TIME Television

Comedy Central Calls Criticism of Trevor Noah ‘Unfair’

Network assures that Noah has a bright future at The Daily Show

Comedy Central is stepping up to defend new Daily Show host Trevor Noah after a series of potentially offensive messages were dug up from the comedian’s Twitter account.

“Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included,” Comedy Central said in an emailed statement. “To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central.”

Just hours after Noah was named the successor to Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show, old jokes he made on Twitter began circulating widely online. Some of the tweets making fun of women and Jewish people attracted wide criticism, with some Twitter users declaring they would not watch The Daily Show if Noah hosted. Noah himself made an oblique reference to the controversy Tuesday morning, writing, “Twitter does not have enough characters to respond to all the characters on Twitter.” The tweet was quickly deleted.

TIME

Germanwings Co-Pilot Informed Flight School of Depressive Episode

Lufthansa said the notice occurred in 2009

(BERLIN) — German airline Lufthansa says the co-pilot of the passenger plane that crashed in the French Alps last week informed his flight school in 2009 that he had had a “serious depressive episode.”

Lufthansa says the note was found in emails that Andreas Lubitz sent to the Lufthansa flight school when he resumed his training after an interruption.

The airline said Tuesday it has provided the documents to prosecutors and declined to make any further comment.

Questions have been raised about what the airline knew about Lubitz’s condition before last week’s fatal crash.

 

TIME Television

Watch the Trailer for Jiro Dreams of Sushi Director’s New Netflix Show

David Gelb's "Chef's Table" debuts April 26

Netflix released a trailer Tuesday for Chef’s Table, a series on six world-renowned chefs who will get the full, slow-motion treatment from David Gelb, the acclaimed director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Like Jiro, each episode will follow a single chef in his or her obsessive pursuit of culinary perfection. The series will premiere on Netflix on April 26.

TIME States

Indiana Governor Urges Clarification of Controversial Religious Freedom Law

“This law does not give anyone a license to deny services to gay and lesbian couples," Mike Pence said

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence urged state lawmakers Tuesday to amend a controversial new religious freedom law to clarify that it does not allow businesses to discriminate, bowing to days of criticism that the measure was an invitation to refuse services to gay customers.

“After much reflections and consultation with the leadership of the General Assembly, I’ve come to the conclusion it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear this law does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone,” Pence said in a news conference.

The clarification to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act would explicitly state that the law does not give businesses the right to discriminate. Pence is pushing to enact the change this week.

The law, which Pence signed last week, has ignited a national firestorm from opponents who decry it as anti-gay. Activists pointed to statements made by advocates of the law, who said that florists, for example, could deny service to weddings of gay couples. Business leaders, from Indiana health corporations to Apple CEO Tim Cook, also spoke out against the law, and a movement to boycott Indiana gained traction Monday.

MORE: Uproar Over Religious Freedom Law Trips Up Indiana’s Governor

Pence staunchly defended the law on Tuesday, even as he called for an amendment that would address what he called “mischaracterizations” about the bill.

“This law does not give anyone a license to deny services to gay and lesbian couples,” Pence said. “The language I’m talking about adding would be consistent with what the General Assembly intended, and certainly what I intended.”

Pence said he was stunned by the backlash the law prompted. He attributed the controversy to “reckless” media coverage of the law.

“Was I expecting this kind of backlash? Heavens, no,” Pence said. “Candidly, when this erupted last week, I was taken aback.”

MORE: 5 Things to Know About Mike Pence

A federal version of the law was enacted by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993, and an Illinois version was supported by then-Sen. Barack Obama. Almost 20 states have similar laws on the books. The law, proponents say, would protect religious liberties from government overreach. Proponents have pointed to the example of a Muslim prisoner who would want to have a beard despite prison regulations against facial hair as the kind of individual the law would seek to protect. But at a moment when same-sex marriage is increasingly sweeping the country, advocates have seized on a moment to paint it as a relic from another era.

Pence, who has not ruled out a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, has drawn national criticism for the law, as well as support from conservatives and some GOP presidential candidates. Pence will announce whether or not he will run for president at the end of April at the earliest.

TIME Music

How Jay Z’s Tidal Press Conference Showed He’s Out of Touch

The launch event for the rapper's streaming service was a big mess

After its splashy launch press conference yesterday, the primary argument for Tidal—the two-tiered music service recently purchased by Jay Z that costs either $9.99 or $19.99 per month—is that artists deserve more money for their work. It’s not necessarily a wrongheaded argument, but the manner in which Jay Z and his contemporaries have pressed the point is embarrassingly out-of-touch.

There are real, systemic problems with current streaming services like Spotify, which stream music for free to listeners and distribute to artists a paltry fee drawn from advertising. That’s why Taylor Swift withdrew her hugely profitable catalog from the service last year. The argument Swift has been making is that music has inherent value; from her statements regarding Spotify to her op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, it’s a point she’s consistently made well. The argument Jay Z and his fellow stars at the Tidal launch (including Nicki Minaj, Madonna, and Beyoncé) are making is that they deserve to set the price point for their music. The supporting evidence for this claim? They want to set the price point for their music.

The rhetoric around Tidal was pretty funny, when it wasn’t embarrassing. A promotional video showed various celebrities gathering to discuss their master plan as Beyoncé, who would seem to know better, said “Every great movement started with a group of people being able to get together and really just make a stand.” From Seneca Falls, to Selma, to Stonewall, to Los Angeles, where a bunch of celebrities demanded that their fans give them more money—this country has such a rich history of protest movements.

Jokes aside, the celebrities at the Tidal launch press conference did a remarkably poor job of elucidating why the consumer accustomed to getting music for free should begin paying for it. In the age of Spotify, it is entirely legal to listen to music constantly and never spend money on it. Countering that fact with the moral claim that celebrities would prefer if you didn’t stream music for free only makes sense if you believe celebrities should get everything they want, one hundred percent of the time.

As for the rhetoric in the press conference that music is special and has a unique place in our culture: Music fans agree! That’s why they listen to music often, on services that provide that music for free. But rather than building a better system, Jay Z and friends have, so far, put their energy behind a product that’s more or less the same as Spotify, but more expensive. A product this pointless could, maybe, be sold as a charity case by artists who depend on every penny of fan support. But Jay Z, a rapper who wastes no opportunity to brag, on his records, about his business acumen, is not that figure. Based on the optics of the Tidal launch, his business acumen may have failed him this time.

TIME Music

How Death Cab for Cutie Did Things Differently for Their New Album Kintsugi

The band tells TIME about the inspirations for their new album, out March 31

Rarely does word of a band’s new album inspire such conflicted feelings among loyal listeners. Last summer, Death Cab for Cutie die-hards were thrilled to find out the band was putting the finishes on their eighth studio album—but they were heartbroken to learn the album would also be the last with founding member Chris Walla, who was leaving the band after 17 years.

Instead of distancing themselves from his departure, however, the remaining members—frontman Ben Gibbard, bassist Nick Harmer and drummer Jason McGuerr—made it part of the album’s story. The band named the album Kintsugi, a Japanese ceramic repair technique that finds beauty in the object’s cracks and flaws by filling them with gold and silver. “When Chris left the band we saw it more as an opportunity than as a breakage,” frontman Ben Gibbard tells TIME about Kintsugi, out March 31. “Right now we all see this as a really exciting time for us: we have a new record we’ll be proud of, we get to go out in the world and play these songs we’re really proud of, and we’ll figure out what the next step is when we come to it.”

On bringing in an outside producer for the first time: “It was something that we were all really excited about doing,” Gibbard says. “All of us have certain tropes that we tend to remain comfortable in, things that we gravitate towards. Bringing in [Rich Costey] to cut through what we were comfortable with—like, ‘No, you guys always do it like this, but we need to try something new here’—was really inspiring. This record would absolutely not be the record it is if we had done things the way we’d historically done them.”

On loving music the way you did in high school: “I think it’s absolutely possible to continue to have, as you get older, those really intense relationships with records—it just happens less frequently,” he says. “When I was 16 years old, music was everything in my life, and everything I heard was brand new. Now I’m 38. I’ve heard a lot of music. But there are still these moments where these records come along that just come out of nowhere and blow my mind. It doesn’t happen as often as it once did, but it still happens. You can’t have your mind blown every time you put a record on.”

On drawing lyrical inspiration from Los Angeles: “Los Angeles obviously is a hotbed of character study,” Gibbard says of the new songs, many of which appear to address his divorce from actress Zooey Deschanel. “The swath of people that you run into is fairly wide and interesting. A lot of these songs on the record were inspired by people that I came across in my time living there. It’s a really interesting place. There are some things I love about it, but I don’t think I would ever go back—no, I would never move back.”

On aging as a band: “We all feel very fortunate that these records that we made now some 10-15 years ago, people still care about them,” he says. “That is one thing that is fairly rare these days. There’s so much music coming at you all the time. You have access on streaming services to every record almost ever made. Every day there are websites that are updating with 10 new exciting bands that you should check out. The fact that we have made some albums that now at this point people are still asking us to play feels really good.”

TIME viral

Gonzo From The Muppets Is Really Good at The Humpty Dance

Digital Underground's tune never sounded better

The Muppets’ The Great Gonzo, who is known for his trademark swagger and unearned bravado, is the perfect choice to perform Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance” in a new video that’s going viral. While the original video definitely didn’t include chickens on backup vocals or Rowlf the dog playing piano, this mashup makes you wonder if maybe it should have.

In the clip, Gonzo steps in for emcee Shock G to cover the hip-hop classic from the West Coast rappers. The widely sampled song, which was technically performed by Shock G’s alter ego Humpty Hump, came out in 1989 and climbed the Billboard charts thanks to its ridiculously catchy beats and swaggering, laughable rhymes.

The mashup comes courtesy of YouTube’s Mylo the Cat, who has earned a reputation by making viral videos that mix the Muppets with music hits like Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend” and The Beastie Boys’ “So What’cha Want.”

TIME Gadgets

Microsoft’s New Tablet Could Be a MacBook Air Killer

The Surface 3 runs Windows 8.1 and costs $499 and up

Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled the Surface 3, the latest version of its tablet that can double as a laptop thanks to a keyboard attachment.

The Surface 3 is a slimmed down, less costly version of the the Surface Pro 3, a tablet that critics welcomed as the first two-in-one device that finally began to deliver on its promise of functioning reasonably well in both laptop and tablet mode. While Microsoft initially had trouble selling the Surface line, things improved when it began marketing the 2-in-1s as laptop replacements rather than tablets which also boast a laptop mode.

At a starting price of $499, the Surface 3 marks a steep discount on the Surface Pro 3’s $800 price tag. The Surface 3 includes a 10.8-inch display and an Intel Atom x7 processor, which gives it enough juice to run a full version of Windows 8.1 and, coming this summer, Windows 10. The low cost of entry could also attract buyers unwilling to fork up $899 or more for Apple’s cheapest offering, the $899-and-up 11-inch MacBook Air.

Previous Surface tablets ran Windows RT, a stripped-down operating system for mobile devices that could run apps but not Microsoft’s flagship Windows desktop applications. Early reviews of the device have welcomed the addition of a full-fledged Windows operating system as a welcome and necessary improvement to the non-pro Surface line.

The Surface 3 is currently available for pre-order at the Microsoft Store, and will hit retail stores by May 7.

 

TIME Senate

Harry Reid: No Regrets Over False Romney Charges

"Romney didn't win, did he?"

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has no regrets with falsely accusing Mitt Romney of paying zero taxes for ten years during the 2012 presidential elections.

“So the word is out that he has not paid any taxes for ten years,” Reid said on the Senate floor in August 2012. “Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t.”

Under criticism and repeated denials by Romney, Reid later put out a statement backed by an “extremely credible source,” which turned out to be billionaire Jon Huntsman, Sr, the father of the former Utah governor and Romney rival, according to Double Down by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. PolitiFact rated Reid’s allegation “Pants on Fire.”

When asked about his comments in a new interview by CNN’s Dana Bash, Reid, who recently announced he would retire in 2017 after his term is up, rebuffed those who said his attacks were “McCarthyite.”

“Well, they can call it whatever they want,” Reid said. “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

TIME Television

Watch Helen Mirren Accept a Fake Award After Inhaling Helium

Helen Mirren deserves all the awards

Dame Helen Mirren may not have known what she was getting into when she stopped by The Tonight Show, but that didn’t stop her from participating when Jimmy Fallon handed her a helium balloon and asked her to inhale.

The 69-year-old Woman in Gold star told Fallon she hadn’t sucked on a helium balloon since she was 12 years old, but she quickly got the hang of it. The Academy Award-winning actress then asked Fallon to give her a prize so she could make an acceptance speech.

The actress is a true professional, and even when she started to get light-headed, she continued to play, struggling to rush oxygen to her brain before proudly answering Fallon’s question by loudly declaring, “Spotted dick!”

 

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