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‘Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights’ Choreographer Testifies She Doesn’t Remember Dancer Alleging Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault

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Harvey Weinstein’s defense called on a choreographer from the 2004 film “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” to answer questions about a dancer from the movie, who is a witness testifying in the L.A. trial. The dancer has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein during production on the musical film, which his company Miramax produced.

Choreographer JoAnn Jansen was subpoenaed by Weinstein’s defense team to take the stand on Monday afternoon. She was the main choreographer on the 2004 film, which was a reimagining of the original hit “Dirty Dancing,” and has worked on a total of four films for Weinstein.

Jansen said she has no recollection of ever meeting Ashley Matthau, who is an uncharged witness in the trial. Matthau had booked a small role as a dancer on the “Dirty Dancing” sequel. During her testimony, she alleged she was assaulted in 2003 when Weinstein masturbated on her in his hotel room in Puerto Rico. Matthau, who was 22-years-old at the time, said that Weinstein wanted to discuss “future projects” with her. She agreed to go to the hotel because his assistant was with him and assumed it would be a business meeting. When they got to his room, his assistant abandoned her.

Matthau told jurors that she confided in a choreographer and producer on set, but said that neither of them had offered any assistance. Matthau did not specify the name of that choreographer during her testimony, so it’s unclear if she was referring to Jansen or somebody else.

During Jansen’s testimony on Monday, she shared she had no awareness of Matthau working on the film whatsoever. The choreographer said there were 50-75 dancers hired and claimed to know all of them. When shown a photo of Matthau, she did not recognize her.

Jansen also told the defense that no women ever made any complaints about Weinstein during the production.

“Did any female dancer meet you to express any concern?” Weinstein’s attorney, Mark Werksman, asked. Jansen replied, “No.” She said she would have remembered if such a concern was reported to her.

Werksman also asked if any of the dancers on set were in “distress” about any meetings with Weinstein, and Jansen said, “No.”

When cross-examined by the prosecutor, deputy D.A. Marlene Martinez, Jansen said she would recognize every single dancer with whom she worked. “I know that sounds odd, but I did.”

The prosecutor then showed Jansen IMDb pages from “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” and Jansen said she recognized every person in the cast, aside from Matthau. “She was credited with being a dancer, but you don’t recognize her?” Jansen responded, “Nope.”

The prosecutor then proceeded to ask about another dancer on the film: Claudia Salinas, a model and influencer who testified earlier in the trial after being accused of helping Weinstein trap a woman in his hotel bathroom where she was allegedly assaulted. Salinas disputed any involvement in the alleged incident and denied any wrongdoing, but her name has emerged a handful of times during the trial as an alleged accomplice to Weinstein.

When asked about Salinas, Jansen immediately recognized the name. When questioned about Salinas’ relationship with Weinstein, Jansen appeared to be uneasy and replied, “I don’t know,” to the prosecutor. Jansen said she didn’t work with her and, with a laugh said, “I don’t know why, but I do know her.”

Jansen noted that Salinas was a “dance extra” and said she did not hire her. When Martinez asked if she interacted with any of the dance extras, Jansen said, “No, I’m not allowed to,” citing SAG rules that state she is only able to interact with principal dancers. Martinez then asked, “Would you know all the dance extras?” and Jansen said, “No.” Martinez suggested that Matthau might have been a dance extra.

Jansen — whose choreography credits include “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” “Uptown Girls,” “Shall We Dance” and two upcoming “Avatar” sequels — was the fourth witness called by the defense. Weinstein’s attorneys intend to call two more witnesses before resting their case this week.

Matthau’s attorney responded to Variety‘s request for comment on Monday evening, in response to Jansen’s testimony.

“A quick check of the credits for ‘Havana Nights’ reflects Ashley as a dancer in the movie, and she still receives residual checks to this day,” said attorney Elizabeth Fagen of the firm Fagen Scott, in an email to Variety. “If the defense argues she wasn’t there, they will be lying to the court and the jury.”

Closing arguments in Weinstein’s trial are expected to occur this week. The judge indicated that the case will likely be in the jury’s hands by end of the week.



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Director Jafar Panahi Anxiously Awaits Iranian Court Ruling on His Release From Jail

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A ruling on Jafar Panahi’s release from Tehran’s Evin prison is deemed imminent now that Iran’s supreme court has overturned the conviction that led to the incarceration last year of the auteur who is considered one of Iranian cinema’s greatest living masters.

Panahi’s wife, Tahereh Saeedi, has launched an appeal on Instagram stating that his lawyers have managed to successfully overturn the six-year sentence issued against the director in 2010 for “propaganda against the system.” That sentence has become obsolete due to the country’s 10-year statute of limitations. Panahi’s case has now been sent to an Iranian court of appeals.

“Last week we were informed that Jafar will be out in a week,” Saeedi said in the appeal posted on Instagram this week. However, “a week passed by and Jafar is still not with us,” she went on to lament.

Panahi’s lawyer, Saleh Nikhbakht, told French news agency AFP that under Iranian law, “he should immediately be released on bail and his case reviewed again.” But the directors’ wife and others in Iran’s film community fear that Iranian security forces will manage to force the judiciary to keep him behind bars.

“The liberation of Jafar is in total accordance of their own laws,” Saeedi pointed out in the appeal. “But they [Iranian authorities] are above the law; without any respect for the law,” she said.

Panahi, 62, is known globally for prizewinning works such as “The Circle,” “Offside,” “This is Not a Film,” “Taxi,” and most recently “No Bears,” winner of last year’s Venice’s Special Jury Prize. He was arrested last July in Tehran in the wake of the country’s conservative government crackdown. Panahi had been there to visit Tehran’s prosecutor’s office to follow up on the situation of fellow dissident filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulov, who had been incarcerated a few days earlier after signing an appeal against police violence.

On Jan. 7, Rasoulov was granted a two-week release permit for health reasons, his lawyer told AFP. Panahi’s lawyer also said that Panahi, during his detention in Tehran’s Evin prison for political prisoners, has contracted a skin disease which requires treatment in a hospital outside the jail.

Rasoulov and Panahi’s imprisonment took place before the wave of protests sparked in September by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while she was held in custody for allegedly wearing a loose hijab. Those protests have caused more than 500 civilians to be killed by government security forces and more than 100 members of the Iranian film industry to be arrested or banned from making movies.

On Jan. 4, Iranian authorities released Taraneh Alidoosti, the star of Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning film “The Salesman,” almost three weeks after she was jailed for criticizing a crackdown on the anti-government protests.



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Archer Star Reacts To Live-Action Jon Hamm Movie Fancasting

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Exclusive: Archer voice actor Chris Parnell reacts to Jon Hamm’s fan-casting as the eponymous main character in a live-action film adaptation.


Chris Parnell, who voices Cyril Figgis on the long-running animated sitcom Archer, gives his thoughts on Jon Hamm’s fan-casting as the secret agent Sterling Archer in a possible live-action film adaptation. Archer follows the narcissistic and clever eponymous main character and parodies espionage while also making commentary on culture, society, and the human condition. The show, which debuted in 2009 and is still running, has received wide critical acclaim and has even racked up four Primetime Emmy Awards during its run. But like many animated shows, there has been a discussion about what a potential live-action Archer movie may look like and its cast.

SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant‘s Grant Hermanns, Parnell discussed the possibility of an Archer movie and whether he thought it would be better to remain in the animated format or adapt a live-action feature film. Parnell, who also revealed that production for Archer season 14 is already underway, said that he didn’t expect himself and the rest of the voice cast to necessarily be able to play their respective characters in a live-action format. He also commented on the possibility of casting Jon Hamm in the live-action role of Archer for the prospective movie. Check out Parnell’s full quote below:

“I’d love it if it happened, especially if I was involved with it. If it happens, that would be very cool. But, I don’t know that there’s an assurance that any of us would get to play our actual characters. I think, if anything, it might be more likely to have an animated movie version of the show, but I’m open to whatever. I don’t know that you’re gonna get too many actors who want to have their voices dubbed in English. [Chuckles] He is a fun guy, he’s a good guy. I don’t know how he’d feel about that. I can’t speak for Jon, but I think he would probably feel like he could bring enough of Jon’s style to the live-action version that that wouldn’t be necessary, but you can also put a wig on Jon and dapper him up. [Laughs]”


Will An Archer Movie Happen?

Archer holds his pistol from Archer

The idea of an Archer movie adaptation has been floating around for some time now. Executive producers Matt Thompson and Casey Willis stated back in 2016 that a discussion between the producers and Archer creator and writer Adam Reed about a movie happens once every couple of years. Back then, the producers said that in a perfect world, Hamm would be the actor to play Archer if the film ended up being a live-action project. Reed also supported that Hamm would also be his choice while revealing that a lot of Archer‘s production and costume design was influenced by the look of Hamm’s show Mad Men.

Should An Archer Movie Stay Animated Or Live-Action?

Lana and Archer in Archer Season 13 wearing their parachute gear

If the movie does get made, the big question is whether the producers would be better off sticking with their tried and true animated format or taking a risk to make it a live-action production. Any plot for the film adaptation of the super spy animated show would also have to work without Archer’s mother and spy agency head Mallory Archer. After Mallory voice actor Jessica Walter passed away in 2021, her character was written out of the show during season 13, with the egotistical Sterling having to take the reins of the agency and lead the way.

While live-action films generally rake in more money, the action-packed high jinks of a Sterling Archer story would likely be expensive to bring to life in live-action. H. Jon Benjamin, who voices Sterling on the show, said in 2022 that he was interested in participating in a feature film adaptation, citing the success of the recent Bob’s Burgers movie – a series where he also lends his voice to the main character. Benjamin’s voice is synonymous with Archer, so it would be tough to envision the character without him. But as Archer‘s Benjamin himself admits, the voice actor doesn’t quite match up with the animated character’s looks. If an Archer movie does come to fruition, difficult choices will have to be made regarding its casting and the live-action vs. animated format.

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‘Girl’ Review: Luminous Visuals Buoy a Heartsore Portrait of Immigrant Unrest

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It’s five years since Theresa May, then the United Kingdom’s first prime minister of the Brexit era, coined the term “citizen of nowhere” to denigrate residents of the country who identified themselves more globally. Those three words swiftly became a media catchphrase to encapsulate the Conservative government’s apparent hostility toward immigrants; liberal-minded multinationals adopted the […]

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