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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    This week YouTube cover song wizards Postmodern Jukebox transform british darling Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One” into a “vintage New Orleans” tune with the help of American Idol alum Casey Abrams. To make matters even more impressive, Abrams pulls double-duty, singing while playing the upright bass.

    This isn’t Postmodern Jukebox’s first cover of a Sam Smith tune. The band also gave “Stay With Me” the Old Hollywood treatment in September. This turn at Smith also gives Postmodern Jukebox more mainstream attention, with the video premiering on Billboard, accompanied by an interview with PMJ mastermind Scott Bradlee, who discussed the magic PMJ formula.

    It's really looking for contrasts,” he told Billboard. “That’s really what I want—when we're at our best, we take a song that is envisioned one way, but then by changing the genre and instrumentation and everything and the arrangement, we reimagine it into something else.”

    Postmodern Jukebox will release a holiday album next month, as well as embark on an international tour in the new year.

    H/T Billboard | Screengrab via Postmodern Jukebox/YouTube


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    The Harry Potter Alliance is using the release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 to bring attention to a very relevant issue—income inequality.

    The Hunger Games books and movies are all about the dangers of a widening class divide, building up to an all-out revolution. Using the hashtag #MyHungerGames, the Harry Potter Alliance is encouraging people to share their own stories about how in the real world, just as in the world of the Hunger Games, the odds are not always in our favor.

    “We want to hear your stories,” the HPA posted on its Tumblr account. “The daily realities, the struggles, and the triumphs big and small. The ways race, gender, sexual orientation, bodily status, familial origin, and more intersect and inform how you’re treated. Economic inequality manifests itself in our daily lives and yet even alluding to it is frowned upon.

    It’s not hard to make a connection between the popularity of the Hunger Games franchise, and the social inequality and rising debts experienced by its target audience. The heroine is a teenager who is constantly exploited by adults on all sides, and who is viewed simultaneously as entertainment and as free labor. Most millennials may not be as proficient with a bow and arrow, but Katniss Everdeen is still incredibly relatable on an allegorical level.

    #MyHungerGames can tell us a lot about how people engage with the Hunger Games franchise, even if they’re not fans. Rather than being another young adult story about a supernatural quest or romance, it’s explicitly political—albeit marketed with a combination ofslick propaganda films and bizarrely inappropriate product tie-ins like Hunger Games makeup and Subway sandwiches.

    The HPA now has a nine-year history of charity work and engagement with social justice causes, bringing fans together to fight for issues like LGBT rights and immigration reform. It’s not enormously well-known outside of Harry Potter fandom, but the spread of #MyHungerGames is proof that it’s reaching beyond its original scope.

    While Lionsgate Films uses similar social media tactics to get people to buy more movie tickets, the HPA has started Odds In Our Favor. This site includes resources to help stay informed about tackling income inequality, as well as how to spread awareness of the issue. It’s also looking to recruit an “elite team of activists ready to help hack the Hunger Games narrative.”

    “No prior revolutionary experience necessary,” apparently.

    Screengrab via The Hunger Games/YouTube


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    Ever wonder just how hot you get when making out? BuzzFeed got to play around with the Flir Thermal Camera, which films infrared signatures, to document the different temperatures of everyday activities.

    The camera has created some interesting video content before. A YouTuber showed how a thief armed with the camera could trace your ATM pin code by heat signatures left by your fingers. The technology has also been used to show just how hot a racecar’s tires get during a run. BuzzFeed’s video errs more on the fun, racecar side, showing all sorts of different heat signatures for a variety of actions.

    The video documents how hot your lap gets from your laptop, what happens to your hair as you flat iron it, and It even goes into NSFW territory with what the male anatomy looks like during arousal. While these temperature changes are all common sense, it’s still fun to see just how hot you’re getting during different activities, from G to NC-17.

    Screengrab via BuzzFeed Blue/YouTube


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    In 2008, rapper Wale released The Mixtape About Nothing: an ode to his favorite television show Seinfeld and its protagonist Jerry Seinfeld. Flattered by the recording, Seinfeld arranged a meeting between the two stars later that ended up sparking a friendship. This week they reunited for the cover feature in Complex magazine’s December issue. This may be the best interview Complex has ever done.

    What may seem like an odd friendship on the surface actually isn’t that weird when inspected. The two are both exceptionally thoughtful and introspective entertainers and both are not-so-secret sneakerheads—just check out the Air Jordan 6s that Seinfeld’s rocking on the magazine cover. They’re also working on an album together titled, unsurprisingly, The Album About Nothing. On it Seinfeld will serve as a narrator, providing insight and context to most of the songs. His role on the album closely resembles his real relationship with Wale. Through their talks Seinfeld helps the rapper consider new and humorous ways to view the questions raised by everyday life.

    One such question, that is addressed in the interview, is how to deal with the burden of celebrity. “I don’t understand the world’s fascination with celebrity,” Wale wonders out loud. “There’s a fame need,” Seinfeld replies. “We need people to look at or talk about to just fill the time. They say life is too short. It’s way too long! And we’re filling it in with a lot of fake stuff."

    Seinfeld also counsels Wale on how to deal with haters. “It has no substance for me,” he explains. “It’s like when somebody has a cigarette and they blow the smoke in your face. It’s going to be gone in two seconds. I don’t care."

    Finally, the two discuss strip club cuisine and the sorcery of exotic dancers—topics almost everyone can relate to. “Well, I started young. I got exposed to strippers at a young age, so I can fight their sorcery,” Wale laughs. “All strip clubs in the South have chicken, macaroni and cheese, and fried fish.” Seinfeld replies, “I understand chicken and naked women. I’d actually rather just have the chicken. I can’t eat chicken and look at strippers at the same time.”

    In the interview Seinfeld and Wale play off each other to create a banter every bit as funny as it is revealing. It’s enough to make you wish the two had a regular video series where they just talked about, well, nothing. If the chemistry between the two translates to the recording studio this will undoubtedly be Wale’s best album yet.

    Screengrab via Complex/YouTube


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    Season 5 of Game of Thrones isn’t due until April 2015, but in the meantime, fans are keeping themselves busy analyzing (or perhaps overanalyzing) every detail or leaked photograph they can find.

    Actress Natalie Dormer—better known to A Song of Ice and Fire fans as Margaery Tyrell—appeared on Conan last night to provide some tantalizing tidbits on the upcoming season of the show. Conan O'Brien and Dormer discussed what may lie in store for her character, the mysteries that await now that the show has overtaken the books, and—because it is Game of Thrones—how she hopes she'll inevitably be killed off.

    Dormer also did an AMA on Reddit earlier this week, spilling further details on the what it’s like to work on Game of Thrones. Information divulged included:

    • Ser Pounce doesn’t play well with others. King Tommen’s fan-favorite kitty is apparently a “bit of a diva,” and was “very difficult work with.”
    • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau—aka Jaime Lannister—smells like “musky spicey woody gorgeousness.”
    • Jack Gleeson is “fun and so lovely between takes,” despite how his character Joffrey Baratheon was prone to behave.
    • Diana Rigg basically is her character, the Queen of Thorns. “She’s INCREDIBLE,” Dormer wrote. “She’s a veteran actress that’s won Tonys and BAFTAs, she’s so well-read, she’s always got a dirty story and a piece of wisdom.”
    • George R. R. Martin’s lavish devotion to descrptions of food doesn’t translate into real life. Though the fake food in Game of Thrones is of a higher standard that the “rationed” fare in The Hunger Games (in which Dormer also appears), the actual food provided to the actors (known as the “craft service”) is “way better” in Hunger Games than Game of Thrones.
    • “Drop and intelligent” Peter Dinklage is most like the character he plays, Tyrion Lannister—while he, Pedro Pascal, Gwendoline Chistie, Lena Headey are among the funniest.
    • Manipulating King Tommen is the hardest part of Game of Thrones. “I tried very hard to find the line of manipulation” for the junior monarch, Dormer writes. “It was a difficult thing for me and the creators to get the right tone on. We tried our best."
    • She hasn’t read any of A Song of Ice and Fire. “[Margaery isn’t] a POV character, so I was advised by [showrunners] Dan & David it might not help me."

    Screengrab via Team Coco


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    VidCon, the premiere convention for YouTube fans and professionals alike, is adding a new track to bridge the gap between community members and industry professionals in a business where the line between fan and future superstar is practically non-existent.

    One of the main points of VidCon criticism, which has grown considerably in the past few years, is the chasm between the Community Track—which is affordably priced for fans who want to attend to meet their idols and fellow viewers—and the expensive Industry Track that caters to brands and companies making money in the video space.

    VidCon is finally addressing the space in between fans and pros with a Creator Track for 2015. This track is aimed at attendees who are not brand professionals, but who are still interested in attending VidCon to learn about creating video content and growing their personal channels.

    At the 2014 event, some Community Track panels tried to address some creator issues, but in many cases the educational aspects were lost as fans crowded into rooms trying to glimpse their favorite YouTubers. Now VidCon will seperate the activities, with the main floor reserved for community events like signings, Q&As, concerts, and other fan-centric activities, while the upstairs rooms will be reserved for creator and industry tracks. According to VidCon's Tumblr.

    “People will discuss the nuts and bolts of writing, editing, shooting, lighting, marketing, monetizing, and just creating online video.

    There will be a special creator lounge for people in the creator track to hang out in, and there will also be a creator keynote, with TED-style talks about important issues facing creators and the online video industry.”

    Creators will have access to all Community-level activity except for the signing and photo lines, which will also have their own revamped rules. Last year, waits exceeding six hours threatened to derail enjoyment of the conference. Now, according to the VidCon Tumblr, Community registrants will enter a lotto system for signings and photos that will restrict wait times to a maximum of 30 minutes.

    VidCon's new restriction makes the Creator Track a highly specialized one, instead of just a higher-access track that fans could buy into in the hopes of getting better access. VidCon says it expects Creator registrations to cut into Industry registrations for 2015, which is an encouraging sign for the future of video creators at the industry’s biggest conference.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    If you’ve spent serious time on Wikipedia, you’ve probably noticed that one of its biggest advantages over traditional encyclopedias is its allowance for the downright silly and absurd. Like the fictional Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, anything that can be cited is likely to remain a part of the permanent record, no matter how inane the subject.

    This is probably why Wikipedia, like the Hitchhiker’s Guide, is so wildly successful. Many of the greatest items of interest in our world are ones that could be considered, in an academic sense, quite stupid.

    Yet sometimes the stupidest subject matter makes the funniest entertainment. This is the thinking behind a new webseries, The Things You Learn on Wikipedia, that premiered last Monday. The show, produced by the Levity Department, combines Wikipedia’s oddest pages with 82-year-old actor and reality TV star Arthur Albert.

    “Arthur is reading the text directly,” says producer Richard Hine. “It’s a little bit of a satire on Wikipedia and the Internet, and it’s also a little bit of a fun, lighthearted way to make people think about some of the less important issues of the world.”

    Hine met Albert when he helped him produce Arthur Flies a Kite, in which Albert flies a Castakite with MasterChef Junior champion Alexander Weiss. Albert had previously starred on TV Land’s Forever Young, a reality show that mixed five 70-somethings with five 20-somethings, which led to him developing a keen interest in social media and the Internet in general.

    “His grappling with technology became a part of the theme of the show,” says Hine. “He has a very fun attitude toward technology, a very interested attitude, so we were kind of brainstorming about what else we could do.”

    The two decided that Wikipedia was the perfect place to situation Albert’s brand of humor. But the entries couldn’t merely be funny; they also needed to be informative and interesting (as well as PG in nature). The premiere episode, Toilet Paper Orientation, demonstrates the series’ sweet spot. In true Wikipedia-entry fashion, the episode covers both the “over” and “under” toilet paper orientations with diagrams, pros and cons, the history of the debate, and detailed statistics.

    “When people talk about toilet paper orientation, everyone does seem to have an opinion,” says Hine. “People can get passionate about it.” Twitter confirms this to be true.

    Each episode will pair Arthur Albert’s voiceover work with animator Allen Spector’s motion graphics, based on material taken straight from the Wikipedia pages themselves. Six episodes are currently being produced; they’ll be released over the next two to three months. While Hine won’t say which articles are getting the Things You Learn on Wikipedia treatment, he’s confident they won’t disappoint.

    “The topics we ended up with were the result of the journey that we started with,” says Hine, “clicking from one article to the another until we found one that seemed right for [Arthur] to read.”

    In the meantime, to embark on a journey of your own, try heading to Wikipedia’s list of unusual articles, and remember: Don’t Panic.

    H/T YouTube | Photo via Pernilla Rydmark/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)


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    Benedict Cumberbatch’s inability to pronounce “penguin” may be nothing compared to his attempts to describe the word “booty.”

    Jimmy Fallon may have been a little premature to declare that he and Cumberbatch were good at playing his newest variety game, “Three-Word Stories,” in which they each try to get the other to guess a secret word by uttering three words at a time. The first round went off without a hitch, and then Cumberbatch got his first word.

    It’s hard to tell if it’s just that Cumberbatch is that terrible at trying to describe things or Fallon is bad at guessing; it’s probably a bit of both. But the word is enough for both of them to burst out in a fit of giggles.

    Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    With a rapidly changing library of titles, hosting your own movie marathon on Netflix is pretty easy. But instead of cherry-picking timeless classics or old favorites to enjoy, why not pay attention to those unfamiliar titles that you constantly find yourself weeding through and have yourself a Bad Movie Marathon?

    We sifted through the awful, the absurd, and just plain WTF offerings of Netflix and managed to whittle a pretty extensive list down to 25 semi-digestible entries. Representing all genres and countless questionable career moves, here are some truly abysmal titles whose creators will never have to worry about pesky things like counting money or Oscar statuette placement.

    1) Airplane II: The Sequel

    The Internet may be sharply divided on a lot of issues, but a visit to almost any online community can agree that the original Airplane! is an iconic comedy that, despite its 1980 release date, is timeless. When director Ken Finkleman attempted to recreate the magic two years later in a futuristic setting, rehashing identical jokes and reuniting most of the original film's cast, it didn't work out so well. Still, you can enjoy one of William Shatner’s earliest comedic performances and be on the lookout for cameo appearances by then-unknowns Pat Sajak and George Wendt.

    2) Bad Johnson

    Usually if you tell someone that you’re going to see an independent film, that connotes that you’re watching a movie of quality. But in the case of Bad Johnson, it simply means that no studio was crazy enough to throw money at a movie about a man who learns how to be an adult after his penis detaches from his body, comes to life in human form, and tries to steal his girlfriend. (The penis is, of course, a total dick. Get it?) Starring Twilight’s Cam Gigandet as a “charming womanizer,” Bad Johnson rarely even rises to the level of being interestingly bad. Cam Gigandet’s penis is the least of his problems. It’s the movie that can’t get it up.

    3) Big Top Pee-wee

    After winning over an entire generation with the highly acclaimed Pee-wee's Big Adventure and the Saturday morning variety series Pee-wee's Playhouse, Pee-wee Herman tried a second foray into cinema. Unfortunately, without the direction of Tim Burton and the writing talents of Phil Hartman, Big Top Pee-wee just turned out to be an uninteresting mess. Pee-wee as a farmer? A circus that could travel through space? Such aspects make the Rube Goldberg-style breakfast machine from Pee-wee's Big Adventure seem believable. Keep an eye out for a cameo from a very young Dustin Diamond, who went on to play Screech in Saved By the Bell.

    4) Can’t Stop the Music

    Starring Bruce Jenner and Steve Guttenberg, Can’t Stop the Music deserves a spot on this list for being historically bad. After a double feature of Xanadu and this film, created as a vehicle for the Village People, John J.B. Wilson was inspired to create an awards show honoring the worst in cinema each year. Thus, the Razzies were born, where Can’t Stop the Music was named the group’s first winner for Worst Picture. While a critically reviled box office bomb, the movie’s soundtrack at least proved to be a hit. In addition, Baskin Robbins found a memorable way to cash in on the Village People craze: To promote the movie, the ice cream chain offered a flavor named “Can’t Stop the Nuts.”

    5) Down Periscope

    Kelsey Grammer decided that being a household name on three different TV series (Cheers, its spin-off series Frasier, and The Simpsons) wasn't enough. Thus, he turned his attention to films, trying his luck with the painfully awful Down Periscope. Costarring Lauren Holly, Rob Schneider, and William H. Macy, the (very liberally categorized) "comedy" stars Grammer as a veteran Navy captain who must lead a crew of dimwits in a naval war game. Grammer would later return to film work in ensemble casts: In 2014 alone, he has appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Expendables 3, and Transformers: Age of Extinction.

    6) Forces of Nature

    After striking box office gold and critical acclaim with Good Will Hunting, Hollywood wanted as much of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as possible. While Damon went on to become a respected actor, Affleck largely became a joke. Forces of Nature, a vapid romantic comedy that pairs Affleck with Sandra Bullock, is just one of Affleck's many mistakes that ultimately led to him deciding to turn his focus to directing.

    7) Gigli

    Another of Ben Affleck’s many entries on this list, Gigli is the notorious box office turkey that helped bring the Bennifer portmanteau into the world. But unlike most turkeys, this one features a notorious crime against America’s favorite holiday bird. In the film, Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are brought together by narrative convenience and a shared interest in Lopez’s lesbianism, which will, of course, be jettisoned by the end of the movie, when she meets the the right man. (Ah, Hollywood.) When Lopez eventually lets Affleck know she’s ready for heterosexuality, she flops down on a hotel bed in front of him, spreads her legs, and says, “Gobble gobble.” Good luck unseeing that on Thanksgiving.

    8) The Hillz

    Paris Hilton may not be America’s sorority girl next door anymore, but she’s still the queen of the IMDb Bottom 100. Currently, Hilton holds three slots on the list, with mentions for Nine Lives, Pledge This!, and The Hottie & the Nottie, the latter currently the fourth-lowest-rated movie ever. Time has been slightly kinder to the The Hillz, which ranked as high as No. 15 before eventually being bumped off the list altogether. Like Nottie, The Hillz operates under the bizarre delusion that every man on the planet should want to passionately pursue Paris Hilton, even if it leads to their eventual death. Considering the film’s romantic hero is a white Beverly Hills gangster whose associates are named Seb and Duff, perhaps it’s for the best.

    9) inAPPropriate Comedy

    On the short list of worst movies ever made, inAPPropriate Comedy brings together an unlikely cast of Lindsay Lohan, Rob Schneider, Michelle Rodriguez, Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, and former ShamWow spokesman Vince Offer for an omnibus comedy of skits loosely tied together by an offensive iPhone app. The result is about as hilarious as Funny Games, a movie that mistakes being mindblowingly racist for having any sort of basic comic perspective. In one recurring skit, called “The Amazing Racist,” comedian Ari Shaffir goes Jackass on people of color by attempting to lure them into a boat back to Africa. If the apocalypse does destroy the world, let’s hope it takes all copies of this movie first.

    10) An Invisible Sign

    Jessica Alba has never been known for her thespic abilities. To date, her most memorable performance was in Sin City, a film that mostly required her to take off her clothes and shake her lady parts in slow motion. Indeed, in An Invisible Sign, Alba proves the biggest hurdle between herself and success is pointing her face into the camera and acting. Director Marilyn Agrelo casts Alba as a 20-year-old genius math teacher with OCD, but the movie’s idea of intelligence is making her into a stunted Manic Pixie Dream Girl with Pippi Longstocking braids. It’s like a Saturday Night Live skit, except that no one in the movie is in on the joke.

    11) Jersey Girl

    Kevin Smith spent the 1990s earning the respect of geeks, indie film buffs, and the Internet in general with movies like Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Dogma. Suffering an apparent midlife crisis after Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, he attempted to cross over into mainstream (read: "uninspired") cinema with the romantic comedy Jersey Girl. Starring his frequent lead actor Ben Affleck, the film follows his character's forays through the perils of single parenthood following the sudden death of his wife (Jennifer Lopez). Not even cameo appearances by Jason Lee, Matt Damon, and Will Smith could save this melodramatic dreck, and Smith went back to the well two years later with Clerks II.

    12) Love Wedding Marriage

    Directed by Dermot Mulroney, Love Wedding Marriage has the dubious distinction of scoring a rare 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, one of two Mandy Moore (along with Swinging With the Finkels) movies to earn the honor. In Love Wedding Marriage, Moore plays an alleged Berkeley graduate and relationship counselor with all the acting skill of an energetic high school cheerleader, and she gets no help from onscreen husband Kellan Lutz, who feels less like a romantic partner than her gay best friend. The film, co-starring Jane Seymour and James Brolin as Moore’s wackily estranged parents, wants to be a commentary on modern commitment, but as the New York Times memorably put it, it feels more like “punishment for a crime you can’t remember committing.”

    13) The Master of Disguise

    Poor Dana Carvey. After the success of Wayne's World, Mike Myers rose to international stardom with roles in the Austin Powers and Shrek franchises, leaving Carvey to accept supporting roles in lame, forgettable films like Little Nicky and Trapped in Paradise. He attempted to gain back his leading man status by assuming several roles in The Master of Disguise, but obviously things didn't quite work out and he became the most ridiculous SNL alum since Rob Schneider.

    14) Mindhunters

    For as astoundingly inept and ridiculous as it is, it almost feels wrong to put Renny Harlin’s Mindhunters on a worst-of list. Can a movie that’s as pleasurably awful as Mindhunters really be bad? That’s for you to decide. The Chicago Tribune’s Allison Benedikt predicted it would become the Showgirls of psycho-thrillers, and surely Mindhunters’ dialogue has the chops. In one memorable scene from Showgirls, two characters bond over eating kibble. In Mindhunters, a character hypothesizes about the best way to kill someone: “I guess we found his one weakness: bullets.”

    15) Movie 43

    Movie 43 worked harder to win Worst Picture than nearly any movie in history. Long a passion project of the Farrelly brothers, Movie 43 was a decade in the making, rejected by nearly every studio in Hollywood before the Farrellys got funding; the film then had to be shot over a period of several years to accommodate its A-list cast (including Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, and Naomi Watts). The result is the anti-Boyhood, bringing together one of the most talented casts in history for a sketch comedy that barely rises to the level of trash. Actually, as a movie that milks laughs out of Hugh Jackman’s ball-chin and Chris Pratt defecating on Anna Faris’ chest, Movie 43 would be lucky to be mentioned in the same sentence as trash. 

    16) Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger

    We didn't even know that there was a Nativity 1, but something tells us that never seeing the original will not in any way impede our viewing pleasure of its sequel. What will impede said viewing pleasure will be seeing one of Doctor Who’s most respected doctors, David Tennant, trying to lead a group of annoying, one-dimensional children on a musical adventure to an important regional competition.

    17) Only God Forgives

    Ryan Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn teamed up to make Drive. Surely their follow-up, set in the world of Bangkok’s underground boxing scene, would live up to that film’s high standards? However, Only God Forgives is as horrible as Drive was great, one of the worst excuses for an arthouse movie in recent years. Gosling’s usual Brandoisms come off here as shockingly inert and often unintentionally hilarious, playing a mute sadist with a taste for ultraviolence. Meanwhile, Kristin Scott Thomas breaks off entire pieces of scenery and swallows them whole as his mother, an Oedipal figure sure to be a favorite Halloween costume among hipster drag queens everywhere.

    18) Passion

    In describing the movies Bucky Larson and Ed, film critic Nathan Rabin coined the term “shitty miracle” to describe a film in which “everything goes awry.” Rabin writes, “It’s not a matter of one sorry element dragging the rest down; it’s every terrible component amplifying the awfulness of everything else.” Of recent years, Brian dePalma’s Passion is one of the most likely candidates, a remake of the French corporate psychosexual thriller Love Crime that should come with its own laugh track. Starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace, it’s so shockingly, mesmerisingly bad it doesn’t appear to take place on Earth. The film’s cold exteriors are meant to suggest Germany, but it feels more like that ice planet in Interstellar.

    19) Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead

    Well before Asylum Films came on the scene, there was renowned B-movie mastermind Lloyd Kaufman and his crop of Troma films. Chock-full of ridiculous premises and gross-out humor, no bad movie list would be complete without at least one entry from the collection. While a good number of Kaufman's Troma library is available on Netflix, including the Toxic Avenger series and Tromeo and Juliet,Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is the clear winner. A chicken farm built over an old Indian burial ground? Check. Not one, but two horrible puns in the film's title? Double check.

    20) Reefer Madness

    Back in 1936, anti-marijuana activists released a propaganda film that supposedly showed the dangers of marijuana. Painting marijuana dealers and their teenage customers in the same light as heroin aficionados, Reefer Madness not-so-subtly suggests that weed can cause even casual users to mow down pedestrians, attempt rape, and frame others for cold-blooded murder. The obviously ineffective film became a cult sensation and is now a top pick on the "so bad it's good" scale of cinema. It's best watched while high.

    21) Sharknado

    As its subtitle says, "Enough said!" The film that helped put Asylum Films on the map and inspired a (somehow even worse [and not in that good way]) sequel, Sharknado pits shark-filled funnel clouds against a who's-who of washed-up actors. Other Asylum films currently available on Netflix include Mega Shark Vs. Mecha Shark and Age of Dinosaurs, just in case you're in a marathon mood.

    22) Spice World

    In the late 1990s, you couldn't turn on a radio without hearing "Wannabe," "2 Become 1," or any other of the Spice Girls' many mindless hit singles. Geri, Mel B, and the rest of the British pop group attempted to capitalize on their popularity with the truly awful cult classic Spice World, which follows the group through a series of lame dream sequences and implausible plot twists as they make their way to a concert at London's Royal Albert Hall. Enjoy some fun appearances by people who should have known better, including Elton John and Stephen Fry, but don't expect anything deeper, story-wise, than the music video for "Wannabe."

    23) Swept Away

    Some movies are so bad you just have to run out and see them immediately. Showgirls, for instance, deserves to be watched and loved as much as possible. Swept Away, however, should be stranded on a desert island with the rest of Madonna’s acting career. The singer has always had difficulty resembling a carbon-based life form, whether onscreen or off, but never has imitating basic human emotion proven more difficult than in Swept Away; this is ironic considering that Madonna is asked to play an arrogant socialite with an attitude problem, which shouldn’t be all that hard for her.

    24) A Talking Cat!?!

    A Talking Cat!?! (punctuation courtesy of the movie) is The Room of family entertainment. It not only fails in the ways we expect bad movies to come up short (poor acting, stilted dialogue) but also somehow finds unprecedented ways to be truly incompetent. Filmed in director David deCoteau’s house (known best for softcore gay horror movies), the film features the worst animal voiceover in history. Eric Roberts, who sounds slightly drunk, seems to have recorded the audio for the titular feline via walkie talkie. Even better: His character doesn’t really talk so much as give limited fortune cookie advice to the humans around him while deCoteau gives him a creepy Microsoft Paint mouth to talk through. In some scenes, you can actually see the cat being guided by a laser pointer.

    25) Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

    If there’s one movie on this list that’s wholeheartedly recommended as nearly essential viewing, it’s TPTCOAMC, both a problematic Hail Mary and a camp classic waiting to be discovered. In Temptation, we are treated to Kim Kardashian spouting off lines like, “That’s not make up, that’s make down,” and Vanessa Williams sporting a fake French accent that needs to be heard to believed. Come for Temptation’s Old Testament views on marriage (in which a snake-handler matriarch is the unlikely voice of reason); stay for Brandy Norwood’s cameo as Sad HIV Girl. How do you know she’s sad and has HIV? Because she only has one lamp in her apartment. In Tyler Perry’s world, HIV patients can’t afford overhead lighting.

    Screengrab via Netflix


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    If you’re anything like me, there’s only one way to put an end to an unwanted relationship: by gradually become more and more withdrawn until the other party does the legwork for you. But apparently not everyone is as emotionally withholding, and if you’re one of these fully functioning people, then you may just see a bit of yourself in 52 Ways to Break Up.

    It’s a cute premise—52 weekly chunks of relationship failure, all starring the webseries’ creator, Megan Rosati. Sure, the sheer number of projected episodes seems a little audacious in the face of the likely unsustainability of its narrow topic, but the five episodes so far (a new one hits the channel today) have been varied enough to set that concern aside for the time being.

    And who doesn’t love a breakup? Not your own of course, but that of strangers. There’s a reason why people love those people-are-breaking-up-at-the-table-next-to-me livetweets and text exchanges, even though to anyone but the worryingly credulous they are obviously fake. It’s a glimpse behind closed doors, the big opportunity for a public airing of disconcerting traits that have been ironed out of public personas. 

    52 Ways to Break Up lacks the salaciousness of a fight in a restaurant. It is, after all, fictional. Indeed the admission that none of the breakups are inspired by reality robs us of the grim intrigue that each episode has been lifted in toto from Rosati’s life. But acting or not, there is still plenty to identify with here. Chances are you’re going to be in a relationship that ends. And while it probably won’t happen in a café with someone tweeting beside you, it will likely play out like one of Rosati’s episodes.

    Screengrab via Megan Rosati/YouTube

     


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    Sarah Silverman is now available on demand.

    Today, a new, 45-minute comedy variety show hosted by Silverman debuts exclusively on Vimeo On Demand. In collaboration with JASH, the online network for comedic partnership, JASH Presents Rubberhead features live performances and sketches curated by Silverman, and includes comedians like Nathan Fielder, Key & Peele, Seth Rogen, Tig Notaro, and Eric Wareheim, and musicians 2 Chainz and Courtney Love.

    Creator and executive producer Daniel Kellison said the show “is a new type of comedy experience—a no holds-barred show without the middleman. What you see is the comedy created wholly by the artist, without interference from executives or networks or standards and practices. We put our full trust in our artist partners. Nothing is off-limits.”

    That's hinted at with the inclusion of sketches called "Knickers (a.k.a. Sarah Silverman Is Not a Racist)" and "Ginger Orphan Playhouse." 

    The show is available on Vimeo On Demand for $4.99.

    Photo courtesy of Vimeo


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    Interstellar was pretty interesting as a piece of blockbuster science fiction, but like most Christopher Nolan movies, it was rather light on character development. The main two or three characters got some backstory, but most of the other roles were empty, propped up only by the caliber of the actors in question.

    In a new Interstellar prequel comic in Wired magazine, Nolan himself attempts to rectify this issue. He explores one of the most intriguing side-characters in the movie, Dr. Mann. Prior to the events of the movie, Mann set out alone on one of NASA’s first missions to find a habitable planet on the other side of the wormhole. By the time we see him in Interstellar, he is a changed man.

    The 7-page story, illustrated by comic book artist Sean Gordon Murphy, doesn’t just touch on the earlier years of the Lazarus mission. It also gives us a little more insight into the robots we see in the movie. These characters (if indeed they count as “characters”) are one of the few hints of futurism we see in the world of Interstellar, which was purposefully designed to resemble present-day America.

    These boxy metallic machines are programmed to exhibit human personality traits, but they look about as inhuman as possible. The benefit of their design is the absence of the “uncanny valley” creepiness that a humanoid robot would exude. In Interstellar, the robots’ purpose is to help the astronauts perform tasks that would be impossible for human minds and bodies to accomplish. However, it is strongly implied that their veneer of personhood is merely pre-programmed to make their human masters more comfortable, as opposed to being the organic result of an artificial intelligence’s interactions with people. As Mann points out in the movie, the robots’ lack of survival instinct makes them little more than tools.


    Photo via Wired

    Nolan’s Interstellar comic sees Mann and his robot companion KIPP exploring the desolate ice planet where his ship has landed. Unlike Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and Brand (Anne Hathaway), who tease the robot TARS and generally treat it cordially, Mann seems far more aware of the false nature of the robot-human relationship. After all, KIPP is a computer who is programmed to keep Mann company on his lonely mission. When viewed as a response to 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL 9000, Mann’s attitude toward artificial intelligence is one of the most interesting aspects of the world Nolan created in Interstellar.

    Photo via interstellar-movie.com


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    The man whose sister’s murder became the subject of Serial is now speaking out against the podcast that brought her story to millions of listeners every week.

    Over the course of a season, journalist Sarah Koenig is telling the story of Hae Min Lee, who was murdered in Baltimore in 1999, and her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was convicted of her murder and retains his innocence 15 years later. Koenig’s trying to get to the bottom of the case, which is wraught with inconsistencies.

    In the two months since its premiere, Serial has risen to the top of the iTunes podcast charts, sparked entire podcast discussing the podcast, and inspired an active subreddit of sleuths trying to see past everything Koenig and the people she talks to (and to post a huge amount of conspiracy theories).

    But Serial is not mere entertainment. It's relaying true-life events, and the backlash from relatives and the people who knew Hae and Adnan is coming against Koenig and her production crew.

    Reddit user brotherofhae, who claimes to be Hae’s little brother, took to r/serialpodcast (the main hub for discussion and theories about the case on Reddit) revealed his shock at finding out how popular Serial was and said that Koenig tried to contact him for an interview for the podcast prior to its airing.

    TO ME ITS REAL LIFE. To you listeners, its another murder mystery, crime drama, another episode of CSI. You weren't there to see your mom crying every night, having a heart att[a]ck when she got the new[s] that the body was found, and going to court almost everyday for a year seeing your mom weeping, crying and fainting. You don't know what we went through. Especially to those who are demanding our family respon[d] and having a meetup... you guys are disgusting. Shame on you. I pray that you don't have to go through what we went through and have your story blasted to 5mil listeners.

    While brotherofhae is disheartened that his sister's murder is the subject of a popular podcast, he called Koenig an “awesome narrator / writer / investigator.” So far, only he and a cousin—the one Hae was supposed to pick up the day she disappeared—know about the podcast. His mother is being kept in the dark, he says.

    Redditors speculated as to whether brotherofhae was actually Hae’s brother, but his identity was later verified with the r/serialpodcast moderators. He posted emails from Koenig and Dana Chivvis, who also works with Koenig, as proof, but they were later taken down because they revealed personal information.

    Versions of the email (with personal information redacted) were shared across social media.

    The message from Hae’s brother helped shine a light on just how real the story Serial covers is. But he brought out the humanity in Serial fans, too.

    “I am a Serial fan, SK fan and generally of all things related to This American Life, but please know this: never for one second have I forgotten this story is real,” ricci456 wrote. “I have shed tears over the death of a young girl I never knew. I have cried as only a parent can when faced with the death of a child. I am sincerely sorry for your loss, and I think if you can take anything remotely positive from this whole podcast: know that so many of us grieve for you and with you.”

    H/T Business Insider | Photo via Croswald9/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    When we spoke with Julie Klausner in June, she mentioned the Amy Poehler-produced show Difficult People, which had just landed a pilot. She said then it had been sold to USA Networks. 

    It’s now landing on Hulu.

    Today came news that the series, starring Klausner and Billy on the Street star Billy Eichner as best friends in NYC, would head to Hulu. The streaming site has recently started expanding its original comedy programming with shows like The Hotwives of Orlando and Jason Reitman’s Casual.

    The fantastically named Beatrice Springborn, head of Hulu’s originals, posted a blog about the partnership:

    When I first joined Hulu, I was excited to break new ground and continue to expand the offering of premium content that Hulu was built upon. Difficult People is one of those smart, distinctive comedy series that perfectly fits into our diverse slate of high-quality Hulu Originals.

    The Internet rejoiced at this news.

    Production on the series is set to begin next early year.

    H/T Hollywood Reporter | Screengrab via Billy on the Street/YouTube 


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    “He refused to be like any ol’ other blind person. He actually did stuff that he really shouldn’t have done.”

    This is how magician Richard Turner is described in the trailer for Dealt on the documentary’s Indiegogo page, and it’s an understatement. Turner, whose vision began fading at a young age after having scarlet fever, had 20/400 vision by the age of 13. In high school, he practiced Wado Kai karate, sparring against opponents that weren’t legally blind and earning a fifth-degree black belt. At the point that his vision became nothing more than dim shadows in his periphery, he became one of the world’s top card magicians, a level he remains at today.

    Dealt seeks to tell Turner’s “seemingly impossibl[e] journey,” and according to director Luke Korem, the project is currently three-fourths complete, as the crew has followed Turner around for a year, now, traveling to 13 cities and conducting over 40 interviews.

    But things have gotten a bit more interesting since then—and a bit more expensive: Turner’s been asked to perform in Sweden, South Korea, and China, and those performances would make for some great footage, but are going to be pricey trips for a film crew to make. Plus, the licensing fees for archival footage featuring Turner are adding up quickly. The documentary’s Indiegogo campaign for $75,000 is currently sitting at 54 percent completion with three days to go.

    The rewards packages are pretty good, ranging from the $25 donation’s digital download of the finished film to the $1,000 donation that comes with autographed versions of just about everything on Earth. Things get really interesting at the $7,500 level, though: Turner will perform for up to 30 people at your house. For anybody with tons of money, this is the exact kind of thing you should do with it. Show somebody the slow-motion footage of the master at work, watch the awe come over them, and then casually mention that the guy’s performing at your apartment next Wednesday. After all, stunts like that are why people bother collecting money in the first place. 

    As it’s an Indiegogo campaign, not all is lost if the overall goal isn’t met. But a trip to one or two of those countries, and some of that priceless archival footage, might be. 

    Screengrab via Dealt Movie/YouTube


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    Shanthony Exum, also known as Brooklyn emcee Miss Eaves, is tired of catcalling. She’s fed up with street harassment. And she’s got a song about it.

    She wrote “Aye Girl” back in February, as a way to express her frustration with harassment on the street and off. She penned it a capella, and her friend and producer P. Kilmure eventually came up with the beat. The video, released last week, reverses the gender dynamic, and shows women whistling, eyeing, and catcalling a man as he walks down the street. The song’s also about fending off sexual advances in the club; Exum notes harassment doesn’t end when the sidewalk does.

    Though the song was written way before Hollaback’s 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman video went viral, Exum says the video was a response to the conversation that happened around it.

    “I think one of the good things that came out of that video was it did get people talking about street harassment,” she said. “There was a lot of discussion happening before that, but it was really in the collective public consciousness at that moment.

    “‘I just want people to start thinking about it critically, and men and women to challenge it, and men to stand up to other men and say, ‘Hey, this is not OK.’"

    She adds that the #dudesgreetingdudes hashtag was one way that conversation flipped, but there’s still the bigger issue of how to call out and eradicate this problem. So what does she hope men and women take away from the video?

    “I wanted it to be a human rights issue,” she said. “It’s not just that women are being too sensitive. No one’s going to like unwanted sexual advances, and I wanted that to be the point of the video. You shouldn't treat any human that way.”

    Screengrab via Miss Eaves/YouTube


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  • 11/18/14--20:18: An open letter to Tom Hardy
  • It's a good time to be you, Tom Hardy. Critics think you're the reincarnation of Marlon Brando. Spielberg really liked that mindblowing little magic trick you and writer Stephen Knight pulled off earlier this year. And next year, you're starring in one of the most highly anticipated sequels of the decade. 

    But by the time Mad Max rolls around, you'll have to stop vaccilating back and forth between your current dual roles of Hollywood A-lister and indie outsider. Eventually you'll have to slip off the Bane mask and finally become a movie star

    Perhaps that's why you've devoted so much of your final pre-Max year of freedom to low-key British masterpieces. You only showed up for season two of the BBC drama Peaky Blinders, which just arrived last month to Netflix but already has us clamoring for more. As always, you were mesmerizing. 

    Now, you're bringing yet another BBC series to our greedy little hands. FX just snagged Taboo, a story set in 1813 about a man who uses 13 blood diamonds to build an empire en route to avenging his dead father. That sounds totally fucking crazy, like Wuthering Heights meets Road to Perditiion. We would expect no less from you, Tom. 

    We know you created Taboo with your own father, and we know your own father is awesome because he raised you to be the kind of person who simultaneously took stolen cars for joy rides in your youth and gave interviews about how much you loved shoes and hated the trappings of masculinity that Hollywood forced upon you.

    We know your father is a writer, and we trust him because he had the good sense to name you after another writer, one as deeply attuned to human nature and as gloriously unhinged as you are. There's a part in The Mayor of Casterbridge where a bull breaks free of its tether and runs rampant through the village, and, yes, that's a metaphor for sex, but let's just run with it. We imagine that like that bull you yearn to cast off your Hollywood fetters, the bothersome interviews, the shaving requirements, and the demand for normalcy. We picture you shadowboxing your way to freedom like you did in Warrior.

    Would you be happy then, Tom Hardy? Would it make you feel less afraid of social media if you could somehow continue to be Tom Hardy, family guy, dog lover, streetwear designer, without also having to deal with the strain of being Tom Hardy, one of the greatest actors alive?

    Sorry, Tom. We really want Taboo already. It's not coming here until 2016, but seriously, it's got Locke's Stephen Knight returning as writer, it's produced by Ridley Scott, and it's already garnering raves. It's your own fault, Tom Hardy. You made us love you. You strolled up with your fake posh accent and incepted us, and then you made our OTP canon. It's true, we all forgot to go see The Drop, but that was only because we were too busy watching you take the Ice Bucket challenge. 

    Just cut us some slack, Tom Hardy. We saw This Means War for you. You don't get to tease us by promising us an awesome series about colonialism and revenge narratives and the East India Company and then holding it hostage until 2016. How dare you. 

    We want Taboo, and we want it yesterday.

    You had better be filming 10 more seasons of Peaky Blinders to atone for this affront, Tom. Don't give us those puppy dog eyes. You can sleep when you're dead.

    Photo via honeyfitz/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    After what amounts to almost a year of speculation that it was planning to head Down Under, Netflix has finally made it official. The streaming service will be launching in Australia and New Zealand next year.

    Beginning March 2015, people in both countries will be able to sign up for a “curated selection” of Netflix offerings, which, at launch, will include the likes of Marco PoloBoJack Horseman, and kids’ series All Hail King Julien.

    What these series all have in common is that they’re Netflix originals…and that they were specifically mentioned in the company’s announcement about the expansion (other “Netflix originals” mentioned include stand-up comedy special from Chelsea Handler and upcoming series Bloodline).

    Which suggests the possibility that Netflix may not be able to make its entire video library available in Australia and New Zealand. There’s no mention of the “full” library moving down under, but further details on programming and how much the service will cost in the new territories will come at a later date.

    As of now, Netflix is available in the U.S. (of course), Canada, Latin America, the U.K., Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

    Photo via szeke/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)


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    My week without cable television has been miserable. I missed ESPN, CNBC, and the Phoenix Suns, and hated getting up to move my indoor antenna around to watch the Arizona Cardinals trounce the Detroit Lions. Count me among those willing to pay that exorbitant monthly fee until something better comes along.

    •••

    I have been a continuous cable TV subscriber since 1978—save for one year in Mill Valley, Calif., when I was a beta customer of a satellite service called USSB which later became DirecTV. I was among the first HBO subscribers with Service Electronic in Allentown, Pa., one of the nation’s earliest cable TV franchises. Perhaps naive at the time, I saw great value in getting lots of television stations with crystal-clear reception. I even recall on one of my early dates with my now-wife of 30 years showing her this amazing new channel called MTV that broadcast something called music videos. Ah, Mark Goodman, where are you now that we need you?

    Because we have been unable to sell our (now vacant) home in Arizona, we were forced to cut back expenses, so our monthly cable TV service had to go. We had to return to our abode in the Valley of the Sun for one week, and it was during those awful seven days I became a reluctant cord cutter. My viewing options included over-the-air TV, my Amazon Fire box, and Roku streaming stick. I also had my iPad, which helped somewhat. I was smart enough to keep our high-speed Internet service, or we would have been limited to local news and, I kid you not, old reruns of The Real McCoys on something called Cozi TV, an over-the-air channel.

    After hooking up my digital HD antenna to watch the Cardinals game, I got a “weak signal” message on screen when I tuned into the local Fox affiliate. Like a goofball out of a bad ’50s sitcom, I wandered around the room with antenna in hand until reception improved. That was fine until I wanted to change stations to watch the Sunday night game on NBC. Off the couch, do the antenna dance, and wait for the peacock to come to life.

    Because Fox Sports Arizona has the rights for most of the Phoenix Suns games (and Coyotes of the NHL), I wasn’t able to watch any of those events. Fox Sports AZ is only available via one of the subscription services (cable, satellite), as is Fox’s new all-sports network, Fox Sports 1, which handles the NFL post game shows. Speaking of sports, my morning ritual of watching Dan Patrick on cable was also put on hold during my hiatus.

    As far as ESPN goes, I have the ESPN app on Amazon Fire, but my attempt to watch Monday Night Football was thwarted by constant buffering of the broadcast, which is maddening during a live event. The same goes for my CNN app, which would stop and start in irritating fashion. If there had been a major national or international event, my choices would have been severely limited.

    A few years ago, my wife introduced me to the sappy, faith-based (not religious) movies on the Hallmark Channel, and I’ve become a fan. No judging. Hallmark Channel is a non-starter for anything other than a cable or satellite TV. There are some older Hallmark telemovies on Netflix and Hulu, but they are dated and some of the network’s weaker offerings. Speaking of Hulu, I am a fan of the CNBC show The Profit, but I noticed Hulu’s episodes were a few weeks behind. 

    I am a current subscriber of Time Warner Cable in Texas and have the app that goes with it. Out of your home, though, it’s not much of a help, as it limits the channels you can watch to a handful of second-tier options and the local Time Warner Austin news channel. What was helpful was the ability to set our remote DVR to record a number of shows to watch when we return to the Lone Star State. Speaking of DVR, no cable or satellite means no DVR (technically, there are workarounds, but who has the time for that?). Since I sold my last VCR at a garage sale, we were stuck watching Shark Tank live on Friday night as opposed to our customary two- or three-day delay.

    •••

    The term “cord cutter” is really a misconception. Those who see promise in the advancing cloud TV services or direct-to-consumer versions of HBO and Showtime are going to be more dependant on cords than ever. You’ll just trade one costly cord—cable—for another in the form of a high-speed Internet connection needed to provide enough juice to power up these new TV services.

    For me, the math makes some cord-cutting scenarios a curious economic exercise. If you pay $80 or $90 a month for cable or satellite, how many cloud TV services would it take to cover all the programming you want to watch? For me, I would need ESPN, CNN, CNBC, NBCSN (for Dan Patrick), the local Fox Sports (for local teams), Hallmark, and a few other cable nets such as Food Network, Bravo, and A&E. As the Dish, Sony, and other cloud services roll out—along with HBO Go and some other premiums—I sense a monthly bill that eclipses what I now pay for cable. Factor in Hulu Plus and Netflix, and the bank is broken.

    For the time being, fighting the cord—at least for me—is a losing battle.

    Photo via Mark Fickett/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Jon Stewart is a consummate professional, but Benedict Cumberbatch somehow got him to act like a total fanboy.

    When Cumberbatch went on The Daily Show on Tuesday night to promote his new film The Imitation Game, Stewart had to gush over the actor's charm and talent. In between serious discussion about Cumberbatch's character Alan Turing and the real-life story behind the movie, Stewart essentially outed himself as Cumberbatch's number-one fanboy among TV hosts. Listening to Cumberbatch intelligently discusss Turing and what makes us human only deepened Stewart's love for him.

    "I have a lot of guests on the show," Stewart said. "You're the first guest where… I want to rip your clothes off and sell it on eBay."

     

    Kim Kardashian might not have broken the Internet, but if Cumberbatch struck a similar pose, Stewart suggested, the actor just might do it.

    H/T The Hollywood Reporter | Screengrab via The Daily Show


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