“Unlike traditional gaming, Second Life is governed by few rules. Residents can customize their avatars in an infinite number of ways. They can fly and teleport as easily as they can walk, run, and jump. They can build bespoke homes and islands almost from scratch, … marry a Second Life lover, take a rocket to the moon, or simply tuck themselves into bed at night. For many disabled residents, who may spend 12 hours a day or more in Second Life, the most important moments and relationships of their lives happen inside the virtual world.”
“The world’s most improbable video game plunges you into a virtual Walden Woods, where you can ‘live deliberately,’ as Thoreau famously put it, replacing drudgery in the pursuit of material comfort with a quest for spiritual fulfillment in harmony with nature. ‘It’s an attempt to make a game that has a kind of stillness at its core,’ says its lead developer, Tracy Fullerton.” But is that what players use it for?
The board is considering a move to require 19 WLRN reporters and editors, now employed by an independent nonprofit, to reapply for their jobs; only this time, those jobs would be under the direct control and supervision of the school district itself.
“When the Academy expanded the best picture category to more than five nominees for the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010, it also made a fascinating tweak to how the votes are counted. It used to be a first-past-the-post system, where all you needed was more votes than everyone else to win. This meant that movies used to be able to win without majority appeal, as all you needed to do was persuade a dedicated minority to pick your movie. But now, instead of picking their choice for best picture, voters rank them. Then they’re counted with instant runoff voting,1 and the impact this has is it’ll award films with broad majority appeal over ones that have strong plurality appeal.”
ABC’s entertainment president Channing Dungey has already contended that her network’s programming may very well be out of touch. “With our dramas, we have a lot of shows that feature very well-to-do, well-educated people, who are driving very nice cars and living in extremely nice places,” she told attendees at the 2016 Content London conference “But in recent history we haven’t paid enough attention to some of the true realities of what life is like for everyday Americans in our dramas.”
“As a business, entertainment has in some ways become less democratic, not more. Technology is making the rich richer, skewing people’s consumption of entertainment towards the biggest hits and the most powerful platforms. This world is dominated by an oligarchy of giants, including Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix and Disney (as well as Alibaba and Tencent within China’s walled ecosystem). Those lacking sufficient scale barely get noticed. Paradoxically, enabling every individual and product on the planet to find a market has made it next to impossible for the market to find them. Consumers generally favour whatever they find on their mobile screens or at the top of their search results. The tail is indeed long, but it is very skinny.”
At the last of the big awards ceremonies before the Oscars on Sunday, “Moonlight won for best screenplay, and Arrival for best adapted screenplay; it was based on the Ted Chiang novella Story of Your Life.”
“Throughout the spring of 2016, Academy librarians worked overtime scrutinizing older members’ credits, as the board of governors fielded frantic calls from members asking if they were marked for demotion. When the board held its elections last summer, a handful of candidates ran on an anti-reform platform, among them the composer William Goldstein, who railed against the Academy’s response to “false accusations of implied racism.” They all lost, and Boone Isaacs was reëlected—indicating that her critics were louder than they were numerous.”
“Filmed entirely in China, the film is a $150-million (U.S.) attempt to prove that with enough money and talent, some of the brightest entertainment minds on both sides of the Pacific can assemble a film that audiences in both China and the West want to watch. It is also perhaps the most visible flagpost in a sweeping attempt to build China into an even greater entertainment power, one with the technical capacity and storytelling savvy to win over audiences far and wide.”
In a banner year for movies with black actors in the lead, Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monáe both created breakthrough performances in “Moonlight.” They cemented their year with their work in “Hidden Figures.” For Ali, the recognition comes after decades of a steady acting career; for Monáe, a successful musician, “Moonlight” was her first time onscreen.
No, IMDb, the conversation has not all moved to social media – even a social media administrator could tell you that: “There is a definite sense of community on the boards. You won’t be able to use the site in the same way.” But the site’s admins might (with reason) think that racist trolling has gone way too far. So as of today, Feb. 20, all of the content will disappear.
It’s possible that the “Trump Bump” that’s been helping the New York Times, Teen Vogue, ProPublica and other print/online publications is also driving more money toward the producers of the Oscars. The current president “‘has been very good for television,’ said Ashwin Navin, chief executive of Samba TV, a data and analytics firm. ‘The politically charged environment has been good for television, including these award shows.'”
Civil Rights leader Vernon E. Jordan Jr.: “Division has always been a product of assumption — assuming that our story is the only story, or that our lives are harder than someone else’s, or that people who don’t look like us don’t have the right to live and work for the American dream. But no matter how divisive life in this country may become, the movie theater has always been a place where we can rediscover what unites us.”
There’s a South Pacific island Romeo & Juliet-ish film from Australia, a Hitchcockian thriller from Iran, a post-WWII POW story from Denmark, the force that is A Man Called Ove from Sweden, and of course, the very tipped winner, Toni Erdmann – which is set to be remade in the U.S. with Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig (yes, really). Which will win? Which should win?
Of course, it came into being because of war – WWI, to be precise, and because “Britain was at the time trying to bring China into the war on the Allied side.”
USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism just released a study that found that “only two main characters over 60 appeared in the 25 films nominated for Oscars over the past three years. And things are even grimmer if you’re not Michael Keaton, as he played them both.”
“Screeners are usually identifiable by an intermittent on-screen message reminding viewers the film is not to be copied or shared, and they also usually contain watermarks as a security measure against piracy. But every year they do get leaked online, and 2017 has been no exception, despite earlier reports that fewer leaks were happening this time around.”
Three weeks ago, a Kickstarter campaign started for crowdfunding a game version of the Francis Ford Coppola Vietnam epic, blessed by Coppola himself. But the project started about eight years ago at a video game studio called Killspace, which one former employee told reporter Adi Robertson was “the worst-run company you could possibly imagine.”
“Animated films have editors just like live-action films. But how do you edit an animated film? In live action, you shoot first and edit later. In animation, you edit first and shoot later.” Andrew Saladino explains in a video essay.
“While Spotify, Netflix and the Kindle fulfil part of that prediction, these and other digital services didn’t run the analogue, tangible objects out of town. On the contrary, the digital age has created a new market for the things we thought we’d consigned to sheds, attics and secondhand markets.”
The producers of the Uzbek film Daydi (“Rogue”) put Freeman top and center in the poster, but the movie doesn’t feature him (or even, evidently, anyone who looks like him). So Uzbekistan’s film board denied a license to show it.
“Just as the Fourth Geneva Convention has long protected civilians in times of war, we now need a Digital Geneva Convention that will commit governments to protecting civilians from nation-state attacks in times of peace. And just as the Fourth Geneva Convention recognized that the protection of civilians required the active involvement of the Red Cross, protection against nation-state cyberattacks requires the active assistance of technology companies.”
Using Toni Erdmann, Cristian Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, the orignal British version of The Office, and a new Canadian comedy (yeah) from VICE Media as examples, John Semley argues that not quite getting the joke is half the fun.
“With the sequel – finally – upon us, the director [Danny Boyle] and star [Ewan MacGregor] plus author Irvine Welsh, producer Andrew Macdonald and more look back on the 1996 Cool Britannia flagbearer and how it all happened.”
A lot of actors start production companies in which they’re not all that involved in the actual producing. Not Kidman with Big Little Lies: she got the rights to the book, got Reese Witherspoon on board, and the two of them lined up a director, a screenwriter, a big-name cast, and the studio themselves. Sarah Lyall gets the story.
“The issue of what, exactly, makes a film or TV show genuinely Canadian is suddenly gripping the industry, after a series of government moves to shake up long-standing regulations. Creators are worried the moves, which would allow even more American talent into our movies and shows in the name of making the content more likely to sell internationally, will water down the distinct Canadian perspective just when it is finally starting to gain real traction around the world.”
“Without that truth-seeking ecosystem of healthy small- and mid-size daily newspapers to explain national news in terms local readers can understand, Americans are left stewing in separate echo chambers, one urban, educated, and liberal, the other working-class, rural, and spoiling for a fight. Not only do the inhabitants of these echo chambers not talk to each other; they barely speak the same language.”
The film about Hollywood – perhaps unsurprisingly – looks like it will cruise to an Oscar Best Movie win. Then there’s Viola Davis, “probably the single most purely charismatic performer of all the nominated talent on show at the Baftas, and it is excellent that she has won best supporting actress for her supremely intelligent and sympathetic portrayal of the long-suffering Rose Maxson in the sonorous drama Fences. There aren’t many actors who can stand up to Denzel Washington in full flood and match him in acting power line for line, speech for speech, but that is what Viola Davis does. It is masterclass stuff.”
Not only did this weekend top ratings for the comedy sketch show, which starred Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer and Alec Baldwin as the president, but the season overall is doing really well. “Viewership of the show for the season to date is up 22% in total viewers (10.6 million) and 19% in adults 18-49 (3.5) compared to the same period last season. That makes it the most-watched ‘SNL’ season in 22 years, since the 1994-95 frame.”
The real question is whether the NYT can make itself “indispensable” to the lives of its subscribers. “The main goal isn’t simply to maximize revenue from advertising—the strategy that keeps the lights on and the content free at upstarts like the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and Vox. It’s to transform the Times’ digital subscriptions into the main engine of a billion-dollar business, one that could pay to put reporters on the ground in 174 countries even if (OK, when) the printing presses stop forever.