Media

Spielberg’s Dreamworks Splits From Disney

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“A new deal could mean a fresh start for DreamWorks, which has faced struggles from the inception of the Disney relationship. Sources say the DreamWorks team felt something of a strain from the start because its deal was negotiated with Dick Cook, then chairman of the studio, with the understanding that Disney would invest in DreamWorks’ films and invite DreamWorks to participate in some of its projects. But soon after the deal was made, Cook was ousted and Disney CEO Bob Iger set a strategy of fully financing Disney movies.”

Why Dreamworks Is Leaving Disney

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“Although several studios are discussing the possibility of bringing DreamWorks into the fold, insiders say that Universal has the best shot at becoming DreamWorks’ new distribution partner when the previous deal runs its course next August.”

The Sharpest Comedy On Television Aired On HBO This Summer, And You Probably Never Knew It Was There

sharpest comedy on TV

Francine Prose: “Offhandedly mocking our inadequate, improvisatory foreign policy in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, The Brink is so funny, so inventive – and so fearless in what it has to say about geopolitics – that watching it would be pure pleasure were the events it depicts not so uncomfortably close to the perilous reality of the world in which we live.”

Italo Calvino Remembers His Youthful Obsession With Hollywood Movies

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“Italian spectators barbarously made entering after the film already started a widespread habit, and it still applies today. We can say that back then we already anticipated the most sophisticated of modern narrative techniques, interrupting the temporal thread of the story and transforming it into a puzzle to put back together piece by piece or to accept in the form of a fragmentary body.”

Six Questions About The Future Of Television

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With ever more material out there, how do viewers find what’s good? How do you get people to keep paying for what they watch instead of getting it from torrent sites and/or blocking ads? And what will and won’t constitute success?

Five Television Shows They’ll Never Stop Making

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“What about the things that come back year after year, with slight variations, sometimes to great acclaim and sometimes to quick cancellation? Let’s take a tour of some of the conceptual habits that seem hardest to break” – such as item one, “The Adventures Of Mr. Superabilities And Detective Ladyskeptic.”

Netflix Film Premieres At Venice Film Festival

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“When it is commercially released in October, Beasts of No Nation will be immediately available to see not only in selected cinemas but also to subscribers to the Netflix home entertainment service – which now boasts more than 50 million international subscribers.”

Apparently, European Cinema Is About To Be Destroyed

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First, there’s Netflix (and HBO, Amazon, iTunes, etc.); and now “this sense of threat has been made more urgent by the proposals tabled by the European Union’s executive branch, the European Commission, to sweep away territorial copyright barriers in the movie and TV business in order to create a single European market.”

Is British TV Dying?

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“On the face of it seems to be in rude health. America has been buying up British production companies, British TV formats continue to spread around the world and the global market for quality drama is growing. However, there is also anxiety about the Government’s attitude towards the BBC and the questions it is asking about reducing its size and scope.”

The Cat Video And The Essence Of Art

Cat Video And The Essence Of Art

“Cats have purposiveness without a knowable purpose (Immanuel Kant’s much-cited criterion for true art). Cats are mysteries; their agendas, beyond food and sleep and sunlight, may constitute a kind of knowledge endlessly deferred. (They are born aesthetes, but also born deconstructionists.)”

Why The BBC Needs To Be Saved

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“When the media, communications and information industries make up nearly 8% our GDP, larger than the car and oil and gas industries put together, we need to be heard, as those industries are heard. But when I see the panel of experts who’ve been asked by the culture secretary to take a root and branch look at the BBC, I don’t see anyone who is a part of that cast and crew list. I see executives, media owners, industry gurus, all talented people – but not a single person who’s made a classic and enduring television show.”

Is A Career Making Independent Feature Films Even Possible Anymore, Even For Well-Known Directors?

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“It’s not just that the likes of Spike Lee and Hal Hartley have had to go to Kickstarter to fund their projects: Frederick Wiseman and Abel Ferrara have seen their recent crowdfunding campaigns fail. “Having lived and worked in an era with fewer players and a lot more money, many of these artists are now faced with shrinking budgets and crowded release windows … If they want to continue making features, it seems they’ll have to get used to it. Which begs the question, is it still worth it?”

Why Cinema Came of Age In 1915

Why Cinema Came of Age In 1915

“In the first of a new series on early cinema, we celebrate the landmark year … when the industry as we know it was born. Plus, five films from 1915 to watch (which aren’t Birth of a Nation).” (includes video clips, of course)

Netflix Goes Off-Device And Into The Venice Film Festival

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“Netflix’s move into the film — and film festival — business has proved controversial. At Cannes in May, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos was lambasted by French reporters. One accused him and his company of destroying Europe’s ‘film ecosystem’ by drawing audiences away from theaters.”

Television Isn’t Actually That Diverse Right Now

Morris Chestnut and Jaina Lee Ortiz in Fox's Rosewood, coming this fall.

“Diversity isn’t one thing; it’s a lot of things. It’s in front of the camera and behind it, in writers’ rooms and executive offices. It’s not exclusively about race and gender and sexuality, but about other things as well. It’s about the bland and unremarked-upon affluence of almost all television families, and the fact that TV doesn’t incorporate very many people who go to church, and all the other ways that it historically looks at the population through a keyhole. And it’s about what stories you tell.”

There’s Just So Much TV To Watch (Is It OK To Skip Some?)

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“Binge-watching isn’t just the new sex — it’s the new workout, the new book club, the new cocktail hour. Where once most new shows premiered in the fall, now they drop all the time, some in complete seasons. Announcements of new programming from clever upstarts Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Acorn feel like pop-culture air-raid sirens: ‘Citizens, seek shelter: ‘The Man in the High Castle’ is descending.’ Of course, we want to see it, but, oh, my God, who has the time?”

Gaming While Gay

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“The characters matter. As we become the story’s protagonist, the companions represent the other players. In a way, they bring a sense of humanity into the plot. Their personalities may attract or repel us, their motivations may or may not align with our own. They become our point of reference, our guides, our rivals or friends. They give us decisions to make and show us the consequences. Sometimes, through them we see our community. Sometimes, they are extensions of ourselves.”

The New TV Golden Age Is Letting Stars Break Out Of Their Typecasting Boxes

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“Midcareer actors took note of Bryan Cranston’s transition from the goofy sitcom dad on Malcolm in the Middle to the megalomaniac drug lord in Breaking Bad (and the four Emmys it earned him).” Now, for instance, Katie “Dawson’s Creek” Holmes is playing a scheming sports agent, controversial comic Sarah Silverman a sad and struggling 1950s lesbian, Patrick “Capt. Picard” Stewart a skirt-chasing, coke-snorting TV pundit.

How The Buckley-Vidal Debate Changed The Media (And Maybe Paved The Way For Fox News)

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“Where a debate between two urbane intellectuals ought to have ushered in a golden age of elevated, rational discussion, it instead – due to the personal enmity to which the combatants gave voice – sparked the worst aspects of modern media, a debased version of political talk, the gladiatorial mudslinging that prevails in broadcasting today.”

Sesame Street And A Business Model That No Longer Works

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“Sesame’s migration to cable begs to be understood as a failure in public funding, and it is in part. In a kinder society, PBS would have more funding, and it could rush in to support a struggling flagship. But what changed Sesame Workshop’s financial situation wasn’t a PBS funding cut but the media environment itself. The same economics that have hurt musicians—the transition from physical ownership to digital ownership to streaming—are what threatened Sesame Workshop’s budget and sent it running to HBO. In a world with less media ownership, even widely beloved, publicly funded media need a premium patron.”