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NFL in Damage-Control Mode Over Head-Trauma Movie ‘CONCUSSION’

Will Smith’s ‘Concussion’ Drama: NFL Plots Embrace-the-Debate Strategy

Concussion Trailer Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Sony Pictures
Sony’s ‘Concussion’

The league says it would even entertain the prospect of working with Sony on raising awareness about football safety.

Facing an onslaught of potentially damaging PR, the National Football League has drafted its own game plan for dealing with the upcoming Sony film Concussion.

The league will host a series of discussions, conferences and scientific strategy meetings about player safety over the coming months in the run-up to Concussion’s release Christmas Day. In fact, the NFL says it welcomes the Will Smith-led film’s ability to spark dialogue on the subject, despite being portrayed as an organization that tried to conceal findings about the long-term effects of football-related head trauma.

“When something like this movie comes up and people want to talk about concussions or football or the future of the sport, that’s an opportunity for us to engage,” Jeff Miller, NFL senior vp health and safety policy, toldThe Hollywood Reporter. “We intend to do just that over the course of the movie and long after that.”

Among the events planned are a convening of concussion experts at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center that is being funded by a grant from the NFL Foundation (beginning Oct. 15) and the International Professional Sports Concussion Research Think Tank in London (Oct. 23-25).

The NFL isn’t shirking from the media glare in the wake of Monday’s Concussion trailer debut, which prompted major news coverage from networks and national outlets. Miller says the NFL will speak to any press outlet that wants to know about the health and safety questions in football and what the league is doing to reduce concussions. Perhaps more intriguing, the NFL would even entertain the prospect of working with Sony on raising awareness.


“The studio hasn’t asked,” Miller added. “And if they were to and it gives us the opportunity to talk about the health and safety of our sport, we would do that. But there hasn’t been any communication to this point.”

Sony declined comment.

To date, no one from the NFL has been invited to see the film, which has been screened mostly for sports journalists, including writers and editors at Sports Illustrated, which made the film its cover story this week.

Meanwhile Sony is scrambling in the aftermath of a New York Times article — citing a series of hacked emails — that claims the studio softened the film’s take on the NFL. In response, the studio has put the film’s directorPeter Landesman on the record for a number of news outlets including THR[2] in an effort to reverse the perception that it caved to pressure. The NFL, too, is bristling at the suggestion that it applied any pressure to alter the film. THR could find no evidence in the trove of leaked emails from last year that the studio and the NFL had any contact regarding Concussion beyond a brief email exchange between Landesman and NFL communications chief Paul Hicks in which the director requested a meeting that never materialized (Hicks asked for and was denied a copy of the script).

“It’s probably something that we, the league, need to do a better job of in terms of talking about the things we do [to educate] as well as continuing to do the things we do to improve the [safety of the] game,” Miller added. “If this [movie] presents an opportunity to engage in that conversation, then that’s terrific for us.”

And while Sony and the NFL are waging their own PR campaigns over the film’s treatment of the league, Dr. Christopher Giza, director of UCLA’s Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, offered up an outside perspective on the Concussion debate.

“One concern I have is that the film might paint too dire a picture of a post-concussion prognosis,” Dr. Giza said. “People who have suffered concussions need — and should have — hope because there’s a lot that can be done, and we are learning more every day.”

From the Hollywood Reporter

Guardians of the Galaxy

drax, guardians of the galaxy, rocket raccoon

Maybe you never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel comic franchise that wilts in the shadows while Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Avengers get all the love. Maybe you think a big-ass movie about wanna-be Marvel icons isn’t worth your time.

Snap out of it. Guardians of the Galaxy does the impossible. Through dazzle and dumb luck, it turns the clichés of comic-book films on their idiot heads and hits you like an exhilarating blast of fun-fun-fun. It’s insanely, shamelessly silly – just one reason to love it.

Another is the up-for-anything cast. Chris Pratt is blissfully right as Peter Quill, who calls himself the Star Lord, mostly because no one else will. Since age nine, when he was zapped from Earth into space after the death of his mother, Peter has been bounty-hunting around the cosmos in the corrupt employ of blue-skinned Yondu (Michael Rooker).

If you’re a fan of Pratt as chubby Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation or as the voice of Emmet in The Lego Movie or in supporting roles in smart movies such as Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty, you’ll want to catch him here. Whether he’s busting funky dance moves to the 1970s oldies songs on his late mom’s cassette player (he kills it on “O-o-h Child”) or showing his chops as a space warrior, Pratt nails every beat in the role – comedy, drama, action and six-pack-baring stud appeal. Want to see Pratt become a full-fledged movie star? This is where it happens.

All praise to director James Gunn, the creative force behind the little-seen but muchadmired Slither and Super, for making his first epic an epic treat. The twisty script Gunn wrote with Nicole Perlman tests Peter’s mettle with an impossible task: Collect major bucks and, oh yeah, save the galaxy by stealing a mysterious orb back from the evil Ronan (Lee Pace), who wants to use the orb’s beyond-nuclear power for, well, the usual reasons.

drax, guardians of the galaxy, rocket raccoon

Of course, Peter needs help, which he gets, reluctantly, from four loser misfits, much like himself. Zoe Saldana defines seductive stealth as Gamora, the green-skinned assassin that Peter hits on despite his rep for sleeping with enemy aliens. “That was one time,” Peter objects.

WWE wrestling champ Dave Bautista brings ferocity and feeling to Drax the Destroyer, the tattooed hulk who wants to crush Ronan for killing his wife and daughter.

The real scene-stealers are computer-generated. Those who’ve always dismissed Vin Diesel as a wooden actor will get a kick out of hearing him voice the role of Groot, a walking tree whose one line of dialogue is “I am Groot.” Diesel gets the last laugh, since he wrings those three words for unexpected humor and heart.

Top dog or, in this case, top rodent is Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, a growling, gun-slinging raccoon given to mouthing off at his fellow guardians. While giving surprising depth to this genetically altered raccoon, Cooper has a ball taking the piss out of friends and foes who mistake Rocket for a candy-ass cartoon.

You’ll have a ball too. Guardians of the Galaxy is crowded with characters and incidents that sometimes spill over into confusion and chaos. Still, this orphan child of the Marvel universe possesses a wild-card energy and a throwaway charm that its bloated bigger-budget brothers should envy. Even a sequel doesn’t inspire dread. Should the Guardians take on the Avengers? Hell, yeah!

J.J. Watt ‘arguably best player in NFL’

RVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys expected J.J. Watt to be a very good NFL defensive lineman when they passed on him in the 2011 NFL draft.
jj watt, nfl, nfl players, pro bowl, reggie white, tony ramirez,
The most dominant defensive force in the NFL? No, the Cowboys didn’t see that coming from Watt, who they’ll see Sunday when the Texans come to AT&T Stadium.

“We had him highly, highly evaluated,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan, adding that Watt was one of seven or eight players he personally interviewed extensively during pre-draft visits. “Certainly, we felt like we needed to address our offensive line, but let’s just put it like this. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s having the career that he’s having or a successful career.

“It surprises me, though, that he’s arguably the best player in the NFL. That’s surprising but understandable because of the passion that he has.”

Watt was former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s favorite player in the draft. However, the Cowboys had clearly identified offensive tackle as their biggest need and considered Tyron Smith to be a can’t-miss prospect with Hall of Fame potential.

The Cowboys have no complaints about taking Smith with the ninth overall pick, as evidenced by the recently signed extension that is the richest contract for an offensive lineman in NFL history. The Texans are just as thrilled with using the 11th overall pick to select Watt, whose extension makes him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.

Just imagine how the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars feel. Those teams reached for quarterbacks Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert with the eighth and 10th overall picks, respectively.


Where is Alec Baldwin when you need him?


Unfortunately, this isn’t a joke,” Hill began as he revealed the circumstances that led to the incident. The actor recalled how the paparazzo in question had been following him all day, calling him names and attacking him personally until he just couldn’t take it any more.

“In response, I wanted to hurt him back, and I said the most hurtful word that I could think of at that moment,” Hill admitted.

Alec Baldwin would have gotten away with it!


Read more here