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Hollywood Had Questions. Apple Didn’t Answer Them.

CUPERTINO, Calif. — A delegation from Los Angeles trekked 300 miles to Apple’s campus armed with questions.Questions like: How much will viewers be charged for the coming slate of Apple programming? When will the shows be released? How will they be marketed?There were plenty of famous people onstage during the nearly two-hour presentation streamed live on Monday from the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif., and plenty of skillful corporate stagecraft — but when it was all over, Hollywood’s main questions had gone unanswered.While entertainment veterans are rooting for the company to succeed in its new venture, they still need a little more convincing before they will…

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The Anxiety of Having a Famous Follower on Twitter

June 23, 2018, was a momentous day in the online life of Laura Pittenger, a New York playwright with roughly 1,200 Twitter followers. That was when the actor John Cusack, who has more than 1.6 million followers, retweeted her and followed her back.Ms. Pittenger was happy to have a celebrity follower. Then came the anxiety.“Honestly, I had a moment of paralysis,” Ms. Pittenger said. “I thought, ‘Why would he follow me?’ I was basically a nervous wreck that he was following me at all.”Mr. Cusack, whose three-decade career has included starring roles in “Say Anything,” “High Fidelity” and “Hot Tub Time Machine,” followed Ms. Pittenger after she…

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Wait —: Wait — Is Qai Qai America’s Most Important Doll?

“Wait —” is a weekly newsletter in which Caity Weaver investigates an unanswered (and possibly unasked) question in the news and pop culture. See last week’s inaugural edition and sign up here to receive it in your inbox going forward.One spring evening in 1901, a doctor in Massachusetts laid a tuberculosis-stricken man on a wooden platform so that the doctor could watch him die, and hopefully calculate the weight of his soul. For three hours and 40 minutes, Duncan MacDougall recalibrated his scales by fractions of ounces as the dying man’s nose and mouth dried out, and his last sweat evaporated off his skin. At the moment…

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The Shift: How YouTube’s Year-in-Review ‘Rewind’ Video Set Off a Civil War

You might guess that a surefire way to make a hit video on YouTube would be to gather a bunch of YouTube megastars, film them riffing on some of the year’s most popular YouTube themes and release it as a year-in-review spectacular.You would be wrong.YouTube tested that theory this week, releasing its annual “YouTube Rewind” year-end retrospective. The eight-minute video was a jam-packed montage of YouTube meta-humor, featuring a who’s-who of YouTube stars (Ninja! The Try Guys! Bongo Cat!) along with conventional celebrities (Will Smith! Trevor Noah! John Oliver!). The video was slickly produced and wholesome, with lots of references to the popular video game Fortnite, shout-outs…

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Priyanka Chopra Is a Tech Investor, Too

Ms. Chopra emphasized her support for Holberton’s mission to educate people from underprivileged backgrounds. Her investments will skew heavily toward companies with an element of social impact, and companies founded by women.“I don’t want to just be one of those people who’s like, ‘Yeah, I want to be on the tech bandwagon — how are they making so much money,’” she said, surveying the Holberton work space in a cream pantsuit and snakeskin stilettos. “It’s not about that.”Ms. Chopra has worked with Unicef to advocate for children since 2006, focused mostly on developing nations. But a dinner conversation with Ms. Acharia around the time of the 2016…

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How Instagram Rose Into a Cultural Powerhouse

AdvertisementInstagram’s co-founders, who resigned on Monday, presided over a company that boomed with help from technological advances and societal changes.Sept. 25, 2018When Justin Bieber posted on Instagram for the first time in July 2011, he did not enthrall his army of fans with a shirtless selfie or a meticulously planned photo shoot. He just wanted to complain about traffic in Los Angeles. Out of focus. Mundane scenery. Not particularly artful. No matter. These were the early days of Instagram, before smartphones included cameras that could produce higher quality images than the point-and-shoots of yore. Most celebrities now, some with tens of millions of followers, put far more…

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The Big Secret of Celebrity Wealth (Is That No One Knows Anything)

Near the end of the debate between New York governor Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon, his Democratic primary challenger, one of the moderators prefaced a question to Ms. Nixon by referencing her net worth. “Given your personal wealth, reported to be in the tens of millions of dollars — ” CBS anchorman Maurice DuBois started before Ms. Nixon interrupted: “ — which is not true.”“It’s been reported,” he said. “You can’t trust Google,” Ms. Nixon said, knowing everyone does.The net worth of Cynthia Nixon, who would go on to lose that primary, has indeed been reported at $60 million. It’s been reported by the New York Observer,…

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In Twitter Purge, Top Accounts Lose Millions of Followers

Many celebrities, politicians and so-called social media influencers found their Twitter followings knocked down a few digits on Thursday as the company slashed tens of millions of suspicious accounts from the totals.For example, the actor Ashton Kutcher, an active member since the company’s early days who led many other celebrities to embrace the platform, saw his follower count drop by more than a million. On Wednesday afternoon, he had 19.1 million. By Thursday evening, that was down to 18 million, a drop of nearly 6 percent.Oprah Winfrey, who sent her inaugural tweet in 2009, had her following cut by about 1.4 million between Wednesday and Thursday evening.…

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Oprah, Is That You? On Social Media, the Answer Is Often No.

To get a sense of the scale of the problem, The New York Times commissioned an analysis to tally the number of impersonators across social media for the 10 most followed people on Instagram, including Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. The analysis, conducted by Social Impostor, a firm that protects celebrities’ names online, found nearly 9,000 accounts across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pretending to be those 10 people.Brazilian soccer player Neymar was the subject of the most fake accounts, 1,676. Pop star Selena Gomez was second, with 1,389, according to the analysis, which was completed in April and did not count explicit parody or fan pages. Beyoncé had…

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Can This Exclusive Dating App Install a Wondrous Utopia While Also Helping Celebrities Hook Up?

So, yes, Raya is less superficial than its reputation would suggest. But surely Mr. Gendelman would admit that attractiveness and notoriety play some role in its criteria for admission. Consider, I said, my nonexistent Uncle Tony — a hypothetical terrible-looking old man with no public profile and no Instagram following to speak of. If he applied to Raya, he’d be an automatic rejection, right?Mr. Gendelman shook his head. “Is Tony decently interesting? Is he passionate?” he asked. “I’m not kidding — we’re interested in curating digital dinner parties, so to speak, and that comes in all forms.”Among the Carb EnthusiastsAfter we met, Mr. Gendelman gave me my…

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