July 23, 2017

Is This the Woman Who Will Save Uber?

“Everybody was like: ‘What’s happening? Is this your date? I don’t understand. Why is this guy here?’” Ms. Saint John said. “It was such a beautiful, human moment,” one that was chronicled on her Instagram account, @badassboz, where she has more than 40,000 followers.

“We’re all rushing in our lives, and I was so concerned with getting from here to there, and if not for the moment of humanity where we just started talking, that connection would not have happened,” she said. “What a miss that would have been. What a miss!”

This story was part of what convinced Arianna Huffington, a founder of The Huffington Post and a high-profile member of Uber’s board, that Ms. Saint John was the right person to shepherd Uber out of its recent thicket of legal and ethical scandals.

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From left, Andra Day, Lisa Vanderpump and Ms. Saint John at the Women of Influence Awards in 2016. Credit Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

The two women first met at a dinner in Las Vegas last January hosted by Kristin Lemkau, the chief marketing officer of JPMorgan Chase. “We had an instant connection,” Ms. Huffington said. That night, she posted a photo of herself with her arm around a beaming Ms. Saint John on Instagram with the hashtag #thecoolkidsdinner.” The next month, Ms. Huffington attended Ms. Saint John’s 40th birthday party in Los Angeles. (Another Instagram opportunity: “Hard to imagine what she’ll do by 50!” she posted.)

“Sometimes it takes you months to get to know someone,” Ms. Huffington said. “With her, I felt like she has this incredible capacity for intimacy and for sharing her story and for sharing others’ stories.”

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And, Ms. Huffington said, “She’s great at social media.”

Indeed, while women have long feared that putting family pictures on their desks might impede their climb up the corporate ladder, Ms. Saint John has broken the glass frame: posing in a bikini with her “baddies” on a beach; snapping a selfie as her daughter, now 8, tags along on a business trip; and posting the last red-carpet photo she took with her husband, Peter Saint John, who died of Burkitt lymphoma in 2013.

Baddies on the beach. Part 2. #imeanseriously #mycrewbad #Anguilla #nosandtothebeach @justeenahoh @iamlylette @epnyc @amyduboisbarnett

A post shared by Bozoma Saint John (@badassboz) on Dec 30, 2014 at 2:00pm PST

“I’ve been told that I overshare,” she said. “Sometimes I get criticized for it, but how else would I be if not all of me?”

Ms. Saint John knows it might seem overly calculating of Uber, which has been accused of fostering a hostile work environment for women, to hire an African-American single mother to make over its public image. She doesn’t care. “To me, there’s no sense of tokenism because I know I can do the job — I’m qualified to do the job, I can do a great job,” she said. “Being present as a black woman — just present — is enough to help exact some of the change that is needed and some that we’re looking for.”

She amplifies this presence with statement-making ensembles like the ruffled, lilac Marni skirt and crop top, gold-encrusted Chanel purse and stiletto heels she wore on a recent morning at Uber’s San Francisco office. “That’s my own personal thing,” Ms. Saint John said of her interest in fashion, so distinct from the hoodie aesthetic around her.

She has stood out from the crowd since her family settled in Colorado Springs when she was 12, after an itinerant childhood spent in Connecticut, Washington D.C., Kenya and Ghana, where her father was a member of the Parliament from 1979 until the 1981 coup d’état there. Her mother designed and sold clothes and ensured that Ms. Saint John and her three younger sisters stayed connected to their culture, especially once they moved to the Southwest.

“The first few months were really hard,” Ms. Saint John said. “Having a name that people can’t pronounce” — it’s BOZE-mah — “having a mom that refused to serve pizza on Friday nights when friends came over. She was like, ‘No you’re going to have this pepper soup, I don’t care if you’re sweating.’” (She’s come to appreciate that steadfastness: Accepting an award at an arts fund-raiser hosted by Russell Simmons this month, Ms. Saint John thanked her mother for ingraining her love of African culture.)

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Arianna Huffington, second from left, and Ms. Saint John last month. Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times

Ms. Saint John became captain of the cheerleading squad and track team. In her sophomore year, she ran for student council under the tagline “Ain’t Nothin’ but a Boz Thing,” inspired by her anthem of the moment, Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang.”

“I just thought it was so cool, but nobody got it,” she said. She lost, “but it was a great lesson — you need to connect on your audience’s level, not on your own.”

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Ms. Saint John attended Wesleyan University, ostensibly to prepare for becoming a doctor but managing to teach a class on Tupac Shakur, with a professor’s supervision, in her spare time. She got into medical school but lobbied her parents for a yearlong sabbatical. “They agreed, which was their mistake,” she said.

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She moved to New York, and through a temp agency got gigs as a catering server and a receptionist for an Upper East Side dog-washing salon. She also began going to nightclubs, where she made friends with influencers like Rene Mclean, who ran a D.J. boot camp. Her temp agency sent her to SpikeDDB, Spike Lee’s advertising firm. Mr. Lee had fired his assistant and wanted someone to answer phones while he looked for a new one.

“She walked in, she got the job,” he said. “It was evident that she was going to go places.”

Ms. Saint John went from making coffee runs to helping Mr. Lee brainstorm campaigns, like casting Beyoncé, who had just left Destiny’s Child, as Carmen in a Pepsi commercial.

“That became the turning point where, O.K., I can actually use my knowledge of pop culture, running around these streets with my friends, knowing the inside track on things, to help inform business decisions,” she said. She also met her husband-to-be, an advertising executive, in the company cafeteria.

After a stint selling smoking cessation products for GlaxoSmithKline, Ms. Saint John took a marketing job at Pepsi, coming up with projects like the “Pepsi DJ Division,” which included D.J. Khaled.

In 2013, she orchestrated the halftime show Pepsi sponsored at the Super Bowl featuring Beyoncé. Four months later, her husband’s illness was diagnosed. Their daughter had just turned 4.

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Ms. Saint John at the AdColor Awards in 2014.

“Towards the end of his life, as everything started to fail, he was very adamant that I not stop what I was doing,” Ms. Saint John said. “He was telling me to hold his hands because he couldn’t grasp anymore, saying, ‘Promise me, you’re going to keep going.’”

On the 13th anniversary of their first date, Ms. Saint John posted a status update on Facebook, saying in part, “we reflect over our years together as he has a chemo cocktail and I drink red wine in a paper cup.” Mr. Saint John died in December 2013. Ms. Saint John, true to her word, kept going. In February 2014, Jimmy Iovine, a founder of Interscope Records, found out she was in Los Angeles for a sister’s wedding and requested a meeting at his house in Malibu. He had just started Beats Music, a streaming service, with her teenage idol, Dr. Dre. Who was Mr. Iovine? How did streaming work? She wasn’t quite sure, but she drove to the beachside residence.

“We ended up talking for four hours,” Ms. Saint John said. “I was raw. I needed something to give me some hope for the future. I needed something that could help me see further. When he was talking about all this newfangled stuff, I said: ‘That sounds like the future! I’m going to the future!’”

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Ms. Saint John quit Pepsi and moved to Los Angeles as the head of global marketing for Beats. Her role expanded when Apple acquired Beats for $3 billion in 2014, and she came up with popular ad campaigns for Apple Music, like a 2015 commercial in which Mary J. Blige, Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson bond over post-breakup songs in a light and palm-frond-filled mansion (“Siri, play ‘I Will Survive,’” Ms. Washington says). Last year, Ms. Saint John walked on stage at Apple’s developers’ conference — the first black woman to do so — blasting old-school rap and commanding the room of mostly white men to bounce to the beat. Wired wondered, “Who the hell is this badass woman, and how did Apple keep her secret for so long?”

After hearing Ms. Saint John’s story of her Austin ride, “I had a flash — ‘Wow, she’d be great at Uber,’” Ms. Huffington said. “I thought she would be a great person to tell these amazing stories of our drivers, to touch people’s hearts, to bring more humanity to the brand.”

In May, Ms. Saint John and Travis Kalanick, an Uber founder and then chief executive, spent eight hours at Ms. Huffington’s home in Los Angeles, discussing what she might do for the company, both grand and simple.

“I think I might need to wear a disguise, but I want to drive,” she said. “What happens when someone gets in the car and they’re upset? Is that a moment? Do you just stay quiet or do you talk?”

Mr. Kalanick would step down as chief executive a month later. The hunt is on for his successor. But whoever it is will have Ms. Saint John helping steer from the passenger seat, stilettos and speakers on.

“Why wouldn’t they want her?” Mr. Lee said. “She’s just what the doctor ordered, the stuff they were going through. She’s a godsend for Uber.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/22/style/uber-bozoma-saint-john.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Hero, Villain, TV Sensation: Spicer’s Fame Spread Beyond Washington

With Mr. Spicer in charge, the question of whether a briefing would be on camera or off — once an idiosyncratic concern of Washington insiders — turned into dinner table conversation around the country. On some days, soap operas were pre-empted to carry the White House news briefing live. Even the tabloid outlet TMZ got into the act, posting a grainy video of Mr. Spicer being ambushed by a critic at an Apple store.

Mr. Spicer’s relationship with reporters was often strained, starting with his first appearance at the lectern, when he laced into the press corps, falsely accusing it of underestimating the size of Mr. Trump’s inaugural crowd. Though he chafed when reporters challenged him, sometimes for the benefit of a president he knew was watching, he often welcomed them to his office for gossip and, on occasion, soft-serve ice cream.

Comedians could hardly believe their luck.

“There’s a fount of material; it’s insatiable,” said Matt Negrin, whose obsessive Twitter chronicling of Mr. Spicer helped him land a job at “The Daily Show,” where he produced videos that captured Mr. Spicer’s most memorable malapropisms and gaffes.

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All Joking Aside, Here’s How Sean Spicer Shook Up the White House Press Briefing

Mr. Spicer typically calls on media organizations outside the mainstream before getting to more traditional news outlets.

Mr. Negrin, who has a six-foot canvas poster of Mr. Spicer in his New York apartment (“it looks like he’s looking right into my eyes”), posted a video obituary on Friday titled, “Sean Spicer’s Daily On-Camera Press Briefings, 2017-2017.” It had been prepared ahead of time.

Mr. Spicer’s fame increased the profile of those around him.

Glenn Thrush of The New York Times, who broke the news of Mr. Spicer’s resignation on Friday, was the subject of a memorable impression by Bobby Moynihan on “Saturday Night Live.” Ms. Ryan, a 20-year veteran of covering the White House, signed a CNN contract and earned a guest spot on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” soon after Mr. Spicer chastised her during a televised briefing.

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“It went viral; it went global,” Ms. Ryan said of the exchange, in which the press secretary accused her of shaking her head, a comment widely perceived as condescending.

Ms. Ryan said that she was recognized more often on the street these days. But the notoriety had its downside, too, she said, including threats she received after the episode. “I don’t look at it as a badge of honor,” she said. “It happened. I had to deal with it.” Of Mr. Spicer, she added: “I wish him well.”

Mr. Spicer had his devotees — he was once mobbed by selfie-seeking fans at a rally for Mr. Trump in Nashville — and he seemed at times to relish the attention. When CNN, in a cheeky move, sent a courtroom sketch artist to illustrate one of Mr. Spicer’s briefings at which cameras had been banned, he requested a copy of the drawing, and then displayed it proudly in his West Wing office.

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In recent weeks, Mr. Spicer was spending less time at the lectern, often replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was promoted on Friday to succeed him.

News of Mr. Spicer’s exit prompted speculation that he would quickly find a new home on television, following in the tradition of former White House aides who get lucrative contracts from cable news networks. Some television agents spent Friday scrambling for his number.

One network, however, took pains to pre-emptively announce that it would not serve as Mr. Spicer’s future employer: CNN, which has clashed repeatedly with the press secretary and the Trump administration, said on Friday that it would not hire him.

The president, presumably, has no problem with that, and on Friday Mr. Trump offered Mr. Spicer one of the highest compliments available in his lexicon.

“I wish him continued success as he moves on to pursue new opportunities,” Mr. Trump said in a statement, read aloud by Ms. Sanders. “Just look at his great television ratings.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/21/business/media/sean-spicer-show.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Wall Street Journal Editorial Writer Is Found Dead


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Joseph Rago of The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Rago won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. Credit Pulitzer Prize Board, via Associated Press

Joseph Rago, a 34-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal, was found dead at his home on Thursday evening. Police officers discovered Mr. Rago’s body at his apartment in Manhattan at around 8 p.m. after a request to check on him, a spokeswoman for the New York Police Department said.

“It is with a heavy heart that we confirm the death of Joseph Rago, a splendid journalist and beloved friend,” Paul Gigot, the editor of The Journal’s editorial page, said in a statement. “Joe and his family are in our thoughts and prayers, and we will be celebrating his work in Saturday’s paper.”

Mr. Gigot had notified the newspaper’s security officials after Mr. Rago did not appear at work on Thursday, according to an article published on The Journal’s website on Friday. The officials then contacted the police.

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Foul play is not suspected, the police spokeswoman said.

Asked about Mr. Rago, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office said, “The cause and manner of death are pending further studies following today’s examination.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/21/business/media/wall-street-journal-editorial-writer-is-found-dead.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Scaramucci Has a Showman’s Knack for Self-Promotion Rivaling Trump’s

Mr. Scaramucci grew up on Long Island, in Port Washington, N.Y., where one of his first jobs was delivering Newsday. He has written two books, “Goodbye Gordon Gekko” and “The Little Book of Hedge Funds.” He started SkyBridge Capital in 2005 as an incubator for hedge fund managers after spending seven years at Goldman Sachs and helping to found a money-managament firm.

After the financial crisis, many hedge funds shifted tactics to attract new investors. SkyBridge bought Citigroup’s hedge fund unit and then reinvented itself, opening up to investors with as little as $25,000. Many top hedge funds, by contrast, required a $10 million investment. SkyBridge is a manager of a portfolio of hedge funds — a “fund of funds.”

“I’m a middle-class kid from Long Island, and neither of my parents went to college,” Mr. Scaramucci told The Times in 2013. “Why shouldn’t more people have access to this industry?”

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In 2011, he tried to join the rarefied club of major league sports owners as part of a group that considered buying a stake in the New York Mets. The deal never materialized.

Mr. Scaramucci is a longtime supporter of Republican candidates. Although he donated to Mr. Obama’s campaign in 2008, he supported Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, saying that America need “more practical, less partisan people.” He was one of Mr. Trump’s biggest critics during the presidential race before becoming one of the first on Wall Street to back him. He called Mr. Trump a “hack politician” and warned that his politics were divisive.

Strongly opposed to Hillary Clinton — “You can search and see the weather vane on top of her head,” he once said — Mr. Scaramucci had trouble settling on a Republican candidate. He initially backed Mr. Romney, then Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida.

“I’m not looking for my political fingerprint to match the identity of my candidate,” Mr. Scaramucci said in acknowledging unease among wealthy donors over Mr. Walker’s shift to the right on social issues. He expressed alarm, however, about how, as a candidate, Mr. Trump spoke about hedge fund managers, calling him “misinformed” on Twitter.

Mr. Scaramucci changed his mind by the time Mr. Trump’s head campaign fund-raiser, Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and hedge fund veteran, appeared at Mr. Scaramucci’s Las Vegas conference last year.

Mr. Trump, Mr. Scaramucci said, was “saying cuckoo-la-la things to insult the intelligentsia because what he’s discovered is that the average American, the red-meat-eating Middle American, loves the swipes at the know-it-alls, and I think Donald Trump is enjoying doing that.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/21/business/dealbook/trump-media-scaramucci-wall-street.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Critic’s Notebook: This Podcast Is a Love Story, for Your Ears Only

Judith is voiced by Jessie Shelton (“Hadestown”) and Jase by Jonathan Groff (“Frozen,” “Hamilton”). Jase’s pet duck is uncredited, and if that duck dies a tragic, Éponine-esque death in the third act, hey, confit for all. As directed by Mr. Littler and Ms. Winter, Act I — which has already racked up 28,000 downloads and topped the charts at Pocket Cast — is disarmingly conversational and musically shrewd. The dialogue geeks out at times — O.K., a lot of the time — but the songs are booby-trapped with hooks. And the people crooning them into your earbuds feel bracingly, embraceably real.

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The new podcast “36 Questions” sets a standard for the future of musical theater.

“36 Questions” was conceived by Skip Bronkie and Zack Akers of Two-Up Productions — a team whose previous podcast effort, the creepy, distinctly unmusical “Limetown,” was an adrenaline cascade disguised as docudrama. So a romantic chamber musical must have felt like an obvious next step.

What makes the “36 Questions” project that much more surprising is that it’s very likely the first (mostly) serious musical of the podcast era and a gauntlet thrown to any composer daunted by the hassle and cost of a live production.

Plenty of radio dramas draw on theatrical forms, and lots of podcasts have strong musical components, from stalwarts like “Prairie Home Companion” to newer ones like the “Welcome to Night Vale” spinoff “The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air)” or Jemaine Clement’s “The Mysterious Secrets of Uncle Bertie’s Botanarium.”

As if Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t have enough accolades already, you can credit him with helping pioneer the podcast musical genre with “21 Chump Street,” a 14-minute, crazily likable piece he wrote for an episode of “This American Life.” A few longer entries have followed, like the episodic sci-fi series “Songonauts”; the “Serial” parody “Wait Wait Don’t Kill Me”; and the manically incomprehensible “The Fall of the House of Sunshine,” with songs by the composer Matthew roi Berger.

But “36 Questions” is a full-length and more or less traditional book musical written expressly for the podcast form. Ms. Winter and Mr. Littler, who play in a nerdcore group called Chamber Band and cite Stephen Sondheim and Esperanza Spalding as among their influences, had to learn how to write a musical and how to make that musical intelligible to the headphone set.

After all, not every musical would work as a podcast. “A Little Night Music” or “The Secret Garden”? Probably. “Miss Saigon” or “Starlight Express”? Probably not. And this differs from an original cast recording, a newly popular genre, in that it’s not a record of another phenomenon. The podcast is the thing itself.

“There was a big learning curve,” Mr. Littler said in a phone interview.

Ms. Winter added, “It was a lot of balancing the writing with the sound effects we were hearing and imagining.”

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Early on, they dismissed the easy out of having an external narrator, a typical podcast trope, and decided to loop the two singers’ voices into multipart harmonies to avoid the need for a chorus. After settling on a quiet mix of live and electronic instrumentation, they structured each episode as a series of voice memos that Judith records on her phone.

The result? A show that sounds like eavesdropping on a talky pair who just happen to vault into a tangy soprano and a boyish lyric tenor whenever emotions run high. It’s like having a front-row seat — or sitting even closer than that.

“Every breath and sigh and inhale and exhale reads on the microphone,” Mr. Groff said by telephone. “Everything is like a close-up on the voice. The microphone picks up everything, every vocal gesture.”

That’s a kind of intimacy that maybe only a command performance can offer. But a podcast can reach a lot more people than even a Broadway long-runner, without the lotteries, the rushes, the scalpers, the hurried preshow meals and obstructed views. It is free, and it sounds as if it was recorded just for you.

Two episodes in, “36 Questions” is a charmer. (I’ve even forgiven it for the duck. Mostly.) It’s made me greedy for the finale and for Ms. Winter and Mr. Littler to write for an actual wood-and-plaster stage. But it’s most exciting in the challenge it sets other composers to turn their treble clefs to podcasting. “This format works,” Mr. Littler said.

I’d like to think that listening to “36 Questions” will have musical theater writers asking themselves about the form. Maybe they’ll even fall in love.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/21/theater/36-questions-podcast-is-a-love-story-for-your-ears-only.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Another Williams Takes His Turn Before the Camera, at SNY

“I’ll make jokes and say to him, ‘Sorry about your rating tonight; everyone is going to be watching ‘Geico SportsNite’ on SNY,’” Doug said while laughing during an interview.

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“SportsNite” often goes head-to-head against some MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour,” the top-rated news show at 11 p.m. that happens to be hosted by Doug’s father, Brian Williams. Credit Harrison Hill/The New York Times

Unlike his father and his sister, Allison, who starred in “Girls” and “Get Out” and was swanning about in Tahiti this month with Bradley Cooper, Anderson Cooper and Diane von Furstenberg, Doug Williams has had, to date, a relatively small public following.

Despite being on television almost every day, he is not yet recognized on the street. He does not go to premiere parties or fashion shows. His postwork routine usually involves watching old episodes of “The Office,” not hitting the town.

“I like to say that I live a 30s life in my 20s,” he said. “I might be doing the Mets game on Sunday, but that means I have to watch the Mets on Saturday night.”

Though he hasn’t drawn much attention to his last name, look closely enough and the pieces fall into place: He has the deep-set eyes and square jaw of his sister, and he speaks with cadences strikingly similar to his father’s. He also shares a tendency to stretch out his left arm when behind the anchor desk. (The family calls it “the lean,” a longtime Brian Williams trademark.)

Celebrity, he insists, is not what he is chasing. It’s all about New York sports.

“I know that I’m not nearly toward the level of fame that they are,” he said. “Doesn’t bother me. It would be weird if I was considering the job and business that I’ve chosen. I enjoy being the ‘other one’ and living my own life — and figuring it out on my own.”

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The Williams’s family, from left, Brian, Allison, Jane and Douglas, at a party following the premiere of HBO’s “Girls” third season in January 2014. Allison Williams starred on the show. Credit Charles Sykes/Invision, via Associated Press

Williams grew up in New Canaan, Conn., a baseball junkie and a Yankees fan. (He promises not to have the same affinity for the Yankees now.) He spent summer days watching “SportsCenter” on repeat, hour after hour.

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After early hopes of becoming a big league pitcher failed to materialize, he set out to be a sports broadcaster. Upon graduating from Elon University in North Carolina, he got what he described as a “halfsie” job at the YES Network, another New York regional sports network. He worked for the network’s website and offered assistance if the television side needed some.

Though he would occasionally publish instant analysis of a significant sporting event on the network’s YouTube channel, he was itching to get on-air work when he received an email from an agent based in Atlanta. Williams wanted to know if the agent was credible, so he reached out to a family friend, Curt Gowdy Jr., an executive at SNY, whose daughters had played on a travel soccer team with Allison Williams when they were growing up.

Rather than provide a scouting report on the agent, Gowdy (who, as the son of the broadcaster Curt Gowdy, knows something about having a famous father) told Williams, then 23, to come in for a screen test.

“We put him through the washing machine, so to speak,” Gowdy said. “He really passed with flying colors.”

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Mr. Williams watching videos with his co-workers before going on air. Credit Harrison Hill/The New York Times

Williams joined SNY in November 2014, and started getting some on-air work. Before long he became a regular presence on “SportsNite,” and he now also hosts an off-season talk show called “Baseball Night in New York.”

He plans on sticking with sports — news is not his thing — and SNY is not a bad place to be. The network has been a successful breeding ground of talent, including Kevin Burkhardt (now a prominent announcer at Fox Sports) and Chris Cotter (now at ESPN).

“All those nights sitting at home watching Kenny Mayne, watching ‘SportsCenter,’ listening to Joe Morgan — he was listening the entire time, he was absorbing everything,” said Brian Williams, who watches his son almost every night, on DVR, of course. “Facts, figures, styles. And he formed it all into his own.”

“He is so far ahead of where I was at his age,” he continued.

Doug Williams allowed that he was listening to someone else, too.

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“I was just watching him; he was on, so I watched him for pretty much my whole life,” Doug said of his father. “There are parts about the way I do my job I’ve learned from him without realizing it.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/business/doug-brian-williams-sny.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Alan Moore Is Preparing a Six-Part Finale for Extraordinary Gentlemen

Watchmen was serialized from 1986 to 1987 and became a perennial best seller as a collected edition. But the series soured his relationship with DC Comics, who retained control over the characters, and who in 2012 rolled out a companion series, Before Watchmen. Mr. Moore did not support of the idea and thought Watchmen should stand on its own.

“There weren’t that many prequels or sequels to ‘Moby-Dick,’ he said in an interview about the project.

Things are less contentious with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which unites characters from across literature. The first iteration of the adventurers included Mina Murray, a victim of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”; the Invisible Man from H.G. Wells’s work of that name; Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde) from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”; and Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo from “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.” In 2011, The Guardian described the comics as “a blazing world of the imagination and one of the triumphs of recent British fiction.”

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The cover from “Century,” part of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. Credit Top Shelf Productions

The series also inspired a 2003 film starring Sean Connery as Allan Quatermain (from H. Rider Haggard’s “King Solomon’s Mines”) and was less beloved. A review in The New York Times described the movie as listless and “neither gentle nor extraordinary.” The film earned $66 million domestically and $179 million worldwide. Plans for a reboot were announced in 2015.

“I’ve always been glad that the collected editions probably made far more than the movie ever did,” Mr. O’Neill said, with some exaggeration. “It has been very good to us.” (Mr. Moore declined a request for comment.)

“The Tempest,” which is published by Top Shelf Productions and by Knockabout, will tie up loose ends from the previous volumes.

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Mr. O’Neill was reluctant to reveal any details in order to reserve surprises for readers. “When I was a kid, I could remember the delight of seeing Spider-Man for the first time,” he said. “Now everything is explored in great detail before it happens.”

Correction: July 20, 2017

An earlier version of this article misstated the box-office performance of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” The film earned $66 million domestically and $179 million worldwide, not $66,000 domestically and $179 worldwide.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/books/alan-moore-league-extraordinary-gentlemen.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bowie Knives and a Tick Head: Marketing Gets Elaborate at Comic-Con

HBO, for instance, is counting on the “Westworld” stunt to keep a pilot light on for that series, which concluded its first season in December and will not return for a second until next year.

To participate, fans register in the lobby of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. Then they receive the secret headquarters location of Delos, the fictional company behind Westworld, a theme park where wealthy visitors live out Wild West fantasies amid robot “hosts.” (It’s in a hotel on the other side of downtown.) Once inside, participants seem to step inside the show, with hosts preparing them for a trip inside the park.

And it is disorienting. In one room that looked a bit like a futuristic doctor’s office, I sat alone with a host who did a “psychological assessment” by asking questions like, “What percentage of your dreams are nightmares?”

“About 30 percent,” I answered honestly. The woman shot me a startled look. (Later, I quizzed participants about their answers, which turned out to be much lower. And then I went home and had a bad dream about having too many bad dreams.) Ultimately, the host gave my personality this appraisal: “You are strong-willed but not unhinged.” (I clearly fooled her.)

The experience ended with a trip inside the show’s saloon, complete with player piano and bartender hosts pouring cocktails. Everyone leaves wearing a cowboy hat.

Here are some other stunts planned for Comic-Con’s 2017 run, which concludes on Sunday.

‘Blade Runner’

Perhaps the most elaborate Comic-Con stunt of them all. To generate interest in “Blade Runner 2049,” arriving in theaters in October, Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. teamed with Johnnie Walker to replicate the movie’s futuristic setting — complete with an Oculus virtual reality experience, a neon-lit Los Angeles street scene, more than 50 props and vehicles from the film, and a cast of 34 actors in costume. The 12,800-square-foot exhibit, near the convention center, took a production team of 40 people working a full week to install, Warner said.

‘The Gifted’

To introduce fans to this new superhero series about human mutants, Fox set up a “gene screening station” outside the Hilton Bayfront. Participants must submit to swabbing inside their mouths (yes, seriously) and will later learn about their personal genetic profiles.

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‘Bright’

Netflix built an elaborate complex across from the convention center to promote several of its offerings, including this coming science-fiction film starring Will Smith. There are “Bright” sets and a related augmented reality experience. The complex also includes a “Stranger Things” virtual reality encounter and “The Defenders” costumes and sets.

‘The Tick’

Not to be outdone, Amazon has built a nearby pavilion dedicated to “The Tick,” a superhero action comedy, complete with fully constructed buildings from the series and a 20-foot-tall animatronic Tick head. (It’s blue with little antennas.) Amazon will also dispatch actors in Tick costumes as “street teams” designed to generate photos on social media sites.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/business/media/comic-con-marketing.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Review: ‘The Pulitzer at 100’ Celebrates Awards More Than Winners


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The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith, in “The Pulitzer at 100.” Credit First Run Features

Although the Pulitzer Prizes go to literature and drama, they still don’t recognize cinema. But adding movies to the list might only raise questions. Who would judge? Should fiction and documentary receive separate awards?

An excellent example of what not to award, however, comes from “The Pulitzer at 100,” an hour and a half of congratulatory platitudes timed to the prizes’ centennial. Although produced independently, this documentary, directed by Kirk Simon, plays as if the Pulitzers were presenting an award to themselves.

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Trailer: ‘The Pulitzer at 100’

A preview of the film.

By FIRST RUN FEATURES on Publish Date July 18, 2017. Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive. Watch in Times Video »

Past winners, including Wynton Marsalis, Paula Vogel, Tracy K. Smith and Tony Kushner, share insights on their writing processes and how the recognition has affected their careers. Celebrities like Natalie Portman and Martin Scorsese read from winning works, with which they are sometimes oddly paired.

The best anecdotes aren’t simple victory laps. Nicholas D. Kristof, a New York Times columnist, who received the award for his reporting on the Tiananmen Square democracy movement and his columns about the genocide in Darfur, notes “a certain irony in gaining from a surge in human misery.” Carol D. Leonnig of The Washington Post recounts her prizewinning coverage of Secret Service lapses. John Filo and Nick Ut explain how they photographed famous images of the Vietnam era. Reporters from The Times-Picayune recall Hurricane Katrina.

Yet couching these achievements in a testament to Joseph Pulitzer’s enduring genius seems trivializing. The novelist Michael Cunningham admits that a different jury might not have awarded his book “The Hours” (“another reason the prize goes into the sock drawer,” he says). More charitably, Junot Díaz says he is surprised by how often the prizes get it right.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/movies/the-pulitzer-at-100-review.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Meet My Dog, Barnaby, Aspiring Instagram ‘Pup-fluencer’

Because Barnaby refuses to pose or really do anything other than exactly what he wants, I figured the theme of @TheHoundBarnaby should be uncompromising realism.

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“Eating trash, staring at wall, peeing on floor,” I wrote for his profile — a breath of fresh air in a brandscape choked with pooches cutely cocking their heads at the camera or sitting at tables laden with Champagne flutes.

I told my plan to Loni Edwards, the founder of the Dog Agency, a firm that represents top Instagram pets.

Bad idea, she said. @TheHoundBarnaby needed to have “interests” that humans could relate to.

“If you’re trying to turn him into an influencer that brands are going to want to work with, the more humanized the better,” Ms. Edwards said. “For example, my dog’s themes are fashion, travel and charities.” Her dog, @chloetheminifrenchie, has 170,000 followers.

“Things that are unique help, too,” she added. “A lot of dogs have accidents and like to stare at things.”

Well. This was going to be tough. But all I could do was work with what Barnaby gave me.

We went for a walk. He grabbed a plastic wrapper — his favorite streetfood — before I could yank him away. Click! The wrapper said, “Oven Delights Strawberries and Cream Danish.” Product placement! I posted the photo and waited for sponsorship offers to roll in. I pictured a truck pulling up to our house with thousands of plastic snack wrappers. Nothing.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/insider/meet-my-dog-barnaby-aspiring-instagram-pup-fluencer.html?partner=rss&emc=rss