WATCH: The Anti-Authoritarian Politics of Harry Potter

Source: Foundation for Economic Education

JK Rowling’s wizarding world isn’t all wands, charms, and transfigurations. The magical universe inhabited by characters like Harry Potter and Newt Scamander is rife with the dangerous incompetence of adults, unchecked corruption, and appalling abuses of power, and not just by Voldemort or Grindelwald.

The Best Stan Lee Characters We’ll Never Forget

Source: list25

When you think of Marvel Comics, chances are you instantly think of Stan Lee and his characters. Sadly, as you might have heard, Lee passed away recently at the age of 95. His millions of fans will miss greatly him. For many, Lee will live on forever in the characters he created. What better way to honor him than by remembering the characters we’ll never forget?

Stan Lee, Marvel Comics’ Real-Life Superhero, Dies at 95 (Plus His Top 10 Greatest Comics)

By Mike Barnes | The Hollywood Reporter

The feisty writer, editor and publisher was responsible for such iconic characters as Spider-Man, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther and the Fantastic Four — ’nuff said.

Stan Lee, the legendary writer, editor and publisher of Marvel Comics whose fantabulous but flawed creations made him a real-life superhero to comic book lovers everywhere, has died. He was 95.

Lee, who began in the business in 1939 and created or co-created Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and Ant-Man, among countless other characters, died early Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a source told The Hollywood Reporter.

Lee’s final few years were tumultuous. After Joan, his wife of 69 years, died in July 2017, he sued executives at POW! Entertainment — a company he founded in 2001 to develop film, TV and video game properties — for $1 billion alleging fraud, then abruptly dropped the suit weeks later. He also sued his ex-business manager and filed for a restraining order against a man who had been handling his affairs. (Lee’s estate is estimated to be worth as much as $70 million.) And in June 2018, it was revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department had been investigating reports of elder abuse against him.

On his own and through his work with frequent artist-writer collaborators Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko (who died in July) and others, Lee catapulted Marvel from a tiny venture into the world’s No. 1 publisher of comic books and, later, a multimedia giant.

In 2009, The Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion, and most of the top-grossing superhero films of all time — led by Avengers: Infinity War‘s $2.05 billion worldwide take earlier this year — have featured Marvel characters.

“I used to think what I did was not very important,” he told the Chicago Tribune in April 2014. “People are building bridges and engaging in medical research, and here I was doing stories about fictional people who do extraordinary, crazy things and wear costumes. But I suppose I have come to realize that entertainment is not easily dismissed.”

Lee’s fame and influence as the face and figurehead of Marvel, even in his nonagenarian years, remained considerable.

Beginning in the 1960s, the irrepressible and feisty Lee punched up his Marvel superheroes with personality, not just power. Until then, comic book headliners like those of DC Comics were square and well-adjusted, but his heroes had human foibles and hang-ups; Peter Parker/Spider-Man, for example, fretted about his dandruff and was confused about dating. The evildoers were a mess of psychological complexity.

“His stories taught me that even superheroes like Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk have ego deficiencies and girl problems and do not live in their macho fantasies 24 hours a day,” Gene Simmons of Kiss said in a 1979 interview. “Through the honesty of guys like Spider-Man, I learned about the shades of gray in human nature.”

(Kiss made it to the Marvel pages, and Lee had Simmons bleed into a vat of ink so the publisher could say the issues were printed with his blood.)

The Manhattan-born Lee wrote, art-directed and edited most of Marvel’s series and newspaper strips. He also penned a monthly comics column, “Stan’s Soapbox,” signing off with his signature phrase, “Excelsior!”

His way of doing things at Marvel was to brainstorm a story with an artist, then write a synopsis. After the artist drew the story panels, Lee filled in the word balloons and captions. The process became known as “The Marvel Method.”

Lee collaborated with artist-writer Kirby on the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Silver Surfer and X-Men. With artist-writer Ditko he created Spider-Man and the surgeon Doctor Strange, and with artist Bill Everett came up with the blind superhero Daredevil.

Such collaborations sometimes led to credit disputes: Lee and Ditko reportedly engaged in bitter fights, and both receive writing credit on the Spider-Man movies and TV shows. “I don’t want anyone to think I treated Kirby or Ditko unfairly,” he told Playboy magazine in April 2014. “I think we had a wonderful relationship. Their talent was incredible. But the things they wanted weren’t in my power to give them.”

Like any Marvel employee, Lee had no rights to the characters he helped create and received no royalties.

In the 1970s, Lee importantly helped push the boundaries on censorship in comics, delving into serious and topical subject matter in a medium that had become mindless, kid-friendly entertainment.

In 1954, the publication of psychologist Frederic Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent had spurred calls for the government to regulate violence, sex, drug use, questioning of public authority figures, etc., in the comics as a way to curtail “juvenile delinquency.” Wary publishers headed that off by forming the Comics Code Authority, a self-censoring body that while avoiding the heavy hand of Washington still wound up neutering adult interest in comics and stereotyping the medium as one only kids would enjoy.

Lee scripted banal scenarios with characters like Nellie the Nurse and Tessie the Typist, but in 1971, he inserted an anti-drug storyline into “The Amazing Spider-Man” in which Peter Parker’s best friend Harry Osborn popped pills. Those issues, which did not carry the CCA “seal of approval” on the covers, became extremely popular, and later, the organization relaxed some of its guidelines.

Born Stanley Martin Lieber on Dec. 28, 1922, he grew up poor in Washington Heights, where his father, a Romanian immigrant, was a dress-cutter. A lover of adventure books and Errol Flynn movies, Lee graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School, joined the WPA Federal Theatre Project, where he appeared in a few stage shows, and wrote obituaries.

In 1939, Lee got a job as a gofer for $8 a week at Marvel predecessor Timely Comics. Two years later, for Kirby and Joe Simon’s Captain America No. 3, he wrote a two-page story titled “The Traitor’s Revenge!” that was used as text filler to qualify the company for the inexpensive magazine mailing rate. He used the pen name Stan Lee.

[Read more here]

Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield, Massachusetts and New England (USA) & “virtually” the world. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.

Elon Musk Smokes Weed On Camera With Joe Rogan And Says He’s An Alien

Image Credit: The Mind Unleashed


By John Vibes | Activist Post

This Thursday night, famous inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast for a long interview where he was able to explore many of his favorite projects and ideas.

“When I watch you doing all these things, I’m like how does this m———– have all this time and all this energy and all these ideas, and then people just let him do these things?” Rogan asked.

“Because I’m an alien,” Musk replied.

Musk turned heads by accepting to hit a joint that was sparked by Rogan during the podcast, causing an uproar among some of his backers and handlers.

“Is that a joint, or is it a cigar?” Musk asked.

“It’s marijuana inside of tobacco,” Rogan replied, then asked if Musk had ever smoked.

“Yeah, I think I tried one once,” Musk said.

“You probably can’t because stockholders,” Rogan said, then asked if Elon would get in trouble if he smoked on camera.

“I mean it’s legal, right?” Musk replied, before accepting the joint.

Moments later, Musk’s phone started going off with angry associates.

“I’m getting text messages from friends saying, ‘What the hell are you doing smoking weed?’” he said.

Musk then quickly clarified that he was not “not a regular smoker of weed” and that he “doesn’t find it’s very good for productivity.”

“It’s like a cup of coffee in reverse,” he added.

Gene Munster, a managing partner at Loup Ventures and backer of Elon Musk’s projects expressed disappointment in an interview with CBS on Friday morning.

“Elon’s actions are making it harder and harder to support Tesla as a company. At the core, we believe he wants to prove his doubters wrong, but many of his actions strengthen the case against him. If he wanted to prove them wrong with actions he would delete Twitter, drop the Unsworth conversation, and not use recreational drugs in a public setting,” Munster said.



U.S. To Host 2026 World Cup, With Neighbors

Image via CBS News

By CBS News

MOSCOW — North America will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA voters overwhelmingly opted for the financial and logistical certainty of a United States-led bid over a risky Moroccan proposal for the first 48-team tournament. The event will return to the U.S. for the first time since 1994 after gaining 134 votes, while Morocco got 65 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wednesday.

The vote by football federations was public, in contrast to secrecy surrounding the ballot by FIFA’s elected board members for the 2018 and 2022 hosts, Russia and Qatar, in 2010.

The U.S. proposed staging 60 out of the 80 games in 2026, when 16 teams will be added to the finals, leaving Canada and Mexico with ten fixtures each. North America will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA voters overwhelmingly opted for the financial and logistical certainty of a United States-led bid over risky Moroccan proposals for the first 48-team tournament.

An optimistic promise of delivering $14 billion in revenue helped sway voters, along with the lack of major construction work required on the 16 planned stadiums, all of which already exist.

By contrast, Morocco appeared too hazardous as a potential host when all 14 venues had to be built or renovated as part of a $16 billion investment in new infrastructure. The vote leaves Morocco reeling from a fifth failure in a World Cup hosting vote, with the continent’s sole tournament coming in 2010 in South Africa. While Morocco’s combined tickets and hospitality revenue would be $1.07 billion, according to FIFA analysis, North America would generate $2 billion additional income.

Canada will host men’s World Cup matches for the first time, while Mexico gets its first taste of the event since staging the entire event in 1986.

The 87,000-capacity MetLife Stadium outside New York is proposed for the final. It’s just miles from where federal prosecutors spearheaded an ongoing investigation into FIFA corruption. More than 40 soccer officials and businesses indicted, convicted or pleaded guilty.

The bribery scandal put the governing body on the brink, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told the congress ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

“FIFA was clinically dead as an organization,” Infantino said, reflecting on his election in 2016. “Two years later, FIFA is alive and well, full of joy and passion and with a vision for its future.”

The North American victory suggests football officials are ready to gather for a World Cup in a country whose government has demonstrated its willingness to jail corrupt sports leaders through undercover investigations. The North America bid also had to overcome concerns about the impact of policies from the Trump administration, including attempts to implement a ban on travel by residents of six majority-Muslim countries.


Benedict Cumberbatch Saved a Cyclist From Muggers, Is Apparently a Real Life Hero

By Elizabeth Logan | Yahoo

Are you ready for an aggressively 21st-century sentence? Benedict Cumberbatch and his Uber driver apparently saved a Deliveroo guy. According to British paper The Sun, Uber driver Manuel Dias picked up the Sherlock Holmes star and his wife Sophie Hunter to take them to a club in London. “I went to turn down into Marylebone High Street and we saw four guys were pushing around a Deliveroo cyclist,” recalled Dias. “My passenger jumped out, ran over and pulled the men away. They turned towards him and things looked like getting worse, so I joined in.”

“I had hold of one lad and Benedict another. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing. He was very brave. He did most of it, to be honest,” said Dias of the incident. It’s unclear exactly how two men fought off four muggers, but it may have helped that one of the rescuers was a huge movie star. “He stood there instructing them in the street, shouting, ‘Leave him alone’…It was only then I recognised Benedict. Then it all got a bit surreal. Here was Sherlock Holmes fighting off four attackers just round the corner from Baker Street,” continued Dias, adding, “They tried to hit him but he defended himself and pushed them away. He wasn’t injured. Then I think they also re­cognised it was Be­ne­dict and ran away.”

See, this is why celebrities shouldn’t ever wear disguises. What if they need to help someone?

[Read more here]

Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield, Massachusetts and New England (USA) & “virtually” the world. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.

Why So Many People Are Mourning the Death of Anthony Bourdain

In death, as in life, Anthony Bourdain brought us closer together.

(ELF Op-ed) — I feel compelled to write about Anthony Bourdain. Not because I feel an otherworldly connection to a celebrity that I never met. Not because I obsessively watched his shows. Not for any reason, really, other than he seemed to be a great guy who seemed to have a great goal with the work he did.

Bourdain, was found dead in his hotel room in France on Friday morning. He was working on new episodes of his show, Parts Unknown.

“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” CNN said in a statement. “His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink, and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”

Bourdain previously struggled with heroin and crack addictions. He is survived by his daughter and girlfriend, Italian actress Asia Argento. Argento spoke out against Harvey Weinstein, accusing the disgraced film producer of rape, with Bourdain’s full support.

In his recent work life, Anthony Bourdain went where others wouldn’t and showed Americans a glimpse of the world they rarely get to see using the common thread of food. Anthony went places like Gaza and Iran and showed Americans that these places are full of living, breathing humans with thoughts, opinions, and favorite meals. He showed the humanity of cultures Americans think of as “them” in the seemingly never ending us vs. them climate this planet seems unable to escape from.

Sure, it was his job. He got paid to do it. But he didn’t have to do it. He could have been judgmental while he did it. He could have refused to go to certain countries. He could have avoided touching certain people. He could have acted like he knew it all. He could have been an ass. But he wasn’t He went to learn and experience and brought us along for the ride. And hopefully he opened some eyes and hearts along the way.

Below are a few quotes, stories, clips and photos of the late Anthony Bourdain.

“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands.You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking… While Henry continues to nibble nori rolls and remaki at A-list parties, Cambodia, the neutral nation he secretly and illegally bombed, invaded, undermined, and then threw to the dogs, is still trying to raise itself up on its one remaining leg.”

Watch: “Iran Is Not What I Expected”

I was really knocked sideways by how well we were treated in Iran and how delicious the food was and how hospitable ordinary people were to us.

Bourdain revealed his Jewish ancestry in the opening monologue of the episode in which he traveled to Israel and Gaza, “I’ll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, socialist, a fascist, CIA agent, and worse.

You can watch Bourdain’s Gaza experience here.

In 2014, Bourdain received an award from the American Muslim Public Affairs Council for his episode on Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank. Bourdain’s acceptance speech was full of wisdom:

I was enormously grateful for the response from Palestinians in particular for doing what seemed to me an ordinary thing, something we do all the time: show regular people doing everyday things, cooking and enjoying meals, playing with their children, talking about their lives, their hopes and dreams. It is a measure I guess of how twisted and shallow our depiction of a people is that these images come as a shock to so many. The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinian people, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity. People are not statistics. That is all we attempted to show. A small, pathetically small step towards understanding.

I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women,” Bourdain wrote in an article published last year. “Not out of virtue, or integrity, or high moral outrage — as much as I’d like to say so — but because late in life, I met one extraordinary woman with a particularly awful story to tell, who introduced me to other extraordinary women with equally awful stories.

In these current circumstances, one must pick a side. I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women. Not out of virtue, or integrity, or high moral outrage — as much as I’d like to say so — but because late in life, I met one extraordinary woman with a particularly awful story to tell, who introduced me to other extraordinary women with equally awful stories.

I don’t really care about what people say about me when I’m gone.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

Support Emma’s work on Patreon!

Op-ed by Emma Fiala / Creative Commons / Steemit

Saying the Hard Things: The Power of Speaking Up | Amanda Springob


Life is not perfect. This is something everyone knows. But for some, accepting the asymmetry of life can be a struggle in itself. In this talk, UWM freshman Amanda Springob shares her coming of age story, detailing the highs and lows of her teenage life in her relationships with men, depression, and small-town fame. Along the way, she examines the importance of speaking up, not just in the public eye, but in our private lives as well. Amanda is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a motivational speaker in the Wisconsin area. In her free time, she enjoys acting in a variety of theatre productions. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://ted.com/tedx

Stephen Lawrence Murder: Police Should ‘Revisit’ MacPherson Lessons

Archbishop of York John Sentamu said he had experienced prejudice in the UK / BBC NEWS



The “very clear” lessons from the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation need to be revisited by every UK police force, the Archbishop of York says.

The black teenager was killed in a racially-motivated attack in Eltham, south London 25 years ago.

The landmark Macpherson Report on the way the case was handled said there had been “institutional racism” in the police and made 72 recommendations.

Dr John Sentamu said police needed more vigilance against racial stereotyping.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “I think the 72 recommendations, which were accepted by the then home secretary, and there was an action plan… I’m afraid it needs to be revisited by every police service so that they learn the lessons that were very clear.”

When asked what needed to be done to improve attitudes that may be considered racist, Dr Sentamu said: “I think it is a question of greater training.

“People need to be more vigilant and people need to realise that if you stereotype people, you end up disadvantaging them.”

He added: “When people are white you assume they are guiltless and when they are black you assume they are guilty – how you get that out of an organisation requires clear vigilance.


Mormons To End Long Association With Boy Scouts of America

In this July 8, 2014 photo, a group of Boy Scouts march during the Salt Lake City’s annual gay pride parade in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Associated Press)


Bradford Betz | FOX News

The Mormon church announced Tuesday it will sever a more than century-old tie with the Boy Scouts of America and transfer its remaining 425,000 boys in the program into a gospel-focused youth group it is developing.

The church’s announcement follows the Boy Scouts’ unprecedented decision in 2015 to allow gay troop leaders and last year, to allow girls in its ranks – both seemingly at odds with the conservative beliefs of the Mormon church.

Last week the BSA announced it will drop the word “Boys” from its name to reflect the inclusion of girls.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints initially said it was “deeply troubled” by the Boy Scouts’ policy change on gays but stayed with the organization after receiving assurances it could appoint troop leaders in accordance with its own religious and moral values.

After the official separation, slated for Dec. 31, 2019, the Mormon church will create its own gospel-based youth program, FOX 13 reported.

In a statement the church said its new youth program will “help all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.”


Harvey Weinstein Arraigned on Rape, Criminal Sex Act Charges

Source: PBS News Hour

Harvey Weinstein has been arraigned and charged with rape and criminal sex act charges. The lawyer for the disgraced film producer says his client intends to plead not guilty to charges of rape and sex abuse, after being taken to a New York courthouse in handcuffs where he posted a $1 million bail.

Royal Family Expresses Thanks After Harry and Meghan’s Radical Day

Meghan Markle, now known as the Duchess of Sussex, chose a dress by Givenchy’s Clare Waight Kellerto marry Prince Harry | CNN

Katie Hunt & Sheena McKenzie | CNN

For Harry and Meghan, it was the morning after the night before. For the rest of Britain, it was a day to reflect on an electrifying wedding that’s being hailed as a transformative moment for the British monarchy.

After a ceremony that shook up royal tradition, a biography of the new Duchess of Sussex has appeared on the website of the British royal family, and it firmly emphasizes her activist credentials. High on the page, in a bold font, is a quote from a speech the then Meghan Markle delivered on International Women’s Day in 2015: “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.”
It is a quote that says much about the newest member of the royal family, whose decision to walk unaccompanied partway down the aisle of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle set the tone for an unconventional royal wedding.
The last public glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was on Saturday evening when they swept out of Windsor Castle in a vintage Jaguar convertible and drove south to Frogmore House, where Harry’s father, Prince Charles, hosted an evening reception for 200 of the couple’s friends and family.
Fireworks lit up the sky as guests, including the tennis star Serena Williams and the Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, celebrated alongside members of the Royal Family.
For the evening reception, Meghan changed into a bespoke, lily-white Stella McCartney high-necked dress. She wore an emerald-cut aquamarine ring that once belonged to Harry’s mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Harry switched into black tie after wearing military dress for the ceremony.
All 600 guests were invited to an afternoon reception, hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Hall. They heard Elton John — who was a friend of the late Princess Diana and played at her funeral — perform three songs, while Harry’s best man, Prince William, acted as compere.
Rather than a conventional sit-down meal, guests were served canapes featuring langoustines and asparagus and “bowl food” that can be eaten standing up. A famously nontraditional lemon-and-elderflower sponge cake chosen by Harry and Meghan was cut and served.

A novel evening soiree, too

In the evening, Harry drove Meghan from Windsor Castle to Frogmore House in a Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero — a vintage E-Type, originally built in 1968, converted to run on electric power. It bore the number plate E19 05 18, the date of the wedding.
In another break with tradition, Meghan is understood to have made a speech at the evening party.
Prince William is reported to have made what was described by British newspaper the Daily Mail as a “naughty” speech. The newspaper reported that midnight snacks of candyfloss and “dirty burgers” were on the menu, along with cocktails called “When Harry met Meghan.”
The couple chose Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” for their first dance, the Telegraph reported.
A guest told the newspaper there was laughter and tears of joy when Prince Harry made a speech.
“He couldn’t get very far, as every time he said ‘my wife’ everyone cheered, and he had to go back to the beginning,” said Veronica German, director of the charity Dolen Cymru Wales Lesotho Link. “It was very funny.”
A friend of Prince Harry told The Sunday Times that Prince Charles “gave the most lovely, moving speech welcoming Meghan to the family.”


Tom Brady, Michael Strahan and Gotham Chopra are Launching a New Sports Media Startup

Image Credit: Tech Crunch

By Jonathan Shieber | TechCrunch

The Super Bowl is over and the stadiums across the country that once held thousands of fans on any given Sunday will be mostly empty in the off-season, but Tom Brady is still at work.

The quarterback who will undeniably go down in NFL history as one of the greatest of all time is already thinking about his next act. Alongside Michael Strahan (another football great who has made the transition into pop cultural icon) and Gotham Chopra — the producer, director and former war correspondent — Brady is launching a new sports media startup.

Called The Religion of Sports, the new startup, which is seeking around $3 million in outside capital, is neither The Players’ Tribune, Derek Jeter’s media platform for athletes to tell their own stories, nor TraceMe, Russell Wilson’s access-focused app for athletes and celebrities.

Instead, Brady, Strahan and Chopra, alongside chief executive Ameeth Sankaran, a former investor with a family office out of Texas and longtime friend of Chopra’s, want to create a multi-platform storytelling business that functions like an old-school studio — dedicated to sports — that tells the best stories in the medium that’s most appropriate for them.

If this seems like a thesis in search of a technology platform, that’s because it is — but it’s impossible to discount the Rolodexes that Strahan, Brady and Chopra (the son of Deepak Chopra) have on hand and the power that their network can wield.

It’s also impossible to discount their dedication to sports… and the stories that can be told through the lens of players and their fans.

For Strahan, who has already made the jump to becoming a capital “C” celebrity, this is another hyphen to add to his multi-hyphenated career of all-star-talk-show-host-business-mogul, but for Brady, who may retire as soon as the end of next season (if the Pats make another Super Bowl appearance), there’s definitely a sense of what will come next.

The crew first came together around five years ago when Brady met Chopra in Los Angeles.
“I think in our very first meeting, he shared with me the idea of Religion of Sports, and I was hooked immediately!,” Brady wrote in an email. “Over the next few years, Gotham and I continued the conversation and the friendship evolved very naturally from there.”

Strahan had enjoyed a long-standing friendship with Brady and through mutual friends was connected with Chopra, who floated the idea of the company to him. The idea resonated. “I love the storytelling aspect and being able to produce content that’s different and inspiring,” Strahan wrote in an email.

While both Brady and Strahan are among the greatest athletes to play the game of football, Chopra brings the eye, and mind, of the ultimate fan.

For him, the inspiration for the company goes back to something out of a Norman Rockwell illustration. Picture an immigrant father and his young son sitting in the stands at Fenway Park, watching the Red Sox take the field. That experience, and the sense of community that it instilled, became a focal point for the younger Chopra and a theme that would recur again and again in his work.

Over a succession of Diet Cokes at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel one afternoon earlier this year, Chopra and Sankaran laid out their vision for the company.

“As more and more momentum was created around ‘The Religion of Sports’ show, Gotham became convinced that it was more than a show — it was a movement,” Sankaran said. “Our first step was to make Tom and Michael not executive producers in the show but partners in the business.”

Think of it as a new media contender to old line properties like ESPN — with celebrity athletes and producers driving the creation of new properties. “We’re hearing in the marketplace an openness for experimentation [and] we’re willing to be innovative around what a business model will look like,” Sankaran says.

For Chopra, sports is the ultimate non-denominational church, and the narratives that are spun through its lens around mythical heroes like Strahan and Brady who perform Herculean feats, or the pilgrimages that fans take to the stadium on game day, hold the same significance as any other liturgy.


‘This Is America’: Breaking Down Childish Gambino’s Powerful New Music Video

Donald Glover / YOUTUBE

Sonia Rao | Washington Post

While hosting “Saturday Night Live,” Donald Glover dropped a music video for the new single “This Is America” by his rapper alter ego Childish Gambino. Watch it once, and your eyes will naturally be drawn to his movements and facial expressions. Watch it again, but focus on the chaos reigning in the background. Watch it a third time, and the reason for this juxtaposition becomes increasingly clear.

Because this is Glover we’re talking about, there’s a surreal element to all that goes on. He and frequent collaborator Hiro Murai — who has directed a number of “Atlanta” episodes, including the haunting “Teddy Perkins” — pack every frame with visual references to racism and related violence in the United States, from Glover mimicking minstrel characters to cellphones recording it all. The video racked up more than 30 million views on YouTube in 48 hours, and sleuths among those viewers have taken to social media to share their interpretations.

Let’s break it down.

(Donald Glover/YouTube)

“This Is America” begins with a man seated in a warehouse, playing a guitar. Many misidentified him as the father of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager killed in 2012. The man is actually Calvin the Second, a Los Angeles-based artist who shared on Instagram that he “got to be a part of history.”

The camera soon finds Glover. He stands behind Calvin the Second, whose head has been covered with a bag, and shoots him with a gun pulled out of his back pocket. As several have pointed out on Twitter, his stance while holding the weapon mimics that of the minstrel character Jim Crow, the origin of the term used to describe pre-Civil rights-era segregation laws.

(Donald Glover/YouTube)

Glover’s erratic dancing, choreographed by Sherrie Silver, distracts from everything happening in the background throughout the video — purposefully so, it would seem. Paired with exaggerated expressions like the one pictured above, his movements further the connection to minstrel shows, a form of entertainment popularized in the early 1800s that mocked black people in the United States. The stock characters were usually played by white people in blackface, though some all-black groups performed under white directors.

(Donald Glover/YouTube)

Glover’s character, who appears to represent how white American culture oppresses black people, periodically kills innocent performers. As a choir joyfully sings the refrain — “Get your money, black man, get your money” — Glover slips out from behind a door and dances in front of the choir. He is handed an assault weapon, shoots all 10 singers and walks away. The imagery evokes the 2015 Charleston church massacre, in which attendees of a prayer service were murdered by self-described white supremacist Dylann Roof.


ILLUMINATE Film Festival’s Industry Programs Break New Ground

The acclaimed ILLUMINATE Film Festival in Sedona, Arizona is back May 30-June 4 and this year’s Conscious Film Convergence (CFC) headliners includes some of the most influential leaders working to advance conscious film content today.  The industry component of the Festival, the CFC is geared to filmmakers and offers attendees an invaluable opportunity to learn from and interact with speakers both at sessions and nightly parties. True to the mission of the festival, the goal off the CFC is to elevate global consciousness through cinema by supporting emerging voices in the field of conscious entertainment.

ILLUMINATE hosts the extraordinary Take Twenty Mentoring Sessions as part of the CFC. The brainchild Festival Founder Danette Wolpert who envisioned what twenty minutes of uninterrupted, full focus, one-on-one time with an industry leader would do for a filmmaker.  Participants can discuss projects, ask questions, pick their brains on finance, marketing, distribution. Take Twenty is only available to Filmmaker, All-Access or Convergence pass holders on a first-come, first-served basis

The series opens on Friday, June 1, with Funding Your Dreams. Moderator JoAnne Fishburn the Founder and CEO Good Influence Films will guide a lively discussion featuring Claire Aguilar the Director of Programming and Policy for the International Documentary Association, filmmaker Lisa Leeman whose films include Awake: The Life of Yogananda, One Lucky Elephant and Crazy Wisdom and Producer and Founder of Mangusta Productions / mangu.tv and  venture capitalist  Giancarlo Canavesio.

This  scintillating group  of experts will share what it takes to get a project out of dreams and onto the screen. Expect insights from their own successes and challenges as they share helpful hints for writing pitch documents, winning grants, landing investors, tapping film funds and leveraging broadcasters.

On Saturday, June 2, the CFC series continues with Pitching With Presence featuring John Raatz the Co-founder of the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment and Valerie Vandermeer the Founder of Post Paradigm Consulting & Scaling Change.  From sabotaging body language to conceiving, crafting and developing a pitch this workshop will show participants how to master one of the most challenging aspects of the film industry.

The series closes with Distribution Magic from 2017’s Finest also on Saturday, June 2Distribution experts will unpack creative approaches as they case study how some of the newest models were used in last year’s conscious film releases HEAL, Walk With Me, and Samsara. They’ll reveal the secrets of success for theatrical, non-theatrical, theatrical-on-demand, DVD, digital/VOD, and re-releases. This exciting panel features the CEO of Conscious Good Trina Wyatt and Producer of HEAL Adam Schomer and CEO of GATHR Films Scott Glosserman.

ILLUMINATE also hosts the extraordinary Take Twenty Mentoring Sessions as part of the CFC. The brainchild Festival Founder Danette Wolpert who envisioned what twenty minutes of uninterrupted, full focus, one-on-one time with an industry leader would do for a filmmaker.  Participants can discuss projects, ask questions, pick their brains on finance, marketing, distribution. Take Twenty is only available to Filmmaker, All-Access or Convergence pass holders on a first-come, first-served basis

Finally The Huddle brings veteran filmmakers, producers, distributors, marketers, publicists, financiers and brand partners face-to-face and heart-to-heart to explore the collective potential to elevate human consciousness.  This collaborative, experiential, dynamic by invitation only event is unprecedented in the film festival world. For more information about The Huddle please contact the ILLUMINATE Film Festival.

ILLUMINATE also hosts a very special filmmaker lab series.  This year they are honored to have Paola Di Florio and Peter Rader facilitating this exciting Filmmaking Lab, “From Source to Screen.” Di Florio and Rader are the filmmakers behind the globally successful Awake: The Life of Yogananda, which won the Audience Award at ILLUMINATE 2014 and went on to a global theatrical release, followed by digital/DVD & Netflix.

To apply for the Filmmaker Lab, please send an E-mail to lab@illuminatefilmfestival.com with “Source to Screen Lab” in subject line. Describe your project in 500 words or less. Include a brief bio, where you are in your process, your goals in bringing your project to the marketplace and what you hope to get out of this lab.  The deadline to apply is May 11th.

For tickets go to: https://illuminatefilmfestival.com/tickets-passes.

ILLUMINATE Film Festival, the world’s premier film festival for conscious cinema will be held May 31-June 4, 2017. CFC events will be held at the Sedona Performing Arts Center, 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road, Sedona, AZ.

For more information, visit www.ILLUMINATEFilmFestival.com.