Category: Entertainment News

An Oral History of the Very First Episode of Yo! MTV Raps

— DJ Jazzy Jeff

DJ Jazzy Jeff: You were excited when you were on Yo! Herzog: There were a bunch of guys from radio who programmed the videos. You didn’t.”

Fab 5 Freddy:  I had just directed “My Philosophy,” my first video. He’d go into my office, he’d go into Judy’s office — he just was selling, selling, selling. The first rap video to make its way into MTV’s rotation was Run-D.M.C.’s “Rock Box” in 1984, after the cable network had been on the air for three years. He said, “Man, what would work good for you? MTV Raps put hip-hop in every home. Many of those performers appear in the episode, shouting out videos that were already being played on MTV, like “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and LL Cool J’s “Goin’ Back to Cali,” along with others that weren’t in the regular rotation: “Follow the Leader,” by Eric B. Did not see that coming.”

Fab 5 Freddy: In essence, it pretty much was a pilot special that did incredibly well. Like many people from MTV in those days, he had come from the world of radio. We shot the first shows in late summer and by that fall, it was rolling every week. While certain artists, including Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, the Fat Boys, and DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, got some play from MTV in the years that followed, Yo! It was a very slow trickle to get videos on MTV. I do remember watching that, and literally, at the very end of the show … that video: mind blown. TV continues to be pretty white. Yo! pilot was a big win for us. It became fun, like, overnight. On a daily basis, the imagery of what Black folks are doing, living, saying — this constant stream had never happened before. Yo! Once they started to realize hip-hop is probably the largest money-making music of this time is when advertisers jumped on it. That was the thing, that a little kid growing up in Idaho could hear EPMD. And I would say Yo! Rap music and hip-hop culture had been coming of age in New York for well over a decade before Yo! R&B — they’d have other names that meant “Black” — and those stations were separated. I’m like, “What is he talking about?” I never thought any of this was going to happen. And my boss [at the time] was a guy named Lee Masters, now known as Jarl Mohn. That’s how we tended to program those kinds of thematic weekends. weekend ranked third behind the Video Music Awards and Live-Aid, which means it was likely a double-digit rating, a 9.0 or a 10.0 [point]. They don’t know.’

— Fab 5 Freddy

Hip-hop was the bastard of the music industry for a very long time until someone realized they could make money off of it. It was like an army. So if you are shying away from Black artists, you’re definitely shying away from hip-hop artists because once the Black artists started to get on MTV, there still wasn’t any hip-hop. They had something in that. So when Ted had an idea he was excited about, he would go work the hall. MTV Raps, because by the time they got really big, it was a badge of honor. A ratings point represents the percentage of the total population that has tuned in to a program. ‘Mind Blown’

The pilot for Yo! MTV Raps also ceased to be the baby of two white dudes. MTV Raps, the network’s first show dedicated entirely to rap music. MTV Raps debuted, it wasn’t really a pilot yet — it was more like an experiment. We would do things like that, that would bring you close to the realities of where these guys are from. Meanwhile, hip-hop continued to grow in popularity, to the point where a show devoted to the genre seemed redundant, since rap videos were then dominating MTV. DJ Jazzy Jeff: It’s funny because the hip-hop audience knew exactly who they were. In the book I Want My MTV, published in 2011, Dougherty says, “I was very insistent that we get black people to work on Yo!, and I was met with, “Why? We talked, and that was it. Herzog: Ted and Peter were incredibly passionate about [doing a show]. We’re doing Black music, and we’re doing hip-hop. MTV was programmed musically like a hip AOR [album-oriented rock] radio station, which was code for: We play rock music and not Black music. MTV Raps. Herzog: Ted was relentless with everything he did. For reference, today a cable series routinely earns a .2 or even a .06, so that Yo! Yo! MTV Raps actually hit the air before Arsenio [Hall] entered late night. MTV Raps. McGrath: Ted could talk you into doing anything. They’d envisioned it as the hip-hop version of 120 Minutes, MTV’s alternative-music show, and Headbanger’s Ball, its heavy-metal offering. I lived on Ludlow; he lived on Orchard. MTV Raps’

Judy McGrath: Many of us were upset that we weren’t playing more Black musicians. The Genesis: “Man, we got to get a show on the air”

Fab 5 Freddy: Peter [Dougherty] was this guy that I met through friends. But it was just Run-D.M.C. Yo! the Fresh Prince), Run-D.M.C., DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Ready Rock C in the first episode of Yo! Then what we would do to further that, once we got our feet under us, was, when an artist had a unique idea, we would try to shoot it in a way that reflected that. We’d go down to Yonah Schimmel and get bagels, and we’d do the whole thing up. You go to England and other places, and they didn’t have that type of distinct racial separation in the charts. I’m trying to make this video so it needs to be so Black, in terms of what KRS-One is doing and talking about, [that] I’m sure they wouldn’t want to play this video. (Ironically, they first had success with the concept at MTV Europe, where a pilot debuted in 1987, before American MTV got onboard.)

Sadly, neither of them is still with us; Demme died of a heart attack in 2002 at age 38, and Dougherty also had a fatal heart attack in 2015 at the age of 59. tour for about four or five months. Fab 5 Freddy: Especially in this moment, where we’re looking at what racism is really about and the different levels that it works at, this is how systemic racism works. You think that’s necessary?” And I was like, “Yeah. You could see the ratings pop when that show was on. Part of a weekend of MTV programming devoted to hip-hop music videos, the episode was technically the pilot for what would quickly become one of MTV’s most popular original shows, spawning weekly installments hosted by hip-hop legend Fab 5 Freddy and, soon after, daily episodes presided over by the beloved New York comedic duo Ed Lover and Doctor Dré. Herzog: Then, of course, in the whatever’s-worth-doing-is-worth-overdoing category, it wasn’t long before we decided, “Well, we need to do this every day.” That’s when the Ed Lover and Doctor Dré daily version came in. Herzog: It started as a regular weekend show on MTV, and pretty quickly it became a big deal. It was really just: roll the cameras. The people that are actually implementing this are not overtly racist, but they’re following what they feel are these norms. And at that point, they were like, “We got to get a show on the air.” Then Peter’s like, “They want to get a show on the air, and you’re the guy [to host it].”

The idea was they’ll see how it does, and the numbers continually were bangin’, bangin’, bangin’. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and MTV

“We want to let everybody know where it’s at / It’s right here: Yo! McGrath: It was an experiment, and I think we did a lot of things quickly and on the fly. MTV Raps that aired on August 6, 1988, is 49 minutes long, minus commercial breaks. Get somewhere and watch it.” I can’t remember where I went. One time, we had a show with Das EFX, which was this cool group that had a real great style of rhyming, and they had this underground, straight-from-the-sewer vibe. That’s where we interviewed Das EFX. McGrath: Ted and Peter, once they opened the doors on this, all this talent and many of the musicians hung out in their offices all the time. All of a sudden, Ted’s blasting music. Herzog: I could remember Lee Masters/Jarl Mohn being absolutely dumbfounded, like, “Wow! Fad of “Supersonic” fame. TV continues to be pretty white. MTV Raps; and DJ Jazzy Jeff, the hitmaker who appeared in that pilot/experimental episode. We actually lived around the corner from each other [on Manhattan’s Lower East Side]. That was it. MTV Raps was what finally flung the doors to the genre wide open, expanding upon the mainstream success that hip-hop had already started to achieve elsewhere. I remember somebody on the crew asking did I think this had a chance to be on MTV? But when that very first episode of Yo! Radio in America was primarily segregated. MTV Raps Changed Hip-Hop

Lee Masters was Mohn’s radio name, which he used for much of his career until going back to his given name. I remember him telling me, “We played the video.” I was like, “What are you talking about, Peter?” “Yes. It was a blend, and it was great. There is no official host, but the introductions of videos and interstitial segments were shot backstage during the Run’s House tour, a national concert tour headlined by Run-D.M.C. But others who knew and worked with them were available to revisit the days leading up to that summer 1988 debut and the revolution it kicked off: Doug Herzog, the head of the then-new original-programming division at MTV; Judy McGrath, who oversaw the promotions department in the late ’80s before going on to be MTV’s CEO; Fab 5 Freddy, the pioneering hip-hop artist, filmmaker, and first host of Yo! Herzog: Yo! The first video shown on ‘Yo! For example, the September 14, 2020, premiere of Dancing With the Stars did a 1.3 among adults 18 to 49, according to The Hollywood Reporter, while that night’s episode of Love Island did a 0.4 in the same demo. MTV Raps probably had a little bit to do with that. It was kind of obvious that there was a scene and it was changing and it would be great to get on it. DJ Jazzy Jeff: Yo! I knew MTV wasn’t playing anybody besides Michael Jackson and maybe Prince. Herzog: The biggest needle-mover was doing that Yo! Tags: It was how it should be. We were like, “Yo, how do we capture that?”

We went in an underground railroad along the Upper West Side, where the Metro North runs, but it had this underground-railroad field. What do you think would be a good way to do it?” I said, “I don’t want to be cooped up in that studio like those other VJs.” It felt more interesting and engaging to have you immersed in the world where the music’s coming from. There’s four people stuck in a cubicle together, and Freddy’s in there and Ed and Dré are in there and Darryl [McDaniels from Run-D.M.C.] comes by. That helped everything grow. I was very aware of the significance to that. But you can’t even imagine how white TV was back then. He was a quiet but very studious and observant guy that was a voracious fan of all kinds of alternative music cultures. MTV Raps.”

Those words, rapped in unison by DJ Jazzy Jeff, the Fresh Prince (a.k.a. They don’t know. We were all down on the Lower East Side all the time. Even though people will say we always played Prince and this and that, and we did, but not to the extent that we should have. The baseline of the network was probably a 2.0. DJ Jazzy Jeff: We had two strikes against us. Fab 5 Freddy: MTV got it wrong [about hip-hop]. Leveling Up: ‘It Went Right to the Moon’

Unlike Fab 5 Freddy, who took his Yo! Working with Peter was this guy Ted Demme from Long Island, who grew up loving hip-hop — super, super-hard-core fan. DJ Jazzy Jeff: We just knew that we’re on this Run–D.M.C. We would get together on Sundays and nosh. MTV Raps actually hit the air before In Living Color went on Fox. So don’t even ask me that anymore.”

I was shocked when [Dougherty] told me they had done that pilot. Ultimately, two white guys who worked in the promotions department at the network — Peter Dougherty, who was famous for being plugged in to emerging music scenes, and Ted Demme, a production assistant who would later become the director of films like The Ref, Life, and Blow — were responsible for creating Yo! That helped with the sales. I also feel like the growth of hip-hop, and hip-hop pretty much being in every commercial on every show, starts to happen when the powers that be realize there’s money to be made. MTV Raps put hip-hop in every home. I think they looked at rap at first like a fad, like something that was going to be here and gone. I knew [they] were behind this, and I would just watch them ask [about the trend] and I’d go, “Yeah, look at these dummies. That was the thing that solidified it. I’m the guy that got the call when they made the attempt to begin to fix that ideology. Here’s Biz Markie.” And everybody’s like, “We knew who Biz Markie was. Doug just sent me a great picture he found of Adam Yauch just sitting in the news department even before we were in business with the Beastie Boys. I’m going to guess that we wanted to make it a little bit of a primer for people who didn’t really know what was going on and introduce them to artists and videos. That helped with the fan base. It’s almost like someone on MTV is like, “Hey, I’m about to expose you guys to something really great. I said, “Man, I’m sure MTV would not play this. That was our show. That was the time that I could sigh and say, “I think hip-hop is here to stay.”

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How Yo! and then the Beastie Boys. Fab 5 Freddy: And the Black movie thing was beginning: Spike Lee’s films, Robert Townsend, John Singleton. And [MTV] had cameras, and we walked on and we did the interview, and Run and them were there. They don’t know.”

DJ Jazzy Jeff: When Run-D.M.C. But you can’t even imagine how white TV was back then. Where It Started At: The NY Rap Story

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Will Smith (a.k.a. I don’t think it should be run indefinitely by a couple white people.” Producer Jac Benson and producer-director Moses Edinborough became integral parts of the team. McGrath: I do believe that the Yo! Fab 5 Freddy: It was a half an hour in the beginning, and it went right to the moon. episodes out of the studio and on location, Ed Lover and Doctor Dré hosted in-studio, injecting their own personality and comedy to the gig, including regular bits like the famous Ed Lover Dance. I don’t know who I had to call that had cable. They said, “You’ve got to give us a shot to do this.”

McGrath: Look, we were living in New York City. MTV Raps arrived. We played your video. Peter respected my creativity and my insights. It became like a clubhouse. I remember that was the obligatory question: ‘How long do you think this trend is going to last?’ … I’d go, ‘Yeah, look at these dummies. Even though the music channel and arbiter of youth culture was headquartered in New York City, it was slow to incorporate rap into its programming. They were both doing the little promo pieces in between videos that really gave MTV its personality and were like, “Man, we got to get a show on the air.”

Doug Herzog: Ted and Peter had been big in-house cheerleaders for rap music. & Rakim, the first video shown in the episode; “My Philosophy,” by Boogie Down Productions, featuring KRS-One and directed by Fab 5 Freddy; and Biz Markie’s “Vapors.” Some segments have a “Hip-Hop 101” feel — at one point, Chuck D and Flava Flav set up a montage devoted to “up-and-coming” rap artists, which included the already-established acts Salt-N-Pepa, Kool Moe Dee, Biz Markie, Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, 2 Live Crew, and MC Lyte. — Doug Herzog

Herzog: I’m sure it was all Ted and Peter [who planned the episode]. Fab 5 Freddy: I remember the first press I would get, that was the obligatory question: “How long do you think this trend is going to last?” I totally understood trends, and I knew that there were so many kids in the hood that was down with this that people knew nothing about. Will Smith), and Ready Rock C on August 6, 1988, served as the official welcome to Yo! MTV Raps weekend, and those weekend ratings jumping off the charts. Peter and Ted were producers in the promo department  — Ted was actually a junior guy — but if you were passionate enough, you had a good enough idea and a decent enough idea on how to maybe execute it, we’d give you a shot. got “Rock Box” [on MTV], we were like, Okay, that’s cool. and featuring artists like DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Public Enemy, EPMD, and the all-women trio J.J. ended its run in 1995. That was the beautiful thing. “Pop” meant white.

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Categories: Entertainment News

Stevie Nicks Is on the Edge of Saving Cinema

Egregiously the only woman to be inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame twice. It’s a trip. Come with me!24 Karat Gold The Concert will be in movie theaters exclusively on October 21 & 25. For two nights only on October 21 and 25, the film, which was recorded during her solo tour in 2017, will be available at select cinemas, drive-ins, and exhibition spaces. The 24 Karat Gold Tour was one of my favorite tours I’ve ever done. Visit https://t.co/v65gvBXXoI for info.#24KaratConcert pic.twitter.com/skZ8UPHMFb— Stevie Nicks (@StevieNicks) September 16, 2020

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Tags: Stevie Nicks, who has been doubling as a public health commissioner amid the coronavirus pandemic, has announced that she’s releasing her concert film 24 Karat Gold in movie theaters across the world next month. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/FilmMagic

Tenet who? Tickets on sale Sept 23. It’s a journey. (so for all of the car-less people out there: Bite the bullet and call your local Hertz outpost now.) In addition to the entirety of Nicks’s 24 Karat Gold concert being recorded, the film, similar to the structure of Beyoncé’s Homecoming, will reveal “intimate storytelling and inspirations for some of the most famous and timeless songs and lyrics in music history.” Because who needs time inversion when you can get a front-row seat to America’s most tenured and sexy feud instead?

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Categories: Entertainment News

T’Challa’s Real Housewife Behavior, Explained by a Parrot Expert

Are these birds known for wanting to change their appearance?They spend a lot of time preening their feathers, so they do take care of themselves, and that’s quite a time-intensive process. T’Challa was seen holding some of Monique’s NARS makeup products, and she asks if he’s trying to put some highlighter on. It’s more that either their wings haven’t been clipped, or something freaked them out, and they didn’t know how to just turn around and fly back. They would do that with behavior, by assuming a certain posture, much more likely than they would by vocalizing. So it would potentially see her as its mate or start showing behaviors like that. Tags: It would possibly be interested in messing with [Monique’s] eyelashes or preening her hair, because they do preen each other. We actually produce something called Polly Vision, which is two hours of wild parrots just being parrots. Was this perhaps affectionate behavior, because it was willing to trust this particular housewife’s shoulder to perch on?It doesn’t mean that it was singling her out as being especially trustworthy so much as just a comfortable place to land. Typically living between 40 and 50 years, gray parrots are one of the most intelligent animals. Our parrots poop in their water dish all the time, and it’s like, You’re supposed to be so incredibly intelligent. One of T’Challa’s potential housewife taglines is apparently “I fly above the drama and shit on my haters.” Do birds actually shit on their haters?That’s pretty funny. Considering T’Challa’s rising star as a reality-television personality, we talked to World Parrot Trust executive director Jamie Gilardi to break down his housewife behavior. The idea was to show it to your parrot, because a lot of parrots are kept by themselves in captivity and they never get to actually see other parrots. Even during a season of torn bootyholes and baby daddies at the strip club, T’Challa has made his (claw) mark. It’s not likely that the bird’s going to attack somebody because Monique’s upset with them or something like that. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. I really don’t know. Parrots definitely are quite happy to watch television if there’s something on there that’s interesting to them. Cats are less interested in being playful than being predators, but dogs definitely seem to enjoy parrots. I’ve never seen parrots and fish interacting. T’Challa actually has his own Instagram account run by Monique. Especially if it vocalized a lot, because they really are switched on to vocalizations. So far, the bird has had a rocky relationship with Grand Dame Karen Huger, but it appears that the two are working out their issues. Do you have any guidance for those that might be inspired to get their own parrot after seeing T’Challa on RHOP?One of our big educational messages is that taking on a parrot in the home is a huge responsibility and can last for decades. You can’t figure out that pooping in your own water dish is not ideal? T’Challa recently went missing. There’s lots of things out there that are quite happy to eat a bird if they can get their hands on it. What’s your reaction to hearing he was recovered within a few days?Mostly relief for the bird’s sake and [Monique’s] sake, because it seems like she has a pretty good relationship with the bird. It’s not like they’re running away because they hate their home. Is there potential for interspecies friendship? Monique also has a huge fish tank in her home. So we strongly encourage people to think twice before they even get serious about contemplating taking one in. T’Challa, in a rare moment of camera-shyness. How often does this happen?It’s pretty common for birds to get out. That’s not them attacking the person or anything — that’s just them seeking a place to land. And while a lot of parrots can mimic other species, this specific type can uniquely imitate sounds that aren’t made by animals, like a creaking door or beeping truck. Earlier this August, T’Challa went missing, leading Samuels to post a teary-eyed plea for any information about his whereabouts, only for him to eventually return home. It sounds like she had a friend telling her what to do and she did what she could, but even if you do all the right things, it can be really hard to get the bird to come back. At one point, Karen jokes that the housewives are “starving and talking about eating your bird.” How would that have turned out?Generally, parrots are not thought to be especially tasty. It often doesn’t end well just because the birds get sort of further and further away, and they get more and more desperate, and then they get in trouble with a predator or whatever. But I don’t know of any parrots that do that. But there’s a scene from a few weeks ago when T’Challa flies up into the face of Wendy. If you go to YouTube, there’s a lot of that stuff out there. When they bite you, they bite hard and they draw blood and they can do some serious damage. If Monique is upset with another housewife, would the bird be able to pick up on that?It might pick up on those things and might be less likely to be friendly with those individuals if Monique is upset with them or showing some kind of strong emotion. Birds will, if they startle, they’ll often just try and find a shoulder or a head to land on, because that’s a pretty good spot to land. And there’s some videos and things of dogs and parrots playing around with each other. I don’t think the bird would perceive it as attempting to be eaten, but if anyone tries to capture a parrot and doesn’t know how to handle parrots, the person’s going to end up injured. Photo: Bravo

There’s one Real Housewives of Potomac newcomer this season who’s flying high: Monique Samuels’s pet bird, T’Challa. Within 100 miles of Washington, D.C., there are four or five parrot rescues with birds that are available for adoption because they’ve been produced but nobody wants them. That’s very common. And when the ladies had a weekend away at the Samuels lake house, the best and most meme’d moment of the episode was when T’Challa nearly attacked fellow newcomer Wendy Osefo. But it also might be that the parrot just sits there and doesn’t get involved. If other parrots are at home watching RHOP, would they be entertained seeing T’Challa on TV?If there were either a bunch of parrots or a close-up of the parrot doing something interesting, that might catch their attention. Like three chirps that are “bap-bap-bap” mean “pet my neck.” Could that be true?That’s pretty unlikely. There are some animals, especially primates, that definitely use their feces in an aggressive way; they will literally throw it at you. But no, they’re pretty indiscriminate about where they shit. They’ll vocalize if they want attention, but they would generally just sort of crank up the volume on whatever sounds they wanted to make rather than be making a specific vocalization to solicit a specific behavior. Yeah, I think the bird was just trying to perch on her shoulder, and she freaked out, right? Considering this parrot is so intelligent, is there ever a scenario where he’d be able to run it himself?I guess it depends on what you mean by running it. Parrots don’t seem to do that. In the most recent episode, Monique said she’s starting to understand T’Challa’s language. There are some birds that bathe in certain kinds of dust that has color in it, and so the birds themselves pick up the color in their feathers. We long wanted to come up with an app for parrots to be able to not only watch content from, say, YouTube, or something like that, but also to share content and communicate with other parrots via Zoom or Skype, because they definitely would respond to that sort of thing quite well. If you design the software such that it was a matter of pushing buttons and making choices about sharing this and sharing that and taking a selfie, with the right interface you could probably make it work. So even if it is picking up on that, it might not have a way of showing that. Probably not the sharks, because they’re not really bright. The African-gray parrot is a recent addition to the cast but has wasted no time stirring the pot in Potomac. Some of those fish might respond to the colors and behavior of the parrot. If the parrot’s bobbing its head up and down or something, it’s possible a fish would find that interesting. In some cases, it almost seems like they’re really unaware of where their poop is going.

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Melissa Villaseñor’s Lin-Manuel Miranda Impression Is ‘Drowning’

We’ve also enjoyed Melissa Villaseñor’s goofy, spot-on celebrity impressions on Saturday Night Live for years now. But the end result comes across a bit more “rejected new Sesame Street muppet concept” and less of the lip-bite king we know and love. The theory behind it checks out, too: She says, “The way he sings, it’s like he’s in the sea and he’s drowning.” No lie there. Wow! The look is there: The eyeliner goatee is spot-on. Last night, Villaseñor appeared on Conan to talk impressions, including Miranda. But Villaseñor’s Lin-Manuel Miranda impression may need some workshopping before Saturday Night Live begins its new season on October 3. Related

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Tags: During the chat, Villaseñor nails an impression of John Mulaney walking down the street and waving (it looks very sleepy and floppy) and revisits her magnum opus, Owen Wilson. It’s still a hilarious interview, though. We’ve listened to the Hamilton soundtrack for hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours, so we know a half-decent Lin-Manuel Miranda impression when we hear it.

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Challenger: The Final Flight Unpacks a Moment of American Hope and Heartbreak

They do what good documentarians do: contextualize a major moment in a way that clarifies it for people who weren’t alive when it happened and makes it more vivid for those who were. He, along with other children, were in the stands at Cape Canaveral. It would have been instructive to understand more fully how the efforts in the 1970s and ’80s either did or didn’t lead to more diversity. Space exploration, particularly in our popular culture, is still frequently held up as the epitome of American achievement. Even on a January morning when America may have felt, to some, like it was at its best, the worst could still occur. The series also devotes a lot of time to reminding us that the biggest tragedy in all this is that the explosion was preventable. At the end of the first episode, Leslie Serna talks about how her father, Bob Ebeling, an engineer at Morton Thiokol, the Utah company that manufactured rocket boosters for NASA, famously predicted that the Challenger would explode. NASA wanted its space shuttle program to make space travel seem possible for anyone, and Challenger: The Final Flight succeeds in making it seem like it could have been you, me, or anyone we knew inside that space shuttle when it ignited. It also serves as a compelling reminder that life, and our national mood, has always been fragile. Every engineer on the Morton Thiokol team agreed that the O-rings in the rocket boosters might not withstand the unusually cold temperatures Florida was experiencing in that final week of January. Abrams and Glen Zipper (Netflix’s Dogs), opens with a teacher wheeling a cathode-ray-tube TV into a classroom and turning it on so her students can watch the Challenger launch. Placing the opening moments in a hypothetical 1986 classroom evokes McAuliffe’s role as the relatable teacher tasked with sharing instructions from space. In the new four-episode Netflix docuseries Challenger: The Final Flight, debuting Wednesday, directors Steven Leckart and Daniel Junge don’t uncover startling new information about the lead-up to or aftermath of this tragic event. In other words, Challenger: The Final Flight provides evidence that many of the problems that vexed us back then continue to vex us now. As part of an established NASA effort to make space travel seem accessible to everyone, the Challenger’s seven-person crew included a Black man, a Japanese-American man, and two women, one of whom, teacher Christa McAuliffe, would have been the first non-astronaut to travel into space. There’s a lot more story that could be told than what this single season covers in four episodes. (See, among other examples, the recent Netflix series Away.) The desire to make our institutions more inclusive, as NASA attempted back then, remains a major societal focus now, and Challenger: The Final Flight reminds us why. The docuseries, executive-produced by J.J. The series shows us this but doesn’t comment on it. Piecing together archival material, old news footage, and interviews with relatives of the Challenger crew as well as engineers and others involved with the space shuttle mission, Challenger: The Final Flight unflinchingly captures the simultaneously ambitious and arrogant culture at NASA during the 1970s and ’80s as well as the sense of national pride and profound loss surrounding the Challenger’s mission. Photo: Public Domain/NASA/Netflix

The 1986 explosion of the Challenger space shuttle, which was nationally televised as much of the country bore witness, is one of the starkest examples in American history of hope instantly transforming into grief. William Lucas, the head of NASA who retired not long after the Challenger disaster, says he didn’t do anything wrong and, based on what he knew at the time, would make the same decision to launch again. The crew of the space shuttle Challenger. “I wish so badly,” says Russell, his voice catching as he remembers faxing the documents to NASA signing off on the launch, “that I had just said, ‘There’s a dissenting view here.’” Some former NASA leaders, however, don’t seem burdened at all. “For many of us, it was a loss of innocence,” says Peter Billingsley, the star of A Christmas Story, who served as the spokesperson for the Young Astronauts Program and wasn’t in class on that terrible morning. That segues into news clips from that January day and the Challenger mission in general, including the introduction to the press of the crew members: McAuliffe, Dick Scobee, Michael J. But the actual explosion is withheld until the end of the third episode in the series. As you might expect, there are plenty of heartbreaking moments in Challenger: The Final Flight, but Leckart and Junge refrain from overdramatizing things or excessively deifying the lost astronauts. But it also is a reminder of what a sobering touchstone moment the Challenger explosion was for many young Generation Xers, who watched it happen live in classrooms around the country. While the Challenger explosion may feel like a distant dot on the American timeline from where we are now, there are some parallels to the present. While NASA was clearly interested in expanding its astronaut pool beyond the usual sphere of white men, the space shuttle Discovery, the 1988 endeavor that marked the first successful shuttle launch post-Challenger, consisted of an all-white and male crew. Would have been, if a rocket booster on the Challenger hadn’t burst into flames on January 28, 1986, about a minute into its journey and caused the shuttle to break apart. Not seeing it until then, after the documentary has explained all the effort, optimism, and worry that led to those plumes of smoke in the sky, makes it all the more devastating. We see the moments leading up to the accident and some of the immediate shock and despair expressed afterward by observers at the Kennedy Space Center. The much-hyped mission was meant to stand as a marker of progress both scientific and social. Tags: Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik, and Greg Jarvis. All seven of those Americans, who have since had numerous schools and landmarks named in their honor, are depicted here as determined, special individuals but also human beings who were grounded despite their desire to fly thousands and thousands of miles above Earth. In a particularly tense sequence in episode three, a prelaunch conference call between NASA officials and leaders at Morton Thiokol is revisited and described by some of the men who participated. The dissenters were overruled, however, by managers at the Utah company and higher-ups at NASA who were anxious to get the shuttle off the ground after having to postpone its launch twice. Engineers like Brian Russell, who worked at Morton Thiokol, have clearly carried the weight of that decision with them ever since. Lawrence Mulloy, former manager of the space shuttle solid-rocket-booster program, puts it this way: “I feel I was to blame but I felt no guilt.” As good as Challenger: The Final Flight is as a docuseries, there are moments that shout out to be adapted into a scripted limited series in the mode of Chernobyl.

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Rainn Wilson Reminds These Actors That The Office Hated Their Auditions

As future identity-theft icon Rainn Wilson showed (and told, without beets) on Tuesday’s The Late Late Show, he was gifted the “original sign-in sheet” for the first day of auditions from the show’s casting director. 2003 was a simpler time, back when we could do things like “eat indoors” and freely “go to inessential businesses,” but it was also when casting was underway for a little work sitcom on NBC called The Office. “We can make fun of all of the people who didn’t get cast, like Adam Scott. You get to mock him for not getting cast as Jim.” Also on the sheet is Mary Lynn Rajskub as Pam, Hamish Linklater as Jim, and Alan Tudyk as Michael. Related

The Office Wanted to Break Up Jim and Pam’s Marriage for One Last Twist

Tags: “There’s all of these other actors as well,” he explained. While Wilson has us, he’s also going to reveal their most recent tax returns and actual heights. Wilson, who read for both Michael and Dwight, was also the very first actor to audition.

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Love Island Recap: Musical Beds

Cely continues forgiving Johnny, Justine jokes around with Caleb, and Carrington attempts to write a riddle for Laurel, all while the single islanders furiously scramble for any semblance of validation. • Running count of COVID references: 27

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Keep up with all the drama of your favorite shows! Hope you remembered to vote so your fave ladies can have a shot with three new casting barrel dregs tomorrow! Contact Tracing: Casa Amor

Meanwhile, at Casa Amor, the boys are treating their time away from The Villa like it’s a bachelor party with no wedding the next day, complete with the mindset that any and all new women exist solely to entertain them. Delusion is a helluva drug. It’s clear proof that Julio Torres’ Hand Acting Masterclass is an excellent investment for all your most savage villainy needs. Her personal brand is “mean,” and somehow he convinced her to couple up with him by performing six words of mission-trip Portugese. It’s time for yet another recoupling! Full stop. But don’t worry — Thursday will be two hours to make up for it. The tension is borderline xanax-worthy. The other girls act as Greek chorus, trying to steer her right, but don’t think for a second the entire villa isn’t patiently waiting for their sweet sweet catharsis when she ultimately goes home. First, Jalen probably just wanted to stay in The Villa and after Moira and Kierstan weren’t originally down, he saw Mackenzie as his ticket in. In the actual recoupling, it’s predictable — Cely/Johnny, Justine/Caleb, Carrington/Laurel — until we get to Calvin. Cely is not thrilled. She’s almost over it, but still cries. It’s mostly really awkward, then everyone overcorrects into absolute chaos. You’ve got your reality show power moves all mixed up. This unfortunately sort of works as he spins a tall tale about Mercades going after him and how their gooey smooches all over Casa were absolutely necessary in the name of gaining clarity. Cely fixes her own lashes and goes to comfort Moira’s tired ass because she’s an angel who no one in this poop parade deserves except for Justine. Carrington, your Utah is showing. In the sensible words of Cely, “WHYYYYYYYY?”

Recoupling Remix

Of course that’s not the end of that. Johnny is like “TikTok fiance, who? • Aaron’s favorite fruit is cantaloupe. Luckily, Caleb is here to cleanse our palettes with a sincerely adorable Justine reunion. And like everything else this year, the house always wins. We were given 120 minutes several times this week. After a very sloppy makeout, they move to the bed where Carrington puts his potentially bootleg Yeezys directly on the comforter and tells Mercades how much game she has. It’s a mess and the only thing you really need to know is that at one point, Mackenzie is trying to weasel her way back to Connor via getting his advice about Jalen, and even after Caleb tells him to sit down, Carrington trots on over and asks “can I steal him for a minute?” MY GUY! Now, he wants to pursue others (cough Kierstan), and quickly tries to take Mackenzie’s offhand request to talk more and stretch it into a big scary red flag without also bringing up her behavior with Connor. (*Whispers* For now.)

Cely and Justine spend most of their boo-free time focusing on their relationship with each other. Although his first picks were Moira and Kierstan, Jalen is psyched about Mackenzie. Someone needs to check on the hydration levels out there because there are signs heat-induced delirium is setting in. No further explanation is given. The bar doesn’t even exist anymore. With surprisingly little fanfare, she chooses to recouple with Jalen, leaving Connor to stroll in with her teddy bear in arm and his tail between his legs. Growing tired of their pre-licensed Sam Smith catalog, they made a few phone calls, flexed a music budget larger than Jeff Bezos’ pandemic earnings, and hired Hans Zimmer to score “Gus’ Staircase Return.”

Long story short, Moira recouples with Aaron, but it’s fine because Calvin comes in with Sher. Maybe she’s just thinking about how she could steal Caleb from Justine whenever she wants. Tayshia is 278 miles away in Palm Springs. Then it’s Mackenzie’s turn. Although already bedmates with Southern belle Laurel, Carrington catches Mercades in the bathroom after she’s starting to see the writing on the Johnny/Cely wall. Speaking of houses…

Contact Tracing: The Villa

We start this week off with The Villa competing against Casa Amor in a challenge where they’re given commands via simultaneous text message and have to race to complete them. We’re all just slowly slipping into acceptance with every new challenge. I cannot even imagine the content we’d get for $100k and whatever time is left in their contracts. A Conscious Recoupling

Finally, it’s time for the houses to unite for the recoupling ceremony. Jalen’s next and is visibly furious Kierstan’s off the table, so he opts for Sher. It’s perfect because she’s always furious; a match made in heaven! They eat two strawberries each and have conversations about their families’ expectations, then pragmatically discuss the logistical challenges of a relationship outside of the show. The whole thing is so refreshing and delightful, it momentarily blinds me to the fact that Caleb is wearing 47 bandanas glue-gunned together. But alas, trouble is already afoot with Mackenzie and Jalen. Aaron’s left with Mackenzie by default. Per usual, prizes are limited and all we glean from this is that the OG boys are bad at following directions, and Kierstan is only 23. Email

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Terms of Service apply. We have no idea what happened to Mercades, but I sincerely hope she and her IG mentions are okay. Love Island has no boundaries. Then, each of the OG guys gets to make a dramatic entrance like a ’90s rom-com female lead who just straightened her hair and removed her glasses, either solo or with a new boo. Ignoring Caleb’s sage advice that the stove’s still hot and you gotta give it a second, to exactly no one’s surprise, Johnny starts to threaten that Cely being mad for more than 45 seconds may hold their relationship back or some nonsense. Can we just let them split the prize money now? I have never been more grateful for country music stealing tonight’s time slot so we can collectively know a moment of peace. To his credit, Johnny is immediately like, “I have something to tell you,” because he thinks he can convince Cely that honesty absolves all sins. The opportunity for their collective vocal fry to merge into a single glottal note was too good to pass up. There are multiple things at play here. Signs of the End Times

• Carrington out of context: “Is that the place that’s super white? I’d like to say I used that time to do some breathing exercises and donate to a food bank because that shit is tone deaf and mad wasteful, but it’s actually just because I have emetophobia. And Cely won’t, either. In the words of Carrington, “your girl was definitely pushing the paper, but you’re signing every check.”

Oh, Carrington, an inspiration for us all. Kierstan opts to hold out for Carrington, who comes down the stairs alone only to turn around and beckon for Laurel to join him. He gives us blind hope that sometimes all it takes is a glob of hair product and a short trip down the road to completely transform your outlook, personality, and ability to deliver zesty, albeit poorly workshopped, one-liners. Doomed by foresight, Mackenzie’s fatal flaw is her own blind intuition. We were told 60-minute episodes with bonus footage exclusively on Saturdays. He claims he’s better for her than he was before. At some point, the notorious Love Island baby bird challenge occurs. Tags: One by one, each OG Villa girl has to stand up and decide if she wants to stick with her original partner or recouple with one of the newbies. • “She was hot” is the reason Jalen gives for why Mackenzie chose to sleep outside. Second, Mackenzie is feeling flat out misunderstood, being judged by a past she presently can’t control. Speaking of jokers, Moira learns that new guy Aaron also likes corgis (“DON’T PLAY WITH ME RIGHT NOW, THEY’RE MY FAVORITE!”), and that’s all it takes with her. Either he doesn’t want to be daddy after all, or he made pre-production use of the hotel’s HBO Max subscription to revisit Bill Paxton’s iconic role in Big Love. Someone get this boy a date for the sole purpose of expanding his produce horizons. Same situation with Johnny and Cely, minus the sincere part on Johnny’s behalf. (Okay, we knew this, but it’s easy to forget since her smokey eye mastery suggests much more time on this Earth.) The age situation does provide a little context, however, as to why Kierstan spends most of her time this week ignoring the new hotties and sulking around like a brooding male character in a Brontë novel, pining over Carrington and plotting a display of valor despite their mutual agreement to move forward platonically. We did not get Wednesday off. It’s honestly more surprising that we’ve made it this far without someone being genuinely hot in that shoebox full of sweaty night farts. THE END. We were told we would have Wednesdays off. Since this show doesn’t have comprehensible rules, Kierstan is now “single” although not yet booted. By “someone like Connor,” she probably means “wife guy who uses language suggesting he’s been to therapy, yet displays behavior suggesting the exact opposite.” But I’m just gonna assume she’s referring to how she’s not ready to settle down until she at least shoots her shot with Protozoa from Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. The only logical explanation for this is that he’s never tried any other fruit. Reserve your judgement, y’all, she contains multitudes — Mercades is a good girlfriend and “a freak for daddy.” Carrington muses, “I could be daddy…” but the next thing we know he’s in the shower with Laurel. He says he’s “tryna get some makeouts tonight” and makeouts he gets. And finally, we’ve got a classic tragic hero situation on our hands. I don’t even know the name of that place, I just know from Instagram, all the white.”

• Sher gets really stoked about a “very detailed grilled cheese,” but they don’t show said grilled cheese. For now, Jalen breaks up with Mackenzie, Mackenzie explains her frustrations that he oversold his feelings and should have been more forthright about his hangups, and then Jalen just says, “Noted.” Yikes. Love Island
Week 4 (Episodes 15-21)

Season 2

Episode 4

Editor’s Rating

4 stars

****

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Photo: Adam Torgerson/CBS

This recap covers the fourth week of Love Island U.S., episodes 15 through 21. They giggle, they have earnest conversations about their feelings toward Johnny and Caleb, they support each other with nuanced honesty and unapologetic joy. He chooses Kierstan because they have a sexy eye thing together. I need to know what “detailed” means in this context, since this is at least 14 times her baseline level of inflection or emotion. • In his only bit of screen time before he was booted, spiky-haired lawyer Pat mumbles “I don’t know what happened; someone bit me hard” as he nurses his face. And with that, let the messy catch ups begin! Mackenzie makes up for it, though, frolicking around The Villa as she realizes that even the slightest interest in Jalen probably means she isn’t ready for someone like Connor. Just kidding! I’ll give you something concrete to hate me for!” as he saunters around with Mercades, acting like an innocent little doe while she “seduces him.” Not buying it. Thankfully, Moira (who unceremoniously broke up with Aaron earlier) swoops in, puts on a cardigan, and makes it all about her! This time, it’s the guys’ choice and no one’s going home (yet). Sure, we could blame our already frayed nerves, but instead, let’s scapegoat the producers. The bros continue to paint her as manipulative (um, et tu, Johnny?), and in pushing against that, it becomes somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy for her. They have the strongest connection in the villa. Justine and Caleb finally get a date on a different, seemingly much higher rooftop. The rest of these jokers can keep running around in increasingly toxic circles, but we all know Cely and Justine will prevail. Connor picks Moira even though she’s Mackenzie’s best friend (who knew?). Terms & Privacy Notice
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Chris Rock Says Jimmy Fallon ‘Didn’t Mean Anything’ By Using Blackface

Who needs it? Responding to whether or not pulling blackface performances from streaming services is going too far, he says “If I say they are, then I’m the worst guy in the world. A lot of people want to say intention doesn’t matter, but it does. “I realized that I can’t not say I’m horrified and I’m sorry and I’m embarrassed.”

Chris Rock, like his pal Dave Chappelle or his pal Kanye West, sounds more concerned with PC culture. And he didn’t mean anything. Blackface is bad. “Hey, man, I’m friends with Jimmy,” he said. “Blackface ain’t cool, OK?” he clarifies to the Times, shortly before going back to his point. “That’s my quote. The crime drama premieres September 27 on FX. “Jimmy’s a great guy. Photo: MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Chris Rock seems pretty chill about Jimmy Fallon wearing blackface to impersonate him back in 2000. And I don’t think Jimmy Fallon intended to hurt me. I don’t feel this way,” Fallon said on the show. ‘I just assumed you liked cancer.’ No, no, no, I am so against it. Fallon faced major criticism for the resurfaced Saturday Night Live clip this past spring, but in a recent interview with the New York Times, Rock did not express concern. Sources

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Jimmy Fallon Apologizes for Blackface SNL Sketch From 2000

Tags: There’s literally one answer that ends my whole career.” Meanwhile, people who have done blackface still have their careers. You have to state so many obvious things you’re against.” In a world where climate change, vaccines, even the coronavirus can be denied, you sure do. It’s so sad, we live in a world now where you have to say, I am so against cancer. And he didn’t.” Back in May, Fallon apologized for the “offensive decision” in a tweet and followed-up in a June episode of The Tonight Show. Indoctrinate yourself with a good kind of make-believe, season four of Fargo, starring Chris Rock himself. “I’m not a racist.

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Cheer’s Jerry Harris Accused of Sexual Misconduct With Two Minors

The twin boys, who publicly identified themselves as Charlie and Sam to USA Today, filed a lawsuit in Tarrant County, Texas, court on Monday detailing their allegations. When they were around 13 or 14, Harris messaged them demanding that they “‘send nudes,’ expressly demand that these young boys send Harris child pornography, including pictures of their naked bodies, penises and buttocks.”

Because of the “manipulation” and their trust in Harris as a mentor, they “often reluctantly complied with Harris’s demands,” the suit stated. He also messaged them trying to meet in “secluded locations at various competitions, soliciting sexual conduct with these boys.”

In May 2019, Harris texted one saying, “Hey btw I found a place for us to do stuff it’s actually pretty good.” Another time, Harris said, “Would you ever want to ****,” court papers contend. “We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” a spokesperson for Harris said. “As of the date of this Petition, Plaintiffs are informed and believe and thereon allege that there exist open police and FBI investigations of Harris and Entity Defendants,” court papers state. USA Today first reported on these sexual-misconduct allegations. “Eventually, because Harris would not stop demanding oral sex, [Charlie] ran out of the bathroom and rejoined the rest of his teammates,” the suit said. The boys are listed as John HS Doe and John HC Doe on court papers. Harris, using his “position of authority and prominence,” asked for the “starstruck” boys’ phone numbers and social-media-account names. Harris has not been charged with any crime. They boys said they eventually learned that Harris “has multiple victims of his sexual exploitations throughout the cheer community.”

The boys’ mother allegedly found Harris’s messages in February. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.” The spokesperson did not elaborate on the type of investigation. Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Two teenage brothers have come forward with sexual-misconduct allegations against Cheer’s Jerry Harris, accusing him of sending them sexually explicit messages when they were around 13 years old — with one claiming that the Netflix star tried pressuring him into oral sex, according to reports and court documents. Harris’s misconduct progressed further, as he “exploited the fact that Plaintiffs were openly gay,” the suit further claimed. Despite [Charlie] refusing to submit to Harris’s demands, Harris continued to plead with [Charlie] for oral sex,” court papers said. At a national competition in Fort Worth in February 2019, Harris allegedly told one of the boys to “follow him to a secluded bathroom.” The boy, whom USA Today said was Charlie, “reluctantly complied,” to avoid a scene. The newspaper also reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating Harris, saying agents conducted a search of his Naperville, Illinois, residence on Monday. According to the suit, Harris “befriended” these boys in 2018 at a national cheer competition “both in person and via social media platforms” — when he was an adult. An attorney on this lawsuit confirmed to Vulture that these plaintiffs are the same two accusers who spoke with USA Today, which first reported on their suit. When the boys were around 13 or 14 years old, Harris “would repeatedly hug” them at cheer competitions. Asked for comment, an FBI spokesperson initially said, “Department of Justice policy prevents the FBI from commenting on the existence or nonexistence of any investigations that may be occurring. She reported the alleged misconduct to Fort Worth, Texas, police on July 10, 2020, and the FBI on August 8, 2020. In the bathroom, Harris “closed himself in a stall with [Charlie] … and started demanding and begging that [Charlie] perform oral sex on Harris. Soon thereafter, Harris started “grooming” them with texts and social-media messages that quickly turned “sexual in nature” — such as his requesting “booty pics,” court papers state. There is no further information at this time.”

When Vulture pointed out that USA Today quoted her as saying, “The FBI is conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in the area,” she replied, “I can confirm that statement is accurate, but not any connection to any specific individual.”

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Welcome to TV’s Cheer-ocracy

Tags: “Harris would also send sexually explicit photos and videos of himself to Plaintiffs, including, but not limited to photographs of Harris’s penis and body as well as videos of Harris masturbating himself,” the suit claimed.

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What Ali Siddiq Learned After His Prison-Riot Joke Blew Up

So when you try to be funny in prison and protect yourself, like, Yo, man, who you talking to? I always had the block smell like the pine oil that we had to clean up with. You try to be very elusive and not be seen as much as you should. Tune in to Good One every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. People would ask me questions that I felt were ridiculous and then I would, you know, try to figure out a way to handle it at that particular time. The library comes and drops off books or whatever. I’m everybody. I would mop the run. But I didn’t want to go into it from a space of “Yo, man, who you talking to?”

On How Comedy Has Helped Him Process His Time in Prison

Me and Tim Allen are viewed different with the same case: “delivery of a controlled substance.” The same exact case. So I’m the janitor for this particular closed custody. I’m trying to utilize what I’ve been through to help people from the position of “I was there.” To tell people who may be doing wrong things, “Hey, man. More From This Series

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Tags: You hide in plain sight. In 2015, when Ali Siddiq was asked to perform for the Comedy Central storytelling show This Is Not Happening, he thought he had a pretty good story about a particularly bad day early in his six-year stint in a Texas prison in the early ’90s. So I found that I was the same as when I was a kid. When you get out of prison, because you still have parole and somebody can say something and get you locked back up, you hide a lot. I hate the fact that people think that anybody can do what comics do, which is definitely incorrect. And I watched Martin with the intensity of a psychopath. It started giving me this attitude to where I didn’t even want to talk about it no more, because this is the reason I didn’t do it 17 years prior. And then I started feeling the weight of it. It was just a good story to tell at that particular junction. Now, it’s just given me this opportunity for people to know my disposition, and know how I am with certain things, and I think the way that I think. They get fed in their cell. I was the SSI, which is basically a glorified janitor for this closed-custody block. I would make sure that they had fresh underwear. It’s twofold: how good it was for my career to get established as a storyteller and how people gravitate to this story, but then it was very damaging to me personally. So when I became the SSI, I used to make sure that the block was clean. Then right before I get off, I’d be like, “It’s TV time!” And I would perform every episode of Martin. Just that realization of just knowing that you took something away in society; you damaged your neighborhood. You can read some excerpts from the transcript or listen to the full episode below. It was like I was walking above being someone who was incarcerated to come out and establish myself as something, and then do a story about being that, and then they go back, and now you want to see me as a prisoner, as a convicted felon, as a mistake that I made in my past? And that’s what I try to do with my comedy. So I’m very protective, and I try to explain to people: If you’ve never sat down and talked to a molester or a rapist or these people who have these mental sicknesses, you have to kind of listen to me because I was there with them. On Vulture’s Good One podcast, Siddiq talks about how he first developed an interest in stand-up during his time in prison, why being interesting is just as important as being funny, and the popularity of his This Is Not Happening story. I would watch and almost know every line on this show. Would I be in this position? So this is just a place that I was a little more charismatic and jovially sarcastic. I grew up on the back of the bus at school talking to my friends, telling a funny story. I would talk about the officers. Man, it definitely has taken the weight off of my shoulders of hiding. And this was at a time where I don’t think … people were talking about prison reform. That was my introduction into what I was thinking stand-up was. It’s given me that lane to kind of pay back some of my moral debt to society. It’s just the nature of an art form created in collaboration with the crowd, since the comedian develops a joke’s phrasing, pacing, and performance based on how people respond to it. You owe them better representation of a decent human being. Me and Tim Allen are viewed different. On the Popularity of His This Is Not Happening Story

Man, [when] that story got out, it was overwhelming. The audience was the one who decided it was great, turning “Mexicans Got on Boots” into a signature bit for Siddiq and a viral instant classic, with nearly 10 million views on YouTube alone. But how I knew that I was going to do stand-up when I got out, that that was going to be the pursuit of the duration of my life, was this guy named Rick. It’s helped me a lot to be able to pay back some of my debt to society. I couldn’t believe how this story took off and how people felt this story. I had always been this funny dude on the block, and I said, “I’m probably going to try to do stand-up.” And he told me, “Yo, man, I’ve been here like ten, 15 years, and a lot of people told me a lot of things — what they was going to do when they got out — and I never had thought about them doing it. Who you think I am, fam? Ali Siddiq
Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Getty Images

A stand-up can write a good joke, but great jokes are up to the audience. So you kind of owe your neighborhood something. Just like when I was doing NBC’s Bring the Funny, this guy wrote this article about “Ex-Convict Makes It to the Finals …” I was like, Yo, what that got to do with what I’m doing now? It took me back to having to get myself under control based on the advice that I got from people. Because every interview, people would just ask me ridiculous questions about being in prison, which prompted me to almost go back to the type of person I was when I was in prison. But when you said that you were going to be a comedian, I was like, ‘That matches your personality.’” Because he knew how I started. I use it when I’m talking to people about how to protect themselves in this society, where there’s women coming home at night and what they should have in their possession and how they should defend themselves, and knowing that a large amount of violent crimes happen against women. This is why I don’t do this type of material. Would I be seen as I am now, or would I be still trying to come up in the comedy game? Because people start to think that’s what you are. So when Martin went off, I didn’t have anything else, so I just started giving basically funny commentary about what was happening in the other places in the unit, or I would talk about certain inmates that were on the block that we were on. Now I’m like, See? Good One
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On How Prison Sparked His Interest in Stand-up

I didn’t know what it was to do stand-up. … It felt like they were taking the happiness away from that accomplishment and making me regret telling the story, and I don’t want to live under the shadow of regret. I never even believed it, like, that’s not what they’re gonna do. And they would just listen and laugh. Being funny around your friends, your family, is different than being in front of an audience of people that don’t know you. A lot of people didn’t take care of them like they should’ve because they’re in their cells 23 hours a day. And the janitors were so horrible — they didn’t care if they got fresh underwear, if they got fresh clothes, if their food’s hot. ’Cause I wasn’t seen as a “prison person” when I was in prison. And it’s like, yo, if I would’ve never told this story, I would’ve told another story. Like, if you say something disrespectful to me in prison, I’mma handle you just like I was before [when] I was in the world. It was actually a lot. He asked me what I was going to do when I got out. I still think that I owe society something. I didn’t know the mechanics of it — and that’s one thing that I’m very passionate about when it comes to stand-up. Nobody even asks Tim Allen about prison time. So I’m Martin, Tommy, Cole, Gina, Pam. They do everything in their cell. This is what you’re in for.” And I’m not going on what I heard; I’m going on what I’ve done. And these were people who were locked up 23 hours a day and had no TV; they don’t have no paper; they’re just in a cell. I would do all the characters.

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HBO’s New Docuseries How To With John Wilson Is Nathan Fielder Approved

In addition to Fielder and Wilson, Nathan for You alums Michael Koman and Clark Reinking also serve as executive producers on How To, just in case you had any doubts that this series firmly lives within the Fielder universe. The awkward contradictions of modern life are eased by Wilson’s candid, unpolished commentary, with season one’s episodes offering up his distinct take on a range of deceivingly simple topics.” As the new teaser trailer reveals, those topics include very important things, like small talk, scaffolding, and foreskin. And foreskin. First announced in August 2019, the six-episode series is from documentary filmmaker and “self-described ‘anxious New Yorker’” John Wilson. The show debuts on HBO on Friday, October 23, at 11 p.m., so get ready to learn a lot about scaffolding. It’s what the press release describes as “a uniquely hilarious odyssey of self-discovery and cultural observation.” How To With John Wilson centers on the host as he “covertly and obsessively films the lives of his fellow New Yorkers while attempting to give everyday advice on relatable topics. Related

Nathan Fielder + the Safdie Brothers = Your New Favorite TV Show

Tags: If you’re a fan of the unapologetic celebration of social awkwardness that was Nathan Fielder’s Comedy Central series Nathan for You, you’re probably also going to be a fan of the upcoming HBO documentary series he executive-produced, How To With John Wilson.

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Behind the Seams of This Year’s Emmy-Nominated Costumes

We made them happen as a team. “In film and TV, you have to be able to sort of be like water,” says Andrea Wheeler, a cutter/fitter for Westworld. I spent a lot of time on Esty’s wedding dress. It’s a gag; we’re not supposed to see blood, and her head doesn’t really get chopped off, obviously, but it’s supposed to be a representation of that. Maisel Lead This Year’s Emmy Nominations

Tags: Additionally, actors often have more than one of the same costume — especially if they wear the same thing for an entire episode or if there are stunts — but multiples are not always purchased at the same time, so a tailor might need to duplicate changes on a garment without having the original one (because it’s either currently on the actor or on a truck on the other side of the city). Another of my favorites — probably because it was such a haywire moment — was the samurai outfit, the armored costume. My job is so much more than just cutting a pattern and deciding how to construct a garment; it involves communicating with people, interpreting ideas, thinking outside the box, conducting in-depth research, as well as an understanding of fabrics and different construction techniques, and the ability to bring together many different threads to meet an often challenging deadline. There aren’t a lot of vintage offerings for people with nonstandard sizing requirements so we’d often have to make things from scratch very quickly. “People in general think, Oh, yeah, sewing a piece of cloth together, there’s not much work in that. Watchmen

Jared Leese, Head Tailor  

Photo: Mark Hill/HBO

This show was huge. I believe Orlando was happy with the result, too, as he said on his Instagram page that we were better than Savile Row. Westworld

Andrea Wheeler, Cutter/Fitter

Photo: HBO

One of my favorite costumes [from last season] was the gold transforming dress, which I did not engineer. I was lucky we had a tailor experienced in hand-tailoring on the team. Six of us worked through the entire weekend. [In film and TV] there are always instances of panicked last-minute work due to the approval process having to go through people who are producing many more than one show at a time. That was a situation in which we didn’t even know if they were going to have a costume on Monday. After much head-scratching, we called upon Ted Southern, who’s a mechanical genius, to help fabricate a mechanism to incorporate into the outfit that would extend up and shoot the bodice above the actress’s head in a quick second.  Pose

Yvette Helin, Head Tailor

Photo: FX

On Pose we get to build a lot, and the builds are fantastical. What she ended up doing was actually quite simple: two dresses connected at the waist. Because it’s a period show, you can’t just run out to the store and pick something up. We weren’t always building to dress a normal human shape. “People tell me I’m easygoing for a tailor because I have no problem saying, ‘Oh, you need me to literally drop this garment that I’m right in the middle of doing and run over there and do something else. She showed me a picture that inspired the idea of the carousel. Then her stunt double had two each of two of the versions. Each garment is marked with a tag that includes the actor and character names, the scene it will be worn in, what day that scene is supposed to film, and any alteration notes. Initially they wanted eight (for doubles and stunts) and we were like, “You’ll be lucky if you get two.”

The Politician

Ruth Stockl, Alterations Fitter

Photo: Netflix

My days [on The Politician] were split between taking a full set of measurements for new cast members, popping in and out of fittings as needed, and buzzing through a bunch of alterations and builds as they got approved. One had neoprene padding at the elbows, knees, and hips; one was action-oriented with extra gussets of spandex hidden; and the third was the pristine, just standing around talking, version. I made it from the waist down and she from the waist up. That was really fun, seeing something that looked super complicated end up being simple, clever engineering. The Marvelous Mrs. Unorthodox

Matthieu Niemeier, Tailor

Photo: Netflix

My day [on Unorthodox] always began with a meeting with Justine [Seymour] where we’d go over the day. One integral member of these teams is the pattern-maker or tailor, the person responsible for constructing the clothes as well as ensuring that every garment fits properly. Photo-Illustration: Vulture, Netflix, HBO, FX and Amazon Prime

“We’re not just seamstresses and tailors, we’re engineers and architects.” 

Although Emmy awards for costuming are typically bestowed to a show’s designers, supervisors, or a combination of the two, much of the actual day-to-day work of costuming a series falls to a larger team helping to bring those people’s visions to life. We spend a lot of time with our designer [Analucia McGorty] working out the details of her unique designs. The dress bottom consisted of a metal frame with a spinning horse carousel. Lydia Jakubowski came up with the mechanics of it. We were very excited when it worked successfully in rehearsals and all the things that Ana wanted happened. So many things happened [during filming] that no one could have seen coming, like the Sister Night leather hood stretching out under the hot lights. But there is a large amount of patterning that needs to be done. All the costumes for the show were really interesting, especially because of all the rules of how to dress [as a part of the Hasidic Jewish community], and what had to be worn on what day. When there weren’t fittings, I worked on whichever costumes were more important depending on the schedule. That was an interesting project, trying to find all the right parts. Okay.’ Not everyone can do that.”

The only real rule when it comes to working in TV and film is that things can and probably will change; every show presents its own set of challenges and problems to solve, and that extends all the way through to the hems, darts, and inseams on the costumes. Ana told me she dreamed of this dress. Even store-bought, contemporary clothing can require alterations; it’s not uncommon for a film and television tailor to shorten the hem of a T-shirt, add darts to the back of a men’s dress shirt, take in the waist of a pair of pants (or five), or completely take apart a garment, recut it, and put it back together, all in the same day. Which dress was visible was determined by how we folded it and how it snapped into the top. using a 3-D body cast of him, then brought to Atlanta where we were filming so Meghan [Kasperlik] could see everything. My biggest challenges [on Maisel] were usually because of oddly shaped background actors. So they’re not necessarily based on anything anyone’s seen or done before, and that’s really fun for us. We shared a big warehouse on a studio lot, which was great, as I got to be with the rest of the team for once (often I am in a janitor’s closet, balancing on the back of a truck, or in a spooky basement). The green caftan I made her sticks with me as a great example of how such a simple garment can be so beautiful when made in the right fabric. Sister Night had three different versions of her costume and two of each version. Tailors and pattern makers, also called cutters or drapers, tend to have very close relationships with their designers, but their contributions often go unseen by their very nature — as Carnival Row principal cutter Karen Francis Smith puts it, “My role is to realize [the designer’s] vision, not to produce my own.”

At the same time, “Tailoring is often underestimated,” says Unorthodox tailor Matthieu Niemeier. I have to credit my friend and tailor Alice Bee for pointing me to a source she found on eBay after I mentioned a part I was hunting for to realize the spin of the carousel. The carousel dress — technically it’s the Marie Antoinette outfit that Ana designed for Dominique [Jackson], who plays Elektra — Jen [Hebner, my second] and I built it together. And it was awesome. I made multiple options, going straight to fabric without first fittings so that she could try on finished pieces with Donna [Zakowska] to see how everything worked with the rest of her wardrobe. In the scene, the actress gets her head chopped off in a guillotine. Related

Animated Series, Variety, Docuseries, & More: Our Creative Arts Emmy Predictions

Watchmen, The Marvelous Mrs. You can imagine how chuffed I was. That outfit was redesigned on a Friday afternoon, and it was first up three hours away on Monday morning. There were 10 or 12 hoods, and we took them all apart, flatlined them with neoprene, and buried magnets into the wig cap and hood to keep them in place. I’m most happy with how Philo’s (Orlando Bloom’s) suit and coat came out. I try to explain that I have to make fabric that is flat into something that fits on a body, and it’s really architectural.”

Most costume departments have a rack (or racks) where clothing that requires alterations is hung. We had to create a garment that was not only beautiful but also represented Esty’s emotional state. Plus, Shira [Haas] had to be able to move because she had a long day of dance scenes while wearing it. The two-piece suiting was new for last season. [Jeremy] Irons’s costumes were made in L.A. One particular silk chiffon caftan I made for Georgina [Gwyneth Paltrow] took hours to cut because it was like working with smoke. Clockwise from top: Westworld’s transforming gold dress, the Unorthodox wedding dress, Orlando Bloom’s Carnival Row suit, and the Pose “carousel dress” represent some of the biggest tailoring challenges among this year’s Emmy-nominated costumes. That, along with my period cutting background, made the whole process a lot easier. Working on the show was a very collaborative experience; for instance, everyone was involved in the Cuban-dancer costumes: designers, shoppers, painters, everyone. No cutter on a project this size works alone, and a great team makes the job infinitely more satisfying. One that sticks out is creating perfect tailored garments for Agreus, whose fawn legs and posture meant that nothing sat the way it should, but who had to look the perfect Victorian gent. Carnival Row

Karen Frances Smith, Principal Cutter 

Photo: Amazon Prime

Carnival Row was challenging because of the different creatures [in the show]. All of that took a lot of time and thought. We make something that in the show they would have made from scratch or found, usually for the wild ball scenes. The wedding dress was a challenge because we had to capture visually the idea of what the dress symbolized in Esty’s journey. Maisel

Daniel Weger, Key Tailor

Photo: Amazon

I patterned and tailored all of Susie’s [Alex Borstein] looks. So we asked some of the tailors and pattern-makers who contributed to some of this year’s Emmy-nominated series to share some of their biggest, most rewarding costuming challenges. We had three different units and four wardrobe trucks, plus a unit shooting the Jeremy Irons stuff in Wales.

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Chris Evans Uses His Accidental NSFW Post for the Good of the Nation

“Things happen, it’s embarrassing, you’ve got to roll with the punches.”

Chris Evans addresses viral Instagram story in new interview on @TamronHallShow:“Things happen, it’s embarrassing, you got to roll with the punches” pic.twitter.com/qD1pYBP4uG— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) September 15, 2020

Related

Mark Ruffalo Reassures Chris Evans After He Accidentally Posts a NSFW Pic

Tags: “That’s called turning a frown upside down, Tamron,” he adds, superpowered charisma radiating through the Zoom call. Go check right now to make sure you’re registered to vote. In a short clip from his interview, Evans shrugs off the mistake. His Avengers: Endgame co-star Mark Ruffalo subsequently attempted to reassure him on Twitter that it wasn’t so bad, pointing out that nothing could be more embarrassing than the Trump presidency, which, okay, sure, but the internet is billions of people. Do it for Chris Evans, and the last 48 harrowing hours of his life. But Tamron presses a little more, even shutting down Evans’s business partner, Mark Kassen, when he tries to deflect. It wasn’t until Monday evening that Evans himself acknowledged the pic, or the mini-social media meltdown it caused. If he has to acknowledge it at all, the Knives Out actor clearly reasoned, might as well use the NSFW image to draw attention to a much more pressing issue. It was supereffective. Now that I have your attention🤦🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️….VOTE Nov 3rd!!!— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) September 15, 2020

Update, Tuesday, September 15, at 2 p.m.: Trying his best to address the situation without addressing the situation, Chris Evans went on Tamron Hall and smiled his way out of her line of questioning. You heard the man! “Something happen this weekend?” He used charm. Photo: Vera Anderson/WireImage

Over the weekend, Chris Evans lived every Instagram user’s worst nightmare, by accidentally sharing a glimpse of his camera roll to his followers, revealing, among other images, a photo of a penis. “Now the I have your attention … Vote Nov 3rd!!!”, Evans tweeted. They’re actually here to talk about their new platform, a Starting Point, which connects elected officials to their constituents, but first … “Look, it was a very interesting weekend full of lessons learned, a lot of teachable moments,” he offered.

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Taika Waititi Is Developing a Comedy Series About a Fancy Pirate

On September 15, HBO Max announced that it has ordered a new comedy series from director and executive producer Taika Waititi, called Our Flag Means Death. Photo: Kris Lori/imageSPACE/Shutterstock

If there’s a bloodthirsty air to it, you best believe Taika Waititi has made a comedy about it: Vampires, Norse Gods of Death, Hitler, and now, the next logical step, pirates. Related

Taika Waititi to Write and Direct a New Star Wars Film in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Tags: According to a statement, the show is “loosely based on the true adventures of Stede Bonnet, a pampered aristocrat who abandoned his life of privilege to become a pirate.” Some light research reveals that Bonnet was known as “the Gentleman Pirate,” for he was a very fancy landowning lad born to an English family in Barbados who nonetheless took to the seven seas, flew a flag with a little skull on it, and may or may not have actually made people walk the plank (historians debate whether or not he was an early adopter of that particular pirate trend). It’s the sort of costume-y fish-out-of-water story that seems automatically appealing to Waititi, but why do I think Waititi just chose to produce this series because there’s something hilarious about the first name “Stede?” Series creator David Jenkins will serve as show runner/cap’n. Don’t pirate his new show.

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Fall Movies Fantasy League Week Two Results: Candyman Flees to 2021, Scores Zero

Enter and you can look forward to an exciting autumn of endlessly refreshing Box Office Mojo and Rotten Tomatoes and quibbling over the precise definition of wide release. I would tell Dune owners not to be afraid, but I think they’re probably way ahead of me. The movie they had been counting on to save the industry managed to open to less than The Accountant did in the before-times? This week saw two popular budget picks do exactly what their owners drafted them to do. Alison Wilmore: 4 points (1 movie)t-7. This week in the Fall Movies Fantasy League, the house of cards is looking mighty wobbly. Related

Introducing Vulture’s Fall Movies Fantasy League

Fall Movies Fantasy League Week One: Tenet’s Roaring Start Kicks Off the Season

Tags: Rachel Handler: 26 points (3 movies)3. You might have expected HBO Max’s abortion road-trip comedy Unpregnant to score well with critics, and indeed it did, pulling in an 85 Rotten Tomatoes score to earn the critical bonus. My condolences to all the Candyman owners. Tolly Wright: 17 points (3 movies)4. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Universal Pcitures

In Vulture’s Fall Movies Fantasy League, contestants stake their pride, and the respect of their peers, on their ability to predict the tumultuous next few months of cinematic releases. Chris Murphy: 6 points (1 movie)6. Jackson McHenry: 13 points (2 movies)5. WW1984 remains in play for its owners, as does the Gerard Butler action vehicle Greenland, which just got undated, but more delays could see either one score a goose egg. Commiserate by saying “I should have drafted Antebellum” three times in your bathroom mirror. But, as it turns out, so did the micro-budget coming-of-age comedy Summerland (not to be confused with the Gemma Arterton film of the same name), which debuted on VOD on Monday to surprisingly good reviews. Finally, the weekend’s other movies, the Helen Reddy biopic I Am Woman and the Wil Wheaton nerd thriller Rent-A-Pal, both debuted to fairly disappointing scores, receiving positive but not earth-shattering reviews — though the latter at least earned some spare points for releasing in actual theaters. Universal’s horror remake was the fall’s first major release to leave the schedule. Katy Brooks: 28 points (4 movies)2. If more pans come in, that bonus won’t be around for long. Hunter Harris: 0 points (0 movies); Justin Curto, Neil Janowitz: 0 points (1 movie)

Staff fantasy-league teams are listed in full here. Things are likewise not looking too great for Warner Bros.’ other would-be tentpole, Wonder Woman 1984, which got pushed back to Christmas in a move that one might say slightly contradicts the studio’s public confidence in Tenet’s box office. And so, now that the crisis of theatrical moviegoing has proven it will not just vanish with frequent scrub-downs of socially distanced multiplexes, a few studios have gathered their shovels and begun burying cash in the backyard. In our opening frame, Tenet’s $100 million worldwide gross was enough to earn it the coveted box-office bonus. How many more will follow? However, we need to keep an eye out: Summerland’s 88 RT score comes from only eight reviews, so we’re in the realm of small-sample-size theater here. Vulture’s Fall Movies Fantasy League is open to all readers. It’s not all doom and gloom, though: Despite rumors that it would also be pushed, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune at the moment remains set for a December 18 opening. Now on to the movies that have actually come out! But witnessing its comparatively meager $20 million domestic opening, Hollywood executives began to tremble like Oppenheimer in the Jornada del Muerto. The first unlucky domino to fall was Universal’s Candyman remake, which was moved from October to an unspecified date in 2021, thus making it the FMFL’s first official blank. Here is the update for the staff league:

Week 2 Results

Jackson McHenryUnpregnant: September streaming release (4) + Hitting scheduled release date (1) + RT score above 80 (2) = 7 points

Total: 7 points

Tolly WrightUnpregnant: September streaming release (4) + Hitting scheduled release date (1) + RT score above 80 (2) = 7 points

Total: 7 points

Katy BrooksSummerland: September VOD release (3) + Hitting scheduled release date (1) + RT score above 80 (2) = 6 pointsCandyman: Pushed to 2021 = 0 points

Total: 6 points

Alison WilmoreI Am Woman: September VOD release (3) + Hitting scheduled release date (1) = 4 points

Total: 4 points

Chris MurphySummerland: September VOD release (3) + Hitting scheduled release date (1) + RT score above 80 (2) = 6 points

Total: 6 points

Justin CurtoCandyman: Pushed to 2021 = 0 points

Total: 0 points

Neil JanowitzCandyman: Pushed to 2021 = 0 points

Total: 0 points

Current Standings

1.

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15 Crews That Defined New York Rap

Rather than call it quits, Fat Joe put the crew on his back with a string of platinum releases that prominently featured all members of the Terror Squad. That One Song You Might Know: “Ryde or Die”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “Scenario 2000”

G-Unit

Members: 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, Young Buck, the Game

Borough: Queens

The Thing They’re Known For: Formed by 50 Cent after surviving a murder attempt, G-Unit is a crew and a brand that was born in the streets of New York but transcended those humble beginnings to make an impact globally. Few crews are truly great without a leader at the head, and many have benefited from having a capable leader willing to go to war alongside their teammates. Magic, Marley Marl, Roxanne Shanté, MC Shan, Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, Craig G, Tragedy Khadafi, Grand Daddy I.U., DJ Polo, TJ Swan

Borough: Queens

The Thing They’re Known For: As hip-hop’s first star-studded collective of talent, the Juice Crew All-Stars loomed large out of Queens during the ’80s, producing some of the biggest anthems and albums of their time. While many of Roc-A-Fella’s artists were originally from Philly, with Hov front and center, the crew was always identified as the pinnacle of a certain New York success and was considered one of the strongest crews that the city had to offer for quite some time. Known for rhyming about the harsh realities of street life over brooding beats, this starting lineup, along with other key contributors like Tragedy Khadafi and Cormega, banded together on various occasions, co-starring on each other’s albums and appearing in each other’s videos. That One Song You Might Know: “Simon Says”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “Fortified Live”

Roc-A-Fella

Members: Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, Sauce Money, Amil, Da Ranjahz, Jaz-O

Borough: Brooklyn

The Thing They’re Known For: After failing to secure a record deal with a major label, Jay-Z, his then-manager Damon Dash, and Kareem “Biggs” Burke took matters into their own hands, launching Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995. Later adding Castle Hill lyrical femme fatale Remy Ma to the crew, Terror Squad stamped themselves as hit-makers with their chart-topping 2004 single, “Lean Back,” but have since disbanded, with Fat Joe and Remy Ma continuing to collaborate as a duo on songs like the 2016 hit “All the Way Up.”

That One Song You Might Know: “Lean Back”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “Glamour Life”

QB’s Finest

Members: Nas, Mobb Deep, Capone-N-Noreaga, Tragedy Khadafi

Borough: Queens

The Thing They’re Known For: With a rap history as rich and storied as that of Queensbridge, for an artist coming from the area, the expectations for greatness can be stifling. (Terminate on Sight), in 2008, as well as multiple solo albums between its core members, G-Unit has been a home to various unlikely household names — including the Game, Mobb Deep, M.O.P., and others — a testament to the crew’s stature in the industry. Beginning with the release of Nas’s debut, Illmatic, in 1994, and followed by the arrival of Mobb Deep’s The Infamous in 1995 and Capone-N-Noreaga’s The War Report in 1997, Queensbridge was in full effect at a time when the competition for supremacy in NYC was thicker than ever. While the “Bridge Wars” between them, KRS-One, and Boogie Down Productions put them in the hot seat, the Juice Crew — which also introduced Masta Ace, Craig G, Tragedy Khadafi, and Grand Daddy I.U. Founded by RZA, with members GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Masta Killa rounding out the crew, the Wu’s 1993 debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), served as a rallying cry for the five boroughs, with songs harkening back to the days when kung fu flicks were the hot ticket for Black and brown kids on 42nd Street. While Rebel found success with his own single, “Computers,” and GS9 rapper Corey Finesse also gained traction, a 2014 indictment against Shmurda, Rebel, and other GS9 affiliates on charges including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, assault, reckless endangerment, and drug and gun possession abruptly halted the crew’s momentum. Melodie, Willie D, Kenny Parker, Jamal-ski, Harmony, and Scottie Morris all identified as members at one point, but they produced five albums before disbanding in 1992. Known for their usage of the moniker “A$AP” and their proximity to the worlds of streetwear and high-end fashion, A$AP Mob is a diverse crew with various sounds, styles, and personalities. That One Song You Might Know: “It’s All About the Benjamins”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “24 Hrs. As our weeklong debate continues over the songs and artists that have helped define New York rap, we’ve highlighted 15 of the most important crews and collectives whose (often brief) histories you should know, dating back to the genesis of rap culture. Native Tongues

Members: Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Monie Love, Queen Latifah, Black Sheep, Chi-Ali

Honorary Members: The Beatnuts, Brand Nubian, Shortie No Mass, J Dilla, Leaders of the New School, Mos Def, Truth Enola, DJ S.T.R.E.S.S., Da Bush Babees, Common, the Pharcyde, Vinia Mojica

Borough: Queens/Long Island

The Thing They’re Known For: Waving the flag for abstract, socially conscious hip-hop, the Native Tongues are a collective that helped shift the sound and look of hip-hop during their run as one of rap’s more popular collectives. Responding to MC Shan with the singles “South Bronx” and “The Bridge Is Over,” BDP sparked the infamous “Bridge Wars” with MC Shan and Queensbridge’s Juice Crew, which has gone down as arguably the most important rap battle of all time. Continuously expanding the crew, with key additions like Hell Rell, 40 Cal, J.R. However, when power struggles develop within a crew, it can ultimately become its undoing. That One Song You Might Know: “I’m Ready”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “Ground Zero”

Rawkus

Members: Black Star, Company Flow, Mos Def, Reflection Eternal, Pharoahe Monch, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Sir Menelik, Kool G Rap, R.A. When nothing is given and everything has to be earned, or even taken, to ensure survival, self-sufficiency is paramount. album, the Diplomats (also known as Dipset) gradually evolved from a Harlem street family and vehicle to introduce Jim Jones, Freekey Zekey, and Juelz Santana to the public into one of the most distinctive and influential brands in rap. The same mentality bleeds into the city’s rap scene, as artists band together to create crews and collectives to collaborate with like-minded individuals while moving as a unit. Recently, 50 aired out what he believes have been Banks and Yayo’s shortcomings since the group dissolved. That One Song You Might Know: “Triumph”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “Protect Ya Neck”

Bad Boy

Members: The Notorious B.I.G., Craig Mack, Ma$e, Diddy, the LOX, Lil’ Kim, Lil’ Cease, Black Rob

Borough: Brooklyn

The Thing They’re Known For: In 1993, after being jettisoned from his high-ranking position at Andre Harrell’s Uptown Records, a 22-year-old Sean “Puffy” Combs from Harlem, by way of Mount Vernon, was forced to bet on himself. Borough: Brooklyn

The Thing They’re Known For: Hailing from Brooklyn, the Boot Camp Clik’s true-school values and spirit of independence have helped the crew maintain a cult following. The utility players are equally essential to the success and longevity of a rap crew as the stars who (often deservedly) get the majority of the hype and shine. Often, these connections are happenstance and occur organically; other times, they are calculated chess moves that are mutually beneficial and occur with the passage of time. the Rugged Man, Punchline & Wordsworth, DJ Evil Dee

Borough: Brooklyn

The Thing They’re Known For: Launched in 1995 by then–Brown University students and avid hip-hop fans Brian Brater and Jarret Myer, with financial backing from James Murdoch, Rawkus Records waved the banner for grassroots, independent hip-hop during the late ’90s and early aughts. Love. Writer, Un Kasa, Jah Jah, S.A.S. Releasing Jay-Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, the following year, Roc-A-Fella earned distribution from Def Jam in a joint-venture deal, allowing the label to acquire and sign new talent. Building their standing in the streets with mixtape releases, by the following year, the Diplomats were bona fide stars, individually and as a collective, with their double-disc debut, Diplomatic Immunity, cementing them as a force to be reckoned with. That One Song You Might Know: “Hella Hoes”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “Full Metal Jacket”

GS9

Members: Bobby Shmurda, Rowdy Rebel, Corey Finesse, Ty Real, Abillyon

Borough: Brooklyn

The Thing They’re Known For: In 2014, Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda became an overnight celebrity after the music video for his single “Hot Nigga” went viral, leading Epic Records to sign him to a record deal shortly after. Where It Started At: The NY Rap Story

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Here are 15 of the most important crews and collectives whose (often brief) histories you should know, dating back to the genesis of rap culture. While A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg are the most popular members of the crew, multiple members of A$AP Mob have cultivated their own following, including A$AP Twelvyy, A$AP Ant, A$AP Nast, A$AP TyY, and producer A$AP Ty Beats. Regardless of the reason, these alliances reflect the core values those who grew up here uphold, resulting in some of the greatest music and defining moments that hip-hop has to offer. Running with the mantra “Independent as Fuck,” Rawkus proved to be the antithesis of the brand of commercially driven rap that was being pumped out by the major labels, including Bad Boy, Def Jam, No Limit, and Cash Money, providing an alternative with classics like Company Flow’s Funcrusher Plus, Black Star’s Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, Mos Def ’s Black on Both Sides, Pharoahe Monch’s Internal Affairs, and the Soundbombing and Lyricist Lounge compilation series. Founded by radio personality Mr. Featuring Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks, who’d been rapping with their friend Curtis Jackson since they were all teens growing up in South Jamaica, Queens, G-Unit placed its imprint on the mixtape game during the early aughts, monopolizing the market with classics like 50 Cent Is the Future, No Mercy, No Fear, and God’s Plan, leading to a label deal for the crew with Interscope Records. That One Song You Might Know: “My Mind Right”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “4 Da Fam”

A$AP Mob

Members: A$AP Rocky, A$AP Yams, A$AP Twelvyy, A$AP Ant, A$AP Ferg, A$AP Nast, Dash, A$AP Ty Beats, A$AP TyY, A$AP Bari, A$AP Illz

Borough: Manhattan

The Thing They’re Known For: The millennial generation’s answer to Wu-Tang Clan, A$AP Mob was formed in the mid-aughts by uptown’s A$AP Yams, A$AP Bari, A$AP Kham, and A$AP Illz. But at its peak, G-Unit was not just a collective or movement but a full-blown machine, one of rap’s legacy brands. With Jay-Z cast as a Brooklyn-bred wholesale cocaine merchant turned rap star, and Dash and Biggs hailing from Harlem, the home of the hustler, the label took on the persona of its entrepreneurial founders, as did a number of Roc-A-Fella’s signees and affiliates, including Memphis Bleek, Sauce Money, and others. With Buckshot and Dru Ha founding Duck Down Music in 1995, which has released the majority of Boot Camp Clik–related albums, and a track record for staying the course and sticking to their guns, the crew’s standing in the hip-hop community is unquestioned. Writer, Un Kasa, and Jah Jah joining the roster, the braggadocious swagger that the Diplomats exuded, along with their incredible music and street credibility, set them apart from the more commercially successful G-Unit in the eyes of many, a debate which rages on today and keeps them held in high regard years later. While dissension in the crew regarding breakout star A$AP Ferg’s status as a member recently made headlines and has yet to publicly be resolved, the Mob continue to collaborate on and support each other’s projects while cultivating and maintaining their own individuality. Shmurda, a member of the East Flatbush–based collective GS9, also helped secure rapper and fellow GS9 member Rowdy Rebel a record deal off the strength of his performance on the mixtape Shmoney Shmurda. A$AP mixtape. Borough: Manhattan

The Thing They’re Known For: First introduced on Cam’ron’s 2000 S.D.E. Striking a balance that allows for a democracy and less of a dictatorship is key. Known for their designer clothes, Champagne toasts, shiny suits, and penchant for sampling the oldies, Bad Boy was rap’s equivalent to the Chicago Bulls during that time. That One Song You Might Know: “The Bridge Is Over”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “Remix for P IS Free”

Juice Crew

Members: Mr. Unfortunately, in 2004, at the height of the crew’s success, Jay-Z’s fallout with Dash over creative and personal differences caused Roc-A-Fella and its various moving parts to splinter, resulting in the end of a dynasty prematurely. Led by former Children of the Corn member Cam’ron, the Diplomats, which includes core members Jim Jones, Cam’s longtime consigliere, Washington Heights–bred wunderkind Juelz Santana, and Freekey Zekey, Cam’s first cousin and the wild card of the group, made a big splash in 2002 upon the release of Cam’s third studio album and Roc-A-Fella Records debut, Come Home With Me, which featured the crew in a supporting role. However, Shmurda and Rebel, who both received five-year prison sentences, are set to be released in December 2020, and, with their credibility and popularity at unprecedented heights, look to be on the precipice of returning to unfinished business. With little more than two fledgling rappers named Biggie Smalls and Craig Mack, and a dream, Combs launched Bad Boy Records, which took the game by storm in short order, largely off the strength of its flagship artists’ solo debuts (Ready to Die and Project: Funk da World, respectively). That One Song You Might Know: “Da Bridge 2001”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “LA, LA”

Boot Camp Clik

Members: Buckshot, Smif-N-Wessun, Heltah Skeltah, O.G.C. While the death of the Notorious B.I.G. That One Song You Might Know: “Hot Nigga”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “Computers”

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Tags: The group only released one, critically panned, album and disbanded shortly after but continue to work together individually (most recently, the original lineup came “Full Circle” on Nas’s 2020 album King’s Disease). Having released eight studio albums as a group, with upwards of 100 studio albums between its core members and literally countless affiliates, the Wu-Tang Clan are responsible for one of the most memorable dynasties in rap and remain not to be fucked with. in later years — are considered hip-hop royalty, with a lineage that stacks up with the best of them. That One Song You Might Know: “The Symphony”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “The Symphony II”

Terror Squad

Members: Fat Joe, Big Pun, Cuban Link, Triple Seis, Prospect, Armageddon, Remy Ma, Tony Sunshine

Borough: The Bronx

The Thing They’re Known For: Starting as a local street crew in the Bronx, Terror Squad’s introduction to the music industry came via Fat Joe’s ascension in the rap game with solo efforts like his 1993 debut, Represent, and 1995’s Jealous One’s Envy making considerable noise. But the second wave of stars from QB — Nas, Mobb Deep, Capone-N-Noreaga, Tragedy Khadafi, and others — helped carry on the tradition set by the Juice Crew in the ’80s into the ’90s with some of the best rap music not only of the era but of the genre’s history. Melodie, Scottie Morris

Borough: The Bronx

The Thing They’re Known For: Given that hip-hop traces its roots back to the Bronx, when natives KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions misinterpreted a lyric from MC Shan’s 1986 single “The Bridge” as implying that Queens created the culture, they and seemingly all of the Bronx took umbrage with that presumed history rewrite. Building a buzz on the back of singles like Shanté’s “Roxanne’s Revenge” and MC Shan’s “The Bridge,” the Juice Crew reached its peak during the latter half of the decade, with albums like Biz Markie’s Goin’ Off, DJ Polo & Kool G Rap’s Road to the Riches, and Big Daddy Kane’s Long Live the Kane and It’s a Big Daddy Thing all hailed as instant classics. Releasing their multiplatinum debut, Beg for Mercy, in 2003, and its follow-up, T.O.S. That One Song You Might Know: “Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “Cession at Da Doghillee”

The Diplomats

Members: Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, Freekey Zekey, Hell Rell, 40 Cal, J.R. Formed in 1988, after the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul met following a performance in Boston, by 1989, the Native Tongues were a fully formed movement, with A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, and Monie Love also joining the fold. Dre and Trackmasters, did a slight change of course, forming the supergroup the Firm, which included frequent collaborator AZ, Brooklyn spitter Foxy Brown, and newcomer Nature (who replaced original member Cormega). Despite never recording an album as a unit, the Native Tongues’ list of collaborative efforts runs deep, and with a number of affiliates and honorary members having added on to the legacy with their own creative contributions — most notably Busta Rhymes’s appearance on A Tribe Called Quest’s 2016 release We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service — they remain one of the most decorated crews in the history of the concept. Serving as a home and breeding ground for a number of talented lyricists and producers, Rawkus laid a blueprint that has been adopted and refined by other indie labels, most notably Def Jux, Nature Sounds, Babygrande, and Mello Music Group, but was among the first to really champion DIY hip-hop. to Live”

Ruff Ryders

Members: DMX, the LOX, Eve, Drag-On, Swizz Beatz, Fiend, Infa-Red & Cross

Hometown: Yonkers

The Thing They’re Known For: As many of their peers were content with getting jiggy and basking in the glitz and glamour of stardom, the Ruff Ryders were dedicated to putting on for the streets, cultivating a moment that would put the final nail in the coffin for “the Shiny-Suit Era.” Led by DMX, whose multiplatinum 1998 debut solo album, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, and its follow-up just seven months later that same year, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, minted him as a megastar and helped put Yonkers on the map, the Ruff Ryders also included key members the LOX, Philly’s Eve, super-producer Swizz Beatz, and scrappy spitter Drag-On, all of whom reached commercial success during the late ’90s and early aughts. Releasing upwards of a dozen platinum- or gold-certified albums, the Ruff Ryders are a respected brand that embodies the heart and grit that comes with the territory of being a New Yorker. Spearheaded by Brooklyn trio Black Moon’s front man, Buckshot, during the making of Black Moon’s 1993 debut album, Enta Da Stage, Boot Camp Clik consists of the groups Smif-N-Wessun, Heltah Skeltah, and O.G.C., all based out of the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. The constant overlap gave QB’s rap scene a familial feel. Featuring Cuban Link, Triple Seis, Prospect, Armageddon, and Tony Sunshine, the group, comprised solely of Latin Americans, brought a unique dynamic to the rap game, infusing their cultural roots into their music. But after releasing their debut, The Album, in 1999, tragedy struck when Big Pun died of a heart attack in 2000 at age 28, creating an air of uncertainty about the group’s future. But an equally tactical way to navigate the terrain is to find strength in numbers. Brokering a revolutionary deal with then-fledgling imprint and future rap-industry powerhouse Loud Records, which allowed each individual member to negotiate and sign solo deals with any other record label of their choice, the Wu dominated the mid-’90s with landmark solo releases from Method Man (Tical), GZA (Liquid Swords), Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version), Raekwon (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…), and Ghostface Killah (Ironman). But after BDP founding member Scott La Rock’s murder following the release of the group’s seminal 1987 debut, Criminal Minded, KRS-One changed course, launching the Stop the Violence Movement and pivoting to sociopolitical issues beginning with 1988’s By All Means Necessary. However, it wasn’t until the addition of future Bronx legend Big Pun, who broke ground and barriers with his own solo debut, 1998’s Capital Punishment, that Terror Squad truly gained traction as a group with the potential to foster a movement. However, in 2000, Nas reverted back to business as usual, teaming up with Tha Mobb, C-N-N, Tragedy & Co. Based out of Harlem, with a number of members also hailing from the Bronx, A$AP Mob gained traction in 2011 with the release of A$AP Rocky’s Live. (Fif and G-Unit are often credited as one of the first artists to release their own mixtape to help market and promote themselves, a model still popular today.) By featuring them prominently on his own debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, in 2003, 50 Cent positioned Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, and new recruit Young Buck as next to blow. Accounting for classic albums like Smif-N-Wessun’s Dah Shinin’, as well as multiple hit singles — most notably the Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C. in 1997 devastated Bad Boy’s dominant run, the saga continued, with Ma$e and Puff taking control of the wheel with their own multiplatinum debuts, Harlem World and No Way Out, that same year, and the LOX building on that momentum with 1998’s Money, Power & Respect. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Clarence Davis/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

In a city that’s as cutthroat as they come, New Yorkers are required to adopt a sense of resiliency from an early age. collaboration “Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka” — whereas other crews out of Brooklyn aspired to emulate mafioso themes, Boot Camp Clik were unapologetically Brooklyn, from their Timberland boots to their army fatigues and Polo rugby shirts. With many of those same artists continuing to add to the fabric of their respective legacies in 2020, the love and nostalgia for that first incarnation of the Bad Boy family remains thick. In 1997, Nas, along with Dr. Inspired by the burgeoning underground scene in New York City at the time, Rawkus was headlined by some of the premier talent from the local circuit, including Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Company Flow, and Organized Konfusion member Pharoahe Monch. Over the years, Boogie Down Productions’ lineup was in constant flux, with D-Nice, Ms. Not one to rest on his laurels, Combs recruited additional talent, most notably uptown’s Ma$e, the LOX, and Black Rob, while Lil’ Kim and Lil’ Cease, standouts from Biggie’s own group, Junior M.A.F.I.A., were also closely linked and associated with the label. Also a testament to 50 Cent’s polarizing personality, G-Unit experienced its share of internal turmoil over the years, including former member the Game’s unceremonious dismissal live on Hot 97 after butting heads with Fif and Young Buck’s recurring love-hate relationship with the crew. once again and unleashing the compilation Nas & Ill Will Records Presents QB’s Finest, a celebration of the housing project’s lineage that served as the apex of Queensbridge’s run as a dominant faction. That One Song You Might Know: “Poppin’ Them Thangs”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “Bad News”

Boogie Down Productions

Members: KRS-One, Scott La Rock, D-Nice, Willie D, Kenny Parker, Jamal-ski, Harmony, Ms. The city has seen it time and time again: Everyone from the Juice Crew of the ’80s to the GS9 of the ’10s is a constant reminder of the importance of crew love and how quickly things can go south without it. That One Song You Might Know: “Scenario”

That One Song You Gotta Know: “Buddy (Native Tongue Decision)”

Wu-Tang Clan

Members: RZA, GZA, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Raekwon, Masta Killa, Cappadonna

Borough: Staten Island

The Thing They’re Known For: At a time when New York City was questioning its identity in the face of the West Coast’s emergence as a dominant force in hip-hop, nine emcees based out of Staten Island came together as the Wu-Tang Clan to revolutionize and challenge all we had come to know and expect of rap music. Magic, and cultivated by Marley Marl and Tyrone “Fly Ty” Williams, the Juice Crew included Roxanne Shanté, MC Shan, Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, and Kool G Rap, all of whom were signed to Williams’s Cold Chillin’ Records. They released Lords Never Worry, their first project as a unit, in 2012, and have since released two volumes of their Cozy Tapes series.

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Booker Prize Shortlist Announced, Noticeably Short on Hilary Mantel

Set right before the second Italo-Ethiopian War, it tells the story of a woman who guards the titular “shadow king,” a man impersonating an exiled Ethiopian leader. Today, the shortlist for the Booker Prize was announced, and it is comprises six authors, none of whom, almost shockingly given the recent history, are Hilary Mantel. Related

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Tags: Four are debut authors, four are women, and four are people of color, which makes the shortlist the most diverse group ever in consideration for the Booker. They are Diane Cook, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Avni Doshi, Maaza Mengiste, Douglas Stuart, and Brandon Taylor. They are also, however, and more importantly, a history-making group of writers for the prize. The time of year when the lists of books being considered for famed literary prizes begin circulating to remind you that no matter how many books you read during the pandemic — 2 or 200 — there are simply too many books and not enough hours in the day. Dangarembga’s This Mournable Body is the third and final installment in a trilogy that tells the story of Tambu, a woman navigating postcolonial Zimbabwe. (Dangarembga, who is Zimbabwean, was arrested in Harare, the nation’s capital, in July while protesting government corruption.) Mengiste’s The Shadow King is the Ethiopian American writer’s second novel. The Booker Prize winner will be announced on November 17. (Her first, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was published back in 2010.)

The other four writers are all making their debuts: Diane Cook for her dystopian The New Wilderness; Douglas Stuart with Shuggie Bain, a portrait of a tumultuous childhood in 1980s Scotland marked by addiction and violence; Brandon Taylor’s Real Life, which chronicles a Black gay college student; and Avni Doshi for Burnt Sugar, a tale of a daughter and mother trying and struggling to make sense of each other. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Courtesy of Publishers

It’s that time of year again.

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Michelle Buteau Is the Perfect Mix of Beyoncé and DMX

In the trailer, Buteau tells the crowd that she discovered late in life that she’s the “achievable Beyoncé for government workers. “Like, I’ll be making breakfast, and I swear to God, I feel like he just hears DMX: ‘HOW YOU WANT YOUR EGGS!?’”

Wanda Sykes is credited as an executive producer on Buteau’s special, which was directed by Page Hurwitz, who produced Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready. Comedian Michelle Buteau has a new Netflix gig — a stand-up special, titled Welcome to Buteaupedia — and the streaming network dropped the first trailer today. Her refreshingly honest approach reminds us to appreciate government workers named Otis and, most important, that character counts. Welcome to Buteaupedia debuts on Netflix in two weeks on Tuesday, September 29. I don’t know about you, but I can make a government worker work a holiday. Taped at New York City’s Sony Hall in early March, back when you could still do that sort of thing, Welcome to Buteaupedia marks the comedian’s hour-long stand-up-special debut and features Buteau performing “a dynamic hour of comedy that delves into parenthood, cultural differences, and the overlooked value of short men. “My husband’s very sweet. You know, I’m from Jersey, and he thinks I sound aggressive all the time,” she says. That’s power, bitch!” Later in the trailer, Buteau compares herself to another music legend. Related

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Before Pun Went Platinum: The Unsung History of New York Latinx Rap

82. Half Cuban and half Puerto Rican, he became Disco Wiz, the first Latin DJ in hip-hop. Meanwhile, a Queens–based duo called the Beatnuts had begun making moves behind the boards. But the real story begins years before that landmark event. But Represent refocused things on the reality of the city’s Black and Latinx cohabitation and the ways in which the various cultures within these communities — and their criminally minded subsets — were inextricably linked. Compared to his prior food-based singles, comedian Weird Al Yankovic’s 1992 parody version “Taco Grande” felt less like a tribute than it did an outright insult. That party, and other similar uptown functions, brought together both Black and Latinx gang members along with their friends, siblings, and cousins. With lyrics that affirm both his South Bronx bonafides and his Puerto Rican heritage, the track showcases the then-23-year-old Diggin’ in The Crates rapper’s raw and profane style (as does the rest of the largely Diamond D–helmed album). That would prove a hallmark of Joe’s subsequent, and more commercially successful, recordings. Still, the sound of hip-hop boomed through the streets of New York City, especially in neighborhoods where Black and Latinx residents lived. But their production touched two incredibly important recordings of the time which, while not tremendous sales successes, set the stage for the decade’s eventual platinum-certified Latin rap superstar, Big Pun. Regrettably, the coastal rivalries between East and West — beef that was sometimes complicated by gang affiliations — tended to silo these artists and their peers’ potential for national recognition. But make no mistake: The Latinx community was a part of New York City hip-hop from the start. Accessible without compromising his authenticity, “I’m Kurious” and “Uptown Shit” swung with the best of what appeared on the radio at the time, though A Constipated Monkey couldn’t quite get to that RIAA gold threshold. Nonetheless, when Big Pun emerged just a couple of years later on Fat Joe’s Jealous One’s Envy standout “Watch Out,” it was hard not to tell where he came from in the hip-hop tradition. As the 1980s transitioned into the 1990s, rappers Kid Frost and Mellow Man Ace began to establish themselves in Los Angeles with their respective albums Hispanic Causing Panic and Escape From Havana. He spent four and a half years behind bars and lost much-needed momentum at a critical point in hip-hop history.) With known roots in the gang known as the Black Spades, Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force pushed a more Afrocentric vision of the genre via the standout singles “Looking For The Perfect Beat” and “Planet Rock” (though his Universal Zulu Nation organization did include Latinx members, most notably on the breakdancing side). 1993 gave us albums like Onyx’s Bacdafucup, Black Moon’s Enta da Stage, and the Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Even the Google Doodle people recognize DJ Kool Herc’s August 11, 1973 “Back to School Jam” at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue as the birthplace of hip-hop. Fights between rival groups were typically bloody, and the violence limited the ability of young Black and brown people to between — or leave — these neighborhoods. And while it certainly didn’t put an end to violence in the city, the multi-gang treaty that emerged from this unprecedented gathering allowed for something like the Back to School Jam to be possible. Though not shying away from his heritage, his savvy rebrand as the overweight lover type with a thuggish streak defined both that album and its 1995 successor, Love Daddy. Prince Whipper Whip and Ruby Dee — both vocal members of Grandwizard Theodore’s seminal Fantastic Five — represented with pride at the start of the decade on 1980’s seminal single “Can I Get A Soul Clap.” DJ Charlie Chase of the Cold Crush Brothers would regularly infuse the sounds of Latin music into his routines and later on his vital WBLS radio broadcasts — though his most visible contributions to Charlie Ahearn’s 1983 rap film Wild Style and its soundtrack were about scratches, not salsa. If nothing else, it reflected a public appetite for the kind of hardcore hip-hop Joe was slinging. With a jazz-flecked beat closer to Prince Paul than RZA, he made a good first impression ahead of the following year’s A Constipated Monkey. An attendee of the event, local DJ Luis Cedeño aligned with his friend Grandmaster Caz and formed the Mighty Force crew. There’s a lyrical whimsy in his rhyming style, well-suited for a jokester who can also out-rap anyone in his immediate vicinity. Street gangs largely organized around ethnic and racial lines engaged in territorial battles. Dropping mere months ahead of his labelmate Nas’s Illmatic, Kurious’s full-length debut owes more to the Beatnuts than Fat Joe’s Represent did. Following a particularly violent series of incidents that led to the 1971 murder of Cornell “Black Benjie” Benjamin, a prominent Puerto Rican leader in the socialist-minded gang Ghetto Brothers, a peace meeting was held at the Boys Club on Hoe Avenue in the Bronx. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images

By now, any hip-hop fan worth their kicks ought to know where this music comes from. Despite the undeniable history of Latinx contributions to hip-hop, the visibility of Latinx people in the 1980s NYC hip-hop scene was surprisingly limited. Though likely unintentional, Gerardo’s 1990 Billboard Hot 100 charting hit “Rico Suave” slighted these sincere and street-wise contributions to the hip-hop conversation with Spanglish–reinforced stereotypes. As a member of the Fat Boys, Puerto Rican emcee Prince Markie Dee served as one of the few exceptions— though the Brooklyn group’s massive crossover singles with the Beach Boys and Chubby Checker didn’t exactly play up his background. Related

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Tags: Indeed, New York was flush with like-minded, street-oriented music. Now a solo artist moving past the novelty of the Fat Boys’ Disorderlies–era peak, Prince Markie Dee dropped the aptly titled Free as his 1992 debut. In the Bronx (as well as upper Manhattan and other outer boroughs), white flight to the suburbs, a dearth of economic opportunity, and the effective ghettoization of Black and Latinx New Yorkers from the 1960s into the 1970s left the city’s neediest communities in dire straits. Even as Cypress Hill proved with their multi-platinum 1991 eponymous LP and its even-more-successful 1993 follow-up Black Sunday that mainstream acceptance for non-novelty Latinx hip-hop artistry was in fact possible, New York lacked a comparable parallel. Their takeover meant that the public face of hip-hop often looked exclusively Black, especially to white outsiders. (Disco Wiz, tragically, was charged with attempted murder in 1978. Reggaeton would become a movement of its own in the 2000s, and Latin trap made such an indelible dent in streaming in the 2010s that even English–speaking superstars would enlist their talents to get a piece. Comprised of JuJu, who is Dominican, and Psycho Les, who is Colombian, the pair would eventually drop a project of their own. In subsequent decades, the Latinx presence in hip-hop continued to bloom. Where It Started At: The NY Rap Story

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When Big Pun emerged, it was hard not to tell where he came from in the hip-hop tradition. His rhymes across Represent exist as a darker and more youthful yang to Prince Markie Dee’s contemporaneous pop-wise yin, though the future Terror Squad majordomo certainly wasn’t opposed to hollering at the ladies on “Shorty Gotta Fat Ass.”

Though Represent didn’t make big waves on the Billboard 200, the single “Flow Joe” charted on the Hot 100, peaking at No. The Beatnuts’ rugged rhythm behind “This Shit Is Real” sits on the back half of Fat Joe Da Gangsta’s 1993 debut Represent for the Sony Music–acquired Relativity imprint. Inheriting the labor of his immediate predecessors, his proprietary blend of innately gifted humor and hood-hardened heft echoed Kurious’s and Fat Joe’s respective skill sets — as well as their commitment to wearing their ethnic pride on their sleeves. Around the same time as Free, Afro–Latinx rapper Chino XL was only just starting to make some noise as half of Art of Origin with Rick Rubin’s post–Def Jam sub-imprint, Ill Labels, within American Recordings. To a lesser extreme, Puerto Rican and Cuban rapper Kurious had also seen some success when he threw his Harlem–worn cap into the ring the year prior, in 1992, with another Beatnuts production. Nonetheless, in these early stages, as the genre began to grow beyond the confines of block parties and public park jams, Latinx people naturally remained an essential part of the listenership and support network even if they weren’t represented by the prevailing artists of the period. Many of the original crews splintered (as was the case of the Treacherous Three’s Kool Moe Dee), fizzled out, or were supplanted by comparatively newer acts like Run-D.M.C. But for the uninitiated (or those too young to remember when local crew Boogie Down Productions heralded it in song), the South Bronx invented a genre that became a movement that became the biggest sound in the known world. Released as part of a partnership between Columbia Records and Hoppoh, the imprint of DJ Bobbito and 3rd Bass member Pete Nice (an auspicious pair), his “Walk Like a Duck” single talks smack from the block the way only someone from the block can.

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Showtime Mission to Moonbase 8 Lands in November

The show’s journey to television is now almost over, because today Showtime dropped the trailer for the series and also announced the premiere date. Related

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Tags: While working vigorously to complete their training, a series of unexpected circumstances forces the astronauts to question their own mental sanity, trust in each other, and whether or not they’re cut out for space travel.” As the trailer reveals, some of the trio’s said “attempts” to qualify for their dream moon mission include confusing the water tank with the urine-recycling machine, not knowing how to properly count down to a launch, and for Heidecker’s character, working toward his life’s mission to “help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ out into the universe.” Moonbase 8 will make its Showtime debut on Sunday, November 8, at 11 p.m., and if the trailer is any indication, it just might prove that TV comedies set in space in 2020 can, actually, be good. It’s been a long journey for Tim Heidecker, Fred Armisen, John C. The six-episode, half-hour series, produced by A24 and Heidecker’s company Abso Lutely, centers on Heidecker, Armisen, and Reilly as three “eager astronauts” at NASA’s Moon Base Simulator in the Arizona desert who “attempt to qualify for their first lunar mission. Reilly, and Jonathan Krisel’s new comedy series Moonbase 8, which was first put into development in April 2018 before finding a home on Showtime in August.

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The Mandalorian Season 2 Trailer: Where Baby Yoda Leads, We Will Follow

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Tags: May the force continue to be with this: The trailer for The Mandalorian season two has been unveiled, with the iconic duo of Baby Yoda (puppet) and the titular, eternally helmet-ed gunfighter (Pedro Pascal) taking their buddy dramedy to even further depths of the galaxy. Don’t have Disney+ yet? Reuniting our little green fella with “its own kind,” even though, as pretty much everyone in the trailer realizes, they have no idea what its own kind is. The new season will begin streaming on Disney+ on October 30. “You expect me to search the galaxy,” our Mandalorian says, “and deliver this creature to a race of enemy sorcerers?” In this climate? Baby Yoda, for his part, is being very helpful by floating around in his bassinet and cooing on command. The goal?

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Kanye West Says He Won’t Release Music Until Out of Universal and Sony Contracts

I need to see everybody’s contracts at Universal and Sony I’m not gonna watch my people be enslaved I’m putting my life on the line for my people The music industry and the NBA are modern day slave shipsI’m the new Moses— ye (@kanyewest) September 15, 2020

West later tweeted a screenshot of a text exchange with someone, planning a case against Universal and Sony. West is turning his attention back to his music career as his still-ongoing presidential campaign continues to unravel, with West’s team off the ballot in Wisconsin after missing the filing deadline by 14 seconds. He also said he was waiting on a meeting with “Sean Carter” — a.k.a. Photo: Michael Wyke/AP/Shutterstock

We guess no one man — or record company — should have all that power. He’s teased new music throughout the summer, but we stopped trusting this man’s release dates a while ago. “Re masters ownership we can also look into buying. In more deleted September 14 tweets, West also asked for apologies from Drake and J. “I’m not putting no more music out till I’m done with my contract with Sony and Universal,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet. West’s end goal may be to gain ownership of his masters, as he later tweeted, “My kids gonna own my masters.” Maybe he has a friend he could ask about that? “We can argue that Universal and Sony have not supported you fully,” they wrote. “Shawn” Carter, as he corrected himself (“no disrespect to my big bro”), a.k.a. In a series of tweets on September 14, Kanye West said he wants out of his deals with Universal Music Group and Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Watch the Throne 2? Related

Welcome to the ‘New’ Kanye Narrative

Tags: “On God … in Jesus name … come and get me ⛷.” “I need to see everybody’s contracts at Universal and Sony,” he added in another tweet. “I’m not gonna watch my people be enslaved.” He continued, “The music industry and the NBA are modern day slave ships,” and claimed he’s “the new Moses.” Which, okay. But if Taylor’s cost $300 million yours would cost a lot more I assume.” The team member also suggested an “equal” partnership with Universal, like “a Yeezy Media/Universal joint venture,” but West replied, “I’m not open to any form of business with Universal or Sony.” Captioning the screenshot, he wrote, “No one from Universal or Sony has responded so it’s Go time.”

No one from Universal or Sony has responded so it’s Go time pic.twitter.com/k5K0c1t4eF— ye (@kanyewest) September 15, 2020

West didn’t say why he wants out of his deals with Universal and Sony, although he did settle a publishing dispute with Sony-owned EMI Publishing out of court in January. Jay-Z. Cole.

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Categories: Entertainment News

All the Winners From Night One of the Creative Arts Emmys

It’s all leading up to the Primetime Emmys this Sunday, September 20. Byer, who made history this year as the first Black woman ever nominated for Outstanding Host of a Reality or Competition Program, hosts all five nights, then passes it off to Jimmy Kimmel. Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction SpecialThe ApolloBeastie Boys StoryBecomingThe Great HackLaurel Canyon: A Place in Time

Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or SpecialLeah Remini: Scientology and the AftermathComedians in Cars Getting CoffeeUgly DeliciousVICEThe World According to Jeff Goldblum

Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality SeriesNational Geographic Presents Cosmos: Creating Possible Worlds Between the Scenes – The Daily ShowFull Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents: Pandemic Video DiariesPose: Identity, Family, CommunityRuPaul’s Drag Race Out of the Closet

Outstanding Structured Reality ProgramQueer EyeAntiques RoadshowLove Is BlindShark TankA Very Brady Renovation

Outstanding Casting for a Reality ProgramRuPaul’s Drag RaceBorn This WayLove Is Blind Queer EyeThe Voice

Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction ProgramThe CaveAmerican FactoryApollo 11BecomingSea Of ShadowsSerengeti, “Rebirth”

Outstanding Cinematography for a Reality ProgramLife Below ZeroCheer, “Hit Zero”Queer Eye, “We’re In Japan!: Japanese Holiday”RuPaul’s Drag RaceSurvivor

Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction ProgramAmerican FactoryApollo 11BecomingThe CaveThe Last Dance, “Episode 7”Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness, “Cult of Personality”

Outstanding Directing for a Reality ProgramCheer, “Daytona”LEGO Masters, “Mega City Block”Queer Eye, “Disabled But Not Really”RuPaul’s Drag Race, “I’m That Bitch”Top Chef, “The Jonathan Gold Standard”

Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special (Original Dramatic Score)Why We Hate, “Tools & Tactics”BecomingHome, “Maine”McMillion$, “Episode 1”Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, “Not Your Average Joe”

Outstanding NarratorSeven Worlds, One Planet, “Antarctica”Black Patriots: Heroes of the RevolutionThe Elephant QueenThe Imagineering Story, “The Happiest Place on Earth”Serengeti, “Destiny”

Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction ProgramApollo 11American FactoryBeastie Boys StoryThe Last Dance, “Episode 1”McMillion$, “Episode 3”Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, “Cult of Personality”

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Nonfiction or Reality Program (Single or Multi-Camera)Apollo 11 Beastie Boys StoryCheer, “Daytona”Laurel Canyon: A Place in TimeRuPaul’s Drag Race, “I’m That Bitch”Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, “The Noble Thing to Do”

Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction ProgramDon’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer, “Closing the Net”Beastie Boys StoryThe CaveCircus of BooksMcMillion$, “Episode 1”

Related

Animated Series, Variety, Docuseries, & More: Our Creative Arts Emmy Predictions

Tags: Here are this year’s Creative Arts Emmys nominees and winners from night one. Netflix ending up taking home the most awards of the night, with five wins: two for Queer Eye, one for Don’t F**ck With Cats, but none for the viral hit Tiger King. The Creative Arts Emmys are streaming on Emmys.com at 8 p.m. host Nicole Byer, the modified virtual event saw HBO’s documentary The Apollo win the award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special over Michelle Obama’s Netflix documentary, Becoming and the Beastie Boys Stories. Helmed by Nailed It! Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

On the first day of the Creative Arts Emmys, the Television Academy gave to thee, winners from across TV. ET for four consecutive nights this week, with a fifth two-hour broadcast airing on Saturday on FXX.

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Categories: Entertainment News

Will NPR’s Plan to Bundle Local Content Work?

Anyway, you can find Servant of Pod on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or the great assortment of third-party podcast apps that are hooked up to the open publishing ecosystem. And it played really well into our strategy of ubiquity — i.e., being on all of these different devices in your home, whether it’s the Alexas or TV screens or in your cars or whatever as just another source where you could play your audio. I suppose if you’re building out a YouTube-style platform, you gotta brace yourself for YouTube-style chicanery. But still, I do acknowledge it to be a mixed bag, and that any reticence by any station is perfectly justified. Part of the value proposition for local stations to participate in a bundle is to be able to sell local advertising and sponsorship spots on the podcast as well, and so participating stations are made to provide files with local sponsorships baked in with the news segments. And this is without our involvement. If ever there was a genuine existential threat to Audible, it’s podcasting and Spotify put together. The project is said to be an extension of the partnership between media mogul and Apple, which has primarily taken the shape of an Apple TV+ program. To begin with, the theoretical upside is potential “access” to the audiobook’s vast consumer base, but the problem with that is the platform context: consumers pull Audible to listen to audiobook and audiobook-like products, and not really anything else. Here’s The Hollywood Reporter on the matter. It even sports a theme song from Hrishikesh Hirway of Song Exploder, The West Wing Weekly, and Home Cooking fame. This article first ran in Hot Pod, an industry-leading trade newsletter about podcasting by Nick Quah. We’re already seeing an acceleration of that trend due to the pandemic: as has been reported a few weeks ago, NPR’s radio ratings have plummeted since March, while its podcast and digital audiences have made significant gains. The answer to the second question requires a little more drama. This recent spate of headlines suggests a turn towards a dialectic: maintaining that core book publishing supply chain while adding original non-book publishing-originated audio productions back in, plus layering on a third-party podcast distribution channel as well for kicks. Back when Audible first started getting involved with exclusive program creation a few years ago, a source familiar with the organization’s thinking told me that while Audible understood the use difference between audiobooks and podcasts, the company simply didn’t respect the latter, and that they were loathed to recognize the medium’s rising popularity. It makes too much sense. Again, the thinking seems straightforward here: layering third-party podcast distribution on top of Audible’s core audiobooks and original program offerings adds to the service’s general value proposition, and it would theoretically defend against listeners going off the platform if they wanted to switch out to podcasts. The first is to start with assessing your general feelings about Audible, Amazon, and what those two things have done to the book publishing industry. This arrangement considerably strengthens NPR’s position in the public radio ecosystem, and whether this is a net positive or negative depends on your view on whether the centralization of control, authority, and risk is a good thing. And they started uploading that to the service and very, very quickly, we went from like no listening to that and now we’re probably if not the biggest, the second-biggest audiobook service in Germany. To quickly plug myself: Kumanyika was the guest on Servant of Pod last week. * For what it’s worth, I’m one of those relatively rare consumers with paid subscriptions to both Audible and Libro.fm. Some stations might be reticent to cede further power to NPR. ➽ New corporate launch slates from Sony Music Entertainment and ViacomCBS were announced at the IAB Podcast Upfronts last week. ➽ Shout-out to the newly-formed Rough Cut Collective. On the other hand, there’s much less sense when it comes to the prospect of distributing one’s podcast over Audible’s platform at this point in time. 👀)

All this, I think, informs Audible’s emergent swing deeper into the podcast-esque original programming lane, which now comes with two distinctly new and notable elements. As a practical matter, it means only Consider This audiences in ten regions will hear segments that were produced specifically for their area in addition to the podcast’s generally nationally-oriented content, at least for now. And that’s far from the only deal being made with this type of audio production studio, or so I hear — l wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being the case that Audible makes as many deals with podcast studios as with book publishers in the long run. There’s still some technical hurdles we need to cross.”

There will probably be some political hurdles as well. Audible’s return to podcast-style programming doesn’t fundamentally change anything. Last week, the company announced an expansion into the content business, which is maybe an indication that it’s tough to just be a technology player in the industry these days. This effort is starting off in a limited fashion. Tags: The pilot group of participation stations are: WBUR and WGBH in Boston, WNYC in New York, WHYY in Philadelphia, WAMU in Washington DC, WBEZ in Chicago, MPR in the Twin Cities, KERA in Dallas, KPCC and KCRW in Los Angeles, KQED in San Francisco, and OPB in Portland. And they thought of Spotify not just as a music service but as a service where they can find audio. Here’s the press release. Again, consider the big picture trade-off: does the theoretical short-term upside for you outweigh the long-term downside of feeding the beast for everyone else? What’s the deal with New Audible? The arrangement revolves around the use of dynamic insertion technology, which up until this point has mostly been utilized in the context of advertising. Without an effort to tie the fates together like this, we’re basically talking about an ecosystem in which all member stations are made to individually compete against each other and everybody else in the greater podcast and digital landscape. For efficiency’s sake, I’m only talking about Audible in this column, though a lot of the argumentation applies across both contexts). That trend makes a lot of sense now, but I’ll admit I thought Happier was going to be anomaly at the time. Which is to say, Audible is an effective wholesaler, but the business of original content — identifying talent, producing experiences, marketing shows, cultivating stars, and so on — is a very different kind of business, and the fact that the platform hasn’t really figured out a strategy around original and exclusive just yet is a testament to this. ➽ Art19, the podcast hosting technology platform, will no longer just be a technology platform. The classic composition of the public radio system is one in which individual public radio stations, small and large, control the distribution through the operation of broadcast towers. Desktop listening is also recommended. In the stances where two stations are present in the same region, those stations will be sharing space in the Consider This bundle, which means we’re looking at a situation where long-standing rivals — WBUR and WGBH in Boston, KPCC and KCRW in Los Angeles — are now placed in a cooperative situation. That can be a scary thing. In case it’s not already apparent, Gretchen is a super interesting person, and genuinely one of the most intimidatingly intelligent people I’ve ever met. Consider the aforementioned “Beyond the Last Dance” deal: that show is produced by Pushkin Industries, the shop behind Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History and a host of other podcasts that are accessible through the open ecosystem. Personnel Notes

(1) Spotify has hired Jean Chi, a “veteran Hollywood dealmaker” from Paramount, to take up the newly-created Global Head of Podcast Business Affairs role, which puts her in charge of dealmaking across the company’s various podcast divisions. So we started seeing it resonating really well into people’s lives. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. The company issued several exclusive program announcements claiming use of the word — see: “NBA and Audible team up for ‘Beyond The Last Dance’ podcast” (CNN) and “Audible, Sesame Workshop Launch ‘Sesame Street’ Podcast” (Variety), among others — and more importantly, it unveiled a new skinny Audible Plus plan that’s only focused on its “exclusive podcasts and audio content.”

And then, of course, there is the fact that producers across the podcast community recently started receiving “confidential” emails from Amazon Music informing them that Audible and Amazon Music will soon be adding third-party podcast distribution to their respective services, and that they were invited to submit their feeds for inclusion. Share, leave a review, so on. (Not to be mistaken with Slate’s excellent Decoder Ring.)

➽ Meanwhile, Kara Swisher’s upcoming New York Times Opinion Audio podcast, Sway, debuts next Monday. ➽ Anchor’s been having copycat issues. ➽ Over at Vox Media, Nilay Patel is the new Kara Swisher, taking over the Recode Decode feed that will be relaunched as Decoder with Nilay Patel. So, if you’re Audible looking at the big picture in the middle of 2020, you’re not just seeing podcasting as an emerging category that potentially crowds into the audiobook-listening time of your consumer base — a category that’s theoretically infinite in its supply of competition — you’re also seeing the encroachment of a motivated corporate player trying to harness, focus, and leverage that category as a way to jump directly into your own backyard. There are still various trade-offs you’d need to grapple with: you’d still be feeding a platform beast that could compromise the health of the broader podcast ecosystem over the long run, and the risk of rolling with a closed platform like Audible is having your show be buried in its deep inventory of content, forgotten to time. 1.5x Speed: A Weekly Newsletter of Podcast Recommendations and Reviews
Listening notes for the top shows, from Vulture’s critic Nick Quah. Both NPR and the participating stations are also working to figure out the combined aesthetics, and the two sides are continuing to collaborate to hammer down how the local segments can be made to fit in with the broader Consider This content. This is particularly true for certain types of podcasts that have been historically difficult to monetize through advertising, like fiction and limited-run series. ➽ In tomorrow’s Servant of Pod. “Obviously, we’re hoping to expand this to as much of the system as we can over time. The biggest risk with a successful wide-scale execution of this local-national podcast bundling initiative is the realization of a situation where the public radio system is further centralized within NPR, increasing the exposure of the entire system to the mistakes, risks, problems, and biases of NPR itself. (Oh, and did I mention that Spotify had a job posting up last month for a Head of Audiobooks based in New York or Los Angeles? Which raises the question: how has the theory of Audible’s original programming position changed since the last time they grazed podcasting’s orbit, and why are they steering back in that direction now? Email

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Terms of Service apply. The second is Spotify. Welcome to the NPR Bundle

Last week, NPR announced that it will start bundling local news content with Consider This, its relatively new afternoon daily news podcast. (Quick aside: that email outreach campaign we talked about earlier includes reference to both Audible and Amazon Music. In my mind, there are two factors driving Audible back (and deeper) into this type of original programming territory. “We’ve set up a system where partner stations upload their content to us, and we manually load it into AdsWizz,” said Neal Carruth, NPR’s Senior Director of On-Demand. Ashley Carman over at The Verge has the run-down on what’s going on and what it means. With this local-national bundling effort, the power structure is essentially flipped on its head: member stations are now the content providers, and NPR is the fundamental distribution power. There is a kind of balance in the NPR-station relationship; NPR basically plays the role of content provider, while stations pay NPR to license and distribute its flagship public radio programming pieces like Morning Edition and All Things Considered, which they round out in its limited twenty-four hour broadcast schedule with local news segments, their own shows, and an assortment of shows licensed from other stations. A local-national podcast bundle like this Consider This effort is exactly how you would do that. I’ve written a lot about Audible’s adventures with original and exclusive content over the years, from the days of its in-house production team that focused on making original podcast-style programming to the subsequent pivot that leaned more on its book publishing relationships, in which the organization sought to directly forge “audiobook-first” deals with authors. (Though, I suppose that’s not all too different from publishing into the open podcast ecosystem without Apple or Spotify throwing you an on-platform promotion bone.) But being a podcast publisher is still a business, and you have to pay the bills, and the value of upfront money for series production is almost always better than the risk of competing in the increasingly crowded open ecosystem. (2) Audible names new Head of Content Acquisition and Development: Pat Shah, a veteran of Twitch and Spotify. That show quickly grew an audience — as many corona-pods did back in that March to May stretch — giving NPR a solid base that it could flip into a broader daily news podcast product, which it did through a rebrand that re-designated the podcast as Consider This, a nomenclature that marks it as part of the broader All Things Considered franchise. In that scenario, it’s very likely that the majority of member stations will fail in their individual shift towards on-demand, and the system will be hollowed out. As Daniel Ek, Spotify’s CEO, told Freakonomics Radio last summer:

In Germany, record companies there had massive amounts of rights to audio books, which I wasn’t aware of. Sign of the times, I suppose.)

For what it’s worth, I’ve been looking forward to a move like this for a long time, having explicitly advocated for this specific type of national-local podcast bundling in the past to a point where I wrote a long column last summer sketching out a technical arrangement that looks exactly like this. As much as I personally believe in this type of bundling as a way to push the broader public radio system towards a more future-proof place, the reality is that a widespread adoption of a local-national podcast bundling strategy like this involves a fundamental reversal of the classic power structure that has held up the public radio system for so many decades. Original programming adds to Audible’s base value proposition (“Subscribe to Audible, we have audiobooks and all this other shit!”) while the exclusivity of that programming cuts at the zero-sum nature of Audible’s platform competition (it’s the relatively rare consumer* that subscribes to multiple digital audiobook services). Audible’s fundamental logic is principally tied to two measures: paid subscriptions and the company’s ability to keep users engaged with the platform. Here’s the TechCrunch write-up. It’s all fairly manual at this time, and the process is expected to be refined — and presumably automated — over time. This sounds like a small and wonky thing, but it’s really a huge step forward towards whatever public radio is supposed to become as the position of traditional broadcast radio continues to be chipped away from digital and on-demand. The first is the continued rise of podcasting as an audio category, which offers ever-present and ever-deepening competition for listener attention specifically around on-demand audio consumption behavior. That Audible is now using the word “podcast” to designate their original and exclusive programming is peculiar, though there’s some history here. Here’s the Hollywood Reporter on the hire. Don’t forget: all that we’ve been seeing with Spotify and podcasting so far are merely stepping stones in the former’s broader quest to become an all-consuming audio platform that competes on the totality of all audio fronts, including audiobooks. The first is what appears to be a growing set of working relationships with audio publishers that are typically associated with podcasting. Variety had the exclusive on the hire, and the write-up notes that Shah’s role at Spotify involved original content strategy on the licensing and business side, and that his work there “prompted the company’s expansion into podcasts.” Hmm. (You’ll find similar arguments from certain podcasting corners against Spotify’s use of the term as well.)

That acknowledgment is also striking for the way it contrasts what I’ve heard about Audible’s perspective on podcasting in the past. The second new and notable element is the third-party podcast distribution, which feels like money on the table move at first blush. Seems like yet another data point supporting the view of Spotify as being distinctly Hollywood-centric in its original show commissions. The answer to the first question is straightforward: the theory hasn’t really changed very much. After all, the act of making original and exclusive programming for Audible is the act of increasing value for Audible as an audiobook, audio show, and pseudo-podcasting platform, which runs competitively against the open podcast ecosystem, among every other audio front. Gretchen Rubin — the best-selling author, podcaster, and prominent voice on the subject of happiness — is on the show this week, and we hit on a bunch of things: the podcast-author intersection, the notion of self-help versus “self-helpful,” and how she moved from being a lawyer and clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor towards writing books about happiness, human nature, and in an earlier effort, Power, Money, Fame, (and) Sex. And even if you do see it as “why not?” proposition, there’s the general risk of long-term encroachment: sure, Audible might not do anything to the ads on your RSS feed right now, but there’s always the possibility that might change in the future. But the macro-trends of the media business over the past decade have not been kind to those aspirations for independence, particularly in smaller markets. Historically, there’s been a push-and-pull tension between NPR and some portion of individual member stations in terms of branding and control; it has been important for some stations to maintain a sense of independence and autonomy from the flagship NPR brand. Whatever gets them more original and exclusive content that can drive subscriptions and engagement on its platform, you know? As the American news ecosystem grew more nationally-oriented due to the on-going dwindling of local news sources, the consolidation of greater news media, and the rise of digital consumption, individual member stations across the country felt the strains of those trends as well, even as NPR went on to benefit from them. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

News, broadly…

➽ Oprah has launched a book club podcast that’s exclusive to the Apple Podcast platform. (The show is now with Cadence13.) In hindsight, that show turned out to be one of the earlier data points in the now surging modern trend of authors crossing over into podcasting. After years of the service using “Audible Original” as the key term to identify (and differentiate) its non-audiobook-derived creations, the platform’s co-option of the “podcast” label seems to suggest an acknowledgment that “Audible Original” simply wasn’t sticking as a brand concept, and that podcasting as a category had sufficiently grown in public value to a point that it’s an immediately useful to concept to evoke for consumer guidance, even if it’s not technically accurate. In this introductory phase, a pilot group of twelve public radio stations across ten regions will be supplying local segments to NPR for inclusion into this experiment. I’m told that there had been plans for NPR to put something like this in place as far back as the end of 2019, with the initial idea being to launch what is now the Consider This feed at around this time in the year. There are a couple of ways to think about this. Why toggle back and forth between Audible and, say, Overcast when you can get all of the above on the former, right? Anyway, for what it’s worth, I think Audible’s chances with this new-old-new original programming gambit is a split fifty-fifty. The basic thinking is: since dynamic insertion makes it easier for podcast publishers to swap out old ads with new ones and opens up the possibility of location-based ad targeting, why not apply those tools to actual content distribution as well? Obviously, I personally view this as a net positive, particularly because, as it stands, there doesn’t seem to be any other way for the classic public radio system to holistically tap into the shift towards podcasting and on-demand. In my view, the fundamental problem with Audible is that it’s primarily a merchandising business, historically finding its value and margins in the facilitation of high-volume sales that largely sits on the back of the book publishing industry’s talent-finding capacities. Shout-out to the latter. Rather, it’s an acknowledgment that a lot has changed. ➽ Josie Huang was doing her job. Meanwhile, the quality and effectiveness of that content generally serves towards increasing the time spent by subscribers on the platform — and the more they’re engaged with the platform, the less likely they’ll go anywhere else for comparable experiences. We overlapped briefly when I worked at the now-defunct Panoply for a short stint back in 2015, which was the time she first launched her podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, at the network. If you subscribe to a “we can’t all be ethical purists” worldview, then sure, it makes a good amount of sense for podcast creators to take up these deals to produce original and exclusive Audible content, because upfront money mitigates the risks of playing the advertising game. Press release. “This project was a heavy lift to get to this point, which is why we’re launching with a limited set of partners,” said Carruth. Ideally, a Consider This listener will be served an experience that mixes national news, local news, national sponsorship, and local sponsorship in a seamless manner. My strong belief in a move like this is rooted in what feels like an untenable status quo for the public radio system as it currently stands: as more audio consumers shift towards podcast and on-demand, there is a strong disparity between how a centralized national organization like NPR and how individual member stations, especially the smaller ones, are able to respond to that trend. Chartable, the podcast analytics company, has raised an additional $2.25 million in seed funding, adding to the $1.5 million they pulled together last summer. Photo: Audible

The past few weeks have been suspiciously busy for Audible, as far as the audiobook giant and “podcasts” are concerned. Let’s break that one down. But the pandemic pushed the timeline forward: as the country started locking down (to the extent that it did), NPR rolled out Coronavirus Daily, a pop-up podcast dedicated to tracking the COVID-19 story. So that all makes sense from Audible’s perspective, but it does raise the question of whether Audible’s current machinations will actually be valuable for podcast makers — or if it will be more of a mixed bag over the long run. Indeed, as the contemporary lore goes, it was an audiobook-related development in Germany that stood as among the first data points that prompted Spotify to start thinking about expanding beyond music streaming. That opening, by the way, is now closed. If, generally speaking, you have mixed-to-bad feelings about all that, then you probably shouldn’t be working with the audiobook giant, no matter how good the upfront money might be. ➽Charlamagne Tha God and iHeartMedia are launching a podcast network, called The Black Effect, focused on Black creators and Black audiences. To frame the situation in another way: the analog consumption of NPR programming through public radio stations are going down, while direct on-demand consumption of such programming from NPR itself is going up, leaving us with a situation where public radio stations — and their local news reporting — will be progressively worse off unless you directly tie the on-demand fate and fortunes of stations and NPR together. Speaking of problems… In a statement published last Wednesday, NPR’s workforce called  for great diversity, equity, and inclusion at the organization. ➽ The Moth adds two new board members: Gabrielle Glore, festival director and head of programming for Urbanworld, and Chenjerai Kumanyika, the multi-hyphenate academic and podcast producer. (Interestingly enough, this would have been an unthinkable development even a few years ago. You know, this just happened by proxy of us being a platform. This is traditionally how they derive power. Podcasting, after all, definitionally refers to the distribution of audio files over an open RSS-facilitated infrastructure, which is antithetical to Audible’s closed platform structure. (We wrote about this sequence of events back in June.)

Here’s what I understand about the back-end: NPR is using the AdsWizz platform to manage and carry out the localized insertions, and at this early stage, all parties are still figuring out the best possible workflow.

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Categories: Entertainment News

At What Point in The Third Day Would I Have Run Away Forever?

Maybe a good Instagram photo? 4) The eerie sense of familiarity. But that leads us to …

2) The second I saw the causeway. Okay, well, great to see you, BYE! I would’ve written them an apologetic note afterwards, too. You can only see them from a distance, and it’s hard to see what choreography they’re practicing. Eventually, although I would surely have left by this point, Jude Law is still there and picks up on the sense that all the villagers are talking about something when they think he can’t hear. He stays on the island, insistent on figuring out what the deal is with these strange people. I will take you to a remote island instead!” Maybe, I guess. Photo:

I’m not a huge horror person. Sometimes I’ve wondered about Satanic ritual setups. 6) The photos of dead people on the pub walls. GONE! I’m disappointed in myself, but once I saw the puppets I would’ve convinced myself to give the creepy island a shot. Related

The Third Day Premiere Recap: Island

Tags: I love an ancient festival. No one’s got any Wi-Fi or … huh. 5) Those giant festival puppets. I’m willing to hang in there for things I know are culturally important, and I’m very good at happily browsing for new duvet covers on a separate screen whenever something terrifying is obviously about to happen. Yes. Still, one of the things I find utterly perplexing about most horror stories is when the characters make ridiculous, indefensible choices. SURELY. If this were me, though, I would drive my car up to the causeway entrance, climb inside, lock the door, and refuse to open it or speak to anyone until I could get myself off that damn island the next day. 8) Everyone is secretly fighting about something. There’s a lot of whispering, some intense shouting, and a few major arguments. And they do not seem happy! No question. When Jude Law first drives onto the island, the teen girl he’s rescued points out some villagers holding enormous, uncanny man and woman puppets. In The Third Day, this is a reason for him to allay his fears and continue ahead. He steps on it to squash it, and a horde of tiny black beetles come streaming out of the cricket corpse. The teenage girl hangs herself, Jude Law rescues her, and then she asks him to take her to the island. “Hope the festival went well! The most obvious stuff comes later, but even here there are events that should’ve sent this man screaming back to the mainland. This is my own personal blind spot, and I’m willing to admit it. Let me know if you need someone to call Verizon about your cell service problem!”

9) The ritually sacrificed rodent. As much as I love a good festival, I loathe feeling awkwardly unwelcome. If, somehow, I was convinced that I should take this teen girl home instead of getting her immediate medical attention, one look at the causeway out to her creepy island might’ve given me pause. I am from the American Midwest. The end. Pictured: Jude Law, somehow not running the hell away from this nightmare island. At this point, whether Jude Law should flee the island has become moot. Should the festival puppets turn you off? Not just any dead rodent. Choices like going down to the dark, haunted house basement by themselves. But they definitely look like they’re photos of corpses. Oh, you say there’s … no cell service? Jude Law wanders into the island’s pub, and the walls are decorated with old, cracked photos that might just be in bad shape? Here, then, is a rundown of all events in the first episode of The Third Day where I (or any sane person) would’ve muttered “oh absolutely not,” and left forever. Good luck to him! So often they’re some combination of candles/salt/sticks/a circle/a sacrifice, and sometimes you look at them and think, Maybe someone just set up a little campsite or something? Maybe an animal did it? 7) No cell service. I have seen disaster movies. Jude Law does not take my advice, though! Yes. Choices like, in the case of the new HBO drama The Third Day, willingly driving onto a clearly creepy island and then — for some reason! As a result, I spent most of The Third Day watching in agony as the main character Sam (played by Jude Law), drives out to the most nightmarish, unnerving, creepy-ass island anyone has ever seen and then doesn’t leave immediately. It’s an unpleasant vibe! I love a weird geographically specific ritual, love historical reenactors, love a procession, love odd and inexplicable local traditions. Good luck with the alarming cricket-and-beetle problem! Oh wow you guys have got a festival going on? Should Jude Law have seen them and thought, Huh, maybe I won’t stick around for the ancient festival? The faintest sense that my presence somewhere was making someone uncomfortable, or that they did not want me? Even if I’d have been similarly comforted by how familiar it felt, though, the first thing he sees on the island would’ve really put me off. That rat just screams, “I gave my life to fulfill an ancient promise to the island gods who are dissatisfied with the actions of man, and whose appetites have now been quieted but not fully quelled.” Maybe Jude Law can’t leave at this point. While waiting for the causeway to open, Jude Law sees an enormous, colorful cricket. Which makes sense, I guess. Wow, cool! But this is, and I don’t mind saying it, one of the most obvious ritual-sacrifice setups I’ve seen. — not leaving. While driving onto the island, Jude Law is overwhelmed by the feeling he’s been there before. The causeway has flooded again as the tide comes in, so Jude Law is now forced to wait it out until the road opens the next day. We are a reserved, socially restrained people. A dead rat (probably?) whose belly has been sliced open, and its vital organs carefully (lovingly??) displayed on small rocks arranged around the body. Couldn’t be me! I’m highly dubious that I or anyone would’ve said, “Oh sure, I won’t take you to a hospital! While I watched screeners of the first five episodes, the first episode on its own has plenty of red flags. 1) The opening event of the series. But this is the one thing that truly did make sense to me in this episode. He didn’t take his chance after the festival puppets and the no cell service, and now he’s stuck for the night. But no, Jude Law is determined to get onto this island. I would’ve been off that island so fast. But the girl explains that it’s from an ancient island ritual, an annual holiday they celebrate as a big festival. The island is called Osea, and the only way to get on and off is to drive across this narrow causeway that’s only accessible at low tides. Jude Law kneels, weeping, in front of a lovely babbling brook. I think there’s a good chance the causeway alone would’ve made me too nervous. It’s kind of pretty, I suppose? 3) That freaky dead cricket full of beetles. He’s listening to Florence + the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over.” He stands up, sees some movement, and then discovers a teenage girl in the nearby woods. So maybe I’d at least drive out there and tell myself I was immediately turning around. Not all weekend? While he realizes this, standing out on the windy bluffs near the causeway entrance, he looks down and finds a dead rodent. Probably not enough to convince me to leave the festival, though. You’re not sure when it’ll be back? Lemme just Google the … huh. I know about climate change. If you’re already on the fence about this whole island situation, that’s surely the point where you rethink things, right?

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Buying Myself Back

Your nipples change so much from hard to soft. We finished our meal relatively quickly, and I helped bring dishes to the sink as Jonathan washed them. I could feel the acidic burn of alcohol in my chest as we proceeded back upstairs. She was older than me and quiet. He didn’t respond well to this assertion. The next day, my lawyer informed me, on yet another billable call, that pursuing the lawsuit, expenses aside, would be fruitless. Legit. Through my contacts, I was assured that they would reach out to him to confirm that the study had been a gift from Prince to me and me alone. Is it commanding someone’s attention? He told me that when he Googled me prior to our meeting, he’d seen a particular shoot that left him with this impression. In the industry, I’d been taught that it was important to earn a reputation as hardworking and easygoing. I posted the image to Instagram a few hours later, placing text on top of it in bold white caps that read mood forever. As the night went on, I became sweaty and exhausted and bleary-eyed. He was very different from the other “fashion” photographers I’d met up to that point, men who tended to be L.A. The pool’s surface sparkled in the sunlight, nearly blinding me as I squinted to scroll through the list of ten, 20, 50 women’s names until I landed on mine. I was flattered by his desire to own the painting, but I didn’t feel the same urge to own the piece as he did. “Using and abusing? For the four days of letters and calls for which I had enlisted my lawyer’s services, I’d racked up a bill of nearly $8,000. At the end of last year, Jonathan published yet another book of the photos, this one hardbound. I knew that impressing these photographers was an important part of building a good reputation. “And the pictures are already out there now. I was both confused as to why Jonathan had left without a word and terrified that he would come back. The Instagram post I was sued for sharing in 2019. What if at the end of this I really would have nothing? I hate that Jonathan commented on something I’ve done throughout my life to comfort myself. He told me about his marriage’s undoing; that the actress, whom Jonathan had cast for a short film he’d been making at the time, came to live with them. A few years after my photo shoot, I received a call from a well-known magazine asking if they could help promote my new book of photographs. And from what was being said online, a lot of people believed the entire situation had been my doing. The giant image of me was hanging above the couch in his West Village apartment. Every time my name appeared in the news — if you can call gossip websites “news” — he was notified immediately via email. Later that week, the photos were released to the world. “I’ll check my old email server,” she promised. “I want this bouquet to look like her!” I’d said, grabbing a handful of lemon leaves. He paused then and turned, silently walking back downstairs to the kitchen. That was the name of the Nickelodeon show I’d been on for two episodes while in high school. My insides ached. Everyone had told me to shy away from being “sexy” in order to be taken seriously, and now an entire book containing hundreds of images of me, some of them the most compromising and sexual photos of me ever taken, was available for purchase. My mouth was chalky, but I remember I was still talking a lot — about my dating history, which guys I really loved, which ones were whatever. Tags: Something switched inside me then. “Yeah, no,” I said, laughing. This was something the industry calls an unpaid editorial, meaning it would be printed in the magazine and the “exposure” would be my reward. You really want someone to believe she was a victim?”

Years passed, and Jonathan released a second book of my images, then a third. Private photos of me — along with those of hundreds of other women hacked in an iCloud phishing scam — were expected to leak onto the internet. His work on Google looked celestial and pretty. He managed to make himself sound like a sought-after photographer and me some random model who had been desperate to shoot with him. She will continue to carve out control where she can find it. I, after all, had posed for the photos. I arched my back and pursed my lips, fixating on the idea of how I might look through his camera lens. When our relationship ended, about a year and a half later, I assumed he wouldn’t want the canvas — a giant picture of me, now his ex — so we began to make arrangements to divide our belongings, including the artwork we had bought together. I was still holding on to a faith in our system, a system I had thought was designed to protect people from these kinds of situations. As I spoke, I absentmindedly rubbed my feet against one another and against his for warmth. Since 2013, when I appeared in a viral music video, paparazzi have lurked outside my front door. I’d heard from friends that Jonathan was a rich kid who had never needed a paycheck in his life. Of the hundreds we had shot, only a handful were included, mostly black-and-white ones. I knew I had never signed anything; I had never agreed to anything. I touched my forehead with the coolness of my palm and breathed in through my nose. The next thing I remember is being in the dark. “You want coffee?” he asked. He was asking me about my boyfriends. Confused, I searched my name online. I found myself touching the place on my scalp where my hair had fallen out. Maybe we’ll shoot very early tomorrow, I figured. There it was, in plain text, the way I’d seen it listed before on class roll calls: so simple, like it meant nothing. Pictures meant only for a person who loved me and with whom I’d felt safe — photos taken out of trust and intimacy — were now being manically shared and discussed on online forums and rated “hot” or “not.” Rebecca Solnit wrote recently about the message that comes with revenge porn: “You thought you were a mind, but you’re a body, you thought you could have a public life, but your private life is here to sabotage you, you thought you had power so let us destroy you.” I’d been destroyed. My advice …” he began. Downstairs, Jonathan was making coffee, and the makeup artist was already up and dressed and sitting hunched over a mug. I thought about something that had happened a couple of years prior, when I was 22. I liked the comment he left on this one far better than his comment on the black-and-white study, where he asks, “Were you built in a science lab by teenage boys?”

When I realized we had the opportunity to procure this one, it suddenly felt important to me that I own at least half of it; we decided to purchase it directly from the artist and split the cost down the middle. The problem with justice, or even the pursuit of justice, in the U.S. My body felt like a superpower. We’d shoot in Woodstock, for some arty magazine I’d never heard of called Darius, and I’d spend the night at his place, she said. I liked to check out the first few Polaroids Jonathan took with each new “look” and adjust my pose and body accordingly before we continued. I stiffened as her presence dissolved from the living room. It seemed crazy to me that I had ever valued school over the financial security that modeling was beginning to provide. A couple were favorites I’d pointed out to Jonathan on the night of the shoot. Can’t wait to see pics! I felt protective of my image. “You girls always end up spending too much money on shoes and bags,” he said. I thought about Jonathan’s daughter. I should be appreciative, I thought. Harder and harder and pushing and pushing like no one had touched me before or has touched me since. I chewed on my lower lip as I handed the neat stack of Polaroids back to Jonathan. Even if we did “win” in court, all it would mean was that I’d come into possession of the books and maybe, if I was lucky, be able to ask for a percentage of the profits. I learned the next day from my own lawyer that despite being the unwilling subject of the photograph, I could not control what happened to it. “It must have been forged,” my lawyer announced. He told me he liked “that foot thing you’re doing,” and I remember this moment more clearly than anything else. I was upset with her for leaving me, but I didn’t want to admit to myself that her presence had made a difference. It had been only two years since the 4chan hacking. “I’m not sure why she would want to stop her fans from viewing these Polaroids,” he said in an interview. Jonathan sneered. She wrote that she hadn’t found an email in response with the release signed by him. Kind of weird, I thought, but I had seen weirder. My face was hot from the wine, and my cheeks glowed and throbbed. “You know, big-boned. The more disinterested he seemed, the more I wanted to prove myself worthy of his attention. He offered me a glass of red wine, which, in my nervousness and desire to seem older and wiser than I was, I accepted and drank quickly. Richard Prince is an important artist, and the implication was that I should feel grateful to him for deeming my image worthy of a painting. Email

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Terms of Service apply. I sat up on an antique brass bed frame, my knees pressing into the faded floral-print sheets. The makeup artist finished setting up and began working on my face while Jonathan cooked dinner. I took deep sips as the makeup artist painted a thick, black, wet liner onto the tops of my eyelids. I thought about all the other young models who must have come to this bus station in the Catskills and sat in this car. Jonathan didn’t react much to my arrival. “These are just kind of … boring and stiff,” he said with a sigh. No hurt. Jonathan and I were on his couch, and the rough texture of his jeans rubbed against my bare legs. That, more than anything, in my opinion, set her apart from so many other models.” I felt myself on the carpet of Jonathan’s living room, the texture of it rubbing into my skin as I posed and talked about art-making and felt a deep twinge of shame. When people visited, they’d rush toward it and yell, “Oh, you got one of these!”

My guests would cross their arms and study the painting, read Prince’s comment, and smile. He spread the Polaroids out on the table and scratched his head, inspecting them. I exchanged the safety of those hundreds of Emilys for one image — an image that had been taken from my platform and produced as another man’s valuable and important art. I had been working with my agent full time for about two years. Its flash was so bright and I’d had so much wine that giant black spots were expanding and floating in front of my eyes. Xx,” as she had on other occasions. Eventually, Jonathan will run out of “unseen” crusty Polaroids, but I will remain as the real Emily; the Emily who owns the high-art Emily, and the one who wrote this essay, too. I can’t remember if we had stopped shooting and were just looking at the pictures together or what. She explained that the attorney behind the suit had been serially filing cases like these, so many that the court had labeled him a “copyright troll.” “They want $150,000 in damages for your ‘use’ of the image,” she told me, sighing heavily. I had a desire to disappear, to fade away. My agent hadn’t mentioned that the shoot would be lingerie, but I wasn’t concerned; I’d done countless lingerie shoots before. I saw photos of men in profile, gripping beers and wearing hipster jackets, standing inches from my naked photos, their postures slumped and their silly fedoras cocked back as they absorbed the neatly framed images. I was shocked. The next day, after I’d seen myself in the picture online, I sent it to Mary, writing, “I wish I actually had a flower bouquet for a head.”

“Ha! Photo: Tina Tyrell for New York Magazine. For years, while I built a career, he’d kept that Emily in the drawers of his creaky old house, waiting to whore her out. I’ve often stood in my kitchen and stared at myself in the large Richard Prince piece, contemplating whether I should sell it and use the money to sue. All these men, some of whom I knew intimately and others I’d never met, were debating who owned an image of me. I liked the idea of getting into collecting art, and the Prince seemed like a smart investment. Some of the images were posted on Jonathan’s Instagram, and they were among the most revealing and vulgar Polaroids he had taken of me. (When the fact-checker I worked with on this story reached out to Jonathan about what happened that night after the shoot, he said my allegations were “too tawdry and childish to respond to.” He added: “You do know who we are talking about right? He was excited as he scrutinized the pictures, holding one up close to his face and then letting it fall again. The gallery on the Lower East Side held an opening for the exhibition of Jonathan’s pictures of me, and I looked up photos from the event online. U lost the [anchor emoji]. My temples pounded. “You girls and your Instagram. The image of a morgue came to mind. Besides, I was 23; I hadn’t made enough money to comfortably spend $80,000 on art. I can handle him alone, I thought. I sat up, erect. is that it costs. “No one has shot her better,” he said over his shoulder, as I continued to riffle through the Polaroids. All these men, some of whom I knew intimately and others I’d never met, were debating who owned an image of me. “Reprint coming soon,” Jonathan announced on his Instagram.I tweeted about what a violation this book was, how he was using and abusing my image for profit without my consent. “We had a lot of discussions about music, art, the industry, and the creative process,” Jonathan said in the interview. I’d seen online that other subjects of the Instagram paintings were being gifted “studies,” the smaller drafts of the final works. Then again, she was the one who’d sent me to Jonathan’s home. No upset. This is exactly what she wants.”

“You could always keep your clothes on and then you won’t be bothered by these things,” a woman wrote. Ratajkowski et al. Set design by Eric Mestman. My mother’s ex-husband, Jim (who, until I turned 8, I’d thought was my uncle), had Google alerts set for me. I was wearing a tank top that I’d tucked into the front of high-waisted shorts, and as we drove, I watched the soft blonde hairs on my thighs glisten in the sunlight. And a part of me was honored. I felt relief wash over me when a makeup artist arrived at the house and proceeded to set up on the kitchen table next to Jonathan’s kids. In bed alone, I used my thumb to scroll through the replies. A few weeks later, I realized — sitting up straight, half-asleep in my bed with my jaw clenched in the middle of the night — that I hadn’t collected the black-and-white study the studio had gifted to me. “I had worked with over 500 models by that point in my career,” he said. I knew of the gallerist through a bunch of different people and had met him once or twice, so it didn’t take long to find out what actually happened to the piece. I was considering my options when it occurred to me that my ex, whom I’d been with for three years, had countless naked pictures of me on his phone. My lawyer sent cease-and-desist letters: one to Jonathan’s makeshift publishing company and one to a gallery on the Lower East Side that had announced it would be holding an exhibition of the Polaroids. What if he was right? I could imagine her writing to me the next day, “Jonathan loved you. I climbed up the wooden stairs and into the room where we’d shot at the beginning of the night, then lay down on the thin, flowery sheets. I brought my hands up to the straps of my backpack and shifted my weight from side to side, waiting for instruction. I sipped my wine. Maybe this is just the stuff he puts on his Instagram? “Sure,” I half-heartedly chimed, opening Instagram. He came off as a nervous, neurotic artist type. They’d often turn back to me to ask if I knew what the comment above Prince’s, from some unknown user, said. When the news broke of a book being sold with my name on it — the cover was completely white and read only EMILY RATAJKOWSKI in bold black lettering — several media outlets reached out to me directly, thinking they were being generous by offering their support to a new project of mine. Jonathan never looked at me directly, but I remember feeling watched, aware of our proximity and my body and how I might appear from his driver’s seat. And I knew my boyfriend felt like this was some kind of conquest; he’d worked hard to get it. He showed me naked pictures, Polaroids, he’d taken during their affair. I didn’t bother to investigate further. Photo: Courtesy of Emily Ratajkowski

To my boyfriend’s disappointment, his gallerist friend texted him only a few days later to say that a big-time collector wanted it. I was livid and frantic. “And I didn’t sign anything he sent either!!!” she wrote. I enjoyed food more and didn’t think so much about the shape of my ass. “You never know who they’ll be shooting with next!” my agent would remind me. I turned and leaned against the counter, opening my phone. But mostly, I couldn’t imagine not having a claim on something that would hang in my home. The next time someone asked about the German comment, I lied and said I didn’t know. I felt the bristled texture of the old couch against my back. I stood awkwardly at the door in my short shorts and felt embarrassingly young — unwomanly even, like a kid myself. I didn’t have to; I wasn’t relying on modeling as much then. My lawyer and I got on the phone the next day with the agent, who was sure she hadn’t signed it. “You know, I thought you would be bigger. And while I did have fame, I didn’t have the kind of money I’d told Jonathan I hoped to have one day. The yellow lights were switched off, and I was cold, shivering, and huddled under a blanket. I don’t remember kissing, but I do remember his fingers suddenly being inside of me. I wondered what kind of damage this would do to my career as an actress. I’ve become accustomed to large men appearing suddenly between cars or jumping out from behind corners, with glassy black holes where their faces should be. I guess, I thought. I was walking through Tompkins Square Park with a friend and her dog and sipping a coffee when Jim’s name lit up my phone. An intense headache began to beat into my temples, and my mouth was so dryI could barely close it. I’d been told by plenty of photographers and agents that my body was one of the things that made me stand out among my peers. One Great Story: A Nightly Newsletter for the Best of New York
The one story you shouldn’t miss today, selected by New York’s editors. I hate that sometimes, even now, when I rub my feet together because I’m cold or afraid or exhausted, I think of Jonathan. Still, though, the second I dropped my clothes, a part of me disassociated. She was a buzzkill anyway. Still, I make my living off posing for photographs, and it felt strange that a big-time, fancy artist worth a lot more money than I am should be able to snatch one of my Instagram posts and sell it as his own. “And I can tell you that Emily Ratajkowski … was one of the most comfortable models I had ever worked with in terms of her body. magazine, and bounced around naked in the Robin Thicke video at that time. My body was sore and fragile, and I kept stroking parts of myself with the back of my hand — my arms, my stomach, my hips — maybe to calm them or maybe to make sure they were still there, attached to the rest of me. A lot. I was used to unusual setups on shoots, but I’d never been in a situation like this before. The gallerist said we might want to take a look at its upcoming show of Richard Prince’s “Instagram Paintings.” The “paintings” were actually just images of Instagram posts, on which the artist had commented from his account, printed on oversize canvases. Same,” she wrote back immediately. I wondered where he normally kept these Polaroids. That I am special. “What should we shoot next?”

Time warped in the glow of the warm yellow lamps of Jonathan’s living room, the vintage lingerie draped over the musty, floral-printed armchairs. This is only a case of a celebrity looking to get more attention. She was neither shy or self-conscious in any way. I shivered uncontrollably. When I agreed to shoot with Jonathan, I had consented only for the photos to be printed in the magazine they were intended for. “It’s about how saggy my tits look,” I told my husband, whom I now share a home with. I don’t get it,” he said, shaking his head and drying a plate with a dish towel. Subscribe Now! No one had asked me. Jonathan had put up one of the Polaroids from the night before. The place was so packed they had to leave the door open and let the crowd pour out onto the sidewalk. New articles about the book, accompanied by images, were popping up hourly. Does she normally sleep in this bed?, I wondered. I began to float outside of myself, watching as I climbed back onto the bed. I had no sense of what time it was when the makeup artist announced she was going to bed. The internet is the internet,” he said to me matter-of-factly. The makeup artist painted on a bright-red lipstick, and I changed into a high-waisted pink lingerie set. “I love when they’re giant,” he told me. The paintings were going for $80,000 apiece, and my boyfriend wanted to buy mine. When he was done cooking, Jonathan, the makeup artist, and I all sat around the kitchen table eating pasta, as if we were a small family. As promised, Jonathan picked me up from the bus stop in Woodstock. I was relieved to see that he’d done a tasteful edit, and I went as far as to think he might have chosen the images he remembered I liked. My lawyer argued that Jonathan had no right to use the images beyond their agreed-upon usage. I liked the shot the paparazzo got but not because it was a good photo of me. I reached out to Prince’s studio. He had another show at the same gallery. His followers were skyrocketing, as were the followers of @imperialpublishing, a “publishing company” — I realized after just a few moments of research — that Jonathan had personally funded and set up solely for the purpose of making this book. “When the economy crashed and I started to get more opportunities to work, it just made sense that I’d pursue this while I could,’’ I said. When anyone mentioned the book or the show to me, I just shook my head and said softly, “So fucked up,” like I was talking about someone else’s life. Is it feeling wanted? I made sure not to eat too much, while Jonathan silently refilled my glass and I kept drinking. This guy shoots all these women, but I’m going to show him that I’m the sexiest and smartest of them all. I had no one in my life to swoop in and help cover the costs. Of me. He was turned away from me when he said, “Let’s try naked now.’’

I’d been shot nude a handful of times before, always by men. “Is it German?” they’d ask, squinting. I also knew, even though I never would have admitted it, that I’d been less concerned with my weight at the time of that shoot. I found an extensive new interview with him, and my chest tightened when I saw the headline: “Jonathan Leder Reveals Details of His Emily Ratajkowski Shoot (NSFW).” The article began with his description of how we’d come to shoot together. Hipster-y. I could feel him bristle as I exclaimed, “Oh, I like that one!”

“This one, though,” he said, holding the stack of Polaroids to his chest and flicking one around so I could catch a quick glance of it. At my home in Los Angeles with the Richard Prince Instagram “painting” in 2016. I watched as Emily Ratajkowski sold out and was reprinted once, twice, and then three times. “Thank you, that was so good,” I said politely. She had known me since I was 14, when I landed my first modeling and acting jobs, but she began to take my career more seriously when I turned 20. Jonathan’s kids were picked up by someone who did not come inside the house, while the makeup artist finished preparing my face. While we were together several years ago, my boyfriend befriended a guy who worked at an important international art gallery. It was dark, and my hair was still in rollers as I finished my third glass of wine, my mouth stained purple. Photo: JAB

“What can I do?,” I asked again, but in a smaller voice. By that time, I’d stopped working with my agent, who’d quit the industry, but reading this, I called her in a panic. Especially pretty? I sat down on a bench and Googled my name, discovering that I was in fact being sued, this time for posting a photo of myself on Instagram that had been taken by a paparazzo. I didn’t say a word. What does true empowerment even feel like? I’d been lying next to a pool under the white Los Angeles sun when a friend sent me a link to a website called 4chan. And I have learned that my image, my reflection, is not my own. Did you?,” I asked, trying to catch my breath. The makeup artist rubbed her nails roughly into my scalp, loosening my curls. “This one is so good because of your nipples. Only his mouth was visible, the rest of his face eclipsed by his camera. *This article appears in the September 14, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. I felt free: free of the asshole bosses my friends had to deal with, free of student-loan debt, and free to travel and eat out more and do whatever the hell I pleased. I looked him up online occasionally; I almost felt like I was checking in on a part of me, the part of me he now owned. I didn’t think I could survive going through what I’d been through again. “See you’re getting sued. At the time, I’d made just enough money to pay for half of a down payment on my first apartment with him. It seemed strange to me that he or I should have to buy back a picture of myself — especially one I had posted on Instagram, which up until then had felt like the only place where I could control how I present myself to the world, a shrine to my autonomy. Of her. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. The New York Post headline for Jonathan Leder’s gallery show in 2017 read: “Emily Ratajkowski doesn’t want you to see this art show.” People went anyway. I was dumbfounded by his easy dismissal of my life’s plan, and began to panic. As Jonathan shot the first Polaroid, I explained that modeling was just about making money for me. I couldn’t believe how many people had turned up despite my very public protest. Jim was well meaning but an alarmist; he wished to maintain a relationship with me, and these alerts provided him with perfect opportunities to reach out. I felt suddenly terrified. There was no release. I’m sure she was sick of my posturing with Jonathan. “What book?”

By then, I’d appeared in David Fincher’s Gone Girl and on the covers of international magazines. He came over and put his arms around my back, whispering, “I think you’re perfect.” I felt myself stiffen. The next day, I wired my ex the money. The gallery responded by going to the New York Times and telling the paper that it had a signed model release from me. He talked about his “crazy” ex-wife and his affair with a “crazy” actress, now 21 (a year older than me, I noted). His Instagram was mostly pictures of his home and a few strange, retro images of a very young-looking Russian woman with obvious breast implants. All energy bunny now that it’s sunny,” it reads. I felt more comfortable upon her arrival; the pressure was off me to know how to be and how to compensate for Jonathan’s strangeness now that another adult was there and a woman. I’ve become more familiar with seeing myself through the paparazzi’s lenses than I am with looking at myself in the mirror. I opened an IRA and paid off my first and only year at college with the money I’d made. “Maybe take off the red lipstick, fuck up your hair.” He waved his hand at the makeup artist and went to the counter to open another bottle of wine, pouring fresh glasses for himself and me. She seemed so vulnerable in Jonathan’s photos, even though I could tell she was trying to look strong and grown up from the way she held her face square to the camera, chin up, her hair falling perfectly over one eye. We went back and forth via email until he told me I needed to pay him $10,000 for the study, a price he’d arrived at from his “knowledge of the market.”

“But it was a gift to me!” I wrote. This article was featured in One Great Story, New York’s reading recommendation newsletter. It’s fairly typical for agents to sign releases on behalf of models (a pretty unacceptable norm), but I knew she wasn’t sloppy. My ex told me he “hadn’t thought about that” and told me he’d moved the piece into storage. I developed a new habit of sleeping during the day. The piece was a reproduction of a photo from my first appearance in Sports Illustrated. I’d studied art at UCLA and could appreciate Prince’s Warholian take on Instagram. I felt my stomach turn. You’re obsessed! If I hadn’t been protected during my shoot with Jonathan, what did that mean for all the other thousands, maybe millions, of photos of me that had been taken over the years? I dressed quickly in the clothes I’d been wearing the day before and noticed that my hands were shaking. I was confident naked — unafraid and proud. Years passed, and I tucked the images and Jonathan somewhere deep in my memory. The arrangement was my own; I’d picked flowers from various buckets around the shop while telling the women behind the counter that my friend was turning 40. I hated them, and I hated the way I’d felt while shooting them. There was one of me in black-and-white: a nude photograph of my body in profile, seated with my head in my hands, my eyes narrowed and beckoning, an image that was taken for the cover of a magazine. I said nothing and nodded, confused but somehow feeling that he meant to insult me. I could feel the shape of myself and my ridges, and it really, really hurt. A few months later, my agent received the oversize, heavy magazine with the Polaroids printed in its pages. He had captioned it simply “iCarly.”

It was only as I sat on the bus headed back to the city that I realized Jonathan had never paid me back for the fare. I hung the giant Instagram painting, the image from the Sports Illustrated shoot, on a prominent wall in my new home in Los Angeles. My dad was a high-school teacher; my mom was an English teacher. When we arrived at Jonathan’s home, two children were sitting at the kitchen table. When my lawyer called the New York Times to let the paper know that whatever documents Jonathan and the gallery were claiming to have did not exist, he was informed that Jonathan had “supplied a copy of the release” signed by my former agent. I’d purchased the flowers for my friend Mary’s birthday at a shop around the corner from my old apartment in Noho. A post on 4chan had compiled a list of actresses and models whose nudes would be published, and my name was on it. In exchange for two other pieces of art, I received ownership of the Prince. My boyfriend asked the studio, and some months later, a 24-inch mounted black-and-white “study” arrived. I was used to defining myself with this explanation, to men especially. Besides, my agent was in full control of my career: I did what she told me to do, and in return, she was supposed to expand my portfolio so I could book more paid jobs and establish myself in the industry. “I’m like really, really tiny.”

I knew what pictures he was referencing, from early in my career. I began to take my career more seriously, too: I dropped out of UCLA to pursue modeling and was working quite regularly. The wild-looking flowers substitute for my head, as if the arrangement had grown skinny legs and thrown on dirty white sneakers — a bouquet hitting the concrete streets, taking a walk out on the town. Most of what came next was a blur except for the feeling. Later in the morning, I woke with a vicious hangover. It was a different shot than the large piece we had purchased, but I still felt victorious. I’d lost ten pounds in five days and a chunk of hair fell out a week later, leaving a perfectly round circle of white skin on the back of my head. When the piece arrived, I was annoyed. Jim was a lawyer, familiar with people calling him up to ask for legal advice and therefore used to doling out his opinion even when it wasn’t solicited. I hated most of the photos from that spread because I didn’t look like myself: The makeup was too heavy, there were too many extensions in my hair, and the editors had kept telling me to smile in a fake way. As I looked at the images, I grew competitive. Help me get him to back off this ridiculous ransom? I listened for a sign of him as I watched the blue light of dawn peek in through the window. I posted the photograph of me using the bouquet as a shield on my Instagram because I liked what it said about my relationship with the paparazzi, and now I was being sued for it. Does he think I’m smart? “He, like, sits under naked you.”

But it turned out Prince had made another Instagram painting of me, and this one was still available. “iCarly,” Jonathan said, smirking as he shot. There it was: Emily Ratajkowski, the book, priced at $80. Photo: Robert O’Neil / Splash News, Photo by Robert O’Neil, the subject of O’Neil v. This is the girl that was naked in Treats! But I like them when they’re gigantic,” he said, opening his phone to show me a vintage pinup of a woman with oversize nipples. I peered at the pictures from over his shoulder. To say she enjoyed being naked is an understatement. I could try to force him to cease production of his books; I could tangle him up in a legal fight that drains us both, but I’m not convinced that spending any more of my resources on Jonathan would be money well spent. If I wanted to see that picture every day, I could just look at my own grid. I remember the way she sighed as she turned away from me, vanishing. I never told anyone about what happened, and I tried not to think about it. A big girl,” he said, his brow furrowing as he picked up another Polaroid for inspection. When he laid out old-fashioned lingerie on a kitchen chair, I began to grasp what type of girl he wanted me to be. Just split it with him. Eventually, after enough people asked, I decided to translate the comment myself. I felt my frustration grow. “Giant and exaggerated.” He looked back to his phone, and the corners of his mouth turned up slightly. I’m completely unrecognizable in it; only my bare legs and the big old-fashioned tweed blazer I was wearing are visible. We headed to the upstairs bedroom to begin shooting. I noted the time from a clock on the wall: How are we going to shoot today if it’ll be dark in just an hour and a half? I wasn’t doing anything fancy or important, mostly e-commerce jobs for places like Forever 21 and Nordstrom, but the money was better than what any of my friends were making as waitresses or in retail. I started talking faster and louder. I began to run through the countless shoots I’d done in my early career. I don’t know if it empowered her or she enjoyed the attention.”

I felt dizzy as I wondered the same thing. “It’s kind of awkward,” a friend of mine said, describing the painting’s placement in the gallerist’s home. In the photo, I’m holding a gigantic vase of flowers that completely covers my face. My fingers went numb as I read the comments from eager customers on Jonathan’s page. “I guess this comes with the territory of being a public persona,” he wrote in a follow-up text. “It’s not a way to save real money.”

“I don’t buy bags,” I said weakly, but I began to doubt myself. But I was still determined. He seemed distinctly disinterested in me and didn’t meet my eyes as he drove us in a vintage car over streets lined with tall grass. Fat.” He half-smiled. “I’m not dumb; I know modeling has its expiration date. But I did like a few of the images of me in body paint and had posted one of those pictures, which Prince then reused for this “painting.”

Prince’s comment on that post, included among several others at the bottom of the painting, alludes to an imagined day he has spent with me on the beach: “U told me the truth. I followed behind, shoeless and in my lingerie set. I was paid $150 for the shoot and a couple grand later, when the magazine came out, for the “usage” of my image. Speaking out about the images had only drawn more attention to the show, the book, and to Jonathan. I was pumped full of so much sugary wine that I felt wide awake, albeit very, very drunk. Were they all meticulously labeled in a giant filing cabinet somewhere in his attic, the names of young women written in ink on their assigned drawers? I blocked everyone on Instagram who was involved, but I didn’t let myself cry. I hated the way the stylist had made comments about my body, about how I could never be a fashion model. A little boring, I remember thinking. “I never signed anything. I put my lingerie back on, and we made our way back downstairs, Jonathan in front of me, gripping the Polaroids in his fists before dropping them on the kitchen table. She was making me look pretty, transforming me to fit Jonathan’s aesthetic vision. Photography assistance by Matt Shrier. I just want to save a lot of money and then go back to school or start making art or whatever.”

Jonathan frowned as he inspected the Polaroid. Sign up here to get it nightly. It was intoxicating to see what he’d done with this part of me he’d stolen. Freer. I stood up carefully, pressing my bare feet against the floorboards. Could they offer some clarity or assistance? Even the love and appreciation of a man I trusted, I had learned, could mutate into possessiveness. My name was written on the wall in black lettering. “But I am almost 100 percent sure I didn’t sign anything.”

The next day, she forwarded me an email sent in the days following the shoot, in which the agency had requested Jonathan’s signature on the model release. They were unrelenting. How validating. douchebags with strategically placed highlights in their hair who smelled like sweet cologne. In 2012, my agent told me I should buy a bus ticket from Penn Station to the Catskills, where a photographer named Jonathan Leder would pick me up and reimburse me for my fare. “She was very pleasant to speak with, and very intelligent and well-spoken, and cultured. When I looked up Jonathan’s work online, I saw a few fashion editorials he’d shot on film. Everyone, especially my boyfriend, made me feel like I should be honored to have been included in the series. I brought my hand instinctively to his wrist and pulled his fingers out of me with force. I opened my iPhone’s selfie camera in my lap to check her work. He stood up abruptly and scurried silently into the darkness up the stairs. I promised myself that I wouldn’t look him up anymore. He had a small frame and was plainly dressed in jeans and a T-shirt.

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From Recovery High to MTV

For the reach, this is where it should be.”

Faith, whose senior year is covered in the show, had figured the documentary would land someplace with more of an educational lens: the History Channel, PBS. There’s probably footage of every single one of my students in a really bad place.”

“There’s a fine line in a documentary between balancing the good you’re trying to do with the vulnerability of those whose stories you undertake to tell, and that’s particularly true with young people,” said Liss. “And I had no interest in that. We still treat it like a moral failure.”

Lipinski trusted Liss enough to give him “full reign of my school,” she said. Since 2006, when Michelle Lipinski, the founder and principal of Recovery, started her school, she has done a lot of public speaking, including a 2012 Ted Talk, trying to explain her mission to a nation beset by addiction. “And I screamed at him because I really don’t want to feel like I have to protect myself when I’m trying to grieve.”

At the same time, she’s grateful her experiences with her friends who are no longer here were captured on film by Liss. “I had no idea what he was filming all the day long. The mother of a student who died during filming says it plainly: “This system failed him at every turn.”

“The fact that the system that was supposed to help him stood in his way, placed barriers in his way, that was a terrible shock,” Liss said. “At first, the name was a source of concern to me,” he said. “God as my witness, I really thought that everybody does this!” she told Vulture. When we spoke a week before the premiere, she’d already gotten a bunch of messages just from people who’ve seen the trailer. “That was where the trust came along … You can either show us in the light of recovery and hope, or you can show us looking like a disaster. “I think 13 Reasons Why fell into that a little bit.”

Faith says the only time she remembers asking Liss to stop shooting was when she found out about the death of a friend of hers, a graduate of Recovery who was interning at the school. “And I should know better. Because they were all so bright and loving and kind, that [it’s good] being able to just see them and hear their voice sometimes.”

“It’s so weird,” Faith reflected. And it works how? For me, that is my normal.”

Tags: Northshore Recovery High students with the school’s founder and principal, Michelle Lapinski. Its stars’ faces could frequently be seen on salacious tabloid covers. I know the system is problematic. “When they said MTV, I was kind of nervous because of what MTV usually is: They exploit people, from what I’ve seen,” she told Vulture. Photo: Courtesy of MTV

Northshore Recovery High School, a public high school in Beverly, Massachusetts, is at once self-explanatory — a high school for students grappling with addiction, with their eyes on a sober future — and totally baffling. Liss “obviously didn’t bring it to us as a 16 and,” Hurvitz said. But I wasn’t going to get the normal high-school experience anyway, because I went to Recovery High School. There was and remains plenty of side-eye about the show and its spinoff/sequel, Teen Mom: That it glamorized teen pregnancy; that its cast was put on display to be gawked at, not empathized with, by the audience. “I’m either going to end up dead, in jail, institutions, or sober,” says Sam, a Recovery student. “But I really don’t want to be sober.” Alba, a self-described unofficial “cheerleader” of Recovery High (as Jerry is to Cheer, so Alba is to 16 and Recovering), says that when she’s going through a depressive episode, “You can cheer other people up, but you can’t cheer yourself up.” “I’m an addict,” she says later. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study from 2018 found that opioid-overdose death rates among U.S. We’re trying to put a human face on a problem that is so often misunderstood, and so often mischaracterized … We talk the talk about, ‘Oh, it’s a disease,’ but we don’t walk the walk. It was, at times, unclear where exactly the series fell on the spectrum spanning education, entertainment, and exploitation. It wasn’t the drugs that killed him. And it was really them who came to us after we met with them and talked extensively about the impact of social media and what can happen when trolls engage online … We had these calls where they kept saying, ‘We are not ashamed of this; we don’t want to be hidden away; we want to talk; we want to tell our stories.’”

For anyone expecting something more in that MTV “reality” vein — producer-staged screaming matches, scripted mascara tears — 16 and Recovering will surprise you. Liss, a former staff photographer at Time magazine and documentary filmmaker, had spent the 2017–2018 school year shooting at Northshore Recovery High School. You couldn’t have picked a worse or better year to have filmed exactly what happened in my school. “We’re going to lose a generation,” she says, “because we treat them like they’re bad when they’re sick.”

As the series unfolds, viewers meet teenagers who speak about their circumstances with a stunning clarity and bruising self-awareness. But she trusted Liss, who assured the students that if they didn’t like something, he would take it out or redo it. “But we never shied away from telling real and authentic stories of our audiences and what was affecting them most.”

“You can show us in the light of recovery and hope, or you can show us looking like a disaster.”

At Recovery High, a positive result on a drug test is not the end of one’s education, but the beginning of a conversation. This isn’t a reality show. “But we do believe that if you tell a story without all the artifice … it really invites an audience in … We’re very careful behind the scenes to show these stories with a lot of intention.”

By the time 16 and Pregnant went off the air, MTV had some promising data on its side: A media study from 2014 that combined viewership and birth data found that teenagers who watched 16 and Pregnant would often follow the episodes by going online and searching for information about birth control and abortion. “And now I’m learning: They don’t. But to see it happen before my eyes, that was a surprise. Why don’t people just go 110 percent and do what’s right for these children? children and teenagers have tripled since 2000, with the highest risk hitting older teenagers, who made up 88 percent of the deaths in the study. As someone who attended a public high school where students were regularly reprimanded for, among other supposedly education-derailing offenses, wearing tank tops whose straps were not three fingers wide, the practices of a place like Recovery feel so accepting as to be almost anarchic. It’s what needs to get done and you get it done.”

In 16 and Recovering, the new MTV docuseries set at her high school, Lipinski lays out the stakes in her signature tone: compassionate and matter-of-fact, Tami Taylor by way of the T. “But the choice was, do we want to make this small indie film that maybe is something not too many people will see, and the kids who really need to see it won’t see it? Recovery offers an alternative way: A school with a relapse policy, counseling on demand, hugs all the time. She doesn’t get what everybody doesn’t get. “This is breaking new ground for reality television, I feel like. It is a place where a positive result on a drug test (they are administered often and at random) is not the end of one’s education but the beginning of a conversation. Eventually they settled on four episodes to air during September 2020, to coincide with National Recovery Month. “The good parts. And that is a big trust. I think he really wanted to get the emotion of it,” she said. Photo: Courtesy of MTV

Lily Neumeyer, MTV’s executive vice-president of development, started her career at the network years ago, co-creating and executive-producing a very different type of show about high schoolers: My Super Sweet 16. “The biggest thing that struck me from the footage was: I can’t believe a place like this exists,” Neumeyer said. “This isn’t pretend,” said Joe, who was a senior during filming. These findings linked 16 and Pregnant to a 5.7 percent reduction in teen births, one-third of the total decline. “Because the majority of my high-school experience, there was a camera in my face. “As long as it makes at least one person realize they’re worthy of sobriety, I’m okay.”

Hurvitz says that Liss got consent from the kids and, in some cases, their parents when filming began, and that when MTV came onboard, they got an additional round. We really aren’t trying to glamorize these kids.”

Hurvitz adds, “We weren’t sure that we were going to make participants in this doc series available to speak with reporters. Overall, “I have mixed feelings toward it [being on MTV],” Faith said. “But I wanna not kill myself and learn how to be alive.”

The school is one kind of experiment: What happens when you reject the conventional American strategy on combating substance abuse — to declare war on drugs and treat addicts as criminals — and the conventional wisdom about what “troubled” kids need to thrive in an academic environment: uniforms, militaristic discipline, zero-tolerance policies for minor infractions? I can’t say enough how much we thought about that. “Almost without exception, they have been most interested in telling their true stories in what happened to them over that year than trying to change anything. This is the realest reality show there can be. Hurvitz pointed to the website MTV is rolling out alongside 16 and Recovering in collaboration with experts on the subject, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as a sign that the series is mission-driven and the network is taking its social responsibility seriously. “These kids aren’t a cast of characters. “But then I realized, we will live or die by our own merits, and our own content.”

For the Recovery High community, the news that MTV was interested was a major plot twist. For me, it’s intuitive. But I’m glad that such a big platform is able to show recovery in adolescents because I think people need that.”

The magnitude of attention the show will inevitably bring is “a little frightening,” Faith said. “I was shocked in the beginning,” said Lipinski. “I know MTV is 50/50 good/bad, [and] it depends on the person. MTV wants to be where the young people are, which requires both (belatedly) getting onboard with the biggest band on the face of the Earth and addressing the serious issues teenagers face. “It wasn’t something he would have thought of as a documentary filmmaker. “I told him to turn the camera off, and he didn’t listen in that moment. But MTV was more enthusiastic about the project than anybody else, he said, and, more important to Liss, “they had a track record for advocacy … I know the impact that MTV has had, particularly with young people. It’s so easy to have that salacious story.”

“I’m sure there’s stuff that happened that year that looks more like Jersey Shore than 16 and Pregnant,” Lipinski added, laughing. From the jump, Liss and Lipinski agreed on a few no-go zones: No depicting anyone using, buying, or selling drugs. “I think back in the day when 16 and Pregnant was conceived, the idea wasn’t necessarily from the get-go to effect change in teenage pregnancy. “And why aren’t there other places like this?”

“The name was a source of concern.”

Lipinski says she was “shocked” when the series ended up on MTV, but then realized that, “For the reach, this is where it should be.”
Photo: Courtesy of MTV

It was, Hurvitz said, “a little unusual” for MTV to work this way — with someone who had already shot the bulk of their material — and early on, they didn’t know what shape it would take: how many episodes, how many stories, what the MTV version of it would be. “We are not unaware of the idea that portraying someone on television can lead to a romanticization of their situation,” said Benjamin Hurvitz, an executive producer on 16 and Recovering who oversees the Teen Mom franchise. Most of the instances where we took something out was because we were uncomfortable with it.”

Asked about the risk for exploitation when dealing with a population this young, particularly given the nature of their lives — the show includes scenes in which students, for instance, arrive at school too high to stay there — Hurvitz said, “I feel very strongly about not exploiting their stories. But she’s at a point where that level of exposure doesn’t rattle her too much. “I wanted someplace that would be provocative, in the most positive sense of that word.”

From his hundreds of hours of footage, Liss gave Neumeyer about four minutes on which to base her decision. It was the system that killed him.”

Hurvitz noted they had hours and hours of footage of different memorials and the student’s funeral, and they had to be mindful not to “overmemorialize.” “That can lead to people looking at that and saying, ‘I wish people cared about me that way,’ and that’s a dangerous thing,” he said. By the eighth death, we were like, ‘Oh my God, you can’t put this out there.’”

But while past depictions of overdoses and drug use often placed the nexus of guilt and responsibility on the individual user — see: Rachael Leigh Cook smashing the egg in the frying pan, admonishing stoners everywhere, “This is your brain on drugs” — 16 and Recovering takes a more expansive view, indicting the systems that profit from and perpetuate drug use, that fail to provide adequate care to those who need it. It’s a whole new way of looking at addiction itself.”

 “That is my normal.”

“It was the worst year of my life, that year,” Lipinski said. He’s also an associate professor at Endicott College, and a former student of his had shot a short film on mental health and substance abuse at Recovery that involved students, which “was a really good experience,” Lipinski said. She now oversees unscripted development for the whole phalanx of Viacom brands — MTV, VH1, CMT, and Logo — and had been searching for a few years for content on the opioid crisis when, in 2019, Steve Liss walked into her office. That’s not how creative people approach social-justice issues,” he said. In 2020, that means covering the opioid crisis, which kills 145 Americans every day. You can go all the way back to Rock the Vote or 16 and Pregnant and the measurable impact that they had with pregnancy and young people.” He was impressed with MTV’s plans for the website that would make the show “into a campaign.”

“This was about being a catalyst for discussion, and that’s what MTV does,” Liss said. “Just so you know. “It’d be very easy in a story like this to go for the jugular, the sensational, the low-hanging fruit of those kinds of visual clichés,” Liss told Vulture. When 16 and Pregnant premiered on MTV in 2009, its aim was to provide an unvarnished and compelling look at teen pregnancy, which at the time was already on the decline in the U.S. This is a piece of journalism.”

Liss shopped the project, which he’d envisioned as a feature film, to “the usual suspects: Netflix, HBO, and all the rest,” he said. But when we saw the footage and saw the raw and impactful storytelling of these portrayals of these students, we knew it would be a natural fit.”

Liss was initially apprehensive about his work being folded into the 16 and extended universe. “It was done incredibly tastefully, and the students felt heard.” When Liss reached out to Lipinski about shooting a longer feature about the school, she was inclined to say yes, hoping that perhaps his film would be something she could take around with her to speaking gigs and, she said, “help me sound like I’m not so far out on the fringe of education.” Parents, staff, and students were all onboard, too. The third episode airs tonight. It’s a what? But we did have this trust between us that he wasn’t going to exploit the children. The show is a kind of experiment, too.

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Delusions of Whiteness

“This didn’t seem to her like the sort of house where black people lived,” Alam writes of Amanda, the white woman; immediately after, she wonders what she meant by that. “I wanted to succeed at a game I didn’t devise but whose rules I was able to read and internalize.”

Not until he’d graduated from Oberlin, moved to New York City, and begun working at Condé Nast did he become fully aware of his race and how it marked him as different from his white peers. “With Amanda, we get to dissect white entitlement, and I thought, What a fascinating challenge for America’s sweetheart to examine that privilege.” After Roberts came onboard, Esmail asked her to reach out to Washington about the role of G.H., the homeowner, an allusion to a racist thought Amanda blurts out in the novel: “You know, you look a little like Denzel Washington.”

Like many white people who live in Brooklyn, Clay and Amanda imagine themselves to be more enlightened than they are. The fantasy was punctured when he ran into his boss’s mother, whom he’d met many times. That feeling did not last long. The Black critic Rebecca Carroll, who was raised by adoptive white parents, asked in the Los Angeles Times, “What does it tell us that a gay brown adoptive father of two black children chose to tell the story of interracial adoption by centering it on the experience of a white woman?” (She doesn’t attempt to answer.) She described Rebecca as the “embodiment of white privilege, which would be less grating if she had any real sense of this throughout the novel.” Yet that was Alam’s point: a defining feature of whiteness is the lack of awareness that accompanies it. As in his earlier books, Alam displays a gift for writing about wealthy white people, capturing white women in particular with cutting precision. It was a dream job — of course it was — and he pictured himself working at that hallowed institution for the rest of his career. He started there in 2000 as an assistant to the editor of the now-defunct Lucky magazine and continued to work for the company on and off, floating from role to role, for the next eight years. When they ask to be let in, the uncomfortable prejudices lurking beneath the guests’ nice white liberal façade rise to the surface. “I write about the living embodiment of a certain kind of blindness.”

*This article appears in the September 14, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. In the middle of the night, a wealthy Black couple show up, declare that they are the homeowners, and bring news of a mysterious apocalyptic event. found on eBay, a pitcher with a silhouette by Kara Walker. “It underscored the way in which an Establishment that judges what fiction is will always append that modifier,” he says: Indian fiction. At Oberlin, where he studied creative writing, he began work on a novel about a rich white woman studying at a midwestern liberal-arts college. The book was well received, but some seemed bewildered by Alam’s identity. “I remember this moment of utter euphoria, where I felt like I was going to do right by my children,” he recalls. An obsessive reader, he exhausted the children’s branch of the local library when he was 9 or 10 and moved on to adult material — Agatha Christie, Robert Ludlum, and Tom Clancy. Leave the World Behind is out on October 6. “I thought, This is my last chance — I haven’t hit a home run yet.” For the first time, he would try to write about an Indian immigrant. My kids don’t give a fuck about what I do, and I think it’s very important to me to have someone in my life who does not give a fuck about what I do.”

After more than 15 years of trying to finish his first novel, at 37, Alam finally knocked off a first draft in three months. “We went from talking about the frustrations of bureaucracy to talking about the logic of novels,” she says. A troubling thought crept into his mind, one that had dogged him throughout his years working at prestigious New York media institutions: What if the Times had hired him not because it valued his mind but because it wanted to prove it cared about diversity? “My parents really valued assimilation,” Alam tells me. Clay and Amanda, the Brooklyn couple at the center of the story, soothe themselves by indulging in a fantasy of being richer than they are. “We live in a suburban part of New York and have a minivan. “My work is autobiographical,” he told me the other day over vodkas-on-ice in his Brooklyn backyard. He doesn’t know why he couldn’t finish the draft he’d set out to write. His parents moved there from Bangladesh in the ’70s in pursuit of higher education and a stable life. As Esmail was reading, he immediately pictured Roberts, with whom he’d worked on the series Homecoming. As a child of high-achieving immigrants growing up in Reagan’s America, Alam did not want to be niche. In 1997, after his sophomore year, The New Yorker published a special fiction issue dedicated to Indian writers. He had achieved plenty of critical acclaim, but he hadn’t yet made the best-seller list. “I never published a novel before I had a child. It was bitterly cold in the city, and he found himself daydreaming about a vacation his family had taken to the Hamptons — an early seed of inspiration for Leave the World Behind. They were extremely clear about that.” The second of four children, Alam recalls a childhood devoid of any remnants of his heritage. The novel allows the reader only a few glimpses into whatever calamity has befallen the characters — a mysterious blackout in New York City, sonic booms powerful enough to make your teeth fall out. Land is white, and their boys are Black, and sometimes when Alam speaks about his family, he seems to be addressing an imaginary white suburbanite, the sort who might look at his family and think it strange. The Times offered him the editorial job two months later, and he set his fiction writing on the back burner as he attempted, once again, to fold himself into life at a media institution. “But no one can see it.”

The details of Alam’s life, both large and small, are hidden throughout his novels. Alam has lived here with his husband, the photographer David Land, and their two adopted sons for about a decade. “I am such a deeply underconfident person,” he says, “but I am an excellent performer.”

On the way to the yard, he whisked me through his home, which has been featured regularly on design websites, past a stylish blur of saturated colors and overlapping patterns lined with eclectic art: a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. But a few months into his tenure, he began to feel he was failing. For as long as he had been a writer, Alam imagined that certain people, including editors and publishers, expected him to write about people he outwardly resembled. “Having kids was liberation,” Alam says. Alam had come to the conclusion that he was “no longer suited to institutional life” and dedicated himself to finishing a draft of Leave the World Behind. “There was this delusion,” Alam said, that persisted through his young adulthood “that shattered in my actual adulthood.” He recalls one upsetting experience in his mid-20s, when his boss invited him to a birthday party at her townhouse in Carroll Gardens. Tags: In December 2017, he holed up in an apartment on the Upper West Side that the crime writer Laura Lippman had lent to him. His formative years were spent trying to emulate works by white authors because that was what he understood literature to be. Julie Barer, the agent he submitted the manuscript to, found it clever and absorbing, especially for the way it shined a light on the domestic moments of women’s lives. But then he began showing up to their coffee dates with pages. “I’m just going to do numerous awesome jumps,” proclaims his younger son, Xavier, climbing up onto the raised trampoline. Some 18 months later, several producers and directors courted Alam. The effect wasn’t, as some might imagine, a widening of possibility, a blueprint for how he might approach his own career. With a contract in hand, Alam decided to attempt something different. When I mention this to him, he laughs. Finally, at 40, he felt more secure than he ever had in his career. This thought had haunted his life as a novelist as well. They didn’t say it outright, but he sometimes felt their faces or tones betrayed that they found him interesting less because of anything he said or wrote than because of where his parents happened to be from. As he nursed a cocktail, he indulged in an intoxicating thought, one any young professional in New York might find familiar: “I’m a young nobody, but I’m here in this beautiful mansion and I work at this magazine and I feel like I belong here,” Alam recalls. and his wife, Ruth, are who they say they are. “Are you actually a woman?” joked an interviewer at Vogue. That book, Rich and Pretty, followed the arc of a friendship between two women living in New York who were likewise vaguely dissatisfied with their jobs. That Kind of Mother was the first novel of a two-book deal. Maybe it was his old reluctance to write a character that looked like him; maybe the other project just seemed sexier. Subscribe Now! “I went into this book with a ‘fuck it’ spirit,” he said. His mother became a doctor, his father an architect, and together they built an upper-middle-class life for their children. You’re not like, Oh, I’m a brown person learning how to enact whiteness,” he says. As we drained the last of our drinks, he contemplated the threads of autobiography woven through his books. “I felt like I belonged there, but of course I didn’t,” he says, “and I just needed to be reminded of that to see it completely differently.”

We’re sitting at a wrought-iron table in the backyard garden of his house in Prospect–Lefferts Gardens, the vodka-and-ice easing the weight of the sun bearing down on us. Photo: Justin French

A little more than two years ago, the novelist and critic Rumaan Alam landed a job as the editor of special projects at The New York Times Book Review. Was he just not good enough to make it work? At the grocery store, Amanda buys coffee filters made from recycled paper (and dozens of other items Alam describes with anthropological precision), but she struggles to come to terms with the fact that a Black family owns a house she and her husband can’t afford. “This had a huge effect on me,” Alam says. He was so disturbed by this possibility that he quit the job before the year was out. He’d already spent years working in magazines and advertising and women’s fashion, feeling unsatisfied with his career. A comedy of manners wrapped inside a tense disaster plot, it was easy to see in cinematic form. “It’s a conventional family in many ways,” he says. “What if this was some con? “They were leaving a political system that had failed, and there was no desire on the part of either of my parents to look back with any rose-colored perspective. “Assimilation is not done in a way that is self-aware. It’s not as much of a stretch as it may seem to some people.”

“My children will be home at any minute,” he warns cheerfully, pouring us each another drink, and then they are there, rushing out into the backyard, zeroing in on a cheese and charcuterie plate Alam has assembled. “He’s so good at playing the game,” she says. In Alam’s backyard, night had fallen, and most of the bottle of vodka was gone. Perfect strangers worming their way into the house, into their lives.” Another sort of thriller might have played up the ambiguity for suspense, but Alam quickly lets the reader know that G.H. Alam didn’t want to go into the details of why the job didn’t work out, but he said it took him back to how he’d felt when he was 25 at his old boss’s house: “The realization that I think I’m one thing but the world doesn’t see me that way.” Alam’s friend the author Lynn Steger Strong was disturbed he hadn’t made it at the Times. Like the protagonist of his second book, That Kind of Mother, he grew up in an affluent suburb of Washington, D.C., “which is like growing up nowhere,” he says. “I was raised like any other white kid in any other nice house in any other fancy American suburb,” he says. Netflix has already snapped it up after a heated bidding war, with Sam Esmail directing and Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington set to star. This perception had partly shaped his first two novels, which he’d written from the perspectives of wealthy white women, a choice that felt to him like a quiet act of rebellion. “It was so spot-on,” she told him, “I would have paid money that it was written by a woman.”

That Kind of Mother — the story of an affluent white poet, Rebecca, who adopts a Black child — hews even closer to Alam’s life. While his first book touches on race obliquely, his second uses the conventions of a domestic novel to explore the protagonist’s racial blind spots and self-absorption. What interests him is the delusion at the heart of whiteness, the belief that people of color don’t belong in your space, even when you’re the interloper. In that moment, however, she mistook him for her driver. “How are you still talking?” asked his eldest, Simon, reaching for another square of cheese, incredulous. But as he ground away, turning out more than a hundred pages of a draft, he had trouble focusing. For a brief period after he decided to quit, she remembers him being in a sort of dazed free fall. He already knew he wanted to be a writer. An unsettling and seductive literary thriller, it begins with an upper-middle-class white family vacationing at a luxurious Airbnb in the Hamptons. It may not look like it, but, in a way, his latest is his immigrant novel: both a product of the way he was raised to belong and his realization that he never really would. According to Dan Chaon, a professor of Alam’s at Oberlin, he had always been good at “revealing people in all their laughable delusions.” But Leave the World Behind goes further than his previous novels, “taking apart the privilege of believing nothing bad could ever happen to you,” Chaon adds. Alam says he had no sense that he was different from his classmates at school, who were nearly all white. The winter he left the Times, he secluded himself from his family in Brooklyn hotel rooms and poured his existential dread into his writing. He felt that Esmail, known for his work directing stylish TV thrillers, understood its themes best. We were there to be American. They went to the country club, ate tuna casserole and Kix cereal, didn’t go to a mosque, and had few South Asian friends. Charming and self-deprecating, Alam leans back beneath the shade of the umbrella, his chambray shirt unbuttoned at the neck, the sleeves rolled up to reveal the dark outline of a Bengal-tiger tattoo. His novelist friends describe him as the platonic ideal of the literary man-about-town, the sort of person you’d want to linger with in the corner at a party, listening to his witty observations about the other guests. The resulting book, Leave the World Behind, is poised to be one of the biggest titles of the fall.

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Good Times Animated Series Produced by Norman Lear Is Headed to Netflix

Photo: CBS

Good Times, the classic Norman Lear sitcom that originally aired on CBS from 1974 to 1979, is being brought back to life in the form of an animated series on Netflix. — created the updated series and will serve as showrunner. “We are excited to carry on the original legacy of Good Times — but now animated and a little edgier. Time to brush up on your Good Times theme-song knowledge:

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Viola Davis and Andre Braugher to Star in Live Good Times, a Great Time for Us

Tags: “It’s a dream come true to be working with the legendary talents of Norman Lear, Seth MacFarlane, and Stephen Curry,” Jones said in the press release. Good Times. Carl Jones — who has worked on The Boondocks, Black Dynamite, and The Last O.G. Let’s just say the struggle has just gotten strugglier.” Lear had previously brought back Good Times in the form of a Live in Front of a Studio Audience special on ABC in December 2019. The streaming network announced today that it has ordered an animated series based on the ’70s comedy, which will be set in the present day and follow the Evans family “as they navigate today’s world and contemporary social issues.” According to the press release, “Just as the original did years ago, Good Times strives to remind us that with the love of our family, we can keep our heads above water.”

Lear is credited as an executive producer on the new series, along with Seth MacFarlane and Stephen Curry.

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Animated Series, Variety, Docuseries, & More: Our Creative Arts Emmy Predictions

Given that track record, I am predicting a win for Queer Eye, even though a win for Love Is Blind, the reality show that foresaw a world, pre-pandemic, in which we’d be living in pods and dating from a distance, would be a fun change of pace. In recent years, the many, many Emmys not given out during the main prime-time broadcast have been handed out over two nights. El Camino was fine and engaging enough, but Bad Education was one of the best movies of the year in any medium. Will win: Live in Front of a Studio AudienceShould win: Live in Front of a Studio Audience

Outstanding Variety Special (Prerecorded)

The nominees:Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones (Netflix)Dave Chappelle: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (PBS)Hannah Gadsby: Douglas (Netflix)Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill (Netflix)John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch (Netflix)Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah (Netflix)

One thing is clear: Netflix is probably going to walk away with a trophy for one of its comedy specials. I have to think that oversight will be rectified this year. Instead, this one’s going to come down to the veteran — SNL, which has won this Emmy for the past three consecutive years — and the up-and-comer, A Black Lady Sketch Show, the first series in this genre starring, written, and directed by exclusively Black women. Let’s save that one for next year. Saturday’s ceremony, to be held in a pandemic-appropriate virtual format, will be broadcast on FXX, while the other evening ceremonies will be streamed on the Emmy Awards’ website. It’s got several elements that appeal to industry folks: a reverence for and elevation of classic television, deep affection for Norman Lear, and a strong cast putting their own spins on familiar characters in a live environment. Maisel. Maisel, “One Less Angel”This Is Us, “Memorized”Watchmen, “The Way It Used to Be”

This is a really strong category this year, but I think voters will be swayed by “The Way It Used to Be,” the Trent Reznor–Atticus Ross song that seamlessly fits in with the other period music in the Watchmen episode “This Extraordinary Being.” That said, it would be amazing if “Eat Shit, Bob,” the profane, lawsuit-baiting musical number John Oliver directed at climate-change-denying businessman Bob Murray, somehow emerged victorious. Fine. In an effort to prepare for this five-day onslaught of TV trophy distribution, here are our predictions in 16 key categories. the Reverend

The three nominees with the strongest chance of winning here are American Son, Bad Education, and El Camino. Personally, I think Hillary does the most to realign viewers’ understanding of one of the most significant figures in modern American history, but I suspect voters will choose another docuseries that also realigns viewers’ understanding of a significant American figure while also being a widely watched sensation: The Last Dance. This year, that process will be spread across five separate nights: this Monday through Thursday and on Saturday, September 19. (A breakdown of the schedule, with details about which categories will be covered on which nights, can be found here.) A list of predictions for the main Emmys ceremony, to be broadcast Sunday night on ABC, will be published separately. It’s natural to look at this list and conclude that Tiger King is a shoo-in, given how widely it was watched. MaiselPhoebe Waller-Bridge as host, Saturday Night Live

Can Maya Rudolph be nominated twice in the same category and lose? (Then again, the album version just won a Grammy, so that may not matter.) Hannah Gadsby’s boundary-pushing Nanette lost last year to yet another “Carpool Karaoke” special, and it’s possible voters may want to reward Douglas because of that oversight and also because the special is funny and insightful on its own merits. Then there’s John Mulaney and his Sack Lunch Bunch, the only nominee that features Jake Gyllenhaal singing a maniacal song while wearing a xylophone jacket and, therefore, the most Emmy-worthy entry of the, yep, I said it, bunch. Will win: Queer EyeShould win: Love Is Blind

Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program

The nominees:Amy Schumer Learns to Cook (Food Network)Cheer (Netflix)Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up (Netflix)RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked (VH1)We’re Here (HBO)

Is this Emmy really going to a show other than Cheer? Should win: HillaryWill win: The Last Dance

Outstanding TV Movie

American SonBad EducationDolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old BonesEl Camino: A Breaking Bad MovieUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. Should win: Bad EducationWill win: Bad Education

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy

The nominees:Adam Driver as host, Saturday Night LiveLuke Kirby as Lenny Bruce, The Marvelous Mrs. If Rudolph does win, I think it will be for The Good Place, not her portrayal of Kamala Harris. Dave Chappelle’s Equanimity won in this category two years ago, and he could win again for Sticks & Stones, even though it was a divisive and controversial piece of work. Will win: Andrew ScottShould win: Jason Bateman

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama

The nominees:Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s TaleLaverne Cox, Orange Is the New BlackCherry Jones, SuccessionPhylicia Rashad, This Is UsCicely Tyson, How to Get Away With MurderHarriet Walter, Succession

This is simple: If you have the opportunity to give an award to the legendary Cicely Tyson, that is what you do. I do think it has a decent shot at an Emmy for that reason, but I also think discerning viewers will recognize its sensationalistic qualities, as well as the fact that other shows on this list are simply better made. Maisel, especially in its third season, that it sounds weird to call him a guest. Bottom line: Anything could happen! Will win: Cicely TysonShould win: Cicely Tyson

Outstanding Structured Reality Program

The nominees:Antiques Roadshow (PBS)Love Is Blind (Netflix)Queer Eye (Netflix)Shark Tank (ABC)A Very Brady Renovation

Since the reality-program category was broken down into two separate fields — structured and unstructured — in 2014, two shows have won every year in the structured race: Shark Tank for the first four years and Queer Eye for the two after that. “Hello? The two strongest contenders here may be The Mandalorian and Watchmen. Will win: BoJack HorsemanShould win: BoJack Horseman

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series

The nominees:American Masters (PBS)Hillary (Hulu)The Last Dance (ESPN)McMillions (HBO)Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (Netflix)

This has been a big year for docuseries, which makes this more of a 👀 category than usual. Will win: Wanda SykesShould win: Maya Rudolph

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama

The nominees:Jason Bateman, The OutsiderRon Cephas Jones, This Is UsJames Cromwell, SuccessionGiancarlo Esposito, The MandalorianAndrew Scott, Black MirrorMartin Short, The Morning Show

The prevailing wisdom seems to be that Andrew Scott will win here for a performance that carried the Black Mirror episode “Smithereens.” Lord knows I am not one to stand in the way of a Hot Priest, but I will say that Jason Bateman, another Emmy favorite, gave an appropriately cryptic and gripping performance in The Outsider. That does not mean she will win, but I think if RuPaul doesn’t, the charming Nailed It! Did I win an Emmy yet?”
Photo: Netflix

In 2020, the year of making adjustments, the Creative Arts Emmy Awards is making some adjustments. Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

The nominees:A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO)Drunk History (Comedy Central)Saturday Night Live (NBC)

With all due respect to the dearly departed Drunk History, I can’t imagine it winning, mainly because it gets nominated every year in this category and never wins. It’s not. Will win: A Black Lady Sketch ShowShould win: A Black Lady Sketch Show

Outstanding Variety Special (Live)

The nominees:77th Annual Golden Globe Awards (NBC)Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times (ABC)The Oscars (ABC)Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show (Fox)73rd Annual Tony Awards (CBS)

Last year, the first Live in Front of a Studio Audience production won here, and I’d be surprised if the second one doesn’t do the same thing. It’s the (drunk) Susan Lucci of variety sketch comedy. Will win: RuPaulShould win: Nicole Byer

Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics

The nominees:The Black Godfather, “Letter to My Godfather”Euphoria, “All for Us”Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, “Eat Shit, Bob”Little Fires Everywhere, “Build It Up”The Marvelous Mrs. But a case could be made for the late Fred Willard, nominated for one of his final television roles, or Luke Kirby, who is so crucial to The Marvelous Mrs. Anthony Fauci, Saturday Night LiveFred Willard as Frank Dunphy, Modern Family

At one time, I thought Eddie Murphy would walk away with this one. Should win: CheerWill win: Cheer

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Series

The nominees:Making It: Amy Poehler and Nick OffermanNailed It!: Nicole ByerRuPaul’s Drag Race: RuPaulQueer Eye: Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, and Jonathan Van NessShark Tank: Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, and Kevin O’LearyTop Chef: Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi

Things you can rely on: birth, death, taxes, and the fact that RuPaul will win in this category, since he’s done it for the past four straight years. Will win: The Mandalorian (I think)Should win: Watchmen

Outstanding Contemporary Makeup (Non-Prosthetic)

The nominees:Big Little LiesEuphoriaThe Handmaid’s TaleOzarkThe PoliticianSchitt’s Creek

Look, I have no idea who is going to win in this category. MaiselEddie Murphy as host, Saturday Night LiveDev Patel as Joshua, Modern LoveBrad Pitt as Dr. Maybe, especially since Wanda Sykes made such a great Moms Mabley and Emmy voters love their Mrs. (He also won last year.) I wonder if some voters won’t be able to resist the prospect of renowned acceptance-speech-giver Brad Pitt accepting an Emmy for briefly becoming renowned pandemic expert Anthony Fauci. The Tony Awards, historically, have won many times in this category, but I’m sticking with the live broadcast event that honors the power of television. Will win: Euphoria, if the universe still makes any senseShould win: I said Euphoria — do I need to say it again? Will win: Hannah Gadsby: DouglasShould win: John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch

Outstanding Animated Series

The nominees:Big Mouth (Netflix)Bob’s Burgers (Fox)BoJack Horseman (Netflix)Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)The Simpsons (Fox)

These are all fine shows, but BoJack Horseman, in its last season, deserves to win this above all the others. host is the next likeliest victor. What I do know is this: If you’re telling me that there was better contemporary makeup on TV last year than the glitter and eyebrow pearl magic of HBO’s Euphoria, then I am here to tell you to sit the hell down. But …

Will win: Eddie MurphyShould win: Luke Kirby

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy

The nominees:Angela Bassett as Mo, A Black Lady Sketch ShowBette Midler as Hadassah Gold, The PoliticianMaya Rudolph as the Judge, The Good PlaceMaya Rudolph as Senator Kamala Harris, Saturday Night LiveWanda Sykes as Moms Mabley, The Marvelous Mrs. I’m inclined to think The Mandalorian may win because its costumes are more thoroughly sci-fi, but Watchmen is the most nominated show of the year, and its costumes nod is specifically for its first episode. It’s going to Cheer. Safe betters will probably say Saturday Night Live will win, especially since it made such a game effort to continue virtually during the pandemic, but I’m putting my metaphorical money on Robin Thede and A Black Lady Sketch Show, which is clever, hilarious, groundbreaking, and offers evidence of TV’s recent attempts to make more room for Black and female voices. American Son, which explores police culture and racism, is certainly a relevant story but was dinged by some critics for being too reductive and carried largely by its performances. Euphoria! It seems likely that he will win again, however, it’s worth noting that Nicole Byer is hosting all five nights of the Creative Arts Emmys. That’s the one where we get our first glimpse of Sister Knight’s costume, which is elegant, badass, and functional in a way that is certainly Emmy worthy. Will win: “The Way It Used to Be”Should win: “The Way It Used to Be” but also “Eat Shit, Bob”

Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes

The nominees:Carnival Row (Amazon)The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)The Mandalorian (Disney+)Watchmen (HBO)Westworld (HBO)

This is only the third year that fantasy/sci-fi costumes have had their own category and the first in which Game of Thrones is not a contender. This is BoJack. The question is which one. It is also timely in that it’s a nuanced, impeccably acted look at individual and institutional deceit at a moment when many Americans have a hard time knowing what to believe. BoJack was hilarious, inventive, acerbic, and heartbreaking for six seasons, and it has exactly zero Emmys to show for it. Tags:

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