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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Sometimes, a movie trailer is the perfect fit for the most unexpected soundtrack imaginable. For Avengers: Age of Ultron it was Céline Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," and for Star Wars: The Force Awakens it's the music from Top Gun.

    This awesome mashup trailer combines The Force Awakens with the classic 1980s guitar track, plus a Top Gun-style Star Wars logo. Obviously the peak moment is when Oscar Isaac's X-Wing pilot character appears, since he's obviously the Tom Cruise of this whole operation.

    There's only one problem here. What are we going to do when Star Wars: Rogue One comes out? As a movie all about X-Wing pilots, it actually is the franchise's answer to Top Gun. You have a year and a half to up your trailer mashup game, YouTube.

    Screengrab via Star Wars: The Force Awakens


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    Ellen DeGeneres announced on her show Wednesday that she is producing a Green Eggs and Ham TV series for Netflix, something sure to excite children and the children in many of us.

    Since the 13-episode cutting-edge animated show isn’t coming out until 2018, DeGeneres didn’t have many details to share on the show that combines her two favorite things: Dr. Seuss and binge-watching.

    It’s for the whole family, she said, and she even gave a little rhyme to demonstrate that point.

    You can watch it with a fox
    You can watch it on the rocks
    You can watch it without socks
    And I’m gonna leave the rhyming to Dr. Seuss.

    According to Variety, the show will continue the story and follow the various adventures of “some of its characters,” but A.V. Club’s Sam Barsanti isn’t entirely convinced. The book, while excellent, has only 50 words in it, and it gets pretty repetitive. And that’s before where the Netflix show would pick up.

    Green Eggs And Ham has about five characters, and that’s if you count the fox, goat, and mouse that Sam-I-Am and the other guy run into,” he wrote.

    We’re inclined to agree with him. It makes for a great children’s book, and it was adapted as part of the 1973 TV special Dr. Seuss on the Loose. But stretching it out into 13 episodes? Even taking into consideration that it’ll be mainly geared for children and not adults on yet another nostalgia kick, the concept is a bit thin.

    So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to scour through Theodor Geisel’s bibliography to see what else could make for better binge-worthy TV. After all, the magical minds of Hollywood took How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, already a beloved TV special, and stretched it out into a 104-minute movie starring Jim Carrey that wasn’t completely terrible. (The Cat in the Hat? Not so much.)

    1) Horton Hears a Who

    It was already made into a 2008 feature film starring Carrey and Steve Carell, but a new series could expand into their world, their politics, and even the Mayor of Whoville’s family life. (Things must get kooky with 96 daughters and a son named JoJo.) Now safe, they can get back to some sense of normalcy while the jungle’s animals seek to protect them—and can make a few cameos.

    A person’s a person, no matter how small (a part they may play in Whoville).

    2) The Lorax

    The film adaptation ends differently than the book, with the Once-ler’s reunion with the Lorax (and many more characters), leading to a realm of possibilities for the town and the creatures of the forest.

    3) If I Ran the Zoo

    A zoo owner’s child’s imagination runs wild while he or she roams around the zoo growing up and gets into mini-adventures with friends. Kind of like Rugrats but with more exotic animals.

    4) The Butter Battle Book

    This adaptation would need a name change, but putting two groups of people and having them work together despite their differences would create plenty of conflict—and lessons along the way.

    5) The Cat in the Hat

    Another adaptation of Seuss’s most famous story would be worth it to see how his own community handles him and his trickster ways—and whether he actually suffers any consequences. Plus you have Thing 1 and Thing 2 to lead the B-plot.

    H/T A.V. Club | Photo via Michael Senchuk/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    One Russian advertising agency found a way to mesh dashcam videos with viewer impatience to create a powerful ad. It's one that gets its point across while playing with the mechanics of YouTube itself.

    This video mimics typical dashcam footage—but if you watch the whole 10 minutes all you see is an unexciting drive around town. However, if you get impatient and scrub forward in the video, you see a head-on collision with an oncoming truck.

    The Russian ad is in effect a flip book, with single images of the truck collision embedded at the specific timestamps where YouTube pulls stills from, so that it lives up to its title of "MOST TERRIBLE FATAL CAR CRASH EVER." The ad's message about slowing down was created for Intouch, an insurance group.

    Playing on impatience could be a great new sneaky ad technique. Fast-forwarding though cat videos could sell you kitty litter, or fail videos that sell you bandages. The possibilities are endless.

    H/T Tubefilter | Screengrab via Lobach Lobachev/YouTube


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    It’s been a peaceful couple of months since Fifty Shades of Grey took over movie theaters and the Internet. Our inboxes have been relatively clear of Fifty Shades PR pitches lately, the thinkpieces have dissipated from our feeds, and we’ve only heard small peeps from the stars ever since Dakota Johnson starred in a controversial Saturday Night Live sketch.

    But like Christian Grey himself, the blockbuster franchise has a way of creeping back into our world.

    The latest aggravation comes in the form of a teaser for the film's sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, which doesn’t even come out until 2017, included as Fifty Shades of Grey Blu-ray extra. It’s 29 seconds of a black screen, white text, and a mirror shot of Jamie Dornan as he puts on a mask, a callout to the mask on the novel’s cover.

    Even the biggest Fifty Shades fans couldn't make much of this. But as with all great teasers, we have so many questions.

    “Are you ready for something darker?”

    It’s the main question asked of us in the teaser, and it falls in line with recent comments from Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley, who said that Fifty Shades Darker will be “more of a thriller.”

    If you thought the first Fifty Shades is a comparative barrel of sunshine and wanted something... darker? Then buckle up. At the very least, Fifty Shades Darker involves Anastasia being stalked by one of Christian’s former submissives and a former boss out for revenge.

    But for those covering the Fifty Shades phenomenon? We’re already having nightmares about the incoming pitches.

    Why is Christian getting dressed up and putting on a mask?

    He’s likely prepping for a masquerade ball at his parents’ house—you know, totally normal-people stuff. And if he used it in the bedroom afterwards, it wouldn’t surprise us at all.

    Doesn’t he look like a bit of a serial killer?

    You might be mistaking Christian Grey for Paul Spector, the serial killer from The Fall. Considering Dornan plays both characters (and admitted to stalking a girl to get into the latter role), that’s perfectly understandable. 

    There’s something positively creepy about his stare, though, and Christian, who’s gone to some creepy and manipulative measures, isn’t entirely innocent in his relationship with Ana. He’s never killed anyone—but he's done plenty of other questionable things.

    Is this the best thing Jamie Dornan's done in this series?

    Given the screenplay and source material, critics praised Johnson's portrayal of Anastasia Steele, but they weren't nearly as kind to Dornan. Considering he doesn't say or do much here, though, it might be his finest moment in the franchise.

    Will we actually see that footage in Fifty Shades Darker?

    The footage was likely shot specifically for the Blu-ray release, and since we’ll have to wait until 2017 for the sequel, we won’t know for years. Universal Pictures owns the movie rights to the film, so reusing the footage is likely not an issue.

    And if not? It's a single shot. Production could totally redo that.

    What about filming?

    We’re not sure, and that’s because production is in disarray right now. Screenwriter Kelly Marcel and director Sam Taylor-Johnson both left the franchise in February after reportedly clashing with Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James on set. Universal has yet to find a new director, but although James wanted to write the screenplay herself, the job went to her husband, Niall Leonard, a screenwriter in his own right.

    With Leonard onboard, perhaps James’s concerns about the movie’s faithfulness will be calmed.

    Will we want to break our computer screens again?

    If the movie doesn’t do it, the exhaustive press tour will.

    Screengrab via MOVIECLUB Trailers/YouTube


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    Finding out you have two vaginas is a shock, but one young woman shared it so candidly on her YouTube channel that it's generating massive attention.

    Cassandra Blankson started her channel in 2010 to discuss being a model with acne, and her success and struggles with treatment, coverup, and self-confidence. She shares this with her 772,000 subscribers, but last year she shared something even more personal: The discovery of a second vagina.

    Although the video was uploaded nine months ago, it's just now getting attention on the Web. In the 14-minute clip she discusses how an MRI hoping to diagnose intense back pain related to her kidneys revealed the double vagina. 

    "'You have a partial duplex [kidney] on one side, and as I suspect you have two vaginas,'" Blankson explained, quoting her doctor. "I looked at her like, 'what?'"

    Blankson has two uteri, two cervixes, two fallopian tubes, and just one vaginal opening inside. The condition occurs often when people only have one kidney, according to her doctors. Blankson thinks the double vagina has contributed to her hormones, bad and irregular periods, and other issues. She revealed she has two periods, sometimes simultaneously, and can still have children but might require a C-section and will likely produce twins or higher multiples.

    It's back to business as usual for the young YouTuber, who's recently uploaded makeup tips and shopping hauls to her channel, no uteri discussion in sight.

    H/T Mirror | Screengrab via DiamondsAndHeels14/YouTube


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    There’s nothing like the soothing feeling of unboxing something—or the potential for rage that emerges when a boxer tries to do it.

    Jimmy Kimmel thought it would be funny to give Mike Tyson a shot at the YouTube trend with a Strawberry Shortcake, a children's toy that is the opposite of the famous boxer in every way. And since he wasn’t given any tools to aid him in his unboxing, things got a little violent.

    With a plastic container, tape, and all those twist ties holding the doll and her accessories in place, it’s a cruel fate for Tyson, but he messily pushes through.

    Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube


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    Crazy as they sound, some of the things that you may have heard about Australia are actually true. It is, for example, filled with dangerous things—we once had this type of snake living in our car for over a week—and there are kangaroos everywhere. I took this photo through my kitchen window.

    And while the existence of a pipeline between Summer Bay and Hollywood is currently disputed, it can’t be denied that Australians are overrepresented within the arts. 

    And so it should come as no surprise that the webseries from Down Under are great as well. Here’s the pick of the bunch. 

    1) How to Talk Australians

    Do you want to know why Australia has disowned Mel Gibson? Some may confidently point to unsavory proclamations in police cars or increasingly erratic behavior toward family members—reasons enough to allow a country to disassociate with someone who wasn't even from there anyway

    But Aussie or not, he still once possessed that distinctive accent, strong enough to require redubbing in the U.S. version of Mad Max—who could possibly fathom the meaning of windscreen anyway?—which has gradually eroded over time. And that is the real reason: Australians hate this. Probably because it is the most outward sign that someone has consciously chosen to leave that remote island in their wake.

    So if you ever want to endear yourself to that favorite Australian in your life you need only do the opposite of Mel and pick up some of the country’s slang or start finishing each sentence with an upward inflection. Which brings us to How to Talk Australians, a mock instructional series from the “Delhi College of Linguistics.” Unless you’re a bludger, it will have you speaking like Nick “The Honey Badger” Cummins by sarvo. Just like a real happy little Vegemite. (And yeah, Coon cheese is a thing.)

    2) Dayne’s World

    Feel free to waste your time wondering just how “real” Dayne Rathbone is, but here’s a warning: All that thinking will just distract you from what he has achieved with his bewilderingly off-beat series, Dayne’s World. And besides, who cares? All art is in some way performative; here it might just be a little more oblique. 

    In his email interview last year with the Daily Dot Rathbone remained elusive when asked if the series was an accurate representation of his life: “YES or NO because I also do a lot of other things what arent even in the show. My favorite is reading Sam Harris and playing DotA. Plus Mike [Nayna, director] said ‘I dont know if i believe him’ but I sead why would I waist my own Aurora red hand flare!” 

    Sums it all up, really.

    3) The Katering Show

    Food programs have always been the softcore versions of eating—all titillation and no money shot—serving only to compel viewers to seek out the real thing. Which seems unnecessary, frustrating, and, frankly, grounds enough to be pilloried. 

    Which is where Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan’s The Katering Show shines: spoofing a ubiquitous format that doesn't ever really give us what it promises. And better yet, it does it with a wit and whimsy far removed from the po-faced purveyors (the great Keith Floyd excepted) of the differing ways to satiate an essential bodily urge.

    Still not convinced? Just read their very funny interview with the Daily Dot.

    4) Warren & Hal

    Warren and Hal work in the marketing “space,” which is obviously fertile ground for comedic japes, especially if the practitioners are horribly out of their depth and oblivious to their shortcomings. 

    But willful delusion isn’t the only thing going on here. Each episode is snappy and lean, and there is some nice meta-tinkering with the format, even screwing with what I like to call a “Larry Tate moment”—those neat episode tie-ups whereby an objectively terrible business idea is inexplicably embraced by the client.

    Anyway, talking about Larry Tate, according to this guy he’s a reptile. Or has one in his tooth. Or something. 

    5) Altruman

    It’s tough to make cancer funny. And while Altrumandoesn’t exactly try to do that, the series is filled with so much warmth and gentle humor that it softens a subject that otherwise could be (to the point of avoidance) harrowing. 

    The series is centered around a superhero who has just found out that he has testicular cancer, and its premise is a question that the truly selfless might encounter as they contemplate their own mortality: Couldn’t I have done more for me?

    Sure, not a thought most of us will ever have the need (or more accurately, right) to ponder, but you know what, I’ve got way too much on my plate at the moment to be encumbered by these sort of big questions anyway. 

    Screengrab via How to Talk Australians/YouTube


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    Black Widow is an expert at hiding her true motive, but when it comes to being able to lie under pressure, Scarlett Johansson—the actress who plays her—isn’t anywhere near as successful.

    In “Box of Lies,” a segment on The Tonight Show, all semblance of common sense goes out the door as Johansson and Jimmy Fallon fib, lie, fake out, and fake out a fake out. The items they’re trying to describe (or not) are as weird as ever, leading Johansson to ask if something Fallon described was designed by Wiz Khalifa.

    We already know Fallon has trouble keeping a straight face, but at this point we can only wonder if it’s just a giant ruse to snatch victory from his opponent. Or is Johansson’s inability to not laugh an equal ruse? Either way, don't trust anyone when you're playing a game against someone who’s played a spy.

    Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    The Daily Show said farewell to its longest-running correspondent in a fitting and heartfelt tribute on Thursday night.

    Jon Stewart weaved some humor into his speech as he praised Samantha Bee for all of the work she had done since joining the show in 2003, but he largely let her—and some of her biggest clips throughout the years—bring the laughs and the discomfort.

    Bee's not the only one to leave recently, with her husband Jason Jones departing last month. We're not sure how the show will fill the Samantha Bee-sized hole she’s leaving behind.

    As she noted to a radio host she interviewed, if she can make a bigot realize that he’s a bigot, she’s done her job.

    When Bee came onstage after the montage, all she could do was hold back tears as she and Stewart hugged it out. Sometimes, there are no words.

    Screengrab via The Daily Show


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    It's been a turbulent couple of months for One Direction fans and their worlds are about to get turned upside down once again. Former boy band member Zayn Malik has removed the "1D" from his Twitter handle and now the masses of Directioners are tweeting using #YouWillAlwaysBeZaynMalik1D.

    In an effort to shed the pop prince image, Zayn has gone from @ZaynMalik1D to @ZaynMalik on Twitter. (Wait, how did nobody already have @ZaynMalik though?)

    The crooner announced his departure from the group in March and recently stepped out at the 2015 Asian Awards with a new haircut that had fans fanning themselves.

    On Thursday, Malik also tweeted out this cryptic message:

    Looks like someone's been studying some Socrates. Or possibly some new song lyrics? We'll have to wait to find out.

    Malik/One Direction lovers are having mixed feelings about his departure. Some think Zayn should go back to the cohort known for hits like "Story of My Life" and "What Makes You Beautiful". Others think One Direction should just let him go.

    Looks like some clever tweeters are even using their Photoshopping abilities in this time of change.

    Meanwhile, his former band members are up to other important things.

    H/T Billboard | Photo via YouTube/OneDirectionVEVO


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    If you cringe when you see people’s impeccably lit brunch photos in your Instagram feed, the new TV show Food Porn will likely make your fists clench. 

    Its existence, however, proves that there are actually people who would watch this show, which will be executive-produced by former Real Housewives star Bethenny Frankel. The show’s 14-episode run was announced during this week’s Upfronts as part of lifestyle channel FYI’s programming slate. 

    NYC restaurant owner Michael Chernow will host the show, traveling “across the U.S. to meet today’s tastemakers—the everyday people behind the delicious online posts—and discover what made the meal so distinctive and worthy to share online. The series will also go beyond just the photo, as Michael will meet with the chefs and restaurants responsible for creating the dishes to find out what’s in them and why they are insanely popular.” 

    Frankel remarked, “I am excited to be a part of a series that will showcase the decadence and obsession people have with sharing their food online.” And there’s some actual science behind why people are so obsessed with looking at and posting those photos. 

    FYI also just greenlit a new show about spouse-swapping. 

    Photo via jeffreyw/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    BY MEGAN VICK

    Get your tissues ready. Taylor Swift hired a new backup dancer and he filmed his phone call to tell his mom he got the gig of a lifetime. 

    "I feel so lucky to get to perform alongside people who love it this much," Swift tweets along the almost five-minute video of her dancer and his mom crying over the phone. 

    All you can see is the young man holding his phone, but you can hear the exuberance in his mother's reaction when she finds out her son has booked a world tour—and then somehow manages to bump it up a notch when she finds out it's Swift's world tour. 

    "Robert! ROBERT!!" she yells before weeping and spending a few minutes explaining how proud of her son she is and so happy that all of his work has finally paid off. It's a video of a young man achieving his dream and getting to share that with a mom who couldn't be happier for her son—and it's beautiful. 

    Screengrab via Robert Green/YouTube 


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    Larry Wilmore took The Nightly Show to Baltimore on Thursday for a sit-down chat over some pie with former rival gang members, who entered a truce—or is it a treaty?—earlier this week to help bring their communities together.

    The discussion brings a sense of levity to the events of the past week, when news organizations, skeptical white people, and fans of The Wire failed to do what Wilmore so easily demonstrates: Listen (and get in a few good zingers).  

    One of the men told Wilmore, “I was walkin’, and we were all in a pack… and one of the Blood homies, they stepped on my shoe. And I looked at him, and I was like, ‘Yo. You know three days ago I’d have hit you in your mouth for that?” Wilmore shot back, “And three days from now, things may be back to normal. You can hit him in his mouth again.” The group of men assured Wilmore that they are good, though they can’t speak for the rest of America’s gangs.

    The conversation explored the complexities of living in Baltimore and the conditions that lead to gang violence, to which Wilmore related by explaining the intricacies of property taxes on his million-dollar house.

    Jokes aside, they urged Americans to never give up once Friday’s “police verdict” comes in, because “that’s not the last investigation.”

    Since this aired, Freddie Gray’s death was ruled a homicide, and six officers were charged.

    Even if the gang doesn’t have a corporate credit card, I’m sure it can expense the diner. After all, this was more or less a business meeting.

    Screengrab via The Nightly Show/Comedy Central


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    An app franchise with more than 2.5 billion downloads is now headed for full-on YouTube series fame, and it all revolves around a talking cat.

    Launched in 2010, the Talking Tom app lets users interact with an animated cat named Tom, getting him to repeat what you say as a chatbot. It's been followed by a variety of apps—14 in all—that flesh out other characters and ways for users to interact with these creatures. 

    From the start, the apps have allowed users to generate their own videos of what they're having Tom do, leading to numerous clips of the cat singing Lady Gaga and one with 17 million views that's just called "the annoying song." In fact, half the YouTube views of content featuring their characters are user-generated. That kind of popularity led Outfit7 Limited, the company behind Tom, to develop their own YouTube series about the cat and his cast of friends.

    The series includes 52 11-minute episodes chronicling the life of Tom and his gang as they navigate the world of friendship, career, and much more. The first episode sets up Tom and his dog buddy Ben as app developers themselves, a pretty meta joke that might go over the heads of the youngest of fans. The show taps into voice talent from the likes Colin Hanks, Maria Bamford, and Lisa Schwartz, as well as Tom Kenny, most famous for being the voice of Spongebob Squarepants. The cast was on hand at the YouTube Space L.A. to celebrate the series premiere and answer some hard-hitting questions, like who Hanks took inspiration from in the role of Tom.

    "I went to a hardcore meditation camp," joked Hanks. "To prepare for the challenge it would be to be talking in a booth for a long time, but really more to find out what it's like to be a talking cat, because we've seen so few of them in the wild." He went on the seriously praise the writers and creators for the creation.

    Creator Samo Login fielded questions about whether they have ambitions for Tom beyond YouTube.

    "We want to bring Tom and his friends to as much media as possible," he said. "YouTube was a natural choice for us. But every media is still a possibility."

    The first episode of the series has already generated more than 2.3 million views in just 24 hours. 

    Photo courtesy of Talking Tom and Friends


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    Tangerine, the first feature film shot on an iPhone (with a wide release, at least) was an unlikely breakout hit at Sundance in January, with a whole lot of people talking about the film's positive buzz at the festival. Now we finally have more than just this picture to go on. 

    Well, that's pretty impressive, and not just because it was shot on an iPhone. After factoring in a plot that involves a transgender sex worker (Sin-Dee) getting out of prison and seeking out the cisgender woman her pimp has been cheating on her with, you completely forget about the whole "shot on an iPhone" aspect. It doesn't appear to be a gimmick; it's just an unlikely tool that was used to bring this awesome-looking story to the screen.

    If the plot isn't enough to get your attention, it also lacks any known actors whatsoever (which is always really fun), and was produced by the Duplass brothers, who know a thing or two about making great films with unknown faces. 

    Tangerine hits theaters on July 10. 

    Screengrab via Magnolia Pictures & Magnet Releasing/YouTube


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    Imagine standing on top of camera one in Studio 8H during a Saturday Night Live taping. That bird’s-eye-view position is now possible, at least for one evening of SNL, thanks to the virtual-reality initiative around the show’s 40th anniversary event.

    Virtual reality headsets might be the domain of video games (and pornography) in most people’s minds, but they’re also opening up new styles of content consumption that build off the established genres of TV and film. For the Feb. 15 event, which brought back cast members and notable hosts and celebrities from across the history of the sketch show, NBCUniversal mounted a 360-degree camera in an unobtrusive location and documented the night in a whole new way.

    “It really started when I found out from the SNL producers what the show was going to be and who was going to be there,” explained NBCUniversal’s VP of Late Night Digital Entertainment Michael Scogin. “This is a moment in time and a moment in history. This may never happen again, so why not try to capture it this way? Most people will never get to go to Studio 8H. You experience that place in a way you can’t do on a regular, flat television screen.”

    With a Samsung Gear headset on, you can watch the scene taking place in front of you, look down to check out some of the crew working underfoot, look back and watch the audience, or even peek up at the lights overhead. Currently there are two experiences users can view: Jerry Seinfeld’s audience Q&A, and the Celebrity Jeopardy clip. In the Q&A, as Seinfeld calls out particular audience members, you don’t have to wait for a camera to cut to them. You just turn you head and can watch Taylor Swift sitting next to Sarah Palin for as long as you desire. In fact, it’s sort of more fun to turn and watch the audience, famous or not, as they watch the action on stage. Especially since, as Scogin relates, they weren’t aware of the 360-degree filming, although some have now seen the clips.

    “Norm MacDonald was completely blown away,” Scogin said. “All the show producers and Lorne Michaels have seen it. It’s really interesting to see someone involved with the show and how they experience it versus someone in the public. Just to see the reaction from the public was pretty amazing. I think a lot of people have heard about virtual reality and might have seen the Oculus Rift demo, and maybe thought of it as a CGI or video game peripheral. I think this really goes beyond that and shows people. They have a great point of references because they saw it on TV but didn’t experience it like that. This has the power to bring you to a place, physically and emotionally, in a way flat TV can’t.”

    To create the experience, SNL and NBC partnered with Chris Milk and VRSE, who debuted the first VR film at Sundance this year.

    “The technology serves a creative vision,” said Scogin. “They built an app that works on Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard. But it also works as a 360 experience as well. That was pretty important, because this is a brand new technology and not a lot of people have it. Anyone with an iOS or Android phone can experience that 360.”

    There’s still more material to come from the 40th Anniversary special, and although Scogin says they’re not about to start making every SNL episode in VR, they’re hopeful that they can do more original content written and produced specifically for VR in the future, especially in the digital shorts realm.

    “That’s definitely something we’ve been discussing,” he said. “I think it’s a great challenge to SNL and the writers. How do you write it with this in mind? A lot of the techniques of television and film are out the window, with framing and quick edits. I’m really happy SNL and Lorne Michaels and NBC let us play around in this. We learned a lot.”

    Screengrab via Saturday Night Live/YouTube


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    The current wealth of streaming options has offered us access to countless films and TV shows, but it also means that if you want to watch a movie, you have to jump around two, three, or maybe four sites to find it.  

    Say hello to Leanflix, a new site makes that struggle a little easier

    A new startup founded by Rob Hamilton, Guy Hamilton, and Zack Kanter and developed by Quyet Tran Bui, Leanflix lets you search Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, and HBO Go to see if a specific movie is streaming, or you can click on a title on the main page and see where it's streaming. Leanflix also offers Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb scores as well as a Leanflix score. Kanter told the Daily Dot the site became a reality out of necessity. 

    "I found that it was getting harder and harder to find movies worth watching on Netflix and other streaming services," he said. "I spent hours sifting through thousands of movies in order to find a hidden gem that I hadn't seen. 

    "My two cofounders had the same problem—what we really wanted was a single place where we could see all of the movies available on Netflix, Amazon, HBO, and iTunes, and we wanted them sorted from best to worst. Sorting movies from best to worst turned out to be much harder than it sounds. We eventually developed a machine-learning algorithm that analyzes critic and user ratings as well as other variables, and it generates a simple score on a 1-10 scale." 

    The site's still in beta, so there are a few kinks being worked out. A chat box in the bottom right-hand corner collects users suggestions and site issues. One of the recurring ones seems to be: Where's Hulu? (They're working on it.) 

    Kanter says Leanflix "started as a side project, and it has exploded since we launched it a couple weeks ago—we signed up 5,000 users within days of launching." He adds that the site won't just be a tool for discovering whether or not Snatch is on Netflix (it is). He wants to make it a kind of a social network: 

    "Our bigger vision is to build a community around discovering, discussing, and rating movies and TV shows." 

    H/T AV Club | Blondinrikard Fröberg/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Avengers: Age of Ultron is already tearing up the box office and fans are no doubt thrilled to once again see so many of their favorite superheroes in the same place, but a new interview with director Joss Whedon reveals that one beloved character was never able to make his way from the cutting room floor: Loki.

    Speaking with MTV, Whedon admits that early chatter about actor Tom Hiddleston appearing as Thor’s troubled brother in the newest Avengers romp wasn’t incorrect, but his appearance just didn’t fit with the rest of the film.

    “We did shoot something, and it didn’t play,” Whedon explains. “The movie has so much and is so filled, and we didn’t want it to feel overstuffed. I really wanted to have Loki in it but I understood the decision to, you know, it was like now there are too many voices in the chorus.”

    Unfortunate as the decision to axe Loki’s scenes is, it doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t get to see the horned hero’s part—this is the age of Blu-ray, after all, so you can bet that Hiddleston’s unseen work will be a top candidate for the “deleted scenes” reel. 

    Image via Marvel


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    Caitlin Doughty is YouTube's resident death expert, and her Ask a Mortician series has explored everything from liquified bodies to pet wakes. Doughty's approach to a very difficult subject is relatable and humorous, and her memoir Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory is an extension of that talent for storytelling. 

    Now, Doughty's memoirs are heading to TV.  

    Smoke Gets In Your Eyes will serve as the foundation for an upcoming TV series, developed in conjunction with Paramount Television and Anonymous Content. 

    "It came about right after the book came out," Doughty told the Daily Dot, "and people started popping up asking about potential adaptations. I ended up going on a ton of meetings around L.A., which was such an interesting experience, given that I've lived here for six years but have never really seen the inside of all the studios. There's not much overlap between a mortician's day job and the glamour of Hollywood; this was a strange week behind the scenes." 

    Doughty's not sure where the series will land, but she's a consulting producer, so she will certainly make sure it's "accurate." 

    "I'm honestly more concerned that it portrays the industry and death accurately than it gets 'Caitlin' accurate," she said. "Because I think people know the character is not me, but a spun-off dramatic character based on me." 

    H/T Tubefilter | Screengrab via Ask a Mortician/YouTube 


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    Chances are you have never eaten at one of James Beard’s restaurants. Perhaps that’s because the man who exemplified all things foodie never owned a dining establishment and is remembered by many as a sellout who for pimped Green Giant corn, Shasta soft drinks, and Omaha Steaks.

    A Francophile best known as a teacher and bon vivant ersatz food celebrity, Beard—both the name and the foundation he started—has morphed into a somewhat meaningless, overhyped symbol of a bygone era characterized by the three-martini lunches and pupu platters at Trader Vic’s. Nonetheless, for restaurant insiders (and those who aspire to be) the annual James Beard Awards—2015’s are happening tomorrow—are a time for self congratulating and paying tribute to those who have the ability to merge good food with even better PR.

    The James Beard Foundation added new media to its awards in 2013, with winners generally coming from bigger names in the food industry or from established distributors such as PBS and the Cooking Channel. The two-pronged category devoted to Web video includes “Video Webcast, Fixed Location and/or Instructional” and “Video Webcast, on Location.” Given current video production techniques, the naming convention is an awkward tip of the foundation’s naive hand, classifying a video solely by where it was filmed. There must be better ways to parse food and cooking videos—short form versus long form or even by type of cuisine.

    Still, that’s the way the cookie crumbles at the JBF, and we bend to its clunky nomenclature by making these picks for tomorrow’s winners.

    Handicapping the nominees

    In the category “Video Webcast, Fixed Location and/or Instructional,” my pick is You’re Eating It Wrong with host Dan Pashman. The show airs on the Cooking Channel, with each online segment distilling one of the 30-minute episodes into a bite-sized segment.

    What makes this show work is that fact that Pashman is a journalist who brings a level of inquisitiveness and desire to go against the grain. I particularly like the webisode in which he tells the owners of a New York falafel shop they need to serve their fare without a pita. If looks could kill…

    The other two nominees in this category are Thirsty For and Chef Steps. Thirsty For, from Tastemade, was the 2014 winner in this category. It’s interesting to note that of the three finalists, only Pashman’s show includes live narration. A cooking video without narration? Seriously?

    In the category “Video Webcast, on Location,” my choice is Food Curated, a webseries that delves into emerging trends and rising entrepreneurs making a difference in the U.S. food scene. Perhaps a bit too focused on New York, the show nonetheless balances the show-and-tell aspects of culinary storytelling.

    Last year’s winner here was The Perennial Plate: Europe and South Asia, a show featuring chef turned filmmaker Daniel Klein. It returns as a finalist in 2015 (this time with Americas and Africa) with Kitchen Vignettes from PBS as the third in this trio.

    Introducing the competition

    While these six finalists are fine representations of the growing list of food-related Web videos, seeing the same shows pop up in consecutive years smacks a bit of Meryl Streep receiving an Oscar nomination just for showing up. For the James Beard Awards to be nothing more than a venue for the snoozy tried and true, the foundation needs to broaden its selection process to include some content a bit more daring, and even a few video works that satirically bite the hand that feeds them.

    If the powers that be at the Beard Foundation need some suggestions, here are some food/cooking shows to consider for next time:

    Sorted Food

    Started by a group of friends in the U.K. , this five-year-old series is one of YouTube’s top international food channels. The boys went their separate ways when they went off to university, but they would get together to eat, drink, and be merry. It was Ben Ebbrell who became the cooking and food expert, studying the craft in school, but each member of the team pitches in to create a show that deftly mashed up good-natured humor and adventurous, accessible food preparation.

    Munchies

    The stuffy people associated with the Beard Awards would prove the have some cred if they were to push this food series—produced by the iconoclasts at Vice—that focuses on food and the personalities that inspire new trends. Rough and raw are certainly two adjectives to describe Munchies, and while some of the episodes are pedantic and self-important, they are uniformly entertaining and always push the culinary envelope.

    Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.

    I am not favoring this series because I am a vegan; I like this show because the host, Laura Miller, is funny and talented and has the ability to make plant-based diets seem accessible to all. She has solid cooking skills, knows her topic, and the producers at Tastemade add some first-rate production values to the show. It’s probably not in the spirit of James Beard to honor a food show that deals with healthy cooking, but it’s time to celebrate alternative diets and tastes.

    Screengrab via Cooking Channel/YouTube

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