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The best moments of the 2020 ‘Pandemmys’

The best moments of the 2020 'Pandemmys'

The virtual 2020 Emmys, or “Pandemmys” as we may or may not call them, took place Sunday night and proceeded with surprisingly few technical glitches and some generally pleasant surprises. We loved sneaking a peek at celebrity homes and makeshift Emmy parties, and seeing TV’s top players in the same situation as those watching at home was oddly comforting as we all celebrated television together.

In a normal year we round up the best and worst moments of the Emmys, but since this year is far from normal, we decided to just focus on the highlights (although that fake audience bit from the beginning… we could have done without). Here are our favorite moments from the 2020 Emmy Awards. Read more…

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PlayStation 5 preorders are now live — here’s where you can get your hands on one

PlayStation 5 preorders are now live — here's where you can get your hands on one

UPDATE: Sept. 16, 2020, 8:48 p.m. EDT PS5 consoles are already listed as “out of stock” at Walmart, Target, and GameStop. Don’t fret: We suspect there are more to come. We’ll keep updating this story as we spot more availability.

TL;DR:

  • QUICK LINKS: PlayStation 5 preorders are now live at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop

  • Official release is Nov. 12 in the U.S.

  • Regular edition will retail for $499; digital edition will retail for $399

Gaming’s next generation is just about here. 

Sony’s PlayStation 5 finally has a release date and a price: Both the regular and digital editions of the PS5 will launch on Nov. 12 in the U.S., and will retail at $499 and $399, respectively. The digital edition of the console has the same internal components as the regular version, but gets rid of the disc drive for an all-digital experience (and it’s $100 cheaper). Read more…

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First trailer for ‘The Stand’ teases the pandemic apocalypse, Stephen King style

First trailer for 'The Stand' teases the pandemic apocalypse, Stephen King style

CBS All Access just released the first teaser for 10-part miniseries The Stand, based on the post-apocalyptic fantasy novel by Stephen King. In The Stand, groups with opposing ideas of what society should be clash in the wake of a deadly pandemic, leading to significant repercussions for humanity’s future. The book was originally released in 1978, but its themes are unsettlingly relevant to 2020.

The Stand‘s 30-second trailer doesn’t give away much, mainly featuring people wandering eerily abandoned streets or experiencing emotional distress. We do get a good look at Whoopi Goldberg as spiritual leader Abagail Freemantle though, as well as Alexander Skarsgård’s supernaturally powered Randall Flagg. Read more…

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Chadwick Boseman tribute will air Sunday night on ABC after ‘Black Panther’

Chadwick Boseman tribute will air Sunday night on ABC after 'Black Panther'

Mourning together isn’t easy in these socially distant times, but Chadwick Boseman fans will have a chance to do that on Sunday night.

Marvel’s Black Panther is set to air commercial-free on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 30. Then, immediately after the movie, ABC News will deliver a 40-minute special tribute, titled Chadwick Boseman – A Tribute for a King.

Boseman died on Friday at the age of 42 after a four-year struggle with colon cancer. The news of his death came as a shock to fans, as the Black Panther star had opted to keep his diagnosis and subsequent treatments a secret.

The Sunday evening special will, according to ABC, “celebrate Boseman’s storied life, legacy and career, and the cultural imprint he made on- and off-screen.” The network doesn’t name any participants, but the announcement promises to feature tributes from “celebrities, political figures, and fans across the world,” as well as “special words” from friends and co-stars. Read more…

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Chadwick Boseman, star of Marvel’s ‘Black Panther,’ has died

Chadwick Boseman, star of Marvel's 'Black Panther,' has died

Actor Chadwick Boseman, perhaps best known for his star performance in Marvel’s Black Panther, has died at 43. 

A statement shared on Boseman’s official Twitter account Friday night confirmed the star had passed in his Los Angeles home with his wife and family, four years after he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy,” it reads. Read more…

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Microsoft backs Epic Games, says Apple is threatening game development

Microsoft backs Epic Games, says Apple is threatening game development

Microsoft has inserted itself into the ongoing legal dispute between Apple and Epic Games, and the Xbox company is lining up behind the Unreal Engine.

Unreal, which is Epic’s creation, is a set of software tools (often referred to as an “engine”) that developers use to build video games. Epic confirmed on Monday that Apple will cut the company off from iOS and MacOS development tools on Aug. 28. That spurred a response from Microsoft.

On Sunday, Microsoft filed a statement with the U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif. claiming that Apple’s move to cut off Epic threatens a sizable community of creators that have no connection to the ongoing litigation. Read more…

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A 13-year-old with a stutter gave the Democratic convention’s best speech

A 13-year-old with a stutter gave the Democratic convention's best speech

The fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention wrapped up on Thursday night with a speech from now-official nominee Joe Biden, and fireworks in place of a balloon drop. But the most powerful moment of the four-night event came in the form of a two-minute speech from an extraordinary teenager.

Brayden Harrington recounted how he met Biden at a campaign event in New Hampshire earlier this year. 

“He told me that we’re members of the same club: We stutter,” Harrington said. “It was really amazing to hear that someone like me became vice-president. He told me about a book of poems by Yeats he would read out loud to practice. He showed me how he marks his addresses to make them easier to say out loud, so I did the same thing today. And now I’m here talking to you today about the future — about our future.” Read more…

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Kerry Washington’s adorable father cracks her up with topical dad jokes

Kerry Washington's adorable father cracks her up with topical dad jokes

The summer of Jimmy Kimmel Live guest hosts rolls on, with a super glam Kerry Washington taking the reins for Monday night’s show. She was joined by her dad Earl, whom she reveals was an Emmy-deserving background extra on Little Fires Everywhere

“He’s the most adorable man in America, and he loves to tell jokes,” she said, “so when he heard I was doing my first late night monologue, he wanted to pitch in and help me out with material, because he doesn’t think I’m funny.”

Earl is indeed completely adorable, telling Washington about the importance of humor during tough times, and kicking off with a meta moment: “How do you know it’s a dad joke? It becomes ap-parent.” Read more…

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Allow Bryan Cranston to show you his hats in this mildly unhinged Jimmy Fallon song

Allow Bryan Cranston to show you his hats in this mildly unhinged Jimmy Fallon song

Bryan Cranston. Is a man. Of many hats.

Sure, we all know the Heisenberg pork pie chapeau (and it makes an appearance here). But before this mildly unhinged Fallon segment who knew Cranston could rock a sailor’s cap, a little red bonnet, or a sweeping fuchsia fascinator while on the toilet with such dead-eyed, menacing panache? Truly, he has the range, and I am just crazed enough after months in my house that it feels like the funniest thing I’ve seen all week.

I desperately want to have been in the Zoom pitch meeting where some exhausted writer went “He wore that hat in Breaking Bad, right? Can we write a weird banger and just stick him and Jimmy in a bunch of random crap from the hat closet then cut it together like a TikTok ripoff?” Read more…

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Wilford Brimley, beloved entertainer and star of ‘Cocoon,’ is dead 85

Wilford Brimley, beloved entertainer and star of 'Cocoon,' is dead 85

Wilford Brimley, whose work as an actor and as a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association made him a transgenerational favorite, is dead at 85.

Brimley died on Saturday morning, his manager Lynda Bensky confirmed to Mashable. He was in intensive care at the time, receiving dialysis treatments and dealing with unspecified medical problems. He is survived by his wife Beverly and his four children.

“Wilford Brimley was a man you could trust,” Bensky said in a statement. “He said what he meant and he meant what he said. He had a tough exterior and a tender heart. I’m sad that I will no longer get to hear my friend’s wonderful stories. He was one of a kind.” Read more…

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‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ and the limits of today’s game economies

Kaiser Hwang
Contributor

Kaiser Hwang is a longtime member of the games community and a vice president at Forte, an organization building an open economic platform for games.

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is a bonafide wonder. The game has been setting new records for Nintendo, is adored by players and critics alike and provides millions of players a peaceful escape during these unprecedented times.

But there’s been something even more extraordinary happening on the fringe: Players are finding ways to augment the game experience through community-organized activities and tools. These include free weed-pulling services (tips welcome!) from virtual Samaritans, and custom-designed items for sale — for real-world money, via WeChat Pay and AliPay.

Well-known personalities and companies are also contributing, with “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” scribe Gary Whitta hosting an A-list celebrity talk show using the game, and luxury fashion brand Marc Jacobs providing some of its popular clothing designs to players. 100 Thieves, the white-hot esports and apparel company, even created and gave away digital versions of its entire collection of impossible-to-find clothes.

This community-based phenomenon gives us a pithy glimpse into not only where games are inevitably going, but what their true potential is as a form of creative, technical and economic expression. It also exemplifies what we at Forte call “community economics,” a system that lies at the heart of our aim in bringing new creative and economic opportunities to billions of people around the world.

What is community economics?

Formally, community economics is the synthesis of economic activity that takes place inside, and emerges outside, virtual game worlds. It is rooted in a cooperative economic relationship between all participants in a game’s network, and characterized by an economic pluralism that is unified by open technology owned by no single party. And notably, it results in increased autonomy for players, better business models for game creators, and new economic and creative opportunities for both.

The fundamental shift that underlies community economics is the evolution of games from centralized entertainment experiences to open economic platforms. We believe this is where things are heading.

Indian startups diversify their businesses to offset COVID-19 induced losses

E-commerce giant Flipkart is planning to launch a hyperlocal service that would enable customers to buy items from local stores and have those delivered to them in an hour and a half or less. Yatra, an online travel and hotel ticketing service, is exploring a new business line altogether: Supplying office accessories.

Flipkart and Yatra are not the only firms eyeing new business categories. Dozens of firms in the country have branched out by launching new services in recent weeks, in part to offset the disruption the COVID-19 epidemic has caused to their core offerings.

Swiggy and Zomato, the nation’s largest food delivery startups, began delivering alcohol in select parts of the country last month. The move came weeks after the two firms, both of which are seeing fewer orders and had to let go hundreds of employees, started accepting orders for grocery items in a move that challenged existing online market leaders BigBasket and Grofers.

Udaan, a business-to-business marketplace, recently started to accept bulk orders from some housing societies and is exploring more opportunities in the business-to-commerce space, the startup told TechCrunch.

These shifts came shortly after New Delhi announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The lockdown meant that all public places including movie theaters, shopping malls, schools, and public transport were suspended.

Instead of temporarily halting their businesses altogether, as many have done in other markets, scores of startups in India have explored ways to make the most out of the current unfortunate spell.

“This pandemic has given an opportunity to the Indian tech startup ecosystem to have a harder look at the unit-economics of their businesses and become more capital efficient in the shorter and longer-term,” Puneet Kumar, a growth investor in Indian startup ecosystem, told TechCrunch in an interview.

Of the few things most Indian state governments have agreed should remain open include grocery shops, and online delivery services for grocery and food.

People buy groceries at a supermarket during the first day of the 21-day government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Bangalore on March 25, 2020. (Photo by MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

E-commerce firms Snapdeal and DealShare began grocery delivery service in late March. The move was soon followed by social-commerce startup Meesho, fitness startup Curefit, and BharatPe, which is best known for facilitating mobile payments between merchants and users.

Meesho’s attempt is still in the pilot stage, said Vidit Aatrey, the Facebook-backed startup’s co-founder and chief executive. “We started grocery during the lockdown to give some income opportunities to our sellers and so far it has shown good response. So we are continuing the pilot even after lockdown has lifted,” he said.

ClubFactory, best known for selling low-cost beauty items, has also started to deliver grocery products, and so has NoBroker, a Bangalore-based startup that connects apartment seekers with property owners. And MakeMyTrip, a giant that provides solutions to book flight and hotel tickets, has entered the food delivery market.

Another such giant, BookMyShow, which sells movie tickets, has in recent weeks rushed to support online events, helping comedians and other artists sell tickets online. The Mumbai-headquartered firm plans to make further inroads around this business idea in the coming days.

For some startups, the pandemic has resulted in accelerating the launch of their product cycles. CRED, a Bangalore-based startup that is attempting to help Indians improve their financial behavior by paying their credit card bill on time, launched an instant credit line and apartment rental services.

Kunal Shah, the founder and chief executive of CRED, said the startup “fast-tracked the launch” of these two products as they could prove immensely useful in the current environment.

For a handful of startups, the pandemic has meant accelerated growth. Unacademy, a Facebook-backed online learning startup, has seen its user base and subscribers count surge in recent months and told TechCrunch that it is in the process of more than doubling the number of exam preparation courses it offers on its platform in the next two months.

Since March, the number of users who access the online learning service each day has surged to 700,000. “We have also seen a 200% increase in viewers per week for the free live classes offered on the platform. Additionally there has been a 50% increase in paid subscribers and over 50% increase in average watchtime per day among our subscribers,” a spokesperson said.

As with online learning firms, firms operating on-demand video streaming services have also seen a significant rise in the number of users they serve. Zee5, which has amassed over 80 million users, told TechCrunch last week that in a month it will introduce a new category in its app that would curate short-form videos produced and submitted by users. The firm said the feature would look very similar to TikTok.

The pandemic “has also accelerated the adoption of online services in India across all demographics. Many who would not have considered buying goods and services online are starting to adopt the online platforms for basic necessities at a faster pace,” said venture capitalist Kumar.

“As far as expansion into adjacent categories is concerned, some of this was a natural progression and startups were slowly moving in that direction anyway. The pandemic has forced people to get there faster.”

Roosh, a Mumbai-based game developing firm founded by several industry veterans, launched a new app ahead of schedule that allows social influencers to promote games on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, Deepak Ail, co-founder and chief executive of Roosh, told TechCrunch.

ShareChat, a Twitter-backed social network, recently acquired a startup called Elanic to explore opportunities in social-commerce. OkCredit, a bookkeeping service for merchants, has been exploring ways to allow users to purchase items from neighborhood stores.

And NowFloats, a Mumbai-based SaaS startup that helps businesses and individuals build an online presence without any web developing skills, is on-boarding doctors to help people consult with medical professionals.

Startups are not the only businesses that have scrambled to eye new categories. Established firms such as Carnival Group, which is India’s third-largest multiplex theatre chain, said it is foraying into cloud kitchen business.

Amazon, which competes with Walmart’s Flipkart in India, has also secured approval from West Bengal to deliver alcohol in the nation’s fourth most populated state. The e-commerce giant is also exploring ways to work with mom and pop stores that dot tens of thousands of cities and towns of India.

Last week, the American giant launched “Smart Stores” that allows shoppers to walk to a participating physical store, scan a QR code, and pick and purchase items through the Amazon app. The firm, which is supplying these mom and pop stores with software and QR code, said more than 10,000 shops are participating in the Smart Stores program.

Tons of ’80s stars turn adorable ‘Ferris Bueller’ cast reunion into a nostalgia trip of iconic John Hughes moments

Tons of '80s stars turn adorable 'Ferris Bueller' cast reunion into a nostalgia trip of iconic John Hughes moments

In the last episode of Josh Gad’s Reunited Apart for a while, the host and superfan brought together the cast of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, arguably the quintessential ’80s movie. Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, and Jennifer Grey joined Gad over video call for a chat about their memories of the shoot, as did Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett (who played Ferris’ parents) and Ben Stein, the economist and occasional actor responsible for “Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?” (He can also still do that improvised monologue about the Hawley-Smoot tariffs, and it’s still super boring.)

Gad also brought in Jake Gyllenhaal to quiz the cast on some seriously obscure Ferris trivia, and High School Musical director Kenny Ortega to talk about the one-take perfection and joyous legacy of the parade scene, which he choreographed. Read more…

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Lin-Manuel Miranda burns John Bolton for that ‘Hamilton’-inspired book title in freestyle rap

Lin-Manuel Miranda burns John Bolton for that 'Hamilton'-inspired book title in freestyle rap

With the filmed original cast performance of Hamilton hitting Disney+ next week, creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda returned to the Tonight Show for the first time since Jimmy Fallon’s first at-home show in March. Miranda, who also happens to have a documentary about his improv show Freestyle Love Supreme coming out next month, was game for a game called Random Object Freestyle.

Fallon held up a number of not especially random, suspiciously topical objects — including a Hamilton poster, a Broadway street sign, a box of popcorn, and a face mask — for Miranda to riff on lyrically. He didn’t bat an eye until Fallon revealed a copy of former national security advisor John Bolton’s tell-all Trump White House memoir, whose title happens to be a Hamilton reference.  Read more…

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The 15 best shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime

The 15 best shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime

Need a new binge?

We’ve looked through Amazon’s catalog for the best shows included with a Prime membership. So whether you’re searching for a snappy comedy, a historical adventure, or an emotional medical drama, we have you covered.

In no particular order, here are fifteen shows on Amazon Prime that you should be streaming right now.

1Upload

The 15 best shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime

Image: Amazon Studios, Prime Video/katie yu

Step aside, Space Force. Greg Daniels’ other new comedy is getting the good reviews.

Upload fast-forwards to the year 2033 when computer programmer Nathan decides to transport to a virtual afterlife. Though his new Lake View home boasts many thrills, he soon discovers that there’s a dark side to his arrival. It’s not The Good Place, but Upload’s take on the afterlife comedy is nonetheless fresh. Read more…

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Disney’s ‘Zenimation’ is the most soothing way to beat lockdown fatigue

Disney's 'Zenimation' is the most soothing way to beat lockdown fatigue

Like a lot of us right now, I was frazzled and bored and fed up with TV the night I clicked on Zenimation, a series of shorts that launched on Disney+ over the long Memorial Day weekend. My mind was open; it was also skeptical. There was no original animation to be found in the series; this was simply snack-sized chunks of Disney animation from across the years, arranged thematically into 10 episodes of around five minutes each. How could that not come across like a greatest hits compilation at best, and a 50-minute trailer at worst?

Yet once I’d blasted through the first three episodes, simply titled “Water,” “Cityscapes,” and “Discovery,” I found a level of peace and calm I haven’t felt since the coronavirus pandemic began. And that’s coming from someone who has been meditating more than normal since quarantine began, even running a global meditation contest over Zoom.  Read more…

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Helena Bonham Carter’s relatable quarantine video is pure chaos energy

Helena Bonham Carter's relatable quarantine video is pure chaos energy

Celebrity quarantine videos have ranged from the fantastic to the pandering. But Helena Bonham Carter and Sam Neill’s Das Fone Hell (a “Cinema Quarantino Production”) is by far the most relatable.

Neill shared the short film (which we can imagine making the rounds at the next Sundance) with his Twitter followers on Saturday, detailing its vast budget and sprawling production across two continents. What resulted from their efforts is two minutes of pure quarantine madness with an evocative meditation on the ills of digital life.

HELENA BONHAM CARTER stars in this groundbreaking Cinema Quarantino Production DAS FONE HELL. At vast expense, filmed on two continents over what (seemed like) five years , this profound and heartbreakingly candid insight into Modern Life will shake you to the core (Pilates 101) pic.twitter.com/aVXCfvAyfd

— Sam Neill (@TwoPaddocks) May 23, 2020 Read more…

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‘Swallow’ is the genre-bending treat to break your bingeing rut

'Swallow' is the genre-bending treat to break your bingeing rut

Few things delight me more than a multi-hour trailer binge. With a laptop on my desk and cup of tea by my side, I’ll swim though YouTube’s cinematic pool with no intention of watching the movies being marketed. It’s a reliable way to pass the time, an endless nowhere-to-be activity that alludes to the possibility of adventure but revels in monotonous sameness. It’s comforting, frivolous, relaxing, safe.

But every once in a while, my scroll will be disrupted by a teaser so startling I’ve got to watch the full film right then. Such was my experience with Swallow, a psychological thriller from writer-director Carlo Mirabella-Davis as inexplicably seductive as it is repulsive.  Read more…

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New ‘Artemis Fowl’ trailer teases major magical action, and a Disney+ release date

New 'Artemis Fowl' trailer teases major magical action, and a Disney+ release date

We got the first trailer for the long-awaited Artemis Fowl movie adaptation way back in November 2018, and the last teaser released on St Patrick’s Day still sported that May 29 “in theaters” date. Now, due to social distancing making cinema-going Not A Thing Right Now, Disney’s Irish-set supernatural family adventure will premiere directly in your living room via Disney+ instead.

Starring Ferdia Shaw as the pre-teen criminal mastermind, with Colin Farrell, Josh Gad, and Judi Dench along for the ride as Fowl’s father, a dwarf, and a fairy commander respectively, Artemis Fowl will arrive on the streaming service June 12. Read more…

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15 inspiring ‘Game of Thrones’ quotes to live by

15 inspiring 'Game of Thrones' quotes to live by

Regardless of how you feel about the ending of Game of Thrones, it was the world’s favorite TV show for a long, long time. Popular for its twists, intrigue, characters, and great dialogue, Thrones is still endlessly quotable years after any given episode aired. 

Westeros was a wild, terrifying place, and the kinds of people who lived there had a hard wisdom about them, some of which is pretty applicable to those who don’t live in a zombie and dragon infested wasteland with weird seasons and an unyielding dedication to the feudal system. 

Here are 15 Game of Thrones quotes to live by, whether you’re a Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, or just you.  Read more…

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Ruin your day with 9 completely cursed ‘Animal Crossing’ fan theories

Ruin your day with 9 completely cursed 'Animal Crossing' fan theories

Give us a nice thing, and we shall ruin it! 

It’s been less than a month since Animal Crossing: New Horizons graced the world with its wholesome presence. The delightful island-set, sandbox game from Nintendo has inspired stunning user creations, beautiful fan art, and heartfelt homages to other pop culture worlds we love. 

But it has also brought out the cursed, the horrid, and the truly terrifying. 

There are the atrocities we’ve committed, like trapping our neighbors, attacking visitors with axes, and amassing huge collections of tarantulas to sell to children for profit. And then there are the institutional terrors: the unexplained mysteries and disturbing evidence indicating a seedy underbelly to the “paradise” we’ve come to call our own. Read more…

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Original Content podcast: ‘The Platform’ offers a gruesome metaphor for capitalism

“The Platform” is not a subtle movie.

That’s true of its approach to horror, with intense, bloody scenes that prompted plenty of screaming and pausing from your hosts at the Original Content podcast. It’s also true of its thematic material — right around the time one of the characters accuses another of being communist, you’ll slap yourself on the forehead and say, “Oh, it’s about capitalism.”

The new Netflix film takes place in a mysterious prison, with two prisoners on each level (they’re randomly rotated each month). Once each day, a platform laden with delicious food is lowered through the prison. If you’re on one of the top levels, you feast. If you’re further down, things are considerably more grim, and can become downright gruesome as the month wears on.

“The Platform” is a hard movie to sit through, and it has other faults, like an irritatingly mystical ending. But it’s certainly memorable, and even admirable in its dedication to fully exploring both the logistical and moral dimensions of its premise.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:27 “The Platform” review
17:29 “The Platform” spoilers

Rick and Morty are back in town in new season 4 trailer

Rick and Morty are back in town in new season 4 trailer

There’s still a month to go before Rick and Morty returns on May 3 for the second half of its fourth season. It feels more like a lifetime away right now, especially considering how long March was. Fortunately, Adult Swim has dropped a new video to help us with the wait.

In a rollicking trailer set to Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back In Town,’ Rick continues to drag Morty through dangerous interdimensional hijinks in the fourth season’s final five episodes. This time, said exploits involve vats of acid, tentacled monsters, S.W.A.T., and running naked and screaming. The duo also get an “unnecessarily badass suit-up” though, so it isn’t all terrible. Read more…

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John Krasinski chats ‘The Office’ reunion with Steve Carell on cheery new show ‘Some Good News’

John Krasinski chats 'The Office' reunion with Steve Carell on cheery new show 'Some Good News'

Last week, John Krasinski asked his Twitter followers to share #SomeGoodNews as a little break from… well, all the news that isn’t very good. Now, that Twitter thread is a show, with Krasinski joining the pro late night hosts by turning his home office into an incredibly wholesome little DIY “news network for good news”, with some help from his kids’ graphic design skills. And, well, good news: turns out The Office star, A Quiet Place writer-director, and super ripped action star also makes a pretty decent YouTuber.

First up Jim John shares some of the highlights from his hashtag replies, from the global shows of appreciation for healthcare workers to sweet stories of (sigh) love in the time of coronavirus. (If all the stories of older people who can’t visit their spouses in nursing homes are ruining you, then be warned: there’s a doozy in here.) Read more…

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‘Birds Of Prey’ joins the list of movies coming to VOD early

'Birds Of Prey' joins the list of movies coming to VOD early

As major films slated for release over the next few weeks are bumped due to public health concerns around the spread of the novel coronavirus, movies released earlier in the year are coming to VOD earlier than originally planned. Depending on your level of cynicism, it’s either to capitalise on the huge numbers of people responsibly staying home to slow the spread, or to selflessly add to the vast catalogue of streaming entertainment people can access from their couches.

Either way, Birds Of Prey, aka Harley Quinn: Birds Of Prey, aka The Movie Formerly Known As Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn), will be made available on demand earlier than scheduled, hitting the small screen on Mar. 24 (alongside Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen) according to Fandango. Read more…

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Lady Gaga’s ‘Stupid Love’ video is a joyous alien desert rave epic shot on iPhone 11

Lady Gaga's 'Stupid Love' video is a joyous alien desert rave epic shot on iPhone 11

In a galaxy far, far away from the shallow, there is finally a new Lady Gaga single that has nothing to do with Bradley Cooper. 

The clip for ‘Stupid Love’, a regulation rah-rah-mode Gaga banger with arpeggiated synths for days, was reportedly filmed on an iPhone 11, with the Lady herself repeatedly tagging #ShotOniPhone as she teased the simultaenous drop of both track and vision.

Watch Gaga and her “Kindness Punks” battle it out with some help from a lot of brightly coloured latex, chains, and joyous, surprisingly accessible choreography you could totally learn in the space of an evening. But a lot of it is just the kind of loose, instinctive jumping and flailing you’re going to be doing to it on dancefloors for the next year.  Read more…

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BTS ‘Carpool Karaoke’ just dropped and it’s every bit as glorious as we’d hoped

BTS 'Carpool Karaoke' just dropped and it's every bit as glorious as we'd hoped

It’s finally here, folks. The big one. 

BTS Carpool Karaoke was first teased last week, in a tweet showing Corden packed into a vehicle with all seven members of the unstoppable K-pop boyband (RM, of course, sat up front) — and now we have the full episode itself.

In the 17-minute video above, we see BTS attempting to sing the Friends theme song, more successfully singing Bruno Mars’ “Finesse,” and Corden doing his best to become part of the band. Then to cap it all off, the group stop by a dance class after “Baby Mochi” Jimin says he wants to see “Papa Mochi” Corden dance.

The stakes were high, but BTS have, once again, more than delivered. Read more…

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Justin Bieber makes James Corden reveal how much he regrets being in ‘Cats’

Justin Bieber makes James Corden reveal how much he regrets being in 'Cats'

Give Justin Bieber a Pulitzer for this, the most hard-hitting interview of the year so far.

During the regular Late Late Show truth-or-icky-dare segment “Spill Your Guts Or Fill Your Guts” Bieber (or at least the producer who handed him the card) hit host James Corden with a tough question: on a scale of one to 10, how much does he regret doing Cats?

As always, it’s hard to know whether this question is genuinely a surprise to Corden, but he thinks about it hard, briefly considers opting to eat some cod sperm instead, then answers, it seems, truthfully. The number he gives is diplomatic, but his grimacing, umm-ing and aah-ing tells the real story.  Read more…

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‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ opening weekend box office runs rings around every other video game movie

'Sonic The Hedgehog' opening weekend box office runs rings around every other video game movie

Sonic The Hedgehog may be an empty cash grab slightly sweetened by an unhinged, perfectly calibrated Peak Jim Carrey performance, but it’s apparently what the people want.

The long-delayed, redesigned live-action Sonic movie finally opened last week and promptly smashed the opening weekend box office record for video game film adaptations.

'Sonic The Hedgehog' opening weekend box office runs rings around every other video game movie

Image: LEGALLY BLONDE / GIPHY

Blue Rat Creature: The Movie is estimated to hit $57 million domestically, with an extra $11 million projected for President’s Day on Monday, and an overall global weekend take of $100 million. (There’s no release date set in China yet — amidst the coronavirus crisis, lockdowns continue to hinder most everyday activities, which obviously includes going and sitting in large dark rooms in close quarters with a couple of hundred other people.) Read more…

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This deepfake of Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland in ‘Back to the Future’ is unreal

This deepfake of Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland in 'Back to the Future' is unreal

Out of all the faces to put on Doc Brown and Marty McFly in Back to the Future, I never knew how bad I needed it to be Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland.

This deepfake clip superimposes the faces of Downey Jr. and Holland over the original actors Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox, giving us an incredibly convincing glimpse at what it would be like if the Avengers themselves rebooted the 1985 classic Back to the Future. YouTuber EZRyderX47 did a very good job with this one.

Given the two actors’ history as Iron Man and Spider-Man, and the pseudo-father-son dynamic that happened in the Marvel movies, this seems like it would be a great fit for Downey and Holland. Or we could just deepfake their faces into the entire movie. Read more…

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Janet Jackson and The Roots’ cute classroom-instruments cover of ‘Runaway’ has one important change

Janet Jackson and The Roots' cute classroom-instruments cover of 'Runaway' has one important change

Janet Jackson joined The Roots and Jimmy Fallon for their Classroom Instruments cover challenge, and updated the lyrics of her classic hit “Runaway” for this dreamy version. The chill, globe-trotting cover is like a little holiday for your overloaded brain. 

The change is tiny, but a very good one. The line “I woke up with an Australian breeze / and danced the dance with Aborigines” has always grated a bit, as it’s best not to refer to Indigenous Australians as “Aborigines.” (Here’s a good explanation as to why.)

In this version, though, she’s changed it to “and danced the dance with Indigenous peeps,” possibly for the first time. (She can be seen singing the old lyrics at live shows as recently as 2018.) It’s a small tweak that totally works with the song, and the insensitivity of the original term probably wouldn’t even have registered with the vast majority of listeners — but the language we use about people matters, and being proactive about getting it right helps everyone have a good time. Yeah. Read more…

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PSA: Noah Centineo will absolutely destroy you in a water fight

PSA: Noah Centineo will absolutely destroy you in a water fight

There are certain things we all know to be good advice: Never work with children or animals, never get involved in a land war in Asia, and never start a water fight with a teen heartthrob.

Noah Centineo, the official internet boyfriend of 2018, probably went on The Tonight Show to promote To All The Boys 2, but there is no way the forthcoming Netflix sequel is as purely satisfying as watching him repeatedly drench an increasingly frustrated Jimmy Fallon with cold water.

What’s the best bit of this? Is it Centineo’s gleeful grin as he flings glasses all over the host’s fancy suit — starting with the crotch? Fallon’s barely concealed, possibly quite genuine, spluttering annoyance at being so comprehensively rinsed? The bit where the soaked lapel mics audibly squelch and go muffled and the pair glance like naughty children at, I’m assuming, half a dozen wincing sound techs? Read more…

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New ‘To All The Boys 2: P.S. I Still Love You’ trailer brings the drama to Lara Jean’s love triangle

New 'To All The Boys 2: P.S. I Still Love You' trailer brings the drama to Lara Jean's love triangle

Makeovers! Love triangles! Holland Taylor! The second official trailer for To All The Boys 2: P.S. I Still Love You has everything a great teen romance movie needs.

After an adorable Covey-sisters recap for anyone who hasn’t already watched To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before five to twelve times (pocket spin!), the new trailer for the sequel gives us a better look at how the recast John Ambrose McLaren (Jordan Fisher) might come between Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). Notably, they’re volunteering together (cute!) and Peter K is getting a bit green-eyed (less cute!). Read more…

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Comcast launches SportsTech startup accelerator with NASCAR and others

Comcast NBCUniversal believes its can access startup innovation while supporting future Olympic gold-medalists.

The American mass media company launched its new SportsTech accelerator today, based in part, on that impetus.

TechCrunch attended a briefing with Comcast execs at 30 Rock NYC to learn more about the initiative.

The SportsTech accelerator is a partnership across Comcast NBCUniversal’s sports media brands: NBC Sports, Sky Sports and the Golf Channel.

The program brings in industry partners NASCAR, U.S. Ski & Snowboard and USA Swimming — all of whose sports broadcast on Comcast NBC channels.

Starting today, pre-Series A sports technology startups can apply to become part of a 10-company cohort.

Accepted ventures will gain $50,000 in equity-based funding and enter SportsTech’s three-month accelerator boot camp — with sports industry support and mentorship — to kick off at Comcast’s Atlanta offices August 2020.

Boomtown Accelerators will join Comcast in managing the SportsTech program, with both sharing a minimum of 6% equity in selected startups.

Industry partners, such as NASCAR and U.S. Ski & Snowboard, will play an advisory role in startup selection, but won’t add capital.

An overarching objective for SportsTech emerged during conversations with execs and Jenna Kurath, Comcast’s VP for Startup Partner Development, who will run the new accelerator.

Comcast and partners aim to access innovation that could advance the business and competitive aspects of each organization.

From McDonald’s McD Tech Labs to Mastercard’s Start Path, corporate incubators and accelerators have become common in large cap America, where companies look to tap startup ingenuity and deal-flow to adapt and hedge disruption.

Toward its own goals, SportsTech has designated several preferred startup categories. They include Business of Sports, Team and Coach Success and Athlete and Player Performance.

SportsTech partners, such as NASCAR, hope to access innovation to drive greater audience engagement. The motorsport series (and its advertising-base) has become more device-distributed, and NASCAR streams more race-day data live, from the pits to the driver’s seat.

“The focus has grown into what are we going to do to introduce more technology in the competition side of the sport…the fan experience side and how we operate as a business,” said NASCAR Chief Innovation Officer Craig Neeb.

“We’re confident we’re going to get access to some incredibly strong and innovative companies,” he said of NASCAR’s SportsTech participation.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard — the nonprofit that manages America’s snowsport competition teams  — has an eye on performance and medical tech for its athletes.

“Wearable technology [to measure performance]…is an area of interest…and things like computer vision and artificial intelligence for us to better understand technical elements, are quite interesting,” said Troy Taylor, U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Director of High Performance.

US Ski Team

Credit: U.S. Ski & Snowboard

Some of that technology could boost prospects of U.S. athletes, such as alpine skiers Tommy Ford and Mikaela Shiffrin, at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

In a $7.75 billion deal inked in 2014, Comcast NBCUniversal purchased the U.S. broadcast rights for Olympic competition —  summer and winter —  through 2032.

“We asked ourselves, ‘could we do more?’ The notion of an innovation engine that runs before, during and after the Olympics. Could that give our Team USA a competitive edge in their pursuit for gold?,” said Jenna Kurath.

The answer came up in the affirmative and led to the formation of Comcast’s SportsTech accelerator.

Beyond supporting Olympic achievement, there is a strategic business motivation for Comcast and its new organization.

“The early insights we gain from these companies could lead to other commercial relationships, whether that’s licensing or even acquisition,” Will McIntosh, EVP for NBC Sports Digital and Consumer Business, told TechCrunch.

SportsTech is Comcast’s third accelerator, and the organization has a VC fund, San Francisco-based Comcast Ventures — which has invested in the likes of Lyft, Vimeo and Slack and racked up 67 exits, per Crunchbase data.

After completing the SportsTech accelerator, cohort startups could receive series-level investment or purchase offers from Comcast, its venture arm or industry partners, such as NASCAR.

“Our natural discipline right now is…to have early deliverables. But overtime, with our existing partners, we’ll have conversations about who else could be a logical value-add to bring into this ecosystem,” said Bill Connors, Comcast Central Division President.

Reading Isaac Asimov at 100

In his recently published book “Astounding,” the author Alec Nevala-Lee brings American science fiction’s Golden Age back into focus by following four key figures: John W. Campbell, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard — and Isaac Asimov, who officially turned 100 today (his exact birth date was unknown).

Nevala-Lee’s warts-and-all portrait paints Asimov — known to his fans as the Good Doctor — far more sympathetically than the genre’s other founding fathers. He’s charming and self-deprecating, generous to other writers and editors, a politically progressive thinker and a tireless defender of science and rationality.

But Nevala-Lee is clear about another aspect of Asimov’s story: He was someone who unapologetically groped women.

As recounted in “Astounding,” Judith Merrill said Asimov was known in his younger days as “the man with a hundred hands.” Harlan Ellison wrote, “Whenever we walked up the stairs with a young woman, I made sure to walk behind her so Isaac wouldn’t grab her tush.” And Frederik Pohl even recalled Asimov telling him, “It’s like the old saying. You get slapped a lot, but you get laid a lot too.”

And these aren’t the words of Asimov’s critics or detractors; they’re his friends and peers. Asimov’s habits were so well-known that in 1962, the chairman of the World Science Fiction Convention invited him to give a talk on “The Positive Power of Posterior Pinching.”

Foundation Hari Seldon

I’d already heard rumors about Asimov’s behavior back in 2014, when I wrote a birthday essay for BuzzFeed describing him as my favorite author. But I limited the piece to my personal relationship with his work — to the ways in which the Foundation and Robot books turned me into a lifelong science fiction fan, and how his wide-ranging nonfiction expanded my horizons.

Six years later, Asimov remains one of my favorites (alongside Ursula Le Guin, Samuel Delany and Philip K. Dick). And I’ve been happy to sing his praises when he’s in the news.

Still, it seems increasingly difficult to ignore the less admirable aspects of his personality. Fans, friends and other defenders might argue (as Ellison did) that “times were different,” that Asimov saw his behavior as “harmless” and that it’s a relatively minor blemish on his otherwise laudable career. But harassment at conventions is a serious problem, and if Asimov hadn’t died in 1992, it’s hard to imagine that he would have (or should have) escaped the #MeToo era unscathed.

Television critic Emily Nussbaum confronts some of these issues in her essay “Confessions of a Human Shield,” in which she asks, “What should we do with the art of terrible men?”

In the past, Nussbaum says she followed the conventional method of separating the art and the artist: “Decent people sometimes create bad art. Amoral people can and have created transcendent works. A cruel and selfish person — a criminal, even — might make something that was generous, life-giving, and humane.” But now, she admits that “the sociopath’s approach” no longer satisfies.

Robots of Dawn

That’s particularly true with Asimov, whose personality seems inseparable from his work. One of his strengths as a writer was his ability to be clear, conversational and personal. When you read one of his science books or essays, you come away feeling like your good friend Isaac has been explaining things to you in a way that you can finally understand. Even his science fiction is usually prefaced by autobiographical essays written in that same friendly voice.

So for me, it’s not simply a question of separating the art and the artist. It’s about acknowledging that so much of what’s admirable in Asimov’s writing seems to emanate from the man himself — and that, like or it not, he did more to shape my worldview than any other single writer, convincing me (as I put it six years ago) that “ideas matter and the universe can be explained” — while also acknowledging how indefensibly he treated women.

And in the end, it may be something simpler that poses the biggest threat to Asimov’s reputation — namely, the passage of time.

Science fiction has changed dramatically in the past decade, with a gratifyingly diverse group of writers reshaping the field. A new canon is forming, one that doesn’t center on Asimov, Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. As the writer John Scalzi put it, “Heinlein and Clarke and Asimov and etc were and are titans. But remember that the titans were overthrown by newer gods — and that those gods themselves were supplanted over time.”

Getty Images

This is probably how it should be. After all, Asimov’s work is very much of its era. Readers in 2020 and beyond will have an increasingly difficult time recognizing the future he depicted: a future without personal computers or the internet, and in which no one finds it remarkable that every single scientist, politician and person of importance is a man. (The major exception being the roboticist Susan Calvin, who’s still defined by her preeminence in a male-dominated field.)

Not that I think Asimov is about to fade into obscurity. In fact, Apple is producing a new TV+ series based on his Foundation stories, which take place over hundreds of years, depicting the efforts of a small group of scientists to rebuild civilization after the fall of the Galactic Empire.

So Asimov will probably be reentering the conversation soon. And despite my reservations, I’m glad.

Because for all the ways in which he might have missed major technological trends, and for all the ways in which his worldview was rooted in the 1930s and ’40s, Asimov still speaks to the challenges we face today. Not just in his famous Foundation and Robot stories, not just in the essays in which he defends science against religious fundamentalism, but also in “The Gods Themselves,” which I recently reread. Published back in 1972, the novel remains scarily prescient in its depiction of how humanity’s stupidity, greed and attachment to cheap energy can blind us to an existential threat.

And one of Asimov’s major subjects was the very passage of time that’s eroded his prominence in the field. His best work makes that it clear each generation will be eager to leave the last one behind, that it must face new problems with new ideas.

Despite his very real flaws as a writer and as a person, he encouraged us to search for those better ideas and work for that better future. That’s why his books will always have a place on my shelves. And that’s why I hope he’d be happy to give up some of that shelf space to writers who don’t look, think or write like him.

Making sense of the timeline in Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’

Making sense of the timeline in Netflix's 'The Witcher'

The Witcher‘s blend of fantasy, realism, and straight-up folk rock ballads make it one of the more interesting new shows to come out of Netflix in 2019. It is not, however, one of the streaming network’s most straightforward. 

Taking place over three timelines, The Witcher weaves all over the place and bamboozles its viewers on purpose, making it hard to discern where and when its characters are at any given time. Whether or not this timeline gambit effective is a question for another time, but for now it’s given Witcher fans (witchies?) a pretty puzzle to parse until Netflix releases Season 2. Read more…

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Snapchat will launch Bitmoji TV, a personalized cartoon show

Snapchat’s most popular yet under-exploited feature is finally getting the spotlight in 2020. Starting in February with a global release, your customizable Bitmoji avatar will become the star of a full-motion cartoon series called Bitmoji TV. It’s a massive evolution for Bitmoji beyond the chat stickers and comic strip-style Stories where they were being squandered to date.

Creating original in-house shows for its Discover section that can’t be copied could help Snapchat differentiate from the plethora of short-form video platforms out there ranging from YouTube to Facebook Watch to TikTok. Bitmoji TV could also up the quality of Discover, which still feels like a tabloid magazine rack full of scantly clad women, gross-out imagery, and other shocking content merely meant to catch the eye and draw a click.

With Bitmoji TV, your avatar and those of your friends will appear in regularly-scheduled adventures ranging from playing the crew of Star Treky spaceship to being secret agents to falling in love with robots or becoming zombies. The trailer Snapchat released previews an animation style reminiscent of Netflix’s Big Mouth.

TechCrunch asked Snap for more details, including how long episodes will be, how often they’ll be released, whether they’ll include ads, and if the company acquired anyone or brought on famous talent to produce the series. A Snap spokesperson declined to provide more details, but sent over this statement: “Bitmoji TV isn’t available in your network yet, but stay tuned for the global premiere soon!”

The Snapchat Show page for Bitmoji TV notes it is coming in February 2020. Users can visit here on mobile to subscribe to Bitmoji TV so it shows up prominently on their Discover page, or turn on notifications about its new content.

Snap realizes Bitmoji’s value

Snap has had a tough few years as many of its core features have been ruthlessly copied by the Facebook family of apps. Instagram Stories killed Snap’s growth for years and effectively stole the broadcast medium from its inventor. Facebook also ramped up it augmented reality selfie filters, added more ephemeral messaging features, and launched Watch as a competitor to Snapchat Discover.

Two years ago I wrote that Facebook was crazy not to be competing with Bitmoji too. Six months later we were first to report Facebook Avatars was in the works, and this year they launched as Messenger chat stickers in Australia with plans for a global release in 2019 or early 2020. But Facebook’s slow movement here, Google’s half-assed entry, and Twitter’s lack of an attempt have given Snapchat’s Bitmoji a massive headstart. And now Snap is finally leveraging it.

“TV” is actually a return to Bitmoji’s roots. The startup Bitstrips originally offered an app for customizing the face, hair, clothes, and more of your avatar and then creating comic strips for them to appear in. Snap acquired Bitstrips back in 2016 for just $64.2 million — a steal not far off from Facebook snatching Instagram for under a billion. The standalone Bitmoji app blew up as soon as Snapchat began offering the avatars as chat stickers. It had over 330 million downloads as of April according to Sensor Tower despite Snapchat now letting you create your avatar in its main app.

Eventually, Snap began expanding Bitmoji’s uses. In 2017 Bitmoji went 3D and you could start overlaying them as augmented reality characters on your Snaps. The next year Snap improved their graphics, then launched the Snap Kit developer platform and Bitmoji Kit. This allows apps to build atop Snapchat login and use your Bitmoji as a profile pic. Soon they were appearing as Fitbit smart watch faces, alongside your Venmo transaction, and on Snapchat-sold merchandise from t-shirts to mugs. It’s part of a wise strategy to beat copycats by allowing allies to use real thing rather than building their own knock-off. That’s fueled the “Snapback” comeback which has seen Snap’s share price climb out of the gutter at $5.79 at the start of 2019 to $16.09 now.

One of Snap smartest innovations was Bitmoji Stories — the ancestor to Bitmoji TV. These daily Stories let you tap frame-by-frame through short comic strip-style interactions starring your avatar. Occasionally Bitmoji Stories would include rudimentary animation, but most frames were still images with text bubbles. Bitmoji could once again drive a narrative, rather than just being a communication tool. Still, they seem underutilized.

In 2019, Snapchat wised up. Bitmoji have become nearly ubiquitous amongst teens and Snapchat’s 210 million daily users. They’re the Google or Kleenex of cartoonish personalized avatars. Their goofy nature is also a perfect fit for Snapchat, and a reason they’re tough for stiffer and older tech giants to convincingly copy.

In April, Snap announced its new games platform inside its messaging feature that let you play as your Bitmoji against friends’ avatars in games ranging from Mario Party ripoff Bitmoji Party to tennis, shoot-em ups, and cooking competitions. Snap injects ads into the games, making Bitmoji key to its efforts to monetize its central messaging use case. Last month it launched custom and branded clothing for Bitmoji, which could open opportunities to earn money selling premium outfits or showing off brand sponsorships.

To truly take advantage of Bitmoji’s unique popularity, though, Snap needed to build longer-form experiences with the avatars at the center that . Stickers and Stories and games were fun, but none felt like must-see content. With Bitmoji TV, Snap may have found a way to get users to drag their friends into the app. Since everyone sees their own Bitmoji as the star, the cartoons could be more compelling then ones with impersonal characters you might find elsewhere around the web.

But Bitmoji TV’s success will depend largely on the quality of the writing. If your avatar is constantly getting into funny, meme-worthy situations, you’ll keep coming back to watch. But Snap’s teen audience has a keen nose for inauthentic bullsh*t. If the Shows feel forced, too childish, or boring, Bitmoji TV will flop. Snap would be savvy to invest in great Hollywood talent to produce the episodes.

High quality Bitmoji TV shorts could rescue Snapchat Discover from its own mediocrity. There are a few strong brands like ESPN SportsCenter on the platform, and Snap has several original Shows with over 25 million unique viewers. It’s also greenlit additional seasons of Shows like Dead Girls Detective Agency and new biopic clips from Serena Williams and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Still, a scroll through the Discover and Shows sections reveals plenty of trashy clickbait that surely scares away premium advertisers.

Bitmoji TV could offer video that’s not only fun and snackable, but out of reach for competitors who don’t have a scaled avatar platform of their own. As with the recent launch of Snapchat Cameos, the company has realized that the most addictive experiences center on its users’ own faces. Snapchat turned the selfie into the future of communication. Bitmoji TV could make an animated recreation of your selfie into the future of content.

Here’s Chris Evans’ dog in a white sweater. You are welcome.

Here's Chris Evans' dog in a white sweater. You are welcome.

What could possibly be better than Chris Evans in the lush, luxe, off-white cable-knit sweater that broke the internet?

The matching version worn by his dog.

The sweater heard round the world — or, specifically, by someone sitting next to Mashable’s Nicole Gallucci at a screening of Knives Out during a moment of pure and overwhelming thirst, captured in a viral tweet — inspired waves of fans wearing similar items to screenings. 

Evans’ Knives Out character Ransom Drysdale may have been less than wholesome, but in our divided era, at least everyone can agree that Chris Evans wore the shit out of that knit. Read more…

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First reactions to ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ suggest that it’s… a lot

First reactions to 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' suggest that it's... a lot

Some people who are not you have now seen Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, and those people seem to have enjoyed it.

Of course, we won’t know its true legacy until a small handful of folks have collectively decided whether it is suitably respectful of their personal feelings and opinions.

It looks like it might take a while for everyone to work out their feelings, but here are some snap judgements from people who literally just walked out of the premiere, which was in Los Angeles on Monday night.

None of these tweets are spoilers, but just know this: The phrase “a lot” is popping up… a lot. Read more…

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Stephen Colbert roasts Republicans’ claim the impeachment hearings are ‘boring’

After the first televised impeachment hearings into Donald Trump and Ukraine on Wednesday, some people came away from watching highly respected U.S. officials add more damning evidence to an already-teetering pile wondering why they didn’t get a bit more of the ol’ razzle dazzle.

Republicans’ new line, after weeks of demanding public hearings, switched to a puerile cry of “Boringgggg!” with Kellyanne Conway saying it was “just a bunch of gossip girls.” As Stephen Colbert noted in his monologue Wednesday night, Gossip Girl was a very successful show, even if the ending left something to be desired. (Also, 13 million people watched the hearings; only 11 million watched the CMAs that same night.) Read more…

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Kristen Bell sings 17 different Disney songs in 5 minutes —including ‘Let It Go’

Holy clearance, Mickey! Who needs Disney+ when you have Frozen 2 star Kristen Bell (and also Jimmy Fallon) singing the best 17 seconds from 17 classic Disney songs?

Their takes on the overwrought duets of the 90s (and Fallon’s Elton John impression) rivals the ones you do alone in your car; and Bell’s “What do you call ’em? Oh, feet, duh” has me wishing they’d remake a bunch of Disney movies with dorky thirtysomething comediennes playing all the princesses. 

I don’t care whether you’re ‘Part Of Your World’ years old or ‘Let It Go’ years old — we were all kids once, and there’s a goosebumps moment in here for you.  Read more…

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The ‘League Of Legends’ Worlds opening ceremony was a huge holographic hip hop show

What’s better than a holographic Tupac? Holograms of rappers who are actually still alive and can consent to their images being used, you bunch of mercenary ghouls.

The League Of Legends worlds in Paris on Sunday night opened with a massive pre-show, culminating in the super-dramatic unveiling of a championship trophy that makes  the Triwizard Cup look like your chipped office mugs. 

But the centrepiece of the stage show was the first live appearance from True Damage, Riot’s latest in-game supergroup, which features champions Akali (her second musical project in the game), Yasuo, Senna, Ekko, and Qiyana.  Read more…

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Colbert mocks Republicans’ ‘desperate’ new impeachment defense strategy

Stephen Colbert summed up another weekend in the Trump era on Monday Night’s Late Show, and it still isn’t getting any less weird.

Between the president officially leaving New York City (for tax reasons) and Titanic-groping a baseball player at the White House as thanks for donning a MAGA hat, it’s been an interesting few days. Then, of course, there’s the impeachment latest.

In the face of House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff releasing transcripts of the inquiry testimony, which the GOP had been decrying as “secretive,” Colbert explains that some Trump defenders are thinking they might switch to a new tactic: admitting that there may have been a quid pro quo, then just trying to downplay the negative spin. Read more…

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HBO Max just announced how much you’ll pay for 10,000 hours of content

HBO announced on Tuesday that their streaming service HBO Max will launch in May 2020 for $14.99 a month (existing HBO customers and HBO Now direct subscribers will get it bundled for free), as well as a feature it calls “human-powered discovery.” 

“Talent & influencers will be the humans behind our Recommended by Humans feature, sharing the content they love and why it’s worth watching,” it announced in a tweet.

The service will also offer “co-viewing”, a joint profile that gives recommendations based upon joint views without interfering with personal profiles.

In addition, the company announced a Game of Thrones prequel as the crown jewel in their upcoming slate for HBO. Co-created by George R.R. Martin and Ryan Condal, the Targaryen prequel House of the Dragon will also be written by Condal, and both he and Miguel Sapochnik will act as showrunners. Read more…

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Original Content podcast: If you haven’t watched ‘Succession’ yet, what are you even doing?

You’ve probably already heard that HBO’s “Succession” (which recently completed its second season) is amazing. And as three East Coast tech reporters, we were probably the easiest targets for the show’s many charms.

Still, we felt like we had to talk about it. In fact, our “Succession” review on this episode of the Original Content podcast is perhaps our most epic discussion so far. And we probably would have gone for even longer, if we thought anyone would still be listening.

The series revolves around the Roy family, whose patriarch Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox) founded and still leads the Waystar Royco media empire. Throughout the course of the two seasons, his four children — heir apparent Kendall (Jeremy Strong), political fixer Shiv (Sarah Snook), snarky smart aleck Roman (Kieran Culkin) and libertarian weirdo Connor (Alan Ruck) — all take turns vying for their father’s attention and scheming against him.

All three of us loved “Succession,” but even without a long argument about the show’s merits, there was still plenty for us to debate: How a story with such morally bankrupt characters can still be so compelling, to what extend those characters are motivated by love versus hate versus greed (and whether they can even tell the difference) and who, in the end, deserves to sit on the corporate throne.

We also discuss next week’s launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+, and which shows we’re most excited about finally watching.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you want to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:41 Apple/Disney discussion
10:16 “Succession” spoiler-free review
25:50 “Succession” spoiler discussion

Let Ringo Starr, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots distract you with an adorable toy-instruments version of ‘Yellow Submarine’

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We all live in… a hell world that’s rapidly warming beyond compatibility with civilization and is also largely governed by micro-souled mooseknuckles! Fortunately, there are some nice things to distract us while we fail to reach for the emergency brake in this particular handbasket to hell, like the above video of Ringo Starr, The Roots, and Jimmy Fallon singing the sweet, damply utopian ditty “Yellow Submarine” accompanied by toy instruments.

Soon we will all live beneath the waves. Until then, let’s pretend we live in the sunny 2D-animated acid flashback that happened every time the other three Beatles let Ringo near the mic, bless him. Read more…

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Megan Thee Stallion officially kicks off ‘Hot Girl Fall’ with an autumnal banger (feat. Jimmy Fallon)

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From back-to-school supplies and pun Halloween costumes to pie-baking and drunk hayrides: Megan Thee Stallion’s teamed up with Jimmy Fallon to celebrate all the reasons leaf-peeping season is far, far superior to 2019’s warm weather mega-meme, Hot Girl Summer. 

“Nothing makes me hotter than some temperate weather / Cause the summer was dope, but the fall’s even better,” Meg informs us, pulling her turtleneck way up over her face and rocking plaid thigh-high boots.

Speaking of, Tariq, aka The Roots’ Blackthought, also jumped in for a verse about how much he really, really loves plaid.

Just don’t try and masc up the name, Jimmy. Hot Girl Fall (aka Thotumn) is for everyone. Read more…

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New Star Wars doc unravels the series’ funniest and most enduring mystery

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Most Star Wars fans are familiar with the famous A New Hope blooper where a random, nameless Stormtrooper doinked their head on a Death Star bulkhead. A true classic.

The identity of the clumsy Imperial soldier has been a mystery for as long as the movie has existed. And now, a new Jamie Stangroom documentary titled The Empire Strikes Door (omg), is poised to solve it.

This whole thing looks like a hoot, from the “Every generation has an idiot” tagline to the lineup of legitimate Star Wars celebrities who apparently lent their time to getting this thing made. I can’t wait to watch. It’ll be out Sept. 25 on Stangroom’s YouTube page. Read more…

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MoviePass is dead (for real this time)

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MoviePass, the once uber-popular movie subscription service, is shutting down. For real.

In a press release published on Friday and first noticed by CNBC, Helios and Matheson Analytics — MoviePass’ parent company — announced the shutdown of the service. Subscriptions will cease to work on Saturday.

“MoviePass notified its subscribers that it would be interrupting the MoviePass service for all its subscribers effective September 14, 2019, because its efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date,” says the statement. “The Company is unable to predict if or when the MoviePass service will continue.” Read more…

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Seth Meyers uses hilarious sports mascot fails to explain Trump’s John Bolton mess

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Look, nobody seems to really know what happened between Donald Trump and recently-former national security adviser John Bolton — not even the TV hosts who were getting texts from Bolton himself live on air, contradicting Trump’s tweets claiming Bolton was fired. But Seth Meyers does his best in Wednesday night’s A Closer Look segment.

After touching on Trump’s “scary stories” about refugees from Hurricane Dorian’s swathe of destruction in the Bahamas (“He should hold his rallies in the dark, holding a flashlight under his face — he’s like a racist Stephen King”), Meyers gets into the really terrifying stuff about John Bolton.  Read more…

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