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2013 | 2012 | 2011

3 items from 2013


Where Are the Laughs? A Farewell to Live Audiences and Laugh Tracks

29 September 2013 2:00 AM, PDT | Scott Feinberg | See recent Scott Feinberg news »

By Jason Rothberg

Contributor

* * *

Before laughter started pouring out of our TV sets from live studio audiences and pre-recorded laugh tracks, there were claquers. Claquers were members of an organized group of professional audience members, called a claque, who were paid by theatre and opera owners to attend performances and sweeten the reception of whatever was playing. By the 1830s, a theatre manager could order a certain number of claquers to attend a performance, with some being hired to lead applause, others to laugh at jokes, and some to hold handkerchiefs to their eyes and summon fake tears. Why would a theatre owner pay people to react as they deem appropriate? For the same reason we’ve had live audiences and laugh tracks projecting laughter into our homes from I Love Lucy to The Big Bang Theory: because laughter can be infectious.

Up until the late 1950s, the laughter »

- Jason Rothberg

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The Remarkable Comeback of the Television Miniseries

21 September 2013 1:48 PM, PDT | Scott Feinberg | See recent Scott Feinberg news »

By Mark Pinkert

Contributor

***

Until recently, the television miniseries seemed to be a dying artform. During the first decade of the 21st century, Band of Brothers (2002) was the only miniseries to receive broad critical and public acclaim. And by 2011, the Television Academy struggled so mightily to fill its outstanding miniseries Emmy category with worthy releases — nominating only four films in 2009 and 2010, respectively — that it eventually decided to combine it with its television movies category in 2011. Since 2011, though, the miniseries has surged back to life. Among others, BBC America’s Luther (2010-2011), HBO’s Mildred Pierce (2011) and History’s Hatfields & McCoys (2012) proved to be giant hits, garnering attention not just from critics but also from massive audiences, and helped to breathe new life into the genre.

The 2013 Primetime Emmys, which air this Sunday, includes among its nominees some of the most widely-seen and/or acclaimed miniseries of all-time: FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum, »

- Mark Pinkert

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On ‘Orange Is the New Black’ and the New Age of TV Binge-Watching

17 September 2013 10:41 PM, PDT | Scott Feinberg | See recent Scott Feinberg news »

By Jason Rothberg

Contributor

***

I love Orange is the New Black, but it’s tearing my family apart. Every day, my mom hits me with that look that says, “I know you watched six episodes without me last night.” Sure, I’d promised we’d watch it together, but cut me some slack. You went to work and I was left alone. Just me and unhindered access to nearly 13 hours of enigmatic characters and ambiguous morality, delivered to my doorstep by Jenji Kohan and Netflix without even asking for a tip for arriving in less than 30 minutes. It sounds perfect, but my problem is that I’m a goldfish at heart: toss too many flakes in the bowl and I’ll be gorged by morning.

Before the rise of DVR, home viewers had very limited ability to dictate their television watching experience. They could dim the lights and turn up »

- Jason Rothberg

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2013 | 2012 | 2011

3 items from 2013


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