February 28, 2019

Netflix still really, really wants the Best Picture Oscar, and it looks like the streaming giant will try even harder to win it in 2020.

At this year's Oscars, Netflix failed to nab the top prize with Roma, and pundits have speculated this had everything to do with the company's untraditional release strategy. Many Oscars voters take issue with Netflix only releasing its movies in limited theaters for a few weeks at most before debuting them online, whereas a traditional studio movie won't be available outside of theaters for three months.

But Netflix is brushing itself off and trying again with The Irishman, the Martin Scorsese film that will release this fall. The Hollywood Reporter says Netflix is in discussions to give this film a wide release. Details remain unclear, but major theater chains like AMC don't play movies without 90 days of exclusivity, which Netflix has never before offered (although rival streamer Amazon Prime Video has). If they go wide, Netflix's box office figures would be reported for the first time.

At least part of the reason for giving The Irishman a wide release is that Scorsese reportedly wants one. But the company's desire for more Oscar gold also seems to be a factor, especially as its reportedly "looking at its release strategy" for five other films that could receive awards recognition. The Reporter notes that this comes as some members of the Academy are trying to enact a new rule to disqualify any film that doesn't play exclusively in theaters for four weeks from the top awards.

While Netflix hasn't yet confirmed this reporting, The Irishman's teaser already hinted at a shift in attitude for the company. "In theaters this fall," the end of the trailer proudly declared, followed by — almost as an afterthought — "... and on Netflix." Brendan Morrow

5:33 p.m.

The creators of Glee are remembering Naya Rivera as a "joy to be around," and setting up a college fund for her young son, after her tragic death.

Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan released a tribute to Rivera on Tuesday after officials said they recovered her body at Lake Piru in California, where she went missing days earlier. The actress, who played Santana Lopez on Glee, was feared dead after her 4-year-old son was found alone in a boat she had rented. Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said this week Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself," and an autopsy has since confirmed her cause of death as accidental drowning. She was 33.

"We are heartbroken over the loss of our friend Naya Rivera," Murphy, Falchuk, and Brennan said, per Variety. They described her as "one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with," someone who was "a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around."

"She was warm and caring and fiercely protective of the rest of the cast," they go on to say. "She was tough and demanding. She was fun. She was kind. She was generous. ... Naya was more than just an actor on our show — she was our friend."

The statement ends with Murphy, Falchuk, and Brennan saying that their "hearts go out to her family" and that they are "in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all."

Among Rivera's former Glee colleagues who previously paid tribute this week were Jane Lynch, who remembered "what a force" she was, and Chris Colfer, who wrote, "Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be." Brendan Morrow

5:29 p.m.

President Trump continued to stir controversy about the Confederate battle Tuesday during an interview with CBS News' Catherine Herridge.

Herridge asked Trump if he still believes, as he said in 2015, that the flag should be removed from public spaces and placed in museums. The president didn't explicitly answer the question, but he said the only thing he really cares about his "freedom of speech," indicating that he thinks people should be allowed to leave it up.

When Herridge reminded him the flag is a "painful reminder" for many people because the Confederacy rebelled against the United States to preserve slavery, Trump said he knows people "that like the Confederate flag" who are not "thinking about slavery" before once again turning the conversation back to the First Amendment. Tim O'Donnell

5:23 p.m.

Florida is now leading much of the world in new coronavirus cases, and it's showing no signs of slowing down.

Florida reported 9,194 new coronavirus cases in the past day on Tuesday afternoon, bring its total case count to 291,629. A total of 132 new deaths were reported, bringing that count to 4,409, per the Miami Herald.

Miami-Dade County led the new case count at 2,090, leading one infectious disease expert to deem Miami the new "epicenter of the pandemic," CNN reports. "What we were seeing in Wuhan six months ago, five months ago — now we are there," said Lilian Abbo, of the Jackson Health System, during a Monday news conference held by the Miami-Dade County mayor.

The county has seen coronavirus hospitalizations grow by 68 percent and the number of ICU beds used go up by 69 percent in the past two weeks. The number of ventilators in use has also more than doubled during that time. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:33 p.m.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced a "return to the status quo" on international student visas.

Following several schools' decisions to go fully remote to stem COVID-19 spread, ICE announced foreign students could not access essential F and M visas they'd need to study in the U.S. But facing opposition from more than 50 colleges and universities, the Trump administration rescinded that rule change, a federal judge in Boston announced Tuesday.

ICE's initial decision came after Harvard University and other schools announced all their classes would be fully online in the fall, though most schools said they'd house students who could not learn effectively in their homes. That included students in countries wracked by civil unrest.

Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology specifically cited those students in suing ICE for its decision, and said it "would bar hundreds of thousands of international students at American universities from the United States." Dozens of universities joined the suit, which went to court Tuesday. That's where a judge announced ICE would "return to the status quo" and effectively drop its rule change. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:29 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on Tuesday unveiled his $2 trillion energy and climate plan, and he got a big pat on the back from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who briefly ran for president himself this cycle in the hopes of bringing climate change to the center of American politics.

Inslee would seemingly make for a tough critic since he's made climate change such a big part of a platform, but he had nothing but praise for Biden's plan, telling the New York Times it's a "triple-A rated clean energy" and "visionary" policy. "This is not a status quo plan," Inslee told the Times. "It's comprehensive. This is not some sort of, 'Let me just throw a bone to those who care about climate change.'"

The governor expanded on his approval during an appearance on MSNBC, where he explained he was pleased the plan was focused heavily on job creation.

Biden's plan consists of investing $2 trillion in carbon-free power and grid infrastructure, mass transit, efficient buildings, and sustainable housing, among other things, while shooting for 100 percent carbon-free power generation by 2035. Read more about Biden's at Axios and The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

4:24 p.m.

Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell has been denied bail.

In a hearing on Tuesday, Judge Alison Nathan ordered Maxwell, who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly conspiring with Epstein to sexually abuse minors, to be jailed until her trial, which is now set to begin in July 2021, Axios reports. She pleaded not guilty.

Maxwell's attorneys had asked for her to await trial outside of jail, saying that "COVID-19-related restrictions on attorney communications with pre-trial detainees significantly impair a defendant's ability to prepare her defense." But prosecutors said she's an "extreme" flight risk, and on Tuesday, the judge agreed, saying Maxwell "poses a substantial actual risk of flight," The New York Times reports. The judge denied Maxwell's request "to be allowed to stay in a luxury New York City hotel — instead of federal lockup — until her trial," The New York Post writes

Accuser Annie Farmer at the hearing urged the judge to deny Maxwell bail, saying that she is a "sexual predator who groomed and abused me and countless other children and young women," CNBC reports. Prosecutor Alison Moe also read a statement from another woman who wasn't identified by name saying that "without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done what he did." Brendan Morrow

3:44 p.m.

A pair of prominent writers announced they're leaving their prominent publications Tuesday. The resignations appear to be related to recent debates within the wider media landscape about the alleged stifling of public discourse.

Bari Weiss, a former op-ed staff editor and writer for The New York Times, resigned from the newspaper today, while prominent New York writer Andrew Sullivan announced this would be his last week at the magazine.

In a lengthy resignation letter addressed to Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, Weiss said she made her decision because she became the "subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree" with her "centrist" views and that "intellectual curiosity" has become a "liability" at the Times.

Sullivan, meanwhile, tweeted his news, noting that he has "no beef" with his colleagues, but hinted he's leaving over ideological differences and will explain more fully in his final New York column slated for Friday. Tim O'Donnell

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