Spacey does not enter plea on sex assault charge in Nantucket

A judge denied Kevin Spacey’s bid to avoid appearing in person Monday at the Nantucket District Court. (AFP)
Updated 07 January 2019

Spacey does not enter plea on sex assault charge in Nantucket

  • Spacey did not speak during the brief pre-trial hearing
  • If convicted, Spacey faces up to five years in prison

NANTUCKET, Massachusetts: Former “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey appeared in a Massachusetts court on Monday to face a criminal charge that he sexually assaulted an 18-year-old man after plying him with alcohol at a bar in Nantucket more than two years ago.
The Oscar-winning actor did not enter a plea in Nantucket District Court after being charged last month with one count of felony indecent assault and battery. Spacey has said in court papers that he plans to plead not guilty.
Dressed in a gray suit and tie, Spacey did not speak during the brief pre-trial hearing. A judge ordered him not to contact his alleged victim, whom Reuters is not identifying as a victim of sex assault.
Nantucket, a beach resort island off the Massachusetts coast that is normally quiet in early January, was packed with broadcast trucks on Monday.
The 59-year-old actor is one of dozens of men in entertainment, business and politics who have been accused of sexual misconduct since accusations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017 sparked the #MeToo movement.
Spacey became embroiled in controversy in October 2017 when actor Anthony Rapp accused him of trying to seduce him in 1986 when Rapp was 14.
Spacey apologized for inappropriate conduct with Rapp. The controversy led to Spacey, who won an Academy Award in 2000 for his role in “American Beauty,” being dropped from the Netflix television series “House of Cards” and erased from the film “All the Money in the World.”
The Nantucket allegations were first raised in November 2017 by former Boston television journalist Heather Unruh, who told reporters Spacey groped her teenage son on July 7, 2016, at the Club Car restaurant and bar, where he worked as a bus boy.
Unruh’s son told police Spacey had bought him several rounds of beer and whiskey and said at one point, “Let’s get drunk,” according to charging documents.
As they stood next to a piano, Spacey groped Unruh’s son, the bus boy told investigators. The teen told police that he sent his girlfriend a video of the incident.
If convicted, Spacey faces up to five years in prison.
An attorney for the victim said he hoped to encourage other victims of sex assault to come forward.
“My client is a determined and encouraging voice for those victims not yet ready to report being sexually assaulted,” attorney Mitchell Garabedian said in an email. “My client is leading by example.” 


Malaysia welcomes its first halal TV streaming service

Updated 22 September 2020

Malaysia welcomes its first halal TV streaming service

  • Service attracts more than 10,000 subscribers since July

KUALA LUMPUR: Netflix could soon have competition from a homegrown entertainment platform in Malaysia which, its makers say, will cater to Muslims’ “halal TV” needs based on Islamic values.

Dubbed “Nurflix,” the platform is Malaysia’s first Shariah-compliant streaming service and has attracted more than 10,000 subscribers since July.

Nurflix is the creation of Syah Rizal Mohamed, who wants to produce and release original content for the platform before its official launch in January.

“We spent $9.7 million for the startup, but the company will produce 1,000 (items of) original content in multiple categories like mainstream, educational, spiritual and motivational and kids, with about 12,000 episodes in the first five years of operating,” the 43-year-old CEO told Arab News.

He also plans for Nurflix to acquire content from local and international producers, as long as they align with the service’s production guidelines, with a focus on markets in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore before setting up internationally.

“We see ourselves covering the Southeast Asian region in the next five years with our readiness to establish hubs in the Middle East and Europe to gain traction in the international market.”

He said the decision to tap into the streaming service market was driven by the rapid growth of video-on-demand media and consumers choosing this, as well as over-the-top subscription services, as their main form of entertainment. 

Consumers agreed that there was a market for a halal content platform.

“The Islamic streaming service just enriches the Islamic entertainment ecosystem because there is a niche for it,” 25-year-old public relations executive Puteri N. Balqis told Arab News.

Media consultant Amir Hadi Azmi said a Shariah-compliant streaming service was an interesting niche, particularly for more conservative users, but that the concept was not unique to Islam or Muslims.

“In America, for example, there is a service called Pure Flix which caters to more conservative Christian viewers,” he told Arab News.

Amir Muhammad, managing director of Kuman Pictures, said that as a producer, the more outlets that were made available to content producers and filmmakers, the better. Kuman Pictures, which is known for releasing horror and thriller content, could create appropriate content if need be.

“I have not seen their actual guidelines, but if they want halal horror, we will give them halal horror,” he told Arab News.

The Nurflix CEO said there would be a Content Advisory Council and that it would be headed and supervised by Habib Ali Zaenal Abidin Al Hamid and the Honorable Ustaz Raja Ahmad Mukhlis.

“Productions, including third-party content providers, will be monitored by the council to ensure the end product abides by the set guidelines. Nurflix is unique in the market because it is not just offering Islamic-guided content. The production will be monitored by the council to ensure all aspects of work are conducted in a Shariah-compliant manner.”

Although there is no formal collaboration with the Islamic Affairs Department, he said that Nurflix’s ideas and concepts had already been shared with Islamic Affairs Minister Dr. Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.

When contacted by Arab News, the director-general of Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development Paimuzi Yahya said his department was still working on “collaborating with the streaming service” and declined to comment further.