By: Gina McIntyre
“Ant-Man” has a new release date.
The Marvel film, starring Michael Douglas as Hank Pym and Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, now will open July 17, 2015. That’s two weeks earlier than its planned July 31 release date; it moves into the date that had been reserved as the opening of Zack Snyder’s untitled “Man of Steel” sequel featuring Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman.
Marvel announced the change on its website Thursday.
Last week, in a surprise move, Warners pushed back its “Superman/Batman” project, which also will feature an appearance from Wonder Woman as played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, shifting the blockbuster to May 6, 2016. A release issued by the studio said the move was designed to allow “the filmmakers time to realize fully their vision, given the complex visual nature of the story.”
The “Man of Steel” sequel goes into production later this year, and is set to film in Michigan. Theproject was originally announced last year at San Diego’s Comic-Con International.
“Ant-Man” is poised to become a new franchise for Marvel, with Douglas set to play the original Avengers member, a scientist who, in the comics, invents a shrinking serum that allows him to sneak around in miniature form and surprise foes. Rudd’s character, meanwhile, is a reformed thief and the second superhero to take the name Ant-Man.
It’s unclear whether either incarnation of the diminutive hero will appear in writer-director Joss Whedon’s upcoming “Avengers” sequel, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which also is set for release in 2015. In the comics, Pym is the creator of Ultron, an automaton that becomes a supervillain.
Wright embarks on “Ant-Man” after the success of last summer’s “The World’s End,” his third film collaboration with actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The trio’s Cornetto Trilogy — “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz” and “World’s End” — established Wright as an especially beloved figure among the fan community, his films fusing humor and heart within genre trappings.
Wright’s been attached to the project for some time — he debuted “Ant-Man” test footage that showcased the helmeted hero growing and shrinking in size at Comic-Con in 2012.
What upcoming superhero film are you most excited to see? Let us know in the comments section.
By: Mark Trumbull
Testing was inadequate before the debut of Healthcare.gov, contractors who helped to build the Obamacare website told a House panel Thursday. And when will it be fixed? No 'exact date,' said one.
Contractors who helped to build the troubled sign-up website for Obamacare said Thursday that an insufficient testing process contributed to an error-prone rollout.
They put blame on the Obama administration – specifically the health agency that had the key role of “systems integrator” for the Healthcare.gov website – for the last-minute nature of the testing.
At the same time, the contractors expressed optimism that the website could be made to work adequately without a wholesale software rewrite.
“As painful as it sounds, ... the system is working,” Cheryl Campbell of the firm CGI Federal said at the hearing. “People will be able to enroll at a faster pace,” she asserted, with time to enroll and have coverage start by Jan. 1, 2014, if they want.
When asked if she could give a date when the site would be fixed, however, Ms. Campbell did not give a direct estimate. “I cannot give you an exact date,” she testified, saying that doing so could “raise expectations.”
The hearing marks the first time members of Congress have held a public inquiry into the technical problems that have dogged the rollout of health insurance “exchanges” under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." Although some states are managing their own exchanges for residents to shop for insurance, 36 states are relying on the HealthCare.gov website as their gateway.
Four panelists from different companies generally refrained from overt criticism of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which took the lead role in creating the website. But when prompted in questioning, they said that “end-to-end” testing of the system began unusually late for such a large and complex project.
Campbell and Andrew Slavitt of Optum/QSSI said integrated testing was conducted in just the final couple of weeks before the website’s launch date of Oct. 1 – the date set for the public to begin Obamacare enrollment.
Under the law, Americans must have insurance in place by March 31 next year or owe a tax penalty.
“Months would be nice” for the testing process, Mr. Slavitt told the lawmakers.
“It would have been better to have more time,” Campbell said. She said that when new software was needed in 2006 to open up access for prescription-drug coverage within Medicare, the testing period was months long. And even with that, the rollout for that Medicare expansion wasn’t smooth.
Several lawmakers described trying and failing in their own efforts to register on the website.
Slavitt said he, too, had encountered a system failure. He signed up but never got a confirmation e-mail.
“I was kicked out four times” and sometimes got blank screens, says Rep. Steve Scalise (R) of Louisiana. “Clearly [proper testing] didn't happen in this case.”
The contractors deflected questions about whether they thought politics had played a role in how CMS managed the software project – including a last-minute switch that shut off a “window shopping” feature that would allow people to browse plans without creating a personal account on the website.
"I was not given a reason" for the change, Campbell said.
According to some news reports, that decision stemmed from concern that Americans would have sticker shock on prices without learning that they might be eligible for subsidies.
A spokeswoman for CMS, in a separate briefing for reporters, expressed confidence that the website's performance is improving day by day, and that Americans will be able to get enrolled by mid-December, in order to have coverage start on Jan. 1.
While the contractors didn’t levy harsh criticism of CMS, which is employing them for lucrative contracts, neither did they place much blame on their companies.
“I haven't heard one of you apologize,” said Rep. David McKinley (R) of West Virginia.
“We absolutely take accountability for those first days when our tool was [not working properly],” Slavitt said at one point in the hearing.
By Lauren Hockenson, Giga Om
Facebook on Thursday announced the final phase of removing an old privacy feature from the social media platform. The feature, which allows users to be hidden from search, will finally be taken away for users who have it enabled.
The feature, called "Who can look up your Timeline by name?" was removed from Privacy settings last year (noted in a December blog post) for those who didn't have it enabled. When enabled, the setting removes the ability for users to access a Timeline profile via search, even when a user puts in the exact name of the person he or she is locating. Now, users that still have that feature enabled will begin to see removal notices from Facebook, indicating that they will be present and visible in Graph Search along with the rest of the Facebook user base.
Facebook says in the blog post that the feature is a vestigial precaution that reaches back before the platform had a sophisticated search algorithm. When Facebook search acted as a mere directory, removing oneself from search made it more difficult for strangers to access a given profile. But now, as Open Graph opens up to search more settings and there is greater visibility of Timelines for friends of friends, the importance of finding a person through search has diminished while controlling the content on any given Timeline has become more important. Facebook says that the feature also caused hiccups in the user experience:
"People told us that they found it confusing when they tried looking for someone who they knew personally and couldn't find them in search results, or when two people were in a Facebook Group and then couldn't find each other through search."Of course, the sunsetting of this feature for those who care about it the most only stresses the importance of checking and updating Facebook privacy settings often. Now, it's more important to consider the content of the Timeline itself: a "private Timeline" is only such when content is marked explicitly "Friends Only." As Facebook continues to make search easier, it's important to keep in mind how these changes impact social media privacy at large.
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