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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    When Ray William Johnsonannounced in March that he would be leaving his popular show, =3 ("Equals Three"), many fans doubted that anyone on YouTube could fill his shoes. Turns out, they were right—no one already on the platform could.

    Enter Robby Motz, the new face of =3.

    With 10.6 million subscribers, Johnson made a name for himself on YouTube through his biweekly show that featured the craziest and best viral videos of the week. But when Motz first auditioned against a thousand others for the hosting gig, the 20-year-old admits that he wasn’t an active follower of the show and was unaware of its magnitude on the platform. With no prior YouTube experience, Motz made his big debut last week and was met with overwhelming delight and support from fans, including Miss YouTube herself, Jenna Marbles.

    “We were editing the show today, and it looks better than I blew it up in my head, of course,” laughs Robby about his first-day jitters. “I think yesterday my nerves were at their highest because I wanted to do a really good job on the show.”

    A Burbank, Calif., native, Motz was previous attending college in Pennsylvania when he got the call that he would be the new face of one of YouTube’s most popular shows. In a matter of weeks, Motz was on a plane and sitting down with Johnson to talk viral videos, preparing for the Internet hype, and becoming a host.

    “Ray’s a very, very smart guy,” Motz says of his executive producer. “He knows down to a science how to make the show, and he’s one of the most honest people you’ll ever meet. I would say that’s his biggest policy whenever—he’s not about bullshit at all. He will give it to you straight.”

    With Motz in front of the camera, Johnson can now be found behind the scenes directing, writing, and executive producing along with Kaja Martin. But with each passing video, fans have to wonder, will =3 stay the same?

    “I’m not Ray,” Motz says simply. “He’s done this for five years; I haven’t done it at all. Once it gets going, I’m sure I’ll have a different voice than he does, but it will still be fun and entertaining! The clips are going to be great as usual, [and] the jokes are great! He’s still writing the show and directing it, so it still has essentially the same feel.”

    =3 airs twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays on Johnson’s original channel. But the big question is, will you be tuning in?

    Screengrab via Ray William Johnson/YouTube


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    BY SAM GUTELLE

    AwesomenessTV already runs a multi-channel YouTube network, a DreamWorks-branded YouTube channel, and a TV show on Nickelodeon. Now, it can add a record label to its assets. AwesomenessTV has teamed up with Universal Music, Loud Records founder Steve Rifkind, and music mogul Russell Simmons to form Awesomeness Music, which will distribute records from the network’s musical partners.

    Awesomeness Music currently works with two of the network’s partners: sisterly a cappella group Cimorelli and teenage singer Niykee Heaton. Both of those artists are slated to release albums in the upcoming month, and Awesomeness Music also hopes to add new faces to its roster. The AwesomenessTV network contains no shortage of musical creators; its partners include Austin Mahone, Taryn Southern, and The Vamps.

    Awesomeness Music deepens an existing relationship between AwesomenessTV, Universal, Rifkind, and Simmons. Last year, they all teamed up to launch All Def Music, a YouTube network based off Simmons’ All Def Digital. While that network searched for unheralded musical acts, Awesomeness Music will instead focus on the charismatic personalities of YouTube stars. “The MCN world has made it easier to do street marketing,” said Rifkind, “it’s making stars overnight with the press of a button.”

    For AwesomenessTV, the appeal of its own music label is clear. Awesomeness Music opens up new revenue streams for online video creators and strengthens the network’s relationship with Universal, which has feuded with YouTube networks in the past.

    The new label’s first major output is scheduled to arrive in August, when Heaton will release her debut EP.

    Screengrab via Niykee Heaton/YouTube


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    BY LOGAN DEAN WORRELL

    I've been working terrible jobs for the better half of my life. Which is fine. Of course, that number will continue to go up unless I plan on changing career paths. Which I don't. Chalk it up to wanderlust or maybe just overall laziness. My only constant complaint at all of them is the music. The 55-year-old gender neutral "music czar" at retail headquarters shouldn't be in charge of the radio. They already make you work a bullshit job that you hate, which sucks, then they get to choose the soundtrack to your misery. If you work, or plan on working, any blue collar job, you’d better hope you like Rob Thomas featuring Carlos Santana. Otherwise, you’re fucked.

    Job: Lawn mower

    Age: 15

    Towards the end of the school year, I started thinking about what kind of car I was going to drive when I turned 16. I had a conversation with my father regarding which car I should be expecting to receive and I must say, I was shocked to find out that not only did I have no say in the matter, but the car I was banking on fingering girls in the back of did not exist. Emotionally crushed and encroaching social peril, I took a job with my friend’s father who was a “landscaper.” Her house seemed pretty nice and was in a very respectable part of town and when she told me her dad could hook me up with a job. I was delighted and jumped at the chance. Being an only son, I had a lot of experience mowing yards and assumed “boss” would make me number one lawn mower in no time. It turned out, Meredith’s dad wasn’t so much a “landscaper” but more of an “organizer of lawnmowers.” I spent the first hour of my workday riding around in the back of a truck, picking up random Mexican dudes from local Dallas area day labor hot spots. Home Depots, Lowe’s, etc. When the “boss” had decided we had enough fellas, he’d point and we’d go mow and edge and trim or whatever while he sat his fat ass in the truck. Seeing as I was 15 and spoke no Spanish, it was a pretty lonely job.

    It was summer in Texas. Days were long and hot. After work, I was never invited out for under-the-tree beers or anything fraternal. One of the Mexican guys always had a radio and it was Tejano all day. A couple of times, the younger dudes would bang South Park Mexican who was a Texas sensation in the 90s until he got convicted for fucking children a whole bunch of times and is now incarcerated. And of course Chingo Bling, who started out as a legit rapper and is now more of a Mexican Weird Al, but “Some Pinche Guey” is a banger and “Cerveza” is about as good as it gets.  Nike sued him for putting a “swoosh” on a pair of pointy cowboy boots. On my last day, I realized we were mowing the lawn of the mall my mother worked at, so I just cut out and ditched the dude’s mower and never looked back. Hit up the Chick-fil-A and planned my next move.

    Job: Mall sneaker/skate shop

    Age: 16 to 17

    Sixteen and confused, I landed myself a job in Collin Creek Mall at the sneaker store there, initially for the discount. It was the first of many jobs that taught me how to treat people. I don’t mean treating anyone special for any reason, but more just how to not to talk to people like they are garbage. Retail is fucking horrible. Shout out to all that can do it day in and day out. Momma Dean worked retail 30 years. Unfortunately at Neimans, they had a calm baroque soundtrack to sell designer jewels to. Over at the sneaker store I worked at in 1998/99, not so much. What we did have were VHS music video compilations that had to be set on a loop all day. A new one came every quarter, so basically I had to listen to the same goddamn 90 minutes worth of songs in three-month increments. Here’s a little list of what I’m fucking with every mother fucking hour and a half.

    Sugar Ray – “Every Morning”
    Barenaked Ladies – “One Week”
    Fastball – “The Way”
    Smash Mouth – “Walking on the Sun”
    Everlast – “What It’s Like”
    Savage Garden – “To the Moon and Back”
    Santana Feat. Rob Thomas – “Smooth”
    Vertical Horizon – “Everything You Want”
    Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Scar Tissue” 
    Fatboy Slim – “Praise You”
    Eagle-Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight”
    Len – “Steal My Sunshine”

    Every half hour, I’d have to take a break from fat bar lacing some asshole’s shell-toed Adidas to rewind this insane video that ultimately I was going to have to sit through over and over, again and again. First thing we would do when we would close was turn off the TVs. Just silence. Replacing racks and racks of Simple brand shoes in complete silence. The new signage for every quarter would show up and we would tear open in the boxes in anticipation. Somehow every quarter, would be Rob Thomas’ “Smooth.” The worst part is that when you got off work, you had to sit in your 30-year-old coworker’s IROC Camaro while he made you listen to 311 “Grassroots” and smoke more ditch weed than Cheech and Chong.  The only saving grace was Missy Elliott – “Hot Boyz.” Ever hour and a half, I was stoked. Well, for three months, anyway, until it got replaced by a fucking Len song. 

    Read the full story on Noisey.

    Screengrab via MRNYCRISPY/YouTube


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    Either success has gone to Netflix’s head or the king of the over-the-top content market has gone soft in announcing its new lineup of upcoming shows.

    There's no breakthrough fare in the realm of House of Cards or trend-setting comedic dramas along the lines of Orange Is the New Black. Other than a previously announced late-night talk show from Chelsea Handler (which will likely land somewhere between the chat shows from Pat Sajack and Arsenio Hall), live programming is missing, as are sports, which will be needed to move Netflix from threat to disruptor. 

    As Netflix reaches the 50 million subscriber mark and looks to grow its international presence, the network that wasn't seems to be skewing toward the safe route. The company's record $71 million quarter this spring could be interpreted as undying consumer loyalty, but binging couch potatoes are a disloyal lot. It would be wise for the Netflix brass take a closer look at HBO’s trajectory and its mantra of continually challenging itself and viewers with such classics as Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Deadwood, and countless others. Mix in live boxing, sports talk with Bryant Gumbel, stand up from Seinfeld, Carlin, etc., and you have a force that has been and will be one to reckon with.

    So what does Netflix have in store? Please hold your yawns til the end.

    - BoJack Horseman: a crude-for-crude's sake animated comedy about a horse who is a retired sitcom star, starring the vocal talents of Will Arnett.

    - Mission Blue from actor/director Fisher Stevens (loved him in “The Flamingo Kid”)

    - Marco Polo, an over-the-top drama now filming in Malaysia and Kazakhstan (yes, Borat is an extra)

    - Sense 8 from the folks who brought us The Matrix trilogy. Described only as a "gripping tale of minds linked and souls hunted" and "the ways technology simultaneously unites and divides us.”

    - Grace and Frankie, a new comedy starring a number of folks generally unknown to viewers under 25: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston, and Martin Sheen. 

    - Narcos, the chronicles of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Who else sees Entourage’s Vince and E’s infamous cinebomb Medellin all over this one?

    OK, it’s safe to yawn now. 

    Industry watchers have criticized Hulu and Amazon for having some good shows that are difficult to find. But with this new Netflix lineup, viewers will probably tolerate making a few extra clicks if it means satisfying their multiscreen palates with better content.

    H/T Businessweek | Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube


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    It’s not unusual to come across a tough crowd, but it might be even worse when it’s a room full of your child’s classmates.

    This is the conundrum Angela Kinsey found herself in when her 6-year-old daughter insisted she come to share time at school, something that’s becoming increasingly more common compared to Kinsey and Conan O’Brien’s school days. But instead of watching her daughter share, she insisted that Kinsey be the one sharing, or more specifically by performing a rap version of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

    She may have starred on The Office for nine years and is currently churning laughs on The Hotwives of Orlando, but when it came to busting a rhyme in front of a bunch of 6-year-olds, nothing could’ve saved her from bombing.

    Screenshot via Team Coco/YouTube


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    There’s a certain mental gymnastics that happens when drunk people tell stories. My father is a long-winded storyteller, and if I’ve engaged him in a story, I often have to be there on the periphery, shifting the focus back to the tale in his head, elbowing away the inevitable tangents. This is sort of what Derek Waters does as host of Drunk History

    The show started out as a Funny or Die series co-created with Jeremy Konner in 2007, and it made a name for itself there and on YouTube. In 2013, it debuted on Comedy Central because, Waters says, they “respected it the most.” Other networks told him they wanted to take “drunk” out of the name, or that he didn’t have the energy to be a host. 

    “[I told them], ‘We’re not making Party-Time History With Carson Daly.’” 

    He’s actually the perfect guide for this type of show. Waters is low-key and reserved but quick with a joke. He often fills in supporting roles in skits, steps in with words of encouragement when a besotted storyteller starts doubting their performance, and acts as a gentle guide when they start repeating themselves, as drunks telling stories often do. 

    He’s their caretaker, but he’s also careful not to exploit the comedians. In past episodes, narrators have often had to stop a story to vomit. Waters says he decided to stop showing that part of the experience in season two. 

    “I think it’s close to saying, ‘You’re a good nurse,’” he says. “You’ve got to take care of these people, because they’re not all there.”

    Waters explains the idea for Drunk History came when longtime friend Jake Johnson (New Girl) tried to drunkenly tell him a story about Otis Redding, one that “should have been three minutes long, but took about 45 minutes to tell.” 

    “And he was just so passionate,” Waters adds. “And I wanted to reenact having Otis Redding move his lips to Jake’s words. And Otis looking at the camera like, ‘C’mon, man, I didn’t really say that.’”

    And who better to deliver three-minute stories than comedians, who have to remember a beginning, middle, and end to a joke. “Nothing’s scripted,” Waters says. He meets with all the performers beforehand and goes over the story, but when they film the episode drunk, they’re just attempting to remember it. And, ideally, the “passion overcomes the drunkeness.” 

    “That’s what I always wanted to make sure the show was,” Waters says. “Just frustrated passion.” 

    Drunk History has a research team, which checks facts and scours for lesser-known stories about historical figures, so they can take Abraham Lincoln and “find a story about him that very few people know. Like in [tonight’s] episode,” Waters relates. “The Baltimore one. How he almost got assassinated on his way to D.C. when he was inaugurated. Did you know that?”

    I didn’t.

    “You’re gonna learn,” Waters taunts.

    Historical fact is easily skewed on the Internet, where everyone can be a revisionist. Waters sees Drunk History as a different approach to the truth about history. The storytellers may be drunk and loose with words, but they strive to get the facts right. 

    “It’s a history show,” Waters says. “The comedy’s only that a drunk person’s telling it. All the stories are true.”

    The first season was more well-known stories and faces, featuring reenactments from Lisa Bonet and Alfred Molina. But in the second season, which debuted July 1, we learn about more obscure historical figures like investigative journalist Nellie Bly (Laura Dern), Sugar Hill Records founder Sylvia Robinson (Parks and Recreation’s Retta), and chemist Percy Julian (Key & Peele’s Jordan Peele). 

    The flow of the episodes is often the same: A performer starts off a little tipsy, then becomes a bit more wrong-eyed or effusive throughout the story. A medic is always on set, as is a breathalyzer. Waters won’t reveal his limit for storytellers, but says he usually lets them get pretty hammered. From his many sit-ins, Waters has extracted a certain psychological profile for drunk storytellers. 

    “There’s a fine line of stage one of drinking,” he says. “The happy-go-lucky, and you’re on camera and you’re trying to be funny. It takes about an hour or two to get rid of that. As soon as they start repeating themselves, that’s when it starts getting good. It’s very interesting.”

    In one episode, Jen Kirkman comes close to tears in her passionate retelling of Oney Judge’s slave story. She was also in early Drunk History skits, and Waters credits her with shaping the tone of the show, moving it away from the “frat party mentality”—referencing one demographic that might relate to the show—and toward a bigger fanbase. 

     

    When asked about guests he’d like to have on, Waters confirms he’s a huge Pearl Jam fan, and a dream episode would be getting drunk and telling the story of Pearl Jam, then having the band reenact his story, which he calls “jumping the shark.” Al Pacino, Bill Murray, and Dustin Hoffman are also on his dream list of reenactors. 

    By highlighting these lesser-known stories, via comedians and famous actors, Waters is keeping the concept of storytelling alive, in a time when TL;DR has become a refrain. You could learn something; it just might take a while to get there. 

    Photo via Comedy Central 


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    The Purge: Anarchy, the follow-up to 2013’s sleeper hit The Purge, was released on Friday, and as with so many films attempting a promotional social media surge, a hashtag started circulating over the weekend: #twitterpurge. And it didn’t go well.

    The Purge franchise envisions a future where one night a year, all crime is legal, and that plotline was taken literally on Twitter. The Guardianreported that last Wednesday, a Twitter account appeared with the name “SCV Purge,” referencing the Santa Clarita Valley area, just north of Los Angeles. Nude photos of “what appears to be underage kids” showed up on the account, Sgt. Brian Hudson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau told the L.A. Times.

    Teenagers allegedly DM’d nude photos to the account, then the owner of the account threatened to release names. Other photos appeared on the account without consent. Some considered these “purge” photos to be revenge porn, which is now criminalized in California. Twitter was full of jokes about the account, as well as some very real fear and outrage.

    The SCV Purge account was quickly removed by Twitter, in accordance with its child sexual exploitation policy. But, this being Twitter, copycat accounts appeared in an effort to continue shaming women for their nude photos. Then it spread to Facebook and Instagram, where more nude photos appeared, all to continue the trend.

    The #twitterpurge hashtag, which was apparently started by students in South Florida, according to this YouTube clip, offered people another chance to continue putting anything they want on the Internet. Some people revealed info about conspiracy theories or secret crushes, but mostly it was nude photos, many without consent. It was trending on Twitter yesterday, and remains a popular hasthag today, five days after the release of the movie. Flavorwire’s Tom Hawking asked a Twitter rep for clarification on its policy:

    After less-than-helpfully redirecting me back to the policy itself, a Twitter spokesperson finally told me the following: “We do not proactively monitor content on the platform. Users should report potential violations of our rules through individual Tweets and forms available on our site.”

    The Santa Clarita incident is still being investigated, but one high school student, Jayme Morgenstern, offered the Santa Clarita Valley Signal a troubling reason these photos went viral:

    "I think that it happened because there is nothing to do in Santa Clarita, and some people found the drama entertaining,” Morgenstern said. “I guess it makes them feel better about themselves by doing this to other people.

    Earlier this month, the story of a 16-year-old named Jada started circulating. She was raped at a classmate’s house during a party but only found out about it after photos and videos mocking her assault appeared online, and on Twitter. She fought back against the subsequent cyberbullying and humiliation, but many young girls in similar situations don’t or can’t, and feel taking their lives is the answer. This #twitterpurge, based in the fantasy of a horror movie, has caused real damage, which isn’t something that goes away when the credits roll.

    A #stopthepurge hashtag is circulating in protest, and yes, it was a failure on Twitter’s part that nude photos of teenage girls were “trending.” Twitter's policies are in need of restructuring; this was evident when it attempted to change its block function in December, and the Internet shouted back.

    This incident shows how quickly something can get away from a social network, and exist in a dangerous grey area. Even more troubling are the lengths people will go to when they’re anonymous and feel they’re absolved of wrongdoing under some imagined hashtag law. The sequel’s tagline mirrored people’s actions online: “Some do it for revenge. Some do it for fun.”

    The Purge is purported to be set in some future dystopia, but it feels like the Internet's already there.

    Screengrab via Universal Pictures/YouTube


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    When I started reading David Shapiro, I had no idea who he was. Maybe I still don’t. 

    Back then, the anonymity was by design: He was writing a Tumblr called Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, which used Pitchfork’s make-or-break music criticism to slingshot into lengthy disquisitions on the ways in which art invades or influences what we like to call “real life.” It quickly attracted more than 100,000 followers and landed its author in the New York Times.

    Shapiro closely guarded his identity at this time, hoping to keep a clerical day job where he composed his essays via BlackBerry. With plans to attend law school, he also feared for his digital footprint. This privacy makes You’re Not Much Use to Anyone, a memoiristic novel that traces the rise and fall of his big-hearted blog, that much more confounding, though it manages to subvert more than one expectation. Welcome to Internet microfame, where status and satisfaction never quite align. 

    via Goodreads

    “Ideally, people will think, ‘My copy has some pages missing,’” Shapiro told me when we spoke about his book and career trajectory at the Daily Dot’s New York office on Friday evening. It’s indeed a lean, quick read—over before you know it, at which point you’ll be “feeling sorry for yourself”—yet cheekily dedicated to “people who will read it slowly.” It’s not not about music, notably Belle & Sebastian, who provide the title, but that element was pared back to prevent “ghettoization.” The protagonist, of course, is "David Shapiro."

    Or a version of him, anyway, flanked by holographic projections of Shapiro’s real-life friends, four of whom appear with him on the cover. “I’m terrified that people will think,” Shapiro said, again highlighting the image anxiety that is the novel’s lifeblood, “that because some parts in there are verifiably true, via Google, then every single thing is true.” He acknowledged that his debut comes at an interesting time for autobiographical fiction, in which writers have toyed with transparency to great acclaim. Tao Lin’s Taipei and Emily Gould’s Friendship borrow at least the furniture of their authors’ lives, while Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? and Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume My Struggle hew to diary-like reportage, not even inventing protective names for their ensemble casts.

    You’re Not Much Use to Anyone occupies a space midway along this slippery spectrum, thanks to an unfamiliar sort of unreliable narrator. Where those beguiling voices often emerge virtuosically, Shapiro’s can be blandly colloquial (“Me and Camilla walk uptown”) and open (“I try to adjust my bunched-up underwear without anybody noticing”) in ways that suggest we’re reading the truth and nothing but. We have to weigh this assumption against little red flags along the path: “Shapiro” himself estimates that 40 percent of what he says is a lie, meanwhile cataloging those frequent slight deceptions that feel like social necessities.

    “The most untruthful stuff in the book is what comes out of other people’s mouths, what the other characters say and do,” Shapiro said of his “human props,” who are nonetheless “identifiable.” He hopes that the bad behavior of his literary doppelgänger will overshadow that of his acquaintances, who “didn’t ask” for this exposure—still, I couldn’t help wanting to spot myself refracted on the page. (Shapiro and I had met once or twice, not that there was anything narratively arresting about those encounters.) “The number one question people have is, ‘How much of this is real?’” he said. “And, I mean, I would want to know that stuff.”  

    Fact-or-fiction isn’t just a parlor game: This is a book about the fear of being a pointless person—as an artifact, it’s keenly aware that there’s no sensible reason for it to exist—which directly echoes the fear of being misunderstood. In life and in the novel, Shapiro is informed that he’s an overly literal person, somehow even more so when writing online. But the novel gets to demolish a bizarre fallacy of the Internet Age: that a person can be wholly distinct from their “persona.” One of the finest scenes has Shapiro fretting because a reader blithely speculates that he has Asperger syndrome, eventually calling his cantankerous neurologist father for a diagnosis.

    I admit to falling into some river of dread when the story was over (“Everyone says the ending is unsatisfying,” Shapiro remarked) that flowed from the vast reservoir of insecurity we keep dammed up in order to live. Suddenly I was panicked about interviewing Shapiro at all, about how this review would come across, about how the novel touches on social circumstances too new and broad and accepted for me to coherently summarize. It simply wouldn’t do to describe the narrative as “sex, drugs, indie-pop, and Seinfeld.” As with the well-curated, pointillist anecdotes that make up the action, you kind of had to be there.

    The crux of this ephemerality is a sentence that appears halfway through: “Mike says that he thinks my blog is getting better and he thinks he might even read it if he didn’t know me.” To secure sustained attention from strangers is undoubtedly the metric of personal success these days, and Shapiro knows it, even as he wonders how to capitalize on cult recognition and starts to lose steam at the height of his popularity. The now mostly dormant Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, as You’re Not Much Use to Anyone explicitly telegraphs, was less a blog than a phase of Shapiro’s life; he wasn’t any more or less “himself” in or outside of it.

    After our chat, which dissolved rapidly into talk about the media, criticism, jealousy, and the million other subjects tangentially vital to the book’s plot, such as it is, Shapiro signed my galley with his characteristic warmth: “This was a good interview. I got to say stuff I wanted and learned about you (more than I already knew). Thank you.” This renewed my panic— What if I didn’t quote the right parts? Would I completely distort his meanings? These aren’t problems endemic to the Web, I realized, suddenly reminded of any number of passages, including this one, which identifies a phenomenon few writers would actually bother to: 

    On an afternoon in the middle of May, Emma sounds weird on the phone and I ask her if everything is okay and she says, “Yeah, everything is fine,” in the tone where you know everything is not fine but there’s no reason to press it because the person who’s not fine isn’t going to reveal why in this conversation.    

    Online and off, we speak or withhold; we’re kind or cruel; we console or manipulate. None of that is especially odd. What’s weird is how we walk around believing that the world and the Internet are separate realms, when that’s clearly no longer the case.

    Photo by Katie Mollon/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


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    While he may not have gotten a lot of love from the Internet for successfully Kickstarting his movie Wish I Was Here, Zach Braff still manages to charm his fans in other ways.

    First, he helped a man propose to his wife. Now, he is personally addressing someone known as Mattias, one of his longtime fans. Braff not only thanks Mattias for his patronage, but goes on to tell him, "you're the reason I've done everything I've ever done in my life."

    Mattias, who goes by the handle matterohme on Reddit, posted his personalized greeting from Braff to r/videos on July 21, explaining that "my friend ended up in a car with Zach Braff … you should see my smile."

    Some of Mattias' fellow redditors were just as touched by the Scrubs star's message.

    "Zach Braff is one of the nicest freaking humans on the entire freaking planet," redditor Guinness_or_thirsty said.

    "Good on you Mattias (and Zach). That made me smile," redditor ericb45696 said.

    Others poked fun at the uncomfortable look Braff seemed to have throughout the greeting.

    "I realize he is just being super serious, but it kind of also looks like he's saying this at gunpoint," redditor obilankenobi1138 said.

    Hopefully, the eventual in-person meeting between Braff and Mattias will also be documented for YouTube. Let’s just pray whoever shot this video learns about the hellscape that is vertical video before that happens.

    Photo via David Shankbone/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Theater geeks, hold on to your pointy hats. Renowned YouTube a cappella artist Peter Hollens partnered with equally talented solo musician Nick Pitera to bring a medley of Wicked tunes to life in his newest video.

    Neither artist is a stranger to viral video success. Hollens has gained acclaim with his one-man a cappella covers that range from nerd-friendly fare like The Hobbit to pop songs by bands such as Fun and Imagine Dragons. Pitera rose to fame with his Brady Bunch-style grid video called “One Man Disney Movie,” in which he mashed up various Disney numbers while playing all the requisite roles.

    Now the pair have joined forces for Wicked, primarily with Pitera playing the Glinda to Hollens’ Elphaba as they cycle through showstoppers like “What Is This Feeling,” “For Good,” and “Defying Gravity.”

    Hollens told the Daily Dot that a collaboration with Pitera was a year in the making.

    "Nick and I've been trying to figure out a song to do for over 12 months, and nothing felt right, until I came up with the idea of a Wicked medley," Hollens said. "Nick is so perfect for Broadway material, and he has such a phenomenal counter-tenor range."

    Hollens produced all the audio and Pitera crafted the costumes, which change to accompany the song shifts, from preppy sweaters to a charming military jacket when they both take on the Fiyero role, to pink everywhere as they help us be "Popular."

    In the end, they even go green, although nothing so dramatic as the massive amount of green makeup the Broadway Elphaba tolerates. Still, Hollens and Pitera’s medley more than sufficiently quenches the theater geek thirst if you need your daily fix of Wicked.

    Screengrab via Peter Hollens/YouTube


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    The Fine Bros are more than one-trick ponies, but their influence with the Emmy-winning React series of videos, where kids, teens, and older folks react to a variety of pop culture phenomenon, are the bedrock of their growing empire. To that end, the Bros have launched a new YouTube channel called React to house new React-related content.

    Their original React series will still live on the main Fine Bros channel with new updates, but the new React-specific channel will branch out into new categories ripe for reaction-style content, as outlined by their channel trailer.

    “Games” will branch the React series into the gaming space, with different populations showcasing gameplay and reaction to popular titles. “Advice” will feature the stars of the various React series answering questions from their fans, while “React Remix” will spotlight musical iterations of other React episodes. “Kids vs Food” will have the youngest of the React team trying out adult cuisine, and "Lyric Breakdown" will feature "Teens React" stars deconstructing current pop hits. Each show will live on its own day, filling out a full week of content for the nascent channel.

    React has already amassed 400 thousand followers to the new venture without posting more than a trailer, with more likely to come from the Fine Bros 9 million fans. In a video on their main channel, masterminds Benny and Rafi outlined the new set of series and called the shift a “really, really big moment” that will define the rest of their year. The React series has been a cultural phenomenon, even launching young YouTube stars like Lia Marie Johnson to individual success outside of the React realm. It will even make a jump to television thanks to a deal with Nickelodeon announced this spring. With more YouTube space devoted to the React brand, its influence only grows. May we suggest an extra series: Kids React to Teens React to YouTubers React to the new React channel? 

    Screengrab via React / YouTube.


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    Is the next Mighty Boosh out there waiting?

    The BBC’s annual Feed My Funny Comedy Feeds have dropped, with nine comedy pilots uploaded onto the network's streaming service, iPlayer. Now we just have to see whether the BBC has managed to unearth the new Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Office, or Little Britain—or, more likely, something like Cuckoo.

    Progression from pilot to series is competitive at the best of times, but the news that BBC Three, the commissioning channel for Comedy Feeds, will become an exclusively digital entity in the fall of 2015 will most likely mean less original programming—and therefore steeper competition. 

    But are any of them worth developing anyway? Are any deserving of following People Just Do Nothing, Nick Helm’s Heavy Entertainment, and Impractical Jokers from Comedy Feed into full-fledged series?

    Let’s take a look, from best to worst. (Full pilots are restricted to British IP addresses, but we've embedded short clips from each for reference.)

    1) Flat TV

    Two flatmates whose ordinary lives constantly morph into TV shows. 

    Written by and starring stand-up comedians Naz Osmanoglu and Tom Rosenthal, Flat TV has its roots in a four-part webseries. Its extra time in development shows. It’s comfortable with its intriguing and potentially expansive format, and gone is the strange teething period where actors are trying to work out their characters. Easily the most TV-ready of the batch.

    2) Vodka Diaries

    Four girls share a flat; comedy ensues.

    The premise is as old as a couple of the gags, but the casting is so brilliant that we're willing to let that go. These sort of shows thrive (or die) on cast chemistry, and there is plenty of it here; Aisling Bea is eye-catching as the irresponsible housemate. If this isn’t picked up, I’m sure she’ll show up somewhere soon.

    3) Parents' Evening

    Kayvan Novak plays a host of characters over the course of a school’s parent-teacher evening.

    It was only a matter of time before Novak (of Fonejacker and Facejacker fame) brought back the prosthetics and started messing around with new characters. Unlike his previous shows, there’s no prank element here, but each of his creations is still fully realized and most importantly, funny. The current format is a dud (there is no interaction between any of Novak’s characters), but there are signs here that he should be back on our screens.

    4) Josh

    Josh moves back into his old shared apartment after a breakup.

    Josh is probably the most likely to be commissioned for a full series as it stars comic du jour Josh Widdicombe. It’s probably about time that Widdicombe had his own sitcom—he’s now a mainstay on the U.K. panel-show circuit—but is this it? Sure, it showcases his dry, self-effacing humor (plus includes a part for the peerless Jack Dee) but outside of being a Widdicombe vehicle, it is pretty empty and lightweight.

    5) Other World

    Surreal sketches taking place in a world populated by puppets.

    The overarching premise of Adam Miller and Nico Tatarowicz’s show is so vague there is little to tie the disparate sketches together. There's nothing wrong with that, but with no narrative fallback, the weaker moments only become more noticeable. Unfortunately there are a few misfires here, but surely it would be a waste to never use those excellent puppets again.

    6) In Deep

    Two useless cops try and climb the rungs at work by taking an investigation into their own hands.

    It’s a worrying sign for the two leads when Paul Kaye exudes more charisma in the 30 seconds or so he is on screen than they can muster in the entire episode. Ashley Walters (star of Top Boy and former member of So Solid Crew) and Adam Deacon (Kidulthood) look uncomfortable in what should be a viable setup. With neither having the comedic chops necessary, this was always going to be a struggle.

    7) Fried

    A new manager and staff member arrives at one of London’s ubiquitous fried chicken shops.

    As well as feeding the city’s urban foxes, London’s fried chicken shops are also inspiring the creative arts; most noticeably in the excellent, fly-on the-wall The Fried Chicken Shop. Fried may be the nadir of this movement; it’s obvious, inoffensive, and bland. Nothing at all like a 3am “Junior Spesh.”

    8) Rude Boys

    A group of friends in East London continually make trouble for themselves.

    Not unlikeable—charming even—Rude Boys is let down by basic execution. Timing is off and a couple of the leads are comedically underdeveloped. It all comes across as inexperienced rather than simply bad, but no one should get a free ride on promise alone. Keep working, boys.

    9) Jenny Bede: AAA

    Comedian Jenny Bede plays a range of well-known characters from the pop world.

    Book-ended by an embarrassingly ordinary Miley Cyrus impersonation (she sticks out her tongue and everything), this show is filled with unintentionally painful depictions of Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj. Bede is apparently a “YouTube sensation,” which seems more of a fit for her; far away from the eyes of the kind of people who write into newspapers complaining that their tax money is being wasted on “this nonsense.” I agree with them, but let’s just save everyone the aggravation.

    Screengrab via BBC Three/YouTube


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    Plagued by an overwhelming number of injuries, the venerable New York Yankees recently pulled the trigger on a deal that landed them a third baseman, soon-to-be free agent Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres.

    So what does a player going from baseball’s outhouse to the Yankee penthouse make his first order of business after learning he is dealt? What uniform number to wear, of course.

    Problem is, the Yankees boast baseball's largest catalog of retired numbers, including Babe Ruth’s (3), Lou Gehrig (4), Joe DiMaggio (5) and No. 7—the number worn by Headley as a Padre—which belonged to Mickey Mantle.

    Rather than pick his new Yankees number himself, Headly bravely asked fans of the Bronx Bombers, via Twitter, for their suggestions.

    A number of fans immediately chimed in with earnest suggestions, as if they were just waiting for Headly to ask the question.

    Unfortunately for Headly, nobody warned him that Yankees fans are a breed apart—and calling them #YankeeNation is not a good way to snag some early fan love.

    Of course, some had nothing but jokes.  

    As one fan pointed out (intentionally or not), Headley should get used to this kind of treatment:

    Between now and July 31, there will be plenty of trades between baseball’s haves and have-nots. Let’s see how Twitter rates as a source for uniform guidance.

    Photo via Eric Beato/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    For eight days, “Weird Al” Yankovic took over the Internet. And now, for the first time in his career, he took over the Billboard Top 200.

    His 14th album, Mandatory Fun, sold over 104,700 copies in its first week, sending him to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200, far exceeding Billboard’s expectations that it would sell roughly 70,000 to 75,000 copies. Before this, two of his previous albums, Straight Outta Lynwood and Apocalypse, hit the top 10. But this is the first comedy album to top the charts since Bob Newhart hit No. 1 in 1960.

    Upon hearing the news, Yankovic sent out a flurry of tweets expressing gratitude for his fans.

    Over the past week, the Internet had witnessed an album marketing campaign like none other. With songs parodying Robin Thicke, Iggy Azalea, Lorde, and Crosby, Stills & Nash, Yankovic reached out to eight separate partners to foot the bill for his music videos after RCA refused to pay for them.

    Yankovic wanted everyone to talk about his album for that first week, and with those videos gaining a swath of media attention and 10 million views apiece (and counting), it paid off.

    Yankovic is leaving the record business at the top of his game. He’s been under contract since 1982, his record deal with RCA Records ends this year, and he’s said that Mandatory Fun is his last album.

    But don’t say goodbye to Weird Al just yet. He plans to release more music in the future, though he says he plans to focus more on putting singles out on YouTube.

    “I’m going to try to jump on new hits and new trends as soon as I can (with singles) and try to be a little more competitive with everybody else in the world on YouTube,” he told the Associated Press.

    And now he’ll have an even bigger attentive audience watching.

    H/T BuzzFeed | Photo via CollegeHumor/YouTube


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    Sean Bean isn’t the only actor who’s made a career of dying on-screen.

    While he may not get as much notoriety for it, Gary Oldman’s died nearly as often in films. He’s got 17 on-screen deaths to his name. And when Conan O’Brien found this out, he decided to honor it in the best way he could: with his very own death reel.

    Other death reels spend more time setting up the tragic (and sometimes humorous) deaths, but this one just cuts right to those gruesome final moments, all with a captive audience.

    Oldman’s been granted a gift. Not many actors get to witness their own “In Memoriam” before they die—or even laugh at it.

    H/T Digg | Photo via Team Coco/YouTube


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    Is there anything Jimmy Fallon and Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson can’t do?

    On The Tonight Show last night, the unlikely duo starred in a series of exercise videos as the "Fungo Brothers." Modeled after infomercials, the skit traced the fitness gurus' history from humble beginnings in the 1950s to the present, with the infamous "Shake Weight."

    You can all die happy now that you have seen the Rock, who was promoting his new film Hercules, perform the "Twist" while wearing a bad wig. It was still a better career move than The Tooth Fairy.

    Even if The Rock wanted to hang up acting and wrestling for good, he wouldn't be the first pro wrestler or actor to dive into the exercise video market. Check out this all-too-real workout video from Hulk Hogan.

    And if that isn't enough, sit back and cringe your way through an exercise video hosted by none other than Golden Girls star Estelle Getty.

    Exercise videos: Shed your pounds and your dignity.

    H/T Digg | Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    As successful actors at the top of their field, it's safe to assume that Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler are used to looking down on people. So when someone quite literally looks down on them, they aren't quite sure how to react.

    Celebrity reporter Brad Blanks was attending the New York City premiere of the actors' movie Just Go With It. When they asked why he was on his knees to interview them, he explained that he was "such a big guy" and that he gets in the way.

    "Oh stand up!" Sandler insisted.

    So Blanks obliged.

    Aniston is visibly petrified, while a startled Sandler quickly regains his composure and begins playfully yelling at Banks.

    This should come as no surprise, as Sandler is already well-accustomed to dealing with larger-than-life people.

    Screengrab via bradblanks/YouTube


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    Less than two months after its launch, Amazon is adding hundreds of thousands of songs to Prime Music, its streaming service. Prime Music launched in June with over a million songs, but it was missing many consequential artists and albums.

    Amazon is adding new artists, along with tracks from existing artists to Prime Music. Artists including Neil Young, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Green, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Kendrick Lamar, Linkin Park, Shakira, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Young the Giant, A$AP Rocky, Elvis, Oasis, Kacey Musgraves, David Guetta, Deadmau5, and Skrillex will be added to the Prime Music catalog.

    Amazon is also adding hundreds of new curated playlists, which it calls "Prime Playlists," to the fold.

    The initial lack of songs hasn't hurt Prime Music, according to Steve Boom, Amazon's VP of Digital Music, who said, “the response we’ve had to Prime Music has far exceeded our expectations." Prime Music comes free with your Amazon Prime subscription.

    Photo via Sascha Kohlmann/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    YouTube’s road to a streaming service that competes with the likes of Spotify faced another roadblock this week when Chris LaRosa, YouTube’s product manager in charge of music, left the company for an unidentified start-up.

    This departure isn't the only holdup to a functioning streaming service for the platform. Earlier this summer, YouTube announced plans that it would force indie labels to join their streaming service or be blocked from the platform, inciting anger from many. The controversy died down when YouTube stalled on sign-up deadlines after an inquiry was brought to the European Commission over whether YouTube was abusing its market power. Labels said to be holdouts from the streaming service included XL Recordings and Domino, blocking out such top-tier musicians as Adele and Arctic Monkeys.

    LaRosa is not the first person related to YouTube’s music service to depart the company in the past 12 months. Nikhil Chandhok, a director in charge of music, paid subscriptions and live streaming, left last fall according to this LinkedIn profile. The Wall Street Journal, who first reported the news, cites an unnamed source claiming that both departures were the result of frustration with the delays in getting the service off the ground. The proposed service would be ad-free, and allow users to store music offline for a short period of time. Users of Google’s other streaming service, Google Play Music All Access, would also have access to the YouTube product.

    It is unclear who will lead the project following LaRosa’s departure.

    H/T The Wall Street Journal | Illustration by Jason Reed


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    The concept of winning a date with a teen heartthrob is a staple of teen mags everywhere, but Vine star Cameron Dallas took the idea a step further, offering himself directly to his millions of followers.

    Dallas rose to fame on Vine, where he’s amassed over 4 million followers and ranks in the top 10 of users on the service. His success has gone multiplatform, and he recently signed with the AwesomenessTV network and secured a movie deal with fellow Vine heartthrob Nash Grier (who earlier this month found himself under fire for homophobic comments on his channel). Dallas was in the midst of his weekly #CallWithCam day, where he telephones or FaceTimes fans who tweet his hashtag, when he started musing about his love life, or lack thereof, and how he’d rather just go on dates with his fanbase.

    Dallas then spitballed on Twitter that he’d put more thought into the idea, but ideally he’d pick a handful of fans a month and fly out to spend time with them. He's even said The subsequent hashtag #DateWithCam has predictably blown up, trending globally as fans vie for Dallas’s attention in hopes of being the person he picks for the experiment.

    He's even responded to a few lucky fans already who have concerns over living too far away or being underage, naturally.

    It’s unclear how serious Dallas is about the seemingly off-the-cuff idea, and only time will tell if he actually makes good on his word, but at the very least it’s a pretty ingenious way to spend the money those fans help him rake in, while at the same time developing more content for his Vines and more loyalty among his followers.

    Screengrab via Cameron Dallas/YouTube


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