‘Betting on Zero’ Clip Examines Crusade Against Herbalife ‘Pyramid Scheme’ (Exclusive Video)

From “Darfur Now” writer/director Ted Braun comes docu-thriller “Betting on Zero” following hedge fund titan Bill Ackman as he puts $1 billion on the line in his crusade to expose Herbalife as the largest pyramid scheme in history.

Herbalife claims Ackman is simply a market manipulator out to make a fortune from short-selling their stock, but Ackman insists Herbalife deliberately targets low-income and immigrant communities and robs them of their life savings.

Distributed by Gunpowder and Sky, the film will hit theaters in major and regional markets on March 17 following National Consumer Protection Week.

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“What are we going to learn? We’re going to learn why Herbalife is going to collapse,” the voiceover for the opening of the trailer informs viewers. “Bill Ackman is on a holy war.”

Although”Betting on Zero” is a financial and political thriller, at the core of it are the victims that have been hit hard and have found themselves grappling with the messy aftermath. Their financial losses affect many aspects of their lives including their family, their lifestyle, and their future.

Among those telling their stories are people who have lost up to $22,000. “The kind of people who can do that are crooks,” one investor says.

Meanwhile, Ackman goes head-to-head with fellow Wall Street billionaire/Herbalife supporter Carl Icahn in his bid to take the company down.

“The withering crossfire between Ackman and Herbalife plays out across the media, in board rooms, and on the streets in Braun’s stirring picture of the American Dream gone wrong,” according to the film’s synopsis.

“Betting on Zero” has been making the festival rounds since its April 2016 premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film earned a special jury mention for investigative filmmaking.

Also Read: HBO to Air ‘David Bowie: The Last Five Years’ Documentary

Last fall, HBO “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver presented a nearly 30-minute takedown of Herbalife and other multilevel marketers on his show.

Oliver critiqued the FTC’s complaint against Herbalife, which was released last July, calling it “mind-blowing” and questioned — as many others before him have — why the government stopped short of calling the company a pyramid scheme.

“Betting on Zero” is written and directed by Braun and produced by Academy Award winner Glen Zipper (“Undefeated”) and Devin Adair.

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Warren Beatty Asks Academy President to ‘Personally Clarify’ He Isn’t to Blame for Envelope Mess

Warren Beatty, who found himself at the center of Sunday night’s Best Picture mix-up at the Academy Awards, released a statement on Tuesday asking Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs to personally explain what happened at the end of Sunday night’s show.

In the statement given to the Associated Press, Beatty said that he would not comment further on the incident and suggested that Isaacs “publicly clarify what happened as soon as possible.”

On Monday evening, the Academy released a statement apologizing to Beatty, the viewers, and the casts and crews of “La La Land” and “Moonlight” for the envelope error that led to “La La Land” accidentally and mistakenly being announced by Beatty and Faye Dunaway as Best Picture, only for the producers of the musical to discover when they got on stage that “Moonlight” was the actual winner.

Also Read: Academy’s Accountants Take the Blame for Oscars Flub

“We deeply regret the mistakes that were made during the presentation of the best picture category during last night’s Oscar ceremony,” the Academy’s statement read. “We apologize to the entire cast and crew of ‘La La Land’ and ‘Moonlight’ whose experience was profoundly altered by this error. We salute the tremendous grace they displayed under the circumstances. To all involved — including our presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the filmmakers, and our fans watching worldwide — we apologize.”

Also Read: Columnist Blasts ‘Brain-Dead’ Warren Beatty for ‘Horrific Night’ for Actors

PwC, the accounting firm responsible for the balloting process and delivering the winners’ envelopes during the show, also released a statement on Monday with a more in-depth explanation of what went wrong.

The statement place the blame on PwC accountant Brian Cullinan, who inadvertently handed Beatty and Dunaway a duplicate envelope for the Best Actress category — which was won by “La La Land” star Emma Stone — instead of the envelope for Best Picture.

Cullinan and his PwC partner, Martha Ruiz, each brought a briefcase containing an envelope for all 24 categories to the event. Each category has two copies of the envelope so that one can easily be handed to the presenters regardless of which side of the stage they enter from.

Also Read: Steve Harvey to Warren Beatty After Epic Oscars Flub: ‘Call Me’

Just prior to the Best Picture award being presented, Cullinan had taken a picture of Emma Stone walking off the stage with her Oscar and posted it to Twitter. That picture has since been deleted. Neither the Academy nor PwC has commented on whether Cullinan’s picture played a role in issueing the wrong envelope to Beatty and Dunaway.

The Academy said Monday that it was “investigating the circumstances” and “will determine what actions are appropriate going forward.”

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Great Job, Internet!: Watch Blossom’s Mayim Bialik reunite with her big dumb hat

Blossom was a fitfully amusing NBC sitcom that ran for five seasons in the early ’90s. It starred Mayim Bialik—currently of CBS’ Big Bang Theory—as a quirky, suburban teenager coming of age in a house full of men, though it’s essentially remembered for two things: a dude who said “whoa” and hats. Blossom is credited with popularizing the floppy hat, namely ones with huge, garish flowers on them.

Bialik, like most of America, eventually outgrew the trend, but a recent episode of Good Mythical Morning forced her to revisit her past as a fashion tastemaker. During a round of “What’s On My Head?,” a game that asks guests to guess what unconventional item is atop their noggin, hosts Rhett and Link bucked convention by actually putting a hat—with customary flower—on her head. It isn’t long before Bialik seems to figure out where this …

Newswire: Obama to blame for everything, reports paranoid idiot

Donald Trump, a misspelled and poorly kerned placard who became a real boy and ran for president, says he believes the many damaging leaks coming out of his administration, as well as all the angry town hall protests currently greeting lawmakers across the country, can be blamed on President Obama. “I think that President Obama’s behind it because his people are certainly behind it,” said the man whose YouTube comment mutterings now carry the implicit official seal of the White House. “And some of the leaks possibly come from that group, you know, some of the leaks—which are very serious leaks, because they’re very bad in terms of national security.”

Trump made this, his latest “Jabberwocky” of a statement, before the slythy toves of Fox And Friends, the nattering sycophants who, as he repeatedly reminded them, represent the only fair and real news left. There beamish boy …

Academy Adds Its Own Apology for the Oscars Best Picture Mess

On the heels of a second apology from PwC over the confusion at Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony, the Academy has added its own apology for the chaos that ensued when presenter Warren Beatty was given the wrong envelope before he presented Best Picture.

AMPAS apologized to the filmmakers and presenters involved, and to fans and TV viewers, and said it “determine what actions are appropriate going forward.”

PwC has taken full responsibility for the error, in which its balloting leader Brian Cullinan mistakenly handed Beatty an envelope for the Best Actress category instead of Best Picture. Cullinan had tweeted a photo of Emma Stone from backstage moments before he made the mistake.

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PwC apologized for the error a few hours after the Oscars ceremony ended, and added a second, more extensive apology on Monday evening.

Read the full statement below:

“We deeply regret the mistakes that were made during the presentation of the Best Picture category during last night’s Oscar ceremony. We apologize to the entire cast and crew of ‘La La Land’ and ‘Moonlight’ whose experience was profoundly altered by this error. We salute the tremendous grace they displayed under the circumstances. To all involved – including our presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the filmmakers, and our fans watching worldwide – we apologize.

Also Read: Read the Oscar Accountants’ New, Expanded Apology: ‘Last Night We Failed the Academy’

“For the last 83 years, the Academy has entrusted PwC to handle the critical tabulation process, including the accurate delivery of results. PwC has taken full responsibility for the breaches of established protocols that took place during the ceremony. We have spent last night and today investigating the circumstances, and will determine what actions are appropriate going forward. We are unwaveringly committed to upholding the integrity of the Oscars and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.”

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5 Reasons Why ‘Get Out’ Scared Its Way to Box Office Success

Oscar Sunday was a red-letter day for African American filmmakers. While “Moonlight,” Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis dominated the conversation at the Academy Awards, Jordan Peele’s provocative yet crowd-pleasing horror hit “Get Out” blew by box office experts’ expectations with an opening weekend of $33.7 million against a $4.5 million budget.

Last week, the most optimistic box office projections had the Universal/Blumhouse film making $24 million, with analysts believing it was possible but not a certainty that it would pass “The Lego Batman Movie” to claim the top spot on the weekend.

Instead, “Get Out” left no doubt, actually increasing its daily totals as the weekend went on. That’s common for a family movie like “Lego Batman,” which gets much of its revenue from Saturday matinees. But for a horror movie, it’s practically unheard of.

So what led to this surprise genre hit? We have five reasons we can point to:

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1. Strong Viral Marketing

For franchise films like “Star Wars,” trailer releases are surrounded with hype and fanfare. But “Get Out,” which had no recognizable stars or adaptation material to get a boost from, managed to turn its trailer into a viral sensation with nothing but its unique, topical story of an interracial romance gone horribly wrong. The first trailer became a Twitter sensation when it was released last October and, by the time the film came out, had racked up over 30 million views. The success of that trailer immediately put it on the radar for many moviegoers.

2. Word of Mouth

Once reviews started rolling in for the film, the buzz snowballed. “Get Out” achieved the rare feat of scoring 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and held it until the premiere. It finally dropped to 99 percent during the weekend after it received its first negative review following 142 positive ones.

Meanwhile, moviegoers who went to see the film on Thursday and Friday night began raving about the film on Twitter and shared memes about its scariest moments. Like a domino effect, the near-unanimous acclaim from critics and audiences alike allowed “Get Out” to buck the usual trend of early spike and steady decline that many horror movies go through in their opening week.

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3. Jordan Peele

The one recognizable name attached to “Get Out” was its director, Jordan Peele. Having made a name for himself with Keegan-Michael Key through the Comedy Central series “Key & Peele” and the comedy “Keanu,” Peele raised a lot of eyebrows by deciding to make his first project as a director a horror movie. Like the trailer, Peele’s name recognition kept “Get Out” on the radar for many moviegoers.

4. Strategic Release Date

Once thought to be a dumping ground for distributors, January and February have recently become fertile for horror movies. Last February, A24 got strong reviews and a solid box office return from “The Witch,” and last month saw another Blumhouse offering, “Split,” surprise box office experts with a $40 million opening weekend. This recent upward trend for low budget horror films, combined with the lack of competition from new releases on Oscar weekend, meant that “Get Out” had a strong foundation for their opening.

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Box office analysts also see the early-year success of “Get Out” and “Split” as part of an increasing erosion of the usual release date ecosystem, as conventional thinking about when to release different films is defied. “Hidden Figures,” for example, is on the verge of passing “X-Men: Apocalypse,” and “Star Trek Beyond” at the box office despite having a wide release in January. Films like “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Hell or High Water” have racked up awards in recent years despite being released in the summer.

“Star Wars,” meanwhile, has pushed blockbuster season all the way to December with its record box office yields for the month, forcing studios with awards contenders to adjust their slates accordingly.

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“Now we are seeing the movies define the month, rather than the month defining how the movie is going to perform,” comScore’s Paul Dergarabedian told TheWrap. “All the rules are getting thrown out the window and the 52-week-a-year release calendar is becoming a reality because studios are taking more and more risks.”

“The only possible downside is as these months become more popular, we may see more studios taking a risk on releasing big movies in months that were heretofore not considered great months that provide a platform for a big box office, so we could see things get more crowded earlier.”

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5. Demand for Diversity

The success of “Get Out” and “Hidden Figures” at the box office and “Moonlight” and “Fences” at the Oscars is a clear sign that diversity pays off. In addition, a new UCLA study released last week showed that the median global box office in 2015 for films with casts that were from 21 percent to 30 percent minority was $105 million, compared to $42 million for films with casts that had 10 percent minority or less.

It’s a win all around for studios, filmmakers and audiences, as studios reap the financial rewards, rising stars like “Get Out” lead star Daniel Kaluuya get a chance to break into the mainstream, and the public’s desire for better representation in the media gets satisfied.

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Newswire: State Department congratulates Asghar Farhadi, then immediately takes it back

During Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won Best Foreign Language Film for The Salesman, but he didn’t attend the event in person because of Donald Trump’s immigration ban. In his place, Iranian-American space traveler Anousheh Ansari read a statement Farhadi had written beforehand that called for empathy and denounced the desire to divide the world into “us and our enemies” just to create a “justification for aggression and war.”

Shortly after that, the U.S. State Department’s official Farsi-language Twitter account tweeted a message of congratulations to Farhadi and the people of Iran, but some time later the tweet was deleted. According to a statement given to Reuters, the State Department had decided that it wanted to “avoid any misperception that [the government] endorsed the comments made in the acceptance speech.” Supposedly, this decision came from within the department and not from a …

State Department Deletes Tweet Congratulating Iranian Director for Oscar Win

In an unexpectedly conciliatory move, last night during the 89th annual Academy Awards, someone manning the U.S. State Department’s official Persian-language Twitter account congratulated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, and the Iranian people, after his film “The Salesman” won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Then they deleted the tweet.

So did rogue State Department staffers use Twitter to send a subtle rebuttal Donald Trump’s way during the Oscars? Or was it a simple mistake?

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Farhadi chose not to attend the 2017 Oscars, remaining home in Tehran to protest Donald Trump’s proposed ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Iran. And he made absolutely certain the intent behind his absence was clear in his Oscar acceptance speech, read by Iranian-American scientist Firouz Naderi, who accepted Farhadi’s Oscar on his behalf along with Anousheh Ansari, the first person of Iranian descent in space.

“My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US. Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear,” Farhadi’s statement said. “A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.”

Also Read: Oscars 2017: Twitter Dunks On Warren Beatty Over ‘Moonlight’ Best Picture Flub

The State Department later said the tweet was deleted because of Farhadi’s statement.

“A congratulatory tweet was posted,” a Department spokeswoman told Reuters. “We later removed the post to avoid any misperception that the USG (U.S. government) endorsed the comments made in the acceptance speech.”

If so, the State Department must not have been paying attention to the news. Farhadi announced his intention to skip the Oscars on Jan 29, shortly after Trump’s ban was enacted via executive order. On Feb 24, Farhadi and all five of his fellow Best Foreign Language Film nominees signed onto a joint statement denouncing both the ban and Trump administration policies.

“On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians,” the statement said. Farhadi, Martin Zandvliet (“Land of Mine,” Denmark), Hannes Holm (“A Man Called Ove,” Sweden), Maren Ade (“Toni Erdmann,” Germany) and Martin Butler & Bentley Dean (“Tanna,” Australia) all signed the statement.

Farhadi wasn’t the only filmmaker the travel ban affected. Cinematographer Khaled Khateeb, who worked on the Oscar-winning short documentary film “White Helmets,” was barred from entering the U.S. “White Helmets” tells the story of Syrian Civil Defense volunteers, who are working to save people placed in danger by civil war in Syria.

See the State Department tweet below.

Official Persian language account of US secretary of state congratulated Iranian director Farhadi for his Oscar then deleted it @USAdarFarsi pic.twitter.com/sIWdXgwDp7

— ERSHAD ALIJANI (@ErshadAlijani) February 27, 2017

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Storm Chasers Honor Bill Paxton With Virtual ‘Twister’ Tribute

One of the most creative tributes to Bill Paxton following his death on Sunday was made by a team of storm chasers, who paid homage to Paxton’s famous portrayal of their profession in the 1996 disaster film “Twister.”

The tribute was created on the Spotter Network, a website used by storm chasers to report and track tornadoes and storms in the United States. The network helps storm chasers and meteorologists coordinate and better prepare for severe weather.

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In ‘Twister,” Paxton played Bill “The Extreme” Harding, a former storm chaser turned weather reporter who finds himself dragged back into his old life by his ex-wife, Jo (Helen Hunt), who is still chasing storms due to the trauma of losing her father in a tornado when she was a child.

The storm chasers used the system to spell out Paxton’s initials with dots signifying storms. The initials were centered around the town of Wakita, OK, where “Twister” was set.

Storm chaser tribute to Bill Paxton. #RIPBill pic.twitter.com/kxRtGv5f9A

– Jeff Frame (@VORTEXJeff) February 26, 2017

Though it was too late to include Paxton in the “In Memoriam” section of last night’s Academy Awards, Jennifer Aniston acknowledged his passing while introducing the montage of recently deceased filmmakers. Other stars, including Paxton’s longtime collaborator James Cameron, have paid tribute to Paxton on social media. He was 61.

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Oscars 2017: What’s Next for This Year’s Winners? (Photos)

For every filmmaker, winning at the Oscars is the peak of their careers. But as soon as the after-party is over, it’s right back to work, as Hollywood’s biggest winners often already have their next projects in the works. For this year’s winners like Damien Chazelle,  Viola Davis, and the stars of “Moonlight,” this is no different. Here’s where you can catch this year’s winners next.

Best Actress winner Emma Stone will return to the big screen later this year alongside in “Battle of the Sexes,” a comedy biopic based on Billie Jean King’s famous 1973 intergender tennis match against Bobby Riggs.

Viola Davis, of course, will head back to Shondaland to film season 4 of “How to Get Away With Murder.” She will also play the legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman in a biopic about the Underground Railroad.

Mahershala Ali had a mammoth 2016 with two very different but equally praised performances: his Oscar-winning supporting role in “Moonlight” and his devious performance as the Harlem kingpin Cottonmouth in “Luke Cage.” He will have a chance to dive back into the world of graphic novels next year in James Cameron’s adaptation of the manga “Alita: Battle Angel.”

After winning Best Actor for playing Lee Chandler in “Manchester By The Sea,” Casey Affleck is moving on to write and direct his own film, “Light of My Life,” about a father and daughter lost in the woods. He will also play famed explorer Meriwether Lewis in next year’s HBO miniseries about the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Barry Jenkins was floored when “Moonlight” won Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay. Now he’s going to continue to tell stories about African-American characters by directing episode 6 of Netflix’s “Dear White People,” due out later this year.

Kenneth Lonergan moved audiences to both laughter and tears with his Oscar-winning screenplay for “Manchester By The Sea.” Later this year, he will jump from original writing to adapted, as he turns E.M. Forester’s novel “Howards End” into a Starz miniseries. The novel tackles the clash between social classes in early 20th century England as three families with different levels of wealth cross paths with each other.

Ezra Edelman made Oscar history with his nearly eight-hour ESPN documentary “O.J.: Made In America.” Now he’s moving on to biopics, as he’s slated to work with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill on “The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” an American security guard who saved thousands from being killed by a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, only to be falsely accused of terrorism by the press and public.

Byron Howard and Rich Moore earned Disney yet another Oscar with “Zootopia,” and now they are moving on to new projects for the Mouse. Moore will work on the sequel to his video game comedy “Wreck-It Ralph,” while Howard is working on a yet-to-be-named project with Lin-Manuel Miranda, who will likely be making another run at that EGOT.

Asghar Farhadi made the biggest political statement of the night, boycotting the event in protest of Donald Trump’s travel ban. Now, after winning his second Oscar with “The Salesman,” he is planning a new, yet-to-be-titled film starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.

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