Oscar Nominated Director Asghar Farhadi to Speak at UTA Rally From Iran

“The Salesman” director Asghar Farhadi will speak at the UTA rally from afar on Friday afternoon in light of his decision to boycott the Oscars due to Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban.

An individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap that he will either Skype in or speak via video from Iran. “The Salesman” is nominated in the category of Best Foreign Language film at the Academy Awards on Sunday.

On Feb. 8, UTA announced they would cancel its annual Oscar party in favor of hosting a rally instead. The rally, named “United Voices,” will aim to express “the creative community’s growing concern with anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States and its potential chilling effect on the global exchange of ideas and freedom of expression.”

Also Read: AwesomenessTV Joins UTA Anti-Trump Immigration Rally – Will Rest of Hollywood Follow?

The company has also announced a $250,000 donation to the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee. The ACLU has been at the forefront of the legal battle against President Trump’s travel ban. The order was met with protests across the country.

In January, Trump signed an executive order suspending the admission of refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries for 120 days as well as visa holders for 90 days. At the time, it was reported that Farhadi might be affected by this ban, but he followed up by saying that even if he was granted permission to attend the Oscars, he wouldn’t.

Also Read: UTA Cancels Oscar Party to Host Immigration Rally

On Feb. 9, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court upheld the suspension of Trump’s travel ban. In the ruling, the three judge panel stated that the suspension of Trump’s executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries issued by a Seattle judge will not be overturned. The White House has said they will issue a new order next week.

The UTA rally will take place on Friday between 3-5 p.m. PT outside the UTA company headquarters at 9336 Civic Center Drive in Beverly Hills, CA.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Asghar Farhadi’s ‘The Salesman’ Debuts Strongly Amid Donald Trump’s Travel Ban

Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi Decides Not to Attend Oscars

Academy Calls Possible Ban of Asghar Farhadi from Oscars ‘Extremely Troubling’

Hollywood Agencies Vie for Trump-Era Bragging Rights: Who’s Most Politically Engaged?

Hollywood one-upmanship took a turn into politics this week, as leading talent agency CAA followed in the footsteps of rivals WME and UTA by hastily announcing a day-long summit of political leaders for Thursday.

Who could blame them given the national attention their competitors have grabbed with gestures like forming an in-house political action committee and cancelling a lavish Oscar party in favor of an anti-Trump rally in the middle of Beverly Hills?

On Wednesday morning, CAA announced it would hold a “day-long, nonpartisan summit” on Thursday — featuring conversations with Senator Kamala Harris, former Senator Barbara Boxer and Muslim Public Affairs Council Founder Salam Al-Marayati, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, to name a few. (Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader, is one of the only Republicans scheduled to participate.)

Also Read: UTA Cancels Oscar Party to Host Immigration Rally

The surprise program falls just one day before UTA’s “United Voices” rally, an event designed to “stand against policies of exclusion and division.” The Jeremy Zimmer-run agency announced the rally with the simultaneous cancellation of its Oscar celebration and a $250,000 donation to the ACLU in early February.

Stars such as Jodie Foster, Michael J. Fox, Reza Aslan and Keegan-Michael Key have agreed to address the crowd. Clients like Jai Courtney, Ted Danson, James Franco, Minka Kelly, Emily Ratajkowski, Retta and Seth Rogen will also attend.

But the agencies’ new push into political advocacy could have its down side — even in a town and industry well known for its left-leaning activism. “I see it backfiring,” said one top manager who works with all three agencies, speaking to TheWrap on the condition of anonymity.

Also Read: Fiery Hollywood Women Rally in Sundance: ‘We Will Not Go Backwards’

“Clients want to know they are working for them, not spending so much time trying to outdo each other with political statements,” the insider added.

WME, run by Co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, arguably started the trend when they told employees they would form a federal political action committee — only an hour before UTA announced their rally.

Its mission, according to an internal memo from Emanuel, is “convening internal and external forums with politicians and allied stakeholders.”

But there are risks for  WME to launch an entire division that deviates from its core business and thrusts the company into a treacherous political arena.

Also Read: Trump Hopes to Kill National Endowments for Arts, Humanities (Report)

Emanuel surprsied many in the industry last November by meeting with President Trump — a former client — in Washington, D.C,. only days after the election. The president called the agent the “King of Hollywood,” which prompted speculation about his role in the administration and how Hollywood might cooperate with it.

WME Global Finance and Distribution Partner Leisl Copland however, used her considerable address book as a key organizer of the Women’s March on Main Street — a defiant march through the Sundance Film Festival featuring actresses, producers, below-the-line talent and Utah woman decrying Trump.

And CAA has recently stepped up its representation of political figures. The agency recently signed Boxer, former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, former VP Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Trump Pummels the Press at Florida Rally, Twitter Reacts

AwesomenessTV Joins UTA Anti-Trump Immigration Rally – Will Rest of Hollywood Follow?

UTA Cancels Oscar Party to Host Immigration Rally

Disney’s Maker Studios Cuts Ties With PewDiePie Over Anti-Semitic Videos

Disney’s Maker Studios has severed ties with YouTube star PewDiePie, TheWrap has learned.

PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has been dropped by the company after videos of his featuring anti-semitic jokes were uncovered by the Wall Street Journal.

According to the report, Kjellberg posted a video on Jan. 11 featuring footage of two men laughing as they hold up a banner reading “Death to all Jews.” In addition, the paper found nine other instances of anti-semitic jokes on his channel.

Also Read: PewDiePie Tops List of Highest Paid YouTube Stars of 2016

Kjellberg has since defended the video as a joke that went too far after advertising on the video was pulled by YouTube’s parent company, Google.

“Although Felix has created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case and the resulting videos are inappropriate,” Maker said in a statement provided to TheWrap.

Three of Kjellberg’s videos have since been removed, including the one posted on Jan. 11 and another posted on Jan. 22 that showed a man dressed up as Jesus Christ saying, “Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong.”

Also Read: Disney Gives YouTube Star PewDiePie His Own Digital Network

Kjellberg’s channel currently has more than 53 million subscribers. Last December, he topped Forbes’ list of the highest-paid YouTubers of 2016, having made more than $15 million.

This is not the first time the 27-year-old has come under fire for controversial jokes. He previously threatened to shut down his channel after reaching 50 million subscribers, in what turned out to be a publicity stunt.

Related stories from TheWrap:

PewDiePie Tops List of Highest Paid YouTube Stars of 2016

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Disney Gives YouTube Star PewDiePie His Own Digital Network

STX Entertainment Appoints Rich Sullivan COO of STXdigital

STX Entertainment has appointed Rich Sullivan to the position of chief operating officer of STXdigital, the company announced on Friday.

In this role, Sullivan will be focused on building out the company’s digital business operations in short-form content, creating new franchises with the company’s talent roster, establishing strategic partnerships across social and video platforms, supporting growth in VR and immersive experiences, and establishing and accelerating data analytics capabilities.

Sullivan will also partner with Jason Goldberg, chief creative officer of STXalternative and STXreality, to expand digital programming and OTT capabilities. Sullivan will assume the role immediately and will continue to be located at the company’s headquarters in Burbank.

Also Read: Luc Besson’s Sci-Fi Epic ‘Valerian’ Heads to STX in New EuropaCorp Distribution Deal

Sullivan was promoted to this newly created position having served as chief financial officer for STX for the past two and a half years.

In that capacity, he has also helped in leading the company’s expansion into its multi-platform business strategy including its recent acquisition of Surreal, a content creation company in the virtual reality space.

In making the appointment, President of STX Entertainment Sophie Watts said, “Rich has been pivotal in STX’s ongoing and aggressive growth and diversification as we lead the industry in transforming beyond traditional platform-driven content to creating talent-driven enterprises. In this new post, we will rely on Rich to lead key innovations that will accelerate the frictionless movement of creative experiences across all platforms.”

Also Read: Former STX Production Head Cathy Schulman Launches Welle Entertainment

Sullivan will continue to perform the duties of the CFO role until a successor is named. Prior to joining STX Entertainment, Sullivan was a senior executive at DreamWorks Animation where he served as its deputy CFO.

Over his tenure, his areas of responsibility have included corporate finance, treasury, investor relations and corporate strategy, playing a significant role in the company’s digital acquisitions of Awesomeness TV and the talent-driven digital company Big Frame.

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Jeffrey Katzenberg Raises Nearly $600 Million for New Mystery Venture

Veteran Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg has raised $591.5 million for a new company, WndrCo, according to a Thursday SEC filing.

Katzenberg is listed as an executive officer and director for the company, joining DreamWorks Animation president Ann Daly and former Dropbox CFO Sujay Jaswa. WndrCo did not disclose its investors, but put its minimum investment at $25 million.

Katzenberg left DreamWorks after selling the animation studio to Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal for $3.8 billion in April, picking up a $391 million payday in the process. He transitioned to a role as chairman of DreamWorks New Media, overseeing the studio’s digital properties, including multi-channel network Awesomeness TV. Katzenberg will also serve as a consultant to NBCUniversal.

Also Read: Jeffrey Katzenberg Hosts President Obama at Hillary Clinton Fundraiser

The veteran movie executive was the chairman of Walt Disney Studios between 1984 and 1994, a period in which the Mouse House cranked out mega-hits like “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” Katzenberg left Disney after clashing with then-CEO Michael Eisner, co-founding DreamWorks SKG in 1994 with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.

DreamWorks, which is behind some of the biggest animated movies of all-time with the “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda” franchises, spun off its animation branch in 2004. That was the entity acquired by Comcast this spring, freeing Katzenberg to pursue new things. One of which, apparently, is WndrCo.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Jeffrey Katzenberg Hosts President Obama at Hillary Clinton Fundraiser

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Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Haul From DreamWorks Sale: $408 Million