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The latest news from Entertainment
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    teen laptop

    • Generation Z is moving away from traditional television.
    • Marketers say that's a major break from previous generations.
    • To sway these teens, some networks are collaborating with social networks and popular streaming options. It's not always successful.

     

    Grace Clark, 17, doesn't like television. She says the episodes are too long. 

    "I like YouTube, because the content is shorter and therefore is able to hold my attention throughout the whole video," Clark told Business Insider.

    Her favorite is the Vlog Squad, a group of YouTube-famous 20-somethings based in Los Angeles. Several times a week, the group posts instances from their daily lives like flying (but with a llama), going hiking, or rollerskating. "Their content is very comedic but is rarely over 20 minutes," Clark said.

    The interest in short but frequent video content from younger, more relatable sources is widespread among Clark's peers. She's considered a Generation Z, the generational cohort of Americans born after 1997. Few of them remember life before social media, the internet, and smartphones.

    In a recent Business Insider survey of 104 teens nationwide, only 2% of Gen Zs said that cable is their most-used choice for video content. Nearly a third said YouTube is their most-used source for video content, and 62% say streaming excluding YouTube, including Netflix or Hulu, is their most-used. 

    Those who do watch cable television enjoy it largely as a means of bonding with family, the news, or falling asleep. 

    how gen z watches video

    That's a remarkable aboutface from previous generations, according to MaryLeigh Bliss, Chief Content Officer at YPulse, a research and marketing firm focused on Gen Z and Millennials.

    "It's a major, major shift that we've seen with these young generations," Bliss told Business Insider.

    Among American adults, 59% say cable or satellite is their primary method of watching television, according to a 2017 Pew Research study. Less than a third depend primarily on online streaming.

    The preference for cable is even more marked among older Americans. For those 65 or older, 84% use primarily cable

    "Honestly, I don’t watch many cable programs," 16-year-old Grace Serdula told Business Insider. "I watch whatever is on, but I don’t pay enough attention to them. But I find YouTube a better entertainment source. I can watch anything I want."

    One key reason for the shift is the increasing use of mobile phones as a way to consume content. The majority of Gen Zs use smartphones as their primary medium to watch videos, while millennials primarily use actual televisions, according to YPulse data. 

    It's not because they don't have access to a television. If they're below the age of 18, they likely still live with their parents, who almost certainly have a TV.

    Because of the decreasing emphasis on cable TV, this younger generation also has difficulty tolerating traditional ads. Variety reported in June that Fox outlets want to fill some of its commercial breaks with inspirational videos sponsored by pharmaceutical companies or other marketers. 

    "That's actively to try to appeal to younger generations," Bliss said of Fox's move. 

    13 Reasons Why

    Netflix is the top streaming choice for Gen Zs

    Netflix, the favored option among Gen Zs for all video content, lacks commercial breaks. It's also primed for binge watching, which is how today's teens are acclimated to watching television.

    Unlike previous generations who might tune in for a latest episode installment, Gen Zs told Business Insider that they enjoy watching older shows, too. Teenagers adore "Friends," a sitcom that aired its last episode when some of them may have been in diapers.

    "There are more options than on cable, since you can rewind or fast forward and watch older shows like Friends easier," 15-year-old Sadie Madden told Business Insider. 

    Clark also shared that she loves Pretty Little Liars, which aired from 2010 to 2017.

    "I like the fact that these shows are on Netflix because I am able to binge watch them without commercial breaks in between," Clark said.

    vlog squad

    YouTube offers a different experience than traditional media sources

    When teens watch YouTube, they're not seeking fictional plotlines portrayed by Hollywood stars.

    One popular usage of YouTube is niche, hobby-driven content. Isabel Lagando, 14, watches lots of beauty and cooking shows. Kay Parker, 15, enjoys watching gaming videos on YouTube. 

    "You can check out how a game looks from another person’s perspective before getting it," Parker told Business Insider. "Instead of waiting for something you like to come on it’s available on YouTube 24/7 and you feel like you can watch all of your favorite channels and their videos nonstop without getting tired of it."

    Vlogs are also incredibly popular. One of YouTube's most popular vloggers is Zoella, who runs a beauty, fashion and daily life account with more than 12 million subscribers.

    Vloggers like Zoella are as pretty and personable as any celebrity. But their transparency and frequent life updates makes subscribers feel more like they're spending time with a friend (albeit one who is an international runway model).

    "I find and vlogging interesting because it feels like I’m ... spending a day with a close friend and traveling and whatnot," Serdula told Business Insider. "The videos provide background noise that I can tune into without missing any important plot devices."

    Riverdale

    How are traditional networks responding?

    The amount of homes with cable, satellite, or telco is dropping, according to a 2017 Nielsen report. 

    Bliss said the landscape for cable and network companies is "bleak."

    Cable is the fifth most-popular outlet for video consumption, according to YPulse data on teenagers. Gen Zs are more likely to watch video content on YouTube, Netflix, Instagram, and Snapchat. 

    In response, some cable providers have moved their content onto those more popular platforms. CNN had a Snapchat show, but that flopped after four months. More positively, NBC's "Stay Tuned" Snapchat news show accrued four million subscribers in its first five months — the majority of whom watch three or more times a week.

    One notable success story is the ultra-popular Riverdale, the aggressively dramatic reimagination of the Arhcie comics aired through the CW.

    As Vulture reported, the CW has a unique streaming deal with Netflix, allowing season one to appear in May 2017 on Netflix a week after the season ended. That gave swaths of viewers access to the show that they might not have had otherwise.

    Riverdale's second season reached viewership numbers last fall that the CW hadn't seen since The Vampire Diaries 2012. And that was on their network — not Netflix.

    That Riverdale could sway teens to tune in on an actual television with actual commercials is proof of one major point: The entertainment itself is more important than the platform.

    "It's still about the content," Bliss said. "You have to make the content that they want to watch. You have to create the entertainment that they think is worth their time."

    SEE ALSO: 104 Generation Zs reveal what it's like to be a teen in 2018

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Pokemon Go

    • Pokémon Go finally started rolling out the Pokémon trading feature on Thursday.
    • The bad news is that when the feature launched, you had to be level 40, the game's max level, to take advantage of the new features.
    • The good news is that Niantic, the game's developer, has a history of making new features available to small groups first, so as not to overload the servers. Indeed, later on Thursday, Niantic gradually started opening it up to players of level 30 and above.
    • Still, players are frustrated: Niantic first promised these features in 2016, and being so close and yet so far is taking its toll.

    The good news is that, as promised, Pokémon Go rolled out a new set of social features on Thursday that finally bring the ability to trade Pokémon with your friends, among other perks.

    The bad news is that, at least at launch, the feature was available only for players at the game's maximum level of 40.

    For context, I've been playing every single day since the game came out in July 2016, and I'm level 32.

     

    On its customer support page, Pokémon Go's developer, Niantic, says that this is a temporary situation and that it will be slowly easing people into the feature, though it didn't give a timetable. Indeed, later on Thursday, Niantic started opening it up to more players — at press time, Pokémon trading was open to players of level 30 and above, and will probably continue to open up throughout the night.

    Niantic has a history of this kind of thing. New features, like 20-player raid battles, have rolled out first to those at high levels before coming to the wider base. The ultimate goal is likely to avoid the kind of server instability that characterized the game in its first days.

    Still, players are frustrated. The ability to trade Pokémon was first promised in the days after the game's release, so the hype was strong when Niantic announced this week that it would finally arrive. To have the feature and still not know when they can use it has made for some unhappy gamers.

    The good news is that this frustration will probably be short-lived. At this rate, it'll be less than a day before everyone has access.

    In the meantime, check out our guide on how trading in Pokémon Go will work once you have access.

    Niantic did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    SEE ALSO: This is how Pokémon trading will work in Pokémon Go

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What having a dog does to your brain and body


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    colbert melania

    • Stephen Colbert joked on Thursday about First Lady Melania Trump's wearing of a jacket that read, "I really don't care, do u?," to visit immigrant children in Texas whom the Trump administration has separated from their parents.
    • "I’m going to guess this is one message she did not steal from Michelle Obama," Colbert said.

    Stephen Colbert took apart the Trump administration's decision to send First Lady Melania Trump, whom Colbert referred to as Trump's "most high-profile detainee," to visit the immigrant children whom the administration has separated from their parents in Texas as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration. 

    "When I heard she was doing this, I thought, okay! This is what First Ladies often do. You go to a troubled area. They see the children. They show that we care. You can’t mess that up," Colbert said on Thursday's "Late Show."

    "Guess what? I spoke too soon," he added.

    After assuring the audience that his show had repeatedly verified the image "because we thought this has to be fake," Colbert showed pictures of Melania, en route to the detention centers, wearing a jacket that read, "I really don't care, do u?" 

    Colbert noted that the First Lady's spokeswoman said in a statement that the jacket had "no hidden message." 

    "Right, it's definitely not hidden," Colbert joked. "It's right on the back. And, I'm going to guess this is one message she did not steal from Michelle Obama."

    The "Late Show" host then wondered how many staffers would have been fired for such an incident in a previous administration.

    "Because, in the middle of the worst moral scandal in recent memory – so bad that her husband backed down for the first time in memory – people who were supposedly on her side let her get on a plane with a jacket that said, 'I really don't care, do you?'"

    "For the record: We do," Colbert added.

    Watch the monologue below:

    SEE ALSO: Melania Trump flew to Texas to visit immigrant children wearing a jacket that says 'I really don't care, do u?'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The world is running out of sand — and there's a black market for it now


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    wont you be my neighbor

    Every week, Business Insider suggests five potentially overlooked movies currently playing in theaters you should check out this weekend.

    Some may be harder to find than others, but these movies are the perfect watch if you are looking for plans, especially if you have MoviePass, which lets you see any movie you want in theaters for $10 a month. It's a great way to get you in the theater for movies you may not have considered otherwise.

    This week's movies include the beloved Mr. Rogers documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" and Blumhouse's new sci-fi movie "Upgrade."

    Below are five movies you can see in theaters this week:

    SEE ALSO: 5 hidden gem movies you should see in theaters, especially if you have MoviePass

    "American Animals"

    Release date: June 1, 2018

    Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 85%

    "American Animals" is the MoviePass-funded film that is actually good ("Gotti," not so much). Featuring a great young cast that includes "American Horror Story's" Evan Peters and "Dunkirk's" Barry Keoghan, "American Animals" is a heist movie based on a true story. Barry Layton's experience with documentary filmmaking shines through the narrative in a very literal way.

    Description: "American Animals is the unbelievable but entirely true story of four young men who attempt to execute one of the most audacious art heists in U.S. history. The film centers around two friends from the middle-class suburbs of Lexington, Kentucky. Spencer (Barry Keoghan), is determined to become an artist but feels he lacks the essential ingredient that unites all great artists – suffering. His closest friend, Warren (Evan Peters), has also been raised to believe that his life will be special, and that he will be unique in some way. But as they leave the suburbs for universities in the same town, the realities of adult life begin to dawn on them and with that, the realization that their lives may in fact never be important or special in any way. Determined to live lives that are out of the ordinary, they plan the brazen theft of some of the world’s most valuable books from the special collections room of Spencer's college Library. "

     



    "The Book Club"

    Release date: May 18

    Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 53%

    While the movie may not have been well-received by critics, it might appeal to an older audience just looking for a funny, relatable movie with a dynamite cast that includes Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton.

    Description: "Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage, Vivian (Jane Fonda) enjoys her men with no strings attached, Sharon (Candice Bergen) is still working through her decades-old divorce, and Carol's (Mary Steenburgen) marriage is in a slump after 35 years. The lives of these four lifelong friends are turned upside down after reading the infamous "50 Shades of Grey," catapulting them into a series of outrageous life choices."



    "Hearts Beat Loud"

    Release date: June 8, 2018

    Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91%

    "Hearts Beat Loud" is a new feel-good movie starring "Parks and Rec's" Nick Offerman and rising star Kiersey Clemons. The two play a father-daughter duo who join forces to start a band before Clemons' character leaves for college. If you're looking for a heartwarming and funny family film, this may be for you. 

    Description: "In the hip Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook, single dad and record store owner Frank (Nick Offerman) is preparing to send his hard-working daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) off to college, while being forced to close his vintage shop. Hoping to stay connected through their shared musical passions, Frank urges Sam to turn their weekly "jam sesh" into a father-daughter live act. After their first song becomes an Internet breakout, the two embark on a journey of love, growing up and musical discovery."



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    love means zero showtime

    • The Showtime documentary "Love Means Zero" (airing Saturday) looks at the career of tennis coach Nick Bollettieri.
    • But the main focus of director Jason Kohn's movie is the relationship Bollettieri had with his star student, Andre Agassi.
    • Kohn talked to Business Insider about why he had to have a confrontational relationship with the coach to get the movie he wanted.


    In the 1990s, there was no bigger coach in tennis than Nick Bollettieri. A charismatic motivator with an oversized ego, he also had a gift for molding raw talent into champions.

    At his lauded tennis academy, he launched the careers of tennis legends like Jim Courier, Monica Seles, Mary Pierce, Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Anna Kournikova. By his count, 180 grand slam titles would come out of players he coached.

    But his crown jewel was Andre Agassi. 

    Nick Bollettieri Anna Kournikova Simon Bruty GettyComing to Bollettieri’s school as a teenager, Agassi instantly caught the coach’s eye because he was different. His attitude, his game, it all just shouted superstar. Bollettieri, yearning to be a star himself, put Agassi under his wing and the two became inseparable as his pupil became the hottest thing in the sport. 

    However, the good times didn’t last forever. Following two grand slam wins with Agassi, in 1993 Bollettieri shockingly left the player he said he loved like a son. And if that wasn’t heartbreaking enough for Agassi, Bollettieri didn’t give a passionate face-to-face goodbye but instead ended it all via a letter to his star. The two have not been on speaking terms since. 

    Now decades later, at the age of 86, Bollettieri agreed to sit down with documentary filmmaker Jason Kohn (“Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)”) to talk about it all. But “Love Means Zero” (airing on Showtime Saturday) is hardly a conventional sports documentary that looks back on the highlights of a legendary career. It’s hard hitting and full of confrontation — just like its subject. 

    Kohn admits he didn’t have major aspirations for the project. In many ways he saw it as an opportunity to practice storytelling. Unlike his debut feature film, 2007’s “Manda Bala (Send a Bullet),” a complex telling of corruption and kidnapping in Brazil (it won the documentary grand jury prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival), Kohn could see from the start how to tell the story of Bollettieri: be as real as possible.

    
“The biggest learning opportunity was figuring out how do I make this into a real story,” Kohn told Business Insider. “How do I make this into a protagonist who has really clear specific goals and desires with very clear moments of conflict?”

    And that was the initial challenge for Kohn: getting Bollettieri to come on board with his idea.

    Nick Bollettieri Andre Agassi John Russell Getty
“I was extraordinarily concerned that if I wasn't able to get something real with Nick that this was just going to be a conventional sports documentary, and that was a genuine fear,” Kohn said. “Even though I knew what the story was I didn't mention to Nick that I knew exactly what the story was I wanted to tell. Rather than say, ‘I want to exclusively tell the story about his relationship with Andre,’ what I told him is I wanted to tell a family story and that I wanted to tell a story about surrogate fathers and sons and the relationships between his players. At that point Nick said to me, ‘Well, what about French Open 1989 when I chose [to coach] Andre [Agassi] over Jim [Courier]? They were both my boys.’ And I was like, ‘Nick, that's a wonderful idea!’ Meanwhile, that was the treatment that I had written.”

    With Bollettieri on board with the story, the other challenge was figuring out if Agassi would participate in the movie. Initially, Kohn had the project set up as a “30 for 30” documentary at ESPN. But it became clear that the network was only interested in the movie if Agassi was involved. After a year of back-and-forth discussions with Agassi's manager, Kohn finally got the "no" — Agassi would not be in the movie (Showtime snatched it soon after). 

    What Kohn realized in that moment was he had been free of a major restriction: working with a temperamental superstar. He changed his story treatment from a 60-minute documentary to a 90-minute feature doc and began tracking down Bollettieri’s former students. 


    Kohn’s confidence in the project came from knowing how he wanted to structure the storytelling of Bollettieri and Agassi’s relationship — using the battle sequences from the Akira Kurosawa samurai classic “Ran” as a model for how to showcase three key Agassi matches — and capitalizing on the on-camera personality that Bollettieri would bring.


    But the latter turned out to be more than what Kohn bargained for. In an attempt to get Bollettieri out of his usual soundbite speak, the result was constant arguments caught on camera between the two that aren't just entertaining to watch, but a refreshing subplot to the movie. As most sports documentaries are helmed by directors too busy gushing over their subjects to get them to be revealing, Kohn can be heard off camera pleading with Bollettieri to give him genuine answers to his questions.

    Kohn said the key to the whole movie was that his producer Amanda Branson Gill had Bollettieri agree to sit down for two days of interviews. It was vital, because what Kohn realized was almost the entire first day was the famous coach doing the shtick he’d done for interviews for decades.


    “I was getting very frustrated,” Kohn said. “Nick is self-mythologizing and when you're taking to people who are good storytellers and who have told the same story over and over and over again the actual story becomes extraordinarily detached from what actually happened. It was pretty boring.”

    With visions of a conventional sports doc flashing before his eyes, Kohn at the end of the first day finally began to get Bollettieri out of his interview speak by confronting his subject on camera. Kohn said at the end of filming the first day Bollettieri got out of his seat and said to the crew, “You see that? Jason and I are fighting, it's great!"

    Jason Kohn Vittorio Zunino Getty“I saw how well he responded to that so the second day of the interview I just went in with the idea that we're going to fight now,” Kohn said. "And that was great, I felt really liberated.”


    The result is one of the most powerful sports documentaries you’ll see this year. Through the pressing by Kohn, Bollettieri opens up about the controversial decision to sit in Agassi’s box when he played fellow Bollettieri protégé Jim Courier at the 1989 French Open, why he sent Agassi the letter ending his time as his coach, and why his world-renowned academy ended up not making any money. 

    But where we find the macho coach’s most revealing moment is when Kohn asks Bollettieri to read a passage from Agassi’s autobiography, “Open,” in which the star writes an emotional letter directly to his old coach. It shows a rare vulnerable side of Bollettieri leading to him finally saying how he feels about his protégé: that he still cares deeply for Agassi. 

    Kohn said he offered Agassi a chance to see “Love Means Zero” at a private screening when it was completed, but the tennis legend declined. Though he would have liked to have known what Agassi thought of the movie, it was more important for Kohn to find out what Bollettieri thought. The director admitted showing the movie to his subject for the first time was a strenuous ordeal.

    The small screening included some of Bollettieri’s friends, and at the end it seemed the coach liked it, as he then held court and told stories. Kohn snuck out feeling it all worked well. Then around 10:30 that evening, Bollettieri called Kohn.

    “I’m thinking, s---, this is when Nick is going to pull his mafia persona," Kohn said. "And then he gave me a world class Coach Bollettieri ‘I’m proud of you’ speech and I was extraordinarily moved. The fact that I was moved was the most surprising thing to me because I wasn't looking for Nick's approval with this picture. I wasn't looking to make him happy. But that was the last thing about Nick's power as a coach and a motivator that I couldn't grasp until it happened to me. To give me the kind of speech I can only imagine he gave some of his players, I loved it.” 

    SEE ALSO: MoviePass is going to introduce surge pricing on popular movies by July

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Trump pitched peace to Kim Jong Un with this Hollywood-style video starring Kim as the leading man


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    wont you be my neighbor

    • The new Mr. Rogers documentary, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?," has been (almost) universally beloved by critics.
    • Only one review has so far been negative.
    • The movie has a near-perfect 99% critic score and 98% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

     

    "Won't You Be My Neighbor?," the beloved Morgan Neville-directed documentary about "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" host Fred Rogers, which both critics and audiences have come to adore, has a near-perfect 99% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. But one negative review is holding it back from the coveted perfect 100% score.

    Dan Schindel for The Film Stage is the only critic out of 134 to give the movie a negative review. In the review, Schindel writes, "there are glimpses of a more complex human being throughout the film, one who would have made for a much better subject."

    Schindel goes on to say that the movie "brushes by any details of Rogers’ life which suggest a more complex or flawed individual, such as his sometimes seemingly megalomaniacal devotion to his 'mission' or his pressuring a gay cast member to stay closeted. Despite his bland, wholesome image, there are enough hints of a better portrait that could have been made of Rogers to render this one a disappointment."

    He ultimately gave the movie a letter grade of "C." But he seems to be alone in his sentiment, particularly among fellow critics. Audiences are also loving the movie, and it has a 98% audience score out of 971 user ratings as of Friday morning. It recently opened in select theaters nationwide after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

    "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" has been praised by critics for its timely reminder that there is still some humanity left in the world. Deadline calls it the "perfect antidote for the Trump era." Indiewire's David Ehrlich writes, "Mr. Rogers began every show by saying 'Let’s make the most of this beautiful day,' but 'Won’t You Be My Neighbor?' never loses sight of the work required to fulfill that hope."

    It's hard to argue with that.

    SEE ALSO: 5 hidden gem movies you should see in theaters this weekend

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Sneaky ways Costco gets you to buy more


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    HighExplosivesScreenshot Fortnite Battle royale

    • "Fortnite" is the world's most popular game, with over 125 million players.
    • Epic Games, makers of "Fortnite," are looking to evolve the gameplay. "We are exploring changes to weapon balance and resource economy, like e.g. resource caps," a post on Epic's blog said.
    • Building without limits is core to the gameplay of "Fortnite," and limiting that could turn off a lot of players — including Ninja, the most popular player in the world, who's already voiced his displeasure.


    Major changes are coming to "Fortnite," and this time it's not a meteor.

    Instead, "Fortnite" maker Epic Games says it's exploring ways to evolve the gameplay of Battle Royale so the last few minutes of each match, "don’t boil down to 'just build lol'." That's a direct quote, mind you.

    As things are right now, players who reach the end of a given match in "Fortnite" are likely to encounter rockets, endless building, and shotguns. "The superiority of shotguns, rockets, and uncapped building are such a dominant play style in the final circle that most other strategies are being drowned out," the post from Epic Games says.

    So, what changes are coming? And when? That's not clear.

    "We are exploring changes to weapon balance and resource economy, like e.g. resource caps," the post says, under the "Recent & Upcoming Changes" section. Expect those changes "over the next few weeks." 

    Fortnite (jetpack)

    Epic is proposing some major shifts to the core of "Fortnite" — with over 125 million people playing the game any little change impacts a ton of people. One very prominent member of that massive audience is Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, who makes his living streaming "Fortnite" online.

    And Blevins isn't happy with the potential for resource caps.

    "You're just gonna have a potential situation where a bad player is just spraying [shooting] you, and you run out of materials, and then you die. That would make a good player rage," he said on a stream this week. "I took the time to farm 999 wood, by golly I wanna use it!"

    Given the massive popularity of Battle Royale games in general — from "Fortnite" to "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" and beyond — it makes sense that Epic wants to continue evolving its game. If "Fortnite" stays the same forever, it risks boring players and eventually losing them; if "Fortnite" changes too much, it risks alienating players and eventually losing them. 

    We'll see how it plays out in the coming weeks as Epic implements changes for "Fortnite."

    SEE ALSO: Fortnite fans think a huge missile is going to drastically change the game — here's what we know

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What the future of Apple looks like


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    trump yearbook

    • Sometimes talent is apparent at a young age. Bill Gates, worth $92.8 billion today, founded his first company at age 16.
    • But sometimes it's not so clear. Steve Jobs's grade point average in high school was an abysmal 2.65— mostly Bs and Cs. 
    • Read on to see how 11 of the most-accomplished people in the world spent their younger years. 

     

    Though we often like to think the signs of talent or intelligence are clear at a young age, that's not always the case.

    Many of the world's most successful people didn't necessarily seem that way from the get-go. Kim Kardashian's classmates said she was quiet, while Steve Jobs earned mostly Bs and Cs in high school.

    Sometimes the path to fame is obvious, though. Bill Gates was only 16 when he founded his first company

    Read on to learn what the biggest names in the world were like when they were mere underclassmen. 

    SEE ALSO: What 31 highly successful people were doing at age 25

    Beyoncé

    Beyoncéspent much of her childhood in the talent show circuit, being managed by her father and practicing in front of clients at her mother's hair salon. Her family went nearly bankrupt trying to launch Beyoncé's stardom. 

    "Every penny went into Beyoncé's career," Lyndall Locke, Beyoncé's childhood boyfriend, told The Daily Mail

    But in 1997, when Beyoncé was 16, the Houston girl finally made moves. Destiny’s Child, which she formed with childhood friends, had a track featured in the 1997 film Men in Black

    Now, Beyoncé doesn't consider Destiny's Child's first release to be anything remarkable. "The first record was successful but not hugely successful," Beyoncé told The Guardian in 2006



    Jeff Bezos

    Jeff Bezos, who is now worth $141.9 billion, was working the grill at McDonald's at age 16. 

    "My first week on the job, a five-gallon, wall-mounted ketchup dispenser got stuck open in the kitchen and dumped a prodigious quantity of ketchup into every hard-to-reach kitchen crevice. Since I was the new guy, they handed me the cleaning solution and said, 'Get going!'" Bezos told Cody Teets, author of "Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers That Began at McDonald's."

    Bezos told CNBC Make It that it's possible to learn responsibility and other crucial lessons in any job — and he did so as a teen at the Golden Arches.

    The lessons gained from working at a grill with others is a lot different than what's available in the classroom, he said. 

    "The most challenging thing was keeping everything going at the right pace during a rush. The manager at my McDonald's was excellent. He had a lot of teenagers working for him, and he kept us focused even while we had fun," he told Teets.



    Maya Angelou

    The poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou had a tumultuous youth. She was abandoned by her parents at a young age, and was sexually assaulted as a child. 

    By age 16, Angelou was living in San Francisco. She decided she wanted to become a streetcar conductor

    "I saw women on the street cars with their little changer belts," Angelou said in a 2013 interview with television host Oprah Winfrey. "They had caps with bibs on them and form-fitting jackets. I loved their uniforms. I said that is the job I want."

    There was initially resistance, as she was refused an application. 

    "I sat there (at the office) for two weeks, every day," Angelou said in the interview. "And then after two weeks, a man came out of his office and said 'come here.' And he asked me 'why do you want the job?' I said 'I like the uniforms.' And I said 'and I like people.' And so I got the job."

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    NES classic edition

    • Nintendo is rereleasing its NES Classic Edition console next week on June 29.
    • The miniature console costs just $60 and comes with 30 games.
    • The NES Classic Edition was originally released in late 2016 as a limited-edition device. As a result, it was nearly impossible to find.

    Prepare yourselves: Nintendo is about to rerelease the NES Classic Edition console, its wildly popular, miniature version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

    The console was intended as a limited-time offering — it went on sale in late 2016 and was discontinued in April 2017.

    Between the low price and the heavy draw of Nintendo nostalgia, the NES Classic Edition was a major hit. It was nearly impossible to find as a result.

    And now, on June 29, Nintendo is bringing back the console.

    Nintendo says that the NES Classic Edition and the Super NES Classic Edition "are expected to be available through the end of the year."

    It's great news for anyone who missed out on a chance to buy the NES Classic Edition during its brief window of availability. The only other way to buy one at this point is to go through third-party resellers like eBay, where prices are often triple or more the original $60 cost of the console.

    NES Classic Edition

    The new production run of the NES Classic Edition mirrors the original run.

    "NES Classic Edition features 30 classic NES games such as the original 'Super Mario Bros.,' 'The Legend of Zelda,' and 'Donkey Kong,'" Nintendo said in a release.

    In so many words, the same 30 classic NES games that shipped with the first run of the NES Classic Edition will ship on the new production run as well.

    Here's the full list of games on the NES Classic Edition:

    • "Balloon Fight"
    • "Bubble Bobble"
    • "Castlevania"
    • "Castlevania II: Simon's Quest"
    • "Donkey Kong"
    • "Donkey Kong Jr."
    • "Double Dragon II: The Revenge"
    • "Dr. Mario"
    • "Excitebike"
    • "Final Fantasy"
    • "Galaga"
    • "Ghosts 'n Goblins"
    • "Gradius"
    • "Ice Climber"
    • "Kid Icarus"
    • "Kirby's Adventure"
    • "Mario Bros."
    • "Mega Man 2"
    • "Metroid"
    • "Ninja Gaiden"
    • "Pac-Man"
    • "Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream"
    • "StarTropics"
    • "Super C"
    • "Super Mario Bros."
    • "Super Mario Bros. 2"
    • "Super Mario Bros. 3"
    • "Tecmo Bowl"
    • "The Legend of Zelda"
    • "Zelda II: The Adventure of Link"

    Check out a video of the NES Classic Edition in action:

    SEE ALSO: Nintendo's ridiculously popular $60 console sold over 2 million units in just five months

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    NOW WATCH: What having a dog does to your brain and body


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    Rob Lowe Estate

    • Rob Lowe and his wife Sheryl are selling their 10,000 square-foot estate, listed for $47 million with Sotheby's International Realty.
    • It's in Montecito, California, the area hit with mudslides earlier this year that killed at least 17 people. 
    • The home sits on 3.4 acres of land and has views of the Pacific Ocean and nearby Santa Ynez mountains. 

    "Parks and Recreation" actor Rob Lowe and his jewelry designer wife Sheryl are selling their 3.4-acre estate in Montecito, California, for $47 million, according to a new listing from Sotheby's International Realty.

    The couple bought the land, near Santa Barbara, in 2005 and designed the home from the ground up, recruiting an architect, interior designer, landscape architect, and even a feng shui master. It was inspired by the Virginia countryside where the famous actor grew up and was featured on the cover of Architectural Digest in November 2010. 

    The couple is selling the home because their children are grown and have moved out, they said in statement.

    Earlier this year, the Montecito area was hit with recurring mudslides that destroyed hundreds of homes and resulted in more than a dozen deaths, but Lowe's estate was unharmed, partly due to its elevation. The neighborhood is home to many celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jeff Bridges.

    Below, take a tour of the $47 million estate.

    SEE ALSO: A mountaintop mansion with an indoor basketball court and parking for 80 cars just went on the market in Los Angeles for a whopping $135 million

    DON'T MISS: The 35-year-old billionaire president of In-N-Out Burger is selling her California mansion for $19.8 million — here's a look inside

    Actor Rob Lowe and his wife Sheryl listed their Montecito mansion with Sotheby's International Realty for $47 million. They bought the land back in 2005.

    Source: Sotheby's International Realty



    They completed the home in 2009. It was the vision of architect Don Nulty, interior designer David Phoenix, landscape architect Mark Rios, and feng shui specialist David Cho.

    Source: Sotheby's International Realty



    The estate sits on 3.4 acres of land and totals 10,000 square feet of living space, offering ocean and mountain views. "I always wanted that house where everybody wants to go," Lowe told Architectural Digest.

    Sources: Sotheby's International RealtyArchitectural Digest



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Burning Man Costumes

    When it's nearly 100 degrees in the middle of the Nevada desert, clothing is limited, and sometimes even optional at Burning Man — "an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada."

    But for those who do choose to wear clothing, it's all about the costumes.

    And the ornate outfits have become a huge part of the festival.

    Bikinis, body paint, tutus, masks, headdresses, wigs, floral crowns and feathers  it's all there!

    Often all worn at once.

    SEE ALSO: I went to burning man and it was even crazier than I expected

    FOLLOW US: INSIDER Travel is on Facebook

    Everyone uses bikes to get around the Burning Man desert.

    But that doesn't stop people from breaking out their best costumes.



    Fancy hats are common.

    He would be hard to miss among the crowds.



    Like this creative dog-in-a-cage one.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Michael Cohen and Tom Arnold

    • Comedian Tom Arnold served up a veiled warning to President Donald Trump amid news that he and Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime personal attorney, were teaming up to take down the president.
    • During an interview on CNN, Arnold paused after being asked whether Cohen, who is under criminal investigation, was cooperating with law-enforcement officials.
    • Arnold was asked the question again, which he refused to answer after a long, awkward pause.


    Comedian Tom Arnold served up a veiled warning to President Donald Trump amid claims that he and Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime personal attorney, were teaming up to take down the president.

    "Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, I'm spending the weekend hanging out with Michael Cohen," Arnold told CNN anchor Poppy Harlow on Friday. "And there's a lot going on. You've disrespected [Cohen] and his family, and there's a lot going on."

    Harlow pressed Arnold for specifics and asked whether Cohen, who is under criminal investigation on suspicion of campaign-finance violations, bank fraud, wire fraud, and illegal lobbying, was cooperating with law-enforcement officials.

    Arnold scratched his chin and appeared to be lost in thought before replying.

    "This is too important to me to 'eff' around — and you know the word I'm talking about," Arnold said. "This is serious to me, Poppy, and I'm not 'effing' around."

    Harlow pushed for specifics: "Do you not want to answer the question," she asked.

    "No." Arnold said.

    The comedian will star in the Vice show, "The Hunt for the Trump Tapes," which features Arnold searching for unflattering recordings of Trump. During the 2016 presidential election, several recordings of Trump were brought to light, including the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape that featured him boasting about groping women.

    Arnold previously told NBC News that he and Cohen spoke in Manhattan to discuss "taking Trump down together." Cohen, who is dubbed Trump's "bulldog," was being betrayed by Trump, according to Arnold.

    "This dude has all the tapes — this dude has everything," Arnold said, referring to Cohen. "I say to Michael: 'Guess what? We're taking Trump down together,' and he's so tired he's like, 'OK,' and his wife is like, 'OK, f--- Trump.'"

    "We've been on the other side of the table, and now we're on the same side," Arnold added. "It's on! I hope he sees the picture of me and Michael Cohen and it haunts his dreams."

    Arnold tweeted an image of himself with Cohen, which Cohen retweeted:

    Arnold later clarified his statement on Twitter and appeared to walk back some of his claims.

    "Michael Cohen didn't say Me & him were teaming up to take down Donald Trump!" Arnold tweeted. "Michael has enough Trump on his plate. I'm the crazy person who said Me & Michael Cohen were teaming up to take down Trump of course. I meant it. Michael doesn't get paid by Vice."

    Watch the CNN clip here:

    SEE ALSO: 'This dude has all the tapes': Tom Arnold says he and Michael Cohen are teaming up to take down Trump

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    "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" may have thrown some new dinosaurs into the mix, including genetic hybrids that could never have existed in reality. But the film doesn't neglect the classics, like T. rex and giant sauropods. 

    To get into the spirit of the film, we here at Business Insider wanted to know what it would feel like, size-wise, to stand next to one of these dinos. So we created this graphic, which includes some of the dinosaurs that appear in the film.

    *Note that all of the numbers in this graphic, which are taken from a series of dinosaur sizes provided on this Wikipedia page, are measurements based on scientific excavation and analysis and don't necessarily resemble some of the scientifically inaccurate dinosaurs that appear in the film, such as the Velociraptor.

    Jurassic World Dinosaur Size 2

     

    SEE ALSO: Each year the government asks 10 simple questions to test the public's knowledge of science. Can you correctly answer them all?

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    The Good Place season 2

    Sometimes you're just not in the mood to watch something new. And that's okay, because there are plenty of good reasons to watch certain TV shows multiple times.

    It's incredibly rewarding to watch complex dramas or meta comedies that rapidly fire off jokes because there's a lot you might've missed the first (or second, or third) time around. And a few shows are worth revisiting simply for nostalgia's sake. 

    We put together a list of the most rewatchable shows that are great to revisit for either (or both) of those reasons, from "Arrested Development" to "Mad Men."

    SEE ALSO: The 29 most rewatchable movies of all time

    "Game of Thrones"

    To really understand what's happening on "Game of Thrones," it's necessary to rewatch. You'll re-learn a lot of things you may have forgotten, like why Arya and Sansa's relationship is strained, and you'll also learn completely new things, like how Daenerys is connected to all this in the first place. There's a lot of family trees and names and places in this show, so for the most effective "Game of Thrones" rewatch, turn on the captions. 

    Available to stream on HBO Go or HBO Now.



    "The Good Place"

    "The Good Place" is the most ambitious show on TV, and every episode is more unexpected than the last. It's gusty, cute, and full of so-bad-that-they're-good puns that you could've missed the first time you watched the show. When you rewatch the show, you'll see all the foreshadowing pointing to the shows many narrative and character twists that you probably overlooked the first time you saw it. 

    Available to stream on Netflix.


    "30 Rock"

    Similar to "Arrested Development" in its visual gags and meta jokes, "30 Rock" is still as fresh as it was when it premiered over ten years ago on NBC. Even its pop culture references kind of work better than they did back then. And yes, we are definitely thinking of the episode where Jerry Seinfeld guest-starred just to plug "Bee Movie" in 2007. 

    Available to stream on Hulu.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Steam summer sale

    • The Steam summer sale is now live, starting today (June 21) and ending July 5.
    • New games will go on sale daily.
    • Check back here for a roundup of the best deals. 

    Cue the memes of empty wallets money being thrown at screens: the Steam summer sale is here.

    Titled the "Intergalactic Summer Sale," the sale will last from June 21 to July 5. Visit the Steam homepage here to see all of the sale items. The list here will be continually updated with sales that stand out.

    Here are some of the best deals of the day:

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Director X Paras Griffin Getty final

    • The director of "Superfly," Director X, is best known for his landmark music videos for artists like Drake ("Hotline Bling") and Rihanna ("Work").
    • But he's now taking the skills he learned making music videos and commercials to build a career in Hollywood.
    • He compares working for Madison Avenue or Hollywood to being a chef or mercenary who has been hired to follow through on an order.


    Director X can easily recall the biggest cinematic moment of his youth.

    “‘Empire Strikes Back’ is the movie that I remember affecting me immediately,” X, whose real name is Julien Christian Lutz, told Business Insider over the phone. “The Legos I used I was trying to recreate the spaceships from the movie. That’s the standout.”

    Born and raised near Toronto, Director X said he was always a visual person. Around the time he was being amazed by the “Star Wars” saga, he was also running around with his friends in the neighborhood shooting little movies with a video camera. And when he wasn’t doing that, he was drawing in a notepad with dreams of one day getting into the comic-book business.

    It’s that thirst for the visual arts that led him to cement himself as the premiere hip-hop music video director working today.

    Hotline Bling Cash MoneyIf you’re not familiar with his name you most certainly have seen his work: “Hotline Bling” (Drake), “Work” (Rihanna), “Excuse Me Miss” (Jay-Z), “Hot in Herre” (“Nelly”) aren’t just standouts because of the artists behind the music, but the look of the videos. They are crafted by X with polished production design and his trademark opening and closing of the videos with the horizontal or vertical frames of the shot, expanding to reveal the shot and closing in until the screen goes black.

    Now X is getting his chance at a studio movie, as he’s director of the reboot of the Blaxploitation classic, “Superfly” (in theaters).

    The plot points are similar to the original movie (1972 “Super Fly”) — a cocaine dealer named Priest (played by Ron O’Neal in the original movie and Trevor Jackson in the reboot) is out for one last major score — but the new version tweaked it to give it more of a 2018 feel. Instead of being set in New York City, it’s in Atlanta (the generous tax credit for shooting movies in the state of Georgia may have also motivated this change), and instead of the cops providing Priest with the massive amounts of cocaine to sell, like in the original, a Mexican cartel is the distributor.

    These changes and the injection of hip-hop in the movie (the soundtrack was produced by artist Future) make it an experience at the multiplex that is extremely entertaining.

    As X put it, “If you don’t know the song the cop is singing when he pulls Freddy over, you shouldn’t be seeing the film.” He was referring to when one of the members of Priest’s crew is pulled over and, while the police search his car, the officer sings Chamillionaire’s anthem, “Ridin’.” 

    Superfly Sony final

    But even with the movie’s playfulness, X sprinkles in moments of seriousness. One gang leader dies at the end of a car chase by crashing into a Confederate statue, which is a nod to the string of monuments celebrating Confederate figures being torn down last summer around the country. And at the end of the movie, Priest has a fight with a cop, pummeling him with his martial-arts moves. It’s a moment that isn’t just borrowed from the original movie, but a recognition of Black Lives Matter.

    “No one is under the illusion that what’s been happening lately is a new occurrence,” X said of police violence. “The original ‘Superfly’ was a moment of revenge, even if it’s a fantasy, you got to feel it. So this movie I feel is the same way. It’s a fun ride but really it’s the moment of fantasy to see somebody get their f---ing deserved a-- whipping.”

    For X, the release of “Superfly” is a landmark moment in his career, as he ascends to a new level in filmmaking.

    But he’s seen firsthand that it all can change drastically. One of his biggest mentors is legendary music video director Hype Williams. Like X today, he was behind the most ambitious videos by the biggest artists in the late 1990s (The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money Mo Problems,” Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” TLC’s “No Scrubs”) and early 2000s (Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’,” Kanye West’s “Stronger”).

    At one point, it was Williams (along with fellow music video director Alan Ferguson) who gave X the pep talk he needed to stay in the business after a rough day of shooting on his first music video, in which he said “he got walked on” by everyone on the set.

    “Hype’s main thing was that voice that you hear that you suck is the enemy and you can’t listen to it,” X recalled. “It was the inspiration that I needed to keep on going.”

    Belly Artisan EntertainmentA few years after that incident, Williams made the movie “Belly,” which X was a visual consultant on. Starring Nas and DMX, its highly stylized story of the drug game became a cult classic and a beloved work for many in the hip-hop community. But Williams has never since gotten another feature film made. X absorbed what Williams went through. He also built an understanding of how to work collaboratively with corporate executives over the years through countless music videos and commercial shoots, and seems destined to handle working for Hollywood better than Williams has.

    Comparing himself in some moments to a chef and in others to a mercenary, either way X is making the point that he sees his job as completing a project using the blueprint formed already — whether by a marketing executive, screenwriter, or producer.

    “Joel Silver has been trying to make ‘Superfly’ for 20 years, so who the f--- am I to take it out of his hands and act like it’s mine,” X said. “Studio pictures definitely have a lot of things flying around and the idea that the director is the one sole creative decision-making source is not real. It took me a long time to get that balance versus my vision.”

    X pointed out that a sequence at the end of “Superfly,” where a flashback scene is used to drive home the connection Priest has with his mentor Scatter (Michael Kenneth Williams), exists because of note from the studio. Going forward, X sees his experience on Madison Avenue benefitting him greatly in Hollywood.

    Going back to that chef analogy —

    “This is the job, you are getting hired to prepare a meal, in a sense,” he said. “As a director you are in the kitchen cooking it up and if they ask for a steak you better bring them a steak. I approached ‘Superfly’ to fulfill the order that had been made.”

    SEE ALSO: Ray Liotta on working with Jennifer Lopez, why he's been in only on Scorsese movie, and not believing the Woody Allen sexual-misconduct allegations

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    Blue Man Group began performing in Manhattan's Astor Place Theatre in 1991. The original three, Chris Wink, Phil Stanton, and Matt Goldman, put on a variety show featuring music on PVC instruments, art, and food stunts. Twenty-eight years later, the Blue Men are still munching Cap'n Crunch downtown. Following is a transcript of the video.

    Randall Jaynes: What is a Blue Man? And the closest answer you can get is it is the other. It is the outsider. It's part, you know, what is it? Childhood. Part imagination. Part fear. Part animal. Blue Man Group is an exploration. It's an investigation into something. You're seeking out that which is disconnected, and trying to reconnect it in a way that is playful and entertaining, and also unexpected, and can be deep and mysterious actually.

    Pete Simpson: Believe it or not, it did not start with a Blue Man that didn't speak. It was with a bunch of people. It was with a central three. Chris Wink, Matt Goldman, and Phil Stanton, and their friends.

    Steven Wendt: There's a lot of stories about why the Blue Men are blue. One of the creators, I think Chris Wink was visited, like you know, had a vision of a blue man when he was a kid.

    Jaynes: It feels still very tied to its sort of avant garde, punk rock, guerrilla theater, humble beginnings. That is very much an aesthetic, community-wide, performance-wide that we hold near and dear. So it doesn't feel in that way it's changed that much. We are auditioning all the time. Nonstop, 24 seven. It averages about one out of every 1,200 people. That's the numbers.

    Simpson: Oh, I had to go through a bunch of those auditions. It felt like, like hazing And then you start doing more intensive drumming where you bring in parts of the show, where you're learning show music which involves acting too. So it was about three weeks for me, and then it got certainly more systematized and structured by the time you--

    Wendt: It's crazy to hear that.

    Bhurin Sead: It's incredible how much the bald cap, and the makeup, and the costume actually transforms you, and changes you when you see yourself in the mirror. It's like, whoa, yeah, I am a Blue Man.

    The physical transformation of getting to be a Blue Man takes about half an hour. And that involves laying down a bald cap, having our wardrobe assist us putting it on, putting the grease paint on, putting the costume on. And that's all pretty straightforward, but I feel like the real transformation, and the real getting ready is developing that relationship between the three guys, with the band, with the crew, with everybody working the show that night. And to sort of create a vibe, create an energy and electricity that can transform itself onto the stage, into the show.

    Jaynes: There is a natural curiosity and kind of a brightness of spirit that I think one has to either inherently have, or tap into. Important distinction, I don't think people have to walk through the door with this like, you know, I'm a Blue Man, kind of crazy-eyed zing, but you do have to tap into something that is akin to what we all had when we were kids.

    There's tons of music, on all sorts of weird instruments. They're not standard. You can't just be a piano player and be like, oh you got it! Or a drummer. We had people who come in and were great drummers who have a hard time with certain elements.

    Ben Flint: The PVC instrument is the iconic Blue Man instrument. The show in New York is the original set. It's been around for over 25 years.

    Andrew Schneider: One of the things that excites me about Blue Man instruments is this whole three as one concept of it takes three of them to play this instrument, and one of my favorite examples is the PVC instrument that is used in all of the shows. It's similar to a piano in its octave set, but you need all three Blue Men to be playing it at one time and that is a recurring theme in a lot of the instruments in the show.

    The drum bone is another example. It basically has five notes total, but it takes three of them to play it. I love that.

    Sead: In the show, having those moments when you're face to face with an audience member, and you're not speaking and they're not speaking, there is a spark that happens that I feel that happens that you don't really need to say anything. And that's really powerful, and I feel it every night when that happens. It resonates deeply inside me and it's great.

    Simpson: The greatest urgency wouldn't be a physical harm to themselves, it would be the possibility of a broken connection. That'd be the worst thing in the Blue Man's book.

     

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    jurassic world fallen kingdom

    • "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" earned a $150 million opening weekend, domestically.
    • That's the second-best ever opening for a Universal release.

    Three years after "Jurassic World" gave Universal a surprising record-breaking opening weekend, the follow-up, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," took in an impressive $150 million at the domestic box office over the weekend, according to boxofficepro.com.

    No one in Hollywood expected the fifth chapter in the "Jurassic World" franchise to perform the way 2015's "Jurassic World" did, but the weekend performance did exceed industry projections that the movie would earn between $130 million to $140 million.

    The $150 million tally is the second best opening ever for a Universal release, trailing only "Jurassic World" ($208.8 million).

    This adds to the movie's already very strong performance overseas.

    Having taken in over $560 million abroad since it opened in many regions two weeks ago — including China where it had an over $100 million weekend — "Fallen Kingdom" took the unconventional route from most blockbusters by opening internationally before its domestic run.

    The move certainly seems to have paid off — the movie's worldwide gross is now over $700 million.

    And you can already mark your calendars for the next "Jurassic" movie. Universal has announced "Jurassic World 3" will open June 11, 2021.

    "Fallen Kingdom" is just the latest big opening for a big summer movie release, something that the industry lacked last year. And because the major movies are performing as they are supposed to, the 2018 box office is looking strong.

    Box office profits are up 6% from this time last year, according to CNN.

    This is the combination of summer blockbusters performing as expected (so far) — "Avengers: Infinity War," "Deadpool 2," "Incredibles 2" — and big performers from earlier this year — "Black Panther," "Ready Player One," plus the surprise of the year "A Quiet Place."

    SEE ALSO: Andre Agassi's troubled relationship with his coach led to this powerful new sports documentary you shouldn't miss

    DON'T MISS: 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' takes itself way too seriously, and that dampens the fun

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Taylor Review

    • Taylor Guitars has been in business since the early 1970s.
    • It has always defined itself by a culture of innovation in a world where acoustic guitars are based on very old designs.
    • It recently pushed the envelope with a new bracing system that's a big departure from what guitar makes have been doing for a century.

    Electronic music is all the rage these days, but the most high-tech of America's Big Three guitar makers is proving that the acoustic guitar can keep up.

    That's no small feat: the basic idea of a soundbox joined to a fretboard with plucked strings providing musical notes has been around since the 1500s. In the US, the premium acoustic-guitar market is ruled by three companies, each with its own approach to the instrument.

    Pennsylvania-based C.F. Martin & Co. has been in business since the late 1800s. Nashville's Gibson, Martin's chief 20th-century rival, got started in 1902. And California's Taylor Guitars is the new kid on the block, founded in 1974.

    Martin has long been beloved for the sheer exquisiteness of its acoustics and created the most popular acoustic shape, the dreadnought. Gibson's guitars have often been flashier and are often favored by rock, blues, and country players for their earthy, grittier tone and eye-catching looks (Keith Richards was a fan of the Hummingbird, and Pete Townshend likes the J-200 jumbo).

    Taylor — named for co-founder Bob Taylor — has a reputation for a sparkling high-end and unrelenting innovation in the context of a 500-year-old instrument. I really like Gibsons and can't argue with Martins, but many times when I strum a Taylor, especially upscale, made-in-US versions, I'm blown away by the power of their guitars. Taylors are also popular with guitarists who often plug in and play amplified: the company's proprietary "Expression" system is stupendous.

    The creation of "V-Class" bracing

    Taylor Review

    This year, Taylor shook up the acoustic world with the introduction of a new internal-bracing system for its pricier acoustics. Called "V-Class" bracing, it was devised by Andy Powers, a master guitar maker who joined Taylor in 2011 and has been talked about as an heir to Bob Taylor's leadership.

    I both sampled a V-Class guitar for a month and discussed the innovation with Taylor.

    First, the axe: Taylor loaned me a 914ce guitar to review, a $5,000 instrument that reminded me how much better a crummy player such as myself can sound with a truly great guitar in hand. Clearly, this isn't a purchase that any player will take lightly — a guitar of this caliber is a lifetime investment.

    The 914ce is a cutaway grand auditorium shape, which means that the instrument is a bit smaller than a traditional dreadnought; I increasingly favor this design, which is easier to play standing with a strap than a dread, as well as when sitting.

    Taylor is using the V-Class bracing in a range of guitars, with the least expensive coming in a $3,000 and the most costly weighing in at $9,000. All are made in El Cajon, California, near San Diego.

    The 914ce I checked out has a Sitka Spruce top, Indian rosewood back and sides, and a West African ebony fretboard. The details are glorious, with a graphite nut, Micarta saddle, very solid Gotoh 510 tuners in a sort of mellow brass, and the onboard Expression amp system, complete with a jack in the strap button. You can get lost studying the inlays on the headstock and the fretboard.

    What does the design sound like?

    Taylor Review

    Unplugged, playing the 914ce is like holding a piano in your lap: the dynamic range is miraculous. Plugged in (I ran the guitar through a Fender Pro Junior IV because I don't have an acoustic amp), the 914ce is bold and balanced.

    There's a reason why musicians who play in churches and a lot of electric-centric folks adore Taylors: the amplified characteristics are stunning, replicating the natural sound of an acoustic even at higher volumes.

    But most players are going to become addicted to the unplugged virtues of the 914ce. I certainly did, and I threw everything I had in standard tuning at it, with forays into my preferred alternative tunings, DADGAD and open-G.

    At this level, acoustics don't have flaws — they simply have varying degrees of magnificent virtues. But the V-Class bracing lives up to its billing and then some. By nature of their legacy design, acoustic guitars are never really perfect, and almost everybody fights a bit to achieve what they want, no matter how skilled they are.

    How V-Class works

    Taylor Review

    In coming up with V-Class, Powers sought to solve an age-old problem with the so-called "flat top" design — what most players recognize as the steel-stringed acoustic guitar. (Watch him talk about it here.)

    With flat tops, there are some limits on what a traditional guitar will allow," Powers said when we chatted on the phone. "There's a balance point between volume and sustain."

    Volume is self-explanatory and is a function of how flexible a guitar's top is: More flexible equals more air moved equals louder, and if you have a bigger top, you have more volume. You can also make it louder with a super-flexible top, such as the drumhead on a banjo.

    Sustain, however, is governed by stiffness. That's why notes last longer when played on a stiffer instrument. To return to the banjo example, those sharp, loud notes decay very rapidly.

    Powers was certainly familiar with the industry standard X-bracing, given his pre-Taylor career as a custom builder and musician. But the constraints of the old ways frustrated him.

    An unlikely insight came from his second home (outside the guitar workshop) — the Pacific Ocean, where he regularly surfs. Wave patterns in water suggested a new idea to him, and V-Class entered the experimental stage.

    The results were quickly successful, but also intimidating.

    "Oh my gosh, I've opened a Pandora's Box!" Powers recalled. "This guitar is actually gonna do what I want it do do. I was excited and scared at the same time."

    A neverending learning experience for the guitar maker

    Taylor Review

    Several years of development followed, during which Powers would concoct a design, test it, figure out if something was a fluke, and then get control of a feature so that it could be replicated.

    Powers also had to contend with his own "Eureka!" feelings, not to mention feedback from his luthier compatriots.

    "I thought, 'I'm an idiot for not seeing this sooner,'" he said. But the world of guitar makers is not large, and when Powers revealed his concept, they scratched their heads.

    They didn't treat him quite as if he'd rolled out a square wheel. "We don't know all that much about the instrument," he said. "The more we learn, the less we know."

    My time with the 914ce reminded me that if you're a casual guitarist and deeply amateur musician, you can certainly enjoy a fine instrument. But it also highlighted how much a good guitar can help a great player better express him or herself. In my experience, even some famous guitars, such as the Gibson J-45, don't much like to be played all over the neck.

    Not so with the new Taylors — where the V-Class bracing, combined with the company's neck-to-body joining for which its already renowned, means that you can hit every single available note and savor the sustain and volume that Powers focused on while remaining deliciously in tune. And even if you don't like single-note playing and prefer strumming chords, the difference between a three- and four-finger G chord on the 914ce is a revelation.

    My acid test for a guitar, when you get right down to it, is can I write a song on the instrument. The reason why is that there's no correlation between cost and results: I've written numerous songs on a $5 Yamaha that I bought at a yard sale.

    The 914ce yielded a slightly fast-playing number with a little riff at the beginning, a benefit of the neck, which is slick and swift.

    The pros were stunned

    Taylor Review

    According to Powers, more talented musicians see larger vistas when they first sample a V-Class guitar.

    "Some of them get really quiet," he said. "Quite a few start swearing. And few chords in, it's almost as if the guitar has turned into their voice."

    The V-Class innovation comes along at a good time or the acoustic guitar. Musicians such as Taylor Swift— a Taylor player, naturally — have spurred interest among new, female customers to pick up a humble thing made of wood and string to see if they can make it sound cool.

    With Gibson's recent bankruptcy declaration and the general shift in pop away from anything that resembles guitar heroes, there's been no shortage of eulogies for an instrument that's defined music since the 1950s. But Powers isn't buying it.

    "I've heard all kinds of gloom and doom about the future of the guitar," he said. "But I don't think it's going to disappear. We have an inherent need to tell stories and make music. We might just not have the exactly same instrument that we had decades ago."

    SEE ALSO: Fender has unveiled a lineup of acoustic guitars that electric players will love

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