Sunday, February 1, 2015

Copy editors are an expense some publishers don’t want

To save money, many news publishers have cut the ranks of copy editors and fact checkers. The result has been a lot of Internet LOLs as the public shares the latest typos, misspellings and other errors copy editors presumably would have caught.
When I started out in the newspaper business in the mid-1980s, news stories would pass through several editors before they were published. Reporters didn’t even write their own headlines.
Today in the 24-hour news cycle online, copy editors are seen as a bottleneck and an unnecessary expense.
Reporters these days write their own headlines, do search engine optimization (SEO) and often supply their own photos and videos. If a typo or error gets through, and it’s seen later, someone will edit it online after it’s published. Print editions are stuck with the mistakes.
Today, spell checking applications in word processor software have largely replaced copy editors. But spell check won’t catch many mistakes as the following examples prove.

“We may never no why he attacked” – headline from the Detroit Free Press in August 2012. (See image at top.)

“Let is snow, let is snow, let is snow” – headline from Brattleboro Reformer in Brattleboro, Vt., on Dec. 27, 2012.

“Atlanta’s Snow Debacle 2014! What happen? Why It Happen? Can it happen Again?” – headline from The Atlanta Voice for the Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2014, issue.

The Birmingham News in Birmingham, Ala., misidentified a bunch of classic rockers in a graphic for a feature in March 2014.

See also “The year in media errors and corrections 2014” from the Poynter Institute.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Unaired TV pilots: Wonder Woman, Day One, Hieroglyph

As a fan of television entertainment, I keep track of new TV shows in the works and make note of the ones I’m interested in watching.
Often those shows never make it to broadcast and their pilots are never shown. I, for one, would like the chance to see them and judge for myself whether they’re any good. Judging from the schlock that networks see fit to air, those pilots must be pretty bad, at least in their opinion.
Entertainment Weekly recently ran a list of upcoming pilots commissioned by the major broadcast networks. EW seemed to share my interest in watching unaired pilots.
You’ll never see most of them … We’re still rooting for the big, traditional networks to put their pilots online, like Amazon, so we can properly judge them – rather than trusting network executives and mall focus groups to decide what gets on the air. (That’s how we end up with Bad Judge).
Amazon.com puts the pilots for its original shows online for viewers to judge. Those with the best response get full-season commitments for Amazon Prime Instant Video.
The broadcast networks usually bury their failed pilots. But some rejected TV pilots eventually do get shown.
Space action pilot “High Moon” was repackaged as a TV movie for Syfy last September, TV Guide reported.
The pilot for a TV show based on “Delirium,” a young adult novel set in a dystopian future where love is considered a disease, aired for one month on Hulu last summer, EW reported.

The pilot for a Sarah Silverman sitcom, “Susan 313,” that NBC rejected was posted on YouTube for a limited time for all to see in October 2013, Huffington Post reported.
The pilot for a high school comedy called “Not Another Teen Show” didn’t make it to TV. But an extended clip from the aborted Comedy Central show, which starred Jennifer Lawrence and Alison Brie, was posted to YouTube last August, E! Online and Entertainment Weekly reported.
What follows is a list of notable TV pilots that have yet to be aired.
In November, ABC canceled its straight-to-series pickup, midseason drama “Members Only,” starring John Stamos, before its premiere, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Last June, Fox pulled the plug on “Hieroglyph,” an ambitious drama set in ancient Egypt. Only the first episode was filmed. The network hoped the series would be its “Game of Thrones,” but it felt the stories planned for follow-on episodes weren’t very compelling. (See articles by the Hollywood Reporter and Entertainment Weekly.)
Last May, CBS decided not to go forward with the spin-off series to “How I Met Your Mother.” CBS said it was not satisfied with the pilot to “How I Met Your Dad” and canceled the project, Huffington Post reported.

In October 2013, Fox axed plans to air its previously announced 13-episode animated series “Murder Police,” which starred the voice talent of Wilmer Valderrama, Jane Lynch, Will Sasso and Chi McBride, EW reported.
In July 2013, HBO said it was unimaginable that a drama pilot featuring one of James Gandolfini’s final performances would air, EW reported. Gandolfini shot a pilot for “Criminal Justice,” but died in June 2013.
I’ve previously written about “Day One,” an alien-invasion show NBC nixed after filming the pilot in 2010. It would have been an early entry in the trend toward post-apocalyptic TV dramas.
In 2011, NBC canceled plans to air “Wonder Woman,” starring Adrianne Palicki as the DC Comics superhero. The show, produced by David E. Kelley, reportedly had script problems and costume issues, Screen Rant reported. The failed series proved to be a good stepping stone for Palicki, who now stars on “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.” (See photo at top.)

Related articles:

7 potentially awesome shows canceled before they premiered. (Entertainment Weekly; July 1, 2014)

10 High-Profile TV Pilots That Didn’t Get Picked Up (Mental Floss; June 17, 2013)

10 shocking pilot season rejects: Why they didn’t make it (Entertainment Weekly; May 14, 2013)

10 Promising Pilots the Networks Didn’t Pick Up This Year (Splitsider; May 17, 2012)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

8 documentaries about notable movies that never happened

Movie fans often like to speculate about films that never got made.
For instance, what if Steven Spielberg had made “American Sniper” instead of Clint Eastwood? Spielberg was originally slated to direct the biopic and planned to take the movie in a different direction.
Last year I noticed the emergence of a subcategory of documentaries about interesting movies that were planned but never completed. In some cases, these movies were ultimately shot by other filmmakers who put their own spin on the material. Some never made it past pre-production.
What follows is a list of documentaries in the subgenre about movies that could have been. Some of these documentaries are still in production or pending release.

Jodorosky’s Dune

“Jodorosky’s Dune” (2014) explores Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unsuccessful attempt to adapt and film the classic science-fiction novel “Dune” in the mid-1970s. Director David Lynch helmed a much derided 1984 film version of the novel. (See articles by Wikipedia, Entertainment Weekly and the Verge.)

Lost Soul

“Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau” (2014) recounts the making of the 1996 box-office bomb “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” The original director of the film, Richard Stanley, was fired after just a few days of principal photography and replaced by veteran journeyman director John Frankenheimer. (See articles from Entertainment Weekly and Wikipedia.)

Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four

“Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four” tells the story of the ill-fated movie version of the Fantastic Four that was executive produced by low-budget filmmaker Roger Corman.
The documentary is expected to be released this year. (See articles by Indiewire and Comic Book Resources.)

The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?

“The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?” is a documentary about the proposed 1998 “Superman Lives” feature film that would have starred Nicolas Cage and was to be directed by Tim Burton. It is set for release this year. (See articles by IMDb, Geek Tyrant and another by GeekTyrant.)

A World War II Fairytale: The Making of Michael Mann’s The Keep

“A World War II Fairytale: The Making of Michael Mann’s The Keep” is a documentary in the works about the making of the 1983 cult horror movie “The Keep.” Mann’s film was cut by the studio from its original runtime of over three hours to just over one-and-a-half hours. (See article by Shock Till You Drop.)

Those are some recent examples of the documentary subgenre. But there have been others before them.

Lost in La Mancha

“Lost in La Mancha” (2002) is a documentary about director Terry Gilliam’s doomed attempt to film, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” starring Johnny Depp. (See article on Wikipedia.)

Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days

“Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days” (2001) documents actress Marilyn Monroe’s unfinished final film, the romantic comedy “Something’s Got to Give.” The documentary includes a 37-minute reconstruction of scenes from movie, which was canceled after Monroe’s death. (See article on IMDb.)

The Epic That Never Was

“The Epic That Never Was” (1965) is a documentary that tells the story of the aborted 1937 filming of “I, Claudius,” starring Charles Laughton, with all of its surviving footage. (See articles on IMDb and the New York Times.)

Let me know if I missed any other good examples.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Memorable movie songs passed over for Oscars

Many winners of the Oscar for Best Original Song aren’t very memorable. By contrast, there have been quite a few hit songs that have stood the test of time that were passed over by the Academy Awards.
A good number of those shunned songs are on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 songs in American cinema.
What follows is a list of great movie songs that didn’t win Oscars:
  • “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel from “The Graduate” (1967) shamefully was not nominated for an Academy Award. The winning song that year was “Talk to the Animals” from “Doctor Dolittle.”
  • “The Bare Necessities” from “The Jungle Book” (1967) was nominated, but also lost to “Talk to the Animals.” And the terrific “I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)” from “The Jungle Book” wasn’t even nominated.
  • “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings from the 1973 James Bond movie lost the Oscar that year to “The Way We Were” from the movie of the same name.
  • “Nobody Does It Better,” performed by Carly Simon for the 1977 James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me,” lost to the lame tune “You Light Up My Life” from the movie of the same name.
  • “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees from “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) wasn’t even nominated in the year “You Light Up My Life” won. Neither was a bunch of Bee Gees hits from the soundtrack including “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Night Fever” and “More Than a Woman.”
  • “Rainbow Connection” from “The Muppet Movie” (1979) was nominated, but lost the Oscar to the unmemorable “It Goes Like It Goes” from “Norma Rae.”
  • “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” by Phil Collins from the 1984 movie “Against All Odds,” was nominated but lost out to the saccharine Steve Wonder tune “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from “The Woman in Red.”
  • “I Have Nothing,” performed by Whitney Houston for the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard” (1992), was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin.” “Run to You,” another classic Whitney Houston song from “The Bodyguard,” also was nominated that year.
  • “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” performed by Aerosmith for “Armageddon” (1998), was nominated but lost to the forgettable “When You Believe” from “The Prince of Egypt.”
  • “The Great Beyond” by REM for the 1999 movie “Man on the Moon” was not even nominated for an Oscar.
Photos: Promotional art for “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins (top) and “The Great Beyond” by REM.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pop music stars who have won Oscars for Best Original Song

What do Bob Dylan, Eminem and Elton John have in common?
They’ve all won Oscars for writing songs for movies.
What follows is a list of pop music stars who have won Oscars for Best Original Song.
  • Isaac Hayes, “Theme from Shaft”, “Shaft”, 1971
  • Barbra Streisand, “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)”, “A Star Is Born”, 1976
  • Stevie Wonder, “I Just Called to Say I Love You”, “The Woman in Red”, 1984
  • Lionel Richie, “Say You, Say Me”, “White Nights”, 1985
  • Carly Simon, “Let the River Run”, “Working Girl”, 1988
  • Bruce Springsteen, “Streets of Philadelphia”, “Philadelphia”, 1993
  • Elton John, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, “The Lion King”, 1994
  • Phil Collins, “You’ll Be in My Heart”, “Tarzan”, 1999
  • Bob Dylan, “Things Have Changed”, “Wonder Boys”, 2000
  • Eminem, “Lose Yourself”, “8 Mile”, 2002
  • Annie Lennox, “Into the West”, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”, 2003
  • Juicy J, Frayser Boy and DJ Paul, “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp”, “Hustle & Flow”, 2005
  • Melissa Etheridge, “I Need to Wake Up”, “An Inconvenient Truth”, 2006
  • Adele, “Skyfall”, “Skyfall”, 2012
Several pop stars also have won Oscars for Best Original Score. They are:
  • The Beatles, “Let It Be”, 1970
  • Prince, “Purple Rain”, 1984
  • David Byrne, “The Last Emperor”, 1987

Monday, January 26, 2015

Oscar snubs for Best Original Song in 2014 include Lorde and Fall Out Boy

One of the most frustrating categories at the Academy Awards is for Best Original Song.
That’s because the most memorable movie songs, including those that are big hits on the radio, don’t usually win. In many cases, they aren’t even nominated.
Last year’s ceremony was an exception, with “Let It Go” from the Disney animated musical “Frozen” winning the trophy.
But this year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was back to form, skipping a number of popular songs in favor of a few obscure ones.
Entertainment Weekly readers cited two songs as Oscar snubs that really bugged them: “Yellow Flicker Beat” by Lorde from “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” and “Big Eyes” by Lana Del Rey for “Big Eyes.” They were among the 79 original songs short-listed for Oscar contention in December.
Both of those songs were nominated for a Golden Globe award, but lost to “Glory” by John Legend and Common from “Selma.” “Glory” is the front-runner for the Best Original Song at the 2015 Oscars.
To the list of snubs, I’d add “Immortals” by Fall Out Boy from “Big Hero 6.”
Some of the most significant songs from major motion pictures aren’t eligible for Oscars because they weren’t written for the screen.
For instance, “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX was a big hit from “The Fault in Our Stars,” but it wasn’t written for the movie. So it wasn’t eligible for an Oscar.
The 2015 Oscars will be awarded on Feb. 22.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

The happiest, horniest, wealthiest states

There are infinite ways to look at the U.S. by laying demographic, survey and other data over a map of the country.
What follows are some interesting examples from around the Web.

The Happiest Regions In America

Researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research put together a map showing the relative happiness of people in metropolitan and rural areas of the U.S.
Among cities, the small city of Charlottesville, Virginia, tops the rankings, and Washington, D.C., and Atlanta both rank as happier than average, according to Priceonomics.
Declining cities like Detroit, Michigan, and urban areas in the Midwest are particularly unhappy. Large swaths of Indiana and Kentucky ranked at the bottom of the happiness rankings.

States with the horniest women

For his book “Dataclysm,” OKCupid founder Christian Rudder uses data gleaned from what people say and do on dating sites to uncover which states have the horniest women and other interesting facts, according to Men’s Health.

States with the longest and shortest average sex times

Fast Company ran a map showing average sex times in states across the U.S.
The infographic was based on data from Spreadsheets, a sort of sex-focused Fitbit.

Map showing whether states prefer boobs or butts

A study of Americans looking for “straight,” “woman-with-man” pornography on websites Pornhub and Youporn revealed which states prefer butts over boobs, Huffington Post reported.

Descriptive words for each state

Business Insider published a U.S. map showing the top autocomplete word for each state when people search Google for “Why is (state) so …?”
Some results:
Why is Illinois so … corrupt?
Why is Virginia so … strict?

Word used most disproportionately in each state’s Wikipedia article

Slate studied Wikipedia articles to find the word most representative of each state. (For Pennsylvania it’s chocolate, for Colorado it’s cannabis, etc.)
Author Ben Blatt discussed how the data can be sorted to come up with different results based on various parameters.

Top State Income Tax Rates

The Tax Foundation has run a series of informative maps.
Check out the organization’s map showing state income tax rates in 2014, which range from zero in seven states to 13.3% in California.


Largest company by revenue in each state

Huffington Post reprinted a map showing the largest company by revenue in each state.
The map was put together by telecom company Broadview Networks.

Wealthiest Americans by state

Real estate blog Movoto published a map showing the richest person in each state.

What each state buys most on eBay

The data analysts at eBay put together a map of the 50 states showing what types of products are purchased in each state most often.
(See article by the Huffington Post.)


Most popular U.S. attractions by state

An Imgur user posted a map showing the most popular U.S. attractions by state.
It was composed using information from a list website called Reflections of Pop Culture & Life’s Challenges.

Each State’s Supernatural Claim To Fame

The Movoto Real Estate Blog published a detailed map showing each state’s supernatural claim to fame, including cryptids, UFOs and aliens, or paranormal activity.
In my current state of Virginia, the top supernatural incident involves the “the Bunny Man” in Fairfax, Va.

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