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- 07/23/14--12:58: _Hollywood still isn...
- 07/23/14--15:02: _Coolio is dropping ...
- 07/23/14--16:10: _'Frankenstein, M.D....
- 07/24/14--05:00: _5 little-known fact...
- 07/24/14--07:03: _The first 'Fifty Sh...
- 07/24/14--09:08: _Watch a local weath...
- 07/24/14--10:25: _Jimmy Kimmel proves...
- 07/24/14--10:36: _Tina Fey and Rachel...
- 07/24/14--11:51: _YouTube star Troye ...
- 07/24/14--12:23: _You can pick up an ...
- 07/24/14--16:07: _Texas gubernatorial...
- 07/25/14--06:00: _How WIGS is creatin...
- 07/25/14--07:35: _This is what 'Weird...
- 07/25/14--08:03: _What's better than ...
- 07/25/14--09:03: _New trailer shows w...
- 07/25/14--09:53: _Why is Nicki Minaj ...
- 07/25/14--10:06: _Chubby Checker sett...
- 07/25/14--10:28: _Kristen Bell tackle...
- 07/25/14--11:28: _The secret behind C...
- 07/25/14--11:32: _Amazon announces pi...
- 07/23/14--12:58: Hollywood still isn't putting LGBT characters in its movies
- A character who is "identifiably" gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
- Who is not "solely or predominantly defined" by their sexual or gender identity—that is, it's not the only thing you know about them
- Whose presence actually has a purpose within the plot of the story.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Number of Inclusive Films: 1 out of 14.
Titles: Broken City, which passed the Vito Russo Test.
Difference from last year: With one film, Fox actually improved its metric from 2012.
Studio: Lionsgate Number of Inclusive Films: 3 out of 21.
Titles: Tyler Perry's Peeples and the Spanish-language Instructions Not Included both have notably positive representations of queer characters; however, the studio lost positive karmic points for its played-for-laughs portrayal of a bisexual matriarch in The Big Wedding, and an infinite number for producing Ender's Game, from the notoriously homophobic Orson Scott Card.
Difference from last year: This is the first year Lionsgate has been included in the survey, though GLAAD noted that in the past the studio has produced a number of landmark films in the annals of positive queer representation in Hollywood, including Gods and Monsters and But I'm a Cheerleader!
Number of Inclusive Films: 2 out of 9 films. Neither of these passed the Vito Russo test.
Titles: Pain & Gain and The Wolf of Wall Street.
Difference from last year: Paramount is failing compared to 2012, when its representation was "Adequate" according to GLAAD. Still, the org hastened to note that Paramount is a perennial champion of mainstream and groundbreaking films featuring queer characters.
Studio: Sony Columbia Pictures
Number of Inclusive Films: 3 out of 15, two of which passed the Vito Russo Test.
Titles: Grown-Ups 2, which had "needlessly offensive" humor, as well as more positive representations in Battle of the Year and Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. This was the only film on the entire list that was also nominated for a GLAAD media award for its portrayal of the fandom favorite romance between minor characters Alec and Magnus Bane.
Difference from last year: This is a marked improvement from 2012.
Number of Inclusive Films: 3 out of 15. Only one of these passed the Vito Russo test.
Titles: Kick-Ass 2, Riddick, and About Time. Although Riddick technically passes the Vito Russo test, it also evinces a wealth of misogyny, and undermines actress Katee Sackhoff's character by implying that her lesbian identity is only a phase until she finds a guy who's manly enough to win her over.
Difference from last year: Despite, or perhaps because, of being the oldest studio on the list, Universal is perennially one of the poorest performers when it comes to representation. Its rating remained adequate from the previous year.
Studio: Walt Disney
Number of Inclusive Films: 2 out of 10, neither of which passed the Vito Russo test.
Titles: Iron Man 3 gets a pass for including a 2-second "impression" of real-life MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, along with the comedy Delivery Man.
Difference from last year: Disney gets an "Adequate" rating over a failing rating from last year.
Studio: Warner Bros.
Number of Inclusive Films: 3 out of 18, only 1 of which passed the Vito Russo test.
Titles: We're the Millers, The Hangover Part III, and Grudge Match.
Difference from last year: Despite being a powerhouse of landmark queer and genderqueer films over the years, the WB dropped from an "adequate" rating to failing this year for films with negative and stereotyped references to GLBTQ characters.
- 07/23/14--15:02: Coolio is dropping a new track … on Pornhub?
- 07/23/14--16:10: 'Frankenstein, M.D.' to star newcomer Anna Lore
- 07/24/14--05:00: 5 little-known facts about Amazon's 'Transparent'
- 07/24/14--10:25: Jimmy Kimmel proves that people will buy anything with an Apple logo
- 07/24/14--10:36: Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch's 2-woman show is vintage comedy gold
- 07/24/14--11:51: YouTube star Troye Sivan leaks first track off debut album
- 07/24/14--12:23: You can pick up an actual Emmy Award on Craigslist
- 07/24/14--16:07: Texas gubernatorial candidate gets yelled at by a movie theater
- 07/25/14--06:00: How WIGS is creating the future of 'adult drama' online
- 07/25/14--09:53: Why is Nicki Minaj flooding Instagram with butts?
- 07/25/14--10:28: Kristen Bell tackles the minimum wage as Mary Poppins
- 07/25/14--11:32: Amazon announces pilot for 'The Man in the High Castle'
Bad news for queer and genderqueer cinema lovers: The film industry still isn't ready to love you back, at least not according to GLAAD's recently released annual survey on GLBTQ representation in Hollywood.
The latest version of the Studio Responsibility Index focused on the seven film studios with the highest theatrical grosses last year. The survey reveals that of the 102 films these studios released in 2013, only 17 of them had queer or genderqueer characters—and most of the portrayals were offensive.
No studio mustered better than a 20 percent inclusivity rating using GLAAD's baseline criteria for queer representation. The "best" studio out of the lot was Sony Columbia, which only turned in two films with positive representation (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Battle of the Year).
The vast majority of this representation was of white gay men, while at the bottom rung were transgender men, who failed to make an appearance in any film from a major studio.
GLAAD also smartly observed that of the two films on the list that portrayed transgender women as characters, they were "better described as 'impressions,'" because none of the women were played by real transgender women but rather by cisgender men in drag, ala Jared Leto's Oscar-winning turn in Dallas Buyer's Club.
In order to quantify its metric, GLAAD introduced the Vito Russo test, patterned after the Bechdel Test and named for the author of the seminal work on Hollywood queer representation, The Celluloid Closet. The Vito Russo test breaks down effective or complex queer representation into three components. The film must have:
Applying the Vito Russo Test to the number of films released gives an even bleaker picture of the state of GLBTQ representation in Hollywood, as the majority of the films which included queer or genderqueer representation only featured characters for a few seconds, and often purely as the brunt of a gay joke, a source of "gay panic," or other offensive humor. Still, there were some bright spots, notably Lionsgate's Peeples, which presented a positive queer relationship to a predominantly African-American viewership, and Sony's The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which introduced a fandom favorite in the queer romance of Magnus/Alec, which will hopefully get more screentime as the series continues.
Here's the studio-by-studio breakdown.
Given that many of these studios have a history of risk-taking with certain queer and genderqueer-centric films, it's not a wayward hope that next year will see more positive representation from the list. GLAAD also noted that numerous subsidiary studios like Focus Features and distributors like the Weinsteins had positive track records as well.
Still, it cautioned that "the images present in contemporary Hollywood film are rarely significant enough to leave much of an impact," and that "[i]n many cases, they may even be doing more harm than good."
At least we know that examining and identifying the problem is a major step toward providing a solution—and, hopefully, getting Hollywood to listen.
Download the full GLAAD report here.
Magnus/Alec fanart from The Mortal Instruments by far-eviler/deviantART
The last time the world was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of Coolio, he was duetting with a bunch of college students on a cover of “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Since then, he’s been a bit like the Loch Ness monster, or the novelist Thomas Pynchon: rarely seen yet often discussed, particularly in discussions among drunk millennials about the 1990s.
Now, Coolio is back and better than ever, releasing brand new material via a rather surprising source (or not surprising at all, depending on how you look at it): the streaming porn site Pornhub, which will host an exclusive premiere of his new tracks.
According to TMZ, the “Gangsta’s Paradise”/Kenan and Kel rapper—who is 50 years old, apparently—partnered up with the tube site giant for the video for his first single, “Take It to the Hub.” In exchange for providing the background dancers for the video, including adult performers Skin Diamond, Missy Martinez, and Jessica Bangkok, Coolio agreed to grant the tube site with exclusive rights to his new record.
You can check out a one-minute preview of the video for “Take It to the Hub,” which features porn stars writhing against a car as Coolio douses them with water from a hose. (There’s also a lady twerking with what looks like Yoshi from Mario Kart, because of course she is). It’s censored, so it’s SFW, though not exactly SFF (safe for feminists).
Coolio’s partnership with Pornhub is obviously a huge boon for the artist, who hasn’t released a new album since 2009’s From the Bottom 2 the Top: He’s been out of the limelight for so long that he’ll probably hugely benefit from a relationship with Pornhub, which reportedly gets about 32.6 million unique visitors a day.
But it’s probably an even bigger win for Pornhub itself. The website, which is notorious for its shrewd self-promotional efforts, has made a point of seeking mainstream cultural exposure since trying (and failing) to get CBS to run a commercial for their website during the Super Bowl last year. Earlier this year, they also launched a campaign to hire an SFW marketing director to bring the Pornhub brand into the mainstream advertising world.
Of course, the SFW marketing campaign was likely little more than a PR grab, and a shrewd one at that, as is the partnership with Coolio. It’s also unlikely that, given the inherently NSFW nature of their product, Pornhub will ever fully cross over into the SFW marketing space. But now that it's partnered up with Coolio, a de facto millennial folk hero, Pornhub might be slowly inching toward that goal.
A new transmedia adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has named its doctor, and we’re pretty sure she’s a feminist. Newcomer Anna Lore will star in the new PBS Digital Studios series as Victoria Frankenstein, an eccentric prodigy looking to prove herself in the male-dominated arenas of science and medicine.
The series, Frankenstein, M.D., is produced by Emmy Award-winner Bernie Su, the mind behind other Pemberley Digital giants like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved. The first season will run 24 episodes released twice a week starting Aug. 19, culminating in a Halloween finale. Frankenstein, M.D. is PBS Digital Studios’ first foray into scripted programming, although the network is home to critically acclaimed series like Webby-Award winning PBS Idea Channel; Blank on Blank, which animates lost interviews from cultural icons; and a reboot of Pancake Mountain, a musical variety show. Frankenstein, M.D.’s mix of scripted drama and educational topics makes it a natural next step for PBS.
“As PBS Digital Studios continues to grow and attract digitally savvy audiences with content that is equally entertaining and educational, we are thrilled to launch Frankenstein, M.D. later this summer,” said Matt Graham, senior director of PBS Digital Studios, in a press release. “The Pemberley Digital team are visionary storytellers, which makes them the perfect partner for our first scripted series. We are committed to experimenting with new formats to engage viewers.”
The series reimagines the title character as Victoria Frankenstein, setting her medical experiences in the context of a modern university. Meeting roadblocks in the aforementioned male-dominated STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, Frankenstein takes matters into her own hands and creates a YouTube science show, and in the pursuit of her boldest research yet, she makes shocking discoveries that could put her own career and the lives of her friends in danger. Lore will be joined by YouTube comedian Steve Zaragoza as Frankenstein’s colleague Iggy DeLacey (based on Igor), Kevin Rock as mentor Dr. Waldman, and Brendan Bradley and Sarah Fletcher as Victoria’s childhood friends Eli and Rory. The series is filmed at the YouTube Space LA, and fans can already start following Frankenstein on her Twitter (@VFrankMD) as part of the overall multiplatform experience.
“Frankenstein, M.D. gives our team at Pemberley Digital the exciting opportunity to take on a brand new genre for our literary-minded audience,” said executive producer Bernie Su. “Our version of Mary Shelley’s all-time classic will re-imagine the legend of Dr. Frankenstein for a whole new generation of viewers.”
Frankenstein, M.D.premieres Aug. 19 on PBS Digital Studios’ channel.
BY RAE VOTTA AND NICO LANG
At this year’s OutFest, the cast and crew of Amazon’s Transparent presented a retooled version of the show’s pilot, set to debut with the rest of the series in September. Created by Jill Soloway (Afternoon Delight, Six Feet Under), the show focuses on a late-transitioning transgender woman (Jeffrey Tambor) struggling to come out to her “selfish” kids, played by Jay Duplass (The Puffy Chair), Amy Landecker (Enough Said), and Gaby Hoffmann (HBO’s Girls), who also won the film festival’s Best Actress award for her magnetic work in the indie horror film Lyle.
After screening the pilot, Soloway was joined by the aforementioned actors—plus castmates Melora Hardin (The Office) and Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia, Sleater-Kinney) and Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst, who acted as trans consultants on the show—for a Q&A. Here’s what we learned from behind the scenes of Transparent.
1) The team takes criticism of the show’s trans representation seriously.
During the panel, creator/writer/director Soloway fielded a question from the audience noting “disappointment” from the trans community at the idea of yet another cisgender male playing a transgender woman (à la Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club). It was a tense moment and clearly an emotional issue for Soloway, who noted that, for the show, the story of Moira (played by Jeffrey Tambor) is just the tip of the iceberg in telling a wider story about the community. Like Jenji Kohan's Orange Is the New Black, Moira is just a trojan horse.
Tambor (for whom Soloway said she wrote the part) aside, the show boasts 12 speaking roles for transgender actors, meaning that an overwhelming majority of the show’s transgender characters will be played by actual trans people. In addition, Soloway mentioned that the show has set up a program to get transgender hires at every level on set, from the writers' room to tech, in order to get trans workers employed. There are so many trans crew members that Soloway joked that they occupy “the cool kids table” on set.
2)It’s paying attention to the “forgotten B” of LGBTQ.
Soloway was quick to point out that the show features a lot of bisexuality. "Forget the forgotten T. Where's the forgotten B?" she challenged, stressing that characters in the show explore many aspects of their sexualities. In the pilot, Moira’s daughter (Sarah, played by Amy Landecker) begins an affair with an old college girlfriend (Melora Hardin, Jan of The Office), despite being married with kids. From the get-go, Transparent sets up the narrative to be not just Moira’s story but also the story of a family and a community.
3) Jeffrey Tambor went method for the role.
In bringing Moira to life, Jill Soloway stressed the amount of research and care given to her story—which, for Soloway, included meetings with trans author Jenny Boylan (a consultant on the show) and reading Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl, a seminal text on trans representation.
But no amount dedication was more important than Jeffrey Tambor’s, a comedic actor previously known for his work on Arrested Development and The Larry Sanders Show. Soloway thought he was crucial to the show’s audience appeal (comparing him to “America’s dad”), and during filming, he proved his own commitment by wearing a woman’s ring everywhere he goes, as a reminder of Moira.
Tambor noted that once at a bank, the cashier was checking him out and noticed the ring while counting money. The cashier paused for just a second and went back to what he was doing. It was a small moment, but for Tambor and his character, those moments mean everything.
4)They’re excited to be as unlikable as possible.
In fact, they think the term “unlikable” is actually a good thing; to the cast, unlikable means “something that makes a cisgender, white, straight man uncomfortable,” as Soloway memorably quipped. Star Gaby Hoffmann pointed out that tons of “asshole” white male characters get no flack for being unlikeable, citing Mad Men’s Don Draper and Breaking Bad’s Walter White—they’re just called antiheros. “I fucking hate those people,” Hoffman blurted out, before concluding, “So we're a little whiny. We have pussies and are a little whiny. America, can you handle it?"
5)Amazon offered an escape clause.
In traditional setups, if a show is made into a pilot and not picked up for a series, all hopes for it die there. The network owns the show and won’t let it continue. However, Soloway revealed that Amazon Studios offered an unexpected deal—if it didn’t develop the series, she could take it back. She listed that as one of the defining reasons she’s happy bringing her show to air with Amazon.
Although the cast noted negative experiences with network television—like not being chesty enough to play Adam Carolla’s ex-wife on an NBC sitcom—Amazon has given Soloway and her cast an incredible amount of freedom in telling this story the best way they know how. Perhaps this is why parts of the pilot feel like almost nothing else on television, unfolding more with the precision of an independent film (à la Nicole Holofcener) than anything you’d see on NBC’s lineup. This is because for Amazon and Transparent, it’s more than television. It’s life, told 30 minutes at a time.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY SA 3.0)
After months of waiting—and a backlash from fans who were left unsatisfied by the casting of Charlie Hunnam (who soon left the project)— fans finally have their first look at the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey.
While Beyoncépreviewed it on Instagram earlier this week, the first full trailer debuted on Today, a fitting place to target its core audience, who pushed the E.L. James novel to the top of the bestseller charts and will likely see the movie.
Starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, the trailer is rather tame (mostly SFW) compared to the content within the book, although it does tease plenty of sex scenes between the two characters and Christian Grey’s Red Room of Pain. It’s paired off with a haunting new rendition of Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love,” which manages to intensify things even more than the visuals already have.
Fifty Shades of Grey arrives in theaters on Feb. 13, 2015, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Photo via Fifty Shades of Grey/YouTube
Up at the St. Louis finals of American Ninja Warrior is Joe Moravsky, who, at first glance, isn’t your average ANW contestant. He wasn’t a gymnast, parkour expert, or professional athlete: He was a local weatherman. The hosts even originally thought that Moravsky was there to report on the show, not compete in it.
Already getting through the preliminaries with the fastest time, he had a lot riding on his shoulders. And true to form, he blew right through it even after getting himself into a sticky situation that nobody could have forecast.
But he weathers through, making the finals at Mt. Midoriyama much more interesting.
If Jimmy Kimmel has taught us anything, it is that he can't be trusted, and people will say anything if you put a microphone and a camera in their face. Kimmel once again proved the latter point when he went out onto Hollywood Boulevard and asked people what they thought about Apple's new "iTime Smart Watch" a device that doesn't exist (and never will under that name).
Kimmel showed people a device he claimed was from Apple, but was actually a Casio watch with an Apple sticker on the back. Yes, an Apple logo is all it takes for people to be willing spend large sums of money on what in actuality is a $20 watch.
Here's some free advice: If you're ever on Hollywood Boulevard and someone comes up to you with a microphone and camera crew, keep in mind there's a high probability the Internet will laugh at you in the coming days.
Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube
Before they became bastions of modern comedy, Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey were known as Edwina Garth Burnham and the star of a fake play called Cunt Poems. The actual production, titled Dratch & Fey, found the women sharing the stage as they each simultaneously performed a one-woman show.
Dratch's piece catalogued the life and times of a historical Ms. Burnham, "pioneer for women's right to vote, mother, wife, aviatrix." While Fey's character was simply the star of Cunt Poems, the lowest budget version of the Vagina Monologues you can imagine. From there, things spiral into pure comedy gold as the production moves through sketches and scenes with a clip that no doubt earned them their roles on Saturday Night Live.
Sing praises to the comedy gods that someone uploaded a VHS recording of the show, which was performed at both Chicago's Second City and New York's Upright Citizens Brigade Theater from 1999 to 2000. The whole thing runs a whopping 47 minutes, with some analogue bugs popping up here and there. It's a small price to pay for almost an hour of vintage hilariousness.
After announcing his forthcoming album at VidCon last month, YouTuber Troye Sivan gave a taste of his first track, "Happy Little Pills" to his adoring fanbase. Now he's revealed the full single in a quest to be the next digital star to emerge on the music scene.
Sivan took to Tumblr to leak a SoundCloud link of his debut track, a mix of haunting beats and electronic flourishes. The song definitely goes for a more mature and darker tone than some would expect from the 19-year-old YouTube star. In a style that evokes Lana Del Rey with more dance and pop production, Sivan sings about “cocaine dollar bills” and “sipping life from bottles.” In his post he explains that he wrote the lyrics “during a bit of a rough time for someone super close to me, and for myself.” So far, the response from fans and fellow YouTubers alike has been overwhelmingly positive, and has already inspired covers after less than a day on the Internet.
@troyesivan Your new song is EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!! Have it on repeat & dancing in my bra and panties on my bed in slow motion BRB— Gigi (@TheGigiGorgeous) July 24, 2014
i am seriously so happy to be able to take part in this amazing breakthrough for @troyesivan and all of us supporting his journey ☺️— BIG DADDY (@troyesnuggett) July 24, 2014
I JUST LOVE HOW TROYE SIVAN LITERALLY LEAKED HIS OWN SONG— Kathryn ♡ (@sivansbae) July 24, 2014
Sivan himself was overwhelmed by the love and took to Twitter to thank his spporters.
the world is a rad place sometimes. wish i could show 13 year old scared, closeted troye who just wanted to perform all of your tweets— Troye Sivan (@troyesivan) July 23, 2014
'Happy Little Pills" goes on sale Friday, July 25, and will feature on his debut album, Trxye, out Aug. 15.
Screengrab via Troye Sivan/YouTube
Advertising agency Arnold Worldwide is moving out of their Boston headquarters and has some junk lying around. You know—office supplies, old furniture, iconic award statuettes, etc.
No, really, this is your chance to score an Emmy the same way TV’s best and brightest do: by shelling out cold, hard, dirty cash. (Just kidding, all you need is a persuasive argument.)
Exactly what achievement does this trophy commemorate? Probably not Bryan Cranston’s chilling turn as Walter White on Breaking Bad. Most notably, Arnold took two Public & Community Service Emmys in 2006 for their “truth” anti-smoking campaign. They’ve also been known to win a regional Emmy here and there—not terribly glamorous, but still a thing!
So go ahead, stake your claim, and clear some room on the mantel for a conversation piece. Just don’t be surprised if those conversations end in confusion and disappointment.
Texas politics are always a bit dramatic, but the gubernatorial race in Texas has already found its way to the big screen, courtesy of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.
Republican candidate Greg Abbott recently put out an ad with him in a movie theater appealing to Texas voters. The guys over at Alamo Drafthouse were not amused.
Those of you not fortunate enough to live near an Alamo Drafthouse may be unaware of its strict movie-viewing rules, which include a zero-tolerance policy for talking or texting during a movie. The theater chain is so strict with said rules that it’s more than willing to kick you out without a refund. In 2011, a texting woman apparently learned this lesson the hard way, and her irate voicemail went viral.
The ad is a light jab at Abbott, but it's really just a funny way to promote the Drafthouse's new #DontTalk campaign.
It's not the first time the cinema chain has taken a stance against a big name, either: After a texting debacle during last fall's New York Film Festival screening of 12 Years a Slave, Alamo CEO Tim League tweeted that the Material Girl would be unwelcome at his theaters.
Screengrab via Alamo Drafthouse/YouTube
In 2012, Rodrigo Garcia of Six Feet Under and Sopranos directorial fame joined friend and colleague Jon Avnet (Fried Green Tomatoes, Up Close and Personal) to form WIGS, a production company/network with the goal of creating, writing, and producing a series of original dramas under the auspices of YouTube’s original content initiative. The intent was to create Web-delivered dramatic shows aimed at women and pointing to the challenges they face in the workplace, in relationships, and with family.
WIGS's various programming efforts consist of a number of series with short episodes (eight to 11 minutes in length) as well as featurettes with such stars as Catherine O’Hara, Maura Tierney, Rosanna Arquette, and Jennifer Garner. While the current focus is on drama, Garcia views his company’s opportunity as having no creative limits, with pitches coming to him at an accelerated pace. Content, however, is only one part of the path to success for WIGS and others wanting to find a place in the made-for-Web programming universe. Resolving business issues such as financing, distribution, and discoverability is equally important to achieving sustainability in this new medium.
WIGS came out of the gate on May 4, 2012 with Jan, the story of an awkward young photo assistant starring Virginia Madsen and Stephen Moyer. Jan has been a modest success, with YouTube views in the low hundreds of thousands, but it was enough to prove there was a ready-made Internet audience for short, thoughtful dramatic programming. WIGS has more than 340 individual shows with a plan in place to keep the creative juices flowing. Garcia and Avnet recently struck a deal with screenplay database the Black List to find scripts that will allow WIGS to maintain its momentum.
“Why can’t the content [created for the Web] have a quality that can be good enough to be part of a library?” offers Garcia, pointing to television’s general lack of dramatic content that appeals to female audiences.
WIGS has been fortunate to have a strong distribution partner in YouTube, where WIGS has its own dedicated channel with more than 280,000 subscribers. In 2013, Garcia and Avnet stuck a programming and distribution deal with Fox, which sold the rights for Blue, WIGS’s most popular show, to Hulu. Blue, with more than 43 million views across multiple platforms, stars Julia Stiles as Francine (a.k.a. Blue), a full-time single mom and part-time hooker, who consistently turns in a performance worthy of whatever statue they give out for this nascent category of multi-screen, Internet-delivered scripted drama. As part of the deal with Fox, Hulu also gained the rights to other WIGS shows, including Lauren (Jennifer Beals), Christine (America Ferrara), and Jan (Virginia Madsen).
As a way to create differentiation, Garcia and Avnet’s plan was to pair top-notch scripts with premier actors and former colleagues who would then socialize their WIGS work with peers. Julia Stiles, for example, is a friend of former Ugly Betty star America Ferrara and brought her into the fold. Mykelti Williamson, who worked with Avnet on several shows, including Justified, brought his actor friends from past shows to his first-time directorial project, Jennifer, which focuses on a novel way of dealing with prisoners on death row.
Creating differentiation can often come at a cost. So WIGS’s success stems in part from its ability to draw top talent without breaking the bank. An average 10-minute WIGS episode comes in at $50,000—a fraction of typical studio costs for productions of similar stature. Attracting top-tier writers, directors, and actors can be tricky when Hollywood’s unions have been known to take to the picket line to protect their members. The 2008 Writers Guild Strike was instrumental in defining terms for “new media,” and it set up standards that encourage collaboration between producers and writers. At the outset, to spur the flow of content, the terms are fairly broad:
For original programs produced for new media, the minimum compensation is negotiable between the writer and the Company. The full amount of the negotiated compensation is subject to Pension Plan and Health Fund contributions.
To protect its members, however, the WGA spells out terms for residuals for original new media works that generate significant revenue:
For paid/subscription content, the first 26 weeks are free of residuals, but after that a writer will receive 1.2% of the gross if the production costs are greater than $25 per minute. For content that is free to the public, residuals are negotiated between producer and writer.
By allowing producers the flexibility to work within constrained bankrolls, would-be webseries moguls can not only assemble a roster of talented actors and writers but also use Kickstarter and other startup fundraisers. Kickstarter has provided the conduit for launching such made-for-Web shows as Future of Money ($35,000), Spinward Traveller ($49,500), and ReSet ($31,115).
“We believe that the future for content-creators such as ourselves lies in being able to source project money from an audience and deliver on those projects in a timely and cost-effective manner,” says Freddie Wong, one of the creative forces behind Video Game High School. Wong understands firsthand the realities of webseries production—like how an oversubscribed Kickstarter campaign provides only a fraction of what is eventually needed to complete filming and post-production.
Finding the right script, the right talent, and even the right distribution partners does not guarantee success. With new content being uploaded every second, being discovered and watched by a large, loyal audience is yet another challenge. Garcia acknowledges it has been a work in progress for WIGS, but the network is cranking up its social media efforts to spread the word. Competition for eyeballs is at a fever pitch with incumbent TV networks, cable networks, premium channels (HBO, Showtime), over-the-top streamers (Netflix, Hulu) and indie producers who rely on social networking and search engine optimization all going after digitally inclined, attention-starved, multi-platform-viewing millennials. Traditional online guides from TV Guide, Yahoo, and others are not equipped to handle the exponential growth of new webseries.
During over-the-top content’s current Wild West stage, there is no single roadmap to success. And as with many new trends in the entertainment world, there is the chicken and egg conundrum: Which will come first, quality content or audience numbers? As Garcia points out, “This is a new heyday for television. Audiences will grow and budgets will grow. The Web will be the place for adult drama.”
Illustration by Jason Reed
“Weird Al” Yankovic isn’t just a master at the parody song. He’s a master at the parody music video.
For eight days, he released a vast collection of music videos for his new album with a variety of visual techniques like a lyric video and stop-motion animation, but sometimes he’s at his best when he replicates the original music video to the very last shot.
The Verge gathered some of of Yankovic’s best videos and put them side-by-side, and his precision is uncanny. It’s not just dressing up in the same outfits. He also does many of the same moves, and in some cases, it’s filmed at the same location.
And it’s not tacky at all.
In a clip of his new Science Channel show, Through the Wormhole, Freeman trade in his rich timbers in exchange for the helium soaked chipmunk squeaks. But how can Americans expect to be satiated with only a 30 second clip of him talking about science in a high-pitched voice?!
Last night, Freeman joined Jimmy Fallon to promote his new Cosmos rival program and correct Fallon on a few title errors (It's Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman). Yet, no press on The Tonight Show comes free. If you want your plug, you have to pay Fallon in wild antics or silly games. He named his price early, asking Freeman to conduct an interview on helium.
Morgan begrudgingly obliged, and we can't say we're not delighted with the results and his new nickname, Captain Morgan.
This sounds like an amazing idea, but it was never completed, and Superman Lives has now become a Hollywood urban legend. From the ashes of the film comes Jon Schnepp’s The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?, a documentary film about the making and dissolution of the movie, featuring interviews with Smith and Burton, and footage of Cage in the proposed alien Superman suit. Schnepp just released a teaser trailer for the Kickstarter-funded film, and is accepting donations to fund the post-production on his FanBacked page.
After “chaos” reigned and the film was scrapped, it would take 10 years for Superman Returns—starring Brandon Routh and Kevin Spacey, who was rumored to have been considered for Superman Lives—to be released. Since the late ‘90s, Cage has become something of an action-movie star, but he toldThe Metro last year he didn’t think the world—or Warner Brothers—was ready for him as Superman.
Screengrab via schneppzone/YouTube
This story contains images that may be NSFW.
Nicki Minaj spent most of yesterday posting pictures of butts on Instagram. Not just her butt—lots of butts. But[t] why?
Her new single, “Anaconda,” comes out on Monday. To promote the track, Minaj released artwork for the track yesterday that is—you guessed it—mostly Minaj’s butt.
Subsequently, Minaj posted fan remixes of the image, including one that incorporates her buttcheeks into the Google logo. But then she posted several images of scantily clad white models in swimwear, their butts turned toward the camera in poses similar to her own. Most of these photos appear to be grabbed from issues of Sports Illustrated’s notorious swimsuit edition, and to each Minaj appended the caption “Acceptable.”
She then reposted the art for her single with the caption, “UNACCEPTABLE,” as if to comment on the contradictory standards and expectations applied to women of different races.
Indeed, Minaj had tweeted just a day before that “racism is alive & well,” before going on to make a veiled comment seemingly about white privilege.
some people have to put in work. others get to cut corners. we see it but don't say it. welcome to the real world.— PillsNPotions (@NICKIMINAJ) July 23, 2014
Fans speculated that Minaj was making reference to Iggy Azalea’s rapid rise to stardom, as compared to Minaj’s own years-long journey.
Coverage of the Butt Incident has so far mostly been limited to obscure blogs. According to them, Minaj is reacting to critics who have called the album art “trashy and unacceptable.”
The repetition of that phrase (“Critics have called it trashy and unacceptable”) seems to indicate, however, that there’s something a little bit weird going on here. What critics? None of these blogs links to anyone else. Though they’re talking about and around a controversy, no one seems to be able to point to the controversy itself. While it certainly seems likely that someone, somewhere—perhaps in the comments?—called Minaj’s cover art “trashy and unacceptable,” it seems a little strange that Minaj would take such a small fry’s words to heart. She’d have to wade through a lot of words to find it: There are currently 27,000 comments on her original Instagram post.
Spin's take this morning was that it was in response to mainstream media's focus on the NSFW or objectionable qualities of the art rather than the single's release; the Guardian suggested it was "too racy for its own good." Again, though, Minaj does not make reference to such criticism herself.
Minaj’s press contact did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Minaj’s posts are still remarkable for the fact that such a prominent figure has been able to bring such an important idea to so many people so succinctly—not just the people who live this issue every day but fans of Minaj’s who perhaps had never considered these kinds of things before.
Even if that is the case, though, she’s still got something to sell.
Photo via Nicki Minaj/Instagram
Quick: What would you call a webOS app that measured how big your erect penis was? If you answered “the Chubby Checker,” you’re correct. (You’re also kind of a pervert, tbh). But there’s one person who isn’t happy about that: Checker himself, who just settled a lawsuit with Hewlett-Packard and Palm, claiming that the penis-measuring app "adversely affects Chubby Checker's brand and value."
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Chubby Checker (nee Ernest Evans) sued HP last year for trademark infringement when the app, which allowed users to estimate their penis size by entering their shoe size, first came out.
In response, Hewlett Packard claimed the Chubby Checker was designed and named by a third party, and the company didn’t bear any liability for merely hosting it on their app store. They also claimed they removed the app from their store as soon as Checker complained, months before the lawsuit was filed.
Apparently, however, this story has ended just as well as any penis-measuring app trademark dispute could have: The two parties have settled out of court, with Hewlett Packard agreeing not to use any of Checker’s established trademarks. (The terms of the settlement have not been revealed, as is often the case with these types of high-profile legal disputes).
So now that Checker and HP have reached something of a detente, what can we learn from this dispute? Well, A) That Checker, the artist behind the 1960 hit “The Twist,” is actually still alive—he is, and looking better at 72 than I do at 25, I’d say—and B) That HP could’ve saved themselves a great deal of money and legal headaches if they’d just named the app the “Willie Nelson” and called it a day.
A spoonful of sugar helps the social commentary go down.
Disney's beloved English nanny Mary Poppins can sing, dance, and even make magic. So why won't the wealthy Banks family pay her any more than minimum wage?
This is the topic explored in FunnyOrDie's latest video, "Mary Poppins Quits." Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell assumes the role of Poppins, breaking the news to young Jane and Michael Banks that she is leaving for good this time. She proceeds to explain—in a hilarious parody of "A Spoonful of Sugar"—that the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour places her standard of living (and that of the cartoon penguins) well below the poverty line.
While such a wage may have been beyond generous in 1964, the year Mary Poppins was released, these days it just doesn't cut it. We suspect her chimney sweep pals would concur.
Screengrab via FunnyOrDie.com
Since Conan took his leave from NBC, he's enjoy success and free reign on TBS. Many predicted a ratings demise when the redhead moved his dog and pony show to the "Very Funny" network, but it's been just the opposite.
What's kept Conan on the cutting edge of comedy for so long? His embrace of technology of course. Last week he was was Tindering with the best of them, as he and Dave Franco embarked on a swiping journey.
This week? He's proving that once again, he has a jump on tech giants like Apple. When the brand announced that their iPhone 6s would be made in factories by robots, he bested them by giving viewers a behind the scenes look at his production.
Beside Futurama's Bender, you might be hard pressed to find more crude robotic coworkers.
Photo by charlie llewellin/Flickr (CC By SA 2.0)
The series is based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel of the same name, which tells the revisionist history of World War II: The United States lost the war, Japan and Germany now occupy the coasts, and fascism is the law of the land. It’s written by X-Files alum Frank Spotnitz and produced by Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free production company.
Ridley Scott has been trying to get The Man in the High Castle to the screen for years: In 2010, he attempted to turn the novel into a miniseries for the BBC. Last year, he took it to SyFy, but that didn’t pan out either. Fans have been making their own trailers for the novel for years now.
Perhaps Amazon Studios, which is gathering an impressive lineup of original series like Jill Soloway’s Transparent, Whit Stillman’s The Cosmopolitans, and the Ron Perlman-led Hand of God, is the perfect fit. A drama about an alternate history where Nazi Germany and Japan rule America isn’t really going to fly on ABC, or even FX. Amazon’s no doubt looking for a binge-friendly breakout success like Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black or House of Cards, and Scott’s already proven he can make a PKD novel come to life with Blade Runner.
The show joins newly announced comedy pilot Just Add Magic, based on Cindy Callaghan’s debut YA novel about three best who find a cookbook that doubles as a book of spells. Steven Soderbergh’s comedy pilot Red Oaks also got the greenlight, with a pilot directed by David Gordon Green. As with all Amazon’s pilots, once they’re released, viewers can watch and vote on which ones should move forward.
Photo via dailyinvention/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed