National News

Part Of Fishing Boat Destroyed In Japan Tsunami Appears Off Oregon

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 10:27

The 30-foot piece of the commercial trawler was found Thursday floating off the Ona beach about 65 northwest of Eugene.

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Egyptian Court Sentences U.S. Citizen To Life In Prison

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 07:32

Mohamed Soltan, 27, was among 36 defendants sentenced to life in prison. Fourteen others, including the leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, received death sentences.

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Thai Tourist Island Rocked By Car Bomb

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 05:47

The explosion in the southern tourist island of Samui slightly wounded seven people. The government has blamed the activists opposed to the country's ruling junta.

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Students Push College Fossil Fuel Divestment To Stigmatize Industry

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 04:55

As a way to fight climate change, students at hundreds of campuses are pushing their colleges to divest from fossil fuels with sit-ins. But critics say divestment is the wrong tactic.

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Kansas Man Arrested Alleged ISIS-Inspired Bomb Plot

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 04:46

The FBI conducted a sting operation in which the alleged would-be bomber, 20-year-old John T. Booker Jr., was provided inert bomb-making materials.

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Obama, Castro Shake Hands Ahead Of Historic Meeting Saturday

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 04:16

In a moment some have looked forward to for more than 50 years, the presidents of the U.S. and Cuba met at the annual Summit of the Americas.

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Historic Meeting Expected Between Obama, Castro At Americas Summit

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 04:15

The two leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of the gathering in Panama City.

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Colorado Deals Inmates A New Deck Of Cards

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 04:06

Colorado is the latest state to issue playing cards bearing photos of victims from unsolved crimes in the hopes that prisoners might generate fresh leads.

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Women Join Men On Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Day

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 03:38

For the first time in the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race history, the women's event will be held on the same day as the men's. Tamara Keith speaks with American rower Caryn Davies.

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Army Reviewing Rape Charges Against U.S. Troops In Colombia

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 03:38

A Colombian report reviewing the last five decades of conflict there offered new allegations that U.S. personnel raped as many as 53 women and girls while stationed there between 2003 and 2007.

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With Paul, Cruz and Clinton On The Verge, 2016 Election Takes Shape

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 03:38

Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have announced they'll run for president, and Hillary Clinton is expected to announce on Sunday. Correspondents Mara Liasson and Don Gonyea join NPR's Tamara Keith.

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Large Crowds Expected For Walter Scott's S.C. Funeral

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 03:38

A funeral service is scheduled Saturday for Walter Scott, the black man killed by a white police officer in North Charleston, S.C.. NPR's Tamara Keith speaks with correspondent Martin Kaste.

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Humanitarian Worker In Yemen Sees Catastrophe Ahead

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 03:38

Crucial aid shipments carrying much-needed medical supplies have finally reached Yemen. NPR's Tamara Keith talks to Nuha, the humanitarian coordinator for Oxfam in Yemen.

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Family Dispute Tears At France's Far-Right National Front

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 03:38

A family feud is raging in France's far-right political party between party leader Marine Le Pen and its founder, Le Pen's father. NPR's Tamara Keith speaks with French journalist Cecile Alduy.

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The Future of Free Online Courses: New Research From MIT And Harvard

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 03:03

A new study of free, online college courses found a pattern among the people who take them: They're mostly college-educated, including a surprising number of teachers.

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Former Ebola Fighters Feel As If They Get No Respect

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 03:03

Many Liberians who helped battle the virus weren't full-fledged health workers. Now that the outbreak has subsided, they feel forgotten, neglected and stigmatized.

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5 Things You Should Know About Hillary Clinton

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 01:03

She started out as a Republican and hasn't driven a car since 1996. Here's what you may not know or just may not remember about the former secretary of state and first lady.

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Plagued By Smog, Krakow Struggles To Break Its Coal-Burning Habit

NPR News - Sat, 2015-04-11 00:50

Russian gas is expensive, so many Poles still rely on coal. Krakow is one of the most polluted cities in the EU's most polluted country. All that coal is akin to "smoking 2,000 cigarettes per year."

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Weekly Wrap: General Electric and Stock Market Highs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-10 16:12

Joining Kai to talk about the week's business and economic news are Nela Richardson from Redfin and Sudeep Reddy  from the Wall Street Journal. The big topics this week: General Electric's plans to sell off most of GE Capital, the company's financial division, and the reasons behind some countries' current stock market highs.  


How film actors' pay gets calculated

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-10 13:41

When Sony Studios was hacked late last year in connection with the film "The Interview," a trove of internal documents was released online. One of the damaging revelations was that the studio was paying some of its actresses less than their male co-stars.

The revelation generated headlines about women's pay. But, it also brought to light the disparities in what actors are paid, and the complex calculations that go into determining those salaries.

"It's a calculus you go through on each film," says Peter Sealey, former head of marketing at Columbia Pictures, who now runs a marketing firm.

Amy Pascal, the former studio chief at Sony Pictures who was fired in the aftermath of the hack, spoke at a women's conference in San Francisco in February, and said one of the fundamental elements of what determines actors' salaries is, simply, negotiation.

"I run a business. People want to work for less money, I'll pay them less money," Pascal said in a public interview with audience. "I don't call them up and go: can I give you some more?"

Some actresses are definitely not working for less money. They are the rarefied few in the $20-million-and-up-club, like Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock. They both can command huge salaries and even percentages of movie profits or revenues.

But there are many other actors who do not have such clout. And yet, Pascal's advice was blunt.

"The truth is that what women have to do is not work for less money. They have to walk away. People shouldn't be so grateful for jobs. People should know what they're worth and say no," Pascal said.

But walking away may be less of an option for most actors, because the salary calculations studios do, Sealey says, which change their formulas based on recent trends.

The calculation of an actor's worth in a film "involves a lot of variables," Sealey says, "but principally it is: how much of a draw will that actor or actress be for your target audience?"

The bigger the audience the studio believes an actor can attract to movie theaters — especially during the all-important opening weekend, which can help determine the long-term earnings trajectory of a film - the higher that actor's salary might go.

But that correlation has a number of additional variables that can affect salary. Among them are the film's budget and what role that film plays for a studio's bottom line. If it's a tentpole film, Sealey says, "where it's important to a studio's long-term health... the price of the actor goes up."

A major tentpole, like the James Bond franchise, is supposed to make so much money that it covers the bombs the studio makes and boosts the bottom line. The last Bond film, "Skyfall," made $300 million in the U.S. and $1.1 billion globally. 

Conversely, non-tentpole films might have lower budgets and lower salaries — no matter an actor's star power. But for the big-budget fare, salaries can reach the heights which Daniel Craig reached in "Skyfall:" $17 million. The film itself reportedly cost $200 million to produce. Craig's salary probably also had something to do with the fact that he had been Bond before.

"If you're trying to get somebody to repeat a past success, obviously you wind up paying them more," says Mike Medavoy, a film producer who headed up Orion and TriStar pictures in the '80s and '90s.

Repeating past successes, if done in a particular genre, can help actors establish a brand and help them boost their salaries, Medavoy says.

"Liam Neeson is a perfect example of that," he says. 

Neeson made $1 million for "Taken," but by the second sequel, with a track record of box office success behind him, Neeson raked in $20 million. The film itself made $300 million, most of it overseas.

"At this point, about 65 to 70 percent of the revenue comes out of foreign and not out of the domestic market," Medavoy says. Which means that an actor with strong appeal in foreign markets can demand a higher salary.

Actors' appeal is also calculated with other revenue streams in mind — home video, Internet, TV, etc. Even an actor's social media presence — whether they have a large Twitter following, for example — can help determine their salary, says entertainment lawyer Jonathan Handel.

"That's something that talent reps can use in arguing for a given salary," Handel says, "How that translates into dollars is probably a dark art." 

While actors can do a lot to boost their worth, Handel says there is a countervailing trend among studios. They're making fewer movies, and relying more on special effects and comic-book characters.

"You know if you're casting a Spider-Man movie, it's mostly about Spider-Man and not about the particular actor," Handel says.

Compare that to the 1990s, when movie budgets ballooned and actors' salaries went up along with those budgets. Handel says the decades since have seen a big shift and "the power that actors and their representatives used to have has diminished."

In aggregate, that's meant smaller salaries, except for the biggest of the big name actors, he says.