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Toronto Film Festival 2019: ‘Seberg’ a Missed Opportunity to Honor an Iconic Actress

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The intriguing story behind “Seberg” and the reliable talent of its lead actress, Kristen Stewart, promise greatness. But this biopic manages to squander both, reducing the film to a bland period piece with an irritating lack of focus.

Jean Seberg was an American actress best known for her role in a French film, the 1960 Jean-Luc Godard New Wave drama “Breathless.” But by the late 1960s, this film suggests, the bilingual performer was growing bored of acting and was enthralled with the activist politics of the era, particularly the Black Panthers. It made her a target of the FBI, which harassed her relentlessly. Given Stewart’s own move away from commercial Hollywood fare lately (“JT LeRoy,” “Personal Shopper”), it’s easy to see why she’d gravitate to the project.

On a transatlantic flight, Seberg offers to give up her first-class seats for Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X, and Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), his cousin. The interaction leads to an affair between Seberg and Jamal, both of whom are married, and to her being surveilled by the FBI and shot at by Jamal’s wife (Zazie Beetz, awfully briefly).

Director Benedict Andrews (“Una”) slogs the film along at a languid pace, cutting between Seberg’s life and the FBI men tasked with following and, ultimately, publicly humiliating the actress as part of the agency’s COINTELPRO program of the ’60s and ’70s, dedicated to disrupting domestic political dissidence.

Jean Seberg in 1958, two years before her breakout film "Breathless" was released.
Jean Seberg in 1958, two years before her breakout film “Breathless” was released.Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Vince Vaughn appears periodically as a short-tempered agent (though it’s hard to take him entirely seriously), while Jack O’Connell (“Unbroken”), as his partner, is more morally troubled by the agency’s treatment of Seberg — though not enough to stop it.

“Seberg” isn’t helped by its sometimes laughably uninspired screenplay. We’re told at the start that the actress was badly burned playing Joan of Arc in the 1957 Otto Preminger movie “Saint Joan,” which is later unsubtly echoed when someone warns her she’s “playing with fire.”

The government’s treatment of the iconic actress, who died young in an apparent suicide, is ripe for exploration on film — it’s too bad “Seberg,” despite Stewart’s best efforts, doesn’t do its namesake justice.

 

Kristen Stewart discusses balancing public and private life during Venice press conference for ‘Seberg’ SUBSCRIBE to our channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ETCanada… FOLLOW us here: http://www.etcanada.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/etcanada Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/etcanada Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/etcanada #KristenStewart #Seberg

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It: Chapter Two: Release Date, Cast, Plot, Theories, Rumors

Stephen King’s It crawled back onto the scene in 2017, when the first of two movie remakes came out. The second film, based like the first on King’s 1,100-page 1986 bestseller, isn’t a sequel — it’s a continuation of the plot, taking place 27 years after the first film. For It Chapter 2, members of the Losers Club from the first film have been recast with adult actors, though the young actors will also appear in flashback.

Early reviews

Here’s a look at some of the reviews that have already been released for the film, including CNET’s own.

The sequel trap

“While It Chapter 2 brings their story to a conclusive and largely satisfying end, it disappointingly walks right into the same trap as many sequels. Bloated with story ideas, characters and, most noticeably, running time — not to mention excessive CGI — Chapter 2 is at times harder to hang onto than an escaping balloon.”    — Jennifer Bisset, CNET

Kudos for the cast

The casting of the grown up versions of each character is very impressively done, with James McAvoy and Jay Ryan seeming to be the standouts — but that might be because their characters bear the most striking resemblance to their younger counterparts. Meanwhile, Bill Hader pours an impressive amount of heart into the film, despite being forced to try to add the comic relief endlessly, a task which lands most of the time.”    — Brandon Davis, ComicBook.com

First film was better

“The decision [to split the book into two movies] paid off beautifully for Chapter 1, transforming the cerebral novel into a Goonies-flavored coming-of-age adventure with a cast of magnetic, scrappy, lovable kids who faced off against a monster and learned all sorts of lessons about life, love, and friendship along the way. In Chapter 2, however, the cracks in the concept begin to show, and ultimately, the final chapter fails to maintain the spark of the first, succumbing to a dangerous cocktail of muddled timelines, poorly placed novel call-backs, and scattered focus.”    — Meg Downey, GameSpot.com

Nearly three hours is too long

“So what’s the problem? For starters, It: Chapter Two is an ass-numbing two hours and 50 minutes. That’s a good half-hour longer than Chapter One, proving the adage that less is definitely more. The dragging pace diminishes the film’s ability to hold us in its grip. There are endless flashbacks to the characters as kids, as if director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman didn’t trust the audience to have seen the first film and decided to squeeze the highlights into this one just in case.”    — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Trailers and teasers

A featurette released in early September includes some of the stars briefly talking about their roles.

Source: It: Chapter Two: Release date, cast, plot, theories, rumors – CNET

 

Joker Review: Joaquin Phoenix Overacts So Hard It’s No Fun

(FromL) German US actress Zazie Beetz, US actor Joaquin Phoenix and US director Todd Phillips attend a photocall for the film “Joker” on August 31, 2019 presented in competition during the 76th Venice Film Festival at Venice Lido. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s official. With Joker, Joaquin Phoenix is a certified graduate of the Acme Academy of Dramatic Arts. You want acting? Come and get it.

Skills on display include but are not limited to leering, jeering, airhorn-style blasts of laughter timed for maximum audience discomfort, funky-chicken style dance moves, the occasional blank, dead stare and assorted moony expressions indicating soulful lonerism.

But don’t for a minute think Phoenix isn’t funny, too. They say you never forget Clowning 101, and Phoenix hasn’t: He hops around like an unhinged Emmett Kelly, twisting his physique into weird and unsettling shapes. His body has a rubbery angularity, like a chicken bone soaked in Coca-Cola.

In Joker — playing in competition here at the Venice Film Festival — Phoenix is acting so hard you can feel the desperation throbbing in his veins. He leaves you wanting to start him a GoFundMe, so he won’t have to pour so much sweat into his job again. But the aggressive terribleness of his performance isn’t completely his fault. (He has often been, and generally remains, a superb actor. Just not here.)

Director Todd Phillips — who made frat-boy comedies like Road Trip and Old School before graduating to dude-bro comedies like The Hangover movies — bears at least some of the blame, and the aggressive and possibly irresponsible idiocy of Joker overall is his alone to answer for. Phillips may want us to think he’s giving us a movie all about the emptiness of our culture, but really, he’s just offering a prime example of it.

Joker is a stand-alone origin story that dovetails with, but does not strictly follow, DC Universe Batman lore. Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck — he’ll later become one of Batman’s nemeses, the Joker, in case you didn’t already know that — is an odd, lonely guy who lives at home with the mother (played by a wan Frances Conroy) he love-hates.

Arthur works for a sad rent-a-clown joint, and nothing ever goes right. This is clear from the moment we meet him: he’s tense, nervous and he can’t ever relax. The movie is set in a Gotham City that’s a lazy approximation of gritty 1970s-era New York, complete with garbage strikes and “super-rats” overrunning the city. On the job in clown costume, Arthur gets beaten up by a mob of nasty punks — and then almost gets fired because they stole and broke the “going out of business sign” he was twirling for a client.

More bad stuff happens, day in, day out. He gets angrier and more isolated by the minute. No one is ever kind to Arthur; he’s the world’s saddest punching bag.

When the city’s social services close down, he can no longer receive counseling there, or get his meds. (He carries around a little laminated card that he holds out helpfully whenever he laughs inappropriately, which is pretty much all the time. It reads, “Forgive my laughter, I have a brain injury.”) The one bright spot of his day, or night, is watching a Johnny Carson-style talk-show host, Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), on television. He dreams of being a stand-up comic and someday being on the show. His wish will come true, but life will have beaten the poor lad down interminably before then.

As you can probably guess, all of Arthur’s travails are leading up to a series of “See what you made me do?” brutalities, most of which happen while he’s dressed up in his clown suit. Violence makes him feel more in control, less pathetic. Killing — usually with a gun, but scissors or a good old-fashioned suffocation will do just fine — empowers him.

But it’s not as if we don’t know how this pathology works: In America, there’s a mass shooting or attempted act of violence by a guy like Arthur practically every other week. And yet we’re supposed to feel some sympathy for Arthur, the troubled lamb; he just hasn’t had enough love. Before long, he becomes a vigilante folk hero — his first signature act is to kill a trio of annoying Wall Street spuds while riding the subway, which inspires the masses to don clown masks and march enthusiastically around the city with “Kill the Rich!” placards.

Arthur also tries to work out a personal beef with rich asshat and aspiring city mayor Thomas Wayne, father of you-know-who. Because, it turns out, Arthur has some daddy issues too. Who would have guessed?

Joker — which was written by Phillips and Scott Silver — doesn’t have a plot; it’s more like a bunch of reaction GIFs strung together. When Arthur gets fired from his clown job, he struts by the time-clock, deadpans, “Oh no, I forgot to punch out” and then, wait for it, socks it so hard it dangles from the wall. Make a note of the moment, because you’ll be seeing it a lot in your Twitter and Facebook feeds.

The movie’s cracks — and it’s practically all cracks — are stuffed with phony philosophy. Joker is dark only in a stupidly adolescent way, but it wants us to think it’s imparting subtle political or cultural wisdom. Just before one of his more violent tirades, Arthur muses, “Everybody just screams at each other. Nobody’s civil anymore.” Who doesn’t feel that way in our terrible modern times? But Arthur’s observation is one of those truisms that’s so true it just slides off the wall, a message that both the left and the right can get behind and use for their own aims. It means nothing.

Meanwhile, the movie lionizes and glamorizes Arthur even as it shakes its head, faux-sorrowfully, over his violent behavior. There’s an aimless subplot involving a neighbor in Arthur’s apartment building, played by Zazie Beetz, in an underdeveloped role. (Beetz also appears in another movie here at the festival, Benedict Andrews’s Seberg, where she’s given much more to do.) Arthur has a crush on her, and though he does her no harm, there’s still something creepily entitled about his attentiveness to her. He could easily be adopted as the patron saint of incels.

Arthur is a mess, but we’re also supposed to think he’s kind of great — a misunderstood savant. Dressed up for his big TV moment in a turquoise paisley shirt, marigold vest and dapper cranberry suit (admittedly a marvelous feat of costume design), Arthur struts down an outdoor stairway like a rock’n’roll hero. It’s the most energizing moment in the movie, but what is it winding us up for? Arthur inspires chaos and anarchy, but the movie makes it look like he’s starting a revolution, where the rich are taken down, the poor get everything they need and deserve, and the sad guys who can’t get a date become killer heroes. There’s a sick joke in there somewhere. Unfortunately, it’s on us.

By Stephanie Zacharek

Source: Joker Review: Joaquin Phoenix Overacts So Hard It’s No Fun | Time

Best Movies To Watch

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.jpg

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It’s Alive! Facebook’s Surprising Video Standout Is A Horror Movie Startup

Like a proud parent, Jack Davis has covered the refrigerator in his Wilshire Boulevard office with artwork. But these aren’t crayon-drawn stick figures of Mom and Dad. They’re the stuff of nightmares—a demonic entity with shark teeth, a cannibal with thorns sprouting from his head, a tree that likes to disembowel its victims.

The gruesome creatures crawled out of the imagination of Davis’ Crypt TV, a digital studio that aspires to become the Marvel of monsters for mobile. Davis, 27, has raised $11 million from investors including Hollywood producer Jason Blum (Us, Ma), media mogul Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital, Huffington Post cofounder Kenneth Lerer and NBCUniversal. The four-year-old Los Angeles studio, which creates horror videos for social networks, is on track to bring in about $20 million in revenue this year through production deals, running ads for films like Crawl and selling merchandise.

When he started, “no one was doing scary for mobile,” Davis says. That signaled a missed opportunity. “This is a huge genre. It has a solid fan base, and scary movies are very, very big.”

The Golden Age of streaming has birthed Netflix competitors that cater to nearly every genre, from U.K. shows on Britbox to anime on Crunchyroll and, yes, horror on Shudder and Screambox. At the same time, studios like Elisabeth Murdoch’s Vertical Networks have built audiences that are reached primarily through mobile-first social networks such as Snapchat and Instagram, which more than a billion people visit each month.

Davis and Crypt TV cofounder Eli Roth, the film director and producer who developed Netflix’s first horror series, Hemlock Grove, bet that an audience who loved films like Jordan Peele’s Oscar-nominated Get Out would snap up suspense and horror on the small screen, too.

It’s an intuition that’s paying off. Crypt TV said on Friday that it had reached a deal with Facebook to develop five series exclusively for Facebook Watch, its on-demand video service. The deal extends a partnership started in 2018, when Facebook green-lighted a 15-episode series based on Crypt’s short film The Birch.

Facebook has been paying as much as $25 million for these original shows, though the bulk of them cost $3 to $5 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. Forbes estimates the new Crypt TV deal is valued at less than $20 million. Neither party would disclose the terms of the partnership.

Facebook might seem an unlikely place to screen monster movies for Generation Z and younger Millennials, who make up nearly half of Crypt TV’s audience. One Pew Research Center survey last year found that the world’s largest social network is no longer the most popular hangout for teens, a big drop from earlier in the decade. Plus, Facebook Watch has struggled to gain traction. A year after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched Watch to better compete with Google’s YouTube and Snapchat’s Discover, only half of Facebook users had ever heard of it, says The Diffusion Group, a media research consultancy.

Still, momentum is gathering for shows that capitalize on the network’s power to amass communities to talk about shared interests—say, Jada Pinkett Smith’s talk show, Red Table Talk, or Sorry for Your Loss, a drama on grief starring Elizabeth Olsen. Facebook says more than 140 million people each day spend at least a minute viewing Watch videos.

“It’s very hard to say that a platform … (of) two-plus billion people on it doesn’t have young people on it,” says Matthew Henick, Facebook’s head of content planning and strategy. “What Crypt does incredibly well is—because they’re able to tell their stories through many different modes or, in this case, products—they’re able to find those audiences and pull them in.”

Crypt TV taps into a community that likes to be scared. Horror has been reeling in fans on the big screen: The genre brought in a record $1 billion in box office sales in 2017, according to Comscore.

Some fans want to get their goose bumps for free. Thanks to The Birch, which was viewed 26 million times on Facebook, the studio now has 9.75 million followers, or more than triple its YouTube audience. On Davis’ fridge hang mementos from fans. One shared a photo of her tattoo—it’s of the Look-see, a creature with no eyes and flesh that’s been stitched together.

“Young people have so much emotion,” Davis says. A scary story “provides an amazing, permissive structure to take on deep emotional issues.”

A fortuitous encounter at a dinner party hosted by his parents in West Los Angeles led to the creation of Crypt TV. Then a student at Duke University, Davis found himself sitting next to Roth and began reciting dialogue from Roth’s portrayal of the bat-wielding Nazi killer Donny Donowitz in Inglourious Basterds.

The conversation turned to Davis’ career plans. The sociology and political science major said he hoped to launch his own company, capitalizing on the dramatic shift in media viewing habits he’d observed during his four years in college. Roth had a suggestion.

“I said, ‘You know that audience that’s going to see horror movies now’—because obviously now horror has exploded—‘They’re all on their phones,’” Roth recalls. “What is the next generation of characters? Who is creating the new Freddy Krueger? Is there a way to launch a Freddy? A Jason? A Michael Myers? A Chucky? Just on your phone?”

Roth introduced him to Blum, who became Crypt TV’s earliest investor and served as a mentor to the company’s 23-year-old founder.

An early success was #6SecondScare, an October 2014 online competition that encouraged users of Vine, Twitter’s six-second video service, to upload their scariest videos.

Roth lent his name to the contest and coaxed Hollywood celebrities including Quentin Tarantino and High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens to promote it and serve as judges. #6SecondScare attracted 20,000 submissions and ended up featured on ABC’s Good Morning America.

In the summer of 2015, Davis’ team launched Snapchat Murder Mystery, a show that gathered ten social media influencers to a mansion party, then killed off their characters in an Agatha Christie-styled whodunit. A year later came Crypt TV’s breakthrough moment with The Birch. The four-minute video follows a terrified schoolboy who summons an ancient being in the woods to dispense a particularly bloody form of retribution on the boy’s tormentor.

Davis faces his own monster lurking in the dark: Quibi. The mobile video subscription service comes with a Hollywood pedigree, a $1 billion cash horde and some of the best-known filmmakers in horror, Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth) and Sam Raimi (Evil Dead), as well as Blum, producing original content.

Quibi launches in April—though Crypt TV, in classic horror film fashion, has gotten a running start.

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a Los Angeles-based senior editor for Forbes, writing about the companies and people behind the biggest disruption in entertainment since cable TV: streaming video

Source: It’s Alive! Facebook’s Surprising Video Standout Is A Horror Movie Startup

Meet The Indian-American Host Of Netflix’s STEM Series ‘Brainchild’

Netflix’s new show Brainchild offers a refreshing take on science “edutainment,” but with a twist: The lead is a woman of color.

In the 13-episode first season, released November 2018, the show’s Indian-American host, Sahana Srinivasan, explores STEM-focused topics, ranging from the science of selfies to the rationale behind the widely held “five-second-rule.” Created in partnership with hip-hop mogul Pharrell Williams, the show features a diverse cast that’s intended to appeal to girls and minorities.

Srinivasan, 22, understands the gravity of her highly visible role, one in which she discusses STEM, a field where women and people of color have historically been scarce.

“It’s important, at a young age, to see a role model who looks like you, especially for kids who want to go into STEM,” she says. “When people don’t see themselves represented, they think, ‘What’s the point of even trying?’ and it becomes a cyclical thing with no real progress.”

Mounting evidence suggests that early exposure to STEM drives continued interest into adulthood. As a result, minority on-screen representation can have a strong impact on how children view their future career prospects.

Thanks to the success of Hollywood blockbusters and television programs that feature diverse casts, representation of women and minorities in leading roles has increased over the years. Yet these communities remain underrepresented in media across the board, according to the 2019 Hollywood Diversity report released by UCLA. Though minorities constitute nearly 40% of the U.S. population, they represent roughly 21% of broadcast scripted leads, cable scripted leads and digital scripted leads.

With STEM-forward shows, in particular, women of color leads are few and far between. The two most renowned science education shows for children, Bill Nye the Science Guy and Beakman’s World, feature older white men; popular cartoons like Dexter’s Laboratory and Jimmy Neutron follow the adventures of white, boy-genius inventors; and science-oriented sitcoms geared to adults, such as  Silicon Valley and Big Bang Theory, have white, male leads. When women and people of color are introduced, they often adhere to clichéd cultural tropes, such as the nerdy, virginal Asian-American male or the socially awkward, unattractive female.

Indian-American actress Sahana Srinivasan stars in the Netflix original series Brainchild.”Atomic Entertainment

Relatability is at the heart of Brainchild, Srinivasan says, and her depiction on the show is very much intentional. She eschews the conventional white lab coat in favor of quirky hipster glasses, bold lipstick colors and a changing array of hairstyles—sometimes pigtails, sometimes an updo. The same goes for her castmates, who sport hoodies, skinny jeans and afros.

“A show like this reminds people that science is pretty cool, and it’s not at all nerdy or lame to be curious about these topics,” Srinivasan says. “It tells kids that you don’t have to embody this specific version of what a scientist or researcher should look like.”

http://www.forbes.com/video/6023955335001/

Still in college—she’s a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, studying radio, television and film—Srinivasan wants to dismantle the conventional idea that art and science are mutually exclusive. When she was growing up in Dallas, she took part in local talent shows and performed skits, comedy routines and classical Indian dances. But she never saw STEM fields as a viable career option. “I was so focused on the creative endeavors that I thought that’s all I’ll ever be able to do,” Srinivasan says. “And it’s totally a myth and not true.”

Initially, Srinivasan didn’t realize the impact her role could have on young women of color—and indeed was concerned about being pigeonholed because of her ethnic background and gender. “The show doesn’t really stereotype me. The fact that I’m quirky, funny and passionate stands out more than the fact that I’m Indian and a woman,” she says. But for fans of the show, its diverse representation serves as a source of inspiration, both in the arts and in science. “The feedback, especially from young girls of color, has been awesome,” Srinivasan says. “The cast is very much a true reflection of what we see in real life.”

I’m a reporter covering the various aspects of diversity and inclusion in business and society at large. Previously, I was a reporter at CNBC, where I focused on leader

Source: Meet The Indian-American Host Of Netflix’s STEM Series ‘Brainchild’

Fan Bingbing’s Mysterious Disappearance: What It Means For China’s Elite – Steve Rose

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Imagine if Jennifer Lawrence or Scarlett Johansson went missing and nobody knew where they had gone – even three months later. That is what happened to Fan Bingbing. Fan is one of China’s best known and highest-paid actors, thanks to a string of domestic hits such as Cell Phone and Double Xposure, and small roles in Iron Man 3 and X-Men: Days of Future Past. The 37-year-old was on the jury of the Cannes film festival last year, and is set to star in a new thriller opposite Jessica Chastain and Penelope Cruz. On 2 July this year she posted details of a visit to a children’s hospital in Tibet on Weibo (China’s answer to Twitter). Then her account went dead, leaving her 63 million followers, and pretty much the rest of China, wondering where she had gone…….

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/oct/04/fan-bingbing-mysterious-disappearance-chinese-film-star-elite

 

 

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$400M Fiction Giant Wattpad Wants To Be Your Literary Agent – Hayley C. Cuccinello

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It took a less than an hour in 2013 for Anna Todd to change her life. The Army wife and part-time babysitter had spent a lot of time reading fan fiction, stories by amateur writers about existing fictional universes and real-life celebrities. So her erotic tale about Tessa and Hardin—a wholesome college freshman and a tattooed bad boy who is a thinly veiled stand-in for singer Harry Styles—came together quickly when she sat down to typed the first chapter of After on her phone. Todd posted it to Wattpad, one of the world’s largest destinations for online reading and writing……

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/hayleycuccinello/2018/09/24/400m-fiction-giant-wattpad-wants-to-be-your-literary-agent/

 

 

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Apple Is Deleting Bought Films From iTunes Accounts – And Don’t Expect A Refund – John Archer

 

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You know how some people like to say that physical media is dead and streaming is the future? Well, Apple is doing a pretty good job right now of proving that theory well and truly wrong. Reports have started to emerge of Apple completely deleting films from iTunes accounts even when they’ve been bought, not merely rented. And when people complain about this, they’re receiving an astonishing message from Apple telling them that iTunes is just a store front……

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnarcher/2018/09/13/apple-is-deleting-bought-films-from-itunes-accounts-and-dont-expect-a-refund/#53317f1b5f74

 

 

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Hulu, not Netflix, is the first streaming service to win the Emmy for best drama series

The Emmys were supposed to be a showdown between HBO and Netflix, but it was Hulu that emerged from the evening as the biggest winner. Hulu became the first streaming service to win an Emmy for best drama when The Handmaid’s Tale took home the night’s top prize, beating rival Netflix to the punch despite…

via Hulu, not Netflix, is the first streaming service to win the Emmy for best drama series — Quartz

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