Articles on this Page
- 04/20/17--12:16: _15 new photos from ...
- 04/21/17--07:06: _'The X-Files' is co...
- 04/21/17--07:16: _Stephen Colbert mak...
- 04/21/17--07:57: _Jimmy Kimmel hilari...
- 04/22/17--11:54: _The salaries of you...
- 04/23/17--07:22: _The new 'Silicon Va...
- 04/23/17--08:11: _Why you need to be ...
- 04/23/17--16:58: _Binge-watching Netf...
- 04/23/17--19:00: _How 'The Leftovers'...
- 04/24/17--01:57: _11 of the best natu...
- 04/24/17--06:32: _HBO's new 'Silicon ...
- 04/24/17--07:33: _The simple trick a ...
- 04/24/17--07:36: _John Oliver: Why Iv...
- 04/24/17--11:54: _Two ways 'Seinfeld'...
- 04/24/17--12:16: _'We're not here to ...
- 04/24/17--13:22: _The most important ...
- 04/25/17--06:20: _Hollywood is danger...
- 04/25/17--07:43: _Stephen Colbert tha...
- 04/25/17--07:51: _How real events and...
- 04/25/17--07:52: _'The Bachelor' star...
- 04/21/17--07:06: 'The X-Files' is coming back for another season at Fox
- 04/23/17--08:11: Why you need to be watching 'Feud: Bette and Joan'
- 04/23/17--16:58: Binge-watching Netflix shows can actually be good for you
- 04/24/17--01:57: 11 of the best nature documentaries on Netflix
- "Silicon Valley" references real tech companies in its opening credits.
- Each season, they add new relevant companies with inside jokes.
- The season four credits include Pinterest, Airbnb, Dropbox, and Yelp.
- Plus there's a Snap Inc. "ghost" floating by the Facebook offices.
- Alec Berg runs HBO's "Silicon Valley." He wrote for Seinfeld and Conan O'Brien too.
- He got his start by cold-calling people and asking to talk for 15 minutes.
- Then he would meet with them and try to make them laugh.
- He says the key is "Don't be an asshole."
- 04/24/17--11:54: Two ways 'Seinfeld' changed TV forever
- People remember Seinfeld as a historically funny show. But it was also historically innovative.
- Unlike sitcoms that came before, Seinfeld episodes didn't have little moral lessons.
- Seinfeld also stuffed WAY more scenes into a half hour than shows had before.
- Alec Berg is the showrunner of HBO's "Silicon Valley."
- Like the real industry its based on, the show doesn't have a large number of women cast in major roles.
- Berg says the writers "put a lot of thought into" the satire and says their role is "to hold up a mirror to it" as opposed to faking "the tech business as a more gender inclusive place."
- Berg also said "we're not a social justice show and we're not here to right the wrongs of society. We’re comedians."
- 04/24/17--13:22: The most important lesson Larry David taught 'Seinfeld' writers
- Alec Berg joined "Seinfeld" as a writer in 1994.
- Larry David didn't "savor" Berg's first script for the show. He skimmed it.
- David taught Berg that the most important part of a comedy TV script is "what happens."
- In David's later show, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" all writers wrote is "what happens."
- "Silicon Valley" showrunner Alec Berg believes the tech world is "an incredibly fertile" area that's ripe for satire.
- They avoid writing direct caricatures of real people.
- Instead they blend traits and behaviors of multiple leaders in tech.
- The writers keep up with news, but they avoid being too topical.
HBO just released the first official images from the hotly anticipated season seven of "Game of Thrones," and they look awesome. But also very, very dark.
Winter is definitely here, after six whole seasons of everyone being told it was coming. Every character is bundled up in furs and coats and dressed in black and other dark colors. Dark times are coming, and it is very clear that no one is safe.
The images don't tell us everything, of course, but with a closer look, some of them do inform us about where characters are geographically, and suggest whom they're with and where they're headed.
It's all we have until "Game of Thrones" season seven premieres on July 16, or at least until we get a full-length trailer.
Here are the 15 first official images from season seven of "Game of Thrones":
Daenerys Targaryen and her crew make it to Westeros.
Looks like Dany and her really, really big crew have safely made it to Westeros. Looks like they're staring at something — or someone — important. This is probably Dragonstone, the original home of the Targaryens.
Tyrion Lannister is keeping an eye out.
He's looking sharp but also very tired as Hand of the Queen.
Missandei is also looking at something.
And it is probably the same thing Tyrion is looking at.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The truth is still out there. Again.
Fox has ordered a new 10-episode revival of “The X-Files,” the classic television sci-fi drama that returned to the network’s air with a limited series last year. The new installments — billed as a continuation of the 10-episode 2016 run, will premiere during the 2017-18 television season. The production will again reunite original stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson with series creator and showrunner Chris Carter, and is slated to begin production this summer.
“The X-Files” tells the story of Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson), paranormal investigators for the FBI.
“Iconic characters, rich storytelling, bold creators – these are the hallmarks of great TV shows. And they are some of the reasons why ‘The X-Files’ has had such a profound impact on millions of fans worldwide,” said David Madden, President, Fox Broadcasting Company. “Chris’ creativity, along with the brilliant work of David and Gillian, continue to propel this pop culture phenomenon, and we can’t wait to see what fresh mysteries Mulder and Scully uncover in this next chapter of ‘The X-Files’.”
The 2016 limited-series revival of “The X-Files” averaged a multiplatform audience of 16 million viewers, according to Fox. It also averaged a 4.8 rating in the 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen live-plus-seven numbers, making it the fifth highest-rated broadcast series of the season.
“The X-Files” premiered on Fox in 1993. It became one of the definitive programs of the network’s early years, earning 16 Primetime Emmy Awards over its initial nine-season run.
Fox in recent years has leaned heavily into revivals of successful past series, bringing back “X-Files”and “Prison Break,” which is currently in the middle of a nine-episode run, as well as “24: Legacy” earlier this season.
The 2016 “X-Files” revival received a lukewarm reception from critics. In his review for Variety, Brian Lowry wrote, “While the performers have aged in only the most flattering of ways, and Fox has milked the build-up for all it’s worth, there’s a feeling that everyone is just going through the motions, despite the durability of the show’s central conceit about distrusting authority and the prospect of shadowy conspiracies reaching into the highest levels of government and business.”
See Fox's teaser image below:
On Thursday night's "The Late Show," host Stephen Colbert continued to rip into Bill O'Reilly, who was dropped by Fox News following sexual-harassment accusations against the conservative host. O'Reilly could get a payout from the cable news network of $25 million.
"If you do the math, that is twice as much as they paid his accusers," Colbert said.
To get an idea of what O'Reilly will do next with his career, Colbert turned to O'Reilly's 1998 novel, "Those Who Trespass," which has some troubling signs. Colbert pointed out that the book is dedicated to "the women in my life," and that "the main character of this novel is a brash TV journalist named Shannon Michaels, who is fired from his network news job."
Well, that sounds familiar. Colbert then read from a section after the character is fired that Colbert thinks offers a scary suggestion about O'Reilly's future:
"His career was the source of his feelings of omnipotence and grandiosity. His job gave him daily ego gratification and excitement. It reinforced his opinion that he was a very special human being. He got the attention he craved, the admiration of thousands. Being on TV was like a drug a drug to him, and when it was taken away from him he had to find a substitute drug: planning and carrying out the executions of those people who had humiliated him."
Colbert emphasized that he and his team did not make those words up. And then he tried to convince Bill O'Reilly that he never humilated the Fox News host, because the "Stephen Colbert" character on "The Colbert Report," he claimed, was actually played by Steve Carell, who is "long overdue for an Oscar on that one."
You can watch the segment below:
Jimmy Kimmel created a new drink for Starbucks in response to the uproar over its latest product, the Unicorn Frappuccino.
The late-night host referred to the frosty, pink drink as "Starbucks' latest abomination" on Thursday's episode of ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
"It's the first cappuccino that looks like a windbreaker from the '80s," Kimmel joked.
The Unicorn Frappuccino is made with pink powder, mango syrup, and sour blue drizzle. It's apparently so outrageous to many that one Starbucks barista's online video plea for customers not to buy it went viral.
"It's got everything in it, but coffee," Kimmel said. "And when you stir it up, the color changes to pink and the flavor changes. Who says America doesn't invent anything anymore? It's only available through April 23 or when someone dies from drinking it, whatever comes first."
He then introduced his own concoction as Starbucks' other new drink, which he claims was invented to "specifically suit our troubled time."
It's called the "F--k-it-ccino." Its ingredients include pancake batter, French fries, the antidepressant Lexapro, and, oh, coffee.
Watch the spoof below:
Not even James Bond is living as large as you think.
The online marketplace for businesses Bizdaq researched the average salaries for the jobs of various TV, film, and other fictional characters.
Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) from "The Devil Wears Prada," tops the list with a salary of $2 million. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) from “30 Rock," takes a close second. As the head writer for a TV show on NBC, her estimated salary is $1.1 million.
While James Bond’s $101,093 seems hefty to the average person, it’s actually not a lot considering how often he risks his life for the job — unfortunately MI6 is no NBC. He makes slightly more than Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory,” and slightly less than Ross Geller from “Friends.”
For the salaries of your favorite characters like Don Draper, Walter White, Ellen Ripley, and Indiana Jones, check out the graphic below:
The new season of "Silicon Valley" examines a common issue in the tech industry known as pivoting.
Pivoting is the decision companies make when they realize what's appealing to customers and what isn't, then decide to focus their efforts on what's working. In many cases, they find that the product or service that's clicking with consumers isn't what their companies were originally founded on.
That's where fans will find Pied Piper on the fourth season of HBO's "Silicon Valley," premiering on Sunday at 10 p.m.
"A lot of companies are started with one thing in mind and then they turn into something else," "Silicon Valley" executive producer Clay Tarver recently told Business Insider.
Tarver referred to Instagram's origin as a sort of Foursquare knockoff called Burbn and Yelp's turn away from its original incarnation as a business referral site and into a review site when it noticed that its users were writing unsolicited business reviews instead of answering referral requests.
On "Silicon Valley," the pivot into video messaging puts Pied Piper founder Richard (Thomas Middleditch) at a crossroads. Does he accept that his data-compression algorithm is a failure and go along with the video-messaging app, or remain focused on his original vision?
"Everyone who starts a company and founds something like Pied Piper, I think they reach a moment where they're questioning,'Is this it? Is this really what I want to do?' It's like with any of our dreams," Tarver said. "In season three, Richard went and finally got to do what he wanted to do, but no one really liked it. It was too complicated for them, and too advanced. It was too good. And it was heartbreaking for him, but we felt that was a really interesting dilemma for him to face."
On season four, the act of pivoting and Richard's decision about what to pursue become central.
"For Richard, this amazing algorithm that he has, we view it as, almost like his soul," Tarver said. "So can he have success without selling his soul? Or selling it short?"
"Feud: Bette and Joan" is the first installment of Ryan Murphy's new anthology series, in the vein of "American Horror Story" and "American Crime Story." Each season of "Feud" will follow a famous feud throughout history.
This first season, now airing on FX, tells the true story of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, competitive Hollywood stars who were in the 1962 movie "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" together, even though they hated each other.
"Feud: Bette and Joan" is the perfect outlet for Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kathy Bates, and other older actors to prove they have a lot of talent and don't need to be under 30 to take on juicy leading roles. Move over, Jennifer Lawrence! Actors who are actually the age of the people they're playing are getting the roles they deserve.
It's the perfect weekend to binge-watch the season, since the eighth and final episode of "Feud: Bette and Joan" airs this Sunday on FX.
Season two of the anthology series will focus on Prince Charles and Princess Diana. There's still no word on whether season three will follow the "feud" between Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel, but you heard that idea here first.
Here's why you should watch "Feud: Bette and Joan":
It's based on the real-life feud between two of old Hollywood's stars, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
Bette Davis won two Oscars, for "Dangerous" (1935) and "Jezebel" (1938). In 1963, she was nominated (instead of costar Joan Crawford) for her role in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"
Joan Crawford won an Oscar in 1946 for her role in "Mildred Pierce."
It's a little Hollywood history lesson.
In its early days, Hollywood operated on the studio system. This meant that studios hired actors on contracts. So actresses like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis would sign a six-picture deal with a studio before knowing what those six movies were, or how long it would take to film six pictures.
When actors and actresses began saying no to projects, lawsuits started up. Davis was one of the actors who said no to projects she didn't believe in, and this upset studio execs. Studio contracts were also very strict, and often affected the social and personal lives of actors.
The show totally calls out the men of Hollywood who manipulated these women into hating each other.
Studio execs, like Stanley Tucci's character Jack Warner, were the true masterminds behind the feud between Crawford and Davis. They created rumors and gossip, and used these women's vulnerabilities to sell tickets.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Call it Netflix’s spring binge.
At the end of March, Netflix released the critically acclaimed “13 Reasons Why.” April features new shows “Girl Boss” and “Bill Nye Saves the World,” while May’s lineup includes the second season of Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None,” along with the return of binge favorite “House of Cards,” back for its fifth season.
Many will relish getting lost for hours on end in these shows. But others might feel guilty about their extended screen time, seeing it as sign of laziness. Or maybe they’ve seen an article about one of those studies linking binge watching to depression.
As a professor of communication studies, I’m interested in understanding the ways people use TV, video games and social media to improve their well-being. And I’ve learned that even though watching TV gets a bad rap as the “junk food” of media diets, it can be good for you – as long as you give yourself permission to indulge.
Why TV gets the shaft
My colleagues and I collected some data suggesting that there is, in fact, a double standard for how we think about different media bingeing experiences. We administered a survey that recorded participants’ thoughts about reading or watching TV for the certain amounts of time.
Respondents associated more attributes like laziness and impulsivity with people who consume several hours of a television show in one sitting, compared to those who do the same with novels.
This finding probably comes as no surprise.
Although reading a novel for several hours at a time for entertainment can arguably be just as sedentary and addictive as watching TV, no derogatory term like “bingeing” exists for the act of devouring an entire Harry Potter novel in one night. We simply call it “reading.”
Just think about the pejorative term “binge,” which conjures images of excess and abuse (as with binge eating or binge drinking). Contrast this with “marathon viewing,” which connotes accomplishment, and has traditionally been used to describe the experience of consuming multiple installments of film – not TV series – in rapid succession.
Why is it that we “binge” when we watch a lot of TV, but it’s a “marathon” when we’re watching a bunch of movies?
Perhaps this double standard is rooted in television’s lower status as a source of entertainment. Historically, TV viewing has been considered a mindless activity, capable of dulling the intellect with “a vast wasteland” of shallow, lowbrow content. Watching TV has also been regarded as a lazy activity that displaces time spent on more active, productive pursuits. Avid viewers of the “boob tube” or “idiot box” will get stereotyped as “lazy couch potatoes.”
Meanwhile, headline-grabbing research linking TV viewing to depression and lonelinesshasn’t helped binge viewing’s reputation. These correlational studies may give the misleading impression that only depressed or lonely people engage in binge watching – or worse, that binge viewing can make people depressed and lonely.
In truth, it’s just as likely that people who are depressed or lonely due to unrelated life circumstances (say, unemployment or a break-up) simply choose to spend their time binge watching. There’s no evidence to suggest that binge watching actually makes people depressed or lonely.
The good news about binge watching
But binge viewing TV has become popular for a good reason: Despite its negative reputation, television has never been better. We are in the midst of a golden age of television, with a variety of shows that provide a steady diet of novel premises, long-running, elaborate plots and morally complicated characters. Far from dulling the intellect, these shows create more suspense, interest and opportunities for critical engagement.
According to journalist and media theorist Steven Johnson, watching these shows may even make you smarter. He argues that because television narratives have become increasingly complex, they require viewers to follow more storyline threads and juggle more characters and their relationships. All of this makes the audience more cognitively sophisticated.
Gorging on stories is pleasurable, too. When individuals binge watch, they are thought to have what’s called a “flow experience.” Flow is an intrinsically pleasurable feeling of being completely immersed in a show’s storyline. In a flow state of mind, viewers intently focus on following the story and it’s easier for them to lose awareness of other things, including time, while they’re wrapped up in viewing. One study found that viewers will continue viewing additional episodes in order to maintain this positive flow state, so there is an addictive quality to binge viewing. Interruptions like advertising can break the continuous viewing cycle by disrupting the flow state and drawing viewers out of the story. Luckily, for TV bingers, Netflix and Hulu are ad-free.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits binge watching can offer is psychological escape from daily stresses. What better way to decompress than watching four (or seven) straight episodes of “House of Cards”? A 2014 study found that people who were particularly drained after stressful work or school experiences watched TV to recharge and recuperate.
Unfortunately, this study also found that TV watching didn’t help everybody. Individuals who bought into the “lazy couch potato” stereotype enjoyed fewer benefits from watching TV. Instead of feeling revitalized after watching TV, they felt guilty.
The researchers believe that the shame associated with TV watching can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, making it hard for viewers to reap psychological benefits.
For this reason, we need to shake the notion that bingeing on stories we engage with on TV is somehow less worthy leisure pursuit than bingeing on stories that we consume other ways, like novels. Immersing ourselves in narratives on TV can be good for us, even in heavy doses, but only if we truly appreciate it for what it is: a pleasure. Not a guilty pleasure, simply a pleasure.
Warning: Spoilers for the most recent "The Leftovers" below.
If there's one thing the HBO series "The Leftovers" has proven over its brief three-season run, it's that the show loves to shock.
And Sunday's episode was no exception. From the revelation that there might be a way for Nora (Carrie Coon) to see her departed family (the news was delivered to her by none other than the departure-faker and "Perfect Strangers" star Mark Linn-Baker) to that old guy on the tower finally dying, there was a lot to absorb.
But if you're a fan of the legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, you were given quite a treat.
When Nora got her cast taken off in the episode, we saw that she has a tattoo of the Wu-Tang "W" symbol on her forearm. We learned when Nora visited Erika (Regina King) that she chose the tattoo to cover previous tattoos of her kids' names.
Erika then revealed to Nora that one way she's kept her sanity after her daughter Eve (Jasmin Savoy Brown) died was buying a trampoline. We then saw the two on the trampoline in slow-motion while the Wu-Tang song "Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)" played.
It's just the latest masterful music choice from the show. Though many of the ideas come from the show's cocreator Damon Lindelof and the writers, the person who goes out and clears the song rights is the show's music supervisor Liza Richardson.
When Lindelof first brought up to the idea of the Wu-Tang song to Richardson last February, she wasn't confident.
"I said, 'Famously impossible, but let's try,'" Richardson said about getting rights.
Wu-Tang songs are so hard to clear because they use a lot of samples and there are so many writers for each song.
Lindelof had his eye on a song from the 1995 album "Liquid Swords," a solo album by Wu-Tang member GZA.
Richardson looked into all the songs on the "Liquid Swords" album. It took her close to two months, but she was able to clear the rights to the songs "Liquid Swords" and "Living in the World Today." The track "Shadowboxin'" (featuring Method Man) was also in the running, but there were issues with the samples on the song that held it up.
Richardson was also able to get the rights to "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta F--- Wit" from their debut album, "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)."
Lindelof eventually decided on "Nuthing ta F--- Wit." Or so Richardson thought.
"They changed the scene to Erika and Nora bouncing on the trampoline," she said.
Lindelof now had three new songs he wanted Richardson to go after: "C.R.E.A.M." (from "Enter the Wu-Tang"), "Triumph" ("Wu-Tang Forever"), and "Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)" ("The W"). All three cleared and "Protect Ya Neck" was chosen for the scene. The track cost the show $30,000 to use.
Richardson said the music in this episode — from the Wu-Tang track to the episode opening with the "Perfect Strangers" theme song — is a perfect example of why she loves working on the show.
"The variety of music we use is so refreshing," she said. "Like the harp piece at the end of the episode, how often do you get that? In most shows it would be covered with score but we used instrumental music. It's unusual and I think it's killer. This show has been a big left turn for me and I hope I have another chance to do something like this."
The world celebrated Earth Day on April 22, marking the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
It's a good time to think about how we can protect our planet.
Luckily, Netflix is packed with nature documentaries to inspire you to become more environmentally-savvy.
From David Attenborough's landmark "Planet Earth" series to oceanographer Sylvia Earle’s campaign to save the world’s oceans, here are 11 of the best nature documentaries on Netflix for you to session this weekend.
1. Mission Blue
This documentary follows oceanographer Sylvia Earle’s campaign to save the world’s oceans from threats such as overfishing and toxic waste.
Learn how factory farming is decimating the planet’s natural resources and why this crisis has been largely ignored by major environmental groups.
3. Chasing Ice
Environmental photographer James Balog deploys time-lapse cameras to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glacier.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The INSIDER Summary:
The fourth season of HBO's satirical comedy "Silicon Valley" premiered April 23, and the iconic opening sequence got some minor makeovers. The intro shows miniature recreations of real tech companies, their details giving the audience clues about what those companies have been up to in the last couple of years.
Let's take a closer look at the additions and alterations made to the opening sequence.
At the very beginning of the montage, a small figure throws the Vine logo off of Twitter's tower and into a dumpster.
Zach Christy, one of the lead animators for Yu+Co (the design company behind the "Silicon Valley" intro) reached out to INSIDER to point this Easter egg out. It's very hard to see, but Christy said the Vine logo goes into a dumpster along with the logos for other failed start-ups like Rdio.
New companies added this year include Pinterest and Airbnb (with its controversial new logo), as well as Slack, the booming new messenger app that's popular among businesses in the tech and media world.
Theranos is another new company — and the "Silicon Valley" creators even added FBI trucks driving up to the building to reflect the company's legal troubles over the last two years. The season three finale of "Silicon Valley" directly referenced Theranos when Richard Hendricks said Theranos had been "f---ing lying," but now the company is immortalized in the opening sequence, too.
There's also an updated version of Amazon's Prime Air drone, but this time it's blue and carrying a slice of pepperoni pizza.
One logo you may have missed is the Snap Inc. ghost. Can you spot it in the GIF below?
Look closer to the left of the blue Facebook logo at the top of the image. The ghost just floats by, nearly invisible. This might be a dig at the ways Facebook (via Instagram) has been copying Snapchat's format for stories and other features — but Snap Inc. is hovering overhead like a specter of tech.
The two biggest ride-hailing services, Uber and Lyft, have had their own competing balloons in the opening sequence for the last two seasons. But now there's a third balloon:
Didi Chuxing is the biggest competitor for Uber and Lyft in China, and now you can see their orange logo floating next to the two other ride-share balloons.
Another set of additions is Dropbox, Yelp, and Twitch — these companies are all clustered in the lower right corner, right as the opening starts.
And last but not least, let's take a closer look at the vehicles driving around the streets of this miniature Silicon Valley.
Clustered together, you can see a Tesla car, an RV, and a smaller white vehicle. That little white car is actually a Waymo self-driving car used for testing (created by Google's parent company Alphabet).
The RV is likely a reference to the way people are now living out of vans and cars in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area in order to avoid paying skyrocketing rents.
Once again, "Silicon Valley" has managed to pack tons of references into their 10-second opening, and we can't wait to see how it evolves over the next season.
Here's a full list of every company included in the opening, with new additions in bold:
23 and Me
Did we miss one? Email email@example.com with the company name if so.
Check out INSIDER's new episode of "Showrunners" below, featuring an interview with "Silicon Valley" showrunner Alec Berg.
The INSIDER Summary:
Alec Berg is in the middle of an outstanding career.
He's a showrunner for HBO's "Silicon Valley." He also wrote for "Curb Your Enthusiasm,""Seinfeld," and Conan O'Brien.
We just interviewed Berg for "Showrunners," our new podcast about the people behind TV's best shows.
You should subscribe, please!
It turns out Berg launched his career using a pretty simple trick. He would call up important, successful people and ask them: "Can I have 15 minutes of your time?"
INSIDER: Did you call just everybody? Who'd you call?
Alec Berg: Yeah, anybody, anybody we could think of.
INSIDER: What was your playbook? When you wanted someone to talk to you, what did you say to them?
Berg: [My friend] and I would reach out and just say, "Hey, we're enormous fans. We know you're busy. Can we buy you coffee? Can we bend your ear for 10 minutes and just ask you how you did it, and if you have any thoughts for us?" We'd try and go and make somebody laugh for 10 or 15 minutes.
We met with these two guys, Tom Gammill and Max Pross, who were [fellow Harvard graduates] who were, I don't know, 11 or 12 years ahead of us. We got to know them, and eventually they got a show. It was one of the first shows that they put on Fox on Sunday nights. It was on with the Ben Stiller show. We got friendly with them, and when their show got picked up they said, "Hey, we're buying some freelance scripts, so if you pitch us some ideas, maybe we can buy a script from you."
I think we worked probably 200 hours on this one pitch. It was shock and awe of comedy writing. We overwhelmed them with the volume of information that we gave them, and they bought a script from us.
That was the first job we ever got. We had reached out, we had touched base, we had known them for months on and off, we had kept in contact. We sent them, I think, a spec that we had written, and they gave us thoughts on it.
Berg says this career-starting trick works best if you remember "one guiding principal."
"Don't be an asshole."
People will send me scripts sometimes and they're like, "Hey, here's a draft of the script. Can you read it? Can you give me notes, and then can you send it to your agent?"
I go, "Well, let me start with reading it."
Usually, on page one there's about six typos.
It's like, "Okay, you've asked me for an enormous amount of my time, and you want me to read something carefully that you clearly can't be bothered to read carefully yourself?"
It always seemed pretty simple to me. People are busy, and if you're polite, and deferential, and you ask for a manageable amount of their time, how do they say no to that?
Some people would be shy about having their work trashed by strangers.
But Berg says he never got much negative feedback from the people he reached out to.
"I think if somebody's going to deliver bad news, generally they just don't call."
Listen to the whole interview here:
On Sunday, "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" had a 22-minute segment delving into the qualifications of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner for working at the White House.
Oliver pointed out that for liberals, the popular assumption had been that President Donald Trump's daughter and son-in-law would be a moderating influence on him. But is that really the case?
The host of the HBO show broke down their roles: Ivanka is an unpaid "assistant to the president," while Kushner pretty much has his hand in everything, including being responsible for brokering peace in the Middle East and revamping the federal government.
"It is not unusual for powerful men to give their son-in-laws do-nothing jobs, but leave it to Donald Trump, who can't even get nepotism right, to give his a do-everything job," Oliver said.
But is this all just window dressing? Though Ivanka has been a staple in Trump's businesses and TV shows since she was a teen, her involvement since Trump's candidacy doesn't seem to have shifted Trump's thoughts, Oliver argues.
Ivanka was reportedly the one who got her father to meet with Al Gore at Trump Tower, but three days later, Trump named climate-change denier Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. And issues she's gotten behind, like family leave and childcare, don't seem to have influenced Trump. His proposals would give families who have incomes of $10,000 to $30,000 average annual benefits of just $10 a year.
Though Ivanka is perceived to be the opposite of her father, Oliver found a passage from her 2009 book, "The Trump Card," that might make you think otherwise.
In one section she wrote, "Don't go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage."
"She's pretty much telling you to your face not to trust any assumption you are making about her," Oliver said. "It is possible she is doing nothing to moderate her father."
Kushner, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have a glowing business résumé. He bought a swanky Manhattan building for a record $1.8 billion, but 10 years later the building is struggling with debt payments. But he's now the primary point of contact for two dozen countries.
Those who know Kushner have praised his listening skills.
"So hold on, he's brilliant because he's quiet?" Oliver asked. "Just because you don't talk does not necessarily mean you're thinking something amazing."
Oliver also touched on the fact that many people have no idea what Kushner's voice sounds like. So he dug up an old interview with Kushner, but when he played it, the clip actually had comedian Gilbert Gottfried speaking over Kushner with his trademark high-pitched voice.
"This may seem like an evisceration of Jared and Ivanka, but it's really not," Oliver said. "I don't know enough about them to eviscerate them, just as you don't know enough about them to justify putting any real hopes in them. Because it is dangerous to think of them as a moderating influence, as reassuring as that may feel."
Oliver added a warning about Ivanka and Jared for liberals: "If they are the reason you are sleeping at night, you should probably still be awake."
Watch Oliver's entire segment on Ivanka and Jared below:
The INSIDER summary:
This week on "Showrunners,"our podcast about the people who run TV's most important shows, we interviewed Alec Berg.
Berg is one of the head writers for HBO's "Silicon Valley." Before that, he spent much of his career working with Larry David – the creator of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Seinfeld."
Berg says that David changed TV history with two key innovations.
"Seinfeld" didn't try to teach viewers a lesson.
Berg says that prior to Seinfeld, almost every sitcom was "essentially a morality play." A character is faced with the right choice or the easy choice, and he or she takes the easy choice. Something bad happens, hilarity ensues, and the character ultimately learns a lesson and apologizes for making the wrong choice.
"They make amends with whomever they've wronged, and there's a learning moment, and then there's a joke," says Berg.
At "Seinfeld," says Berg "there was no sappiness. There was no sentiment."
That's because head writer Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld had a rule: "No hugging, no learning."
The characters would always act on their "basest most petty instincts for self gain," says Berg. Then they would get caught and lie and dig themselves in deeper. They would get caught again, lie again, or blame someone else.
"In the end the entire thing blows up and they're miserable," says Berg.
"Seinfeld" crammed way more scenes into every episode.
Berg says that before "Seinfeld," shows like "Cheers" would do four scenes in the first act and another three in the second act, and that was it.
The way David, Seinfeld, and Berg wrote "Seinfeld," it would sometimes have 26 or 27 scenes in a half hour.
It was "a new style of storytelling," says Berg.
When Berg or another writer wrote their first draft, they would come up with four stories, one for each of the four characters.
"Then you'd start the comedy geometry of trying to weave those stories together," says Berg. "Then you'd try and combine and thicken the stories."
"Oh, George is fighting with a guy, and Elaine is dating a guy. Maybe that could be the same guy. Oh, that could give us a scene where George and Elaine are at each other because George wants this and Elaine wants that."
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Or listen to our whole interview with Berg here:
The INSIDER Summary:
"Showrunners" is a new podcast from INSIDER, a series where we interview the people responsible for bringing TV shows to life. The following is a highlight from our interview with Alec Berg — the showrunner of HBO's "Silicon Valley" and previous writer for "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
HBO's "Silicon Valley" is a satirical comedy series that takes a sharp look at the booming tech industry in northern California. In the second episode of INSIDER's new podcast series "Showrunners," we spoke with Alec Berg to learn more about "Silicon Valley" and his role when it comes to running the show.
Over the course of its three seasons so far, "Silicon Valley" has been criticized for not featuring many women in major roles. When INSIDER asked Berg if the writer's room of "Silicon Valley" kept things like the Bechdel test in mind, here's what Berg said:
"Constantly. Absolutely. No, no, no, look, it is a constant discussion. We have gotten a lot of scrutiny and some flack — some deserved, some I think not so — about 'where are the women?' and 'why aren’t you doing more stories about how there are not women in tech?'
Look, we go back and forth on it a lot, and we do put a lot of thought into it. If there aren’t more women and more stories about women in tech on the show, it’s not out of, I think, gender bias or some misogyny. For us, it’s a failure for us as satirists that we haven’t figured out more interesting ways of satirizing and making comedy hay out of those issues.
The idea that we should somehow portray the tech business as it should be as opposed to how it is, I think is horses---. What good do we serve? If the show was just 50% women, what good are we doing? We’re just masking. Part of the point of satire is to point out the flaws in reality.
Look, season one, at the end of the season, the guys go to TechCrunch Disrupt. We went up to the real TechCrunch Disrupt and we brought cameras with us, and we shot some footage, which ended up in the show. At the end of the first season I showed a few episodes to a friend of mine, a woman who works in tech, and she said, "You've got to put more women in this show. Those crowd shots that you created at TechCrunch Disrupt are crazy. You didn't put any women in those." I said, "Those are real. We shot those at the actual TechCrunch Disrupt." And we didn't frame the women out — there were no women in the room.
Do we have a responsibility to fake the tech business as a more gender inclusive place, or is our role to hold up a mirror to it and hopefully satirize and make jokes about it? You can debate whether we've done a good job of satirizing it or not, but the idea that we have a duty to portray it as something that it's not, I think is wrong-headed. I think we can do a hell of a lot more. Look, we're not a social justice show and we're not here to right the wrongs of society. We're comedians. At a certain point, we're trying to just make something that's funny and entertaining. If it's enlightening and pokes people to change their ways, great, but that's not our goal.
Listen to the full episode of "Showrunners" featuring Alec Berg below. Subscribe to "Showrunners" on iTunes here so you can hear new episodes (featuring the showrunners from "The Handmaid's Tale,""American Gods,""Insecure" and more) first.
The INSIDER Summary:
Alec Berg has had an incredible career. He wrote for Seinfeld for four years. He made a few movies. He wrote for "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Now he's a showrunner for HBO's "Silicon Valley," which is in its fourth season.
But Berg wasn't always such an established veteran.
Back in 1994, Berg joined "Seinfeld" as a relatively junior sitcom writer. The show was already a massive hit by then, so Berg felt a lot of pressure to get his first episode right. He and his writing partner Jeff Shaffer spent days carefully crafting every line, word, and nuance of it. Finally, they finished. It was the episode where Jerry dates a Romanian gymnast.
They delivered the script to Larry David, the co-creator of "Seinfeld." David was walking to rehearsal. Berg and Schaffer followed him, curious to watch the genius read their work.
"I wanted to see his face. I wanted to see how he would react,"Berg told INSIDER during an interview for this week's episode of our podcast, Showrunners.
What David did shocked Berg and Schaffer.
Rather than find a chair to sit in so that he could lean back and savor every word of their script, David licked his right thumb and flipped through the script like he was scanning a menu. He read the whole thing in about two minutes.
Seeing this, Berg thought: What's he doing?!? He's not savoring our gems!
Today, Berg will tell you that he knows what David was doing. He was teaching Berg how to write.
"Having done this for 25 years," says Berg, "I realize now what he was doing." David was reading the script to see "what happens" in the episode.
It was a great lesson for Berg. When you're writing for TV, forget the clever dialogue – forget your "gems"– what matters is the story of the episode. What matters is "what happens."
When Berg later went to work for David again on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" this lesson was reinforced even more.
"On Curb we didn't even write dialogue really," Berg says. "We just wrote an outline that was just the structure —what happens."
"There's a few jokes in it, but the story itself on those shows is the comedy."
"It's not here's this boring morality play and there are jokes on top of it."
"If you go back to your favorite Seinfeld episodes, they're all the one where this happens, or the one where that happens. The 'what happens' is the comedy, as opposed to it's a straight story with comedy put on top."
These days, if Berg is having a hard time writing a script, he goes back to these basics.
"If you know who your characters are, and you know who's in a scene, and what they want, and what happens next…I don't want to say the scenes write themselves, but it's much, much easier."
Here's our entire interview with Berg:
More than 96% of the voting members of the Writers Guild of America have authorized a strike against production companies.
The WGA released the results Monday, a day ahead of the resumption of contract negotiations on a master contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. A work stoppage could start as early as May 2, after the existing three-year master contract has expired.
The AMPTP issued a statement in response to the strike authorization announcement: "The companies are committed to reaching a deal at the bargaining table that keeps the industry working. The 2007 Writers Strike hurt everyone. Writers lost more than $287 million in compensation that was never recovered, deals were cancelled, and many writers took out strike loans to make ends meet. We remain focused on our objective of reaching a deal with the WGA at the bargaining table when the guild returns on April 25th."
A total of 6,310 ballots were cast and 67.5% of eligible WGA members voted. The support was similar to the 2007 strike authorization, which received backing from 90% of the 5,507 guild members voting. The strike authorization voting period began April 19 and ended at noon PT on Monday.
The vote was not open to all WGA West and WGA East members, but only to those who have worked under AMPTP contract during the past six years and those with 15 or more years in pension plan.
The two sides have held about three weeks of negotiations, starting March 13. The WGA announced on April 5 to media buyers that a strike could have a significant impact on prime-time programming for the 2017-2018 television season.
The two sides jointly announced April 17 that they had suspended negotiations for a week while the WGA conducted the strike-authorization vote. Leaders of the WGA then urged the guild's 12,000 members to support the strike authorization, asserting that doing so would give negotiators the maximum leverage at the bargaining table. Should negotiators be making progress after talks resume, both sides could agree to extend the current contract.
WGA held three meetings last week for members to rally them. Several attendees at the meetings — closed to everyone except members and staff — said there was consistent support for the negotiators.
The guild is asking for raises in minimums and script fees in an effort to offset changes in the nature of TV series production that have hit writers' earnings. It's pushing for parity for the payment structures for those working on shows for cable and SVOD outlets, where fees remain lower than those for traditional broadcast network TV, along with an increase in employer contributions to the guild's health plan, which has been operating at a deficit.
A strike would be the first in a decade for the union. The WGA most recently struck for 100 days from November 5, 2007, to February 12, 2008.
DON'T MISS: Here are the surprising salaries for jobs in TV
While Stephen Colbert is critical of President Donald Trump's record in his first 100 days in office, the late-night host also says he owes the leader some gratitude.
"It's a huge week for Donald Trump, because this Saturday he will reach 100 days in office. And, boy, it sure seems longer," the host said on Monday's episode of CBS's "Late Show."
Trump himself touted what would be his "contract" with American voters in the first 100 days in office when he was still on the campaign trail, but he has changed his tune. Last week, Trump called being graded on his first 100 days as president a "ridiculous standard."
No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2017
That shift may have something to do with Trump's notable failures, including a lack of promised healthcare reform and blocks to his immigration ban. He also holds a record in bypassing the legislative branch and issuing the most executive orders by a president in his first 100 days, nearly three dozen, since World War II.
"The first 100 days are traditionally a time to reflect on accomplishments of a president and Trump doesn't have a lot of those," Colbert said. "He still hasn't filled his cabinet, he didn't repeal Obamacare, there are still Muslims, but he did sign a law making it legal for mentally ill people to buy guns and for hibernating bears to be hunted. So he took care of his base: insane people who want to murder Yogi."
At the same time, Colbert has really capitalized on Trump's time in office. In making Trump a central part of the comedy and criticism on "The Late Show," Colbert became the most-watched host in late night, dethroning the former frontrunner Jimmy Fallon. And Colbert gave credit where credit is due.
"I got to say Donald Trump has done a lot for me in the first 100 days," he said. "Thank you for your service, Mr. President."
Watch the video below:
The INSIDER Summary:
"Showrunners" is a new podcast from INSIDER, a series where we interview the people responsible for bringing TV shows to life. The following is a highlight from our interview with Alec Berg — the showrunner of HBO's "Silicon Valley" and previously a writer for "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
HBO's hit comedy series "Silicon Valley" offers a biting look at the world of startups and major tech companies. Over the course of its four seasons, fans of the show have made connections between the fictional characters shown and real-world CEOs or VC investors.
During INSIDER's interview with "Silicon Valley" showrunner Alec Berg, we spoke about how the writers find their inspiration for the series' storylines in real events and people. Berg cowrote the screenplay for Sacha Baron Cohen's political satire film about a fictional dictator, and that experience closely mimics the process for writing about Silicon Valley CEOs.
"When I was doing 'The Dictator' we would just do a lot of research about dictators," Berg said. "The stuff in real life [about dictators] is crazier than anything you could come up with that's pretend. We started to feel the same way about the tech business. We started doing research and all of the real stuff we were finding was so much funnier and crazier than the stuff we would make up. That's why I think early on, we made this decision to hew very closely to reality."
But Berg and his "Silicon Valley" team make sure not to write characters that are 100% matches for real world people.
"We try not to do one to one corollaries, but we definitely are paying attention," Berg said. "We were following the Ellen Pao thing closely, the Peter Thiel/Gawker thing, Trump and his views of the H1B Visa. I think those are going to be very relevant to our show — government controls, net neutrality, all of that stuff."
However, the timing of production often impedes the writers' ability to address current trends or dramatic events.
"One of the challenges of our show is we can't really be topical because ideally the show is written before we shoot it, and we shoot it months before it airs," Berg said. "If we get into something that's too topical, we run the risk of by the time the show airs, six other people have done commentary on it and it feels stale. We have to be careful to amalgamate a lot of those stories."
Sometimes "Silicon Valley" accidentally emulates a real tech mogul without directly meaning to.
"Gavin Belson has facets of a lot of theses titans in him, but he's not a one-for-one of any particular person," Berg said. "At the end of season one, a lot of people were saying, 'Oh, Peter Gregory, that's Peter Thiel.' The honest answer is we didn't even really know who Peter Thiel was when we did season one, and then people kept saying that the Peter Thiel character, and we started looking at Peter Thiel videos and were like, 'Oh, I can see why people are saying that.' There was no attempt to portray peter Thiel on the show. We just backed into that."
Berg says it's safer to stick to general "types" of the people you can find in the real Silicon Valley.
"I think if anything, what we try and do is portray the types," Berg said. "A lot of people say, 'Oh yeah, I have Gilfoyle at my company' or 'I work with Dinesh.' That's always very flattering to hear, because it's just means that you've created what feels like a very real, three-dimensional character."
For more from Alec Berg, listen to the full episode of "Showrunners" below. Subscribe to "Showrunners" on iTunes here so you can hear new episodes (featuring the showrunners from "The Handmaid's Tale,""American Gods,""Insecure" and more) first.
"Bachelor" alum Chris Soules was arrested in Iowa on Monday, April 24, following a fatal car crash, Us Weekly can confirm.
The Buchanan County Sheriff's Office says that a pickup rear-ended a tractor trailer near Aurora and the vehicles landed in a ditch. The season 19 Bachelor, 35, reportedly left the scene and was booked in the last 24 hours.
TMZ reports that one person was pronounced dead at a local hospital and Soules received medical attention following the incident.
The Arlington, Iowa, native starred in the ABC franchise in 2015. He popped the question to fertility nurse Whitney Bischoff, but the couple called off their engagement in May 2015, two months after the season finale. He competed on season 20 of "Dancing With the Stars" with pro partner Witney Carson that same year.