Tag Archives: HBO

Beyoncé – Lemonade — A sensational, enraged return from a true icon…

Beyoncé broke the internet late Saturday night (April 23rd), and as the world bathes in the afterglow of another surprise offering, it’s important to recline and contextualise it all. Titled ‘Lemonade’, the original presentation debuted on premium-cable channel HBO, a trusted partner and premier choice for the singer, given their collaborative relationship on the self-produced documentary ‘Life Is But A Dream’ and 2014’s On the Run Tour special.

After the expertly curated affirmation anthem ‘Formation’, and the subsequent performance of said track at the Superbowl back in February, radio silence ensued, what was the ever elusive songstress brewing next? Would ‘Lemonade’ continue the risk-taking of her self-titled release?

Képtalálat a következőre: „beyonce lemonade”

The consensus was that 2013’s ‘BEYONCÉ’ was a deft exercise in shifting a paradigm from a perennial and bankable pop starlet to an arresting artiste, eschewing the conventions that had stifled Beyoncé’s creativity. Placing the emphasis on the ‘album’ and a coherent body of work, and producing one of the defining records in the new millennia, the cynic in us would not be remiss in asking if ‘Lemonade’ could follow the legacy of ‘BEYONCÉ?

Continue reading Beyoncé – Lemonade — A sensational, enraged return from a true icon…


How ‘True Detective’ turned its fans into Internet detectives

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In Nic Pizzolatto’s novel Galveston, Roy Cady, a grizzled hired killer on the run, muses, “Something passed close to me then, a feeling or piece of knowledge, but I couldn’t quite get it. A sense of something I’d once known or felt, a memory that wouldn’t come into the light. I kept reaching, but I couldn’t grasp the thing.”

That’s what HBO’s True Detective has done to the Internet fandom that’s sprung up around it since debuting in January. Pizzolatto, who serves as the show’s creator and executive producer, wrote that same philosophical, existential dialogue for Matthew McConaughey’s stoic detective Rust Cohle, and his more amiable partner, Martin Hart, played by Woody Harrelson. There are now Tumblrs devoted to their conversations, and Cohle’s winding monologues have gotten the Ryan Gosling treatment.

But it goes beyond just Tumblr memes. True Detective, expertly directed by Cary Fukunaga, is the first show since perhaps Lost to have the Internet invested not just in the weekly storylines, but in the theories, missed details, red herrings, and meta clues hidden within. Pre-Internet, this same mania was wrought from Twin Peaks fandom.

It’s a show about two detectives’ obsession with a serial killer in rural Louisiana, and, in turn, it has stoked the Internet’s obsessionwith dissecting and interpreting every single detail of their story. It’s made us meta-detectives.

This obsessive fan-generated publicity, from people on Twitter andFacebook who often talk about the show in a sort of code, is impressive viral currency for HBO. Even scenes from the show have developed their own meta-fandom. Take the six-minute tracking shot from episode four, which fans dissected from every angle. (The scene was by tracked by Fukunaga and Adam Arkapaw, who was director of photography for another thriller worthy of obsession,Top of the Lake.)

The True Detective subreddit has become the Internet’s de facto water cooler, around which fans gather to analyze recursive theories and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it details. The show’s iconography has also seeped into the pop-culture marketplace. The “Big Hug Mug” featured in Cohle’s interrogation scenes recently sold for $85 on eBay.

And then there are the literary aspects of the show. Robert W. Chambers’ 1895 short story collection, The King in Yellow, wasconnected to True Detective’s many Easter eggs and references to a “Yellow King.” In episode three, Reggie Ledoux, Cohle and Hart’s suspect in the murder of prostitute Dora Lange, is shown in an image that’s now become a meme, wearing a gas mask and carrying a machete. In the book, there are several references to the “Pallid Mask.”

Due to meta-detectives’ desire for clues to the bigger text, The King in Yellow hit Amazon’s top 10 bestsellers list, a century after publication. And there’s been at least once instance of Hart and Cohle being shipped. Pizzolatto’s also done a nice job of keeping fans informed of the literary references.

There are other elements at work: The use of color in True Detective, and Pizzolatto’s other works, certainly gives it the aura of a visual novel. Rust Cohle’s name itself is two colors; in episode three, he mentions he experiences synesthesia. Blogs have picked apart Ledoux’s tattoos and what they mean. T Bone Burnett, the show’s musical director, has done an excellent job creating the mood: This Spotify playlist contains almost every song in the show so far.

This collection of True Detective fan art further proves the obsession with detail and interpretation. Last week, Mondo debuted a line of poster art inspired by the show, but Tumblr is home to several detailed works. Illustrator Clay Rodery thinks the show’s storytelling is what has engaged fans:

“Longform narratives are today’s media of choice.  And with a whodunnit you can rewatch it indefinitely, both while the season is still unfolding to pick up clues and piece the larger narrative together like the detectives, or when it’s finished to see everything you missed. Then, of course, there is the revelation of The King in Yellow inspiration. It’s funny: This gets dropped more-or-less mid-season, and everyone goes crazy, because suddenly there’s a wealth of supplementary material people can try to append.”

Nigel Evan Dennis helms a graphic art tribute to the show, which explores different theories via literal character sketches. (Spoilers.)

“I think an artist’s personality is inherently obsessive,” he says. “A bunch of collectors. So naturally, I dive in headfirst to things pretty intensely when it comes to creativity and art. The show lends itself to a lot of interpretation. It’s just such an engaging show. It’s easy to immerse yourself in it. You almost forget that you have when you’re in it.”

And much like Twin Peaks, it creeps up behind us and cleaves open our collective unconscious. We find ourselves thinking about dialogue and scenery days after, struggling to piece elements together so it makes sense. On the Internet, the meta-detectives piece those together on Twitter, Tumblr, Spotify, Facebook, and Reddit. Appropriately, it seems to be driving some of us a little mad.

This is the advantage of a weekly show: It lets fans dive into the curiosity gap. We keep reaching, trying to grasp the thing.

Going Clear on pace to be HBO’s second-most-watched documentary

HBO’s investigation into the Church of Scientology has been racking up so many views since it debuted just two weeks ago that it’s likely to trail only the 2013 movie Beyonce as the network’s most-watched documentary of the past decade, the Associated Press reported.

To date, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief has been seen by over 5.5 million people, with Beyonce having been viewed by over 9 million people. Before the film premiered,

The Church of Scientology ran a full-page ad in The New York Times denouncing the film, even pointing out its similarity to the since-retracted story in Rolling Stone regarding an alleged rape at the University of Virginia.

“I didn’t think we expected this kind of noise and this kind of energy, but we’ll take it,” Sheila Nevins, the chief of HBO’s documentary unit told the AP. “I didn’t think it would be this controversial.”

Nevins said she’s already worrying about what HBO can do next to continue their current success.

“How do you match people taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times and it’s not your obituary?,” she said. “The real problem for anxiety-prone people like me is what comes next.”

Buzz has surrounded HBO’s new documentary “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” but Scientologist John Travolta is not a fan.

Travolta told the Tampa Bay Times that he has not seen the documentary, “and I don’t really care to.”

“I’ve been so happy with my (Scientology) experience in the last 40 years that I really don’t have anything to say that would shed light on (a documentary) so decidedly negative,” Travolta said.

The actor, one of the Church of Scientology’s most high-profile members along with stars like Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley, is premiering his new film, “The Forger,” in Clearwater, Florida.

The HBO documentary is based on the book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright and is critical of the organization, which has close ties to the showbiz industry.

Travolta said he believed the doc was a result of “people who were disgruntled with their experiences” with the Church of Scientology, which he touted as a positive experience for him.

“I haven’t experienced anything that the hearsay has (claimed), so why would I communicate something that wasn’t true for me?” Travolta asked. “It wouldn’t make sense, nor would it for Tom (Cruise), I imagine.”

He called Scientology “brilliant” and credited the church with helping him to survive the death of his teen son, Jett, after a seizure while the family was on vacation in the Bahamas in 2009.

“Oh, my God, I wouldn’t have made it,” said Travolta, whose wife, Kelly Preston, is also a member. “Honestly.”

First four ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 episodes leaked


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UPDATED 12:36 p.m. ET: HBO confirmed the leak in a statement to Mashableon Sunday.

“Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of Game of Thrones originated from within a group approved by HBO to receive them. We’re actively assessing how this breach occurred,” a spokesperson said.

Game of Thrones

Torrent downloads of unaired episodes top 500,000 in less than 12 hours

That Game of Thrones producer was right to worry about leaks.

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HBO’s highly-anticipated fifth season of Game of Thrones is getting a premature—and illegal— premiere and fans are freaking out.

The first four episodes of the series started making their way around the Internet Saturday night after being uploaded to several Torrent sites, a day prior to the official Sunday premiere.

The leaks come just one week after Greg Spence, Game of Thrones’ post-production producer, fretted about the likelihood of someone uploading leaked footage to the Internet.

Game of Thrones HBO Bran Stark Hodor

The show also fell victim to a leak back in January when a cellphone captured its trailer premiere.

The show is no stranger to pirating. In fact, it’s the most popular illegally downloaded show in the world.

The four confirmed leaks appear to originate from a screener sent to reviewers ahead of the show’s launch. There are four episodes on the screener.

peter dinklage game of thrones

The leaked episodes are in 480p, which is equivalent to the quality of standard TV, and a digital watermark is blurred. The show is normally shown in 720p or 1080p through HBO.

The purported leaker noted on a private Torrent tracker that the fourth episode would be the final upload for the evening, although they teased that more may be coming.

Game of Thrones fans that want to wait for each Sunday’s episode may have a hard time staying away from spoilers after the leak.

Google’s anti-spoiler technology can’t get here soon enough.

An HBO representative was unavailable to comment on the leaks late Saturday night.

Barack Obama talks the war on drugs with the creator of The Wire

Barack Obama called HBO series The Wire “one of the greatest pieces of art in the last couple of decades” in an interview with the show’s creator that was released today at the Bipartisan Summit for Criminal Justice ReformThe Wire chronicled the effects of the drug war as it was waged on the streets of Baltimore in the early 2000s, detailing how both drug use and the clumsy, heavy-handed law enforcement response to it devastated many urban communities.

As Simon summed it up, “what drugs don’t destroy, the war against them is ripping apart.”

Interestingly, Obama spoke of the incarceration problem as much from an economic perspective as from a social justice one.

“The challenge,” he said, “is folks go into prison at great expense to the state, [and] many times [are] trained to become more hardened criminals while in prison, come out and are basically unemployable and end up looping back in” to the prison system.

“When you break down why people aren’t getting back into the labor force, even as jobs are being created, a big chunk of that is the young male population with felony histories,” Obama said. “So now where we have the opportunity to give them a pathway toward a responsible life, they’re foreclosed. And that’s counterproductive.”

Fiscally speaking, mass incarceration is “breaking the bank,” Obama said. “It means everyone’s taxes are going up, and services are being squeezed.” Many elements in the Republican party have become receptive to these message in recent years.

But in the Senate especially there remains ahardline of lawmakers who cut their political teeth during the tough-on-crime era and who remain enthusiastic proponents of harsh sentences for drug offenders, despite reams of evidence showing they don’t work.

The Justice Department under Obama deserves a great deal of credit for taking administrative steps to reduce the burden of incarceration, including modest sentencing changes and an explicit hands-off approach to the states that have legalized marijuana.

But as Obama notes in the interview, the real work of reform will have to be done through Congress.

Why Tom Cruise and John Travolta can’t leave Scientology, according to the HBO documentary ‘Going Clear’

Scientology Church
The exterior of the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles.

When L. Ron Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology in February 1954 in Los Angeles, one of his main pillars in building its membership was courting celebrities.

A year after the church was founded, it created a long list of celebrities to recruit, according to Lawrence Wright’s best-selling book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & The Prison of Belief.”

The list reportedly included Hollywood royalty like Marlene Dietrich, Walt Disney, Jackie Gleason, John Ford, Bob Hope, and Howard Hughes. It’s hard to find evidence of these legends ever entertaining the idea of joining the church, but it appears that Hubbard saw movie stars as a way of legitimizing Scientology.

Six decades later, Hubbard’s premonition proved to be correct. Scientology, which today has only about 50,000 members, is worth over $1.2 billion, and much of its financial success is in part thanks to famous people who have fundraised, recruited, and given the church access to the upper echelon of society.

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According to “Going Clear,” Tom Cruise has turned a blind eye to abuse in the church of Scientology.

For years, two of the church’s most prized endorsers have been John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

But director Alex Gibney suggests in his latest documentary for HBO, an adaptation of Wright’s book called “Going Clear,” that it is time for Travolta and Cruise to reassess their involvement with the church, in part because of the abuse their fellow members have allegedly endured.

The film highlights numerous instances in which church members have allegedly been abused. Members have allegedly been segregated from their families and the rest of the church to do physical labor like cleaning toilets with only a toothbrush.

In the documentary, Gibney speaks with one of Travolta’s closest confidants at the church, Spanky Taylor, who says she was part of a group that was punished by the church.

Taylor says she was forced to work 30-hour shifts with little food and slept on the roof of the church’s Los Angeles building. She says she was pregnant at the time and away from her infant daughter, who was placed in the church’s nursery in a urine-soaked crib surrounded by fruit flies. In the movie, Taylor says she reached out to Travolta for help but never heard from him.

According to the film, Cruise has also turned a blind eye to the harassment suffered by Sea Organization members, the clergy of Scientology who reportedly show their loyalty by signing billion-year contracts but get paid only about 40 cents an hour for their services. The film alleges that the presents Cruise receives on behalf of the church — like a beautiful airplane hangar or luxury limousine — are delivered on the sweat of Sea Org members.

So why are Cruise and Travolta still in Scientology?

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The film suggests that Scientology has so much dirt on high-profile members like John Travolta that they could never leave the church.

The film alleges that the church would disclose the celebrities’ deepest, darkest confessions to the tabloids if they ever tried to leave the church.

That’s because the pair have reportedly spent hours and hours of their lives submitting to Scientology audits, the church’s form of spiritual counseling.

When Business Insider talked to Gibney last week at HBO’s New York offices, the director said he felt it was the duty of Cruise and Travolta to speak out, and he hoped the attention of “Going Clear” would make it easier for them to do so.

“I think one of the reasons we’re trying to turn the spotlight on them is not to victimize them but to say you really have a responsibility,” Gibney told us. “You’re given an enormous amount of wealth as a movie star and with that comes a certain amount of responsibility, particularly when people are joining an organization because of you. If the popular opinion begins to swing that way, I think you can see a sea change with them.”

For Cruise it may be harder to get out. The film reveals just how important he is to the church, suggesting Scientology went as far as breaking up Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s marriage to bring him closer to the church after he began distancing himself around the time he and Kidman filmed Stanley Kubrick’s final film, “Eye’s Wide Shut,” in 1998.

tom cruise nicole kidman
The documentary alleges that Scientology broke up Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and turned their adoptive children against Kidman.

Orchestrated by Scientology’s leader, David Miscavige, the church turned the two adoptive children of Cruise and Kidman’s against Kidman,according to former Scientology executives who speak in the film.

The church allegedly told the children that Kidman was a “Suppressive Person,” Scientology talk for someone who’s not a believer of the church, and persuaded them to completely disconnect themselves from her.

The church also allegedly tapped Kidman’s phones in an effort to convince Cruise that he needed to end the relationship.

Gibney and Wright, along with former Scientology members Mike Rinder and Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis, talked more about these issues in the film recently at a New York Times “Times Talk.”

A representative for Scientology told People.com these assertions made were “utterly ludicrous” and “insulting” to Miscavige.

Reps for Cruise and Travolta didn’t respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

“Going Clear” opens theatrically in limited release March 13 and on HBO on March 29.

The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies Of 2015 In Social Media

From apps specializing in nostalgia to the TSA (really), the companies and organizations effecting change through social media.


For creating a hypercute cultural powerhouse. In Japan, the mobile messaging app known as Line is so pervasive that young people swap Line IDs instead of phone numbers. Worldwide, the app has more than 181 million active users a month.

Though that leaves it smaller than Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Tencent’s WeChat, Line has excelled at something that’s arguably tougher than racking up hundreds of millions of users: It’s become a pan-media, pop-culture phenomenon.

The app started the craze for stickers—oversized emoji-like graphics that convey emotions and ideas that might be tough to tap out on a smartphone keyboard. These critters have proven so popular that Line is opening up retail stores that sell everything including stuffed animals, T-shirts, and a $3,200 Swarovski crystal Cony (Line’s rabbit character).

The company also has a thriving business charging marketers such as Toyota to distribute free sticker packs and otherwise engage with consumers. Games, paid stickers, marketing deals, and merchandise add up to real money: 2014 revenue totaled $656 million.


For recognizing that spending money can be social. This peer-to-peer wallet app connects directly to a user’s bank account, letting them exchange payments with friends via a smartphone. It is free to use and pleasantly simple, and eliminates the awkward credit-card juggle that comes with splitting the dinner bill. Plus, Venmo has harnessed the social element of spending money with its Venmo Newsfeed.

Users don’t have to make transactions public, but the vast majority do, and they open the app even when they don’t have cash to spend purely for the voyeuristic pleasure of seeing who’s paying who for what. In 2014, it introduced the “Venmo Nearby” feature, letting users pay people around them without needing to be friends.

And because Venmo becomes more useful as more friends join, its evangelical users make for rapid growth. In the fourth quarter of 2014, the company handled $906 million in mobile payments, a nearly 370 percent increase from the year before, and a number that is expected to reach $90 billion by 2017.


For doing its part to prevent self-harm. It remains to be seen whether anonymous apps are a fleeting trend, but what we do know is that they’ve become a platform of expression for people suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts. Whisper, which allows users to share anonymous confessions, took note of this, referring more than 40,000 of its users to suicide hotlines.

To take it one step further, in August, Whisper launched a digital platform for its nonprofit “YourVoice” that lets users post videos, talk about their struggles, and get access to helpful resources. Founders Michael Heyward and Brad Brooks put $1 million toward the project. The Whisper app itself sees 6 billion messages shared each month and raised $36 million in new funding in May, bringing its total to $60 million.

4. HBO

For thinking outside the idiot box. HBO knows many millennials can’t (or don’t want to) pay for huge cable packages to watch their favorite shows, so the network often uses social media to bring the shows to them. It put the first two episodes of Girls’ third season on YouTube and gave the zeitgeisty show its own Snapchat, Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram accounts.

Lengthy segments of shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver also go on YouTube, where they get shared on Facebook and other platforms hundreds of thousands of times. And season four of Game of Thronesdominated the Twitterverse, with help from HBO’s spot-on hashtags like #TakeTheThrone and #RoastJoffrey. With more than 18 million viewers, the series was crowned the network’s most-watched show ever.


For honoring the artist. VSCO bills itself as being “by creatives, for creatives,” and so far it has delivered on that promise. The company’s advanced photo editing app makes old-school photographers feel right at home on a smartphone interface. Last year, it launched its own in-app social network, called Grid, that features highly curated photos—no tone-deaf ads or shameless selfies to be found. And unlike Instagram, Grid doesn’t allow likes or comments. “We wanted to create a platform where people were celebrated not based on merit of followers or popularity but based on the quality of content,” says cofounder Joel Flory. Being featured in the Grid is a big deal for artists.

“People put it at the top of their resume,” Flory says. And then there’s VSCO’s Artist Initiative, a scholarship fund aimed at helping creatives launch projects. Initially the fund started at $100,000, but after a $40 million series A investment from Accel Partners, the company expanded the scholarship to $1 million and received more than 2,000 applicants in the first 48 hours. “We see ourselves as part of this creative community,” says cofounder Greg Lutze. “We’re not outside of it, and we don’t view the creative community as a commodity. We are it. That changes how we do everything.”


For keeping nostalgia alive. Some apps, once downloaded, are immediately forgotten. Timehop isn’t one of them. It shows users what they posted on social media on this day in previous years, and is opened 4 million times a day. The app’s limited scope is strategic and really smart: If you want to know what tomorrow looked like last year, you’ll have to come back tomorrow.

And users do. Whereas ephemeral apps like Snapchat capitalize on a desire to leave no trace, Timehop proves we still love looking back at where we’ve been. The company raised $10 million in series B in 2014, bringing its total raised to $14.1 million. It took a chance and eliminated its beloved daily email in favor of a standalone mobile app—a risky move, but one that paid off. The app gains 50,000 new users a day and has climbed swiftly to the top of the App Store, frequently overtaking other freebies like Twitter.

“Looking at the past and reminiscing is a quintessential experience in every culture,” says Timehop CEO and cofounder Jonathan Wegener.


For keeping social media honest. Fake news travels fast, especially on social media. Storyful, a five-year-old Dublin-based company, uses a potent combination of human and machine fact-checking to separate news from noise.

It analyzes everything from asinine viral videos to hard international news, doing a social media deep dive to source and verify news. “There’s never been a better way to spread a hoax than social media,” Storyful founder and CEO Mark Little has said. “But there’s never been a better fact-checking desk than social media.” After being acquired by News Corp for $25 million, in early 2014 Storyful partnered with Facebook to launch FB Newswire, which finds newsworthy user-generated content and runs it through the ringer, posting only the credible stuff.

There is clearly an appetite for real news there: Site embeds of Facebook news posts increased 50% in just four months following the launch. Now Storyful is helping fund an initiative aimed at creating industry-wide guidelines for how news organizations treat their social media sources. “People who create content, whether they’re just people who are witnesses randomly to an event or professionals, deserve credit and in certain cases compensation,” says Little.


For creating meaningful social media metrics for regular users. After a successful crowdfunded launch in early 2014, ThinkUp’s founders, ex-Lifehacker editor Gina Trapani and entrepreneur Anil Dash, spent the year honing their mission, settling on the tagline “Analytics for humans.”

ThinkUp subscribers get a daily digest of their social media behavior in the form of bite-size factoids. It won’t tell you how many clicks your tweets got, but it will tell you that 24% of your tweets contained the words “I”, “me”, “my”, “mine”, or “myself” in the last week, or that they get the best response between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.The goal, says Dash, is to make it easy for everyday social media users to better interact with their community.

ThinkUp emerges out of beta with more than 2,000 subscribers willing to shell out $60 for an annual membership. Most are individuals, but heavyweights like Nike and a few government agencies are also on board, Dash says. “They’re learning a lot about how to more meaningfully engage.”


For taking back its reputation. The TSA no longer wants to be known for invasive pat-downs, long lines, and seemingly arbitrary rules on banned liquids. So, the agency has taken to social media to change the conversation with its popular Instagram account, which racks up nearly 2,000 new followers a day.

By posting pictures of recently confiscated weapons and contraband—including loaded guns and lipstick tasers—using the hashtag #TSACatch, the TSA’s social media team brings a human touch to a seemingly impenetrable organization, and reminds travelers that airport security measures aren’t for nothing.

10. YO

For showing the power of the push notification. What was originally dubbed the world’s dumbest messaging app has evolved quickly into one with the potential to change how we communicate. The hypersimple tool does little more than send a two-letter push notification: “YO.”

But those notifications can be triggered by anything. Want to know when your favorite band has a new video on YouTube? There’s a Yo push notification for that. This gives brands direct access to a user’s homescreen without needing to build their own app. Of course, users have to opt in to receive notifications, providing a bit of a buffer. And it’s not just for brands.

A more powerful example: In 2014 the app was used to alert Israelis to incoming Palestinian rocket attacks. Yo received $1.5 million in seed funding in its first two months, is valued at around $10 million, and has more than 1 million users. And even if it does flare out, Yo was a bold experiment in simplicity.