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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    No matter how much we reinvent the world through film, we’re probably only telling a limited number of stories.

    On paper, mixing a few hundred films together shouldn’t work in telling some sort of cohesiveness. But GameOvais Productions did just that, and along with more destruction and explosions than a Michael Bay picture there’s always that human element—even when the characters we root for are not.

    Is there a plot? It’s hard to tell as we’re trying to figure out which movies are included in the mega trailer (GameOvais has a full list on Vimeo). It’s something incredible to watch regardless.

    H/T Digg | Screengrab via GameOvais/Vimeo

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    With more than 5 million downloads and streams, hit podcast Serial's  unprecedented success spurred speculation about the future of the medium. What stunning feat of storytelling would capture our attention next?

    A new podcast is now topping the iTunes charts. NPR’s Invisibilia, a compelling, thoughtful look at our unseeable world, debuted on Jan. 9 and edged Serial out of its reigning position at No. 1.

    Invisibilia, produced by Lulu Miller of Radiolab and Alix Spiegel of This American Life, is a podcast about all the things we can’t see, like fear or thoughts. Each episode tackles a new invisible article and, through carefully crafted stories, examines how they affect our daily lives.

    The stories released thus far are truly fascinating: a blind man believes blind people can see, a woman is incapable of feeling fear, a newlywed is taken prisoner by his thoughts, a man was trapped in his body for 12 years. But, unlike Serial, the podcast doesn’t ask us to focus on characters or even get to know anyone in particular for very long. Rather, these people are present only to illustrate ideas and concepts, to edge us further into the world of questions and possibilities.

    In the first episode of the podcast, “The Secret History of Thoughts,” hosts Miller and Spiegel ask strangers what they are thinking about and relay a wide range of responses before delving into one man’s story of unwanted thoughts. In episode 2, “Fearless,” they hop from scientific to subject to self. 

    Perhaps what’s most disarming about the podcast is that unlike This American Life or Serial, whose tone tends to vary between grave and wry, Miller and Spiegel present as sensitive but upbeat. Together, they form an optimistic duo determined to find hopeful answers and rewarding outcomes. And, while they willingly admit what cannot be known, they’re comfortable with open speculation. In fact, they revel in it.

    In a quest to rid herself of her fear of snakes, Miller, nearly giggling, announces, “All right, Alix, so this music signals that we are going to leave the land of strict reporting and journey to the land of fact-based wild speculation.”

    “Your natural habitat,” replies Spiegel.

    “My natural habitat,” Miller agrees.

    There is a candor and openness to the reporting that enlivens the podcast, but what truly makes it so listenable is their joyful approach to the process of discovery. They truly want to know more about our world and the mysteries it contains, and rather than approaching the process with dry skepticism, they dig in with all the gusto of children clawing through dirt in a hands-on science experiment. After listening to an episode, you feel more alert, more awake to the molecules around you, infected with their awe for what our world is and what it can be.

    Those who guffawed at the notion that a golden age of podcasts is upon us may need to hold their tongues. Experienced reporters who honed their skills at This American Life and Radiolab are emerging to make their unique voices heard, and they may be able to surprise and dazzle us yet.

    New episodes of Invisibilia are released Thursdays on iTunes. Guest episodes can be heard on This American Life and Radiolab.

    Photo via Neil Krug (CC BY 2.0) 

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    Following the success of original series like Transparent, Amazon is going to start making movies as well.

    This move is an effort to stay competitive with Netflix, which also recently announced plans to produce its own movies. The most high-profile so far is the upcoming sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which will be released simultaneously in IMAX theaters and on Netflix.

    An Amazon press release explained that the model would be slightly different from Netflix, saying, "Whereas it typically takes 39 to 52 weeks for theatrical movies to premiere on subscription video services, Amazon Original Movies will premiere on Prime Instant Video in the U.S. just 4 to 8 weeks after their theatrical debut." In theory, this quick turnaround between theatrical release and VOD streaming could reduce online piracy.

    Amazon Studios vice president Roy Price revealed that they plan to make "close to twelve movies per year."

    Amazon and Netflix have both succeeded in persuading well-known industry figures to work on their original programming, such as Amazon's recent decision to produce a TV show by Woody Allen and Netflix's star-studded House of Cards. It seems likely that Amazon's original movie content will go a similar route, although no specific projects have been announced as of yet.

    Photo via Transparent/YouTube

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    A Tony Award-winning production just gave fans an extremely behind the scenes look with the help of a GoPro.

    Bryce Pinkham, the lead in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, strapped a camera to his head during a rehearsal to show viewers what it's really like to perform on a Broadway stage

    The clip combines what Pinkham sees as he sings the rousing—and logistically complicated—"I've Decided to Marry You," and then included a clip of what the scene looks like from the audience's perspective. 

    Besides definitely being unable to see a single person in the audience thanks to those lights, this particular sequence is dizzying. It's a wonder Pinkham can keep his head on straight, GoPro or no-pro.

    Screengrab via A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder/YouTube

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    Hope is dead and life is terrible, because yet another sappy viral video has been debunked.

    In the never-ending quest for a viral moment, Maroon 5 apparently surprised unsuspecting brides and grooms on their wedding days to create the video for the band's new single "Sugar." As the video went viral, one thought tugged at everyone's minds: these glossy images and pitch-perfect reactions were too good to be true.

    Indeed, the video was far too good to be true. It was a hoax.

    One intrepid Jezebel blogger pointed out that one of the "brides" was America's Next Top Model contestant Raina Hein, who is not married. From there, the whole house of cards began to crumble.

    TheSixThirty spotted more actors mixed into the wedding shoot, including Nico Evars-Swindell and Eric Satterberg. Then the two older actors hired to play the parents at the Asian wedding blew the lid off the whole affair, posting on Facebook that it was entirely staged and shot at the same location over a three-day period.

    Sadly, Maroon 5 tried to pass off the whole affair as legit, and many outlets bought the story without any question. 

    “Only the grooms knew in each case,” a representative for Maroon 5 told Entertainment Tonight. “The band is not sure if the grooms' disclosed it to their bride and wedding party."

    Next time, Maroon 5 should either write stricter NDAs or pick less-recognizable actors for lingering camera shots.

    H/T Jezebel | Screengrab via Maroon5VEVO/YouTube

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    Kool-Aid commercials never explain why the sugary drink's iconic pitcher-shaped mascot, has to burst through brick walls to reach kids with his delicious beverages. Thanks to the powers of science and YouTube, however, we now know that the feat is not physically impossible, but rather, merely impractical.

    VSauce3's Jake Roper investigated the physics of those iconic advertisements to see if the Kool-Aid Man could actually burst through brick walls. By Roper's calculations, a 6-foot-tall Kool-Aid Man would have thick enough glass to both break through a standard brick wall and safely withstand the impact.

    There's just one complication: If you consider the Kool-Aid inside his pitcher body to be the equivalent of his blood, then the Man would likely lose so much of it while bursting through the wall that he would be too dizzy to say his catchphrase. Furthermore, he'd only manage to make it through one wall before beginning to fracture his glass; another hit would likely compromise his structure.

    To resolve this problem, the Kool-Aid Man would have to invest in some laminated glass, the same kind they use to reinforce windshields on cars. Or, as Roper suggests, he could just use the door.

    H/T AVClub | Screengrab VSauce3/YouTube

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    Season 2 of Broad City finally returned last week, and we're all breathing a little easier. (And a little deeper. Wink, nudge, cough. Dude.) 

    The character of Lincoln, Ilana's dentist booty call (played by comedian Hannibal Buress), often decimates a scene with a subtle one-liner, and in the season 2 premiere, we learned that in addition to loving dogs, he has a blog devoted to pasta called The Al Dente Dentist

    The Tumblr actually exists, offering real pasta recipes with actual meatball ratings that you have to read in Lincoln's voice. From the recipe for "Xmas Leftover Pasta": 

    Every year our receptionist clears my schedule for the necessary three-day head start for Christmas cooking. This year I didn’t go outside for 49 straight hours (which weirdly is exactly how many recorded hours of Tori Amos I own, so that’s good.) Anyway, this Sunday’s pasta is a quick n easy recipe from #3 on my celeb crush list: Rachael Ray. Rachel, if you’re reading: I know you see my tweets. ;)


    1) Throw all your leftover meat in a pan for five min with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil. But after I use it it’s just olive oil LOL)
    2) Chop up whatever veggies you can find.
    3) Salt n peppa that baby. Add a dash of cinnamon.
    4) Cook for ten.
    5) Mix in that pasta.

    He also enlightens us on the intricacies of lasagna (the "birthday cake of pasta") and the dangers of squid ink pasta. How is Ilana not putting a ring on this? 

    We're still waiting for a dish incorporating titty chips. 

    H/T Vulture | Photo via Comedy Central 

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    If you happened to catch CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, you got a sense of the financial struggles the '90s R&B trio endured, even as the band's debut went multiplatinum. 

    A new TLC album hasn't been released since 2002's 3D, but remaining members Chilli and T-Boz (third member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes died in 2002) spoke of a new album back in 2009. Over the weekend, the duo took to Kickstarter to fund its latest—and final—album. TLC is looking for $150,000 by Feb. 19, so it can make the final album on the band's terms. 

    As the Kickstarter page explains:  

    Our final album will stay true to the TLC sound, always confronting the real issues and life experiences that we all must face every single day, everywhere. We write music that people relate to...timeless music. No matter the trends, we feel like our music is always relevant. 
    You'll always have a guy hanging out the passenger side! 
    And sometimes you'll feel damn unpretty!
    We will continue to make music for EVERYONE, music that's UNIVERSAL, TOUCHABLE.
    This final album will be the first studio album by the two of us. Of course, Lisa's spirit will always be present in our music. That will never change.

    There are the usual perks if you contribute, but a $50 donation gets you a TLC "dance school," in which you can learn dance moves from TLC videos. 

    For $2,000, you can take a workout class with Chilli. For $5,000, you can have a SLEEPOVER with either T-Boz in L.A. or Chilli in Atlanta, complete with some #TLCPillowTalk. 

    Sixteen-year-old me is screaming. 

    H/T Jezebel | Photo via Kickstarter 

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    After Amber Rose was all like "Kim Kardashian who?" and broke the Internet with a series of jaw-dropping string-bikini photos, she's apparently gotten some notes of disapproval from wet blankets who think the hip-hop artist and model is a bad mother for those nearly nude Instagram pics.

    Here's Rose's hilarious, moderately NSFW response: "Kiss my MILFY ass bitches."

    If anything, it proves her haters just haven't been paying attention. Amber Rose's Instagram has always been raunchy as hell. In between photos of her son, Sebastian, with hubby Wiz Khalifa, that feed is all booty all the time. Maybe it's just the media attention people can't stand.

    Photo via Amber Rose/Facebook

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    Elves, goblins, magic potions, and the meaning of true love are at the center of George Lucas’s latest film, Strange Magic. An animated musical inspired by William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the movie has an impressive cast of voice actors bringing its characters to life.

    Lucas told press at an event Friday that he knew he wanted actor Elijah Kelley to play the role of the elf Sunny. Kelley previously worked with Lucas on the World War II–era film Red Tails.

    “I feel very, very honored that he [Lucas] wanted me to bring something of his passion of over 15 years to life. That’s a big mantle to carry when somebody like G.L. calls on you,” Kelley told the Daily Dot.

    Kelley said even if the role had been horrible he wouldn’t have passed on the opportunity to play the part, but luckily that’s not the case.

    “It’s actually an incredible piece of material and Sunny is an incredible person, an incredible character in that animated world,” he explained. “He’s a fighter, he’s courageous, he’s resilient, he’s very smart, very charming, very witty. He’s very like me!”

    The film includes a wide range of music from the last six decades, all with a twist to make the songs fit into the fantasy world. The cast recorded more than 400 songs for consideration.

    “[Lucas] had some favorite songs that had been redone and recut and every time he just feels like he gets better and better and better and better. A lot of people don’t have that mentality, a lot of people just want to stick to the old script but we can’t progress like that, so the fact that we were able to do mashups and new versions of these particular songs and different renditions—speed them up, slow them down, we got a little bit of Beyoncé in there. It’s beautiful how those things mesh together,” he said.

    All of the lyrics help tell the story of two very different worlds coming together as they learn a little something about real love. While there are a few different messages kids and adults can take away from the film, Kelley hopes those who see it learn about fighting for what you want.

    “Fight for what you believe in. Fight for what you feel you deserve,” Kelley said. “If you really feel you deserve to be in love you should fight for that love, and I don’t think anything should stand in the way of that.”

    The music and meanings in the film were also discussed by other members of the cast during a press conference late last week. For actor Sam Palladio, who voices Roland and can currently be seen on ABC’s Nashville, the music is something in particular he hopes both young and old take away from the film.

    “You go back to Frankie Valli that Roland sings and Elvis songs and it really is this fantastic journey through the decades of music. You know, I hadn’t heard much Electric Light Orchestra before this, so we’re discovering these new genres and old bands,” he said. “There’s so much great stuff out there that this movie does really link together and I hope will encourage young and old to either go back into their LPs or to get on iTunes and download an Elvis’ greatest hits or something.”

    One of the voices audience members will hear the most in the film is that of Evan Rachel Wood, who plays the tough fairy princess Marianne. She was drawn to the character by the many way she felt she could relate.

    “She was a tomboy, sword fighting, kind of a rocker. She was a fairy with an edge. She was the anti-fairy princess, but at the core sweet, and just like everyone else wants to find love, wants to be seen, wants to be known, wants someone to love her for who she is and not try to make her into something that she’s not,” Wood said.

    Wood and the other cast members agreed that the song “Strange Magic,” which lends the movie its name, was their favorite from the film. In the movie, Wood’s character sings it as a duet with the Bog King, voiced by actor Alan Cumming. When it comes to messages Wood hopes gets through to audiences though, it’s something more than the music.

    “One of the main messages is if you’ve ever felt like a black sheep or different or weird or unloveable is to not be afraid of those things about yourself... the things that make you different and unique are the things that make you the most beautiful and special,” she said. “You don’t have to be afraid of it. And not judging a book by its cover and really getting to know somebody and loving them for who they are. Finding love in unexpected places. They’re all really good messages.”

    Strange Magic will arrive in theaters Friday.

    Illustration via Lucasfilm

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    “We’re talking Selma, Ferguson, and Eric Garner,” Larry Wilmore said at the beginning of his first episode of The Nightly Show. “It’s Comedy Central’s worst nightmare: A brother finally gets a show on late-night TV!”

    From his first moments on TV, Wilmore made it clear that he wasn't going to do another Colbert Report, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. So far, Wilmore and Stephen Colbert only share the timeslot and the studio they filmed in. While Colbert's right-wing persona was wacky and outrageous, Wilmore promised his audience that he would “keep it 100 percent real” every night—he even had the stickers to prove it.

    The former Senior Black Correspondent for The Daily Show has big shoes to fill, both in his timeslot and with his lead-in from Jon Stewart. As it’s only the first show, Wilmore and his staff will undoubtedly tweak plenty of things, but so far he and his show are fitting in nicely.

    Wilmore's textbook dry humor was back front and center as he riffed on current events during the first part of his show. As the show's original title, The Minority Report, suggested, Wilmore isn't afraid to focus on racial issues. Sitting at a long table instead of a desk, he was quick to point how not awesome everything was, particularly with that Lego Movie snub and reports as recently as Monday that Florida cops used black people’s mugshots for their target practice. Wilmore also wasn't afraid to make fun of Al Sharpton or take multiple shots at Gandhi on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

    At this point, his show diverged from the format of its predecessors (and Stewart before him). Following the first commercial break, Wilmore moderated a panel of guests to discuss a specific topic. He said he would regularly use the rest of his show after the first break to moderate panels about one or multiple topics.

    Wilmore promised to feature voices that aren’t usually heard on other shows, and on his first show he talked about racism and recent protests with Nightly Show correspondent Shenaz Treasury, New Jersey senator Corey Booker, rapper Talib Kweli, and actor Bill Burr, who was in Black or White, a movie that dealt with race.

    We've seen panels go awry on plenty of cable news shows before—they often become fodder for Stewart at that point—but Wilmore's panel was positively civilized. They might not have come to a conclusion, and they had issues talking over each other, but the wide range of views was refreshing to see—and Wilmore, the panelists, and the viewers might have even learned something from it.

    As the show grows and evolves, and Wilmore and his crew get more comfortable with the process, they'll continue to keep it 100 percent real. With fans being able to ask Wilmore a question every night on set topics like Bill Cosby and his staff’s question about his last racist thought, things are bound to get uncomfortable—and that’s probably the way the show wants it.

    Screengrab via The Nightly Show/Comedy Central

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    Jessie J can most certainly sing her way out of a box—and in one too.

    As a child, she used to impress people at auditions by pretending she was in a box and being able to talk coherently. It sounds like she’s trapped in a bubble or a balloon, but you can still understand what she’s saying. Now that she's older, Jessie J has expanded her talent and can actually sing with her mouth closed, which she gladly demonstrated on a recent episode of The Graham Norton Show.

    You've never heard “Bang Bang” like this before.

    While Jessie J probably won’t show off this trick at a concert, she could probably bring it out as a guest vocal on her next song.

    Screengrab via BBC/YouTube

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    Benedict Cumberbatch has the most typically British-sounding name most Americans have heard in recent years, and he's bound to hear it butchered a few times at the Academy Awards, where he’s nominated for his first Oscar. Like a guardian angel, Jimmy Kimmel swooped in and offered him an alternate reality.

    What if he weren't named Benedict Cumberbatch? Would you still talk to him? At Kimmel's urging, Cumberbatch visits a bar and tries out numerous names, from the ordinary to the weird. He gets the same result almost every time, thanks to his accent and his smile. Whatever name he has, he’s still ultimately Cumberbatch.

    The star of The Imitation Game regrettably missed a great opportunity to try out Kimmel’s name, but perhaps the charm of it would have been too much for people to handle.

    Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

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    Eternally youthful actor Rob Lowe took some time out from his weird DirecTVcommercials on Monday night to appear on Conan, where he delighted the audience with a wonderful tale about a dildo factory. 

    Lowe's quickly cancelled 2003 show The Lyon's Den, which was supposed to be his follow-up to The West Wing, was apparently shot in a warehouse next to a dildo factory.  

    Conan O'Brien's sidekick Andy Richter, who appeared in an episode of the show, confirmed this tidbit, adding that the day he filmed his scenes, the hills around the studio were ablaze. 

    "The dildo people were running for the hills," Lowe added. 

    Admit it: You'd watch an entire series of Rob Lowe's dildo factory memories. 

    Screengrab via Team Coco/YouTube 

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    As if you needed more reasons to love Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, last night the ladies of Broad City appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live dressed as Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels from Dumb and Dumber

    Yes, of course they wore the tuxedos

    It was sort of an awkward interview—Kimmel says something about how their parents must be worried about them—but that was only heightened by their outfits. They also teased Wednesday's episode and Jacobson's extended nude scene. Get excited. 

    You should also watch this deleted scene from last week's episode. 

    Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube 

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    Now we have a reason for all of Justin Bieber’s antics over the last year: He was giving comedians material for an upcoming Comedy Central roast.

    Even after Comedy Central quit televising actual New York Friars Club roasts of comedy legends to produce a series featuring targets like Pamela Anderson and James Franco, the concept had a veneer of entertainment value. Now you can kiss it goodbye.

    Fading pop star and walking sense of entitlement Justin Bieber will take to an oversize throne to be ruthlessly insulted by Jeff Ross and other stand-up comic ringers who don’t know him personally, all in front of an audience that will likely include Ryan Seacrest. (We can only surmise that the American Idol host is assuming roastmaster duties.)

    The ratings-bonanza special—nothing sells like schadenfreude—will air on March 7. And if you find yourself somewhat excited despite your better judgment, allow us to remind you that Bieber is capable of ruining basketball games, Calvin Klein underwear ads, and even the Great Wall of China. Presiding over an unwatchable Comedy Central program should be a cinch.

    Photo by Joe Bielawa/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Marvel's Captain America: Civil War won't be out for another year yet, but the gloves are already off for Captain America himself, Chris Evans. 

    Evans—a long proclaimed New England Patriots supporter—took to Twitter to inform fellow Marvel star Chris Pratt, a diehard Seattle Seahawks fan, that they are enemies for the next two weeks until their respective football teams face off in Super Bowl XLIX. 

    Do you think Star-Lord is going to take that unchallenged? Of course not. Pratt came back with an impressive level of sass, saying that the Seahawks' quarterback Russell Wilson is the real the real Captain America. 

    The jab only proves to put Evans in more of a fighting mood. He's now ready to make bets and has some questions about what a Seahawk is in the first place. 

    Pratt has yet to respond to Evans' rebuttal but stay tuned. If Captain America and Star-Lord are going to face off you know it can only be epic. 

    Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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    We’re still safe to get our Doctor Who fix on Netflix after a last-minute renewal with the BBC, but other shows and movies won’t be so lucky in February.

    That time of the month that signals the digital changing of the guard is soon upon us as our Netflix queues become a little lighter. Although we’ve got much of the BBC’s content staying and plenty of Oscar-nominated content to watch, you still need to prioritize these shows and films that won’t be with us much longer.

    1. Ali (2001)

    2. Airheads (1994)

    3. Apocalypse Now (1979)

    4. Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)

    5. Arbitrage (2012)

    6. A View to Kill (1985)

    7. Blackadder: Seasons 1-4 (1983-1989)

    8. Babes in Toyland (1961)

    9. Batman & Robin (1997)

    10. Batman Forever (1995)

    11. Batman Returns (1992)

    12. Cocoon: The Return (1998)

    13. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

    14. Down Periscope (1996)

    15. Dredd (2012)

    16. Fawlty Towers: Seasons 1-2 (1975-1977)

    17. For Your Eyes Only (1981)

    18. From Russia With Love (1963)

    19. Goldfinger (1964)

    20. Hotel Babylon: Seasons 1-4 (2006-2009)

    21. Jane Eyre (1983)

    22. Jem and the Holograms: Seasons 1-3 (1985-1988)

    23. Live and Let Die (1973)

    24. Mad Max (1979)

    25. M*A*S*H (1970)

    26. MI-5: Seasons 1-10 (2001-2011)

    27. Monkey Trouble (1994)

    28. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Seasons 1-4 (2010-2013)

    29. Nacho Libre (2006)

    30. Never Say Never Again (1983)

    31. Panic Room (2002)

    32. Pound Puppies: Seasons 1-3 (2010-2013)

    33. Red Dwarf: Seasons 1-9 (1988-2009)

    34. Revenge (1990)

    35. School Daze (1988)

    36. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (1990)

    37. The Juror (1996)

    38. Transformers Prime: Seasons 1-3 (2010-2013)

    39. Transformers: Rescue Bots (2011-2014)

    40. Wishmaster (1997)

    41. Zodiac (2007)

    H/T Decider | Photo via Bilal Kamoon (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed

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    If you're still hibernating for the winter, Netflix has a new crop of titles to sustain you until spring. Once you're done catching up on all the titles leaving at the end of the month, of course. 

    Some highlights: You can now watch five seasons of M*A*S*H, and Feb. 27 sees the debut of season 3 of House of Cards. Throw on your Snuggie and jump in. 

    Feb. 1

    1) Bleach the Movie: Hell Verse

    2) Dark Ride 

    3) Departures: Seasons 1­-2 

    4) Gimme Shelter 

    5) Gucci: The Director 

    6) Hot Pursuit 

    7) Houseboat 

    8) Into the Blue 2: The Reef 

    9) Joe

    10) King Arthur 

    11) Magic City: Seasons 1­-2 

    12) M*A*S*H: Seasons 1-­5 

    13) Naruto Shippuden: The Movie 

    14) Now: In the Wings on a World Stage 

    15) Proof 

    16) Spartacus: Complete Series 

    17) The Brothers Bloom 

    18) We Could Be King 

    19) We’re No Angels 

    20) Zapped 

    Feb. 5 

    21) The Little Rascals Save the Day

    Feb. 6 

    22) Ever After High: Spring Unsprung 

    23) Danger 5 

    Feb. 7 

    24) Dead Snow: Read vs. Dead 

    25) Elsa & Fred 

    Feb. 8 

    26) Blood Ties 

    27) Catch Hell 

    Feb. 10 

    28) Dwight Howard: In the Moment 

    Feb. 11 

    29) Mr. Peabody & Sherman 

    Feb. 12 

    30) Young Ones 

    31) The Two Faces of January 

    32) Scary Movie 5 

    Feb. 13 

    33) Mako Mermaids: Season 2 

    Feb. 16 

    34) Save the Date 

    Feb. 17

    35) The Overnighters 

    Feb. 18 

    36) Earth to Echo 

    37) In Secret 

    38) The Fluffy Movie 

    Feb. 19 

    39) White Bird in a Blizzard 

    Feb. 20 

    40) Richie Rich: Season 1

    Feb. 21 

    41) RoboCop 

    Feb. 24 

    42) Hawaii Five-­O: Seasons 1-­4 

    43) 1,000 Times Good Night 

    Feb. 26 

    44) Open Windows 

    45) Russell Brand: Messiah Complex 

    Feb. 27 

    46) Ralphie May: Unruly 

    47) House of Cards: Season 3 

    48) Boys 

    Photo via Esther Vargas (CC BY 2.0) 

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    An actor with a history of sexual abuse allegations and a criminal record of endangering a minor has been cast in the titular role in the long-running Broadway musical Phantom of the Opera, sparking widespread online outrage.

    Last week, producer Cameron Mackintosh announced that James Barbour, a 48-year-old Broadway veteran and star of such productions as Urinetown, A Tale of Two Cities, and Beauty and the Beast, would take over the role of the Phantom on Feb. 9. Barbour succeeds Norm Lewis, the first black actor to play the Phantom on Broadway.

    In 2006, Barbour was indicted on nine counts of sexual abuse, including engaging in criminal sexual acts, after a 15-year-old fan accused him of fondling her backstage after a production of the musical Jane Eyre in 2001.

    Barbour later told a judge that he had two other separate sexual encounters with the girl: Once at a restaurant, where he fondled her under a table, and once at his apartment, where they had oral sex. (Another alleged victim also reportedly came forward.) In 2008, Barbour pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a minor and was charged with a 60-day jail sentence and three years probation.

    Although Barbour has since been featured in a slew of regional theater productions and cast recordings, including the 2011 recording of Dracula: The Musical, his role as the Phantom marks his first appearance to Broadway since 2008, when he starred in A Tale of Two Cities.

    As one might expect, many Phantom devotees are unhappy with the casting decision. Chris Peterson, the editor-in-chief of the Broadway blog OnStage, posted a detailed timeline of the accusations against Barbour and urged fans to boycott the production.

    “We have come a long way, in a short period of time in properly addressing the reality and brutality that is sex abuse in this country,” Peterson wrote. “What the producers and [Phantom casting firm] Tara Rubin Casting have done is take a terrible step backward.”

    Fans also sounded off on the Broadway show’s Twitter and Facebook pages, taking Phantom's producers to task for their dubious casting choice and their insensitivity to sexual assault victims. Many also took issue with the fact that Barbour was cast as a romantic lead, sending a troubling message to young female fans of the show. 

    In response to the social media outcry, the Phantom producers issued the following statement on Facebook:

    Barbour, for his part, has not issued any public response to the criticism. He is, however, reportedly blocking fans who criticize him on Twitter.

    Phantom of the Opera opened on January 26, 1988, and has had more than 11,000 performances as of January 2015. It is the longest-running musical in Broadway history.

    H/T NBC New York | Photo via James Barbour/Facebook

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