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Sony Pictures buys film rights to Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’

LOS ANGELES: Sony Pictures Entertainment has purchased the film rights to Facebook Inc executive Sheryl Sandberg's bestselling memoir on female empowerment, "Lean In," a source familiar with the deal said on Friday. Sony Pictures' Columbia Pictures division will handle development of the script, which will be based on themes in the book and not on Sandberg's life, the source said. The script will be written by Nell Scovell who helped Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, pen the book. Sandberg will donate her portion of proceeds from the deal to her Lean In foundation, the source said. Sony Pictures is the film and television arm of Sony Corp The deal was first reported by industry website Deadline Hollywood. Sony Pictures spokesman Charles Sipkins declined to comment. "Lean In" reignited debate over women's opportunities in the professional world after it was published last March. It focuses on ways for women to attain more power in the workplace, including how to command more respect from colleagues. At age 44, Sandberg is considered to be one of the world's youngest billionaires after shares of Facebook rose earlier this week and made her one of the few women to cross the $1 billion mark in net worth. Sandberg worked for the U.S. Treasury Department and Google InC before joining Facebook in 2008. Columbia Pictures also distributed 2010's "The Social Network," about the founding of Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg..--REUTERS

LOS ANGELES: Sony Pictures Entertainment has purchased the film rights to Facebook Inc executive Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling memoir on female empowerment, “Lean In,” a source familiar with the deal said on Friday. Sony Pictures’ Columbia Pictures division will handle development of the script, which will be based on themes in the book and not on Sandberg’s life, the source said. ... Read More »

Sundance closing film ‘Rudderless’ explores grief through music

LOS ANGELES: While promoting his directorial debut "Rudderless" at the Sundance Film Festival this week, actor William H. Macy stumbled across a major problem - how to avoid divulging the film's big surprise. "It's been difficult to do the publicity this week because we've all been trying to protect that big reveal. It leaves you with nothing but to be charming," Macy told Reuters. "Rudderless," which premiered at Sundance on Friday, is a story of a father coming to terms with his son's untimely death in a school campus shooting. With the "Fargo" star behind the camera except for a minor role, the film stars Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin and Selena Gomez. Music plays a key part in the story, becoming the voice of the son, Josh, as his father, Sam, discovers songs written by him before his death. When Sam (played by Crudup) starts to bring the songs to life with the help of a band, his son's music takes on its own personality. The film's "big reveal" is a crucial plot twist involving how personal music is to people and how the meaning of songs can change as new information comes to light. Made for under $2 million in Oklahoma over 25 days, Macy said his biggest challenge "as a naive first-time director" was keeping within the tight budget, and finding a way to visualize the music cinematically. "All that remains of Josh is his music and his lyrics. He's a character, and the only way he can speak is through his music," Macy said. "Music is revealing of the person who writes the song and it's revealing of the person who sings the song." STUDIOS SNAP UP FESTIVAL FAVORITES "Rudderless" bookends the film premieres at Sundance, after a week of 119 feature films shown at different theaters across Park City. Thirty-four films will compete in the four competition categories - U.S. drama, U.S. documentary, world drama and world documentary - and the winners will be announced at Saturday's Sundance Film Festival awards. Previous winners of the Sundance awards have gone on to win Oscars, including 2006's "Little Miss Sunshine," 2009's "Precious," and 2012's "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Sundance also operates as a key market for studios to pick up independent films at the beginning of the year, although the pace of acquisitions and the prices paid have lagged the deals struck in last year's edition. Key acquisitions this year include opening night film "Whiplash," which was picked up by Sony Corp's Sony Pictures Classics for $3 million. Focus Features, a subsidiary of Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures, snapped up Zach Braff's Kickstarter-funded film "Wish I Was Here" for a reported $2.7 million, and the Keira Knightley film "Laggies" was bought by A24 for $2 million. RADiUS-TWC, the multi-platform boutique label of The Weinstein Co, which made five acquisitions last year including two of this year's Oscar-nominated documentaries, so far has only picked up one Sundance film, "The One I Love." The deal was made for $2 million, according to Variety. REUTERSSundance closing film 'Rudderless' explores grief through music

LOS ANGELES: While promoting his directorial debut “Rudderless” at the Sundance Film Festival this week, actor William H. Macy stumbled across a major problem – how to avoid divulging the film’s big surprise. “It’s been difficult to do the publicity this week because we’ve all been trying to protect that big reveal. It leaves you with nothing but to be ... Read More »

Salman Khan’s vigilante movie “Jai Ho” doesn’t solve problems

MUMBAI: Five minutes into Sohail Khan’s “Jai Ho“, lead actor Salman Khan beats up scoundrels, saves a damsel in distress and breaks into a dance number (along with thousands of background dancers wearing orange sunglasses), singing about what is wrong with India. Khan sings about farmers dying, women being unsafe and politicians looting the common man. The irony of this spectacle is that it’s been shot in Lavasa, a township in Maharashtra mired in controversy over illegal land acquisitions and regulatory clearances. That is the kind of dichotomy that “Jai Ho” is pretty nonchalant about. Khan’s character claims to stand for women’s rights, but thinks nothing of commenting on a woman’s underwear. He rages against politicians for blocking traffic and inconveniencing the public, but rides his motorbike onto a crowded railway station platform. If you accept that there won’t be a semblance of sense in the screenplay, and that the two-and-half hour film is essentially a showreel for Khan to show off his sculpted body, action moves and dance steps, then perhaps you can enjoy the madness that is “Jai Ho”. Director Sohail Khan gives us his own take on vigilante justice, in which politicians and police are corrupt, and it is up to Jai Agnihotri (Salman Khan), an upright ex-army officer with a Hannibal Lecter complex (he bites the bad men in the neck) to make things right. This remake of the Telugu film “Stalin” (2006) also borrows heavily from the 2000 Hollywood drama “Pay It Forward“, with Khan’s character propagating the idea that everyone he helps should help three other people, thereby ensuring that good deeds multiply. Most of the film’s plot points require much suspension of belief, including a minister trying to kill his boss, a student who kills herself because she cannot write an exam, babies being kidnapped, and whatnot — depicted in the weirdest way. Writing a plot for this film is an exercise in futility. It is a series of incidents with no connection, strung together so we can witness Salman Khan in his glory, doing what apparently only he can do — pull off inane screenplays with a smirk. At the end of a rather graphic fight sequence, when Khan is rescued by an auto rickshaw driver as well as an army tanker, which just drives up the road and stops the villains in their tracks, you can either applaud how well this absurdity works, or throw up your hands in despair. When the film is not showcasing Khan, it helps reunite failed actors from the India film industry. Ashmit Patel, Sharad Kapoor, Mukul Dev, Vatsal Sheth, and others seem to have crawled out of the woodwork to join the cast. Actress Tabu stands out like a sore thumb in this ensemble cast, and is clearly trying to have fun and forget that she built a career playing roles with more depth. Newcomer Daisy Shah is adequate for what is her first outing, and hovers in the background while the film’s real and only hero goes about his business. And that is what it comes down to. “Jai Ho” doesn’t really solve any problems — its makers just want to channel the public’s anger to make commercial gains. Watch this film only if you are fine with this attitude..--REUTERS

MUMBAI: Five minutes into Sohail Khan’s “Jai Ho“, lead actor Salman Khan beats up scoundrels, saves a damsel in distress and breaks into a dance number (along with thousands of background dancers wearing orange sunglasses), singing about what is wrong with India. Khan sings about farmers dying, women being unsafe and politicians looting the common man. The irony of this ... Read More »

For young performers at the Grammys, exposure could be the award

LOS ANGELES; Winning a Grammy Award may be the goal on Sunday, but getting a chance to perform at the annual awards show in front of tens of millions of TV viewers worldwide could be the biggest career maker of the night for up-and-coming singers and musicians. The Grammys, rated in a recent industry poll by Billboard magazine as the second-best promotional opportunity for an artist or group behind performing at football's Super Bowl halftime show, will offer that chance to several young singers like country music's Kacey Musgraves, Hunter Hayes and New Zealand teen pop wunderkind Lorde. "It is a humongous opportunity," said the 22-year-old Hayes, who is nominated for best country solo performance this year after earning three nods as a newcomer in 2013. "It's a huge introduction and endorsement, not only to get to perform in front of these pioneers and musical masterminds but to get the endorsement from the Academy in that way," added Hayes, referring to Grammy organizer, the Recording Academy, which tapped him to perform last year too. This year's top performances include pop stars Beyonce, Katy Perry, promising rappers Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, as well as former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Grammys can be notoriously difficult to predict and this year seems to be particularly vexing because there is no predominant genre or theme. The nominees for the top award, album of the year, represent five different sounds, from country pop's Taylor Swift to French DJ duo Daft Punk. "I'd have to say it is a bit of an odd year in music and not necessarily in a bad way," said producer Jeff Bhasker, nominated for three top awards this year including song of the year for "Just Give Me a Reason," by Pink and Nate Ruess. He sees a "reshuffling of the deck as far as what listeners are hungry for," noting that popular music is becoming more intimate and slowing down from the up-tempo dance music of years past. In the end, the awards could easily be eclipsed by performances and the kind of spontaneity that tends to make the Grammys one of the most surprise-filled nights in show business. "The thing to remember with the Grammys is that it's not necessarily about who's going to be the biggest winner of the night," said Keith Caulfield, the associate director of charts at Billboard. "It's going to be about those moments on TV that you won't see anywhere else that will resonate with the public and move them to go stream or buy a song or an album," he said. TWERK AND SOY BOMB Caulfield tabbed Musgraves as a candidate to benefit greatly from the exposure. The critically acclaimed 25-year-old country singer-songwriter has yet to break out commercially. "That could change because suddenly people who don't know who she is will be seeing her perform, and it's on the music awards show that has the highest ratings of all music awards shows during the year," he said. Another example is Canadian pop singer Robin Thicke, whose performance of his Grammy-nominated song "Blurred Lines" with pop singer Miley Cyrus "twerking" (a sexually explicit dance) at MTV's Video Music Awards (VMA) in August overshadowed the ceremony and dominated television chatter the following week. A performance or provocative stunt that generates water-cooler buzz is also likely to live on longer in public memory than whoever takes home top awards for best record, best album and song of the year, said Lyndsey Parker, managing editor for Yahoo Music. "It seems like with any musical award show now, no one seems to pay that much attention, especially in the long term, to who won anything," Parker said. She noted how the 1998 Grammys are best remembered not for Bob Dylan winning the album of the year award but for when artist Michael Portnoy, who was hired as a background dancer, tore off his shirt and started his own impromptu dance behind Dylan with the words "soy bomb" drawn on his torso. Since Portnoy's stunt, the "soy bomb" moment and the phrase has been widely referenced and parodied, including by comedian Will Ferrell on "Saturday Night Live." "When you talk about big Grammy moments and big VMA moments, you're always talking about great performances, surprise performances or train wrecks, crazy performances," Parker said..--REUTERS

LOS ANGELES; Winning a Grammy Award may be the goal on Sunday, but getting a chance to perform at the annual awards show in front of tens of millions of TV viewers worldwide could be the biggest career maker of the night for up-and-coming singers and musicians. The Grammys, rated in a recent industry poll by Billboard magazine as the ... Read More »

Pitbull’s “We Are One (Ole Ola)” is official FIFA World Cup song

LONDON:Pitbull's "We Are One (Ole Ola)", featuring pop singers Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte, will be the official anthem of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Soccer's world governing body FIFA and recording company Sony Music Entertainment chose the song on Thursday which the three stars will perform at the opening ceremony of the World Cup on June 12 at the Arena de Sao Paulo in Brazil. "I grew up in a house that loved 'futbol', so I am thrilled to be performing at the World Cup Opening Ceremonies with Pitbull and Claudia Leitte," said Jennifer Lopez in a statement released by Sony announcing the choice of song. "This is an amazing celebration of global unity, competition and the sport," said the U.S. singer and actress, who is of Puerto Rican descent. The song and music video will be released later this year. The World Cup runs from June 12 to July 13. U.S. rapper Pitbull, who is originally from Miami, is well-known for his 2013 global hit "Timber", which topped the charts in many countries. Claudia Leitte is an award-winning Brazilian pop star famed for singing 'axé', a popular music genre from Bahia in Brazil. "In my many visits to (Brazil) I've seen and heard a lot about the great Brazilian music tradition and it gives me great pleasure to see a Brazilian artist at the heart of this song," said FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke. The official anthem of the last World Cup in 2010 in South Africa, "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" by Colombian singer Shakira, became a global hit..--REUTERS

LONDON:Pitbull’s “We Are One (Ole Ola)”, featuring pop singers Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte, will be the official anthem of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Soccer’s world governing body FIFA and recording company Sony Music Entertainment chose the song on Thursday which the three stars will perform at the opening ceremony of the World Cup on June 12 ... Read More »

Justin Bieber charged with drunk driving, drag racing in Florida

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Teen pop star Justin Bieber was arrested in Miami Beach early on Thursday on a drunken driving charge after he was caught drag racing on a main thoroughfare in a rented yellow Lamborghini, police said. The 19-year-old Canadian singer initially resisted arrest, cursed at police officers and later told them he had consumed alcohol, pot and prescription drugs, police said. A judge set his bail at $2,500. Bieber's arrest is his most serious run-in with the law during a year in which his erratic behavior has ranged from allegations of speeding through his gated community near Los Angeles to heated scuffles with paparazzi. Just after 4 a.m. on Thursday, officers observed Bieber's Lamborghini alongside another driver in a red Ferrari accelerate from a stop position on a four-lane road in a residential area just a few blocks from the South Beach tourist district, Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez said. Two SUVs had blocked off the road so the "Boyfriend" singer could race a friend who was driving the rented red sports car, police said. Bieber was driving the sports car 55 to 60 miles per hour (88 to 96 km per hour) in a 30-mile-per-hour (48 kph) zone. He was also charged with resisting arrest without violence and driving on an expired Georgia license, Miami Beach police spokeswoman Vivian Hernandez said. The singer was "a little belligerent, using some choice words," when arrested, Martinez said, but he grew cooperative at the police station. His mug shot shows him smiling. In the arrest report, an officer said Bieber had bloodshot eyes and alcohol on his breath. The singer told police he was returning from a studio recording session and repeatedly asked why he had been stopped and arrested. "Why did you stop me?" he asked, according to the report. "Why do you have to search me?" Bieber later acknowledged that he had taken prescription medicine, had been smoking marijuana and had consumed alcohol, Martinez said. Representatives for Bieber and his mother, Pattie Mallette, said they had no comment about his arrest. The singer appeared at his bail hearing Thursday afternoon via video from the jail where he was being held. He made no comment during the brief proceedings. His friend, identified as R&B singer Khalil Sharieff, was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence. His bail was set at $1,000. High-powered criminal defense attorney Roy Black, who also has represented radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, actor Kelsey Grammer and Kennedy family member William Kennedy Smith, appeared in court on behalf of both men. "This hopefully will proceed as any other case," Black said after the hearing. The police department in the Florida city of Opa-locka is investigating whether two of its officers gave Bieber an unauthorized escort on Monday night after his private jet landed at the local airport, said city spokesman David Chiverton. He confirmed the city also was looking into whether officers escorted Bieber to the King of Diamonds strip club in Miami Gardens. "We're investigating whether our police department escorted him there," said Chiverton. "You can have fun in Miami, but not too much fun." Bieber's erratic behavior has at times overshadowed his music career in the last year as the singer who shot to fame at age 15 transitions to adulthood. Earlier this month, detectives in California raided Bieber's home after he was accused of pelting a neighbor's house with eggs. Celebrities quickly weighed in on Twitter about Bieber's latest run-in with police. "Doesn't Hollywood have any original ideas?" comedic actor Michael Ian Black wrote. "I've seen this Bieber movie so many times."..--REUTERS

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Teen pop star Justin Bieber was arrested in Miami Beach early on Thursday on a drunken driving charge after he was caught drag racing on a main thoroughfare in a rented yellow Lamborghini, police said. The 19-year-old Canadian singer initially resisted arrest, cursed at police officers and later told them he had consumed alcohol, pot and prescription ... Read More »

Butterflies take flight on Jean Paul Gaultier’s Paris catwalk

PARIS: Butterfly show-girls fluttered down the Jean Paul Gaultier catwalk in Paris on Wednesday, as the French designer transformed his haute couture gowns into delicate ethereal creations with silky wings in multicoloured hues. Never one to eschew drama, Gaultier added volume to sleeves and collars, bodices and skirts to create magnificent, light-as-air wings in silks, organzas and crisp cottons for his Spring/Summer 2014 collection. During a trip to London, mounted butterflies in a shop caught the designer's attention, fuelling his imagination, he said. "I was thinking about colours and fabrics and what they could be and then I kept seeing the shape (of the butterfly) and saw that it could be a body - everything was like a dress," Gaultier told reporters after the show at his design studio. The modest and always-affable Gaultier said his creations, beautiful though they are, could not compete with Nature. "What's incredible are these blue butterflies, they're almost metallic blue and then on the back they're almost leopard. It's stunning." Ruffled wings on silk organza dresses in sky blue and Indian rose had a petal-like fragility, while an asymmetrical gown erupted in a flourish of blue, green, purple and black over one shoulder. A va-va-voom skirt in vermillion with a dramatic flared hem was sewn from a delicately woven cable that recalled a butterfly net. The netting also showed up at the front of a dramatic Persian blue gown, creating a dramatic peek-a-boo. The Paris shows, which run through Friday, are a high-profile showcase for a select group of couture houses who still employ highly skilled artisans to sew each garment by hand. Haute couture - which due to its prohibitive cost is worn by only a few hundred of the richest women around the world - has a minimal effect on a luxury brand's sales, but is a major marketing driver for the $275 billion global luxury industry. Gaultier is majority-owned by Spanish family luxury group Puig. WOMEN WITH A PAST Though butterflies were the inspiration of the show, the all-black, femme fatale looks that began the show could well have been inspired by a more sinister insect - the Black Widow. "There's a little sexiness in it, but elegant and chic and very, very couture," Gaultier said. Gaultier, who actively embraces street culture and revels in a certain seedy sensibility, injects every collection with a hint of impropriety. Inspired at various junctures throughout his career by sailors, Gypsies, circus performers and strippers, Gaultier creates clothes for women who look like they have a past. Fittingly, the raven-haired burlesque artist Dita Von Teese sashayed down the runway in a Monarch butterfly corset made of satin, organza and black velvet to close the show. "She's beautiful. She's the perfect butterfly," said Gaultier. "She's marvellous. She has the exact shape of a butterfly."..--REUTERS

PARIS: Butterfly show-girls fluttered down the Jean Paul Gaultier catwalk in Paris on Wednesday, as the French designer transformed his haute couture gowns into delicate ethereal creations with silky wings in multicoloured hues. Never one to eschew drama, Gaultier added volume to sleeves and collars, bodices and skirts to create magnificent, light-as-air wings in silks, organzas and crisp cottons for ... Read More »

“Ni hao, y’all”: Ellen DeGeneres talk show lands in China

LOS ANGELES: Comedian Ellen DeGeneres' daytime talk show will be the first daily American show of its kind to be distributed in China, said the U.S. and Chinese distributors. Episodes of Emmy-winning "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" are now available on Chinese online video service Sohu Video 48 hours after its U.S. broadcast and with Chinese subtitles, Sohu.com Inc and Time Warner Inc-owned Warner Bros. Domestic Television said. "Ni hao! Ni Hao. Ni hao, y'all!" DeGeneres greeted viewers in Mandarin on her show Tuesday in announcing the deal. "It's basically the same show, but it will have subtitles and be called 'The Happy Lady Dance Hour,'" joked the 55-year-old comedian, who will host the Academy Awards on March 2. "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," in its 11th season, typically draws 3 million to 4 million viewers, and is one of the most-viewed daytime talk shows on U.S. television..--REUTERS

LOS ANGELES: Comedian Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show will be the first daily American show of its kind to be distributed in China, said the U.S. and Chinese distributors. Episodes of Emmy-winning “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” are now available on Chinese online video service Sohu Video 48 hours after its U.S. broadcast and with Chinese subtitles, Sohu.com Inc and Time ... Read More »

Pussy Riot duo to appear at U.S. Amnesty International concert

NEW YORK: Two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot who were jailed for nearly two years on charges of religious hatred and became international emblems for human rights campaigners will appear at a concert in New York, said an organizer of Amnesty International. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will make their first trip to the United States since they were granted amnesty in December by Russian President Vladimir Putin, two months before they were set to be released. Alyokhina, 25, and Tolokonnikova, 24, were convicted in 2012 of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after they stormed the altar of Moscow's biggest cathedral and beseeched the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin. "A month ago we were freed from Russian prison camps," Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova said in a joint statement. "We will never forget what it's like to be in prison after a political conviction. We have vowed to continue helping those who remain behind bars and we hope to see you all at the Amnesty International concert on February 5th in Brooklyn!" It is not clear whether Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova will perform at the "Bringing Human Rights Home" concert featuring rock groups The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons and R&B singer Lauryn Hill. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova derided their early release last year as a propaganda stunt by Putin to improve Russia's image before it hosts the Winter Olympics in February. Putin, who denies jailing people for political reasons, has said the amnesty would show that the Russian state is humane. Tolokonnikova staged a hunger strike last year to draw attention to stark conditions and long hours of mandatory labor in the jail where she was held. A third Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed when a judge suspended her sentence on appeal..--REUTERS

NEW YORK: Two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot who were jailed for nearly two years on charges of religious hatred and became international emblems for human rights campaigners will appear at a concert in New York, said an organizer of Amnesty International. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will make their first trip to the United States since ... Read More »

A year after his death, film explores Aaron Swartz’s online activism

PARK CITY: A year after Internet activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide, a new documentary brings to light the young computer prodigy's earnest battle to bring online freedom of access to information for everyone. "The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Monday and director Brian Knappenberger was joined by Swartz's father Robert and two brothers, Noah and Ben, all of whom received a standing ovation. "It's unbelievably hard for us, but Aaron is dead, there's nothing we can do about that," Swartz's father told the audience, saying he hoped the film would raise awareness of Aaron's activism and encourage others to fight on his behalf. Swartz died aged 26 in his Brooklyn, New York apartment on January 11, 2013, after facing felony charges brought by a federal grand jury that included theft, wire fraud and computer fraud. The federal indictment said Swartz, a fellow at Harvard University, had downloaded millions of articles and journals from digital archive JSTOR through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology servers. Swartz, who pleaded not guilty to all counts, faced 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted. In the film, which is a contender in Sundance's U.S. documentary competition, Knappenberger focuses on Swartz's intellect and growing political ambitions, with interviews that shed insight into his personality from Swartz's family, friends and colleagues. This is the second film by Knappenberger exploring those on the fringes of the Internet. His first film, "We Are the Legion," about the online Anonymous hacktivist group, premiered at the underground Slamdance film festival that runs alongside Sundance, in 2012. "The Internet's Own Boy," financed by crowd-sourced funding website Kickstarter, where more than 1,500 backers raised $93,000, will be released under a Creative Commons license allowing others to build off Knappenberger's work, in the spirit of Swartz's desire for free, open and accessible content for all. FIGHT FOR ONLINE FREEDOM The film begins with family footage of a young and mischievous Swartz, playing with his two brothers, reading books and expressing curiosity in the world around him. Swartz's early life was dominated by his superior intellect and his love of computers. His brother Ben explained Swartz was drawn to coding as he felt like it was "magic, and could be used to solve anything." Soon, a young Swartz was attending meetings and panels for computer programming, setting up an online crowd-sourced encyclopedia, and co-authoring the Web feed RSS 1.0, which would help users collate summaries of the latest headlines from their favorite websites onto one page. Much of the film focuses on Swartz's political activism after he parted ways in 2007 with Reddit, a user-submitted news and entertainment social platform that he co-founded, and became engrossed with copyright laws. Swartz's efforts to bring what he felt were public access documents to the mass public for free, including approximately 19 million court documents from the PACER case-law website, made him an online icon. Swartz was also instrumental in campaigning against the Stop Online Piracy Act, a controversial U.S. bill that would have allowed court orders to curb access to certain websites deemed to be engaging in illegal sharing of intellectual property. The bill was later withdrawn. Many of Swartz's friends and collaborators, including Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, and Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, criticized the charges brought against Swartz, blaming the prosecutors for trying to make Swartz an example case for hackers. Lessig teared up when talking about Swartz's death, saying he had "never lost anybody in this way before." "The movie brings out the fact that the criminal justice system is broken, and that one needs criminal justice reform," Swartz's father passionately told the audience. "The fact that over 90 percent of people indicted plead guilty, and over 90 percent who go to trial are convicted, means that the presumption of innocence no longer exists in our system," he said. REUTERS

PARK CITY: A year after Internet activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide, a new documentary brings to light the young computer prodigy’s earnest battle to bring online freedom of access to information for everyone. “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Monday and director Brian Knappenberger was joined by Swartz’s father Robert ... Read More »

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