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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    At their show this week in Colorado, Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters went viral yet again. The Foo Fighters' singer/guitarist found a grown man in the crowd who was crying during an acoustic version of, "My Hero." So, Grohl brought him up on stage and, after nearly misting up himself, he sang directly to the man he called a "drunk, emotional mess."

    It was sweet. It was spontaneous. And, like most everything the Foo Fighters touch lately, it was viral gold.

    If you've seen a ton of Grohl and company in your Twitter timelines and on your Facebook feeds, you're not alone. Because the Foo Fighters, in the middle of a U.S. tour, seem to have taken up residence in every corner of the Internet universe.

    Either Grohl is serenading a man with tears running down his face—apparently the man had just buried his mother—or he's being wowed by a Canadian performing a solid imitation of Rush singer Geddy Lee during a "Tom Sawyer" cover. Or he's stopping the show to let a fan perform on drums. Or he's breaking his leg while falling off the stage, only to return to finish the setlist. Or he's unveiling a kickass resting throne for his broken leg.

    Or, 1,000 Italian musicians are paying homage to the band and beseeching its members to play a show in their town.

    Two decades after an eponymous debut album hit stores, the Foo Fighters remain one of the biggest bands in the country, one of the most popular in the world. And people can't help but click on the videos that showcase the exploits.

    But why does everything the Foo Fighters do go so viral? I've been a fan since I saw the original version of the Foo Fighters at a small club in Atlanta in the mid-'90s (I remember the lead singer of the opening act, Michael Franti from Spearhead, moshing next to me during the set), and I still dig the band. Yet, it's not difficult to understand why some are annoyed that social media has to smack us across the face every time the band does something notable.

    In times like these, there must be a reason, right? Of course there is. Let's see why the Foo Fighters have made good on the promise to keep sticking around (in our social media feeds).


    1) Everybody tapes everything at every concert ever these days. If something original happens, it'll be posted on YouTube. Now, if something funny or weird happened at a metal show in front of 300 people, the Internet probably wouldn't take notice. But with the popularity of the Foo Fighters, it's almost impossible to keep the images of a crying man hugging Grohl under the radar. I saw Green Day at a small venue in college, in the valley of the band's career between the Dookie and American Idiot albums, and during the show, the band picked three people from the audience to take over the guitar, bass, and drums and play a Green Day song. If YouTube or the term "viral" had existed at the time, a stunt like that probably would have done so.

    Here's what a more recent version of the stunt looked like.

    Here's the thing: In the 17 years since that clip of Green Day, also a monstrously popular band, was posted, almost 2.1 million people have seen it. Almost 1.3 million people have watched the latest Foo Fighters video in just the last two days.

    2)  A still-sharp sense of humor. Grohl is funny—he's always been funny—though maybe not everybody would agree. The funnier you are, the more people will want to laugh with you online. Grohl's reaction to the Canadian man channeling Geddy Lee was hysterical.

    That sense of humor and childlike joy shown by Grohl is one reason that a number of YouTube versions of that performance have been viewed than 1.5 million times in less than a week.

    3) Foo Fighters are still so very popular: Find me another mainstream rock band who has had the staying power of Foo Fighters and who can fill arenas (and a stadium every now and again) all over the world. Aside from U2, not many do. One of my Daily Dot colleagues called Grohl the Taylor Swift of the dad-rock genre. At first, I believed that to be untrue. But look at the guys in the viral videos. All of them could be dads. I'm a dad. Maybe the Foo Fighters is to my generation what Elton John and Billy Joel were to my dad's generation and what Lawrence Welk was to my grandfather's generation. The difference is the dads of this generation eat YouTube clips for breakfast. 

    4) As a corollary, mainstream rock has never been less dynamic and interesting. The Foo Fighters carry the flag for one particularly comfortable sound, and do so admirably. Someone has to take on the electric Mumfords of the world—the guy with the wallet chain who is still peeling off black polish from his nails needs a hero too.

    5) The broken leg and rock throne: Since injuring himself, Grohl has been less mobile on stage, and that seems to have helped the viral process. Though he's still playing his guitar, Grohl has to sit and watch as his unknown co-stars make themselves temporarily famous. As he sits, he has to cede part of the spotlight to others, and the inclusion of a wide variety of others seems to keep these videos fresh. It's not Grohl all the time. It's the teary-eyed man in the plaid shirt, it's the Canadian who can hit those high notes, it's the 1,000 Italians. Grohl isn't the only one getting the best of you. It's everybody else who's helping make this happen.  

    Or as Grohl told the crowd after saying goodbye to the crying man at the Colorado show, "You never fucking know what's going to happen when you come to a Foo Fighters show."

    I suppose that's true. But it's also a good bet that you'll see it the next day all over the Internet.

    Screengrab via Concertaholicsshirts4/YouTube 


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    As a game in the franchise that started esports, StarCraft 2 was one of the first titles to incorporate esports into its development. But it sure is missing a lot of esports functionality. Five years after the release of the title, Blizzard is finally trying to fix that problem.

    A feature long pined for by the game’s esports fanbase, automated tournaments, is coming to the beta for the upcoming StarCraft expansion, Legacy of the Void

    Blizzard stressed that the beta uses a “very early implementation” that’s lacking planned functionality and is bound to have bugs. But that’s why it's bringing it to Beta now, to smooth out the kinds before the expansion’s release.

    The only way to play competitive multiplayer in StarCraft 2, outside of custom games, is to queue up for the ladder. That's a harrowing process that often afflicts players with something called "ladder anxiety": the fear they’ll lose and drop in rank. Plus, the ladder doesn’t mimic some of the features of tournament play, like a map selection process or best-of series.

    Automated tournaments aim to fix that by offering players of all skill levels a more structured way to compete.

    In the new system, players will sign up for an open tournament and select their race. Weekdays will feature three-round, single-elimination tournaments aimed to last 60 to 90 minutes, while weekends offer a lengthier experience with a group stage feeding into a bracket and a three- to four-hour target time.

    The tourneys feature a map veto system similar to professional play, in which each player vetoes three maps for every round of the tournament.

    To ensure events don’t get out of length (a single match can last hours under the right conditions), Blizzard will enforce a 25-minute time limit. After that, a player will be declared the victor based off an “experience point” system, which rates play based off metrics like money earned and units destroyed. With the sweeping changes to the speed of the game coming with Legacy of the Void, that 25 minutes equates to about 35 minutes in the current expansion, Heart of the Swarm. That means the vast majority of matches will finish up by that point. But it remains to be seen whether strategies will emerge that exploit the scoring system and draw out games.

    Regardless, the automated tournament addition is certainly a welcome change, even if it’s a little late. Fans have been clamoring for something similar since the game’s launch, but it’s taken until now for players of any skill level to have a way to experience a tourney environment.

    Blizzard indicated the feature was coming at Blizzcon last year, but it’s hardly a new idea. In fact, WarCraft 3, Blizzard’s 2002 real-time strategy title, ran its own automated tournaments. It’s better late than never, but fans pining for an esports renaissance for one of the pastime’s most storied games hope its not too little, too late.

    Correction: Aug. 19, 4:16pm: The update has not yet arrived in beta.

    Screenshot via Blizzard


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    The political theater surrounding the 2016 election is already pretty comical on its own, but a group of YouTube jokesters just took it to the next level.

    The team behind Bad Lip Reading, having conquered domains from Beyoncé and the NFL to The Walking Dead and Twilight, returns at long last to the fertile soil of presidential debates.

    In this hilarious tweak of the GOP’s first presidential debate, Ben Carson doesn’t make the strongest showing, but we do get to learn invaluable lessons about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s favorite snacks and Donald Trump’s pigeon, Lucas don Velour. The second half kicks into a catchy musical interlude that truly must be heard to be believed.

    Hey, at least it’s not just the Trump show this time around.

    H/T Washington Post | Screengrab via Bad Lip Reading/YouTube


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    If you drew a family tree leading back from MTV, pay-per-view, cable, Internet porn, YouTube, and Vine to its common ancestors, it would look like the kudzu devouring a creepy Southern mansion. And it would all lead back to one gnarly stem buried deep in the leaf mould and forgotten: Soundies.

    The history of the Soundie

    Soundies were three-minute movies—usually musical, but sometimes fan dances or burlesque performances—that were available on a kind of movie jukebox called a “Panoram,” a coin-operated, 16mm, rear-projection cabinet, set up in bars and bowling alleys. Less than 2,000 Panorams were made, and they were only around from 1940 to 1946, but they introduced actors like Ricardo Montalban, Doris Day, Cyd Charisse, and Alan Ladd.

    They also allowed African-American musicians a platform at a time when they weren’t welcome in feature films, at least not as the stars. Thanks to Soundies, jazz and blues musicians like Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong were the original YouTube stars. Black actors like Dorothy Dandridge and Stepin Fetchit, who played only supporting roles in mainstream movies, were stars in the Soundies.

    “These were people who were known from radio, from their work on stage.”

    Soundies, and their descendents, Scopitones, were a function of their time and place—wrapping up war and mob culture and transitioning into a time of forgetting and cheap commodification. They also gave birth to the modern and multifarious world of media entertainment we live immersed in today.

    According to the UCLA Film & Television Archive's Soundies page, Panorams presented their offerings on 800 contiguous feet of film. When you dropped your coin, you got whatever was cued up. In order to reach the widest market, Panorams were full of music ranging from “country and western to Russian balalaika music, tenors singing Irish folksongs, the big band swing music of Stan Kenton and Tommy Dorsey and jazz greats Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole.”

    It might be tempting to watch Soundies and presume the unusual acts and unknown performers were “novelty” acts.

    “I call that committing cultural hubris,” said Mark Cantor, of Jazz on Film.com. “You might look at a Soundie, for example, Frank Novak and his Rootin’ Tooters, and say, ‘this must have been someone they picked up off the street.’ But very few of the Soundies featured no-name talent. These were people who were known from radio, from their work on stage.”

    “The Panoram came out in the height of the war period,” Todd Wiener, motion picture archivist at UCLA, told the Daily Dot. “People wanted to go out and forget their troubles. This was another one of those escapist things that was part of the period.”

    But when it came to this new entertainment, the war both gave Soundies an audience and stripped them of the hardware needed for their continued existence. Soundies launched on the Panoram in January 1941. But when war was declared at the end of that year, all the materials needed to build and rebuild the devices went into the war effort, according to Cantor.

    By the time the war was over, he told the Daily Dot, and the soldiers, sailors, and marines came home, they were ready to settle down. The cabaret tax made going out more expensive. In short, no one was interested anymore.

    Introducing the Scopitone

    About a decade or so after Soundies bit the dust, their color successor the Scopitone arose, though for an even shorter time. There were only about 800 Scopitone machines across the U.S. at the height of their popularity.

    According to celebrated graphic designer (and Scopitone enthusiast) Art Chantry, Scopitones had an even more colorful story than the films would indicate.

    “The truth was that they were all run and created by the mob,” he told the Daily Dot. “They ran the coin-op industry in America, and they were trying to cash in on American youth (and provide cover for their cash businesses elsewhere). So, they simply had their interested ‘friends’ provide acts and do the production—in Europe. The result was this stilted, weird version of ‘American’ pop. It was as if the Rat Pack tried to go disco or something.”

    Modern marvels

    Today, Soundies are mostly the purview of music, film, and American culture historians. But don’t think for a moment that they grew, bloomed, and died away forever. They had a tangible effect on the birth of the digital age.

    No technology exists in a vacuum, so all the apps and Web tech we utilize on a day-to-day basis have antecedents. That’s not a controversial statement.

    Where it gets odd—and wonderful—is when you realize that the stuff you use every day has its origins in a technology you never knew existed. Here are a few of the things your phone and tablet are loaded with—that you probably used in the last 24 hours—which started with the first Soundie, and to a lesser extent its weird cousin, the Scopitone.

    YouTube

    Perhaps the most logical connection, YouTube is a technology to share short video offerings. Comics release comedy shorts, bands share music videos, and people don tiny pants and dance about: all activities that debuted on the Panoram with Soundies.

    Vine

    Scopitones featured short, dippy offerings, which were produced by indie producers on the cheap. The notion of getting attention by the public by making an end run around movie studios and radio stations started here. There is a little-acknowledged technical advance here as well which parallels Vine’s trajectory: Scopitones were color when most television was still black and white, while Vine provided easy access to free video when few services could do so.

    MTV

    This is the easiest relationship to track. The first music videos were Soundies. Drop in a coin (modern parallel: pay your cable bill), and you got to watch a staged musical performance. Because Soundies were arranged on a reel, you had to watch what came next. You couldn’t select a specific song as you did with a jukebox. So you might get Johnny Long’s “Caterpillar Shuffle” when you wanted Ellington’s “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good,” in much the same way that you fired up MTV wanting to see The Clash’s “Combat Rock” and winding up with Classix Nouveaux’s “Guilty” instead.

    Cable

    Want to see movies and other offerings outside the mainstream? Want to see things more “adult” than you’d see in movies and broadcast? Want to see voices that are censored in the bulk of media? Drop a coin in the Panoram. Or get cable. Both technologies produced work (and artists) later acknowledged as top-shelf. Black musicians and actors in particular got a leg up thanks to Soundies; cable has given a spotlight to directors focusing on everything from the rural American West to the black urban East Coast.

    Internet porn

    To say there is more of artistic and social value to“Variety Girlsthan to Ass Masters 3 could win an award for understatement. But to claim that the former isn’t designed to elicit arousal is silly. Both Internet porn and Soundies offer the discerning gentleman and lady a chance to purchase a reasonably priced flush of blood to their secret areas.

    Exploring the best Soundies

    Every hipster bar from Brooklyn to Silver Lake should, by all accounts, house either a Panoram or a Scopitone machine. Then again, what those technologies had to offer is already right there, on your phone and at your fingertips, and thanks to video-sharing sites like Soundie grandchild YouTube, the films have been made accessible again.

    So here are a small selection of the little films your grandparents and great-grandparents used to Fonzie up with during an evening of drinking. The music is better, the women hotter, the men more handsome, and the ideas weirder than anything on your smartphone right now. 

    1) Dorothy Dandrige and Paul White, “Zoot Suit”

    2) Lane Truesdale, “Who’s Yehudi?”

    3) “Miss Mystery”

    4) The Mills Brothers, “Lazy River”

    5) Amalia Aguilar, “Afro Mood”

    6) Count Basie and His Orchestra, “Air Mail Special”

    7) Joi Lansing, “The Web of Love”

    8) Gale Garnett, “Small Potatoes”

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    The quiet-loud-quiet formula has been the dynamic foundation of many a contemporary band, but Shana Falana might have perfected it. 

    Set Your Lightning Fire Free (Team Love), the new album from the Brooklyn duo of guitarist Falana and drummer Mike Amari, certainly feels touched by ’80s and ’90s shoegaze, heavy on reverb and amber waves of feedback. However, there’s a pulse in there. The blissful “Heavenstay” wraps necks with the heavy trudge of “Go” and 4AD strains of “Shine Thru.” So many new-gaze bands attempt to hide a lack of ideas behind a wall of sound, but Falana’s voice is its own muscled instrument, which keeps the music from falling into a reverb slump. 

    The Daily Dot has partnered with Daytrotter to highlight one session a week, which will be available to stream here exclusively. With this four-song session, Shana Falana experiments with loud-quiet-loud to great effect. Go ahead and dive in. 

    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 | Remix by Jason Reed 


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    Have you hugged a YouTuber today?

    For fans, that may be an impossible task, but one pillow company is helping along the process with a new line of pillows inspired by YouTube stars. It's starting with Joey Graceffa.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately) the pillows are not the Japanese dakimakura body pillows, or love pillows, emblazoned with a full-body image of Graceffa. Instead it's an adorable plush pillow in the shape of a wolf, a homage to Graceffa's dog. For his 5.1 million subscribers these aren't the first Graceffa-themed pillows fans can buy, but the first officially licensed and endorsed by the YouTuber.

    The company also makes emoji-themed pillows, and a YouTube pillow in the shape of the all-important subscribe button.

    “Since the early days of Throwboy, our brand was welcomed into the YouTube community,” said Throwboy Founder and CEO Roberto Hoyos in a press release. “We are thrilled to be teaming up with top creators on something only Throwboy can offer.”

    Graceffa's $24.99 pillow is available for pre-order, with more YouTuber options like Meghan Camarena and Matthew Santoro coming soon.

    H/T Tubefilter | Photo via Throwboy | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III


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    YouTube makeup artist and vlogger Stef Sanjati opened up to her followers about her identity, coming out as a transgender woman in her most recent video.

    "I’ve come to understand that I am transgender. I’ve come to understand that I’m uncomfortable with my maleness, not my masculinity," she told her 65,000 subscribers in the clip.

    Sanjati began posting makeup tutorials and video game content last year, but has branched out on her channel to include social commentary as well. Last month the Canadian-based creator alluded to her transition in a vlog on gender identity for the collaborative channel Perfect Androgyny.

    While the bigger name YouTubers with followings in the millions often get the attention for their coming-out videos, more niche YouTubers like Sanjati are encouraging open and honest discussion among their fans. Just like when Harry Potter activist Jackson Bird came out earlier this year as transgender, fans have taken to Sanjati comments to both congratulate her on her openness, and discuss their own gender identities and questions.

    "I'm only 14 and I have no clue what gender to identify as," writes follower Prince Saryna, who goes on to describe their various emotions about their gender. Several fellow fans chimed in with support and advice about accepting oneself.

    YouTubers who come out as transgender are not only inspiring their community, but also making their mark more widespread. Recently Oscar-winner Eddie Redmaynecited Bird's coming-out video as influential in his process for portraying a trans woman in an upcoming film.

    Sanjati's only been out for a day, so she's not inspired any Hollywood actors just yet, she is pushing back at terminology and phrases around transgender people and transitioning, speaking out against the idea of "feeling trapped" in her body.

    "I will not tell you I feel like a boy trapped in a girl body," she explained. "This is my girl body. When it has breasts on it, it will still be my girl body. It’s not going to be a different body. I’m not switching bodies. I’m not trapped. I am more free than I have ever been in my life."

    H/T GayStarNews | Screengrab via Stef Sanjati/YouTube


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    Straight Outta Compton has been in theaters for less than a week, but the biopic—which chronicles the origin and career of iconic rap group N.W.A.—has already inspired an endless supply of personalized memes and a goofy array of parodies.

    And now, courtesy of the Internet, we finally have a Muppets/N.W.A. syncup! The Animal Robot video features beloved muppets Kermit and Fozzie gleefully lip-syncing N.W.A.’s “Express Yourself.” Believe it or not, it’s a pretty perfect fit.

    Press play, and cruise into the weekend.

    H/T BroBible | Screengrab via AnimalRobot/YouTube


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    For a music video director, a VMA nomination can be a pretty big deal in terms of exposure and opening doors. After Josh Forbes was nominated, his excitement turned to dismay when he realized he’d literally have to pay to open that door. 

    Forbes, a filmmaker who directed the video for Walk the Moon’s megahit “Shut Up and Dance,” which was nominated for Best Rock Video, found out about the honor earlier this month. But after inquiring about tickets and hitting dead ends, he discovered he’d actually have to pay if he wanted to attend the show. That would cost him anywhere between $450 and $800 a ticket. (Another nominated director also discovered he wasn’t invited after getting radio silence from MTV.) 

    “When I found out, I called MTV and they said, ‘Who do you want to speak to?’” Forbes told the Daily Dot via email. “And I explained my case and said, ‘Um, whoever someone is supposed to call when they are nominated, I guess?’ Then I talked to my rep, who has been down this road hundreds of times, and she basically said, ‘Don't worry about it. It sucks but that’s just how it goes.’” 

    Baffled, Forbes, who has also directed videos for Sara Bareilles and Good Charlotte, decided to crowdfund a ticket via GoFundMe. He created the project Aug. 15, propping it up with this logic: 

    I'm looking at this as a sort of social experiment. If I could get a bunch of people to donate a few bucks a piece I just might have a shot at going to this silly thing. 

    And if I go, I'm not just going for myself, I'm going as a champion for the little guy. The outsider goofball who wasn't invited to his own party.  I represent every little guy with a dream, hoping for a shot at the big leagues. Is that too grandiose? Perhaps, but it's worth a shot. 

    As of Aug. 20, Forbes has collected more than $2,300, which afforded him and his “very pregnant wife” a chance to go to this “silly thing.” Friends and strangers alike chipped in and offered support, and in the GoFundMe pitch, Forbes said any money beyond the $1,300 would go to a suit and an Uber. What are his plans now? Well, he still needs a suit. 

    “All I wear is jeans, plaid, and horror movie T-shirts,” he said.
    “I’m kinda a mess that way. We need to get my wife a dress too. I’ve had offers from places to style [us] for free, so we'll see how that pans out. 

    "If there’s money left over, which is looks like there will be, I’d like to make some sort of donation to my kid’s school," he added. "My son is visually impaired and goes to an amazing nonprofit school called the Blind Children’s Center.” (He says that if people still want to donate to the cause, they can give money to the school here.)

    Forbes admits that even though people are consuming music videos on YouTube way more than MTV (Walk the Moon’s video has more than 85 million views), the VMAs still hold some weight. So what does it mean that creators are being priced out? 

    “I don't really know the history of the award show so I can’t really comment on it, but my guess is that it’s a vestige of the old era,” he said. “It’s like how we still have a tailbone. When we were all tadpoles, it made a lot of sense. In the same way, this industry used to be so bloated and overflowing with money that an $800 ticket to a major label or even a major production company might feel like a drop in the bucket. Back in the day, videos cost a couple hundred grand and up. Right now, if there’s a budget that’s $75,000, you’re lucky to even get the chance to write an idea for it.”

    And it’s not just directors who are on the hook. “Every director has to submit a treatment for a music video just for the chance to be considered,” Forbes explained. “So what happens is, they'll reach out to 20-30 people and get them all generating ideas for free. It’s a ton of work. Sometimes it takes me a whole week to write one treatment because I'm designing the document, as well as writing the idea. … That whole system needs to change. I’m fine with pitching, but it’d be nice to know I have a 33% chance of getting it. Even a 20% chance would be nice. Right now it feels like we're all busting our ass for a 3% chance at a $30,000 video. Which, in the end, will pay us (typically, but usually lower) 10%. So we’ll work for a week for a 3% chance at earning $3,000. All the while, we’re toiling for a mega corporation, for people with expense accounts and bands that are pulling in big-time money. It’s frustrating. 

    “So on the one hand, I’m really glad that music videos exist. I’m glad that I was able to work my way up in them. I still love music videos and love collaborating with artists. It would just be nice to see some changes in place that help us make a little better living so we can do what we do best.” 

    We’ve reached out the MTV for comment and will update if and when a representative responds. 

    H/T The Daily Beast | Screengrab via Josh Forbes/Vimeo 


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    The next series to get a green light at Hulu? Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's Future Man

    Deadline reports that several outlets were vying to grab the half-hour comedy series. The script, written by frequent collaborators Ariel Shaffir and Kyle Hunter (they co-wrote the upcoming animated film Sausage Party with Goldberg and Rogen), was originally set to be a movie, after executive producer Matt Tolmach purchased it four years ago as part of a Sony movie deal. The script is now going to be shaped into a pilot, and focuses on a janitor/renowned gamer who must save the world from extinction. We're guessing weed and dick jokes will also be involved. 

    A Hulu representative confirmed that the deal is happening. Future Man is the latest is a string of impressive titles for Hulu, from new comedy Difficult People and Jason Reitman's upcoming Casual to the return of The Mindy Project

    A premiere date has not been set for the pilot yet. 

    H/T Deadline | Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)


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    Whether you’re a Serial junkie, hooked on This American Life, or addicted to Radiolab, you likely know the hypnotic power of the modern podcast. Anna Rubanova and Siobhan Thompson of the sketch-comedy podcast Left Handed Radio are huge fans of public-radio style podcasts, and they’ve created a hilarious, loving parody of Radiolab’s exploratory narrative style.

    The first episode of What If…? asks a perfectly silly, yet plausible question: What if humans laid eggs?

    Thompson and Rubanova are perfect as invested but emotionally out-of-touch hosts who probe and interview their subjects with relentless gusto. They spoke to the Daily Dot about their love of public radio, bringing a Radiolab-esque odyssey to life, and plans for future episodes.

    What inspired the episode? Are you fans of this style of radio/podcasting?

    Siobhan: We loved the very-specific style of pop science and documentary shows on NPR and wanted to find a way to lovingly parody that. I love radio, I grew up in the U.K. where BBC radio is still a huge cultural phenomenon.

    Anna: I'm a huge public radio junkie as well. Obviously, the big influence for this was Radiolab but there are many exceptional, sound-rich podcasts being produced these days—99% Invisible, Invisibilia, and The Heart and Criminal are great in particular—but Joe Frank is required listening. I wouldn't be interested in radio at all if it weren't for Joe Frank.

    How did you create the world of the episode? What was your writing process like?

    Siobhan: We wrote the framework which was then improvised by the cast. That makes sense, right?

    Anna: Yeah, I think so. Siobhan and I then stuck around to record our dialogues and "deep thoughts," already knowing what we had in the can. So there was a lot of backwards engineering. I got to "write" while editing as well—adding sound effects that changed the context of the scene. Without the right audience laughter, Dr. Sex sounds like he's bombing during his standup set.

    And everyone sounds like an idiot without the dreamy/precious music underneath their absurd ranting. Speaking of music, Matt Rubano wrote our amazing theme, and our hilarious cast of improv friends—Betsy Kenney, Dru Johnston, Adam Bozarth, and Jon Bershad—made the episode come alive.

    Left Handed Radio has been releasing sketch comedy episodes for some time. Any plans for future What If episodes?

    Siobhan: Maybe? Probably? Yeah.

    Anna: We actually recorded three episodes of What If before Siobhan moved to L.A. The plan was, if people really liked the show, we could find some way of making more. And Left Handed Radio has been churning out audio comedy for half a decade. We may branch out occasionally but always return to the podcast. We'll keep producing sketches along with occasional themed episodes.

    Rubanova and Thompson also co-host Duplicast, an Orphan Black fancast on WNYC. You can find episodes of Left Handed Radio on Soundcloud and iTunes.

    Photo via Kate Ter Harr/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Becoming a millionaire is cause for celebration, and when you're a millionaire in terms of YouTube subscribers, a tribute video is the perfect party to throw.

    YouTuber Meghan Camarena hit the milestone this week and decided to treat her fans to a flashback to her most popular video to date, a lip-sync cover of Owl City's "Vanilla Twilight," which exploded for Camarena back in 2009.

    In addition to her subscribers, Camarena gives special thank to her brother, who appears in both the original "Vanilla Twilight" video and the remake. She also brought back the video's original director for the remake. 

    The video pays homage to her eight years on the platform, with throwback clips to defining moments. Camarena is known off YouTube for two appearances on The Amazing Race with fellow YouTuber Joey Graceffa. Camarena runs her Strawburry17 channel like a TV network, with shows released during traditional seasons. Up next for fall Camarena will bring nerd-themed cooking shows, video game shows, and toy videos.

    Screengrab via Strawburry17/YouTube


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    BY SUNDI ROSE-HOLT

    A new app called WhipClip is taking water-cooler chatter to the next level.

    As TV evolves into a multimedia platform, producing quality, evocative programming, so must  our interactions evolve with it. Talking about TV used to consist of a group of like-minded watchers gathered around a water cooler the next morning, talking about the previous night’s episode. With the advent of social media, the water cooler has moved from an actual space to a virtual one, where people gather in communities designated by hashtags. It’s now possible for you to keep current with a show you’ve never even seen.

    The evolution continues with WhipClip, the latest in app technology that allows its users to watch a live TV show, record up to 40 seconds of it, and post the clip to the app for followers and friends. It also interfaces with other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, so that you are able to share the clip across multiple platforms.

    By giving users the ability to easily share all those juicy, jaw-dropping moments of TV in a legal, convenient way, WhipClip drives traffic to both the WhipClip app and the shows themselves. This also allows TV providers and producers a way to crowdsource promotion for their shows. I spoke with Chief Operating Officer Dan Brian and he shared how WhipClip was born, where the company stands on spoiler culture, and what we can expect from the app in the future.


    Remember when Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman went bananas during a network TV interview with Erin Andrews after the Seahawks won the 2014 NFC Championship? Everybody was scrambling to try and show his rant to their friends, but all people could access was a shaky YouTube video with terrible sound.

    WhipClip co-founder Richard Rosenblatt wanted to share that moment with his son, but he couldn’t find an easy or legal way to do so. Rosenblatt called his soon-to-be partner, Ori Birnbaum, and together they brainstormed solutions, diving into lots of data and statistics to see if the numbers could support their new idea. It turns out, they could. Meet WhipClip.

    “The average American watches four and a half hours of TV per day that accounts for 96 percent of their viewing time,” explained Brian, citing a Nielsen report they consulted during their research. Most of that time is supplemented by a secondary high-quality screen such as a smartphone or tablet; with over 100 million TV-related Tweets sent every month, audiences are usually interacting with at least two screens while they watch television. This is WhipClip’s bread and butter.

    Brian says the WhipClip mission is to make sharing video “easy, legal, and fun” and that the primary purpose is to “enable those moments,” like Sherman’s sideline rant, so that viewers don’t have to hold their phones up to TV screens to create a poor-quality video to share over and over with friends.


    But how does it work? How is it possible for a viewer at home to clip live TV and post it online within a few seconds? Brian says that it starts with signals—HLS signals, to be exact. These signals are translated into formats specific for streaming video in a fraction of a second.

    WhipClip acquires these signals from local cable providers, collects those signals into bundles, encodes them for streaming, and then stores them in the cloud. When a WhipClip user goes to clip the desired moments from a show, the user is able to access the last two minutes, with only a three- or four-second delay. You can even text and email clips, without ever leaving the app itself, making the GIF game practically obsolete.

    Content providers—that is, networks and shows—have a lot of rules about what is off-limits to clip, when and how users can clip a show, and when the clips will appear on the app’s community pages. This allows the content providers to trust WhipClip with their intellectual property.

    This obviously raises questions about copyright and infringement problems, but Brian is adamant that WhipClip has the legal right to share everything that is available to it. “We have rights to approximately 120 shows,” he explains. “There is no copyright or fair use that comes in to the equation, because we actually have a deal with [networks].”

    Indeed, networks can share the streaming rights and clipping capabilities with WhipClip for some shows and not others. This allows for content providers to prioritize shows that might need more exposure.

    For example, VH1’s Candidly Nicole might not get as much press as other, higher-profile shows like Dating Naked, but the coverage Candidly Nicole receives from WhipClip can raise its presence and drive viewers to that show when they might not otherwise be aware of it.

    WhipClip already has access to shows from all the major networks and several cable stations, but Brian pledges that his team is “working to get more and more shows in the coming months.”

    It’s also working on improving functionality for its users, like WhipClip’s already-in-place strategy for dealing with spoilers amid the social media minefield of fan reactions. “If you clip who got the rose on The Bachelorette at 5 o’clock your time, we here in L.A. can’t actually see that until three hours later—until that moment has already aired,” Brian explains. In addition to the delay functionality, you can also mark a clip as a spoiler with one click inside the app, effectively warning your followers that the content is likely to give something away and sparing you from angry followers coming after you for revealing something they didn’t know already.


    WhipClip has its eye firmly on the bigger picture, however, and spoilers aren’t really where it wants to invest the most energy. In terms of the greater vision for the app, Brian says, “As much as we’re trying to deliver value and make it fun for the user, we’re trying to add value for the content providers as well.” He envisions WhipClip as a tool for shows to find a wider audience through the clipping and sharing of moments on the app.

    It’s easy to see the ripple of that water-cooler effect across industries and fandoms alike.

    He believes that WhipClip can be instrumental in getting a show noticed, using clipping to “drive discovery” of programming that may not necessarily be getting the attention of viewers. WhipClip is also drilling down on the capability for a more global search, including new search functions that will “allow people to really find the specific moment they recall, or they heard about or discussed at the water cooler that morning.” If implemented successfully, the search function could benefit fans and networks, as well as writers and publishers looking to embed a specific moment in a story. It’s easy to see the ripple of that water-cooler effect across industries and fandoms alike.

    But WhipClip doesn’t want to usurp Twitter’s reign as the go-to source for news, TV-related or otherwise; rather, Brian and his team want to work as a companion to Twitter and other sites. Brian predicts WhipClip will find its place in the social media universe through shows with huge built-in viewerships, like The Bachelorette or Project Runway.

    He is quick to qualify his predictions, however. He doesn’t envision WhipClip as “yet another place to talk about [TV],” and he’s not interested in fracturing the online community water cooler further. He’s content to maintain “good relationships with other social media applications” and exist parallel to them.

    At some point, the app could evolve into a destination in which users come and talk about TV, current events, and more. But for now, it’s an app strictly for sharing clips with other TV lovers and savvy social-media users.

    And it’s making our global water cooler just a little fuller every morning.

    WhipClip is free for download in iTunes and GooglePlay.

    Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III


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    One Direction launched the next part of their career by getting none other than NASA itself for their first post-Zayn Malik music video.

    Shooting at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, and Niall Horan, each got to experience the different kinds of rigorous training exercises that the astronauts use to prepare for travel to the ISS, Mars, and beyond.

    Throughout the video, Styles encounters Robonaut, a “human-like robot,” Horan tests out the Partial Gravity Simulator, Tomlinson drives a Space Exploration Vehicle rover, and Payne trains inside of an ISS replica.

    The only thing bringing 1D down? The gravity, of course.

    According to NASA, the group then filmed inside of a replica the Orion Spacecraft, a ship currently in-development in order to handle deep space exploration. And with millions of eyes on NASA, the organization is providing more information about its Journey to Mars mission and educating what might be the next generation of astronauts and scientists with the power of 1D. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    Screengrab via OneDirectionVEVO/YouTube


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    Lohanthony is giving his fans a peek into his playlist with his first compilation CD, which is now available for presale from newly formed Heard Well Records.

    Lohanthony, also known as Anthony Quintal, is releasing Landscapes, a collection of 12 emerging pop, alternative, and electronic artists. It can be preordered on Heard Well’s site for $14.99, which includes a signed poster. The album will be delivered Sept. 8, and Heard Well promises to release the track list in early September.

    “Music has always been a deep part of my identity and something my viewers have been asking for more access to,” Quintal said in a statement. “Heard Well is a great way for me to share the music I love with my fans, give more access into my personal tastes and help promote musicians I love.”

    Lohanthony is the second influencer to release music under the Heard Well banner. Cofounder Connor Franta found both Billboard and iTunes success with his third compilation CD, Common Culture, Vol. 3, earlier this summer. The label promises more releases to come from YouTubers like Jc Caylen and Amanda Steele.

    Screengrab via Lohanthony/YouTube


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    Snapchat isn't just about silly selfies and self-destructing sexts. There's a whole host of celebrities using the platform to communicate more casually with their fans.

    READ MORE: How to follow celebrities on Snapchat

    From Madonna showing an exclusive glimpse of a music video to Arnold Schwarzenegger sharing pics of his workouts, fans have a new platform to tune in to. Here's a list of the 10 most exciting celebrities to follow.

    1) Meghan Trainor

    Snapchat username: mtrainor22

    Megatrons will be happy to know that the pop star is all about that Snapchat. She is pretty active on the platform, sharing selfies and snaps of her cats.

    2) Jared Leto

    Snapchat username: jaredleto

    Jared Leto posts multicolored snaps (he's a fan of the doodling option) of his Hollywood lifestyle as well as behind-the-scenes pics of tours with his band Thirty Seconds to Mars.

    3) Madonna

    Snapchat username: madonna

    The Queen of Pop used Snapchat to exclusively premiere a new music video from her "Rebel Heart" album. You can take a pic of her Snapcode so you don't miss any future content.

    4) Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Snapchat username: arnoldschnitzel

    Arnie uses Snapchat to share the ordinary things he's up to on a day-to-day basis. In addition to glimpses of the big man himself, expect lots of emojis.

    5) David Guetta

    Snapchat username: davidguettaoff

    The French DJ superstar can be seen on Snapchat sharing footage of his travels and shows all around the world. It's fun to live vicariously through him.

    6) Jennifer Lopez

    Snapchat username: jlobts

    J-Lo joined Snapchat back in March. Since then, she's shared some celebrity occasions, as well as more down-to-Earth moments at home with her kids.

    7) Justin Bieber

    Snapchat username: rickthesizzler

    Beliebers went crazy when the Canadian star revealed his Snapchat username back in June. The Bieb posts silly video clips and selfies for his adoring fanbase to croon over.

    8) Miley Cyrus

    Snapchat username: mileycyrus

    Not known for shyness, Miley often uses Snapchat for scandalous selfies and snaps of her with celebrity pals.

    9) Ryan Seacrest

    Snapchat username: ryanseacrest

    TV host Ryan Seacrest has plenty to share on Snapchat and has even been known to send snaps directly to some of his followers.

    10) Rihanna

    Snapchat username: rihanna

    You can expect some red carpet glamor and exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpses of a pop star's busy schedule. 


    Now that you know who to follow, here's a guide on how to find them.

    Thomas Hawk/Flickr


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    What better way to explain YouTube to a mainstream TV audience than with a musical number? James Corden is doing just that in his opening for a YouTube-centric edition of The Late Late Show.

    “It’s YouTube, where time goes goes to die!” croons Corden while a man in a banana suit dances behind him.

    YouTubers have made appearances on talk shows and late-night TV before, but Corden is the first to dedicate an entire episode solely to digital celebs.

    “We’d be lying if we said we weren’t reaching out to a certain extend to that new crowd to say, ‘this show is for you, and late night is for you,’” Corden told the Hollywood Reporter about his intentions with the show. Corden has used YouTube to build his base in the months on the air without a Late Show lead-in. Stephen Colbert will take over Sept. 8, and he’s already building his own YouTube presence as well.

    Corden’s musical number taps into the stereotypes of YouTube users, with lines like, “It’s always there for anyone who should be working,” and it strokes the egos of the platform’s creators by calling it “the greatest gift that God could ever give” and “your reason to live.”

    The video does rely on older and decidedly mainstream YouTube “viral videos” to set up its jokes, instead of speaking to the YouTube landscape of today. There are mentions of Double Rainbow, Charlie Bit My Finger, and the Harlem Shake. But the show can get away with the vintage feel, since it’s also a celebration of YouTube’s 10-year anniversary. 

    As for the guests, they’re decidedly current, with the episode featuring YouTubers like Tyler Oakley, Jenna Marbles, and the guys behind Epic Rap Battles of History. The episode airs Aug. 21, and then—naturally—in clips on YouTube.

    Screengrab via The Late Late Show with James Corden/YouTube


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    Visual albums are all the rage, and it looks like Troye Sivan might be experimenting with one in the teaser for a trilogy of narrative music videos around his new album, Wild.

    Sivan is one of the most successful recent YouTube-to-music crossovers, generating mainstream press as an artist to watch. TRXYE, his first EP, debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard charts, and the video for "Happy Little Pill" has more than 16 million views, surpassing many other YouTubers who've turned to music.

    There's little information about the Blue Neighbourhood trilogy beyond the 15-second teaser Sivan released on Aug. 20 to coincide with Wild pre-orders. The clip ascribes to Sivan's gauzy video style, cutting between images of children playing, an older man drinking, and two boys—one of whom is played by Sivan—alternatively arguing and becoming intimate.

    "Blue Neighbourhood is a trilogy of music videos that accompany WILD, and is very very close to my heart. this whole project has been such a dream come true for me, and i hope you all love it as much as i do. love is love, yo," wrote Sivan on the YouTube page.

    Wild will be available Sept. 4.

    Screengrab via Troye Sivan/YouTube


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    Is every man each other's "bro?" Does he have to place that "bro" in front of any supposed "hoes" regardless of if he's complete strangers with the aforementioned "bro?"

    YouTuber Aria Inthavong tested out the limits of the "bros before hoes" concept in a recent social experiment. Would strangers in the park back him up in an argument with his supposed girlfriend?

    The concept of "bros before hoes," according to Urban Dictionary, is one where the man must put his male friends above his girlfriend, or "hoe." This means a man would choose to spend time with his "bro" over his girlfriend. The bond of the bro is sacred. However, does that bond of manhood extend to all men, even if they're strangers? According to Inthavong's video, it does.

    In the clip, Inthavong runs at random men, tells them to have his back before his angry girlfriend shows up. Inthavong then claims to have been with the stranger the night before. The stranger keeps backing up the lies, making up places they went, things they did, and ways the pair met, as the girlfriend quizzes them. The deception only falls apart when the girlfriend finally asks if they know her boyfriend's name. "Kevin," one man guesses incorrectly, before dropping the facade and telling him he's on his own.

    But Inthavong told the Daily Dot via email that he expected these results:

    I actually wasn't surprised by their reactions, I think if I were worried that they wouldn't play along, we probably wouldn't have gone ahead with the shoot. But I just knew that these guys would play along, and not necessarily because of any "bro code". Just imagine yourself walking down a street, some crazy, out-of-breath Asian man runs up to you, and thrusts you into this situation. There are three ways of handling it - you can walk away (as a couple did), you can play along, or you can just be honest and say that I'm lying. Out of all those options, the one that'd be most awkward for you would be to sell me out, because then suddenly you're responsible for starting a fight - and no one wants to be in the middle of that. That's what I was anticipating, and it worked out, because not a single man that day outright told my "girlfriend" that I was lying. They'd either walk away or try their best to play along. Psychology!

    Based on this limited experiment, it seems that at least all men are willing to be "bros," on good faith, but their bro-ship can only extend within the limits of intellect and plausibility. Hopefully some bros who watch this will realized they should just tell people when another man, friend or not, is a liar.

    Editor's note: This story has been updated for context and clarity. 

    H/T BroBible | Screengrab via Aria Inthavong/YouTube


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    BY TODD LONGWELL

    Following a worldwide search of thousands of applicants, Netflix has rounded up a group of young actors to fill out the cast of Stranger Things, a new supernatural drama series written and directed by siblings Matt and Ross Duffer (Wayward Pines, Hidden). The show’s eight hour-long episodes are scheduled to premiere exclusively on the streaming service on all areas where it is available in 2016.

    New cast members Finn Wolfhard, Millie Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Natalia Dyer, and Charlie Heaton join previously announced series stars Winona Ryder and David Harbour.

    The 1980s-set series was initially titled Montauk, reflecting its planned Montauk, Long Island, setting. The action has now been moved to Indiana.

    Described in Netflix press releases as “a love letter to the ’80s classics that captivated a generation,” Stranger Things tells the story of a how a community’s search for a missing boy draws it into a mystery involving top secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces, and one very strange little girl.

    Ryder will portray Joyce, a working class single mother reeling from the disappearance of her 12-year-old son. Harbour will play the town’s chief of police.

    Wolfhard co-stars as Mike, a bullied 12-year-old who becomes an unlikely hero in the quest to save his best friend. He previously co-starred in the series The 100 and the independent films Aftermath and The Resurrection.

    Read the full article at the Video Ink.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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