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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Warner Music Group Pulls Music from Last.fm

Rockin Warner Music Group has confirmed that its music is no longer available through Last.fm's on-demand music streaming service.

Last.fm users can still stream music from Warner's artists via their artist-based radio stations (see below), because those songs are licensed under a different deal.

However, Last.fm users will no longer be able to stream songs on-demand from albums Neil Young, Nickelback, Death Cab for Cutie, or any other artist recorded for the label, as Silicon Alley Insider discovered.

"I can confirm that our music is no longer available on the service," a Warner Music Group spokeswoman told Listening Post via e-mail.

In our efforts to include music on the Listening Post blog, we've ended up turning to imeem more than Last.fm, because Last.fm doesn't allow embedding, and imeem seems to have more on-demand music. And that was before the Warner deal fell through. Now, imeem, MySpace, Napster and YouTube could become more attractive to users, because each of them still has the label's music free and on-demand.

Most likely, Warner either wants more money or an equity stake in Last.fm similar to the one it has in MySpace's music division. CBS purchased Last.fm for $280 million; it's possible that Warner, as the first label to make a deal for on-demand music with Last.fm, expected to see its ship come in, so to speak.

Last.fm had earlier pointed to the availability of free, on-demand music on its site as having had a promotional effect on sales, increasing them 58 percent. Apparently, Warner doesn't care much about that, and would prefer to get paid more for on-demand playback than Last.fm (a division of CBS) was willing to pay.






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Photoshop Gone Wrong Vol. 1: 'My Best Friend's Girl'

You don't need many more reasons to pass on the September romantic comedy My Best Friend's Girl than the stars featured on the poster. Kate Hudson, Dane Cook, and Jason Biggs have made a combined zero good movies since 2001. Seeing them in a lineup like this might be a deterrent, but take a closer look at the poster (you can get the whole thing over at Cinema Blend, but trust me, there's not much else to see). How much Photoshopping do you need?
Good Christ, look at Dane Cook! I don't know how to break this to you, Dane Cook fans, but he doesn't have a silky smooth complexion. In this poster, however, he appears to have been carved out of a very soft but sturdy grayish cheese. Amazing how his face stops expressing itself at the cheeks, with no lines or furrows north of the tip of his nose.
And because they've had to radically alter the human color palette for Dane, Kate Hudson looks...I dunno, is anti-radiant a word?
And poor Jason Biggs. Doesn't he have enough problems in his life - wouldn't anyone? - without some graphic artist putting David Ferrie's eyebrows on him? You remember, Joe Pesci from JFK? One thing's for sure, they're not Jason's real brows. I mean, you'd really have to piss somebody off to get those eyebrows pasted on your face.
We see it on every poster, though. Photoshopping is as much a part of the marketing these days as a catchy tagline. And I have no doubt someone was paid considerable thousands of dollars to give Kate, Dane, and Jason the Six Feet Under treatment. Forget for a moment that this poster is just lousy anyway - these people look like mannequins! There are no winners here, and the re-animators responsible have actually made it worse than it would look if they'd just left everyone alone. That goes double for Kate Hudson because...well, just compare the untouched red carpet photo with the creepy new Kate Hudson. How is the pallid one on the right more attractive? You could just put that event photo on the poster by itself and sell more tickets to My Best Friend's Girl. Not that I'm advocating in any way selling more tickets to this movie.

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Leonardo DiCaprio Plays Some Atari


Paramount Pictures has snapped up a pitch titled Atari from writers Brian Hecker and Craig Sherman, with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star. The actor will also produce via his Appian Way banner, reports Variety.

The film is a biopic about entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell, the creator of Atari and one of the founding fathers of the videogame industry.

Although Bushnell’s life rights had long been pursued by various suitors, Hecker and Craig Sherman convinced the gaming pioneer that they could do his unique story justice. Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded Atari Inc. in 1972 and were instrumental in bringing arcade games, home videogame consoles and home computers to the masses. Among the company’s contributions was PONG and the Atari 2600.

DiCaprio seems to be getting busier with each passing day. He has Ridley Scott’s House of Lies and Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road opening later this year, he’s currently filming Martin Scorsese’s Ashecliffe (formerly Shutter Island), and is also prepping a big screen version of the popular anime Akira.

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First Look: Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons

The big screen adaptation of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code prequel, Angels & Demons is not filming in Rome and Trovacinema.it was there to catch Tom Hanks in action as Robert Langdon, and Ron Howard directing the cast and crew.

The Da Vinci Code made over $750 million worldwide, despite largely negative reviews (25% on Rotten Tomatoes). It should be noted that the general public and particularly fans of the book seemed to enjoy it more (6.4 rating on imdb). I’ve always found The Da Vinci Code to be overrated. BUT, Angels & Demons is a far better and more interesting read. It’s a classic race against time to find a hidden bomb in the Vatican and hunt down a serial killer in Rome. The reason why this story is more interesting to me is the multi-layered debate about which is to be trusted - science or religion. But like The Da Vinci Code, I’m not sure if the action in the story will translate well to the big screen.

Angels & Demons is scheduled to hit theaters on May 15th 2009.

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Religulous Movie Trailer


Lionsgate has finally released a movie trailer for Larry Charles’ documentary Religulous, which follows Bill Maher as he travels around the globe interviewing people about God and religion. The official plot synopsis reads: “Known for his astute analytical skills, irreverent wit and commitment to never pulling a punch, Maher brings his characteristic honesty to an unusual spiritual journey.” I got the chance to see about 15 or 20 minutes of the film last year at the Toronto Film Festival, and laughed quite a bit. It’s more Michael Moore meets Jay Leno’s Jaywalking than Borat, but I understand with Charles at the helm, you need to play that card.

I love the part in the trailer where Maher asks the the guy who plays Jesus Christ at a Catholic Theme Park why God doesn’t obliterate the devil and thereby destroy all evil in the world. And Jesus responds “He will.” If I remember correctly from what was said at Toronto, Maher was actually kicked out of the park after the interview. And I understand that to some, Maher may come off as abrasive, but you have to his comic delivery. For instance his whole rant on Santa Claus. I have also included statements from both Maher and Charles after the jump. As always, tell me what you think in the comments!

Watch the trailer in High Definition on Apple. Religulous hits theaters on October 3rd 2008.

A Statement from Larry Charles

Ok. An old God, a very buff old God that lives in space decides to create the first man from earth dust, then makes a woman from that man’s rib. They get to live forever if they don’t eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, but the woman is tricked into eating a piece by a talking snake and all future humanity is cursed. Or, how bout this one? This same space God who lives in the sky and has power over everything decides he wants a son, so he impregnates a woman but she remains a virgin. And, the child can walk on water and raise the dead. But his father, the sky God, sends him on a suicide mission to save humanity. After he dies, he rises from the dead and flies into space to be with his father (who is also him.)

Greek myths? The latest installment of the “Lord of the Rings”? Disney’s new animated movie? No! These are the foundations of Western religion. The tenuous shaky belief systems that our entire civilization rests upon.

What do you believe, why do you believe it, and why do you need to believe it? Can we be good without God? Is religion a calling or a mental illness? Were Jesus, Moses and Mohammed prophets and visionaries, or crackpot nut cases who today would be put away? Is religion an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Comedian, acerbic commentator, raconteur, skeptic, seeker Bill Maher and I set off in search of answers to these questions in a raunchy, rude, irreverent, outrageous, and shocking nonfiction film about the greatest fiction ever told.

Set to the rhythms of “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Jesus Walks,” from the Western Wall to the Vatican, from self-professed messiahs to self professed Pariahs, we will not only expose the hypocrisy and corruption in organized religion but the absurdly hilarious logic that holds it together.

We will talk to clergy, extremists, scholars, politicians, ex-cons, the man on the street and even the man upstairs (that’s right, we interview God.)

The funny will be scary, the scary wildly funny. The crazy will seem sane and the sane absolutely and undeniably crazy. All lines are blurred. All bets are off. We will get inside, on top of, behind, and in front of religion.

–Larry Charles

A Statement from Bill Maher

Since starting on Politically Incorrect in 1993, it has been my pleasure over the last decade and a half to make organized religion one of my favorite targets. I often explained to people, “I don’t need to make fun of religion, it makes fun of itself.” And, then I go ahead and make fun of it too, just for laughs.

With religious fanatics like George Bush and Osama bin Laden now taking over the world, it seemed to me in recent years that this issue — this cause of debunking the man behind the curtain — needed to have a larger, more insistent and focused forum than late night television. I wanted to make a documentary, and I wanted it to be funny. In fact, since there is nothing more ridiculous than the ancient mythological stories that live on as today’s religions, this movie would try to be a real knee slapper. Unless, of course, you’re religious, then you might not like it.

Who could I get to direct me on such an epic quest? In reality, there was only one man, and his name is Larry Charles. I hope that together we fulfilled that quest. Which really isn’t that hard, considering that comedically speaking, the topic of religion is pretty much hitting the side of a barn.

As a comedian, religion has always interested me — it was the single easiest subject to make jokes about. I think that tells us something: comedians look for things that don’t make sense, that are illogical.

Even as a young comedian, routines I did that got the biggest laughs and got me invited back on the Tonight Show were the religious ones — like the one about being half Catholic and half Jewish and bringing a lawyer into confession: “Bless me father for I have sinned — and I think you know Mr. Cohen . . .”

Politics is a rich area, but even politicians, although they promise some ridiculous stuff, don’t approach the level of, for example, the Mormon practice of promising couples a planet to rule over in the after life if they have a really good marriage on earth. They give you a planet — kinda like when someone gives you a certificate that says a star has been named after you — except here, they really give you the star!

Join me in the final battle between intelligence and stupidity that will decide the future of humanity. Coming soon to a house of false idols near you.

–Bill Maher

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U2 manager: Ad-supported music is beneath musicians

Music Matters 2008 has been going on in Hong Kong this week, offering the music business the chance to "plug into Asia." One of the featured speakers was the manager of U2, Paul McGuiness, who used the opportunity to blast Internet service providers for the harm they've done to the music business. McGuiness called on ISPs to "embrace the future," but his speech made it clear that his vision of the future includes at least two things that the ISPs are unlikely to have any interest in: playing traffic cop, and handing revenues over to the music business.

This wasn't McGuiness' first attempt to take on ISPs and, possibly as a result, his latest comments have been widely reported, with many reporters focusing on different arguments he made.

When it comes to ISPs, he appeared to suggest that the content industries were the ones drawing users to the Internet, while the ISPs "have used music to drive vast revenues from broadband subscriptions." Although music is only one of a large number of factors driving broadband adoption, McGuiness argued that service providers have a financial self-interest in helping the music business, and that self-interest should play out in part through filtering copyrighted content.

But technology for ISP-level content filtering isn't yet mature and is easily circumvented. Blocking or throttling P2P isn't a good solution, either, and ISPs that have tried it in Canada and the US have brought government investigations down on themselves.

McGuiness also promoted revenue sharing agreements between ISPs and the music business. "One way or another, ISPs and mobile operators are the business partners of the future for the recorded-music business," Billboard quotes him as saying. "But they are going to have to share the money in a way that reflects what music is doing for their business."

As most ISP customers find broadband appealing regardless of the availability of music on it, it's not clear exactly what music is doing for them. Meanwhile, various attempts at content-sharing agreements and subscription models have generally flopped; consumers have voted with their wallets, and their money has largely gone to music retailers such as Apple, who do share large amounts of money with the industry.

All of this was couched in terms designed to generate sympathy for the artists themselves; McGuiness said, "I would like to see the workers (creators) paid, which they aren't at the moment." But, even when content is paid for, little of the money makes its way back to the content creators. Apple sends around 70 percent of revenues straight back to the music business—if the performers aren't getting paid, it's hardly their fault, much less that of the ISPs. This argument was undercut by a talk at the same meeting, where Variety noted that a Warner Music executive stated that performers get only two percent of the money from download and ringtone profits.

But even as he wants to see more payment for artists, McGuiness rejected one model that has worked on the Internet—ad-supported content—because he feels it is beneath musicians. He's quoted as saying he does not want to see "artists reduced to the status of employees working for glorified ad agencies." A note from this ad-supported writer: get over yourself.

It was the music industry's steadfast refusal to engage the public's interest in downloaded music that left listeners with few legal options for years, ultimately producing a public that has grown comfortable with music sharing. If McGuiness' views typify the level of analysis involved in those piloting the music industry into the future, then musicians should be very worried.

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35 New Images to Prove that Wanted Will Kick Ass


As if we needed any more inclinations as to whether or not the upcoming graphic novel adaptation is going to kick serious ass when it hits theaters on June 27th, the folks at Universal have released a huge lot of great images from the flick. With the release around the corner, the hype is growing — director is being heralded as the next big thing in Hollywood, may finally be recognized as an action star and — well, she is still smoking hot despite pregnancy.

In the photos below you will see all of the aforementioned participants, as well as supporting cast members , and Thomas Kretschmann. This highly-stylized action thriller, based on the work of comic legend , hits theaters later this month. Stay tuned for more coverage as the release gets closer.





Identity of New Transformers Robot in Transformers 2?

Yesterday the Hasbro website gave an update about the sequel to Transformers. It Mentions that the title for part 2 is Revenge of the Fallen…which can only mean one thing. All signs seem to indicate that Jazz may return in part 2.

Now I’ve read that Michael Bay said Jazz wouldn’t return and would stay dead. But recently at an L.A. event Darius McCrary, Jazz's voice actor, also hinted that Jazz might return. Now Bay might have said what he said to throw everyone off, or maybe Jazz’s voice actor did the same.

If you read the website, the title of the sequel is a big indication of a “Character returning in an attempt to settle a score.” Now I could be wrong, but I believe that all signs are pointing to the fact that Jazz will return for Transformers 2 or heck it could be Starscream for all we know, since Starscream was shown leaving Earth at the end of the Transformers film.

But here is where it gets interesting, I got an email from someone that alerted me to this internet entry on information regarding a character in the Transformers universe. Could it have to do with the title of the sequel and the name of a Transformer robot we haven’t seen?

fallentrans

The Fallen is a Transformer in the Generation 1 continuity family (and possibly in more).

At the dawn of time, Primus created new life, the 13 original Transformers, to crew his planetary form into battle against his eternal nemesis Unicron. One of these 13, his original name now lost to the mists of time, turned against his siblings, his creator, and his universe, and betrayed them all.

As Vector Prime was constructed to safeguard Space/Time, this robot's function was to oversee the primal force of entropy, the aging and dissolution of order in this universe as presage to a new creation. However, this guardian of entropy became obsessed with the darker side of chaos and death, and in the black place these urges led him, the betrayer found a new god, more suited to his nature. He turned against Primus and became the Fallen.

Now he is a being of power, darkness, and absolute dedication to Unicron. At the end of the first battle between the two Gods, for his treachery, the Fallen was sealed into extradimensional limbo along with his new master.


Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think?

Meanwhile, TFW2005 got a hold of a leaked call sheet from the set in Bethlehem PA. In it they have tons of new information regarding cast and crew, scenes, storyline, and vehicles. A lot of it is speculative, however TFW2005 can verify that the mentioned "Arcee Motorcycles" are on set.

ARCEE is a born hunter. Before joining the AUTOBOTS, she passed her time tracking turbofoxes on CYBERTRON with some of the other speedsters, taking great pride in approaching as close as she could to them, quickly and silently, before tagging them with her bow. She’s brought those skills with her to Earth, where she passes the days stalking unsuspecting DECEPTICONS until she draws close enough to strike.

When we visited the set of the first Transformers film, we had mentioned if they had any plans on putting any female Transformers and they said they had plans for it on the sequel.

Now all this could be bullshit due to the fact that Michael Bay wants to fool all the web geeks who only want to support the film.

Click on the image below for the story on the call sheet and more!
Email me: Edgar@latinoreview.com

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