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Apple Music is using Shazam to solve the streaming industry’s problem with DJ mixes

Apple Music announced today that it’s created a process to properly identify and compensate all of the individual creators involved in making a DJ mix. Using technology from the audio-recognition app Shazam, which Apple acquired in 2018 for $400 million, Apple Music is working with major and independent labels to devise a fair way to divide streaming royalties among DJs, labels, and artists who appear in the mixes. This is intended to help DJ mixes retain long-term monetary value for all creators involved, making sure that musicians get paid for their work even when other artists iterate on it. And, as one of Apple’s first major integrations of Shazam’s technology, it appears that the company saw value in

Historically, it’s been difficult for DJs to stream mixes online, since live streaming platforms like YouTube or Twitch might flag the use of other artists’ songs as copyright infringement. Artists are entitled to royalties when their song is played by a DJ during a live set, but dance music further complicates this, since small samples from various songs can be edited and mixed together into something unrecognizable.

Apple Music already hosts thousands of mixes, including sets from Tomorrowland’s digital festivals from 2020 and 2021, but only now is it formally announcing the tech that enables it to do this, even though Billboard noted it in June. As part of this announcement, Studio K7!’s DJ Kicks archive of mixes will begin to roll out on the service, giving fans access to mixes that haven’t been on the market in over 15 years.

“Apple Music is the first platform that offers continuous mixes where there’s a fair fee involved for the artists whose tracks are included in the mixes and for the artist making those mixes. It’s a step in the right direction where everyone gets treated fairly,” DJ Charlotte de Witte said in a statement on behalf of Apple. “I’m beyond excited to have the chance to provide online mixes again.”

Image Credits: Apple Music

For dance music fans, the ability to stream DJ mixes is groundbreaking, and it can help Apple Music compete with Spotify, which leads the industry in paid subscribers as it surpasses Apple’s hold on podcasting. Even as Apple Music has introduced lossless audio, spatial audio, and classical music acquisitions, the company hasn’t yet outpaced Spotify, though the addition of DJ mixes adds yet another unique music feature.

Still, Apple Music’s dive into the DJ royalties conundrum doesn’t necessarily address the broader crises at play among live musicians and DJs surviving through a pandemic.

Though platforms like Mixcloud allow DJs to stream sets and monetize using pre-licensed music, Apple Music’s DJ mixes will not include user-generated content. MIDiA Research, in partnership with Audible Magic, found that user-generated content (UGC) — online content that uses music, whether it’s a lipsync TikTok or a Soundcloud DJ mix — could be a music industry goldmine worth over $6 billion in the next two years. But Apple is not yet investing in UGC, as individuals cannot yet upload their personal mixes to stream on the platform like they might on Soundcloud. According to a Billboard report from June, Apple Music will only host mixes after the streamer has identified 70% of the combined tracks.

Apple Music didn’t respond to questions about how exactly royalties will be divided, but this is only a small step in reimagining how musicians will make a living in a digital landscape.

While these innovations help get artists compensated, streaming royalties only account for a small percentage of how musicians make money — Apple pays musicians one cent per stream, while competitors like Spotify pay only fractions of cents. This led the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) to launch a campaign in March called Justice at Spotify, which demands a one-cent-per-stream payout that matches Apple’s. But live events remain a musician’s bread and butter, especially given platforms’ paltry streaming payouts — of course, the pandemic hasn’t been conducive to touring. To add insult to injury, the Association for Electronic Music estimated in 2016 that dance music producers missed out on $120 million in royalties from their work being used without attribution in live performances.

YouTube to roll out Picture-in-Picture viewing for all U.S. iOS users, starting with Premium subscribers

Though YouTube has supported picture-in-picture viewing on Android devices since 2018, YouTube told TechCrunch today that it plans to launch the feature to all iOS users in the U.S. on both iPhone and iPad. For now, YouTube is inviting Premium subscribers to test this feature, which lets users watch picture-in-picture videos in a mini player while browsing other apps. The testing period for Premium users ends on October 31, but YouTube does not have a timeline to share on when all U.S. iOS users will gain access to the feature.

Though this is a mobile feature, Premium subscribers must enable the ability to test it via the YouTube experiments website on the desktop. Last year, YouTube made opting into experiments a Premium perk.

If you scroll down on the experiments website, you’ll see “Picture-in picture on iOS” with the option to try it. Then, if you watch a video on the YouTube app, you should see a picture-in-picture display of the video when you navigate out of the app.

Once viewing a video via picture-in-picture, you can adjust where the video appears on your screen and how big it is. When you tap on the video, you’ll return to the YouTube app. If you lock your phone, the video will pause.

Some users have reported that you might need to delete and reinstall the YouTube app to get it to work.

This feature is different from existing picture-in-picture functionality on the YouTube iOS app because it allows you to continue watching a video even while navigating elsewhere on your phone. Similar features already exist on streaming apps like Netflix.

SiriusXM launches ‘TikTok Radio,’ a music channel featuring viral hits hosted by TikTok stars

If viral TikTok songs like Dr. Dog’s “Where’d All the Time Go?” or Bo Burnham’s “Bezos I” weren’t already stuck in your head on loop, now they could be. Today SiriusXM launched a TikTok Radio channel, which features TikTok creators as channel hosts. The station is designed to sound like a “radio version of the platform’s ‘For You’ feed,” Sirius XM said.

SiriusXM, parent company to Pandora, announced this music channel in May, teasing the launch with curated Pandora playlists from influencers like Bella Poarch, whose lipsync video of Millie B’s “Soph Aspin Send [M to the B]” is the most liked video on TikTok.

With its TikTok partnership, SiriusXM is looking to capture a younger audience — on the TikTok app itself, DJ Habibeats (@djhabibeats) and DJ CONST (@erinconstantineofficial) will each go live on TikTok each week while DJing on TikTok Radio. Other creator hosts on TikTok Radio — like Billy (@8illy), Cat Haley (@itscathaley), HINDZ (@hindzsight), Lamar Dawson (@dirrtykingofpop) and Taylor Cassidy (@taylorcassidyj) — will deliver “The TikTok Radio Trending Ten,” a weekly countdown of songs trending on TikTok. To promote the station during its first week, artists like Ed Sheeran, Lil Nas X and Normani will appear on air.

Music has such a strong footing in TikTok culture that it regularly influences the Billboard charts — Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” originally released in 1978, appeared in the top 10 Billboard albums again in 2020 after it was featured in a viral TikTok. Even a Fortnite-themed parody of Estelle’s “American Boy” — originally uploaded in 2018 to YouTube — had a beautiful moment on TikTok. 

“We’re so excited to launch TikTok Radio on SiriusXM, which opens up artists and creators like this amazing group of hosts to new audiences,” said Ole Obermann, TikTok’s global head of Music, in a statement. “Now SiriusXM subscribers will have a new road to discover the latest trends in music and get a first listen to tomorrow’s musical superstars. The channel captures song-breaking music culture that creates so much joy and entertainment on TikTok through video in an all-audio format.”

Though SiriusXM’s subscriber base continues to expand — it saw a 34% year-over-year growth from last year to now — it still dwarfs in comparison to streaming giants like Spotify, which has 165 million paid users. SiriusXM reported a total of 34.5 million subscribers as of Q2 this year, the most it’s ever had, but even Apple Music and Amazon Music have reported nearly double the subscribers. Pandora has 6.5 million paid subscribers. Over the last few years, SiriusXM and Pandora have struck deals with companies like SoundCloud, Simplecast and Stitcher to become more competitive in both music and podcast streaming. 

Still, other streaming companies have also shown interest in the market of Gen Z-ers on TikTok who want to listen to full versions of the catchy songs they hear in short videos. Apple Music and Spotify both host curated “viral hits” playlists. But a full-time satellite music channel is taking the trend a step further.

 

Amazon rolls out India’s first celebrity voice on Alexa with Amitabh Bachchan

Amazon has rolled out India’s first celebrity voice feature on Alexa with the nation’s biggest movie star Amitabh Bachchan as the company makes a push to lure more users in the world’s second-most populated nation.

The company, which rolled out the voice of Samuel Jackson on Alexa in the U.S. in 2019, said users in India can add the Bollywood legend’s voice to their Echo devices (starting today) or Amazon shopping app (in a few weeks) for an introductory price of 149 Indian rupees ($2) for the first year. (Starting second year, the annual price will move to $4.)

The 78-year-old actor is providing Amazon with stories from his life, a selection of poems from his father, tongue twisters, and motivational quotes. Amazon customers can also ask Alexa to play music, set alarms, get weather updates and get answers in Bachchan’s signature style.

And the company said it is also applying neural speech technology to make Alexa sound like Bachchan even if there’s no direct pre-recording. (Amit ji, remind me to ask you about Amazon’s antitrust situation in India later today.)

Image credits: Amazon

“Working with Amazon to introduce my voice on Alexa was a new experience in bringing together the magic of voice technology and artistic creativity. I am excited that my well-wishers can now interact with me via this new medium, and looking forward to hear how they feel about this,” said Bachchan in a statement.

A household name, Bachchan emerged as Bollywood’s top star in the 1970s playing characters who battled corruption and social injustice. He has also done scores of advertisements for brands and initiatives from everything including hair oil, biscuits, cold drinks, jewelry, state tourism, banks to UNICEF-backed polio vaccination campaign.

The company announced its collaboration with Bollywood legend last year. But the pandemic forced Amazon’s engineering teams to work remotely for this project. There were also additional complications. Globally, users can trigger Alexa with one-word wake alert. Alexa, do this, for instance. But in case of Bachchan, Amazon has introduce a two-word wake system to Alexa. “Amit ji.” (Where ‘ji’ is a Hindi word to pay respect.)

“At Amazon & Alexa, we consistently innovate on behalf of our customers and building the Amitabh Bachchan celebrity voice experience with one of India’s most iconic voices has been a labor of love. Creating the world’s first bi-lingual celebrity voice required us to invent & re-invent across almost every element of speech science – wake word, speech recognition, neural text-to-speech and more,” said Puneesh Kumar, Country Leader for Alexa, Amazon India, in a statement.

“While we are proud of the many India-first innovations and desi-delighters in this, it’s still Day 1 and we will continue to enrich this experience as science evolves.”

India is a key overseas market for Amazon, which has deployed over $6.5 billion and is increasingly making investment in startups. This isn’t the first time the company has signed up Bachchan for one of its businesses. The company last year acquired Bachchan’s “Gulabo Sitabo” movie rights for streaming globally on Prime Video.

Scarlett Johansson files suit over Disney+ ‘Black Widow’ release

With Scarlett Johansson’s time as an Avenger seemingly in the rearview, the “Black Widow” star has filed a breach of contract suit against Marvel-owner Disney. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court this week, alleges that the studio breached its agreement with the star when it released the film on Disney+ alongside its theatrical debut.

“As Ms. Johansson, Disney, Marvel, and most everyone else in Hollywood knows, a ‘theatrical release’ is a release that is exclusive to movie theatres,” the filing writes, matter of factly. “Disney was well aware of this promise, but nonetheless directed Marvel to violate its pledge and instead release the Picture on the Disney+ streaming service the very same day it was released in movie theatres.”

The pandemic has fundamentally transformed the way first-run movies are delivered and consumed — at least in the short term. In 2020, Disney and other studios opted to release films straight to streaming, rather than suffer perpetual delays and poor box office numbers as restrictions closed the non-essential business of movie theaters. More recently they’ve split the difference as movie theaters have reopened, offering same day streaming.

According to a copy of the suit obtained by TechCrunch, Johansson’s concerns about streaming services pre-date the pandemic. When Disney launched the streaming service Disney+, the suit claims, Johansson’s representatives sought assurances from Disney/Marvel that the Black Widow solo film would still get a theatrical release, in spite of the company’s bids to boost subscription numbers.

It cites an email with Marvel’s chief counsel from May of that year:

We totally understand that Scarlett’s willingness to do the film and her whole deal is based on the premise that the film would be widely theatrically released like our other pictures. We understand that should the plan change, we would need to discuss this with you and come to an understanding as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses.

“It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like “Black Widow” directly onto Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company’s stock price — and that it’s hiding behind COVID-19 as a pretext to do so,” the actress’s attorney John Berlinski said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “But ignoring the contracts of the artists responsible for the success of its films in furtherance of this short-sighted strategy violates their rights and we look forward to proving as much in court. This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts.”

The statement accuses Disney of “hiding behind COVID-19,” though certainly the studio wasn’t alone in rethinking its release strategy over the past year. The question remains whether the pandemic will serve as sufficient extenuating circumstances for its release decisions. The outcome of the trial, meanwhile, could well have a profound effect on how studios release blockbusters post-pandemic.

We’ve reached out to Disney for comment and will update accordingly.

Homebase raises $70M for a team management platform aimed at SMBs and their hourly workers

Small and medium enterprises have become a big opportunity in the world of B2B technology in the last several years, and today a startup that’s building tools aimed at helping them manage their teams of workers is announcing some funding that underscores the state of that market. Homebase, which provides a platform that helps SMBs manage various services related to their hourly workforces, has closed $70 million in funding, a Series C that values the company at between $500 million and $600 million, according to sources close to the startup.

The round has a number of big names in it that are as much a sign of how large VCs are valuing the SMB market right now, as it is of the strategic interest of the individuals who are also participating. GGV Capital is leading the round, with past backers Bain Capital Ventures, Baseline Ventures, Bedrock, Cowboy Ventures, and Khosla Ventures also participating. Individuals meanwhile include president of Focus Brands Kat Cole, Jocelyn Mangan (a board member at PapaJohns and Chownow and former COO of Snag), former CFO of payroll and benefits company Gusto Mike Dinsdale, Guild Education founder Rachel Carlson, star athletes Jrue and Lauren Holiday and alright alright alright actor and famous everyman and future political candidate Matthew McConaughey.

Homebase has raised $108 million to date.

The funding is coming on the heels of strong growth for Homebase (which is not to be confused with the UK/Irish home improvement chain of the same name, nor the YC-backed Vietnamese proptech startup).

The company now has some 100,000 small businesses, with 1 million employees in total, on its platform, which use Homebase to manage all manner of activities related to workers that are paid hourly, including (most recently) payroll, as well as shift scheduling, timeclocks and timesheets, hiring and onboarding, communication, and HR compliance.

John Waldmann, Homebase’s founder and CEO, said the funding will go towards both continuing to bring on more customers, as well as expand the list of services offered to them, which could include more features geared to front-line and service workers, as well as features for small businesses who might also have some “desk” workers who might still work hourly.

The common thread, Waldmann said, is not the exact nature of those jobs, but the fact that all of them, partly because of that hourly aspect, have been largely underserved by tech up to now.

“From the beginning, our mission was to help local businesses and their teams,” he said. Part of his inspiration he said came from people he knew: a childhood friend who owned an independent, expanding restaurant chain, and was going through the challenges of managing his teams there, carrying out most of his work on paper; and his sister who worked in hospitality, which didn’t look all that different from his restaurant friend’s challenges. She had to call in to see when she was working, writing her hours in a notebook to make sure she got paid accurately. 

“There are a lot of tech companies focused on making work easier for folks that sit at computers or desks, but are building tools for these others,” Waldmann said. “In the world of work, the experience just looks different with technology.”

Homebase currently is focused on the North American market — there are some 5 million small businesses in the U.S. alone, and so there is a lot of opportunity there. The huge pressure that many them have experienced in the last 18 months of Covid-19 living, leading some to shut down altogether, has also focused the mind on how to manage and carry out work much more efficiently and in a more organized way to ensure you know where your staff is, and that your staff knows what it should be doing at all times.

What will be interesting is to see what kinds of services Homebase adds to its platform over time: in a way it’s a sign of how the hourly wage workers are becoming a more sophisticated and salient aspect of the workforce, with their own unique demands. Payroll, which is now live in 27 states, also comes with pay advances, opening the door to other kinds of financial services for Homebase, for example.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy, with more than 60% of Americans employed by one of our 30 million small businesses. In a post-pandemic world, technology has never been more important to businesses of all sizes, including SMBs,” said Jeff Richards, managing aartner at GGV Capital and new Homebase board member. “The team at Homebase has worked tirelessly for years to bring technology to SMBs in a way that helps drive increased profitability, better hiring and growth. We’re thrilled to see Homebase playing such an important role in America’s small business recovery and thrilled to be part of the mission going forward.”

It’s interesting to see McConaughey involved in this round, given that he’s most recently made a turn towards politics, with plans to run for governor of Texas in 2022. “Hard working people who work in and run restaurants and local businesses are important to all of us,” he said. “They play an important role in giving our cities a sense of livelihood, identity, and community. This is why I’ve invested in Homebase. Homebase brings small business operations into the modern age and helps folks across the country not only continue to work harder, but work smarter.”

Egypt’s Minly raises $3.6M to connect celebrities and fans through personalized experiences

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a growing trend of creators adopting digital and social media, not just as a supplement to their media presence but also as a cornerstone of their personal brand.

The pandemic has surely accelerated creator economy trends. Many popular artists and figures have had to postpone concerts and live events, subsequently using social media to carry out these activities and engage their fans. Proliferating through Western and far East markets, the creator economy bug, which has made platforms like Cameo and Patreon unicorns, is beginning to take centre stage in MENA.

Today, Minly, an Egypt-based creator economy platform, is announcing that it has closed a $3.6 million seed round to allow stars across the MENA region to create authentic, personalized connections with their fans.

The round, which Minly says was oversubscribed, was co-led by 4DX Ventures, B&Y Venture Partners, and Global Ventures. It also included participation from unnamed regional funds and angel investors like Scooter Braun, founder of SB Projects and Jason Finger, co-founder of Seamless and Grubhub. 

Experts say time spent viewing social media surpassed time spent viewing TV within the MENA region. But one shortcoming with social media is that its content often feels mass-produced. When creators make posts, it’s most times void of personalization to the different categories of fans they possess. In a way, this dilutes the fan experience and limits the extent and number of ways the creator can monetize.

This is where Minly comes in. The company was founded last year by Mohamed El-Shinnawy, Tarek Hosny, and Bassel El-Toukhy. It provides tools for creators to craft what it calls ‘authentic connections’ with their superfans and audience at scale. “In short, our goal is to eventually deliver tens of millions of unique, unforgettable experiences to fans each year,” El-Shinnawy said to TechCrunch.

Shinnawy, who brings more than 15 years of media and technology experience to the table, is the chief technology officer at Minly. He sold his first company Emerge Technology to a U.S.-based media company. He has also delivered work for Hollywood’s top studios, such as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal, Disney, Fox, and Warner Brothers, while playing a role in the global expansion of Apple TV+, Disney+, and Netflix to the MENA region.

Minly

Mohamed El-Shinnawy (co-founder and CTO, Minly)

Minly has experienced rapid growth since launching late last year. It has more than 50,000 users along with an impressive list of popular regional celebrities.

On the platform, users can buy personalized video messages and shoutouts from their favourite celebrities, get unprecedented access to the talent they admire most, and celebrities, in turn, connect with their fans on a deeper level. Minly has also assembled a diverse roster of celebrities. They range from traditional movie and television stars and athletes to musicians and internet influencers. Some of these popular figures include Tamer Hosny, Fifi Abdou, Assala Nasri, and Mahmoud Trezeguet.

We think that we have already differentiated ourselves from other creator economy platforms in the region. We do this by offering the best catalogue of stars and user experience. And our entire team is working hard to grow this gap even further,” said El-Shinnawy on the crop of stars Minly has onboarded to the platform

The CTO further gave instances of the connection created by celebrities with their fans. Last year, Egyptian singer Tamer Hosny made a surprise appearance at two fans’ engagement party. Actress and dancer Fifi Abdou also sent a personal message to one of her biggest fans, who has Down syndrome.

Minly takes a small commission on transactions made through its platform. However, the majority of the transaction price, a figure Minly didn’t disclose, goes directly to creators. And at the same time, Minly urges celebrities to automatically donate a portion of their earnings to partner charities on the platform.

Minly’s knack for creating a personalized experience is why Pan-African VC firm 4DX Ventures invested. The firm’s co-founder and general partner Peter Orth, who will be joining Minly’s board, said the company is fundamentally changing the relationship between celebrities and fans in the MENA region. “The team has both the ambition and the expertise to build a full-stack digital interaction platform that could change the way digital content is created and consumed in the region,” he added. 

The creator economy market surpassed $100 billion in value this year and is still growing at an impressive rate. The pace of content creation will only speed up since surveys suggest that being a YouTuber or TikTokker or the most common term, a Vlogger is one the most desirable careers among Gen Zs. VC firms like a16z, Kleiner, and Tiger Global have also heralded this growth. They have considerably contributed to the more than $2 billion invested in creator economy platforms this year.

In MENA, there’s a huge opportunity for Minly. The region has over 450 million people, of which 30% are between the ages of 18 to 30. This demography is known to have a deep connection with social media, and El-Shinnawy believes MENA will soon contribute to a large part of the total creator economy. For Minly, the goal is to capture a huge portion of that spend and become a multi-billion dollar category-leading company. The creator platform has a case to do so. As it stands, the opportunity to build a creator economy one-stop-shop in MENA is huge compared to other regions that already have multiple entrenched incumbents. Also, Minly is one of the few platforms in the region with meaningful venture funding.

“The creator economy is in its infancy and growing at lightning speed. We have the opportunity to build this category’s first unicorn in MENA,” the CTO remarked.

With this investment, Minly is doubling down on building local celebrity acquisition teams in Egypt and other parts across MENA and the GCC, where it has seen significant traction. The company will also scale its engineering team to churn out more products to build a horizontal creator platform.

‘Cruella’ has a great soundtrack — there’s just way too much of it

'Cruella' has a great soundtrack — there's just way too much of it

Welcome to Fix It, our ongoing series examining projects we love — save for one tiny change we wish we could make.


A good song choice in a movie or TV show can create atmosphere and elevate a scene. But when a movie becomes too reliant on needle drops, the constant use of songs grows old fast.

Such is the case of Cruella, an otherwise enjoyable origin story burdened by a music licensing budget too big for its own good.

Let me start by saying that Cruella‘s soundtrack isn’t bad by any means. In fact, it’s chock-full of amazing songs, especially from British artists of the ’60s and ’70s. Songs by Queen, David Bowie, The Clash, and many others do great work in establishing the movie’s era, setting, and tone. Read more…

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Seth Rogen and Conan O’Brien smoked a blunt on TV because sure, why not

Seth Rogen and Conan O'Brien smoked a blunt on TV because sure, why not

Conan is finally coming to an end after a lengthy 11-year run, and what better way to go out than for host Conan O’Brien to just get high in the middle of the show?

Pondering what to do with his upcoming free time, O’Brien turned to guest Seth Rogen for ideas during Tuesday’s episode. The actor is popularly known for starring in stoner comedies, and he recently launched a cannabis company in March, so his answer should have surprised nobody.

“I would suggest — this is going to be hilariously on-brand — try smoking a lotta weed for a long time,” said Rogen, shortly before offering O’Brien a neatly rolled joint from his jacket pocket. Read more…

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Paul Rudd pulls ‘Mac and Me’ gag on Conan one final time

Paul Rudd pulls 'Mac and Me' gag on Conan one final time

Conan‘s 11-year run on TBS is finally coming to an end this week, with host Conan O’Brien moving on to a new variety show at HBO Max. But before the curtains finally close on the late-night talk show, guest Paul Rudd dropped by to impart a final parting gift.

Crashing Bill Hader’s interview, Rudd claimed to have brought footage of Hader and his failed SNL skit to show O’Brien. Of course, as is tradition, that was a blatant lie. Instead, Rudd played a scene from 1988 film Mac and Me featuring a young boy in a wheelchair rolling off a cliff. There is also an alien.

If you’re surprised, then I’m sorry you’ve only just started watching Conan now. Read more…

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The best Prime Day deals on PlayStation games, accessories, and more

The best Prime Day deals on PlayStation games, accessories, and more

It’s been an exciting but stressful year for PlayStation fans. Exciting because the PlayStation 5 came out in late 2020 and plenty of amazing games for the next-gen console have already hit store shelves. Stressful because it’s nearly impossible to actually get your hands on one.

Unfortunately, we don’t have great news on that front — it’s still extremely difficult to find PlayStation 5 consoles in stock anywhere, and there’s really no rhyme or reason to getting one before the bots do. But even if you don’t have a PS5, Prime Day 2021 should be exciting for you: A bunch of great PlayStation 4 deals are live, too. Read more…

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Spielberg’s Amblin inks multiyear feature film deal with Netflix

In something of an about-face, Amblin Partners, Steven Spielberg’s long-running film production company, will produce several films per year for Netflix. The deal reflects Netflix’s rising star and arguably acceptance by the legendary director of a new order to the cinematic world where home viewing is a first class citizen.

The deal, announced in a press release with few details except glowing quotes from Amblin and Netflix executives. All that is certain is that Amblin will produce “multiple new feature films per year” for Netflix.

“From the minute Ted [Sarandos, Netflix Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer] and I started discussing a partnership, it was abundantly clear that we had an amazing opportunity to tell new stories together and reach audiences in new ways,” said Spielberg in the release.

Those new ways didn’t sound so amazing to Spielberg a couple years ago when he was reportedly pushing to exclude Netflix films from the Academy Awards.

“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,” Spielberg told ITV in March of 2019. “I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”

Ultimately no real push was made, though. Whether Spielberg was misrepresented, changed his mind, or just read the room, he has since tempered his position. He has said rather that he simply wants to cherish and protect “the theatrical experience” — understandable from one of the pioneers of the modern blockbuster.

Naturally it’s a huge get for Netflix, which will get a steady stream of Amblin features, though there’s no guarantee of a Spielberg picture. Meanwhile Amblin will continue its longtime partnership with Universal, which fills the more traditional moviemaking and distribution side of things. The company has already broken bread with streaming companies, with shows and films made for and distributed by Netflix and others, but this is most significant partnership so far.

Perhaps it was COVID that suggested to Spielberg and Amblin that streaming platforms are, far from going away, simply the future of the industry in many ways. In a world where the “theatrical experience” is a potential superspreader event and people are perfectly happy to watch (and pay for) a “premiere” at home, it may be better to roll with the punches and hope that things bounce back.

‘Rick and Morty’ Season 5 is done trying to be anything but itself

'Rick and Morty' Season 5 is done trying to be anything but itself

There are few shows that carry quite as much meta baggage as Rick and Morty. But if the Season 5 premiere (titled “Mort Dinner Rick Andre”) is any indication of what’s to come, the beloved Adult Swim comedy is treating 2021 like the clean slate it so desperately needed to not buckle under the weight of its own cultural significance.

Ever since its transformation from the weird little fucked-up cult favorite underdog into a full-blown mainstream phenomenon so popular that hardcore fans nearly caused riots at various McDonald’s in 2017, the subculture bred around Rick and Morty has threatened to overshadow the show itself.  Read more…

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8 of the best Korean dramas on Netflix

8 of the best Korean dramas on Netflix

Enjoying films and television shows in languages other than English has become increasingly common, with South Korean dramas in particular gaining widespread international attention. However, signing up for a streaming service dedicated to Asian dramas can feel like a big leap if you’re unsure about making the switch to subtitles. 

Fortunately, Netflix now has an excellent selection of K-dramas for you to dip your toe into. It’s a great option if you’re interested in exploring South Korean television, but aren’t quite ready for a Viki or KOKOWA account.

In alphabetical order, here are some of the best Korean dramas on Netflix that you can stream now. Read more…

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Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ honors Juneteenth with a playlist and a stark reality check

Colbert's 'Late Show' honors Juneteenth with a playlist and a stark reality check

The Juneteenth recognitions keep rolling in.

The Late Show‘s house band Stay Human came together to reflect on Juneteenth, which marks the true end of slavery on June 19, 1865, and discuss their Juneteenth-inspired song playlist with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Mos Def, Nina Simone, and Kendrick Lamar.

Like many of us, bandmate Louis Cato didn’t learn about Juneteenth until after George Floyd’s murder. 

“Honestly, I felt a bit robbed. We have our holiday celebrating our emancipation and in 12 years of public education, no one said a word about this,” says Cato.

And while Jon Lampley, another Stay Human member, heard elders in his church wish one another “Happy Juneteenth” while growing up, he didn’t deeply explore the event until later. Read more…

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Best new podcasts of 2021 (so far)

Best new podcasts of 2021 (so far)

We’re just about halfway through 2021 and (for many), life continues to be a constant flux of unpredictable changes. But for lovers of well-made audio storytelling, there’s one thing that never seems to change: There’s always a great new podcast to ground yourself in amid the chaos.

Last year, podcasts gained even more relevance, as one of the only safe ways to make entertainment during the pandemic and as a type of sorely-needed companionship. 2021 is shaping up to be both a return to the previous role podcasting used to fill in our pre-pandemic lives, and also an expansion of the medium’s growing cultural importance.  Read more…

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How to delete your Netflix account

How to delete your Netflix account

If you’re looking to cancel your Netflix subscription and delete your account completely, you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find directions on how to delete your Netflix account on your desktop and on your phone.

How to delete your Netflix account on desktop

Log in to your Netflix account and click on your profile icon in the top right corner of the screen.

How to delete your Netflix account

Image: Screenshot: Netflix

Select “Account” from the drop-down menu that appears.

How to delete your Netflix account

Image: Screenshot: netflix

This will take you to your account page. Once there, click “Cancel Membership.”

How to delete your Netflix account

Image: screenshot: netflix
Read more…

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21 binge-worthy LGBTQ TV shows to watch this Pride

21 binge-worthy LGBTQ TV shows to watch this Pride

Mashable is celebrating Pride Month by exploring the modern LGBTQ world, from the people who make up the community to the spaces where they congregate, both online and off.


From Ellen and Queer As Folk to Absolutely Fabulous and Golden Girls, LGBTQ TV has existed as a subgenre for decades. In the streaming era, however, queer stories are being told more frequently and more authentically than ever before — giving viewers plenty to choose from.  

In honor of Pride Month, we’ve combed through all of our favorite queer TV shows on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Showtime, and Amazon Prime Video to bring you a collection of great titles we’ll be watching this June. We’ve limited this list to include only shows that started in the past ten years (our apologies to Will & Grace), but mixed different genres so there’s something for everyone.  Read more…

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14 best comedy movies on Amazon Prime for when you need a laugh

14 best comedy movies on Amazon Prime for when you need a laugh

Hey you! Yes, you! Trying to find something to watch on your friendly neighborhood international multibillion-dollar corporation’s streaming service? It’s OK to ignore the ever-growing pile of worthy but soul-crushing dramas and acclaimed documentaries on your watchlist for another hour or two, and hit play on some of the finest comedies in the Amazon Prime Video library. 

Pull up a couch and prepare some munchies — whether you’re after a sensible chuckle, crumb-spraying splutters, or screeching, hysterical, hang-on-hang-on-just-pause-for-a-moment cackling, there’s something here that’ll make ’em laugh. Read more…

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‘Candyman’ director talks taking on racial injustice in her upcoming horror film

'Candyman' director talks taking on racial injustice in her upcoming horror film

Candyman director Nia DaCosta is giving us even more reason to be excited for her upcoming film. 

Ahead of Juneteenth this Saturday, Universal Pictures released an interview with DaCosta, who co-wrote the film with Win Rosenfeld and producer Jordan Peele. A sequel to Bernard Rose’s 1992 film of the same, Candyman is iconic for its urban legend-sewn horror and themes of social injustice.

In the clip, DaCosta breaks down how her film will pull from the “duality of the Black experience in America” — juxtaposing hope and possibility with the incredible difficulty and pain of inequality. 

“Horror is a really effective tool when it comes to telling stories about things that impact us on a social level,” DaCosta explains. “The very function of it is to make you uncomfortable. And I think if that discomfort is attached to explorations of race or gender, you then have to reconcile your feelings about race and gender.” Read more…

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HBO Max sends out mysterious email, everyone makes the same joke

HBO Max sends out mysterious email, everyone makes the same joke

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…

Subscribers to an HBO Max mailing list received a strange email from the streaming service on Thursday night, leading to everyone making the same jokes.

As shown in a screenshot posted by writer David Gardner, HBO Max sent out an email around 8:30 p.m. ET titled “Integration Test Email #1.” The text shown in the email body read, “This template is used by integration tests only,” with no attachments. 

So, despite it looking like a straight-up phishing scam, it was a pretty standard test email that most companies would rather stay internal. Turning the mistake into a gleeful opportunity for clever tweets, people jumped on Twitter to make jokes only HBO viewers and creators could. Read more…

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‘Never Have I Ever’ season 2 trailer sees Devi making some questionable boy decisions

'Never Have I Ever' season 2 trailer sees Devi making some questionable boy decisions

Netflix has just released the season 2 trailer for Never Have I Ever, and it looks like things could get very messy, very fast.

Created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, the dramatic comedy follows Indian American teenager Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) as she navigates family, friends, and high school life. The whole ordeal don’t seem to be getting any easier for her in the second season though, as she’s torn between her physical attraction to Paxton (Darren Barnet) and her intellectual attraction to Ben (Jaren Lewison).

The solution, of course, is to date both of them. There is no way this could go wrong. Read more…

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Watch ‘WandaVision’ star Elizabeth Olsen conquer ‘Hot Ones’ like a superhero

Watch 'WandaVision' star Elizabeth Olsen conquer 'Hot Ones' like a superhero

Wait. Does Elizabeth Olsen actually have superpowers?

If you’d asked me yesterday I would have said “Of course not! The WandaVision actor and Marvel star simply plays a superhero on screen.” But honestly, after seeing her tackle the Hot Ones wing lineup like a pro, I’m not so sure anymore.

Olsen, who plays Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, stopped by a socially-distanced Hot Ones set to chat all about the chaos of filming her popular Disney+ miniseries, her favorite WandaVision Easter egg, and her memories from acting school. 

While discussing her recent work, along a few of her older films, Olsen remained impressively calm, cool, and collected after each and every wing. Read more…

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Netflix releases trailer for true-crime documentary series ‘Sophie: A Murder in West Cork’

Netflix releases trailer for true-crime documentary series 'Sophie: A Murder in West Cork'

In 1996, in the remote town of Schull in West Cork, Ireland, the murder of 39-year-old French documentary producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier shocked the country and prompted a sprawling investigation.

It’s the focus of a new three-part true crime documentary series coming to Netflix, Sophie: A Murder in West Cork, directed by BAFTA nominee John Dower and produced by Oscar-winning Man on Wire producer Simon Chinn.

The series features interviews with Sophie’s family, local press, and members of the community.

“In making this documentary we wanted to honour Sophie, her family and that rural community in the West of Ireland,” said executive producer Suzanne Lavery in a press statement. “What does seem so tragic, is that Sophie’s perfect escape turned out to be where she lost her life. And the shock of it still reverberates in that community 25 years later.” Read more…

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Trevor Noah reacts to Juneteenth becoming a national holiday

Trevor Noah reacts to Juneteenth becoming a national holiday

On Wednesday, U.S. Congress approved a bill to make Juneteenth a national holiday, the vote passing with an overwhelming 415-14 majority. President Biden is scheduled to sign the bill into law this Thursday, officially setting aside June 19 to remember the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas were finally told they were free.

However, considering the less than stellar reputation the Republican party has regarding issues of race and their recent push to ban critical race theory from schools, the enormous bipartisan support of the Juneteenth bill came as a surprise to some.

“And this, my friends, is why I love America’s government,” said The Daily Show host Trevor Noah. “It has all these old Republicans who are like, ‘We’ve gotta stop talking about slavery! Quit talking so much about it all the time! But I’ll take some time off for slavery, hell yeah!'” Read more…

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Get a Nintendo Switch Online bundle with a microSD card for half off ahead of Prime Day

Get a Nintendo Switch Online bundle with a microSD card for half off ahead of Prime Day

SAVE $34.99: As of June 16, Amazon is offering a Nintendo Switch Online bundle for 50% off the original price that includes a 12-month membership and a 128GB microSD card.


The Nintendo Switch is a near-perfect gaming console. It’s convenient to take around with you, contains a library of some of the best games in recent memory, and offers an experience that no other handheld gaming console ever has. But, it does have some issues, one of them being that online play isn’t free, and the main one being that the amount of storage leaves much to be desired.

Thankfully, you can knock out both of those problems with one purchase ahead of Prime Day — as of June 16, you can get a 12-month membership to Nintendo Switch Online bundled with a 128GB microSD card for 50% off the original price. This is one of the best gaming deals you can get before Prime Day, so don’t miss your chance.  Read more…

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British TV presenter gets caught out by the oldest prank in the book

British TV presenter gets caught out by the oldest prank in the book

It’s been a rocky 72 hours for GB News, a newly-launched UK channel that dubs itself “Britain’s news channel” and has vowed “not to be another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset.”

Launching just a few days ago on Sunday, former BBC presenter Andrew Neil’s opinion news venture has already seen a loss of advertising from companies like IKEA, which said its content wasn’t in line with their values, as well as a withdrawal from brands like Octopus Energy and Kopparberg — and now, just to make matters worse, it’s getting hit with prank commenters.

Take Tuesday’s “What Matters to You?” segment from presenter Michelle Dewberry, for instance. As seen in the video posted to Twitter by Ian Pinnell, Dewberry was in the process of reading comments that had been sent in by viewers when she stumbled across one from someone named, um, “Mike Hunt”. Read more…

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Netflix’s ‘A Classic Horror Story’ trailer promises the movie will be anything but

Netflix's 'A Classic Horror Story' trailer promises the movie will be anything but

Netflix’s A Classic Horror Story immediately looks like nothing new for the genre. Found footage. A crash on a dark road. Finding a mysterious cabin in the middle of the woods. Creepy children’s music box sounds. Sadistic traps and devices. A Midsommar-like feast.

Nonetheless, the Italian film promises to bring something new to horror, declaring it will change the rules in the trailer. Seeing as pretty much every last horror trope features I’m skeptical if that’s the case, but directors Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli might have a twist up their sleeve.

Either way, it looks creepy and alarming as hell. Read more…

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‘Loki’ cast test their knowledge to guess ‘everything he’s ever said’

'Loki' cast test their knowledge to guess 'everything he's ever said'

In a highlight of Disney’s cheeky new Loki series, the God of Mischief is asked to sign a document verifying everything he’s ever said, ever. 

So, for a fun little promo bit, Marvel gathered Loki stars Tom Hiddleston, Wunmi Mosaku, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Owen Wilson to play a quote-guessing game.

The rules? Wilson reads out a quote and they must guess whether or not it was said by the villainous Loki himself. See how much you know about Loki and everything he’s ever said (hint: he might not be himself all the time, if you catch my drift). For example, who said this one? “I can feel the righteousness surging.” Read more…

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Shudder’s eerie ‘An Unquiet Grave’ trailer sees a resurrection gone badly wrong

Shudder's eerie 'An Unquiet Grave' trailer sees a resurrection gone badly wrong

If there’s one thing that never seems to go well in horror films, it’s resurrections. Bringing someone back from the dead, it turns out, is absolutely no cake walk (see: Pet Sematary).

This is certainly the case in Terence Krey and Christine Nyland’s An Unquiet Grave, which sees a grieving husband enlisting the help of his sister-in-law to bring his wife back from the dead.

Needless to say things don’t quite pan out as expected, and judging by the trailer it looks like the husband might also have a secret or two up his sleeve.

An Unquiet Grave lands on Shudder June 24. Read more…

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Nintendo unveils high-flying first look at ‘Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ sequel

Nintendo unveils high-flying first look at 'Zelda: Breath of the Wild' sequel

Well, it’s not much — but at least it’s something. 

At Tuesday’s E3 Nintendo Direct, The Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma unveiled our first look at the still-untitled sequel to Breath of the Wild. In the clip, we see hero Link exploring the skies above Hyrule with a bunch of new powers, including what looks like the ability to walk through walls/floors and an arm canon that maybe doubles as a flamethrower?

It’s a stunning first glimpse at a game we can’t wait to play. But of course, we will have to wait: The untitled sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t expected until 2022. Read more…

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Watching Stephen Colbert back in the studio feels like a triumphant return

Watching Stephen Colbert back in the studio feels like a triumphant return

It’s been 460 days since Stephen Colbert last delivered a late night show monologue in the studio to a live audience. As of Monday night, he’s back.

Although it’s been an absolutely terrible year, many of us have found refuge tuning into A Late Show (temporarily renamed during the pandemic) featuring Colbert in a repurposed storage room with only a skeleton crew and Colbert’s wife, Evie, as an ever-supportive audience. 

On March 13, 2020, Colbert delivered an eerie monologue to an empty studio (seriously watch it), then proceeded to do the show from home from March 16 like many other late night show hosts amid the outbreak of the coronavirus.  Read more…

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How I Podcast: Left Handed Radio’s Anna Rubanova

The beauty of podcasting is that anyone can do it. It’s a rare medium that’s nearly as easy to make as it is to consume. And as such, no two people do it exactly the same way. There are a wealth of hardware and software solutions open to potential podcasters, so setups run the gamut from NPR studios to USB Skype rigs (the latter of which has become a kind of default during the current pandemic).

We’ve asked some of our favorite podcast hosts and producers to highlight their workflows — the equipment and software they use to get the job done. The list so far includes:

Science Vs’s Rose Rimler
Election Profit Makers’ David Rees
Welcome to Your Fantasy’s Eleanor Kagan
Articles of Interest’s Avery Trufelman
First Draft and Track Changes’ Sarah Enni
RiYL remote podcasting edition
Family Ghosts’ Sam Dingman
I’m Listening’s Anita Flores
Broken Record’s Justin Richmond
Criminal/This Is Love’s Lauren Spohrer
Jeffrey Cranor of Welcome to Night Vale
Jesse Thorn of Bullseye
Ben Lindbergh of Effectively Wild
My own podcast, RiYL

Image Credits: Anna Rubanova

This week, we talk to Anna Rubanova. A comedy writer-turned podcast producer, she’s worked on myriad podcasts, including “The Thrilling Adventure Hour” and “Election Profit Makers” (featuring recent How I Podcaster, David Rees). Rubanova serves as an executive producer at Forever Dog and has hosted programs for WNYC Studios and Stitcher Premium. She co-produces and hosts the narrative sketch comedy show “Left Handed Radio” with Adam Bozarth. 

I use my phone a lot. I used to write down ideas for sketches and would inevitably forget what made them good. “When I win the lottery, I’m gonna teach a fish how to smoke.” That’s in one of my notes and I have no idea what it’s referring to. With a voice memo, I can capture the feel of the bit immediately. The recording can serve as a jumping off point for a fully written sketch, maybe a prompt for improv. I might re-record it using a better mic or, screw it, use it as is. I go with whatever is funniest or, sometimes, good enough. You can always justify it later with context. With enough music, restoration or SFX, the worst-quality audio sounds intentional. Plus, there’s no point in doing something “correctly” in podcasting. It’s like trying to make the perfect sandwich. Anyone who thinks there’s one way to podcast or do radio or utilize two slices of bread is a fraud or a solipsist.

Image Credits: Anna Rubanova

Speaking of podcast perfection, Left Handed Radio is my everything. It’s a portfolio, creative outlet, comedy scrapbook and excuse to play with my best friend and partner in all things, Adam Bozarth. We make sketches, stream-of-consciousness monologues, anything that strikes us as funny or interesting.

Over the last decade, we’ve accumulated a good deal of recording equipment. Nothing fancy: a couple of Zooms, two AudioTechnica 2020 USB mics, and a Rhode shotgun. Most of what we have was meant for DIY filmmaking. There was a post-YouTube short-form comedy boom about a decade ago. When all those branded content sites went down, we stopped messing with video and leaned harder into animation and podcasting. 

Image Credits: Anna Rubanova

Narrative audio is my passion. Podcasting is my job. Like I said, we don’t collect equipment but, as producers of up to 12 shows at a time, we needed to invest in plug-ins and software. The easiest DAW for dialogue has to be Audition. Logic is great for building out soundscapes and, obviously, music. We record remote calls to Audition and mark edit points like we would in a studio. (Thank you, Loopback!) Two years ago, I dropped a whopping $1,000 on restoration software. In the pandemic, that software has saved me hours of work. When everyone is recording from home, literally anything can go wrong.

Gone are the days when clipping and plosives were our biggest concern. One time, a podcaster (i.e. someone with their own podcast) called into a show I was producing from a rooftop party. By the time I finished restoring the recording, nobody could tell. (Thank you, RX-7; I wish I could afford RX-8.) Plug-ins aren’t just useful, they can be delightful. We have one that can make audio sound like it’s coming from a loudspeaker underneath a woolen blanket. Have I found a good use for it? No, not yet. But I can imagine the possibilities.

‘The Morning Show’ Season 2 trailer is high drama for Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon

'The Morning Show' Season 2 trailer is high drama for Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon

The Morning Show‘s engaging first season ended on quite the cliffhanger: Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) went rogue on air to call out their show’s toxic work environment.

A dramatic teaser for the series’ second season — which streams on Apple TV+ later this year — gives a gripping peek at the fallout from the co-host’s bold, brutally honest PSA.

Levy is seen telling Cory (Billy Crudup) she’s not returning to the show. Jackson is visibly unraveling as she struggles keep up with the ever-changing industry. And The Morning Show’s former cohost, Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), is seen discussing his sexual misconduct accusations. Read more…

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Kevin Smith drops hints about Netflix’s ‘Masters of the Universe: Revelation’ storyline

Kevin Smith drops hints about Netflix's 'Masters of the Universe: Revelation' storyline

For anyone gleefully awaiting the ’80s nostalgia trip that will be Netflix’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation, we have good news: showrunner Kevin Smith has dropped a few new hints about the direction the reboot will be taking.

“We pick up, spiritually, where He-Man and the Masters of the Universe left off,” Smith explains in the clip above, from an interview for Netflix’s Geeked Week event. “So at the beginning of our episode, it plays for the first 10 minutes like a way better animated version of the old show. It’s very simple, we establish the relationships, and it’s very warm and young feeling. And then about halfway through the show, we turn everything. Something happens, and we kind of grow it up.” Read more…

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Xbox and Bethesda dropped a *ton* of sweet game trailers at their E3 kickoff

Xbox and Bethesda dropped a *ton* of sweet game trailers at their E3 kickoff

Halo? Jack Sparrow in Sea of Thieves? A proper first look at Bethesda’s long-awaited Starfield? A new batch of Game Pass games for subscribers? All here, and then some.

Microsoft and Bethesda Softworks kicked off their E3 2021 on Sunday afternoon with an extended onslaught of reveals and new trailer drops from the two storied publishers. It was notably the first E3 press conference for either of them since Microsoft’s blockbuster Bethesda acquisition in 2020.

That’s especially notable because both brands have, in recent years especially, tended to dominate many of the headlines coming out of E3 with their surprises and big-name exclusives. Now, with everything from Elder Scrolls to Halo to Doom to Minecraft all under the same corporate stewardship, two blockbuster press conferences have merged into one. Read more…

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‘In The Heights’ is Hollywood going Bollywood in the best way

'In The Heights' is Hollywood going Bollywood in the best way

On June 10, I went back to the movies.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jon M. Chu’s In The Heights hit theaters and HBO Max on Friday, but finally seeing it confirmed what I suspected since the very first trailers debuted online:  For In The Heights, Hollywood went Bollywood.

I have waxed about Indian movie musicals at length on this website and others, but in recent years — especially since Aladdin — my frustration grew with Hollywood’s failure to realize the same potential in its own live-action musicals. I’ve run into this in my own experience as a part-time dancer, creating videos with various other performers and companies. Performance is different for an audience than a camera, right down to singing live versus lip-sync. Video choreography is often more intense since dancers can rest in between takes and only perform small sections at a time. Read more…

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Vin Diesel says ‘Fast and Furious’ saga will end in 2024

Vin Diesel says 'Fast and Furious' saga will end in 2024

After more than 20 years, the story of Dominic Toretto is drawing to a close — but not any time soon. Vin Diesel told The Associated Press on Thursday that after two more films, his chapter of the Fast and Furious saga will end in 2024.

“Every story deserves its own ending,” Diesel said during a F9 press junket. “I know people are going to feel like it doesn’t have to end, but I think all good things should,” he said. “There are reasons for a finale. I think this franchise has deserved it.”

That isn’t to say that there won’t be more Fast and Furious films period. Other characters could get spinoffs — like we already saw with Hobbs & Shaw — or the films could maybe even reboot one day with new cast members entirely. As long as the cars go vroom, we’re in. Read more…

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If you’ve never seen an E3 showcase from Devolver Digital, it’s time to treat yourself

If you've never seen an E3 showcase from Devolver Digital, it's time to treat yourself

For most publishers and creators of video games, E3 is a time for business. Yeah, it’s fun to meet with the community and get those exciting reveals out. But ultimately, there’s a job to be done.

That’s just as true for Devolver Digital as it is for all the rest, but gaming’s most punk indie publisher hides it so well. Where you’d normally expect a major publisher like E3 to trot out the news in the most widely accessible way possible, Devolver gets weird. That was as true in 2021 as it’s always been.

If you really want to get all the in-jokes here — it’s a legit cinematic universe at this point — then you’ll want to go back and catch up with Devolver’s showcases from 2017, 2018, 2019, and yes, even 2020. But the deranged 2021 showcase is a totally enjoyable watch on its own, too.  Read more…

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How to watch ‘In the Heights,’ one of the must-see movies for this summer

How to watch 'In the Heights,' one of the must-see movies for this summer

What: In the Heights

Where to watch: On HBO Max and in theaters

Premiere date: June 11, 2021

After inheriting his grandmother’s fortune, bodega owner Usnavi de la Vega (Anthony Ramos) has mixed feelings about closing his store and retiring to the Dominican Republic. 

Billed as the “event of the summer,” In the Heights is based on the musical of the same name from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. It is directed by John M. Chu of Crazy Rich Asians fame, and stars Ramos, Corey Hawkins, and more as neighbors in a vibrant New York City community. 

SEE ALSO: Review: ‘In the Heights’ raises the bar for movie musicals Read more…

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OK, all those fake-out scenes in ‘Mare of Easttown’ were ridiculous

OK, all those fake-out scenes in 'Mare of Easttown' were ridiculous

Welcome to Fix It, our series examining projects we love — save for one tiny change we wish we could make.


Mare of Easttown was dark enough without all those ridiculous fake-outs, right?

From April to May, HBO’s seven-part limited series offered viewers a methodically paced crime thriller set in very moody, very gray, suburban Pennsylvania. A limited but dedicated fanbase tuned in week-to-week for new clues in this slow-burn whodunnit, lauded as a hidden gem of spring TV.

But then, just as the finale neared, the rest of us caught wind, binged it all in a weekend or two, and turned Mare of Easttown into a venerable hit — when maybe it shouldn’t have been.  Read more…

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Trevor Noah makes some ‘additions’ to Biden and Johnson’s new Atlantic Charter from the G7 Summit

Trevor Noah makes some 'additions' to Biden and Johnson's new Atlantic Charter from the G7 Summit

World leaders have gathered in the seaside realm of Cornwall, England for the G7 Summit, where they’re discussing big issues around global trade, managing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and climate change. G7 leaders are also expected to agree to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to low-income nations.

After a first meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday, the pair unveiled a newly updated Atlantic Charter, the agreement first signed in 1941 during World War II by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Though the refreshed charter will actually focus on things like the ongoing pandemic, tackling climate change, and dealing with cyberattacks, The Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah offered up some fun joke suggestions of other additions to the document that would see the two nations work together. Read more…

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‘Love, Victor’ Season 2 continues in a delightfully soapy tradition

'Love, Victor' Season 2 continues in a delightfully soapy tradition

Last June, Love, Victor arrived on Hulu as a fun, fanfic-ready teen drama that was equal parts squee-inducing romance and thoughtful interrogation of queer identity. Though it was technically a spinoff from the 2018 film Love, Simon, Victor’s story as a gay Colombian teen discovering, then struggling with, his sexuality became a springboard for a new cast of lovable characters who brought depth to their individual high school tropes. Season 2 continues the tradition of soapy drama and real-life relatability with its examination of what comes after Victor’s happily ever after in Season 1. 

Love, Victor Season 1 ended on the cliffhanger of Victor (Michael Cimino) kissing his crush Benji (George Sear) for the first time, breaking his girlfriend Mia’s (Rachel Hilson) heart, and finally putting his feelings first by coming out to his parents after they announced their world-shattering decision to separate. Season 2 picks up immediately after that cliffhanger to show the aftermath of his revelation.  Read more…

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What kind of villain is Loki? The Disney+ show turned to ‘Avengers’ for a reason.

What kind of villain is Loki? The Disney+ show turned to 'Avengers' for a reason.

For most of a decade, Marvel’s God of Mischief hasn’t needed much more reason to exist than the chaos he creates. 

Now though, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki has a story of his own, and it’s a multi-hour journey on Disney+ that promises to better define the contours of this complicated character. Already in the first episode, we’ve cut deeper into the heart of who he is than we ever did across his five big screen blockbuster appearances.

“I don’t enjoy hurting people,” he tells Owen Wilson’s Agent Mobius in his revealing final scene from “Glorious Purpose,” Loki‘s opening episode. “I do it because I have to, because I’ve had to… Because it’s part of the illusion. It’s the cruel, elaborate trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear,” he continues, visibly gesturing to himself at the mention of “weak.”  Read more…

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Here’s how to watch Euro 2020 from anywhere in the world

Here's how to watch Euro 2020 from anywhere in the world

TL;DR: You can watch all of the action from Euro 2020, even if you’re out of the country. All you need is a VPN, and we’ve found the best deals to help you save.


It’s here. It’s finally here. After what has felt like the most painful of delays, Euro 2020 is kicking off on June 11. It’s still called Euro 2020 even though it is taking place in 2021. That’s not a typo, OK?

If you’re based in the UK, you can catch all of the action for free on BBC and ITV. Every game is also available for free if you live in European countries like Spain, Italy, France, and Germany. Aren’t we lucky?

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