Inevitably, in the torrent of obituaries to come, someone will recite a list of Roger Ailes’s personal failings, repugnant views, and malignant actions, but then be sure to credit him with having been a brilliant provocateur or a visionary broadcaster or some shit. “For better or worse,” they will preface it.…
MP3, the digital audio coding format, changed the way we listen to music and drove the adoption of countless new devices over the last couple of decades. And now, it’s dead. The developer of the format announced this week that it has officially terminated its licensing program.
Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director behind The Silence of the Lambs and frequent Neil Young collaborator, died Wednesday at the age of 73 from health complications, IndieWire reports.
Over his prolific filmmaking career, Demme directed everything from major motion pictures to episodes of television shows and shot documentaries and music videos. As a Hollywood filmmaker, Demme is probably best known for directing Philadelphia, an emotional film about the AIDS crisis starring Tom Hanks, and The Silence of the Lambs. Lambs earned Demme an Oscar for directing in 1991.
Demme also worked with a slew of iconic musicians. In the 80s, he directed Stop Making Sense, a documentary about the Talking Heads. He also worked with Neil Young a number of times, directing Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006), Neil Young Trunk Show (2009), and Neil Young Journeys (2011). If that wasn't impressive enough, he also helped direct two music videos for Bruce Springsteen—"Streets of Philadelphia" and "Murder Incorporated." More recently, he directed the 2016 documentary Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids.
In his later years, Demme worked with Anne Hathaway, directing 2008's Rachel Getting Married, and explored the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the 2011 documentary I'm Carolyn Parker: The Good, The Mad, and The Beautiful. He also lent his hand to directing a few episodes of the true-crime television drama The Killing.
In 2010, Demme was first treated for esophageal cancer and heart disease. It wasn't until recently, in 2015, that complications from the diseases began to rapidly deteriorate his health. He died in New York on Wednesday morning, and he is survived by his wife, Joanne Howard, and his three children.
On Thursday, Hasbro announced that the humble thimble, Monopoly’s least beloved game piece, would be getting the boot from “an upcoming version of the game.” Cynically, the toy company framed the eviction as a simple reflection of the people’s will, the result of a recent online contest to modernize the board game.
Masaya Nakamura, the founder of Namco, has died, the company announced today. Nakamura was 91-years-old, and remained an honorary advisor until his passing. A cause of death was not released.
When Masaya Nakamura founded Nakamura Manufacturing in 1955, video games didn't exist—the company was focused on building mechanical rides for children. As part of a reorganization a few years later, Nakamura Manufacturing became Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company, aka NAMCO. When the company acquired the flailing Atari Japan in 1974, it was the start of a process that would change them forever. Its first original game, Gal Bee, arrived in 1978, and just two years later, Pac-Man arrived. From there, history took over.
Nakamura was not a game designer, though; Namco engineer Toru Iwatani was responsible for Pac-Man. In fact, Pac-Man Museum has an interview with Nakamura from that time period, in which he talked about enjoying the game's financial success but worried "some young people play it so much."
Read more on Waypoint
It began with a scandalous pair of Capri pants.
The 1960s casual-clothing staple was too much for American TV audiences to handle, at least when placed on actress Mary Tyler Moore, who was playing housewife Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Not only were there the bare calves to contend with, there was also a phenomenon actually discussed by the show's shocked advertisers as "cupping under"—the pants' ability to fit closely to Moore's backside. To please the advertising execs, the show agreed to limit Moore's pants-wearing to one scene per episode.
The pants had been Moore's idea. A relative unknown when cast as Van Dyke's TV wife in 1961, Moore brought her own ideas to the role. Her obvious comedic talent inspired creator Carl Reiner to expand her presence on-screen to almost equal her TV husband, and her chemistry with Van Dyke made them one of the first TV couples that simmered with sexual energy. They were still forced to sleep in separate beds by network censors, but Moore suggested another way to make her character more realistic: She should, she insisted, wear pants. "I said I've seen all the other actresses, and they're always running the vacuum in these little flowered frocks with high heels on, and I don't do that," she told NPR in an interview. "And I don't know any of my friends who do that. So why don't we try to make this real?"
This commitment to reality in her roles would make Moore, who died this week at the age of 80, into a pioneer of progressive television. Her best-known character, The Mary Tyler Moore Show's Mary Richards, is perhaps TV's greatest feminist icon—she of the signature beret toss at the end of her message-heavy theme song: "You're gonna make it after all!" But her legacy extends to other progressive issues as well. Her passion for realistic, challenging programming helped her and then husband Grant Tinker, who ran the production company bearing her name, to expand how TV portrayed not only single women but gender roles in marriage and the workplace, gay characters, sex workers, divorce, infidelity, AIDS, addiction, and flawed police work—among many other issues.
Moore's pants-wearing, banter-y take on the wife role was just the beginning. The Dick Van Dyke Show taught her lessons in progressiveness that she'd later apply as founding principles of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. That landmark series, which ran from 1970–77, nudged dozens of boundaries in a way that mirrored Moore's earlier stand on Capri pants: It was always done in a tasteful, entertaining way that made anyone who complained look like the one with the problem.
The show's progress on women's issues, of course, was legion and apace with the burgeoning women's lib movement of the time. Suddenly America's sweetheart was staying out all night on dates (shown going out in an evening gown and not returning until the morning after, wearing the same dress). She admitted to taking the pill. She struggled to take control of the newsroom where she worked when her boss left her in charge. She complained about being the token woman at the office. She asked for equal pay.
But through other characters, the show bearing Moore's name explored other social frontiers. Mary's boss, Lou Grant, got a divorce after his wife was inspired by the movement to leave him and find herself. Mary's co-worker, Sue Ann Nivens, had an unapologetic affair with the husband of Mary's neighbor, Phyllis. Mary's best friend, Rhoda, fought bitterly with her own mother, experienced anti-Semitism, struggled with her weight, and pursued a man who turned out to be gay.
This was all the more remarkable because the show was produced by Moore's own company, MTM Enterprises. She started the company with Tinker when she signed on to make The Mary Tyler Moore Show for CBS. The decision to produce it herself proved critical. She and Tinker fought the network often, especially in the first season, to focus on real issues instead of standard sitcom fluff. Network executives sent the show's co-creators, James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, a stern note: "Mary should be presented with a problem. Toward the end she should solve that problem in a surprising and comical manner." They further suggested a storyline or two: Perhaps, they said, Mary could meet a visiting prince! Moore's control allowed the producers to ignore these early meddlings and focus instead on realistic plotlines generated with the help of their writing staff, which also happened to include more women than ever previously assembled on one show.
The show also helped spread a new progressive, issues-oriented approach across the TV dial in the early 70s. Its success in reaching the desirable young, urban, affluent demographic fueled a revolution in programming. All in the Family hit the airwaves in January 1971, four months after The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered. Its explosive, argumentative approach to modern issues laid waste to the remaining lightweight programming in primetime. Over the next decade, All in the Family producer Norman Lear and MTM Enterprises took over huge swaths of the primetime schedule with their two distinctive schools of progressive programming. Lear shows such as Maude, The Jeffersons, and Good Times attacked abortion, addiction, race, class, and more. MTM's The Bob Newhart Show, Rhoda, and Lou Grant dissected mental illness, divorce, nuclear proliferation, child abuse, rape, and journalistic ethics.
MTM Enterprises would go on to produce some of the greatest shows of all time, harbingers of the 2000s' "Golden Age of Television Drama." Because of the company's reputation for protecting its creative talent from network meddling, it attracted the best and produced an impressive stream of works: Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, and Newhart among them.
All of this adds up to one hell of a legacy, one that started with some Capri pants and spread far beyond that iconic beret toss.
Mary Tyler Moore, the sitcom star best known for her seven-season run as the lead of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has died at 80 years old, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Hers was the first sitcom centered on a single-by-choice woman with serious professional aspirations, opening the door for shows like 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and Girls decades later.
In her 20s, Moore played the long-suffering wife of the protagonist on The Dick Van Dyke Show, another of the most well-regarded TV comedies in American history. The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which was about a woman in her 30s who moved to Minneapolis after a breakup and found herself producing a local TV news show, also left a feminist mark in Hollywood. Premiering in 1970, it came along at a time when perhaps only a token woman might be added to a TV writing staff. However, one-third of the 75 writers hired over the history of the show were women.
The two legendary roles place Moore at the center of an interesting continuum: both a feminist icon and a symbol for the kind of idyllic, mid-century domestic bliss people get nostalgic for, even though it never really existed.
After The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended in 1977, Moore turned briefly to drama. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the Robert Redford–directed family drama Ordinary People. In the film, the son of Moore's character attempts suicide—suicide would claim her real-life son and only child shortly after the film's release.
Moore largely gravitated back to TV later in her career. In one memorable turn, she played a talk-show host on That 70s Show, despite the headache-inducing conceit that her character's show was contemporaneous with The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
She was also immortalized in the chorus of the song "Buddy Holly" by Weezer, famous for its video that is also a nostalgia trip (despite no appearance by Moore herself).
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Moore is survived by her third husband, a cardiologist named Robert Levine.
Follow Mike Pearl on Twitter.
In December, we learned that xoJane’s legendary founder, Jane Pratt, was leaving the company and that the famously controversial personal essay hub would fold into InStyle, signaling the end times for the overly confessional hate-read. (Hearst’s The Mix, more or less cut from the same cloth as xoJane, quietly died…
Former astronaut Gene Cernan has died at the age of 82. He holds the distinction of being the most recent man to walk on the Moon and his legacy as one of humanity’s greatest explorers will live on.