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Trevor Noah on Why Jon Stewart Left: ‘Too Angry to Laugh’

Jon Stewart has long said he’d tired of the grind on The Daily Show and that his “dissatisfaction” led to his 2015 departure. But in a recent behind-the-scenes chat with Stewart’s replacement, Trevor Noah, and other show staffers, Noah reveals Stewart was facing a stronger emotion than dissatisfaction. Noah says when he found out his boss was leaving, he confronted him to find out why, saying he’d fight for him if he was being forced out. But Stewart confessed he was “tired”—and more. “He said, ‘I’m angry all the time,‘“ Noah says. “‘I don’t find any of this funny. I do not know how to make it funny right now, and I don’t think the host of the show ... deserves a host who does not feel that it is funny.‘“

Stewart also told Noah to “relish the fact that you can make jokes about these things ... because there will come a day when you are too angry to laugh. But don’t rush to get there. You’re young and you’re fresh.“ Noah appears to have taken Stewart’s advice to heart. In an IndieWire interview last year, he said when people would ask him where his “rage” was, he’d answer: “Why would I be angry? What would my rage stem from?“ Instead, he noted, he wants to connect with his audience in a more neutral way. “I am selling you a home and a little space that we can share together to process what is happening in our lives,“ he said, adding that he prefers to replace “rage” with “an incredulousness.“ Watch the entire hourlong panel HERE (the relevant bit starts around 28:30.)

Clinton-Patterson Thriller Jumps to the Top on Amazon

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Bill Clinton’s debut novel had the year’s biggest opening so far for a work of fiction, reports the AP. The President is Missing, a thriller he co-wrote with James Patterson, sold 250,000 copies its first week. Alfred A. Knopf and Little, Brown and Co., the book’s co-publishers, announced Wednesday that the number includes hardcover, e-book, and audio sales. NPD BookScan, which tracks around 85% of print sales, reported sales of 152,000 copies. That’s BookScan’s top-selling fiction debut since the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which came out last fall, and biggest first week for adult fiction since Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman sold more than 700,000 hardcover copies in 2015. The book spent much of last week at No. 1 on Amazon.com and elsewhere despite some awkward and contentious moments in interviews with the former president. Clinton responded defensively to questions from NBC’s Craig Melvin about the #MeToo movement and whether he owes an apology to former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The novel begins with a president facing impeachment for supporting terrorism and tells of his efforts to thwart a potentially apocalyptic cyberattack. “By any measure, this was a terrific opening week of sales, one that exceeded even our own optimistic projections,“ Michael Pietsch, CEO of Little Brown’s parent company, Hachette Book Group, said in a statement. “Sales continue apace this week, with Father’s Day on the horizon.“ The novel combines Patterson’s long background in thrillers and Clinton’s perspective as a former president. Reviews ranged from mocking (“Reveals as many secrets about the US government as ‘The Pink Panther’ reveals about the French government,“ wrote Ron Charles in the Washington Post) to admiring. In the Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim called the book “beach reading of a high order.“

Study finds that film critics are almost 80 percent male

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Nearly 80 percent of film critics are male, according to a new study that analyzed the movie reviews to last year’s top box-office hits.

The research was conducted by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which released its findings Monday. Researchers studied the reviews of the 100 top-grossing films of 2017 that were posted on the aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.

Of the 19,559 reviews studied, 77.8 were by male critics and 22.2 were by female critics. Stacy Smith, founder and director of the Inclusion Initiative, said film critics are “overwhelmingly white and male.”

The lack of diverse critical perspectives, researchers said, contributes to the larger gender and ethnic biases in the film industry. The study counted 36 female-driven movies and 24 minority-led movies among the top 100 films of 2017, but found they were largely reviewed by white males.

Previous studies have charted the low numbers of female directors helming Hollywood’s most popular productions. USC has found that 4 percent of all directors from the 1,100 top films from 2007 to 2017 were female. Researchers at San Diego State University found that women directed 11 percent of 2017′s top 250 films, up from 7 percent the last year but the same percentage as in 2000.

“The very individuals who are attuned to the under- and misrepresentation of females on screen and behind the camera are often left out of the conversation and critiques,” Smith said.

Female critics from minority groups accounted for just 4.1 percent of reviews studied.

Smith urged “the publicity, marketing and distribution teams in moviemaking” to increase access and opportunity to women of color critics.

Marc Choueiti, the study’s lead author, also urged Rotten Tomatoes to re-examine its definition of a “top critic” (a designation given to some film critics) “or simply (cast) a wider net” to diversify voices.

An inside look at the writing, production of ‘The Simpsons’

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“Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons” (Dey Street Books), by Mike Reiss with Mathew Klickstein

When television’s longest-running cartoon show first hit the airwaves, most of its writers and producers gave it six weeks at best. The one optimist in the crew figured it might last 13 weeks.

That was nearly three decades and some 640 episodes ago. As the first prime-time cartoon show since “The Flintstones,” ″The Simpsons” has managed to maintain solid ratings, offer creatively offbeat humor and entertain viewers in dozens of countries across the globe.

Writer Mike Reiss was among those with little hope for the show’s prospects when he signed on in the late 1980s for want of better options to advance his comedy career. But concerns that the fledgling Fox Network might cancel the show vanished after it won effusive praise from critics and fans alike.

Reiss, a four-time Emmy winner who has been with “The Simpsons” for most of his career, gives readers a laugh-out-loud account of how the show came to be, the way episodes are developed, the voices behind the characters and a raft of Simpson trivia that may surprise the show’s most loyal fans.

Reiss, colleague Al Jean and a handful of other writers came to the show with a Harvard education and an immersion in comedy through their work on the “Harvard Lampoon.” While creator Matt Groening got the acclaim for the show’s success, Reiss credits the late Sam Simon for assembling the writers and setting the tone of “The Simpsons.”

Reiss’ book takes readers inside the writers’ room, where about a half-dozen people spend the workday pitching jokes. It’s part of a prolonged process that begins with a 45-page script and goes through the recordings by cast members, animation, editing and musical scoring. Each episode requires nine months and eight full rewrites to complete.

The author is often asked how a network as conservative as Fox came to embrace a show that can seem “liberal to the point of anarchy.” He explains that Fox, as a daring newcomer when the show debuted, gave the writers immense freedom. It also didn’t hurt that “The Simpsons” raked in big profits and that network founder Rupert Murdoch was a big fan.

The book is a treasure trove of anecdotes and interesting details about the show, which has even become a subject of study at many colleges. Half the production budget, or about $2 million per show, goes to cast members. A full orchestra participates in each week’s production, even though it would be cheaper to simulate sound with a synthesizer. The most popular foreign market for “The Simpsons” is Latin America, where it is dubbed into Spanish by a Mexican cast.

Over the years, the 725 guest stars have ranged from Stephen Hawking and three of the Beatles to Larry King, Joe Frazier and Elizabeth Taylor. The few who have turned down an invitation include Bruce Springsteen, Tom Cruise and every U.S. president from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama.

Reiss wades into the recent blowup over Apu, the Hindu convenience store clerk whose sing-song accent made the show a target amid allegations of racial stereotyping. The author suggests that “maybe after three decades, time has run out for Apu.”

Most of the show’s famous catchphrases are uttered by Bart — “cowabunga,” ″eat my shorts,” ″ay caramba” and “don’t have a cow” — but the most popular is Homer’s “D’oh,” which came about by chance. It was written in scripts as (ANNOYED GRUNT), but cast member Dan Castellaneta read it as “D’oh!” The rest is history.

This entertaining book is certain to resonate with devoted “Simpsons” viewers and even those who only watch the show sporadically. Who, after all, wouldn’t want to know why the characters are yellow or which of the nation’s many Springfields can claim the Simpson family as its own?

“The Simpsons” is rooted in the principles of family and folly, says Reiss, who is often peppered with questions about the show’s enduring popularity and when its long run might finally end. His reply: “The day people all over the world start treating each other with love, respect and intelligence.”

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