Islamic State Militants Exploit Digital Services to Disseminate Video of Apparent Murder

August 19, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The group calling itself Islamic State (ISIS) did something truly abominable by any humane standard today: They posted onto several Internet video services footage of a masked, black-robed man appearing to kill James Foley, a young freelance reporter who had moved to Syria to cover the unrest there and was abducted in 2012 from Aleppo. The video itself is about two minutes of President Obama discussing foreign policy with Arabic subtitles, then a forced speech by the captive Foley, the apparent murder, and some meandering threats of "bloodshed" by the murderer. I'm not going to post any links to the video here, so you can relax. Twitter was quick to respond to the breaking story, but unfortunately, much of the immediate reaction was simply reposts and screencaps of the video's most horrible sections and then immediate outrage. YouTube took action after a little while and removed the original post, but ISIS is exploiting a particular hole in the video ecosphere that has plagued law enforcement for a while: Anything that's disgusting or titillating enough gets posted, reposted and re-reposted with new tricks every few weeks to fool YouTube's automatic censors. For example, a few years ago, for a brief period, you could find any episode of a television show you wanted because uploaders had reversed the screen image; Marge vs. the Monorail was just as good flipped left to right, so for a while, illegal uploads flourished. Then YouTube got wise, and this trick no longer works. Recently, there's been a spate of video uploads that are simply a camerman filming a screen playing copyrighted content—that, too, is hard to flag, unless it's by hand, and YouTube says it deals with an average of 100 hours of new content per minute. With video content like the ISIS footage, the problem becomes even more complex, because users can upload and post information that is playing in a screencap, or is cropped or subtitled differently from the original post. Journo backlash to the post was swift—Foley was well-liked and his friends, colleagues and acquaintances were quick to push handout photos of him available at his family's website, which replaced his blog while he was missing. The site, FreeJamesFoley.org , seems to have been overloaded by traffic at this writing. More frighteningly, ISIS sympathizers tweeted bloody frames from the video at working journalists. Their accounts were quickly suspended, but their message was very clear. Indeed, plenty of accounts are still live with ISIS handles. Most journos responded with cutting remarks, but many said they were shaken by the experience. . @gladiatory48 thanks for my daily reminder that evil exists — Anthony B. L. Smith (@AnthonyBLSmith) August 19, 2014 And some services simply don't discriminate: LiveLeak has kept the video up and indeed, does a brisk business in gory images (another popular video on the site at the moment: Man Was Still Alive After He Was Hit by Train).

Read More

Penske Media Corporation Acquires Conde Nast’s Fairchild Fashion Media Brands

August 19, 2014  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Penske Media Corporation has acquired the U.S.-based trade publishing assets of Conde Nast’s Fairchild Fashion Media unit, the parent company of business-to-business brands Women’s Wear Daily, Footwear News, Beauty Inc, M and the Fairchild Summits. The deal is expected to close next month. Financial details were not disclosed. “This is a unique and remarkable opportunity... Read more

Read More

Israeli DJ Guy Gerber Breaks the Mold With Diddy

August 19, 2014  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Dance music broke so big, so quickly, that it often feels normal to talk about artists solely in terms of earnings or major festival bookings. Yet EDM’s big tent allows for plenty of producers and DJs who would still be making the same music even without the brand partners and major agencies involved. Israeli techno... Read more

Read More

Film Review: ‘Monument to Michael Jackson’

August 19, 2014  |  Variety  |  No Comments

A mild-mannered dreamer’s absurd plan to spur tourism in his dying village goes spectacularly awry in Darko Lungulov's “Monument to Michael Jackson.”

Read More

Toronto Film Festival Completes Lineup

August 19, 2014  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Jennifer Aniston, Juliette Binoche, Steve Carell, Michael Douglas, Tina Fey, Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Diane Keaton, Melissa Leo, Bill Murray, Bill Nighy, Al Pacino, Vanessa Redgrave, Adam Sandler, John Travolta and Kristen Wiig are among the array of stars expected to alight on the red carpet of the 2014 Toronto Film Festival. The fest today... Read more

Read More

Film Review: ‘Weaving the Past: Journey of Discovery’

August 19, 2014  |  Variety  |  No Comments

A painstaking, somewhat plodding labor of love.

Read More

China Box Office: “Dragon 2” Soars in Opening Weekend

August 19, 2014  |  Variety  |  No Comments

First major Hollywood release after summer 'blackout period'

Read More

Broadway Box Office: Middleweight ‘Rocky’ Goes Down for the Count

August 18, 2014  |  Variety  |  No Comments

As the slow summer attrition of the Broadway slate continues, the musical adaptation of “Rocky” hit the mat with a final box office bump — but only a relatively modest one, in keeping with the production’s ongoing struggle to attract blockbuster crowds. Sales at “Rocky” ($870,165) climbed about 10% last week compared to the prior sesh,... Read more

Read More

Sharlto Copley and Michelle Forbes Will Star in PlayStation’s Powers

August 18, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Sharlto Copley will star as the lead in Powers, Sony PlayStation Network’s first foray into original programming. Copley , of District 9 and recent box office grand slam Maleficent, joins the lineup of stars in the drama adapted from a Marvel comic book series. FX had been trying to develop the series since 2011. Michelle Forbes of The Killing and Susan Heyward of The Following play other key roles in the crime series, which follows detectives assigned to investigate murder cases involving people with superpowers. The cast also includes Eddie Izzard , Noah Taylor, Susan Heyward, Olesya Rulin, Max Fowler and Adam Godley. Hannibal’s David Slade will direct the first two episodes, set to debut in December. Sony ordered 10 episodes of the show to be produced by Sony Pictures Television, according to Variety. At CES this year, Sony promised it would be competing with streaming video on demand (SVOD) providers Netflix and Hulu—companies whose services, particularly when used by apps distributed on the PlayStation Network, have grown in popularity over the last five years. In a June statement , Sony said PlayStation users will receive the first episode of Powers for free and the entire series will be free for U.S. Playstation Plus members. Powers was originally produced as a pilot starring Jason Patric and Charles S. Dutton. It was published by Image Comics in the early 2000s before moving to Marvel Comics’ Icon, where it continues today.

Read More

Craig Ferguson May Get a New Talk Show

August 18, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Not only is Craig Ferguson not going away, he's showing up everywhere now. As predicted, Ferguson may return to the talk show circuit soon after he steps down as host of CBS' The Late Late Show in December:

Read More