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‘Bombshell’s’ Charlize Theron and John Lithgow reflect on the film’s indelible impact



In a season accented by portrayals of beloved icons such as Judy Garland and Fred Rogers (brought to life by Oscar nominees Renée Zellweger and Tom Hanks to boot), Bombshell had the unique task of chronicling the downfall of cable news’s most predatory figure at the hands of his polarizing onscreen protégé.

The film’s producer and Oscar-nominated lead actress Charlize Theron—who plays ex–Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly—and Ailes’s alter ego, actor John Lithgow, joined Fortune on Jan. 12 for a live Q&A event in Los Angeles to discuss Kelly’s long-awaited response to their hot-button film, their Oscar-nominated makeup effects, and how Bombshell may portend a permanent shift in how we portray, and work to fight, sexual harassment.

Theron (left, with Liv Hewson) earned a best lead actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell.”
Hilary B. Gayle—SMPSP

On Jan. 9, Megyn Kelly responded to Bombshell via a 30-minute, self-produced YouTube video wherein she discussed the film with her husband, Douglas Brunt, and three former Fox employees who’d been harassed by Roger Ailes. What did you think of the piece?

Charlize Theron: I thought it was very sincere. They are the real women who experienced Bombshell. Whatever your political persuasion, and how you feel about Fox News, there’s something really emotional about seeing them so open about something that’s deeply affected them, and will for the rest of their lives.

Many of the Fox News employees harassed by Ailes haven’t worked in TV since.

Theron: And that’s what’s so heart-wrenching. They were ambitious, good at their jobs, and may never work in broadcast again. This tells us how devastating workplace sexual harassment can be for women, in addition to the emotional scars of the actual abuse. [Former O’Reilly Factor contributor] Juliet Huddy has said she even lost her house—she lost literally everything. Devastating.

John, as the man playing the villain at the heart of this story, how have you felt about the overall reaction to the film? How did it feel, especially as one of Hollywood’s most established good guys, to play Roger Ailes?

John Lithgow: The reaction has been what we hoped, which is the acknowledgement that it’s important this movie was made at all. And it likely wouldn’t have been without Charlize! As for playing Roger, it was important to show different facets of the character. In researching him, we found many people who defended Roger and were loyal and devoted to him.

And likely many of those people
never witnessed nor experienced his abuse.

Lithgow: Right—they never saw that side. He was powerful and charismatic. I had a driver in New York who’d driven and done security for him. He adored Roger, who was so generous that he left something for him in his will! It was important to bring those details into the movie. But overall, it was easy for me to embrace the role of the villain. Every good story needs one, and I’m really good at villains. (Laughs)

Theron: It’s powerful to see the seductive techniques predators use. We think of them as “bad guys,” but a lot of these women, including Megyn, faced a moral dilemma in that they really liked Roger. She was honest about the fact that he did contribute a lot to her career. She trusted him and he invested in her, similar to what we’ve heard about Harvey Weinstein. But at some point, you realize the danger of that seduction; the guy in the powerful position who makes you feel good, that there’s value to the relationship—and then he abuses it.

“There were moments I’d look in the mirror, and I couldn’t see where my skin ended and the prosthetics began,” says Theron (left) of her transformation into former Fox News anchor Kelly (right, in 2018).
Theron: Hilary B. Gayle—SMPSP: Kelly: Nathan Congleton—NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Despite various gripes Megyn and her
interviewees said they had with the film, they lauded Bombshell for its portrayal how of it feels to be harassed.

Charlize, is the nuance of the moral
dilemma you described the reason why these scenes often don’t feel real?

Theron: I think so. For the first time—maybe ever—we’re having honest conversations about what sexual harassment really looks like. For so long it lived in a “black and white” box. Now we’re talking about the nuance and gray areas; that victims often don’t do the “right thing” in the moment, but that doesn’t erase that the abuse took place. Until we fully engage how complicated this is, and that harassment looks, feels, and sounds different for every person, we’ll never rectify it for future generations.

Oscar-nominated makeup and special effects artist Kazu Hiro was the architect of both of your incredible physical transformations. To what degree is he the unsung hero of Bombshell?

Theron: He is. He built all the prosthetics for me, John, Nicole [Kidman], Richard Kind, who played Rudy Giuliani, and others. Close to 30 pieces I think? And he was brought out of retirement to do it.

So no pressure.

Theron: (Laughs) “Exactly. It felt really cool that I pulled him out of retirement. Then I heard [actor] Gary Oldman also pulled him out of retirement for The Darkest Hour. I think he was pulling a Cher thing like, “This is my final tour!” And then it wasn’t not his final tour. (Laughs) But he’s just so good. He’s an artist; a sculptor. There were moments I’d look in the mirror, and I couldn’t see where my skin ended and the prosthetics began. We totally nerded out. I’d walk in and see John shaking his face, saying, “Look, my jowls move when I shake!”

“We found many people who defended Roger and were loyal and devoted to him,” says Lithgow of what he learned in researching to play the late, disgraced Fox News founder and CEO.
Hilary Bronwyn Gayle—Lionsgate

Lithgow: Like a turkey. (Laughs) It was fun because, as actors, we’re so used to being vain. Charlize looked beautiful, though. In watching the Megyn Kelly piece, I was reminded of the miracle job Kazu did. The two of you were indistinguishable.

What do you remember about Kazu’s initial assessment of you?

Theron: He’d spent time with photos of me first. Then when we met, he did an internal nose cast—when putty is placed inside your nostrils—because he wanted to build two little plastic pieces that’d be inserted to widen my nostrils. So we started with that. It was very intimate. (Laughs) “You need to wax in there because the putty gets stuck in your nasal hairs.” I didn’t even know you could wax in there!

It’s L.A.— you can wax everywhere.

Theron: Apparently you can. So that’s how we met—with me getting a nasal-cavity mold.

Lithgow: Talk about a “meet cute.” (Laughs) My other great partner was Colleen Atwood, who was more than just a costume designer for me; she was a body designer. We had long fittings for my fat suit, and I’m happy to say I look very different in the film than I do in real life.

“Every good story needs one, and I’m really good at villains,” says Lithgow (right) about playing Ailes (left, pictured in 2012).
Ailes: Charles Eshelman—FilmMagic; Lithgow: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle—SMPSP

How much did the fat suit weigh?

Lithgow: It was quite light. She gave me the choice of a suit that weighed the same as actual flesh. “Yes, I must do that!” Then I thought better and didn’t do that, thank God. It was very comfortable and I felt very light on my feet. Unzipping and taking it off each day was the best diet ever.

You’re nearly wrapped on what has been an exhaustive promotional tour for this film. What are you most heartened by in how the discourse about harassment and gender equity is evolving?

Lithgow: It’s quite a significant thing for Megyn to have done that video piece. It was supportive of the film. I would hate the experience of sitting in a theater and watching an actor pretend to be me; it’d be impossible to be objective. It was important to see her and those women do such a courageous thing.

Theron: The most touching part of this experience has been realizing all the male allies we have out there. We need you guys! I’ve met many men who haven’t had a harassment experience themselves but say, “That could be my daughter or my mother.” That’s how we’re interconnected on this issue, I think.

There’s also been a growing, broader acknowledgment that predatory behavior exists in all circles and affects women and men.

Theron: Exactly. It happens to all of us.

John, as a male actor who’s worked in Hollywood since the early 1970s, to what degree are you feeling a shift in how women are treated?

Lithgow: In the movie business’s first dozen years in the early 20th century, women were in charge as screenwriters, directors, and scenario writers. People didn’t know the juggernaut Hollywood would become. When it turned into that, it became a totally male-run operation. I think a shift is finally happening again, thank God, after all these years. I definitely feel it. The first woman director I ever worked with, 40 years into my career, was on [Showtime’s] Dexter [a decade ago]—a wonderful Brit named S.J. Clarkson. Since then, I’ve worked with about 10 or 12. That’s an enormous change. Now it’s very noticeable when there’s a gender imbalance in a production. The Bombshell set atmosphere was incredible.

Theron: We had a male writer, Charles Randolph, and director, Jay Roach, but mostly female producers.

Lithgow: And Charlize was always there. She’s a great producer, always watching from the other room.

Theron: I didn’t want to get fired! (Laughs)

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Follow Fortune on Flipboard to stay up-to-date on the latest news and analysis.

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Walgreens Reports $1.7B Quarterly Loss, Cuts 4,000 Jobs Due To Covid-19 Impact



Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA) reported a $1.71 billion quarterly loss and announced 4,000 jobs cuts due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic sending shares down 8%.The stock dropped to $39.01 at the close on Thursday after the drugstore chain operator announced that it will also suspend its share repurchase program and will need to take a non-cash impairment charge of $2 billion mainly as result of the COVID-19 impact on its Boots UK business. As part of a restructuring plan to cut costs, Walgreens said it will close 48 of its Boots opticians stores and lay off 4,000 employees, or 7% of its workforce.Net loss was $1.71 billion, or $1.95 per share, in the three months ended May 31, versus a profit of $1.03 billion, or $1.13 per share, in the year-earlier period. Analysts on average had expected adjusted earnings of $1.19 per share. Revenue rose 0.1% to $34.6 billion.“Prior to the pandemic our financial performance for fiscal 2020 was on track with our expectations. However, this unprecedented global crisis led to a loss in the quarter as stay-at-home orders affected all of our markets,” Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina said. “Shopping patterns are evolving more rapidly than ever as consumers further embrace digital options, spurring us to accelerate our ongoing investments in digital transformation and neighborhood health destinations.”Walgreens total digitally initiated sales rose 22.7% in the third quarter, compared with the same period last year. The drugstore chain recently formed a strategic partnership with Microsoft (MSFT) and Adobe to launch a marketing technology and customer data platform for personalized healthcare and shopping experiences.Earlier this week, Walgreens announced that it will be expanding the size of its care clinics by nearly 700 retail stores over the next few years as part of an overhaul of its business model from being primarily a drug pharmacy to a primary care clinic.With Walgreens’ stock down now 34% year-to-date, analysts are sidelined on the stock. The Hold analyst consensus shows an unanimous 4 Hold ratings. Looking ahead, the $47.75 average price target implies 22% upside potential from current levels. (See Walgreens stock analysis on TipRanks).Morgan Stanley analyst Ricky Goldwasser earlier this month cut the stock’s price target to $45 from $49 and reiterated a Hold rating, saying that investors are weighing whether, or not the challenges the company is exposed to are valued into the shares.Goldwasser remains cautious for now and lowered her full-year per share earnings forecast by 8 cents to $5.48. The analyst expects Walgreens to report EPS of $1.16 in the fourth quarter, which is slightly below consensus estimates.Related News: Costco June Sales Beat Estimates As Shoppers Go Online; Top Analyst Raises PT Lookout Walmart, Amazon Is Coming for Your Grocery Customers, Says Analyst Walmart To Launch Online Subscription Service For $98 Per Year- Report More recent articles from Smarter Analyst: * Moderna Inks Deal With Rovi To Supply Potential Covid-19 Vaccine Outside U.S. * Sony Invests $250M For Minority Stake In Fortnite Maker Epic Games * Amazon: Top Analyst Raises Estimates… Again * GenMark Diagnostics (GNMK) Stock Is a Winner, But How Much Higher Can It Go?

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Why Beijing is trying to tame China’s runaway stock markets



China’s stock markets marked their first decline in eight days on Friday, ending a more than weeklong run that saw some stocks reach multiyear highs and featured record-breaking initial public offerings.

Bullish encouragement from Chinese state media kicked off the mainland’s stock market rally. State media outlets then tempered their tone late this week in an attempt to rein in speculation, telling investors to think about the long term, days after predicting a “healthy” bull market.

China’s securities regulator also issued a note of caution on Wednesday when it warned investors of risks in margin financing, a practice where brokers lend money to investors to buy stocks.

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The regulator listed 258 margin lending groups that it said were illegal and told investors not to use such financing. Margin financing is rising at the fastest rate since 2015, according to Bloomberg data, and illegal margin lending is seen as a primary reason for China’s 2015 stock market crash.

Some analysts said the initial bullishness from state news outlets was to help boost consumer spending and China’s economic recovery from the coronavirus slowdown, the Financial Times reported.

But the frenzy of trading this week raised fears of a repeat of the stock market bubble that formed in late 2014 and burst in June 2015.

State media had also encouraged bullish investors in the run that preceded the 2015 crash, when the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges fell more than 40% in the following months. Altogether, the collapse wiped $5 trillion in market cap off China’s exchanges. Beijing ousted the head of the securities regulatory commission, on whose watch the crash occurred, in February 2016.

Stock markets in China are dominated by millions of individual investors. They account for 70% of stock transactions across China’s exchanges and are known for sometimes contributing to market volatility by trading on rumor and a “get rich quick” mentality. Since June 30, China’s stock market has added more than $1 trillion in value.

The Shanghai Composite rose 16.5% for eight days straight on Thursday. Even with Friday’s dip, it’s still up 17.8% since its June low. (The Nasdaq is up 8.4% for the same time period). Friday’s trading was likely also dampened by the U.S. government’s decision to sanction Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses against the Uyghur ethnic minority group, a move that will ratchet up U.S.-China tensions. China has already said it would retaliate.

The week’s market frenzy led to some remarkable listings. One Chinese tech firm, QuantumCTek, surged 924% on its trading debut in Shanghai on Thursday, setting a record for the largest first-day jump of any Chinese IPO. The Star board, which QuantumCTek debuted on, has no trading limits on the first five days of a company’s IPO.

Hopeful economic recovery data coming out of China also buoyed investor confidence this week. China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose for a fourth straight month in June, according to official data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

Manufacturing PMI, which represents factory activity, is taken as an important indicator of economic performance. The figure plunged 14.3 percentage points in February during nationwide coronavirus shutdowns.

More must-read international coverage from Fortune:

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Pag-IBIG Fund offers promo rates on home loans to boost economy 



Top officials of Pag-IBIG Fund announced on Thursday (July 09) that they are offering promo rates on their home loans of as low as 4.985 percent per annum until the end of the year, in a move to help members acquire homes and help boost the national economy amid the pandemic.

The agency is offering special low rates of 4.985 percent per annum under a 1-year repricing period and 5.375 percent per annum under a 3-year repricing period. These are its lowest-ever rates under its Regular Housing Loan program, and are available to members getting new home loans until the end of 2020 only.

These further reduced the agency’s previous rates, already pegged at a low 5.375 percent per annum for the 1-year repricing and 6.375 percent per annum for the 3-year repricing period. Meanwhile, interest rates for its Affordable Housing Program, available for low and minimum-wage earners, remain at its lowest with a subsidized home loan interest rate of 3 percent per annum.

“By offering these special rates to our members, we are spurring economic activity in the housing industry, which has a ripple effect on the national economy. This is a win-win situation because our members get to take advantage of these home loan rates, while their purchase of their homes will help generate more jobs to help get our economy back on track.  This then, is our contribution to our nation’s journey to recovery, as led by President Duterte,” said Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and Chairman of the 11-member Pag-IBIG Fund Board of Trustees.

With the Pag-IBIG Board’s approval of the promo rates on July 9, Pag-IBIG Fund Chief Executive Officer Acmad Rizaldy P. Moti said that the special rates shall take effect immediately and shall be enjoyed by incoming home loan borrowers until December 29, 2020

“We review our rates regularly and have never repriced it upward under the Duterte administration. Our ever-improving quality of portfolio has allowed us to keep the rates low under our Risk-Based Pricing Model. But this time, we are offering something special. In consideration of the impact of the pandemic on the livelihood of our members, we reduced our home loan rates by as much 100 basis points for the next six months because we want to help members who are thinking of buying a home to take advantage of our lower-than-lowest rates.  Even amid the pandemic, now is the best time to buy a home with a Pag-IBIG Housing Loan” Moti said.

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