interesting articles this week

* Huffington Post, “YouTube Snags Amy Poehler, Madonna, Shaquille O’Neal To Launch Original Content Channels

“YouTube is shelling out $100 million to producers, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The money is an advance on advertising money the videos will bring in, and Google will recoup its portion first before splitting the proceeds. Advances are as high as $5 million per channel, said another person familiar with the arrangement, also speaking on condition of anonymity.”

* “Why is Facebook building a server farm near the Arctic Circle?” – It is cold and it has cheap power. AP via TorStar

“Facebook says its new server farm on the edge of the Arctic Circle — its first outside the U.S. — will improve performance for European users of the social networking site.

After reviewing potential sites across Europe, Facebook confirmed Thursday it had picked the northern Swedish city of Lulea for the data center partly because of the cold climate — crucial for keeping the servers cool — and access to renewable energy from nearby hydropower facilities.”

* “Errol Morris: creating reality“, The Guardian

“Talk to any film-maker and they’ll say the same thing: Morris, who was born in 1948, is a revolutionary. His documentaries create reality as much as they capture it. He sees them as art, as essays, as anything but anthropology. Railing against cinéma vérité and its philosophy of “shaky camera equals truth”, he opts instead for dramatic reconstructions, obtrusive soundtracks, striking angles. He also invented and employs a machine called the Interrotron (its name a synthesis of “interview” and “terror”) that makes interviewees appear to be talking directly to the film viewer.

Tabloid, his new film, is as strange as any Morris has ever made. It’s the story of Joyce McKinney, a beauty queen and former Miss Wyoming who in 1977 hired a private aeroplane and with accomplices travelled to England to track down her boyfriend Kirk whom she believed had been abducted by the Mormon church. After kidnapping him, she whisked him off to a cottage in Devon where, depending on whose story you believe, she spent the next three days either raping him as he lay spread-eagled in bed or having a merry feast of “fun, food and sex”.”

* “YouTube Set to Announce TV Initiative With 100 Niche Channels“, THR

“In a low-budget early effort to compete with satellite and cable TV providers, YouTube is set to announce Friday that it has partnered with several entities to roll out television-style channels with professionally produced shows that will strike a sharp contrast to the short videos of crazy cats, skateboard wipeouts and other amateur content that made the site famous.

The online TV channels will be programmed by the likes of BermanBraun, FremantleMedia, Shine Group, The Wall Street Journal, pro skateboarder Tony Hawk and actors Ashton Kutcher and Amy Poehler.”

* “Philip Seymour Hoffman: ‘I was moody, mercurial… it was all or nothing’“, The Guardian

“You want crippled communication, Philip Seymour Hoffman is your go-to man. You want all-round weirdos – red-faced, obese, heavy-breathing, sweating, self-loathing sickos – Hoffman’s your man. There was a time when Masturbation could have been his middle name. Just look at the CV. As well as appearing in many of the best and bleakest movies of the past 15 years (often, unforgettably, for just a couple of minutes), there is a clear pattern. In Todd Solondz’s Happiness he is the dysfunctional creep tossing himself off to strangers on the phone and convinced he is the least desirable man in the world. In Boogie Nights, he is a woeful hanger-on in a ginger bob, belly pouring over skin-tight denim shorts, hopelessly in love with porn star Dirk Diggler. Then there’s Punch-Drunk Love, in which he’s a monstrous blackmailer who runs phone sex lines, The Big Lebowski playing a greasy acolyte with a grotesque laugh, and Capote which won him an Oscar for his magnificent impression of Truman Capote – lazy lisp, preening narcissism and of course more than a hint of self-loathing.”

* “Carrie Fisher: Hollywood confidential“, The Guardian

“Carrie Fisher is one of cinema’s most unusual characters – and perhaps Hollywood’s ultimate survivor. Thrust into the spotlight by the unexpected success of Star Wars in the late 1970s, she has always had an uneasy relationship with fame. The daughter of “America’s sweethearts” Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, she has never known an ordinary life. “You might say I’m the product of Hollywood inbreeding,” she writes. “When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result.”

Fisher will be in the headlines again in the next few weeks. Her latest memoir, Shockaholic will cover, as part of her routinely vivid life, her friendship with the late Michael Jackson. She met Jackson through the woman who was briefly her stepmother, Elizabeth Taylor, who’ll provide another source of memoir entertainment.”


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