Wednesday, December 7, 2011
This week ... explore the magic (and the fascinating DNA) of spider silk ... discover an ambitious project to translate the Web (while teaching you a new language) ... and hear Sarah Kay spin two poems about living other lives through the power of storytelling ...
| ||Cheryl Hayashi studies spider silk, one of nature's most high-performance materials. She shows how this super-strong, super-flexible material can inspire. Watch now >>|
| ||Luis von Ahn shares his project Duolingo, which will help millions learn a new language while translating the Web quickly and accurately -- all for free. Watch now >>|
| ||2011 was a year of extraordinary people-powered resistance. At TEDxKrakow, Srdja Popovic lays out the plans, skills and tools each movement needs -- from nonviolent tactics to a sense of humor. Watch now >>|
| ||Sarah Kay was sad to learn she couldn’t be a princess, ballerina and astronaut in one lifetime. In two powerful poems, she shows how we can live other lives. Watch now >>|
| ||Real stories are complicated: Africa isn’t a country, and it's not a disaster zone, says reporter Leslie Dodson. She asks us to stop telling the stories of entire continents as one big tragedy. Watch now >>|
15 Flipped Classrooms We Can Learn From
Modern technology has spurred on a new trend in education: flipped classrooms. In a flipped classroom, students watch lectures and supplemental materials for their classes at home, usually pre-recorded by their instructors and uploaded to the web. Classroom time is then used for answering student questions, helping with homework, and other activities that help students apply what they've learned.
From onlinecollege.org (click here to access).
Hogsworth 2016, NFL rides wave despite recession, Verizon to take on Netflix and Apple, Randall Roberts Rocks
But what she really wants to do is direct. The Angelina Jolie publicity tour trumpeting “In the Land of Blood and Honey," her first directorial effort, continues in full force. Having already made appearances on CBS' "60 Minutes" and ABC's "This Week," the actress now finds the New York Times weighing in with a feature story. Normally, we don't link to profiles of onscreen talent, but there aren't many photo options in this morning's roundup.
Just say no. Adam Sandler isn't for everyone. But one thing I've admired about his career is that he has avoided doing lame sequels to his numerous comedy hits. Now that may be changing, though, as his production company, Happy Madison, is in talks with Sony about a follow-up to last year's "Grown Ups," according to Variety. Don't do it Adam. You're not desperate. Full disclosure: Sandler and I were also at NYU at the same time and he wouldn't recognize me if he ran me over on his way to the office.
Close that window. One of the new senior executives at NBCUniversal got a pleasant surprise one day when he tugged at the window of his 52nd-floor office and it flew wide open. As any high-rise occupant knows, windows that open wide are extremely rare. Alas, after a few days of enjoying fresh air and sticking his head out the window, it all came to an end. The memo came from building management saying that while indeed the windows do open, that doesn't mean you're allowed to open them. Probably just as well, an open window might be too tempting for NBC executives when football and its big ratings go away after the Super Bowl next February.
Someone forgot to tell the National Football League that we're in a down economy.
The NFL is working on new TV deals with broadcast networks Fox, CBS and NBC that will include a dramatic increase in the rights fees each network pays to carry games.
Currently, Fox pays an average of $725 million per season for its package of National Football Conference games, NBC shells out $650 million for its Sunday night prime-time games and CBS coughs up about $625 million for its American Football Conference rights. Each of those contracts expire at the end of the 2013 season.
The new contracts will likely run through 2021 and, before it's over, all three networks will be shelling out more than $1 billion per season. ESPN's new deal, signed in August, calls for it to pay an average of between $1.8 billion and $1.9 billion for the Monday Night Football franchise.
"The price of poker is going up," said CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves at the UBS Media & Communications conference Tuesday in New York. However, he was quick to note that even a bad football game gets more viewers than most prime-time shows.
Still, at what point does the price tag become too much? In August, Art Modell, the former owner of the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens said, "The NFL as a league should be very concerned about the costs of carrying their games getting almost obscene." He fears the league will face a backlash if it is seen as gouging the networks.
Those networks will ultimately turn to consumers to foot the bill. CBS, NBC and Fox have been aggressive about getting cable and satellite operators (now known as multichannel video program distributors) to pay them to carry their programming. At the same time, the networks are also trying to increase the money they get from their own affiliates in return for programming.
In other words, the NFL sticks it to the networks, who in turn stick it to the MVPDs and their affiliates, who in turn stick it to us.
Talk about unnecessary roughness.
Frozen Planet. Discovery Channel extricated itself from a political ice storm by announcing it would air all seven episodes of "Frozen Planet," a wildlife and natural history series co-produced with the BBC.
The program -- which explores life in the earth's polar regions and the environmental effects of rising temperatures -- will premiere March 18 and air on subsequent Sundays, Discovery said Tuesday.
Four years in the making, the series was produced by the same documentary team behind the channel's critically acclaimed series "Planet Earth." Discovery said the U.S. version of "Frozen Planet" will be narrated by actor Alec Baldwin.
"Frozen Planet" is currently running on the BBC in Britain and generating huge ratings.
Controversy erupted last month when reports surfaced that Discovery was considering ditching the seventh episode of the series, which delves into the thorny issues of global warming. That episode, "Frozen Planet: On Thin Ice," includes on-camera shots of British naturalist Sir David Attenborough, who narrates the British version, discussing what shrinking glaciers and rising temperatures mean for people and wildlife that live in the region as well as the rest of the planet.
Activists launched an online petition urging Discovery Channel to run the entire series, including "On Thin Ice." The channel is owned by Maryland-based Discovery Communications.
The ruckus surprised Discovery executives, who had not screened all of the episodes until last week.
"Up until today we had not made any programming or scheduling decisions, and today we made our announcement," said Katherine Nelson, Discovery Channel spokeswoman.
Got yourself a gun. Meet Gregg Bilson Jr., the man to see in Hollywood if you need a piece. Bilson runs Independent Studio Services, which has become the go-to prop house for guns for movie and television shows. "We provide everything from crossbows to rocket launchers and all points in between," Bilson told the Los Angeles Times. "There is nothing we can’t supply. And if we don’t have it in stock, we can make it." Hmm. I could use one for work meetings.
Can you watch me now? Verizon Communications wants to take on Netflix and other streaming services. According to Reuters, the telecommunications giant has approached Hollywood studios and television networks about acquiring content for the service. Of course these days everyone who has a connection into the home has mulled launching some sort of content delivery platform. I'm waiting for Pacific Gas & Electric to announce they too want to offer a movie-streaming service.
Busted again. Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was previously jailed for hacking into the phones of members of the British royal family on behalf of News Corp.'s now-closed News of the World tabloid, was arrested again. According to the BBC, Mulcaire was back in custody as part of Scotland Yard's probe into phone hacking by the paper.
Don't expect to see Harry in Hollywood until at least 2016.
Before Harry Potter establishes a new home base in Los Angeles, Hogwarts Castle will need to pass environmental review.
While young fans dressed in full wizard regalia were already hoisting their butter beer in excitement at the official unveiling of plans to build a Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, they may be teenagers by the time it opens for business.
The 20-acre Wizarding World attraction at Universal Studios Orlando took four-and-a-half years to build and the similar one planned for Universal Hollywood will take about the same amount of time, Universal Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Williams said in an interview.
That would suggest a late-2016 opening, but even that date could prove optimistic. The Wizarding World attraction is part of a planned $3-billion overhaul of Universal's theme park and film and television studio lot. Universal is seeking approval from planning officials for the overhaul's effect on the environment and the surrounding community.
Universal can't break ground on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter until that regulatory process is complete.
Williams added that Harry Potter rides and shops will be built in the current confines of the theme park. That will likely mean some existing attractions will need to be torn down or refitted to be more appropriate for muggles.
Follow the money. Nexstar, one of the biggest owners of local television stations in the country, wants big bucks from the multichannel video program distributors that carry its stations. Speaking at an investment conference, Nexstar Chief Executive Perry Sook said local TV stations represent 40% of viewing for distributors but only get 5% of the fees, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Of course, local broadcasters such as Nexstar need to get as much as they can from MVPDs, because the broadcast networks that supply Sook's stations with content are asking for more money. And the end result is -- say it with me now -- we pay more.
I'm the king of cable. "Titanic" director James Cameron will be heavily involved in a National Geographic Channel documentary on the doomed ocean liner, timed to the 100th anniversary of its sinking next April. The Hollywood Reporter has the scoop but forgets to mention that "Titanic" was made for 20th Century Fox Studio, whose parent News Corp. is also a partner in National Geographic.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Randall Roberts on the new members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
-- Joe Flint
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Photo: Angelina Jolie. Credit: Carlo Allegri / Reuters.