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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Rapper and producer Kanye West hit the Saturday Night Live stage with all the online goodwill of viral families who ditch their 10-year-old dog at the shelter: New York magazine labeled his Thursday fashion premiere "Fuccboi heaven," he tweeted in solidarity with Bill Cosby, and turned particularly combative and antagonistic about his art in the weeks leading up to seventh solo album The Life of Pablo.

    Good thing the mainstream's most experimental rap superstar connected on his three SNL appearances. 

    His sketch cameo wasn't actively funny—he rapped new one "I Love Kanye"—but within the context of the Kyle Mooney joke he worked to land the punchline.

    He performed apparent single "Highlights" first. Then, an arresting and manic "Ultralight Beam" alongside Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price, The-Dream, gospel hero Kirk Franklin, this child's devoutly religious sample, and an earth-leveling choir.

    Two days after the promised release date, the seas parted immediately following SNL as that Pablo CDQ was uploaded onto West's website and beamed across Tidal

    Photo via Peter Hutchins/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed


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    Valentine’s Day 2016 may not have been the end of the world as Ghostbusters II proclaimed, but we still caught a glimpse of the weird and unexpected.

    The first trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie won’t debut until March 3, but director Paul Feig offered a 30-second teaser. We don’t see any of the main Ghostbusters cast or the monsters that have made New York their new haunt, but we do see the police and military gearing up for a fight against something unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Something tells us their arsenal will be useless.

    Who you gonna call? the trailer asks. That’s a fairly easy question. They’re gonna need all the help they can get.

    Screengrab via Sony Pictures Entertainment/YouTube


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    The Internet loves a grand conspiracy theory.

    From the shows and movies that rack our brains to true crime, truther movements, and those of the reptilian variety, we can’t resist diving down a good rabbit hole. They might not have a shred of evidence, but that doesn’t matter to the people who craft and believe them.

    One of the greatest conspiracies of all has little to do with 11.22.63Hulu’s latest big splashes into original content to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. But for the limited series—which is compelling and intense, despite sometimes uneven pacing and rushed storytelling—that doesn’t really matter.

    The limited series from J.J. Abrams, which fittingly premiered on Presidents Day, is a mostly faithful adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. It’s a balancing act between a period drama and a sci-fi-esque thriller that follows Maine high school English teacher Jake Epping (James Franco) as he’s looped into an elaborate time-travel scheme from an unassuming little diner. He becomes deeply involved in diner owner Al Templeton’s (Chris Cooper) obsession to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy—and eventually recruited to finish what Templeton couldn’t do.

    Templeton has spent years gathering notes and obsessing over all of the possible players: Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone? Was he put up to it by someone else? One thing Templeton is sure of is that if Kennedy hadn’t died, the Vietnam War wouldn’t have happened, nor the deaths that came with it. When failing health prevents Templeton from going back in time to prevent the assassination himself, he recruits Jake to pick up where he left off.

    The rules of time travel are explained in a rather straightforward manner from the get-go, which makes it easy to follow. The portal takes you to Oct. 21, 1960. No matter the amount of time you spend in the past, only two minutes pass in present-day. If you go back to present-day and go back to the past again, everything you changed the first time around resets. And the people in the past aren’t the only force working against you.

    “The past doesn’t want to change, and there are times when you’ll feel it push back,” Templeton tells Epping. “If you do something that really fucks with the past, the past will fuck with you.”

    Epping is forced to quickly acclimate into 1960 and set up shop in a time where he doesn’t exist yet, all while testing the many taboos of time travel, whether it’s trying to call his father or attempting to save the family of one of his present-day students. Although he does it for Templeton, Epping’s reasons for going back in time aren’t as convincing, and every so often the past working against him and some ominous words of warning seem like they might get to him.

    But once the dust settles, the show manages to tackle of the more subtle themes of the time, from sexist double standards and gender roles to racism and segregation, plus the threat and fear of Communism amongst Americans at the time. Occasionally, it mirrors The Man in the High Castle in that a single change in history can have ramifications beyond anything we can imagine.

    At times, the first episode (which clocks in at 91 minutes) feels overlong. But it takes some time for Franco to settle into the role, and once he does, he offers a nuanced take on a man who seems more comfortable in his own skin in the past than he does in his own time. We watch intently as he juggles trying to figure out Oswald’s possible guilt and the risk of becoming too attached to a time where he doesn’t belong. He’s surrounded by a talented supporting cast including Sarah Gadon, Josh Duhamel, and T.R. Knight. Daniel Webber as Oswald is a particular standout; his performance gives a man shrouded in so much mystery and conspiracy a multitude of dimensions, even if they aren’t exactly pleasant to witness.

    While some of the show’s conflicts don’t have enough of an effect to make a huge impact, the characters are compelling enough to make you care. And before it all ends, they might just have you convinced.

    The first episode of 11.22.63 is available to stream on Hulu.

    Screengrab via Hulu/YouTube


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    Mobile networks continue to push into the realm of digital entertainment, with AT&T launching Hello Lab last week. The move begins a year-long partnership between the company and 10 digital creators.

    Stars like Grace Helbig, Damon and Jo, Us the Duo, and Snapchater Shonduras are signed on to take part in the project, which will be shot on mobile phones and live on creators' own channels—although AT&T has developed a full social media presence to support the project. The deal is also in partnership with multichannel network Fullscreen.

    The first series launched is Dare To Travel, featuring YouTubers Damon and Jo, which follows them on an eight-city trek that they're sharing with fans. Across all the Hello Lab programs, the push is for creators to make content with their fans. 

    "Because the more we connect, the better it gets," explains its Twitter.

    AT&T isn't the only provider getting in the game. Last year Verizon launched go90, a new platform for digital content that's seen several releases of new series by established YouTube creators. While AT&T isn't launching its own platform with the Hello Lab project, it is tapping into the key creators who appeal to the mobile video audience.

    Screengrab via itsGrace/YouTube.


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    The 58th annual Grammy Awards takes center stage tonight and the official preshow has streamed live since noon PT. Some stars have already won huge before music’s biggest night. Here are five things you missed during the preshow.

    1) Taylor Swift wins big, reacts bigger

    Swift scored best pop vocal album for 1989, for which she called in live onstage to accept, and best music video for her hit song "Bad Blood" featuring rapper Kendrick Lamar. The star went crazy on Twitter with a video of her and bestie Selena Gomez.

    2) Grammys tweet Kanye

    Kanye West tweeted why he wouldn’t be attending the show this year and the Grammys tweeted back with zing.

    3) Timbaland jams that new Kanye

    The legendary producer stopped for an interview with Grammy correspondents wearing headphones around his neck. He explained he was listening to West's latest work The Life of Pablo. Timbaland crowned the album as "great" and "well put together."

    4) Kid pianist captures crowd

    Joey Alexander, 12, performed at the Grammy Premiere Ceremony. The preteen's jazz piece stunned. His album is up for best jazz instrumental album and best improvised jazz solo.

    5) And the preshow big winners are...

    • Skrillex and Diplo: best dance recording for "What do you mean?" with Justin Bieber; best dance/electronica album for Jack U
    • Alabama Shakes: best rock song for "Don’t Wanna Fight"; best alternative music album for Sound & Color
    • Kendrick Lamar: best rap song for "Alright"; best rap performance for "Alright"
    • Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson: best pop duo/group performance for "Uptown Funk"
    • Ed Sheeran: best pop solo performance for "Thinking Out Loud"
    • The Weeknd: best R&B performance for "Earned It"
    • Jason Isbell: best Americana album for Something More Than Free

    Screengrab via E!/Eonline.com


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    With those paying $5.99 a month to access the All-Access service from CBS, Monday night must have been a cacophony of frustrations. That's because the livestream abruptly cutoff just before the end of the Grammy Awards preshow and didn't start back up again in time for the actual awards show, leaving those cord-cutters (and everybody else who didn't have access to the CBS network broadcast) literally in the dark for at least 90 minutes.  

    Naturally, people were mighty displeased by their inability to watch Taylor Swift dominate the opening number or see Kendrick Lamar win a slew of awards or Dave Grohl rock out to Lionel Richie.

    This woman, we presume, ended up very angry—unless her stream miraculously began working just in time for the performance.   

    CBS launched its All-Access service in late 2014, and it allows consumers to watch 7,500 episodes of network shows on demandwhile people in 130 TV markets can watch live CBS online. Yet, for one of the network's biggest nights of live entertainment, the stream went bust. At the time of publication, CBS had not commented on the outage.  

    Yet, as usual, some people figured out how to solve the program.

    Photo via Trey Graham/Twitter


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    A little more than a month following the death of rock legend David Bowie, the tributes continue to pour in. And on Monday night, on one of the biggest stages of them all, Lady Gaga broadcast a solid homage to one of her biggest heroes.

    Flanked for much of the time on guitar by Nile Rodgers, who produced and collaborated with Bowie, Lady Gaga ran through a nine-song Bowie medley that produced a few of the bigger moments of the Grammy Awards.

    The visuals also were entertaining. This moment in "Space Oddity" opened the tribute.

    From there, Lady Gaga went into "Changes" and "Ziggy Stardust" before continuing with "Suffragette City," "Rebel Rebel," and "Fashion." Meanwhile, she was going through a myriad of costume changes—and Bowie eras.

    She went from "Fame" to "Under Pressure" and completed the set with "Heroes."

    Some loved the performance.

    But not everybody was a fan of the medley.

    Even so, kudos to her commitment, because it's obvious she loved—and was influenced by—Bowie.

    A few days before her performance, Lady Gaga—who walked the red carpet dressed as Bowie's Ziggy Stardust character—showed how much Bowie means to her by getting a tattoo of his face on the left side of her rib cage.

    And she was so moved on Monday as she was getting her makeup applied, she Instagramed a video of tears streaming down her face.

    Yet, once her performance was complete, there was also this reminder. Bowie wasn't exactly popular with those who vote to give out the Grammys.

    Screengrab via CBS


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    On a Grammy night that made time to showcase the runaway Broadway success of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton, it was rapper Kendrick Lamar who stunned with transcendent musical theater. 

    But when it came time for the actual, prime-time awards—album of the year and song of the year—mainstream heroes Ed Sheeran ("Thinking Out Loud") and Taylor Swift (1989) elbowed Lamar from the frame to claim the trophies.  

    The performance of To Pimp a Butterfly standouts "The Blacker the Berry" and "Alright" was electric and shocked social media with its prison industrial complex-spotlighting flare of trembling raps from the Compton, California, rapper. He donned handcuffs as his sax player blared from inside a jail cell. Shimmering in white against a black backdrop, the continent of Africa—with "Compton" stenciled in the center—punctuated the spectacle's baseline intent: Lamar was here to enlighten. 

    "Isn't a song worth more than a penny?" asked National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences President Neil Portnow, standing alongside rapper Common. It was an awkwardly direct dig at streaming music—and the night's second most political moment.

    Elsewhere, Justin Bieber disturbed with a star-crossed mustache and indulged Skrillex's rock roots.

    Lady Gaga paid tribute to the late David Bowie with an ample medley of his greatest hits, while the Eagles, B.B. King, Maurice White, and Lemmy Kilmister enjoyed celeb-loaded homages. (Lemmy's featured Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, and Joe Perry's sideband Hollywood Vampires kicking "Ace of Spades," and it was boldly ridiculous.)
    Beyond the forced Grammy moments and tributes, viral "All About That Bass" YouTube goddess Meghan Trainer took home best new artist honors; Adele sang off-key; and Dave Grohl enjoyed the procedural Vegas-like structure of Lionel Richie's tribute. 

    But, perhaps most curiously, one particularly high-profile billed guest (no, not Rihanna, who publicly canceled a Grammy performance despite making the red carpet) was missing from the moment.

    Pitbull made it out to perform with a dazzling Sofia Vergara after the awards all went to pop magnets, quelling the Web's restlessness once and for all.

    Screengrab via CBS.com


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    This article contains autoplay video.

    Politicians, pundits, reporters, and the rest of us have tried to make sense of Donald Trump for months now. He’s openly xenophobic in his speeches, tweets support from neo-Nazis and white supremacists, says he would bring back waterboarding, and insulted Sen. John McCain over his military service. His comments would doom anyone else's campaign.

    But as Daily Show correspondent Jordan Klepper points out, maybe it’s because we’re not viewing him in the right context. It doesn't make sense through a normal lens, but when you consider Trump as the ringleader of an actual circus? Now you’re talking.

    After finding out what constitutes the “greatest show on Earth” from someone in a real circus, Klepper goes deep into a Trump rally in New Hampshire (the one where he referred to Ted Cruz as a “pussy”) to witness the show. And what a show it is, right from the opening brags, as Trump mocks the gathered media and deploys the surefire tactics he uses whenever he starts to lose people.

    Circus or not, of course, his proposed policies are still terrifying to many people. 

    Screengrab via The Daily Show


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    The cast of Broadway's hit musical Hamilton performed at the Grammys Monday night and one Democratic presidential nominee took the opportunity to get relatable. 

    Just as the performance started, Hillary Clinton tweeted out a lyric from the song "The Election of 1800" where Thomas Jefferson asks James Madison if they can, "get back to politics, please!" 

    By and large, people seemed excited by the tweet. Actors Dashiell Eaves and Kevin Daniels even kept the song going, tweeting lyrics back at the former Secretary of State.

    While other fans just seemed impressed that Clinton was tweeting about the musical at all:

    Other attempts at topical Grammys posting did not go so smoothly. People magazinecongratulated Bruno Mars on his win by Instagramming a photo of Mystikal performing with Mark Ronson on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallona misstep Questlove of The Roots screenshotted and pointed out on his own Instagram

    The magazine has since replaced the pic with one that actually features Mars, but that screenshot will live on in infamy. 


    H/T TechInsider | Screengrab via Hillary Clinton/Instagram


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    Kim Kardashian is no stranger to the red carpet, and she just revealed how she keeps her boobs looking so flawless in dress after elaborate dress: strategic tape. 

    In an Instagram Tuesday night, the social media genius revealed her personal strategy for keeping everything immaculate—even if the concept of boob taping isn't new to you, Kim's particular method may be. In her caption, she teases a larger tutorial she's hidden behind her app's paywall.

    The benefits of her strategy are numerous: The tape obviously lifts the boobs and holds them in their desired position, but it also leaves a nice chunk of bare chest available for any plunging necklines an outfit may have. Plus, it seems to conceal that pesky armpit area dresses tend to accentuate.  

    Something tells us we'll need more than a roll of tape to look like Kim in a dress, but hey, it's a start. 

    Screengrab via Kim Kardashian/Instagram


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    When I spoke to Genevieve Aniello, she'd just been in a soul-sucking three-hour call with Bank of America during which she was transferred roughly nine times. Naturally, she documented her struggle in meme form.  

    This is the kind of engagement Aniello does on a daily basis, though hopefully with less personal strife. Since late 2014, she's handled social media for the Comedy Central's Broad City. That encompasses Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr, all platforms where the show's following has grown organically over the last year. But Aniello—the younger sister of Broad City director and writer Lucia Aniello—says numbers aren't as important as how engagement has increased. 

    Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the stars and creators of Broad City, both of whom had previously worked SEO jobs, collaborate closely with Aniello to ensure message and voice. That includes harnessing the power of relatable hashtags: #weekendvibes, #mcm, #wcw. 

    Last year, #yasqueen, which Aniello says was a catchphrase around the writer's room first, became part of the show's branding, a hashtaggable term of encouragement and camaraderie. That carried over to support for season 3 guest Hillary Clinton

    While Jacobson and Glazer aren't personally addressing fans on social, there's a tone to Broad City's Twitter that followers are familiar with. People feel like they're friends with Abbi and Ilana, or share similar views, especially after the account declared public support for Planned Parenthood in December.   

    Instagram is one of the show's lodestars. In the debut episode of season 3, which premieres Wednesday, Abbi introduces Ilana to an artist friend, who claims she recognizes her from Abbi's Instagram.

    "That means so much to me, thank you," Ilana earnestly responds. 

    Aniello says she typically opens up comments when she posts something to Instagram, which allows fans to tag their friends. It's a subtle way of saying what many women (and men) have said about Abbi and Ilana: Hey, their friendship is just like ours. 

    "[It's exciting] being able to see how fans relate not just to the show but to each other," Aniello said. "It's representing this ride-or-die friendship that people can relate to, girls or guys. It's not just females who are engaging on our social media." 

    Fan art is also a big part of the Broad City social strategy; different pieces are featured on the show's Instagram as part of #fanartfriday, which spotlights an array of artists and illustrators. That extended to an IRL art space in early February, when fans were asked to help with a Broad City mural.   

    Anja Venter, a South African artist who's been featured on #fanartfriday, drew her portrait as part of a daily Instagram project for her "best buds" series. 

    "I guess I relate to Abbi and Ilana, as both a creative and a feminist," she said. "I've been following their webseries since the early days, and it's been excellent to see this scrappy duo get their weird brain baby onto network television. And all by their own rules. It's an ethos that's been really meaningful to myself and a bunch of my creative friends in Cape Town. If I could, I would give them a really powerful running high-five for being who they are."

    Natalie Bond, a Cleveland-based artist who made an incredible needlepoint tribute to Amy Sedaris's character, says she's embraced Broad City because "true role models exist in that show." 

    "There's so much pressure in this country—for women, especially—to be a specific model of chastity, hotness, naïveté, and competitiveness that I think is very unrealistic," she said. "And the women portrayed in popular media very often reflect the truth: Women want to fuck around, get high, make art, have fun, get laid, and be heard as still competent and intelligent." 

    Artist Lorenza Bluetiz reimagined Ilana's nude model scene from season 2 and gave it a "pop art" twist (as well as a place on a tote bag and iPhone cover). "I love the series from the beginning," she said, "[the] freshness and simplicity of its humor." 

    In a 2015 interview with the Daily Dot, Glazer explained that they're “trying to make the world of Broad City the real world." Last year, Comedy Central released the keyboard app so fans could text dank memes 24-7. Aniello also helped create the Body by Trey and Al Dente Dentist websites as real extensions of its fictional world. 

    It's hard to think of a comedy that's had as much success integrating those two worlds as organically. Angie Tribeca has done wonders with social media and branding its satirical tone, but it's not as personal. The Big Bang Theory's Facebook engagement is impressive, but it's also been on a bazillion years. 

    But Broad City social is always on, even when the show's off the air. After talking about her Bank of America ordeal and how she dealt with it in memes, Aniello reassures me of something essential: "I love the Internet very much," she said. "I think it might be my best friend." 

    Photo via Comedy Central 


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    The Donald Trump TV call-in has become a staple of the 24-hour news circus, but now Trump is bringing it to late-night.

    Instead of returning to The Late Show couch, Trump called into Stephen Colbert’s special “Trump Phone,” an orange rotary phone with a blond wig to keep it warm, while taking a short break from campaigning in South Carolina. Like every other host on late-night TV, Colbert has been mocking him on a daily basis, but he mostly kept this conversation light as he grilled Trump on his potty mouth, his plans to charm South Carolina, and most importantly, what he was wearing.

    Trump told Colbert that the words the host was not allowed to say on TV without being censored were “very minor words” and that sometimes he was bleeped even after he self-censored. And when asked how he'd handle the task of choosing a Supreme Court Justice during an election year, Trump revealed that he would do it even though he believes it’s the Senate’s right to stop him.

    "So you would let someone tell you what to do?” Colbert asked. “This is sounding less like Donald Trump."

    Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube


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    One of the biggest questions about Fuller House ahead of its Netflix premiere has been how to fill the Michelle-sized hole in the show. It remains to be seen how the showrunners will do that, but we finally have an idea of what the youngest Tanner has been doing: trying to make America great again.

    Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show manage to mash up Trumpmania and pure ’90s nostalgia—two things that wouldn’t go together in any other circumstance—by inserting Fallon's Donald Trump impression straight into the world of Full House.

    Fallon is now the Michelle of the family, calling out for one of his three dads after being unable to sleep. Bob Saget’s Danny Tanner shows up, but he’s quickly joined by Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) and Uncle Joey (Dave Coulier). D.J., Stephanie, Rebecca, and Kimmy Gibbler (Candace Cameron-Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Lori Loughlin, and Andrea Barber) aren’t far behind, because no life lesson is complete without an entire family (and neighbor) intervention.

    Fallon tries to act tough and “yuge” by being a jerk, but eventually he admits that he’s scared that, even though he’s leading in the polls now, he might not win the Republican presidential nomination. It takes the big Tanner family lullaby—the Full House theme song—to calm him down.

    “And just remember Donald, if you win and become president, that’s great,” Saget says. “But if you lose and don’t become president, we’ll be even prouder.”

    Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    BY GEOFF WEISS

    Have YouTube’s biggest pranksters become too big for the Internet? That’s the oversized premise of the forthcoming Natural Born Pranksters—a feature film that conjures notions of Jackass and stars three of the Web’s most notorious mischief-makers: Roman AtwoodDennis Roady and Vitaly Zdorovetskiy.

    The Lionsgate feature, which fittingly arrives on April Fool’s Day in about every format imaginable—including in theaters and on digital HD, VOD and DVD—will include a host of new stunts, pranks and social experiments from the trio, who together count more than 28 million subscribers and 3 billion views.

    An uproarious trailer, featuring the guys terrorizing strangers, friends and family members—as well as other bold-faced YouTubers like Jenna Marbles and Furious Pete—premiered today on each of the prank artists’ YouTube channels. Scenes range from hilarious to potentially insensitive: In one skit, Atwood is burned to a literal crisp by a malfunctioning tanning bed. In another, the trio rigs a Chinese restaurant with cameras and play audio of dogs being killed and cooked in the kitchen.

    Check it out right here:

    Natural Born Pranksters was financed and produced by Studio 71 (formerly Collective Digital Studio), and directed by Atwood and Ben Pluimer, who has also worked with fellow YouTubers (and Studio 71 creators) Epic Meal Time on the FYI series Epic Meal Empire.

    Ahead of the film’s release, Atwood, Roady and Zdorovetskiy are embarking on a nine-city screening tour beginning on March 21 in Washington, D.C.

    Screengrab via Lionsgate Unlocked/YouTube


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    OM Cityis the kind of thing that is only ever a couple of missteps away from terminal tedium. It’s a webseries that tracks the personal growth of an uncertain NYC yoga instructor. Examining the clash between her everyday problems and the seemingly generic spiritual practices of her vocation—played over a backdrop of silences, yoga classes, and “purge” sessions—there is a clear risk that the series could tumble down the rabbit hole and emerge up its own ass.

    But from the very first sequence of the series, which follows Grace (Jessie Barr), late for class, as she sprints several blocks, it is clear that we’re in good hands. The rapid camera pursuit is exhilarating and delivers a quick hit of doubt to those who may have prejudged it. While a rare moment of action in the series, it remains hanging above it, a reminder that the languid nature at the show’s base is by choice rather than due to some limit in skill.

    It’s such a smooth, comforting ride that we almost don’t notice that OM City has essentially no narrative. The writer and director Tom O’Brien—who previously helmed the feature Fairhaven starring The Mindy Project’s Chris Messina, who cameos here—could be faulted for this. Sure there is a peripheral story about Grace’s sick mother, her brother is writing a novel while supporting himself by drug dealing, and there is a small, damp spark with her boss (O’Brien, her real-life husband) but these are all secondary to her own meandering introspection.

    This preoccupation with the ontological makes sense if you consider the series to be a companion piece, or an artistic representation of the yoga that it features and the act of meditation itself. I don’t think I’m overreaching to posit this; the series is certainly made with an intelligence that suggests that this could be its intention.

    But as fascinating as that sounds from a theoretical perspective, the pragmatist within demands something slightly more dynamic. O’Brien writes such crisp, naturalistic dialogue that you wish he’d use it to develop some of the onscreen relationships, while Barr would be even more engaging were her life not made to seem so transitory.

    These are criticisms of a lovely series that, to be sure, run counter to its intentions. And they may be things that a second season means to rectify, with Grace having progressed to a different stage in life, one with more certainty. But not everyone has the patience of the yogi, and if you mean for them to hang around, things sadly must be sped up.

    Screengrab via OM City The Series/Vimeo


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    Mystic war hero Jay Electronica set the rap Internet ablaze with a new song this week. On it he performed like a cage fighter, and took shots at headlining commodity Kendrick Lamar for being a "sambo."  For now, however, his sacred-scroll mp3s remain as frustratingly sparse as ever. 

    It was more than six years ago that Jay Electronica rose to prominence in the rap scene with a couple of singles and a newborn with the queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu. He was immediately hailed as a savior of sorts by the NahRight.com blog crowd for his conscious lyrics and weathered, witty wordplay.

    Electronica was already in his 30s when he released “Exhibit A” and “Exhibit C” in 2009. He arrived complete with a nomadic, almost Biblical story of traipsing the country, spending time in most every major city from Houston to New York—accruing knowledge along the way. If it were 1992, he definitely would’ve been the subject of an “Unsigned Hype” article in the Source.

    It didn’t take too long for Electronica to be signed by a label. He joined Jay Z’s Roc Nation and soon after did a song with the label head himself, “Shiny Suit Theory.” It was good enough to forget that Electronica really only had a total of three songs out. (There was also a 15-minute rap from Electronica’s Myspace days and some other early music that began to surface.)

    But there’s never been a follow-up album, extended play, or even a real single. This has left fans both completely frustrated by the output and also drawn in by the increasing mythos. During one of his extended breaks between releasing music, it was reported that he had been dating a member of the infamous Rothschild family–and in turn cuckolding her now ex-husband.

    No matter how disappointing Electronica's verse-a-year output continues to be, rap blogs and people on the Internet who love enlightened, dense, and academic rap can’t help but flip when Electronica does put out music. In 2013, that was by accident with the Big Sean song “Control.” Social media likewise went crazy when the other featured artist on the song, Kendrick Lamar, listed a number of other rappers he openly claimed to be better than.

    The next year birthed the fantastic “Better in Tune with the Infinite” and in 2015 there was “Road to Perdition” along with strong hints that an actual album was brewing. Any time a new song by him surfaces, it’s usually so good it can’t be ignored. Fans can’t quit him no matter how little he shows up.

    Electronica continued his molasses-slow rollout on Monday with the song “The Curse of Mayweather.” Over rolling percussion, Jay covers a whole lot of ground with his lyrical miracles. He quotes A Tribe Called Quest, references Ronda Rousey, Jango Fett, Nikola Tesla, and Henry Kissinger, plus the line, “It’s magic the way I created fame out of folklore/We got bigger than Tom Hanks when he was playing by the Zoltar.”

    The most notable thing about “Mayweather” is that it dropped following a seething Periscope session that the rapper broadcast last week. In it he once again mentioned the “upcoming” album that’s been in progress for the better part of a decade, and he said some slick stuff toward Grammys leading man Lamar and former superstar arena rapper, 50 Cent. It basically amounted to “I’m a better rapper than you,” but it’s the most attention around his name in years. 

    But if the past is any indication, rap bloggers will have to wait at least another year for Electronica to say anything else.

    Screengrab via b1tchlizard/YouTube


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    On a recent episode of Late Night, Seth Meyers had a new target in his sights: Martin Shkreli, the controversial pharmaceutical CEO and perennialInternetpunchingbag.

    There are plenty of ways Meyers could mock him—and he did. But while some late-night hosts might just move onto the next joke, Meyers went on to make the bigger point that Shkreli is far from the only person in pharmaceuticals who is price-gouging drugs astronomically.

    It’s the sort of politics-laced hot take that Meyers has become known for in the two years since he’s joined the exclusive (albeit not very diverse) late-night club. The hosts have changed seats more than a dozen times in a two-year span, affecting nearly every available spot with the exceptions of Jimmy Kimmel Live and Conan, but sharp interviews and political know-how set Meyers apart. A political spin might rake in only a tenth the number of views as a game of musical beers with Ryan Reynolds and Katie Holmes, though. So where does that leave Late Night?

    Late-night landscape

    Now that everyone has settled into their respective shows for the most part—Trevor Noah is only a few months into The Daily Show, Samantha Bee only started her late-night reign with Full Frontal on Feb. 8, and Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show is coming later this year—they have to figure out how to bring in and keep that audience nightly or weekly. But the current crop of hosts have a bigger task on their hands that their predecessors never had to worry about. It’s not just about ratings anymore: You have to go viral the next day, too. They’re all playing the same game, and some are better at it than others.

    Seth Meyers made a show that’s practically anti-late-night in every way.

    Jimmy Fallon is largely known for his variety sketches and celebrity games, and he’s easily beating everyone else at it. Jimmy Kimmel does pranks and mean tweets. Stephen Colbert, free from the right-wing persona he embodied for a decade, is sharper and looser on a new show where he may still be trying to find himself. James Corden has combined variety and a Graham Norton-esque couch for all of the guests to sit and chat at once. Noah has tried to both embrace and shy away from Jon Stewart’s schtick with mixed results in his first few months behind the desk. Larry Wilmore brings a panel in to debate the topic at hand. Conan O’Brien is the same as always, but he’s at his best when he gets out of the studio. Bill Maher has been praised for Real Time for years, but oftentimes his achievements are overshadowed by his offensive and Islamophobic comments. Oliver has turned the explainer into an art, inspired real-life changes, and regularly got people to watch a 15-minute-plus informational video when the mere idea of it is an Onion punchline, which is a minor miracle in itself.

    And Meyers? He’s a little harder to pin down. In the two years since he took over Late Night, he’s done something that nobody really expected: He turned it into a place people went to for their news, made a show that’s practically anti-late-night in every way, and become a terrific interviewer right under our nose and with the odds stacked against him. And with the 2016 election in full swing, it’s a hell of a time for him to to come into his own, too. But more people tune into Carpool Karaoke the morning after than will tune in for a thoughtful interview with a candidate.

    Meyers is the late-night host we need right now, but not the one we deserve.

    By the numbers

    Just look at the stats.

    The top 15 videos are a good indication of what every other hosts’ “thing” is. For Fallon you’ll find Lip Sync Battle (the segment, not the show) and Wheel of Musical Impressions; aside from a couple of buzzy interview clips and Kevin Hart riding a roller coaster, they all have a musical element or nostalgia. Same with Corden, whose top videos are almost exclusively Carpool Karaoke segments with the exception of two One Direction videos and a bit with Tom Hanks; his drive with Adele created the most viral video since 2013. Kimmel’s most successful videos are Mean Tweets, YouTube challenges, and the Captain America: Civil War trailer. Oliver has explainers, a majority dealing in American politics. O’Brien’s is a mix of remote segments and buzzy interview bits. (Both Noah and Wilmore’s clips are featured on Comedy Central’s YouTube channel, which is mixed with other shows like @midnight, Key and Peele, and Inside Amy Schumer.)

    All of these hosts have dozens (some even hundreds) of videos with more than 1 million views. How many does Meyers have? Eighteen.

    He’s got the fourth best ratings of late-night shows on broadcast channels behind Fallon, Colbert, and Kimmel (who all air an hour earlier than Meyers), according to the latest tally, but that’s not reflected at all in his online numbers. His show has the least amount of Facebook likes among the hosts in broadcast, even behind Corden; only The Nightly Show, which started nearly a year after Meyers’s Late Night, has lower numbers. He’s the only late-night host to have less than 500,000 YouTube subscribers.

    And that’s even counting when Meyers plays the viral game: The majority of his top videos feature fellow Saturday Night Live alumni, such as a Maya Rudolph impression, a revival of a “Really?!” bit from his and Amy Poehler’s Weekend Update days, a Bill Hader SNL impression, or the Game of Thrones trivia game with Poehler and George R.R. Martin. His most popular segment is an example in line with what other shows are doing: a sketch about bringing Jon Snow to a dinner party. The other main one among his top 15 videos is a trailer for Boston accents.

    But unlike the other hosts, his most popular videos aren’t as great of a showcase of what he does best.

    Strong suit

    Late Night has always been weird. Letterman first had the show in 1982. The show’s had three more hosts since then, and each one brought something to the table that nobody else in late-night TV was doing. With less of an audience watching—it started at 12:37am, after some of the earlier shows’ audiences went to bed—the hosts have a little more creative freedom. Just look at what Craig Ferguson did on The Late Late Show, Late Night’s main television rival for more than 20 years.

    On any given episode of Late Night, you never know what you might see.

    Letterman, noted even back in the ’80s to be an “acquired taste” for audiences, brought out gags and wasn’t afraid to drop the politeness with a guest—making fans of pretty much everyone who came after him in the process. O’Brien had recurring sketches and guests such as the Masturbating Bear, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, insulting countries just to see where he aired, and putting Abe Vigoda through everything. Even back when Fallon played those variety games on Late Night just a few years ago, they felt fresh; now it’s become the late-night standard.

    On any given episode of Late Night, you never know what you might see. Celebrities will always come on to promote their latest film or TV show, but in between that you could get pretty much anything. With Meyers, they’ve become conversational in a style that Ferguson excelled at—and with a lack of notecards full of talking points.

    Meyers semi-regularly talks to authors about their books on the show—and not just household names. The Wall Street Journalnoted back in July that Late Night has “morphed into something of an intellectual salon” with Meyers sitting behind that desk because he brings in authors as well as celebrities and politicians.

    Just a few weeks ago, Meyers had on Sana Amanat, Marvel’s director of content & character development and the editor of Ms. Marvel. He geeked out about Secret Wars, the comic event that essentially rebooted the entire Marvel comic universe, but the interview also wove in his strongest points: a guest with something to say, his grasp on politics, and his skills as an interviewer.

    The interviews in particular help showcase the platform where Meyers’s show does really well. Late Nighthas its own Tumblr, and many of those posts, which feature out-of-context soundbites and highlights from the show, regularly receive notes (a mix of likes and reblogs) in the hundreds, sometimes thousands—sometimes getting more than 10,000 notes. Once you include the rest of Tumblr, where anyone from from your average user to publications can take a couple of screengrabs or GIF a segment of Meyers to make a captivating, out-of-contextpost, that number can go into the thousands or tens of thousands; a conversation with David Tennant got more than 100,000 notes. The notes demonstrate that people are interested enough in what he has to say, even those who aren’t just fans of a particular actor or politician. The numbers just aren’t translating to YouTube success.

    Political leanings

    Meyers’s strength with the interview didn’t come right away. Early reviews of Late Night with Seth Meyers were mixed, and critics complained that Meyers’s monologue sounded more like something from Weekend Update than an actual monologue. Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jensen offered similar criticisms on the monologue in his review a month later, but praised his chemistry with his guests. “A talk-show host good at talking?” Jensen wrote. “Fancy that.”

    Prior to getting Late Night, Meyers didn’t have experience in the genre. He hosted the Webby Awards twice, the ESPY Awards twice, and he was the keynote speaker at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. But like many of the other hosts, he soon got into his groove. As Jensen posited, Meyers became a great interviewer, but while we weren’t watching, something else happened: He became a political force to be reckoned with.

    It shouldn’t be a surprise. Before hosting Late Night, Meyers was the head writer of SNL and anchored Weekend Update, where he often had to be on top of his political game. He’s a veteran of the 2008 and 2012 presidential election cycles, and he helped write one of SNL’s most iconic cold opens in the show’s modern era with Tina Fey and Poehler.

    And his keynote at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner may not be as well-known or controversial as Colbert’s remarks made in-character back in 2006, but it still had plenty of bite to it. He spent a good chunk of his nearly 21-minute speech taking aim at Trump for his role in the birther movement.

    Even his earlier days as host of Late Night indicated that politics were among the strongest weapons in his arsenal.

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came on the show last March, and for part of it Meyers let him defend himself against headlines claiming he scared a 3-year-old girl in New Hampshire. But Meyers didn’t let him off easy either, later challenging Cruz’s views on global warming and gay marriage.

    A couple months later, he had on Carly Fiorina, who showed off some of her keenness by revealing she purchased SethMeyers.org (which still leads to Fiorina’s campaign site to this day); he’s also spoken to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

    The remaining presidential candidates in the race and politics are already late-night fodder, between the frequent monologue punches and the occasional guest appearances, and the hosts have gotten through it with varying degrees of success with an election that’s becoming nearly impossible to parody.

    It’s in the 2016 presidential election cycle where Meyers has succeeded in ways that other shows with the experienced political-junkie host (Colbert’s The Late Show) or the shows geared toward political satire (Noah’s The Daily Show, The Nightly Show) have yet to achieve. And the best thing Meyers could’ve done to stand out from the rest was to sit down.

    Taking a stand

    As far as late-night news goes, it was pretty minor; it’s not like someone else announced a departure. But Seth Meyers doing a sit-down monologue, really?

    On Aug. 10, Meyers opened his show with a monologue sitting down at his desk. He addressed the day’s headlines, like he did every night, but there were a couple of key differences. He wasn’t standing anymore—and the show used graphics to illustrate some of the stories he made jokes about.

    For longtime fans and observers of the format, it was practically unheard of; most late-night hosts have done standing monologues since Johnny Carson made it a staple on his Tonight Show. Aside from Noah, Wilmore, and Oliver (whose shows are satire more than specifically late-night), all of the other hosts do a standing monologue.

    Meyers, who was going back to what he knew, certainly didn’t anticipate all of the reaction or think pieces that accompanied it.

    “I’ve always felt comfortable at the desk,” Meyers told Grantland at the time. “I still do a lot of the show at the desk after the monologue, and it’s always been nice after the monologue to get back to the desk and sort of sit down and settle. In a weird way, we’re just moving that up five or six minutes.”

    Six months later he’s still at that desk, and it’s been for the better.

    From there, Meyers could launch into other segments like the one that finally put him on the map, A Closer Look. He’s done a few segments on the Dress, the Clintons’ finances, and the Patriot Act, but the recurring segment went largely unnoticed until he attacked Congress’s Planned Parenthood hearing with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.

    Collider already claimed that Meyers was the late-night successor to Letterman and Stewart back in June, but the comparisons became more pronounced as Vanity Faircalled Meyers“the real heir to Jon Stewart” following the segment.

    The Stewart claim resonated with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who brought up the comparison to Meyers when he interviewed him a week later, noting that he loved the political bits Late Night had started doing on a more regular basis. Meyers, for his part, doesn’t think that “anyone will be an heir to Stewart” but admitted his show did take inspiration from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

    “I do think that Jon and Stephen did, in a way, present this idea that audiences will consume this kind of, sort of political news as comedy—to which I think a lot of people have picked up on and it’s really fun to do. But, I think when we started the show we had this idea, we’ll do a lot of politics, and the reality was we were a new show and we didn’t quite know the best way to pull it together. So we were doing one a month, and then we got into one every two weeks, and now we’re at a place where … we’re getting kinda adept at doing that. So hopefully, 3-4 days a week we can pull that off.”

    Meyers covers the election—and especially Trump—in his politically driven segments, which is practically a requirement for late-night humor. But he’s also doing what Oliver told Colbert that everyone should be doing: discussing the issues instead of the personalities driving the headlines.

    Five more years

    In most cases, if you have a show that’s great with only so-so or terrible ratings, it’s probably going to get canceled. While late-night TV is on a lower curve than the primetime lineup in terms of expectations, it still matters. It’s what got Arsenio Hall and Pete Holmes’s respective talk shows canceled in recent years, after all.

    Late Night With Seth Meyers isn’t tailor-made to go viral and doesn’t always have a snappy title, like pretty much anything The Tonight Show puts out. Just watch the previews that appear on NBC in the morning: They’ll list the guests and games that Fallon plays, but Meyers’ guests sometimes don’t even get a full mention. And Meyers certainly doesn’t have a two-year anniversary special coming up, whereas NBC just put a two-hour special full of Tonight Show highlights out for Fallon on Valentine’s Day.

    Meyers wasn’t exactly in danger of getting canceled, but it was still a bit of a surprise when NBC announced that it had extended his contract for five years, which is about on par with Fallon’s contract extension from August. Even if it doesn’t do well in every regard, it’s still good enough for NBC to invest in for the foreseeable future. It even led SiriusXM's Ron Bennington to predict that Meyers will one day take over Lorne Michaels’s entertainment empire.

    Meyers is finally settling into his show that goes against the current grain of late-night TV, and he’s succeeding despite everything against him. It’s too early to determine whether his success will last beyond the 2016 election, which put him into the spotlight, but if the late-night hosts before him have proven, there will always be somebody’s fuck-up to mock and rip apart.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    The Westminster Dog Show highlights some of the world's most impressive dogs, but somebody has to spread the love to everyone else.

    The Late Show has the rare office that allows its employees to bring their dogs into work, so Stephen Colbert did a segment with some of the dogs that didn’t make it very far at the dog show.

    So what if they have matted hair, are unable to stop themselves from putting everything in their mouths, or can’t keep their tongues in their mouths? Colbert and their owners clearly love them.

    They may not be top dogs to judges, but they're top dogs to us. 

    To be fair though, they’d probably fit right in with this guy.

    Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube


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