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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    With a rapidly changing library of titles, hosting your own movie marathon on Netflix is pretty easy. But instead of cherry-picking timeless classics or old favorites to enjoy, why not pay attention to those unfamiliar titles that you constantly find yourself weeding through and have yourself a bad movie marathon?

    We sifted through the awful, absurd, and just plain WTF offerings of Netflix and managed to whittle an extensive list down to 25 semi-digestible entries. Representing all genres and countless questionable career moves, here are some truly abysmal titles whose creators will never have to worry about pesky things like counting money or Oscar statuette placement.

    1) Love Wedding Marriage

    Directed by Dermot Mulroney, Love Wedding Marriage has the dubious distinction of scoring a rare 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, one of two Mandy Moore movies (along with Swinging With the Finkels) to earn the honor. In Love Wedding Marriage, Moore plays an alleged Berkeley graduate and relationship counselor with all the acting skill of an energetic high school cheerleader, and she gets no help from on-screen husband Kellan Lutz, who feels less like a romantic partner than her gay best friend. The film, co-starring Jane Seymour and James Brolin as Moore’s wackily estranged parents, wants to be a commentary on modern commitment, but as the New York Times memorably put it, it feels more like “punishment for a crime you can’t remember committing.” 

    2) An Invisible Sign

    Jessica Alba has never been known for her thespic abilities. To date, her most memorable performance was in Sin City, a film that mostly required her to take off her clothes and shake her lady parts in slow motion. Indeed in An Invisible Sign, Alba proves the biggest hurdle between herself and success is pointing her face into the camera and acting. Director Marilyn Agrelo casts Alba as a 20-year-old genius math teacher with OCD, but the movie’s idea of intelligence is making her into a stunted Manic Pixie Dream Girl with Pippi Longstocking braids. It’s like a Saturday Night Live skit, except that no one in the movie is in on the joke.

    3) The Cobbler

    Adam Sandler has made a lot of bad movies in his career (Jack and Jill, anyone?), but perhaps none is more bizarre than The Cobbler, which is a Netflix category unto itself. It’s the world’s first—and probably last—Jewish body-switching gentrification comedy. Sandler plays a schlubby cobbler gifted with the magical ability to transport into the body of anyone’s shoes he happens to try on, which leads to some unexpected transphobic and racist hijinks. The Cobbler isn’t just a bewildering, offensive disaster, it’s a downright depressing one. Directed by future Oscar-winner Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), this film was supposed to announce Sandler as a serious actor. Instead, its failure further doomed him to a lifetime of co-starring in David Spade movies.

    4) Crossroads

    Everyone involved seems to have experienced some sort of blunt force trauma to the head. How else would anyone believe that audiences would stomach the following scenario: Britney Spears plays Lucy, a shy valedictorian virgin with a nerdy, bespectacled boyfriend (pre-puberty Justin Long). Lucy is saved from a lifetime of awkward sex when she embarks on a road trip with her two childhood best friends: The most popular girl in school (Zoe Saldana) and a pregnant student from the wrong side of the tracks (Taryn Manning). Crossroads is one of those movies where everyone finds love, motherhood, or their long-lost parents within 90 minutes—while making time for karaoke—but it’s notable for at least one juicy bit of trivia. The script was written by a young Shonda Rhimes. 

    5) Serena

    boasts an amazing IMDb page. Directed Susanne Bier—who helmed the 2011 foreign-language Oscar winner, In a Better WorldSerena re-teamed America’s favorite pairing: Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Fresh off the success of American Hustle, it seemed as if the frequent co-stars could do no wrong. Not quite. The film was so bad that it didn’t even screen in theaters, ignominiously dumped onto streaming platforms. That’s for the best, because the fewer people that see this soapy noir bore, the better. The screenplay, in which Cooper plays a lumber baron and Lawrence his unhinged wife, seems to actively hate its actors and want to see them suffer. It’s a mess of bad accents, dialogue, and life choices—like a one-night stand you’d rather forget. I suggest you do. 

    6) The Human Centipede 2

    I’m going to put as much thought into reviewing The Human Centipede 2, the second installment of Tom Six’s ass-to-mouth trilogy, as the director did into making it: Here’s a GIF of Paul Rudd vomiting

    7) Gigli

    Another of Ben Affleck’s many entries on this list, Gigli is the notorious box office turkey that helped bring the Bennifer portmanteau into the world. But unlike most turkeys, this one features a notorious crime against America’s favorite holiday bird. In the film, Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are brought together by narrative convenience and a shared interest in Lopez’s lesbianism, which will, of course, be jettisoned by the end of the movie when she meets the the right man. (Ah, Hollywood.) When Lopez eventually lets Affleck know she’s ready for heterosexuality, she flops down on a hotel bed in front of him, spreads her legs, and says, “Gobble gobble.” Good luck unseeing that on Thanksgiving.

    8) Scary Movie 5

    Scary Movies 5 might be one of the least memorable terrible movies ever made. The fifth entry in the stunningly resilient series hands off the reins to Malcolm D. Lee, following two films each from Keenan Ivory Wayans and David Zucker. Like Anna Faris, who declined to appear in Scary Movie 5, they knew when enough was enough. The fourth sequel is a stunningly desperate cash-in that believes a cameo from a post-breakdown Charlie Sheen (as himself) is a selling point. What’s odd about this scenario is that the actor already appeared in the franchise: In Scary Movie 3, Sheen played a spoof of Mel Gibson’s character in Signs. How could Sheen be himself and someone else simultaneously? That pretty much indicates the attention to detail in this tired, forgettable send up of Paranormal Activity.

    9) inAPPropriate Comedy

    On the short list of worst movies ever made, inAPPropriate Comedy brings together an unlikely cast of Lindsay Lohan, Rob Schneider, Michelle Rodriguez, Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, and former ShamWow spokesman Vince Offer for an omnibus comedy of skits loosely tied together by an offensive iPhone app. In one recurring skit, called “The Amazing Racist,” comedian Ari Shaffir goes Jackass on people of color by attempting to lure them into a boat back to Africa. If the apocalypse does destroy the world, let’s hope it takes all copies of this movie first.

    10) The Best of Me

    If everyone involved in The Notebook had realized that the film’s massive cult success would lead to a series of increasingly schmaltzy melodramas with diminishing returns, do you think they would have made it? Had they watched The Best of Me, probably not. When it comes to Nicholas Sparks adaptations, this is as bottom of the barrel as it gets. But if you’ve seen one of these movies before, you know roughly how it goes: Boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl are separated by plot conventions, boy and girl are reunited, boy is murdered by his redneck alcoholic of a father, girl receives heart transplant from boy to save her son’s life, boy is benevolent savior ghost, girl probably goes and bangs someone else. Isn’t love grand? 

    11) Elizabethtown

    is proof that hell exists. The film wasn’t so much directed by Cameron Crowe as it was foisted upon humanity as a punishment for our sins. Crowe’s sixth turn behind the camera is something that the director typically does well: a comedy-drama about a guy who has everything, forced to learn life lessons after losing it all. It’s the same template as Jerry Maguire, except this time the formula turns to a big bottle of rotten milk. The film’s journey toward redemption and forgiveness (set to an indie soundtrack) is glib and preachy and its characters are some of the most insufferable creations ever committed to film. Kirsten Dunst plays Claire, a flight attendant who injects herself into the life of Drew (Orlando Bloom) with the frantic passion of a serial killer. Their romance is intended to be endearing, but it feels more like a prequel episode of America’s Most Wanted

    12) The Other Sister

    Everything in The Other Sister is terrible. The film was directed by career hack Garry Marshall with the same nuance he brought to New Year's Eve and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. But The Other Sister isn’t just maudlin sap, it’s so poorly made that it seems to be making fun of the very people it wants to celebrate. In the film’s most infamous scene, Carla (played by Juliette Lewis) gets lost in her own house.

    13) Grace of Monaco

    The past few years have not been kind to royal biopics. In 2014, Naomi Watts earned her first Razzie nomination for the exploitative, navel-gazing Diana, a look at the former Princess of Wales’s doomed love affairs. Then there was the even more ill-fated Grace of Monaco, which was dumped on Lifetime after being all but laughed out of Cannes. It’s a trainwreck. The project probably seemed like sure thing for Nicole Kidman: Director Olivier Dahan’s previous picture was La Vie en Rose, the Edith Piaf biopic that won Marion Cotillard an Oscar. His follow-up was about another Oscar winner, Grace Kelly. But Dahan shoots his actors in the face: The performances are absurdly, unbelievably over the top. It all seems intentional, as if Grace of Monaco is trying to do something, but God only knows what. 

    14) The Next Best Thing

    Madonna has spent her entire career trying to capably imitate a human woman on-screen and failing miserably. In The Next Best Thing, she can’t even stick to an accent, let alone a character. Filmed in 2000, shortly after Madge wedded film director Guy Ritchie and became British, it seems to have rubbed off. The Material Girl’s dialect hilariously straddles two continents, sometimes changing within the same line. The film itself is Kramer vs. Kramer for idiots: A pair of best friends, one gay (Rupert Everett) and one straight (Madonna), hook up during a night of drunken abandon. A child is conceived. This leads to a slew of misunderstandings that could be resolved with a simple conversation but instead end in a prolonged custody battle, followed by tears and hugs. Even Judge Joe Brown wouldn’t take this case. 

    15) Bed of Roses

    This forgotten Christian Slater-Mary Stuart Masterson romance was left behind in the '90s for good reason. To quote Outkast, these roses smell like poo-poo-oo. Directed by Michael Goldenberg, who would later go onto write the screenplay for the epic animated spacesuit disaster Green Lantern, Bed of Roses is like 9 ½ Weeks without the sex. So if you have a softcore porno with no action, what do you have left then? Absolutely nothing. The movie may have the thinnest plot in the history of film: A troubled woman going through a crisis (Masterson) receives a bouquet of flowers from an anonymous admirer. It turns out to be the hunky owner of a flower shop (Slater), who later fesses up to sending them. They date, briefly overcome obstacles, and fall in love. Yet the movie is a mind-numbing 87 minutes long. I guarantee it will be the most excruciatingly boring hour and a half of your life. 

    16) Burying the Ex

    Once upon a time, Joe Dante did good things. Marvelous things. You know him as the man behind Gremlins, Innerspace, and The Howling. However, judging from this retrograde, stunningly misogynistic dud, his politics are stuck in the '80s. Burying the Ex is just as bad as its plot description sounds. Max (Anton Yelchin) wants to break up with his needy, annoying girlfriend, Evelyn (Ashley Greene), but he gets lucky: She dies! That frees up Max to move onto another hottie who is way too good for him (Alexandra Daddario), despite the fact that losing your girlfriend, even if the relationship isn’t great, would likely be a traumatic experience for anyone. He’s fine, though, and not a sociopath at all. Max’s plans for sweet your-girlfriend-is-worm-food nookie are foiled when Evelyn rises from the dead to nag him. What a drag

    17) To the Wonder

    Terrence Malick very rarely makes movies. Before the current decade, he had only directed five in his entire career: Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, and The New World. But shortly after the success of 2011’s The Tree of Life, which many (myself included) consider to be a masterpiece, he announced a slew of new projects. That ignited rumors that the reclusive 72-year-old was dying and was attempting to get out as many movies as possible in the time he had left. This equation might seem ageist if To the Wonder weren’t a truly, madly, deeply awful film—by far the worst thing its director has ever done. The film, starring Rachel McAdams and Ben Affleck, takes many of the stylistic techniques that made his previous film such a marvel and makes them into spiritual kitsch. If you love ponderous voiceover, no character development, and shots of Olga Kurylenko twirling, this is the pseudo-philosophical mumbo-jumbo for you. 

    18) Passion

    In describing the movies Bucky Larson and Ed, film critic Nathan Rabin coined the term “shitty miracle” to describe a film in which “everything goes awry.” Rabin writes, “It’s not a matter of one sorry element dragging the rest down; it’s every terrible component amplifying the awfulness of everything else.” Of recent years, Brian dePalma’s Passion is one of the most likely candidates, a remake of the French corporate psychosexual thriller Love Crime that should come with its own laugh track. Starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace, it’s so shockingly, mesmerisingly bad it doesn’t appear to take place on Earth. The film’s cold exteriors are meant to suggest Germany, but it feels more like that ice planet in Interstellar.

    19) Authors Anonymous

    Do you buy Chris Klein as someone who could write a book? A whole book, and not a coloring book? What about Kaley Cuoco? Can you also picture her writing a novel that is not composed of Instagram photos of herself smiling in the wind? Then Authors Anonymous, which appears to have been filmed on someone’s very old Blackberry, is the movie for you. It’s also the kind of movie for people who like movies where characters seem to know each other and interact for no apparent reason, and thus, it would make perfect sense that Mike Ehrmantraut and Aaron Samuels from Mean Girls are hanging out. Authors Anonymous will also appeal to those who believe that glasses make people appear intelligent (ala Denise Richards), even when all other evidence is to the contrary. 

    20) Say It Isn’t So

    It’s the oldest rule in Hollywood that the success of one movie will spawn the success of a slew of other movies that will regret making you ever like that movie to begin with. After There’s Something About Mary became a huge sleeper hit, first there was My, Myself & Irene (which wasn’t good) and then there was Say It Ain’t So (which was a cinematic liver spot). If this were Multiplicity, Say It Ain’t So would be the fifth or sixth clone—the one that is basically a walking pool of human refuse. Starring Heather Graham and Chris Klein (hello darkness, my old friend!), this is a laugh-free comedy about a couple who find out they might be related. The film’s most famous feature is Klein repeatedly reaching into a cow’s butt. That’s a pretty good metaphor for the movie itself. 

    21) My Boss’s Daughter

    This a movie about Ashton Kutcher trying to bang Tara Reid. That’s everything you need to know. 

    22) In the Name of the King

    I’ll say it: Uwe Boll gets a bad rap. Often dubbed as the “worst living film director,” Boll certainly is the master of his craft. He doesn’t make lazy bad movies. The German director behind Bloodrayne, Postal, and Blubberella makes feverishly terrible movies—usually video-game adaptations—that invent new, heretofore unheard of ways to be bad. Take Alone in the Dark, for example. This is a movie in which Tara Reid plays a smart person, a paleontologist no less, who pronounces “Newfoundland” as three distinct words. They keep it in the film. In the Name of the King’s most impressive feature is how thoroughly it throws out the rulebook on what a fantasy period piece even is: The cast list includes Matthew Lillard, Ray Liotta, Jason Statham, and Burt Reynolds, all hamming it up like they’re being taken to the state fair. 

    23) The Ridiculous Six

    Adam Sandler’s first feature as part of his four-picture Netflix deal is a train robbery disguised as a movie. The comedian has admitted that he views his movies as paid vacations, and with The Ridiculous 6, Sandler has gotten Netflix to bankroll the world’s most expensive party in which all of his friends are invited. The Frank Coraci-directed film is a loose spoof of The Magnificent Seven with the barest pretense to plot, logic, and common sense, and it’s incredible to consider that it took two people (Sandler and Tim Herlihy) to write a screenplay that appears to be so utterly nonexistent. If you like incessant fart jokes, Native American stereotypes, and the sight of Taylor Lautner wearing buckteeth, go for it. Otherwise, run for the hills. 

    24) White Chicks

    What is it about bad comedies that makes them so much worse than other kinds of bad movies? Perhaps it’s a matter of distance. When you’re watching an ill-conceived drama, the fact that it’s intended to be taken seriously allows for ironic mockery. It’s much harder to make fun of a poorly made comedy—because it’s supposed to be in on the joke. A good example of this is White Chicks, the 2004 Wayans Brothers comedy that features the most disturbing prosthetics in film history. To go undercover as two sorority girls, a pair of FBI agents don what are basically Michael Myers masks. White Chicks would play much better as a horror film. The result is so godawful and unbelievable that it almost passes for brilliant, and the film has attracted a number of apologists over the years. But don’t be fooled: If Freddy Got Fingered can weasel its way into a cult following, anything can. 

    25) The Paperboy

    The Paperboy
    is both one of the worst movies you will ever see and a precious gift, sent from the heavens to be cherished by us mere mortals. Before Lee Daniels gave us Empire, there was this divisive 2012 disasterpiece, featuring Nicole Kidman peeing all over Zac Efron. I’ve spent a great deal of my career advocating for this movie and trying to get people to watch it, precisely because it is truly, completely, bewilderingly one of a kind. It’s the kind of bad movie that when you find out friends of yours haven’t seen, you make them stop everything and immediately watch it with you. Some movies are bad but also boring and they fade away. There is absolutely nothing boring about The Paperboy.

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    After Radiohead and frontman Thom Yorke began deleting posts on the band's social-media accounts over the weekend, the thought bubbles start popping up: New album? Blank slate as viral marketing? 

    Turns out they were just clearing the way to burn the witch.

    On Tuesday, Radiohead released a new video for its upcoming song "Burn the Witch," a claymation clip that references the 1973 pagan horror film The Wicker Man, which was remade in 2006 with Nicolas Cage and gave us this wonderful meme.

    The video is also reminiscent of the Trumptonshire trilogy, a late-1960s BBC children's series.  

    Radiohead is preparing to go on tour, and fans got a whiff of what might be in store last week.

    The single for the song, which has allegedly been floating around for more than a decade, is set to be released May 4. 

    Radiohead's Twitter and Instagram accounts now only include new artwork and links to the video. Given the streaming platform war pitting established services like Spotify against newcomers like Tidal, it will be interesting to see how the celebrated band decides to release and sell its upcoming album. 

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    If you're a woman in search of high-quality original Web videos, there's some good news: Refinery29 has signed deals with Kristen StewartGabourey Sidibe, and America Ferrera to produce programming as part of the website’s new lineup of content.

    All three actresses will be calling shots behind the camera in these new projects, Refinery29 announced this week. Stewart and Sidibe are both set to make their directorial debuts with short films as part of the company’s ShatterBox Anthology—which, as Variety notes, is "a series of 12 short-form original scripted films created by female directors, writers, and animators, launched with creative support from Women at Sundance, as well as advisory support from Killer Films’ founders Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler."

    Stewart’s short is reportedly titled Water, and Sidibe’s is A Tale of Four Women.

    Ferrera will executive produce two projects: One, Behind the Headlines, is a multimedia experience that incorporates video, text, and images as a way to humanize “the conversations around the issues that matter to women.” The second, Only Girl, will be a documentary series looking into what it's like to be female in male-dominated fields like baseball or piloting. 

    Refinery29 has not announced release dates for the projects. 

    H/T Variety

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    Hamiltondominated the 2016 Tony Awards nominations, with Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway juggernaut notching a record 16 nods for the theater industry's 70th annual awards ceremony on Tuesday.

    Also doing well at the nominations announcement was Shuffle Along, the starry musical that opened last week, with 10 nominations; the Roundabout Theater Company's well-received revival of She Loves Me landed eight. The Roundabout's Long Day's Journey into Night, starring Jessica Lange, led the season's plays with seven nods, while the two biggest new-play contenders, The Humans and Eclipsed, scored six apiece.

    The question of whether Hamilton would set a new record was among the most closely watched at the nominations announcement. In recent weeks the horserace became whether the show would top the record of 15 nominations set by The Producers in 2001 and matched in 2009 by Billy Elliot.

    In that regard, Hamilton was hampered by the lack of a sound design category, which existed in 2009 (and for which Billy Elliot was nominated and subsequently won). But the musical made up for that one missing category when nominators went deep into the show's acting pool.

    In the featured musical actor race, three of the five spots are filled with Hamilton actors: Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff, and Christopher Jackson. As expected, creator-star Lin-Manuel Miranda and co-star Leslie Odom Jr. took spots in the best actor in a musical category, while Philippa Soo notched a lead actress nod and Renee Elise Goldsberry took a featured actress slot.

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    When the presidential campaign of businessman Donald Trump was still in its adolescence and when some still were aghast at how he had called Mexican illegal immigrants "rapists," the Spanish-language network TV Azteca advertised the television coverage of a U.S-Mexico soccer game with a commercial spot that proudly featured Trump's xenophobia.

    Now an Argentine TV station is getting into the act as well.

    With Argentina's national soccer team set to hit the U.S. in June for the Copa America tournament, this ad is now available for all of North and South America to see. And yeah, it makes it seem as if Trump is truly scared of the La Albiceleste.

    No matter what happens with Trump and his presidential aspirations, the fact is that Argentina—one of the biggest soccer powers in the world—will be coming to town this summer. This likely won't end well for the Americans and their soccer fans.

    H/T Deadspin 

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    On Tuesday afternoon, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Facebook page broadcast a 90-minute livestream of a bunny and a kitten in a pen. Even though nothing really happened, it was perfect nonetheless.  

    For those who haven't caught all of season 2 yet, the feed is a reference to a theme song Kimmy improvises for a pair of fuzzy pals after seeing a cute photo on the computer at her public library—Kimmy's first encounter with clickbait.

    Just watch the feed and quietly sing along:

    Bunny and Kitty, being best friends. 
    Together forever, the fun never ends. 
    Solving mysteries one hug at a time. 
    Bunny and Kitty, two of a kind.

    With that song in mind, seeing the pair hanging out in real life is almost too much.  

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    The Daily Dot is celebrating Woman Crush Wednesday, better known as #WCW on Twitter and Instagram, by highlighting female creators on YouTube whose work we admire.

    In late April, Brad Devine surprised his wife Hailey with an emotional anniversary video of their 10-plus years together. The day of the upload, the video quickly rose to become one of the most shared videos in the United States, exposing their picturesque lives to a world far beyond the couple’s 60,000 subscribers.

    I’ve seen days worth of anniversary videos in my time as a video curator and things have a way of becoming nauseatingly cheesy. But even me, a sarcastic reporter whose daily goal is to survive the cold streets of New York, couldn’t help but melt while watching this couple’s story unfold.

    High school sweethearts drawn together by their mutual love of filmmaking, the Devines have turned their YouTube channel into a video scrapbook. There is footage of their first film projects, engagement, 12-countries-in-12-months travels, wedding, two years apart as Brad served his Mormon mission, and the birth of their daughter Lucy. While their early content is mostly glimpses into family adventures and international travel, Hailey has expanded the channel’s focus to include traveling advice, life updates, and motherhood musing. These videos show her dedication as a mother and partner, and through the family’s worldwide adventures, Hailey uses online video to encourage others to find great happiness in life’s little moments.

    Early last year, Devine opened up about finding her daughter’s photos stolen and uploaded to a baby role-playing Instagram—a growing online fetish community—and began educating other family vloggers about the importance of keeping your family safe online. This is a lesson that often goes untaught to YouTube creators as many don’t realize that showing home-improvement projects or vlogging about trips leaves them vulnerable to harassment and home invasion.

    Devine’s channel could be easily lost among the thousands of other lifestyle vloggers on YouTube. But what sets her apart from the Zoellas and Estée Lalondes of the vlogging world is the setup of her channel—documenting the entire courtship, marriage, and family expansion—which as a viewer feels like you’re watching a movie.

    Two videos in, I felt invested in watching this family build their lives despite our minimal commonalities. The second defining factor is Devine’s stunning methods of storytelling. Her videos boast a fierce color palette that document travel, love, and perfectly coordinated outfits in varying styles of vlogs, stop motion, and more. I’m captivated watching a fellow 25-year-old’s life that is 180-degrees different than mine.

    Few of our lives resemble the Devine family. But aside from their story being a fairy tale you can’t stop watching, their content stands as a reminder to turn off the computer and go engage in adventures beyond your Wi-Fi code. To travel and make art and fall in love with places, people, and moments. They’re an antidote to the oversharing of daily vlogging and that is a breath of fresh air for YouTube audiences worldwide. 

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    Hulu plans to bring live TV to its service this year, and it announced the launch of new season pickups of original programming The Mindy Project and The Path at the platform’s 2016 NewFront event in New York.

    “We moved to Hulu a year ago, and at first I was a little nervous,” said Mindy Kaling, creator and star of The Mindy Project. But her fears were quickly assuaged: “The streaming life is sweet. On Hulu I’ve been able to make the show I’ve always wanted to make, where I eat sour straws by the yard and make out with hot guys under good lighting.”

    Kaling’s show gets a fifth season, while The Path will get a second. Hulu also announced the launch of a documentary films division, bolstered by an exclusive acquisition of The Beatles: Eight Days a Week from Ron Howard; showcased a preview of upcoming series Shut Eye; and brought Hugh Laurie out to talk about his new series, Chance.

    “[Hulu] has thrown their shoulder against the wheel with all their might,” said Laurie of the company backing the series about a San Francisco-based forensic neuropsychiatrist, which received a two-season deal.

    Hulu will also lean into the election cycle with a new special from Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, and it’s pushing into emerging technology with a VR partnership with LiveNation. Hulu launched its VR product in March, and will soon give exclusive, 360-degree access to major tours.

    But original programming wasn’t the biggest buzz: Hulu’s plan to launch a live TV streaming service for cord-cutters seeking an alternative to traditional cable packages is raising eyebrows online and off. While Hulu wasn’t forthcoming on specific details of the Live push, it’s rumored to cost $40 per month and hit in 2017.

    “We’ve literally put the TV back in the TV.” 

    For the advertisers in attendance, Hulu touted new ad products as well, launching interactive ads tailored to living room TV viewers, where 70 percent of Hulu’s users are watching programming. The streaming service is collaborating with Nielsen to capture ad measurements of living room platform viewers as well.

    “We’ve literally put the TV back in the TV,” said CEO Mike Hopkins.

    Hulu saw a 30 percent growth in subscribers to hit 12 million in May 2016. Hulu benefits from the fact that its catalog is bolstered by programming from the wider traditional television catalog, and while it showcased its own talent from the originals slate, the event was hosted by Comedy Central’s Broad City stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer (their series is streaming in its entirety on Hulu). Jacobson welcomed everyone not to “Newfronts” but to “upfronts”—the term for the non-digital event proliferated by traditional networks—to murmurs in the room, but the language is one that Hulu embraced across the presentation. It speaks to Hulu’s view that TV is new media.

    “It doesn’t matter what our media age is; it matters who you’re trying to reach,” said SVP of Advertising Sales Peter Naylor, noting that the company’s goal is to market to every demographic. “I think it’s time we start asking new questions in new media.”

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    While you're mindlessly scrolling through Netflix to find a movie that fits your mood, the company is watching you. 

    Netflix explained its new viewer-engagement project on its blog, describing its focus on how users interact with the cover art for movies and TV shows. 

    For this round of A/B testing, Netflix tried to figure out what viewers were looking for in a movie or TV series by offering different cover art. If you're a Netflix subscriber, you might have noticed that the thumbnails for popular or trending titles often change. Netflix wants to get your attention quickly—specifically, in under 90 seconds. 

    "Through various studies," Netflix's Gopal Krishnan wrote, "we found that our members look at the artwork first and then decide whether to look at additional details. Knowing that, we asked ourselves if we could improve the click-through rate for that first glance?"

    The company tracked which cover photo for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt got the most engagement. The "winning" image, marked with a green arrow, reveals that "faces with complex emotions outperform stoic or benign expressions—seeing a range of emotions actually compels people to watch a story more." 

    Engineers also explored how viewers engaged with cover art across different regions using its original series Sense 8.

    "Examining regional differences helped us see that while great stories transcend borders, it is important to understand how presenting each story in different regions impacts how quickly members from around the world actually discover that story through artwork," Krishnan wrote.

    Other findings include the fact that showing villains in artwork drives more engagement and that having ensemble casts on the cover art, like season 1 of Orange Is the New Black, is less engaging than just featuring one cast member.

    While Netflix labels some of the findings "regional nuances," one can't help but wonder if "region" is just one component.

    The Verge's T.C. Sottek saw a new thumbnail of Chris Pratt for the cover of Parks and Recreation, while his female colleague still saw Amy Poehler. When I opened Netflix this morning, the art for season 2 of Grace and Frankie showed four cast members and faces with a range of complex emotions, so this experiment is obviously still in progress. 

    Netflix also showed me the White Guy Parade, which made me close the tab in less than 15 seconds. What can the company do about that? 

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    On Wednesday NBCUniversal’s digital comedy channel, Seeso, announced a new slate of original programming set for premiere this summer. Seeso has also optioned worldwide rights for feature-length documentary The Pistol Shrimps, about the Los Angeles-based female basketball team by the same name.

    The announcement arrived Wednesday during the 2016 NewFronts, an annual presentation opportunity for media companies looking to sell series to advertisers. NBCUniversal does not have a slot at the 2016 NewFronts and instead will present on May 16 as part of the Broadcast TV Upfronts. The announcement for Seeso today could be a strong attempt to stay in the minds of digital buyers, who are expected to make buys against premium content despite the comedy brand's subscription model.

    Below is a rundown of the new programming from Seeso’s public announcement:

    • Gentlemen Lobsters (8 episodes), premieres June 16
      Based on the Webby Award-winning hit GQ digital series, Gentlemen Lobsters features Garrett and Quinn, best friends and roommates, who struggle to survive the devastating reality that is being 20-something lobsters. Starring and executive produced by Kevin Burrows and Matt Mider. For Condé Nast Entertainment, executive producers are Dawn Ostroff and Antonio Hernandez. For HotHouse Productions, executive producers are Michael J. Rizzo and Sean Conroy.
    • Night Train with Wyatt Cenac (6 episodes), premieres June 30
      A mix of standup, music, and other surprises, where anything can happen and anything is welcome, Night Train with Wyatt Cenac captures the amazing talent and spontaneity that has made the live show a staple of the New York comedy scene for the past three years. Executive produced by Cenac and Marianne Ways. Produced by Avalon Television, with David Martin, Jon Thoday, and Richard Allen-Turner also executive producing.
    • HarmonQuest (10 episodes), premieres July 14
      A comedic journey into the hilarious world of fantasy role-playing with Dan Harmon and his Comedian Companions. The show will feature Executive Producers Dan Harmon and Spencer Crittenden, as well as Erin McGathy and Jeff Bryan Davis with new guest appearances each episode. Produced by Universal Cable Productions.

    You can check out the full list below.

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    Love him or don't connect with his art and mostly find him intolerable, rapper Kanye West was crowned artist of the year by the 2016 Webby Awards on Tuesday. 

    As the Webbys wrote via a blog: "A leader and innovator in the music industry, Kanye is changing the cultural paradigm of how music is shared, released, presented, & consumed."

    It's an unimpeachable assertion, given that his Life of Pablo album was streamed a reported 250 million times via subscription music service Tidal during its first 10 days online. 

    Sure, he was later sued by an angry fan because the record eventually made its way to free streaming service Spotify, but the Tidal exclusive felt special for a solid month, didn't it? Lest we forget, people wanted to hear this thing so badly that, in countries without Tidal, people made their own versions of Pablo.

    Webby winners will be presented during a ceremony in New York City on May 16—with a livestream to follow the next day. Now in its 20th year, the awards received close to 13,000 entries from more than 70 countries. 

    West will reportedly be on hand to accept his hardware, and you can still vote on categories such as GIF of the year on the Webbys site

    H/T Stereogum

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    In the first episode, Flowers gets right to it: A man attempts to hang himself from a tree but fails, as his daughter watches from her window. Later, he must face down the same rope after his mother falls and dies trying to store it.

    These are the kinds of absurd scenarios that power Flowers, which debuts on comedy streaming site Seeso today. Originally a Channel 4 show, the six-episode Flowers—created, directed, and written by 29-year-old Will Sharpe—tells the story of Maurice Flowers, played by Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh, A Field in England) and wife Deborah (Olivia Colman of Peep Show and Broadchurch). Colorfully clad Deborah tries to slog through their marriage by being overly cheerful and accommodating, and Maurice is lost in a fog of suicidal thoughts and writer’s block, as he attempts to finish a children’s book.

    Maurice is responsible for an animated creature called Mr. Grubb, and as the series progresses, the line between the two blurs. In the first episode, Maurice narrates the opening scene, which opens on a dreary English farm, with an ominous fairy-tale cadence: “From a weird reverie of dark revelation, Mr. Grubb woke up with a strange sensation.”

    Elsewhere, Maurice and Deborah attempt to navigate the lives of their emotionally stunted twins, Amy (Sophia DiMartino) and Donald (Daniel Rigby of Black Mirror), who both long for Abigail, the daughter of a lecherous plastic surgeon. Abigail rejects Donald’s clumsy, angry flirting in favor of Amy’s trembling curiosity. “Are you a feminist?” she asks Amy, by way of a come-on.

    And then there’s Shun (played by Sharpe), a Japanese-British artist who lives in a shed on the property and is there to help with illustrations for Maurice’s book. Instead, he develops an odd relationship with Maurice, presenting him with an increasingly sexual series of anime drawings. Sharpe says that his character actually grew out of sketch shows he watched as a kid living in Japan.

    As the show unfolds, we see more of the connections between the family, in the face of chaos and depression.

    “I’m always interested in counterpoint and how opposites play against each other,” he says, “and how the Japanese flavors of comedy would play against the British flavors of comedy. And in the end, I guess Shun became a kind of useful conduit for that style.” 

    We see how those two cultures shaped his life in the final episode’s heartbreaking opening scene.

    Sharpe, who created the half-hour series for the U.K.’s Channel 4, says he spent a couple years fleshing out what the “world” of Flowers would look and feel like, and that Barratt and Colman were always first choice for the roles. Both actors have deftly balanced comedy with drama in their careers, but Sharpe relates that he never wanted the show to be “willfully dark.”

    “We never wanted to make fun of anyone’s pain,” he says. “We also wanted the comedy to come from the sort of unfortunate nature of the situation. And I think that’s something the actors really took to heart, as well. They’re all taking their states of mind very seriously, but still trying to be funny. And I suppose that might be especially true of Julian, where he’s being funny but never, ever ignoring his character’s state of mind.”

    The camera often lingers on Barratt’s face, which presents a worn map of frustration, confusion, and vulnerability. And by extension, it mirrors the vulnerability of his family, as they struggle to come to terms with infidelity, sexuality, and mental illness. This isn’t a show that might necessarily fit on Netflix—future home to another Channel 4 hit, Black Mirror—or Hulu, and it does seem a bit out of place on Seeso, which has pushed original series from mostly Los Angeles and New York-based comedians. But with its debut in January, Seeso offered several classic off-center British shows like Nathan Barley (which also stars Barratt) and Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place with subscription, bringing more obscure titles to a U.S. audience.

    Sharpe relates that Seeso got involved between shooting the pilot and the series, and its inclusion expands Seeso’s roster beyond improv-based series or single-serving standup specials. It also feels like one of the more fully realized series on the platform, in terms of story and tone. As the show unfolds, we see more of the connections between the family, in the face of chaos and depression, though it does get a little heavy. Six episodes feel like 12, and though the series is expertly cast, conversations often get lost among the dusty bookshelves and cluttered, claustrophobic rooms.

    But if you’re patient, you’ll be able to pull the curtain back on humanity, and let a little light in.

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    Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. So what does he do now? If you take it from Jimmy Fallon, he probably went and rubbed it in President Obama’s face a whole lot.

    Like many American politicians, Obama can’t believe this is happening. (No, really, he can’t.) So, in between some gentle ribbing at Trump’s choice of vocabulary, some Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders swipes (Fallon’s recurring impression is quickly becoming less of a performance and more of a reenactment of what happened on a particularly busy day), and Trump’s dismissal of a 700-foot wall as being too small, Obama tries to give the presumptive nominee some advice for what to do if he makes it to the White House.

    Also, you probably can’t spoil Obama on Game of Thrones. He likely knew about the big twist beforehand with those handy screeners, and hey, he could’ve easily spoiled us during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last week, but he didn’t. That’s some presidential restraint.

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    The Captain America: Civil War premiere drew plenty of big names, but one of the film’s actors didn’t initially recognize the star of one of the only film franchises even bigger than his own.

    While signing autographs for fans, Jeremy Renner spotted a scruffy-looking man with a massive, fantastic beard, and, as he told Jimmy Fallon Wednesday night, he thought that a homeless man had gotten into the premiere. But he soon learned his mistake: that man was Mark Hamill, who grew out his beard for a little thing called Star Wars.

    They traded some words and action figures before taking a photo, but according to Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, a longtime Star Wars fan, got emotional when she met Hamill.

    “Elizabeth was crying,” Renner explained. “She was just weeping. It was tremendous. It was so cool, man.”

    She’s one of us.

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    For more than a year now, James Corden has recruited musicians from all walks of life to get him to work faster through the carpool lane. But when he hit a lane requiring four passengers, he had to pull in even more star power.

    At first, it seemed like your average episode of Carpool Karaoke. Corden and Gwen Stefani sang some of her greatest hits while they drove around Los Angeles. Then they found themselves in a four-person carpool lane, and they couldn’t stay there on their own. So Corden pulled some strings to rope in George Clooney, who then brought in Julia Roberts.

    You know—typical carpool commute.

    Watching Corden sing “Bananas” and “We Are the Champions” is a delight in itself. It’s even better when everyone's getting in on the silliness in four-part harmony.

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    Tyler Oakley will join forces with entertainment powerhouse Ellen DeGeneres in a development deal for her own video platform.

    Ellen Digital Ventures (aka EDV) announced its first ever programming slate in an unofficial NewFronts event in New York. While there’s not much concrete information on Oakley’s particular project, he’s a been a huge fan of DeGeneres for a while, calling his 2015 appearance on his show “a benchmark” of his career in a year-end interview the Daily Dot.

    “Ellen got it because she is doing it too,” said Oakley of DeGeneres’s digital success onstage at Variety’s Tech and Entertainment summit in New York. DeGeneres is the reigning talk show host on YouTube with 15 million subscribers (Jimmy Fallon only has 10 million), and her programming slate will focus on projects that her fans are familiar with from her syndicated talk show. Epic or Fail, a popular show segment, will get its own treatment, where contestants guess the end of a viral video.

    Other programming will include a Damn Daniel series for Snapchat, an animated series on Portia de Rossi’s pets, a dancing show featuring So You Think You Can Dance alum Stephen “tWitch” Boss, and a series about 4-year-old wiz kid Brielle, a frequent guest. The network will also feature user-generated content under the banner #MadeByYou.

    “I’m so excited for the Ellen Digital Network,” said DeGeneres in the press announcement. “I’ll get to showcase amazing talents like Tyler Oakley and tWitch. Plus, I’ll finally prove to the world that my pets can speak in human voices.”

    There are no set dates for any series launches at this time.

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    Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in November with a poem entitled Dear Basketball, and now he's partnered with Sports Illustrated to make it an animated short for its digital properties. 

    The deal was announced Thursday, and will include the premiere of Dear Basketball on in the fall, as well as a series of behind-the-scenes videos for SI Films walking viewers through the animation process.

    Bryant is set to narrate the short, with Glen Keane, the animator behind Disney favorites like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast set to direct.

    As if that weren't enough, five-time Oscar-winning composer John Williams (you may know him from Star Wars, Jaws, the Indiana Jones movies, E.T., Jurassic Park, or the Harry Potter series, to name a few), will write the score.

    With a lineup that powerful, it might make sense to get your tissues ready in advance. 

    H/T Variety

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    Good news, old-school showbiz magazine fans: Time Inc. is expanding two of its most popular entertainment brands into a one-stop streaming video network. It’s called the People and Entertainment Weekly Network, or PEWN, and it will be completely free to viewers and supported by advertising. 

    Viewers can expect a linear, TV-like watching experience (think Access Hollywood or E! News) with the entertainment coverage both magazines are famous for. According to Variety, PEWN will launch with “about 100 hours of original programming, including daily programming around celebrities, pop culture, lifestyle and human-interest stories, rounded out by Time Inc.’s library of VOD assets." 

    PEWN is set to debut in fall 2016.

    Elsewhere in the Time Inc. presentation, Sports Illustrated announced it will be releasing an animated version of Kobe Bryant’s basketball farewell, Dear Basketball.

    H/T Variety

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    Lupita Nyong'o brought her hair to new heights at the 2016 Met Gala this week, but the way Vogue covered her look inspired the actress to give a little lesson on black hair via her Instagram account.

    It all started at Monday night's gala, where the theme was "Manus x Machina" a.k.a. "man and machine" a.k.a. "robot stuff," and Nyong'o walked the carpet looking fantastic: 

    She looked so fantastic, in fact, that Vogue ran a post the next day with the headline "Is Lupita Nyong'o the next Audrey Hepburn?" While, sure, Hepburn made a certain kind of updo very popular in the 20th century, Nyong'o felt there were some more direct inspirations for her look that evening. 

    Namely, black women. 

    In reply the actress posted an Instagram video featuring a few of the women who did actually inspire her hairstyle: 

    What an elegant own. 

    Vogue contributing editor André Leon Talley had spoken to Nyong'o on the red carpet that evening and said her hair reminded him of a throwback Nina Simone, but unfortunately his commentary ended up being an aside in the Hepburn-centric blog post instead of a focal point.   

    H/T Jezebel

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    Dear White People is getting new life on Netflix

    Justin Simien's 2014 film, which explored racial tensions on the campus of a fictional Ivy League school, is being turned into a TV series. The film balanced comedy and drama, satirizing post-racial politics, identity, and privilege with standout performances from Tessa Thompson (Creed) and Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris). It's not yet clear if any of the original cast will return for the 10-episode series, but it will take place at a fictional Ivy League college, and Simien will direct the series and write the first episode. 

    In a statement, the director implied that the series is an extension of conversations he had with college students:

    During the film’s release, I had the pleasure to speak with hundreds of students and faculty across a variety of college campuses dealing with these very issues in real time. I’m so grateful to have this platform—not only to give a voice to those too often unheard in our culture, but to also tell great stories from new points of views.

    In 2012, Simien posted a concept trailer for Dear White People on Vimeo, to attract investors for the movie. He called it a "satire about being a black face in a white place" and invoked the "black art house" of Do the Right Thing and Boyz n the Hood. It later became a Sundance hit. Before that, it was a Twitter account started by Simien to explore the black experience.  

    The series is set to debut in 2017. 

    H/T Entertainment Weekly 

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