Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Daily Show Without Jon Stewart

The Guardian:
Jon Stewart is to step down later this year as host of The Daily Show after nearly two decades spent satirizing – and influencing – U.S. politics. Stewart, 52, announced his departure in an emotional address at the end of Tuesday's show on February 10, saying his 16-year run in the hot seat was enough.

“In my heart I know it is time for someone else,” Stewart, at times close to tears, told the audience. He was still working out details of his exit, which could come anytime between July and December, he said. “I don’t have any specific plans. Got a lot of ideas. I got a lot of things in my head.”

Stewart hinted at a yearning for a change of pace after the treadmill of hosting a broadcast four times a week. “I’m going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people. This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host and neither do you.”

Born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz in New Jersey, in 1962, Stewart was a stand-up comic who landed a slot at the famed Comedy Cellar. His first break came in 1989 with cable TV’s Short Attention Span Theatre, before he forged a friendship with David Letterman.

By 1993 Stewart was hosting his own MTV show, but when that show was cancelled in 1995 it seemed he had peaked. When Craig Kilborn left The Daily Show in 1998 he was replaced by Stewart as the face of what rapidly became the most talked about comedy show in America. The show established Stewart as a singular force in U.S. political and media life.

The comedian, who serves as executive producer, has garnered about 2.5 million viewers per night with biting satire that entertained, provoked and at times shaped the political agenda – often with progressives echoing his talking points and conservatives denouncing them.

Stewart's version is currently the second longest-running program on Comedy Central after South Park, and has risen to critical acclaim. It has received two Peabody Awards for its coverage of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Between 2001 and 2012, it has been awarded 18 Primetime Emmy Awards in the categories of Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series (winner for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012) and Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Program, and a further seven nominations. The show has also been honored by GLAAD, the Television Critics Association, and the Satellite Awards. America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, the 2004 bestseller written by Stewart and the writing staff of The Daily Show, was recognized by Publishers Weekly as its "Book of the Year", and its abridged audiobook edition received the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.

The program is popular among young audiences, with organizations such as the Pew Research Center suggesting that 80% of regular viewers are between 18 and 49, and that 10% of the audience watch the show for its news headlines, 2% for in-depth reporting, and 43% for entertainment, compared with 64% who watch CNN for the news headlines.

The comedian took time off in 2013 to make his film writing and directorial debut, Rosewater, a political drama about Maziar Bahari, a journalist accused of spying and imprisoned in Iran. Critics acclaimed it, prompting the Los Angeles Times to joke that Stewart “may have a promising back-up career”. Stewart also emerged as a forceful proponent for Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian satirist curtailed by Egypt's post-Arab Spring rulers.

In its own announcement, Comedy Central, which has aired the show since 1996, said Stewart would step down later this year. Michele Ganeless, Comedy Central’s president, hailed Stewart as a comic genius. “Through his unique voice and vision The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come.”

In the mid-1990s, Stewart launched his own production company, Busboy Productions, naming the company in reference to his previous job as a busboy. After Stewart's success as host and producer of The Daily Show, he revived Busboy Productions with Daily Show producers Ben Karlin and Rich Korson.

In 2005, Comedy Central reached an agreement with Busboy in which Comedy Central would provide financial backing for the production company. Comedy Central has a first-look agreement on all projects, after which Busboy is free to shop them to other networks. The deal spawned the Daily Show spin-off The Colbert Report and its replacement The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Other projects include the sitcom pilot Three Strikes, the documentary Sportsfan, the series Important Things with Demetri Martin, and the film The Donor.

More information:
» The Atlantic: The House That Jon Stewart Built
» New York Times in 2008: "Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America?"
» New York Magazine in 2014: Jon Stewart In Conversation

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kendrick Lamar - "i"/"The Blacker the Berry"

"i" is a song by American rapper Kendrick Lamar, released on September 23, 2014 as the lead single from his upcoming, yet-to-be-titled third studio album. The song heavily samples "That Lady", as performed by R&B group The Isley Brothers, elements of which were re-recorded rather than being directly sampled from the original record. The song, produced by Rahki, debuted and peaked at number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song received critical acclaim from music critics. The track was placed at number ten on Rolling Stone '​s 50 Best Songs of 2014 list. Billboard listed "i" as the second best song of 2014. "i" also was placed at number 14 on Spin's list of "The 101 Best Songs of 2014". "i" received the award for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the 2015 Grammy Awards.

The Guardian:
The Boi-1da and Terrace Martin produced track comes in anticipation of his followup to Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and echoes Lamar’s previous comments regarding the police shootings of 2014.

“What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting – it starts from within,” he told Billboard in an interview, which led to comments from artists such as Azalea Banks and Kid Cudi, who criticized the way in which Lamar laid the blame on black youths.

Lamar is no stranger to addressing issues surrounding crime, race and violence: on the track "Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst" featured on Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, he addresses the psychology of the victim in a shooting. “That’s the most interesting story to me,” he said in an interview with the Guardian. “At first, I was scared to show fear because you can never be sure how people will perceive you. But I dared myself to do that, to stand out.”

Described by Pharrell Williams as “this era’s Bob Dylan”, his third full-length album is expected in 2015.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly - "Back In Stride" (1985)

Maze are an American soul/quiet storm band established in San Francisco, California in the early 1970s. The band can be considered as the project formerly known as The Butlers, and later Raw Soul, with member Frankie Beverly being songwriter, record producer, arranger, singer, keyboardist and guitarist.

The Philadelphia born Beverly started the group as Raw Soul in 1970. They recorded a couple of singles on the small Gregar label, but without any major hits. With a few personnel changes, a relocation from Philadelphia to the San Francisco Bay Area in California in 1971, and an introduction to Marvin Gaye, the group became an immediate success. Gaye took the group on the road with him as one of his opening acts, and in 1976, he suggested that they changed their name from Raw Soul to Maze.

"Back in Stride" claimed the number one spot on the soul singles chart, remaining there for two weeks, and reached eighty-eight on the Hot 100, in the spring of 1985. The mid-tempo single was written and produced by Beverly. The Top 5 follow-up, "Too Many Games" was also featured on Can't Stop the Love. The latter single also became the band's biggest hit in the UK, where it peaked at number 36 on the charts.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX

New England Patriots  28 : 24  Seattle Seahawks
Tom Brady put a stamp on his legacy with a cold-blooded fourth quarter, leading the New England Patriots from a 10-point deficit to capture his fourth Super Bowl ring and third MVP award in the 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

"It wasn't the way we drew it up, certainly throwing a couple picks didn't help," Brady told NBC after the game. "It was great, a lot of mental toughness, our team's had it all year and we never doubted each other. ... That was a great football team we beat. I'm just so happy for our team."

The Patriots had lost three straight Super Bowls since winning three in four years a decade ago. Brady responded with an MVP performance worth his lore.

Brady threw four touchdown passes and set a career Super Bowl record with 13 touchdown strikes in his six games played, passing Joe Montana's mark of 11.

The 37-year-old quarterback might have a sore arm on Monday after attempting 50 passes, completing a Super Bowl-record 37 for 328 yards. The Patriots came in with a game plan to pick apart the Seahawks' secondary with a million paper cuts.

The Seahawks pulled off a miraculous rally to beat Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game and were in position for another improbable victory when Jermaine Kearse made a juggling, 33-yard catch while on his back.

With the ball on New England's 1, Seattle appeared to be headed toward a second straight Super Bowl title. Malcolm Butler spoiled the Seahawks' bid, stepping in front of Ricardo Lockette for the interception.

More information:
» Bill Belichick: The Great Defender
» Aaron Rodgers Becomes Ninth Player Ever to Win Multiple MVP Awards
» attn: "Here's Exactly How the NFL Avoids Taxes"