Category: Media

June 10, 2019 Off

WarnerMedia is making a ‘Dune’ series for its streaming service

By Jill T Frey

WarnerMedia has placed a straight-to-series order for “Dune: The Sisterhood,” a show based on Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novels and tied to the big-screen “Dune” adaptation coming from Warner Bros. next year.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film’s director Denis Villeneuve will also be helming the show’s pilot, which is being scripted by one of the movie’s writers, Jon Spaihts.

“Dune” tells the story of warring noble families against the backdrop of the desert planet Arrakis. Since its publication in 1965, it’s become one of the most famous science fiction novels of all time. It was eventually followed up by five sequels written by Herbert himself, as well as countless prequels and additional sequels from his son Brian and Kevin J. Anderson. It was also turned into a film directed by David Lynch — who was notoriously unhappy with the results — and later into a … Read the rest

June 9, 2019 Off

Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Always Be My Maybe’ is a surprisingly sweet romantic comedy

By Jill T Frey

“Always Be My Maybe” — a new film starring and co-written by Ali Wong and Randall Park — continues Netflix’s streak of solid romantic comedies.

That said, anyone expecting it to match Wong’s delightfully dirty stand-up (showcased in the Netflix specials “Baby Cobra” and “Hard Knock Wife”) might be disappointed. Instead, “Always Be My Maybe” feels like a throwback to ’90s romantic comedies; after all, Park and Wong have cited “When Marry Met Sally” and “Boomerang” as inspirations.

On this week’s episode of the Original Content podcast, we’re joined by Catherine Shu to review the film, which tells the story of Marcus (Park) and Sasha (Wong), two childhood friends who grow up together in the Bay Area, lose their virginity to each other and then drift apart — until they cross paths again in their 30s.

We didn’t all love the movie: Anthony, in particular, found some of the … Read the rest

June 8, 2019 Off

India’s largest video streaming service, owned by Disney, breaks Safari compatibility to fix security flaw

By Jill T Frey

Hotstar, India’s largest video streaming service with more than 300 million users, disabled support for Apple’s Safari web browser on Friday to mitigate a security flaw that allowed unauthorized usage of its platform, two sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The incident comes at a time when the streaming service — operated by Star India, part of 20th Century Fox that Disney acquired — enjoys peak attention as millions of people watch the ongoing ICC World Cup cricket tournament on its platform.

As users began to complain about not being able to use Hotstar on Safari, the company’s official support account asserted that “technical limitations” on Apple’s part were the bottleneck. “These limitations have been from Safari; there is very little we can do on this,” the account tweeted Friday evening.

Sources at Hotstar told TechCrunch that this was not an accurate description of the event. Instead, company’s engineers … Read the rest

June 8, 2019 Off

Maker Faire halts operations and lays off all staff

By Jill T Frey

Financial troubles have forced Maker Media, the company behind crafting publication MAKE: magazine as well as the science and art festival Maker Faire, to lay off its entire staff of 22 and pause all operations. TechCrunch was tipped off to Maker Media’s unfortunate situation which was then confirmed by the company’s founder and CEO Dale Dougherty.

For 15 years, MAKE: guided adults and children through step-by-step do-it-yourself crafting and science projects, and it was central to the maker movement. Since 2006, Maker Faire’s 200 owned and licensed events per year in over 40 countries let attendees wander amidst giant, inspiring art and engineering installations.

Maker Media Inc ceased operations this week and let go of all of its employees — about 22 employees” Dougherty tells TechCrunch. “I started this 15 years ago and it’s always been a struggle as a business to make this work. Print publishing … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Tackling ‘big tech’ issues through storytelling, with Jessica Powell

By Jill T Frey

Jessica Powell, Google’s former head of PR from 2012-2018 (years in which Google required a not-insignificant amount of PR leadership), is now a rock star writer whose 2018 debut book, The Big Disruption: A Totally Fictional But Essentially True Silicon Valley Story, was the first novel published by Medium.

I recently spoke with Powell for this series on the ethics of technology, because The Big Disruption, for all its manic energy and a playfulness at times bordering on sci-fi sitcom level-absurdity, should be viewed as a key work in the emerging field of tech ethics. In scenes like the one that begins below, her comic timing and characters help us see how “disruptive” technologies may not so much change humanity, as reveal it.

As a product manager, you are tasked with leading a team and bringing an idea to life. You are the visionary who must direct not

Read the rest
June 6, 2019 Off

Original Content podcast: Director Grant Sputore explains how ‘I Am Mother’ draws from real-world robots

By Jill T Frey

When I first watched the new Netflix Original film “I Am Mother,” I assumed that the robotic Mother (voiced by Rose Byrne) was a CG creation. How else could you create a robot that looked so inhuman, and that could also run around the film’s post-apocalyptic environments so gracefully?

But in a bonus interview for the Original Content podcast, director Grant Sputore estimated that 99 percent of the shots of Mother are completely practical, consisting of nothing more than a person wearing “a fancy bit of costume.”

“It’s both a budgetary thing, because we knew how we were planning to make the film — but also, we’re children of ‘80s and ‘90s cinema,” Sputore said. “So we worship at the altar of ‘Robocop’ and ‘Predator’ and the first ‘Terminator’ and ‘Jurassic Park’ and all of Stan Winston’s work, which is most of those movies … It’s for our own … Read the rest

June 6, 2019 Off

AT&T’s WarnerMedia might be punting on its original streaming service plans

By Jill T Frey

WarnerMedia’s plans for a three-tiered streaming service appear to be in flux. The AT&T-owned company is reportedly scrapping that idea and opting instead to offer HBO, Cinemax and the library of Warner Bros. content in a single subscription service that would cost between $16 and $17 a month, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources.

The service would first be offered as a beta product later this year and could be offered broadly as early as next March.

TechCrunch will update the article if WarnerMedia responds to a request for comment.

This latest development follows a number of changes over at WarnerMedia, including the departure of HBO CEO Richard Pleper and Turner president David Levy.

Former NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt has joined as chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer, putting him in charge of HBO, TBS, truTV and the WarnerMedia streaming service.

AT&T first opened up Read the rest

June 6, 2019 Off

Protecting the integrity of US elections will require a massive regulatory overhaul, academics say

By Jill T Frey

Ahead of the 2020 elections, former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos and his colleagues at Stanford University have unveiled a sweeping new plan to secure U.S. electoral infrastructure and combat foreign campaigns seeking to interfere in U.S. politics.

As the Mueller investigation into electoral interference made clear, foreign agents from Russia (and elsewhere) engaged in a strategic campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. elections. As the chief security officer of Facebook at the time, Stamos was both a witness to the influence campaign on social media and a key architect of the efforts to combat its spread.

Along with Michael McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia, and a host of other academics from Stanford, Stamos lays out a multi-pronged plan that incorporates securing U.S. voting systems, providing clearer guidelines for advertising and the operations of foreign media in the U.S. and integrating government action more closely with media and … Read the rest

June 6, 2019 Off

Every Final Fantasy soundtrack is now on Spotify and Apple Music

By Jill T Frey

Just in time for your road trip to LA for E3, Square Enix has suddenly made the soundtracks to every main Final Fantasy game available for free to listen to online. Just log into Spotify or Apple Music and search for “Final Fantasy original soundtrack.”

I just checked and Final Fantasies I-XV and some sub-sequels are all there, some in original and remastered versions, plus plenty of popular (or not) side titles like FF Tactics (come out on Switch already!) and Type-0. There’s even the soundtrack for the ill-considered 2001 movie, The Spirits Within.

No X-2, unfortunately for the few who liked that one (usually very intensely), and a few of the other non-main entries (like Tactics Advance and A2) are missing right now but perhaps only late to arrive. So it’s not every every Final Fantasy, but close enough that I don’t feel bad about putting it in the … Read the rest

June 5, 2019 Off

YouTube will let bigot monetize if he removes link to homophobic merch

By Jill T Frey

YouTube has made the weakest, least courageous response to mass backlash regarding its ruling yesterday that right-wing personality Steven Crowder’s racist and homophobic attacks on Vox video producer Carlos Maza didn’t violate its policies. Now YouTube says it’s demonetized Crowder’s channel because his “pattern of egregious actions has harmed the broader community” …but it will restore Crowder’s ability to earn a cut of YouTube ad revenue as long as he removes the link in his videos/channel to his offensive merchandise shop and fixes “all of the issues” with his channel. Specifically, Crowder’s shop sells [Warning: disturbing language not condoned by TechCrunch] “Socialism is for f*gs” t-shirts, baby onesies and beer-pong cups.

[Update: In the wake of this article and YouTube’s focus on his homophobic slur shirts, Crowder has removed the hateful merchandise from his store.]

The unwillingness to remove Crowder from YouTube counters the frequent calls by conservative politicians … Read the rest