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  • Viacom Partners With Tyler Perry for BET Plus Streaming Service June 24, 2019
    Viacom’s BET Networks has teamed with Tyler Perry to create a subscription streaming service that combines the prolific auteur’s library of movies and TV shows with BET’s programming vault. The service dubbed BET Plus will bow in the fall with a handful of original series and productions and a deep library offering that will be […]
    Cynthia Littleton
  • Chinese Drama ‘Better Days,’ Yanked From Berlin Lineup, Has Its China Release Canceled June 24, 2019
    Better days may be a long way off yet for the embattled Chinese drama “Better Days,” which has canceled its mainland China release just three days before the film was to hit theaters. The movie was also pulled at the last minute from the Berlin Film festival lineup in February amid tightening control by China’s […]
    Rebecca Davis
  • China Box Office: ‘Toy Story 4’ Beaten by Old Animated Film ‘Spirited Away’ June 24, 2019
    Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” has debuted to record-breaking opening weekends all over the world – but not in China, where it was soundly beaten by a nearly 20-year-old Japanese anime classic, Ghibli Studios’ “Spirited Away.” While “Toy Story 4” made film history in territories around the world with the largest-ever three-day opening for […] […]
    Rebecca Davis
  • Keeley Hawes to Star in and Produce Honor-Killing Drama for ITV June 24, 2019
    Keeley Hawes will star as a detective attempting to bring a group of killers to justice in the wake of a so-called honor-killing in “Honour.” The two-part drama is based on the real-life case of Banaz Mahmod, a young Londoner murdered by her own family for falling in love with the wrong man. It is […]
    Stewart Clarke
  • Love Nature Teams with Arte, BBC, Smithsonian on Natural History Series ‘Stormborn’ June 24, 2019
    Love Nature has greenlit “Stormborn,” a wildlife series about animals living in the wildlands of countries on the edge of the North Atlantic. The three-parter will bow on Love Nature’s 4K linear channel and streaming service and then play on Arte in France and Germany, BBC Scotland and Smithsonian Channel. Love Nature is the natural […]
    Stewart Clarke
  • Barcroft Studios Hires John Farrar as Creative Director, Ups Two Execs (EXCLUSIVE) June 24, 2019
    John Farrar, whose credits include “The Imposter,” has joined U.K. producer and digital content specialist Barcroft Studios. The company has also upped two senior staffers, with Alex Morris elevated to chief creative officer and Caspar Norman to chief operating officer. The new recruit joins Barcroft from Nerd TV, the U.K. shingle he co-founded with Jago […] […]
    Stewart Clarke
  • Rihanna Presents Mary J. Blige With BET Lifetime Achievement Award June 24, 2019
    Rihanna took the Microsoft Theater stage on June 23 to present Mary J. Blige with the BET Lifetime Achievement Award. Hailing the legendary singer for her style and sound, Rihanna also made mention of Blige’s history-making two Oscar nominations in the same year, for best actress and original song for “Mudbound.” Accepting the trophy, Blige […]
    Shirley Halperin
  • BET Awards’ Carpet Colored Blue in Honor of Late Nipsey Hussle June 24, 2019
    The 2019 edition of the BET Awards doubled as a celebration of late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was killed in March outside of his Marathon clothing store in Los Angeles. In honor of the man affectionately known as “Nip,” the carpet was colored blue. “The marathon continues” was a common refrain on the carpet (as […]
    Shirley Halperin
  • BET Awards 2019: The Complete Winners List June 24, 2019
    The 2019 BET Awards kicked off with a performance by Cardi B, who came into the night leading with 7 nominations and, not surprisingly, picked up the award for album of the year for her “Invasion of Privacy.” Other top nominees included Drake with 5, and Beyonce, Travis Scott and J. Cole, each with four. […]
    Shirley Halperin
  • Mubi Streaming Service Launches in Southeast Asia (EXCLUSIVE) June 24, 2019
    Film specialist streaming platform Mubi is to launch in Southeast Asia. The service kicks off with operation in Malaysia, and has plans to quickly launch in another half-dozen territories in the fast-developing region. Mubi will retain its highly curated approach of offering one new film title per day and retaining each for just 30 days. […]
    Patrick Frater

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  • From Gilead to Gay Disco: Nicholas Hytner’s ‘Dream’
    A half-century on, the majesty of Peter Brook’s Royal Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream still hangs heavy over theatre in Britain. For all Nicholas Hytner’s chutzpah in confronting the primal scene of modern British theatre, his new production lacks the courage of his convictions. There’s no follow-through to the opening act’s sense of sexuality’s threat, no lingering darkness. It’s just another attempt to get down with hyper-current sexual politics, without interrogating their complexities. And no one needs another Dream populated with fairies in disco spandex and body glitter.
  • Reframing the Black Model at the Musée d’Orsay
    “Black Models: From Géricault to Matisse,” at the Musée d’Orsay, builds on this kind of archival research to recover the biographies of models of African descent in canonical French painting. While Olympia, often considered the first modern painting, plays a central role in the exhibition, its scope, as the subtitle suggests, reaches far beyond that tableau. The show chronologically traces the depiction of black figures in French painting from the revolution to the mid-twentieth century. More than a project to uncover the identities of the unnamed subjects, “Black Models” inverts how biographical research is put to use.
  • ‘Some Suburb of Hell’: America’s New Concentration Camp System
    President Trump and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller appear to have purged the Department of Homeland Security of most internal opposition to their anti-immigrant policies. In doing so, that have removed even those sympathetic to the general approach taken by the White House, such as former chief of staff John Kelly and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in order to escalate the militarization of the border and expand irregular detention in more systematic and punitive ways. This kind of power struggle or purge in the early years of a camp system is typical. Once there are concentration camps, it is always probable that things will get worse.
  • The Rules of the Game
    There is a growing schism in the Democratic Party between its two poles of influence in the age of social media: the younger, urban, and more left-leaning people who carry out a daily and often pestiferous political dialogue on Twitter, and the older and more traditionally liberal-to-moderate people who make up the actual backbone of the party across America. If there is a division within the party that will bring it to ruin in 2020, this is it. Both factions reflect the seriousness of the fight to define the party anew as it crawls out of the Clinton “New Democrat” era in search of some as-yet-unnamed identity. I think both more or less agree on the problems: the recent failure of American capitalism to provide the more broadly shared prosperity we once enjoyed, the crisis facing our democracy and institutions under Trump, and the depraved authoritarianism of the Republican Party. But Democrats are quite divided on the solutions.
  • ‘The Compatibility of Opposites’: A Portrait of Lebanon
    As the country becomes more and more fragmented, so religion increasingly binds on the one hand, divides on the other. This dubious equation is spreading globally, but as in so many things, Lebanon is a step ahead when it comes to emerging symptoms and hopeless remedies. The Arabic word for nuance is farq saghir: small difference. Needless to say, Lebanon takes the prize for “small differences.” The stronghold of nuance and of caricature, it is the permanent fount of infinitely subtle and pointless arguments, with all concerned having a vested interest in ensuring the permanent imbalance. The Lebanese beat all records for splits, divisions, and contradictions. They are cynical and sentimental, tired and full of energy, capable of bending over backward for family and friends, incapable of uniting for the sake of the country.
  • Edmund de Waal’s Venetian Tableaux
    In his book The White Road (2015), Edmund De Waal recounted his love affair with porcelain and the long, fascinating history of the material’s travels and fashioning. It was to Venice that Marco Polo brought the earliest porcelain vessel in the Western hemisphere—and De Waal chased it down here for that book. Porcelain of the purest white remains the primary material out of which he fashions his fragile, luminous vessels, the central components of his installations. To me, these vessels, as well as the square or rectangular shapes of marble and gold leaf in his work, suggest musical notation—setting up a contrapuntal dialogue with the light and the space they inhabit, providing comment or argument, yet invoking a meditative silence, a call to attentiveness.
  • A Solution to the Abortion War: The Celibacy Amendment
    It would be honorable for the Republican platform to consider the following plank—a heavy piece of wood indeed. In their frequent suggestions for constitutional amendments, as if they were a corner stoplight, they might propose, on behalf of the contested unborn, a command that young men remain celibate until marriage. The Celibacy Amendment deserves the floor.
  • The Impeachment Question
    Should the House Democrats proceed to impeachment despite the seeming impossibility that the Senate would vote—by the constitutionally required two-thirds majority—to convict Trump and remove him from office? That question confronted the Democrats from the start and stymies them still.
  • The Art of the Possible at Havana’s Bienal
    The Cuban government, which regularly arrests artists and journalists, also expected to welcome a record-breaking 5.1 million tourists this year. Cuba’s leaders are well aware that cultural capital is one of their nation’s major assets. Rage, pain, and dissent were not only openly on view in this year's Bienal de la Habana in Cuba, but were featured and promoted with hashtags like #CubaEsCultura. In her powerful statement, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera expressed her admiration for the Bienal’s curators but explained that she was not attending because the Ministry of Culture was diverting resources to the Bienal in order to “whitewash its international image.” Her argument—that people shouldn’t travel to Cuba for the Bienal because to do so justifies the Cuban government’s human rights abuses—is one the US government has been making, in more general terms, for nearly six decades. Less than a month after the Bienal ended, the US delivered a gut punch to Cuba’s emerging entrepreneurial class, banning cruise ships and other vessels from docking in Cuban ports, and prohibiting group travel to Cuba for cultural and educational purposes.
  • A Resonant Centenary for Strauss at the Vienna State Opera
    In Die Frau ohne Schatten, the conductor Thielemann finds a work fundamentally consonant with his conservative values—both in the late Romantic tonalities of Strauss’s music and in librettist Hofmannsthal’s sacral vision of marriage and child-rearing as the answer for social ills. One of the opera’s most haunting moments, at the conclusion of the first act, is when a trio of nightwatchmen is heard enjoining in ceremonious unison husbands and wives to love each other, entrusting them with the seed of new life. This tentative rite of renewal and regeneration is what the opera offered to the postwar world in 1919. Today, it has a somewhat different resonance for an Austrian republic shaken by scheming politicians involved in shady deals.
  • A Muckraker’s Progress
    Seymour Hersh has been the premier American investigative reporter of the last half-century. In the late 1960s his articles helped inspire a partly successful campaign to abolish America’s arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. His 1969 exposé of the My Lai massacre revealed the savagery of the Vietnam War. He provided the first comprehensive account of President Richard Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia. His disclosure in 1974 that the CIA had spied on antiwar activists prompted the creation of two congressional investigating committees. He led the effort to unearth American dirty tricks in the early 1970s against Chile’s democratic socialist president, Salvador Allende. After September 11, he warned that US intelligence was being manipulated to justify an invasion of Iraq, and in 2004 he brought to light the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison. Hersh has also been dogged by criticism, some of it legitimate. He has bullied sources, lashed out at colleagues, succumbed to hoaxes, and destroyed the reputation of at least one blameless person.
  • The Neocolonial Arrogance of the Kushner Plan
    What Jared Kushner and his colleagues are saying is that the Palestinians have no justified grievances, and no legitimate rights, except the right to whatever prosperity can be achieved with Gulf money under a permanent Israeli military occupation of their land. However, the Kushner plan’s notion of throwing other people’s money at the issue will not make it go away; not when it involves the national, political, civil, and human rights of an estimated 12 million people. The Palestinian people are not about to be bought off. Whether Kushner knows it or not, the days of Lord Curzon and Lord Balfour are long gone, the colonial era is over. With the neocolonial plans they have concocted for the Palestinians, he and his Israeli allies are swimming against the tide of history.
  • A Terribly Durable Myth
    The exhibition “Jews, Money, Myth” at the Jewish Museum in London seeks both to document and to refute the stereotype of the moneyed Jew. The subject is distressingly timely. Propelled by rising nationalism on the right and antiglobalism on the left, in the past two years anti-Semitism has come back into the headlines. Politicians and activists on all sides now implicitly endorse or even repeat accusations of Jewish greed and financial power.
  • ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ and Wall Street’s Debt to Slavery
    The real moral exemplum about capitalism and the American Dream to be found in the story of Lehman Brothers is not how they lost touch with their mercantile roots, tempted by the lure of speculative wealth. It is the way in which the South’s investment in the cotton economy profoundly shaped American history from the antebellum period onward, particularly in the slave economy’s legacy of white wealth and black impoverishment, white privilege and black disenfranchisement. Within two decades of the end of the Civil War, the Lehmans had quit cotton factoring and the South, transforming themselves into a Northern finance powerhouse on Wall Street. It is that process of transformation—leaving slavery behind but banking its profits—that is the story not only of Lehman Brothers, but also of the formation of modern American capitalism.
  • Bellingcat and How Open Source Reinvented Investigative Journalism
    Open Source Intelligence has enabled many forensic breakthroughs in recent years. Beginning in 2010, the open newsroom tool Storyful became a platform for collaborative investigation, laying the ground for this entirely new field of journalism. The most active and resourceful member of the original Storyful collective was the Leicester-based citizen journalist Eliot Higgins, who developed creative new methods to crack intractable cases, which he used in 2014 to found Bellingcat, an international collective of researchers, investigators, and citizen journalists that conducts investigations using the techniques he had pioneered. 
  • Africa’s Lost Kingdoms
    It may remain a little-known fact, but Africa has never lacked civilizations, nor has it ever been as cut off from world events as it has been routinely portrayed. Some remarkable new books make this case in scholarly but accessible terms, and they admirably complicate our understanding of Africa’s past and present.
  • ‘Souvenirs or Landmarks’: The Photographs of Susan Meiselas
    Those of us who have experienced war—survivors, soldiers, reporters, aid workers—are haunted by what we cannot unsee. The images recur in nightmares, or distort a vista that hides a personal horror. I wince every time a new visitor extols the beauty of the hills of Rwanda—those of us who witnessed the 1994 genocide do not see neat fields and forests, but ditches of bodies with their throats cut and piles of skulls hidden in the folds of the hills. We lurch between wanting to spare others and a desperate need for them also to see the pictures in our heads. It’s not just that we can’t get rid of the ghosts, but that the pastoral scene boosts government propaganda that Rwandans live in harmony now and no longer fear the neighbors who killed their parents and grandparents. Whatever they say, we know how the past speaks—or shouts—to the present.
  • Fighting for Her Life
    Andrea Dworkin did not love pornography. I don’t mean this as comic understatement of her well-publicized, steadfast opposition to it and of her attempts, with legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon, to pass ordinances in numerous cities that would allow women to sue pornographers for damages. What I mean to draw attention to is that she devoted an entire book and part of another book (Woman Hating) to the close scrutiny of something she did not love or like. Of course you would hardly expect an activist fighting rape and battery to like those things: you would expect her to write about them out of a commitment to trying to stop them. But Dworkin’s involvement with pornography is a little different.
  • Sierra Leone, 2000: A Case History in Successful Interventionism
    Sierra Leone was a rare case of the “Blair Doctrine” bearing fruit: an overseas military operation not for strategic or commercial interest, but for humanitarian purposes and in the name of an ethical foreign policy. Though the commander on the ground, Brigadier David Richards, never received official authorization from London for the project, within six weeks he and his men did the crucial groundwork of halting the rebel advances, restoring security to the capital, Freetown, and shoring up the Sierra Leone government and its army. A few months later, a major new UN peacekeeping deployment and a ceasefire led to the disarming of rebel groups and a swift end to a war that had lasted nearly eleven years and inflicted enormous human suffering.
  • Reckless in Riyadh
    The recklessness of the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman has been abetted by the Trump administration, which has boasted of its special relationship with the young de facto ruler (his father, King Salman, is in poor health, and MBS enjoys great latitude) and has avoided criticizing him for his misadventures. Yet Democratic contenders for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination are lining up to see who can Saudi-bash the loudest. The Democrats’ outrage has been further fueled by the suspicion that behind the president’s uncritical embrace of the Saudis are his hopes for personal enrichment from the relationship—a reasonable surmise in light of the Saudi habit of booking entire floors of his Washington hotel when delegations come to town. As the de facto alliance approaches its seventy-fifth anniversary, some American policymakers and scholars are questioning whether it still makes sense for the US.
  • ‘No Property in Man’: An Exchange
    To the Editors: Nicholas Guyatt’s review of my No Property in Man charges that the book isn’t really a work of history at all but, at bottom, a political polemic disguised as history, an act of projection aimed at Bernie Sanders and Guyatt’s own “younger generation of scholars.” I can only conjecture why Guyatt, a former student in my Princeton graduate seminar, felt compelled to defame my professional integrity.
  • Another Forgotten Atrocity
    To the Editors: In his review of Enrico Deaglio’s A True and Terrible Affair Between Sicily and America, Frank Viviano writes that the 1890 lynching of eleven Italian-Americans in New Orleans was “the single worst mass lynching in US history.” Sadly, that grim statistic belongs to the now well-documented massacre of Mexicans living on the banks of the Rio Grande in the isolated village of Porvenir, Texas.
  • Percy’s Debt to Pepys
    To the Editors: Jenny Uglow’s “Big Talkers” describes Thomas Percy as the “first collector of English Ballads.” However, Claire Tomalin’s biography of Samuel Pepys notes Pepys’s own collection of ballads, carefully curated by subject and bound into volumes to be preserved in his invaluable library and used by Percy in his Reliques of Ancient English Poetry some fifty years later.
  • Query
    To the Editors: For a biography of the late American poet Amy Clampitt (1920–1994), I would be grateful to receive reminiscences, anecdotes, or details from people who knew her.
  • The Value of a Cell
    To the Editors: I am not sure how your reviewer Gavin Francis took away from my book, The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease, the idea that the mini-vaccine factories known as WI-38 cells were “donated,” as he writes, for research. The cells came from the lungs of an approximately seventeen-week fetus legally aborted in Sweden in 1962.
  • One Man’s Quest for a Memorial to Sugar Land’s Bitter History
    Life in Sugar Land is sweet, particularly for the immigrants who flock to it in search of a fresh start and prosperity. Like much of the Houston metro area, it is among the most diverse, economically flourishing cities in America. Drawn to Houston’s booming energy industry, top-tier public schools, and pristine subdivisions with names like Settlers Park and Sugar Mill, my parents and their peers arrived in the 1970s and 1980s to this aspirational dream town. There was little clue at that time of the dark, subterranean past on which, quite literally, our homes and schools were built.
  • Willem de Kooning: Acrobat with a Paint Brush
    In 1955, de Kooning was at one of several artistic peaks. By then, he had completely internalized his synthesis of Cubist structure, including Picasso’s Surrealist variations, with Pollock’s innovative materials and expansive scale. Soutine had shown de Kooning how to charge his refined line with a juicier, more muscular gesture. In Composition, de Kooning’s masterpiece of that year, the addition of sand or other grit to the paint creates a drag against the canvas, shifting the emphasis from the speed of the stroke to its driving force. It’s as if his hand accelerated hard in first gear in thick, rough passages and then shifted in a heartbeat to fourth, leaping ahead as the suddenly liquid paint splashed across the surface. If you’re not interested in this kind of wild ride, de Kooning isn’t for you.
  • Home Is Where the Heart Is: A Return to Perry, Utah
    I could see an arm of the lake on our left, orchards mixed with houses on our right. “Gee,” I said, “I have no memory of the lake.” Then I started staring at the mountain that was sloping down into fields, only a mile from our car. A great orchard lay beneath it. The strangest feeling overcame me. It was as if a ghost had appeared outside the car. This was a place I had dreamed of my whole life and it was now coming into view. I kept staring at the mountain. “That’s the ridge I’m climbing up in the film!” I exclaimed. A large farm stand beside the road was advertising peaches and cherries. We were in Perry.
  • China’s ‘Black Week-end’
    For authoritarian regimes like China’s, history is power, because their political systems are legitimized through myths. In the case of the People’s Republic, the story goes that earlier efforts to modernize China were failures and that only the Chinese Communist Party was able to bullwhip the country into the future. This is the history that every child learns in textbooks, that museums serve up in exhibitions, and that the media push in countless television dramas, news reports, and popular books. The problem for the government is that historical truth is hard to suppress.
  • ‘Gone Like a Meteor’: Epitaph for the Lost Youth of the Biafran War
    The books published about the Biafran War, by memoirists on either side, are written from the perspective of those who survived, and can manage to speak of its horrors. The dead, voiceless, keep to themselves. And what of the unborn? When I remember my uncle, it is to grieve for a man whom I never knew, forty years after his death. Youth is a meteor, gone in a flash. The tragedy of the deaths of the poet Christopher Okigbo and the photojournalist Priya Ramrakha is outbalanced by the longevity of their words and pictures. They survive through what they managed to wrest from the terrible war. My uncle wasn’t as fortunate. The details of his life are vague and imprecise, amounting to no more than an hour of talk when I sit with any relative.
  • ‘Nostalgia Serves No Purpose’: An Interview with Michel Barnier
    Michał Matlak: What is most likely to happen now with the Brexit negotiations? Michel Barnier: There are three options: a deal based on the agreement finalized six months ago; withdrawal without a deal; or no Brexit. It will have to be the choice of the UK. During the last three years, we have delivered what the UK wants: leaving the EU, leaving the single market, leaving the customs union [after the Irish “backstop” is resolved]. Even if we regret their decision profoundly, it is their sovereign decision and we have to respect it. But if the UK wants to leave in an orderly manner, this treaty is the only option.
  • Will Spain Be the Savior of Social Democracy in Europe?
    The election campaign run by the Spanish Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez offers pointed lessons on how other center-left politicians in Europe can confront the electoral challenge of the far right—and win. Instead of imitating the right’s nationalist discourse with a diluted form of nativism and chauvinism in the hope of stemming the defection of white working-class voters, Sánchez ran as a principled progressive. He emphasized the values intrinsic to social democracy, such as equality, solidarity, and a commitment to social justice and the welfare state. And he took the fight to the hard right by portraying himself as a crucial defender of democracy against the forces of authoritarianism and separatist nationalism.
  • Whitman, Melville, & Julia Ward Howe: A Tale of Three Bicentennials
    Although she wrote the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” words that are better known around the world than anything by her contemporaries Walt Whitman and Herman Melville, Howe has moved to the margins of literary history. Out of her poetry, the “Battle Hymn” is the only lyric that has outlived its author. But Howe was famous for much more than her writing. After the Civil War, she assessed and abandoned her poetic ambitions to become a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, an advocate for world peace, and a tireless worker for human rights. By the time she died, in 1910, she was far more famous in the US and internationally, and more widely and publicly mourned, than either of the two men. 

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