“A strange virus is going around…” Fear the Walking Dead premieres Summer 2015.
Popcorn Time’s BitTorrent-for-dummies approach has become the virtually undisputed future of video piracy
Netflix, but with far more content and none of those pesky monthly payments. Hollywood quickly intervened, pressuring Popcorn Time’s Argentinian developers to walk away from their creation. But anonymous coders soon relaunched the copyright-flouting software. Today, Popcorn Time is growing at a rate that has likely surpassed the original, and the people behind it say they’re working on changes designed to make the service virtually impervious to law enforcement.Popcorn Time was an instant hit when it launched just over a year ago: The video streaming service made BitTorrent piracy as easy as
“We’re like Google. scraping for new content all over the internet.”
– Popcorn Time’s anonymous developer, known here by the popcorn-box mascot name “Pochoclin”
As Popcorn Time celebrated the first anniversary of its rebirth, WIRED chatted via email and instant message with a software developer from Popcorn-Time.se, one of the most popular of several reincarnations of Popcorn Time. (The anonymous developer asked us to use Popcorn Time’s smiling popcorn-box mascot “Pochoclin” as his or her pseudonym.) Popcorn Time’s masked spokesperson says the streaming movie and TV app is flourishing—in defiance of many of the world’s most powerful copyright holders and EURid, the domain registrar that seized the original site’s web domain last year.
“After everything we went through, this will be our sweetest revenge.”
– Anonymous Popcorn Time spokesperson
Popcorn-Time.se, Pochoclin says, has millions of users and is growing at the mind-bending rate of 100,000 downloads per day. He or she also hinted that a forthcoming switch to a peer-to-peer architecture will make the service far harder for copyright cops to attack. “We’re at the threshold of one of the most exciting times since we started this project,” Pochoclin writes. “Making all our data available via p2p will mean that Popcorn Time will no longer rely on domains and centralized servers but only on its user base.”
“After everything we went through,” Pochoclin said, “this will be our sweetest revenge and our biggest victory.”
When Popcorn-Time.se started responding to WIRED’s questions in November, Pochoclin said the reborn project already had 4 million users. But it had taken a serious hit a few months earlier, when Brussels-based domain registrar EURid revoked its website domain, Time4Popcorn.eu. At its new Swedish domain, it’s only recently returned to that earlier adoption rate. (Pochoclin wouldn’t reveal the size of its current user base for fear of drawing more attention from law enforcement or copyright holders.) “[EURid’s domain seizure] was just a small setback … a small but painful kick to the balls,” the spokesperson says. “We’ve grown this project tremendously since we picked it up … The numbers just keep rising.”
For any other year-old startup, those numbers would seem ludicrous. But Popcorn Time is giving away Hollywood’s most valuable content for free, and making that piracy easier than ever. Download Popcorn Time’s app and in seconds you’re offered a slick menu of streaming TV shows and movies at least as easy to navigate as Netflix or Hulu—but with higher-quality video and hundreds of recent movies and TV shows paid services don’t offer. Read the rest of this entry »
Timothy B. Lee writes:
For the last week, Hillary Clinton has been at the center of a media feeding frenzy over allegations that she used a personal email account while Secretary of State to avoid public scrutiny of her official communications. The real Clinton has been tight-lipped, but her Saturday Night Live alter ego, Kate McKinnon, took to the airwaves on Saturday to address the controversy.
McKinnon portrays Clinton as aloof, awkward, and power-obsessed. And these portrayals can have a big influence on a candidate’s public image….(read more)
Nick Gillespie writes: A show that was once darkly great has descended into prosaic moralism. God save us from fictional pols who are serious about jobs programs.
Is anybody else kinda-sorta done with House of Cards? Not literally but figuratively. Season three is a real letdown, but not because the Netflix series is, in the words of one reviewer, too “bleak” or negative or dark.
“House of Cards is going softer than President Frank Underwood’s gut. The first two seasons were a palate-cleansing, tit-for-tat inversion of Aaron Sorkin’s cloyingly earnest West Wing, where even the bad guys tended to be good-hearted, if ideologically misguided.”
It’s the exact opposite: House of Cards is going softer than President Frank Underwood’s gut. The first two seasons were a palate-cleansing, tit-for-tat inversion of Aaron Sorkin’s cloyingly earnest West Wing, where even the bad guys tended to be good-hearted, if ideologically misguided.
But in just three seasons of House of Cards we’ve gone from Underwood (Kevin Spacey) not thinking twice about shoving under a train the unethical journalist he was fucking to a world where he actually takes seriously the idea of a federally funded jobs program that will—finally! seriously! emphatically!—end unemployment as we know it. He actually seems to earnestly want to do something for people and not simply because it will give him more power. Hell, at one point, he echoes FDR talking about how the “country needs bold, persistent experimentation” to turn the economy around and approaches his “America Works” program as something other than the shovel-ready malarkey the old Frank would have gleefully exulted.
Do we really want the characters in House of Cards to start developing consciences and to grow into moral actors? Please, the whole kick of the show is precisely that its universe is inhabited only by ethical gargoyles.
Even more disappointing is the devolution of First Lady Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) from a ruthless operator who puts Agrippina the Younger to shame into a latter-day Lady Macbeth filled with doubts about her and her husband’s patently unredeemable actions. “We’re murderers, Francis,” she says at one point in the new season—as if that’s a bad thing.
What’s going on here might be called the “Archie Bunker Effect,” and it’s no prettier than when All in the Family’s protagonist would belch loudly after chugging a beer while sitting in his favorite living room chair. When All in the Family started in the early 1970s, its protagonist was supposed to hold up a mirror to America and depict the petty and base racism, sexism, you-name-it-ism of the working class. Bless their hearts, Hollywood big shots such as creator Norman Lear just wanted to ennoble the little people.
“He actually seems to earnestly want to do something for people and not simply because it will give him more power. Hell, at one point, he echoes FDR talking about how the ‘country needs bold, persistent experimentation’ to turn the economy around and approaches his ‘America Works’ program as something other than the shovel-ready malarkey the old Frank would have gleefully exulted.”
“By giving bigotry a human face, Lear believed, his show could help liberate American TV viewers. He hoped that audiences would embrace Archie but reject his beliefs,” wrote The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum in an essay inspired by Saul Austerlitz’s 2014 book Sitcom. But as Nussbaum puts it, “‘A funny thing happened on the way to TV immortality: audiences liked Archie,’ Austerlitz writes. ‘Not in an ironic way, not in a so-racist-he’s-funny way; Archie was TV royalty because fans saw him as one of their own.’” Probably even worse for Norman Lear, in many ways the ultimate limousine liberal, was that the show’s resident liberal mouthpiece, Mike “Meathead” Stivic (brilliantly portrayed by Rob Reiner), was the show’s true laughingstock.
“We’re murderers, Francis,” Claire Underwood says at one point in the new season—as if that’s a bad thing.
But if there’s something more frustrating than fans misunderstanding a character and a show’s dynamics, it’s when producers do. All in the Family quickly became increasingly less funny and more preachy until it finally transmogrified into the godawful Archie Bunker’s Place. That last, comedy-free permutation was set at a bar Archie owned and operated. He still mangled the language (gynecologist became “groinacologist,” for instance) but Archie was now a standup guy who literally took in and cared for orphans.
“For all that, we are reminded time and again—and without irony—that leaders and policymakers are constantly balancing an impossible array of interests and tradeoffs.”
Similarly, the third season of House of Cards spends a hell of a lot of time humanizing the Underwoods and other characters. To be sure—spoiler alerts!—recovering alcoholic and chief of staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is still capable of going on booze-and-sex benders and killing innocent people, but even he thinks twice before finally dispatching the prostitute Rachel, a loose thread whose existence threatens the president’s reelection. Read the rest of this entry »
[PHOTO] William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy Reading MAD Magazine Between Takes on the Original Star Trek Series, 1968Posted: March 4, 2015
The spat began earlier this month, when director Feng Xiaogang lambasted the popularity of a spate of recent Chinese movies based on popular reality television shows
Lilian Lin reports: An unusual public spat between a famous director and the Communist party’s main propaganda arm is shining a light on the state of pop culture in China.
The spat began earlier this month, when director Feng Xiaogang lambasted the popularity of a spate of recent Chinese movies based on popular reality television shows. Such movies, he said on a local television program, are “shot in five or six days” yet make quick money. That hurts genuine filmmaking, he argued, because it draws investor money away from more serious movies.
The apparent target of his criticism was a new film called “Running Man,” which is based on a popular reality show of the same name. The TV show, which is based on a South Korean program and is similar to “The Amazing Race” series in the U.S., pits celebrities against each other in random tasks. (The losers face indignities such as being flung into a swimming pool.) The movie, which has a similar plot, has taken in over 400 million yuan ($64 million) in ticket sales after only two weeks, according to the local film research company EntGroup.
“Is film censorship really based on rule of law and letting the market call the shots? Of course not.”
– Zou Xiaowu, marketing director of theater chain Dadi Cinema
Another movie based on a hit Chinese reality show, “Dad, Where Are We Going?,” took in nearly 700 million yuan and was the country’s third highest-grossing domestic film last year.
Mr. Feng himself made his name initially with light-hearted comedic films that became major box office successes. But in recent years he has turned to more serious films, including 2010’s “Aftershock,” about a deadly 1976 earthquake, and “Back to 1942,” a 2012 film about a famine that killed up to three million people.
“The films that really should be criticized are those films that put people to sleep. At least ‘Running Man’ is logical.”
– Wang Zhengyu, a producer of “Running Man”
His critique of the new reality TV movies is a familiar one, and not just inside China. (A spokesman said Mr. Feng didn’t have more to add.) But the counterargument came from a surprising source: The People’s Daily newspaper.
In an editorial last week, the Communist party’s main newspaper said the films are “the choice of audiences and the market.” The challenge for filmmakers like Mr. Feng, it said, is to “complain less but make more good films.”
A separate, later editorial on the paper’s Weibo social-media account suggested such criticism is hypocritical. “Directors of commercial films looking down upon variety show film is kind of like a crow accusing a pig of being black,” it said. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Prank: Unsuspecting Bachelors Set Up On Blind Date With Attractive Woman Who Turns Out To Be Professional Stunt DriverPosted: February 12, 2015
Ford pulled another commercial-turned-stunt by setting unsuspecting bachelors up on a blind date with an attractive woman, who also happened to be a professional stunt driver.
After chatting at a cafe, the couple take off in a new 2015 Ford Mustang and the woman lets the men know that she’s not very experienced at driving a manual transmission. Then, right when the first date banter reaches peak boredom, the driver dips off into an empty parking lot to take the dates for an unexpected thrill ride…(more)
— Bloomberg Politics (@bpolitics) February 12, 2015
Mollie Hemingway writes: NBC News’ Brian Williams is taking a few days off from his anchor chair at the Nightly News. The Most Trusted Name In News (TM) is in a spot of trouble. He admits he lied when he claimed he was in a Chinook helicopter forced down by rocket-propelled grenade fire in Iraq in 2003.
There are also concerns about dramatic stories he told about gangs attacking his hotel in New Orleans during Katrina. Whether he saw a dead body floating by him in the French Quarter. Whether he got dysentery on that trip.
Or witnessed someone commit suicide in the Superdome. Also about whether he actually saved a puppywhile on duty as a voluntary firefighter. Whether he was really “looking up at a thug’s snub-nosed .38 while selling Christmas trees out of the back of a truck” in the 1970s. And whether a helicopter he was in during Israel’s war with the militant group Hezbollah in 2006 was nearly hit by Katyusha rockets.
I could go on. The point is that he’s beginning to resemble Jen from the IT Crowd:
[Check out Neil Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” at Amazon]
If Brian Williams were just a dude at the bar, he’d probably be your favorite dude at the bar. He has great stories and tells them well. The loquacious Williams is just an obscenely well-paid news reader. As Neil Postman put it in his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves To Death, “A news show, to put it plainly, is a format for entertainment, not for education, reflection or catharsis.” And that’s how we like it — here’s a promo for a new CNN game show featuring anchors competing against each other. (Show ‘em who’s boss, Tapper!)
A Far Worse Kind Of Exaggeration
Some journalists have responded to the Williams spectacle by running defenses they’d never imagine using on others — such as that Williams had ordinary false memory syndrome. Others are just waiting for him to be pushed out or quietly get back to work.
Williams lied. I’m not defending him. But in a world of serial exaggerators and distortion artists, he’s the least of mainstream media’s problems.
Exaggeration and distortion is de rigueur for many political journalists.
Exaggeration is kind of what our media do. Now, part of this is defensible. At one of my first newspaper jobs, I would write unbelievably spare copy that accurately described the event or situation I was reporting on. My editor used to take his big red pen and scrawl, “So what?” across my copy, double underlined. It was a great edit. I had to learn how to make a story interesting and how to pull out the parts a reader would actually care about.
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) February 9, 2015
Originally posted on TIME:
The second half of the fifth season of The Walking Dead begins with a slow, contemplative episode, “What Happened and What’s Going On.” This season, which began with savage, nihilistic fireworks, has gotten more moody and broody with every episode. Still, for a mellow installment, a few interesting things happen:
“What Happened…” begins with a burial. Presumably, the group is laying Beth to rest. The climax of the mid-season finale came when a botched Mexican standoff resulted in her death as well as the fatal shooting of Dawn, the dictatorial leader of the group of survivors in the hospital. The group decides to head to a gated community, Shirewilt Estates, former hospital orderly Noah tells them has strong walls. On the way, Tyrese uncorks a little road wisdom, concluding that keeping one’s eyes open to the horrors of the world (you know, like flesh-eating zombie hordes) is simply “the…
View original 467 more words
Critics: Hong Kong’s TV Industry Hits New Low with Derivative Talk Show Clone of Shows Like David Letterman, Jimmy FallonPosted: February 3, 2015
Vivienne Chow reports: Hong Kong’s television industry has hit a “new low” as TVB’s latest talk show Sze U Tonight was accused of copying popular American hosts such as Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman.
“A TVB spokesman said Lee had already announced that his show would ‘take references’ from U.S. talk shows. But Lee insisted the show did not copy US shows entirely.”
Critics said the TVB show, hosted by comedian Johnson Lee Sze-chit, reflected the lack of creativity in the city’s TV productions – and even warned the alleged similarities in format and set designs could lead to legal action.
Sze U Tonight, which debuted on TVB Jade on Sunday, features Lee behind a desk interviewing celebrities sitting on a sofa, against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s skyline. It apparently bore a striking resemblance of the likes of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC and Late Show with David Letterman on CBS.
Lee’s desk, complete with an old-fashioned microphone, a pencil holder full of pencils and a coffee mug, was said to look like Letterman’s. The show also has a live band, a signature of Letterman’s show.
“Sze U Tonight risked falling into copyright traps, but it will depend on whether the U.S. networks decide to take legal action.”
Sze U Tonight achieved 16 rating points on Sunday – an equivalent to a TV audience of more than a million, accounting for a 93 per cent share. A TVB spokesman said Lee had already announced that his show would “take references” from US talk shows. But Lee insisted the show did not copy US shows entirely as it featured local content.
The South China Morning Post contacted NBC but the broadcaster has yet to comment on allegations its show has been copied.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said it was common for TV stations to customise foreign shows. ATV screened quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? while TVB broadcast The Weakest Link in the 1990s. But ATV and TVB acquired the rights from foreign stations which had originally broadcast them overseas.
Mainland China has also acquired the rights to foreign shows, such as South Korea’s Running Man and Dad! Where Are We Going?
However, it is understood that TVB did not acquire the rights to any of the US talk shows for the production of Sze U Tonight. Read the rest of this entry »
…blunders include video bombs — both intentional and completely accidental — along with plenty of technical mishaps. You also get Tom Brady talking incessantly about his balls and an anchor bravely letting a tarantula rest on her chest…(read more)
Also see – Funniest News Bloopers of 2014
— FoxNewsInsider (@FoxNewsInsider) January 15, 2015
Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery will be the host of “Kennedy,” which will launch January 26 at 10 p.m., after the conclusion of an episode of the network’s new” Strange Inheritance” reality series that night. “Kennedy” will feature an opening monologue from the host, followed by interviews and discussion segments. Fox Business is billing the program as focused on “big water-cooler discussion topics.”…(read more)
“I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas, and I’m not sure where to begin. My guess is that Roy Price will regret this.”
“I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas, and I’m not sure where to begin. My guess is that [Amazon Studios Vice President] Roy Price will regret this,” Mr. Allen said in a news release about the project, which is still unnamed.
[An outbreak of mockery ensues at Twitter #WoodyAllenTVShowNames]
Amazon has commissioned a full season, with half-hour episodes available on its Prime Instant Video. The will be the first television project by Mr. Allen, who has worked on films such as “Annie Hall” and “Midnight in Paris.” He has won four Oscars.
On Sunday, Amazon’s “Transparent”—about a California family whose father comes out as transgender—took home two Golden Globes at the 72nd annual awards: best musical or comedy TV series, and best actor in a musical or comedy series for actor Jeffrey Tambor. This is the first Golden Globe win for an Amazon show. Read the rest of this entry »