Apple rebrands its London-based music festival, announces headliners including Pharrell & Disclosure

Posted in Music,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on August 21st, 2015

Since 2007, the iTunes Music Festival has attracted many talented and hugely popular musicians to its London venue including Adele, Beck, Coldplay, Elton John, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake, Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Muse, and Paul McCartney. For its ninth outing, Apple is rebranding it to give more exposure to its recently launched streaming music service. In September, the newly christened Apple Music Festival will headline 10 artists; so far, Pharrell Williams, One Direction, Florence + The Machine, and Disclosure are confirmed to perform live.

“We wanted to do something really special for music fans this year,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services in a press release. “The Apple Music Festival is a greatest hits set of ten unbelievable nights featuring some of the best performers on the planet appearing live and interacting directly with their fans on Connect and Beats 1.”

The festival will take place over ten nights from September 19-28 at London’s Roundhouse venue; each night is dedicated to a headliner and a special opening guest. As of today, only One Direction have selected its opening act–English girl group Little Mix. Tickets will be offered for free exclusively to London residents. If you’re Stateside or anywhere else around the world for that matter, you can still watch the concerts live via Apple Music (on an iOS device), iTunes (on PC and Mac) and Apple TV. In addition, Zane Lowe and his team of DJs on Beats 1 will air coverage from the festival, and participating performers will be posting backstage content on their Apple Music Connect pages.

Apple claims that iTunes Music Festival musicians have played in front of more than half a million fans and tens of millions more online and on-demand. With the proliferation of Apple Music subscribers (who’ll continue to use the streaming service for free until Sept. 30), I’ll bet that those numbers increase exponentially this fall when the Apple Music Festival jams out across iPhones, iPads, iPods, computers, and Apple TV.

What to watch this weekend: AMC’s ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ and Patrick Stewart in Starz’s ‘Blunt Talk’

Posted in Image cache,News,Television by Scott Meisner on August 21st, 2015

In TV Land, the people of Los Angeles have no idea what’s about to hit them. After years of tantalizing coverage, the time has finally come to sit back, relax tense up, and enjoy AMC’s Walking Dead companion series, Fear the Walking Dead.

Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead graphic novels and the incredibly popular AMC flagship series of the same name, is behind Fear and he’s joined by many familiar producers including Gale Anne Hurd, Dave Alpert, and Greg Nicotero. Fear stars Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Elizabeth Rodriquez, Lorenzo James Henrie, Ruben Blades, and Mercedes Mason.

This summer at San Diego Comic Con, I learned first-hand just how different the new series feels, tonally, in comparison to the flagship series. When the city gets ripped apart by freshly infected walkers, viewers will be privy to immediate government action and more significantly, we’ll witness a family unequipped for surviving the apocalypse approach the walkers head on. Fear‘s first season, after all, serves as a prequel for fans of the franchise in that events unfold before we meet Rick Grimes and his band of survivors. Remember how Rick was in a coma and missed out on the early days of the walker invasion? This is the period we will live in over the course of Fear‘s first six episodes.

As exhilarating and intriguing as it sounds to be privy to the virus spreading, EP David Erickson reminds viewers that the show will drill its focus on the family at the center of it all. “It starts as a family drama, and we filter the apocalypse through that,” he said to the crowd at Comic Con. It’s about “a highly dysfunctional blended family trying to hold it together.”

Never tuned into The Walking Dead, which enters its sixth season this fall? Fear not (heh!). Kirkman and his team have been adamant in saying that Fear stands on its own and does not require you having seen a single episode of their other series.

Fear the Walking Dead premieres Sunday, August 23 at 9pm on AMC. Click here to preview the first three minutes of the highly anticipated pilot episode. And here to watch the official trailer.

Jump after the break to learn more about Patrick Stewart’s return to TV in Blunt Talk. (Click here for more…)

Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords talks up movie & tour aspirations

Posted in Music,News,Television by Scott Meisner on August 21st, 2015

Everybody’s favorite parody folk duo, The Flight of the Conchords, is making a comeback. One half of said duo, namely Jemaine Clement, confirmed to Indiewire just last week that a movie is in the works.

“We have actually started writing one,” Clement shared. “But who knows if it will ever be made, we’ve written some notes for some different film ideas. We’re not down to the stage where we’re going, “The film is going to be like this,” it could be this, this, this, this, this.”

A movie, of course, would continue the musical adventures of Clement and Bret McKenize since they bowed out of the TV space in 2009 after two memorable seasons of Flight of the Conchords on HBO. Clement’s comments make it sound like the project is very much incubating in its early stages. It’s not clear if this will be a theatrical release or a TV special. But hey–any news from the FOTC guys is good news, am I right?!

And if that wasn’t enough to satiate your Conchords appetite, there’s this: the New Zealanders are prepping to tour again! In a separate interview with Consequence of Sound, Clement had this to say on the matter.

“We were planning on [touring] this summer, but then I ended up doing [Steven Spielberg’s next film] The BFG instead. So it’s my fault we didn’t do it this time. But we are hoping to announce a tour. We’ll announce it before the end of the year, hopefully, and then some time next year get on the road … after we get some new guitar strings and that sort of thing.”

Clement referenced going on tour earlier this year with Billboard. He told the site that he and McKenzie “are planning on touring later on in the year in the States. It isn’t very solid yet, but we’ve been talking about it.” He went on to admit, “I really don’t like the studio part of music. I more enjoy playing live and letting others take care of the recording.”

A movie and tour. It’s an exciting time to be a Conchords fan. When details drop, you’ll be the first to know. For now, let’s boogie.

The first ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ teasers have arrived

Posted in Television,Uncategorized,Video by Scott Meisner on August 21st, 2015

Here we go again. FX is back with new, frightening teasers to promote the upcoming season of American Horror Story. The fourth season is subtitled Hotel and it stars Lady Gaga this time around, not Jessica Lange. The video embedded above houses the two new teasers titled “Do Not Disturb” and “Beauty Rest.” It’s hard to say if any of the characters featured here will show up in Hotel, but those razor-sharp nails strangling the beautified bald man look mighty familiar if you ask me. The featured song? That’s Heidi Feek’s cover of “Heartbreak Hotel.”

Returning to the anthology drama this year: Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Evan Peters, Matt Bomer, Sarah Paulson, Chloë Sevigny, Denis O’Hare, Finn Wittrock, Lily Rabe, Emma Roberts, and Mare Winningham. Newcomers include Cheyenne Jackson (Glee), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Richard T. Jones (Hawaii Five-0), Naomi Campbell (Empire), and Darren Criss (Glee).

American Horror Story: Hotel debuts October 7 on FX. Stick it here for more teasers like these; if the past is any indication, this small trickle will open the floodgates to more tantalizing sneak peeks. (Click here for more…)

‘Star Wars’ @ D23: ‘Rogue One’ cast, ‘Episode IX’ director, theme park lands, ‘Force Awakens’ poster & more!

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott Meisner on August 15th, 2015

This weekend, Disney hosted its fourth D23 Expo in Anaheim, California celebrating all things Disney, Pixar, and the like. Saturday was dedicated to Star Wars and man oh man were fans in for a treat. With The Force Awakens opening this holiday season, Disney and Lucasfilm are ramping up anticipation for the massive return to George Lucas’ timeless creation. At D23, many exciting announcements were made regarding Rogue OneEpisode IX, and new theme park attractions.

It’s all packed inside, so what are you waiting for? Dive in! (Click here for more…)

Oh, what a lovely mashup: ‘Adventure Time’ meets ‘Mad Max’

Posted in Entertainment,Movies,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on August 15th, 2015

If you’re a fan of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time and the post-apocalyptic flick Mad Max: Fury Road, you best watch this viral mashup. Animator Egor Zhgun, inspired by Ryan May’s artwork, wonderfully combines the characters and animation style of Adventure Time with the chaotic nature from Fury Road. The result is “Madventure Time” starring Finn the Human as Max, Jake the Dog as his getaway vehicle, The Ice King as Immortan Joe, and Marceline the Vampire Queen appropriately rocks out as The Doof Warrior. Other beings from the Land of Ooo, including Princesses and such, make cameos and it all just works so well. Enjoy!

The Muppets meet the faces of ABC primetime ahead of their series launch

Posted in Hilarity,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on August 15th, 2015

It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights…

The Muppets are coming to ABC this fall and the Alphabet Network’s celebrating by pairing them up familiar faces from the primetime stable including Kerry Washington (Scandal), Nathan Fillion (Castle), and Patricia Heaton (The Middle). All three 30-second spots are entertaining and worth a watch if you’re anticipating the arrival of Kermit and friends. The one with Washington hangs above; the other two are embedded after the break.

The Muppets premieres September 22 on ABC. Watch an extended preview here. (Click here for more…)

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‘Sesame Street’ relocates to HBO

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on August 15th, 2015

Here’s something you may not have seen coming: Sesame Street, the long-running education children’s series, is moving from the independently operated non-profit organization PBS to premium cable network HBO. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? HBO is home to some truly groundbreaking series, nearly all of which are adult-themed and not suitable for children (read: Game of ThronesThe Sopranos). So why bring Bird Bird and friends into the fold? For Sesame Workshop, it’s simple: the company’s been running out of funds to continue producing episodes of the show and a partnership such as this was the only way to keep things going. It’s mutually beneficial when you really think about it. HBO is now in direct competition with Netflix and Amazon, and the streaming services have been offering content for kids for years now. By becoming the new, exclusive home for the still hugely popular Sesame Street, HBO firmly plants a stake in reaching a young demographic.

The partnership doesn’t end there. HBO is a premium service after all and requires a monthly subscription. Those families who don’t pay up shouldn’t fret; your children won’t be deprived of learning everything that Sesame Street teaches. The new episodes that air on HBO will eventually come to PBS after a nine-month exclusivity window. The deal allows Sesame Workshop to “produce almost twice as much new content as previous seasons” and later “make the show available free of charge to PBS and its member stations,” according to a press release. This pact will run through the next five seasons of the series.

“Our new partnership with HBO represents a true winning public-private partnership model,” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, Sesame Workshop’s CEO in the release. “It provides Sesame Workshop with the critical funding it needs to be able to continue production of Sesame Street and secure its nonprofit mission of helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder; it gives HBO exclusive pay cable and SVOD access to the nation’s most important and historic educational programming; and it allows Sesame Street to continue to air on PBS and reach all children, as it has for the past 45 years.”

“We are absolutely thrilled to help secure the future of Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop’s mission for the nation’s kids and families,” said HBO execs Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo. “Home Box Office is committed to bringing the most groundbreaking and creative shows to its audience. Sesame Street is the most important preschool education program in the history of television. We are delighted to be a home for this extraordinary show, helping Sesame Street expand and build its franchise.”

Sesame Street will air new episodes on HBO as early as late fall 2015. HBO has licensed over 150 library episodes of the series in addition to about 50 past episodes of Sesame Workshop’s other children’s series Pinky Dinky Doo and The Electric Company. Additionally, the Workshop is also working with HBO on producing two new series, one of which is a Sesame Street Muppet spinoff.

This news makes this Sesame Street/Game of Thrones mashup all the more sweeter.

[Via Sesame Workshop]

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“G is for Google,” says Alphabet in company restructuring

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on August 10th, 2015

Google is now just a letter of the Alphabet. Let me explain…

In a letter to investors and the public at large, Google co-founder Larry Page made a major announcement about his company. Which is no longer called Google, it’s called Alphabet. But don’t worry! Google is still a thing–one of the world’s biggest, most recognizable brands, of course–and you won’t have tell your brain to “Alphabet” keywords. What’s happening is that Google is becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet. In other words, Alphabet is a big umbrella that houses Google and many other current and future innovations from Page and other Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google,” says Page in his letter. “This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products contained in Alphabet instead.”

Page doesn’t break down all of Alphabet’s subsidiaries in the note, but he gives honorable mentions to “Life Sciences (that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens), and Calico (focused on longevity).” Alphabet also includes “X lab, which incubates new efforts like Wing, our drone delivery effort. We are also stoked about growing our investment arms, Ventures and Capital, as part of this new structure.”

All in all, Page thinks that such segregation will offer his team “more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.”

He goes on to lay the groundwork for how Alphabet will be structured. Page is CEO, Brin is President, and CEOs will be picked to run each business, with the Google co-founders “in service to them as needed.” So far, they’ve appointed Google’s SVP of Products Sundar Pichai to be the CEO of Google. They also note that unlike Google, they “are not intending for [Alphabet] to be a big consumer brand with related products–the whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands.” Like Google!

Page and Brin will implement segment reporting when fourth quarter financial reports come out; this means that Google financials will be reported separately from other Alphabet businesses. As far as the stock market is concerned, Google will continue to trade on Nasdaq as GOOGL and GOOG. In related news, the market responded positively to this announcement; Google shares were up around five percent after-hours on the day Page posted the letter, and the next day shares increased by another four-and-a-half percent.

Why Alphabet? I’ll let Page explain: “We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!”

In the beginning (circa 1997), Google was simply a search engine. Today, it has sprouted myriad limbs: Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome, Android, and so on. From the desktop to mobile, Google’s services have matured and spread to help people quickly look up information, watch and share video, navigate the world, and communicate with one another. These are all things that Page says “seemed crazy at the time” of their inception. “We are still trying to do things other people think are crazy but we are super excited about,” he continues and this is where Alphabet comes in. It didn’t take long for Google the company to outgrow its roots in search. Alphabet allows Google to continue to grow and breath, while other teams continue developing other innovations such as self-driving cars and the aforementioned delivery drones. The shift to Alphabet and Alphabet-owned subsidiaries won’t affect consumers (at least initially); what it will do, however, is make Google a stronger brand to live amongst a flock of more to come.

Whether or not this turns out to be a good idea in the long-run, Page is confident that the unconventional decision will drive his company to do better today. “We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”

[Via Google]

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HBO teases Bad Robot’s first foray into premium cable, the android-inhabited ‘Westworld’

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on August 9th, 2015

HBO aired the first teaser for Westworld during tonight’s telecast of the True Detective finale. Stretch your mind back to September 2013; that’s when J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest) received a pilot production commitment from the premium cable network to adapt Westworld, a sci-fi western mashup based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 film. The logline remains: “Set in the amazing world dreamt up by Michael Crichton, Westworld is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.”

This 30-second clip sets the scene quite powerfully. Westworld the movie took place at a Western-themed amusement park rampant with androids who appeared nearly indistinguishable from humans. It looks like the TV series is going in a similar direction–Evan Rachel Wood’s android could’ve fooled me!

The all-star ensemble cast also includes Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Ben Barnes, Jimmi Simpson, Clifton Collins, Jr., Simon Quarterman, and Angela Sarafyan.

Nolan directs the pilot and co-writes with Lisa Joy (Burn Notice). They executive produce with the team at Bad Robot (including Abrams and Bryan Burk) and Jerry Weintraub.

Westworld premieres in 2016 on HBO. Cannot wait. (Click here for more…)

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Netflix renews ‘Sense8′ for a second season

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on August 9th, 2015

Calling all sensates! Netflix has renewed its sci-fi-tastic series Sense8. The highly innovative and admittedly addicting and adrenaline-pumping show about eight people inextricably linked by a special mental bond is coming back for a second season.

With Sense8, The Wachowskis brought to TV the awesome sci-fi and physical combat elements they are best known for (see: The Matrix TrilogyCloud AtlasJupiter Ascending). As fun as those genre elements can be, the filmmakers go above and beyond the expected in Sense8, which really plays out like 12 mini-movies. Each installment–and the series in general–manages to transcend its sci-fi mythology and focus on the even more intriguing and captivating thing going on all along; using a sci-fi lens, Sense8 prioritizes human connection and celebrates the human condition. The first season spans the globe, connecting and exploring the lives of complex characters you quickly come to care about. The season closes like the chapter of a book ends: wholly satisfying with sequel potential bursting at the seams. The initial run of episodes spends lots of time world-building and shaping the sensates. A second season is bound to dive deeper into the mostly unexplored mythos (Hello, Mr. Whispers) and bring together our favorite sensate cluster with a renewed sense of vigor and understanding.

A lacking pilot and pacing issues aside, I highly recommend you binge Sense8 if you haven’t already. It starts slow, but when it gets going (around episodes 3 and 4) there’s no stopping this freight train of pure, unadulterated fun.

To officially commemorate the renewal, Netflix posted this minute-long clip featuring the main cast spreading the good news.

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Louis C.K. lets fans set the price for his new comedy special (Also: FX discusses ‘Louie’s future)

Posted in Entertainment,News,Television by Scott Meisner on August 9th, 2015

Louis C.K. is back with a new comedy special release, Live at Madison Square Garden. As always, Louie is self-distributing it on his website, Typically, Louie charges five bucks for fans to download and save his audio and video comedy specials in popular file formats. This time around, though, he’s playing around with his groundbreaking and fool-proof system: he’s letting you decide how much you want to pay for it. The default price is set at $5, but you can lower that to a buck or raise it all the way to $85–it’s completely up to you. In the past, Louie’s made his specials cheap to get online to curb pirating. Wondering why he makes the barrier to entry even lower for the MSG special?

On his site Louie writes, “Price: so I didn’t know what to charge for this because a lot of the material was on my Comedy Store special and it was hard to get good sound because comedy is intimate and MSG is large, so there’s a lot of sound slapping around everywhere though the sound engineer and the mixer did their level best. So we have the price set to 5 dollars but you can lower it to 1 dollar or raise it to 85. that’s the maximum, because beyond that, I don’t want your crazy money. Not for this show.”

The comedian even went on The Daily Show last week (on Jon Stewart’s penultimate episode) to tell fans not to buy it in classic Louie self-deprecating humor. “It didn’t seem fair to really sell it,” he semi-jokingly told Stewart.

Repeated material and fuzzy mixing aside, Live at Madison Square Garden does contain new jokes, and if you’re into Louie’s smart, dirty humor then giving away a lousy buck to hear them sounds more than fair to me.

Jump after the break to learn the future of Louie’s FX original series. (Click here for more…)

The brothers are back in ‘Prison Break’ event series at FOX

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on August 6th, 2015

Prison Break, the thrilling, edge-of-your-seat drama that ran from 2005-09, is making a comeback. Fox heads Dana Walden and Gary Newman made the announcement at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills this week. It will return to FOX as a 10-episode event series, just as 24 did with Live Another Day back in January. Plot-wise, information is scarce. All we know for now is that Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell are reprising their roles as brothers Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows, and series creator Paul Scheuring is back at the helm.

“I would describe it as a bit of a sequel, it picks up the characters several years after we left them in the last season of the show,” said Walden. “The brothers will be back. Some of the iconic characters from that show will be back. It definitely will address some questions that were set up at the end of the series and for a new audience. It’ll start after where we left the [brothers] in the final season.”

Spoilers follow. If you recall, prison breaker Michael Scofield perished in the series finale, “Killing Your Number.” He inherited a brain tumor that caused nasty nosebleeds from his mother, and despite receiving surgery from Big Bad General Jonathan Krantz (aka Pad Man) on The Company’s dime, the series flashed forward in its concluding sequence to Michael’s grave. Now, if you’re a true Prison Break fan, who know that there’s more to the story here. In the straight-to-DVD special Prison Break: The Final Break, it is revealed that Michael’s tumor was not the cause of his premature death. He actually ends up sacrificing himself (by way of electrocution) when he’s helping his wife Sara Tancredi escape prison.

Side note: If you haven’t watched The Final Break, I highly recommend you check it out. Though “Killing Your Number” did a fine job ending the series, The Final Break (which is two episodes tacked together: “The Old Ball and Chain” and “Free”) smooths some of the rough edges out by filling in many of the blanks left unanswered in the FOX-aired finale. Plus, you get to witness Michael and his merry band of escape artists execute yet another thrilling prison break.

Side note #2: In 2007, there were whispers about a spinoff called Prison Break: Cherry Hill following a character named Molly and bringing the action to a female prison. Though that never came to fruition, producers managed to explore the concept in The Final Break as Sara finds herself in a prison that immediately gives off Litchfield vibes. In fact, Lori Petty of Orange is the New Black guest stars as an intimidating presence in the special. Looking back, it’s sort of eerie, isn’t it? Side notes, concluded.

So! How in the world is Michael Scofield back in the game for the upcoming Prison Break event series if he’s dead? Fox wouldn’t spill the plan, but the network says that Scheuring will figure a way around it.

“I don’t think [Sheuring’s] going to completely ignore what happened in [The Final Break], but what he pitched to us was a very logical and believable explanation in the world of Prison Break for why our characters are alive and still moving around the world,” said Walden. “For Paul, this is an opportunity to tell a story about these characters that he created. I would say to those fans that this is the pure vision of the creator of the show and it’s going to take a detour a little bit from where we left off, but it should feel very satisfying and eventized. I think that fans will be excited about seeing these characters back together again.”

In an interview with TVLine, star Dominic Purcell also reassures fans that all will be explained and make sense. “The thing that I have heard is completely brilliant, so people will be fine.”

In terms of who’s back for the ride outside of the brothers–there is but one that Walden mentions and he’s most definitely a fan favorite. “I’m very excited about T-Bag,” she said. Sounds like Robert Knepper will step back into the slimy shoes of Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell. This marks the second time Knepper is bringing the wickedly fun inmate back to TV outside of Prison Break‘s original run. In 2011, T-Bag appeared in an episode of A&E’s Breakout Kings, a short-lived series executive produced by Prison Break EP Nick Santora. Are you excited for more of the one-handed, conniving slime ball? Hm, Pretty?

If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m a massive fan of this series. Prison Break will forever remain a seminal show for me–it was on during the days of 24 and Lost, when serialized stories ruled broadcast primetime and I was clinging onto them and discovering that this was my kind of TV. Though it wasn’t the type of show that won accolades for its vision and ensemble cast, it holds a special place in my heart for sweeping me off my feet and making me fall deep, down into the rabbit hole that is TV land. Its highly serialized nature, pulse-pounding cliffhangers and fun twists and turns hooked me from the start. It had its creative ups and downs (the season one “breakout” finale and the Sona season, respectively), but in the end it cultivated defined and well-rounded characters you cared about and I walked away from the final episode satisfied.

And now there’s more on the way and I couldn’t be more excited. At the Winter TCAs, Newman called it “the perfect event series” and I couldn’t agree more. With a limited 10-episode run, Prison Break can tell one of its classic, exhilarating stories without fluff or pause in the action. With Scheuring in the driver’s seat–who’s currently penning the premiere and plotting the series bible–I am completely confident that Michael and company will return in full form, ready to remind me where my love for TV all began.

[Via EW; Deadline; TVLine]

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See an actual Hoverboard in action, powered by Lexus, liquid nitrogen & magnets

Posted in Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on August 5th, 2015

It only makes sense that a company finally produces a functioning hoverboard in 2015, the same year that Marty McFly discovers one in Back to the Future Part II. Would you ever guess that it’d be Lexus, the Toyota-owned luxury car maker, to pull it off? Well, they did it, and you watch the Lexus Hoverboard in action above.

Pretty cool, huh? Dying to look “under the hood?” Let’s. First off, I don’t want to get your hopes up, if I haven’t already. Lexus’ hoverboard was made specifically for its “Amazing in Motion” marketing campaign; it is not being mass-produced and you won’t get the chance to buy–let alone ride–one. With that out of the way, it’s time to expose the magic that makes it work.

Lexus and a crack team of scientists specializing in magnetic levitation technology figured out the impossible using liquid nitrogen and magnets. The puffs of smoke emitting from the natural bamboo board? That’s liquid nitrogen and it’s required to keep the board cool during use. The board houses two cryostats, reservoirs which contain superconducting material kept at -197°C through immersion in liquid nitrogen. The hoverboard’s biggest caveat: it cannot be used anywhere you like. It requires precisely placed magnets beneath it in order to float in the air (and even above water). To shoot this innovative commercial, Lexus constructed a “hoverpark” near Barcelona, Spain. To the layman it would appear to be a standard skatepark, but lying beneath the surface is around 200 meters of magnetic track. When the board is placed above the track and cooled to its operating temperature, “the track’s magnetic flux lines are pinned into place, maintaining the hover height of the board,” explains the car company.

“The magnetic field from the track is effectively ‘frozen’ into the superconductors in the board, maintaining the distance between the board and track – essentially keeping the board in a hover. The force is strong enough that the rider can stand and even jump on the board,” says Dr. Oliver de Hass, one of the scientists who worked on Lexus’ innovation. Click here to learn more about how it was made.

Skateboard Ross McGouran is the featured rider in the astonishing clip. “Everything I knew about skating went out the window,” he said about getting acclimated to the hoverboard. “I’ve spent 20 years skateboarding, but without friction it feels like I’ve had to learn a whole new skill, particularly in the stance and balance you need to ride the hoverboard.” There’s a lot of stumbling going on in the video, but in the few instances where McGouran maintains control, the Lexus Hoverboard wows.

We’re a mere two months out from the October date that Marty visits in BTTF2, and at this rate it’s hard to imagine we’ll all be riding hoverboards from Mattel Lexus anytime soon. Still, we should take solace in the mere fact that companies are attempting and even succeeding at making the tech come alive. Where we’re going, we don’t need roads–we need magnets. Bitch.

[Via Lexus 1, 2] (Click here for more…)

Microsoft dominates gamescom in Germany with Xbox One games lineup, software enhancements & welcome hardware additions

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on August 5th, 2015

This week Microsoft took over gamescom, the world’s biggest video games expo (even better than E3!) in Cologne, Germany. The Xbox maker hosted a media briefing, while the competition–namely, Sony and Nintendo–sat on the sidelines this go-around. The briefing played mostly like a reiteration of Microsoft’s E3 presentation, highlighting Xbox’s “greatest games lineup in history.” Numerous upcoming titles were previewed. Among the most prominent are these Xbox One exclusives: Remedy Games’ Quantum Leap, a “cinematic, story-driven action game” with a live action show baked inside is to Xbox One on April 5, 2016. Actors Shawn Ashmore (X-MenThe Following), Dominic Monaghan (Lost), Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones), and Lance Reddick (Fringe) are among the talent lending their likeness to the game. ReAgent’s cooking up Crackdown 3, the next installment in the third-person open world shooter, and it lands on Xbox One in summer 2016. It supports a 4-person co-operative campaign mode. Befriend a dragon in PlatinumGames’ Scalebound, an action-adventure RPG from renowned game director Hideki Kamiya, coming fall 2016. Killer Instinct Season 3 arrives in March with cross-platform functionality across Xbox One and Windows 10. From Mojang (the makers of Mincraft) and Oxeye Game Studio comes Cobalt, a new 2D platformer with multiplayer support. This one is coming to Xbox One and the 360 in October; the alpha version is out now for PC and Mac today. KickStarted game We Happy Few, from Compulsion Games, is a first-person stealth game that looks to be as unsettling as it does fun; it’s due out sometime next year for Xbox One and Windows 10. Halo Wars 2, from 343 Industries and Creative Assembly (Total WarAlien: Isolation), capped the briefing and received big applause from the press in the audience. The sequel to the 2009 real-time strategy game is coming to Xbox One and Windows 10 in fall 2016.

For more from Xbox at gamescom, including software updates and new hardware announcements, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)

Marvel ditches fourth wall: ‘Deadpool’ is coming [Update: Red-band trailer is here]

Posted in Movies,Video by Scott Meisner on August 3rd, 2015

Update (8/4): Here’s the Deadpool red-band trailer, right on schedule. Without giving anything away, I’m just going to say that this is the Deadpool fans have been clamoring for (read: incredibly funny & incredibly violent) and Ryan Reynolds delivers. Interested in watching the more “family-friendly” version of the trailer? Click here; don’t miss Deadpool’s tag at the end of it! Yesterday’s trailer teaser has been pushed below the fold.

Previous: The Merc with the Mouth is ready to play. In typical Deadpool fashion, 20th Century Fox has released a teaser teasing a theatrical trailer due to drop tomorrow. In it, star Ryan Reynolds sits menacingly in the shadows, putting on his best Don LaFontaine impersonation and poking fun at the studio that “sewed [his character’s] f**king mouth shut the first time.” Reynolds, of course, is referring to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the movie in which Deadpool received screen time with Hugh Jackman’s alter ego but wasn’t afforded the opportunity to fully realize the character. In the upcoming Deadpool, due out in 2016, a deserved redo is in order.

For the uninitiated, Deadpool is yet another character from Marvel’s playpen of superheroes, but he’s starkly different from the rest in that he’s a breaker of the fourth wall. Across comic books, video games, and movies, Deadpool is aware of the medium he’s placed in. At the end of this teaser, Reynolds-as-Deadpool says, “Get ready to blow out your collective sphincters cuz my trailer is coming…tomorrow.” This isn’t simply a tongue-in-cheek trick; this is specifically how Deadpool operates and it’s sure to make the movie weird in all the right ways. Oh, and that’s also why he’s oft-referred to as “The Merc with the Mouth”–he’s got a dirty mouth and he’s not afraid to use it. Deadpool is rated-R, allowing the unfiltered, comic book version of the character to really come alive.

When the red-band trailer releases tomorrow, I’ll be sure to amend this post accordingly. Reynolds is sharing it on Conan Tuesday night, and a lighter green-band version will play in front of Fantastic Four in theatres at the end of the week.

Deadpool also stars Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, and Brianna Hildebrand, and it’s directed by visual effects artist Tim Miller. Due out February 12, 2016. (Click here for more…)

Kid Cudi drops guitar-infused single ‘Confused” off his next album ‘Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven’

Posted in Audio,Music,News by Scott Meisner on August 1st, 2015

It’s been a minute since Kid Cudi shared new music with his cult following. It happened back in early March when he dropped the Ratatat-sampled “love.,” a track that was left on the cutting room floor during the making of his third studio album Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon.

Late last night, Cudder made his comeback by releasing the first official single off Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven, his next album. “Confused” is produced by Cudi and features guitar and bass instruments played by the artist. “Who am I? / Who are we? / Confused, truth is what I choose / Heal I never do,” he croons on top of a grungy beat.

What makes Cudi such a refreshingly unique player in the hip-hop community is that he’s bold enough to reinvent himself on a whim. The third and final installment in his Man on the Moon trilogy is still in the works, and in the meantime he’s been experimenting with a more rock-n-roll vibe, plucking his guitar and traversing in and out genres. It’s hard to call him a rapper these days–Cudi simply cannot be cornered into a single definition. Whether or not you enjoy the deviating paths he’s taken to get here, you’d be remiss not to applaud his resilience to be different.

In a series of tweets from early July, Cudi expressed that “This album is 100% the purest form of my artistic self” and “I’ve ripped my heart out and carved it into tiny pieces of musical madness.” He confirmed that “There are no synths or electronic sounds” on Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven and that it will “consist of all guitar and bass played by myself.” Though the album’s release date has yet to be solidified, Cudi said that it was “98% finished” on the 4th of July. Stay tuned!

“Confused” is streaming on SoundCloud. Thoughts?

Derek Zoolander is back on the scene, has difficulty with sequel’s title in new teaser

Posted in Movies,Video by Scott Meisner on August 1st, 2015

I went to see the new Mission: Impossible this weekend (it was good, not great), and prior to the movie, a trailer pondering the origins of the universe and the human species started to play. I gripped my seat tight in anticipation of what was unfolding. A robotic narrator (I was thinking Stephen Hawking at the time) talks up the big bang and how it led to life on Earth. Suddenly the clip torpedoes you into a human brain, and that’s when things take a turn for the comedic and I started to wonder what’s going on here? 3+4=34…E=mc(hammer)…the definition of the word “Eugoogly”…a don’t-turn-left sign…neon blowdryers and an orange mocha frappuccino…cameras and mermans…it’s all starting to make sense now. Hawking poses: “The one question that has puzzled mankind since the beginning of time?”

“If God exists, then why did he make ugly people?” submits Ben Stiller as dim-witted male model Derek Zoolander. That’s right–all along this was the first teaser trailer for the hotly anticipated Zoolander sequel. Is it 2oolander, or Zoolander II? The teaser has fun with all that towards the end.

I’m not so sure that the teaser lives up to the hysterical unveiling of the sequel during Paris Fashion Week when Stiller and co-star Owen Wilson crashed the runway in character. Though I will say, going into this at the theatre thinking it was a first-look at a new sci-fi flick and then seeing it spin into Zoolander was quite the treat.

Stiller directs a script penned by Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder). Will Ferrell and Christine Taylor reprise their roles from the 2001 original, and joining them are Penelope Cruz and Kristen Wiig. Lots of fun cameos are expected.

2oolander (yeah, I’m sticking with that) hits theatres February 12, 2016. (Click here for more…)

AMC wants more Synth action, renews ‘Humans'; FX cans Billy Crystal’s ‘The Comedians’

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on August 1st, 2015

A satisfying renewal and a sour cancellation have taken place this summer. Good news first. AMC, and its international production partners Channel 4 and Kudos, has greenlit a second season of Humans. The show about people cohabitating with androids (or Synths) will return for an eight-episode second season next year.

“We’re so pleased to announce a second season of Humans,” AMC & Sundance TV original programming president Joel Stillerman said in a statement. “As one of the year’s top new cable series, Humans has been embraced by fans and critics across the U.S. and UK. We’re looking forward to continuing this very captivating story and further exploring the show’s parallel, Synth-filled world that hits so disturbingly close to home.”

It didn’t take long for Humans to strike a chord with viewers, myself included. The series takes place in a future that doesn’t seem like it’s that far away from now. How would your family react to an extremely life-like robot taking up space in your home? Humans works because it tells a tantalizingly grounded story that is inherently complex as it is relatable. It asks lofty questions about what it means to be alive and conscious, and it does with with a lineup of unabashedly good-looking Synths. Leading the pack is family servant Anita, played to perfection by Gemma Chan. Her robotic nature in tandem with her spurts of humanity lend to a captivating performance.

AMC airs the Humans first season finale this Sunday, Aug. 2 at 9pm.

Getting the axe is FX freshman comedy The Comedians starring veteran Billy Crystal and the rising Josh Gad. EP Ben Wexler made the news official in a tweet: “#TheComedians is cancelled at FX. I could not be more proud of the work we all did.”

I happened to enjoy watching Crystal and Gad play TV versions of themselves. Also, having worked in TV production, pretty much all of the scenes that took place in the production offices (including the writers’ room, the break room, etc.) were flat-out riots. In addition to being funny, The Comedians eventually slid into a particular groove of matching the laughs with heart. Crystal turned out to be a solid mentor for Gad, the young and in comparison inexperienced comic. If there’s anything to take away from the first and only season of this series, though, it’s that Stephanie Weir is a comedic force to be reckoned with, and she deserves more time in the spotlight. The Mad TV alum was featured in some outrageously funny sequences here, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the origin of everything in eight minutes

Posted in Education,Video by Scott Meisner on July 27th, 2015

Via Cosmos and StarTalk, renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is able to wonderfully articulate the wildly compelling complexities of the universe. This month, YouTube channel MinutePhysics got Dr. Tyson to narrate in his trancing voice “A Brief History of Everything,” an 8-minute condensed tale of the universe from conception to modern day. The clip, embedded above for your viewing pleasure, is nothing short of fascinating. NDT’s words and descriptions for the layman are entirely digestible, Henry Reich’s stop-motion illustrations are perfect aids, and Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” orchestration provides a deserving epic backdrop. Now, mash play and satiate your curiosity. And don’t forget to keep looking up.