TheWrapTech – TheWrap https://www.thewrap.com Covering Hollywood Fri, 19 Jan 2018 20:49:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Facebook’s Watch Is Surprisingly Popular With Young People, New Study Shows https://www.thewrap.com/facebooks-watch-popular-young-demo/ https://www.thewrap.com/facebooks-watch-popular-young-demo/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 17:05:27 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1790346 It looks like a fair amount of people are checking out LaVar Ball on Facebook.

Facebook’s Watch — its budding video platform — is off to a strong start, according to a new study from Morgan Stanley.

Forty percent of Facebook users check out clips on a weekly basis, according to analysts Brian Nowak and Ben Swinburne. Watch launched last August, with the social network streaming hundreds of shows — including content from A&E, Vox, Thrillist, and debuting shows like “Ball in the Family,” following around Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and his zany family.

And Facebook — often more associated with an older crowd than Instagram, its trendy photo app — will be happy to see Watch is performing well with a younger demo; 40 percent of 16-34 year-olds check out Watch on a daily basis. Short form content (20 minutes or less) has been the most popular on Facebook, Morgan Stanley pointed out.

“We are encouraged (and admittedly surprised) by this early Watch traction as it speaks to [Facebook’s] ability to drive adoption of new products,” said Nowak and Swinburne. “We view Watch (and video) as the next key long-term driver of FB engagement and monetization.”

The data was pulled in December, with Morgan Stanley surveying 1,400 Americans, aged 16 and older.

YouTube remains the king of the online video hill, however, 78 percent of respondents watch YouTube on a weekly basis — and one out of four saying they watch at least an hour each day.

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Starz Petitions FCC to End 3-Week Blackout for 4.9 Million Optimum Subscribers https://www.thewrap.com/starz-altice-fcc-restore/ https://www.thewrap.com/starz-altice-fcc-restore/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:27:58 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1790324 Starz wants its New York fans of “Outlander” to see the show in 2018 — and its petitioning the Federal Communications Commission for Altice to make it happen.

The second-biggest premium network filed a complaint with the FCC on Friday, aiming to force the provider to restore its flagship station — along with Starz Encore and Movieplex  — to its 4.9 million Optimum customers in New York for the 30-day notice time mandated by FCC rules.

All 16 Starz channels went dark on Jan. 1 after failing to reach a new licensing deal with Altice. Since then, Starz’s petition added “Altice has followed a pattern of avoiding the inquiries and complaints of tens of thousands of its subscribers, also in violation of FCC rules.”

“The filing of today’s petition is the next step in our effort to ensure that Altice subscribers receive the full value of their subscription, including restoration of all Starz channels,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said in a statement. “Starz has never stopped transmitting its service to Altice and it is time for them to do the right thing by either restoring the service or giving our customers a refund.”

Altice fired back in its own statement, saying the petition was “without merit,” and called out Starz’s ratings to boot.

“Given that Starz is available to all consumers directly through Starz’s own over-the-top streaming service, we don’t believe it makes sense to charge all of our customers for Starz programming, particularly when their viewership is declining and the majority of our customers don’t watch Starz,” Altice said in its statement. “We have offered and remain open to a deal with Starz to offer the content to customers who want it but they refuse.”

Altice USA is a New York-based subsidiary of Altice, a Netherlands-based multinational telecom giant founded and headed by the Moroccan-born Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi. It is the second largest telecom company in France, behind Orange. Altice acquired Cablevision in 2016, and Altice USA operates Optimum and Suddenlink.

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Amazon Prime Monthly Membership Just Jumped 18 Percent https://www.thewrap.com/amazon-prime-increase-subscription-18-percent/ https://www.thewrap.com/amazon-prime-increase-subscription-18-percent/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:42:21 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1790288 Amazon Prime just got more expensive.

That’s only if you pay for the service — which gives customers free two-day shipping on a swath of products, as well as other perks — on a monthly basis, where it’ll bump the price from $10.99 to $12.99 per month.

Amazon Prime’s annual fee remains $99. The 18 percent increase for a monthly subscription was the first time the tech giant has raised its Prime prices since 2014, when the yearly fee was increased from $79.

If you’re signing up for a monthly Prime plan for the first time on Friday, you’ll start off at $12.99. Otherwise, the price increase will go into effect on Feb. 18.

Amazon has been notoriously secretive when it comes to the total number of Prime customers. It boasted 4 million people tried the service during one week this past holiday season, and it was estimated the company had about 85 million subscribers last summer. That was before “Prime Day,” Amazon’s annual “holiday” where the e-commerce giant offloads hammocks and electronics at a discount.

Amazon first introduced the monthly option two years ago, aiming to reel in low-income workers; the service has seen an influx of customers making less than $50,000 since the monthly option began.

Wall Street doesn’t seem to mind the news, with shares of the company ticking up about 0.3 percent to nearly $1,300 on Friday.

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‘Scandal': Tony Goldwyn Explains How Kerry Washington Basically Invented Live-Tweeting TV https://www.thewrap.com/scandal-tony-goldwyn-kerry-washington-live-tweeting/ https://www.thewrap.com/scandal-tony-goldwyn-kerry-washington-live-tweeting/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 23:39:17 +0000 Jennifer Maas https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1789913 The final season of “Scandal” returns from its midseason hiatus on Thursday and Gladiators are sure to be excited to have a new episode to dissect on Twitter. Of course, the cast knows exactly what’s going to happen, and are just as excited to tweet about it with their fans on show night. After all, “Scandal” star Tony Goldwyn credits Kerry Washington with pretty much inventing the concept.

TheWrap asked Goldwyn, who plays Fitz on the Shonda Rhimes series, about the “Scandal” gang’s obsession with live-tweeting episodes at a set visit during the Television Critics Press association tour last week. The actor noted how the TGIT show “really broke the mold” with its social media impact, and that the cast now feels a “tremendous sense of responsibility toward fans, because they made this show a success.”

And that’s all thanks to Olivia Pope. Oh, we mean Washington.

“You know, Kerry had this idea of getting on Twitter in our very first broadcast,” Goldwyn told reporters of Washington’s plan when the series premiered in 2012. “And she talked to Shonda about it. And we all got together and Shonda said, ‘I’d like you to do this if you would.’ I didn’t know — I mean, I knew what Twitter was — but I had no interest in it at all, or I was afraid of it. And I thought the fact you could communicate in 140 characters is what’s wrong with our culture.”

But that didn’t last long.

“Very quickly I saw the power of it,” Goldwyn said. “And you could feel this grassroots impact from the very first time we tweeted with our fans — the instant. You could just feel this one-on-one relationship with an audience that I had never felt. It was more like working in the theater, you know? Where you feel your audience. and you could literally have conversations with people wherever they were — in Ohio or in Brazil or in Nairobi. I swear to God. And that grew and grew and grew exponentially every week. And they, I think the network wasn’t even aware.”

Goldwyn said the cast’s efforts to live-tweet “Scandal” cannot be ignored. It was ABC’s No. 3 most social series last calendar year and was one of the top 10 shows on Twitter in 2017.

“Our ratings were decent when we first aired, but they weren’t off the charts,” Goldwyn said. “Then, when the second season started, people started to write, you guys [gestures to reporters] started to write about this social media phenomenon… we were breaking all these records on Twitter.”

Goldwyn said the cast feels this “real allegiance and loyalty to our Gladiators” as they talk to them every week “for two hours!” The stars try to tweet for both the East Coast and West Coast feeds, he added, and even “fire off tweets” between shots if they are on set.

Joe Morton, who plays Olivia’s father Eli Pope aka Rowan, added that, because the cast all have stage backgrounds live-tweeting is even more of a rush for them.

“It’s the closest we get to being in the theater, cause in real time the audience actually can talk to the actors about what’s going on in the episode that they’re watching,” Morton said. “And that’s about the closest that I know of any screen actor being on stage in live theater.”

Goldwyn said that, while stars may have been conversing with fans on Twitter a “little bit” before “Scandal,” Washington was the one who turned the activity into the phenomenon it is today.

“She saw what an opportunity this was, and we, in a concerted effort as a team, we all did it together.”

In summation, Washington “handled” it.

The seventh and final season of “Scandal” returns Thursday at 9/8c on ABC.

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Snap Inc Lays Off 2 Dozen Employees https://www.thewrap.com/snap-layoff-two-dozen-employees/ https://www.thewrap.com/snap-layoff-two-dozen-employees/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:26:40 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1789972 Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, is laying off two dozen employees, a company spokesperson told TheWrap.

Roughly five to ten of the workers losing their jobs are on the content team, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The layoffs are part of a realignment on the content team, TheWrap has learned, and the company plans to continue hiring more workers as it focuses on shows, growth and augmented reality in 2018.

The Information and Cheddar were the first outlets to report the cuts.

The layoffs don’t impact the editors Snapchat leans on to program its Discover channels, which house its shows and publisher content. Snap vice president of content Nick Bell recently hired several senior managers as the company looks to add original scripted programming to its slate — something Bell said is “imminent” on Monday.

After the layoffs, Snap is aiming to centralize its content team at its Los Angeles headquarters.

In a memo sent earlier this week and obtained by Cheddar, Snap co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel said “having a scalable business model isn’t enough.” He added: “We also need to have an organization that scales internally. This means that we must become exponentially more productive as we add additional resources and team members.”

After a rocky first year since going public, Spiegel announced in November its trailblazing app would undergo a redesign. The move aims to make Snapchat “easier to use,” as Spiegel put it. While the updated Snapchat has been tested in smaller markets, it hasn’t been rolled out to its 180 million users across the globe.

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Lionsgate Roars: Shares Up 7 Percent on Merger Report https://www.thewrap.com/lionsgate-shares-stock-surge-merger-rumors/ https://www.thewrap.com/lionsgate-shares-stock-surge-merger-rumors/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 21:15:14 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1789819 Lionsgate could be a takeover target in 2018 — and that has Wall Street buzzing.

Shares of the studio jumped 6.75 percent to $34.46 on Wednesday, following a Deadline report it has several potential suitors, including Amazon, Verizon, and a combined CBS-Viacom.

Reps for Lionsgate did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The CBS-Viacom-Lionsgate triumvirate would bring popular franchises like “The Hunger Games” and “Orange Is the New Black” to the bolstered network. Last week, TheWrap reported Shari Redstone, CBS and Viacom vice-chairwoman, was pushing to consolidate the two media companies.

At the same time, Amazon’s interest makes sense. The tech kingpin has already had success in Hollywood, with “Transparent” netting Jeffrey Tambor an Emmy, and “Manchester by the Sea” winning two Oscars last year. Beefing up its content slate would give its customers another reason to sign up for Prime — and keep them spending in the Amazon ecosystem.

A merger with Verizon would give the country’s biggest telecom company a wealth of content for distribution. However, the unexpected roadblocks the AT&T-Time Warner deal has run into with the Department of Justice could be an issue here as well. But with Disney closing its $52.4 billion acquisition of several 21st Century Fox properties last month, the industry M&A market could be heating up.

Thursday’s increase continued Lionsgate’s recent blitz; shares of the company have gained shot up about 25 percent since early November.

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Apple Will Soon Let You Disable iPhone-Slowing Battery ‘Feature’ https://www.thewrap.com/apple-iphone-slow-down-change/ https://www.thewrap.com/apple-iphone-slow-down-change/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:54:56 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1789738 If you were turned off by Apple covertly slowing down your iPhone because of its dying battery, CEO Tim Cook wants to make it up to you.

In an upcoming software update, Cook told ABC News users will be able to turn off the “feature” that was throttling old iPhones.

“We’re going to give people the visibility of the health of their battery so it’s very, very transparent. This hasn’t been done before,” said Cook. “We will tell somebody ‘We’re slightly reducing your performance by some amount in order to not have an unexpected restart.’ And if you don’t want it, you can turn it off.”

Cook said the iOS update is going to “happen next month,” but he doesn’t necessarily recommend it.

Apple caught flak last month when it was revealed it had been slowing down several models of iPhone 6. The company said it was “misunderstanding” — something that had to be done due to a problem with its lithium-ion batteries degrading over time, which caused phones to unexpectedly shutdown during peak usage. Critics saw it as a sneaky attempt by the tech giant to force customers to ditch their old phones and upgrade.

Apple issued a mea culpa afterwards, offering to replace batteries for $29, rather than the usual $79.

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There’s Another Harry Potter Mobile Game Coming and This One Has a Trailer (Video) https://www.thewrap.com/harry-potter-hogwarts-mystery-role-playing-mobile-game-trailer-video/ https://www.thewrap.com/harry-potter-hogwarts-mystery-role-playing-mobile-game-trailer-video/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:45:25 +0000 Jennifer Maas https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1789633

Congratulations! It only took 20 years, but you’ve finally been admitted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Your letter should be arriving later this year, when the first Harry Potter role-playing mobile game is released.

Until then, you can enjoy a taste of the magic with the new teaser trailer for “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery,” from studio Jam City.

The RPG will allow players to create a personalized Hogwarts student avatar. But wait, there is more! You can attend classes, meet with Hogwarts professors, cast spells and make potions, and build bonds with friends and snub your enemies.

“Hogwarts Mystery” will focus on both larger plots and smaller relationship stories, a la the actual Harry Potter franchise, according to Entertainment Weekly. But the game is a prequel of sorts, set at the school when Harry was much younger and Nymphadora Tonks and Bill Weasley were enrolled.

The title is set to launch in the App Store and Google Play in the spring, but will be revealed first at the Celebration of Harry Potter event at Universal Studios in Orlando, from Jan. 26-28. Those lucky enough to attend will be the first to play the game. So, uh, get some tickets now if your fingers are itching to get your hands on a wand — a virtual one, we mean.

“Hogwarts Mystery” is not to be confused with the upcoming “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” from Niantic and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, the creators behind “Pokemon GO.”

In that augmented reality mobile game, which was announced in November, players can go on adventures, learn and cast spells, discover artifacts and encounter legendary beasts and iconic characters from J.K. Rowling’s series as they trot through neighborhoods and cities across the globe.

Watch the trailer for “Hogwarts Mystery” above.

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YouTube Yanks Videos of Detergent Eaters in ‘Tide Pod Challenge’ https://www.thewrap.com/youtube-is-yanking-videos-of-the-tide-pod-challenge/ https://www.thewrap.com/youtube-is-yanking-videos-of-the-tide-pod-challenge/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:03:11 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1789610 Want to take a big bite of laundry detergent? Knock yourself out.

But YouTube won’t be letting you post a clip of your “meal” anymore. The video giant is pulling clips of the Tide Pod Challenge, a meme that morphed into a viral video craze that has people uploading videos of themselves eating detergent.

“YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm,” a YouTube spokesperson told TheWrap. “We work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate our policies.”

Many uploads show people coughing and foaming at the mouth after swallowing pods. Videos flagged on YouTube are being yanked down, and channels that post “pod challenge” clips are receiving a strike. Too many strikes, and an account is suspended.

You can still find pod-eating posts on YouTube, if you’re looking to see what the inane craze is about — although many of the videos now simply include “pod challenge” in its name, followed by a YouTuber mocking the idea of actually trying to digest soap.

The meme first started in 2013, according to KnowYourMeme.com, and has increasingly caught fire of late on social media. Tide’s latest tweet, sent about a week ago, said its pods are for “DOING LAUNDRY. Nothing else.”

Not eating something that can burn a hole through your stomach would seem like a no-brainer. But according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, 39 people have already been treated for “intentional exposure” this year.

Related stories from TheWrap:

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Amazon Studios to Shift Strategy From Indies to $50 Million-Plus ‘Commercial’ Movies (Report) https://www.thewrap.com/amazon-studios-to-target-less-indie-films-more-commercial-movies/ https://www.thewrap.com/amazon-studios-to-target-less-indie-films-more-commercial-movies/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 16:00:42 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1789479 Amazon Studios is switching up its game plan: Indie movies are out, bigger projects are in.

The tech behemoth will be aiming for more “commercial” films that can appeal to large audiences, according to a new report from Reuters citing unnamed sources who said that the company would target movies with budgets closer to $50 million, rather than $5 million as it has in recent years.

Amazon Studios did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.

The shift in strategy comes on the eve of the Sundance Film Festival, a place where Amazon Studios has made waves in the past for its deals; two years ago, the studio shelled out $10 million for the domestic rights to “Manchester by the Sea.”

It continued the trend last year, making five high-profile buys of Sundance premieres, including $6 million for a Grateful Dead documentary and another $12 million for “The Big Sick,” with the Judd Apatow-produced comedy grossing an impressive $42.8 million at the domestic box office.

The company also bought the prison drama “Crown Heights,” the dramedy “Landline,” and the ISIS documentary “City of Ghosts.”

Targeting films with broad appeal would also help Amazon drive more Prime memberships, its paid shopping service with perks, Reuters noted. The plan is to use its studio wing to funnel customers back into the Amazon ecosystem, where they’ll buy more gadgets, books and toilet paper.

The strategic shift also follows the ouster of Roy Price, who had led the studio since its inception in 2010 but resigned in October following accusations of sexual misconduct. His replacement has not been named.

According to the report, Amazon has no current plans to move into full “blockbuster territory” in terms of theatrical release. But the company’s TV division has stepped up its spending on a higher-profile projects, including a $250 million deal for a “Lord of the Rings” series.

The report adds Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos believes it will be “business as usual” for its studio at Sundance, with the company aiming for multi-million dollar deals with movies poised for theatrical releases.

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Apple Takes Bigger Bite Out of LA, Leases Massive Culver City Building (Report) https://www.thewrap.com/apple-leases-culver-city-hollywood/ https://www.thewrap.com/apple-leases-culver-city-hollywood/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 23:38:21 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1789210 Apple is getting serious about its Hollywood push.

As the world’s biggest tech company dips its toes into the original content waters with a $1 billion budget, its agreed to lease a 128,000 square-foot building in Culver City, California, according to The Real Deal. Terms were not disclosed.

Apple did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The new SoCal base would expand Apple’s presence between Hollywood and Santa Monica, where the entertainment business is concentrated; Apple already has a Culver City office up and running, and it’s moving to close a deal on another 85,000 square-foot office in the city, according to TRD.

The 128,000 square-foot building is a four-story complex located at 8777 Washington Boulevard in Culver City. It is located near to Beats Electronics, a subsidiary of Apple, and Sony Pictures Studios.

Earlier on Wednesday, Apple announced it had inked Kristen Wiig to star in a Reese Witherspoon-produced project underway as part of its push into original content.

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Kristen Wiig to Lead New Reese Witherspoon Comedy Series for Apple https://www.thewrap.com/kristen-wiig-reese-witherspoon-comedy-series-apple/ https://www.thewrap.com/kristen-wiig-reese-witherspoon-comedy-series-apple/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:10:17 +0000 Jennifer Maas https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1788828 Reese Witherspoon has another series headed to Apple and this one boasts Kristen Wiig as its lead, a source close to production told TheWrap.

Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine-produced project is Apple’s first half-hour scripted comedy. Inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld’s upcoming short story collection “You Think It, I’ll Say It,” the show has received a 10-episode order by the tech company.

The untitled show marks Wiig’s first regular TV series role since she exited “Saturday Night Live” in 2012.

Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter will executive produce for Hello Sunshine, with Wiig also receiving an EP credits on the series. Colleen McGuinness created the show and will serve as showrunner and executive producer. Sittenfeld will act as consulting producer.

This marks the third project Apple has ordered from Hello Sunshine, including Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston’s morning show drama and Octavia Spencer’s “Are You Sleeping,” which is co-produced by Chernin Entertainment.

Those series join the tech companies lineup of originals, including Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories,” Ron Moore’s space drama, the drama “See” from Steven Knight and Francis Lawrence, and the docuseries “Home” from Matt Tyrnauer and Matthew Weaver.

Sean Burch contributed to this story.

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YouTube Grabs Rights to Eminem-Produced Film ‘Bodied’ https://www.thewrap.com/youtube-grabs-rights-to-eminem-produced-film-bodied/ https://www.thewrap.com/youtube-grabs-rights-to-eminem-produced-film-bodied/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 14:00:44 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1788260 Eminem’s latest battle-rap flick is headed to YouTube.

The streaming heavyweight has scored the worldwide rights to the Marshall Mathers-produced “Bodied,” a satirical movie that follows a grad student-turned-battle-rapper.

Calum Worthy (“Austin & Ally” and “American Vandal”) stars as Adam Merkin, a progressive student whose interest in competitive hip-hop for his thesis project ends up breeding success — and anger from his opponents.

“Bodied” was directed by Joseph Kahn, a music video mainstay that’s led projects from Snoop Dogg, Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Eminem, of course. YouTube is hosting a sneak peek of “Bodied” on Sunday, Jan. 21 at the Sundance Film Festival. Attendees can get tickets at a public reception at the YouTube House.

 

After Sundance, “Bodied” will have a theatrical release, before hitting YouTube Red later in 2018. The movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last September, winning the Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award; it also boasts a 95 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8/10 score on IMDb.

Charlamagne Tha God makes a cameo as a battle rapper in the film, alongside other performers like Dizaster and Dumfoundead. Jackie Long (“Idlewild” and “ATL”), Shoniqua Shondai (“Sing It!”), Walter Perez (“The Avengers”), and Rory Uphold (“Hella”) star alongside Worthy. Def Jam Records CEO Paul Rosenberg, along with Adi Shankar and Jil Hardin, join Eminem as producers on the project.

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Live-Tweeting TV: How Networks Make the Most of Your FOMO https://www.thewrap.com/live-tweeting-tv-shows-twitter-this-is-us-scandal-empire-big-brother/ https://www.thewrap.com/live-tweeting-tv-shows-twitter-this-is-us-scandal-empire-big-brother/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:51:08 +0000 Jennifer Maas https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1748598 If there is one friend you need to shout “spoiler alert!” at loudest, it’s probably Twitter. Fans of any show whose hashtag trends hard should know by now to stay away from the platform during prime time at all costs if they can’t watch an episode live. And networks are honestly cool with that.

“Our approach to Twitter is to drive conversation, support fandoms, and create a sense of tune-in urgency,” Rob Hayes, executive vice president for NBC Digital, tells TheWrap. “Live-tweeting plays a key role in meeting all those objectives. We’re directly engaging with handraisers, creating content that’s inherently sharable, and doing it in a way that creates a communal experience best enjoyed while watching live. It’s the FOMO of social.”

Don’t get us wrong, NBC doesn’t want you to find out how Jack died on “This Is Us” secondhand and ABC wouldn’t be thrilled if you discovered who didn’t get a rose on “The Bachelor” because the contestant’s name is popping up in every other tweet. So marketing teams take steps to make sure that doesn’t happen. Well, they do what they can.

“The goal is to continue to provide content that engages the live audience, but that doesn’t spoil the moment for a viewer,” Jeff Grossman, senior vice president of digital content at CBS Interactive, tells TheWrap. “We have an obligation to protect moments that show creators have designed as a surprise and we also have to be particularly careful on our reality shows. We would never announce who was eliminated from a reality show from the official show accounts but fans watching in real time will react. You can’t muzzle the real time megaphone of Twitter. It’s a balancing act.”

Then the question becomes, exactly how does a network get you live-tweeting with them? For starters, those cute little branded emojis that you see pop up when you type #Empire or #Scandal aren’t just there to be adorable. They take a lot of time and effort to create and there is a real science to them.

When we’re planning our Twitter emojis we partner with closely with Twitter to identify the shows and the hooks that really encourage audience adoption,” Hayes said. “The ‘This Is Us’ fandom talks about crying and tissues, so we produced a tissue box. On ‘The Voice,’ fans like to share their team allegiances, so we made Coach emojis every time someone tweeted with a team hashtag.”

And then there is the live-tweeting element that fans usually care about the most: the actors and showrunners they get to interact with during the live window. While NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox all said no one is contractually obligated to live-tweet, it is definitely encouraged and usually a task they enjoy.

“Most of our talent and our creators are very supportive and understand the importance,” Megan Wahtera, Fox’s senior vice president of content marketing, tells TheWrap. “I think in this day and age they see it happening and they understand the amplifications of ‘second screen experiences,’ if you want to call it that. And some of them are just really great at it and have it come that simply. They are very natural and organic when talking with their audiences.”

“Recently, Adam Scott from ‘Ghosted,’ he engages in the live window and answers tons of questions about the show, about himself, you name it. And it actually adds another layer to the experience,” Wahtera continued. “Taraji P. Henson on ‘Empire’ — we’ve seen a correlation that when some of our significant talent tweets along with the live experience, we see an elevated lift in social conversations — so she’s another one who is great and has a strong fanbase. And somebody like Seth MacFarlane in ‘The Orville,’ it’s kind of an inside exposure that they get from him and a very unique perspective on the show. And he’s great at answering fans and tweeting in the live window. So I guess what I’m getting at is, no, it’s not a job. Ee don’t make it an obligation. But our talent is usually pretty enthusiastic about it, which goes a long way with fans.”

When it comes to how shows’ official Twitter accounts engage with fans, that’s a different story — though networks seem to follow a similar format.

“Our digital strategy team watches all shows in advance and identifies storylines and key moments that we anticipate fans will respond to,” Erin Weir, ABC’s senior vice president of marketing strategy, tells TheWrap. “We then create content (memes, gifs, clips, etc.) tied to those moments so people can have assets to share and react to in real time. We also share content with our talent so that they can be an active part of the conversation. We will tease and promote on the platform, often counting down throughout the day to help drive excitement for tune in.”

Now, there are specifics for how each show is handled, but “the overall approach is the same,” Weir said.

“We want to engage the fanbase in real time with compelling information, insight, and content but naturally the tone and creative content vary greatly among our shows. We also listen to the fanbases and embrace the vernacular that they are using. So whether we are rallying the Gladiators for ‘Scandal’ or addressing Bachelor Nation, we want to create an authentic conversation.”

These strategies brought NBC 15.7 million Twitter interactions based on prime time broadcast series in 2017, ABC 14.4 million, CBS and The CW 7.5 million and Fox 6 million, according to Nielsen Social Content Ratings. But do those numbers translate to an increase in TV ratings? The Big 4 will basically tell you “no.”

“Your hair will grow gray quickly if you’re looking for a definitive correlation between Twitter and TV ratings,” Grossman said. “Television is littered with examples of Trending Topics for lower rated shows. The goal of live tweeting is about building buzz, deeper fan engagement, creating awareness and potentially recruiting new viewers down the line.”

(The CW declined TheWrap’s request to be interviewed for this story, though its dark take on the Archie comics, “Riverdale,” was one of the top 10 most social shows on Twitter in 2017.)

Check out these stats and our infographic below to see which shows perform best across social media.

  • “Empire” was the No. 1 most social broadcast prime time series for the year 2017, generating 9.2 million total social interactions
  • “The Orville” was the No. 1 new prime time broadcast drama on Twitter, ranked on total Twitter interactions
  • “The Voice” was the No. 1 most social TV series on Twitter in 2017
  • “Will & Grace” was the No. 1 most social broadcast prime time comedy in 2017
  • “Saturday Night Live” was the No. 1 most social “late fringe” series in 2017
  • “Scandal” finished at No. 9 across broadcast last calendar year (with over 5.2 million social interactions last season), and landed at ABC’s No. 3 most social series (behind “Dancing with the Stars” at 5.7 million and “Grey’s Anatomy” at 5.3 million)
  • “The Bachelor” is right behind with 4.7 million social interactions, No. 10 all around and No. 4 on ABC
  • Overall, ABC’s TGIT is the most social 3 hours on broadcast TV on Thursday night (excludeing sports)

Source: Nielsen Social Content Ratings. 1/1/17-12/31/17

TheWrap

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Greta Van Susteren and Eric Bolling’s Twitter Accounts Hacked: ‘I Love Turkey’ https://www.thewrap.com/greta-van-susteren-and-eric-bollings-twitter-accounts-hacked-i-love-turkey/ https://www.thewrap.com/greta-van-susteren-and-eric-bollings-twitter-accounts-hacked-i-love-turkey/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:38:47 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1788324 Greta Van Susteren’s Twitter account was hacked on Tuesday afternoon — or she must’ve really enjoyed a recent trip to Istanbul.

The conservative commentator started sending out several pro-Turkey tweets to her 1.2 million followers, including videos of rap songs in Turkish. She added a warm “I love Turkey” message, accompanied by a heart emoji.

Fellow former Fox News host Eric Bolling was also hacked, seemingly by the same cyber attackers.

A tweet sent in Turkish by Van Susteren’s account at about 6 p.m. ET said she was indeed hit by Turkish hackers. It translated to: “You are hacked by the Turkish cyber army Ayyıldız Tim! We got your DM correspondence! We will show you your Turk’s power! (You are hacked by the Turkish cyber army Ayyıldız Tim! We will show you the power of the Turk!”

Sounds serious.

Another gem tweeted from her account said: “They are fighting not only with physical strength, but with the power of faith, the Turkish army is a faithful and powerful army.”

Van Susteren’s account also began retweeting Bolling’s account, with them both sending pro-Turk tweets.

Bolling’s tweets, however, were a little more obscure.

“DEAR WORLD LEADER MR. PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYİP ERDOGAN WORLD GREATER THAN 5,” one tweet translated from Turkish to English said on his account.

He then retweeted Van Susteren’s hacked message saying, “We love the Turks and Muslims in the world. We condemn those who persecute them, especially in the United States, and we share their suffering . We love turkish soldiers , we love Erdoğan, we love Turkey.”

His account also had a pinned tweet saying he’d been hacked by “Ayyıldız Tim.”

Journalist Yashar Ali noted that Van Susteren and Bolling are both followed by President Trump on Twitter, and that the hackers sent the POTUS a direct message from Greta’s account.

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Apple’s App Store Revenues Could Top Global Box Office in 2018 https://www.thewrap.com/apple-app-store-bigger-than-global-movie-market/ https://www.thewrap.com/apple-app-store-bigger-than-global-movie-market/#respond Tue, 16 Jan 2018 18:27:45 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1787676 Hollywood studios might want to pick up a computer science class or two, with a new report predicting that Apple’s App Store could overtake the global box office in total revenue in 2018.

Apple is poised to rake in at least $100 million per day from the App Store this year, according to Asymyco analyst Horace Dediu. He argued that the app revenues would be enough to surpass the $39.9 billion in global movie ticket sales that comScore reported for 2017.

“As of this year the App Store alone will overtake Global Box Office revenues,” said Dediu. “The App Store, and Apple services overall, is becoming one of the largest enterprises in the world.”

Apple’s App Store is set to generate more than the global box office in 2018

Apple is already off to a strong start in 2018: The tech behemoth pulled in $300 million from App Store purchases on Jan. 1 alone. That was a 25 percent jump from the same day last year, and closed out a mammoth run of about $890 million spent between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

And with the recent launch of augmented reality-enabled apps on iOS — something that makes Apple CEO Tim Cook want to “yell out and scream” from excitement — the App Store has another option to lure in developers.

The Asymyco report underscores what investors noticed in 2017 — that Apple’s services sector is growing at a breakneck rate. Services hit $8.5 billion in revenue during its most recent quarter, a 34 percent jump year-over-year.

Dediu estimated $180 billion in “economic activity” stemmed from iOS devices last year — which comes out to about half of all mobile commerce.

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Logan Paul: ‘Everyone Deserves Second Chances, Bro’ (Video) https://www.thewrap.com/logan-paul-second-chances/ https://www.thewrap.com/logan-paul-second-chances/#respond Tue, 16 Jan 2018 17:05:41 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1787623 You won’t confuse his remarks with the Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela, but disgraced YouTube star Logan Paul has a message of compassion, following his widely-denounced video that showed the body of a suicide victim in Japan.

“Everyone deserves second chances, bro,” said Paul, as he walked past a TMZ reporter at LAX on Tuesday (see video below).

The 22-year-old has been under heavy scrutiny since posting a video titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese suicide forest” that showed a corpse hanging from a tree in Aokigahara forest near Mt. Fuji. Paul took down the clip a day later, after it had already garnered at least 6 million views. He issued an apology, followed by a second apology, in the aftermath.

Paul added to the TMZ cameraman he’s learned “everything, so many things” from the fallout.

Adding to the public skewering he received, YouTube told TheWrap last week Paul would be pulled from starring on the platform’s original series “Foursome.” Upcoming YouTube projects have been put on hold, and Paul was stripped of his Google Preferred status, which helps advertisers identify top content and purchase easy-to-buy ad packages.

Paul didn’t have much to say about YouTube to TMZ. He nodded when asked if he’d been treated fairly by the video giant and the public, and said he has a message “coming” regarding YouTube’s decision.

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New Snapchat Scripted Original Content ‘Imminent,’ Content VP Says https://www.thewrap.com/snapchat-original-content-imminent/ https://www.thewrap.com/snapchat-original-content-imminent/#respond Mon, 15 Jan 2018 23:54:09 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1786622 Snapchat’s second attempt at scripted original content is coming sooner rather than later, Snap Inc. VP of Content Nick Bell said during a panel at the Television Critics Association conference on Monday.

“It’s imminent… our preference is to get it right,” said Bell, before pointing to a recently-announced partnership with the Duplass brothers to bring new shows to the app.

Last summer, Bell hinted scripted originals would hit the app by the end of 2017. Missing that mark, according to Bell, was in part due to the app’s highly-publicized redesign getting “in the way a little bit.”

Snapchat already has 40 shows airing on its Discover channel, with an emphasis on reality and unscripted shows; the app has featured several dating shows, including one from rapper Action Bronson, as well as airing content from NBC News and ESPN’s SportsCenter twice a day.

Discover is equally focused on its “digital magazine” roots and its continued rollout of shows, according to a Snap spokesperson. To this point, its publisher content hasn’t been a game changer for the app, according to internal metrics shared by The Daily Beast last week, with only 21 percent of Snapchat users checking out Discover’s publisher content on a daily basis,

In terms of partners or stars, Bell and Sean Mills, head of original content at Snap, had little to offer on Monday. Speaking to a room of mostly non-Snapchatters (only a handful of attendees raised their hands when Bell asked if anyone had used the app in the last week), the panel was primarily an opportunity for the Snap execs to explain their platform. Snap’s next attempt at scripted originals will be its first since the poorly-received “Literally Can’t Even” debuted back in 2015. (That show centered on Sasha Spielberg — daughter of Steven Spielberg — as she tried to get over a breakup without the assistance of alcohol.)

News shows, so far, have been a successful genre for the app, according to Bell. The exec added 3.5 billion Snaps are created each day, and that Snap had “just started to embrace the creator community” — something more in-line with its chief competitor, Instagram. Bell said they’ll look to “double down” on a “small base” of creators moving forward.

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Logan Paul Still Has ‘Opportunity to Prove’ Himself to YouTube https://www.thewrap.com/logan-paul-future-youtube/ https://www.thewrap.com/logan-paul-future-youtube/#respond Sat, 13 Jan 2018 17:49:41 +0000 Jennifer Maas https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1784774 Although all of disgraced YouTube star Logan Paul’s projects are “indefinitely” on hold, the video-sharing platform’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl says they can’t know with full certainty whether they will work with him again.

“We don’t know,” the Kyncl said during YouTube’s panel at the Television Critics Association press tour on Saturday. “I couldn’t really answer that. Everything is evolving so fast and the best thing we can do is make sure we put all projects on hold indefinitely.”

However, Kyncl does think Paul still has a chance to make amends. “Actions should speak louder than words. Logan has the opportunity to prove that,” Kyncl says.

The two-time 2017 Teen Choice Award winner came under intense fire earlier this month after posting a video on Dec. 31 titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese suicide forest” that showed what appeared to be a dead man hanging from a tree in Aokigahara forest near Mt. Fuji. He took down the clip a day later, when it had already garnered at least 6 million views and has since apologized for the gaffe multiple times.

Kyncl says YouTube — who removed Paul’s channels from Google Preferred earlier this week and will not feature him in Season 4 of “Foursome” — acknowledges Paul made mistakes and they aren’t trying to sweep that under the rug.

“Specifically as to Logan,” Kyncl says. “I think, obviously, we believe he’s made missteps, unfortunate missteps. He’s expressed remorse very quickly. And uh, is learning from the experience.”

While Paul will still be able to monetize from his YouTube videos, like any average user, the benefits he reaped from his Google Preferred status, which allows advertisers to identify top content and purchase easy-to-buy ad packages, have been stripped.

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What the Hell Is HDR — and Is It Worth Buying a New TV For? https://www.thewrap.com/hell-hdr-worth-buying-new-tv/ https://www.thewrap.com/hell-hdr-worth-buying-new-tv/#respond Sat, 13 Jan 2018 04:53:37 +0000 Phil Owen https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1783057 If in the past couple years you’ve gone shopping for TVs, or casually browsed Amazon TV listings, or read any tech site, you’ve almost definitely been exposed to the acronym “HDR.” Odds are also good that you don’t know what it is because it’s a very tough concept to explain. That, somehow, has not stopped the tech sector from calling it the next big leap in entertainment, comparing it to going from standard definition to HD — even as they struggle to communicate what HDR actually is.

HDR stands for “high dynamic range” and that effectively refers to two things: light and color. HDR televisions are able to deliver dark black levels and brighter white levels than TVs in the past, and that has an effect on all the colors of the spectrum in between. Basically, you get a deeper color range. The question is: is it a big enough deal that most people would even notice? The answer is a very complicated “yes and no.”

But before we get to that, let’s talk about the current situation with HDR for a second. First, HDR is an increasingly ubiquitous feature in 4K televisions — most new 4K TVs in 2018 will also support HDR.

HDR is like 3D in that it’s a feature based in the content — just as you couldn’t watch everything you watch in a 3D-capable TV in 3D, you can’t watch everything you watch on an HDR-capable TV in HDR. There’s plenty of HDR content, though. Most Netflix original programming is in 4K and HDR now (including all the Marvel shows, like “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones”), as is many of Amazon Prime’s series. Most new movies are released on 4K blu-ray with HDR now as well, and iTunes has a really robust selection of HDR movies that you can watch if you have an Apple TV 4K streaming box — any movie you own in iTunes in HD they’ll automatically give you an upgrade for if they have a 4K/HDR version.

It’s important to also note that the tech that makes HDR possible in TVs will also make your regular content look better as a matter of course. That tech is a fundamental step forward for TVs just in general — when I first got my HDR TV, before I had any content to watch on it, I marveled at how much better it looked than my previous very-nice-by-2011-standards TV.

Right now there’s a sort of format war going on, between Dolby Vision, which is a proprietary format that studios have to license, and HDR10, which is open source and can be used by anyone for free. The consensus is that Dolby Vision is better, but a new version of HDR10, called HDR10+ is on the way and is expected to arrive this year.

In 2018, it’s a safe bet that most new TVs will support both formats, but HDR10+ is somewhat of a wildcard. We expect that TV sets and 4K blu-ray players that support HDR10 will be able to be updated to support HDR10+ as well, but we don’t know if content that plays in HDR10 already (for example: most 4K blu-ray discs) will see an upgrade after the fact.

In short, it’s a mess right now with competing formats, and we have no idea how it will play out. Will they end up living side by side or will one of them eventually win out? Will updates to these formats render out TVs obsolete every couple years? Right now, the TV business is in flux because of this HDR stuff.

I’ll share two personal anecdotes that I think will effectively demonstrate the situation with HDR, one about me and one about my mom.

I’m the sort of person who cares about tech, and so when HDR and 4K TVs really started to take off back in 2015 I was very curious. And in 2016 I bought a 4K TV with HDR — A Vizio P series. I picked that model because at the time it was one of the few sets that supported both of the dueling HDR standards , and also it was the best quality TV in my price range. I was excited to dive into this new world and see what the deal is with the HDR stuff everybody was talking about — though I didn’t really understand it because everyone was and is so bad at articulating what it is in a way that makes sense conceptually.

Little did I know that it would be a while before I would figure it out. It was a months-long quest that involved buying a PlayStation 4 Pro to play HDR video games, a blu-ray player that could play 4K HDR discs and a lot of time spent watching HDR content through streaming services. Eventually I was able to come up with a metaphor that I believe accurately describes HDR.

To me, regular HD is akin to walking into a room in which the lights are turned up to about three-quarters of their maximum brightness. You can see everything plenty well and you probably don’t realize the lights aren’t turned up all the way. HDR, then, is that same room with the lights turned up all the way — now you can see everything a bit more clearly and the color of objects in the room are now fuller.

If that doesn’t sound like a hugely meaningful change, that’s because it really isn’t. It takes someone like me, who’s intentionally looking for big improvements and who knows what to look for for the difference to matter. Which brings me to my other anecdote.

My mom recently bought a new 4K HDR TV. She upgraded her Netflix so it would play content in 4K and HDR. And she watched HDR content for months without knowing it before I visited over the holidays and pointed that what she was watching was playing with HDR. My mom chalked up the visual improvement to simply having a newer, better TV than she had before — she’d gotten an HDR TV without realizing it, the term never having registered with her until I tried to explain it. To her it just looked a bit better but not so much better that it warranted talking about.

My mom being far more representative of normal people than I am, I’d expect her experience to be how most people experience HDR. Most folks will get a new TV and know it looks better than their old TV did but not realize that the improvement is due to something more than just a regular, iterative improvement in tech.

Part of this is due to the content itself, of course — not everything that’s been given the HDR treatment will really blow your mind with how colorful it is. I own about a hundred movies in 4K/HDR and I’d say most of them don’t feel like some kind of major leap from regular HD. And even I, speaking as someone who cares about these things, don’t really feel like something is missing when I watch stuff in the old standard dynamic range.

Much of what’s at issue right now is just the natural growing pains of a new format, one that is a lot more complicated to pull off than simply an increase in resolution like we had with the leap from VHS to DVD and then from DVD to blu-ray. It’s going to take some time for that standards for HDR content, and the standards for HDR displays, to normalize to a point where it feels similarly functional across the board. Sure, there will always be TVs that are better than others — but here in the early days of HDR it feels more like everyone isn’t quite sure what they’re doing just yet.

2018 may go a long way toward fixing that, but it’s too soon to know just yet. For now, though, I’d recommend against upgrading to a new TV specifically for HDR. But if it’s time for a new set anyway, the best way to future-proof your purchase is to grab a TV that supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Here’s a handy guide courtesy of RTINGS.com.

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Facebook Shares Drop 4 Percent After Announcement of News Feed Changes https://www.thewrap.com/facebook-wall-street-news-feed-change/ https://www.thewrap.com/facebook-wall-street-news-feed-change/#respond Fri, 12 Jan 2018 16:10:51 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1782941 Wall Street isn’t hitting the “like” button on Facebook’s latest algorithm change.

Shares of the social network are down more than 4 percent in early morning trading on Friday, following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement the social network would undergo a “major change” to the News Feed, prioritizing posts from friends and family.

“The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being,” wrote Zuckerberg in a post on Thursday explaining the decision. “We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.”

But investors, at least initially, aren’t thrilled with spending more digital time with their loved ones. Cutting back on public posts from businesses and publishers has Wall Street concerned Facebook won’t continue to rake in as much ad revenue.

The change is expected to roll out in the next few months. BuzzFeed’s Alex Kantrowitz pointed out the adjustment will look to prioritize comments, rather than shares; Facebook noticed scrolling through the site without interactions was making people feel worse.

The change to News Feed comes on the heels of Zuckerberg’s pledge last week to make the platform more welcoming to users in 2018.

Facebook’s stock is down more than 4 percent on Friday (Google)

Facebook opened Friday’s trading down more than 5 percent, before slightly bouncing back. Prior to the dip, the company had recently soared to a new all-time high of about $188 a share. Over the last year, shares of Facebook are up 42 percent.

 

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9 Lessons Learned From CES 2018, From Robots to ‘The Blackout’ https://www.thewrap.com/ces-2018-takeaways/ https://www.thewrap.com/ces-2018-takeaways/#respond Fri, 12 Jan 2018 01:55:06 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1781835 Three days in Las Vegas will have anyone aging like a president by the time they leave — especially when you’re schlepping past thousands of electronic booths in a convention center for CES 2018. But it had to be done, with more than 4,000 exhibitors landing in the desert from across the world to show off the latest gadgets and breakthroughs in the tech world.

Here’s a rundown of the nine things that stood out at the world’s biggest tech convention1.

1. The Blackout

This had to come first. Even one year from now, many of the hyped products on display will be technologically obsolete; but “The Blackout,” on the other hand, will be the first thing that comes to mind when people think of CES 2018. Thousands of companies — including Samsung, Intel, and Sony — were left in the dark for more than an hour at the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center on Wednesday morning.

How do you lose electricity at the biggest electronics show in the world?

The Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the convention, pointed to “condensation from heavy rainfall” as the culprit. Yep, that’s just rain to everyone else in the country. CES handlers wiped the egg off their faces almost instantaneously, however.

“Besides the blackout, which was out of our control, I think the convention is going well,” one CES promoter said Wednesday evening at The Bellagio.  

The comment had shades of “other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

2. Facebook is heading to China

Well, not the social network itself, which is still banned by China’s strict internet laws. But Oculus — Facebook’s virtual reality company — announced a partnership with Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi on Monday. The companies will team up to bring Facebook’s first VR headset to China. No price or time frame for its launch was mentioned, per usual for CES launches. But Facebook investors had to be slapping high fives with the company weaving behind China’s “great firewall.”

3. Sports won’t be getting cheaper for TV

Hulu CEO Randy Freer said during a keynote conversation at the Aria on Wednesday that he doesn’t see the competition for sports rights slowing down anytime soon.

“I don’t believe the value of sports rights will go down,” said Freer. “When you think there is a bubble, there is always someone else to buy.”

As TV scrambles to counteract cord-cutting, networks are paying a premium for live sports. Disney is paying more than $2.6 billion per year through the mid-2020s to keep the NBA on ESPN and ABC; Fox, NBC, and CBS are all paying more than $1 billion per year to broadcast their share of NFL action, while ESPN is paying $2 billion for Monday Night Football.

With the FANG companies — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google — all circling pro sports as their current deals inch towards the finish line, the bidding could get even more crowded. Amazon — which paid $50 million to stream 10 Thursday NFL games this season — and Facebook, which has a deal to stream Major League Baseball games, are already dipping their toes in the water.

4. “The Wall”

I still can’t get over how damn big Samsung’s “The Wall” television is — and I don’t even care about TV! The appropriately named 146-inch screen features a MicroLED display — something Samsung boasts is a significant leap forward from the standard LED screens on most new TVs. No release date or price was attached, but it’s expected to come out later in 2018.

Samsung’s “The Wall”

5. Smart mirrors will grade your face problems 

Looking for a mirror to pinpoint your imperfections right when you wake up? Powered by Amazon’s Alexa, HiMirror displayed the latest edition of its smart mirror at CES 2018; it’ll spot and score your wrinkles, dark spots, and clogged pores — if you were having a problem doing it yourself.

6. Tech parties 

When you’re about to go public, like Spotify, why not throw a party at Hakkasan and bring out Wiz Khalifa? Between the fancy rooftop cocktail hours and reserved nightclubs, CES seemed like a tech battleground for not only the best products, but the best parties. If you’re looking to rage with a bunch of guys dressed like Hank Scorpio (sports coat and jeans), CES is the place for you. Also, some of these parties have Moet vending machines.

Vegas has it all, including champagne vending machines

7. Robots might be a thing, finally

Going back to the weird electronic housekeeper in “Rocky IV,” doesn’t it seem like we’ve been teased with robots being the “next big thing” in tech for more than 30 years now? Well, we might be finally reaching that point, at long last. China’s Avatarmind showed off iPal, its three-foot tall robot for kids. The bot — which will tell kids bedtime stories, play games, and “safely” connect to the internet, according to a company spokesperson — will come out later this year in the U.S. and run about $1,500.

Aibo, Sony’s robo-dog, also turned heads at the convention, letting visitors pet its sleek head. The updated electro-mutt, which first launched in the ’90s, goes on sale for about $1,700 next week in Japan, but the company didn’t give a timeline for other markets.

Aibo, Sony’s robotic dog

8. Crytocurrency isn’t going away

Easily one of the most talked about topics at CES was bitcoin and the hundreds of other cryptocurrencies skyrocketing in value. Several investment bankers, in town to throw money at tech companies, told TheWrap this isn’t Beanie Babies 2.0: cryptos like bitcoin and ether, fueled by millennials and Gen Z’ers, are here to stay.

9. AR > VR, for now

CES confirmed what TheWrap has been arguing for months: augmented reality has the upper hand on virtual reality — at least for now. Functionality, minus the clunky headwear that comes with VR, gives AR the upper hand. As Pandora SVP Susan Panico put it on Thursday, VR needs to become “untethered” and more “natural” to gain widespread adoption. Plus, no one likes their hair getting messed up with a VR headset.

Still, there are plenty of kinks to work out for AR, too. Engadget noted Rokid’s upcoming AR glasses are “janky as hell.” But its Terminator-esque ability to overlay someone’s personal data — their Facebook profile, or contact info — just by looking at them, hints at a future where AR seamlessly integrates into our day-to-day interactions.

Related stories from TheWrap:

No, HBO's 'Succession' Is NOT About the Murdoch Family

Will James Franco Accusations Hurt His Chances for Oscar, SAG and Spirit Awards?

Power Outage at CES Leaves Thousands in the Dark

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Turner CEO John Martin ‘Hopeful’ Time Warner-AT&T Merger Will Go Through https://www.thewrap.com/turner-ceo-john-martin-hopeful-merger/ https://www.thewrap.com/turner-ceo-john-martin-hopeful-merger/#respond Thu, 11 Jan 2018 00:09:17 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1780799 Turner CEO John Martin said he’s “hopeful” Time Warner’s paused merger with AT&T will ultimately be approved by the Justice Department.

Martin expressed his optimism during Wednesday’s keynote conversation at CES in Las Vegas, despite being personally “disappointed” in the government’s intervention in the deal.

“In the history of the U.S., no vertical merger that looks like this has ever been blocked,” Martin said. “This would be a new precedent that we’re anticipating won’t happen.”

The $85 billion deal — combining one of the largest internet and subscription TV businesses with Time Warner’s arsenal of content, including Turner — was first announced in October 2016. Antitrust officials from the Department of Justice sued to block the deal last November, arguing the combined company could jack up prices on consumers.

“This merger would greatly harm American consumers,” said Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, at the time. “It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy.”

DoJ insiders had said the deal would stand a greater chance of going through if it didn’t include CNN — one of Turner’s prized assets that has drawn the ire of President Trump.

AT&T chief exec Randall Stephenson has said his company isn’t interested in an amended deal that would exclude CNN, or leave out any other Turner stations.

“There’s been a lot of reporting and speculation whether this is all about CNN,” Stephenson said in November. “And frankly I don’t know. Nobody should be surprised the question keeps coming up.”

With the deal pushing 15 months without a conclusion, Martin said on Wednesday “everybody wants some clarity” on the whether it’ll go through or not.

Related stories from TheWrap:

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson: DOJ Antitrust Suit 'Defies Logic and Is Unprecedented'

Justice Department to Sue to Prevent AT&T-Time Warner Merger

AT&T-Time Warner Merger in Jeopardy: 5 Scenarios for What Happens Next

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FoxNext Brings VR Behind-the-Scenes Look at Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ https://www.thewrap.com/foxnext-brings-vr-behind-the-scenes-look-to-wes-andersons-isle-of-dogs/ https://www.thewrap.com/foxnext-brings-vr-behind-the-scenes-look-to-wes-andersons-isle-of-dogs/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 22:00:19 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1780712 Add Wes Anderson to the list of directors experimenting with virtual reality.

FoxNext, together with Felix & Paul Studios and Google Spotlight Stories, will be debuting a behind-the-scenes VR experience at Sundance, centered around the upcoming Anderson movie “Isle of Dogs.”

The experience gives viewers a look at stars Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johannsson and Jeff Goldblum on set, talking about the making of the film. The movie, set to hit theaters on March 23, takes place in a futuristic Japan, where all dogs have been exiled to “Trash Island”; it follows a young boy on his journey to track down his lost dog.

Sundance attendees can check it out as part of the festival’s “New Frontiers” features, and FoxNext is showing a sneak peak at CES 2018. Specifics on when the experience will go live to the masses will come out after Sundance.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Is Virtual Reality's Steven Spielberg Still in College?

Virtual Reality Has a Promising Future, But Is Still Loading

Mark Zuckerberg Has an Ambitious Goal for Virtual Reality

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Power Outage at CES Leaves Thousands in the Dark https://www.thewrap.com/power-outage-at-ces-leaves-thousands-in-dark/ https://www.thewrap.com/power-outage-at-ces-leaves-thousands-in-dark/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 20:58:18 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1780643 The premier electronics convention was hit with a power outage Wednesday morning, as the lights went out at CES 2018 at about 11:15 a.m. local time, just as the second day of exhibitions were ramping up.

Booths at the Las Vegas Convention Center went dark for more than an hour after power went out in the center’s South and Central halls. Affected companies in Central hall included Sony, Samsung, Intel, and LG.

A CES spokesperson told TheWrap that the organization doesn’t know why the power went out. But the convention’s Twitter feed accentuated the positive, recommending that visitors “get outside on this beautiful Las Vegas day,’ as they work through an “isolated power outage.” Other convention venues, like the Aria Venetian hotels, were unaffected.

Las Vegas was hit by heavy rainfall on Tuesday, with streets along The Strip flooded.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Ex-Google Employee James Damore Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Tech Giant

'Black Mirror': Technology Terrorizes Fans Who Can't Figure Out When Season 4 Drops

Apple Invests $390 Million in Facial Recognition Tech

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8 Eye-Popping Gadgets at CES 2018, From Storytelling Robots to Augmented Reality Glasses (Photos) https://www.thewrap.com/ces-gallery-2018-augmented-reality-robots/ https://www.thewrap.com/ces-gallery-2018-augmented-reality-robots/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 19:22:40 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1780401 Tech companies have gathered at CES in Las Vegas to show off their latest gadgets for 2018. From Samsung’s massive new 146’ TV to the first fingerprint sensor smartphone, check out what has caught our eye so far.

Samsung has taken the big screen to a whole new level. “The Wall” is literally bigger than most walls, coming in at 146’ wide. The picture is just as eye-catching, with its MicroLED display representing a major step up from the LED screens  found on most TVs. If you’re looking to cover you living room wall with “The Wall,” it’s coming out sometime in 2018, although the company wouldn’t put a ballpark price tag on it.

Rokid’s AR Glasses highlighted the main reason TheWrap continues to be bullish on AR compared to VR. In short: functionality. Throw on a pair of these wi-fi enabled glasses, look someone in the face, and you’ll be hit with their social media profiles, and contact information. It’s a bit Terminator-esque. The glasses, manufactured out of San Diego, will be arriving later in 2018. Rokid wouldn’t put a price on it, yet, but said it’ll be “competitive” with VR headsets like Oculus, which run about $400.

Dolls are out, robots are in. That’s what AvatarMind wants parents to believe, at least. The China-based company was showing off its three-foot robot, aimed as a 21st century educational toy for kids. The bot will sing lullabies and read stories, among other features. They’ll cost around $1,600 to $2,000 when they come out in the U.S. later this year.

Samsung and Apple lost the race to fingerprint sensors to Vivo. The Chinese smartphone maker has put scanner right on the front of its unnamed phone. Similar to signing in at the gym, simply place your finger on a blue dot at the bottom of your locked screen, and it’ll open up. It’s the first smartphone to integrate the tech.

XYZ’s 3D Da Vinci printer showed you can make nearly anything in minutes… even a bust of President Trump, if you want.

Sony showed off its three new “extra bass” SRS speakers, running between $100 and $250. The Bluetooth-enabled speakers have 24 hours of battery life.

Japan-based Omron showed its electronic censors can mirror human movement by building a robot ping-pong partner. Unfortunately, you can’t buy this for practicing in your basement. But Omron’s tech is being used at U.S. companies like Tesla, where it helps assemble its cars.

Saving the adult content for last. Mashable recently pointed out porn accounts for 60 percent of the top virtual reality sites, and the industry is now betting on augmented reality as well. Naughty America, a San Diego-based studio, was displaying an upcoming AR app that’ll allow fans to superimpose themselves right next to their favorites stars.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Netflix Really Wants You To Believe #PsychaSec is Real

Netflix Casts Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina the Teenage Witch

'Bright' Day for Netflix: Streaming Powerhouse Hits All-Time High on Wall Street

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https://www.thewrap.com/ces-gallery-2018-augmented-reality-robots/feed/ 0 Tech companies have gathered at CES in Las Vegas to show off their newest gadgets for 2018. From Samsung's massive 146' TV to the first fingerprint sensor smartphone, check out what has caught our eye so far. 

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Tech companies have gathered at CES in Las Vegas to show off their newest gadgets for 2018. From Samsung's massive 146' TV to the first fingerprint sensor smartphone, check out what has caught our eye so far. 

]]>
Samsung has taken the big screen to a whole new level. "The Wall" is literally bigger than most walls, coming in at 146' wide. The picture is just as eye-catching, with its MicroLED display representing a major step up from the LED screens found on most TVs. If you're looking to cover your living room wall with "The Wall," it's coming out sometime in 2018, although the company hasn't put even a ballpark price tag on it yet.

]]>
Samsung has taken the big screen to a whole new level. "The Wall" is literally bigger than most walls, coming in at 146' wide. The picture is just as eye-catching, with its MicroLED display representing a major step up from the LED screens found on most TVs. If you're looking to cover your living room wall with "The Wall," it's coming out sometime in 2018, although the company hasn't put even a ballpark price tag on it yet.

]]>
Rokid's AR Glasses highlight the main reason TheWrap continues to be bullish on AR compared to VR. In short: functionality. Throw on a pair of these wi-fi enabled glasses, look someone in the face, and you'll be hit with their social media profiles and contact information. It's a bit Terminator-esque. The glasses, manufactured out of San Diego, will be arriving later in 2018. Rokid wouldn't put a price on it, yet, but said it'll be "competitive" with VR headsets like Oculus, which run for roughly $400.  

]]>
Rokid's AR Glasses highlight the main reason TheWrap continues to be bullish on AR compared to VR. In short: functionality. Throw on a pair of these wi-fi enabled glasses, look someone in the face, and you'll be hit with their social media profiles and contact information. It's a bit Terminator-esque. The glasses, manufactured out of San Diego, will be arriving later in 2018. Rokid wouldn't put a price on it, yet, but said it'll be "competitive" with VR headsets like Oculus, which run for roughly $400.  

]]>
Dolls are out, robots are in. That's what AvatarMind wants parents to believe, at least. The China-based company was showing off its three-foot robot, aimed as a 21st century educational toy for kids. The bot will sing lullabies and read stories, among other features. They'll cost around $1,600 to $2,000 when they come out in the U.S. later this year.

]]>
Dolls are out, robots are in. That's what AvatarMind wants parents to believe, at least. The China-based company was showing off its three-foot robot, aimed as a 21st century educational toy for kids. The bot will sing lullabies and read stories, among other features. They'll cost around $1,600 to $2,000 when they come out in the U.S. later this year.

]]>
Samsung and Apple lost the race to fingerprint sensors to Vivo. The Chinese smartphone maker has put th scanner right on the front of its unnamed phone. Similar to signing in at the gym, simply place your finger on a blue dot at the bottom of your locked screen, and it'll open up. It's the first smartphone to integrate the tech.

]]>
Samsung and Apple lost the race to fingerprint sensors to Vivo. The Chinese smartphone maker has put th scanner right on the front of its unnamed phone. Similar to signing in at the gym, simply place your finger on a blue dot at the bottom of your locked screen, and it'll open up. It's the first smartphone to integrate the tech.

]]>
XYZ's 3D Da Vinci printer shows you can make nearly anything in minutes... even a bust of President Trump, if you want. 

]]>
XYZ's 3D Da Vinci printer shows you can make nearly anything in minutes... even a bust of President Trump, if you want. 

]]>
Sony is showing off its three new "extra bass" SRS speakers, running between $100 and $250. The Bluetooth-enabled speakers have 24-hours of battery life. 

]]>
Sony is showing off its three new "extra bass" SRS speakers, running between $100 and $250. The Bluetooth-enabled speakers have 24-hours of battery life. 

]]>
Japan-based Omron's electronic censors can mirror human movement by building an artificial intelligence-powered ping-pong partner. Unfortunately, you can't buy this for practicing in your basement. But the global  company's tech is being used at U.S. companies like Tesla, where it helps assemble its cars.

]]>
Japan-based Omron's electronic censors can mirror human movement by building an artificial intelligence-powered ping-pong partner. Unfortunately, you can't buy this for practicing in your basement. But the global  company's tech is being used at U.S. companies like Tesla, where it helps assemble its cars.

]]>
Saving the adult content for last. Mashable recently pointed out porn accounts for 60 percent of the top virtual reality sites, and the industry is now betting on augmented reality as well. Naughty America, a San Diego-based studio, is displaying an upcoming AR app that'll allow fans to superimpose themselves right next to their favorites adult performers. 

]]>
Saving the adult content for last. Mashable recently pointed out porn accounts for 60 percent of the top virtual reality sites, and the industry is now betting on augmented reality as well. Naughty America, a San Diego-based studio, is displaying an upcoming AR app that'll allow fans to superimpose themselves right next to their favorites adult performers. 

]]>
Netflix Really Wants You To Believe #PsychaSec is Real https://www.thewrap.com/ces2018-netflix-really-wants-you-to-believe-psychasec-is-real/ https://www.thewrap.com/ces2018-netflix-really-wants-you-to-believe-psychasec-is-real/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 16:56:46 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1779987 Just one day into CES 2018 and the future of technology is already pretty spooky.

Wandering through the seemingly never-ending Las Vegas Convention Center on Tuesday, it was hard to miss the crowd gathered around around the “PsychaSec” display. Hosts draped in all-white were showing off two artificial bodies that, “in a few years,” humans could pay to trade their own crappy body for. At the same time, the host touted the company’s ability to plant chips into a person’s head and download every experience and memory they’ve had.

Sounds pretty trippy, right? Unfortunately, PsychaSec isn’t real. But even the CIA would’ve had a hard time getting the booth hosts to admit it.

After hearing a bit of the spiel, I pulled one of the “employees” to the side and started asking questions: Where are you guys based out of? Why hasn’t anyone heard a thing about your company before? When would this crazy tech hit the market? And, how come no one is acknowledging the Netflix logo on the side of the booth?

The cheery young woman dodged them all, saying they’re “based in several locations,” and reiterated this will be available in a few years. She said the “sleeves” — the artificial bodies — would be good for someone with “scrawny arms” looking to step into a more muscular body if they wanted one, as she continued to dodge the Netflix question.

Shuffling away to the media room, I searched for Netflix and Pyschasec on my phone. As it turns out, the streaming giant is launching a new show, “Altered Carbon,” in February, based on a sci-fi novel where rich humans can essentially stay alive forever by buying new sleeves. I pulled out the CES media guide and couldn’t find PsychaSec listed as an exhibitor. By this point, I felt incredibly gullible for letting the “employee” talk to me like it was a real company for five minutes, so I turned around, set on getting one of them to just acknowledge the Netflix tie-in.

One of the “sleeves,” bagged up and on display

As I walked back to the booth, one of the guys watching the introductory breakdown muttered to his friend “this seems like a scam.” He wasn’t far off. I pulled aside another tall, attractive young host and told her just give me the truth: this is just a cool ad for Netflix. She kept smiling and towed the “it’ll be out in a few years” line. I then pointed out gullible people, like me, were walking away confused because they were displayed next to real products and wouldn’t acknowledge Netflix at all. Finally, I got her to give me a wink, confirming it’s all a put-on. Thank you.

If the show’s actors are half as good as the CES presenters, it’ll walk away with a dozen Emmys and Golden Globes next year.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Netflix Comes Out in Support for Net Neutrality, Tells FCC 'We Will See You in Court'

David Letterman Books Barack Obama for First Netflix Show Next Week (Video)

Here's Everything Coming to and Leaving Netflix in January

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Hulu Touts 40 Percent Jump in Subscribers in One Year https://www.thewrap.com/hulu-tops-17-million-total-subscribers-company-says/ https://www.thewrap.com/hulu-tops-17-million-total-subscribers-company-says/#respond Tue, 09 Jan 2018 17:00:02 +0000 Tony Maglio and Jennifer Maas https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1779200 Hulu eclipsed 17 million total subscribers in 2017, the streaming service announced Tuesday. That’s five million more (+40 percent) total subscribers from its last publicly reported total in 2016.

The Netflix competitor also announced that its total audience has grown to 54 million total unique viewers.

“2017 was a momentous year for Hulu. We took several major steps to become a 21st century direct-to-consumer media company, evolving into both an aggressive SVOD business and a formidable new live TV provider,” said Hulu CEO Randy Freer. “The year ahead is going to be even bigger, as the company invests more in content – live, library and original – as well as technology and data to make Hulu the leading pay TV choice for consumers.”

Last year, Hulu expanded its on-demand library to more than 75,000 episodes of television across 1,700 titles. That’s more than twice the number of episodes available on any of the other leading streaming services, the company says.

Hulu added all existing episodes of more than 600 series, including “This is Us,” “Designated Survivor,” “Atlanta,” “Futurama,” “30 Rock,” “Black-ish,” “Lost,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “Will & Grace,” “Power,” “Golden Girls,” “Prison Break,” “Full House” and “Family Matters.”

Hulu’s offerings currently include its SVOD TV library (which the company says is the largest in the U.S.), its own original series, and the more than 50 top live channels in its Hulu With Live TV plan.

Hulu took home 10 Emmy Awards last fall, including the first-ever Outstanding Drama Emmy won by a streaming service for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and two Golden Globes on Sunday, including the award for Best Television Series – Drama (again, for “The Handmaid’s Tale”).

Here are more highlights from 2017 the company is celebrating:

• Consumers aren’t the only ones who love Hulu; brands love it as well. In 2017, Hulu’s advertising revenue reached $1 billion for the first time in the company’s history.

• Hulu viewers have a median age of 31 – nearly 25 years younger than the average broadcast TV viewer (55) – and a median annual household income of $92,000.

• Hulu With Live TV is already driving strong engagement with its combination of live, library and original content. In December, viewers who subscribe to Hulu With Live TV spent more time watching content per day than the average linear TV viewer.

• The top three dramas on Hulu in 2017, based on hours watched, were “Law & Order: SVU,” “This is Us” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

• The top three comedies on Hulu in 2017, based on hours watched, were “South Park,” “Family Guy” and “Bob’s Burgers.” Notably, “Seinfeld” also cracked the top 10–Hulu viewers watched more than 65 million hours of Seinfeld in 2017.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Runaways,' 'Future Man' Renewed for Second Seasons at Hulu

Golden Globes: Streaming Giants Hulu, Amazon, Netflix Clean up Top TV Awards

'Animaniacs': Hulu, Warner Bros. Partner on '90s Cartoon Reboot

Hulu Won't Morph Into Disney's New Streaming Service, Bob Iger Says

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Ex-Google Engineer Says Search Giant Has ‘Secret Blacklist’ to Bar Conservatives From Entry https://www.thewrap.com/google-secret-blacklist-conservative-right-wing-james-damore-alex-jones/ https://www.thewrap.com/google-secret-blacklist-conservative-right-wing-james-damore-alex-jones/#respond Mon, 08 Jan 2018 23:16:04 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1778407 Alex Jones isn’t welcome at Google’s headquarters, according to a new lawsuit.

Former Google engineer James Damore filed a class action lawsuit against the tech giant on Monday, saying the company discriminates against white male conservatives. That discrimination, according to the legal filing, impacts both employees and prominent right-wing voices that might visit Google.

In a subsection titled, “Google Maintains Secret Blacklists of Conservative Authors,” the lawsuit says conservative blogger Curtis Yarvin set off a “silent alarm” when he visited an employee at Google’s Silicon Valley office in 2016. (The lawsuit includes an internal email telling security to “please follow protocols based on the prescribed actions of this type of guest.”) The lawsuit says Infowars founder Alex Jones — known for widely disputed opinions like that the Sept. 11 terror attacks were an “inside job” — and alt-right scribe Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, are on the blacklist.

In Sept. 2016, an employee asked Google’s Human Resources department if the writers could be stricken from the no-access group, according to the lawsuit. “HR refused to help with the request, and instead, reconfigured the internal system so that it was no longer possible to see who was on the blacklist,” said the lawsuit.

“We look forward to defending against Mr. Damore’s lawsuit in court,” a Google spokesperson told TheWrap.

Damore suit says that right-wing personalities are subject to McCarthy-era tactics. In it, he says the “presence of Caucasians and males was mocked with ‘boos’ during companywide weekly meetings,” while female workers were celebrated “solely due to their gender.”

Damore was fired by the company in August after an internal memo of his, calling Google an “ideological echo chamber,” was widely circulated. In the memo, Damore argued the chasm between male and female engineers was due to women being biologically less inclined, on average, to pursue tech jobs than men.

“Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50 percent representation of women in tech and leadership,” said Damore in his memo.

In August, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said Damore peddled “harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” and was fired for violating the company’s code of conduct.

The lawsuit, filed by Dhillon Law Group, says the filing is on behalf of any Google employees who feels they’ve been targeted for their “perceived conservative political views by Google,” as well as “their male gender.” Damore says in the document that after his memo went public, he was subjected to “multiple threats and insults from coworkers.” He also says his peers were given bonuses for touting political views in-line with Google’s.

You can check out the full 161-page lawsuit here (the Alex Jones reference is on page 37).

Related stories from TheWrap:

Alex Jones Grills Amazon Alexa: 'Are You Connected to the CIA?' (Video)

Alex Jones Says He's in Contact With Secret Service Over Trump Assassination Plot

Alex Jones Sounds the Alarm on Liberal Brain-Eating Lesbians (Video)

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Ex-Google Employee James Damore Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Tech Giant https://www.thewrap.com/ex-google-employee-james-damore-files-class-action-lawsuit-against-tech-giant/ https://www.thewrap.com/ex-google-employee-james-damore-files-class-action-lawsuit-against-tech-giant/#respond Mon, 08 Jan 2018 19:55:09 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1778265 Former Google engineer James Damore — who caused a firestorm in August with a company-wide memo calling the tech giant an “ideological echo chamber”  — has filed a class action lawsuit against the company, claiming discrimination against white male conservatives.

Damore’s lawsuit says the “presence of Caucasians and males was mocked with ‘boos’ during companywide weekly meetings,” while female workers were celebrated “solely due to their gender.” He’s joined in the lawsuit by former Google engineer named David Gudeman, who worked for the company for three years. The lawsuit — filed in Santa Clara County in Northern California — is seeking monetary, non-monetary, and punitive damages.

“We look forward to defending against Mr. Damore’s lawsuit in court,” aGoogle spokesperson told TheWrap.

Damore was fired by the company in August after his internal paper widely circulated. In it, Damore argued the chasm between male and female engineers was due to women being biologically less inclined, on average, to pursue tech jobs than men.

“Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50 percent representation of women in tech and leadership,” said Damore in his memo.

In August, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said Damore peddled “harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” and was fired for violating the company’s code of conduct.

The lawsuit, filed by Dhillon Law Group, says it is on behalf of any Google employees who feel they’ve been targeted for their “perceived conservative political views by Google,” as well as “their male gender.” Damore says after his memo went public, he was subjected to “multiple threats and insults from coworkers.” He also says his peers were given bonuses for touting political views in-line with Google’s.

Damore adds Google implements “illegal hiring quotas to fill its desired percentages of women and favored minority candidates.” Managers that don’t meet their quotas are shamed, according to the lawsuit. This process, in the end, shows “male and Caucasian employees as less favored than others,” says Damore.

You can check out the full 161-page lawsuit here.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Eric Schmidt Stepping Down as Chairman of Google Parent Company, Alphabet

Facebook, Google, Twitter Grilled Over 2016 Election: 5 Takeaways From Congressional Hearing

Amazon Irked After Google Abruptly Pulls YouTube From Echo Show

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GoPro Cuts Hundreds of Jobs, Stock Falls 25 Percent https://www.thewrap.com/gopro-cuts-hundreds-of-jobs-stock-falls-25-percent/ https://www.thewrap.com/gopro-cuts-hundreds-of-jobs-stock-falls-25-percent/#respond Mon, 08 Jan 2018 16:08:47 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1777849 Shares of GoPro nosedived 25 percent on Monday morning after the portable camera company announced weak financial guidance, and that it’d be laying off at least 250 workers. The company was trading around $6 in early morning trading, after opening 2018 at $7.60 a share. Founder and CEO Nick Woodman said he’ll be slashing his cash compensation to $1 while the San Mateo, Calif.-based company gets its house in order.

“GoPro is committed to turning our business around in 2018,” said Woodman in a statement. “We entered the new year with strong sell-through and are excited with our hardware and software roadmap. We expect that going forward, our roadmap coupled with a lower operating expense model will enable GoPro to return to profitability and growth in the second half of 2018.”

GoPro said it expects $340 million in Q4 revenue — a slight $10 million bump from its previous quarter. The company also said it’ll be exiting the drone business, scrapping its “Karma” camera due to stiff competition in the space.

Its latest premium camera, Hero6 Black, had its price slashed from $499 to $399. The company — first launched in 2002 — briefly stopped trading on Monday morning after the intense dip. It’s been a rough few months — and years — for the camera maker: shares have fallen from about 50 percent since September and was trading north of $80 less than four years ago.

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Netflix Comes Out in Support for Net Neutrality, Tells FCC ‘We Will See You in Court’ https://www.thewrap.com/netflix-comes-out-in-support-for-net-neutrality-tells-fcc-we-will-see-you-in-court/ https://www.thewrap.com/netflix-comes-out-in-support-for-net-neutrality-tells-fcc-we-will-see-you-in-court/#respond Fri, 05 Jan 2018 20:04:15 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1774717 Netflix isn’t letting net neutrality go without a fight.

The streaming giant retweeted its support for the Internet Association’s Friday announcement it would “intervene in judicial action to preserve net neutrality protections.” The IA plans on pushing back against the FCC’s decision last month to pull back Obama-era regulations that blocked internet providers from blocking access to particular sites, as well as creating paid “fast lanes” to view content.

“In 2018, the Internet is united in defense of #NetNeutrality,” retweeted the Netflix account. “For the FCC, we will see you in court.”

In the retweeted announcement, IA President and CEO Michael Beckerman said the decision, spearheaded by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, hurts consumers and startups.

“The final version of Chairman Pai’s rule, as expected, dismantles popular net neutrality protections for consumers. This rule defies the will of a bipartisan majority of Americans and fails to preserve a free and open internet,” said Beckerman in the post. “IA intends to act as an intervenor in judicial action against this order and, along with our member companies, will continue our push to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality protections through a legislative solution.”

As The Atlantic pointed out, Netflix and its chief executive, Reed Hastings, have sent mixed signals on net neutrality in recent years. In a 2014 blog post, Hastings made the case for “strong net neutrality,” pushing back against “internet trolls” that threatened the internet’s standing as a “platform for progress.” (At the time, the streaming heavyweight had been jostling with Comcast — with Netflix ultimately agreeing to pay the company for “faster and more reliable access” to its customers.)
But as Netflix, behind shows like “Stranger Things” and “House of Cards,” continued to infiltrate homes across the globe, its tone changed. Hastings said net neutrality wasn’t the company’s “primary battle” last May, because the company was “big enough to get the deals we want.” Netflix’s support for the IA — which includes Amazon, Facebook, and Google among its members — indicates it sees the FCC’s decision as a battle worth fighting.

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Apple Says ‘Meltdown’ Flaw Could Expose Your Mac, iPhone to Hackers https://www.thewrap.com/meltdown-flaw-apple-intel-iphone/ https://www.thewrap.com/meltdown-flaw-apple-intel-iphone/#respond Fri, 05 Jan 2018 16:37:04 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1774487 Apple has acknowledged a flaw that could lead hackers to hit all iPhone and Mac devices.

The “Meltdown” and “Spectre” flaws were found in Intel chips earlier this week and could allow hackers to steal passwords other personal data, and is a problem for virtually all Apple customers, the company said on Thursday.

“All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time,” the company said in a statement. “Since exploiting many of these issues requires a malicious app to be loaded on your Mac or iOS device, we recommend downloading software only from trusted sources such as the App Store.”

On the bright side, the tech giant has “already released mitigations in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2 to help defend against Meltdown,” and a patch for Safari is on its way. And if you use Apple Watch, there’s no reason to panic — “Meltdown” has zero impact on your device.

The reason Apple uses the “mitigate” rather than “fix” was explained by Devin Coldewey at TechCrunch. “It’s because Meltdown and Spectre take advantage of computing practices so basic that avoiding them is extremely difficult and complex,” wrote Coldewey. “And new variants of attacks may very well circumvent the protections companies have put together during the last few months during which the exploits were kept secret. The mitigations and patches will probably multiply.”

The issue with Intel’s flaw is it weakens the barrier between your device and the programs it installs, allowing nefarious actors to spy on unsuspecting users. Apple said its updates will slow down browsers by “less than 2.5 percent,” and show no material impact on performance.

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Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Sells Stake in Company for $1.4 Billion https://www.thewrap.com/uber-travis-kalanick-sell-billion/ https://www.thewrap.com/uber-travis-kalanick-sell-billion/#respond Fri, 05 Jan 2018 16:08:17 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1774436 Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick is about to go from a billionaire on paper to a billionaire in real life.

Kalanick plans on selling 29 percent of his 10 percent stake in the company, as part of its recent deal with Softbank, netting the ex-exec about $1.4 billion, according to Bloomberg. He initially planned on selling half of his overall shares of the ride-sharing giant, according to the report.

A shareholder revolt forced Kalanick to resign last June, following an avalanche of negative press. A clip of Kalanick lecturing an Uber driver on “responsibility” went viral, followed by accusations of workplace sexual harassment, and a claim that the company looked at the medical records of an Uber rider who was raped in India. The hits continued after Kalanick left, with the news that the company covered up a hack of 57 million customers in 2016.

Without the scandals, Kalanick selling 29 percent would’ve been worth more than $1.4 billion. The company was once valued at $70 billion, but has been sliced to $48 billion, after Softbank and other investors bought 17.5 percent of Uber last month. Bloomberg reports this is the first time Kalanick sold shares in the company, which he launched in 2009.

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Forced to Resign

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Maverick Apparel Says YouTuber Logan Paul ‘Hijacked’ Its Clothing Brand https://www.thewrap.com/logan-paul-blasted-by-apparel-partner-repulsive-abhorrent-and-mutton-headed-conduct/ https://www.thewrap.com/logan-paul-blasted-by-apparel-partner-repulsive-abhorrent-and-mutton-headed-conduct/#respond Thu, 04 Jan 2018 19:06:11 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1773170 Maverick Apparel to Logan Paul: Get our name off your clothing.

In a letter obtained by TheWrap, lawyers for the New York-based fashion company blasted the 22-year-old YouTube star for his infamous “suicide forest” video depicting the body of a man who hanged himself from a tree in Japan.

And Maverick Apparel said Paul has “hijacked” the Maverick name with his own “Maverick by Logan Paul” clothing, which Maverick Apparel called “confusingly similar” to its own trademark. The company demanded he stop using the “Maverick” name for his own brand.

“Maverick Apparel did not cater for its name being hijacked, in full, by a vlogger catering to his evident lowest common denominator narcissism and who champions his scrotal injuries as a badge of pride in his quest of making an historical record of inanity,” the letter said.

“Over these past months, Maverick Apparel has noticed a rapid and significant decline in its sales, reputation and goodwill of the Maverick Apparel brand as a direct result of your repulsive, abhorrent and mutton-headed conduct,” continued the letter.

“In choosing to promulgate yourself and your maw-wallop across social media and champion yourself as an object of ridicule, hatred and contempt, you have simultaneously infected and injured the good name of Maverick Apparel.”

Reps for Paul did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Paul, a two-time 2017 Teen Choice Award winner, has come under intense fire this week after posting a video Sunday titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese suicide forest” that showed a corpse hanging from a tree in Aokigahara forest near Mt. Fuji.

He took down the clip a day later, when it had already garnered at least 6 million views, and has subsequently issued two apologies for the video. On Wednesday, he announced he was suspending his daily vlog posts indefinitely.

Related stories from TheWrap:

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Logan Paul Suspends YouTube Vlog After 'Suicide Forest' Firestorm: 'Taking Time to Reflect'

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Mark Zuckerberg’s Personal 2018 Challenge: Making Facebook Hospitable Again https://www.thewrap.com/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-new-year-challlenge/ https://www.thewrap.com/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-new-year-challlenge/#respond Thu, 04 Jan 2018 18:05:20 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1773078 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday his personal challenge for 2018 is to make your experience on the social network a lot less hate filled.

The 33-year-old exec took to his personal FB page and said his sights are set this year on fixing “important issues” that put the tech giant under the microscope last year. (He sets a personal challenge every year.)

“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do,” wrote Zuckerberg. “Whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”

Zuckerberg added the company “won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse,” but that the company currently makes “too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools.”

2017 was rough for Facebook. While the company enjoyed a banner year on Wall Street, with shares of FB stock climbing more than 50 percent, it struggled to grapple with the fallout from the 2016 U.S. election, when Russian trolls leveraged the social network to post fake stories and spread disinformation. After months of downplaying the scope of the issue, Facebook said more than 10 million Americans were hit by the bogus ads.

Zuckerberg’s 2018 personal challenge echoed comments he made last November. “Protecting our community is more important than maximizing profits,” said Zuckerberg. “I am dead serious about this.”

Facebook ran into other issues as well; its advertising business was criticized for allowing anti-semitic ads to go live, and former company VP Chamath Palihapitiya criticized social media giants like FB for “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”

This has become an increasingly common critique of Facebook — and one Zuckerberg appeared to acknowledge by saying he wants time on the site to be “well spent.”  Tristan Harris, an ex-Google employee that promotes “ethical” technology, has argued Facebook isn’t designed to promote healthy social interactions.

“Let’s ask: Why is Facebook promoting a comment box and Like button in the first place?,” Harris said in a Wired interview last July. “Were the designers thinking about what’s the best way for humankind to have conversations about controversial topics? No. They don’t get to ask that question. The only question they get to ask is, ‘What will get people to engage the most on the platform?'”

In past years, Zuckerberg has made his yearly goal to read more books or learn Mandarin. He compared 2018 to 2009, a year where Facebook needed to develop a path to profitability — and he wore a tie every day to remind him it was a “serious year.” Zuckerberg finished his post acknowledging the concentration of power in a select few big tech companies, and said he was interested in learning about “counter-trends” like encryption and cryptocurrency. You can read the full post from Zuckerberg below.

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Logan Paul Denounced by Japanese Suicide Prevention Group: ‘Totally Unacceptable’ https://www.thewrap.com/logan-paul-ova-group-denounces-suicide-video/ https://www.thewrap.com/logan-paul-ova-group-denounces-suicide-video/#respond Thu, 04 Jan 2018 16:59:30 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1773031 The public rebukes of Logan Paul continue to roll in, with Ova, a Japanese suicide prevention group, lambasting the YouTube sensation for his recent video that showed the dead body of a suicide victim.

“It is totally unacceptable to show someone who was driven to suicide as if it’s humorous content,” Jiro Ito, the head of Ova, told The Japan Times.

In the infamous video, now pulled from YouTube, Paul comes across a corpse hanging from a tree in Aokigahara forest — notorious for being a go-to spot for Japanese suicide victims. At one point, Paul yells, “Yo, are you alive?” at the body.

Ito said the clip ran afoul of how the World Health Organization recommends the media cover suicides, telling the newspaper Paul’s video “raises serious issues from the point of suicide prevention.”

The clip was immediately slammed across the internet. Paul posted an initial apology to Twitter on Monday evening, and followed it with a video mea culpa to his 15 million followers on Tuesday.

“I want to apologize to the internet, I want to apologize to anyone who’s seen the video, I want to apologize to anyone who has been affected or touched by mental illness or depression or suicide,” said Paul in the video. “But most importantly, I want to apologize to the victim, and his family.”

One crisis management expert told TheWrap Paul’s second apology would have been better if it had included a donation or shown support to a prominent anti-suicide program.

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Logan Paul Suspends YouTube Vlog After 'Suicide Forest' Firestorm: 'Taking Time to Reflect'

YouTuber Logan Paul Under Fire for Posting 'Sickening' Footage of Dead Body Hanging From Tree

YouTube TV Gets Apple TV App, at Long Last

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Cancels Next Week’s CES Appearance After Net Neutrality Rollback https://www.thewrap.com/ajit-pai-cancelled-ces-2018/ https://www.thewrap.com/ajit-pai-cancelled-ces-2018/#respond Wed, 03 Jan 2018 23:29:48 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1772423 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai won’t be taking a victory lap over pulling back net neutrality rules at the Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas, after all. Pai will not be attending the conference, according to a statement from Consumer Technology Association head Gary Shapiro on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend CES 2018,” said Shapiro. “We look forward to our next opportunity to host a technology policy discussion with him before a public audience.”

Shapiro didn’t say why his appearance had been cancelled. CTA did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Pai was slated for a “candid conversation” with FTC acting chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen, moderated by Shapiro. The panel was still being touted in CES emails as late as 5:20 pm ET on Wednesday. Pai had hit the conference five years running heading into 2018, which was going to be his first CES since being appointed chairman last year.

The former Verizon lawyer has been under the microscope since spearheading the repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules in December. The FCC’s decision, which one media expert dubbed a “big mistake” to TheWrap, allows internet giants to block or “throttle” access to certain sites — and create paid “fast lanes” — as long as they disclose it.

It’s not like Pai was going to face a grilling, though: Shapiro was in favor of axing the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality ruling because it threatened “to undermine innovation and competition in the Internet ecosystem.” Pai fanboys, if they’re out there, will have to wait until next year at the earliest for his CES return.

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‘Bright’ Day for Netflix: Streaming Powerhouse Hits All-Time High on Wall Street https://www.thewrap.com/bright-day-for-netflix-all-time-high-on-wall-street/ https://www.thewrap.com/bright-day-for-netflix-all-time-high-on-wall-street/#respond Wed, 03 Jan 2018 21:57:55 +0000 Sean Burch https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1772147 The holidays are over, but Netflix has given its shareholders a belated holiday gift, hitting a new all-time high of $205.05 per share as markets closed on Wednesday.

The streaming heavyweight climbed 2 percent on the day — carrying over momentum from Tuesday, when shares jumped nearly 5 percent from about $192 to more than $200. Coinciding with Netflix’s run was the company announcing it would bring back Will Smith for a sequel to the much loved, and loathed, original movie “Bright.” Director David Ayer will also return for the second sci-fi flick, which sports a 28 percent approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, juxtaposed against an 88 percent audience score.

But as the Wrap noted earlier, that dragging only seemed to make “Bright” shine more;  it’s the streaming service’s highest-viewed original film ever in its first week of release and one of the biggest originals (including sequels/additional seasons) Netflix has ever launched, the streaming service said.

Netflix had previously climbed above the $200 mark back in October, after Wall Street gave a thumbs up to the company raising its subscription prices. The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company had hit a swoon to close out 2017, falling to the mid-$180 price range. But with Netflix reporting earnings later in January, some investors still see room for it to run.

“We’re still very much in an uptrend,” Craig Johnson, chief market technician at Piper Jaffray, told CNBC on Wednesday. “We could see a measured move up to $230 on Netflix.”

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Dave Chappelle Fan Who Complained About Trans Jokes Rips ‘Equanimity': ‘Regressive and Cruel’ https://www.thewrap.com/dave-chappelle-fan-who-complained-about-trans-jokes-blasts-equanimity/ https://www.thewrap.com/dave-chappelle-fan-who-complained-about-trans-jokes-blasts-equanimity/#respond Wed, 03 Jan 2018 16:09:24 +0000 Daniel Kohn https://www.thewrap.com/?p=1771741 A Dave Chappelle fan who believes he was anonymously mentioned in the comedian’s latest standup special “Equanimity”  has written an open letter to express his disappointment.

In a Medium post, Tyler Foster writes that the comedian refers to a letter that Foster sent him, following a March 2016 performance which Foster says opened with 20 minutes of transphobic material. Foster said the material was “regressive, exclusionary, and cruel.”

In his latest special, Chappelle referenced a fan letter he received that made him “feel bad,” adding “I didn’t feel bad about what I said, you understand, I felt bad that I made someone else feel bad.” Chappelle said he wasn’t sure which joke upset him — “I have so many transgender jokes” — but that he had a hunch it was a bit about Caitlyn Jenner appearing nude in Sports Illustrated.

Foster isn’t positive it is his letter Chappelle is pointing to in “Equanimity,” but he did send one to the comedian in Portland — which Chappelle notes in the special. The fan says in the post he wasn’t thrilled his letter was used as a set-up for more trans jokes. Compounding the issue for Foster is that Chappelle mislabeled him as a transgender fan, when he says he’s a cisgender man with trans friends.

“Yet, the entire segment talking about the letter was, and remains, a long set up to more of his trans material,” wrote Foster. “Weirdly, the rewrite makes the bit even more dismissive, ignoring a complaint ostensibly from someone directly affected by the material rather than a bystander like myself.”

Handwritten note Foster received from Chappelle

Foster did include a handwritten response from Chappelle in his Medium post. “Your fan letter, and criticism were well received. I appreciate the benefit of the doubt,” responded the comedian. But the fan said in his Medium post he found the “Equanimity” jokes to be more offensive than the material that spurred his letter in the first place.

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