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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Kesha's ongoing struggle with producer and alleged abuser Dr. Luke took another turn this week when his label Kemosabe Records rescinded its approval for her to appear on the Billboard Music Awards May 22. 

    The singer was slated to perform, but following rumors that her appearance would “make direct references” to the pair’s “ongoing legal battle," Dick Clark Productions released a statement Tuesday saying that Kesha would no longer be appearing. It also noted that it hoped "the parties can come to an arrangement" so that the performance could still be saved. Given the slow progress of the rest of the case, it would be quite a feat. 

    After the press release went out, Kesha released a statement of her own via Instagram, claiming the label's accusations were unfounded and that she'd been planning a Bob Dylan tribute the whole time: 

    I was very excited to perform a tribute to Bob Dylan by singing a cover of "It ain't me, babe" at the Billboard awards this year. I'm very sad and sorry to say I won't be allowed to do this. I just wanted to make very clear that this performance was about me honoring one of my favorite songwriters of all time and has never had anything at all to do with Dr. Luke. I was never going to use a picture of him, speak of him or allude to my legal situation in any way. I simply wanted to sing a song I love to honor an artist I have always looked up to. thank u all for the continued support.

    The awards air Sunday, so any resolution would have to be reached quickly. 

    H/T Vulture


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    Britney Spears’s new mobile game is exhausting.

    In Britney Spears: American Dream, you have a chance to go from record store droid to buzzed-about singer—with Spears's assistance—but you must constantly find new contacts and go to events and flirt to try to get your name out there and get a single recorded and perform. There’s a lot of standing and schmoozing and promoting, and American Dream did not provide the most sensible selection of shoes for this kind of work. 

    The premise is simple enough: You're a Microbe Music employee tasked with restocking CDs, but then a friend calls to tell you Spears is at the Starbeans next door. Obviously you must leave your job and talk to her. Spears orders a Strawberry Whippaccino (they even spell her name wrong on the order!) and your in-app bestie, Sara, urges you to do an impromptu open mic, because you can. 

    It's the latest venture from Glu Mobile, a developer of freemium mobile games. Glu was responsible for Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, which debuted in the summer of 2014 and ensnared millions who desired to be virtual A-listers. By November 2014, the app had taken in $43 million and allowed users to get gay-married on it. In March, Kardashian claimed on Twitter that she’d earned $80 million from the game, though its popularity has declined significantly and the company saw layoffs last year. 

    Earlier this year, Glu debuted Kendall & Kylie, hoping to further cash in on the family brand. The company is also set to release apps for Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj. 

    “I think that people are always looking for a way to get closer to the celebrities they idolize,” Glu’s CEO Niccolo de Masi tells the Daily Dot.

    He relates that the viral success of Hollywood was a "combination of Glu’s proven game engine" and Kardashian’s "brand power." Seems like a simple formula, but last year, the San Francisco-based Glu put out Katy Perry Pop and it flopped. Some “internal execution challenges” were to blame, as well as “fans expecting a mechanic more integrally tied to Katy Perry’s music.

    “We’ve learned from both our Kim and Katy games and have integrated a master track and several instrumental versions of Britney Spears’s most iconic songs,” de Masi explains.

    The focus on Spears is a little different than Kardashian and Perry. Spears is more of an early aughts commodity, though she has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. She briefly woke up the Internet with “Work Bitch” in 2013 but has seen more success with merchandising and a Las Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood—a location in the mobile game. 

    Her fanbase is also a little different, says de Masi: “She appeals to older millennials who grew up listening to her music early on in her career, as well as Generation Z fans who may just be discovering Britney.”

    The app paints Spears as a starmaker, and aspiration is the foundation of these games: The player must work his or her way up from unknown to superstar, completing a series of quests that often take artists years. There are characters that push you to live the dream, like rival Aston Kole and manager Anne Means. The game allows you to change your name to something more palatable or buzzworthy. She didn’t come out and say it, but I could tell Britney wasn’t thrilled with Krysallis Winterbottom. 

    It’s a candy-colored, handheld exploration of fame that shows the positive and aspirational parts of the process. The sexism, abuse, and harassment aimed at female artists is not part of this experience. This is about mechanics: tapping a button and getting a quick rush in a new version of Choose Your Own Adventure. In this American dream, you're focused on work and your brand and how to survive in the virtual economy. 

    So what exactly is the “American dream” these days? De Masi's definition goes beyond a mobile game:

    “I think these days the American dream is as important as ever in the world—freedom of speech and expression, democracy, capitalism, and hard work being rewarded.” 


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    During an appearance at Rockefeller Center Tuesday, House of Cards star Robin Wright opened up about equal pay and how she convinced Netflix to match her salary to co-star Kevin Spacey's. 

    Wright was in New York to promote her campaign to protect Congo’s natural resources, but her aside about the wage gap ended up stealing the show for a lot of audience members. 

    “It was the perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in House of Cards,” Wright said, according to the Huffington Post.

    “I was like: ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin.’”

    Wright plays First Lady Claire Underwood in the series, wife and sometimes co-conspirator to Kevin Spacey's President Frank Underwood. 

    “I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalized on it," Wright said. "I was like: ‘You’d better pay me or I’m going to go public.’ And they did.”

    According to the Guardian, Wright has appeared in all 52 House of Cards episodes to date, and has directed several of them. Plus, both she and Spacey are listed as executive directors for season 5.

    Yet, for some reason, it took Wright demanding equal pay and threatening to go public with the gap for her salary to match her co-star's. Showbiz!

    H/T The Guardian


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    There’s a new king of the Spotify charts.

    The streaming music service confirmed on Wednesday that Drake has unseated Justin Bieber as its most streamed artist. The shift was initially revealed by Kworb, a site that tracks which artists receive the most streams in a particular week.

    Drake now has more than 3.2 billion lifetime streams, while Bieber has more than 3.1 billion. The next artist on the list, Ed Sheeran, doesn’t even come close, with around than 2.1 billion streams.

    Drake’s recent rise to the top is in part due to the release of his latest album, Views. While it started off as an Apple Music exclusive, it has since been released on other platforms. During its two weeks on Apple Music and iTunes, people streamed Views a record 245.1 million times, and the album sold more than one million copies.

    Drake’s position as the most streamed artist isn’t Spotify’s only victory this week. The streaming service is also netting more than one billion streams per week through its in-house playlists.

    "We build these playlists through a combination of the best music experts around, lots of work hunting for great sounds, and a ‘feedback loop’ of real-time user data that tells us which tracks listeners are loving more, and which tracks they may be loving a little less,” Stefan Bloom, Spotify's chief strategy and content officer, told Billboard. “This lets us add tracks that are starting to explode, and switch out tracks that have been around for a while.”

    H/T Billboard


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    Rage Against the Machine is coming back around again. 

    At least that's what a new countdown website suggests. Last night, the band, which hasn't released a new album since 2000, debuted a new website pointing to June 1 and referencing "prophets of rage." That's the title of a Public Enemy song, and yesterday Chuck D tweeted out a RATM video.  

    The hashtag #takethepowerback is also circulating, which references a RATM song. 

    RATM, which rose to popularity through its politically charged songs in the '90s, hasn't performed since 2011. It's weird to think that the band was largely dormant during the Bush presidency, but perhaps they've been revitalized by the specter of a Trump presidency. After all, they saw it coming way back in 1999, as guitarist Tom Morello reminded us yesterday. 

    People are apparently really excited because the site crashed on Wednesday afternoon. As of press time, it's still down, but there is an alternate route

    There's been speculation that the group might be planning something around the Republican National Convention, but one person who is definitely stoked about this is Paul Ryan

    Update 9:00am CT, May 19: The website signals the formation of a new supergroup that features members of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, Pitchfork reports. Rage singer Zack de la Rocha is reportedly not involved with the new band, called Prophets of Rage.

    H/T Pitchfork 


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    Given its assembly line of new and original TV shows and films, it's easy to forget that you can also watch some of the best classic movies of all time on Netflix.  The current lineup available to stream includes notable titles from directors Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, and Robert Altman. Whether you prefer heist films, World War II dramas, sci-fi, or adaptations of dystopian literature, there's something here for everyone.

    Here are some of our favorite films in Netflix's current selection of classic films. 

    1) To Catch A Thief (1955)

    Hitchcock's compelling tale of high-profile robberies among wealthy Americans in the French Riviera is the director at its best. To Catch a Thief star screen legends Cary Grant and Grace Kelly playing opposite each other—another reason this absorbing heist movie shouldn't be missed. Grant plays a reformed jewel thief who must prove his innocence after a series of cat burglaries occur on the French Riviera. Kelly plays half of a high-rolling mother-daughter duo vacationing in the Riviera. Once the two decide to join forces, it's nearly impossible to tear your eyes off the screen. 

    2) Cleopatra (1963)

    This flashy period piece is riddled with inaccuracies andranks as one of the most expensive movies of all time. Cleopatra cost 20th Century Fox an estimated $40 million to make in 1963, which adjusts to roughly $330 million in 2016—a lofty sum even by today's blockbuster standards. Even though the film was a critical disaster, it's worth seeing for the breathtaking visuals and star-studded cast alone. Elizabeth Taylor shines as the young Egyptian queen Cleopatra, and Richard Burton plays Roman general Marc Anthony. Taylor and Burton's on-screen chemistry isn't staged; the two stars were in an affair during the course of filming. 

    3) A Clockwork Orange (1971)

    Stanley Kubrick's searing adaptation of A Clockwork Orange still manages to disturb and unsettle audiences today. Based on the novel by Anthony Burgess, the film is set in a dystopian England where gang violence is the norm. While punk and rap may be the traditional music genres of choice for rebellious youth now, the film's teenage anti-hero Alex (Malcolm McDowell) prefers Beethoven. The film follows Alex and his band of "droogs" as they terrorize the streets of England at night unobstructed—but not for long. 

    4) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

    Hate it or love it, Stanley Kubrick's nearly silent film ventures into the great unknown; 2001: A Space Odyssey is guaranteed to strike a nerve. For some viewers, the film explored the vast landscape of outerspace with too limited of a palette. Not only is the dialogue light in 2001, but the film's soundtrack is mostly by dead German and Austrian composers. The film revolves around Commander Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and his crew aboard the Jupiter-bound U.S. aircraft Discovery One

    5) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

    Few movies centered around men and male friendships made nearly 50 years ago are as watchable as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Paul Newman and Robert Redford play the two most likable outlaws in history. Both members of the Hole in the Wall gang, Butch Cassidy (Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Redford) blow up trains with dynamite, frequent brothels, and try to outrun the law. The film's historical inaccuracies aside, its whip-smart dialogue and fast-paced action scenes make Butch Cassidy a must-watch classic of the Western genre. 

    6) Sunset Boulevard (1950)

    Sunset Boulevard is both a swan song to the age of silent films and a love story. Silent film star Norma (Gloria Swanson) is wasting away in the era of talkies. She spends her days screening her old movies and being waited on by her former husband Max Von Mayerling (Erich von Stronheim), who was once the greatest silent film director of his time and is now just Norma's butler. When Joe, a failed screenwriter (William Holden) half her age stumbles into Norma's life, she begins to fall in love and offers him a job. The sordid sequence of events that follow turn Sunset Boulevard into a fascinating and bleak tale of lost stardom and the perils of unconditional love.

    7) 3 Women (1977)

    Female friendship takes a bizarre turn in this classic from the '70s courtesy of legendary director Robert Altman. Set in a small California town, 3 Women focuses mostly on just two women. Pinky Rose (Sissy Spacek) is a shy new employee at a health spa who becomes fast friends with the energetic Millie Lammoreaux, played by Shelley Duvall. Pinky is enamored with Millie, and not in a benign way. When the two opposites become roommates, things quickly take a turn for the worse. 

    8) Morituri (1965) 

    This captivating tale of World War II era spies features screen legends Yul Brenner and Marlon Brando. Robert Crain (played by Brando) is a German engineer who gets blackmailed by the Allies into disabling scuttling charges in a cargo ship bound for Germany. At the helm of said ship is Captain Mueller (Brenner), a patriotic German who has other things in mind. 

    9) An Affair to Remember (1957)

    Long before Sleepless in Seattle, another pair of lovers made a pact to meet at the top of a notable tall building. Cary Grant plays Nicki Ferrante, a notorious playboy who meets Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) on a cruise liner en route to New York City. Even though Terry and Nicki are engaged to other people, the two hit it off on board the ship. The two lovers make a pact to meet at the Empire State Building on New Year's Eve. But then, of course, something goes wrong. 

    Here are some other great classic titles that Netflix made available this year. The list below is current as of May 2016:

    • The 300 Spartans (1962)
    • The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
    • Don't Bother to Knock (1952)
    • The French Connection II (1975)
    • Move Over, Darling (1963)
    • Out 1/Chapters (1971)
    • The Exorcist (1973)
    • The Panic in Needle Park (1971)
    • Saturday Night Fever (1977)
    • Scarface (1983)
    • The Seven Year Itch (1955)
    • How to Steal a Million (1966)
    • My Side of the Mountain (1969)
    • Twelve O'Clock High (1949)
    • Barbarella (1968)
    • The Great Gatsby (1974)
    • Pumping Iron (1971)
    • The Big Boss (1971)
    • Call Northside 777 (1977)
    • Cinema Paradiso (1988)
    • The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951)
    • Detroit 9000 (1973)
    • Grease (1978)
    • Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)
    • Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
    • Maine Piyar Kiya (1989)
    • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
    • The Quiet Man (1952)
    • Switchblade Sisters (1975)
    • Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
    • Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
    • The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967)
    • Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)


    Editor's note: This article is regularly updated for relevancy. 


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    James Harrison has played in the NFL for 13 seasons, making five Pro Bowls and running up at least $150,000 worth of fines since 2010. As a 38-year-old who's getting ready for yet another season, he was selected by the NFL for a random performance-enhancing drug test on Tuesday. But after the tester arrived at his home to retrieve Harrison's urine sample, Harrison insisted on video recording the process.

    The tester said no and so did the tester's boss, and after a while, the league said it wouldn't test him if he didn't put away his phone, meaning he would fail the test and get suspended. So, Harrison put away his phone. 

    But not before he posted the interactions to his Instagram page.

    All of this was slightly strange, because three months ago, Harrison had recorded his random urine test.

    As Harrison later wrote on Instagram, "To clarify—I never have a problem being tested. I wasn't videoing the test because I was suspicious of the process. I was only videoing leading up to the actual test to post it on IG for what I think is interesting behind the scenes content for the fans, which I had done when I was tested earlier this year, with no notice of wrongdoing. If the league can invade our space and interrupt our preseason training with shows like Hard Knocks because it's interesting behind the scenes content for the fans, why can't I post this?"

    It's a question that has not yet been answered by the NFL.


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    BY GEOFF WISE

    Multiple reports have surfaced recently stating that top Vine stars are defecting from the microvideo platform in favor of competing services like YouTubeFacebookInstagram, and Snapchat. That's apparently because those viral stars are in search of larger audiences and more substantial opportunities to make money.

    In addition to top creators, brands have also been looking to create sponsored Vines less frequently (the company does not currently have an advertising model in place) during the past six months, Viral Nation CEO Joe Gagliese told Digiday. Gagliese has been pushing his clients to post on Facebook, he says, where analytics are better, the team is constantly innovating new video features, and monetization seems imminent.

    Research by marketing company Markerly determined that roughly half of the 9,725 Vine stars with more than 15,000 followers—including prominent creators like Zach King—have left the platform since the beginning of this year, according to Digiday. Another study by marketing tech company Amobee notes that user engagement on Vine has fallen by 12 percent during the last seven months.

    The average number of loops (or views) on the top 10 Vine accounts are down 29 percent in the past last year, reports The Wall Street Journal. And while Vine counts 200 million monthly viewers and 1.5 billion loops every day, the Journal reports the app has plummeted from being a top 50 app in the iTunes store a year ago to falling somewhere around No. 200 in the rankings currently.

    The Journal also notes that discussions—in which creators were asking to be compensated for their work—between top Viners and the platform’s owner, Twitter, have “largely stalled.”

    Some users are happy with the platform, however. Representatives from social marketing agency Niche, which is owned by Twitter, told the Journal that it has conducted hundreds of brand deals for its 31,000 creators so far this year. 

    “We thrive on creators doing awesome things on Vine, Periscope, and Twitter,” Twitter spokesperson Will Stickney told the Journal. “It’s one of our top priorities this year to give those creators even better tools across all those products, including Vine, which continues to be a place where creative trends start and explode across the web.”


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    A South African rapper recently told the story of his very strange encounter with Kanye West, and the Internet can't get enough of it.

    Watkin Tudor Jones, aka Ninja from the duo Die Antwoord, said his experience at West’s house included an “anal sex video” and banana pudding made by West's wife, Kim Kardashian.

    “I blocked his number afterwards," Ninja said in a video that has gone viral. "That shit was just too weird."

    Apparently, West invited him over for a recording session, and when Ninja arrived, he pulled up to the “biggest house on the block” and saw West pacing in his front yard. He described West as being on edge and says the rapper told him that he relied on prescription pills to keep him from “losing his shit.”

    “He was telling me that he loses his shit sometimes and that he takes pills because he freaks out,” Ninja said.

    The artist said he encouraged West to fuel his “crazy” into the track for inspiration, when suddenly West turned on an anal sex video. The alleged sporadic behavior only got weirder from there.

    “As I was trying to bring up the track again, Kanye’s like, ‘Do you like banana pudding?’” Ninja said.

    The two enjoyed the dessert and Ninja cleaned the dishes.

    Ninja isn’t the only person to comment on West’s strange behavior in the past year. West’s longtime co-writer Rhymefest tweeted in February that the singer needed spiritual and mental counseling.

    @JakeChatty my brother needs help, in the form of counseling. Spiritual & mental. He should step away from the public & yesmen & heal

    — Rhymefest (@RHYMEFEST) February 12, 2016

    @lord_cornwall nah his mind and spirit isn't right

    — Rhymefest (@RHYMEFEST) February 12, 2016

    @OGoGoooh @lord_cornwall I love my brother. I pray for his health not our entertainment

    — Rhymefest (@RHYMEFEST) February 12, 2016

    West has yet to comment on Ninja's detailed recap of their time together.



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    Maria Bamford takes a sip and contemplates the night ahead.

    As we sit in the lobby of her hotel a few hours before a headlining set at the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival in Austin, Texas, the 45-year-old comedian gulps down an iced coffee and explains that before the show, she might prepare her “bits” by climbing on the Stairmaster and rehearsing the set. This isn’t her getting into a Zen state, though. It’s more an act of will.

    “Did you read the book by Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic?” she asks, her short, platinum blonde hair twisted in a series of random curls, pale blue eyes wide. A large purse sits at her feet, filled with books. “It’s so freaking inspiring. She’s so awesome because she’s like, don’t wait to be inspired. Don’t wait until it’s comfortable. I think the saying was, ‘Creation is excruciating and you have to do it.’”

    Bamford has been creating for nearly 30 years now, appearing on Louie, Arrested Development, BoJack Horseman, and the Comedians of Comedy tour. She has a handful of comedy specials and albums to her name; in 2012, she released the Netflix special The Special Special Special, which was performed in her small living room to an audience of her mom and dad.

    Now she has a Netflix show, Lady Dynamite, which tells the story of what happened to Bamford before and after a mental breakdown. It’s one of the most original comedy shows in recent memory. She partnered with Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz and South Park writer/producer Pam Brady to shape the pitch and feel, and in the first episode we get a cheerful, on-brand introduction from Bamford:

    “I’m a 45-year-old woman who’s clearly sun-damaged. My skin is getting softer yet my bones are jutting out. So I’m half-soft, half-sharp. And I have a show! What a great late-in-life opportunity!”

    Lady Dynamite is a layered representation of Bamford’s Hollywood: Fred Melamed (In a World, New Girl) plays her soft-spoken manager/therapist Bruce Ben-Bacharach, who tries everything in his power to get her roles. Ana Gasteyer plays her agent, and her comically oversized glasses and manic obscenity are the perfect compliment to Bruce’s people-pleasing. Bamford blunders her way through discussions of race and is talked into hosting a show called Lock Up a Broad. The show mirrors Arrested Development in the way it breaks fourth walls, but when it happens, Bamford addresses us more like a friend asking for advice.  

    Broad City writer Jen Statsky had just finished writing for Parks and Recreation when she joined the team, and according to Bamford, Brady, and Hurwitz had already laid a lot of the groundwork. Bamford came into the writers’ room and pitched ideas, so they had a sense of her voice, but Statsky relates they’d all listened to so much of her standup that it was second nature.

    There was also the issue of writing jokes about mental health from an honest place. “We definitely talked about that a lot,” Statsky says. “Everybody wanted to handle that in a way that was delicate but realistic and ultimately funny, which is a difficult tightrope to walk.”

    “I wanted it to be a real representation of a mental breakdown while being funny in the way that I find things funny,” Bamford explains. “But at the same time, I wanted to collaborate and share a vision with others and so it's been a dream come true—one part me and then 200 parts other creatives putting in their vision on the story.”


    Bamford’s been crafting her vision for a while. Her 2004 webseries, The Maria Bamford Show, which was picked up in 2007 by Super Deluxe, is a bridge to Lady Dynamite. Across 20 short episodes, she plays her herself, as well as her mom, dad, sister, and various friends and acquaintances. The series was a projection, created years before a 2011 breakdown and “based on a real fear of what could happen if I lost my marbles.”

    In the series, Bamford addresses depression by way of a story about a climber who fell into a crevasse and is now a motivational speaker. In the episode “Dark,” which consists of an upbeat song about fighting anxiety, her chorus shouts out its own quirks, secrets, and fears.

    In another episode, Bamford tries to get back into standup by performing as an opener for the band Bread. She does a hack set about how men and women are different, but also the same, complete with a talk-radio voice and “Am I right?”s. The crowd (played by Bamford) eats it up.  

    “Don’t you guys get it?” she frowns. “That wasn’t me.”

    “I wanted it to be a real representation of a mental breakdown while being funny in the way that I find things funny.”

    It’s a powerful and pure vision of Bamford’s struggle with mental health, which she’s explored onstage for years. As an extension, Lady Dynamite feels right at home on Netflix, where original shows like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Jessica Jones have explored trauma and mental health from a woman’s point of view.

    While Lady Dynamite is a group reconstruction of Bamford’s worst fear, her comedy style is wholly hers. She does impressions, but not of celebrities: They’re exaggerated parts of herself or her family. She does jokes about suicide and depression. She does fart noises. She’s done an impression of her mother for years; Bamford calls it the “slow bleed.”

    “I’ve got her suit, I’ve got her little diamond necklace,” she says. “I’m ready to just be her.”

    At one point in our interview, Bamford gazes across the hotel lobby.

    “Is that my sister? ...Sarah!”

    In her webseries, Bamford plays her older sister, Sarah Seidelmann, as a high-strung, nail-biting presence. In person, she and her husband are perfectly warm and Midwestern-friendly as we exchange quick hellos in the lobby and discuss the very recent death of fellow Minnesotan Prince.

    Bamford’s sister is a life coach and Shamanic healer in Duluth, Minnesota, and has written about being diagnosed with ADHD. Their father is a doctor who has seen depressive episodes in the past, and their mother, a family therapist, had her own struggles with bipolar disorder. Bamford was diagnosed as Bipolar II, and relates that she’s been depressed since she was 10. She also struggled with what would come to be called “unwanted thoughts syndrome,” a form of OCD, which largely caused her to think about harming others and herself. It’s also the title of her 2009 Comedy Central album.

    Seidelmann says that while the two are close—as kids, they bonded over Steve Martin albums and SNL—some caricatures Bamford’s done of her or her family have caused internal friction in the past. She played some friends a recording of one of Bamford’s impressions of her, and when she saw them dying with laughter, she knew it’d hit some truth.

    “I had to kind of go, ‘Wow, is that me?’” she says. “It’s kind of funny; it’s like you’re coming to terms with one aspect of yourself that’s exploded, blown up. So in a way it’s not really you but in a way it is.”

    “I’ll be afraid before a show, and I’ll Google ‘how to deal with stage fright.’”

    In Lady Dynamite, Bamford doesn’t have a sister; she has a hometown best friend, played by MadTV’s Mo Collins. Seidelmann relates that a sister was part of the original script, but that role changed after she saw storylines that painted the sister as an unlikable character, and brought it up to Bamford. They’ve since worked through it—Seidelmann says they’re both on their own “hero’s journey”—but it’s another difficult tightrope to walk: Being forced to examine a part of yourself through a comedy bit. Family is a huge part of Bamford’s comedy. Could she even try to make sense of her history without them?

    “Maria doesn’t mean it in a mean-spirited fashion whatsoever,” Seidelmann says of the impressions. “I think it’s just that, yeah, our ego can’t stand it, which is why we take it personally. … It’s really not about us. It’s Maria working it out, and also I think she’s such a healing force because it helps us all laugh at our fucking whacked families and relationships.”


    Depression is now a storyline in many comedies: You’re the Worst, BoJack Horseman, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Comedians who use Instagram and Twitter to promote gigs or appearances are using it to share stories about mental health and abuse as well. There’s an openness about it in comedy, but Bamford is still trying to break down the stigma. She says the Internet has helped her connect with people and do “problem-solving.”

    “I’ll be afraid before a show, and I’ll Google ‘how to deal with stage fright,’” she says. “Turns out, if you rehearse your material, and you practice thinking it’s going well as you’re performing it, that can really give you confidence. That’s off, I can’t remember if it’s Answers.com.”

    But she points to something bigger: “We don’t have to be as alone with our thoughts anymore.”

    In the first episode of Lady Dynamite, Bamford installs a park bench in front of her house to foster a sense of community. She did that in real life, too, as a way to help her talk to people and not feel so isolated. For the second potential season, she wants to have different people play her every episode so she can employ as many artists and actors as possible, and because “one part of the show I’d have to be taking a nap.”

    She can look back now and see the cycle of down periods in her life, where she was “maybe able to keep it together because of family,” but inevitably felt like she wasn’t going to make it.

    “We don’t have to be as alone with our thoughts anymore.”

    She’s on a mood stabilizer, “which is great because it means I’m no longer suicidal all the time,” but she doesn’t have the energy she used to. There have been some cognitive changes, likely because of medication. Sometimes she gets lost in an answer and the conversation tip-toes off. It’s something she used to be more embarrassed about.

    Onstage at the Paramount Theatre that night, Bamford’s delivery is steady and practiced. She asks fans to forgive her if she does material they’ve already heard: She has a “four-year turnaround on jokes.” Bamford tries out a new bit about being in therapy with her husband, artist Scott Marvel Cassidy, whom she’s been married to for a year. They met on OkCupid in 2013, and were engaged in 2014. Bamford remarks that it hasn’t always been “intuitive to me to be in a loving, committed relationship.”

    Coincidentally, Cassidy started doing standup about a year ago, and Bamford’s says it’s helped keep up her excitement.     

    “He took a heckling class, and this is something I’ve never really thought of, but one of the things was to talk to the audience member, and then really listen to their response,” she says.

    That might be Bamford working on a new bit, or it might be her new reality. Either way, it seems being open and letting people tell her story is one way she’s pushing ahead on the Stairmaster of Life. Lady Dynamite is complex; it doesn’t follow traditional sitcom beats or wrap up neatly at the end. Seams are exposed, and sometimes jokes fall flat and truths sneak up and grab you.

    It’s half-soft and half-sharp, just like Maria Bamford.

    Lady Dynamite debuts Friday, May 20. 


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    Warning: This article contains Game of Thrones spoilers.

    Khal Moro, the Dothraki leader whose khalasar took Daenerys Targaryen to Vaes Dothrak, learned a very important lesson about the khaleesi on Sunday night’s Game of Thrones episode: Don’t fuck with Dany, especially when there’s fire involved.

    But Joseph Naufahu, the actor who played him, learned something nearly as important during the weeks they filmed that sequence: Don’t fall asleep when a pranking Emilia Clarke is nearby.

    Dany’s obliteration of every Dothraki khals inside the Vaes Dothrak temple was a game-changer, for sure. The sequence took the cast and crew weeks to film because of health and safety concerns, and they often had to wait around while the crew reset the scene or if it got too hot for the actors.

    On one particular long night of filming, Naufahu fell asleep with his dessert on the table near him during some downtime. Clarke teamed up with some of the other actors and started to draw on him with caramel fudge while struggling not to laugh. It wasn’t until Clarke tried to feed Naufahu that he realized what they were doing.

    What a way to top off that sweet revenge.

    H/T Vulture


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    I'll be honest with you, I love Michael Cera's music. I do. I'm a Cera fan. For my money, I don't know if it gets any better than when he wears sweaters and plays guitar.

    But here the 27-year-old hangs with cool teen Willow Smith (she's 15) and lends his name to an absurd lullaby that finds Smith so far in left field she's in position to catch a Nolan Arenado dinger off the wall.

    At least it's over in under two minutes.

    "I am kind of seeing a yellow hue, the shape is kind of nebulous. It's warm," Willow posits. "It feels like it's trying to tell me something."

    It's wonderful that a Hollywood child has the time and space to find her quirks, surf the Web, and evolve from the breakneck pop of 2011's "Whip My Hair." She's an artistically minded individual with encouraging parents.

    But sometimes experimental bedroom pop is uselessly dense and kiddie-pool deep.

    H/T Vulture

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    A parody film based on the live tour about an animated series? We’d pay to see more of this.

    Bob’s Burgers has gained a loyal following over its six seasons on the air, sold out live tours across the country, and now it’s been made into a movie. Well, sort of.

    In honor of Bob’s Burgers’s 100th episode, which airs May 22, the Belchers (and some of the characters they regularly encounter) revealed just what got the whole gang back together for its latest live tour, which involves standup, table readings, and a live Q&A. H. Jon Benjamin, John Roberts, Eugene Mirman, Dan Mintz, and creator Loren Bouchard are all here in Kristen Schaal’s directorial debut—some of them more eager than others—with appearances from frequent voice actors like Larry Murphy, David Herman, Brooke Dillman, and Kevin Kline.

    With fake coke, doll removal, a mermaid, and a secret talent from one member of the cast involved in the reunion, Bob’s Burgers Live: The Movie is just as weird as Bob’s Burgers itself. But it wouldn’t feel so right otherwise.


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    Jesse Wellens and Jeana Smith got serious on their vlog channel late Wednesday.

    After 10 years of dating and seven years of making prank videos together for an audience across their channels of 17 million fans, the PranksVsPrank couple announced their breakup on their vlogging channel, BFvsGF.

    "Every couple that I know personally and not personally that daily vlog together, it burdens the relationship," said Wellens in the video. "When it gets to a point where it starts to feel like a job, and you're not doing things because you love the person, you're doing them for a vlog, that puts a huge burden on the relationship. And you start losing focus on, 'What am I doing? Am I doing this because I love her? Or am I doing this for the video?' That's toxic for any relationship."

    Wellens and Smith recently released a show on YouTube Red, Prank Academy, that helped teach fellow celebs how to do the perfect pranks. The future of that, like the future of their own channels, is now up in the air. 

    "Everybody thinks everything’s perfect, that we have a perfect life, and it’s really not at all what people sometimes think," Smith added. "Everybody has problems, everybody has issues."

    For now, the duo will take a break, both personally and professionally. Wellens will move to New York, and they don't know what will happen with their channels going forward.

    "I just ask whatever we decide to move forward, please support that," said Wellens.

    Wellens and Smith are far from the only couple who've made their YouTube name together in collaborative efforts, but are one of the most prominent duos who've broken up while sharing a major joint channel. Relationship expert Sherry Amatenstein said couples should think through all the options before they dive into sharing their lives online.

    "Be careful and really think it through," she told the Daily Dot. "Why are you doing it? The relationship has to be the No. 1 thing. 'What’s more important, the fame we might get together, or us?'" 

    Said Smith: "There's going to be so many people who come to this video who don't care about me and Jesse. ... They want gossip and drama, they want to capitalize on it." 

    The pair finished the video in tears, pledging that they still love each other.

    "If you do care at all about BFvsGF, just give us support," pleaded Smith. "It's all I can ask."


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    In the 2000 film adaptation of American Psycho, rich, handsome maniac Patrick Bateman (played by Christian Bale) walks us through his dead-eyed morning beauty routine. As he peels off his face mask, he reveals: "There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me." 

    Working on this premise, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost (Paranormal Activity 3 and 4reshot the opening scene with Margot Robbie for Vogue, dubbing it Australian Psycho. The Suicide Squad actor gazes at a Hamilton poster as she pees, and relates that even though she was "born with a six pack," she still likes to work on her core. It also subtly underscores the ridiculous number of beauty products available to help women look younger and more appealing. 

    Last week Robbie expressed an interest in roles that focus on women and how they move the story forward, rather than how they drive a male character's story. Coincidentally, this week it was reported that Robbie will star in her own Harley Quinn movie, which will also feature a cast of female DC characters.

    Can't help but wonder what this bit would have been like with Harley Quinn and a placenta mask. 

    H/T AV Club 


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    Earlier this week, pop singer Kesha was yanked from the Billboard Music Awards lineup after her label warned that she planned to reference her ongoing legal battle with Dr. Luke during her performance. 

    Later that day, the singer—who has sued Dr. Luke for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse, and violation of California business practices, but who is still contractually obligated to remain signed to his label—made a statement on Instagram, letting fans know that she had been planning a tribute to Bob Dylan.

    Kesha's performance was readded to the Billboard lineup on Thursday afternoon, but in the interim, another rock star took note of her treatment. During his concert in Los Angeles Wednesday night, Ben Folds invited Kesha onstage so they could perform "It Ain't Me Babe" as she'd originally planned. 

    Here's a fan video of the lovely duet.

    The pair also played versions of Folds' song "Still Fighting It" and Kesha's "Rock This B**ch / Sleazy" for the crowd.

    Kesha later thanked Folds for being "a good friend in this scary business."

    H/T Vulture


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    Good news for fans of depictions of 1920s Birmingham, England:Peaky Blinders is back for a third season.

    All six new episodes will drop on Netflix in the U.S. on May 31, though in the U.K., they've already started airing on BBC2. From the looks of it, tensions are only growing for the Shelby crime family.   

    Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy both return this season, and Paddy Considine joins the cast as Father Hughes. 

    H/T Variety


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    YouTube will push further in its commitment to virtual reality with a new VR app announced on its blog Thursday.

    YouTube has spent the last year increasing 360-degree video technology and 3D video, and now a VR specific app will be a place where viewers can watch all sorts of YouTube content. BuzzFeed, Tastemade, and the NBA are among the brands collaborating with YouTube to create VR experiences for the app. 

    To help jumpstart creation in the space, YouTube will make VR technology available to creators through Jump—cameras and software for VR creation announced last year—and will launch programs around that equipment at its domestic YouTube Spaces, followed soon by international ones.

    Daydream, the VR platform for YouTube, was also announced Thursday on the Google developers blog. It arrives in the fall and promises mobile virtual reality experiences on Android smartphones. Throughout NewFronts, virtual reality was a common emphasis, with several companies launching VR studios and initiatives.

    "We’re just beginning to understand what a truly immersive VR experience can bring to fans of YouTube, but we’re looking forward to making that future a (virtual) reality," wrote Kurt Wilms, senior product manager for YouTube Virtual Reality.


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    First, Greg Monroe phished the organization out of $50 million, and now, there's even worse news for the Milwaukee Bucks and their players.

    According to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, a security breach allowed the financial information of the team's players to be released to an unknown hacker via email. 

    It's going to make many question how, exactly, the financial security of professional teams is handled. 

    And it's going to make fans continue to question the judgment of a team that signed Monroe to a 3-year, $50 million contract in 2015 only to have him become one of the NBA's biggest disappointments. 

    The resurgent franchise sent an email to players Wednesday night, citing the issue of a “serious security incident.” As the team said, an unnamed employee released players’ 2015 IRS W-2 documents to a scam artist impersonating Peter Feigen, the Bucks team president. Also contained in the release: addresses, Social Security numbers, and compensation.

    Per the report, the documents were requested via false email on April 26, but the Bucks did not discover the hack until May 16. The organization has notified the IRS, FBI, the NBA, and the players' union for investigation.

    The interesting piece here is how casually the financial department of the Bucks appears to have been run, given the extreme sensitivity of the released information. (Why would the team president request this information via email?) 

    With the new collective bargaining agreement talks just over a year away, the union will surely use this event as fuel, stoking fires of old speculations of financial irresponsibility among the franchises.

    This full statement was released late Thursday afternoon:

    Taking yet another (unofficial) loss, the Bucks (officially) finished the season out of the playoffs with a 33-49 record. They will pick 10th in this year’s top-heavy NBA Draft—there's no word on who Dikembe Mutombo predicts they'll draft. 


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    With a reboot of Gilmore Girls confirmed for Netflix later this year, Lauren Graham taped an upcoming episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday, and she revealed the series' official name.

    It'll be called Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and it will feature four 90-minute episodes called, appropriately enough, "Winter," "Spring, "Summer," and "Fall." Or if you'd rather Graham just tell you ...

    Graham's episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show will air Monday, but until then, if you haven't had your fill of Gilmore Girls news, there's also a new teaser poster that was released Thursday.

    Or if you'd prefer it in GIF form.

    As Graham told DeGeneres, "I feel so lucky to do it. ... I love this character so much, and I had the same feeling I had when I first opened the script, which was just such a deep connection. To get to do it again, who would have imagined? Netflix had to be invented, and you guys had to want it back."

    H/T Entertainment Weekly


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