Hello, and welcome to this Monday’s edition of The Monitor, WIRED’s entertainment news roundup. Today we’ve got some news about Jay-Z and Meek Mill, a surprising second act for the South by Southwest film festival, and some free content from HBO and AMC. Let’s get going.
HBO and AMC Are Offering Free Streams for Folks Stuck at Home
Rejoice, everyone looking for new content to binge-watch! HBO and AMC are both now offering tons of streaming content for free. Starting Friday, HBO began offering nearly 500 hours of programming—from Veep to The Sopranos to Six Feet Under—available for free through its HBO Now and HBO Go apps. (Notably, it’s not offering Game of Thrones.) It’s also offering some 20 Warner Bros. movies, like The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and Crazy, Stupid, Love. (The full list of free programming is here.) The move is intended to give folks something to watch while they’re under stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic.
Similarly, AMC Networks announced a campaign on Friday allowing viewers to watch the first half of The Walking Dead’s 10th season for free on the AMC website until May 1. It’s also making a series of BBC America documentaries free to watch, as well as IFC series Spoils of Babylon and Baroness von Sketch Show. (See the full lineup here.) “We want to join with our talent and respond to this moment in the best way that entertainment companies can—which is, to entertain people,” Sarah Barnett, head AMC Networks Entertainment Group, said in a statement. “We also wanted to make our great content available to more viewers at a time when we are all looking for fantastic things to watch.”
The SXSW Film Festival Is Headed to Amazon
As you may have noticed, South by Southwest didn’t happen this year. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see the films intended for its festival lineup. Last week, Amazon announced that the company is working with the annual Austin festival to stream the movies originally slated to play at this year’s event, which was canceled due to coronavirus. Organizers haven’t announced a date yet, but once the online film festival starts, filmmakers who opt to have their films screened will be able to offer them on Amazon Prime for free for 10 days, so that even folks who aren’t Prime members will be able to watch them. Those filmmakers will also receive a screening fee for their film. “We were delighted when Amazon Prime Video offered to host an online film festival, and jumped at the opportunity to connect their audiences to our filmmakers,” SXSW’s head of film, Janet Pierson, said in a statement. “We’re inspired by the adaptability and resilience of the film community as it searches for creative solutions in this unprecedented crisis.”
Jay-Z and Meek Mill’s Org Is Donating Masks to Prisons
The Reform Alliance, the criminal justice organization cofounded by Jay-Z and Meek Mill, announced over the weekend that it is sending 100,000 surgical masks to jails and prisons across the US. Covid-19 poses a heightened risk to inmates and correctional facility workers, and the masks are intended to help them prevent an outbreak. According to the organization, 40,000 masks will go to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, 5,000 will go to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, 50,000 will go to Rikers Island jail in New York City, and an additional 2,500 will go to a Rikers medical facility. “It’s a very vulnerable population, Reform’s chief advocacy officer, Jessica Jackson, told CBS News. “We’re really worried about the number of people coming in and out of the [facilities], the fact that people living there might be might be sitting ducks during this pandemic.”
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Angelina Jolie Reportedly Thinks There’s “Something Untoward” Going on in Her Divorce From Brad Pitt
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have both been legally single since April 2019, but the two actors have spent the last four years hashing out the finer points of their divorce.
Those ongoing negotiations recently hit a snafu, however, when Jolie filed paperwork to have the private judge, John W. Ouderkirk, removed from their case. According to a source who spoke exclusively with Page Six, the actress was “concerned that something untoward was happening” with the proceedings which led her to began looking into Ouderkirk.
“Angelina isn’t trying to delay this process,” the source added. “In fact, the court papers state that she wants to get this issue with the judge resolved so there are no further delays [in deciding custody and financial issues like child support].”
Those issues, according to her filing, is that Ouderkirk “failed to disclose the cases that demonstrated the current, ongoing, repeat-customer relationship between the judge and [Pitt’s] counsel,” Anne C. Kiley. Kiley has, allegedly, “actively advocated for Judge Ouderkirk’s financial interests in moving—over the opposing party’s opposition—to have his appointment (and his ability to continue to receive fees) extended in a high profile case.”
A source close to Jolie explained to Vanity Fair, “Angelina’s team was kept in the dark about matters that should have been disclosed. Any attempt to suggest otherwise is only to distract from behavior that violates the rules of ethics for judges.”
Jolie’s attorney Samantha Bley DeJean added in a statement, “As is set forth in the filing, all my client is asking for is a fair trial based on facts, with no special favors extended to either side. The only way litigants can trust the process is for everyone involved to ensure that there is transparency and impartiality.”
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Project Power Is a Secret Lesson About Science’s Dark Side
Evil gloating seldom contains a genuine science lesson. Mad scientists’ climactic rants are usually you-killed-my-daughter personal or science-shaped mumbo jumbo about their unobtanium ray recalibrating the ozone layer. In Netflix’s new superhero movie Project Power, the Big Bad is the inventor of a drug called power, which either gives you temporary superpowers or busts your chest open like a dropped water balloon. The magical movie chemistry has something to do with animal genetics, but Project Power doesn’t waste the evil exposition slot on trying to make it make sense. Instead, in the final face-off, the villain starts talking about Henrietta Lacks.
If you’re unfamiliar with the name, Henrietta Lacks was a real person, a Black woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951. During her treatment at Johns Hopkins, doctors took samples of her tissue and used them to create the first immortalized human cell line, a scientific breakthrough that was not only lucrative but medically revolutionary. Lacks’ cells have tested vaccines for polio and HPV, have been used to study cancer and HIV, have been sent into space, all because doctors carved bits of flesh from a dying woman without asking her permission. To Project Power’s villain, Lacks is a justification, an object lesson in how the suffering of one vulnerable person can better the lives of millions when that suffering is at the hands of capital-S Science. The heroes disagree, and so must the viewer.
From the very start of the film, power the drug has ravaged New Orleans. It also has a firm hold on the lives of the three protagonists. Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt—playing an outlaw former soldier and a disgraced cop, respectively—are both desperate to find the source of the drug. Dominique Fishback, who plays a talented but troubled schoolgirl, is a power dealer. As an unlikely and somewhat zany team, they chase the drug from smoldering squats to glitzy meetings of underworld elites to government sanctioned labs, eventually finding the movie’s very own Henrietta Lacks: a young Black woman whose body contains scientific treasure.
As a film, Project Power, which lands on Netflix on Friday, is a fun enough watch. Director Ariel Schulman has said it’s a movie with “no superheroes,” and that’s fine; I don’t need my heroes to be flawless and squeaky clean. However, my appetite for law-breaking cops who think they know better than the system? That’s at an all-time low right now. Other moments are inadvertently funny. I’m pretty sure Foxx is supposed to sound like a badass when he explains that he has the power of a pistol shrimp (a very cool sea creature!), but, well, you already know why he didn’t. That said, Fishback is a delight, the male leads are on-brand and charming, and a pill full of temporary superpowers is a welcome twist on the somewhat overdone superserum trope.
Actually, it’s the way the movie deals with that cliche that’s most interesting. A superserum hero is the personification of science’s impact on humanity. Take Captain America, child of World War II. Science and especially medicine were really having a moment back then. Doctors were war, and comic book, heroes in their own right. People clamored for medical progress, lined up for new vaccines. Hitler wasn’t the only one after an übermensch: eugenics was a popular, publicly discussed interest, especially among elites. So from the righteous, government-sanctioned lab emerges Cap, a blond, blue-eyed super(über)soldier, but it’s OK because he hates Nazis. Back then, the face of human experimentation was heroic, patriotic, and extremely white, because white America loved to think about what science could make them. It’s hard to imagine such uncomplicated medical optimism now, but think about the first Iron Man movie, which came out in 2008, before technology had spooked the bejeezus out of people. Stark’s tech savvy is what makes him and his body super. Medical savvy used to play the same way.
The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons Ever: A look back at Jason Mesnick
The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons takes us back to Jason Mesnick’s season!
The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons Ever is going down memory lane as we revisit Jason Mesnick’s infamous season. For those who watched Arie Luyendyk’s season and saw his last minute decision to break up with Becca Kufrin and go with runner-up Lauren Burnham will find Jason’s season a bit too familiar.
Technically, Arie pulled a Jason Mesnick, the man who kicked off the “I think I want to be with the person I just broke up with, not the one I proposed to” move. And with that, I’d like to get you hyped for the look back at Jason’s season on the next episode of The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons Ever.
Pulling a Mesnick
Jason Mesnick was the lead all the way back in The Bachelor Season 13 (feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?). His season started off as any other did with your usual dose of Bachelor drama, fights, and heartbreak. But the true heartbreak didn’t come until the season came to an end and Jason found himself in a very unfortunate predicament.
Initially, Jason proposed to Melissa Rycroft, and broke up with Molly Malaney. But in the moments that followed, it became very clear to Jason that he had made a grave mistake. Prepare yourself to see the iconic balcony scene–it’s a doozy!
A brutal After the Final Rose special
The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons Ever will surely make us relive the moment Jason Mesnick decided to break things off with Melissa–on live television. I think we can credit the producers for making that happen.
Melissa learned from Jason that he wanted to be with Molly instead and had to endure a breakup on live television as her fiancé went off with his runner-up. It was brutal.
10 years later…
A decade has passed since that awful moment, and it seems like everyone is living out their happily ever after. Jason and Molly are still married with two kids (their daughter and Jason’s son from a previous marriage), and Melissa is married with three kids. So, yay for happy endings!
However, having to rewatch that ending is not going to be fun for anyone, and I’m sure that they will all be stopping by The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons Ever to share what life has been like since that awkward breakup.
Jason Mesnick had no idea he’d start a trend in Bachelor Nation (we’re looking at you Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Peter Weber!).
Did you watch Jason’s season and cringe watching it unfold? Share your comments below!
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