If you’re a Game of Thrones fan and a Dish or Sling TV customer, you’re going to need to subscribe to HBO Now if you want to watch the April 14 premiere of the hit TV show’s final season.
Since Nov. 2018, Dish and HBO have been involved in a dispute which has left the premium TV network blacked out for Dish subscribers. Sling TV, Dish’s streaming platform, has been affected by the dispute as well.
As a result, subscribers to either Dish service have been unable to subscribe to an HBO package through their TV provider.
With the long-awaited final season of Game of Thrones premiering on Sunday night, the satellite television company is directing its subscribers to sign up for HBO Now.
Dish has even gone so far as to set up a website explaining to its customers how to subscribe to HBO Now, which it calls “similar to Netflix.” HBO Now is HBO’s standalone streaming television service, so it doesn’t require a cable or satellite subscription. Dish doesn’t receive any compensation for sending its customers to the HBO Now service, though the company obviously benefits by keeping its customers happy.
As of April 2019, the Dish-HBO standoff is in its fifth month, with neither company close to a deal as far as anyone on the outside knows. The channel blackout on Dish is HBO’s first in its history.
Negotiations stalled between the TV service provider and the premium TV network over a “carriage fee” dispute. Dish claimed in a 2018 statement that HBO’s parent company, AT&T, wanted “a guaranteed number of subscribers, regardless of how many consumers actually want to subscribe to HBO.”
As of now, it looks like the dispute between HBO and Dish will continue long after winter comes on the final season of Game of Thrones.
Anne del Castillo Named New York City’s Commissioner of Media and Entertainment
The film and TV industries in New York City have a new boss: Anne del Castillo, who has been tapped by Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
Del Castillo had served as general counsel and chief operating officer of MOME since 2015. She succeeds Julie Menin, who left the post in February after nearly three years to become Census Director for the city. Del Castillo had been acting commissioner since Menin’s departure.
“Media and entertainment are central to New York City’s economy and identity. Anne has the vision and experience to continue to strengthen the industry during this time of unprecedented growth and change,” said de Blasio. “Her commitment to diversifying our entertainment sector and piloting innovative programs will ensure New York continues to be the media capital of the world.”
At MOME, del Castillo will oversee all activity in the city related to location shooting, tax incentives and the city’s growing focus on diversity and inclusion programs designed to open doors for film and TV employment opportunities to a broad range of New Yorkers. MOME’s charter also extends to the music, Broadway, advertising and other media sectors active in the city.
In all, media and entertainment account for some 305,000 local jobs and economic output of $104 billion, per the Mayor’s Office. Given the rapid growth of lensing in New York during the past 20 years, the MOME commissioner has influence in Hollywood as well as in the five boroughs.
“This is an exciting time for our agency to engage a broad cross-section of industry, community and other key stakeholders to advance an inclusive, sustainable and thriving creative economy that benefits all New Yorkers and reflects the diversity that defines our city,” del Castillo said.
Under Menin, expanded from supporting the film, TV, and theater industries to supporting the music, publishing, advertising and digital media industries as well. MOME also encompasses NYC Media, the City’s official broadcast network and the Office of Nightlife.
That office — and the institution of former bar owner Ariel Palitz as the city’s first “nightlife mayor” — was one of Menin’s signature initiatives as commissioner, along with an outreach program for the city’s music industry, which included a hearing involving some 75 organizations and companies that do business in the city. Menin was also involved in the city’s hosting of the 2018 Grammy Awards, the first time in 15 years the ceremony was held in New York.
Del Castillo joined MOME in 2014 as director of legal affairs. She was closely involved in the creation of the Made in NY Women’s Film, TV and Theatre Fund, which is has begun to distribute $5 million in grants to women filmmakers and playwrights.
Before that, del Castillo was VP of development and business affairs at American Documentary, producer of PBS’ “POV,” and she worked as associate director of the Austin Film Society, where she administered the Texas Filmmakers Production fund.
“We applaud Mayor de Blasio for his selection, we welcome Commissioner del Castillo, and look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the great staff of the Mayor’s Film Office,” said Dee Dee Myers, executive VP of worldwide corporate communications and public affairs for Warner Bros.
Del Castillo’s work in the arena of diversity and inclusion makes her well-suited to her new role.
“We have had the privilege of working with Anne on a number of projects, including the innovative Made in New York Writers Room fellowship, which is advancing the careers of talented television writers whose backgrounds and voices reflect the diversity of the city,” said Lowell Peterson, exec director of Writers Guild of America East. “Anne and MOME are great partners to an important industry and we look forward to continuing to work together.”
World War Z Launch Suffers with Connectivity Issues, Server Problems and Bugs
World War Z launched yesterday, but its first day on the market didn’t exactly go smoothly. Players have reported numerous issues such as multiple failed attempts to connect to the game’s servers and problems during gameplay that halts progression.
The biggest issue at launch appears to be a lack of servers for players to join, meaning that the game is only playable in an offline state. For an online-focused co-operative title, this is quite clearly a major issue. To developer Saber Interactive’s credit though, it looks like the team is trying its best to get more servers up and running to alleviate the problem.
What may take a little more time though are the bugs and glitches that have been brought to light. Personally speaking, we haven’t been able to finish the game’s first chapter yet because the game freezes and doesn’t conclude the level correctly. Other players have reported jittery movement, a “Loading Game Logic” message that crashes the game, and being unable to play with friends in different regions.
‘Hellboy’: Hell, No
Hellboy, despite its colon-free title, is actually the fifth movie starring the good-guy demon hero (if you count the two animated films that featured the same cast as the live-action films made by monsteur auteur Guillermo del Toro in 2004 and 2008) and it’s even more exhausting than this sentence.
Pity. The blue-collar, crimson-skinned agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense — basically a more inclusive version of the Men in Black, with a more casual dress code — is a marvelous character on the page. And because filmmaker del Toro has at least as much affection for 1930s serials and monster movies and European folklore as cartoonist Mike Mignola (Hellboy’s creator) does, his two adaptations of Mignola’s comics were revered. But like most del Toro films they were only moderate box office successes, and the profligate profitability of Marvel movies in the subsequent decade (Hellboy is a creator-owned specimen of IP, outside the Disney megalith) demanded that someone try to tap that rich vein again.
Englishman Neil Marshall would appear to be a sterling candidate: He made a trio of well-regarded low-budget genre flicks and directed two episodes of Game of Thrones, including “Blackwater,” which featured the climactic battle of the series’ second season. The chaotic, repetitive movie he’s given us here calls into question not just his competence but his taste. He’s de-emphasized the warmth del Toro brought to the material and amped up the limb-rending and especially the eye-piercing a hundredfold. This is clearly a calculated decision; with the majority of comic book films sticking to PG-13 levels of genocide, all this gristle and viscera has at least a chance of making Hellboy ’19 feel distinct. But the gore is deployed too indiscriminately to provoke anything other than bored revulsion, offering neither a sense of threat nor comic punctuation, the way it does in, say, the Evil Dead movies.
The flying entrails aren’t the only element that feels hacky. Marshall scores most of his big set pieces with soundalike selections of ersatz blooze-rock. (The last one uses Mötley Crüe’s 1989 jock jam “Kickstart My Heart,” saving the best for last, I guess.) He has apparently directed star David Harbour — replacing Ron Perlman as the demon with the red and extremely rocky right hand — to elongate his line readings like Point Break-era Keanu Reeves whenever he wishes to convey irritation, which is most of the time. Maybe the actor is just trying to be heard under all that monster makeup. Harbour, a pleasingly idiosyncratic performer on Stranger Things and in the Bond flick Quantum of Solace, does not possess Perlman’s long-honed talent for conveying complex emotion through latex.
The rest of the cast is fine. Its biggest get is Ian McShane, doomed for all eternity to lend his profane tenor to stuff that is not as good as Deadwood, who plays Trevor Bruttenholm, the cranky paranormal scholar who found baby demon Hellboy in 1944 and raised him as his own son. (There’s a line of dialogue about some kind of spell that makes both characters age slowly.) Milla Jovovich plays a witch who was dismembered and buried in several different coffins by King Arthur, only to rise again in the 21st century to bring about Armageddon by… copulating with Hellboy, I think. If Jovovich was ever on set as the same time as the other actors, it doesn’t feel that way. Daniel Dae Kim replaced Ed Skrein as special forces soldier and undead were-jaguar Ben Daimo— a character of Japanese-American extraction — during pre-production, after complaints of whitewashing. Texan Sasha Lane plays BPRD agent Alice Monaghan, whom Hellboy rescued from abduction by malevolent fairies when she was just a baby. There’s an attempt to give the later two an esprit de corps with Hellboy, but the movie never pauses long enough between monster battles for any of its character work to stick. We have to hurry up and get to the destruction of London, and then the undestruction of London. It all feels weightless and reversible, which makes it feel endless.
Some of Mignola’s most memorable Hellboy stories have been short ones — like “The Corpse,” which presented the rescue of little Alice depicted in flashback in the new movie — so it’s fitting, I guess, that this movie features exactly two terrific sequences that could be carved out and presented as shorts. In one of them, Hellboy consults Baba Yaga, a rotting, crab-like witch who lives in a house mounted on giant Ostrich legs. Her domicile is the most arresting image in the movie, but Baba Yaga’s tactile appearance and otherworldly way of scurrying about the frame lingered with me, too. And Hellboy’s re-introduction, wherein he must recover a fugitive BPRD agent from a Tijuana sports venue where his target is participating in a lucha libre match, plays like a cold open from a Bond flick — a witty, self-aware sequence that sets a tempo the film’s remaining 105 minutes can’t meet.
Much of the appeal of Mignola’s comics lies is in his angular, heavy-ink style, which in addition to conjuring mood and atmosphere, makes the gnarly stuff less gross to look at. (Other artists who’ve drawn the character, like Duncan Fegredo, have followed Mignola’s example.) Rendering all this stuff in photorealistic CGI does not necessarily add value. If we have to have more Hellboy movies and del Toro isn’t going to make them, maybe they should be shot in black and white.
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