Music

Watch: Startup Bets on Millenials and House Parties to Save Classical Music

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If you walk into a chamber concert organized by Groupmuse, you soon realize this is not your traditional classical performance. There’s clapping in-between movements of Mozart’s duo in G major, as well as whistling, drinking and sitting on the floor so close to the musicians that one risks getting jabbed with every note. But most importantly, there is a rare breed in the audience: engaged, iPhone-less millennials.

Groupmuse is a Boston-based startup that strives to attract new audiences for live classical music by re-imagining the traditional concert experience. Sam Bodkin, 24, started the venture in January of last year. Bodkin blames the stifling, severe traditional orchestral experience for turning millennials away from classical music concerts. He plans to make his business profitable by pairing musicians and hosts to create what he calls “chamber music house parties.”

“In what other form of music is the sincere instinct to express enthusiasm ever to be subdued?” Bodkin asked. “At Groupmuse we clap anytime we want to clap, even if it means in the middle of a movement.”

Groupmuse hopes to bridge the gap between audiences that are willing to pay for intimate, high-quality concerts with talented musicians who are looking for alternative performance opportunities at a time when orchestras face troubling demographic trends and graver financial worries. Donations are collected at each event and go directly to the musicians, who earn $150 to $500 on an average night. Groupmuse itself made about $25,000 over the course of the past year, Bodkin said, though it’s not currently making a profit.

Groupmuse fits within a long-standing tradition of entrepreneurial ventures hoping to find new formats to make classical music profitable, said Angela Myles Beeching, Director
 of the Center for Music Entrepreneurship at the Manhattan School of Music.

“Everyone is talking about how to make this traditional art form more relevant and ways to change traditional concert settings,” Beeching said. “The really smart thing about house concerts is that it takes away the business of renting venues and the middle management that comes with presenting any type of traditional concert. As a business model, it has a low overhead.”

Groupmuse represents an unprecedented opportunity to engage with a wider audience, said Julia Glenn, a 25-year-old doctoral student at the world-renowned Juilliard School and a regular performer at Groupmuse concerts.

“If something about the culture of classical music isn’t changed, the audience is at risk of drying out.” Glenn said. “The hope of Groupmuse and ventures like that is to give people the chance to get excited about the music, and give the music a chance of having a future.”

First-time Groupmuse attendee Garrett Kotecki said the event was described to him as “classical music for people who don’t want to wear a suit and tie.”

“I didn’t think it was boring at all, because they were right here in the room. It wasn’t a huge orchestra, far removed onstage,” Kotecki said. “I had never been this close to a viola and violin player. You can hear their fingers move, you can hear them breathe inhale and exhale in tempo with the music.”

Bodkin doesn’t want Groupmuse to replace conventional concert experiences at established symphony orchestras. Instead, he sees it as an entry point into the more traditional concert experience for a generation that he believes to be increasingly alienated from the genre.

“People should just go and get into the music and experience it on their own terms,” Bodkin said. “Then hopefully a lot of them will get really turned on by Beethoven, because, ‘Wow, this guy I heard about so much is actually pretty rocking,’ and then they go see the big show at Carnegie Hall.”

Theater

Is Today Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday? Maybe

Shakespeare
Martin Droeshout the Elder—The Bridgeman Art Library/Getty Images

Why experts still aren't sure about the bard's big day

Every year on April 23, Stratford-upon-Avon and the world celebrate the birth of the most famous English playwright in history — and this year’s festivities will be bigger than usual, as 2014 marks what would have been the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare.

Except that we don’t actually know for sure whether April 23 was even his birthday.

Here’s what is certain: the records of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford mark the baptism on April 26, 1564, of “Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakspere” and that baptisms — it’s generally thought — usually took place three days after birth. So “Gulielmus” — William, son of John — was probably born three days before, on April 23.

If that’s true, it’s a neat coincidence, as that would mean he was born on the day dedicated to England’s patron saint, St. George. But not everyone is convinced. Some experts believe the April 23 date is a myth, and that a baptism wouldn’t necessarily have been performed three days after birth. It could have been performed sooner — given that babies often died within the first few days of life — or at any time until the Sunday or Holy Day after the birth (the 26th was a Sunday); the coincidence about St. George might also have pushed hopeful British fans of the bard’s to choose the 23rd to observe the birthday.

Either way, Shakespeare fans definitely have something to celebrate — or, rather, mourn — on April 23. Though his birthday is something of a mystery, the day of his 1616 death is less so: April 23.

 

movies

Flash Gordon Movie In The Works

American athlete and actor Buster Crabbe in the title role of 'Flash Gordon', 1936.
American athlete and actor Buster Crabbe in the title role of 'Flash Gordon', 1936. Silver Screen Collection—Getty Images

Gordon's alive! A big-screen adaptation of the 1930s comic strip is on the way from "Star Trek 3" writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay

Twentieth Century Fox have attained the rights to the screen version of the comic book. John Davis will produce while Star Trek 3 writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay are also on board.
Read more at http://www.nme.com/filmandtv/news/flash-gordon-remake-set-for-production/337316#yLgqyKod1EV0RKdc.99
Twentieth Century Fox have attained the rights to the screen version of the comic book. John Davis will produce while Star Trek 3 writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay are also on board. There are currently no actors attached to the project.
Read more at http://www.nme.com/filmandtv/news/flash-gordon-remake-set-for-production/337316#yLgqyKod1EV0RKdc.99

It looks like we can add Flash Gordon to the glut of action heroes getting the big screen treatment. Twentieth Century Fox has picked up the film rights for the comic strip hero, according to The Hollywood Reporter, with Star Trek 3 writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay signed on to write the script.

In the original story, Flash was a polo player who was kidnapped by a mad scientist and taken to the planet Mongo, which was ruled by Ming the Merciless. Though he was first created as a comic strip in 1934 by Alex Raymond, Flash has had many lives over the past century, appearing in many spin-off comics and television series. Most notably was the campy 1980 movie adaptation starring Timothy Dalton, Max von Sydow, Chaim Topol and Sam Jones and a soundtrack by Queen.

According to THR, Fox isn’t the only studio who has been eyeing Flash Gordon for an adaptation — not to mention a potential franchise — which isn’t at all surprising. At this point, it’s safe to assume that all vintage action heros will soon be getting the Hollywood treatment.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

Television

It’s Not TV: Why an Amazon Deal Could Keep HBO Relevant for the Post-Cable Era

A deal with Amazon Prime makes archival series like The Sopranos a bigger part of the all-you-can-eat streaming buffet. HBO

HBO got rich selling its shows at top dollar to a fraction of the audience. But to avoid being forgotten by cord-cutters, it has to adapt to the age of all-you-can-eat TV.

This morning, Amazon and HBO announced what amounts to an alliance in the Great Streaming Wars of 2014: For the first time, an Amazon Prime subscription will give you access to HBO’s archive of series, up to approximately three years ago. That means The Sopranos, Deadwood, and many other TV monuments that were only available through HBO are now included with your free shipping and future access to Jeff Bezos’ drone armada. (Current series like Girls will become available over time.)

I’ll leave it to others to analyze the business implications of this move, which, from where I’m sitting, boil down at least partly to Prime’s quickly ramping-up ambitions, partly to “The enemy of Netflix is my friend.” (Both Amazon and HBO are in direct competition with the streaming giant.) But at least one of the big motivations for HBO could be cultural: making sure that its legacy, and its brand, are not lost in the emerging canon of binge-watched TV.

(Disclaimer: HBO is currently a sister company of TIME in Time Warner, though that will change when publisher Time Inc. spins off later in the year.)

One of HBO’s defining features–and a source of zillions of dollars–is that it’s a closed system. You want to watch its shows, you had to subscribe to it, and thus, had to subscribe to cable. (With a few exceptions: you could watch bowdlerized edits of Sex and the City on basic cable, or watch series on DVD–like a caveman.) This was true not just for new episodes but the on-demand back catalog available through HBO GO.

This paywall approach meant a more limited audience, but one that was paying, and paying top dollar. (Or at least its parents/friends were, in the case of folks borrowing HBO Go logins to watch True Detective.) If only a fraction of the total TV audience had access to HBO, fine–the network was making millions off that fraction.

But as streaming became mainstream, through the likes of Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, this meant a sizable chunk of the TV audience for whom HBO just didn’t exist. There was now a vast library of TV available on demand–and really good TV, from decades ago, from the recent past, from the present. If you didn’t want to get a $200+ cable subscription, you missed HBO, which was too bad, but there was always, say, FX and AMC shows–the final season of Breaking Bad exploded in the ratings, and that was attributed largely to a vast audience who had caught up on Netflix.

For a certain generation of TV connoisseurs, HBO was the standard of quality. But for another–especially younger ones, with Internet but no cable–it didn’t exist at all. Last year, TV critic and media-studies academic Anne Helen Petersen wrote about how her students, though highly savvy TV-lovers, were almost totally unaware of The Sopranos. Why? It wasn’t on Netflix. And if you’re a college student with little money but easy access to broadband, Netflix is a lot more attractive.

That might not matter for HBO right now; it’s still printing money by all accounts. But long term, that could make a big difference to its brand perception–that halo effect in which pop-culture addicts have the sense that they can’t be truly current unless they’re up to speed on its shows. And to the extent that HBO cares about its larger, non-economic cultural place (and it does), it could make a huge difference to the canon of Great TV in future decades. If you don’t give streamers more means of access, there will be a great big HBO memory hole that will just be filled in by Mad Men, The Shield, and Orange Is the New Black.

The new Amazon deal doesn’t mean there’s no point in subscribing to HBO, since it’s your only (legal) option for new episodes of Game of Thrones et al. But it shows that the network is recognizing a change in how people consume and discover TV–archivally, online, and all at once, as selected from a vast menu of TV’s past. If HBO wants to keep its cachet, it also needs to be part of the buffet.

streaming video

HBO Is Coming to Amazon Prime

HBO

An unprecedented, multi-year licensing deal announced on Wednesday will bring dozens of HBO series, movies and comedy specials to members of Amazon's $99-per-year Prime subscription service, with the first shows hitting Prime in late May

Amazon and HBO are joining hands for an exclusive licensing deal that will bring HBO’s content to Amazon’s $99-per-year Prime subscription service, with the first shows hitting Prime on May 21.

Assuming you’re a fan of the sort of content HBO offers, including some of the highest-acclaimed series in television history, that’s as big a deal as any in recent memory — the first time in history HBO’s paired off with an online-only subscription-based streamer.

It means access to HBO will no longer be limited to cable or satellite provider packages, opening the door wide for the first time to cord-cutters who’ve doubtless been waiting for a deal like this to go down. It means you’ll be able to tap HBO with anything that currently supports Amazon’s Prime channel — set-tops, tablets, phones, game consoles, etc. — and gain access to whole swathes of HBO content (as well as free two-day shipping and Kindle library lending) for Amazon’s standard $99-per-year fee.

Bear in mind, if you’re not a member, that Prime content is free to Prime members; this isn’t HBO signing up to let Amazon charge you to watch these shows. Amazon says Prime members will have “unlimited streaming access” to shows that include:

  • All seasons of The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Rome and Six Feet Under, as well as Eastbound & Down, Enlightened and Flight of the Conchords
  • Miniseries, including Angels in America, Band of Brothers, John Adams, The Pacific and Parade’s End
  • Select seasons of current series such as Boardwalk Empire, Treme and True Blood
  • Original movies like Game Change, Too Big To Fail and You Don’t Know Jack
  • Documentaries including the Autopsy and Iceman series, Ghosts of Abu Ghraib and When the Levees Broke
  • Original comedy specials from Lewis Black, Ellen DeGeneres, Louis CK and Bill Maher

Amazon says earlier seasons of HBO shows like Girls, The Newsroom and Veep will roll out over the course of the multi-year agreement, approximately three years after airing on HBO.”

Not to worry, cable subscribers and HBO Go users: Amazon assures HBO content will remain “on all HBO platforms.” HBO hasn’t signed any of its series over to Amazon exclusively, in other words; only the right to stream existing shows through Prime. What’s more, Amazon says the HBO Go app is coming to Amazon’s Fire TV set-top box by the end of the year, the upside being access to the full HBO caboodle if you pay monthly for HBO: “1,700 titles online including every episode of new and classic HBO series, as well as HBO original films, miniseries, sports, documentaries, specials and a wide selection of blockbuster movies.”

celebrities

Lupita Nyong’o Named People‘s ‘Most Beautiful’

Lupita Nyong'o attends the 2014 MTV Movie Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 13, 2014 in Los Angeles.
Lupita Nyong'o attends the 2014 MTV Movie Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 13, 2014 in Los Angeles. Jason Merritt—Getty Images for MTV

The "12 Years A Slave" actress will grace the cover of People's 25th celebration of the world's most beautiful celebrities

Lupita Nyong’o has been named People‘s “Most Beautiful”, landing a cover shoot for this week’s issue.

The actress, 31, was People‘s 25th “Most Beautiful” star. The magazine has been naming the 50 most beautiful celebrities in the world since 1990, when Michelle Pfeiffer was named most beautiful.

Nyong’o shot to fame as the slave Patsey in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and won an Academy Award for the role. Nyong’o recently landed a contract with the luxury beauty product brand Lancome Paris.

The actress told People that while growing up, she equated beauty with “light skin and long, flowing, straight hair,” and as a teen died her hair every color except blond and even shaved her head.

Growing up in Kenya, Nyong’o’s mother, who is the managing director and head of PR for the Africa Cancer Foundation, “always said I was beautiful,” the actor said. “And I believed her at some point.”

PEOPLE’s Most Beautiful Women: Then & Now

From Child Stars to Grown-up Beauties

Most Beautiful at Every Age

[People]

 

movies

Here’s Your First Look At Pitch Perfect 2

Rebel Wilson, aka Fat Amy, has tweeted a shot from the first day of rehearsals for the much-anticipated sequel

Pitch Perfect 2 may be the most anticipated sequel to a movie about a cappella singing of all time, but we’re still a year out before it hits theaters.

Luckily, Rebel Wilson — who plays Fat Amy in both of the films — tweeted a picture from the first day of rehearsals to remind us all how aca-awesome the cast is. The first look features Wilson, Ester Dean, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Kelley Jakle and Hanna Mae Lee together, along with Elizabeth Banks who will also be directing. (Notably missing: Anna Kendrick.)

The sequel reportedly follows Wilson’s Fat Amy and Kendrick’s Beca as they prepare to graduate from Barden University. Further details have been kept under wraps, but here’s hoping this first look will satisfy fans for the time being. After all, something needs to distract them from practicing the “Cups” song for the umpteenth time.

[Vulture]

celebrities

Justin Bieber Apologizes for Visiting Shrine Honoring War Criminals in Tokyo

Premiere Of Open Road Films' "Justin Bieber's Believe" - Arrivals
Justin Bieber attends the premiere of Open Road Films' Justin Bieber's Believe at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Dec. 18, 2013 Jason Kempin—Getty Images

Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber apologized via Instagram after China fans were outraged he visited Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's fallen during World War II, including some who committed mass atrocities

Updated: April 23, 2014, 8:06 a.m. E.T.

Did Justin Bieber honor the memory of some of Japan’s worst war criminals during his recent trip to Tokyo? You better belieb it!

According to the international pop sensation’s Twitter and Instagram accounts, Bieber dropped by the notorious Yasukuni Shrine this week, where he paid his respects to Japan’s war dead, including former military leaders from the country’s imperial army who committed mass atrocities across Asia and the Pacific during World War II.

“Thank you for your blessings,” tweeted Bieber, which garnered more than 666,000 likes on Instagram and tens of thousands of retweets before the singer suddenly removed the image from his account.

But Bieber’s China fans were less than impressed by the visit, urging him on social media to remove the picture out of respect for the dead. Bieber eventually responded to the controversy caused by the incident with an Instagram post on Wednesday of TIME’s story on the upset:

“While in Japan I asked my driver to pull over for which I saw a beautiful shrine,” wrote Bieber. “I was mislead to think the Shrines were only a place of prayer. To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry. I love you China and I love you Japan.”

Bieber’s visit to Yasukuni comes almost a year to the day after he visited the Anne Frank House, a museum honoring the legacy of the Jewish teenager who was killed in a Nazi concentration camp in World War II. He scrawled in the guestbook that “hopefully she would have been a Belieber.”

Television

Watch Stephen Colbert Drop By the Late Show for a Chat With David Letterman

Comedian Stephen Colbert stopped by David Letterman's set less than two weeks after CBS announced he would replace the late-night legend in 2015. The duo even took a selfie as the interview drew to a close

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The Stephen Colbert era hasn’t even officially begun yet, but hey, this was a pretty good start. The Colbert Report host appeared on David Letterman’s Late Show on April 22, less than two weeks after CBS announced that Colbert would be Letterman’s replacement when the legendary talk-show host retires in 2015. Colbert also confirmed that the Report would be concluding its run at the end of 2014.

From the moment he stepped out on stage, it was clear that Colbert wouldn’t be in character for his interview with Letterman (it was even more obvious once he opened his mouth). It’s strange — though not entirely unprecedented — to see Colbert on the set of a late-night talk show, behaving and talking like someone other than “Stephen Colbert,” but the choice wasn’t surprising.

Though widely heralded, Colbert is likely unknown to many of Letterman’s regular viewers (rest assured, however, that plenty of those who tuned in tonight did so only to see the newly crowned prince of late night). Perhaps most comforting to those regular viewers is just how relaxed Letterman appeared throughout the interview, leaning back in his chair, legs spread so wide that his knees nearly met Colbert’s. In case it weren’t already obvious from his earlier statement in the wake of the announcement, Dave approves.

Colbert didn’t set the world on fire with his performance, but he proved himself every bit as witty as when in character on his own show — with genuine sincerity taking the place of bombast and buffoonery. The 49-year-old comedian made sure to compliment his soon-to-be predecessor right off the bat, declaring, “I’m going to do whatever you have done here. It seems to have gone pretty well.” Letterman returned the kind words, noting that CBS “could have just as easily hired a boob like me,” but opted for Colbert instead.

It’s far too early to confirm that Colbert is a worthy successor to Letterman’s legacy, but the signs are encouraging. As Colbert explained, “I don’t know why you do comedy, but it’s not because everything is all right up here, for me.” The comment plays beautifully into Letterman’s image as the tortured comedic genius whose work isn’t about the money or the fun or the fame — it’s the only way he can maintain his sanity. Colbert may not be as curmudgeonly as Letterman, but anyone who can stay in character for the better part of a decade has a remarkable comedic drive.

As the interview drew to a close, Letterman even suggested the two take a selfie together. Even Colbert seemed a little shocked, but it only goes to show that nothing is impossible when you’re the new darling of late night. This was only the beginning.

movies

Gone Girl Author: Reports of Movie Changes Are “Greatly Exaggerated”

During a Reddit AMA, Gillian Flynn discussed the upcoming film of her marital murder mystery, which will star Ben Affleck, as well as her writing process and why her novel Sharp Objects deserves the movie treatment

Gillian Flynn’s bestselling thriller Gone Girl is about to become a movie starring Ben Affleck, but fans of the marital murder mystery know adapting its alternating narrations and plot twists is no easy task.

In January, an Entertainment Weekly cover story suggested the film’s screenplay, which Flynn wrote, was a drastic departure from the novel and included a whole new ending — news that surprised fans as well as the film’s stars. “Ben was so shocked by it,” Gone Girl director David Fincher told EW. “He would say, ‘This is a whole new third act! She literally threw that third act out and started from scratch.’”

During a Reddit ask-me-anything Q&A on Tuesday, however, Flynn told fans not to worry about changes to the story. She wrote:

… those reports have been greatly exaggerated! Of course, the script has to be different from the book in some ways—you have to find a way to externalize all those internal thoughts and you have to do more with less room and you just don’t have room for everything. But the mood, tone and spirit of the book are very much intact. I’ve been very involved in the film and loved it. Working with David Fincher is pretty much the best place to start for a screenwriter. Screenwriting definitely works different parts of your brain than writing a novel. I do love that with novels, you can really sprawl out–it feels quite decadent. With screenwriting, you have to justify every choice. It’s a nice discipline, but definitely not decadent.

Flynn also discussed her writing process (“I treat it like a 9 to 5 job”), her upcoming young-adult novel (“No vampires”) and her career (she wrote her first two books while working full-time). She also revealed Gone Girl’s memorable “Cool Girl” monologue wasn’t originally intended for the book — it was just a writing exercise designed to flesh out the character Amy.

Gone Girl is not the only Flynn novel coming to the big screen: An adaptation of her second novel, Dark Places, opens in September, and Flynn told Reddit she “may have news to report in [the] next few months” about her first novel, Sharp Objects, which has been optioned. Unlike Gone Girl, which is her third book, Flynn says Sharp Objects lends itself very well to film — no Frankensteined screenplays necessary.

Here’s the first full Gone Girl trailer in case you missed it:

Gone Girl opens in theaters on October 3.

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