Tag: HBO

Game of Thrones Writer Reveals List of Must-Watch (or Re-Watch) Episodes Before Season 8

With the season eight premiere of Game of Thrones looming, you’re probably trying to determine your best approach for briefing yourself before winter officially comes. Well, you can stop spinning in circles over your too-little-time conundrum — Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman just revealed the must-watch episodes from seasons one through seven. You can forget about any other rewatch guides you may have seen floating around the internet because Cogman clearly knows his stuff. In fact, he’s the only GoT writer (along with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss) who’s been with the hit HBO show from the beginning.

If you haven’t watched a single episode of GoT yet, suffice it to say there are spoilers ahead. See also: Better clear your calendar for the next two weeks. You’ve got some catching up to do.

Not surprisingly, the first two episodes of the very first season top Cogman’s list. Citing “Winter Is Coming” and “The Kingsroad,” Cogman told Entertainment Weekly, “Let’s start the rewatch with a double feature, shall we? Taken together, these two episodes serve as a mega-pilot as so much of Episode 1 is devoted to simply meeting with various characters and understanding the world of the show.” It’s the second episode, explains Cogman, that gets you invested in those characters. “Episode 2 really makes you care. I remember watching a rough cut of the opening sequence (in which Jon bids farewell to his family and heads for the Wall) on my laptop in Belfast and thinking: This works! We have a show!” Cogman said, pointing out another episode-two perk, “Oh, and Episode 2 is the one where Tyrion slaps Joffrey (not for the last time).

That’ll get you started, sure. But your homework is far from finished. Cogman recommends chasing the first two episodes of the fantasy drama with the following:

Season One

Episode nine: “Baelor”
Episode ten: “Fire and Blood”

Season Two

Episode three: “What Is Dead May Never Die”
Episode six: “The Old Gods and the New”
Episode nine: “Blackwater”

Season Three

Episode three: “Walk of Punishment”
Episode four: “And Now His Watch Is Ended”
Episode five: “Kissed By Fire”
Episode nine: “The Rains of Castamere”

Season Four

Episode six: “The Laws of Gods and Men”
Episode eight: “The Mountain and the Viper”
Episode ten: “The Children”

Season Five

Episode eight: “Hardhome”

Season Six

Episode five: “The Door”
Episode nine: “Battle of the Bastards”
Episode ten: “The Winds of Winter”

Season Seven

Episode three: “The Queen’s Justice”
Episode four: “The Spoils of War”
Episode seven: “The Dragon and the Wolf”

Dying to know why Cogman considers these episodes required watching? You can read his full thoughts here. And, hopefully, you’ll have your bearings about you by the time Game of Thrones returns for its final season on Sunday, April 14.

HBO Film Revives Lurid Claims, Imperiling Thriving Michael Jackson Estate

Michael Jackson’s damaged reputation began to recover the day he died.

The lurid accusations of child molestation that had dogged him for years fell to the background as fans around the world celebrated the entertainer who had gone from pop prodigy to global superstar over a four-decade career. Flash mobs from Stockholm to the Philippines re-enacted his video scenes, and his music sales again broke chart records.

Now, nearly 10 years after his death, the dark side of Mr. Jackson’s legend has returned through a documentary that rocked the Sundance Film Festival and is being championed by Oprah Winfrey. In addition to delivering a hit to his mended reputation, the film poses a significant risk to the Jackson estate, which has engineered a thriving posthumous career, including a Broadway-bound jukebox musical.

The four-hour documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” to be broadcast on HBO in two parts on Sunday and Monday, focuses on the wrenching testimony of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Mr. Jackson abused them for years, starting when they were young boys. While the accusations are not new, their revival in the #MeToo era, with its momentum of accountability for figures like R. Kelly, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, gives them new meaning.

“There has always been this shadow or cloud about Michael,” said Charles Koppelman, a longtime music executive who once served as a financial adviser to Mr. Jackson. “With this documentary about to be shown to millions and millions of people, and all the notoriety that it’s now getting, I think it will have a detrimental effect to the legacy and the estate.”

The estate has already begun its war on “Leaving Neverland.” It issued a series of fiery statements around the time of the film’s Sundance debut in January and has filed a petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court for arbitration, seeking $100 million in damages from HBO. In making its case, the estate — whose beneficiaries are Mr. Jackson’s mother and three children, as well as children’s charities — portrays Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck as “serial perjurers” for whom HBO has become “just another tool in their litigation playbook.”

The debate over the film is likely to be intense in black communities, where figures like Mr. Jackson and Mr. Kelly have their strongest defenders, said Yaba Blay, a professor at North Carolina Central University whose specialty is black racial and cultural identities.

“If you think R. Kelly tore black America apart, this is going to destroy us,” Dr. Blay said.

On Monday night, after the conclusion of “Leaving Neverland,” HBO and the Oprah Winfrey Network plan to broadcast Ms. Winfrey’s interview with Mr. Robson, Mr. Safechuck and the film’s director, Dan Reed.

In “Leaving Neverland,” Mr. Robson, 36, and Mr. Safechuck, 41, tell parallel stories of being drawn into Mr. Jackson’s inner circle as boys. Mr. Robson met Mr. Jackson on tour in Australia at age 5 and moved to the United States two years later to be near his idol. Mr. Safechuck was 8 when he was cast in a Pepsi commercial and met Mr. Jackson.

Both men say Mr. Jackson abused them while charming their families at his 2,600-acre Neverland compound in Los Olivos, Calif. He also warned them to keep their sexual relationship secret, the men say. READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/03/business/media/leaving-neverland-michael-jackson-estate.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

Rolling in the deep: HBO film looks at roller skate culture

NEW YORK >> First-time documentary filmmakers Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler lugged their cameras to Central Park in New York one day to capture the last few people still passionate about roller skating. Rinks across the country were gone. The activity seemed dead.

“We were shooting a piece about what we thought was the end of the era of skating with what we thought were the last men standing,” said Winkler. “We thought, ‘Who roller skates anymore?’”

They may have come for a funeral but they found something else entirely. Two young African-American skaters approached them and asked them what they were doing. “They said, ‘Skating’s not dead. It just went underground,’” Winkler recalled.

Winkler and Brown decided to go find it. Five years and 500 hours of footage later, they’ve emerged with the HBO film “United Skates,” a fascinating look at the rich African-American subculture of roller skating, which is under threat.

“We hope that our viewers will learn something they didn’t know about, fall in love with something they didn’t know about, and maybe be compelled to care enough to protect it,” Winkler said.

The documentary explores how roller rinks were the sites of some of the earliest fights of the civil-rights era and how they later became the launching pads for hip-hop artists.

It shows how unofficial segregation lives on, with so-called “adult nights” that feature metal detectors and masses of police, something not used when whites come to skate. It also shows how rinks are being closed as communities chase more revenue by rezoning for retail use.

“There’s a bigger story to tell and we can use the joyous beauty of roller skating as the sugar to spoon-feed some of these bigger issues. That’s when we started to peel back the layers,” Winkler said.

That day in Central Park changed the trajectory — and the lives — of the filmmakers. The young skaters they met invited the women to come and see what had happened to skating. And so they got on a night bus to Richmond, Virginia.

The duo — one Australian, one American — approached a roller rink at midnight. It was far from funereal: There was a line down the block, music was pumping, skaters were dressed to kill and everyone seemed to know each other.

“We stepped into this world,” said Winkler.

They soon learned that each city had different skate dance styles — Baltimore has “Snapping,” Atlanta has the “Jacknife” and in Texas you do the “Slow Walk” — and how such a tight fellowship among skaters is forged that they will fly across the country to get together.

Embraced by the community, Winkler and Brown never paid for a hotel room or car rental or a meal while crisscrossing the country interviewing some 100 skaters. The skaters themselves opened their homes and drove them around.

The documentary features interviews with hip-hop legends like Salt-N-Pepa, Coolio and Vin Rock of Naughty by Nature. John Legend is an executive producer and the film received the Documentary Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The cameras also follow Reggie Brown, a roller-skating ambassador and community advocate. In a phone interview, he explained that roller skating teaches patience, athleticism, purpose, positive reinforcement, determination — and getting up after a fall.

“Roller skating is a little bit more than going in circles on a couple of wheels,” he said. “It’s fun. It’s an enjoyable exercise. It’s healthy and there are a lot of great benefits. But the socioeconomics benefits to roller skating are higher than anybody can think of.”

“Name me another activity that’s family-affordable, that you can go to on a Saturday and take five members of your family and you can skate for four hours and everybody can have a good time and exercise.”

“United Skates” is a documentary made partially by the subjects themselves. Winkler and Brown, who began the project as beginner skaters, enlisted skaters to shoot scenes and used their rink skills to help capture footage.

“They would push us from behind at these high speeds and we would just focus on the camera and just pray,” said Winkler. “It really was collaboration. They like to say we taught them how to shoot and they taught us how to skate.”

The cameras capture one suburban Chicago family-owned rink’s gut-wrenching decision to shut its doors — among thousands that have done so in the past decade — and the filmmakers are not shy about hoping their film can stem the tide of closures.

“Obviously if we could save one rink, if we could have one rink reopen because of this film, that’s a huge step forward for this community and we hope that will have a ripple effect,” said Brown.

Here’s Why Issa Rae Said Her Mom Couldn’t Watch ‘Insecure’ At One Point

On the promo trail for the Season 3 premiere of Insecure, which hits HBO this Sunday evening, Issa Rae appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

During the interview she talked about how it took her mom a while to watch the show and she even referred to it as porn!

“It’s taking her some getting used to,” said Rae.

“I want to tell her that’s how I got here (laughs). The fourth episode of our second season was a bit racy, and she texted me and said ‘You’re basically making porn. I don’t know if this is HBO doing this or if this is you, but I can’t watch this anymore. I was like ‘Mom, if you don’t like this episode, you definitely shouldn’t watch episode six.

Her mom didn’t but they watched a future episode as family later.

“We watched the second to last episode at their house as a family and she went upstairs. I was genuinely hurt…but just last month she caved and decided to watch the episodes and said it wasn’t too much and she loves it…now she likes the show!”