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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Amazon Studios will move beyond original TV shows into new terrain: a feature film.

    The company announced Wednesday that Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq will be the first Amazon Original Movie. The film, starring Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, and Angela Bassett, will address issues of race and gun violence in inner-city Chicago, issues often overlooked in mainstream Hollywood filmmaking.

    Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, 25th Hour) and writer/director Kevin Willmott (C.S.A: Confederate States of America) are writing Chi-Raq and Lee is directing.

    Ted Hope, Head of Motion Picture Production at Amazon Studios, expressed unbridled enthusiasm for Lee. “Spike Lee is one of the most distinct and visionary filmmakers of our time,” he said. “It would be impossible to find a better filmmaker with whom to launch our studio.”

    Chi-Raq will be released in theaters in December to qualify for awards season, and Amazon Prime members will get a first look at the film once it’s out.

    Spike Lee recently faced controversy for the film, which likens the violence in Chicago to war zones in Iraq. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel criticized the film's potential denigration of residents of Englewood.

    “I told [Lee] … that there are very good people that live in Englewood who are raising their family,” Emanuel said.

    Lee had one thing to say to critics: “Wait until the movie comes out. You don’t like it, you don’t like [it]. But wait, see it first.”

    Screengrab via CelebTV/YouTube


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    Rolling Stone is quick to point out that Spirit Family Reunion found a voice by performing its saloon folk as hearty buskers—on street corners, subway platforms, and at farmers’ markets. That’s certainly one way to build a more authentic experience: Forgo soul-sucking stages at nowhere bars, and take your vessel straight to the sea to check whether it floats.

    Don’t snicker: The band is committed to creating functional commerce out of their boho appetite for more authentic, outdoor recreation. The Newport Folk Festival vets recorded April’s 12-song-strong Hands Together with Coney Island as a backdrop, for example. It’s music for church basements, an open-door-policy sort of learned, secular-but-God-fearing revivalism. 

    And relax: These Brooklyn rovers are not full of shit. Though sure, the ceiling on this is that Spirit Family Reunion wins a Grammy, steals a stage, and tours with those Mumford monsters. (They’ve already hit the road with the Starbucks-popular but terrific and true Alabama Shakes.)

    For now the only thing that matters is that despite the commitment to an aesthetic—a dangerous proposition for any new band—salvation comes from the resonant, lyrical songwriting. “You’re passed out drunk on your lover’s lawn—you make the best of the situation,” goes the sin-fueled “Hello Houston.” You almost believe that singer Nick Panken was over-served at a rodeo and went for a swim in the river.

    The Daily Dot has partnered with Daytrotter to highlight one session a week, which will be available to stream here exclusively in its entirety. In this installment, sweaty plucking for the waterin’ hole—or at least the drive to Sonic for a slushie. 

    For nearly a decade, Daytrotter has been recording some of the best talent around, and now you can stream half of this incredible (and growing) archive, featuring thousands of band sessions, for free—or join for full access and free downloads.

    Illustration by Johnnie Cluney/Daytrotter


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    Dracula. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Twilight. Vampires have been such a predominant part of both our culture and our pop culture for so long, it’s easy to believe that there’s nothing new to say about them, and no new way to tell an interesting vampire story. Thankfully, creative types keep proving us wrong.

    This month is a good one for blood-suckers on the pop-culture landscape, with FX’s The Strain—based on a series of novels co-written by the mega-talented Guillermo del Toro, who also executive produces the show—returning for a second season this past Sunday. (You can catch up on the first season via Hulu.) On the streaming front, Spike Lee’s crowd-funded vamp flick Da Sweet Blood of Jesus hits Netflix Instant yesterday, starring Stephen Tyrone Williams as a respected anthropologist who begins craving blood after an encounter with a cursed African artifact.

    With nosferatu on our minds, we here at the Daily Dot dug into the streaming services in search of the best vampire flicks currently available. Watch these after dark, but be careful: You might wind up marathoning them all the way through till sunrise.

    1) Cronos (Hulu)

    Since the return of The Strain helped inspire this piece, it’s only fair that we open things up with one of Guillermo del Toro’s earlier takes on vampire lore. In fact, Cronos was del Toro’s first feature film, unleashed on the world over 20 years ago, way back in 1993. Federico Luppi stars as Jesus Gris, an antiques dealer who discovers a strange clockwork contraption inside the hollowed-out base of an angel statue. Things take an unsettling turn when, after tinkering with the contraption, it suddenly unfolds into an insect-like configuration, jabbing him with a needle and injecting some sort of liquid. That’s the sort of crazy shit that would send most people fleeing to the emergency room, but Jesus actually starts feeling better soon… better than ever, actually. His wrinkles are smoothing out, his hair is coming back, even his sex drive is surging. There’s just this odd craving that keeps nagging at him…

    As Jesus’ curious transformation continues, the centuries-old history of the device that began it is revealed. Unfortunately, there are powerful, dangerous people in search of the creepy little scarab device, and one of them employs Ron Perlman as muscle.

    Cronos received only a limited release here in the States, but it soon became a cult classic that put del Toro on the radar for a generation of fans. Without Cronos, there would have been no Hellboy or The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth or Pacific Rim, and that’s not the kind of world I want to live in. The incredible visual imagination, the surreal mix of the terrifying and the big-hearted, even the presence of del Toro’s muse Ron Perlman—they’re all on deck in Cronos, foreshadowing two decades of brilliance to come.

    2) Night Watch (Netflix Instant)

    There’s a good chance you might never heard the name Sergei Lukyanenko, but the Kazakhstan-born author is one of the major players in the realms of Russian science fiction and fantasy literature. His breakout title was the 1998 novel Night Watch, which inspired five sequels and this film, directed in 2004 by Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). Night Watch introduces a secret world existing in the shadows of our own, where a centuries-old battle between good and evil has settled into a stalemate of sorts. Now the opposing forces of the Night Watch and Day Watch guard both the bright and the twilight hours, ensuring neither side becomes too powerful. But that precarious status quo is threatened by a young boy, whom prophecy suggests could shift the balance of power in favor of the darkness or the light.

    Night Watch was a massive hit in Russia, at the time becoming the highest-grossing Russian release of all time. Fox Searchlight eventually snagged the American release rights, bringing it stateside in 2006. Unlike in the rest of the films on this list, vampires are only one part of a much larger paranormal landscape in Night Watch, but they serve as some of the primary forces of darkness here. Director Bekmambetov fills the screen to bursting with the propulsive, adrenaline-soaked style on display in his other films, and even the subtitles are handled in unique and creative ways. Night Watch can definitely be a love-it-or-hate-it affair, but for those who love it, good news: the sequel, Day Watch, is also available on Netflix Instant.

    3) Let the Right One In (Netflix Instant)

    Oskar is a quiet lad living in early ’80s Stockholm with his mother. Oskar collects newspaper clippings about horrible murders and keeps a knife under his bed (he’s a weird kid). Naturally, he’s bullied by other kids in his class, drawn by the irresistible scent of someone who doesn’t fit in. When he meets Eli, the new girl next door, Oskar finally discovers a kindred spirit, another outsider who doesn’t seem to vibrate at the same frequency as the rest of the world. It goes well beyond that, Oskar eventually discovers: Eli has both a terrible secret and a very particular set of dietary requirements, and a series of nearby murders soon threaten to throw Eli’s secrets into the searing light of day.

    Horror has been exploiting the inherently creepy nature of children for decades, from The Shining to The Ring. The outstanding 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In makes you care about the little demon many other flicks would have just used to frighten, but without ever downplaying the child’s violent and horrific nature—most notably during the film’s brilliant climactic swimming pool sequence. Everything in the film is anchored by the genuinely affecting friendship between Oskar and Eli (Kare Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson, both sublime). Let the Right One In reminds viewers that, even in a world of nocturnal bloodsuckers, the worst monsters are often of the human variety, and kindness can sometimes be found in the darkest of corners. (It’s worth noting that the American remake, Let Me In, actually does the original justice, thanks to solid direction by Matt Reeves and the twin performances of Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz.)

    4) Afflicted (Hulu with Showtime)

    Buddies Clif and Derek (co-directors Clif Prowse and Derek Lee) have been traveling the world for years, filming their adventures as part of a webseries called Ends of the Earth. That tradition looks to be in peril after Derek is diagnosed with a condition that means he could literally drop dead at any moment. Determined not to let the bad news defeat him, Derek talks Clif into accompanying him on one last hurrah: a trip to Europe. Once there, Derek hits it off with a beautiful, mysterious girl, and the two go to bed together. The next morning, Clif discovers Derek in his hotel room: bleeding, banged-up, and with no memory of what happened the night before. The two continue their journey, but Derek soon begins acting strangely, becoming skittish around daylight and reacting violently to food. You can probably guess where this is headed. As Derek continues changing, Clif tries to track down the girl, hoping to find answers about what’s happening to his friend.

    With the found-footage trend having taken the horror field by storm over the past decade or so, it was just a matter of time until somebody got around to making a vampire version, and Afflicted is as good a combination of those two things as you could hope for. Afflicted is best seen with as little foreknowledge as possible, but, well, there’s not really any way to include it on this list without giving part of the game away. Still, there’s plenty to love about Afflicted beyond the twist. The arc of the film’s infection is a fascinating descent, with the formerly at-death’s-door Derek now leaping tall buildings and outpacing motorbikes in a way that seems right out of your typical superhero origin story—only for things to soon begin spiraling ever worse.

    Note: Afflicted is only available to Hulu customers who have also signed up for the streaming service’s new partnership with Showtime, which costs an extra $8.99 per month.

    Screengrab via Movieclips Coming Soon/YouTube


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    Special-effects teams on movies and TV shows can bring fictional locations or creatures to life, but for every soaring success, there are plenty of abysmal failures.

    Most special effects simply don't age well. Whether due to budget or time constraints, many shots fall flat, and the audience can tell. If they couldn't tell at the time, they can certainly tell now, thanks to a hilarious supercut of bad special effects.

    Even worse than laughing at a cheesy effect in the theater? Realizing years later that it wasn't nearly as awesome as you remember.

    H/T Reddit | Screengrab via worldwideinterweb/Dailymotion


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    Netflix has already shown itself to be a contender at the Emmys, but it’s no longer the only streaming service in town, and the newcomers racked up a few nominations of their own in this morning’s announcement.

    HBO may have the most nominations overall, but Netflix is leading the streaming competition with 34 nominations (just a few more than last year) for its content, including powerhouses House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. However, Amazon premiered strong for Emmy contention with 12 nominations—11 alone for its Golden Globe award-winning show Transparent.

    With the Best Series categories expanded to seven shows apiece, Netflix and Amazon combined to take four of the 14 slots, more than any one network. Amazon’s nominated in the Best Comedy category for Transparent alongside new Netflix show Unbreakable Kimmy SchmidtHouse of Cards and OITNB are competing for Best Drama.

    But it’s not just the shows themselves being honored. There’s at least one person from a Netflix or Amazon show in every acting category for a TV show with the exception of Best Guest Actress in a Drama. Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and last year’s Best Guest Actress winner Uzo Aduba are repeat nominees (Aduba now in the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama category), but now newer shows are also getting some love.

    Jeffrey Tambor, who won the Golden Globe for Transparent, was nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy, while Gaby Hoffmann picked up a Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy nomination. Grace and Frankie’s Lily Tomlin is up for Best Actress, and Jane Krakowski and Tituss Burgess are up for Best Supporting Actress and Actor in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Ricky Gervais is nominated for the Derek special. Kyle Chandler picked up a nod for Bloodline. Jon Hamm, Tina Fey, Bradley Whitford, Reg E. Cathey, Pablo Schreiber all received Guest Acting nominations.

    Meanwhile, Funny or Die also earned two nominations this year for Between Two Ferns and the Billy on the Street episode with Michelle Obama.

    The Television Academy also awarded Marvel’s DaredevilMarco PoloVirungaChef’s Table, and Bosch with nominations.

    We’ll be talking about the snubs for weeks to come, but noticeably missing from the list are OITNB’s Taylor Schilling and Laverne Cox (who made history last year for being the first transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy); Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt herself, Ellie Kemper; and Grace and Frankie’s Jane Fonda.

    The 67th annual Emmy Awards will take place Sept. 20 at 8pm ET on Fox.

    Update 12:01pm: This article has been amended to recognize Kyle Chandler’s Bloodline nomination.

    Photo via ITU Pictures/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Since the release of 2011's fantastic The Whole Love, Wilco seems to have prioritized touring over recording; it's been four years since we've seen a new record from the band. That's why it was surprising when they released a completely unexpected, full-length LP, entitled Star Wars
    on their website yesterday.

    Wilco really wants you to download it, too. Try going to wilcoworld.net and accessing information on shows, or looking at their merchandise page. You can't. Even manually typing in wilcoworld.net/shows will only briefly flash that page before redirecting you straight back to this:

    It's an unexpected move for a band: Blocking everything on their site that brings them profit and forcing you to look at the instructions for downloading their new LP at no charge.

    Those instructions? You type in your email address, then you receive an email with a link to download the album in a .zip file. That's easy enough, right? Here's Jeff Tweedy's explanation on Facebook.

    It's true. It probably is a really fun thing to do. But there's another factor involved, and one that Wilco has experience with: It's a really good thing for your fans to know your new music when they attend your shows. 

    When a management shakeup at Reprise Records in 2001 resulted in the label's new executives deciding that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was crap, and ultimately electing to give the rights to the album (which which would eventually receive universal acclaim, and end up on every 'Best Of' list in the country) back to the band for free, MP3s began to leak online. Wilco decided that the best way to combat bad-sounding pirated music was to just stream the the whole thing on their site for free.

    Soon, fans at shows were singing along to these new songs, despite them not being available in any stores. It was a massive hit, one that would eventually cause Nonsuch Records to pay healthily for the official distribution rights in 2002. (Ironically, both Reprise and Nonsuch were subsidiaries of AOL–Time Warner, whose merger had originally lead to the album's rights being handed back to the band.)

    Despite the lengthy free-streaming period and the pirated copies that resulted from it, the album went on to sell 590,000 copies. It was a lesson for the band: If you have good music, get it to your fans, no matter what it takes. If that means shutting down your entire site and practically forcing them to download and listen to it, then that's what you do. 

    And Star Wars is good music—in fact, it's very good. It's very Nels Cline-heavy, with his signature weird-but-still-catchy guitar style being the backbone of the bulk of the tracks. It feels extremely personal in a way that its name and title, which make it look like a Weezer album, seem to defy. It flows well, with minimalistic guitar hooks suddenly harmonizing with an array of instruments in a way that commandeers your foot and forces it to tap.

    The bottom line is this: Just because it's being offered for free at the moment, you'd be wrong to assume that it's some low-effort, jokingly recorded nonsense. Quite the opposite: It's a proper album that stands with Wilco's best work.   

    With the band playing the Pitchfork Music Festival today (and touring throughout August), and becoming an increasingly jam-slanted presence on stage, it makes sense that they'd want to drop this new album on folks' heads right now. They want people singing along when they play this stuff at upcoming shows. They want people familiar with them.

    As to why they called this album Star Wars...who knows? Maybe they're telling Disney that they'd like to sign with them in some capacity, as it seems unlikely that an album of that name would fly anywhere else. (When they signed with Nonesuch, a top priority for Tweedy was finding not only a label with a good stable of musicians, but also one that had the capacity to produce a ton of albums.) Or maybe it's just called Star Wars because it, as Tweedy said, it "felt like it would be fun."

    Either way, seeing as how the whole site is currently redirecting to the download page with the blinking cat, we wouldn't expect the album to be (legally) free for too long. At some point, they'll need to open the merchandise and show info up again. So take the page's "for a limited time" wording seriously and download the album ASAP. You won't be disappointed—and it's actually easier to get it this way than through torrents.

    H/T AV Club| Screengrab via wilcoworld.net


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    Sir Ian McKellen is doing the promotional rounds for his new film Mr. Holmes, and his latest stop was with Yahoo to perform very straight-faced readings of Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars lyrics. Far from phoning it in, he took the time to memorize the lyrics to "Bad Blood." It's why we call him "Sir"—he's just that awesome (well, that and he's been knighted).

    Thankfully for McKellen, he didn't have to memorize too many lyrics for this particular recital.

    Mr. Holmes hits theaters tomorrow and has received very positive buzz on the festival circuit. If you were on the fence about seeing it, hopefully this video has convinced you to do so.

    Update 3:34pm CT, July 17: Swift has responded, saying that McKellen (and Patrick Stewart, who recited the lyrics to "Blank Space" on NPR) "made my day."

    H/T Uproxx | Screengrab via Yahoo! Screen


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    Paul Rudd has been “RuddrollingConan O’Brien for years, but Conan thought he finally had the upper hand in this modern-day version of the Peanuts football gag when Rudd showed up to promote Ant-Man.

    Rudd could pull off his usual schtick—airing a clip of the 1988 film Mac and Me instead of whatever movie he had to promote—with a lot of major studios, but this is Marvel Studios we're talking about. With a rigid press tour and the ongoing joke about “Marvel snipers” watching for spoilers, we could easily see the Disney studio putting an end to Rudd’s ongoing joke and making him actually show the clip.

    That’s what O’Brien was hoping. He would finally get to kick that ball, or in this case, watch that clip. And even Rudd admitted that he had to show the clip. But did Rudd secretly have a trick up his sleeve to please Marvel and pull away that football?

    Spoiler: Yes, yes he did.

    Screengrab via Team Coco/YouTube


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    Justin Bieber has been trying to improve his image ever since his antics started making more news than his music. His latest attempt reminds us that he’s still the same person the world fell in love with.

    Bieber appeared on Lip Sync Battle and faced tough competition against Deion Sanders. Instead of coming out in full force, he started by showing us his softer side by lip-syncing to “Big Girls Don't Cry.” Yes, it’s as great as you imagined.

    Bieber first bares his soul for all to see, but once a false sense of security settles in, he unleashes the monster and hops on the "crazy train" for the finish. 

    Screengrab via Lip Sync Battle on Spike/YouTube


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    Just when we’re getting excited for a new era of Stephen Colbert’s comedy, a perfect vintage morsel pops up to remind us that he’s a bona fide star.

    The Second City Network recently released a 21-year-old clip featuring Colbert with Jenna Jolovitz. They performed a song about a bland relationship, perfectly fitting for a failed first date or a long-term relationship hitting total indifference. The general refrain is, “If I loved you I’d sing you a love song, if I loved you I’d give you the moon / If I loved you I’d sing you a love song, but I don’t,” with different topics intermingled.

    The clip is the latest in a string of video moments that continue to build anticipation for his Late Show takeover in the fall. Previously Colbert parodied Donald Trump’s presidential announcement, shredded Justice Scalia dissent on marriage equality, and defended Pluto from scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson. He’ll begin his official Late Show run Sept 8.

    H/T AV Club | Photo via Peabody Awards/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed


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    When the Netflix original show BoJack Horseman debuted last summer, some viewers didn’t quite take to the sad undercurrent running through the animated show about a former ’90s sitcom actor who’s trying to make a comeback. Others, however, held on to the slow burn and discovered the show’s heart.

    And once fans were in, they were in deep.

    The show’s cast of main characters—voiced by Will Arnett (BoJack), Amy Sedaris, Aaron Paul, Alison Brie, and Paul F. Tompkins—explored fame, narcissism, loneliness, delusion, self-doubt, addiction, depression, and nostalgia in Hollywood, much like HBO’s The Comeback. (Speaking of which, Comeback star Lisa Kudrow voices BoJack’s new crush in season 2, a TV exec/owl hybrid named Wanda, who’s recently woken up from a 30-year coma.) 

    In season 1, fans wanted to find meaning alongside BoJack; the deconstruction of episode 11’s epic drug trip took place on Reddit, as fans discussed whether or not BoJack experienced ego death. And further: Had they, at some point in their lives?

    The second season, which debuts on Netflix today, tugs on the thread left by season 1’s heart-sinking finale. BoJack has landed the role of Secretariat (voiced by John Krasinski), and struggles with, well, being happy about it. He starts dating. He tries to sublimate his self-loathing into something more positive. He listens to self-help tapes and intones that he can change, he will change. But will he? Those tapes tell him he is literally a metaphor. 

    The show’s creator, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, says in season 1, BoJack learned he had to change. In season 2, he explores whether he actually can. 

    “Part of the fun of the show, for us anyway, is, you know, here’s a character who’s pretty depressed and he thinks he knows what’s going to make him happy,” he said. “And we keep giving him the things that he thinks he wants, and he’s still not happy. And really exploring that has been what’s interesting to me, as a writer.”

    Much of the charm of BoJack Horseman comes from production designer Lisa Hanawalt’s colorful animal-human hybrid characters, which she’s been drawing for years. Bob-Waksberg says her drawings were integral to the initial Netflix pitch.

    “I really liked the idea of a talking horse in a human world,” he said. “You know, like Mr. Ed. What was Mr. Ed like after Mr. Ed was over, was the original most bare-bones concept for the idea. That necessitates humans to react to him. … Then the question was, ‘OK, is he a special talking horse and everybody else is people?’ And then I decided it’s funnier if there’s other animals also, because it gives [us] so many opportunities for different kinds of jokes and situations.”

    Hanawalt and Bob-Waksberg have been friends since high school, and she says they used to joke about the TV show they wanted to make together.

    “I would doodle things in my sketch book and he would make up voices to go along with them,” she said. After high school, they did an online comic together, and then Bob-Waksberg included some of Hanawalt’s animal drawings in his pitch for what would become BoJack Horseman.

    After the pitch moved forward, the production company, Tornante, asked Hanawalt to design 10 characters for the debut season. She relates that after a childhood obsession with wanting to both draw cats and be a cat (“I have drawings I did of myself when I was like 8 years old as a cat person. I specifically wanted to be a cat person who was also Weird Al Yankovic”), she moved on to a fixation with horses after taking riding lessons.

    “I was one of those crazy horse girls,” she conceded. “I’m at my most earnest when I’m talking about horses. I just thinking they’re really special.”

    She says she “nailed” what BoJack would look like right away, and she “modeled the coloring of him on a horse I used to lease when I was a teenager. He had a much different personality than BoJack, though. He was very sweet.”

    Was there a challenge in having to draw a character she knew would be very sad?

    “There was the logistical challenge of drawing a horse face that can show a lot of emotions,” she said. “So we had to give him eyebrows, which horses don’t normally have. And I really had to sketch out his expressions to show that he could be angry or sad or happy. Little things like his ears perking forward when he’s interested makes a huge difference.

    “When Raphael first told me the idea for the show, I thought it was too sad,” she added, “and I told him so. ‘Nah, I don’t like it. It’s too dark.’ But I’ve since changed my mind, and now the sad parts on the show are my favorite.”

    For all the show’s pathos and id deconstruction, one of the most interesting dynamics is gender, especially in a world where humans and animals coexist. Bob-Waksberg dissected the approach to gender in comedy in a January Tumblrpost about the “default" male character.

    For episode 9 of season 1, Hanawalt “drew a gag where a big droopy dog is standing on a street corner next to a businessman and the wind from a passing car blows the dog’s tongue and slobber onto the man’s face. When Lisa designed the characters she made both the dog and the businessperson women.”

    My first gut reaction to the designs was, “This feels weird.” I said to Lisa, “I feel like these characters should be guys.” She said, “Why?” I thought about it for a little bit, realized I didn’t have a good reason, and went back to her and said, “You’re right, let’s make them ladies.

    “It was the first time I really put my foot down about it,” Hanawalt said. “Because I noticed the problem cropping up here and there. … It was an argument that lasted days. Like, I was really alone on it for a while. But Raphael’s wonderful because not only is he an outspoken feminist, but when he has a blind spot and is wrong about something, he will think about it and talk to it. And this was just a blind spot of his. He thought it would be too complicated if both characters were women, and I just finally convinced him that was wrong.”

    “There’s a moment from working on season 2 that I really remember,” Bob-Waksberg said. “Where they were trying to pitch ideas for an episode, and one of my female writers pitched a joke and all the women in the room laughed. None of the men did. And I thought, ‘That’s really interesting.’ And so we put the joke in the show, clearly because there’s a segment of our audience that would like it. But also, I wonder how many times someone pitched a joke where all the men laughed and none of the women have, and I didn’t even notice.”

    BoJack Horseman’s closest spiritual twin might be Rick and Morty, another animated show with sharp jokes and a serious heart. Bob-Waksberg says animation is still an evolving art, though. 

    “Twenty years ago, there was this big movement from, animation is not just for kids anymore, right?” he said. “And The Simpsons is the first big holder of that flag. But I think since then, we’ve kind of gotten stuck in a similar rut of people [saying] animation is for kids, or it’s for fratty 20-year-old boys. And the fact is, that’s not true. 

    “Animation can be for anyone; it’s just that people aren’t necessarily making those shows for other types of people, and that animation is a format, not a genre. And I’m really excited to see where it goes in the next five years.”

    Photo courtesy of Netflix 


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    Kristian Nairn has spent a good portion of the past year touring the world as an accomplished DJ; he’s been doing it long before he became a household name as Hodor on Game of Thrones. But after mixing music for years, he’s finally creating some of his own.

    He released his first single, “Up (Club Remix) feat. Leanne Robinson,” on his Soundcloud page a couple weeks back, and we can definitely see ourselves dancing along to this one.

    We saw Nairn’s DJ talent firsthand last year and just how infectious the music can be for the crowd. Once the bass drops they’ll go even wilder. He’ll be returning to Game of Thrones next season so he won’t have as much time to tour, but we can easily play these at our next house party.

    He only dropped “Beacon” a couple days ago, and while it’s different in sound from “Up,” it’s just as catchy.

    H/T Billboard | Photo by Michelle Jaworski


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    BY TODD LONGWELL

    Popular YouTuber and author Connor Franta (4.7 million subscribers, 248.8 million views) has partnered with talent manager Andrew Graham of Big Frame and Invisible DJ Records founder Jeremy Wineberg to form Heard Well, a new music label focusing on music curated by digital influencers.

    "Influencers are the modern A&R scouts, and they have tremendous built-in power,” said Wineberg in a statement. “Being able to reach millions of fans instantaneously is a game-changer.”

    The first curators signed to Heard Well are Franta’s fellow YouTubers Amanda Steele (MakeupbyMandy24), Anthony Quintal (Lohanthony), and Jc Caylen, who have more than 20 million fans combined on social media.

    Franta has already road-tested the concept with Crown, a compilation album featuring up-and-coming musicians he personally selected. Released in November 2014, it was one the Top 20 best-selling pop albums of 2014 in the iTunes store. He followed with a second compilation album, Common Culture, which debuted in the Billboard Top 10 and the iTunes Top 20 charts in March. Artists featured on the albums have included OdeszaZella Day, and Tei Shi

    Franta will release his own compilation albums through Heard Well, starting with Common Culture, Vol. 3, which is scheduled to go on sale later this month.

    “The work I’ve done through my Common Culture Music series has enabled me not only to share my joy of music at scale, but also promote the artists I love,” said Franta in statement. “We see a wonderful opportunity to build a talent-friendly label that rewards and empowers influencers for promoting the music they love, while simultaneously offering musicians a new, meaningful means of discovery.”

    Screengrab via ConnorFranta/YouTube


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    In Tig, the new Netflix original documentary, we see one of life’s many circles unravel. Comedian Tig Notaro is about to step on stage at Largo, a comedy club in L.A., a year after the cancer diagnosis and standup set that put her in the national spotlight. But first, we have to go back.

    Directors Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York zero in on a year of Notaro’s life, starting with her being diagnosed with C. diff, a bacterial infection that ravaged her intestinal tract, in early 2012. Shortly after her birthday, her mother died after a fall. In July 2012, Notaro found out she had breast cancer in both breasts.

    Notaro decided to keep her regular Largo gig after learning about the cancer. On Aug. 3, 2012, she came on stage and opened with these now-famous words: “Hello, I have cancer. How are you?”

    That set made Notaro a viral sensation, as news of her courageous set spread around the Internet. It put immense pressure on her as a performer to follow up that set, which was later released via Louis C.K.’s website. “My confidence was at an all-time low,” she explains in the film.

    The directors give us a bit of her past for context: We learn that Notaro found solace in standup comedy when she started performing in the late ’90s, and she camped in her car in between gigs. Her humor, she says, “is directly tied to her mother’s sensibility.”

    “When I lost my mother,” Notaro explains in the film, “I lost the person who truly understood me the most.”

    Notaro—a writer on Inside Amy Schumer and co-host of the podcastProfessor Blastoff—excels in deadpan, absurd humor (one of her best-known sets involved her pushing a stool around on Conan), but here we see her vulnerable. It’s a very intimate look at life choices many of us would prefer to keep private, and Goolsby, who’s known Notaro for nearly 20 years, says she doesn’t think anyone anticipated it would become so intimate.

    “I don’t think she thought that the vulnerability would be coming through as it did,” she told the Daily Dot. “Nor did she think we would end up being in such personal space with her. She said before that when the filming started, she thought she had been through the difficult times in her life and we’d just be hanging out with her and having fun. But once she let us [have] access, she really, truly gave us access to everything. And so in time, we were able to be present, and she was able to be vulnerable and honest, through many intimate situations." 

    Aside from the intimate personal moments, the film gives us some insight into how a comedian tries to figure out how to perform again. A month after the 2012 Largo show, Notaro had a double mastectomy, and a video shows Notaro recovering in a hospital bed as she asks fellow comedians Todd Barry and Sarah Silverman do impromptu standup sets around her bed. Even after facing death, comedy was all Notaro wanted.

    Goolsby started filming in 2013, around the time of Notaro’s return to the Largo for her one-year anniversary show, and illustrates how quickly fame came to her—ironically, because of cancer. “Her life was in such fast, fast motion,” Goolsby said. “It was incredible, everything she had on her plate.”

    Before her illnesses, we learn Notaro was trying to have a child, and the film picks up that thread. We also see Notaro reconnect with In a World co-star Stephanie Allynne and, in essence, see their relationship evolve on screen, from friendship to love to parenthood and marriage. One of the most surreal scenes comes when Notaro is Skyping with a couple that she met via her podcast, who might carry her child. After meeting them in their home, the couple asks what would happen if she died while the surrogate is pregnant, and Notaro visibly struggles to process the situation.  

    “I’m trying to go about this in a reasonable… as reasonable and thorough as you can, getting a surrogate through a podcast,” she says to them. 

    Tig makes a few missteps that pivot the doc in an unnecessarily melodramatic direction, but the true core of the film is watching a circle within a circle: exploring how a comedian turns personal tragedy into material, becomes a star, and tries to figure out how to be a comedian again, while also trying to be a human.

    Photo courtesy of Netflix 


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    It's a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and NSYNC mashup to give you all the '90s feels.

    While playing at the American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament on Friday, Alfonso Ribeiro, aka Carlton Banks, was understandably a little frustrated after a subpar put. So former boy bander Justin Timberlake hopped onto the grass to do the famous Carlton dance with Ribeiro in blast of nostalgia.

    Forget the round of golf—this is the real highlight of the tournament. 

     H/T Uproxx | Screengrab via NBC Sports


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    Binaural audio is probably the biggest endorsement of our brains on the Internet. You take two sensitive microphones, set them up in the same place your ears would be, and create a scene. Viewers at home can put on their headphones and be immediately transported to wherever you’re taking them, all through the power of audio. 

    Our ears are diverse, complex molecular machines that can track ridiculous amounts of information without us even noticing. Binaural audio exists for us to celebrate our latent super power.

    This is probably something better experienced than explained, so let’s start with a classic. If you were a real head, you might remember this from the early ‘00s off of O.G. aggregators like ebaumsworld. It’s a virtual haircut. Put on your headphones, close your eyes, and enjoy the next five minutes.

    Pretty cool right? Binaural audio can feel like legit magic at its best, and with the rise of YouTube there are literally hundreds of people crafting new experiences. Here’s Ephemeral Rift, who spends a solid hour touching, brushing, and prodding a pineapple lined with microphones, which is far more enthralling and relaxing than it has any right to be.

    These binaural videos are the cousins of another, equally weird YouTube scene called ASMR. That's short for "autonomous sensory meridian response," which basically means any sound that triggers a tingling sensation up and down your spine. You’ve probably experienced some form of ASMR before, my best example might be the soothing exhilaration during a check-up or massage.

    Of course the Internet is all about escalation, let’s check out Heather Feather’s binaural ASMR hour-long opus, “Tap Scratch Fever.”

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure that lady is making a living touching things and whispering. Pretty weird right? It only feels weirder when you put on your headphones and realize how much you’re enjoying it.

    There are also people out there who use binaural technology to craft “binaural beats,” which allegedly use tones and sounds to resonate with our brainwaves and lead to lucid dreaming. It sounds a lot like that pseudoscientific website, I-doser, which seriously advertised hours-long audio tracks that build “heroin highs,” and “orgasms” thanks to the power of “delta waves” or whatever other vague buzz terms they were using. 

    I don’t know if it works, but maybe try this video next time you sleep and see what happens.

    Isn’t it great we live in the 21st century where every subculture, no matter how niche, is fingertips away? Not everything is bad y’all.

    Photo via carolynwill/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 


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    Stephen Colbert has been tossing fans little bits of chum throughout the summer, as we wait for him to return to TV on Sept. 8. His latest offering is the best yet, because it's a video game. 

    Yes, Colbert has offered fans a choose-your-own-adventure-style game called Escape From the Man-Sized Cabinet, in which you wander around the Late Show offices and, if you're playing to your maximum potential, step inside a man-sized cabinet. 

    From there, you might encounter a centaur, an "Ice Kingdom-type environment," or a beast with a bear trap for a head. If you die from "Cabinet Fever" like Rutherford B. Hayes, well, it's really all your fault.  

    Get lost right here

    H/T Vulture | Screengrab via The Late Show With Stephen Colbert/YouTube


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    The United States wastes a lot of perfectly good food, but at the moment there's not a lot we can do about it.

    In Sunday's episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver painted a depressing picture of landfills piled high with healthy vegetables and dairy products just past their use-by date—which, by the way, is an arbitrary time set by the food manufacturer.

    The worst part is, plenty of stores and small businesses do want to donate food that either fails the aesthetic standard for public sale (say, asymmetrical peaches) or is just past its sell-by date, but oftentimes, donating the food just too expensive. Either that or they're afraid of being sued if the food makes anyone sick.

    But as John Oliver found out this week, no one has ever actually sued a food provider for this reason. It's an urban myth. It's just another in a string of sad facts about America's wasted-food epidemic.

    Food waste is a huge problem, but at least John Oliver was finally able to offer an easy solution to something he covered: tax breaks for farms and businesses that donate unwanted food. It won't solve the entire problem, but it would certainly help a lot of people.

    Screengrab via Last Week Tonight/YouTube


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    The patrons of Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey, came for live music and a good time, but what they got instead was infinitely better: a surprise Bruce Springsteen concert.

    Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers were about 20 minutes into their set when Springsteen came onto the stage. Grushecky called Springsteen “the king of New Jersey” while introducing him, a sentiment many Springsteen fans would heartily endorse.

    Springsteen and Grushecky—who have collaborated together for decades, including on multiple shows at the annual Light of Day festivals in Asbury Park—then played 15 songs together over the course of two hours.

    The two musicians haven't played together in Asbury Park since 2004, but they were just as solid as ever.

    Springsteen, a rockstar and New Jersey legend with a large and loyal fanbase spanning decades, got his start in Asbury Park and is known to occasionally pop up to play in his old stomping grounds around the Jersey Shore town. He last played at Wonder Bar in 2011 with J.T. Bowen and the Sensational Soul Cruisers as a tribute to Clarence Clemons shortly after his death.

    Springsteen's final song of the night, “Light of Day,” was dedicated to all of the people who rushed to Wonder Bar after hearing about Springsteen’s surprise appearance but couldn't get into the packed bar.

    H/T PIX11 | Photo via Takahiro Kyono/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    This article contains discussions of suicide that may be triggering to some readers.

    After an X-rated video surfaced of 19-year-old Carter Reynolds purportedly sexually pressuring a now ex-girlfriend, the Vine star took to a livestream service to lash out at a fellow Vine user and threatened suicide to his millions of Internet fans on Twitter.

    READ MORE: Vine’s Carter Reynolds pressures his ex for oral sex in leaked video


    Late last month a video surfaced that appeared to show him pressuring Instagram star and then-girlfriend Maggie Lindemann into performing oral sex on him. She refuses, and the camera pans to reveal Reynolds’ naked body. He quickly released a statement calling the whole incident a “huge misunderstanding,” and this week he continued to talk about the video and its implications.

    Lindemann began posting updates from the hospital on July 19, which some fans assumed had something to do withReynolds, who had been holding court on livestreaming platform YouNow for two days speaking about Lindemann. Reynolds took to Twitter to tell the world he’d been with Lindemann and she was fine. But he then made his first mention of suicide, saying, “i don’t even want to live anymore.” Lindemann swiftly responded that Reynolds was making fun of her for being hospitalized.

    Reynolds had spent time on YouNow ranting about Lindemann repeatedly, as well as dropping allegations about fellow Vine stars like Hayes Grier having sexual contact with Lindemann. Reynolds deleted the streams, but they have been uploaded to YouTube in part.

    Grier responded with several pointed tweets.

    Reynolds began talking about ending his life on his Twitter feed after Lindemann’s photo post. His tweets stopped at 12:18am ET July 20. 

    Lindemann responded that suicide was not something to joke about, and that she’d be taking a break from Twitter.

    Reynolds also alleged in his YouNow stream that Lindemann texted him threatening police involvement, although no one has been arrested.

    However, police did investigate a previous incident in April 2014, when Reynolds’ 43-year-old half-brother, a teacher, threw an unauthorized pizza party for students to meet Reynolds. Word got out, over 1,000 people tried to attend, and the older Reynolds was put under investigation for insubordination, but later reinstated to his job. Stemming from the same incident, a 14-year-old who attended the event claimed she had sex with the Vine star that day, but charges were never filed.

    The Daily Dothas reached out to Reynolds and will update the story with further developments.

    For more information about suicide prevention or to speak with someone confidentially, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) or Samaritans (U.K.). 

    Screengrab via Carter Reynolds/YouTube


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