“The biggest obstacle for the Leawood, Kan., company, which operates 1,000 cinemas and four of the nation’s top five grossing theaters, is the growing indifference from a new generation that has grown up with Netflix-style home entertainment. Millennials are eschewing the multiplex for movies and videos streamed to smartphones and other devices.”
Dana Stevens: “Both Detroit and Whose Streets? move from a large-scale panoramic view of an urban community in crisis toward a more intimate portrait of a few of the individuals involved. But Whose Streets? is the more effective and emotionally powerful of the two, perhaps because it constructs its world from the ground up, not from the top down. This is another way of framing a fact that’s difficult to talk about (especially for a white critic) but important to note: The filmmaking team behind Whose Streets? is black, and the one behind Detroit is white. The question – a very live one at this moment in history – of whose story is whose to tell is raised in a stark fashion by the release of these two movies in successive weeks at a moment when the civil rights of people of color (including nonwhite immigrants) are as imperiled as they’ve been since the days of those Detroit riots.”
“In a meeting on Tuesday evening at the academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters, the group’s 54-member board of governors, including such Hollywood luminaries as Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg, Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg, elected [cinematographer John] Bailey to succeed outgoing President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who served four consecutive yearlong terms and steered the organization through one of the most transformative and sometimes turbulent periods in its long history.”
“Disney’s latest move points toward a potential future in which every entertainment conglomerate has its own service. Maybe these services will umbrella a number of different properties — like how a Fox streaming bundle could potentially include the network, the studio, FX, and Fox Sports 1 — but consumers might need to start making some hard decisions about which providers they’re really willing to pay for, in a way they never had to in the days of all-inclusive cable packages.”
It is a big deal to hear the CEO of a giant, publicly traded media company say he’s going to fundamentally shift his business model: “Obviously, as you move product from … a licensed-to-third-party model to a self-distributed model, you’re foregoing the licensing revenue that you get for whatever revenues you generate by [selling it yourself].”
“Golden-age classics such as The Twilight Zone and Playhouse 90 … delivered a full-course narrative meal within as little as 30 minutes. It was one of the great TV genres, until it wasn’t.” (Yeah, there was also The Love Boat.) Now, with the likes of Netflix’s Black Mirror and the Duplass brothers’ Room 104 on HBO, “all of a sudden, short-form storytelling has found its way back onto the TV menu – and the reasons why have a lot to do with the ripple effects of Peak TV.”
“Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues. Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as ‘dinghy’ or ‘farming specialist’. And that’s it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz.” Zaria Gorvett susses out some possible purposes of this Russian station – purposes that have their roots in the Cold War.
Hockenberry, who co-created the WNYC-Public Radio International co-production and hosted or co-hosted it since its launch ten years ago, said in a statement, “Ultimately, in every challenging career, there comes a time when it is important to know when to move on.” His final show airs on Friday, Aug. 11.
Last March, when a judge ordered the University of California–Berkeley to make 20,000 videos and podcasts accessible to people with disabilities, the university balked. The videos and audio files contained lectures by Berkeley professors that the university wanted to make available to anyone, as an act of public outreach, but disability rights groups had sued on the grounds that the materials lacked captions, were often incompatible with the screen readers that blind people use to access the Internet, and other related issues. So the judge ordered the university to make the materials accessible. Instead, Berkeley shut the program down, locking the formerly public materials behind a firewall. The university said it was just too expensive to retrofit accessibility into their public program.
Right place, right time: “When he set out to make Icarus, the playwright and actor Bryan Fogel had one goal: to examine how easy it is to get away with doping in professional sport. … What actually happened was a bit like tugging on an errant thread and having the entire clothing industry unravel right on top of you.”
“Google queries about suicide rose by almost 20 percent in 19 days after the show came out, representing between 900,000 and 1.5 million more searches than usual regarding the subject.’ And yes, there is typically a correlation between searches and attempts; also, “searches for precise suicide methods increased after the series’ release.”
It’s another thing to blame on the Internet: “New research from Ofcom [Britain’s equivalent of the FCC] has found that 45% of people now watch a programme or film alone every day while nine in 10 watch alone every week. The media watchdog says that a third of Britons say members of their household sit together in the same room watching different programmes on different devices.”
“In vaudeville you had one show and that was it. You changed it whenever you felt like it,” Benny said, years later. But, in radio, “when you realized that every week you needed a new show, this got a little bit frightening.” In another interview, he recalled, “The first show was a cinch—I used about half of all the gags I knew. The second show consumed all the rest, and I faced the third absolutely dry.”
A couple of weeks ago, HBO announced a series called Confederate, depicting an independent 21st-century Confederacy (the South won) where slavery is still legal. (There’s been a lot of queasiness and worse about this project on social media, not least because the producers, the Game of Throines guys, are white, although the head writers are black.) Meanwhile, Amazon has been developing a series titled Black America, in which ex-slaves were given Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and created the nation of New Colonia, which has been the United States’ neighbor and frenemy for 150 years.
There are condiments videos (a woman pouring tubs of mustard, ketchup, etc. over herself), flyswatting videos (a clothed woman swatting flies), drowning-rescue videos, a Wonder-Woman-attacked-by-a-gremlin video .. and then there’s the client referred to as Stamps Man. As Ronson tells a pair of custom producers, “You’re really on the coalface of the quirks of human sexuality.”
“At USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab (SAIL), Shrikanth Narayanan, the Niki and C.L. Max Nikias Chair in Engineering, and a team of researchers used automated software to analyze the sophistication of language and character interaction in nearly 1,000 scripts, poring over 53,000 dialogues between 7,000 characters. What they found was a whole lot of men — 4,900 male characters to 2,000 female characters — doing a whole lot of talking — men participated in 37,000, the women got only 15,000.”
“In March of 1983, a listener would have clicked on the radio hoping to hear an update about Reagan’s plans for what the media was calling ‘Star Wars.’ Instead she would have heard the whoosh of tires, the voice of a hospital intern in North Carolina trying to figure out how to care about all his patients, the sound of a man taking swigs of whiskey as he drives to Florida to see his mom one last time before she dies, and the voice of Scott Carrier describing the light bounce of the red rocks of Arizona.”
Netflix has accumulated a hefty $20.54 billion in long- and short-term debt in its effort to produce more original content. The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company hopes more new shows will capture more subscribers, its primary revenue driver. It’s also under pressure to keep spending on new shows as streaming rivals such as Amazon and Hulu expand their own slates of original programming.
“If the reality is that somewhere between 50% and 75% of all households in America have one or fewer choices for high-speed broadband–defined as 25 megabits per second–and 95% of all households in America have one or fewer choices for 100-mbps service, there is no competition. And when there is no competition, who makes the rules? The rules are made by the monopolists. So the job of the FCC should be to stand up and protect consumers and promote competition and innovation in a non-competitive market.”