kind of momentum is hard earned but easily lost.”

The deal will leave Discovery CEO David Zaslav in charge of the combined company. On a press conference, Zaslav had complimentary things to say about Kilar and top WarnerMedia executives such as CNN head Jeff Zucker and Warner Bros. chief Toby Emmerich. However, some of these executives could lose out in the merger.

Shedding the media business gives AT&T greater financial flexibility as it works to expand its 5G network. The telecom will receive $43 billion in a combination of cash, debt securities and WarnerMedia’s retention of debt. It will also have a 71% ownership stake in the new venture. Merging with Discovery will give the new enterprise approximately $20 billion in combined spending firepower when it comes to producing new shows and movies.

“It is becoming clear that WarnerMedia has effectively demonstrated its right to lead in the future media landscape,” Stankey wrote. “However, we are now in a world where relevance and future success will be tied to greater scale and growth globally. To be one of the best global media companies requires not only broad and deep creative assets, but an investor base and access to capital to make it happen. The decision to combine WarnerMedia with Discovery is rooted in this conclusion.”

AT&T announced its purchase of Time Warner in 2016 and had to wait until 2018 for the deal to close. It’s been a disruptive period, one that’s seen the launch of HBO Max, as well as a global pandemic that’s upended the film business. That’s to say nothing of the layoffs that accompany these kinds of mergers.

“I will admit that I am personally disappointed and sad that I will not have the opportunity to continue this journey with you, but I am incredibly optimistic and enthusiastic about the future of the combined WarnerMedia and Discovery,” Stankey wrote. “I intend to retain every share of stock I receive in the new entity and enjoy the fruits of your continued success. I see nothing but a bright future as the collective capabilities of the combined companies are unleashed!”

Here are the full memos:

To My WarnerMedia Coworkers,

A few minutes ago, we announced our intent to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery, with the new company post-close being led by David Zaslav. Even though there has been recent press speculation on our future, I suspect today’s news is a bit surprising — which is why I’d like to share how we arrived at this decision.

First, this opportunity is afforded and necessitated by the success of a challenging and hard-fought evolution underway at WarnerMedia. And it’s a credit to your hard work. Since 2018, we have embraced how customers are experiencing entertainment and media and have worked to shape new business models.

It is becoming clear that WarnerMedia has effectively demonstrated its right to lead in the future media landscape. However, we are now in a world where relevance and future success will be tied to greater scale and growth globally. To be one of the best global media companies requires not only broad and deep creative assets, but an investor base and access to capital to make it happen. The decision to combine WarnerMedia with Discovery is rooted in this conclusion. WarnerMedia’s continued evolution to direct relationships with customers will be accelerated, enhanced and secured by this decision. I am confident this will be an important milestone as we look back with pride and satisfaction that our efforts, brands and intellectual property were central to creating a flourishing and growing global media platform.

The complementary nature of this combination of companies is critical. It allows for two important things. In our core linear business, a combined offering of programming will stretch across the most powerful advertising demographics and will strengthen the combined company’s value proposition in fast evolving markets. Further, the programming line-up broadens our audience and will deliver more value to our distribution partners. In our direct-to-consumer efforts, we add an important and popular content genre, coupled with the strengthening of our upcoming effort to scale internationally.

While overlap in our creative and content capabilities is virtually non-existent, there will be opportunity to redirect investment away from duplicative back-office, support and administrative functions into our growth strategies. This reality is a necessary part of our journey to reposition the company. Answers on how that will play out won’t be immediate, but you can observe from the Scripps/Discovery integration that a deliberate and balanced approach to capitalizing on the combined strengths of the two companies is David’s track record and overall objective.

Second, having shared why I feel this is the right move for the market and the sustainability of WarnerMedia’s success, let me make a few comments about another important stakeholder — our owners. Your efforts since 2018 have set WarnerMedia on a solid path to creating significant value for our shareholders. You see this reflected in the transaction’s economic terms. This opportunity for WarnerMedia to ascend into the position of a leading global media company would not be possible had it not been for the combined capabilities of Time Warner and AT&T. This journey started based on management’s conviction and willingness to invest to reposition WarnerMedia for direct customer relationships.

Those of you close to this know that the unique combination of AT&T’s distribution expertise, broader trading relationships and competitive market position, coupled with WarnerMedia’s remarkable brands and content were both necessary to establish HBO Max, which is on its way to creating substantial future value. I have said many times how proud I am of what this team has accomplished under challenging circumstances and timeframes. The adversity and obstacles you conquered over the past few years are understood by few. Now it’s time to take the next step in WarnerMedia’s evolution to be a global media leader — not just for the next year, but for the next decade and beyond. That’s what this transaction does. It gives this company every tool needed to achieve its full potential.

Any time a change like this occurs, there is speculation about alternatives. While I won’t detail our careful deliberations across a broad consideration set, I can tell you that we made a choice that I firmly believe is the absolute best choice. The success and momentum of WarnerMedia allows us to author our position in a fast-evolving industry landscape.

The Discovery team is a capable, creative and wonderfully successful group that has enjoyed remarkable success. Importantly, that success has come in segments and content genres highly complementary to WarnerMedia’s capabilities. David and his management team share the same conviction on driving the evolution of the business model as we do. He has tremendous respect for the people and achievements of our company and believes the talent and skills of both companies are instrumental to future market success.

A final note on the pending period before final approval. We believe the complementary, pro-innovation and pro-competitive aspects of this transaction will drive a straight-forward review by the governing regulatory bodies. During this period, our direction and mission remain the same. The market and product strategies underway across WarnerMedia are consistent with a merged, post-close company. So during the review period, we will support and commit to delivering on WarnerMedia’s full aspirations and capabilities with regards to the existing strategy and business plans. There will be no waiting on direction, hitting the pause button, or resting on our market position in the coming months – only continued forward drive and progress.

I will admit that I am personally disappointed and sad that I will not have the opportunity to continue this journey with you, but I am incredibly optimistic and enthusiastic about the future of the combined WarnerMedia and Discovery. I intend to retain every share of stock I receive in the new entity and enjoy the fruits of your continued success. I see nothing but a bright future as the collective capabilities of the combined companies are unleashed!

We will keep you updated as our planning for the transaction’s completion progresses. Pascal will join me tomorrow in a video session to answer your questions and further discuss the transaction. David will also be addressing the broader audience in the coming days. I look forward to our continued discussion.



Team –

By now you likely have read a fair bit about the news of WarnerMedia and Discovery reaching a definitive agreement to combine. Between the recent company-wide email and tomorrow’s Town Hall, John Stankey and Pascal Desroches have done and will continue to do a very strong job of sharing the details and context of the transaction with the entire team.

The purpose of this email is two-fold.

First and most importantly, I want to say thank you to every one of you. The pride, passion and affection I have for this team – for each of you – and this company are impossible to communicate. I don’t take any days on the WarnerMedia team for granted, it is an honor to get to serve our customers and to get to serve you in this role. Whether I am heading onto the lot in Burbank or into the lobby at Hudson Yards (or elsewhere), I feel like the luckiest person on the planet. I am so thankful for all that you do and for every precious day I get to be on this team in this role.

Secondly, I want to stress how important I believe it is in this moment for us to continue to keep our focus and to live up to our potential as a team. As I shared last month in the context of our first quarter’s results, there is so much wind in our sails. This kind of momentum is hard earned but easily lost. I’m thankful that today’s momentous news comes during a stretch where our focus happens to be particularly intense: we’re going to host our Upfront this Wednesday, we’re going to drop the Friends Reunion next Thursday, the ensuing week brings the launch of an ad supported HBO Max, In The Heights premieres the following week, and at the end of June HBO Max will be going live in 39 additional countries. That is a pretty good six-week stretch and there is so much more to come on the heels of it (21 additional launches across Europe, DC FanDome, our strongest stretch of motion picture releases since the pandemic started, vital work over at CNN, and much more). This is a defining moment for us. And I recognize that it will take all we’ve got to keep collective focus on the mission. We can do it 🙂

On this day and on all days…thank you so much to the best team out there.


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Sharon Liggins Joins Endeavor Content As Senior Vice President Of Communications

Veteran PR executive Sharon Liggins has joined Endeavor Content as senior vice president of communications.

Liggins most recently served as vice president of publicity for Ava Duvernay’s narrative change collective ARRAY. In her new role with Endeavor Content, Liggins will oversee the strategic direction of communications activities across the studio’s many divisions, including film and television production, sales, and distribution, and joins the senior leadership team led by co-presidents Graham Taylor and Chris Rice.

“Sharon has an impeccable track record of sustained excellence across many platforms and genres of content,” Taylor and Rice said announcing Liggins’ appointment. “Her record as a creative campaign strategist and strategic advisor uniquely suit her to the next chapter in our continued growth, and we are excited by the exceptional knowledge and passion that she brings to the team at Endeavor Content.”

Liggins will be based in Los Angeles and the appointment is effective immediately.

During her tenure as ARRAY’s vice president of publicity, Liggins oversaw communications across the company’s public programming and social impact initiatives, independent film distribution platform, as well as personal publicity and appearances for DuVernay. Liggins also managed all publicity for series and films under the ARRAY Filmworks banner, collaborating with Warner Bros. TV, Netflix, NBC, HBO Max, OWN and the CW.

Prior to her time at ARRAY, Liggins worked as an independent consultant, working on projects including the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the Aretha Franklin documentary “Amazing Grace,” Stanley Nelson’s HBCU documentary “Tell Them We are Rising” and television producer Lemuel Plummer’s Zeus Network. Liggins also worked as a consultant for POP TV, WGN America, the Urban Movie Channel and The Broad museum, among others.

She also served as Universal Cable Productions’ head of communications, overseeing publicity for NBCUniversal’s top-tier series including “Suits,” “Psych,” “Covert Affairs” and “Warehouse 13.” Liggins was also ABC Studios’ executive director of communications, overseeing corporate comms and publicity for “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost,” “Ugly Betty,” “Scrubs,” “Criminal Minds” and “Ghost Whisperer.” Earlier in her career, Liggins worked at Hallmark Channel, CAA, PBS, and the independent PR firm DVG Communications.

Liggins is also a former two-term PR peer group governor for the Television Academy and co-chaired the organization’s diversity committee.

Endeavor Content’s recent slate of projects includes Apple TV plus’ “See” and “Truth Be Told” (with Kate Hudson joining star Octavia Spencer for its second season), as well as Hulu’s “Normal People,” the upcoming “Conversations with Friends” (starring Alison Oliver, Sasha Lane, Joe Alwyn, and Jemima Kirke) and “Nine Perfect Strangers” (with an ensemble led by Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Regina Hall).

On the film side, the company is currently developing the George Gershwin-inspired musical drama “Fascinating Rhythm” from Martin Scorsese and John Carney.  The company also recently announced a first-look producing deal with Stephanie Allain, and another with Layne Eskridge’s POV Entertainment.

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Australia’s ‘Kid Snow, ‘Petrol’ And ‘Memoirs Of A Snail’ To Shoot After Receiving Funding

Federal funding body Screen Australia confirmed its backing for a trio of Australian film projects that will now move forward into production. Director Robert Connolly (“The Dry”) is behind two of them as producer.

The funding decisions ensure that a steady stream of local films move into production, alongside the large volume of international films and TV series that are currently in Australia, taking advantage of generous incentives and good coronavirus control conditions.

Set in 1970’s Western Australia, “Kid Snow” is a drama about a washed-up Irish boxer who is offered a rematch against a man he fought 10 years ago, on a night that changed his life forever. He is faced with a chance to redeem himself when he meets a single mother and is forced to contemplate a future beyond boxing.

The film is directed by Paul Goldman (“Suburban Mayhem”) and written by John Brumpton (“Life”), Phillip Gwynne (“Australian Rules”), Shane Danielsen (“The Guests”) and Stephen Cleary (script editor on “Sweet Country”). The producers are Lizzette Atkins (“Looking For Grace”), Megan Wynn (“The Childhood of A Leader”) and Bruno Charlesworth (“Ladies In Black”).

With state funding confirmed by Screenwest, Lotterywest and the Western Australian Screen Fund through the State Government of Western Australia’s Royalties for Regions, production will start later this year in historic mining town Kalgoorlie. “Kid Snow” will be distributed by Madman and France-based sales agent Elle Driver.

Connolly’s Arenamedia is producing “Petrol” mystery drama, a second feature by Alena Lodkina about an idealistic student who befriends a performance artist. As the two women move in together and their lives become more entwined, they set off on a surreal journey of awakening, haunted by dreams, fantasies and ghosts Distribution in Australia is by Cinemaplus and public broadcaster SBS. International rights are represented by Maze Film Sales.

Arenamedia is also behind stop-motion animated feature film “Memoir of a Snail.” It is directed by “Mary and “Max” creator Adam Elliot, whose previous “Harvie Krumpet” won an Oscar for best animated short in 2003. This film tells the bittersweet story of a woman who is a lonely hoarder of ornamental snails. Her life is plagued with misfortune and loss until she befriends an elderly eccentric woman who teaches her many life lessons and gives her the courage to let go of the things that clutter her home and her mind.

“Snail” is produced by Liz Kearney (Connolly’s “Paper Planes”) and Elliot, and executive produced by Connolly. Local distribution is by Madman and France’s Charades is managing international sales.

Screen Australia also confirmed funding for two TV projects going into their second seasons. They are “Bump,” an original drama about teen pregnancy for Stan, produced by and starring Claudia Karvan; and kidnap drama “The Secrets She Keeps,” for Network 10, BBC1 and Sundance Now, set two years after the first season.

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‘Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins’: Henry Golding Suits Up In First Trailer

The first trailer for “Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins” debuted Sunday night during the MTV Movie & TV Awards. Starring Henry Golding and Samara Weaving, the “G.I. Joe” spinoff is set for a theatrical release on July 23.

Golding plays the titular character, a ninja commando who wields a deadly katana blade, wears all-black, hides his face behind a mask and doesn’t speak. Though don’t worry — the film, which explores the origins of the mysterious Snake Eyes, allows Golding to talk.

Weaving plays Scarlett, an original member of the “G.I. Joe” team with whom Snake Eyes has a special relationship.

“I wanted to see something different, and I wanted it to look different, to feel different,” Golding said. “To be able to launch a franchise like that, it was just too good to be true — and especially with a character like Snake Eyes about whom a lot of people don’t know too much. They know him as this insane operator that completes missions and is an absolute weapon, but who’s the guy behind the mask and what’s his story?”

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told Entertainment Weekly that “Snake Eyes” will answer some key questions about the character, based on the Hasbro toy of the same name. Fans will learn Snake Eyes’ real name, who he is and where he came from.

From Paramount, Skydance and AllSpark, “Snake Eyes” is directed by Robert Schwentke, written by Evan Spiliotopoulos. The film is executive produced by Jeff G. Waxman and produced by Bonaventura, Brian Goldner, Stephen Davis, David Ellison, Josh Feldman, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger.

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‘Spiral’ Tops Korean Box Office On Thinly-Sliced Weekend

“Spiral: From The Book of Saw” carved out the top spot at the South Korean box office over the weekend. But it was a thin slice of a painfully quiet weekend.

Korea’s aggregate nationwide box office was just $2.60 million, almost unchanged from last week and within a whisker of being the smallest weekend total in three months. While international titles are now returning to the releasing calendar, audiences continue to stay away in what used to be the world’s fourth largest theatrical market.

“Spiral,” a newly-released horror franchise sequel earned $551,000 for a 21% share of the market, ahead of “The Courier” in second place and last week’s winner “The Croods: A New Age” in third. The Courier” dropped only 19% in its third weekend, scoring $316,000 for a cumulative of $2.31 since its debut in April 28, according to data from the Korean Film Council’s Kobis tracking service. “The Croods” dropped 30% from its first weekend to a second weekend score of $264,000. Its cumulative is $1.62 million.

“Spiral” earned its top spot having played on 688 screens, giving a per screen average of just $800 over the three days of the weekend. Its five-day cumulative is $780,000.

Japanese animation film “Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train” held on in fourth place with a $254,000 weekend haul that advanced its cumulative to $17.7 million. The film, released on Jan. 27, now has the distinction of being only the second title this year to sell more than two million tickets in Korea.

Minor places went to new release Korean films “My Lovely Angel” which earned $141,000 in five days for ninth position over the weekend, and “In The Name of The Son,” which earned $117,000 in five days and arrived in tenth spot.

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Danny Trejo Believes He Would Be In Prison Or Dead If He Didn’t Get Sober

Danny Trejo was honored by Los Angeles drug and alcohol treatment center CRI-Help Friday night during its 50th anniversary drive-in celebration at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

The “Desperado” actor, who has been sober for nearly 53 years, was presented with the inaugural Vanguard Award for his work and advocacy of the recovery community by his filmmaker son, Gilbert Trejo.  “Everything from Aug. 23, 1968 to now is just like a dream,” Danny told Variety, referring to his sobriety date. “I’ve got nothing to complain about. I’ve got nothing to fix.”

He has been involved with CRI-Help since it first opened. “You get to see moms who should never be near a kid become soccer moms and drive a minivan,” the actor said. “You see dads who you’d think would still be in prison coaching little league baseball teams. CRI-Help is really one of God’s tools.”

Driving to Arcadia on a Friday might? Yes, if it means talking to @officialDannyT ahead of him being honored by @CriHelpInc for his more than 50 years of service to the recovery community.

— Marc Malkin (@marcmalkin) May 15, 2021

Trejo’s children, Gilbert and Danielle, both got help at CRI-Help when they were struggling with addiction. Gilbert has nearly seven years clean while his sister has almost eight years. “My kids are my greatest accomplishment,” Danny said. “I just adore them. But I wouldn’t have them if I didn’t get sober. If I didn’t get clean and sober, there’s no doubt that I’d still be in prison or dead. It’s that simple because that’s the train I was on. The only thing that stopped it was the program.”

Also honored during the event were CRI-Help’s Jack Bernstein and Marlene Nadel. The evening included dinner from Trejo’s Tacos as well as a screening of the Brett Harvey-directed documentary “Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo.”

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Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Inventor, Subject Of Upcoming Eva Longoria-Directed Biopic, Dismissed By Frito-Lay As ‘Urban Legend’

Richard Montañez has touted his role in inventing Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for over a decade, sharing the story of how he went from a janitor at the Frito-Lay plant in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. to the creator of one of America’s most beloved snacks.

His story has even led to the production of an upcoming Searchlight Pictures biopic titled “Flamin’ Hot,” directed by Eva Longoria and produced by DeVon Franklin. But, according to a new article in the Los Angeles Times, Montañez may be telling a tall tale.

“None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market,” Frito-Lay wrote in a statement to the Times. “We have interviewed multiple personnel who were involved in the test market, and all of them indicate that Richard was not involved in any capacity in the test market. That doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Richard, but the facts do not support the urban legend.”

Instead, the Times article reports that a junior employee at Frito-Lay’s corporate office in Texas named Lynne Greenfeld was assigned to develop the Flamin’ Hot brand in 1989. Greenfeld came up with the name, and helped bring the product to markets all over the U.S.

Montañez began to publicly tell his success story in the late 2000s, and Greenfeld contacted Frito-Lay in 2018 after hearing about his claims. This triggered an internal investigation into the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, with the conclusion alleging that Montañez is not the inventor.

“We value Richard’s many contributions to our company, especially his insights into Hispanic consumers, but we do not credit the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or any Flamin’ Hot products to him,” Frito-Lay said in a statement to the Times.

According to Montañez’s story — which is documented in an upcoming memoir — he felt empowered to pitch his Flamin’ Hot idea to corporate after watching a motivational video from then-PepsiCo CEO, Roger Enrico, who encouraged all employees to “act like owners.”

But, the Times reports that Enrico did not yet work for the company when the Flamin’ Hot brand was developed. According to the Times, Enrico’s “move to Frito-Lay was announced in December 1990, and he took over control at the beginning of 1991 — nearly six months after Flamin’ Hots were already out in the test market.”

However, another Frito-Lay executive, Al Carey, insisted to the Times that Montañez is the true creator of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Carey said that Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were “definitely not out in the market” before he met with Montañez in 1992, who pitched him the idea. “The product was developed by those guys in the plant,” Carey added.

Frito-Lay’s statement to the Times contradicts Carey’s recollection: “According to our records, McCormick, Frito-Lay’s longtime seasoning supplier, developed the Flamin’ Hot seasoning and sent initial samples to Frito-Lay on Dec. 15, 1989. This is essentially the same seasoning Frito-Lay uses today.”

In response to Frito-Lay’s statement regarding the ingredients, Carey offered, “They may have not invented the ingredient, but they invented the energy that goes behind this thing and the positioning, and then it becomes successful.”

Frito-Lay records given to the Times did confirm that Montañez was instrumental in the rollout of Flamin’ Hot Popcorn, as well as a line of spicy products called Sabrositas.

As for the upcoming film centered on Montañez, the Times said that its producers were informed of the results of the Frito-Lay investigation in 2019, but decided to move forward. On May 4, the lead cast members of the biopic were announced, Jessie Garcia and Annie Gonzalez. In a statement to Variety regarding the casting announcement, Longoria said: “My biggest priority to make sure we are telling Richard Montañez’s story authentically. I am so happy to have two extremely talented and fellow Mexican Americans on board in these pivotal roles. Jesse and Annie have a deep understanding of our community and will be able to help tell this story of great importance for our culture.”

Representatives for Montañez, Longoria, Franklin, Searchlight Pictures and Frito-Lay did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

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Box Office: Angelina Jolie’s ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ DOA As ‘Spiral’ Claims No. 1

Angelina Jolie’s survival action thriller “Those Who Wish Me Dead” didn’t do much to revive the North American box office. The Warner Bros. film, which debuted simultaneously on the streaming service HBO Max, took in a paltry $2.8 million in its opening weekend.

The movie’s hybrid release on HBO Max likely isn’t the reason “Those Who Wish Me Dead” sold hardly any tickets; “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Mortal Kombat” were both recent Warner Bros. films that were able to generate decent box office revenues despite being offered concurrently on a streaming service.

As movie theaters attempt to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, family films and CGI spectacles have been popular options to see on the big screen. Gritty dramas geared toward adult audiences haven’t been performing as well, and mediocre reviews for “Those Who Wish Me Dead” didn’t help drum up interest.

The film played in 3,188 cinemas, a sizable footprint considering only 65% of U.S. movie theaters are currently open, according to Comscore. Yet Shawn Robbins, the chief analyst at Box Office Pro, ascribes that “Those Who Wish Me Dead” had several factors working against it.

“The film was barely promoted even by pandemic standards and effectively went under the radar as both as a theatrical and streaming release,” he says. “We’ve seen a number of genre thrillers aimed at audiences of a certain age open during the past year, so there could also be an element of saturation in play.”

At the international box office, “Those Who Wish Me Dead” generated a dismal $2.8 million from 33 countries overseas, taking its worldwide tally to $7.1 million.

Taylor Sheridan directed “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” based on the novel by Michael Koryta. The story centers on a teenager who witnesses the murder of his father and goes on the run with a smokejumper (Jolie) to escape two gunmen trying to silence him. Variety’s chief film critic Peter Debruge was a fan of the film, writing in his review: “The idea may be outrageous, but Sheridan’s commitment makes the whole thing work.” Moviegoers gave the film a “B” CinemaScore.

“Those Who Wish Me Dead,” which finished the weekend in third place, wasn’t the only new movie to open. “Spiral,” a creepy addition to the terrifying “Saw” franchise, brought in $8.7 million from 2,811 venues between Friday and Sunday. That’s a mediocre start given its $20 million production budget, but it’s enough to easily nab the No. 1 spot on box office charts in the coronavirus era.

Overseas, “Spiral” amassed an additional $3.3 million from 16 international countries. Globally, the movie has earned $12 million so far.

Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore, says the debut of “Spiral” is “solid” given the slow-to-recover domestic box office. “We are still operating in a very limited marketplace,” says Dergarabedian. He’s optimistic that things will pick up with releases of Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II” and Disney’s “Cruella” over Memorial Day weekend.

“Saw” veteran Darren Lynn Bousman directed “Spiral,” which stars Chris Rock, Max Minghella and Samuel L. Jackson and follows police efforts to stop a Jigsaw copycat killer. It got mixed reviews, with Variety’s Owen Gleiberman saying for better or worse, the latest entry stays true to its graphic, stomach-churning roots. “No,” Gleiberman wrote, “the ‘Saw’ series hasn’t really changed. So depending on whether you’re a fan or not, eat up…or throw up.”

Fans of dismemberment movies ate well this weekend. Zack Snyder’s zombie movie “Army of the Dead” also arrived on the big screen, one week before it becomes available on Netflix. Since the streaming service has a contentious relationship with cinema owners, the film only played in 430 locations, far fewer than its fellow new releases. Netflix, unlike traditional movie studios, doesn’t reveal box office data. However, rivals estimate that “Army of the Dead” generated $800,000 over the weekend, enough to crack the top 10.

“Army of the Dead” came in slightly ahead of “Profile,” a thriller from Focus Features that follows an undercover British journalist in her quest to expose a terrorist recruiter through social media. Despite playing in 2,033 North American theaters, the movie didn’t make much of a dent and brought in just $670,000.

Elsewhere at the domestic box office, a series of holdovers rounded out charts. “Wrath of Man,” a heist thriller starring Jason Statham, slid to No. 2 in its second weekend of release, adding $3.7 million from 3,007 theaters. The MGM film has made $14.6 million in North America to date.

Internationally, where Miramax is distributing the movie, “Wrath of Man” has grossed $41.4 million in total. It opened in Chinese theaters on Monday and made $7.1 million in its first three days of release, as well as another $8.7 million over the weekend, bringing its tally in China to $18.5 million.

Ranking slightly below “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” the anime film “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” and Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” landed in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

“Demon Slayer” has become an unexpected hit in the U.S. In its fourth weekend in theaters, the film collected $1.78 million for a domestic haul of $41.9 million. Meanwhile, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which is currently available on Disney Plus for a premium $30 rental fee, pulled in $1.71 million in its 11th weekend of release. That brings its cumulative total to $46 million.

In sixth place, “Godzilla vs. Kong” took in $1.4 million from 2,484 theaters. After seven weeks, the monster mashup has collected $95 million. If it keeps chugging along on the big screen, it could become the first COVID-era release to cross $100 million at the domestic box office. That wouldn’t be much of an accomplishment in pre-pandemic times, but it carries outsized significance in the currently impaired film distribution landscape.

“It’s possible we’re at an inflection point,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “People are starting to get out of the house.”

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