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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    YouTuber Meghan Rienks is about to turn the concept of fan and creator interaction on its head by taking 250 of her biggest fans to camp this summer.  

    “It’s like a VidCon kind of thing, but VidCon on steroids,” joked Rienks.

    Reinks’ Camp Aim, set for May in Running Springs, California, is part of a slate of YouTuber-run camps scheduled this summer that aim to bring IRL experiences to the digital set. They’re a new extension for online celebrities who’ve turned to book tours, stage tours, and meet-ups to connect in person with their ballooning fanbases.

    “I don’t want it to be like a VidCon where it’s a free-for-all thing and if people want to talk to me they have to be really confident and push their way forward,” Rienks explained. “I’ll be there the whole time. Everyone has the opportunity to have one-on-one time and talk, in a very structured way. That’s why we didn’t want the camp to be huge, either. It’s a camp—not VidCon where they sleep over.”

    Rienks isn’t alone in her camp plans—Camp17 will host events from Tyler Oakley, Bethany Mota, and Connor Franta for summer 2016—but she counts herself among the most camp-obsessed YouTubers.

    “When I first signed with CAA, this was something I’d always talked about,” Rienks explained about her camp obsession. “I wanted to do a camp. I had come up with the list of activities, but there were so many projects coming up, it was always something on the radar.”

    Rienks made her mark on her 2.1 million YouTube subscribers with content ranging from vlogs to cooking tutorials to challenges. Then, shortly after signing to CAA in March 2015, Mills Entertainment, the production company behind several popular YouTube tours, approached the agency about the summer camp project, and Rienks was an obvious fit. Finally she could put all the jotted-down ideas and plans into more capable hands to help see them to fruition.

    “You go away to a summer camp and you feel like you can grow up and become a different person.”

    “For me, I am such a creative mind, I don’t necessarily think of the logistics,” she said. “They are extreme pros at all of this.”

    Camp Aim costs $1,095 for a four-day, three-night experience, which includes a color run, a cook-off, ziplines, and yoga for fans between the ages of 10 and 17. When Rienks herself was at that age, she spent summers at sleepaway acting camp, and she eventually practiced her counselor skills a couple of years ago by shooting a reality show about returning to her own summer camp. The show never aired, but her memories of it are still fond.

    “I never thought I’d become a counselor when I was a kid, but it was such an amazing experience,” she said. “I’m in a group text with all of the girls that were in my cabin, I talk to them all the time. They got to know me more than just through YouTube videos, so for me this was a really natural transition because I had a taste of it.”

    She’ll take some of her learnings from that experience to her own camp in May.

    “You forget what it’s like to be that young and make bad decisions,” she said. “One day an 8-year-old girl was shoulder-deep with her hand down a hole, and she said, ‘I can almost catch a snake.’ Get your hand out of that hole!”

    Rienks wants her camp to be a place with “no preconceived notions, no cliques” and a safe and accepting environment for people to try out new things.

    “What I loved so much about camp was it was such an amazing experience to be whoever you wanted to be, however cheesy that sounds,” she said. “It comes at such an important point in an adolescent life. You go away to a summer camp and you feel like you can grow up and become a different person.”

    She understands why her fans would be into it, too: If there had been a Hilary Duff camp or a Jonas Brothers camp when she was growing up, Rienks “would have died.”

    “I was obsessed with the Jonas Brothers,” she laughed. “I woke up at 4am to be first in line for a Jonas Brothers concert. I grew up in the era of Lizzie McGuire. Anything Disney Channel I was all over. If there was a Disney camp, I would have been there.”

    In that spirit, her camp will feature a mix of things she did in her own camping adolescence, things she wishes she’d gotten to do at camp, and activities her fans would recognize as part of her YouTube life.

    “I do a bunch of baking segments and cooking stuff, and that’s going to be something fun,” she said.

    More important to Rienks is the bonding and cabin time—and the emphasis on a girls-only environment.

    “There’s going to be no, ‘I have a crush on X,Y, and Z,’” Rienks said “It’s going to be girl power, which I wish my camp had been like.”

    She also wants to curate an environment where even the most shy fans feel like they can still connect with her, unlike the higher-pressure environments of a live show or a VidCon.

    “What’s so heartbreaking to me is I’ll get a message from a fan saying, ‘I wanted to say hi, but I backed out,’” Rienks explained. “I wanted camp to be a lot of smaller group talking, so everyone who might not be confident enough to run up and hug you will feel like they had some time too. I’m lucky in a sense because I’m very much the same person online and offline. So even if they feel nervous the first day, after a couple of hours they’ll realize I’m not leaving and they’ll be able to enjoy it and appreciate it for what it is.”

    Camp Aim kicks off May 27 in Running Springs, California. Fans can register online now.



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    Donald Trump’s history of misogyny and sexualizing his daughter came to a head in an old interview unveiled by The Daily Show.

    Trevor Noah knows that simply using Trump’s words against him no longer works because Trump is not an ordinary presidential candidate. Trump has even gone on defense by pointing out that other politicians have said worse than he has behind closed doors. But Noah persists, digging up an interview with Trump and then-wife Marla Maples from 1994 where they’re both asked what attributes their 1-year-old daughter Tiffany gets from each parent.

    It’s a rather innocent question and one with plenty of possible answers. However, Trump managed to pull off a very Trump answer while reducing a baby to her body parts in the process.

    “We know airing this clip will change nothing,” Noah said. “All we ask, all we ask is one thing—the next time you’re about to hand Donald Trump your baby, maybe reconsider.”


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    Good news if you're a Starz fan: The premium cable channel has launched its own streaming service-slash-app, and it looks like an answer to HBO Go

    For $8.99 a month, subscribers will reportedly have access to “more than 2,400 selections a month, including Starz series like Outlander and movies from Disney and Sony, including, later this year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” While there aren’t too many high-profile Starz original series at the moment, the subscription might be worth the price if it can offer movies that HBO, Netflix and the other big movie streaming services don’t. 

    The app is currently available on Apple’s App Store (for your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Apple TV), as well as the Google Play store (for your Android devices).

    H/T The Hollywood Reporter


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    FORM Arcosanti is a music festival that takes place in an alternate universe. Picture a futuristic hub of low-rise, dome-shaped buildings and arched walkways situated in middle-of-nowhere Arizona—70 miles north of Phoenix. 

    Hundreds gather for a weekend of artistic collaboration in the micro city of Arcosanti, where the brainchild of indie electronic band Hundred Waters takes place every May. 

    “We were talking out loud about the fact that we have to do something here,” Zach Tetreault, Hundred Waters percussionist and festival co-founder, told the Daily Dot. “This is it. We’ve found the place.”

    “That whole experience, while incredibly exciting and prosperous for us in growing as a band, became very monotonous we found, and sort of draining of creative inspiration.” 

    The place for what, exactly? An immersive artistic experience for both performer and music fan; a weekend dedicated to all things creative and collaborative, ranging from improvisational sets between headliners to cliff-side piano concerts to hanging out and painting Louisiana driftwood provided by an art collective. Hundred Waters has even prepared scripts and filmed fictional shorts starring the event's talent. 

    Now in year three, FORM Arcosanti was born as a direct response to the fast-paced touring cycle Hundred Waters went through when the band rose to prominence four years ago. After putting on 250 shows in a year and a half, they collectively felt they were missing something.

    “That whole experience, while incredibly exciting and prosperous for us in growing as a band, became very monotonous we found, and sort of draining of creative inspiration,” Tetreault said.

    Tetreault and former bandmate and multi-instrumentalist Paul Giese broke their creative block as they moved the group’s gear across the country from Gainesville, Florida, to Los Angeles. They made sure to stop by a hypnotic “urban laboratory” Giese had heard about as an architecture student in college. This random spot in the Arizona desert enchanted them. 

    That’s when Hundred Waters dreamt this little idea of creating a music experience serving both the participant and the performer; something synergistic and personal. Thanks to a whole lot of driving and a stroke of dumb luck, it worked out.

    Tetreault and Giese first stopped by Arcosanti, coincidentally, on the only night of the month the city’s community council meets. Former public relations representative Kate Bemesderfer encouraged them to drop by and share their idea. After pitching and playing a few of Hundred Waters’ YouTube videos for the council, the band’s dream began to take form. 

    “It was like three or four months of emails back and forth until we finally started to realize we had a mini-festival emerging,” Tetreault said. 

    The pair presented the band to the board as a collection of people who share the environmental mindfulness of Arcosanti, a city built in 1970 by Paolo Soleri. The Italian architect sought to marry his trade with ecology to advance sustainability; a practice he dubbed “arcology.”

    Live music venues and festivals have been reported to churn out 400,000 tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions, but Hundred Waters and Arcosanti work to ensure FORM isn’t your typical mass invasion of stoners who trash a condensed piece of land over a weekend.

    “The truly exceptional thing about FORM Arcosanti, what sets it apart from every other music festival on the planet, and what gives it its air of ecological sanity, is that it takes place within and around the prototype buildings of Arcosanti,” City Co-President Jeff Stein said via email.

    On top of using sustainable auxiliary components, recyclable plates and cups, and a solar-powered trailer, Tetreault and Stein argue that the structure of Arcosanti itself addresses a lot of the environmental concerns major music festivals struggle with. The building is designed to absorb Arizona’s blistering heat during the day to save energy at night. Tetreault described Arcosanti as a testing ground and prototype for a new kind of city and sustainable alternative to urban sprawl.

    “Just by being there and having that be the venue for [FORM], there’s all these built-in features that it make it easy for us in a lot of ways because we don’t even have to think about a lot of these things,” Tetreault said.

    It helps that the festival is picky. The weekend-long event is free-of-charge on a first-come, first-serve basis—to those who fill out open-ended questions in an online application, provoking potential attendees to open up about their creative inspirations. The FORM team goes through each application, flagging the creative or thoughtful responses that grab their attention. This process trims the attendee number to a lean amount of 1,200 festival-goers.

    This year’s showcase—set to take place May 13-15—boasts a diverse set of artists including Bonobo, Tortoise, and Thundercat with festival-repeat Skrillex and, of course, Hundred Waters.

    FORM Arcosanti has not gone unnoticed. Big names have come out to support Hundred Waters and their festival mission. Skrillex made his directorial debut with a music video for Hundred Waters’ latest single “Show Me Love,” available on the band’s new site where fans are encouraged to donate any amount to support the festival.

    The video can also be downloaded via Loveback, a new media platform that allows people to directly support creators, who can then give back rewards. By "lovebacking" any amount, a fan receives a download of the remix and is entered to win one of several spots to attend FORM Arcosanti this year. They’re also entered for a chance to win a VIP experience in Patron Village, a package deal that FORM introduced for the first time this year. Other components premiering at this year’s festival include a speaker series and a dance artist.

    “We’re expanding on the program being a little outside of just music,” Tetreault said. “I’m really excited about finding a happy medium to explore everyone’s palette.”

    Tetreault strives to preserve the “homemade DIY nature” of the experience while advancing the production, programming, and execution of the weekend each year. But no matter how involved the festival gets, the magic is in the atmosphere.

    “Curved forms that catch sunlight, and views, and allow audience and musicians alike a sense of themselves mirrored by each other; a cultural setting on the one hand, a natural habitat on the other—architecture and ecology—all come together at Arcosanti in a way that they do nowhere else,” Stein said.

    Correction: The 2016 edition of FORM Arcosanti will harbor 1,200 concert-goers.


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    If you were grandfathered into Netflix's $7.99 subscription fee, you have some choices to make in the next month. 

    Users subscribed to Netflix in 2014 have enjoyed a $7.99 monthly rate for the last two years, and roughly 37 percent of subscribers are currently on that grandfathered rate. Come May, that will change. 

    New subscribers have been paying $9.99 a month for the service, a rate Netflix implemented last year. In May, however, grandfathered subscribers will have to choose between paying $9.99 for the HD (high definition) service, or staying at $7.99 for SD (standard definition) service. 

    A spokesperson for Netflix told the Daily Dot in a statement: 

    As previously announced, Netflix will be releasing a number of our members from price grandfathering on the HD plan and they will have the option of continuing at $7.99 but now on the SD plan, or continuing on HD at $9.99 a month.

    The prices taking effect were previously announced in May 2014 and follow a two-year period of holding prices to the previous level as a thank you to members. Last October’s price increase for newer members included a one-year hold and will go into effect in October of this year.

    Later this month, members in the UK will begin to be ungrandfathered. Beginning May, the price update is rolling out elsewhere based on member billing periods. Impacted members will be clearly notified by email and within the service, so that they have time to decide which plan/price point works best for them.

    This rate increase comes as a surprise for many viewers who aren't necessarily following Netflix's earnings reports. According to research by JP Morgan, an astounding 80 percent of users still paying $7.99 did not know the increase was coming, though Netflix claims in the statement that it will be contacting affected members. 

    Still, a $2 increase is not quite enough to send loyal subscribers running to other services, especially when Netflix has doubled its original output in the last two years. In January, Netflix reported that it had added 5.59 million members in its fourth quarter, no doubt based on the success of shows like Jessica Jones and Making a Murderer

    Netflix did not elaborate on when users would be notified of the price increase. 


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    A few names are synonymous with American Idol's cultural impact: Clarkson, Cowell, Underwood, and, of course, Hung.

    Thursday night, American Idol welcomed back some of its top talent to send the 15-year-old show out to pasture in the series finale, including viral sensation William Hung.

    It's been 12 years since Hung's 2004 audition sent ripples throughout the media landscape. His version of "She Bangs" is perhaps more memorable than Ricky Martin's, and for a moment Hung was everywhere: parodying himself, appearing in commercials, and getting movie cameos. Hung's debut album even sold 200,000 copies. 

    His finale performance—a few lines sung in a ruffled shirt as they cut to break—is still not great, but there's marked improvement from 2004. 

    He's no Kelly Clarkson, but his contribution to the Idol machine at the other end of the spectrum was just as valuable. He's the poster child for all wannabe contestants. Someone had to be their champion, the one who had the last laugh all the way to the bank.

    Hung's happy ending isn't musical. In 2011, he said goodbye to music and began working for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department as technical crime analyst. America's just lucky he could find the time to bang one last time and say goodbye.

    H/T HotPress 


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    Rest easy, Gilmore Girls fans: Melissa McCarthy will officially be reprising her role as Sookie St. James in the show’s new Netflix revival. 

    The comedian announced the news on Ellen Thursday, and the Internet is rejoicing: 


    Initial announcements about the cast earlier in 2016 included Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel but noticeably failed to mention McCarthy at all. Gilmore fans were so vocal about their disappointment on Twitter that the star eventually sent out a tweet in February explaining that she wasn’t part of the reboot because she hadn’t been invited to return: 

    Showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino refuted the claims in an April interview with Entertainment Weekly, saying:

    “We're here until May 10. I know what the scene is. I'll pre-light it for her. She can drive up, run in, shoot it, and run out. I can get her in and out in two hours. If she finds that time, I don’t care when it is, we will make it happen.”

    Apparently McCarthy—whose Boss opens in theaters today—found the time. So all is right again in Stars Hollow. Now we just wait to see what the bumbling chef can cook up when the show returns to Netflix later this year. 

    H/T The Hollywood Reporter 


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    YouTube is all about challenges, and Hank Green issued one to 47 creators in Los Angeles on his recent visit in an effort to make a mega mix: Can you laugh without smiling? 

    The result is a who's who of the YouTube elite looking incredibly uncomfortable and vaguely sinister.

    The video boasts appearances from Grace Helbig, Tyler Oakley, Flula Borg, and many more. Some YouTubers can't help but laugh, others do spot-on villain impersonations, but all of them look a little awkward to say the least. Green admits that the premise is nothing new, as his VidCon staffers play this game to relieve stress in the office. 

    Green closes out the video with his own attempt as he links to his real reason for his L.A. visit—a chance to collaborate on various other YouTube channels.


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    Filmmaker Andrew DeYoung was just chilling on the Internet one day, when Kate Berlant’s “Lampshade Susan” video popped up on his Facebook feed. After being stunned by her brilliance and hilarity, he decided that he had to seek out more of her. So he did what any 21st-century millennial would: He jumped on Twitter and liked a bunch of her tweets.

    The two ended up connecting a few months later, and together with fellow comedian John Early they shot the "Santa Monica" video. It would be the first of many collaborations with Berlant and Early—who both star in the new Netflix show The Characters—but he also recently directed and edited Sarah Silverman’s Bernie Sanders video, was behind the viral “Breasts” video with actress Amanda Lund, and has done a variety of videos with comedian/actress Maria Blasucci. The filmmaker began his creative pursuits by doing improv, learning how to let the funny happen naturally.

    “I took classes at iO West,” DeYoung explained. “I was on three Harold teams there. I was at the theater for six or seven years, but I just stopped because it does take up a lot of time.” Through classes at iO, he ended up meeting a lot of great people who he describes as “completely underused,” and so he began working with them together on projects.

    Anyone who has taken improv classes knows how consuming it truly is. Learning the art of improv can be boiled down to a few major tenets: be in the now, react emotionally, say yes, make your partner look good, and don’t think. Unlike in our regular lives, when we have to be strategic about when to respond emotionally, and to whom, in improv we are encouraged to always respond from a place of emotional vulnerability and honesty. No one laughs when a player is thinking hard about their response, or when it’s clear that someone is playwriting a scene rather than letting it unfold on stage. DeYoung’s improv skills followed him into his career as a filmmaker, working with actors and comedians who similarly have a firm grasp on the art of improv.

    While taking classes, DeYoung was also working an editing job for a television company that aired Marie Osmond’s talk show and Bristol Palin’s reality show—a place where, as he explains, “everything airs in 1989.” He worked from midnight to 7am, so after work he’d come home, sleep, and then get to work on his own comedy videos.

    “It would just be me chipping away at my own stuff,” DeYoung said. “I had no support or representation or anything like that. I would just work with people who were in the same boat, making things we liked.”

    That spirit drives DeYoung’s attitude toward creativity, comedy, and play. His work first got visibility in the comedy world with the 2010 video “Breasts,” which was picked up by Funny Or Die. In the clip, Dr. Amanda Lund spoofs feminist videos about “unlocking your potential,” not through a specific type of self-empowerment or “female energy,” but by checking in with your breasts and really “connecting” with them. Pushed along by a new age, lo-fi vibe that echoes public access TV, Dr. Lund reveals that this method of breast-checking is “more scientific and more better,” a line that stands clearly on its own and must have been improvised in the moment. These were the sorts of projects DeYoung worked on in the early days.

    “It was a nice, experimental time where I had no real pressures,” he said. “I had money coming in and I got to make things at my own pace and explore.”

    A 2014 video, “Ohio,” charts the epic tale of a girl named Barbara (Maria Blasucci) who comes to visit Los Angeles from Ohio and realizes that she wants to stay and “work behind the camera,” even though she has a “look” that could put her in front of the camera. The video is mostly shots of her wandering into public spaces filled with people, and striking up conversations in an attempt to either connect or feel less alone, or both. The comedic moments happen when she’s honestly trying to talk with someone in the most painfully awkward ways. The video takes an unexpected yet refreshing turn when she meets a certain gentleman.

    DeYoung’s interest in film and video began through his experience as a teenager in the straight-edge, hardcore music scene in Fresno, California, where he grew up.

    “It was important at the time to draw a line in the sand during those early years,” he said. “To say: ‘I’m not this person, and I’m not going to expose myself to this, quote, poison.’ It opened my experience to like-minded, socially conscious, very kind people even though the music was extreme.”

    He came up in that scene, and moved to Los Angeles in 2002 to do the film program at California State University, Northridge. While there, he started doing music videos for hardcore bands, some of which aired on MTV2. He did that for a few years before leaving the scene completely to shift his focus toward comedy.

    DeYoung started working with Berlant and Early two years ago. Their first project was the comedic video “Santa Monica,” which begins with Berlant and Early at the Santa Monica farmer’s market, slowly noticing that they are the only people there with large, tribal face tattoos—clearly they are of the same “tribe.” It’s love at first tattoo-sighting, and the video continues through the beginning and end of their relationship, which is increasingly complicated by their outsider tribal status.

    DeYoung, Early, and Berlant have since worked on other videos such as “Dinner Party,” a spoof on the nature of the dinner party and the confessions people make when hosting and thanking their friends. In the video, tension builds as certain understandings about the dinner party’s social etiquette are called into question.

    Similarly, in “Shopping,” the viewer gets that there’s something going on with the woman (Berlant) who is constantly wandering the aisles at Costco and other grocery stories, chatting up the manager, employees, and customers. She’s just obsessed with the store, a place not unlike the mall, which offers a false sense of community through consumerism. The video is so covertly shot that it almost feels like the viewer is meant to be a voyeur of this consumer reality.

    “Everything is technically illegal, but I just put a camera on top of various goods and pretended like I was shopping and found the frame,” DeYoung said, “and Kate has a wireless mic on, and I told her to go in that general direction, and then I cut it together. We work on outlines, have beats that we want to hit. Sometimes we have exact lines that we want to get out there.”

    DeYoung has a lot on his plate these days, including shooting the Vimeo series Trilogy (which includes Berlant) and writing a feature script for SuperDeluxe. In May, he’ll shoot a TV show for the reality/comedy network truTV. None of this could’ve happened without his improv training.

    “Improv helped me learn to reduce an idea to its essentialness,” he said. “It’s so important for me to have those skills—the mechanics of why something is funny.”


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    BY GEOFF WEISS

    Just as talent managers entered the digital space to guide the careers of influencers who unwittingly rose to celebrity out of their bedrooms, a similar movement is apparently happening among their canine counterparts.

    The Dog Agency, reports the Wall Street Journal, is one of the first talent management agency for influencer pets—many of which have hundreds of thousands of followers across social media and high-profile marketers clamoring to collaborate.

    The Dog Agency was founded by Harvard Law grad Loni Edwards, who is mother to a famous pooch of her own, Chloe (with 126,000 followers on Instagram). For the most part, famous dogs seem to be finding their groove on Instagram, and Edwards’ current clients include The Dogist, French bulldog sisters Piggy and Polly, and goldendoodle Samson. Thus far, she has inked deals with Google, Merck, PetSmart, Ritz-Carlton, and Dyson, and is negotiating deals with Nikon and Equinox, she says.

    Edwards told the Journal that she founded the agency after noting that many owners of popular pets had neither the time nor the business savvy to manage the burgeoning careers of their animal companions. And while it’s surely not as much as human influencers, animals can still command a pretty penny. Dogs with between 150,000 and 250,000 Instagram followers can receive upward of $3,000 for a single post—of which Edwards says she takes a standard cut.

    “With dogs, you’re reaching men, women, kids, grandparents. They just have this wide appeal,” Edwards said. And as marketing vehicles, the dogs—being blissfully ignorant of their growing fame—aren’t necessarily perceived as selling out. “People don’t treat them as ads. The dogs are creating content, which is what they like to do.”


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    Rap superstar Lil Wayne has weighed in on the Masters. 

    The avid golf fan had been watching Tom Watson, a PGA legend whose late career resurgence has inspired fans since his stunning showing at the 2009 Open Championship. This year marks Watson's final appearance in the Masters. Needless to say, Weezy got a little emotional about it:

    Fellow Masters fans have pretty much fallen out of their recliners at the news that Lil Wayne watches golf just like they do. This is the second time he's tweeted about the sport, in fact. Three years ago, Weezy condemned a penalty thrown at teen golf sensation Guan Tianlang:

    As with the New Orleans-born rapper's love of the Green Bay Packers, his love of golf can probably be traced back to his roots. Weezy grew up in a life of poverty in the Hollygrove neighborhood of the Crescent City.

    He gravitated towards the Packers almost out of necessity, explaining to ESPN's First Take that his father picked up a bunch of Packers merch after watching the team beat the New England Patriots at Super Bowl XXXI. That matchup was hosted in New Orleans at the Superdome.

    The cups and towels Wayne's father was able to snatch up served as day-to-day items, much as Mardi Gras throws do to citizens who catch similarly festive cups during the Carnival season. It's safe to say where he grew up may have shaped his love of golf as well.

    Hollygrove shares a boundary with the New Orleans Country Club, (no, not this gay pool country club also in New Orleans) which boasts a fairly substantial golf course. Wayne could've easily been drawn to the expanse of greens and clear marker of riches just like anyone else trying to get out from under their circumstances.

    So, Lil Wayne likes golf. Who knew? He's also a fairly successful musician who's humbled enough by a solid golf career like Watson's to stand up and cheer. This really shouldn't shock anybody.


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    Saturday Night Live devised the most realistic and authentic Oprah biopic of our time, starring noted white man Mike O'Brien.

    In addition to being commentary on the whitewashing of biopics of black women, as with the Zoe Saldana/Nina Simone film, the video is also a great ode to the weirdness of Oprah.

    O'Brien as Oprah relives her greatest moments, gives people cars almost compulsively, and explains that she'll always be on the cover of Oprah magazine, forever. SNL even reenacts Oprah's nominated turn in The Color Purple with an all-white cast.

    The acclaimed talk show host has yet to respond to O'Brien's portrayal. Here's hoping the parody ends up on her favorite thing list this year.


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    Toby Turner, a viral video star known under the name Tobuscus, is the most recent YouTuber to face allegations of sexual misconduct and assault.

    He has been accused by fellow YouTube sensation April Efff, aka April Fletcher, a gamer who works for Xbox. She alleges that Turner drugged and raped her while they were dating. Turner is a YouTube gamer with 6.8 million subscribers and previously hosted the series Legends of Gaming. Turner is also slated for a scripted project with YouTube Red, which is currently in development.

    Fletcher detailed her allegations in a lengthy Tumblr post outlining instances of Turner reportedly lying to her about the status of their relationship, alleging that Turner not only used drugs but that his alleged drug use had increased. She mentions an instance in which Turner allegedly slipped drugs into her drink as well as another incident where she alleges that he continued to have sex with her after she told him to stop.

    Fletcher attempts to support her claims with alleged screenshots of text conversations with Turner.
    Another ex of Turner's has also stepped forward. Amelia Talon outlined her experiences with Turner in a video, stating that she felt pressured to take drugs with him and had reportedly been forced to take MDMA on one occasion. Talon co-hosts The Gamer Next Door with Pamela Horton and had previously starred in videos with Turner.

    Additionally, Clare Lourdes has stepped forward to support Fletcher on Facebook.

    "I have made peace with my time with Toby and don't wish to discuss it in detail, as is my choice," Lourdes wrote. "However, I can say that my time with him has given me the experience and perspective to believe their accounts are absolutely true."

    While Turner hasn't responded to the allegations, his mother, Jackie Turner, took to Facebook to do so. She wrote a long post defending her son, claiming that April lived in her house and was making up the story because of jealousy over Turner dating Olga Kay.

    Kay, who is no longer dating Turner, also addressed the situation by telling her fans that she was never drugged or raped.

    Another ex, Jaclyn Glenn, also made a video about her relationship with Turner. She says she allegedly felt pressured to do certain things while dating him, but clarified that she was never forced into anything.

    This is not the first time YouTubers have been accused of rape and sexual misconduct. There's a long and troubling history of primarily men on YouTube being accused of sexually assaulting female fans and fellow YouTubers, often abusing their position of power. YouTube prankster Sam Pepper was accused of assault in 2014, and has since tried to apologize for his misbehavior on his videos. 

    We have reached out to Turner and Fletcher for additional comment and will update this story if and when they respond.

    Update 2:22pm, April 11: Turner took to YouTube April 11 to deny the allegations in a brief video.

    "I have never done anything without her consent, I never tried to trick her into anything," he said. "I read her Tumblr post and I was shocked, and I was hurt. These allegations are absolutely false."


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    YouTube has selected 51 channels to represent the next class of creators for the U.K and the U.S. as part of its NextUp initiative.

    YouTube launched applications for NextUp in February to support up-and-coming creators. Winners get access to an exclusive "creators camp" as well as a $2,500 voucher toward equipment. Tapped creators for this year's class include Jackson Bird, Sarah Snitch, and Cheap Lazy Vegan.

    A forthcoming NextUp class is being offered to Japanese creators and applications are currently being accepted. Upcoming classes include NextUp camps in Berlin, Paris, Sao Paulo, Toronto, and Mumbai.

    The full list of winning channels for NextUp 2016 is below:

    The winning UK channels are…

    doyouknowellie
    Bird Keeper Toby
    Adriana Braje
    Steven Bridges
    Hannah Leigh
    Cheap Lazy Vegan
    LoseitlikeLauren
    Carly Toffle
    Laurbubble
    Mike Boyd
    Anna Johnson
    Philosophy Tube
    Cameron Sanderson
    Maggy Woodley
    Thelaserbearguy
    Philip Green

    The winning US channels are…
    Akeem Lawanson
    Kriscoart Productions
    Retro Weld
    iIMAGINEblank
    Rikki Poynter
    DrumBeatsOnline
    Congahead
    Beatbox Television
    Jessica Flores
    Jackson Bird
    Origami Tree
    Simple English Videos
    Tim Bryan
    Tracy Campoli
    The Art Sherpa
    Greg's Garage
    Jasmine Rose
    Angel Wong’s Kitchen
    imSarahSnitch
    SammieSpeaks
    Painting with Jane
    Studio Knit
    Vagabrothers
    Eddie G!
    Cordero Roman
    Sarah Croce
    SkittLeZMusicTV
    Mr. Fixt It
    Socratica
    HouseofHaute
    Nic and Pancho
    Rayann410
    Dahlia & Dia
    Kat McDowell
    Ali Spagnola

    H/T Tubefilter


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    Late last month, a song from Kanye West's The Life of Pablo, formerly a Tidal exclusive, popped up on Spotify and Apple Music. Then the whole album appeared on both streaming services. West claimed TLOP and its many public edits made it a living, breathing entity—one that just lumbered to the top of the Billboard 200 chart.

    West's album is the first to hit No. 1 with more than half of its units generated from "streaming equivalent albums," according to Billboard.

    The album is set to hit No. 1 on the April 23 chart, and a Def Jam rep told Billboard that TLOP's Nielsen Music sales—which subscription service Tidal did not initially report—would now be reported. Those numbers put West ahead of country singer Chris Stapleton, whose album Traveller has similarly been dominating airwaves.

    TLOP earned more than 90,000 equivalent album units in the week ending April 7, and 70 percent of its units came from streaming equivalent albums.

    West celebrated the news early: 

    The living, breathing Pablo has been an unprecedented release due to its many iterations. West initially withheld direct sales by releasing it on Tidal, but the album was pirated nonetheless.

    West had initially claimed that the album wouldn't be on Apple Music, or for sale. He changed the lyrics on songs post-release. He compared his tweets to art. This No. 1 hit is yet another rip in the fabric of traditional album releases.

    West has still not announced plans for a physical release. 

    H/T Billboard 


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    If you’ve seen the TV show Night Flight, you remember it. The intro, the logo, an interview—something lodged in your grey matter. You snuck out of bed as a young, impressionable child to watch it. You found it after a late night out, as you were falling asleep in front of the TV. A cool older friend or sibling showed it to you.

    Creator Stuart Shapiro has heard it all.

    Shapiro launched the show, which ran Friday and Saturday nights on USA Network, in June 1981. Night Flight was, foundationally, a late-night variety show: music videos, interviews, underground movies, bizarre animation, comedy. It might have been the first place you heard about Divine, Devo, or Wendy O. Williams. Night Flight also folded in New Wave Theatre, hosted by late musician Peter Ivers. It spotlighted emerging new-wave and punk bands, and Ivers was a formative part of its popularity until his murder in 1983. 

    The series ended in 1988, but in its early days, Night Flight existed as a parallel to MTV—or rather, a predecessor. It debuted two months before the music-video channel. The show was a venue for discovery, much like Spotify and YouTube are now.  

    Night Flight has survived online in several different iterations. Shapiro launched NightFlight.com last year, and the show's Facebook page now adds add roughly 1,000 people per week.

    Shapiro was in Austin, Texas, on Sunday night to host Night Flight: Born Again at the Alamo Drafthouse, featuring a 90-minute retrospective of clips from the series. He called it a “spirited resurrection of time and space.”

    Shapiro was also there to advocate for Night Flight Plus, a new streaming site available on Roku that features full episodes of the show and a library of concert clips from MVD. He repurchased the rights to the show's archive six years ago and organized all the clips, but he didn’t think the timing was right to relaunch the series digitally. 

    “It became clear that this year, 2016, everything was really right, and streaming is going kind of crazy,” Shapiro told the Daily Dot. “It’s economically viable to fill the channel… we’re off to the races.”

    Night Flight Plus, which costs $2.99 per month, joins more niche streaming sites that have sprung up around particular genres, such as Seeso and Exploitation.tv.

    During a Q&A after the screening, Shapiro said he thought society was in the midst of a “channel revolution, like we were in the ‘80s.” He revealed that his application to get Night Flight Plus on Amazon's Fire device had been rejected—probably, he said, because of “nudity and GG Allin.” When an audience member asked him what he thought of YouTube, he said he was of two minds. “I think YouTube is anti-Night Flight, it’s not curated,” he said. “But you can put anything up there...it’s freedom of expression.”

    Freedom of expression is Night Flight’s mantra. Shapiro reminded the audience that, for many viewers, Night Flight was a gathering place for the freaks and geeks. For young kids watching the show late at night in the Midwest, it reinforced the idea that it was OK to be different, and that there were other people out there like you. Host Zack Carlson asked the audience how many of them had been influenced creatively or artistically, or set on their path in life, as a result of watching Night Flight. The question prompted a surprising round of applause.

    Shapiro said that eventually he’d like to bring some original programming to Night Flight Plus and experiment with more interactive elements like livestreaming. Adding a personal feel to his project, he claimed that his phone number was the customer support line for Night Flight Plus. He might not know how to help callers with technical issues, he said, but at least he could talk to them.

    “I’m committed to it being the nostalgic network,” he said, “not just [for the] ‘80s, but devoted to nostalgia entertainment, with the Night Flight library as its foundation.”


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  • 04/11/16--13:07: How to livestream Coachella
  • Forget the sun and sand, you can have the Coachella experience in air conditioning and pillow forts. 

    YouTube will host interactive livestreams onto desktops and mobile devices of the first weekend of Coachella starting Friday, straight from Indio, California. No need to dig the perfect festival fashion out of your closet to watch headliners like LCD Soundsystem and Calvin Harris.

    The livestream will offer three live channels running simultaneously, plus a video-on-demand hub to see highlights throughout the weekend. You can also set up an interactive schedule for bands you're interested in and the livestream will automatically change between channels. 

    As soon as things kick off on Friday, you can watch the YouTube livestream below. Until then, you can relive past performances and set up your watch list.

    Channel 1

    Channel 2

    Channel 3




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    The two websites that make you angriest have teamed up for a collaboration: Ticketmaster announced Monday that by the end of April, the company will be selling event tickets directly through Facebook

    Now instead of your feed only getting inundated with the photos and statuses from concerts or sporting events, you'll also be able to see your friends' laments at how quickly their favorite shows sell out. 

    According to a Ticketmaster vice president, the partnership is a way for the company to crack into the mobile market and hopefully reach more customers. 

    "By putting the ability to buy tickets directly within Facebook we hope that we’re going to provide a more seamless purchase experience and sell more tickets," he told BuzzFeed.

    This news comes less than a month after Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke tweeted his frustration with Ticketmaster's current site functionality—after tickets to U.S. shows sold out in seconds, Yorke voiced his disappointment at how aggressive third-party buyers make it impossible for real fans to get tickets to shows. So maybe linking the buying end of these transactions to Facebook (where users have to prove that they're real people in order to join) is one way of combating the issue. 

    H/T BuzzFeed


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    We here at the Daily Dot love our streaming TV and movies, but we also know how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the massive lists of comings and goings on streaming platforms each month. Here’s our curated take of what’s new on Amazon and Hulu this month.

    Check our for Netflix list for more streaming picks.

    April

    1) Batman (Amazon, April 1)

    Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight is currently dividing critics but brutalizing the box office in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but if that film left you with a craving to see the Waynes murdered onscreen one more time, now you can revisit Tim Burton’s dark, twisted take on Batman courtesy of this 1989 outing. Michael Keaton pulls off a surprisingly effective turn as the Caped Crusader, while Jack Nicholson chews scenery like popcorn as The Joker. Now we can all get back into those arguments about who’s the best version of the Clown Prince of Crime, just in time for Jared Leto to enter the equation in this summer’s Suicide Squad.

    2) Cube (Amazon/Hulu, April 1)

    This 1997 Canadian horror thriller features a killer high concept and a jaw-dropping opening that brilliantly sets up the diabolical fun that’s to come. Several strangers awaken inside a maze of cubical rooms, each seemingly identical and yet hiding both secrets and deadly traps. The group must work together to survive, try and figure out why they’ve been kidnapped and dropped into the labyrinth, and find a way to the exit—assuming there is one. Skip the subpar sequels and stick with this fiendishly clever original.

    3) E.T. the Extra-terrestrial (Hulu with Showtime, April 1)

    For our full write-up, see this month’s Netflix picks.

    4) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Amazon/Hulu, April 1)

    Everybody needs to call in sick once in a while, but few have done it with as much style as the titular Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) in the classic 1986 American comedy that bears his name. High schooler Bueller decides it’s simply too perfect a day to waste learning algebra, so he plays hooky in grandiose fashion, bringing along his reluctant sadsack best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and the beautiful Sloane (Mia Sara). Forever dogging his steps is Principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), who’s determined to catch Ferris in the act.

    5) Gremlins (Amazon, April 1)

    1) Don’t expose it to bright lights. 2) Don’t get it wet. 3) Don’t feed it after midnight. Those are the three rules the mysterious owner of a Chinatown shop imparts when Randall Peltzer purchases a most peculiar Christmas present for his son Billy. It’s called a “mogwai,” and this furry little ball of adorableness looks like it couldn’t harm a fly. And it couldn’t… as long as you follow the rules. Is there any doubt that somebody’s going to break the rules? Of course they’re going to break the rules. Christmastime chaos soon reigns in this classic Joe Dante horror/comedy, but the best gift of all would be if they never get around to that remake…

    6) Lucky Number Slevin (Hulu with Showtime, April 1)

    In spite of his mouthful of a name, Slevin Kelevra (Josh Hartnett) is just an ordinary dude, in town to visit a friend in New York City. Unfortunately, that friend—Nick Fisher—is nowhere to be found, and even more unfortunately, bad people keep showing up and assuming Slevin is Nick. Before he can even find a proper change of clothes, Slevin is caught up in a long-running war between two mob bosses (Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley), neither of whom is willing to listen to Slevin’s tale of mistaken identity. He’s forced to play along with their schemes or wind up six feet under, but it turns out there’s a lot more going on here than even the crime bosses realize.

    7) Risky Business (Amazon, April 1)

    This 1983 romantic comedy helped propel Tom Cruise toward Hollywood superstardom, and his iconic underpants/sock slide to the tune of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” is one of those immortal movie moments people will be parodying for decades to come. Cruise stars as Joel Goodson, a promising high school student with his sights set on attending Princeton. After his parents take a trip out of town, Joel goes a bit off the rails, hiring and then befriending a beautiful prostitute named Lana (Rebecca De Mornay). That’s just the first domino in a series that knocks Joel down a path of dire circumstances, unexpected business opportunities, and unfriendly pimps.

    8) Swimming With Sharks (Amazon, April 1)

    Kevin Spacey may have scenery-chewing down to an art in Netflix’s House of Cards, but this 1994 black comedy proves he was picking splinters out of his teeth long before he went to Washington. Frank Whaley stars as a naive kid who lands a job as personal assistant to the ruthless Buddy Ackerman (Spacey), a coarse, take-no-prisoners Hollywood studio exec with a talent for brutal insults and no tolerance whatsoever for mistakes on the part of his underlings. It might seem like Frank Underwood is unstoppable on House of Cards, but I think Buddy Ackerman might have a shot if given the chance.

    9) The Big Lebowski (Amazon, April 1)

    The Coen Brothers may have made better movies before or since 1998’s noirish stoner comedy The Big Lebowski, but there’s no question that it cast ripples throughout the pop-culture pond that are still jostling the shore. Jeff Bridges kills the role he was born to play as The Dude, a congenial slacker and bowling aficionado who is mistaken for somebody else and caught up in a tangled web involving kidnappings, extortion, rug theft, pornography, nihilists, and severed toes. Endlessly quotable, gleefully ridiculous, and a pitch-perfect satire of Raymond Chandler-style hardboiled detective fiction, The Big Lebowski gets better with every viewing. But that’s just, like, my opinion, man. (Coen fans with a Prime membership can also check out Fargo, Blood Simple, Intolerable Cruelty, and The Hudsucker Proxy.)

    March

    1) Bosch: Season 2 (Amazon Prime, March 11)

    Lost alum Titus Welliver returns for a second season as Los Angeles police detective Harry Bosch in this series based on the novels of Michael Connelly. Just as last year’s freshman season loosely adapted three of Connelly’s novels, season 2 will tackle another trio: Trunk Music, The Drop, and The Last Coyote. In addition to Bosch’s ongoing personal problems, this season will explore corruption within the police force and domestic terrorism, all of it kicked off with a dead body in a trunk and what at first appears to be a straightforward mob hit. The first season of Bosch was perfect binge-fodder, with multiple cases interweaving in a way that kept you interested in all of them but still provided enough variety and twists to keep you guessing. Connelly’s novel series is up to nearly 20 books, so hopefully Welliver will be playing Harry Bosch for a long time to come.

    2) Ghostbusters/Ghostbusters II (Amazon Prime, March 1)

    It’s going to be a big year for Ghostbusters, one way or another. The reboot starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, and directed by Paul Feig, is due out this summer. Whether fans will accept a new spin on such a beloved classic remains to be seen, but the nice thing is that, even if the new Ghostbusters is a complete trainwreck, we’ll always have the original. Having just rewatched it recently, I can confirm that Ghostbusters holds up brilliantly, every bit as charming, quotable, and hilarious now as it was in 1984. Ghostbusters II… well, less so, but I think it gets an unfairly bad rap. How else would we have known that the world was going to end this past Valentine’s Day?

    3) American Psycho (Amazon Prime, March 1)

    Long before Christian Bale was playing a crazy, violent rich guy in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films, he was playing a crazy, violent rich guy in Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 thriller/black comedy novel. But this crazy, violent rich guy is less about punching people while wearing elaborate costumes and more about hooker threesomes and axe murder. Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a narcissistic investment banker who loves pop music and the finer things in life. And also killing people (or fantasizing about killing people, depending on your interpretation of the film). Just remember: If you go to someone’s house and they have plastic covering the floor, you should pay attention to your surroundings.

    4) Damages: Seasons 1-5 (Hulu, March 1)

    Glenn Close stars as ruthless but brilliant lawyer Patty Hewes in this critically acclaimed legal drama from Daniel Zelman and Glenn and Todd A. Kessler (who later went on to create Netflix’s Bloodline). Rose Byrne stars as Ellen Parsons, a recent law school graduate who is swept into a world of moral compromise as Hewes’ protégée. Unlike most legal shows, each season of Damages follows a single case from start to finish. The show earned Close a pair of Emmys for her performance, and Damages attracted a genuinely gobsmacking lineup of acting talent over the years, including John Goodman, Lily Tomlin, Ted Danson, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, and Martin Short, to name just a few.

    5) Dawson’s Creek: Seasons 1-6 (Hulu, March 1)

    Hulu is unleashing a pair of major nostalgia bombs onto ’90s kids like myself this month. First up is Dawson’s Creek, Kevin Williamson’s ode to teenage longing and James Van Der Beek’s enormous forehead. The Beek stars as the titular Dawson Leery, aspiring filmmaker and full-time romantic, who is frequently crushing on girl-next-door Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), with bad(der) boy Pacey (Joshua Jackson) and Jen (Michelle Williams) tumbling around in the romantic mix as well. It’s painfully earnest and eminently mockable, but damned if it didn’t break a lot of hearts back in high school. The music! The hair! The heartstrings!

    6) Party of Five: Season 1-6 (Hulu, March 1)

    Speaking of ’90s melodrama, it didn’t get much more melodramatic than Party of Five, which starred eventual Lost leading man Matthew Fox as 24-year-old Charlie Salinger, an immature ladies’ man forced to take on real responsibilities after his parents are killed by a drunk driver. He becomes the de facto head of the Salinger household, overseeing 16-year-old Bailey (Scott Wolf), 15-year-old Julia (Neve Campbell), 11-year-old Claudia (Lacey Chabert), and infant Owen. Over the course of six seasons, the Salinger clan faces down just about every dramatic development you could think of, from cancer to drug addiction to the ongoing trauma of losing their parents. Binge it back to back with Dawson’s Creek and your closet’s flannel content will spontaneously increase by at least 300 percent.

    7) Gattaca (Amazon Prime, March 3)

    Andrew Niccol’s hugely underrated Gattaca is set in a future that seems increasingly plausible, one where prospective parents are able to custom-design their children, screening out any inherited flaws or harmful mutations. In a world of perfect people, Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) is a natural-born “in-valid,” doomed by his genetics to menial jobs and discrimination. Vincent dreams of traveling into space, so much so that he works as a janitor at the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation, just so he can be a little closer to his aspirations. But when he concocts a plan to fool the system and pose as someone else, Vincent puts himself square in the crosshairs of a system designed to suppress anyone who refuses to stick to their proper roles within society. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, inspirational, and absolutely a classic that more people should know about. Give it a watch.

    8) Louie: Season 5 (Amazon Prime/Hulu, March 4)

    See our write-up in this month’s Netflix column for details.

    9) The Comedians: Season 1 (Hulu, March 9)

    Developed by Billy Crystal, Larry Charles, Matt Nix, and Ben Wexler, The Comedians stars Crystal as a fictionalized version of himself who is forced to pair up with young comedian Josh Gad in order to get his new late-night comedy sketch series made. The partnership is an ungainly, Frankenstein’s monster of a collaboration, but the two struggle both on and off the job to find common ground and bond so they don’t wind up killing each other. In the tradition of shows like The Larry Sanders Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm, celebs regularly turn up playing versions of themselves, including Mel Brooks, Rob Reiner, and even Larry Charles himself. The show only lasted one season, so enjoy.

    10) Orphan Black: Season 3 (Amazon Prime, March 27)

    BBC America’s brilliant clone drama returns for a fourth season on April 14, which will give you plenty of time to catch up now that Amazon Prime is adding the third season. Actress Tatiana Maslany continues to give a freaking master class in acting by portraying multiple different clones, each with their own distinct look, voice, personalities, and quirks. Honestly, if they ever need to trim the budget, Maslany could probably hold down this entire show by herself, and I would absolutely watch that. In season 3, the clones continue to try and dig into the mystery of their origins and the Dyad Institute, but things become considerably complicated with the revelation that there is another project out there that’s been churning out male clones. Let the clone-on-clone (on-clone-on-clone-on-clone) action commence…

    February

    1) 11.22.63 (Hulu, Feb. 15)

    What if you found a time portal? What if you found it in the back of a diner? Weird, right, but still pretty cool. Less cool: if it only takes you to the same day in 1958, so checking out the dinosaurs or visiting the future are off the table. But when teacher Jake Epping (James Franco) finds himself in just that situation, he decides to try and change one of the great focal points of the 20th century: He will travel into the past and try to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But again, the portal only links to 1958, and since JFK was murdered in 1963, Jake is going to have some time to kill. Then again, he might just need it, since figuring out how to prevent an event that people are still arguing the true nature of even 50 years later is probably going to take some planning. 11.22.63 is based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel, and the miniseries was executive produced by J.J. “Star Wars, yo” Abrams.

    2) Amy (Amazon Prime, Feb. 1)

    This Oscar-nominated documentary traces the life and death of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning at the young age of 27 in 2011. The five-time Grammy winner’s problems with substance abuse were no secret—how could they be when one of her most famous songs was about not wanting to go to rehab?—but the film explores those struggles in detail, as well as including tons of interview footage and previously unseen performances. It won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar this year.

    3) Grease Live! (Hulu, Feb. 1)

    The trend of staging live musicals on network TV continues with Grease Live! (exclamation point theirs). Fox is taking viewers back to Rydell High for one night only, with Julianne Hough taking the role of Sandy, Aaron Tveit as Danny, and High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo. Those names don’t mean anything to me since I’ve never sat through Grease and have no intention to, but I’m sure there are plenty of cord-cutters out there who will be excited to see Grease Live! on Hulu the day after it airs on Fox. It’s the one that you want.

    4) The Kings of Summer (Amazon Prime, Feb. 1)

    Sick of their parents and the mundanity of everyday life, three teenage friends set off to build a house in the woods and live off the land over the course of one long summer. The Kings of Summer was the debut feature film for director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and the first produced film for screenwriter Chris Galletta, and the result is an endearing, sun-dappled coming-of-age flick that’s perfect viewing if you’re currently snowed in and freezing. Parks & Rec’s Nick Offerman also co-stars as the lead’s struggling single father.

    5) Nintendo Quest (Amazon Prime, Feb. 1)

    This 2015 documentary follows a pair of game lovers as they embark on a road trip with one goal in mind: finding and buying a copy of every single game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System—all 678 of them. They’ve got 30 days, and they’re not allowed to order any of them online. Double-feature this one with that documentary about the E.T. video-game landfill and you’ve got yourself the makings of a good time. Along the way, the pair also delve into plenty of history and trivia about probably the best-known video game company of all time.

    6) UnREAL: Season 1 (Hulu, Feb. 3)

    You have to think that the behind-the-scenes reality of most “reality” shows is far more interesting than the heavily edited final product, so I’m surprised we haven’t seen more shows that take the next incestuous metafictional leap into showing us what goes into the “reality” we see on screen. The Lifetime series UnREAL takes that concept and makes it even more confusing by fictionalizing it, starring Shiri Appleby as a reality TV producer returning to her popular dating show after having a breakdown the previous season. The show earned solid critical reviews and was the co-brainchild of former Buffy-verse alum Marti Noxon, so consider me sold.

    7) Chi-Raq (Amazon Prime, Feb. 5)

    Amazon unleashes its first original feature film with this new Spike Lee joint, which hit theaters in early December and becomes free for Amazon Prime subscribers in February. Riffing on the classical Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, Chi-Raq has a group of Chicago women hitting upon an unusual plan to curb gang violence. To wit, until the menfolk knock it off with all the shooting, they won’t be getting any good times from the ladyfolk. The flick is 82 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and features a cast that includes Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Dave Chappelle, and Samuel L. Jackson.

    8) Girls: Season 2 (Amazon Prime, Feb. 11)

    Amazon Prime’s partnership with HBO offers up tons of the cable network’s back catalog, but is a lot stingier with current content such as Game of Thrones or True Detective. Also on the no-fly list has been everything beyond the first season of HBO’s hit comedy Girls, created by Lena Dunham. Thankfully the slow rollout will continue in February, with the second season becoming available on the 11th. And if you don’t want to wait another few years to get seasons 3 and 4, there’s always HBO Now… (And look, it’s Kylo Ren!)

    9) The Americans: Season 3 (Amazon Prime, Feb. 15)

    Still firmly on the “criminally underrated” list after three seasons, FX’s The Americans is the Cold War family spy drama you never knew you needed. Keri Russell and Philip Jennings are two KGB operatives embedded in American suburbia, posing as a married couple and raising two kids who haven’t a clue about their parents’ true loyalties. They also happen to be neighbors with an FBI counterintelligence agent, so… awkward. It’s prime—and Prime—binge-watching material if you haven’t given it a shot, and you’ll be surprised at how badass the girl who was Felicity can be. Season 4 premieres March 16 on FX, so catch up while you can!

    10)The New Yorker Presents (Amazon Prime, Feb. 16)

    Amazon’s new docu-series brings the long-running magazine to the screen with a mix of cartoons, documentary shorts, silly sketches, and tons of other material. Unlike most of Amazon and Netflix’s shows, this one also has a more traditional format, rolling out one 30-minute episode per week just like caveman television. You can go ahead and watch the pilot on Amazon as we speak (hit the link above), which features a documentary segment directed Jonathan Demme and sketch starring Alan Cumming.

    11) Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon (Hulu with Showtime, Feb. 20)

    This is a great month for fascinating documentaries on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, so we’ll close out this month’s entry with this look at the history of the infamous comedy magazine that spun out of the equally legendary Harvard Lampoon. From the magazine’s heyday in the 1970s, through the launch of the production company that gave us many memorable Vacations, up through the publication’s eventual decline, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead kicks open all the Lampoon’s closets to air out the skeletons, featuring tons of never-before-seen footage. The documentary includes appearances from a who’s who of Hollywood talent, including Judd Apatow, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, John Goodman, Christopher Guest, John Landis, and Bill Murray.

    January 2016

    1) Fear the Walking Dead (Hulu, Jan. 26)

    There are no doubt quite a few cord-cutters out there who’ve been eagerly waiting for the chance to see the much-hyped Walking Dead spinoff/prequel series Fear the Walking Dead, and now your chance is finally on the horizon. Love or hate its parent series, there’s no question that Fear the Walking Dead had big shoes to fill, and even the mixed reviews that accompanied its run this past summer likely won’t be enough to keep curious Dead fans from wanting to judge for themselves—me included, since I haven’t watched it yet. Fear the Walking Dead is set during the earliest days of the undead outbreak that brings down civilization, following a Los Angeles family as the world begins to crumble around them. And at a brief six episodes long, the first season will make for easy bite-sized bingeing.

    2) Scrooged (Hulu, Jan. 1)

    Talk about bad timing. It would have made a lot more sense to have Scrooged available for streaming before the holidays were over, but such are the vagaries of entertainment contracts. Still, there’s no bad time to watch or rewatch Bill Murray’s darkly hilarious spin on Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Directed by Richard Donner, Scrooged stars Murray as Frank Cross, a humbug-y TV exec staging a ridiculous live production of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, even though that means forcing his staff to work through the holiday. Just like Scrooge before him, Frank is due for a lesson in the holiday spirit, courtesy of three holiday spirits.

    3) 1408 (Amazon Prime, Jan. 5)

    Based on one of my favorite Stephen King short stories, 1408 stars John Cusack as Mike Enslin, a writer who’s built a career investigating haunted houses despite being a dyed-in-the-wool nonbeliever. An anonymous postcard tips him off about New York’s Dolphin Hotel, and one particular room—1408—which is supposedly a hotbed of paranormal activity. Enslin is determined to spend the night in the room, ignoring the warnings of the hotel manager (Samuel L. Jackson). After Enslin sets up camp in 1408, he soon learns that his lifelong search for proof of the supernatural is about to reach a terrifying conclusion.

    4) Bone Tomahawk (Amazon Prime, Jan. 1)

    This horror/Western from writer/director S. Craig Zahler is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Kurt Russell stars as Sheriff Franklin Hunt, who leads a mission to rescue several kidnapped locals from a band of cannibalistic cave-dwellers dubbed “Troglodytes.” In spite of warnings from a Native American familiar with the savage group, Hunt assembles a posse to head into the hills in search of the missing settlers. Unfortunately, they find the Troglodytes, and they prove to be even more brutal than expected, setting up one of the goriest and most disturbing death scenes of 2015. Bone Tomahawk definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of both the the horror and Western genres, it will ensure you never want to venture into a cave again in your life.

    5) Goodnight Mommy (Amazon Prime, Jan. 9)

    Speaking of scary, this disturbing German horror flick was selected as one of the top five foreign language films of 2015 by the National Board of Review. Goodnight Mommy has a mother (Susanne Wuest) returning home to her twin sons after facial reconstruction surgery, her face draped in bandages. The twins soon become convinced that the woman beneath the bandages is not their mother, but rather some other impostor, and they set out to force her to confess the truth...whatever it takes. Playing on dueling universal fears of something being wrong with your parents or your children, Goodnight Mommy is an unsettling, slow-burn descent into terror, full of surprising twists and with nary a punch pulled.

    6) Billions: Season 1 (Amazon Prime with Showtime, Jan. 17)

    “What’s the point of having fuck-you money if you never say fuck you?” This new Showtime series stars Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti as a powerful hedge fund king and the determined U.S. Attorney on a collision course with him, respectively. Exploring the world of high finance—and the abuses therein—Billions was created by Ocean’s 13 co-writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien, along with journalist/Too Big to Fail author Andrew Ross Sorkin. Lewis was one of the best parts of Showtime’s Homeland even when it went off the rails, and Giamatti is always a hoot even when he’s in subpar material. Thankfully, Billions looks to offer meaty roles to both of them—and the chance to see the two of them going head-to-head and trying to outsmart each other. Even if you aren’t springing for the Amazon/Showtime package, you’ll be able to watch the premiere episode of Billions Jan. 1 on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Hulu, Roku, and others.

    7) Baskets: Season 1 (Amazon Prime, Jan. 22)

    This new FX series will be premiering Jan. 21 and then hitting Amazon Prime the following day, with future episodes set to follow that same one-day delay pattern. Created by Louis C.K., Zach Galifianakis, and Jonathan Krisel, Baskets stars Galifianakis as Chip Baskets, a man chasing his dream of becoming a professional clown (apparently there’s more to it than just buying a squeaky nose and some oversized shoes). Unfortunately, that dream took a hit after Chip failed to gain admission to a prestigious French clown school (apparently there are prestigious French clown schools), so now he’s working in the somewhat less prestigious role of “rodeo clown” in Bakersfield, California.

    8) Mad Dogs: Season 1 (Amazon Prime, Jan. 22)

    Mad Dogs was one of my favorite Amazon pilots I’ve seen, so I’m thrilled the black comedy is dropping its first full season this month. Adapting a 2011 U.K. series of the same name, Mad Dogs follows a group of 40-something friends reuniting at their rich buddy’s posh Belize villa, only to see things take a bloody turn after a series of bad decisions leaves one of them dead and the rest under the thumb of some very bad people. Cris Cole, who created the British original, helped adapt it for Amazon alongside TV vet Shawn Ryan, whose résumé includes The Shield, The Unit, and a pair of my underrated favorites: the short-lived Terriers and Last Resort. The cast is great across the board, including Billy Zane, Ben Chaplin, Michael Imperioli, Steve Zahn, and Romany Malco. The pilot was funny, shocking, and thoroughly addictive, so bring on the rest!

    9) Black Sails: Season 3 (Amazon Prime with Starz, Jan. 23)

    One of the perks of the Showtime and Starz Amazon subscriptions is that, unlike Amazon’s deal with HBO, they’ll get you access to new episodes as they premiere on their home networks. So that means you won’t have to wait for new episodes of Starz’s pirate drama Black Sails when it returns for its third season on Jan. 23, even if you have bailed on cable and satellite. And if you haven’t checked out Black Sails, this is the perfect time to dive in, since the Amazon membership also gives you access to the first two seasons. The show is actually a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure novel Treasure Island, set two decades before the events of the book and mixing fiction with real-life during the so-called “Golden Age of Piracy.” Lost treasure, swashbuckling, naval battles, and shivered timbers: Black Sails is the most pirate-related fun you can have without Johnny Depp and a bottle of rum.



    December 2015

    Pick of the Month: Transparent: Season 2 (Amazon, Dec. 11)

    Amazon’s slate of original programming finally found its flagship success with Transparent, which stars Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) as the patriarch of a family who announces to his grown kids that he’s transgender and will begin living as a woman. The series explores both Maura’s transition into living out what she always felt to be true, and her kids—played by Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, and Gaby Hoffman—dealing with the changes. The show boasts a ridiculously impressive 98 percent Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes, and it has picked up a slew of awards, including an Emmy for Tambor’s performance and a Golden Globe for Best TV Series – Musical or Comedy. The show is already renewed for a third season as well.

    Best of the rest

    1) Dr. No (Hulu, Dec. 1)

    Last month Hulu added a motherlode of James Bond movies, adding damn near the entire pre-Brosnan run of agent 007’s adventures. One notable absence, however, was the movie that started it all (setting aside the non-canonical original Casino Royale). Now that oversight has been remedied, as Hulu added 1962’s Dr. No on the first of the month, ensuring you can begin your holiday Bond binge with Sean Connery’s very first outing as the debonair spy with the license to kill. After all, it just wouldn’t be a proper Bond-athon without Ursula Andress emerging from the surf in that white bikini.

    2) Friday the 13th series (Hulu, Dec. 1)

    Speaking of long-running movie franchises, Hulu’s also ringing in December with a very different killer. I’m not sure who’s got the higher body count, James Bond or Jason Voorhees, but I’m pretty sure Bond wins in the “flagrant womanizing” department. We all know Jason’s aversion to people having sex, after all… December is a weird time to stock up on slasher movies, but if you’re in the mood for a seasonally dissonant bloodbath, Hulu’s got your back, stocking the streaming catalog with the first eight Friday the 13th movies—well, seven. For some reason Friday the 13th – Part V: A New Beginning is missing. Maybe it’ll pull a Dr. No and show up next month. Slay bells ring, are you listening…

    3) Good Morning, Vietnam / Good Will Hunting (Hulu with Showtime, Dec. 1)

    The holidays are often a mix of the merry and the melancholy, and few actors have ever brought to life both ends of that spectrum as well as the late, much-missed Robin Williams. However your holiday season is playing out, Hulu with Showtime has left a wonderful present under the tree: two of Williams’ best films. And hey, they both start with “Good,” so it’s a natural double feature. In Good Morning, Vietnam, Williams plays an Armed Forces radio DJ in 1965 Saigon whose on-air antics inspire the troops but put him increasingly at odds with his superiors. In Good Will Hunting, Williams gives an Oscar-winning performance as a therapist trying to crack the affected apathy of the brilliant but troubled math genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon). Watch ’em both and raise a glass in Robin’s honor.

    4) Young Sherlock Holmes (Hulu, Dec. 1)

    Even though it was released in 1985, Young Sherlock Holmes would fit right in with today’s crop of films. It’s a prequel, it’s about an iconic pop-culture character during his younger years—hell, it even has cutting-edge CGI special effects! Well, they were cutting edge at the time. The film explores the first meeting between Sherlock (Nicholas Rowe) and John Watson (Alan Cox), who encounter each other at school and are soon swept up in a mystery involving poison darts, an ancient cult, and good old-fashioned human sacrifice. Barry Levinson directed YSH, from a script by Chris Columbus.

    5) Man Seeking Woman: Season 1 (Hulu, Dec. 7)

    Jay Baruchel, (Undeclared, How to Train Your Dragon) stars in this FXX sitcom about a young man navigating the perils and pitfalls of trying to find love after a breakup from his longtime girlfriend. That sounds like a thousand other disposable sitcoms you’ve seen before, but this one at least has the advantage of a singular creative vision guiding it. It’s based on Simon Rich’s 2013 book of short stories, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, and Rich serves as showrunner on the series. The show’s featured some noteworthy guest stars in its 10-episode run thus far, including Bill Hader, Sarah Silverman, and Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan, and it’s currently rocking an 81 percent Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes. It’s due to return for a second season on FXX on Jan. 6, 2016.

    6) Interstellar (Amazon/Hulu, Dec. 12)

    Christopher Nolan’s space epic was one of the most anticipated films of 2014 before it came out… and one of the most controversial and divisive afterwards. Visually stunning and unquestionably ambitious, the film becomes either more interesting or a complete mess in the third act, depending on who you ask. Matthew McConaughey stars as Joe Cooper, a widowed NASA vet living on a dying Earth that’s running out of natural resources. Through a weird set of circumstances related to the aforementioned bonkers third act, Joe winds up enlisted in a secret last-ditch mission to travel through a wormhole near Saturn in search of a new planet for humanity to colonize. Taking the mission could literally mean saving the species, but it will also mean he’ll have to leave his young daughter behind, where, thanks to the vagaries of physics, she’ll keep getting older while he stays the same age.

    7) Mozart in the Jungle: Season 2 (Amazon, Dec. 30)

    Transparent isn’t the only Amazon Original returning for a second season this month. Created by Paul Weitz (About a Boy), Roman Coppola (The Darjeeling Limited), and Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore), Mozart in the Jungle takes viewers inside a world of “sex, drugs, and classical music.” The behind-the-curtain look at modern classical music is revealed through the eyes of Gael García Bernal as composer Rodrigo and Lola Kirke as young oboist Hailey. Like Transparent, Mozart received rockstar critical ratings, currently sitting at 95 percent Fresh on RottenTomatoes, even if it didn’t get nearly the same level of spotlight as Tambor’s show.

    November 2015

    Pick of the Month: The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime, Nov. 20)

    The Man in the High Castle is Amazon Studios’ most ambitious project yet, a much-anticipated adaptation of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick’s infamous novel of alternate history. Set in a divergent 1962 in which the Axis powers won World War II, The Man in the High Castle imagines an America under the bootheel of Japanese and German forces. That status quo is threatened by the appearance of a film titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, said to have been created by the mysterious so-called “Man in the High Castle” and depicting a very different America—our America. Is it merely anti-authoritarian propaganda, a postcard from a different reality, or something else entirely?

    The Man in the High Castle was executive produced by Ridley Scott, a bloke who knows a thing or two about successful adaptations of Dick, having given us the best of the best in the form of Blade Runner. It was written by X-Files veteran Frank Spotnitz, with a cast that includes Alexa Davelos, Rupert Evans, Rufus Sewell, and DJ Qualls, to name a few. The pilot was the most-watched since Amazon began its “pilot season” system of development and audience voting, and it’s already been renewed for a second season.

    Best of the rest

    1) Bond. James Bond. (Hulu, Nov. 1)

    Agent 007 returns this month with the much-anticipated Spectre, and if Bond’s latest adventure leaves you craving more, Hulu has got your back and then some. Continuing a press to beef up its movie catalog, Hulu has snagged streaming rights to the mother lode of classic Bond. While it doesn’t have the entire Bond catalog—Daniel Craig’s modern era is missing, as are the Pierce Brosnan years—you can still watch three decades’ worth of licensed killing for your streaming enjoyment. Clear your schedule and you’ll be able to watch From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Never Say Never Again (1983), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987), and License to Kill (1989).

    2) Adventures in Babysitting (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    Chris Hemsworth may be perfectly cast as Marvel’s Nordic beefcake God of Thunder, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Thor’s appearance in Christopher Columbus’ 1987 directorial debut, Adventures in Babysitting. OK, so he isn’t really Thor, but it was still his most noteworthy live-action appearance until the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe. Elisabeth Shue—cementing my childhood crush begun in The Karate Kid—stars as Chris Parker, a teenage girl who gets stood up, takes what should be a simple babysitting gig, and winds up having a night of crazy adventures across Chicago.

    3) Arachnophobia (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    If you’ve got a thing about spiders, there’s a very good chance you won’t survive viewing Arachnophobia. After a rare and deadly Venezuelan spider hitches a ride to the States, the creepy crawly and its offspring begin terrorizing a small California town. Jeff Daniels is a local doctor trying to figure out what’s causing all the mysterious deaths, and he’s increasingly paralyzed by his crippling fear of spiders. Come for the ookiness, stay for John Goodman as no-nonsense exterminator Delbert McClintock.

    4) Exists (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    Back in September in this column we profiled Bobcat Goldthwait’s found-footage Bigfoot flick Willow Creek. Behind that movie, Exists is probably the second-most noteworthy of the recent trend of Bigfoot horrors. Directed by Eduardo Sánchez—one of the men responsible for kickstarting the modern found-footage genre with The Blair Witch ProjectExists opens with a standard horror setup, with a group of friends venturing into the woods for some fun. Unfortunately, strange noises escalate to mysterious damage to their car, and the friends soon realize there’s something menacing stalking them. Exists only has a 35 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but fans of Sanchez will likely enjoy the ride.

    5)Grosse Pointe Blank (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    Martin Blank (John Cusack) is a professional killer, but his personal life is more of a mess than his crime scenes: He’s bored, depressed, and in therapy years before Tony Soprano got the idea. After fouling up a hit, he takes a job in his hometown to appease his irate client, attend his 10-year high school reunion, and hopefully reconnect with the girl he stood up at prom a decade earlier (Minnie Driver). Grosse Pointe Blank is an eminently rewatchable flick, and the blending of rom-com tropes with edgier scenes like Martin killing a guy with a ballpoint pen in the hall of his high school perfectly mirror Martin’s internal crisis. Bonus points for Dan Aykroyd’s role as a rival “professional” who’s determined to put Martin in the ground.

    6) Out of Sight (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    Say what you will about J-Lo, but her onscreen chemistry with George Clooney is electric in this Elmore Leonard adaptation directed by Steven Soderbergh. Clooney is a professional bank robber named Jack Foley; Lopez is U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco. The pair meet-cute while crammed inside a trunk during Foley’s escape from prison, and after that she’s determined to take him down. But is she really pursuing him for the right reasons? The rest of the top-tier cast includes Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, and Albert Brooks. The script by Scott Frank is one of the best Leonard adaptations ever, and the flick is worth watching for the nonlinear love scene alone.

    7) Turner & Hooch (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)

    I’m a sucker for a Tom Hanks ’80s comedy—The ‘burbs is unapologetically one of my favorite movies—and watching him play straight man to an oversized canine with a drooling problem sounds like a great way to kill an afternoon to me. Hanks is a Scott Turner, a neat-freak cop forced to take the slobbery Hooch into his life after the dog is the only witness to his owner’s murder. Hooch proceeds to eat more or less everything Turner owns, but damned if he doesn’t start growing on the reluctant cop. Half the fun is watching Hanks interact with the dog, but Turner & Hooch also has heart to spare. That heart is just covered with ropes of dog saliva.

    8) The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Amazon Prime, Nov. 5)

    Star Heath Ledger died a third of the way through filming on Terry Gilliam’s fantasy film, but his friends rose to the occasion, with Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell all stepping in to play different incarnations of Ledger’s character. It was a clever solution to a heartbreaking problem, but also a lovely tribute to a powerhouse talent taken far too young. Ledger & co. headline a tale of a travelling theater troupes, magic mirrors, and outsmarting the Devil himself.

    9) Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened? (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 6)

    Superman Lives has become one of the most notorious failed productions in Hollywood history, thanks in no small part to Kevin Smith’s accounts of his time on the project, not to mention those pictures of long-haired Nic Cage in the Superman costume. Death of ‘Superman Lives’ dives deep into the history of the doomed project, which was set to be directed by Tim Burton but was canceled three weeks before filming was set to begin in 1998. The documentary includes interviews with Burton, Smith, writer Dan Gilroy, and producers Jon Peters and Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

    10) Ex Machina (Amazon Prime, Nov. 14)

    Alex Garland has been the screenwriter on some of the best and most intriguing genre films of the young century, from 28 Days Later and Sunshine to Never Let Me Go and Dredd. He finally made his feature directorial debut with Ex Machina, a critically acclaimed science-fiction thriller about a Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer invited to the home of his wealthy, eccentric employer (Oscar Isaac) to investigate a breakthrough: an android named Ava who may be the first example of true artificial intelligence. The more Caleb interacts with Ava (Alicia Vikander), the easier it becomes to forget that she’s machine, but it soon becomes clear that his boss’ motivations may not be as clear-cut as they first appeared. Ex Machina has been almost universally praised, currently rocking a 92 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    October 2015

    Pick of the Month: The Back to the Future trilogy (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)

    This year rings in the 30th anniversary of Robert Zemeckis’ beloved Back to the Future trilogy, and in fact we’re only a few weeks away from “Back to the Future Day”—Oct. 21, 2015, the date Marty arrived in the future in BTTF2. There are plenty of crazy celebrations going on this month, from this cheeky fake trailer for Jaws 19 to the sudden appearance of Pepsi Perfect. But the very best way to celebrate the adventures of Marty McFly and Doc Brown is to rewatch them, and Amazon Prime customers can do just that throughout the month of October. Amazon Prime has added all three Back to the Future movies to the streaming catalog, so now’s the perfect time to play hooky from work, school, or family commitments and settle in for six hours or so of pure time-hopping, hover-boarding, paradox-inducing, “Great Scott”ing, 1.21 gigawatting awesomeness. Our real-life hoverboards may still not be as cool as the movie version, but at least we have the Back to the Future trilogy on-demand for our marathoning delight. This is heavy.

    The best of the rest:

    1) Blood Simple (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    The Coen Brothers have been a pair of the most fascinating filmmakers in the industry for the past three decades, but it all started here, in 1984’s bleak noir crime thriller Blood Simple.

    Small-town Texas bar owner Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya) hires a private dick (M. Emmet Walsh) to investigate his wife (Frances McDormand), whom he suspects is cheating on him. That simple act is the beginning of a long, crooked road full of bad turns and dead bodies. In addition to marking the Coen Brothers’ directorial debut, Blood Simple also kickstarted the careers of cinematographer (and later director) Barry Sonnenfeld and actress Frances McDormand. Blood Simple is currently rocking a 94 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    2) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)

    Jim Carrey mostly makes the news these days for being a vocal anti-vaxxer, so it’s easy to forget just how good he can be when paired with the right material. He’s never been better than in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and directed by Michel Gondry. Carrey plays Joel Barish, coming off a bad breakup with the former love of his life, Clementine (Kate Winslet). He hires a mysterious company to erase all memory of his relationship with his ex… but then changes his mind halfway through. Unfortunately, the procedure has to be done while the subject is sleeping, so Joel is left fleeing through the landscape of his subconscious, clinging to a memory of Clementine and trying to save her from the encroaching darkness. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind won the 2004 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and is rated 93 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

    3) The Expendables 3(Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Sly Stallone managed to resurrect both of his iconic ’80s franchises with 21st century installments of Rocky and Rambo, so it made sense when he eventually put together a series designed to bring every last aging action relic of the Reagan years back to the big screen. In the third Expendables outing, merc badass Barney Ross (Stallone) and his crew face off against one of the group’s co-founders (Mel Gibson), an arms dealer who’s nursing a grudge and determined to make the Expendables live up to their name. The cast for this go-round also includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, and… Kelsey Grammer?

    4) Girl Most Likely (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Imogene (Kristen Wiig) is a failed playwright struggling with writer’s block, working a crappy job at a New York magazine to make ends meet. After a failed suicide attempt in hopes of luring back her ex, she winds up in the custody of her mother (Annette Bening), who frankly would rather be gambling. After inadvertently discovering that her long-thought-dead father is actually alive and living in NYC, Imogene enlists her friends and brother to help track him down, and along the way falls for a charming Backstreet Boys cover band performer.

    Girl Most Likely got nailed with negative reviews, but Wiig and Bening’s performances were singled out for praise. If you’re a Wiig fan, double-feature it with Welcome to Me over on Netflix, or wait around for another Wiig entry further down this list.

    5) The Innkeepers (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Director Ti West has established himself as one of the most talented young horror directors in the game with flicks such as The House of the Devil and The Sacrament, as well as segments in the V/H/S and The ABCs of Death anthologies. The Innkeepers is by far my favorite thing he’s done thus far, a good old-fashioned ghost story buoyed by charming performances from Sara Paxton and Pat Healy.

    They star as the last two remaining staff at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a historic hotel that’s about to close its doors permanently. With the building mostly abandoned, the pair set out to try and gather tangible evidence of the spirits said to haunt its hallways, and what unfolds bounces between funny, tragic, and slow-burn terrifying. If you like the cut of West’s jib, The House of the Devil is also available on Hulu, and The Sacrament is on Netflix Instant. The Innkeepers has a 79 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    6) Joe (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    In recent years, David Gordon Green has mainly been on a comedy run with things like Pineapple Express and HBO’s Eastbound & Down, but he returned to his drama roots with 2014’s Joe. Nicolas Cage stars as the titular Joe Ransom, an ex-con who runs a tree-removal crew in rural Texas. He hires and then befriends 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan), a good kid with a particularly bad dad (Gary Poulter). That friendship will put Joe on a path for either redemption or destruction… maybe both.

    With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 86 percent Fresh, Joe earned praise from critics for both Green’s direction and Cage’s performance, and god knows it’s nice to see Cage actually being good in something these days. One tragic and morbid footnote: Actor Gary Poulter, who played the alcoholic father in Joe—who was homeless in real life when he was cast—was found dead before the film even made it to the festival circuit.

    7) Much Ado About Nothing (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Joss Whedon has spent the past several years earning Disney billions of dollars with the juggernaut Avengers franchise, but he cleansed his palate between them with Much Ado About Nothing. A modern-day remake of Shakespeare’s beloved proto-screwball comedy, Whedon’s Much Ado enlists several of his regulars, including Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, and Tom Lenk. The reunion of Acker and Denisof in a romantic pairing—playing Beatrice and Benedick, respectively—should be more than enough to lure in Angel fans still stinging from the respective ends of Fred and Wesley, but the film was well received overall, currently sitting at 84 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It even earned a Guinness World Record, courtesy of a Blu-ray commentary track that crammed in a whopping 16 members of the cast and crew.

    8) Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)

    Paul Reubens is on the cusp of resurrecting Pee-wee with the help of producer Judd Apatow and Netflix, but in the meantime you can re-experience one of the best iterations of Reubens’ hyperactive manchild. In Big Adventure, Pee-wee sets out cross-country in search of his stolen bicycle, along the way encountering hobos, biker gangs, and “Large Marge,” a creepy trucker who single-handedly soiled the pants of my entire generation thanks to one iconic close-up. Scripted by Reubens with Michael Varhol and the late Phil Hartman (Simpsons, NewsRadio), Pee-wee’s Big Adventure also marked the feature directorial debut of Tim Burton and the first of many collaborations with composer Danny Elfman.

    9) The Skeleton Twins (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Kristen Wiig’s second appearance in this month’s list is in another movie that, weirdly enough, also involves a suicide attempt as inciting incident, just like Girl Most Likely up top. In The Skeleton Twins, Maggie’s (Wiig) attempts to end it all are interrupted by a phone call notifying her that her estranged twin brother Milo (Bill Hader) also just tried to kill himself. She travels to Los Angeles to visit him in the hospital and eventually convinces him to return to their hometown and stay with her a while. The pair’s mutual brush with death proves to be the unlikely catalyst for their own reconnection and discovery of reasons to keep on keeping on. The Skeleton Twins is rated 87 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so if you’re only going to watch one streaming Kristen Wiig suicide comedy this month, it should probably be this one.

    10) The Wolf of Wall Street (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    Hulu just snatched a ton of content from Netflix after the latter ended a multi-year deal with the cable net Epix, and one of the big fish switching ponds is the award-winning Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio joint The Wolf of Wall Street.

    Based on the memoir of ruthless former stock trader Jordan Belfort, Wolf follows Belfort’s (DiCaprio) rise and fall on Wall Street, earning millions through crooked business practices before eventually being brought down by the feds. The cast is stellar across the board, including DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, and Rob Reiner, and screenwriter Terence Winter’s adaptation of Belfort’s book is by turns funny, infuriating, and profane. But poor old Leo still didn’t get to take home an Oscar

    11) They Came Together (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    There’s plenty to mock in modern romantic comedies: the cliched twists and turns, the tired formulas, the inevitable comic misunderstandings. All of that is grist for the mill in They Came Together, a sharp satire of everything rom-com starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, directed by David Wain from a script by Wain and fellow Stella comedy group veteran Michael Showalter. Molly (Poehler) runs a small candy shop. Joel (Rudd) is the head of a massive candy corp that wants to shut her doors permanently. Naturally, they hate each other. But wait...maybe they actually love each other? Because that’s how it works in these things.

    12) You’re Next (Hulu, Oct. 1)

    If you still haven’t seen Adam Wingard’s acclaimed post-modern slasher flick You’re Next, this will make perfect viewing for the Halloween season. Like Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, You’re Next is best approached with as little foreknowledge as possible, so suffice to say it involves a family gathering that goes sideways when masked figures start trying to kill everyone in the house. Where it goes from there… Well, just watch and know that You’re Next ably mixes scares, gore, pitch-black humor, and a star-making performance by Sharni Vinson. It’s rated 75 percent Fresh on RT, but horror fans can easily add another 10-15 percentage points onto that score. Also be sure to check out Wingard’s The Guest on Netflix Instant, which reunited the director with You’re Next screenwriter Simon Barrett, to good effect.

    13) American Horror Show: Freak Show (Amazon Prime/Hulu, Oct. 6)

    The fourth season of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s FX horror anthology series unfolds in 1950s Florida, set in and around “Fräulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities,” one of the last surviving “freak shows” in America. As with previous seasons, much of the earlier cast recurs in new roles, including Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, and Gabourey Sidibe. Even more intriguingly, several other actors, including James Cromwell, actually reprise their roles from season 2’s Asylum, strengthening theories that all of these stories are unfolding within the same narrative universe. Also, there’s a scary-ass clown, because of course there is.

    14) Casual (Hulu, Oct. 7)

    Jason Reitman has racked up the résumé over the past decade, including Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and Young Adult. He also directed several episodes of the American incarnation of The Office, and now he’s diving back into television with Hulu’s Casual, which he created.

    Michaela Watkins (SNL) stars as Valerie, a newly divorced therapist and single mom who moves herself and her 16-year-old daughter (God Bless America’s Tara Lynne Barr) in with her bachelor brother (Tommy Dewey), who runs a dating site. Hijinks will undoubtedly ensue.

    15) Red Oaks (Amazon Prime, Oct. 9)

    Amazon’s much-anticipated Philip K. Dick adaptation The Man in the High Castle is due to arrive next month, but in the meantime they’re serving up another new original series—and this one’s a bit less heavy than “What if the Axis powers won WWII?”

    Red Oaks is set at the prestigious Red Oaks Country Club in 1985, following a young college tennis player named David (Craig Roberts) who is working a summer job there. It’s a coming-of-age tale blended with a workplace comedy, with a dash or two of familial dysfunction thrown in for good measure. Red Oaks was created by Joe Gangemi and frequent Steven Soderbergh collaborator Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL). Soderbergh also executive produced the series, with David Gordon Green (see also Joe) directing the pilot. Red Oaks’ 10-episode first season features a cast that includes Paul Reiser, Richard Kind, and Jennifer Grey.

    16) Camp X-Ray (Hulu with Showtime, Oct. 17)

    Kristen Stewart continues carving out a post-Twilight career with this drama set at the infamous Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. Stewart plays a guard at the facility, spending her days watching over the prisoners designated “enemy combatants” as part of America’s ongoing war on terror. Both the prisoners and her fellow soldiers are frequently hostile toward her, but she befriends one man in particular, who has been incarcerated in Guantánamo for eight long years. That relationship causes her to begin questioning her convictions. Camp X-Ray earned a 73 percent Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, with critics singling out the performances of Stewart and co-star Peyman Moaadi.

    17) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (Amazon Prime/Hulu, Oct. 23)

    Hollywood will be in need of a new reigning young adult movie franchise to milk after The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 hits theaters on Nov. 20. The fourth film in the franchise will wrap up the big-screen adaptation of author Suzanne Collins’ best-selling YA book series, with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) determined to take down the oppressive government of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) once and for all.

    But before then, both fans and newcomers alike will get the chance to revisit the path that led Katniss from simple small-town girl to revolutionary. The original Hunger Games flick isn’t available on any of the core trio of streaming services, but Hulu already has Catching Fire, and the third film is coming to both Amazon Prime and Hulu later this month.

    18) While We’re Young (Amazon Prime, Oct. 23)

    While We’re Young is one of the latest from writer/director Noah Baumbach, who previously gave us indie hits such as Frances Ha, Greenberg, and The Squid and the Whale. While We’re Young reunites Baumbach with his Greenberg leading man, Ben Stiller, with the actor this time playing a New York City documentarian named Josh, alongside Naomi Watts as his wife Cornelia. Their marriage is on the rocks, and Josh has been struggling to complete his latest film for years. Their lives are energized after befriending a younger couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), but they soon learn that sometimes something that looks too good to be true, is. While We’re Young is currently sitting at 83 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

    19) Danny Collins (Amazon Prime, Oct. 30)

    Screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s (Crazy, Stupid, Love) feature directorial debut stars Al Pacino as an aging ’70s rock icon named, well, Danny Collins. Based loosely on the real life of folk singer Steve Tilston, Danny Collins has the titular rocker reexamining his life after discovering a 40-year-old letter written—but never delivered—to him by the late John Lennon. He moves into a hotel in Jersey, tries to start a relationship with the grown son he’s never met (Bobby Cannavale), and tries to reconnect with the creative fire he lost somewhere along the way. The flick is rated 77 percent Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, with Pacino’s lead performance earning much praise, alongside a dynamite cast that also includes Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, and Christopher Plummer as Collins’ long-time manager who discovers the Lennon letter.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    The Captain America: Civil War trailers and clips we're getting are preparing us for a superhero battle of epic proportions, but for some of the people paying attention, the battle is all too familiar. It’s one that plays out on cable TV everyday.

    Billionaire versus idealist, a disagreement over the role of government, two men who were once friends. Granted, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders might not agree on much of anything—and they probably won’t face each other in the general election—but boy, would we pay to see that fight.

    Bringing Hillary Clinton in as Cap would’ve worked better for the former friends' narrative, but she still makes a delightful cameo, while Ben Carson webs his way into the movie just like in real life. But who is Sanders's Bucky?  

    The election-themed parody is part of Civil War week on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where fans will get tons of Captain America interviews and maybe some real clips too. The superheroes may want to beat each other to a pulp, but the camaraderie between castmates is real, as Team Cap makes its case to the fans.

    #TeamCast, anyone?


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