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    Podcasting Is Booming. Will Hollywood Help or Hurt Its Future?

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }What to WatchBest Movies on NetflixBest of Disney PlusBest of Amazon PrimeBest Netflix DocumentariesNew on NetflixAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyPodcasting Is Booming. Will Hollywood Help or Hurt Its Future?A frothy adaptation market is just one sign of the rapid evolution of the industry. But some worry that big money will stifle the D.I.Y. spirit that has driven much of its success.Once seen as a marginal forum for comedy, tech talk and public radio programming, podcasting is one of the hottest corners in media, with Hollywood hungry for TV and film adaptations.Credit…Hudson ChristieFeb. 25, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ETIn November, production began in Los Angeles on a new series with the trappings of a potential hit.“Unwanted” is a buddy action comedy told with a wink, part “Beverly Hills Cop” homage and part Seth Rogen-esque genre sendup. It stars Lamorne Morris (“Woke” and “New Girl”) and Billy Magnussen (“Game Night”) as slackers who stumble on criminal intrigue in between bong hits, and its script is stocked with gross-out humor. (Sample line: “When I told you I dropped my phone in the toilet, that wasn’t the whole story.”)But “Unwanted” is not the latest Netflix comedy; it’s a podcast — or at least is starting out that way. The show’s first two episodes were released this week by QCode Media, a two-year-old company whose podcasts, with big names and high production values, are all but audio pitches for film and television. In July, for example, QCode introduced “Dirty Diana,” an erotic drama starring Demi Moore; by September, Amazon made a deal to turn it into a TV series.A frothy adaptation market in Hollywood is just one sign of the rapid evolution of podcasting. Though the format dates to the early 2000s — it is named after the iPod — podcasting has had an expansive growth spurt the last few years. Since 2018, the number of available shows has more than tripled, to around two million. Spotify, Amazon, SiriusXM, iHeartMedia and other major streaming and traditional media companies have poured about $2 billion into the industry, both chasing and fueling its growth. Celebrities, even former presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, are piling in, looking at on-demand audio as a key brand-building channel.Once seen as a marginal forum for comedy, tech talk and public radio programming, podcasting is one of the hottest corners in media. Yet its formats and business practices are still developing, leading producers, executives and talent to view the medium as akin to television circa 1949: lucrative and uncharted territory with plenty of room for experimentation and flag-planting.“It’s a new frontier, and we love it,” said Morris, who is also a creator and executive producer of “Unwanted.”But along with the optimism come worries that big money may stifle the D.I.Y. spirit vital to podcasting’s identity. Indie podcasters, used to an open and decentralized distribution system, fear being marginalized if the tech giants push through pay walls and exclusive deals. And as podcasting becomes big business, there is unease that the diversity of voices in our earbuds — never a strong suit of the industry — could be put at risk too.Nick Quah, who writes the Hot Pod newsletter, said that corporate interests tend to run contrary to what has always made podcasting interesting: the idea that anyone, anywhere, can bubble up and find an audience.“As we move forward and more of these platforms assume a stronger gatekeeping position,” Quah said, “there’s a strong possibility for new voices to get pushed out of the space. That’s a real concern.”Lamorne Morris, left, and Kyle Shevrin, are the creators of the buddy action comedy podcast “Unwanted.”Credit…Daniel Dorsa for The New York TimesCracking the Code of the Podcast AdaptationFor the average listener, the most noticeable change in podcasting’s immediate future may simply be higher-quality shows.The influx of money — from tech platforms, advertisers and Hollywood — has attracted talent and driven spending on production resources. Podcasting executives say they are now flooded with pitches for new shows, often from A-list writers, directors and performers.“What you’re seeing now is this incredible flowering of creativity,” said Lydia Polgreen, a former HuffPost and New York Times editor who is now managing director of Gimlet Media, a Spotify-owned studio.For Hollywood, the podcasting space has become a farm team for intellectual property — where story lines can be tested out and promising material scooped up relatively cheaply. And with the movie business dominated by remakes, superhero franchises and other tent-pole mega-productions, the freedom podcasting provides is also refreshing, said Rob Herting, a former agent at the Creative Artists Agency who founded QCode.“I had gotten tired of the repurposing of old intellectual property,” Herting said. “I kind of yearn for original stories. This felt like such a great outlet for those, a place where you can go to be bold, experiment and move quickly.”QCode launched in early 2019 with “Blackout,” starring Rami Malek as a radio D.J. in a small New England town when the national power grid mysteriously goes dark. The company now has a portfolio of 11 series, including “Hank the Cow Dog,” a children’s show with Matthew McConaughey, and “Carrier,” a thriller starring Cynthia Erivo that showcases another feature of many of the best podcasts: intense, consuming sound design. QCode plans 15 new podcasts in 2021.Modest budgets and quick turnaround time enable more risk-taking. Most of QCode’s shows cost in the low to mid six figures to make, Herting said — orders of magnitude less than a film or TV project — and an eight-episode podcast can be taped in just a week or two. A comparable TV season, Morris said, could take two months to shoot.“Unwanted” is the studio’s first comedy, and Morris, who had a part in “Carrier,” said he was unsure whether it would work. For one thing, taping during the pandemic meant working remotely; using audio gear shipped to them at home, actors communicated via Zoom.But Morris said that his worries evaporated the first day on the virtual set. His character, Ben, is introduced pleading for an extension on his student loan, before he is revealed to be calling from a strip club. In the background, the comedian Ron Funches announces the dancers like a lascivious carnival barker: “Put your hands together for the beautiful … Desssstiny!”“I heard the raw playback and I was dying laughing,” Morris recalled. “You forget how immersive audio can be until you sit down and just plug in,” he added. “It really takes you there.”A successful adaptation into film or television can generate $1 million or more for podcast creators, far exceeding what most shows can collect from advertising. (The entire ad market for podcasts was estimated to be less than $1 billion last year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.)But as the audience for podcasts grows — at last 104 million Americans listen each month, according to a survey last year by Edison Research and Triton Digital — TV and film properties are increasingly being adapted into audio shows as well.“It really is a two-way street,” said Josh Lindgren, a podcast agent at C.A.A. “It’s not just that Hollywood is coming to gobble up all the podcast I.P. and turn it into TV shows.”Warner Bros. is creating podcasts for Spotify based on DC Comics characters; Marvel is bringing a slate of podcasts, including a scripted series, “Marvel’s Wastelanders,” to SiriusXM. And Ben Silverman, the TV producer behind the American version of “The Office,” whose company Propagate Content made an oral history of that show for Spotify, has struck a new deal with SiriusXM that will establish a new franchise of entertainment oral history podcasts.“There are no rules anymore,” Silverman said. “If you are a creative person, you can go anywhere.”Walled Gardens and the Future of IndiesEmily Cross channeled her inner Seinfeld with “What I’m Looking At,” a podcast where she spends 20 to 30 minutes just talking about what she’s looking at.Credit…Tom Jamieson for The New York TimesHollywood deals have taken podcasting far from its shoestring origins. But the growth story has been building for years.The first mainstream hit arrived in 2014 with “Serial,” an investigative look at the murder of a teenage girl that was made by veteran public-radio journalists. The show — and the media attention it received — demonstrated the format’s storytelling and marketing potential.New stars were minted. Leon Neyfakh was a Slate staff writer in 2017 when he hosted the first season of “Slow Burn,” a meticulous examination of the Watergate scandal.As a writer, Neyfakh said, he was dispirited to find that long feature stories, which had taken months of work, would yield just a few minutes of “average engaged time” from readers. But “Slow Burn” fans would spend hours with the show, listening through to the end of episodes that lasted 30, 40 minutes or more.“People are just willing to give you more of their attention in podcasting than they are in print,” Neyfakh said.Epix turned the Watergate season of “Slow Burn” into a TV documentary and an anthology series starring Julia Roberts and Sean Penn is heading to Starz.Along with high-minded journalism came a flood of comedian-led talk shows, pop-culture gabfests, sex and self-help shows, and every niche dive imaginable. In 2017, Emily Cross, an indie-rock musician, was joking with a friend about the glut of podcasts when she hit on a “Seinfeld”-inspired idea.“What if I just did a podcast about nothing? A podcast about just what I’m looking at,” Cross recalled. “I was like: Actually, I really like that idea. So I just started doing it.”For 20 to 30 minutes each week, “What I’m Looking At” features Cross calmly describing random objects — her shoes, an apple, a box of toothpicks — in soothing detail, like a combination Zen relaxation ritual and conceptual art project. She earns no money from it directly (she has supporters on Patreon), but has built a small community of followers who email her comments after every episode.Shows like “Slow Burn” and “What I’m Looking At” exemplify the power and charm of podcasting — an intimate, technologically simple medium that can help forge a connection with an audience over any topic, weighty or whimsical.That power, and the lure of greater advertising dollars, has begun to draw big investment. In 2018, iHeartMedia, the broadcast radio giant, paid $55 million for Stuff Media, the studio behind hits like “Stuff You Should Know.” Last year, SiriusXM acquired Stitcher, a popular app and distributor, for at least $265 million. And in late December, Amazon agreed to buy Wondery (“Dr. Death,” “Dirty John”) at a price estimated at more than $300 million.Over the last two years, Spotify has paid more than $800 million for a series of podcasting companies, like Gimlet, the Ringer and Anchor. Spotify has also struck content deals with the Obamas, Kim Kardashian West, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the comedian Joe Rogan, whose no-holds-barred talk — including with guests like Alex Jones — has made him podcasting’s closest thing to Howard Stern.Spending has amped up competition among platforms, many of which have begun to protect their investments by keeping content inside so-called walled gardens, accessible only to subscribers. Spotify, which keeps some shows within its walls, has made it clear that it views podcasts as a way to attract new customers to its service. This month, Spotify said that a quarter of its 345 million customers listen to podcasts.“There is no question that podcasting is helping drive more people to Spotify than ever before,” said Dawn Ostroff, the company’s chief content and advertising business officer. “That’s really our goal at this point.”Consumers have grown accustomed to content arms races among streaming services like Netflix and Disney+. But in podcasting, it has led to fears of corporate Balkanization of what has long been a platform-neutral medium, in which anything but the most high-profile shows could effectively be suppressed.For now, there are signs of experimentation in the distribution model — or at least a hesitancy by platforms to wall off too much of their content. When “The Michelle Obama Podcast” came out in July, for example, it was only on Spotify, but within two months it was widely available, including on Spotify’s archrival, Apple.SiriusXM, which owns Pandora and Stitcher, has developed a hybrid approach to take advantage of the offerings on each of those three brands. The company circulates free podcast versions of some of its subscriber-only radio shows, like Kevin Hart’s “Comedy Gold Minds,” to Pandora and Stitcher, in part as marketing for SiriusXM’s paid service.“We love our three-barrel attack,” said Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM’s president and chief content officer.A Diversity Downside?Lory Martinez, whose Studio Ochenta makes “Mija,” said starting her own company may have been the only way to get her shows — and her multilingual, multicultural approach — to market.Credit…Carolina Arantes for The New York TimesLory Martinez, a Colombian-American podcaster, keeps her grandfather’s press card at her desk in Paris.He was a newspaper reporter in Colombia who covered the country’s Indigenous communities, and saw his role as bringing those people’s stories and perspectives to the entire nation. His approach inspired the mission of Martinez’s company, Studio Ochenta: “Raising voices across cultures.”Ochenta began a year and a half ago with “Mija,” a short-form podcast about the life of an immigrant daughter from Queens — modeled after Martinez herself — that was released in English, Spanish and French. It reached No. 1 on iTunes’s fiction podcast charts in 13 countries, and its third season, about an Egyptian Muslim character in Britain and the United States, will be released in April in English, Spanish and Arabic.“There is now more of a space for voices than you would traditionally hear, and they are appearing in podcasting,” Martinez said. “They’re not only making podcasts, they are starting companies. That’s what’s so exciting about this time.”But Martinez said that starting her own company may have been the only way to get her shows — and her multilingual, multicultural approach — to market.“I don’t think ‘Mija’ would have been made if I pitched it elsewhere,” Martinez said.Increasing corporatization, and the incentive for platforms to favor the shows they own, has intensified concerns that podcasts from underrepresented groups could enjoy less promotion, find fewer listeners and collect less advertising revenue — a vicious cycle that would repeat many of the failings of the old media model.For all the rah-rah talk of podcasts as a democratized medium, building diversity has been a slow undertaking. In 2008, for example, 73 percent of monthly listeners in the United States were white. In those days, “the average podcast you listened to was two white dudes talking about internet routers, and the audience reflected that,” said Tom Webster of Edison Research.Last year, Edison and Triton found that white listeners’ slice of the pie had narrowed to 63 percent, nearly mirroring the 60 percent of Americans who identify as white in census data. But the representation behind the microphone still lags.Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, a former journalist at NPR and The Atlantic who founded a production company focused on work by people of color, said that media and tech companies should look at diversity as a business imperative, given the country’s shifting demographics and the devoted audiences that companies like Studio Ochenta are building.“In the rush to secure the players that look like sure bets,” Lantigua-Williams said, “they are overlooking the creators who are really growing audiences that are going to stay with them five, 10 years down the line.”Yet some podcasters have found success navigating the corporate world from within. Spotify’s “Dope Labs” features two young Black women, Titi Shodiya and Zakiya Whatley — both working scientists with Ph.D.s — who came to podcasting via a Spotify-sponsored accelerator program, Sound Up, that aims to bring talent from underrepresented groups into the medium.“Dope Labs” mingles hard-nosed science and pop culture, with episodes on coronavirus vaccinations, racism in science and the history of Afrofuturism. The show has more than 100,000 followers — a midlevel hit.“People have this stereotypical box of what a scientist looks like, what they sound like and what they care about,” Shodiya said. “And we say, no. We don’t only care about these things. We’re really into fashion. We’re really into music. We’re really into food. We like to break the mold.”Sound Up awarded Shodiya and Whatley $10,000 and offered them training in basics like interviewing and using recording equipment. They were free to take their show anywhere, and Shodiya said they pitched it to other companies, which asked for changes the women did not want to make. They stuck with Spotify.“Spotify seemed to get it,” Shodiya said. “They really appreciate our voices and what we bring to the platform.”Opportunities for CreativityFor a star like Morris, the question of access to media is less of an issue. But even for him, podcasts offer a rare opportunity — to test a new idea, quickly and cheaply.“When you’re a creative person, you need an outlet,” Morris said. “You can’t always say, ‘Let’s go and make a $50 million movie.’ But you can sit down, record, say your idea out loud.”For now, many podcasters say, the money spent by platforms, media companies and advertisers has helped enable experimentation in the format and a sharpening of storytelling techniques.Early fiction hits like Gimlet’s “Homecoming,” from 2016, about a therapist working with returning soldiers, demonstrated some of the potential for innovation, with crosscut scenes and varying audio treatment of voices to indicate different environments — a high-tech take on techniques first heard in 1930s radio dramas. (“Homecoming” became a TV series on Amazon starring Roberts and then Janelle Monáe.)More recently, shows like Audible’s “When You Finish Saving the World,” a five-hour drama by Jesse Eisenberg, have tinkered further with narration and storytelling in long-form audio.“Unwanted,” Morris said, could very well be a film or television project. (A spokeswoman for QCode said no negotiations to adapt it have taken place yet.) The story, he said, was just one of “millions” of ideas that he and Kyle Shevrin, his co-creator and writing partner, have bandied about, and podcasting allowed it to become a reality.“It’s a proof of concept,” Morris said, “to say to the industry: This works, this is fun, this is something that can be done.”AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Late Night Laughs Off Mike Pence’s Renewed Loyalty to Trump

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }What to WatchBest Movies on NetflixBest of Disney PlusBest of Amazon PrimeBest Netflix DocumentariesNew on NetflixAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyBest of Late NightLate Night Laughs Off Mike Pence’s Renewed Loyalty to Trump“I don’t know where the line is between forgiving and being a doormat, but Mike Pence crossed it a long time ago,” Trevor Noah said.“Staying loyal after he sent a mob to kill you?” marveled Trevor Noah. “Man, that shows how committed Mike Pence is to his principles: he won’t even abort a friendship.”Credit…Comedy CentralFeb. 25, 2021, 1:41 a.m. ETWelcome to Best of Late Night, a rundown of the previous night’s highlights that lets you sleep — and lets us get paid to watch comedy. We’re all stuck at home at the moment, so here are the 50 best movies on Netflix right now.That’s a Good Boy“Obedience school seems to be working well for Mike Pence, who has apparently patched things up with his former owner, Donald Trump,” Jimmy Kimmel said on Wednesday night, after Mike Pence was reported to have told a group of conservative lawmakers that he and Donald Trump still had a “close personal friendship.”“Staying loyal after he sent a mob to kill you? Man, that shows how committed Mike Pence is to his principles: he won’t even abort a friendship,” Trevor Noah said.“I believe Mike Pence has spent the last month doing a little something called ‘weighing his options’ and found that it would be better to be friends with Donald Trump.” — JIMMY KIMMEL“I guess at this point, there’s nothing Trump can do to Pence that would make Pence turn on him. They basically have the same relationship that we have with our Alexa: ‘Ugh, Alexa, I hate you. I wish you would die!’ [imitating Alexa] ‘I’m sorry you feel that way. Is there anything I can help you with?’” — TREVOR NOAH“And I don’t know where the line is between forgiving and being a doormat, but Mike Pence crossed it a long time ago. I mean, yeah, the Bible says to turn the other cheek, but at the same time, one of the Ten Commandments is ‘Thou shall not be a [expletive].’” — TREVOR NOAH“You know what would be fun? If I were Donald Trump, I’d announce that I need a kidney, and I’d make all of these guys — Lindsey Graham, Rudy, Mike Pence — I’d make them all give me one kidney to choose which one I like best.” — JIMMY KIMMELThe Punchiest Punchlines (Keep on Truckin’ Edition)“There’s exciting news in the world of mail delivery. Yeah, brace yourself. The U.S. Postal Service just unveiled their new fleet of delivery trucks, and the future is adorable.” — STEPHEN COLBERT“They asked the designers to come up with something that looks unremarkable and yet vaguely unsettling. And I think they succeeded.” — JIMMY KIMMEL“They’ve already spent $482 million on testing and designing it. Wasn’t the post office bankrupt like four months ago? Now they’re buying new cars? It’s like a bad brother-in-law or something.” — JIMMY KIMMEL“That thing’s about to be the first mail truck to go on the TV show ‘Botched.’” — JIMMY FALLON“That thing’s just a couple eyeballs away from a Pixar movie. You really get the feeling that engine is going to be going ‘pucket-a, pucket-a, pucket-a, pucket-a.’” — STEPHEN COLBERT“But of course there’s a controversy. Many of the new trucks will be electric, but not all of them, and ‘the precise mix has already elicited criticism from environmentalists.’ I understand their concern — I mean, you want the greenest vehicle possible when you’re delivering thousands of pounds of Amazon Rainforest that are now Amazon boxes.” — STEPHEN COLBERTThe Bits Worth Watching“Jimmy Kimmel Live” tried to find someone — anyone — at the Farmers Market in Los Angeles who could properly identify Kamala Harris’s husband.What We’re Excited About on Thursday NightThe actress Regina King, a Golden Globe nominee, will chat with Stephen Colbert on Thursday’s “Late Night.”Also, Check This OutEddie Murphy, left, at home in the Hollywood Hills and Arsenio Hall in Los Angeles. “There’s never been a period where we haven’t been friends,” Murphy said.Credit…Photographs by Brad Ogbonna for The New York TimesThe longtime friends and co-stars Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall talk about their careers and the new sequel to “Coming to America.”AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Stephen Colbert Didn’t Realize America Had Been Canceled

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }What to WatchBest Movies on NetflixBest of Disney PlusBest of Amazon PrimeBest Netflix DocumentariesNew on NetflixAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyBest of Late NightStephen Colbert Didn’t Realize America Had Been Canceled“Although I’m not surprised — the last season was pretty unbelievable,” Stephen Colbert said of CPAC’s 2021 theme: “America Uncanceled.”“Still, better than last year’s CPAC theme: ‘Giving the flag the clap,’” Colbert joked on Tuesday.Credit…CBSFeb. 24, 2021, 2:31 a.m. ETWelcome to Best of Late Night, a rundown of the previous night’s highlights that lets you sleep — and lets us get paid to watch comedy. We’re all stuck at home at the moment, so here are the 50 best movies on Netflix right now.Early CancellationThe annual Conservative Political Action Conference kicks off this week in Orlando, Fla., where Republican leaders will discuss the future of their party. Late-night hosts poked fun at this year’s conference theme: “America Uncanceled.”“I didn’t know America was canceled. Although, I’m not surprised — the last season was pretty unbelievable,” Stephen Colbert joked on Tuesday.“Of course, with all the crises facing our nation, conservatives are focusing on the most pressing issue of all: fascists being kicked off of Twitter.” — STEPHEN COLBERT“It’s like Comic-Con for neo-cons and neo-Nazis, too.” — JIMMY KIMMEL“It’s a who’s who of ‘Who needs that many guns in their rec room?’” — STEPHEN COLBERT“Still, better than last year’s CPAC theme: ‘Giving the flag the clap.’” — STEPHEN COLBERT“According to CPAC, ‘It’s time to stand up for Americans whose views have gotten them canceled,’ which is why they kicked things off by canceling an appearance from one of their panelists for a history of making anti-Semitic claims. Good — conservatives don’t want to be associated with anyone like that. It could sully the good name of the mob with aluminum bats trying to murder Mike Pence.” — STEPHEN COLBERT“They tweeted, ‘We have just learned that someone we invited to CPAC has expressed reprehensible views.’ Only one?” — JIMMY KIMMEL“The canceled man in question is a rapper named Young Pharaoh, who was pulled from the lineup after journalists pointed out his record of publicly rejecting the existence of Judaism outright. OK, pretty bold stance to reject the existence of the world’s oldest monotheistic religion. They’ve been around for a while, and they write it all down. It’s kind of their thing.” — STEPHEN COLBERT“Young will not be appearing at CPAC after he tweeted, ‘Judaism is a big lie that was created for political gain.’ Oops. Sorry, Jared. Sorry, Ivanka.” — JIMMY KIMMEL“You know who could tell Young Pharaoh that Judaism exists? Old Pharaoh. There’s a pretty famous old book about it. There’s even a new book about it.” — STEPHEN COLBERT“CPAC apparently hadn’t known about Young Pharaoh’s history of anti-Semitism, and called his views ‘reprehensible,’ saying they have ‘no home’ with their conference. Yes, conservatives would never doubt the existence of Jewish people. Otherwise, who’s operating the space laser?” — STEPHEN COLBERTThe Punchiest Punchlines (Biden and Trudeau Edition)“Well, guys, today in Washington, President Biden met virtually with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the first time since taking office. Yep, Biden did the best he could to fix our relationship with Canada. He was like, ‘Hey, about the last four years — [imitating Canadian accent] sorry.” — JIMMY FALLON“In response, Trudeau was like, ‘On behalf of Canada, thank you for your friendship, for your support, and for taking Ted Cruz.’” — JIMMY FALLON“Yep, Trudeau and Biden had a typical video chat between a 49-year-old and a 78-year-old. Trudeau spent the first 20 minutes trying to tell Biden he was on mute.” — JIMMY FALLON“But it was a productive meeting, other than when Biden started talking about his second cousin who once went over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel.” — JIMMY FALLON“The two leaders discussed the most pressing issues facing Canada, like Covid-19, climate change, and how long Drake is going to keep that heart in his hair.” — JAMES CORDEN“You just know they spent the entire time trash-talking Trump and then were like, ‘Yeah, uh, we talked about Covid and stuff.’” — JAMES CORDEN“This was the president’s first virtual bilateral meeting, which sounds sexy, but it wasn’t. Next week he’s planning a TikTok with Angela Merkel, so that’ll be fun.” — JIMMY KIMMELThe Bits Worth WatchingJimmy Fallon and Tom Holland guessed movies based on spoiler clues on Tuesday’s “Tonight Show.”What We’re Excited About on Wednesday NightStanley Tucci will stop by Wednesday’s “Late Late Show” to chat with James Corden about his new CNN travel series, “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.”Also, Check This OutMedusa is one of the hip-hop artists featured in Ava DuVernay’s 2008 documentary “This Is the Life.”Credit…Array“This Is the Life,” Ava DuVernay’s debut documentary about Los Angeles hip-hop in the ’90s, is available for the first time on Netflix.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    The Golden Globes’ Biggest Winner May Be the Group That Hands Them Out

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }Awards SeasonNetflix’s First Winner?Our Best Movie PicksStream Top Oscar ContendersOscar-Winning DocumentariesAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyThe Golden Globes’ Biggest Winner May Be the Group That Hands Them OutMembers of the tax-exempt Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the ceremony, are courted by stars and studios, and sometimes paid.A Golden Globe win can boost careers, jack up box office earnings and foreshadow an Academy Award.Credit…Frazer Harrison/Getty ImagesCara Buckley and Feb. 23, 2021Updated 4:32 p.m. ETThe Hollywood Foreign Press Association has been widely viewed as colorful, generally harmless, perhaps venal and not necessarily journalistically productive. But because the group puts on the Golden Globes, courting the favor of its members — there are only 87 — has become a ritualized Tinseltown pursuit.Celebrities send them handwritten holiday cards. Studios put them up at five-star hotels. Champagne, pricey wine, signed art, cashmere blankets, slippers, record players, cakes, headphones and speakers are among the gifts that have arrived at their doorsteps, recipients say.The suitors — studios, production companies, strategists and publicists — are all chasing the same thing: members’ votes. Every one counts. A Golden Globe nomination, and certainly a win, is a publicity boon that can boost careers, jack up box office earnings and foreshadow an Academy Award.Boozy, irreverent and generally jolly good fun, the Globes are the third most-watched awards show after the Grammys and the much more staid Academy Awards. The show occupies a curious place in the entertainment industry. Mocking the Globes, and their occasionally off-the-wall nominations and picks, as irrelevant has become an annual blood sport in the Hollywood press, which covers them anyway, and the association’s members, many of whom work for obscure outlets, are regularly painted as doddering, out of touch and faintly corrupt.“The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton,” Ricky Gervais, who has hosted them multiple times, said at the ceremony in 2012. “Bit louder. Bit trashier. Bit drunker. And more easily bought, allegedly. Nothing’s been proved.”But on the eve of the Feb. 28 show, a recent lawsuit and a series of interviews and financial records are providing a more unsparing look at the group, which does not publicly list its roster, admits very few applicants, and, despite being a media association, has some members who say they are fearful of speaking to the press. The group is also coming under increased scrutiny from news organizations, including The Los Angeles Times, which recently delved into their finances; one of its findings, that the group has no Black members, made headlines.Kjersti Flaa, a Norwegian reporter, sued when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association denied her entry. Most of her lawsuit was thrown out, but she recently amended it.Credit…Rozette Rago for The New York TimesThe latest re-examination began last year when Kjersti Flaa, a Norwegian reporter who has thrice been denied admittance to the group, and whose romantic partner is a member, sued the organization, saying that it acted as a monopoly, hogging prized interviews even though relatively few of its members actively worked as journalists. Studios went along to ingratiate themselves, she said, because of the value of the members’ votes.“It’s very obvious who’s important for the studios and who’s not,” Flaa said in an interview. “And the thing is, no one has said anything about this before. It’s just been accepted.”Members are territorial and loath to welcome competitors, she alleged, lobbying each other to accept or deny entry to new applicants, with little consideration for journalistic merits. Flaa pointed to a fracas involving a Russian member who in 2015 was accused of demanding that a Ukranian applicant not write for any Russian outlets and hand over her extra Golden Globes tickets — and guarantee her promise in a notarized letter — in exchange for being considered for admission.Flaa said outsiders had a nickname for the association: “The cartel.”The association would not comment specifically on the 2015 incident, but Gregory Goeckner, the organization’s chief operating officer and general counsel, said that such actions were prohibited, and that in 2018 its board approved a policy confirming any such letters as “void and unenforceable.” Goeckner also described Flaa’s allegations as “salacious,” and said it was studios, not the association, that made decisions about press access.A judge threw out the majority of Flaa’s suit, but she has recently amended it, and another journalist who also has been denied entry to the association has joined her complaint.Several current and former association members said Flaa’s accounts of the inner machinations were accurate, but requested anonymity because they said they feared retaliation from the group.The Hollywood Foreign Press Association was born in the ’40s, when foreign correspondents covering Hollywood banded together to gain access to movie stars. The Globes recognize movies and television, and is chockablock with stars, with nary a snoozy category — no sound editing prize here. As the awards industry complex mushroomed — it’s now a near year-round enterprise shaped by strategists and closely tracked by reporters — members’ relative power grew too.The association, which is sitting on millions of dollars in cash, is planning to upgrade its West Hollywood headquarters.Credit…Barry King/Alamy Stock PhotoAfter the show was picked up by television, it became a golden goose. In 2018, NBC agreed to pay $60 million a year for broadcast rights, about triple the previous licensing fee. While the Academy Awards and the Emmys have lost millions of viewers in recent years, the Golden Globes audience has held steady at 18 million to 20 million, which is why NBC was willing to fork up.“It’s a big-tent network television show, and as such, invaluable to film campaigns hoping to contend for Oscar nominations and wins,” said Tony Angellotti, a publicist who runs awards campaigns, in an email. “And the H.F.P.A. track record for identifying worthy films is indisputable. That’s not nothing.”To be able to vote for a Globe, members must publish at least six times a year, and attend 25 of the association’s news conferences, where celebrities and newsmakers are invited to appear, several members confirmed. If members want to travel to film festivals on the association’s dime, they have to attend even more news conferences, according to a copy of the travel policies reviewed by The New York Times. The rules say they don’t have to produce any press clippings related to their travels if they take five or fewer trips.Because the organization is a nonprofit, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is also tax-exempt. The filing from the tax year ending in June 2019 showed that the group was sitting on about $55 million in cash. It donated about $5 million to assorted causes, including $500,000 to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and $500,000 to the environmental site Inside Climate News.“The funding was enormously important,” David Sassoon, the founder and publisher of Inside Climate News, said in an email. “It solidified our finances and helped us get through the nightmares of 2020.”According to the tax filings, the tax-exempt nonprofit paid more than $3 million in salaries and other compensation to members and staff. The tax filing also showed $1.3 million in travel costs for that year; the association has said it typically pays the expenses of members who seek to travel to film festivals and the like.There is also compensation for performing duties that several members say used to be done for free. Being on the association’s TV Viewing Committee pays $1,000 a month, according to the treasurer’s report from the association’s January general meeting. Members of the Foreign Film Watching Committee pocket $3,465 apiece. Two dozen people sit on that committee, according to the minutes, which meant that the demands of watching international movies cost the association $83,160 in one month.The association also has an advisory committee, a history committee, a welfare committee, a travel committee, a film festival committee, a financial committee and an events committee — all of which come with stipends, according to the treasurer’s report.Some members said the number of paying committees has exploded in recent years, with members jockeying to nab multiple positions and loyalty rewarded with committee appointments. This has caused angst for some who want to see the association become less of a punchline around town. One member worried that the group will become overrun by members who draw most of their income from the organization and not from journalism.Ricky Gervais rolled out the red carpet at the Golden Globes last year.Credit…Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank, via, Getty ImagesGoeckner said the association only remunerates members when they do extra work and basically serve as employees, doing tasks that would constitute paid staff work elsewhere. The compensation, he said, was “orders of magnitude less” than what similar organizations pay. And he noted that the group was “not a charity,” and that its accumulated capital was earmarked for a planned upgrade of its West Hollywood headquarters.Still, there is debate over how much of its earnings the association should keep to itself.Flaa’s lawyer, David Quinto, said that by virtue of its tax-exempt status, the association should be benefiting foreign arts journalists more broadly, not just the ones in the group. He said the association “believes it is above the law” and called its conduct “blatantly improper.”But Ofer Lion, a Los Angeles lawyer with expertise on tax-exempt organizations, said that mutual benefit corporations like the association need only benefit a common purpose of its members, and as a 501(c) (6) tax-exempt organization, must only ensure they in some way benefit their industry overall. Payments to members for their work for the organization are legal, he said, as long as they are considered reasonable.“There are some healthy numbers on there,” Lion said, after reviewing the organization’s tax return, “but not really beyond the pale.”The group’s stated mission is essentially to help bolster ties between the United States and foreign countries by covering its culture and entertainment industry. But it has continuously come under scrutiny when puzzling award decisions have been handed down, most infamously in 1982, when Pia Zadora was named best new star over Kathleen Turner and Elizabeth McGovern. It was later revealed that Zadora’s producer, who also happened to be her husband, had flown the group to Las Vegas before the vote. CBS, which had been airing the show, dropped its broadcast, and it would be years before it returned to network television.In 2014, a former association president published a memoir in which he suggested that his colleagues could be swayed by favor trading.The association has tried to rehabilitate its image in recent years. In 1999, it sent back $400 Coach watches given to members by a film company and asked members in 2016 to return part of the Tom Ford-branded fragrance gift sent to each of them from the producers of “Nocturnal Animals.”Nowadays, members aren’t supposed to accept gifts in excess of $125. (The group says it has adopted a “more robust” gift policy.) Still, they can be wooed. For some, there was little surprise when the frothy series “Emily in Paris” — which got decidedly mixed reviews from critics — picked up two Golden Globe nominations this year. In September 2019, dozens of association members flew to Paris to visit the “Emily” set and were put up by the Paramount Network at the five-star Peninsula hotel.And although there purportedly has been a wave of reforms, the group’s eclectic membership list has remained largely the same for years.A review of a 2020 roster shows that its members include Yola Czaderska-Hayek, a woman known as the “Polish First Lady of Hollywood”; Alexander Nevsky, a former Mr. Universe and bodybuilder who has starred in movies like “Moscow Heat”; and Judy Solomon, an organization veteran of more than 60 years who has drawn attention for her role as what The Daily Beast called “The Golden Globes Seating Arbiter,” a job of no small importance when it comes to seating celebrities at the ceremony without ruffling feathers.In statements provided to The New York Times, two longtime members of the organization expressed pride in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its work. One of the members, Meher Tatna, the current board chair, touted the group’s philanthropic initiatives, saying it received thank-you letters year-round.Czaderska-Hayek echoed that pride in a video posted on YouTube by the Polish government in 2010, but also noted that membership demands could be taxing.“It’s unbelievably hard work,” Czaderska-Hayek said, according to the video’s English subtitles. “We must see at least 300 U.S. films every year.”Alain Delaquérière and Kitty Bennett contributed research.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Late Night Blasts Ted Cruz’s Post-Cancún Photo Op

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }What to WatchBest Movies on NetflixBest of Disney PlusBest of Amazon PrimeBest Netflix DocumentariesNew on NetflixAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyBest of Late NightLate Night Blasts Ted Cruz’s Post-Cancún Photo Op“On Saturday, he posted photos of himself handing out bottled water with the hashtag ‘Texas strong.’ Sure, dude, we totally believe you,” Seth Meyers joked on Monday.Seth Meyers likened Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to a lazy husband lounging on the couch until his wife has unpacked all but the last bag of groceries.Credit…NBCFeb. 23, 2021, 2:21 a.m. ETWelcome to Best of Late Night, a rundown of the previous night’s highlights that lets you sleep — and lets us get paid to watch comedy. We’re all stuck at home at the moment, so here are the 50 best movies on Netflix right now.Too Little, Too LateMost late-night hosts were off last week when Senator Ted Cruz of Texas took his untimely trip to Cancún, Mexico, after a brutal winter storm that left millions of people in the state without power or water. With the photo ops the senator staged back in Texas this weekend, there was even more Cruz content to work with.“Ted Cruz is the husband who sits on his couch watching football all day, then sees his wife unloading a car full of groceries, waits until there’s one bag left in the trunk, then goes outside and says, ‘Oh, can I help?’” Seth Meyers joked on Monday.“So now Ted Cruz is doing damage control after his estúpido trip to Mexico. He lent a helping hoof to those in need this weekend, and, of course, posted about it.” — JIMMY KIMMEL“Then once he was shamed into coming back, Cruz tried to pretend he was actually interested in helping out. On Saturday, he posted photos of himself handing out bottled water with the hashtag ‘Texas strong.’ Sure, dude, we totally believe you.” — SETH MEYERS“Ted Cruz is like the friend who offers to help you move, but every time you see him, he’s just carrying the same box of pillows.” — JIMMY FALLON“People are also upset that Cruz tweeted those pictures himself. Even white people who only posted black squares on Instagram were like, ‘You gotta do more than that.’” — JIMMY FALLON“But Cruz tried to be helpful in other ways. Later, he showed Texans how to make frozen margs with the snow in their living rooms.” — JIMMY FALLON“Seriously, you know Cruz is having a rough 2021 when fueling a riot at the Capitol is nowhere near his biggest problem.” — JIMMY FALLON“Things are so bad for Cruz, he spent today thinking about the good old days, when people just thought he was the Zodiac Killer.” — JIMMY FALLON“Sorry, Cruz, this is not going to cut it, my man. See this right here? This is the politician version of coming home with flowers the day after Valentine’s Day. It’s not nothing, but your [expletive] is still sleeping on the couch.” — TREVOR NOAHThe Punchiest Punchlines (Empty Gestures Edition)“Like many of Ted Cruz’s attempts to mimic human behavior, this one was Ted on arrival.” — JIMMY KIMMEL“Only Ted Cruz would think he can repair his image by touching a maskless constituent two days after getting off an international flight.” — JIMMY KIMMEL“Also, we’re in a pandemic. Shaking hands, handing out water, serving food? Right now a Carnival Cruise is safer than a Ted Cruz.” — JIMMY FALLON“Yeah, it seemed like an OK gesture until everyone noticed the label on the bottle said ‘Ritz Carlton Cancún.’ A little souvenir.” — JIMMY FALLON“Yup, the photo op didn’t work out too well. Most people just drove away when he tried showing them his vacation photos.” — JIMMY FALLON“Actually, Cruz wanted to do more, but he had a parasailing lesson at 3, so.” — JIMMY FALLONThe Bits Worth WatchingJimmy Fallon suggested a few podcasts worth listening to, including Shaquille O’Neal reading love poems and the highly censored “Family Friendly True Crime Podcast.”What We’re Excited About on Tuesday NightThe singer Billie Eilish will chat with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday’s “Late Show.”Also, Check This OutCredit…Photo illustration by Bráulio AmadoAmy Poehler checks in before returning to (virtually) co-host the Golden Globes with Tina Fey this Sunday.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Fernando Hidalgo, Cuban-Born TV Host, Dies at 78

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesVaccine RolloutSee Your Local RiskNew Variants TrackerAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyThose We’ve LostFernando Hidalgo, Cuban-Born TV Host, Dies at 78For 14 years, “El Show de Fernando Hidalgo,” a racy variety show with a Cuban flair, was appointment viewing in Latino households across the United States.Fernando Hidalgo in Los Angeles last year. His Spanish-language variety show, “El Show de Fernando Hildago,” aired from 2000 to 2014.Credit…GP/Star Max, via GC ImagesFeb. 22, 2021Updated 3:22 p.m. ETThis obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.Every weeknight for 14 years, Fernando Hidalgo burst into the living rooms of Spanish-speaking households across the United States to lively Cuban fanfare, as dancers in colorful lingerie shimmied to bongos and trumpets and a theme song bearing his name.Broadcasting from a studio in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., just outside Miami, Mr. Hidalgo filled his show with interviews, monologues, skits with winking double entendres, scantily clad dancers who shocked abuelas and a generous helping of live Cuban music for nostalgic abuelos. At 7 p.m. or 11 p.m., “El Show de Fernando Hidalgo,” which aired on América TeVé and later on MegaTV, was appointment viewing in Latino households, particularly in South Florida, New York and Puerto Rico.Mr. Hidalgo produced and starred in an English-language film, “Ernesto’s Manifesto,” in 2019.Credit…Nereida DellanMr. Hidalgo died on Feb. 15 at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 78. His death was confirmed by his son Marlon Corona, 28, who said the cause was complications of Covid-19.América TeVé said in a statement that Mr. Hidalgo showed an “enormous talent for interpreting the sensibilities of our community, as well as his impressive capacity for improvisation and thematic renewal.”Fernando Corona was born in Marianao, Cuba, on Sept. 18, 1942, to Robert Corona, a Cuban soldier who later owned a flower business, and Concepción (Hidalgo) Corona, a homemaker, his son said.He was an adolescent when he moved with his family from Cuba to Chicago, where he got a job reading poems about Cuba on the radio, said Nereida Dellan, his former wife.As he established himself as a performer and a broadcaster, Mr. Hidalgo took his mother’s maiden name as a stage name, Ms. Dellan said.His career took him to Puerto Rico and Venezuela and back to the United States as he acted in and hosted shows, including a situation comedy, “Cómo Ser Feliz en el Matrimonio,” or “How to Be Happily Married.” He also hosted a game show similar to “The Newlywed Game” called “Los Casados Felices,” or “The Happy Married Couples.”The Coronavirus Outbreak More

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    How Britain Is Reacting to ‘It’s a Sin’

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }What to WatchBest Movies on NetflixBest of Disney PlusBest of Amazon PrimeBest Netflix DocumentariesNew on NetflixAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyHow Britain Is Reacting to ‘It’s a Sin’The show, which aired last month in the U.K., has broken a viewing record and revived conversations about how the country handled the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.From left, Omari Douglas, Lydia West, David Carlyle, Calum Scott Howells and Nathaniel Curtis in “It’s a Sin.”Credit… Ben Blackall/HBO MaxFeb. 22, 2021Updated 12:39 p.m. ETLONDON — In what may be a perfect formula for helping a well-made TV show go viral, all five episodes of “It’s a Sin” arrived on a British streaming service in late January, on the Friday before a snowy weekend, during a national lockdown.Since becoming available on HBO Max on Thursday, viewers in the U.S. have been binge watching the show, but in Britain, the show has dominated national conversations over recent weeks.The drama, created by Russell T Davies, tells the story of a group of friends navigating gay life in 1980s London, as AIDS moves from a whispered American illness to a defining aspect of their young lives. Episodes aired weekly on television on Channel 4, and the show broke records for the channel’s accompanying streaming service, with 16 million streams.Below is a roundup of how people in Britain have been reacting to “It’s a Sin,” including sharing their own experiences of the AIDS crisis, improving understanding of the H.I.V. treatments available today and lamenting the epidemic’s absence from school curriculums. This piece contains some spoilers.A critical successDavies has had a long and celebrated career in British television, including the relaunch of “Doctor Who” and making other hit L.G.B.T.Q. shows like “Queer as Folk” and “Cucumber.”“It’s a Sin” earned numerous five star reviews from British critics, along with praise for Davies’s writing. In The Telegraph, Anita Singh noted that he makes viewers “care about these characters from the first minute we see them,” adding that “as in so much of his work, he switches seamlessly between tragedy and humor.”In the show, activists stage a “die in” in London to protest the government’s handling of the AIDS crisis.Credit…Ben Blackall/HBO MaxWriting in The Times of London, Hugo Rifkind said, “It is a drama that could only have been made once stories of gay love and gay lives had become an uncontroversial fixture of mainstream popular culture, and it’s obviously thanks in large part to Davies that they have.”There was also praise for the actors’ performances, and how relatable many of the characters felt. In the TV magazine Radio Times, David Craig saw himself in multiple characters.“I remember feeling the same timidity as Colin (Callum Scott Howells) when I first attempted to explore my sexuality,” he wrote. “Likewise, I can recall making fraught phone calls home while still closeted, unable to discuss that which was truly weighing on my mind, similar to Ritchie (Olly Alexander).”Discussions of H.I.V. today“It’s a Sin” has also sparked a renewed public focus on H.I.V. prevention and treatment. The Terrence Higgins Trust, an H.I.V. and sexual health charity, said it had seen a huge boost in donations through its website, a boost to the number of H.I.V. tests requested at the start of H.I.V. Testing Week and a 30 percent increase in calls to its help line.“It’s genuinely been phenomenal,” Ian Green, the chief executive of the charity, said in a telephone interview. “It’s rekindled the narrative around H.I.V. in the United Kingdom.”On the popular daytime show “This Morning” a couple of weeks ago, Dr. Ranj, one of the show’s contributors, took an H.I.V. test live on air. Nathaniel J. Hall, who plays Donald in “It’s a Sin,” talked about living with H.I.V. on the chat show Lorraine. “I’m on medication and my viral load is what is known as undetectable,” he said. “That means I can’t transmit the virus on, so my partner, Sean, remains H.I.V. negative.”After concerns were raised that the drama could lead to misconceptions around contemporary H.I.V. treatments, Channel 4 now advises viewers after each episode on where to find further information.A celebration of ‘Jills’“It’s a Sin” has also sparked praise for the allies of people affected by the disease: friends who visit people in hospital when their families failed to turn up, march in protest and campaign on behalf of H.I.V.-positive people.The character of Jill (Lydia West) embodies these loyal friends, and is loosely based on a real woman, Jill Nalder, who lived in London in the ’80s and is a friend of Davies. On the show, Nalder plays the character of Jill’s mother. Remembering the period in the Metro newspaper, she wrote: “The L.G.B.T.Q. community ought to be remembered as trailblazers because not only were they fighting for their lives, they were medical guinea pigs — sometimes taking 30 pills a day just to survive.”Jill (Lydia West), right, is a loyal friend to Ritchie (Olly Alexander) throughout the years. Credit… Ben Blackall/HBO Max“If you are a gay man, I hope you have a Jill,” wrote Guy Pewsey in Grazia.However, some viewers have been frustrated at the lack of representation of women affected by AIDS in the show. Lizbeth Farooqi, a fictional Muslim lawyer played by Seyan Sarvan, is one example, but is a relatively minor character. “It infuriates me that a lot of coverage of the show has concentrated Jill as the avatar of good womanhood and being this lovely, soft, supportive person,” Lisa Power, a co-founder of the British L.G.B.T.Q. charity Stonewall, told The Guardian. “I want to hear more about the stroppy lesbian solicitor, who most people have not even managed to read as a lesbian.”Institutionalized stigmaThe drama also touches on legislation around the L.G.B.T.Q. community in Britain at the time. In particular, the consequences of Section 28, a 1988 law introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government banning teaching that promoted the “acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”In one scene, Ash (Nathaniel Curtis) is asked to check a school library’s books to make sure they comply with the law, only to find that they did. “I looked at all the vast halls of literature and culture and science and art,” he said. “There is nothing.”Section 28 was repealed in 2003, but some say its consequences are still being felt in Britain today. Speaking to The Telegraph, Howells, who plays Colin, lamented that the AIDS crisis was not taught in schools. “Why? How? How can this thing happen, literally kill millions of people, and yet they can’t even implement it in education?” he asked.Some people have also drawn parallels between the stigma that gay, lesbian and bisexual people received in the 1980s and the experience of trans people in Britain today. On Twitter Michael Cashman, another of Stonewall’s co-founders, wrote that some lesbian, gay and bisexual people who lived through that period “are now visiting the same stigmatization, misrepresentation and dehumanization of trans people particularly trans women.”The power of ‘La’During the first episode of the show, Ritchie steps in front of a crowd at a house party, dressed in drag, to sing just one syllable: “La!”“Is that it?” someone in the crowd shouts back. His friends react in hysterics. From that point onward, the characters say “La!” as a greeting and a goodbye. Speaking to “It’s a Sin: After Hours,” an accompanying Channel 4 show, Davies said that “La” was a joke among his friends when he was growing up in Swansea.Philip Normal, a London artist, decided to make and sell a T-shirt emblazoned with the word, with proceeds going to the Terrence Higgins Trust. “For me, it really underpins the love the characters have in the show and the respect and love that I’ve experienced in the L.G.B.T. community when I moved to London as a young gay man,” he said in a telephone interview.He said he had now raised £200,000 for the charity, adding: “I didn’t think it was going to take off! I thought I would sell, like five.”AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    What’s on TV This Week: ‘Mr. Soul!’ and the Golden Globes

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }What to WatchBest Movies on NetflixBest of Disney PlusBest of Amazon PrimeBest Netflix DocumentariesNew on NetflixAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyWhat’s on TV This Week: ‘Mr. Soul!’ and the Golden GlobesA documentary on the pioneering variety show “Soul!” is on PBS. And the Golden Globes air on NBC from both coasts.A scene from the documentary “Mr. Soul!”Credit…Shoes in the Bed ProductionsFeb. 22, 2021, 1:00 a.m. ETBetween network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is a vast one. Here are some of the shows, specials and movies coming to TV this week, Feb. 22-28. Details and times are subject to change.MondayINDEPENDENT LENS: ‘MR. SOUL!’ (2020) 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). A documentary about the variety show “Soul!” which aired on PBS from 1968 to ’73. “Soul!” was created and hosted by theater producer Ellis Haizlip, and produced by a Black, women-led crew. In a New York Times interview, Felipe Luciano, who worked on the production team, explained, “‘Soul!’ gave viewers the first genuine sense of the expansiveness of Black culture.” This documentary, directed by Melissa Haizlip, the niece of the show’s creator, features Sidney Poitier, Blair Underwood and Patti LaBelle.AMERICAN GREED 8 p.m. on CNBC. This documentary series about scams reaches its season finale by exploring the world of social media scammers and crowdfunding. One of the schemes in the episode involves Katelyn McClure and her boyfriend Mark D’Amico, who made headlines for setting up a misleading GoFundMe campaign in 2017 along with Johnny Bobbitt, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran the couple claimed they were trying to help.TuesdayTHE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002) 8 p.m. on AMC. Matt Damon stars as Jason Bourne, a man suffering from amnesia and rescued by a fishing boat. He can’t recall details of his life, including his own name. Bourne begins to remember some, and realizes that he can speak French and German. He’s also an expert in hand-to-hand combat, which comes in handy once he begins to outrun authorities targeting him. “Mr. Damon at first seems too moody and cerebral to be an action hero, but he grasps Bourne’s predicament perfectly, and takes it seriously enough to make the film’s improbable conceit seem more interesting than it might otherwise have been,” A.O. Scott wrote in his review for The Times.WednesdayZac Efron, left, and Hugh Jackman in “The Greatest Showman.”Credit…Niko Tavernise/20th Century FoxTHE GREATEST SHOWMAN (2017) 7:40 p.m. on FXM. P.T. Barnum is a name synonymous with the long-running circus bearing his name. The circus took its final bow in 2017, but audiences can still experience it through “The Greatest Showman,” which introduces audiences to the man behind the show. The film is a rag-to-riches tale, starting in Barnum’s childhood as a penniless orphan full of ideas and imagination. He is drawn to wax museums, then live performance. “‘Showman’ has the ingredients of a splashy good time, since it has the perfect star in Hugh Jackman, the most charismatic Broadway leading man of his generation,” Jason Zinoman wrote in his review for The Times.A SOLDIER’S STORY (1984) 10 p.m. on TCM. Set during World War II, this Academy Award-nominated film, based on a play by Charles Fuller, takes place on an all-Black Louisiana military base. When a sergeant is murdered, his death is investigated by Capt. Richard Davenport, a lawyer and one of the few highly ranked Black officers in the entire United States military. As the captain investigates the tensions between Black soldiers and the white officers who run combat basic training are revealed. The original stage work, “A Soldier’s Play,” belatedly debuted on Broadway last year; in an interview at the time, Fuller explained why he chose World War II for a setting. “Whenever you think about World War II and World War I, you think about white people,” he said. “Aren’t we worth some kind of interest — all those deaths of Africans, African-Americans, Black people from all over the world?”ThursdayCharlize Theron in “Snow White and the Huntsman.”Credit…Alex Bailey/Universal PicturesSNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (2012) 8 p.m. on HBO. This retelling of the Snow White tale features Kristen Stewart in the title role and Charlize Theron as the queen, Ravenna. The film is a departure from the 1937 Disney version, with a much-darker approach. “Though it is an ambitious — at times mesmerizing — application of the latest cinematic technology, the movie tries to recapture some of the menace of the stories that used to be told to scare children rather than console them,” A.O. Scott wrote in his review for The Times. “Its mythic-medieval landscapes are heavily shadowed and austere, and its flights of magic are summoned from a zone of barely suppressed rage and dangerous power.”FridayMISS CONGENIALITY (2000) 7 p.m. on Bravo. Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock), an F.B.I. agent, realizes a major terrorist’s next target is a Miss United States pageant. Since there are no other female agents, Hart is asked to go undercover and take part in the pageant to help prevent the attack. She’s a far cry from the traditional candidate, though. “The problem of course,” A.O. Scott wrote in his review for The Times, “is that in spite of her name, she’s spectacularly graceless, utterly lacking in the poised femininity that the pageant celebrates.”SaturdayCHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981) 5:45 p.m. on TCM. The two men in this tale, set during the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, are sprinters representing Britain. But their similarities end there. One, Harold Abrahams, is the son of a Lithuanian Jew and works to navigate where exactly he fits in as part of British society. (Being athletic gives him an advantage.) The other, Eric Liddell, was born in China to Christian missionaries and sees running as a platform for him to spread the word of God.SundayTina Fey, left, and Amy Poehler hosting the Golden Globe Awards in 2015. The pair will return to host this year’s ceremony on Sunday.Credit…Paul Drinkwater/NBC, via Associated PressTHE 78TH ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS 8 p.m. on NBC. The Golden Globes will be broadcast from both coasts. Tina Fey will host a portion from the Rainbow Room in New York, and Amy Poehler will host from the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. The nominees for best drama include “The Father,” “Mank,” “Nomadland,” “Promising Young Woman” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Netflix leads with 42 nominations, including for series like “The Queen’s Gambit,” “Ozark” and “The Crown.”AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More