It's about time
January 17, 2020

After traveling the world hunting for treasure in his personal life, Nicolas Cage can soon resume doing so in the movies, too.

A third National Treasure film is in the works at Disney with Bad Boys for Life's Chris Bremner writing a screenplay, The Hollywood Reporter wrote Friday.

No further details were provided in the report, which only briefly mentioned National Treasure while focusing on the status of a fourth Bad Boys film, which is also apparently happening. But this news comes more than a decade after National Treasure: Book of Secrets hit theaters, easily outgrossing the original but for some reason not being followed by five to eight more installments centered around Benjamin Franklin Gates' increasingly wacky adventures.

A third National Treasure has been discussed going back years, though, to the point that this movie could just be about the mythical quest for its own screenplay. Director Jon Turteltaub in 2018 suggested the odds it would come together weren't great, telling /Film, "I don't think Disney wants to make it," though he suggested it could happen as a streaming-exclusive film.

Now that it's apparently moving forward, though, what treasure hunt might be at the center of this installment? Could it just completely ignore the first two films and turn into a documentary about Nicolas Cage the actor's totally real attempt to locate the Holy Grail, which he revealed last year and dubbed his "grail quest"? Probably not, but Disney can have that idea for free. Brendan Morrow

June 9, 2019

Bureaucratic snafus have always been a thing, as the La Sagrada Familia Foundation and city of Barcelona can attest.

Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí began construction on the La Sagrada Familia, a Catholic basilica, in Barcelona in 1882. In 1885, he applied for a permit, sending the city signed blueprints for the church, but he never received a response. That didn't stop him from building the church, and 137 years later, it's still under construction, with the work based on Gaudí's plaster models and copies of his drawings.

The church is a major tourist attraction, with more than 4 million people visiting every year, and the city decided it was finally time to make things official with a permit. Over the last three years, the La Sagrada Familia Foundation and the city of Barcelona have been working on getting a permit for the building, and it was finally granted on Friday. With this new license, construction can continue, with an estimated completion date of 2026.

Barcelona's Deputy Mayor for Ecology, Urbanism, and Mobility Janet Sanz told NPR it was "a historical anomaly that La Sagrada Familia did not have a license," and the "La Sagrada Familia team knew they could not continue like this and that they would need to pay accordingly." The foundation will pay $5.1 million to Barcelona, and moving forward, the foundation and city will both cover the church's expenses. Catherine Garcia

November 14, 2018

The United States hasn't had an ambassador to Saudi Arabia for 22 months, but President Trump has finally nominated a new one.

Trump on Tuesday announced his intention to nominate retired Army Gen. John Abizaid to the position, NPR reports. Abizaid served in the Army for 34 years and was the head of the United States Central Command from 2003 to 2007, per CNN.

The United States has not actually had an ambassador to Saudi Arabia since January 2017. That posed a bit of a problem when the U.S. faced a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia in recent months after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkey believes Saudi officials murdered Khashoggi on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, although Saudi Arabia maintains that the killing was carried out without the crown prince's knowledge.

In October, while insisting that the Trump administration was taking the crisis seriously, a State Department spokesperson tiptoed around the issue of the empty ambassadorship; when a reporter asked for the name of the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the spokesperson responded: "I see what you're getting at." Brendan Morrow

October 22, 2018

Since winning the Academy Award for Best Director this year, Guillermo del Toro's career has just kept growing.

The Shape of Water director is set to helm a new stop-motion animated musical version of Pinocchio for Netflix, which will be set in Italy during the rise of fascism, writes The Hollywood Reporter. Del Toro says Pinocchio will be portrayed as an innocent soul who embarks on a journey in a world he does not understand, and along the way learns to understand his uncaring father. Del Toro also said in a statement that he feels a deeper personal connection with Pinocchio than with any other fictional character.

In fact, del Toro has been trying to make this movie for many, many years, but as recently as last November, he said it wasn't happening anymore. Then, a few months later, he won the Oscar for Best Director, and his film The Shape of Water won Best Picture, allowing him to leverage this success into financing his dream project. In his statement, del Toro emphasized that he's excited to direct an animated film for the first time, though he has previously produced stop-motion films like The Book of Life. Del Toro has hired the company that made the puppets for Tim Burton's Corpse Bride to make figurines for Pinocchio, and the Jim Henson Company will produce.

This del Toro film is completely unrelated to the live-action version of Pinocchio that Disney is currently making as part of its new slate of live-action remakes including The Lion King and Aladdin. The Disney version will be directed by Paddington's Paul King. Del Toro's Pinocchio is expected to begin production this fall, while Disney's reportedly won't start shooting until next year, so it looks like Netflix might beat Disney to the punch. Brendan Morrow

September 14, 2017

Facebook said it will no longer let advertisers reach users who have said they are interested in anti-Semitic topics, including "how to burn Jews," or called themselves "Jew haters," ProPublica reports.

Facebook said the categories were created by an algorithm, not employees, so they are generated automatically based on information users share with Facebook and their interests. ProPublica, acting on a tip, decided to test the system, and spent $30 on promoted posts using categories like "Nazi Party," "Jew hater," and "Hitler did nothing wrong." After selecting their audience, ProPublica submitted their ad, promoting an unrelated ProPublica article, and it was approved by Facebook within 15 minutes.

After being contacted by ProPublica, Facebook removed the categories, and the company said it would work on fixing the issue by limiting the number of categories and checking ads before they are published. Regarding the anti-Semitic categories, Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne said they "looked at the use of these audiences and campaigns and it's not common or widespread." Last week, Facebook revealed it found out that during the 2016 presidential election, fake accounts that appeared to be linked to Russia spent $100,000 on politically divisive ads. Catherine Garcia

September 2, 2016

The last time Hillary Clinton held a true press conference — in which multiple members of the media are permitted to ask unvetted questions and the candidate is expected to answer on the spot — was Dec. 5, 2015. In the 272 days since (find a live tally down to a tenth of a minute here, courtesy of The Washington Post), Clinton has stuck to strictly controlled press interactions like one-on-one interviews.

All that is about to change come Monday, as the Clinton camp announced Thursday their candidate will begin flying on a larger plane with room for media to tag along. The bigger aircraft will replace Clinton's personal jet and will also make space for additional staff plus Secret Service agents.

During Clinton's conference-free eight months, her opponent, Donald Trump, has held 17 press conferences, by the The Washington Examiner's count. His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was the first of the four nominees to begin flying with press in tow. Bonnie Kristian

October 21, 2015

The 184 new emoji available in Apple's latest iOS, released to the public Wednesday, will allow iPhone users to text with a greater variety of nuance and expression than ever.

Of the new additions, some of the most useful will no doubt include the "Face With Rolling Eyes" (to convey disdain), the "Face With Thermometer" (to tell people you're sick) and the "Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended" (so you can tell your exes how you really feel about them without saying a word).

While the middle finger emoji has been approved by the Unicode Consortium since June 2014, Apple has lagged behind Microsoft Windows 10 and WhatsApp for Android in supporting it until now. Sally Gao

July 19, 2015

It was something James Murphy waited 70 years to hear: On Sunday, executives from Mitsubishi Materials Corp. offered a "most remorseful apology" to 900 American World War II POWs who were forced to work in the company's mines and industrial plants and endured "harsh, severe hardships."

Murphy, 94, labored in Mitsubishi copper mines, one of about 12,000 POWs forced to work at more than 50 sites in Japan to support the war effort, The Associated Press reports. About 10 percent of those POWs died, Kinue Tokudome, director of the U.S.-Japan Dialogue on POWs said. Only a few of the POWs who survived are still alive, and some were at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles when the event took place. "This is a glorious day," Murphy said. It was the "first time we've heard those words. They touch my heart."

The executives also privately apologized to Murphy, who accepted and said, "I know that we can trust these words." While the Japanese government issued a formal apology to American POWs in 2009 and 2010, the POWs have been trying for years to have a corporation apologize for forcing them to work under brutal conditions, AP reports. Catherine Garcia

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