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post #96481 of 96487 Old Today, 03:11 AM
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Critic's Notes
Weighing whether it is words or reality
By Mike Snider, USA Today's 'Cutting the Cord' Column - Aug. 30, 2014

Want more proof that cord cutting is officially a thing? It's caught the attention of the folks who publish the Oxford English Dictionary.

The term "cord cutter" isn't yet part of the Oxford English Dictionary, which is often considered the arbiter of the language. But it has been added to OxfordDictionaries.com, the first step toward OED inclusion.

Along with "cord cutter," the online dictionary also added "binge-watch" and "hate-watch," which means watching a program you don't like, just so you can rant about it. A few other words added: "amazeballs" and "side-boob."

Updated quarterly, OxfordDictionaries.com is a more contemporary counterpart to the Oxford English Dictionary, which is due for its own quarterly update in September. Words migrate to the OED, but not quite that quickly, says Katherine Martin, who is the head of the U.S. dictionaries at Oxford University Press.

"There's a lot of evidence for 'cord cutter' right now so if it stays in (the vernacular) much longer it will be a very good candidate," she says.

The last print version of the OED came out in 1989, so OED.com is the up-to-date document. There are some sample entries you can look at, but a subscription runs $29.95 monthly or $295 annually.

When the OED researchers looked into the background of "cord cutter," they found it has also been used to describe those who were dropping landline phone service for cellphones, Martin says.

"It's a fun word because you are comparing the cable or telephone companies to your umbilical cord," she says. "It's a fun piece of new English usage. And I think the fact we are adding 'binge-watch' and 'hate-watch' and 'cord cutter' all at the same time speaks to the fact that the way that we consume video content is changing a lot right now. So when things in society change, the English language tends to evolve a lot of new ways to talk about them. If I were looking at a linguistic trend, it would be that our entertainment consumption habits are really being revolutionized right now, and we are needing new words to describe the phenomenon."

That all makes sense, but could the concept of cord cutting be overblown?

Only about 5% of U.S. homes with broadband Net service have cut the pay TV cord, says Parks Associates research analyst Glenn Hower. "We are not projecting really any increase in that," he says.

That's confirmed by a recent eMarketer analysis of recent cord-cutting research that deemed it "more myth than reality," with perhaps 1 million U.S. cord cutters expected in 2014. Rather, consumers are more likely to switch from cable to telco and satellite services and chip away at their overall pay TV bill, the research firm's report projects.

"A big part of that is just the fact that consumers in the U.S. especially really like their video content and in a lot of instances that is just not really available without a pay TV subscription," Hower said. "You can get certain things from Hulu and Netflix but it is a very fragmented experience and you have to subscribe to multiple services to get all the content you want and even then you won't have access to (everything)."

How online video services evolve — and traditional pay TV providers respond — will dictate whether "cord cutter" has a future on OED.com or not.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/p...nary/14683203/
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post #96482 of 96487 Old Today, 03:15 AM
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TV Notes
Fox's ‘Utopia’ Live Feeds Are Free and Streaming Now
By Jason Hughes, TheWrap.com - Aug. 29, 2014

Fox's “Utopia” is a little more than a week away from its Setp. 9 premiere, but curious fans can check out the action already on the show's live feeds. Like CBS's “Big Brother,” the feeds will be available 24/7, but there is one major difference: “Utopia” offers free feeds, as well as more enhanced feeds for paid subscribers.

Free subscribers can view two HD live streams, as well as voting for new members of the “Utopia” society, and gaining access to select news items and videos. Fox also offers a “premium passport” for $5 a month. This passport gives viewers access to four different live streams with no ads, and access to live chat.

The adventure began on Friday, with the contestants relocating from their sequestered hotels onto the five-acre “Utopia” set. While everyone is being very nice and courteous in these early hours of getting to know one another, this is a varied cast coming from widely divergent backgrounds.

Like MTV's “The Real World” said back in the day, this show won't get real until people “stop being polite.” Unlike “Big Brother,” “Utopia” offers very little in the way of structure. It's not a game per se, and there aren't competitions. But people will leave the game, and new people will join, based on as-yet-undefined viewer and peer votes.

“Utopia” will premiere across three nights on Fox: Sunday Sept. 7, Tuesday Sept. 9, and Friday Sept. 12. All episodes will broadcast at 8/7c. It will then continue on Tuesdays and Fridays at 8/7c.

http://www.thewrap.com/foxs-utopia-l...streaming-now/
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post #96483 of 96487 Old Today, 03:20 AM
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TV Review
Houdini miniseries explores reality of magician
By Michael Grandinetti, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Aug. 31, 2014

When I was growing up in West Mifflin and started studying magic, it was impossible not to discover Harry Houdini. His name and photo were in almost every magic book I read. He seemed larger than life — a man who could escape from anything, walk through walls and even make a grown elephant disappear from the center of an arena.

I was fascinated.

It’s now even more amazing to realize that in a time before YouTube, the Internet, television and even radio, Houdini, who lived from 1874 to 1926, reached the masses and became a household name. He did this by convincing the public that there were no confinements that could hold him and, in the process, inspiring them that they might be able to overcome their own challenges, too.

He connected with his audiences. They rooted for him and cheered him on, and they remembered the powerful emotion of optimism he made them feel.

As one of the most fascinating characters of early 20th-century entertainment, Houdini’s life has been covered in several books and movies, most notably the 1953 film starring Tony Curtis, a 1976 movie starring Paul Michael Glaser and a 1998 television movie starring Johnathon Schaech.

The new History miniseries, “Houdini,” starring Academy Award winner Adrien Brody as Harry Houdini and Kristen Connolly as his wife, Bess, shares the story of Houdini from a different perspective than past projects. Based on the novel “Houdini: A Mind in Chains: A Psychoanalytic Portrait” by Bernard C. Meyer, the movie explores how the situations and relationships that Houdini experienced through his life left a lasting impact, both personally and professionally.

Mr. Brody brings his own quality to his portrayal of Houdini. Where Houdini was only 5-foot-6 and muscular, the tall and thin Mr. Brody gives more of an emotional, vulnerable feel to Houdini than what we’ve seen before.

Ms. Connolly captures many of the essential qualities for the role of his wife, in her supportive yet impassioned reactions to Harry’s life and career. There are some embellishments to the story that veer from fact and, unfortunately, as in a lot of movies where illusion is the subject, some “Hollywood magic” was used to accomplish the magic effects (rather than actual illusion performances), such as when the elephant disappears from New York’s Hippodrome Theater.

Even with that in mind, this is an entertaining addition to the Houdini film history. Told through a series of flashbacks, with several twists, turns and cliffhangers, the stages of Houdini’s life are covered over the two-night broadcast.

As the film opens, Houdini is dropped, wrapped in chains, from a tall bridge into an ice-covered river as hundreds of spectators watch from above. This perfectly captures the essence of both Houdini and his story. We’re then taken back to his early days as Erich Weiss, a Hungarian immigrant growing up in Appleton, Wis. He’s driven by the support of his mother, and we watch as he moves from standard magic performances to discovering that overcoming escape challenges on stage produces a much stronger response from his audiences than he ever expected.

It’s interesting to note that as the development of movies and other advances create increasingly more competition for live theater, Houdini has to outdo himself, again and again, to stay on top — from being strapped to the mouth of a loaded cannon as a lit fuse draws near to hanging 20 stories in the air above a crowded street bound in a straitjacket. He was so successful that Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes series, actually believed that Houdini had magical powers.

An intriguing part to this miniseries that hasn’t been explored previously onscreen is Houdini’s suspected involvement as an American spy, using his world travels as a cover to obtain and transfer information. This film also portrays a darker side to his story by depicting a sometimes strained relationship between Harry and Bess, drug and alcohol usage, and Harry’s well-documented, intense fights against spirit mediums later in his career.

To me, one of the truest insights into Houdini’s character is on display when we see that he was not satisfied with just mastering magic. He was also compelled to involve himself in the latest fascinations of society as well. When movies first appeared, he starred in two, both including his escapes.

In the end, it’s actually the unexpected itself that brings a sudden close to Houdini’s story, which is augmented in the film with actual footage from his funeral. Despite his incredibly accomplished life, when watching this, one can’t help but wonder what Houdini might have achieved next had his time not been tragically cut so short.

The effect that Houdini had on the people of the time is probably best summed up in the movie in a conversation he has with his doctor, from his hospital bed, near the end of his life. When Harry tells the doctor he is a fake, the doctor responds, “You thrilled millions. I took my family every time you played Detroit. Is it fake to make people happy, fake to help millions escape their own problems and inspire them? You are the realest person I've ever met.”

One of the biggest dreams of any entertainer is to attain longevity, staying power. Houdini not only did this during his career, but unlike almost all of his contemporaries, nearly 90 years after he left the stage, we are still talking about him, remembering him and fascinated by his accomplishments.

That may be his greatest magical feat of all.

“HOUDINI”
When: 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday on the History Channel, with numerous repeat showings.


http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/tv-ra...s/201408310052
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post #96484 of 96487 Old Today, 03:24 AM
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Critic's Notes
Amazon hits some bumps with its third pilot season, but 'Red Oaks' and 'The Cosmopolitans' show promise
Less to be excited about than in the second batch of pilots
By Alan Sepinwall, HitFix.com - Aug. 29, 2014

Amazon keeps accelerating the pace and output of its "pilot season" process. The original batch of Amazon pilots were presented to the public in April of last year; of those, only "Alpha House" (which got renewed for a second season) and "Betas" (which remains in limbo) got picked up. The second batch of pilots were unveiled less than a year later, and Amazon ordered almost all of them — other than "Rebels," the pro football comedy that no one seemed to like — to series. That was in February, and while none of those new shows has debuted — "Transparent," the best of the bunch, will premiere all of its episodes, Netflix-style, on September 26 — Amazon yesterday unveiled its third pilot season, even as there's already news about casting for the fourth wave of Amazon pilots. At this rate, they may be ordering some shows before a word's even been written, and traveling back in time to cancel others before the creator has even thought of the idea.

Since only two Amazon shows have actually presented full seasons so far, and since Amazon ordered virtually all of its second batch of pilots, it's hard to identify too many patterns in what Amazon executives and Amazon customers are looking for in their shows. But the third batch — two hour-long dramas and three half-hour comedies — do offer some clues, as well as some things to get excited about and some things to be disappointed by.

You can see a through line, for instance, between "Transparent" (Jill Soloway's story of an aging man who begins a gender transition, and the adult children reacting to that) and the new "The Cosmopolitans," the Whit Stillman-created tale of a group of young American expats (one of them played by Adam Brody) living in Paris. Both shows would have very few homes available to them (maybe HBO would have considered one or both, filling one of their token "we don't think this is commercial at all, but we like it" slots like "Enlightened" and "Tremé" have in the past), and both are clearly the unfiltered work of their creators. "The Cosmopolitans" feels exactly like the first half-hour of a Whit Stillman film (of which there have been precious few), even beyond the Chloe Sevigny cameo. Like "Transparent," I can imagine "Cosmopolitans" attracting a small but very passionate audience.

That said, "Cosmopolitans" isn't as satisfying a viewing experience as "Transparent" was. There's wry banter and a fantastic sense of place, but it really doesn't function as the first episode of a TV show, because it just stops at the half-hour mark. Stillman told Grantland that he originally wrote an hour-long pilot, and when he wasn't satisfied with the second half, Amazon told him to just shoot the first, and it plays that way. I like Stillman's work enough (and am glad to see Brody in a regular series again) that I'll watch more if Amazon orders this to series, but it's the second-best of this wave of pilots by default as much as it is for the pleasures of Stillman's writing.

The best of this round by a country mile is "Red Oaks," produced by Steven Soderbergh, directed by David Gordon Green and written by Greg Jacobs and Joe Gangemi. A period comedy about a teenage tennis pro (Craig Roberts from "Submarine") at a country club in 1985, it feels fully-formed from its opening moments, is funny when it wants to be and has an instantly-deep bench of characters. Now, many of them are playing off of familiar archetypes from other teen and/or period comedies — as the mustachioed photographer who shoots all the weddings and bar mitzvahs at the club (and who enjoys hitting on the younger female employees), Josh Meyers is essentially playing Wooderson from "Dazed and Confused" — but the show neatly straddles a line between pastiche and sincerity. The broadcast networks are going to be debuting their fall shows in the coming weeks, and I'd rather see a second episode of "Red Oaks" than virtually anything the networks are giving us.

The third comedy, "Really," has the bad timing to come only six weeks after the debut of the virtually identical "Married" on FX. Created by and co-starring Jay Chandrasekhar, it's another story of a marriage that's starting to go stale from routine, the stress of work and parenting, and a lack of regular sex. This is a more upscale version of that story, with different actors (Sarah Chalke here fills the role played by her former "Mad Love" co-star Judy Greer on "Married," and the supporting cast includes Selma Blair, Collette Wolfe, Lindsay Sloane and Travis Schuldt) and slightly more explicit humor. But otherwise, it's really damn close. "Married" has gotten better after a really unpleasant pilot, and maybe "Really" could as well, but I'd only rank it third among the new Amazon pilots because the dramas are not good at all.

"Hand of God" is another Cable Anti-Hero 101 show, structured very similarly to Starz's "Boss," with a revered authority figure (Ron Perlman as a SoCal judge) who is either losing his mind or hearing actual messages from God after a traumatic incident inspires him to become born again. There are lots of shady backroom deals (many of them made by Andre Royo from "The Wire" as the city's mayor, and/or by Dana Delany as Perlman's wife), lots of religious and/or hallucinatory images, lots of violence and nudity and every other cliché we've come to expect from these kinds of shows, all presented in a way that suggests they are profound rather than silly and pretentious. It looks pretty (Marc Forster directed the pilot), but this is one I powered through out of professional obligation rather than enjoyment.

On the plus side, "Hand of God" at least gives a clear sense of what kind of show it wants to be and what stories it's telling. The pilot for "Hysteria" (written by Shaun Cassidy) is... well... I'm not entirely sure what it's about. There's some kind of strange disease — possibly psychosomatic, possibly real, possibly spread via social media (topical horror!) — and there's Mena Suvari as the doctor brought in to figure out what the hell is going on, all while she battles her own personal demons, and there's a lot of angst involving a cop having an affair with a teenage temptress, and a lot of yelling and spasming and occasional dance performances. But the whole thing's a mess overall that repeats certain images way too many times just to make sure we understand the nature of viral video, Suvari doesn't provide enough of a center, and too much of what happens is cryptic solely for the sake of being cryptic. There's no there there, which is unfortunate, because Cassidy usually does very well at playing with genre tropes.

Again, we still have a bit of time before the second wave of Amazon shows actually start appearing online as more than just pilots. I'm looking forward to several of them (and will be running interviews with several of the creators closer to their respective debuts). That second batch of pilots wasn't perfect, but it was a notable improvement on the first group, and suggested a healthy growth curve for Amazon. This third group has its highlights (even if "Red Oaks" is the only one emerged from the pilot oven baked all the way through), but it's also a reminder that content providers don't inherently get better and better all the time. HBO had some bumps after its initial wave of millennial successes, just as FX did after the troika of "The Shield," "Nip/Tuck" and "Rescue Me." But it's always fun to see a new operator at work, even if it only adds to the Too Much Interesting TV dilemma.

What did everybody else think? Is there a new Amazon pilot you're especially eager to see as a series? One you wish you could down-vote as many times as possible? And are you getting impatient for any of the second wave shows to finally debut?

http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-wat...s-show-promise
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FRIDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog.
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TV Notes
ISIS, Ukraine, Joan Rivers: Sunday topics
By Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel's 'TV Guy' Blog - Aug. 29, 2014

The Sunday morning programs will run the gamut from ISIS and Ukraine to Joan Rivers' hospitalization. The lineup:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., talks to NBC's "Meet the Press" at 9 a.m. on WESH-Channel 2. A panel on ISIS brings together Gen. Anthony Zinni (Ret.), former commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command; Michele Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy; and Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. A political roundtable features Afghanistan War veteran Wes Moore,
Dan Henninger of The Wall Street Journal, Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The guest moderator is Andrea Mitchell. The program offers a preview with Chuck Todd, who becomes moderator Sept. 8.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., are guests on "State of the Union" at 9 a.m. and noon on CNN. Other guests are Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. A political panel brings together Lanhee Chen, a Mitt Romney adviser in 2012; Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson; Penny Lee, former adviser to Sen. Harry Reid; and CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Jessica Lewis of the Institute for the Study of War are guests on "Fox News Sunday" at 10 a.m. on WOFL-Channel 35. Other guests are Mark Mellman, CEO of the Mellman Group, and Bill McInturff, co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies. The program offers a feature on Vincent Rossi and Adam Metallo, 3D digitation program officers at the Smithsonian Museum. The panel will be George Will, Julie Pace of The Associated Press, Michael Needham of Heritage Action for America and Charles Lane of The Washington Post.

Sen. John McCain talks to CBS' "Face the Nation" at 10:30 a.m. on WKMG-Channel 6. Other guests are Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.; Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.; Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute; and Michael Singh of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

ABC's "This Week" offers a roundtable at 11 a.m. on WFTV-Channel 9. The panelists are Cokie Roberts and Matthew Dowd of ABC; former Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M.; and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.

Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, are guests on "Fareed Zakaria GPS" at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on CNN.

Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, talks to "Sunday Morning Futures" at 10 a.m. on Fox News Channel. Other guests are journalist Judith Miller, Capt. Chuck Nash and Richard Grenell, former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations. The panel is GOP consultant Ed Rollins, KT McFarland and Martin Sass, CEO and chairman of Sass.

Nancy O'Dell of "Entertainment Tonight" discusses Joan Rivers on "Reliable Sources" at 11 a.m. on CNN. Other guests are Guest: Anjem Choudary of London Imam; Josh Rogin of The Daily Beast; author and political activist Naomi Wolf; Matti Friedman, former correspondent for The Associated Press; and Patrick Gottsch, founder & chairman of RFD-TV.

"MediaBuzz" starts at 11 a.m. on Fox News Channel. The guests are Lauren Ashburn, Charles Gasparino of Fox Business Network, Joe Concha of Mediaite, Mara Liasson of NPR, David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun and Jim Pinkerton.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/enter...0,7963893.post
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Business/Legal Notes
Aereo Tells Judge It Can Beat Lawsuit Despite Supreme Court Ruling
By Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Hollywood Esq.' Column - Aug. 29, 2014

On Friday, Aereo filed its opposition to an injunction demanded by television broadcasters. As expected, the digital TV company is asserting that it is a "cable system" and is therefore entitled to a statutory license under Section 111 of the Copyright Act.

Two weeks ago, after U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan said that broadcasters should get the opportunity to first make an injunction motion before Aereo opposed, the plaintiffs did just that with one that was aimed at stopping Aereo from "streaming, transmitting, retransmitting, or otherwise publicly performing any Copyrighted Programming over the Internet... or by means of any device or process throughout the United States of America."

The broadcasters said that it was in keeping with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on June 25 to interpret Aereo's system of capturing over-the-air television signals and relaying them to subscribers' digital devices as a violation of broadcasters' public performance rights.

Justice Stephen Breyer likened Aereo to a cable system -- an unlicensed one -- which has led the company to fully embrace the designation in the interest of saving its company.

According to Aereo's memo opposing an injunction, "At oral argument, the [Supreme] Court made clear its understanding that its ruling would entitle Aereo to a Section 111 license when Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor specifically stated, 'We say they’re a c[]able company, they get the compulsory license.'”

"Indeed, the Court specifically found that with respect to its 'Watch Now' functionality, Aereo is a facility that receives television broadcast signals and makes secondary transmissions to its subscribers," continues the brief.
The broadcasters have pointed to arguments why Aereo won't prevail in the copyright case and can't attain a statutory license including WPIX, Inc. v. ivi, Inc., a 2nd Circuit opinion from 2012 that knocked down a statutory license attempt from a Aereo predecessor.

"But ivi concerned nationwide, out-of-market retransmissions that are fundamentally different from Aereo’s in-market-only technology and thus it does not apply here," responds Aereo. "Aereo has paid the statutory license fees required under Section 111, and thus Plaintiffs can no longer complain that they are not being compensated as copyright owners."

Aereo raises another argument about why it is likely to succeed in the case. It points to the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Those govern takedown procedures when infringing works are hosted by digital service providers. Aereo says it is entitled to such safe harbor.

The defendant also asserts that the TV broadcasters have failed to show any "irreparable imminent harm" -- one of the two main factors in the issuance of a preliminary injunction -- even though Judge Nathan ruled in favor of the broadcasters on this point when she first denied a preliminary injunction.

"That preliminary finding, however, was based on Plaintiffs’ testimony that Plaintiffs contradicted almost immediately in public statements to investors and that has been further debunked in discovery," says Aereo. "Plaintiffs have admitted that, notwithstanding the fact that Aereo continued to operate and expand in the two years after the denial of the preliminary injunction, they suffered no harm to their retransmission negotiations. For example, the CEO of CBS has said that Aereo has not 'affected us in terms of one sub, one deal, one anything.'”

If those arguments don't work, Aereo is at least seeking to narrow the injunction to cover the live aspect of its service and not the time-shifted DVR functions. In truth, it's that aspect of Judge Nathan's forthcoming decision that warrants closest attention. Other services such as Tivo have recently come out with digital services or products that attempt to exploit antennas and remote-DVR functionality. Aereo tells the judge, "Cablevision [a 2008 case] remains the law in this Circuit and Aereo’s time-shifted DVR is functionally identical to the Cablevision system."

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr...an-beat-729201
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