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With ‘The Breaks,’ VH1 revisits the ’90s hip-hop scene when success … – Los Angeles Times

Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:12 am

Outside, the world is abuzz aboutDonald Trumps presidency and the latest Kanye controversy. But inside this downtown New York building, the clock has been turned back to the early days of hip-hop.

Cameras are rolling on the set of the new VH1 series The Breaks, as a miffed music manager has burst into the offices of the Village Voice.

Its not the sort of thing you do,the manager, Nikki, fumes to a reporter.

Im not you, Nikki, Im a journalist. The truth is non-negotiable,the music writer fires back.

A moment later, the episodes director pumps her fist.

Cut it, print it, kill it. You got it,says Neema Barnette. Then the directorturns to a reporter to offer some finer context on the divisions inhip-hop at the time.See, Im a Harlem girl. Biggie, thats Brooklyn. Jay Z. Well JayZ is Jay Z.

The Breaksis a time machine of sorts and not just because of the outsized influence of the Village Voice. Chronicling an era when hip-hops role as a spark for both mass protest and mass commerce was just an ember, the eight-part series marks a new entry in scripted televisions growing rap canon.Where Empiredropped a soap opera into the contemporary hip-hop world and The Get Downexamined a birth moment in the late 1970s, The Breakssplits the difference.

Set in New York in 1990, the show lands at the cusp of thegolden age ofhip-hop a genre too new for anyone to know where it wouldgo, but too promising (for some) not to believe that the destination would besomewhere significant.

That period was very violent and very rough, but also very innocent in a lot of ways, especially the music,saysSeith Mann, a veteran director of shows such as The Wireand a co-creatorof The Breaks. And thats what we want to capture in the show how hip-hop grew from that innocence to a dominating business, how people in the arc of a season try to make choices so that they can make art.

Some of them,he addsdryly, wont stay innocent.

Picking up where a 2016 VH1 original movie left off, The Breaksfollows the interlocking lives of a group of people with various roles in the burgeoning sphere. Theres a trio of strivers that includes a wannabe producer, Deevee (Mack Wilds), the management acolyte Nikki (Afton Williamson) and a rookie radio-station programmer David (David Call). They cross paths withvoluble mini-mogul Barry (Wood Harris), a talented but gang-affiliated MC (Antoine Harris, no relation to Wood) and the thirsty reporter, Damita (Melonie Diaz).

Inspired by Dan Charnasacclaimed nonfiction history The Big Payback(Mannsfellowco-creator),The Breaksincludes among its executive producers John J. Strauss, an executive producer on Mozart in the Jungle,another show about dogs eating dogs in a musical subculture.

As with that Amazon Prime video series, the multiple plot lines of The Breaks nearly all involve characters desperately seeking to carve out their place in a world Nikki trying to establish herself in Barrys company, Damita looking to be the genres go-to chronicler whose animating principle remains more passion than money (though the latter is not entirely absent).

The Breaksis set a few years before artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, De La Soul and Wu-Tang Clan began flexing their cultural influence and solidifying hip-hops East Coast movement.

I think theres something really romantic about it; it just seems like a more dreamy era,says Wood Harrisduring a break in shooting. It felt like a time anyone could be a mogul and with a beeper, which if you tell a young person about now, they will laugh,he says, chuckling as he gesturesto a prop on his belt. Or think its something that only exists on YouTube.

That’s hardly the only playful affect: “The Breaks” brings the dorkily endearing names of the era (“Chuck Chillout”) as well as the baggy and colorful fashions. Theres also another kind of wink-y appeal to The Breaks.Much of the show plays on the audiences familiarity with how much rap blew up.In the second episode, when Deevee argues with his hospital-worker father who wants to send Deevee to South Carolina because he doesnt think his son is involved in a real business the audience can nod knowinglyat the younger mans insistence on hip-hops bright future.

Still, the creators say theyre intent on driving home how precarious a moment it was for the genre.

It wasnt inevitable that hip-hop would become as massively popular as it did,Mann says. Hip-hop in those early days was dicey it could have gone the way of disco and go-go.

Nor was it clear who would document its ascent. Though hip-hop journalism at the time had a heavily male component, producers tip their Snapbacks to pioneers like Raquel Cepeda and dream hampton.I think what surprised me is how much women were involved in covering it and bringing the news to the wider world,Diaz says. Its just not something you hear about a lot.

Those looking for a heavy original musical component to the show may be only partly satisfied. While bits of new songs, written by former Little Brother member Phonte Coleman and produced by DJ Premier,are heard,the creators chose to focus more on dialogue and character than beats.

Overt references to real-life figures also are somewhat scant, though tracks from Public Enemy, already well-established by 1990, are present, as arefictional portrayals of new jack swing artists like Keith Sweat. (This fictionalization is by design, say Seith and Charnas, giving them freedom to create without becoming caught in a tangle of rights and legal action.)

Charnas says he actually pitched the series to Fox as far back as 2010, long before Empire,and was met with indifference and even confusion. He soon landed at the shows current venue.

Everyone at VH1 got it right away,saysthe author, who often serves a truth-checking role on setthat has ledcolleagues to dub himthe Treasurer of the authenticity bank account.

The Breaksmakesa lot of sense for the network,said Chris McCarthy, president of MTV, VH1 and Logo.VH1 has always been comfortable both with looking back and celebrating the present.So, hip-hop in the 90s is a very natural place to be.

In recent years, the network has developed a programming slate that draws a large female African American audience, including reality franchises such as Love &Hip-Hopand Basketball Wives.But scripted is a more expensive undertaking, and if the appeal for a hip-hop show stretches into broader demographics, the accompanying risk grows too.

Also debatable is whether televisions hip-hop era has reached its saturation point.

After a breakout first season, Empirefell off a cliff both in the ratings and, to many observers, creatively, while The Get-Downmade a comparatively small splash in Netflixs zeitgeist pool. Hip-hop may now be such a cultural given that the idea of how it emergedis only of modest interest.

Creators of The Breakssay anyone taking that view ismaking a mistake.

I dont think Obama is president without hip-hop it brought so much into the mainstream,saysCharnas, who underscored that connection in The Big Payback.

What’s interesting about the time and hopefully the show is the unwitting heroes in hip-hop. A lot of people who werent setting out to change the world were the ones who did.

The Breaks

Where: VH1

When: 9 p.m. Monday

Rating: TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14)

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour

steve.zeitchik@latimes.com

Twitter:@ZeitchikLAT

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With ‘The Breaks,’ VH1 revisits the ’90s hip-hop scene when success … – Los Angeles Times

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‘Liberals will continue to lose’: Bill Maher defends Milo Yiannopoulos booking after panelist boycotts – Washington Post

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:45 am

Journalist Jeremy Scahill, a frequent panelist on Real Time With Bill Maher, was booked to appear this Friday but canceled after he found out Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos would also be a guest. Yiannopoulos is known for his provocative stories with such headlines as Gay rights have made us dumber, its time to get back in the closet. He was also permanently banned from Twitter last year a feat that takes some doing. Among his transgressions was targeting SNL comedian Leslie Jones, calling her barely literate, and rallying his hundreds of thousands of followers to direct racist, sexist missives to her. (She briefly quit Twitter over the abuse.)

[Just how offensive did Milo Yiannopoulos have to be to get banned from Twitter?]

Scahill, a founding editor of the Intercept, explained himself on Twitter. He took great pains to express his admiration for the producers and writers of the show. He even sang the praises with a few big caveats of host Maher. But he called Yiannopouloss appearance many bridges too far.

He has ample venues to spew his hateful diatribes, Scahill wrote. Appearing on Real Time will provide Yiannopoulos with a large, important platform to openly advocate his racist, anti-immigrant campaign.

Maher responded to Scahills criticism and doubled down on his decision to have the provocateur as a guest.

Liberals will continue to lose elections as long as they follow the example of people like Mr. Scahill whose views veer into fantasy and away from bedrock liberal principles like equality of women, respect for minorities, separation of religion and state, and free speech, Maher said in a statement, according to Entertainment Weekly. If Mr. Yiannopoulos is indeed the monster Scahill claims and he might be nothing could serve the liberal cause better than having him exposed on Friday night.

Maher also addressed Scahills criticism of his views on Islam. My comments on Islam have never veered into vitriol, Maher said.

Scahill isnt the first person to take issue with the way Maher discusses Muslims. During one episode, Ben Affleck attacked the host and panelist Sam Harris for their racist comments about the religion. (Harris called Islam the mother lode of bad ideas.)

Maher, a champion of free speech, often builds his shows around guests with widely varying views to promote lively debate. Earlier this month, he hosted staunch Trump supporter Tomi Lahren alongside Republican strategist Rick Wilson and Missouri Democrat and Afghanistan veteran Jason Kander. Ann Coulter, another specialist in inflammatory rhetoric, has also been a frequent guest.

[Bill Maher hosted conservative Tomi Lahren on Real Time. They were both preaching to their own choirs.]

The University of California at Berkeley canceled a talk by inflammatory Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos and put the campus on lockdown after intense protests broke out on Feb. 1. (Video: The Washington Post / Photo: AP)

Yiannopoulos is no stranger to boycotts. Earlier this year he was scheduled to make an appearance at University of California, Berkeley, but violent protests broke out around the campus with demonstrators setting off fireworks and throwing bricks. University police ultimately canceled the event, which in turn prompted President Trump, in an early morning tweet, to threaten to pull the public universitys funding.

So far Yiannopoulos hasnt weighed in on the controversy on Facebook a social media account hes still allowed to have.

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‘Liberals will continue to lose’: Bill Maher defends Milo Yiannopoulos booking after panelist boycotts – Washington Post

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To Boldly Cruise Where No Couple Has Cruised Before – Bloomberg

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:36 pm

On her left upper arm, Allison Holmes has a tattoo of an octopus with pointy Vulcan ears wrapping its tentacles around a spaceship that resembles an elongated VW camper. The Spocktopus is a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, who played the half-Vulcan, half-human Mr.Spock on the originalStar Trektelevision series. It was inspired by old science fiction posters, says Holmes, 33, of SanAntonio. Holmes is a self-described Trekkie, though that probably goes without saying ifyoure showing off Spock-inspired body art. Especially if youre showing it off in a hot tub aboard theNorwegian Pearlas it sails through the Western Caribbean on the first-everStarTrek: The Cruise.

Joining Holmes in January were Trekkies from as far away as Australia and New Zealand, their suitcases full of costumes and body paint. Shorts and bathing suits were the favored daywear, but at night fans emerged from their cabins dressed as Vulcans, fierce-looking Klingons, antennaed blue Andorians, and green Orions. There were also several reptilian Gorn and YeomanRand look-alikes with beehive hairdos. Didnt get any of these references? Then this cruise was definitely not for you.

Star Trek screening in the central room.

Photographer:Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

You might not think of wannabe Klingons as people who leave their parents basements much, let alone as sun-and-fun types. But superfans such as Holmes make up one of the newest and most enthusiastic groups hitting the high seas. Music themes have dominated the industry for years, but cruises are increasingly embracing other forms of pop culture. In addition to theStar Trektrip, fans are filling ships for shows includingThe Walking DeadandProperty Brothers, where the Scott brothers held Q&A sessions about design, signed autographs, and sang karaoke. Oprah is going to attend anO, The Oprah Magazinecruise to Alaska in July, and the publication, with partner Holland America line, is running four additional theme cruises this fall and next year. There is a tremendous sense of camaraderie on these cruises, says Howard Moses, a travel agent who also runs the website Theme Cruise Finder. Its nice to know that people you meet at dinner share yourpassion.

Angela Vaughan (left)

Photographer:Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

Its also nice for the cruise lines, which see themed events as a way to draw new clientele. Third-party production companies book entire ships, usually during what would otherwise be cruisings fallow season; fans care more about the what of the experience than the when or where. And theyre willing to spend. The average fare paid by the 2,300passengers on the six-dayStar Trekcruise was $2,400 per person, more than double Norwegian Cruise Lines typical January rate.

Since the first theme cruises set sail about 30years ago, theyve become a bigger and bigger part of the industry. Moses site recorded 150 in 2012. Today there are 600-plus listings. Included are small group gatherings and shipwide takeovers. Music and superfan charters have become such an attractive business that in 2012 Norwegian bought Sixthman, a production company in Atlanta that began staging Festivals at Sea each year; the 2017 lineup includes cruises featuring Pitbull, Kid Rock, Kiss, acts from the Warped Tour, outlaw country musicians, and the funny men of the TruTV showImpractical Jokers. The purpose of a theme cruise is orange juice concentrate, says Michael Lazaroff, executive director of Entertainment Cruise Productions and the mastermind behind theStar Trekvoyage. We are providing fans with a chance to experience their passion in the most intense possible way.

Lazaroff and his team started talking with CBS, owner of theStar Trekfranchise, in the summer of 2015. As it happened, CBS had been looking for ways to celebrate the 50thanniversary of Gene Roddenberrys creation, which went on the air in 1966. We considered developing aStar Trekcruise for fans for some time, and the 50th anniversary seemed ideal, says Veronica Hart, senior vice president for CBSs consumer-products division. She adds that the stars aligned when William Shatner, 85, Captain James T. Kirk in the original series, signed on to host. He wasnt cheap, Lazaroff says.

That September, Lazaroff and his staff headed to the annual LasVegasStar Trekconvention to test fan reaction. The website we had wasnt ready to take reservations, he says. Interest was overwhelming, and his team cobbled together an online sign-up. We just threw it up, and next thing we knewboom!we were done. The cruise sold out in three weeks, although many who booked had never attended aStar Trekconvention, according to a precruise survey. Hart says the experiences arent mutually exclusive: The cruise is a completely unique, immersive experience.

Diane Ahlberg and Sherry Quinn.

Photographer:Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

The Pearl was tricked out with references to the showsthe original series,Next Generation,Deep Space Nine,Voyager,Enterprise, andDiscovery, which is set to premiere this Mayand films. Special signage transformed elevators into turbolifts. The ships specialty restaurants incorporated the names of characters into dishes such as Vic Fontaines chateaubriand, which was named forDeep Space Nines holographic lounge singer.

Programming included the Q&As and the autograph and photo sessions youd find at a convention; autographs cost $25 to $35, depending on the actor, and photos were $40. Klingon foreheads ran $45. Shatner, whose contract mandated that he pose for one photo per cabin, joked to the crowd about how cute Chris Pines portrayal of Captain Kirk is in the latestStar Trekmovies, talked physics and global warming, and attempted to answer fans requests for details about his experiences on set.

Debbie Fisher (left) and Stephanie and David Batchelder.

Photographer: Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

Passengers could also attend a no-fee yoga class hosted by Terry Farrell, aka Jadzia Dax,Deep Space Nines Starfleet science officer; play blackjack with Marina Sirtis, aka the half-human, half-Betazoid Deanna Troi onNext Generation; and attend a happy hour with Denise Crosby, aka Tasha Yar, briefly theUSS Enterprises chief of security onNext Generation. Special actor-led shore excursions to Cozumel and the Bahamas, which cost $75, up from the normal $50, sold out before the ship set sail. A lecture by theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, author ofThe Physics of Star Trek(1995), drew a standing-room-only crowd. FormerSaturday Night Livecast member Joe Piscopo, who guest-starred as a comic on an episode ofNext Generation, got multiple standing ovations for a nighttime set.

If thePearlwasnt quite a floatingEnterprisethe crew didnt wear Starfleet uniformsthere were constant references to boldly going and warp speed. The mood was friendly and accepting. Its nice to be among your people, says Holmes of the Spocktopus. You see a lot of cool costumes and a lot of people really, really geeking out. Her parents were also on board, and she and her husband, Allen, 33, have already booked a penthouse for the first of two moreStar Trekcruises that will take place next year, both hosted by George Takei, who played Sulu, the helmsman on KirksEnterprise.

Janyce and Mike Wright

Photographer: Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

The cruisers knew their stuff. At a trivia contest with Max Grodnchik, who played Rom, a large-eared Ferengi onDeep Space Nine, passengers rushed to call out answers to questions such as In the Enterprise Incident episode, the Romulan commander offers Spock what? (Answer: The Right of Statement.) During a $40pub crawl with Robert OReilly, Gowron fromDeep Space Nine, passengers showed off their Klingon language skills. One man pounded his feet as he sang the words to several Klingon battle songs. OReilly was impressed.

In one session, Rabbi ElizaBeth Beyer, 57, and her husband Tom, 63, of Reno, Nev., renewed their wedding vows at a ceremony officiated byDeep Space Nines Farrell. Married 35years and wearing Starfleet uniforms, they repeated vows written by Jordan Hoffman, host ofEngage: The Official Star Trek Podcast. They referenced phasers and Tribbles and holodecks and, near the end, said, You are the bridge to myEnterprise, you are the captain to my starship.

Inside the ship’s elevator.

Photographer:Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

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Humons presents an atypical dance evolution – Detroit Metro Times

Posted: at 9:22 pm

El Club in Southwest Detroit is littered with glow sticks, blow-up palm trees, and balloons. A pair of DJs with skipper hats on are warming up the room with tech-house jams. A few people are already dancing. Unaware this was a themed party, I’ve got a tiny umbrella in my gin and tonic.

The vibes are warm and fresh, and for a minute, I forget we’re in the middle of a Detroit winter. My friend picks up a balloon to volley across the room. The balloon says “Humons.” We smile to each other and watch it bounce from human to human until it finds an empty, human-less zone. Both of us track its slow and graceful surrender to the floor while activity whirls around us. So far this is what the night is observing, human-watching girls dressed in smart ’90s rave garb, and boys in sweaters, Hawaiian leis, and knit caps.

Washed in a zig-zagging row of bright white lights, two figures emerge onstage. My focus locks on the mic where the man behind the music stands in a royal blue bomber jacket, accompanied by a drummer, who wears a neon green cap on top of a mess of long curly hair. Starting from their single, “Underneath,” the show progresses seamlessly, and by the end I’m elbowing my friend, going, “Who knew this would turn into a house show!”

Humons is the creation of Ardalan Sedghi aka Ardi. He’s unassuming, with an honest face and an effortlessness about him. He’s not trying to win your affection; he’s here the same reason you are, to share something with the community he moves within. There’s a feeling it was never his intention to get attention, yet here we are.

“I’ve been writing music since I was a young lad in middle school… that would be around 2003,” Ardi says. “Humons started in 2013 and that is the first time I had set to write and release music with some sort of intention or coherent theme.”

His setup is simple: a laptop for some backing tracks, a keyboard, a controller designated to a drum machine, and a small vocal effects box that’s locked on the mic stand. Oh yeah, and there’s the mic. Humons would be a complete one-man live operation if not for the addition of drummer Mike Higgins, which Ardi says, “definitely stepped the live show up a notch. I’m grateful to have his talent and energy onstage.”

An eclectic mix of minimal electronic, pop, and experimental sonic animation born from a process and method that continues to evolve with each track Humons draws most of their influence from Detroit. “We are blessed with some of the world’s best electronic music be it at Movement or at TV Lounge on any weekend,” Ardi says.

At this El Club show, the material Humons is sharing is the recently released Spectra EP most of which was recorded at Ardi’s home studio, “aka my bedroom,” he says, “but I did some additional recording at Assemble.” The mixing and mastering for Spectra EP were done at Assemble with producer/engineer Jon Zott (Tunde Olaniran, JRJR, BRNS, ect.). “He is absolutely great to work with,” Ardi says of Zott. “He took the EP to the next level with his production prowess.”

The album, while pristine in its original form, will be reimagined into a full package of remixes that will come out each week over the next five weeks. The first, a remix of “Underneath” by Detroit-based Mega Powers already dropped at the beginning of the month. Other Detroiters who will join the party are Jon Zott and Monty Luke. Elsewhere, there is Color War from New York and Diamondstein from Los Angeles. “It’s a cool project for me,” Ardi says, “not only because I’m a fan of what all of them are doing musically, but also because three of the five artists were involved with either Spectra EP itself or were a part of the EP release party.”

Having lived in Detroit for the last five years, Ardi is cognizant of the limitations of such a city, as well as the undeniable benefits, which, at times feel like intangible energies rather than citable stats supporting the fact that Detroit is indeed growing from more of an artist “launching pad” to something of a viable “home” meaning that artists won’t have to keep leaving to expand their reach, their creativity, their income. But maybe leaving is also part of a necessary process, an experience that any creative might eventually embark upon. One has to remain open, become cultured, grown in a scope that is not always accessible so far removed from the entertainment capitals of the world. We’ve all noticed a definite shift, growth, and rebirth in Detroit over the years, but I was curious of Ardi’s thoughts on what has changed to alter the struggle. The fan base? Raise the ceiling? I had to ask.

“As with most places there’s definitely pros and cons,” Ardi says. “It’s easy to survive as an artist financially and there is a lot of hidden talent here, but it’s hard to grow beyond a certain level because the industry hasn’t been around for a while and there simply aren’t that many folks living in the city to build a local following.”

If that sounds like the same old problems, well they are, but Ardi seems confident that things are gaining important momentum.

“In the past, it’s felt a bit isolated in terms of everybody just doing their own thing, but I think that’s starting to change, especially with groups like Assemble Sound,” he says. “I’m definitely hopeful about the music scene here, as we start building resources and connections helping our local talent develop into its potential.”

That said, Ardi is playing it safe Humons isn’t a full-time gig. “Both from a financial and a personal standpoint, I don’t think it’s the move for me right now,” he says.

Not surprisingly, being able to support yourself as a full-time artist is one of those unicorns of the industry a fantasy for most, rare way of life for some those who have talent, luck, dedication, and an amazing work ethic on their side. That said, sometimes that part-time job is fuel too offers balance. We’ve always been a working-class city. Maybe that balance of jobby-job and artist is unique to what makes Detroit artists such an impressive breed as it’s a lifestyle that begs respect rather than the opposite.

“I have been putting in more energy and time into it since about last October leading up to the release of Spectra EP,” Ardi says. The opportunity was there to keep on keeping on a natural progression of well-timed successes and good live shows that has allowed Humons the pleasure of riding out that wave.

As for the future, Ardi isn’t making any predictions, just figuring out his personal evolution as it goes. “I’m getting more and more interested in dance being a main goal as it relates to live shows,” he says. “There is such a great energy that comes with a group of people dancing together.”

This interest will likely translate to the next batch of songs he’s writing alongside aforementioned co-producer Jon Zott and drummer Michael Higgins. This year they’ll all be in the midst of creation, getting heady in the studio, having fun, vetting out ideas, and learning in the process.

“It’s a good challenge,” Ardi says, “and I think the result will be great with the live drums and synth takes.” He hopes to have a new album available by the end of the year.

Other than that, Humons is working on designing some T-shirts. As to his long-term plans, he’s keeping it pretty loose. Ardi doesn’t imagine a typical music career for himself atypical is more of his flavor anyway, but his goal maintains a basic simplicity. “I want to keep writing music, getting better, playing live shows, and building an audience so that the music is being heard and enjoyed.”

The tracks mentioned in this article can be found at soundcloud.com/humons.

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Virtual reality industry ‘in need of a jump-start,’ Imax CEO says at new VR center – Los Angeles Times

Posted: at 9:21 pm

Richard Gelfond, chief executive of big-screen company Imax Corp.,unveiled his new virtual reality center Tuesday with a bullish plan to turn the nascent VR industry into a mainstream art form just like movies and video games.

It wont be easy. The VR business, Gelfond said, remains stuck in its early stages for now and badlyneeds a jump-start.

Though Hollywood and Silicon Valley have been touting virtual reality as the next big thing for several years, there are huge hurdles to its adoption in the entertainment industry. A major one is that the headsets and computing equipment the games require can cost thousands of dollars. Another problem: There arentenough compelling games to make VR worth the price.

Whether its the lack of content orconsumer access to headsets, the industry has been in a holding pattern, slow to go mainstream, Gelfond told reportersat Imaxs VR Experience Centre in Los Angeles.Its a complex ecosystem thats in need of a jump-start, and were here to start to provide the spark.

Gelfond and Imax are hoping to help fix those problems by makingbig bets on VR. The companyplans to open six pilot centers this year, including the Los Angeles location, which opened to the public last month.

The idea is to give people a place to play around with virtual reality games without having to pay that massive upfront cost of a full-on at-home setup.Customers pay $7 to $10 for a virtual reality experience, including games based on movies such as Lionsgates John Wick and TriStars The Walk, which allows daring customers to step on the virtual tightrope between the Twin Towers just like Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the Robert Zemeckis film.

While VR may not be entirely ready for prime time at this moment, were excited about the opportunity, Gelfond said.Someone needs to shake things up.

Imax has made deals to build pilot centers in multiplexeswith AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group to test whether such attractions will help bring young people back to movie theaters. Each center costs Imax $250,000 to $400,000 to create, not counting real estate spending, Gelfond said. Imax has additional centers planned for Britain and China and is eyeing projects in Japan, the Middle East and Western Europe.

Imax has also made moves to fix the industrys content shortage. The company recently started afund with companies including Acer and CAA to finance new games for virtual reality headsets, totaling $50 million. In addition, Imax is working with Google to develop a newcinema-quality virtual reality camera.Hollywood has shown a lot of interest in virtual reality, but not for full-length movies made for headsets. Virtual reality experiences are meant to last up to 15minutes at the Imax center.

The company on Tuesday announced deals with David Ellisons production company Skydance Media and game publishing giant Ubisoft to provide content to the new centers. Skydances upcoming games include ascience-fiction first-person shooter called Archangel and Life VR, an experience tied to the companys upcoming space station thriller Life.Similar to the movie industry, Imax will share ticketing revenue with the gaming studios.

While the games will be available for at-home headsets, Ellison said locations such as the Imax centers are necessary to get the industry off the ground, much like arcadeswere in the early days of the video gaming industry.

The place most people are going to experience VR for the first time is going to be in places like Imax, Ellison told The Times.We very much want to be a first-mover and we hope to establish a brand with what were doing here.

The flagshipImax VR Centre, located across the street from the Grove shopping center, opened with a soft launchJan. 6. Gelfond said it has so far attracted 5,000 customers, and sales have steadily grown. But, he admits, the companys involvement with VR is still in very experimental stages.

These pilots are really going to be the testing ground, Gelfond told The Times.I look at this as a very flexible platform that is intended to be Imaxs flag in the ground and will evolve as we go along.

ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

@rfaughnder

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It took the power of Batman and PlayStation VR to turn a skeptic in an almost-believer

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U-CF School Board adds new member and approves preliminary budget – Chester County Press

Posted: February 14, 2017 at 11:30 am

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U-CF School Board adds new member and approves preliminary budget – Chester County Press

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Nick Cannon Quits ‘America’s Got Talent,’ Rips NBC Execs for Stifling ‘Freedom of Speech’ – Breitbart News

Posted: at 11:08 am

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After days of deliberating over some extremely disappointing news that I was being threatened with termination by Executives because of a comedy special that was only intended to bring communities closer together, I was to be punished for a joke, Cannon wrote in a lengthy Facebook post on Monday.

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This has weighed heavy on my spirit. It was brought to my attention by my team that NBC believed that I was in breach of contract because I had disparaged their brand, Cannon wrote. In my defense, I would ask how so? Or is this just another way to silence and control an outspoken voice who often battles the establishment.

Cannon told radio host Howard Stern last week that NBC executives werent laughing when Cannon made a joke about the network costing him hisblack card while filming hisupcomingShowtime comedy special,Stand Up, Dont Shoot.

The36-year-old actor apparently cracked several jokes about NBC during the comedy special, which saw Cannon use the N-word several times.

I grew up like a real na, all that stuff, but I honestly believe that once I started doingAmericas Got Talent, they took my real na card. They did because then these types of people start showing up to my shows, Cannon joked during the comedy special, Entertainment Weeklyreports.I cant do the real na stuff anymore cause then theyll put me on TMZ.

Cannon who has expressed a number of politically unpopular views over the past few months, including that Planned Parenthood is designed to exterminateblack people says he had been warned by his mentors that The System would come after him because I was speaking too many truths and being too loud about it.

I will not be silenced, controlled or treated like a piece of property, Cannon, who has hosted the reality singing competition for the past eight seasons, wrote on Facebook.

NBC, Cannon charged, is part of an unjust infrastructure that treats talent like they own them.

But Cannon said he made the hard choice to leave Americas Got Talentbecause his soul wont allow [him] to be in business with corporations that attempt to frown on freedom of speech, censor artists, and question cultural choices.

So I wish AGT and NBC the best in its upcoming season, but I can not see myself returning, Cannon wrote. There will always be a do as I say mentality that mirrors societys perception of women and minorities, and only a few will stand up against it. I proudly stand as one of those few, and will gladly take on whatever repercussions that come with it.

Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter:@JeromeEHudson

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Nick Cannon Quits ‘America’s Got Talent,’ Rips NBC Execs for Stifling ‘Freedom of Speech’ – Breitbart News

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Five things to know from Netflix’s 2017 launch – Newstalk 106-108 fm

Posted: February 10, 2017 at 3:11 am

Just a day after Amazon Video Prime announced that it would unroll some of its original content, already available in other territories worldwide, Netflix has hit back with its ambitious plans to solidify itself as the worlds favourite channel.

After already debuting Santa Clarita Diet and A Series of Unfortunate Events this year, a Netflix even held in New York yesterday offered a sneak peak into whats to come over the next few months. It all amounts to more than 1,000 hours of new content across a wide variety of television genres, as Netflix looks to cultivate taste communities fond of a few hours of binging.

Here are the five big takeaways from yesterdays event…

Release dates for some of Netflixs most popular shows new seasons were announced, with Orange is the New Black set for an explosive return on June 7th. Love, starring Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust, was renewed for a third season, before its second one even starts to stream on March 10th, and The OAs unanswered questions may get some answers as the show gets a second season.

Release dates and teaser trailers dropped for a host of new original shows, including the Britt Robertson-starring Girlboss, streaming from April 21st. The show, based on the memoirs of eBay-retailer-turned-CEO Sophia Amoruso, promises to explore entrepreneurialism and flawed female characters.

Also coming on May 12th is Anne, a reworking of the classic Canadian childrens book series Anne of Green Gables, with Irish-Canadian actress Amybeth McNulty taking on the lead as the flighty redhead. Written by the Emmy-winning screenwriter of Breaking Bad, the series promises to bring Lucy Maud Montgomerys literary heroine to a new global audience – and proves she’s got a smack in her to rivalIron Fist.

According toBloomberg, Netflix is looking to cash in on the lucrative merchandising side of the entertainment business, and will look to license its content for books, comics, gaming toys, collectables, soundtrack, and apparel. Having recently conducted a successful trial with the US retailer Hot Topic selling Stranger Things merchandise,

Netflix is reportedly looking to ape Disneys model to promote our titles so they become part of the zeitgeist for longer periods of time.

Perhaps its unsurprising that in the 2017 media climate, the announcement of a Netflix show based on a pre-existing feature film has already seen calls for a boycott.

When the 34-second trailer for Dear White People, a social satire about African-American students on an Ivy League university campus debuted, the hashtag #NoNetflix started popping on Twitter, amid calls that the show is anti-white. Since being uploaded yesterday morning, the trailer has been given more than 81,000 thumbs down and just 4,000 up on YouTube, and attempts to start a protest movement of people cancelling their Netflix accounts have seen swift online retribution…

Across all genre of television, scripted and unscripted, Netflix is launching an attempted coup to provide all of the programming a family could want. From parents to kids, with plenty of stunt casting to merge the two (Julie Andrewss show Julies Greenroom will feature guests stars like Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett, Ellie Kemper, Titus Burgess, Idina Menzel, while Bill Nye Saves the World will see the science presenter work with Karlie Kloss, Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Rachel Bloom, and Joel McHale).

Even fans of the 1980s computer game Castlevania are covered, with an animated series set to be written by British novelist Warren Ellis.

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Five things to know from Netflix’s 2017 launch – Newstalk 106-108 fm

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Child exploitation, free speech and net neutrality tangle in fervent documentary ‘I Am Jane Doe’ – Los Angeles Times

Posted: at 2:57 am

Mary Mazzios documentary I Am Jane Doe is a whirlwind primer on the case of Backpage, a classified ads website with a serious problem: the exploitation and trafficking of minors conducted in the escorting and adult section of the site.

Backpage is now the center of a legal drama that has proceeded all the way to the Senate floor, and I Am Jane Doe attempts to elucidate the dizzying legal proceedings alongside the stories of trafficking victims, including two known as M.A. and J.S., who ultimately sued Backpage for culpability in their trafficking.

Their stories are horrifying and sad, and offer a glimpse into the stark reality of online child sex trafficking, a context that becomes obfuscated in the courtroom. The Communications Decency Act and the First Amendment are repeatedly cited by lawyers for Backpage, asserting that the freedom of the Internet should be preservedand that websites are not liable for the ads posted by third parties.

Its a conundrum wherein the inherently evil act of child exploitation and abuse becomes entangled in issues of free speech and net neutrality.

Mazzio intersperses the personal stories with the techno-legal thriller that races along a timeline up to January of 2017and narration from producer Jessica Chastain. Each moment is resonant, but the intimate reflections halt the momentum, and the legal dramas interfere with the emotional impact.

Its an overwhelming, and sometimes disorganized firehose of information. Mazzio doesnt includeany advocates for Internet freedom, which feels like a missed opportunity to fully illustrate the tensions and reasons why the court cases have stalled. Ultimately, however, I Am Jane Doe is a powerful call to action to protect children over profit.

————-

I Am Jane Doe

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Playing AMC Universal CityWalk

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Child exploitation, free speech and net neutrality tangle in fervent documentary ‘I Am Jane Doe’ – Los Angeles Times

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Take a bow, Sheldon Theatre – Republican Eagle

Posted: February 7, 2017 at 10:40 pm

The Sheldon Theatre was named the 2016 Arts & Entertainment, Lodging, Recreation & Tourism Business of the Year by Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce members at the Jan. 30 annual meeting and awards banquet.

Sheldon Theatre Executive Director Bonnie Schock said the business award was extra-meaningful for a nonprofit arts organization.

“If you look purely at the economic impact that arts organizations have in their communities, it’s extraordinary,” Schock said. “It’s really nice to have the business community recognize that the role that we play here is one that is fostering the broader success of Red Wing.”

Schock, along with the Sheldon’s administrative team of Jennifer Staley, Natalie Olson and Russell Johnson, spoke to their efforts of being more present in the community.

“On all fronts, with marketing, education, outreach and programming, we’ve really tried to be present and establish a lot of different entry points for people,” Schock said.

The Sheldon’s timeline is dotted with different phases; the original theater, a movie house, the fabled roof explosion and, much to the community’s delight, a major renovation back to an intricate jewel box theater.

Greg Nixon and Helene Olson-Reed, veterans of the Sheldon stage and supporters of the arts community, both began their relationships with the Sheldon in the 1970s.

“The support from people at the theater working behind the scenes, and the support from the entire community attending shows and events, is something a community of this size should be incredibly proud of,” Nixon said. “The theater itself is a community within the community.”

Olson-Reed has attended weddings, funerals, and just about anything in between at the theater, she said.

“The Sheldon has been at the center of our community. I see it as the center of our community,” Olson-Reed said. “It is truly iconic.”

Lacy Schumann, a newer face in the Red Wing community and part of the staff at the Red Wing Arts Association, said her young family has fully embraced the Sheldon and its variety of performances. Schumann moved to the area in 2016.

“It’s poking at people’s curiosity,” Schumann said of the Sheldon’s programming. “The shows are appealing to so many people, it feels almost impossible to resist it.”

Schumann said within her family’s first few months in Red Wing, her 5-year-old son has already taken to the Sheldon stage.

“The accessibility of the things like the children’s theater program is incredible,” she said. “My son would have never gotten that anywhere else. It is not overpriced, and they are subjects that he can grasp and open his little mind to new things.”

Nixon applauded the Sheldon’s recent programming and outreach efforts.

“They are reaching the whole spectrum of the community,” he said.

Olson-Reed admitted on her own accord that she could carry on about the Sheldon much longer than one would like to entertain.

“This is great community for arts, it’s our identity. The Sheldon is the icing on top,” she said.

Schumann’s fresh observations of the historic theater are perhaps the most poignant.

“Attending and being part of community experiences at the Sheldon showed me what this community is capable of of being welcoming and open,” Schumann said.

The Sheldon team members said they are honored with the recognition and the positive feedback on new programming approaches.

“This was very intentional programming for different tastes and aesthetics. Not every show will be for everyone, but there will be a show that everyone will enjoy,” Schock said. “It is a purposeful approach to have something that everyone can relate to.”

Visit http://www.sheldontheatre.org for event listings and more information on the season’s upcoming performances.

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Take a bow, Sheldon Theatre – Republican Eagle

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