HBO Says It’s Going to Start Selling on the Web Next Year. Maybe because Netflix now has more subscription revenue than HBO? But wait, is A la Carte the Worst Idea Anyone Has Ever Had?
The New York Review of Books recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding (previously), growing out of an alliance between Harpers editor Robert Silvers and writer Elizabeth Hardwick to find a place for what she called "the unusual, the difficult, the lengthy, the intransigent, and above all, the interesting." Known as the New York Review or the NYRB, it is also known to fans as the best magazine in the world. Next Monday, HBO will air The 50-Year Argument, a documentary by Martin Scorsese about the history of the magazine and what makes it special. [more inside]
In This Horror Film, Blood Is All Too Real [New York Times] ‘Terror at the Mall’ on HBO documents an Attack in Kenya.
One year ago, gunmen from the Shabab militant group in Somalia laid siege to the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Armed with AK-47s and grenades, they stalked their victims from a gourmet burger restaurant at the entrance to the vegetable aisle of a grocery store at the back. The British filmmaker Dan Reed assembled thousands of hours of footage gleaned from more than 100 security cameras inside the mall, video from television crews and modest cellphones, as well as still photographs. Then he and his team tracked down more than 200 people and interviewed 82 of them on camera, many survivors or their rescuers.[more inside]
Uneasy similarities between a famous scripted cable-TV show and an author with a devoted cult following lead to an expose
"I had been creating languages for 10 years. But everybody else applying was equally skilled. So I figured the edge that I had was pretty much an endless amount of time—I was unemployed. I just decided: Well, let's just try to create the whole thing. In those rounds of judging, I created about 90 percent of the grammar—which is ridiculous for two months. Then I created 1,700 words of vocabulary—which is equally ridiculous for two months. Overall, I produced about 300 total pages of material. I figure that was probably what put it over the top."
"When True Blood premiered on HBO almost six years ago, in 2008, the final Twilight book had just been published, breaking records left and right. The gleam's come off since then, off vampires in general and but especially this show, but I believe it still has some things to tell us. Things about philosophy, America, the existence of faith in a secular world. People fucking all kinds of different ways. Sometimes all of these topics at the same time." Jacob Clifton recaps and reviews the Six and a half seasons of True Blood so far, trying to suss out what we can learn from Sookie Stackhouse's many boyfriends.
Darren Aronofsky is developing Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy (Oryx and Crake, Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam) as an HBO series. Atwood says on Twitter that she's "met+ brainstormed with the Team and they're terrific!" Aronofsky had signed on with HBO in January.
Todd VanDerWerff at the A.V. Club is in the process of reviewing the 2001 HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. Episodes reviewed so far: Currahee --- Day of Days --- Carentan --- Replacements --- Crossroads --- Bastogne.
The entire first episode of John Oliver's new current-events comedy show on HBO, Last Week Tonight, is viewable on its official YouTube Channel. [more inside]
"Amazon and HBO on Wednesday announced a first-of-its-kind deal that will make HBO content available to Amazon Prime subscribers. ... Content covered in the new deal includes The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Eastbound & Down, Family Tree, Treme, Band of Brothers, John Adams, and early seasons of Boardwalk Empire and True Blood." No Game of Thrones yet, however. Read more here. And here.
The Mike Judge HBO series Silicon Valley premiered last night. The AV club calls it "incisive satire" (while comparing it [favorably] to Entourage). Some people in the real Silicon Valley are not happy about it. Maybe Silicon Valley will have the last laugh: HBO has put the first full episode on youtube.com.
Vanity Fair interviews George R.R. Martin about his plan for staying ahead of HBO.
HBO's controversial new True Detective series has sparked a renewed interest in an unlikely subject: an 1895 book called The King In Yellow. Praised by H. P. Lovecraft, the book is a collection of short stories in which a play called The King In Yellow is somehow involved. A play, which, in an alternate world, "could not be judged by any known standard" but in which it was "acknowledged that the supreme note of art had been struck" leaves its readers changed, and perhaps insane. It's inspired other authors (and the occasional imitator) ever since, and you can read it for yourself in your browser or, still free, on your e-reader. True Detective's bleak world view and story of lives tinged with madness fits right in, whether the mythology eventually pans out in the series or not.
'Looking': On Bottom Shame. The fifth episode of HBO's Looking, "Looking for the Future," focused solely on the relationship of Patrick and Ritchie. Ritchie will be your Rachel (and your Ross).
Last week's episode of True Detective featured a stirring tent-revival sermon from a wildly charismatic preacher. It was heavily edited with dialogue between the stars of the show. Nic Pizzolatto (the writer/creator of the series) thought it so good, he released the full 6-minute sermon for you to enjoy. [more inside]
Don't fight it. It's the year of the oral history. If there hasn't yet been an oral history on your favorite pop culture phenomenon, it won't be long. In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, how about starting with an oral history of Captain Marvel: The Series? Or perhaps you'd rather read about The Telluride Bluegrass Festival? If your taste runs more toward technology, check out an oral history of Apple design. More reading inside! [more inside]
In 1972, Tom Wolfe was assigned to do a piece for Rolling Stone on Apollo 17, NASA's last moon mission (Google book preview). That turned into a four-part series on the astronauts, written in a frantic three weeks. From there, he thought he could quickly expand the piece into a book (Gbp). But that book, on what makes an astronaut, ended up taking a much broader scope and more time. In 1979, The Right Stuff was published, and later was made into a well-regarded 3 hour movie. A few years later, Andrew Chaikin started on a similar path to Wolfe, more broadly documenting the US moon missions in his book, A Man on the Moon. The book was published in 1994, and HBO used it as the basis of a 12-part mini-series that they aired in 1998, titled From the Earth to the Moon. [more inside]
"Assault In The Ring" (originally called "Cornered: A Life in the Ring") is a film about a boxing match that took place between undefeated prospect Billy Collins Jr and Luis Resto. What began as a match turned into a life altering moment for both participants - Collins' career dreams ended and Resto and his trainer Panama Lewis landed in prison for their illegal actions. The subsequent investigation and trial have led many to declare this bout the darkest day in boxing history. But the film-maker doesn't stop there. He tracked down the surviving principals and arranged meetings among some of them, trying to see if the documentary can be an occasion for reconciliation or justice. Watch the film in its entirety on Youtube here.
The making of HBO's classic "Starship" feature presentation introduction clip. Also, what "Starship" may have looked like if done by Best Brains.
NPR and Vulture talk to Sarah Silverman about her HBO special 'We Are Miracles', and why women run comedy. Though according to Variety she shouldn't be so dirty... or maybe Variety should shut up.
Animals Were Harmed On the American Humane Association's relationship with Hollywood.
When we were little, Jaime and I were so much alike that even our lord father could not tell us apart. Sometimes as a lark we would dress in each other’s clothes and spend a whole day each as the other. Yet even so, when Jaime was given his first sword, there was none for me. “What do I get?” I remember asking. We were so much alike, I could never understand why they treated us so differently. Jaime learned to fight with sword and lance and mace, while I was taught to smile and sing and please. He was heir to Casterly Rock, while I was to be sold to some stranger like a horse, to be ridden whenever my new owner liked, beaten whenever he liked, and cast aside in time for a younger filly. Jaime’s lot was to be glory and power, while mine was birth and moonblood.Daniel Mendelsohn in the New York Review of Books on the Song of Ice and Fire as feminist epic. Previously.
Media Studies professor Anne Helen Petersen writes about the dominant role of Netflix in her students’ film and television consumption, and its effect on the lasting influence of works that are — or are not — available there:
Through this reliance on Netflix, I’ve seen a new television pantheon begin to take form: there’s what’s streaming on Netflix, and then there’s everything else…[more inside]
Embrace the mystery: Is repeat viewing the best way to approach complex TV?
Jail for sharing HBO Go passwords New York Times tech journalist Jenna Wortham made a confession that could be used to send her to prison for a year or more. What was the startling criminal admission? She uses someone else’s password to sign into the cable-subscriber-only HBO Go app to watch ‘Game of Thrones.’
Last month, HBO Documentaires released "Which Way Is The Front Line From Here? The Life And Times Of Tim Hetherington." It is a "posthumous recounting of one of the most impressive photojournalism careers to date." "'Restrepo' director has sorrowful Sundance return. [more inside]
Enlightened is TV’s best show right now—and it needs more viewers. Written by Mike White (School of Rock and Freaks and Geeks, among others) and starring Laura Dern (also the show's co-creator, Luke Wilson, Diane Ladd, and Timm Sharp (aka Marshall from Undeclared), the show has also seen an impressive line-up of guest directors, including Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs), Phil Morrison (Junebug), James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords), and Todd Haynes (I'm Not There). The show's range is astonishing – it depicts its main character as cringeworthily oblivious, yet also lets her deliver monologues which are unusually sincere for a comedy; some of its characters are ridiculous and absurd, while others are capable of deep melancholy. Mike White talks to Interview Magazine about creating Enlightened before its premiere; a year later, he talks to Indiewire about why people have such a hard time sympathizing with Amy.
Luck was a David Milch-created show on HBO last year. It was cancelled after one season. Some of you might have dug it. If so, you might also dig Out of Luck: "The following blog is the writer’s depiction of an imagined racetrack-based story, an ongoing saga, which includes some of the characters depicted in the ill-fated Luck series." It's written by John Perrotta who was a writer/producer/story editor on the show.
"Girls" is a bit of a hit. Although it lost out to "Modern Family" at the Emmy Awards, it continues to receive significant attention as the 2nd season gets underway. [more inside]
'I'm a White Girl': Why 'Girls' Won't Ever Overcome Its Racial Problem-an article from The Atlantic with several interesting links on the larger issue of including (or not) black characters into American television.
Lena Dunham shows her art-world roots in her 2009 web-series: Season 1 at Index Magazine, Season 2 at delusionaldowntowndivas.com. Meanwhile Season 2 of Dunham's HBO series "Girls" arrives Sunday night, expect online fireworks.
In Treatment was an HBO series that ran three seasons from 2008 through 2010. Adapated - often word-for-word - from the Israeli drama BeTipul, it depicted the weekly sessions of a psychologist (Emmy-nominated Gabriel Byrne) with his patients (including Debra Winger, Emmy-nominated Hope Davis, and, in her first American role, Mia Wasikowska) and with his own therapist (Emmy-winning Dianne Wiest). The filming of the series placed extraordinary demands on Byrne - which are well described in this interview with showrunner Warren Leight. (h/t: MCMikeNamara) You can watch its entire first episode here. (possible spoilers throughout)
Armando Iannucci's Bafta lecture 2012 - In which the creator of The Thick Of It argues that the BBC should be more aggressive, fight back against critics in the press and goverment, be more like HBO than committee-driven American network TV, and that if as James Murdoch says the only reliable, durable guarantor of independence is profit then the only guarantor of profit is independance.
Bringing VICE to HBO: To win over the cable network, the Vice team assembled a “best of” reel that included stories on North Korean labor camps, Liberia and the gun markets of Pakistan and later produced a pilot that included stories about Afghan suicide bombers and underground heroin clinics. [more inside]
"Citizenship is a tough occupation which obliges the citizen to make his own informed opinion and stand by it."
'The Hubris and Despair of War Journalism: What Martha Gellhorn teaches us about the morality of contemporary war reportage.' [more inside]
"The world of entertainment still, all too often, values women only as objects of beauty to be placed on screen and ogled. [...] [T]he world is full of other women who have profound, intelligent, often hilarious things to say, and Dunham is very quietly making a space for those voices on TV, in a way that’s revolutionary both in terms of the show’s gender politics and in terms of its presentation. - AVClub critic TodVanDerWerff on "how [the HBO show] Girls challenges the masculine expectations of 'good TV.'" [more inside]
HBO is now selling a life-size replica of the throne from “Game of Thrones,” its epic fantasy adapted from George R. R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” novels. [HBO-blue] The replica is made not from molten steel but from hand-finished, hand-painted fiberglass and fireproof resin, weighs 350 pounds and measures 7 feet, 2 inches tall; 5 feet 11 inches deep; and 5 feet 5 inches wide. HBO, which also offers artifacts and memorabilia inspired by its other original series, said in a news release about the throne that “calling it impressive is an understatement” but offered no advice on how to sit in a seat constructed from so many sharp and pointed instruments. [Via: NYTimes.com]
"First of all, we almost had no battle at all. For budgetary reasons we came very, very close to having all the action take place off-screen, the way plays have handled battle scenes for a few thousand years." - How the epic battle at the heart of the latest episode of Game of Thrones, Blackwater, written by George R. R. Martin and directed by Neil Marshall, came to be. Mentor relationships in Game of Thrones (and Mad Men). The National's Lannister song. And, perhaps sriking closest of all to the central themes of the show, Jezebel plays Game of Thrones: Marry, Fuck, Kill.
Consequences, Choices, Children in Crisis, Challenges. HBO’s multi-part research documentary The Weight of the Nation examines obesity in America in four parts, marshaling leading doctors, epidemiologists, economists, researchers, and community leaders to understand and explain the individual costs and public solutions to a multi-faceted social and individual problem. The documentary both explores large picture statistics, while giving voice “to those that often too seek to be invisible: members of the nearly 70 percent of Americans currently diagnosed as overweight or obese. (AV Club Review)” [more inside]
Anti-piracy measures have made life difficult for those who actually pay for content, games, music, etc. DirecTV has blocked HBO (apparently at their request) over HDMI by use of HDCP. Suddenly, subscribers with older HD sets are not able to watch HBO and soon other premium channels. The solution? Use component cables or get a new TV.
With Season 2 of Game of Thrones to begin on Sunday, it's important to review the various life and parenting lessons we've learned from the show.
HBO Documentary: Child of Rage: (1989) "Story of Beth, a six-year-old child who had faced the loss of a mother, physical abuse, and sexual abuse all before the age of 19 months. Both Beth and her younger brother Jonathan were put up for adoption. They were adopted by a minister and his wife. This unsuspecting couple quickly learned that something was extremely wrong with Beth. This terrifying and disturbing documentary traces Beth as she goes through therapy in Colorado. The video explains that Beth suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder. [Via]."
A comparison of Sarah Palin's media appearances versus Julianne Moore's reenactment of them in the movie Game Change.
Grantland held a March Madness-type bracket this past week to determine the greatest character from HBO's 2002-2008 series "The Wire". The idea came from a conversation between Grantland's Editor-in-Chief, Bill Simmons, and President Obama. Voting took place via Grantland's Facebook page. Spoilers from the results and TV show are within. [more inside]
The company that creates digital effects for Boardwalk Empire has put together the before and after shots from Season Two.
HBO's Game of Thrones was a huge hit (with some controversy and rebuttals of same), securing a second season only two days after its debut. Filming of said season finished on December 11th and now the production crew is pulling all the pieces together for the April 2012 start of season 2. A few details have officially and unofficially come out, details after the jump: [more inside]
After the success of No Direction Home, Martin Scorsese has turned his documentary eye toward another 60s musician. On October 5 and 6, George Harrison: Living In The Material World will run on HBO in two parts. The film has already played some film festivals and gotten great reviews. [more inside]