Spotify’s Head of Original Video and Podcasts, Tom Calderone, Departs

Spotify's Head of Original Video and Podcasts, Tom Calderone, Departs

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Spotify will focus its video efforts around Rap Caviar
  • Music industry executives would like Spotify’s video efforts to focus on
  • Spotify has over 60 million paying subscribers

Spotify is parting ways with Tom Calderone, the head of original video and podcasts, after the music-streaming company’s initial round of programs failed to catch on with audiences.

The online pioneer confirmed Calderone’s departure in an email Thursday. Spotify will focus its video efforts around Rap Caviar, the service’s most popular playlist, Rock This and other features, a spokesman said.

With the move, Spotify is narrowing its video ambitions. Calderone, the former head of cable network VH1, commissioned a dozen series from producers including Tim Robbins and Russell Simmons. He also oversaw podcasts, an area of growing importance at the world’s largest paid music service. Now the company is making clearer that it wants videos on the service to stay closer to the music industry.

While Spotify has known for some time it wants to offer more programming beyond music, the company has struggled to settle on a strategy.

Before YouTube, Hulu or Sony introduced online TV services, Spotify tried to assemble a bundle of TV channels for a live video service in Europe. The company abandoned those plans after failing to line up all the channels it wanted for the right price, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Spotify also licensed short-form videos from Vice Media Inc., Viacom’s Comedy Central and Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN in 2015. Then in 2016, the company hired Calderone to oversee an in-house studio. He led Viacom’s VH1 during its heyday and quickly ordered shows including Simmons’s “Traffic Jams,” where musicians composed a song while stuck in traffic and performed the it on reaching their destination.

Despite those efforts, video never been featured prominently within Spotify, a source of frustration for many partners. No series has broken out.

Music industry executives would like Spotify’s video efforts to focus on music. That would bring more attention to their artists and new releases, and not divert royalty-generating listeners to other content. Thanks to Spotify, the music business is growing for the first time in almost two decades and record labels aren’t especially keen to see the company diversify into other forms of entertainment.

And of late, Spotify has tested seeding playlists with music videos and short documentaries, including Rap Caviar.

While Spotify is still formulating a video strategy, its investment in podcasting continues to grow. The company has purchased advertising in popular shows Reply All and The Bill Simmons Podcast, and plans to announce a new slate of original podcasts soon.

The company is planning to go public later this year or early next, and just reached a new long-term deal with Warner Music Group, the third-largest record label.

With more than 60 million paying subscribers for the music service, Spotify has commissioned non-music content to increase the amount of time users spend with the app and keep them from leaving to watch video on YouTube or Facebook. Non-music programming also benefits the company by reducing the share of sales it must hand over to music rights holders.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

The Mummy Wastes Tom Cruise’s Charm on a Cobbled-Together Franchise Starter

The Mummy Wastes Tom Cruise's Charm on a Cobbled-Together Franchise Starter

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Mummy releases June 9 worldwide
  • It stars Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, and Sofia Boutella
  • The film kick-starts Universal’s Dark Universe

Before it pelts you with its thinly-sketched characters, baffling motivations, and various takes on skeletal zombies, Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy – a reboot of the 1932 original that has spawned a dozen follow-ups since – wants you to know that it’s a small part of a much bigger creation that’s being drummed up by the studio, called the “Dark Universe”. Having seen Marvel and Warner Bros. make billions off their intellectual properties, Universal too wants to get in on the act, and it’s identified its classic monster movies as ripe for the taking.

To stitch together its various gods and monsters, as it likes calling them, Russell Crowe has been called upon to appear across its shared universe of films, à la Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in the Marvel world. The Mummy sees Crowe play Dr. Henry Jekyll, a modern update on the character envisioned by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886, who now serves as the head of a mysterious organisation that deals with the study, capture, and extermination of evil. To entice its audience, the film intentionally takes us through his lab of fermented skulls, lingering long enough on one to hint at a future Dracula outing.

The Mummy begins with an extended prologue that is set in two different, yet inter-connected eras: the first in 1127 England, and the other in ancient-era Egypt. The connection between the two is Princess Ahmanet (Star Trek Beyond’s Sofia Boutella), whose power-craving drives her to make a deal with the ancient Egyptian deity of chaos and war, Set. But before she can complete her end of the bargain, she is captured, mummified and buried alive far from her homeland. (These scenes of her past have been terribly spoiled by the Indian censor board, which is completely against any form of nudity.)

In the present day, that faraway place is now called Iraq, where insurgents are destroying ancient treasures as part of their agenda. It’s as direct a reference to ISIS as it can be, but The Mummy strays away from any such mention. Tom Cruise is Nick Morton, a US Army reconnaissance scout by profession, but an artefacts hunter by trade, who makes riches by selling them on the black market. Cruise has made a name for himself in the past two decades by being the engine for high octane action films where he’s mostly on the run (literally), and dives headlong into dangerous situations. Here too, he makes his entrance in a similar fashion, running from a hail of bullets being sprayed in his direction by said insurgents.

Nick, his buddy Chris (New Girl’s Jake Johnson), and archaeologist Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) come across Ahmanet’s tomb thanks to a lucky break, and immediately orchestrate a way to transport the sarcophagus out of the country, while ignoring the ominous signs unfolding around them. The film’s wish to return the action to England seems to stem more from the future narrative demand of having everything revolve around Dr. Jekyll and his team, than the want to tell the best possible standalone story, of an Egyptian princess bent on taking revenge.

Even though the film is called The Mummy, the bigger focus is on Nick, given the character’s high-profile casting. He’s meant to serve as a complex protagonist – an anti-hero, if Kurtzman and his team of five script-writers were capable enough – for this adventure, and the movie also conveniently leaves him on a note that Cruise could be called upon for a sequel, should Universal’s experiment provide desired rewards at the international box office. Unfortunately, unlike the goofy charm of the Mission: Impossible franchise, The Mummy affords only rare flashes of Cruise being allowed to showcase a silly side of his.

the mummy wallis cruise The Mummy

Drowning in material that’s meant to sound worrying, and is so filled with self-seriousness of its prophecies, rituals and ancient past drawl that it borders on parody, The Mummy comes across as a cheap horror take on a lesser Dan Brown novel. It’s unable to find the humour through it all, delivering with such infrequency that Cruise’s traditional action-star performance dissolves in the sludge. And it doesn’t help that the character hasn’t been conceived properly in the first place, as is the case with almost everyone else, including the wholly under-developed relationship and unbelievable connection between Nick and Jenny. The forceful nature of their faltering romance comes from the script’s necessity to pit her against Ahmanet, who has identified Nick as a chosen ritual sacrifice, and needs Jenny to be pushed out of the way.

And apart from becoming a damsel repeatedly put in distress, Jenny seems shooed in to deliver the much-needed exposition. To top that off, Nick isn’t an active agent in his own story for the most part, and hence spends much of the film being thrust into one thing to another. For what it’s worth, Ahmanet is the best developed character of the lot, which at least shows that despite multiple rewrites The Mummy does understand the makings of an engaging villain. But though the film presents an interesting gem of her slide towards darkness – she’s angry for losing the kingdom she believed to be rightfully hers, to a male son born to the Pharaoh – it’s not at all interested in exploring those ideas after her resurrection in present day, and instead chooses to focus on creating mayhem and horror as befits an empty-calorie popcorn flick.

Moreover, Kurtzman – a veteran franchise manager having worked on Transformers, Star Trek, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – seems to have learnt the wrong lessons from his commercial successes, and doesn’t understand what makes an enjoyable summer blockbuster visually. Instead of lingering in the bright yellow-and-orange pop of the Middle East desert, and with the billowing dress and radiant make-up provided to Boutella’s character during the centuries-old flashbacks, Kurtzman opts to drench The Mummy in nearly-desaturated hues of blue and grey after the opening half hour. The rest of the film even squanders the rich skin tones for a shrivelled, dry skin for Boutella, and it uses its London setting by spending much of the time underground.

the mummy boutella The Mummy

As terrible as the film itself is, The Mummy is also the worst possible start for a new franchise that has seven more films – Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, and Hunchback of Notre Dame – already in some stage of development, with the likes of Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem attached to star. For one, it’s fighting the uncalled-for task of assembling these myriad characters into a single universe. And two, Kurtzman setting a gritty tone with The Mummy, and his role as a core creative for the Dark Universe makes you wonder if this is indeed the right path.

Owing to those two baselines, Crowe’s presence in The Mummy is mostly to introduce us to this world, with some of his lines and the way they are delivered almost feel intentionally directed as if they’re addressing the audience through the screen. And aside from using his accent and his poise to sell the self-seriousness charade of the whole thing, the character’s reimagination lacks any heart or investment to it, much unlike how its inspirations – Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk and Aaron Eckhart’s Two-Face – have fared in recent years.

But though Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll can be fleshed out with future instalments, there’s no such respite for everyone else involved with The Mummy, including the film itself. Bogged down by unimaginative CGI-laden set-pieces, and lacking any character arcs, it’s a limp attempt at capturing the summer-movie market overflowing with contenders, one that can’t be saved by Tom Cruise’s willingness and mastery of playing the indomitable action hero. If only it could be mummified and buried alive.

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Tags: The Mummy, Tom Cruise, Dark Universe, Universal Pictures
[“Source-ndtv”]

Tom Clancy’s The department won’t Have Microtransactions, Says creative Director

Tom Clancy's The Division Won't Have Microtransactions, Says Creative Director

Ubisoft big‘s creative director Magnus Jansen has stated that there’ll no presence of microtransactionswithin the studio’s upcoming put up-pandemic open world thirdcharacter RPG – Tom Clancy’s Thedivision.

In an interview with British video gaming weblog VG247, Jansen said: “[Microtransactions are] one of thethings that we looked at because if people like the game and need to purchase more matters I do notmind that. however microtransactions, because it‘s defined, we do now not have them. You can not spenda touch bit of money and rapidtune to get higher equipment or pay to win or vanity gadgets. We do nothave that. the fast solution isn’t any, we don’t have microtransactions, duration.”

This goes to in addition cement one side of the story. On Thursday, in direct assessment to Jansen’s claims, The division‘s page listing at the playstation store was spotted with the phrases ‘In-recreationpurchases electiveinside the description phase. however in an interview with Gamespot on Friday, Jansensaid that microtransactions “were underneath attention, however [pay-to-win] in no way made it into the sport“.

It still does not explain why the game page continues to carry that identical description, or if it’s a misprint ready to be corrected. Jansen went directly to clarify that they do have planned downloadablecontent material (DLC): “we are able to have DLC. We don’t have it but due to the fact we’re just barelycompleting the sport. I simply do not want everyone to say that after we announce the DLC, ‘you said[no microtransactions]’.”

The department will have a closed beta – for Xbox One, playstation four, and home windows pctowardthe quit of the month. it will likely be available publicly for buy over a month later, on March eight.

down load the devices 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the state-of-the-art tech news, product evaluations, and exclusive offers at the famous mobiles.

Tags: Magnus Jansen, Microtransactions, The division, Tom Clancy, Ubisoft big

Tom Brady desires to sell You a $2 hundred Cookbook

Photo: Getty Images

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s strict food plan has turn out to be legendary, with maximum of uswondering how within the global anyone can stick with such dietary regulations. properly, the footballicon is ready to share his wholesome residing secretshowever they’ll come at a fee. Brady’s upcoming cookbook may be yours to the tune of $two hundred.

[RELATED: When Tom Brady Breaks His Diet, This Is What He Splurges On]

Why the steep price tag whilst you may get a preferred cookbook for well below forty bucks? For starters the tome will function a herbal maple cowl laster-etched with Brady’s TB12 emblem, consistent withBoston.com, plus off the capability to insert new recipes you locate that perhaps in shape with the quarterback’s meals philosophies.

And if you’re involved that the cookbook will truly function recipes for carrot sticks and sautéed kale,suppose once more. Brady is consisting of a number of his favorite healthified (sure, I just made thatword up) recipes consisting of sweet potato gnocchi and carrot cake, that are items I’d gladly welcome into my meal plan each single day.

[RELATED: Gisele Bundchen’s Personal Chef Opens Up About Her Strict Diet]

What you shouldn’t assume to find inside the cookbook? Any of the components Brady and Bundchen have sworn off, like coffee, caffeine, olive oil, dairy, fungus, white flour, white sugar, nightshade vegetables, and MSG.

I should admit, whilst it won’t be clean to part with 2 hundred smackers for a cookbook, I’m especiallycurious to see what else it incorporates. glaringly I gained’t count on it to turn me into an elite athlete orsupermodel, but if it’s good enough for Tom and Gisele it’s truely really worth a attempt, don’t you suspect?